Friday Night Fun and Culture: International Women’s Day is March 8.

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Straight Cis-gender Men in Dragface and Trans-women who Defend Dragface

I’ve gotten to the point where getting me to watch a non-documentary about or featuring presentations of TS/TG folks is almost as easy as convincing me to let a friend of mine who owns a Dremel Tool and pair of vice grips to practice amateur dentistry on me.

Needless to say, short of someone threatening me with a gun, it is unlikely that I will watch Jared Leto don black face and sing “Mammy”.  Oh wait he didn’t don black face he put on a dress to become a heroic straight white man playing a poor oppressed trans-woman with AIDS.

How brave… How heroic… How challenging…

Fuck that shit…

Challenging is living our lives with a modicum of dignity.

Challenging is never getting to be the ones who control our own narratives without having cis-gender people appropriate our lives and stereotype us as pathetic drag queens with AIDS, sex workers, murder victims and performers.

Because you know we are never ever musicians, techies, artists, writers, teachers, doctors or the girl next door.

This puts me well within the ranks of those saying ENOUGH…  No More Cis-gender People Playing Trans-Folks…

See Huffington Post: Jared Leto’s Oscar Win For ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Criticized By Transgender Community

It is more acceptable for a cis-gender woman to play a trans-woman than it is for a man to do so.

One perpetuates the “Man in a Dress” trope.  The other doesn’t.

Therefore “TransAmerica” was more acceptable than “Dallas Buyers Club”.  Olympia Dukakis in Tales of the City falls in that category.

I don’t do Netflix although Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black is almost enough to get me to do so.

If cis-gender men want to play a trans-person perhaps they should try out for the numerous roles of trans-men in film.

Oh wait aside from Brandon Teena there haven’t been any role presenting trans-men in film because they aren’t sex workers or murder victims, Brandon Teena being the exception to that general rule.

Part of the casting of men to play trans-women and women to portray trans-men is the cementing of the trope that we are always the sex we were assigned at birth.

Back in the late 1990s when I was a volunteer at the LA Gay and Lesbian Service Center’s “The Village” I was comped a ticket for the LA Gay and Lesbian Film Festival screening of “Different for Girls”.

After the screening I stayed for the talk with the director, the oh so sensitive director.

Everyone cooed about how sensitive the film was and how it told a real story.

I was really pissed off because it was a rehash of the common tragic trans tropes.  As usual the trans-woman was portrayed by a cis-man in a dress, replete with silicone body suit ala some of the fetish folks.

True to my general bitchiness when torqued off I had to ask:

“How come with all the transsexual and transgender women in Great Britain you couldn’t find a trans-actress to play this role?  Why did you have to use a cis-gender man?

He hemmed and hawed a bit saying that he had Faye Presto, a British magician and entertainer as a technical consultant on the film.  Then he said that the trans-women who tried out for the part were so real no one would believe they were trans and that it was impossible to find a transsexual woman who brought the gender ambiguity he was searching for and trying to portray.

Huh… WTF?

We come of as too real to actually portray transsexual women on the screen.  Okay I guess that means trans-women who are actresses find all sorts of roles as cis-gender women open to them.

Buuuht… Fuck me, wrong again.  Trans-actresses, particularly out trans-actresses, (and make no mistake about it in this internet era we are all a few clicks from being out) are told they can’t credibly play non-trans roles because people knowing they are trans won’t view them as non-trans-women.

That sort of blows one of Calpernia Addams arguments in the Advocate article, In Defense of Jared Leto out of the water.

“I caution others to remember, however, that the same logic that leaves zero room for a nontrans actor to try a trans role will be used to mandate that trans actors should not be able to play nontrans roles. And that would piss me off.”

Actually I think that argument would be a lot more effective if there were actually non-trans roles open to trans-actresses or for that matter trans-actors.

There aren’t.  So we are like African Americans not wanting our characters portrayed by white people in black face.

Recently Jennifer Boylan wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times: Transgender, Schlumpy and Human.

In it she defended the use of Jeffery Tambor, as a schlumpy man “transitioning”.

Just as Calpernia served as an adviser to Dallas Buyer’s Club, she served as an adviser to the show.

I can fully understand not wanting to bite the hand that feeds us…

I can even get the aspect of not wanting to offend the people in power who could create a far more negative image of TS/TG women but at some point I think it is important to remember that quote from Audre Lorde “The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.”

We learned we will never gain our rights or dignity by merely waiting for the cis-gender culture to bestow rights and dignity upon us based on their conscience or largess.  We have to push for and demand our rights and dignity.

That means no more actors in drag face portraying TS/TG people.  No more use of TS/TG people as stereotypical tropes for straights to demonstrate how progressive they are.

We’ve gone too far with ‘trigger warnings’

From The Guardian UK:

Universities and blogs do students no favors by pretending that every piece of offensive content comes with a warning sign, Wednesday 5 March 2014

Trigger Warning: this piece discusses trigger warnings. It may also look askance at college students who are now asking that trigger warnings be applied to their course materials.

If you’ve spent time on feminist blogs lately or in the social-justice-oriented corner of Tumblr, you have likely come across the Trigger Warning (TW): a note to readers that the material following the warning may trigger a post-traumatic stress reaction. In the early days of feminist blogging, trigger warnings were generally about sexual assault, and posted with the understanding that lots of women are sexual assault survivors, lots of women read feminist blogs, and graphic descriptions of rape might lead to panic attacks or other reactions that will really ruin someone’s day. Easy enough to give readers a little heads up – a trigger warning – so that they can decide to avoid that material if they know that discussion of rape triggers debilitating reactions.

Trigger warnings in online spaces, though, have expanded widely and become more intricate, detailed, specific and obscure. Trigger warnings, and their cousin the “content note”, are now included for a whole slew of potentially offensive or upsetting content, including but not limited to: misogyny, the death penalty, calories in a food item, terrorism, drunk driving, how much a person weighs, racism, gun violence, Stand Your Ground laws, drones, homophobia, PTSD, slavery, victim-blaming, abuse, swearing, child abuse, self-injury, suicide, talk of drug use, descriptions of medical procedures, corpses, skulls, skeletons, needles, discussion of “isms,” neuroatypical shaming, slurs (including “stupid” or “dumb”), kidnapping, dental trauma, discussions of sex (even consensual), death or dying, spiders, insects, snakes, vomit, pregnancy, childbirth, blood, scarification, Nazi paraphernalia, slimy things, holes and “anything that might inspire intrusive thoughts in people with OCD“.

It is true that everything on the above list might trigger a PTSD response in someone. The trouble with PTSD, though, is that its triggers are often unpredictable and individually specific – a certain smell, a particular song, being touched in that one way. It’s impossible to account for all of them, because triggers are by their nature not particularly rational or universally foreseeable. Some are more common than others, though, which is why it seems reasonable enough for explicitly feminist spaces to include trigger warnings for things like assault and eating disorders.

College, though, is different. It is not a feminist blog. It is not a social justice Tumblr.

College isn’t exactly the real world either, but it’s a space for kinda-sorta adults to wade neck-deep into art, literature, philosophy, and the sciences, to explore new ideas, to expand their knowledge of the cultural canon, to interrogate power and to learn how to make an argument and to read a text. It is, hopefully, a space where the student is challenged and sometimes frustrated and sometimes deeply upset, a place where the student’s world expands and pushes them to reach the outer edges – not a place that contracts to meet the student exactly where they are.

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Documents for raids on anti-war activists unsealed

From The Committee to Stop FBI Repression:

Reveal McCarthyite attack on free speech, right to organize

On Feb. 26, the application and affidavit used to obtain the search warrants for the 2010 raids on homes and offices of anti-war and international solidarity activists were unsealed, revealing lies and attacks on the constitutionally-protected rights to speak out and organize. The unsealing of these documents came as a result of legal action taken by the anti-war activists.

The timeline in the documents show what we have always stated. Shortly before the huge protest at the Republican National Convention, undercover police agent and professional liar, going by the name of Karen Sullivan (identified in the affidavit as UC1) joined the Anti-War Committee and became active in the efforts to build the demonstration. She later joined Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

The documents demonstrate a callous disregard for free speech and the right to associate. They in effect criminalize those of us who oppose U.S. wars, and stand in solidarity with the oppressed. From Palestine to Colombia, people want to be free from the domination of Washington. We have said this publicly on thousands of occasions and will continue to do so.

Not unlike countless “anti-terrorism” cases against Arabs and Muslims, the affidavit contains a collection of lies and out-of-context statements to try to isolate people from their communities and movements. In a McCarthyite return to the 1950s, the affidavit shows an obsession with Freedom Road Socialist Organization. After decades working in the anti-war movement, anyone who has worked with us knows we are proud to be fighters in the struggles against war, and for justice and economic equality. The documents imply that is something sinister, when really, it is commendable.

Having just received these documents, we are in the process of consulting with attorneys and we will have more to say in coming days. We are glad we forced the government to unseal these documents and we demand that the U.S Attorney makes a public statement that the investigation is closed and that there will be no indictments of anti-war and international solidarity activists. Moreover, we demand an end to repression and spying against the people’s movements.

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How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations

From The Intercept:

24 Feb 2014

One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:

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New Government Report Warns of ‘Cascading System Failures’ Caused By Climate Change

From Huffington Post:

Kate Sheppard

WASHINGTON — From roads and bridges to power plants and gas pipelines, American infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, according to a pair of government reports released Thursday.

The reports are technical documents supporting the National Climate Assessment, a major review compiled by 13 government agencies that the U.S. Global Change Research Program is expected to release in April. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory put together the reports, which warn that climate-fueled storms, flooding and droughts could cause “cascading system failures” unless there are changes made to minimize those effects. Island Press has published the full-length version of the reports, which focus on energy and infrastructure more broadly.

Thomas Wilbanks, a research fellow at Oak Ridge and the lead author and editor of the reports, said this is the first attempt to look at the climate implications across all sectors and regions. Rather than isolating specific types of infrastructure, Wilbanks said, the report looks at how “one impact can have impacts on the others.”

Previous extreme weather events, which scientists warn may be exacerbated by climate change, offer insight to the types of failures they’re talking about. For example, during Hurricane Katrina, the loss of electricity in the region meant that several major oil pipelines could not ship oil and gas for several days, and some refineries could not operate. Gas prices rose around the country.

Other scenarios include a major storm wiping out communications lines, a blackout that cuts power to sewage treatment or wastewater systems, and a weather event that damages a bridge or major highway. In the latter case, the damage would not only cost money to repair, but could cause traffic backups or delays in the shipment of goods, which could in turn have wider economic implications. As the report describes it:

A central theme of the report is that vulnerabilities and impacts are issues beyond physical infrastructures themselves. The concern is with the value of services provided by infrastructures, where the true consequences of impacts and disruptions involve not only the costs associated with the cleanup, repair, and/or replacement of affected infrastructures but also economic, social, and environmental effects as supply chains are disrupted, economic activities are suspended, and/or social well-being is threatened.

While many reports on climate change focus on the long-term impacts, looking ahead 50 or 100 years, the effects described in Thursday’s reports are the kind that cities, states and the federal government can expect to see in the next few decades, Wilbanks said.

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