‘Trans Rights’ and ‘Gay Rights’: Someday We’ll Be Together Again

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/trans-rights-and-gay-rights_b_4109913.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


The New York Times, the nation’s paper of record, and one I’ve been reading since age 6, when my father began sending me to the candy store every week to buy the Sunday paper, has done a great job of increasing coverage of trans issues this past year. From presenting Professor Jenny Boylan’s musings to debates on gender transition in childhood, they have dived into the issue of sex and gender, where they had earlier feared to tread. Their reporting still leaves much room for improvement, but they have been engaging in intellectual debate, and that is a very hopeful and useful change.

This past week they published a series of point-counterpoint essays under the heading, “Are ‘trans rights’ and ‘gay rights’ still allies?” Essays from six trans persons, young and older, recent transitioners and some veterans, present various perspectives on the issue and point to the importance of each individual’s historical context and professional career. As a woman who was present at the Stonewall uprising, I can relate to Professor Susan Stryker’s words, and I’m very thankful to her for being the academic historian of the community for so many years. She faithfully records some of the gay community’s worst prejudice back in the ’70s and ’80s, when the Gay Liberation Front in New York marginalized the trans community. I should note, apropos of the title of this debate, that in those early post-Stonewall days, “gay” was used by trans women in an inclusive sense, with Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, two trans women of color who were leaders at the Stonewall uprising, recorded as calling themselves “gay.” Their goal was to “secure basic human rights, dignity and freedom for all gay people.”*

John Corvino makes the important point that sexual orientation and gender identity are two independent attributes. I have long taught that those attributes derive from independent brain functions, and it’s important that people understand the difference. But in generalizing that difference to the sociopolitical sphere, what he misses is that most Americans view sexual orientation through the lens of gender expression. To them, two men together is not a function of sexual orientation but the fact that they are not acting like men according to the commonly accepted code of masculinity. Most homophobia derives from this distaste for transgressions of gender boundaries and only manifests itself politically as a distaste for homosexuality. The gay rights movement expertly deflected the need to deal with attitudes surrounding gender expression within its own community by marginalizing the most gender-variant gay persons as well as the trans community, and much progress has resulted. But we have now reached the point where it is no longer a viable platform, and further civil rights advances will depend on a deeper understanding of sexuality than simply the superficial nature of gendered relationships, as discussed recently by E.J. Graff.

Tiq Milan of GLAAD helpfully references the divide between cisgender lesbians and the trans community, recently highlighted by Gloria Steinem’s public apology to the trans community in the Advocate. Thomas McBee properly notes that while LGB persons have been some of our most powerful allies, we have yet to get to the point where we are the ones speaking on issues that impact us and our community. The media, in particular, has been exasperatingly slow in updating its electronic rolodexes to bring trans voices to bear on newsworthy trans issues. And Mattilda Sycamore powerfully points out that the trans community, being as severely oppressed as it is, is part of a much larger marginalized community subject to powerful socioeconomic forces whose various subcommunities are often indistinguishable.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/trans-rights-and-gay-rights_b_4109913.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Colorado School District Defends Transgender Students’ Rights

From HRC Blog:  http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/colorado-school-district-defends-transgender-students-rights

by Maureen McCarty
October 17, 2013

Earlier this week, conservative media outlets, including Fox Nation, circulated now debunked reports that bolstered a bigoted campaign against a transgender student at Colorado’s Florence High School.

To its credit, school administrators have defended both the school’s policy and the transgender student victimized by extremist attacks.

“This is one parent basically bringing their view point about this situation to the media because they weren’t getting the responses that they hoped they would get from parents, from students at the high school or from the board and myself, “said Florence High School Superintendent Rhonda Vendetti in an interview with The Transadvocate’s Cristan Williams, who uncovered the truth behind conservative media reports.

Superintendent Vendetti continued,I think it’s just an attempt to elevate the situation to a point where maybe some more attention can be drawn to that in the hope of having a different outcome. There’s not been any incident of harassment or anything that would cause additional concern.”

The Colorado Education Association has also come out in support of Florence High School and the student. The CEA has been working with local affiliates on issues important to LGBT youth and their families, including professional development for educators.

“Our promise to our students is that the Colorado Education Association will lead the way in guaranteeing every student access to the best public education,” said CEA President Kerrie Dallman. “As educators we all have a responsibility to ensure a safe and inclusive learning environment for every student.  No excuses.”

In August, California passed legislation – the first of its kind – to protect transgender students from this exact form of bullying.

Continue reading at:  http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/colorado-school-district-defends-transgender-students-rights

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Fox News promotes false story about transgender student harassing girls in bathroom

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/16/fox-news-promotes-false-story-about-transgender-student-harassing-girls-in-bathroom/

By Travis Gettys
Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fox News was fooled by a tendentious report advanced by right-wing Christian media about a transgender student who was allegedly harassing girls in a Colorado high school bathroom.

Fox Nation on Monday promoted a Daily Mail article that has since been pulled from the site and debunked by the school’s superintendent that was based on a complaint by the conservative Pacific Justice Institute and reported by the Christian Broadcasting Network.

“A male student at Florence High School who claims to be a transgender has been harrassing (sic) girls in the bathroom,” CBN reported Sunday. “When parents complained, school officials said the boy’s rights as a transgender trumped their daughters’ privacy rights.”

The CBN article claims students were told they could be kicked off sports teams or charged with hate crimes if they continued to voice their concerns about the situation.

“We’re not going to stand by and let 99.7 percent of our students lose their privacy and free speech rights just because .3 percent of the population are gender-confused,” the PJI wrote in its letter to the school.

A PJI attorney is quoted in the letter describing the situation as “a nightmare scenario for the teenage girls—some of them freshmen—and their parents at this school.”

“This is exactly the kind of horror story we have been warning would accompany the push for radical transgender rights in schools,” said attorney Matthew McReynolds, “and it is the type of situation that LGBT activits (sic) have been insisting would not happen.”

According to the school’s superintendent, it probably didn’t happen.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/16/fox-news-promotes-false-story-about-transgender-student-harassing-girls-in-bathroom/

Right-Wing Group: Presence of Trans Student in Girls’ Restroom Is ‘Harassment’

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/transgender/2013/10/18/right-wing-group-presence-trans-student-girls-restroom-harassment

False reports have been circulating of harassment by a transgender girl at a Colorado high school, and now a conservative group says she’s committing harassment simply by using the girls’ restroom.

BY Trudy Ring
October 18 2013

An anti-LGBT group has essentially admitted that reports of a transgender student was harassing others at a Colorado school were fabricated, saying the mere presence of the student in the girls’ restroom constituted harassment.

The Pacific Justice Institute, which works against LGBT rights, issued a statement this week to transgender rights group TransAdvocate, saying in part, “It is our position that the intrusion of a biological male into a restroom for teenage girls is inherently intimidating and harassing.”

Several right-wing news outlets had picked up the story, but administrators at Florence High School said no incidents of harassment had been reported — one parent had merely brought up their fears of harassment to school officials and the media.

Tea party leader proposes ‘class action lawsuit’ against ‘homosexuality’

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/18/tea-party-leader-proposes-class-action-lawsuit-against-homosexuality/

By David Edwards
Friday, October 18, 2013

A tea party leader and former Baptist pastor — who believes that AIDS is God’s judgement against LGBT people — this week proposed filing a “class action lawsuit” against “homosexuality.”

At a Tea Party Unity event on Thursday, LGBT activist Peter LaBarbera told group Chairman Rick Scarborough that Fox News should be pushed to cover “these wonderful stories of happy men and women who have left the homosexual lifestyle” like they covered African-American conservatives.

“We need to work on our conservative, alternate media and say, ‘Look, don’t do the pro-gay thing, why don’t you rather step out and support these ex-gays?’ We should encourage Fox News to tell their stories,” LaBarbera said. “Fox is now telling the stories of black conservatives because the other media is not doing that, we should all get on Fox and say, ‘Come on, tell these stories, these wonderful stories of happy men and women who have left the homosexual lifestyle.’”

Scarborough, however, had a different plan for fighting what LaBarbera had called “the pro-gay thing.”

“Peter, the whole issue of a class action lawsuit, you and I have talked about this a little bit,” Scarborough pointed out. “I just wonder if you’ve explored that, talked to anyone about it.”

The former Baptist pastor opined that “homosexuality much more likely leads to AIDS than smoking leads to cancer. And yet the entire nation has rejected smoking, billions of dollars are put into a trust fund to help cancer victims and the tobacco industry was held accountable for that.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/18/tea-party-leader-proposes-class-action-lawsuit-against-homosexuality/

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Obama’s efforts to control leaks ‘most aggressive since Nixon’, report finds

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/10/obama-leaks-aggressive-nixon-report-prosecution

Administration’s tactics, which include using Espionage Act to pursue leakers, have had chilling effect on accountability – study

in New York
theguardian.com, Thursday 10 October 2013

Barack Obama has pursued the most aggressive “war on leaks” since the Nixon administration, according to a report published on Thursday that says the administration’s attempts to control the flow of information is hampering the ability of journalists to do their jobs.

The author of the study, the former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, says the administration’s actions have severely hindered the release of information that could be used to hold it to account.

Downie, an editor during the Post’s investigations of Watergate, acknowledged that Obama had inherited a culture of secrecy that had built up since 9/11. But despite promising to be more open, Obama had become “more aggressive”, stepping up the Espionage Act to pursue those accused of leaking classified information.

“The war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration,” Downie said in the report, which was commissioned by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Those suspected of discussing with reporters anything that the government has classified as secret are subject to investigation, including lie detector tests and scrutiny of their telephone and email records,” the report says.

This had a chilling effect on government accountability, even on matters that were less sensitive, it said.

David Sanger, the chief Washington correspondent for the New York Times and one of 30 journalists interviewed by Downie, says in the report: “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/10/obama-leaks-aggressive-nixon-report-prosecution

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The Abject Failure of Reaganomics

From Consortium News:  http://consortiumnews.com/2013/10/17/the-abject-failure-of-reaganomics/

By Robert Parry
October 17, 2013

Even as the Republican Right licks its wounds after taking a public-opinion beating over its government shutdown and threatened credit default, the Tea Partiers keep promoting a false narrative on why the U.S. debt has ballooned and why the economy struggles, a storyline that will surely influence the next phase of this American political crisis.

If a large segment of the American public continues to buy into the Tea Party’s fake reality, then it is likely that both the political damage and the economic decline will continue apace, with fewer good-paying jobs, a shrinking middle class and more of the bitter alienation that has fed the Tea Party’s growth in the first place. In other words, the United States will remain in a vicious circle that is also a downward spiral.

The pattern can only be reversed if American voters come to understand how and why their economic well-being is getting flushed down the drain.

The first point to understand is that the current $16.7 trillion federal debt is about $11 trillion more than it was when George W. Bush took office. Not only did Bush’s tax-cut-and-war-spending policies send the debt soaring over the next dozen years but it was those policies that eliminated the federal surpluses of Bill Clinton’s final years and reversed a downward trend in the debt that had “threatened” to eliminate the debt entirely over the ensuing decade.

Amazingly, President Clinton left office in January 2001 with the federal budget in the black by $236 billion and with a projected 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion. The budgetary trend lines were such that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan began to fret about the challenges the Fed might face in influencing interest rates if the entire U.S. government debt were paid off, thus leaving no debt obligations to sell.

Thus, Greenspan, an Ayn Rand acolyte who was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, threw his considerable prestige behind George W. Bush’s plan for massive tax cuts that would primarily benefit the wealthy. In that way, Bush and the Republicans “solved” the “problem” of completely paying off the federal debt.

When Bush left office in January 2009 – amid a meltdown of an under-regulated Wall Street – there was no more talk about a debt-free government. Indeed, the debt had soared to $10.6 trillion and was trending rapidly higher as the government scrambled to avert a financial catastrophe that could have brought on another Great Depression.

Continue reading at:  http://consortiumnews.com/2013/10/17/the-abject-failure-of-reaganomics/

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Climate Change & The Power of Plants

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Koch Brothers’ Petcoke Piling Up in Chicago

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/18-9

The by-product of tar sands production already caused outrage in Detroit; now, the dusty menace grows in Chicago

Andrea Germanos

The tar sands refining by-product petroleum coke, known as petcoke, gained attention earlier this year when piles of the toxic substance stored along Detroit’s riverfront were mounding up and causing high-carbon, high-sulfur clouds to blanket neighborhoods.

Now toxic mounds of the substance are piling up in Chicago, specifically on the city’s southeast side along the Calumet River.

Like the ones in Detroit, Chicago’s black piles of petcoke are thanks to the Alberta tar sands and the Koch Brothers, and local residents are sounding the alarm about the coal-like substance’s health and environmental impacts.

As Oil Change International explains,

Petcoke is a refining byproduct of tar sands oil, and when burned is substantially dirtier than coal and contributes significantly to greenhouse gas pollution.

The petcoke starts off in a BP refining facility in Whiting, Indiana. Then, the Chicago Tribune reports,

All of the petcoke from Whiting eventually is sent by train, truck or barge to sites on Chicago’s Southeast Side owned by KCBX Terminals. The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy conservative industrialists who back groups that challenge the science behind climate change and oppose many environmental regulations.

Last year, KCBX bought the larger of the two sites — between 108th and 111th streets on the east side of the Calumet River — from a subsidiary of Detroit-based DTE Energy. As part of the deal, the company obtained exclusive rights to store petcoke from the nearby BP refinery. The other storage site is across the river just south of 100th Street.

The problem is likely to get worse, as BP has plans to triple the amount stored in the city by the end of the year.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/18-9

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Canada Sends Paramilitaries to Clear Fracking Protest

From The Progressive: http://www.progressive.org/canada-sends-armed-paramilitaries-to-clear-fracking-protesters

By Stephen C. Webster,
Oct. 17, 2013

Canadian authorities on Thursday sent armed paramilitaries wearing camouflage and carrying high-powered rifles to clear out a group of anti-fracking protesters who’ve blockaded a gas exploration site since Sept. 30, area media reported.

“I can confirm police are enforcing a court injunction and in order to ensure public safety, we have closed the road until it is resolved,” a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) told the CBC. “The road will remain closed until the situation has been resolved and certainly public safety is our No. 1 priority at this point.”

The blockade was being manned by members of the indigenous Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation, the Acadians and the Anglophones, who banded together with local activists to prevent a gas exploration project in New Brunswick from going forward. The company behind the project is SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of Houston-based SWN Energy.

Video shared on Twitter by activists at the scene (embedded below) shows men in camouflage uniforms aiming sniper rifles and assault weapons at the protesters as activists repeatedly inform them that they are not armed. A reporter with the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (ATPN) also captured images of several police vehicles on fire after the confrontation began around 1 p.m. eastern.

Continue reading at:  http://www.progressive.org/canada-sends-armed-paramilitaries-to-clear-fracking-protesters

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Kieron Bryan and the Arctic 30

From Truth Outhttp://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19440-kieron-bryan-and-the-arctic-thirty

By Andrew Wallace Chamings
Friday, 18 October 2013

On September 18, 2013, activists aboard the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise attempted to climb onto the Gazprom Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Pechora Sea in protest against the perceived high risk to the environment of offshore drilling in the Arctic.

Russian coast guards descended from helicopters onto the ship, threatening the crew with knives and guns. Video footage of the confrontation can be found here.

The next day, the ship was seized by the coast guard and towed to the port of Murmansk, where crew members were taken to a detention facility for questioning. Despite President Vladimir Putin’s proclamation that the detainees were “obviously not pirates,” all 30 have since been charged with piracy, which in Russia carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years.

Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace USA said, “It was the stiffest response that Greenpeace has encountered since the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985.”

The captain of the Arctic Sunrise is American Peter Willcox, who was also the captain of the Rainbow Warrior, bombed by French intelligence services in 1985, resulting in the death of photographer Fernando Pereira.

Two journalists were aboard the Arctic Sunrise, Russian photographer Denis Sinyakov and British freelance videographer Kieron Bryan, alongside the 28 activists.

Despite the efforts of Reporters Without Borders and a growing protest in the UK, it seems that the Russian courts have not made any distinction between the two journalists and the other activists.

While the case has been getting mainstream media attention in the UK and drawing celebrities to a thousand-strong protest outside the Russian Embassy in London, the US press has not yet devoted much coverage to the case, despite the incarceration of a US citizen, Willcox.

On October 9, Russian authorities claimed that hard drugs were found on the ship, and the charges will be modified accordingly. “During a search of the ship, drugs (apparently poppy straw and morphine) were confiscated,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19440-kieron-bryan-and-the-arctic-thirty

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