Actually, it's a HUGE book, but Peter McWilliams' book Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do is very much worth reading. Its premise is simple: So called consentual crimes cost the US billions of dollars every year, destroy lives, fill prisons and divert law enforcement from serious felonies, all on the grounds of legislated morality. If you agree that drug usage and prostitution should be legal, you owe it to yourself to get to know the arguments in this book, so that you can use them next time a busy-body starts making ludicrous claims.
I was just checking out some songs by a Norwegian industrial black metal band called MeZZerschmitt. Apparently they're a collaboration between members of Mayhem and Red Harvest, and sound somewhere between Rammstein and Totenmond. (I kinda wish that they'd come out and state they're anti-Nazi, like Totenmond does, rather than wussing out with an "apolitical" stance, but the music itself is great.)
So while I'm listening to this brutal metal with harsh German lyrics, I find myself browsing the web, and came across the home page of a fellow tranny. And I'm eager to check her out, except for one thing: she has an inline (that is, embedded) MIDI file playing the Peanuts theme. ALL OVER THE METAL I WAS LISTENING TO. And there was no way to turn it off but to close the page.
Do people who use MIDIs in such a fashion--and with no means to turn them off--stop to think for a second that giving a webpage a soundtrack might actually cost them visitors? That perhaps we like to listen to our own music favorites while browsing websites? That using inline MIDIs is an imposition that could well be resented? I can only guess not.
Furthermore, I've noticed that inline MIDIs tend to be most popular with Christian websites. Seriously. Check out my old NutNet site, and search for the phrase "MIDI ALERT." You'll see what I mean.
I will defend only one use of inline MIDIs in a webpage, but only because I'm a SubGenius, and because Ivan Stang uses MIDIs of DEVO, Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart, and other classic superior mutants. But even then, damn it, it'd be nice if you could only turn that shit off and crank your own tunes.
Maybe the time has come to find that switch that turns the audio off in Internet Explorer. But the fact that I need to locate it is... well, kind of absurd, rather like wearing earplugs because your roommate sings show tunes off-key. This sentiment might betray my anarchist leanings, but: There aught to be a law.
After all, a girl's got needs, but it's the wants that really impress. And now you can discreetly get me exactly what I desire by simply visiting one of the links in the Wishlists section, on the left-hand side between the Personal and Photos sections. Make me happy this holiday and you'll get a guaranteed karmic upswing. At least that's what the manual says....
Never Enough Recognition Of GLBT Poverty Department
David Mariner of Temenos asked me to comment on GLBT poverty, in light of PlanetOUT's choice of advertisers who target affluent gays and lesbians. Here is my response:
Being transgendered, like being gay or lesbian or bisexual, is a social stigma. It should be no surprise that large numbers of us live below the poverty line. However, there are no statistics on the scope of the problem in the US. I found a reference to one British Columbia study:
"Although trans people come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, trans communities are disproportionately affected by poverty. In a 1998 province-wide survey of 161 transgendered people, 71% of the participants had incomes below the federal government�s low income cut-off; 38% subsisted on less than $1000/month, with 12% surviving on less than $500/month. Only 29% had monthly incomes of $2000 and greater (Burnham, 1999)."
Speaking anecdotally, I've known dozens of transfolk, in particular those who choose to live full-time in their target gender, who have lived as simply as possible, or lived on public assistance, or tried (rarely successfully) to find employment as a sex worker. I've known transfolk who were fired immediately upon transition, or were harrassed out of a job. I've known transgendered who live in their assigned gender simply out of fear that they'd lose their economic status if they dared transition. Add to this the expenses of hormones, electrolysis, and surgeries, and you have a population of people living on the brink of desperation.
In my own case, I've been unemployed for well over a year. I don't consider myself to be unfairly discriminated against, thanks in part to Seattle's long established anti-discrimination laws and in part to a laissez-faire attitude in the area. Yet my own situation is pretty dire. My partner's income helps, and I am still receiving unemployment benefits, but we're barely scraping by. Right now I'm only paying for hormones and anti-androgens, but at US pharmacy prices that averages to about $120 a month. We've had to rely on the kindness of friends, food banks, and our son's school family advocate to help keep ourselves fed and our bills paid. And my unemployment benefits are running out quickly. If I don't find work soon our situation will get extremely dire. (I have two interviews coming up--more than I've had in a while. WISH ME LUCK!)
And while I'm thinking about my partner, I might add that she works at a homeless women's resource center, and that a large part of its clientele is made up of lesbians. Again, there are no statistics here, but I think it's important to point out.
Another issue I have with PlanetOUT is how much of its advertisements are aimed at the young. This only enforces the affluent stereotype, since GLBT seniors may be more prone to poverty than heterosexual, non-transgendered seniors. In addition, it seems like items like exclusive gay/lesbian holidays, expensive fashions, and designer furniture compete with funding for, say, AIDS research and GLBT political action. The end result is an image of young, "passable", dual-income partners blissfully ignoring reality in favor of their own little slice of Gay Heaven, while the ugly reality is rushed off like homeless people in front of a posh hotel.
I can understand the impulse of "going where the money lies" but, like you, I'm appalled by the way that impulse leads to a denial of GLBT poverty. Keep up the fight, David.
Sexism in the Male-to-Female Transsexual is an essay on the denials of what I presume are "secondary" MtF transsexuals, the ones who transition after having attempted to live as male. ("Secondary" refers to the fact that they transition to femalehood after attempting to live as males, usually for 30 years or more, while "primary" transsexuals transition at first opportunity.)
Never Enough Literate Zaftig Trans-lovers Department
I ran across Kythryne Aisling while doing a bit of research on transgender poverty, in an article in which she describes how she came to terms with her second husband's transition into full-time womanhood. Besides being a great writer, she is also musician, web designer, sex educator, and a babe. By all means, check her out!
Never Enough Childhood Psychological Trauma Department
Last Saturday, Thea got home from work with an inexplicable craving for ice cream. So we decided to visit a local hand-mixed ice cream emporium, but for fun wanted to keep this fact from our stepson Becklin. To that end, we came up with a cover story about white slavers. Evil, yes. We tried to console him by telling him he could be a cabana boy rather than having to work in the sugar cane fields, but he didn't want any part of THAT, either. Kids these days...! So spoiled! Heh heh heh.... I'm sure he was plenty relieved when we arrived at the ice cream joint, but I must admit, Thea and I had fun while it lasted.
Sadness fills the land as Jeremy, the webcomic about the kid with the heart of gold and the body of criminal parts, comes to a close. He'll be missed. However, I'm proud to announce the addition of two transgender webcomics. The first, Venus Envy, is about a young bisexual MtF and her trials and tribulations as she explores her gender identity and tries to live a normal life in a new town with a crazy lesbian friend, a hostile FtM, a supportive father, a worried mother, and lots of boy interest. So far it's been very funny while touching on many real-life issues transfolk deal with. The second, Lean On Me, started out with a young boy named Yun who liked to dress in feminine clothes and a sweet nerdy girl who adored him for it; the arrival of Jennifer, a new girl in school who turns out to be MtF, helps Yun realize that she is also transsexual. Young transsexual lesbian bliss, mixed in with violence from transphobic classmates, follows. Right now Lean On Me is focusing on Jennifer as she goes to college and deals with the stresses of knowing nearly nobody and worrying about gender prejudice everywhere. I love both strips greatly and can't wait for more.