Obama declares June Pride Month!

Even if you knew this, it’s nice to read it again. How are you celebrating our Pride Month?

The White House Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 28, 2010
Presidential Proclamation–Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month

As Americans, it is our birthright that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights, privileges, and opportunities. Since our earliest days of independence, our Nation has striven to fulfill that promise. An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.

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I am always on high alert this time of year for the  appearance of anger and bigotry.  All the days around April 19th make me a bit nervous.  Maybe this is because I’ve lived a life which has seen the David Koresh debacle, the tragic Oklahoma City bombing, and the horrific scenes of Columbine.  I have coincidentally had two partners in my life with birthdays on April 19th (and a close friend whose birthday is on September 11th).  So these dates stand out to me and many others.  Every year I feel as if I am holding my breath this week, worrying that fear and hatred will explode in the ugliest of ways.  This year, as April 19th was winding down, I started to breathe a sense of relief, only to find out that the African- American student body president of the local college was stabbed in what appears to be a hate crime.  He is now recovering in the hospital days after helping to lead a diversity summit on campus that discussed hate crimes.  Apparently, he was accosted by young men who called him racial slurs and would not let him walk by, even when he attempted to walk away.  What is it about this time of year that brings out the craziness in people?  Why not make April 19th Non-Violence Day or a Day of Compassion instead?

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Capitol T: Growing a Movement for Transgender Equality, the 5th Annual Transgender Leadership Summit

This is reposted from the website of the Transgender Law Center.

Register now for the Leadership Summit

For the past five years, hundreds of transgender and allied leaders have gathered in California to develop organizational, professional and personal leadership skills to advocate for transgender equality.
Capitol T: Growing a Movement for Transgender Equality, the 5th Annual Transgender Leadership Summit, will be hosted at the University of California at Davis on Friday, May 14, 2010 through Sunday, May 16, 2010.
This year will be historic as we introduce the first ever California Transgender Advocacy Day on Monday, May 17, 2010 in Sacramento at the California State Capitol. Make sure to join us at this important event in California’s history as we reach out and educate legislators throughout California about the need for good jobs and health care for our community.
Schedule (preliminary, subject to change)
Friday, May 14th
6:00-7:00 PM –– Registration and Social Mixer
7:00-8:00 PM –– Welcome Reception
8:00-9:00 PM –– Plenary Session
9:00-9:30 PM –– Social Mixer
Saturday, May 15th
8:00-9:00 AM –– Registration
9:00-10:20 AM –– Plenary Session
10:30-11:50 AM –– Workshop Session 1
12:00-2:00 PM –– Lunch Break
2:00-3:20 PM –– Workshop Session 2
3:30-4:50 PM –– Workshop Session 3
5:00-6:00 PM –– Plenary Session
8:00 PM –– Sacramento Host Committee Event
Sunday, May 16th
9:00-10:00 AM –– Registration
10:00-12:00 AM –– Advocacy Day Training
12:00-2:00 PM –– Lunch Break
2:00-2:50 PM –– Advocacy DayPractice
3:00-5:00 PM –– Plenary Session featuring Senator Mark Leno
Monday, May 17th Historic Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Sacramento
8:00-9:00 –– Registration
9:00-5:00 –– Visits with lawmakers
12:00-1:00 –– Lunch and speakers at the Capitol Steps
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It’s that time of the year, time to celebrate the second-ever International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2010.  Originating in Michigan last year, Rachel Crandall of Transgender Michigan started a movement by posting the idea on Facebook.  Since then, events have happened all over the world.  According to Crandall, she wanted to show the positive side of the transgender world rather than focusing only on the Day of Remembrance which remembers those who perished because of transphobic hate crimes.  If you are on Facebook, be sure to look up the page and share the information with others.  If you are looking for ideas for how to celebrate, you can look to see what other people are doing.  If you already know, take a minute and share your ideas with our readers.  Here in California, the day coincides with Cesar Chavez day so many schools are closed and some campuses have decided to celebrate the day early or late to maximize visibility.  Our local college is planning a Gender Bender Fashion Show this week, followed by informational tabling and displays on Monday the 29th, a couple days earlier.  The plan is to have free  temporary tattoos available and t-shirts to buy or order.  What are your ideas?

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On January 20th, 2010, the International Olympic Committee officials told the Associated Press that it was recommending the creation of special medical centers that would handle sex-verification cases for Olympic athletes.    They also called for the establishment of guidelines to determine gender eligibility on a case-by-case basis, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

Last August, Caster Semenya, won a gold medal in the 800 meters at the Berlin World Championships.  Sex testing was ordered after athletes complained that she looked “too masculine.”  No one knows if she will be allowed to compete as a woman in future races, but she was allowed to keep the gold medal.

Experts are noting how messy it is to determine biological sex, particularly among individuals who may be knowingly, or unknowingly, intersex.  Genitalia may be ambiguous.  Do they compete as male or female?  This is what happens when the inexact spectrum of gender meets the arbitrary gender restrictions of the gender binary.  Chaos ensues.

According to the New York Times, many athletes have complained that sex testing can be invasive and traumatic.  Can you imagine getting your sex verified before going into work?  Intersex individuals have been humiliated, have lost opportunities, scholarships, friends, partners, and athletic records.

If you look at the history of gender-verification in the Olympics, it isn’t pretty.  Physical exams have been required for a long time for the female athletes (guess they don’t think women will pose as men).  Then there was chromosome testing, but a Y chromosome wasn’t a foolproof gender marker.  In the late 1990s, athletes were required to urinate in front of an observer so genitalia would be readily observable.  But what about individuals whose observable genitalia look ambiguous?  The Endocrine Society has advocated against the use of medical tests but advocates, instead, for using how the person was raised.  Others note that elite athletes inherently have inborn advantages over the rest of the population anyway.

Since 2004, transsexuals have been allowed to compete but only after meeting three stringent requirements.  It is questionable, however, if there is sufficient evidence that any competitive advantage exist for transsexual athletes over typically-gendered athletes.

The blog The F Word notes, “The only thing about sex and gender that the Olympic committee know for sure is this: the only women who are undeniably 100% women are royalty, as Princess Anne was the only female athlete who didn’t have to have to submit a sex test at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. And of course it had nothing to do with the fact that she was the daughter of Canada’s Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II.”  I am old enough to remember that controversy.  If this testing is too invasive and undignified for a princess, shouldn’t it be too invasive and undignified for anyone?

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Well, we were talking about Billy Tipton the other day and realized that a lot of people had no idea who we were talking about.  So I found this older posting on the web that gives a quick picture of an amazing figure in gender-variant history.  Go to this link for the original post:  http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1060/whats-the-story-on-the-female-jazz-musician-who-lived-as-a-man
A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil’s Storehouse of Human Knowledge
June 5, 1998

Dear Cecil:

There was a news story a few years back about a jazz musician who died and was found to be a woman after living her life as a man. She was married and had three grown children who refused to believe their father was a woman. No one I ask remembers this. Do you?

— SMENGI, via AOL

Cecil replies:

You think I could forget the story of Billy Tipton? Yes, she lived as a man from age 21 till the day she died at age 74. Yes, her three sons (all adopted) never suspected a thing. But that’s not the bizarre part. She lived with five women in succession, all of them attractive, a couple of them knockouts. She had intercourse with at least two of them and, who knows, maybe all five. But of the three we know about in detail, none tumbled to the fact that her husband was a woman (one figured it out later). At first you might think: man, I thought my spouse was oblivious. But the more charitable view is that they were taken in by one of the great performances of all time.

We know as much as we know about Billy thanks to a newly published biography by Diane Wood Middlebrook, Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton. Middlebrook reports that Dorothy Lucille Tipton decided to become Billy Tipton in 1935, ostensibly because it was the only way an aspiring jazz musician could get work in an almost exclusively male business. The transformation wasn’t all that tough. Billy’s face was boyish, and her figure was more Coke can than Coke bottle. (She had sizable breasts but no waist.) A sheet wrapped around her chest, men’s clothes, and a bit of padding in the crotch, and she easily passed. In fact Billy was positively handsome; women thought he was a doll. A talented pianist, horn player, and tenor, he quickly found a gig with a band.

At first Billy was strictly a cross-dresser, making no great effort to conceal her femaleness during her off hours. She lived with a woman with the unusual name of Non Earl Harrell, in what other musicians assumed was a lesbian relationship. Initially they were based in Oklahoma City, but by 1940 they had moved to Joplin, Missouri, then an entertainment center. There Billy began to masquerade as a male full-time, a pose he would adopt for the rest of his life.

Billy and Non Earl broke up in 1942. After a liaison of some years with a singer named June, Billy took up with Betty Cox, a pretty 19-year-old with a striking figure. The two stayed together for seven years, during which they had what Betty recalled as a passionate heterosexual relationship, including intercourse. She even thought she’d had a miscarriage once. How could you share a bed with someone for seven years and not realize he was a she? Breathtaking naivete had to be part of it, plus the fact that, as an accomplished entertainer who was 13 years Betty’s senior, Billy called the shots. They made love only in the dark. Billy never removed his underwear and wore a jockstrap that Betty later speculated was fitted with a “prosthesis.” He wore massive chest bindings at all times, supposedly for an old injury. He would not let himself be touched below the waist nor disturbed in the bathroom. Betty may also have been a bit distracted. Acquaintances said she went out with other men while she was with Billy, and while she appears to have been genuinely fond of him, in some ways this may have been a marriage of convenience for both.

A turning point in Billy’s life came in 1958. He had his own trio and a growing reputation, and a new hotel in Reno wanted to hire his group as its house band. He seemed on the verge of, if not the big time, at least a fairly high-profile career. But Billy declined. Instead he took a job as a booking agent in Spokane, Washington, playing music on the side. Middlebrook thinks he feared fame would lead to discovery and decided he’d gone as far as he dared.

At this point Billy was living with a sometime call girl, but in the early 60s he left her for a beautiful but troubled stripper named Kitty Kelly. She claimed she and Billy never had sex, but in other respects they lived a stereotypical suburban life. They adopted three boys, but neither could handle the kids during adolescence, and after a bitter quarrel in 1980 Billy moved into a trailer with his sons. From there it was all downhill. The boys split, his income dried up, and he spent his last years broke. Refusing to see a doctor despite failing health, he collapsed and died in 1989. The paramedics who were trying to revive him uncovered the truth. Death must have come as a relief; he had been on stage nearly 54 years.

— Cecil Adams

My thoughts on the article:  Now I plan to put the above-mentioned biography on my reading list, right after I finish The Danish Girl (more on this later).  I’m thinking that Billy died in 1989, not so very long ago.  I had graduated from college and was headed to graduate school, completely unaware of the tragic last years of Billy Tipton.  I’m wondering how many years will pass until people will be treated like people, celebrated for their differences and not forced to into the soul-sucking conformity that society expects?

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Have you noticed the nifty widget of Coyote Grace, one of our favorite folk bands, over there on the right hand side of this website?  With a rocking redhead and a charmingly handsome transman, this band has been paying dues on the road for awhile.  We had the pleasure of seeing them live at Chico State this year and hearing them talk about their journey together during Joe’s transition.  Their music was mesmerizing and reflected all the usual themes of love and loss with an added layer of complexity reflecting identity changes in the mix.  Click on the widget over there to hear more of their music.  (Check out the poignant lyrics to Ghost Boy on their main fan page while you are at it.)

We didn’t think it could get any better, but they will be opening for four shows for the Indigo Girls, queer folk legends,  in late March:

Tuesday, March 23rd, in Corvalis, OR

Wednesday, March 24th, in Reno, NV

Thursday, March 25th, in Santa Rosa, CA

Friday, March 26th, in San Francisco, CA

Again, go to the widget on the side of the page, to get updated news about their tours and sign up for their mailing list if you want to keep current.  It’s always fun to watch a band hit the big time.  When they are genuinely amazing people, it’s even more of a pleasure….

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Taking a break right now from watching people file in to the Grammy’s to catch you guys up on Lucas Silveira, the vocalist and guitarist for the Canadian band the Cliks.  Lucas recently won the Sexiest Canadian  Man award in an online poll for CHART (www.chartattack.com) and is in the middle of major changes in his band the Cliks.  By the way, rumor has it that the Cliks is a contraction of clits and dicks!  The Cliks record under the Warner music label in Canada and the Tommy Boy label in the U.S.  Their music has been called rock, alternative, pop or indie, and even punk.  The band’s music has been called a cross between the Pretenders and David Bowie.   Major albums to date are The Cliks (2004), Snakehouse (2007) and Dirty King (2009).

The band toured in the True Colors Tour in 2008 along with Cyndi Lauper, the B-522s and Tegan and Sara.  In the midst of a major transition, the newest members of Clik backing Lucas are Brian Viglione (of Dresden Dolls) and Tobi Parks, replacing queer-identified Jen Benton and Morgan Doctor in a break-up that has been said to be acrimonious.  Apparently, being on the road “beat us up and knocked us out” according to Silveira.

Silveira has hinted that a new album is in the works for this Spring with the new band members.  Silviera dropped out of music school and is basically self-taught.  His swagger, flowing tattoos, and signature tie scream confidence and bravado which, no-doubt, has helped during recent periods of tremendous personal and professional turbulence. Sacrificing the use of male hormones in order to maintain his singing voice, Silveira’s voice and presence create an indelible image in the minds and hearts of his fans.  To check him out for yourself, click on www.thecliks.com for news and music.

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Page 1

HELLO, CRUEL WORLD LITE : BETA 1.0.1

AN OUTLAW’S MINIGUIDE TO SURVIVAL BASICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY BY KATE BORNSTEIN (BASED ON MY SHINY NEW BOOK! )

FEEL FREE TO COPY THIS FOR WHOEVER YOU THINK COULD USE A COPY.

KISS KISS,

KATE

You’re better off alive, no matter how messed up you think you might be right now. And you’re better off alive no matter how mean someone is being to you. You are simply better off alive than dead—no matter who or what you are, no matter who or what you love, and no matter what you do. Just don’t be mean. Being mean never works. Never. So that’s the only rule I can think of that’s worth following in life: don’t be mean. Yes, you can be mean to yourself if that’s what’s going to keep you alive. I’m sorry if that’s happening to you. But keep in mind that there are alternatives that hurt a lot less, and I hope you find one soon. Do what you have to do, and stay alive because it gets better. I promise. xoxo Kate

A WORD ABOUT GOD

So, what happens if you do something to keep yourself alive, and it’s
something God says not to do? Well, start looking around for
another God—a God or Goddess or whatever—who believes in you.
But until you find that new God or Goddess or whatever, here’s a
Get Out of Hell Free card. If you’re doing what you need to do in order to
stay alive, and you’re not being mean to anyone, and you end up in Hell, you
give the this card to whoever’s in charge. I’ll do your time in Hell for you.

A WORD ABOUT SERIAL SUICIDE

I think we need to pay a lot of attention to the times we just want to die, because we can use those moments as signals to ourselves that some identity or who that we’ve made ourselves into just isn’t working for us any more. When you feel suicidal, don’t kill yourself. Don’t kill your body. Kill off the who of you that needs to die in order that a better version of you can go on living a more perfectly delightful life, a life that makes you feel better.

A WORD ABOUT FEELING BETTER

It’s better that we want to feel, not necessarily happy. Fuck trying to feel happy all the time. It doesn’t work. Happiness only really happens when our guard is down and we’re finally letting life’s naturally positive energy into our hearts, and how often do we feel safe enough to do that? Instead, try to feel better than what you’re feeling right this minute. Try that right now. How do you feel? Can you pinpoint how you’re feeling… beyond good or bad? When you can spot what it is you’re feeling, it’s easier to find a slightly better feeling, and then a better feeling than that, and then a better feeling than that. So, you end up always being able to make yourself feel better. Cool, huh? It takes lots of practice, and it’s worth it. Here’s a scale of feelings that works for me. As you work with it, you can modify it so it most accurately works for you. Just find what’s closest to what you’re feeling, and try to think of something that makes you feel closer to any of the words just above that. Focus on that better feeling, and keep climbing up like that.

THE HELLO CRUEL SCALE OF FEELINGS

1. Joy, Wisdom
2. Love, Freedom
3. Passion, Bliss
4. Empowerment
5. Positive Expectation, Belief
6. Delight
7. Satisfaction,Contentment
8. Appreciation
9. Optimism, Cheerfulness
10. Hopefulness
11. Pessimism
12. Irritation
13. Frustration
14. Overwhelm
15. Disappointment
16. Doubt
17. Worry, The Blues
18. Blame
19. Discouragement
20. Anger
21. Vengefulness
22. Rage, Hatred
23. Jealousy
24. Guilt/Shame
25. Uselessness
26. Grief, Loneliness
27. Fear, Terror, Panic
28. Depression, Despair
29. Hopelessness, Trapped

THE MASTER’S TOOLS WILL NEVER DISMANTLE THE MASTER’S HOUSE.–Audre Lorde

So what tools can you use? What do you do when you’re living in the master’s house and it’s making life miserable for you and others? Most outsiders and outcasts have been on the receiving end of a bully’s anger, so we are often loathe to use a bully’s methods. But after a while—and usually under a great deal of pressure—some of us embrace those tools and turn them on our oppressors. I know a lot of people swear by that, but I’m trying my best not to use the following tools:

force
power over
shame
fear
hate
either/or
the end justifies
the means
intimidation
eye-for-an-eye
threats
humiliation
blame
name-calling
segregation
capitalism
divide and
conquer
theft
greed

When you don’t use the master’s tools, other tools become available to you:
the “wrong” tools for the job. These aren’t startling new tools. Most of
them have been in use for aeons. It’s just embarrassing to admit to using
some of them. They’re the tools the bullies have tossed aside as forbidden
or unworkable because they’re too scared to use them—and they’re even
more afraid that you will.

magic
love
sex
joy
patience
fairness
consensus
illogic
compromise
culture-jamming
compassion
humor
comedy
paradox
non-violence
seduction
riddles
art
visualization
affirmations
EXERCISE: Add more items to both lists of tools.
PRACTICE MODE: Do something nice for the wrong reason.
ARTSY MODE: Make art from the wrong materials.
WOO-WOO MODE: Worship God the wrong way.
MATH MODE: Solve a problem using the wrong formula.
SEX MODE: Find a fun sex toy at your local bakery.
ALTERNATE SEX MODE: Find a fun sex toy at the hardware store.
HEAVY METAL SEX MODE: Find a fun sex toy in a medical catalogue.
GANDHI MODE: Get together with a group of people who agree on which part of the master’s house needs to be dismantled. Reach consensus on how to dismantle it without using any of the master’s tools.
So, okay. I hope this “light” version of my book, Hello, Cruel World, has helped make life look a bit better for you. If so, tell a friend.

And please do stop by hellocruelworld.net and/or your friendly neighborhood
independent bookstore, and check out what the fully-loaded book has to offer!

xoxo Kate
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Maybe you’ve seen those guides lately that show you how to make healthier choices when eating out.  I know I recently used my iphone app called Eat This Not That during a recent restaurant outing.  I thought it would be interesting to use the same technique with businesses that do or don’t support the GLBT community.

Did you know it is still legal in 29 states to fire someone for being lesbian, gay, or bisexual? As of  the beginning of 2010,  it’s still legal in 38 states to fire an employee for being transgender.  Given this appalling state of affairs, it makes sense for progressive people to support businesses that support diversity.

The Human Rights Campaign just came out with an updated buyer’s guide for 2010.  Business are rated on a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the highest score possible.  Scores are based on whether or not businesses have policies that support LGBT people (anti-discrimination protections, domestic partner benefits, diversity training, transgender includsive benefits and external practices.) For a full list of businesses, you can download a guide from the HRC.  It is over 40 pages, though, so we thought we would mention a few notables.

Shop Here:  Target  (Score: 100)
Not There:  Walmart (Score: 40)

Shop Here:   Staples (Score: 93
Not There:  Office Depot (Score:45)

Shop Here:  Chili’s (Score: 100)
Not There:  Cracker Barrel (Score:15)

Stop Here:  Chevron (Score: 100)
Not There:  Exxon (Score: 0)

Stay Here:  Hyatt  (Score: 100)
Not There:  Loew’s Hotels (Score:45)

Shop Here:  AT & T (Score:100)
Not There:  T-Mobile (Score: 50)

Insure Here:  Allstate (Score: 100)
Not There:  Humana (Score: 45)

Go to www.hrc.org/buyersguide to get a complete listing.  Then think about supporting businesses that support us and putting your money where your values are.

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