Science is desperate. It needs to believe itself honorable. It's threatened by the fact that it's not safe for so many of us. Period. It's just not safe.- A. Hope Jahren, in an interview about women in science and advancement in plant biology.
Her Story is a 6-episode new-media series that looks inside the dating lives of trans & queer women as they navigate the intersections of desire & identity.The show is co-written, co-produced, and co-starred by writer and One Billion Rising organizer Laura Zak and founder of The Trans 100 and We Happy Trans Jen Richards, and also stars Angelica Ross, founder of Trans Tech Social Enterprises. (CW: One of the side characters is hella transphobic, and there's smatterings of casual transphobia.)
Asha Leo of Refinery29 travels around the world to learn about international fashion subcultures and the way fashion affects society worldwide. So far she's met Gothic (and other) Lolitas in Amsterdam, Moroccan expat culture, hijra in India, Hasidic designers in Brooklyn, Korean matchy-matchy fashion for couples, and the highly colorful world of Japanese decora.
Singaporean student Agatha Tan wrote an open letter to her principal after noticing major flaws with a sex ed program at her junior college. Specifically, the Focus on the Family-created program posited relationship advice for "guys" and "gals" and what they really think that seem to be directly cribbed from a joke book. Focus on the Family claimed that it wasn't designed as sex ed but as a "relationship education" program (here's Singapore's actual sex ed curriculum) and that it was supposedly based on research studies about the neurological differences between men and women. The principal says that the facilitators were "ineffective", and the Ministry of Education says that they will cease their working relationship with FotF soon.
WYNC's Manoush Zomorodi investigates the gender gap in tech and computer science, and finds a number of people working towards bridging that gap, from childhood to university: completely restructuring a required computer science course to make it more welcoming to female university students, celebrating women in computing history (and recognizing that computer science wasn't so male-dominated, and making children's books and toys (even dollhouses!) for kids to explore programming concepts on their own. She also noticed that the majority of female computer science students in the US had grown up overseas - possibly because computer science isn't a common subject in American high schools. This is slated to change: a new AP Computer Science subject is in the works, with efforts to get 10,000 highly-trained computer science teachers in 10,000 high schools across the US. If you want to join Mindy Kaling in supporting young girls entering computer science, tech, and coding, there's a lot [more inside]
The Trans 100 is a list curated by We Happy Trans based on nominations of 100 key trans people breaking ground in American culture, arts, social justice, and politics. [more inside]
Natalie Reed, who often writes about gender politics and social justice, calls out "born this way" (especially in a gender/trans* context) as its own form of gender essentialism:
“Gender identity” is still gender-essentialism. It’s just a gender-essentialism where we get to continue thinking men are men, and women are women, and these are inherent parts of who you are, but we also get to ignore the uncomfortable demand of DEFINING “man” and “woman” and what we mean by that, and thereby dodge the uncomfortable fact that any such definition within any essentialist framework necessarily invalidates, undermines, insults or excludes at least some trans or intersex people. It’s a way to go right on believing that our womanhood, or our manhood, or whatever “gender identity” we have, is an immutable and intrinsic quality of ourselves, and thereby maintain the comforting belief that it’s concrete and stable and unassailable, but without having to deal with any of the difficult implications of that, without having to interrogate our definitions, without having to worry about what we mean, and without having to really think about gender beyond the generally received notions. It’s a way to be transgender but still think of our genders the way cis people do.
Right now Baltimore, MD plays host to FemmeCon, a biannual gathering for those who "seek to explore, discuss, dissect, and support Queer Femme as a transgressive, gender-queer, stand-alone, and empowered identity and provide a space for organizing and activism within Queer communities". Some of the issues faced by queer femme culture include femme invisibility in larger queer culture, the lack of non-stereotypical role models, being classed 'femme' by default, dismissal as "too much", as well as intersectional issues of femme with race, gender, and disability. In the meantime, femme subcultures such as tomboy femme, hard femme, and FEMME SHARKS as well as femmes in specific regions come together for inspiration, expression, power, creativity and support from each other - as well as from appreciative butches.
"Melissa" (name changed for privacy) is a transwoman who was badly injured in a car accident and is in hospital in critical condition. While in treatment, some of the medical staff and her family decided that since she still had a "male" body, to make things "less confusing", they will erase 4 years of her female identity by referring to her as a man and taking her off her hormone therapy. (Warning: possible triggers) As little light puts it:
And if she woke up as from a deep sleep, she’d wake up into a world where her best friend was dead, where her body had been forcibly edited back to its pre-transition state and given a few more years of the influence of testosterone to boot, where her memory and self were hazy and confusing and nobody was calling her by the right name and pronouns, they were in fact pretending four years of her life, the four years she finally got to be honest and true to herself, those had never happened, and shh, she’s just confused, shhhh, calm down, let’s work on fixing your memory some more.[more inside]