Transgender center launches intersex group

When a baby is born the first question most people ask is “is it a girl or a boy?” The doctor takes a look at the baby’s genitals, if they see a penis the child is declared a boy, if the see a vulva the child is called a girl. But sometimes a child’s anatomy is not that clear cut, and sometimes the genetics, physiology or anatomy of person is more complex than the penis=boy, vulva=girl equation. The umbrella term “intersex” is used to describe people whose physical bodies, hormones or chromosomes lie between the male and female ends of the spectrum.

According to the Intersex Society of North America somewhere between 1 in 1,500 and 1 in 2,000 babies born in this country have genitals that fall between the strict male/female dichotomy. Additionally, several genetic conditions exist where people who may appear strictly male or strictly female have chromosomal combinations other than XX or XY, a combination of XX and XY, or the chromosomes associated with one gender and the body associated with another. With so many intersex people walking around, there is a fairly good chance that you know one.

But according to “Koomah,” the founder of the group, very few spaces exist for intersex people to talk about their lives. “Most of the social and support groups that I’ve encountered are online,” says Koomah. “I’ve encountered a handful of people both in and outside of [Houston's] Transgender Center that are intersex-bodied but didn’t know anyone else who was. When I mentioned I was and spoke with them more in depth about my experience it seemed to be a great relief that their experience isn’t the only one.”

Koomah realised that their was a need for a group that would allow the intersex community to talk about their experiences. This realization led to the founding of the Transgender Centers Intersex group, which will have its first meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 pm at the Center (604 Pacific). The group is designed as an informal get-to-gether for those with intersex bodies and their spouses.

Koomah explains that while the transgender and intersex communities share many experiences the terms are not interchangeable. “While some intersex people do identify as transgender and some may choose to transition, sometimes the experience of being intersex is different,” says Kumayama. “Being intersex in childhood is radically different than the experience of other non-intersex folks, explaining your body to doctors can be scary, and making choices on things like transition or relationships are easier when you have people whom you share similar experience to talk with.”

—  admin

Houston Aeros’ Justin Fontaine suspended for anti-gay tweet

Justin Fontaine

Houston’s American Hockey League team, the Aeros, has suspended player Justin Fontaine for two games after a homophobic tweet from the right winger.

The suspension was handed down from the Aeros’ parent NHL team the Minnesota Wild, who issued a press statement apologizing for Fontaine’s “inappropriate” comment.

Fontaine has since removed the offending tweet and tweeted an apology, saying “Twitter rookie and it came out totally wrong. It was a roommate battle, nothing more.” Missing from Fontaine’s apology was any recognition that it is cruel to use a term for queer people to deride something.

The issue is not that Fontaine used a naughty word, or that he did it in a public venue. The issue is that Fontaine seems to think that words meaning LGBT people are synonyms for “a thing I don’t like.” It’s hard to imagine that that equation does not stem from a dislike for LGBT people.

—  admin

Dallas baker wins Food Network challenge

To a pastry chef, the term “piece o’ cake” probably pisses you off. (Don’t even get ‘em started on “easy as pie.”) Cake is hard! Especially when you’re trying to impress the judges on a national network, commemorating the re-release of the most popular animated film of all time.

But Dallas’ Bronwen Weber of Frosted Art Bakery and Studio made it look, well, like a piece o’ cake Sunday night, when she won the Food Network’s Lion King-themed bake-off.

Weber’s dynamic interpretation of the villainous Scar in mid-leap bested all the other competitors, with the show airing the second weekend when the new 3D Lion King claimed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office.

This is nothing new for the gay-friendly Weber, who last year designed “pride cake” cupcakes with rainbows and HRC symbols. She has won 14 medals from the Food Network, including eight first-place citations — three more than her nearest competitor. The episode airs again tonight at 7 p.m.

You can find Weber’s treats at FrostedArt.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

We’re quickly heading towards zero major gay accomplishments by the Obama administration this term

With the imminent demise of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” compromise that did not, in any case, repeal DADT (even though the NYT and other lazy journalists like to claim it did), and the imminent demise of the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives, President Obama is about to have accomplished a record zero of his top promises to the gay community. A record that, if we lose the House, will likely remain at zero for the next six years, if the President is so lucky as to win re-election.

We were told that the President simply couldn’t get to his promises to our community in his first two years in office because we are a nation at war, and he had to work on health care reform, the economy, and many other issues that were meant to believe were far more important than our basic civil and human rights.

And now, after all the pandering by all the pro-Obama apologists who said that we were wrong to ask the President to address our community’s needs during his first two years in office, that we were wrong to warn of the imminent loss of a Democratically-controlled House, and how that loss would stymie gay rights progress for years to come, and that we were wrong to suggest that this President would never, ever get to addressing a real repeal of DADT and DOMA, and the passage of ENDA – after all that, it turns out we were right.

Barack Obama is on the precipice of accomplishing a grand total of none of his major promises to gay and lesbian Americans in return for our supporting his candidacy with our votes and our money. I’m not smelling change.

What do the apologists, who criticized our criticism at every turn, say now?

1. That it’s not Obama’s fault that we’re about to lose the House? Perhaps, though I would argue that it’s precisely Obama’s fault that Democrats are in such a sorry state. After all, who’s the leader of our party? Who took the lead in setting our agenda last year, and took the lead in dumbing down every single Democratic accomplishment from the stimulus to health care reform so that none of them would have a significant enough impact to win over the American people, cure our economic and health care woes, and thus create a strong case for maintaining Democratic control of Washington?

(Obama was warned that the stimulus wasn’t big enough, that the economy wouldn’t rebound fast enough, and that it would not only hurt our chances for a second stimulus, but would also hurt our chances at retaining control of Congress. And what did he do? He asked for a stimulus that he knew was one half the size of what was needed, and then handed 35% of it to Republicans in the form of near-useless (in stimulus terms) tax cuts. And now the economy is f’d, the voters are pissed, and Democrats are about to lose control of the House. This is a class-A f-up. And it’s one that the President walked right into, with full knowledge of the consequences. But he did it anyway. And now we’re f’d. Tell me again why I shouldn’t be pissed at the man?)

If Barack Obama’s fear of confrontation, and his incessant need to compromise on everything, regardless of whether such compromise was necessary, didn’t set the agenda for the Democratic fall, and fail, then what did?

But let’s put that aside for a moment.

2. It clearly was Barack Obama’s choice not to move ahead with any of his major promises to the gay community in the first two years of his administration. No one else is to blame other than the President for that simple decision. That decision may have killed any chance of ever passing ENDA, or repealing DADT and DOMA, for the entire four years that President Obama in office. It was Barack Obama’s choice not to even touch DADT until this year, and then not to push for a full repeal, but rather some make-shift compromise that may, or may not, lead to some kind of change in the policy at some future date (though what kind of change, for the better or the worse, isn’t a guarantee). We simply weren’t important enough, and now it appears we are getting nothing.

What is the point anymore?

Democrats like Andy Tobias lecture us like we’re children, like we’re naive to expect President Obama to actually keep his explicit promises to us during the campaign. We were told that Obama would be our “fierce advocate.” We were told that by Barack Obama himself. That, my friends, has turned out to be a crock. The President is not our advocate, and on no issue, gay or otherwise, is the man fierce. Yes, he appointed a lot of gays to decent, but not the most senior, positions in his administration. Is it somehow now a great accomplishment for a Democrat not to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in hiring and firing for lower and mid level jobs, but to discriminate on such a basis for cabinet jobs, senior White House position, and positions on the Supreme Court? Tell me again who is gay in the senior reaches of this White House – can anyone name even one person? And how about the Cabinet? And spare us the “head of OPM is gay” line. First off, OPM isn’t a cabinet-level position. Second, the appointee’s previous job was running the National Zoo. He’s not involved in any serious discussion of federal policy on the largest issues of the day. And if he is involved on gay issues, he’s clearly failed.

So what was the point of voting for President Obama, over Hillary, for example, if you’re gay? If he wasn’t going to keep his top promises to our community, then how was he any better than Hillary, or any other Democrat running at the time? Does anyone honestly think Hillary wouldn’t have appointed more gays than any previous administration? Does anyone honestly think Hillary wouldn’t have signed the Hate Crimes bill? President Obama has done nothing on gay civil rights that any other Democrat wouldn’t have done in his stead. Such is not a definition of fierce advocate. It’s the definition of business as usual. And it’s not a very compelling argument to justify voting for one Democrat over another in the future, if words and promises are meaningless, and the candidate’s actions in office are indistinguishable from any other Democrat.

And finally, there’s DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias’ favorite argument. Sure the President lied to us, Tobias seems to imply, but he’s a nicer liar than John McCain would have been. And Andy is right. As much as we seem to have now been betrayed by the Obama campaign’s false promise of hope, John McCain would have been an even bigger liar and worse president (though, at least, McCain wouldn’t have lied about what was coming). But as I’ve written before, I’m not a big fan of being betrayed by friends, even when I know my enemies would have treated me worse. I expect my enemies to treat me like a pariah. I don’t expect my friends to do the same. And in many ways, it’s worse when the indifference, and the lies, come from a friend rather than an enemy.

But, yes, Andy is right. A lying president who has repeatedly endorsed bigotry against LGBT Americans is still better than a flaming bigot who almost always endorses bigotry against us. I guess. And I’m sure Andy will keep touting his increasingly long, and ridiculously thin, list of mostly-minor Obama accomplishments on gay issues, such as our invitation to an Easter Egg roll, and the cocktail party thrown to make up for the President’s lawyers having invoked incest and pedophilia to justify his defense of the despicably bigoted Defense of Marriage Act. The President is still defending DOMA and DADT in court. And conservatives are having a field day quoting the President’s supposed new-found opposition to gay marriage (which is a lot like his new-found support for offshore drilling – kind of hard to explain a valid reason to explain either flip-flop) in order to justify their own bigoted views. But hey, we’ll always have that Easter Egg roll.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Barack Obama is not an agent of change. He’s not out to fundamentally transform our government or our country, and he’s never going to be anyone’s fierce advocate. If gay voters want to hand their money and their ballots over to someone who won’t keep his major promises, who won’t significantly advance the cause of their civil rights, who will outright work against those promises as we attempt to advance our civil rights in courts of law, but who at least won’t be as big a bigot as John McCain, then they are certainly welcome to support him with all their hearts and wallets. I for one am not feeling an overwhelming desire to donate another ,000 to, or raise another ,000 for, a candidate who promises me the moon and then seems almost embarrassed of me the morning after the election.

Perhaps it is naive. But I expect politicians to at least try to keep their major promises. I never said they have to succeed. But they have to at least TRY. Our fierce advocate seems fiercely indifferent. And I fear that an increasing number of Democratic voters now share his indifference.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright