October 31, 2007

"Asexuality-deniers"

Hi everyone!

Happy Halloween (hopefully, some spooky posts to come!)
But I just had to share this great post by ily, over at Asexy Beast. In it, she writes about coming out as asexual:

Luckily, the people close to me in my life accept me for who I am. But there are countless others who try to come out as asexual and only get responses like the one above: "THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE!!" I think some of these adamants can eventually see the light...I invite him or her to read the rest of this blog and discover the fact that we are not trying to tear apart your world; just finding a way to live in it that makes sense to us.

I suggest you check out her other blog entries too - they're smart, funny and interesting.

October 27, 2007

The real story of Rosa Parks

Over at Pam's House Blend, JulieWaters has a thought-provoking reflection on the story of Rosa Parks - both as she's been mythologized and as she really was - and what the gap between those things means for activists and activism today.

I've always loved the real story behind Rosa Parks, which is a bit different than the one most of us read about in school. The mythology runs that she was a tired lady who just got fed up with having to give up her seats one day. This isn't quite how it happened. Rosa Parks was an activist and she knew exactly what she was doing at the time. The bus boycott didn't just happen spontaneously. It was planned and executed masterfully.

...

The reason Rosa Parks is portrayed as a tired lady who just got fed up is because, as a culture, we're afraid of acknowledging what she really was: a powerful woman who had used what wits she had to take control over her situation against overwhelming odds.

...

Can you imagine what would happen if instead of just being outraged and frustrated we were outraged, frustrated, and extremely well coordinated?

Can you imagine what could happen if we were to transform the public dialogue and make activism something to be proud of? Can you imagine what would happen if we told people far and wide that not only should the admire Rosa Parks for standing up for herself, but for doing so with eyes open, knowing that she was risking arrest in doing so?

Click on over to Pam's and check out the full post. I'm interested to hear your thoughts.

October 24, 2007

the bait and switch - another tactic white people use to allow racism to continue

I want to point you all over to a conversation at Alas!. The post is titled "Whites Need to Take Responsibility for Their Racism (Alternate Title: Stop Giving White People 2nd, 3rd and 4th Chances When Blacks Get Zero Chances)."

It is about the way white people perpetuate racism by changing the topic when a white person's racist words are actions are the topic of discussion, to talk about a person of color or a group of people of color's actions or behaviors. (Actually, the examples in the post are mostly specifically about black people rather than people of color more generally.) I won't say more here because I want to encourage folks to go over there, check out the post, and take part in the discussion.

This may be the first time we've linked to Alas! so be sure to say a warm hello.

October 23, 2007

NOW announces offensive ads

NOW put up a website of offensive ads. I can't believe it's 2007 and we are still here. Seeing these images side-by-side was shocking to me and I am someone who thinks about gender and advertising. Do you think that people will understand sexism better by seeing these demeaning images side by side, with explanations as to their problems?

An example:

Dolce & Gabbana: This ad is beyond offensive, with a scene evoking a gang rape and reeking of violence against women. In an interview, NOW Foundation President Kim Gandy said, "It's in Esquire, so they probably don't think a stylized gang rape will sell clothes to women, but what is more likely is that they think it will get them publicity. It's a provocative ad but it is provoking things that really are not what we want to have provoked. We don't need any more violence."

Does reposting these ads educate people or just amplify a bad message? I know I have seen the images reposted around the internet. Personally, I am glad they stamped them with the words "offensive to women" so that when people repost discussions about them, they are not taken out of their context as images that legitimize violence against women.

I wish NOW had addressed the racially offensive nature of some of these ads.

October 21, 2007

Cutest Tool Ever

Sealaska Heritage Institute is a trust established by Sealaska Corporation, a Native American and Alaska Native owned large business (primarily Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian). (You can read about their work here). They work to foster cultural and societal growth and health among Alaska Native and Native American peoples, including a rather comprehensive and remarkable set of language learning programs. I have the Tlingit one, and it is totally amazing.

So, to the point of this post. While googling "whale shaman" I somehow ran into the coolest page ever, a part of their on-line Tlingit curriculum - just watch it to the end, it's really short (only a few pages). You can see it here, as well as their resource page with other neat programs here.

SO CUTE. UNBEARABLY CUTE.

October 20, 2007

Airport Security...

from craiglist missed connections:

Airport Security- You Caught My Eye! - w4w - 30


Reply to: pers-454040818@craigslist.org
Date: 2007-10-19, 7:25PM EDT

Odds are you probably don't even frequent this site, but on the off chance that you do, I would like it if you'd contact me.

It was Thursday, October 18th. We were at Ronald Reagan National Airport. I was working and I noticed you noticing me as you were going through security. I wasn't 100% sure until after you'd left and one of my co-workers confirmed what I already believed was true. I wanted to say something to you but at the time I was training a new employee.

If you read this and you're still interested, either come by the airport or e-mail me. Thanks

Dumbledore Gay, News at 11

FIRST!

October 16, 2007

"D.C. Police Chief Orders More Respect for Transgender Arrestees"

From the Washington Post

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier issued a departmental general order today directing her officers how to deal respectfully with transgender people. The order "sets the highest standards in the nation," according to the DC Trans Coalition, made up of members of the District's transgender community.

According to the article, the new standards include:
  • referring to trans folks by the gender they present
  • designate trans folks as "at risk" to show that they may experience hostility from others, and allow them their separate cell
  • arrestees determine their own gender

ENDA: Call Today

QueerToday has a good set of
talking points
for calling your legislator regarding ENDA. Today is the day you need to call as the committee hearing is today. If you can't call today, you can try calling tomorrow as the committee may not make a decision today.

In addition, I wanted to point out some good press. The American Constitutional Society (think the progressive version of "The Federalist Society" if you've heard of them) has a guest blogger right now who wrote about it. The guest blogger is Kate Kendell, a lawyer who is the director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Kendell explains some of the loopholes introduced under which non-trans or stealth trans gay, lesbian, and bisexual people could be discriminated against without the gender identity protections. For example, butch women or femme men could be told that it's not their sexual orientation but their gender presentation which is a problem for the employer. In addition, Kendell cites other discrimination legislation where loopholes like this hurt the substance of the law.

For example, although statutes prevent employers from discriminating based on national origin, courts have nevertheless interpreted those statutes to permit employers to discriminate against workers who speak with an accent associated with a particular country or region. Similarly, courts have interpreted race discrimination statutes narrowly to permit employers to discriminate against workers who wear hairstyles (such as braided hair) associated with a particular race. The basis for these decisions is that not all persons from other countries speak with an accent and that not all persons of a particular race wear a particular hairstyle. While we strongly disagree with the reasoning in these decisions, it, unfortunately, does not take a stretch of imagination to envision a court holding that a statute prohibiting only sexual orientation discrimination does not protect a butch lesbian or a feminine gay man because not all lesbians and gay men are gender non-conforming.


Check out the ACS's blog for the full post. I find it interesting to read about a few of the cases that caused the leading LGBT legal organizations to join the UnitedENDA coalition.

October 15, 2007

Documentary: lesbians pass for straight couple in Evangelical Org

This looks like a pretty sweet documentary. Check it out:

Faith of the Abomination is the story of two Evangelical lesbian women who were promised inclusion in the church, only to be thwarted at every turn. Feeling lonely and frustrated, they decided to change their outside package and joined the Evangelical Organization as man and woman. They were accepted immediately and soon became members of the church's inner circle. However, what they found there strayed far from the teachings of Jesus...

You can view the trailer or check out the production blog. I can't wait to see it!

sleep - the other kind of self-care

Hi Quenchistas,

I have a question for you all. We are always reading about studies that say we should sleep more, or that we should sleep less, or that we should try some new pattern of sleep.

We talk a lot about sex on this blog, but I'm not sure we've talked about sleep. It seems like a lot of activists I know who are also full time employed/students don't get a lot of sleep. Even activists I know who are not tend to lose a lot of sleep here and there. So...

  • How much do you usually sleep?
  • How much did you sleep last night?
  • Do you feel that you are getting "enough sleep"? How much sleep do you think would be "enough"?
  • Do you use any method or routine that helps you to sleep more/better?
  • How do you know what is "enough sleep" for you?
  • And, to make this question quench-specific (see, you knew I was getting there), what is the most awkward thing that you have witnessed related to or during sleep (yours or someone else's)?

October 12, 2007

First the serious, then the fun

First the serious. I read an interesting article this morning about mysogeny and transphobia during this whole ENDA debate. I would be interested to see what significants you attribute to what some has pointed out as a huge proportion of the anti-inclusive ENDA advocates being white gay men. (Of course, here in Boston, we have Susan Ryan-Vollmar, a Bay Windows editor who wrote an article last week referring to trans advocates as "petulant" and demanting trans inclusion as "madness.") (See this week's Bay Windows for several responses to her article and one article supporting her position.)

Now for the fun.

Check out what I missed at the 4th China Reproductive Health New Technologies & Products Expo in Beijing July 11, 2007.

So hot! It's great when safer sex items are shown as so hot and fun. Here are some pictures from various places on the internet.

For the sake of the models, I hope the condoms were unlubricated.

From Ah Boon





October 11, 2007

Susan Stryker writes awesome Salon article: “Transgender people are not beggars at the civil rights table set by gay and lesbian activists."

Icarus sent me this article and it seems very relevant.

Stryker is very persuasive, as usual.


Transgender people have become this political season's version of the unisex-toilet issue that helped scuttle passage of the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 1970s, of Willie Horton's role in bringing the first Bush presidency to the White House in the 1980s, and of the "Don't bend over to pick up the soap in the barracks shower room" argument against gays in the military in the 1990s -- a false issue that panders to the basest and most ignorant of fears. This is unfortunate because protecting the rights of transgender people specifically is just one welcome byproduct of the version of ENDA that forbids discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender expression or identity. This full version of ENDA, rather than the nearly introduced one that stripped away previously agreed-upon protections against gender-based discrimination and would protect only sexual orientation, is the one that is of potential benefit to all Americans, and not just to a narrow demographic slice of straight-looking, straight-acting gays and lesbians. It doesn't really even do that much good for this group, as Lambda Legal points out, because of a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.


I haven’t heard a lot from quenchfolk about this so I want to know. What do you think? I am comfortable agreeing to disagree and can respect folks who have a well thought-out opinion.

In addition, though, I want to discuss something else. I want to know why this has become such a big issue. Why do you think so many people have been blogging and talking about it? Is it just because it’s drama to talk about it? Does it mean trans folk are more included in the LGBT social community now, causing people to care more? Do people want a chance to show they are the more “practical” or the more “radical” members of the community? Are people really just fabulously invested in making sure trans folks are included in this fight? And are trans folks really that much harder for legislators to vote for or is it just an excuse, as Stryker points out?

I don’t know the answers to these questions but I know folks have been talking about this for weeks and so must have some insight into why it’s such an apparently-fascinating topic of conversation.

I’ll close with another quote from Stryker’s piece because I think her opinion is well-articulated.

Aravosis and those who agree with him think that the "trans revolution" has come from outside, or from above, the rank-and-file gay movement. No -- it comes from below, and from within. The outrage that many people in the queer, trans, LGBT or whatever-you-want-to-call-it community feel over how a gender-inclusive ENDA has been torpedoed from within is directed at so-called leaders who are out of touch with social reality. It has to do with a generation of effort directed toward building an inclusive movement being pissed away by the clueless and the phobic. That's why every single GLBT organization of any size at the national and state levels -- with the sole exception of the spineless Human Rights Campaign -- has unequivocally come out in support of gender protections within ENDA, and has opposed the effort to pass legislation protecting only sexual orientation.

In addition, check out this week's Bay Windows for a ton of opinion pieces on an inclusive/united ENDA and let us know in the comments what's on your mind.

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Hi everyone!

Today is National Coming Out Day!

Check out our Coming Out Day post from last year. Here are Quench blog posts about coming out in college, being an ally, fun parts of being GLBT and coming out to a teacher.

See amazing Quench pages about coming out here, here, here, here, here and here.


Thoughts:

  • What does coming out mean for you? (as an ally, queer, GLBT, asexual, etc)
  • Do you think schools and colleges are becoming better places to come out?
  • What are characteristics of a great ally?
  • What are some ways we can make coming out easier for ourselves and others?

October 09, 2007

Instant period cure (no able-bodied folks need apply)

Scenario 1: An adult trans man is distressed by his periods, humiliated by the monthly occurrence of blood and the need to use pads or tampons, and fed up with his cramps, which, though perfectly average in intensity, are still painful and inconvenient.

He goes to his doctor and, on the basis of this information, requests an elective hysterectomy. He's told, roughly, that he's not qualified to make this decision for himself; that before he undergoes permanent and irreversible surgery, he has to get a doctor to certify that he won't regret the loss of his innards and that the presence of his uterus causes him more harm than the average uterus.

And then, sometimes, he still doesn't get the hysto.

Scenario 2: An adult cisgender woman (who has previously gotten her tubes tied, say) is distressed by her periods, humiliated by the monthly occurrence of blood and the need to use pads or tampons, and fed up with her cramps, which, though perfectly average in intensity, are still painful and inconvenient.

She goes to her doctor and, on the basis of this information, requests an elective hysterectomy. She's told, roughly, that to grant her request would be beyond the bounds of ethical medical practice - that functioning organs aren't removed without a better reason than convenience.

Scenario 3: A 15-year-old girl has not yet had her period. Her mother, however, believes that it will cause her daughter humiliation, distress, and unnecessary pain, although there is no indication that the girl's periods, when they come, will be anything other than average in intensity.

Her mother goes to the doctor and, on the basis of this information, requests that the girl be given an elective hysterectomy.

She's told, roughly, "Sure, let me just check it with our lawyers."


Sound bizarre? Impossible, even?

The difference, of course, is that Katie Thorpe, the 15-year-old girl in Scenario 3, has cerebral palsy. Her mother says that the removal of her daughter's uterus is for her own good; that she'll never need it to have children, anyway; and that since Katie cannot give or refuse consent, it is up to her mother to make these decisions for her.

Her mother also says - and people around the blogosphere seem to agree - that it's backbreaking labor for her to take care of Katie, and that the fact that she is the one changing Katie's diapers (and the one who would be changing Katie's pads) makes her the only one with the moral right to make this decision.

But, of course, it's all for Katie, right? 'Cause, you know, a period is a disease that you need to cure. Or, rather, it's a disease that you need to cure disabled women of, without their consent if need be.

There are a lot of issues here:

  • Do we have the right to remove other people's body parts for our own convenience? If the answer is "generally, no," at what point does it become "yes"?
  • If we can choose elective hysterectomies for persons under our care, why would we be regarded as out of our gourds for wanting the same thing for ourselves?
  • Does it matter that Katie may never be pregnant? Is the only purpose of leaving the body in one piece to make sure it's a proper incubator?
  • What if Katie's mother really wanted grandchildren? Assume that Katie was physically able to bear a child without harming her health - assume, hypothetically, that she wouldn't even be aware she was pregnant - and her mother was willing to tend to her and to raise the resulting baby. Would we still say that, since she was the only one cognizant of the consequences and the legal guardian of her daughter, what happened to that uterus was entirely her concern?
  • And the big one: if we say to Katie's mother that she cannot choose a hysterectomy for her daughter, are we willing, as a society, to pony up the tax money to pay for attendant services so that she won't have to take care of her daughter 24/7 and change her bloody diapers?
Analysis at F.R.I.D.A. (Feminist Response In Disability Advocacy): "Katie Thorpe's Womb To Be Removed By Parents"

Full news coverage at NewsTin: "Mother in controversial bid ..."

October 08, 2007

Gaia Online Avatars

I would like to remind everyone they should make/revise an avatar (like so and that they can do so using the Gaia Dream Avatar website. Free. No registry.

October 07, 2007

Op-ed: "I respect transgendered people but..."

There is an op-ed by John Aravosis on Salon.com today, entitled "How did the T get in LGBT?" I think that it reveals several interesting things. The article contains some of the "gradualism" arguments we have been hearing related to the exclusion of transgender people from the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA), but also inadvertently reveals the transphobia underlying many of these statements.

First, he writes:

If we waited until society was ready to accept each and every member of the civil rights community before passing any civil rights legislation, we'd have no civil rights laws at all. Someone is always left behind, at least temporarily. It stinks, but it's the way it's always worked, and it's the way you win.

He continues:

It's a fair question, but one we know we dare not ask. It is simply not p.c. in the gay community to question how and why the T got added on to the LGB, let alone ask what I as a gay man have in common with a man who wants to cut off his penis, surgically construct a vagina, and become a woman. I'm not passing judgment, I respect transgendered people and sympathize with their cause, but I simply don't get how I am just as closely related to a transsexual (who is often not gay) as I am to a lesbian (who is).

I think that the second quote illustrates the lack of education about trans issues that is part of the reason for the current situation. Aravosis also ignores the fact that non-trans people who don't conform to certain forms of gender expression would also benefit from an inclusive ENDA.

What are your thoughts?

Update: Susan Stryker has written a response editorial, entitled "Why the T in LGBT is here to stay."

October 05, 2007

Editorial in Bay Windows

By WTTO (who can't post right now):

This week's Bay Windows contained an editorial by Susan Ryan-Vollmar in favor of splitting gender identity and sexual orientation into different ENDA bills. ( here is the article ). Susan Ryan-Vollmar and other LGB advocates (although the minority of those who I have heard) suggest that trans folks and "activists" who are now speaking out for a united ENDA should have been involved long ago, and that we should take a piecemeal approach to this situation by passing sexual orientation non-discrimination now and leaving gender identity for later. My guess is that Ryan-Vollmar refers to the hundreds of LGBT groups that have become a part of http://unitedenda.org/ to keep ENDA inclusive of both sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination.

My experience says that trans folks who I know, as well as local activists involved in the coalition work that will hopefully keep the LGBT community united in supporting ENDA have been involved in supporting ENDA by calling their legislators, talking to their friends, and getting the word out. So as a partial response, I say that she is factually incorrect. (That's not even to include the ways I've seen trans folks and allies mobilized for same-sex marriage and other issues Ryan-Vollmar supports).

However, there is another part to this response. It's an unfair framework to say "what have the trans folks and allies done for this bill" and "what baggage do they bring which makes this harder to pass" without asking what trans folks and allies have to bring that will help the bill. In fact, a huge number of the statistics and stories being used about discrimination and hate crimes come from trans and gender variant folks who were victimized (or at least are about LGBT victims of violence or discrimination - not just LGB). You don't just get to use us because our stories are persuasive and then drop us and tell us sorry, you'll come back later. We have powerful stories to tell and are not just baggage - we actually can help! That's what coalition is all about.

Lastly, to Ryan-Vollmarand other Massachusetts advocates who want a piecemeal approach, I say - where were you on HB 1722 lobby day? Have you contacted your legislator about HB 1722? Have you asked friends to? I know that I didn't see anyone who I now hear advocating for a piecemeal approach actually WORKING for what they suggest would be the second piece in Massachusetts - to get gender identity and expression non-discrimination state-wide. If by piecemeal you mean that we work for your rights and then you leave us to fend for ourselves, it seems like you are missing the point of coalition and cooperation.

October 04, 2007

The Mommy Makeover

Pathologizing mothers' bodies? How far can we really go?

Like all plastic surgery, I think there are naturally warranted cases. But this photos on this site show "before" pictures that look pretty darn good, I should say.

I know there are supposed conflicts between women being mothers and women being in the workforce, but come on: there's no conflict between a woman being a mother and a woman being a woman. Our bodies change through puberty, and if someone became pregnant, the body would certainly change too. Why can't these be signs of pride? A good friend discussed with me how women are becoming increasingly sexualized and virginalized - objects and not agents of sexuality in that women must be sexually attractive but not sexually active (I mean, clearly this has always been the case, but Nelly Furtado is the only recent example I can think of where motherhood, the clearest evidence of sexual activity, actually increased sex apeal). The mommy job restores that myth, making it seem like the woman was never sexually active and is still ripe for the picking.

October 03, 2007

Bush vetoes child health insurance bill...

Bush vetoes a child health insurance bill...

Now it all makes sense! While this veto might mean that more children can't get treatment for sickness and die, Bush has a solution! By "protecting" marriage and the state's interest in reproduction, as well as by making abortion illegal, it will offset the loss of babies! More babies means America is #1!

I stand by Stephen Colbert's apt statement: "Everybody knows reality has a liberal bias."

"...they are going to have to pry this vibrator from my cold, dead hand..."

AP News reports: Court Leaves Alabama Sex Toy Ban Intact.

Looks like Alabama residents will have to go out of state bounds to get their sex toys, as the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case, ending a NINE-YEAR legal battle!

The law bans the distribution of "any device designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for anything of pecuniary value." Thankfully, they have carved out an exception for condoms, or that law could have gotten pretty ugly in Alabama.

Looks like "obscenity laws" are at it again. Thoughts? Anyone like me in wondering why they would go to such great effort to prevent people from having orgasms in the privacy of their own home? I mean, don't politicians have anything better to do than to think about sex? Like using public toilets at airports? Or covering up the overwhelming evidence (Here) that they might be gay?

October 01, 2007

Now that's what I call an incremental victory.

Too early to tell for sure, but word has it that Rep. Frank will not be dumping trans people from the version of ENDA to be considered by the House, and will instead delay the vote to round up support for a fully-inclusive ENDA.

From Gay City News:
Heeding Task Force, HRC, Many Others, Congress Slows Down ENDA


From 365gay.com:
Vote on ENDA delayed as LGBT pressure mounts


More news as it breaks.

If this is true, it's all the more important for you (us!) to call our Representatives and urge them to come out in favor of the trans-inclusive ENDA. Frank and Pelosi are giving us time to get the votes we need to pass this thing - so let's get them.

Open thread about ENDA.

I don't know how many of you are following the current situation with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), but basically it looks like it will go forward without protections for gender identity. There's some coverage here and here. Here is HRC's statement.

So, what do you think? How do you feel? What coverage are we missing? What blogs have written on this? What should we do?

Post comments, links, whatever. I feel like we need to start talking about this.

See a previous Quench post with more background on ENDA here.