Two Tune Tuesday: Bud Powell

Okay, no laughing, but since the three listening choices I have now that I work at a university with a conservatory are (1) world music, (2) classical, and (3) jazz, I’m trying to learn something about the latter. I’m not sure I get it, but I like this guy:

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It was the tune “Tempus Fugue It” that I liked most, first — who can resist a Latin joke? — but you get the idea from these.

TNR Cover Story on Trans Issues

If you haven’t read it yet, The New Rebublic recently did a cover story on trans issues as the next civil rights issue.

Transgender people are regularly evicted from their homes, fired from their jobs, and denied medical treatment. Last July, emergency room staff in an Indiana hospital refused to help a trans woman who was coughing up blood, referring to her as “it.” More than a quarter of transgender people surveyed say they have lost a job because of discrimination. Transgender people are more likely to become homeless (at an average age of 13, in New York City). And then there is the obstacle course of inconveniences that reminds transgender people every day that they don’t belong. One trans woman told me her company requires her to lock herself in when she uses the restroom—even though it’s multi-occupancy—so she is acutely aware of making other women wait. In some states, a court order is required to change a person’s gender on a driver’s license. Many health insurance plans only cover procedures for one gender, so a person born male who transitions to female can’t get both a prostate check and a mammogram.

It’s a good piece, a general overview; there’s nothing new in it to those who have been paying attention to trans issues, but it’s a good introductory piece for social justice types in particular.

Turning Girls Into Boys?

Okay, here’s some odd news:

Girls are being ‘converted’ into boys in Indore – by the hundreds every year – at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation. This shocking, unprecedented trend, catering to the fetish for a son, is unfolding at conservative Indore’s well-known clinics and hospitals on children who are 1-5 years old. The process being used to ‘produce’ a male child from a female is known as genitoplasty.

The whole article is here.

I don’t understand how this could even be possible, to be honest, since genital surgery for FTMs is notoriously difficult and expensive.

Green Bay Pride

I’ll be tabling today for Fair Wisconsin at Green Bay’s Pride event, Pride Alive. You can get more info about the event on their website, and let people know you’re going/invite others via the FB page.

Author for Hire

For the next two months, I’m a freelancer again! So if you’ve thought about hiring me to read or edit your manuscript, or consult on transition or relationship or sexuality issues, or write something for you, now is the time.

Feel free to contact me for information, or to bounce an idea to see if I’d be willing: helenboyd(at)myhusbandbetty(dot)com.

Good News for Trans Portland

A note from organizer Aubrey Harrison of Basic Right Oregon:

WE DID IT! After nearly two years of working with city leaders, we are proud to announce that today the Portland City Council unanimously voted to end insurance exclusions against transgender City employees.

This is huge. Portland is now the third municipality in the country to provide trans-inclusive care to their employees, and Oregon is a clear leader in the national efforts to end insurance discrimination against transgender communities.

This victory belongs to Basic Rights Oregon’s Trans Justice Working Group-trans and allied community leaders who have worked tirelessly for nearly two years on our campaign to end health care discrimination against transgender Oregonians. It also belongs to the Portland City Council, especially Mayor Sam Adams whose leadership for the LGBT community shone through today.

Why is this care so important? Basic Rights’ Executive Director Jeana Frazzini explained it in her testimony today:
The American Medical Association has identified transgender health care as being medically ncessary. Yet many transgender Oregonians are routinely denied the ability to purchase health insurance or are denied coverage for basic, medically-necessary care solely becaust they are transgender. Without health insurance, many transgender people have no access to health care and have nowhere to turn if they develop health problems. This discrimination is all too common and can lead to serious-even life-threatening-conditions.

Such great, great news.

DC Trans Coalition Findings: Not Good

from the DC Trans Coalition:

Washington, DC – The DC Trans Coalition today released summary findings from the first phase of its ongoing Needs Assessment Project, which found that transgender, transsexual, and gender non-conforming people in the District of Columbia – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – have serious concerns about their safety as they go about their everyday lives. Other findings include severe underemployment, and major difficulties accessing adequate healthcare.

“This needs assessment is the first study of its kind in DC in over a decade, and is the first trans needs study in the nation to deploy community mapping as a research technique,” said Elijah Edelman, one of the needs assessment coordinators. Over 100 trans residents in DC participated in a series of roundtable discussions where they mapped Washington, DC as a trans city, and suggested questions for the survey portion of the study. “The maps create a qualitative picture of DC that a survey simply can’t provide, and the discussion around their creation will help us craft a survey that truly investigates the community’s concerns,” Edelman said.

The mapping exercise also identified places where trans people spend their time and access resources across the city. The study found that while over half of participants mapped areas commonly referred to as sex work “strolls,” many participants mentioned these not as places where they seek income, but rather as places where they interact with their friends. “Roundtable participants overwhelmingly described the strolls as places where – despite the high chances of facing harassment or arrest – trans people go to look out for their friends, distribute resources, and support one another,” said Sadie Ryanne Vashti, a DCTC organizer. “We are concerned that some of the central places where trans people build communities are also some of the most heavily policed areas in the city, thanks to policies like the ‘Prostitution Free Zones,’” Vashti added.

The DC Trans Coalition has received a grant from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law to conduct the survey phase of the Needs Assessment Project. DCTC is actively soliciting additional funding to support the research and economic empowerment components of this project. Donations are fully tax-deductible thanks to the fiscal sponsorship of AGREAA – The Association for Gender Research, Education, Academia and Action.

To download the summary findings from phase one of the DC Trans Needs Assessment, or to donate to the project, visit

(You can find them on Facebook as well, of course.)

Two Tune Tuesday: Red Hot + Rio 2

Red Hot is the organization that raises funds for HIV/AIDS, and has been doing so for a long while – Red Hot + Blue was the first of the compilation CDs & celebrated the songs of Cole Porter. This week, the 2nd Brazilian-inspirted Red Hot CD is out. The first one, Red Hot + Rio, is one of my favorites.

This new one, Red Hot + Rio 2, celebrates a musical moment (or movement?) called Tropicalia:


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Here’s a list of the best Tropicalia albums, but do get Red Hot + Rio 2 – music for a good cause, & hot summer soundtrack to boot.

(& Yes, I know I’m a day late. Monday holidays screw me up.)

Jane Scott, RIP

She was a rock journalist before anyone was paying attention:

In 1952, she joined The Plain Dealer and was assigned, typically for the time, to the society pages.

She found her lifework on Sept. 15, 1964, the day four lads from Liverpool came to Cleveland. No one at the paper was interested in covering the Beatles, and Ms. Scott volunteered.

How women’s careers are born: good luck & excellent timing. It would be nice if women got the kinds of careers they deserve instead of needing both, but too often – especially for the “first woman to ____________”, we seem to need a lot more than talent and hard work.

Dan Savage’s Family Values

I”m sure plenty have already seen Mark Oppenheimer’s NYT column about infidelity; in it, he talks a lot about Dan Savage, who I love (and whose show I was on back in January). Despite how angry people are about the transphobic way he talked about the dilemma’s of a trans person’s relationship with her wife & son, I can’t really disagree with it, either. (Although I’d add, too, that sometimes children and wives are transphobic; still, giving loved ones a little while to get used to the idea would be great, and may preserve some familiar relationships that will not sustain a very speedy transition.)

Still, that’s hardly what’s interesting to me about this column. First off, he said it a few years ago, & Savage has been sucking a  little less on trans issues. He is, in my opinion, someone who could have been an amazing ally if he weren’t shouted at every second he said something stupid (but not necessarily hateful). He is, in my opinion, one of the people we lost with the overuse of the word transphobic, a la Christine Burns.

But what’s more interesting to me is the way this article paints him as something like a conservative. Really… Dan Savage? But yes: he’s always been pro nuclear family, that’s for sure. He’s opinionated in ways only ex-Catholics can be (she says, securely seated in her glass house). But that idea that someone could be considered conservative even as they suggest that perhaps nonmonogamy should be on the table for heterosexual marriage kind of blows my mind. I don’t disagree. I think in plenty of cases, nonmonogamy makes perfect sense. I’ve been learning a lot more about it – not just from friends who practice it, but from Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up as well, and I was in a relationship during my 20s that wasn’t monogamous. But still: I sorta kinda love the idea of Savage being seen as conservative because he is advocating nonmonogamy in order to preserve marriages, because being married/partnered for life is a conservative value whether you’re gay or kinky or not.

And that’s the kind of thing that makes my feminist hackles rise.

Because Coontz – who Oppenheimer mentions and quotes – has said elsewhere that in happy marriages, both people benefit. But in unhappy marriages, men continue to benefit, but women do much, much worse in terms of their health. Even a miserable wife feeds her husband vegetables, she once cleverly concluded in her Marriage, A History. (It’s a great book, absolutely 100% worth reading.)

So the idea of preserving a marriage simply because preserving marriage is what you’re supposed to do strikes me as kind of wrong-headed and — well, sexist. It’s not like Savage will have been the first gay man to give out sexist advice unthinkingly, but it’s still a surprise.

Research Announcement (& Forecasted Problems)

Over at Trans Group Blog, Angus “Andrea” Grieve-Smith has posted a piece about HHS’s announcement to begin collecting data on LGBTQ issues.

The Department of Health and Human Services has just made a big announcement: they will begin collecting data on LGBT issues, including transgender issues. The goal is to document disparities in health care, as well as plain old disparities in health, so that they can be addressed in the future. The plan is to have two roundtables on “gender identity data collection” with “key experts” this summer and fall, and then the “Data Council” will present a strategy next spring. The department will also collect public comment in various ways, one being through a website called, which is currently down.

If done right, this could be a tremendous help to understanding transgender issues. “The first step is to make sure we are asking the right questions,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Washington Post. “Sound data collection takes careful planning to ensure that accurate and actionable data is being recorded.” As I’ve written before, current research on transgender feelings and actions is severely hampered by the lack of any kind of representative sample. Just to give you a quick sense, here are ten very basic questions that nobody knows the answer to: Continue reading “Research Announcement (& Forecasted Problems)”

Two Weeks

They called today to tell me his ashes are ready for pick up, and it’s like some part of my brain broke all over again. We miss you, kid.

Pro Choice

Due to an emergency injunction, there is now one Planned Parenthood clinic that will remain open in Kansas. The plan, of course, was for there to be none.

I know there are a lot of people who think it should be that way, or who think that maybe that’s for the best. Most of us don’t like abortion. All of us, actually.I’ve never, ever met anyone who is “pro abortion”.

The deciding factor for me was that women who had money and means have always gotten abortions. It’s the poor women who can’t. Morality should not be bought so dearly. If women can get abortions quickly and easily, they get first term abortions. The more expensive and the further away the clinic, the more likely they will get 2nd term abortions. The more birth control they have access to, the more likely they won’t get pregnant.

It’s not really that hard to understand. Most of us don’t want to see second term abortions because the mother’s health is at risk and the whole conversation about when life starts gets more complicated. But you can’t force people to only get 1st term abortions if they don’t provide them with the means to do so.

Keep abortion legal and safe (which means keeping it local and inexpensive).