Bradley Manning is a trans hero – I fear for him in prison

From The Guardian UK:

In my brief time in jail I found a way to express my femaleness, but Manning has a lifetime ahead of him locked in a cage, Saturday 17 August 2013

Bradley Manning faces 90 years in prison and will probably die behind bars – and that’s not the worst of it. He’s been successfully brainwashed judging by his recent apology and appeal for leniency. I don’t blame him. He must feel powerless, on so many levels. When published pictures of Manning “in drag” earlier this week, it revealed publicly what the transgender community has known for some time: Manning is one of us.

I personally regard him as a hero, but this isn’t an attempt to claim him, politically. There wouldn’t be much to gain by it. Even GLAAD and Human Rights Campaign have deserted him, sadly. Whether you see him as brave or treacherous, though, he faces unfair hardship as a gender non-conforming prisoner. I should know, I used to be one.

When I was 16, to my shame, I took part in a robbery. I was terrified of going to borstal, as anyone might be, but with the added fear of what happened to people like me there. Like Manning, I hadn’t yet transitioned, but I had always known who I was and that, eventually, I would have to do something about it. I also knew that, because I’d committed a crime, my transition would have to wait.

I was locked up for eight months. Inside, I grew my hair long and shaved my legs. I sneaked chalk out from my weekly art classes and ground it into dust so that when the doors were locked at night and I was alone in my cell, I could make my cheeks pink and lips red, and my eyes green. I must have looked like Grotbags, but there you go. It was torture not expressing my femaleness and I certainly wouldn’t have coped with 90 years of it.

Blogger Zinnia Jones, who spent hours chatting to Manning online before he was exposed as a Wikileaks collaborator, describes giving evidence at his trial: “I’ve talked about Manning as male, because there’s been nothing but silence and denial on this front from his family and his attorneys, and I simply don’t know how else to refer to him. But I do know what happens when you take one of us and lock us away for most of our early 20s, unable to access treatments like those he was seeking. It horrifies me.” She laments the fact that “he’s locked in a cage and I’m not, that I got to transition and he didn’t”.

Sadly this is what happens when trans people are arrested mid-transition. Take Senthooran Kanagasingham, who was Nina when she pushed someone under a train. I don’t excuse the crime, nor do I applaud those who advised Nina to suppress her identity ahead of the trial.

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What a Kindergartener Can Teach You About Gender Identity

From Huffington Post:


The Fox News/CNN dust-ups over California’s recently signed nondiscrimination law for transgender students have been on the edge of my radar all week. That being said, my rainbow issues outside work have been mostly limited to finding the seven different colors of folders that are on my two sons’ back-to-school supply lists. The other night, though, I finally had a chance to watch the two different segments that have generated so much buzz. I reacted to them as a parent.

During the CNN segment on the new law, the Transgender Law Center’s Masen Davis was interviewed along with another panelist. This derisive man signed off after speaking to Davis (a transgender man) and the female host by saying, “Hey, good to talk to you ladies,” plural. Really?! I immediately thought of my pre-tween son, because I spend a lot of my parenting efforts these days admonishing him for making even less obnoxious remarks. In that respect he is a typical 9-year-old boy, but I do not think any adult should feel particularly proud of engaging in the sort of behavior that’s typical of a 9-year-old.

The Fox News segment included a lot of speculation about what a kindergartener would do. Ironically, while the Fox commentators ended the segment by throwing their hands in the air and conceding that they just can’t wrap their heads around what being transgender is, my other son had it covered.

About six months ago my 6-year-old, Joshua, walked into our room while my husband Bob and I were watching a show in which the word “transgender” came up. He asked, “Mom, what is ‘transgender’?” For a moment I hesitated over how to respond. In my work persona, I still worry that I might use the wrong pronouns or just generally not get it right on trans issues and unintentionally hurt some great people. Should I quote the American Academy of Pediatrics research? Should I cite resources from PFLAG and Gender Spectrum?

I took a deep breath, and my mommy persona took over; I always try to answer questions from my sons as honestly and age-appropriately as I can. I simply explained as best as I could what being transgender is, but I also said that it’s a very complicated topic that sometimes even grownups struggle with. Joshua thought about it for a moment and then issued his surprising response: “No, it isn’t, Mom. It is just like my Lego Ninjagos when I put the male heads on the female bodies. No biggie. Can I have a cookie?” The whole exchange took three minutes.

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Better Treatment of Trans Women by Philly Police Could Have Averted Brutal Murder, Says Activist

From In These Times:

By Melissa Gira Grant
Thursday Aug 15, 2013

“We always seemed to really click together, personality-wise,” Aamina Morrison says of Diamond Williams, whom she first met in a Philadelphia LGBT youth group 12 years ago. “Like the issues of oppression we shared or things that came up in her own transition. She didn’t realize those little things she did for me right there helped me see the possibility for who I am today.”

Williams was brutally murdered last month, her body dismembered and thrown in a field. A 43-year-old Philadelphia man named Charles Sargent, who has previously been charged with rape and aggravated assault, confessed to the crime and led the police to Williams’s remains. He will be tried for murder.

Morrison is now co-director of the peer-led Trans-Health Information Project, which, along with other LGBTQ and social justice groups in Philadelphia, is demanding justice for Williams. They believe Williams was targeted because she was transgender and working in the sex trade. Bringing Sargent to trial isn’t enough, they say; they want changes to how police and the media respond to violence against members of the transgender community.

Morrison has her own reason to believe that if Philadelphia police treated transgender victims of violence better, the friend she remembers from her youth group would still be alive. She says that when she saw Sargent’s photograph in the press after his confession, “it immediately took me back to an incident I had with him.”

She was approached by Sargent in the winter of 2003, she tells In These Times. “I was between jobs at the time, and I had to go back to different ends so I could be able to survive.” Sargent offered her a ride home, she says, “and I gave him a price for whatever it was that he was looking for, and he complied. But something seemed a little sketchy.” He insisted that they park in an isolated place. Morrison says that when Sargent asked her to reach across him to the overhead compartment to take her money, “he put a knife to my neck and a gun to my side,” and said he would kill her if she didn’t do “everything he asked.”

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American Bar Association calls for ban on ‘gay and trans panic’ defence

From Daily Xtra:

Judges, lawmakers and juries must demand end to these practices: LGBT Bar Association

Published Mon, Aug 12, 2013

The American Bar Association (ABA) has unanimously approved a resolution calling on state legislatures to ban “gay panic” and “trans panic” defences in trials, the National LGBT Bar Association says in a statement.

Such defences are invoked in bids to excuse crimes on the grounds that someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction.

D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the LGBT Bar Association, says the ABA’s adoption of the measure sends the message that legal professionals find “no validity in the sham defenses mounted by those who seek to perpetuate discrimination and stereotypes as an excuse for violence.”

Kemnitz called on state legislatures to move expeditiously to enact the ABA’s recommendation.

“Judges, lawmakers and juries must demand that these practices come to an end and juries must be provided with instructions advising juries to make their decisions free of improper bias and prejudice,” Kemnitz says. “Today’s ABA resolution is an important first step towards realizing that goal.”

Complete article at:

See Also

The Edge Boston: ABA Unanimously Passes Resolution Curtailing “Gay Panic” Defense

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Compare and contrast radical feminism and liberal feminism?

From Wiki Answers:

Liberal Feminism holds that the oppression of women is the denial of their equal rights, representation, and access to opportunities. Liberal Feminism takes a gender-neutral/gender-blind approach and holds that all men and women are created equal and should be treated the same, and seeks to reform oppressive systems. Liberal Feminism focuses strongly on fixing women’s exclusion from political power.

Radical Feminism, is, as its name implies, more radical than Liberal feminism. Radical Feminism carries the belief that “the personal is political” and sees that the oppression of women is caused by patriarchy, a system of male authority, strongly manifested in sexuality, personal relationships, and the family, and then carried over into the rest of the man-dominated world. As opposed to Liberal Feminism, Radical Feminism does not take a gender-blind/gender-neutral approach; Radical Feminism acknowledges that there are differences between men and women, and society should change to value those differences instead of devaluing the “feminine.”

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Of course all men don’t hate women. But all men must know they benefit from sexism

From New Statesman UK:

Anger is an entirely appropriate response to learning that you’re implicated in a system that oppresses women – but the solution isn’t to direct that anger back at women.

This is going to hurt. In the past few months, it has been almost impossible to open a newspaper or turn on a television without encountering a story about another underage girl being raped, another female politician harassed, another trans woman murdered. But as women, girls and a growing number of male allies start speaking out against sexism and injustice, a curious thing is happening: some people are complaining that speaking about prejudice is itself a form of prejudice.
These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men – just somemen.
This type of semantic squabbling is a very effective way of getting women to shut up. After all, most of us grew up learning that being a good girl was all about putting other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We aren’t supposed to say what we think if there’s a chance it might upset somebody else or, worse, make them angry. So we stifle our speech with apologies, caveats and soothing sounds. We reassure our friends and loved ones that “you’re not one of those men who hate women”.
What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.
You can be the gentlest, sweetest man in the world yet still benefit from sexism. That’s how oppression works. Thousands of otherwise decent people are persuaded to go along with an unfair system because it’s less hassle that way. The appropriate response when somebody demands a change in that unfair system is to listen, rather than turning away or yelling, as a child might, that it’s not your fault. And it isn’t your fault. I’m sure you’re lovely. That doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to do something about it.
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Harvey Fierstein calls out Chris Hayes for dismissing LGBT boycott of Russian Olympics

From Raw Story:

By David Ferguson
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tony award-winning actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein slammed MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Wednesday over the way “All In with Chris Hayes” dismissed proposed boycotts of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia over the country’s draconian anti-LGBT laws that ban “gay propaganda.” Fierstein said that to award Russia the prestige and profit of hosting the games is not appropriate and that “when evil shows its face, you have to answer.”

Fierstein was responding to a segment from Tuesday night’s “All In” called “Why boycotting the Olympics won’t help Russian gays” in which Olympic tennis gold medalist Gigi Fernandez and New Republic writer Julia Ioffe both said that to boycott the Olympics would be a waste of time and effort.

Fernandez said, “I’ve never been a proponent of mixing politics with sports. There are so many athletes that this is their one moment. Many athletes were really hurt in 1980 when we boycotted Russia. I think it sends the wrong message. It hurts the wrong people. I’m not a proponent of it.”

LGBT activist Richard Socarides said that the question on the table is one of people’s safety. He said that the games should be moved, that the IOC should stick to its charter of not having games in nations that discriminate openly, an idea that Hayes seemed to find ridiculous, laughingly calling that iteration “a cut-rate version” of the games.

Ioffe opined that she has lived in Russia and that Russians believe that homosexuality comes from the West. Boycotts and protests, she said, will just be seen by Russians as Western histrionics. “If anything,” she said, “it might make it worse” on Russia’s LGBT population.

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