Thursday, February 2, 2017

President Obama addresses the UN, September 20, 2016


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released on Friday a report that detailed what it called a Russian campaign to influence the election. The report is the unclassified summary of a highly sensitive assessment from American intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

READ REPORT

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Letter from Pres Obama, May 2014

The letterhead seal was embossed. The signature has a smooth ink flow and bled through the paper, At the beginning and end the signature bled-through more reflecting varying pressure showing lift-off of the pen.

How indeed could a person of my very average estate receive such a letter?
President Obama reads ten letters daily which his staff selects at his request to maintain a sense of connection that could be easily lacking in such an awesome office. He then composes his response and signs the letters evidenced by his signature which can be seen on the reverse. No print job, this...

 It is framed with archival paper and is on the wall above my desk. The composition reflects his earlier experiences he wrote about in "Dreams of my Father".  My daughter seemed skeptical, but said nothing. Perhaps she is correct, but I doubt it because he has done so much to advance equality for transgender people. 


My letter is dated April 29 while the executive order is dated July 21. An important step for equality. Thus it foreshadowed his impending action.  

President Barack Obama delivered remarks before he signed an executive order regarding further amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity, to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, in the East Room of the White House, July 21, 20
14.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

How did public bathrooms get to be separated by sex in the first place?

For years, transgender rights activists have argued for their right to use the public restroom that aligns with their gender identity. In recent weeks, this campaign has come to a head.
In March, North Carolina enacted a law requiring that people be allowed to use only the public restroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificates. Meanwhile, the White House has taken an opposing position, directing that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. In response, on May 25, 11 states sued the Obama administration to block the federal government from enforcing the directive.
Some argue that one solution to this impasse is to convert all public restrooms to unisex use, thereby eliminating the need to even consider a patron’s sex. This might strike some as bizarre or drastic. Many assume that separating restrooms based on a person’s biological sex is the “natural” way to determine who should and should not be permitted to use these public spaces.
In fact, laws in the U.S. did not even address the issue of separating public restrooms by sex until the end of the 19th century, when Massachusetts became the first state to enact such a statute. By 1920, over 40 states had adopted similar legislation requiring that public restrooms be separated by sex.
So why did states in the U.S. begin passing such laws? Were legislators merely recognizing natural anatomical differences between men and women?
READ ARTICLE

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Interview: The Bullying of LGBT Kids in Japan’s Schools

School bullying is notorious in Japan and has been for decades. For LGBT kids in particular, the harassment, threats, and even violence in schools can be unbearable. School policies don’t adequately protect these students. At best, teachers are confused about how to handle LGBT bullying; at worst, they take part in it. Although same-sex marriage is being debated in Japan, the shortage of real LGBT role models is so stark that kids turn to gay manga characters for inspiration and very basic information about gender and sexuality. Researcher Kyle Knight speaks about Human Rights Watch’s new report, “The Nail That Sticks Out Gets Hammered Down,” and his idea to create non-fiction manga characters that give a glimpse into the real lives of Japan’s LGBT youth.

Why is bullying such a problem in Japan?
School culture in Japan is conformity-driven, so bullying singles people out if they’re different. Some scholars believe bullying is a strategy some teachers use, in effect, to outsource discipline to the student body – that a little bit of bullying or pressure to conform from peers will make everyone better behaved. Across Japan, there were 188,072 cases of bullying reported to the Ministry of Education in 2014. The media and government tend to only react to high-profile cases – namely those that end in suicides. But this doesn’t address the more widespread forms of bullying.
LGBT topics don’t appear anywhere in the national curriculum, and LGBT people aren’t mentioned in bullying prevention policies. In fact, the national bullying prevention policy says that one way to prevent bullying is by educating students on social norms. This sends the message that schools are there to enforce norms, including stigmatizing stereotypes that constrain LGBT children’s free expression, while framing it that kids who break norms are in the wrong.

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Thank you, Mr. President

Thank you, President Obama. 
You rarely said what I wanted to hear, but you always told me what I needed to know. 
Thank you for once again, making me proud to be an American.
For addressing me always as an adult and assuming that I could understand words of multiple syllables. And concepts that require more than a single sound bite or 140 characters to explain.
For restoring America’s place as a respected leader among the other nations of the earth.
Thank you for sharing your family with us. And for allowing us to watch the fine example you and your wife have set in how to raise our children. For letting us see them grow from young girls to young women of poise and promise.









Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Free Online Education at Lifehacker U
















Your education doesn’t have to stop once you leave school. We’ve put together a curriculum of some of the best free online classes available on the web this fall for the latest term of Lifehacker U, our regularly-updating guide to improving your life with free, online college-level classes. Let’s get started.

Orientation: What Is Lifehacker U?

Whether you’re headed to college for the first time or you’re back in classes after a relaxing summer vacation, or long out of school and interested in learning something new, now’s the time to turn it on and amp up your skills with some interesting and informative classes and seminars. Anyone with a little time and a passion for self-growth can audit, read, and “enroll” in these courses for their own personal benefit. Schools like Yale University, MIT, Stanford, the University of California at Berkeley, and many more are all offering free online classes that you can audit and participate in from the comfort of your office chair, couch, or computing chair-of-choice.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Library of Congress


The library of Congress is the largest library in the world and much of it's collection is available on the internet. More is being added continually.

Visit the Library of Congress and experience the world’s largest collection of culture and creativity like never before.  The Thomas Jefferson Building features exhibitions and installations that bring the Library’s unparalleled collections to life.  Whether you are in Washington, D.C., or at home, let the Library of Congress take you on a unique and personal journey through history and culture.

VISIT OUR LIBRARY

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Myth of Male Privilege, Dr Marcie Bowers

There are aspects of being a woman that are really lousy: I brought my son’s Mazda in recently for service. I stepped delicately out of my car in skirt and heels. A gentleman held the door for me as I walked up. This visit was routine, just an oil change, filter—or so I thought. The service was to have been short so I waited for the work to be completed. I thought I’d be then on my way. After an hour or so, the service manager, Ahmed, called me to the desk and explained that there was an additional problem that had been discovered.

They recommended replacement of several of the hoses and belts. My simple oil change had suddenly leapt from $64 to nearly $900. He tapped a pencil while speaking with me. When I asked for an explanation and consequences if I chose to wait on replacement, the tapping frequency increased, oddly enough, as though this additional explanation would add appreciably to the cost of the repair. Although I am a medical school graduate, I received no education at any level that prepared me for the challenges of dealing with an auto mechanic as a woman. If I pressed further, I understood that eventually the explanation would degenerate into some sort of technical words that, when translated, meant I would never understand. I recalled my prior visit to a more elite dealership whose service manager had insisted that my complaint about a malfunctioning door latch was best resolved if I would purchase a very expensive, new, German battery. His explanation made about as much sense as treating a gangrenous toe with cholecystectomy. But at least I would never get gallstones, I thought.

If they only knew…
During my later professional life, which has now narrowed to reconstructing genitalia, my experiences (both in medicine and at the service department) are shaped by my prior history as having lived as a male for 36 years (with overlap as an obstetrician/gynecologist). I don’t talk about my past—because in public I really do not need to do so—I live as woman. I see my self that way—as does most of the world. Amazing. But like any good Boston accent, you take a part of your past with you. It is an aspect of who you are and, if I could have, would not have avoided many of my masculine experiences. Despite the adolescent bullying, despite the longing and sadness, my struggle makes me who I am. I liked learning to throw a baseball as much as I enjoyed being casually ushered into Nordstrom’s lingerie department fitting room for the first time. And I am a very strong—yet feminine– woman as a result. Transgender, though not for the faint of heart, is a fascinating journey.
 READING ARTICLE

The Caliph: Mid-East history & current affairs context

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation: A Guide for Understanding Transgender Children Debates

  Go to the profile of Julia Serano
Julia Serano

Thursday, July 7, 2016

American Indian Transgender: The Way of The Berdache


The Way of The Berdache 
Kate Devlin 
Introduction


Some, but not all Native American tribes had a social role for what we call a berdache, a transgendered person. Not much is really known about these people. Much Native American culture were wiped out, first in a series of epidemics brought by the Europeans and then by the European Conquest itself. Much of the culture of the surviving Indians was destroyed. White missionaries taught natives that transgenderism or alternate sexuality in general was "evil" and this tradition was largely destroyed or driven underground. Much of what we know about the berdache comes from journals or memoirs from some of the early European explorers and some oral traditions from Indians themselves. The berdache tradition seems to have survived today most strongly among some Pueblo Indians in New Mexico and Arizona. There were a few famous (and much photographed) berdaches from this area around the turn of the last century but today these people are very secretive about their traditions and culture.

It was somewhat frustrating to write this because it is difficult to find much specific documented information on the berdache. The information I found on the Internet was either well meaning but simplistic introductions on the one hand or academic anthropologists tediously analyzing each other’s methodology on the other hand and while all this is interesting in a way, it doesn’t really tell me much.

It’s hard to find much specific documentation. I did the best I could and I hope you find this interesting.
Anthropologists studying American Indians have known about berdaches for a long time but traditionally this aspect of Indian culture was downplayed. Many writers assumed berdaches were "degenerate", marginal people who were barely accepted in Native cultures. There’s been somewhat more research done on this in the 90s and today the social climate is somewhat more accepting. Many anthropologists today believe that berdaches actually played an important role in Native societies and were respected and honored.

It’s interesting (and sad) that most American, at least until recently , have not been aware aspect of American Indian culture. transgendered people are just barely coming to be accepted by mainstream society while the people who originally lived on this continent have been crossing gender boundaries for upwards of 20,000 years (that’s the currently accepted estimate of when the early American Indians crossed over the Bering Land Bridge from Siberia into Alaska and North America). I d didn't know about this at all myself until a few years ago when I came across a few very vague references to the berdache in some gay magazines I thumbed though, More recently I came across "The Spirit and The Flesh" by Walter Williams which is a good introduction to this, by chance in a bookstore . There are some really good books on American Indians I’ve seen, but even the best of them have very little or no mention of the berdache.

ARTICLE

 "The Spirit and the Flesh", by Walter L. Williams book documents the sociological history of berdache peoples in American Indian Tribes 

Thanks to Mike Larkin for this reference..... In the 1970 film "Little Big Man" the character of Little Horse was depicted as hwame (Two Spirit, Berdache).

So I searched and found this study of Hwame... 
 This is an interesting article describing female cross-gender social relationships in American Indian tribes.  http://www.williamapercy.com/wiki/images/Sexuality_and_Gender.pdf 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Reflections on Transgender Progress

About two years ago I wrote President Obama about being a transperson and how my 55+ community "transitioned" to acceptance of me. There were questions, but in retrospect it was easy compared with what some experience particularly in the Old South.
I feel honored that my message was selected among the ten he reads daily. He responded with the letter on the right. It is framed in archival paper above my desk where it inspires me daily.
As I reflect on the recent decision to join 18 other nations in accepting transpeople to serve in our military the importance of the intent reflected in this letter is more real to me. It signaled things to come and I have been on the cusp of this rapid change in our legal and social acceptance.
In June 2010, the State Department under Secy Clinton announced a new policy to issue passports that reflect a person’s current gender. In January 2011, the State Department made further improvements to its new policy. Our various states have followed suit allowing gender change.
We are experiencing rapid change in acceptance of minority people in this country. However, It is not uncommon for reactionary forces to express themselves when they notice they are loosing. In this case demographics continue favor us.
As our friends in the Canadian Parliament chanted, "Four more years".
I hope it is eight more with dominance in the House and Senate.

Letter from President Obama

Saturday, July 2, 2016

This trans woman found her safe haven at El Pollo Loco


Landing a steady job in today’s economy isn’t easy. But if you’re transgender, it’s nearly impossible.  
Just look at the numbers: More than 44% of transgender people are unemployed. And those lucky enough to have a job are four times more likely than the rest of the population to earn less than $10,000 a year, according to a 2013 report co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project.
For Mary Angel Hernandez, a 25-year old trans woman, this is reality. In 2012, her Catholic parents kicked her out of their home, a not-so-uncommon experience for queer youth. Of the millions of homeless youth in the U.S., about 20% identify as LGBT. Losing her home was especially heartbreaking for Hernandez, given everything she’d been through to get there.
At 15-years-old, Hernandez had packed a small backpack and made her way from her home country of Honduras—the most dangerous country on the planet—to Mexico by jumping trains and taking buses, all while knowing that at any moment she could be caught by the government and deported or even worse, extorted and killed by gangs.
“You know that if something happens to you in the street no one will stand for you because they think you deserve it,” Hernandez said. “I thought, ‘Should I die under the hands of people who are just going to view me as something less than human or die trying to move forward to a better future?’ So I decided to come here as any other immigrant and cross the border.”
Somehow, eventually, after trains, buses and a strenuous three-day trek in the desert, she reunited with her parents who were living in Houston, Texas, and life perked up a little bit. She excelled in school, becoming the first transgender college-elected school president at Houston Community College and the second in the state of Texas, and graduating on the dean’s list with an associate’s degree. School was a breeze, but because she was poor and later homeless, she always needed to work.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Boy Or Girl? What’s The Science Behind Transgender?


Please be advised that the following article is about a controversial subject and goes into detail about sexual identity and references sexual organs.
Outspoken second-wave feminist Germaine Greer recently caused controversy by claiming that transgender women “can’t be women” and “just because you lop off your penis…it doesn’t make you a woman”.
Of course in a sense she is absolutely right. Genitals alone do not define your gender. Cancer or severe injury can result in the necessary removal of testes or penises for example. Yet the men that undergo these procedures are no less men afterwards. Medical vaginectomies, or the removal of part or all of the vagina, does not mean that a woman stops being a woman. Obviously surgery alone does not define your sex. But that’s not what Greer meant.
So what does define your gender? The simplest and most common sense answer is the genitals that we are born with. Boys have penises, girls have vaginas. Nature determines your sex.
Except when it doesn’t.

The Problem With Genitals

You may have heard recently about something unusual that happens in a small village in the Dominican Republic. One in 90 children there that are born girls are not destined to stay girls.  Once these children start puberty, they grow penises and testicles. They are known locally asguevedoces, literally “penises at age twelve”. Scientists call them pseudohermaphrodites and Dr. Julianne Imperato, one of the first to study the guevedoces, discovered that the startling transformation was due to an enzyme deficiency.
We all start out as female in the womb. At the risk of over-simplifying, boys then get a shot of testosterone that changes the clitoris into a penis and changes the vagina into testicles. Guevedoces don’t have as much of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. It’s this enzyme that converts the testosterone into the male genital building hormone dihydro-testosterone. At puberty, the “girls” undergo another surge of testosterone that belatedly causes the outward change into boys and ultimately men. The phenomenon is not confined to the Dominican Republic and further cases have been reported in Papua New Guinea.
The condition that results in the guevedoces’ late transformation is one of a variety of conditions that come under the umbrella term Intersex. Simply put, an Intersex condition occurs where a person’s sexual anatomy doesn’t fit the typical definition of male or female. It can mean that a person’s genitals look different to the norm for their sex, or that the genitals look like the norm on the outside but the internal anatomy may more closely resemble the opposite gender.
So children are not necessarily defined by the genitals they are born with. Can we find a better definition for gender?

READ ARTICLE

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What it means to be transgender: Answers to 5 key questions

Is being transgender a choice?

“Research continues to show that it’s not as simple as ‘I’m a female, I’m a male,’ ” said J. Wesley Thompson, a physician assistant, medical director of Ballantyne Family Medicine and member of the Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group.
“It’s far more complicated than ‘This is a choice.’ That might be true for a very small minority, but for the vast majority, no one would put themselves through this kind of pain by choice,” Thompson said. “Studies have shown that a transitioning patient loses 90 percent of their family and friends’ support network. That’s one of the reasons that substance abuse and depression and suicide attempts are so high.”
 Is being transgender a mental illness?

No. In 2013, the term “gender identity disorder” was eliminated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.” The term was replaced by “gender dysphoria,” which focuses attention on those who feel distressed by their gender identity.
The American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the DSM, stated that “gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder. The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition.” Experts say much of the distress is associated with societal attitudes rather than gender identity.

Are people female or male at birth?

Not always. Duke’s Adkins is one of 20 pediatric endocrinologists who wrote a letter to McCrory objecting to HB2, in part, because “there are babies born in whom chromosomes suggesting one sex do not match the appearance of the genitalia.”
The letter said: “This can be due to multiple biological causes such as chromosome abnormalities, abnormalities in anatomic development, environmental exposures during pregnancy, genetic mutations in the synthesis and actions of adrenal and gonadal hormones, and tumors that make sex hormones. For these children, gender assignment at birth is challenging and takes substantial time, sometimes requiring re-evaluation over months to years.”

How does gender develop?

“All human embryos are equipped with the starter kits for both male and female sexual anatomy,” according to a BloombergView article by Faye Flam. “Every part on the male body has an analogous part on the female body.”
Typically, females have two X chromosomes, and males have one X and one Y. “But these are just the starting switches for a complicated process in which genes on various chromosomes become activated and trigger precisely timed releases of hormones,” Flam wrote.
Depending on which switches are flipped and when, there are lots of possible outcomes. “Not everyone comes into the world with a clear-cut sex,” Flam wrote.
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/article76580862.html#storylink=cpy

What does research show?

Male and female brains are slightly different in structure. In 2013, Spanish researchers examined MRI scans of the brains of 42 transgender men and women. Even before treatment with hormones, the scans showed that specific structures in their brains were more similar to those in the gender they identified with than of those in the gender they were born with.
Also, researchers in Amsterdam examined adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria and how they responded to a pheromone-like substance that is known to cause different responses in the brains of men and women. The study, published in 2014, found that boys with gender dysphoria responded like typical females, and girls responded like typical boys.
“The interesting thing about that study,” said Thompson, of the Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group, “is that (responses to pheromones) cannot be influenced by training or environment. The response to odors is from our primal brain.…Research continues to show that there is a discernible difference genetically and on an anatomical basis for the transgender identity.”
Author Nutt, who summarized the research in her book, noted that female and male brains are not that different overall.
Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/health-family/article76580862.html#storylink=cpy
READ ARTICLE

Monday, May 9, 2016

DOJ Sues To Block North Carolina's Anti-LGBT Bill

The complaint coincides with the deadline the Department of Justice had given North Carolina to confirm "that the State will not comply with or implement HB2," as the agency said it violates various federal statutes. Not only did Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signal he would not be backing down from enforcing the law, he fired an opening shot Monday morning by filing a legal complaint of his own against the federal government, accusing the Obama administration of a "radical reinterpretation" of civil rights laws.

In Monday's press conference, Lynch called the legislation "state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals, who simply seek to engage in the most private of functions in a place of safety and security – a right taken for granted by most of us."
Lynch, who is from North Carolina, also compared it to discrimination faced by African Americans.

"It was not so very long ago that states including North Carolina had other signs above restrooms, water fountains and on public accommodations keeping people out based on a distinction without a difference," she said.
READ ARTICLE 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Just Call Me Kade, transgender boy


Kade Farlow Collins is a sixteen year old FTM (female to male transgendered person) residing in Tucson, Arizona. Kade's parents maintain a supportive and nurturing relationship to Kade regarding the many challenges facing their teenage child. However, it hasn't always been easy.

As Kade's body began to transform during puberty, Kade became nearly suicidal. Realizing that the issue was more complex than Kade being a tomboy or a lesbian, the family searched for information. Through a local support group and the internet, Kade's mother found books and other resources pertaining to transgenderism. Kade and his family agreed to have their lives documented in order to bring awareness to the subject.