Operation Rubber Storm, 1993 – Memorable Events In My Life

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This is the first of  a new series I call Memorable Events In My Life. One of the more memorable experiences I had in HIV/AIDS activism was the time a small group of us (sadly two are no longer with us including Michael Quercio who livened things up a bit), decided to make a point about a high school’s refusal to have condoms available in school or offer comprehensive sexual health/HIV Prevention classes. This was the third year of annual event falling on Valentine’s Day, (or in this case the closest school day to February 14th),  which, of course, falls during National Condom Week. We held these annual events, at high schools and youth hangouts every Valentine’s Day. We called these Operation Rubber Storm and what’s part of our overall outreach effort we called the Rubber Posse.

I created a safer sex/HIV prevention Valentine’s Day card and we stuffed it along with condoms and lube into a zip lock bag. On this particular day we targeted a school that two members of our team happened to attend. We all bundled into our vehicles and headed to the high school. This all happened while a bit of a blizzard was happening, perhaps it was on omen.

We arrived at the school and dutifully set up just off school property. When it became obvious that we weren’t reaching as many as we hoped because busses were loaded back washstand up the school driveway. Well Michael in a spontaneous whim, decided that wouldn’t do. So he walked up the drive to the first bus and began distributing our Valentine’s packets. Soon the principal came storming down the drive yelling call 911, call 911! We retreated back to school entrance. When the principal got there he tried to block us from reaching the students. So one or us, probably Michael, tossed condoms over the head of the principal to the students. A few missed the students an landed by the principal, treating them like they were poison, kicked them to the side of the road..

By then a reporter had arrived, (we sent out a press release). His report is below.

Our final tactic was to toss the packets through the open windows of the buses to the eager students inside. Michael even emulated basketball players and slam dunked some packets through the window.

By then the police had arrived. I think the officer was bemused by the goings on. Nevertheless he dutifully asked if we’d gone in the school. We of course said no, if the question was worded differently to include school grounds we might have gotten in trouble but thankfully he just shooed us away. Here’s how the local newspaper reported the event:

Worcester Telegram Gazette

February 13, 1993

CONDOM GROUP SENDS VALENTINES \ SOUTH HIGH PRINCIPAL DEFENDS TURF

Author: Clive McFarlane; Staff Reporter

WORCESTER – In the early hours of yesterday’s snowstorm, a high-spirited group of local activists called the Rubber Posse, stormed the gates of South High Community School, unloading condoms and preaching safe sex.

The group included Michael Quercio, one of President Clinton’s Faces of Hope, Jerry Cheney, the coordinator of the group, and “Bud,” a former South High student who is HIV positive.

In an effort to attain maximum impact, the posse moved onto the school property to intercept students boarding buses.

INTERDICTED BY PRINCIPAL

The trio, however, was quickly chased back through the gates by School Principal James Garvey, who told them the school has an adequate health education curriculum.

“Do not let your principal stop you from getting life-saving information,” shouted Cheney, as Garvey positioned himself between the posse and his students.

Suddenly, a shower of pink valentine cards sailed towards Garvey and the students. The cards, tossed by the posse member, held information about “waiting for sex, safer sex and how to use a condom.” They also held a pair of condoms.

The cards fell to the ground around Garvey and he nudged them with his boots to the side of the road.

POLICE ARRIVE

Then out of the snow flurry came the flashing lights of a police car. The car pulled up to the posse and a middle-aged officer rolled his window down and asked if the group had been into the school building. Quercio said no, and asked the officer if he needed some condoms. The officer opened his door and spat on the ground.

Not everyone held the same disdain for the group which described itself as a multicultural/multi-agency HIV/AIDS prevention team and boast of distributing some 32,000 condoms and several thousands safer-sex fliers over the last year.

South High students Leo A. Goodwin and Naya A. Byfield, two of a number of students who accepted the group’s valentine packages yesterday, said they have no problems with promoting condoms in their schools.

“I am involved in an HIV program and I believe it’s a good thing that this group is doing,” said Goodwin. “They should do more of it.”

“Not so,” according to Edward Thompson, a parent liaison at the school. “Students should be taught abstinence.”

Educating kids on what they need to do to protect themselves is one of the purposes of their mission, according to Cheney. The other purpose, he said, is to state their displeasure to the School Committee’s continued opposition in allowing condoms to become an integral part of the school’s health curriculum.

“We are concerned that there is a number of gaps in their health curriculum, and we are saying that we and a number of other agencies can augment what they are currently doing,” Cheney said.

But according to Garvey, the School Department is offering a comprehensive K-12 health education curriculum. Freshmen at South High, as at all Worcester public high shools, are required to take a year and half health and safety program, for example, while sophmores are given a sexuality course of 20 class periods, subject to parental approval, he said. In addition, outside health educators are brought in periodically to augment the school’s program.

School Committee member Stephen E. Mills agreed with Garvey.

“I am not against introducing condoms to students and I not against those who take part in these distributions,” he said. “But I belive (condoms) are readily accessible to anyone who wants them. It is my feelings that over the past 30 years the school has taken on a number of social issues that they should not have shouldered. Our job is to educate the children, not to become a convenience store.”

Caption:
Michael Quercio offered free condoms to people leaving South High Community School yesterday, including man, above, who shook his head “no’ when Quercio said: “Take some home to the kids.’ PHOTO

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Thoughts on Another World AIDS Day

Soon after my first coming out early in 1987 I attended a workshop on AIDS. Soon I was volunteering at a new organization called AIDS Project Worcester. I attended the October 11, 1987 March on Washington that included the first display of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

In January of 1988 I was hired as an Advocate and Gay Outreach Coordinator at AIDS Project Worcester. Those events set in motion a drastic change in my life. Soon Iwas visiting patients in hospitals and trying to secure benefits they were entitled to like Social Security. Before too long one of my clients who had become a friend, lay dying in a room at Ul Mass. Medical Center. I was there as he took his last, breaths of life. It was a sound I will never forget and still haunts me when I recall that day. My friend died that day, the first of way too many friends to die.

I channeled my frustration, sadness and anger into action. I started an outreach effort to reach young gay/bi youth, hustlers (male prostitutes), gay men and injection drug users. Later we expanded to also reach out to female sex workers. I spent many a eerie night on the streets and parks of Worcester carrying my bag of condoms, lubricant, safer sex cards I designed and, before the days of needle exchange, bleach and instructions to disinfect syringes and other implements.

As illnesses and deaths continued I joined with ACT-UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) for a number of actions. I also organized my own rabble rousing to combat fear and ignorance.

It is hard to explain to those who weren’t there just how your life changed. I changed agencies to focus more on prevention but, because I involved people with HIV as outreach workers and part of our school HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, I was still very involved in the struggles of friends and colleagues living with HIV and in far too many cases dying of complications related to AIDS.

A couple years ago I chronicled the lives of these amazing people. You can read my tribute to those lost here: https://jerbearinsantafe.wordpress.com/shalom-and-lchaim/

As we observe yet another World AIDS Day I urge you to pause and remember those lost and the continuing challenges we still face in countries around the world. That period of my life changed who I was as a person. I no longer can sit back and be a passive observer when I see injustice. I also became more appreciative of life’s daily wonders. Sunrises and sunsets, natural wonders and wonderful people are all more precious to me.

I am now into my third year since coming out as Trans/Agender/Non-binary. I see some of the same attitudes and prejudices faced by communities affected by HIV/AIDS in the eighties and nineties, once again used to target the trans community. As we face the prospect of an administration that is shaping up to be very anti-LGBTQIA+, sexist, and insensitive to racial and ethnic minorities, we must remember the lessons learned and fight like hell for individuals and communities we care about.

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Reflections on The Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. A day each year when we pause to remember all those lost to violence. The sad truth is that this year there have been more lives lost than in any previous year that has been documented. The sobering reality is that most of those lost were trans women of color. The first trans women I really got to know were two African American women who were persons with AIDS in the late 1980s. Their lives had been very difficult and the threat of violence was always there. Sadly they both lost their lives due to opportunistic infections as a consequence of living in a time where medical science had not yet advanced far enough to halt the violence caused by a virus. In reality it was also the violence that forced them to leave home, forced them to turn to sex work in order to survive and substance abuse in order to escape a terrible reality. Jean and Melissa both shared their stories with me and I was proud to call them friends. Back then I was still in the dark about my own gender identity but I was aware it had a connection with those brave women.

So today I morn those lost to violence but also those lost to the violence brought on by a society that forced them to live on the margins. I’m now blessed by having many transgender women and trans femme non-binary trans people in my life. I also have a wonderful family of trans individuals and allies here in Santa Fe. My hope is that trans women forced to the margins will soon be blessed to find a family like this for themselves. In the meanwhile I will do my small part in raising awareness, advocating for laws protecting my community from discrimination, pushing back whenever I become aware of people engaged in the bathroom scare tactics of the right in this country and being part of my trans family in creating a welcoming environment for other trans people looking for a place to call home.

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Watch: Miss Transgender Indonesia 2016 Crowned in Jakarta

As someone who once lived in Indonesia, this makes me happy. I do fear, however, over the seeming rise of anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric by fudamentalists, some of whom are in government if reports are accurate.

GAY ASIA NEWS

Qienabh Tappii, a 28-year-old representing Jakarta beat 30 other contestants to be crowned Miss Waria Indonesia 2016. Waria is the Indonesian word for transgender.

About 200 people defied increasing hostility against the LGBT community in Indonesia to attend the competition in the nation’s capital Jakarta.

The event was kept secret with journalists only told hours ahead of time and attendees told not to post on social media until after the event. READ FULL

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Your Non-Binary Gender Identity Is Valid No Matter Your Age

It doesn’t matter when you discover a non-binary gender identity, your identity is valid no matter if your in high school or in a retirement home. I have seen plenty of ridicule aimed at teens and young adults who have come out and declared a non-binary gender. Buzz words like, “special snowflake,” are aimed at youth and young adults who have discovered their gender identity after soul searching and research. If I can help dispel such nonsense, I’m happy to do so. I know if I’d had information about non-binary gender identity available decades ago I would have discovered my gender identity much, much earlier in my life. So I am allowing myself to be an example of an older person with a non-binary gender identity. I hope this helps younger non-binary find support they desperately need. Sure, there will be some who are unsure at first. I had those same doubts. I, however, was able to shrug off those uncertainties and affirm my identity.

I’m a proud trans/agender/non-binary/genderqueer person. This constellation of non-binary gender identities is still coalescing. As a part of that process new identities are being introduced as people review their unique situations. Will this process eventually lead to a smaller number of identities? Yes, I believe it will. What is important is that for many people, who don’t feel completely male of female, or feel like a blending of male and female, or, like me, they don’t feel like either gender, now have an identity. We know that there are others like us and we share our stories. As a result there are fewer people confused about their gender and are now free to find others like themselves. Together we will fight for our right to be heard, understood and protected from discrimination. Then we can move on with our lives, perhaps finding spouses, or choosing to remain single, selecting a field of study, upon graduating we’ll find fulfilling employment and begin to give back to society. Then, as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, we can continue to create a diverse and vibrant community. That is a future we can all get behind!

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Proof There Are More Than Two Genders – Riley J. Dennis

Once again Riley puts out an excellent video! Riley is one of my favorite YouTubers and this is one of the best.

Here is the text that accompanied the video:

Non-binary identities are real. There are more than two genders. Here’s your proof, and the three steps you need to take to recognize this.
*Note* A few days before this video was published, a couple of large YouTubers made a video saying that non-binary identities are not real. This is not a response video; I scripted it weeks before I saw that video. It’s just coincidental timing, but I still hope that this video can help all you non-binary folks out there feel validated.

Please visit the YouTube page for this video to view the great links that accompany this video:
https://youtu.be/Nlc8H4WUqEs

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Boy Or Girl? – It’s Victor and They’re Non-Binary

Since Victor/The BBC posted this wonderful short film introducing their gender identity, The American Conservative web site has chosen to ridicule Victor. In addition to showing no class this is also elitist and promotes non-binary erasure. So I thought it only fair to post the video here. Way to go Victor and don’t let the unimaginative conservatives clinging to their binary notion of gender get you down! Here’s how the video was meant to be introduced:

The single most common question Victor gets asked is “Are you a boy or are you a girl? ” Their answer to this question is “No”, which is rather confusing for some people. They are Non Binary, and that means they identify as something other than male or female. Victor breaks down why they see the obsession with gender and genitals as outdated: “Gender is what you feel, not what your parts are!”

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An Oft Ignored Reason Folks Want Trans Men and Women Out of Gendered Spaces

This is a fabulous bit of commentary!

Hand of Ananke

1-24-16b

So, apparently this is still an issue. Despite no record of any trans woman, or man, ever molesting someone in a gendered space, the fear mongers still do their best to keep us out. They are helped out by proxies posing as thoughtful observers. These folks try to tell us that cis girls are brought up to be modest, and that undressing in front of “boys,” yes some of them deliberately misgender young trans women, is not a matter of fear, but of their sense of decency. The fact that they are asking another young woman to undress in front of boys is apparently lost on them. I find myself wondering what is it they are really afraid of, and then it dawned on me.

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Non-Binary Genders Explained by Upworthy 


Upworthy has really done a tremendous job in introducing non-binary genders to a general audience. There is the above video and this amazing article: http://www.upworthy.com/not-all-people-identify-as-male-or-female-take-a-look-inside-the-world-outside-the-gender-binary?g=3

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I Am Her – Shea Diamond 

A fabulous new transgender recording artist has just released her new single. Here’s her introduction to the song:

My name is Shea Diamond, Singer/Songwriter based in NYC by way of Flint, MI. I was born into a gender role that I did not accept & I didn’t feel like myself. Desperate to find the financial means to transition to my true gender, I committed a crime in 1999 & was sentenced to 10 years in a men’s prison. While incarcerated, I found a community that shared my trans experience – it was there where I found my voice. I began writing “I Am Her” as a statement to a world that said I shouldn’t exist. I wrote it as an anthem for all those that felt shunned for simply being who they were. In 2009 I was released from prison. Shortly after my release, I moved to New York City where I found a studio to record “I Am Her” and the means to create a video for my song. 

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My Gender Unicorn 

Definitions:

Gender Identity: Gender Identity: One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or another gender(s). Everyone has a gender identity, including you. For transgender people, their sex assigned at birth and their own internal sense of gender identity are not the same. Female, woman, and girl and male, man, and boy are also NOT necessarily linked to each other but are just six common gender identities.
Gender Expression/Presentation: The physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through clothing, hairstyle, voice, body shape, etc. Most transgender people seek to make their gender expression (how they look) match their gender identity (who they are), rather than their sex assigned at birth.
Sex Assigned at Birth: The assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex based on a combination of anatomy, hormones, chromosomes. It is important we don’t simply use “sex” because of the vagueness of the definition of sex and its place in transphobia. Chromosomes are frequently used to determine sex from prenatal karyotyping (although not as often as genitalia). Chromosomes do not determine genitalia.
Sexually Attracted To: Sexual Orientation. It is important to note that sexual and romantic/emotional attraction can be from a variety of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression/presentation, and sex assigned at birth.
Romantically/Emotionally Attracted To: Romantic/emotional orientation. It is important to note that sexual and romantic/emotional attraction can be from a variety of factors including but not limited to gender identity, gender expression/presentation, and sex assigned at birth.

Example of how to fill out your own Gender Unicorn:


Many people were curious if agender and asexual people were included in this graphic. In short, they are. For example, identifying on the left of the sexuality spectra would indicate no attraction.

Changes from The Genderbread Person
You may recognize this graphic as similar to The Genderbread Person

by itspronouncedmetrosexual. We created a similar graphic with significant changes to more accurately portray the distinction between gender, sex assigned at birth, and sexuality.

The above text and graphic courtesy of Trans Student Educational Resources

Fairy JerBear at Santa Fe LGBTQIA+ Pride, June, 2016

My Gender Unicorn

This is who I am. My gender identity is “agender” technically meaning genderless. I, however, prefer the definition “beyond gender.” My gender expression tends to be more feminine or unisex but includes some masculine items. I was assigned male at birth. I’m physically/sexually attracted to men, specifically androgynous guys. I’m also attracted to trans masculine and many non-binary gender identified individuals. I prefer to use “queer” to label my sexual orientation, although the identity, “polysexual,” also applys. Finally I’m emotionally attracted to gentle, nurturing and loving individuals. These traits are found across genders, hence the selection of multiple genders in this catagory.


Had I been aware of these options in the early seventies, when I was in my mid-teens, my life would have taken a very different course. Thankfully I have now embraced my authentic self. I know it will take some time for many of you to process this information. All I ask from my family and friends is your tolerance, your acceptance and your virtual embrace.

Note: My Gender Unicorn differs from the example in that if a field doesn’t apply to me I left it blank. Thus on gender identity I only indicated that my identity was “other.”

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This Blog Is Five Years Old!


It’s hard to believe this blog is now five. It is a reflection of my interests, passions and identities. These years included my coming out as Trans/Genderqueer/Agender, my coming out for the second time, (my first time coming out was as a gay/queer man}.

As for the blog’s future; I have several posts that I have started but not finished. I hope to post them over the next two months along with anything else that moves me post. 

Thanks so much for being a reader/follower of my blog! Now onward to the future!

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I Remember 29 Years Ago Today – The March on Washinton, Saturday, October 11, 1987

My story, written before I had completely embraced my Trans/Agender Identity…

Fairy JerBear's Queer/Trans Musings From The City Different - Santa Fe, NM

This is National Coming Out Day which was initiated on the anniversary of the October 11, 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Right. I was there at that March 27 years ago and it remains one of the most powerful experiences I ever had.

I am have inserted a post I made a year ago as a part of my 3 part series about my journey from being a closeted Seventh-Day Adventist teen and son of a pastor to being an out and proud Queer Humanist Unitarian Universalist Atheist. I hope this helps someone else struggling today.

JerBear: My Story

I have described my own experience in a former post but I am going to repost it here so it is integrated into this post…

If you Google or Bing the word “Queer” you will soon come across folks that fully embrace the word, those that are timidly…

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Gender Pride Flags

A nice overview of gender flags and descriptions

Harvard College Office of BGLTQ Student life

Hello Harvard (and beyond)!

Here is the promised collection of gender identities and their corresponding flags! There are an infinite amount of genders, and only a few flags on this list. This collection is by no means exhaustive, and again the definitions I’ve posted surely do not fully represent the diversity of individuals who identify with these terms and experiences therein.

Agender: having no gender, being genderless

t7

Bigender: having two simultaneous or fluid genders

t11

Demiboy: being partly a boy and partly another a/gender(s)

t11

Demigirl: being partly a girl and partly another a/gender(s)

t12

Genderfluid: moving between genders or having a fluctuating gender identity

t6

Genderqueer: having a nonbinary gender identity (sometimes used as an umbrella term)

t3

Intersex: an umbrella term describing people whose sexual anatomy does not neatly fit into binary sex categories of male and female

t4

Intersex (Alternative)

t5

Neutrois: having a neutral or null gender

t10

Non-Binary: identifying as neither a man nor a…

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Power Concedes Nothing Without Demand. Trans Rights Now!

This is today’s Twitter thought for the day from the Santa Fe Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Support Group. This is my favorite quote, which has inspired my activism for nearly thirty years. The quote is in full:

“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.”

“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.”

Rights are never given away by the oppressors, a truth Frederick Douglas learned some hundred and fifty years ago. Over the years his words have echoed in my ears every time I picketed in front of institutions that needed to change. Sometimes it was an ACT-UP “actions,” other time it was Queer Nation or just a group of pissed of LGBTQ people. I have seen how people power can work when you have people working within the system and activists demanding rights on the outside. I’ve seen it result in new legislation, a change in regulations or speeding up approval process for anti-Viral medications or treatments for HIV/AIDS opportunistic infections. Now I advocate applying the same approach for demanding our rights as a trans community. Join me in whatever way is best for you. Together we can change hearts, minds, laws, regulations and other obstacles that prevent us from being fully equal members of society!

Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. #FrederickDouglas #StandUpForTransRights #ThoughtForTheDay

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Jacob Tobia Talks About Being Genderqueer and Shuts Down Bulls!*t

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Trans Across America Map Version 1.0

Tans Resources Across The USA…

Trans Across America

Trans Across America is a community-curated project dedicated to helping transgender people find the vital health and wellness resources they need nationwide. Whether you live in a bustling city or a quiet small town, you deserve access to effective health and wellness resources, and Trans Across America wants to help you find them. Use this form to submit to the map and share your knowledge with other trans* young people! Once submitted, our moderator will check the information for accuracy and to make sure it fits the vision of this project and add it to the map shortly. While only a few categories are required, the more information you provide, the faster our moderators can have the entry online.

Thank you for being part of Trans Across America, feel free to email TransAcrossAmericaModerator@Gmail.com with any questions, ideas, or concerns for the map!

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Intersex rights (often violated) are human rights

An important issue! Intersex rights worldwide are explored.

76 CRIMES

Logo of the Association of Russian-speaking Intersex People Logo of the Association of Russian-speaking Intersex People

The “I” in LGBTI activism is the focus of a new report that spells out what’s at stake in the growing field of intersex advocacy.

The freely downloadable document We Are Real: The Growing Movement Advancing the Human Rights of Intersex People from the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice
seeks to “share and promote relevant knowledge and understanding of intersex issues and activism to people across the world.”

Readers of this blog are aware of a particularly horrifying example of anti-intersex violence that occurred in December 2015 — the fatal mutilation of intersex Kenyan teenager Muhadh Ishmael because he did not conform to their expectations for him.

For many intersex people, human rights violations are much less violent but much more common, as the report’s executive summary notes:

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Opinion: Conservatives Need to Stop Whining About Gender-Neutral Pronouns – Excerpt

I have been seeing a lot of outright hostility from right wing sites about gender neutral pronouns and non-binary gender identities. So this post from a year ago is worth a second look.

Fairy JerBear's Queer/Trans Musings From The City Different - Santa Fe, NM

In this post by Camille Beredjick at the Friendly Atheist blog the author takes aim at conservatives who are attacking gender neutral pronouns and their recommend use. I have excerpted about half of Camille’s post. Read the second half by following the link at the bottom of this post.

image

In the last couple of weeks, officials at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville made two big decisions relating to gender-neutral pronouns. First, theyrecommended the campus community embrace gender-neutral language at their leisure. Second, they retracted that suggestion at the demand of high-profile state conservatives.

Gender-neutral pronouns — like “they,” “ze,” and “hir” — are being used increasingly by transgender people who don’t feel like the categories “men” or “women” suit them.

Michael Brown of Charisma News is terrified of this.

He wrote in a recent piece:

At what point we will realize that the more we deny gender distinctions, the more we…

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For Bullied Fairy Bears Everywhere!

From the Cartoon Network series We Bare Bears comes this dream sequence that’s fabulous, particularly the dance off!

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