Me, Blogging, Not Really

I seem to be taking a break from blogging – an unintentional one. And I expect that the minute I announce this, and apologize, I will be overrun with the need to blog.

Or not.

Stay tuned.

Welcome Back Lawrentians

Students are back, and the incoming class (of 2018) has moved in. Lawrence starts another fall term tomorrow.

& Really, it is always nice when the campus goes from being a ghost town to feeling vibrant and busy again.

I hope we all have an amazing, productive, fun year.


I don’t like this “never forget” business.
As if forgetting were possible.
Sounds like a desire for vengeance trussed up as memory and nationalism.
We don’t forget. Can’t.

I think this is more of what we forget – the stunning beauty of that view:

World Trade Center 1 in New York City

And how goddamn beautiful is that? I get a little high just looking at that clip, remembering what it was like to sit on those metal steps a hundred floors above the ground and look down between my feet through glass, to lean my head on the glass just lightly, to feel the cool of it against my skin as everything spun a little with vertigo. It was an amazing thing. I used to go there sometimes just to sit, right there in the clouds, higher than most birds even flew, like Jack on a concrete beanstalk.

What we forget is that we, as humans, are capable of doing things for the sheer fucking beauty of them, for the joy, for the accomplishment, for the divine, for the proof that despite what we believe, impossible things are possible. We do things to feel like we are the stuff of dreams, that we invent our own restrictions with fear and no magic. That observation deck was magic. It was hard to even feel like there was a building under you when you were up there because you couldn’t see any of the thing, like you were standing on a floor that was magically staying aloft. In a good wind the buildings would “sway back and forth up to 12 inches at the top.” So you really could move a foot in the air just standing up there.

Or, as John Dos Passos once wrote about New York City: “This city is full of people wanting inconceivable things. Look at it.” But they say no one reads him anymore. Well, they should. & Manhattan Transfer, where that quote is from, is a good enough place to start.

Remember the beauty, the aspiration, the dreamers, the sinners. That’s the stuff terror wants us to forget.

New York Article on Martine Rothblatt

So this is the cover of this week’s New York magazine about CEO Martine Rothblatt: her in a masculine suit, shoes, even a blue button down, hair pulled back. What’s more interesting is that she was not “butched up” for this shot but defines herself as not binary, and has echoed a lot of genderqueer sentiment:

Hence, the legal division of people into males and females is as wrong as the legal division of people into black and white races.” Instead, she suggested people might better express their gender and sexual identities on a spectrum…

Because of course this woman is someone who was declared male at birth. And the whole “used to be a man” phrase is getting old and even, I’d argue, a little passe. For someone like Rothblatt, who did spend a considerable number of years in the world as a man, that point might be relevant. Relevant why? Because there is such a death of female CEOs and even the ones there are don’t get paid nearly as much as the male ones. From the aricle:

On a recent list of America’s 200 highest-paid CEOs, only 11 were women, and their median pay was $1.6 million less than their male peers.

So yes, there’s even income inequality at the very highest levels of pay. She is also still married to her wife of 33 years who stayed with her through transition and describes herself as “Martine-sexual” (which sounds amazingly familiar, as I used “bettysexual” forever & ever). Here’s a bit I found amazing, and it’s kind of tossed off in the telling of the story of how Rothblatt came to create her company:

Raising money from her friends was easy. Martine’s transgendered status may even have been an asset, for it burnished her status as self-made, a pioneer.

And I just LOVE that, the idea (finally!) that trans is perhaps an ASSET, that it implies an individual’s ability not just to be self-made, but to be determined. Overall, interesting article about a highly eccentric person – eccentric because she’s rich, natch – and some passing mention of cyborgs and AI and the robot she made of her wife.

Death of a Child

Don’t look away and don’t stop reading.

Another child this year has been abused and ultimately killed for being himself. His parents thought he was gay. He did play with dolls. So his parents beat him to death and tortured him for a long while before that.

Before 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez was allegedly beaten to death by his mother and her boyfriend, they doused him with pepper spray, forced him to eat his own vomit and locked him in a cabinet with a sock stuffed in his mouth to muffle his screams, according to court records made public Monday. . .  Fernandez and Aguirre deliberately tortured the boy to death, hiding their tracks with forged doctor’s notes and lies to authorities, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jonathan Hatami told the grand jury. “For eight straight months, he was abused, beaten and tortured more severely than many prisoners of war,” Hatami said. The abuse worsened in the months leading up to Gabriel’s death, according to testimony from two of his siblings, both of whom are minors. They said Gabriel was forced to eat cat feces, rotten spinach and his own vomit. He slept in a locked cabinet and wasn’t let out to go to the bathroom. Fernandez and Aguirre called Gabriel gay, punished him when he played with dolls and forced him to wear girls’ clothes to school, the siblings said.

Doused him with pepper spray.

Forced him to eat his own vomit.

These aren’t sane people. But the horrifying thing to me is that since I have been paying attention, which is now more than a decade, there has been at least one story like this a year, if not more than one. That is, Gabriel’s story is not an anomaly. It’s a fact — a fact of a homophobic, transphobic culture. In the ellipses above, here’s the text that originally appeared:

Sworn grand jury testimony provided a graphic examination of the abuse that the Antelope Valley boy allegedly suffered before his death in May of 2013. The incident prompted calls for sweeping reforms to the troubled Los Angeles County foster-care system because child welfare workers failed to remove the boy. Officials have taken steps to fire two social workers and two supervisors, while others involved in the case received letters of warning or reprimand.

And yes, people should be fired for failing to save this child, and the parents should be punished for first-degree murder — no one can argue that their intentions weren’t obvious, planned, and carried through — but in the meantime, how do we save a culture that is this depraved, this homophobic, this transphobic?

We saw a young man get beaten on video by his family last week – and while that story has had a good turn, and I’m happy to see it – the violence and hatred expressed by his family is exactly the same hatred that killed this child.

So what’s to be done? I actually worried about putting up the video link last week, knowing how many of my friends and readers have had to face these kinds of responses from parents and friends and family. For some it never becomes physically violence, but the outright rejection and hatred can be just as intense.

I don’t really know what the solution is, but here’s one thing I’m going to say: this is where all the sentimental grandstanding about how much some people SAY they love the children and care for children and want the best for children find themselves coughing up their sleeves. Maybe spend a few minutes less worried about gay marriage and much, much more about sickening child abuse. And every time you hear a joke about someone not being man enough? Remember this child, and  that he maybe wouldn’t be dead if someone who knew his parents had argued with them more about their bullshit.


So this is a really cool thing: HuffPo asked people to upload photos of their trans selves with the hashtag #WhatTransLooksLike and they’ve got a ton of them up.

Here’s a single image of 400 of these photos.

It’s the kind of project I wish I’d thought of myself: I have had the amazing luck to meet more trans people than most, & I’ve often thought that if most people met more trans people, they would be as engaged in fighting for trans rights as I am. Do look at these faces – all of this beauty & self respect & pride & cool. How could you not?