I have been friends with hundreds of TS/TG men and women in real life and hundreds more on line.
Some are the finest people I have ever met.
Most of us are just struggling along trying the best we can to stay true to ourselves and our own morals. Many of us want to leave the world a better place and have our own causes in addition the issues surrounding the lives of TS/TG people.
For many of us transitioning brings a startling awareness of the world of unconsidered privileges.
But just being TS/TG doesn’t make one automatically a good person.
I have a real feeling that being TS/TG just means you are TS/TG.
I know the impulses that made me a trans-activist, a feminist, and LGBT activist, and an environmentalist were formed years before. They were formed seeing the lunch counter sit-ins on the evening news and in Life Magazine. They grew out of growing up close to the mountains, lakes, streams and woods of the Adirondacks. They grew out of the songs of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.
But mostly the grew out of being raised with that strong Yankee ethos still found in places like Vermont, that sense of decency and righteous anger at irrational prejudice and injustice.
I’m sure others would credit different sources for the development of their ethos and morality.
All I am saying is that Those sisters and brothers who are good, decent, highly ethical people were that sort of person prior to their transition.
I have also known TS/TG people who were stone cold racists, bigots, homophobes, anti-Semites and ironically TG/TS hating bigots lacking the self awareness that would allow them to see their bigotry as being a reflection of their own inner turmoil and self hatred.
I’m pretty damned sure they were that way prior to their transitioning and stayed that way. Never gaining a drop of compassion or empathy along the way.
From what I have seen of some of the TS/TG hating TS/TG bigots every single sick and miserable label, every deviant perverted drive they try to label other people with is more applicable to them than it is others.
These sad sick individuals as exemplified by Jennifer Usher engage in some of the nastiest forms of trolling and unmitigated filthy hate speech found on the internet.
They libel and slander other TS/TG people with a level of vapid viciousness usually found only on Neo-Nazi, MRA, Christo-Fascist or TERF sites. Yet if anyone would fail the tests for “True Transsexual” it is Jennifer “more than a transvestite but less than a transsexual” Usher. A late emerging, formerly married heterosexual cross-dresser who thought transition would put some magic into her life.
Jennifer Usher was a miserable excuse for a human being when I first encountered her on the Usenet nearly 20 years ago and hasn’t improved one iota since. If anything Usher has gotten worse.
Usher is so vile that even Elizabeth over at Notes From the T-Side, an HBS blog, is fed up with her as is Cassandra Speaks.
Now both Elizabeth and Cassandra are too HBS purist for me to support on general principles yet we are united in our supporting the rights of transkids being able to transition while still children including the right to use the gender appropriate restrooms and have the gender appropriate sports opportunities.
Perhaps we remember being transkids, something Usher never experienced.
I may be a lesbian identified bisexual woman yet I was a transkid. It was written on my body for all the world to read even before I first came out to my parents when I was 15 or transitioned at 21.
I know how much easier my life would have been if I had been able to transition as a kid and complete my education with the sort of parental and institutional support these kids are getting.
Unlike Usher I do not get my information from Wing Nut Daily or some right wing Christo-Fascist radio babbler.
I actually trust my decent TS/TG activist friends and the LGBT political and support institutions providing the support that allows these kids to have as non-disrupted a childhood and educational experience as possible.
Only an ugly hateful loser like Usher would embrace the bigotry spewed by the Neo-Nazi right, and the bigots who have decried that TS/TG people are to be the latest designated scapegoats now that marriage equality as an issue has turned into a losing proposition.
Like to munch on those gummy bears or jelly beans or candy corn as you spruce up your Halloween costume? Well, for every handful of what you think might be good, clean fun or a childhood sense memory, you’re putting money into the pocket of one of the men who’s trying to take away the rights of trans and non-gender-conforming expressive students.
These are kids like 12-year-old Jazz, who wanted to play on the girls’ soccer team at school, and 6-year-old Coy Mathis, whose family fought back after the school said she was not allowed to use the girls’ bathroom. For their courage—and that of their families—the two trans girls (pictured above) were honored by GLAAD at the organization’s 24th Media Awards gala in New York City last March
Herman Rowland Sr., Chair of the Jelly Belly Candy Company, is a major contributor to the Privacy for All Students initiative campaign—led by Prop. 8 strategist Frank Schubert, who is now the political director for the National Organization for Marriage. Just as he did with the misrepresentations and scare tactics of the Prop. 8 campaign, Schubert is trying to collect enough signatures to put an initiative on the 2014 ballot to repeal the historic “School Success and Opportunity Act, ” AB 1266, authored by out Assemblymember Tom Ammiano. The transgender student law goes into effect on Jan. 1, unless the measure qualifies, which would put the law on hold.
In a recent L.A. Times opinion piece, George Skelton interviewed both Schubert and Wendy Hill, identified as “a state Assembly staffer who helped guide a new transgender-rights law through the Legislature.”
“Our challenge is to get on the ballot,” Schubert says. “If we do, I don’t think we’ll have a great deal of difficulty winning the campaign. Most people I talk to can’t believe they [Gov. Brown, the California Legislature, Democrats] did this. What were they thinking? To say that we need to open up our school showers and bathrooms just doesn’t make sense.”
But Hill, the legislative staffer who also does private transgender counseling, says the common fear that a boy could be showering with girls, or vice versa, is outdated. Public schools generally haven’t had open showers for many years, she says.
They can’t afford the water, the towels or the janitorial service, she asserts, “and most important, they don’t want to be responsible for watching all the naked minors” and worrying about accusations of teacher molestation. “In some schools that still have showers, they’re single-stalled, with curtains.”
“They have bathrooms and changing areas,” Schubert counters. “Kids are going to be exposed.”
Hill, a lesbian, responds that “the very last thing” transgender children want to expose is their genitalia: “It gives them away.” They’re not old enough to have had transgender surgery.
From The Progressive: http://progressive.org/health-care-a-growing-fight-for-transgender-patients
By Nina Martin, Pro Publica,
Oct. 22, 2013
Last spring, Jennifer Blair, a 62-year-old aspiring therapist who lives in Denver, noticed the kind of changes in her breast tissue 2014 rapid, abnormal growth on one side of her chest 2014 that would frighten any woman and alarm any physician.
Blair didn’t have health insurance, but because she didn’t earn much money, she qualified for Colorado’s state-run Women’s Wellness Connection program, which funds free mammograms through Planned Parenthood and other health-care providers.
Or so she thought. Blair was born a man, undergoing gender-reassignment surgery a decade ago. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which pays for the mammogram program, requires clients getting free screenings to be “genetically female.”
Blair eventually was able to scrape together the $400 cost of the mammogram, which ruled out cancer. But she said the frustration and humiliation still linger.
“It was so patently discriminatory and wrong,” she said.
Right or wrong, Blair’s predicament is one that advocates say more and more transgender people are confronting.
“This is just one example of the minefield that health care can be for a transgender person,” said Shane Snowdon, director of the Human Rights Campaign‘s Health & Aging Program (and before that, founding director of the Center for LGBT Health & Equity at the University of California San Francisco). “It’s very seldom that you don’t encounter some kind of problem accessing care.”
It’s a considerable conundrum, given the complicated medical issues many transgender people face. In Blair’s case, these include exposure to large amounts of estrogen, the side effects of which have been found to include an elevated risk of breast cancer and life-threatening blood clots.
Continue reading at: http://progressive.org/health-care-a-growing-fight-for-transgender-patients
By Alyssa Rosenberg
on October 18, 2013
The publication last year of University of Minnesota Professor Dale Carpenter’s book Flagrant Conduct, which examined the real relationship between John Geddes Lawrence and Tyron Garner, who became the plaintiffs in the landmark federal case striking down sodomy laws, has created an admirable urge to examine some of the founding stories of gay rights history with fresh eyes. What is unfortunate about this burst of critical thinking is that it may give some unwarranted credence to The Book Of Matt, a dreadful new compilation of Stephen Jimenez’s decade of reporting and research into the life and death of Matthew Shepard.
Shepard’s 1998 murder in Laramie, Wyoming, galvanized a national conversation about the visceral, violent nature of anti-gay hatred in America, and Shepard has persisted as a martyr figure and a cultural touchstone. Writing a compelling biography of Shepard fifteen years after his death might have been an important project. But Jimenez hasn’t given us that. Instead, The Book Of Matt isn’t really about Shepard at all. Rather, it’s an exceptionally shoddy attempt to prove that Shepard was killed because he was a major methamphetamine distributor who Aaron McKinney, one of the two men convicted in his death, intended to rob to pay drug debts and to feed his own habit. And most distastefully, it’s an opportunity for Jimenez to portray himself as a hero who’s stood up to political correctness.
If you want to prove a controversial theory about a story that’s become deeply embedded in accepted history, and to suggest that you have more integrity than your critics, it helps to impeccably document your claims. But the problems with Jimenez’s ethics begin in the Author’s Note that begin The Book of Matt. “Though this is a work of nonfiction journalism, I have occasionally employed methods that are slightly less stringent to re-create the dialogue of characters — words I did not personally hear; nor could the characters themselves recall every word exactly from memory,” he explains. “But my intention throughout has been to remain faithful to the actual characters and events as they really happened.” This is a dubious practice to employ at all, but Jimenez compounds the problem by not distinguishing which quotations are manufactured from recollections, which are paraphrases recounted by sources, and which were spoken directly to him.
By Eleanor J Bader
Sunday, 20 October 2013
“Fashion is symbolic, expressive, creative and coercive,” write feminist scholars Marjorie Jolles and Shira Tarrant in the introduction to their 2012 book Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style. (SUNY Press) “It is a powerful way to convey politics, personalities and preferences for whom and how we love. Fashion encourages profound rebellion and defiant self-definition. Yet fashion can simultaneously repress freedom by introducing and disciplining the body and by encouraging a problematic consumer culture.”
Not surprisingly, most feminists have an ambivalent relationship with fashion, on one hand wanting to assert a personal style while on the other bristling at standards that limit what is considered attractive or beautiful. This push-pull, say Jolles and Tarrant, illustrates why it is imperative that we analyze and decode the messages that fashion projects. That said, both authors stress that the use of style to signal membership in a particular group – be it the business world, a biker gang, hipsterdom or sex work – should be of interest to everyone, male and female, cis and trans, of all ages, races and social classes. Indeed, as Tarrant laughingly told Truthout, “We all get dressed in the morning.”
And, of course, we do. Whether we wear hijab and abaya, five-inch heels and spandex, or baggy sweats and T-shirts, our fashion choices present a shorthand clue about who we are, a way for neighbors, colleagues and folks on the street to size us up. Indeed, what we’re wearing is likely one of the first things we notice when we meet one another, which is why, Jolles and Tarrant argue, it is so important to think about. What’s more, as both “a tool of agency and source of constraint,” fashion tells us something about group dynamics and the human need for creative expression and conformity.
Jolles, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Chicago’s Roosevelt University, and Tarrant, a professor in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department at California State University, Long Beach (and the author of Men and Feminism and When Sex Became Gender, among other texts) spoke to Truthout by telephone earlier this month.
By Lynn Stuart Parramore
October 17, 2013
As America is torn apart by extremists, maybe a deep dive into our individual and collective psychology is a good way to start figuring out what’s happening to us.
The problem, as it turns out, may be the difference in the way people view individuals and collectives; whether you’ve got a “me” or a “we” focus; and how big those categories happen to be.
john a. powell (his name is spelled without capitals) leads the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and is considered a leading thinker on race and ethnicity. He spoke Wednesday evening in Manhattan at the Union Theological Seminary as part of a joint series on Economics & Theology put on by UTS and the Institute of New Economic Thinking. INET’s executive director Rob Johnson, along with UTS president Serene Jones and Rachel Godsil of the American Values Institute, joined powell in a lively panel focused on how issues of race and belonging inform what’s happening in America today.
powell thinks a lot about meaning and being — what philosophers call ontology. He pays attention to the multiple levels at which humans exist and our struggle to make meaning of our lives, both as individuals and as groups. Along with Godsil, he studies how biases operate in our unconscious, with profound consequences for how we react to the world and each other.
The Tea Party is a fascinating case study for how these questions and ideas play out. Its members are bonded in anxiety and terror — a very powerful glue — over what America is becoming: something other than the “real America” they wish to belong to. Their America is white, Protestant and Anglo-Saxon (it’s no accident that the Right’s leading think tank is called the Heritage Foundation).
powell notes that while Tea Party members will tolerate a bit of diversity — the occasional Catholic or Jew — they primarily wish to protect the distinctiveness of their chosen group in the past, present and future. For them, someone like Obama represents the ultimate threat to maintaining this distinctiveness, the thing that makes them feel special. With his black/Muslim/immigrant associations he becomes the “trifecta of Otherness” — an unholy trinity that must be resisted at all costs. The Tea Partier perceives the President as the incarnation of a malevolent force that will take from them and give to Others. He is both the incarnation and the welcoming committee for the Stranger who doesn’t belong in America.
by Erik Altieri
October 22, 2013
Gallup released new polling data today that shows an overwhelming majority of Americans want marijuana to be legalized. According to their survey, 58% of Americans support legalizing marijuana, while only 39% are opposed. This is up significantly from the last time Gallup polled the question in 2012, when only 48% of Americans were in favor and 50% were opposed. For historical perspective, the first time they surveyed this question in 1969 a paltry 12% of Americans were in favor of legalization.
The support for marijuana legalization has seen unprecedented momentum in the past several years. Gallup observes, “Whatever the reasons for Americans’ greater acceptance of marijuana, it is likely that this momentum will spur further legalization efforts across the United States. Advocates of legalizing marijuana say taxing and regulating the drug could be financially beneficial to states and municipalities nationwide.”
“The American people have opened their eyes to the failure that is marijuana prohibition and there is no putting the genie back in the bottle. Following the successful passage of marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington in 2012, the people of this country see that a new approach to marijuana policy is both required and possible,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “The majority of Americans now agree that it is time to legalize and regulate. The issue can no longer be ignored or sidelined. Legalization is now the mainstream position and supporters of perpetuating our war on marijuana will continue to be further relegated to the fringe.”
The strongest support was coming from those ages 18-29 (67%), ages 30-49 (62%), Democrats (65%), and Independents (62%). The only major demographic groups lacking majority support are those 65+ (45%) and Republicans (35%).
Full poll results can be viewed here.
From People for Bikes: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/bike-lanes-in-black-and-white
October 21, 2013
Rev. Kenneth Gunn’s ministry at Chicago’s Bread of Life Church encompasses both the Bible and bicycles. He organized a bike club that regularly rides from the South Side church to Lake Michigan and along the Lakefront Trail. In his spare time, Gunn repairs donated bikes that he gives to kids in the predominantly African-American neighborhood.
Rev. Gunn believes biking offers great benefits to the community. “Besides good recreation, biking is economical,” the 70-year-old minister explains, especially in a city where many people don’t own cars and transit fares are rising. “But health is the number one reason to ride a bike. It’s good for your coronary, your respiratory and your blood pressure. And I find it’s good for my arthritis.”
Gunn welcomes the new protected bike lanes popping up across Chicago’s South Side as a way to encourage more African-Americans to bike. “The city is becoming more and more bike friendly. The new lanes on 55th Street are super-safe and I love it.”
While African-Americans comprise the fastest growing demographic of bicyclists, doubling from 2001 and 2009 according to U.S. Department of Transportation data, bike lanes proposed for African-American neighborhoods in several cities have drawn controversy. And black churches like Rev. Gunn’s, which are highly influential among African-Americans, find themselves in the middle of the debate.
A few miles from the Bread of Life Church, a protected bike lane was planned for Martin Luther King Drive, which would pass six African-American churches. This raised serious concerns from some church leaders about the availability of parking for events, as well as aesthetic concerns on this historic street.
This controversy, and ones like it in Portland, Oregon and other cities, highlights the importance of community engagement in planning new and innovative bike projects. “The city was doing a lot of bike projects fast, and talking with the community was not always a priority,” said Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell, who represents residents in the historically African-American neighborhoods around King Drive.
In a presentation at the Summit on Bike Lanes & Equity, a diverse gathering of transportation leaders convened last May in Austin by the PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project, Dowell pointed to that experience as one reason some African-Americans are skeptical about bike lanes.
Dialogue between the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and church and community leaders led to modifications in the plan. The protected bike lanes were shifted to a nearby street, and buffered bike lanes (which use wide swaths of paint rather than physical dividers to organize bikes and cars) were added to King Drive.
Continue reading at: http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/bike-lanes-in-black-and-white
WASHINGTON — The Transportation Department office charged with overseeing the 2.6 million miles of pipelines in the United States is spending more time at oil and gas industry conferences than it is addressing spills and other incidents, a watchdog group contends in a new report.
Between 2007 and 2012, staff from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration spent 2,807 days at conferences, meetings and other events sponsored by the oil, gas and pipeline industries, according to the report from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). That’s nearly three times as many as the 970 days the staffers spent responding to spills, explosions and other significant incidents on the pipelines they regulate. PEER drew the figures from agency records received in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. (PEER’s report calculates “days” as staff days, i.e., the total number of days per staffer spent at a conference or in the field. So if five staffers all attended one conference together, that is considered five staff days but only one calendar day.)
According to records that PEER provided to The Huffington Post, the pipeline agency spent $245,938 on travel to industry meetings and events sponsored by groups like the American Petroleum Institute and the American Gas Association in those six years. But it spent only $171,801 responding to significant spills, explosions and breakdowns on pipelines that transport oil, gas and other hazardous materials during the same period.
PEER also found that agency representatives attended 850 meetings and other events with industry in that period, but staffers were sent to investigate only 159 significant spills, explosions and breakdowns. A previous release from the watchdog group, also based on FOIA information received from the agency, found there have been more than 300 spills, explosions and other incidents since 2006 that the agency did not dispatch inspectors to investigate. PEER found that since 2006, the federal agency and its state partners had inspected less than one-fifth of the 2.6 million miles of pipeline.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration responded that PEER’s figures “are incomplete” because they only include travel time for investigations. On more complex investigations, agency engineers and technical specialists “spend many weeks analyzing data and determining how company actions contributed to an incident,” the agency said. It also said that the figures don’t include time that staffers spend in the field doing other regulatory and oversight activities, nor do they include the time that state inspectors, whose work the agency funds, spend on investigations.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/23-10
Published on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 by Common Dreams
Downwind of the “Industrial Heartland” of Alberta, Canada, where over 40 companies have created the nation’s largest oil, gas and tar sands processing zone, lurk levels of carcinogens and other air pollutants even beyond those of some of the world’s most polluted cities, according to a report published online this week.
In addition, the report in the journal Atmospheric Environment says, the number of men with leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma was higher in communities closest to this “Industrial Heartland” in the Fort Saskatchewan area compared to neighboring communities based on a 13-year record.
The new report, led by scientists at the University of California-Irvine and University of Michigan, comes in the wake of a report by the World Health Organization stating that air pollution causes cancer.
“Our study was designed to test what kinds of concentrations could be encountered on the ground during a random visit downwind of various facilities,” stated Isobel Simpson, lead author of the paper and a UC Irvine chemist. BP, Dow and Shell are among the well-known names operating in the area touted as being “guided by a non profit association of municipalities dedicated to sustainable eco-industrial development.”
“We’re seeing elevated levels of carcinogens and other gases in the same area where we’re seeing excess cancers known to be caused by these chemicals,” stated Simpson.
Among the carcinogens the researchers found in one-minute samples taken in 2008, 2010 and 2012 were 1,3-butadiene and benzene, and the scientists recorded amounts of some dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) 6,000 times higher than normal.
“These levels, found over a broad area, are clearly associated with industrial emissions. They also are evidence of major regulatory gaps in monitoring and controlling such emissions and in public health surveillance,” stated Stuart Batterman, report co-author and a University of Michigan professor of environmental health sciences.
Part of that monitoring and controlling would require transparency from the companies. The researchers found high levels of 1,3-butadiene that could only have come from one facility, but that company had not disclosed those emissions.
While the study looked at the “Industrial Heartland,” the findings offer implications for the many other communities downwind of petrochemical processing operations. “For any community downwind of heavy industrial activity, I would say it’s certainly prudent to conduct surveys of both air quality – especially carcinogens – and human health,” Simpson said.
Though the authors did not point to causal relationship between the pollutants and the cancers, Simpson stated, “Our main point is that it would be good to proactively lower these emissions of known carcinogens. You can study it and study it, but at some point you just have to say, ‘Let’s reduce it.’ ”
From The New Castle Herald Australia: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1848433/the-ocean-is-broken/
By GREG RAY
Oct. 18, 2013
It was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.
Not the absence of sound, exactly.
The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.
And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
The birds were missing because the fish were missing.
Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.
“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.
But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.
No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.
“In years gone by I’d gotten used to all the birds and their noises,” he said.
“They’d be following the boat, sometimes resting on the mast before taking off again. You’d see flocks of them wheeling over the surface of the sea in the distance, feeding on pilchards.”
But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.
Continue reading at: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1848433/the-ocean-is-broken/