November 1, 2011

If you are a woman, if you’re a person of colour, if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, if you are a person of size, if you are a person of intelligence, if you are a person of integrity, then you are considered a minority in this world….

When you don’t have self-esteem you will hesitate before you do anything in your life … You will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote, you will hesitate to dream.

For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution and our revolution is long overdue.


Margaret Cho 


(via stophatingyourbody)

(Source: queerliness, via xenya-targaryen)

October 31, 2011
KS Doctors Challenge Revised Anti-Abortion Law in Court

Despite the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s decision to remove some of its proposed regulations on abortion providers, three doctors who perform abortions in Kansas announced that they will continue their challenge to the state’s abortion law in court. Earlier this week, the Kansas Health Department announced that it would abandon regulations that specify the size and temperature of patients’ rooms.

Nevertheless, it upheld the majority of the provisions, such as requirements that abortion providers be licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which is authorized to regulate buildings and equipment for abortion clinics and to conduct inspections of the clinics twice yearly. The regulations would also still require that only a physician could dispense medicine, which would prevent physician’s assistants from administering over-the-counter pain medication, and mandate that all health records be made available to the health department, which critics point out would violate patient privacy.


October 31, 2011
Changing the Landscape With Women’s Media

By: Ariel Dougherty

From the Documentary Club post film discussion last week after the OWN Channel presentation of Miss Representation, some opportunities to broaden consciousness about empowering media slipped through the ether. The bombardment of negative imagery from corporate media is surely extensive. Director Jennifer Siebel Newsom has done a monumental job presenting and analyzing that pervasiveness.

There is, however, a vibrant feminist media culture that has despite all odds evolved—though it remains seriously under capitalized—to counter the false banter of commercialism. Thousands of such entities started during the early days of the women’s liberation movement. Among those that remain, a few examples are Sophie’s Parlor, a D.C.-based weekly radio show that has aired weekly since 1972 on WPFW, Women Make Movies, the distributor of well over 500 films from across the globe, and the better known Ms. magazine. This cacophony of media has been deeply enriched by new works with a gender justice frame from a younger generation through such venues as Make/Shift, a provocative print magazine examining “feminisms in motion,” the daily radio show Uprising out of Los Angeles on KPFK and the dynamic media works and analysis of INCITE Women of Color Against Violence.


October 31, 2011
“Miss Representation”—Poised to Advance a Media Movement

By: Marianne Schnall

We tend to pay attention to negative media treatment of women and girls only as isolated incidents spark an outcry—a sexist statement by an on-air commentator, a skeletal model on a magazine cover, a controversial advertising campaign. The full scope of the problem, and its dire implications for our democracy and our planet, rarely rates a national discussion.

That may change, with the premiere of filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s groundbreaking new documentary “Miss Representation,” which airs on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network tonight (Thursday October 20). The film features insights from an impressive array of influential women and men (including Women Media Center founders Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem and former WMC presidents Carol Jenkins and Jehmu Greene). It powerfully makes the case that the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls is not only at the root of such rising epidemics as eating disorders, self-mutilation and depression in teenage girls, but is largely responsible for the glaring under-representation of women in all positions of power and influence in America.


October 31, 2011
"Nations will rise and fall, but equality remains the ideal. The universal aim is to achieve respect for the entire human race, not just for the dominant few."

— Carlos P. Romulo

October 31, 2011
Judge In Target Case Rules In Favor Of Gay Rights Group

SAN DIEGO — A judge ruled Thursday that a San Diego pro-gay marriage group can continue canvassing outside of Target stores in California, but the group’s volunteers must stay 30 feet away from store entrances and canvass at just one entrance at a time.

The Minnesota-based retail giant had sought an injunction barring the activists from every outlet in the state, alleging they harass customers by cornering them near store entrances to discuss gay marriage, solicit donations and collect signatures on petitions.

Rights advocates have warned that the legal battle between Target and Canvass For A Cause could further damage the retailer’s already strained relations with the gay and lesbian community.

Canvass For A Cause director Tres Watson called Thursday’s ruling a win for not only his organization, but also for free speech.


October 31, 2011
Elmhurst College's Sexual Orientation Application Question First In The Nation

Elmhurst College, a private liberal arts school located in the western suburbs of Chicago, this week released a new undergraduate application [PDF] for its 2012-2013 academic year including a reportedly historic question: “Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?”

The question is the first of its kind according to Campus Pride, a national advocacy group working to foster more LGBT-inclusive college settings, whose executive director Shane Windmeyer described the move as “a distinct and unique paradigm shift in higher education" in a statement Tuesday.

"For the first time, an American college has taken efforts to identify their LGBT students from the very first moment those students have official contact with them. This is definite progress in the right direction — and deserves praise," Windmeyer said.

The question will also, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, identify students as eligible for an “enrichment” scholarship worth roughly one-third of their tuition. The scholarship is given to about 100 incoming students each year — traditionally applicants from underrepresented groups.


October 31, 2011
Brazil's Top Appeals Court Upholds Gay Marriage

BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil’s top appeals court has ruled that two women can legally be married. It’s the highest court in Brazil to uphold a gay marriage.

In June, a state court judge ruled that two men could legally change their civil union into a full marriage.

It was in May that Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled that gay civil unions could be recognized. But the top court stopped short of recognizing full marriages.

Since then, several couples have petitioned to have their civil unions recognized as full marriages. Some of those have been approved at lower courts, others blocked.

Tuesday’s ruling by the Supreme Appeals Court overturned two lower court’s ruling against the women. In Latin America, gay marriage is legal in Argentina and Mexico City.

October 31, 2011
"When I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid."

— Audre Lorde

October 31, 2011
Illinois Transgender Woman, Former Taxi Driver, Awarded In Employment Lawsuit

In what could be the first employment discrimination judgment made in favor of a transgender person under the Illinois Human Rights Act, a transgender woman has been awarded $104,711 in a complaint against her former employer.

The Illinois Human Rights Commission adopted the ruling Sept. 12.

Venessa Fitzsimmons alleges that her former Universal Taxi Dispatch, Inc., refused to help her when her taxi broke down because she was transgender.


October 31, 2011
California Transgender Bills Signed Into Law By Governor Jerry Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown signed two transgender rights bills into law yesterday.

The first, Assembly Bill 433, the Vital Statistics Modernization Act, makes the process for Californians to obtain and update birth certificates easier.

The bill was authored by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and sponsored by the Transgender Law Center and Equality California, according to a press release from the Transgender Law Center.

The Vital Statistics Modernization Act streamlines the current process for trans people to receive a new birth certificate (or other identifying documentation) that reflects their current gender. Trans people must only provide medical documentation from an attending physician to prove that they have undergone “clinically apropriate treatment.”

“The Vital Statistics Modernization Act eliminates outdated and onerous barriers that transgender people face when trying to update their IDs,” said Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center. “Having identity documents that match who we truly are is critical to our ability to work, travel, and thrive. We applaud Governor Brown and our lawmakers for prioritizing the health and safety of transgender Californians.”

The other bill, Assembly Bill 887, also known as the Gender Nondiscrimination Act, bulks up employment, housing and other civil rights protections for all Californians, but especially for trans people. The bill was authored by Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and sponsored by Equality California, Transgender Law Center and Gay-Straight Alliance Network.


October 31, 2011
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful commited citizens can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever does"

— Margaret Meade

October 31, 2011
Reaching New Heights in Women's Rights Activism

Mehrunisa Qayyum, in her blog PITAPOLICY, which covers politics and analyses development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, assessed the most recent list of the top 100 Arab women by, noting the growing impact of “women who have transformed their business entrepreneurial skills into social entrepreneurship….”

The power of activism lies in the ability to mobilise all segments of society to raise awareness of and propel action on a particular issue. In order to achieve these goals when it comes to women’s rights issues in the Middle East, activists are adopting the tools of successful female social entrepreneurs – community-based women’s project opportunities, social media and global partnerships. 


October 30, 2011
Angry Art Letters on the Lower East Side

Ridykeulous, founded by artists Nicole Eisenman and A.L. Steiner in 2005, describes itself as an effort to “subvert, sabotage, and overturn the language commonly used to define feminist and lesbian art,” primarily through exhibitions, performances, and zines. Attacking the marginalization of queer and feminist art as “alternative” cultures, they insist upon participating in mainstream dialogues about art and culture; in adopting the role of curators and organizing exhibitions, Steiner and Eisenman forcefully insert themselves and their collaborators into the spaces, both literally and figuratively, of the art establishment. Inhabiting a commercial gallery, albeit one known for its adventurous programming, rather than an alternative space allows the artists and curators to critique the art world and its practices from the inside, drawing directly upon the symbolic associations of the gallery space and the implicit dynamic of power it represents. Though not all of the artists in Readykeulous are female, nor do they all identify as queer, they share an interest in disrupting the status quo.


October 30, 2011
7-Year-Old Transgender Boy Invited To Girl Scouts After Rejection

Bobby Montoya often dresses like a girl, plays with girl’s toys, and most recently, wants to become a Girl Scout. But when her mother, Felisha Archuleta, brought her to a local troop leader, the child’s dreams were dashed. According to 9 News, the Girl Scouts worker said the child could not join, regardless of how the 7-year-old feels, because Bobby had “boy parts.”

According to Fox News, the Girl Scouts Of Colorado have since admitted a mistake was made. Apparently the worker who turned Montoya away was unfamiliar with the group’s policies, and Bobby is now welcome to join the group. It’s unclear as to whether or not she has decided to join in light of the reversal.

Requests for transgender children to join the Girl Scouts have grown according to Fox News, and the group has been working to support them and their families.