Recently, the US government sued North Carolina over HB2, the restroom bill. I found that the section that describes transgender people remarkably enlightened, and included things that I hadn’t known until entirely too recently. Thus, I’ve included paragraphs 30-42 from the court filing here. (Link to original document.)
](/images/2016/04/tyler-glenn-neon-trees-kobbydagan.jpg)Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees performs on stage at the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival Village on September 20 in Las Vegas. Photo © 2014 by kobbydagan and used under license.
Ellora’s Cave founder Tina Engler (pseudonym: Jaid Black) flounced off Twitter after being called out on her Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings beliefs (that it was a romantic relationship and the two were married) and her transphobic comments.
Yesterday was quite the day. Too bad I screencapped the wrong stuff, missed half of the best stuff, and lost bandwidth entirely just as @pubnt returned.
The Anne Rice Facebook post issue was still going sideways.
So there’s a new book (short story length, apparently) about Thomas Jefferson and (his slave) Sally Hemings and their BDSM “relationship.” It’s paranormal.
Jaid Black/Tina Engler got involved in this one.
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK? “historical context of the times” It’s called rape. 200 years ago IT WAS STILL RAPE! pic.twitter.com/jtyNyjdGhp
— Jeanne (@fangirlJeanne) March 11, 2015
— Alisha Rai (@AlishaRai) March 11, 2015
And so did Jenny Trout, who doxed the hell out of it far more than I could on limited internet time/bandwidth while away from home.
The earlier start to this is last week’s Stephanie Dray incident, covered by Jeanne here and Aya de Leon here. Both cover a lot of similar ground, but both are worth reading. Updated to add this link: Roslyn Holcomb? What she said.
Today’s piece that ties all of these things together, though, complete with a neat little bow, is this one from Moonlight Reader:
And that, my friends, is the hill that Anne Rice has chosen to die on. She hates Jenny Trout so much that she will support that crap over Jenny. And she hates the “bullies” so much than anything that they think is bad, she must go on record as calling good. Even if that thing that is “good” is a disgusting rape fic about a 14-year-old black enslaved person who was raped by her 44 year old white owner for decades.
And, in related news:
— Karlyn P (@KarLyn_P) March 11, 2015
About Thomas Jefferson and his slaves: the Marquis de Lafayette bequeathed TJ money so he could afford to free his slaves. TJ didn’t.
— Deirdre Saoirse Moen (@deirdresm) March 11, 2015
Correction: it was Thaddeus Kosciuszko.
— At a Glance Romance (@ataglanceRMC) March 12, 2015
First, let’s have a trans* man speak, shall we?
— Logo TV (@LogoTV) March 12, 2015
Jaid Black/Tina Engler also showed her transphobic ass yesterday.
— Alisha Rai (@AlishaRai) March 11, 2015
Don’t say you’re 100% for trans rights when you think this is the definition of being trans. pic.twitter.com/UrrE4YPxEW
— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) March 11, 2015
TW for transphobia: Don’t tell me you “100% support trans rights” when you liked this post on Facebook. pic.twitter.com/9k81x9iuQM
— Courtney Milan (@courtneymilan) March 11, 2015
There’s more, but I didn’t screencap it all.
First: what Courtney said.
I wrote a piece last year about my evolution in thinking about transgender folks. About three decades ago, when I first learned about trans issues, pretty much everyone was railroaded into being pre-op or post-op.
The trans* community doesn’t all fit into neat categories that cis people like Tina Engler/Jaid Black define, though. Nor should they.
Hell, Jaid’s definitions don’t even cover a lot of the biologically intersexed, which my husband covered rather well in an essay on the definitional problems of “man” and “woman”. While this was written to point out how flawed Prop 8 was, every bit is just as true today.
Tired of being called out (for good reason), Tina Engler decided to delete the @JaidBlack Twitter account.
As you probably heard, the majority in the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) ruled against equal marriage.
The dissent is blistering. It starts on p. 43.
Here’s the opening:
The author of the majority opinion has drafted what would make an engrossing TED Talk or, possibly, an introductory lecture in Political Philosophy. But as an appellate court decision, it wholly fails to grapple with the relevant constitutional question in this appeal: whether a state’s constitutional prohibition of same-sex marriage violates equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
And here’s the closing:
More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to “administer justice without respect to persons,” to “do equal right to the poor and to the rich,” and to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. § 453. If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams.
I’ve seen a few statements of no confidence in the majority opinion before, but none so thorough.
One more paragraph, from p. 61 (close to the end):
Moreover, as it turns out, legalization of same-sex marriage in the “nineteen states and the District of Columbia” mentioned by the majority was not uniformly the result of popular vote or legislative enactment. Nine states now permit same-sex marriage because of judicial decisions, both state and federal: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Mexico, and Colorado (state supreme court decisions); New Jersey (state superior court decision not appealed by defendant); California (federal district court decision allowed to stand in ruling by United States Supreme Court); and Oregon and Pennsylvania (federal district court decisions not appealed by defendants). Despite the majority’s insistence that, as life-tenured judges, we should step aside and let the voters determine the future of the state constitutional provisions at issue here, those nine federal and state courts have seen no acceptable reason to do so. In addition, another 16 states have been or soon will be added to the list, by virtue of the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari review in Kitchen, Bostick, and Baskin, and the Court’s order dissolving the stay in Latta. The result has been the issuance of hundreds—perhaps thousands—of marriage licenses in the wake of those orders. Moreover, the 35 states that are now positioned to recognize same- sex marriage are comparable to the 34 states that permitted interracial marriage when the Supreme Court decided Loving. If the majority in this case is waiting for a tipping point, it seems to have arrived.
My friend Deana pointed out that, as of today, there are 18 states (plus D.C.) who offer equal marriage, and an additional 7 states where marriages are on hold pending appeals.
That’s half the states, folks.
Plus Illinois will start issuing licenses on June 1, and we’re expecting to hear from Pennsylvania tomorrow.
As a note, I prefer the term “equal” marriage to “gay” marriage or “same-sex” marriage as the latter two erase, among others, those who may feel like they have straight relationships, but their biology is complex.
Note: Fixed link, which was broken initially. Oops!
I don’t know how many of you know who Kate is. I’ve known of her for quite a few years, but it was only a couple of years ago that I realized she was also an ex-Scn.
Here’s a long piece in the Village Voice written when her book A Queer and Pleasant Danger came out. Long story short: she’s one of the few trans* people to come out about their experiences in Scientology, and the first to be really public about it. She transitioned in the 80s. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she legally changed her name to Kate on the very day that L. Ron Hubbard died.
Kate describes, perhaps better than anyone has before, what it was like to become a dedicated Sea Org member during Scientology’s more freewheeling heyday. – Tony Ortega
Of the Sea Org members who’ve worked directly with L. Ron Hubbard in some capacity, Kate’s the third to write and publish their story. (Nancy Many and Jefferson Hawkins are the other two.)
Anyhow, she has lung cancer. Or, more accurately, her lung cancer’s back. She’s got a fundraiser going on. If you’re inclined to donate, here’s the link. If not, I recommend her book.
Kate’s Twitter, where you can verify that link comes from her.
Kate’s blog, which is currently down due to a Typepad DDoS.
Here’s a video of Kate reading from her book.
There is a point to this saga, so bear with me….
Once upon a time, I was dating a guy. We were talking about wedding things. Then, seemingly suddenly, we broke up. Some months later, after I’d started dating someone else, my ex came out to me as trans.
It was really hard in part because it was so long ago. This was pre-Internet. The only trans* person I’d ever heard of was Wendy Carlos. Who is still as amazing as ever. And I really couldn’t get over the feeling of being inadequate and being dumped, which just got wrapped up in how I felt about my ex being trans.
Now, despite all that, I kept my struggles about it mostly to myself. I distinctly remember, not long after she told me, that I said to myself, “You still love her as a friend. She’s going to lose some other friends, at least for now, and—don’t be that person.”
So, for a while, she went to her day job as male and wasn’t out, and then, after a time, she came out there too.
Years pass, and I still thought of her with three distinct sets of pronouns: male from the early part of knowing her; male and female, context-dependent, for her transition period; and female after.
I’ve known a few trans* people since and been a helpful ear and person when I could be. For example, a former colleague had been trying to use the right bathroom in an office building where someone was rabidly anti-trans, and I would escort my colleague to prevent bullying by this person (who worked for a different company on the same floor). I’m not saying this to get a cookie, just pointing out that I was generally trying to have a clue before the next paragraph….
Then I’m online one night in a chat room with a friend who had recently come out, and, well, I was an asshat about him being trans. I hadn’t meant to be an asshat, there were just things I hadn’t moved past, and I hadn’t really realized how much I’d failed to understand.
Instead of just being defensive about it (though I was defensive in the moment), I realized I didn’t know enough trans people. I’d just happened to know the ones I’d run across over the years. So I made a point of reading more trans stories and getting to know more trans* people. Obviously I had some big issues.
I kind of expected a moment of clarity, but that honestly didn’t arrive until last week.
A few years ago, I had a shift in how I thought about my ex’s pronouns when I started working with her brother. It really forced me to think of her as female for the entire time I knew her so that I wouldn’t accidentally out her if she came up as a topic of conversation around others. There were still some moments where the pronoun still would have been male — but I wasn’t likely to be talking about those. She was a Vietnam vet in a context where that wouldn’t have been a woman’s role. And then there were the private moments. But, apart from those, she was female in my mind. It felt better, honestly, but there was still a little voice at the back of my head.
One of the change moments for me was reading the phrase “gender confirmation surgery” in one of the pieces about Janet Mock’s recent interview debacle.
And I went, “huh.”
But the clarity didn’t come until I read this post in The Guardian, specifically this paragraph (emphasis added):
Whether discussing a person’s past, present or future, only use the correct pronouns for their gender. A person’s gender generally does not change. Public presentation may change in transition and secondary sex characteristics may change with the aid of hormones and/or surgery, but one’s sense of being either male or female is, in most cases, constant throughout life.
What I realized was that I was making the very fundamental error with my ex of using the pronouns of her gender as I experienced them. Not as she experienced them.
And the pronouns should be as she experienced them.
A lot of things fell into place for me after that.
A lot of people have said they wouldn’t watch the Olympics because of Russia’s stance on LGBT issues.
It’s been really hard for me, and that’s why I’ve taken so long to write this. In general, I watch only the Olympics when it comes to sports. The last live sporting event I saw was the U.S. Figure Skating Championships when they were in San Jose a couple years back.
I remember being that horse-struck teenager who saved up money from an early job to get lessons from a really great dressage rider. I remember getting to ride an Olympic horse. He had quite the sense of humor, that one.
And I remember later figuring out that winter sports really were my thing even though I don’t particularly like being cold. And that I got in a lot of trouble (which I will write about later) for arranging things to usurp the last slot of a great ice dance teacher. She’d been the partner of a guy who tended to cut the balance a little close; her career had ended when his fall spiral fractured her leg. He later went on to skate in national and international competitions with a subsequent partner. She was stuck standing around in moon boots with people like me trying to do school figures. And stuff.
Sadly, that knee that gives me fits now? If only I’d known it was defective then. I competed on it, which no doubt helped a bunch. Not.
I’ve only ever seen one winter Olympics event live. I happened to have an interview with Alphasmart, who was looking for a Mac programmer. The first round of interviews had gone well. Could I go to the Salt Lake area for a final round? Sure. In February 2002? Absolutely.
Airline tickets for the Olympics were inobtanium at any kind of reasonable price, but I was going to get to go for free? Bonus.
So I asked them to fly me on the first flight out and the last flight back, which they did. I paid for the women’s hockey semifinals ticket. The US won against Sweden, 4-0.
I don’t know how many people I know have ever seriously studied an Olympic sport or ever seriously hoped to compete. I did. I have a clue how much work it is, and that’s why I feel it’s so disrespectful to all the athletes who put in such hard work for so many years to boycott the games — especially since some of them are LGBT.
So here’s my thought: I’m going to root for the countries who have great LGBT policies to win as many medals as possible. And let’s give an extra cheer for all the LGBT athletes, out or not, and hope they win something really special.
I wish it weren’t Russia and fucking Olympics politics again. In 1980, 65 countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics. What’s really struck me, though, is how much freer generally the people in the former Soviet Union are now than they were then—and that’s the other reason a boycott is difficult for me. I remember the stories about how difficult it was for artists, musicians, dancers, and athletes to travel back then.
A lot can change in 34 years, but a lot still has to, too.
I’ve never written up the specific incident that made gay marriage/equal marriage so important to me, but I think it’s time. I’ve mentioned some of the benefits I got from being married in my post How I Got Married and Donated a Liver, and allude to this story, but I thought it would be off-point for me to put it into that post. It’s true that I’m one of those socially liberal types and had no problem with gays having equal rights before, but I wasn’t really aboard with marriage (as a civil, legal institution) for anyone until after all this happened.
After Richard died from a stroke, I joined a mailing list for people with a common interest in strokes: medical professionals, survivors, loved ones of people who’d both survived and perished from strokes.
One man on the list had been living with his sweetie, who’d had a stroke. They’d had durable power of attorney for healthcare paperwork signed. His sweetie’s family was very homophobic, so they got the paperwork the couple had signed overruled and banned the man from his sweetie’s hospital and recovery.
Catch is, the sweetie had had long-term memory loss. He couldn’t, for example, remember that he needed to use a walker. So he kept asking his family over and over where his loved one was. Day after day after day, unable to remember the answer he’d gotten. One heartbreak after another.
That? Sounds like hell to me. It’s also incredibly evil on the part of the family.
It made me realize that we really did need a legal relationship for gay couples that was legally stronger than blood. Like marriage is.
So I’m incredibly happy with the four states and their ballot initiatives on gay marriage, and that the tide is really starting to turn in groundshaking ways. Thanks to all of you who support gay rights. May there be fewer situations like the sweetie’s going forward, and, one day, may there be none.
“And failing to address the still everyday use of the word “gay” as a playground insult is also inexcusable. Those who do eventually realise that they’re gay find that the word which describes them has been used – unchallenged – as a proxy for anything that’s useless or rubbish for half their childhoods. There’s now firm evidence of the damage it does to young people’s self-esteem.”
Rick mailed me a link to this graphic this morning. Though I’m not sure of its provenance, it is brilliant.
Once upon a time, I was Libertarian enough that I didn’t really care about getting married, and I didn’t particularly want a state license for a relationship. However, I wound up in a relationship where a marriage license was important to the other person, and so we got married in June, 1996.
I didn’t really think it was a super-big thing until November, 1996 when my husband suddenly had a stroke, and I called the ambulance and followed behind in my car. I went to the check-in desk for the ER, said I was his wife, and filled out the paperwork.
This was around 2:30 in the morning.
At no point was my ID asked for. At no point did I have to provide proof of being married to him. Granted, it wasn’t a big city, and the ambulance driver was our downstairs neighbor. My husband had been a reporter for the local newspaper, so his name was known.
Mine, however, wasn’t really; I’d moved to the Northeast Kingdom (of Vermont) 2-1/2 years before.
I was next of kin. The only other legal next of kin Richard had was his eldest son, who wasn’t yet 19.
The hospital called a minister who sat with me, and was there when the ER doc gave the very frank assessment that my husband was dead, but they couldn’t declare him legally dead for some hours because they lacked expensive equipment to do more extensive tests; they had to declare based on a series of EEGs taken over a period of 12 hours. Or maybe it was 24. It seemed forever.
They’d tried to provoke any kind of reaction through deep pain, and got no EEG change. Several large bruises covered arms and upper body, and when I looked at Richard, it was clear to me that he wasn’t going to be coming back.
The ER doc asked if I’d considered organ donation, and I talked about it with the minister after the doc went back to tend to Richard. I spoke with the New England Organ Bank. Frankly, it was one of the easiest decisions I’d ever made to donate his organs, because the opportunity to help someone who was gravely ill seemed practical and humane.
What I truly wasn’t prepared for was the process. The phone call with the NEOB lasted an hour. I spoke in the middle of the night with a volunteer answering all kinds of personal questions about my husband’s sexual history, his travel history, all kinds of things that aren’t that easy to know about someone you’re not currently living with. Some of them will be easy for most people: malaria risk. Some, such as specific STD risk practices, will be more difficult to know with absolute certainty. Other people’s lives depend on the answers, so it’s important to be accurate. Organs degrade with every minute, so it’s important to be quick.
Even though I had said they could use whatever they needed, legal and ethical guidelines meant they had to go over each and every body part, including some I’d never even thought of in the context of organ donations; some of the requests were about research rather than direct donation and thus had to be addressed with separate disclaimers.
Gall bladder for experimental transplant. Check.
Saphenous veins. Check.
It’s those kinds of things that made it exhausting, above and beyond the fact that I’d been about to go to sleep when he’d had his stroke, I was exhausted even then, and now it was two or three hours later.
Further logistics happened, including the arrival of Richard’s family and friends, and the organ bank called about a helicopter. They wanted to airlift him to the transplant hospital sooner rather than later because they could declare him dead sooner and thus prevent organ decay. I okayed that, but I worried that Richard’s eldest son wouldn’t arrive in time — there was a horrible snowstorm and he was across the state in the worst possible direction as far as road travel went.
Fortunately, everything happened in the right order, and for a while the waiting room was filled with me, two of Richard’s ex-wives, and his three kids by them.
The NEOB kept in contact with me. What they didn’t say, but I’d figured out, was that Richard’s heart was failing during the process and that’s one reason they wanted to move him.
So they prepped him for his move and off he went to a transplant hospital. The only transplant I heard about that actually occurred was a liver transplant. His heart, kidneys, pancreas weren’t donatable, but his lungs and corneas were. (Those are the nine donatable organs as they enumerated them at the time, six of them — heart, lungs, liver, kidneys — are the “major” organ transplants.)
Some time later, a thank-you letter arrived from the liver transplant recipient’s son, written in ballpoint on a yellow legal pad. I still keep that letter. It shouldn’t have, but he disclosed his name and his father’s name, and thus I know that his father is still alive twelve years later. I know that his father had an incredibly rare liver disease, and the good fortune to be a tissue match for Richard’s liver when it became available.
Later, after Richard’s death, I found out that loved ones who weren’t married, even those with durable powers of attorney for health care, were frequently shut out of the process, hassled by the hospital, and blocks were put up to the loved one being able to actually do something about it.
Just recently, one partner in lesbian couple in Fresno who’d signed all the right paperwork was barred from making medical decisions about her loved one. Fortunately, her partner lived, but what if that couple had been in the situation that me and my late husband were in?
What if someone waiting for an organ (or another donation) was deprived of the opportunity of life or health because of that? Because the hospital stalled?
Being married meant I had the opportunity, at a time of need, to help someone who would have died. (It’s also possible that, had logistics permitted, his son would have stepped up as next of kin had Richard not been married. I don’t know what would have happened at that time.)
Why would anyone deprive someone of that because their loved one happened to be the same sex?
You might think another organ would come up, but I offer this final bombshell: for this rural county hospital, Richard’s liver was the first major organ donation they were able to accomplish. Many people sign donor forms, but their manner of death (e.g., cancer) does not permit donation of internal organs. Many people sign donor forms but their family overrides them. You see, at the time of donation, the donor’s wishes aren’t legally binding because the donor is dead. Only the living can perfect the donation.
And sometimes, the loved one who could make the decision if the politics were different doesn’t have the opportunity to save someone’s life.
Unfortunately, the marriage “debate” has been heating up. This blog entry from John Scalzi has the most coherent comments on it. I’d already considered the argument, but not the rhetorical stance.
So it’s pretty simple: If you actually want to defend marriage, you have defend all the legal marriages, and that includes the ones with two men in them, and the ones with two women. Otherwise you’re explicitly saying that the government has the right to void any marriage of any couple, so long as two-thirds of the House, Senate and states go along. Who wants to be the first to sign up for that?