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

#resist

I will be marching in Madison tomorrow.

I will be marching for the black women who raised me as a feminist. For the trans men and women with pussies and without. I will be marching for the interracial couples and families I love, for my friends in wheelchairs, for students with mental health issues. I will be marching for anyone who needs the ACA to stay alive and healthy. I will be marching for all of my LGBTQ+ family here and abroad.

I will be marching for the American heroes who have gone before me: Ida Wells and Eugene Debs, Malcolm X and Philip Randolph.

I will be marching for the trans men and women who lose their lives every year, for the Jewish Community Centers that have been dealing with bomb threats for weeks now, for the Muslim Centers who have received hate mail, for the NEH, the NEA, CPB, and the Office of Violence Against Women.

I will be marching because I can. I will march with Whitman’s barbaric yawp in my lungs.

#resist

Song of Myself, LII – Walt Whitman

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

The Other America

You can’t listen to the few words Joe Biden spoke when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with distinction, without realizing what deeply decent people we have had running this country.

At a moment when Moonlight, Fences, and Hidden Figures are in theatres.

At a moment when rights for trans people were really having an effect.

At a moment when the Pipeline protests caught the national attention and once again, Native Americans showed us how to respect our land and ourselves.

At a moment when everything seemed to be going something like right finally, when our national conversation about the prison pipeline and the deep patriotism of the Muslim parents of a fallen war hero reminded us of the worst and the best we can be as a nation — at that very moment, it all fell apart.

It hasn’t yet. The fumes of Obama’s legacy are what we’re running on now. It was only 8 years ago when the high hopes and inspired souls overjoyed so many of us; that we looked at each other with wide-eyed amazement as if to say can you believe we did this? And the rest of the world looked at the US with surprise and respect: we could be still be America. We were.

I don’t know what we’re going to become. That other America, the wretched one, the gilded mean one of bottom lines and wealthy excess, of poorer people making the groceries stretch a little longer, of a nervous middle class, what of it there still is, of people dying from medical conditions they might have survived in a more generous time.

This is going to be hard. We are going to suffer, as will the land, and the critters, and people we know and love and strangers we don’t know but might love if we knew them.

But this eight years that just passed is something for us to hang our hopes on. That other America that we’ve now all seen and experienced at least a little, a period where more people gained rights, not fewer. Where common sense actually counted. Where Black Lives Matter showed us all what the legacy of racism really means. Where some actions, and some words, convinced us all we were in this together.

So I’m going to keep saying it, as Obama did when he gave his farewell address: yes, we can.

And apparently we’re going to damn have to.

love notes for america

A colleague from Boston published a horrible letter sent to a mosque there – I’m not going to reprint it, but it was filthy and evil – and my immediate thought was to send them a letter of love, of welcome, of inclusion.

And I mentioned that. And another colleague ran with the idea and created this amazing website that provides you with the places that have received this hateful letter and others like it. She’ll send a postcard for you if you’re out of stamps, even.

So in these days where the constant question is: what more can I do? Here’s another answer. I’ve already sent out a bunch.

Fuck the Fear.

Fuck the fear. I’m not having it.

It is obvious tonight that America is not ready for the future, for progress, for inclusion. America just pushed back, and hard.

I was born of the white working class and raised by my anti racist, Catholic parents who were born in the middle of the great democratic experiment known as New York City.

And I am worried about the fears of white working class people – Christians and heterosexuals, for the most part – who are scared about the changes, who are scared of people like me and my wife, who are scared of Obama and smart black people, who are scared of faggots and immigrants and Muslims.

It’s because they don’t know us. It’s because they don’t know there is a way to live, to create community and art and love and ethics and beauty despite difference. They don’t know the awesome world we live in, and instead, they live in fear of who they think we are instead of who we actually are.

I have been white and heterosexual and Christian and I was raised, like most of us are, to denigrate queer folks and non-Christians and non whites. So many of us were. What changed me? What changed any of us? It was having the opportunity to be put in situations where I realized fear was something that limited me, that made me mean in ways I didn’t want to be. It gave me faith in things that had nothing to do with my worth – my skin color, my sexuality, my dominance as a Christian American – and so I could make space to welcome more kinds of people, more kinds of living, more kinds of beauty and community.

I also know that marginalized people are who create the world, over and over again. I teach the idea that those of us who do not have dominant viewpoints know not only what we know but also what the dominant folks know: women know how men think because we have to, because it keeps us safe. Black people know how racist white people are because it can keep them alive. And what we know, all of us who live on some liminal edge in this culture, is that we are up against it all the time.

Nothing has changed. Patriarchy, white supremacy, American exceptionalism, homophobia, capitalism and its woes – all of those things were with us yesterday and are still with us today.

We will find ways to persist, to create, to love, to keep each other safe. We will find new ways to combat suffering, to bring beauty and peace to the world.

Because the world, after all, is ours: the underdogs, the marginalized, the hated, the feared.

We know who we are. We know what it means to love deeply, to need beauty, to feel compassionately.

Those are the things that defeat fear. Those are the things that create community, that push progresss, that allow us to live with meaning, to practice love and patience and empathy.

We are it, folks. And we will prevail. Fuck fear. Love deeply, make art, create community, and ORGANIZE. We are better than their fear of us.

And the rest of you? Who voted out of fear, out of racism and misogyny and who are terrified of change, who are so awash in your own arrogance that you can’t even see our humanity? Get over yourselves; the future is coming and your goddamn vote isn’t going to stave it off much longer.

The future is ours. Try to get used to it.

I’m With Her #imwithher

What’s Left To Do This Election

They just killed a young man in Wisconsin. In Menominee. He was attending college at a UW. He was Saudi. He died of his injuries.

I don’t need to be told it was a hate crime.

A father of three killed two Des Moines police officers while they sat in their cars. He was upset at the way he was treated at a game when someone stole his confederate flag.

I don’t need to be told he was white or mentally ill and had easy access to guns.

I am scared for these United States, scared for my students of color, for the visibly queer, for Jewish friends, and for women.

I am scared for what will happen no matter who wins the Presidency or how they do.

I am immobilized by the fear that there is so little I can do besides offer some sanctuary, some reassurance, that most Americans are better than this. I am immobilized by how mean the world is getting.

But lately, I’m not so sure myself that these things are true.

I am sad to see anyone talking about the “lesser or two evils” or shaming any progessives for voting for Clinton. Sometimes it is heroic to tow the line, to maintain the status quo. Sometimes it is all we have. Presidents are rarely actual Dems, rarely progressive, almost never Left, and yet there are people out there playing radical politics, more radical than thou shit, who will tell you that a vote for Clinton is a vote against the Pipleline Protestors. Newsflash: Of course it is. The President is still an American, and they are all capitalists, and now, neoliberals. This is not news, Bernie supporters. This is not news, young progressives. My entire life I’ve voted for Not the Other Guy. You’re a little spoiled; you grew up under the only president I’ve been happy to vote for, in good conscience. But Obama is the exception, not the rule.

What is news is that we are right now staring down a fascist America that does not resemble any vision of the world we want. They are burning black churches and the Klan has endorsed Trump. They don’t even need their hoods now; they’ve come out of hiding and they’ve Made America Hate Again.

& Sadly, this bullshit about emails means that Trump now has a path to victory. I’ve never read any news that made me more sick than that.

So if you want to do the radical thing: watch people’s kids if they need the time to vote. Ask all your friends directly, and without flinching, when and where they are voting. Bring a few friends with you to vote. Help them register. Bring snacks and water for people waiting on long lines, or camp chairs or coffee.

GET OUT THE VOTE. It’s the most radical thing you can do this year.

just saying.

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(via Diana Nieves-Oake)

Hill & the DNC

I wrote this after watching Clinton’s speech at the DNC this past week (but was traveling & didn’t get a chance to post it until now):

This woman had negotiated gender in ways that astonish and amaze me: to find enough strength to be taken seriously as a (male) candidate but to do so with enough gentleness to be ‘acceptably’ feminine at the same time.

She’s drawing both on the concensus quality of women & the (masculine) bombast of patriotism.

Honestly, it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to gender presentation, but this woman is now a master.

Go Hill. Change the game. Fuck the patriarchy.

Third Party Candidates

I’m going to preface this by saying: I was a Nader supporter. I know, boo hiss. But I also absolutely only voted for him for President because I lived in New York, where my vote would not cost the Dem the presidency.

I believe in third parties. I voted for Bernie in WI because I wanted the DNC to get the message that they need a more progressive agenda. I have been tired of corporate politics for a long time now, and it’s only gotten worse since Citizens United.

But PLEASE people, we have a two party system in this country, and that is that. Third parties push and pull how our two major parties work – honestly, the Tea Party has been more successful at making a wreck of the two party system than any other – but we have to elect Clinton. We just do. Electing Trump will not cause a fucking revolution. What it will cause is what Dan Savage points out here:

Disaster will come. And the people who’ll suffer are not going to be the pasty white Green Party supporters — pasty white Jill Stein and her pasty white supporters. The people who’ll suffer are going to be people of color. People of minority faiths. Queer people. Women.

I’m going to add this: there are a lot of reasons to want to vote Third Party. It’s cool, for starters. I’ve always had a boner for that kind of fuck you to the establishment. But there’s nothing radical about it. The ideas, the conversations, the motivation and energy they bring are awesome. The actual electoral results? Not so much. I saw Ross Perot do it, I’ve seen Nader do it, and if Jill Stein does it we are all going to be very, very sorry.

There, I’ve said it, inspired by Dan Savage (start at 21:40 if you want to listen), who is as frustrated as I am right now, sounds like. But Trump & his boys are a fucking disaster for everyone, and WE NEED TO STOP HIM.

Trump’s Anti-Semitism: Guest Author Mark A. Michaels

Today’s guest post was written by my friend Mark A. Michaels in response to a recent Trump statement that tapped into the long and disgusting heartbeat of anti-Semitism that is still alive and well in the US. I thought it was direct, sincere, and thorough.

A Fourth of July Plea from My Jewish Heart

Regular readers of my feed will know that I’ve tried to avoid political discussions for quite some time. They tend to generate a lot of heat but little that’s productive. Over the last few weeks, however, I’ve found it impossible to remain silent. I’m writing this very personal essay in hopes that it will change a mind or two.

Trump’s latest display of bigotry (anti-semitism this time) and his lame attempts to deny it have left me distraught, devastated, and enraged. They’re no worse than some of his other atrocities, but they have forced me to examine some issues that I’ve tended to ignore or minimize, even as I’ve always known that a certain soft hum of anti-semitism pervades American society. It’s usually more subtle than other forms of bigotry, but it’s present nonetheless. It’s present in the people who assume that all Jews are rich or adept at managing money; it’s present in those who desperately hope they have some Jewish ancestry, for whatever reason; it’s present in some (but not all) criticisms of Israel; it’s present in much conservative Christian support for Israel; it’s present in complaints about the so-called “war on Christmas”; it’s often present in populist attacks on perceived centers of Jewish power – Hollywood, Wall Street, and the banking industry. And it’s present in Trump’s latest atrocity, with its obvious implication that “corrupt” Hillary Clinton is a tool of moneyed Jewish interests.

A commenter on a friend’s Facebook page had this interesting observation: “Antisemitism is unique among racial/ethnic hatreds in that it supposes not an inferiority of the subjects of its hate; but rather a surplus of what we would today call ‘privilege’.” There’s a lot of truth in this observation, though I think it’s an oversimplification. Most American Jews face far fewer obstacles than members of other minorities, and most of us are less vulnerable to the resurgence of white supremacy fomented by Trump than are members of other more visibly different groups. Nevertheless, we remain marginalized and vulnerable. The FBI’s most recent hate crime statistics are chilling: Jews comprise just 1.4% of the American population but were the target of 57% of the religious hate crimes, and when “you include other groupings by ethnicity, race, or sexuality, Jewish people are still at the top. They are more than three times more likely to be the victim of a hate crime than any other group.”

I grew up in a secular, assimilated (Ethical Culture) home, ensconced in the strange bubble that surrounded upper and upper middle class Jews of my generation. I don’t know the numbers, but my private high school probably had a higher percentage of African-American and Latino students than white Christian ones. Some of my Jewish classmates were religious, but most were not or were nominally so. Many, myself included, were descendants of German Jews who arrived in the U.S. during the 19th century; a much smaller number were the children of Holocaust survivors. Notwithstanding the proximity of the Holocaust, anti-semitism seemed like an abstraction before I went to college. I can look back at two instances when I was beaten up by older Catholic school kids – one while petitioning against the Vietnam War and the other while campaigning for McGovern – that may have had an anti-semitic component.

It was only in college and after that I became aware of just how pervasive casual and not so casual anti-semitism can be. A few incidents spring to mind – the way some people in my dorm at the University of Michigan talked about the town of Southfield; the lead singer in a band I was thinking of managing referring to someone as a “Jew bastard” (I walked away); the time I stayed at a motel in the Florida Keys and the owners took a liking to me and took me fishing, only to reveal their Klan sympathies and anti-semitism while we were out on the boat (I kept my mouth shut, one of the advantages of not being visibly different); subtle displays of attitude from a couple of professors when I was in grad school at Yale (I think I could distinguish between bias and run-of-the-mill professorial arrogance).

But to return to my formative years, in my deracinated home environment, there was some unease with being Jewish. I remember talking about Israel with my mother when I was a young teenager and being troubled by the fact that it was a country set up for one group of people. This seemed to be at odds with the secular, universalist values I’d imbibed at home and at school. I can’t remember her exact words, but the essence of her response was indelible and seems especially important given the rise of Trumpism –

You’ll always be a Jew if another Hitler comes along.

There’s some backstory I didn’t learn about until adulthood but that is very much on my mind this week.

My maternal grandfather was born in New York in the early 1890s. He came from a family of cabinetmakers, and he never finished high school. He started his own furniture business in the 1930s, the Depression notwithstanding. By 1937, he was prosperous enough to get several relatives out of Germany. My mother recently told me he also paid their rent and provided them with basic necessities so they could get started in the U.S. My grandfather’s ancestral town was a fairly important center of Jewish life in western Germany. Of the the Jews who remained there in the early 1930s, 21 escaped, but at least 44, some of whom were undoubtedly my kin, were killed in Buchenwald and Theresienstadt.

When I say that Trump’s bigotry offends and frightens me, it’s not because I’m hypersensitive; it’s not because I’m demanding political correctness or because I’m hypervigilant about anti-semitism. If anything, I’ve been insufficiently conscious of it. And when I say that abstaining or voting for anyone other than Hillary is being complicit, I hope you’ll think long and hard because “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

“Calm Down or Suck It Up.”

Here’s a really great piece on bathrooms, Title VII and Title IX, and the “Dear Colleague” letter the DOE published. It explains clearly what the issues are, such as:

So is the Obama administration making a rule that trans people must be permitted to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, or is it interpreting an existing rule?

With respect to Title IX, the DOE issued a “Dear Colleague” letter—which it says is simply a guidance document, not a new rule. The regulations permitting separate bathrooms for boys and girls were unclear about where trans students fit, and the administration decided to let them decide for themselves based on their gender identity.

and they answer other questions such as:

  • What is Title VII?
  • What is Title IX?
  • But why do they think “sex” includes gender identity?
  • But didn’t these agencies just decide that “sex” in Title VII and Title IX includes gender identity? Can they do that? Isn’t that something Congress should do?

But it’s the advice at the end that made me laugh:

You’re now well-equipped to argue, with the law as your weapon, that the Obama administration did a good and legal thing when it decided to recognize the dignity of trans students, and you can tell everyone who is gripped by the bathroom panic to either calm down or suck it up.

Indeed.

Marginalized Minorities: Bathroom Backlash and Same Sex Marriage

This is a brief talk I wrote to give in China. I had an awesome translator – a colleague named Brigid Vance – and we got at maybe 10% of what’s here. The language is meant to be simple because I was speaking to a group who either had no or very little English and was also trying to take it easy on my translator.

That said, in the light of the ongoing bathroom laws, it might be helpful for those who are wondering how bathrooms became the place of contention, and maybe it answers a little bit of why.

Not that understanding will help you feel less angry. Nothing should. Stay angry. Keep fighting.

Marginalized Minority Backlash and the LGBTQ*

I want to talk today about the ways that minority groups have diverse needs even within group, specifically about how some types of marginalization may not be obvious or identifiable while trying to provide services to them. That is, different populations within a marginalized community may not access or use those services equally. I will talk specifically about how marginalized communities may not only not benefit equally, but will as well contend with significant backlash due to the change in the group’s status as a whole, and how that backlash is likely to target the most discriminated against group in order to undermine the group’s rights as a whole.

In the United States, there have been significant gains for the LGBTQ population. Gay and lesbian people can now marry, serve in the US military, and in many places, adopt children. Crimes against them are now monitored and recorded in a way that they have never been before, and extra penalties are added to sentences if a crime against them was motivated by hate, or specifically, by homophobia – which is the specific fear/hatred of gay and lesbian people. For some people, these gains have happened very quickly, when it has taken decades of work by gay and lesbian activists to make this happen, which was, in turn, motivated by life and death issues such as the AIDS crisis, high rates of discrimination in employment, substance abuse, depression and suicide. Nationally, then, gays and lesbians have more rights and acceptance than they ever have in US history, but there are many more people than only gays and lesbians in the movement on their behalf.

The term LGBTQ* (or +) is used to indicate the many identities that make up the “gay” movement. The letters stand for lesbian, gay. Bisexual, trans, and queer people, but those are only the first few. Other times may include people who are agender (no gender) or androgynous, crossdressers, drag queens, drag kings, and those who are in some other way GNC (Gender Non Conforming). The diversity is diverse. It includes anyone who is discriminated against due to their sexual orientation (who they have sex with) and many people who are discriminated against due to their gender identity (who they are) or gender expression (what they look and act like).

This group as a whole is very small – estimates vary from 5 – 12% of the population, but the subgroups within are even smaller. Some are only 1-2% of the population, and in US politics, minorities often need to make alliances with similar others in order to make any political headway. Often, the governing idea is that the LGBTQ+ population is made up of all the people who other groups of people dislike for their gender and/or sexuality.

The US was one of the last Western nations to make marriage between people of the same sex legal, but it has now joined a growing number of countries which recognizes not only same sex attraction but the need to legally recognize those relationships. It is a very significant victory which solidifies the rights of gay and lesbian people as well as their children’s rights; in fact, the Obergefell v Hodges ruling underscores the rights of the children of gays and lesbians – by previous marriage, adoption, or reproductive technology – in its decision. Marriage, however, does not solve many problems for many other sexual and gender minorities; instead, it benefits those who are already in better shape than others. Continue reading “Marginalized Minorities: Bathroom Backlash and Same Sex Marriage”

Me, Bathrooms, Target

Says the journalist: “While she appreciates the sudden concern for women and children’s safety, she says there are a million ways to ensure that without restricting bathrooms.” (itals mine)

The favorite line of mine they didn’t use: “I think the line for the ladies’ room is long enough without adding paperwork.”

Comments my wife after seeing the segment: “Kramer vs Kremer”.

Update from NCTE re: Mara Keisling’s Arrest in NC

4/26: Mara has been released and is safe.

Bail is set at $1k. Donate if you can.

Thanks to everyone who has expressed support for Mara Keisling, who was arrested earlier this evening while protesting ?#?HB2?. We’ve been told that she has been treated respectfully, and that she even conducted an impromptu training for the detention center staff around how to treat trans people who have been arrested.

Mara’s bail has been set at $1,000, and we would appreciate any donations to NCTE to help us continue to ?#?FlushDiscrimination? in North Carolina and across the whole nation: http://www.flushdiscrimination.org/

Mara Keisling Gets Herself Arrested in NC

Mara Keisling has been one of our very favorite people for a long, long time now, and today even more so.

Today she used the ladies’ room in the NC state house and was interviewed by Buzzfeed about it. She was there delivering petitions to get HB2 revoked:

Keisling was with a group from the NAACP delivering proposed legislation that would repeal the state’s anti-LGBT law, which also prevents cities from raising the minimum wage or from passing new nondiscrimination ordinances.

The state has been sued in federal court over the law, dozens of businesses have asked state officials to repeal it, and numerous businesses have canceled ventures in the state.

Protests, attended by thousands, were held on Monday to urge lawmakers to repeal the law — the first day the legislature convenes for its spring session. LGBT groups said they delivered petitions signed by more than 150,000 people asking for the law to be reversed.

She has since gotten arrested with a few others who proceeded to conduct a sit-in after her use of the ladies’ room.

More news as I get it, but let me say: Mara has been a stalwart activist who energizes her dedication with humor and love. The trans community could not ask for a cooler person.

 

Contact Your Senator: SCOTUS Nomination

A friend who is a Wisconsin attorney recently posted this on Facebook, and I thought both the idea and the template deserved a bigger audience. This letter encourages one of our state senators, Ron Johnson, to do his job and call for a hearing on Obama’s selection of Justice Garland for SCOTUS. This letter does not expect or even request Johnson approve of the nominee; it only asks that he do his job and call for a hearing.

You can contact your state senator here. Please feel free to use this letter as a template.

Senator Johnson,

I am writing to you today to ask you to split from your obstructionist colleagues in the Senate and meet with (and push for a vote on the appointment of) Judge Merrick Garland.

I understand there is a mistaken notion that waiting until the new president is elected is “letting the people decide” but the logic there is extremely faulty. The people decided when they elected President Obama.

While you may disagree with President Obama’s selection, your “advice and consent” comes in the form of your vote to approve or not approve Judge Garland’s nomination. Advice to not nominate someone at all is not advice, it is obstruction of the President’s duty.

I do not know if the Senate will approve Judge Garland, but the people who elected President Obama, Senator McConnell, Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren, and every other elected official in Washington deserve to have their voices heard by way of a vote on Judge Garland’s appointment.

I cannot pretend this will effect my vote for your seat in November, I am a firmly based lefty, I voted for Senator Feingold in 2010 and I will vote for him again in November, but I am a resident of Wisconsin and have been for most of my voting life and you are my Senator. Mine is one of the voices you represent. I am asking you to do the job you were elected to do and to uphold the oath of office you took when you went to Washington on January 3, 2011.

Mine is one of the voices you will continue to represent until at least January of 2017. With that, you have a responsibility to me and to the residents of this great, progressive State of Wisconsin to avoid the typical gridlock caused by the extreme and damaging partisanship in our Nation’s Capital.

The refusal to so much as hold a vote on Judge Garland (you must be truly afraid he’d actually be approved by the majority [or as I like to call it “the voice of the electorate”]) is not just an abdication of your Constitutional privilege/responsibility (and those of Senators McConnell and the rest of the Republican Judiciary Committee), it is an act of extreme cowardice. It is also an act of great presumption. It presumes you’ll be happier with the elected President in January 2017. It might be someone more liberal than President Obama. It might be Donald Trump. Don’t both of those options cause you to shudder?

I’ll be honest, there is a part of me that would love to see you and yours continue with the stonewalling tactics and then watch as Secretary Clinton or Senator Sanders sweeps into office and immediately nominates President Obama to the highest Court in the land. Thinking about it gives me the giggles. I am sure that will not happen, but that is something you open yourself to with the continued refusal to come to the table.

I’m not asking you to vote for Judge Garland’s appointment, but I am demanding as a voter in the great State of Wisconsin that you call for a hearing on his appointment. That is your Constitutional duty and one you promised to uphold and defend. I may not agree with your stance on many issues, Senator, but I do expect you to follow through on the stances you take. When you asked my fellow Wisconsinites to send you to Washington D.C. you did so with a promise to uphold and defend the US Constitution. Now would be a really good time to show you meant it.