Misidentification and Transphobia: One Musician’s Experiences Touring America

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-nichols/misidentification-and-transphobia-one-musicians-experiences-touring-america_b_3362069.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


In the year since President Barack Obama voiced his support for same-sex marriage on May 9, 2012, the mainstream “LGBT movement” has gained an immense amount of traction, visibility and support within the realm of public consciousness. However, few of these political and social gains can be said to benefit changing public perception surrounding institutionalized and systematic marginalization of transgender people, as continually evidenced through events such as the media’s coverage of the deaths of Cemia Acoff and Lucy Meadows.

Indeed, our culture does seems to be on the path to recognition that gender is largely socialized from a young age rather than an immutable characteristic of an individual tied to physical anatomy. However, as gay- and lesbian-identifying activists continually cite political and social gains, such as marriage equality and Boy Scout inclusion, as representative of progress for all queer experiences, individuals indentifying as trans are only being further marginalized and ostracized outside the battle for “LGBT rights.”

The reality of what it means to be a trans individual and the violence, not merely physical, that accompanies the lived experience of this identity signifier can be hard to comprehend within the boundaries of mainstream cultural intelligibility. Even within the queer community itself, there are often misconceptions about trans identity, and even blatant transphobia, particularly when activists attempt to claim a sense of ownership over the mainstream “LGBT movement.” Furthermore, attempts to understand trans identity within an exclusive binary structure of “male-to-female” and “female-to-male” serves merely to erase the vast plethora of identities, experiences and ways of being and knowing that we tend to linguistically lump together under the signifier “transgender.” Within this, we must recognize how limited understandings of the ways in which individuals “transcend gender” allows language itself to become regulatory unto our ability to talk about and comprehend human diversity.

In an effort to articulate this reality outside a theoretical lens, I asked my friend and college peer Janke Seltsam to share their recent experiences while traveling the country performing their musical project Romantic Animal in various cities, spaces and regions. With the knowledge that Janke identifies as trans and has experienced violence in multiple forms in response to this identification, I felt that their travels throughout this timeframe would in some way speak to issues for trans individuals during this crucial time for the queer community. In addition, I felt that the looks, words and actions of individuals whom Janke encountered throughout their tour would help illuminate many of the driving forces behind a transphobic mentality, both within the larger social world and the queer community itself.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-nichols/misidentification-and-transphobia-one-musicians-experiences-touring-america_b_3362069.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Breaking: Largest Study Of Children Raised By Same-Sex Parents Shows They’re Healthier Than Their Peers

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/breaking-largest-study-of-children-raised-by-same-sex-parents-shows-theyre-healthier-than-their-peers/politics/2013/06/05/68146

by David Badash
on June 5, 2013

The largest study to date of children raised by same-sex couples finds overall they are healthier and fare at least as well if not better than their peers, raised by opposite-sex couples.

“Children of same-sex parents are doing as well or better than the rest of the population on a number of key health indicators,” The Age reports:

That is the initial finding from the world’s largest study on the children of same-sex parents, under way at Melbourne University.

The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families collected data on 500 children nationwide, up to the age of 17.

An interim report found there was no statistical difference between children of same-sex couples and the rest of the population on indicators including self-esteem, emotional behaviour and the amount of time spent with parents.

However, children of same-sex couples scored higher than the national average for overall health and family cohesion, measuring how well the family members get along.

The study’s protocol, detailing its intent and methodology may be accessed here.

Unlike the “deeply flawed” and “disgraced,” Regnerus study, The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families looks at children of actual same-sex couples.

This is but one of a number of studies on children raised by same-sex parents, which all have similar findings.

See Also

Think Progress: World’s Largest Study Of Same-Sex Parenting Finds That Children Are Thriving

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Christo-Nazi TV ‘prophet’ Cindy Jacobs: Native Americans need to ‘repent for their ancestors’ animism’

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Saxby Chambliss Attributes Military Sexual Assault To ‘The Hormone Level Created By Nature’

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/04/saxby-chambliss-military-sexual-assault_n_3384286.html


WASHINGTON — Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) called on the military to do more to crack down on sexual assault in its ranks on Tuesday, while also worrying that they may be hard to stop because of the natural “hormone level” of the young men serving.

“The young folks who are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur. So we’ve got to be very careful how we address it on our side,” Chambliss told top military officials at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “But guys, we are not doing our job. You’re not doing yours, and we are not doing ours with the rates we are seeing on sexual assaults.”

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), co-chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, slammed Chambliss’ comments in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s simple; criminals are responsible for sexual assaults, not hormones,” said Turner. “Perpetuating this line of thinking does nothing to help change the culture of our military. We must be focused on combating this issue directly. The numbers speak for themselves.”

Although Chambliss decried sexual assault in the military and said he wants to do more to stop it, his comments echo the “boys will be boys” mentality that has been used throughout the years to dismiss sexual harassment and assault and avoid taking action to prevent them.

The problem in the military extends beyond young hormonal recruits being reckless, to leaders who have created a culture where sexual assault and harassment are tolerated.

After all, the officer in charge of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention program who was arrested for sexual assault is 41 years old. The manager of the sexual harassment and assault response program in Fort Campbell, Ky. who was arrested in a domestic dispute is 42.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/04/saxby-chambliss-military-sexual-assault_n_3384286.html

Christo-Nazi Bryan Fischer: End Sexual Assault in the Military By Banning Women and Gays

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Conservatives Slam Efforts to Address Rampant Sexual Harassment As ‘De-Eroticizing Universities’

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/06/04/2087341/conservatives-misconstrue-harassment-regulations/

By Kumar Ramanathan
Jun 4, 2013

When Kerry Barrett, a student at the University of Montana, reported her attempted rape, she was asked if she had a boyfriend, told “not to expect much,” and told that half of all rape allegations were false. Six Montana football players allegedly committed sexual assault over a three year period, including one incident where three of them allegedly attacked a single woman. A Justice Department investigation found that university officials failed to inform police about two students who both reported being raped in the same night by the same man until a week after the incident, giving the alleged rapist time to flee the country. And this is not just a problem in the University of Montana – the epidemic of sexual assault and rape culture on college campuses has received increased attention in recent years, partially due to growing student protest.

Yet these incidents do not seem to bother many conservative writers. They’re more upset about the Obama Administration’s efforts to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

An agreement between federal agencies and the University of Montana over the college’s sexual harassment policies unleashed an onslaught of condemnation from conservatives, who argue that a new precedent has been set for speech restrictions across college campuses. Accusations on op-ed pages have ranged from “No Sex Talk Allowed” and “The De-Eroticized University” to “Federal Title IX Enforcers Effectively Define Dating and Sex Education as ‘Sexual Harassment’“.

Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute writes that the resolution “has dire implications for dating” and “undermines freedom of intimate association.” Ken Masugi finds that the university has been “de-eroticized” in a “legalistic, centralized crackdown on talk about sex.” George Will at the Washington Post goes so far as to allege that colleges are now required to “adopt speech codes” and “censorship regimes.”

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/06/04/2087341/conservatives-misconstrue-harassment-regulations/

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Revealed: NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans daily

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order?guni=Network%20front:network-front%20main-2%20Special%20trail:Network%20front%20-%20special%20trail:Position1

Top secret court order requiring Verizon to hand over all call data shows scale of domestic surveillance under Obama

Read the court order in full here

The Guardian, Wednesday 5 June 2013

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an “ongoing, daily basis” to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

The document shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of US citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk – regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.

The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa) granted the order to the FBI on April 25, giving the government unlimited authority to obtain the data for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.

Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered.

The disclosure is likely to reignite longstanding debates in the US over the proper extent of the government’s domestic spying powers.

Under the Bush administration, officials in security agencies had disclosed to reporters the large-scale collection of call records data by the NSA, but this is the first time significant and top-secret documents have revealed the continuation of the practice on a massive scale under President Obama.

The unlimited nature of the records being handed over to the NSA is extremely unusual. Fisa court orders typically direct the production of records pertaining to a specific named target who is suspected of being an agent of a terrorist group or foreign state, or a finite set of individually named targets.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order?guni=Network%20front:network-front%20main-2%20Special%20trail:Network%20front%20-%20special%20trail:Position1

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The New Economic Frontier Is a Chance for Community Resilience

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/01-0

by Rob Hopkins

There’s a TV advert I remember from the 1980s that has stuck with me. It features a recently unemployed man telling his wife that he and his friend are “going it alone”, that “the bank says yes”, and that they are going to set up their own business. I think the ad was for a car or something. It captured the spirit prevalent during that decade, where business was the new frontier, anything was possible, and there were no limits.
I’m starting a brewery. I don’t know much about brewing, but with other driven and skilled people from the place I live we’re going to do it. We’re not going it alone, though: we are bringing our community along with us and inviting their support. We don’t need the bank, thank you very much, we have a local person investing in us, and plan to do a community-share launch so that the community gets the chance to invest in us, too. I think our brewery also captures a spirit that’s increasingly prevalent.
It is the spirit in which we don’t wait for an imaginary cavalry to come riding to our economic rescue, a spirit visible across the country in the explosion of local food businesses, pop-up shops, craft breweries, crowdfunding, community energy projects, and the revival of independent record shops. It’s a different, more suitable approach to economic regeneration than most, recognising that anything is possible, but within the limits of energy scarcity, austerity, and the reality of living on a finite planet.
Our brewery is part of a wider story. My town, Totnes in Devon, where it will be sited, is the UK’s first ‘Transition Town’ (there are now thousands around the world), a project I, along with others, initiated in 2005. It’s an experiment that shows a more localised and lower-carbon economy can be an opportunity for huge creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.
A coalition of our town council, the local Chamber of Commerce and the Development Trust recently published an economic blueprint showing how shifting just 10 per cent of what we spend on food, installing just 10 per cent of the area’s potential renewable energy-generation capacity, and starting to retrofit the most energy-inefficient housing could bring £5.5 million into the local economy each year. It’s a shift from dreaming of inward investment to a focus on internal investment, where we build more economic resilience in the local economy. We become our own cavalry.
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Humanity Imperiled

From Tom Dispatch:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175707/tomgram%3A_noam_chomsky%2C_the_eve_of_destruction/#more

The Path to Disaster

By Noam Chomsky
June 4, 2013

What is the future likely to bring?  A reasonable stance might be to try to look at the human species from the outside.  So imagine that you’re an extraterrestrial observer who is trying to figure out what’s happening here or, for that matter, imagine you’re an historian 100 years from now — assuming there are any historians 100 years from now, which is not obvious — and you’re looking back at what’s happening today.  You’d see something quite remarkable.

For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves.  That’s been true since 1945.  It’s now being finally recognized that there are more long-term processes like environmental destruction leading in the same direction, maybe not to total destruction, but at least to the destruction of the capacity for a decent existence.

And there are other dangers like pandemics, which have to do with globalization and interaction.  So there are processes underway and institutions right in place, like nuclear weapons systems, which could lead to a serious blow to, or maybe the termination of, an organized existence.

How to Destroy a Planet Without Really Trying

The question is: What are people doing about it?  None of this is a secret.  It’s all perfectly open.  In fact, you have to make an effort not to see it.

There have been a range of reactions.  There are those who are trying hard to do something about these threats, and others who are acting to escalate them.  If you look at who they are, this future historian or extraterrestrial observer would see something strange indeed.  Trying to mitigate or overcome these threats are the least developed societies, the indigenous populations, or the remnants of them, tribal societies and first nations in Canada.  They’re not talking about nuclear war but environmental disaster, and they’re really trying to do something about it.

In fact, all over the world — Australia, India, South America — there are battles going on, sometimes wars.  In India, it’s a major war over direct environmental destruction, with tribal societies trying to resist resource extraction operations that are extremely harmful locally, but also in their general consequences.  In societies where indigenous populations have an influence, many are taking a strong stand.  The strongest of any country with regard to global warming is in Bolivia, which has an indigenous majority and constitutional requirements that protect the “rights of nature.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175707/tomgram%3A_noam_chomsky%2C_the_eve_of_destruction/#more

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The 4 Plagues: Getting a Handle on the Coming Apocalypse

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/4-plagues-getting-handle-coming-apocalypse

In an environment of confusion and despair, it helps to understand the forces at play, how they operate, and why they feel so overwhelming.

By Don Hazen
June 4, 2013

Every day, thousands, probably millions of people ask their family, friends, neighbors and colleagues similar and increasingly familiar questions: What has happened to our country? How did we get here? Isn’t it scary? Can anything be done about it?

There is an abundance of evidence that there are forces tearing apart the U.S. economy and society, causing increasing levels of fear, anxiety and trauma for large numbers of people. Many people are mystified as to the specific causes of their fears, with a mass media system that constantly broadcasts propaganda about how great America is and a new digital media system that may be exacerbating the problems for a society under immense and unprecedented duress.

There is the added problem that the theories and the means of social change we are familiar with, and to which we still turn, are not remotely up to the task we face, and have mostly proven to be inadequate. Virtually every problem we face has gotten worse over the past 40 years, and heavily sped up since 9/11 and the economic crash of 2007.

In an environment of confusion and despair, it can be helpful to name the beast—essentially to understand the forces at play, how they operate, and why they feel both intractable and overwhelming. So, what follows is a kind of Users’ Guide To What Is Freaking Us Out.”

What Has Happened to Us?

So the big question is: what is the “it” that has happened to us? Depending on your vantage point and the myriad problems in front of us, “it” can be any number of causes and factors.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/4-plagues-getting-handle-coming-apocalypse

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Hundreds of Health Professionals to Obama: Act on ‘Superbugs’ Now

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/05-9

“The huge overuse of these antibiotics on our farms, in meat production, is an important—and unaddressed—contributor to the problem.”

Andrea Germanos

A group of nearly 800 health professionals has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take action on the rampant overuse and misuse of antibiotics in livestock which has contributed to the rise in antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” and poses a massive threat to public health.

  “In our hospitals, and in our communities, antibiotics increasingly are failing to treat drug resistant superbugs,” stated David Wallinga, MD of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Healthy Food Action. “The huge overuse of these antibiotics on our farms, in meat production, is an important—and unaddressed—contributor to the problem.”

Livestock are given these antibiotics to encourage faster growth and to compensate for the overcrowded, unhealthy conditions the animals are confined to in the industrial agriculture system.

Antibiotics are so used, they write, “over 70 percent of total reported sales of medically important antibiotics in the United States” are used not for human but for animal use.

The group quotes the Director General of the World Health Organization, who warned last year that “a post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it.” Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said earlier this year that there is an alarming rise in antibiotic-resistant, deadly “nightmare bacteria,” a warning echoed by Britain’s top health official, who said that antibiotic resistant “superbugs” pose a “catastrophic threat.”

The health professionals write that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) actions on this issue are “stalled,” and that the current guidelines that merely encourage the pharmaceutical industry to phase out the overuse of antibiotics in livestock are inadequate.

They are asking Obama “to ensure that FDA moves immediately to use its regulatory authority to withdraw approvals for the non-therapeutic use (i.e., use of antibiotics for purposes other than disease treatment and disease control) of all medically-important antibiotics from food animal production, thus preserving their use for treating sick people.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/05-9

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Anti-Vaxxer

From Slate:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/06/05/robert_f_kennedy_jr_advocate_for_antiscience_and_antivaccination.html

By Posted

The Kennedy family name is laden with history and brings to mind a definite set of characteristics: glamor, power, intelligence, wealth, influence. Kennedys have had their name on a president, numerous senators, representatives, ambassadors, and other high office holders.

The Kennedy dynasty, if you wish to call it that, has seen its share of triumphs and disasters, of course. I need not go into detail; scores of books have been written about them, from putting humans on the Moon and the championing of civil rights to personal tragedies of assassination, death, scandal, and more.

Most of these issues are in the past. But there is an ongoing problem associated with a Kennedy, one I consider extremely troubling. Specifically it’s with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is an attorney, a radio host, and an environmental activist.

He is also, as it happens, a full-blown anti-vaccination conspiracy theorist.

And I do mean full-blown. RFK Jr. has a long history of adhering to crackpot ideas about vaccines, mostly in the form of the now thoroughly disproven link to autism. He’s been hammering this issue for a decade now, and his claims appear to be no better and no more accurate now than they were when he first started making them.

To be clear, I am a parent myself, and when my daughter was an infant, my wife and I fretted over this issue. Concerned about her development and health, we did the research and found that the overwhelming benefits of vaccination far outweighed the very slight actual risks. That is why our daughter is fully vaccinated, as are both my wife and I. We keep our booster and flu shots up to date as well.

So the anti-vax claims of Kennedy are very concerning to me. I’ve written about him before, but he came to my attention again when Keith Kloor at Discover magazine noted Kennedy was the keynote speaker at the 2013 AutismOne/Generation Rescue Conference. Both AutismOne and Generation Rescue claim to be about advocating for people touched by autism—and there is no doubt their concern is genuine—but when you scratch the surface you find they also advocate dangerous nonsense about medicine and treatment.

Continue reading at:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/06/05/robert_f_kennedy_jr_advocate_for_antiscience_and_antivaccination.html

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Will Ohio Be Fracking’s Radioactive Dumping Ground?

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/16751-will-ohio-be-frackings-radioactive-dumping-ground

By Mike Ludwig
Wednesday, 05 June 2013

As hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has boomed in Ohio, Pennsylvania and nearby states in recent years, waste wells in Ohio have absorbed millions of barrels of liquid waste from oil-and-gas drilling operations in the region. Environmentalists and other observers are now calling Ohio a “dumping ground” for the fracking industry. Drillers now want to dump potentially radioactive waste mud, drill cuttings and frack sand from fracking operations in municipal landfills in the state, and environmentalists are up in arms.

“I am not against fracking, I am against stupid,” said Julie Weatherinton-Rice, a senior scientist at Bennett & Williams Environmental Consultants and an adjunct professor at Ohio State University. “I am seeing a lot a lot stupid and a lot of heads in the sand, and that’s what’s going to kill us.”

Fracking produces both solid and liquid wastes. The liquid wastes, known as “flowback” and “brine” in industry lingo, are laced with chemicals and can be radioactive from materials that occur naturally in the underground shale formations where oil and gas is extracted. In Ohio, brine is typically pumped into underground injection wells.

Fracking also produces solid wastes such as drill cuttings, rocks, mud, dirt and used frack sand. These wastes can also be contaminated with radioactive material, especially if they come from Pennsylvania, where the Marcellus Shale formation at the heart of a fracking boom is known to contain considerable levels of radium-226 and other material. A truck carrying fracking waste was recently turned away from a landfill in Pennsylvania after setting off radiation alarms.

But the waste must to be disposed of somewhere, and Ohio’s 39 landfills may be the place.

Weatherinton-Rice told Truthout that she is already aware of solid fracking waste dumps at landfills in Ohio, and several reports indicate that some landfills are already accepting waste. But a proposal in the state legislature would codify regulations for solid waste dumping and open the fracking waste floodgates, according to environmental groups.

“If passed, this proposed law would put a big, trashed-out ‘Statue of Radioactive Liberty’ on Ohio’s eastern border,” said Jack Shaner, deputy director of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC).  “It would proclaim to the oil and gas industry: ‘Bring us your spent, cast-off, radioactive waste. It’s welcome in Ohio.’ ”

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/16751-will-ohio-be-frackings-radioactive-dumping-ground

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