Robert Reich Overtime Video

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Turning the Page: Bilerico Project Is Ending

In the last few days I closed the Women Born Transsexual Mailing List.  I’ve unsubscribed to most Trans-Oriented mailing lists, including those where I used to pick up a lot of stories for this blog.

Time comes for things to end.  Bill Browning has hit this point, Pam hit it a while ago as have others.

I’m about there.  Maybe this blog will last a few more months or another year or so but I’ve reached a point where I don’t much care any more.  I’ve gone through my Facebook pages and eliminated many trans-folks whose lives are only about trans/queer life.

From Bilerico:

By Bil Browning
June 30, 2015

Almost 11 years ago, I turned my personal homepage into a blog covering Indiana politics and LGBT issues. A few years later as more and more folks signed up to join me here, we turned our focus national and Bilerico Project was born.

We wanted to cover what was lacking on the big blogs at the time – real political and cultural analysis provided by LGBT movement leaders and everyday activists. We wanted diversity not only in our writers, but also their views. “What’s the worst that could happen?” we thought. “No one likes the new format so we go back to our roots?” Thankfully, readers loved the expanded coverage and we were off to a roaring start.

Together we’ve covered a multitude of important stories. From George W Bush’s election to the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, we’ve brought the best news and analysis we could. We’ve made a change in the Salvation Army’s anti-LGBT policies and ensured an innocent HIV+ immigrant was released from prison to die surrounded by loved ones. Together, our writers and readers have made a difference.

Projects are meant to be temporary and so was Bilerico Project. After more than a decade, it’s time to wrap up our experiment. The media landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade and so have our lives and the LGBT movement itself. It’s time to turn the page and start something fresh in this new environment.

My first post in 2004 was a quote from Margaret Meade. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I think we’ve done our part to make the world a better place.

This will be my last post on Bilerico Project. The site will be archived at so that all 31,000+ posts will still be available for readers. It’s been a long strange journey and I’ve loved every single moment of it, but the time has come to end the project and call it a success.

Personally, I’m going to take two weeks off to relax, look for a job, and work on my upcoming book. I will use as my personal blog again when I come back and I have a few ideas for starting something new and different. The spirit of Bilerico Project will live on and I plan on tapping into it as I move forward. I want to go back to my roots.
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Supreme Court Victory: What You Need to Know

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We Won

It took 46 years but the water and wind wore away the rock.

I came out to my friends in January of 1969, almost 7 years after I first came out to my parents.

It was a busy spring. I started hormones, fought in the battle for People’s Park in Berkeley, went full time.

Across the bay in SF gay men were picketing a cruise ship line demanding non-discrimination in employment.  Even then there were gay and lesbian people agitating for the right to marry.

All before Stonewall.

Two years after Stonewall I went to a demonstration in Sacramento demanding Marriage Equality.

Now I am old.

So many people I knew then, hippies, lefties, LGBT people are dead and gone.

I wish they were here for this day.

As for me…

This fall Tina and I will formally get married.

We have been together for years.  We have grown old together.

We have a little house, we love and care fore each other.  Let the young fight the fights we shall tend our own garden.

The most important lesson I learned over those many years was to live as though our rights were a given even if they were never formally recognized.

I learned to ask why when told I couldn’t live freely and as though I had the same rights as anyone else and to defend myself when someone tried to take away my rights.


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U.S. Army Has Yet Another Out Trans Member

From The Advocate:

Jamie Lee Henry joins a handful of other out transgender soldiers proving they are fit to serve.

BY  Mitch Kellaway
June 11 2015

Slowly but surely, stories of transgender people serving openly in the U.S. military are emerging, each heralding a new step of progress in overturning the institutuion’s ban on open trans military service.

This week, Buzzfeed introduced the world to a trans woman serving openly while an active-duty Army officer, Jamie Lee Henry, who has the distinction of being the first known servicemember to change her name and gender within the U.S. armed forces.

A 32-year-old trans woman who serves as a doctor and major in the Army Medical Corps, Henry shared with the news site how she’s been able to remain serving, in part: with the clear support of her commanding officers. When she came out as trans three years ago and faced familial upheaval — which eventually included divorce and a brief stint of homelessness — Henry said her then-commander helped keep her career on track and even temporarily housed her.

When last fall she began to take steps to medically transition, Henry said her new commander backed her too. “My commander said, ‘I don’t care who you love, I don’t care how you identify, I want you to be healthy and I want you to be able to do your job,” she recalled to Buzzfeed. Henry said she expected to be considered a “freak” and to be discharged under Department of Defense Instruction 6130.03, a regulation which dictates that any type of gender-confirming clinical, medical, or surgical treatment is evidence of “disqualifying physical and mental conditions.” Though following the instruction is not required, its common usage has kept an estimated 15,5000 transgender troops serving in silence about their gender identities.

Last last year, the Army ruled that the decision of whether to separate trans troops under this regulation would be taken out of the hands of commanding officers and elevated to the assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs. Even so, chains of command appear to play a key role in the  stories of each of the handful of trans servicemembers that have been able to serve openly, as shown by the stories of Jacob Eleazar, who served in the Army as TAC (Teach, Assess, Council) officer, and illustrated by The Advocate‘s exclusive interview with Army Sgt. Shane Ortega last month.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Buffy Sainte-Marie

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Seinfeld slams politically correct students for hurting comedy: “They just want to use these words, ‘that’s racist, that’s sexist, that’s prejudice’”

From Salon:

The comedian thinks that PC culture, particularly on college campuses, has gone too far

Monday, Jun 8, 2015

Speaking on ESPN Radio’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” on Thursday, Jerry Seinfeld weighed in on the issue of political correctness as it pertains to comedy. Asked by Cowherd if PC culture hurts comedy, Seinfeld responded definitively: “Yes, it does.”

He went on: “I don’t play colleges but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges, they’re so pc.’ I’ll give you an example: My daughter’s 14. My wife says to her, ‘Well, you know, in the next couple of years, I think maybe you’re going to want to hang around the city more on the weekends so you can see boys.’ You know, my daughter says, ‘That’s sexist.’ They just want to use these words. ‘That’s racist. That’s sexist. That’s prejudice.’ They don’t even know what they’re talking about.”

This isn’t the first time Seinfeld has expressed his frustration with political correctness. Responding to criticisms about the lack of diversity on his show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” last year, Seinfeld said: “This really pisses me off. People think it’s the census or something, it’s gotta represent the actual pie chart of America. Who cares?… I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that. To me, it’s anti-comedy. It’s more about PC nonsense, than are you making us laugh or not.”

Of course, Seinfeld isn’t alone. In recent years, many comedians have spoken out about how increased audience sensitivity — particularly on college campuses — is harmful to comedic freedom. Chris Rock, speaking to New York Magazine last year, echoed similar sentiments saying that he has stopped playing colleges because they are too conservative “in their social views and their willingness not to offend anybody. Kids raised on a culture of ‘We’re not going to keep score in the game because we don’t want anybody to lose.’ Or just ignoring race to a fault. You can’t say ‘the black kid over there.’ No, it’s ‘the guy with the red shoes.’ You can’t even be offensive on your way to being inoffensive.”

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April Ashley: Caitlyn Jenner chose a ‘terrible’ name

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We are the Transgender Borg

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015)

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Becoming a woman, not a girl

I am an old woman. I wear Birkenstocks and blue jeans. I wear a lot of purple and my hair is hippie long. In the hot Texas summer I sometimes chop it short. I laugh a lot and use the word fuck in many different ways. I love rock and roll along with the blues and outlaw country. I don’t wear make-up or high heels. I can mow my own lawn, hook up a complex audio video system and build my own PC.

I cowgirl up in spite of aching joints and wish the hell they would make pot legal and cheap.

To me gender has always been a way of putting limits on women and girls (See Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex”) The other night in her acceptance speech upon induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Joan Jett recalled a time when gender meant girls/women didn’t play electric guitars in rock and roll bands.

I’ve been reading Ellen Goodman for more years than I can remember

From North

While she was winning gold medals, many in her generation were raised on the idea that “when I am an old woman I shall wear purple.”
For many, 65 is not the new 30 but the new freedom from the extreme sport of femininity.

By Ellen Goodman
June 11, 2015

HAVE YOU noticed that the first 65-year-old cover girl on Vanity Fair was actually born a boy? Is that transsexual progress or just trans-sexism?

Yes, I am happy that Caitlyn Jenner has finally come out as a female, thereby risking her net worth. As one cartoonist suggested, she is now likely to be paid exactly 77 cents on the dollar.

More to the point, as Jon Stewart noted, the silicon-cleavaged and made-over Olympian is now the sweetheart of the Twittersphere and cable chatteratti, where people are talking about nothing but her glam girl status.

In Stewart’s words: “It’s really heartening to see that everyone is willing to not only accept Caitlyn Jenner as a woman but to waste no time in treating her like a woman. You see, Caitlyn, when you were a man, we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen. But now you’re a woman and your looks are really the only thing we care about.” Bingo.

In that vein, let’s remember the remarks of the woman who chose the clothes for the photo shoot. The Vanity Fair dresser said: “The one thing that makes it easier to dress someone is proportion. Caitlyn’s proportions are fashion proportions, really.” She’s tall, slim, narrow-hipped, kind of ideal to dress.

Yes! A fashion designer’s dream come true!

But as an (even) older woman, may I add a little something to the sexism? A little ageism perhaps? May I ask why Caitlyn couldn’t come out as a 65-year-old woman rather than a 25-year-old starlet?

A factoid: Americans are turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day. If the female half of that demographic is looking for a role model, it’s not a Medicare Babe but a woman facing down the truly Olympic challenge of aging gracefully.

The fashion industry basically stops at Forever 21. The shoe designers loved and left us like heels.

Mirren, Streep, Bergen

If we need to go Hollywood to cast an iconic older woman, couldn’t we have Helen Mirren at 69 or Meryl Streep at 65? Or better yet, Candice Bergen at 69, who admits to being 30 pounds over her Murphy Brown weight? “I live to eat,” she announces. “No carb is safe — no fat, either.” Being overweight is probably more of a challenge in this culture than bending gender. You go, girl.

Instead, Caitlyn looks more like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard,” playing an over-the-hill actress when she was only 50!

The editors of Vanity Fair were not the only ones who transformed the former Bruce into their fantasy Caitlyn. Where, oh, where was photographer Annie Leibowitz in all this? What was she thinking? At 65 herself, the long-term companion of the late uber-intellectual Susan Sontag, Leibowitz surely has more to say and show about aging than her ingénue subject.

Well, here’s the thing. I am sorry that Caitlyn missed out on being a 20- or 30-year-old woman. But I wish she could catch up.

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Caitlyn Jenner is not the right poster girl for trans equality

From Gay Star News:

Jenner’s life is privileged by contrast to the everyday reality of her trans brothers and sisters

By Reverend Irene Monroe
04 June 2015

Caitlyn Jenner has caught the world’s attention. Not as the beloved 1976 Olympic gold medal decathlete or patriarch in the TV reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

This time Jenner has won applause and admiration for her bravery in coming out as a trans woman debuting on the July cover of Vanity Fair magazine.

And she looks amazing!

Laverne Cox, transgender activist and actress on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, wrote on Tumblr: ‘Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities.’

MSNBC commentator and trans author Janet Mock chimed in with her tweet: ‘Introducing Ms Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of @Vanity Fair: #CallMeCaitlyn #girls like us.’

And President Obama giving his thumbs up stated: ‘It takes courage to share your story.’

While a world of supporters applaud Jenner’s courage act of coming out there are always many who don’t.

Drake Bell, the star of Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh, tweeted his transphobic remark: ‘Sorry… still calling you Bruce’ to his 3.22 million followers.

And Mike Huckabee’s, 2016 Republican presidential hopeful, made a bone-headed remark that was intended to insult Jenner but instead informed American voters just how utterly clueless and outdated he is.

‘Now I wish that someone told me that when I was in high school that I could have felt like a woman when it came time to take showers in PE. I’m pretty sure that I would have found my feminine side and said, “Coach, I think I’d rather shower with the girls today.”’

Almost overnight, Jenner has become the most recognizable transwoman. She has a global platform to give visibility and advocacy to transgender civil rights.

But will it?

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I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me

From Vox:

by Edward Schlosser
June 3, 2015

I’m a professor at a midsize state school. I have been teaching college classes for nine years now. I have won (minor) teaching awards, studied pedagogy extensively, and almost always score highly on my student evaluations. I am not a world-class teacher by any means, but I am conscientious; I attempt to put teaching ahead of research, and I take a healthy emotional stake in the well-being and growth of my students.

Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones.

Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that’s simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher’s formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.

What it was like before

In early 2009, I was an adjunct, teaching a freshman-level writing course at a community college. Discussing infographics and data visualization, we watched a flash animation describing how Wall Street’s recklessness had destroyed the economy.

The video stopped, and I asked whether the students thought it was effective. An older student raised his hand.

“What about Fannie and Freddie?” he asked. “Government kept giving homes to black people, to help out black people, white people didn’t get anything, and then they couldn’t pay for them. What about that?”

I gave a quick response about how most experts would disagree with that assumption, that it was actually an oversimplification, and pretty dishonest, and isn’t it good that someone made the video we just watched to try to clear things up? And, hey, let’s talk about whether that was effective, okay? If you don’t think it was, how could it have been?

The rest of the discussion went on as usual.

The next week, I got called into my director’s office. I was shown an email, sender name redacted, alleging that I “possessed communistical [sic] sympathies and refused to tell more than one side of the story.” The story in question wasn’t described, but I suspect it had do to with whether or not the economic collapse was caused by poor black people.

My director rolled her eyes. She knew the complaint was silly bullshit. I wrote up a short description of the past week’s class work, noting that we had looked at several examples of effective writing in various media and that I always made a good faith effort to include conservative narratives along with the liberal ones.

Along with a carbon-copy form, my description was placed into a file that may or may not have existed. Then … nothing. It disappeared forever; no one cared about it beyond their contractual duties to document student concerns. I never heard another word of it again.

That was the first, and so far only, formal complaint a student has ever filed against me.

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What Makes a Woman?

I’m going to say that I am more in support of the woman who wrote this piece than I am with the Transgender Borg who are attacking her.

Anatomy is part of what makes women women.  For all the blither, blather and babble about gender those TS/TG folks who are assumed to be female aka pass are assumed by society to possess female anatomy.  It is that assumption people operate upon not some academic gender studies babble about identity.

I’m a second wave feminist, one who made her peace with Lesbian Feminism some forty years ago. Today TG folks dismiss the “Real Life Test” as antiquated but it was a crash course in socialization as a woman.  If you spend most of your life with other trans-women you get socialized as trans, hence the Trans-speak and the inability to deal with even the mildest of feminist criticism.

I am the same age as Elinor Burkett, quite probably shared many of the same social influences of Second Wave Feminism with her.

Living real life as a woman makes one a real woman. It requires one to have or be presumed to have certain anatomy.  It takes the amassing of a history of living real life as a woman, including dealing with people assuming you have been that way since birth.

For what it is worth I do not believe in male brain/female brain.  I believe how our bodies handle hormones may in some cases play a role.  I don’t know what causes core sex identity and it doesn’t relly matter.  Rights are based on being human.  Nothing else.

From The New York Times:

Poised for Perfection: Sgt. Shane Ortega Puts a Face to the Transgender Military Ban

I’m more into ordinary trans-folks like Shane who are quietly fighting the good fight for full equality than I am into Kardashian Tabloid Queens and Reality TV Superstars.

One presents us as I hope we are seen, the other continues making us spectacles to be featured on the sleazy publications featured at super market check out stands.

From The Advocate:

Sgt. Shane Ortega tells The Advocate how he’s been able to serve for years in the U.S. Army as an openly transgender man and about the pressure he faces now that the world knows who he is.

BY  Mitch Kellaway
May 28 2015

Sgt. Shane Ortega wakes up and shuts off his alarm clock at the same time every workday morning. The right time.

He showers, stops in front of the mirror, carefully scrapes away the faintest hint of stubble from his cheeks. He moves to his bedroom, donning his crisp office clothes just so. He’s out the door, right on time, headed to the Oahu military office where he’s been doing human resources work ever since he was grounded — temporarily, he intends — from flight last summer.

Sgt. Ortega is never late. He is never rumpled. He never has an “off” day. And he makes sure of it, because he’s one of the first openly transgender people in the U.S. military, and he knows the world is scrutinizing him.

“Honestly, I have to be perfect right now,” the 28-year-old Army helicopter crew chief tells The Advocate over the phone from Wheeler Army Air Field. He follows his words with a light laugh that will be repeated many times over the next 40 minutes, one that seems to dissolve clouds of self-pity before they can gather. “Like, I couldn’t get a speeding ticket. I can’t be late. I can’t forget to shave one day of the week. I have to be absolutely perfect.”

And then, instead of resting, Ortega spends most of his lunch break talking about living a life that has become more than his own.

“I don’t think anyone really understands the level of perfection that I have to have right now that I stepped forward,” he admits. “But I understood the weight of the matter. It was part of what I juggled in my judgment before I decided to do that. And it’s really uncomfortable, to be honest. But if I don’t do it, it doesn’t help anyone else.”

He’s referring to people like the field grade officer who, he shares, privately sought him out after over a decade of service to tell him that they were transgender and had not felt able to come out. “It’s like, what can I do?” Ortega wonders aloud. “I can stick my neck out further.”

Last month Ortega stuck his neck out when he stepped into the national spotlight in a Washington Post article on the U.S. military’s continued policy against service by transgender people, becoming the institution’s most publicly visible active-duty trans soldier.

It was a decision he tells The Advocate he weighed carefully, though not necessarily because it would jeopardize his status with the military. Ortega had already more quietly let the U.S. Army know, through the American Civil Liberties Union in September, that he would not passively accept being “separated” — released from active duty — for being transgender, if his unexpected grounding ultimately led there.

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Simone de Beauvoir: 1975 Interview (English Subs)

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali vs. Jon Stewart: Islam, liberals, and the media’s dangerous double standard

From Salon:

Progressives entangle themselves in “thickets of idiocy” trying not to judge Islam. Jon Stewart was no exception

Sunday, Jun 7, 2015

Progressive critics enamored of the semantically fraudulent junk label “Islamophobe” are de facto aiding the assassins of free-thinkers, abetting the oppressors of women, and shielding razor-happy butchers slicing off the clitorises of little girls.  And at no time do they betray the ideals for which they supposedly stand more than when they call ex-Muslims living in the West “Islamophobe.”

 To understand why, let’s examine the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  No one exposes the faulty thinking, moral incoherence and double standards pervading the Western liberal reaction to Islam better than this Somali-born, self-professed “infidel” and “heretic.”  Herself a survivor of female genital mutilation, civil war and forced marriage, and, for more than a decade now, the object of Islamist death threats, Hirsi Ali deserves the respect of all who cherish free speech, equality between the sexes, and the right to profess the religion (or no religion) of one’s choosing.

Brought up a Muslim and once so devout she joined the Muslim Brotherhood, Hirsi Ali deserves, to say the least, a fair hearing when speaking of Islam.  Yet in the constitutionally secular United States, Hirsi Ali often finds her views about her former faith treated with suspicion, even contempt.  Her media appearances and publications occasion slews of sanctimoniously ignorant commentary from liberal “Islamophobia” scolds.  The publicity tour she has been making for her recent book “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” is no exception.

Before I proceed, a statement of what should be obvious: Islam is not a race, but a religion, one with universalist pretensions and followers of all skin colors. Understanding this, one easily sees through the linguistic sham that is the essence of “Islamophobia” and “Islamophobe,” terms that inveigle well-meaning progressives to conflate skin color with religion and impute racism to critics of a belief system.  The terms are inherently political, and serve one purpose: to squelch honest debate about Islam.  Islam, though, like all religions, is nothing but a hallowed ideology falling within the purview of free speech. People deserve respect, whatever their ideology.  The ideologies themselves?  Not necessarily.

Back to Hirsi Ali and “Heretic.”  Hirsi Ali summed up her book’s theses in an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal.  Radical Islam now motivates terrorism and warfare across the globe, but “by far,” she writes, “the most numerous victims of Muslim violence . . . are Muslims themselves.”  She considers it “foolish to insist, as Western leaders habitually do, that the violent acts committed in the name of Islam can somehow be divorced from the religion itself.”  Her conclusion: “Islam is not a religion of peace.”  (Italics hers.)

Hirsi Ali does not, however, contend that most Muslims are violent.  On the contrary, peaceful followers of Islam “are the clear majority throughout the Muslim world.”  But the jihadi-minded account for, by her conservative estimate, at least 3 percent of the religion’s 1.6 billion votaries, or 48 million people.  The problem, for her, lies in “the call to violence and the justification for it . . . explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam.”  To counter this, she proposes an Islamic reformation, one that would lead Muslims to reject their canon’s calls for violence, as do, by and large, Jews and Christians today.

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Saudi Arabia upholds 10-year, 1,000-lash punishment for blogger who insulted Islam

From Raw Story:

07 Jun 2015

Saudi Arabia has decided to uphold its decision to sentence Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old blogger who was imprisoned in 2012 after being charged for insulting Islam through his website, to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes in public, Badawi’s wife said Sunday.

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Ronnie Gilbert (September 7, 1926 – June 6, 2015) Wasn’t That a Time?

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