Month: January 2009

Thanks, NYC

Posted by – January 16, 2009

I’m very proud of my hometown for being kick-ass in an emergency, as always. I’ve lived through more than one in NYC – 9/11, the blackout – but those shoes of those people lined up on the plane’s wings in the Hudson – which had to be downright frigid yesterday – is remarkable. They didn’t have a lot of time with the water at 32 degrees and the air at 20; hypothermia would have happened pretty damn fast.

Go ferry operators, coast guard, the NYPD & the FDNY, as usual. The crew of USAir rocked especially.

& I also think it rocks that Mayor Bloomberg gives the news in his stilted Spanish.

& No, this does not inspire confidence in me to fly. I still hate flying.

Brazil

Posted by – January 16, 2009

I’ve had the remarkable good fortune to teach Freshman Studies at Lawrence this term, which is a class Freshmen take, a kind of critical thinking course. We’ve already talked about Milgram and his obedience studies, and next up is Gilliam’s Brazil.

In watching it for the umpteenth time, that I’m still amazed at how remarkable this movie is.

I’m also really shocked at how much more like the movie the world has become since the last time I saw it – just the metal detector scene in the beginning, where Sam runs into Jack (Palin) while they’re both waiting for security clearance, & then again when Sam dines with his mother – right before the bomb goes off in the restaurant.

It’s wholly depressing, but that seemed entirely unlikely at the time it came out – and just as dystopian as so many other of the film’s details – and yet, here we are, going through security in so many places these days, and with the same bland obedience as they do in this film.

Toni Rocks

Posted by – January 15, 2009

from yesterday’s Dr. Phil show. It seems the typical “poor mom” trans kids show until Toni confronts the reparative doctor.

1st Trans Officer of State Dems

Posted by – January 15, 2009

From National Stonewall Democrats:

Washington, DC – Today, the Stonewall Democrats congratulated Laura Calvo upon her election as Treasurer of the Democratic Party of Oregon. Calvo, a seasoned Democratic operative, becomes the first openly-transgender officer of a state Democratic party. A member of the Board of Directors for National Stonewall Democrats, Calvo also serves as Chair of the Oregon Stonewall Democrats and as Treasurer of the Multnomah County Democrats. Multnomah County, which includes the city of Portland, is the largest county in the state of Oregon.

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Betty Update

Posted by – January 14, 2009

Betty is home from the hospital and curling up to sleep with our Aurora, who missed her very much.

Gendery Blogs

Posted by – January 14, 2009

It may be an advertising hook, but this list of gender-y blogs is pretty thorough, covering feminist issues, LGBT issues, and even folks like me.

Transgender Workplace made it, as did other sites I contribute to, like Trans Group Blog and Invert(e), but I’m especially happy to see Sugarbutch rounding out the list at 100.

Don’t Let Him Get Away With It

Posted by – January 13, 2009

On May 16, 2007, Sean Kennedy, a 20-year old gay man, was attacked on the streets of Greenville, South Carolina. He died of his injuries later that night. Yet, because of the lack of hate crimes legislation, his attacker may be eligible for parole in February!

Sean was a brave young man with a bright, infectious smile. But his life was cut short and justice left unserved.  Now, PFLAG is joining with Sean’s mother, Elke Kennedy, and asking all of our members to write to the parole board and urge them to rule that Moller must serve his complete sentence for this heinous, anti-gay crime.

Because South Carolina – and many other states- lack protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, Moller was able to plea-bargain to involuntary manslaughter charges (considered a “non-violent crime”) and received a suspended five to three years sentence for his crime. Because of the credit he received for time served before sentencing, his full sentence means that he will be free in September 2009. And he is also eligible for parole in February, which means that he will have served only 8 months of his full sentence for Sean’s death.

The parole board is currently conducting a review on whether to grant Moller parole. It is critically important that they hear from our community, and that we each send a strong message that it is unacceptable to grant such early parole following a brutal anti-gay murder!

Please join us in writing a letter to the parole board, and ask them to deny Stephen Moller’s parole. If you have the time, please write a personal letter by hand or by computer, as those will be the most effective, and if you knew Sean or his family personally, please include that information.

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Sick Betty

Posted by – January 12, 2009

Despite her having promised to quit with the medical shenanigans starting in 2009, my sweetie is now in our local hospital with atypical pneumonia.

She went to the emergency room last night because she couldn’t breathe. (I called her a cab, from WI, to take her there). They’ve done umpteen tests, to rule out things like embolism, and they put her on oxygen right away.

She’ll probably be there a few days, is my guess.

Otherwise she seems to be getting better, & is in okay spirits. She does have her own room because she’s female but still legally male – a benefit of being out as trans, I suppose. & According to her, the medical staff have all been respectful of her gender.

So do send your best vibes in betty’s direction, so she gets better soon. I have a funny feeling all the stuff that happened last year lead to a shot immune system and so, now this. Feh to illness.

What You Don’t Need

Posted by – January 11, 2009

It’s not good news, but it ends pretty optimistically. Worth watching.

10 Days In

Posted by – January 11, 2009

After a nearly balmy 10 days in Appleton – it’s been aboug 20 degrees everyday – on Tuesday it’s meant to plunge to 2 degrees, and by Thursday, to 0.

I am amazed by how much I don’t mind the cold. I’m a little amazed by the consistency of both the cold and the snow, but since I don’t have to shovel my own walk or dig out a car, I just have to bundle up to walk to class or to get groceries and the like, which isn’t too bad.

I’m teaching three courses this term – Freshman Studies, Gender Studies 100, and Trans Lives – so I’m happily busy and feeling optimistic about 2009. Obama may have a first 100 days to make changes (and only 10 days until he takes office!!), but so far we’ve all had 10 – how have yours been?

Gainesville’s Fight

Posted by – January 10, 2009

Allyson Robinson posted this message about Equality Florida’s fight for a gender-inclusive non-discrimination law in Gainesville, Florida on our message boards, & I thought it deserved a larger audience:

Many of you are aware of the fight brewing in Gainesville, Florida over their trans-inclusive non-discrimination law, passed by the city council last year. Gainesville’s non-discrimination ordinance had covered sexual orientation for years, but when gender identity was added last year, opposition was activated. The opposition group collected a huge number of signatures–over 10% of the projected voting population–to get the anti-discrimination ordinance placed on the ballot in a special election. That’s tremendous for this kind of municipal issue; more people signed the petition against these protections than voted for the mayor or any sitting city council member in recent elections.

Though the charter amendment the opposition group is pushing would eliminate protections for the whole LGBT community, their messaging is focusing on transgender people–the “bathroom diversion.” Their flyers state, in letters a inch tall, “KEEP MEN OUT OF WOMEN’S RESTROOMS.” As we’ve seen all over the country, and writ large in California last fall, this kind of fear-based messaging is very, very difficult to dislodge from voters’ minds. The special election is scheduled for March 24.

This fight has national significance. The “bathroom diversion” is quickly becoming our opposition’s weapon of choice. They used it successfully in Hamtramck, Michigan, it might have succeeded in Montgomery County, Maryland had the courts not intervened, it’s getting drug out in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it’s already being raised at the state level in places like Connecticut that are considering inclusive non-discrimination bills this year. We must show both our opponents and our supporters that we can consistently defeat this tactic. If we don’t, municipalities or states considering trans-inclusive non-discrimination laws may become gun-shy, preferring not to deal with costly ballot initiatives in response to pro-equality laws.

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Naming All the Parts

Posted by – January 9, 2009

Today I’ll be covering Kate Bornstein’s “Naming All the Parts” chapter of Gender Outlaw with my Gender Studies 100 class. It’s always an interesting thing to bring up hankie codes with undergraduates.

It’s the chapter in which she passes on this limerick:

A gay man who lived in Khartoum
Took a lesbian up to his room
They argued all night
Over who had the right
To do what, and with what, to whom.

What is maybe more surprising is that it’s very rare to see them even blink; these are students who were about 5 years old when we were having a national conversation about whether a blowjob was sex or not.

Commissioner for Human Rights

Posted by – January 8, 2009

The Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe has released a statement about transgender people, discrimination, violence, and human rights that is stunningly thorough and well-articulated. Here’s an example:

To require surgery as a prerequisite to enjoy legal recognition of one’s gender identity ignores the fact that such operations are not always desired, medically possible, available, and affordable (without public or other funding). It is estimated that only 10% of transgender persons in Europe actually undergo gender reassignment surgery.

Even access to ordinary health care is a problem for transgender people. The lack of trained staff familiar with the specific health care needs of transgender persons – or simply  prejudice towards transgender people – render them vulnerable to unpredictable and sometimes hostile reactions.

He covers issues such as divorce, child custody, employment, identity documents, and jsut about every other aspect of life with the same clarity and sense of fairness. Do read the whole thing.

She’s Gone

Posted by – January 8, 2009

She left today, right before I had to leave for a lecture about Milgram, and I watched her cab pull away and I counted the days in my head: about 35 before she’s back, a little over a month.

At least Aurora has her back, and I’m sure she’s very, very pleased with having family back.

Friends

Posted by – January 7, 2009

This is just too beautiful. I knew about Tara & Bella, but I’d never seen a clip specifically about them & their friendship.

Freedom to Marry

Posted by – January 7, 2009

A study done by two NYU researchers shows that in fact, party, ideology, frequency of religious service, and age were far more important factors than race in the defeat of Prop 8.

So at long last, we can put this one down.

The other good news is that they also found support for same sex marriage has increased in nearly all demographics.

Press release at Freedom to Marry, & the actual study is here (pdf).

Congress Is Back

Posted by – January 6, 2009

From the NCTE:

Today, January 6, Members of Congress raise their right hand and swear to uphold the Constitution as they begin the new legislative session.

Let’s make sure the first thing they hear about is the importance of an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that protects all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224 3121 and have them connect you to your Representative (based on your zip code). Tell them: “I am a constituent and I would like you to please tell Representative _______ that I strongly support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would ban discrimination against all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Then, call back and leave messages with your two Senators too!

Request an in-person meeting for you and other community members with your two Senators and your Representative (or their staffs) in their home district offices. You can call the district offices to request these meetings but they often want you to fax a meeting request. To find contact info for district offices, go to to www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.

Sample meeting request letters, and other talking points and resources for your meetings, are available in the following toolkits:

Start of Term

Posted by – January 6, 2009

Sorry for this boring post, but today was the 1st day of classes, which means tomorrow is the first day of Trans Lives, and it’s 2 hours at a time, which means I need to be well-rested because they won’t have read anything yet & I’ve got to talk the whole time!

Deaths in Memphis

Posted by – January 5, 2009

There is a diarist at Daily Kos who has written about the high incidence of murder of African American trans women.

Queerty (tongue in cheerk) predicts Memphis will reach out to the trans community as a result. I doubt it. They’re 2nd in homicides in the country, which means everyone – not just trans people – have been victims of violence (via Grand Divisions).

What a way to start a new year.

Riddle Me This

Posted by – January 4, 2009

A slight altercation in the partners’ group got me thinking: what is the difference between (1) changing your expectations of what your partner is actually able to bring to the table and (2) simply lowering your standards?