Thank You Black Voters

So Doug Jones won, which is the least of what should have happened, but what didn’t happen is that white folks are still not getting it – not in the way they vote, and not in a lot of reactions on Facebook.

One friend posted a celebration of the black women who made this happen only to be reprimanded by a white man who wanted to celebrate everyone. #alllivesmatter much?

There’s a lot of “thank you, Alabama!” when it was really the black voting population who need to be thanked.

Because this guy wasn’t just racist, he was sexist and abusive and tranphobic and homophobic and didn’t understand or honor the separation of church and state.

We can thank the Dems. We can be thankful to Doug Jones, and for Doug Jones and his commitment to civil rights.

But to me, I can’t help but feel that black voters came out to honor the memory and secure that much more justice for those four little girls.

And for me, to excoriate racist Jeff Sessions, who left this seat empty when he joined the WH.

So yes, it’s a giant win because Dems never win in Alabama, and one did tonight. But really, my fellow white folks, let’s please honor the black people – and especially the black women – who we owe this to. And let’s listen to them a lot more often, and a lot harder, and remind our local and state and national Dems that over and over again black voters get it right and white voters often do not and we need to learn from that. Because the Dems aren’t going to turn this around until we trust black voters and black intellectuals and black pundits and theorists and writers and even, yes, black celebrities.

Because I am just goddamned tired of you ignoring the truth of every damn election in this country.

 

Election 2017: #theresistanceistrans

We are up to 7 Transgender Candidates Elected!

  1. Danica Roem was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. Her adversary consistently misgendered her, but when asked how she felt about Bob, she said, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.”
  2. Andrea Jenkins of Minneapolis, Minnesota on the City Council is the first out trans black woman to be elected to public office.
  3. Phillipe Cunningham of Minneapolis, Minnesota on the City Council is the first out trans black man elected to a city council.
  4. Lisa Middleton was elected to the City Council in Palm Springs, California.
  5. Tyler Titus was elected to the Erie School Board in Pennsylvania.
  6. Gerri Cannon won a School Board seat in Somersworth, New Hampshire. She plans to run for a state rep seat.
  7. Stephe Koontz won a seat on Doraville, Georgia City Council – BY 6 VOTES.

BY 6 VOTES!! So please, never think yours doesn’t count, especially in local elections.

Flake’s Exit Speech

Just read it. It’s going to go down in history as an important speech (and with any luck, a pivotal moment in US politics).

**

At a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord than by our own values and principles, let me note an obvious point: that these offices that we hold are not ours indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office, and there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.

It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics. Regret because of the indecency of our discourse. Regret because of the coarseness of our leadership. Regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our, I mean all of our complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.

In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order, that phrase being the new normal. That we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue with the tone set at the top. We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, and the flagrant disregard for truth and decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve.

Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as telling it like it is when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified. And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else. It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength, because our strength comes from our values. It, instead, projects a corruption of the spirit and weakness.

It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? What are we going to say? Mr. President, I rise today to say, enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes the normal.

With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, civility and stability right behind it.

We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.

Here today, I stand to say that we would be better served, we would better serve the country by better fulfilling our obligations under the Constitution by adhering to our Article 1 old normal, Mr. Madison’s doctrine of separation of powers. This genius innovation, which assured Madison’s status as a true visionary, and which Madison argued in Federalist 51, held that the equal branches of our government would balance and counteract with each other, if necessary. Ambition counteracts ambition, he wrote. But what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency?

Were the shoe on the other foot, would we Republicans meekly accept such display from dominant Democrats? Of course we wouldn’t, and we would be wrong if we did.

When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do, because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseam, when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of our institutions and our liberty, we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.

Now, I’m aware that more politically savvy people than I will caution against such talk. I’m aware that there’s a segment of my party that believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect.

If I have been critical, it is not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe it is my obligation to do so, and as a matter and duty of conscience, the notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters, the notion that we should say or do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.

A president, a Republican president named Roosevelt, had this to say about the president and a citizen’s relationship to the office. “The president is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed to exactly the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.”

President Roosevelt continued, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by a president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves. And as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party. We can all be forgiven for failing in that measure from time to time. I certainly put myself at the top of the list of those who fall short in this regard. I am holier than none. But too often we rush to salvage principle, not to salvage principle, but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing until the accommodation itself becomes our principle. In that way and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice any principle. I am afraid that this is where we now find ourselves.

When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it goes to look for someone to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society. Leadership knows that most often, a good place to start in assigning blame is to look somewhat closer to home. Leadership knows where the buck stops.

Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly or debased appetites in us. Leadership lives by the American creed: E pluribus unum. From many, one. American leadership looks to the world and, just as Lincoln did, sees the family of man.

Humanity is not a zero-sum game. When we have been at our most prosperous, we have been at our most principled, and when we do well, the rest of the world does well. These articles of civic faith have been critical to the American identity for as long as we have been alive.

They are our birthright and our obligation. We must guard them jealously and pass them on for as long as the calendar has days. To betray them or to be unserious in their defense is a betrayal of the fundamental obligations of American leadership, and to behave as if they don’t matter is simply not who we are.

Now the efficacy of American leadership around the globe has come into question. When the United States emerged from World War II, we contributed about half of the world’s economic activity. It would have been easy to secure our dominance, keeping those countries who had been defeated or greatly weakened during the war in their place. We didn’t do that. It would have been easy to focus inward. We resisted those impulses.

Instead, we financed reconstruction of shattered countries and created international organizations and institutions that have helped provide security and foster prosperity around the world for more than 70 years. Now it seems that we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it.

The implications of this abandonment are profound, and the beneficiaries of this rather radical departure in the American approach to the world are the ideological enemies of our values. Despotism loves a vacuum, and our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this?

I have children and grandchildren to answer to. And so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit or silent. I’ve decided that I would be better represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself of the political consideration that consumed far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles. To that end, I’m announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.

It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative, who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican Party, the party that has so long defined itself by its belief in those things. It’s also clear to me for the moment that we have given in or given up on the core principles in favor of a more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment.

To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess that we’ve created are justified, but anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy. There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal by mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle — the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful and backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican Party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.

We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.

This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better. Because we have a healthy government, we must also have healthy and functioning parties.

We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man and always look for the good. Until that day comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it, because it does. I plan to spend the remaining 14 months of my Senate term doing just that.

Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women. None of us here is indispensable, nor were even the great figures of history who toiled at these very desks in this very chamber to shape the country that we’ve inherited. What is indispensable are the values that they consecrated in Philadelphia and in this place, values which have endured and will endure for so long as men and women wish to remain free. What is indispensable is what we do here in defense of those values. A political career does not mean much if we are complicit in undermining these values.

I thank my colleagues for indulging me here today. I will close by borrowing the words of President Lincoln, who knew more about healthy enmity and preserving our founding values than any other American who has ever lived. His words from his first inaugural were a prayer in his time and are now no less in ours: “We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break the bonds of our affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely as they will be by the better angels of our nature.”

**

That line, “Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women” is chilling.

Birth Control Is Healthcare

With even birth control under attack, various people and organizations have been posting about all the other medically necessary reasons for birth control. I, for instance, have PCOS, which leads to all sorts of crap, including irregular periods, so they put me on birth control for 20 years. There are numerous other medical instances that aren’t pregnancy that birth control is prescribed for.

But: preventing pregnancy is a medical reason. It IS healthcare. Body autonomy is health-care.

Don’t cave to these fools. People have the right to prevent pregnancy, to plan pregnancy, and the entire nation benefits from our ability to do so.

And you have the right to have sex without getting pregnant and without getting someone else pregnant.

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.

New to Antifa? Let Me Explain.

So there’s a lot out there about antifa right now and the first time people see a group of them there’s often a little fear… as there was Sunday night at a rally I helped organize. They wear black. Sometimes they cover their faces.

Here’s the thing: the antifa are an organized group, much like FOI or the Panthers, that came out of radical politics with an understanding, especially, that the police work for the state and not for the most marginalized and certainly not for anyone who is challenging the status quo. In Charlottesville, for instance, Cornel West has reported that the police stood back and let white nationalists attack the counter protestors, even the clergy assembled, and what kept them safe – kept them from being “crushed like cockroaches” was a line of antifa who got between them and the Nazi shitheads. BLM activists formed a second line protecting the rest of the counter protesters.

And as much as we all decry violence, we all (should) know by now who is bringing the fight. It’s not the “alt left” as the (p)Resident said, but the Nazis. Rachel Maddow made it clear last night exactly what it meant for him to say what he said.

Antifa came to exist specifically because Hitler managed to divide the organized Left from itself. So instead of identifying as socialists or anarchists or whatever specific version of the Left, whoever was still around after Hitler decimated Europe opted instead to create an inclusive Left where people could be, simply, against fascism.

As we all should be. You know, the world went to war to stop Nazis and Fascists already, and that we’re even having this conversation or dealing with this again is disgusting.

But we are. The current version of the antifa returned because of the rise of white nationalist politics in Europe (National Front, esp) and White Nationalist/Supremacist groups in the US. We met them at punk shows in the 70s and 80s first, where they often showed up to threaten the most marginalized in those queer, working class spaces: black people, queers, drag queens, etc. I once saw an anarchist punch a fascist shithead for feeling up a woman in a mosh pit, no kidding. Same as now, the fascists came to cause violence, and the antifa were there to protect people who sometimes didn’t even know they were under attack.

So yeah. Don’t be down on antifa. They’re the good guys. If you haven’t been paying attention, the bigots have been attacking an awful lot of us when they get the chance, which is why antifa has become necessary again.

 

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.’

#defendcville

these white men, these fascists, these nazis and white supremacists

so many snowflakes with their pitchforks and fire chanting blood and soil

you embarrass yourselves.

what you are is obvious to the rest of us: insecure cowards who don’t have anything to them, invisible pricks of arrogance and revulsion.

white people of any decency need to speak up, act up, get angry, and yell these little shits back into their neanderthal caves. we need them back on their leashes, muzzled and harmless. this is our fight, white folks, our newest civil war. these are people we know, bold enough to go unmasked because they know being a white supremacist is not going to cost them their jobs or their families or anything at all.

there have to be consequences.

i know black people are not surprised, but maybe, just maybe, the white folks who didn’t understand how deeply entrenched racism is in this country get it now.

i’m so sorry it’s come to this. we fought a war against this bullshit at least once if not a dozen times, and yet here we are again.

those students who held their ground around that statue are the heroes of the hour.

 

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.

Happy Earth Day? From an Urban Green

I’ve never really figured out how I’m supposed to love Mother Earth and am suspicious of anything as awesome as a planet being gendered, of course. That’s human silliness.

I first became green when I volunteered for NYC’s Earth Day, in Central Park, in 1990. I’d taken a great environmental biology class – and read the amazing Economy of Nature by Ricklefs – and that was that. IIRC, I sold my ‘staff’ t-shirt so I could get into Wetlands that night, an awesome little performance space that I still miss. In a year or so I was working at NYPIRG, where we organized for recycling laws, the 5-cent deposit on cans & bottles, against disposability and for environmental economic justice. (Harlem, for instance, got a water treatment plant but it also got a park to go with it, at least.)

My point, however, is this: there is sometimes an assumption that greens or environmentalists have to be crunchy hippie types. That you have to be a vegetarian. That you must own things made out of hemp, or you must be a stoner, or like folk music, or like hiking, or crystals. You can’t wear makeup or smoke cigarettes or, even, live in a goddamned city, even though city dwellers have far smaller carbon footprints than those who don’t. It honestly pisses me off that people who go hiking and live in the suburbs and drive their asses everywhere are considered greener than people in cities. I am for mass transit and trains because they’re green, and I didn’t get my license until I was 42 because I refused to participate in car culture and all of the noxious bullshit it brings.

Even now I am more worried about the ways the poor will experience environmental degradation, that the coastal cities will flood, that indigenous people who live on flood plains or islands will become refugees, that the rates of cancer will go up, that the kinds of natural disasters will become so common that we will cease recovering from them and live in places that are half broken from whatever tornado/hurricane came through last. As far as I can tell, the Rockaways and Long Island never totally recovered from Sandy, and I’m not sure anyone outside of NY knows that, or if anyone inside NY wants to admit it.

And then there’s the water table, which honestly, I can’t even think about some days because what’s coming scares me.

I do believe that some science and technology will help; humans are ingenious. But I worry too that these technologies will benefit only the wealthiest, as they often do.

I am skeptical of a lot of science, all the biases human beings bring to it, the ways we still don’t have enough women or people of color doing the work. It enrages me, to be honest, because we really do need all hands on deck, and the very best of the best, which we don’t get when we skew toward white men getting all the jobs.

So instead maybe of Marching for Science or celebrating the Earth, think of Earth Day this way: you’re marching for rationalism, for education, for creative genius; you’re marching for respect for people and cultures and health; you’re marching today for water and air that won’t kill you, for elephants and polar bears and giraffes. But to me, mostly, you’ve marching against riots over resources, for the poor, for the chance at justice.

I am not cheerful today, or optimistic. But I will be present because I have to be. You should too.

 

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. 

 

Time to #BoycottTexas: SB6 Approved

I watched some of the five hour hearing.

Toward the end, a Republican woman named Lois Kolkhorst came on and made something she thought was a feminist argument for passing this law.

And if I never hear another woman argue this transphobic bullshit on some kind of fake feminist grounds I will be surprised.

It embarrasses me that somehow, women actually believe all the bigoted, transphobic legislators who are now somehow magically concerned about violence against women. And this woman, who apparently spoke to an undisclosed university professor, said she herself must be a radical feminist — because their views are the same.

It’s a sad day for Texas and a sad say for this country.

(& Every time someone mentions the men and women in the Bible, all I can think is: what about all the eunuchs? Do you guys actually read the actual Bible or what?!)

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.

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.

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.

Not On Our Watch

Apparently the news is reporting there were 250 people at an event I helped organize tonight, on the spur of the moment, in freezing cold weather, with absolutely no list of speakers or musical acts or anything.

For those who don’t know, I decided to do this while I was stuck in Detroit waiting for my flight here, having just been in NYC where everyone is worried; it is a city of immigrants, after all. After seeing so many other rallies planned for today, at SFO, SeaTac, JFK, Dulles, O’Hare, etc., I posted that I’d host a vigil at 7 on the LU chapel steps. I really assumed about 5 people would show up who happened to see it. I managed to message someone at the local paper about it and tagged a few people on my post who I thought might be interested.

But while I was on the plane — first stuck on the tarmac being de-iced and then flying — my colleague Jason created an event on FB and started inviting people. When I got home (finally!) at 6PM, folks had spread the invite far & wide – 1k people were invited! – and so many showed up. Again, I had no plan, except that Jason & I would speak & give out some info, & honestly, everyone else did the rest: folks made signs and brought enough candles to go around. Anyone I saw who I knew had spoken in public before I tapped to talk, and I otherwise opened the floor to anyone who wanted to speak or sing.

Chants started. “This Land Is Your Land” was sung. So was “If I Had a Hammer”. So were a few other songs I don’t know the names of. A local musician, a minister, LU students, a green bay teacher, employees of a local refugee relief org, a recent immigrant, a student here on a visa – all volunteered to speak. People read poetry. One student read a poem she’d written about her mom.

I’m flabbergasted and encouraged and grateful to live in this community that so spontaneously responded to what was just a need on my part, a need to stand up, in public, and say NO to this illegal and shitty treatment of people but to say NO too to an abuse of the ethics and founding idea of this country: that we are all immigrants, children of immigrants, grandkids of immigrants, and that yes, IMMIGRANTS GET THE JOB DONE.

Thank you so much, all of you, for not complaining about the chaos but by using your voices to make this what it was supposed to be: a public outpouring and coming together for all of us here who just needed to say NOT ON MY WATCH.

Love to you all tonight.
Stay tuned. This is only the beginning.

Not a Temper Tantrum

 

Yesterday, I saw that a relative of mine had posted this just as I was putting my photos of the Madison rally up. I was full of love and confidence and strength, so seeing this was like a punch in the gut. So I wrote this person a letter. 

I saw your post today when I got back from the Madison march and it was like a punch to the gut. Because you’re family, and because I think you are both people who believe in love and kindness and charity, I really want to explain, if I can, what this was all about.

To me, yesterday was such a thing of beauty, and it makes me sad that you live in such a way that you can’t see it or feel it. It was like the very best church, the best picnic, the best party, all rolled into one.

I’m not sure I can ever relate how scary it’s been if you don’t feel that too. But for us, Trump is at best a bully, the kind you might have had to deal with yourselves in school and the kind you’d never want your kids to have to deal with. The stuff he’s said, the way he made fun of that reporter: I think it brought a lot of us back to a person or a time in our lives when we were made to feel afraid for being who we were. Maybe we knew what other people were making fun of. Maybe we didn’t even understand why we were being targeted. But we know the feeling of being afraid and alone in the face of a violent, mean bully, and we know how it feels to shake while you try to stand up for yourself.

And yesterday was a day when all of our friends showed up in that abandoned hallway where we’d been cornered, a day when that one kind teacher you could count on sent the bully away.

We know he’s not going anywhere. We know the bully is in charge now. We know a lot of us are going to get hurt, feel scared, and have our lunch money stolen.

In a sense, that’s all it was: just a brief pause to remind ourselves that eventually, enough of the kids who have been bullied do band together and punch back.

I’m glad if you’ve never needed that.

I’m glad for you if you’ve never experienced that.

I’m glad if it’s something none of your kids has ever faced.

I’m not going to get into the politics but I am going to say one thing: in everything I’ve been reading it seems obvious that we are all getting different information, that fake news sources are out there confirming the most extreme of what we all believe. But my request is this: don’t just laugh at us. Don’t just mock our fear and our anger. Find out what it is. Find out why we’re scared, who stands to lose rights, who is worried about their health insurance, whose marriage may be at risk, whose bodies, whose choices. We are not scared of nothing: queer folks, black folks, disabled folks, trans folks, immigrants – we face fear all the time. This is scarier than usual.

And while I’m sure, at some basic level, the differences between us are about the differences in politics – Republicans believe charity should be a private affair, and Dems feel that a government’s job is to provide care for the least able of us – I’m not sure I understand why or how anyone could laugh at a basic American right to protest, to gather, to remind ourselves that “we the people” doesn’t mean only those of us who can work or marry or bear children, doesn’t mean only the white, the straight, and the able-bodied, but all of us.

This is written in kindness, and with a hope that I might slow down your frustration and mockery of what yesterday was. I wish you could have been there. I wish you could have felt the love and the trust and the incredible feeling of community. It was amazing.

Don’t be the dwarves in The Last Battle. Come join the rest of us in Narnia. Onwards and Upwards.

Love, me