Archive | December, 2011

The Emperor Has No Clothes

December 16, 2011

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December 6 stands out as a significant date in history for many reasons, chief among them the Montréal Massacre in 1989. That day, an anti-feminist, female-hating man murdered 14 women at the École Polytechnique for daring to study engineering. Because, you know, females aren’t supposed to study engineering. Rigid adherence to sex stereotypes allowed that murderous man to think women who “transgress” stereotypes deserve death – an adherence that oppresses females every day.

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Difference Exists

December 14, 2011

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Written by E. Hungerford and Cathy Brennan

Something has gotten lost on the way to liberation for the GLBT community – females. Females have been the backbone of the movement, with lesbians playing key roles in the 1980s fighting the “Gay Plague” of their gay male brothers, working to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and fighting for anti-discrimination protections at the state and national level. Lesbians deserve a pat on the back for their contributions, and the gratitude of their GBT brethren.

Lesbians also deserve recognition with regard to state legislation that has been advanced in the last 15 years by GLBT civil rights organizations, most notably the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, to ban discrimination based on “gender identity.” “Gender identity” sounds like a great concept; and one that – you would think – lesbians should embrace, as lesbians know full well the harm caused by sex stereotyping. But the gender identity legislation presents two fundamental problems for all females, and for lesbians in particular.

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A Way Forward

December 13, 2011

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Late last month, a small group of concerned folks gathered in front of the KAGRO building at the corner of Maryland and North Avenues in Mt. Vernon.  After a few minutes, another small group joined the assembled people, having just marched from Maryland Institute College of Art. The reason for the gathering? A series of violent attacks against gay and transgender people in Baltimore City.

The impressive organizer of the “Silence No More” event – Sandy Rawls of Trans-United – reached out to some of the usual players in the LGBT acronym world of queer politics. Anthony McCarthy, an occasional also-ran in local elections and a successful media personality, spoke, as did Morgan Meneses-Sheets, the petite but fiery leader of Equality Maryland (“EQMD”), the lobbying arm of our community.

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Same Song, Different Verse

December 13, 2011

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Anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention to Baltimore City politics knows at least two things – incumbent Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is under attack from a number of corners for her perceived inability and perennial candidate Carl Stokes thinks he is the man needed to reshape the city and take the helm as Baltimore City’s next mayor.

Of course, that should be “thought.”  Even the most jaded political observers expressed surprise earlier this month when Stokes – who has served on the Baltimore City Council in four decades now – decided that he was not actually the man for the job and refilled to retain the city council seat to which the city council appointed him in 2003.

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Group Protection vs Individual Rights

December 13, 2011

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Last April, the world watched in horror as video of Teonna Brown and a juvenile beating Chrissy Polis at a Rosedale McDonald’s aired repeatedly on major national and international media outlets and spread virally over the World Wide Web. In response, a number of local activists, including me, organized a rally against hate and violence. There is no doubt – and it cannot be debated – that the attack on Ms. Polis was brutal, wrong and criminal.

Now, Ms. Brown stands charged with first degree assault, a felony, and a raft of misdemeanor assault charges. She also stands accused of a hate crime based on Ms. Polis’ “gender identity.” Ms. Brown faces these charges in Baltimore County no less, which has the dubious distinction of sending more people to death row – most of them African-American – than any other county in Maryland.

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Baltimore Pride History Lesson

December 13, 2011

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Every June, gays and lesbians across the country celebrate Pride, an event marked by festive parties, parades, and copious amounts of alcohol consumption. The current incarnation of Pride has seemingly lost much of its sense of history as a time to recognize the progress made politically by gay and lesbian people since the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969. Yes, Virginia, we have Pride to commemorate political advances and political power, not to help you get your rocks off with as many people as possible (although, thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, you can do that in private with willing adult partners without fear of arrest!). Both Maryland and Baltimore City have a rich tradition of efforts to advance the political and civil rights of lesbian and gay people and, more recently, transgender people.

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Porn Occupies Everything

December 13, 2011

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Almost every woman I know has been sexually abused.

Let me repeat this. I am 41 years old, and I know lots of women – and almost every woman I know has been sexually exploited.

Usually, more than once.

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Preserving the Distinctly Private and Personal

December 13, 2011

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On November 21, the Howard County Council will take up County Bill 54-2011, which intends to ban discrimination based on “gender identity” in housing, employment law enforcement, financing and public accommodations.  Like many of the bills pushed by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and others, the bill defines “gender identity or expression” as “a gender-related identity or appearance of an individual regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.

Huh? Does the bill define gender? No – but, of course, say advocates, we all know this means a way of act or presenting yourself that is stereotypically associated with the opposite sex.  Except if you are trans, you do the OPPOSITE stereotype.

Right?  Ugh.

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Solidarity of Interest

December 13, 2011

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For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the political world around me. I blame my mother for this, as I recall her making me write a letter about how I felt when the U.S. hostages in Iran were freed under Ronald Reagan in 1981. My mother taught me that we need to identify common interests in order to move a political agenda forward. That is, we must look outward and find ways to connect with others who support a common goal. Labor unions and health care reformers have successfully worked in solidarity with diverse people who share a common goal.

Enter Identity Politics, which teaches us that to organize by Identity. That is, we advance causes that benefit our Identities, whatever that means. For many lesbians, for better or for worse, we have a LGBT Identity.

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The Economy is a Feminist Issue

December 13, 2011

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you know that no other issue has dominated nightly news discussions like The Economy.  We’ve heard endless iterations of the reasons why The Economy tanked and what needs to happen to fix it.  Currently, the Tea Party Occupy Wall Street Movement both seem to inhabit the same space of blame assessment for why The Economy – and the jobs picture – appear dismal.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that U.S.-based employers added some 103,000 net new jobs in September.  This rate of “job creation” doesn’t seem to be enough to reduce the unemployment rate, 9.1 percent in September, a stubborn number that’s remained the same since April.

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