The Pentagon Recognizes Transgender Service Member


by Mari Haywood
Monday, May 27, 2013

Blogger and LGBT advocate Autumn Sandeen has become the first transgender service member to publicly have her gender marker changed on all military documents.

For the first time, the Pentagon has recognized a transgender service member by updating its records to reflect her gender identity.. There are transgender people currently serving in the military, although they are rare. Sandeen feels that the Pentagon’s actions show there are officials in the Department of Defense who do recognize the needs of transgender service members. Sitting down for an interview with GLAAD, Sandeen expressed that although the military at its current state today is far from transgender inclusion due to “bathroom bill stuff” and other issues, there are transgender servicemembers who are actively and successfully serving today.

Although appreciative of the Pentagon’s progressive steps, Sandeen says she will now push for gender markers to be changed on “Historical documents including the DD-Form-214- the certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.”

“I would say that it is a very early and very small step in a long process to achieve our goals here,” OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson told Buzzfeed, “but, it is significant, as the earliest steps always are, because it reflects a shift, even if it is a small one, in the way that transgender people are viewed within the institution of the United States military.”

In 2010 the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” gave LGB military service members the right to serve their country openly, but did not grant the same right to transgender military members. According to guidelines set forth by the military, transgender persons cannot be admitted or discharged due to medical regulations and conduct regulations.

-Even if the candidate has not had surgery but openly identifies as transgender, the military considers this to be a disqualifying psychiatric condition, labeling “transsexualism” and “transvestism” as “psychosexual conditions.”

-The military medical system does not recognize the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders and will not provide transition-related medical care. 

– Wearing clothing the military does not consider gender-appropriate is considered “cross-dressing” by the military and is generally addressed in regulations governing conduct.

-Transgender persons in the inactive reserve who are in the process of transitioning may be confronted with the need to halt this process if they are recalled. Recall to active duty places them directly under the regulatory requirements discussed above. Therefore, these service members may need to consider ceasing or interrupting their transition while they complete their active service requirement. Alternatively, transitioning or post-transitioning reservists may be medically disqualified for continued service once they are called back to active duty and medically examined.

Transgender people based on the above guidelines set forth by the military are systemically discriminated against. Sandeen says the Pentagon’s actions are a symbolic event that will encourage thousands of other transgender servicemembers and veterans to seek to update their military documents and identification cards. Although open transgender service by military law is forbidden, many feel that inclusion in the military is inevitable, and would only benefit our nation’s security, as it would allow the best and brightest to serve, regardless of gender identity.

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The Dallas Principles, Four Years On

From Huffington Post:


Four years ago 24 activists met in Dallas to promulgate The Dallas Principles, a manifesto to guide and encourage the LGBT community in what had the potential to be a new era in American progressive politics. From May 15 to 17, in a nondescript airport hotel basement near the center of the country, we challenged one another to distill the passions that had taken us to Dallas, passions reified by the election of a Democratic president to join a Democratic Congress with a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Those were heady days, days when the clouds had parted, anything was possible and we were thrilled to sit and debate with one another into the early-morning hours the values we hoped would channel our national organizations, create more inclusion within them and set a standard for our call to the American people that the time had come for full equality. It was in no way a criticism of the nascent administration but a clarion call to people who had waited far too long for crumbs of progress.

We accomplished our goal that weekend in Dallas. Today the eight principles stand on their own, supported by many advocates and leaders. Though there have been some criticisms, most persons active in the movement found little to disdain or dismiss.

Here are those principles:

In order to achieve full civil rights now, we avow

1. Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now. Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.

2. We will not leave any part of our community behind.

3. Separate is never equal.

4. Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.

5. The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.

6. Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.

7. Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.

8. Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.

At the time, I said, “There’s a tipping point out there somewhere and we’re a lot closer to it today than we were eight months ago. We want to inspire people to mobilize themselves. This isn’t the inspiration to get them to do it, but maybe it’s just the extra push.” So, four years later, how have the Dallas Principles held up? More importantly, how have we held up? While we were very hopeful, our hope was also tempered by the reality through which most of us had lived. We had been trained to live with The Struggle, to expect failure, repeated failures, to see victory as the Promised Land, personally unattainable though fervently desired.

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The Istanbul Convention excludes transsexuals

From West:

by Ilaria Lonigro

The Istanbul Convention will help prevent gender violence against women and domestic violence against women and children, but not gender and domestic violence against transsexuals. Yet, these people are those who most suffer gender discrimination in Italy, starting with the impossibility of finding a job.

The heart of the controversy lies in Art. 3 – focused on definitions – and particularly in a word: “gender”. “The term “gender” – as you can read in the Convention text – is referred to as socially-built roles, behaviour, activities and attributes that a specific society judges appropriate for women and men.” If the separating line is in the roles that our society considers as “appropriate”, transsexuals are obviously excluded by the treaty introduced by the European Council in Istanbul in 2011 and today ratified by 4 countries: Albania, Montenegro, Portugal and Turkey. Italy will join them soon, as soon as the convention will be voted by the upper-chamber of parliament, or senate.

Some people, like MP Paola Binetti, of the Civil Choice party (Scelta Civica), set an agenda against the introduction of the term “gender”: “In a positive climate, my agenda was approved (…) Actually, we didn’t feel the need to introduce the notion of gender in a treaty which draws attention on women, as individuals clearly opposed to men: the first as victims, the latter as attackers.”

Is the Istanbul convention a half-completed conquest then? We interviewed Porpora Marcasciano, National President of M.I.T. (Transsexual Identity Movement).

What’s your view on the controversy over the notion of “gender”?

Unfortunately, Italy suffers a little secular culture that jeopardizes the country’s life. And it ranks first in Europe for violence against transsexuals. The question is: why? There are no genetic reasons behind it, but a rooted cultural bias.

How ranks gender in our legal system?

Gender is either male or female, that’s it. Gender definition in Italy has remained unchanged.

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Validity Question Looms for Some Trans People Who Marry

Marriage equality is important for the protection of TS/TG people’s marriages.

From The Advocate:

One divorce demonstrates the precarious legal state for many transgender people who marry.

BY Trudy Ring
May 31 2013

A judge’s denial of a divorce for Thomas Beatie is a stark reminder for transgender people to make sure their marriages are recognized as legally valid. Beatie is a transgender man who the media once heralded as the first pregnant man, though he was merely the first trans man to widely publicize the pregnancy.

In late March a judge in Arizona ruled that Beatie and his wife, Nancy Roberts Beatie, could not be granted a divorce because they could not be considered legally married. Maricopa County Family Court judge Douglas Gerlach said there was insufficient evidence that Beatie was male when the couple married in Hawaii in 2003, although Hawaii considered them a legally married, opposite-sex couple; they moved to Arizona in 2010. Beatie is appealing the ruling, saying it fails to recognize his gender identity, that he wants his children to know their parents were legally married, and that he fears complications if he wants to marry again.

Before his marriage, Beatie had undergone top surgery, that is, a double mastectomy, and he had taken testosterone since 1997. He changed all his legal paperwork to reflect his transition from female to male, but he retained his female reproductive organs and bore three children during his marriage to Nancy; he had stopped taking testosterone around 2006 in order become pregnant, as Nancy had had a hysterectomy. Gerlach cited the cessation of the hormone treatment in his ruling and also said Beatie had not provided documentation of other nonsurgical efforts he had undertaken to effect his gender transition.

The ruling is a limited one “because the facts in the case are so specific,” says Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Minter, who is not involved in the case but has expertise in such matters, says that while this ruling is particular to the Beaties and does not set a precedent, it does drive home the need for additional legal precautions for married couples in which at least one partner is transgender.

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As FBI Seeks Capture of Assata Shakur, NAACP Head Calls For U.S. Truth & Reconciliation Commission

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The Occupy Spirit Lives on in New Economy Initiatives

From Mediapart:

Par Mark White
28 mai 2013

The crisis of 2008 was one of those rare moments that revealed the corruption of our economic systems in the starkest way. We watched the near total collapse of the international banking system and the  no-holds-barred rescue by the elites that followed. A ‘rescue’ that left  the  vast majority of people with less of everything.

In the U.S. the Occupy movement sprang up, seemingly out of nowhere and to the total surprise and befuddlement of many – particularly those in the main stream media.  For a brief moment it seemed that the bread and circuses that had previously diverted us so effectively would lose their hold. An amazing possibility, particularly here in the U.S. where we don’t have much of a tradition of taking to the streets. Occupy was promptly repressed in no uncertain way. But if it had one clear success it was that it confirmed for many of us that we were not alone – the wave of emotion that spread spontaneously at the Occupy news was a reassuring sign that many shared the same views.

This deeply frustrated sentiment is beginning to find a positive outlet in a growing wave of creative new economic initiatives that are springing up in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. They run the gamut from various ‘buy local’ ideas, local investing, alternative currencies, donation based crowd funding, equity crowdfunding, sharing, collaborative consumption, worker controlled enterprises, coops and other ideas that are not yet being widely discussed.

People are incubating their initiatives often in isolation from each other.  But a so called ‘new economy’ that depends on smart people endlessly reinventing the wheel can never match the existing corporatist system unless ‘local’ can find a way to become ‘global’.

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Noam Chomsky in conversation with Jonathan Freedland

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Noam Chomsky: The Kind of Anarchism I Believe in, and What’s Wrong with Libertarians

From Alternet:

Anarchism “assumes that the burden of proof for anyone in a position of power and authority lies on them,” explains Chomsky.

By Michael S. Wilson, Noam Chomsky
May 28, 2013

The following is the adapted text of an interview that first appeared in Modern Success magazine.So many things have been written about, and discussed by, Professor Chomsky, it was a challenge to think of anything new to ask him:  like the grandparent you can’t think of what to get for Christmas because they already have everything.

So I chose to be a bit selfish and ask him what I’ve always wanted to ask him.  As an out-spoken, actual, live-and-breathing anarchist, I wanted to know how he could align himself with such a controversial and marginal position.

Michael S. Wilson: You are, among many other things, a self-described anarchist — an anarcho-syndicalist, specifically.  Most people think of anarchists as disenfranchised punks throwing rocks at store windows, or masked men tossing ball-shaped bombs at fat industrialists.  Is this an accurate view?  What is anarchy to you?

Noam Chomsky: Well, anarchism is, in my view, basically a kind of tendency in human thought which shows up in different forms in different circumstances, and has some leading characteristics.  Primarily it is a tendency that is suspicious and skeptical of domination, authority, and hierarchy.  It seeks structures of hierarchy and domination in human life over the whole range, extending from, say, patriarchal families to, say, imperial systems, and it asks whether those systems are justified.  It assumes that the burden of proof for anyone in a position of power and authority lies on them.  Their authority is not self-justifying.  They have to give a reason for it, a justification.  And if they can’t justify that authority and power and control, which is the usual case, then the authority ought to be dismantled and replaced by something more free and just.  And, as I understand it, anarchy is just that tendency.  It takes different forms at different times.

Anarcho-syndicalism is a particular variety of anarchism which was concerned primarily, though not solely, but primarily with control over work, over the work place, over production.  It took for granted that working people ought to control their own work, its conditions, [that] they ought to control the enterprises in which they work, along with communities, so they should be associated with one another in free associations, and … democracy of that kind should be the foundational elements of a more general free society.  And then, you know, ideas are worked out about how exactly that should manifest itself, but I think that is the core of anarcho-syndicalist thinking.  I mean it’s not at all the general image that you described — people running around the streets, you know, breaking store windows — but [anarcho-syndicalism] is a conception of a very organized society, but organized from below by direct participation at every level, with as little control and domination as is feasible, maybe none.

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The Problem Is Capitalism

From In These Times:

Only radical reforms will solve neoliberalism’s crisis of democracy.

BY Joseph M. Schwartz and Maria Svart
May 27, 2013

In “Lean Socialist: Why Liberalism Needs Socialism—and Vice Versa” (May 2013), Bhaskar Sunkara calls for the rebirth of a socialist movement that would work alongside liberals for immediate gains for working people, while simultaneously offering a vision of a socialist society that would extend democracy into the economic sphere. And, at the same time, that movement would fight for the structural reforms most likely to lead towards that goal. We at Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), including our founding co-chair Michael Harrington, have always embraced this strategy. The problem? Socialists became indistinguishable from liberals because the liberals and a strong labor movement disappeared, swept away when “the tides of neoliberalism moved in.” As Barbara Ehrenreich frequently noted in the 1990s, with liberals and social democrats endorsing Clinton’s and Blair’s “kinder, gentler” dismantling of the welfare state, socialists were often the last defenders of the liberal gains of the 1930s and 1960s. But to go beyond liberalism, we absolutely agree with Sunkara that work must be done alongside movement activists, rather than so-called liberal technocrats. Socialists need to teach the liberals to fight once again. But how?

First, we must remind liberals of history. Before social democracy retreated, socialists foresaw the dangers of insufficiently radical reforms. In the 1970s and 1980s, European socialist theorists such as Nicos Poulantzas and Andre Gorz joined Harrington in warning that if the Left failed to socialize control over investment, the corporate drive for profit would lead capital to abandon the “social contract” compromise of the welfare state. Socialist governments in France, Sweden and elsewhere pushed for democratizing investment. But capital immediately fought back, beginning with the CIA-aided overthrow of the Allende regime in Chile in 1973 and continuing with French capital’s strike of the early 1980s. In the face of the onslaught, democracy and old-style liberalism began to crumble. This time around, liberals must recognize the true enemy and embrace radical reforms. Socialists will be there to push them to do so.

Second, we must remind liberals that racism and the center and Right’s use of a racialized politics played a central role in the rise of neoliberal capitalism. Thatcher’s and Reagan’s opportunistic attack on income-based child support for single mothers (aka “welfare”) played a major role in constructing a right-wing majority. Though the main beneficiaries of means-tested “welfare” were white, Clinton passed “welfare reform” to rein in mythical, non-white “welfare queens.” This distracted the public from Corporate America’s job-killing deindustrialization and outsourcing policies. So, since conscious socialists are but a small part of the American public, how do we build the revived Left that Sunkara calls for? Clearly, we need an anti-racist radical movement capable of refuting pervasive myths about the U.S. welfare state. The emergence of a militant immigrant rights movement and low-wage workers movement will be central to a Left and labor revival, as will the resistance of underemployed and indebted college graduates.

We take heart along with Sunkara that younger people are favorable (or at least open) in their attitudes toward socialism. But 30 years of neoliberal capitalist state policies have fostered a deep skepticism about politics. Many find it hard to envision mass movements winning reforms in state policy that would improve their lives. Sunkara is right to issue his impassioned plea to “Lean Socialist,” and young people are joining the socialist movement, in part due to the invaluable intellectual work that he and his colleagues carry out at Jacobin magazine.

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Monsanto’s ‘Genetic Pollution’ Threatens US Wheat Industry

From Common Dreams:

“Our trading partners do not want genetically modified wheat”

Andrea Germanos

The U.S. wheat industry is reaping the swift global repercussions of the genetic pollution caused by Monsanto’s rogue glyphosate-resistant wheat on an Oregon farm.

“This will have an impact worldwide, because our trading partners do not want genetically modified wheat,” Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, told Bloomberg.

Katsuhiro Saka, a counselor at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, added, “In most countries the unapproved genetically modified wheat would be a target of concern.”

Already, as the New York Times reports,

Japan and South Korea suspended some imports of American wheat, and the European Union urged its 27 nations to increase testing, after the United States government disclosed this week that a strain of genetically engineered wheat that was never approved for sale was found growing in an Oregon field.

Seed giant Monsanto tested its genetically engineered (aka genetically modified) glyphosate-resistant wheat variety between 1998 and 2005 in 16 states.

But fear of such international backlash is what prompted Monsanto to abandon its GE wheat project, as Emma Hedman explains in Friends of the Earth’s blog:

In 2004 Monsanto, the world’s biggest genetically engineered seed company, pulled their GE wheat from the USDA’s approval process because of growing pressure from some of the most important international importers of United States wheat, including Japan, the UK, Malaysia, and Canada. These international consumers were weary of having genetically engineered foods as part of their food supply, and because Monsanto realized they would have no market for their wheat (since the US exports over 50% of its wheat), it abandoned the project. This is of course after they had already implemented field tests of the wheat in 16 states. The last field test of this GE wheat in Oregon was supposed to have been in 2001, and yet here it is.

The finding of the rogue wheat has prompted sharp criticism from food safety and environmental advocates.

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Thousands in Mexico Protest Monsanto by Throwing a Carnival of Corn

From Waging Non-Violence:

May 30, 2013

On May 25, an estimated two million people across 50 countries participated in the global March Against Monsanto. Organizers estimate that these protests against the U.S.-based transnational biotech corporation were one of the largest days of coordinated action in history. Yet, despite the high level of coordination, the local actions were not all orchestrated by professional organizers — and nor were the resulting actions all traditional marches.

On Saturday, about 2,000 participants gathered in Mexico City for the Carnaval del Maíz, a “Carnival of Corn” to celebrate Mexico’s rich diversity of native corn, threatened by Monsanto’s plans to introduce a genetically modified variety of the crop. The fact that Mexico’s manifestation of the global March Against Monsanto took the form of a carnival is no coincidence. The current generation of Mexican activists is looking for new strategies to fight for social justice, and the March Against Monsanto provided an opportunity to fuse tradition and innovation into the building blocks for a global food revolution.

The beginnings of the action came from an unlikely source: a novice Mexico City activist named Thalía Güido. In early March, Güido found the “March Against Monsanto” Facebook page and learned there was to be a global protest on May 25.

“I started to see [actions] in Africa, in Boston, and I said to myself, how can it be that Mexico isn’t listed?” she remembered thinking. After the organizers confirmed that there was nothing yet planned for Mexico, she decided it was time to start planning.

She started by contacting student-activists who had belonged to her university’s chapter of Yo Soy 132, a movement that opposes Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and the nation’s corporate media conglomerate. They liked the idea, so she began reaching out to other organizations.

“I started sending emails like crazy,” said Güido.

The momentum began building. At the first meeting, there were four participants; by the fourth, the group barely fit in the room. By the week before the event, more than 40 different organizations, as well as independent activists, were involved in the organizing efforts — although no one wore name tags identifying what institution they were coming from. Güido attributes the rapid growth of the planning meetings to the horizontal and citizen-oriented structure of the group, as well as to the carnivalesque nature of the event.

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