No Worries About Westboro

This amazing group has already been invited and will be doing the work of keeping Phelps and his gang away from the service.

What a relief, and the perfect response for Appleton.

The LGBTQ community can stay home.

Seeking Trans+ activists for coalitions in CO, IA, MA, ME

From the always-amazing Michael Munson of FORGE:

FORGE is looking to identify trans-savvy individuals in Boulder, CO; Iowa City / Cedar Rapids / Johnson County, IA; Boston, MA; and the state of Maine who are interested in working in coalition with professionals from agencies serving sexual assault survivors to ensure these services are culturally competent about and accessible to transgender survivors.

Multiple studies have found that over 50 percent of transgender people have experienced sexual assault at some point in their lives. Many transgender survivors live with the long-lasting effects of trauma. Yet few transgender people access sexual assault healing services.

Supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, FORGE will help form coalitions in these four jurisdictions (Boulder, CO; Iowa City, IA; Boston, MA; and the state of Maine) to identify their own community/state barriers and develop and implement a work plan to reduce or eliminate those barriers. Work will include disseminating surveys, participating in at least one full-day in-person meeting, and carrying out follow-up work as the coalition determines. The timeline is roughly October 2011 through summer 2012.

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Slutwalk Critique

An Open Letter from Black Women to the SlutWalk, it’s titled, but it should be called how to dismantle white privilege in feminist movements, or something similar.

Black women in the U.S. have worked tirelessly since the 19th century colored women’s clubs to rid society of the sexist/racist vernacular of slut, jezebel, hottentot, mammy, mule, sapphire; to build our sense of selves and redefine what women who look like us represent. Although we vehemently support a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants anytime, anywhere, within the context of a “SlutWalk” we don’t have the privilege to walk through the streets of New York City, Detroit, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, L.A. etc., either half-naked or fully clothed self-identifying as “sluts” and think that this will make women safer in our communities an hour later, a month later, or a year later. Moreover, we are careful not to set a precedent for our young girls by giving them the message that we can self-identify as “sluts” when we’re still working to annihilate the word “ho”, which deriving from the word “hooker” or “whore”, as in “Jezebel whore” was meant to dehumanize. Lastly, we do not want to encourage our young men, our Black fathers, sons and brothers to reinforce Black women’s identities as “sluts” by normalizing the term on t-shirts, buttons, flyers and pamphlets.

The personal is political. For us, the problem of trivialized rape and the absence of justice are intertwined with race, gender, sexuality, poverty, immigration and community. As Black women in America, we are careful not to forget this or we may compromise more than we are able to recover. Even if only in name, we cannot afford to label ourselves, to claim identity, to chant dehumanizing rhetoric against ourselves in any movement. We can learn from successful movements like the Civil Rights movement, from Women’s Suffrage, the Black Nationalist and Black Feminist movements that we can make change without resorting to the taking-back of words that were never ours to begin with, but in fact heaved upon us in a process of dehumanization and devaluation.

Great stuff. Go ahead & read the whole thing, especially if you’re a white feminist who is excited about SlutWalk. It won’t ruin it for you – it’ll just give you some context and maybe a little humility.

Caputo’s “Monsters”

Keith Mina Caputo of Life of Agony is transitioning, and she just released this difficult, amazing song. It may be triggery for just hard to watch for some, as a few people on our message boards have pointed out.

Compelling, I think.

Appleton Domestic Partner Benefits

I just got this note from Katie Belander of FAIR WI. As you all know, I was one of the “local LGBT leaders” who spoke at this Appleton Common Council meeting in favor of the city granting domestic partner benefits.

Earlier this month, I was proud to stand with local LGBT and allied leaders when the Appleton Common Council granted health care and related benefits to the registered domestic partners of city employees by a vote of 10 to 6.  This is a major step forward for Appleton, the Fox Valley and Wisconsin.

But anti-fairness forces are already gearing up to try to undo the progress we have made together.

Saturday morning, the Appleton Post Crescent ran a citizen’s letter calling domestic partner benefits a “cancer [that] must be killed before it spreads” by overturning “this immoral and fiscally imprudent policy through direct legislation by referendum.”

As we learned with the state domestic partnership registry, no victory will go unchallenged. And at Fair Wisconsin, no victory will go undefended.

If you can, please make a donation to FAIR WI so we’ve got the resources to fight this one.

Artist’s Statement

How do you not love artists? A sculptor has created a sculpture of her and her wife, in bed naked and embracing, as their headstone in Woodlawn cemetary. She said:

“Since all we were legally afforded was death, I was going to make the most elegant statement on our government not allowing us to marry as I could muster.”

What an amazing statement and an amazing response to discrimination.

“Crossdressed” Person Amongst LI Serial Killer’s Victims

As it turns out, the only male killed by what police think is a serial killer was wearing women’s clothes when he died 5-10 years ago and he was quite possibly a sex worker. He was in his young 20s, about 5’6″, and had one of his top teeth missing.

The police are still looking for leads in this case, so if he looks familiar to you in any way, please do contact them, and do forward this link to those in the NYC and LI area, especially anyone you know who was active in any gender community at the time. We certainly don’t know how this person identified, and there are no details about any body modifications or the like, but it’s likely he was some flavor of trans and that someone knew this person in one gender or another.

DADT – Trans = Better, Not Best

I’m glad DADT has gone the way of history (and somewhat amazed such an idiotic policy had such a long tenure), but the fact of it is trans people are not covered by the repeal of DADT: crossdressing and cross-gender presentation is still considered mental illness and grounds for discharge in the US military.

JAC Stringer has explained in a post over at Trans Group Blog:

What bothers me more than the issues within the military is the greater “LGB” community’s reaction, or lack their of, to the exclusion of trans* communities. I’m so glad today is here so I won’t be invited to another “Yay DADT! All Our Problems are Over!” facebook event; after months of it I’m fed up. Yes, we should be celebrating, but its downright lousy to rub it in trans people’s faces saying “we don’t have to worry anymore” and “problem solved.” If you’re going to go that far you might as well just call today what it is, yet another “We Forgot You, Again” day, or “We Matter More” day. And yes, I do have to remind people that our problems are not over. I’m not a downer, I’m an activist. I’m not bitter, I’m fucking furious. The LGB community knows what it’s like to be ignored, passed over, discriminated against, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of taking their rights and privileges for granted. The LGB community makes strides with the help of the trans* community, the trans* community is booted out, and what should be our joy becomes a part of our pain. But in of every disappointment there is room for action. It holds me together when people do speak out and recognize that we are not done yet. We must continue to work, continue to fight, and never be satisfied until we all are equal.

I’ve heard today described as “the light at the end of the tunnel.” If this is your truth, I celebrate joyously for you. And as you reach that light at the end of the tunnel, I hope you remember that some of us have been left behind and we are still working in the dark.

So if you find our trans friends a little less celebratory than you might expect, it’s not even the incremental change that’s getting us down – it’s that so many others in the LGB don’t even seem to know a huge chunk of people are still, as JAC puts it, “working in the dark.”

Call for Birth Certificate Change Stories

Lisa Mottet of the The Task Force needs information about experiences in updating gender on birth certificates. She is writing an article that recommends better state policies and wants to include experiences (anonymous okay) about whether you have tried or not (and why), whether you had to get an attorney for a court order, how much this cost, and what did the judge or staff say (good or bad) during the process. Email her at lmottet(at)gmail(dot)com and include whether or not she can include your name/state in the article. Thanks!

No Gender for Social Security

NCTE has been working on the bureauacratical mess within Social Security viz a viz gender markers. If you’ve noticed, there is no gender marker on your Social Security card, but somehow gender started getting added to people’s files anyway, & the category started to be used as a “no match” category – meaning that if the gender marker on someone’s SSN file didn’t match their current gender marker, they were sent a letter saying the two didn’t match and that additional documentation was needed. The SSN did this with other categories, too, such as date of birth, etc.

That all said, NCTE filed an FOI (Freedom of Information) claim:

The extent of the problem was made crystal clear when NCTE’s Freedom of Information Act request was answered showing 711,488 gender no-match letters were sent in 2010 alone. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality says, “Ending this practice, which has endangered transgender people and our jobs, has been a priority for NCTE and we are pleased that the SSA has updated its policy.”

There’s a good article in The Miami Herald with more info, and the Social Security W-2 News Page has the official announcement.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Tomboy

So I’ve started riding a bicycle again. It’s the first time I’ve done so in about 25 years. I bought the one I’ve got for $20 from a departing faculty member, which gave me the perfect non-committal way of seeing if I would ride.

& Oh, do I. I started some last fall, & when the weather got nice this year, I started doing 6 miles, then 7, then 10; then I leaped to 15, and so on, until now I bike about 20 miles a day, every day.

It brings me a lot of peace. I usually go out on a bike path around dusk, so I can get the last of the sun on my way out, & see the sunset on my way back.

Today, my chain came undone, which has happened maybe twice before – the very first time I rode the damn thing, but a friend fixed it. Now, due to her lovely example, I know what to do, and what you do is turn your hands into a goddamn mess. Still, I got the chain back on, wiped them on my black pants (which I only wear to ride), and went on my way.

Later in the trip I stopped to take a drink and needed some lip stuff, so I dug around in my bag and found a Burt’s Bees lip gloss. What a sight, right? Hands blackened with that greasy soot oh so carefully applying lip gloss. I had a moment where I thought: I have now re-achieved tomboy in a way I never imagined, but it’s true: I love going over curbs and through gravel and the kind of competitive cycling that most appeals to me is cyclocrossing, which worries me, but there it is.

Still, I need stuff & how much stuff I need is starting to make Rachel nervous: gloves, a warm thing for my head & under my helmet (a balaclava, they tell me it’s called, although with plenty of cycling nomenclature, that seems overstated), moisture-wicking shirts, a windbreaker, and, of course, stuff to clean your greasy hands with that doesn’t require water.

And a new bike with way more gears. Originally I thought I’d quit as it got colder, but on these first chillier days – it’s already dropping to the 40s here in the evenings – I’m pretty damn sure I won’t be quitting at all, just buying new & different stuff to ride in the cold/sleet/hail/snow.

So yes, maybe Rache should be nervous. Either way, fellow cyclists, tell me what I need, give me your best advice, or just say hi.

Two Tune Tuesday: Photographs (from the 80s)

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How can you not love a band that came up with “another Kodak whore, winking” and “see the red light rinsing another shutter slut wincing”? I know, I know, slut-shaming is bad, but I still love the sound of those lyrics. The song is more critical of the objectification of women in fashion than anything else.

& The AFOS song is kind of lovely in an awful, precious New Wave sort of way, no?