Archive for July, 2010
From Yahoo Finance:
The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.
So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and “free trade” that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn’t tell us that the “global economy” would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.
Here are the statistics to prove it:
• 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
• 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
• 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
• 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
• A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
• 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
• Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
• Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
• For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
• In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
• As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
• The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
• Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
• In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.
• The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America’s corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
• In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
• More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
• or the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
• This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
• Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 – the highest rate in 20 years.
• Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
• The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.
And that racist colonialist imperialist legacy that’s all about exploiting workers in the Global South?
Also, is there truly any job on Earth that is really worth millions of dollars, 10s of millions? 100s of millions? Is there any reasonable meaning to the concept of a single person being a billionaire? Obviously there is meaning, as all that wealth concentrated in a few hands means that so many do without so much. But is it really rational for this to be an economic reality?
I received an e-mail from Nena Sechler Craven asking if I’d post a link to her survey about online feminist activism.
I am posting it, although I will mention that the question as to your gender? Problematic. The options are “Man/Male,” “Woman/Female,” and “Transgender, genderquer or other non-binary.” She acknowledges that this is problematic and suggests that you select what fits you most closely, but of course no one should feel obligated to take this if the question asking “Who you are” is already alienating. Once I got past that, it seemed pretty reasonable.
This survey is not about transgender stuff specifically, although there’s room to talk about it in general.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably care about issues such as gender studies, feminism, womanism, and women’s rights. I am a graduate student at the University of Delaware, and I’m doing a research study about these issues and how the internet plays a role in people’s beliefs and activism. I’m looking for people like you to fill out a survey about your experiences online. Whether you’re a regular visitor of these websites or have just started checking things out, I would really like to hear from you. Website owners, administrators, and moderators are also welcome! If you’re interested, please click on the link below to take the survey. Thanks!
Feminists With Disability (FWD) has a couple of posts:
On Rape and Deception – comments get problematic, so be warned
Guest Poster Tasha Fierce writes on The Coming Race War – also some problematic comments
Where Are Are My Keys I Lost My Phone – A few weeks old, but worth reading
No – Another post about the Israeli woman charging an Arab man with rape because she thought he was Jewish when she had sex with him. There’s a lot of nuance in this, so go read it.
And this week, two videos:
Conversation between a trans woman and a cis woman about the cis woman’s decision to attend MWMF.
If anyone wants to write a transcription, that’d be brilliant. I’d do it, but my short term memory hates me and would make me listen to each sentence six times. Jayinchicago transcribed it in the comments. Thank you!
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts – I Love Rock and Roll
The recent New York Times article, When to Out a Transgendered Dater?, written by a cis man posing as an ethicist, was notable more for its display of blatant cisupremacism and noxious subtext of anti trans sentiment than for answering its own question in any useful way. Thankfully, it’s been thoroughly and deservedly deconstructed in numerous responses (see Questioning Transphobia, The Bay Area Reporter, Feministing and Bilerico, to name but a few).
In the light of that unnecessary reminder that many cis people will always make it about them, it’s a real breath of fresh air to read about two cis parents, Venessia and Joseph Romero, who are as open, supportive and loving as any child could wish for. Four years ago they found that their elder daughter Josie is transgender and since then, according to the Arizona Daily Star (see also the site’s health blog), have worked hard to follow her lead.
And Josie is not only adamant that she’s a girl, but also that she’s transgender. She doesn’t want to hide who she is, and her family says they respect and support that. Telling her story validates her, her mother says.
“Josie is very proud of who she is,” Venessia says. “Why go through life with a secret? Where’s the health in that? There should be no shame.”
“Josie will change her mind on many issues in her life. Halfway through grad school she may switch her major,” Venessia says. “But her blood type will never change, and she’ll always be female. All through Josie’s life she has persistently and consistently identified as female. Josie is a girl, has always been a girl, and will grow up to become a woman. That is just part of who she is.”
Needless to say, the Romero family has received a lot of criticism, not least for being the focus of a significant amount of media attention.
A year ago, National Geographic contacted TransYouth Family Allies seeking a family with a transgender child, and the group contacted the Romeros. Venessia says the family gave it a lot of thought, including talking with Josie. Ultimately, they decided it would be a good idea and other media appearances soon followed.
“This world isn’t going to change on its own,” Venessia says as Josie and sister Jade, adopted from China when she was 2 and Josie was 3, ride their pink and purple bikes. “I don’t want her growing into a world that isn’t ready for her.”
Which, to me, is the heart of the matter. Articles like the NYT piece I mentioned above have only one purpose: to reinforce the ciscentric (and cissupremacist) values of a world which is transphobic by default. All anti trans rhetoric is fundamentally and intractably aimed at upholding the essentially (and essentialist) transphobic belief that trans people simply shouldn’t exist. As Alison Davison, coordinator of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance points out, in the debate about whether TS/TG people should be ‘out’:
Many transgender folks prefer to live what we call a ‘stealth’ existence.
If they are transsexual, they will go through the stages of transition and often do their best to quietly blend in. There are philosophical and political discussions about the importance of being ‘out.’
Personally, I think there is strength in being out and public. I think the rest of society needs to see faces and hear stories of transgender people so they can develop greater understanding and compassion.
Whilst I’m broadly in agreement with this, I doubt that any cis person can ever truly understand our experiences of being trans; however, it’s true that a little more acceptance wouldn’t go amiss. And a useful place to start for cis people who want to show solidarity with, and support for, our communities would be to actually listen to us with the same degree of care and attention as Venessia and Joseph Romero have shown for Josie. If we were able to feel safe enough around cis people that mentioning, or not, that we’re trans wouldn’t be putting our lives at risk whether we self-disclose, or not – then just maybe the world could take another small step towards being a better place for all of us.
Edited to add: There are a couple of YouTube videos of Tyra Banks’ interview with Josie and her family, televised in January 2010. Despite the poor quality of sound and images, either is well worth taking 10 minutes to watch. Here are the links:
So a story that’s going around the news this week is about Nikki Araguz, widow of firefighter Thomas Araguz. She’s also a Texan and a trans woman.
Thanks to the Christie Lee Littleton case, there’s precedent that says trans women are not and cannot be legally female or women in the state of Texas, which can be used to deny trans women spouse benefits, although this primarily seems to come up when the spouse’s family wants a legal hook to deprive a trans woman of such benefits. This isn’t the first or the last time this will happen, and as much as it makes me sick to my stomach to see yet another trans woman’s life dragged through the mud because American (and specifically Texas in this case) law is regressive and oppressive.
But I think this story touches on somewhat larger, more encompassing issues that trans people have to deal with. Thomas’ mother, for example, insists that her son didn’t know that Nikki was trans and separated from her shortly before his death, and that Nikki herself married Thomas for the money – that she’s a gold digger. Nikki, on the other hand, says that Thomas knew all along and was fine with it.
I believe Nikki’s telling the truth. I believe Thomas’ mother, Simona Longoria, is appealing to the narrative that will ultimately purchase cis sympathy for her plight. Simona’s claim makes Nikki out to be an opportunistic predator, a stealthy deceiver, a liar who wormed her way into Thomas’ life in order to not only feast on his assets while alive, but to cackle merrily on the way to the bank after his death. It is dependent upon (in addition to the Littleton precedent), painting Nikki as someone who deceived Thomas in order to not only get into his bed, but also into his life.
This is how many cis people love to paint trans women. This is how Focus On The Family and its affiliated activist groups around the country talk about trans women – they claim we’re pedophiles and rapists just waiting to catch cis women and children alone in a restroom, or that cis men will pose as trans women to do the same. This is how murderers get light sentences after they murder trans women of color – by claiming they found out she was trans and killed her in an uncontrollable rage. Even when she’s been strangled after having slept with him for months, or when she’s been shot in the back. And then they walk free to kill again.
This is how cis columnists talk about how trans people are discreditable and dishonest if we don’t admit up front that we’re trans, or at least say so within the first few dates. This is how cis people describe that having sex with a trans person who doesn’t disclose is akin to rape or exposure to STDs. Cis people, on the contrary, are never expected to disclose their transphobia and unwillingness to date a trans person on any date. Cis people never feel the urge to say, “Oh, by the way? If you’re trans, I will bash your head in with a fire extinguisher.” And yet who takes the blame?
And as much as we talk about these things, these conversations fail to convey any amount of depth about the variety of trans people’s lives. It presumes that trans people are gendered properly a significant amount of the time. It presumes that trans people who are not gendered properly are perhaps not worth talking about quite as much. It presumes that trans people who are gendered incorrectly and recognized as trans are not often almost immediately subjected to hate speech and harassment, let alone threatened or even outright assault and violence. One of my friends on livejournal routinely talks about her encounters with cis people hurling hate speech and threats at her. To these cis people, apparently her very existence is too offensive for them to bear.
And that’s what it comes down to. It’s not about honesty, it’s not about disclosure, it’s about existence. Often, cis people see trans people as unbearable and intolerable just because of who we are, where we dare to go, who we dare to talk to, who we dare to find attractive, where we dare to work, what clothes we dare to wear, which street we dare to walk down. That we dare to breathe and speak, and be present.
So the problem is never “she lied to him” or any of that nonsense. The problem is that she’s trans and tried to live like a cis person, and that’s just not acceptable.
So, if we’re going to ever have a useful conversation about disclosure? It has to start there. It can’t be a debate about when or if trans people should tell cis people that they’re trans. It can’t focus on the needs and problems of trans people with reliable passing privilege (or who are assumed to have that passing privilege). It can’t even be about disclosure because disclosure is not the problem. It has to be about the fact that transphobia is a systematic, institutionalized force, and its primary purpose is to deny us the right to exist.
Edit: Apparently, all of Nikki’s assets have been completely frozen and she’s living off charity. If you want to donate to help with her legal fees (because this case could, if appealed far enough, change precedent in Texas), you can find the information here. Thanks to Drakyn for the link, and Charlie Butler for this link that also has more explanation.
As I understand it, Butterflywings has objected to the characterization of her as a troll, and has suggested that it’s impossible for a woman to say the things that Helen and I have said that she said on our blogs. She has also blamed us and accused us of bullying her because someone is allegedly commenting under her name and framing her. She has also demanded that I post the text of the comments because posting them would prove her innocence? That I’m lying? That what she put in my comments queue wasn’t really hate speech?
I just want everyone to know that I have a clear trail of trolling and sockpuppeting comments that go back 16 months on QT alone, that I can tie back to someone posting under the name Butterflywings to the Transphobic Tropes posts last September. Helen has similar logs pointing back to a history of trolling on Bird of Paradox, and the two of us have communicated extensively about the trolling on both QT and BoP over a period of months. Helen has also discussed Butterflywings’ history of trolling The F Word. I have also spoken with Genderbitch and Jill from Feministe (link, link) and have been able to link the trolling comments on QT and BoP to Butterflywings’ comment history elsewhere, including her recent protestations of innocence. Comments protesting her innocence have also been posted to Feministe, but not published, and again these are easily cross-referenced with the trolling comments. Also, while her comment was deleted from this Feministing discussion in May of 2009, you can determine the context from the responses (short version: She told a trans woman that it was misogynist to like her own breasts, and said that trans women don’t experience sexual harassment). She may believe I have no evidence, but the truth is that multiple people have evidence stretching back over the past 16 months.
If someone’s trying to frame Butterflywings as a transphobic troll, they’ve put a lot of time and energy into it, especially since Butterflywings didn’t notice until now?
She also insists that the trolling has nothing to do with feminism. But I didn’t make this about feminism, but rather the feminists who chose to troll. A notable amount of Butterflywings’ trolling itself draws upon radical feminist writings and theory. Butterflywings herself uses the language (actually, hate speech) adopted by the feminist blog “A Room of our Own” used to describe trans women. Feminism is very much at the center of this, specifically Butterflywings’ attempts to use feminist concepts to bully, harass, threaten, and abuse trans women.
Her blog is named “Feminist Response to Trans Activist Terrorism.” She’s trying to blame Helen and I for calling out the trolling. I have death threats on my blog, Helen has ominous threats to take down her post about the trolls or something bad will happen, and neither of us have gone looking for Butterflywings or anyone else, let alone posting comments anywhere she reads that say anything like what was left in our queues. At worst, I’ve mocked her attempts to troll QT.
Apparently, having abusive, threatening trolls attack you and being able to identify them by name is just like being a terrorist.
Also, I would appreciate it if no one trolled her back. I’m not posting this information to mobilize retribution, but to ensure that people know what she’s been up to. To know, more generally, what anti-trans radical feminist dogma is all about. And to know what to expect if she comes around to your blog.
If anyone has any questions, my e-mail address remains qt dot lisah at gmail dot com
little light has joined us at QT. I know her posting volume probably won’t be all that high, but I have absolutely no room to complain. What she does write is powerful and true, and I’m flattered that she agreed to join QT.
I know this fell off after a few months. I would like to get it started again.
I really loved having the conversations other people brought, and it was nice to have a few more posts going up (given my own approach to regular posting). So, this is just a note that hopefully we can get that going again. I want to thank everyone who participated in the past, and for those who didn’t get a chance to write posts they wanted to write, I’m totally down with repeat occurrences. I would like to be a bit more strict about the month-long timeline than previously.
First, some links:
Samia writes I actually call it cisfail sometimes.
Restructure! writes Male geeks reclaim masculinity at the expense of female geeks.
Before I get to the music video, please remember to update your RSS feeds and links, etc to http://www.questioningtransphobia.com. The old site will no longer be updated, but will remain online for archival purposes. Things are a bit messy here and now, as I’m still getting things organized. Most of it is functional now, at least.
Tori Amos’ Cornflake Girl. The video has some elements from the Wizard of Oz (tornado part) but otherwise seems pretty random.
Pre-Monday open post:
I’ve pretty much worked through everything I can without actually getting help regarding my earlier post. Yes, I’m still being vague about what it is. I want to be clear that it does directly impact my ability to produce blog posts regularly, and this is not something I am able to change at this time. Thank you for the supportive comments on my previous post.
The Monday Open Post will bring a surprise of amazingness and brilliance.
I’ve recently received some hate speech and actual threats in my moderation queue.
I may post in greater depth later, but I want everyone to be aware that occasional commenters have posted anti-trans hate speech several times on this blog over a period of several months, and topped it off with a threat to reveal my personal information (address, specifically) without my consent. Another commenter from the London area, from a different IP address, conveyed further hate speech and anti-trans slurs, and used language that had I heard it in person, I would have immediately called 911. To be more specific: It’s a death threat.
These comments were posted very close together, indicating to me that they were at least in communication about doing this.The language both trolls used is very similar to the transphobic language frequently used at the radical feminist blog “A Room of our Own.” I suspect that both are either readers or contributors, but I don’t have anything firm at this time.
I don’t particularly care about hiding this. I want people to be aware of who is doing this – who is actually at this point trying to intimidate me and my co-bloggers, who is trying to attack and harass us. Who is specifically using threats intended to silence us.
If any trans bloggers would like their IP addresses so you can look out for them (or find comments they’ve written in the past), e-mail email@example.com and I’ll send all information you need.
Edit: Removed names because I don’t know for sure.
Edit a second time: I used up all remaining spoons on responding to this thing, and I didn’t realize that Butterflywings was harassing Helen at BoP as well. Also Lucky and Athena, for that matter. I love the bullying campaign aimed at Helen, complete with threats – and Butterflywings then demanding that Helen stop bullying her. I swear to god. are these people for real?
So basically, as well as writing here, I occasionally write elsewhere, very often on entirely non trans-related issues (shocking I know). One of these places is at Global Comment (“where the world thinks out loud”), edited by the redoubtable Natalia Antonova. There’s a few other writers there you might be familiar with, including Renee from Womanist Musings and Sarah from Season of the Bitch.
Anyway, I don’t usually plug these things cos I’m not big on the self-promotion, but sod it. I recently posted about an experiment a trans group in New York performed which may be of interest, but there’s a host of interesting and thoughtful writing on all kinds of issues.
So yeah, go read. And follow them on Twitter.