Show Me the Money!

Today’s a really important day to donate, because month-end numbers are used to predict outcomes, etc. etc.

In other words: quit putting it off & DONATE. As much or as little as you can.

Wisconsin Book Fest

I’ll be presenting this year at the Wisconsin Book Festival on Thursday, November 8th, at 5:30 PM, with my friend Miriam Hall. Our session is called Losing Gender.

Do come if you can.

Happy Birthday to Mara Keisling

Join to wish Mara Keisling, the executive director of NCTE, a happy 53rd birthday!

Bring Trans in the US Military

Trans people, as some people may know, were not included in DADT and so are also not free to serve now that it has been revoked. Trans people usually can’t serve because in order to get treatment for transsexualism, trans people often have to be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, which is a mental health issue, and which disables someone from serving.

Basically, Klinger was right, except everyone knew he wasn’t a real crossdresser; he just didn’t want to be in the war. Most crossdressers who serve do so while deep in the closet, just as many gay and lesbian service members did in the past. Even crossdressing is still grounds for discharge.

Swing State

So there are endless political ads on the TV machine, BUT there’s also a lot of cool people speaking in Wisconsin these days too, & this Friday, in fact, Michelle Obama will be speaking at Lawrence.

Let’s just say we’re really really really excited.

Balpreet Kaur

Okay, she’s my new hero.

Some jackass took a photo of her and posted it on Reddit in order to mock her appearance. A friend saw it & told her about it. So Ms. Kaur wrote to the jerk:

“Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn’t know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled 🙂 However, I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am. Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn’t important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. 🙂 So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I’ve gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. 🙂 I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.

The bold is mine.

And that is just too amazingly cool. I wish I had half the nerve, the confidence. I never even found out how much facial hair I might have been able to grow, and now I kind of wish I had. That said, I’m gonna guess she might have PCOS too, in which case she should be careful about being pre-diabetic.

But damn.

The cooler thing still is that the jerk who posted it actually had his opinion changed and apologized for being an asshole. And now, if you really need to, you can go look at the photo.

(via Jezebel.)

The Task Force is Hiring

A search has just been launched to fill two key permanent full time positions here at the Task Force: HR Director & Board Liaison. Will you please forward this link and the attached job descriptions to people you know over the next 3 days? It sounds like applications will begin being reviewed next week.

The Task Force is an equal opportunity employer. Women, transgender people, and people of color are especially encouraged to apply. The Trans Audit Committee, which I’m a part of, would love to see a pool of gender non-conforming and transgender candidates applying for these jobs. For your information, in addition to our general benefits package for full time employees, The Task Force also offers a health supplement for gender identity-related care.

The functions of these positions are very important to executing the mission of the Task Force. We will be working expeditiously to fill them. Here is a little more about each job:

Human Resources Director

The Human Resources Director is responsible for all aspects of human resources, including the Task Force’s programs for recruiting, orientation, workplace training, and staff performance evaluation.

Executive office Board Liaison

The Executive Office Board Liaison serves as the primary staff support to the boards of directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund. Continue reading “The Task Force is Hiring”

GLBT Partnership: Appleton, WI

We recently went to the 15th anniversary celebration of the local GLBT Partnership here in Appleton. It’s an amazing thing, really: a small group of people decided to create a safe space for LGBTQ teenagers here in the Fox Valley in 1997 because there were no existing support groups or safe gathering places for them.


They still struggle for funding, so if you want to help out queer youth who actually need the help – and are living in a place that isn’t very queer friendly – this is a great way to do it. You have to go to this PayPal account – under SKenevan’s name – and in the memo line indicate that it’s for the GLBT Partnership. Honestly: this group is tiny and very, very necessary. (Feel free to tell them I sent you if you do donate!)

One of the group’s founding members, Shannon Kenevan, who was honored at the celebration, wrote this piece about the group:

The Fox Valley GLBT Partnership is turning 15 years old this fall. For those of you under age 30, you probably don’t remember a time in your life that the Partnership did not exist. It’s always been there to offer weekly support and leadership development to youth ages 14-18 who identify as LGBTQ, as well awareness and educational programs for the rest of our community. Those over age 30 may remember back to their teenage years when there were no groups like the Partnership. Continue reading “GLBT Partnership: Appleton, WI”

What Got Eugene Debs Arrested

Actor Mark Ruffalo delivers the speech that sent presidential candidate Eugene Debs to jail for 10 years. He knew they’d arrest him if he gave it, and he gave it anyway. It was 1918. Two years later he would run for president again, but that last time, from jail. He got nearly a million votes, too. He was a Socialist.

He’s one of my heroes. This C-SPAN bit is good, but I prefer books, anyway, and liked Salvatore’s biographySalvatore’s biography, although his own writings are great, too. And, um, might be useful for those who keep using “socialist” to describe Obama’s presidency.

Race & Gender & Life Expectancy

So this is shocking news: whites who don’t graduate high school have a life expectancy that’s four years shorter than it used to be. And look at this:

In 2010, American women fell to 41st place, down from 14th place in 1985, in the United Nations rankings. Among developed countries, American women sank from the middle of the pack in 1970 to last place in 2010, according to the Human Mortality Database.

Uneducated white women are now living not even as long as black women with the same lack of education. That is honestly shocking. The life expectancy of uneducated black women has always been horrible, but now even more women are dying at the same rates.

But then there’s this guy:

“There’s this enormous issue of why,” said David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard who was an author of a 2008 paper that found modest declines in life expectancy for less educated white women from 1981 to 2000. “It’s very puzzling and we don’t have a great explanation.”

Um, what? Bad health care, single parenting with little to no safety net (which can cause more stress), substance abuse (especially of prescription drugs and cigarettes), sexual violence… is this really hard to work out?

The one good part, I suppose, is that the percentage of everyone without high school diplomas is down from 22% to 12%.

So much for feminism being redundant in America, eh?

Keeping Up with Buck

I’ve always been a fan of Buck Angel’s – because he comes from an industry where genitals couldn’t be more important (porn) and yet he managed to make having a vagina work, and that as a person who is undoubtedly male. He also did the first trans-on-trans porn, with Alannah Starr, waaaaay back in 2005, and taught an entire porn crew how not to stutter when saying “her penis” and “his vagina”.

But the cool thing is that he’s now decided to do sex ed, as because he’s retiring from porn. Do also check out this interview with him by Tristan Taormino. Right now he’s down at Southern Comfort (oh, the irony of the name for a trans man with a famous vagina) which happens this fall weekend annually.

Trans Students’ Resource

NCTE has created a website so that college students can share information about how trans-friendly or transphobic a given college or community is. Along with the launch of this new resource, there’s a document so that trans students can know what their rights are.

How very very cool: it’s at

Jesus & Mary Chain.

I’m going to see them tonight in Madison, the coolest band that ever was. I saw their first gig in NYC a hundred years ago (or so) and am thrilled to see them again. I’ve only become a bigger fan over the years.

Here’s a bunch of their other music.

Gaga Feminism Blog Tour

J. Jack Halberstam’s new book, Gaga Feminism, is out, and it is a fascinating read; I highly recommend it. For those of you who are turned off my academic writing but like gender theory, give this a try. It’s funny, first of all, but it’s also the kind of book that leads you to think in new ways and to ask new questions. I had a revelatory moment thinking about the inter-generational quality of queer culture, and honestly, that’s only mentioned in passing. This one sends off really useful sparks.

I asked the author to comment the intersection of basic legislative issues that have been in the news – saying “vagina” in the state house, “legitimate rape”, issues of choice/abortion, etc., in the context of gaga feminism, and here is Halberstam’s response:

When did “vagina” suddenly become a fashionable term? First Lisa Brown, a state representative for Michigan, shocked her Republican colleagues when she used the word “vagina” to try to debate anti-choice legislation in her county. When Brown and another colleague were silenced for supposedly turning a polite conversation into one lacking in decorum, Eve Ensler pulled into town to save the town with another long speech on vaginas – The Vagina Monologues!! Meanwhile, Republicans got into their own hot water while debating vaginas – Republican Rep. Todd Akin called upon an apparently vast and deep reservoir of knowledge about the female body and its reproductive potential when, in defense of his indefensible position that rape victims should not have access to abortion, he suggested that in a “legitimate” rape, the female body would mysteriously reject the offensive sperm and protect itself from pregnancy. And then of course, feminist writer Naomi Wolf put out her own take on the suddenly hot topic and provided us with a “biography” of the vagina.

Wow! How to make sense of all these vaginas, some of them with brains (Wolf), some of them with primal prophylactic powers (Akin), some of them with so much to say (Ensler). In my new book, Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender and the End of Normal, I do not use the word vagina at all! Instead of pitting bodies with vaginas against bodies with penises, I argue that we are living in a new world where the categories of male and female are rapidly being updated all around us. In this world of sperm banks, IVF, queer families, butch daddies, transgender men and women, heteroflexible women, pretending to be offended by the use of the word “vagina” in a public speech or making insupportable claims about rape and pregnancy are not just quaint and old-fashioned, they signal a deep ignorance about the world we live in and the enormous changes that have taken place within it in the last two decades. So rather than making the vagina talk back to the idiocy of Christian or Republican hypocrisy by giving it a biography or a monologue, it is time to move on from simple, genital genders and start actually engaging the many forms of gendered embodiment that are moving us out of the age of normativity and into a new era of going gaga!

The next stop on the tour is at Queer Fat Femme, who is generally and specifically amazing, so do go check that out.

WI Court Refuses Domestic Partner Case

The Wisconsin State Supreme Court today refused the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ request to certify the domestic partnership case. I’m working on getting more info, but in the meantime, the short motion is available online .

Red Durkin: Questions for Cis People

I found this a while back but realized recently I never put it on my blog, where it deserves to be.

Durkin also writes for Pretty Queer, which is a damned good little publication.


Just go ahead & bite me if you have a problem with NYC being the best place in the world.

(Thanks to my colleague Monica Rico for the suggestion.)

Wendy Carlos at the DNC?

A reader sent this along:

Didn’t Wendy Carlos (Switched on Bach, The Well Tempered Synthesizer, A Clockwork Orange, etc.) sing / preform the National Anthem at a DNC? I think it was one of the Jimmy Carter Conventions which would be 1980 or 84. There was a bit of an uproar since the Convention Program listed . . . her former first name . . . but out came Wendy.

Can anyone confirm this?

Trans Delegates at the LGBT Caucus

This is too cool. Historically cool.

That said, one of my readers has pointed out that a trans person served as a delegate as early as 1968. After that, not until 2002 (as far as I know). And now: 14.

And one delegate is from Wisconsin, even.

President Obama’s Accomplishments for Transgender Americans

President Obama’s Accomplishments for Transgender Americans is a new document (pdf) that you can download to print or send to your friends & family.

In honor of these accomplishments & to celebrate President Obama’s speech tonight, do consider donating to his campaign.

President Obama has taken unprecedented steps to expand rights, benefits, and resources for transgender people. From jobs and health care to veterans’ benefits and safer working, learning and traveling environments, the well-being of transgender Americans has been a priority of this Administration.


  • On October 28, 2009, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, making it a federal crime to assault another individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the first time gender identity has been protected by federal law.
  • Obama Administration Officials have collaborated with transgender advocates to discuss strategies to prevent bullying and end gender-based violence.
  • The State Department now includes an evaluation of the state of LGBT citizens in its annual country reports, in order to better identify abuses, state-sanctioned homophobia and transphobia overseas.


  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission clarified that Title VII sex discrimination law covers transgender workers.
  • The Obama Administration ended the Social Security Administration’s gender “no-match” letters, helping to protect the privacy of transgender workers.
  • President Obama sent the first U.S. Executive Branch official to testify before Congress in support of the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • President Obama banned employment discrimination based on gender identity in the federal government.
  • President Obama‘s Office of Personnel Management produced and distributed guidance to promote safer federal working environments for transgender employees.


  • President Obama worked with educators across the nation to prevent bullying and his Department of Education clarified that laws enforced by the department include protections against gender and sexual harassment of transgender students.
  • President Obama’s Secretary Of Education reaffirmed federal support of young people forming Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) under the Equal Access Act.


  • The Department Of Health and Human Services confirmed that federal health care programs and those receiving federal funds are barred from discriminating against transgender people.
  • President Obama required all hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds to recognize a patient’s designated partner, both for hospital visitation and decision-making rights, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is collecting health data on LGBT populations in an effort to help researchers, policy makers, health care providers, and advocates identify and work to reduce health disparities in the community.
  • Under President Obama’s leadership, the Veterans Health Administration established policy to ensure comprehensive and respectful health care to the transgender and intersex Veterans enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system or who are otherwise eligible for VA care.
  • The Veterans Health Administration now allows transgender veterans to update their medical records according to their gender identity.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced grant opportunities to address HIV health care quality specifically for transgender women of color, a demographic disproportionately limited by quality care.
  • The Affordable Care Act bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity in operating insurance exchanges.


  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced new anti-discrimination rules in federally funded housing prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • HUD’s Live Free fair housing education and outreach campaign specifically targeted the transgender community, to inform them of their resources and rights to report discrimination.
  • The Obama Administration has set a goal of ending youth homelessness, including LGBT youth homelessness, by 2020, and has awarded a $3.3 million grant to the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center to begin to address LGBT youth homelessness.


  • The State Department now allows transgender Americans to update their passport gender markers without requiring invasive medical procedures.
  • The Obama Administration updated the nation’s immigration procedures to allow transgender people to update and record their gender on immigration documents without being required to undergo invasive medical procedures.


  • President Obama appointed three openly transgender people to serve in his administration, making him the first president ever to do so.
  • The U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan became the first U.S. Cabinet Secretary to address a transgender-specific community event.