Monday, August 31, 2015
One of the informal prerequisites for the court to deem something a suspect class for purposes of equal protection is that the members of that class have an "immutable trait," something that they are born with and is not amenable to change.
As its name suggests, transgender implies an identity that is mutable. However, a recent NYT story challenges that inference.
Dr. Kranz studied four different groups: female-to-male transsexuals; male-to-female transsexuals; and controls who were born female or male and identify as such. Since hormones can have a direct effect on the brain, both transsexual groups were studied before they took any sex hormones, so observed differences in brain function and structure would not be affected by the treatment. He used a high-resolution technique called diffusion tensor imaging, a special type of M.R.I., to examine the white matter microstructure of subjects’ brains.
What Dr. Kranz found was intriguing: In several brain regions, people born female with a female gender identity had the highest level of something called mean diffusivity, followed by female-to-male transsexuals. Next came male-to-female transsexuals, and then the males with a male gender identity, who had the lowest levels.
In other words, it seems that Dr. Kranz may have found a neural signature of the transgender experience: a mismatch between one’s gender identity and physical sex. Transgender people have a brain that is structurally different than the brain of a nontransgender male or female — someplace in between men and women.
This gradient of structural brain differences, from females to males, with transgender people in between, suggests that gender identity has a neural basis and that it exists on a spectrum, like so much of human behavior.
Friday, August 28, 2015
In his January State of the Union address, President Obama became the first president to utter the word “transgender” in a speech, confirming what many are calling America’s “transgender moment.”
Not only is the word itself now part of common speech, transgender characters and personalities are everywhere in popular culture. From Caitlyn Jenner to Laverne Cox and Andreja Pejic, the omnipresence of transgender people in the media has brought visibility—and a needed measure of comfort—to those whose gender identities don’t neatly jibe with their sex at birth. Social media outlets have rushed to keep up. This year Facebook went from giving users a choice of 58 separate gender identities, including “pangender” and “transmasculine,” to letting users designate any “free-form” gender descriptions they wish.
The law has also been moving to protect transgender people from harassment anddiscrimination in employment and housing, while Medicare now covers “gender-confirming” medical procedures for seniors. California recently became the first state to foot the sex reassignment surgery bill for a transgender prison inmate, Shiloh Quine. While it’s too soon to gauge the extent of the Supreme Court’s recent gay marriage decision on transgender marital rights, the process toward full transgender rights is well underway.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Cheryl Nelson-Butler (SMU), A Critical Race Feminist Perspective on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking in America, 27 Yale L.J. (2015)
Abstract:This Article is one of the first to apply critical race feminism (CRF) to explore prostitution and sex trafficking in the United States. Several scholars have applied critical race feminism to explore several forms of sexual exploitation, including sexual harassment, domestic violence, and rape, but have yet to extend this discourse into the debate on prostitution and sex trafficking. Legal scholars have addressed prostitution and sex trafficking as gender oppression, while others have acknowledged the role of race in prostitution and trafficking in America. But few have considered prostitution from a critical race perspective, i.e., one that considers how race and gender intersect with other systems of oppression together to marginalize people of color in America. This Article applies critical race feminist theory to argue that racism intersects with other forms of structural oppression to obscure choice for people of color in America’s prostitution industry. America’s commercial sex industry perpetuates structural race, gender, and class-based inequalities. Racism and structural oppression trap a disproportionate number of women of color and girls of color into prostitution. Racism coerces women of color to engage in prostitution and obscures their consent. A critical race feminist lens informs our understanding of how traditional feminist discourse about prostitution has not fully considered the role of race, structural racism, and intersectional oppression in both the scholarly and policy discourse on prostitution. In contrast to dominant feminist narratives about prostitution, a critical race feminist perspective calls upon scholars and policymakers to focus on the role of racism and structural state sanctioned factors that push marginalized people of color into prostitution.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Are businesses that cater to women inherently anti-male?
Entrepreneur Stephanie Burns would say no. Burns runs Chic CEO, a startup that hosts networking events and provides online resources for female entrepreneurs.
But three men's rights activists didn't see her services as benevolent. They sued her for being denied entry to an event in San Diego.
The lawsuit cites a California law called the Unruh Civil Rights Act,enacted in 1959, which prohibits businesses from discriminating based on factors such as sex, race, religion and disabilities.
Burns told CNNMoney that men are allowed to attend her events, but that particular one was at capacity. But Chic CEO's promotional materials -- which all catered to women -- were fuel for the lawsuit. The event was described as a "fun, relaxed environment to meet up with entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, CEOs, directors, savvy business women."
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”
The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.
The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women’s Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities.
Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971
Designating August 26 of each year as Women’s Equality Day
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex; and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
WHEREAS, the women of United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26th of each year is designated as Women’s Equality Day, and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.
Monday, August 24, 2015
The book was published in 2013, but I recently discovered it, and read it.
Marc Maron--the guy who interviewed Obama from his garage in L.A.--is a comedian and actor. He is also a smart social critic, and his book Attempting Normal is terrific.
True, the book is often puerile, vulgar and some sections (like his somewhat pointless digression about trying to herd feral cats) don't work. But overall, the book contains nuggets of insight about manliness and, seldom found in academic writing, Maron renders his observations with poignant wit and unforgettable humor.
Manliness--at least Maron's manliness--is destructive and self-destructive; it aspires for nobility but is frequently crippled by paranoia; it yearns to be tough but always circles back to its vulnerabilities; it desires love from women but is consumed by a relentless narcissism. It is also highly self-conscious and acutely cognizant of its flaws, and is willing to share those flaws with the reader.
There's an interview with Maron on the Good Men Project today.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
A former instructor at a Christian university in Oregon is taking the school to court after it allegedly fired her for planning to have a baby out of wedlock.
Coty Richardson was working as an exercise science teacher at Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Ore., when she notified school officials that she was due to give birth in November and wanted to know if her maternity leave would create scheduling conflicts.
She claims in a lawsuit filed in state court on Tuesday that the school’s administration told her that her lifestyle was inconsistent with the university’s “faith-based standards.” She was given a choice: If she wanted to keep her job, she would either have to break up with the father or marry him.
Ms. Richardson, who is 35, said in her complaint she was “mortified and crushed” by the ultimatum and “refused to cut ties with the father of her child and her partner of twelve years.”
In July, according to her lawsuit, a school official told her she had a week to make her decision. Days later she told administrators she didn’t want to discuss her personal life. And on July 28, she says, she learned that she had lost her job.
Her lawsuit, which seeks $600,000 in legal damages, accuses Northwest Christian of pregnancy, sex and marital status discrimination, along with wrongful termination and breach of contract.
L. Camille Hebert (Ohio State), Disparate Impact and Pregnancy: Title VII's Other Accommodation Requirement
From the Abstract:
There has been a good deal of attention focused recently on questions concerning how employers are allowed to treat pregnant women in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued revised guidance addressing issues of pregnancy, including the requirements imposed by Title VII with respect to the accommodation of disabling conditions experienced by women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth. And the United States Supreme Court has recently decided a case, Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., which addresses the circumstances under which an employer will be found to have violated Title VII’s prohibition against intentional discrimination for refusing to provide the same accommodation to women affected by pregnancy as that employer provides to a number of other categories of employees.
The disparate treatment theory, on which both the Young case and the EEOC guidance are focused, is undoubtedly an important resource for women who are affected by pregnancy and childbirth to seek accommodations similar to those provided to other employees. But neither the Young case nor the new EEOC guidance focuses on the provision of Title VII that is most likely to provide a mandate for employers to provide accommodation to women affected by pregnancy who experience temporary inability to perform part or all of their job functions. That provision, not raised at all in the decision before the Supreme Court and slighted by the EEOC guidance, is the prohibition on employers maintaining even pregnancy-neutral policies and practices that disproportionately disadvantage women on the basis of pregnancy and cannot be justified by business necessity. It is the disparate impact theory, rather than the disparate treatment theory, in which Title VII’s requirement to accommodate pregnancy is most likely to be found.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Same-sex couples may have won marriage equality, but some gay and lesbian individuals have been left wondering if their unions are still less than equal in the eyes of the government.
Kathy Murphy is one of them. She has been unable to collect survivor and death benefits from Social Security since she lost her spouse, Sara Barker, to cancer in 2012. Ms. Murphy retired from her career in publishing in 2011, earlier than she expected, to care for Ms. Barker, who died at 62.
Ms. Murphy finds herself in this predicament largely because her spouse died before the Supreme Court’s monumental ruling in June, Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that marriage is a fundamental right. That case came after the landmark Windsor decision, in 2013, in which the court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits.
Two women recently passed the arduous tests of the US Army's Ranger School. But they aren't quite Rangers, according to the Army:
Even though they have earned the right to wear the “Ranger” tab on their uniforms, Griest and Haver aren’t allowed to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, a Special Operations unit. But their Ranger training, the Army said, dramatically improves their chances of being promoted.
Griest and Haver were held to the same standards as the men who are graduating with them, senior military leaders told reporters in a briefing here Thursday.
“Our standards have been met,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Arnold, the senior noncommissioned officer in charge at the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade. “We didn’t have to change our standards.
“These two soldiers have proven that — regardless of gender — those standards can be met,” he continued. “Everything is training-based in the Army. If you train hard enough and you prepare well enough, you are going to do well.”
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Police Officer Akema Thompson felt the energy in the air the moment she walked into the Manhattan precinct station. And as soon as she stepped into the women’s locker room, she knew why.
A sign on the wall announced a preparatory course for officers interested in taking the sergeant’s exam. The Civil Service test, an initial step to climbing the career ladder in the New York Police Department, was being offered for the first time in two years, and her station was buzzing.
Officer Thompson, who dreamed of becoming a lieutenant or a captain, knew right away that this was her shot. She signed up for the $769 prep course. “I wanted that opportunity,” she said.
A month later, she discovered she was pregnant. Her due date? Oct. 19, 2013, the date of the sergeant’s exam. Officer Thompson, who was 31 at the time, was not worried. She had heard that the city offered makeup tests. “I’ll make some phone calls and everything will be fine,” she remembered telling herself.Police Officer Akema Thompson sent an email to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services requesting other options for taking the test because Oct. 19, 2013 was the same day as her due date.
She could not have been more wrong.
[Bettina] Hager, 30, grew up to run marathons. She reads Ms. Magazine while working out. A few years back, while working for the National Women's Political Caucus, she once deployed a crew of interns to slip copies of Ms. -- an alternative to Cosmopolitan -- into Washington-area nail salons.
Today, in her new job, she sits in her small and sparse "cubicle that could," helping to mobilize a crusade that began more than 90 years ago.
Her marching orders, as the D.C. director of the ERA Coalition, are to help pass and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed addition to the U.S. Constitution that would explicitly protect women's rights and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.
Hager is just one fresh face in a rejuvenated movement to make this happen.
Though first introduced in 1923, the last time the country really paid attention to the ERA was in the 1970s and early '80s, before Hager was even born. That was when feminist activists brought the issue to a boil. But after failing to secure the required number of state ratifications to pass the ERA by its 1982 deadline, the campaign was reduced to a low simmer.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Thus runs a tentative theory being floated by MSNBC, of all parties:
With his penchant for name-calling and plans to deport every undocumented immigrant living in the United States, Donald Trump hasn’t exactly established a reputation for tolerance. Yet the real estate mogul and reality TV host might nevertheless be the most LGBT-friendly Republican running for president.
Asked whether private companies should be able to fire employees simply because they’re gay, Trump told “Meet The Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday that he didn’t think sexual orientation “should be a reason” for letting workers go.
The question is a significant one for any White House hopeful – currently, 31 states lack employment protections for LGBT Americans, by the Human Rights Campaign’s count, and there are no federal barriers to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Trump’s response, however, marked a significant departure from the rest of the crowded GOP presidential pack, many of whom have pledged to expand protections for those wishing to turn away LGBT people on religious grounds.
About three weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, the Colombian government issued a directive that received little international notice. On June 4th, the government announced that it would allow Colombian citizens to change their gender on identity documents without first undergoing gender-reassignment surgery or obtaining permission from a medical professional. These requirements, which remain in place, either in whole or in part, in the U.S. and most of the rest of the world, were “profoundly invasive of the right to privacy and based upon an impermissible bias,” said Yesid Reyes, the minister of justice. “The construction of sexual identity and gender is a matter that does not depend on biology.”
England and Spain passed the first laws making it easier for a person to change her gender on official documents, in 2004 and 2007, respectively, and Uruguay followed suit in 2009. Three years later, Argentina passed the most progressive gender-identity law in the world. Not only are Argentines spared the usual requirement of reassignment surgery or a medical diagnosis to change identity documents, but medical practitioners are bound by law to provide them with free hormone treatment and gender-reassignment surgery. Colombia’s decree, which was issued by the president, lacks the reach and force of Argentina’s legislation, but it is striking just the same. Now, in Colombia, all an individual has to do to change his or her gender on official documents is appear before a notary public.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Call for Papers
Friday September 18th Deadline
Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network
at the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting
New Orleans, June 2-5, 2016
Dear friends and colleagues,
We write to invite you to participate in panels sponsored by the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Annual Meeting in 2016.
Information about the Law and Society meeting (including registration and hotel information) is at: Law and Society Annual Meeting
Within Law & Society, the Feminist Legal Theory CRN seeks to bring together scholars across a range of fields who are interested in feminist legal theory. There is no pre-set theme to which papers must conform. We would be especially happy to see proposals that fit in with the LSA conference theme, which is belonging, place, and visions of law and social change. We welcome proposals that would permit us to collaborate with other CRNs, such as the Critical Research on Race and the Law CRN or the Gender, Sexuality and the Law CRN. Also, because the LSA meeting attracts scholars from other disciplines, we welcome multidisciplinary proposals. Our goal is to stimulate focused discussion of papers on which scholars are currently working. Thus, while proposals may reference work that is well on the way to publication, we are particularly eager to solicit proposals for works-in-progress that are at an earlier stage and will benefit from the discussion that the panels will provide.
A committee of the CRN will assign individual papers to panels based on subject. Our panels will use the LSA format, which requires four papers, but we will continue our custom of assigning a chair for the panel and a commentator for each individual paper. As a condition of participating as a panelist, you must also agree to serve as a chair or commentator for another panel or participant. We will of course take into account your scheduling and topic preferences to the degree possible. The duties of a chair are to organize the panel logistically, including registering it online with the LSA, and moderating the panel. The chair will develop a 100-250 word description for the session and submit the session proposal to LSA before their upcoming deadline on October 15, so that each panelist can submit his or her proposal, using the panel number assigned. Chairs will also be responsible for assigning commentators but may wait to do so until panels have been scheduled later this winter. The duties of a commentator are to read one paper and provide verbal comments as well as brief written (email is fine) comments.
If you would like to present a paper as part of a CRN panel, please email an abstract or summary, along with your name and a title, to Jessica Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no need to upload the document to the TWEN site this year. Note that LSA is imposing a new requirement that your summary be at least 1,000 words long. Although a shorter summary will suffice for our purposes, you will be required to upload a 1,000 word summary in advance of LSA’s deadline on October 15. If you are already planning a LSA session with at least four panelists (and papers) that you would like to see included in the Feminist Legal Theory CRN, please let Jessica know. In addition to these panels, we may try to use some of the other formats that the LSA provides: the “author meets readers” format, salon, or the roundtable discussion. If you have an idea that you think would work well in one of these formats, please let us know. Please note that for roundtables, organizers are now required to provide a 500 word summary of the topic and the contributions they expect the proposed participants to make. Please also note that LSA rules limit you to participating only once as a paper panelist or roundtable participant.
Please submit all proposals by Friday, September 18. This will permit us to organize panels and submit them prior to the LSA’s deadline on October 15. In the past, we have attempted to accommodate as many panelists as possible, but have been unable to accept all proposals. If we are unable to accept your proposal for the CRN, we will notify you by early Octoberso that you can submit an independent proposal to LSA.
We hope you’ll join us in New Orleans to discuss the scholarship in which we are all engaged and connect with others doing work on feminism and gender.
LSA Planning Committee
Monday, August 17, 2015
From the NYT, a seeming contradiction between women's rights and radical Islam:
....young women attracted to what some experts are calling a jihadi, girl-power subculture. An estimated 4,000 Westerners have traveled to Syria and Iraq, more than 550 of them women and girls, to join the Islamic State, according to a recent report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which helps manage the largest database of female travelers to the region.
They were smart, popular girls from a world in which teenage rebellion is expressed through a radical religiosity that questions everything around them. In this world, the counterculture is conservative. Islam is punk rock. The head scarf is liberating. Beards are sexy.
Ask young Muslim women in their neighborhood what kind of guys are popular at school these days and they start raving about “the brothers who pray.”
“Girls used to want someone who is good-looking; nowadays girls want Muslims who are practicing,” said Zahra Qadir, 22, who does deradicalization work for the Active Change Foundation, her father’s charity in East London. “It’s a new thing over the last couple of years. A lot of girls want that, even some nonpracticing girls.”
Jane says she was raped by three men wearing Gurkha uniforms. She was herding her husband’s goats and sheep, and carrying firewood, when she was attacked. “I felt so ashamed and could not talk about it to other people. They did terrible things to me,” says Jane, her eyes alive with pain.
She is 38 but looks considerably older. She shows me a deep scar on her leg where she was cut by stones when she was pushed to the ground. In a quiet, hesitant voice she continues her story. “I eventually told my husband’s mother that I was sick, because I had to explain the injuries and my depression. I was given traditional medicine, but it did not help. When she told my husband [about the rape], he beat me with a cane. So I disappeared and came here with my children.”
Jane is a resident of Umoja, a village in the grasslands of Samburu, in northernKenya, surrounded by a fence of thorns. I arrive in the village at the hottest time of the day, when the children are sleeping. Goats and chickens wander around, avoiding the bamboo mats on which women sit making jewellery to sell to tourists, their fingers working quickly as they talk and laugh with each other. There are clothes drying in the midday sun on top of the huts made from cow dung, bamboo and twigs. The silence is broken by birdsong, shrill, sudden and glorious. It is a typical Samburu village except for one thing: no men live here.
Seattle follows Philly in making public restrooms gender neutral.
No matter how you identify, you’ll now be able to use a single-stall bathroom in the city of Seattle.
The Seattle City Council passed a law on Monday that requires all public spaces–both those controlled by the city and those of private businesses–to designate any existing and future single-stall restrooms as all-gender, reported local news outlet Seattle Pi.
This goes for all local businesses, including coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and stores. The law prevents business owners from labeling any restroom as gender exclusive.
Saturday, August 15, 2015
A Woman’s Nation, the non-profit organization run by Maria Shriver, recently released its survey The Shriver Report Snapshot: An Insight Into the 21st Century Man, analyzing the American man and how he relates to societally- inflicted stereotypes. In conjunction with the release of the report, Shriver hosted and moderated a panel discussion entitled “A Conversation on Modern Masculinity,” and included a number of the leading minds on the study of masculinity and fatherhood.
The survey yielded a number of interesting findings; men today feel that is “harder” to be a man than it was when their fathers were growing up, with some men finding that the apparently overwhelming addition of women into the workplace makes it more difficult for them to “be men.” Conversely, according to The Report, men claim that success in their personal life is what is most important to them, rather than financial or professional success. Additionally, most men reported that they feel very comfortable with the “increasing professional empowerment of women in the workplace.” However, although this increased comfort with the movement towards gender inequality is promising, the survey shows that many men do not feel comfortable expanding their own parenting role, whether it be in regards to taking paternity leave or being a stay-at-home dad.
Perhaps the most intriguing result comes from the part of the survey that looked to ascertain what qualities men value in their wives and what characteristics they hope their daughters will possess when they grow up. The response was oddly dissimilar, though men seemed to be in agreement on one point: they overwhelming want both their wives and their daughters (77% and 81% respectively) to be intelligent. This is an encouraging discovery, though it is somewhat tainted by the other findings in the survey’s comparison. For example, the study found that although 66% of the men polled listed “independence” as a quality they hoped for in their daughters, only 34% wanted independence in their spouse. This, of all the differentials between the qualities juxtaposed, is the most glaring disparity.
ELLEN REMMER had wanted to align her investments with her values for years, seeking to put her money into stocks and bonds that would have an impact beyond the returns. For her, this meant investing in organizations that either improved the lot of women and girls or helped the environment.
Doing so took longer than she expected. Even though it was her money, it was held in trust. She said it wasn’t easy to persuade the trusts’ advisers to change their investment policies. ****
In its annual survey, the Global Impact Investing Network found that a third of all respondents were interested in making investments that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment through both debt and equity investments in the United States and emerging markets. Some investors seek out female entrepreneurs and give them money. Others invest in companies like those that provide clean-burning cook stoves to women in Africa and Latin America.
Patricia Farrar-Rivas, a partner at Veris Wealth Partners, a wealth management firm that invests $800 million on an impact basis, said gender lens investing is now the most popular of its five impact strategies. (The others are aimed at environment and climate change, community and economic development, sustainable food systems and agriculture, and “sustainable mind-set and mindfulness” — or companies that take their time making investments.)
Despite this increased interest, gender lens investment can seem hard to do. “It’s an area where it’s difficult to gauge supply and demand because much of the demand doesn’t know the supply exists,” Mr. Bouri said.