NC HB2 – and How NC Protects Children

Yes, you actually read this right.

North Carolina has been in the news lately, due to an absurd law aimed at stigmatizing trans people (see a previous post, http://crimeagainstnature.org/2016/03/24/north-carolina-cant-even-do-the-wrong-thing-right/).  Basically, the law, which includes no penalty for non-compliance, requires government to designate multi-stall bathrooms for use by only one gender as indicated on birth certificates. It also prevents cities and counties from passing non-discrimination ordinances for pretty much anything, including to require bathroom access be properly allowed. Obviously, this is problematic.

The stated reason for these laws is to protect young boys and girls from sexual predators, who, apparently, will enter a bathroom of a gender different than their birth certificate and expose themselves and/or watch the children for sexual gratification.

Note that the law doesn’t make it illegal to enter a bathroom based on your birth certificate (you may be committing trespass however, if the property owner does not approve, if your birth certificate isn’t what the state thinks it should be).

That said, it is a felony (and has been for some time) for an adult (anyone 16 or older) take indecent liberties (which includes exposing the adult’s genitals) with a child (NC § 14-202.1) – if someone is 5 years older (or more) than the child, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire. There’s a similar law in NC § 14-202.2 that applies to children committing this against another child. One difference between the adult and child versions is that someone 16+ years old needs to be 5 years older than the victim under 16, while a child committing the similar child crime needs to only be three years older. Thus, it’s indecent liberties with a child if a 15 year old exposes themself to a 12 year old, but not if a 16 year old exposes themself to a 12 year old. Maybe that would be worth fixing if the state wasn’t so fixated on keeping transwomen out of bathrooms.  Importantly it doesn’t matter what sex the victim or the perpetrator are – same or different sex, the law still applies. And there is no exception for bathrooms or locker rooms.

So I decided to investigate a few things.  Particularly, how does North Carolina protect children and others from sexual and other acts, other than just indecent liberties.

North Carolina wisely disallows children under 14 from marrying, even if pregnant.  But if there is a pregnancy, there can be a marriage of a child to another person.  The fetus doesn’t need to actually be born, since abortion is legal in NC.

NC § 14-12.7 prohibits masks on public roads and sidewalks – intended to make some KKK activities illegal, no doubt. Fortunately NC § 14-12.11 protects the traditional Halloween costume, masquerade balls, labor union meetings (sometimes), and anyone that has the permission of the town’s board.  There is no exception for my tinted motorcycle helmet however.

NC does regulate sexual activity, perhaps to protect children along with, apparently, others, like gay men.  For instance, § 14-177 makes “crime against nature” illegal – basically any penetration (however slight) other than a penis into a vagina between two people (or any sex with an animal), consensual or not.  See here for some more details (note the link includes discussion of child sex abuse). Of course much of the activity technically illegal under state law was determined to be legal under Lawrence v. Texas, but for some inexplicable reason, NC’s legislature doesn’t want to repeal this law – they want all you straight people having oral sex to know you shouldn’t do that.

NC § 14-184 makes fornication & adultery illegal.  Basically, it’s fornication if a straight couple has sex where both are unmarried, and it’s adultery if one or both are married to someone else – but NC goes a bit further and makes all cohabitation or “bedding” together illegal if it is done “lewdly and lasciviously” – you get to figure out what that means. However, if the two people are the same sex, it’s okay under this law (I don’t think they got around to making this law gender neutral even after their homosexual sex law became invalidated).  Too bad North Carolina doesn’t have an anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation! But because they don’t, straight people don’t have the protections gays have, at least as far as fornicating together in bed. Oh, it’s also illegal if the fornicating/adulterating (?) couple checks into a hotel and claims to be married (NC § 14-186).

NC’s sexual obscenity statute (NC § 14-190.1) defines sexual conduct as to include the portrayal of someone naked or in undergarments being tortured. I don’t know if the Catholic Church and others who depict Christ crucified realize the sexual undertones of their portrayals – but fortunately there’s an out in the reasonableness standard, at least until there are enough people offended by that depiction to declare it obscene.

Apparently unknown to state legislators, NC § 14-190.9 makes it illegal for an adult – same sex or opposite sex – to, in a public place (which is places the public can go – most business and government bathrooms, for instance) expose their genitals to a child under 16 for “arousing or gratifying sexual desire.”  Even better than HB2 because it actually addresses the concern raised by legislators and others in passing HB2, this protects kids from all adults, and is actually targeted at the problem that legislators didn’t realize they already solved years ago.

In addition, NC § 14-196 protects us all – adult and children – from phone sex, which is illegal in NC (also computer sex, if done using a computer modem – I personally think that would hurt, but obviously I don’t have the mind of a legislator in North Carolina).

So, certainly, North Carolina seems to have found all sorts of strange ways to protect us from gay sex, wearing the wrong motorcycle helmet, marrying at 14 (unless pregnant or making pregnant!), telling hotel clerks you’re married when you aren’t, and phone sex.

Perhaps they would be better off trying to make bathrooms actually safe. You know, safe not just from imagined predators, but safe for trans people – including trans kids. You start that process by not giving state approval to bigotry.

Remember Stonewall, Police Abuse, and Presumption of Guilt

NYCD Police Department Patch

NYCD Police Department Patch

In the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots, in NYC, it is commonly known that the NYC gay community stood up and said, “This is not okay.” They stood up to both the police department, who used humiliating and abusive tactics, and also against the laws of the time which were designed to punish homosexuality.

What isn’t as commonly known is that this may have been less about gay rights than about trans rights. While it was true that gay men (and sometimes women) were arrested for pursuing relationships, it was just as often – if not more often – about the gender expectations, specifically clothing, worn. It was easier to arrest someone for cross-dressing.

Lesbians and FTMs wearing “male” clothing (various ordinances required a certain number of supposedly gender-appropriate clothing) or males wearing women’s clothing were in violation of the law. Of course an officer would verify your sex matched your gender expression in exactly the way you would expect a non-enlightened officer to do so.

Stonewall was frequented by drag queens and transvestites among many others. So it isn’t surprising that when the raid began in the early morning of the June 28, 1969, with these clothing verifications taking place, people got upset. While this was hardly an unusual occurrence, people had finally had enough. And the drag queens were right out in front. As were the other groups. That’s probably one of the things that made Stonewall so significant: it wasn’t just one group of people who faced abuse (such as trans people). It was many, and involved intersectionality between gender, sexual orientation, and poverty.

So, you would think the home of Stonewall would have progressed, and that other departments would have policies and procedures that take this into account. And somewhat, they do. There are policies in most major police departments that call for the fair treatment of trans victims and suspects, albeit often not as progressive as we might want to see.

Earlier this year, the NYPD was accused of profiling trans people who happened to be carrying condoms – something perfectly legal and done by many law abiding citizens every day. Yet, this was seen as proof – because the person was trans or otherwise appeared to be a member of some group the police officer believed to be associated with prostitution (blacks, for instance) – that the person was out looking for someone to pay for sex. And when it came time to stop the city’s “Stop and Frisk” program (where people are frisked based on officer intuition and bias), which disproportionally affects innocent trans people and LGBT people of color, the mayor vetoed the change.

 

Of course NYC isn’t the only place that treats LGBT, and particularly T people, badly, although NYC of all places should have the resources to not only understand the profiling issues, but to go further and lead the nation in what positive policing should look like.

But let’s look at some of the other incidents in America. In California, a police officer is accused of raping a transwoman. While on duty. From the Gay Star News article,

According to the complaint, the officer pulled up to the victim and demanded to know what she was doing. He then ordered her to lean into the driver’s side window of his police car.

When she leaned forward, the officer groped her and asked if she was ‘a nasty shemale’.

After she responded that she was transsexual, the uniformed officer allegedly lead her to a secluded area and attacked her.

A condom which was reportedly used by the attacker was kept by the victim to use as evidence, and has been handed over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

It’s not just rape (and the above case was not the only recent rape of a trans person by a police officer in the US).  It’s also how we treat people locked up.  From a story on trans immigration detainees in Women’s E-News:

“I don’t think it is difficult to gauge the level of risk for transgender detainees,” said Keren Zwick, the managing attorney for the National Immigrant Justice Center’s LGBT Immigrant Rights Initiative and Adult Detention Project. “I have never met a transgender detainee who hasn’t experienced some kind of sexual harassment, at the very minimum, or being propositioned for sex or being called names. Never once.”

Now much of this is not committed by officers, although officers certainly should be watching detainees.  But the article cited above also talks about harassment and abuse by immigration officers, including threats of solitary confinement for continuing to take medication, retaliation for reporting abuse, and even being forced to drink semen by an officer.

Something’s not right here. This is happening too often.

The statistics back this up too – in the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs’ report on LGBT Hate Violence in 2012, they found that trans victims of violence were 3.32 times more likely to face violence from police than non-trans (but LGB) people.  In Injustice at Every Turn, a survey of trans people, 22% of trans people reported harassment by police – that is, nearly 1 in 4 trans people say that police have harassed them. It’s more than 1 in 3 when trans people of color are surveyed.  6% reported physical assault by police and 2% reported sexual assault.  As a result, 46% said they feel uncomfortable seeking police assistance. Imagine that.

After all, who wants to be laughed at when they report a crime? Who wants to be the subject of officer chit-chat about what weird freak the officer had to deal with that way? Even more significant, different is often seen as dangerous to an officer – and the police response may be quite disproportionate to the need – multiple officers with backup, for instance, when a victim is reporting a crime (and there is no evidence of active violence). Why do the officers need backup when they don’t for other situations? Simply because the person is trans. Thus they must be dangerous – at least in some officers’ heads.

We need to expect more from our professional police.  Does your department have good policies? Will it treat trans people with respect, and take their complaints seriously? It’s worth finding out.

You Want To Talk Bathrooms?

If you listen to the right wing, their opposition to every LGBT protection law that includes gender identity comes down to bathrooms.

In California, AB1266 recently became law.  This law basically made it explicit: trans people have rights, even if they are children, and that includes the right to be treated as a member of the gender they identify as.

What gets lost in the discussion of the law is that this law didn’t change the law!  Seriously.  It was already California law that you not discriminate, and there has been plenty of case law in other areas establishing that treating a transwoman as a man (for example) is sex discrimination, both federally (this is a positive recent change) and within California law.

What it did do is end a bunch of legal bickering that occurred in more conservative districts whenever a trans person wanted rights in schools.  It made it easy for the bigots to figure out the law – they didn’t need to think anymore, which apparently is good for bigots.  Now they have no excuse and no legal arguments over what the law actually says.  So it did do something, even if it wasn’t necessary: it made it harder for districts to waste time in court while being an asshole to a trans student.

That’s probably why it was supported by so many people.  According to the bill’s Senate Floor Analysis, it was supported by Equality California, Gender Spectrum, GSA Network, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Transgender Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union of California, Anti-Defamation League, Bay Area Youth Summit, California Communities United Institute, California Federation of Teachers, California LGBT Health & Human Services Network, California State PTA, California Teachers Association, Child & Adolescent Gender Center, Family Equality Council, GLSEN, GLSEN Orange County, HonorPAC, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, Labor/Community Strategy Center, LAUSD, LGBT Community Center of the Desert, Los Angeles Gender Center, MALDEF, National Association of Social Workers, CA Chapter National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, North County LGBTQ Resource Center, Our Family Coalition, Pacific Pride Foundation, Public Advocates Inc., Public Counsel, Restorative Schools Vision Project, San Diego Cooperative Charter School, San Diego LGBT Community Center, San Francisco Unified School District, The Center Long Beach, The Center OC, The Trevor Project, and Youth Justice Coalition.

Yes, that’s a lot of support.  Who opposed it?  You would think that if this created problems in schools, at least one education-related organization would oppose it.  So let’s see…who opposed it officially?  It’s a short list:

  • California Catholic Conference
  • Capitol Resource Institute
  • Concerned Women for America
  • Traditional Values Coalition

I had to look up “Capitol Resource Institute” (CRI) to find out who they were.  They are a right-wing Christian lobbying group, who opposes gay marriage, LGBT rights, and other “left” causes like public money funding public schools (rather than vouchers, which of course CRI supports). They are also working with the creators of California’s hateful Proposition 8 to come up with a ballot initiative to remove rights from trans students.

The others are also right wing Christian groups.

Not one educational organization was willing to officially oppose the bill.  That should tell you something: restating existing law is hardly the end of the world as we know it.

So, what is the opposition?  The guys trying to appear to be sane according to a Huffington Post article that quotes an AP story, say,

In an interview with the Associated Press, Donnelly said that his sons, aged 13 and 16, are “horrified” at the prospect of using the same bathrooms as peers who were born female.

Yes, I’m sure that Donnelly’s kids have no idea that vaginas exist.  After all, I suspect Donnelly believes in saving sex for marriage – you shouldn’t know anything about it until then, after all.

But, more significantly, the opposition is always about bathrooms.

Except it’s not about bathrooms.  It’s about basic dignity.  It’s about being treated as who you are.  And it applies to far more than bathrooms – it ensures that a girl is treated as a girl in all aspects by the school.  That’s what it’s about.  It’s not about seeing penises or vaginas.

But, if they want to talk bathrooms, let’s talk bathrooms.

One California Representative opposes the recent law because it invades the privacy of the other 98% of students.  For instance, he says:

Some of my most pressing questions are: What are the long-term repercussions of this measure? Will some kids be too embarrassed to use the bathroom or locker rooms, knowing that a member of the opposite sex could enter any time? Could this create unneeded anxiety with students, creating a massive learning distraction? Will creating gender neutral facilities increase the likelihood of a sexual assault on campus?

Let’s look at that.  Let’s start talking about kids not being able to use the bathroom.  Let’s talk about the 7% – a large part of that “98%” he talks about – who have trouble using public facilities due to Paruresis, a medical condition commonly known as “shy bladder.”  According to the International Paruresis Association, restrooms could be designed better.  To give people privacy.  Then this 7% could pee in peace.

But it’s not just that 7%.  We have gay people in our society.  Really.  And it’s 10% of the population.  The California legislature concerned about the privacy rights of the 98% is also concerned that somehow transgender students will be attracted to the students in the bathroom they are using, but not the bathroom that doesn’t match their gender.  Apparently he doesn’t realize that not all trans people are gay.  Heck, most aren’t.  Duh.  But 10% of the population is gay, and is using showers and facilities.  They might even be attracted to someone.  Rick Santorum was definitely worried about this when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was being repealed.  So we have to worry about that 10% too.

Of course it’s not just gays – there are those pesky bisexuals.  46% of the male population, according to a Kinsey study on behavior (not attraction) or reaction (you can guess what that means) of men to men and women, showed they were at least somewhat bisexual.  That’s an older study, but I suspect men in the 1940s and 1950s were even less likely to tell a researcher about their bisexuality than it would today.  Now, most of this 46% doesn’t identify as bisexual, but does that matter to the right wing?  Probably not.  And plenty of other studies have confirmed Kinsey’s studies, although it is important to distinguish between differing definitions of bisexuality (as an aside, Kinsey disliked that term). And would they want a bisexual student peeing in a urinal next to their boy? My guess is no. So they must be excluded.

So let’s see… 98% of the population needs privacy from trans people.  Of that 98%, 7% of them can’t urinate with others in their space or sound area.  So that’s .98 multiplied by .93 which yields 91% of the population doesn’t need bathroom design changes if trans people aren’t allowed in any bathroom.  If we take that 91% and multiply it by 90% (let’s exclude the 10% of gays from bathrooms, so nobody worries about the gay guy checking them out), we find out that 81% of the population is now okay.  But, remember, 46% is bi.  So 54% (the non-Bi chunk) of 81% is 43%.

43% of the population would be just fine if trans students, people with paruresis, bisexual attractions or behavior, or gays were banned from restrooms.  Of course that would require us to ban 57% from the bathroom.  Or at least build bathrooms, showers, and other environments that are accessible to the majority (the 57%).

You know what meets the needs of both the 43% and the 57%?  Private facilities.  Seriously.

But of course none of the legislators or right wing lobbying groups talk about making facilities private.  No, they just talk about excluding people. Even though 57% of people is a lot of people not peeing if they have their way.

It’s time the 57% get their rights back.

Defending Marriage of Cousins and 14 Year Olds

The right wing in the USA is defending us against gays marrying. And also the threat of trans kids not being accepted by their schools (see the actions of the National Association of Marriage).

But there’s a few things they don’t campaign against.

14 year old marriage, for instance.

There is no minimum marriage age in Maine. There is a requirement for people under 16 years old (who could be marrying a person of any age) to go through a court hearing, but, in theory, a 6 year old could marry in Maine. This is not unusual – several states have similar laws.

Or, until recently, Kansas. Now you have to be 15. This was enacted after a 14 year old from Nebraska was married to an adult, also from Nebraska, in the jurisdiction of Kansas.

Lots of states let 16 year olds get married. Ohio may have one of the strangest – the age is 18 for men, but 16 for girls (with consent of parents). That’s not the strange part – lots of states have had different ages for males and females. The strange part is the section about how a Juvenile Court can give consent for the 16 year old girl:

3101.04 Consent by juvenile court.
When the juvenile court files a consent to marriage pursuant to the juvenile rules, the probate court may thereupon issue a license, notwithstanding either or both the contracting parties for the marital relation are under the minimum age prescribed in section 3101.01 of the Revised Code. The license shall not issue until section 3101.05 of the Revised Code has been complied with, and until such child has been born, or it is found beyond doubt by the juvenile court that the minor female is pregnant and intends to have the child.

Yes, that’s right. She should be pregnant and not intending to abort. Thank you, Ohio, for letting children marry, but only when they don’t believe in abortion. Abortion is wrong, after all, but it’s not wrong for a kid to marry (yes, that’s sarcasm).

As I said, age based on sex is not unusual. But New Hampshire has this gem:

RHA 457:4 Marriageable. – No male below the age of 14 years and no female below the age of 13 years shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage that is entered into by one male and one female, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void. No male below the age of 18 and no female below the age of 18 shall be capable of contracting a valid marriage between persons of the same gender, and all marriages contracted by such persons shall be null and void.

Yes, they write in 13 for girls and 14 for boys. But only if they aren’t gay (same sex marriage is legal in NH, but only for adults). If they are gay, they need to wait until they are 18. Because 13 year old girls having gay sex is wrong. Straight sex? I guess that must be okay in New Hampshire. To be fair, 13 and 14 year olds referenced above would need a court hearing.

(yes, they mean sex, not gender above, as these are typically confused in statutes – I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let a 17 year old transman marry a woman)

Interestingly, 13 year olds getting married (as long as they aren’t gay!) doesn’t seem to bother the likes of the National Association of Marriage. Go figure.

Nor is cousin marriage. In 2010, the Governor of Hawaii was famously quoted saying,

For those people who want to makes this into a civil rights issue, and of course those in favor of the bill, they see it as a civil rights issue. And I understand them drawing that conclusion. But people on the other side would point out, well, we don’t allow other people to marry even — it’s not a civil right for them. First cousins couldn’t marry, or a brother and a sister and that sort of thing.

Just one problem – Hawaii does allow first cousins to marry.

Apparently, poly-bi people are set in Hawaii too. Hawaii doesn’t prohibit a man from marrying a woman, even if he’s married to a man in another state – here’s the restrictions on multiple marriage:

The man does not at the time have any lawful wife living and that the woman does not at the time have any lawful husband living

Remember Arizona? Cousins can marry. If they are old.  From statute title 25, section 101.B:

Notwithstanding subsection A, first cousins may marry if both are sixty-five years of age or older or if one or both first cousins are under sixty-five years of age, upon approval of any superior court judge in the state if proof has been presented to the judge that one of the cousins is unable to reproduce.

So a 64 year old woman who has had a hysterectomy couldn’t marry her 64 year old first-cousin. But if the man was 65, she could, with court approval. We’re worried about kids after all – if no kids are involved, cousins can marry. Unless they are gay and thus the two can’t both be biological parents of the same kid.

And, Maine? They let cousins marry, if they have genetic counseling. If they aren’t gay.  See 19A 701 B:

Notwithstanding paragraph A, a man may marry the daughter of his father’s brother or sister or the daughter of his mother’s brother or sister, and a woman may marry the son of her father’s brother or sister or the son of her mother’s brother or sister as long as, pursuant to sections 651 and 652, the man or woman provides the physician’s certificate of genetic counseling.

There is no such exception for gays.

Of course, in general, the idea of cousin marriage overall is not unusual. In fact, 20 states allow cousin marriage without any requirement of sterility or court permission.

These child marriages and cousin marriages will be recognized everywhere in the USA except possibly Arizona and Utah. Of course a same-sex marriage from other states isn’t recognized in 48 states. The actual number is much smaller, generally only in states that themselves allow same-sex marriage licenses.

Meanwhile, the right wing is protecting us from gay marriage. For the Children. But it’s okay with them, apparently, to recognize child marriage. Or cousin marriage. Or any of the other things that the right wing uses as an argument against gay marriage.

Maybe, just maybe, we should focus on fixing the mess of marriage laws in the USA, and strive for at least a semblance of consistency within a state (if heterosexual cousins can get married, why not gays? If a 13 year old girl can get married, why not a 13 year old boy – note that I will go on record as definitely not supporting either 13 year old being married!).

 

Another Murder & Gay Panic

On Sunday, July 14, news reports indicate that a transwoman was killed in Philadelphia.  She was killed with a hatchet and screwdriver, then dumped in a vacant lot.  The woman has not yet been identified.  I’ll warn you that this post may be triggering.

This is not the first murder of a trans person in Philadelphia, nor, sadly, do I expect it to be the last.

In this murder, the accused (who has confessed) claims to have been intimate with the victim.  Charles Sargent is accused of committing the murder upon discovery that the victim was trans.

I expect over the next few weeks to hear opinions about whether or not the woman was a prostitute.  Trans murder victims commonly experience this – and the reporting rarely does much more than scratch the surface beyond placing blame on the victim.  For instance, it’s rare indeed that the reason too many trans people turn to prostitution is discussed.  It’s rare that the conversation is framed in the larger context of continual and persistant discrimination in employment, housing and health care that trans people face.  It’s rare that the reality of too many trans people – that their families disown them – is discussed.  Nor is it discussed that in a struggle to just survive, many trans people have no choice but to live a life – one often without legal employment, good housing, and family support – as who they are.

But we need to step back – we don’t know this woman, and don’t know the circumstances of her death.  And that’s the point.  Too often the conversation jumps ahead to assumptions based on bias.  She’s trans, so she’s …

I also expect to hear about gay panic.  There is a couple of common reasons given for murders of trans people.  The first is just plain hatred of trans people – a guy (it’s almost always a guy or guys) or a group of guys sees or knows of a trans person.  The person might be a transman or a transwoman, but regardless the murder(s) feels they need to “do something” about the person.  That translates into brutal attacks.

The other common reason given is gay panic.  Essentially it comes down to “I can’t be gay.”  Somehow, that translates into killing the person you were intimate with to somehow prove you aren’t gay.  Being gay is worse than being a murderer in the eyes of some.  Often, the murder doesn’t occur unless the person is either surprised, or, more commonly, they are in danger of being found, or just found out by others, to have had intimate relations with someone (or knowledge of that person’s trans status becomes known or is in danger of becoming known to others).  It’s not so much the fear of being gay in many cases as the fear of being found out to be gay.

Of course intimacy with a woman doesn’t make a man gay, whether she is a trans or non-trans woman.  But too often trans and gay get confused.  Even so, bigotry is bigotry, whether it is sexual orientation or gender identity.  And it all comes down to how strongly people feel they need to comply to expectations for their gender and sex – who that gender or sex should sleep with or what identity people with a given sex are supposed to have (see this blog’s terminology page for how I am using the words sex and gender).

Gay panic becomes a legal defense to some.  The so-called “gay panic” defense in law is an attempt to say that the person was nearly out of their minds with rage, and didn’t plan the violent attack.  Fortunately, the American Bar Association may be recognizing the danger of blaming the victim’s orientation for an attack.  It’s a reprehensible defense that attempts to blame the victim.

So all members of the LGBT community and it’s allies need to keep the media accountable.  Murder is not justified by fear of being gay.  Even the most homophobic person is responsible for their violent actions.  The name and pronouns the victim used of herself (I’m assuming she identified as a woman, but if not, then once we know we need to use proper pronouns) should be used in reporting – anything else is an attack on a dead victim.

That said, this is not entirely the main story.  The main story is simple:

Someone has lost a daughter.  Someone has lost a friend.  Someone’s life was taken, and she’s no longer with us.  We need to remember that.  We need to remember her.

Promises that Can’t Be Delivered

It’s hard to degay someone.  That’s what JONAH, a Jewish “conversion therapy” group, is finding out.  Thanks to the SPLC!

From the story at the Washington Post:

The SPLC’s lawsuit against JONAH said that it erroneously “claimed that their services were scientifically proven to be effective.” It also described sessions at JONAH, which involved clients being asked to undress in front of a mirror and recreate scenes of childhood sexual abuse.

To see the full story – Click Here.

Sexual Orientation is a Continuum

Uh, no.

It’s not.  Really.

Yes, I know there are gays and lesbians and bisexuals.  Sure.  I know that some people are mostly attracted to men or mostly attracted to women, but have some attraction for the other gender, and that the relative preference for one gender over the other can be all over the map, depending on the person.

I get that.  But I still say this is the wrong way of looking at sexual orientation.

This is the political way of looking at it: we separate people into groups, primarily based on whether what they do is persecuted by society at large.  Straight people don’t get persecuted, pretty much everyone else does.  So we define groups based on the factor that causes persecution: is the person attracted to the same sex?  Then we divide this further: is the person attracted to both sexes, and to what degree (perhaps)?  Maybe we even throw in, “I’m not attracted to anyone” or “I’m only somewhat attracted to anyone.”  And, for politics and identity, this can be a fine way of dividing things.  Nor will I fault Kinsey for his use of a continuum scale.

But is that really the most important thing in finding relationships?  For some people, yes, sex or gender is an absolute – the relationship can’t work without that, there is no attraction without that.  For others, it’s not important at all, but some other characteristic – possibly something that most other people don’t care about – is what is important and can disqualify those who lack it from being considered as partners.  Others might find sex or gender important, but not an absolute – they might strongly prefer men, but at the same time be open to a woman who has certain traits.

Sexual orientation is a great simplification of reality – and why that translates into the inapplicability of the experience of one person with an orientation to members of the entire group that share that orientation.  It’s a simplification of the mosaic of desire into a simple line.  You lose most of the mosaic when you turn it’s two or three dimensional design into a one-dimensional line (or worse, a binary choice). It’s important that our expressions of experience consider that not everyone – even those in the category we identify with – would agree with all the things we consider essential to our experience as a member of that category.  If you know one gay man, you know one gay man!  That one gay man’s experience may or may not be similar to other people’s.  We’re a mosaic, not a line.