Monday, November 30, 2009

I am a WINNER #nanowrimo #dfwrhinos

Last night, or rather this morning, at about half past the midnight hour, I validated my NaNoWriMo novel, SHOWMANCES: ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND THEATER. All 50,134 words of it.

Sadly, at around 49,000 words, I realized that was the point when my novel should have started.

And here I was, looking forward to a month of editing my 2004 NaNovel and reading books and the like, thinking I was done with SHOWMANCES for the time being.

Do I write out the rest of it, at least a slim skeleton of what the rest should be?

Do I put it aside, and finish edits and rewrites and newrites (it needs a lot of work) on the novel I was working on before November?

Do I try to do it all at once? (Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 2004 NaNo. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: 2009 NaNo. Sunday: collapse?)

You know what would be cool?

If I didn't have a pesky day job, and could write full-time.

The Muppets do Bohemian Rhapsody

Because it's Monday after a holiday weekend and we all need this:

Thanks to @mightymur and @syntheticjesso for the link.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The ELCA and abortion, courtesy of @justsnapd8

Last night I posted a link to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America's Social Statement on Abortion, since @KushielsMoon had asked me for it. I had heard a while back that the ELCA (Lutheran denomination of which I am a member) was pro-choice, but I had never looked much into it. Until last night.

Reading the statement, I was quite proud of my church. The wording, though cautious to make sure it doesn't tick off the antis, shows great respect for the woman, and an understanding of what pregnancy means for her. Every time the fetus is mentioned, the woman and her life and rights are also mentioned.

So I posted this:

@justsnapd8 decided to RT my Tweet, changing it to this:

As you can imagine, this yanked my chain. First of all, READ THE DOCUMENT. Second of all, READ THE DOCUMENT AND DON'T LIE. My church deplores the circumstances that lead a woman to be faced with an unwanted pregnancy, but it understands that abortion is a morally justifiable choice.

We went back and forth on this, but she wasn't able to follow the conversation. It was too taxing to be asked to back up her claims with, you know, accurate statements and facts (those silly things we pro-choicers always go on and on about).

So, I guess after she got some sleep, she wrote this blog post. Where she spent most of her time copying and pasting Tweets between @ProChoiceGal and me, instead of talking about the ELCA's statement.

The following is my response (which I copied and pasted here because I doubted it would survive comment moderation on her blog. Alas, it did, but I was going to write about the ELCA's statement anyway, and after writing my response I realized it said most of the stuff I was going to blog. So here it is):

The ELCA's statement is a 12-page document, and you quote three paragraphs? Don't you think you're missing something?

I know you're used to taking things out of context, but the second part of my Tweet to @ProChoiceGal, where we're talking about our church choices, is kind of relevant and important. If you're interested in truth and honesty, then post the second half of my sentence.

But since you like to deal in isolated quotations, let me give you a few more from the ELCA's statement (emphasis mine):

"The language used in discussing abortion should ignore neither the value of unborn life NOR THE VALUE OF THE WOMAN AND HER OTHER RELATIONSHIPS."

"A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born..." "The concern for both the life of the woman and the developing life in her womb express a common commitment to life. This requires that we move beyond the usual 'pro-life' versus 'pro-choice' language in discussing abortion."

The ELCA is NOT part of your "pro-life"/anti-choice camp. Even if you only read the quotes you cherry-picked, the church clearly accepts a woman making a choice to terminate a pregnancy. It does not say abortion should be avoided or outlawed, it says "Abortion ought to be an option only of last resort." It says abortion should be an option available to women! Does that sound like an anti-choice organization to you?

Now, to clarify, if you take the time to look at your Twitter stream, you will see that you are the only who told me to look at Section III. That section says (emphasis mine):

"We also deplore the circumstances that lead a woman to consider abortion as the best option available to her. We are moved particularly by the anguish of women who face unintended pregnancies alone. The panic and isolation of such pregnancies, even in the best of circumstances, can be traumatic. Poverty, lack of supportive relationships, immaturity, oppressive social realities, sexism, and racism can intensify her sense of powerlessness. The prospect of having and caring for a child can seem overwhelming.

"We confess our sin as a community of faith. We often have fallen short in respecting God's gift of life and IN PROVIDING CONDITIONS MORE CONDUCIVE FOR BRINGING NEW LIFE INTO THE WORLD."

Regarding sex, it does say, "Marriage is the appropriate context for sexual intercourse." Notice it says "appropriate," not "only." And it follows that with (emphasis mine): "We affirm that the goodness of sexual intercourse GOES BEYOND ITS PROCREATIVE PURPOSE." Alas! Sex JUST FOR FUN without the intent of conceiving IS ALLOWED!

"Whenever sexual intercourse occurs apart from the intent to conceive, the use of contraceptives is the responsibility of the man and of the woman." These statements go against your "pro-life"/anti-choice beliefs in several ways:

-sex outside of marriage is acknowledged and not condemned.
-sex for fun, too; it's not solely for procreation.
-birth control is encouraged.
-the use of birth control rests on BOTH parties' shoulders (i.e., the "blame" is not placed solely on the woman, like most anti-choicers like to do).

But there's more! If we turn the page, we find this:

"Our congregations and church schools ought to provide sex education in the context of the Christian faith." Wow! Sex ed! Look at that!

"It is especially important that young men and young women be taught to exercise their sexuality responsibly." Notice it doesn't say they should be "taught abstinence-only" -- it says they would EXERCISE their sexuality. They are allowed to be sexually active, but we must teach them how to do so RESPONSIBLY.

"It is important that those who counsel persons faced with unintended pregnancies respect how deeply the woman's pregnancy involves her whole person -- body, mind and spirit -- in relation to all the commitments that comprise her stewardship of life."

"This church recognizes that there can be sound reasons for ending a pregnancy through induces abortion." Doesn't this go against the "pro-life"/anti-choice core beliefs???

"What is determined to be a morally responsible decision in one situation may not be in another... We also need to consider the conditions under which the pregnancy occurred and THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE PREGNANCY FOR THE WOMAN'S LIFE." (emphasis mine)

Regarding politics and law (emphasis mine): "What is legal is not necessarily moral, and WHAT IS MORAL SHOULD NOT NECESSARILY BE ENACTED INTO LAW. LAWS CANNOT ENFORCE CHRISTIAN LOVE, but in principle and application they should be just."

"In our attempts to influence the shaping of public policy, WE SHOULD NOT DISREGARD THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS, but work faithfully through the public process by which justice is sought for all."


Again, doesn't that sound like the OPPOSITE of what the "pro-life"/anti-choice side fights for??

"Because of our conviction that BOTH the life of the woman and the life in her womb must be respectd by law, this church opposes:
-the total lack of regulation of abortion;
-mandatory or coerced abortion or sterilization; -laws that prevent couples from practicing contraception;

Again, I have a hard time hearing the "pro-life"/anti-choice argument there... because IT IS PRO-CHOICE.

It even addresses laws about spousal or parental notification or consent: "While we strongly affirm family communication and support, the law should recognize that in some cases husband or partner involvement in the decision could be unwise or dangerous (e.g., if the relationship is broken or violent). If the law requires parental consent when the woman is a minor, it should specify other trusted adults as alternatives if parental involvement is inappropriate or unsafe."

I recommend that anyone wanting to know the full story read the actual document, all of it; it can be found here. After reading the full document, can you honestly tell me the ELCA is not pro-choice?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Feminists Give Thanks

So... Thanksgiving is tomorrow. I was supposed to write about what I'm Thankful for and submit it to Danine yesterday so she could add it to this post... but I completely forgot. I knew I had to do it, I forgot that yesterday was when I had to do it.

So, please hop on over to Danine's blog to read for what Feminists Give Thanks, then come back here and read my two cents.

I give thanks for my sisters, all of them -- blood and otherwise. Each one has a strength that has surprised me, and that I envy. I'm thankful they have put up with my pig-headed ways and words, and, when necessary, have proven me wrong.

I'm thankful for my mom, who has taken so much cr@p from me I don't know how she put up with me. Even though her habit of playing Devil's Advocate used to royally get on my nerves, I know she's always been on my side, because every time I needed her to -- even when I didn't know I needed her to -- she bared the bear claws and fought for her cub(ettes) without apology.

I'm thankful for teh Internetz, because it keeps me connected to my family and lets me see photos and video of my precious nephew (and I'm thankful that his mom is so camera-happy). But I'm also thankful for the world it has opened up for me -- it has introduced me to other feminists, and let me realize that, by gum, I am a feminist.

It has also shown me some very serious problems with feminism, but it's given me the voice and resources to do something about it.

It has introduced me to people I would never have met otherwise, people like @nueva_voz and @genderbitch and others, and helped me see worlds, their worlds, which I never would have seen otherwise. I have been quick to call out others on their privilege and the limits of their white picket fences, and yet here I was, reveling in my cis privilege and oblivious to their worlds, because my picket fence, though it covers some nice ground, didn't include their experiences.

(Sometimes it all gets a little overwhelming, but I get by with a little help from my Twitter Lists.)

I'm thankful for all my connections. All these people I now know, or know of, and what I'm learning from them.

I'm thankful that I've lived in upper-middle-class neighborhoods in countries where I had access to education and books and computers and Internet, that I've always had enough food and water and clothing and a place to live and a way to pay for medical (and dental) care. And I'm thankful for the people who are helping me find ways to make sure that others have access to all these things as well.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Read about the International Transgender Day of Remembrace. Stats and other info here.

Some blogs to read:
genderbitch's I Will Not Forget Them
Chally at Zero at the Bone
meloukhia at this ain't living
kaninchenzero at FWD/Forward

Also, Queen Emily's post from 2008 on how to mourn

If you want to know who is being mourned, here's a list. Please note it is by no means a comprehensive list.

Arwyn says lots of good things here, especially for us cis folk. Read, learn, remember, act.

If you are on Twitter, you need to follow the ladies I linked above, as well as nueva_voz (when I checked her blog she didn't have a TDOR post, but if she posts one I'll update the links).

This article is also a good read (any day of the year).

And now, I'm going to sit my white(-looking) cis a$$ down and let these women mourn in peace.


From Transgender Day of Remembrace 2009: The Exclusion Question Answered

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Women's Day of Action for Health Care Reform: The Choice Movement and [Trans] Women's Health

The choice movement is not about babies or fetuses. It's about women* and their bodies.

It's about a woman's right to medication and medical care.

For the majority of women, meaning hetero cis women, "medication" translates into birth control and "medical care" translates into pregnancy care: how to have a healthy one, how to terminate one if needed, and how to avoid one in the first place.

When we talk about "women's health" we are, sadly, talking about hetero cis women, and we usually end up talking about birth control and pregnancy, even though hetero cis women do have other medical needs, not related to their reproductive organs.

Now here's the newsflash: not all women are hetero cis women. And guess what? They have medical needs too.

I am pro-choice because I have a right to tell my body what to do, not the other way around. I have a right to use birth control to make my periods regular, to reduce my cramps and other PMS symptoms, and to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

Now, for me personally, I'm lucky that my periods are pretty regular, and I don't really suffer from cramps. (I did have that one issue with the unwanted pregnancy, though.)

For me personally, I'm also lucky that what's between my legs (i.e., my sex) matches what's between my ears (i.e., my gender). That's another medical need I personally do not have. But millions of trans people do.

Just as I have a right to tell my body what to do and what not to do (by using birth control to regulate my periods or keep me from getting pregnant), a trans woman has the same right to control her body and tell it what to do and not do. And, if anything, I'd say a trans woman's needs trump my own; if worse came to worst I could control my body by not having sex or trusting the rhythm method. But a trans woman doesn't have another choice.

Disclaimer: I am new at this. I am probably going to screw up language and I know I am talking with little knowledge of trans medical needs and care. If I do screw up, please let me know, and I will correct myself.

A trans woman's body tries to act like a man's body. It tries to grow hair on her face and have a deep voice and not grow breasts or have the proper curves. Her body betrays her. The only way she can control this is with medication and/or(?) hormone therapy. She needs this medication just as much as, if not more than, I need birth control.

When we talk about women's rights and women's basic health care we need to make sure we also talk about trans women's rights and trans women's basic health care.

They may not need access to birth control, but they need access to hormone therapy (and/or other medical treatment of which I'm ignorant) if they choose to do that.

Then there's the day-to-day medical care. For me, it's things like my yearly well-woman exam, breast exams, so on and so forth. And those other things that come up randomly, like yeast infections, UTIs, etc. When any of those things comes up, I have the right and the ability to go to a doctor to get the care I need to fix the problem. Even if I don't have health insurance to help me pay for it, I know I can go to a clinic, such as Planned Parenthood, and get the care I need.
A trans woman also has the right to this, but at the moment, she does not have the ability to go to a doctor or a clinic to get the medical care she needs. Mainly her medical needs don't "match," according to cis standards, with her gender.
It's been decades now since we cis women have had to resort to the coathanger in a back alley. But for trans people, a back alley butcher with homemade tools is the only medical care they have access to. Part of the reason, I'm sure, is that insurance companies don't approve claims for Pap smears for men, or testicular cancer screenings for women. Part of the reason is doctors' offices don't know how to file paperwork for someone who was born a "man" but is now a woman. (This is a damn stupid reason, but it happens, and it's a barrier to medical care.) Part of the reason is probably that your average doctor or even your average OB/GYN doesn't know how to treat a trans person's needs.
Cis women have a specialist they can go to who knows all the details of their bodies. Why can't trans people have a specialist, a trans doctor, who specializes in treating their medical needs?
Do they even teach this stuff in medical school? I know a while back we pro-choice feminists got all up in arms about an anti-choice bill that wanted to remove the "abortion" pages from medical textbooks. Do those textbooks have any "trans" pages in them to begin with? Is this part of a med student's training? My very uninformed guess is NO.
I know it's easy for us cis women to say we're not qualified to speak up on trans issues because we don't know enough about it. We don't know what their needs are, we don't know what it's like to go through a gender transition. If we don't know what their needs are, how can we campaign for their needs? How can we advocate for their rights, when we don't know that much about the issue?
Do we allow cis men to get away with that cop-out when we're talking about cis women's reproductive rights?
So, guess what. If you don't know, learn. Find out. Ask. Engage trans women in the conversation. They're out there, and I bet they have a lot to say.
Ask your doctors and other medical professionals. They should be the experts, right? Find out if they are.
Does your primary care physician serve trans people? Are they welcome in your PCP's office?

Does your OB/GYN know how to serve the needs of trans women seeking hormone therapy? Does your OB/GYN treat trans men?

Does your local clinic offer services to trans people? Are they made to feel welcome there?

All women have a right to basic health care. This includes access to medication and medical treatment. This includes yearly exams, regular checkups, and any other specific diseases, infections, maladies, or concerns that pop up in-between. This includes birth control, pre- and post-natal care, labor, and abortions. And it also damn better include trans people's needs.
Even if the details of the execution (birth control v. hormone therapy) are different, the moral principle is the same. If you are pro-choice, as I like to proudly call myself, and fight for your right to basic medical care specific to your body and reproductive organs, then you need to also fight for a trans person's right to do the same.
We are feminists. We fight because the patriarchy has oppressed us for years, and we're not going to take it anymore. But we need to be aware that we are not the only group who has been and is oppressed, and I for one want to make sure that I am not oppressing anyone else. I don't want to do to others what has been done unto me.

If we leave trans women out of the discussions of and demands for women's health, then we are oppressing that group of people. And that goes against everything feminists fight for.

The health care reform debate has been hijacked by talk of abortion, which is sad because women's health care is so much more than that, even if we're only looking at the limited cis woman's definition of health care. But in all these talks, in all these calls and letters and petitions, can wen please include trans women? Can we let their voices be heard? They need health care reform more than any of us.
*See fourth paragraph from the end. But first, read all the paragraphs between the asterisk and the fourth paragraph from the end. And then read the last three paragraphs. All that to say, "women" means different things to different people; we need to be inclusive of all women.