‘Unlike Some People I Could Mention’: On Transgender Identity and Storytelling

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-boylan/unlike-some-people-i-could-mention-on-transgender-identity-and-storytelling_b_3174776.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

05/06/2013

Last fall I sat down to read my 2003 memoir, She’s Not There, in preparation for a new, 10th-anniversary edition. I returned to that book in the same room in which it had first been written: the study of a summer house, in the heart of winter. From outside came the sound of snow against the window glass, the warp of the water below the ice in Long Pond. I remembered hearing those sounds 10 years before as I sat in that place and looked out the window at the Maine winter, searching for the words to describe my “life in two genders.”

This exercise in time travel put me in mind of an old Amish expression: “Ve are too soon olt und too late schmart.”

I know there are plenty of people who, looking back at their younger selves, have had occasion to think, “Man, what you don’t know could fill a book.” However, I’m unique in that the book filled with the things I don’t know is an actual book.

She’s Not There, allegedly the first bestselling work by a trans American, was the first in a trilogy I wrote about gender. The second, I’m Looking Through You (2008), concerned my parents’ haunted house and the ways in which the living, too, can wind up haunted, especially by the phantoms of their younger selves. The last in the series, Stuck in the Middle With You, hits the shelves this week; it addresses the differences between being a mother and being a father and considers the time when I was betwixt and between the binary poles of gender, the parental version of the schnoodle or the cockapoo.

My boys, who were 6 and 4 when She’s Not There was begun, are now a college freshman and a high school junior, respectively. It’s my hope that having a father who became a woman has, in turn, helped my sons become better men.

Looking back on my life from the vantage point of my 50s, I’m aware that the woman I have become in middle age is perhaps less the result of hormones than of a lifetime spent telling stories. It was the writing of those books that, more than anything else, helped me understand the narrative of my own life, and those of other women like me. This isn’t a truth unique to transgender authors: It’s all of us; we write, at least in part, to learn the meaning of the stories in which we ourselves are the characters.

When I was a teenager I searched the library in vain for the story of a person I might resemble. To whom could I turn? Tiresias? Jan Morris? The Amazing Kreskin? Back then, a trip to the library was fairly certain to result in a book that was wrong about people like me, and not just a little bit wrong, or accidentally wrong, but completely, willfully, shockingly, hilariously wrong. Some of those books are still out there. Just before a recent lecture at a library in Maine, I was stationed in the stacks as I was waiting to go on. Before me, at eye level, I found a book published in the early 1970s about the transgender experience, one that, as far as I could tell, does not contain a single fact. I remembered reading it in college and thinking, “This doesn’t sound right at all.” But at age 19, who was I to challenge the wisdom of a published author, someone who, even though she was not trans herself, was hailed as an expert on the topic?

Without much in the way of dependable narrative or contemporary myth, there were ways in which I felt, in my teens, as if I did not exist. Talk about phantoms: Surely, if there were no books about lives like my own, I was fated to live a life in which I could only be invisible.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-boylan/unlike-some-people-i-could-mention-on-transgender-identity-and-storytelling_b_3174776.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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LGBT supporters of Bradley Manning

From The San Francisco Bay Guardian:  http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/05/02/guest-opinion-lgbt-supporters-bradley-manning

Editor’s note: At least 24 LGBT community leaders and activists have signed on to the following statement in support of Bradley Manning as a Pride grand marshal.

Recently, it was announced that PFC Bradley Manning would be a grand marshal of the 2013 San Francisco Pride Celebration. We felt this decision was a bold and uplifting choice, bestowing a great honor on a young whistleblower being persecuted for following his conscience.

Much to our disappointment, two days later SF Pride board president Lisa Williams issued a separate announcement that the SF Pride board would not be honoring PFC Manning as a grand marshal after all.  It appears the SF pride board’s reversal was affected by criticism from a recently formed gay military rights group.

We want the world to know that the SF Pride board’s decision is not reflective of the LGBTQ community as a whole, and that many of us proudly celebrate PFC Manning as a member of our community.  Unfortunately, the statements by Williams, and the group which originally advocated against PFC Manning as grand marshal, continue to perpetuate certain factual inaccuracies with regards to the military prosecution against him.

The first inaccuracy would be that PFC Manning did not advocate for gay rights.  In fact, while serving in the military, PFC Manning experienced harassment and physical assault because of his perceived sexuality.  He responded by marching against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in the DC pride parade, where he spoke to reporters about his position, in addition to attending a fundraiser with Gavin Newsom and the Stonewall Democrats so he could discuss the issue of homophobia in the military.  He told a friend in February of 2009 that his experience living under DADT and experiencing the oppression that entailed helped increase his interest in politics more generally.

LGBTQ activists fought hard for years to win the right to live free from the fear that we could be targeted with violence deemed acceptable to society at large, simply for being who we are.  We members of the LGBTQ community would like to stand in solidarity with others around the world who still must live in fear of violence and oppression, simply for being born into a particular group.

Continue reading at:  http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/05/02/guest-opinion-lgbt-supporters-bradley-manning

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Why did Komen for the Cure give Nancy Brinker a 64 percent raise?

Yet More Reason to Boycott Komen.

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/05/06/why_did_komen_for_the_cure_give_nancy_brinker_a_64_percent_raise/

Komen, already under fire for shrinking contributions for breast cancer research, paid its CEO $684,000 last year

Last year may have been a very bad year for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but it still was a very good year for its CEO, Nancy Brinker. Extravagantly good.

In 2012, the breast cancer organization ignited a firestorm by announcing it was pulling its funding for breast cancer screenings and services for Planned Parenthood – and then had to hastily and ineptly apologize, then backpedal. It watched as its conspicuously conservative vice president for public policy Karen Handel resigned in the wake of the scandal. It saw registrations for its events decline in Maryland, in Texas and all over the damn place. It squirmed at increasing questions over why an organization that features the words “the cure” so heavily in its promotion, that boasts how its “research investment has changed the breast cancer landscape,” devotes a minuscule and declining portion of its dollars to actually finding one.

Turns out that in 2011, it spent just 15 percent of its donations on research — nearly half of what it did just a few years prior. And, significantly, its founder, Nancy Brinker, the woman whose vow to the sister she lost to cancer has served as the organization’s poignant, relatable narrative, stepped down as its CEO. In August, Brinker announced she was taking on a new role, as chairwoman of the executive committee. (She is, however, still listed as its CEO and founder on the Komen site. Komen says it’s still looking for her replacement.) In short, the whole series of fiascoes was so appalling that Deanna Zandt, author of “Share This! How You Will Change the World With Social Networking,” called the Komen fiasco a teachable “example of what not to do.”

Yet after more than a year of bad publicity and declining participation, Brinker herself seems to be doing just fine. As Cheryl Hall pointed out this weekend in the Dallas Morning News, Brinker made “$684,717 in fiscal 2012, a 64 percent jump from her $417,000 salary from April 2010 to March 2011.” That’s a whole lot of green for all that pink. Hall notes that’s about twice what the organization’s chief financial officer, Mark Nadolny, or former president Liz Thompson were making. And as Peggy Orenstein points out on her blog Monday, it’s considerably more than the average nonprofit CEO salary of $132,739. 

Of course, rewarding CEOs even as they’re bombing out is a way of life in America. Brinker’s salary looks like small potatoes next to, say, the more than, $13 million Hewlett-Packard gave Léo Apotheker just to leave. And Komen told Jim Mitchell at the Dallas Morning News that those figures for Brinker reflect a 2010 salary increase, and that they’re “misleading because of differences between Komen’s fiscal year and the IRS’ calendar year.” Good to bear in mind, but still — that’s a stunning raise to give a person, especially within an organization that has faced scrutiny for its dubious choices in the name of women’s health for some years now.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/05/06/why_did_komen_for_the_cure_give_nancy_brinker_a_64_percent_raise/

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Time to Demand All Birth Control Pills Be Sold Over-the-Counter

From RH Reality Check:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/05/05/time-to-demand-all-birth-control-pills-be-sold-over-the-counter/

by Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
May 5, 2013

In all the fussing over the sale of emergency contraception over-the-counter (OTC), it’s easy to forget that there’s another contraception drug out there that should be available OTC but isn’t: the ordinary, everyday birth control pill. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) thinks birth control pills should be sold OTC. Most other countries sell birth control pills OTC. And now, as ThinkProgress reports, nearly two-thirds of American women say they want the pill sold OTC, and about 30 percent who aren’t currently on the pill would consider going on it if this option was available.

So why can’t we have this, when the public and the medical establishment both think it’s a great idea? Part of it is no doubt the politics of it. As the furor over emergency contraception—which you only take in emergencies (and don’t need if you’re consistent with your birth control pills)—demonstrates, the idea of women being able to prevent pregnancy easily sets off all sorts of irrational reactions in this country. You should have to struggle for it to prove you deserve to be not-pregnant, because … mmmph that’s why. The religious right already believes that contraception is too easy to get, which is why they’ve been attacking it with so much vigor lately. Trying to make birth control pills available OTC would set off a political firestorm that would make the emergency contraception wars look like mere skirmishes.

Still, for women’s health, I believe that’s a fight that pro-choicers would be happy to have (though maybe not the folks in the Obama administration trying to maintain the ruse that they better understand medical risk than researchers and doctors). The problem here, however, is that there’s still a widespread belief that birth control pills need to be prescription-only in order to make sure women go to their doctors. Unlike many of the other countries that have the pill available OTC, the United States doesn’t have universal health care (yet, though in 2014, we may see this shift dramatically due to Obamacare), which means that doctors have a uniquely difficult time in this country encouraging women to go to the doctor regularly. The argument is that we need to use the pill as bait to make sure women are going to their doctor—or to a local Planned Parenthood—to get their check-ups.

It’s a tempting argument, but something that needs to be tossed out for a number of reasons. First and foremost, as pro-choicers we need to adhere closely to the principle of supporting a woman’s right to the ultimate authority over her own health care. If birth control pills are safe enough to be sold OTC, then it’s up to a woman to decide if she wants a doctor’s supervision to take them, just as we allow individuals to make that determination with other drugs, like allergy medications or pain killers.

Continue reading at:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/05/05/time-to-demand-all-birth-control-pills-be-sold-over-the-counter/

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How ‘Slut Shaming’ Has Been Written Into School Dress Codes Across The Country

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/05/06/1969001/slut-shaming-dress-codes/

By Annie-Rose Strasser and Tara Culp-Ressler
on May 6, 2013

Last month, a New Jersey middle school banned girls from wearing strapless dresses to prom. Administrators claimed that the dresses were “distracting” — though they refused to specify exactly how or why. Parents reacted strongly to the rule; some supported the dress code while others deemed it “slut-shaming.” On Friday, the school compromised by allowing girls to wear single-strap or see-through-strap dresses.

This is no isolated incident in the United States. Across the country, young girls are being told what not to wear because it might be a “distraction” for boys, or because adults decide it makes them look “inappropriate.” At its core, every incident has a common thread: Putting the onus on young women to prevent from being ogled or objectified, instead of teaching those responsible to learn to respect a woman’s body. Here are five other recent examples:

1. A middle school in California banned tight pants. At the beginning of last month, a middle school in Northern California began telling girls to avoid wearing pants that are “too tight” because it “distracts the boys.” At a mandatory assembly for just the female students, the middle school girls were told that they’re no longer allowed to wear leggings or yoga pants. “We didn’t think it was fair how we have all these restrictions on our clothing while boys didn’t have to sit through [the assembly] at all,” one student told local press. Some parents also complained, leading the school’s assistant principal to record a voicemail explaining the new policy. “The guiding principle in all dress codes is that the manner in which students dress does not become a distraction in the learning environment,” the message said.

2. A high school principal in Minnesota emailed parents to ask them to cover up their daughters. A principal in Minnetonka, MN recently wrote an email telling parents to stop letting their daughters wear leggings or yoga pants to school. He says the tight-fitting pants are fine with longer shirts but, when worn with a shorter top, a girl’s “backside” can be “too closely defined.” The big risk of having a defined backside, he thinks, is that it can “be highly distracting for other students.”

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/05/06/1969001/slut-shaming-dress-codes/

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Rumble – How young is too young for Plan B?

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Paul Krugman’s call to arms against austerity

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/may/06/paul-krugman-battle-against-austerity

An interview with the Nobel prize-winning economist, whose book roundly attacks the ‘delusional’ deficit-reduction strategy

, economics correspondent
The Guardian, Monday 6 May 2013

Paul Krugman has just passed the landmark 1 million followers on Twitter. Not bad for an academic economist, albeit one with a Nobel prize under his arm, a prominent position at Princeton University, and a New York Times blog.

His following is a reward for battling the conventional wisdom that austerity can foster a recovery. From the moment Lehman Brothers was allowed to crash, it seemed that only Krugman, his compatriot Joseph Stiglitz, another Nobel prizewinner for the liberal cause, and New York professor Nouriel Roubini, who had loudly predicted the crash, consistently confronted the “austerians” in Washington, Brussels and the UK Treasury.

More than four years on, austerity is being questioned as never before, not least because most countries implementing a deficit-reduction policy have failed to grow. Krugman, his blog and comments on Twitter, have become the focal point for objectors worldwide.

Speaking to the Guardian to publicise the second edition of his book End This Depression Now, he argues that his battle will go on until policymakers realise that their reliance on deficit reduction is a “delusional” misreading of basic economics. But despite his persistent criticism, austerity remains the default position for most western governments.

For such a sophisticated thinker, Krugman’s solution – which upsets some liberal supporters – is straightforward. Asked if he is concerned a splurge of borrowing will trigger a repeat of the financial bubbles that caused the crash and spur inflation as too much money chases too few goods, he is dismissive. “As far as planting the seeds of the next crisis, bear in mind that leverage is still falling, so I don’t see the problem at this point,” he says.

In Krugman’s view, concerns about ageing populations, looming health costs, the changing nature of the workforce in a digital age and competition from Asian economies for jobs, are for another time. “Should we be having more spending? The answer must be yes. Why? Because there is plenty of slack in the labour market and investment needs to increase. To me it is clear that there is plenty of room to increase spending without increasing inflation.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/may/06/paul-krugman-battle-against-austerity

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