poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Sunday, November 14, 2004

by mark leno
The T.G. health care mess

IMAGINE CONSISTENTLY PAYING for health insurance – only to find that when you need care, your insurance carrier won't pay for it, leaving you with thousands of dollars of medical bills. Imagine being denied health coverage over and over by insurance carriers, even though you're healthy and active and haven't been sick a day in your life. Imagine the frustration with a medical community that doesn't even recognize your gender and sometimes treats you disrespectfully because it doesn't understand you.

For transgender people, these are the harsh realities faced every day in accessing the basic health care all of us need.

Transgender people, like everyone, share anxiety about national health care issues such as the increasing cost of prescription drugs and insurance. But they're also concerned about issues that are transgender-specific. An independent business owner, for instance, could consistently be denied a health policy simply because he has transitioned from female to male. A full-time employee could be forced to pay out of pocket for medical care because her employer's policy won't cover procedures related to her transition – regardless of whether they're necessary for her health. Transgender people also receive substandard care because of bias or lack of information on the part of health care professionals.

The term transgender describes people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were assigned at birth. Gender identity, a characteristic we all possess, is our internal understanding of our own gender. For many transgender people, the difference between their gender identity and their birth-assigned gender creates considerable stress and anxiety that can lead to depression, suicidal feelings, and even increased risk of alcohol and drug dependency. When this is the case, access to appropriate and affordable health care is central to being able to live a full life.



For 24 hours, millions of people around the world do not participate -- in the doomsday economy, the marketing mind-games, and the frantic consumer-binge that's become our culture. We pause. We make a small choice not to shop. We shrink our footprint and gain some calm. Together we say to Exxon, Nike, Coke and the rest: enough is enough. And we help build this movement to rethink our unsustainable course.

In its 13 years, BND has become a flashpoint, a day when people of all stripes come together in symbolic protest. Visit the new BND Action Pyramid for a sample of great ways to celebrate.


At the Door of the Mosque
By Ty Jalal

In every mosque I have ever entered there are two doors. 

One door is usually wide, formal, inviting. Inside, you may find racks of shoes and then a large open space that quickly fills with neat lines of men in various stages of salat, saying their prayer of greeting to the mosque.

In the other door, often narrower, sometimes leading to a winding corridor or up a flight of stairs, women bustle in long dresses, jilbab, tunics and loose pants, their children running between them, little ones grasping at their mother’s legs. In the women’s prayer area they fan out. There is nothing orderly inside this door, as women sit leaning against walls or in small groups in the middle of the floor, trying to keep their children gathered around them. When the iqamah comes over the loudspeaker, they fall into rows like the men in the other room, their lines interrupted sometimes by small children making prostrations out of synch.

As a young American convert in the 1980’s, I was both comforted and discomfited by this stark division of the sexes. It was unlike anything I had ever known, growing up in the American South where gender differences may be striking but they never reached the proportions of different doors we could enter. That kind of divisiveness was something we had experienced only around race—something which seemed a negligible issue in the mosque, where men stood shoulder to shoulder with men of other races, and women stood foot to foot with women of other races.


Members Blue Diamond Society arrested in Nepal

More and more people spend their holidays in the far out-of-the-way places of this world. Gays have to be conscious and aware that homosexuality isn’t accepted everywhere. In Nepal there is a maximum penalty of ten years in prison for every form of “sexual behaviour against nature” with no exception to the rule, when it comes to foreigners. That’s why it’s not a big surprise to find out that there’s only one gay bar in Kathmandu. However, there is a group actively fighting for emancipation, the Blue Diamond Society, which occupies itself with AIDS prevention and human rights, like those of homosexuals.

This group is now under threat to be banned.

In June of this year the lawyer, Achyut Prasad Kharel, put in a request with the High Court of Justice to prohibit the Blue Diamond Society by law. The lawyer accuses the organization of trying to legalize homosexuality in Nepal, which would be against the Nepalese law. In answer to the request of Achyut Prasad Kharel the High Court of Justice asked the Ministry of National Affairs for a pronouncement if homosexuality should be seen as a crime.

As yet the answer to this question is still not known. At August 9, however, thirty-nine members of the Blue Diamond Society have been arrested in Kathmandu. About two weeks later they were let out on bail, but they have to appear in Court on September 20. All members were forced to sign a declaration before they were set free, however they don’t know what they have signed for. Most of them are illiterate and for those who can read, the official report was being covered, so they were not able to read of what they are accused.

The organizations Human Right Watch and ILGA are acting up against the course of things in the Himalaya country, by sending protest letters. In Holland the foundation RainBowColours-NL joined in on this action. For those who want more information, or who would like to have an example of a protest letter, you can contact the foundation via P.O.Box 116, 5670 AC Nuenen or by e-mail:"


Scots gays to get the right to adopt
Lorna Martin, Scotland editor
The Observer

The ban preventing same-sex and unmarried couples in Scotland from jointly adopting or fostering children is set to be lifted by the Scottish Executive.

Under radical plans to overhaul adoption laws, ministers are expected to introduce measures within the next two years that will bring Scotland into line with changes recently introduced south of the border. The move has provoked a furious reaction from church groups, who argue that children should be brought up within a stable married environment.

However, adoption experts say reform is necessary, both to increase the chances of children in care finding new homes and to reflect the changes in patterns of family structure in the UK.

The powerful Adoption Policy Review Group, convened by the government, met last week to complete its recommendations for sweeping reform of the system. Its report will be presented to ministers towards the end of the year.


Coming Out for One of Their Own
An Oklahoma Teen Finds Love Where He Least Expected It
By Anne Hull
Washington Post Staff Writer

SAND SPRINGS, Okla. -- The fliers arrived three weeks ago. Some came over the fax machines of local churches, and others appeared mysteriously around town. Printed in bold was the heading "Westboro Baptist Church." No seeming cause for alarm. Sand Springs, population 18,500, is a Christian stronghold in the gently rolling hills of eastern Oklahoma.

But the message that followed was a rant against a 17-year-old Sand Springs resident named Michael Shackelford and his mother, Janice, the subjects of a recent Washington Post series examining Michael's struggles as a young gay man in the Bible Belt. The fliers posted a photo of Michael, called him a "doomed teenage fag" and announced that followers of Westboro Baptist in Topeka were on their way from Kansas to stage antigay protests in Sand Springs.

Public theater is the specialty of Westboro Baptist and its minister, Fred Phelps, whose place on the extreme fringe of the antigay movement is symbolized by his Web site, But this time, Phelps picked a formidable target.

Oklahoma could never be mistaken for a liberal blue state. President Bush grabbed the seven electoral votes here like a sack of candy, winning 60 percent of the popular vote. A state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage passed by a 3-to-1 margin.


Gay Citizen to America: They lied to you about us
Keep your religion; what we want is legal
Dear America:

Now that you've had a chance to catch your breath, we really need to take a moment and reflect on what has occurred.

I'm sorry to say this, but you've been lied to about who I am and what exactly I'm about. You were told some mistruths, such as that I, a gay citizen, want to change your laws and religious definitions of marriage and force churches to marry same-sex couples. Also, that I am assaulting the very fabric of our nation, that I want to marry two, three or more persons or even an animal or two.

You were told this by partisan politicians who unfortunately weren't interested in your well-being, nor mine, nor anyone's but their own. Many different parties debated this issue anxiously: the media, politicians, judicial bodies, to name a few.

Yet strangely, during all of this, no one asked me, "Gay Citizen, what exactly is it that you want?"


Pope Tells Protestant Churches To Bar Gays
by Malcolm Thornberry European Bureau Chief

(Vatican City) Pope John Paul on Saturday warned Protestant churches that liberal views toward homosexuality would result in the Vatican withdrawing from ecumenism.

The Pope's remarks came during a service to mark the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council which led the Catholic Church into a period of ecumenism with other Christian Churches.

"Unfortunately, we are faced with new problems, especially those of an ethical nature, where new divisions which impede a common witness have sprouted," he said.

Seven-thousand people attended the service in St Peter's Basilica, including representatives of Anglican and Protestant Churches as well as members of the Orthodox Church, which split from Rome in the Great Schism of 1054.


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