The Return of The December Project

This year, because US politics have become so acrimonious, we decided to bring back The December Project – the brainchild of Jenny Boylan, who understood how many of us are lonely and hurting during the holiday season.

Privately and locally, Dylan Scholinski and I have both continued to make ourselves available to trans community folks who need someone to talk to, even if it’s just someone to say “Merry Christmas” or to listen.

So here’s how it works: you email me (helenboyd@myhusbandbetty.com) or Dylan (sentamentalistudios@gmail.com) with a little bit about yourself and we will write you back and arrange a time to call and talk.

Important things:

    1. We do this because we do.
    2. No one is making any money.
    3. Your information will remain with us. Everything you say to us is confidential.
    4. We are not trained counselors. We are just friendly people who like to meet new people and to listen and who will judge nothing about you – not your identity, your sexuality, or anything else.
    5. If you are suicidal, we ask instead that you call a suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
    6. Trans LifeLine is of course also always available (& we are so thankful for them): 877-565-8860.
    7. There are also moms who are willing to be your mom for the holidays. You can find these lovely folks here: http://www.yourholidaymom.com/

Stay well out there.

Punching Back

The DOJ reversal is a punch in the gut for trans people, so if you know any, please be nice to them today / this week & make sure they’re managing.

Whether this action is legal or not, the message just sent from the White House is that trans people don’t matter.

& they do, they do, YOU DO.

NCTE & TLDEF are already preparing to take the DOJ to court over this, but in the meantime, NCTE’s Mara Keisling adds:

We’ll take more punches like this before this is through, but it will end and we will prevail. And remember, this disgraceful administration cannot change the law. They can only refuse to do their jobs and enforce the law. The law still protects us. And we will win this guidance and regulations and memos all back in a few years. It hurts, and we’ll need to fight together, but we will win.

And she’s right, we will. Stay strong, folks, as I’m sure there is more bad news coming and it seems the RP has decided that trans people are a soft target, which is both despicable and mean.

If you voted for these monsters, shame on you.

Serano on Free Speech and the Limits of Tolerance

As ever, Julia Serano with a remarkably clear-eyed piece on the limits of tolerance and the underlying power structures and cultural context.

I loved this especially:

“But what about the suppression of my speech as a young trans person? Back then, trans people had some allies, to be sure, but they (like us) constituted a tiny minority of the population. And I can tell you first hand that the “more speech” strategy actually does far more harm than good when greater numbers of people hate your minority group than accept you. In such cases, calls for “more speech” simply enable and promote hate speech against you, rather than mitigating it.”

Which is a point I have had to make over and over again, as one of that “tiny minority” – at any given point in time, there is a person who can defend a said group or idea against another 10,000 who condemn it and an additional 10,000 who agree with the ideas but can’t argue them effectively. This has been the case for trans rights for decades now — so much so that I’m often happily surprised now when I see other cis people who are able and willing to make these points so I don’t have to anymore.

Paisley Currah on the WH’s Rescinding of LGBTQ Protections

from Paisley Currah, in response to the news that the WH is looking to remove LGBTQ protections from healthcare:

“Don’t believe everything you read about the Trump’s administration’s inability to govern. In the regulatory arena, Trump is really getting things done–look what’s happening at the EPA. There’s also Sessions’ stated intention of ending the Justice Department’s oversight of post-Ferguson reforms regarding excessive fines and fees. When it comes to trans people, they are viciously efficient. They’ve rescinded the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance on trans students. Trump tweeted that the Defense Department’s policy on trans service members would be reversed. And now they’re planning to get rid of rules–of critical importance to trans people–that ban discrimination based on gender identity under the Affordable Health Care Act. The Justice Department is also deciding whether or not to support Obama-era rules that used the Prison Rape Elimination Act to protect transgender prisoners from violence. And there’s still a bunch more policy changes out there awaiting the eye of Sauron. Trump/Pence have 3.5 more years to do a lot of damage.’

Corden’s Sweet, Kind Song

There is something so gentle and sweet about this it’s making everyone cry today. Things like this, you just can’t imagine how much they mean.

Dire Predictions

I’ve been sitting on this article for a day or two because it honestly depressed the shit out of me, so if you’re feeling especially overwhelmed by the grief and dread of the political landscape right now, you might want to put this aside for when you’ve got more fight in you.

Briefly, it’s an argument that the appointment of Gorsuch – and the likeliness that Kennedy or Ginsberg will retire – and what a Gorsuch Court (ugh, those words) will mean for LGBTQ rights.

In a nutshell: an ongoing onslaught of cases that will interpret any big wins for gay rights in the narrowest ways as possible – such as what just happened in Texas – with a simultaneous liberal (by which I mean generous) interpretation of the RFRA which will keep states, employers, and cities from enforcing non discrimination rulings because a religious person’s right to discriminate – against women who get abortions or go on birth control, against gay people, trans people, etc. – will be upheld instead.

It’s all depressing AF.

But that, combined with Jamelle Bouie’s recent piece on how this wished-for impeachment will do us little good, tells us something slightly less pessimistic: we are going to fight on every small stage we can. It will change the look and the landscape of LGBTQ politics, and women’s politics, as the intended result of current Republican rule is to disappear both national identity and so called “big government”.

So the one thing I have to ask myself, and ask others who are like me, is that we have got to snap the fuck out of it. I’ve been walking around in a haze for months, feeling like I’m in a dreadful and unsought alternate reality. Honestly, I’ve even been watching Star Trek because they always seem to find a way out of theirs. But this new reality is not going away. People aren’t going to eventually just “be okay” with gay people and trans people or with women’s rights.

White capitalist supremacist patriarchy is baring its teeth all over the country in small and violent ways, and we know it is.

We are going to have to demand that our good liberal friends radicalize, and fast. We are going to need people who are made of steel to help create safe places and welcoming communities in small ways all over this country.

Ultimately, there is this: we have not entirely undone all the cultural work that was done. People are still far more accepting of LGBTQ lives than they were before Obama’s presidency, and far far more than they were before Clinton’s. That is, for those who have lived through it, this will not be worse. It will be what we already knew and what we fought hard to change.

But for younger people, who dream of a new and different world where everyone has autonomy and respect from others, this is going to be challenging. What I need to say to them – and what we need to keep saying – is that we have done this before and we can do it again. We had joy and beauty and celebration the whole time. But we have got to stop blaming millennials for everything, and we have to get the Boomers to care as much as they did before they had houses and 401k plans. (Gen X will keep doing what we’ve always been doing, sighing and slogging through.) We need to find ways to work together.

I have not yet decided where to direct my own efforts but I do know that I am done feeling sad and angry and now I just want to get to work. Join me.

 

We Remember You

A year ago these 49 people – most of them Hispanic – lost their lives for being in a gay dance club in Orlando.

We remember you and celebrate your lives.

(courtesy Our Lives magazine out of Madison, WI)

Guest Post by Patrick Califia

Patrick Califia posted this yesterday on Facebook, and I thought it was vital to share.

I did something today that was really important. It was embarrassing, stressful, maybe even traumatic. But it was still very important for me to make sure that I showed up so that it could happen. And I want to urge ALL of my friends who share some of my anatomy to listen to what I have to say about it.
I’m talking about getting a Pap smear.

I’ve been going to get these damn tests ever since I had access to medical care, sometime in my twenties. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, being visible as a dyke meant that I got universally shitty treatment from doctors. For some reason, gynecologists were the worst. It didn’t matter if they were men or women, either. Female doctors seemed to feel that they had to be as homophobic and mean as their male counterparts to prove they belonged in the boys’ club of medicine.

Josephine Butler referred to the speculum as “an iron penis.” She was a Victorian feminist who agitated against laws that allowed the police to confine women under suspicion of prostitution and keep them confined indefinitely. Women arrested under these laws were subjected to pelvic exams, often with dirty speculums that might have transmitted the very diseases they were accused of harboring. At the time, diagnosis of a “venereal disease” was not accurate, and there was no treatment for syphilis or gonorrhea–unless you count taking compounds made from mercury that could be life-threatening. She succeeded in arousing working-class men to support a women’s cause by using this kind of colorful rhetoric.

Today, speculums (the medical instrument that allows a doctor to open and look inside a vagina or rectum) are made out of plastic. My doctor today showed me how she could insert a flashlight into the one she was using, to illuminate my cervix. She made sure to use the smallest one that would do the job. She told me what was going to happen before she touched me, and there was no unnecessary probing or infliction of pain. I find the test painful anyway just because I don’t like it, and when the long Q-tip is taking a tissue sample from the os or opening of the cervix, it makes me feel sick to my stomach, it hurts that much.

It is even painful for me to write about my own anatomy. I don’t like the fact that I have these internal organs. I have never wanted to have this anatomy. It messes with my sense of my own gender to know that there are unwanted, female organs inside of my body. I am concerned by how many of my readers will be disgusted with me for talking about them, or see me as less of a man because I am being open about possessing them.

Still, this is my body. My body that gives me pain every day from fibromyalgia. But my body has also been with me through every part of my life, and it has never let me down. My body survived being hungry during childhood, and being abused. It survived years of queer-bashing, awful underpaind jobs, poor housing, and street harassment. My body has taken me on amazing journeys outside of the United States and within the realm of sexual exploration. My body has been like a wonderful machine, supporting my consciousness, always following my mind when it wanted to have a particular adventure. I love my body for being there for me no matter what illness, overwork, educational endeavor, or trip through the world of pleasure that befell me. I am so lucky to have a body inherited from strong people who basically walked across the United States so they could live out their religious principles. Nothing stopped them–not poverty, violent persecution, illness, malnutrition, and the crushing labor of establishing a new territory. (These people also did a lot of things I am ashamed of, but that is a topic for another article.)

How do you feel about your body? How far would you go to take care of your physical self, or what acts of gratitude would you commit to let your body know you feel grateful and loving toward your own flesh? That was what I did today.

Listen to me. Cervical cancer is an AWFUL disease. I watched my mother die of breast cancer because she found a lump in her breast and ignored it for ten years. Don’t let yourself contract a fatal disease that can be treated if it is detected early enough. That is what a Pap smear is for. It is to save your life. None of us–no matter how gender dysphoric we are–none of us deserve to have our lives shortened because we are different.

I have lost track of how many butch dykes, gender-queer people, and transmen I have taken for their first Pap smear. I have held people’s hands while they cried because they hated the test so much. I have gotten them high before the test and taken them home for consoling sex after it happened. I have listened to stories of childhood abuse so awful it would scorch your soul to listen to it. We are singled out for humiliation and mistreatment because people think if they break us or beat us down, we will stop trying to “act like men.” Of course, it doesn’t work, the only thing they can do is make us shut up about how we feel toward our own genders. We can never stop feeling the way that we do.

Coming out as a trans person was the hardest thing I have ever done. I felt more ashamed of myself for being trans than I had ever felt about being gay or even being a sadomasochist. I think in part this was because I could not explain WHY I felt this way. I had to confront a lot of negative messages I heard about myself as I was growing up to be able to replace that shame with pride and self-validation. it may seem ironic to you, but one of the ways I know that I was able to accept myself as a man and publicly come out as trans is the medical test I got today.

Maybe it took five minutes, maybe it was ten, I lost track of time. I disassociated. Writing about it now is one of the ways I can come back into my adult self and feel like I am okay in the present. Why would I encourage anybody else to go through something that was this upsetting?

Because I want you to save your own life.

Yes, it is that simple. Please save your own life. Okay, so you don’t feel happy or comfortable in the body that you got when you were born. I understand that. And, at the same time, if we are going to be activists for life, building community, that life needs to be as long as possible. Goddess knows that 80 or 100 years is not enough to shift public ignorance and malevolence toward sex- and gender-minority people. But in the 63 years I have been alive, I have seen HUGE social change. That is the reward of activism. You get to find out that standing up to “the system” works. So it’s worth it to stick around, my younger friends. It really is.

And if you need somebody to get you to the appointment, be your advocate while you get examined, and soothe your fears or your upset after it is over, you know how to find me. I care about how it feels to be violated by a medical procedure. But it’s worth it. Because none of us deserve to die in pain just because we are differently-gendered. Right, my brothers and non-sisters? Take care of the body that you live in now, because that body has been through a lot, and needs somebody (you) to be loving toward it.
Finally, I want to thank my doctor at Outside In for making this experience as simple and non-traumatic as possible. She is a saint as far as I am concerned. I look at her tired face and wonder how much human misery she witnesses every day, at a clinic that specializes in homeless people and trans folks. And so I think somebody should just tell her, job well done. You made it possible for me to do this, and I am so grateful to be touched by medical hands that are not full of hatred. Blessings upon you and your house.

You, Take Care

Hey, all. The news that’s coming down about what will probably happen tomorrow prompts me to write. Tomorrow may be a difficult day for many of us in the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s more likely that you’ve heard the new healthcare plan could define sexual assault, domestic violence, having had a c-section, and post-partum depression as pre existing conditions. Surprising to no one is that these pre existing conditions focus morbidly on women’s health. An insurance company could deny you coverage – not just a claim, COVERAGE.

What you may not have heard about is that that the “religious liberty” EO, which may or may not be like the draft we first saw in February, which will sanction discrimination against LGBTQ+ people if a person’s belief system warrants it, will be signed. (I can’t use his name.) I don’t really even know what that means but I do know it will be a dog whistle to all the haters out there. Keep yourselves safe. Keep track of each other. Know that you are loved and valuable and essential to the world.

Please don’t minimize what this means. Please don’t read sources that make your heart pound. Please do take some time out for yourself, play with pets, eat good food, listen to music, whatever it is you do to feel a little better and better loved and more centered in the world. BUT DEFINITELY CALL YOUR GODDAMN REPRESENTATIVES AND SAY NO.

 

Please call your representative bright and early tomorrow morning. (202) 224-3121, give the switchboard your zip code, and ask your representative to vote no on the AHCA and against the “Religious Freedom” EO.

Thursday will likely be a very hard day for LGBTQ+ people. Please don’t argue or minimize what this EO means. Please do tell us you love us. Please do call your reps and publicly state that you stand with LGBTQ people.

We are ready to fight, but we are also scared tonight. But we are, also, us = and as ever, full of fight and fear and love and steadfastness.  Love to each and every one of you.

 

A Tale of Two Americas

Two pieces of news. First, the Dems re-introduce the Equality Act:

Democrats including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer are gathering Tuesday morning at the Capitol’s Rayburn Room to announce the re-introduction of the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination nationwide….

… but VP Pence could be the only winner:

President Donald Trump has invited conservative leaders to the White House on Thursday for what they expect will be the ceremonial signing of a long-awaited—and highly controversial—executive order on religious liberty, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

(Please, if you haven’t sent a check to the ACLU recently, please do. They are our best bet to fight this hateful idea. )

I’m a little astonished at how we are so obviously, as a nation, going in two different directions at once. The basic rights that have not yet been granted to LGBTQ Americans are still up for argument.

Music: PWR BTTM

I can’t even with the news so here’s some music and cool lyrics. Sing along when the haters get you down.

[Verse 1]
There are men in every town who live to bring you down
Make themselves feel bigger making you feel small
My advice is to look incredible
As you make their lives regrettable by being your damn self
God, it’s so exhausting

[Chorus]
Curse that motherfucker who would spit upon another’s body
Who the hell gave you the right to tell me that I’m wrong
Curse every one of you who tells me that I cannot be who I want
Ain’t no fucking way you’ll fuck up my big beautiful day

[Verse 2]
There are men everywhere who cannot help but stare
When they see you ’cause they cannot understand
Within those men there are boys who have never had the choice
But to grow up and be scared to be your friend
Jesus Christ, let’s help them

[Chorus]
Curse that motherfucker who would spit upon another’s body
Who the hell gave you the right to tell me that I’m wrong
Curse every one of you who tells me that I cannot be who I want
Ain’t no fucking way you’ll fuck up my big beautiful day
My day

“I stand with trans people.”

I did a talk for Rainbow Over Wisconsin last night – a local org that helps fund LGBTQ projects in northeastern wisco. Here’s what I said.

Someone asked me recently why it is that gay people are so political, and I said, “you’re kidding, right?”

Our lives are legislated, our existence is debated, our relationships are suspect, and we are still, to this day, likely to drop our partner’s hand on the street, in bars; we worry about kissing each other on New Year’s Eve, and we have to prove ourselves before we are assumed to be good people, good parents, good teachers or lawyers or accountants. Every time some institution recognizes our worth – as the Supreme Court did a few years ago – a hundred objections are raised everywhere all over this country, saying we can’t be married, we can’t be good, we can’t be moral.

But we know that’s all wrong, that they don’t know us.

And they don’t. Those who do know us, support us. There are straight allies in this room no doubt, and in all of our lives: people who have seen what we are and who we are and support our right to exist, to thrive, to choose our families and professions, to walk home at night safely.

Right now we’re seeing those objections – that backlash – everywhere. And I worry mostly about what it means to be us.

The day after the election I had beautiful young queer kids come up and ask me if it might make more sense to be closeted. Worse yet, I said I didn’t know, that that was an individual choice, that if you feel scared, it’s okay to hide a little more.

But what’s funny is that my own impulse was to be more visibly queer, to be more out there, to not shut up. I feel like so many queer people I know have come to me quietly and said, “I’m just waiting for someone to say something” or that they are so tuned in to the sideways glances that they feel like they’re walking around with their fists clenched. My jaw some days is like a vise. A lot of us are feeling it – anger, but if not anger, rage. Sadness, exhaustion, fatigue. They keep trying, you know? To legislate bathrooms and “religious freedom” – by which they mean the legal right to discriminate against us, of course – and to make us feel as if expecting to be treated like a person, to not live in fear, is too big an ask, that we are somehow supposed to be grateful for being treated only a little like 2nd class citizens.

But it’s better now, right? Straight people tell me. For some of us, it is.

But we still stop holding hands when we walk down the street and see a stranger.

And you know? What we need to do is hold tighter, as a recent ad out of Australia put it. We need to hold hands more often, not less. We need bigger buttons, more rainbow flags, more trans pride, more bisexual visibility. We need more of us in the public sphere, not less.

Because when that student asked me that I remembered what it was like when I was 17, in 1986, when people were dying and queers were throwing bricks through Wall Street windows and putting red handprints all over New York City in order to make the point that the lack of funding, the lack of care, for those with HIV, was killing us, and that those who did nothing had blood on their hands.

We were so tentative then, and yet also so angry and so full of love for our communities.

[[ a little bit here about being liminally queer, being that girl in HS for the gay boys, the first days on Christopher Street even in the early 90s ]]

It’s what sustains us. We’re such an amazing group of people. The twinks and the bears and the softball lesbians and the butches and the queens and all of us. We have so many genders, so many versions of smart, so many kinds of fabulous, so much creativity and life and humor. We have so much to us, and a culture of living in the world and making things beautiful even while people hate us.

But what I worry about is who’s getting left behind. Queer identified youth are still getting kicked out of their homes. Trans youth are still being denied healthcare that enables them to be who they are. Trans women are still not getting jobs, they are still living on disability and hustling to pay the rent. Those of us who are gender-y get the cops called on us when we need to pee. I worry that those of us who have jobs, who are white, who have health insurance, and maybe a 401K, don’t remember how insecure life can be when you’re younger. We know that we’re here for them, but I worry that they don’t, and I worry, now that at long last we got to breathe a sigh of relief with Obergefell, that we forget all of the rest of us.

In gender studies, I often teach this idea of “asking the other question” – which means, simply, that we look at what’s not obvious. We see homophobia, say, but we have to ask too: what about racism? We see homophobia, but what about transphobia, misogyny, transmisogyny? Do we pay attention to the ways that those of us who have more intersections – more reasons for people to deny us jobs or housing or healthcare – manage to live? Do we know what life is like for a single black trans woman of color, at all?

I ask because I’ve been doing trans work for a very long time. Almost two decades. When the word transgender was barely a thing.

[[ more here about how I started to do this work, where we came from, what it was like, etc ]]

Now we see Laverne Cox and Janet Mock and Jazz Jennings – two of our most amazing trans women are women of color, I’d like to point out – and love that they can be who they are doing what they do. But trans women, you know, still die too much, and even when they live, they die too young. Trans kids who don’t have supportive families have a 41% risk of suicide. 41%. I have that number written on my bathroom mirror so I don’t forget it.

It’s hard to see sometimes because trans people seem to be made of steel. They amaze me regularly with their ability to hide their fear and their worries. But once gay marriage became a thing, and all those bathroom bans were proposed, I watched my beautiful wife go from being a huge, charismatic, creative, ridiculously flirtatious human being get kind of quiet. She didn’t say anything at first. But then we were in an airport in NY and there was a line for the ladies’ room and she came back to me paler than pale. They stared at me, she said. Like I wasn’t supposed to be there. That hasn’t happened in a long time. It hadn’t. But as I sat and held her hand while she calmed down, I looked up and noticed that in our little corner of the airport, many of the flights were headed to North Carolina. They were debating HB2 at the time and I knew that wasn’t a coincidence.

Let me drop some facts: trans women are women. Trans women do not assault people in bathrooms. This is not about women’s safety – hell, it’s not even about bathrooms. And trans people have been part of the LGBTQ community since the very beginning, and they worked with gays and lesbians on every major issue – marriage, HIV care, adoption, non discrimination laws – that we have fought for and won. Believe me, I can recommend books. Check out Susan Stryker’s Transgender History for starters. She’s a historian who ran the LGBTQ Archives in San Francisco for years, and she’s queer, too.

What is true is that, at that time, trans people hid themselves. They “woodworked” as it came to be called. They transitioned and moved sometimes clear across the country and started life again. So for decades, many of us doing this work didn’t know we knew trans people. We knew the visible ones, the drag queens that would go on to transition, the butches who did. But they were always with us, always fighting side by side, always working for laws that helped and communities that kept us as safe as we could be. Do you know Reed Erickson’s story? You should. He was a trans guy who funded most of the major research on gay and lesbian lives for decades. He inherited some money and he used it to create our history.

What about Lou Sullivan, who started FTM International, and who was one of the first gay identified trans men? Imagine the heat he took about being both trans and gay back in the 70s. He fought for a trans man’s right to transition despite being same sex attracted – which at the time was largely discouraged by medical gatekeepers – they didn’t want to create more gays and lesbians so they routinely turned down transitions for people who knew they would be once they transitioned – and he helped create the LGBT Historical Society. He died of AIDS in 91, and he grew up in Milwaukee. There’s a new book about him that just got published.

Sandy Stone helped start “women’s music” – by which I mean lesbian music – at Olivia Records.

Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson – the P is for ‘pay it no mind’ – a Latina and black woman – were at Stonewall and were reported to start the whole thing off. Holly Woodlawn – one of Warhol’s Factory – was there too.

Ben Barres is a neurobiologist who works for greater diversity – especially opportunity for women – in the sciences. He tells a story about how people still come up to tell him that his work is better than his sister’s, and is a champion for women’s intellectual prowess.

Phyllis Frye is the first out transgender judge appointed in Texas, and believe me she’s fighting SB6.

Alan Hart, Jamison Green, Sarah McBride, Miss Major, Monica Roberts, Riki Wilchins, Allyson Robsinson, the Wachowski sisters… do you know their names? Do you know how many trans people do the good work of increasing visibility for all LGBTQ Americans, not just the trans ones? How many make art for us, music, do research, run companies? There are so many. Some put in decades as gay or lesbian even before they transitioned, and their commitment to the whole of this community has never wavered, not for a minute. Not even when they’ve been told to stand down and step aside, not even when they were told to wait for their rights, that sexual orientation was a more pressing matter than gender.

It’s easier to see the entertainers, the actors and models and athletes, especially. And every year for Transgender Day of Remembrance we see how many trans lives have been cut short – how many die of murder, of the kinds of extreme violence that sicken you even to read about? It’s a necessity – we need to know that this kind of violence is still happening, all the time, around us, but it makes me sad that a lot gays and lesbians only know a list of the dead and … Catilyn Jenner. Because behind every single famous trans person there are hundreds of trans people living their lives, creating families, making a living. And some of the most confident of them are shaken right now by all of this backlash which is focused on them and them only.

So while you see trans people keeping it together, right now, they need all of us behind them. We need to have their backs. They need us to tell bullies where to shove it. They need bathrooms that are safe, schools that are safe, jobs that are safe. They need those of us in the LGB to get over it already. It’s not better for all of us yet. The rates of unemployment, violence, unequal education, all of it – are still very much an issue for trans people, and every time one of these damn bathroom laws gets proposed – there are a dozen in the works right now – beautiful, proud, gigantically queer and awesome women like my wife go quiet.

Which is, you know, why I get louder. Let’s all chime in. I support trans people.

The future is trans. The future is queer. The future is us.

Thank you.

Bad, Bad News from HHS

You know when a document is signed by a few of your favorite organizations (NCTE, the Task Force) you have to pay attention. Here are the highlights:

  • President Trump this week quietly appointed anti-LGBT extremist Roger Severino as Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS/OCR). 
  • He authored a report opposing OCR’s implementation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, and sex in federally funded health programs.
  • Severino has called the efforts of agencies such as OCR to protect transgender people from discrimination an “abuse of power” wielded “to coerce everyone…into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology.” 
  • Severino has falsely asserted that HHS’s 1557 rule “create[s] special privileges based on gender identity” that can “force doctors to perform sex-reassignment surgeries” even when they are not medically necessary.
  • Severino also strongly opposed HHS’s commonsense interpretation of Section 1557 to apply to discrimination related to pregnancy termination, including denying care to patients just because they have previously had an abortion.

Please read the whole thing. 

 

Hold Tight

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

Amicus Brief

A remarkable document, signed by 101 trans individuals – some celebrities (Jen Richards, Laverne Cox, Zachary Drucker, the Wachowski sisters), activists (Beck Bailey, Diego Sanchez, Jamison Green), professors (Ben Barres, Jenny Boylan, Paisley Currah), and lawyers (Zoe Dolan, Mik Kincaid, Jillian Weiss) – was filed today in favor of trans use of bathrooms re: Gavin Grimm’s SCOTUS case.

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
Bathroom restrictions are proxy battles for who is considered fully human. If you can’t use a public facility safely, how can you be an active member of the community? How can you be a citizen if the message of your own government is that you don’t belong? And what are you without community or citizenship? – Ms. Jen Richards, 40, Writer, Actress and Producer

Amici respectfully submit that the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals should be affirmed for the reasons set forth in the Brief for Respondent. Amici further submit this brief to highlight for the Court the perspectives and experiences of transgender individuals who are vulnerable to the pernicious effects of Petitioner’s proposed interpretation of Title IX. Amici offer their personal stories to illustrate that they, like other Americans, strive to contribute to their communities, raise healthy, loving families and succeed professionally. Amici also detail the support that they have received from their families, friends, schools and employers, which has helped them to achieve their full potential. Amici believe that their ability to contribute to society and lead lives of “equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 2608 (2015), would be upended by Petitioner’s interpretation of Title IX, which would humiliate and discriminate against them on the basis of sex.

It’s a remarkable document, worth reading in full.

When We Rise #whenwerise

You really should be watching this series.

It’s not perfect, but it’s really, really good, and gets at some of the ways life was.

You can watch the first two episodes online, and catch the third and fourth tonight and tomorrow.

It’s really what we all need right now: to see what resistance looks like, what it had to look like, and how people brought their best fight, their best selves, and found alliance even within communities that had a great deal to argue about amongst themselves. But moreso: things were just starting to really improve just at the moment when the horror that was the AIDS crisis hit. Sound familiar? It should. We’re living through a similar historic moment right now.

Trans Guidance Ruling: Actual Facts

While doing a short talk on 21st Century gender today, I felt I had to say something about the news that the WH will not be supporting trans students’ bathroom use.

Here’s a few things we know:

All of which, added up, means that this tiny, marginalized, misunderstood minority of trans people need safe access to bathrooms, that they need bathrooms to get an education, that there is little risk to cisgender students when trans students use the bathroom, and that this whole idea that this is about preventing violence against women or children is completely fucking ridiculous, unfounded, and frankly, insulting to every woman and every feminist and every survivor (including the male ones) of sexual violence in this goddamned country.

Here’s NCTE’s FAQ on what the withdrawal of guidance means.

Love to all the trans people out there. I’m with you.

WI LGBTQ Summit: 2/25 in Milwaukee

I’ll be doing a workshop at the Wisconsin LGBTQ Summit in Milwaukee on February 25th. My session description goes like so:

Trans Advocacy for Trans Families
As a non-trans trans advocate, Helen Boyd has been educating trans and non-trans people alike for many years on issues of concern to the trans community. Topics will include: Trans 101 education, political activism, community membership, safe spaces. Special attention will be given to the diversity within the trans community – including partners, parents, and kids of trans people, as well as GNC and non-binary identities.

Helen Boyd is the author of two books about life with a trans partner, My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married. She’s been writing a blog about gender and trans issues for more than a decade, has spoken at numerous conferences, and currently teaches gender studies at Lawrence University.

Do register in time to reserve your spot. Other workshops include:

  • Violence in the LGBTQ Community
  • Intersectionality of Ethnicity & Gender: Where We Are Now, and Where We Need to Be
  • Queering the Environmental Justice Movement
  • LGBTQ Rights, School, Bullying, Law Enforcement, and You
  • Challenges and Gifts of LGBTQ Seniors
  • The Many Ways of Celebrating LGBTQ Spiritual and Religious Diversity