Somehow this all ties together

The truth is, each of us is related. It’s just a question of how far back you trace your family tree. Deep down, all of us have shared blood in our veins. Although, individual tastes may vary. And if we’re all related then all of us have royal blood, which is why every child should be treated as a king or queen no matter how old our children may be.

the character Henry Morgan in Forever
“The King of Columbus Circle” episode

street artEllie came over this week. I’ve been helping her figure out how to use her iPad. She loves my space, especially looking at the garden and the trees in the neighbor’s yard.  Sitting on the sofa, looking at the pale yellow wall covered with hanging and climbing plants, she says she could easily meditate here.

Mosquito season has begun and while there are not many, all it takes is one’s bizzing to keep me awake almost all night as I lay in bed. That happened Thursday night, so I was dragging when Rema came for the trash and Dolores came to clean on Friday morning.  I made my way to the salon for an appointment with disappointment and finally came home to crash.

Trans News: three things

Bruce Jenner

I didn’t see the interview last night, but there were many reactions to it on Salon, Slate, Huffington Post and elsewhere.  I have seen some excerpted quotes and while every person has his or her own journey and history, there are a few quotes that bother me.

  • The first is not one of his, but of headlines:  evidently he stated that he’s a Republican and the headlines read that he “came out as a conservative.”  While there may be a 1:1 correlation between Republican and conservative, it’s still an inaccurate statement.
  • He said “that he genuinely wants to educate people.” I’m not sure who should sit at the foot of this master. Those who wish to take their journey/story and teach it often only teach their own biography and do not speak for others whose stories, to an outside observer and from a distance, may look similar but are in fact very dissimilar. This is especially problematical when the trans person comes out late in life, when the trans person is white and has been a recipient of various privileges (male, white, money, etc.) and has no understanding or empathy of what it means to be young, of color, poor (therefore unable to obtain medical or mental health services), perhaps living on the streets (as a result of being thrown out of home).  The “trans consultant” to Dr. Drew, Hanna Zoe Tor, is especially unsympathetic to other trans individuals, especially those who do not follow her “proven” road to success. I’ve known several people who have been eager to share their “knowledge” with others when what they actually wanted was to control another’s life, making the acolyte over in theIr image thereby validating their own decision. I hope Jenner does not prove to be such a person.
  • Jenner said “I’m still a lonely big boy.”  That’s the kind of statement that concerns me. There are a lot of transwoman who never felt like a little boy and certainly do not feel like a big boy. I hope people accept that statement as being part of Ms. Jenner’s particular journey and not indicative of most others’ journeys.

Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival

A recent announcement states this year’s festival will be the last for the 40-year old event (often called “MichFest”).  In 1991 the festival prohibited a trans woman from attending and since then many in the trans community have attacked the event.for discriminating against those who were not “womyn born womyn”. Various groups have urged boycotts of the festival and even the musical group Indigo Girls withdrew their support of the event.

My issue with the festival has been its hypocrisy with regard to transness.  From one of it founders:

We have said that this space, for this week, is intended to be for womyn who were born female, raised as girls and who continue to identify as womyn.

It’s my understanding that the event allowed transmen to attend (while discouraging transwomen from attending), and if one has a male identity I can’t see how he can “continue to identify as womyn.” I’m sorry the festival is ending as it was a significant event in many lesbians’ lives and would likely continue to fulfill that role. The bitterness some supporters feel is evidenced by statements such as

Well, you killed it, trans folk. This is your fault. You brought down the oldest lesbian event. I guess everything will be all hunkydory for trans folk now?

There are so many more lesbians than there are transpeople that statements such as the above do not make sense.  Here are the numbers:

  • Transpeople represent just three-tenths of a per cent of the population
  • If lesbians and gays represent 10 per cent of the population,
  • Then transpeople are 3 per cent of the sub-population.

If the event is so critical and important to so many, why haven’t they found a way to continue the event? Maybe they will and management’s announcements are intended to “rally the troops.”

Stupid things non-trans people say

Oh, there are so many. Here are a few from some ignoble notables.

Dr Phil

has said so many stupid and/or ignorant and/or insensitive things over the years with regard to trans people that it’s difficult to single out just a few. Here’s the most recent. Regarding Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer he said

I guess we’d spend the next hour and 59 minutes saying, ‘you’re almost 80 — what’s the point?” ,,, He’s kind of past his prime for like …. [sex] right?’

Where to begin?

  1. Like the only thing that matters in life is fucking?
  2. At what age does the Dr think a woman should just go ahead and do herself in?  What are the golden years after which a woman should go into hiding? [Ironic his comments occur the same week as Sandra Bullock’s capturing People magazine’s cover as the “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” AND Amy Schumer’s sketch with Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in celebrating her “last f___able day” ]
  3. Next, the Dr isn’t accurate with Jenner’s age (65, not 80). Perhaps the Dr is speaking of a change in his own libidinous appetite as he is just a year younger than Jenner.
  4. Then the Dr is guilty of ageism if he thinks that sex ends at some point in time … Here in San Miguel I know quite a few septuagenarians and older folks who still like to roll … maybe not in the hay … but perhaps on a waterbed.

You might have thought Dr Phil’s pronoun selection was at fault, but at this time Bruce Jenner says he continues to prefer male pronouns.

Tammy Bruce

A guest on the Fox and Friends show, the “gay, pro-choice, gun-owning, pro-death penalty, Tea Party Independent Conservative” [her words] radio host [that in itself should be a warning as to the authenticity of her qualifications] said

There was a point when I was a child where I thought I was a cocker spaniel because this is childhood, and that is why this is particularly troubling.

Why does this bother me? Well, she and psychologist Susan Lipkins visited Elizabeth Hasselbeck to discuss Horace Mitchell Primary School in Maine, where I Am Jazz, (a book by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jenning that discusses a young trans girl’s struggle with gender identity) was read.

I’m surprised an authority such as Ms. Bruce couldn’t spot the the problems between comparing her magical thinking and the identity issues of a transkid. But I don’t expect everyone who is out shopping for guns to have the time to become informed about the topics on which she’s expected to create sound-bites.

Lipkins, a psychologist who specializes in issues of hazing and bullying, said

As a feminist, I think it’s insane to say that somebody has a boy’s body and a girl’s brain. What’s a ‘girl’s brain’?

She has a point, up to a point. If she were better read in current neuroanatomy she would be able to distinguish between the matter of male and female brains and what matters to those brains instead of hiding behind the “as a feminist” meme. Current research shows distinct differences in male and female brains at macro and micro levels (as within cells).

A long, long time ago

Three years, to be exact. 2012 and the TV commentator Bill O’Reilly was struggling with transkids and ciskids peeing in the same bathroom. His guests were co-Fox entertainers Gretchen Carlson and Jeanine Pirro, a former Westchester County Court judge. According to Mary Elizabeth Williams, writing for Salon, their topic that morning was an episode of the TV show Glee, in which

the character Unique [performed] a … song in a dress and heels. O’Reilly, who is terribly concerned that America’s youth “might go out and experiment with this stuff,” next welcomed Carlson [and] Pirro, for an old-fashioned round of pearl-clutching. “Here we go again,” said Carlson, “pandering to .3 percent of the American population that consider themselves transgender. Now I get to explain this to my 8-year-old, if I just wanted to watch a nice family show with some nice music?” …

But I’m here to tell Gretchen Carlson it’s a lot easier teaching a child that some boys feel they were meant to be girls than it is answering their questions about gravity or the nature of time or how big God is. …

But I don’t believe for a second that gay and trans kids are trying … to entice America’s little boys to put on dresses. Good entertainment is just about understanding the human condition, about empathy for characters whose lives and experiences may be just like ours, or completely different from them. I’m about as non African-American transgender male teenager as it gets, and I can honestly say that having one on television poses exactly zero threat to my family or the identity of any member within it.

Science and Learning

Neil deGrasse Tyson on the impending supernova of geekiness

If you were a geek in high school, you’re the one who got the wedgie from the high school quarterback. Then the quarterback learned that they needed you to fix their computer — then the stock value of geeks rose. The richest person in the world is the patron saint of nerds, Bill Gates.”

Paintings in the Lascaux caves more than 17,000 years old

and those in the Chauvet cave are more than 30,000 years old.  I’m trying to put this in some type of context, especially if humans and the Earth have only existed 10,000 years.

Books

The American Library Association recently released its annual list of the 10 books receiving the most complaints from parents, educators and others in the local community.

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (memoir, Sherman Alexie)
  2. Persepolis (graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi)
  3. And Tango Makes Three (picture book about two male penguins raising a baby penguin, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson)
  4. The Bluest Eye (novel, Toni Morrison)
  5. The Kite Runner (novel, Khaled Hosseini)
  6. A Stolen Life (memoir, Jaycee Dugard)
  7. It’s Perfectly Normal (nonfiction – puberty, Robie Harris)
  8. Saga (graphic novel, Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples)
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (novel, Stephen Chbosky)
  10. Drama (graphic novel, Raina Telgemeier)

Several of the authors listed were either non-white or writers of books with a gay, lesbian or transgender theme.

Phil Plait and Bad Astronomy get a gold star

Where do astronomy and transgender topics intersect? It isn’t on the fictional planets Akritiri or Dagobah. It’s on the Bad Astronomy blog where Phil Plait apologized for an unintended slight to the trans community, which triggered the usual backlash from troglodytes who viewed the apology as yielding to the Social Justice Warriors, an epithet thrown at suspected Political Correctness police. From the JA blog:

You’re wrong. First, it’s not up to you to decide what offends or does not offend a group of people you are not a part of. You may feel that this was not an offensive joke, and you are welcome to that opinion; certainly the joke wasn’t intended that way.

But what you don’t get to decide is what offends others, especially in a group you’re not a part of. You may think that offense is undeserved, or that they are overreacting. You have the right to think that, but you cannot dictate it to those others.

Even if there was no harm meant in the joke, people may still take offense at it, and that’s their right. In this case, I can easily see where transgender folks would be put off by it, even angered.

And here’s the important bit: Apologizing and changing it does no harm, and in fact does some good; it helps a group of people see that we can be sensitive to their needs.

There are times when I think people are too sensitive, and times I think others aren’t sensitive enough. I tend to judge these on a case by case basis. But with a group that is historically marginalized and “othered”, well, a little (extra) empathy does a soul good.

And for the other bit, people derisively calling us “social justice warriors”? They may use it as a derogatory term, thinking of SJWs as shrill and overbearing, but to me it’s a term that refers to people willing to go to bat for others who don’t have as big a soapbox. I might prefer the term “ally”, but SJW fits fine, too. This world could use a lot more social justice. I’ll be happy to fight for it when I can.

And that’s why badass astronomer Plait and the crew get the gold star.

Alex Newell

The song is from the musical and second film version of Hairspray.  Composer Marc Shaiman.

This has never happened to you, right?

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