Friday Night Fun and Culture: Incredible String Band

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Where ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Is Alive and Well

From The Advocate:

MichFest can do better.

BY Riki Wilchins
August 14 2013

Another August, and another Michigan Womyn’s (But Not Trans) Music Festival, an annual exercise in gender hypocrisy. Even as the military has given up “don’t ask, don’t tell,” MichFest clings to it like drowning myn to a raft.

In case you’ve missed the beginning of this saga, some years ago MichFest security personnel forcibly ejected an attendee they suspected of being a transgender woman. She was given time neither to alert her friends nor collect her belongings.

MichFest’s owner then retroactively announced a new policy called “womyn-born-womyn only.” This may have lacked an exact English-language translation but had the advantage of being understood by all concerned as a kinder, gentler expression of “No Trannies Allowed.”

In subsequent years Camp Trans, an educational protest event, set up shop across the road from the main gate, and it eventually attracted hundreds of trans women and their friends. It was often difficult to tell the genderqueer women at Camp Trans from the genderqueer women going into the festival across the road.

After some years of confrontation, festival officials decided to cease ejecting transgender women and settled into a surly silence on the issue. Their gender policy can be distilled to four familiar words: “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

They won’t ask if we’re transgender, and we can attend as long as we don’t tell them, or anyone else. This policy was just so successful for gay Marines in the showers, so why not let it work its magic in peace at Michigan?

Oh, yeah. Even the Marines have given up DADT.

So that leaves MichFest as the remaining pillar supporting this discriminatory, duplicitous, and degrading policy. Even well-known lesbian artists like the Indigo Girls have responded by refusing to play any further MichFest dates until the festival adopts a fully inclusive attendance policy.

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Pondering Male Privilege Post-Transition

From Huffington Post:


The reality of male privilege is well established. Women struggle to get into positions of power within business or politics. Women make 5- to 7-percent less than similarly situated men, even when all other variables are accounted for, leaving discrimination as the primary culprit. The epidemic of sexual assault in the military is longstanding, getting worse, and a national shame. There is no question that being female carries a significant “life penalty” with it. There’s no denying that male privilege exists.

However, sometimes it feels taboo to ask how far male privilege goes. Who better to ask about it, though, than trans men and women who have lived on both sides of the divide?

Recently, I came across a blog post by a trans man of color who asked whether trans men really have it easier. It explored the intersectionality of gender and race in his experience. He concluded that being seen by society as a black man carried more disadvantages than being seen as a black woman, thanks to the prevalence of profiling. When I shared this blog post with other trans people, the responses were mixed.

A white trans man friend who read this blog post observed:

I’m hesitant to say that either side of the spectrum has it easier than the other, because a struggle is a struggle. But 99% of the time, trans men definitely do have it easier.

A trans woman of color who is also a veteran observed that the intersection of being a person of color and a trans woman is even worse:

I was stopped for looking like a drug dealer by the local police. It didn’t help when the local addicts would walk up to me and ask for their stuff. However, I haven’t read a single story when a trans* woman of color was attacked and lived. I’ve slowly accepted the fact that my chances of surviving in Afghanistan were higher than my chances being out in America. Once I transition, life expectancy goes out the window.

Her observations are in line with the statistics we have. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 45 percent of all LGBT people murdered in hate crimes are trans women (despite being only about 6 percent of the LGBT community). Of those transgender persons murdered, 87 percent are trans women of color. My friend was even right about the level of violence: Trans people who survive hate crimes are 1.76 times more likely to require significant medical attention than other LGB victims. Economically, transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed and four times as likely to live on less than $10,000 per year.

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Scott Lively Will Be Tried for Fueling Antigay Persecution In Uganda

From The Advocate:

A federal judge today overruled the American evangelical minister’s request to dismiss an international lawsuit contending that Lively violated human rights by stoking the antigay climate in Uganda.

BY Sunnivie Brydum
August 15 2013

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a first-of-its-kind persecution case against antigay American evangelist Scott Lively filed by LGBT Ugandans can proceed, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which helped Sexual Minorities Uganda file the international lawsuit. Lively had filed a request to dismiss the suit, saying his antigay proselytizing was protected by his First Amendment rights to free speech.

The ruling “is a significant victory for human rights everywhere but most especially for LGBTI Ugandans who are seeking accountability from those orchestrating our persecution,” said Frank Mugisha, executive director of SMUG.

The suit seeks to hold Lively responsible for conspiring with religious and government leaders to persecute LGBT people in Uganda, where parliament is still considering the so-called Kill the Gays bill that proposes capital punishment of homosexuality in certain instances.

During opening arguments in January, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights said Lively’s decade-long collaboration with political and religious leaders in Uganda deprived the nation’s LGBT people of basic human rights and should therefore be punishable under the Alien Tort Statute, which gives “survivors of egregious human rights abuses, wherever committed, the right to sue the perpetrators in the United States,” according to the Center for Justice and Accountability.

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On CNN, Hate Group Leader Calls Transgender Man A Lady

From Equality Matters:

by Luke Brinker
August 13, 2013

CNN invited hate group leader Randy Thomasson to appear on the network to condemn a new California law ensuring the rights of transgender teens to use facilities and participate in programs corresponding to their gender identities. Thomasson appeared along with the Transgender Law Center’s Masen Davis, a transgender male. At the end of the segment, Thomasson told Davis and host Brooke Baldwin, “Hey, good to talk to you ladies.”

Appearing on the August 13 edition of CNN Newsroom, Thomasson, president of the anti-LGBT hate group Save California, peddled standard transphobic tropes about “sexually confused” transgender individuals, before closing with his snide remark:

Such mean-spiritedness has been a hallmark of Thomasson’s work, so it is unclear why CNN saw fit to grant him a platform to spew his hatred. Thomasson routinely employs apocalyptic, hysterical rhetoric to denounce the LGBT movement. He has:

  • Stated That Gay Rights Will Cause A New Civil War. In February 2013, Thomasson blasted LGBT equality supporters, who had “infiltrated” the political and legal system with an eye toward starting a new civil war.
  • Called Gay Rights “The Devil’s Work.” Appearing on The Janet Mefferd Show in October 2012, Thomasson lambasted California Democrats for supporting a ban on “conversion therapy” for gays, saying that their efforts were part of “the Devil’s work.”
  • Claimed Banning “Ex-Gay” Therapy Would Put Children In “Homosexual Bondage.” As the California measure banning conversion therapy made its way through the legislature in July 2012, Thomasson appealed to his supporters to kill “this horrible bill locking children into homosexual bondage.”
  • Suggested That A Gay Teen Provoked His Own MurderIn September 2011, Thomasson appeared on The Janet Mefferd Show, where he strongly suggested that California teen Larry King was asking for it before a fellow student murdered him:

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See Also:

Raw Story: CNN puts hate group leader on TV and he predictably insults a transgender man

Media Matters: On CNN, Hate Group Leader Calls Transgender Man A Lady

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Fed’l benefits issues linger post-DOMA for gay couples

From The Washington Blade:

on August 13, 2013

Following the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the extent to which many federal benefits — taxes, Social Security, veterans benefits and family leave — will flow to married same-sex couples remains in question.

The Obama administration has extended certain benefits to married same-sex couples regardless of whether they live in the United States, but other benefits are still in limbo because of law, regulation or policy that determines whether a couple should be considered legally married.

Here’s a breakdown of these benefit categories and where they stand in terms of what’s obstructing their flow to married same-sex couples and what LGBT advocates see as the way forward:


Last week, the Social Security Administration announced for the first time it was starting to process retirement claims for married same-sex couples who apply for them in aftermath of the court decision on DOMA. But the extension of these benefits is limited.

On Friday, the agency published guidance indicating these benefits will flow to same-sex married couples living in states that recognize their unions, but couples that apply for these benefits in non-marriage equality states for the time being will have their requests placed on hold.

“Bill (the claimant) and Bob (the NH) marry in MA after MA recognizes same-sex marriage, but are domiciled Texas (TX),” the guidance says. “Bill files for husband’s benefits on Bob’s record. They meet all other factors of entitlement. Hold the claim.”

William “BJ” Jarrett, a Social Security spokesperson, confirmed on Monday the agency is processing some Social Security retirement spouse claims when the individual was married in a state that permits same-sex marriage and lives in a marriage-equality state at the time of application — or while the claim is pending a final determination. Still, he acknowledged other retirement claims are on hold.

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Women’s free speech is under attack

From Salon:

The threats and trolling women receive online silence them just as effectively as any censorship

Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013

When Rebecca Meredith took the stage in March at the Glasgow Ancients, an annual university debate tournament, she and her debate partner, Marlena Valles, were prepared for a little heckling. After all, Meredith is ranked the third top university debater in Europe in 2012 and Valles won best speaker in Scotland’s 2013 national championship, so between the two of them they’ve “beaten men in debates hundreds of times” and “can deal with heckles,” writes Meredith in the Huffington Post. But even before the two debaters started speaking, a cadre of men in the audience began to boo, continued to boo throughout the debate, shouted “Shame, woman!” and “analysed their sexual attractiveness.” When a woman judge intervened, reports Lucy Sheriff, the men called the judge “a frigid bitch.”

Feminist Marilyn Webb has a similar story. When she took the stage to speak at the New Left’s Counter-Inaugural, she tells Susan Faludi in the April edition of the New Yorker, men in the audience immediately started shouting things like “Take her off the stage and fuck her!” and “Fuck her down the alley.” Author and activist Shulamith Firestone tried to speak after Webb, writes Faludi, “but was drowned out by a howl of sexual epithets.”

Legally speaking, “you can heckle a speaker but you can’t drown them out,” explains Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer, author and free speech advocate. Drowning out speakers or preventing them from speaking by threatening to create a violent reprisal is called “the Heckler’s Veto.” Considering the 2010 case of University of California students arrested for trying to prevent Karl Rove from speaking at a book-signing, Kaminer writes for the Atlantic that “protestors were not exercising their First Amendment rights so much as they were effectively restricting the rights of others.” Because they sought to use their heckler’s veto to silence a speaker, the speech of the students was no longer protected as free by the First Amendment.

The Heckler’s Veto is an ongoing concern for free speech advocates because it’s a live-action attempt to curtail the free speech of a public speaker – one that’s used time after time, year after year. The New Left Counter-Inaugural at which women speakers were heckled and drowned out, for example, took place in 1969. Rebecca Meredith’s experience with an attempted heckler’s veto (she and her partner went on to finish their debate) was in 2013.

Forty-four years. What’s changed?

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