Siobhan in The Establishment: Whisper Networks Are Flawed — But Not Because Of How They Affect The Accused

I would get my introduction to something called the “whisper network” on a crisp winter afternoon in 2014. The pub was a dive, orange hues cast over white and burgundy upholstery, a bar riddled with battlescars of patrons past, a jukebox collecting dust underneath a suspended speaker. I saw myself in the other patrons; women with the wild and vibrant hair I desperately wanted, hard femmes in glistening leather, mascs dressed so sharply they could cut glass with their suits. It smelled of wood and whiskey, still a reprieve from the biting cold.

I was sponsored by a woman in the community. “Munches,” as kinksters have come to call these events, are social gatherings meant to help you network in a safe, non-sexual environment as you enter the alternative underground world — the kind 50 Shades authors can only imagine through frosted glass. But my sponsor had soon abandoned me to navigate strange waters on my own, so I did what any good introvert with self-esteem issues would do: nursed a coke and ice while brooding on an empty couch, quietly chiding myself for thinking I could summon the courage to strike conversations with total strangers.

Read more in The Establishment here.

-Shiv

Siobhan in VICE: The Strange Saga of Arrested Inauguration Protesters’ Seized Property

It was a crisp winter morning when Shay Horse set out to cover the protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration. The Brooklyn-based freelance photojournalist was one of hundreds of reporters who traveled to Washington, DC, to cover a demonstration that would set the tone for Trump’s presidency: defiant chants, smashed windows, and hundreds of people, including Horse, surrounded by police.

The segment of the protest Horse followed gathered around 10 AM at Logan Circle, a couple miles northwest of the Capitol. The energetic, enthusiastic crowd attracted the attention of journalists as they slowly marched south. They didn’t get far—at the corner of L and 12th streets, the march was surrounded by police, who subjected Horse and the rest of the group to clouds of pepper spray, dozens of “stingball” grenades, and strikes from batons. According to a lawsuit later filed by the ACLU, the protesters, legal observers, and journalists were hemmed in so closely by cops they didn’t have room to sit down; officers spent most of the day arresting people, taunting them in response to requests for food, water, and toilets. When they got around to Horse, he was handcuffed so tightly he lost feeling in two fingers.


Read more in VICE.

-Shiv

Siobhan in The Establishment: How the Media’s Bullshit ‘Both Sides’ Punditry Harms Trans People

On May 15, 2017, a Medium user published an article to her personal handle arguing — among many other things — that the presence of trans women in women’s spaces constituted an act of aggression, and that the vocabulary proposed by trans men to describe themselves “erased” cis women.

Despite the rather extreme premises assumed in the piece, a feminist publication by the name of Athena Talks decided to pick it up shortly after it was posted, resulting in a second round of sharing among feminist outlets.

I am, unfortunately, rather used to having my mere presence likened to violence. Calling myself a feminist as a trans woman has meant that I’ve had to share spaces with people who argue, in all seriousness, that my health care is a conspiracy theory to eradicate gay people.

What I haven’t acclimatized to is the practice of abandoning any commitment to discovery or knowledge, something that seems distressingly widespread in media practices today. Because what Athena Talks did next also follows a well-established pattern: They published another article that was critical of the first piece, without any acknowledgement that the arguments previously presented were both based on inaccuracies and illogically constructed.


[Read more…]

When Transphobia Trumps Statistics

As a transgender Canadian, I’ve been hawkishly poring over the many debates on Bill C-16, a human rights bill that would add “public incitements of violence,” “willful promotion of hatred,” and “advocacy for genocide” as activities outside of “acceptable speech” concerning gender identity and expression. It would also add bias against a victim’s gender identity or expression as an aggravating circumstance for criminal sentencing. Any business under federal jurisdiction — including the postal service, telecommunications, banks, and airlines — that discriminates against an employee or hiree on the basis of their gender identity and expression would be penalized.

In short, Bill C-16 a good step for trans equality in Canada, strengthening our legal protections. And the data shows they’re much needed.

In 2011, the National Task Force for Transgender Equality published one of the most comprehensive reviews of discrimination against trans folk that finally paints our picture in detail. A brief snapshot: 90% of us experienced workplace harassment or discrimination. 26% of us lost our jobs and careers when we came out. 19% of us have been homeless, and another 29% have been turned away at homeless shelters specifically because of our identity. 19% of us had been refused service in health care, and 57% of us experienced some kind of significant family rejection. Those statistics were based on the responses from trans people of every race; it should be noted that every single outcome is worse if you’re also black and trans.

These are the facts, and though they are nothing new for trans people, they demonstrate that Bill C-16 is necessary to explicitly protect Canadian trans people who have largely been relegated to patchwork federal case law and legal gray areas until very recently.

When the results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS) were released, I naively hoped these statistics would offer a chance for those who didn’t know them to get a big-picture view of some of our crises, amd that the NTDS would enter the conversation on public policy.

After all, legislators are passing policy for everyone, so they’d want the full picture, right?

Apparently not. The necessity of a human rights bill like C-16 ought to be self-evident given the outcomes of the trans community, simply because of the appalling frequency and degree of discrimination that trans Canadians continue to face — but you do need to be aware of that fact first for it to be obvious. The law has been passed in Parliament but awaits further voting in the Senate, and during these debates, the data is seldom, if ever, mentioned.

Read more on The Establishment.