Israel’s First Openly Transgender Soldier Paves the Way for Others

From NBC News:

by Julie Compton
Apr 5 2017

When Israel’s first out transgender soldier was making plans to enlist in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) — mandatory for all Israeli citizens — in 2012, all he wanted was to wear a men’s uniform. The soldier, who was assigned female at birth, asked a military psychologist for assistance. What he got instead was a “mental mark” on his record, an indication that he had a mental health issue.

While the Israeli military had allowed gays and lesbians to serve openly since 1993, it did not have a written policy on how to deal with transgender personnel, who were “frequently discharged — voluntarily or involuntarily — under the guise of mental health issues,” according to a report from the Palm Center, a U.S.-based think tank focused on issues surrounding gender and sexuality in the armed forces.

“I don’t need to explain how frustrated and even mad I was at that time, but after I cooled down I decided I’m going to prove [the psychologist] wrong. And I’m going to succeed, and I’m not going to let her or any of this nonsense affect my service,” the soldier, who asked to be identified only as Captain Shachar, told NBC Out.

Shachar entered the military as a female. He wore the women’s uniform his first day of service. It was almost identical to the men’s, but to the soldier it was like wearing a dress.

“For me it was unacceptable in any way,” the 23 year-old explained. He decided to confide in his commander for help.

“I told her everything, and of course, I was the first person she ever met who identified as transgender,” he said. “The first question [she asked] was, ‘How can I help? What do you need?’ I was shocked actually, and I told her, ‘[a] men’s uniform.'”

Regulations at the time prevented her from providing a men’s uniform, he said, but she was able to get him a unisex one. “From that moment on, I never wore a woman’s uniform again,” Shachar said.

Though there were no policies at the time on how to deal with transgender soldiers, Shachar’s commanders treated him with respect, according to the captain. He said they even encouraged him to come out to his peers during officer training. After one of his fellow cadets gave a talk about the LGBTQ community, Shachar’s commander asked him to tell his own story.

“I was super nervous and changed my mind about it like eight times,” he said. “I just remember how I opened it by saying that I want to tell them my personal story, but not in order for them to better know me, but in order for them to be better officers in the future.”

Shachar said his fellow cadets respected his gender identity and asked him a lot of questions.

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My Son, My Daughter: A Mother’s Evolution

From The New York Times

Isabel Rose, the New York real estate heiress, decided to go public about her child’s gender
transition after President Trump rescinded federal protections for transgender students.

April 1, 2017

Isabel Rose, the telegenic heiress to one of New York’s best-known real estate dynasties, has always had an ability to make her publicity-wary family squirm.

In 2005 she published a novel, “The J.A.P. Chronicles,” in which she took aim at the Hermès-clad, charter-plane-flying set whence she came. (In a mostly positive review, Kirkus Reviews called the novel’s characters “shallow, mean, self-centered, ruthless and resentful.”)

Ms. Rose, 48, is a fixture on the New York cabaret scene, performing an Ann-Margret-inspired act at nightspots like Joe’s Pub and 54 Below.

A 2014 video for her single “Trouble in Paradise” showed her cavorting around in a rhinestone-encrusted romper from Patricia Field, flanked by a trio of drag queen backup singers, as she sang about how she wouldn’t wind up as anyone’s trophy wife.

But recently, Ms. Rose has been in the news for something with considerably larger stakes: the gender transition of her 8-year-old child, Sadie (formerly Samuel).

On Feb. 24, shortly after President Trump signed an executive order that rolled back federal protections for transgender students, Medium published an open letter by Ms. Rose that was addressed to Ivanka Trump.

In it, Ms. Rose asked Ms. Trump to take a stand on behalf of parents like herself. She pointed out their similarities.

“We are both from prominent New York real estate families, we both attended private all-girls schools and went on to earn degrees from Ivy League colleges, and we both married smart Jewish men and now have young children,” Ms. Rose wrote.

Then, she issued a directive: “Ivanka, put yourself in my Jimmy Choos for a minute. What would you do if you were me? Because I know exactly what I would do if I were you: I would take my father aside and explain that failing to protect innocent children’s rights to use the bathroom of their choice is wrong and unfair and un-American.”

Within hours, the letter went viral, generating hundreds of comments that ranged from profoundly supportive to utterly horrified. It was reposted on the website of Harper’s Bazaar. CNN commissioned a follow-up piece, in which Ms. Rose gently picked apart some of the more stinging commentary that had come her way, noting that there is a subtle but essential difference between giving a child permission to express who they are and engaging as a parent in “indulgent behavior.”

At gay and transgender benefits around town, Ms. Rose arrived in her Isabel Marant trousers and the Row blazers, and was greeted almost like a folk hero — a Jessica Chastain look-alike who had spoken truth to power and put her social position at risk on behalf of a cause that needs powerful allies.

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Nazi-Allied Group ‘Really Proud’ Of Controversial Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka

From The Forward:

By Dave Goldiner
Apr 9, 2017

Leaders of a Hungarian far-right wing group that colloborated with the Nazis said they were “proud” to see controversial White House aide Sebastian Gorka wearing the group’s medal — and political allies and rivals alike said they believe he is a member of the group.

“When he appeared on U.S. television … with the medal … it made me really proud,” Vitezi Rend spokesman Andras Horvath told NBC News in the Hungarian capital of Budapest.

Three people, including onetime political allies and rivals alike, told the network that the anti-terrorism aide was a well known member of the group during his time in far right-wing politics in the central European nation.

“I knew that Sebastian Gorka was a member of Vitezi Rend, even then,” Gabor Solti, a Hungarian geologist who ran on Gorka’s mayoral ticket in the small town of Piliscsaba in 2006. Solti conceded he had no concrete evidence of Gorka’s membership.

The Forward exclusively reported that Gorka was a sworn member of the group, quoting three local officials. That could call into question his American citizenship since the group is considered a wartime ally of the Nazis.

Gorka vehemently denies all the charges, but has refused to denounce the Vitezi Rand.

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The destruction of Hillary Clinton: sexism, Sanders and the millennial feminists

From The Guardian UK:

In this extract from her book, Susan Bordo asks how the most qualified candidate ever to run for president lost the seemingly unloseable election

Sunday 2 April 2017

Many books have been written about the way racial differences among feminists both divided and pushed feminist thinking and practice forward over the past several decades. In the 2016 election, however, it was not race but generation that was the dynamic factor among left-leaning women. Women like me, who experienced many cultural battles in the “gender wars” firsthand – from the first scornful comments that journalists had heaped on “women’s libbers”, to the public shaming of Anita Hill, to the renewed threats to bodily rights that we thought we had won decades earlier – brought to the 2016 campaign a personal knowledge of the fragility of feminist accomplishments and an identification with Hillary that was deeper and longer than any current headlines.

We may have winced – as I did – when Madeleine Albright quoted a coffee-cup version of feminism or Hillary said “deal me in”. But we understood that behind every seeming appeal to “sisterhood” was the history of what was indeed a revolution – and one that was far from over. We knew the role Hillary had played in that revolution, and the price she had paid for it. Many of us, too, had followed Clinton through the course of her public career, had read her autobiography, and knew very well that the accusation that she had come to issues concerning racial and economic justice late and “for political purposes” was among the most extraordinary fabrications of the campaign.

Many younger women, on the other hand – no less feminist, no less committed to gender equality – had formed their ideas about “the Clintons”, as Savannah Barker reminds us, in the shadow of 20 years of relentless personal and political attacks. Few of them – as I know from decades of teaching courses on feminism, gender issues, and the social movements of the 60s – were aware of the “living history” (to borrow Hillary’s phrase) that shaped the woman herself.

These young women weren’t around when the GOP, appalled that liberals like the Clintons had somehow grabbed political power, began a series of witchhunts that have never ended. (Hillary was correct: it has been a “vast rightwing conspiracy”, from the Spectator magazine’s “Arkansas Project”, designed specifically to take Bill Clinton down, to Kenneth Starr’s relentless digging into Bill’s private life, to the Benghazi and email investigations.)

They hadn’t experienced a decade of culture wars in which feminists’ efforts to bring histories of gender and race struggle into the educational curriculum were reduced to a species of political correctness. They didn’t witness the complicated story of how the 1994 crime bill came to be passed or the origins of the “super-predator” label (not coined by Hillary and not referring to black youth, but rather to powerful, older drug dealers).

It isn’t necessary, of course, to have firsthand knowledge of history in order to have an informed idea of events and issues. When it came to Hillary Clinton, however, sorting out fact from politically motivated fiction was a difficult task, particularly if one’s knowledge was filtered through the medium of election-year battles.

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This Law Firm Is Linked to Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bills Across the Country

From NBC News:

Mary Emily O’Hara
Apr 8 2017

Bills have been introduced in 15 states nationwide this year that aim to restrict transgender people’s access to sex-segregated facilities. From Minnesota to New York, many of the legislative bills awaiting votes focus specifically on schools as kids and teens find themselves at the center of a battle over bathrooms.

But many of the so-called “bathroom bills” filed across multiple states closely resemble each other. That’s because many used language strongly similar to the model legislation called the Student Physical Privacy Act drafted by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a powerful conservative Christian law firm with a decades-long track record of litigating against LGBT rights. It’s also been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The firm’s model legislation is mirrored in — sometimes identical to — proposed state bills around the country. Minnesota’s 2017 Student Physical Privacy Act is a word-for-word copy of the ADF legislation. A 2016 Kansas bill to create a student privacy act was an ADF twin as well. While the Kansas bill died after public outcry over a provision allowing students to sue their schools every time they encountered a trans classmate in a restroom, the Minnesota bill is currently awaiting a hearing. NBC News examined a handful of similar bills in Texas, Illinois, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Nevada that all appeared to be influenced by the model legislation. Dozens of such bills were proposed in early 2017.

In February 2016, the Washington Post quoted ADF attorney Matt Sharp saying that “lawmakers in at least five states” had used the model legislation. Sharp also told the Post that ADF had mailed its Student Physical Privacy Act to “thousands” of school districts.

Mara Keisling, director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, travels the country testifying at legislative hearings and meeting with local advocates. She told NBC News that Alliance Defending Freedom is nearly always involved in some way.

“Sometimes legislators tell us. Sometimes the ADF lawyers are there. Sometimes you can tell if you know that’s who did the bill in X state, and you see it again in Y state,” said Keisling.

Alliance Against LGBT rights?

Alliance Defending Freedom is a nonprofit law firm founded in 1994 by six notable conservative Christian men: James Dobson of Focus on the Family; Bill Bright and Larry Burkett of Campus Crusade for Christ; Marlin Maddoux of International Christian Media; D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries; and Alan Sears, former director of the anti-pornography Meese Commission and author of the 2003 book “The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today.”

According to its June 2015 financial disclosure, ADF’s work includes training and support, public education, and legal advocacy that “champions inherent God-given freedoms that allow for the flourishing of all people throughout the world while affirming the dignity of every person as created in God’s holy image.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the Alliance Defending Freedom mission differently: “Making life as difficult as possible for LGBT communities in the U.S. and internationally” by fighting against same-sex marriage and transgender people’s access to private facilities.

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North Carolina Democrats Didn’t Compromise — They Caved

From The Advocate:

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