Unemployed, 55, and Faking Normal

From Next Avenue:  http://www.nextavenue.org/unemployed-55-and-faking-normal/

You may recognize these women, hiding in plain sight

By Elizabeth White
May 16, 2016

You know her.

She is in your friendship circle, hidden in plain sight.

She is 55, broke and tired of trying to keep up appearances. Faking normal is wearing her out.

To look at her, you wouldn’t know that her electricity was cut off last week for non-payment or that she meets the eligibility requirements for food stamps. Her clothes are still impeccable, bought in the good times when she was still making money.

A Grace Note of Panic

But if you paid attention, you would see the sadness in her eyes, hear that grace note of panic in her otherwise commanding voice.

These days, she buys the $1.99 10-ounce “trial size” jug of Tide to make ends meet. You didn’t know laundry detergent came in that size.

You invite her to the same expensive restaurants the two of you have always enjoyed, but she orders mineral water with a twist of lemon, instead of the $12 glass of Chardonnay. She is frugal in her menu choices, meticulous, counting every penny in her head. She demurs dividing the table bill evenly to cover desserts, designer coffees and the second and third glasses of wine she didn’t drink.

Nest Egg: Gone Long Ago

She lives without cable, a gym membership and nail appointments. She’s discovered she can do her own hair.

There are no retirement savings, no nest egg; she exhausted that long ago. There is no expensive condo from which to draw equity and no husband to back her up.

Months of slow pay and no pay have decimated her credit. Bill collectors call constantly, reading verbatim from a script, expressing polite sympathy for her plight — before demanding payment arrangements that she can’t possibly meet.

When the Phone Stops Ringing

Friends wonder privately how someone so well-educated could be in economic free fall. After all, she is still as talented as ever and smart as a whip. But work is sketchy now, mostly on-and-off consulting gigs. You can’t remember when she had a real job. She has learned how to appear engaged, but her phone doesn’t ring with opportunities anymore.

She doesn’t remember exactly when it stopped.

But she has entered the uncertain world of formerly and used to be and isn’t sure anymore where she belongs.

What she does know is that dozens of online job applications she’s filled out seem to have disappeared into a black hole. She’s convinced that employers have set their online job recruitment algorithms to reject anyone who graduated before 1995.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nextavenue.org/unemployed-55-and-faking-normal/

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Catholic Church spent $2M on major N.Y. lobbying firms to block child-sex law reform

The people who are concerned about their children’s safety from child molestation should worry a lot less about transgender folks using restrooms and more about their clergy.  Every week there is a story about some child molesting clergy member or other.  Why those stories are so common comedians make jokes about them.

From The New York Daily News:  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/catholic-church-hired-lobby-firms-block-n-y-kid-rape-laws-article-1.2655010

Monday, May 30, 2016

ALBANY — Not leaving it to divine chance, the state Catholic Conference has turned in recent years to some of Albany’s most well-connected and influential lobby firms to help block a bill that would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice.

The Catholic Conference, headed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, has used Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, Patricia Lynch & Associates, Hank Sheinkopf, and Mark Behan Communications to lobby against the Child Victims Act as well as for or against other measures.

All told, the conference spent more than $2.1 million on lobbying from 2007 through the end of 2015, state records show. That does not include the conference’s own internal lobbying team.

Filings show the lobbyists were retained, in part, to work on issues associated with “statute of limitations” and “timelines for commencing certain civil actions related to sex offenses.” Other issues included parochial school funding and investment tax credits.

“They are willing to spend limitless money in order to basically keep bad guys from being accountable for their actions,” said Melanie Blow, chief operations officer of the Stop Abuse Campaign. “I think they’re doing it because they don’t want to have to pay out settlements.”

Added Kathryn Robb, an advocate and survivor who says she was abused by her brother as a 9-year-old: “If they need to spend that much money on lobbying, clearly, then, they have some pretty big secrets to hide.”

While a far cry from the millions in lobbying top special interests spend in Albany each year, advocates for child sex abuse survivors say the $2.1 million spent likely represents a worthwhile investment to the Catholic Conference if it can continue to block legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sex abuse civil cases and open a one-year window to bring lawsuits for victims who can no longer sue under current law.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/catholic-church-hired-lobby-firms-block-n-y-kid-rape-laws-article-1.2655010

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First They Came for the Transgender People…

From Forward:  http://forward.com/opinion/341188/first-they-came-for-the-transgender-people/

Ari Paul
May 22, 2016

The hysteria over transgender bathrooms is reaching such a fever pitch that even Americans who aren’t transgender are getting hurt by it.

A Connecticut woman alleged earlier this month that she was harassed by Wal-Mart shoppers because, with her boyish appearance, she was mistaken for a transgender person headed for the women’s bathroom. “You are not supposed to be here!” she was told. “You need to leave!”

The incident is haunting for a few reasons. One is that the woman was not even part of the transgender community, the group usually thought to be the victims of the so-called bathroom bills that force trans people, in states like North Carolina, to use a restroom that doesn’t correspondent to the gender with which they identify. Another is that this happened in a state where such a law doesn’t exist. That brings us to the biggest problem: Regular citizens deputized themselves to enforce an invented standard of what a woman is supposed to look like in public.

This incident, coupled with the troubling trends of anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic and sexist outbursts from the supporters of the possible next American president, Donald Trump, is a window into the political mood our country is headed toward. That mood should be deeply worrisome not only to transgender Americans or to transgender American Jews, but to the American Jewish community writ large.

Martin Niemöller’s famous “First they came…” statement remains a powerful testament to the ability of people to let tyranny happen. But while it gives a nod to the persecution of socialists, labor activists and Jews, it omits the fact that sexual minorities — LGBT people and those who don’t conform to the gender binary — were among the first groups to be rounded up by the Nazis.

Let’s remember that Berlin’s Institute for Sexual Studies was shut down in 1933, two years before the Nuremburg Laws came into being. Headed by the German Jewish doctor Magnus Hirschfeld, the pioneering sexology research institute saw its books burned in the streets while Joseph Goebbels delivered a political speech to 40,000 people. The nightmare of fascism often starts with sexual minorities and then works its way toward other minorities. This history of the intersection of anti-Semitism, homophobia and transphobia in Nazi Germany is now being explored to wonderful effect in the Amazon studios series “Transparent.”

Sexual and gender minorities are particularly vulnerable, because unlike members of racial and religious communities, they are often estranged from family networks. If you were a Jew in Germany, everyone in your family was Jewish, too, but even today, throughout the world, LGBT people flee their families to make new lives for themselves.

In Nazi Germany, acceptance of what the fascists were doing to LGBT people is what gave way to the eventual acceptance of the “cleansing” of everyone else. And, like in the case of the Connecticut woman getting harassed at Wal-Mart, tyranny is at its most dangerous when it’s not only state agents who are enforcing codes, but also average citizens who are volunteering to turn on their non-compliant neighbors.

The optimistic view of these “bathroom bills” is that they are the last gasp of a dying conservatism that can’t accept the growing tide of LGBT rights. Marriage equality, once thought to be a pipe dream, is now constitutionally cemented, and resisters like Kentucky country clerk Kim Davis are considered comical extremists.

Continue reading at:  http://forward.com/opinion/341188/first-they-came-for-the-transgender-people/

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‘There Should Be a March on Washington for All of Us Over 60 Who Will Never Get a Job Again’

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/books/raising-minimum-wage-just-starting-point-building-serious-labor-movement

The demise of unions, the miserly minimum wage and the absence of an economic fairness movement add up to a dark future for many.

By Thomas Geoghegan
May 25, 2016

The following is an excerpt from the new book Only One Thing Can Save Us by Thomas Geoghegan (The New Press, 2016): 

“So, do you think ‘labor’ will ever come back?”

As a union-side lawyer I hate when people ask that question as if it’s my problem and not theirs. You’d think with tears in our eyes we’d embrace each other and say: “My God, what should we do?” It’s a question now not of bringing back “labor” but of bringing back the middle class. And neither you nor I have done enough on that.

In 40 years as a labor lawyer, I’ve yet to figure it out—and now? “You and I are done,” said Ed, who’s my age. “It’s up to younger people to figure it out.”

Well, I’m not done. With my 401(k), I have to keep going.

The other day I spoke to the guy at T. Rowe Price: “What do you think? Should I be in bonds? Maybe I should preserve capital?”

He seemed astonished. “You—preserve capital? You still need growth.”

I’m 65 and I still need growth. That’s why at this point in my life the collapse of labor is something personal. When I was younger, I thought of it as a problem for other people. But as I get older, I realize: I should have either saved more or made sure there was a labor movement to protect me. As it is, even Barack Obama seems ready to cut my Social Security.

It scares me how many of my friends are scrambling harder than ever. Here’s what one told me: “I thought when the kids were gone, my wife and I would have it easy. But somehow both of us seem to be working harder than ever. Those violin lessons I imagined I’d be taking in the morning? Forget it. It’s as if someone shows up and shouts in your ear: ‘Fine, your kids are gone, they’re all through college, great—NOW GET TO WORK!’ ”

With no labor movement, no pension, what’s to become of us? And we’re, relatively, well off!

At Starbucks I wince when the little old white-haired lady behind the counter says, “Can I start something for you?”

Start an IRA, for both of us. Only she and I know it’s too late. At least she’s working. I have friends my age who have no pension, nothing, and know they will never work again. They hope so, but …

“There should be a March on Washington,” said my friend Tony, “for all us guys, over 60, who know we’ll never find a real job again.”

It’s the last act for us: old guys, marching, like the Bonus Army in the Depression. Perhaps, as in the 1930s, General MacArthur will send in horse soldiers to sweep us away—all of us tottering baby boomers who were never in a war.

Of course it’s for the young I feel sorry: after all, it was on our watch that a labor movement disappeared. Am I wrong or do they seem intimidated? So far as I can tell, at least on the El, they seem to shrink from one another. They stare pitifully down at their iPhones, which stare up pitilessly at them. Their own gadgetry sits in judgment of them.

But why pick on them? Everyone seems demoralized. In my practice, I long ago came to accept that when labor disappeared, I’d stop seeing union members. But now they are not even “employees.” More and more I have clients who have signed away their rights to be considered “employees” at all—which means there’s no minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, no Social Security, nothing. Years ago they should have said something when the HR people said: “You’re no longer employees here—but cheer up, you’ll go on working for us as independent contractors.” In one case we have, the boss even made the guys set up their own personal “corporations,” as in “John Smith, Incorporated.” Then HR says: “We don’t pay you, John Smith, but John Smith, Incorporated.” My friends ask: “How can people live on the minimum wage?” But as an independent contractor, John Smith, Incorporated, doesn’t even make the minimum wage. Sometimes I think: one day, every American worker will be a John Smith, Incorporated, every cleaning lady, every janitor, every one of us—it will be a nation of CEOs in chains. “How did I let this happen?”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/books/raising-minimum-wage-just-starting-point-building-serious-labor-movement

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Women Are Leaving Church, And the Reason Seems Clear

From Religion Dispatches:  http://religiondispatches.org/women-are-leaving-church-and-the-reason-seems-clear/

May 25, 2016

A new Pew Research Center analysis of General Social Survey data confirms a long-simmering trend in U.S. religious observance: While attendance at religious services has declined for all Americans, it has declined more among women then men.

In the early 1970s, 36 percent of women and 26 percent of men reported attending church services weekly, a ten-point gap that reflected the long-standing trend of women being more religiously committed than men.

The gap reached its widest point in 1982, when it hit 13 percent, but then it began to shrink. By 2012, 22 percent of men reported attending church weekly, as did 28 percent of women, reflecting a “worship gap” of only six percent, an historic low.

Pew’s David McClendon gives several possible reasons for women’s declining levels of religiosity as measured by church attendance. One is the increase in the number of women in the workforce, which could theoretically decrease their leisure time and force them to cut back on activities like church. But as McClendon himself notes, “the fastest increase in women’s full-time employment” actually “occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during which time the gender gap on religious service attendance actually widened somewhat.”

If women aren’t too busy with work to go to church, maybe it’s because they’re becoming too well educated. Higher rates of educational attainment are correlated to less church going, except McClendon notes that both more educated and less educated women are going to church less.

Finally, McClendon notes that the growth of the “nones” appears to having contributed to women’s declining church attendance, as “the rate of growth in the unaffiliated has been slightly more rapid for women than men,” which has “helped narrow the gender gap in weekly attendance.”

But it seems likely that more women becoming unaffiliated is part and parcel of the same trend of more women staying away from church. It still doesn’t explain why this is happening.

What McClendon overlooks is that the years that women’s church attendance began to decline are the very years when religious leaders in the Catholic Church and the evangelical movement fused religion with the culture wars, with overall attendance for women taking it’s first steep drop in the 1980s.

This drop in church attendance for women coincided with the period when the Catholic bishops began making abortion a litmus test for Catholic politicians, as in the 1984 election when Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro was attacked for being pro-choice.

And Pew’s own numbers appear to back this up. According to Pew, women are slightly more likely than men to say that churches should keep out of politics (55 percent vs. 53 percent), and overall 60 percent of Catholics say church should keep out of politics.

Women’s church attendance did recover somewhat in the early 1990s, but then began a long slide in the mid-1990s that continued to 2012, when the GSS data end. While the GSS numbers don’t break out attendance by religion, church attendance for both men and women appears to have bottomed out around the time the sex scandals broke in the Catholic Church in 2001. Other studies have a found “a significant decline in religious participation as a result of the scandals,” and it’s possible this decline was large enough to affect overall church attendance.

Continue reading at:  http://religiondispatches.org/women-are-leaving-church-and-the-reason-seems-clear/

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Krav Maga Girl | Leave me alone | Stranger Harassment

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Anti-Trans Target Activist Arrested For Holding Child Captive

From Peacock Panache:  http://www.peacock-panache.com/2016/05/transgender-target-activist-arrested-kidnapping-23200.html

May 23, 2016

Proving once more that those who yell the loudest against the LGBT community are normally the people with the most to hide, an Ohio man and his father were arrested last week after holding a 13-year-old girl captive in their basement for more than a year. Prior to his arrest 27 year-old Esten Ciboro spent his free time on social media warning people of the dangers of transgender women in Target bathrooms and supporting Donald Trump.

The Toledo Blade reported on the arrest:

Timothy Ciboro, 53, and his son, Esten Ciboro, 27, were charged Thursday with kidnapping and child endangerment. [SNIP]

Authorities continue investigating after a 13-year-old girl reported she was detained for extended periods in a North Toledo basement by her stepfather and his adult son. Late Wednesday, she escaped 825 Noble St. with a spare key.

As police arrived, they found the suspects, two children, and their two pets in a van. The family appeared to be leaving the home, police said. A search of the house found large handcuffs or leg irons in the basement.

Officers arrested Timothy Ciboro, 53, and Esten Ciboro, 27, on kidnapping and child endangerment charges. They were being held in the Lucas County jail, each on $500,000 bonds.

Her captivity spanned months in which she was brutally abused and mistreated:

It is not yet clear when she was first shackled in the basement. She told police she was restrained at the ankle for multiple periods, once as long as a year, she ate spoiled food scraps and had to defecate in a bucket containing ammonia, court documents said.

You can read more on the case against the Coboros here and here.

Of particular interest is the younger Ciboro’s insistence that transgender women somehow pose a threat to women and girls in Target restrooms. Much like a significant number of Republican politicians who previously railed against LGBT rights that ended up being exposed as philanderers and child molesters, those in the fundamentalist Christian anti-transgender camp have now begun demonstrating similar criminal qualities.

It wouldn’t be a first for the Christian community, either. Just last year news broke that the Duggars – who spent millions opposing LGBT rights across the country – hid their son’s child molestation and incest from police long enough to help him evade conviction.

Continue reading at:  http://www.peacock-panache.com/2016/05/transgender-target-activist-arrested-kidnapping-23200.html


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QUACKS: ‘Conversion Therapists,’ the Anti-LGBT Right, and the Demonization of Homosexuality

From The Southern Poverty Law Center:  https://www.splcenter.org/20160525/quacks-conversion-therapists-anti-lgbt-right-and-demonization-homosexuality

Mark Potok
Senior Fellow
May 25, 2016

This is a report about junk science and some of the people who propagate it. It is not about silly, perhaps amusing theories about ESP or life on the moon or even purported miracle cures for cancer. The “science” examined here actively harms people, leading with grim regularity to suicide, depression and an array of self-destructive behaviors. It demeans, defames and defrauds human beings, typically at their most vulnerable moments. And, as if that weren’t enough, it regularly lays the blame for the alleged malady of homosexuality at the feet of gay people’s parents, despite the fact that they are wholly innocent

Executive Summary

Will standing in a circle of naked men deep in the woods turn gay men straight? Is disrobing in front of a mirror alone with your therapist and then touching “your masculinity” a cure for homosexuality? Does beating a pillow representing your mother really help develop “healthy” relationships with other men?

The men and women who people this industry known as “conversion,” “reparative” or “ex-gay” therapists are like modern-day phrenologists, the “experts” beloved by the Nazis who thought they could identify inferior human beings by measuring their subjects’ skulls. They employ theories that have been thoroughly debunked by virtually all relevant medical associations. They cite bizarre studies that were shot down decades ago as key documents. They use techniques that were described in court by one expert as “worse than snake oil.” They are quacks.

Many of them are doubtless sincere. Some describe their own struggles with “unwanted same-sex attractions.” But sincere or not, the promotion of conversion therapy has a cynical side. If being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is merely a chosen behavior, one that can be “fixed” with the right mental health treatment, then criticizing LGBT people for their sexual choices is akin to simply criticizing bad behavior. Unlike attacking someone for their skin color, reparative therapists can condemn the gay “lifestyle” and still claim that they are not LGBT-hating bigots.

The real science is perfectly clear. A consensus of the vast majority of psychiatrists, psychologists and other counselors and their professional organizations agree that homosexuality is a normal variation of human sexuality. Likewise, they condemn reparative therapy and other attempts to change sexual orientation.

This report is built around revelations that emerged from a lawsuit that was tried in New Jersey last year. Represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and other attorneys, several gay plaintiffs sued Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, or JONAH (formerly Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality), under a state consumer fraud law.

The case did not go well for JONAH. The judge in the case barred almost all testimony from the six experts proffered by the defendants, saying that “the theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel but like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it instead is outdated and refuted.” In the end, the plaintiffs won a hands down victory and JONAH went out of business. But in depositions and the trial itself, the creepy world of reparative therapy was laid bare.

Nude group exercises and one-on-one therapy, re-enactments of past sexual abuse, group cuddling, and counseling blaming parents were normal. Bizarre practices included using anti-LGBT slurs, basketballs and even a pair of oranges representing testicles. Plaintiffs were told that living as gay men would reduce their lifespans, subject them to terrible diseases, and ensure miserable lives.

The practice of reparative therapy, which one expert estimates has been administered to one in three LGBT youths in recent years, is unconscionable, particularly when it is forced on young people by parents who are often trying to do what they think is best for their children. A number of experts have shown clearly that such therapy is unethical and utterly counterproductive.

Based on this study, the SPLC recommends several steps:

Continue reading at:  https://www.splcenter.org/20160525/quacks-conversion-therapists-anti-lgbt-right-and-demonization-homosexuality

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After Being Harassed In A Walmart Bathroom, This Connecticut Woman Knew She Had To Say Something

From APlus:  http://aplus.com/a/aimee-toms-transgender-walmart-bathroom

“I don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable.”

May 17, 2016

A cisgender woman from Connecticut says she experienced firsthand the discrimination that many transgender people face when she was verbally assaulted in a bathroom.

On Friday, 22-year-old Aimee Toms was in a Walmart bathroom when she says that a stranger asked her to leave.

“You are not supposed to be here. You have to leave,” the woman said, according to Toms. “You’re disgusting.”

After the woman left the bathroom, Toms realized that she had been perceived as transgender because of her short hair. Toms previously donated some of her hair to a nonprofit organization that creates free wigs for cancer patients.

“I’ve had people call me all sorts of names for having short hair. I’ve had people call me a boy, I’ve had people call me a dyke, I’ve had people call me gay.” Toms told local publication The Danbury News Times. “I’m grateful that that woman only called me disgusting and didn’t physically attack me… I was a victim of transphobia today as a cisgender female because my hair is short.”

Complete article at:  http://aplus.com/a/aimee-toms-transgender-walmart-bathroom

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Dear Creepy Heterosexual Men Guarding Our Bathrooms

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kasey-rosehodge/dear-creepy-heterosexual-men-guarding-our-bathrooms_b_10105512.html

Kasey Rose-Hodge

My entire life, I’ve been told to fear you in one way or another. I’ve been told to cover my body as to not distract you in school, to cover my body to help avoid unwanted advances or comments, to cover my body as to not tempt you to sexually assault me, to reject your unwanted advances politely as to not anger you. I’ve been taught to never walk alone at night, to hold my keys in my fist while walking in parking lots, to check the backseat of my car, to not drink too much because you might take advantage of me. I’ve been told what I should and shouldn’t do with my body as to not jeopardize my relationships with you.

I’ve been warned not to emasculate you, to let “boys be boys,” to protect your fragile ego and to not tread on your even more fragile masculinity. I’ve been taught to keep my emotions in check, to let you be the unit of measure for how much emotion is appropriate and to adjust my emotions accordingly. I’ve been taught that you’re allowed to categorize women into mothers/sisters/girlfriends/wives/daughters but any woman outside of your protected categories is fair game.

So to those of you who think you’re being helpful by “protecting” me and my fellow women, you’re like a shark sitting in the lifeguard chair. I wasn’t uncomfortable until you showed up at the pool and the only potential predator I see is you.

Your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives and daughters don’t need you to walk them to the bathroom for safety. Your fathers, brothers, friends and sons need to walk themselves away from their own double standards. Women are sexually harassed and sexually assaulted on school campuses, on the street, at their jobs, on the Internet, in their own homes, in ANY public place. And it has been excused or ignored for so long because of what you and I are taught from the first years of our interactions with each other: You, as a male, are not accountable for your own actions. It’s MY responsibility, as a female, to not “provoke” you. But then you get to knight-in-shining-armor your way through life for those in your protected categories and I am expected to applaud you. Why the outrage now over bathrooms? Why aren’t you outraged every single day?

If you’re telling me that there are high volumes of boys and men out there, in schools or in general, who are just waiting for a “loop-hole” to sexually assault girls and women, we have bigger problems on our hands than bathrooms. The first problem would be your apparent lack of knowledge of how often it happens OUTSIDE of bathrooms, with no “loop holes” needed. This isn’t about transgender bathroom access. This is about you not trusting the boys and men in your communities and/or fearing that they’re all secretly predators. Why do you have this fear? How many fathers have panicked when their daughters started dating because they “know how teenage boys can be because they used to be one”? How many times have girls been warned “boys are only after one thing”? A mother can bring her young son into the women’s restroom and that’s fine but a father bringing his young daughter into the men’s restroom is disturbing because men are assumed to be predators and “little girls” shouldn’t be exposed to that.

So instead of picking up your sword and heading to Target or the girls’ locker room to defend our “rights,” why don’t you start somewhere that could actually make a difference? Challenge your children’s schools to end sexist dress codes and dress codes that sexualize girls as young as age 5. Advocate for proper (or any) sex education classes in all public schools by a certain grade level. Focus more on teaching your sons not to rape vs teaching your daughters how to avoid being raped. Stop asking “How would you feel if that was your mother or sister?” It shouldn’t take the comparison to clue you in to what’s right or wrong. Question why you’re more worried about your daughter being around men than your son being around women in bathrooms and dressing rooms. Stop walking by Victoria’s Secret with no problem but covering your son’s eyes if a woman is breastfeeding in public. Stop treating your daughter’s body as some fortress you’re sworn to protect as if that’s all she’s got to offer the world.

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Woman Mistaken for Transgender Harassed in Walmart Bathroom

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Woman mistaken for transgender rants on bathroom discrimination

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Liberal Redneck – Belief Don’t Matter None

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We Should All Be More Like Short-Haired Girls

Using gender as a way of determining who is a man or woman oppresses women.  Gender is sexism in new drag.

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/henry-wilde/we-should-all-be-more-lik_b_9953660.html

Henry Wilde

I am not sure President Obama had girls like my ten-year-old daughter Mira in mind when he decided his administration would fight North Carolina’s bathroom law, but I hope he knows how much the message matters to children like her everywhere.

Mira is a badass, short-haired little girl. She has her own style, which prominently features trash talk laden athletic t-shirts, hoodies, Fab Five-ish baggie shorts, uniforms for her various sports teams, and a tuxedo for formal occasions. We are not sure where she picked it up, but her favorite word is “genderizing.” When her fourth-grade teacher asked girls in the class to use checkered name tags and boys to use stripes, she found it genderizing. Sideline reporters are all women and sportscasters are all men? Genderizing. Is the Happy Meal for a boy or for a girl? Give me the Transformer, and stop genderizing!

Every day, Mira makes choices that require courage and patience and, recently, tolerance of insensitive adults. A few weeks ago, Mira’s U10 Girls soccer team won a tournament, and twelve elated girls sprinted up to the referee to ask him where they would receive their medals. The referee responded, “You don’t deserve to get medals, because you played boys on your team.” I explained to Mira that he only said it because she and the other short-haired girl on her team played so well that they constituted an unfair advantage, to which Mira responded, “But that means he thinks that boys are better soccer players than girls, and that makes me even madder.” At a game last weekend, the opposing parents vocally expressed frustration that they had lost to a co-ed team, despite being told otherwise. A few months ago, the father of one of her short-haired teammates lectured a complaining parent from an opposing team that he had changed his daughter’s diapers and, in fact, could verify that she was a girl.

I can’t describe the pride we feel when she shrugs these things off and doubles down on following her own true north. We make a point to always correct adults when they innocently refer to her as a boy – because she appreciates it – and generally, she exhibits more annoyance than rage when adults do it snidely like they have at youth sporting events. After that tournament, she decided to write the referee a letter. She concluded with, “First of all you’ve got to get some sense into your head. I mean it’s an all girls soccer tournament. You seriously think that our smart coach would play two boys in an all girls soccer tournament? And second of all the 56’ers are an elite team that definitely deserved to win that tournament. I really hope that you have come to your senses after reading this letter.”

But there is one exception to her fearlessness. Mira hates to go into women’s bathrooms. At summer camp two summers ago, a teenage counselor screamed at her to get out of the locker room while two other little girls pushed her out the door. Since then, she has changed in an isolated bathroom, where she could lock the door. Her experience is not unique. We have spoken with other parents of equally badass short-haired girls, and every single one has had similar experiences. One was told by other girls in a bathroom to pull down her pants to prove she was a girl. Another had to shove a girl out of her way to get through a bathroom door. A third has had accidents, because she dreaded having to explain herself just to use the restroom.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/henry-wilde/we-should-all-be-more-lik_b_9953660.html


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Obama’s latest evolution: trans rights

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/05/18/an-evolution-for-obama-in-favor-of-trans-rights/

by Chris Johnson
May 18, 2016

The Obama administration is taking monumental strides in favor of transgender rights that may seem unprecedented, but trans advocates have differing takes on whether these developments represent a change since the start of President Obama’s tenure in the White House.

The new initiatives, unveiled last week, began with a lawsuit filed by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch against North Carolina’s House Bill 2, which prohibits transgender people in the state from using public restrooms in schools and government buildings consistent with their gender identity. In widely praised remarks announcing the lawsuit, Lynch compared the law to Jim Crow laws, calling House Bill 2 “state-sponsored discrimination.”

At the end of the week, the Departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance informing schools discrimination against transgender students, including in bathroom use, constitutes a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which could result in a loss of federal funds for the state.

Finally, the Department of Health & Human Services announced it had made final a rule prohibiting anti-trans discrimination in health care and insurance. The rule requires insurance plans to cover transition-related medications, gender reassignment surgeries and other treatments for transgender people if these plans cover similar services to non-transgender people with other medical conditions.

The trans focus of these initiatives stands in contrast to more gay-centric progress earlier in the Obama administration, such as efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and ensure marriage rights for same-sex couples nationwide. Support for trans rights was often done in the context of initiatives in favor of LGBT community writ-large, such as Obama’s support at the start of his administration for a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act and hate crimes protections legislation.

Much like Obama’s “evolution” before he announced in 2012 he supports same-sex marriage, observers might assume a similar evolution in support of trans rights.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2016/05/18/an-evolution-for-obama-in-favor-of-trans-rights/

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Q&A – Free Will, Free Speech and Criticising Islam

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Hillary Clinton talks HIV Criminalization

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Bill Maher to Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Why Do Liberals ‘Blame the Victim’ When It Comes to Islam?

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It’s illegal to discriminate ‘because of sex.’ But what does that actually mean?

From The Los Angeles Times:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0515-thomas-title-vii-evolution-20160515-story.html

By Gillian Thomas
May 16, 2016

he Department of Justice last week threw down the gauntlet in North Carolina, filing a lawsuit alleging that the state violated federal anti-discrimination laws by restricting trans individuals’ access to bathrooms in state government buildings. One of those federal laws, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, forbids employment discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion – and sex. DOJ says that North Carolina has engaged in sex discrimination, because, in DOJ’s view, “sex” includes “gender identity.”

The government’s interpretation of that word — “sex” — has broadened significantly since Title VII’s passage. Indeed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency created by Title VII and vested with primary enforcement authority for the statute, initially understood “because of sex” to mean no more than overt disadvantages to women in favor of men, and showed no interest in enforcing the provision at all. It’s taken decades for the legal understanding of sex to arrive at where it is today, and it’s a progression that maps, and mirrors, our cultural understanding of sex as more than just biology.


“Sex” was added to Title VII’s list of protected characteristics at the last minute by Rep. Howard Smith of Virginia, an avowed opponent of the Civil Rights Act. Although Smith was, incongruously, a longtime supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, his jocular tone during much of the floor debate on the sex amendment suggested that he was less than serious about winning its adoption. (Historians have come to believe that Smith likely was sincere, if only because he feared that an employment rights bill that protected against race but not sex discrimination would place white women at a disadvantage in the workplace.) The amendment ultimately passed, but not without a good deal of bemused commentary from House members — only 12 of whom were women — at the notion that women should stand on equal footing in the workplace.

The unceremonious addition of “sex” to Title VII prompted a dismissive attitude among the EEOC’s leadership. When a reporter at a press conference asked Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., the agency’s first Chair, “What about sex?” he had only a joke for an answer. “Don’t get me started,” he said. “I’m all for it.” Another of the agency’s first leaders wrote off the Title VII sex provision as a “fluke” that was “born out of wedlock.”

Not surprisingly, then, although fully one-third of the charges filed with the EEOC in its first year of existence alleged sex discrimination, the agency was slow to articulate what illegal discrimination “because of sex” even meant. It waffled, for instance, on whether to sanction job ads that were separated into “help wanted — male” and “help wanted — female,” or the airline industry’s widespread rules that female flight attendants couldn’t be married, over the age of 30 or pregnant.

But thanks to pressure from feminist lawyers within the EEOC, as well as forces outside it — notably the National Organization for Women, founded in part to protest the agency’s cavalier Title VII enforcement — the agency began to right itself.

In 1968, it ruled that sex-segregated ads violated Title VII, and that flight attendants should not be subject to marriage and age restrictions. In 1972, it updated its “Guidelines on Discrimination Because of Sex” to prohibit pregnancy discrimination and sex-differentiated terms in employer pension plans. In even later versions of the Guidelines, the EEOC disapproved “fetal protection policies” that disqualified women from jobs that involved exposure to dangerous chemicals, declared bias against workers with caregiving responsibilities to be a form of sex discrimination, and adopted a definition of pregnancy discrimination that imposed robust obligations on employers to accommodate pregnant employees’ physical limitations.

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0515-thomas-title-vii-evolution-20160515-story.html

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