For Trans Jews, ‘A Community Of Our Own’

This is what I am talking about, building communities that are there for all ages and that go beyond “activism” or for that matter support groups.  Loneliness is a major problem along with being disconnected from the social institutions straight folks find sources of support.

From New York Jewish Week:

CBST conference — ‘a holy gathering’ — marks new sense of belonging.

By Shira Hanau
April 16, 2019

When Jillian Weiss first joined Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 1998, she was one of the few transgender members of the LGBTQ synagogue.

Late last month, she was one of over 100 transgender and non-binary Jews filling CBST’s sanctuary on Shabbat as part of the synagogue’s first-ever Trans Jews Are Here Convening.

Weiss was a co-chair of the convening and is a board member at CBST.

“There were really no other out transgender people there,” she said of the synagogue circa 1998. “Now that it’s clear that transgender Jews are here, the vast majority of transgender Jews who are still thinking that they should stay away need to reconsider that because the world is changing.”

Weiss was a co-chair of the convening and is a board member at CBST.

“There were really no other out transgender people there,” she said of the synagogue circa 1998. “Now that it’s clear that transgender Jews are here, the vast majority of transgender Jews who are still thinking that they should stay away need to reconsider that because the world is changing.”

“One of the defining characteristics of being transgender in the United States and at this time is really being alone and being ostracized by communities of all types,” said Weiss. “So creating a community of our own is essential.”

“There’s so many of us who have wanted this for a long time,” said Rafi Daugherty, the convening director, who called the event “magical.”

Between Shabbat services and meals, attendees chose from workshops on topics such as trans rituals, queer readings of midrash and trans Jewish storytelling. The program, most of which was closed to the press due to the sensitive nature so the discussions, included special programming for trans and non-binary children.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Joni Mitchell




Are LGBTQ seniors dying of loneliness? It’s possible, research says

I’ve long noted how the LGBTQ Community is a community of young people.  That there is little or no place for elders.

Part of that was due to how much the post-Stonewall Gay Liberation Movement was focused on sex.

Those LGBT folks in the faith communities sought to build institutions that paralleled straight religious communities.

For a time in the 1970s lesbians seemed to be doing the same.

The Internet is good at creating virtual aka illusionary  communities but isn’t a replacement for face to face contact.

Political activism isn’t the same as a community.  Pride Day comes closer but that is on a mega scale and only one weekend a year.

Some of us who are married find we aren’t that different from straight couples our age with whom we share common interests.

I’m back in contact with my brother and his family.  My cousins too.  My brother lives in a small town and maybe it is easier to have that sort of intimacy in smaller towns, things like community dinners and other events.

I don’t know.  But I do know there are many LGBT elders who live lives of crushing loneliness.

From The Seattle Times:

April 11, 2019

“At least someone knows I’m alive.”

Karen Fredriksen Goldsen read that line on a survey form and knew she was onto something. For the past 10 years, the University of Washington professor of social work and researcher has been conducting the first, national longitudinal study of aging members of the LGBTQ community called Aging with Pride.

Two years ago, survey data showed that older, married LGBTQ adults were happier and healthier than their single peers.

Fredriksen Goldsen’s survey showed that more than one-third of respondents were single and isolating themselves — so much so that their lives might be in danger.

“Social isolation is a public health issue,” said Fredriksen Goldsen, who is also director of the Healthy Generations Hartford Center of Excellence at the UW. Research has shown that social isolation puts people at a greater risk of heart disease, dementia and memory loss, and premature mortality. She compared it to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Last month, Fredriksen Goldsen announced plans for an April 25 lecture at the Frye Museum Auditorium called “Linking Lives: Disrupting the Cycle of Social Isolation.” It sold out in a day, which she takes to mean that loneliness isn’t just an LGBTQ problem.

“What we learn from this population is similar to all other adults,” Fredriksen Goldsen said. “And I’m glad people are interested because learning about these things can be the first step to making change.”

The problem of social isolation is intensified for marginalized populations like the LGBTQ community, whose older members have experienced social exclusion in less tolerant times and places; couldn’t get married until several years ago; may have been discouraged from parenting, and couldn’t always speak freely about their relationships.

Life has prepared them to keep to themselves.

All seniors are at risk for isolation and loneliness, but it is worse for LGBTQ people, especially as they age. Perhaps they have to move to a retirement or assisted-living community, Fredriksen Goldsen said. Rather than expose who they are, some slip back into the closet and close the door behind them.

This may make them self-reliant, she said. “But that also makes you vulnerable. It’s a barrier to asking for help.”

For the past decade, Fredriksen Goldsen has surveyed 2,450 LGBTQ people between the ages of 50 and 102 on an every-other-year basis.

“They want to share their life experience in order to improve aging and lifestyle in this community,” she said.

That’s how she discovered that older, married LGBTQ adults experience better physical and mental health, more social support and greater financial resources than those who were single. Her findings made international news.

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Dr. Richard Green, 82, Dies; Challenged Psychiatry’s View of Homosexuality

And Then There Were None…

Dr. Harry Benjamin, Dr. John Money, Dr. Robert Stoller, and Dr. Richard Green.  All seem to have fallen form grace in the 21st Century, Post-Modern World of Gender, Trans and Cis alike…

But fifty years ago there was a time when we called ourselves Transsexual.  Stonewall was yet a couple of months away, I was starting to blossom from the hormones I had started taking about a month and a half prior.

I was living in a commune, on Grayson St. west of San Pablo Ave.  A bunch of us took over a block of land just east of Telegraph Avenue in those final weeks of April 1969 and transformed it into People’s Park.  In May UC Berkeley sent in the police to take the land back, starting off the uprising that was an important milestone for me.  By the time it was over in mid-June I was full time.

Telegraph Avenue was filled with bookstores in those days, both new and used.

I had found the paperback edition of Dr. Benjamin’s book at Cody’s in late 1968.  Christine Jorgensen’s book too…  The information one needed to find one’s path as a transsexual person was there.  It was just a little difficult to find and while the books were in the card catalogs of libraries they always seemed to be lost.

Dr. Benjamin was still seeing patients in 1969 and up until about 1973.  I saw him in his office on Sutter Street in SF.

I think Stoller’s “Sex and Gender” was the second book I found.

I paid what seemed like a small fortune at the time for Dr. Green and Dr. Money’s book “Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment”.

Doctor’s actually debated whether or not we should have access to these books as we might use them to game the screening process.

While we see their flaws now it is rather important to remember that all four of these Doctors were advocates for people born transsexual.  (Or in modern language transgender)

They opened the doors of the University Medical Centers, engaged in studies that brought us legitimacy.  And like Marc Anthony’s soliloquy in  Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.

They deserve to be remembered for both the good and the evil.  Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment came years before The Sissy Boy Syndrome.  One did a world of good, the other was unethical and did a world of harm.

A half century ago their words helped me and others to find our inner truths and helped us create the world transfolks know today.

We created that world simply by living our lives.  Over 20 years ago Jacob Hale said to me: “Trans-lives were lived, therefore Trans-lives were livable.”

From The New York Times:

By Benedict Carey
April 17, 2019

Dr. Richard Green, one of the earliest and most vocal critics of psychiatry’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder, died on April 6 at his home in London. He was 82.

The cause was esophageal cancer, his son, Adam Hines-Green, said.

Dr. Green, who was also a forceful advocate for gay and transgender rights in a series of landmark discrimination trials, became aware of the marginalization of people because of their sexual and gender identities while training to be a doctor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a leader in the study of sexuality.

In 1972, shortly after completing his specialty in psychiatry, he defied the advice of colleagues and wrote a paper in The International Journal of Psychiatry questioning “the premise that homosexuality is a disease or a homosexual is inferior.”

At the time, three years after the protests against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York, a turning point in the gay rights movement, psychiatry’s diagnostic manual classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and publicly arguing otherwise came with professional risks.

“Those were times when, if you spoke up in support of homosexuals, people immediately thought that you were secretly homosexual yourself, or had unresolved sexual issues,” Dr. Jack Drescher, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia, said in an interview. “Richard was very much heterosexual, and it took a lot of courage to argue for gay people.”

That paper and others set off a long dispute in the profession, much of it bitter and sarcastic. In one published debate, in The American Journal of Psychiatry, prominent figures on both sides took barbed shots at one another. The gay-rights advocate Ron Gold titled his commentary “Stop It, You’re Making Me Sick!” Dr. Green asked if heterosexuality should also be labeled a mental disorder.

“Styles of heterosexual conduct do indeed form much of what is dealt with by psychiatrists,” he wrote. He added that “instability in maintaining a love relationship and neurotic uses of sexuality — in which sexuality is used to control others — as a substitute for other feelings of self-worth, or as a defense against anxiety and depression,” account for a large number of cases.

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association sided with Dr. Green and other influential figures, including Dr. Judd Marmor and Dr. Robert Spitzer, and decided to drop homosexuality from its diagnostic manual.

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Steve Goodman

Bernard-Henri Lévy’s latest book examines ‘America’s Abdication and the Fate of the World

From The Jewish News Syndicate:

In America, you have the most stupid and dangerous right you’ve ever had. And you have the growing left—the worst and most stupid and most virulent left we’ve had. For example, the extent of the BDS campaign in America, you can see the stupid left in front of the stupid right.

By Jackson Richman
March 28, 2019

From fighting for human rights to advocating for the Kurds and their desire for a homeland, Bernard-Henri Lévy, 70, has sounded the alarm on contemporary issues and issued warnings about the decline on the left to uphold liberal values.

A French public intellectual, media personality and author, he was one of the leaders of the Nouveaux Philosophes (“New Philosophers”) movement in 1976.

Q: You said recently, “There is no correlation between education and wisdom. You can teach remembrance of the Holocaust all you want, but that’s not going to protect us against the return of the Beast.” Does that imply that George Santayana was wrong when he said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it?”

A: Of course, it is important to teach, but it is not enough. Those populists, those neo-fascists, those anti-Semites who raise their head again, they are beyond knowledge and truth. They cannot be taught. They will not change their minds. They say that the truth has been made up; that the truth has been doctored. They live in a parallel world full of conspiracy theories. And the more we say the truth, the more they say that it is fake. We live in a strange world where the very idea of the truth is threatened and under attack. That’s why I say that it is not enough to say the truth.

People who engage themselves in this new populist trend are driven by something else. They don’t seek the truth. They’re searching for something else. There is a terrible, frightening pleasure in hating, in going to crazy and simple identity politics. [British Labour Party] Jeremy Corbyn knows well what he says about the Jews and Israel is bulls***, but he does not care. He cares about inflaming the spirits of his supporters by spreading fake information about the Jews and Israel. This is the real deficit. This is what I say in my book.

Q: If Brexit were to fail, could we see Jeremy Corbyn elected prime minister?

A: Jeremy Corbyn can become prime minister. And Jeremy Corbyn is becoming the leader of the left all over the world. There is the Jeremy Corbyn-ization of the left everywhere, including in America.

Q: Is the bigger threat in Europe and America the Corbyn-ization of the left or the populism of the right?

A: In America, you have the most stupid and dangerous right you’ve ever had. And you have also on the other side, the growing left, which is Jeremy Corbyn-ized, and which is the worst and the most stupid and the most virulent left we’ve had. For example, the extent of the BDS campaign that you have in America, you can see the stupid left in front of the stupid right. In America, the true liberals have to face these two dungeons.

This is one of the last conversations I had with [the late Arizona Sen.] John McCain a few months before he died. He told me, “Beware. Be careful. You will have to confront and you will have to fight against the worst right and the worst left. And they will feed each other.”

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Brunei introduces death by stoning as punishment for gay sex

From The Guardian UK:

People in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom face draconian penal code based on sharia law

Thu 28 Mar 2019

Brunei is to begin imposing death by stoning as a punishment for gay sex and adultery from next week, as part of the country’s highly criticised implementation of sharia law.

From 3 April, people in the tiny south-east Asian kingdom will be subjected to a draconian new penal code, which also includes the amputation of a hand and a foot for the crime of theft. To be convicted, the crimes must be “witnessed by a group of Muslims”.

Brunei, which has adopted a more conservative form of Islam in recent years, first announced in 2013 its intention to introduce sharia law, the Islamic legal system that imposes strict corporal punishments.

It was a directive of the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, who is one of the world’s richest leaders with a personal wealth of about $20bn (£15bn) and has held the throne since 1967. He described the implementation of the new penal code as “a great achievement”.

Alcohol is already banned in Brunei, as are showy Christmas celebrations, and there are fines and jail sentences for having children out of wedlock and failing to pray on a Friday. However, a heavy international backlash against Brunei imposing some of the more brutal sharia punishments has slowed their full implementation over the past five years.

In 2014, Brunei’s promises to implement sharia law prompted protests in Los Angeles, outside the famed Beverley Hills hotel and Hotel Bel Air, both of which were owned by the oil-rich nation. The hotels were accused of the “height of hypocrisy” for offering packages to LGBT couples, while being bankrolled by a country that has condemned homosexuals to death.

Brunei was a British colony until 1984 and the two countries still enjoy strong ties. Homosexuality has been illegal in Brunei since British colonial rule but under the new laws it is now punishable by whipping or death by stoning rather than a prison sentence. Capital punishment will also apply to adultery and rape.

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See Also:

New York Times: Brunei to Punish Adultery and Gay Sex With Death by Stoning

Reuters: Brunei defends tough new Islamic laws against growing backlash

The Dallas Voice: Perez Hilton outs Sultan of Brunei’s son

LGBTQ News: Omar Sharif Jr. challenges Sultan of Brunei to execute his son if gays should be stoned to death