Kitties and Puppies

Pile of Cute

I’m still dragging after this weekend, so instead of any actual content, please enjoy this picture of lazy critters. Maybe I’d be better rested if there was room for me on that couch.

Also, shout out to Erin Lynn Jeffreys Hodges, who is awesome!



Women’s March on Washington

I attended the Women’s March yesterday with one of my friends, and it was absolutely amazing. We knew it was going to be big when we got to the New Carrollton Metro station and there were people *everywhere.*  Signs galore, pink pussy hats as far as the eye could see.  Our train was jam-packed with people headed to the march, and we had some chants going on the train.  The next few stations we passed were also filled with people.

Estimates I’ve heard put the march at 500,000 making it the largest protest ever held in DC. Including sister marches around the country and around the world, it numbered in the millions.

The mood was hopeful and determined. There was a lot of cheering, and a lot of laughter.

I have a lot more hope now than I had throughout November and December.  This can’t be a singular thing. It has to be a beginning. We have to yell and scream and fight as loud and as hard as we can, and not give up.

The double standard of not taking women seriously

In the Washington Post, a few days ago, Petula Dvorak wrote that next week’s Women’s March on Washington won’t be taken seriously unless we step away from “well-intentioned, she-power frippery” like the pink pussycat hats.

While she has a point that we need to focus on the serious issues, she misses the fact that we can be as serious as she wants and still not be taken seriously, simply because we’re women. Hillary Clinton was nothing if not serious during her campaign. She put out reams of policy documents, and she discussed the issues in nuanced detail. The whole time, she was criticized for not being warm enough or likable enough. There is no appropriate level of seriousness where a woman will be both likable and respected. It just doesn’t exist.

Women aren’t demeaned and brushed aside because of pink hats or signs with glitter.  Things that are pink and sparkly are viewed as trivial and infantile *because* they’re associated with women. Look at the snarky comments about Teen Vogue and the absolute shock that people who write about fashion and celebrities for teenage girls might also know a thing or two about politics.

Also, matching hats have been kind of a thing in the last election. Funny, I don’t recall anyone criticizing Trump supporters’ “Make America Great Again” baseball caps as insufficiently serious, even though no one could point to what they meant by great or what period of greatness they wanted to go back to. There’s nothing inherently more serious about a red baseball cap than a pink knit hat with ears, except that one is coded as masculine and one is coded as feminine.

For that matter, Dvorak alludes to the fact that feminists will be criticized no matter what we do or don’t do when she mentions bra burning.

Bra burning. That’s the trope that folks have been using to dismiss feminists for nearly half a century.

In fact, no bra was burned at Miss America protests in 1968 and 1969. Feminists threw false eyelashes, mops, pans, Playboy magazines, girdles, bras and other symbolic “instruments of female torture” into a trash can. But the Atlantic City municipal code didn’t allow them to set it on fire.

Yet because the idea of a burning bra was so lurid, it eclipsed the fact that in the 1960s, women couldn’t get a credit card without a husband’s signature, couldn’t serve on juries in all 50 states, weren’t allowed to study at some of the nation’s Ivy League schools, couldn’t get a prescription for birth control pills if they were unmarried, were paid 59 cents for every dollar that men earned and could easily be fired from a job if they got pregnant. Among other outrages.

Because of this stunt, she argues, feminists were painted as foolish and extreme, and attention was drawn away from the serious issues they were fighting to address. But, as she points out, no bras were ever burned. That didn’t stop bra-burning from being a go-to insult against feminists. If anti-feminists need excuses to dismiss us, and the impossible double standards of sexism don’t provide them with one, they’ll just make one up.



That doesn’t sound like love to me

Trigger warning for discussion of homophobia and suicide.

Hey, look, it’s another iteration of the old “love the sinner, hate the sin” argument, this time from HGTV’s Chip Gaines. Apparently there was a dust-up about his and his wife’s attendance at an anti-LGBT church, and he took to the interwebs to blog about, you guessed it, “loving disagreement.”  And Noah Michaelson isn’t having it. 

People disagree about whether New England clam chowder is better than Manhattan clam chowder or what to name their new iguana or whether or not Kylie Jenner has really gotten butt implants. But a church or an individual or a government telling a queer person that they are a sinner or that they don’t deserve to get married or that queer people should be treated any less or any differently than non-queer people merely because of who they are is not “lovingly disagreeing.”

“But, but…we don’t want to hurt gay people,” the disagreer might say. Unfortunately, this is one of the many, many cases where intent is not magic. Here’s a little secret. The rate of suicide attempts is four times greater for LGB youth than for straight youth.  Half of trans youth have seriously considered suicide, and a quarter have made an attempt. One of the biggest risk factors for LGBT youth suicide is family rejection. Youth who come from highly rejecting families, those who “disagree” with their orientation or gender status and think it’s sinful, are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide. (All stats from The Trevor Project.)

You may not want to hurt LGBT people with your “loving disagreement,” but you are. You’re killing them. If they’re your kids, or you’re an important mentor they look up to, you may be literally driving them to suicide. Even if you aren’t close enough to an LGBT kid to have that direct an impact on them, by “disagreeing” with who they are, you close off a potential avenue of support. They know you’re yet another person who isn’t safe to come out to. You lose the chance to provide hope and encouragement to a kid who may be struggling.

This might seem harsh, but Children. Are. Dying. If you aren’t doing anything to stop that, and are actively contributing to the problem, don’t talk about how loving you are.

When Criticizing Trump, Let’s Stick to Behavior

This is an excellent post on why armchair-diagnosing Donald Trump with a mental illness is not helpful. I particularly appreciate the point that drumming up fear of the other is the *last* thing we want to do when Nazis have already been emboldened and are coming out of the woodwork.

When we’re operating in a society where literal fucking Nazis are feeling emboldened, legitimizing fear against another “other” only makes them stronger. Attempting to weaponize mental illness stigma against Trump is a failing strategy. “He’s crazy” isn’t going to be the silver bullet that will finally bring him down; it’s more likely to ricochet and kill some innocent bystander.

All the behaviors that lead people to think Trump is mentally ill are reprehensible on their own. They’d be reprehensible whether they were related to mental illness or not. As dyrbert points out, if they weren’t enough to sway people away from Trump on their own, they’re not going to be enough when linked to mental illness.

The “Trump is crazy” spiel reminds me a lot of the “Emperor Has No Balls” statues, depicting Trump as fatter than he really is, with a small penis and no testicles. Yes, I’ll admit I got a vindictive kick out of public mockery of Trump, whose inflated ego knows no bounds. But it didn’t really affect him. It just made fun of fat people and people with small penises, neither of which have anything to do with how qualified someone is to run the country.

It’s not like there isn’t enough terrible behavior there to criticize.  The dude  is a misogynistic bully whose comments supporting Russia over US intelligence are borderline treasonous. (I’d argue that asking Russia to hack Clinton in the first place was legitimately treasonous, even if he was joking.) He’s an unprecedented threat to US democracy.  But when we talk about his balls or his mental health status, we get sidetracked into areas that not only add nothing substantive to the conversation, but increase stigma toward whatever group is being made fun of.

The only discussion of mental health that relates to Trump that I’ve seen as helpful is less about his sanity and more about his effects on ours: how to deal with gaslighting, coping strategies from folks with mental illnesses, or the ways electing an admitted sexual predator re-traumatizes sexual assault victims. Likewise, a discussion of narcissistic *behaviors* and strategies for addressing them could be worthwhile. Discussion of whether Trump actually has NPD is only appropriate for him and a mental health professional actually treating him. (And if he does have a therapist, heaven help that poor soul.)

The key thing here is that, whether Trump is mentally healthy or mentally ill, there is no mental illness that forces you to assault women, stiff your contractors, or torpedo a company’s stock with a tweet. Nor does the size of his belly or his penis have any relationship to his being in Vladimir Putin’s pocket.

Sweet, blessed apathy

It’s January, New Year’s resolution season, and a number of my coworkers have a diet pool going, with weekly weigh ins and a cash prize for the winner.  I’m moving to another office on Monday, and you would not believe the whining when a coworker brought in goodbye donuts.

The best thing about this for me was the realization that I. Do. Not. Care. I don’t feel like maybe I should join in, or wonder what people will think about the lunch I’m eating.  It just rolled past like any other workplace chatter that I wasn’t interested in.  That all by itself is kind of freeing.

If You Celebrate When People Are Denied Medical Care, You’re Doing Christianity Wrong

Trigger Warnings for transphobia and denial of medical care

I spent a lot of time in church as a teen and young adult, and I was pretty sure bearing false witness was a sin.  Apparently not when it’s against trans people, or government organizations advocating the controversial position that trans people deserve medical care. The Gospel Coalition put out an article celebrating an injunction against a  “regulation that would have forced doctors to perform gender transition procedures—including on children—even when it violated their conscience.”

Except, that’s not remotely what the regulation does. To start with, the author spends a lot of time talking about how horrible and dangerous it is to perform gender transition procedures on children, as if that’s a thing that’s actually done. They completely neglect to mention that the WPATH standards of care don’t allow gender transition surgery on minors. Up until the latest version, they didn’t even allow hormone blockers to delay the onset of puberty. But the Gospel Coalition would have you believe that doctors are performing genital surgery on children willy-nilly.

In the rare cases where this surgery is performed on children, it’s not due to gender dysphoria, but to intersex conditions. Genital surgery for intersex conditions is a whole other can of worms (particularly if performed cosmetically on infants), but suffice it to say that some intersex conditions are harmful and surgery is medically necessary in those cases. Denying treatment to those kids because their existence as intersex threatens your binary view of gender is sadistic.

The second crucial point is that gender confirmation surgery is a very specific specialty. No one is performing these surgeries without having deliberately chosen to go into that field, any more than random general practitioners are asked to perform brain surgery.

So, the doctors who are worried about being “forced” to participate in transition care are *not* the ones performing gender confirmation surgery. No, these are doctors who don’t want to participate in any part of a trans person’s care because they object to their being trans. Apparently, refusing to treat a broken arm because you disapprove of someone’s gender identity is a protected religious freedom.

There may also be doctors who perform procedures that could be included in transition, but that don’t want to do them for trans people. For example, a doctor who does breast augmentation and reduction might balk at surgery to enhance a trans woman’s breasts, or reduce the breasts of a trans man.

But, if TGC provided that example, it wouldn’t come with the same assumption of “protecting children” and “avoiding medically unnecessary surgeries” as trumped-up fantasies about gender confirmation surgery on children.  And it might bring up inconvenient questions, like how a doctor who’s happy to perform medically unnecessary procedures on any cis woman who wants a D-cup suddenly has grave medical concerns if that woman is trans.

Another major point is that both this article and the lawsuit conflate religious objections and medical objections. There is no language whatsoever in the regulation stating that a doctor is expected to go against their own medical judgment or perform procedures where they believe the risks outweigh the benefits. And yet, the lawsuit states “Under the new Regulation, a doctor must perform these procedures even when they are contrary to the doctor’s medical judgment and could result in significant, long-term medical harm.” I can only assume that at least some of the doctors represented were proctologists, considering that they appeared to have pulled that argument out of someone’s ass.

But probably the worst thing that this ignores is that healthcare discrimination against trans people is rampant:

According to a 2010 report by Lambda Legal, 70 percent of transgender respondents had experienced serious discrimination in health care. And a 2011 study of more than 6,000 transgender people by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force found that 19 percent said they had been denied health care because of their transgender or gender nonconforming status. Many of them avoided the doctor’s office altogether: 28 percent had postponed getting health care when they were ill or injured, and 33 percent had delayed or not sought preventive care because of their past experiences with doctors.

Cosmopolitan has a Twitter roundup from the hashtag #transhealthfail – things like insisting on using a patient’s legal name and thus dangerously outing them as trans to the entire waiting room, or asking invasive questions about genitals to a patient who’s there for a sore throat.

Trans people *die* because medical personnel don’t want to treat them. In one case, EMS allegedly allowed a trans woman to die by refusing to treat her diabetic emergency. This was after a hospital didn’t perform the tests that would’ve found the diabetes in the first place.

This is not about trans people wanting to force unwilling doctors to perform gender confirmation surgery. Seriously?  You think people who are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a major surgery that will affect everything from their emotional health to their sex life wants anybody working on their private parts who isn’t fully committed to doing the procedure properly and taking good care of them?  Come on now.  This is about trans people wanting to receive actual medical care when they’re sick or injured, without doctors having the legal right to refuse care *because* they’re trans. And the Gospel Coalition should be ashamed of pretending that it’s anything else.