What’s Hot Right Now (11/7/11)

Williams Institute, DC Hate Crimes Hearing, Think Progress/lgbt, OLB Research, The Trans Women’s Anti-Violence Project, plus 

We have long been grateful to the Williams Institute, a University of California Los Angeles think tank advancing sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. In DC we are particularly indebted to the Institute for its involvement and financial support of the current Needs Assessment for our trans community, since the last one was done over 10 years ago. This study is organized and administered by the DC Trans Coalition (DCTC), and more info on it can be found on the DCTC homepage. Those of you familiar with the shameful epidemic of violence against trans folks in your nation’s capital, including two murders this year, can recognize how vital this new Needs Assessment will be, the research and data it will reveal to judges, legislators, policymakers, media, and the public, in bringing about systemic and sustainable change.

On that subject, since we have been involved and are tracking grassroots actions to affect that change, we want to commend a few of DC TLGB Police Watch and November 17 Transgender Day of Action coalition partners for their riveting testimony before the DC City Council Judiciary Committee’s Hearing on Hate Crimes this past Wednesday.

In particular, DC’s GLOV (Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence) which works vigorously to reduce violence against against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals through community outreach, education, and monitoring cases to ensure that the rights and dignity of LGBT victims are respected and protected. Three representatives from GLOV testified, include a young man who was the victim of a horrible example of LGBT violence. Jason Terry well represented  DCTC, and his full written testimony (which he ably summarized in 5 minutes of live testimony), now on the DCTC homepage, is worth study as a sort of manifesto of what we are all talking about. We urge everyone to review the tape to see also the testimony from the Metropolitan Police Department and the counsel to the Office of the US Attorney (since DC doesn’t have statehood that’s the best we’ve got for now) telling those assembled they have no answers for the current spike in crimes against trans or don’t know why these crimes get under-charged (simple assault for rape, for example) and unsolved at a rate less than half in comparison for other crimes, 20% and 50%, respectively.

Special thanks go to Ethan St. Pierre and TransFM for the live interview this week with Ruby Corado, well-known DC trans activist and leader, and me, on the upcoming Transgender Day of Action happening in conjunction with the DC Transgender Day of Remembrance. It will really help us get the word out. Also, the poster for this joint event is available now and we hope more people would lift it, print it, distribute it, or put it on their homepage.

Ethan is a great activist and the curator for the International Transgender Day of Remembrance Registry, a special resource, a place to put things in perspective whenever you think you are too tired or discouraged to do one more thing.are too tired to do one more thing.

New and related information sources on tumblr.com are getting a lot of attention and deserve highlighting, too, including of course DC TLGB Police Watch along with The Trans Women’s Anti-Violent Project .

It’s not too early to point your attention to the upcoming Second Annual Momentum Conference across the river from DC in Arlington, Virginia. We attended last year and found it to be unique in terms of the scope of the program matched by the breadth of interests represented by the diverse attendees. It quickly sold out last year so we encourage you to get tickets early. Its mission is to bridge the baffling dichotomies our culture creates around sexuality by providing a safe place to listen, discuss, and learn about sexualities and gender without the fear of reprisal or shaming, a space for acceptance and appreciation of diversity, including for those in the LGBTQ, sex-work, BDSM, and non-monogamous communities.

And, what about Bank Transfer Day? We’ve been tracking this and are impressed with the results. This week it was reported that 650,000 people have moved their money from the large corporate banks back to community banks and non-profit credit unions. This is a form of civil disobedience that slams corporate greed and eliminates our paying for it. Although explicitly separate from the Occupy movement, it clearly was born from the same point of view.

We appreciate Think Progress‘s thriving LGBT reporting, which recently brought to our attention the work of OLB Research Institute and its recent report done with George Mason University and Indiana University on the health advocacy implications gay and bi men’s sexual behavior. They have further dispelled the myth that all gay and bi men have (and should have) anal sex, and showed that the ratings for pleasure were higher among older men and frequency of orgasm was higher when with a relationship partner. Equally interesting to us is the fact that OLB Research Institute is an arm of On Line Buddies network including Manhunt, an online service matching male partners for fun and games. The vertical integration of this enterprise represents a nascent model proving once again that those who love sex can become credible and respected sources or research.

Recently, Dan and Alison were in New York City meeting with colleagues and friends. Alison traveled from Zucotti Park with Occupy Wall Street to Washington Square Park to the amazing culminating occupation of Times Square on October 15. Saturday night while all the theater and party goers were trying to get to their destinations, we stood immovable. The peaceful crush of people itself conveyed the quality and bearing of the 99%, their collective goodness and good intentions alive in the very air. I’ve never spooned standing up with so many people I didn’t know than that night.

While in NYC, Dan attended the Singularity Summit 2011, a mixed bag but with at least a few transhumanists who are focusing on improving the here and now as much as speculating on potential outcomes of someday technologies and policies. “The ideals of social justice were served by an outstanding presentation from Jaan Tallinn, a founder of Skype and Kazaa,” Dan reported. Background on “singularity” and “transhumanism” is readily available, if you are not put off by its ivory tower.

Wayne Besen’s Truth Wins Out continues be front burner for us. In the last couple of weeks, we applauded its campaign partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center to target destructive ex-gay “conversion therapy.” Since then, Truth Wins Out called out Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum for promoting “Christian Sharia,” and asking the only question that matters, “Is Rick Santorum flirting with tyranny and treason?” Most notably, Truth Wins Out led the fierce blowback against Catholic extremist Daniel Avila for a radical article he wrote in Roman Catholic Church’s publication, The Boston Pilot, that suggested that the devil may be responsible for making people gay. Avila’s resignation from his job as an advisor with with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops quickly followed. So we urge you all to sign up for Truth Wins Out updates and donate if you can.

In closing . . . “Gay is good,” said octogenerian Frank Kameny who left us on October 11, which happened to be National Coming Out Day and the second anniversary of the National Equality MarchLate last week, his bodily remains laid in state at DC’s Carnegie Library so elected officials, veterans, and his hundreds of close friends and admirers could pay their final respects. “Gay is good” is not only true, it is the essence of an entire movement determined to show the world that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people make wonderful, creative, and priceless contributions to the world. Thanks, Frank, for setting our sail, see you later.

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner

Alison Gardner is co-founder of VenusPlusX, and writes frequently on global sexual freedom, American fundamentalists exporting hate and homophobia, and grassroots activism.
Alison Gardner