Monday Blogaround

5 10 2009

Here are some things that popped up on my feminist radar:

What Counts as Real Rape? – More from Gwen on the Roman Polanski case

Concerns About Racism Are “Weird” – The trivialization and dismissal of racism by saying “it’s weird”

US Fence Causes Increase in Border Deaths – Today marks the 15th anniversary of the poorly misguided border strategy known as Operation Gatekeeper

Childbirth at the Global Crossroads – The implications of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology on women in the “developing” world

End the War in Afghanistan – Peter Rothberg’s lists ways you can help end the war in Afghanistan

Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide – ableism has been instituted and normalized in our society, thus marginalizing and erasing certain existences

Woody’s To Face Boycott – The Fairness Campaign is calling for a boycott of Woody’s Tavern at 4 PM Tuesday

My Weight – Stomp out weight bigotry and fatism. As Joy Nash says, “Tell people how much you weigh. It’s just a stinking number.”

Reclaim the Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminism Network – Feminism is not fully functional if it excludes trans people

Activist Modus Operandi: Methods of Communication – a great post from Genderbitch on activism for marginalized groups and tips on how to be an effective activist





October is a big month

5 10 2009

October is:

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast-cancer-awareness-ribbon

LGBTQ History Month

lgbtq1

 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Vigil_logo

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (at Tufts)

stoprape





Guido Westerwelle – soon to be the first openly gay Foreign Minister of Germany

1 10 2009

GuidoWesterwelle

Guido Westerwelle is going to be the first openly gay Foreign Minister of Germany, a position that is basically equivalent to the Secretary of State in the United States.  He heads the minority Free Democrats Party and has a reputation for being an exhibitionist, but what seems to get him the most attention is the fact that he is gay. Why do people care more about a his sexual orientation instead of his politics or policies that he’s committed to?

Some are worried that the prominence of Westerwelle and his partner, Michael Mronz, and the publicity they garner will “undermine the security and support of Germany within the international community”.  Pessimists and pundits claim that leaders of nations with anti-gay laws like Iran will have less than great relations with Germany now with the appointment of Westerwelle.

Why the negativity though?  This is definitely a step forward.  Westerwelle can lead by example.  He has already used his publicity and high profile to encourage LGBTQ youth.  He told a popular magazine geared towards gay people:

I can only tell all young gays and lesbians to not be disheartened, if not everything goes their way. This society is changing for the good in the direction of tolerance and respect … though slower than I would wish.

Well, Congrats Westerwelle and Hurray Germany!





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”





Celebrate same-sex marriage in Vermont with HubbyHubby!

1 09 2009

In celebration of legislation allowing same-sex marriage in Vermont that is effective as of today, Ben and Jerry’s scoop shops in Vermont have renamed their Chubby Hubby ice cream flavor to Hubby Hubby for this whole month:

HubbyHubby

A Ben and Jerry’s wedding truck is to pass through Vermont, handing out free HubbyHubby to the public. Now isn’t that sweet? Says Walt Freese, chief executive officer of Ben & Jerry’s:

At the core of Ben & Jerry’s values we believe that social justice can and should be something that every human being is entitled to. From the very beginning of our 30-year history, we have supported equal rights for all people.

Same-sex marriage licenses are also offered in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa, with legislation passed in Maine (which is facing obstacles) and New Hampshire (where same sex marriage will be legal in January). Similar legislation is pending in New York.





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″.





Caster Semenya to undergo sex determination

29 08 2009

In case you haven’t heard, there has been some serious bullshit going on about Caster Semenya, an 18-year-old world champion runner from South Africa, whose privacy is being invaded beyond belief in a controversy over whether the runner has too many male characteristics to compete as a woman.  On Tuesday, Semenya won the 800-meters race at the track and field world championships, just hours after it was determined by track officials that she would need to undergo sex testing to determine her further eligibility to compete as a woman.  Many people globally are rightfully angered about the public invasion of the young woman’s privacy.

Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, (the organization who ordered the investigation) has admitted that the confidentiality of the investigation was breached, called this “regrettable,” and asked for an inquiry.  However, these words are little comfort to those who are outraged by the implicit sexism, heteronormativity and racism in the investigation.  Controversy and finger-pointing has also arisen over who was the one to raise the question about Semenya’s sex to the I.A.A.F.  It has also been noted that white South Africans seem to be conspicuously absent as Semenya’s supporters.

Leonard Chuene, President of Athletics South Africa, said to The New York Times:   “We are not going to allow Europeans to define and describe our children…The only scientists I believe in are the parents of this child.”

According to a test three years ago, Semenya’s testosterone levels were in the normal range for women, and she was judged to be definitely female.  But regardless of the results, these investigations emphasize how global society continues to denigrate, mock, and intimidate those who do not conform to a rigid binary of gender stereotypes.

The New York Times notes that Semenya has been subjected to harassment about her sex before.  “Boys used to tease her all the time…Sometimes she’d have to beat them up,” said Semenya’s great aunt, Martina Mpati.  Semenya’s high school principal told South African newspaper “The Star” that at some track meets, the other team would demand proof of her sex identity, but after they returned from the toilets, “she would be cleared and the competition would resume.”

But as if physical exams and taunting weren’t enough, her sex has become an item of global attention and speculation, simply because of the way that she looks and speaks.  Semenya should not be subjected to this blatant gender discrimination.  But sadly, Semenya is forced to deal with this discrimination on both a private and public level, and she is being further taunted and humiliated globally because this most recent investigation was made public.

Dave Zirin calls out the “twisted, sexist, racist, and heteronormative” history of track and field in this MSNBC video on the subject.  Check it out.

Zirin also wrote an excellent piece on the subject in which he points out that:

fifty years ago, Olympic official Norman Cox proposed that in the case of black women, “the International Olympic Committee should create a special category of competition for them — the unfairly advantaged ‘hermaphrodites.'”

But it seems that we have remained relatively stagnant on this issue, and it still seems all too often that the athletic success of women (especially non-white women) causes their sex identity or honesty (or both) to be questioned.  The possibility of an endless spectrum of genders, even sexes, seems to be thought of as entirely impossible in a global athletics culture which values only a clear-cut gender binary in which male is the more athletically successful of the two categories.  We must resist this urge to define what is acceptable by these stereotypes of what it means to be male or female, masculine or feminine.  Perhaps only with the erasure of these stereotypes and this rigid gender/sex binary will we be able to stop the further humiliation and degradation of innocent people like Semenya.





Homophobic hate crime in Tel Aviv

2 08 2009

In Tel Aviv Saturday night, a masked gunman burst into the basement of the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association and opened fire on a support group for gay teenagers.  He sprayed the interior with automatic rifle fire, killing 3 people and injuring 11.  Of the 11 injured, 6 are “badly hurt”.  Witnesses have described the scene to the media as a “bloodbath”.

Nitzan Horowitz, an openly gay Knesset lawmaker, said that Saturday night was “without a doubt the biggest ever attack on the Israeli gay community, we are all in shock.”  What is especially saddening and tragic about this violent hate crime is that the targets and the victims were all young people.

For many of them, the basement of the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association was a safe space where they could meet others who were struggling like they were to come to terms with their identity.  It was a safe space for them to retreat from the homophobia they faced in the outside world and find themselves in a community where they were supported.  Unfortunately on Saturday night, their safe space was infiltrated by a violent and bigoted man.

These are human lives that were lost, the lives of young people who were stripped of their opportunities and right to live their lives and pursue their hopes, dreams and desires.  The price of hatred and intolerance is too high.  May those three young people rest in peace.





Exposing heterosexual privilege

2 08 2009

Here is an eye opening video that asks us to imagine a world in which gay is the norm and heterosexuals are considered deviants, others:

This video exposes heterosexual privilege, which is a privilege that many heterosexual people take for granted and are blinded by.  It is also very helpful for allies because despite our empathy and support, we can never truly understand the marginalization that the LGBTQ community routinely experiences.





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.





Andre Edwards trimumphs over transphobic discrimination

2 08 2009

In the UK two months ago transwoman Andre Edwards, 51, was fired from her job as a cab driver because she was wearing nail polish and skirts on the job.  Leyland Taxis, the company that fired her, claimed that colleagues and customers could not deal with her “unorthodox lifestyle” and “bad attitude”.

Edwards then went to Eco Cabs, another cab company, and was hired as a driver because of her high level of experience and competency.  There, her supervisors and colleagues support her and treat her with respect and dignity.

The article reporting this story is problematic, however.  For starters, it places a lot of emphasis on her transition: her pre-transition life, when she knew she wanted to transition, her current operation status, etc.  This is voyeuristic and objectifies transgender individuals by reducing them to their body parts.

The fourth paragraph of the article starts off with, “Andre, who was born a man but now lives as a woman…”  Doing the whole “she was born a man, but now is a woman” or the “he was born a woman, but now is a man” when talking about transgender people reinforces a gender binary and essentialist notions of gender.

Towards the end of the article, the author writes about how Edwards knew that she was “not like other children when she was just 10-years-old”.  This kind of language continues to otherize and marginalize the transgender community.

I find it also problematic how the article frames the story as Edwards getting a “second chance”.  The title is Transgender cabbie gets second chance.  The issue however is not about Edwards getting a “second chance” but rather, her triumphing over transphobia and transphobic discrimination.





Sunday Catch Up

26 07 2009

Here are a few things we missed:

This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like.

A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar…

New laws help domestic violence victims.

Human rights violations in U.K. jail.

Women and the Minimum Wage.

Women don’t ask for nasty voyeurism.

Complimentary.

On Gendered Language.

On the word “transition”.

Perhaps Silverton is Not Completely Accepting of their Trans Mayor.

Banning Cesar Chavez: Whites “Sanitizing” US History Again.

Same crap, different day.

Marketing Asian Women to Anti-feminist Men.

When the Outside Looks Like the Inside.





“Every 3rd day the murder of a trans person is reported”

21 07 2009

Via Questioning Transphobia, TransGender Europe (TGEU) is collaborating with an online multilingual magazine Liminalis on the Trans Murder Monitoring Project. Their preliminary results show that over the past few years, there has been an increase in the number of reported murders of trans people. Since early 2008 the murder of a trans person is reported every third day, on average.

liminalis-map-janjune2009

From a TGEU and Liminalis press release:

Every 3rd day the murder of a trans person is reported:

Trans Murder Monitoring Project reveals more than 200 reported murders of trans persons in the last 1 1/2 years

In April 2009 the international NGO Transgender Europe (TGEU) in cooperation with the multilingual Online-Magazine “Liminalis — A Journal for Sex/Gender Emancipation and Resistance” started a new project, the /Trans Murder Monitoring Project/, which focuses on systematically reporting murdered trans people on a worldwide scale.

The very preliminary results of the first step of this project have revealed a total of 204 cases of reported murders of trans people world wide in the last 1 1/2 years. 121 cases of murdered trans people have been reported in 2008. From January to June 2009 already 83 cases of murdered trans people have been reported.

Furthermore, the preliminary results show an increase in the number of reports of murdered trans people over the last years. Since the beginning of 2008 the murder of a trans person is reported every third day, on average.

The cases have been reported from all six World regions: North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The majority of cases have been reported from Latin America and North America. On these continents the majority of cases have been reported from Brazil (59) and the U.S.A. (16) for 2008 and from Brazil (23), Venezuela (20), and Guatemala (10) for the first six months of 2009. Moreover, the preliminary results show a total of 11 murdered trans people reported for Colombia followed by 5 for Honduras and 4 for Mexico and Venezuela for 2008, and 6 for Mexico and 3 for Argentina, and the Dominican Republic for the first six months of 2009.

Read the rest of this entry »





Friday Linky Love

17 07 2009

The Progressive Case Against Sotomayor:

Sonia Sotomayor’s all-but-certain confirmation will be a notable victory for Democrats, and for the cause of diversity on the nation’s highest court. Whether it will be a victory for criminal justice is another question—one that seems to matter little to most of her liberal supporters.

The Rights of Men:

I’ve been half-listening to the Sotomayor hearings all this week, and have been fairly bored—how many times can you listen to a woman answer the same question? But every once in a while someone throws out a real gem, like Senator John Coryn (R-Texas) quoting Martin Luther King Jr. to make an anti-affirmative action point (because that’s exactly what MLK meant when he said he dreamed of a day when his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”)

PFAW on the litany of right wing fringe lies about hate crimes legislation:

People for the American Way has released a document about the tired, hoary, untethered-from-reality pack of lies that the professional anti-gay set keeps spewing about hate crimes legislation, “As Senate Prepares to Take Up Hate Crimes Bill, Far Right’s Inflammatory Claims Should Not Be Taken Seriously.”

Lateisha Green’s Killer Dwight DeLee Convicted of Manslaughter as a Hate Crime:

There is a verdict in the trial of Dwight DeLee for the death of Lateisha Green.  Green was a trans woman who died from gunshot wounds in November; DeLee was originally charged with murder in the second degree as a hate crime.

Just minutes ago, the verdict came back and was announced on Twitter (the AP also has a blurb).  A jury convicted Dwight DeLee of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime.

Real Bras? They’re not for trans women:

On a slightly less surreal, but possibly more absurd note than the trainwreck that is VWHC’s trans exclusionary policy comes this report in the Vancouver (where else?) section of Xtra West (link here).

See, us trans women, we’re so speshul™ that we even get our own speshul™ underwear now.

“Affirmative Action Increases Diversity by Discriminating Against White Men”:

Only some crazy fringe politician that no one ever listens to or pays attention would say something like that right? I guess only Pat Buchanan on MSNBC. See video below if you can stomach it.

The Brazil Files: Bela or Bust Part 1 – On Gender:

I recognize that to say that the preoccupation with being beautiful for women in Brazil boils down to three separate entities is oversimplifying. Gender, class, and race obviously intersect constantly and are difficult to consider beyond their Venn diagram-like existence. Yet for the sake of clarity and hopefully accessibility, I have decided to discuss this topic in three parts: 1) gender, 2) class, and 3) race.

Ratification of Important Women’s Rights Document Sparks Controversy in Cameroun:

Let’s start off with some good news- Cameroun joined 27 other African countries in promoting the health and rights of women when it ratified the Maputo Protocol on May 28th, 2009.  The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, better known as the Maputo Protocol, guarantees the human rights of women throughout the continent.   Adopted by the African Union in 1993, the Protocol calls for the adoption and implementation of national measures that uphold women’s sexual and reproductive rights, political and social equality, and the right to live free from violence and coercion, while providing a comprehensive legal framework for holding African governments accountable for violations.

Eyelid Gluing for a “Western” Look:

I’ve posted in the past about surgical procedures used to give “Asian” eyes a more “Caucasian” or “Western” look. As Alexia R. showed us, though, there are temporary means of getting a similar effect, particularly gluing a fold into eyelids. WonderHowTo posted a video showing the technique:

Is Amitjo Kajla Too Pretty to be a Prison Guard?:

Former prison guard Amitjo revealed to the industrial tribunal in Birmingham that she believes that she was forced out of her job because of her appearance.  She is claiming constructive unfair dismissal. The chief complaints sited against her were the amount of make up that she wore and the alteration of her work uniform.  The work uniform was deemed to be to revealing, while Kajla claims that it was only reduced to be size appropriate.





Transphobia in Casino Rama in Ontario

15 07 2009

Back on March 27, 2008, Carol Ann Kotsopoulos, a 38 year old transwoman from Meaford, Ontario, was escorted out of a ladies’ bathroom in Casino Rama in Orillia by a female security guard. Kotsopoulos was in the bathroom, taking care of business of in a closed stall, when a female security guard yelled at her, “Are you a woman or a man?”

Kotsopoulos responded in a joking way, “I’m a transgendered woman, do you want to look?”

The security guard told her, “You cannot use this washroom, you’ll have to use the unisex washroom” although Kotsopoulos said, “There is no unisex washroom that I have ever seen there.”

The guard then escorted her to a public area where she was surrounded by four other guards. Apparently the first guard was called over to the bathroom because another patron had complained.

Kotsopoulos was humiliated, shocked and traumatized, and she filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that is pending mediation with Casino Rama and an adjudicator, which will likely occur in the fall.

This is deeply disturbing and bears witness to the rampant transphobia that still persists throughout the world. First of all, what kind of question is “Are you a woman or a man?” And who the heck thinks it’s okay to yell that at someone while they are peeing? That is plain rude, insulting and degrading.

Besides, was it really necessary to have five guards? Isn’t that a bit much? All she was doing was minding her business in the bathroom, not wielding a large knife or pointing a gun at anyone. Sigh, these guards need something better to do with their time.

Says Monica over at TransGriot:

The casino is not only owned by First Nations peeps, it sits on reserve land. You would think the last place a transperson would face such disrespect is in a First Nations owned casino due to the concept of two spirit people that is part of First nations culture.

The casino is managed by a US based company called Penn National Gaming in Wyomissing, PA. The Casino Rama is also the largest First Nations owned commercial casino in Canada and the only one in Ontario.

I understand where Monica is coming from, but at the same time First Nations culture is not a homogeneous and monolithic group so it might be unfair to lump them all together. She continues:

Would Ms. Kotsopoulos gotten that type of disrespectful and humiliating treatment from the Casino Rama security staff if she was a high roller dropping big money instead of the smaller amounts she could afford based on her small monthly disability pension?

So clearly this is not only a trans issue, but it is also a class and physical ability issue. Like we’ve said before, oppressions are all interconnected and they function together to maintain the status quo, and this is just one more testament.

Let’s hope that Kotsopoulos’ case proceeds well in the fall.








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