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Today I did some civic duty

Namely, I attempted to get over this whole “AUGH PHONES” thing and actually freggin’ call my state Senators and Congresswoman. The goal here was to give them constituent feedback on certain current events, namely:

  1. My strident opposition to Stephen Bannon holding any position whatsoever in the White House; and
  2. My strident opposition to any kind of Muslim registry, since that idea is getting bandied around by Trump’s gathering staff, and I find it particularly reprehensible that the Japanese internment camps are getting cited in some news report as actual legitimate precedent for doing that kind of thing, to wit, no.

There has been a thread going around on Twitter the last several days, which was posted by someone named Emily Ellsworth. She says she has six years’ experience working as a Congressional staffer, and because of this, she wanted the Net to know that making actual phone calls is still the very best way to make your voice heard to your representatives. The number of emails as well as printed letters or faxes that any given member of Congress gets is huge, and so they just have to scan them for keywords and tick off items on topic counters. But if you actually call and interact with a human on the other end, they take more notice of that.

The full thread starts here:

So because of this I made a point of calling the offices of both Washington Senators, as well as my district’s Representative to let my input be known on those two issues. I kept it brief. I introduced myself, identified myself as a Washington state voter and gave them my zip code, and just basically said “I wanted to let the Senator/the Congresswoman know that I feel this way on X and on Y”. And I made a point of thanking the various staffers for their time. They were all quite polite and were happy to take my feedback.

Side notes on this experience:

  1. I had way less trouble reaching Maria Cantwell’s office and Suzan DelBene’s than I did Patty Murray’s. Senator Murray’s office in Seattle never picked up on the line, and the voicemail box was full, so I couldn’t leave a message. Likewise for her office number in Everett. I had to call her Tacoma office to actually reach a staffer. Apparently Senator Murray has been getting a LOT of calls.
  2. Since this came up in discussion on Facebook, I am aware that Congress doesn’t have any actual veto power over Mr. Bannon’s appointment, given the specific position he’s been tapped for. That said, there is still some leverage here that the Dems or sympathetic Republicans can take, e.g., refusal to deal with holding hearings on the positions that Congress does need to give their approval for.
  3. I was a little nervous making these calls, I’ll freely own up to that, but it did help to keep it short. And also in that I’ve had at least some practice doing pitches for novels, which helps one focus in on short sound-bite editions of something you want to talk about.
  4. Senator Murray’s staffer in Tacoma chuckled ruefully when I told him that these were my two main issues I wanted to speak up on for the moment, but that I expected there would be more as we move into the new administration.
  5. As a Great Big Sea fan, I keep wanting to read Senator Murray’s name as “Paddy Murphy” and yeah no. 😉

All in all: not too bad as an exercise in civic awareness. Cell phones, especially smartphones, are powerful little gadgets. I feel like for once I’m actually harnessing the power for mine for something meaningful.


Personal policy, moving forward

If you’re someone in my social circle, whether offline or online, and I find out you’re a Trump supporter, I’m not going to necessarily automatically disown you. I’m not going to automatically defriend you or block you or stop speaking to you.

What will provoke me to defriend/block you is if you come at me with dismissive, divisive language such as “drinking the DNC Kool-aid” or “libtard” or “social justice warrior”. Or if you refuse to give credence to my personal life experiences, or attack my logic or my rationality. I will give you the courtesy of assuming that your personal political views are born out of your life experiences and the conclusions you have drawn about what is appropriate for you and your life. I will assume that you have a brain and that you know how to use it, and that the possibility exists that two different people with different brains and different life experiences can reach wildly different conclusions. Grant me the same courtesy, or we have nothing to discuss.

I will not come into your Internet space and fight with you about what you believe. My space is mine. Your space is yours. If you invited me over to your house for a meal, I would not attack you for your beliefs in your own living room, and I will also not do so on your blog or your social media accounts.

However, I also reserve the right to stop reading your space. I do not dispute your right to be happy about your guy winning the White House. If you are in fact happy about that, good for you; I’m glad at least somebody is happy about the election results.

But please also realize that there is a huge divide between how happy you may be, and how terrified I, many other queers, and many other persons of minority populations are. Understand that for us, it’s going to be really difficult for us to be able to deal with seeing happiness about the election of an administration that has a very real chance of making our lives meaningfully and measurably worse.

This doesn’t mean I hate you personally. It doesn’t mean I never want to hear from you again. By all means, if you’re somebody in my offline social circle, or if you’re related to me, and you want to share news with me, come talk to me. Post directly to my timeline, or PM me, or email me, or whatever.

But it’s probably best if you avoid talking to me about politics. Because right now, I don’t have the heart to hear it.


So about that call for unity, then

I said on Facebook and I’ll say it here: my feed is likely to become a lot more political in the coming months and through the coming administration. If this is a thing that’s likely to bug you, you are welcome to stop reading my blog and social media accounts. If you like my writing but need to limit the amount of politics in your internet, believe me, I understand.

With that in mind, yep, this is going to be a political post. And it’s going to be a long one.

One of the things I’ve seen in the news this week is a general call for unity in the wake of the election results. Obama’s been saying that, and yeah, that’s fine; he’s the outgoing President and it’s kind of his job to urge the American people to come together.

Another thing I’ve seen is that people are not understanding why queers are freaking out about Trump. I have had multiple iterations now of a conversation that goes something like this:

Me: I’m stressed out and terrified about this election because I’m queer.

Other Person: But I thought Trump was pro-gay. I saw an article about how he was waving a rainbow flag at one of his rallies.

Me: I am way less concerned about Trump personally than I am about his cabinet. His VP is virulently anti-queer. His cabinet members are virulently anti-queer. His party is on record as being opposed to marriage equality, and his VP and other cabinet members are people who think that not only should I not have the right to be married to my wife, my wife and I are abominations against their God, and we should be legislated right back into the closet if not outright put to death. So yes, I am terrified.

What happens next in the conversational flow is one of these three options:

Other Person: …


Other Person: *weakly* Well, try not to worry, I’m sure it’ll be fine!


Other Person: I don’t believe you! Trump is the most pro-gay President the Republicans have ever elected! And also, the Orlando shooter was a Taliban-supporting Muslim!

Now, how does this tie into the call for unity?

Trump put out a pretty speech about how he intends to be a President for “all Americans”. But here’s the thing: some Americans are queer. And when he has been elected by a party who has as a solid tenet of its platform that queers should not be allowed to marry one another, he cannot claim to be pro-gay no matter how many rainbow flags he decides to wave around.

When he said during his campaign that he would not personally oppose rolling back marriage equality (as of back in January 2016), he cannot claim to be pro-gay.

When his supporters have already started lashing out against queers and other minorities, and he says absolutely nothing to stop it or condemn it, he cannot claim to be pro-gay.

When the people he is appointing to his transition team and cabinet are virulently anti-queer, believe queers are an abomination, and believe they have a religious mandate to code into law that discrimination against us is allowable on religious grounds, he cannot claim to be pro-gay.

When all he has to try to prove that he is pro-gay is “I will keep Muslims from getting into the country so they can’t shoot queer people”, that is not enough. I am not scared of Muslim immigrants shooting queers. I’m scared of Americans who are already here shooting queers. I’m scared of my fellow Americans legislating against us. Denying us medical treatment, or the right to be at the sides of our spouses if, gods forbid, we have to go to the hospital. Assaulting us. Killing us. And of there being an uptick in this kind of violence because the party that’s about to be in power condones it.

There is no having unity with this. There is no “agree to disagree” when one side is “I agree that queer people should have the right to marry one another and live their lives in peace” and the other side is “not only do I think gay marriage should be illegal, I think queers are an abomination and should be locked up and/or put to death, and I will be doing everything in my power to pass laws against you.”

This is why queers are terrified about the impending Trump administration.

I am not going to go so far as to claim Trump is not my President, because, well, I’m an American, and he was rightfully elected. Is he the next President of this country? Yes.

Is he going to be a President who actually cares about me and people like me?

That’s the thing, isn’t it?

And right now, I’m not seeing evidence that this is going to happen. I don’t care how many photos there are of him waving rainbow flags. I care about what he actually said during his campaign, and the contradiction between his blithe “ask the gays” remarks on Twitter and how he’s also on record as saying he won’t stand in the way of rolling back marriage equality. And how his transition team is full of people who think my wife and I are abominations.

If he really wants to make me believe that he’ll be a President for all Americans, I need to see him come right out and say, for the record, that he will oppose revoking marriage rights. And then I need to see him put his money where his mouth is. I need to see a distinct lack of executive orders against queers. I need to see him vetoing any attempt of a Republican Congress to roll back marriage equality–and I don’t believe for an instant that a Republican-controlled Congress is not going to try to do that, just so’s we’re clear on that, too.

I need to see Trump specifically and explicitly condemning the violence his supporters have started slinging against queers and other minorities. He needs to make it clear to the country, now that he is the one who’ll be taking office, that such acts are unacceptable in a civilized society–that they are unacceptable in America.

(And yes, I am aware that there have been acts of violence against Trump supporters in the news this past week, too. For the record, yes, I do in fact condemn that too. I will say that loud and clear right here, and I’ll say it again any time you like. As I am not in fact an idiot, I do not claim that all progressives are blameless paragons of virtue. Please do not try to come at me with any arguments of that nature.)

If you’re a Trump supporter and you’re not happy that progressives are expressing our terror about this, if you’re wondering why we’re not trying for that unity, this is why.

If you’re a Trump supporter and you actually personally care about the rights of queers, people of color, the disabled, immigrants, etc., then listen to us when we tell you we are terrified. Do not dismiss our fears as “drinking the DNC Kool-aid” when we’re coming at this from our own life experiences, and in many cases, all too much discrimination actively thrown directly into our faces. Do not tell us to “wake up” when we’ve been spending our entire lives fighting that discrimination.

Go read John Scalzi’s post on The Cinemax Theory of Racism. I co-sign every word of that post. Although he chose to focus on the racism aspects of the Trump campaign, everything he says in that post is equally applicable to sexism and homophobia. If you’re a Trump supporter, even if you are not personally racist, sexist, or homophobic, you signed up for this as part of the package when you voted for him. You need to own that.

And if you really care about that unity being called for, then get on board with helping make sure that your candidate, now that he’s got the White House, will not be wrecking the lives and the rights of the people who are not you. Listen to us and believe us when we express our fears to you.

Say to us, “We hear you, and because you are fellow citizens, we’ve got your backs, and here is what we’ll do to show you.”

Then and only then will I believe that unity can happen.

Editing to add: Jim Hines has an important post along these lines up over here, with some links off to incidents of harassment this past week, specifically ones for which there is supporting evidence (photos, videos).


Where do we go from here?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Those of you who are fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in particular of the sixth season musical episode “Once More With Feeling”, are very likely finding yourselves songvirused by the same song that’s been in my head since the events of Tuesday night: “Where Do We Go From Here?”

For me, that’s certainly been the ongoing theme of what I’ve seen coming over my social media feeds. As I wrote in my last post, I’m seeing a lot of despair from people–especially from people who are relaying word of a sickening rise in overt, violent bigotry, as documented on People are already being attacked. People are already dying, and others, as reported by USA Today, are being trolled by white supremacists who are getting their jollies on by trying to provoke them into suicide.

I have seen some hope that the electoral college vote might pull us out of this, if enough of the electors bailed on handing Trump his electoral votes. It’s a nice thought. It’s even worth a shot. But I am not counting on this happening, if nothing else because we do not actually live in that kind of feel-good-surprise-ending fictional storyline. If you want to hope for that, absolutely, take whatever hope you can right now. But plan for it not to happen. It’s the only way to be rational and practical about how the hell to get through the next few years.

So where do we go from here?

Dara’s got a post up over here, and in that post she’s outlining exactly why Trump’s transition team and inner circle put the immediate lie to the idea that he will be a “President for All Americans”–because his inner circle people are on documented record as being virulently anti-queer. They are people who think that Dara and I are an abomination. They not only want our marriage illegal, they want us illegal, too.

So right there, there’s a thing you can do. If you’re not already, start supporting charities whose mission is to provide outreach and safe haven for queers–especially young people, especially queers of color, especially transgendered persons who are going to be scrambling to get official documentation of their genders before 2017 gets here. With an incoming actively queer-hostile administration, queers will need you.

Look also for charities that provide support and outreach to populations of color. Find out how you can support Black Lives Matter or similar groups. Look for organizations that will provide legal assistance to any Muslims who have been targeted just for being brown or for wearing a hijab in public. Look for organizations providing support to immigrants and refugees. These populations of color will need you.

Look for charities that provide support to the disabled, who are at huge risk from the imminent gutting of the Affordable Care Act. Remember also that some disabilities are not obvious, and that anyone fighting mental illness or depression will also be medically vulnerable. These people will need you. Even with the Affordable Care Act, we live in a country where it’s somehow acceptable for Americans to have to friggin’ crowdfund their own medical care, and pray that the Internet will save them from having to choose between health and having a roof over their heads and food on their tables. Expect that to keep happening. If you have an opportunity to support a friend or a loved one who will need your help with medical expenses, do it. They will need you.

Support Planned Parenthood and other organizations that fight for women’s reproductive freedom.

Support the ACLU. Because holy Jesus jumping Christ on a pogo stick, we will need them looking out for our civil liberties. They have already posted their open letter to Trump, announcing their coming vigilance. Help them.

If you are religious but also progressive, especially if you are Christian, then get your church to step up to the plate and be public in support of these marginalized populations. And have them be public in their decrying of bigotry and religious hatred. Because right now, the alt-right fundies are about to own both the White House and Congress. If they don’t speak for you and your brand of Christianity, now is the time to demonstrate that.

Support organizations that encourage actual science. Because Trump’s looking at appointing a Creationist to be Secretary of Education, and that right there is enough to make me very concerned for the state of American schools.

Support organizations that are working to counter the effects of climate change. Because Trump’s administration is also likely to be hostile to climate change, and at least from where the NY Times is sitting, the EPA sure looks like it’s going to be in trouble. Pro tip: all those aforementioned marginalized populations are going to be in even more trouble once climate change starts making us a lot more miserable. Second pro tip: putting your hands over your ears and going LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU is not going to make climate change not happen.

Relatedly: if you’re not already doing so, start looking for ways you can live in a more environmentally-friendly way on the local and personal level, if the national level is going to fail us on this. It may not seem like much, but every tiny little bit you can do will help. Consult your local power companies to see what advice they have about more eco-friendly power consumption. And for all the bitching I’ve done about Puget Sound Energy, they do at least have a Green Power program. If you’re a PSE subscriber, info on this program is here. If you’re on Seattle City Light, go to their home page and look for the “Renewable Energy” header towards the bottom. They have data there.

Dara’s post that I linked to above links off in turn to this document on Google Docs, with some ongoing concrete suggestions for planning. Check that out too.

Most of all: look out for yourselves and each other. If you are in a marginalized population, do whatever is necessary to protect yourself. Your safety and your well-being are also important. You cannot help others without making sure you’re strong enough to do so first.

If you are a creative artist of any kind–writer, painter, photographer, singer, songwriter, podcaster, anything–try to hold fast to your art. We will need your art. If you are motivated to work your worry and frustration and fear into your art, do that. If you feel all you can do is colored pencil sketches of cute little puppies and kittens and bunnies, do that. Somebody out there is going to see your picture of a cute little bunny, and have their heart’s burdened eased just a bit. That is what art is for.

And at the same time, fellow creatives–remember as well that if you can’t produce your art, that is okay too. Sometimes extreme stress will short out your muse. Remember your self-care too. Do whatever you need to to maintain yourself. If that means you have to take a break from your art, do that and come back when you’re ready.

Hang in there, everyone. Love one another. Look out for one another. We’re all going to need it.


Election fallout: yep, last night was entirely horrible

I am taking a mental health day today, and am giving myself minimal exposure to the Internet. I’m avoiding reading my usual social media feeds, as well as most of my usual RSS feeds as well. I don’t have enough stock of Cope to be able to deal with people right now, nor can I really comfort myself with the usual pop culture or book things I like to read about.

What I have done, though, is glance at some of the LJs and Dreamwidth accounts from people in my extended circle–QUILTBAG folks as well as allies. This is the theme I’m seeing: we’re fucking terrified, and also trying to keep it together enough to have one another’s backs. Because moving forward, into the next four years, we’re going to have to have each other’s backs even more so than we have been up till now.

I know people all over the QUILTBAG spectrum, and I know multiple people as well who are raising non-binary-gendered children. One fellow author I know was despairing about how to explain the fallout of last night to her offspring, and how to give said offspring strength to be able to face school.

I know multiple people as well who are now also terrified about the imminent evaporation of their healthcare. Because now that we’re looking at a Republican President, a Republican House, and a Republican Senate, as we move into 2017, you better believe we’ll be looking at the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Because apparently if a Democratic President put it into play, tearing it down is more important than making sure Americans who need reliable healthcare actually get it.

If you happen to be against the ACA and think it should be repealed, do us both a favor and do not try to debate with me about it. Because until I actually hear the new administration coming up with something better, I will not believe that they have any fucks whatsoever to give about Americans getting reliable, affordable healthcare. Before the ACA showed up we did not have a system that gave us this. We still don’t, even with what small gains the ACA has given us–yes, I know, the ACA has its problems, but it at least has tried to get health insurance to Americans who haven’t had it before.

And you know what else I know? I know that there are way, way too many people who have had to turn to crowdfunding to try to raise money for their medical expenses. I see GoFundMes crop up all the damn time for people who are desperate to pay for surgeries, for dental care, for treatment after accidents, and more.

How is any system of healthcare that drives people to beg the Internet for money to cover their expenses at all fair? How is it just? How is it looking out for the well-being of our citizens?

And you know what else I know? I know that the American health care system is a root cause of why my parents died as young as they did. It’s not the only cause, but it sure is a big one. My mother died in 1985. She was 38 years old. Thirty-eight. And the cancer that struck her just about the time I was born beggared our family.

My father died in 2001. He was 57. Did he ever have health insurance? Fuck no. Hell, for a chunk of when I was growing up, after Dad got custody of me and my younger brother, he couldn’t afford to keep us. He struggled to hang onto jobs and stable places to live all throughout the rest of his life. Where in here would he have ever been able to afford to pay for proper medical care for himself, care which could have realized the damage he was doing to his heart and his lungs, and which might have helped him survive that heart attack?

And you know what else I know? I know that while I have been fortunate enough to have stable, lucrative employment for most of my adult life, that even the reasonably decent health insurance coverage I’ve had has lasted only as long as my jobs have done. One of the reasons I’ve clung to my current day job with every scrap of strength I have in me is because I know what’ll happen if I have to change positions. My insurance coverage will reset and there’s all sorts of risks that my now stupidly complex medical history will get “pre-existing condition” stamped all over it next time I have to change jobs.

And that’s even assuming I change jobs voluntarily. If I get laid off and have to go back to COBRA, it gets harder. How do I know this? I know this because of all the times I’ve had between tech jobs, when I’ve been on contractor positions, and you know what all those tech contracting firms DON’T do when they’re trying to get you that year-long gig at Microsoft or wherever? Give you health benefits. I know this because of everyone else I know in the tech industry, too, who’ve been in the exact same boat.

And you know what else I know? I know that even with a well-paying job and stable health coverage, Dara and I have still had to lay out multiple thousands of dollars per year for the last several years because medical shit just keeps fucking happening. I live in low-level dread that this superpower I have of generating precancerous tissue is going to wake up and bite me again as I get older. I’ve already lost one breast, my thyroid, my uterus, and my ovaries. I’m just waiting for something else to get something growing on it that’ll have to come out–and let me tell you, when I had to have an MRI of my head lately to try to figure out why the hell I have ongoing pulsatile tinnitus in my right ear, I was terrified they’d find a tumor.

Because guess where my mother’s cancer was. Right in her brain.

And you know what else I know? I know that with a new incoming administration who is on record as being hostile to queers, Dara and I are going to be braced going into 2017 just waiting for a repeal of marriage equality. At minimum, we’ll be expecting the return of DOMA or something like it. If that happens, even though we live in a liberal state, this will impact us. It will mean we have to pay taxes at the higher single-payer rate instead of the rate married couples get to use, even if I work for a company that is pro-domestic-partners.

More than that, though, we are terrified about the ramifications for fellow members of the QUILTBAG community all over the red states. There will be a resurgence of transphobic bathroom laws–hell, that shit’s even tried to get a foothold here, and that was even before last night’s election. There will be a resurgence of hate crimes against queers.

We are terrified about what this means for people of color. Every single POC I saw commentary from on Twitter last night was justifiably afraid. All throughout this shitstorm of a year, we’ve continued to see outbursts of hate against immigrants, particularly Muslim and Latinx ones.

Dara and I have already had multiple renewals of offers from Canadian friends to give us emergency crash space if we ever need it. We’re not exactly planning on bolting across the border tomorrow–for one thing, it’s not just a matter of “fuck it we’re noping off to Canada, chuck everything into the Raptor and go”. We’d need jobs. We’d need housing. We’d need to sell both our properties. And we’d need to find out whether my stupidly complicated medical history would be a problem. None of these things lend themselves well to immediate emigration.

But there are reasons Dara and I live as close to the border as we do. And every one of those reasons was in play last night–and will be in active play as we move into the next four years.

We are terrified. Don’t try to tell us everything will be okay and that we’ll be fine–because in our experience, living through the history of how treatment of QUILTBAG persons and POCs and people of minority religions has played out in this country, the likelihood is high that no, everything will not be okay.

All we can do now is try to weather the oncoming storm and hope we do not drown.

QUILTBAG folk, women, POCs, and anyone of minority religions who reads me: hugs. Let’s look out for one another. We are going to need one another more than ever. Vent to me here if you need to.

ETA: Dara’s reaction post is here.


Why I can’t go home again

I need to tell you all a story. A story about why I can’t go home again, thanks to the outbreak of laws enabling religiously-based discrimination, and laws about transgendered bathroom use.

Kentucky is the state where I was born, but I haven’t been back there since my grandmother died in 2011. And before that, my and Dara’s visits had already grown few and far between. There are times I regret this, because it’s meant that I haven’t gotten to see my brother’s children grow up, or my sister’s. What little contact I’ve had with my family members has been online or via occasional emails or text messages.

But by and large, there are reasons I have decided not to go home again. Reasons that involve how it is straight-out not safe for Dara and me to be there.

Kentucky and a lot of the other states in the Midwest and the South have been spending the last several years already deciding that the right to religious-based bigotry trumps the right for LGBT American citizens to be treated equally under the law. It was, after all, in Kentucky where county clerk Kim Davis became infamous for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs.

Y’know what Dara and I are? A same-sex couple.

Kim Davis is not alone in the South. She’s not alone in Kentucky either. Davis and others like her are the reason why we now have this plague of laws allowing religious-based discrimination breaking out all over those states. And let me tell you what those laws are to Dara and me, should I have another reason to need to visit my family: a threat.

If Dara or I made it to Kentucky but were somehow separated from our travel supplies of meds, a pharmacist could get away with refusing to sell us prescriptions.

We would have to be very, very careful about any public displays of affection that might get us thrown out of restaurants, if we were to go out to dinner with any of my relatives or our local friends. And by public displays of affection, I don’t even mean public kissing. I mean gestures as simple as holding my wife’s hand. Or putting an arm around her. Or resting my head on her shoulder. And we’d have to doublecheck doors of restaurants or stores in general, in case owners or managers felt the need to post any public signs about how WE DON’T SERVE GAY PEOPLE HERE.

If, gods forbid, something were to happen to either of us to land us in need of emergency care, a doctor or a nurse could get away with refusing to treat us.

And to make it worse, now there’s an additional plague of laws to try to keep transgendered persons out of bathrooms that correspond to their self-identified genders. Some places have even encouraged bounties for people who spot others who they perceive to be in the “wrong” bathrooms.

This has already threatened a cisgendered woman who had to sue a restaurant when its security threw her out of the ladies’ room–because they thought she looked too masculine, so clearly she had to be a man. And this was a cisgendered woman. Who got confronted and threatened because she looked too butch.

Y’know what I am? A cisgendered, heavy-set woman with large, hairy legs and a face that gets hairy too if I avoid my razor for more than two days running. Whose hair is now short, now that I’ve got my summer haircut, and whose preferred style of dress is decidedly unfeminine. We’re talking jeans, T-shirts, hiking boots, and unisex hoodies and sweatshirts here, people. My typical idea of fashion is “do my socks match? Is my shirt clean? Do I have my hat? Fantastic, I’m fit to go outside.”

So the possibility that I could get confronted in a ladies’ room in Kentucky because I don’t match somebody’s perceived notions of “what a woman should look like” are greater than zero.

And I’m not even transgendered.

This doesn’t even begin to touch the problem of how transgendered people who want to do nothing more than go to the freggin’ bathroom when they need to are screwed either way, thanks to these laws. If they try to use the bathroom that matches their self-identified genders, they are at risk of arrest and physical confrontation. If they try to use the bathroom that matches their birth genders, they are still at risk of being assaulted. Or killed.

I personally know too many transgendered people who have told me their stories to not believe them when they tell me what kind of risks threaten them on a daily basis–not only physical threats, but cultural and media ones as well. Threats that impact adults and children alike, and which put transgendered children at risk of bullying and emotional trauma that could drive them into suicide. But even past the people I specifically know, all too many stories and stats are out there if you care enough about this to educate yourselves. Go look them up. I’ll wait.

Suffice to say, when I look at the state where I was born and the states around it, I see an environment that has grown actively toxic and hostile to queer people. And black people–because the South is now an environment where a mixed-race couple can be thrown out of a trailer park just because the husband happens to be black. And Muslims–because you don’t need to look any further than the current Republican presidential campaigns to see evidence of hostility towards anyone who has the temerity to be non-Christian and brown.

I see an environment I don’t dare to visit, because I cannot put myself and my wife at that kind of risk.

It breaks my heart, because it means that even if I want to, I can’t go see my blood relations.

And it means that I respond to Newfoundland and Quebecois traditional music so strongly because I’ve seen the musicians who play it celebrating their musical heritage–and part of me really envies that even as I know I can’t have it. Because while Kentucky has musical heritage of its own, and while I have sometimes felt that as a Kentucky girl it would behoove me to try to learn more about it, Kentucky and the states around it have made it patently clear that they do not welcome people like Dara and me. They don’t want our presence. They don’t want our money. They don’t want us to even exist.

So I can only conclude that they wouldn’t want me playing their music either. And I’m left with part of my heart and soul hollowed out, a part of me eased but never entirely filled when I sing along with Quebecois turluttes or sea shanties from Newfoundland. A part of me that I reach best whenever I sing along with Elvis, but not even Elvis can quite close this hole.

I know that there are people in the South who don’t share these beliefs. That there are Southerners who reject racism and sexism, and who, even if they personally are Christians, also reject the notion that their God might require them to hate people who aren’t exactly like them. If you’re one of those Southerners, I urge you: make your voice heard. Write letters to your legislators. Find them on social media and let them have it. Reject this toxicity that will only serve to hurt innocent people. Innocent children.

Because until this poison is cleared out of the South, no, I can’t sing “Kentucky Rain” with a clear heart. And I can’t go home again.


Yo, United States Senators: #DoYourJob

I don’t normally like to talk about politics. With the state of politics in America these days, bringing up anything political is tantamount to covering yourself in honey and standing in front of a beehive, then swatting the hive with a stick. And I’m not a fan of angry bees.

But I’m also not a fan of partisan politics. I’m sick of Senators and Representatives who’d rather hold the government hostage and cause a shutdown rather than do something like radical like, oh, I dunno, manage to actually work with the opposing party and pass legislation that’ll make things suck a little less for people all over the country.

And I’m particularly sick of the Republican faction in the Senate refusing to do anything even remotely favorable towards Obama.

Case in point: this refusal of theirs to consider any nominee Obama puts forward for the Supreme Court vacancy. The excuse of “we shouldn’t do this in an election year” holds no water, even if the Senate apparently is all over this idea of how “the people should have a voice”. Last I checked, the people don’t actually get to pick justices. That’s the job of the President and of Congress.

And yes, I get that the idea here is that ‘the people’ are in theory supposed to exercise their opinion here by choosing the next President and influencing the justice selection that way.

But y’know what? The election isn’t for another eight months. Obama doesn’t step down from office for another ten.

Furthermore, ‘the people’ had a voice. ‘The people’ put Obama in office. Just because the Senate doesn’t happen to like that particular choice of ‘the people’ does not change in any way the fact that he was elected to be there, so they should deal.

And speaking as one of ‘the people’, I want Obama to be able to continue to do his job for the next ten months, without the Senate falling all over itself to go “LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” and refusing to do their jobs.

It’s stupid. It’s pointless. And it needs to stop. Any private citizen trying to pull that shit at their place of employment would very quickly find themselves fired. We don’t get to refuse to do our jobs just because we don’t like the CEOs of the companies we work for.

So hey, United States Senators: DO. YOUR. JOB. Obama’s done his job by picking a nominee. Now you should do yours.

Give Garland a fair hearing. And if you don’t like the guy and Obama comes back at you with somebody else, give that person a fair hearing too.

I had a look at some of the Senate Twitter accounts, and I’m seeing the Republicans RT’ing a bunch of commentary about how the people should have a voice in the matter. Dandy. The people have some petitions going around, and I’ve signed the one from If you want a voice in the matter too, pick one:

  1. WeAreUltraViolet.Org

And even though I have a bunch of malaise about posting anything political, I’m going to go ahead and post this anyway. Because the people should have a voice here.

And maybe for once we can be heard over the angry bees.

Editing to add: Mr. Scalzi just put up this post re: the Voice of the People, which I note as a helpful lesson on remembering that all of us are ‘the people’, and we all need to remember that just because some other portion of ‘the people’ didn’t vote the way we want them to, that doesn’t make them any less ‘the people’.