A New Safe Space in Chicago, or “Service, space, and community? What a concept!”

Chicago House opens nation’s first transgender housing.

My hat is off to some really wonderful people in Chicago today. Chicago House has pulled out all the stops to set up a safe living space for at-risk trans people in the greater Chicago area called the TransLife Center. It’s part of a larger organization effort they’ve titled the TransLife Project to improve the lives of transgender individuals in Chicago. As many of you may know, housing security is a huge concern for transgender people, and we suffer from a much higher-than-average rate of homelessness. Although Chicago House is primarily a organization geared towards caring for those with HIV/AIDS, they have recently expanded their efforts with the trans community at the urging of activists within their troup. The TLC will be a space where trans people can live safely if they are need as they get on their feet (transitional housing), as well as get access to employment services and health care. I think this will be a huge boon to the community of Chicago.

I think it would be fantastic to see groups in other cities follow this model and make sure that vulnerable trans people do not fall through the cracks and end up on the street or worse. The rates of suicide and homicide for the transgender community are very high, and homelessness only increases those risks.

Kudos to you, Chicago House, for all your hard work!

GOP Move to Ban Rainbow Flag, or “Republicans will find any excuse to be a jerk to the queer community.”

Louisiana Republican Introduces Bill To Ban LGBT Rainbow Flag From Public Buildings | ThinkProgress.

Here we go again. A in Louisiana war veteran saw a picture of a Pride Flag being hoisted after the DOMA Supreme Court decision, and decided he was offended. This seemed so important to a Parish-Councilman that he decided to write legislation banning all “non-governmental” flags.

What really gets me here is that the GOP is trying to walk this back as “not against the gays.” But the words used by the offended veteran are:

 

I did not go overseas and fight for our country so that we could come back and be subject to something like that. Several of us feel that the flying of this flag is a poke in the eye of a way of life.

To me that reads of “I didn’t serve in the military and fight for our country to come back and have to see people being queer in public. Seeing that flag flying grosses us out.”

I have a great deal of respect for military personnel and the sacrifices they make. However, it doesn’t make your viewpoints any more valid or important than anyone else’s. People were hoisting the Pride Flag as a victory celebration for one of the biggest steps forward for our community in the history of this country. No other flags were taken down for the ceremony, and the Pride Flag wasn’t flown above any US flags.

Really, doesn’t Louisiana have more pressing issues than the Pride Flag? It sounds like just another excuse to kick dirt in the face of the LGBTQ community.

The Religious Right Kicks Trans People Again, or “Seriously, can you all just take your bigoted bullshit and fuck off now?”

Pastors argue against ‘transgender’ on human rights ordinance | News – Home.

I know this is just a lot of the same tired bullshit we hear again and again and again every time someone has the audacity to think that maybe trans people ought to be treated like human beings. But I feel it’s important to continually call this bullshit out and make it clear that it’s unacceptable and ensure that they are held accountable for their intolerant bigotry and hate-spreading.

Basically, the religious folks down in Miami-Dade are up in arms and spewing transphobic nonsense because the Miami-Dade County Commission would like to include gender identity in their human right ordinance. So, in essence, they don’t feel like transgender individuals are entitled to having their human rights protected.

From the article:

“Now you so confused you don’t know what you are that you’ve got to go — you’s a woman, you going into the men’s bathroom. You’s a man, you’re going into the women’s bathroom,” said Elder James Smith with the Apostolic Revival Center. “No, I don’t respect that.”

Sorry, Elder Smith, but I don’t respect using one’s religion and influence in the community to push narrow-minded hateful views on every around you. Despite what you might think, transgender people are ACTUALLY people, and we are deserving of equal treatment and protection under the law.

On the flip-side, I give some major points to the Miami-Dade County Commission for pushing forward with adding protections for trans people in their county! Way to go!

Some Horrible Science Journalism, or “You shouldn’t write about science and medicine if you don’t have a basic grasp for how science works.”

Autism May Start in The Gut, Study Finds – Autism Center – Everyday Health.

So basically, the above article is a pile of horseshit that completely perverts the study that was actually done. I’m absolutely disgusted and enraged reading it.

The basic finding of the ACTUAL research is that there a decrease in the diversity of intestinal flora in people on the autism spectrum, and the researchers believe that it may play a part in why autistics suffer from a lot gastrointestinal disturbances. What the article implies, however, is that somehow a change in intestinal flora is RESPONSIBLE and CAUSATIVE of the autism, and that perhaps by fixing this problem, we could cure autism. This is NEVER discussed by the researchers in their publication, and it doesn’t even make sense from a medical/science standpoint.

I have a lot anger and frustration at science journalism in the US, particularly when it comes to medical research. There is a constant tendency to over-read the research findings, draw false implications, and fail to understand the extremely basic premise that correlation does not equal causation. It’s a sensational form of journalism, and it’s wholly inappropriate for medical journalism. The public as a whole does not have the background to read the research itself, and when the data is sensationalized, you can create all kinds of public health scares and complications for the medical community.

But with autism, I think there’s an even bigger problem. Parents are often desperate for any explanation for why their children are autistic, and it’s already incredibly challenging to sift through the huge piles of information out there. Sadly, much of the information is misleading bordering on out-and-out falsified bullshit. Articles like this only add to that complication. And it really takes away from the fact that this IS a pretty major step forward. There are a number of unusual physical maladies that plague the ASD community, and GI problems are chief among them. If this research leads to a way to reduce just the GI problems that we have, that’s a wonderful thing and it will improve our lives. There’s no need to dig deep for false hope for some sort of miracle cure to come out of it.

When it come to science journalism, let’s stick to facts and appropriate conclusions and not twist the words of the researchers to fit the narrative you’re looking for.

The Geek World Has Lost a Great, or “The most important computer inventor you’ve never heard of has passed.”

Doug Engelbart, inventor of computer mouse, dies at 88 | Technology | guardian.co.uk.

Even if you’re a mega-nerd, you may not have ever heard of Doug Engelbart. He wasn’t a Silicon Valley billionaire like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, or Bill Gates. But his work is partially responsible for my ability to sit here and write this blog.

Engelbart’s most famous invention is the computer mouse, which he patented in 1979- nearly 15 years before it would become commercially available. It went on, of course, to become one of the most important input devices for computer technology for decades. He was also one of the earliest pioneers to consider the graphical user interface, and was an active researcher for the ARAPANET project that would later become the Internet as we know it.

Engelbart’s personal research philosophy was both simple and admirable. He desires to harness technology to solve complex problems and improve the lives of others. He spent most of his career working to improve the ways that people interact with machines. Because he was such a modest man, he spent much of his life in obscurity, despite his significant contributions to the world of modern computing. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that he began to receive recognition for his work, which include a Lemelson-MIT prize, the Turing Award, the National Medal of Technology, and Lovelace Medal.

Dr Engelbart was 88 when he passed. The geek world has lost one its humblest stars today.

The GOP Can’t Let Go, or “How Republicans feel the need to proclaim their homophobic bigotry as often as possible.”

Tim Huelskamp Introduces Constitutional Amendment Banning Gay Marriage.

The ink is barely dry in the Supreme Court’s declaration that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and already Republicans are clamoring to enshrine anti-LGBT bigotry into the US Constitution. Congressman Heulskamp from Kansas has introduced a constitutional amendment to restrict marriage to one man and one woman throughout the US. Already, 28 Republican legislators have signed on as sponsors.

Now, given the make-up of the US Congress, and the composition of the state legislatures, this amendment has absolutely ZERO chance of passing. But the mere existence and introduction of such an item is a degree of bigotry that makes my stomach turn. Essentially, upon hearing that the Supreme Court had decided that they could no longer legally repress and discriminate against gays, these Republicans basically decided to stomp their feat like obstinate children and scream “BUT WE DON’T WANNA BE NICE!” Their homophobia is so profound that they want legal discrimination written into our Constitution. It’s sad. It’s disgusting. And they should be mocked and ridiculed for their outdated, hateful, bigoted views at every turn.

Now, we still don’t have immigration reform. We still don’t have budget agreements. We haven’t reformed the FISA Court. We have still have a jobs problem. But the GOP wants to waste more time fighting for their right to treat LGBT people like second class citizens.

Shame on you, Mr Huelskamp. And shame on all those supporting this amendment. And if the GOP leadership is foolish enough let this see even a peak of daylight, shame on them too. The voters will remember this.

More Violence Against Trans Women, or “Be careful, DC people!”

D.C. Police Investigate Two More Attacks On Transgender Women.

So there have been no less than six attacks in trans women in the DC area in the last two weeks. At least two of them were shot, and one sexually assaulted. It’s unclear if they are connected, or if it’s just a overall uptick in violence towards trans people. What it is, for sure, is scary and troubling.

What upsets me most is how little coverage situations like this get from the media. It’s a very real danger, and it’s completely ignored by most major outlets. So it’s up to us as a community to boost the signal, and make sure these stories get heard! It’s just as serious a crime to beat, stab, shoot, rape or rob a trans person, and it’s about time these crimes were treated that way.

Keep your heads up and your wits about you, DC people!

SB5 Rises from the Grave, or “Rick Perry really loves fetuses and hates women.”

Rick Perry Calls Second Special Session To Pass Abortion Restrictions.

Alright, so the title might be a little political hyperbole, but only just. After the heroic, body-wrecking filibuster of Sen. Wendy Davis prevented the passage of the insanely over-reaching Texas abortion legislation know as SB5, Governor Rick Perry is going to call the legislators back for ANOTHER special session and to try this again. Sadly, the law allows Perry to do this over and over again until he gets what he wants. In the end, SB5 will likely become law in Texas, because Gov. Rick seems to think trampling women’s rights and violating Roe v. Wade is more important fixing the myriad of problems in Texas.

My only hope is that enough voters in Texas are paying attention to this ridiculous sideshow, and might be willing to help throw these jerks out on their cans come election time.

A girl can dream, right?

But seriously, I think Wendy Davis has done a fantastic job of galvanizing women and progressives in Texas and it might be enough to get some changes down there.

And of course, there’s also the hope that the generally more sane Federal court system will quash this garbage before it has the chance to harm anyone.

Anyway, I still stand with Wendy, and her efforts on behalf of Texas women are to cheered as loudly as we can manage.

Texas SB5 is Dead, or “Wendy Davis -and all women- win, even after they tried to silence her.”

Texas Abortion Bill Filibustered By State Senator Wendy Davis Is Dead.

So yesterday I blogged about Wendy Davis’s incredible filibuster on the floor of the Texas State Senate to block the passage of sweeping abortion prohibitions in Texas. The entire thing was live-cast via YouTube and over 200,000 people were watching at one point, and the Twitter-verse was a buzz as the final hours clicked down to the midnight deadline for passage.

Just after 11:00pm central time, the presiding officer of Senate decided (wrongly and for the direct purpose of shutting her up, in my opinion) that Wendy had violated the rules of “germaineness” in her speech three times, and declared the end of the filibuster. A flurry of motions followed and extensive debate ensued on the nature of the rules of the Texas Senate, stretching the time down to the final 15 minutes. As the presiding officer attempted to call for a roll-call vote, the viewers in the gallery rose to their feet and created such a ruckus that the sheer noise prevented business from continuing. And they kept this up right through midnight, even as the Texas GOP tried to find a way around it. Eventually, a roll-call vote was taken, but it was announced this morning that it was officially recorded after the midnight deadline, and therefore invalid.

So despite the attempts of the Republicans to silence her, Wendy Davis won her battle yesterday, and the women of Texas retain their access to safe, legal abortions. Sadly, Gov. Rick Perry has signaled that he will yet-again call for a Special Session for the Senate to try to pass this bill. I can only hope that another brave Democrat will take to the floor, and that gallery is again packed with voices for women’s rights. Pay attention, Texas GOP. Those voices you hear in shouting at you from above are the people you represent.

I STILL Stand With Wendy!

The Bravery of Wendy Davis, or “One amazing woman has the guts to call the Texas GOP on their misogynistic bullshit.” [I Stand With Wendy!]

Badass Texas Senator Launches Intense Filibuster Against Abortion Bill.

So if you’re a feminist and you haven’t heard about SB5 in Texas, then you are probably living under a rock. But if you are just recently coming out of coma or something: the Republican legislators in Texas are attempting to push through sweep legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks (much like this bullshit legislation before Congress) and close all but 5 abortion providers in the state.

The measure has already gained passage in the state House, and it came to the state Senate floor today. One awesome and brave female state Senator has taken on the task of filibuster this horrific piece of legislation. Wendy Davis took the floor and as of the moment I’m posting is still standing strong. And Senator Davis isn’t just reading a phone book up there…she’s been actively destroying the “merits” of this legislation for the entire duration. She’s pulled apart the language, read court opinions, provided medical research, and shared the stories of dozens upon dozens of women.

Making this feat even more impressive are the particularly difficult rules governing filibusters in the Texas Senate. She must remain standing the entire time, without so much as leaning on the rostrum. She can take n breaks for food or the bathroom. The GOP has been looking for ways to force her off the floor, but she’s remained steadfast in her effort.

I am so blown away by Wendy Davis’s dedication to fighting for women’s right to control their bodies. I’m proud to declare her my hero of the month! If you’d like to share your story with her, you can tweet her @WendyDavisTexas or show your support by tweet with the hashtag #StandWithWendy.