#181 – Nothing Ever Changes

We fight, we protest, we share our pain…and for what?

Content Note: Graphic Descriptions of Sexual Violence
A few years ago, I had a sit-down with an Ohio state lawmaker. He had proposed a North Carolina style bathroom bill for Ohio. He laid out the basics of the bill in a press release or a policy statement on his website or something like that, I don’t remember which. But in the news story I watched, he invited comment from the trans community. Like other conservative lawmakers, he was eager to make a show of claiming that he didn’t think of trans people as predators, its just that giving us rights makes other people vulnerable. Of course he didn’t frame it that way, but its exactly what he was saying.
I emailed him, and was surprised when he responded offering to buy me coffee and meet with me to discuss it. We met at a Starbucks by a mall close to me. He was friendly. He was polite. At least at first. We opened the meeting by talking about Leelah Alcorn, her death was still fresh in our minds at this point. He insisted on dead naming her. He did that childish thing where I would say Leelah, and he would respond by saying her dead name. It wasn’t the best way to start the conversation.
But as my friend Jonah and I sat there talking to him, he seemed receptive. He nodded and admitted several times that he had just not realized how diverse the trans community was, how many challenges we faced, and how difficult laws like this would make things for us. By the end of the conversation, I don’t know if I was confident we’d changed his mind, but he seemed changed enough that I had hope. Not a chance we was going to turn into a trans rights champion or anything. But maybe he’d at least realize the bathroom bill was a bad idea and drop it.
We weren’t the only meeting he took. He met with several other members of the trans community. They all told him the same things that Jonah and I did. And in every conversation, he acted surprised to hear what he was hearing. It was new to him every time.
Via email, Jonah and I pressed him with questions. Jonah dug up statistics about sexual assault in this representative’s district. He asked why those statistics didn’t spur him into action, but the idea of trans people in bathrooms did. I sent him a report from a group of domestic violence and prevention organizations stating THEY didn’t think bathroom bills were the answer. I asked him why he thought these experts we wrong. He had no answers for either.
It became very clear over time that he was making a show of having the conversation, but he was not listening. Its one thing to have a conversation. Its another thing entirely to actually listen. It seemed Representative Becker was very interested in being able to say he had the conversation. Not so much the actual listening part.
It also seems that was very much the case with Christine Blasey- Ford and her testimony about her experience with Brett Kavanaugh. There was a big show of having the hearing. She was asked deeply personal and invasive questions. She was challenged and put on display on the biggest possible stage. We heard lots of flowery language that sounded like compassion from the Republican lawmakers that grilled her. They made one hell of a show about having this hearing. But they never really listen, do they? Lawmakers love a good dog and pony show. Let’s get out the cameras, the microphones, the fancy nameplates. Let’s make a good show of it, so we can do absolutely nothing in response.
Whenever there’s a sexual assault story that makes the news, we see scores of people come forward with their stories. Some as catharsis, some as solidarity, some as a call to DO something about this problem. And it seems nothing ever changes.
I’ve never experienced sexual assault. Sexual harassment? Definitely, but never assault. And I know how gross I feel when thinking back to my experiences, and how reluctant I am to talk about them, I can only imagine what its like to be a sexual assault survivor in this environment over the last few weeks and months.
But we don’t have to imagine do we? We all know someone who is affected. Whether we realize it or not, we do. And as this show has always been about amplifying the voices of the marginalized, that’s what today is going to be about. We have three brave individuals who’ve decided to share their stories with us today and their thoughts and feelings about existing in our world and in our current political climate as sexual assault survivors.
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If you’re a survivor of sexual violence and you’re looking for a supportive community, check out A Voice For The Innocent. It’s a great org, run by people I trust.
Voter registration deadlines have passed in some states, and not in others. Check here to see what’s going on in your state and how to register if there’s still time.
If you want to help people get to the polls, check out Carpool Vote. You can register there as someone who needs a ride, or as someone willing to give one.

#180 – Is It Okay To Laugh?

Robin Tran has a new special, and spoiler alert…its awesome <3

I’ve not made a secret of the fact that I’m sort of uncomfortable with standup comedy as a medium. It seems really difficult to find standup comedy that isn’t misogynist, homophobic, transphobic, or makes jokes of things that I just don’t find funny, even if they’re not actually terrible jokes. It’s often just not my style. But my guest this week has a new special on Hulu called Don’t Look at Me, and it’s fantastic. Her name is Robin Tran, she’s a trans standup comedian. We had a great talk about the ways trans folks can fit into comedy and her own journey with mental health and using comedy as a coping mechanism for that pain.

Her special can be found here.

Robin is @robintran04 on twitter

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#179 – What even is Regret?

Danielle spent some time in a rough place. She thought she regretted getting her bottom surgery. Turns out it was more complicated than that…

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#178 – Invisible Histories

One of the most annoying ideas in our public discourse about queer and trans folks is that we are a new phenomenon. I’ve seen enough conservative pearl clutching about this new trans things to last my entire lifetime. Its insidious. You see it in the subtext of every breathless conservative thinkpiece. This new phenomenon, this new trend, this new fad. My friends, this is not only just factually incorrect, its also dangerous. Pretending like queer and trans people only exist recently in history robs us of significant pieces of our existence. Our history is in fact the history of humanity itself. You find people from all parts of the world, in all cultures, of all backgrounds who don’t fit cisgender or heterosexual norms. We have ALWAYS existed.

The fact that the conversation about us has reached a new level of awareness does not, in fact, mean that we somehow just showed up on the world stage. We have always been here, and always will be. Its this context that makes illustrating and preserving queer and trans history so very very important. There are lots of people doing this important work, and today we’re going to be talking to one such person. His name is Josh Burford, and Josh is one of the founders of the Invisible Histories Project.

https://www.invisiblehistory.org/

A video of Birmingham’s first pride celebration – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeA1rBfrkng

 

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#177 – SESTA/FOSTA, and What’s Up With Patreon?

Patreon, sex work, and The Gaytheist Manifesto… they all, apparently, have a thing in common

Hey, before the regularly scheduled gaytheisting, a quick note…

I launched a special thing on patreon where anyone who signs up before Sept 30th at the 2 dollar level or higher is going to get a sweet poster with some words from the outro of the show on it. check out patreon.com/thegaytheistmanifesto to see a picture and sign up to get one. Love you friends <3

 

If you follow me on social media at all, you might notice that I’ve been pretty miffed lately about some of the things Patreon has been doing. To recap, after our episode about TERFs, my patreon page was marked as adult content. What this means is that it was not searchable on the Patreon site. You had to type the URL into your browser to get to it. Because of the way credit card payment processing works, it also means that my payout was delayed. And this seems pretty shady right. We do an episode about TERFs, then a trans woman’s podcast gets marked as adults only. It’d be pretty easy to see a connection between those two things. But the trust is, I’m not sure I’m on the TERFs radar. I don’t get the kind of hate some other trans women do online, so I’m honestly not even sure those folks know I exist. So as much as it might seem there was something nefarious going on, after doing some thinking, it was probably just because a common euphemism for genitalia was in the show notes. Now its only fair for me to point out that between the time I recorded this interview and the day of release here, Patreon got me taken care of. I was able to manually pay myself out, and someone reviewed my page and removed the adult content flag. So they did do the right thing here. It still took them too long and caused way too much stress on my part. Its just important to know that as you listen to today’s interview, Patreon did do the right thing here and all is mostly well, aside from the fact that it took so damn long. Anyways…

I was out in the Baltimore area to interview a friend of mine for this other podcast project I’m doing. I brought this up in conversation, and lo and behold she actually happened to know what’s going on with all this, and its far far bigger than podcasting and how we monetize podcasts. Her name is Shanon Nebo, and she’s one of the creators of the website fetsie.com, which we’ll talk more about later on, but because of her experience with Fetsie and sex work in general, she actually knows what’s going on here.

 

Check out Fetsie here

Further reading on SESTA/FOSTA from Vice NewsElectronic Frontier Foundation,  and Huffington Post

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#176 – Conversation with a Gender Therapist

Dara Hoffman-Fox, LPC is a gender therapist who is also non binary

Today I’m super stoked to welcome Dara Hoffman-Fox, LPC onto the show. Dara is a therapist who specializes in working with queer, trans, and gender non-conforming clients.

http://discoveryourgenderidentity.com/  <- use coupon code “podcast” to get 10% off to order Dara’s book!

http://darahoffmanfox.com/about-dara-hoffman-fox/

https://www.youtube.com/user/darahoffmanfox/videos

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#175 – A Polite Conversation with Eiynah

Eiynah is an ex-Muslim, and Twitter is stoked

I feel like if there’s any group of people who have to feel like political footballs basically all the time its gotta be ex-Muslims. Especially ex muslims who tend toward the leftist end of the political spectrum. I’ve seen all manner of white people and never muslims explaining to ex Muslims what their background is, how they’re supposed to feel, how they’re ex-Muslimming wrong, and to be honest it just looks super effing exhausting. So to have a talk about it we have atheist Twitter’s favorite ex Muslim, host of the Polite Conversations podcast, Eiynah.

https://soundcloud.com/politeconversations

https://twitter.com/NiceMangos

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#174 – Teaching While Trans

We talk a lot about trans kids in schools. Trans teachers? Not so much

Usually, when we talk about queer and trans folks in schools, we’re talking about kids. We don’t have that conversation about the teachers often enough. I happen to have a dear friend who is a trans teacher, and they’re on the show this week to talk about their experience.

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#173 – wtf even is a TERF

TERFs are dangerous. Here’s a bit about them.

Back in June on episode 163, we did an episode with Elle Clayton. She’s the teespring creator who got her designs removed from the site after TERFs mass reported her and the company made the super shitty decision to bow to them and acknowledge the idea that TERF is some unacceptable slur. We spent a bit of that episode talking about TERFs and how dangerous they can be, but we’re overdue for a deep dive. If you’re not familiar, TERF is an acronym that stands for trans exclusionary radical feminist. You’ll hear more on the definitions later, but for now just know these are a particularly nasty and hateful group of people who are absolutely hell bent on excluding trans people not just from certain social circles, but from public life in general. They regularly bully and harass trans people, even going as far as goading people into suicide.

I was reminded of this by an article i read in Forbes of all places. The article is called “Lesbians Want A Church Of Their Own And IRS Approves.” And my initial reaction was like “okay sweet, lesbian church, i can get into that.” It kind of sounds like one of those stunts the satanic church pulls to point out the absurdity of the privilege religious organizations still enjoy in our society. But its not as good as all that. No its actually pretty awful. This place is literally a TERF church. The Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft. According to their website, Here’s who can join…

“All Women and Girls are welcome to join Pussy Church as congregants. We also need women who can serve Pussy Church in growing and strengthening our congregation. If you are able to offer your time, skills, money, or other resources in support of Pussy Church, please contact us.

A woman is an adult female human. A girl is a minor female human. The Pussy Church serves Women and Girls only. Males are not permitted to participate, regardless of how they identify. We expressly reject the concepts of gender identity, transgenderism, and gender as being meaningful to defining what a Woman or Girl is.”

So fucking gross.

Make no mistake about it TERFs are dangerous. These are not simply people who have a different opinion. These aren’t harmless, ineffective bigots screaming at their computer monitors we can all laugh at. These people want us dead. Many of them have said as much.

They bully us off of social media, try to get us fired from our jobs for speaking up against them, and cry victimhood when we push back.

A dear friend of mine, Danielle Muscato has lots and lots of experience dealing with these kinds of people, and she’s joining me today to talk about who TERFs are, what they do, how dangerous they are, and most importantly, how we can fight them.

Danielle on Patreon

Danielle on Twitter

and Danielle’s podcast, The Resist Podcast

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Out theme music is pretty sweet yeah? The song is called Amy, I Love You by the band Cloudkicker. We use it under Creative Commons Licensing.

#172 – The Pop Culture Hero Coalition

Let’s talk about being a real life superhero

Far too many of us in the queer and trans community can tell stories for DAYS about being bullied for who we are. For being different. For standing out from the crowd in different ways. Our childhoods were filled with bad advice like “oh just ignore them and they’ll stop” even though they don’t. We’re told “it gets better” as a platitude without hearing anything about what the people in our lives are actually doing to make it better…

And if you’ve listened to the show for long enough, you’ll certainly have heard me go on and on about the power that fandom has to help people dealing with this stuff. I’ve told my own story several times about how Star Trek helped me figure out and come to terms with who I was, and how it helped me escape the fear I felt as a kid knowing how different I was and how I would be treated by my peers if they knew.

With those things in mind, I was pretty excited to learn about the organization we’re going to talk about on the show today. The Pop Culture Hero Coalition is the first-ever organization that uses the universal appeal of comics, film & TV to create anti-bullying programs at pop culture events, and in schools and communities. Our guest this week is Chase Masterson. You might remember her as Leeta from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and she’s also one of the co-founders of the Pop Culture Hero Coalition

http://www.popculturehero.org/

https://twitter.com/superheroirl

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