Category > Transgender Issues
Oct 30, 2015
This week I was honored to have attended two events in which Alicia Garza, the cofounder of Black Lives Matter, presented at. First, Alicia is dope! She had this chill, honest, and welcoming ambiance that traveled through the Grand Ballroom. In a room of 500 people, I felt as if we were having a direct conversation because of her intense eye contact and constant scanning of the room. It was a lovely, captivating almost three-hour event.
Garza discussed many different topics having to do with her activism, daily challenges, and having a Black Lives Matters presidential debate (now that would be interesting!). Interestingly enough, Garza’s activism began at twelve years old in reproductive justice! She believed that all people, no matter what age, color, race, should have access to contraceptives and receive comprehensive sex education. Can you imagine a twelve year old advocating for this?! She kept up with this activism through college. After she graduated, she began to organize. The Black Lives Matter hashtag began after Garza wrote a blog which she published an ended with “…” And that is when the movement was born.
Few things I didn’t know before attending this event: 1) The Black Lives Matter movement goes past our national borders. There are official chapters in Toronto and Ghana. Many think of Canada as racism-free country. However, many similar issues such as police killings of Black men are occurring as well. For example, a black man, Andrew Loku, was killed by police outside of his apartment after allegedly confronting his upstairs neighbor about loud noise. Another issue in Canada is what they call “carding”. This occurs when a police officer stops a citizen on the street or in a car for no apparent reason. The officer proceeds to ask for identification which they then store in the police database. This act of “carding” disproportionately affects people of color, especially Blacks. 2) The Black Lives Matter movement was started by three queer Black women. This surprised me because in a movement where the main focus seems to be spotlighted on Black heterosexual men, three queer Black women pushed the agenda and made the lives of their Black brothers seen. The erasure of contributions can no longer occur. These identities (queer, black, woman) are already disregarded in society but is occurring in the movement too. But this movement asserts that ALL Black lives matter: gay, straight, transgender, light skin, dark skin, young, old, and many more. If we ignore one identity, we’re not being true to the movement.
Sep 26, 2015
I am 14. Right now, I am a “boy”, but I have always felt different. I wore dresses, heels, and feminine clothing until I was 5. Growing up in the South, LGBTQIA+ isn’t that accepted. Anywho, I don’t know if I am Transgender or just crazy.
Aug 17, 2015
This week we asked members of the Girls Engagement Advisory Board to respond to the question: What would a sex ed curriculum have to include to be relevant to your community?
In Nepalese community, curriculum based on sex education is must from grade 6 to 10. Students are taught almost everything mentioned in books. In my opinion LGBTI issues and safe abortion should be given priority. – Muna KC, Nepal
The word ‘sex’ is banned for usage in most schools in Pakistan. Even the thought of sex education is far fetched for these schools. We NEED a sex education subject in our school to teach the girls and boys about safe/unsafe sex, menstruation , puberty, contraceptives etc. There is literally nil knowledge of such concepts in most Pakistani schools, especially in the rural areas. This is because conservative groups believe it is against our religion and culture whereas the liberals believe teaching about sex encourages sex. Even a basic knowledge of safe sex could do wonders to our community. This can be taught in 8th/9th grade to prevent opposition from various groups. – Hamna Tariq, Pakistan
Unfortunately, in Egyptian society, any term which includes the word ‘sex’ is immediately dismissed and thought of as inappropriate. So, as a starting solution, I think the government should add a class to every school starting grade 7 or 8 for example and call it “family planning.” The curriculum taught in this class should include information about safe sex, abortion, contraceptives, and of course the importance of family planning. Moreover, it should clarify that the use of contraceptives is not against religion, that FGM is extremely harmful and not a part of religion, and that a lot of beliefs regarding sexual and reproductive health in the rural areas are not based on true facts or stories.
In my school, we have sex ed in high school but unfortunately this is only because it is a private international school. In most schools, no sex ed is offered to students and so if this changes, the lives of many Egyptians will too.- Mai Yassin, Egypt
Sex education in schools in Nigeria is encouraging and more rampant in the west but still lacking in the east and most especially the north. In the western town of Lagos, where I reside, sex education is included in the secondary school curriculum and is taught via social studies, basic science and civic education. All topics are taught except family planning as abstinence is the only form taught. This is as a result of the cultural and societal beliefs around family planning, religion is also a big contributor.
Sex education needs to be taught in all parts of Nigeria and all parts of the world. In the north in Nigeria maternal mortality is on the rise, early marriage is still widely accepted, and gender inequality lingers on. A lot needs to be taught through sex education to eradicate such issues.- Elizabeth Williams, Nigeria
May 14, 2015
Hello! I’m kinda new to this, but I just discovered this site. My name is Miles, and I am a transgender male, or at least I consider myself one. Anyway, I am 16, and have not yet begun transitioning which sucks! Anyway, um, I told two of my best friends that I was transgender today, and they took it REALLY well. They both started calling me by my pronouns, and changed my contact name in their phones. I’m just really happy, because I thought they were going to freak out, but they didn’t. I wish everyone was like that. Anyway, I guess that’s all I have for today. Bye!
Apr 28, 2015
“I’m saying goodbye to people’s perception of me and who I am. I’m not saying goodbye to me, because this has always been me.” – Bruce Jenner, 20/20, April 2015
“I don’t mind being different. Different is special! I thinkwhat matters most is what a person is like inside. And inside, I am happy. I am having fun. I am proud!” – Jazz Jennings, transgender teenager
“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights.” – Leelah Alcorn
Nearly 17 million people tuned in this weekend to watch Bruce Jenner discuss his transgender identity on 20/20, with millions more discussing the issue online. The groundbreaking interview and surrounding media discussion may be the most Americans have ever heard about transgender identity and life. Twitter was full of admiration for his authenticity and frankness and for his family’s whole-hearted support. But others have pointed out that positioning a famous, wealthy, white person as the face of transgender issues does a disservice to those who have less privilege and safety in their lives.
Will this interview usher in a new era of understanding and acceptance for transgender people? What does it mean for transgender young people?
In many ways it has been an astonishing year for transgender visibility. Amazon’s show Transparent won two Golden Globes, one for best show and one for best actor for Jeffery Tambor’s depiction of gender-transitioning Maura. President Obama mentioned transgender Americans in his State of the Union address. California became the first state to pass a law ensuring transgender students the right to use public facilities and play on sports teams which match their gender, with other school districts following suit. Transgender actress Laverne Cox continued her role as Sophia on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. And author and activist Janet Mock took on Piers Morgan when he used inaccurate and sensationalist language to describe her.
But as visibility grew, many trans teens continued to suffer. Seventeen year old Leelah Alcorn took her own life after her parents denied her trans identity and forced her to go to conversion therapy. Blake Brockington, the first transgender homecoming king in North Carolina and an outspoken activist, died by suicide in March. Taylor Alesena, whose youtube videos about her transgender identity inspired and gave support to thousands of teens nationwide, died by suicide in April.
Bills which deliberately misunderstand and endanger transgender teens are proliferating at the state level. Lawmakers in Nevada, Minnesota, Florida, Texas, and Kentucky have introduced bills which would require transgender students to use the bathroom and play on the sports team which matches the sex on their birth certificate, with offenders facing a fine or even jail time.
Transgender people face a discrimination so profound that it endangers their lives: denied employment and discriminated against in housing, they face high levels of homelessness and HIV.
And transgender people, especially transgender people of color, face violence. Seven transgender women have been murdered in 2015, most of them women of color. In Oakland, a transgender teen was set on fire as she rode the bus. A student in Michigan was relentlessly bullied, and the principal’s only response was to say “If she’s going to dress like a boy she needs to toughen up.”
Misunderstanding. Bigotry. Violence. Legal sanctions for just being who you are. It’s a tough world for a young person to grow up in.
Yet in this harsh environment, so many young people around the nation are working for change. Fourteen year old Jazz Jennings is the star of the upcoming TLC reality show All That Jazz and the author of I Am Jazz, a children’s book about what it is like to be a transgender child. Sixteen year old Chase Culpepper recently won a lawsuit against the DMV in South Carolina after they forced her to remove her makeup and effectively erase her trans identity on her driver’s license; the DMV will now allow makeup and will remove language that bans “misrepresenting” gender. Thirteen-year-old Avery Kaplan crafted a plan for transgender inclusion and brought it to his school officials, even sparking the formation of the school’s first sexuality and gender alliance club. Eighteen year old Foster Noone has worked tirelessly for transgender rights in Louisiana and for inclusive sex education laws in Alabama.
While Bruce Jenner is certainly facing his share of abuse, he has wealth, celebrity, and privilege to protect him. What can protect a teenager growing up in a hostile and rejecting environment?
In order for transgender teens to thrive, we need an immediate, all hands on deck approach. We need to respect the voices of the transgender teens leading the way. We need supportive school environments in which transgender teens’ rights are protected by law – and for the backlash against transgender people that has led to “bathroom policing bills” to stop. We need sex education which includes information about gender identity and acceptance. We need supportive parents, like the mom who helped Avery Kaplan navigate policies at his school, and an end to family rejection and abuse masquerading as therapy.
And we sorely need to change a cultural conversation that stigmatizes and mocks transgender issues. Let’s pay attention to Bruce Jenner’s forthrightness and courage. Let’s also pay attention to Jazz Jennings, Chase Culpepper, Avery Kaplan, and Foster Noone. And to Leelah Alcorn, Blacke Brockington, Taylor Alesena, and transgender teens everywhere. They are building a world of acceptance. It’s our job to support them however we can.
Apr 20, 2015
Its not daily that we come across people who may be looking at us from another orientation but when most of us do- we tend to ignore those people and give out the signal that society is not ready to accept them. Similarly, we also come across brutes who disregard the importance of women and consider them as material things and hence measure them in terms of money.
Just recently, a 31 Year Old Doctor from India committed suicide blaming her husband as he had lied about his sexual orientation and also accused him for asking for dower. It should be of no surprise to these people since in reality, this is what society in this region of the world teaches. Dower, polygny, betrayal and treatment of women as a third class citizen is as common as one can imagine.
Many from the society in which this man was nurtured would stand up to abuse and blame him for the events that happened but in reality, is the society not to blame?
A husband who lied to his wife about his sexual orientation since the common society did not accept him as a human is indeed the fault of society. Why was it that he was not able to reveal such an important reality about his life when his mother possibly forcibly married the two in a union without even having know each other? The first crime that this society committed was by making that man shy of revealing his reality. Secondly, due to the constraints that prevail in India and most of the region, the husband and wife were not able to know each other for any or at least a moderate period of time before the marriage hence the incapacity to reveal secrets and trust each other. Had the two known each other for some time, maybe he could have revealed to her that he was not a straight male. Similarly, this could have saved us from this absolute cruel to hear story.
Now, coming onto the second main point. In a society where a woman’s family is expected to give large sums of money, why is it that many expect another male member of the society to not do the same? Had these trends not been publicized and supported by the families of many- He would most possibly never had asked her for any money in the form of dower and saved her from a lot of mental duress and physical torture.
At the end, it all sums up to one and an only main point. A person’s personality is structured more by his surroundings and less by himself and in a society where dower and such things are widely acceptable even if “Illegal by law”- There is no way that another man even if a doctor would stop from doing so. Simultaneously- accepting what a man or women wants should be the society’s job but instead making one shy to reveal himself is not acceptable at all and hence today we are seeing such horrific results today.
Bring change in yourself, in the society and learn to accept what one’s sexual orientation is. Do not discourage and abuse a person if he is gay/lesbian/transgender but do abuse him if he asks for dower. Stand against the wrong, not a humans thinking! #Support Ones Sexual Orientation! #Demoralize those who support dower because women are equal and humans. Empower those who gave us birth!
Apr 15, 2015
“It always starts but then it suddenly ends. They come for a week and then I just never see them for months” Said Ameena (Original Name not disclosed for security purposes)a housewife who barely gets to see her family.
She was married at the ripe age of 19 without even the slightest of her consent as her dream to continue forth a career in Journalism was shattered. From dreams of being an Anchor at a Political Scrutiny Show, she was brought down to the bitter reality of life of a woman in Pakistan. She was told that she does not need to pursue any career as her sole purpose of existence was to give birth and please her man. Hiding her tears to uphold her parents dignity- She threw away her dreams and got married to a bachelor known for criminal charges in the city. Her parents married her since their view of a woman’s life was just like that of a slave to her man. Forgetting everything, she still managed to get through with all tradition and marry the man her parents intended for her to marry. They thought he would protect her but the reality intervened and the mad man could not even protect her wife from himself. 2 Years later; Ameena found herself trapped in the same house without any medical help with 2 broken bones and miscarriage. She lost her child and the full function of her left arm after which she was kicked out of the house by her brutal husband who was supposed to “protect” her. She cried her way back home asking for random strangers to help but none decided to aid the poor lady. At last after 2 Miles of Walking with blood all over her body she arrived at her parents door. They didn’t welcome her, they threw her away as you would throw a tin into a bin. Their first sentence “He is you husband, he holds rights over you, Go back-Apologies and make him happy”. She begged and begged until her brother broke the silence and decided to take her to a hospital. She decided never again to go back to her house again and today; She works as a columnist for a renound Newspaper today. 2 years of abuse, a broken bone for helping her male cousin up the stairs and another broken for standing out the widow with open hair. Her parents tried hard but after seeking refuge at local NGO she survived and prospered.
Tales like that of Ameena are not unheard in the cities of Pakistan and even emotions are also hurt, hearts also cry for these poor beings but then no action takes place. No man mans up to save her daughter and no brother stands to protect her sister from brutality. Many issues are today covered raging between the rights of Homo-Sexuals to Protection from Harassment but unfortunately they are only covered. No action takes place, no help is provided and women are left to rot in societies such as that of Kalam Garh in Karachi.
1/3 rd of 2015 has passed and so shall the year itself soon but what would we have done, nothing but type words and give a few speeches at the UN. This takes me back to a quote of that hung outside the wall of my classroom, “Facta Non Verba”, “Deeds, Not Words”. We speak but let our actions speak louder that our words and let us bring a change.
With countries like Pakistan and Saudi where women are treated as nothing less that servants, let us help them in their struggle to achieve independence from chains that entangle them and oppress their dreams under a patriarchy of inequality. According to the National survey of Human Central Independence, conducted by the Government of Pakistan; 9 in every 10 women faces sever abuse at least once in her lifetime and 7 of them face such hardships based on the excuse of religion and male domination.
Polygny is acceptable polyandry is not. My son get a doctorate my daugher should be married by her 20 Birthday? Females are slaves and men are master? Let us please change this and bring a change to these statistics that are literally destroying our women apart.
It is understandable of your to follow your religion but manipulating it to oppress and hurt one is simply not acceptable. These people do not have the right to bring their religion as a reason to stop “Her” from pursuing their dreams, chasing their fantasies, fulfilling their wishes and rising with ambition.
We see lesser and lesser women in the open now, barely a few to spot by as more and more hurt by men nowadays. Many hide their emotions to protect their dignity or that of their family so let us help them as they cut their way across fields of pain and agony and get a equal shot at life. I am maybe a male but a human before that; if you are one who believes in “being a man” become a Human first otherwise there is no way to progress to the point of Manhood.
Bring change and remove religion as a basis of inhumanity. Bring Humanity as the religion and work to eradicate silly fake religious limitations and wonder just why would God want just only to favor men.
Mar 31, 2015
Normal. Abnormal. Easy to understand, right? Is it?
The other day, I attended a discussion on gender vs. sex with a renowned transwoman as the resource person. She asked a very pertinent question to the participants. What if you go to sleep tonight and wake up in an alternate universe where homosexuality is the norm, the “normal standard”; whereas heterosexuality becomes the abnormality? Why are people persecuted for their choices about whom to love? Whom to share their life, dreams, body, and soul with?
It’s not surprising to find many youth, many of the educated aware classes, still trying to segregate homosexuality and heterosexuality into categories of normalcy and anomalies. They’re not doing it on purpose, but out of ignorance, and lack of awareness about the need of sensitivity in the choice of words, thoughts and actions. I could go on and be all philosophical and state that the sense of normalcy or abnormality about anything, anything under the sun at all, is mere illusion. We find certain things normal because society has prescribed us to think that way. Say, if in the alternate universe, society prescribed eating two meals a day as abnormal, then, food would be shunned. If talking to people was subjected to taboo, silence would prevail.
But I don’t want to be an idealist right now. I don’t want to talk about alternate universes. We’ve got this universe, this one here and now. And this is where we have to fix things, change perceptions. If I found Aladin’s lamp and genie was willing to grant me a wish, I’d wish for more acceptance, flexibility, willingness to respect each other’s viewpoints amongst people. But since no genies are going to appear anytime soon, I’ll make my efforts to bring about more acceptance. Even if it’s as simple an act as recording the meanderings of my mind, about acceptance, and norms, and societal prescriptions in this blog. Like I said, words, indeed are powerful, beyond measure.
Feb 25, 2015
For the past seven and a half years, LGBT state workers in Kansas have been legally protected from workplace discrimination and harassment. But not any more. On February10th, Governor Sam Brownback announced that he was getting rid of these protections by executive order.
This order rescinds the previous executive order made by then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius in August, 2007, which first put these protections in place. As the New York Post reports, “The  order applied to hiring and employment decisions by agencies under the governor’s direct control and required them to create anti-harassment policies as well.” Brownback stated that he was rescinding Sebelius’ order because he believes that such changes should have been made by the state legislature instead.
Doug Bonney, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kansas, told the LA Times that “workplace protections for underprivileged groups have historically first been instituted by executive order and later codified by legislative action.” Of course, a spokeswoman for Governor Brownback explained that he has no intention of proposing such legislation. Further, it’s highly unlikely that Kansas’ majority-Republican legislature would make the initiative to put forward an anti-discrimination bill themselves.
In his announcement, Brownback made the bogus claim that his actions were actually restoring equality.
“This executive order ensures that state employees enjoy the same civil rights as all Kansans without creating additional ‘protected classes’ as the previous order did.”
The problem being, of course, that without explicitly stated protections, some state employees do not enjoy the same civil rights as other Kansans. Ensuring someone’s civil rights does not make that person special or place them above others who have always had their civil rights protected.
When giving a group equal footing with your own makes you think that group is receiving special treatment, it means that you don’t believe that group, on its own, deserves to, or would otherwise be able to, stand equal to you. Governor Sebelius’ 2007 executive order did not give special protections to LGBT employees; it gave them equal protection. Governor Brownback is not restoring equality; he is restoring a civil hierarchy which actually positions heterosexual employees at a special, protected advantage.
Tom Witt, Executive Director of Equality Kansas, says that thanks to Governor Brownback, hundreds of LGBT state employees in Kansas are now in danger of losing their jobs.
“The jobs of hundreds of [LGBT] workers are now at risk, after they’ve spent nearly a decade believing they were safe on the job after disclosing their orientation or gender identity.”
So, why did this happen now? What prompted this? Governor Brownback has been in office for four years, and for all that time has been apparently unbothered by Governor Sebelius’ decision to bypass the legislature and sign an executive order for workplace protections. What’s changed?
Three months ago, a federal judge overturned Kansas’ ban on marriage equality.
The state is currently appealing the ruling. It seems likely that Brownback’s executive action to take away existing protections for LGBT state employees is a way of lashing out against the judge’s decision and the national momentum toward marriage equality.
Currently, Kansas is one of 29 states with no workplace protections based on sexual orientation and one of the 32 states with no protections for transgender employees. Employees of the federal government are protected from discrimination, and starting later this year, that protection will expand to employees working for private companies with federal contracts.
Feb 20, 2015
Chelsea Manning, currently serving a 35-year sentence in Fort Leavenworth military prison for exposing military wrong-doings to WikiLeaks, has been waiting a year and a half for life-saving medical treatment. Now, her wait is finally over. In a February 5th memo, Col. Erica Nelson, commandant of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks, announced the army’s decision to provide Manning, who is transgender, with hormone treatment.
“After carefully considering the recommendation that [hormone treatment] is medically appropriate and necessary, and weighing all associated safety and security risks presented, I approve adding [hormone treatment] to Inmate Manning’s treatment plan.”
After being convicted in July, 2013, Pvt. Manning came out as transgender and asked to begin a hormone regiment. She was continually denied access to the healthcare she needed, so in September, 2014, she sued the federal government with the help of the ACLU, asking for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman. The lawsuit “alleged Manning was at a high risk of self-castration and suicide unless she received more focused treatment…”
In a statement released by the National Center for Transgender Equality, Executive Director Mara Keisling spoke on the military’s responsibility to provide inmates with medical care.
“The Army’s decision means it’s simply fulfilling its obligation to provide Manning with medical care. Manning has been diagnosed with a medical condition, and failing to treat it would be cruel and unusual punishment.”
While Manning was approved for hormones, she was denied the right to “female hair grooming,” including growing her hair long (something other female prisoners have the apparent luxury of doing). In her memo, Col. Nelson said this decision was based on risk assessment. Presumably, this relates to worries about Manning using a razor to shave her legs, yet misses the point that being able to shave her legs would reduce chances of self-harm. “The resistance meeting Chelsea’s full treatment needs,” explains ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, “is a reflection of the deeply entrenched stigma associated with transgender health care.”
In 2015, people who are transgender are still barred from serving openly in the U.S. military. The end of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 2010 allowed gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers to serve openly, but did not apply to those who are transgender. This is the first time this type of health care has been provided to an American soldier. Transgender and intersex veterans, however, do have access to hormone therapy through the Department of Veteran Affairs, and have since 2011.
Chelsea Manning has already proven herself as someone willing to fight for justice and accountability. Her personal victory in gaining access to health care resonates beyond herself, inspiring others to fight for themselves, and reminding us of the policies and prejudice still left to overcome.
Jan 18, 2015
I initially wrote this as a post for my personal blog, but I have decided to share it here as well, and have modified it somewhat to reflect the time change since I had initially posted it.
Despite the overwhelming proof of the stories trans people tell- either while we’re alive, or the ones that come out when we’re dead- cis folks still don’t seem to get it. Y’all just aren’t getting that our lives end so much earlier than y’all’s.
Our numbers continue to fall, and- for some of us- our will to live grows weaker each time we hear another name of another of our own released as an obituary. For others of us, our will to fight the cistem and change it grows stronger, so each name pushes us to live even more than we wanted to before. Others feel a mix of the two, and still others feel completely different feelings.
Whatever we feel, though, it remains that we continue to be brought to our deaths at the hands of the cistem y’all are so eager to avert your gaze from. It breaks my heart to say this, but there’s literally dying proof that this is true.
Before I rant on for years about the problems with the cistem, I’m going to go into my story.
This year has been, without question, the most difficult year of my life. Among many other things, I dealt with the aftermath of trauma I experienced last year, I lost one of the most important friendships of my life, I was hospitalized multiple times, I’ve been subject to ongoing abuse from multiple people, I’ve got a chronic illness that has made my quality of life ridiculous beyond ways I can explain here, and, as I said, several other things. Despite all that, the thing that always hurts in the most consistently painful way I’ve yet experienced, is the struggle I endure because I am transgender.
My parents refuse to call me the correct name and pronouns, choosing instead to call me those which were given to me at birth. They also continue to belittle my experiences as a trans person and discredit anything I may express to them regarding it. My own therapist said calling me my chosen name would be hard for her because she was introduced to me with my birth name. Several people I have had the misfortune of interacting with have refused to acknowledge who I really am and respect my pronouns and name. Others have decided to equate the sex I was assigned at birth with who I truly am, even going so far as to ask me inappropriate questions regarding my physical form- as though they just don’t realize that that’s sexual harassment. My genitals aren’t anyone’s business but my own. What I look like naked holds no bearing on who I am as a person. Those are the more minor situations- I’m not going to even try to explain the more serious ones, because I know y’all just won’t get it.
There are so many other aggressions in the world against trans folks- both those that I have personally experienced and those that I have not- and they continue to break my heart. It hurts, even when I hear about things that happen to other trans people, to know what much of the world thinks of us.
On April 21st of this year (which was quite probably far too long after it should have happened), I was checked into a Baker Act facility, which I stayed in for a week. Twenty-one years of living as a transgender person, with only two years of living as such openly, after having grown up in a home that constantly told me how I wanted to be me was wrong, it finally got to me. I’ll admit, my trans plight was not the only thing that landed me there, but it has always been the overarching theme of what has kept my depression and internal struggle as low as it is. I’ve had suicidal tendencies since I was fourteen years old, and tendencies to self-harm since I was a child. My confusion with my identity- or rather, the world’s confusion with my identity, as I have known who I am from the moment I was taught what “gender” is- has been a constant struggle for me. The root of this internal struggle which so constantly fed my depression led to my undoing. The fact that it took me so long to seek help as serious as what I went for when I stayed in that facility is, I think, part of the reason that my stay was for so long (many people’s stays are often for three days, or maybe slightly more, though several people besides myself stayed there for a week or more). I wasn’t even sure I was ready to leave after a week, and part of my stay for so long was my own idea, not only that of my many caretakers.
I am fortunate enough that, despite my many relapses and a strong, persisting desire to end my own life subside often enough that I continue to live on, working on getting better each day. I have a support system who loves me very much, and they are the main reason I have not permitted myself to end my life early. I love them more than it hurts to live, so I press on.
Another thing which kept me alive was the reality that I got to undergo top surgery just over five weeks ago, finally having a body that I am (almost completely) comfortable in. The thought of my surgery coming up for the months prior to it were, sometimes, the main force driving me to keep living. The truth is, this is a reality for a lot of trans folks. Many folks do not wish to/need to undergo any sort of medical transitioning, which makes them no less trans than I am, as one’s body has nothing to do with what one’s gender is. If someone says they are a woman, a female, a girl, or whatever, then they are, and their body does not change that. The reason I bring up medical transitioning is that, in spite of the fact I just mentioned, there are still many of us who need to medically transition, and I am someone who is fortunate enough to have fulfilled my need. To be quite honest, if I had not been able to do that for myself this year, I am not confident that I would be living to see 2015.
This is only my reality, and the only lived experience I can claim to truly know is my own, but I wanted to give you all one example of a trans person’s story. Even though mine is still happening, you all need to know that our struggles are real, and our lives are constantly at risk because of the cistem that y’all perpetuate. To be honest, even some of us perpetuate it, either because it’s easier than fighting with people about it all the time, or because of survival (we’re too afraid either to go against the grain or of outing ourselves). Y’all need to listen to us and start making active changes in your lifestyles to make sure you help us to survive. Make this world a safe place for trans people.
As a white transmasculine person, my life is far less at risk because I am not transfeminine and because I have white privilege. Transfeminine people, especially trans women, are at the greatest risk for death, either because of murder or suicide (which oftentimes is still murder because of the harassment they face), and this is even more true for Trans Women of Color. These are the people whose voices you need to pay attention to the most. Listen to them now; if you don’t, they might not be around for you to listen to tomorrow.
Jan 5, 2015
This is not exactly an entry, its’s actually an exclamation in motion!! My classmate, running for Student Bar Association President at National College of Law, chose to end his election speech, in front of the entire mass, with no trace of inhibition on his face, on the following ingenious manner: “……and people if you choose to vote for me, along with great leadership, I guarantee ya’ll, a boyfriend for every girl, a girlfriend for every boy, and a partner of their choice for the LGBTI….”
Jan 1, 2015
The first out genderqueer adult I ever met was a super Southern queer organizer with a facial piercing. I was fifteen and in the midst of dealing with gender feelings I didn’t have words for. I had been out for three years as bisexual and knew one other trans young person, but he was a boy. No cisgender queer adults in my life understood trans people enough to help me figure out what “non-binary” meant. I didn’t know any trans or non-binary adults.
Meeting that person totally blew my mind. At that point in my life, I didn’t know the phrase “possibility model” either, but that feeling of validation was so surprising and strong. I could look at them and see a possible future for myself, a proud, Southern, trans future I knew that I wanted. Since meeting them, so many trans and non-binary adults have become a part of my life. My network of amazing trans folk who have my back grows larger every year, and that love and validation truly has been life changing.
My access to these possibility models is a unique privilege, and I know that so many trans young people feel like they exist in a world where they are all alone. Hearing about Leelah Alcorn broke my heart. In a world where trans people, especially trans girls and women, face so much hate and stigma, it is so easy to imagine that there are no futures for trans people. My intersections of privilege and access have given me so many outlets and supports for living my life authentically, but that’s nowhere near a universal trans experience. Our community loses so many people each year to so many different types of violence. The weights of transphobia and transmisogyny affect mental health so strongly, especially when combined with the stigma and violence of other systems of oppression. Other forms of violence end hundreds of lives every year.
There are so many paths we can take to make this world a better place for trans young people. First and foremost, we must always be in the process of dismantling racism, capitalism, transphobia, and all the other systems of oppression. There will be no safety for all trans folk until we have abolished prisons, made health care accessible, and destroyed all systems that criminalize trans folk.
But those processes are not all we can work on. We also need to let trans people at all intersections of identity see that there are possibility models for them. That while this world is full of violence, there are trans adults living their truths and loving their lives. The hashtag #RealLiveTransAdult is a beautiful example of this. We should all be engaged in creating media and boosting narratives about trans youth and adults succeeding and thriving, particularly trans women, trans folk of color, rural trans folk, disabled trans folk and other trans people who are less represented by LGBT and popular media. We should also lend our time and money to amazing organizations like the Trans Women of Color Collective or BreakOut! who are doing work to empower and support.
It is too late for Leelah, but there are so many other trans young people out there looking for answers and love. We can be there for them. We can.
Dec 3, 2014
On December 1, each year the World AIDS day is observed to commemorate the 36 million lives claimed by HIV/AIDS across the world; it also highlights that in the fight against HIV there is urgent work that still needs to be done. It has been more than three decades since scientists identified the HIV virus which causes AIDS and the cure for it still evades the doctors. Leading researchers from Australia, Italy and the United States have said that considerable work still needs to be done before they can find a cure for HIV.[i]
The transmission of the HIV virus is tied to specific high-risk behaviors and has nothing to do with a person’s sexual orientation. It is not uncommon for people to blame gender non-conforming people for increased prevalence rates of HIV in society, but the real culprit is the legalized homophobia and bigotry which drive them underground. The oppressed are always blamed for their problems by the oppressors. Societal norms, dominant cultural practices and religious beliefs are responsible for driving sexual minority groups underground due to which they are marginalized from HIV/AIDS related prevention efforts and have limited or no access to such programs. Because of this they are at a bigger risk of being infected with HIV/AIDS. No logical person would willingly want to contract HIV and gender non-conforming people are no different. Numerous research studies have proved that reduced stigma and discrimination always leads to a reduction in the infection rates.[ii]
In Pakistan, an estimated 130,000 people are living with HIV.[iii] But this number could be much higher as a lot of people in the country do not have access to screening services and are probably living in ignorance of their HIV status. According to the UNAIDS website for Pakistan adults aged 15 and above are at an increased risk of getting the virus, and in 2013 there were 4000 reported cases of deaths due to AIDS. A report published by the UN last year highlighted that new cases of HIV were on a rise in Pakistan.[iv] Most of the prevention efforts and Public AIDS control programs in the country are targeted at the sex workers in the country and have yet to include the general population who if not more than are at the same level of risk as the sex workers. The HIV/AIDS national surveys and public prevention programs do not include men who have sex with men and transgender people who are universally acknowledged as two high risk populations. And without including the key affected populations into their prevention efforts the national and provincial AIDS control programs cannot halt the spread of HIV in Pakistan.
Extraordinary advances in the field of medicine have made it possible for HIV-positive people to live long and lead healthy lives. But in the absence of a cure each year tens of thousands of new infections occur. Since 2011, the international efforts to highlight HIV/AIDS awareness have been focused on achieving the common goal of, “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero deaths from AIDS-related illness. Zero discrimination.” [v] But less than adequate funding for HIV programs, ideological restrictions on research efforts, improper prevention techniques and endless stigma and discrimination have proved to be major roadblocks in the achievement of Getting to Zero. A majority of the world’s population exposed to the HIV virus continues to live in either ignorance or shame about their HIV status. Only through leading by example can we improve the lives of those living with HIV. We can get tested to learn our HIV status and show care and support towards those who have already been tested positive. Together, we can slow the spread of HIV and better care for those affected by it.
Dec 1, 2014
Throughout my life, I have collected names. Names for future pets, future children, future fictional characters, etc. While coming out as trans wasn’t easy, getting to pick a new name for myself was an opportunity I had never considered. I spent months looking through books, cemeteries, baby name books, and family albums before finally settling on the one I use today. What I didn’t realize was that I had just as much choice when it came to pronouns.
In English, we traditionally think of our options as being she/her/hers or he/him/his. Two options to fit neatly into our (Eurocentric, white supremacist) gender binary. “It” is also technically an option and some trans folk do prefer that, but in general “it” is not politely used for people. The third option organic to English, they/them/theirs, is met with a little more controversy. Can “they” refer to only one person? Is that grammatically correct? In truth, most English-speaking people use the singular they all the time, but more importantly, trans people’s identities and needs take precedence over grammar.
What I didn’t initially realize is that beyond these pronouns native to English is a whole world of others. Ze/zir, xe/xyr, nounself pronouns (typically themed after a noun, like flowers, etc) and so many more existed in the wide realm of Things Trans People Invented Because We’re Awesome and Gender Is Fun. Suddenly, my choices were infinite.
When I introduce myself now, nearly a year and half since I started transitioning, the pronouns I request depend on the space. As a normatively androgynous, white, dfab trans person, I can expect my choices to be taken relatively seriously in queer community spaces, but in my life outside of that, getting “they/them/theirs” respected is a struggle. I tend to suggest “they” pronouns to cisgender, heterosexual strangers and as an option to people in queer spaces that aren’t ready for the pronouns I actually prefer. For me, “they” is fine. It’s respectful of my genderlessness and doesn’t feel misgendering or wrong.
However, the set I really prefer is ze/hir/hirs. Pronounced “zee/here/heres,” these have always been my favorite. Something I love about “he” and “she” is that they come with a gendered subtext, a past, a weight. For me, “they” doesn’t have that same power. I like the intentionality and transness of ze/hir/hirs. Also, z is a pretty rad letter and I love the way these pronouns sound.
People in my life have had dissimilar reactions to ze/hir/hirs. My family prefers ze/hir/hirs to they/them/theirs, to my incredible surprise. So have other people who struggle with “they” as a singular noun. In general, cis people get my pronouns wrong a lot, regardless of which set they prefer. Despite all of that, I’m excited to have found a set that fits!
Jul 26, 2014
Jul 7, 2014
It’s just wrong that hardworking and dedicated young people can be fired for being gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, or queer. For being who they are. These young people have no protection. No recourse.
We need our President to stand strong. And right now, he can make a big difference for thousands of LGBTQ federal employees and contractors. Join us in demanding that President Obama and his Administration do the right thing and sign executive orders protecting LGBTQ workers without needless exemptions that would open the door to discrimination.
With a swipe of his pen, President Obama’s executive orders will expand workplace protections for young people across the country. Current federal law already provides an exemption for houses of worship and religiously-affiliated organizations. Further exemptions are unnecessary and would dilute the protections the orders are seeking to provide for LGBTQ young people.
Mr. President, it’s time to stop surrendering the rights of young people.
May 30, 2014
Phobia we all know about it very well though some of us might be confuse about it.
Phobia is a kind of disease form which victim dears and human being scared.
Yes this is called Phobia. In earth hear are so many phobias each and everyone having reasons. Now what is trans-phobia??? In my opinion trans-phobia is a phobia which transported form others mind. Yes! victim make others t think about it deeply and non victim also start thinking about it deeply and behave like victim.
Let’s think like this, if we found any homosexuality among our circle than are we able to accept it???
I will be accepting the reality because my circle is important for me not only in circle but also out of circle if anyone is showing change I heartily accept it because this is a change and change starts form me not form any other. Yes I have that ability to accept the truth.
I love positive change so I will be always there to help others for the change or ready to build up new change.
It is our responsibility to put away the old and superstition thoughts because it is the one to bring trouble in the society. To undo those thoughts at first we have to be change full, we have to accept the reality and change so w can do the change work. If we accept the truth it will be easy to remove negative thinking. If we can’t we have to prepare for the next generation because they can accept the reality if we aware about it to them.
So society and the circle need to be change and have to have ability to accept the change so there won’t be the things like trans-phobia and phobia. We have to kill the thoughts to bring the change and their won’t be any victim of Trans phobia. If we won’t accept the reality than they will have phobia yes they will.
Now are you able to accept the Homosexuality among your circle???
If we don’t than we might be scared or we have phobia because of that we are not being able to accept the reality in the society.
Apr 30, 2014
Learn more about the Department of Education’s clarifying statement here
Apr 14, 2014
I have seen people change and at the same vein witnessed a retrograde in youths. I have been around areas where there\’s no hope for light and peace, but in this same situation some people still survive.
I have been around youths – Boys and Girls, that have made life difficult for themselves due to lack of knowledge. And my countenance has dwindled, because I have witnessed a holocaust of ruined lives in the past, even now.
I love peace and the prospect it brings. I love sanctuary – a foundation laid on the rocks of simplicity and the Arm of Justice.
I stand against the illegal acts displayed by the so-called Governmental body. I stand against rape, child abuse and its associated acts. I stand against the malfunctioning of child rights and value – I stand for a change, as an \”Advocate\”.
I stand as a Youth, Not a man, alone. But with men – the colony of change.
\”A man cannot be a faculty, men can. The necessity of change begins with not one man, but with the uniformity of all\”.
(Victor Omovbude Brown)
I stand against – Child punishment, Tribalism, criticism, Discrimination, and Queer visions. I stand for change, which is my first goal. As a youth, I stand for Unity, Peace and Progress.
I stand for a free and transparent Health service attributed to (children,youths and adults) – I stand against unequal rights and segregation in roles.
I stand for Quality Education – Void of preferential treatment, equal for all.
I stand against poor governance.
I am an \”Advocate For Youth\”.
Apr 8, 2014
Last year under the support from one of the international organization,I did a short focus group discussion and from there I got lots of information on stigma and self issues. The zest of it has been highlighted as:
Most of them are transgender aged from 17 to 27. They have been identified as transgender and have self identification and have no changes. Local residents are mostly accepted by the family and hence they don’t change whereas the migrant TG changes when they go to their village and to meet other relatives. Due to family problem and fear of getting discrimination were the main reasons behind these shifts.
Most of them shared that family,brother;friends,neighbors and family known them as transgender as they are one to understand the issue. They informed at first to their friends followed by mother and family. There was denial, rejection, no-acceptance from the friends, wanted to expel from home. They felt rejected, sad and fear, low esteem, sort of unhappiness, was supportive with friends and rejected by family. Some recalled that they were beaten up by their family, humiliated, asked to leave home but among one some of them felt happy as they were accepted(mixed-reaction)
To live as TG,they feel bad at initial phase, but as they become more open, they felt happy. Now there are many friends and are leading happy life, families are supportive and there is much level of understanding from society n their sexual identity. It has become much better than expected but still needs to bring changes like right for third-gender, equality, freedom, work accordingly and place for old ages.
There is a variation as some have control and other doesn’t due to family as there is lack of understanding and hard to disclose. Though they want to stay accordingly to their will but there is discrimination and separation from society. due to family and friends acceptance, they feel they have control over life. Most them feel comfortable to be themselves and to fullest they love themselves. But at times, they feel bad while attending the meetings in the public places.
There is humiliation from the society. There is understanding and the family hard rejection them. This could be due to lack of understanding, rejection from the family, pressure, and fear from the society, not been able to disclose and to family prestige.
There is violence from street hawkers, expulsion from the rented room, abused by the public vehicle drivers, police, forced sex, the client for sexual activities, had hard time and ram away. The talked with the group to help them and seek support from the friends and hid for the whole night and then later reported to police.
Mar 27, 2014
Tennessee Sends Religious Anti-Discrimination Bill To Governor
Reposted from The Huffington Post | by Shadee Ashtari
Tennessee lawmakers approved a bill on Monday that seeks to expand religious liberty protections for students in public schools.
The Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, which passed the state Senate 32-0, would permit students to express religious beliefs in their homework, artwork and written and oral assignments without academic punishment or discrimination.
The legislation’s primary sponsors, state Rep. Courtney Rogers (R) and Sen. Ferrell Haile (R), introduced the measure after a teacher asked a 10-year-old student to choose a subject other than God to write about as the person she admired most, according to the Associated Press. The state House passed the bill earlier this month by a vote of 90-2.
Haile characterized the legislation as a pre-preemptive safeguard against potential lawsuits challenging school officials for permitting religious expression, according to the Tennessean.
The proposal would also allow religious students to organize prayer groups and other religious gatherings before, during and after school to the “same extent that students are permitted to organize other noncurricular student activities and groups.”
Opponents of the bill contend that existing laws already protect students’ rights to religious expression and that the new legislation would only expose students of different faiths to unnecessary religious coercion.
“While purporting to prevent discrimination against students expressing religious viewpoints, SB 1793/HB 1547 crosses the line from protecting religious freedom into creating systematic imposition of some students’ personal religious viewpoints on other students,” the Tennessee American Civil Liberties Union said in a recentstatement. “Should this pass, students with a range of religious beliefs, as well as non-believers, would likely routinely be required to listen to religious messages or participate in religious exercises that conflict with their own beliefs.”
Similar legislation, modeled after Texas’ 2007 Religious Viewpoint Anti-Discrimination Act, unanimously passed the Oklahoma Senate in February.
The Tennessee bill now awaits Gov. Bill Haslam’s (R) signature. Given the measure’s overwhelming support in both the Senate and the House, a veto by the governor would likely be overturned.
Mar 5, 2014
A court in Lebanon has made a historic ruling stating same-sex relations are NOT “contradicting the laws of nature” and cannot therefore be considered a crime. The judge threw out a case brought against a transgender woman by the Lebanese state on January 28, 2014 but only published today.
Article 534 of the Lebanese Penal Code prohibits having sexual relations that are “contradicting the laws of nature,” which is punishable by up to a year in prison. However, Lebanese LGBT organization, “Helem” argued that, “Homosexuality is an exception to the norms but not unnatural… therefore article 534 cannot be used against homosexuals, and therefore, technically, homosexuality is not illegal.”
Moreover, Last year the Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) ruled that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and does not need to be treated. It stated, “The assumption that homosexuality is a result of disturbances in the family dynamic or unbalanced psychological development is based on wrong information.”
The more such rulings happen, the more irrelevant becomes article 534. Baby steps for LGBT rights in Lebanon, but a great step in the right direction. I hope this can be replicated in other Arab states which have similar legislation.
Read more: Link
Mar 5, 2014
Over the past months so much has happened in the LGBT community around the world:
1. President Obama continues to gives stern warning to countries that criminalizes homosexual.
2. Other World leaders making a vivid statement as it regards to the recent winter Olympics in either not showing up or openly condemning Russia’s law which criminalizes public expression of LGBT advocates.
3. The passing of new Anti-Gay law in Uganda .
4. The World Bank postponing a $90 million health project for Uganda citing the country’s passage of a new anti-gay law, “We have postponed the project for further review to ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by the enactment of this new law.
5. US Secretary of State John Kerry calling for a world “where professing one’s love does not lead to persecution.”
6. Actress, Whoopi Goldberg has accused the governments of Uganda and Nigeria of being ‘on the wrong side of history’ in response to anti-gay laws being passed in the two countries.
7. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, stating that “homosexuals are not criminals” and shouldn’t be sentenced for up to life in prison. Therefore he is calling for the repeal of its severe penalties.
8. The Pope, Francis has made a point of reaching out to gays, famously saying: “Who am I to judge?”
9. LaBarbera an Anti-Gay Pastor is reported to have travelled to Jamaica to speak at an anti-gay conference organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Coalition.
Hillary Clinton’s speech on international LGBT issues was game changing years ago. A historic address of this magnitude was desperately needed to counter the rising tide of backwards and barbaric nations that had recently been persecuting LGBT people to distract from their glaring problems.
“I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today,” said Clinton to a packed auditorium of human rights activists who gathered in Geneva for International Human Rights Day. “I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time.”
I close in saying, It’s not time to kill the gays and I don’t think there should ever be a time when we want to kill the gays as they are humans just like everyone else who identifies themselves as something else. Let’s continue to work to preserve human rights and never give up in this fight.
Mar 2, 2014
If you are an ally to trans* folk I encourage you to change your Facebook gender identity from “male” or “female” to “cisgender male” or cisgender female”. This helps eliminate the othering of transwoman that occurs when we continue using a false dichotomy of woman versus transwoman.
Everyone who identifies as a woman is a woman, and trans* and cis are merely additional terms to describe the lived experience of these women. By only using one term commonly though we are implying that one experience is normal and does not need to be communicated. It’s also important to remember that many women with transgender experiences choose to identify solely as a woman and do not like to associate with transgender labels.
I use women as an example here, but the same reasoning applies to men and gender-variant folk.
Feb 27, 2014
So, people have been asking me, ‘Are you talking male hormones?’ My answer is no. Not yet.
To get into hormone replacement therapy, you may have to consult a shrink for a few months for them to determine you’re either a candidate or ready for it.
You also have to either be 18, or have a parent’s written consent. These are from the law.
But, yes, I plan to get on T as soon as I can. I have to wait two more years, because I refuse to tell my dad that I’m transgender. Sad but true.
So, what are the advantages of taking Testosterone if you’re transitional? Well, for one, your voice deepens. That’s great for me because I hate talking to strangers because they always call me ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie’. Drives me crazy. I’d love to be able to look someone in the eye, say something, and have them look at me and think, ‘Now there’s a man.’ I’d love to have them call me ‘sir’, instead of them not saying anything or calling me ma’am.
Secondly, it enables you to grow facial hair. Now, that’s hitting close to home for me. As a transguy, I dream of the day I wake up, look in the mirror, and think, ‘Well, looks like I should shave today.’ facial hair is also important to a lot of transitional males because it changes the look of their jawline. Very masculine.
Lastly (that I know of for a fact) it changes your muscle composition. It hardens and lengthens the muscles that you have, and they take on the appearance of muscles that genetic males have. This is also another blessing. I dream of the day my arms have the proper muscle tone.
So taking T has benefits. So stop piddling around and try it.
Talk about the ‘T’.
Feb 26, 2014
In July we asked you to stand with transgender and gender non-conforming students in California. Thanks to your actions Governor Brown heard us LOUD and clear and signed the Student Success and Opportunity Act into law. Together we ensured that transgender students can participate in student activities and facilities that match their gender identity.
Anti- transgender groups attempted to push a referendum that would have repealed this law. The good news is that they lost! On Monday, California Secretary of State confirmed that the referendum didn’t have enough valid signatures to place the measure on the state ballot. Win!
Standing up for equality is not something we do once: we must step up to the plate each time we face oppression. We want to give a huge shout out to the Support All Students Coalition and individual members for their hard work.
Send a tweet to thank GLSEN, GSA Network, Forward Together, Equality California or the Transgender Law Center for their continued work that continues to build equality and supportive environments for all students.
Feb 22, 2014
The issue might not be that familiar for few people, but I must admit it. Have not thought ever that i would write someday like this. I myself am a “Transgender”. After listening to this word,mostly lots of people gets confused whats on earth is this thing!! Some of they even think do this thing even exist?? Yes it happens, and I have faced it for several times. People in this world talk about the love,respect,kindness and so on!! They even can think far from the human beings,for animals and other creatures. But what’s near you is not bearable,its unnatural.
The world has been more modernized and new technologies had been introduced,a human being had stepped to another planet. But the people have still same perception and ancient thoughts. Here we talk about the HEALTH,EDUCATION, NUTRITION & RIGHTS even on against of discrimination and stigma towards human being,but still I m lost for my identity. I may get all necessity for my living but if i don’t have an identity,its not worth it. People deny us accepting for the society,they scared of us,they feel we r unnatural. Why so discrimination towards us ??? we r the human being too but why are we not treated as human.Its not like they dont know about us,but they are ignoring us. Is it that criminal to be different. The person, gave you birth thinks your sin. Just because your different don’t mean you’re abnormal.
Lets not be judgmental, lets try to accept the person as they are!! Before we talk about the kindness,dignity and determination lets also think are we really doing this!! We even EXIST to the world community and society. Please have an eye on us too. Because if i m unseen and unnoticed I m living dead,which i m not dummy with breath!!! -_-
Feb 21, 2014
Facebook has introduced new gender identity options for users, broadening its selection to 58 options. Here’s a recap of the great and not so great aspects of this move.
- While you now have the ability to self-identify in more diverse ways, Facebook still embraces the gender binary and stigmatizes those that do not fall within this binary. From the drop-down menu you can select male, female, or “custom”. My gender identity is not a magical outlier that needs to be customized.
- Once “custom” has been selected you must begin to type in an identity for suggestions to pop-up, instead of another drop-down menu that lists all options. This is not the easiest design Facebook could have implemented and is difficult for users to fill-in who aren’t familiar with the dozens of gender identities Facebook now allows.
- Facebook is still seriously lacking pronoun options. Users only have three options: he, her, or them. In recent years there has been a rise in other pronoun options becoming common and vernacular, and it would be great for Facebook to validate these.
- Some, including me, would be just as pleased to see Facebook eliminate all gender identity options. Or at the minimum have an option for no response. I respect individuals’ authority to believe in gender and identify in any way they want, but on Facebook you cannot choose your performance and reproduction of gender. For instance, Facebook bombards you with gendered ads that you cannot opt out of.
- So far the new gender identities are only available when using Facebook in English (US). Hopefully, this step forward will be extended to all language platforms soon. It would also be wonderful to see Facebook include linguistic selections for gender identities around the world.
- The inclusion of options has already sparked conversations regarding gender identity. Even introductory conversations on the difference between gender and sex by the masses are monumental.
- Facebook has always been an intuitive and accessible platform. The ease of use has continued for selecting your gender identity option. I especially like that Facebook allows you to separately choose your gender identity and preferred pronouns. So you can list that you identify as a cisgender woman who uses he/him/his pronouns, or any other combination you wish.
- It is refreshing that Facebook included gender identities common within various communities. For example, users now have the option to identify as “two spirit” which has historical and modern relevance among First Nation peoples.
- Equally as exciting is Facebook’s decision to not just add “transgender” as a gender identity, but a spectrum of gender-variant options. Diversifying the “T” reminds folks that transgender is often employed as an umbrella term, and there are dozens of identities within the transgender and gender non-conforming communities.
Feb 21, 2014
While everyone’s gasping in shock, I would like to state that it is a well-known fact that Piers Morgan was never hugged as a child. And that is why he’s such an insensitive d*ckbag.
Jesse Williams spoke about the Michael Dunn trial and it was perfect. Seriously, I got chills from all the truth he was handing out.
Feb 10, 2014
A week ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Creating Change 2014, organized by the Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Houston, Texas. Although this was my second time attending this conference, my excitement was surprisingly higher than last year’s, thanks to this year’s keynote speaker being Laverne Cox. I have become a huge fan of Cox the moment I saw her on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black (if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out big time). Ever since, I started following her on social media and kept up with all of her appearances on TV and in other media outlets. The qualities I admire the most about Cox are her high level of intelligence, exceptional eloquence and fierce poise. I was so lucky to listen to her live during Creating Change’s opening plenary where she delivered a speech that was out of this world. She did not leave a single issue facing the transgender community without mentioning it, especially when it comes to transgender women of color, whom she represents so well. I especially loved the point she raised, saying, “The conversation about trans people in mainstream media has centered on transition and surgery.” Cox explained that limiting our trans conversations to transition and surgery objectifies trans women and does not leave us room to discuss the myriad of pressing issues that face the trans community today. This is exactly what happened on CNN with Piers Morgan a few days ago when he interviewed Janet Mock, who is another incredible trans activist. Instead of focusing on Mock’s newly released memoire “Redefining Realness,” Morgan bombarded her with questions about her physical transition and romance life. The next day, Mock came to his show again to explain how his show attempted to sensationalize her story instead of focusing on the real issues at hand. In her speech at Creating Change, Laverne Cox talked in length about the many injustices trans people, especially trans women of color, face nowadays, including violence, discrimination in the workplace and lack of healthcare access. In Cox’s words, “Healthcare for trans people is a necessity. It is not elective, it is not cosmetic, it is life-saving… But we are more than our bodies.” I remember the entire audience standing up and clapping after she articulated these powerful words.
I truly loved how this year’s Creating Change gave more space for the conference attendees to discuss the issues facing transgender people and learn more about this marginalized community. I personally attended the screening of “TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story,” which is a documentary film about Los Angeles-based trans Latina activist Bamby Salcedo. The film is very touching and eye opening to the serious struggles of trans women of color. I also attended a workshop entitled “Transgender People Unite Against Hate and Violence” in which Bamby was one of the panelists. The panel was very informative about the various forms of violence that transgender people experience, not only on the streets and in the workplace, but also at home and from the police. This workshop made me realize that there is not enough data available to us in order to reflect trans people’s struggles, thus making trans activism especially hard. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, “of the 25 documented anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2012, 53.8% of the victims were transgender women. [Moreover], transgender people were 1.67 times as likely to experience threats and intimidation, 3.32 times as likely to experience police violence, and transgender people of color were 2.46 times as likely to experience physical violence by the police.” The reality is very sad for trans people, especially trans women of color. But I am so happy that Creating Changed highlighted this community’s struggles and made room for us to share solutions and success stories. There is a lot more we can do, but visibility is a great step in the right direction.
Feb 6, 2014
As I patiently awaited the arrival of my copy of Janet Mock’s memoir Redefining Realness, I decided to tune in to an interview on Piers Morgan Live. I had heard that she was on the show on Tuesday night and would be on again. A two part interview? I thought, he must be really interested in her book! After watching the interview, it seemed that Piers Morgan was much more interested in himself (see the interview here).
In the first interview Morgan had misgendered Janet and focused more on her transgender identity than on her activism or the actual contents of her book. After the show, Twitter erupted with comments about the way he sensationalized her life. So, Piers Morgan, who identifies as a trans ally, invited Janet back to his show for a second interview. At this point, Morgan could have done something very simple to make things right, something a true ally would do: apologize.
Instead, Piers invited Janet back to his show, not to educate himself and his viewers, but to debate her (citing articles written about her rather than her own book that he claims to have read) and yell at her about how great of an ally he is. So great, in fact, that he can tell her how she identifies and demand that she defend her identity on national television. In doing so, Piers Morgan showed us exactly what type of “ally” he is–or isn’t.
Morgan goes on to claim that Janet Mock is only famous because she is transgender and continues to say that she was a boy until she had a “sex change operation”–despite Mock’s attempts to educate him on gender identity. Piers Morgan was not being an ally. He was trying to belittle Janet– to silence her and replace her story with his privileged perspective. After the second interview, he invited a panel of cisgender people to discuss it and continue to shout that Janet was a boy until she had surgery.
What Piers Morgan told us last night is that he is more concerned with protecting his “reputation” as a transgender ally than with actually respecting transgender people. Let me be clear: Piers Morgan is not an ally– at least not to trans people and not to Janet Mock.
A true ally is able to see people as whole– not just the sum of their parts. Piers Morgan failed to see Janet Mock as more than just a transgender woman who refused to be eternally thankful to him for his “support” (which appears to amount to nothing more than a belief in equality). He criticized Janet for not speaking up about her discomfort during the first interview, but we live in a world where a person like Janet can face terrible consequences for speaking up and defending herself–a world where transgender people and people of color (CeCe McDonald and Trayvon Martin, for example) cannot defend themselves because even the “justice” system isn’t on our side. Damn right we are scared. But Janet came back to the show to set the record straight. She showed more courage than Piers Morgan can even fathom. He repeatedly stated that he does not understand what he did wrong while refusing to listen. Real allies have the courage to listen, even when it is difficult and even when they are being challenged. Piers Morgan has a lot to learn.
Feb 6, 2014
Piers Morgan continues to believe he’s in the right. This is his response to Janet Mock’s calling him out for the way he sensationalized her story and experiences.
Instead of really discussing her lived reality as a woman of color, especially as a trans woman of color, he obsesses over her past relationships and anatomy.
He told her: “…you used to be yourself a man.”
The on-screen captions of the discussion is ridiculous.
From a Buzzfeed article, Janet Mock says:
“My book is not about Aaron or my relationship, but that’s the most sensational thing they want to pull out,” she said. “They’re not talking about my advocacy or anything like that, it’s just about this most sensationalized … meme of discussion of trans women’s lives: ‘We’re not real women, so therefore if we’re in relationships with men we’re deceiving them.’ So, it just feeds into those same kinds of myths and fears that they spread around, which leads to further violence of trans women’s bodies and identities.”
The on-screen line that she “was a boy until age 18” reflected “bad judgment” and “reductive thinking about gender,” she said.
“What they’re saying is, ‘Only until I got the surgery, then I was a woman,’” she said.
But, she said, the interview — for better and worse — is part of want she chose to do by “going out of the bubble” and being public with her story.
“This is my first mainstream television show, was that moment, with Piers Morgan, and you see what they did to my story. Compared to a moment if I’m on Melissa Harris-Perry, which is slightly different, a more sensitive and safe space. But I go onto Piers Morgan, and all of my followers and everyone are like, ‘What is this?’” she said. But, she noted, “It’s also more representative of the ignorance that there is about trans people’s lives. We’re out of the safe bubble of social justice.”
On that same Buzzfeed article, you’ll see many of the responses Piers Morgan vomited on Twitter.
One example being: “As for all the enraged transgender supporters, look at how STUPID you’re being. I’m on your side, you dimwits. @janetmock”
Feb 1, 2014
Nicole Maines and her family have been challenging Nicole’s school system for years after the Orono school district forced her to use a staff bathroom rather than the girls’ restroom. Recently, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the bathroom bath violates the Maine Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
I don’t know what Nicole is feeling, but I cannot imagine the additional stress of having to navigate the legal system for her own rights, in addition to growing up largely in the public spotlight. While currently Nicole might be comfortable with anyone who reads a local newspaper knowing she is transgender, I wonder the implications for her later in life. If she decides to no longer identify as trans* or share her past with anyone, it will be difficult to keep this part of her experience to herself. Myself and other transgender individuals are grateful for Nicole’s bravery for making this a public issue, and hopefully journalists will respect her privacy.
Jan 24, 2014
Many of you might not be familiar with the reality show train wreck known as The Real L Word. It’s also created by Ilene Chaiken, which might explain its problematic nature. The entire series, reality show included, has a HUGE biphobia problem.
This article by Autostraddle discusses the issue, which is both internalized by a bisexual cast member and perpetuated by a few other lesbians. I find it so ironic that a community which is supposed to be known for its openness discriminates against others so savagely.
There are so many people on TV and the internet these days talking about how everything a white person does or says to a black person can be called racism. Well you know what? It’s Friday and I’m not about to give myself another headache by thinking about all the people who refuse to educate themselves. Let’s face it. Unless you’re part of a group that claims to be facing discrimination, you do not have a right to tell said group that they are wrong because you will NEVER see things from their perspective.
That aside, I think Richard Sherman is right to say that “Thug” is the new n-word. A lot of people care more about being viewed as PC instead of caring about their actual words and actions. They see others suffer the consequences of using the n-word and then come up with creative ways to say what they actually mean.
It’s 2014 people. How about becoming decent human beings?
Usually I have a problem with non-Nigerians bashing Nigeria because I think that the country’s citizens and residents are the only ones who understand what’s going on. And by that I’m referring to situations where people lump us all into a group of bum-scratching ignorants or try to prescribe a cure without a thorough diagnosis. In this case however, I whole heartedly agree. It is shameful that the Nigerian government has chose to focus on an issue that does not require their attention AT ALL, instead of fixing the million other countries. Two words Goodluck Jonathan – Boko Haram.
- Katie Couric is kind of a d-bag to trans people -Carmen Carrera’s Quest to Become a Victoria’s Secret Angel;‘Orange is the New Black’s’ Laverne Cox
In the clips above, Katie interviews Carmen Carrera and keeps trying to talk about Carmen’s genitals even though she expresses her desire not to and steers the conversation towards topics she feels are more appropriate, such as her career and life goals. Couric does not stop until Laverne Cox steps in, informing Couric that, “the preoccupation with transition and with surgery objectifies trans people.” Yay Laverne! Can’t wait for season 2 of OINTNB.
It is quite clear that Couric’s motive for inviting Carmen on the show was to sensationalize her transition. She did not seem to have a genuine interest in her as a person.
Jan 22, 2014
(reposted from USAToday, David Jackson, click for original and full post – Image of President Obama: Charles Dharapak – AP)
President Obama has put out his annual statement on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, praising the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that struck down anti-abortion laws.
“We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom,” Obama said in a statement.
The president said he also wants to re-affirm commitments to “reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children.”
Jan 3, 2014
Why 2014 Could Be A Huge Turning Point For Reproductive Rights
Roe v. Wade will mark its 41st birthday later this month, amid ever-increasing assaults on reproductive rights across the nation. According to the latest report from the Guttmacher Institute, states have imposed a staggering 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013. That legislation has attacked access to abortion from all angles — targeting providers and clinics, driving up the cost of abortion for the women who need it, making women travel farther and wait longer to get medical care, and outright banning the procedure. Since 2000, the number of states that Guttmacher defines as being “hostile” to abortion rights has spiked from 13 to 27.
That’s left abortion rights advocates on the other side, working hard to stem the tide of anti-choice attacks. Constantly warding off restrictive legislation hasn’t left much space for proactive policies to expand women’s reproductive freedom, like expanding access to maternity care or making family planning services more accessible to low-income women. Most of the headlines about abortion issues are bleak.
But there may be a shift on the horizon.
Dec 31, 2013
After Michigan House and Senate’s shameful support of a law that would force burial and cremation costs on those who sought abortions, they decided the next step would be to establish a “rape insurance” for people who have the ability to get pregnant earlier this month. The bill is infamously known as Michigan’s Rape Insurance bill, the actual name being The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act. It places a ban on private insurance companies from covering abortion. This forces women into buying extra coverage for their abortion care on top of their paid plans. What’s more is that this legislation has no exceptions for rape or incest. And the coverage can’t be purchased during a pregnancy, it has to be bought prior to one–because those who have the ability to become pregnant are in a constant state of being pre-pregnant.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research in payment for abortion shows that almost 70% of women pay out of their own pockets for this medical procedure, and almost 52% of those women found it difficult to pay. So, what’s to become of that 52%? What’s to become of those who already can’t pay for the treatment they need? We already live in a system that routinely and unapologetically ignore the needs of the people. It’s not just a limiting of our right to the health care we need. It’s one more step to further marginalizing those who are already feeling the burden of an oppressive, unfree economy.
Not all are sitting idly while outside groups and politicians pushed for this. Michigan Senator Gretchen Whitmer shared her own thoughts in a Huffington Post blog:
“I shared my story of being sexually assaulted because even if it wouldn’t give my Republican colleagues pause to reconsider the vote they were about to take, I at least wanted them to, for the first time, have to directly consider the consequences of their actions and see that those being hurt by it aren’t anonymous faces, but friends, family and, yes, even their colleagues on the Senate floor.
What’s too easily dismissed in these types of discussions is that this issue is not simply about pro-choice or pro-life, it is about interfering with contracts between women and our health care providers. This new law forbids private insurance companies from covering abortions unless a woman buys additional and preemptive coverage, even in the case of rape, incest, or even medically necessary dilation and curettage (D & C) procedures for planned pregnancies that went wrong.
This measure is extreme, ignorant and insultingly misogynistic. I’m disgusted to say that it is now the law of the land in Michigan, but how it became law is just as offensive as the law itself.
Right to Life of Michigan, an extremist special-interest group with significant financial backing from a select few secretive donors, has pushed for this law twice before. Both times they failed, as two different Republican Governors stood up to them and vetoed it. In fact, in explaining his veto of this measure earlier this year, Governor Rick Snyder, someone I don’t often agree with, rightly stated, “I don’t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due to a rape that she needed to select elective insurance coverage.”
But instead of admitting defeat, Right to Life took their crusade even further. They exploited an obscure loophole in Michigan’s Constitution that allowed them to bypass the governor’s veto entirely, as well as the will of the people, by securing the signatures of only four percent of Michigan’s population to bring a so-called “citizens’ initiative” before the legislature and then flexed their political muscle over the Republican majority, forcing them to immediately vote it into law.”
Dec 10, 2013
[tumblr source: sarahlynne3713]
Dec 1, 2013
When I was thirteen, I came out as bisexual. Nothing in my life changed. My parents were supportive, my friends didn’t care, and the world went on as if nothing new had been disclosed. As a senior in high school, this past semester has been spent dealing with a very different issue, the issue of coming out as transgender.
When people talk about the issues that LGBTQ youth in high schools, they usually refer to bullying, non-inclusive anti-discrimination policies, and students not being able to take a same-gendered partner to prom. While those are all important issues that need to be addressed, they erase the fact that, while all trans youth suffer from those issues, there are other things that transgender youth may go through that cisgender queer youth do not experience.
One of the major issues for me and other trans youth in high schools is being recognized by our preferred names and pronouns. In the spring of my junior year, I started going by Foster, pronouns ze/hir, in queer spaces. While that change is pretty widespread for me now, I still haven’t had the energy to face asking my teachers to call me anything different. Many trans youth must have private meetings with teachers and the school administrators to explain their preferred name and or to avoid being outed and misgendered in class. If the school system is not supportive or if students like me are too scared to ask, trans students may have their birth name on school id cards, on the roll in class, and on all transcripts that they must send to colleges.
Additionally, sharing a name change with other classmates can be uncomfortable and invalidating. I made a point to not come out to students at school, but am recognized on Facebook and by friends and colleagues as Foster, a fact that has not escaped my classmates’ attention. This has led to numerous uncomfortable conversations, and I am lucky to be in a situation where none of those conversations led to harassment or violence. Had I made a point to be out at school, those conversations would increase tenfold. Regardless of whether or not a school administration is affirming, changing names and pronouns during the school year will always be an arduous process.
Another issue that may face transgender youth is gendered spaces such as sports teams, bathrooms, and locker rooms. For trans youth who are not out, being forced into a gendered space they don’t identify with can cause a great deal of distress. I usually avoid using the bathroom at school, and was incredibly uncomfortable as a member of the girls’ varsity cross-country team. For non-binary identified individuals like myself, there are rarely gender-neutral options at all, so coming out usually means staying in the same gendered spaces, except now everyone else thinks it is awkward too. For out trans youth allowed to be in the spaces they prefer, they may be subject to extreme harassment. Recently, conservative media has been relentlessly harassing trans girls who use the women’s restroom, and those hateful reactions aren’t uncommon amongst high school students and parents.
When I started coming out as trans, I wanted my life to change. I wanted my new name to be recognized, I wanted people to use my pronouns, I wanted spaces where I didn’t have to choose M or F when neither one ever fits. For most cisgender, queer youth, the best case coming out scenario is life continuing as usual, because who we love doesn’t matter. For many transgender youth, the best case scenario is huge changes being embraced by the people around us, because they want our genders to be validated as much as we do.
This piece does not exhaust all of the issues and nuanced ways that transgender youth face discrimination in schools. Amongst those listed above, we can face problems with education around our identities, dress codes, sex education courses, and higher rates of school push-out for being gender-non-conforming and/or refusing to be in gendered spaces, such as a gym class.
Especially when discussing schools, it is key for allies to our vast and multifaceted community to emphasize the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity, in definitions and in experiences. One of the biggest issues facing transgender people in the United States is erasure. Erasure of our identities, of our contributions, and of our issues. The best way to be an ally to trans youth is to research our struggles and incorporate solutions into your arsenal of weapons used to fight for change. We have always been a part of your movements, and would love some support.
Nov 25, 2013
(original image by The Stigma Project)
We are a grassroots organization that aims to lower the HIV infection rate and neutralize the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS through education and awareness via social media and advertising. The Stigma Project seeks to create an HIV neutral world, free of judgement and fear by working with both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, or background.
Social media has rapidly become one of today’s largest mediums of news, culture, and education. We hope to embrace that with effective campaigns each season that bring awareness to the current state of HIV. Please, whether you’re HIV-positive, negative, or you don’t know (and should), we need your help. Ask your friends to join us in starting a revolution: an “HIV Neutral” revolution. Like us, Share us, Re-tweet us. The more people we reach, the more effective our project. The more successful our mission. YOU can make a difference.
The Stigma Project seeks to eliminate the stigma of HIV/AIDS on a global scale, through awareness, art, provocation, education and by inspiring a spirit of living “HIV Neutral.”
The Stigma Project seeks to create an “HIV Neutral” world, free of judgment, fear, discrimination and alienation by educating both positive and negative individuals from all walks of life about the constantly evolving state of the epidemic. We seek to reduce the HIV infection rate through knowledge, awareness, and effective marketing and advertising. Ultimately we see a future where the world is free of HIV/AIDS.
I’ve already posted this image before but without credit to the original poster, so here it is! I’ve also added information about this organization!
Nov 19, 2013
In hundreds of cities across the globe next week, people will gather to honor transgender* individuals who have lost their lives to acts of hate over the past year. Since the inaugural 1999 Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), the event has evolved from a space of mourning and reflection into one for storytelling. TDOR can be crucial for healing and refocusing our attention on society’s complicity with violence against the transgender community. However, at TDOR events I have perceived a silence regarding larger systemic issues such as racism and misogyny that create a hierarchy of transgender individuals susceptible to violence.
Focusing solely on gender identity and expression as causation for violence erases all other identities and particular circumstances of one’s existence. Violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, especially those of the lowest economic status and mobility. Of the 13 murders in US last year, all were transwomen and nearly all were women of color. TDOR overlooks these irrefutable statistics.
Framing violence as a singular product of transphobia attempts to unite our narratives for the sake of accessibility. At TDOR events each deceased person is memorialized through the reading of their name, location, and sometimes cause of death. It is rational to attempt to package and market our experiences of marginalization as one universal transgender experience to our allies. This underlying political agenda is often successful at inspiring policymakers to act, yet will leave us with simple solutions. Formulating solutions that assume the problem is independently correlated to gender identity will not stop the violence because it is not an issue that only stems from transphobia.
This past year I attended TDOR in Washington, DC. I was pleased to listen to Mayor Vincent Gray reflect on the job training program he established with the DC Department of Employment Services for transgender residents. However, Gray’s failure to act on other issues that affect transgender folks, albeit indirectly, reflects the problem with anchoring discussions of violence through a lens of transphobia. When Gray slated the closure of 15 public schools in low-income communities of color he probably did not connect the implications of unequal resource allocation to the plight of transgender folks. If we do not advocate for multifaceted solutions, we will continue to have allies like Gray who do not fully comprehend how to use their influence to end violence against transgender individuals.
At TDOR I am welcomed into the space as a white, genderqueer person with access to social and capital mobility and the ability to be perceived as a cisgender male. These factors mean I will probably never encounter the violence that my transgender sisters of color face. I want a TDOR that allows us to confront such issues that differ in our lived experiences. Simultaneously, we need a space to embrace integral parts of our selves while also sharing our stories of pain and resiliency. Further, TDOR must let our allies see us for all of our complexities and trust them to still stand and act with us.
*In this piece I use transgender as an umbrella term encompassing transsexuals, gender-non-conforming and -variant individuals, and all others whose gender identity, expression, and/or assignment are fluid.
Nov 19, 2013
(original photo and post by GLAAD)
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. This year, the day is November 20th, 2013.
- An average life span for a trans person is 23 years
- 238 reported cases of murdered trans people happened within the year
- An estimated 78% of transgender people have experienced harassment or mistreatment at work due to their gender identity
Oct 27, 2013
I made a quick list of films about abortion and reproductive/sexual justice issues and posted it on STFU, Pro-Lifers.
Oct 27, 2013
(Originally created and posted on Tumblr by Dimitri – deadlyprincex)
(located outside the “unisex” bathrooms)
[texted image reads: “Everyone needs to use bathrooms, but only some of us have to enter into complicated political and architectural negotiations in order to use them. The fact is, bathrooms are easier to access for some of us than for others, and the people who never think about where and how they can pee have a lot of control over how using restrooms feels for the rest of us. […] Who has the privilege of always knowing that any given bathroom will meet one’s needs? Everyone needs to use the bathroom, but not all of us can.”
— “Calling All Restroom Revolutionaries” by Simone Chess, Alison Kafer, Jessi Quizar, and Mattie Udora Richardson (members of PISSAR – People in Search of Safe and Accessible Restrooms)]
Oct 11, 2013
Coming out for people who identify as transgender can be a very different experience compared to coming out for LGB people. Like LGB people, trans* people must come out to friends and family, but we also often end up coming out in situations that other people take for granted (see this Buzzfeed article for a few examples). This has become all too apparent for me due to a few recent events: I just accepted a job offer last week and filled out the forms for a background check. In doing so, I had to provide my previous legal name thus outing myself to anyone who handles my paperwork. As the resident of a state where gender identity and expression are still free game for discrimination, I was legitimately worried that this would affect their conditional job offer.
Another example occurred earlier this week when I went to buy a car. This was an exciting event because it was my first car, but it was also a little embarrassing when I had to unexpectedly come out to the car salesman running my credit check. Unfortunately, their computer system brought up my previous name when my identifying information was entered. I didn’t expect to have to come out or to explain why that name was associated with my information while buying a car. I am not ashamed of who I am, but I am upset that I do not always have control over when and where I am outed.
This brings me to today, National Coming Out Day. It seems fitting that I come out yet again to the government by visiting the BMV to have the F on my driver’s license changed to an M. To do so in Ohio, I just need a form signed by a therapist or physician. I’ve been holding onto this paperwork for a few months and now seems as good a time as any to take care of this. Coming out is a continuous process and I am nowhere near done. Every time I update one document, another pops up. There’s my license, my school, social security, car insurance, health insurance, birth certificate, and the list goes on (not to mention the fact that I changed my name and gender marker at different times so the list is doubled). For me, coming out has felt a little out of my control, but by tackling these challenges head on, and coming out in my own way, I take back some of the power—power that should have been mine in the first place.
Oct 11, 2013
It’s the day before a long weekend, and like every other college student, I’m swamped with work before actually getting to enjoy this weekend. Papers, presentations, homework, the whole spectrum. Glancing outside of academia, I realize that I’ve gotten newsletters, invites to dinners and community discussions, and emails about this special Friday. I’ve heard of this event before, but never decided to recognize it because I never understood its influence on this heteronormative society.
National Coming Out Day is more than just “coming out.” It’s remembrance for those before us, with us, and after us. Those who will never have a safe chance to be “out” to their families for fear of their own safety and those who will try to be “out” and hope for the best. Those who have suffered violence for being “out” and those who still look over their shoulder every time to never become a statistic. Those who are out already and struggle to maintain a steady job and place to live because of the institutional systems designed to keep them in the struggle for basic living needs.
Add in race, religion, income, and gender expression, and you’ve got a multitude of factors adding to the issue of “coming out” and portrayal of expected sexuality. For instance, as a young South Asian woman, my sexuality was determined before my birth: either a domesticated sexless housewife or a kama sutra bountiful goddess (even though I’m not Hindu). No middle ground. No options for anything other than cis-heterosexual men. Just hypersexualized to the bindi or sexless to the sari.
As I got older and still question my sexuality, I began reading into queer theory and popular queer names. Most of my options were left the same: few South Asian and other women of color queer “big names,” but tons of white queers. Even national organizations mainly focused on white queer bodies and rarely had queer people of color, let alone queer women of color.
I let this slide as I thought that most women of color were not queer, yet I realized my thinking was flawed. Looking at the histories of other people of color, queerness flourished. Gender neutral pronouns exist outside of English, and third genders exist in South Asia, Indonesia, and Samoa. Gender non-conforming roles exist in Two-Spirit Native American communities and among Nandi female husbands in Kenya. So why was I taught none of this in class and all of this on my own?
On National Coming Out Day, know that it’s still limited to mainstream bodies. Know that this day is not meant to serve as the only time to “come out,” but rather to spark an interesting conversation because you’re not alone in this. Queerness has existed and resisted for centuries, so share your story when you are ready.
Oct 7, 2013
(reposted from The Nation, originally posted by Katha Pollitt)
How could something so basic be in such short supply? Diapers are expensive—up to $100 a month—particularly for women who don’t have transportation and must rely on bodegas and local convenience stores. Some women reported spending 6 percent of their total income on paper nappies. And before you say, “Let them use cloth,” Marie Antoinette, bear in mind that diaper services are expensive, few poor women have their own washing machines, most laundromats don’t permit customers to launder dirty diapers and most daycare programs don’t allow cloth diapers. Like fresh fruit and vegetables, humanely raised meat and dairy products, and organic baby food, cloth diapers are the province of the well-off.
Despite this clear need, however, diapers are not covered by the food stamp program (SNAP) or by the Women, Infants, and Children feeding program. The government apparently finds them unnecessary, like other hygiene products (toilet paper, menstrual supplies, toothpaste, even soap), which are also, unlike food, subject to sales tax. Never mind that babies can’t choose not to pee and poo and did not select their parents. Never mind, too, that those grandmothers who are the hardest hit caregivers are performing a crucial social task—and saving the taxpayer millions—by keeping those kids out of foster care.
Food, it’s true, is even more basic than diapers. But some people believe low-income children don’t really need that either. If House Republicans have their way, 4 to 6 million SNAP recipients may soon find themselves bounced from the rolls. This, at a time when the Department of Agriculture tells us that 17.6 million households regularly go hungry, up from 12 million ten years ago. Proving yet again that there really is a difference between the parties, Republicans want to cut the food stamp budget by $40 billion over the next ten years.
Oct 7, 2013
Urban Retreat 2013 was truly an experience beyond any tier. Never have I ever been surrounded by so many like-minded individuals–as much of an oxymoron as that might sound. We were all individuals because we all had our own story to share. We came from many different walks of life and parts of the world. All of us had to overcome some type of unique trauma and oppression that we were facing in our own separate lives. But we celebrated our diversity. And we were all there in unison trying to contribute to the vision we shared for the world.
I might have been a tiny bit apprehensive about making the trip to Washington, D.C. at first. I wasn’t really enthusiastic about being away from my girlfriend. It was a place I had never been to on my own. I would be surrounded by strangers. But these strangers quickly became my friends. And these friends were all activists and advocates for social progress in their own communities from all over the world, so I had a lot to learn from them. And I found, to my surprise, that I had things I could share with them as well. Together we received training to become more effective activists and leaders. And after the inspiring trainings and workshops, we headed to Capitol Hill together to share our stories and insight with our representatives. It was a self-affirming and inspiring experience.
I even got to meet Janet Mock! We talked and had dinner. She even tweeted me and followed me on Twitter!
It’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained new tools, resources, and concepts that would empower me and inspire me to be more involved in activism and advocacy for social justice. And it’s thanks to Urban Retreat that I’ve gained a new family with YouthResource. Today I woke up this morning and found myself in my own bed in Michigan. I wasn’t in Washington, D.C. with my fellow advocates anymore. The realization was bittersweet. But I know I’ll see these faces soon enough with stories to share.
Sep 25, 2013
Volunteer Training with One Royal Oak, discussing possible issues that may come up while phone banking.
Hype about DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has died down and our LGBT community sort of gained the right to marriage. Notable “activist” efforts like statuses being made, profile pictures on Facebook being changed, and arguing with not so progressive relatives went on for days until the Supreme Court ruling over DOMA. But since the SCOTUS ruling, there’s been silence and the false notion instilled in a surprising majority that we’ve finally achieved all that we needed to. Discrimination against LGBT folks is over because we can marry in some states and a lot of straight, cis people changed their photos into equality signs!
Our community is still facing several inequities which are more dire than not being able to walk down the aisle. What about making sure our brothers and sisters have a job and a place to live? Only 20 states offer some protection for LGBT people in housing. In 29 states, a person can still be fired without warning simply for being gay. And in 34 states a person can be fired for being trans*. Aren’t these the issues we should be engaging our friends and family with? What’s being done about it while we’re waiting to see what happens with ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) for who knows how long?
Before anyone asks what I’m personally doing about this, I can tell people right now that I’ve joined up with a non-profit, political campaign called One Royal Oak. Our mission is to pass a non-discrimination ordinance in Royal Oak, Michigan which would ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations “on the basis of actual OR perceived race, national origin, religion, color, sex, age, height, weight, pregnancy condition, marital status, physical and mental limitations, source of income, family responsibilities, educational
association, sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status.”
So far I’ve taken part in the volunteer training. I participated in phone banking, trying to gather donations for the cause. I’m constantly trying to make my friends and family understand the importance of this situation. I believe in equality, so I’ll do what I can to help. It’s just one city, but every little step counts. And One Royal Oak isn’t alone in their efforts for equality in the United States. Seek out ways to help our community either by volunteering or simply donating to activist groups like One Royal Oak, whether it’s on a local or federal level.
I’m more than happy that I have the right to marry my girlfriend thanks to the SCOTUS ruling. But between not walking down the aisle and not sleeping on the streets, I would choose the latter. There are many obstacles in finding a job and a place to live, our identity–who we choose to love and who we are–shouldn’t be one of them.
Sep 25, 2013
Documenting the Social and Economic Benefits of Family Planning
Reposted from: Guttmacher Institute, written by Adam Sonfield
Public health experts have long emphasized the benefits to maternal and child health of helping women and couples avoid unintended pregnancy and better time and space the pregnancies they have. Notably, numerous U.S. and international studies have found a causal link between closely spaced pregnancies and three key birth outcome measures: low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age.1 And a large body of literature highlights an association between unintended pregnancy and delayed initiation of prenatal care, as women are more likely to realize early that they are pregnant if they were trying to become pregnant.
Yet, although the preventive health benefits of unintended pregnancy prevention are clear and persuasive—and, indeed, provided the impetus for the new federal requirement that most private health plans cover contraception without copays or deductibles (see “The Case for Insurance Coverage of Contraceptive Services and Supplies Without Cost-sharing,” Winter 2011)—the primary reasons American women give for why they use and value contraception are social and economic. Women know that controlling whether and when to have children has positive benefits for their lives. A pair of recent Guttmacher Institute analyses explore their motivations and the benefits they accrue from acting on them. READ MORE
Sep 25, 2013
Koch Bros. Give Millions to Anti-Choice Efforts in the States
Reposted from: RHRealityCheck, written by Adele M. Stan
To hear the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch tell it, they’re all about business; they don’t give a whit about those messy, so-called “social issues” like abortion, contraception, or same-sex marriage. The billions they dump into the political coffers of the right, they’ll tell you, are to further what they call “free enterprise” (translate: killing unions and regulations on business) and, more generally, “freedom” (by which they generally mean freedom from things they don’t like, such as regulations and unions).
But a blockbuster report published Thursday by Politico reporters Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei shows otherwise. How else to explain why Freedom Partners, a shadowy group that Politico refers to as the “Kochs’ secret bank” gave $8.2 million to the virulently anti-LGBT, anti-abortion Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC), which lobbies for such bills as the recently passed law in Texas that will effectively ban all abortion 20 weeks after fertilization, and includes unnecessary and onerous regulations on abortion clinics that are designed to compel many to close their doors.
Sep 10, 2013
With back to school season in full swing, most students are busy getting school supplies and finding their classes, but for transgender students, school comes with added challenges. While most students do not worry about which restrooms/locker rooms to use or what clothing is too feminine or masculine, transgender students must be very careful in discerning which restroom or outfit is appropriate at school. The past few years have seen a great increase in transgender awareness, especially with regard to transgender youth. GLSEN’s 2009 Harsh Realities Report showed that school can be an especially hostile place for transgender and gender non-conforming students: According to the study, 90% of transgender students reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression (not masculine/feminine enough) at school. Over half of the respondents reported physical harassment because of their gender expression, and 46% of transgender students reported missing school for safety reasons.
Most recently, specific stories have been making the news as the media becomes more aware of the unique issues faced by transgender students from elementary school through college. For example, Isaak Wolfe is transgender high school student, who was allowed to wear the black graduation gown traditional for male students (rather than yellow for female students) at his high school graduation but his story went public when the school refused to read his chosen name at his graduation ceremony. Just previously, Wolfe had been publicly embarrassed by being nominated for prom queen under his former name. In Clearwater, Florida, a transgender nursing student recently reported that her school denies her access to the women’s restrooms. She is not allowed access to the men’s or women’s restrooms; instead she must go to a storage room that doesn’t even have a proper lock on the inside.
Despite these challenges, progress is being made. The broader awareness of trans* issues has led to more and more supportive parents of trans* children. We are now seeing very young children coming out and being accepted by their parents who advocate for their right to be who they are at school and beyond. In June, six year old Coy Mathis won a statewide legal case in Colorado allowing her to use the girls’ bathrooms at her elementary school. Just months later, California signed a historic bill that would allow transgender students to choose facilities and activities consistent with their gender identity. Legislation like this is important because it affirms the humanity of transgender students who deserve access to facilities consistent with their gender identity, just like any other student.
Protecting transgender students is not about giving them special options and privileges. Instead, it is about allowing these students to focus on learning at school rather than which facilities to use. Ashton Lee, a transgender California student who just wanted to play football, said it best: “I just want to be treated the same as all the other boys, but my school forces me to take P.E. in a class of all girls and live as someone I’m not…I can’t learn and succeed when every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone.”
Sep 1, 2013
Most people who occupy the social justice corners of the Internet are sure to have heard of the Edmonton police department’s anti-rape campaign. What makes the campaign so great is the focus on the offenders to not rape rather than telling the victims to not get raped with messages like, “It’s not sex when she’s passed out. Sex with someone unable to consent = sexual assault. Don’t be that guy.” SAVEdmonton even includes men as potential rape victims and broadens the crime outside a heteronormative perspective. From their own page on what makes this so different from other anti-rape campaigns:
Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to and increases self-blame in survivors. Instead, the SAVE campaigns targets potential offenders – ultimately the ones who hold the power and responsibility to end sexual assault. By addressing sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities. (reposted from SAVEdmonton.com)
Edmonton’s posters with messages of ending victim blaming and targeting perpetrators was successful in its intention to decrease the rate of sexual assaults. But it seems like not everyone is supportive of the campaign and its success. An unauthorized campaign took SAVEdmonton’s original posters and made parody versions.
(image reposted from The Edmonton Journal)
What makes these parody posters so problematic is the perpetuation of the myth of false reporting or allegations, which our current culture is already strongly promoting. These parody posters not only silences actual and potential victims, but blames them for the assaults against them which completely contradicts the original campaign’s message.
Here are the actual posters from SAVEdmonton:
With the current messages that’s fed to our youth on a daily basis, it’s really important to think of the messages SAVEdmonton has to share with the world. It doesn’t promote a rape culture and actively seeks to create a change by preventing sexual assault. SAVEdmonton is truly a model anti-rape campaign.
Sep 1, 2013
Just yesterday on a Friday afternoon, I posted the petition to make The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act a reality on my reproductive justice blog. It’s not much, but it’s already gained a little less than 900 notes on Tumblr. Popular blogs like ST*U, Sexists and F*ck Yeah, Sex Education just gave the petition a signal boost and I’ve seen a lot of #vision4sexed hashtags on Twitter, so we’ll be sure to see more feedback before September 10. And the youth activists have been out and about getting physical signatures, which is something I’m doing once school is back in session. Some people are reblogging it with their own commentary to emphasize the importance of it, and sometimes it’s all in caps so you know it’s a pretty big deal. Especially with our current culture’s views on sexuality and education. No one should have to suffer another abstinence only class in which our youth, especially girls, are compared to used up candy wrappers and dirty pieces of tape if they’re sexually active. If you haven’t already and you support comprehensive sex education, definitely sign the petition and share it!
The petition page lets you know exactly what you’re saying when you’re leaving behind a signature:
I support the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a sex education vision that outlines what young people truly need. The bill not only authorizes funding for comprehensive sex education directed towards adolescents and college students, but also prioritizes teacher training so that our nation’s educators have the tools they need to be effective in the classroom.
Let’s work to realize our vision of young people receiving the sex education they need in order to lead healthy lives and have healthy relationships. We owe it to them to provide them honest sexual health education. With the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act we can start bringing our vision for sex ed to life!
My vision for sex education includes letting our youth know that it’s never okay to shame others for being sexually active or abstinent by choice. My vision for sex education also includes teaching our youth the signs of an abusive relationship, whether it’s emotional, physical, or both. I’d love for there to be discussions that include the LGBTQ community because often they are erased from the topic, leaving many without resources. I find it to be very dangerous to let our youth go through life without the tools they need to have healthy lives. Comprehensive sex education just makes perfect sense to me. What’s your vision for sex ed?
Aug 27, 2013
Going back to school is awesome. It’s a time to reconnect with friends, and look forward to joining a team, being in the school play and going to dances. But going back to school can be stressful, and even unsafe, for transgender and gender non-conforming students who aren’t sure if their peers will support them.
80% of transgender students say they feel unsafe at school. Let’s change that.
Take a selfie with one of these signs to show your friends that all students matter and have the right to feel safe at school. Send your pic to firstname.lastname@example.org, and share it on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Instagram – everywhere! We’ll be sharing your photos to show trans students we stand with them, and to show schools that advocates for trans student rights won’t back down.
In partnership with Gay-Straight Alliance Network, GLSEN, National Center for Transgender Equality, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Advocates for Youth has written an Open Letter to school districts urging them to create safe spaces and supportive environments for young people.
Let’s make going back to school better for everyone. Take and share a pic right now.
Aug 24, 2013
First- Ever Legal Abortion,
And It Saved A Dying Woman’s
(Re-posted from ThinkProgress)
The first legal abortion in an Irish hospital has been carried out in Dublin, the Irish Times confirmed on Friday. It represents the first pregnancy termination under Ireland’s historic new abortion law, which slightly relaxed the country’s total ban to allow for legal abortions in cases when it’s necessary to preserve a woman’s life.
Before Ireland’s prime minister approved the new law in July, the country’s abortion laws had not been updated since 1867. Now, there are 25 Irish hospitals that are authorized to perform legal abortions in life-threatening cases without worrying about legal repercussions.
The National Maternity Hospital in Dublin carried out the pregnancy termination for a dying woman whose membrane had ruptured for more than 24 hours. She ran a high risk of sepsis, and her 18-week twin fetuses had no chance of survival outside of the womb. Doctors said her case bore many similarities to that of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman who died after being denied an emergency abortion in an Irish Catholic hospital last year. Halappanavar developed sepsis after she began to miscarry, but doctors wouldn’t terminate her doomed pregnancy until the fetal heartbeat had officially stopped three days later — and by that time, it was too late.
The Irish Times reports that in contrast to Halappanavar, the woman who received a legal abortion this month “has made a good recovery after receiving antibiotic treatment and undergoing the termination a number of weeks ago.”
Ireland’s new abortion law was spurred by Halappanavar’s tragic death, which sparked a global controversy. Reproductive rights activists vowed that an individual would “never again” be denied the life-saving medical care that could avert this type of tragedy. But even though Ireland has slightly relaxed its stringent abortion law to successfully avert another Savita, a handful of other conservative Catholic countries still impose total bans on the procedure. Following Halpannavar’s death, similar controversies have unfolded in El Salvador and Chile.
The Guttmacher Institute’s research has found that harsh bans on abortion don’t actually lower abortion rates. Instead, they simply encourage women to risk their lives to end a pregnancy illegally. An estimated 47,000 women around the world die each year from unsafe abortions — and that figure doesn’t include women like Halpannavar who die from pregnancy-related complications that an abortion could have averted.
Aug 21, 2013
“We are ready to start the fire again,” said state Rep. Christina Hagan at the press conference, which was filled with reporters as well as members of the Duggar family, reality television stars who have become some of the new faces of the evangelical anti-choice movement.
Speaking in favor of the ban was Michelle Duggar, matriarch of the 19 Kids and Counting family. With 17 of her 19 children in tow, Duggar spoke against the “baby holocaust” occurring in the United States, a talking point she also used at a Texas press event roughly a month ago: “There is a baby holocaust taking place, where doctors and nurses are paid to take the lives of innocent, unborn children. … If we do not speak up and do something to stop this holocaust, the blood of these little ones will be on our hands.”
Michelle’s oldest son, Josh, was recently named executive director of FRC Action, the political arm of the right-wing Christian group Family Research Council, an avid heartbeat ban supporter.
Aug 21, 2013
Prison Birth: Exploring Prison Justice Through Orange is the New Black
(Re-posted from Because I Am Woman an AH-MAZING sex-positivity, sex-ed, feminism, reproductive justice, birth justice, intersectionality, and activism blog. Check them out, and THANK YOU for letting us post this piece here.)
Orange is the New Black has been getting a lot of press lately, and it is certainly well deserved. The dark comedy features a dynamic and multi-faceted cast of women and gives a first-hand look into many of the realities women in prison face that are often left out of the conversation in mainstream culture and other prison related media. The visibility of the series has opened up many vital conversations on topics such as birthing, healthcare for trans people, mental health, privilege, sexuality and even the prison industrial complex itself. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be exploring these issues (and more) through the lens of the Orange is the New Black.
First up, we will be taking a good hard look at birthing in prison. Although birth has been an increasingly popular topic in reproductive justice and feminism in recent years, people experiencing it in prison aren’t often considered as part of the equation. In Orange is the New Black we are introduced to what birthing in prison might look like for people who are incarcerated when one inmate, Ruiz, is about to give birth during episode 8. Over the course of the episode, (although only a minor plot point), we see Ruiz go into labor and be told by a pharmacy tech that she may not go to a hospital until her contractions are extremely close together. When the time finally comes, Ruiz is taken away only to return at the end of the episode silently wheeled back into a room of women without her child. As the room of women turn to look at her, the silence that fills the room provides viewers with a shared sense of loss and sadness for the new mother, one that is likely in prison for a minor crime, who has already been taken from her child.
What we saw in this episode is only the beginning of what pregnancy and birth actually look like for many in prison. According to The Prison Birth Project, “In prison, 4-7% of women are pregnant, the same percentage as in the wider population; 85% are mothers, and 25% were pregnant upon arrest or gave birth in the previous year.” This demonstrates that reproductive health and pregnancy are clearly an issue for those incarcerated, and an issue that cannot be ignored in the reproductive justice movement. There is a need for education, advocacy, and support amongst these populations.
The reality of giving birth for many prisoners is also much worse than what we saw on Orange is the New Black. Many in prison are denied the medical care they need (pre and post-natal), and many more give birth still shackled in prison instead of in a hospital. Although advocates in many states have been pushing for change, only 16 states have passed legislation to outlaw the barbaric shackling of prisoners birthing and in labor. In their report “Mothers Behind Bars”by the National Women’s Law Center and the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, the organizations gave almost half of all states a failing grade for their treatment of pregnant and birthing people, and point out that there is no national standards for treatment and care of those who experience pregnancy behind bars.
Fortunately, there are people and organizations out there organizing around these issues. The Prison Birth Project and Birth Behind Bars both act as advocates in their respective areas and bring doulas into prisons to aid in birth and pregnancy. You can support them by volunteering your time, money and support, as well as by continuing to spread the word on these issues.
As for Orange is the New Black, we can likely count on this not being the last pregnancy and/or birth we see in the series. Since the pregnancy of Daya by a prison guard is a much bigger plot point in the show, it is my hope that we see a more well-rounded and realistic depiction of what this experience looks like for inmates in the second season.
Aug 20, 2013
One year ago, then-Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) uttered his infamous “legitimate rape” comment when explaining his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape. The comment gave the public a rare peek into the extreme views Akin and other like-minded conservatives have on reproductive rights and how fundamentally misinformed they are on matters of basic biology.
The comment was the beginning of the end of Akin’s Senate run. But while it may have cost him an election, it hasn’t stopped Republicans across the country from trying to legislate legal abortion out of existence. On Friday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) quantified those efforts in a new report, Shut That Whole Thing Down: A Survey of Abortion Restrictions Even in Cases of Rape. The report looks at abortion legislation in the states and Congress from the first half of 2013 and finds that:
86 percent (235) of the 273 provisions that politicians introduced in state legislatures to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
71 percent (27) of the 38 state provisions restricting women’s access to abortion enacted by the states apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
72 percent (18) of the 25 bills introduced in Congress to restrict a woman’s access to abortion apply to a woman whose pregnancy resulted from rape.
Aug 19, 2013
can we stop referring to all sex that could possibly result in pregnancy as “heterosexual reproduction” now
Aug 14, 2013
New laws banning abortion after 20 weeks are based on pseudoscience — and real research proves it conclusively.
This article originally appeared on Salon.com.
Since Nebraska first jump-started the trend back in 2010, close to a dozen state legislatures across the country have passed laws banning abortion at 20 weeks. Most of these restrictions are given grave-sounding titles like the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” or some near-identical riff on the words “fetal,” “pain” and “protection.” All of them, no matter what they’re called, rest on the stated premise that a fetus can experience pain at 20 weeks, and that this is a sufficient justification to ban all abortions after this gestational stage.
But “fetal pain” in the popular discourse is a nebulous concept, one that lawmakers like Jodie Laubenberg, Trent Franks and others haven’t much bothered to define or help ground in available medical evidence.
Probably because there really isn’t any. The limited research used to support such claims has been refuted as pseudoscience by both the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (Not to mention smaller studies from researchers at Harvard University, University College London and elsewhere.)
“We know a lot about embryology [in the field]. The way that a fetus grows and develops hasn’t changed and never will,” Dr. Anne Davis, a second-trimester abortion provider, associate professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, and consulting medical director at Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Salon. “And what we know in terms of the brain and the nervous system in a fetus is that the part of the brain that perceives pain is not connected to the part of the body that receives pain signals until about 26 weeks from the last menstrual period, which is about 24 weeks from conception.”
Because the neural structures necessary to feel pain have not yet developed, any observable responses to stimuli at this gestational stage — like the fetal “flinching” during an amniocentesis — are reflexive, not experiential. Which is to say, the fetus at 20 weeks can’t actually feel anything at all. Which is to say, the fundamental justification for these laws is a really big, really popular lie.
Aug 14, 2013
North Carolina House Republicans have, without notice, inserted sweeping changes to the state’s abortion rules into a motorcycle safety law. Effectively, they’ve reintroduced the abortion bill that Governor Pat McCrory had threatened to veto.
Aug 8, 2013
A lot of people of the transgender community state that they have always realized their true identity even from a young age. Petula Dvorak’s article supports that by highlighting a young Katherine who identifies with being a male, and thus has decided that she wants to become “Tyler”. This is very interesting because Tyler appears to have a very supportive and understanding community. Yes, there are skeptics, but the article says that his parents, teachers, and many others support his decision to decide to be a male, which has led to him being a very happy child. You don’t hear about stories like this too often and perhaps it may be a good decision to let a child decide what gender they would like to identify with so as to spare them from feeling the woes of being “trapped in a body that is not theirs”.
So what are your thoughts on this situation? Do you believe that a young child has the RIGHT to determine their own identity in spite of society’s opinion?
For more information on gender identity, please visit www.advocatesforyouth.org.
Jul 31, 2013
When we hear about politicians making unqualified and uneducated statements about abortion and reproductive/sexual health, we just shake our heads, asking ourselves and our peers, “How does someone like that get into office?”
Not to diminish your faith in humanity, but less than a couple weeks ago, Brian Nieves, a Republican state senator of Missouri, commented in a Facebook argument to a pro-choice priest, “‘Life of the Mother?’ Your own argument proves it is a matter of convenience!” State senator Brian Nieves later denied that he said this. But the denial wouldn’t do him any good since his comments have been screencapped and the comment is still on the Facebook page.
There are people who treat this like it’s an isolated incident. Like it’s nothing to worry about, but you’d have to imagine the kind of culture it takes to condition people to be able to say these things. You don’t even have to imagine because that’s the culture we’re living in. It’s not just one old, white male politician. It’s several. And they’re not necessarily always white men.
Brace yourself. This is pretty triggering.
“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”
— Florida Rep. Allen West expresses a clear understanding of how oppression and privilege works.
“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out.”
— Texas state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, discussing why there shouldn’t be a rape or incest exception in bills restricting reproductive health care because clearly she understands how health care works.
“I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something God intended to happen.” —Richard Mourdock, an Indiana state senator candidate who fortunately did not win.
“Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception.”
—Joe Walsh, former Illinois congressman revealing just how “pro-life” he really is.
“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
—Missouri Representative Todd Akin basically sharing how much he doesn’t know about a female body in one terrible sentence.
“The facts show that people who are raped —who are truly raped—the juices don’t flow, the body functions don’t work and they don’t get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever.”
—former North Carolina Rep. Henry Aldridge using imaginary doctors as his sources.
“As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
—Clayton Williams regarding rape, he was a former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender and a past fundraiser for John McCain.
This is one of the many reasons why I’m in total support of Advocates for Youth. The politicians I’ve listed are the kind of people who have been supporting legislation that not only hurts people who need abortions, but rape victims and teens in desperate need of comprehensive sex education. It hurts people who need access to contraception, affordable health care, and everything else a person would need to live a quality life. And it’s not going to stop until we change the culture and institutions that allows it to happen. So, we advocate for the youth. We have a responsibility to them to ensure that they have their rights and are to be respected.
Jul 29, 2013
The US Justice and Education departments stood with transgender students across the nation last Wednesday. The agencies stated that Arcadia school district in California must change policies and practices to accommodate transgender students, allowing them to participate in gender segregated activities and use the locker room and bathroom of their choice.
The landmark enforcement was in response to the school district’s failure to create a positive learning environment for a transgender student. The student, entering 9th grade this fall, faced years of isolation and humiliation as he was restricted to spaces where he did not come into contact with other male or female students.
It is substantial to have the Justice and Education department set a legal precedence on this issue that leaves no room for interpretation of gender discrimination laws. However, the most encouraging push by these agencies is their requirement for teachers and staff to participate in cultural competency trainings regarding gender. Enforcing schools to stop isolating transgender students will not stop harassment and ignorance, only education will.
Jul 24, 2013
On July 22, 2013 Dwayne Jones a Trans-gender otherwise known as “GULLY QUEEN” and “Dwayne Gagastar Trensetta” was shot and stabbed to death in the Irwin community, St James.
i read about this incident on a blog i read occasionally, click the link to read the horrific story: http://www.minority-insight.org/2013/07/17-year-old-transgender-murdered-in.html
Jul 23, 2013
Young sexual and reproductive rights advocates continue to push for the full integration of a rights-based approach in relation to advancing population and development goals. That was the overarching message of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Regional Youth Summit.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, where activists representing over 40 international organizations gathered and developed a Call to Action, ensuring young people sexual and reproductive rights continue to be integrated in development agendas.
The summit brought together a diverse group of 40 young people from Eastern Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel (EECARO region), to discuss and develop priority goals. During the summit, we organized ourselves into three sessions based on interest and expertise
- Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development,
- Families, Sexual and Reproductive Health over the Life Course,
- Inequalities, Social Inclusion and Rights.
After lengthy conversations, each group came up with a number of recommendations to share with the entire forum for us all to debate and finalize. The culmination of our work was translated into a solid document that represents what the youth from the EECARO region want elected officials and leaders to take into consideration. You can access the full document here.
The outcome of the summit embodied the youth vision and development priorities for the region over the next decade and was presented at the Regional Conference in Geneva. Fifteen delegates from our group (bearing in mind equal representation) attended the Geneva Conference and shared our declaration (Youth Call to Action). The speech, delivered by Grace Wilentz from YouAct (European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights) and Jakub Skrzypczyk from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights can be found here.
On a personal note, I had a great time interacting with all the youth participants at the Regional Youth Forum and learning more about the EECARO region. It became clearer to me that the same sexual and reproductive health and rights issues we are advocating for in the US are found in other parts of the world. I was happy to discover that we are not alone in this battle. Young people from all over the world are rising up to the challenge, demanding greater youth representation in world affairs and better human rights conditions for all.
About United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA)
Tasked with the mission of delivering “a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” UNFPA is a UN organization whose efforts are guided by two main frameworks, 1) the Program of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and 2) the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which are eight targets to reduce extreme poverty by 2015.
With the date for achieving these goals fast approaching, UNFPA and its partners, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), have been working together to ramp up their efforts. UNFPA and UNECE have been involved in the Beyond 2014 Review, an effort to engage world leaders from governments and civil society in drafting a new global commitment to create a more equal and more sustainable world.
The ICPD Operational Review has been taking place as part of the Beyond 2014 Review, and UNFPA and UNECE have been facilitating this process. Within this process, UNFPA and UNECE organized three thematic meetings on the following topics:
- “Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development”,
- “Reducing Inequities, Fostering Social Inclusion” and
- “Life Course, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and Families”.
As a culminating event, the agencies planned for a two-day Regional Conference entitled “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century,” which was just held in Geneva (1-2 July), gathering leaders from all over the EECARO region (Europe, North America, Central Asia and Israel).
Young people are at the core of the UNFPA’s mandate, offering an essential voice to help shape the future development agenda. Therefore, young people have participated in the operational review at the country level and in all the thematic meetings mentioned above. In order to continue their involvement, UNFPA EECARO has organized the Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul (30-31 May) and in which I participated, representing Advocates for Youth and the US at large.
Jul 22, 2013
Jul 22, 2013
California’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly 60 percent as a result of expanded sex education programs, according to a report released by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on Wednesday.
The report –- which was based on data collected until 2011 — revealed that the California teen pregnancy rate reached a 20-year low that year. While in 1991, there were 70.9 births for every 1,000 teens aged 15-19, in 2011 this number decreased to 28 births per 1,000 teens.
Teen pregnancy rates fell across all ethnic groups, according to the report. The Hispanic teen birth rate dropped from 73.6 in 2001 to 42.7 in 2011 –- although Hispanics continue to be the group with the highest teen birth rate. Teen pregnancy rates for African-Americans, Whites and Asian-Americans also decreased significantly.
Several factors contributed to the falling pregnancy rates, the department said in a press release. One factor was the state’s school sex education program, which law requires to be comprehensive and medically accurate. The report also credits community-based education programs that provide sexual health information to teens and their parents.
“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.
“California’s innovative strategies and community partnerships aimed at lowering teen pregnancy are helping young women and men make responsible choices,” Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH, said in a press release. “We must not be complacent; we must continue to promote teen pregnancy prevention programs and strategies in all communities.”
As Think Progress noted, California’s teen birth rate decreases are part of a national trend. The national teen birth rate dropped nearly 50 percent between 1991 and 2011, NBC’s Today Health reported.
Jul 22, 2013
Latin America is home to five of the seven countries in the world in which abortion is banned in all instances, even when the life of the woman is at risk: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, with the Vatican City and Malta outside the region.
Jul 19, 2013
On the same day that Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a controversial abortion omnibus bill into law, Republican legislators in the state introduced yet another anti-abortion measure, this time looking to ban abortions after 6 weeks. And while it seems very unlikely at this point that the bill will make it through the state’s legislative process by July 31, the end of the current special legislative session in Texas, the timing is still drawing a decent bit of attention.
There’s only one state in the U.S. with an abortion ban after 6 weeks: North Dakota. And that law is being challenged in the courts as unconstitutional. The 6-week bans, like the one proposed in Texas, rely upon the detection of a fetal heartbeat by a doctor. Arguing that a fetal heartbeat is “a key medical predictor that an unborn child will reach live birth,” the Texas bill, HB59, would require doctors to determine whether a fetal heartbeat exists before legally performing an abortion. Fetal heartbeats typically register at around 6 weeks, meaning that the bill would effectively make that the cut off for the procedure.
Jul 12, 2013
Texas Lawmaker Says Sex Ed Makes Teens ‘Hot and Bothered’ Leads to Sex and Babies
The Texas house recently passed an extreme bill that could force most of the state’s abortion clinics to close. Many of the debates over the bill were heated, but one of the more interesting ones started last Tuesday night after a house committee vote was over and three members of the committee had a conversation that was audio-taped by a reporter for theHouston Chronicle. In that conversation, Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) pointed out to two of her Republican colleagues, Reps. Steve Toth (The Woodlands) and Bill Zedler (Arlington), that sex education that includes information about contraception can help prevent unintended pregnancies, and therefore can reduce the number of abortions that are performed. Toth was quick to disagree about the merits of sex education.
Jul 12, 2013
Jul 10, 2013
Jul 2, 2013
AP: Ireland’s lawmakers voted 138-24 to back a bill legalizing abortions in life-threatening cases. The proposed law faces final passage next week.
Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.
Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman — including from her own suicide threats.
Photo: This Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012 file photo shows abortion rights protesters holding pictures of Savita Halappanavar as they march through central Dublin, demanding that Ireland’s government ensures that abortions can be performed to save a woman’s life. (Shawn Pogatchnik / AP file)
Jul 1, 2013
I decided to break the law to provide a necessary medical service because women were dying at the hands of butchers and incompetent quacks, and there was no one there to help them. The law was barbarous, cruel and unjust. I had been in a concentration camp, and I knew what suffering was. If I can ease suffering, I feel perfectly justified in doing so.
-Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Canadian doctor who was arrested four times for performing abortions, but whose arrests eventually led to the 1988 Canadian Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the country.
He died this week at the age of 90. Good obit in the NY Times.
Jul 1, 2013
I posted a couple things here about Wendy Davis’ insanely awesome marathon filibuster to stop SB5, which is a bill from Texas that would close the majority of the clinics in the state that not only provide abortion services, but contraception and general health care. And she wasn’t alone. Hundreds of local supporters stood by her and when the bill was thought to be stopped, the capitol building erupted with cheers.
The lawmakers had to vote on this bill before it hit midnight. But thanks to Senator Wendy Davis, Senator Leticia Van De Putte, and hundreds of reproductive justice advocates, lawmakers fortunately did not get the chance to meet that deadline. Republican lawmakers tried to argue that the bill was voted and passed on time despite clear evidence revealing that the vote ended on June 26 when it was supposed to be June 25. They later took it back and admitted that the vote occurred after midnight and the bill was dead. All Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst could say about it was: “…it’s been fun.” Because taking away people’s rights to health care is so much fun.
The bill was thought to be stopped and everyone in the social justice club was happy. But Texas Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to try to bring SB5 back. This would make all the efforts of the Texans who went to stop this in vain. Governor Rick Perry’s Facebook, Twitter, office website, office address, and phone information has been spreading so that people can voice their opinions. Hopefully the voices of the constituents will be heard.
While the Internet social justice atmosphere exploded at the news of Texan Republicans’ shady tactics, for good reason, Ohio has passed some terrible anti-choice legislation of their own. Ohio lawmakers didn’t even bring it up for debate. They slyly passed the bill last minute the other night. Activists are sharing Ohio Governor John Kaisch’s phone number (614-728-7576) in hopes that he line-vetoes the measure. If he doesn’t, Planned Parenthood and rape crisis centers lose their funding in that state, and those funds will be going to Crisis Pregnancy Centers. And you know what Crisis Pregnancy Centers are like. People will have to will 24 hours before receiving their emergency contraception. Forced ultrasounds will be legalized, and the unwilling patient would still have to pay for it. This measure would even redefine pregnancy, throwing out the actual medical definition, so that using emergency contraception would be considered abortion.
We have our work cut out for us.
Jun 27, 2013
Yesterday was a historic day for same-sex and some transgender couples as the Supreme Court ruled favorably on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8. Among my friends there was much celebration, but not without hesitation and critique. Many felt they could not truly let themselves enjoy the moment due to the discrimination and oppression still facing many in the queer* community. Homelessness, inadequate health care, violence, multiple oppressions among queer people of color, and many other issues remain rampant barriers to true equality. Browsing through my social networks I also saw many saying the rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 were overshadowed by the Court’s decision to strike Section 4 from the Voting Rights Act.
These conversations had me torn over how to celebrate and talk about what transpired at the Court earlier that day, in addition to the decisions the Court released over the past two weeks. It is vital to pause and celebrate milestones such as yesterday’s events in order to acknowledge the progress that has been made, allow for self-reflection, and reignite our dedication to the issues we work on. Yet, by achieving milestones, we must be cautious not to lose focus of issues that still disproportionately affect queer people. Personally, I do not face much discrimination in my life based upon my gender identity or sexual orientation. Despite knowing a lot about the diverse issues facing the queer community, benefitting from such safety and privilege partially blinds me to the scale of discrimination and oppression some American queers face. For me, yesterday’s rulings were a call to action – a reminder to continue advocating for the largely unaddressed issues still facing the queer community.
*I use queer here to denote all sexual and gender minorities
Jun 26, 2013
From Huffington Post:
The Texas anti-abortion bill, which threatened to close nearly all of the abortion clinics in the state and prompted an 11-hour filibuster by state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), is dead, The Austin American-Statesman reported.
Lawmakers had to vote on Senate Bill 5 before the special session’s end at 12 a.m. local time. However, more than 400 protesters halted the proceedings 15 minutes before the roll call could be completed with what they called “a people’s filibuster,”The Associated Press reported.
The crowd of demonstrators in the capitol cried “Shame! Shame!” when Davis’ filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. Then the protesters roared after state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
Their cries continued to echo inside the chamber — and over a livestream watched by thousands around the world — until after the midnight deadline passed.
Although some Republican lawmakers later claimed the bill had passed in time, Democrats denied that the vote was completed before the clock ran out on the session.
A time stamp showing the vote completed after midnight was the deciding factor. “This will not become law,” Sen. John Whitmire (D), told The Austin American-Statesman.
In response, the crowd of protesters gathered in the capitol cheered and began singing “The Eyes Of Texas,” the alma mater of the University of Texas at Austin.
According to The Texas Tribune, Dewhurst was less than pleased by the evening’s turn of events. After ruling that the time on SB 5 had expired, he told reporters that “an unruly mob using Occupy Wall Street tactics” had derailed legislation that was designed to protect women and babies.
The legislation would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regulated first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers and restricted access to medication abortions. Had it passed, nearly all of the clinics in the state would have been shuttered.
Dewhurst also hinted that Gov. Rick Perry may call another special session to get the bill passed, saying: “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon.”
Despite a long day of filibustering, Davis was upbeat when she greeted the crowd of supporters, who applauded the senator and chanted her name.
“Today was democracy in action,” Davis said. “You all are the voices we were speaking for from the floor.”
Jun 26, 2013
From Tumblr blogger kat1712:
(edited for language)
Senator Wendy Davis is a f*cking badass.
There’s this bill that they are trying to pass in Texas that would make it illegal to get any abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and would make it very difficult for abortion centers to continue doing what they do. Governor Rick Perry has already said that if the bill makes it to his desk, he will sign it. And Wendy Davis said f*ck no that is not happening.
So she’s filibustering it. That means she asked to talk on the subject at 11:18 this morning, and if she can continue talking about abortion until 11:59 tonight, the bill won’t reach Governor Perry, and they would have to start all over with the bill next time they meet- 2 years from now.
But Wendy has to keep talking. She can’t pause for even a minute, not for food or a sip of water or to go to the bathroom or sit down. She can’t even lean up against anything, or she’s out. So she’s wearing motherf*cking PINK NIKE TENNIS SHOES in the middle of the state senate.
She also has to continue talking about the topic. She sent out tweets an other messages last night asking for anyone and everyone’s abortion story, and received a sh*t load of answers. Her staff is still collecting them, and she’s reading them aloud to the senate. Not only is she making this bill impossible to pass, she may just change some minds while she’s at it.
This is history, guys. Wendy Davis is a motherf*cking badass, and we are watching it happen.
Jun 22, 2013
“The lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men is discriminatory and not based on sound science,” AMA board member William Kobler said in a statement. “This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone.”
The AMA’s stance on amending the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in the U.S. falls in line with recent policy changes in other countries. Earlier this year Canadian Blood Services approved achange in policy that would allow gay men to donate blood if they have abstained from having sex with another man for five years prior to their donation. Additionally, other countries such as Australia and the U.K., require only a one-year window of deferral for sexually active gay men, while South Africa requires only a six-month period.
Jun 21, 2013
For decades, most Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been lying to women, evading questions, and disguising their institutions as health care facilities. They receive federal funding to shame women into believing lies- “abortion causes breast cancer”, “it will make you infertile”, “condoms do not protect against STIs”, etc. They do not have a doctor at these facilities, and are not under HIPAA regulations of non-disclosure of medical records. They are against all contraception forms. They will harass a woman until she is in tears, and then send her on her way with a Christian religious token, and a promise from her that she will keep her child, they will only provide “help” if she agrees to go to Bible Study. This is not health care. Title X funding should be revoked.
Jun 21, 2013
“CPCs have a long history of engaging in deceptive advertising. For example, some CPCs intentionally choose their name to mislead women into believing that they offer a wide range of services, including family planning and abortion care. The Family Research Council investigated what names would be most likely to appeal to women, particularly pro-choice women, in a 1998 report. Women’s Resource Center, which gives the impression of a full range of services, was deemed to have the most strategic value in reaching women “at risk for abortion.” The report also showed that women faced with an unplanned pregnancy were most likely to look in the Yellow Pages under the words “Pregnancy,” “Medical,” “Women’s Centers” and “Clinics.” Accordingly, CPCs often are advertised under these categories, as well as “Abortion Alternatives,” and “Women’s Organizations.” CPCs also advertise through posters, signs, and billboards that contain messages like, “Free Pregnancy Test,” or “Pregnant? Scared? We Can Help! Call 1-800 #.” Women report, however, that when they call these numbers the CPC representatives evade questions about whether they provide abortions, and urge the women to make an appointment to meet with a ‘counselor’ to talk in person.”
Jun 18, 2013
The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced last Friday that it would be changing their outdated gender marker policy. For the transgender community and our supporters, this is a big step forward. Previously, the gender marker on one’s social security card could only be changed after gender affirmation surgery. Not only are these surgeries expensive and typically not covered by insurance, but they are not desired by all members of the trans community. The new SSA policy allows an individual to change their gender marker by presenting a passport or birth certificate reflecting their desired gender or a letter from a doctor confirming they are receiving “appropriate clinical treatment”.
As a trans person I am ecstatic to learn of the SSA’s policy change, but this policy further complicates my “official governmental identity”. I have legally changed my name, however, my gender marker remains in limbo at the discretion of individual policies. Currently, I am able to change my gender marker on my social security card, my health insurance card, and my passport. As a New Hampshire resident, I cannot change my driver’s license or birth certificate. While a handful of states allow people to change their gender on the driver’s license and birth certificate without having gender affirmation surgery, New Hampshire is not one of those states. Legal recognition as a male by some institutions and female as other creates unnecessary inconsistency. It is time for a singular, national procedure for changing one’s gender marker.
Although I have chosen to medically transition, I do not identify with either gender. Thus, I am not too shaken by still having an “F” on the majority of my legal documents. I can imagine the dysphoria and trauma this causes many trans people though. If there ever is a uniform policy for changing one’s gender marker, I hope the option for a third gender is included. As of July 1, Australians will have the option of identifying as gender “X”, signaling intermediate, intersex, or unspecified. This option acknowledges those who do not identify with either gender or identify as a combination of genders. The US should follow suit to celebrate the diversity of gender identity and expression among its citizens.
Jun 15, 2013
“Together we can end HIV stigma, but we need to be able to TALK ABOUT IT. Share this graphic to continue the conversation and encourage your network of friends to speak up!”
Jun 11, 2013
Jun 1, 2013
May 31, 2013
Tomorrow, the HUB network premieres the first episode of it’s new cartoon series, SheZow. The show, focused on a young boy who transforms into a female superhero has, unsurprisingly, drawn a lot of criticism, concern and outrage from some who feel that it might somehow convince young kids to become Trans*. While this is obviously ridiculous, I still have my apprehensions before we declare this a win for the LGBTQ community and reproductive justice as a whole.
In discussing this with my mom, she pointed out the distinct difference between Guy and his female alter-ego, SheZow. Guy is, well, a guy; the creators went so far as to name him that as to affirm his masculinity and make sure he is as far on the male side of the gender binary as possible. Guy plays video games, skateboards, and wears a baggy T-shirt and cargo shorts. Meanwhile, SheZow is on the complete opposite side of the binary. All of her gadgets are pink, she wears eyeliner and eye-shadow, and her costume is a pink leopard-print catsuit. Though this is not abnormal of children’s television, the fact that the show appears to adhere strictly to the binary and uphold established constructs of gender doesn’t sit right with me.
I’m also concerned as to how this show might represent Trans* issues. I’m concerned not about “exposing” children to the concept of what it means to be Trans*, rather how children are being exposed to it. I admit, I don’t have a lot of faith in the media, and I’m concerned that the show might trivialize or misrepresent Trans* issues, causing kids and teens who are beginning to question their gender identity to feel even more uncomfortable.
The show hasn’t premiered yet, and I could be wrong, and hopefully I am. But for now, I think we need to hold off before we definitively call this a victory.
May 31, 2013
On Wednesday, the highest court in El Salvador denied an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy that is so high-risk that doctors say it could kill her. Beatriz, 22, is carrying a 26-week fetus with anencephaly, a birth defect that means part of the brain and skull are missing and that the baby will almost certainly die at birth. Beatriz’s doctors say the abortion is necessary for Beatriz’s health and perhaps to save her life. But by a vote of 4–1, the Salvadoran judges ruled that in light of the country’s absolute ban on abortion, “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus.
El Salvador’s complete ban on abortions has become relatively rare worldwide, as the first map below shows. Keep scrolling and you will see enormous variation in how countries (and states in the U.S.) regulate abortion and birth control. Our main sources of data for these maps are the United Nations, the Guttmacher Institute, the Population Reference Bureau, the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Harvard University’s Center for Population and Development Studies.
The maps reflect continuing change: Uruguay recently legalized first-trimester abortions, and courts in Columbia, Brazil, and Argentina have begun to allow them in certain cases. Meanwhile in the United States, Republican-led statehouses have been tightening restrictions since the 2010 election. It’s the largest wave of legislation in the decades since Roe v. Wade.
May 31, 2013
Whenever abortion is the topic of a conversation, especially when spoken of as a choice that someone wants to make for whatever reason that’s personally valid to them, there is always someone who pops up and says, “Adoption is an option too!” You know, as if that thought never occurred to anyone ever or it’s some kind of a magical word to rid one of an unwanted pregnancy. I witness it all the time on my STFU Pro-Lifers blog through the large amount of messages I receive on a daily basis, but yesterday a self-proclaimed pro-choicer shared that familiar, derailing insight you hear from anti-choicers. Granted, she had her own personal experiences with abortion and adoption. I made sure that she knew how appreciative and grateful I was to her for sharing those experiences with me. But it was something she said that really bugged me. There were a few sentences subtly expressing privilege and ignorance.
“It isn’t that hard to find someone to adopt a baby…”
She also mentioned the baby she gave up for adoption was blonde haired and blue eyed. It’s another discussion that makes it clear how important it is to be intersectional. She was speaking solely as a white woman in her experiences with adoption. She somehow gained an adoption lawyer at no personal cost to her. Adoptive parents quickly lined up for this white blue eyed baby. And the parents the girl chose to adopt her baby paid for her one year of school tuition. She was happy with her decision, and that’s great. I’m happy for her. Anyone would be.
But for the part about how “easy” it is to get someone to adopt a baby… well, I quickly and politely corrected her. She thanked me and then told me that she loves my blog. The matter was settled. It still bugs me though, and it’s not so much the person but the original line of thinking shared by so many people. You hear things like that all the time. Oh, you’re pregnant and don’t want to be? But there are tons of people out there who can’t have children! You should consider adoption!
I guess no one told them that less than 2% of our entire population actually adopts, and when they do adopt, the less than 2% tend to favor the able-bodied, young, emotionally sound, sibling-less, white baby. [source] And really? Agreeing to the idea of an adoption won’t make an unwanted pregnancy go poof! There are still nine, agonizing months of a condition that was never consented to. I mean, most pregnancies are already really difficult for those who do it willingly. There are tons of complications that arise during those three, brave trimesters. I can’t even begin to imagine how traumatic it is for those who desperately don’t want to be pregnant but were forced to remain so.
Don’t want to raise a child? Fine! Adoption is definitely an alternative to parenthood. Just keep in mind that abortion is an alternative to a pregnancy. That’s how it works. Don’t talk to me about how there are tons of people in the world who can’t have children. No one should be forced into being a brood mare for someone else. No one owes their body to anyone else.
As pro-choicers, it’s inherent in our very name that we celebrate choice whether it be parenthood, adoption, or abortion. We keep in mind that our lives are individual, and the same can be said about our choices.
May 30, 2013
There are a lot of forces out there trying to misinform the public, especially the youth, when it comes to reproductive/sexual health and rights. One of the biggest groups out there is called Live Action. When you look up Live Action on Google, they’re listed as a non-profit pro-life organization. According to them, they are a “youth led movement dedicated to building a culture of life and ending abortion.” They claim to do undercover investigation in clinics to prove and document “illegal, inhuman, and gruesome” practices and share it on social media sites. To this organization, abortion is:
An enterprise built on destroying pre-born children for money leaves few rules unbroken. But the abortion industry’s corruption goes deeper than most people would think: from threatening women’s lives with dangerously bad medical advice, to protecting child sex-trafficking rings, to covering up statutory rape, to actions even more heinous. Live Action’s undercover exposés document these many abuses, so the whole world can see the horrors going on right in our backyards – and paid for with our tax money.
The above statements were taken right off of the home page of their website. Now despite their best efforts to intentionally misinform the public about abortion and Planned Parenthood services, people have caught on. One of the many people to call out Live Action’s lies is a YouTube vlogger named Cristina Rad who is popular on the Internet for her commentary on her atheism, gender politics, and casual ideas of social justice. The Live Action video she tackled and is most popular for is called We are the Youth. You can watch her video response here. I would definitely recommend ignoring the Live Action video and go straight to Cristina’s response, especially since Cristina actually cites some statistics in her description.
It’s beyond a YouTube vlog debunking Live Action videos though. Media Matters, “a research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the Media,” lists hoax after hoax created by Live Action. Even Slate, a major online magazine on politics and culture, has recently come out with a video that reveals how Live Action’s deceptive editing is intentionally done to frame doctors and clinic staff. The video that Slate chose to analyze has unfortunately already been promoted and aired on TV news (if you really count Fox News as news at all–countries with laws against lying on the news certainly don’t) and commentary programs after the Kermit Gosnell incident. But Slate’s video is worth the view, because they go through all the raw footage that Live Action leaves out and reveals what Live Action didn’t want the average viewer to see.
Seriously! Click the link below to watch!
May 27, 2013
May 25, 2013
Mississippi Could Soon Jail Women for Stillbirths & Miscarriages?
On March 14, 2009, 31 weeks into her pregnancy, Nina Buckhalter gave birth to a stillborn baby girl. She named the child Hayley Jade. Two months later, a grand jury in Lamar County, Mississippi, indicted Buckhalter for manslaughter, claiming that the then-29-year-old woman “did willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, kill Hayley Jade Buckhalter, a human being, by culpable negligence.”
The district attorney argued that methamphetamine detected in Buckhalter’s system caused Hayley Jade’s death. The state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on April 2, is expected to rule soon on whether the prosecution can move forward.
If prosecutors prevail in this case, the state would be setting a “dangerous precedent” that “unintentional pregnancy loss can be treated as a form of homicide,” says Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, a nonprofit legal organization that has joined with Robert McDuff, a Mississippi civil rights lawyer, to defend Buckhalter. If Buckhalter’s case goes forward, NAPW fears it could spur a wave of similar prosecutions in Mississippi and other states.
May 18, 2013
May 17, 2013
May 16, 2013
Melissa Harris-Perry’s Panel looks at Elizabeth Smart’s recent comments on abstinence-only sex education and whether the policy is effective.
WATCH IT HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ty_MA_mrow8
May 13, 2013
May 4, 2013
Apr 30, 2013
Transgender women are the fastest growing population of the HIV-positive. The National Institutes of Health came out with a report, noting that almost a third of transgender Americans have HIV. Trans women of color specifically are at a greater risk than their white sisters. Through a survey, it was found that 56% of black trans women have HIV. The 2009 study from NIH also noted that many transgender women may not even know their HIV status. With an alarming statistic like this, we have to wonder what’s causing it.
When individuals are thrown into social injustice, it can be difficult to escape from. Trans women are profiled and disproportionately targeted and arrested by the law enforcement. The police will try to use condoms as evidence of sex work, so trans women face the “choice” of keeping themselves and their partners safe or getting arrested. When they’re forced into jail, trans women are often housed with male inmates or they are put into solitary confinement, as if either path is any better. Sex workers are generally more likely to be HIV-positive than those who are not engaged in sex work, but because of the disproportionate targeting of trans women, trans women sex workers’ risk for HIV is four times greater.
While sex work is a valid way of meeting financial needs, some trans women turn to it as an option because of discrimination in employment. In most of the United States, it’s completely legal to turn down or dismiss a person based on gender identity and sexual orientation. People can even be denied housing or become evicted because of their gender identity and orientation. This leaves a dangerously negative and significant impact on their economic well-being and safety. It also makes it difficult for trans women especially to keep up with their hormonal therapy, since it’s often not covered by insurance, if they can even pay for that insurance with what the circumstances are. With lack of access to basic health care, many incompetent doctors, clinics, social stigma, and overall institutions that discriminate against trans women, especially those of color– it’s all a very nasty formula expressing why trans women are hit so hard with HIV.
So, what can we do to help? Trans people are often absent from public campaigns for sexual health and safety. We can start by including them into that, and into many of our discussions and campaigns of social justice as well. We could get trans-specific in our literature in safer sex guides. We could also set up community centers as a safe space for trans people and create some peer groups, which would be strong social networks and a good use of peer outreach for safer sex and HIV testing. And of course we could and should create social support and do our part to de-stigmatize our trans brothers and sisters. Look up a local or national activist organization today.