Whitney Houston: “Just Another Dead Drug Addict”

As you’ve all undoubtedly heard by now, pop star Whitney Houston passed away on Saturday in Beverly Hills, likely as a result of a drug overdose.

When I heard this news, I braced myself for the inevitable. I knew exactly what I was about to be subjected to, because it happens every time a celebrity dies as a result of an ongoing addiction. I was going to hear, over and over and over, variations of “just another dead junkie”, “yeah, I saw it coming”, “she deserved it, brought it on herself”, “hard to feel sympathy for someone like that”, “threw her whole life away”, etc.

Happens every time. [Read more...]

Preserving Choice: Lupron And The Medical Ethics Of Treating Transgender Children

Over the past year or so, there’s been a curious and sudden surge of awareness in the general public consciousness about the issue of transgender children. While their existence is something that has been going on for… well… forever, and the trans community has certainly been aware of the likely fact that gender identity is typically developed very early in life (even if not always precisely articulated and negotiated until later) and have been aware of the issues related to it, it seems that it wasn’t until 2011 that it was all that discussed or considered in the general imagination.

Yet now we’re beginning to find it in the news. The actual, mainstream news. There was Storm, the child in Ontario who was not openly assigned a gender by hir parents, the story of the identical twins Nicole and Jonas in Boston, one a trans girl and the other a cis boy, and the issue of Bobby Montoya, a young trans girl, being included in a Colorado Girl Scout troop. Last week a 10-year-old trans girl from England who has faced significant exploitation, dehumanization and misgendering by the media (I wonder which paper, possibly beginning with the word “Daily” and ending in the word “Mail”, may have been involved?), appeared with trans media activist Paris Lees on BBC Breakfast. I found out about this through the shower of horribly transphobic tweets that followed. And recently there’s been a controversy surrounding a father in Berlin’s efforts to have his 11 year old transgender daughter involuntarily admitted to a psychiatric hospital so as to ensure that she cannot follow through on her wish to prevent a masculinizing puberty (and ideally, in his view, “cure” her and have her somehow become a typical cisgender boy).

There’s a very key thing to remember: prevention. [Read more...]

Secular Addiction Recovery Part Two: Alternatives

I’m rather sick today. Lungs full of gravel again. That’s twice now over the past few months… grrr. I didn’t get sick at all last year while I was all super unemployed and idle, but now that I have a (fake) job and (fake) responsibilities, it’s all WHOOO! VIRUS PARTY IN NATALIE’S MUCOSAE! BRING YR FRIENDZ!

So I’m afraid I’m going to just take it easy and initiate lazy weekend mode a day early.

Anyway, I’d like to revisit the theme of dealing with addiction from a secular standpoint, mostly to remind you all that I am totally keeping this as one of the recurring topics here, and didn’t suddenly change my mind and decide this blog will be exclusively about trans-feminism and ponies. So I just wanted to quickly assemble a little list of alternatives to 12-step for atheist and secular addicts in recovery. [Read more...]

Cloud Atlas and The Lana Wachowski Wiki War

There’s a beautiful, wonderful, intricate novel I love called Cloud Atlas. I’d probably be willing to put it in my top ten novels list, if I had a top ten novels list. Do I have a top ten novels list? Maybe I should have a top ten novels list. I’m going to write one more sentence ending in top ten novels list.

It’s structured as six separate stories, nested inside one another like Matryoshka dolls. Each story hops across genres, and moves forward through time. The first is a 19th(?) century journal of a man sailing in the south Pacific, then an epistolary set of letters sent from a bisexual composer exiled in Belgium in the early 20th century to his ex-boyfriend back in England as he becomes embroiled in a complicated love affair and struggle to complete his own masterpiece, then a sort of mystery thriller in the mid 20th century as an investigative journalist unravels a cover-up of flawed safety precautions in a nuclear power plant, then a comedy of errors in present(ish) day as a publisher finds himself mistakenly imprisoned in a nursing home, then a dystopian ultra-corporate future cyberpunk version of Korea where a cloned slave for a fast food chain develops self-awareness and rebels for freedom, and finally a post-apocalyptic (very post, no one even remembers what happened) distant future Hawaii where industrialized civilization has long since collapsed and the few surviving humans are living tribal, pre-agrarian lives.

The stories move forward, getting cut off at crucial points and revealed as a story being followed by a character in the next section, until the middle of the novel, at which point the last story is told completely through, then we start moving backwards into the completions of each story until finally ending on the one we started with: The Pacific Journal Of Adam Ewing.

It’s absolutely, staggeringly, breathtakingly awesome. You should read it. Now. Right away. Before something I’m about to tell you about happens. It’s written by David Mitchell. [Read more...]

MRA Gets Around

So I managed to get two posts done before crashing last night. That’s not bad, right? It’s not the full three, sure, but now I’m freed up to talk about the absolutely batshit rant I woke up to find circulating around the blogowebz. I’m a little behind on this compared to my FTB colleagues, on account of time zones and the human physiological need for sleep and other inconveniences, but I’ll take a go anyway.

Last night TJ Kinkaid, known more popularly as The Amazing Atheist, went on some kind of incredibly vicious tirade on reddit, deliberately trying to provoke a trigger response in a redditor who’d expressed once having been a victim of rape. This was apparently all motivated by his disagreement with the use of trigger warnings on the internet (almost as stupid and useless as NSFW, amirite!?) and how incredibly angry he was that the dogmatic, intolerant feminazis were trying to “control sexuality” and ruining atheism and blah blah blah we’ve heard this all before. Though usually without the same horrifically violent, degrading, hateful exploitation of rape and trauma to “make a point”. Various wonderful rebuttals to his arguments are currently scattered all over the FTB today, so I’d mostly just like to direct you there. I don’t much feel like retreading ground that has already thoroughly been covered. And landscaped. And set up with a little garden.

Instead I’m going to tell you about something kind of spooky. [Read more...]

The Duality Of Skepticism

For a long while now I’ve been increasingly fascinated by a sort of underlying tension I’ve noticed within skepticism… the community and the movement, in so far as the two can reliably be said to exist, and even the philosophy and set of values. I’ve felt more and more, as I’ve immersed myself deeper into skepticism, that there seem to be two similar but distinct skepticisms, operating in parallel. And I’ve been trying to suss out exactly how to articulate this, what it means, and why we have this tension. Is it as simple as two distinct philosophies that accidentally shared the same word? Is it branching out into different interpretations of a common value? Is it based upon people arriving at a similar set of concepts by differing means and motivations? Am I just imagining it?

And if I’m not imagining it, what can we learn from it, about who we are and where we’re heading? [Read more...]

Conservatives In Baltimore Up In Arms Against Trans Rights Law

I am a bloody idiot.

I spent all day lying around in bed watching Sherlock and eating junk food. It’s now quarter past midnight and I have absolutely nothing scheduled to go up in the morning. I am now going to attempt to crank out three posts before my brain shuts down from sleepy.

-sigh-

First we have this awful business coming out of Baltimore. A new law is being proposed in Baltimore County that would outlaw discrimination in the workplace, housing and public spaces on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Effectively, it’s a “bathroom bill”, the kind of legislation designed to allow trans people to access basic services, rights, opportunities and necessities without our lives being needlessly complicated by the irrational fears of others. It protects us from the instiutionalized discrimination we typically face on a daily or near-daily basis, such as the inability to rent apartments, land a job or go pee in a safe, non-humiliating space. [Read more...]

“Reiki For Trans People”

So I was fucking around on Twitter the other day, as I am often wont to do (@nataliereed84, hint hint hint), and happened to catch a re-tweet from some place called trans-health.com. This site has existed since 2001, but sort of fell under the radar for awhile before recently being purchased by transguys.com and re-launched this past December with some very spiffy, slick, professional-looking, doctor-y science-y medicalish graphics. [Read more...]

The Artifice Of Femininity

There’s a certain scene included in virtually every film, documentary or television series depicting MtF transgenderism. It’s worth at least one shot in the trans documentary drinking game, and is usually framed facing a mirror, looking over her shoulders into a trans woman’s reflection. She’s carefully applying her make-up. Putting on her face. The camera may lovingly detail the painstaking process of assembling her outfit, perhaps putting on a wig or plucking her eyebrows, painting her nails or fastening her bra, pulling her socks over her knees or squeezing her feet into her six-inch stiletto boots. Perhaps a quip gets thrown in about how beauty is pain, and she remarks on  how the work, effort and sacrifice is worth it to be a woman.  Bit by bit we follow along as she constructs her female self to present to the world. She puts on her disguise.

I hate this scene. [Read more...]