July 28, 2007

The Boston Herald gets trans issues wrong.

Offensive coverage of the mugging of a transwoman in the Boston Herald. Write a letter to the editor today.

This is just another reminder of why we need trans-inclusive nondiscrimination and hate crimes laws, and the amount of education and advocacy that still must be done.

Donate to MTPC today.

July 27, 2007

Friday Round-Up

This has been a pretty busy Week O'Queer, and rather than subject y'all to a flurry of posts, I'm going to try a flurry of snippets and teasers instead. If something in particular is interesting to you folks, or sparks a discussion in comments, perhaps it can get a full post of its own. :)

First up, Good News From HRC:

- Number of Fortune-500 companies who explicitly protected employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity, as of 2003:

- Number of Fortune-500 companies who explicitly protected employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity, as of 2006:
- Number of Fortune-500 companies who explicitly protected employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity, as of 2007:

- The HRC's press release on the "State of the Workplace for GLBT Americans 2006-2007":
priceless? (though perhaps not meriting a cheap Mastercard joke.)

One thing, however, does confuse me: HRC repeatedly says that the number of Fortune-500 companies who protect trans employees has "quadrupled" since 2003. As far as I know, 8x4=32, not 125. Anyone else understand where the "quadrupled" claim is coming from?

Next in the Round-Up, A Report from the Department of M.E.'s New Favorite Blog:

- I discovered the Box Turtle Bulletin the other day, and have become a big fan almost overnight. The Bulletin is run by Jim Burroway and a supporting team of bloggers, whose mission it is to fact-check anti-gay propaganda; this means lots of debunking of poorly-designed "gays are promiscuous, disease-ridden, and crazy" studies - and even more debunking of anti-gay tracts which misquote these studies, take them out of context, or treat them as gospel.

Some of Box Turtle's greatest hits:

- From the Inside: Jim reports from Exodus/Focus on the Family's "Love Won Out" conference (initially planned as an eight-part series, of which four parts have been completed so far; link takes you to the prologue)

- Straight from the Source - What the "Dutch Study" Really Says About Gay Couples: Are gays more promiscuous than straight people? Not exactly. Jim looks at the oft-quoted 2003 study that anti-queer groups claim proves that gay relationships are short-lived and characterized by compulsive infidelity. (Hint: it was an epidemiological study about high-risk sexual behaviors, from which monogamous couples were specifically excluded.)

- The Heterosexual Agenda - Exposing The Myths: *Really* priceless. A parody in the style of alarmist "homosexual agenda" tracts, exposing the dodgy pseudo-science that they generally rely on. Also, it's just hysterically funny. :)

Go. Enjoy.

Speaking of Hysterically Funny:

- Ever wonder why your life's falling apart? It's All Because The Gays Are Getting Married, at least according to musician/comedian Oded Gross. Link takes you to the music video, which is safe for work as long as work lets you squirt coffee out of your nose laughing.

Notes From My Life:

-Me: God, I can't believe I'm leaving the Bay Area for frickin' middle-of-nowhere Virginia tomorrow!
-A Friend: Well, at least you should get plenty of material for that blog you write.

As if I need more . . .

July 24, 2007

Cute vs. Creepy

So, I know Loolwa Khazzoom would probably disapprove of all these incidents, but I feel like there's a clear qualitative difference between them.

1) I'm sitting on a bus, talking on my cell phone. (I know, even I disapprove of this part.) But in any case, I'm talking to my sweetie about, among other things, how I accidentally came out as queer to a summer-school class comprised of rather a lot of my academic idols. The conversation ranges over the usual topics: one of the students who's really into semiotics asked me what cues might differentiate a feminine straight woman from a queer femme, we had a whole discussion about rhinestone cat's-eye glasses - and of course, I convey all of this on the phone to my darlin'. Meanwhile, the guy sitting across from me on the bus is trying very hard not to crack up over what he's overhearing, and I catch his eye and smile complicitly - as if to say, "yeah, I know this is a strange conversation, and I'm glad you're amused rather than peeved that I'm on my phone."

Anyway, so I get off the bus before I'm done with the phone call, and the guy passes me a note. Once I'm off, I unfold it and read it:

You're adorable + you make me smile.
Have a good day! :-)

(I'll note that there was no phone number.)

At first, I wasn't sure how to react. Given that I'm usually very leery of pick-up attempts, I wasn't sure whether to be charmed or my usual squicked-out. I settled for amused - mostly, I think, because of the no-phone-number, but possibly because of the smiley-face, too.

Compare, then, if you will . . .

2) I'm at the video store this weekend. The place I'm at has a section listing movies by actor: I make some crack to the person I'm there with, along the lines of, "Wow, this may be the only time I'll see Jackie Chan next to Charlie Chaplin." A guy standing by Sean Connery laughed, and took pains to explain to me that Chan comes directly before Chaplin in the store's alpha-by-actor shelving system, and thus the bizarre-seeming thematic juxtaposition was just a coincidence. (Ohhhhhhhh... now I get it!) He starts asking me which Connery film he should get, handing me DVD cases and pretending not to notice when I tried to hand them back.

My video-store companion is nowhere to be seen.

He asks me where I'm from in the city, and I tell him actually, I'm just visiting. "Oh? How much longer are you in town?" he asks. Just - thank goodness - till tomorrow.

I keep turning away, looking at Coen Brothers movies, willing my friend to come back and the guy to shut up already.

"My name's Chris," he says, sticking out his hand. I unthinkingly give him my real first name. Oh, well. "That's unique. Where's it from?"

I respond in monosyllables. I still don't know where my friend is. Finally, she resurfaces. I'm tempted to hug her. Instead, I look over my shoulder at the guy and say, "Um, nice to have met you. Bye." He sputters, as if he's surprised that someone he's been chatting up in a video store would want to go home eventually, and says it was nice to meet me, too - very nice.

A different guy approaches us in the parking lot, wanting to know what we'd rented, and recommending that we check out Sleeper Cell. (Right, 'cause the fact that we'd gotten Quinceanera and Jesus Camp made us look like the types who'd enjoy an even-more-xenophobic 24 knockoff.)

I climb into the car, lock the doors, and ask my friend, "Is this normal here?"

Now, that's creepy. There are ways to express your appreciation for another person you know you'll never meet again - take a tip from Bachelor #1, and make it brief and unintrusive.

July 18, 2007

Who will join me?

Hey Boston-area folks. Who will join me in supporting and witnessing some great work?

And Still We Rise!

A compelling theatrical telling of authentic personal stories by those directly affected by the criminal justice system

And Still We Rise Productions is a collaboration of theatre artists and social justice advocates working together with ex-prisoners and their loved ones to bring a powerful, articulate, personal voice of prison experience to the public for the purpose of healing, education, empowerment, and social change.

Saturday, July 28, 2007
7:30 to 9:30PM

First Church in Cambridge - Congregational
Margaret Jewett Hall
11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
(Harvard T Stop)

$10 Suggested Donation
Refreshments available

Event information: (617) 628-3717

This performance sponsored by:
First Parish in Cambridge – Congregational
First Parish in Cambridge – Unitarian Universalist
Prison Fellowship, Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quakers)

July 10, 2007

How to Know You Are Being Discriminated Against

Here's a key: they prolly will specifically deny that they are discriminating against you.

From: A certain Quench Affiliate
To: Person Looking for Roommate
Re: $1075 FABULOUS Furn Sunny Spacious 3BR/2BA-1BR 8/15 GYM METRO-


I would need it until the middle/end of August next year, and I would need a stable rent per month assured for that period of time.


From: Person in charge of apartment
To: A certain Quench Affiliate

the rent goes up every june-that is beyond my control-also in the summer I can get higher rent so ideally i need mid august until end of May next year-if you can't deal with a rent increase i am afraid they are quite normal so this won't work out! you want to just pay a slightly higher rent now so it doesn't feel like an increase in june I can arrange that too! Plus I have usally lived with people who are straight and am not sure how this would work out-good luck!


From: A certain Quench Affiliate
To: Person Looking for Roommate


As I would require a stable rent for the year, I am no longer interested in the apartment.

Also, for future reference, making a statement such as "Plus I have usally lived with people who are straight and am not sure how this would work out" is considered discriminatory, and might be something to avoid when interacting with potential renters in the future.


From: Person Looking for Roommate
To: A certain Quench Affiliate

nothing is discriminatory whatsoever about that which I guess is your reason for not taking it-I was being honest and have a right to know what the situation would be like-asking if you are in a relationship-just as I would ask a straight person if they are dating someone as I don't want to live with someone who has all kinds of random dates and visitors-there isn't anything discriminatory whatsoever-you my dear are apparently just over senstive and pananoid!! Good luck and for the record rents increase all the time and you need to deal with it!! It is beyond my control that on June 1 the rent is raised! you would think if you went to harvard you could perhaps grasp that concept? I have rented the room anyway now to another so it is all moot point!!

Yeah, awesome!

S/he is TOTALLY not discriminating! AWESOME!

I'm so convinced by that mighty response. Especially when they are being so very calm and collected about it. Mm, yes.

And thanks for the Harvard quip, beeyotch.

July 06, 2007

anonymity and blogging

Today at work, people were discussing anonymity and blogging. Who blogs anonymously and why?

There was a lot of conversation about gender, race, sexuality, and blogger anonymity (or pseudoanonymity.)

I don't know a lot about the topic and haven't thought a lot about it beyond the obvious issues of outness that come from the politics of LGBT issues.

I did a little googling about it but I am mostly wondering what people think about the topic.

How does anonymity and pseudoanonymity affect political blogging and who makes up and is trusted in the bloggosphere? How does it change content? How does it affect who blogs or whose blogs are "most read"? How do you choose what blogs to read and how do these issues relate?

Just to throw out some local examples of blogs that use real full names, our friends at Cambridge Common blog under their real names (with one exception a long time ago perhaps? also, I do not think CC is white majority but it is male majority, right?), as do other white heterosexual male majority blogs I can think of like DemApples, and Immigration Orange. One of the most consistent local radical queer community blogs, QueerToday has mostly white gay male writers and uses real names.

Here are some local blogs that don't use real full names. Afropologe uses real names, but only first names (I think they posted about this once but I couldn't find it). LiveJournal users mostly use handles not related to their real names but they friend their real friends so it's also a sort of in between. It seems like LJ is the hub of queer blogging stuff (or is that just because I only watch queer bloggers and communities there?). Quench doesn't use real names - just handles.

I was trying to think of blogs that I read regularly that are written by women who use their real full names. Two came to mind - I read both every day, but neither of them is local. Pam from Pam's House Blend, a blog I read every day that is not local, is written by a trans woman of color using her real name. Racialicious's bloggers use their real full names and are mostly if not entirely written by women of color. But otherwise, I can think of few blogs written by women that use real names. What are the political and cultural forces behind these trends?

Similarly, other than CC and Afropologe, I don't read a lot of work by local people of color using real full names. Why is it that white men (particularly non-trans white men, particularly straight non-trans white men) are trompsing around the internet using their real names while everyone else is... not?

And why do the bloggers who I read who use real names and are not white men all write about personal, rather than political issues. Is it a problem with what is traditionally defined as "political," am I reading a crappy list of blogs, is something else going on, or what's the deal? And does anonymity even matter?

Another question that arose for me when I was describing some of these blogs to use as examples was that I went to actually look at their blog to see who was listed as a writer and who was actually writing. Many blogs, including all of the local ones I mentioned except Afropologe have along list of writers but a smaller number of people who generate most of the actual posts. How do these lists of writers come to be and what is the politics of listing writers vs. people writing. (For example, I know that Quench has many people who contribute to the zine and maybe comment on the blog but aren't active bloggers; I think it's cool that people participate in different ways. I have no idea how other blogs are structured or how they find writers or decide who counts as a regular contributer since Quench is the only blog I've ever written for.)

All questions and no answers,

Party for a cause!

How does the following sound?

  1. Vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream OR a non-dairy frozen option
  2. Toppings! Lots of yummy toppings! Chocolate chips, hot fudge, sprinkles, fruit, and lots more toppings.
  3. Outdoor fun.
  4. Old and new friends.

Come join us for only $5-10/person (sliding scale), and get the additional reward of knowing that ALL money you donate will go to the MA Transgender Political Coalition for its advocacy work. (Feel free to give more or to come just to be supportive if you can't afford otherwise.)

MTPC is working to pass House Bill 1722, An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes, which would add "gender identity and gender expression" to Massachusetts' non-discrimination laws affecting employment, housing, credit, public accommodation, and public education, as well as the the hate crimes statute.

While we are happy to answer questions about MTPC and the legislation at the event (more information also available at http://www.masstpc.org/), this is intended to be a relaxed, fun get-together with ice cream as the focus (so feel free to bring friends, family, roommates, etc along even if they're not so interested in the politics). Because we want this to raise money for MTPC, We're happy to have people there just for the ice cream. Sunday, July 8 (Yes, this Sunday!) 2:30 pm until at least 630 or 7.

Email any quench writer or quench.zine@gmail.com for the location!

But if you want to come last minute, please do! PLEASE INVITE FRIENDS, TOO (rsvp for them if you can)! The more the merrier - this is a fund raiser after all.

Finally, if you can't make it but wish you could, consider supporting the event in other ways - donate an item or service to a fun and silly auction we'll have (eg. a cooking lesson, tutoring, or a picnic) or you can donate to MTPC directly as always at http://www.masstpc.org/about/donate.shtml

This party will be alcohol and drug free.