That Dude Comes Out And Says It

So, a few years back I was wearing my Shirt That Changed The World. My particular version was, of course, the very best version. The logo read, “Transsexual Menace” like all the others, but being from Oregon, the tagline below read, “The Beaver State”. Really, there’s no other Transsexual Menace chapter that could possibly compete, unless there’s a chapter at a university somewhere that uses “Fighting Cocks” as its mascot (no, USC does not count, though being “game” is worth something, sure).

On the particular night I’m discussing, I was walking through Washington D.C. after a hard day’s fighting against violence and for civil rights at a national conference. I can’t even remember which one for certain – and anti-DV conference? An LGBT conference? Let’s let it go. In any case, I walked past the White House & had just crossed 17th, at which point Pennsylvania Avenue politely angled itself to point my ass to the building Trump now occupies. Right there, not two full blocks from the most elite bit of housing in the country, there were maybe twenty people camped out with sleeping bags on the sidewalk. One using a propane stove to heat up a beverage or maybe some soup looked up and upon seeing my t-shirt exclaimed,

That dude’s transsexual!

To which a next-door neighbor replied,

So what? It don’t matter. Just leave it be.*1

Whereupon the first, concerned about being misinterpreted, added,

Yeah, I know, but that dude comes out and says it! *2

In addition to being a pleasant statement on the state of cissexism in at least some communities in the US capital and a validation of Dallas Denny’s thesis that the Transsexual Menace t-shirts were a major turning point in trans/cis interactions, it struck me how such a simple statement of my perspective on the world could have the power to shock, even when absent the statement my perspective would still have been obvious.

That moment came back to me today as I read something Trump said to one of his rallies today:

Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening

Yes, I know: Trump has never hid the fact that he disbelieves reality. Yes, I know that the famous line from Duck Soup has already been used to paraphrase Trump in the past. And yet, there was power to shock in reading that he’d said exactly these words.

Of course, he won’t lose supporters over them. He probably read his audience accurately when he decided that this line would be received positively by the Veterans of Foreign Wars crowd to whom he spoke. Even so, we shouldn’t use the commitment of his followers as an excuse to let the words stand. If one can convince a majority of people that what they see for themselves isn’t true, then that person has constructed an honest-to-goodness, no hyperbole Orwellian state. We aren’t there yet, but the size and intransigence of Trump’s base, even if still a minority today, should galvanize us to fight tooth and nail.


*1: From tone of voice and context, I always interpreted this as a respectful plea to leave the issue of my transsexuality. Neither in the moment nor later did it come across as using the pronoun “it” to describe me in a dehumanizing way. As for the use of the word “dude” to describe me throughout, in that first moment I disliked it, and was about to say something. But after the second person spoke up, I decided that the best thing I could do was simply allow time and space for the first to process the sight of my shirt without any interference from me.

*2: And yes, I do remember all this perfectly verbatim. The moment was quite significant for me as I’d recently been bashed and was startled by the first statement. I paid very close attention to what followed as a way of assessing any potential danger. Fortunately, none existed. Though obviously that’s primarily down to the non-violence and respect of the people I met on that sidewalk, I credit Jessica Xavier with some small part of that: she played a huge leadership role in pro-trans* activism and education in DC in the years leading up to and following my experience.

We’re All Dead

I’m going to be writing about this over and over again, so get used to it, but this is merely the first announcement so it will be short:

Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States is retiring. We already have a court dominated by republican picks. As a “centrist” Kennedy is far to the right of where we were until Clarence Thomas replaced Thurgood Marshall. The center of the court has been pushed and pushed, and now after the Senate republicans stole the seat that was Obama’s to nominate and fill, Trump will nominate his second justice.

Abortion will be illegal in a huge number of states within 3 months of the end of the next SCOTUS term. Just fucking watch.

We. Are. All. Dead.

NO KUDOS FOR TRUMP

Every reporter, anchor or commentator who uses any media platform to suggest Trump should be celebrated for signing this executive order promising, “I’m going to cut way back on the torture of children,” must face serious criticism.

You can start with Dana Bash for offering “Kudos to Trump”. Feel free to send reasonably-worded reactions to CNN.


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Just Listen To Wonkette, Will You: “Fuck his fucking executive order”

I (and probably will) write up an analysis of the Flores v Reno consent decree and how Trump has been using it to justify child ICE-olation and how the current executive order conflicts with the requirements of that settlement, but I don’t have the time to do the job I want to do this afternoon. So for now just listen to Wonkette:

So basically, the Trump administration wants to thumb its nose at Flores and indefinitely detain mommies and daddies seeking asylum and babies over a FUCKING MISDEMEANOR. Indeed the order literally instructs the attorney general to beg the courts to say violating Flores is OK and babies can stay in jail with mommy and daddy for A LOT LONGER, because that’s what the Trump administration is stomping its feet and clapping its hands for. Hey, maybe they can live in concentration camps, like one big happy family, at least until Trump can figure out a way to Finally Solve the whole problem!

Josh Marshall from Talking Points Memo and Wonkette agree that litigation is inevitable, and Trump is going to lose at trial on a bunch of key issues. Probably on appeal, too. But for Trump, that’s a feature. His executive order puts the lie to the idea that child ICEolation was mandated by laws passed by Democrats, but if he can lose quickly enough in court, he’ll be able to rapidly pivot to blaming unaccountable, unelected judges.

Nothing says, “I love America” like hating on the US Constitution’s Article I, Article III, Article VI clause 2, and Eighth Amendment.


 

A Minor Major Victory: Trump Steps Back From Child Isolation Policy

Trump is now planning to end child isolation by permitting children to stay in the same prison as their accompanying parent. This is a huge victory for the children affected while still being entirely inadequate.

Now is not the time to back down. Now is the time to press both the administration and congress. Trump should still be impeached, in my view, for various important reasons from his refusal to safeguard US elections to his blatant violations of two vitally important treaties (one on torture, the other on refugees) to his deeply corrupt campaign. He probably won’t be impeached until Mueller releases more info because impeachment is a political exercise and no matter how definitive is the evidence that congress can see, if they can’t yet show it to the public I doubt it will count as “admissible evidence” (metaphorically, if you understand my meaning here) for congress’ impeachment efforts.

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It has happened

I’ve been analyzing and critiquing conceptions of free expression since the 1990s when anti-domestic violence shelters started asking me about how it might be possible to construct policies that support trans* participants in shelter programs without punishing non-trans* participants for the everyday anti-trans hostility that most weren’t equipped to recognize. I’ve done it from multiple perspectives – activist, ethicist, and law student – and from a US focus to a Canadian focus to an international comparative frame. So I’ve seen this one coming for a while now. We’ve been close before, but now we’re there. Not just an enemy of the state, but the biggest, most threatening enemy of the state is freedom of expression, especially expression that is distributed through the power of the press.

Donald John Trump tweeted this this morning:

So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have “begged” for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!

Expect the US based Peterson and Harris fanboys and other general Freeze Peaches to celebrate or ignore this statement. For people that care about our rights and freedoms, however, this is the second worst statement the president could issue. For now, he identifies “our country’s biggest enemy” in the context of a call for mockery. The step from there to identifying “our country’s biggest enemy” in the context of a call for punishment is so dangerously small, I think few will recognize it when it happens.

 

Trump is Killing to Save Morality

You could just go read Wonkette who covers this well, but if you like, you can get a taste here:

Abortion is already illegal in Kenya, but Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK), the organization that had previously been providing low-cost contraception to these women, is supported by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which has refused to comply with Trump’s demands and stands to lose $100 million in funding as a result. Shockingly, no anti-choice organizations have stepped up to help provide that funding or those services.

Long story short, because these women are now unable to access contraception, they are getting pregnant with babies they cannot afford to have and are turning to illegal and dangerous abortion methods instead.

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Might I Remind You of a Couple Things?

In light of the attacks on Syria, I thought it might be good to remind the community of a couple things.

The first is one you’re less likely to remember, though it is important: Two years ago, during the campaign, Trump was asked by Mika Brzezinski on the MSNBC show Morning Joe about the source of his foreign policy advice, given that there were so many difficult issues active in 2016.

He replied:

I listen to myself and speaking with myself, number one, because I have very good brain and have said a lot of things, so I would listen to myself. … My primary consultant is Myself.”

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