The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

January 3, 2017

http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2016/11/06I went dark on November 9 after enough people voted for an eminently unqualified, racist, misogynist, homo-hating, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, narcissistic, criminal con man and Putin puppet to give him the majority of votes in the electoral college and force those of us who are not white, straight, christianists to live in fear for our lives.

The election results were disappointing, horrifying, nauseating, frightening, outrageous, and disgusting. The one thing they were not, at least for me, is shocking or surprising. I suspect the more marginalized someone is by our society, the less surprised they were by the vote.

Make no mistake, if you voted for Trump, if you stayed home and sat the election out as a protest (or just because you couldn’t be bothered), if you voted for Stein or Johnson or anyone else but Clinton, your actions contributed to people suffering and dying because they are queer, trans, POC, or just can’t afford health care. (No Clinton would not have been worse, she wouldn’t have hired billionaire white supremacists with no experience but plenty of conflicts of interest to run the government or worked to destroy any progress made in reproductive health care and LGBT/POC civil rights or left many of us trying to figure out whether we should flee the country.)

White nationalists emboldened by Trump are thirsting for blood. That blood might be mine, or your gay cousin’s, or the Sikh gentleman’s behind the motel counter whose mistaken for a Muslim, or the African-American boy’s playing in the park, or your neighbor’s who wears a hijab, or your trans co-worker’s. (You didn’t know she was trans? But you insist she should use the men’s restroom?)

As far as I’m concerned, every single person who voted for Trump is a racist bigot. You can say whatever you want about how you voted for him to protect your guns (Clinton wasn’t going to take them away). Or because the economy is in the toilet (it was the best it’s been since Bush destroyed it in ’08). Or because he’ll bring back manufacturing jobs (he can’t, automation has already replaced those jobs even if the factories move back to the U.S. and those jobs he claimed — at the cost of millions from taxpayer– to bring back either were staying anyway or will be used to create further automation). Or because he’s a successful business man (he’s lost more money than he ever made, routinely rips off people he hires as contractors, paid millions to get out of fraud charges against him, etc. etc.). Or because Clinton did whatever (outrageous misogynistic fabricated conspiracy theory) you’ve cited as an excuse not to vote for her. Or whatever other lies he told that you were gullible enough to believe. I do not care what “reason” you give to salve your conscious, you voted for toxic sludge and should be judged by what you did, not what you say.

I’m so very tired of inane statements about the majority of people voting with genuinely good intentions for what they honestly believe is their country’s best interest. The majority of those voters don’t give one rat’s ass for the best interest of the U.S. They deliberately voted to prioritize their straight white cis privileges over basic civil rights for POC, LGBTQ folk, and those who don’t worship their particular brand of consumerist christianism. They didn’t care about the consequences as long as they got what they wanted (and they will be genuinely shocked, blaming anyone but themselves and the man they elected, when they lose their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, and/or their savings and retirement as a result).

I find it more and more difficult to believe that even a small majority of people are genuinely good when so many of them are willing to deprive others of health care, a safe place to live, enough food to eat, a decent education, the ability to earn a fair wage for their work, agency/autonomy over their own bodies, a partner in life, etc.

Trump voters will eventually pay the price for their hubris. Racism is one of the ways the ruling class one percent keeps the poor white working class in line, enabling the rich to turn them into wage slaves while raping the planet, destroying our water supply and making the air impossible to breathe. No matter how bad it gets, at least those wage slaves can believe they’re superior because they’re white, straight christianists.

Racism has always been the primary motivation behind the white nationalism white evangelical movement and remains at its core. The GOP deliberately used the evangelicals to create the noxious atmosphere that allowed Trump to ascend to the White House by pandering to racist, xenophobic, fears of privilege loss.

Wherever you claim to stand on civil rights for women, POC, immigrants, or those who are LGBT, if you facilitated Trump’s election with your vote (or lack of) you are condoning both the violent racist/xenophobic attacks of his followers and your own exploitation at the hands of their billionaire masters. The overt anti-Semites in Germany didn’t enable the Holocaust as much as all those middle class Germans who wanted to Make Germany Great Again and who were willing to overlook their missing neighbors, the broken glass in the streets, the stench from the ovens, and the racist, xenophobic rhetoric. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

This naziism of America is the result of your sharing fake news, giving racists the benefit of the doubt, avoiding political discussions with family members who actively support venal politicians, staying silent in the face of misogyny.

Now what are you going to do about it (whether you enabled Trump’s election or not)? Will you sit silently with your head down and ignore the slaughter or will you step up to stop the colleague making racist jokes, refuse to allow your relatives to justify their Trump votes, call out the guy yelling at the Mexican-American on the bus to “go home,” video record the white cops harassing an African-American for minding their own business, stand in front of the woman threatened for wearing an expression of her faith? Will you donate and volunteer for organizations fighting for civil rights and reproductive health care? Will you call your Congressional representatives, daily if necessary, to let them know you won’t tolerate evisceration of the Office of Congressional Ethics, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc? Will you recruit, support, campaign for, and finance candidates for public office who believe in civil rights for all?

Or will you proceed with your daily life while everything that made America great is destroyed?

I know where I stand. I may have been silent online, but I never stopped fighting. What about you?


Medical Inequality

April 21, 2015

In the past two years, I’ve been horrifically exposed to the inequalities in American medicine.

I’ve lost my father, two aunts, and three dear friends. Of those, all but two involved cancer. And half of them were a direct result of medical neglect or outright malpractice deriving from inequality.

Almost every civilized country on the planet (including many considered “third world”) provides health care for its citizens. Canada, Australia, Japan, Russia, most of Europe, most of South America, Cuba, etc. But, in the United States, people are brainwashed into protesting the minimal assistance ACA (Affordable Care Act) offers, ignoring the death, debt, and despair caused by the lack of universal health care here.

Faux News, the tool of the 1 percent, convinces these delusional dissidents that somehow government assistance will reduce the quality of care they receive, ignoring the fact that government-run Medicare offers the most cost-effective and highest quality of care available in this country.

In reality, the quality of health care in the United States is surpassed around the world. Even Mexico offers its citizens better health care in terms of outcomes than that available here. And the high quality care that these absurd activists are so worried about losing is available only to those who have money and privilege.

Even if you have privilege, you still can leave your family indebted to the medical establishment. The number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills.

But, without money and/or privilege, the medical establishment condemns you to death. I lost two friends in one week. The first, a white, upper middle class, cis woman had her life extended by almost a decade after her cancer was diagnosed as Stage IV. She was monitored constantly, getting CAT scans at regular intervals. She had access to experimental treatments which gave
her several additional years of high quality living. When the end came, in her seventh decade, it was peaceful, expected, and at home with her family.

The second, a trans woman, also had a history of cancer. But, she did not receive adequate monitoring. She had been ill and in pain for weeks, but no CAT scan was ordered, just an x-ray. Her doctor told her she had pneumonia. She was admitted to the hospital on a Tuesday because the pain had become unbearable and the treatment wasn’t working.

By the time her provider got around to paying for a CAT scan all it could do was confirm her death sentence. In her early fifties, she died the following Monday of Stage IV cancer.

The women of privilege received medical care from a non-profit medical center that put forth a heroic effort to preserve her life. She had time to prepare her family, her affairs, her finances, and to say goodbye to her friends over lunches and chocolate.

The trans woman was neglected by a for-profit company that has a history of killing patients rather than spending money on expensive tests and treatments. (That same organization worked systematically for three years to kill my aunt — not white, not privileged — through neglect, malpractice, and over medication.)

With no warning, the trans woman had to say goodbye to her friends in the hospital. For those further away who couldn’t make it there quickly, they only were able to spend time with her after she lost her ability to speak clearly. Instead of spending quality time over months with each individual or family, she was mobbed by the many who loved her over the course of a few hours.

Because she had no time to prepare her finances and affairs, her extended family may lose the home they shared.

You can help them out at the gofundme account their friends set up for them. That Americans must create crowdfunding campaigns to beg for assistance with medical bills is seen as bizarre in more civilized parts of the world.

But, the GOP is determined to strip away what little relief the ACA offers. Republicans prefer to allow huge mega corps to make obscene profits by allowing people to die rather than provide adequate medical care and then billing their families for hundreds of thousands of dollars, sending them into bankruptcy.

The rest of the world has figured out that providing citizens with affordable health care makes economic sense. But we’re still trapped in a paranoid delusion that somehow government interference will reduce access and quality even though the opposite is true.


Do I Pass?

July 29, 2014

I consider myself a trans ally. Depending on how you define “activist,” you might even consider me a trans activist.

I have trans friends, belong to trans support groups, share articles about trans struggles and persecution on social media, bitch slap trans hatred when I can.

Do I PassBut, when I see a “Do I Pass?” post on social media I cringe. Not because of what it means to the author as much as what it means about what the author experiences outside “safe” trans space.

Often, in these pictures, I see a very worried face looking back at me — a beautiful person desperately seeking acceptance for who they are.

I believe the need to pass grows out of the gender binary — strict definitions of what “men” and “women” should look, sound, and act like.

I could be considered a cisgender woman and I don’t fit within the gender binary. Neither do some of my other cisgender friends. Why in the world must we hold trans people up to a standard that many cisgender people can’t meet (or don’t want to)?

As Quinn writes on his blog, “We need to change this narrative that implies that transgender people want nothing more than to ‘pass’ as cisgender.”

In some ways I identify with the gender I was assigned at birth. If I’m given the choice, I identify my gender as FemDom — put that in your binary where you will. I definitely don’t accept the presentation/constructs assigned by society to the female gender. I’ve been mistaken for a man on the telephone. I choose to use initials rather than a first name, so I am constantly referred to as “Mr.” and “he.” I prefer to wear men’s clothing because it’s more comfortable and practical. I don’t wear makeup because it takes too much time and money to do so, especially since I’m allergic to all but the most expensive cosmetics. But, I’m not considered butch because I wear my hair curly to my shoulders and feminine jewelry.

I have trans women friends who are more tomboys than femme. I also have very femme trans women friends who I didn’t realize were trans until they felt comfortable enough with me to confide that fact. I have watched friends transition from male to female and from female to male. And, I’ve seen many of them try too hard to meet artificial binary standards while they were doing so.

If you’re not comfortable in your own skin, how do you find a gender expression that does make you comfortable? Especially in a society that’s so stuck on a binary that it slaughters people who don’t fit on one end or the other?

I remember a few years back I worked as a volunteer checking identification for an excursion. An older woman approached me, dressed in a smart, classic skirt suit. Her hands shook as she handed me the driver’s license that identified her as a man and a letter from her doctor explaining she had a gender identity “disorder.” I wondered how hard she had to consider whether or not she wanted to go on this wonderful expedition because of the pain of dealing with the paperwork. I was just grateful she ended up at my post and not with someone who may have scorned or interrogated her. She was frightened, close to tears, and it wouldn’t have taken much to terrorize her.

When I first met a dear friend, she wore skirts, heels, and makeup to work and spaces that she probably didn’t consider safe. Over the years, she relaxed her style and dressed more casually. At one point she confessed that I had inadvertently helped her become more comfortable wearing clothes she preferred because I demonstrated that identifying as a woman does not obligate one to wear apparel that society defines as “feminine.”

The question “Do I pass?” holds disproportionate weight in the transgender community, generating myriad emotions. Some ask because they desperately want to be accepted by their family, their friends, their colleagues, the clerk at the grocery store, as the gender denied them at birth. Some ask because in a society where “trans” is justification for violence, there’s safety in passing. And, some ask because they want confirmation that how they appear to others matches the way they feel inside.

Even a trans person who “passes” 100 percent of the time will occasionally seek a confidence boost by asking. They might post their pictures on social media without explicitly stating the question, but their facial expression and response to comments confirm that need. Deep inside, especially if they’re early on the transition journey, they can still fear someone outing them as who they used to be.

But everyone who asks the question “Do I pass?” shares an insecurity that they don’t meet artificial gender constructs.

How do those of us who are trans allies, activists, and even those trans men and women more secure in their gender presentation respond to the question “Do I pass”?

Let’s start by not holding trans men and women up to a standard many cis women and men can’t meet. Let’s not allow artificial standards of beauty, that almost no one can achieve without Photoshop assistance, prevent us from seeing the allure in anyone who doesn’t attain them. Let’s not confuse gender identity with gender expression and force people into a binary that prevents them from being themselves.

But, most importantly, let’s remember it really isn’t any of our business whether or not someone is trans unless they choose to share that information with us. If someone tells you they are a woman or a man, just accept that, even if they don’t dress, talk, or act like you think a woman or man should. And, if you mistakenly address that woman with a deep voice as “Sir” or the man with breasts as Ma’am and they inform you that you’ve misgendered them, just apologize and don’t make the same mistake again. Nothing else required.