Originally aired on 3/30/17.
Sorry if I pause randomly! I run out of breath super easily and it’s weird.
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- A bus fueled by hate is embarking on a tour of the east coast. On March 22 and 23, the “Free Speech Bus,” will be parked in front of the United Nations and Trump Tower in New York City. On the side of the eye-catching orange vessel is the phrase: “It’s biology: Boys are boys … and always will be. Girls are girls … and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all.” The organizers behind the bus include the notoriously anti-LGBTQ groups National Organization for Marriage and International Organization for the Family, which are based in Washington D.C. Both are led by Brian S. Brown, the social conservative behind the “Dump Starbucks“ campaign, which encouraged people to boycott the coffee brand in 2012 because it publicly advocated for same-sex marriage. “It’s biology, not bigotry,” Brian S. Brown said of the Free Speech Bus’ message in the release. “Men and women were created equally, each given a gender that is fixed, immutable and complementary. Rather than perpetuate a lie that gender can be changed based on emotions and feelings, we should encourage people to embrace and love who they were made to be.” Once the bus is parked in each location, representatives from the campaign will speak to media and have meet-and-greets with local supporters, Joseph Grabowski, a spokesperson for the NOM, told the Huffington Post. Several organizations that advocate for LGBTQ rights in New York City, such as Advocates for Intersex Youth and OutRight Action, have banded together to speak out against the bus, saying that the message is discriminatory and encourages violence against transgender individuals. “Free speech is a constitutional right, but language has consequences that must be considered,” Jessica Stern of OutRight Action International said in a press release sent to the Huffington Post. “Trans youth already have an extremely high risk for violence, discrimination, and suicide. Broadcasting a message that erases and denies the reality that transgender and intersex children and youth exist is irresponsible, factually misleading, disrespectful, and dangerous. This vehicle is part of the reason trans youth are driven to suicide.” (Huffington Post)
- The bus was vandalized [talk about why this is not okay]
- President Trump appointed anti-LGBTQ activist Roger Severino to lead the division charged with enforcing civil rights law at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Trump quietly selected Severino this week to serve as Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS. Severino’s extreme views opposing transgender people and women’s rights have garnered praise and prominence from the far right. Until this week, Severino served as Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society for the Heritage Foundation where he wrote scathing opinions on transgender issues, abortion rights, and gay marriage. He repeatedly denounced and worked to oppose OCR’s implementation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which provides critical non-discrimination protections based on gender identity and sex stereotyping in federally-funded health programs. He also referred to the Obama Administration’s guidance to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity as a “radical social experiment.” “I could not think of a more dangerous person to head up the Office of Civil Rights at HHS,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs of HRC. “Once again, Donald Trump is declaring war against our community by appointing anti-LGBTQ people at all levels of his administration. Mr. Severino takes pride in being a stark opponent of the LGBTQ community and has made it clear that his number one priority is to vilify and degrade us. We will fight tooth and nail against any attempts to roll back civil rights including access to healthcare.” (Human Rights Campaign
- Two months after performing at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Jackie Evancho wants to use her voice for a different cause. The classical crossover singer, 16, has asked to meet with Trump in the wake of the president’s decision to roll back a federal policy prohibiting schools from discriminating against transgender students. Evancho’s sister, Juliet, was one of three trans plaintiffs who won the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity at her Pennsylvania school in a Feb. 27 federal court ruling. Evancho first suggested the meeting on Twitter on Feb. 22, immediately following the Trump administration’s announcement that it would rescind former President Barack Obama’s executive order mandating that all schools that receive federal money must treat a student’s gender identity as his or her sex. Though Trump himself has stayed silent on the matter, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a Feb. 23 briefing that he believes the president “would be welcome to meet with” Evancho, ABC News reported. In a new interview with People, Evancho explained why she now feels compelled to take a stance against Trump’s anti-LGBTQ platform. “I would talk to him about some of the horrors that [Juliet] has experienced,” Evancho said. “Hopefully make it a federal issue — and create some sort of law that will protect my sister and people in her situation.” In the days leading up to the inauguration, Evancho had been encouraged to follow in the footsteps of singer-actress Jennifer Holliday and back out of her appearance because of Trump’s opposition to LGBTQ rights. Still, she told People that her decision to perform the national anthem was solely “about the honor and not about the politics.” (Huffington Post)
- In a new issue of Time Magazine, an article titled “Infinite Identities” is featured on the cover, drawing on a GLAAD-commissioned survey to explore the evolution of gender and sexual identity in younger (Millennial) generations. The survey found that 20% of Millennials identify as something other than strictly cisgender and straight, as compared to 7% of Baby Boomers. The article points out that some feel as though there are more people than ever identifying as LGBTQ, but that this is likely a result of growing rates of acceptance—individuals who are coming out as LGBTQ are doing so because they feel more comfortable than they may have in prior years. “There have been the generations that have lived by the rules and those generations that break the rules,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis tells Time magazine. Young people today, she says, are “redefining everything.” The Time article discusses the idea of rejecting binaries, meaning that it is more likely in the Millennial generation that someone will identify as bisexual, pansexual, or asexual than simply “gay” or “straight,” as in the past. To a somewhat lesser extent, this is true of gender identity as well—rather than “man” or “woman,” Millennials are more likely to identify as gender nonconforming, genderqueer, or demi-fluid. The piece also turns to older organizations or individuals within the LGBTQ movement, who have often used binary descriptions in their arguments for equality. By focusing on how gender and sexual identities have evolved over time, the article begs for us to observe the generation gap that has arisen, even within the LGBTQ movement. (GLAAD)
- A transgender World War II veteran proves it’s never too late to live life truthfully. Patricia Davies, from Leicestershire, England, didn’t decide to transition into a female until she turned 90 years old. Davies — born Peter — has known she was a woman since she was just a toddler. “I’ve known I was transgender since I was 3 years old. I knew a girl called Patricia, and I decided I wanted to be known by that name but it didn’t stick,” Davies told Caters News Agency. Davies kept her identity a secret for most of her life for fear she would be shunned by her peers or forced to undergo electric shock treatment. Davies — who served in the army between April 1945 and 1948 — said coming out as transgender would have categorized her as a homosexual, which wouldn’t have been accepted in the army. Davies, who married when she was 21, eventually came out to her supportive wife in 1987. Her wife, to whom she was married for 63 years, bought Davies jewelry and dresses that she could wear in private. Sadly, her wife passed away six years ago. “I was 60 when it all came pouring out to my wife, she was very sympathetic and helped me all the way, but we agreed to keep it quiet,” said Davies, who first learned about transgender identity from a TV show sometime in the 1970s. When Davies first came out to her wife, she decided to wear high heels but was deterred when teenagers saw her and threw eggs at her window. Now a nonagenarian, Davies has begun taking estrogen to move her transition forward and has come out to her community. “It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I was living a lie,” she told Caters. “I have been keeping quiet. I have slowly started to tell some of my neighbors. Everybody said, ‘Don’t worry, as long as you’re happy,’” she added. Patricia was inspired to make the big change from male to female after seeing the romantic comedy film “Boy Meets Girl,” which features transgender characters. (NY Post)
- North Carolina’s infamous House Bill 2 (HB2), the bill that has cost the state over $3.75 billion dollars, cost its former Gov. Pat McCrory his election, and cost thousands of LGBTQ North Carolinians their piece of mind and safety is back and as bad as before, despite the deceiving ‘repeal’ name. Yesterday, as the legislature approached today’s deadline imposed by the NCAA to repeal HB2, newly elected Gov. Roy Cooper, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore reached what they are calling a “compromise” repeal of HB2. The bill does repeal HB2, but it just replaces it with prohibitions on local government entities (including cities, towns, schools) from extending legal protections to LGBT people until 2020 and bans on protections for transgender individuals in restrooms and other single-sex spaces forever. The bill makes it illegal to protect people from discrimination. And worse still, it does so under a claimed interest in protecting “bathroom safety and privacy.” Being unfamiliar or uncomfortable with trans people does not translate into a right to expel trans people from society. And make no mistake, that is once again, what HB2.0 does. This is another iteration of the same – and worse because it shuts down the momentum from the past year of work against HB2. It derails the litigation, the organizing, and the public perception of what is happening. (ACLU)
- Erasure is not an uncommon thing for LGBT people to experience. For millennia—with same-sex behavior and trans identity variously legally proscribed or forbidden, or punishable and stigmatized—it suited societies and religions to make LGBT people as invisible as possible. And, to escape detection and persecution, many LGBT people chose to collude with this forced invisibility. Even today, making ourselves visible, coming out, is something every LGBT person considers or does. The LGBT population has been consistently discriminated against, and consistently made invisible. It has consistently been under legal and physical threat. It has had to fight for visibility. As Harvey Milk said, coming out is the most potent thing an LGBT person can do. Showing that we are here, that we are present, is the most powerful statement of all. This visibility has never been enumerated. No-one’s ever figured out how to definitively. You might have thought the Census Bureau would be best positioned to. Apparently not. Our presence, then, has always been configured as a moral issue. For years, the law was either against LGBTs, or implicitly skewered against them. LGBTs have been murdered and attacked for who they are. People have tried to change their sexual orientation with chemicals, electric shocks, and feverish threats. Initially, LGBT people were to be part of the 2020 census: as the Washington Blade and other publications reported, sexual orientation and gender identity were included in proposed categories. However, the Blade reported, the U.S. Census “issued a notice shortly afterward indicating the report was corrected because the initial appendix ‘inadvertently’ included LGBT categories. The response of some to this seems to be: well, we weren’t included in the past, so what’s changed? Big deal. “Well, you never had it before, so what are you missing now?” is not a strong or convincing argument against the usefulness of maintaining prejudice and bigotry. It amounts to little more than learned passivity. Just because you are being diminished as you expected to be doesn’t lessen the diminishment. It may well be that this would have been a first time. Neither the U.S. Census, nor the American Community Survey has ever included questions about sexual orientation or transgender status. Just because LGBT has never been counted before, the fact we remain uncounted in a year when LGBT rights feel imperiled feels darkly significant—especially the mysterious circumstances by which census chiefs decided that LGBT people should not be counted. How, if not by counting them, can LGBT people be protected and have their rights, quality of life, and health maintained? By not counting LGBT people, the Government is hurting them. The case for a proper LGBT Census is a moral, as well as practical, one. Numbers, when it comes to LGBT people, as Gates once told NPR, are controversial: for some they are too high, for others too low. They can be used, indecently, in arguments about policy and legality—why, the prejudiced politician might ask, should we be spending time and money on LGBT equality when such things affect such small groups? The answer—that everyone deserves equal treatment under the law regardless of their sex, race, or sexual and gender identities; regardless of how many of them they are—can be lost at the pedestal of a stark statistic. This is about equality, and recognizing the needs and presence of particular sub-populations within the main one. This is about signaling to LGBT people that they count culturally, as well as statistically. LGBT Americans should be counted as equally as everyone else, and whatever results gleaned be analyzed and utilized sensitively, taking into account such complicating matters as people not self-defining themselves honestly or openly. To LGBT people, an official erasure by Census organizers and government may be painful, and yet another practical and cultural negative. But remember this: the LGBT population has been long numberless, long unfixed by statisticians. That numerical mystery zone will persist now as official policy, but—just as in so many years before—this sanctioned statistical ignorance will not stop the LGBT population’s very visible and enduring campaign for equality. (The Daily Beast)
Transgender Day of Visibility
TDOV is a day to show your support for the trans community. It aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe while fighting cissexism and transphobia by spreading knowledge of the trans community. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition trans people need.
This year’s theme is trans resistance (#TransResistance). In the increasingly transphobic global political climate, we must use our newfound visibility to mobilize trans people against oppression. Speaking out, taking direct action, and educating others is critical to our safety and wellbeing. This recognizes that while visibility is important, we must take action against transphobia. Visibility is not enough alone to bring transgender liberation. However, we can use visibility as a vital tool for transgender justice. Activist and Trans Youth Leadership Summit fellow Caelan Damocles for coming up with this theme. (Trans Student Educational Resources)
Over the years, there have been calls by some trans people to make the TDOR a more happy, joyous event, to which the founders and others have resisted. TDOR does serve an important function in terms of focusing attention on anti-transgender violence.
Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan is one of the people who asked why couldn’t the trans community or someone start an event that celebrates who we are? Then she asked the question that led to the formation of this event, ‘Why isn’t that someone me?’
Rachel’s vision for the Trans Day of Visibility is to focus on all the good things in the trans community, instead of just remembering those who were lost.
“The day of remembrance is exactly what it is. It remembers people who died,” she said. “This focuses on the living.”
There is nothing inherently problematic with the asterisk but it’s often applied in inaccessible, binarist, and transmisogynist ways. It is unnecessary and should not be used. Claiming the asterisk itself is fundamentally oppressive denies accountability and ignores the culture of binarism and transmisogyny that affects the community. People also often misattribute its history to cisgender and binarist people.
The asterisk originated from search Boolean, where trans* would search for any words starting with trans (transgender, transsexual, etc). The asterisk is useless as a way of attempting to be more inclusive because trans already included all trans people. The asterisk did well for explicitly noting that being trans is not limited to trans men and trans women (as trans without the asterisk was misinterpreted as meaning) but it subtly began working with this misinterpretation and contributed to the incorrect thought that “trans” by itself only means binary trans people. This does not indicate that the term itself is problematic but that it is just not a useful tool. Trans without the asterisk is already inclusive of all trans identities.
The history of the asterisk is not well known. Often, it is misattributed to itspronouncedmetrosexual (Sam Killermann, who is notably a white, cisgender, heterosexual man). This attribution is incorrect, as itspronouncedmetrosexual was just one web site that popularized it long after its inception. The graphic he produced also incorrectly included “two-spirit” under trans* identities, while many two spirit people do not identify as trans. Some claim the asterisk was originally created and popularized by nonbinary people assigned female assigned at birth trans people and trans men (note that these groups are not necessarily separate). Others claim it was trans women programmers.
Another historical misattribution present online is the asterisk being created to include cisgender drag queens and other gender nonconforming cisgender people. This is incorrect and no version of “trans” should include cisgender people, with or without the asterisk.
In the mid-2010’s social justice bloggers (particularly on web sites such as Tumblr) began to claim the asterisk excludes trans women and nonbinary people. The asterisk does not “exclude” trans women and this statement is simply inaccurate. However, we often see it being applied in ways that silence trans women and decenter those struggles as white female assigned at birth trans people who have more access to this sort of language use it to prove how involved in the community they are. The asterisk being used to represent trans (without the asterisk) being exclusionary of nonbinary people comes solely from (mis)interpretation. That was not the intention of the asterisk and is not an inherent factor of its existence, just a common misunderstanding. Similarly, people using “trans* women” instead of “trans women” to subtly delegitimize trans women’s gender identities comes from a misinterpretation of this occurrence. Blaming the silencing of nonbinary people and trans women on the asterisk instead of the groups who silence them and the culture that actually perpetrates these actions denies accountability and ignores the systems of oppression that are really affecting these groups.
While it’s white queer and trans people assigned female at birth who started the asterisk, it’s also white queer and trans people assigned female at birth who are at the front lines of critiquing the use of the asterisk, including the use among trans people of color, trans women, and nonbinary people who use it to describe themselves. The call-out culture prevalent online is something that does solidly contribute to the oppression of some of the most marginalized members of our community by privileging access to the most up-to-date theoretical work around what it means to be trans over actual trans experiences.
In the end, we decided to stop our use of the asterisk because of how unnecessary and inaccessible it is and its common application as a tool of binarism and silencing trans women. (TSER)