Ripped & Religious

Here’s a cool story about a female Episcopalian priest who is also a body builder. She’s from Wisconsin, of course.

Decades ago my church decided that the ordination of women was a just and morally responsible thing. Some people left over the decision. Some people still tell me they struggle with the idea. Now many women serve as priests, and many parishioners applaud this fact.

But somehow, despite our belief that both sexes can serve the church, it seems there’s still something unnerving about a priest who is a woman. It has to do with having a woman’s body.

A parishioner told me that he thought I was a great priest, but that if I became pregnant, it would be too weird for him to see me at the altar. Merely holding hands with my husband, even when I am not in clerical clothes, has elicited the comment “Can you do that? I mean, in public?” Another parishioner told me I was too petite to be a priest. I’m 5-10. I have never been called “petite.” I think he meant “female.”

Of course for me, raised Catholic, it’s still odd that ministers/priests should be married, male female or otherwise.

First Watch

One of the great pleasures of working at Lawrence is getting to see someone like Michael Mizrahi play on a regular basis: different music, different groups, different stages, but all of it thoughtful, moving, and beautiful.

& He makes me miss my town with this clip, too.

New Philly FTM Group

I don’t know anymore about it than what you can read here, but get the words out to your friends in the Philly neck of the woods.

FTM coming-out support group: weekly support group for ftms and transmen in the process of transition

Tuesdays 6-7:30 starting 6/19/12
12 weeks, $30 – 50 per session
Meetings in Center City, Philadelphia

This 12 week support-group will include psycho-education and facilitated discussions around topics of:
• Relationships
• Family
• Sexuality
• Coming Out At Work
• Defining Identity
• Questioning Identity
• Religion/Spirituality
• Masculinity and Male Privilege
• Dating

This group will be facilitated by Damon Constantinides, LCSW, PhD. Damon is a trans and queer affirming psychotherapist and sexuality educator in Philadelphia. He has experience working with trans individuals and groups in his private psychotherapy practice and at several agencies in Philadelphia. Damon approaches his work from a trans-feminist and social justice perspective.

Contact Damon at or 607-592-2173 for more information.


Two years ago, Obama unveiled a new goal: to double U.S. exports over the next five years. It’s working.

“American exports are up 34 percent since the president gave that speech, and the number continues to rise.”

Indeed: Gobama.

Horrible, Horrible Racism

Here’s the story.

On Sunday, April 15th, at the Moderna Museet the Swedish Artists Organisation celebrated World Art Day, as well as celebrating its own 75th birthday. Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth, the culture Minister, was Invited to speak and a number of artists were invited to create birthday cakes for the celebration. The Minister was informed that the cake would be about the limits of provocative art, and about female genital mutilation. The event was launched with Lena Adelsohn-Liljeroth cutting the first piece of cake from a dark, ruby red velvet filling with black icing, which we understand was created by the Afro-Swedish artist Makode Aj Linde, whose head forms that of the black woman, and is seen with a blackened face screaming with pain each time a guest cuts a slice from the cake. Rather disturbingly for many African women, the minister is pictured laughing as she cuts off the genital area (clitoris)from the metaphorical cake, as the artist Makode screams distastefully. The gaze of the predominantly white Swedish crowd is on Lijeroth who is positioned at the crotch end, as they look on at their visibly ebullient culture minister with seemingly nervous laughter as she becomes a part of the performance – a re-enactment of FGM on a cake made in the image of a disembodied African woman.

Here’s the petition. Sign it.

Huge News: Trans & Title VII

HUGE news, and long awaited:

An employer who discriminates against an employee or applicant on the basis of the person’s gender identity is violating the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to an opinion issued on April 20 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

and from Shannon Minter:

THE IMPLICATIONS: Minter, who has been working for LGBT legal equality since law school in the early 1990s, says, ”This is huge. This is a real sea change.

”To have just a clear, definitive EEOC ruling that Title VII protects transgender people gives us so much more certainty and security and solid, reliable legal protection. For decades now, advocates and scholars both have been saying Title VII should be applied to protect transgender people,” he says. ”And now, to have the EEOC confirm that, ‘Yes … Title VII should and does protect transgender people when they’re discriminated against because they’ve changed their sex or intend to change their sex or because they’re gender nonconforming. That is sex discrimination.’ That is really an important capstone.”

There is some good coverage of the history of the ruling, previously attempted cases, and other cool trans/gender history here.

Alan Turing

Here’s a nice piece by Radiolab on Alan Turing, who was convicted of “Gross Indecency” in England. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what Oscar Wilde was convicted of, both of them a result of the Labouchere Amendment which was part of the Criminal Law Amendment of 1885.

He didn’t go to prison like Wilde but instead endured chemical castration via estrogen and eventually committed suicide by eating an arsenic laced apple.

In the meantime he invented computers and won WWII. (I’m not overstating either claim.)

Imagine what he might have given humanity if we weren’t such homophobic assholes as a culture.

But hey, he’s got a stamp now.

FVUUF: Wellspring Wednesday

I’m speaking at the local Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship this Wednesday, on a night they call Wellspring Wednesday. I’ll be doing the talk I call Trans 101: Building a Trans Inclusive Community, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

This week’s sermons by Rev. Roger Bertschausen were also about the trans, and it was pretty amazing. For the first time ever I sat through a Sunday morning UU service, and it was quite lovely.

A friend told me a while back he went, & I said something about not liking organized religion. He said it wasn’t, so I asked if it was a disorganized religion. That seems to make UUs laugh, for no reason I understand.

Radical Nun

Oh, the Church and its consistency with being misogynist. The Vatican has investigated and censured American nuns for being too feminist.


The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group representing most of America’s 55,000 nuns, is in trouble with the Vatican because they’ve apparently have not been vocal enough in their opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and women’s ordination . . .

This directive came as the result of a two-year-long investigation—excellent use of resources, boys—and appears to be part of what is seen as the church veering into more conservative territory. You might not think nuns would be the obvious target of any investigations, considering it’s the priests who’ve been causing most of the actual problems the church has faced recently, but of course organized religion never lets a little thing like logic get in the way.

In terms of the Vatican’s specific issues with the LCWR, it appears they’re mostly angry because the nuns have been “silent on the right to life from conception to natural death.” Also they maintain the LCWR hasn’t taken certain things seriously enough . . .

Here’s the Washington Post‘s version. Ridiculous.

ENDA Again

Gay City News has an interesting article on the possibility of ENDA being passed be Executive Order. Mara Keisling of NCTE gets cranky about it, & rightfully so. But it’s an interesting idea, & might especially be interesting to those of you who like somewhat obscure US history:

Nan Hunter, the associate dean for graduate programs at Georgetown Law School who is also the legal scholarship director at the Williams Institute, explained that the president’s authority to issue such an order derives not from existing nondiscrimination law, but rather from the Federal Procurement Act, in his role, essentially, as “the CEO” of the US government. Precedent for such an exercise of power dates back 70 years –– more than two decades prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Act –– to a Franklin D. Roosevelt order regarding racial nondiscrimination by Defense Department contractors as the nation ramped up for World War II.

One key factor about such executive orders –– as distinct from nondiscrimination laws –– is that they do not create a private right of civil action for bias victims. Enforcement is carried out by the Labor Department’s Office of Contract Compliance, which she said has been an effective agent for civil rights protections under administrations friendly to the underlying goal. Regardless of a particular president’s enforcement diligence, however, most government contractors take seriously their obligations under existing orders and regulations, Hunter said.

Still, nothing has happened yet, & it looks like it won’t until after Election Day.

Out of Love

This was written by a partner who calls herself Elf, who wrote it for a trans person who calls herself Elle, “when she got so disoriented & disgusted by the face she sees in the mirror every day that she was going to kill herself. She told me, bitterly, that not having the courage to do so was a sign that she really was a girl.”

We both thought it might be useful and healing to many others of you out there.

My beloved types, How can you look in my face and see L?
She types, I looked in the mirror. I was filled with disgust. I almost threw up.
My beloved was assigned at birth, and lives her life now, as a male.
He has a wife and grown children. His hair’s receding. He looks like, and is, a slim nervous man who’s done physical work much of his life.
L came into my life as a woman in a story. My beloved emailed her to me. After a week he typed, I could be L. Then, later, Could anyone love me if I was L? Could I be your wife if I turned into L?

I am trying to understand what it means to be a woman.
If you look at me, you will probably see a skinny woman of 40 with a fuzzy gray topknot. If you look at my beloved, you will most likely see a wiry man of 55 with a round small belly and neatly-trimmed dusky black hair.
Then again, I don’t know you. You may see something completely different.
Perspective is everything.

I look at a sheaf of XML printout. I see 300 pages of wasted paper.
I look again. I see a data stream.
I focus. I dig in deep.
I see an audit trail that could rock your world.
I spin around in my swivel chair.
My beloved takes the audit log and turns pale.

L could get my beloved fired.
L could get him divorced. He might never see his granddaughter again.
If he was a poor guy, in a rough hood – and he has lived as a poor guy, in a rough hood – L could get him killed.
Being a woman is something that can get you slapped, punched, spit on, killed.
Not me, though, I think. I’m not like L. I’m an ordinary-looking middle-aged lady. I’m safe.
I finish the last sentence and typing it in, late at night, I remember that I’ve been thrown, slapped, and raped. Why do I forget these things?
And who would choose to be a woman?
L takes the risk. Continue reading “Out of Love”

Biometrics and Trans

Here’s an interesting TruthOut article on the impact that biometric scanning has had on trans people and others whose gender presentations don’t “match” their physical body.

This story is about people, not their anatomy, except that in the case of airport scanners, this last vestige of individual privacy is on the table. Transgender people’s experiences vary as widely as the human mind and body, but trans communities have mapped out some common ground in language, experience and even documents such as the Transgender Law Center’s (TLC) fact sheet, Trans 101. The title might be considered a nod to the ad hoc teaching gig some trans people are thrust into simply by virtue of their identities – Is that your real name? Did you have a sex change? Why should I let you onto this flight? – and for a two-page crash course, it goes a long way in dispelling gendered assumptions that underlie security measures like body scanners and Secure Flight.

According to TLC, “Transgender people (very broadly conceived) are those of us whose gender identity and/or expression that does not or is perceived to not match stereotypical gender norms associated with our assigned gender at birth…. Some [transgender people] take hormones but have no surgery or vice versa. Some take low-doses of hormones or go on and off. For some trans people, altering genitalia is important. For others, it is not.”

I’ve written previously about the most recent information about traveling while trans, but this is a sobering report.

National Haiku Day

It’s National Haiku Day!

I went through a brief period of writing these & haven’t since. Off the top of my head, here are a few new ones.

objecting to the cold
i stick hands in my pockets
how is this april?

the heat i carry
in the deep core of myself
burns like glowing coal

protective big goose
i will not bother your nest
i fed you stale bread

it is still so cold
wisconsin legs are too white
put some pants on, dude

Write one! Feel free to post it in the comments.

Radfem Trans Misogyny

It makes me sad still. Feminism is better than this, but it persists.

Adrienne Rich was thanked by Janice Raymond in The Transsexual Empire.

She was also thanked by Leslie Feinberg and Minnie Bruce Pratt in their books, which may mean she was only ever okay with some FTM spectrum trans people. So maybe she was only trans misogynist, which is hardly better.

If anyone has any actual evidence in her work of her feelings about transness, I would love to know.

Some days the irony of “biology is not destiny” being a feminist slogan isn’t funny at all.