Roseanne Barr and Transphobia

You might remember Roseanne Barr from the 90’s comedy Roseanne where she played a single working mother struggling to raise children while fighting against male oppression. Later on in her career and personal life she stated unequivocally that she supported same-sex marriage. She seemed to be heading on the right track. Back in such days it might have been progressive (pending on who you ask) but now her feminism has taken a reactionary turn for the worse: transphobia.

Recently Roseanne has made headlines again only this time not for comedy. Reacting to a story about a Transgender woman (transitioning from a male identity) entering the woman’s restroom; Roseanne repeatedly called the woman in question, Colleen Francis, a creep as well as various other transphobic slurs. Though she attempted to back pedal later on from denying the existence of transpeople her substitution of “they are not real” with “they are secret rapists” is piss poor.

In a tweet conversation she declared that only woman who lack penises are “real woman” and that Colleen was “forcing her penis” in the metaphoric faces of the other young girls.

Obviously such a statement is heinous and belongs nowhere in the vocabulary of a spokesperson for a revolutionary organization. If the Peace and Freedom Party has any self-respect than they will dump this Transmisogynic bigot and replace her with someone worthy, and educated enough, to uphold the basic human rights which everyone, regardless of gender identity, deserve.

The Queer Trans Youth Summit 2012

Amid the rain and humid whether a solitary figure walked, paced back and forth while waiting for a ride. While this figure walked he listened to death metal and tired his best to pass the time. An onlooker might think what this person was doing all by himself loitering around a Best Western Inn, others might disregard him as a weirdo. But not me, why? Because that figure was me!

Such a situation is not an uncommon occurrence for many young grassroots activists. Deprived of means of transportation such people will do anything to snare a ride, especially if it is to such a highly anticipated event such as the Maine Queer Trans Youth Summit.

Fancying myself a reporter I undergo such experiences routine but it was always good to not spend too much time in the wild; needless to say I was relieved when my ride came and we were on our way towards the Summit. The van ride was filled with about half-a-dozen other college students all of whom were eager to arrive at one of the few events in the year where Queer youth such as themselves weren’t ostracized.

Arriving at the Lewiston-Auburn college of Southern Maine everyone signed in before taking their seats in a wide chamber clearly designed for convergences such as these. The speaker talked of life beyond equality and how one day complete equality would be ours if we decided to fight for it. Yet arriving late as my group did most of the opening presentation was lost to us.

Such proved not to be a problem; however, as afterwards the great mass of young people dispersed to attend their chosen workshop. With so many great workshops on the agenda missing out on some of the commencement speech proved little more than numbing. The workshops were many and great and I had a great difficulty in choosing which one to first attend.

Ultimately, though, I decided on the shop on cyber-bulling hosted by Kay Stephen (Author of Cyber-Slammed). During this workshop we were given a quick run-down on what constitutes cyber-bullying, the different kinds of cyber-bullying, and the six primary methods bullies along with some simple counter-measures one could enacted to protect one’s identity. The workshop proved to be enlightening and something which would be of value to my own efforts to prevent cyber-bullying.

Following the end of the first workshop was a brief lunch break where attendees could feast on the myriad assortment of meals and drinks. Cruising along the hallways one could pick up a veritable array of free loot at the numerous tables.

Moving past the lunch break was a period of safe-sex and HIV prevention lectures and games. Attending a group which played a AIDS prevention version of Jeopardy, and being accused of witchcraft for our winning knowledge, it was among the funniest amusements of the day; fun disguised as learning could not be a better combination for the young persons in attendance.

Post-HIV prevention games marched the second series of workshops. Once again my brain was wacked by which one to attend by after some mild mental gymnastics decided on “How to Support and Start a GSTA.” The speakers were from the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (G.L.S.E.N). Our hosts proved to be knowledgeable activists and officiated on each attendee’s needs (which proved to be diverse as among the youth who joined each had a different situation). I gave some vital contact information which I hoped would be worthy for future efforts and went on my merry way.

But alas with the end of the second series of workshops also came the end of the day.

Shuffling back to the chamber where everyone met at the beginning of the day we listened to a powerful speaker bellow about the history of struggle the Queer community endured and fought and advocated. His words were only matched by his passion and by the end of the speech he, a professor at the college, received a standing ovation and several thanks for his energy.

So ended the gathering everyone has been excited for. While you would have had to truly be there to experience it in its fullest form such were the details in rough. People from all over the state came, friends were made and relationships of struggle born. Until the next year no one would know what would come of everyone’s interactions but anyone, on the other hand, would know that judging from the enthusiasm, the results would be grand.

The Emergence of the Pine Tree Youth

The evening of October 20th was a crisp, warm night. The halls of Lewiston-Auburn College were abuzz with young people triumphant from a successful Queer Trans Youth Summit and above in the second floor gathered a dedicated group of similar activists. Just as those below left their event many attendees joined the hoopla above.

For this night wasn’t merely a host to oppressed sexual minorities but to progressive activists as well. In room 280 of the college roughly about two and half dozen people, ranging from young to middle aged, congregated to celebrate as well as brainstorm ideas on how to galvanize Maine’s upcoming generation of young persons.

Started through a grant and only recently grounded as a serious activist group, the Pine Tree Youth Organization (P.T.Y.O) has a serious mission: promote youth activism and garner older activists to become mentors for the younger ones. Some dismiss the idea of organizing young people PTYO doesn’t and indeed sees youth for what they are-the future!

Starting as most such gatherings usually do, after the obligatory round of introductions, was a short discussion on Pine Tree Youth Organization’s goals and structure. Amid the chorus of questions and ideas emerged a distinct order: Leadership, Direct Support, Media and Communications, Finance, and Mentor. Each cluster forming the nucleus of how the group as a whole would operate the buzz around which group to participate in was great indeed.

So thus began the break-out session. With all the participants moving around from group to group adding their thoughts as they hovered each “cluster” was greatly enriched. At the end of the forty minute session when all persons came back together to report on what they discussed the results where rich and evident.

The Leadership group formulated some important thesis on management, the Direct Support imagined some wonderful guidelines for project approval, finance and fundraising gave a detailed report on methods to raise funds and attract donors, and the media and communications group told of advertisement ideas to promote the group on the web and in real-life, all while the mentor network found some volunteers teach and nourish the younger crowd.

After each report-back a healthy conversation broke out in regards to specifics on each group’s efforts. From this further talk a great many points were clarified and made concrete.

Notes were taken, future actions solidified, and, once all the paperwork and oral presentations out of the way, pizza eaten. Dinner gave way to pleasant talk and promises to see one another again very soon. The room was cleaned and everyone went their separate ways dedicated more than ever to the struggle and the glorious future.

Trolling the Drone

What is a drone? Simply put it is a device employed by the U.S Empire to murder people (“suspected terrorists”) from afar without the military dogs ever blooding their hands. From Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Saudi Aribria, Iraq and beyond drones have been used to assassinate those which may threaten Western influence. Hundreds of died as a result of this weapon and to call it a abomination might be slightly understated.

There is hope, however.

On the 8th of October 2012 a group of progressive activists-three dozen strong-assembled in Portland Maine to take a defiant stand against drones. Organized by Code:Pink’s Lisa Savage and attended by young and old alike the gathering saw a convergence of individuals coming together to fight a common evil.

The event was street theater; one group of persons, acting as civilians, and another group of persons acting as drones, together formed a duo which thanks to the help of some bloody red bed sheets, showed part of the horror of drone warfare.

The”plays” were done in tight, well rehearsed manner which made the logistics directer, a Bowdin college student by the name of Phui Yi, a stellar force. The drones, dressed all in black while holding at chest level menacing signs displaying warmongering names, would slowly advance towards the group of carefree civilians. As the drones walked closer a heavy drum would beat louder and louder. Then, as they came within striking range (signified by the drone actor standing near the civilian) the drum would beat one last time, the loudest of all. At that moment the bombs were dropped and the civilians dead, blown into pieces by the vengeful wrath of the drones. The actors fell to the ground where the white bloody sheets covered them. The drones simply stared off into the horizon, menacing and unknown.

With several local radio shows wishing to talk with some of the participants and organizers the coverage of the event was to be considered decent for a Columbus Day outing. The whether was nice and hecklers were kept to a minimum. Truly it a spectacle worthy of commemorating Meadea Benjamin’s and other Feminist activists travel to Pakistan to show solidarity with the victims of drones. While the day’s theater was unlikely to stop the use of drones it did, if anything, show the locals that this issue was something worth talking about.

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