Category: politics & causes

OK, OK

Posted by – January 14, 2014

The good news is that a federal judge has struck down Oklahoma’s DOMA as unconstitutional.

(Image courtesy Joe.My.God)

(I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

Amiri Baraka’s Gone (But Never Forgotten)

Posted by – January 10, 2014

What an amazing man, an amazing poet, an amazing speaker: I saw him speak a long time ago at CCNY & was blown away.

Thank you, Mr. Baraka, for being fearless and for always speaking truth to power (even if and when I didn’t agree & you horrified everyone). (Or, as one person said about “Somebody Blew Up America” on youtube: “I hate this poem. I love this man.”

Blues People is a must-read.

Missouri Gov Does What He Can

Posted by – January 9, 2014

Says the (conservative Dem) governor of Missouri:

“Many Missourians, including myself, are thinking about these issues of equality in new ways and reflecting on what constitutes discrimination. To me, that process has led to the belief that we shouldn’t treat folks differently just because of who they are. I think if folks want to get married, they should be able to get married.”

& Then he issued an executive order allowing same sex couples to file joint state tax returns.

Five Questions With: Danielle Askini, Gender Justice League

Posted by – December 30, 2013

I met activist and Gender Justice League founder Danielle Askini a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. She was then, and remains to this day, one of my favorite trans activists and educators.

1. Tell me something about how you started Gender Justice League, and why, what you do as an organization.

The idea behind Gender Justice League was really to build on what I had come to learn from other organizations I had participated in the past such as GSA Network (where I was National Program Director) and Outright, Maine – Where I was a youth activist. Really the idea is to bring the community together through community building, social and community education events, and then to recruit and train Trans and gender non-conforming folks as leaders to engage in community wide education and training and then advocacy work both on a one-to-one level and a policy level – such as removing Trans health insurance exclusions.  The idea is really to start by building a community that is connected, informed, and educated and then develop our skills to organize, educate, and influence cultural change. As an organization what we have done has greatly varied, we have done things like hold Trans Pride Seattle – which brought together about 2,200 people in June – by far the largest single event by and for Trans folks in Seattle, we got King County Public Health and all HIV Prevention Providers to agree to both serve Trans women but also include images, messaging, and information about Trans women in HIV prevention materials, we also held a community gathering to discuss Fighting Trans Misogyny that was incredibly well attended. This is all outside of our internal training on grant writing, meeting facilitation, web/social media networking and advocacy training.  I’m so excited for all we have yet to do in the next year or two as we launch our speaker’s bureau and education plan, partner with University of Washington for a Transgender Medicine class for medical students, social workers, and nurses, and many many more things!

2.. We were talking recently about the intersection of community and politics, specifically when it comes to trans people. Do you think one has to come before the other?

I think this is a really interesting question!  As someone who transitioned in Maine — Portland specifically, a “city” of only 65,000 people — there was not a huge Trans community that was active when I fist came out. Over time, more and more trans folks and gender queer folks came out — but most identified as trans men/trans masculine which left me feeling a bit isolated.  My activism in Portland was really focused on “LGBT” activism and youth in foster care activism (I spent my Junior year homeless, and my senior year in foster care) — but it was extremely isolating to be the ONLY trans woman around in many instances. There was a sense of ‘community’ to some degree — but often I didn’t really feel “seen”. Portland is a tricky example, as everyone watched me transition quite publicly (it’s a small town) and to many, I would forever be that “Gay boi / drag queen!” that they had seen in high profile shows; this often invisible my identity as a woman. That is not to say that I wasn’t deeply effective or influential, I think even though I was young, in college, and often busy — I was of a vanguard that pushed the largely L & G leaders to include Gender Identity and Expression in Maine’s 2005 non-discrimination law. I think community is vital — but I found my community online at that time! Now, I walk out my door and have dozens of friends which is amazing. I certainly think having a solid online community through livejournal was vital to my early activism — a place to vent, get resources/connect, and feel ‘seen’. For folks who are not in major cities — the internet has really revolutionized that process. So that is to say — find a community online, do online activism, find strength where you can no matter what — but doing activism everywhere is vital!  I think that was the key for me, finding community online, doing activism even when I felt isolated and alone as a very young trans woman.

3. I think of you as a radical activist, and I mean that as a compliment. Tell me something about how you think of trans rights in the light of other social justice issues. More

Jailed for Life for Stealing a Coat

Posted by – December 27, 2013

There’s something very wrong going on.

A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related convictions. Sixty-five percent are African-American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino…

Go read the full article/interview on NPR.

This kind of issue is exactly why feminists have been using intersectional analysis for years now – to look not just at gender and how it oppresses people of all genders, but how race, class, and other axes of identity cause one person to go to rehab and another to be sentenced to life in prison – for the same “offense”.

I don’t know where to start to fix it, but I’m very pleased that the ACLU did this study – the full title of which is A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolence Offenses – so that maybe we can start to examine how and why we are imprisoning people for life who did so little wrong.

Freedom Writers

Posted by – December 10, 2013

I was talking to my mom about Nelson Mandela yesterday, & she reminded me that when I was a young whippersnapper, maybe around 17, I got her to write letters to the South African government to free him. She added, “we wrote one for that lady, too” by whom she mean Aung San Suu Kyi.

I don’t know how much letters do, but I do know that you feel like less of a schmo if you actually do stuff like this.

Free Nelson Mandela

Posted by – December 9, 2013

I’ve waited a bit to post this song & video because it’s so celebratory it didn’t seem quite right on the day of Mr. Mandela’s death, but now, maybe it’s time.

This song & video were recorded in 1985 and charted in the UK & was played heavily in Africa. It was most definitely a favorite of any ska fans, recorded as it was by “The Special AKA” – a group of people from The Specials and other ska bands of the time, bands who were intent not just on mixing musical styles but in making sure the bands themselves were diverse.

& It was always such a happy, inspiring, determined song.

It’s hard to explain what it was like the day I turned on the radio to hear some of my favorite DJs crying on the air with the good news that he had, in fact, finally been freed. They played it over & over & over again.

Along with this song by Jesus Jones, it’s one of the very few that really do put me right back in that time & place, but the two times, in some ways, so distinct: 1985 still awash in Reagan/Thatcher, & music was still great. By 1990 you could feel it was all changing: in some ways, “Right Here, Right Now” was the end of optimism, and the stage would soon be set for Nirvana & a much more cynical time. But first, of course, Mandela was freed, we’d optimistically elect Bill Clinton, and the Wall fell.

So in some senses, Mandela’s death after his years as South Africa’s president and as a world ambassador at the age of 95 is really unexpected — because in 1985, it seemed far more likely he would die in jail far short of his 95th birthday. The world is so much better off that he didn’t.

Godspeed Mr. Mandela.

ENDA Again?

Posted by – October 30, 2013

So it looks like ENDA may come to a vote early next week – according to Harry Reid.

The bill is unlikely to gain much traction in the Republican controlled House, but could provide Democrats with another opportunity to paint the GOP as out of step with most Americans by obstructing a bill aimed at ending workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sign NCTE’s online petition.

GLB not T?

Posted by – October 16, 2013

So here’s a bunch of interesting reading on that old horse of whether gay and trans politics are bedfellows, allied, or not – a series of pieces in the NYT (the NYT!) from people like Susan Stryker and Laverne Cox and Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (who is, by the by, currently on tour).

From Susan Stryker:

Remember that in 1969, rebellion and resistance by the queens and hair fairies of Christopher Street transformed a police raid at the Stonewall Inn into a defiant act of “gay liberation.” Twenty years later, “queer” politics included transgender as another version of what it called “antiheteronormativity.” The ’90s version of “queer” morphed into the L.G.B.T. community of recent years — an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — and for transfolk, it was politically invaluable to be part of that coalition. It still is.

From John Corvino:

But sometimes the answer is no: It does not always make sense to try to align sexual orientation and gender identity in one coalition. Each group has distinctive needs and challenges. By jumbling them all together into one alphabet soup — L.G.B.T.Q.I.T.S.L.F.A.A.*, anyone? — we run the risk of covering or erasing people’s experiences, especially those who are already most marginalized.

*In case you were wondering, it stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, two-spirit, leather-fetish, asexual and allies.” Even I had to ask about some of the letters.

& From Mattilda:

The gay movement would like us to think that gay marriage will give everyone housing and health care; that openly gay soldiers pressing buttons in Nevada to obliterate Somali villages means homophobia is on the wane; that strengthening the criminal legal system through hate crime legislation will bring murdered queers back to life. This is what we lose when we think of identity as an endpoint – just add “gay” (or even less acceptable terms like “queer” or “trans”) to any oppressive institution, and suddenly you have the new civil rights struggle. Gay marriage, gays in the military, gay members of Congress, gay priests, gay cops — what’s next?

So while a lot of my readers may be very familiar with all of these arguments, it’s a good introduction to the idea - and to the ideas of category & alliance – for newbies.

Chickens & Rifles

Posted by – September 28, 2013

Some men have been carrying AR-15 rifles to the Appleton Farmer’s Market. They are making a Point about open carry laws and 2nd Amendment rights, etc.

Other people – and yes, these are people I know – decided to carry chickens to the Farmer’s Market instead, because you can’t openly carry a chicken to the Farmer’s Market but you can carry a rifle.

So you can see why some people are upset and protesting the rifles.

The problem is that there’s a weird intersection of city and state laws here. The municipal code bars the chicken. The state law allows the rifles. What you wind up with is a wholly stupid situation, where people will be boycotting the farmer’s market because they don’t want rifles there, you know, near their children and parents and friends, which means the city, or the county, or someone, will have to do something instead of letting a really cool local institution fail.

More

Appleton’s Housing Ban on Discrimination

Posted by – September 8, 2013

Oh, and this happened.

APPLETON, Wis. — In a slice of Wisconsin that tends to lean Republican at the polls, Appleton has added its name to a list of cities adopting new housing rules that push past federal protection on gender identity.

12-0 vote, too.

Serophobia

Posted by – September 5, 2013

Healthline recently partnered with the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation (TRBF) to launch “You’ve Got This” – a video campaign that encourages HIV patients to give hope and advice to the recently diagnosed.

So I thought it was long overdue to introduce you to the term serophobia, which is, most simply, fear of & prejudice against people who are HIV+. Here’s a good post about what it is and why it is over at Daily Kos, and here’s another article about the ways that a blanket discrimination against having sex with people who are HIV+ just doesn’t make sense.

Those of us who are old enough remember serophobia in its most blatant form. Our next door neighbor never met a grandchild because of it – one of her sons became HIV+ and another of her sons refused to visit him or anyone else in the household – a policy he kept up for the next 20 years.

But here are some of the basic mythologies & superstitions about HIV, & even those of us who “know better” need to learn what people who are HIV+ are up against, from the Daily Kos article. More

Bill Hicks on Syria

Posted by – September 4, 2013

I know he’s not talking about Syria – he died in ’94 – but this is the clip that came to mind this morning when I read the news.

Outagamie County Considers Benefits for Domestic Partners

Posted by – August 27, 2013

On Tuesday afternoon, the Outagamie County Legislative Committee will consider adding Domestic Partner Health Coverage for gay and lesbian county employees in a domestic partnership.

You can contact the Committee by emailing them and telling them it’s the right thing to do.

If you’re in Appleton, you can come to the meeting at 2PM, which will be held in the Administration Building, Second Floor, County Board Room
410 S. Walnut St., Appleton.

Thanks to Fair Wisconsin for all this information and for educating government officials as to why this is so necessary.

Walker Watch

Posted by – August 20, 2013

I’m not sure people are aware of this, but Scott Walker has been having people arrested for singing, or watching people sing, in the state capitol’s rotunda. This is the same place where all the protests happened a few years ago.

Here’s a guy who got arrested today, & yes, he is a firefighter.

The Solidarity Singalong started in March 2011 with the rallies that were staged protests against Walker’s union busting. It’s continued every day since them – at noon, usually with a couple of copies of lyrics for whomever wanted to sing along. Their supposed to get a permit as a group but they are not a group so much as they are people who show up to sing; who comes is pretty irregular, and no one is “in charge”. That is, there is no organization, no group in the legal sense, and so no one who can report how many people will show up on a day to day basis.

But of course that’s not the point. The point is that they’re singing in the rotunda of the capitol of Wisconsin because they should be allowed to.

On Vaccinations

Posted by – August 19, 2013

I have a lot of friends with children, and I’m increasingly chagrined that my own peers are taking their political views on Big Pharma to a place that puts all of us at greater risk of dying of things we don’t have to die of.

So to explain how it all works, what “peer reviewed” means, and to comment on various “But — ” arguments, here’s this very good, clear article about what it all means, including links out about how places with low percentages of vaccination are getting the most diseases, and to this one about how herd immunity works.

That is all.

CA Trans Students: Good News

Posted by – August 12, 2013

Well, this is indeed good news:

Today, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the historic School Success and Opportunity Act into law, ensuring transgender youth have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in schools across the state. Assembly Bill 1266—which goes into effect on January 1, 2014—was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and passed the California State Senate and Assembly earlier this summer. The law is the first of its kind in the country, and requires that California public schools respect students’ gender identity and makes sure that students can fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities that match their gender identity. . . 

and

California law already prohibits discrimination in education, but transgender students have been often discriminated against and unfairly excluded from physical education, athletic teams, and other school activities, and facilities. This exclusion negatively impacts students’ ability to succeed in school and graduate with their class. For example, physical education credits are required to graduate, but transgender students often do not have the support they need to fully participate in the courses.

It’s the first law of its kind, but it would be amazing to see this happen in a lot more states.

#ENDA Committee Votes 15-7 in Favor

Posted by – July 10, 2013

This is good news: a 15-7 vote, says the Maddow blog, means there may actually be bipartisan support for ENDA, at long last.

 

The Night a Feminist Army…

Posted by – June 27, 2013

… of loud angry bitches beat the GOP, is the full title. I absolutely love this article about what happened in Texas the night of the 25th. I stayed up and watched it as the midnight hour drew near and passed; I was watching when the time stamp was changed on the vote; I was watching when the “At what point?” question was asked – which should, imho, go down in history as AT LEAST as significant as the “Have you, at long last, no decency?” that was asked during HUAC).

It was an insane thing to see but a proud, proud thing to watch.

A feminist army of loud angry bitches. We need more of them.

Filibuster In Progress: Texas

Posted by – June 25, 2013

Ann Richards would be proud.