How Trump Will Fail Transgender Youth – My Latest Article For The Humanist

Last Wednesday the Trump administration overturned Obama’s transgender student protection directive, which ordered schools to let transgender students use whatever bathrooms and locker rooms match their gender identities. Thirteen states sued the Obama administration soon after the directive was issued in May of last year, and then federal judge Reed O’Connor of Texas issued an injunction to block it. According to the New York Times, President Trump had decided to leave the injunction in place, but then changed his mind and overturned Obama’s directive altogether.

It’s been reported that the Trump administration sees trans-bathroom rights as a state issue, not a federal one, hence the decision. “Schools, communities and families can find—and in many cases have found—solutions that protect all students,” said Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Many conservatives, including Students and Parents for Privacy member Vicki Wilson, applauded the president’s decision to protect girls from sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with young men who they say are “struggling with these issues” (even though, as I’ve mentioned before, trans people are not confused). DeVos says anti-bullying policies will still remain intact, but is that enough to protect trans youth? Studies suggest that anti-LGBTQ legislation does the exact opposite.

A study recently published in JAMA looked at the relationship between legalized same-sex marriage (prior to the 2015 Supreme Court decision) and suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth. “Same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 7 percent reduction in the proportion of all high school students reporting a suicide attempt within the past year. The effect was concentrated among adolescents who were sexual minorities,” the study reports. “As countries around the world consider enabling or restricting same-sex marriage,” the researchers conclude, “we provide evidence that implementing same-sex marriage policies was associated with improved population health.” While the report only focuses on marriage equality and not transgender bathroom policies, this study suggests that government limitations of LGBTQ rights in general further stigmatize LGBTQ youth and could lead more LGBTQ youth to attempt suicide.

Click here to read the rest.

Bi Any Means Podcast #87: Trans Rights, Inciting Incidents, and the PC Lie with Marissa McCool

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My guest for today is Marissa McCool. She’s the co-host of the Inciting Incident podcast, and is the author of several books, including her latest, “The PC Lie: How American Voters Decided I Don’t Matter.” Today we’re going to get to know Ris and all the great stuff she’s doing.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #87: Trans Rights, Inciting Incidents, and the PC Lie with Marissa McCool” on Spreaker.

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Not Another Milo/Free Speech Article!

By OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By OFFICIAL LEWEB PHOTOS [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

CN: Transphobia

I know, I know, you’re all sick and tired of hearing about that little shit Milo Yiannopoulos and his freeze peach. However, let me see if I can break it all down for you.

First let me clear something up: I don’t believe in banning people from speaking at colleges just because they’re controversial.

I’ll explain whether or not this applies to Milo in a second, but first I want to say that when it comes to your normal everyday “controversial” speaker like Christina Hoff Sommers or Dave Rubin, I don’t believe banning them from college campuses is the answer. It only fuels the whole “anti-free speech on campus” hysteria. Instead, I suggest attending their talks, fact checking all they have to say, then tell them why they’re wrong during Q&A. Sure, they might get defensive and mumble something about snowflakes, but it’s not really about getting them to change their minds; it’s more about changing the audience’s mind.

I actually saw a real life example of this not too long ago. I attended the Women in Secularism 4 conference back in September, and one of the speakers was Wendy Kaminer, who spoke about the whole Regressive Left Is Stifling Free Speech On Campus Thing. We all gave her a chance to speak (even though we all had resting bitch face), and then when it was time for Q&A, a few people got behind the mic. One woman said, “I’m a biracial bisexual college student, and you don’t know what I go through, so don’t tell me to get over it!” Kaminer then explained that all she meant was “making things less socially acceptable is better than legislating things.” (There’s some debate about whether or not this works, but for now I’ll just share this ACLU article that talks about it.)

Now here’s why Milo’s case is different.

This past December, Milo spoke at the University of Wisconsin where, at one point, he projected a picture of a transgender student along with her name on the big screen and then openly mocked her. He called her a “tranny,” said she was a man trying to get into a women’s bathroom, and ended the rant by saying, “I’d almost still bang him [sic].”

To me, that’s not a “free exchange of ideas.” That’s just flat-out bullying, and there should be consequences.

The funny part is even the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man says free speech has consequences. According to articles 10 and 11:

10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.

11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law. [Emphasis mine]

Now here’s where things get tricky again: “established by law.”

While doing research for this blog post, I came across a Vice article about the trans student Milo attacked. Near the end of the article, there are two opposing viewpoints about whether or not Milo’s attack falls under the “abuse as defined by law” thing. First is ACLU senior staff attorney Lee Rowland who says:

“. . . when a visiting speaker chooses to use a speech to attack the identity of an audience member, he is the one who bears moral or legal responsibility for those words.” Trying to hold a university liable for that “would be a death knell for controversial speech on campus.”

On the other hand, National Women’s Law Center director of education Neena Chaudhry says:

Kramer could have a legal basis for arguing that the school should have intervened when Yiannopoulos began to target her directly. According to Chaudhry, the question at hand is when free speech crosses over into harassment. “There’s a legal obligation for schools to address such harassment, and that includes when it’s by a third party,” Chaudhry says.

To me it’s a case of harassment, but I know that I’m not a legal expert, so I could totally be wrong. (Maybe I’ll get Andrew Torrez on the Biskeptical Podcast to talk about it.) In the meantime, I suggest to everyone that if Milo’s coming to you town, email the Dean of your local college, remind him/her of Milo’s past, and say, “You want transphobia on your campus? ‘Cause that’s how you get transphobia on your campus!”

Bi Any Means Podcast #86: Autism, Bisexuality, and Fundamentalism with Mason Lynch

My guest for today is Mason Lynch. He’s a computer programmer who lives in Washington state, and he blogs at Casting Large Shadows. He has also contributed to the Patheos blog Removing the Fig Leaf where he wrote about his struggle with sex negativity and body shaming in a conservative Christian homeschooled environment. So today we’re going to get to know Mason and hear about his journey.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #86: Autism, Bisexuality, and Fundamentalism with Mason Lynch” on Spreaker.

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Between Fear and Bravery: Being Queer in a Small Town — My Latest Bitopia Article

Two strangers pass each other in Target. One is an old man pushing a shopping cart, and the other is wearing Revlon candy-apple lip butter, a black t-shirt that says “Proud to be Genderqueer and Bi,” baby blue nail polish, women’s capris, and women’s flip-flops. The two exchange glances. The old man keeps looking, not knowing what to say, while the other looks back and thinks two things: “That’s right, go ahead and say something” and “please don’t stare at me, sir.”

That sums up being a bisexual AMAB genderqueer person living in a small town. I walk the line between being out and proud, and secretly wishing to run back inside the closet. Some days I want to walk down the street yelling: “Ask me about my pronouns!” Other days I just want to say: “Um, I just want to use this gender-neutral bathroom and go home.”

Despite all the recent progress made towards transgender equality in my home state of Maryland — the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 and the more recent transgender birth certificate law — it’s still hard for me to be an out and open queer person. Maryland is considered a blue state, but there are some areas that are quite red. For example, I live in a small town in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. It’s a beautiful town full of art, culture and probably the best coffee shop in the world. And yet it’s still a small town, so when it comes to LGBTQ equality, the general attitude around here is: “I’m okay with it as long as I don’t have to see it.” Hence, the LGBTQ community is almost underground around here.

Click here to read the rest.

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Are LGTBQ Rights Trump’s Next Target? – My Latest Article for The Humanist

During his first weeks in office, President Trump signed several executive orders for an Environmental Protection Agency media blackout, a ban on funding global organizations that either perform or mention abortion, and the now-infamous “Muslim ban.” Several in the LGBTQ community are worried that their rights are next on the list, especially after an anonymous White House official told the news site New Civil Rights Movement that Trump would overturn Obama’s 2014 anti-discrimination protections.

Last week, however, the White House released a statement assuring the public that Trump will keep Obama’s non-discrimination order intact. According to the statement:

President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.

While this may give some a sense of relief, it doesn’t negate the fact that the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) is still on the table.

Click here to read the rest

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Signal Boost: Two Conference Calls and Volunteer Opportunities from the AHA

Just want to mention three things the American Humanist Association is doing right now in the wake of Trump’s inauguration:

1). Tomorrow, January 29th, at 3 pm Eastern, Callie Wright and I will host a conference call on behalf of the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance for LGBTQ people to talk about how we’re feeling and what we’re concerned about now that Trump is our official new president. The number is 712-770-4010, and the access code is 484987.

2). On February 1st at 7:30 pm Eastern, the AHA will host a conference call about the Dakota Access pipeline. Desiree Kane will start the call by giving everyone updates on the situation there, and then there will be a Q and A session. Use the same number and access code as above.

3). The AHA is partnering with NARAL Pro-Choice America, Trans United Fund, and Showing Up for Racial Justice as part of its social justice initiative. If you want to help, contact Sincere Kirabo.

(As a personal aside, shortly after the election, Sincere told me the AHA received countless emails from people wanting to volunteer.)

The Biskeptical Podcast #17: WTF Are Identity Politics?

Just in time for Inauguration Day, today Morgan and I discuss identity politics. What the hell are they, and did they put Trump in the White House. Tune in to find out!

Listen to “The Biskeptical Podcast #17: WTF Are Identity Politics?” on Spreaker.

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Genderqueer Literature Review #1: Alternating Gender Incongruity

As you know, I’ll be speaking at this year’s American Humanist Association conference about what it means to be genderqueer/nonbinary. I’m currently doing research for my talk, and since most of the scientific papers I’m using aren’t available for the general public (or at least not for free), I’ve decided to do a literature review series for my blog summarizing these articles.

The first is a 2012 paper by Laura K. Case and Vilayanur S. Ramachandran published in Medical Hypotheses called “Alternative gender incongruity: A new neuropsychiatric syndrome providing insight into the dynamic plasticity of brain-sex.” In the study, Case and Ramachandran created an online survey posted in a group for people who identify as bigender. The study had a total of 39 participants, although they had to eliminate one participant for having Multiple Personality Disorder, and three for having Dissociative Identity Disorder. This was done, I assume, in order to rule out the possibility of confusing gender fluidity with something completely different.

According to the survey, 14 participants reporting involuntarily “switching” their gender identities daily, 9 said weekly, 6 said monthly, and 4 said several times a year. The study also reveals “21/32 bigender respondents reported experiencing phantom body parts and rated them as moderate in strength (mean = 2.9 on a scale of 1 = weak and 5 = very strong)” (627). Case and Ramachandran reiterate that these cases of gender fluidity and phantom body parts happen involuntarily, so it’s not just “wishful thinking” (628).

In conclusion, Case and Ramachandran theorize that being bigender–or as they refer to it in the report, “alternating gender incongruity (AIG)”–“to be a neuropsychiatric condition; we reject false dichotomies between so-called ‘‘neurological’’ and ‘‘psychological’’ conditions” (629). They also believe that studying bigender people can help us better understand the complexities of gender.

I should point out that, according to Gary Stix of Scientific America points out, Medical Hypotheses is a “controversial journal” that “only adopted a peer-review system in 2010.” Nevertheless, the article sheds a little bit of light on the Big Question that drive skeptics bananas: Is there a scientific cause for non-binary gender identities? We know there’s plenty of evidence suggesting one for binary transgender people, but so far (that I know of) none for non-binaries, hence the reason why so many skeptics scream, “There are only two genders, you special snowflake!” While this particular article doesn’t say either way, it speculates that there might be a scientific basis for non-binary gender identities.

What do you think?

Bi Any Means Podcast #80: Top 10 Bi Any Means Episodes of 2016

Today I’ll be counting down the top 10 Bi Any Means episodes of 2016. These are the most played and downloaded episodes from the past year. I’ll play clips from each episode, and give my thoughts about that particular interview.

Listen to “Bi Any Means Podcast #80: Top 10 Bi Any Means Episodes of 2016” on Spreaker.

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