Trump mocked by Winston Churchill’s grandson after taking a rain check on WWI ceremony

Obama stood in the rain for these events but not petal flower Snowflake Trump, whose very actions are spitting on those who gave their lives in service to their country and so we enjoy the rights America is supposed to stand for.

From Salon

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate Donald Trump couldn’t even defy the weather”

Matthew Rozsa
November 12, 2018

President Donald Trump was on the receiving end of a Twitter tongue-lashing from the grandson of Sir Winston Churchill — although the tempestuous Tory may not be in the best position to stand in judgment of others.

“They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen ,” Nicholas Soames, a Member of Parliament from the Conservative Party, tweeted on Saturday. He was referring to a controversial decision by the president to skip a ceremony scheduled for Saturday intended to honor American soldiers who died during the First World War. The reason given by the administration was that Trump had decided to avoid the rainstorm that was pummeling the area where the ceremony was being held, although that put the president in a vulnerable position when pictures appeared in media outlets showing other world leaders at the event.

The rain was also the excuse on Monday when the White House announced that the president will not visit Arlington National Cemetary for the observation of Veterans’ Day.

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Transition and Triumph: A Transgender Scientist’s Story

From Undark:

In 1997, a Stanford University neuroscientist wrote a letter to his colleagues. He signed the letter with his birth name, Barbara Barres, but made it clear that from now on he wished to be known as Ben. “Whenever I think about changing my gender role, I am flooded with feelings of relief,” he wrote.

“I hope that despite my trans sexuality you will allow me to continue with the work that, as you all know, I love,” he concluded his letter.

To Barres’ great joy, his fellow scientists responded with unwavering support. What they didn’t know was that he’d been unable to sleep for a week as he mulled whether to transition to male or commit suicide. His new autobiography — published, sadly, after his death last year from pancreatic cancer — testifies to his personal courage on two fronts: first, as a dogged investigator of glia, the brain’s most numerous cells, which many had written off as purposeless; and second, as an advocate for female and gender-nonconforming scientists.

An intense and sagacious child, Ben Barres — born Barbara — decided he wanted to be a scientist before reaching his fifth birthday. He favored microscopes and chemistry sets over dresses and jewelry. By college, it was clear his genius was equal to his dedication. He earned prestigious scholarships that helped fund a biology degree at MIT, then went on to tackle a medical degree at Dartmouth.

The early challenges Barres faced often stemmed from appearing female in a male-dominated field. When he was the only person in an MIT class to solve an artificial intelligence problem, the professor scoffed and insisted his boyfriend must have done the work. As Barres deflected such slights, he began to confront the growing knowledge that he was a man living in a woman’s body — something he felt no one else would understand. “I was too confused to talk with anyone about it or to have any idea what to say,” he writes.

His distress wasn’t enough to derail his career. Pulling 18- to 20-hour workdays in the lab fulfilled him and kept his identity issues at bay. When he set up his first lab at Stanford in 1993, he jumped into a project he’d begun while completing his Harvard neurobiology doctorate: figuring out the function of glial cells.

The traditional belief was that glia were the neural equivalent of “junk DNA”: they took up space in the brain and served no well-defined purpose. But over time, and despite a series of grant rejections, Barres and his collaborators discovered there was much more to the story. Glia not only convey a variety of signals to neurons, they also control the formation of synapses, the crucial junctions between brain cells.

Barres’ description of his research sometimes feels too in-the-weeds for a lay reader; certain sections of text are replete with so many acronyms they need a decoder key. But sprinkled in are some crystalline descriptions of his biggest contributions and why they matter. His lab purified a specific type of glia, A1 astrocytes, and discovered that they secrete a toxin that drives degenerative processes in the brain. Thanks to that finding, they developed an experimental drug that blocks the formation of these glia — a drug with potential to treat conditions like Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Guillain-Barre syndrome, which causes paralysis.

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The early-20th century German trans-rights activist who was decades ahead of his time

From The Conversation:

November 9, 2018

The Trump administration continues its assault on transgender rights.

In July 2017, Trump sought to bar transgender people from serving in the military. Then, this past October, The New York Times obtained a memo indicating that the administration was considering narrowly defining gender “as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” Anyone wishing to challenge their officially-assigned sex would have to have the matter resolved by genetic testing.

Those opposed to recognizing gender identity sometimes call it a form of “radical gender ideology” or “political correctness” gone too far.

But recognition of transgender identity is no recent phenomenon: Some doctors acknowledged gender nonconforming people far earlier than most might realize. Perhaps the most important pioneer was German physician Magnus Hirschfeld, who was born 150 years ago, in 1868. As a historian of gender and sexuality in Germany, I’m struck by how he paved the way for the legal recognition of gender nonconforming people.

Hirschfeld’s ‘sexual intermediaries’

In recent years, the medical and psychological professions have come to a consensus that sex assignment at birth is inadequate for understanding individuals’ sexual and gender identity – and that failure to recognize this fact can have a devastating impact.

Magnus Hirschfeld was the first doctor to openly research and advocate for people whose gender did not correspond with their sex assignment at birth.

He’s often remembered today as an advocate of gay rights, and in the early 20th century, his activism played a major role in nearly overturning Germany’s law criminalizing male same-sex relations.

But Hirschfeld’s vision extended much further than homosexuality. He defined his specialty as “sexual intermediaries,” which included everyone who did not fit into an “ideal type” of heterosexual, cis-gendered men and women.

According to Hirschfeld, sexual intermediaries included many categories. One type was cis-gendered people who were gay, lesbian or bisexual. Another consisted of transvestites: people who comfortably identified as their assigned sex but who preferred to dress in the clothing assigned to the other sex. Yet others were “trans” in a more radical direction, like those who wanted to live fully as their non-assigned sex or longed for sex-change surgery.

A relentless advocate

As a gay man, Hirschfeld was aware of the legal and social dangers sexual intermediaries faced.

Since sexual intermediaries often turned to their doctors for help, Hirschfeld worked to educate the medical community. He published medical journals including the “Yearbook on Sexual Intermediaries” and the “Journal of Sexual Science.” In 1919, he founded the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin to promote further research.

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Donna Zuckerberg: ‘Social media has elevated misogyny to new levels of violence’

From The Guardian UK:

When the academic, sister of Mark Zuckerberg, began exploring online antifeminism, she discovered far-right men’s groups were using classical antiquity to support their views

Nosheen Iqbal
Sun 11 Nov 2018

Donna Zuckerberg didn’t expect to spend two years trawling through the corner of the internet defined as “the manosphere”, unpicking the grim alliance between pick-up artists, men’s rights activists, incels (involuntarily celibate men), the far right and the most ardent Make America Great Again advocates.

“It started as a curiosity,” she says, as we video call from her home in Silicon Valley, which she shares with her husband and two children. “But it took on a life of its own.” A classicist with a PhD from Princeton, Zuckerberg edits the online journal Eidolon, publishing scholarly essays on the Greco-Roman world from academics and students.

In the summer of 2015, she noticed an unprecedented level of traffic towards a piece entitled “Why is stoicism having a cultural moment?” and went down a rabbit hole to determine why. The results stunned her: men – or rather, misogynists – were using an armchair enthusiasm for the classics to justify manifestos of hate against women. The results were spreading online under a pseudo-intellectual guise, twisting ancient world philosophy to buttress a contemporary hatred of feminism. And it wasn’t a one-off.

“So, there are online communities that exist under the umbrella of what we know as the Red Pill, which are men connected by common resentments against women, immigrants, people of colour,” she explains. “What I was surprised to find was the extent to which they are using ancient Greek and Roman figures and texts to prop up an ideal of white masculinity.”

Red Pillers name themselves after a scene in The Matrix, in which Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) offers Neo (Keanu Reeves) the option of taking the red or blue pill and arriving at either gritty, painful truth (red) or blissful ignorance (blue). Jordan Peterson, the Canadian professor and YouTube sermoniser who rails against identity politics and feminism, is revered as one of the high priests of the movement, while incels have gathered much attention this year.

But in the case of stoicism’s sudden revival, Zuckerberg found that an active corner of Reddit was applying Hellenistic philosophy to explain the pain and hardship white western men were suffering in the 21st century. Except these men didn’t consider themselves angry – they considered themselves oppressed.

“The ancient world was deeply misogynistic – it was a time when there was no word for rape, feminism did not exist and women’s actions were determined by male relatives,” says Zuckerberg. But now the classical texts are being “distorted and stripped of context” online to lend gravitas to campaigns of misogyny and white supremacy. Not only is it toxic but, as Zuckerberg calmly outlines in her new book, Not All Dead White Men, it is deeply dangerous.

At 31, Donna is the third of the four Zuckerberg siblings and the only one to shun working in tech: her brother, Mark, is CEO of Facebook, which he co-founded; her older sister, Randi, joined Facebook in 2004 and has since developed her own media career; while her younger sister, Arielle, has worked for Google. The children of a dentist father and psychiatrist mother (who worked most of her career as office manager to her husband’s dental practice), the Zuckerbergs grew up in a village of less than 10,000 people in Westchester County, New York. In a rare family profile interview with New York Magazine in 2012, Donna described their upbringing as “tight-knit” and supportive. Her book, then, may come as a surprise.

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For Centuries, Jewish Tradition Has Recognized Trans People

From The Forward:

Elliot Kukla
October 26, 2018

The idea that there are two and only two sexes is relatively new.

This week, in a memo leaked to the New York Times, the Trump administration stated its goal to institute a federal definition of sex as “unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with.” Furthermore, “any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing.”

Trump would like us to believe that this strictly binary view of sex is natural, scientific, traditional, and universal throughout history.

He is wrong.

Thousands of babies are born with ambiguous genitals every year. Still others have hormonal and chromosomal difference that lead to non-binary sexual development. Gender expression that is different from the sex one is assigned at birth exists in every human civilization, and in many parts of the animal world.

Jewish tradition is well aware of all of this natural variation.

As a transgender rabbi, I am frequently called upon to speak about the diversity in our sacred texts. There are at least six sexes in traditional Jewish sources: the “zakhar” (male) and the “nekevah” (female); the “androgynos” (a person with both male and female sexual characteristics) and the “tumtum” (an individual with ambiguous sex); the “saris” (a eunuch, either born or created); and the “aylonit” (born female, but later develops male traits).

The first time I encountered these figures, I was a 20-year-old queer gender misfit, studying in Orthodox Yeshiva, the last place I expected to find a gender role model.

In the secular world, I was used to being told I don’t exist. I am gender non-conforming, and I don’t pass as male or female. When I go to the DMV, check into the hospital, cross a border, drop my kid off at daycare, or need to pee, I usually need to try to fit into one of two and only two limited options for being a person — male or female — in order to have the basic rights of being a citizen.

In the past few decades, due to the work of countless activists, it has become a little easier to live. But now for the first time, Trump’s proposal would turn into policy the denial of our existence.

Trump would like us to believe this is a return to a mythical universal traditional past, but in fact, it is a denial of Judaism and many other sacred traditions.

In the Babylonian Talmud, we learn the story of a tumtum who becomes a parent of seven children (Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 83b). In the same tractate, the radical claim is made that the first ancestors of the Jewish people — Abraham and Sarah — were actually originally tumtumim. According to this text, they only later transitioned genders to become male and female. (BT Yevamot 64a) According to a midrash, the first human being, Adam, was originally an androgynos. (Midrash Rabbah 8:1).

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