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November 30, 2008

Engaging Assignment #5

A safe space is a place where individuals can be themselves without feeling threatened, either mentally or physically; an unsafe space is the opposite. Each individual’s interpretation of safe space varies depending on what about them makes them feel most vulnerable. A safe space for me is somewhere where I can present my gender and sexuality in the way I am most comfortable, without having to worry about physical or verbal harassment.

The prison system is a good example of an unsafe space where individuals are treated as though they are less than human–obviously, all inmates are treated badly, but I am thinking uniquely of the cruel policies toward transgender women (as seen in Cruel and Unusual). The denial of hormones was incredibly inhumane–the women were denied the right to express their identity and had to withstand the physical and psychological consequences. Additionally, the placement with men created an unsafe space. One of the women recounts being threatened by a man and forced to be his sexual partner against her wishes, something that would have probably not occurred had she been placed in a women’s prison.

Another example are gendered restrooms (bathrooms that are either “male? or “female?). As seen in the film Toilet Training (I was gone from class, but looked it up online), gendered restrooms can be a source of shame, discomfort, and even violence for trans individuals or anyone who doesn’t conform to typical gender norms. The need for non-gendered bathrooms is explained really well in this letter from Dean Spade, founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

On a daily basis, I will almost always be at my high school, at home, or on the city bus between these two places. I would say my high school is a fairly safe space for me–I experience almost no harassment, and generally feel like I can express myself the way I want to without fearing discrimination. I think this is true for most GLBT kids at my school–Central is a pretty open space. On the city bus is somewhere I feel is definitely not safe¬–I feel like I am constantly being judged by others and have been asked about my gender before. I think that for places like the bus or the street, where people aren't necessarily interacting with you but simply seeing you, the more you "pass", the safer you are. Safe spaces are incredibly important–everyone should have a place where they can express themselves without fearing discrimination. Ideally, every space would be a safe space; unfortunately, this isn’t the case.


Engaging Assignment #5

As was assigned, I kept a log of all the spaces I inhabited for two days. These spaces included:
-My apartment/neighborhood
-My office at the Capitol
-A bar near my neighborhood
-Baker's Square Restaurant
-The Uptown Theater
-A bar on campus
-Mariucci Arena

Classifying these spaces as either safe or unsafe is somewhat of a difficult task. If I am simply calssifying them this way based on whether or not they are safe for me, I would say that if I am being attentive and cautious, all of these spaces are safe for me. However, my neighborhood is not a very safe place, and if I were to not take proper precautiouns, it could very easily become unsafe for me. Along the same lines, if I were to act in a certain manner or allow myself to become inebriated or intoxicated, both bars could become unsafe places for me. More generally, I would say most of these spaces could be considered safe for almost everyone, including GLBT people. I don't think that my neighborhood or apartment building would be anymore unsafe for a GLBT person than it is for anyone else. The Capitol building is most certainly a safe place for everyone. There is security present, it is a space that is open and welcoming to members of the GLBT population, and although there are no unisex bathrooms, there are single occupancy bathrooms. At all the rest of the spaces, I would say that they would be safe for everyone, including GLBT peoples. As was mentioned on the Safe Restrooms Project website, the Baker's Square I ate at has a unisex bathroom available. I may be being naive about this, but I truly feel that under the right conditions, all these spaces would be safe for members of the GLBT population. I visited about half of these places with my father, who is a member of the GLBT population, and he has visited these places in the past with other members of the GLBT population, and has never found them to be unsafe. One issue I truly can see, however, is that some of these spaces may be unsafe for transgendered people, especially because of the restroom issue. I understand that I take for granted using a public restroom without being harassed, and I can understand how it is important to provide safe public restrooms for transgendered people

November 29, 2008

Engaging #5

Which types of spaces are not safe? I really think that this depends on where you are and other people in that same area at the same time. In terms of what “safe? means, if we define it as feeling no threat and discomfort, then many environments would not be safe for GLBT persons. There is quite a difference between feeling welcome or comfortable in an environment compared to feeling like you are being scrutinized. This would include public spaces like offices. I remember that we had a male to female trans sexual as a temp in our main office about 15 years ago, the mid 90’s. I believe that she was replaced quickly not due to her own discomfort as much as discomfort of some supposedly liberal faculty and administrators. Obviously our documentary “Toilet Training? suggested that bathrooms are to focal point, but that is maybe only because they intensify the feeling of “otherness?
Which type of spaces strip individuals of dignity? Again, here we speak of spaces as physical, but I would include the “ambience? of the space which is determined by the people that inhabit it. An office environment that does not include a male to female trans-sexual as “one of the girls? is really stripping her of her identity and her dignity. In terms of physical space, locker rooms and rest rooms in general might strip us of dignity, since it is pretty hard to be dignified sitting on the potty or taking a shower.
When are spaces locations of violence? When people occupy a space with others where they feel righteous, defensive, outraged, etc, violence may erupt. For example, a GLBT rally might include a GLBT population, but also others there to taunt or exude hate or disgust. Under certain circumstances, this can lead to violence, e.g. our documentary by Stryker on the San Francisco uprising at the Compton’s Cafeteria. I would also think that various charismatic leaders could incite a group to do violence in name of their beliefs, as well as individuals who cannot accept difference. I am reminded of the killing of Matthew Shepherd, a gay young man, maybe 15 years ago in a most vicious way by 2 or 3 other young men. What incited this? Maybe just Matthew being himself.
Log with Commentary:
November 25, 2008
Home: One would hope that the place that we call “home? is safe, but that assumes that the other occupants of the home accept an enlightened view of what GLBT means, as we have been doing in class all semester. Luckily for our son Nathan, both Paul and I support his transition and our home is safe for him. However, should we invite others over at the same time, this safety might disappear, depending on their views. Also, “safe home? can be violated by telephone and internet and other media like TV. For example, my son in law #2 (formerly married to my daughter, now married to my son) has received a lot of “suggestions? from his family about moving back home via phone and internet and comments like “you are not homosexual , are you??
Smith Hall: This is the chemistry building, probably an old bastion of male dominance and the site of the famous Rajender case that pitted a female professor against the U for pay and promotion discrimination. The very lobby as you walk in is full of famous male professors and former department heads. One suspects that the whole building was built to accommodate the male majority. There are the usual array of men’s and women’s rooms. I have a feeling it is a mixed bag in terms of safety and tolerance in terms of use of restrooms and labs. My experience with women in physical sciences is that they have great courage within this male dominated area, especially those that don’t conform to the norm, but it is hard to say if they are safe or not in the environment. At the least, they might not feel comfortable.
Campus Connector: This is a pretty diverse group with a number of folks that don’t conform to the usual hetero stereotype. Basically safe, since most people sit with headphones on or read or sleep.
Office and Classroom Building, St. Paul Campus: Home of my department, Food Science and Nutrition. Faculty and staff are pretty hetero/androgynous looking in an informal kind of way--khakis, polos, fleeces, sweaters, jeans, New Balance shoes, a few skirts. Not many ultra feminine or masculine types. We do have a number of GLBT faculty/staff/students in the department. Although there are no unisex bathrooms, at least my floor has two single unit bathrooms that could be converted to unisex or choice bathrooms. We also have a unisex bathroom in our main office that any faculty or staff could use, as well as any student who knew about it. I would think that our responsibility would be to make sure that any GLBT person that might approach any of us with concern should be able to use this facility. This is also the case in Mayo building where I have another class—two first floor bathrooms have been converted to unisex.
Seward Café: Very diverse in diverse area of Minneapolis. Unisex bathrooms and a different kind of androgynous look than my department, maybe more hip or youthful androgynous. It seems like a great place to be different, both inside and outside in the surrounding neighborhood.
St. Paul Gym/U Rec Center: Personally, I think that locker rooms would be worse than bathrooms, since almost all bathrooms have stalls with doors. In a locker room shower, there is not a place to be different. I don’t regularly go to these anymore, but I remember seeing a number of folks using the female dressing rooms that could pass for males. I don’t remember ever thinking it was unsafe for them, maybe just uncomfortable.

Unsafe spaces- #5

As I kept track of the places that I inhibited, I realized that those “spaces? would not necessarily be safe for everyone. The spaces that I entered included classrooms, public restrooms, dressing rooms, and my workplace. In all of these places there were only rooms labeled “men? or “women? there were no unisex space. Though these spaces were safe for me to enter, they would not be safe for everyone. As shown in the film Toilet Training, others entering these spaces are subjected to violence and abuse. These spaces dehumanize people who do not fit into one of the two categories because there is no place for them and therefore they mean nothing to the larger society. I was surprised that in 2008 many of these spaces still remain closed to people that are non-conforming to gender. However, I think that some places are becoming more open to the idea of developing spaces that are more inclusive.
I also noticed that a lot of the spaces have become safe for people with disabilities. Many of the spaces I entered had things that made it easier for the disabled to access; including handicap bathroom stalls and rooms with brail translations. I think that this is a step in the right directions for other groups that do not fit into the status quo.

November 19, 2008

Freedom and gay marriage

Last night I posed this question at the end of our discussion on gay marriage:

Does the legalization of gay marriage give gays and lesbians the freedom to choose who they love and the freedom from interference by the government in their private affairs OR does the legalization of gay marriage infringe upon their freedom by allowing the government to dictate (and legislate) their relationships and sexual practices?

Any thoughts....

Class tonight (11.18)

Here is Handout #10. Also, here is the Beyond Marriage website that I mentioned in class.

November 18, 2008

Revisions to Critical Response #4

I wrote about "Queers Read this" and handed in a printed out sheet of paper. Here I will make a few revisions and additions to what I said. I wrote about how the author was very angry at straight people, and how that made me angry because not everything that happens to GLBT people is the fault of heterosexual people. I should have talked about the limitations of the author's way of writing.

The limitations are that he/ she was basically blaming all of the trouble that GLBT people have had over the centuries on straight people, because straights would not give them a place in the community. His argument was faulty because some GLBT people cause their own problems by arguing too hard or too fast for acceptance when heterosexuals are just not ready for it yet. They can also sometimes cause their own problems sexually by believing that they are "sexually immune" and can have sex all they want without getting sick or an STD; believing that only heterosexuals get STDs. That's not how it works.

His argument was good in some ways because it really, REALLY paid attention to struggles that GLBT people go through day to day; not being able to wear what they want. Not being able to marry who they want. Not being able to go to the church that they want, etc. Many of the main human rights that all people should be given were talked about, and he talked about how GLBT people do not have those rights and how they have been ignored for so long. But the anger aspect in the tone of the writing made the sensible aspects of his arguments almost completely go away. I know that you cannot give a successful argument when you are angry; it has happened to me many times.

To sum up, "Queers Read This" paid good attention to GLBT struggles but focused too much on how GLBT people should be angry instead of trying to fight in a comfortable and successful way.

Transgender Day of Rememberence

Thought this might intrest some of you!

Thurs, Nov 20
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
Coffman Union Ground Floor
Food Court Area

Transgender Day of Remembrance Actions
Thurs, Nov 20
3:00 - 5:30 PM
Ford Hall 440
(GWSS Lounge)
Screaming of Boy I Am

November 17, 2008

Last week's handout (from 11.11)

Here is Handout #8 on human rights from last week's class.

Also, remember to read the online articles from the Nation about marriage for tomorrow's class:

The Marriage Issue
Can Marriage Be Saved?

November 15, 2008

Prop 8 Protest Tomorrow

There is a protest being organized for this Saturday, in
response to the painful passage of Proposition 8 in California.
Student participation in this effort is key.

Saturday November 15th will be a national day of action for GLBT
rights. Young people have been at the forefront of every civil rights
movement in this country, and we need to mobilize and show up for
this day.

We will begin at 12:30, with a rally in downtown Minneapolis, in
front of City Hall (350 S. 5th St.), and then proceed down Nicollet
to Loring Park.

Whether or not you are GLBT, we very much need to have you there. We
can show that GLBT rights are human rights, that we will not let
ourselves be divided. Perhaps as young people, we take equal rights
for granted. But the passage of Proposition 8, and the wide-ranging
laws that have past in this and recent elections denying GLBT basic
rights, has proven that we cannot be silent on this issue. Regardless
about your feelings on marriage, please join us on Saturday to
celebrate civil rights, and to stand up for equality.

If you're planning on going, call home, tell your parents, aunts,
uncles, grandparents what you're up to this Saturday, talk to them
about their feelings on the issues, and then get them to march with
us! Thank you for any and all support in showing the world that we
are not asking for anything more, and will not accept anything less,
than equality.

Jessica Rosenberg

P.S. In a short 8 minutes, you can get from Coffman to Minneapolis
City Hall on the 16! Organize your group for a fun field trip. Some
day your kids will want to hear all your awesome protest stories.

November 12, 2008

Small Oregon city elects transgender mayor

Here's what we were talking about in class tonight. This may not be the best link, so feel free to trump me if you've got a better one.

Small Oregon city elects transgender mayor

updated 9:27 a.m. PT, Sun., Nov. 9, 2008
Plenty of politicians reinvent themselves, but few do it quite like Mayor-elect Stu Rasmussen.

Rasmussen has been a fixture in Silverton politics for more than 20 years, and had twice before been mayor of the small city 45 miles south of Portland. Those terms, however, were before his breast implants and before the once-discreet crossdresser started wearing dresses and 3-inch heels in public.

Silverton has made Rasmussen the country's first openly transgender mayor, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that works to help openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people win elected office.

Rasmussen, 60, unseated incumbent mayor Ken Hector, with whom he had long clashed, by 1,988 votes to 1,512.

Campaign dominated by policy issues
Because Rasmussen's appearance was no secret, the campaign was dominated by policy issues.

"I've blackmail-proofed myself," Rasmussen said.

The story of Rasmussen's election was first reported by JustOut, a bimonthly publication for Portland's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.

"Stu never sought this recognition out," said JustOut reporter Stephen Marc Beaudoin. "He's interested in doing a great job for the community that he loves. The gender identity thing is just a total backseat thing."

That comes across when Rasmussen speaks in his decidedly masculine voice.

"I am a dude," he said. "I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female."

His longtime live-in girlfriend, Victoria Sage, told The Oregonian newspaper that she and Rasmussen have been an item for almost 35 years.


November 11, 2008

Engaging Assignment #4

There are many rights that each human being should be afforded simply because they wee born. In my opinion they are stem from one encompassing right, and that is that every person should be able to live their lives in the way they see fit as long as they do not interfere with someone else’s life. That includes the ability to make a living in a way they want, the ability to fall in love with anyone they want, the ability to express themselves physically and mentally in anyway they see fit, the ability to have access to every opportunity everyone else does, and the ability set your own rules with regards to your life. It is important to remember, that while all of these are important it is also important to not make decisions that effect someone else’s individual life. A person’s own autonomy is the most important right every person should be afforded.
Often times in any minority group these rights are not fully afforded to the people. For instance, in the GLBT community is, for the most part, very difficult for people to freely fall in love and get married. This is often the most focused on lack of rights in the GLBT community, because a major rights that affords many protections to people is limited to people in the GLBT community. While many of the other rights I have discussed have been afforded to GLBT community in a legal sense, it does not mean that they truly have the protections in every day life. Often times transgender people do not have the luxury of expressing themselves in the best way for them, because many people often have negative and even occasionally violent reactions. Also people in the GLBT community often times feel it is necessary to hide who they are because of a fear of retaliation in their work places, in their social life, and in their familial life. Many times people see rights as something that is afforded to them by way of law, but in reality rights are only worth anything if the people around you respect them. That is where the largest hurdle for the GLBT community is, it is not getting the proper legislation passed, it is getting they people in their lives to understand and respect the fact that every human deserves the same rights as every other human. That is how equality is gained, not by getting 535 members of Congress to pass a law, but by getting the 300 million people of the country we live in to uphold and respect the rights of everyone.


we all did some last minute entries i see.

I'll post this again, in case people didn't get to see it in the on rush of entries.



Basic Rights I believe everyone should have:
1. Freedom of Speech (VOTE)
2. Freedom of Religion
3. Freedom to Pursuit of Happiness...(a lot comes along with that)
4. Freedom to Love (Whom and whatever)
5. Right to clean water and food.
6. Right to be educated and learn.
7. Right to receive heath care.
I feel like my list could obviously keep going, basic simple rights that most people should have is something that almost seems ideal and ridiculous that I am writing about them like a child.
"Maybe one day I can get Married to the man I love".
They seem so simple, but still are neglected from most of the GLBT community. I can say that the biggest issue in my life right now is Prop 8 and its passing. I have loved ones in California who are obviously ready to commit to one another but are unable. Than again what if they were able to marry and find themselves in the predicament where one fall deathly ill? How can you deny and segregate rights? Maybe ''freedom'' isn't the best word to use to let us know our right. So within three sentences I have just eliminated about 4 of my rights that I believe all people should have, beautiful.
Rights only seem "right" to the majority of people that are able to live there happy lives within them (Heterosexual mostly), but as long as the GLBT community is seen as a minority or seemed to be one, are "Rights" we will never be treated as fairly or "Rightfully" as we are supposed to.

Rights that Should be Extended to Every Individual in this country

Here are the basic rights I believe in:
1. Freedom of speech.
2. Freedom of religion.
3. Freedom of sexuality/sexual orientation/sexual desires
4. Dignity.
5. Freedom to marry your lover whether male or female.
6. Regardless of your sexual orientation/ marriage status you should be granted the ability to adopt a child if you can prove you are financial, psychologically, and emotionally ready for the responsibility.
I am sure that after I write this I will think of a million other freedoms that every man, woman, old, young, black, white, brown, pink, blue, trans individual, gay, straight, bi, OR WHATEVER YOU ARE should be given if they live in this country. When it comes to individuals who identify as GLB or T, they are not afforded the same rights as someone who is straight.

For example, the obvious...gay marriage/civil unions. So basically, when someone falls in love with another person and decides to spend the rest of their life in a committed and loving relationship they can only do so if the person they fal in love with has the opposit genitals as them. Sick. Why does this even come in to play? We are not asking for marriage between a donkey and a human or a man and 5 wives or a woman and 4 husbands. But a marriage between one person who loves another. If people are so critical about the promiscuity problem and the "AIDS SCARE" maybe they should allow people in the GLBT the same right to get married and an incentive to be in a monogamous relationship, which straight people can do whenever they want to. And let's face it...us straight people are not always the most monogaous in our relationships so who are we to judge?

The other main right I found was dignity. Here in the United States every person should have the right to dignity. But this is not always the case if you stand out from the "norm". For example, the sirports putting trans individuals on a "thigh threat watch list" if their gender on their ids did not match the gender they were practicing makes about as much sense as the 80 year old lady whos knitting needles were taken away from her on the plane ride because she could try to highjack the plane with them. she could hardly get on the plane. Is this treating either of those individuals with dignity? No. It is humilitating. So is the fact that we do not have more unisex restrooms, which causes trans individuals anxiety about simple tasks like using the restroom when this issue could be easily solved if there were unisex restrooms available.

Or how about the "don't ask don't tell" policy in the military...freedom of speech? I don't think so.
- Amanda

On rights

In arguing anarcha-feminist and radical queer politics, which I often manage to, one thing that I end up repeating over and over is that people have the right to live and breathe simply because they are living and breathing.
I guess "living and breathing" seems like a very simplified and narrow phrase, but when the context is considered, I think it says a lot. It is no secret that for as long as we can remember non-male, non-white, non-straight, non-wealthy, "non-educated" (the quotes come in because I have issues with what does/n't constitute education, but this is neither the time nor place), non-cisgendered, (the list goes on and on and on) people have been denied the right to live and breathe in both literal and some not-as-direct ways.
The Queer community in particular has been a target of this right-stripping practice, especially in recent years. When asked what America's "problem" is, far too many people would straight-facedly answer you that it is the "declining morals" and "glorification" and acceptance of deviant sexualities, genders, and bodies. Stop and think for a minute of how terrifying GLBTQIAA is just in principle to society as a whole. I appreciate this - I do not however sympathize with or accept this.
As anarchism plays a large role in my political leanings and how I choose to conduct my life, I think perhaps my views on people and rights would be well presented here. Yes, my being an "anarchist" means that I believe the State to be inherently harmful (this includes such state owned, run, and operated institutions such as marriage and militarism). As such, I believe that people are not only capable of handling their own shit, but that they flourish and improve the world around them entirely more when allowed to do their own life-living. I do believe that humans are, at base, essentially "good." I also believe that humans, especially those non-normative bodies and lives out there, have been beaten down, suppressed, and silenced so thoroughly and for so long that we no longer believe in ourselves or remember that we have just as much right as anyone else on this planet to live and breathe. I think we've begun to buy into the idea that human "deviancy" necessitates and allows a certain amount of rights-removal and therefore dehumanization. Too many people have drunk the Normalcy Koolaid, and the world is a very scary and sad place for it.
The upside of this is I also believe in the inherent and seemingly impossible potential of human beings to improve not only their own lives, but also those of the people around them, to learn and evolve and constantly reevaluate their circumstances and belief systems. My 80-year-old ex-Southern Pastor grandfather is facilitating a positive and educational conference on transmen in Male Spirit groups and on trans issues in general. The potential for change and progress is there, it's always there. It's a matter of overcoming fears and reeducating oneself and not living in fear of your basic rights being denied you, because you live and breathe on your own terms, goddamnit.

Ice Cream for All

*1. To be treated as an equal*

2. To be free to love another equal without fear of attack (Pursuit of happiness)
3. To live without fear
4. To seek knowledge
5. To live your life how you want as long as you try to do no harm to others
6. Eating ice cream

Whether it is an issue of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, etc. all people deserve to be treated as equals and not to be shunned or labeled in anyway less human. This right, though crucial to achieving even a small semblance of a fair society, is not given to all. Those on the aforementioned list are sometimes, and often, denied this basic right of all people. In America today there is still discrimination and prejudice against people of different race, gender, those with disabilities, and those of varying sexual orientations. For example, people often harbor negative stereotypes of those in the Queer community. All lesbians are butch. All gays are sissy boys. These negative images treat GLBT people as if they all follow a singular pattern, but they do not, in fact, fall into such a cookie-cutter clear mold of being. Like anyone and everyone they fall into multiple categories. Some like cars some don't. Some have long hair some have short. Some are over bearing pin heads with sassy mouths who you just want to smack sideways and some aren't. But overall, they are different.

To society they are different, but not different from each other, but different from society. These people (not just including GLBT) are those whom society stamps with the big fat F of NOT LIKE US. These are the people who have to work to be treated like any other person, to be treated as equals.

Those items on my last after #1 all need equality. To be able to love freely you must be deemed worthy to love. To live without free you must end hate crimes and hate crimes are caused by discrimination which is a result of society's labeling of an outgroup.

GLBT, Intersexuals, Africans, people in wheelchairs, etc. We are all people. It is society that causes us to perceive differently. Who creates society but us? We change society and society changes us. We change, society changes, we change. That's the way to fix it, by making small adjustments to how we live and treat others. And all these small changes add up into big change.

Assignment 4--On Rights

When ruminating on the rights I think are most important, and which every person should have, my thoughts were somewhat in line with our constitutional fathers--not the right to bear arms, but the freedom of expression. Every person should be able to express their beliefs--political, social, religious, personal, etc.--and express themselves, as people, without oppression or fear of oppression. That links to another right I deem incredibly important--the right to feel safe, and have a safe space. No one feels safe one hundred percent of the time (at least, I'm pretty sure they don't), but people should be able to conduct their lives feeling safe that they won't be harassed, oppressed or persecuted because of their individual choices (of course there are outliers to this--serial killers come to mind first--people who encroach on the safety of others). Some of the other rights on my list are: the right to competent medical care (psychiatric care, if necessary); the right to an education; the right to competent and fair justice and protection. . .
But that's awfully utopian of me, because there are multiple people and communities even in this country who are routinely denied these rights. Focusing specifically on GLBT/Q people/communities, the right to a safe space, the right to competent medical care, and the right to fair and competent justice/protection from the law, are often denied to them. We saw in the film last week how transwomen in men's prisons were denied hormone therapy; and the film shows another example--what those women experienced was NOT protection from the law. In our readings, it has routinely come up how GLBT/Q communities/people have been abused by the law and unable to find competent and fair representation within it. But, what is most blatantly (to me) denied to such people and communities is the right to feel safe in their lives. Examples range from the sensational--the highly publicized murders of individuals such as Matthew Shepard or Brandon Teena--to the everyday, such as being denied jobs or getting fired from jobs because of individual choices. And often, the right to freedom of expression coalesces with the right to safe spaces, because personal expression can lead to a violation of one's safety.
With the recent passing of California's ban against same-sex marriage, it's become a popular topic of discussion. Maybe because I would not face any problems if I ever wanted to get married, I don't think about it very often; but I do think it's an important right, that partnerships of any kind be legally recognized as equal, and one specific to the GLBT/Q communities.

Engaging Assignment #4

When I think of human rights, the first place that my mind immediately goes is to the famous phrasing from the Declaration of Independence that all individuals have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." While it's a good starting point, the phrasing is definitely ambigous and greatly open to speculation. Life, perhaps, is a given. Considering the great multitude of fatal hate crimes against GLBT people throughout history however, it is not a right to which GLBT people have been unquestioningly afforded.

Liberty I tend to think of as many of the legal freedoms that we are afforded under the Bill of Rights: Freedom of speech, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, right to bear arms (which was intended as a means to ensure freedom from an overbearing government), etc.
Often times GLBT individuals have been denied these basic liberties, as we saw in the film Cruel and Unusual Punishment, and as was seemingly the case throughout the 60's and 70's and even today, as GLBT individuals were subject to unreasonable search and seizures.

The pursuit of happiness is, of course, a bit stickier. The phrasing indicates that you are allowed to PURSUE happiness, but not necessarily allowed to BE happy. I tend to disagree with this phrasing however. For me, pursuit of happiness entails anything that makes an individual happy that does not in any way injure or infringe upon the rights of others. For GLBT people, many things fall into this category for which they have been wrongly prosecuted. Sodomy between consenting adults, ability to find a job and earn money, ability to rent or buy property, the ability to marry, or even the ability to love whom thy wish. The ability to marry has already been addressed by the courts in the 1967 Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia, where it was stated that, "The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men." Considering this verdict, it is a wonder that gay marriage is even an issue today.

Overall, the issue of basic human rights is a very disheartening thing to look at, because regardless of how you read it, each and every right that has ever been afforded a human being has, at one point or another, been completely trampled on in regards to GLBT people; in many cases, they still are. There are many people who believe that gay people are now pursuing the right to marry because it is the last frontier: that all other battles have already been fought and won. This, of course, is simply not the case.

Engaging Assignment #4: Human Rights

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR is also part of the International Bill of Human Rights. The UDHR consists of 30 articles of rights to be afforded. It was adapted by 48 countries, including the United States.

The 30 articles are definitely expansive, and I don't want to put all of them here. The first, and most important one in my opinion, states this:

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

This is a broad generalization of all of the rights that should be afforded to humans, which is pretty self-explanatory. I find it interesting that this optimism that all human beings are endowed with reason and conscience is inserted. It is such a hopeful notion, especially considering that this declaration was adopted soon after WWII. We want to believe that all human beings have reason and conscience, but we know that this is not true.

Here are some other articles that I particularly believe to be important to this discussion:

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.
Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8: Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 16: Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
Article 23: 1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. 2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
Article 28: Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

I think it all boils down to what I consider what everyone should have: The right to BE. The right to be who you are, where you are, what you are, and decide how you live your life without persecution or inequality. Yes, we do need to make sure that rights aren't taken so far as to deny the safety of others. But ALL humans, regardless of age, nationality, race, sexuality, gender identity, should be awarded the same rights. If one group of people have a certain right (such as marriage), then ALL groups of people should have this right.

The GLBT/Q community is continually denied these rights, set down by 48 separate countries. The community is discriminated against because of their sexuality or gender identity, and these supposed "rights" are taken away from them. Transgender people consistently have problems getting jobs because there is constant discrimination from employers. Gays and lesbians cannot marry legally in most states as well as other countries, and are not afforded the benefits from marriage. Although this specifically says that all people are equal before the law and are afforded protection if discrimination against these laws happen, the GLBT/Q community consistently fights against laws discriminating them from basic human rights, to no avail. The lives of people in the GLBT/Q community are under scrutiny, and while many just ask for the right to be who they are privately, their sexuality or gender identity is a basis for discrimination and persecution in the public eye.

If 48 countries can adopt these 30 articles as rights for all humans, and then repeatedly turn their backs on said humans when the rights are being denied, then the UDHR was in vain, and has no merit.

Engaging Assignment #4

Engaging Assignment #4
After reading the International Bill of Gender rights and looking at the question for today, I had a really hard time discerning what the most important rights should be. How is it possible that we are supposed to pick and choose with rights? It seems ludicrous to me that we are to accept some rights and wait for others. Everyone should be entitled to every single right that is listed and more.
But, by looking at what is actually going on within our culture and within the larger frame, you can see that not everybody believes in these rights. You can see this by looking at the elections from last week. Every single state that had a constitutional ban on gay marriage voted to affirm that ban, with the case of California still up in the air, this goes against “The Right To Form Committed, Loving Relationships And Enter Into Marital Contracts?
Arkansas banned gay couples from adopting children. These go against the International Bill of Gender rights. This goes against “The Right To Conceive, Bear, Or Adopt Children; The Right To Nurture And Have Custody Of Children And To Exercise Parental Capacity?.

Articles for next week from The Nation

Here are the additional readings from The Nation that I mention in the revised syllabus for next week:
The Marriage Issue
Can Marriage Be Saved?

These articles are taken from the July 5, 2004 issue of The Nation. You can access more articles from this special issue on marriage through E journals on the UofM library website. Just click on the E Journals link at the top of the page under "welcome." Then, search for The Nation (hint: also click on starts with instead of contains). Then, put in the issue information.

Why Prop 8 failed?

Check out this article on Prop 8 and why it failed in California. What do you think? What lessons can we learn from prop 8's failure?

Engaging Assignment #4 - Kim Hanlon

I looked at the assignment and was a little surprised, unfortunately. I guess that I have become so used to not having the same human rights as most of the rest of society; I never really thought to sit down and jot them all down. That is heartbreaking to think about; how a certain minority of group(s) are disrespected and de-humanized in a country that is looked to as one of freedom and human rights.
Human rights are defined as basic standards that people need to live in dignity. I believe that violating anyone’s basic human rights is undeniably stating that you believe they are less than a human being. The GLBT/Q people/communities are denied freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and the right to life.
These are some rights that I got from the Human Rights Constitution. Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest (Article 9), Right to Asylum (Article 14), Right to Life, Liberty and the Security of Person (Article 3), Right to Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment (Article 5), and Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association (Article 20).
GLBT people are continually punished by other citizens because of their sexual orientation. They are beaten, mutilated, tortured and killed day in and day out. When the crime is punished, it is not seen as a hate crime because GLBT people are not seen as having basic human rights. What I find extremely interesting is that we are human beings, therefore we have, and are covered, by the human rights constitution, but because we have a different sexual orientation or gender identity, that trumps all of our human rights.
I truly believe that if our country would honor the 'separation of church and state' then the GLBT community would receive the basic human rights that everyone else receives.

Engaging Assignment #4

I labored mentally over the task of creating such a list; I was afraid that, even though in the scope of things this is just an assignment, I wouldn't create as comprehensive of a list as I could and I would miss important things. But then I thought of a clean-slate society, if you will, one free from any arbitrary laws created by man or social dichotomies of the like, etc. This is what I came up with:
Every human should be afforded:
-The right to their own physical, psychological and emotional (etc.) identity and state (no matter how it fluctuates or changes with time and age), and the right to each and every manifestation of themselves on those levels (outward or inward), with the provision that other humans are not hurt in any way on any aforementioned level of awareness or being.

At first I thought "that's way too ambiguous," but is it, really? With how diverse societies of people grow and the fact that no one person in this world is identical to another, is it really possible to quantify and explicate specific human rights? I doubt it. I think in most, if not all, cases, the process of determining "who gets to do what" should be along the lines of "Is it making said person happy? If so, is it hurting any other person, or the person themselves? If not, ok." Maybe I'm making too big of a generalization, but I've tried hard to find fault in that and I really can't. Unless you have met and can completely empathize with and understand every single person in a society, you cannot possibly list and quantify human rights. Everyone has the right to be happy, and as long as it's not hurting anyone else, it should be fine. At times I also thought that maybe that was too idealistic--in some instances, it seems like someone is bound to get hurt. But again, going back to my idea of a clean-slate society and erasing all of the arbitrary systems we have set up for ourselves, it doesn't seem that unrealistic. Many times our hurt is not a product of another's action(s), it's a product of our conditioning to these arbitrary systems and rules.

How are GLBTQ people denied these rights? The list could go on for eternities. We are either blatantly denied happiness, or hurt by others via discrimination/social shunning for things such as: having sex with who we want, loving who we want, expressing ourselves in the way that makes us most happy, being denied the ability to have our legal documents accurately represent who we are (and if they don't, the ability to easily remedy that), being denied access to proper, unbiased healthcare, being deemed a diagnostic code as a community, being denied equal representation in the media and society in general, being denied various forms of general interpersonal respect, being denied rights that other humans inherently have, being denied the right to safe/gainful/protected/equal employment, and many, many others. My brain would explode if I was handed the task to list each and every way in which we are denied our rights.

I watched a video by a friend of mine tonight; he was reflecting on various things, and he said something along the lines of "When I was growing up, I just assumed that I would never be equal and would never have certain rights," and it really struck a chord with me. I think a part of me still expects this from society, as sad as that is. I find it hard to be outraged and motivated sometimes because I'm just NOT surprised at the ignorant things people do anymore. But having gone through this assignment, I'm forced to realize that while apathy may be comfortable, it's not going to make me, or anyone else, happy. So while I generally take the approach of playing the devil's advocate (even when the devil is trying to get me) because I really think the key to making peace with someone is truly understanding them, no matter how different they are, I'm finding that maybe, if I care for my own happiness enough, I need to keep that notion but also push for my own rights as a human a little bit more, and escape that same assumption that I, like my friend, had as a child.

Engaging Assignment 4

I believe that some of the most important rights people should be afforded are:
- The right to equal protection under the law.
- The right to work, learn, and live without discrimination.
- The right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment.
- The right to express themselves.
- The right to marry the person they love.

There are 1,138 rights and benefits granted automatically to opposite-sex couples the moment they sign their marriage certificates. A few examples of these rights include the right to make decisions on a partner’s behalf in a medical emergency, the right to petition for same-sex partners to immigrate, and the right to assume parenting rights and responsibilities in an event of a parent’s death or a breakup. There are also benefits that opposite-couples get to have that include social security, income, estate tax, disability, and family-related military benefits. Tragically, same-sex couples are denied all of these rights plus many more.
I have hope that there will be positive radical change in human rights as long as people continue to work hard at promoting equality. It just blows my mind how unfair things still are.

Alyssa Sison

Engaging Assignment #4--Essential Human Rights

-All people have the right to be equal before the law
-All people have the right to freedom of movement from state to state or to leave the country and return
-All people have the right to not be subjected to cruel, unusual, or inhumane punishment
-All people have the right to not become subject to arbitrary arrest
-All people have the right to be recognized as a person before the law
-All people have the right to work at a job free from discrimination

The list of essential human rights that should be afforded to every single being on this planet goes on and on, and here are just a few. The sad part is that all of these rights are at times not given to GLBT people and communities. My first example—the right to the freedom of movement is a big issue that is always overlooked. When a transgendered person wants to travel, a lot of the times that is not possible. For instance, a transman is probably going to have a hard time getting on a plane when his ID says “Felicity? and he is obviously a man. Another right I have listed states that all people have the right to not be subject to arbitrary arrest. Discrimination in law enforcement is tremendous just not for GLBT people, but for other minorities as well. When I think of cases of arbitrary arrest, I think about the riots at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco where it was a common occurrence to see drag queens arrested for no reason. All people should also be able to hold a job without worrying about discrimination, but sadly that is far from true for GLBT peoples because most states in the country do not have significant laws to protect against such things. All human beings have the right to be recognized as people before the law, but again, this is afforded to GLBT individuals in most places, because the laws are leaving out GLBT people in their definition of a “person.? I say this because our United States Constitution says that all people are equal under the law. GLBT people are not always protected. Therefore, there are aspects of us that are not considered human. It really is an outrage.

November 10, 2008

Engaging Assignment 4

There are a lot of things that can be considered a human right. It's hard to define such an abstract concept, but in my opinion there are a few things that human beings, ideally, should have the right to. The most basic rights human beings should be afforded are food, shelter, medical care, etc. Human beings should have the right to express their beliefs, as long as it is done in such a way that doesn't harm any living thing. Human beings have to right to be cared about by other human beings (i.e. love and companionship) so long as they act in such a way to deserve that care (not harming any living being). Human beings should have the right to determine the fate of their own lives.

There are many, many different kinds of people in the world who do not have all, or even any, of these rights. GLBT peoples are just one of those groups of people who don't necessarily have all of these rights. A lot of it depends on the country people live in, but let's assume we're talking about GLBT people in this country. GLBT people, ideally, do have the right to food in the U.S., should they choose to take advantage of it (through programs like soup kitchens, etc.) Shelter is not necessarily afforded to people in the trans community, considering that many shelters will turn transgendered people away. Medical care is a right that many people in this country already don't have, but domestic partners are oftentimes denied medical coverage from their partner's place of employment.

GLBT people do have the right to express their beliefs, although societal and familial pressures may hinder that right on an individual basis. Although, GLBT people do NOT have that right in certain arenas of this country, such as the military (Don't ask, don't tell). I believe that people in the GLBT community can find other human beings to care about them, being that there are GLBT communities all over the country. It might not be a possibility for GLBt peoples to leave their current communities to find a community to provide them with love and companionship, but it is certainly a possibility for everyone. And of course, GLBT people do not always have the luxury of determining the fate of their own lives. In most cases they are not able to marry, adopt, receive medical care, or any other number of rights afforded to straight people, which can clearly affect the outcome of their lives. They can, of course, choose to be in a relationship with some one of their choosing. I think if someone is able to be with someone they truly love who loves them in return, not having certain rights like marriage and adoption can seem more manageable.

E.A. #4 Human Rights

In the discussion of one’s basic human rights, I believe something’s are a given. These rights include life, liberty, the ability to own property, education, medical care and many more. Some of our assumed human right may not be so obvious such as freedom from unwarranted harassment, or one’s freedom to private sexual practices. Regardless of the visibility and daily use of said freedoms, members of the GLBT community are often times denied many of these basic rights. Since same-sex marriage is widely (and unjustly) opposed in America from a governmental standpoint, therefore hospital visitation and marriage couple benefits are also denied to same-sex couples. GLBT youth are often unbearably harassed in middle and high schools across the country without intervention from authority, thus interfering with their basic right to an education. This is not only an issue in the youth community; GLBT individuals are constantly subject to unwarranted scrutiny from the community, even in legislation. Sodomy laws were once implemented in America making gay sex illegal on the grounds of indecency. The concept of policing something as personal as sexual is baffling to me and although the U.S. has made strides in GLBT rights and recognition in recent decades, we still have a long way to go.

Human Rights

I think some of the most important human rights all humans should be afforded are:
• The right to safe, adequate housing
• The right to marry whom they please
• The right to have food and clean water
• The right to have health care
• The right to have children or adopt children
• The right to practice a religion and attend church
• The right to express themselves

The GLBTQ community is not offered these rights for many reasons. They are discriminated upon sometimes when trying to purchase a home. This is also like minorities because GLBTQ individuals are looked at to be inferior and nobody wants to live down the block from a GLBTQ person or for example a Mexican person. GLBTQ community does not have the right to marry whom they please because it is still looked upon as crushing the family ideal which is the idea of the man, wife and children. GLBTQ individuals do not get the same benefits of health care insurance if married or together with their partners and are not allowed to sometimes even VISIT them in the hospital. GLBTQ individuals can run into some problems with trying to adopt children. GLBTQ individuals are sometimes not allowed to go to a church which means they cannot express themselves due to people’s ignorance.

Intersex Society of North America

Check out the Intersex Society of North America website. While the ISNA is no longer active, the website is a great resource for more information.

Human rights and rectitude

Well, of course, we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness... sure we do. After all, all men are created equal, aren't they? OK, if we grant a bit of poetic license and interpret men to be humanity or mankind (?), maybe we have a good start. The difficult bit with human-rights-should-be is that my ideal of what I want has a societal context. Now Karl Marx (oh oh, dangerous thinking) popularized the phrase "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs". Again, the issue of societal context will arise both in defining abilities and elucidating needs. [Sigh] This is just too darn hard :-)

Looking at Prop 8 in California, let's consider a couple of issues. A rather significant part of the support for Prop 8 came from organized religion. Oh, good! Our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. But in practicing their religion, a large number of people just voted to deny rights to another group of people. So the freedom to practice religion gives the right to deny other people rights that get in the way of those religious views? Well... but wait, these religious might do this if they felt their safety and security threatened. And I was just going to say that safety is one of those basic human right. Darn, this gets complicated!

OK, OK, let's try this one: I'll treat you as I would like to be treated? It will get us close, but the boat still has some holes. It actually requires us to step outside of ourselves a bit. That is, in order to grant you respect, I may have to yield in my beliefs about my own freedom to do as I wish.

Where-the-heck does this get us? Well, you have the right to believe whatever you want... but, in my [perfect] world, you have the responsibility to treat all equally, respectfully and with full recognition of their humanity. In return, you should expect to be treated as an equal, with respect and dignity.

Now the cautionary note... any doctrine based on belief and faith is difficult to dislodge with data and logic. GLBT rights sit at the current frontier of understanding in this county. The speed with which change has been possible stems ultimately from the civil right struggle which is now working on its third century. Basic protections under the law for the GLBT community are not yet uniform nor are civil rights fully protected. The fact of a vote in one of the most liberal states in the country to systematically deny a right to a segment of the populace is very troubling. The struggle to dislodge entrenched beliefs and faith systems is not something that will happen overnight. Hopefully it will not require another century or so.


Intersex Video

I just found this video. You guys should watch it. It's amazingly related to what we're gonna be talking about.

November 9, 2008

Human Rights

Basic Human Rights that I think that every man, woman, and child in the world should have are listed below. I also realize that I write these from the US perspective of individual rights and I know from my studies on culture and health that not all cultures would look at these in the same way. I think that it would be interesting to spend more time on cross cultural views of these topics.

1. Adequate housing appropriate for the culture and climate
2. Adequate access to healthy food and clean safe water
3. Right to culturally appropriate health care at reasonable price
4. Appropriate privacy based on the culture in which one lives
5. Right to defend onself against intrusion of another
6. Right to make decisions about one's body and gender identity; right to be who you are
7. Right to dignity of work
8. Right to marry whom you please
9. Right to freedom of religion, but not to push religious views into civil rights

Human Rights

In making a list of rights that all human beings are entitled to simply because they are human, I would include:
- personal safety and security
- freedom from unwarranted detainment
- education
- adequate nutrition and housing
- self-expression (in an all-ecnompassing sense; including speech, assemply, choice of partner, etc.)
- protection from the law
- health care
- control over one's own body

People of all different backgrounds are denied these rights all over the world for innumerble reasons. GLBT/Q people are one example of this. Many are dened personal safety and security, as they can be and often are subjected to harrassment and violence because of who they love. GLBT/Q people are also obviously denied the right to self-expression. Many in the GLBT/Q community feel they cannot really express themsleves, and therefore do not come out of the closet, or live openly with their partner(s). Protection from the law is also not guaranteed to GLBT/Q communities, as there are many incidents of people being treated unjustly and unequally by law enforcement officials and courts. Finally, GLBT/Q people can sometimes be denied quality health care due to fear and ignorance on the part of health care providers.

Critical Response #5- Cruel and Unusual

As we were leaving class last week after the documentary, my husband Paul, asked “which is the cruel and unusual, the inside or the outside?? This started my thoughts boiling over as much as the movie itself. In several of the cases, the deepest societal problem was not what was going on in the prisons, but why the women were in prison to begin with. In almost all cases it was some trivial transgression and in some cases, the transgressions were for their very survival, given that the women could not obtain jobs. All of the cases were emotionally compelling, both the African American women and both white women, but Linda’s case was particularly heart breaking and it illustrated the amount of prejudice/bias against trans-sexuals that still exists at a time when we have elected an African American as President and have laws to protect discrimination against most minority groups.
I was particularly struck by our classmate’s comment that he/she was not protected, even as a UM employee, given that the UM Regents’ policy of 1995 reads “As a community of faculty, staff, and students engaged in research, scholarship, artistic activity, teaching and learning, or activities which support them, the University fosters an environment that is diverse, humane, and hospitable.? As our classmate pointed out, if there is not protection in a liberal university setting, no wonder the women in the video were not employable.
The UM EEO office uses this statement: “The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation.? What is not clear is whether “sexual orientation? covers trans-sexuals. In looking further, I found that the Transgender Commission is “working? to amend the equal opportunity statement to include gender identity and expression.

We discussed privilege a little last week, based on Carbado’s article. It would seem that the “privilege? of gainful employment is one that cannot be ignored and in fact should be a right of any qualified person for the job. Linda had lived a privileged life as the white male working a well paying white male type of job on oil rigs. To relieve her internal suffering and identity issues, she even went to the extreme of self castration. This change of public identity put her into probably one of the least privileged classes in the US today. The lack of a steady job caused her to be homeless and penniless, even though she had skills. To me, this is the cruel and unusual, more so than the prison system, since she should have not been in prison. If anything, she should have been treated in a mental health facility.
If we compare to Bornstein’s “who’s on top?, we see the same distribution of privilege, including that of well paying jobs. As a man, Linda was in that top position. A simple change of genitalia and sexual identity put her in an unemployable position. I am now waiting for the civil rights lawyers to initiate a class action suit on this one, since it seems a gross discrimination against a human being who is skilled and employable.

Engaging Assignment #4

I think that the set of “important rights? varies from person to person (or perhaps culture to culture), based on the way people live and what they are already allowed and denied. Something that comes to my mind when asked the above is the right to marry who I love, something that is denied to me by the government. This, however, would not apply to someone else who is seeking to marry someone of a different gender.

I think that the constitution lays out what should be the foundation for “most important rights?: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is up to each individual (or at least it should be) to determine what this means in their own life. I think that most people would agree on the rights that constitute “life?–what is key to survival on a physical level? Things like food and shelter are mostly agreed upon. Problems arise with the more subjective “liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?. There exist many interpretations for what constitutes happiness and freedom, and so the mandated legal rights (or “functional rights?, ex there is a law in place that does not outright stop you from doing something, but makes it very difficult to do so), may or may not encompass what any given individual sees to be an important right in their life.

There are many, many examples of how members of the GLBT community are denied these rights. Things like unfair employment opportunities and lack of anti-discrimination policies hinder the “life rights? of many GLBT individuals–survival becomes increasingly difficult. There are many limitations on “liberty?–one of the most well known is the now¬-overturned “Homosexual Conduct Law? in Texas, that made oral and anal sex between two men or two women illegal.

The list of the rights denied to the GLBT community under “the pursuit of happiness? is ridiculously large. Some that come to my mind are the denial of same-sex marriage (or civil unions), the denial (in some states) of gay couples adoption, the refusal of some insurance plans to fully cover hormones treatment and surgery, and the failure of schools to create safe spaces for GLBT students. One that sticks out particularly in my mind is the subject of the film Cruel and Unusual–the placement of transgender women in men’s prisons, as well as the denial of hormones and surgery.

The reason that these rights are still denied is because they are not universally seen as rights. Most people don’t care at all about whether or not a woman in prison has hormones, or whether a gay couple in Arkansas can adopt a child and start a family. I think that once these are recognized as rights that individuals should be afforded, things will change.

Basic Human Rights

I think that the most important rights are the freedom to marry, access to healthcare, right to have children, the right to choose a religion and worship openly, equal access to employment, and equal access to government services.

I think that people in the GLBT community of denied these rights on some level. They are prohibited from getting married and in some state(s) adopting children. Proposition 8 recently passed in California which “Eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry.? It is quite scary that the United States is now taking away rights that they began to give. It’s also interesting that prisoners, who have committed crimes and lost many of their basic rights, are still allowed to marry, while same-sex couples who have contributed to society are prohibited.

Some churches are closed off to GLBT people. Although employers are legally bound to hire people irrespective to race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, it is still done. In situations of employment is can be hard to pin point this kind of discrimination, but there is no doubt that it happens. Many employers also prohibit the sharing of insurance benefits for same sex couples

November 6, 2008


I think at a very basic human level, everyone should have the right to safety, employment, shelter, food and clothing. I also believe that people should be able to make decisions regarding their personal belief system for themselves. Everyone should be able to choose or not choose to: get married, have or adopt children, practice a religion and perform their sex-assigned gender. The GLBT Community has been denied many of these rights and continues to be. State bans against gay marriage and gay adoption are recent examples of this discrimination and heterosexual privilege. As we discussed in class and witnessed in Cruel and Unusual Punishment, transgender individuals face huge barriers to employment and as a result, have to hide their true identity or face rejection. Without a way to earn a living, one cannot be expected to survive long in our society, especially when those with jobs can barely afford to do so.

Engaging assignment #4- Sonya Boeser

ENGAGING ASSIGNMENT #4: What do you think are some of the most important rights that all humans should be afforded? Make a list of these rights and then discuss some examples of how GLBT/Q people/communities are denied these rights. Post your thoughts on the blog.
Due 11/11.

All humans first and foremost should be afforded the right to LIVE. GLBT persons were denied this right by Hitler and are denied this right in some countries today, even when the government is not completely sure that someone is GLBT. They are tortured, beat up, called names, made fun of, and tossed aside; just for being themselves. This leads to the right to have a job- in many countries and states it is legal to deny someone a job or fire them simply for being GLBT. The right to have a home: a lot of homeless people today may be GLBT because they cannot find jobs to make money to buy a home or else because realtors will not make contact with them. Everyone should be afforded the right to dress how they want and accessorize how they please. Transgender people are looked at strangely for wearing clothes of the opposite sex, and butch lesbians looked at strangely for their leather jackets, boots, torn jeans, and spiked jewelry; gay men put aside for their crisp clothes, cleanly shoes, and perhaps sometimes slightly effeminate way of dress. All of these dress and accessory stereotypes do not matter; they are simply part of who the person is. And finally, GLBT persons should be given the right to a marriage ceremony if they so desire. Some states allow them ceremonies that symbolize the couple being together, but this is not enough for the GLBT community to be equal to the heterosexual community in this way. Heterosexuals are allowed elaborate celebrations of their love with religious ceremonies and if GLBT people so desire, this right should be afforded them. As well as medical care, cars, food, education, visitation rights in hospitals and jails; there is just too much to talk about. "Oh, he is gay; don't sell him a car. Don't let anyone visit him. Don't serve him food. Don't cure his disease. Don't let him get married." Heterosexuals dance around the fact that GLBT people are, in fact, people!

November 5, 2008

Class last night (11.4)

Last night, we watched Cruel and Unusual and talked about dignity. I also handed out a revised syllabus and Handout #7.

Privilege Lists

Here are the links to the privilege lists that I read from in class last night:
White Privilege
Cisgender Privilege

More information on the film, "Boy I Am"

Here is the description from the film's website.

Boy I Am:
While female-to-male transgender visibility has recently exploded in this country, conversations about trans issues in the lesbian community often run into resistance from the many queer women who view transitioning as a "trend" or as an anti-feminist act that taps into male privilege. Boy I Am is a feature-length documentary that begins to break down that barrier and promote dialogue about trans issues through a look at the experiences of three young transitioning FTMs in New York City—Nicco, Norie and Keegan—as they go through major junctures in their transitions, as well as through the voices of lesbians, activists and theorists who raise and address the questions that many people have but few openly discuss.

November 4, 2008

Upcoming film event/extra credit possibility

Transgender Commission Gender Discussion
genderheads: gender i am
Thurs, Nov 20, 3:00-5:30 PM
Location TBA

Join us on the Trans Day of Remembrance for a screening of the documentary Boy I Am, followed by a facilitated discussion of gender identity, expression, performance, and the intersections of our identities as part of the ongoing genderheads series. Snacks and refreshments will be provided!

November 3, 2008

Class this Week (11.4)

Hi all,

Last week we finished discussing the Bornstein and watched a long clip from the documentary "After Stonewall" about queer activism and AIDS. This week we will briefly continue our discussion of "Queers Read This/I Hate Straight" and "Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens."

Here are some changes that I announced last week:
1. This week we will begin the ethics section by focusing on dignity. We will either watch "Cruel and Unusual" or "Toilet Training." And we will discuss the Bill of Gender Rights.
2. The following week (11.11), we will discussing and reading about intersexuality.
3. You are required to write one of your critical responses on Queers Read This, "Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens," "Queer Nation" OR "Queer Aztlan". Reflect on the following questions: What is queer? What is the radical/transformative potential of queer activism? Also, think about this topic in relation to the film clip that we watched. This critical response is due 11.18 (not 11.11).

See you tomorrow. Remember to vote!!

November 2, 2008

Critical Response #4-Moraga

The paper by Moraga was interesting to me, having taken 4 years of Spanish in 1998-2002 and being exposed to all types of literature from Latin American countries. It was only in my HIV/AIDS training with the Hispanic community (in Spanish) that I was exposed to any issues of GLBT, however. It was a poignant video where the family initially rejected their homosexual son (who was married); he died of AIDS and his wife was pregnant. In the end, the baby did not have HIV and the family accepted the child and his mother. The video accented the strong family ties of the Hispanic culture, yet also the intolerance for deviations from the heterosexual and clearly Catholic viewpoint.
As Moraga points out, there is a clear divide in gender expectations in the Hispanic culture. In the Mexican culture, the male stereotype is the macho and the female is the combination of the Blessed Virgin Mary and La Chingada. The divided view of the female by the society, at the same time holy and pure and a temptress and whore, comes from the Spanish part of the culture rather than the indigenous part. The key point of Moraga’s essay I think was the inter-weaving of issues of culture and GLBT. Moraga notes in the introduction that, in acknowledging her lesbianism, she had the choice to go against her Church, her family, and her “country? or die from despair.
She makes the point that in the Chicano movement, women were not originally recognized. In re-defining the Chicano culture, Moraga notes that feminists have committed to preserve it, but know that it will not survive the machismo that leads to drug and alcohol abuse, incest, spousal battering, and marginalization of the homosexual Chicanos. She says that many homosexual brothers and sisters of the movement have been forced from their families and are now in a place where they can express what it will take to re-define the “family? in a more healthy way. She notes that gay men have been absent from the Chicano movement also (it is not clear what the date of the essay is, but I presume early in the 90s), but still “cling to whatever privileges they have? which apparently means upholding a sexist attitude toward women (this reminiscent of Bornstein’s “who’s on top?). She refers to the civil rights movement and black men also acting as “men? rather than “human beings?. She then launches into a dream about wresting the southwest from the US into Aztlan, similar to the way that the former USSR dissolved. Lastly, she discusses the earth as female, the madre tierra, and compares the way we have treated the earth to the way that women are treated, e.g. raped. She suggests that any religion or system that grows from the male capitalist system versus the female system of living in harmony with nature will destroy the earth and inhabitants. She ends with a comment that land is not just rocks, trees, animals, plants, but also the places of existence, from homes to factories, to stores to water, to “our bodies?. She suggests that all of these remain occupied by the Anglo patriarchal system in the imperialist US.
Her views remind me of Bornstein and indigenous views of the earth and humans. Like Bornstein in the “who’s on top? essay, the gender-race/color-sexual orientation-power axis is emphasized. While Bornstein looked at the issues as former man, now female, but Euro-American, Moraga looks at them through the eyes of a Chicana lesbian, which seems a lower place on the pyramid of privilege. Much of the Mexican-Chicano culture is a mixture of Spanish and indigenous and although she seems to claim more of the indigenous viewpoint in her writing here, the Spanish system would have resembled that of Bornstein in its Euro viewpoint. The matrix needed to figure out “who’s on top? from her viewpoint is complicated, since it can be split via hetero gender lines, racial lines, and sexual orientation. I would see that the straight male would be on top of the gay male and female, then the lesbian female in the lowest category. In the Hispanic culture, there are still very defined roles for men and women and only now, years after Moraga wrote, is there maybe some changing of strict roles.
I used to go to Ecuador where the indigenous population is very high and I studied the indigenous culture deeply. Their view is like yin and yang in terms of gender roles, each very necessary for the other, but still very define. Living in a developing country, I am not sure I ever could say that plowing with a hoe or behind an ox was more privilege than cooking or watching children. One clear value and behavior in the indigenous culture is the reverence for Pachamama or madre tierra and her female characteristics of nurturing life. Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, asks the question “why did the Spanish conquer the indigenous versus the other ways around. If I can believe Moraga, it would be because the indigenous people were earth friendly and treated the earth mother with respect and lived in harmony with her. This seems to be what Moraga is also asking for in the mythical Aztlan or maybe in today’s culture.