Becoming Eve: Abby Stein’s Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman

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Transgender Texans Deserve a Seat at the Table

From The Rivard Report:

November 20, 2019

In 2019, we have lost at least 22 trans sisters across this country to violence and hate. These women have been gunned down, strangled, beaten, and murdered simply for living their truths. I think about their families and friends and what they had to endure after losing their loved ones so horrifically. I think about my own family and friends and their concern for my safety. I know they fear that one day I’ll be next, that one day they will be mourning my death.

As terrifying as that thought is, their fears are warranted. Texas leads the nation in transgender murders, with more transgender people killed in Texas in the last five years than in any other state. On this Transgender Day of Remembrance, I want us to remember those who have lost their lives in Texas this year. Muhlaysia Booker, Chynal Lindsey, Tracy Single, and Itali Marlowe were beautiful souls who left us too soon.

Without state laws protecting transgender rights, there’s no telling how many more in our community we will lose. That’s why I’ve dedicated the past 24 years of my life to working in Texas politics. I’ve worked on over 50 campaigns and ballot initiatives in local, state, and national elections. My work has included fighting to pass the Non-Discrimination Ordinance in San Antonio and marching, protesting, and speaking with elected officials to fight the passage of House Bill 2, known as the bathroom bill. I continue to use my voice at every opportunity to ensure that trans Texans are not discriminated against.

After so many years fighting this fight, I started to think about the phrase “a seat at the table” and realized that I had been wrong about its meaning. I realized that the trans community was longing for more than just a seat at the political table. What we really want is a seat at the table of life – to feel loved, appreciated and respected for our contributions, skills, and achievements. We want to dream and set goals for the future in a safe and productive environment without discrimination.

The question then becomes, when will people stop fearing what they don’t understand and ask questions to advance a dialogue? I, personally, never felt the need to be accepted for living my truth. I never asked for anyone to accept me, as I had already accepted myself. I do, however, ask for respect – the respect that each and every one of us deserves.

As I look at the 2020 election, and all that is at stake, I can’t help but feel compelled to do more. Our community has suffered enough at the hands of extremists who feel the need to silence our voices and our truths, and I will not sit idly by and watch this happen. Loving the skin that I’m in, I will challenge the status quo. I will continue to fight for a seat at the table. If I find that all the seats are full, I will just bring my own chair.

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The American Jewish Community Is Lurching Leftward

From The Forward:

Samuel J. Abrams
November 4, 2019

Another Election Day is upon us, which means that countless American Jews are heading to voting booths across the country — to vote for Democrats. It’s certainly not news that Jews are a politically liberal group with deep concerns about social justice. Hundreds of books, columns, polls, and surveys have firmly established that American Jews have long been an ideologically left of center group on the American scene, not to mention politically active supporters of Democrats.

What is newsworthy, though, is that the Trump Presidency, during which the American embassy was moved to Jerusalem, has coincided with American Jews drifting leftward — indeed, the furthest left they have positioned themselves in recent history.

The American Jewish Committee has been regularly measuring the ideological leanings of the American Jewish community since 1997. The data shows that liberal identifiers — those who lean to the left all the way to avowed liberals — have always been the plurality over the past two decades. 45% of the Jewish community identifies as being “left” on average, 32% identify as moderate, and the remaining 23% identify as conservative to some degree.

While the data shows American Jews are left of center in general, it is important to remember that for the bulk of the past two decades, only a plurality — and not a majority — of American Jews have historically identified as liberal.

By 2019, however, a majority of American Jews identified as liberal, and the general ideological trend has moved dramatically.

Looking at the past two decades, the proportion of conservative Jews has moved a few points up and down in the mid-20 percentile range but essentially remained stable for the past 22 years. Moderates and liberals were also fairly stable with moderates hovering around the low 30% range and liberals around the mid 40% range from 1997 through 2015.

By 2016, the trends abruptly changed. The percentage of moderates dropped 12 points and the figure has remained in the low 20s since. Concurrently, the percentage of liberals shot up sharply and has remained significantly higher such that in 2015, 45% of American Jews identified as being on the left and by 2019, that figure was 56% — an 11 point increase.

The only other time a majority of Jews identified as so overwhelmingly liberal was briefly in 2008 when President Barack Obama was running for President — but that was only a blip.

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Today, a majority of Jews are consistently identifying as liberal. They have done so since 2016 and they have moved from the moderate camp into the liberal camp.

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UCLA study tried to change children’s gender identity starting in the 1960s, say two educators

From The Orange County Register:

November 18, 2019

Karl Bryant had no idea he was the main character in someone else’s book. He discovered his biography in the late 1980s while poking around a San Francisco bookstore.

Jarringly, the tome was titled, “The ‘Sissy Boy Syndrome’ and the Development of Homosexuality.” But it was the author’s name that caught Bryant’s attention: Richard Green, a psychiatrist who evaluated him for 15 years at UCLA’s Gender Identity Research Clinic.

“Sure enough, there I was,” Bryant said.

A UC Irvine seminar held Nov. 12 brought together Bryant and another subject of the clinic’s three-decade study. Sé Shay Sullivan and Bryant knew about each other but had never met in person.

Both call themselves “survivors” of what they consider harmful research that left them feeling shame and humiliation with each session.

Bryant, a professor of sociology and women’s studies at SUNY New Paltz University in New York, identifies as gay. Sullivan, a carpenter who teaches in the sociology department at Gavilan College in Gilroy, identifies as gender fluid. Both are now 57.

Eight years ago, Sullivan, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, requested files on their case from UCLA. Sullivan received a 68-page transcript of doctor-patient interviews that now seem misguided and insensitive.

Sullivan created a multimedia art exhibit of their time under a microscope, and this year began taking the show on the road – so far, to half a dozen colleges around California.

UCI students filed through a room to view the transcript, each page clipped to a long clothesline. “Dr. N” stands for Larry Newman, a psychiatrist who trained at UCLA from 1964 to 1969.

In the background, a slideshow flipped through photos of Sullivan as a child. An audio reading of the transcript, recorded by Sullivan and two friends, runs throughout.

Sullivan comes across as defiant, precocious, bored, defensive and, at times, resigned and conciliatory.

“How does it get decided who’s going to be a boy and who’s going to be a girl?” Newman asks.

“Well, we just want to be what we want to be,” the child responds.

But in other instances, Sullivan assures him that despite longing to be a boy, “When I grow up, I’ll change my mind.”

After the presentation, Bryant and Sullivan took questions from an audience of more than 100 in a standing-room-only lecture hall. Jeanne Scheper, associate professor of gender and sexuality studies, monitored the Q&A.

The symposium would give the guest speakers an opportunity to “turn the lens of critical analysis on the doctors who studied them, labeled their gender as pathology, and subjected them to forms of what we would now call reparative therapy,” Scheper said in her introduction.

Bryant said that as a boy he “exhibited behavior my parents were concerned about.”

“Somehow, they got hooked up with a young psychiatrist named Dr. Green,” he said. “I was about five. All I knew was that I started going to UCLA every other week.”

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Are You a Moderate? Think Again

From The New York Times:

A lack of moral imagination can make deeply ethical actions seem like crimes.

By Jamie Aroosi
Oct. 30, 2019

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” was written as a response to a group of “white moderate” clergy members who claimed to be supportive of the civil rights movement — but who had also called Dr. King’s activism both “unwise and untimely.” For these moderates, civil rights activists were not courageous adversaries of a horribly unjust society, but lawless “outside agitators” threatening the tranquillity of the status quo. And so, rather than commending these activists, they condemned them and blamed the outbreak of violence on their resistance to Jim Crow rather than on Jim Crow itself.

In his response to their calls for slow and incremental change, Dr. King made a provocative claim: He argued that these white moderates were a potentially greater threat than the members of the Ku Klux Klan. Whereas the “ill will” of the rabid segregationist was out in the open and could therefore be combated, the “shallow understanding from people of good will” threatened to enervate the civil rights movement into acceptance of an intolerable status quo. For King, moderation in the face of injustice might have been a worse problem than injustice itself.

A half-century later we find ourselves, domestically and globally, in a similar crisis, arguably more divided than ever. Those fighting against inequality, sexism, racism and xenophobia face an entrenched and increasingly emboldened reactionary opposition. In between them lies our current equivalent of Dr. King’s “white moderate.” And these moderates, with their outsized political power and their nostalgia for a lost status quo, similarly represent a greater threat to progress than do the reactionaries.

As in the past, today’s moderate is generally not the victim of contemporary injustices. While many moderates acknowledge the existence of these injustices, their relative comfort allows them the luxury of denying their severity. In the United States, a spate of policies and movements that promise to help alleviate these problems have emerged — Medicare for All, the cancellation of student debt, the elimination of ICE and the Green New Deal, and Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movement. But as in Dr. King’s time, today’s moderate only pays lip service to the general goals of these policies and movements while also condemning their stridency. For them, this stridency, in its potential upending of their comfortable status quo, seems a greater threat than the injustice it means to address.

As Dr. King understood, the problem he was facing — and that we now face again — is the problem of moral imagination. Moderates might have the “good will” that leads them to acknowledge injustice, but their very moderation is indicative of a “shallow understanding” that is emptied of the pain of those who currently suffer. For these moderates, injustice is a foreign affair, an abstract problem to be solved. Their response then lacks the urgency that a true understanding would bring. Learning how to expand their moral universe — learning how to turn opponents into allies — is just as pressing a problem as ever.

Almost two centuries ago, Søren Kierkegaard addressed this very issue. In his work “Fear and Trembling,” he went to great lengths to praise the biblical Abraham for his apparent willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac. And while Kierkegaard’s praise of Abraham has led to no small number of misinterpretations, given how horrific it appears to be, Kierkegaard was not suggesting that we too should be willing to commit such an obviously terrible act. Instead, as Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” helps reveal, Kierkegaard used this story to demonstrate how, to those with a more limited moral imagination, actions which are deeply ethical can often appear as the greatest of crimes — as if we were willing to sacrifice that which is most dear.

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