Shit cis people say, trans & intersex athletes, and warped double standards

As with the ethics of (non)disclosure concerning one’s gender history, athletics is one area of trans rights where otherwise sympathetic voices routinely fly off the rails. I have noticed two areas in which this manifests: Ignorance on how hormones actually work; and conflation of statistical averages with the specific outcome of a given individual.

Fallon Fox is a mixed-martial arts fighter who was invited to speak at Skepticon back in 2015. She is also a transgender woman. Fox has been subject to a great deal of scientifically illiterate criticism following Fox’s victory during a match between her and another fighter who was assigned female at birth. The substance of the criticism was that Fox had fundamentally violated the conditions on which they agreed to fight by “being male,” despite having lower testosterone than her opponent and despite having a similar body frame. Out came the weird pseudoscience.

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Torturing kids and tearing families apart, how very Christian of you

I’ve mentioned in passing before on this blag that children’s services and family court often collude to produce a living hell for trans people. We have yet another example of this in Illinois.

The parents of a young trans girl sought out medical care for their child’s type 1 diabetes and epilepsy at a faith-funded clinic called Advocate Hope Children Hospital. While both conditions have been confirmed by experts, the AHCH took it upon themselves to accuse the parents of child abuse because they were affirming their child’s gender. And, once again, it fucking worked–at least so far.

A lawyer representing the family told LGBTQ Nation this all started last month, with the parents trying to get medical help for their daughter, who has type 1 diabetes and epilepsy. Although they agreed to something called a “therapeutic separation,” the attorney confirmed the parents never signed any documents surrendering their parental rights or authorizing any treatment of her gender identity, and in fact have attempted to have her moved to another hospital.

But last week, the Illinois Department of Children and Families reversed an earlier decision to not get involved. DCFS took protective custody of Stevie on Monday, according to the family’s attorney, Rina Infelise. She told LGBTQ Nation in a phone interview Sunday evening that this kind of move requires a legal hearing, and so both the parents and DCFS are due in court this week to face a judge, who will decide Stevie’s fate.

A religious hospital fucking kidnaps a patient, and it’s the parents who are the abusive ones? Are you fucking kidding me?

I just wilt with impotent rage at these circumstances. Time and time again the experts have said that allowing children to explore and express their gender facilitates their health. Time and time again the courts have mandated gender policing despite its iatrogenic effects. When are these fucking dinosaurs in court going to catch the fuck up? How many god damn perfectly health and happy families are they going to torpedo while we wait for reality to sink in to these fuckers?

I hope the parents win their case. It’s days like these where I wish a just god did exist to smite these self-righteous assholes that do this to healthy families. I can’t fucking stand it. It’s scientifically illiterate, morally bankrupt, and all around a giant clusterfuck of wrong.


Good News Monday: Harm reduction advances in Alberta

Content Notice: Opioid addiciton.

Alberta, as with many places in the United States, is in the midst of an opioid crisis, with a particular cocktail called fentanyl (10x more powerful than heroin, 100x more powerful than morphine) and it’s sadistic cousin carfentanyl (like fentanyl but somehow even worse) making the rounds, especially among vulnerable populations. It’s been clear to the evidence-based policy crowd that the best way to intercept the casualties in this crisis is to treat the issue as one of public health rather than of public crime, building relationships between addicts and health services instead of making them afraid to seek out help. Decriminalization of possession is a vital step. Officially, possession is still on the books in most municipalities as well as the Criminal Code of Canada, and we are in the precarious position of asking police to exercise discretion when dealing with addicts.

However, Alberta is taking a few steps towards harm reduction, a series of policies designed to simply keep addicts alive long enough for them to access help. Edmonton announced several safe injection sites integrated in existing emergency housing and hospital services.

The supervised-injection locations would offer individuals a list of resources:

  • Sterile injection supplies
  • Education on safer injection, overdose prevention and intervention
  • Medical and counselling services
  • Referrals to drug treatment, housing, income support and other services
  • Attention to medical needs that require an immediate response.

The services would also be intended to be an entry point for users to receive further social supports, primary health care and treatment.

Each location would be staffed with a nurse, social worker/addiction worker and peer support worker.

While the police chief has the right attitude…

“I think the big issue is the unmet care issues – the people that are mentally ill that are homeless that are addicted and they need help,” Knecht added. “I think if we can get them to a place where they have a safe warm bed at night, some meals, proper medication – they will become productive members of the community.”

…His officers might not.

I’m glad Alberta’s health and social services are stepping up, but we ought to be decriminalizing possession, too. Still, this is an important step to reducing the fatalities, and for once our provincial government isn’t cutting the essential services to try and give a helping hand here.


“Unexpected legal implications”?

Well slap my side and roast me for dinner. Those two Baptist schools that are defying Bill 10, a law which compels all schools to form a Gay-Straight or Queer-Straight Alliance if the students request one, have given the Education Minister David Eggen some “unexpected legal implications.

For more than two months, Education Minister David Eggen has had a copy of a report and recommendations from inquirer Dan Scott, whom Eggen hired to investigate two Edmonton-area private schools.

“Yes, we are working with it, but it’s more complicated than we had originally foreseen,” Eggen said Wednesday.

Gee, you’re just now figuring out the finer details of entrusting a god damn cult with the public education of our children?! Fuck me, Minister, it’s a little early in 2017 to be awarding Understatement of the Year, but you are off to a smashing start!

In response, Eggen demanded a written promise from Coldwell to comply with laws unanimously approved by the legislature in 2015 that protect gender identity and expression as grounds for protection from discrimination, and compelling schools to help students organize a support group for LGBTQ students when they ask for one.

Eggen then received a letter from the school board’s lawyer that the minister won’t discuss.

The minister appointed Scott, a lawyer, to study the schools’ policies, documents and handbooks, and interview students, staff and families, to see if they are in line with the law.

Although he’s had the report in hand since December, Eggen would not divulge its conclusions or recommendations.

“It extends past just the individual case. The legal complexities that have come to light with this particular case have to have larger implications, so that’s about as far as I want to say about it right now,” Eggen said. “We’re working hard, because I want to make sure we get it right, and we want to make sure that we’re sending a safe and caring message right across every school.”

The “legal complexities” are thus:

  • Alberta’s federation with Canada back in the good ol’ days enshrined Catholic participation in government as a means of warding off Protestant persecution of Catholics.
  • We’ve since matured and developed a human rights code that says you can’t be a piece of shit to people just because they’re Queer.
  • Catholics continue to be pieces of shit to people just because they’re Queer.

Funnily enough, the United Nations awarded Canada a failing grade on separation of church and state, pointing to our numerous publicly funded religious schools.

In other words, David Eggen is wandering into a minefield that secular and queer Canadians have been pointing out for fracking decades: Our human rights codes and our tolerance of oppressive religious beliefs contradict each other, and at some point one has to be ruled subordinate to another.


24 hours in the life of a trans writer

05:30 — I’m an early riser, and sometimes I even beat my alarm clock. How much of that is just heightened anxiety and existential dread, I’ll probably never know. The sun hasn’t even risen, but it’s when I do my best work.

05:41 — I’ve brewed my coffee and opened my email. The first message says I should be “interned” at an asylum. I write back, saying I’m flattered he has such confidence in my abilities that I’d qualify for an internship at a psychiatric hospital. It’s a facetious response. The content of his email clearly indicates he meant “interred.” He doesn’t seem to know that interrogating my own sanity has become a daily ritual thanks to a culture of persistent, sustained, and uncoordinated gaslighting directed at people like me. I consider sending him the history of psychiatry’s abuses with trans people and how none of that torture stopped us from being trans. He doesn’t care. He’ll unknowingly comment on another piece of my work under a handle similar to his email, saying the exact same thing.

He isn’t wishing for my health. He’s wishing for my disappearance.

06:24 — I see the Daily Mail has accused me of being a “gender fascist.” Well, not me specifically, but if the Daily Mail was in the habit of dealing in specifics it wouldn’t be in business at all. Whatever. It’s a fact-free hit piece, not that the consumers care. They’re just paying for another pundit to foam at the mouth over some nebulous spectre of slavering trans fuckbeasts.

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Conservatives blast NDP for following conservative energy plan

I’ve been blindly poking and prodding at the Mythical Centre everyone seems to insist exists in Albertan politics, insistently pointing out that our current government run by the New Democratic Party isn’t all that aggressively socialist after all. In fact, I don’t even have to go as far back as Peter Lougheed, widely considered one of the Progressive Conservative’s most reasonable and productive Premiers, to find similarities between the energy plan of the NDP and the PCs–Rachel Notley’s policy is nearly identical to that of the late Jim Prentice.

Which seems… odd… given how Canada and Alberta’s mainstream media has a never-ending lineup of pundits screaming of the coming plague over the NDP’s governance.

Yesterday, journalist Jason Markusoff published a story in Maclean’s Magazine outlining Mr. Prentice’s recommended approach to making Canada a true energy superpower, as opposed to the blustering would-be powerhouse we saw during the years Stephen Harper was Conservative prime minister.

“Prentice’s arguments are striking not only in their closeness to those of Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but also in how far they diverge from the orthodoxy of today’s Conservative Party, where Michael Chong is the clan’s black sheep for daring to advocate a price on carbon,” Mr. Markusoff wrote.

In the book, Mr. Markusoff observed, Mr. Prentice “gives Notley credit for instituting a carbon tax and suggests he’d helped lay the groundwork for her approach.” (Emphasis added.)

Mr. Prentice also credited the approach taken by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Notley with more success than the “amateurish” bullying favoured by Mr. Harper and his acolyte Mr. Kenney.

These so-called Centrists that everybody insists exists ought to then be confronted with the basic reality that Notley’s NDP is behaving a lot more like Lougheed’s PCs and not the Communist Diktatorship Post Media pundits have cooked up in their feverish imaginations.

Hell, Jim Prentice even answered the open-ended question I was concerned with regarding Indigenous treaty rights: (emphasis mine)

Mr. Markusoff quotes Mr. Prentice’s argument that if Canada won’t commit to serious coastal protection measures as demanded by so many people in British Columbia, “then we shouldn’t be shipping oil at all.” The late Conservative premier also advocated that Alberta help bear the costs of protecting the West Coast and include Canada’s Indigenous peoples as full partners in our national energy policy.

There remains the big question–with Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney slated to win the PC leadership race and steer the party into an iceberg, are the Centrists everybody insists exist going to wake the fuck up and vote for the not-terribly-liberal NDP? Or are they going to continue slamming back that delicious Red Scare whipped together in the dingy basements of Alberta’s gasbag political pundits?


Oh joy! More cults!

Disclaimer: This isn’t a new cult, just a particular cult I hadn’t previously been aware of. As with all ultra-conservative religious sects, content notice for the usual strains of intense and inhumane abuse.

This time it’s Hasidic Judaism. Batya Ungar-Sargon details with stomach-churning precision some of the communal practices that lead to appalling human rights abuses. And the worst part? They’ve found psychiatrists to help in the job.

But two Hasidim married to other people don’t just get a divorce and start a new life together. The community got involved. A rabbi and what’s known as an askan, a person of influence in the Hasidic community, were given Joseph’s “case.” The role of an askan — collectively called askanim — is part politician, part good Samaritan, and part busybody. Together, Joseph’s rabbi and the askan appointed by the community to his case staged an intervention. Joseph says they got involved in every level of his life, in order to prevent him from leaving his family and starting a new one. They took away Joseph’s BlackBerry. The askan started monitoring Joseph’s computer, a mirror image of Joseph’s screen under surveillance at all times. Joseph’s brother-in-law started tracking Joseph’s car, where he went and whom he saw.

Joseph was faced with a choice: surrender to the will of his community’s leaders, or risk public shaming, and worse — losing his children and friends. He capitulated, and promised never to see Dini again. But that was not enough. The askan chose a psychologist to provide Joseph with talk therapy, and then a psychiatrist for medication, who started Joseph on a course of chemical treatment for sex addiction.

It’s some pretty grizzly reading, but if you’re up to it, there’s more on Hasidic Judaism here.


Conservatives prove how anti-terrorist they are by mailing bomb threats

Three Concordia University buildings had to be evacuated this morning because a group called the Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada (or C4) mailed bomb threats to their facilities:

The threatening letter, purportedly from a group that calls itself Council of Conservative Citizens of Canada (C4), complains about Muslim students at Concordia.

“The suspect sent by email that he put some explosive items inside a few places inside the buildings,” said Montreal police Const. Benoit Boisselle.

“Lots of police officers are on site right now. They looked around, they did not find any suspect items,” Boisselle said.

McGill security also informed

CKUT — the campus community radio station at McGill University — was among the media outlets to receive the letter threatening Muslim students at Concordia.

“Since we will [spread] our fight to McGill too, we at C4 decided to give you a heads up of the emergency situation at Concordia University,” said the email, from someone identified as the “C4 co-ordinator.”

An official at CKUT said the radio station had shared the email with McGill University’s campus security.

Remember folks: It’s not terrorism when white people do it.