Whenever I read an article like this one, after I stop being annoyed by the use of the old “hermaphrodite” term – especially when they entirely fail to mention that intersex took its place a long while back – I always have one question: what is with the desire to “fix” something like this condition? While the experience for the individuals in question is no doubt perplexing, does it have to be stigmatized, too?

I’m thinking of an alternate, holistic way of how we might deal with genders like these:

  1. come up with a term for “girls who grow up to be men”
  2. create a coming-of-age ritual, something akin to Quinceañera or Confirmation or Bat Mitzvah, or even some secular version
  3. establish bureaucratic protocols for the individuals in question
  4. instead of copping a “wow, nature can really fuck up” attitude, try a “what amazing natural variation is possible” instead.
  5. stop repeating the bullshit about how they need “complicated sex change surgery to live normal lives”

That is, recognize them as a gender, acknowledge that all paths to adulthood are not the same, that penises are swell but not everything, & let them get on with their lives.

Cooter Couture

Saturday is a good day to talk about vaginas, no? AlterNet seems to think so, with this lovely article about all the stuff the health & beauty industry thinks is wrong with yours, & how they can fix it: with surgery, bleach, dye, douches, deodorant, & mints. Yes, mints. They did forget one recent beauty aid, however:

Problem: Your vagina is plain.

Solution: Vajazzle.

Really, folks, you can get your beaver bejeweled now with tiny crystals to make it glitter like a disco ball.

That’s pretty much 7 quick paths to a yeast infection. None of these procedures is ever encouraged by anyone with a legitimate medical degree, and most of them can cause serious harm. Regular bathing & cotton panties may seem so old-fashioned, but it’s still what the best-kept vaginas are wearing.

(h/t to Diane for the vajazzling)


I’ve always wanted to see Nepal, and it seems now I’ve got an additional reason to go:

The traditionally conservative country’s Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex are natural persons irrespective of their masculine and feminine gender and they have the right to exercise their rights and live an independent life in society.”  Nepali homosexuals are afforded all of the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, and Nepal has even offered a “third sex” option for its national ID cards.  Gay and gay-friendly clubs now abound in Kathmandu and the Blue Diamond Society keeps the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community appraised of relevant information with a brightly-colored and cheerful website.

(thanks to Cris for the link)

Double Whammy: Zinn & Salinger

The world has gotten significantly less smart in the past two days: first we lost the people’s historian, Howard Zinn, whose books educated so many of us as to the real legacy of American Populism.

& Today: Salinger.

I can’t come up with anything better to do than dig the heels of my hands into my eyes and sit, fully dressed, in a bathroom stall, with my own grief. You remember the scene: it’s from Franny & Zoey.

Let me say right here & now that I don’t care if he wrote or what he wrote since he’s been in exile. It’s not like there have been any American authors that even touch his four books’ worth of genius.

Transgender College Athletes

An interesting article from Inside College Ed on trans athletes at the college level states:

For the most part, athletic teams at high schools and colleges are segregated by sex and divided into men’s and women’s teams. For transgender students, determining on which gender’s team, if any, they will be allowed to play can be a difficult process fraught with misconceptions, ignorance and discrimination. Few high school or collegiate athletic programs, administrators or coaches are prepared to address a transgender student’s interest in participating in athletics in a systematic, fair and effective manner. Few athletes have been given the information that would prepare them to participate on a team with a teammate whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth.


If I’m not mistaken, the President just reprimanded the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Supreme Court, and did all of it with a smile on his face & a reminder of our shared love for this country.

From the NYS Pride Agenda

GENDA could pass this winter – take action now!

Last week when we wrote to you about the Senate marriage vote, we told you we’d be reaching out again soon about our plans for 2010. Today, we’re updating you on our legislative priority for this winter: to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).

GENDA would amend the state’s human rights law to include anti-discrimination protections based upon gender identity and expression, providing crucial civil rights protections for transgender New Yorkers by banning discrimination in housing, employment, credit, public accommodations, and other areas of everyday life. It would also add gender identity and expression to the state’s bias crime laws to help protect transgender people from violence. Last month, Governor Paterson signed an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression for state employees—but our work isn’t over until ALL New Yorkers are protected by a comprehensive law banning discrimination against transgender people.

We need you to take action NOW. With just two phone calls to Senators, you can help us win:

1. Call Senator Tom Duane, lead sponsor of GENDA, at (518) 455-2451. Ask Senator Duane to bring the bill to the floor for a vote in February.

2. Call your own Senator to tell them that you expect them to bring GENDA to the floor and vote in support of it. You can find your State Senator’s Albany phone number here.

Here are some talking points for your calls:

1. Remember to tell your Senator the number of the GENDA bill (S.2406).

2. Ask your Senator to vote for GENDA, and if you are able to attend a legislative meeting, ask to meet with him or her to discuss the urgency of passing this bill right away.

3. Tell them about the urgent need for GENDA:

  • Due to difficulty with job discrimination, one-fifth of transgender New Yorkers have incomes below $10,000 a year.
  • 28% of transgender New Yorkers have experienced a serious physical or sexual assault motivated by hate.

4.  Remind them that GENDA enjoys broad support statewide, including:

  • 78% of New York voters
  • Unions representing 2.1 million working New Yorkers
  • 30 Fortune 500 companies based in cities like Rochester, Corning, New York City and White Plains
  • 547 clergy and lay leaders representing over 20 different denominations

Continue reading “From the NYS Pride Agenda”

Two Tune Tuesday: Cuban Tunes

One of the things I like best about where I work is that there’s a ton of music around, because Lawrence has its own Conservatory. I go to stuff all the time; a few weeks ago I caught a lecture/performance of Cuban music and since then have been poking around, asking people like my parents (who cha cha cha’d their way into marriage, as it were, & are Xavier Cugat fans).

A tiny detail: Tito Puente wasn’t himself Cuban but Puerto Rican, but the music he popularized (but didn’t invent) was Afro-Cuban. Benny More was known as the “Sinatra of Cuba” and there’s a cool book about him called Wildman of Rhythm: The Life and Music of Benny Moré.

Tomboy Sues Former Employer

The St. Louis Court of Appeals reversed a previous decision that stated Brenna Lewis could not sue her employer for firing her – for being too masculine.

Citing court records, the AP reports that Cullinan prefers to wear loose-fitting clothes such as men’s button-down shirts and slacks. She has been mistaken for a man and referred to as “tomboyish,” the story says. Cullinan, meanwhile, said Lewis lacked the “Midwestern girl look” and was heard saying that Heartland staff should be pretty, especially for women working at the front desk, the AP story says, citing court records.

I hope she wins. & Honestly, I hope Cullinan loses her job for making such a dumb-ass decision.

(h/t to Courtney)