March 27, 2008

Funny thing share

Anyone else read Mikhaela Reid's blog/cartoons?

Here is one she posted this one recently.


Here's one that's a little older.



What political humor do you read regularly? Please share with me as I am in need of entertainment/procrastination/a pick-me-up.

Media Says: "Trans people are trying to trick us but we have them figured out."

You may have read some of the avalanche of mainstream press following Thomas Beatie's Advocate article about his experience of pregnancy as a transman. It's a pretty good article and I appreciate that he wrote it himself - I'm not sure I would trust an Advocate writer to get the story right.

In any case, the mainstream media has jumped on their usual themes that they love to write about trans folks. Hawaii News, in a news story, not an editorial, has a variety of opinions about Mr. Beatie. First of all, they call him "she," I guess because they think they have him all figured out. In fact, unlike any scientist, health professional, or trans person I know, Hawaii News knows exactly what made him trans and why he decided to transition. Instead of asking Mr. Beatie or reading his article, they say that a friend said "[he] got the sex change because Hawaii's laws did not support same sex marriage."

Oh really? It's so easy to get a therapist who will support your transition, to find a knowledgeable, willing, and affordable endochronologist, to find a surgeon, to pay out of pocket for a major procedure that isn't covered that people just do it to trick the system and to get around a law.

Again, don't interviwe Mr. Beatie. Instead, interview a neighbor and claim. "Not everyone in the neighborhood is buying the story."

So Hawaii news writes a story about someone and without talking to him, determines that his identity and pregnancy are both a hoax. Great job.

Thing That is Awkward

Click to read the full comic...

Sent to me by a friend.

March 24, 2008

What would/do you do: Stupid disability-related conversations

(Note from M.E.: I'm posting this at the request of another Quenchista who's requested more than the usual level of anonymity. Just for a little bit of background, the original author is the partner of a person with a disability; this post discusses two types of conversations about disability that the author typically has with third parties. Everything after I close these parentheses will be the words of the post's original author. I think it's really interesting and thought-provoking; so I hope you enjoy and contribute!)

I want to preface this with my understanding that people aren’t given tools or practice talking about disability in positive or transformative ways, or even in humanizing ways.


Conversation type 1: In which I’m in a good mood and I indulge your questions:

Supposedly well-meaning Person (SWMP): Is his disability genetic?

Me: Yes

SWMP: Is there a cure?

Me: Not yet.

SWMP: So if you have kids… Like… You know… So if you have kids…

Me: We aren’t really interested in kids.

SWMP: But if you did..

Me: Yes?

SWMP: You know…

Me: No?

SWMP: Would they… have… that… gene?

Me: If one has kids in the traditional two partners and their egg and sperm way, then there is genetic material from both people.

SWMP: So then how can you plan to stay with him the rest of your life?


Conversation type 2: When I’m not in a good mood (probably too many type 1 conversations):

SWMP: Is his disability genetic?

Me: Why do you want to know?

SWMP: Well, you know, just if, well, you know, will your kids…

Me: Be nerds? If we have them, probably yes, since we are both nerds.

SWMP: That’s not what I meant.

Me: Oh? What did you mean?

SWMP: About the… you know… the disability?

Me: We are not having this conversation. You might want to think about what you are implying when you bring up this topic in this way.

SWMP: Well, I know that you and X think that disability should be something that is open and that people can talk about. I think that it’s anti-intellectual that you insist we can’t have this conversation.


Here are some comments that I have for these SWMPs. What would you add? With what do you disagree?

  1. You do not have some unique insight to recognize that something genetic passes down to children. It’s not rocket science. In fact, as you probably might guess if you thought us to be at least as intelligent as third graders, that this is something we had already talked about.

  2. Your implication that the worst tragedy in the world would be for someone to exist that has a quality in common with a person I love is hurtful and offensive.

  3. Even if there is some possibility that we may have kids at some point in the future, please don’t discount families that don’t have kids by assuming everyone plans to even when they state that they don’t..

  4. If you are going to bring up someone’s disability and talk about it, at least pretend that it doesn’t make you incredibly uncomfortable to say the name of the disability or the word disability. I am not your father or your kindergarten teacher – I will not complete your sentences for you just because you appear uncomfortable.

  5. Remember when your second grade teacher told you that there were no stupid questions? Well, now you’re an adult and the rules have changed. Some questions are stupid. For example: “Does that mean if he ummm like gets run over by a car he will get badly hurt or die?”

  6. Why oh why do you say things to me that you would never say to my partner? Maybe you should trust your instincts more and if you have an instinct not to say it to him, then just keep your mouth shut. On the flip side, I think that a lot of times people are too intimidated to talk and ask the questions they need to ask – sometimes you should think the other way around: if it’s okay to ask me, why not ask him and go straight to the source. Say, for example, you invite him to a party and want to know whether he can get up your 3 flights of stairs on his crutches – I’m not mad at you for asking me, but you can actually ask him directly, too. (Oh, and just so you know, we make it a game and keep an informal score on our acquaintances and how many questions they ask each of us about the disability in question. Actually you should ask me all of your questions, because I am already kicking ass in this game and you will help my score.) I do have to admit that there have been times when I have said “I don’t know, ask him,” when the truth was that I knew the exact answer and just hoped that maybe if I said it in a somewhat standoffish way, the person would realize that next time they should ask the right person.

  7. If you want to talk about disability, can’t we at least talk about something interesting? Read a book or something? (Anything by Eli Clare for example). And I know it’s asking a lot but could it even be something that doesn’t assume that people with disabilities are worthless, or even worse than that that their existence or potential future existence is the world’s worst tragedy? I don’t even like babies much but I recognize their births as things many people celebrate and certainly wouldn’t think of them as inherently tragic.


What would you have said/do you say in situations like 1 and 2? What if the person is a friend? What if it’s an acquaintance? Someone you just met?

What are other similar awkward situations? I know that my partner gets asked similarly awkward questions about my transness.

"My partner deserves to be respected and protected. "

One of the people who testified at the hearing for HB1722 was "Bri," the author of today's guest blog post.

Here, she shares her experience testifying on behalf of the bill that would extend legal nondiscrimination and hate crimes protections to transgender and gender-non-conforming people in Massachusetts:

When I arrived at the state house at 11:30am, the large crowd overwhelmed me. I couldn't believe the turn out for HB 1722, I was so proud to be a part of this moment, this memory, this incredible struggle. I was there for all of my friends, my family, myself, my partner, and everyone who has or will ever have a gender identity...as variant or conforming as it may be. Being in the testimony room was tough, I could barely hear, I was sweating as if I had just run a marathon and I had more anxiety than I could handle. I waited patiently, watching the movements, feeling the emotion and taking in the atmosphere. As the hours flew by, I was nervous not everyone would be heard. With testimony until 11:30pm, the committee did hear the range of support. At 10:05pm, they called my name. I became instantly nervous. My hands became even clammier and I felt the sweat increase. My testimony felt different from the others I had heard, it felt incredibly intimate and revealing, but at the same time, I knew I had to be vulnerable and share my deepest feelings. It may have been that I couldn't hear much of the hearing, but I think there was only one other partner that testified, and I had to give partner's a strong voice. I testified as a partner of a trans guy. I testified for my partner. I testified for us.

My name is Bri, and I am the partner of a trans guy. I met my partner over four years ago while living in Colorado and attending college. Our love was instantaneous as well as his admission to me that he was not a lesbian but a trans guy, and that he wished at some point to medically and socially transition, of course with his own plan and on his own path. I knew from the moment he uttered the words that I would be there for him, by his side, supporting his every desire. He wasn't as confident. He was convinced that his only option was to run away and transition alone; begin a new life with his new identity, and cut – off all ties. He felt that the pain of running away from everything he knew and loved was far less than the pain he would cause his family by transitioning.


Not long after I began speaking, I felt tears fill my eyes. I had to pause.

I can't tell you why I became so selfless, but from the moment I met my partner, I was dedicated to making him feel comfortable in his own skin. I wanted to see his brilliant personality shine through his fears and regain control over his life. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart, he loved me and he wanted to believe me, but as a trans person, he knew it wasn't easy. I knew it wasn't easy. Almost daily I would wake up and ask him which pronoun and name he wished to use for the day. We used baby steps. Some days he was confident with "he" and walked around like he conquered the world. Other days it was just too much and I simply avoided all pronouns, because I knew the pain it caused him to hear "she." Our relationship is beautiful. It is the healthiest commitment I have ever taken part in. We communicate about every detail, we respect one another, we listen to each other's expectations, we support one another through each other's obstacles. I couldn't have brought home a better partner to mom and dad.

At this moment, I couldn't control the tears in my eyes or the wavering in my voice… I paused multiple times. When I finally I looked up, it was the most incredible feeling, all members of the committee were staring into my eyes feeling what I was telling them. At least two members had tears in their eyes. I knew at that moment, they will always remember my story...and I hope they use it to make the decision they know is best.

But it was and remain very painful. He would look into my eyes tell me he loved me. But it was always followed with, "one day you will wake up and realize that this is more than you bargained for." My heart broke every time he uttered those words. I can't imagine the pain he felt and the rejection he harbored in his heart to even fathom that I would be willing to abandon him purely because he intended to express his gender identity differently than before. It isn't fair. It isn't fair at all.

Our daily lives were impacted by his transition. Our first major obstacle was finding a new apartment. This feat was much like getting a hotel room while traveling. If we stopped to sleep, I was always the one to get us a room. Hotels never give us the same response regarding vacancy...there are only rooms when I ask. When we searched for our first apartment we were scared whether we would find a place that was safe or if our landlord would place financial burdens on us or create an unsafe environment. While we were lucky and had a terrific experience the first time, we have decades and several new places in our future.

Our travel arrangements were and continue to be affected. We grapple with whether he should shave his face and attempt to recoup any sign of femininity just so he doesn't set off any alarms, because his passport and ID have an F marker and he visibly looks like an M.

Health care is of particular concern to us. Yes it is a huge deal to remain covered by insurance for medical exams, access to hormones, and preparation for emergencies; but getting to a safe doctor is as far as we ever get. He has to make sure and schedule appointments around my schedule so I can attend every appointment with him. He needs a witness as well as someone to advocate on his behalf. Before we met, we wasn't so lucky. He was the victim of unfair, unsafe, disgusting, practices that violated his personal dignity.

The biggest fear and scariest thought we have is violence. As members of the queer community he and I have both been subjected to our fair share of verbal abuse, poor service at restaurants, and threatened physical violence; but as a trans guy and a gender non conforming person, he is at a higher risk. I can't sugar coat my feelings or pretend that violence is something we don't have to ever worry about, but I am always nervous when an unidentified number pops up on my phone. Is this going to be the call? We live hours a part and when he doesn't answer his phone I am nervous. When you love someone that is a member of a targeted group for violence, it isn't easy to ignore or suppress your own fears and thoughts. The violence and oppression faced by transgender and gender queer communities is real.

My partner has struggled to be where he is today. He fought long and hard to live comfortably, and I still think he isn't quite there yet. But he is only close to his end goal because of support from his family, friends and community members. His fears still plague his mind. Will he have a hard time looking for a job after completing his PhD? Will we continue to face struggles in finding safe housing? My partner deserves to be respected and protected. No one should live in fear of being unable to obtain necessities. We must put our fears to rest and begin understanding acknowledging the importance of protecting the gender identity aspect of a person's being.

He didn't leave. He didn't disappear to transition, he has made every step right next to me. He realized that there is no greater pain in the world than being alone. He knew he had to risk losing his family based on their feelings and choices. It is our choice whether we are prepared for his changes. No one has left his side, people have only held him closer. I could have never imagined leaving because he is the most beautiful, genuine and compassionate person I have ever met.

I will tell you, my partner is more than I bargained for, this relationship is more than I bargained for. It has brought me more joy, love and compassion than anything I could have ever imagined.

When I got up to leave from the table, my legs were shaking and I was crying. I had just laid my life on the table for these people to hear, judge, and possibly dismiss. I was angry that my soul could be ignored by the people that are supposed to protect us. I hoped that my words permeated their hearts and would remain a story they could feel forever.

You can read previous Quench posts about HB1722 here, here and here.

March 18, 2008

Southern Poverty Law Center's Map of Extremists in MA

Hm, look at who is on the Southern Poverty Law Center's map of extremists in Massachusetts... our favourite fan, Mass Resistance!

March 16, 2008

When Girls Will Be Boys

Predictable title: NYT published an article today entitled "When Girls Will Be Boys" about transmen. Haven't finished it yet. What do you think of it?

Stuff Lesbians Like

One of our faithful Quench readers has started a new blog: "Stuff Lesbians Like." Highlights include craigslist, mourning dead or otherwise departed L Word characters and popped collars. Enjoy!

March 12, 2008

HIV+ people can't travel to the U.S. Think that's fair?

(Posted at the request of a friend...)



Hey folks,

I need to ask you a favor. Could you please take a minute and call your elected officials about something? Currently, there is a travel ban in place that prohibits most HIV+ folks from traveling to the U.S. The United States Congress is taking up this issue via two bills - H.R. 3337 (House of Representatives) and S. 2486 (Senate) respectively. Please contact your elected officials' offices and ask to register a legislative comment in support of the respective bills that would reverse the ban.

To get the contact information for your elected officials, enter your zip code here on the left side: http://votesmart.org/official_congress.php?dist=bio.php

If you can't get a hold of a staff member at their local offices, don't be afraid to call the Washington, DC office.

We now know how HIV is transmitted and it isn't airborne or via travel. It's time to remove these old rules and let HIV+ people come to the U.S. Your voice is needed to make this a reality.




Indeed.

For Cantabrigians, by the way, your congresscritters are as follows:
  • Rep. Mike Capuano: 617-621-6208 (Cambridge); 202-225-5111 (DC)
  • Sen. Ted Kennedy: 617-565-3170 (Boston); 877-472-9014 (toll-free); 202-224-4543 (DC)
  • Sen. John F. Kerry: 617-565-8519 (Boston); 202-224-2742 (DC)

March 11, 2008

Interesting article on asexuality

Hey guys,

Check this out. I read it today in the London paper and I think it is useful for those interested in asexuality and in resources for asexuals. The text is below and the link is here as well if you click on the title of this post. :)

**********************************************

Asexual desire is just another kind of love

by Luke Tebbutt. Tuesday, 11 March 2008


When Paul Cox and Amanda, from Camden, married last year, they continued their celebrations in their honeymoon suite. But they had no desire for some "alone time".

Instead, they played Scrabble with friends who brought sleeping bags to spend the night with them. They didn't have sex before marriage, and didn't intend to start that night. Paul, 23, an MSc anthropology student and Amanda, 22, a freelance journalist, are asexual.

Asexuality is a self-styled label of choice for people who are celibate. While this is nothing new, what is novel is the idea that these people can form a community with an official network. Paul and Amanda are members of Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), a forum where everything from non-sexual dating to how to tell your friends and family are discussed.

AVEN was set up in 2001 by 18-year-old American David Jay, who spent years struggling with his asexuality. "I wanted to reach out to people and create discussion, because I didn't see it getting talked about openly," he says. There are London meet-ups, websites in 11 languages and a membership of around 18,000, a figure that Jay says is "steadily increasing all the time".

Paul and Amanda met through AVEN two years ago when they were both living in New York.

Paul had just arrived for the final term of his anthropology degree and met Amanda through the forum. She offered to show him around the city. Since then they have only shared hugs and kisses.

"As friends, we had a chemistry straight away," says Paul, although both say their first encounter wasn't a date. Still, after three months of spending most of their time together, they admitted their relationship had become serious.

Paul says this helped affirm their partnership. "It was more of a commitment, rather than just spending all our time together." From then on, "it was a rare night that we didn't stay together," says Paul.

By May last year they were engaged and on 30 December they married with more than 100 friends and family attending. "Our reasons for marriage were no different from a sexual couple," says Paul. "Sex can be an important part of the relationship that leads to getting married, but it's not the part you're attempting to fulfil by getting married."

Even though they are celibate they still plan to have children. "We like the idea of adopting," says Paul, who is hopeful that his children will grow up with a greater awareness of asexuality.

"Eventually kids will learn about asexuality like they learn about homosexuality and bisexuality," he says. "Today's generation of asexuals had to go through a lot of confusion, not having had that."

The next AVEN London two-monthly meet-up is on 7 April, asexuality.org

March 10, 2008

OK State Rep. Sally Kern: Homosexuality "the biggest threat our nation has"




Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.



Ohh, Rep. Kern. It's times like these I wish I believed in your Heaven; it seems like the only place I can be sure of never meeting you.

March 08, 2008

YEAAH.

An updated report on the hearing for HB1722:

The turnout was AWESOME. There were at least a hundred supporters in the State House almost all day, wearing "Trans Rights Now!" stickers and helping out. They stuck it out despite the hot and crowded hearing room, and the long wait. Tons of really great people expressed their support of the bill, including new Cambridge mayor Denise Simmons, Boston mayor Thomas Menino, Governor Deval Patrick, and legislative sponsors Representative Carl Sciortino and Representative Byron Rushing.

I thought a particularly great testimony was from Jennifer Levi, a senior staff attorney at GLAD. She spoke about "discomfort" being raised as an objection to non-discrimination laws, and the importance of such laws for exactly that reason. Here's what she said:



You can also check out her thoughts on testifying and written testimony.

Great work, everyone. We are one step closer to equal rights for trans people in Massachusetts!

Update: MTPC has a video compilation of testimony up now.

March 07, 2008

Free Transgender Legal Clinic - Get Legal Info / Give Legal Info

To me, the essence of community is to give what we have and to take what we need.

In Boston, there is a free legal clinic for low income transgender people called Massachusetts Transgender Legal Advocates.

If you are a low income transgender person with legal questions, check out their website transgenderlegaladvocates.org in order to figure out how to access their services. (If you are looking for general information about the laws as they relate to transgender people, I recommend GLAD's Transgender Issues site.)

If you are a lawyer, transgenderlegaladvocates.org will explain to you how you can volunteer your skills and knowledge as a consultant.

If you are a law student or new lawyer, transgenderlegaladvocates.org will explain how you can volunteer your skills as an advocate.

MTLA will likely soon put out a call for volunteer translators so if you speak English and another language, keep your eyes peeled.

We don't necessarily need to have a big organization to meet our community's needs, and in the case of legal needs for low income transgender people, we don't have one. Sometimes sharing information, skills, and resources is a pretty big step towards getting everyone what they need.

March 05, 2008

Ron Sullivan's Words of Wisdom

There's a post up at I Blame the Patriarchy which I found via Ginmar that quotes Ron Sullivan:

One thing an old broad like me has seen many many many times already is some huffulacious oh-so-sincere dude walking in to a group of women almost at random and telling them
a/ what they should be doing in their free time;
b/ how to do it right;
c/ how to be feminists;
d/ why he has their best interests at heart, really;
e/ why he's qualified to give them orders;
f/ that they're intolerant, which is self-evidently a Bad Thing;
g/ that they're preaching to the choir (and the biggest surprise is that they're preaching);
h/ that some of his best fucks are women;
i/ how to be better feminists;
j/ that they're not serious enough;
k/ that his wife thinks he's the greatest;
l/ what God thinks;
m/ why whatever he's doing this month is more important then feminism;
n/ that feminism is boo-zhwah, and that's self-evidently a Bad Thing;
o/ that they're shrill - wow, I almost forgot shrill;
p/ that they can't pee standing up;
q/ that they should be ashamed of themselves;
r/ that they just don't welcome open and vigorous debate;
s/ that he needs a beer (this is followed by an expectant silence);
t/ that they're taking everything he said wrong;
u/ that they're unreasonable;
v/ that they're ~touchy~;
w/ that they've never said anything about oppression of women in (choose sauce: Iraq, Afghanistan, China, sub-Saharan Africa, the southeastern USA, the ghet-to, Brazil, Antarctica)
x/ that they should apologize to him because his parents had him circumcised;
y/ that he Is Too A Feminist (which evidently means something);
z/ how they should transcend feminism and embrace humanism.

Pick any two menu items and get the third half-price; pick any three and get the fourth free. With five you get a can of wine. And if you're the guy in question, you get a free hot cup of Shut the Fuck Up.

Ginmar is right: "Too good not to share".

Update

Hi everyone!

The hearing yesterday for HB1722, the trans nondiscrimination bill, had great turnout. There were so many incredible people who testified on behalf of the bill. Stay tuned for a longer post soon!

Thank you to everyone who showed up and spoke out for equality. It was really incredible.