It Was 50 Years Ago Tonight, at a House in Berkeley

1968 was a hard year for me.  A year made survivable by the people of a loose knit hippie cadre, which I was part of.
Some were deserters from the military, others were hippie men and women.  Generally politically left or at least anti–war.

One was a handsome hippie boy from Montreal named Maurie Bowman.  I had met him in the Haight during December of 1967.

I adored him.  Others could see how much I was in love with him, including another friend who might have been more appreciative of my adoration.

As I said this group of friends helped me make it through 1968, but by the closing days of the year I was in deep depression.

I had left home in order to come out, but I was afraid that if I came out to these people they would disown me in disgust, the way my parents had disowned me.

I had taken a number of LSD trips during the year leading up to this night, including some really intense ones that had allowed me to go very deep into myself.

We all hit that wall one way or another.  The point where if you don’t come out and live your life honestly  you will explode.

For me it was a matter of overcoming my fear of telling them what I needed to do or going and jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

That evening I wound up taking some bad acid and freaking out.  I broke down in front of Maurie and the rest of my friends.

They talked me down and asked what was wrong.

I told them that I had to do something, that I couldn’t go on living with out doing it, but that I was afraid I would lose their friendship if I did.

Maurie told me that if they no longer wanted to be my friends then they were never really my friends to begin with.

Later, I learned they assumed I was going to come out as Gay.

Over the next few weeks I let them see me dressed as a woman.

I got on welfare.  Through the Berkeley Welfare Department I was able to connect with other Social Services.  By the end of February I had come out as transsexual.

Before the end of March I was on hormones and having a harder and harder time passing as a boy.

In May, Berkeley erupted in the People’s Park Riots. I took part in those events in spite of the risks.

By mid-June I could no longer pass as a boy and had gone full time.

Several members of the commune including Maurie left in mid-summer to go to Woodstock.  The others were deserters looking to use the massive crowds of people crossing the border for Woodstock to slip into Canada through the loosely controlled northern New York border.

The Grateful Dead sing, “What a long Strange Trip it’s been…”

A Long Strange Trip, Indeed.

I would be lying if I said I had any idea what so ever where my coming out would take me or how I would manage to live my truth.

In the 1950s and even into the 1960s I was the only person like me that I knew.

Fifty years ago there were a handful of us.  Very few sisters I knew then are still alive.

But whether or not we were activists we changed the world for other trans-folks just by living our truth.

Jacob Hale once said to me, “Trans lives were lived, therefore trans-lives were livable.

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Friday Night Fun And Culture: Alison Krauss & Union Station

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Not In Our Name: A Statement on Trans Inclusion From Lesbian Editors and Publishers

From Autostraddle:

December 18, 2018

Autostraddle is proud to add our name to the list of publishers who stand in solidarity with this statement on the importance of trans inclusion in our communities. We were invited to participate in this declaration by the editor and publisher of UK’s DIVA Magazine and I participated in consulting on the letter’s content.

As I recently discussed on twitter, Autostraddle isn’t perfect, but we have been and remain committed to trans inclusion, highlighting trans voices and listening to ways we can do better. (P.S. Please pitch us! We are especially interested in pitches from LBQ trans women, particularly trans women of color!) Trans women are women, and trans people have been at the forefront of so many LGBQ activist movements over the years. Advocating for rights, freedoms and representation for trans women does not take away from the work we are committed to for all lesbian, bisexual and queer women — many of whom are also trans.

Following further vitriolic attacks on trans people in our media, the world’s leading publications for lesbians are coming together to send an unapologetic message of support and solidarity to the trans community.

DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word believe that trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community. We do not think supporting trans women erases our lesbian identities; rather we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues and siblings.

We strongly condemn writers and editors who seek to foster division and hate within the LGBTQI community with trans misogynistic content, and who believe “lesbian” is an identity for them alone to define. We condemn male-owned media companies who profit from the traffic generated by these controversies.

We also strongly condemn the current narrative peddled by some feminists, painting trans people as bullies and aggressors – one which reinforces transphobia and which must be challenged so that feminism can move forward.

We are really concerned about the message these so-called lesbian publications are sending to trans women and to young lesbians – including trans lesbians – and we want to make in clear this is not in our name.

As the leading publications for queer women, we believe it is our responsibility to call out scaremongering conspiracy theories levelled at the trans community, and make it clear that DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word will always be safe spaces for the trans community.

Forty years ago, to be a lesbian was to be questioned and persecuted. Today things are better for cis lesbians but there are still places where to be a lesbian is difficult or impossible.

So it is for trans men and women, as well as non-binary people, many of whom identify as lesbian, bisexual, gay or queer. We know something of these struggles. And just as they and other allies have supported us, so we must support those among us who are trans, or risk ending up on the wrong side of history.

The sooner we stop focussing on what divides us and instead focus on our commonalities, the stronger we will be to confront the other injustices imposed on us.

We won’t be divided.


Carrie Lyell
Editor, DIVA magazine

Linda Riley
Publisher, DIVA magazine

Riese Bernard
CEO and Editor-in-chief, Autostraddle

Merryn Johns,
Editor, Curve

Silke Bader
Publisher, Curve and LOTL

Eboné F. Bell
Editor-in-chief, Tagg Magazine

Florence Gagnon
Founder and publisher, Lez Spread The Word

Anita Dolce Vita
Owner & Editor-in-Chief, DapperQ

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NOW’s Support For The Principles Of The Women’s March Is Unwavering, But Clarification On Leadership Is Essential

Press Release from NOW:

Statement by NOW President Toni Van Pelt

WASHINGTON – The National Organization for Women (NOW) was proud to be a sponsor of the historic Women’s March that took place following Donald Trump’s inauguration, and of the subsequent March last year.

NOW has a long history of support for grassroots actions and street protest. NOW brought 750,000 abortion rights supporters to Washington in 1992 for the first March for Women’s Lives, and we worked with other partners to organize an even larger protest in 2004 when a record 1.5 million people gathered for what was then the largest protest in U.S. history.

The Women’s March was created to be a beacon of inclusion amid an administration intent on division. NOW will continue to support the Women’s March Unity Principles, and we will participate and organize members to attend the March. However, we will withhold direct financial support until the current questions regarding leadership are resolved.

NOW Press , , 202-628-8669

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Women’s March Roiled by Accusations of Anti-Semitism

From The New York Times:

By Farah Stockman
Dec. 23, 2018

Within days of Donald J. Trump’s election, a diverse group of women united by their concern about the incoming administration gathered at a restaurant in New York to plan a protest march in Washington. They had seen the idea floating on Facebook and wanted to turn it into a reality.

The unity did not last long. Vanessa Wruble, a Brooklyn-based activist, said she told the group that her Jewish heritage inspired her to try to help repair the world. But she said the conversation took a turn when Tamika Mallory, a black gun control activist, and Carmen Perez, a Latina criminal justice reform activist, replied that Jews needed to confront their own role in racism.

The women who gathered that night would go on to organize one of the biggest protests in American history, remarkable not just for its size, but for its inclusive nature. The event on Jan. 21, 2017, inspired thousands of women who had never been involved in politics before to pour their energy into helping Democrats win elections this fall.

But the divisions apparent at that very first meeting continue to haunt the Women’s March organization, as charges of anti-Semitism are now roiling the movement and overshadowing plans for more marches next month.

Ms. Wruble was pushed out of the organization shortly after the march, and she now asserts that her Jewish identity played a role. She went on to help found an organization called March On, which supports local women activists.

The rift is now so dire that there will be two marches on the same day next month on the streets of New York: one led by the Women’s March group, which is billed as being led by women of color, and another by a group affiliated with March On that is stressing its denunciation of anti-Semitism.

Ms. Mallory, meanwhile, who is now co-president of the Women’s March group, has been criticized for attending an event by Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam who has been widely reviled for making anti-Semitic remarks. Ms. Mallory has called Mr. Farrakhan “the GOAT,” or “greatest of all time,” on social media.

The accusations of anti-Semitism, which were outlined in an article this month in Tablet, an online Jewish magazine, have prompted some women to reconsider their support for the group.

Some Jewish women have announced on social media that they will not attend the mass protest in Washington on Jan. 19 being organized by the Women’s March group. Last month, Teresa Shook, a white woman from Hawaii who created the first Facebook page proposing a march, called for the group’s leaders, who include Ms. Mallory and Ms. Perez, to step down.

Continue reading at:

See also:

The Times of Israel: Anti-Semitism allegations are splitting the Women’s March

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Maryland School District Sued for Years of Abuse Against Transgender Teacher

From Into More:

Kate Sosin
21 Dec 2018

A Maryland school district abused one of its transgender teachers until she checked into a psychiatric program and ultimately resigned, according to a federal lawsuit filed by her attorneys and Lambda Legal.

Jennifer Eller is suing Prince George’s County Public Schools for allowing students to call her pedophile, refusing to update her email address to reflect her name for three years, and deadnaming her in the school’s directory.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, describes seven years of alleged misgendering from students, teachers, administrators, and parents in the district across three different schools where Eller worked from 2008 to 2011, when she resigned.

“I woke up each day afraid to go to work because I didn’t know where the next attack would come from, but I already knew full well that the school administrators would do nothing to support me,” Eller said in a statement released by Lambda Legal. “My pleas for help, for sensitivity training on LGBTQ issues for students and staff, fell on deaf ears. Finally, the harassment and the humiliation became unbearable and I had no other alternative than to resign.”

Prince George’s County Public Schools did not respond to a phone call from INTO seeking comment.

The complaint alleges that when Eller informed Kenmoor Middle School she would be transitioning in 2011, she became a target of repeated harassment.

“Students called her a pedophile, and the human resources representative, enlisted to help her through the transition, demanded that she present as male and told her that a note from her therapist regarding her transition was ‘garbage,’” her complaint states.

It goes on to say she was not allowed to wear a dress. When she transferred to Friendly High School, the abuse only escalated. Students threatened to rape her and Principal Raynah Adams repeatedly ignored her reports of abuse from students, staff, and parents, she alleges. Students refused to cooperate with her in class, referred to her as “a man,” and said an earthquake was God’s punishment on the school for hiring her, referring to her as an anti-transgender slur.

In 2015, the school allegedly cut its own training on transgender sensitivity and never rescheduled the lesson.

In 2016, Eller transferred to James Madison Middle School where she allegedly continued to face discrimination until she sought outpatient psychiatric services at a local hospital. She resigned in August 2017.

The lawsuit hinges on the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, the Civil Rights Act, and the Maryland Fair Employment Practices Act.

Eller is seeking unspecified damages and back pay from the district. She currently works as a youth counselor for the United States Navy’s Child & Youth Programs.

In a statement, Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said Eller was forced to leave her job because administrators refused to take abuse against her seriously.

“The school district’s actions contravene everything our schools should foster: an inclusive and welcoming educational environment for all students and teachers,” Gonzalez-Pagan said. “We look forward to vindicating Ms. Eller’s rights.”

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Why Women’s March co-founders were drawn to Farrakhan’s lies

From The Hill:

By Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman, opinion contributors

On Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, one day after Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony, well over 1 million Americans participated in an anti-Trump protest labeled the “Women’s March on Washington.” Jewish participation in the protest was significant and vocal. Now, nearly two years later, a blockbuster piece in Tablet magazine confirms those American Jews marched at an event whose top-tier organizers were enamored with the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan, the octogenarian godfather of current-day anti-Semitism.

No one should be shocked by these latest revelations about the flirtations with Farrakhan by the youngish, multiracial co-founders of the March.

Just take the reaction — or non-reaction — of mainstream media to two 2018 statements by Farrakhan, who recently sat at within handshake distance of former President Clinton at Motown diva Aretha Franklin’s Detroit funeral:

  • On the 23rd anniversary of his 1995 Million Man March on Washington, Farrakhan, who lost his Twitter verification for denouncing “Satanic Jews who have infected the whole world with poison and deceit,” said in a new tweet: “White people don’t like Farrakhan. I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m anti-Termite.” Animalization of human beings was a favorite pastime of Nazi Germany in anti-Jewish, pre-genocidal propaganda of the 1930s.
  • Then in Tehran, Farrakhan, according to Iran’s semi-official state news agency Mehr, chanted “Death to America” while viewing a parade, claiming earlier, during a meeting with the secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezaei, that “America has never been a democracy.” Farrakhan linked arms with anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-U.S. Iran against the backdrop of increased U.S. sanctions against Tehran because “America is conspiring against Iran.” No word whether Farrakhan has used his alliance with the mullahocracy to free Christians arrested in Iran in advance of Christmas.

Imagine the reaction of mainstream media if the prominent American visitor in Tehran had been a right-wing evangelical fundamentalist or a Republican fringe politician on a world tour, denouncing the Jewish nation and America as global co-conspirators against goodness and light. But Farrakhan’s latest outrages generated nary a yawn from the media — not because he’s seen as an aging crackpot, but because of his phoenix-like re-emergence as an icon of the new “intersectional” progressive politics. The ugly, malignant hate that rendered the likes of David Duke radioactive to the mainstream hasn’t cost Farrakhan anything.

To the contrary, it was Farrakhan’s classic anti-Semitism that attracted March leadership in the first place.

The Tablet article refers to multiple sources who said, during a formative meeting of Women’s March organizers in late 2016, eventual co-chairs Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez embraced the absurd thesis put forth in a notorious anti-Semitic screed by the Nation of Islam’s anonymous historical research department, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews (1991).” The book purported to prove that Jewish merchants “dominated” the slave trade between Africa and the Americas. Later, Farrakhan’s followers added the pernicious wrinkle that “Jewish rabbis invented racism.”

Notwithstanding their denials, it makes sense that Mallory and Perez would be drawn to such nonsense. It mirrors their divisive, conspiratorial-driven identity politics, which alleges that “Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people.” Hence, no Jewish women on the Women’s March executive board. Hence, the hiring of Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam to serve as security for the Washington March.

But why blame these progressive young women for embracing Farrakhan and aligning with him politically? After all, many older progressive, mostly Democratic, politicians have rigorously maintained a code of silence in face of decades of Farrakhan’s hate.

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Falling total fertility rate should be welcomed, population expert says

From The Guardian UK:

Figures showing declining birth rates are ‘cause for celebration’, not alarm

Wed 26 Dec 2018

Declining fertility rates around the world should be cause for celebration, not alarm, a leading expert has said, warning that the focus on boosting populations was outdated and potentially bad for women.

Recent figures revealed that, globally, women now have on average 2.4 children in their lifetime a measure known as total fertility rate (TFR). But while in some countries that figure is far higher – in Niger it is more than seven – in almost half of countries, including the UK, Russia and Japan, it has fallen to below two.

Such declines have been met with alarm, with some warning that the “baby bust” puts countries at risk of a depopulation disaster.

But Sarah Harper, former director of the Royal Institution and an expert on population change, working at the University of Oxford, said that far from igniting alarm and panic falling total fertility rates were to be embraced, and countries should not worry if their population is not growing.

Harper pointed out that artificial intelligence, migration, and a healthier old age, meant countries no longer needed booming populations to hold their own. “This idea that you need lots and lots of people to defend your country and to grow your country economically, that is really old thinking,” she said.

Having fewer children is also undoubtedly positive from an environmental point of view; recent research has found that having one fewer child reduces a parent’s carbon footprint by 58 tonnes of CO2 a year.

Capping our consumption, said Harper, was crucial, not least because countries in Africa and Asia, where the fastest population rises were occurring, would need a bigger share of resources if global inequality were to be curbed.

“What we should be saying is no, [a declining total fertility rate] is actually really good because we were terrified 25 years ago that maximum world population was going to be 24bn,” said Harper, who has three children herself. She said estimates now predicted the population would reach somewhere between 10bn and 12bn by the end of the century.

Declines in total fertility rate have been seen time and again after national economies develop, public health improves, and infant mortality falls, and women find themselves raising larger families. “This is a natural process,” said Harper, adding that drivers for such declines included huge strides in family planning and women’s education – with girls staying at school and entering the workforce – allowing women to delay childbearing and choose how many children to have – if any.

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When Anti-Zionism Tunnels Under Your House

From The New York Times:

For the people of northern Israel, anti-Zionism isn’t some feckless sally in the world of ideas.

By Bret Stephens
Dec. 13, 2018

In 2002, Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, was said to have given a speech noting that the creation of the state of Israel had spared his followers the trouble of hunting down Jews at “the ends of the world.” The Lebanese terrorist group has prominent apologists in the West, and some of them rushed to claim that Nasrallah had uttered no such thing.

Except he had. Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tracked down the original recording of the speech, in which Nasrallah carries on about “occupied Palestine” as the place appointed by Allah for the “final and decisive battle” with the Jews. By “occupied Palestine,” he wasn’t talking about the West Bank.

Sometimes anti-Zionists are — surprise! — homicidal anti-Semites, too.

That’s a thought that can’t be far from the mind of anyone living in northern Israel, where in recent days the Israeli Army has discovered at least three tunnels dug by Hezbollah and intended to infiltrate commandos under the border in the (increasingly likely) event of war. Given the breadth of Hezbollah’s capabilities, the depth of its fanaticism, and the experience of Hamas’s excavation projects in Gaza, it’s fair to assume other tunnels will be found.

What would Hezbollah do if it got its fighters across? In 1974, three Palestinian terrorists crossed the border from Lebanon and took 115 hostages at an elementary school in the town of Ma’alot. They murdered 25 of them, including 22 children.

Another infiltration from Lebanon in 1978 left 38 Israelis dead. Given Hezbollah’s long record of perpetrating massacres from Buenos Aires to Beirut to towns and cities across Syria, it’s a playbook it wouldn’t scruple to follow in a war for the Galilee.

All this is to say that Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way than, say, readers of The New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. It’s somewhat like the difference between discussing the effects of Marxism-Leninism in an undergraduate seminar at Reed College, circa 2018 — and experiencing them at closer range in West Berlin, circa 1961.

Actually, it’s worse than that, since the Soviets merely wanted to dominate or conquer their enemies and seize their property, not wipe them off the map and end their lives. Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state — details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it.

Note the distinction: Anti-Zionists are not advocating the reform of a state, as Japan was reformed after 1945. Nor are they calling for the adjustment of a state’s borders, as Canada’s border with the United States was periodically adjusted in the 19th century. They’re not talking about the birth of a separate state, either, as South Sudan was born out of Sudan in 2011. And they’re certainly not championing the partition of a multiethnic state into ethnically homogenous components, as Yugoslavia was partitioned after 1991.

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

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Catholic Bishops spearhead letter encouraging parents to reject their transgender kids

From Think Progress:

Religious leaders dismiss the legitimacy of transgender identities as a “false idea.”

Zack Ford
Dec 18, 2017

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a new open letter, signed by many other religious leaders, rejecting the legitimacy of transgender identities. Titled “Created Male and Female,” the open letter asserts that gender and sex “cannot be separated,” calling it a “false idea” that “goes against reason” and “deeply troubling” notion “that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa.”

The letter attempts to simultaneously show compassion to transgender people while simultaneously condemning them. “A person’s discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth,” the letter states. Trans people deserve “to be heard and treated with respect,” and when they express “concerns” or discuss “wrestling with this challenge,” religious leaders should respond “with compassion, mercy, and honesty” — but not affirmation.

One section of the letter directly encourages parents to reject their transgender children, claiming that they are “harmed” when they are affirmed in their identities:

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can “change” their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of “first, do no harm.” Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it.

Contrary to these claims, studies have found that how parents respond to their children’s gender identities can have drastic consequences for their mental health. When families reject their children for being transgender, it can significantly increase their depression and suicidal thinking. But when families affirm their kids in their gender identities, it’s one of the strongest buffers against those consequences, allowing them to be as happy and healthy as their peers who aren’t transgender. Trans kids are not full of “confusion and self-doubt,” and treating them like they are, as these religious leaders recommend, can be remarkably damaging.

In addition to several USCCB officials, the open letter was also signed by leaders from the Anglican Church in North America, the North American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and others. Among the signers was Andrew Walker of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Earlier this year, Walker published a book called God and the Transgender Debate, which essentially laid out a series of religious arguments for rejecting transgender people. In it, he claimed that trans people are responsible for their own suffering for rejecting God, which the USCCB letter also implies.

According to the letter, it’s the people who condemn transgender identities who are the true victims. The “movement” to respect transgender people is “deeply troubling” and “compels people to either go against reason — that is, to agree with something that is not true — or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation.” In all of the letter’s talk of compassion, it does not reference the discrimination transgender people experience in employment, housing, health care, education, the justice system, and public accommodations.

This latest rejection of transgender people is not inconsistent with prior Catholic teaching. Last year, Pope Francis called it “ideological colonization to teach that students can “choose their gender.”

Though the Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention are the largest denominations in the U.S., there are many religious leaders who advocate on behalf of transgender people, including leaders from both of those denominations.

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A Jazzy Merry Christmas

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Friday Night Fun And Culture: Winter Solstice

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This Is How LGBT Women’s Media Is Fighting Back Against An Anti-Trans Movement

From Buzz Feed:

A group of publications for queer women is speaking out against anti-trans rhetoric in media.

Lauren Strapagiel
December 18, 2018

The editors of many of the world’s top publications for lesbian, bi, and queer women released a letter Tuesday with an “unapologetic message of support and solidarity to the trans community.”

DIVA, Curve, Autostraddle, LOTL, Tagg and Lez Spread The Word believe that trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community,” the letter states. “We do not think supporting trans women erases our lesbian identities; rather we are enriched by trans friends and lovers, parents, children, colleagues and siblings.”

The letter is signed by the editors, publishers, and founders of the listed publications.

It’s a strong message of solidarity from the biggest names in queer women’s media, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. Although the website is not named directly, AfterEllen has recently come under fire for articles and tweets with anti-trans rhetoric.

For 14 years, AfterEllen was a queer-owned-and-operated platform for entertainment and lifestyle news directed at LGBT women. The site is not associated with Ellen DeGeneres. In 2014, it was sold to Evolve Media. According to a note posted by former editor-in-chief Trish Bendix, the staff was given two years to improve AfterEllen’s profitability. In 2016, Bendix and other staffers were ousted by Evolve, and many of the site’s mainstay writers left with them in solidarity.

Evolve then hired Memoree Joelle to lead the site in November 2016. Since then, there’s been a shift in AfterEllen’s tone. Neither Joelle nor Evolve has responded to requests for comment from BuzzFeed News.

It started with small mentions, like articles that perpetuated the anti-trans myth that trans women are trying to force lesbian-identified women to sleep with trans women who haven’t had bottom surgery. That’s a common refrain from a minority of lesbians who do not see trans women as valid or as able to identify as lesbians.

There have also been several articles in this vein on AfterEllen, such as one defending the exclusion of trans women from a women’s music festival, or another that was critical of trans inclusion in lesbian spaces. One recent article, written by Miranda Yardley, who identifies as transsexual, decries what she calls the “anti-lesbian idea which had wedged itself into the heart of transgender ideology.”

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Alice Walker’s Anti-Semitism

Over the weekend, Alice Walker revealed a disturbing side to her political views.

In a New York Times article: Alice Walker: By the Book she was asked “What books are on your nightstand?”

One of those books of which she spoke highly is a rabidly anti-Semitic screed cum conspiracy theory.

“And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” by David Icke. In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious person’s dream come true.

This touched off an immediate negative reaction in the Jewish community, particularly since it is coming on the heels of the Women’s March Inc. leaders admiration of the vicious anti-Semite and notorious anti-LGBT bigot, Louis Farrakhan.

The Tablet was among the first to weigh in:

The New York Times Just Published an Unqualified Recommendation for an Insanely Anti-Semitic Book

The book, recommended by author Alice Walker, repeatedly cites the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ dubs the Talmud ‘among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet,’ and says Jews funded the Holocaust and control the KKK

By Yair Rosenberg
December 17, 2018

Over the weekend, the New York Times Book Review published a full-length interview with Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple. The very first question: “What books are on your nightstand?” Walker replied with four, the second of which was:

“And the Truth Shall Set You Free,” by David Icke. In Icke’s books there is the whole of existence, on this planet and several others, to think about. A curious person’s dream come true.

This passed without comment from the New York Times interviewer, and the publication passed it on to readers without qualification. This is rather remarkable because the book is an unhinged anti-Semitic conspiracy tract written by one of Britain’s most notorious anti-Semites.

A former soccer player turned professional hate peddler, Icke is one of the most influential conspiracy theorists in Europe, and certainly in Britain. Today, he has over 777,000 followers on Facebook, and speaks to audiences around the world. Like many conspiracy theorists, Icke claims that a secret conspiracy controls the world. And like many conspiracy theorists, Icke claims that this secret conspiracy happens to be Jewish. In And the Truth Shall Set You Free, the word “Jewish” appears 241 times, and the name “Rothschild” is mentioned 374 times. These references are not compliments. Indeed, the book was so obviously anti-Semitic that Icke’s publisher refused to publish it, and he had to print it himself.

In the book and elsewhere, Icke draws liberally upon the infamous anti-Semitic pamphlet, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—a Russian forgery about an alleged global Jewish cabal that is widely considered one of the most influential anti-Semitic works in history. Magnanimously, Icke calls the hate tract by a different name. As he writes in the book promoted by Alice Walker:

In the very late 1800s, a controversial document came to light called the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion. I call them the Illuminati Protocols and I quote many extracts from them in The Robots’ Rebellion. Some say they were a forgery made public only to discredit Jews, and I use the term ‘Illuminati Protocols’ to get away from the Jewish emphasis. If they were a forgery, something that is quite possible, what were they a forgery of, and by whom? The authors of the best-selling book, Holy Blood, Holy Grail, conclude that the original Protocols were indeed authentic.

Realizing that this may not convince readers of his good intentions, Icke attempts to head off charges of anti-Semitism by casting himself as a moderate in the reasonable debate over whether a Jewish conspiracy does in fact control the world:

I believe that researchers over the years who have blamed the entire conspiracy on the Jewish people as a whole are seriously misguided; similarly, for Jewish organisations to deny that any Jewish person is working for the New World Order conspiracy is equally naive and allowing dogma or worse to blind them to reality.

So, is Icke anti-Semitic? Well, here are some other things that he says in the book:

 The Talmud is “among the most appallingly racist documents on the planet.”

 B’nai Brith, the world’s oldest Jewish service organization, was behind the slave trade (an anti-Semitic canard popularized by Louis Farrakhan) and controls the Ku Klux Klan: “B’nai B’rith means ‘Sons of the Alliance’ (Ed: Actually, ‘Children of the Covenant’) and was established in 1843. Many of its speakers openly supported slavery during the American Civil War and it covertly supports and controls the Ku Klux Klan.”

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LGBT Seniors Grapple With End-of-Life Issues

From The Bay Area Reporter:

by Matthew S. Bajko
Wednesday Dec 5, 2018

While enjoying her seventh decade on the planet, Donna Personna knows her remaining days are numbered. Yet the prospect of her demise doesn’t scare her.

“The end question. ‘The end.’ It’s not a touchy subject for me. I’m irreverent,” said Personna, a transgender woman who grew up in San Jose and now lives in San Francisco. “I have been on the planet for 72 years. I learned long ago this was going to come.”

Personna, a beloved drag performer, playwright, and hairdresser, credits her Mexican heritage with teaching her that death is a part of life. She pointed to the annual Dia de los Muertos holiday — the Day of the Dead in early November — as one example of how, from an early age, she was taught to embrace one’s mortality rather than fear it.

“I am not worried about it. It doesn’t scare me,” said Personna, who graduated with honors from San Jose State University and, for years, owned her own hair salon in Cupertino, which she sold a while back but continues to cut hair at once a month for longtime clients.

Born into a large Baptist family with 16 siblings, Personna remains close with several of her older brothers and their families in the Bay Area. She is confident she can rely on them in the case of emergencies or if her health deteriorates.

“Some of my nieces said, ‘You can live with us,'” said Personna, who has designated one of them the beneficiary of her estate.

Her Plan B, however, is to move into a pueblo outside Guadalupe, Mexico where her Social Security check and personal savings will be worth more.

“I want to spend the rest of my days in Mexico. I don’t want to die in San Francisco,” said Personna. “I am longing to go there.”

Confronting the end of one’s life isn’t easy for the majority of seniors, whether LGBT or straight. Most have not declared an executor for their estate, let alone discussed with their physician what sort of care they want in their dying days.

“It is rooted in the death phobia that North American culture has,” said Brian de Vries, a gay man and professor emeritus of gerontology at San Francisco State University who is a leading expert on end-of-life issues among LGBT seniors.

There are an estimated 2.7 million Americans who are LGBT and 50 years of age or older. Of that age group, 1.1 million are 65 and older. By 2060 LGBT elders in the U.S. are expected to number more than 5 million.

This generation of LGBT seniors differs from its heterosexual counterpart in significant ways, according to aging experts. Most of the LGBT seniors experienced discrimination not only in their day-to-day lives but also in medical settings due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

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Antisemitism and LGBTQ+ Hate Are Spiking — So We Must Come Together

From Out:

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After Years of Fighting for Trans Kids, Lawyer Mia Yamamoto Came Out Herself

From Broadly: Vice:

Mia Yamamoto was born in a Japanese internment camp and served in the Vietnam War. Then, after she became a leading criminal defense attorney, she came out as transgender.

by Zackary Drucker
Dec 7 2018

Mia Yamamoto, in her own words, was “born doing time.” She started her life in a Japanese internment camp in Arizona in 1946—a circumstance that eventually moved her to dedicate her life to social and economic justice as a poverty lawyer and criminal defender.

Mia identified as trans long before she began presenting as feminine in her 50s. She recalls finding herself while reading about transgender pioneer Christine Jorgensen in the newspaper as a child, but keeping her identity a secret while later serving in the Vietnam war, and eventually, when she began working with homeless trans youth as a lawyer, covertly going out at night to discover bars catering to trans women on Hollywood Boulevard.

Being exposed to the dangers of trans life in the 20th century and enduring the toxic masculinity of the military may have slowed Mia’s personal coming out, but it did not prevent her from supporting trans people in her capacity as a leading criminal defense attorney. For years, holding her transness deep within, she selflessly sacrificed her own authenticity to better serve marginalized individuals navigating the legal system and the prison industrial complex. Her fierce fighting words for the President (“You’re just a punk politician, I’m not afraid of you”), and her deep commitment to dismantling structures of oppression, are a rallying cry—encouraging us to push through fear to discover our courage and potential for resilience.

ZACKARY DRUCKER: Tell me about your personal journey around transness.

MIA YAMAMOTO: I was in the closet in terms of being trans until my actual coming out transition, when I I had already been a lawyer for a while. It’s different for me. I came up, though, around trans people who were kicked out of their homes as teenagers. It’s common, at 12 or 13; the family is outraged at your gender expression, they throw you out of your house, and you have to fend for yourself out there. I was always around folks like that; those were the only people that I could possibly identify with—especially coming up as a poverty lawyer working with oppressed and marginalized communities in many colors and different origins. The trans folks were excluded from almost every minority group. I remember my therapist saying that he had various queer clients, but that trans people were the queerest of the queer.

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How ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ Went From Parlor Act to Problematic

From The New York Times:

By Jacey Fortin
Dec. 13, 2018

Rock Hudson did it with Mae West. Ray Charles did it with Betty Carter. Lady Gaga and Joseph Gordon-Levitt did it with a modern twist.

And somewhere along the line, the 74-year-old song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” became a holiday standard, in heavy radio rotation, playing overhead in department stores, and covered on Christmas albums.

“I’ve got to get home,” the woman sings in the duet. “But baby, it’s cold outside,” the man replies. “The answer is no,” she protests later. By the end they’re singing the chorus together.

Now, a long-simmering debate over the lyrics has reached a boil. The annual holiday culture wars and the reckoning over #MeToo have swirled together into a potent mix. Say — what’s in this drink?

Several radio stations have pulled “Baby” from the air. Arguments have erupted on social media, and multiple panels on Fox News and CNN have latched on to the debate.

William Shatner has emerged as a vocal champion of the song. “You must clutch your pearls over rap music,” he told one critic, urging him to listen to a 1949 classic version on YouTube.

William Shatner has emerged as a vocal champion of the song. “You must clutch your pearls over rap music,” he told one critic, urging him to listen to a 1949 classic version on YouTube.

To some modern ears, the lyrics sound like a prelude to date rape. The woman keeps protesting. “I ought to say no, no, no, sir,” she sings, and he asks to move in closer. “My sister will be suspicious,” she sings. “Gosh, your lips look delicious,” he answers. She wonders aloud what is in her drink.

“I think the song has always been creepy, but we didn’t have the words to explain why,” said Lydia Liza, 24, a singer-songwriter.

But some believe this to be a case of political correctness run amok. “Do we get to a point where human worth, warmth and romance are illegal?” the conservative commentator Tucker Carlson argued on Fox News.

Faced with protests, radio stations are doing their best to walk the line. “I gotta be honest, I didn’t understand why the lyrics were so bad,” Glenn Anderson, a radio host for Star 102 in Cleveland, wrote in a blog post last month after the station pulled the song from rotation. “Until I read them.”

“Baby” is usually sung by a man insisting and a woman resisting, but not always. In “Neptune’s Daughter,” the romantic comedy that brought the song to the silver screen — it won an Academy Award for best song in 1950 — it was performed twice, and the gender roles were reversed the second time for comedic effect.

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Is the Women’s March Melting Down?

From The Tablet:

Millions of women mobilized against gender inequality and the election of Donald Trump in 2016. But only four of them ended up at the top—and the consequences have been enormous.

By Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel
December 10, 2018

On Nov. 12, 2016, a group of seven women held a meeting in New York. They had never worked together before—in fact, most of them had never met—but they were brought together by what felt like the shared vision of an emerging mission.

There were effectively two different cohorts that day. The first one included Breanne Butler, Karen Waltuch, Vanessa Wruble and Mari Lynn Foulger—a fashion designer turned entrepreneur with a sideline in activist politics, who had assumed the nom de guerre Bob Bland. These four were new acquaintances who had connected in the days since Donald Trump’s election, through political networking on social media. Most of them had filtered through the Pantsuit Nation Facebook group, where a woman in Hawaii named Teresa Shook had days before floated the idea of a female-centered march to protest the incoming administration.

Soon after, Wruble—a Washington, D.C., native who founded OkayAfrica, a digital media platform dedicated to new African music, culture, and politics, with The Roots’ Questlove—reached out to a man she knew named Michael Skolnik. The subject of a New York Times profile the previous year as an “influencer” at the nexus of social activism and celebrity, Skolnik held a powerful though not easily defined role in the world of high-profile activist politics. “It’s very rare to have one person who everyone respects in entertainment, or in politics, or among the grass roots,” said Van Jones, in a 2015 New York Times piece. “But to have one person who’s respected by all three? There isn’t anyone but Michael Skolnik.”

When Wruble relayed her concern that the nascent women’s movement had to substantively include women of color, Skolnik told her he had just the women for her to meet: Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory. These were recommendations Skolnik could vouch for personally. In effect, he was connecting Wruble to the leadership committee of his own nonprofit—a group called The Gathering for Justice, where he and Mallory sat on the board of directors, and Perez served as the executive director.

In an email to Tablet, Skolnik confirmed this account of the group’s origins. “A few days after the election, I was contacted by Vanessa Wruble, who I have known for many years, asking for help with The Women’s March and specifically with including women of color in leadership,” he wrote. “I recommended that she speak with Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez, also who I have known for years.”

Linda Sarsour, another colleague from The Gathering for Justice network, was not present for these initial meetings but joined the Women’s March as a co-chair a short time later.

“There were other activists that I reached out to, who didn’t end up getting involved as prominently as those women,” Wruble told Tablet recently, adding that the primary goal for her at that point was clear, and simple: “I was very focused on making sure the voices of marginalized women were included in the leadership of whatever we were about to create.”

In advance of the meeting, Bland suggested they convene in Chelsea Market, an upscale food court in Manhattan. When the day arrived, the women managed to find each other but soon realized that there was nowhere in the hectic, maze-like hall of vendors quiet enough to sit and talk. Eventually, they retreated to the rooftop of a nearby hotel where, less than a week after the idea for a march sprouted, the seven women got acquainted.

According to several sources, it was there—in the first hours of the first meeting for what would become the Women’s March—that something happened that was so shameful to many of those who witnessed it, they chose to bury it like a family secret. Almost two years would pass before anyone present would speak about it.

It was there that, as the women were opening up about their backgrounds and personal investments in creating a resistance movement to Trump, Perez and Mallory allegedly first asserted that Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people—and even, according to a close secondhand source, claimed that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade. These are canards popularized by The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a book published by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam—“the bible of the new anti-Semitism,” according to Henry Louis Gates Jr., who noted in 1992: “Among significant sectors of the black community, this brief has become a credo of a new philosophy of black self-affirmation.”

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Lessons of Maria Butina: Are men too easily flattered by young women to be trusted with power?

From Salon:

Should men be allowed to have power at all? Latest scandals in TrumpWorld suggest they simply can’t be trusted

Amanda Marcotte
December 16, 2018

Overall, the various scandals involving Donald Trump, his associates and Russian agents tend not to bring to mind sexy spy thrillers so much as screwy comedy. One theme, however, would fit just as comfortably in classic film noir as in absurdist comedy: Powerful, aging men brought low by their own pathetic desire to believe comely young women are really into them.

While there’s no telling what special prosecutor Robert Mueller — or any of the other federal investigators pulling various strings in TrumpWorld — might eventually discover, much of what’s coming out right now is a direct consequence of this male peccadillo, nurtured into being by a world that offers undue flattery to powerful and wealthy men so often that they start to buy it.

Trump is personally under suspicion for a large number of crimes, but the one that’s come most clearly into focus in the past month involves his role in paying off women to stay silent about their past sexual encounters with him. His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has pled guilty to his role in this and has publicly insisted that Trump knew exactly what they were doing. Now it appears that David Pecker, CEO of the company behind the National Enquirer — which helped pay off Trump’s alleged mistresses — also seems to be cooperating with authorities.

The most famous of these mistresses is, of course, Stormy Daniels, a porn star who has been waging a very public battle to shake off a non-disclosure agreement and tell her story.

“It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion,” Daniels wrote of her encounter with Trump. Instead, it seems Daniels was hanging around Trump in hopes of getting a TV deal, and acquiesced to the sex because she thought it might help get her what she wanted.

Why the Trump campaign wanted to cover this up at all has always been a bit of a mystery, since Trump has never tried to conceal that he’s a lech. But it appears the cover-up was part of a larger strategy of portraying his marriage to Melania Trump, 24 years his junior, as a love story for the ages, instead of a transactional relationship between a rich celebrity and a failed model.

That effort continues to this day. In an interview with Melania Trump on Fox News Thursday, Sean Hannity asked when she knew Donald was the one. She recited, “We had great chemistry when we met in 1998, we started dating, we dated for a long time before we got married, we got married, we had a son, but we had great chemistry from day one.” So convincing!

Why does it even matter why the Trumps are together, or at least why does it matter so much so that Trump was willing to dish out huge amounts of money to protect this love story narrative? Part of it likely has to do with appealing to the Christian right, which can be a tad touchy about the institution of marriage. But part of it probably also has to do with flattering the sensibilities of the Trump base, the majority of which is made up of older white guys who would themselves like to believe that Melania loves Trump for his dashing good looks and delightful company.

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