With Friends of Bill — My Latest for Splice Today

I went to AA back in October because an addiction specialist doctor, whom I’ll call Dr. James, told me to. Previously I vowed to avoid AA and only do SMART Recovery because 1) SMART Recovery is science-based and 2) there’s no need for a supernatural higher power in SMART. Back in September, however, I had another binge drinking relapse, and my therapist said Dr. James would help me get stronger. In some ways he has; he put me on some new meds that work a lot better than previous ones. However, Dr. James insists that the Twelve Step approach is the most effective way to maintain sobriety, even though I told him I was in SMART Recovery. Finally worn down, I starting attending the first daily AA group I could find that met at a reasonable time.

I got more out of being among fellow recovering alcoholics than from the steps. The first step itself is easy enough; no problem admitting that I can’t stop drinking once I start. From there, though, the Steps get dodgy: turn everything over to God, write down all your moral flaws, confess your sins, and ask God to make you a better person. As an ex-Christian, the Twelve Steps sounds like a watered-down Gospel of Jesus.

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I’m Sick Of Debating My Humanity As A Trans Person — My latest on Medium

I wrote this a couple of months ago so some things are a little out-of-date. The overall message, however, remains the same.

When I came out as a non-binary trans person in 2014, I knew I had a lot of explaining to do. I didn’t mind, though; in fact, I immediately started speaking out about the subject as soon as I finally embraced my gender identity. Since then I’ve had a lot of great opportunities to explain what it means to be non-binary and trans in such outlets as Everyday FeminismSplice TodayRewire.News, and the 2017 American Humanist Association conference. Other than the occasional troll sliding into my Twitter mentions just to say, “You’re a dude in a dress,” I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from both cis people who have since come to understand more about trans and non-binary issues, and fellow trans and non-binary people who appreciate me saying the things they’re too afraid to say.

Lately, however, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s all worth it. No matter how many articles I write or talks that I do or podcasts I’ve been on, transphobia is still the best seller in the marketplace of ideas. On the right are traditional conservatives like Ben Shapiro who argue that trans women are still men because of chromosomes. On the left are radical feminists (or radfems for short) like Meghan Murphy who not only echo Shapiro’s talking point, but also think trans women are men trying to infiltrate women-only spaces in order to assault women. In the center are members of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web — the Popular Kids’ Lunch Table of public intellectuals — who are more concerned about Murphy’s recent Twitter ban than her hateful rhetoric, who think trans activism is inherently homophobic (which doesn’t make any sense), and who spread lies and misinformation about gender-affirming therapy. If there’s one thing that unites people from all four corners of the political compass, it’s hatred of trans people.

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We Can’t Separate Identity From Politics — My Latest on Medium

Countless moderate liberals have called upon the Democratic party to ditch “identity politics” in the wake of Trump. “We need a post-identity liberalism,” Columbia University professor Mark Lilla wrote back in 2016. “Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them.” According to Lilla, Audre Lorde’s message of recognizing and celebrating our differences is detrimental to American politics, so instead of focusing on issues that uniquely affect different groups of people, liberals need to unite on issues that affect all Americans.

Unfortunately, to quote Lorde again, “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” In other words, there is no way to separate identity from politics. Every political issue affects different groups in different ways, so in a way all politics are identity politics.

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The Red and the Black — My Latest for Splice Today

It was only a matter of time before cops would kill an unarmed black person here in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region. On September 15, 2018, a Greensboro, MD police officer killed 19-year-old Anton Black after chasing the young man for allegedly trying to abduct a 12-year-old boy (even though Black and the 12-year-old were related and there was no abduction attempt). The officer tazed Black, pinned him to the ground, and Black became unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at Easton Memorial Hospital moments later.

Since then, Black’s friends and family have demanded answers from the Greensboro Police Department. The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun have written about it. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan spoke last week to demand answers. A video of the incident between Black and the police officer was recently released, and Black’s family currently wants the Department of Justice to conduct a civil rights investigation.

Meanwhile it’s quiet on the Eastern Shore. The local newspaper has covered the story numerous times, but flip open to the editorial page and not a peep. No Eastern Shore citizens demanding answers, other than the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black. No editorials from the Star Democrat staff. Once again, Eastern Shore residents cover their eyes.

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The Need for Sober LGBTQ Spaces — My Latest on Medium

This article was originally written for INTO magazine. The site shut down shortly before this article’s publication. I have permission to share it elsewhere.

Kam Burns moved to New York City four months after he quit drinking. He hoped to meet other LGBTQ people in the city, but couldn’t find a social event that didn’t involve alcohol.

“Even pickup sports in the park usually end at a bar,” Burns says. “Of course you can choose not to drink at those places, but it always ends up being a thing.”

Burns says he doesn’t like to have to explain why he’s sober to strangers.

“The reason is very complicated,” Burns says, “and it’s also not fun being the only sober person around people who are a couple drinks in, especially because I’m very anxious.”

Gay bars and clubs have traditionally been one of the only places where queer and trans people can meet, socialize, and hook up. However, for those LGBTQ people who don’t drink for a wide variety of reasons, there are very few sober LGBTQ spaces available.

Read the rest here.

Panic in Detroit — My Latest for Splice Today

Panic and healing dominated my time at the Creating Change conference in Detroit last week. The panic began before arriving in Detroit. Not only was it my first time flying, but thanks to an ice storm in Detroit the night before, my 9:50 a.m. flight was pushed back for four  hours. While waiting I listened to Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports” on repeat hoping it would ease the anxiety. Instead, it made me feel like the “This is fine” dog.

It didn’t help that prior to my trip, INTO magazine shut down, my 12-year-old corgi mix was diagnosed with bone cancer, my friend Deborah from the Beyond the Trailer Park podcast died, and I was going through another existentialist crisis of trying to find my unique writing voice. The luggage wasn’t just in my suitcase.

The checked luggage and I made it safely to Detroit. No more panic, right? That’s what I thought before having a panic attack trying to find my Lyft driver. The details get fuzzy here. I remember running around outside the airport trying to find the driver, sweating, trying to breathe while hauling around heavy luggage, and screaming in a parking garage.

Read the rest here.

Understanding the #CancelPinkWashing Controversy — My Latest For Splice Today

Maybe it’s just my anxiety, but I’m worried that I didn’t make myself clear with this one. I support #CancelPinkwashing and BDS. Maybe this excerpt will clear things up:

Despite what The New York Times’ Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens might write, saying that Palestine has a right to self-determination doesn’t mean Israel doesn’t have the same right. Being against both Israel’s political policies and Hamas is not a contradiction. Even the pro-Israel organization J Street is vocally against the West Bank Occupation, and calls on the US government to denounce the illegal settlements.

I do agree with Weiss and Stephens that some criticisms of Israel are full of anti-semitic dog whistles. For example, there was the 2017 Chicago Dyke March where a gay pride flag with a Star of David on it was considered explicitly anti-Palestinian. Then there’s the recently elected Ilhan Omar who once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world,” which makes me think of the Happy Merchant figure plotting for world domination. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd once compared the actions of the Israeli government to those of Nazi Germany.

You can read the rest here.

Maybe Trump is Good for Something — My Latest for Splice Today

Don’t let the title fool you, friends. I have NOT taken the red pill, nor will I ever. Maybe this excerpt will clear things up:

This hypothetical situation reminds me of something I heard Slavoj Zizek once say about bosses. “If you have a boss who is up there,” he said, “the old fashioned boss shouting at you, exerting full brutal authority—in a way it’s much easier to rebel than to have a friendly boss who embraces you or [asks], ‘How was last night with your girlfriend,’ blah blah, all that buddy stuff.” In other words, friendly authority figures make one more accustomed to the status quo, therefore actual progress is nearly impossible. Perhaps Zizek is right. After all, liberals hardly said a word about Obama’s drone warfare. Why should they? At least Obama wasn’t a neoconservative like George W. Bush, who hoped blowing up the Middle East would trigger the Second Coming of Christ. Things were finally stable under Obama.

Maybe Trump’s good for something. The 2016 election inspired countless individuals on both the Left and the Right to stand up and say, “Oh hell no!” Trump inadvertently spearheaded the Women’s March movement which, despite currently being in limbo because of alleged anti-semitism, still made a positive impact on American politics. Trump’s blatant racism and xenophobia finally convinced people that America is not a post-racial society. Would any of this have happened if voters picked a friendly authoritarian in 2016?

Now that that’s out of the way, read the rest here.

How Health Care Providers Can Better Serve Non-Binary Patients — My Latest for INTO

When Nessi Hunter Alice was 13, they started experiencing nausea every time they ate, sometimes even to the point of throwing up. Nobody took Alice seriously, though, because they’re a non-binary person who was assigned female at birth. Health care providers wrote Alice off as hysterical.

“I went to an older male doctor for a while for that and other concerns,” Alice tells INTO, “and he basically refused to treat me for anything because I was delusional and he didn’t want to treat me until I got psychological stuff worked out. And he called me delusional partially because I identified myself as non-binary.”

It wasn’t until Alice found a doctor who was non-binary supportive that Alice was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is when stomach acid gets into the esophagus, and got the treatment they needed.

Sadly, Alice’s experience is not an anomaly. “Jasper” (who prefers to be anonymous) tells INTO that they went into a psychologist’s office for a disability evaluation, but left the appointment in tears when the psychologist refused to use their pronouns and asked invasive questions about Jasper’s genitals. Others have health care providers that say they’re supportive, but their actions show otherwise. Jay, for example, was misgendered by their doctor in two referral letters to a gender identity clinic.

Read the rest here.

Bring the Light — My Latest for Splice Today

When I came out to my mother as an atheist, her first response was, “Does this mean I can save money by not buying you Christmas presents?” She was being tongue-in-cheek, but there are those who honestly believe atheists have no business observing Christmas or any holiday in December. We’re used to hearing conservative Christians say Christmas belongs to them only, but surprisingly even some staunch atheists, like Tom Flynn of the Council for Secular Humanism, say Christmas is explicitly a religious holiday. I love the holidays because they remind us that while things look dark right now, a brighter future is ahead.

Read the rest here.