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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