Love in a Threadbare, Tired World

My Twitter feed has been brutal tonight! One of my dear sisters is being evicted from her home by a transphobic landlord. People are hurting and anxious. People can’t sleep.

…and another of my dear sisters is at war with everyone.

Being a person without cis-priviledge is hard. At many times, it can feel like the entire world is in on some fantastically elaborate plan to harm us. What I regret so deeply is that many of us get so used to the fight, that we know no other way.

Such was the case tonight, when an ally was coming to the community to be affirmed for her work on Trans* Awareness Week as part of her college’s LGBTQIA+ alliance. When someone performs an act of service, there is a sort of implied exchange. This ally was wanting to be thanked in return for her work. Gratitude is a very reasonable exchange, and many of us were happy to give it.

But, surely as I sit here, there seems to always be someone who wants a fight. So, my dear sister brought her fight to the doorstep of our ally. She took exception to the ally’s choice of the word “nifty” to describe the work she was doing. My dear sister did not believe that word should be included anywhere in a conversation which also addressed transphobia and violence.

To be clear, in no possible interpretation was the ally saying that violence was nifty. But my dear sister, presumably so deeply entrenched in fighting with every person and every institution, in public and in private, each day and each night scolded and bullied the poor ally in such a way as to bring shame on us all.

In this world, there are those who need to be thanked for their help and solidarity…

There are those needing gentle and kind corrections of their misconceptions…

And, yes, there are those who deserve the full weight of our refusal to back down.

As a marginalized group, we must pay close attention to which person we are addressing at any given time. Know your history, my loves. While progress is moving more swiftly than at any other time, we remain in the Booker T. Washington part of our fight. We must not prove ourselves to be as our detractors portray us. We must use our lives to embody the best in our community.

It is an unfair burden, to be sure. But when you open your mouth to speak, do so knowing that you hold the power to make life better or worse for every other person like you. Speak of love for the oppressed. Speak not of hate for the oppressor. Unleash the deep humanity of forgiveness, in all its transformative power. See in your oppressor the potential for compassion.

…and yes, if they fail to provide such compassion, demand it!

Demand it until the last vile drop of this sickening hatred and fear is driven from our good world.

Care for yourselves, care for one another, and make love your weapon of choice.



From the Archive: Why Are “The Gays” So Special Anyway?

Originally posted (elsewhere) December 12, 2010

I have found myself engaged in numerous conversations, of late, in which I have felt compelled to defend the idea that LGBTQIA+ suicides, and the bullying that often leads to them deserve special attention.

The fact is, all bullying is abhorrent. No matter the cause. This campaign simply attempts to shed light on one specific facet.

This country has a very short attention span. We seem to move on from one issue to the next without ever really solving them.

Being bullied for being an outsider has been addressed. Am I the only one who remembers the coverage after the Columbine High School tragedy?  Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 15 people and injured 24 others, purportedly as a result of being bullied.  There was great attention paid to bullying, and the ‘outsider’ status.  (I happened to catch a little bit of a break from being bullied in the immediate aftermath.)  The media attention focused on these teens as having been part of a small band of outsiders known as the ‘Trenchcoat Mafia.’

While we have no statistics on the incidence of suicide attempts among those wearing black trenchcoats to school, it has been shown (and I just went back and looked over my stats on this one) that LGBT youth (especially males, and those rejected by their parents say at least some of the numbers) Have a significantly elevated suicide risk. The numbers show differences of 300% to over 800% among the various demographics evaluated, as opposed to their non-LGBT counterparts.

Here’s the thing, though. As a member of the LGBT community myself, I think it is fair to say that many of us would be the first to stand up against the bullying of trenchcoat wearers. I would buy the tee shirt…attend the rally…call my elected representatives.

The bullying of any one minority is an offense against us all. Perhaps that is the real lesson. Call it Gay, call it Trenchcoat Mafia, call it Little Rock Nine. We all suffer when any one suffers. The idea of using our differences to divide is hardly a new one. But, rest assured…whatever the next group to be singled out is….I will be there to resist.

“They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

-Martin Niemöller

The MRM vs. Transwomen ***TW***

***TW: mis-gendering, strong trans*-bashing, transphobic violence***

In the primer, I shared what I felt was a useful summary excerpt from a very good article by Jaclyn Friedman. I also found some interesting reading on attempts to ‘rebrand’ the Men’s Rights Movement, in light of the negative publicity generated by… well, by speaking. Here is some of what I read:

But, what I just couldn’t pry myself away from was a post in “The Spearhead.” (seen as one of the “moderate” and “respectable” MRM drivel-spiggots)

I thought it was especially appropriate, given that I have been talking about transgender motherhood, I wanted to share a little gem with you from this past Mother’s Day. After I let the author, W.F Price have the floor, I will be back with some thoughts.
Here is the article, presented unaltered, with extremely strong trigger warnings:


A NY Times Mother’s Day Op-ed: Trannies are Equal Moms

by W.F. Price on May 12, 2013

When you see some kinds of articles, you start to understand why it was prescient women like Phyllis Schlafly who killed the Equal Rights Amendment. Men were pretty much in favor. I mean, what’s not to like about it? Under legal gender equality women would have to share all the crap that falls primarily on men’s shoulders. However, it should be pointed out that feminists, with a few notable exceptions, never supported it either. The version they supported included something known as the “Hayden Rider,” which preserved all female privileges and exemptions while granting women all of men’s privileges, i.e. the status quo.

But a brave, valiant minority is challenging female supremacy. Not patriarchal drones or supporters of male privilege, but men who reject everything about masculinity. Men who reject it so much that they chop off their genitalia and take female hormones in order to eradicate everything male about them.

One of these stalwart, self-mutilating individuals – a “former” male who goes by the name Jennifer Finley Boylan – has declared that he’s every bit the mother as any woman. Sure, he had children as a male, but that doesn’t mean he can’t now call himself “mom,” and demand they do the same. However, it isn’t only his kids who must call him “mother,” but all of us. If we don’t accept that he’s a mother, we’re bigots. Why? Because he has shared the defining maternal experience, which he puts down as “suffering.”

ONE day, toward the end of my transition from father to mother, I came home to find my 6-year-old son looking thoughtful. “Are you all right?” I asked.

“Yes,” Sean said quietly. He was playing with Thomas the Tank Engine. His favorite engine was No. 5, red James. That had also been my name, back before it became Jenny.

“What are you thinking?”

“It’s just it used to be you and me and Zach, the three boys on one side,” he said, “and Mommy and Lucy-dog on the other.”

“I know,” I said, feeling my heart clench.

“Now it’s Zach and me on one side, and you and Mommy and Lucy-dog over there.”

“I’m sorry, Sean,” I said. My voice was barely a whisper. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s O.K.,” said Sean. “The boys are just outnumbered.”

I have been a dad for 6 years, a mom for 12, and for a time in between I was both, or neither, like some parental version of the schnoodle or the cockapoo.


People have pointed out to me that, despite calling myself a mother, I didn’t give birth to my sons. They’re right, of course. But there is a lot more to parenting than birthing, just as there is a lot more to a novel than its opening sentence. After this long journey from an opposite-sex couple to a same-sex one, my wife and I can say it’s what comes after that counts.

I understand the reluctance many people have to play down the importance of gender, or for that matter, biology, in parenting; a world in which male and female are not fixed poles but points in a spectrum is a world that feels unstable, unreal. And yet to accept the wondrous scope of gender is to affirm the potential of life, in all its messy beauty. Motherhood and fatherhood are not binaries. And that, I’d argue, is a good thing.

Only a small percentage of American households now consist of married couples with children in which only the father works. The biggest outliers in our culture are not same-sex couples, or transgender people, or adoptive parents, or single fathers, but the so-called traditional American families themselves.

What does it even mean, at this hour, to call anybody traditional? Surely it is not the ways in which we conform that define us, but the manner in which we each seek our own perilous truth.

Pure self-indulgence of the most disgusting variety, and highlighted on Mother’s Day. I’d like to say it’s sacrilegious, but sadly it is appropriate. I understand why some of the most selfish, depraved men among us would want to relinquish their masculinity. In our society, women are free to pursue their heart’s desire without fear of sanction. Judging women for putting their own needs first is condemned in every mainstream outlet, from Dr. Phil to The Atlantic.

Some men are bound to be envious of this. Some of them go so far as to try to try to become a woman. And what kind of woman do they emulate? The worst parody of one. Gaudy, self-righteous, exhibitionist, attention-seeking, demanding, selfish and all too willing to place their burdens on others.

And in this great society we have built, it is they who stand at the pulpit and speak to the masses.



Let’s all just take a minute. Let your arms fall loosely at your sides. Draw a good, full breath, hold it a moment, and let it escape slowly from your mouth.

Okay. Are we good? Let me establish what I think are some parameters.
First off, I will never be able to educate Mr. Price.
Second, Many of you could probably write at least as good a response as what I am about to.

I am talking to those in the middle. The people who read that post and thought, “I can see both sides of this.” If you said that, I am talking to you.

I began this by writing a character assassination. It was disturbingly easy to find materials. But I don’t want to have to shoot every messenger who pollutes the world with this kind of hate. Thus, I deleted it.

I’d much prefer to appeal to your humanity.

Let’s start by establishing that Jennifer Finley Boylan is a person. She has feelings. She has a family, who also have feelings. One predictable outcome of Mr. Price’s insidious hate speech is that these people’s feelings would be hurt… profoundly. Who is helped by that?

Then we go out one layer to find people like me. People desperately trying to carve out a place in this world when the endless shouting of the W.F. Price’s of the world trying to take those places away… People like the ones who made this:

Go out another layer still, and find those who haven’t yet learned enough about transgender people to know what to think about us. Gosh! If it means male perverts in girls’ bathrooms, I’d better make sure those trans-whatchamacallits stay the hell away from my kids.

Which is just great!

In fact, why don’t we just round up all the transgender people and put them into internment camps, like Todd Kincannon, the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party suggested.

Oh, and remember that scary pervert in the girls’ bathroom that everyone is so scared of? Here she is:  Seriously. This is SIX YEAR OLD Coy Mathis. THIS GIRL, and others just like her are what people are loosing their shit over.

And, even if this was an adult transwoman like myself, we don’t have any intentions of causing trouble in bathrooms. We are far too busy being afraid for our own safety

Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, was viciously beaten by two teenage girls after allegedly trying to use the women’s restroom at the McDonald’s restaurant.

This may all seem like fun and games to you, Mr. Price, but I am paying for the real-life consequences of the hate that you invoke.

Too many of my sisters have paid a far greater toll…

In 2012, 256 transgender people were murdered because they dared to exist.

Infighting in the Broader LGBTQIA+ Community

In April, I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a presentation by Erin Davies, whose documentary “Fagbug” sought to bring attention to acts of hate against gay people.

One of the points presented in the film is that some people within the gay community became upset with her methods and message. While certainly not a messiah among gays, Erin seems to be trying to do the best job she can. What else can one realistically ask?

…and, she is hardly the first entity to divide opinion within the group. The Mattachine Society, The Daughters of Bilitis, ACT UP… Indeed, the Stonewall Riots themselves were hotly debated within the community as to the ‘correctness’ of their message.

When I asked Ms. Davies why she thought there was so much strife over her activism, she pointed to the absence of a clear leader in the movement. Ellen Degeneres, she mentioned, was about the closest thing to a spokesperson the movement has.

No single person can be the exclusive representative of a movement. We look back on the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as being the definitive voice of the struggle for Africa-American civil rights. This is a very over-simplified perspective. Many in the black community had disagreements with the methods and messages of Dr. King, some of them quite impassioned. That said, it was obviously useful that the movement had Dr. King to lead, and serve as a media spokesperson.

Whether or not a leadership vacuum is to blame, it does seem absolutely ridiculous that we seem to have the energy to fight amongst ourselves. At the time of this post, only 14 US states, and the District of Columbia extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. (Hawaii and Illinois may be close to joining them.)

Marriage equality is an important cause, as is employment non-discrimination. In the case of the latter, the trans* community was arguably thrown under the bus by the Human Rights Campaign and then Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) among others, by not supporting inclusion of gender identity protections in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) The counter argument to this is that adding protections for gender identity was a “poison pill” which would ensure the defeat of any such legislation. One might even believe that there was the potential to set the trans* community back by inviting debate on a subject which enjoyed no popular support at the time.

Whatever the truth may be about all of this, it’s another prime example of the notion that we just can’t seem to present a unified movement. Even within any of the subsets of the LGBTQIA+ community, there is considerable disagreement on demands and tactics. While robust conversation is healthy and helpful to such causes, the vitriolic nature of LGBTQIA+ infighting is painful for me to witness.

How Very Timely (Second in the trans* attraction series.)


Today I set about my usual task of contemplating which subject should be blogged about today, when, much to my delight, this appeared on my Twitter feed.

It’s an editorial published on about a cisgender, straight man who wants to join in the discussion which we find ourselves engaged in. Give it a read, I think it’ll prove to be a worthwhile piece of the puzzle I hope to put together over the next week.


I’m attracted to trans women

After years of confusion and shame, I’m ready to stop hiding the truth about my desires — and I’m not alone

I never thought I would have to come out about being attracted to women. But that’s the funny and sad position I’m in these days. Although I don’t see anything different about my sexual orientation, most people do.

About four years ago, I was an exchange student in Thailand, a country known for its large, open transgender population. While most men avoided trans women, I saw no difference between them and cisgender women (women who were born biologically female). I was attracted to trans women, in other words, and I spent the next three years of my life in confusion and shame.

The heteronormative world in which we live had successfully convinced me that being attracted to transgender women meant I had a fetish. I began questioning my sexuality and even my masculinity.  I didn’t even know what to call my sexual orientation.  Finally one day, after hours of searching, I came across two terms that described what I was feeling. Trans-attraction and trans-orientation. Neither one is official or common, but their use is growing due to the increasing demand for a way to categorize people who are attracted to transgender people. When I saw these words, a feeling of relief washed over me: I was not alone. I don’t always describe myself as trans-attracted, but the label helped me feel like I had a place in the queer community and it helps others understand my sexuality.

My year in Thailand made it a second home for me, and I returned last spring for a study abroad semester. Once again surrounded by the transgender community, I started thinking about my sexuality almost every day and this inner conflict re-arose.  That was when I started reading queer theory. Julia Serano, a transgender activist and writer, pointed out that it is not acceptable to consider attraction to trans women a fetish, because that reduces them to fetish objects.  Trans women are treated as if they are not worthy of love. In her speech, titled “The Beauty in Us,” she said, “Because our culture deems us undesirable, our lovers and partners are often expected to explain why they choose to be with us.”  After reading that powerful speech as well as many other queer theorists, I stopped feeling so backward. It was the shaming of trans-attraction that was ridiculous — not my sexual orientation

However, I wasn’t ready to be open, because I wasn’t yet aware of the desperate societal need for me to do so. I didn’t realize just how damaging my shame could be to trans women. It wasn’t until I fell for a transgender girl in Thailand that my own toxic silence finally melted away. When we met I thought that she might be transgender, but I was not sure.  Regardless of what might be between her legs, I found her confidence, independence and grace inspiring. We started seeing each other.

We met three times before she told me she was transgender.  It breaks my heart when I remember how nervous she was. She was afraid to tell me for two reasons: One was fear of rejection. It must be so painful to be turned away and shunned by someone you like because he does not see you as a “real” woman, whatever that means. The other devastatingly sad fear that she had to deal with was fear for her safety. I could have exploded into a violent rage and responded with my fists, or even a weapon. This certainly happens to transgender women, often when all they are doing is searching for love.  According to Trans Murder Monitoring, there were 265 trans people murdered in 2012 alone. Somehow, facing those fears, she mustered the amazing strength and courage to tell me.

I watched relief pour over her face when I told her that I didn’t care.  It’s a strange world that we live in when two people who are attracted to each other have to come out to each other.  Later that evening, she turned to me and said, “I feel free.”  Finally being open about my sexuality was liberating for me, too.

So why bother coming out? I could easily hide this, since I am attracted to cisgender women, too. I decided to be open about it, though, because of how few openly trans-attracted people there are in the world and how this silence contributes to stigma about trans people and sexuality.  Although trans attraction is hardly a rare phenomenon, it remains hidden because almost all trans-attracted men are in the closet. As a result, the common assumption is that men who date trans women are desperate and simply put up with the fact that the woman is trans. Yet, we are not just OK with it; we are just as attracted to trans women as we are to cis-women, regardless of their biological sex.

A few weeks ago, in September, DJ Mister Cee, a prominent figure in the hip-hop community, was “caught” with a transgender woman.  After being outed and admitting to being attracted to trans women, he was so ashamed that he resigned from his job at the radio station Hot 97. His trans attraction was turned into a scandal. The only thing that should be considered scandalous is the fact that he had to hide his attraction in the first place.

I’ve had enough of this shaming. It’s created a disgusting culture of trans-attracted men using trans women for sex but never forming a committed relationship with them. Most trans-attracted men are only trans-attracted at night. Then, during the day, they run back to their heteronormative relationships with cis-women of whom they are not ashamed.  Even men who are in committed relationships with trans women will often tell those women that they could never introduce them to their friends or family. Imagine a woman who has been to hell and back trying to transition into who she really is only to be told by her lover that he is ashamed to be with her. The hardship that trans-attracted men go through (and believe me, it is hard) does not even come close to what trans women have to go through in their day-to-day lives. That is why it’s so important for trans-attracted men to start coming out of the closet. Personally, I am proud to be attracted to women who are so strong.


I want to get into trans* visibility in a forthcoming post, but I felt like this was a good stepping stone as prerequisite reading. There’s a compelling story unfolding, and we may be at a point where trans invisibility is no longer the favored state.

Fat Shaming and the MRM

-The following is a response to comments on this post:

I was somewhat resistant to jump into this one, because others have already done wonderful work here, and frankly, I cannot add anything that hasn’t been covered. But, as this has found its way to my door, here I go. BTW, to address concerns over troll-feeding, this person (until their last post went awry in paragraph two) has been reasonable in their approach, and I am happy to engage in polite discourse as long as it remains that way.

***TW: Fat shaming, Rape culture***

As far as I can tell, ‘Fat Shaming Week’ was a project of the website ‘Return of Kings’ (linked, but not recommended) A cursory glance at their page seems to indicate that their work includes both MRA and PUA themes, so I am really unsure how anyone outside these movements would be able to distinguish which arm of its operation was responsible for ‘Fat Shaming Week.’

I left your second paragraph comments alone, but added a warning. I just can’t begin to know what you hoped to accomplish through the use of that kind of language. You are attempting to make an argument that there is a difference between attempting to police the weight of someone who is slightly overweight as opposed to someone who is significantly overweight. I would argue that trying to police another person’s weight, no matter their BMI, is always the same. You’re always going to be taking away the body autonomy of that person, and you’re always going to be dictating to another human being how they should feel about themselves.

Beyond that, even if there was something ‘wrong’ with being fat, who the hell is anyone but that person to decide what life choices are appropriate for them? And who is anyone but them able to know what factors affect their weight?

Your precious Mr. Elam seems to believe that fatness is an effective rape-repellant. (linked but definitely not suggested) So, given that thinking, shouldn’t everyone get fat? And, since we are on the subject of rape and obesity, survivors of sexual violence and misconduct make up 30% – 40% of those who are treated for eating disorders.

If the next argument is to toss some pseudoscience at me and attempt to show a causal relationship between obesity and healthcare costs, I will point out that it is exceedingly difficult to discern whether there is a direct causal link (as opposed to a correlative one) or if secondary factors may be the cause of both the obesity and the health issues.

I am fat. At the time of my last checkup three months ago, I was also in good health. Usually the rebuttal to this is what has come to be called the “Vague Future Heath Threat” which goes something like “Yes, you’re healthy now, but it won’t be long before your fatness has negative consequences.”

In essence, this false notion about health is no different from any other straw-man arguments. It’s the same as saying “I am not a homophobe, I just want to make sure you are looking out for your eternal soul.”  I call BULLSHIT!

One thing that can be shown: people who are fat-shamed tend to GAIN weight. Let me say that again. People who are fat-shamed tend to gain weight.

So, is this really about health? Is this really about your ‘concern‘ for my wellness, or a ‘concern‘ over healthcare costs. No. This is about your hierarchical self-esteem, and your sheep-like reiteration of some asshole’s assertion that they get to decide what everyone else should look like.

I have bad news for your movement: I love my fat thighs, my soft tummy, and my curves. …And you know who else does? The gorgeous women of all sizes who fuck me!

There is a wealth of information on fat and health, here are a few resources:

Also, here are some great responses to Fat Shaming:

All my love dear fat sisters, and dear skinny sisters alike.
You deserve love, and you deserve a space in which to love yourself.


  • “After I washed my car, it rained. Therefore washing my car causes rain.”
  • “When I got in the bath tub, the phone rang. Therefore getting in the bath will lead to the phone ringing.”
  • “We won our baseball game when I was wearing these socks, so it must be the lucky socks that caused our win.”

– See more at:

  • “After I washed my car, it rained. Therefore washing my car causes rain.”
  • “When I got in the bath tub, the phone rang. Therefore getting in the bath will lead to the phone ringing.”
  • “We won our baseball game when I was wearing these socks, so it must be the lucky socks that caused our win.”

– See more at:

  • “After I washed my car, it rained. Therefore washing my car causes rain.”
  • “When I got in the bath tub, the phone rang. Therefore getting in the bath will lead to the phone ringing.”
  • “We won our baseball game when I was wearing these socks, so it must be the lucky socks that caused our win.”

– See more at:

Extra: The MRM (Men’s Rights Movement)

In recent weeks, I’ve become aware of a growing community of very vocal activists for something I have come to know is called the Men’s Rights Movement.

The voices which I have come across are entirely negative and using misinformation and panic over… I really don’t know what they’re so panicked about, really.

Listening to these people talk is like listening to the most radicalized among any community. They are so very upset, that the message gets lost in the unrelated vitriol.

In doing a bit of digging, I was able to find five points that seem valid:

Demanding that male survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault to be taken seriously.

Changing the narrative about statutory rape of males as “sexy.”

Advocating Intactivism (activism against the practice of circumcision)

Protecting genuinely economically disadvantaged people who actually lack the means to pay child support from entering our for-profit prison system.

Doing away with gender bias in child visitation considerations.

I’m all for these.

No qualifiers or commentary; these are worthy ideas.

Now that actual merits have been set aside, I can take on the overwhelming bulk of what the movement has to say, which is:


That’s really the underpinning of everything (apart from the above mentioned exclusions)


“We hate fat women, we hate powerful women, we hate women who want a place in political discussions, we hate women who expect child support, we hate women with the nerve to turn in their rapists, we hate women who recognize that all non-consensual sex is rape, we hate women who prefer an egalitarian view of their familial roles, we hate women who expect us to actively participate in maintaining healthy relationships, we hate how (or even that) women talk, and we hate women who fail to recognize that they are sex objects.”

I’m sure that all of you could grow this list to pages upon pages long, but this is a reasonable start, I hope.

All things considered, this group feels a lot like the Tea Party movement to me. There may be a handful of reasonable people with a handful of reasonable ideas, but it if reasonable ideas were supposed to be the point, they have been supplanted by a cacophony of radical ones. I don’t think this movement has the power to do much besides affecting the further corruption of the ignorant. -The fear I have is just how large a group of people “ignorant” describes.

Remember, my sisters, they don’t own us, they don’t own our voices, and they don’t own our bodies. We have come too far to let a temper-tantrum en masse to destroy what so many have given so much for.

Let’s take time to give love to those men who believe, as we do, that the world only works when women are truly counted as equals.

All my love,


The Fault is in Our WORDS *(TW Rape)*

-With special thanks to The Keeper for a great chat about social power.-


Rape culture



Religious intolerence

If the powerful get to dictate how we discuss the morality of an issue, can we ever have meaningful social justice?

I have too many ideas, and am having difficulty narrowing my conversation, so let me start this way: Think of “Pretty Woman.” This film, and so many films like it, suggest(s) that an empirical vision of what is ‘right’ can win over one that’s ‘wrong’ even if there is a social stratification of those doing the arguing.

“It is wrong to be aggressive or cold in your venture capitalism, because a prostitute said so.”

Can you imagine that actually happening? Never!

And yet, that is our great lie of an American narrative.

The Horatio Alger “Anybody can make it, and everybody matters” narrative is, at best, incorrect. (At its worst, you could argue that this type of narrative is deliberately perpetuated to assuage the ire of the disadvantaged by falsely creating a belief that they can succeed as a group.)

I became familiar with a new term this morning: “TERF, or Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.” …and, really, what an insidious thing to be. Here is someone who believes that it’s unacceptable for men to deny full personhood to women, and sees how blatantly unacceptable that is. But, even with the ability to identify the injustice of patriarchy cannot see the same problems of privilege when it is they who are exercising it.

Which begs an interesting question: Can we only see injustice upwards?

Rape culture centers on this idea. It’s only wrong, or a crime, if the privileged see it as such. I was in Texas during the trial of the Stubenville rapists. As I ate my lunch one afternoon, I was listening to ESPN’s coverage on the TV in the restaurant’s dining room. Listening to male sportscasters discuss the nature of what had happened was truly as though it was from another world.

But, what became visible to me was that there was a changing cultural narrative about consent, and that the narrative was changing because it was starting to be framed from the perspective of survivors, rather than that of perpetrators. So, here again, the problem looks a lot different for those who suffer its consequences.

Narratives work this way. The powerful and privileged tell stories in a completely different way. They decide who is at fault, who is right, who is wrong.

Cisgender women, are women with transgender histories actually problematic for you? Do we not deserve the justice of being counted as your sisters?

Cis/straight men, are women actually problematic for you? Do we not deserve the justice of being counted as your equals?

White, American-born people, are those of other ethnicities or national origins actually problematic for us? Do they not deserve the justice of being counted as ‘Real Americans?’

Lastly, can those of us with various forms of privilege PLEASE stop asking about the nature of these problems from other privileged people? Only a disadvantaged person can truly show us the devastation of privilege.

Make the world better, ask how you can lift up another person.

Love ‘ya!

Extra: Here’s an interesting look at straight privilege, in which the filmmakers flipped the world to a homonormative one to demonstrate the issue of homophobic bullying *(TW bullying, suicidal thoughts)*

Is the Electorate Smart Enough to Protect Itself?

In his 2004 book, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” Thomas Frank evaluates the ability for right-wing politicians to win elections, despite touting policies which are harmful to the economic and social programs which serve their potential constituents.

A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Political Science found that genetic, environmental, and educational differences can lead to fear responses toward “out-groups” (those not like us) As a result, the fearful tended to espouse anti-immigrant, or pro-segregationist beliefs. Simply put, there are deep-seated fear responses which are partially responsible for people’s irrational political behavior.

In an article for “Psychology Today,” Dr. Deborah Serani writes: “It’s been said that fear-based media has become a staple of popular culture. The distressing fall-out from this trend is that children and adults who are exposed to media are more likely than others to (a) feel that their neighborhoods and communities are unsafe, (b) believe that crime rates are rising, (c) overestimate their odds of becoming a victim, and (d) consider the world to be a dangerous place.”

The overall puzzle, and I am only cutting short the citations for brevity’s sake, is that the human brain can do lots of things, but not all at once. In particular, the functions associated with fear response override those associated with logic and rational thought. Likewise, our decision centers are more closely connected to emotional responses than to things like language centers. Bottom line here: It’s pretty easy to scare people into doing stuff, even if the stuff doesn’t actually make sense.

Looking at the rhetoric around the president alone, we see examples of political players triggering fear responses to the idea that he “is Muslim, is a Communist, is from Kenya, is gay, wants to use FEMA to intern the American people in camps allowing the UN to instate a new world order and impose a unified currency.” -yes, that last one is really a thing. Message: THE SCARY LIBERALS ARE GOING TO GET YOU! So, freak out, and don’t pay attention to how little sense any of that actually makes.

It has proven similarly useful to use religion to frighten people into acting against their own interests. Think about the ‘culture war’ issues: reproductive care, gay rights, immigration, gun control, “the war on Christmas” This is a very similar message, it just incorporates the use of an imaginary friend. GOD HATES THE SCARY LIBERALS, AND YOU SHOULD TOO!

To be clear, I have not liked many of the President’s policies, and I do not think the White House has handled negotiations well at all. Obamacare is terrible, in that, it still is an enormous for-profit enterprise. In other words: there is a profit incentive to minimize and deny care.

Another angle I want to touch on briefly is that both critical thinking and civics have been eliminated from many public school’s curriculum. Our schools are turning out graduates whose ability to evaluate information is neglected in favor of memorization exercises. How can we possibly have a thoughtful discourse on policy if public education is not affording the populous the means to decide for themselves? How can our nation possibly be a true democracy with such systemic blocks in place to prevent a majority of Americans from ever having a real place at the table?

That’s a beginning…. What do you think? Despite it being a right and obligation, do voters deserve the responsibility for making these weighty decisions?