April 23rd, 2014
redbird: full bookshelves and table in a library (books)
posted by [personal profile] redbird at 03:45pm on 2014-04-23 under ,
I suspect it's not actually true that I can sit down and read novels, just not in the United States.

Nonetheless, I once again got more reading done in Montreal than at home (and then not much on the flight back):

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler, is very good, a portrait of a damaged family told by one of the daughters, who talks about trying to figure out what went wrong, and her own sense of identity. (I bought this for the kindle, after seeing it had won an award; Fowler has sf connections but I'd call this mainstream. More later, maybe, if I can decide what counts as spoilery.)

The Old Vengeful, by Anthony Price, is a cold war thriller, from I think 1982; only loosely connected to some of his others, David Audley is there but not a major character. This is one of [personal profile] rysmiel's, selected in part for its relative brevity, because it was late enough in my visit that I didn't want to start a 400-page novel.

I also reread a couple of Pat Wrede's Enchanted Forest books, which are on the light and fluffy side; one before the Fowler, the other while traveling home from Montreal.

I don't know what comes next; probably either Nicola Griffith's Hild (which I have from the library and am thinking I have time to at least start and decide whether to buy or wait) or the most recent Terry Pratchett (which [personal profile] cattitude bought, so there's less temporal urgency). Or maybe I'll finish that book on the history of Spanish, rather than more fiction right now.

Posted by Monica Roberts

While positive trans friendly changes are happening at my alma mater UH and up I-10 at LSU, seems as though the opposite is transpiring at Xavier University in New Orleans.

Was sent this interesting screenshot from L'lerret Ailith of a ballot question that came out today on the XULA campus, and is due tomorrow with this interesting Question 17:  

Article VIII. Elections: Section Two- Eligibility (add Mr Xavier where Miss Xavier appears: Gender requirement)  1. Candidates for Miss Xavier/ Class Miss must be (A) female or (B) born female

In addition to the underhanded and duplicitous way this ballot question was rolled out by the Xavier SGA, L'lerret had much to say about life on the Xavier campus as a girl like us and the shady ballot question.

***

Please share this with the world so that everyone can see how blatantly transphobic Xavier University of Louisiana is.   I have been transitioning in college and as of late have been asking for more trans* amenities so I am lead to feel like this is a response to me living in my truth publicly and proudly.

They have released a ballot for the student body to vote on amendments to the constitution and one of them is to choose whether Miss. Xavier or any class Miss has to be BORN female or not.

They are publicly supporting the fate of persecution, ostracism, and discrimination of gender variant individuals. My human rights is held to a vote and majority rules.
Not only has the school simply tolerated me and not made changes I've requested (I.e gender neutral restrooms, trans* friendly housing policies and health insurance, the ability to form a GSA, etc) they now choose to publicly humiliate and subjugate my community.

I spoke to the SGA president (Javon Bracy) and she told me the word of this had been around campus for a while and so she can't do anything about it so I've opted to get community support and take public action. Help me fight this. Fight for gender equity and trans* inclusion. Fight oppression. Share this! Spread the word!
:

***

Doing that for you right now L'lerret.   This is a concrete example of the ripple effects of the transphobia and anti-trans hate injected into the Catholic Church in 2003 by Dr. Paul McHugh at the Vatican level filtering down to the flock. 

XULA also has the other dynamic coursing through its history of being an HBCU as well.  

File:Xulaseal.pngThe city of New Orleans has had a non-discrimination law that covers gender identity on the books since 1998, but Xavier seems as though it is determined to create a campus environment hostile to trans and gender variant people in a city and region chock full of them.

Xavier says in its mission statement that 'the ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.   This preparation takes place in a diverse learning and teaching environment that incorporates all relevant educational means, including research and community service.'

Looks like XULA is forgetting along with its SGA that trans and gender variant students are part of that global society in New Orleans, around the world and on the XULA campus.   By running roughshod over their human rights, your alleged diverse learning and teaching environment is failing to take their existence and humanity into account. 


posted by [syndicated profile] revlyncox_feed at 05:03pm on 2014-04-23

firstubaltimore:

a sermon from guest minister, Rev. Lyn Cox

(click above to play)

Awww! Our friends at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore podcast my Stardust sermon, previously only available on this blog as a text post. This sermon is about how science is awesome and inspiring in a spiritual and completely factual way.

Posted by Monica Roberts

Can We Talk For RealI get the opportunity to appear on another episode of the award winning Can We Talk For Real show with Ina, Michelle, and Terri Boi for the first time since I got to see them all at CC14.  

Interestingly enough, I'll be on the CWT4R to talk about another conference, the upcoming Black Trans Advocacy one next week in Dallas ,TX April 29-May 4.

Looking forward to discussing this rapidly growing third annual conference and chatting with the CWT4R team .

To be part of the conversation, you can call 347-215-8985 at 10:30 PM Eastern time, 9:30 PM Central time, 8:30 PM Mountain time and at 7:30 PM Pacific time tonight.
nancylebov: (green leaves)
Description of loan scams-- not just extremely high interest, but extorting money from people who either repaid loans, or who only applied for loans.

I've been wondering for a while why there aren't decent check-cashing and payday loan companies-- charging higher than average interest, but not outrageously so, and making the terms clear. This should especially be the case for check-cashing companies, because it seems like they're unlikely to lose money on the checks they cash.

This seems like something a non-profit or a not-for-profit could get into even if there are no for-profit corporations who want to do it (and why not?), and be a really valuable service.

What am I missing?
twistedchick: text/design -no matter where you go, there you are (where you go)
posted by [personal profile] twistedchick at 11:38am on 2014-04-23
I think, one way or another, I may have found a metaphor -- or an image -- or words -- that will get me past this whole 'body' issue. And it has to do with me being INFP, Myers-Briggsly speaking.

(ignore the grammar. the bittern is off-duty.) cut to save space, no other reason )
mrs_sweetpeach: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] mrs_sweetpeach at 08:19am on 2014-04-23 under , ,
location: Home and on my corner of the couch
Mood:: 'sleepy' sleepy
misschili: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] misschili at 11:02am on 2014-04-23 under
Mood:: 'contemplative' contemplative
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
posted by [personal profile] synecdochic at 06:56am on 2014-04-23 under
It's time for today's picture of Ginny draped over my knee and laptop being painfully cute. Earlier she unplugged my monitor cord. With her chin.
Read more... )
posted by [syndicated profile] wapsisquare_feed at 05:00am on 2014-04-23

Posted by Monica Roberts


http://1c71hb3in51z3g8k1j1nogrdvsm.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/PRINT-Justin-Tijerina-IMG_5777.jpgIt's been a week and the opponents of the UH Tittsworth Act are still grousing in their not so quiet Internet rooms about their overwhelming defeat.  

The arc of the moral universe bent toward justice for UH trans students last Wednesday night and we are deliriously happy about that win .

Far from taking their defeat and moving on to other subjects of importance to the UH student body, they are still flapping their loud and wrong gums about the Tittsworth Act after parting their lips admonishing us to not 'rub it in their faces' or 'celebrate our win'.

Contrary to what the Daily Cougar article headline stated, as I witnessed at the April 9 town hall and the SGA meeting last Wednesday, the UH student body is not divided on this issue.  

The Tittsworth Act opponents had two months, a town hall and the SGA meeting to express themselves.  They also know like 'errbody' else on the UH campus the SGA office is in UC North. 

So I ask the question I pondered last Wednesday and during the town hall.  Where were all these students the opponents kept citing as their motivation to oppose the bill?  

When the time came for opponents to prove it and this groundswell of faux opposition to stand up and be counted during the town hall and SGA vote on the Tittsworth Act they failed to do so.  

But it's interesting to note immediately after the vote was over, the opposition immediately took to social media to complain about being 'bullied' and their free speech being 'suppressed'. 

That spin line may work in conservaworld, but not in the reality based world the rest of us live in.   I also note at what passed in the LSU SGA Senate unanimously the very night we were having the town hall at UH. 

I still have to chuckle about what SGA Senator Alan Garza, one of the few opponents who had the guts to openly name and claim his loud and wrong opposition to the Tittsworth bill, had to say in the Daily Cougar article. 

"Despite taking every measure to approach the bill in a “reasonable, open-minded way,” Garza expressed his “disappointment” with students assuming he has closed-minded ideologies simply  because he disagrees with the semantics of the bill."


Um Alan, if you and your friends make bigoted ill-informed statements about transpeople, disrespectfully refer to the Tittsworth Act as 'The He/She Bill', deploy long discredited 'bathroom predator' attacks as your main argument to oppose a simple policy change that will benefit a marginalized campus group, make ridiculous claims the bill is 'vague', or that proponents of the Tittsworth Act were 'intolerant' when the evidence overwhelmingly shows y'all threw the first transphobic shade, don't be surprised if members of the trans community and their supporters see you as a bigot or oppressor.

You also suggested during the SGA meeting, Senator Garza, that trans people not be allowed to change their names on university ID unless the state of Texas recognizes it.   As I told you outside SGA chambers last Wednesday, we've been fighting for a law in Texas since 1999 to streamline the name change process.

There are three states, Tennessee, Ohio and Idaho that will not allow transpeople to change birth certificates regardless of the transitioned status of the transperson in question.  So if you're a trans UH student that happens to come from these states, they would be SOL under your proposal     

As I additionally pointed out to you, what 18 year old trans kid after paying for college tuition, fees and books, has a spare $18,000 lying around for genital surgery or the court costs to do a legal name change?  

And I damned sure don't have any sympathy for a white UH Greek system that 45 years ago was loud and wrong in its racist opposition to the election of UH's first African-American homecoming queen in Lynn Eusan.  Your arguments against this policy sounded to my ears like,."OMG, you mean we'll actually have to admit THEM to our ranks?

Naw, you Greeks can still be as self selective as you wanna be and the Tittsworth Act didn't change that.  But frankly, it's your loss if you don't admit transpeople into your Greek ranks because of your narrow minded ignorance.  You'll be missing out on some quality trans human beings who will make any  organization who opens their arms and extends membership to them infinitely better than yours.  

Tier One universities protect all of their students.   They are also charged with creating policies ensuring every student that steps on their campus can feel safe, successfully learn, and grow to be well rounded human beings in loco parentis while earning whatever degree they are pursuing there. 
 
The bottom line is that justice prevailed last Wednesday night for the trans community.   The vote not only said to trans Cougars, you are fellow Cougars and you matter, it the same message beyond the campus to the city of Houston, around the world, to trans alumni and students who are at the middle and high school levels considering where they wish to attend college. 

That policy will do wonders for the University of Houston not only for the trans students matriculating on campus right now, but future Cougars the policy will attract to our Tier One level campus we are exceedingly proud of.

April 22nd, 2014
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
posted by [personal profile] firecat at 07:39pm on 2014-04-22
"Post-Binary Gender in SF: Writing Without Revealing Gender" by Alex Dally Macfarlane

Alex says, "I like and dislike this" and gives good reasons why.

But the main reason I'm posting it is that it brought back a high school memory for me. We were assigned to write a short story. I wrote a science fiction story in the first person. The story ended with flirting between my protagonist, who was female, and another character, who was male. I wasn't trying to hide anyone's gender in the story, but the teacher assumed that my protagonist was male and so was "concerned" that I had written a story with Teh Gay in it. When I said that the character was female the teacher said I should make that more clear. I identified as het cis female at the time and I did not understand why the teacher thought my protagonist was male. But apparently characters who don't do explicitly girly things are male by default. Especially if they are in space exploration stories.
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
posted by [personal profile] synecdochic at 09:41pm on 2014-04-22
Yay, glasses are fixable for not-much-money (the dude at the Pearle took pity on me and rung them up as a different repair) and since the frames are still made, they're just ordering a new pair of the same frames and popping the existing lenses into them. Shouldn't be too long.

...mind you, until then I have to wear my old ones, but still.
nancylebov: (green leaves)
Any recommendations for a detailed hand-holding set of information?

I've got putty, but it times out in about 30 seconds.

Posted by Monica Roberts

Needed to post this NBJC news for those of you who are interested in applying for it or you know some young Black TBLG leaders in the 18-30 range that you believe need to be recognized for their work.

Over the ten years that the National Black Justice Coalition has been in operation, one of the things they have been laser focused on besides being unapologetically Black advocates for our BTLG community and the issues that affect us from our perspective is youth leadership development.

Captionless ImageThe NBJC Emerging Leaders Campaign seeks to identify rising Black LGBT leaders ages 18-30 n the Black LGBT movement.   NBJC also seeks to provide a platform and space for these standout leaders to use their voice, build networks, and take action in their communities.

It is important because not only is the youth perspective a necessary and critical one in shaping policies in our community, it is critical they become actively involved in order to hone their leadership skills, gain experience working with our season leaders and community elders.  It's also important for us as a Black LGBT community to have them in the leadership pipeline so that our LGBT movement can continue to grow, prosper, remain vibrant and relevant into the foreseeable future.

Nominations are now open for NBJC's 100 Black Emerging Leaders to Watch Campaign that is part of NBJC's commitment to developing our future LGBT leaders.

The compiled NBJC emerging Leaders to Watch List represents a consortium of standout leaders that are ripe with potential and who deserve a greater exposure.

You can nominate someone for consideration to be included on this list that will be revealed at the 2014 OUT on the Hill conference September 24-27 
   
All applicants must submit the following:
1. Completed Online Application (below)
2. Current Resume (send by e-mail or mail)
3. (1) Letter of Recommendation (send by e-mail or mail)

Applicants should e-mail submission materials to 100toWatch@nbjc.org. Please make sure to include your name in the subject line. Your letter of recommendation MUST BE signed. A scanned copy of the signed letter is permitted. If e-mail is not possible, applicants may send submission materials to:

National Black Justice Coalition
ATTN: 100toWatch
Post Office Box 71395
Washington, DC 20024

Applications are due May 30, 2014. Applications and materials submitted after the deadline will not be processed. If mailing submission components, please be sure that materials arrive to the address on or before the deadline. Packages postmarked on May 30, but received after the due date, will not be processed.

We encourage anyone interested in applying to become familiar with the National Black Justice Coalition and the Emerging Leaders Initiative. For further questions, comments or concerns, please contact Je-Shawna Wholley, NBJC's Program Manager for the Emerging Leaders Initiative and Special Projects, via email at jwholley@nbjc.org or (202) 319-1552 ext. 102.

nancylebov: (green leaves)
The Singing-Woman From The Wood's Edge

What should I be but a prophet and a liar,
Whose mother was a leprechaun, whose father was a friar?
Teethed on a crucifix and cradled under water,
What should I be but the fiend's god-daughter?
Read more... )
With him for a sire and her for a dam,
What should I be but just what I am?

--Edna St. Vincent Millay



Poem quoted by [livejournal.com profile] browngirl

And a few posts later, [livejournal.com profile] graydon quoted:

Thinking about the vices has, indeed, the effect of showing precisely to what extent ours is a culture of many subcultures, of layer upon layer of ancient religious and class rituals, ethnic inheritances of sensibility and manners, and ideological residues whose original purpose has by now been utterly forgotten. With this in view, liberal democracy becomes more of a recipe for survival than a project for the perfectibility of mankind.

- Judith N. Shklar, Ordinary Vices
twistedchick: butterfly on nose of cat that looks like Beautiful. (butterfly)
posted by [personal profile] twistedchick at 12:16pm on 2014-04-22
in the absence of chewable cat grass, Beautiful finds dinosaur kale leaves an acceptable substitute.
silmaril: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] silmaril at 12:00pm on 2014-04-22
ILLITERAL is not even in it; but I could still be writing more regularly here if I committed to the discipline I once did---once a day, before noon, something, anything. My daily updates are now in Google+, such as they are (hint: "daily" is a misnomer there too). But I could at least mirror things from there when I occasionally write something worth preserving in longer format, such as commentary about the classes I'm taking, or whatnot.

But I'm reading, in DW and in LJ, even if I'm not always commenting. I should write, too.
twistedchick: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] twistedchick at 11:39am on 2014-04-22
AMENDED PODFIC POLICY:

You want to record one of my stories? Go ahead. Do it.

(I'd like a copy before it's posted to an archive. And if you are not sure how to pronounce something, ask me.)

Life's too fucking short for me to stop people doing something that makes them happy.
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (sheeeep)
posted by [personal profile] liv at 11:33am on 2014-04-22 under
Just a quick signal boost, since I'm in the middle of several dozen things: I know several of you have toys or utilities that interact with Dreamwidth. [personal profile] darael is proposing writing some proper APIs to make it non-awful interacting with DW other than by directly loading HTML pages. Please do go and join in the discussion if you think you might ever use such tools.

For historical interest, this discussion seems to have arisen out of the now shelved proposal to make DW work with Usenet-style News (NNTP) readers. I know some of you were keen on that idea, either here or on LJ, so if you have opinions about what would give newsgroup style functionality without actually going all the way to running an NNTP server, your input would be particularly welcome.

If this is gobbledygook to you, you're probably not the target audience so please feel free to ignore this post.
location: Dreamwidth
Music:: Peggy Seeger: Little girl child
Mood:: 'rushed' rushed
posted by [syndicated profile] wapsisquare_feed at 05:00am on 2014-04-22

Posted by Monica Roberts

It has been over two years since girl like us Deoni Jones was killed back in February 2, 2012 as she sat at a bus stop in NE Washington DC.  Her alleged killer Gary Niles Montgomery was arrested on February 10 and charged with first degree murder.

But the wheels of justice have moved at a glacial pace since that February 2012 day to the frustration of Jones' family.   That frustration over the fact it has been two years since Deoni was killed with no resolution of the case spilled out during another mental competency hearing on February 8 to determine if Montgomery was fit to stand trial.   

Montgomery was initially found competent to stand trial in March 2012, but the case was not allowed to proceed due to the failure of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia to obtain an indictment until November 2012.   Montgomery switched defense lawyers, further delaying the court proceedings set to begin July 10, 2013 as the new attorney aggressively contested the results of the March 2012 competency hearing.   The 30 day mental competency observation didn't take place until October, and Judge Robert Morin after receiving the report in November 2013 found Montgomery not fit to stand trial.

Another mental competency observation was set for January 2014 with the hearing set for February 8, pushing the tentative trial date back to April 14, 2014.   

Jones’s father Alvin Bethea, stood up and interrupted the February hearing to express his discontent with the prosecution.  "There has been a great deal of disrespect and lack of sympathy and empathy,” said Mr. Bethea of the prosecutors’ treatment of him and his wife, “We are suffering more than enough.”

Montgomery was found competent to stand trial, with the scheduled date of the trial set for October 6. 

Let's hope and pray for the sake of Deoni's family, friends and all who loved her this date finally sticks and the far too long delayed trial of Gary Niles Montgomery finally happens.

  
April 21st, 2014
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
posted by [personal profile] firecat at 09:02pm on 2014-04-21
"The Confidence Gap" by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

This article infuriates me in a way that many Atlantic articles do, because it frames the issue poorly, contradicts itself, and twists even those facts that it presents as support for its argument.

Why is "Women don't have enough confidence" a better way of framing the issue than "Men don't care enough about failure"? Especially when the writers seem to be unhappy with the evidence that people don't care about competence as much as confidence: "Infuriatingly, a lack of competence doesn’t necessarily have negative consequences."

Why is takeaway message "Women need to to stop thinking so much and just act" when the article also contains this statement: "Most people can spot fake confidence from a mile away"?

A scientist studied how men and women did on a certain test when they were acting on their own, given instructions to try every question, and various other conditions. Women did worse than men when acting on their own because they skipped some questions, scored the same as men when the subjects were told to try every question, and scored lower than men when the subjects were told to rate their confidence before attempting the problem.
Finally, Estes decided to attempt a direct confidence boost. He told some members of the group, completely at random, that they had done very well on the previous test. On the next test they took, those men and women improved their scores dramatically.
...which the authors summarize as "What doomed the women in Estes’s lab was not their actual ability to do well on the tests....What held them back was the choice they made not to try." But nowhere is it suggested that men might be more likely to try because they have received so many other "direct confidence boosts" throughout their lifetimes.
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
posted by [personal profile] synecdochic at 10:23pm on 2014-04-21
...The bridge of my glasses just snapped while I was cleaning them o.O

Mutter. On the one hand, I have both contact lenses and my old pair of glasses to fall back on. On the other hand, the contact lenses don't have the astigmatism correction and the old glasses are a slightly weaker prescription and aren't the high-def lenses. (And boy, let me tell you, if you're considering the high-def lenses when you get your next pair, if you spend any time at all staring at a screen, do it. I was wondering if I was really imagining the difference, until I put on the old pair and went ...oh, right.)

I put on the old glasses. I realized that wearing them would mean spending the next eight hours with a screaming headache bumping into things. I put in the lenses. I will now spend the next eight hours thinking the world has gone unexpectedly two-dimensional, but it's better than the migraines, at least?

Mutter.
posted by [syndicated profile] revlyncox_feed at 05:41pm on 2014-04-21

This Easter sermon, aimed at Unitarian Universalists and other skeptics, focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus as described in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Whatever our perspective on resurrection, there are stories about learning, healing, and sharing that may resonate with us today.

Easter was a little bit confusing for me as a liberal Christian kid in the 70s. I wasn’t quite sure why death and resurrection led to chocolate and jellybeans. Easter promised hope for life after despair, the immediacy of the Divine presence, and the persistence of community through trauma … and may or may not have involved literally raising a physical body from the dead. The church where I grew up was Jesus-centered, but people had a range of beliefs about Jesus. We didn’t have to agree about the meaning or literal truth of Bible stories before we got around to feeding the hungry, clothing the cold, comforting those in sorrow, and welcoming the stranger. Perhaps that sounds familiar.

Artists, singers, writers, and preachers have described Jesus in many different ways over the centuries. The Jesus of my childhood was a hippie. He had long hair, he associated with all classes of people, and he stood up to The Man. As fond as I am of that image, I know it’s not the only interpretation that’s supported by the text and by the personal experience of people who follow Jesus. Still, it was formative for me. The folk song by Peter Scholtes was a template for me of what a religious community could be:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love

As the second-wave feminist movement took off and people began searching for more gender-inclusive ways of describing the Holy, sometimes we changed the words to “we are one in accord.” I like removing imperialist, sexist language, but “of one accord” sort of implies that people of faith never disagree with each other. On the contrary, I think having a clear, shared purpose gives people in spiritual communities, including us, the freedom to speak our various truths in love. Perhaps being one in accord means that the community works together on a mission.

If it’s true that all religions are different paths along the same mountain, my personal journey has been one of whacking through the weeds between paths, laterally around the mountain. I’ve mapped out some places where trails cross, and I’ve found sacred circles of hikers both near and far from the established paths. Maybe that sounds familiar, too.

After I wandered away from the friendly caravan of liberal Christians, I traveled alone for awhile as a solitary Pagan. I prayed with friends who were earth-centered Jews and self-described Witches along with other nature-loving spirits. When I reached the inn of Unitarian Universalism, there was room for all of the traditions I had colored into my map. Lifelong UU’s helped me understand the heritage of this faith, and UU’s from all directions shared their stories. UU pilgrims of have welcomed me, challenged me, and encouraged me. Wandering around the mountain is easier and more fruitful in community. May it be so for you as well.

Anyway, I didn’t think too much about Christianity for a few years, but my background came in really handy when I went to visit Transylvania in 2001. There has been a continuous Unitarian presence in that region for almost 500 years. I knew what they meant when they quoted the book of Matthew, “Be ye as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves.” Hungarian-speaking Unitarians described their Christian identity to me as a matter, not of worshipping Jesus, but following him. When I returned to the states, I met more people who were both UU and Christian. In interfaith meetings and in my counseling classes and Loyola, it was very helpful to have a common language with other folks who had studied the New Testament. Here at UUF, parents decided that Bible literacy is important for our kids, too, which is why we’ve focused on it in RE from December through next week.

Unitarian Universalism is a faith with its own depth and mystery, and also enough welcoming breadth to include people along beautifully complex spiritual journeys. We have UU Atheists and UU Buddhists along with Jewish UUs and UU Pagans and just plain UUs. Stories about Jesus might not come up every week, yet it seems appropriate to refer to them today. On this day when we have “wintered enough, mourned enough,” (quoting Jane Rzepka from our opening reading) the stories of Jesus’ ministry may draw us back into the spirit of life and the practice of community. When we teach and learn together, when we heal, when we share at the welcome table, we may find ourselves remembering Easter.

Teaching and Learning

One aspect of spiritual community that comes through in stories about Jesus is the practice of teaching and learning together. Recall that Jesus describes himself as a prophet, someone who offered critique and called for renewal within his own tradition. One of my Jewish friends said his grandfather, a rabbi, had a favorite Yiddish phrase for calling students in: kimmen learnen, come learn. The invitation was not to listen or to work, but to join in the circle of discovery.

My kids’ dad is Jewish, and he just about melts with joy when the twins ask insightful questions or make clever arguments. My daughter mentioned the other day that she was celebrating the birthday of one of her toys, and started singing “Happy Birthday” in Hebrew. My son noticed a Passover card game, and launched into a list of questions. “Why did Moses want to defeat his brother Pharaoh when they grew up? How did he move the water? What if he wasn’t a real person in that story and was just a character?” As their parent, it’s a lot of work to keep up with their curiosity, but this is exactly what their dad and their other mom and I hoped for. When they surprise us and challenge us with learning, we have such pride.

Learning is not a matter of passively receiving information, but actively engaging. Active, shared teaching and learning is very Jewish and also characteristic of the kind of teaching Jesus often does in the gospels. I think this is part of the reason why Jesus uses parables; parables ask listeners to imagine and to draw their own conclusions. Some of his teaching is a little more straightforward, like the Sermon on the Mount, but even then he phrases things in surprising ways that challenge listeners to think. “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But what I tell you is this: Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors” (Matt 5:43). Jesus uses the pattern “you have heard it said … but what I tell you is” several times. Many, if not all, of the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount are aimed at increasing unity among the people.

This style of active teaching and learning come up in different ways in different gospels, framed as public speeches and as private dialogues. One of the examples of an individual conversation is with the Samaritan woman at the well in John, chapter 4. Just the fact that he is depicted having this conversation, across the lines of gender and culture, says something about the respect and inclusivity of the early Jesus movement (“the Jesus movement” is a phrase I borrowed from John Dominic Crossan. See his book, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, for further reading). The woman at the well asks insightful questions and makes comments that uncover the common ties between Jews and Samaritans. In their book, Saving Paradise, Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker point out:

“The Samaritan woman would become one of the most popular figures in early Christian art. She appeared in the mid-third-century Dura Europa baptistery, in the Roman catacombs, and in early church mosaics. Usually wearing a striped dress, she stood at the well, bucket in hand, while Jesus sat nearby, speaking to her. Her boldness in disputation suggests that one way paradise flows into the world as living water is through those who raise questions, probe answers, and stay in the conversation.” (From Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 44)

Jesus’ method of teaching is the active engagement of a community of learning in an atmosphere of respect for all. I think we can get behind that. You may have heard the joke about directional signs in the afterlife, “This way to heaven,” and “This way to a discussion about heaven.” For UU’s, they point the same way.  We are seekers, scientists, mystics, and investigators. Asking big questions is central to the way of our faith. Each one of us brings our own responses to those questions. We work to build a congregation and a world where every seeker can fully participate in the conversation. We each bring different thoughts and talents.

This is a congregation where we share our gifts. We respect one another and encourage each other in our spiritual growth. One ways we show that respect and encouragement is by inviting members and friends to lead summer Sunday services. Your perspective matters. Each person’s active engagement with learning and spirituality matters. Let M.N. or D.L.K. know when you’d like to speak your truth in love.

Healing

Another aspect of Jesus’ ministry is that of healing. He doesn’t just go around lifting the illnesses of the wealthy and powerful, although of course sickness and suffering reach everyone eventually. Healing stories about Jesus focus on people who have been cut off from other sources of hope. In the stories, he not only restores sight, strength, and relief from physical pain; his compassionate attention and physical touch cross the borders of marginalization. He brings rejected people back into community by acknowledging their humanity.

For instance, there is this pair of healing stories from Luke 5:12-20 (similar to Mark 1:40-2:5; this is from the Revised English Bible translation):

He was once in a certain town where there was a man covered with leprosy; when he saw Jesus, he threw himself to the ground and begged his help. ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘if only you will, you can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will: be clean.’ The leprosy left him immediately. Jesus then instructed him not to tell anybody. ‘But go,’ he said, ‘show yourself to the priest, and make the offering laid down by Moses for your cleansing; that will certify the cure.’ But the talk about him spread ever wider, so that great crowds kept gathering to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. And from time to time he would withdraw to remote places for prayer.

One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting round him. People had come from every village in Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, and the power of the Lord was with him to heal the sick. Some men appeared carrying a paralysed man on a bed, and tried to bring him in and set him down in front of Jesus. Finding no way to do so because of the crowd, they went up onto the roof and let him down through the tiling, bed and all, into the middle of the company in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’

In the first story, Jesus not only acknowledged the man who was an outcast due to his illness, he touched the person. His next step was to encourage the person to  “certify the cure.” In other words, he wanted the man to immediately and officially re-enter the community.

In the second story, the patient’s friends encountered an obstacle, but they found a way to bring their friend to a healing place. Jesus saw their faith, the commitment of the group of people holding someone in care. It didn’t matter that power brokers were watching and criticizing. The time, place, and social status of the suffering person in front of him didn’t stand in the way of compassion.

There is a difference between healing and curing. Curing takes away the symptoms and fixes the broken parts. Healing embraces the whole person. Healing is an experience of humanity and dignity. Someone in the process of healing might still have pain, they might still have limitations that other people don’t, yet they also have the fullness of being. To heal is to travel with the Spirit of Life. I’m not sure if I believe that Jesus could cure, but I don’t have any trouble believing that his ministry healed some of the wounds of dehumanization.

Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Attitudes are the real disability.” It means that exclusion and rejection based on physical, intellectual, or emotional ability are based on the choices of the dominant group, not on the conditions of the marginalized group. Some of us are accepted as temporarily able-bodied, but we use adaptive technologies like cars, eyeglasses, and telephones. The only difference between these and strategies such as wheelchairs, text-to-voice readers, and sign language interpretation is that some people are singled out for trying to have full inclusion in community life and some people can take it for granted. It costs money to be welcoming and inclusive. It costs lives to stop short of inclusivity.

I think the essence of the healing stories in the New Testament was to proclaim a way of being together in which love overcomes rejection. Jesus was healing individual people, and he was also healing attitudes that turn differences into disabilities. Just like the group who lowered their friend through the ceiling, spiritual love finds a way to bring people from the margins to the center.

You may remember a day not that long ago when we had an ice storm on a Saturday afternoon. S. E. did an amazing job hacking away at the ice late into the night around the parking lot as well as the walkway, but there was more than one person could handle. I came in to get worship set up before the Board meeting the next morning, and I did the best I could with our snow shovel and our dwindling supply of ice melt. P.N. arrived and took over from me. L. looked at the ice melt supply and ran out to three different stores searching for reinforcements. P.P. had winter skills and additional tools hard-won from Minnesota, so he was out there, too. The meeting was about to start, so S.P. picked up where the Board members left off. D. and M. G. came in and relieved S. I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting some people. By the time worship started, we had a safe and welcoming walkway into church.

Our building is already fairly accessible. There are no stairs to worry about. We have grab bars and plenty of room to turn around in the restrooms. Our sound system includes an audio loop so that people who are hard-of-hearing can catch what is said in worship. Every once in awhile, we get to put in a little extra effort to make sure our doors are open to all. Come, come, whoever you are.

It seems to me that love was the overwhelming power that sent everybody who was able out to clear the sidewalk. We love our friends who amble in and roll in. We love the folks who thunder in on little feet. We love the stranger who needs to know that their arrival is joyfully anticipated. Out of love and concern for these friends and neighbors, known and unknown, people pitched in. These are the actions of spiritual folks who want to tear down the barriers that might prevent someone from fully participating in community.

People of faith open up pathways from the margins to the center. To do that, we sometimes need to be willing to change. We need to be willing to change attitudes that turn out to be exclusionary. We need to be willing to change physical surroundings and comfortable routines. This congregation has changed and will change again, because the mission of hospitality is constant.


Sharing

A third activity identified with Jesus’ life and ministry was sharing, especially sharing food and wine. He ate and drank with tax-collectors and sinners (Luke 5:30). He set a table where all were welcome, mixing genders and social classes and cultures in shocking ways. His first miracle was at a wedding feast (John 2:1-11), signaling that a spiritually vibrant path could include celebration. Jesus spoke of having life abundantly (John 10:10). There is a story from Luke (24:31) that takes place after Jesus’ death in which the disciples see him, talk with him, and walk with him; but they don’t recognize him until after the breaking of the bread. The literal and symbolic practice of the welcome table, with food and love for all, was important for the early Jesus movement.

What does that mean for us as Unitarian Universalists? We are sometimes criticized for sitting down together with a mixed bag of folks. Seeing the way we join together in acts of faith without enforcing a creedal test, we’ve been accused by our gentlest critics of not being serious about our religion. Less gentle commenters call us a cult because of our diversity. We’ll sit down at the table with anybody.

Like just about every religious group, we do works of charity. We share the spirit of hospitality. That’s not controversial. What’s upsetting to our detractors is when we criticize the systems of inequality that make poverty worse.

UU’s are NOT the only faith movement that seeks to eliminate poverty at both ends, the root systemic causes and the results in our communities. In fact, our interfaith relationships can be strengthened when we recognize ourselves in league with all of the justice-seeking people, from every religious category and from non-religious categories. There are lots of folks out there overturning the stalls of the money-changers. Let’s create a table where we can break bread with them as well as with our neighbors who know first-hand the impact of economically unjust systems. Fellowship is a powerful force.
    
Let’s show up with more enthusiasm than ever for our turn at the Sharing Table on May 24. Let’s bring our friends and all of the macaroni and cheese we can carry. Let’s search all the couch cushions at home for quarters to share in the laundry room a Harford Family House. Let’s add an extra jar of grape jelly to the basket for the Harford Food Pantry.

At the same time, let’s remember that trickle-down charity within a broken social contract is not enough. As we practice fellowship with neighbors from all genders, social classes, and cultures, we will build relationships. On the strength of those relationships, may we transform our society to one in which every person will have life abundantly.

Conclusion

Unitarian Universalists are a theologically diverse bunch. Some of us have some history with Christianity or regard Jesus as an important teacher. Some of us have other spiritual priorities. We bring different perspectives and experiences with the Spirit of Life. Some of us might attribute the continuing presence of the Divine among people as evidence of the Resurrection. Others might see all the hope we need in the human drive toward love and compassion. In any case, I think there are resonances between the life and ministry described in the gospels and the priorities we have as a UU congregation. We teach and learn together, creating a circle where wisdom flows in from many sources, honoring what each person has to share. We seek to heal as well as cure, removing the obstacles to a fully inclusive community and relieving suffering wherever possible. We set a welcome table, sharing food and abundant life with our neighbors. To me, the clearest glimpses of the Holy shine through in these moments of learning, healing, and sharing. Regardless of theology, we can be of one accord in acts of compassion.

So be it. Blessed be. Amen.

Posted by Monica Roberts

We Houston activists, public officials and TBLG leaders have been anxiously awaiting the release of the language in the proposed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

The Mayor's Office finally released the initial draft of the Equal Rights Ordinance at 2:30 PM followed by a press conference in which Mayor Annise Parker answered questions about it.

http://www.houstontx.gov/ordinancefeedback/equalrights_ordinance.pdf

Got people analyzing it now. but on first glance the ERO prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.    It covers city and private employment, housing and has the public accommodations language the trans community wants in it.

Now comes the fight to pass it.   It will take nine city council votes to pass in and finally add Houston to the long list of over 180 cities that have already done so.   If we are successful in accomplishing that task, out job then becomes pivoting to successfully defending our hard won ERO from the misguided people on the wrong side of the moral arc of the universe.  

We have every confidence in H-town that we can and we will build the broad based coalition necessary to accomplish both tasks.   

Houston is a world class city.   It's way past time our human rights laws reflected that.   The fight to make that happen begins today.

TransGriot Update:  The City of Houston's Quality of Life Committee chaired by Councilmember Ellen Cohen, will be meeting on Wednesday, April 30th, at 2:00 PM in Council Chambers at City Hall (901 Bagby St).  There will be discussion on the City's Equal Rights Ordinance, and public comments are accepted.
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posted by [personal profile] twistedchick at 04:25pm on 2014-04-21
Finally got to see The Winter Soldier today. All the fannish stuff has been covered by others -- and very well -- so I want to talk about something that I haven't seen mentioned.

This is a movie set in DC that is *filmed* in DC. And looks like DC. [As opposed to, say, Die Hard 4, which was filmed in Baltimore and looks nothing like DC. Or True Lies, which takes enough liberties with Georgetown that M Street merchants might well complain. details )
nancylebov: (green leaves)
posted by [personal profile] nancylebov at 01:37pm on 2014-04-21
....and it turned out to be more like a lumpy sofa cushion.

In other words, I read Opera Vita Aeterna by Vox Day. It is bad, but not especially evil. However, it's so bad that it makes me wonder about God. Surely, Someone who's so reliably good at sunsets could do better. He is not living up to His potential. He must like bad fiction even more than he likes beetles.

I would have said that it was not of commercial quality, but it was published by Marcher Lord Hinterlands, and for all I know, they pay royalties. Jeff Gerke, the editor, has some backstory about the publishing of Day's A Throne of Bones, and he seems to be literate. I get the impression that Day is much better than most of what he receives. I don't know how someone who can write normal sentences and paragraphs could stand OVA.

On the other hand, there are literate people who like Dan Brown, so there are types of mental flexibility I don't share.

The most obvious thing about OVA (aside from that it's D&D fic and enthusiastic about Catholicism) is the utter clumsiness of the expository details.
The cold autumn day was slowly drawing to a close. The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark. The first of the two moons was already visible high above the mountains. Soon Arbhadis, Night’s Mistress, would unveil herself as well.

Aside from the unspeakably bad science about the sun's rays holding it up, how many times does he have to tell me it's cold? Why does he only give the name of the moon that isn't up yet? What does the moon that is up look like?

The amount of repetition and the poor choice of details.... the story could be improved by cutting about a quarter of it, I think, but that wouldn't improve it enough.

Actually, "story" is too strong a word, or at least I couldn't find a point to the end of it. After all that about souls, immortality is achieved through making a wonderful thing? In a world where (there's a long discussion about this) nothing lasts?

And I think there's a simple solution to the problem raised in that discussion, though I may be missing something. Couldn't you have incorruptible things in a corruptible world if the incorruptible things came in from somewhere else?

I count my blessings. I note that Vox Day is an awful person. The world would be a worse place if he were a good writer.

To keep this post from only being about something that sucks, would anyone care to recommend their favorite Catholic sf? Favorite D&D fiction?

I'll start off with The Interior Life by Dorothy Heydt. Past Master by R.A. Lafferty, and Descent into Hell by Charles Williams. I'm not counting LOTR because Catholicism is off-stage and the Catholic ideas are pretty subtle, and I'm not counting A Case of Conscience because I didn't get the impression the author especially liked Catholicism.

D&D: Paksennarion by Elizabeth Moon, Goblin Quest by Jim Hines, Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward.

I wish it were possible to vote for No Award several times so that OVA could be below all of them.
posted by [syndicated profile] transgriot_feed at 12:00pm on 2014-04-21

Posted by Monica Roberts


One of the things we have been trying to grapple with in the African-American trans community is what is the best way to deal with the crushing 26% unemployment rate that ails our community .

While passing non discrimination ordinances is one way of doing it, there are just some areas of the country that isn't going to happen for them until a federal ENDA is passed or businesses start feeling the sting of adverse EEOC rulings or federal lawsuits for their anti-trans bigotry.

So what can we trans peeps do in the interim to get companies to do the right thing and hire trans workers? 

Borrow a page from the tried and true tactics of the Civil Rights movement.   Hit 'em in the wallet.

There is this false belief in the trans community that we don't have much economic power.   Not true.   If we use it collectively and efficiently target it, we do have economic leverage.   

If you don't think the over $12K the trans community donated to the 2008 Obama campaign didn't get their attention or isn't one of the reasons the Obama Administration has been the most trans friendly presidency in US history, you are naive or haven't been paying attention.

Money talks.  Businesses who value our community know that diversity is good for their bottom line.  But there are some for whatever reason don't want us in our establishment of discriminate against our people who simply want to be hired and get a decent paycheck.

So it's time to bring back a tactic from the Civil Rights Movement era and remix it for the 2k10's.on behalf of the trans community. 

Don't spend our T-bills where they won't hire us or treat us with respect and dignity.

We not only use economic boycotts to get companies to hire us, we also partner with organizations to have transpeople run undercover stings.   We do so to test these companies and ensure they are hiring our people.  And if they aren't, publicly embarrass them as was done in New York a few years ago to J. Crew. 

They got busted in 2008 for not hiring transpeople despite having gender identity and expression language in their non-discrimination policy.   We can also use that discrimination data collected in these stings to press the case for adding trans people to non-discrimination laws in those areas without those protections.


So let's consider implementing this policy as soon as possible.   Don't buy or spend your money where they won't hire or respect you.
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posted by [personal profile] misschili at 12:33pm on 2014-04-21 under
Mood:: 'no list here at all' no list here at all

Posted by Monica Roberts

Here's the latest news I've been able to find on Kendall Hampton, the 26 year old transwoman who was shot and killed in the Cincinnati metro area suburb of Walnut Hills, OH in August 2012 who was subsequently misgendered by the local media.


Eugene Dukes (Source: CPD)19 year old Eugene Carlos Dukes was arrested in September 2012 and charged with Hampton's murder.   But the wheels of justice have been moving at a glacial pace in this case since Duke's indictment by the Hamilton County grand jury.   

The family observed the one year anniversary of Hampton's slaying with a memorial service on August 18 with justice still not being served in this case.

According to a WCPO-TV report Dukes appeared in court September 4, 2013 and I haven't found any additional stories or information indicating a trial date has been set in this case, has happened or there has been a conviction.

So I'll keep monitoring it and ask my sources in the Cincinnati metro area to pass along any information they discover.  
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
It's storytime with mama rahaeli: I think we've got a legacy 'feature' that can be removed, but I'm not 100% sure. Read the background and try to convince me one way or the other.

The situation as it is now: If you try to post to your journal with a time before your most recent entry, you are prevented from doing so.

(The check is in cgi-bin/LJ/Protocol.pm, lines 1323-1327; the error is "You have an entry which was posted at $u->{'newesteventtime'}, but you're trying to post an entry before this. Please check the date and time of both entries. If the other entry is set in the future on purpose, edit that entry to use the \"Don't show on Reading Pages\" option. Otherwise, use the \"Don't show on Reading Pages\" option for this entry instead.")

This check was added in the LJ days (I'm not sure when, because the web gateway to LJ's source is down right now and I can't look up the history, but it was very early in my tenure so I want to say 2002 or so) to prevent a very common problem with people's computer clocks being set wrong. It was a horrible support burden (leading to dozens if not more support requests per day): someone's computer battery would be dying and their clock was set wrong because of it, or their clock would just be set a year or two off. Because entries in personal journals are displayed on the Recent Entries page by the time they're dated, not by the time the server received the post, a post dated 1970-01-01 would disappear completely: the person would post it, it would display on Recent Entries behind every other post they'd ever made, and they wouldn't be able to find it when they loaded their journal to see it so they would assume it hadn't been posted at all.

(This is not a problem in communities: to avoid the problem with having posters from many timezones, communities show all entries ordered by server time, not by user-supplied time.)

The fix definitely helped that problem, but it introduced the opposite problem (someone who posts once with an accidental date of 2038-01-01 then has to do some farting around with the backdating flag) and the whole concept of backdating in general is very hard to explain to people. It also, for us, causes issues with emailed-in posts: when someone emails a post to the site, it's posted with the timestamp in UTC (aka, DW server time), which then causes problems if someone wants to post within the 'window' of their timezone offset. (This is what made me start this post: I emailed in today's stupid kitten pic, which got a timestamp of 2014-04-21 0500 UTC, then I tried to post a second entry at 2014-04-21 0421 EDT and got the error. I've opened an issue for applying timezone offsets to emailed-in posts, but there's still the wider question to address.)

My gut instinct is that this check may have been necessary in 2002 (or whenever) when very few people had self-correcting clocks, but now it's 2014 and I don't think there's a single operating system out there that doesn't ship with the "update from timeservers" checkbox checked. I think the few people who will have disabled that auto-time-correction will be used to things behaving weirdly for them if their clock is hella off, and any potential support burden will be alleviated by the lack of having to support questions like "I posted an entry in 2020 to future-date it and now I can't update without errors".

So, discuss:

1) Do people think we can safely remove the "are you trying to post in the past" check?

2a) If not, should we switch to using system time for the "are you trying to post in the past" check? (IE, go by "time the entry was received by DW" rather than "time the user specifies for their post".)

2b) If yes, which of the two options should we take:

2b1) Eliminate all future-date/past-date checks when updating, but otherwise leave things as-is, so that entries on a personal journal's Recent Entries page are still displayed in the order they're dated, not the order they were posted;

2b2) Eliminate all future-date/past-date checks when updating, and switch to treating personal journals like communities, in which entries are displayed in strict order they're posted regardless of date specified by the user.

(I can make up some examples if people are confused about the distinction.)

I think we should get rid of the check, and we should otherwise leave things as-is (so: yes to 1, and of the two, option 2b1) but I am willing to entertain arguments in any direction. Convince me!
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
posted by [personal profile] synecdochic at 05:26am on 2014-04-21 under
Mondays, every week, let's celebrate ourselves, to start the week right. Tell me what you're proud of. Tell me what you accomplished last week, something -- at least one thing -- that you can turn around and point at and say: I did this. Me. It was tough, but I did it, and I did it well, and I am proud of it, and it makes me feel good to see what I accomplished. Could be anything -- something you made, something you did, something you got through. Just take a minute and celebrate yourself. Either here, or in your journal, but somewhere.

(And if you feel uncomfortable doing this in public, I've set this entry to screen any anonymous comments, so if you want privacy, comment anonymously and I won't unscreen it. Also: yes, by all means, cheer each other on when you see something you want to give props to!)
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
posted by [personal profile] synecdochic at 04:29am on 2014-04-21
Why did nobody tell me until just now that Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer are starring in a HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart? OMG.
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
posted by [personal profile] synecdochic at 02:00am on 2014-04-21
Cat, there is no way that can be comfortable. (she's draped half over my knee, half on the desk, sound asleep and snoring a little.)
Read more... )
posted by [syndicated profile] wapsisquare_feed at 05:00am on 2014-04-21
posted by [syndicated profile] transgriot_feed at 12:00am on 2014-04-21

Posted by Monica Roberts

Pebbelz Da ModelWhen I last checked in on the case of Mississippi silicone pumper Tracey Lynn Garner, she was now facing two charges of depraved heart murder for the March 2012 deaths of 37 year old Karima Gordon of Atlanta and the January 2010 death of 23 year old Marilyn Hale of Selma, AL due to silicone butt injections that went horribly wrong..

40 year old Natasha Stewart, an adult entertainer known as 'Pebblez Da Model' went on trial in Jackson, MS January 27 for her part in the death of Karima Gordon.  

She had accepted $200 to refer Gordon to Garner for the silicone pumping procedure and falsely claimed Garner was a nurse.   Stewart herself had been injected 20 times in the last seven years to create the signature pumped 48 inch derriere she possesses courtesy of Garner.

Stewart had been charged with "depraved-heart" murder, which is defined as one committed with a callous disregard for human life.   Depraved heart murder carries a sentence of life imprisonment, but the jury convicted her on January 31 of the lesser charge of culpable negligent manslaughter.

Stewart was facing 20 years, but was sentenced on February 14 by Judge Bill Gowan to 15 years with 8 years suspended on the manslaughter charge and 5 years on the charge of conspiracy with both sentences to run concurrently.    Translation:  She'll be locked up for 7 years and has 8 years suspended.  

As for Garner, her trial was supposed to start after two resets on March 17, but it looks like it has been reset again since I have yet to find any news stories concerning a trial or conviction.

If I discover any new information concerning the Garner case, I'll pass that information along.

April 20th, 2014
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
Perfume sniff notes! 9 BPAL scents: Rogue, The Rose, Dragon's Tears, Bastet, Tzadikim Nistarim, Sea of Glass, Djinn, Euphrosyne, Omen.

9 scent reviews )
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posted by [personal profile] redbird at 08:23pm on 2014-04-20 under ,
I am visiting [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel and [livejournal.com profile] papersky in Montreal, where it's just the beginning of spring. Beginning as in, Papersky was pleased to hear me report having seen snowdrops in bloom this morning. As it happens, while spring in the Seattle area is both slower and much further advanced, I didn't see any snowdrops there, so I'm also pleased by these. And the twittering birds sound right. (There's nothing wrong with crows, in fact quite a bit right about them, but they shouldn't be the only birds I notice.)

The flight out here, with the weird screw-in earplugs in my ears from takeoff in Seattle to landing here, including the connection in Dallas, was fine, though long. We've not done much; dim sum yesterday, and company for meals today. Papersky is gaming with them, a game that requires exactly four players, and I have been getting a bunch of reading in. I read Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves on my kindle yesterday and this morning, and am now partway through one of rysmiel's Anthony Price novels. Clearly, what I need to get back is the knack of reading actual books in the United States; but if I can do it in Montreal it ought to be possible in Bellevue or Arlington.
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posted by [personal profile] twistedchick at 02:31pm on 2014-04-20
I am serving on a committee that is working on programming for a women's retreat/conference next year. During a recent committee meeting we were attempting to come up with themes and discussion queries - questions or sentences framed in an open manner to encourage thoughtful consideration - and we got stuck on how to talk about bodies. and that got me stuck as well. )
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posted by [personal profile] misschili at 07:01pm on 2014-04-20 under
posted by [syndicated profile] transgriot_feed at 12:00pm on 2014-04-13

Posted by Monica Roberts

obama-national-action-network
President Obama spoke at the 2014 National Action Network Convention in New York on Friday in which he called out the GOP on the voter suppression BS and a few other subjects..

You Democrats, how about you follow the POTUS' lead and do the same from now on until November 4 and beyond?  

posted by [syndicated profile] transgriot_feed at 09:00am on 2014-04-20

Posted by Monica Roberts

Happy Easter TransGriot Readers!

As a Christian, I believe this holiest of days in my faith is for us to remember that Jesus Christ stood up to the Roman Empire, was crucified for it on the cross on Good Friday, died and arose and ascended to Heaven for all our sins..

Jesus' victory over death and resurrection not only was payment for our sins, but also proclaimed death does not have the final victory and eternal life awaits those of us who are believers.

That view was also reflected in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1957 Easter sermon entitled  “Questions that Easter Answers”    In that sermon, Dr. King points out that the message of hope we hear on Easter Sunday is also connected to the necessity to take steps to live a life of love with a commitment to justice.   

I'll take that message a step further.  It  is symbolic for us in our own lives in terms of we must overcome the crosses we bear in our lives here on Earth and defeat those obstacles.in our path that lie in the way of us becoming better human beings.   

Love is the most powerful force in the universe as Dr. King reminds us.   And no more does that message resonate than on this day.

Happy Easter everyone.
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posted by [personal profile] synecdochic at 07:46am on 2014-04-20 under
I'm fishing for cats!

Read more... )
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posted by [personal profile] mrs_sweetpeach at 02:19am on 2014-04-20 under , , ,
Click here )
location: Home and on my corner of the couch
Mood:: 'sleepy' sleepy
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posted by [personal profile] mrs_sweetpeach at 02:14am on 2014-04-20 under ,
location: Home and on my corner of the couch
Music:: How (not) to kill your husband
Mood:: 'sleepy' sleepy

Posted by Monica Roberts

TransGriot Note:  If you think trans people outside the borders of the United States aren't paying attention to Drag Race's use of shemale and the t-word and are fine with it, this guest post by Malaysian activist Yuki Choe will blow that perception up.

She's in her words "a lone transsexual advocate and a vocalist, one who performs without drag."

***


It is now exactly a month since the fateful segment on the reality show Drag Race drew widespread condemnation from the transgender population, and what is deemed as transphobic slurs have since been removed from the show. There are discussions aplenty on where to draw the lines when it comes to terms that are hurtful to transwomen, like “she-male”. Words do count, but not for some who just refuse to understand how much influence words can get, especially specific terms that society usually use to mock transwomen.

Society is too lazy to study Trans 101, and they will eventually pick up information by what they observe along the way. People would look to the idiot box and find RuPaul, a man, in drag. They will reason that transwomen are males who drags like RuPaul. He uses “she-male” like nobody’s business, so there cannot be anything wrong with it. And for RuPaul, all this mash up is no big deal. But, it is. “She-male” is a term that is oft used to shame transwomen into mere sex objects. Such words are meant to demean any womanhood that any transwoman could have. It has all the motivations to humiliate transwomen by reminding them of just how incomplete their lives are with their bodies.

Do we hate him?

We hate RuPaul not because we have internalized transphobia; we hate what the character RuPaul brings to the front. We hate the imagery he represents because it is a caricature in which society determine how to define a transwomen – a she-male, a drag, a shim, a cross-dresser. He turns us into entertainment. He transforms the lives of transwomen into a Howard Stern styled comedy. Many attacked RuPaul for being transphobic, but I really doubt it. He may not even comprehend what the hell the outcry is about simply because he is not really a transgender. He never knew what that means 20 over years ago, and probably never will.

We are called to accept his drag world as a transgender representative, even by GLAAD’s definition of transgender. But he is not. His approach is one of a gay guy who thinks he is doing us a favour. That is the arrogance we so despise. We also cannot stand the fact that he still does not wish to learn from us. He has been ignoring the needs of the transgender population to be addressed with respect for many years.

Talking past each other

Some of the comments I read from the blogs highlighting this controversy, mention about policing of words. That this is transfacism. It is actually far from it. This is about words created to impact a population. Words come with its own definitions. Would a transwomen want to be described with terms bearing male pronouns like “she-male” and “lady-boy”? Perhaps the reason some insist there is nothing wrong with such derogatory words is obvious, is it not? They want to use the word because they feel nothing, but we feel hurt. Words like “tranny“ are widely used to bully children and verbally abuse transsexuals. People who stand by RuPaul just could not relate to that.

The words are meant to harm, which is why one should avoid using it. It has the power to degrade transwomen. It is easy to say we only give strength to the word if we bother about them. It does not work for transwomen. Because lest we forget, we are only less than 1% of the population. These words determine whether we are fit for the next interview to get a room for rent, or be forced back into the closet at churches. To drags and cross-dressers, it is all about dressing part-time or dressing full-time, the mentality is that transwomen are “really” genetically boys, as opposed to the term “genetic girl” when addressing cisgender women.

The point that transgender activists have been trying to say for the past month, is not only confined to that infamous game segment. It has been echoed for years to even the majority straight population – we are not a show, we are not freaks, so stop using media to turn us into jokes. But all this while, RuPaul sees transwomen as only men in women’s clothing, like him. There is not even one moment from him that shows he truly knows what it feels being born in the wrong sex. He parrots the belief that we are all drag queens in the end, and that some of us just decided to go further into hormones then SRS, which is so painfully far from the truth.

RuPaul’s Ignorance

When RuPaul implied about revolution by citing Orwell’s Animal Farm, he is talking about his own “drag queen” revolution that has very little to do with any revolutions that may or may not take place in transwomen’s world, a world that needs protection from the flurry of abuses that are generated by a vastly transphobic generation, and meant to punish transwomen; RuPaul would accidentally be behind another face of his revolution, one that is directly against transwomen.

He does not realize that in defense of words like “she-male”, he shows little understanding of how much damage it would have on trans women, all the while as he removes his makeup and pumped up dresses after shows to be Andre Charles again, with his package of male privileges. For him, it is his art, jumping into womanhood for a while, after being RuPaul for several hours.

But, for tens of thousands of transwomen, it is not an art. It is not an entertainment or a game. Gender Identity Dysphoria is a real condition that affects lives. Transwomen born with it need to transition. Their body mapping must change to accommodate their brain sex, and the intense distress is painful and lifelong. While he sits in his car out of drag, and heads for home after his show, many transwomen would be struggling to hold on to their jobs, and some may even encounter violence. RuPaul can jump out of his drag. Transwomen cannot jump out of their skin and be non-transgender.

RuPaul would expect us to “toughen up” and be “queen”. But we are tough, only not queens. We are simply women, but women who are tough because we have to endure hundreds of hazardous situations he most likely will not encounter even once in his life. And he is not helping. Until this gets into the thick skull of his and every other sympathizers he has, the discussion will not go anywhere.

Visibility breeds stereotypes

And people assume transwomen are “in-drag”. So people would disparage transwomen, and forcefully consider them men. Religious conservatives always lay claim to a “change” of “gay lifestyle” if transwomen want to. And those with lesser knowledge would just brand transwomen as a life choice, and when difficulties arise, sometimes even life-threatening, it is “really” transwomen’s fault because we “choose to drag”.

As transwomen, we wish we could just say to hell with the world. Unfortunately, as a minority at the mercy of a general public who find transwomen useful for tease and ridicule at best (and we do not wish to be reminded what happens at worst), what society think of us does count; it affects our jobs, our insurance, our education, our relationships, everything. And we already have to bear with misrepresentations from religious fundamentalists painting us all as child predators, rapists and fetishists.

Having RuPaul and his show amplifies even more stereotypes of transwomen. We should go even as far as to say he is abetting bullying of transgender children, and encouraging verbal abuse towards transgender people. After all, words are not sticks and stones, right? NOT.

The bigger questions

This is perhaps an appropriate period for us to ponder, what really is transgender now? Should RuPaul be even considered a transgender? While the American Psychological Association includes drag queens in its definition for transgender, many trans people have started to address themselves as transsexual and not transgender, simply because of the disparity in experiences of people born with gender identity dysphoria, and the rest under the transgender umbrella.

Is it not time to correctly address transsexuals as transsexuals and drag queens as drag queens? If we were to say drag queens are transgender, would we not have to include bio queens as well? Or even some animals in drag? Is it not time to consider a more accurate definition of transgender in GLAAD and other trans resources? Should RuPaul even be associated with the “T” still?

Maybe RuPaul is far from transphobic and has the right to use whatever word he wants; but he or any cross-dresser, drag queen, or any men who dresses as women, could and should spare a thought for transwomen afflicted by being born trans.   Unlike them, because any claims of sensitizing society is offset by their own misuse of words that attacks transwomen, the incongruence suffered by transwomen is real.

For transwomen, it is not about dressing, let alone over-the-top with a face buried in tons of makeup and purposely deepening their voices.  We are living our lives.  RuPaul would do well continuing his work, but not at the extent of creating collateral damage on the lives of transwomen everywhere.

Someone should start knocking a hard fact into RuPaul; the difference between a drag queen and a transgender, is that everybody can be a drag queen, even the queen of England. Not everyone can be a transgender, and for those who are unfortunately born transwomen, their lives are problematic enough without being trivialized by RuPaul.

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