Tag : gender

Model Elliott Sailors has announced that she has reinvented herself as a male model after years of successfully modeling womenswear with the Ford agency. Since male models have longer careers than their female counterparts, Sailors took the drastic step of cutting her hair, binding her breasts and modeling as a man when she saw her job prospects withering at the age of 30. The media has been transfixed by Sailors’ transformation: She’s been covered by talk shows and news outlets around the world, where she has been celebrated for pushing the boundaries of gender fluidity. The collective fascination with Sailors reveals how transgressive it still is for a heterosexual woman to project a masculine identity.

In the midst of the fray, Katy Waldman of Slate accused Sailors of exploiting transgender narratives in order to further her career, writing, “To appropriate the trans/transition narrative when really all you intend to do is playact a different gender for the camera is just silly. Cut it out.” But Waldman’s accusation does not consider the complexities of gender identification that Sailors has experienced and, more broadly, it does not make room for the possibility that women may genuinely desire to embody masculinity without seeking gender reassignment.

When I spoke with Sailors, she explained that her decision to reinvent herself was not motivated purely by a desire to continue working in fashion. “As a model, there is a lot of direction that comes from the [modeling] agency in terms of how to present yourself,” she says. “This is something I took on outside of conversations with the agency. This is something I did on my own.” Indeed, she had been toying with the idea of gender transformation for many years, driven by a strong feeling that her identity is not encapsulated by traditional femininity. “I don’t identify as a man, but I don’t identify with feminine ways of being either,” she says. “For me, wearing a dress and heels always feels like ‘dressing up.’” Outside her modeling work, Sailors has always been more comfortable wearing men’s clothing. “I have purchased more menswear since doing this, but this is exactly the same kind of clothing that I would have worn before.” Sailors says that she is regularly identified as a man when she walks around Manhattan. “I am excited when people make the mistake sometimes because it means this is working,” she says. “People are realizing that my energy is inclusive of masculine energy.”

As many have noted, gender identity and sexual orientation are not one and the same — and Sailors’ transformation sends a liberating message to women who do not feel entirely at home within the trappings of femininity. Since taking on her new appearance, Sailors has heard from many other heterosexual women who are grateful they are not alone in yearning for more fluid gender identities. However, she makes it clear that she does not expect all women to want to embody masculine characteristics. “A lot of people don’t necessarily feel that their experience of themselves includes more than the gender that they were born into,” she asserts. “I don’t blame anybody else for not doing what I have done.”

When strangers recognize that Sailors is a woman, they often think she is lesbian, because it seems impossible to them that a straight woman would choose to dress in a way that might turn off straight men. “They feel like I am approachable and treat me like I’m one of the boys,” she says. “When they find out that I’m not lesbian, they don’t know whether to talk to me as a man or as a woman.” She also describes more offensive encounters she has had with men who express entitlement toward her sexuality. “I’ve had guys come up to me on the street, saying, ‘It’s so unfortunate that you’re a lesbian.’ In other words, they’re saying, ‘You’re good looking; it’s too bad that I can’t have you.’”

Sailors’ androgyny forces other people to think about the gendered nature of their everyday encounters. She told me about a photo shoot where an assistant on set expressed confusion about how he should approach her physically, since he usually hugged women and shook hands with men. “It’s becoming a conversation about how people perceive gender and what they feel comfortable with,” she says. Last week, at a nightclub, a man bumped into her and kept reassessing his relationship with her as his understanding of her gender identity changed. “He said, ‘Sorry, buddy, I mean, sweetheart,’ and when he saw I was with my husband he became very apologetic and said, ‘Honey, I didn’t mean anything by that,’” she recalls. Although not by design, Sailors’ transformation has become a kind of sociological experiment that leads to discussions about why people relate to men and women so differently.

Sailors’ husband has embraced her decision, even though it means that he is sometimes mistaken for a gay man when they are out together as a couple. The two have had homophobic slurs hurled in their direction. “He reacts much in the same way that I do, not taking it as a personal insult,” says Sailors. Many other men would not be so agreeable with this situation. In fact, Thomas Matt pointed out how frequently transgender women experience violence when they come out to their partners in part because those partners are suddenly in a position to be perceived as homosexual. Straight men’s anxiety about being read as gay may contribute to women’s choice to embody feminine qualities, even when they would be more comfortable with masculine forms of gender expression.

In her commentary, Waldman accused Sailors of scheming to “drape what is finally a perfectly pragmatic career decision in the drama of real-life gender reassignment.” But Sailors has never represented her transformation as a transgender struggle and is outspoken in her support of trans rights. “I’m obviously not claiming to be male,” Sailors tells me. “There wasn’t a particular community I was looking to be part of. At the same time, I have so much respect and appreciation for the trans community.” Indeed, she’s aware that the backlash she’s gotten since changing her appearance is only a fraction of what trans people face. “There are people who have made slurring remarks (at me) and it breaks my heart, because this is something that many others deal with on a regular basis,” she says. “I’ve only had this haircut for a year, but I can’t imagine what it would have been like in junior high, for example, dealing with people saying such unkind things.”

Some trans writers and activists say they celebrate Sailors’ decision to cross-dress. Vivienne Ming, chief data scientist at the tech company Gild, who has shared her story of transition, told me, “I think her work as a ‘male’ model is fine. It’s a work decision for which I can find no fault, no evidence of farce. She looks terrific as a guy, and I’m envious of her in both directions.” D.M., a Boston-based transgender activist, says, “In many ways, all modeling is drag, all the time. Elliott isn’t appropriating an identity, but experiencing some parts of what it means to be trans, particularly in the discomfort, however superficial and fleeting, of incongruity.” D.M. argues that as long as they’re not engaging in mockery, non-trans people can help to normalize cross-dressing, thereby making society more accepting toward the trans community.

Sailors says her choice isn’t about co-opting other people’s stories or sexuality. “I believe in taking things at face value and not giving things meaning that isn’t there,” she says. She argues that her transformation is much more about being empowered, as a straight woman, to express her gender identity in ways that feel comfortable to her. “This is about authenticity and being able to accept yourself for who you want to be,” says Sailors. “Transformation is really possible at any point. You’re not limited to whoever it was you were the day before.”

By Elizabeth Segran.

Facebook announced a few days ago that users in the US now have the ability to select a custom gender for their Timeline profile pages. Giving an additional option to the standard ’Male or Female’ Facebook now offers “Other,” a new setting that lets users choose between ten gender options such as “cisgender,” “transgender,” and “intersex,” and define which pronoun they’d like to be referred to as — he / his, she / her, or they / their. Furthermore, Facebook also now lets you define exactly who can see the Gender section on your profile. Facebook says it worked closely with LGBT activist groups to choose the new profile options. The social network hasn’t provided a timeline on when the new option will roll out to the rest of its users outside the US.

facebook intersex

To commemorate the landmark Facebook has hung rainbow-colored flags from a catwalk at its Menlo Park, CA headquarters. “We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way,” Facebook wrote on its Diversity page.

The hemispheres of women’s brains are more interconnected.

By analyzing the MRIs of 949 people aged 8 to 22, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found that male brains have more connections within each hemisphere, while female brains are more interconnected between hemispheres.

Yes, take that, Mike from IT! It, like, so explains why you just dropped the eggnog while attempting to make flirty conversation with Janet from Accounting.

Just kidding; we still have no idea why men or women do anything in particular. But the study, released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is interesting because it is one of the first to discover differences in the brain’s structural connectivity in a large sample size of people from a variety of age groups.

Male (upper) and female (lower) brain connections (PNAS)

By analyzing the subjects’ MRIs using diffusion imaging, the scientists explored the brains’ fiber pathways, the bundles of axons that act as highways routing information from one part of the mind to the other. After grouping the image by sex and inspecting the differences between the two aggregate “male” and “female” pictures, the researchers found that in men, fiber pathways run back and forth within each hemisphere, while in women they tend to zig-zag between the left, or “logical,” and right, or “creative,” sides of the brain.

Because female brains seem to have a stronger connections between their logical and intuitive parts, “when women are asked to do particularly hard tasks, they might engage very different parts of the brain,” said Ragini Verma, an associate professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the authors of the report. “Men might over-engage just one part of the brain.”

This could mean, for example, that men tend to see issues and resolve them directly, due to the strong connections between the “perception” and “action” areas of their brains, while women might be more inclined to combine logic and intuition when solving a problem.

Their less-interconnected hemispheres might prompt men, for example, to be, “going along, executing things very skillfully and maybe not taking into account that someone didn’t [do something] because they were having a bad day,” Verma explained. Meanwhile, “gut feelings, trying to join the dots together … women are known to be very strong in that.”

The differences were less evident in young children, but they became prominent in the scans of the adolescents.

Child (B), adolescent (C), and adult (D) brains (PNAS)

Scientists have long known that male and female brains are distinct, but the degree of these differences, and whether they impact behavior, is still somewhat of a mystery. The field has repeatedly unearthed seemingly solid clues that turned out to be red herrings. In August, for example, a study in the journal PLoS One challenged the long-held idea that male and female brains exhibit differences in “lateralization,” or strengths in one half of the brain or another. And past books on the “male” and “female” styles of thinking have been criticized for only including studies that reinforce well-known gender stereotypes.

At the same time, there’s plenty of evidence that male brains are from Mars and female brains are, well, from a different neighborhood on Mars. Researchers already know, for example, that men’s brains are slightly bigger than women’s (because men’s bodies also tend to be bigger). Male and female rats navigate space differently. Women taking birth control pills, which alter estrogen and progesterone levels, have been shown to remember emotionally charged events more like men do in small studies. Migraines not only strike women more frequently, but they impact different parts of their brains, too.

A study published last month in the journal Nature Communications found that genes are expressed differently in men and women throughout the brain. One reason autism rates are higher among males, the researchers suggest, could be because a form of the gene NRXN3 is produced at higher levels in male brains.

And past research has shown that, across cultures, women’s brains are more functionally interconnected when at rest than men’s are, on average. This and similar findings have been used to support the idea that women are “better at multitasking.” And indeed, a study released late last month by researchers at the University of Glasgow in Scotland found that women do have an edge when it comes to switching between tasks rapidly, ostensibly because, back in the cave, we had to keep an eye on the kids while we … did whatever else it is that cave housewives did.

But examining the brain differences between the sexes also has an ugly past, since such findings have historically been used to paint women as less rational or intelligent.

The 19th-century French anthropologist Paul Broca, who lends his name to the area of the brain responsible for speech, once said, “We are therefore permitted to suppose that the relatively small size of the female brain depends in part upon her physical inferiority and in part upon her intellectual inferiority.”

At the same time, though, modern medicine can’t afford to ignore these variations. Just as with any disease, understanding sex differences in brains might help neuroscientists better diagnose and treat disorders.

“We see these differences everywhere, and we started to realize, damn, we simply assume they aren’t there,” Larry Cahill, a neuroscientist at the University of California at Irvine, told the Orange County Register. “And these sex differences have implications for how the brain works and how to fix brains.”

Even pain medications don’t take male and female pain perception differences into account, Cahill points out. Countless medical fields have long been treating women by pretending “they are simply men with pesky sex hormones.”

The most uncomfortable aspect of such findings is that they can be—and often are—twisted to prop up stereotypes and prejudices. Studies like the PNAS one might offer fodder for those who wish to explain away female underrepresentation in fields like engineering with factoids about brain “wiring.” (Something former Harvard president Larry Summers essentially once suggested.)

But of course, that kind of thinking leaves out culture, which plays a big role not only in shaping how we think—both inside and outside of MRI machines—but also in determining what we do with our brains, however they’re structured. Verma emphasized that there’s a great deal of variation between individuals. Different fiber-pathway configurations don’t necessarily predestine someone to behave or think a certain way.

“There is a lot to be said about the structural wiring of the brain,” Verma said, “but it’s what you use the wiring for that changes the person that you are.”

Or as Anke Ehrhardt, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University Medical Center cautioned during a recent panel on neuroscience and gender, “Acknowledging brain effects by gender does not mean these are immutable, permanent determinants of behavior, but rather they may play a part within a multitude of factors and certainly can be shaped by social and environmental influences.”

Spoken like someone who has her intuition wired firmly to her logic.

The recent study which “confirms” the differences between male and female brains has been roundly criticised by neuroscientists. However, there are some genuine differences that cannot be denied.

Unless you’ve been trapped in a lead-lined sensory-deprivation chamber this week, you’ve probably heard about the recent study that “confirms” the differences between the brains of men and women. Confirmed is in inverted commas because it’s very easy to “confirm” even the most surreal of notions with brain imaging techniques. As is often the case with scientific findings that get massive media attention, the science behind said “findings” is far from perfect. The study itself has been taken apart by the neuroscience community like a juicy lamb shank thrown to a tank of rarely-fed piranhas.

I won’t attempt to critique the paper here; there are plenty of people who have done that better. No, there is a lot of data already out there on the subject of male and female brains. However, the media coverage this study received implies that there is a great deal of public interest in knowing about the real differences between the brains of men and women. So what follows is a basic rundown of the more definite differences between the brains of men and women.


Male and female brains actually differ right down at the genetic level in quite a drastic way. Studies reveal that typically EVERY CELL in the male brain contains a Y chromosome. Quite alarmingly, female brains usually contain no Y chromosomes at all! This lack of a Y chromosome has many obvious physical effects, but most women still manage to lead normal, cognitively-unimpaired lives despite this clear deficit in the very DNA of their brains. Research into how they manage this is ongoing.


One startling difference between male and female brains is where they are found. It may surprise many, but male brains are found almost exclusively inside male skulls, whereas female brains are found only inside female skulls! Such an extreme bias in brain-skull association can’t possibly be due to coincidence. The fact that male and female skulls are also different and perfectly sized to house their associated brains is even more unlikely. Explain that with your so-called science, Richard Dawkins!


As previously mentioned, there is an established size difference between male and female brains. Male brains tend to be bigger overall than female ones. This is also true for male legs, torsos and skeletons in general. Human men generally tend to be bigger than women, and this is reflected in brain size. Some argue that this means men are more intelligent than women. Using that same logic, human beings are intellectually inferior to elephants and sperm whales. Certain people may scoff at this very notion. “You never see elephants or sperm whales queuing for the latest version of the iPhone!” the might say, which probably doesn’t prove the point they think it does. Sperm whales and elephants also never publicly criticise statements made by figments of their imagination, so they’re doing well overall.


Male and female brains differ in the connections they form. Most notably, the male brain is generally connected to a penis by various involved systems. The female brain lacks this connection and is instead linked to a vagina via a complex system of associations. The male brain-penis association seems to be more straightforward than the female brain-vagina one, but that may be due to the fact that the latter has a lot more bilge written about it.


It is generally believed that the male brain is better able to tolerate pain than the female one. However, the female brain is able to raise tolerance to pain when engaging in the process of ejecting a human from the pelvic regions. Thus far, no male brain has ever been recorded doing this.


Observational studies have shown that the male brain is hardwired to be paid more, occupy more powerful roles and positions, and be more inclined to kill things randomly, whereas the female brain is hardwired to get more harassment and oppression, develop worrying obsessions with physical appearance and to care more about other humans and sometimes kittens.

Or, and this may seem controversial to many but it’s worth considering, it could be that the human brain develops in accordance to what it experiences, and things it experiences and is made to do more often are reflected in the sorts of connections that develop. This would suggest that there aren’t actually any marked differences between male and female brains. However, this would mean that there is no scientific basis for all of our stereotypes and prejudices about what certain sexes should/shouldn’t do and they all stem from irrational or unpleasant cultural influences that haven’t gone away yet, forcing us to admit to ourselves that our preconceived notions about certain sexes or genders are just self-fulfilling clichés with no logical basis, potentially threatening our beliefs, our positions and even our identity.

And we can’t have that, can we.

Dean Burnett has a male brain that probably isn’t working as it should, as demonstrated by his Twitter feed, @garwboy

Differences in the way the brains of men and women are wired helps to explain   why men are better at navigating while women can multitask.

It is something that men and women have both long suspected – their brains are   wired differently.

New research has confirmed that men’s brains appear to be configured to   coordinate actions with their senses.

Women’s brains, however, are set up to have better memories, to find   multi-tasking easier and to be better at gauging social situations.

The results seem to help shed light on why men are considered better at things   like navigating, parking cars and throwing balls while women are credited   with being better at multi-tasking, are more intuitive socially, and tend to   remember events like anniversaries.

The study, which analysed the brain structures of nearly 1,000 people, found   that men’s brains tend to have more connections within each side of the   brain and tend to run between the back and front.

Women on the other hand had more connections between the left and right side   of their brain.

The brains of men also contained more nerve fibres, while women had a greater   proportion of “grey matter”

brain graphs

Brain networks showing significantly increased intra-hemispheric connectivity in males (Upper) and inter-hemispheric connectivity in females (Lower). Intra-hemispheric connections are shown in blue, and inter- hemispheric connections are shown in orange. (PNAS)

The different patterns in the brains of men and women go some way towards   explaining the differences in behaviour and skills seen in men and women,   according to the researchers.

They claim that greater connectivity within a brain hemisphere, as is seen in   men, links the senses to the control of muscles.

More connections between the hemispheres of the brain, like those seen in   women, are better for analytical reasoning, social understanding and memory.

Tests on the volunteers taking part showed that women outperformed men in   attention tests, remembering faces and words, and social interactions.

Men, however, were better at processing spatial information about their   surroundings, controlling their movements and had faster reaction times.

Dr Ragina Verma, one of the researchers behind the study at the University of   Pennsylvania, said: “These maps show us a stark difference – and   complementarity – in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide   a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at   others.”

Scientists have been using new types of neuroimaging in a bid to build   up new maps, known as connectomes, of how neurons in the brain since   2009.

The latest study, which is published in the journal Proceedings   of the National Academy of Sciences, examined brain scans of 949   people aged between eight and 22 years old.

The scientists used a form of brain scan known as diffusion tensor imaging to   map neural connections in the brain.

Few differences between the sexes were seen in children younger than 13, the   scientists found.

However, they became pronounced in adolescents aged 14 to 17 and older young   adults.

One particular brain area, the cerebellum, displayed an opposite wiring   pattern, with more connectivity between hemispheres in men and more within   hemispheres in women.

Part of the so-called “reptilian” hind-brain, the cerebellum is the   most ancient brain region and controls muscle movement, co-ordination, and   balance.

“It’s quite striking how complementary the brains of women and men really   are,” said Dr. Ruben Gur.

“Detailed connectome maps of the brain will not only help us better   understand the differences between how men and women think, but it will also   give us more insight into the roots of neurological disorders, which are   often sex related.”

By  at the Telegraph UK

'There is a historical tradition you should know about and it is certainly not about gender. It is about being fierce.'

Casey Legler

I am a model. I model men’s clothes. The biological roulette made me female. I was the first woman to be signed to the men’s board at Ford Models.

I was invited earlier this week to speak at a conference for business executives at a “trend school” – the topic: gender. I declined – not for lack of desire to share my experience, strength and hope in some helpful way. But I was rather offended by the notion of being so removed from reality as to require a school for trends, and repulsed at the blatant attempt to co-opt and commodify culture for business profit over participation and engagement with it. I also knew that there would be no room for me to break the news: this is not about gender.

Casey Legler

So, corporate America, this article is for you.

The contemporary cultural landscape supports a larger interpretation than the one we currently have, of female-masculinity and masculine-femininity. To believe otherwise is to be deceived by a myopic view which is influenced by capitalist gain and profit.

The first thing I want to get out of the way is to ask you to look at this list: Gertrude Stein, Greta Garbo, Jenny Shimizu, Tilda Swinton, Jack Halberstam, Stella Tennant, Judith Butler, Erika Linder … it goes on. If you do not know who everyone on the list is, go look them up, your life will be larger for it. You should, after that, realise that this is not a question of “trend”. There is a historical tradition you should know about and it is certainly not about gender. It is about being fierce.

The cultural context further supports this wider angled discourse on the acceptance of difference (or lack thereof) beyond the specifics of female-masculinity and masculine-feminity and posits the isolated focus on gender as incorrect. Russia, Edith Windsor and Bethann Hardison are three examples – the first being a terrifying contemporary example of institutionalised homophobia and homogeneity; the second, our own attempt here in the US to de-institutionalise homophobia via gay marriage; and the last being a fashion legend calling into question the enduring racism within fashion. The fashion industry is on its way to being the better for it.

We are only too familiar with the mainstream’s difficulty in celebrating difference (when it’s not being entirely destructive to it). Corporations and the traditional media have not yet learned how to resolve this: in the public discourse the celebration is often sanitised and white-washed (sometimes literally) for profit – and by this I do mean corporate profit.

And why should you care about this? Because we have in our societies children and teenagers and we are responsible for their wellbeing. This is on us. And why do I specifically care about this? Why am I bothering to write this? Because I’m gay. I’m butch. I’m a woman. I’m queer. I’m 36. I’m 6ft 2in. And caring for “otherness” matters to me. Gay youth is still terrorised for being different in some parts of the world – Russia is a horrifying example of this. But look, too, at what still happens here in the US. Children are made to feel shame, they are made to feel ugly, they are ostracised and bullied, or worse – and here in New York I see them on the streets – 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQI identified.

If images of me out there in the world make it that much easier for another kid, and the kids around them or their parents, to get on with the more important business of figuring out who they are and how they can uniquely contribute to the stream of life, then my job is done. The clincher: while unique in my contribution, I am not alone in expanding the landscape – Brittney Griner, JD Samson, Venus X, A$AP Rocky, OFWGKTA – are all examples of non-conformity and also of excellence.

This is about making space, making room and making things better. To limit this conversation to the (albeit salacious) red herring of gender is dangerous, careless and nothing short of ignorant – it takes for granted the intelligence and wellbeing of our communities (offering only an uneducated, uninteresting and sensationalist conversation to boot). It shames those who are gender-conformative and perpetuates a construct of homogeneity and belonging that is nothing short of destructive for our youth. It offers a false sense of privilege and ignorance to those who “fit” the norm (or trend) while potentially destroying those who don’t and ignoring those who are able to survive outside of it.

I will not let this become just the other side to the same coin of oppression, a false emancipation at the cost of others.

This is too important and deserves closer examination and care. Lives depend on it.

Chelsea Manning, the military whistleblower sentenced last week to 35 years  in prison for leaking classified military documents to WikiLeaks, came out as transgender the day after sentencing, announcing  that she is female and hopes to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. For  many in the trans* community, Manning’s announcement was not a  revelation but a confirmation of her identity. Though Manning’s story is an  exceptional one, as a soldier and a prisoner she stands at the intersection of  several discriminatory policies that affect thousands of trans* people  throughout the United States. In a statement released on August 22nd, the  American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that denying Manning access to  hormone therapy – considered medically necessary care for the treatment of  gender dysphoria – could be a violation of her Eighth Amendment rights protecting her from cruel and unusual punishment. As trans* identity remains  unprotected in the military, however, thousands of trans* service members are,  in fact, denied the right to seek medical care and live as their true  selves.

“Trans* people are typically released from the military through medical  discharge,” says Masen Davis, executive director of the Transgender Law Center.  “That means the trans* service members who are serving are doing so quietly.” A  study recently conducted by the LGBTQ Policy Journal at Harvard’s Kennedy School  for Government found that 20 percent of the trans* people surveyed had served in  the military – twice the rate of the rest of the population. The same study  found that trans* service members were even more likely than their civilian  counterparts to experience employment and housing discrimination and be denied  medical treatment. While the successful repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT)  means sexual orientation is now protected, gender identity is not. And although  gender dysphoria is considered a medical disqualification, discharges may be classified as “administrative,”  potentially limiting troops’ future access to VA healthcare.

One trans* service member, a second-year medical student with a full  scholarship from the U.S. Navy, feels that the DADT victory was incomplete. “I’m  literally the same exact person I was before, the same feelings, experiences,  abilities,” says Jai, who identifies as non-gendered and prefers gender-neutral  pronouns, and plans to begin taking testosterone in September. “The only thing  that has changed is the words that describe me, but now I’m deemed unfit for  service.”

Jai knows that beginning testosterone treatments will likely result in a  medical discharge and the loss of their scholarship, meaning they will need to  find another way to pay for medical school and may even need to repay the  military. It’s a risk Jai is willing to take. “My mental state is important to  me,” Jai says. “Living as a female is a source of daily anxiety and discomfort,  and it has contributed to my depression in the past.” Jai’s options are limited;  the idea of postponing testosterone treatments is devastating. Adds Jai, “I’m  transitioning because I want to be able to be able to see my reflection and say  that I look like me.”

As a medical student, Jai feels especially astounded by the discrimination  trans* people face when it comes to accessing necessary health care. “It’s  comparable to a person with type II diabetes or hypothyroidism not having their  medication covered,” Jai says. Jai, whose father was a career military  serviceman, saw the Navy as an opportunity to go to medical school and serve a  population that needed care. Now, they’re hoping to avoid being discharged until  figuring out another way to pay for school.

Jai hopes that Chelsea Manning’s coming out will raise awareness of the  number of trans* people serving in the military, and is eager to see whether the  military will provide Manning’s medical care. Manning’s attorney, David Coombs,  says he hopes that Fort Leavenworth will “do the right thing,” despite an  earlier statement from the prison’s spokesperson that “the Army does not provide  hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery.” Manning, already a deeply symbolic  figure in the battle over government transparency, now stands at the center of  another national conversation. Manning has requested respect, support and  medical care. How the military, the media and the American public honor that  request will affect not only her, but the struggle for trans* rights across the  country.

By  via RollingStone

Manning sent the above photo to an Army supervisor in 2010, and it was introduced into evidence at his court martial.

Bradley Manning, the US soldier who leaked secret US government documents to the Wikileaks website, has announced he wants to become a woman.

“I am Chelsea Manning,” Pte First Class Manning, 25, said in a statement to NBC’s Today programme. “I am a female.”

He said he had felt female since childhood, wanted at once to begin hormone therapy, and wished to be addressed as Chelsea.

He has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for crimes including espionage.

He could be released on parole after at least seven years in jail, his civilian lawyer David Coombs has said.

Mr Coombs has asked President Barack Obama to pardon Pte Manning, and has pledged to appeal against the verdict and sentence.

Mental health effect

Pte Manning will serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and on Thursday, Mr Coombs indicated he was willing to take legal action to force the prison to provide hormone therapy if authorities refused.

He said Pte Manning had not indicated whether he wanted to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

“The ultimate goal is to be comfortable in her skin and to be the person that she’s never had an opportunity to be,” he said.

Asked why Pte Manning was making this announcement now, the day after his sentencing, Mr Coombs said: “Chelsea didn’t want to have this be something that overshadowed the case.”

Pte Manning’s struggles with his identity formed a key part of his defence through his weeks-long court martial.

Defence witnesses, including therapists who had treated Pte Manning, testified he had said he wanted to transition to being a woman, suggesting his problems with his gender identity affected his mental health.

US military prosecutors, meanwhile, described Pte Manning as a notoriety-seeking traitor and asked for a 60-year sentence in order to deter future intelligence leakers.


Pte Manning, who grew up in the US state of Oklahoma and in Wales, joined the Army in 2009 to help pay for university and, according to court martial defence testimony, to rid himself of his desire to become a woman. Trained as an intelligence analyst, he was deployed to Iraq in 2010.

There, he became disillusioned with the war and felt increasingly isolated from his friends and family. In May of that year, he initiated what subsequently became one of the largest leaks of classified US government documents ever – hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and battlefield reports from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Pte Manning has said he hoped the documents would change the world by sparking a debate about US foreign policy and the military. Since his conviction he has apologised for his actions.

At his court martial, Pte Manning’s former Army supervisor testified Pte Manning had sent him a photograph of himself wearing a blond wig and lipstick.

An open statement from 37 radical feminists from five countries. August 12, 2013


Forbidden Discourse Gender Statement PDF

Please note that the views expressed in this article were the views of:

Carol Hanisch (NY), Kathy Scarbrough (NJ), Ti-Grace Atkinson (MA), and Kathie Sarachild (NY)

Also signed by Roberta Salper (MA), Marjorie Kramer (VT), Jean Golden (MI), Marisa Figueiredo (MA), Maureen Nappi (NY), Sonia Jaffe Robbins (NY), Tobe Levin (Germany), Marge Piercy (MA), Barbara Leon (CA), Anne Forer (AZ), Anselma Dell’Olio (Italy), Carla Lesh (NY), Laura X (CA), Gabrielle Tree (Canada), Christine Delphy (France), Pam Martens (FL), Nellie Hester Bailey (NY), Colette Price (NY), Candi Churchhill (FL), Peggy Powell Dobbins (GA), Annie Tummino (NY), Margo Jefferson (NY), Jennifer Sunderland (NY), Michele Wallace (NJ), Allison Guttu (NY), Sheila Michaels (MO), Carol Giardina (NY), Nicole Hardin (FL), Merle Hoffman (NY), Linda Stein (NY), Margaret Stern (NY), Faith Ringgold (NJ), Joanne Steele (NY)

And did NOT reflect the views of anyone else unless expressly stated above. This was a guest post that was intended to initiate thought and constructive discussion and NOT to cause offence. The post has been removed. The original statement can be seen in the PDF above.

USC (US) / U. TORONTO (CAN) — The 2012 Olympic Games in London was the first time all participating nations allowed women to compete, but there were still 1,233 more male athletes and 30 more medal events exclusively for men.


A new report shows that in what was billed as the “Women’s Olympics,” international rules severely limited the number of female competitors who were allowed to compete in 11 of 26 sports.

For example, in boxing, as many as 250 male boxers were allowed to compete but the number of female competitors was capped at 36. In water polo, up to 156 men could compete as compared to 104 women. Judo allowed for up to 221 male competitors and 145 female competitors.

In men’s racewalking, canoe/kayak, rowing, shooting, boxing, and wrestling there was no matching event for women.

“The perceptions of equality that led to London being called ‘the Women’s Olympics’ by some commentators are inaccurate,” says Michele K. Donnelly, a post-doctoral fellow in sociology at University of Southern California.

“The focus is almost always on medal counts and success stories, but it’s important to point out that the experience of men and women athletes is still substantially different.

“Following the celebration associated with women’s involvement in all sports for the first time at the London 2012 Olympics, it is now time for those sports to more equitably represent men and women competitors.”

The authors credit the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the progress to date, especially in the last 15 years, but they argue that the organization can still do more.

“The IOC is ideally located to be the moral leader in taking these final steps towards gender equality and to persuade the international federations that only gender equal events will be permitted at the Games,” says Peter Donnelly, director of the Centre for Sport Policy Studies at the University of Toronto.

“We have called on the IOC, as the gatekeepers of the Olympics, to make a final commitment to gender equality at the Games in terms of an equal number of events for men and women, and near equivalence in the number of participants.”

The report was co-authored by researchers at USC and the University of Toronto’s Centre for Sport Policy Studies.

Source: USC