October is a big month

5 10 2009

October is:

Breast Cancer Awareness Month


LGBTQ History Month



Domestic Violence Awareness Month


Sexual Assault Awareness Month (at Tufts)


Weekly Feminist Reader

27 09 2009

Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood

Partisan Politican Contributions by US Companies

A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track

Health Care Reform — at the Price of Women’s Health?

Nike Makes Black Athlete Look Like…an Animal? An Alien? What?

Cross-generational discussions can be difficult – but we need to have them

Trans-misogyny? There’s an app for that

A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally

The Reverse of Discrimination is “Not Discrimination”

Minor Offenses: The Tragedy of Youth in Adult Prisons

What’s wrong with [not just young people] everybody now

Malkin’s venom knows no bounds: Obama “doesn’t like this country very much”, is the “Groveler in Chief”

Coalition for Choice Lobby Day 2009

16 09 2009

Got this info from NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts and from Planned Parenthood.

On October 6, the Mass Coalition for Choice is having a lobby day in support of the Comprehensive Health Education Bill and the Repeal Bill.  Come out and demonstrate your support for real health ed. and repeal of archaic public health laws!

You can help out by urging legislators to support:

1.  An Act Relative to Providing Health Education in Schools (Senate Bill 218/House Bill 3434)-  requires that schools provide age appropriate health ed grades K-12.

2)  An Act Relative to Updating the Public Health Laws (Senate Bill 1610/ House Bill 1745)-  would repeal archaic, unconstitutional abortion and contraceptive restrictions still on the books in Mass.

The lobby day is Oct 6th from 9 am to noon, starting in the Great Hall at the State House in Boston.

NARAL is also offering a lobby day training, which they are willing to come to the classroom and conduct.  Contact organizing@prochoicemass.org to sign up for lobby day or training.  You can also contact Planned Parenthood to sign up at amooers@pplm.org.

*Also, Planned Parenthood’s Plan is having an open house Saturday, Oct. 3rd, 11AM-4PM in front of Plan in Davis Square-  260 Elm St.  There will be games, raffle, prizes, info, giveaways, and a 3 for $30 birth control promotion.  The rain date is Oct. 7th.

Stop Trans Pathologization – 2012 Campaign

29 08 2009

The European Transgender Network “Transgender Europe” (TGEU) has expressed its support for the Stop Trans Pathologization – 2012 (STP – 2012) campaign, which has a pretty self explanatory mission of advocating for the depathologization of trans identities and removing Gender Identity Disorder (GID) from the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM and the World Health Organization’s CIE. A revised version of the DSM is due in 2012 and a revised version of the CIE is due in 2014.

TGEU recently released a statement calling upon their member organizations and allies worldwide to join the campaign and organize in their regions. The main demand of the STP – 2012 campaign that TGEU is endorsing as well is to remove GID from international diagnostic manuals. TGEU also has these additional demands:

- The creation of an alternative non-pathologizing category in the ICD 11, recognizing that our gender identities are not mental health disorders while still enabling hormonal and surgical medical assistance to be provided for those trans-people who seek such assistance.

- The funding of hormonal and surgical medical assistance for trans people by national health insurance.

- The creation of processes for changing legal name and gender without compulsory treatment or any form of diagnosis.

October 17, 2009 is the established date for demonstrations in cities worldwide this year, so save that date! TGEU is collecting information about planned demonstrations in cities and so far, over 80 trans organizations and allies from over 40 cities in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe have expressed their support and solidarity, and/or confirmed their participation. Hopefully that number will just soar in the next couple weeks.

If you would like to confirm the support and/or participation of your group, email research@tgeu.org with the subject JOIN STP 2012 before September 5th. Be sure to include your group/organization’s name, logo if there is one, country, city, and the message: We want to join the campaign “Stop Trans Pathologization – 2012″.

Weekend Reads

22 08 2009

Dana Goldstein on the need for a public health insurance plan to provide reproductive health coverage.  Over at The Nation, Sharon Lerner has more on why women need health care reform.

An interesting photo essay that questions and explores what it means to be masculine.  It’s accompanied with an interview with the photographer, Chad States.  The subjects of some of the photos include trans men.

The children’s books industry is a very much white run industry and often children’s books are embedded, subtly and not-so-subtly, with racist undertones.  Read this post on Racism Review about children’s books are very much white-framed and whitewashed.

Here are some thoughts on 18-year old South African runner Caster Semenya whose female-ness was being questioned because she doesn’t conform to traditional western standards of femininity.  Bird of Paradox has more.

Michelle Obama should be allowed to wear shorts without coming under such scrutiny by the media and the public, especially while vacationing at the Grand Canyon.

Being careful with language is very important, especially since language is used to normalize.  There has been much discussion online about language and privilege.  Deeply Problematic takes on being blinded by privilege in these two posts: “Blinded by Privilege”: ableist language in critical discourse and For the Uninformed: Privilege, Perspective and The Little Things That Jab.  Hoyden About Town also has a post on unexamined privileges and unconscious behaviors.

Here is a long but interesting article that contextualizes the use of rape as a weapon of war.  Author Crystal Feimster, a historian at the University of North Carolina, claims that rape was used as a weapon of war way back in the Civil War, which is a new contention.

This one’s more of an uplifting story about a woman in a small West Virginian town, Maria Gunnoe, who took on the coal industry and was victorious.  She was a great community organizer who took action against the coal tycoons and despite threats, harassment and violence, she is not giving up the fight.

This article is an EPIC FAIL

4 08 2009

The Los Angeles Times had an article out on July 27th in their Health section titled, Tough love for fat people: Tax their food to pay for health care.  I kid you not, that is what the actual article is called.

Tax their food?  Because fat people just gorge themselves off junk food all day.  You know, chips, cookies, ice cream, soda.  So taxing “fat people food” would mean taxing junk food, assuming that only fat people eat junk food (that’s why they’re so fat, duh).  Not a sound assumption because being thin does not necessarily equal being healthy.  And being fat does not necessarily equal being unhealthy.

Also, what is this fat tax supposed to do?  Taxing and increasing the price of cigarettes has done little to make people quit smoking.  Is the logic something like, if fat people have to pay more to eat their fatty foods they’ll stop buying it, therefore stop eating it and magically become skinny?

The article stupidly tries to argue that fat people are putting an immense strain on the health care system, so if we tax their food then they’ll stop dragging the rest of us down along with them.  It also demonizes and further shames fat people – yes, there are some fat people who eat a lot of junk food, but there are also lots of skinny people who eat a lot of junk food but don’t get fat.  And there are also a lot of fat people who exercise regularly and eat healthy yet do not lose weight.

So fat = unhealthy, unmoral and disordered is not necessarily true. A significant amount of the dialogue around fat and obesity is very fat-shaming.  And saying that the health care system is strained because of all these fatties pits fat people against thin people, which is ridiculous and not at all a constructive way to discuss the health care system.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health publishes results of a survey on the health of the state’s LGBT community

2 08 2009

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently published the results of “the largest survey to date comparing the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents to heterosexual and non-transgender residents in Massachusetts”.

The Executive Summary highlights the following findings:

  • Among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, the health of bisexual and transgender people is somewhat worse than their heterosexual and nontransgender counterparts, respectively.
  • The health of lesbian, gay, people is comparable to that of heterosexual respondents. However, lesbians were less likely to have routine pap tests compared with their heterosexual female counterparts.
  • Transgender persons had worse outcomes with respect to self‐reported health, disability status, depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, and lifetime violence victimization.
  • Bisexual respondents how worse outcomes with respect to self‐reported health, disability status, suicide ideation, as well as lower rates of mammography for bisexual women compared with their heterosexual female counterparts.
  • Legally married same‐sex couples were more likely to obtain health insurance through their spouse’s employer than non‐legally same sex couples.

While the findings of this survey are not too surprising, they are still significant.  As Bird of Paradox writes:

To my mind, what’s missing from a lot of these data is the “why” aspect: why are trans people less likely to have access to a doctor than gay and lesbian people, why do we feel depressed more often than cis people, why do we feel suicidal more often, why are we more likely to report being threatened with physical violence by an intimate partner than cis people, and so on. Of course, those reasons will undoubtedly vary widely between individuals, but it would have been interesting to know if any patterns had emerged, and if there were any differences between trans and cis populations.

Overall, I think the report is to be welcomed, cautiously – but I also hope that a more rigorous (and bigger) survey can be carried out in the near future. If nothing else, it suggests that the problems we face in our everyday lives are in urgent need, not only of study, but positive and supportive action by the mainstream cis society which oppresses us in so many ways. However, I also think that for there to be any real improvements in our circumstances there first needs to be a substantial change in cis people’s attitudes to us – and that doesn’t look likely to happen any time soon.

Congratulations Regina Benjamin!

14 07 2009

Regina Benjamin

Yesterday President Obama appointed Dr. Regina Benjamin, a family practice physician and the president of the Alabama Medical Association, as the new Surgeon General.  In 1995, Dr. Benjamin became the first black woman and the youngest doctor to be elected to the board of the American Medical Association.  Last year she was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation genius grant for treating patients in the Gulf south despite their inability to pay for health care and services.

Dr. Benjamin stands out because of her commitment to providing preventative health care to underprivileged populations in the rural south.  In 1990 she founded a rural health care clinic in Bayou La Batre, in Alabama, which is a town of with a population of around 2,500.  Many of the residents there lack health insurance and around a third are immigrants from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.  She’s had to rebuild the clinic three times: in 1998 after Hurricane Georges, in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, and in January 2006 after a fire.  While the clinic was being rebuilt she made house calls to patients – that’s true dedication right there.

Although she could’ve made more money working as a doctor elsewhere, in a wealthier community, Dr. Benjamin committed herself to providing a crucial service to people who desperately needed her in her Alabama clinic.  Dr. Benjamin called her nomination a “physician’s dream” and she said, “I want to ensure that no one, no one, falls through the cracks as we improve our health care system.”

Dr. Benjamin is only the third woman to be the nation’s Surgeon General.  Preceding her were Dr. Antonia Novello (1990-93) and Dr. Joycelyn Elders (1993-94).  From 1995-97, Dr. Audrey Manley served as Acting Surgeon General.  Congratulations Dr. Benjamin!

Action Alert from Planned Parenthood

12 07 2009

Via an email I received from Planned Parenthood:

We’ve been deeply concerned that women would be the first targets in health care reform and now it’s happened. Yesterday, anti-choice Senator Orrin Hatch launched an attack on Planned Parenthood and the U.S. senators who were trying to help women.

Earlier this week, Senator Mikulski of Maryland, joined by four other senators, offered an amendment to make sure that preventive care for women — like birth control and cancer screenings — is included in health care legislation. The amendment also made sure women and their families can still see the doctors and nurses they trust.

The amendment passed, and it was a strong victory for women’s health. And now the other side is trying their best to take it away.

Within hours, Senator Hatch and his allies started spreading lies. Their aim: to cut millions of women — and Planned Parenthood — out of health care reform. Their method: to mislead the media and Americans about what the amendment actually does. Instead of telling the truth, he claimed that it mandates abortion coverage in an attempt to drum up opposition. This is an outright lie — and we need your help to fight back.

Senator Hatch and his allies have made themselves clear. They believe that providing trusted and essential health care to millions of Americans is less important than pushing their anti-choice ideology.

They are wrong. Women’s health matters — it matters to me and I know it matters to you. Let’s show him just how wrong he is — take a moment right now to sign a petition to Senator Hatch.

It is truly outrageous. Senator Hatch and his anti-women’s health allies are willing to sacrifice the health care of so many women, men, and families for one reason — to undermine women’s ability to get preventive and primary reproductive health care.

The fact is that without genuine access to care, women’s health is in jeopardy. You and I know that, and that’s why we won’t accept health care reform that cuts out reproductive health care and women’s health providers like Planned Parenthood. Please, sign your name and make sure Senator Hatch gets the message.

This isn’t the first attack on women’s health and Planned Parenthood since the health care reform debate began — and you can bet it won’t be the last. Thank you for standing strong with us today, and please bear with us as we communicate with you frequently on this critical struggle.

Take action now and sign the petition demanding that Senator Hatch stop misleading the public, stop undermining women’s reproductive health and in turn the general health of women and their families.

Monday Catch Up

6 07 2009

Hope everyone had a good Independence Day weekend.  Here are some things we missed:

Four Freedom Movements You Should Know About This Independence Day.

Renee’s take on Sarah Palin‘s public declaration of her intention to resign.  More thoughts on that here, here, here and here.

Racism takes a toll on the health of African Americans living in a predominantly white society.

How Racism Works – people mistakenly de-contextualize racism and perceive it as something that functions in individuals rather than seeing the big picture of how racism is institutionalized and structured in our daily lives in society at large.

A good 101 post on Three Dumb Things About “Reverse Discrimination”.

Thoughts on disability and respectful language.

Arab TV Soaps Reinforce Gender Bias and normalize violence against women.

This is old news, but good news nonetheless – last week, an Indian court decriminalized homosexuality.

There is no such thing as trans privilege.  For necessary 101, here is a great and important post on vocabulary when it comes to gender and cis.

Stop bullying transgender children.

Trigger warning – Sexual Abuse of Female Inmates in Oklahoma.

Carnival Against Sexual Violence has worthy reads you should check out.

Gift giving by stereotypes – an interesting look at the intersection of stereotypes we have about age, class and gender.

Sunscreen’s shady business – a look at the $1 billion a year sunscreen market.

It’s easy to watch a documentary (like Food, Inc.) and be inspired to take action, but often times we may get back into our daily routines and be stunted from any activism or we may simply just not know what to do or how we can help.  So to counter that here’s I Saw Food, Inc.  Now What?

All right, happy reading everybody!

Keep comprehensive women’s health care in reform bill!

2 07 2009

Women deserve and need access to comprehensive health care.  And when it comes to health care reform, it’s important that women and their health, including reproductive health, do not get discounted or sidelined as less of a priority.  But currently the Republican leadership on the Senate Finance Committee is pushing for a provision that will strip away crucial women’s reproductive health services.  Instead of creating a policy that would expand coverage, the language the Committee uses shows that coverage is shrinking.  What can you do?  Sign Planned Parenthood’s petition.  Tell the Senate Finance Committee that this is not acceptable.  We cannot further limit women’s access to comprehensive health care.  We won’t stand for this.

Wednesday Blogaround

24 06 2009

Keeping up with blogging during the summer isn’t an easy task. Here are some great reads on things we’ve missed:

Transgender federal employees will soon be protected from discrimination in the work place.

A piece from The New Yorker about the incompatibility of medicine and the “free market”.

The economic recession affects everyone, so “Don’t call it a ‘he-cession’“.

We can affirm the value of fathers but still support government structures that support diverse family arrangements of all kinds.

The latest on Chris Brown and Rihanna.

Trigger warning – physical assault and violence in the name of casting out the so-called homosexual demons.

Facebook and how it upholds and perpetuates the gender binary.

A very long overdue apology – Senate Apologizes for Slavery.

Check out the first part of a MoJo special on the Hidden Defense Budget.

If you ask the NYTimes, sex selection is culturally Asian.

WTF?!  No!!!  Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault is closing for July.

Can we ever say a woman can’t choose?

A thought when crossing the street

19 06 2009

I work in Boston.  It’s cool.  But you know what’s not cool?  Being a pedestrian in a driver’s intersection.  Either you have to sit and wait for a million years for the “WALK” signal to let you cross, or you have to take your chances and hope any unseen cars will stop as you technically or actually jay-walk.  It’s a sad, sad game.  Of course, this game is played across the nation.  So why am I blogging about it?

Because one of the intersections I have to cross to get to and from work could and should probably be called ableist.

For those of you who follow this blog and are thinking, “What the hell is ableism and why should I care?” ableism is discrimination against people on the basis of disability (as opposed to race, sex, religion, sexuality, gender, class, and so on).  What we thinking of as “disability” includes needing a wheelchair, but it also includes people with chronic illnesses and other issues.  According to my place of work, I’m disabled (but they don’t know it because I’m not required to tell them about my chronic illness, hahahahaha, suckers).

So, how is this particular intersection I’m thinking of an ableist one (or, I should say, the people who are in charge of how the lights and signals are ignorant and ableist in the process)?

Believe it or not, it takes LONGER than the “WALK” signal and subsequent timer to get across the entire intersection to the other side of the street.  And this crosswalk has a ton of pedestrian traffic.  The one time I even came close to crossing all the way in one signal was when I was already starting to cross before the walk signal, and then RAN across the street (I was about to miss a train; wouldn’t you run?).  I still ended up almost getting clipped by a car.

What’s wrong with a signal that’s not long enough, besides we might all die trying to cross when the signal says, “DON’T WALK?”  I’m able-bodied enough when it comes to walking and running.  But that’s because I haven’t recently broken a leg.  I don’t use a wheelchair.  I don’t walk slowly because my knee never recovered from multiple surgeries I’ve had.

I could also say that the intersection designers/signal people are sexist because it is DAMN hard to cross in comfortable shoes, but I would get flattened by a truck if I ever tried to cross in heels.  But eh, I’ll draw the line at ableism for now.

Meanwhile, if anyone has info on how to contact who’s in charge of that signal, please let me know so I can call them and tell them to make the signal longer (if they don’t believe me, I’ll dare them to cross while not powerwalking/running/using a jet-pack).

But it makes me wonder; if this is the first time I’ve encountered an intersection where the signal isn’t long enough for me to cross while power-walking, how many signals aren’t long enough for people to cross while limping?  Walking slowly?  Using a wheelchair?

Friday Blogaround

19 06 2009

Sorry posting has been slow lately, but here are some interesting reads.  Enjoy and happy Friday everyone!

Happy Juneteenth, Peeps!

Trigger Warning: A young trans woman in New York was tortured to death yesterday, via A.E. Brain

New College Alcohol/Assault Stats – What seems to be still missing from the discussion is prevention

This is depressing – UK Officials Assigned to Fight Rape Actually Promote Rape Myths

Racism Review has a round-up of links to stories on Race, Racism and White Supremacy

Fat and Fashionable AND happy? Impossible!

How the Recession Impacts Women: More Women Forced to Reduce Maternity Leave Under Stress of the Economy

Two great pieces from MoJo: Bush Officials Cash In as More Americans Lose Out and Obamanomics: The Good, the Bad, the Weak

I’ve heard a lot about the new movie, The Hangover and how it’s super hilarious and a must-see.  Here’s a more critical review of it, More White Men Behaving Badly: A “Brain-on” Look at The Hangover

Safer Sex PSAs Conflate the Penis with a Firearm (NSFW)

Wealth-Care Reform: Fixing our health-care system will make us more economically secure.  It won’t make us much healthier.

Jessica Valenti on The Virginity Movement, Rebranded

Depression in Action, or Why I’m Still a Radical Feminist Despite it All

A Study in Ableism

Advocate’s (And the Gayosphere’s) Jacked Up Reporting on Black Transwoman’s Marriages

Reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act

16 06 2009

The Child Nutrition Act needs to be reauthorized so that children at public schools across the nation will be fed healthy foods.  EVERY child deserves access to healthy foods, because health should be a right, not a privilege.

“We believe that federally funded nutrition programs should provide all children with the healthy food they deserve. This includes low fat and safe dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. Schools should be soda and junk-food-free zones and serve food that complements and furthers parents’ efforts to feed their children healthfully.”

Please urge Congress to make healthy food a reality at all schools across the country. By signing the petition, you pledge to make healthy food a priority and are asking your representatives to do the same.

Sign the petition now.


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