Ireland’s trans children: ‘I didn’t know what ‘trans’ meant. I just felt that I was a woman’

From The Irish Times:

Four young transgender people on growing up, coming out and being accepted

Jennifer O’Connell
Sat, Sep 29, 2018

There’s no simple answer to the question of what it’s like to grow up transgender in Ireland in 2018.

On the one hand, “Ireland is a world leader in trans inclusion”, says Toryn Glavin, a 24-year-old transgender woman from Wexford, and campaigner for trans equality.

Glavin is referring, in part, to the 2015 Gender Recognition Act, which provided an administrative process for transgender people over 18 to achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender. The process is also open to people aged 16-18, though they have to go through the Circuit Court and get a doctor’s certificate and parental consent.

She also points to a kind of “blasé attitude” among Irish people that, she says, can be very empowering for trans people. “They’re not trying really hard to prove what trans allies they are, and they’re not always questioning your identity either.”

A trans child described being pushed down the stairs in school, and pushed into the showers in their uniform, where they were soaked

At the same time, the picture is far from rosy. Suicidality, bullying and harassment, violence and systemic discrimination disproportionately affect the trans community everywhere in the world, and Ireland is no exception.

Society hasn’t kept pace with legal acceptance, says Moninne Griffith, the executive director of BeLonG To, who chaired a review group of the 2015 Gender Recognition Act.

In its report published last summer, the cross-party group recommended that the administrative process be extended to young people of all ages, subject to parental consent, which would “make Ireland the most progressive country in the world for trans equality”, as well as equality for non-binary and intersex people.

On a day-to-day basis, however, “it is still really tough to be transgender in Ireland”. In schools, communities, and homes, the experience is marked by “a fear of rejection, isolation, bullying, stigma and prejudice. As a result, young people are experiencing high rates of depression and anxiety, self-harm and suicide.”

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Marty Balin, a Founder of Jefferson Airplane, Dies at 76

In the late 1960 and early 1970s I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, Berkeley to be exact.  My two favorite Bay Area bands were The Dead and The Airplane.

Jerry Garcia died over 20 years ago but the Grateful Dead, more an extended family than a band goes on.  The Airplane did not survive the 1970s although Jorma plays on and gives me guitar lessons from DVD and You Tube.

From The New York Times:

By Jon Pareles
Sept. 29, 2018

Marty Balin, a founder, lead singer and songwriter of the groundbreaking San Francisco psychedelic band Jefferson Airplane and a key member of that band’s 1970s successor, Jefferson Starship, died on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. He was 76.

His death was announced on Friday by his wife, Susan Joy Balin. A representative, Ryan Romenesko, said Mr. Balin, who lived in Tampa, had died en route to a hospital. No cause of death was given.

Mr. Balin was a prime mover in the flowering of psychedelic rock in mid-1960s San Francisco, not only as a founding member of Jefferson Airplane in 1965, but also as an original owner of the Matrix, a club that opened that year and nurtured bands and artists like the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Santana and Steppenwolf.

Mr. Balin’s voice could offer the intimate solace of ballads like Jefferson Airplane’s “Today,” the siren wails of a frantic acid-rocker like the group’s “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” or the soul-pop entreaties of Jefferson Starship’s “Miracles.”

Jefferson Airplane would earn its place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with music that was the epitome of 1960s psychedelia: a molten, improvisatory mixture of folk, rock, blues, jazz, R&B, ragas and more, sometimes adopting pop-song structures and sometimes exploding them. The songs were about love, freedom, altered perception, rebellion and possibilities that could be transcendent or apocalyptic.

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Jorma Kaukonen

Now We Are Three

Now We Are Three
Requiem For A Friend
Marty Balin
30 Jan. 1942/27 Sept. 2018

Life is a thin thread
It’s a thin little hand on a hospital bed
It’s all the things you’ve left unsaid
Life is a thin thread

It’s a fine line between loving and not
Between holding it back or giving all that you’ve got
Feeling you’re free, thinking you’re caught
It’s a fine line

(Thin Thread by Connie Kaldor)

I was more than saddened yesterday to hear of Marty Balin’s passing. Jack and I were in Northampton, Mass. at the Academy Of Music and we were just getting ready to do our sound check. I knew that Marty had been sick and I knew in a general way that he had grievous issues but I did not really know what they were. Marty always kept a lot of shade on himself. I stood there in the little room in the wings, stage left… struck dumb. What can you say? We always say and hear, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ but what does that really mean? We say it. We have to say it and then in the confines of our hearts we try to process the sorrow and search for the words that really convey what we feel. It is an imperfect process.

Marty and I were young together in a time that defined our lives. Had it not been for him, my life would have taken an alternate path I cannot imagine. He and Paul Kantner came together and like plutonium halves in a reactor started a chain reaction that still affects many of us today. It was a moment of powerful synchronicity. I was part of it to be sure, but I was not a prime mover. Marty always reached for the stars and he took us along with him.

I always felt that he was somewhat guarded… the quiet one. Perhaps that’s because I was one of the noisy ones… I don’t know. It’s probably not for me to say. His commitment to his visions never flagged. He was always relentless in the pursuit of his goals. He wrapped those he loved in sheltering arms. He loved his family. Times come and go but his passion for his music and his art was never diminished. He was the most consummate of artists in a most renaissance way. I always felt that he perceived that each day was a blank canvas waiting to be filled.

It was fortuitous that we were able to stay connected in a loose way over the years. He and his friends graced our stage at the Fur Peace Station in Ohio and he was able to join us at the Beacon Theater in NYC the year we celebrated Jack’s 70th birthday.

Very good stuff!

Coming to grips with reality is a process that starts at birth. I am always stunned when one of my friends passes and yet, it would seem that at some point we will all take that journey. It’s almost like, ‘How can this be? There are things I need to say.’ There were indeed things I needed to say and the fault for that lack lies on me and me alone. I don’t think any of us really think that we will live forever yet often that thought lies dormant in the back of our minds. At my age my world is starting to be surrounded by passing. I will miss my friends who rest on the banks of the River Of Time and I am reminded to make the most of every moment as I am swept downstream! Marty’s passing reaffirms the power of love, the power of family, the power of possibilities.

So many of our brothers and sister from that time are gone. Skip Spence, Spencer Dryden, Joey Covington, Papa John Creach, Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and now Marty have all joined the Heavenly Band as Rev. Davis would say.

We were young together. I would like to think we made a difference. As for Grace Slick, Jack Casady and myself…

Now we are three…

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What Jewish Law Says About Crimes Committed In Youth

From The Forward:

Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt
September 28, 2018

On Thursday, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, tried to rape her in 1982. Her testimony, some of which has been public for weeks, sparked a vociferous debate about sexual assault.

Democrats, who opposed Kavanaugh from the get-go, see in the accusation a tarnished name that would impede his ability to serve effectively, while Republicans see the accusation as unsubstantiated and politically motivated. Some have defended Kavanaugh on the grounds that even if true, the accusation describes a mere indiscretion of youth, a misdeed that may be simply a symptom of the impulsive adolescent brain.

But it’s not just our current hyper-polarized political climate that has debated what role the crimes of youth should play in a judicial candidate’s standing. Jewish texts have plenty to say on the topic.

Surprisingly, they fall on the side of Kavanaugh’s opponents — and unrelated to the specifics of sexual assault. For Jewish sages throughout the ages, a tarnished reputation, independent of any criminal prosecution, was enough to disqualify a judge.

Over the centuries, throughout the texts’ discussions of what constitutes a proper leader — Jewish sages are preoccupied with the importance of a “good name.” In the Ethics of our Fathers (4:13), Rabbi Shimon asserts: “There are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of monarchy – but the crown of a good name outweighs them all.”

That is, one can be a brilliant scholar — or one can descend from great and powerful lineage — yet it is all meaningless if one does not have a good reputation. There, 15th-century commentator Ovadiah ben Abraham of Bertinoro notes that if a scholar, a priest or a king have “hateful” reputations, one is permitted to “disgrace” them.

And it’s more than rhetoric. There is actual legal significance in having a “good reputation.” According to Maimonides, a “shem tov,” a “good name,” is a prerequisite for appointing a judge, as my husband (my local Torah scholar) reminded me over Shabbos lunch.

Open the Mishneh Torah, where Maimonides unpacks the biblical descriptions of a judge in great detail. Judges appointed to the Sanhedrin, he writes, must be “mighty in their observance of the mitzvot, who are very demanding of themselves, and who overcome their evil inclination until they possess no unfavorable qualities, no trace of an unpleasant reputation, even during their early manhood, they were spoken of highly.” (Translation by Eliyahu Touger)

Interestingly — the teenage behavior of a judicial candidate is relevant, Maimonides says. It is telling of one’s moral character, no matter how long ago it was.

But perhaps what is more interesting is the fact that Maimonides does not only require a judge to be righteous, or rather, sin-less — something that may be, somewhat, measured.

A good “name, “no trace of an unpleasant reputation,” as elusive as that is, is important for Maimonides. A mere stain on one’s standing, a grave rumor with substantial weight, is enough to disqualify a judicial candidate from being confirmed — probably because a bad repute alone is enough to dangerously devalue a judge in the eyes of the people he serves.

Jewish texts are explicit with the severity which we must apply to electing judges. (Other prerequisites: A judge must be male, “of fine lineage,” have a knowledge of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and idolatry, among other subjects; and cannot be “very old” or “childless.”)

Indeed, more broadly in Jewish thought, leaders are held to a higher standard. Consider the oft-cited Talmudic phrase (Yebamoth 121b): “God is particular with those around Him [i.e. the righteous], with the precision of a hair.” The righteous — and judges ought to identify as such — are assessed ruthlessly, unflinchingly, by Jewish law and by God Himself.

If we are a nation built on Judeo-Christian values — let us not forget the religiously-mandated rigor demanded of a judge’s confirmation.

Regardless of what exactly happened in 1982 in a Maryland home — or in 1983 in a Yale dormitory — a judicial candidate’s already-disgraced reputation matters, for the sake of the standing of the court. Even halacha says so.


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The Republican party is about to face the wrath of women

From The Guardian UK:

Women aren’t just mad – they’re organized and mobilized politically in a way we’ve never quite seen before

Tue 25 Sep 2018

If there’s cause for hope in these horror-show days, it’s this: the Republican party has no idea what’s about to hit it this November.

Even the dimmest and most misogynist of Republican operatives must realize, by this point, that the supreme court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the handling of the sexual assault allegations against him will hurt their chances, especially with women voters, in the upcoming midterm elections.

What they don’t seem to realize, though, is that huge numbers of women aren’t just mad – they’re organized and mobilized politically in a way we’ve never quite seen before. The key story of the midterms is the large number of progressive women – and to a lesser extent, progressive men – who have been taking on the crucial, unglamorous work that swings elections: registering voters, canvassing door-to-door, preparing to get people to the polls. The disdain for women that the Republicans have shown by continuing to rally behind Kavanaugh is only energizing them further.

The anguish and courage reflected in the cascade of #WhyIDidntReport stories is deeply personal, but the fallout is sure to be directly political. Well before the president who has been repeatedly accused of sexual assault nominated a man now repeatedly accused of sexual assault to a lifetime position on the highest court in the land, women were laying the groundwork for a historic political reckoning this fall. Of course there are women, mainly white women, who retain their allegiance to the Republican party; their ranks, though, are very unlikely to expand. By contrast, the rage of millions of women, including overwhelming majorities of women of color, is now laser-focused on the Republican party – and there’s a robust grassroots infrastructure in place to make sure it is expressed at the ballot box this November.

Ever since Donald Trump took the oath of office, the wrath of women has found expression in a remarkable growth of activism and grassroots organizing. When millions of Americans joined the Women’s Marches around the country in January 2017, the outpouring was a harbinger of what was to come: a multi-issue, women-led upsurge of political engagement on an unprecedented scale. Nearly 25,000 protests have taken place since Trump’s inauguration, involving somewhere between 14 and 21 million Americans. These figures greatly exceed levels of protest participation at any prior time in US history, even the height of the Vietnam war. And no matter the issue or focus of the demonstrations, women have consistently been the majority of those taking to the streets.

Protests are only the most visible manifestation of what’s been happening at the grassroots, however. Quietly and persistently, women have also been pursuing a powerful electoral ground game that’s striking in both its scale and its character. During some past eras in American history when demonstrations surged, there was a gulf between protest politics and electoral activism, with those who marched in the streets shunning electoral work as impossibly compromised. That gulf has utterly vanished in the Trump era, with a clear-eyed pragmatism taking its place: “Voting,” one activist friend likes to say, “is a form of harm reduction.”

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