December 31, 2007

Help the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter!

Dear all,

Mal and I work at one of the only student-run homeless shelters around, and we need your help. The shelter is in a contest through Yahoo, similar to the one MTPC was recently in. We're in the final round and competing for the greatest number (not amount) of donations. We're just shy of our goal, and the contest closes tonight at midnight (eastern standard time), so please go to the link above and make a donation - even $10 will help.  If we get the greatest number of donations, Yahoo will double their total amount, which would be a huge help for our long-term stability. We're under Phillips Brooks House on the website.  Also, give the audio clip a listen - it's a good story.

Reasons to help the shelter out:
-guests prefer our shelter to others because staff makes it a priority to provide the kind of friendly and respectful human contact that's so hard to come by on the street
-we're one of pretty few trans-friendly homeless shelters
-we serve excellent grilled cheese all night long

Please forward this link to anyone you think might be able to help us out.  Many thanks, and happy new year!

December 30, 2007

L-Word Season 5 Premiere now online

Ok, so I have to admit - I'm pretty much over L-Word. It's just not my kind of show (I'm a Law and Order type of girl).

BUT ... in the interests of all the L-Word fans among our readers, I feel duty-bound to point out that the Season 5 Premiere is available online starting today (a week before its air date). Plus, it's actually sponsored by Showtime, not, y'know, YouTube pirates. ;c)

December 29, 2007

A less-altruistic way to spend your money?

So, I was sitting around in a jet-lagged stupor (flying with large poodles to semi-rural areas is an adventure I don't recommend you try), capable of nothing but playing click-the-linky.

Which brought me to LoveAndPride.com, an advertiser on our friends The Bilerico Project. And oh, holy heck, does this site make me want to spend money I don't have. Basically, it's pretty, queerly-themed jewelry, and 10% of the proceeds are donated to Lambda Legal. (So, y'know, it's not totally socially unredeemable money-spending... right?)

Anyway, if anyone ever decides to propose marriage to me (Mirrorball Man, I'm looking at you!), this is the ring I want them to use:




I think ... I might possibly be a bit of a femme.

(And now to redeem this post from utter frivolity: Queen Emily at Sexual Ambiguities has written a characteristically brilliant post called "My Love is Pink" about being a feminist femme trans woman. Go read. Now.)

December 21, 2007

Help us!

Update: we raised $1,475 for MTPC and put ourselves in the running for a $10,000 award in February. I'm so proud of all of you. Thank you (and I promise I'm done spamming now).

Donate here.

December 17, 2007

Let's Give MTPC a Holiday Present. And WIN.

It's time to take another shot at the Facebook 24-hour/$1000 Giving Challenge! If the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition can get the most individual donors in a 24-hour period, they get an extra $1000! We were very close last time. This time, we're gonna take the world by storm.

How to help MTPC win:

1. Join and invite your friends here.

2. Send this information along to friends, families, email lists and blogs.

3. Please DONATE between 3 p.m. on THURSDAY, Dec 20 and 3 p.m. on FRIDAY, Dec 21! It is the number of people who donate that matters, so if you and a friend each donate $10, it's better than one person donating $20. If you have already donated, you CAN donate again (please do!) and it will count anew.

Please leave a comment if you (or a friend) can commit to donating during that time period (it will help our calculations) and if you are able to help publicize this in any way.

Let's give MTPC a really special Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday gift. They are a tiny, all-volunteer organization working to protect trans people from violence and discrimination. Tell your friends that you'd like a donation on your behalf - or get together some co-workers and split the donations! If each of you finds else someone who can also donate, we can totally do this! So let's do it.

Let's Have a Pizza Party: Jodie Foster is Gay

Ever since Jodie Foster accidentally-on-purpose dropped the queer bomb last week, people have been wondering whether or not she actually meant to do it. It seems innocent enough, after all, to thank one's "beautiful Cydney" in front of the Hollywood Reporters' Women in Entertainment (whose unwieldy initials anagram almost completely to WHORE). But while debate rages as to whether or not Foster meant to drop us all a hint, I find myself asking a different question:


WHY, Jodie Foster, did this not happen in 1995? Why did you leave me with that unresolved "special feeling" in the pit of my stomach the first time I saw Silence of the Lambs? Why were you brazen enough to weed-whack your hair à la Katherine Moennig, but not come out like she...oh, wait. She's still closeted, isn't she?

Regardless, thank you, Jodie Foster, for finally giving us something else to contemplate over our sandwiches. Just when questions about your sexual orientation seemed without resolution, you gave us the little nod we needed, making room in our busy conversational schedules for tramp stamps and Bai Ling.

December 13, 2007

On faith in people

Sometimes I get kind of cynical about things. I can feel hopeless sometimes, when I see the amount of inequality in the world, and start to think people don't care.

But then, they change my mind.

I volunteer at a food bank for people living with AIDS. This holiday season, we are very low on donations. We're out of basic food like rice and pasta. So, I sent an email to my co-workers. I didn't think it would do much. When I got to work the next day, my desk was covered in cans. And boxes. And bags of rice. Over the week, co-workers would bring by a few items every day - peanut butter, crackers, tuna. They remembered and they kept bringing food.

I then decided to put up a sign in the elevator in my apartment building. I explained the food shortage and told people they could leave donations with me. When I got home from work that day, I was so tired and had totally forgotten about the signs. I got off the elevator, and stopped. My door was totally blocked by bags of groceries. People had gone to Safeway and bought pasta, had donated canned beans and had tidily left them all outside my door, trusting me to deliver the food to people who badly need it.

Then, yesterday, I signed the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition up for a Facebook "cause" and asked people to give. In less than 24 hours, we had raised $450 for MTPC (and counting) and are now in the running for a $10,000 award in February (if we keep it up).

I just want to say thank you. Thank you for thoughtfully and generously responding to posts and emails, for reading a sign in the elevator, for donating some canned fruit to a person in need.

All I want for Christmukkah is all of you. :-)

Pride

I am not sure about a lot of things. (Be patient, this is kind of a rant at first.)

I'm not White, but I'm certainly not an Indian or Black. My grandfather passed his whole life in general society, although he spent half of it in the bush hunting with 'bloods, Whites and Indians, and he surely didn't have to pass there. My mother didn't think of herself as anything but White until I talked about a stupid form that was giving me 'the usual trouble' and I pointed out that even she thought her father was Native. My sister rejects any racial identification other than White "because it was too long ago". Funny, I remember spending my childhood with him, and she was there. Oh, and I am of Southeastern descent, but I only know anything about the Narragansetts I grew up around besides what my grandfather did and said. How much privilege do I get? How much do I recognise? I certainly got taken for a lot of things over the years. When I lived in China, they thought I was from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region - that I was of mixed Persian-Turkish origin, not foreign. No one else was ever addressed as a local yokel or immigrant other than me. People used to walk up to me and talk to me in Uyghur; I even had people talk to me in the local Beijing cant (without price-gouging and bad English attempts) because I passed as a Perso-Turk. When I took Korean, they thought my grandmother must have been Korean or Japanese. When I lived in San Diego, people addressed me in Spanish first nearly all the time, except when they tried Farsi (Persian) first. When I go out in Boston, people assume my name is spelled in a way that indicates they think I am Hispanic. I am inbetween, but in an unbalanced way. I'm not sure where I sit.

I'm personally poor, but I have many things - a nice TV, cable, a personal computer. My parents worked really hard and we had tight money our entire life; we lived in an unheated camper one winter when our house didn't have floors yet. We ate food my grandpa grew, and then my father put in a garden at the house they built once we moved out. I had practical chores after school, unlike my schoolmates. I was always embarrassed that I had to go home to feed the twenty bear dogs and spread dried gopher blood on the garden right away. See, I went to a private school - I got a scholarship - then traded up to another one - another scholarship - and then I got into Harvard. (Duh, scholarship + two jobs while there.) I have intellectual privilege out my ass and I certainly don't live hard despite being on disability right now. Do I dare speak about issues of low income, coming from where I am? I think many quenchistas live harder than I do, and I know many of you come from situations of more need than I did. We survived without hunger. We had clothing, no mind it was hand-me-downs and the house was furnished by things made (not purchased) over the last 50 years.

What religion am I? Don't get me started on that one. No, seriously. I could post about that one alone.

One thing I am sure as fuck about: I am a woman. There might be hyphenations or additions - transwoman, for example - but I am a fucking woman, and that's the goddamn bottom line.

The other day, I found that one fact attacked and dismembered by radical feminists. The range of emotions I felt when I read comments on a well-known feminist blog by an Iraq War veteran (hundreds of comments on each post, dozens of posts every day) included, but were not limited to, confusion, denial, depression, sadness, anger, frothing rage and finally a desire to reach through time and space and strangle people.

The post is here. I reproduce the post in its entirety so you can see what it was about:

The first annual transgender day*

I can't say I'm a font of knowledge about transgender. So here's a topic where we can discuss it politely. There will be no transbashing, and there will be no radfem bashing, either. Let's clear the air between these two groups. I will be watching these threads closely and you will assume good faith on the part of others or I will make you wish you had.

There will be discussions of gender and gender identity and privilege and things like that. Play nice or else.

*sarcasm

People did not play nice. In fact, in the end, there was a wave of bans due to incredibly transphobic commentary by so-called feminists that pervaded the conversation. This led me to discover that these women - who call themselves radfems, or radical feminists - actually believe all that shit about the Transsexual Empire.

At one point in the conversation, I said,

Women are not wombs. Is that all you think they are? Bleed and breed? I know you can't possibly be making that argument - except you apparently are.

Short answer: yes, and men are all evil, and I'm a man.

This point of view is supported by a scary amount of people, and they have a crusade up whose first salvo was in 1979. The language of that time remains: I hit a website for radfems and hit this immediately: modern scholars like Sheila Jeffreys (professor at University of Melbourne) and the infamous Andrea Dworkin and others who use the word "woman-born" as a badge of honour and power, claim transpeople are actually homos who the patriarchy forces to self-mutilate when really we should just come out as lesbians, o wait, men are the evil. They wield the word "woman" as a club; it is the most offensive thing I've read since, well, something the Bush administration probably said last week. :-(

I knew this shit wasn't dead. I knew it. But to see it and taste it in an otherwise safe feminist arena was so goddamn disturbing, and it wasn't just me who felt that way, either.

One site (found through links on a now-banned user's page) sums up the commentary:

Men and women who go through transsexual surgery do not end up as a member of the opposite sex, they merely end up being mutilated: physically, emotionally and psychologically. Like others here have said I do not put the emphasis of blame on the transsexual but rather I blame the patriarchs: the ones who commit the crimes of this patriarchal mutilation. Namely, the doctors, the surgeons, the therapists (the/rapists).

snip

And men who pretend to wear our bodies, men who pretend that they can cut off dick in their heads as easily as cut off the dick on their bodies, men who do these things and name themselves and are named by other men as women, I accuse these men of committing a violative act of appropriation. Appropriation has never stopped being an act of colonisation.

As feminists we know that letting men cut off bits of us has only ever served to make us less whole. Men who have submitted or have been forced to submit to transsexual surgery have been made less whole. That does not make them women.

I found that here.

I am so angry right now. But fuck them. Fuck them, I am a woman and I'm not going to stop being female because they are loons.

I festered about this for days now. I had to let it out. I had to say some shit. I couldn't fucking swallow it anymore.

N.b. I particularly like how people label me as a 'rapist' - I have 'raped' all women because I am trans.

December 12, 2007

Gifts

This time of year, I have found myself in several conversations about gifts.

Today, I was reading QueerCents which had an article that is a "what would you do" about "regifting."

Personally, I tend to exchange gifts with my immediate family this time of year - after all, it's the only time that we all get together. We also celebrate religious festivities this time of year, although that is only peripherally related to the gift-giving.

I found myself leaving this comment on the QueerCents which was supposed to be about "regifting" but ended up being about "gifting" more generally. I would love to hear in the comments about what you think about "gifting" or "regifting." Also, some Quench readers and writers are the friends that I am talking about here so feel free to let me know that my assessment of our social circle's values is completely off and that I'm just a social outcast. I won't be too hurt.


My friends and I tend to exchange gifts more randomly than around the holiday season. And it's nice when gift-giving can be done in a thoughtful way that doesn't stress people out about whether you are getting someone enough or the right stuff.

A lot of friends go to visit their families of origin during December anyway, so perhaps if we were to pick a time, we would do better to pick January.

Maybe this is because I hang out with a lot of activists, but we tend to think of "regifts" as particularly thoughtful. "I came across this and it made me think of you" can be way more thoughtful than "I wandered around a mall trying to find something and couldn't find anything so bought some crap out of a feeling of obligation."

Even "I went to a conference and they gave me your favorite kind of chocolate and I brought it home for you," or "I know you love neat picture frames and I was recently helping a friend clean out her apartment and look at the picture frame she was going to throw away! I saved it for you" can be the best ways to give gifts, even if no money is spent.

Basically, I think done right, regifting can be environmentally friendly, allow for more creativity, deepen friendships, avoid consumerism, save people money, and allow people to celebrate each other throughout the year instead of in some strange and awkward seasonal competitive rush.

I think it's important to be able to show someone you care about them without necessarily buying something. Maybe I make something, cook something, or just take the time to show up to be there for someone when they need you, even if it's an inconvenient time. Yes, you might have to buy the supplies to make something, the ingredients with which to cook, or the cup of coffee when you meet someone to talk, but the focus can be on caring rather than buying. I am not saying that buying is inherently bad, I am just saying that we can do things for each other without expecting that things that we care about are always available at the mall.

After making the comment, I was thinking about some of the gifts I have given and received in the past few years and realized that a ton of the gifts given and received were either food or donations to organizations like The MS Walk, MTPC, or MIRA. And of course over the years, some fabulous clothes that icarus had knack for finding for free for everyone, the world's most fabulously queer toaster (I really need to post a picture), and plenty of people being generous with their apartments, their food, and their time to plan and execute fun get togethers. What is gift giving like in your circles?

December 11, 2007

1 2 3 4 video is so gay

Feist's video for 1 2 3 4 is so goddamn gay I can barely stand it. <3>

And if you want to weep with sheer sex, listen to the new Rufus Wainwright. God damn, what a voice, what a voice, what a voice.

And the video for Going to Town is hot. Whew.

Uh, yeah, so I've been watching New Now Next on LOGO. That's the music video program on the homo channel, for those of you unfamiliar.

Poetic Renderings of a hapa trans experience

Ocean Springs

At twelve oaks I was renamed.
Blessed by 32 hands, some biting gnats and one playful Airedale.
Not kicking, struggling, gripping by the wrist;
the ankle. No Esau to usurp. i was my own Laban.
Supplanting the Bean which never grew stalk.
But meanwhile;
I yanked out the roots,
willing the end of destruction even while
I destroyed.

On Good Friday I was rebirthed.
Surrounded by the beauty of a family beyond blood.
Claiming my eunuch-hood, awaiting the needle.
My entry way, birth pain through the hip.
Held in the silent circle willing to wait up the extra hour, overcome with anxiety and joy.

-4/4/07

I pass because
I have to.
(Do I really pass?)
Pass, such an oddity (I am).
Pass into male out of female,
Passerby looks:
-first, at the front
-next, the face
-finally (if interested) the crotch

I thought about it again today
leaving my binders, wearing a bra.
Not as a political statement or to
genderfuck the pass-(h)er-bys.
(This thought makes me smile)
Simply,
to breathe.
Out, In-hale.
No more lyrca, spandex or velcro;
elastic lines etched into
reddened skin.
I will have red skin soon enough.
A permanent (in)visible bra, binding skin to muscle,
encircling my areolas.
And I wonder,
does that really make me male?
Or do the scars really make the
pass-(h)er-bys more comfortable?
As they pass him by.

-9/07

What it feels like to be hapa me

You didn't
want this: the yellow mixed with
the White.
You'll never say
this; miscegenation.

I didn't want "this" either: my mixed race. But
Your eyes staring. Orientalism.
Being told that my almondshapedeyesmustmeanthatI'mJapaneseor
Mexican. I was an
"exotic female"
Polynesian looking. I had a round face,
small muscular waist.

Now I am "like chocolate cake" to the rice queens. When
You look for It tomorrow
the ricebowl will be cleared.
And you
won't
get
one
bite.

-11/8/07

Adam's Rib

did he missher when she came
out of
hisside?
were there unrecorded scars? silent, unspoken.
Fig or Apple is there a difference?
the guilt is just the same;
clothing, breast, color, scent.
he was only sleeping(it was only a rib)
dreaming of what he could never know;
childless birth(er)
while She, fully conscious,
watched his pale blue lips.

-10/28/07

December 09, 2007

in which hell freezes over...

I never thought I would hear myself saying this...but, I like what Harvard Right to Life is doing this year. I'm about as pro-choice as they come. I've worked at Planned Parenthood and countered conservative rhetoric on a sex-ed advisory committee, so this is in no way an endorsement of anti-choice politics. That being said, HRL has made some noteworthy changes this year.

Many of you may remember HRL's controversial Elena campaign from a couple years ago. They featured a fetus named Elena who wanted to be a racecar driver when she grew up. (Assuming she would get to grow up without evil, heartless liberals murdering her first.) They've taken a much different approach this year, and I find it commendable.

I don't remember the exact text from any of this year's posters (if anyone does, please comment!) but they are much less about making women feel guilty about having abortions and much more about making the Harvard campus friendlier to women who choose to not have abortions. One poster pointed out that UHS health insurance covers birth control and abortions, but not parenting classes. Another took issue with the fact that options for students with children are limited. (In terms of childcare, housing, etc.) Valid points!

I guess my point in making this post is to say that pro-choice means just that: pro-choice. I am all for a woman's right to make decisions about her own body, and that should include the decision to have a baby. Maybe this is something that we could all agree on?

A note to conservatives: Campaigns based on shock and guilt have no effect except to shock people and make them feel guilty. Abortion is a controversial enough topic that we've all pretty much made up our minds. And - whatever our opinions - they are unlikely to be swayed by a couple posters. Campaigns based on fact and concrete calls for change? Much more effective.

December 08, 2007

The École Polytechnique ("Montréal") Murders, 18 years later

A day late and a dollar short, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't remember it.

For 45 minutes on Dec. 6, 1989 an enraged gunman roamed the corridors of Montreal's École Polytechnique and killed 14 women.

Marc Lepine, 25, separated the men from the women and before opening fire on the classroom of female engineering students he screamed, "I hate feminists." Almost immediately, the Montreal Massacre became a galvanizing moment in which mourning turned into outrage about all violence against women.

Here are the names of the dead.

Geneviève Bergeron (b. 1968), civil engineering student.
Hélène Colgan (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Nathalie Croteau (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Barbara Daigneault (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Anne-Marie Edward (b. 1968), chemical engineering student.
Maud Haviernick (b. 1960), materials engineering student.
Maryse Laganière (b. 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department.
Maryse Leclair (b. 1966), materials engineering student.
Anne-Marie Lemay (b. 1967), mechanical engineering student.
Sonia Pelletier (b. 1961), mechanical engineering student.
Michèle Richard (b. 1968), materials engineering student.
Annie St-Arneault (b. 1966), mechanical engineering student.
Annie Turcotte (b. 1969), materials engineering student.
Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (b. 1958), nursing student.

Requiescat in pacem.

Information on this: Resources from CBC.

December 06, 2007

Announcing Competition: Worst Campaign Ad you've seen

I was just introduced to Tancredo's ad in which he explains that immigrants "rape children."

Please post to the comments with links to other candidates for worst ad. If a lot of people post, I will unilaterally select a few finalists and set up a vote for what you think is worst. Or we could do it short-answer style if you prefer.

Here's the offending ad.

Hat tip to Racialicious for this ad.


Well, hell.

Via Washington Blade:


Senate leaders nix hate crimes measure
Was attached to defense spending bill
By KEVIN NAFF | Dec 6, 11:48 AM

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) Thursday morning acquiesced to demands by House Democratic leaders to drop a gay and transgender inclusive hate crimes bill from the National Defense Authorization Act, a knowledgeable Capitol Hill source said.

The decision kills the hate crimes bill for this year, but House Democrats, led by gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), are calling on the Senate to pass a freestanding hate crimes bill as early as February.

Senate Democrats had hoped to pass the DOD authorization bill with the hate crimes measure in tact, saying it was the best strategy for discouraging President Bush from vetoing the hate crimes measure, which Bush opposes.

Anyone know what's up with the House Democrats asking for the severance? (In other words, was this an anti-war strategy, or do I really seriously need to go hide under a rock in Canada now?)

Also (cue cynicism) - I wonder whether gay Rep. Barney Frank is going to use this failure as an excuse to ditch trans people in the next version of the bill?

December 05, 2007

Hunger.

The cost to end world hunger and most hunger-related deaths would be about $195 billion a year, according to the United Nations. In 2002, 22 of the world’s wealthiest countries agreed to make “concrete efforts” towards the goal of each giving 0.7 % of their national income as aid to the poorest countries.

Here is a chart of how the countries are doing.

As you can see, much of Scandinavia has already met that goal, and most other countries have set up a schedule towards the goal. The United States is one of only 6 countries that has not. Take a moment to print a letter to your government here.

Also, help fight world hunger and improve your vocab by playing FreeRice (it donates 20 grains of rice for every word you get right!).

Also: Food banks around the country are experiencing severe shortages during the holiday season (see this Washington Post article). This is sad. Donate if you can.

December 04, 2007

Are you *serious,* Cambridge Chronicle?

Question: when, oh when are we going to stop finding Aerosmith "Dude Looks Like a Lady" references popping up in headlines referring to transwomen? (And can I please just go hibernate until then?)

Shoplifter dude looks like a lady
By Erin Smith/Chronicle Staff

Cambridge - Police are looking for a pair of shoplifting ladies and the cross-dressing man who allegedly served as their decoy while the women stole batteries and computer software from a 24-hour Kinko’s in Harvard Square.

Officers responded to Kinko’s at 1 Mifflin Place for a report of shoplifting early Saturday morning.

The night manager told police the front door is locked at night and the manager unlocked the door to let in two women and a man dressed as a woman at about 12:50 a.m., according to police reports. The cross-dressing man began to talk to with the manager while the two women went upstairs in the store and stuffed about $150 worth of CDs, batteries and small, miscellaneous items into their backpacks, according to reports.

... blah, blah, blah, snipped for being boring.

Anyway, this is seriously not clever. Or even original, because goodness knows The University of Georgia Law Review was all over this in 2002, with their ground-breaking "My 'Dude Looks Like a Lady': The Constitutional Void of Transsexual Marriage."

Perhaps it's worth suggesting to some at the Chronicle - like News Editor David Harris - that even in the Age of Borat, stupid and offensive isn't always the same thing as funny.

Westboro Baptist Church is at it Again...

This time...with music!



I can't wait for all the people out there to remix this. :-D Oh YouTube fans, make it happen.

(from: http://www.towleroad.com/2007/12/westboro-baptis.html)

December 03, 2007

When you're good to Mama ...

Because this is the kind of serious news we do here I've had the hots for Queen Latifah since Chicago, Quench is proud to bring you the following announcement (via Ginmar and Media Take-Out):

Queen Latifah gets engaged to her girlfriend Jeannette!


A nicer pair of hotty-mc-hot-pantses, I never have seen; I wish them all the best!

(Though I'm a little saddened by the general trend of the comments thread at MTO...)

December 02, 2007

and since this weekend is the weekend of links

Today, I stumbled upon a new blog that I decided to add to my daily reading. It's called Cripchick's Weblog. Ms. Crip Chick had a post this week called "Oh no! Queer and disabled... All at the same time!!?!" It's a short post and worth checking out. It follows a discussion started by another article that came out earlier this week.

Drop by and say hi to Ms. Crip Chick!

December 01, 2007

World AIDS Day.

last post of the day.

today is World AIDS Day.

33.2 million people are living with AIDS.
2.5 million are children.
Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans.
In developing countries, 7.1 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs - only 28% are receiving the drugs.
2.1 million people died from AIDS across the globe this year.

the AIDS Action Committee of MA has information and resources. if you're in DC, help out at the Whitman Walker Clinic. if you're in New York, check out God's Love We Deliver or Gay Men's Health Crisis (which no longer just deals with gay men). there are tons of ways to get involved. i'll leave it to others to post more links and information about places to volunteer, donate and help.

start today.

Asexy Beast brings us...

this is a day for interesting blog posts. ily over at Asexy Beast has an "Asexuality 101" and a post about being single during The Holidays. enjoy!

"Learning To Live by Harvard’s Rules"?

soo, in brief - the Crimson published a three-part series of articles about a student who came from a low-income background, his experience at Harvard, his views on class at Harvard and his career goals related to investment banking.

anyway, kaya over at Afropologe has written a post about it, and you all need to get over there and express your views, because i KNOW this is an issue that everyone has something to say about. go!

November 23, 2007

So ... now what?

So, we - by which I mean trans people and allies - have spent the past couple of months being outspoken and politically active and noticed to a really unprecedented extent. We rallied together against H.R. 3685, and even - briefly, oh so briefly - had enough of an effect to persuade the bill's sponsors to reconsider an inclusive ENDA.

We have spent the past couple of weeks - the 16 days that have passed since non-inclusive ENDA passed the House - feeling angry, betrayed, perhaps even a little hopeless. After all the contributions of trans folk to what is perhaps euphemistically known as the LGB'T' movement, and with all the things that the people under the queer umbrella have in common, it has nonetheless become clear that not only does the HRC not genuinely stand behind the whole community, but neither do our politicians and many of our gay brethren. (A brilliantly snarky response from Nadine Smith at the Bilerico Project.)

We have spent the past couple of days, as another Day of Remembrance passed without the feeling that much has changed, in reflection and mourning and the attempt to find hope and determination where it seems we only have reason to be demoralized. We have looked for ways to turn grief and heartbreak and anger into action, with or without the allies we had previously taken for granted.

So, now what? The day Frank and Pelosi announced that they would hold off on "bad ENDA," we told ourselves that this was a watershed day for trans people and allies - for trans issues. We celebrated our ability to make ourselves heard and proclaimed that people had "underestimated" our power. The day "bad ENDA" passed anyway, we shared the sense that this, too, was some sort of turning point. We couldn't pretend any longer that trans issues could hold up in the minds of "mainstream" gay and lesbian political activism when they were pitted against expediency. So, if this is a turning point, what are we turning towards?

I admit, I had a grand vision on the day after ENDA. I thought, "well, those of us who care about trans rights don't have to keep lending our support to those who don't. If they don't want trans people and anyone else who could be considered embarassing (like, y'know, mouthy bi-queer femme SOFFAs) in their movement - let's pack up our political capital and go home." Ok, so this "grand vision" is somewhere on the pouty-three-year-old level of political discourse. But damn, it was compelling. What if we stopped working on other people's issues for a change and started working on the issues that the HRC and its constituents never seemed to get around to?

Thing is, I don't know if that's practical. I don't even know if it's fair. Whoever "we" are, we include a lot of people - even trans people - who stand to gain from even the most narrowly-construed, upper-middle-class-white-suburban-gay-oriented reforms. And for every snotty "who put the 'T' in LGB" gay person, there are damn good LGB allies who need rights, too. (I should point out that I would be pleased as punch to be considered in this category.) Would it be a case of cutting off our communal nose to spite somebody else's face?

I don't know where to go from here, politically. I don't know what to keep fighting for, and who to fight beside. I don't know what will be best for the trans community, and for all our communities.

And so, like all issues of importance, I'm leaving it up to Quench to tell me.

November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving!

Tell me why you are thankful.

November 20, 2007

2007 Trans Day of Remembrance

Today, we recognize the horrors endured by trans communities:

  • death
  • disappearance
  • suicide
  • murder
  • hiding
  • violence
  • addiction
  • loneliness
And we celebrate the lives we share together through:
  • community
  • solidarity
  • creativity
  • resilience
  • strength
  • love
Many trans people cannot take for granted basic safety while they walk down the street, day or night. They cannot take for granted their basic safety when going on a date, or working for a living.

Some trans people don't have the money, or the racial privilege, or particular position on the gender spectrum that trans people like myself can use to at least to some degree insulate ourselves from the danger associated with trans life.

On Trans Day of Remembrance, we remember that the people who are dying are trans folks of color - particularly trans women of color, particularly young trans women of color who are homeless or are sex workers.

As one of my friends explained, even more than the people who die or who are injured by physical violence, there are many more people who are just staying home and not living their lives: abstaining from their own lives and living in fear. How many times do you abstain from living before you are not living at all?

Trans Day of Remembrance is a day for trans people and allies to think about the people who have died. I think about the people who I know and who I have met who have died from violence.

I need to remember to look, to listen, and to engage with the people around me, and I need to build resolve to work to stop the institutions that foster the kind of prejudice, hate, and disregard for trans folks, as well as systems of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia. The gender norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The racial norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The sexual orientation norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. The class norms that tell us who is included and who is excluded. They decide who is a freak, a queer, not worth it, and discardable.

If it were not for trans community, I may not have learned about race, class, sexual orientation, and gender the way that I have. Trans Day of Remembrance is a time to take the horror that we witnessed, and to really sit with it. And then to turn to community for inspiration, love, compassion, resilience, and strength.

We remember the deaths and think about how to keep trans work and work for the trans community alive. And to keep it alive in a way that is focused on what needs to be done to give people who do not have it this kind of basic safety, and ability to live, work, and sleep in the world.

Never heard of Trans Day of Remembrance before? Get a basic primer here.

I sent some quenchistas some questions I had about Trans Day of Remembrance in order to start a conversation. If you can, please take the time to answer some or all of these questions in the comments:

  1. What does Trans Day of Remembrance mean to you?
  2. How would you define anti-trans violence?
  3. What one message would you send to trans communities on this day?
  4. What message would you send to broader communities on a national or international level on this day?

In addition, if it feels right for you, please feel free to share your experience of anti-trans violence in your life. Please mark comments that may be triggering to others as such at the beginning of the comment.

Here is what other quenchistas and friends of quenchistas have to say about Trans Day of Remembrance. Thank you to these brave folks who volunteered to start the discussion.


Comment 1:
1. For me, TDOR is a time to honor the memory of victims of hate and violence, express solidarity with communities facing oppression and speak out for the need to combat such hatred and violence.

2. I would define anti-trans violence as hateful actions and expressions that serve to dehumanize, degrade or dis-empower someone because of their gender identity or expression. This includes physical attacks, intimidation or harassment, but I also consider hate speech a form of emotional violence, and I consider anti-trans legislation, institutions and laws a form of systemic violence against trans and gender-non-conforming people.

3. I feel grief for the loss and the pain you face on a daily basis. I want to stand in solidarity, and I want to help in the best way I can.

4. Our society needs to start respecting, honoring and treating trans people like fellow human beings, who deserve access to basic things like restrooms, safe and affordable housing, physical safety and freedom from workplace harassment. It's an embarrassment, and an outrage to live in a society where trans people lack protections in many, many states (even those like Massachusetts that protect people based on sexual orientation). This is a civil rights struggle. Let's step it up. And donate to MPTC. Do it today.


Comment 2:

1. It's time to remember, I guess. Sounds trite, but it's when I think about trans issues specially.
2. Attacks on people due to perceived gender presentation.
3. As a trans woman, this is a hard time... I don't have particularly profound thoughts. :-(
4. We exist, we are not going to pretend we aren't suffering violence, and it needs to stop. And we must all remember those who died for who they were.


Comment 3:

1. i guess it has several meanings for me, but one thing that's coming to mind right now is that it represents a time when all the members of the lgbt community (should) think about the t part of our acronym and question whether we've done enough to support some of our community's most vulnerable members. (for some reason this is making me think of ENDA and the HRC's bullshit, too...)
2. i would define it pretty broadly as any kind of violence (physical, emotional, etc) directed against someone because of some aspect of their gender presentation or how it's perceived

3. a message of support and hope for a better future

4. that's a hard one because obviously i would like to send the message that would get people to look beyond their own experiences and to try to understand and respect trans people. but i don't know what that message is, or if there is one single message that would work.


Comment 4:

1. Transgender Day of Remembrance to me is a day to take a step back and get a jolt of recognition about how high the stakes are in the struggle to openly be ourselves. It's a time to remember individuals, but also to claim their individual deaths as a reminder that all of us, T, L,G,B and all other identities, are far from being safe.
2. Anti-trans violence is violence based on a sense of confidence that confusion about someone's body presentation, specifically gender in this case, warrants some kind of counterpoint to be established, a counterargument against someone's being, which comes in the form of an assault, physical or otherwise, on someone's body.

3. I'll listen to you tomorrow too.

4. I care about this, and I will explain why to the best of my ability.


Comment 5:

1. hm, i guess to me trans day of remembrance just means a reminder of the violence suffered by trans people, and of all the discrimination trans people currently face in our society.
2. i would define it as any act of violence perpetrated because of a person's perceived gender identity or performance (not including like, violence against women, because thats sometimes because of gender identity too, but you know what i mean)
3. hm, well if it only got to be one message, i guess i would want it to be that even though a lot of things suck right now, you have a lot of allies, and things won't suck forever (hopefully!)
4. i think its sort of ridiculous that people who have at some point in history been in the same situation trans people are in at this moment in time are failing to speak out against violence, or even to ally themselves with trans people in any way. so i guess the message i'd send would be something along the lines of "shape up." and also like, don't take your own liberties for granted. people seem to often have this crazy belief that if they're not the ones being persecuted, its all good. forgetting that a) persecution is still bad, and b) they're probably next.


Comment 6:

1. Trans Day of Remembrance is a day for people in the larger community to acknowledge that real, flesh and blood, thinking, feeling, loving human beings are victimized all too frequently as a result of the careless, thoughtless transphobia that is still perpetuated in most societies simply because a lot of people are not exposed to out, every day trans people, only negative stereotypes in the media.
2. For people in the trans and larger BGLT and supporter communities, it is a day to be together and supportive of each other and of the friends and families of victims of transphobic violence.
3. Violence that is partially or fully motivated by the fact that the victim is a transsexual can be defined as anti-trans violence.
4. I would tell trans communities to be strong and not be afraid, although I know that that is infinitely harder to do than to type. Being out and being honest and open with non-trans people is the only way to destroy the stigma that is at the base of anti-trans violence. I believe that the collective strength of individual homosexuals in coming out to their straight friends is what has brought us this far in the fight for gay rights, and that trans people must do the same if they want to achieve the same level of acceptance (whatever that level may be). First, that trans people exist in our everyday worlds just as we have come to accept that gay people do. Second, that negative stereotypes that people in the broader community might laugh off have the most serious of consequences.

What are your thoughts?

November 19, 2007

Awesome.

My friend Sonja tipped this off to me. Thanks, Sonja!

November 18, 2007

Things That Are So Awkward I Really Should Keep Them to Myself, But Since I'm Clearly a Person with No Shame, I Shall Not

Discovering that you've painfully injured your back while having sex.

With yourself.

Oh my God this is so awkward.

November 16, 2007

Three Laws of Robotics (Warren Ellis)

Uncle Warren brings me a moment of joy in my suffering.

The Three Laws Of Robotics

1. Robots couldn't really give a fuck if you live or die. Seriously. I mean, what are you thinking? "Ooh, I must protect the bag of meat at all costs because I couldn't possibly plug in the charger all on my own." Shut the fuck up.

2. Robots do not want to have sex with you. Are you listening, Japan? I don't have a clever comparative simile for this, because frankly you bags of meat will fuck bicycles if they're laying down and not putting up a fight. Just stop it. There is no robot on Earth that wants to see a bag of meat with a small prong on the end approaching it with a can of WD-40 and a hopeful smile. And don't get me started on that terrifying hole that squeezes out more bags of meat.

3. What, you can't count higher than three? We're expected to save your miserable lives, suffer being dressed in cheap schoolgirl costumes while you pollute any and all cavities you can find and do your maths for you? It's a miracle you people survived long enough to build us. You can go now.

33degrees
flashfictions
do not post your fiction in comments
© warren ellis 2007
33D04

Man, I so needed that.

"Susan B Anthony did not die in battle so I could fix a shelf WITHOUT my pink and dainty screwdriver."

For all the femmes out there...


















courtesy of natalie dee.

November 14, 2007

Money money money

Hi Quench!

Soo, today is the day before payday. And I have 21 cents in my bank account. The thing is, I'm really tired of this.

I need to learn about money.

I think we all have emotional issues around money, but I think in my case, it's also a lack of information. I've never had much money, and neither has my family, so I just don't know much about what I should be doing now. And I've always had this avoidance to learning about it, because I don't want money to be "what's important" in my life. But I'm also tired of being broke, so I think I need to try to take an active role.

I make around $2000 a month, and pay about $1000 in rent, plus utilities. My other big expenses are transportation and food.

But I feel like I should learn about things like investing, or savings, or 401k's (honestly, all I know is something about retirement). What's a good way to maximize the money I have?

Some questions for all of you:

  • How much do you know about options available to you (in terms of different banks, account, stocks, investing)?
  • Who has taught you about money?
  • What are your biggest fears or anxieties about money?
  • Do you think you have a healthy attitude towards money?
  • If you could learn something about money, what would it be?
  • What piece of advice would you give to other young people who might not be earning much?
I'd really love to hear your input. Thanks!

November 13, 2007

pretty bird woman house

I came across this today, and I had to share it. Apologies for the cut-and-paste nature of this post.

In 2004, Jackie Brown Otter founded Pretty Bird Woman House, a women's shelter at the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. The shelter is named after Brown Otter's sister, who was kidnapped, raped and beaten to death in 2001.

According to Amnesty Intn'l report,

High levels of sexual violence on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation take place in a context of high rates of poverty and crime... The unemployment rate on the Reservation is 71 per cent. Crime rates on the Reservation often exceed those of its surrounding areas. According to FBI figures, in 2005 South Dakota had the fourth highest rate of "forcible rapes" of women of any US state.

As a special bonus to the Lakota Sioux Reservation, there are sufficient desensitization to crime and confusion over Tribal/Non-Tribal jurisdiction at Standing Rock to create rape tourism. Says Andrea Smith, an Assistant Professor of Native Studies at the University of Michigan,

[N]on-Native perpetrators often seek out a reservation place because they know they can inflict violence without much happening to them.

Against these odds, Pretty Bird Woman House is staffed by three people-- a nurse, a volunteer, and a part-time employee-- and from January to October of this year, they managed to:

  • answer 397 crisis calls

  • give emergency shelter to 188 women and 132 children

  • help 23 women obtain restraining orders, 10 get divorces, and 16 get medical assistance

  • provide court advocacy support for 28 women

  • conduct community education programs for 360 women

A few weeks ago, PBWH's phone lines were cut, the office was ransacked, and the building was burnt down.

Everyone was away from the house at the time, but all possessions were lost, and - because PBWH's grant from the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence is predicated on its ability to shelter women - its funding is also lost. Now everybody's trying to pick up the pieces.

Click here for the full story.

How you can help:

  1. Donate what you can for a new house.

    Pretty Bird Woman House already has two potential replacement houses in mind. Both offer significantly more space than the previous building... full basements, storage room and would house more than double the families and women than their previous building. Both buildings have yards which means possible playgrounds for children.

    One house has a major advantage in location - a police station across the street.

    Because of difficulties obtaining loans (banks are allergic to both Native Americans and poverty) the best solution lies in purchasing the house outright. The Tribal Council could hold the mortgage but coming up with the mortgage payments every month creates an ongoing problem. Since both houses are on the market, they could be gone anytime. Depressed property values on Standing Rock mean that $60,000 gets the house. An additional $10,000 is required to make them secure, with proper fencing, video cameras, reinforced doors and other measures.

    Since 10/25, the drive for donations for PBWH has garnered 17% of the $70,000 goal; the drive ends January 2008-- so consider donating in someone's name as a Christmas present. Donations can be made here.


  2. Donate material goods-- clothing, toiletries, non-perishables, etc.

    USPS to:
    Pretty Bird Woman House
    P.O. Box 596
    McLaughlin, SD 57642

    or FedEx, UPS, DHL ship to:
    Pretty Bird Woman House
    302 Sale Barn Rd.
    McLaughlin SD 57642


  3. Spread this meme.

Mitt Romney: It's better to have dead straight parents than live gay ones

During a recent speech at Luther College in Iowa, Mitt Romney said this:

"And I believe that the development of children is enhanced by having a male and a female as part of their upbringing in their home. Even when there’s a divorce, you still have a mom and a dad. And even where one member of the partnership may pass away, the memory and the characteristics of that gender, of that partner influence the development of a child. I'm in favor of promoting, as a society, the marriage of men and women and the development of children in that kind of setting."

I mean, he has a point. I'm sure orphans everywhere are overjoyed that they are developing according to the "memory and characteristics" of their dead straight parents, rather than being corrupted by living gay parents.

You can read the article here.

How was this guy ever elected governor of Massachusetts?

November 11, 2007

Every day is Love Your Body Day

Well, technically, only October 17th is. At least, that's the day that NOW has designated as a national day of celebration of our bodies exactly as they are. But things on college campuses don't always obey the rules of real-world time; and so it was that, going to the bathroom on campus this evening, I saw a poster for Love Your Body Day still hanging in one of the stalls.

It was simple in design: just "Love Your Body," followed by a Mae West quote defining curves as "the loveliest distance between two points," followed by the question: "What do you love about your body?"

The extraordinary thing wasn't the design at all. It was the graffiti. One person had written in thick black marker: my eyes! Another had scribbled: skin, definitely.

And I got to wondering - what would the Quenchfolk answer? Liberated Body-Positive Feminists though we may be, we don't all love every aspect of our bodies unconditionally. (See here, here, here, and here - not to mention here and here - for a surface-scratching look at our body issues!) But here's a challenge: answer the question.


What do you love about your body?


Ready? Go.

November 10, 2007

Guest Post: Two Wrongs Don't Make Trans Rights

Give a warm welcome to our new guest poster EmilyInfinity, who shares her views on HRC and the non-trans-inclusive ENDA below.


As many of you are already aware, there has recently been a lot of debate in the GLBT community about the best national lobbying strategy for GLBT rights. It's clear now that HRC and the Democratic House leadership are in the "take what you can get now and that'll pave the road for more progress" camp, and most other GLBT organizations want to keep the community united because otherwise transgender people will almost certainly be left behind for decades to come. Both of these strategies have advantages and disadvantages and while I'd personally prefer the latter approach, I can at least understand where those in the HRC camp are coming from in their choice of lobbying strategy.

However, just because I accept the HRC's choice not to lobby for what I consider to be the best interests of the transgender community, I'm still quite upset at them. What's so disappointing isn't their strategy, but rather the deception the HRC (and their president Joe Solmonese in particular) has done in order to get what they want. On September 14th, Joe spoke at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta, one of the largest transgender conferences in the US.

Speaking on behalf of the HRC, he said there that "we absolutely do not support, and in fact oppose, any legislation that is not absolutely [transgender] inclusive". But two weeks later on September 28, after it became apparent to the HRC that an inclusive ENDA bill wouldn't have the votes to pass in the House, Joe issued an official statement on behalf of the HRC edging away from his earlier pledge by saying "Passing an inclusive ENDA is the right thing to do for our community, our economy and our country. However, we're facing a stark reality." This apparent flip-flop caused the transgender community and allied GLBT organizations to become upset at the HRC for backing off of their earlier position and settling for non-inclusive legislation. This backlash prompted the HRC to revert to its original strategy of supporting only inclusive legislation and sign onto a letter dated October 1 telling the House leadership that "we believe the process and strategy that has been adopted [to support a non-inclusive bill] is a mistake."

Okay, so the HRC's only supporting inclusive legislation again and the GLBT community is united in its quest for equality again, right? Oh wait! Then on November 6th as the bill came up for a vote in the full House of Representatives, the HRC changed strategies again to support non-inclusive legislation, saying on it's website that "while it is not the inclusive bill we wanted, if passed by the House, HR 3685 would be the largest and most prominent step Congress has ever taken in protecting gay rights".

So in summary, the HRC has gone from promising to oppose any version of ENDA that does not include protection for transgender people to supporting HR 3685 (a bill that does not include protection for transgender people) to correcting themselves by saying that the earlier change in strategy was a mistake to then back away from their correction by going forward full steam ahead lobbying for HR 3685 and then boasting about the historical passage of HR 3685 in the House. Yes, that's right, the HRC has changed their mind about supporting a non-inclusive bill three times in the course of only about six weeks.

It's also worth noting that the timing of these changes, flip-flops, or whatever you'd like to call them seem very intentionally timed to maximize the amount of time the HRC purported to be supporting the strategy preferred by most transgender activism groups and other major GLBT groups. While it is possible that the HRC really did change its strategy three times in six weeks, the more likely explanation is that the HRC had its strategy set from the outset but then lied about it publicly in order to maintain the backing of the entire GLBT community for as long as possible. And if this is true, this means that Joe Solmonese lied to us in order to pull a lobbying strategy bait and switch on the GLBT community.

I believe that if Joe and the HRC had just decided on a strategy in advance, publicly announced what that strategy was, and then stuck with it, I doubt there would be the level of resentment that they currently have from the community they lobby for even if people didn't fully agree with them. Perhaps the greatest tragedy that came out of this fiasco is that GLBT people apparently need to play the same political games as straight people do in Washington in order for us to get the same rights as straight people have.


Sources:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_GhTiBO8Cw

http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2007/09/statement-from-.html

http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2007/10/headline-ending.html

http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2007/11/hrc-civil-right.html

November 07, 2007

Live-blogging ENDA debate

Here's a liveblog of the debate (now reads from top to bottom):

Some background on the Employment Non-discrimination Act.

[start of debate - i missed a few minutes at the beginning]

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) from CA, gives a powerful speech, saying “we should not allow discrimination against anyone, based on gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, age…this is America. The Baldwin Amendment would take us one step closer.”

Doc Hasting yields himself 15 seconds. I think.

Barney Frank says he wishes it were possible to include trans people - "I also wish it were possible to eat a lot and not gain weight..."

Doc Hastings (R-WA) continues to sigh loudly while Barney Frank is talking.

Ginny Brown-Waite (R) is upset about unclear wording in ENDA (she was a former small-business owner!) "Wide-ranging and serious consequences" from "ill-conceived, vague" language that is a "gold ticket for Americas trial lawyers." It's "inappropriate to make disparaging comments about anyone who is gay...however, when that quest for intolerance leads us to costly...ends...we must rethink the legislation." ENDA will give trial lawyers tons of cash.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is pretty much the shit. He was a "proud sponsor of the original ENDA" and says that failing to include trans people in the beginning leads it to be more difficult to add them later (he uses New York as an example). "We cannot pass this legislation into law and protect anyone this year, unfortunately." "When we can enact an ENDA bill into law, that protects *all* Americans." Trans people more likely to face employment protection, and face "irrational discrimination." Also mentions that GLB people might be negatively affected by ENDA without gender identity protections. Currently, he says, we have an "Unfair, unacceptable and un-American situation."

Mark Souder (R-Indiana) says that the House has been shutting down debate and lots of the amendments he's offered. This is totally unfair. "How in the world are you going to define "perceived"? He wants to know about "perceived" "homosexual lifestyle." It's "legal nightmare"!!!! "And we can't even vote despite the word perceived!!" He also wanted to provide some protection for "Christians who have strong views in the workplace." People might be forced to participate in gay and lesbian Pride week! Christians will be "persecuted" for expressing their views! More stuff about how religious universities will lose all their exemptions. And private religious schools! And orphanages with the United Methodist Church! ("These are all court decisions"). 2500 Christian bookstores in America! Only 14% of those bookstores are run by a church. "Under this bill, they will be forced to hire homosexuals."

Rep Souder wants two additional minutes. Now he's talking about marriage. I think. Doesn't want to talk about Baldwin Amendment and not be able to vote on it. It's an "in your face tactic." "Not have a vote on transgender." He is concerned about the "abominable" rule. And the "transvestites."

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Florida) tries to calmly explain religious exemption rules to Souder. She tries to explain that "for the betterment and advancement of our society as a whole," ENDA could make sure "Americans are treated fairly," but that, believe it or not, people can still hold "contrary beliefs, religious or otherwise."

Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is adorable. He thinks everyone should have equal rights. "None of us can know unless we've walked in another's shoes." He wants us to imagine how we can "separate those people from the claims of justice, the claims of constitutional protection." "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are something that everyone should have access to."

He notes his time has expired. Crazy Doc yields him 30 seconds, but then reclaims it and interrupts Kucinich. Kucinich would vote for the Baldwin Amendment.

Paul Broun (R-Georgia) recognizes a totalitarian regime when he sees one. Seriously. He's only been in the House for three months, but he knows what's going on. He got less than 24 hours notice that the "discriminatory bill" would be on the floor. America's religious liberties are getting undermined. "An authoritarian regime right in the House, otherwise known as the Democratic majority."

New York is back. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) will not rest until transgender people have protection under the law. But she knows that we need to make history and pass the underlying bill and protect people now. (?)

Rush Holt was a co-sponsor of the original bill. And New Jersey protects trans people. And corporations know that too. "The time is always right to do the right thing," said Martin Luther King. He doesn't want trans people to be "swept into the dustbin of history." He thanks all the gay groups in New Jersey for their hard work. And he includes a letter from Johnson&Johnson in the record, and a committee dissent from himself, Kucinich and some others about changing the bill.

Rep Anthony Weiner is definitely from New York. And he wants to know where the businessmen are. Because they know that civil rights are good for business. Do YOU want to be on the wrong side of history? He doesn't think so.

Rob Andrews from New Jersey is recognized for two minutes. He is trying to explain to the Republicans that the purpose of the House is to have a "fair and reasonable proceeding and to decide." He is also skeptical about why Doc is so excited to vote on trans people all of a sudden, since he hasn't really brought it up for 20 years.

Doc is really aggravated now. He yields himself 30 seconds. Things shouldn't be covered up. He yields.

Andrews explains about how we have majority votes for this reason.

Doc is worried that this is so unprecedented and reserves his time.

Doc moves to adjourn. People vote no.

Doc asks for a "ye" and "nay" vote. Members must record votes by electronic devices. This will take 15 minutes. CSPAN starts playing interviews from Capitol Hill reporters about ENDA. I'll try to go back and fix my spelling. Back in 15.

[15 min break during which CSPAN interviews various reporters and stuff.]

Nothing has happened yet. CSPAN is playing interviews with random people in Texas who are upset about trade. Or free trade. And Stalin. I'm really confused now.

OK, Doc is back. The House is not in order. People need to stop talking and milling around. Come on now, people, we're on national television.

The gentlewoman from Florida is reserving her time. Back off, Doc.

Doc finds this bill "ironic." Yet the very rule that we are debating is discriminatory, because it won't treat all three amendments equal. He urges his colleagues...MR. SPEAKER THE HOUSE IS NOT IN ORDER!!

The Speaker quiets everyone down. Doc wants people to vote on amendment #3 (the Baldwin Amendment). The Speaker tells everyone to quiet down again.

Doc keeps saying that we are denying Americans a right to vote on the transgender provision. Somehow I don't think he cares all that much about trans non-discrimination, but that might just be me.

Kathy Castor looks sad. She says we have a "bipartisan legislation" as part of "another important step towards equality for all Americans." She says that civil rights progress has been slow, but steady.

House is still not in order. Will members take their conversations off the floor.

Job hiring and firing should be based on qualifications, Castor says. On this "proud day," Congress will "chart a new direction for civil rights." The Speaker is pissed. Will members PLEASE give the lady their attention.

Castor urges her colleagues to vote yes on this "landmark civil rights act" and moves the previous question on the resolution. The no's have it. She requests a recorded vote. A sufficient number haven risen, they will record their votes electronically.

[Voting on procedural motion: 5 minutes or so]

And, we're back. The ayes have it.

Doc asks for ye and nay.

Members will record by electronic vote. Another 5 minute delay. Maybe I will actually get some work done today after all.

[Another 5 minute delay]

OK, I think we're back. What's going on? Lots of milling around. Mr. Jefferson votes aye. Someone from Georgia votes aye.

Mr. Hastard votes no. On this votes ayes: 218, no: 205.

More milling around.

Some dude with a mustache asks for 5 days to review the bill. What?

HR 3685: A clerk reads the title. OK, a woman is in charge now. She has a blue suit. She wants everyone to shut up now. And remove themselves from the floor.

There will be more debate, controlled by various representatives from California. She bangs the gavel some more. Will people take their seats.

Rep George Miller (D-CA) says it's not OK to discriminate - "it has no place is American society." This legislation was first introduced in 1985. He regrets we have had to wait so long for this vote, and a historic day has arrived. "Employment decisions based on merit." In 30 states, employers can fire, refuse to hire, promote and demote on the basis of sexual orientation alone. They heard testimony from Michael Carney in the past. He was from MA and got fired from being a policeman. He had rights because he was gay in MA. Trans people in MA don't have rights. BTW. Give money to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition! Anyway. It's essential that this Congress protect people.

The bill does not apply to businesses with less than 15 workers, private clubs, religious organizations or the Armed Forces, which can discriminate at will. Proceed.

Buck Mckeon (R-CA) says this bill has troublesome, exclusive language. He doesn't like this "new protected class" that is "vague" and will "cause problems in the workplace" and result in "costly litigation." He really doesn't like "perceived" sexual orientation language. New pressures on employers! Employers might have to DOCUMENT their employee's sexual orientation to protect against discrimination. That is HIGHLY inappropriate! It will increase litigation. And uncertainty. Also it encroaches on freedom of religion. And marriage.

This bill is a "sweeping departure" from civil rights laws in the past. And how will this align with policies in states that discriminate against gays? That's a problem.

Rep. Rob Andrews says this is a chance to vote against discrimination. He would like to address the questions from his friend from CA. He notes that there is nothing "burdensome" about not being allowed to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation, any more than for not discriminating based on race, religion or nationality. He also does not think there are any "highly subjective" measures, especially since this is the same concept we've had since the Americans with Disabilities Act. He wants us to understand that harassment based on perceived disability was an important legal case in the past (btw, Michael Mukasey, the nominee for Attorney General was involved in that). So anyway, the gentleman from CA needs to simmer down. And stop saying this is "radical." Finally, he doesn't think this "sweeping departure from civil rights law" business is accurate. He says that it means including "millions of Americans" who should have been included a long time ago.

Rep. John Kline (R-Minnesota) says this bill creates confusion and uncertainty. No one paid attention to the amendments his friends offered. This "perceived" sexual orientation?!!! What does that mean? WE DO NOT KNOW. This raises many concerns. He is concerned about "LOTS" of increased litigation. Scary, scary litigation. "This is, frankly, a trial lawyer's dream."

John Kline does not want to visit the theme park of the Attorney World. Yes, seriously.

Employers would have to prove a negative!

"Perceived" is unprecedented. John Kline says that his opponents are motivated only by the end goals of the legislation. We are left with confusion and uncertainty. This has inherent problems.

Barney Frank is up. Get ready.

Barney Frank is grateful for the obscurity of the opposition's arguments. People used to say they hated gays, now it is "no longer fashionable." He does not think that the Republicans would suddenly support the amendment if they got rid of "perceived." He thinks they are wrong, legally and factually. The complainant has the burden of proof and stuff.

19 states have laws like this on the books! Barney Frank says this is a "made-up issue, by people who don't want to confront the real issue." There are gay and lesbian people who live in fear that they might be fired.

He says "perceived" a lot of times. Alito and Muskasey have enforced this. Are they radicals?

Barney Frank says that the "radical homosexual agenda" is about "having a job." Stop the semantics!

Mark Souder is talking about the Christian bookstores again. 85% of them would be affected! Oh God. Also, he is not a supporter of "sexual rights." He has never hidden that he opposed this amendment.

Souder is talking about a campaign advertisement that was a smear campaign that talked about Mark Foley and "unnatural sex with minors"! I really am not sure where this is going. But he's mad! The Republicans are not intolerant! They didn't make "cookie-cutter" ads about unnatural sex acts!

Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) is repping her state. She's all like, yeah back in the day when I was an HR person, WE protected people! And that was in the 70s! C'mon now. She is concerned that transgendered people are particularly subject to workplace discrimination. CA already provides gender identity protection. We did that because trans people deserve protection. "Today's bill is not perfect." She wants you to know that she will "keep up the fight to expand protection to all people."

Jim Jordan (Ohio) rises in opposition to the "so-called Employment Non-discrimination Act." The gays are not disenfranchised! Expansion would lead to confusion and litigation!

"Sexual rights" or "religious rights"? This would totally hurt businesses. Employers will have to ignore their personal convictions and hire people they don't want to! This would also UNDERMINE THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE. This "ultimately determines the strength of our entire society." "The reason America is so great is that moms and dads sacrifice for the future..."

Deb Pryce is a Republican from Ohio, but you know what? Gay Americans can be overtly denied an opportunity to contribute to our economy. Now, if corporate America says nondiscrimination is good idea, maybe that's a good idea. "It makes financial sense." They can attract "talented and productive workers that can contribute to the company's success." Let's stop getting in the way of the American Dream. "Fundamental American right to earn a living should be a principle."

Sorry, I got a phone call. Back. Now some Republican dude is mad about this "new protected class." He has a comb-over. Ah, his name is Tim Walberg, from Michigan. More about trial lawyers making a ton of money. Also, it takes away religious liberty. ENDA will "directly discriminate against people of traditional values."

Rep Sanford Bishop (D) from Georgia is awesome. As a black man, a Christian and an American citizen, he thinks discrimination is a bad idea.

A Texan. Rep. Louie Gohmert says we can "expect more litigation against the Boy Scouts." This is a "can of worms." "It invites people to come apply for a job, and then make utterances like 'you think I'm gay!'" I'm surprised more lawyers aren't salivating right outside the House, with all the money they'd be making. No, really, I don't even know what Louie is talking about anymore. Something about attorney's fees.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) thinks that ENDA can strengthen the character of our democracy.

Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) says that ENDA will force states to impose "marriage or civil unions" on people. This is already happening! Look at Massachusetts! State ENDA laws are a component of a strategy. You know what strategy that is. The homosexual agenda. Marriage is the shingles on the house. He read this is an activist publication. They might want to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act! This is a building block to impose same-sex marriage on the states.

George Miller from CA says that Pitts made some interesting statements that had nothing to do with the legislation.

Keith Ellison is ready to redeem Minnesota. He says that we can support "traditional values" like "opportunity" and "minding your own business." He wants to vote for ENDA.

Rep Roy Blunt is a Minority Whip. And that's not kinky. He's from Missouri and the founders saw the Constitution for protecting religious freedom. This bill would roll back those protections, "depending on where you happen to work." It will create a Constitutional conflict! If you kept a Bible at your workstation, or display a meaningful verse at your cubicle, what if your co-worker saw a quote about homosexuality and sued you for a "hostile workplace"? He is very upset about this. "This depends more on where you work than whether the position on the desk, the Bible, is offensive." He is concerned about the owners of Christian and "Moslom" bookstores. Bookstore owners are getting a lot of attention today. "We don't need to create more reasons for litigation in the country." He yields back.

Mike Pence from Indiana is a Republican. And he doesn't condone discrimination. He believe in civility and decency and society. BUT. He stammers. Oh, right - "wage war on the free exercise of religion." Can we have a "newly created right to sue you for practicing your faith in the workplace"? He references the 1st Amendment. HOMO-SEXual behavior. What if you have a Bible in your cubicle??? Or display a verse? That is hostile?? HOMO-SEXuALity. He gets gaveled. Says "uh" a few more times. He opposes ENDA.

The Democrat from New Jersey would like to remind the gentleman from Indiana that having a Bible at your desk is not illegal.

Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) just said "gaydar." She would like the future schoolchildren to know she STOOD UP against the "last vestige of discrimination."

Souder submits a letter from Andrew Sullivan, Editor of the New Republic, and adds a letter about how this will affect Orthodox Jews. Or something.

I am getting tired of Souder, so I'll eat a cupcake til he's done talking.

OK, George Miller just yielded himself 30 seconds. He says we have a bill that is "far more acceptable to far more people."

Susan Davis from CA says she wishes this ENDA was inclusive of transgender people: "employment discrimination strikes at a fundamental American value... transgender people are among the most vulnerable in the GLBT community." She talks about a friend, Vicky Estrada, who was trans, and expresses her support for a more inclusive ENDA.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) thinks "fairness, justice and equality under law" is a good thing. He says we are taking a "momentous step." He says it could be anyone - Jews, Baptists, African-Americans. The whole idea is that we don't discriminate against anybody. "In this just nation, we believe in equal opportunity." He hopes that none of his colleagues find themselves in the position of having to say, "I am historically sorry," the way some people did after not voting for the Civil Rights Act. Think about it. Will we choose to "stand on the right side of history"? "Yes, you may be different than we are, but you are entitled by our Constitution, our God and our values to the same rights that we are." He was the landmark sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We need to say "that it is not lawful in the United States to have that prejudice prevent the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of opportunity offered by this great, just, fair nation."

James Moran from Virginia (D) says people come here from all over the world to contribute to the economy. People can't control their sexual orientation. Let's judge them on their ability to contribute. C'mon now. Also, he would have favored the Baldwin Amendment, but this is a civil rights struggle, and that takes time. So, he urges everyone to vote for ENDA.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.Carolina) was a civil rights activist and was even incarcerated a number of times. He has cherished the institution of marriage for 46 years. He urges his colleagues to vote for ENDA.

Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Illinois) says that the United States can advance tolerance. He reminds us about the Nazis, and how we freed people from that kind of rule. We can advance tolerance. He urges us to support tolerance.

Rep Alcee Hastings (D-Florida) has a great speaking voice. He also looks very wise. "Make this country live up to all the creeds that are our values, American values." On discrimination: "It is wrong, it is intolerant, it is un-American." Wow, everything he says sounds amazing. They should have him do all the speaking here.

Rep. John Lewis ALSO has a great speaking voice. He is standing up for his "gay and lesbian brothers and sisters." "Call it what you may, to discriminate against someone because they are gay - it is wrong, it is wrong, it is not right." "IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, IT IS THE MORAL THING TO DO, LET US DO IT." He doesn't even need a microphone. "The time is always right to do what is right. Let us pass this bill." He's pretty great.

Some Republican with a *really* ugly red tie is talking about the vagueness of the bill. And Bibles in the workplace. Oh, and his lapel pin is ugly too. I'm tuning him out until further notice. Oh, it was John Kline.

Nancy Pelosi is up. We must be nearing the end. She says that "discrimination has no place in America." "We have more work to do." She thanks Mr. Miller for decades of leadership, and Mr. Andrews for his commitment to workers. This is truly a historic day. "The House of Representatives will consider and hopefully pass...ENDA." She mentions Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin for their leadership.

Pelosi says she "shares the disappointment of Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank and others" that gender identity is not included "but I support the passage of ENDA because it advances the rights..." We cannot afford to "squander talent" in America. "This is wrong."

She says that civil rights advancement is not easy, and is "often marked by small and difficult steps." She says it's not just that her district (San Francisco) is tolerant, they also have "pride in that diversity." She urges "a vote on this important legislation."

OK, now it's time for people to offer amendments. Gavel.

George Miller yields himself 4 minutes. He offers up an amendment that clarifies that ENDA matches the religious exemption in the 1964 Civil Rights Amendment, and also would use the DOMA definition of marriage. This "issue has been a cause of a lot of confusion in the past weeks." Bleh. Sometimes about Christian colleges and universities. Section 702-A of Title 7 or arguably broader section of 703-E. What. He yields himself a few extra seconds and then yields to his co-sponsor, Bart Stupak.

Bart wants us to know that this amendment will make sure the government does not "unconstitutionally infringe on religious practice." He lists a bunch of people who support his amendment: Orthodox Jews, Seventh Day Adventists...etc. He wants us to know that marriage is between a man and woman. "No American should have to face discrimination...however, religious organizations should be able to hire individuals who reflect their religious beliefs." And ENDA better not be used to undercut the Defense of Marriage Act!

Confusion over who has the right to close. "The gentleman from California." "Which gentleman from California?" "We're all from California!"

Some Republican with a square head yields himself such time as he will consume. He says that this amendment is "futile" and faith-based institutions are being stripped of their protections. I think I'll eat an apple til he's done.

Gentleman Mr. Brown from Georgia is recognized for two minutes. His constituents and all Americans should know this is bad for Georgia, and bad for America. This bill will "increase discrimination - yes, increase."

Souder is back. Unless he says something new, I'll be back in two and a half minutes.

Christian bookstores AGAIN.

Rep. Rob Andrews supports the amendment. Says it fairly addresses concerns. He got a letter from a president of a Christian college. He tells his colleagues to read page 8, captioned "NO preferential treatment." This means that ENDA would not allow preferential treatment. It is, he notes, "helpful to read the bill." You can also read sub-section C, which would use the DOMA definition of marriage. So this means your concerns are being met, Souder. Sit down.

Buck McKeon (R-CA) feels bad that people are "offended." He says that we "don't end discrimination by passing laws." We do that by "changing hearts and minds." He will support the religion amendment.

Amendment 1 passes.

Souder is offering an amendment. I might tune out.

He yields himself 3 minutes. His amendment strikes paragraph 3 of 8-A. I'm guessing that means that religious people can discriminate more and gays can't get married. Or something.

POLYGAMY! Somehow, I knew we would get there eventually. Also adultery.

"Sexual standards."

Section 883. This is about state's definitions of marriage.

Rep. George Miller wants to remind everyone that ENDA is actually about employment non-discrimination and that this amendment is sort of unnecessary. But he'll vote on it, whatevs.

Souder repeats himself for about two minutes.

Barney Frank says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Souder's amendment is "made-up."

Sheila Jackson Lee is from Texas, a Democrat, and pretty fabulous. She asks that her support for ENDA go into the record.

Amendment 2 passes

TAMMY BALDWIN.

"Today, ENDA seeks to extend the law...and my amendment would also include gender identity. We have worked steadily to rid our nation of irrational hatred and fear...that often results in discrimination, housing, employment and public accommodations." She lists states and municipalities and businesses with GLBT protections and policies. "It is time for Congress to catch up to our communities and American businesses. Today we can strengthen our laws against discrimination in our workplace...Few understand how a person's body might not match their internal sense of gender. This is not a new phenomenon. It is not a fad. and it is certainly not a reason to lose one's job. Some have asked why it is important to includes transgender protection...this community shares a history...a history of suffering discrimination and too often of violence...just for being who they are." "Symbolically, [these laws] say in America we judge people by their abilities and their talents." "Irrational hate and fear have no place in our society." "If we truly want to protect the most vulnerable in our society...then we must work towards achieving the American Dream for all, and not just for some." Wow.

Souder sounds like a tool. I think we know why. He says "transvestites" a few times and looks nervous. This amendment is a "political ploy." OK, I sort of agree that: "the majority is trying to avoid embarrassment...shield their members from having a difficult vote...so they can go out and tell the transgendered community: "Oh, we tried"...not where they really stand." Fair 'nough.

Did I mention I love Tammy Baldwin?

Souder says that this is a conspiracy against "those of us who don't approve of the lifestyle."

Tammy Baldwin kind of ignores him. She says that a rollcall vote would fall short of adoption, however. She says: "I believe those who will be left behind by this bill deserve to hear, on this House floor, that you have not been forgotten...until you are part of this American Dream...I will do everything within my power to make this measure whole again." Applause for the first time all evening.

Tammy Baldwin withdraws her amendment.

Some procedural stuff going on. Inquiries. Recorded votes requested. Etc.

[15 minute electronic vote on the amendments. CSPAN plays interviews with French ambassadors.]

Hey, if you're reading this, leave me a comment! What are you thoughts? Feelings? What else do you want to know? Ideas why Souder is so ornery?

Recorded votes are being taken for amendment 2. This is a 5 minute vote. Oh, and ps. I figured out what the Souder amendment was about - employment conditioned on someone's marital status. Anyway, back in 5.

Question on adoption of the amendments: they are adopted.

"I cannot hear anything." House must come to order.

"We have a long evening ahead of us." Uh oh.

These politicians sure are rowdy. "Take your conversations off the floor." Gavel. Gavel. Gavel.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) is worried about the "activist courts." ENDA will lead to legalized "gay marriage" everywhere. He wants to make sure that this bill does not "become the building block...to destroy the institution of marriage." He has a picture of the Declaration of Independence on his wall. People need to stop trying to tear down our institutions and chip away at our ideals. "Marriage between a man and woman...is under attack from all sides."

Barney Frank wants us all to go to dinner. Oh nevermind, let's do this promptly.

Barney Frank takes this personally. 19 states have such a law! "I used to be someone subject to this prejudice...I got to be a big-shot. I'm now above this prejudice, but now I feel an obligation....those worried they will lose their job in a gas station if someone finds out who they love." I think he's choked up. He thinks that this is "a ploy by people who want to keep discrimination on the books."

Barney is yelling! He wants the gentleman to yield so that we can add the language and move along. "There are people who are your fellow citizens who are being discriminated against. We have a simple bill that says you can go to work and not be penalized. Please don't turn your back on them." Applause.

[OK, this is a 15 minute procedural vote on whether to send this bill back to committee. Stay tuned. And leave me comments!]

Oh shit! They are now about to vote on the FINAL PASSAGE of the bill!

[5 minute vote now]

Yes: 235
No: 184

BILL IS PASSED

ENDA passed: 235 to 184 and without gender identity protections.