Hey, Conservative Mom, I Don’t Like ‘Gender Bender Day’ Either

From Tranifesto:  http://tranifesto.com/2013/05/27/hey-conservative-mom-i-dont-like-gender-bender-day-either/

by Matt Kailey
May 27, 2013

A Milwaukee mom refused to send her seven-year-old son to the Tippecanoe School for the Arts and Humanities on the day that the school originally tagged as “Gender Bender Day” – when boys were supposed to wear “girl” clothes and girls were supposed to wear “boy” clothes – according to the Wisconsin School Reformer. Amid complaints, the school eventually changed the name to “Switch It Up Day,” which is actually kind of funny considering the sexual connotations of the word “switch.”

Regardless, Deidri Hernandez was pissed and said that she did not want her son exposed to this apparent promotion of “homosexuality” in schools. She then went on to confuse sexual orientation with gender identity by saying, “They might as well call it Transgender Day.” She also complained about how liberals and atheists have the ear of the school, but others do not.

Well, Ms. Hernandez, I’m one of those liberals and atheists who are apparently so powerful and influential, and the truth is that I don’t like the idea of “Gender Bender Day” or “Switch Hitter Day” or whatever you want to call it either – but for very different reasons:

This activity assumes that there are only two genders and only two acceptable ways to express them – probably a dress and makeup for girls and pants and maybe beard stubble for boys. There are no gray areas here, and it is likely that no alternative options for gender expression will be discussed.

Most girls wear pants to school now anyway, at least some of the time, so the real “delight” of this day will be boys in dresses that everyone gets to laugh about and make fun of. Far from promoting “homosexuality,” an event like this instead promotes gay and trans bashing – “Wow, John, you sure look pretty in that dress. Who knew you were so gay?” “Albert, that dress fits you perfectly. Is it your mom’s or is it yours?” “Joe, you look so good in those high heels that I would date you – but I’m not a f*g!”

This might be okay for the popular boys and the jocks, who get to step back into their acceptable “masculine” persona the next day. But what about the nerdy guys or the shy guys or the guys who don’t exude the traditional masculinity that is expected of them, particularly at a middle school age (the school include grades K-8)?

Continue reading at:  http://tranifesto.com/2013/05/27/hey-conservative-mom-i-dont-like-gender-bender-day-either/

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Why the Boy Scouts’ New Gay Policy Is Not a Win

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brynn-tannehill/why-the-boy-scouts-new-gay-policy-is-not-a-win_b_3329540.html


Usually compromise in the realm of politics means the ball is moving forward. President Clinton’s strategy of triangulation was the epitome of it. Most people who work on LGBT issues also have to live with solutions that are far from ideal. They often embrace a philosophy of “half a loaf is better than none, and we will get the other half later.” Frequently they’re right. Sometimes they’re wrong. As a trans person, I tend to cast a rather jaundiced eye on opportunities for that philosophy to fail.

For example, when I was meeting with a group of LGBT activists in Ohio, the question of why a push for an employment nondiscrimination bill should come before a push for marriage equality was raised. “Employment equality is easier to convince people of than marriage equality and has come first in every state with marriage equality,” noted one (cisgender) woman.

I couldn’t hold back at that point.

“No, not really,” I replied. “New York passed marriage equality last year, and they have failed to deliver on workplace protections based on gender identity for over 10 years now. The workplace protections they passed back in 2003 didn’t include trans people.”

This sense of history tinged with cynicism makes me see the Boy Scouts of America’s admission of gay scouts under the age of 18 as something that will to set the fight for equality back a very long time and do a lot of damage in the interim.

Last month, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially endorsed the BSA’s new “young gays OK, grown-up gays bad” position, I pricked up my ears. First, given the influence of the LDS Church on the BSA, I became convinced that this new policy would pass. However, I asked myself, “What does this organization have to gain from it?”

Simply put: everything. Scouting is the official youth activity of boys in the LDS Church, so the BSA and the LDS Church are intimately connected. Meanwhile, the BSA had been hemorrhaging corporate sponsors because of its previous ban on both gay adult leaders and gay scouts. Appearing to make concessions, without really changing anything, has been a big part of the LDS Church’s post-Proposition 8 marketing campaign. (Literally. They hired two big-name firms to give their image a facelift.) If this latest “concession” slows down, or stops, corporations from pulling their support, it will allow the BSA to delay allowing adults who are LGBT into the organization for a long time.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brynn-tannehill/why-the-boy-scouts-new-gay-policy-is-not-a-win_b_3329540.html

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Fallon Fox, MMA’s First Trans Fighter, Wins First Match

From The Advocate:   http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2013/05/26/fallon-fox-mmas-first-trans-fighter-wins-first-match

On Friday, the transgender woman won her first professional mixed martial arts match since coming out in March.

BY Sunnivie Brydum
May 26 2013

Fallon Fox, the first openly transgender woman to complete in professional Mixed Martial Arts, on Friday won her first match since coming out as trans in March, reports OutSports.

In a Championship Fighting Alliance 11 bout in Florida, Fox squared off against Allanna Jones, who entered the ring accompanied by Aerosmith’s song “Dude Looks Like a Lady.” Fox’s entrance was met with a chorus of boos, reports OutSports‘s Cyd Zeigler.

Nevertheless, Fox prevailed, winning each individual round, and securing her victory in the third round with a powerful knee-to-the-throat move. Fox will next face Ashlee Evans-Smith in a June championship match, where the prize will be $20,000.

Complete article at:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2013/05/26/fallon-fox-mmas-first-trans-fighter-wins-first-match

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No, LGBT People Are Not Richer Than Straights

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-francisco-maulbeck/no-lgbt-people-are-not-ri_b_3322306.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


This past Monday, the Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article by Raymund Flandez entitled, “As Wedding Bells Ring, Charities Seek Support From Newly Visible Same-Sex Couples.”

Despite the title, the article has little to do with the freedom to marry. It focuses on the idea that gay couples are wealthier than straight couples and have “extra cash” that nonprofits should pursue. It leads with a quote from Stephen Phelps, a gay donor who says, “No matter who you are, you are missing an opportunity if you’re not reaching out to this diverse group because gay men have money and lots of it. Lord Dorothy, we’ve got money.”

The idea that gays are wealthier than straights is an inaccurate stereotype that undermines the struggle for equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The best data we have on this is from a study conducted by Gallup in partnership with the Williams Institute, based on interviews with more than 120,000 people–the largest survey of LGBT Americans ever conducted, and by far the most robust methodologically. This study found that LGBT people are poorer than the population at large: 35 percent of LGBT adults have incomes of less than $24,000 a year, compared to 24 percent for the general population.

It’s unfortunate that the Chronicle didn’t include a caveat about the evidence of high levels of poverty in LGBT communities, and instead cherry-picked data from the Census indicating that gay couples earn more than straights.

I’m sure Flandez and the Chronicle meant no malice. To be fair, the statistic they cite is true: same-sex couples in which both partners work do indeed have higher median household incomes than straight couples in which both partners work. But the specificity of the statistic is a sign that it doesn’t tell the full story about gay people and wealth.

The Census is not the best source for understanding the LGBT population, since it only captures those who are in couples–and often reveals more about gender inequality than anything else. For example, lesbian couples (unmentioned in the Chronicle piece) have lower household incomes than straight couples. That’s not surprising at all, since women on average make less than men. Census data also show that gay men in couples have lower individual incomes than do men in straight couples.

The most pernicious thing about the gay-wealthy stereotype is that it has been used for decades to rationalize the systematic marginalization of LGBT people. Just a few weeks ago, when the Supreme Court heard arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act, Chief Justice Roberts asked, “You don’t doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same-sex-marriage laws … is politically powerful, do you?” His implicit assumption is that gays are wealthy and powerful, and therefore do not warrant what jurists call “strict scrutiny” in cases of equal protection. The stereotype that gay people are wealthy is serving as a potential rationalization for continued discrimination.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ben-francisco-maulbeck/no-lgbt-people-are-not-ri_b_3322306.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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How the Government Targeted Occupy

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15028/how_the_government_targeted_occupy/

A new report reveals the U.S. spent millions spying on Occupiers and other anti-corporate activists.

BY Lisa Graves
May 21, 2013

Freedom of conscience is one of the most fundamental human freedoms. This freedom is not merely about one’s ability to choose to believe or not believe in religion or a particular philosophy. In a democracy, freedom of conscience is about the ability to be critical of government and corporations, and to be free from the chilling fear that being critical will subject you to government surveillance.

Freedom of conscience is not fully realized in isolation. Without the ability to share one’s thoughts, to speak out about injustice, or to join with others in peaceably assembling to petition for redress of grievances, this core freedom is not truly free. Americans should be able to exercise these most sacred rights in free society without worry of being monitored by the government.

In our new report, “Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, in Partnership with Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street,” written by Center for Media and Democracy contributor and DBA Press publisher Beau Hodai, we detail several ways in which our tax dollars are being squandered on law enforcement—or so-called “homeland security”personnel monitoring Americans who dare to voice dissent against the extraordinary influence that some of the world’s most powerful corporations have on on our elected officials.

Through this investigation we have documented:

  • How U.S. Department of Homeland Security-funded “fusion center” personnel have spent endless hours gleefully monitoring their fellow Americans though Facebook and other social media, and how fusion centers nationwide have expended countless hours and tax dollars in the monitoring of Occupy Wall Street, bank activists and civil libertarians concerned about national security powers.
  • How some of these “counter terrorism” government employees applied facial recognition technology, drawing from a state database of driver’s license photos, to photographs found on Facebook in the effort to profile citizens believed to be associated with activist groups.
  • How corporations have become part of the “information sharing environment” with law enforcement/intelligence agencies through various public-private intelligence sharing partnerships—and how, through these partnerships, the homeland security apparatus has been focused on citizens protesting these corporations.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15028/how_the_government_targeted_occupy/

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President Obama and the media: a game of flattery and deceit

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/24/obama-ap-real-press-freedom-issue-journalist-indifference

The greatest threat to US freedom of the press isn’t incarceration or even a White House investigation, it’s indifference

guardian.co.uk, Friday 24 May 2013

It’s difficult to say who’s happier about the recent spate of troubles in the Obama White House, specifically the revelations about administration investigations into the activities of news organizations and individual journalists. Is it the Republicans, whose glee has finally found a source that doesn’t coincide with the misery of every day Americans? (That’s the problem with pegging your campaigns to Obama’s inability to get the economy going – you have to actively block his attempts to get the economy going). Or is it the press that’s the truly delighted party here, as they have finally found a narrative that is as critical of the Obama administration as it is laudatory of their own role in the great pageant of democracy?

President Obama and his team may overstep its bounds in attempts to squash individual stories, but it’s the cozy culture of Washington favor-trading that makes the protections of the First Amendment irrelevant.

Most of the time, being a reporter means taking crap from people. I’ve never held to the truism that pissing off “both sides” means you’re somehow doing the job correctly. For one thing, it suggests that there’s just two sides to any story, and while I do think the world can be divided into just two groups if you want, it’s not the “left and right” that matter so much as the “haves and have-nots”.

But it is true that doing the job correctly does not directly translate into praise. A reporter that’s regularly doing a really great job reporting is mostly tolerated by the powers that be and largely unnoticed by the public at large. The kinds of information that are the greatest threat to those in power don’t have to do with secrets so much as process; they detail the crimes against democracy that take place daily, not in the cover of night. They are not blockbuster stories; they are largely sleepers.

Indeed, Project Censored’s annual list of “most censored” stories is, invariably, a collection of articles that were censored so much as to be passed over: the role of slave-wage labor in the US economy (and how the military abets it), the widening gap in wealth between our elected representatives and those that elected them, the way that private philanthropy has usurped parents in shaping public education.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/may/24/obama-ap-real-press-freedom-issue-journalist-indifference

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Kansas lawmaker opposes ‘encouraging the behavior of purchasing food’ with lower food taxes

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/24/kansas-lawmaker-opposes-encouraging-the-behavior-of-purchasing-food-with-lower-food-taxes/

By David Edwards
Friday, May 24, 2013

A Republican state lawmaker in Kansas says that he opposes cutting the taxes on groceries because it would be a form of “social engineering” that encourages people to buy food over other items.

The Kansas state Senate on Thursday voted to cut the state sales tax on food from 6.3 percent to 4.95 percent, but Sen. Jeff Melcher (R) led opposition against the measure, arguing that it would lead to people eating more.

“It seems to me we are encouraging the behavior of purchasing food and discouraging the behavior of purchasing anything else,” Melcher reportedly told his colleagues.

The lawmaker pointed out that the state already had programs to help get food to poor people, and that creating two different tax rates would be additional “complexity” for retailers.

“It seems to me it provides a complexity in the tax code that the retailers will have to deal with,” he explained, according to The Wichita Eagle.

The Senate plan sets up a showdown with the Kansas House, which has proposed that state sales taxes be set at a rate of 6 percent. By law, sales taxes were scheduled to drop to 5.7 percent in July, but Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has called to keep the current rate of 6.3 percent to make up for last year’s income tax cuts. Brownback is also asking the Legislature for additional income tax cuts this year.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/24/kansas-lawmaker-opposes-encouraging-the-behavior-of-purchasing-food-with-lower-food-taxes/

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