Working Women

This is my grandma. She was a janitor for a building in midtown, a proud 32 B/J union member, a single mom, and a survivor of domestic violence. The only day she called in sick to work was the day my sister Kathy graduated from NYU because she was the first in our family to do so.

My mother worked as a bank teller, as a cashier, in my sister’s bakery, all while raising 6 children and a grandchild. I don’t remember her ever sitting down when I was a child.

My eldest sister was the first professional woman I knew. She used to come home and hang her dry cleaning in the front hall, and those clothes always seemed to me like a passport out of the shitty part-time jobs the women in my family often had. She has supported nearly every single member of my family financially at one time or another.

My second sister owned her own bakery – working there was my part time job through high school and into college – and went on to get numerous degrees and just returned, at 53, to law school. She raised three kids solo, and now she specializes in disability rights.

My first jobs were babysitting, a newspaper route – I was one of only two girls who delivered papers, a baker’s assistant, a video store clerk, a writing tutor, a canvasser for environmental/consumer legislation, an admin, and now, an educator.

We have never been paid a dollar for a dollar’s work. 

To the working class women in my family, and in my world: thank you.

 

 

 

Dandara dos Santos, Or, Why I Don’t Quit

A former student expressed some fatigue and frustration on FB today while they were once again explaining how binary gender is a social construction. I said: try doing it for another 25 years.

It’s two decades nearly doing trans work for me, but almost 30 as a feminist.

Around the same time, a video of a trans woman (TW, please don’t watch it but do read the story) being savagely beaten while her attackers laughed was also making the rounds.

Dandara dos Santos was dragged from her home and dumped in a wheelbarrow before being rolled to a back alley and beaten to death amid cheers and laughter.”

And that’s why. I don’t know how anyone can read that sentence and ever, ever stop trying to educate people. It’s the least I can do.

Rest in peace, Dandara dos Santos. May your attackers rot in jail, may your family find peace, and may whatever divinity you believed in welcome you home.

Int’l Women’s Day Teach In at Lawrence

Just as with February 17th, when a National Strike was called, tomorrow is the Day Without A Woman. A few of my colleagues and I agreed that education is more in our wheelhouse, so we created a day-long Teach In that includes members of our community, faculty, students, and staff doing presentations on various aspects of women’s political issues.

 

So pleased. If you’re in the Appleton area, this event is open to the public.

WI State Detransitioning Trans Employees

Imagine, married folks, how it would feel if you got a cheery email from your university or from the state you live in telling you that due to some clerical reorganization, you and your spouse, and all married people in the state, had been re-set in their files to SINGLE and that, in order to be reclassified again as married, you had to provide documentation of your marriage as well as scientific evidence, say DNA, to prove you aren’t related.

IMAGINE.

That’s exactly what the state of Wisconsin is currently doing to trans state employees: reverting their gender markers to the gender they were assigned at birth and asking for “additional documentation” to change the gender marker back.

Cary Gabriel Costello, who works at UW Milwaukee, just got that email. You can read Costello’s description of this event on his blog TransFusion.

This is happening to people who have ALREADY transitioned, who have legally been their gender for years, and who had been entirely accepted as that gender legally, professionally, and medically. ETF is requiring them to do three things:

1 – The employee must notify ETF (Employee Trust Fund, the state’s administrative board) directly, providing their old and new names, old and new gender markers, ETF ID number, and a declaration that they are gender transitioning. (Previously, employees notified HR at their place of employment, and employer HR staff changed the gender marker directly in the benefits system. But now ETF will centralize control over implementing transitions, and maintain a database of gender transitioners. In essence, we are being required to register with the state.)

2 – Trans people are required to provide “proof of identity,” such as a driver’s license or military ID showing the new name and gender marker. (This is the easiest one for people who have already transitioned.)

3 – Trans people must produce “proof of gender.” These options include (a) a correctly gendered passport, (b) a court order – often requiring proof of genital surgery, such as in WI, or (c) a birth certificate which is correctly gendered.

THIS IS NUTS, folks. It’s creepy, it’s the worst governmental intrusion, and it’s turning the clock back on trans rights and identity a decade.

Please stay informed. As I know more, you will too.

Crossdressers on NPR

It’s so rare to see a good story about crossdresser culture these days, but Veronica Vera, as ever, leads the way in this story from NPR.

I love that there’s a wife interviewed as well:

In fact, Pat came to Miss Vera’s Finishing School with the support of his wife of 15 years. She asked that we refer to her by her middle name, Leigh — because she too is concerned about potential scorn. Leigh says she sees how becoming Bianca lifts the weight of the world off her husband’s shoulders.

“It’s definitely a stress release for him,” she says. “It definitely helps him have more balance in his life. And all of that is good. It’s good for me as his wife. It’s good for my children.”

Leigh says she’s more concerned about her husband being judged than being judged herself.

She uses her middle name – which is precisely how I became Helen back in the day.

This Is Compassion: Hansen Unplugged

What a remarkable thing: compassion without understanding, without needing an explanation, without fear. Just one man, looking at the situation, and trying to see this young man for who he is while also seeing how unfair it is for the young women he was forced to compete against.

But the way it ends is so simply put, so kind:

But Mack Beggs is not the problem so many people make him out to be. He’s a child simply looking for his place in the world, and a chance to compete in the world.

Do we really not have the simple decency to allow him at least that? Because it seems to me it’s the very least we can do.

Here’s the full transcript:

I would have thought in 2017 – or maybe I just hoped in 2017 – we would be done arguing about birth certificates… but obviously we’re not.

Seventeen-year old Mack Beggs, a junior at Euless Trinity who was born a girl and is now in the process of becoming a boy, wins the girls’ state wrestling tournament Saturday. So the argument has started again.

Mack wanted to wrestle against the boys. The UIL says he had to wrestle the girls. And that’s not fair for anybody involved in this argument.

Mack has been taking testosterone and it shows. There’s a reason we have rules in sports against steroids, and it was an incredibly unfair advantage for him. It was also unfair to the girls who had to wrestle him.

The question is, “When does a girl become a boy, and when does a boy become a girl?” or “When can you play games against those you identify with and not what a piece of paper says you are?”

That answer is way above my pay grade. But someone has to find a better answer than what we’re being given now.

As I said when I wrote about Missouri football player Michael Sam, I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay. I don’t understand his world. But I do understand he’s a part of mine. And I am saying the same thing now about Mack Beggs.

Transitioning is a struggle I cannot imagine. It is a journey I could not make… and it is a life that too many cannot live.

The problems that Mack Beggs is facing and dealing with now remind me again that I don’t have any problems. He needs our support, and he does not need a group of old men in Austin telling him who to wrestle because of a genetic mix-up at birth.

We have argued long enough about birth certificates. It’s an argument that needs to end. You don’t have to understand – I myself don’t understand. But Mack Beggs is not the problem so many people make him out to be. He’s a child simply looking for his place in the world, and a chance to compete in the world.

Do we really not have the simple decency to allow him at least that? Because it seems to me it’s the very least we can do.

More of this.

Hold Tight

I am not sure straight folks even know how often we do this when we don’t feel safe.