A Trans Response to Julian Vigo These Are Not the Radicals You’re Looking For

From Counter Punch:  http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/11/these-are-not-the-radicals-youre-looking-for/

June 11, 2013

In her recent CounterPunch column “The Left Hand of Darkness,” Julian Vigo is very concerned about the silencing of radical feminists by transgender people. Choosing to focus on a very small subset of radical feminists who pride themselves on being “trans-critical,” she goes through a laundry list of people all claiming the same thing: that transgender identities and specifically the existence of trans women is bad for women and a tool of the patriarchy. Despite the truncated timeline she provides, this is not a new topic. This sect of feminism has been making this claim since the 70’s. The arguments that Vigo reiterates here are not new, or radical, but regressive and patriarchal.

What these “radical” feminists want is not a dialogue, but the ability to critique a marginalized community from the outside, without having to engage at all with how that community defines or speaks about itself. An external critique of a marginalized community is not a value neutral action, and it certainly is not a dialogue. You can’t have a dialogue with people that you exclude from the conversation. All you can do is talk about them without having to be accountable to their experiences of their lives and the impact your words have on how they are treated. Could you have a conversation with someone who insists that you give up your identity before even speaking with them?

She begins by accepting, uncritically, that there is no such thing as being privileged for not being transgender. She mentions that transgender activists make this critique of radical feminists, and just lets it fizzle out, with no further mention. This is the last time that anything vaguely resembling the words of any transgender activist is seen. For a piece on dialogue, its rather startling that there are no voices from the trans community at all. She makes general statements about what trans activists are reported to have said or believe but no attributions, no names, no sources. Even when discussing threats made against the radical feminists she profiles, nothing is given to allow the reader to see these threats for themselves. Considering that there are entire websites, run by some of the people profiled in her column, devoted to profiling the dangerous threats of trans women existing, it shouldn’t be that hard. Instead, trans people are treated as a faceless monolith, and any actual words are not referenced.

Vigo doesn’t show any proof that the people she’s discussing are trying to talk to the trans community, only that they want to talk about it without having to listen to what the community says about itself. She conveniently forgets to mention the ways in which some of her featured folk have refused a dialogue all together.

One example of someone who has shut down this dialogue is Cathy Brennan.  Brennan is well known throughout the trans community for outing outing trans people she disagrees with, for stalking and harassing trans people , particularly trans women, and for working for a law firm that defends predatory payday lenders and financial firms that are known for fraudulently foreclosing on people’s homes. This is a person who has no feminist activism to her name that isn’t centered around attacking trans women, who uses the institutional violence of the American legal system as a cudgel against a community that makes up the majority of victims of physical violence against LGBT people and then uses their reaction to her as justification to antagonize them. She even attributes anonymous threats made against her to the trans community with no evidence in order to justify what she does. Please take note that none of this was mentioned in Vigo’s piece, and is all available with a few minutes of Googling.

How, exactly, are we supposed to have a dialogue with someone who does that? All attempts at dialogue have been not only rejected, but met with outright abuse. There is no opening for dialogue here, and there never was. To put the responsibility for dialogue on those being subjected to this treatment is expecting those who are imprisoned for surviving violence to ask nicely that the violence stop.

Likening accusations of transphobia to censorship, she states:

“As a result of this assault on dialogue, the true violence of transphobia (ie. assault, rape, murder and many other forms of discrimination) is cheapened and diluted in the larger space of discursive disagreements with feminists.”

Since when does someone who is not experiencing a particular form of oppression dictating how that community deals with its oppression a particularly radical thing to do? What gives her the perspective to say what the true violence against a community that she is not part of is? What gives her the unique perspective to know what “true violence” is? Surely a similar statement from a man telling feminists what to focus on would be seen as ridiculous, so what gives Vigo the ability to do the same to trans activists?

Continue reading at:  http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/11/these-are-not-the-radicals-youre-looking-for/

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Delaware House approves transgender rights bill

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/06/18/delaware-house-approves-transgender-rights-bill/

on June 18, 2013

OVER, Del.—The Delaware House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill that would add gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws.

The 24-17 vote came less than a week after Senate Bill 97 passed out of the House Administration Committee.

State Reps. Michael Barbieri (D-Newark,) Paul Baumbach (D-Newark,) Andria Bennett (D-Dover,) Stephanie Bolden (D-Wilmington,) Gerald Brady (D-Wilmington,) Debra Heffernan (D-Brandywine Hundred,) Earl Jaques, Jr., (D-Glasgow,) James Johnson (D-Holloway Terrace,) Quinton Johnson (D-Middletown,) Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington,) John Kowalko, Jr., (D-Newark,) Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear), Michael Mulrooney (D-Pennwood,) Edward Osienski (D-Beecher’s Lot,) Charles Potter, Jr. (D-Wilmington,) Mike Ramone (R-Middle Run Valley,) Darryl Scott (D-Dover,) Bryan Short (D-Brandywine Hundred,) Melanie George Smith (D-Bear,) John Viola (D-Newark,) Rebecca Walker (D-Townsend,) Dennis Williams (D-Talleyville,) Kimberly Williams (D-Klair Estates) and House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) voted for the bill. State Reps. John Atkins (D-Millsboro,) Donald Blakey (R-Dover,) Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown,) William Carson (D-Smyrna,) Timothy Dukes (R-Laurel,) Ronald Gray (R-Selbyville,) Deborah Hudson (R-Fairthorne,) Harvey Kenton (R-Millsboro,) Joseph Miro (R-Pike Creek Valley,) John Mitchell, Jr., (D-Wilmington,) William Outten (R-Harrington,) W. Charles Paradee (D-Dover,) Harold Peterman (R-Milford,) Stephen Smyk (R-Milton,) Jeffrey Spiegelman (R-Dover,) David Wilson (R-Bridgeville) and House Minority Leader Daniel Short (R-Milford) opposed SB 97.

The Delaware Senate earlier this month approved the measure.

“This bill to me is about fairness and equality,” Bolden said.

Daniel Short called Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis to speak against SB 97 during the debate that lasted more than two hours.

“The bottom line is a concern about my rights,” Theis said. “I don’t want to go into a locker room with my small children and not have any rights.”

Briggs King suggested the passage of SB 97 could prompt lawmakers to seek protections for those who are struggling with obesity. She further said her Sussex County constituents have described the measure as one that reflects “a special interest and special concerns.”

“This bill is not about those things that we know they are born with,” Briggs King said. “It’s more about subjective and discerning preferences, feelings and choices.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/06/18/delaware-house-approves-transgender-rights-bill/

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Gov. Cuomo, Trans Women Must Be Included in the Women’s Equality Act

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunny-bjerk/gov-cuomo-trans-women-must-be-included-in-the-womens-equality-act_b_3450537.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


On Tuesday, June 3, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally followed up on his so-called Women’s Equality Act (WEA) legislation, which aims to “end discrimination and inequality based on gender” across the state. The legislation features a 10-point plan to address gender-based discrimination and includes measures to:

  • Achieve pay equity (in New York women earn 16-percent less than men in similar or equal positions)
  • End sexual harassment in all New York workplaces (currently, sexual harassment is not prohibited in workplaces with three or fewer employees — seriously — and women accounted for 75 percent of all sexual harassment claims in 2011
  • Stop source-of-income discrimination (women in New York account for 76 percent of all housing voucher recipients, yet many landlords can refuse to rent to recipients who use these vouchers, greatly harming women)
  • Stop housing discrimination for domestic violence victims (currently, women account for 85 percents of the state’s domestic violence victims, yet under current law, domestic violence victims are not protected against housing discrimination)

While the Women’s Equality Act certainly aims to remedy a portion of the wrongs that women still face, the legislation completely neglects to address the vulnerability of transgender women.

Trans women — and the transgender population as a whole — face significant levels of discrimination and violence in their daily lives and need the same type of protections that are outlined in the WEA. Indeed, as shown in the 2013 report “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2012,” transgender women are “2.14 times as likely” to experience discrimination, threats/harassment, or intimidation as cisgender individuals, and this rate is even higher for trans women of color.

What’s more, according to the report, the greatest perpetrators of discrimination, threats, and intimidation against trans women continue to be landlords and employers. (Police officers also continue to be frequent perpetrators of violence against trans women and the transgender community as a whole, though I will have to address this in a subsequent post.) These alarming figures are also detailed in the report “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” disputing any notion that trans women still occupy a space of male privilege. Clearly, when people have the power to extend or rescind job offers, or have the power to confirm or deny housing to a person because of her gender, something is wrong.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunny-bjerk/gov-cuomo-trans-women-must-be-included-in-the-womens-equality-act_b_3450537.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Transgender man finally gets name change; Va. judge refers to him as ‘she,’ ‘miss’

From LGBTQNation:   http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/06/transgender-man-granted-name-change-va-judge-refers-to-him-as-she-miss/

Monday, June 17, 2013

LOUISA, Va. – A Virginia transgender man on Monday was granted a name change after having it denied earlier this year by a judge who asked for medical documents proving he was transitioning, contrary to state law.

Jacob Haley, 25, was denied the name change in February when Judge Timothy Sanner said previous name change cases had included doctors notes.

Under Virginia law, name changes “shall contain no identifying information other than the applicant’s former name or names, new name, and current address,” and medical documentation is only required for changing genders on a birth certificate, and similarly for Virginia state ID’s like driver’s licenses.

Sanner, again presided over Monday’s hearing, where he briefly mentioned that they had received criticism after Haley’s original court appearance.

According to Sanner, individuals had contacted the court and said his actions were discriminatory.

Sanner, who repeatedly referred to Haley as “she” and “Miss Haley” throughout the proceedings, defended himself by saying that name changes can be denied to individuals seeking a name change for fraudulent reasons.

And in a bizarre comment made during the proceedings, Sanner added, “there are different rights and responsibilities attached to different genders.”

But during Monday’s hearing, Sanner again mentioned previous cases that had included medical notes with name change applications.

Complete article at:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/06/transgender-man-granted-name-change-va-judge-refers-to-him-as-she-miss/

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Food Stamp Cuts Might Come With Drug Testing

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/food-stamp-cuts_n_3465012.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037


WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives will soon decide whether states should be able to make food stamp recipients pee in cups to prove they’re not on drugs.

The drug testing measure is one of more than 100 amendments to the House farm bill up for a vote in the coming days. The underlying legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which currently serves 47 million Americans, by roughly 2.5 percent, resulting in 2 million fewer people receiving benefits. Among the amendments are a Democratic one that would undo the cut and a Republican one that would make it deeper.

The drug testing amendment, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), is the latest in a longstanding Republican effort to make people on public assistance prove they don’t use illegal drugs. Drug testing bills have proliferated in state legislatures in recent years, and last year congressional Republicans succeeded in changing federal law so states could eventually test unemployment insurance claimants.

“My amendment to the Farm Bill allows states to determine the best method for administering drug screening programs for SNAP applicants,” Hudson said in an emailed statement. “This is a clear and obvious problem in our communities as nearly thirty states have introduced legislation to drug test for welfare programs. We have a moral obligation to equip the states with the tools they need to discourage the use of illegal drugs.”

Republicans pushing drug test bills in state legislatures have usually cited anecdotes from local businesses as evidence of the problem. Most studies have found that people on public assistance use drugs at a higher rate than the general population, but not by much, according to a review by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/food-stamp-cuts_n_3465012.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

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Everything You Need To Know About The 20-Week Abortion Ban Advancing In The House

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/06/18/2171791/national-20-week-abortion-ban-explainer/

By Tara Culp-Ressler
on Jun 18, 2013

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives will vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a measure spearheaded by Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that would cut off legal access to abortion services at 20 weeks after fertilization. It represents the most restrictive abortion bill to come to a vote in either chamber over the past decade. Here’s what you need to know about this attack on women’s reproductive rights — and how it fits into a broader, coordinated nationwide campaign to slowly chip away at abortion access:

It’s based on the scientifically-disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain before the third trimester of pregnancy.

So-called “fetal pain” measures are based on junk science that represents a minority position among medical professionals. Most doctors don’t believe that fetuses can feel pain until much later in pregnancy, after the point of viability (generally considered to be around 24 weeks), and scientific research has repeatedly confirmed this position. Nevertheless, abortion opponents have successfully stoked emotional outrage surrounding later-term abortion — particularly following the high-profile murder trial of illegal abortion provider Kermit Gosnell — by twisting the facts to make it appear that these abortions are always barbaric procedures.

It has sparked more controversy over Republicans’ attitudes toward rape.

The original version of Franks’ legislation did not include an exception for victims of rape or incest. Defending the lack of an exception in these cases, the Arizona congressman last week claimed that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” Franks is just the latest Republican to make an offensive comment about rape victims, and his comments inspired comparisons to former Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) infamous assertion that women don’t often get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because the body “has ways of shutting that whole thing down.” Following the controversy that erupted from his statements, Franks revised the legislation at the last minute to include an exemption for survivors of rape and incest — but only if rape victims first report the sexual crime to the police, and if incest victims are minors.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/06/18/2171791/national-20-week-abortion-ban-explainer/

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Manning trial focuses on Gitmo files

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