Guest Author: Lance Weinhardt, on Liberty Counsel and Bathroom Bills

Lance Weinhardt is a professor at the Zilber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Syracuse University.

Mat Staver, otherwise known as Kim Davis’ attorney and the founder of Liberty Counsel, is allegedly behind the mean-spirited, illogical, and fear-mongering ‘bathroom bills’ across many states, and is the same man who was behind the legal threats issued to the Mt. Horeb (Wisconsin) School District last year when they were planning a reading of I am Jazz to support a young transgender student.

As we know, the Mt Horeb community did not take kindly to these threats to their teachers, school board, or the derision aimed at the students. They responded with love by organizing public readings of the book that attracted far more attention and support for the student than would have happened in the first place.

It seems to me that when you start targeting vulnerable children in your efforts to continue to marginalize LGBT people, and try to pass clearly unconstitutional and discriminatory laws across the country based on your supposedly Christian beliefs, you have hit rock bottom and appear truly confused about what it means to be Christian and an American. Having lost your battle against marriage equality is no excuse for this kind of behavior. Perhaps that is part of the reason the group is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. It is good to know who is behind these efforts, and what their motives are. Spread the word.

Spoon Theory

I’ve been suffering with a lot of pain lately – I’m scheduled for back surgery next week – and I’ve come to relate very personally with a theory I learned via disability studies. It’s called the Spoon Theory, and the basic premise is this: for everything you do in a day, you expend a certain amount of energy and effort. For most people who are able-bodied, there’s an endless number of spoons, but for those with lupus and other conditions that leave them differently abled, there is a set number that they have to guard carefully in order to get through a day.

Here’s the original post about Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino.

It takes me twice as long to walk to work, for instance. Putting on socks is a kind of torture. I use up a lot of spoons doing ordinary, easy things, and because I’m on pain meds, I lose a few more spoons – not physical ones, but mental ones – loss of focus, inability to concentrate, etc.

I’ve been very lucky: having no chronic physical ailments, and mental health issues that have been helped by decent access to health care. But this recent injury has made me so much more aware of how much the world is designed for people who don’t need breaks to rest, who can sit or stand or walk or sleep when they need to, who don’t have to figure out how to manage limited energy and focus to get through an ordinary day.

I hope I don’t forget once I’ve recovered from my surgery, so that I keep working to make the world a little easier for those who carefully count, and guard, their spoons every single day.

Interview With An Out Crossdresser

A really nice short interview with crossdresser Miqqi Gilbert about Casa Susanna. There’s so few out CDs who are willing to be publicly know, and Miqqi has been for forever.

This is a nice 4 minute introduction to the topic.

Daily Show: Trans Special Edition

They didn’t call it that, but Friday’s episode of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah pretty much was a trans special edition: from coverage of the trans bathroom bills, to an interview with Meagan Taylor about getting arrested in Iowa, and another with Angelica Ross of TransTech, it’s a good mix of funny, serious, and info. Do check it out.

About 11 minutes in, there’s a scene where a small group of trans people ask Jessica Williams all the stupid questions they get asked was particularly satisfying. (Also, “they can go shit in their fucking hat” is now officially part of my lexicon.)

Stuff I Said

Last night at my talk at The Tool Shed in Milwaukee, a couple of people live-tweeted the event. So here’s some stuff I said, in the order I said them:

“I was the very enthusiastic girlfriend of a crossdresser & the not very enthusiastic wife of a trans woman.”

“I wasn’t bothered by my gender identity until my boyfriend was better at walking in heels.”

“I was aspiring to be at least as feminine as she was, but I gave up because I was bad at it.”

“The agreement we made: she would transition as slowly as she could, and I would catch up as quickly I could.”

“It’s not our liberation. We’re involved in a struggle that is not our struggle.”

“Transition is, by its nature, a very self-involved process.”

“For partners: if you feel like you’re not getting any support back, that’s because you’re not.”

“I keep saying “pass” but I hate it. Has anyone found a better word?” *crickets*

“Trans therapists don’t understand what we’re going through, tend to be ‘get on board or get out.’”

“As long as I expected her to be my husband, I couldn’t be the kind of friend I should be.”

“Don’t expect the same marriage after transition that you had before transition.”

“Nobody really knows what’s happening in people’s relationships beside the people in it.”

The audio was recorded, so if I get a copy of that, I’ll try to post that, too.

Me Tomorrow at The Tool Shed, MKE

Tomorrow (Thursday 4/7) I’ll be doing an event in Milwaukee at the awesome Tool Shed as part of Milwaukee’s SHARE (Sexual Health and Relationship Education) week. It’s called “PROMISES YOU CAN KEEP: Through Transition Together”

8:30 PM

Here’s where you register for it.
Here’s the Facebook event.
Here’s the FetLife listing.

Tim Hanna for Mayor

The Wisconsin primary is Tuesday, and you’re not going to get out of me who I’m voting for, because frankly, I think either Sanders or Clinton will serve this country well. I’m saving my energy for getting whoever gets the nod into office.

Because the opposition is hateful – every single one of the Republican nominees is ridiculous, divisive, and hate-minded.

But locally is a different issue: our incumbent mayor Tim Hanna, who is far from perfect, has been challenged by an ambitious newcomer, Josh Dukelow. I know both of them, and I like and respect both of them personally.

But as an LGBTQ+ person, Tim Hanna has already proved himself a supporter of my rights as a citizen and my rights to choose my family. He’s supported a diversity coordinator position, domestic partnership rights (when we still needed them, before marriage became legal on the federal level), and trans rights, and he has been transparent and upfront about supporting those rights.

Dukelow, however, wants to make the diversity coordinator position regional, which I think is a mistake. Right now Appleton has some of the strongest laws protecting us in the region, and our diversity coordinator already works with local governments on their issues.

Moreso, he hasn’t actually said he supports and will defend LGBTQ+ rights unequivocally. He also supported a family values candidate for school board.

But the important thing is this: as LGBTQ+ people in Wisconsin in a presidential election year, we know a few things:

  1. That Governor Walker is not our friend.
  2. That his nominee for State Supreme Court, Bradley, called us degenerates.
  3. That we don’t know who will become president, no matter how much I want this country to find its sanity and actually elect a competent person, which this year, means a Democrat.
  4. That it worries me that my city mayor may be the only elected representative between me and my rights, because with Walker in charge, and potentially one of these hateful Republicans as president, it will come down to whether our local representatives have the wherewithal to make sure we are valued, treated equally, and treated with respect.

All of which leads me to conclude I must, absolutely, vote for Tim Hanna again: because he has said it, he has done it, and I have no doubt that he will continue to do so despite the political climate otherwise.

Dukelow just hasn’t. I think he has some good ideas and I look forward to a day when he is ready enough to be mayor that he will absolutely, without question or hesitation, support my rights even in the face of opposition or the loss of votes. I hope he will court us in some future election for mayor, and that he might serve some other office and prove, due to his actions and not just his words, that I am valued and equal.

He hasn’t, yet. Tim Hanna has — which is why Tim Hanna is getting my vote for Mayor of Appleton.

Guest Author: Finn Enke

TFP FinnA very good piece about bathroom legislation, NC, and why public accommodations are not just about us.  Enke’s book , Transfeminist Perspectives, is one of my favorites of recent years. 

In 2015, 21 different anti-trans bills were put before legislatures in over 12 states. In the first 3 months of 2016, politicians have brought us another 44 bills in still more states. Most of these bills focus on public facilities that are sex segregated; most criminalize transgender and nonbinary people for using public facilities; most suggest that these bills are necessary for the “safety” and “privacy” of “the public;” most include a definition of “sex” as that determined by birth assignment and confirmed by birth certificate, and chromosomes. Many focus on public schools. In their rhetorical conflation of transgender with perversion and predation, and in their legitimation of excessive surveillance, they disproportionately impact people who are already most targeted: trans and queer people of color, trans women generally, and nonbinary people.

Whether or not they pass, these bills produce a climate of fear and suspicion, and they have already contributed to an increase in violence in and around bathrooms.

As a white transgender person who doesn’t “pass” well in either bathroom, I am more nervous than ever every time I need to use a public restroom (roughly 1,500 times a year).

These bills don’t originate from public concern or from any documented problem, and protests against them show that many people aren’t buying it. After all, trans people have been around forever, and there is no record of any trans person harassing anyone in a bathroom, ever. Plus, the bills themselves are staggering in their fantasies that sex could simply be flashed at the door with the wave of a birth certificate. Most people know that these bills don’t make bathrooms safe and only marginalize trans people, even making it impossible for us to use any bathroom.

We know we are political fodder. The GOP made a sudden “issue” out of our access to public facilities in order to galvanize a crumbling party. It wouldn’t be the first time the GOP has created a political platform around vilifying already-marginal communities. As John Ehrlichman explained in 1994, Nixon advisors designed the war on drugs in order to derail the Civil Rights Movement and the Viet Nam Antiwar Movement. In the midst of the Cold War, the GOP also consolidated itself around anti-abortion platforms. And from the 1990s on, the GOP turned gay marriage into the fuel behind their campaigns rather than addressing economic and environmental crises.

But even more specifically, the rhetoric surrounding these bills relies on a very old trope of white women needing protection against sinister intruders. In Wisconsin during a 9 hour public hearing about its bathroom bill, we heard from quite a few men who didn’t want their daughter or granddaughter to be vulnerable to men preying on girls in the locker room. One said, for example, “we don’t allow exhibitionists and child molesters to hang out outside of school buildings, so how can we even be talking about letting them into girl’s locker rooms?”

North Carolina State Senator David Brock shared a similar concern in response to the state paying $42,000 for an emergency session to pass SB2 which criminalizes trans people for using public facilities: “you know, $42,000 is not going to cover the medical expenses when a pervert walks into a bathroom and my little girls are in there.”

Or we can look at the campaigns against Houston Proposition 1 during 2015. Prop 1 was an Equal Rights Ordinance barring discrimination in housing and employment on the basis of gender identity as well as sex, race, disability and other protected statuses. These are rights that should already be guaranteed under the Civil Rights Act of 1963 and elaborated by Title IX and the American with Disabilities Act. Refusing to affirm these rights, those who opposed the bill claimed that the bill would allow men into women’s bathrooms. They created TV ads depicting large dark men intruding on white girls in bathroom stalls. They rhetorically turned a housing and employment nondiscrimination ordinance into a “bathroom bill,” and they succeeded; Prop One failed to pass.

And let’s not forget that the North Carolina bill also contains unchallenged sections that discriminate against workers and veterans. Against the more graphic iconography of predatory men in women’s bathrooms, the rights and workers and veterans are easily lost from view.

This is not the first time that demands for equality across race, sex and gender have been resisted with the claim that public accommodations will become spaces of unregulated danger against innocence. The face of the intruder may change slightly, but across centuries, the victim is ever and always a young white girl.

It’s also not the first time we have seen white women used in the service of sexist and racist and transphobic violence. Feminist historians have conclusively shown that the 19th and 20th c. trope of protecting young white womanhood was foremost about securing white masculinity, domesticity, and white supremacy.

Though they cause real violences, these bathroom bills are not primarily about transgender people or bathrooms. Nor have lawmakers, for all their concern about young girls being molested in bathrooms, shown similar concern about the most common forms of sexual violence and assault against girls and women (across race) that take place outside of bathrooms.

As mean as these bathroom bills are, something much larger is also at stake.  The North Carolina bill is designed primarily to strip the right of local municipalities to set their own anti-discrimination and protection laws.

We have lost all semblance of constitutional, democratic process.

These anti-trans tactics work because they succeed in directing fear away from the corporate demolition of democracy; they succeed by making people believe that the reason they are struggling and vulnerable is because some other group of people is dangerous and taking away something “we” worked hard to earn.

How, then, can we best address the fact that these bills increase everyone’s vulnerability and directly make the world less safe for people of color, people who are known or perceived to be trans, nonbinary, queer, or gender non-conforming?

While politicians vie for corporate favors at the expense of their constituents, and as more and more people struggle to maintain jobs, health, and life, we can still refuse to perpetuate hatred. Our only hope may be to refuse the rhetoric that pits people against each other. As politicians and corporations dismantle democracy, it is more crucial than ever to organize across race and class and ability, across queer and feminist and trans and straight; and to be brilliant in our resistance to cooptation.


A gay male student of mine posted this to Facebook today. Trump’s rally was happening in downtown Appleton, just blocks from our campus. I thought it summarized really well what it’s like to be one of the kinds of people Trump hates, and all of this goes double/triple/ad infinitum for those who are of color, immigrants, etc.

This morning I had to keep the Trump rally in mind, even though I have the privilege of passing if I stay quiet, tone down any effeminate qualities I might exhibit on a daily basis. I kept in mind that going downtown near where the rally would be is unsafe and ill-advised today, but since I hadn’t planned to be downtown, it was a distant threat for me. However, upon getting to class this morning, things became very personal and uncomfortable for me even before the lecture started.

A few guys to my left were talking about the Trump rally and I ended up overhearing that they had gotten tickets for it. Curiously and perhaps stupidly, I listened in to what they were talking about. From what I understood, they didn’t necessarily support Trump or his proposed policies, but rather they just wanted to be there to see people get beat up and fights breaking out. Of course, as someone who was already keeping in mind the danger of downtown, I now felt uncomfortable in class, something I did not expect.

For anybody who does not fit the model of citizen Trump endorses and privileges, a world under Trump is not only insane, it’s dangerous and terrifying. As I noted this morning, you don’t just have to worry about policies: you have to worry about the even larger mass of people who just wish ill on someone else, just for their amusement and power over them. The guys in class probably didn’t wish ill on me for being gay or for my often very liberal views, but by hoping for violence at the Trump rally, they indirectly are wishing violence upon me. People who support Trump or people who just want to see the violence out in the world are indirectly supporting an environment in which many people who don’t fit Trump’s view of “a great America” have to fear daily harassment or assault, possibly for reasons they can’t even control.

This is not something that is easy to think about. However, if you are privileged enough to only have to consider this kind of violence because you’re reading this, please understand that for some people, this fear and terror is a reality every day already, but even more so if Trump ascends to power. All I ask is that you consider this.

Help Fund Stuff for Trans/GNC Youth

So here’s a cool idea: you donate money, even small amounts, and help pay for boxes of useful stuff to go to trans/GNC youth who need them, stuff like binders or bras, books on trans issues, stand to pee devices, and the like.

You can donate here – and you can even just donate to send a letter of support that will go in someone’s box.

Seems like a great idea. Here’s more from their IndieGoGo campaign:

The Problem:

Nearly ½ of trans persons have seriously considered suicide.* They’re also far more likely to attempt.

Collectively, gender-diverse and trans people are also far more likely to be victims of interpersonal violence.* The Trans Murder Monitoring Project reports 1,374 deaths since January 2008.

78% of gender non-conforming youth report “significant abuse at school.”*

It’s also a diversity issue.* Hispanic and Black youth who identify as transgender or gender diverse in any way are twice as likely to attempt suicide.

We want this to change. We believe we can play a role in that change, with you.

Our Solution:

We see access to the simplest things can be denied. We want to provide trans and gender-diverse youth with an easy means to get what they need– be it toiletries, clothing, or higher-end items like binders, binaried clothing, and bras.

Subscription boxes are a trending way of trying out new products, or getting access to things you need every so-often. We’d like to provide subscription boxes with pride items, books selected by the community around this project (see our “Community” header, later), binders, bras, clothing item of the binary the recipient wants, and other great items into a completely customizeable subscription box package.
Every box purchased by a sponsor gives one to a trans or non-binary spectrum youth.
This is the most important part of the project to us. Providing youth with access to items which they may need, and also providing them with a Letter of Encouragement (which will be handwritten and unique, and come in every youth box), is a small way of helping trans youth who might be in an un-supportive or financially strapped home.I know you– you’re asking how we can do this. The best way to help this project is to purchase something (for yourself or someone close to you) or to share the project!

Providers’ Day Mini Conference – Milwaukee 4/4

I’ll be doing a presentation at The Tool Shed for Milwaukee’s SHARE week, but I wanted to call your attention to a cool event that will be happening that’s for health providers. It’s one day, $100 (which includes lunch) and covers a huge array of material:

Session One: Talking About Senior Sex with Joan Price
Session Two: Making Your Practice Transgender Friendly with Ashley Altadonna and Hudson P.
Session Three: Compassionate Care for Kinky People with Sophia Chase
Session Four: Ready, Sexy, Able: Sex and Disability with Robin Mandell

Really, an awesome lineup for doctors, covering sex for seniors, trans people, kink, and disability. It’s a pretty amazing way for healthcare providers to gain valuable information on working with any/all of these types of clients.

Do forward this to your healthcare providers and encourage them to attend.

You can register here.

Teaching While Racist? A Clarification

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to clarify an issue that’s been brought up as a result of my having written Teaching While White.

The issue is #5, which states: “If you’re white, assume you’re racist.” I want to say, upfront, that it was #1 in my list until a colleague and friend told me that might keep people from reading the rest, and I thought she was right.Now I think it sometimes enables people to discount the rest of what I wrote.

So let me clarify: in feminism, as in critical race theory, we see systems. We see individuals living in, negotiating, confronting or going along with those systems. And the system in question is racism, or white supremacy, or whatever you want to call the state of affairs in the US that allows the kind of racism that Coates and a million others — Dr. King and Malcolm X, the Black Lives Matter activists, etc. — have documented. I don’t need or want to talk about that here.
That said, if you see that racism is still a pervasive part of American life, I’d agree with you.

What it isn’t, usually, is the kind of straight-up bigotry we’re used to identifying as racism.

It is a system which benefits white people. Period.

What’s in your heart toward black culture and black people – which are, mind you, two very different things, and white people generally find it easier to embrace the former than the latter – doesn’t really have anything to do with it. (A quick thank you to a colleague who objected to my piece politely by mentioning what was in his heart, here, as I would have never realized what needed clarification without him.) White people do need to examine what’s in their hearts when it comes to race, what’s in our minds. Only recently in reading a criticism of Coates’ portrayal of black masculinity did I think: not one black man I have ever known has ever fit that stereotype. Not even a little. That’s the kind of thing that’s there, the ideas we’ve all imbibed from media, from portrayals of blacks in movies, on the news, in literature. We have imbibed them because we don’t have much of a choice – the same way that we imbibe sexism, rape culture, and patriarchy. Unlike a lot of white people, I’ve known a lot of black men (and laugh all you want, but some of them are old and dear friends, ha).

So when I say, “if you’re white, you’re racist” I mean only to say that you have been raised to believe you are better or, at the very least, different than black people. I do. I know it. I own it. I try to work against it as much and as often as I can. As a white working class person, I became aware that the only difference between me and other working class people who are brown was my race, and that has benefitted me in insane ways that embarrass and humble me.

It’s just that. Not any kind of personal indictment, nothing of the kind. It’s only meant to let people know that unless you’re actively fighting against the system, you’re part of it, you’re upholding it and even enforcing it because that’s how it works. Johnson, who theorizes patriarchy, talks about it as a “path of least resistance” — and when it comes to white supremacy, that path of least resistance is being racist. It’s seeing weapons after looking at a black child’s face. It’s assuming black people can sustain more pain than whites. And even if you don’t believe these things actively, they change the way you are in the world and the way you deal with black and brown people. If you don’t want it to, then you have to do anti racist work – which all anti racists do in their own individual ways. And *even then* it’s still going to catch you out when you’re not paying attention.

So if you’re white and you’re not actively doing anti racist work, you’re racist. Not because you’re an asshole. Often it’s because of white privilege, which guards us from having to think about race at all. And honestly, it should piss you off that the system you live in encourages you to be a shitty human being without realizing it, that pulls the wool over your eyes for you, so much so that you can’t even recognize it for what it is.

“I Am Real” – Brynn Tannehill Being Awesome

Seattle: Trans Activist Danni Askini Is Running for Office

She’s running for an open seat in the Washington State House of Representatives, 43rd legislative district.

She’s 33, trans, and awesome. She’s the founder and director of the Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and would be the first openly trans person ever elected to the Washington State Legislature.

“It will send a really powerful message that extreme attacks in Olympia from ultra-conservative Republicans are not going to deter people from fighting for our shared values in the 43rd,” Askini says. “I think it would have a lot of meaning to the whole community.”

What she does need is your vote of support – financially. Backers are not convinced a trans person can run and win, so she needs donations from all of you – whatever you can manage.

I met Danni a long time ago now (and interviewed her a few years back) and she has consistently, overwhelmingly, earned my respect over the years.

A Message for Super Tuesday

Don't let Trump fool you: rightwing populism is the new normal

It might be tempting to view the political success of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as something uniquely American. But, argues Gary Younge, rightwing populism and scapegoating of society’s vulnerable is cropping up all across the west. This is what happens when big business has more power than governments

Posted by The Guardian on Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Me @ The Tool Shed, MKE

I’ll be doing an event on Thursday, April 7th in Milwaukee at the awesome Tool Shed as part of Milwaukee’s SHARE (Sexual Health and Relationship Education) week.

Here’s where you register for it.
Here’s the Facebook event.
Here’s the FetLife listing.

And here’s SHARE’s FB page, if you want to keep informed of what they’re doing – they have a whole week of educational events set up, with so many awesome people, including Reid Mihalko (Rough Sex for Nice Folks), Sophia Chase (Sex for Survivors), and Jiz Lee (Coming Out Like a Porn Star). Looks like it’s going to be an amazing week & I’m happy to be part of it.

Malcolm X: 51 Years Ago Today

Half a century, and I don’t think we’ve ever recovered from losing what he brought to the table.

I used to walk the path his stretcher took from the Audubon Ballroom to the emergency room on a regular basis; it was up at 168th Street, brought to my attention because Columbia wanted to demolish it (after ongoing rallies to save it, they instead they built into it, integrating the ballroom into their design, which wasn’t good enough, but it was better than nothing.

From his last speech, “The Black Revolution and its Effect Upon the Negro of the Western Hemisphere”, at Columbia U, on February 18th, 1965:

“We are living in an era of revolution,” Malcolm told the crowd, “and the revolt of the American’ Negro is part of the rebellion against the oppression and colonialism which has characterized this era.” “It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of black against white or as a purely American problem,” he said. “Rather, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter.” “We are interested in practicing brotherhood with anyone really interested in living according to it,” the black nationalist explained. “But the white man has long preached an empty doctrine of brotherhood which means little more than a passive acceptance of his fate by the Negro.” The black leader told the audience that the African blacks had won the battle for “political freedom and human dignity” and stated that the American black “must now take any means necessary to secure his full rights as an individual human being.”

I’ve always loved photos of him smiling because of what Ossie Davis said at his funeral: “They will say that he is of hate — a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle,” Davis said. “And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you?”

(Malcolm X Speaks is the book I’d recommend, if anyone’s interested.)

South Dakota Veto?

It’s up to you. The governor of South Dakota still has the chance to veto the anti-trans law – and he is, at least, willing to (finally) meet some trans students before he makes his decision, which means he should also hear from people about why he needs to veto this hateful law.

Be respectful but clear.
Sign the petition.

New Headshot

… because I cut my hair.

Gail Helen Kramer - 2016-148-Edit-X2

Happy Valentine’s Day