Creative Destruction

October 24, 2007

Presented Without Comment

Filed under: Human Rights,LGBT Issues — Robert @ 11:11 am

Foster parents to 28 forced to resign.

They are Christian and do not want to tell their foster charges that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, which is apparently required by new UK government parenting guidelines for foster families. (Edited to add: the family is not fostering 28 children at the same time. They have, in the past, fostered 27 kids and are currently fostering one, an 11-year old boy who has been with them for the past two years. That boy will be removed from their care this coming Friday, and will go to a “council hostel”, which I assume is the rough equivalent of an orphanage for kids of his age.)

March 28, 2007

Just to add to the confusion…

Filed under: LGBT Issues,Science — Gled @ 7:32 am

Geneticists report ‘semi-identical’ twins:

Geneticists in the US have discovered a previously unknown kind of twins they have called semi-identical. The twins are identical on their mother’s side, but only share half of their father’s DNA.

OK, but then they say:

The twins are technically chimeras: that is, their cells are not genetically uniform. Some cells contain male cells with an X and Y chromosome, others have female cells bearing a double load of Xs. In the journal Human Genetics, the researchers report that the proportion of XY and XX cells varies depending on the kind of tissue being examined.

For the genes to be distributed in this way, two sperm cells must have fertilised a single egg. Some DNA from each sperm is present in each child.

That would make them identical twins surely? If each twin got the dna from a different sperm, then they’d be half-identical.

Or perhaps the proportion of cells of one type and the other varies from twin to twin as well as from tissue to tissue.

First, two sperm must fertilise a single egg. This does happen in about one percent of human conceptions. More often than not the fertilised egg does not form a viable embryo. This embryo must then split to form twins, who if they are to be identified as semi-identical, must subsequently come to the attention of scientists.

The Chimera aspect of this is more interesting than the twinning. For example, what would happen if the sperm were from two different men? Can a person have two fathers? Who would pay child support?

March 24, 2007

Trans Florida City Manager Fired

Filed under: LGBT Issues — Robert @ 12:28 pm

Largo, Florida has proceeded to fire Steve Stanton, the city manager whose plans to undergo gender reassignment surgery and transition into life as a woman sparked an uproar. (I first read about this story via Alas.) (Despite Amp’s headline, Stanton wasn’t fired at the time; he has been fired now.)

Stanton has my utmost sympathy. Although I disagree profoundly with the theory of sexual identity under which people transitioning gender generally operate, as a fellow human being I sense his pain and unhappiness. And to be fired for such a thing is ridiculous. He isn’t a teacher, providing role modeling for young minds; he works with grownups in a grownup environment where gender, sex and sexuality are far removed from the daily concerns of his workplace.

The city leaders claim that they aren’t firing him for switching genders, but for performance and “trust” issues, issues that apparently never arose during his fourteen-year tenure in the job. That’s clearly crap, and on top of being ashamed of themselves for their hatefulness towards Stanton, they should also be ashamed for their complete cowardice in hiding their motive.

Best wishes towards Stanton, and may he find peace whatever his gender identity.

December 20, 2006

Bechdel’s “Fun Home” Is Time Magazine’s Book Of The Year

Filed under: Art,LGBT Issues,Popular Culture — Ampersand @ 4:30 pm

The top spot on Time Magazine’s “books of the year” list:

The unlikeliest literary success of 2006 is a stunning memoir about a girl growing up in a small town with her cryptic, perfectionist dad and slowly realizing that a) she is gay and b) he is too. Oh, and it’s a comic book: Bechdel’s breathtakingly smart commentary duets with eloquent line drawings. Forget genre and sexual orientation: this is a masterpiece about two people who live in the same house but different worlds, and their mysterious debts to each other.

I’m thrilled that Fun Home has been a huge success; not only is it a great book, but Alison Bechdel has been an obscure great cartoonist for too many years. I highly, highly recommend buying this book.

Two panels from Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home."

Above: a couple of panels from Fun Home. Picking out a sample of art from Fun Home isn’t easy, because Bechdel isn’t a show-offy cartoonist; she’s all about communicating the story and the moment, and usually she does it in the least obtrusive way possible. I love the two-panel sequence above for how well it communicates the emotional undercurrents; the body language and expressions of two people trying not to have any reaction to what they’re saying are perfect.

In 1999, when The Comics Journal put out a list of the “Top 100 English-Language Comics of the 20th Century,” based on voting by a group of critics, I argued on their message boards that two cartoonists whose works belonged on the list were missing. One was Dave Sim, whose omission was objected to by many, and who was left off the list because voters were split among several different works.

The other was Alison Bechdel, and as far as I know I was the only person to object to her omission. With Fun House, it has hopefully become more obvious to people that Bechdel is a major comics creator.

One reason Bechdel wasn’t on the top 100 list, in my opinion, is sexism. Not sexism as in “the Comics Journal critics hate women.” Rather, I think the critical culture in comics tends to dismiss female-dominated genres as fluff, while male-dominated genres — even extremely fluffy ones, like adventure comic strip and superhero comics — are taken more seriously (and were well-represented on the top 100 list). Before Fun Home, Bechdel’s major work was a soap opera comic strip; the fact that it was soap opera meant that few critics read it seriously (or at all). ((There are a few comic strips with soap elements on the top 100 list – Little Orphan Annie, Thimble Theatre (aka Popeye) and Lil’ Abner. All three are certified classics with male creators and a lot of “adventure” elements.))

I’ve spent today rereading the short stories that Bechdel publishes at the end of each “Dykes To Watch Out For” collection. Pre- Fun Home, these short stories were where Bechdel experimented with long-form comics, and she did a lot of great work with characterization, pacing, and tying together multiple narratives. I hope Bechdel is considering publishing a collection of her “Dykes” short stories; they stand on their own quite well, and publishing them as a group could help make more visible some of Bechdel’s best and least-read works.

Curtsy: Quirkybird.

September 7, 2006

Please Call And Report This Copyright Thief!

Filed under: LGBT Issues,Popular Culture — Ampersand @ 10:17 am

There’s a good interview with Kirby Dick, director of the indy documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, in the current issue of Bitch Magazine. The film is about the ratings board of the Motion Picture Association of America – the folks who decide if each film is “G,” “PG,” “R” or “NC-17.”

Three points of interest (including a chance for you to fight crime from your very own home!):

August 26, 2006

Prenatal Link to Male Homosexuality Found

Filed under: LGBT Issues,Science — Brutus @ 12:06 pm

A new study in Canada points to evidence that having older brothers increases a male’s chances of being homosexual. Researchers are continuing their attempts to isolate a cause for homosexuality, which includes answering the nature vs. nurture question. This particular study comes down of the nature side, the theory being that mothers have some sort of memory for male gestations or births that affect sons born afterwards.

This area of inquiry has never made sense to me. If there is a certain incidence of a particular trait in humans, say blond hair or freckles, even though there may be observable predictors, they usually fall well short of being mechanisms we could control. Genetic defects are a different category, and it makes sense to me to try to limit them. But homosexuality isn’t a defect, at least to those who accept it as a regularly occuring variation (behavioral, genetic, or otherwise).

August 24, 2006

Two Critiques Of Ariel Levy’s Writing About Bois

Filed under: LGBT Issues — Ampersand @ 3:06 pm

I was searching for bloggy critiques of Levy on bois, and was surprised by how little I found. The two best critiques I found were buried in comments; I’m reposting them here, in the hopes of making them easier for future searchers to find.

So what is a boi? For the purposes of this discussion, boi means “a female-born or female-bodied person…sometimes transsexual, transgendered, or intersexed, sometimes not…who generally does not identify wholly or at all as being feminine, female, a girl, or a woman, though some bois identify as one or more of these. Bois almost always identify as lesbians, dykes, or queers; many are also genderqueer or genderfucked. Bois can prefer a range of pronouns, including ‘he,’ ‘she,’ or gender-neutral pronouns; it’s usually best to ask to avoid offence.” (Quoted from wikipedia).

August 22, 2006

Philly Boy Scouts Threatened With Eviction Over Anti-Gay Policy

Filed under: LGBT Issues — Ampersand @ 9:15 pm

This 2003 post, about the short-lived decision of the Philadelphia Boy Scouts to buck the national Boy Scouts leadership by refusing to discriminate against gay Scouts, has recently come up in comments. Which led me to check out what’s going on with the Philly Boy Scouts currently:

August 9, 2006

Beyond Marriage

Filed under: LGBT Issues — Ampersand @ 1:50 am

There’s been a lot of fussing over this statement, written by some LGBT activists, which calls for a broader debate over what kind of families will be recognized by the government. Here’s a sample:

July 20, 2006

Opposing Equal Rights To Send A Message To The Middle East

Filed under: International Politics,LGBT Issues — Ampersand @ 3:18 pm

A new addition to the list of the stupidest arguments against marriage equality. From the New York Times article on the House of Reps debate over same-sex marriage:

Another Georgia Republican, Representative Phil Gingrey, said support for traditional marriage “is perhaps the best message we can give to the Middle East and all the trouble they’re having over there right now.”

I’m trying to imagine what would have to be going through someone’s mind to make “we should ban same-sex marriage to send a message to the Middle East” seem like an even remotely rational argument.

Was he thinking that if there’s anything wrong with the middle east, it’s that the culture there is too accommodating of homosexuals, and so we must set a good example by not accommodating our local queers? Was he thinking that the reason people kidnap Israeli soldiers is because lesbians and gays in Massachusetts are getting married, and so we should therefore attempt to placate them by assuring them we hate gays, too? Was he too high on crack to be thinking anything at all? It’s a mystery.

UPDATE: By the way, this is far from being the most repulsive, bigoted, anti-queer statement to come out of an elected Republican this week.

May 23, 2006

Some Reasons for Optimism Regarding Same Sex Marriage

Filed under: Current Events,LGBT Issues — Ampersand @ 7:38 am

Rhode Island May Be Next
Percent of likely Rhode Island voters who oppose same-sex marriage: 39%
Percent of likely Rhode Island voters who favor same-sex marriage: 45%

Changing Demographics Are On The Side Of Equality

Even two years ago, 15- to 25-year-olds favored gay marriage by 56 percent to 39 percent, according to a national survey by the University of Maryland’s youth think tank, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE at […]

Within perhaps 10 years, gay marriage will enjoy majority support nationwide because younger, more accepting voters will have replaced many of today’s 65-plus voters. Notable findings include:

# Eighteen- to 29-year-olds are the first age group of voters to prefer gay marriage over other options for gay couples, 2004 election exit polls show. Asked their preference, 41 percent chose marriage for gay couples, 28 percent favored civil unions and only 30 percent said no recognition.

# Age breakdowns provided to me by the Pew Research Center of its March poll show the 18-to-29 group favoring gay marriage, 52-42 percent. That contrasts with the 65-plus crowd — opposed by 69-20 percent. (When all ages are combined, a bare majority — 51 percent — opposes gay marriage. Go to:

Poll Shows Most Americans Oppose Federal Amendment Banning Same-Sex Marriage

The polling, conducted in April among 802 registered voters nationwide, showed that 49 percent of those questioned believe gay marriage should be a state issue. Only 33 percent of those questioned believed the issue should be decided by amending the U.S. Constitution. Another 18 percent were not sure how to handle the issue.

Why is the leadership of the anti-equality movement so desparate to get marriage banned in the Constitution? Because they know that if they don’t win soon, and in a way that will be incredibly hard to undo, they won’t win at all.

(For more stats – with graphs! – see Pam’s House Blend.)

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