Witness: Rachel See at SCOTUS

My friend Rachel See of NCTE was in the courtroom today and wrote this compelling observation about what it was like.:

I don’t think I’ll be able to forget the look I saw from the bench. Near the start of the first case, Justice Kavanaugh looked up from whatever he was reading and seemed to stare straight at me. Straight through me. I met his gaze for a few moments, and then I realized that Aimee Stephens was sitting immediately behind me.

I don’t know what was running through Justice Kavanaugh’s mind. He asked a single question this morning, about whether the statute used the literal or the ordinary meaning of the word “sex”. I feel incapable of reading those tea leaves.

But in those few lingering moments, feeling his gaze upon me, I felt literally judged, as a trans woman, by a man in a position to affect the lives of me and my family and friends and the 1.4 million trans adults in America. A man with the power to declare, as Justice Sotomayor suggests the Court should say, that “invidious discrimination” against LGBT people must stop now, and that courts can and should use the broad language of Title VII to do so. But also a man with the power to declare, as our adversaries would have him say, that sex assigned at birth is destiny, and that an employer can dictate where you pee. And, by extension, someone with the power to declare that “invidious discrimination” against LGBT people will be permitted by the law, and even be encouraged in the name of “religious freedom”.

It is the most-uncomfortable I’ve ever felt in a courtroom. My heart goes out to Aimee Stephens, who felt the true focus of that gaze and the scrutiny of the Court and the media and all the vile hatred that we see on Twitter and “in the comments”. Aimee looked so tired this afternoon; who wouldn’t be tired, under all that scrutiny? I can’t imagine what she’s been through these past months, and I am in awe at her quiet strength and perseverance.

For all the discomfort I felt from Justice Kavanaugh’s scrutiny, the message I want to deliver to my trans and nonbinary friends is that you are seen by people who love you. You are seen by people who look upon you with friendship, with compassion, with love. By your chosen family, by allies, by people who will fight for all of us. In a few months we may very well lose at the Supreme Court; win or lose on these cases, the fight will continue. And we will not be alone, because we exist. We are seen. We are loved.

Life Coach: Kate Bornstein

I just recently found out, during a brief trip to NYC, that Kate Bornstein has started doing life coaching! How cool is that?

From Kate’s website:

What is Heart to Heart Coaching With Kate?

A coaching session is you and I talking about your life in gender. You decide what issue(s) you want to work on and what results you’d like to achieve. My job is to help you…

  • get clear about what you want
  • identify and name areas of your life where gender is causing you to suffer
  • find some immediate relief from that suffering
  • identify blocks or beliefs standing between you and the happiness you’re looking for
  • take positive action by giving you a plan tailored for your who you are, how you live, and whatever resources you’ve got in terms of available time, energy and health.

How cool is that? I’m thinking about taking her up on it myself, to be honest.

You can read more or contact her if you know you’re already interested: katebornsteincoaching@gmail.com

TDOR 2018

For this year’s TDOR, I want to highlight a beautiful piece by none other than S. Bear Bergman, who writes about being scared in the dark and gathering light by drawing both on trans experience and on Jewish experience.

This fall was a rough one for trans people and for Jewish people with the news out of the WH and the Tree of Life shooting, so I just wanted to affirm the beauty that is transness and the beauty that is Jewishness.

My life would be so much darker without these two communities who know how to hold fast in the dark.

Love to all of you. Let Bear’s words inspire you and keep you warm today:

“I hope that someday trans people too have the moment to call such a signal light out of darkness, that we too can celebrate our resistance with friends and family. I would enjoy it very much. But until then, we are going to have continue to resist, and we are going to have to get better and smarter and more cohesive and more compassionate and more resolute and more fabulous in our resistance. That is the light that we can call out of this darkness. We are the light that we can call out of this darkness.”

Gay Trans Men

I asked friends on Facebook recently for stories, memoir, or narratives of whatever kind about gay trans men negotiating sex with cis gay men.

Here’s what we came up with:

If anyone knows of any others, do let me know or add others in the comments.

In Response To The New York Times’ October 21 Story “Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence”

from Mara Keisling of NCTE:

“This proposal is an attempt to put heartless restraints on the lives of 2 million people, effectively abandoning our right to equal access to health care, to housing, to education, or to fair treatment under the law. This administration is willing to disregard the established medical and legal view of our rights and ourselves to solidify an archaic, dogmatic, and frightening view of the world. This transparent political attack will not succeed administratively, legally, or morally.

In the name of preempting some misinformation, let’s talk about what this proposed rule would not do. It would not eliminate the precedents set by dozens of federal courts over the last two decades affirming the full rights and identities of transgender people. It would not undo the consensus of the medical providers and scientists across the globe who see transgender people, know transgender people, and urge everyone to accept us for who we are. And no rule—no administration—can erase the experiences of transgender people and our families. While foolish, this proposed rule deflates itself in the face of the facts, and the facts don’t care how the Trump administration feels.

To transgender people: I know you are frightened. I know you are horrified to see your existence treated in such an inhumane and flippant manner. What this administration is trying to do is an abomination, a reckless attack on your life and mine. But this administration is also staffed by inexperienced amateurs overplaying their hand by taking extreme positions that ignore law, medicine, and basic human decency.

With each awful headline like this, remember that you are far from alone. NCTE and other organizations are continuing to fight against this bigotry. Remember that there is an entire human rights community that not only stands with us but will always fight back—and fight hard. Thousands of us have devoted our lives to protecting you and your families, and our ability to do so is nothing short of a privilege. And we will not lay down now.

Transgender people have fought rules like this one in federal and state court and won. We have stood toe-to-toe with administrators, legislatures, and executives who would agree with this rule and yet we won. We have fought and will continue to fight for The Equality Act, a bill currently in Congress that would explicitly enshrine civil rights protections for transgender people—Congress must pass this long overdue bill now. We know how to defeat this, and we will do everything we can until every transgender person feels secure in their rights under the law.

At the heart of our work at NCTE is the belief that no one should have to suffer just to be true to themselves. And yet transgender people are still often forced from their homes, fired from their jobs, harassed at their schools, and denied the most basic level of dignity by a broken system. Knowing this, millions of transgender people wake up every day and step into an uncertain world. This is the most common trait shared by transgender people: A strength and resilience for hard and difficult times. If this administration is hoping to demoralize us, they will be disappointed. If they are hoping we will give up, they should reconsider the power of our persistence and our fury.”

 

Trans Artists & the Oscars

Daniela Vega, you may have heard, is the first out trans person to present at the Oscars.

Yance Ford was nominated for his movie Strong Island, which is a shattering, incredible documentary.

In past years, other trans artists to receive Oscar nominations include:

  • In 1974 (1974!) songwriter Angela Morley for scoring The Slipper and the Rose: The Story of Cinderella and The Little Prince
  • In 2016, singer Anohni (formerly of Antony & the Johnson) for “Manta Ray” from the documentary Racing Extinction, and
  • In 2017, visual effects artist Paige Warner for helping to develop ILM’s facial performance-capture solving system.

Let’s get those numbers up, shall we?

Weekly Trans Roundup: 2/4-2/10/18

Since I’ll be doing most of my writing on Patreon these days (do sign up! it’s only $1/month!), I’ve decided that I’ll also do a weekly round up of some of the most trans relevant news I’ve seen in the past week.

Chelsea Manning Isn’t the Only Trans Candidate You Should Know About is a brief article about some of the other awesome trans candidates running in the US.

This cool video by Blake Cully on what it’s like to be trans and deaf.

This awesome sartorial history of pink and blue as the colors for babies from KSPS:

Another great video about Charlotte:

A video by a cis man calling for greater inclusion of trans women (at the women’s march & beyond).

Iowa City added a third gender option.

This cool story about decolonizing sexuality at a Two Spirit Pow Wow.

The announcement that a new book called The Singing Teacher’s Guide to Transgender Voices is now available.

A great article on ‘walking while trans’ about criminalization of trans identities focused primarily on the NYPD.

And sadly, the obituary of the fourth trans woman killed this year, Celine Walker, age 36, who was killed in Jacksonville, FL.

RIP Ben Barres

Ben Barres was a personal hero of mine. He was the person who convinced me, by words and deeds, that trans people are an important tool in the feminist toolkit, precisely because they have lived aware of gender on both sides of the (binary) fence.

I added an article he wrote for Nature about the lack of diversity in the sciences to the Intro to Gender Studies class I teach at Lawrence. I’m glad to have introduced his work to many, many students over the years, and to have passed on his recommendations for how to be truly inclusive in the sciences.

He was the lead client in TLDEF’s amicus brief in support of Gavin Grimm’s suit, according to TLDEF’s ED Jillian Weiss.

He studied glial cells in a search for a cure – or more understanding – of diseases like Parkinson’s & Alzhimer’s. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – which sadly & famously is a cruel & fast cancer – he made sure anyone who needed one got a letter of recommendation.

Standford’s tribute, and his friend Marc Tessier-Levigne’s tribute, tell you so much more about this brilliant, just man.

I never got to meet him and only admired him from a distance. Love to his family, friends, and colleagues.