Trans Activism in the Heartland

Ann at Feministing posted about this really good article from The American Prospect about trans activism in the heartland and a companion article about gay activism’s slow adoption of trans issues.

Many would view the politically red heart of the country as a harsh, unwelcoming, and vaguely dangerous place for the transgender community. When we think of states like Nebraska and Wyoming, we don’t think of M.J. — we think of people like Brandon Teena and Matthew Shepard, both killed in vicious, nationally publicized hate crimes. But the truth of the matter is far more interesting, inspiring, and instructive. Away from the coasts and the urban havens, a vibrant transgender-rights movement is slowly emerging across the mountain and plains states. Through increased visibility, community building, legislative outreach, and face-to-face public education in churches, schools, and neighborhoods, trans people are building a foundation for equality in some of the nation’s most conservative regions.

(A big thank you to the women at Feministing for their coverage of transgender issues. They do a great job of it, and it’s such a relief to see my fellow feminists speak up about trans stuff.)

People who here we’re from New York often assume things are better here, but if you take a look at the Transgender Day of Remembrance lists, you’ll see how many trans people were murdered in big cities, including San Francisco (Ruby Rodriquez, 2007) and New York (Sanesha Stewart, 2008). The assumption that big liberal cities are “safer” is fine until you run into that one asshole.

Stay safe, people.

Dan Savage, Parent

Dan Savage in the NYT on the Arkansas ruling prohibiting unmarried couples – not just gay and lesbian ones – from adopting or fostering children:

That state’s Proposed Initiative Act No. 1, approved by nearly 57 percent of voters last week, bans people who are “cohabitating outside a valid marriage” from serving as foster parents or adopting children. While the measure bans both gay and straight members of cohabitating couples as foster or adoptive parents, the Arkansas Family Council wrote it expressly to thwart “the gay agenda.” Right now, there are 3,700 other children across Arkansas in state custody; 1,000 of them are available for adoption. The overwhelming majority of these children have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their heterosexual parents.

Even before the law passed, the state estimated that it had only about a quarter of the foster parents it needed. Beginning on Jan. 1, a grandmother in Arkansas cohabitating with her opposite-sex partner because marrying might reduce their pension benefits is barred from taking in her own grandchild; a gay man living with his male partner cannot adopt his deceased sister’s children.

I really do wonder how even people who hate gay folks think this is justified.

(thanks to Tina for the link!)

Danish Girl’s Wife

It turns out that Nicole Kidman will be playing Lili Elbe in the upcoming movie The Danish Girl. Her wife will be played by Charlize Theron.


  • The movie is based on the book The Danish Girl.
  • With Theron & Kidman playing them, this just seems like another excuse for “hot lesbian innuendo.”
  • I’m also a little perturbed by the “play a transsexual / get an oscar” trend.
  • Still, i’ve always expected the wife of a trans woman to be played by someone like Kathy Bates, & at her worst, too, so Charlize Theron isn’t so bad. Except that the book seems to imply her husband’s transsexuality was her own fault, and in the reviews of the book, it seems she comes off as a cheerleadery sort.

Veterans Day

First, thank you to all the Veterans out there who have served this country with honor and courage.

Second, the results of the survey TAVA (Transgender American Veterans’ Association) conducted are available on their website. From their press release:

The Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara has released the findings of a survey, conducted by Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA), that shows that transgender veterans are being turned away and being mistreated in high numbers by Veterans Administration medical facilities.  The survey of 827 U.S. military veterans and active-duty personnel mark the first major empirical findings on transgender people in the military. This represents a strong sampling from what is estimated to be approximately 300,000 veterans in the US who identify as being transgender.

Or, to paraphrase the way Monica Helms put it on a recent call, ‘Trans veterans want at least the same bad benefits other veterans get.’ Do check it out.

Miriam Makeba

Miriam Makeba died on Sunday right after she finished a concert in Italy. She was a South African singer who I first discovered on a collection of music from the tv show Northern Exposure (of which I was, & am, a huge fan).

The Best of Miriam Makeba and the Skylarks – recorded in the 1950s – is one of my all-time spirit lifters; I have no idea what I’m singing but I sing along whenever these tracks come on. (I’d highly recommend this one, especially, to anyone who loves rocksteady.)

She had such a sparkling, clear voice – the kind that makes you think of beautiful sunny days.

Employment Non-Discrimination

On Twitter, Gunner Scott of GenderCrash directed me to the new Obama-Biden administration’s employment policy, which says:

The Obama-Biden Transition Project does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law.

Note the bold print.

Feministing points out that the CT Employment Law Blog has stated that this “signals a dramatic shift in the hiring practices of the executive branch because current law does not prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity.”

So not only is this a proposed change or ideological shift, but an actual policy change has already happened with the Obama-Biden administration.

I told y’all they were hip to gender!

Kittoi Comforts

the boys

I haven’t cat blogged for a while, but I took this photo of the boys recently & couldn’t resist. Aren’t they just too adorable? This was right after Aeneas came home, after his surgery, and he seems very happy to have his big brother next to him again.

Boulder: TRANSforming Gender 2008

TRANSforming Gender 2008, the third annual trans themed conference here at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is happening tomorrow, November 7th. (This is the conference me & Julia Serano & Matt Kailey & Dylan Scholinksi spoke at last year.)

This year’s lineup includes Monica Roberts (keynote speaker), Krista Scott-Dixon, Michelle Dumaresq, Ryka Aoki de la Cruz, Andrea Gibson, and Katastrophe. You can find the schedule below the break.

Continue reading “Boulder: TRANSforming Gender 2008”

Safe House

Barbara Carrellas told me that tonight, this night that Obama won, her next door neighbor put a candle on their doorstep & a white handkerchief on the doorknob: the sign of a safe house during the time of the Underground Railroad.

For years I have had my key in our front door and made a point of not turning my head over my right shoulder so that I would not see the big gaping lack in the sky where the towers stood.

I’ve felt for the past 8 years like that crazy chracter Whoopi Goldberg played on Star Trek, in that one episode where she knew the ship wasn’t supposed to be at war, and that children were supposed to be on board, but weren’t. She kept telling everyone they were in the wrong reality.

We’ve been in the wrong reality for 8 years at least. There is a part of me that wants to go back to that time of outpouring of sympathy from the world we received and just apologize already for having shit on their sympathy with aggression & “the Bush doctrine” of Orwellian, preventative war. I want still for the US to say to the rest of the world that we’re sorry for our bad manners; we were traumatized and stupid and scared and that we’re very, very sorry for not having taken their shows of empathy with grace and thanks.

& Then I think of that candle on Barbara’s stoop and that white handkerchief on her doorknob and I think of how far we have gone back, what deep wounds we might heal now, and I am awed at the idea of it.

To the rest of the world: the difficult but lovable child full of promise that the US used to be is back. We’re still a big precocious brat in some ways, but full of love and honor and bravery in others: a 19 year old to your more mature years, still a little impetuous and wet behind the ears but hopeful and not entirely stupid. I feel like we’ve finally gotten to that moment full of tears and anger where we admit how much we were hurt and how much hurting we did and try, still a little clumsily, to try a little harder.

(this post is dedicated to Anne Wendy, whose British liberalism has been a bright, bright beacon.)


Good News:

Barack Obama is going to be the next president of these United States.

Bad News:

  • AZ will ban same sex marriage
  • AR will ban same sex couples from adopting children
  • FL will ban gay marriage
  • (& Prop 8 in CA is still undecided, & probably will be for a day or so at least)