How do they always end up being about bathrooms?
I’m talking about the debates and protests that accompany any attempt to ensure that gender-variant individuals have the same rights as everybody else.
It happened here in New York. It’s happened in other cities and states where someone tried to add language to existing civil- or human-rights laws or enact school policies (like A.B. 1266 in California) to ensure that transgender kids are treated with dignity and respect.
When transpobes — let’s call them what they are! — can’t think of any logical reason to keep us from living in peace as the people we are, they try to whip up fear about what will happen if some boy or man feigns gender identity issues in order to peek at girls’ privates. Their “argument” is practically the definition of a red herring.
We all know that there are some things that combat veterans will only tell each other. The same holds true for trans people: We are frank about our pasts in ways that we can’t be with most of the rest of the world. In the many conversations I’ve had with other trans folk, I haven’t heard anyone mention going to the bathrooms of the “opposite” gender while they were in school, workplaces or public spaces in the long years before they “came out.” Yes, we longed to use those bathrooms, but only because we believed that we would feel safer and more comfortable in them.
Many of us can recall some incident or another in which a schoolmate or someone was caught peeping in toilet stalls. Of the people who recall such incidents, not one (with whom I’ve spoken, anyway) recalled the peeper claiming that he “felt like a girl” or that she is “really a boy.” Likewise, in all the incidents in which an employer or store owner placed surveillance cameras in bathrooms, showers or fitting rooms (usually women’s), not one claimed that he did it because he “felt trapped in the wrong body.”
If anything, I would think that men who peep, whether in person or remotely, wouldn’t ever want to admit to feeling female or feminine in any way. In that sense, they are like nearly all cisgender males — whether straight, gay, bisexual or of some other orientation — I have ever met. Even most cross dressers I’ve met have absolutely no desire to be, in their “civilian” lives, anything but the gender to which they were assigned at birth.
As for females who sneak peeks in men’s bathrooms, I don’t doubt that they exist, but I haven’t heard of any. Somehow, I can’t imagine that they would do such a thing because they believed themselves to be male. At least, I’ve never heard of any girl or woman claiming that she’s “really a guy” in order to use the men’s room. Very few women, I think, are stupid enough to subject themselves to the hazards of such “explorations.”
July 26, 2013
More and more initiatives are springing up around the world to accept and welcome trans children and to help them transition into the gender they identify with (if they identify with any gender at all). One such program has formed the subject of photographer Lindsay Morris’ latest project, You Are You. Showcasing the lives of trans girls and gender non-conforming boys at an unidentified summer camp structured specifically for their needs, You Are You has been unfolding over the past three years. The resulting insight into the lives of these children is both beautiful and bittersweet.
Morris’ photographs are diverse. In one, a typically girly child mugs for the camera, their yellow blouse set atop a green, frilly skirt. In another, a more boyish child with short hair and long basketball shorts sits concentrating on a make-up compact, a brush poised in their hand above their cheek. A third shows a small child dressed as Merida, the courageous princess from Disney’s Brave.
The fact that all of Morris’ subjects are biologically male is the least interesting part of a tableaux that explores fantasy and imagination. As Slate’s recent profile on You Are You states, “it is unknown if the kids at the camp will eventually identify as gay or transgender” but Camp ‘You Are You’; “allows the kids to look at themselves in a completely different way.”
Places like Camp ‘You Are You’ (whose name has been changed to protect its members and their families) are instrumental in providing a safe space for trans kids to express themselves freely, without fear of persecution or bullying. The American Camp Association has taken a decidedly pro-trans stance, highlighting the role that the American camp tradition can play in creating safe and welcoming spaces for trans kids; Camp Aranu’tiq has been welcoming trans kids for years.
As Bedford Hope, the father of a trans child, wrote in 2010, “The camp experience is surreal, a trip to a planet where we’re normal. The kids run wild, doing kid stuff, including improvisational theatre and dance, lip-syncing to Lady Gaga. They prepare for (and fret over) the weekend’s climax – a fashion show in which each child, in turn, will march down a runway in a get-up of their own devising. Until they run themselves ragged and then sit in circles in our rooms painting their nails and telling poop jokes. For once, we don’t hover over them. It’s safe here.”
It’s safe here.
Of course, there remains a cohort of people frightened by what might happen should we let this marauding band of boys frolic freely in mounds of pink glitter and swathes of organza. We’re talking Old Testament! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!
By RJ Aguiar
Failed Republican presidential candidate and current Fox News pundit Mike Huckabee recently joined the growing chorus of conservative talking heads that disapprove of California’s new legal protections for trans public school students. On last night’s episode of Huckabee, the show’s eponymous host briefly mentioned the fact that advocates pushed this legislation through in order to better addressed the bullying and harassment faced by trans students. Rather than seize the opportunity to discuss the issue in depth, however, he instead chose to engage in a bit of ignorant banter with guest Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute. Both took turns spouting many of the same inane counter-arguments already expressed by previous opponents of the new law.
“I’m having a hard time, thinking back to my school days, that a biological boy going into the girls’ restroom would be less subject to being ridiculed and bullied than not,” said Huckabee, trying his best to seem sympathetic to the plight of trans students. That was a sufficient set up for England, who claimed that:
“Current law is sufficient. This is very extreme, very radical, that they are going to let boys wake up one day, decide that they’re girls, and let them have access to our restrooms and our locker rooms in all of our public schools in California. This is for kindergarteners as well as high schoolers.”
Huckabee jumped in immediately afterward, saying that the new law establishes no standard for how a student can establish their gender identity:
“If the child…a boy…walks in and says ‘you know what, I really am feeling my girl’s side, he gets to go shower with the girls when he’s 14. I mean, I’m just thinking of all the 14-year-old boys I went to school with, and how many of them would have awakened with that revelation.”
Of course, Huckabee is no expert in gender identity issues, and according to Equality Matters, neither is England:
Walmart’s planned takeover of urban markets threatens to cut off other viable economic development options.
By Stacy Mitchell
August 21, 2013
This article was published in partnership with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance .
Almost 30 years ago, as the U.S. was bleeding jobs, Walmart launched a “Buy America” program and started hanging “Made in America” signs in its 750 stores. It was a marketing success, cementing the retailer’s popularity in the country’s struggling, blue-collar heartland. A few years later, NBC’s Dateline revealed the program to be a sham . Sure, Walmart was willing to buy U.S.-made goods — so long as they were as cheap as imports, which, of course, they weren’t. Dateline found that Walmart’s sourcing was in fact rapidly shifting to Asia.
This year, Walmart is back with a new “Buy America” program. In January, the company announced that it would purchase an additional $50 billion worth of domestic goods over the next decade. This week, Walmart is convening several hundred suppliers, along with a handful of governors, for a summit on U.S. manufacturing .
This sounds pretty substantial, but in fact it’s just a more sophisticated and media savvy version of Walmart’s hollow 1980s Buy America campaign. For starters, $50 billion over a decade may sound huge at first, but measured against Walmart’s galactic size, it’s not. An additional $5 billion a year amounts to only 1.5 percent of what Walmart currently spends on inventory.
Worse, very little of this small increase in spending on American-made goods will actually result in new U.S. production and jobs. Most of the projected increase will simply be a byproduct of Walmart’s continued takeover of the grocery industry. Most grocery products sold in the U.S. are produced here. As Walmart expands its share of U.S. grocery sales — it now captures 25 percent, up from 6 percent in 1998 — it will buy more U.S. foods. But this doesn’t mean new jobs, because other grocers are losing market share and buying less. What it does mean is lower wages. As I reported earlier this year, Walmart’s growing control of the grocery sector is pushing down wages throughout food production .
Those who regularly read my blogs know I am an out spoken Free Thinking atheist. At the same time I am actually supportive of people who find inspiration to do what is good, kind and decent within their religion, whether that means working for peace, the environment or in showing kindness to the poor, the stricken, the homeless and the unfortunate.
Stories like this one cause me to think that these folks actually got the message that their Bible is trying to teach.
From Love Wins Ministries: http://lovewins.info/2013/08/feeding-homeless-apparently-illegal-in-raleigh-nc/
August 24, 2013
On the morning of Saturday, August, 24, Love Wins showed up at Moore Square at 9:00 a.m., just like we have done virtually every Saturday and Sunday for the last six years. We provide, without cost or obligation, hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich to anyone who wants one. We keep this promise to our community in cooperation with five different, large suburban churches that help us with manpower and funding.
On that morning three officers from Raleigh Police Department prevented us from doing our work, for the first time ever. An officer said, quite bluntly, that if we attempted to distribute food, we would be arrested.
Our partnering church brought 100 sausage biscuits and large amounts of coffee. We asked the officers for permission to disperse the biscuits to the over 70 people who had lined up, waiting to eat. They said no. I had to face those who were waiting and tell them that I could not feed them, or I would be arrested.
In the past, we have had a good working relationship with the Raleigh Police Department. We knew that we could not use the park itself, as doing so required a permit, but that it was acceptable to set up on the sidewalk, as long as we did not block the sidewalk and cleaned up after ourselves. We have operated, unmolested, under this assumption for the last six years.
By the way, each permit to use the park costs $800. Yes, eight hundred dollars. That would cost us $1,600 every weekend, and the officer we spoke to said the City likely wouldn’t approve it anyway.
No representative from the Raleigh Police Department was willing to tell us which ordinance we broke, or why, after six years and countless friendly and cooperative encounters with the Department, they are now preventing us from feeding hungry people.
When I asked the officer why, he said that he was not going to debate me. “I am just telling you what is. Now you pass out that food, you will go to jail.”
What We Will Do
Simple: we will feed people. I am, after all (however imperfectly), a follower of Jesus, who said himself that when we ignore hungry people, we ignore him.
We knew that with the upcoming revitalization of Moore Square, we would have to find alternative arrangements. We have been working to that end, but as the revitalization is currently unfunded, and has no start date, we felt we had some time.
Continue reading at: http://lovewins.info/2013/08/feeding-homeless-apparently-illegal-in-raleigh-nc/
By Steven SalaitaSunday, Aug 25, 2013
My 16-month-old son was having a bad day. When he doesn’t sleep in the car, he usually points and babbles his approval of all the wonderful things babies notice that completely escape adult attention. On this afternoon, though, he was teething and hungry, a lethal scenario for an energetic youngster strapped into a high-tech seating apparatus (approved and installed, of course, by the state).
When it became clear he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, sleep it out, my wife and I stopped at a nondescript exit, the kind one finds every six miles in the South, with two gas stations and three abandoned buildings (if you’re lucky, you also get a Hampton Inn and Cracker Barrel). While she tended to the baby, I entered a convenience store — one of those squat, glass and plastic rectangles that looks like a Sears & Roebuck erector set — praying it would have something other than beer, cigarettes and beef jerky.
I settled on two Kraft mozzarella sticks, resisting the urge to purchase for myself a shiny red can of Four Loko.
“That’ll be $1.82,” the lady at the counter cheerily informed me. After I handed her two ones, she asked, “Would you like to donate your change to the troops?” I noticed a jar with “support our troops” taped to it in handwritten ink.
“No, thank you,” I answered firmly.
“Well … OK, then, sir,” she responded in subtle reproach, her smile not quite so ascendant anymore. “You have a good day now.”
She had good reason to be disappointed. The vast majority of customers, I imagine, spare a few dimes and pennies for so important a cause. Her response evinced more shock than anger. She wasn’t expecting a refusal of 18 cents, even from a guy who looks very much like those responsible for the danger to our troops.
Besides, nobody likes to have their altruism invalidated by a recalcitrant or ungrateful audience.
I could have asked how the donations would be used, but no matter the answer I would have kept my 18 cents. I don’t consider patriotism a beneficent force, for it asks us to exhibit loyalty to nation-states that never fully accommodate their entire populations. In recent years I’ve grown fatigued of appeals on behalf of the troops, which intensify in proportion to the belligerence or potential unpopularity of the imperial adventure du jour.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/25/no_thanks_i_wont_support_the_troops/
By Joshua Holland, Moyers & Company
Thursday, August 22, 2013
These papers are then amplified by the right-wing media, forming the basis for calls to further eviscerate a social safety net that’s already been tattered and torn by 30 years of ascendant neoliberalism.
Running the numbers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Tanner and Hughes claim that “the current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work” and urge lawmakers to “consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements.”
From The New York Times: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/23/the-new-nuclear-craze/?_r=0
By MARK BITTMAN
August 23, 2013
There is a new discussion about nuclear energy, prompted by well-founded concerns about carbon emissions and fueled by a pro-nuclear documentary called “Pandora’s Promise.” Add a statement by James E. Hansen — who famously sounded the alarm on climate change — and, of course, industry propaganda, and presto: We Love Nukes.
Before we all become pro-nuclear greens, however, you’ve got to ask three questions: Is nuclear power safe and clean? Is it economical? And are there better alternatives?
No, no and yes. So let’s not swap the pending environmental disaster of climate change for another that may be equally risky.
Despite all-out efforts and international cooperation, Fukushima, which scared Germany right out of the nuclear power business, still isn’t under control. Proponents of nuclear power promise new and safer technology, but these discussions are filled with “coulds”; no such plants exist. Nor would they reduce the risks of proliferation. (Oh, that little thing.)
Nor would they do much to mitigate the all-too-infrequently discussed dangers of uranium mining, which uses vast amounts of water in the West — an area that can ill afford it — and is barely regulated or even studied. Thousands of uranium mines have been abandoned, and no one seems to know how many remain to be cleaned up. The cost of that cleanup, of course, will be borne by taxpayers, not industry.
Then there’s disposal of spent fuel, which is not contained at the same safety level as active fuel, itself a scary thought. Decades into the nuclear age there remains, incredibly, no real plan for this; a patchwork scheme by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which appears to be even more industry-friendly than most federal agencies, was rejected by an appeals court last year, and the Obama administration is standing by its campaign promise (shocking, I know) to abandon the nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Continue reading at: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/23/the-new-nuclear-craze/?_r=0