Category: gender

CA Gov. Brown Signs Non-Binary Identification Option Bill

I often talk about we LGBTQ folks are all in the same boat together, but not on the same deck. Some of us face more challenges than others. As a healthy, sefl-employed, legally partnered, cisgender, white gay guy in rural PA, I face few risks in housing, employment, and in public. But there is an epidemic of discrimination and violence for lots of LGBTQ folks in the USA. Transgender women of color, who currently have a significally lower life expectance, face a slew of troubles in every area of life.

Mark Snyder, Equality Federation

Similarly gender non-binary people face multiple legal and social challenges all over the USA and beyond. Today it just got better.  We hear good news out of California where Governor Jerry Brown has signed several bills into law that will ensure fairness and equality for LGBTQ Californians including a bill that will allow for a nonbinary gender marker on state issued IDs, a bill of rights protecting LGBTQ seniors, and an update to the state’s HIV criminalization laws.

SB 179, the Gender Recognition Act, will create a nonbinary gender marker option for state issued IDs and streamline the currently burdensome process for transgender people to change their gender markers.

Mark Snyder, Director of Communications at the Equality Federation in San Francisco said,

I’ve never been more proud to live in California, and I can’t wait to change my driver’s license to reflect my nonbinary gender. “Nonbinary and transgender people are your friends, family, and neighbors. We are part of the fabric of this state and nation. This commonsense law will eliminate unnecessary barriers for people like me, enabling us to live free from the discrimination we endure when our IDs don’t match our true selves.

I  add my voice along with Equality Federation in thanking to the Governor for his steadfast allyship, and congratulates Equality California, Transgender Law Center, and all of the advocates and families who worked so hard for these victories.

Learn more about this bill and what it means over at Equality Federation.

What Woman Would you like to see on the Twenty Dollar Bill?

Andrew Jackson, it’s time for a makeover. Actually, it is time that you get replaced. At least that is what one campaign advocates. According to the New York Times:

campaign has begun to put a woman on the $20 bill by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the United States.

Various women have weighed in about their nominations. Peggy M. Shepard, the co-founder of WE Act for Environmental Justice (West Harlem Environmental Action for Environmental Justice) suggests honoring Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, a groundbreaking book highlighting environmental dangers and the need to act.

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Feminist, Gloria Steinem is pushing for Sojourner Truth while novelist, Louise Erdrich, has put forward Wilma Mankiller, the first female Cherokee Chief. This last suggestion seems particularly fitting, as Andrew Jackson, the current face on the $20, seeing Jackson’s key role in the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 leading to the infamous Trail of Tears.

I posted the NY Times article over on my Facebook page and got lots of suggestions from the serious to the silly (Queen Elizabeth?!? lol) What about you? Which woman wold you like to see on the US twenty dollar bill. Benjamin Franklin has proven to us that American currency is not just for presidents.

If you want some inspiration, check out Auto Straddle’s massive list of 100+ LGBTQ Black Women.

(featured image from CNN Money)

Prescott’s Climate Links #5

Global Warming. Will technology save us? I know many of us hold onto a hope that some great invention will solve all of our climate woes. As you will see in our third link, addressing global warming will take more than just technology. But first, when I think of Global Warming, I don’t typically think of polar bears, bees, or sea coral–not that the threats they face are not real or urgent. I instead think of the people affected by climate change. I can’t help but think of myself and my husband and our friends and family in North America, Europe, and Southern Africa, and things we value that are at risk of being lost forever along with the feelings of fear over the uncertainty of it all.

I also think of other people–farmers, women in Subsaharan Africa, and poor and working class people in cities around the world who have always had to deal with more pollution in their communities than their richer neighbors.  Before we look at technology first let’s consider links to two stories that look at people disproportionately affected by climate change–poor communities in California cities and women in Jamaica.


For the past 18 months the state of California has implemented a carbon cap-and-trade program collecting millions of dollars from companies who pollute. According to the original law, 25% of the revenue is suppose to go towards poorer communities adversely affected by pollution. Because of a budget shortfall last year, Governor Jerry Brown diverted that money (500 million dollars,) but at last these funds are going in the right place.

Under the new budget, about $230 million, or 26 percent, of the $872 million cap-and-trade money will go toward environmental justice efforts. That includes $75 million to weatherize low-income homes and $25 million for transit and intercity rail networks in poor communities. A program called Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities run by the state’s Strategic Growth Council will get $130 million to plan and build new housing and add amenities like public transit to existing neighborhoods.

Calif. Earmarks a Quarter of its Cap-and-Trade Riches for Environmental Justice by Amy Nordrum, Inside Climate News


Throughout the developing world, women and girls are expected to face a harder time of it because of global warming. A recent series of papers out of Jamaica looks at some of the impacts of natural disasters and drought based on gender.

Apart from hurricanes, water shortages and droughts are also consequences of climate change which impact the poor and vulnerable within the society. Women and children in rural areas often find themselves having to go in search of water for domestic use.

“Women in general make up a large number of the vulnerable in communities that are highly dependent on local natural resources to survive,” said Tesi Scott.

Women said more vulnerable to climate change, Jamaica Observer


If you want to learn more about climate change and women, read the UN’s Women Watch page, Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change.


I find that my mind repels the idea that Global Warming is as serious as scientists say it is. Who can grasp the magnitude of the crisis without denying it in part or negotiating its impacts away? “Well, I recycle,” we say trying comfort ourselves believing that if we each did our part, we will ultimately lick this current crisis. When we realize that our individual efforts do not even begin to come close enough to addressing the problem, we look to science and innovation for a cure, “Surely technology will save us.”

No doubt technology will play a large part in helping us to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We will need to develop all sorts of new technologies to capture carbon and create new energy sources that do not pollute. We are not there yet, and we need to dispossess ourselves of the notion that we can simply rely on technology to pull us out of the climate mess. Doug Struck of the Boston Globes recently wrote about a talk given by a Swiss scientist visiting the US.

“Technology will bring us a long way. But we will need also a change in our lifestyle,” he said. “It’s a grim message, but a true message. Science and technology is useful, but if you want to save the earth, you need also to work on the other side, on reducing our energy use.”

No magic bullet for climate change, Swiss scientist says by Doug Struck, Boston Globe


If you want to get involved with a group of people working hard to change the way we use energy through a market-driven approach that will curb consumption and encourage alternatives to greenhouse gases, check out the Citizens Climate Lobby.

Mom Accepts Transgender Tween

Jack Drescher sent me a link to the following article, a story that moved and encouraged me greatly.

MANCHESTER, NH – In the first grade, 6-year-old Nicholas stood up one day and told his teacher he had something important to say.

Not just to her. But to the whole class.

“My name is Nicholas, but I want to be called Nikki because I’m really a girl,” he told his classmates at Parker-Varney School in Manchester.

News of the incident did not come as a surprise to his mother, Diana. By the time Nicholas reached preschool, it had become obvious her foster son was never going to be “one of the boys.”

Nikki turned out to be a very insightful and aware young girl.

And then there was the issue of the “two hearts” – a pink one and a blue one. A young Nicholas insisted he had both, and then woke up one night and said he dreamed a monster took the blue one away, Diana said.

Nikki is now 11 years old, and with her mother’s help, she has been able to live as a girl at her school. It took work, education and a lot of advocacy on her mother’s part.

You can read the rest of the Nashua Telegraph article here.

I had a conversation with someone recently who confessed that she just doesn’t “get it”. A straight woman, she has come to understand and accept gay and lesbian people (we didn’t discuss bisexual individuals who struggle with being silenced and marginalized by straights, gays and lesbians). Transgender issues boggled this woman’s mind though.

Sure it is foreign for many, and it is complex. It doesn’t help that gender and sex and orientation get all mashed up together. With the oppression of women in a society which still has deeply ingrained gender roles and gender rules, any discussion of gender and sex gets complex.

Even among people who have have transitioned, are transitioning or consider themselves transgender, we see diverse opinions often at odds with each other. To me this points to the health and maturity of many trans people. I meet so many who think for themselves. They don’t follow a trans guide book on how to be, how to do it, how to express it. For many, they have been on a path of self-discovery that has helped them to become their own people on their own terms.

As I mentioned before, when we see stories of young children who insist that their outsides don’t match their insides, that they are really girls or really boys regardless of what the birth certificate they, these honest children are the only ones who are not confused about their gender.

Yes, this is confusing for many of us who never had to seriously question our gender or sex. Even many gay and lesbian folks grapple to “get it”. Added to the confusion is all the pressure that gets stirred up from the gender variant issues that have baffled many of us in our lives reminding us of the many ways we have tried to “pass” as man or woman enough for the gender police (both external and internal). I mean consider how much of the ex-gay experience is about gender realignment treatment (playing football for guys, Mary Kay makeovers for the gals, etc).

I also think of the complex and challenging world for people who are born intersex. Life is not always so simple. I recently received a moving message from a person who was born intersex. If the individual agrees, I will share some of it with you in an upcoming post.

For those of us who don’t “get it”. That is fine. It is understandable. But we don’t have to stay in that place. By listening to other people’s stories, hearing their journeys, listening to their heart message, seeing the integrity in their lives, it will help us to better understand.

For further “research,” check out the amazing Trans-Ponder Podcast and (and Jayna’s videos) as well as grishno’s journey she chronicle through YouTube videos.