Activism Roundup

How to take action this week

Thank Governor Inslee For Standing With Immigrants  “Today, Governor Jay Inslee signed an executive order affirming that Washington State will never have a religious registry and will never keep any info on immigration status that isn’t necessary. Washington stands with immigrants and refugees and will never willingly participate in the deportation of our brothers and sisters. Thanks, Governor Inslee!”

Know Your Rights  Get information about what to do when encountering law enforcement at airports and other ports of entry into the U.S.; what to do if questioned about your immigration status; and what to do if ICE agents are at your door.

 This Saturday in Tacoma: Rally against transgender discrimination & I-1552  “The Trump Administration is attacking transgender students. We can’t let that kind of discrimination come to Washington. Join us this weekend as we rally against I-1552 and show opponents of equality that Washingtonians are united in defense of our transgender neighbors and friends.”

Tell Congress to Protect DV Survivors’ Health Care  “The ACA or Obamacare provides very specific help to victims, while also ensuring that almost all Americans have access to health care. Specifically, the ACA includes provisions to cover screening and brief counseling for domestic and interpersonal violence, prohibits insurance companies from denying victims of violence health insurance, allows victims to not be reliant on an abusive spouse to get health care for them or their children, and expands access to mental health services for women and children.”

News you can relate to

114 million Americans have no paid family leave “I went back to work 4 weeks after I had my baby because I couldn’t afford to stay home any longer. Even though my baby was in the NICU for a week and needed me, I had no choice but to go back to work.”

Gwen Ifill, Host Of ‘Washington Week’ And ‘PBS NewsHour,’ Dies “When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that’s the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,”

Transgender Americans Organize to Update IDs before January “By Friday, TransLawHelp.org had become a significant database of trans-positive legal resources for lawyers, notaries, and paralegals who are up for pitching in to help trans people update their documents. There’s also a link to an official fund so people can donate to cover the costs of document updates for trans people.”

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

How Men Can Help End Domestic Violence “It’s also our responsibility to talk about this issue and teach others what a healthy relationship looks like. It doesn’t matter how you start that conversation. What’s important is having the courage to do it.”

Argentina: hundreds of thousands of women set to protest against violence “This violence is trying to teach us a lesson, it wants to put us back in a traditional role into which we don’t fit any more,” says Cantabria. “It’s not a specific blow by a specific man against one woman in particular, it’s a message to all women to return to our stereotypical roles.”

Domestic Violence Shelters Are Turning Away LGBTQ Victims “Transgender women had a particularly tough time finding services that wouldn’t slam the door in their faces, but gay, bisexual, and transgender men also reported that domestic violence shelters for men rarely even exist.”

Back to school

school-backpacks

This week kids across Washington State headed back to school.

According to our state constitution, educating our children is the paramount duty of government. It is the greatest collective responsibility we share as a community.

Of course, there is no lack of debate or dispute over what that duty requires.

Washington State has been ordered into court on Sept 7th by the WA Supreme Court to answer questions about the ongoing impact of the McCleary Decision, which has been fining WA State $100,000 a day for over a year for not making significant progress on special education, teachers’ salaries and a host of school basics.

Arguments over “teaching to the test” continue to brew. School bathrooms have taken center stage in the growing conversations and controversies over gender. The Department of Justice has pointed out the dangers of the “preschool to prison pipeline” where African American children, poor children and foster children disproportionately find public education not a path to stability and achievement, but a process of escalating surveillance and criminalized discipline that results in imprisonment rather than empowerment.

And a recent study by the NW Network and the National Domestic Violence Hotline demonstrates that fear of mandatory reporting to police or CPS by reporters such as school teachers and counselors results in young people delaying or avoiding seeking help when they are experiencing harm.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the storms that surround education. But, instead of turning away from the challenges that face our schools, let’s get educated about these challenges and the positions on education held by every candidate seeking office this fall. Let’s make sure we have all our kids’ backs as they head back to school.

We’re here

After 10 years on the books, Washington State’s law protecting transgender people from discrimination is under attack. And we’re not alone. Similar fights are playing out across the country over the recent wave of anti-trans legislation. Why now? It seems that for all these years, Americans were okay with trans people in public bathrooms, but only so long as they remained on the margins, in a legal limbo, with no rules laid down to clarify their right to be there.

These so-called “bathroom bills” won’t keep transgender people out of public spaces. They simply shore up the status quo that makes trans lives illicit or invisible. Despite the ugly rhetoric, most of their supporters acknowledge that a trans person using the bathroom is not a threat to the person in the stall next to them. The only real threat is to the authority of the (previously unwritten) rules that force all of us to fit into rigid gender roles and punish us if we don’t.

The current backlash is a signal that the transgender movement has achieved a profound cultural shift. Social acceptance of trans people has made room to acknowledge all kinds of gender expression and identities that don’t fit neatly into the categories defined by standard bathroom signs.  The “bathroom bills” re-assert a clear dividing line between men and women. They lay down rules for which is which, and penalties for crossing that line.

If you have been watching television for the past 20 years, you have witnessed the progression of cultural attitudes toward trans people, from freaky (trans people on Jerry Springer) to respectable (trans people on Oprah). And if you have not been watching, now is a good time to start. Trans people are asserting the right to be respected and freaky at the same time (and we have our own shows!).

It’s not just state legislators anxious about this development. The trans community itself is grappling with the tension between “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” and “We’re here, we’re totally normal, so nothing to worry about!” The trans women of I Am Cait represent the whole range. As Caitlyn Jenner is thrust into the role of transgender celebrity, Professor Jenny Boylan leads a crash course on everything she needs to know to represent the diverse community. Jenner sees no contradiction between her goals of winning broad acceptance for transgender rights and protecting her own substantial privilege through electing right wing conservatives. And then there’s gender outlaw Kate Bornstein, whose version of liberation is making the world safe for everyone living outside the lines.

The conflict may be predictable, but the solidarity and commitment to hearing each other steals the show. Who would have thought reality television would bring us an exquisite model for approaching this essential conversation with realness, courage, and love?

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

Seattle councilwomen’s vote against NBA plan inspires sexist rage “The five female council members have not commented on the gender insults. But their four male counterparts, along with Mayor Ed Murray, have supported them. The mayor called the hate talk “misogynistic sexist vitriol.””

Listen to Every Word Janet Mock Has to Say about Trans Black Women “When folks say that they’re fighting on behalf or advocating for the protection of girls and women, they’re usually speaking about a very specific girl,” says Mock. “She’s usually not trans. She’s usually perceived to be straight. She is usually the epitome of respectability. She hasn’t engaged in sex work. She is white and/or as close to whiteness as possible.”

Make It Work: Organizing with a gender frame toolkit “Intersectional gender analysis.” Great concept, jargon-y term. It sounds like something out of an academic textbook. (Oh wait, it definitely is.) But, underneath those eleven syllables is a profoundly powerful framework: a framework that is worth your attention…. This toolkit is a playbook for how to win big.”

And finally, a joyous celebration of women from Laura Mvula. She wrote it after being inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman”.

News you can relate to

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

This brave student comes out as nonbinary to President Obama on live tv.

 

Video contest! Check out these great clips showing that talking about sex can be sexy!

 

When women are harassed online, they are often told to ignore it. This intense video makes it clear how absurd that advice is.

Potty talk

Last week, I spent some time on the campus of Washington State University in Pullman. I was invited to deliver the keynote address at the annual Women of Distinction luncheon, the theme of which was “Forming a More Perfect Union: Women in Public Service and Government.”

Believe it or not, I don’t talk about politics very much. It’s not in my wheelhouse to convert intuition and passion into the law of the land. I wish it was, but I know I would worry about losing my way, my self, to the process. As I prepared for the WSU event, my mind was buzzing and my heart ached with the political crises we face here and around the world.

I thought about my travels in India 5 years ago. There I had the opportunity to meet with activists whose strategic approach to political organizing I will never forget. Their belief that access to a toilet is central to a woman’s dignity was the centerpiece of the “water taps and toilets” campaign, in which they visited rural, impoverished, unplumbed communities and installed water wells and toilets. They also educated women about civics, registered them to vote, and encouraged them to bring their voices to the demand for women’s rights and equality.

Toilet-paper-roll-patentHere in the U.S. the relationship between politics and access to toilets appears to be heading in the opposite direction. Here we have a political system being used to control and restrict access, to deny what should be a fundamental right, to violate the dignity and privacy of transgender people, and to undermine our collective humanity. Witness what happened last week in North Carolina and Kansas. We must ask ourselves not only about the content of these policies, but also about the political maneuvering that produced them.

It’s easy to say that’s North Carolina and that’s Kansas and that’s NOT Washington. But the only way to be sure is to be vigilant. Our political muscle can be flexed with more than voting. We can make sure that our elected officials remember that WE elected them and they represent US, and we can do everything in our power to make sure that what they do is who we are.

I never imagined my work would lead me to think so much about toilets. I didn’t know they could be so inspiring or so troubling—either way a source of political organizing and, for me, irony.

I didn’t talk about toilets at WSU—people were eating lunch—but I did talk about politics. Here is some of what I said:

“I hope we will form a more perfect union, and deliver on the constitutional vision of justice, domestic tranquility, a common defence, general welfare, and the blessings of liberty for ourselves and for the generations to come. In the formation of this union, we should heed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  that begins with “the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” We have the power to refashion our union. We do. There’s no doubt it’s a heavy lift, and I know it will not happen in my lifetime. But for the granddaughters of my grandchildren, I keep this union in front of me every day.”

Anti-violence organizations call for an end to discrimination against transgender people

We bring you this post from the executive directors of the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault ProgramsThe Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian, and Gay Survivors of Abuse, and the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

As leading anti-violence organizations in Washington, we support public policies that promote and protect the civil rights and human dignity of all.  For over ten years, the Washington State Law Against Discrimination has protected people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The current wave of legislative bills that attempt to take away transgender people’s access to sex-specific facilities, such as emergency shelters, restrooms and locker rooms, would roll back the progress we have made, not only here in Washington, but all around the country.

Anti-violence organizations are leading the nation in creating inclusive programs and ending discrimination against transgender people because we decided as a field not to leave any survivor behind. Every person has the right to access critical domestic violence and sexual assault services in our state. Every person has the right to live as their gender. Every person has the right to freedom from fear and violence. We must reject any legislation that threatens the safety of survivors of violence and we must continue to recognize transgender people as part of the fabric of our communities.

Andrea Piper-Wentland, Executive Director of the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

Connie Burk, Executive Director of The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian, and Gay Survivors of Abuse

Nan Stoops, Executive Director of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence