Governor, May I?

Okay, ladies and gents, hold your kittens close and your uteri closer, because here it comes:

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Conservatives want a government so small, it can fit into your uterus.

Women in Iowa must now seek personal approval of the republican governor in order to have Medicaid cover an abortion.  If the actual sound coming out of you after you read that sentence was Rawrgaggrgh!* then I’m right there with you.  How, you might be asking, are they doing this?
Well, according to the Des Moines Register it seems this particular provision was piggy-backed onto a much larger, 214 page bill that will extend “government-paid health care to tens of thousands of Iowans and earmarking $1.7 billion for the state’s various social service programs” as a sort of compromise with conservatives in order to get the omnibus healthcare bill passed.

On page 33 of this important, and on the face of it wonderful, bill to expand healthcare, is a provision that changes the procedure for Medicaid approvals for abortion payments.

So here’s a breakdown of the current law for receiving Medicaid reimbursement for abortions:
There are four circumstances under which your abortion would be approved: rape, life of the mother, fetal abnormality, and incest. Right now, the Department of Human Services reviews the claims for Medicaid funding, scrutinizing the documentation to ensure the abortions happened under one or more of those four circumstances, and either approves funding or the bill is sent to the woman. I have no numbers now for the amount, or percentage, of women denied funding. All I have to say is that at least right now the documentation is being reviewed by medically trained professionals who aren’t held politically accountable in order to keep their jobs. I could write a whole other post discussing the detrimental effects of the Hyde Amendment that spawned these restrictive current laws. But I digress…

Under the new procedure, the final say in the review process would fall to the governor. Let me be clear: this process happens after an abortion has already been performed.

Let that sink in.

A poor woman is raped, or her life is threatened by her pregnancy or she finds out about a severe fetal abnormality, and after she makes a choice that may or may not be very difficult, she then has to wonder whether or not her application will be approved by a conservative man who has no medical training and is held up to scrutiny of pro-life organizations in order to keep his job.

Aren’t Republicans the ones who are afraid of government-paid healthcare becoming an over-reaching government bureaucracy that controls which medical procedures citizens are allowed to get? Maybe they’re not being hypocrites. Maybe it’s part of some vast conservative conspiracy to appear to relent to government-paid health care in order to chip away at women’s healthcare with the excuse being “compromise” for a dual purpose: the first purpose is to of course chip away at women’s healthcare, but the second would be so they could hold up their own actions as examples for why government-paid healthcare is scary and filled with death panels.

I would almost rather that scenario be true, but they aren’t even trying to hide their attack on women.

“My hope is that we will not have a reimbursement for abortions that happen at the University of Iowa, because I believe using tax dollars for morally unconscionable purposes is absolutely wrong,” said state Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley.

This means that there actually is a group of people who are hell bent on controlling women’s bodies. Which leads me to: the democrats are letting them (at least in some places, I’m still super excited about their awesome job in Texas). Why the hell is women’s health care considered an issue that can be compromised on? Fuck no! They had a chance to take a stand on everybody’s healthcare, and they decided that “everybody” didn’t include women.

Let’s not forget the more insidious effects of laws such as these. What happens when a Medicaid review doesn’t pass? They send the bill to the patient, who, being eligible for Medicaid, doesn’t have the money to pay. Then the hospital, clinic, or doctor absorbs that bill. I wouldn’t be surprised to see hospitals refusing abortions to Medicaid recipients in any legal way they can once they see that abortion funding won’t be approved. Maybe they’ll absorb the abortion bills into their already inflated charitable services bills. Proponents of the bill are hopeful that the increased number of Iowans with insurance would lower the amount of charitable services hospitals perform and thus the hospitals would be better able to absorb the costs of these abortions.

This is just one in a long line of state attacks on women’s rights. So please, ladies everywhere join me in saying: Rawrgaggrgh!

*I’m pretty sure that’s sound somebody makes when they simultaneously let out an angry “rawr” at injustice while also gagging on said injustice

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I Can’t Believe We’re Still Fighting for this Shit

Yesterday a six-year-old girl won the right to pee in a girl’s bathroom.  ”WTF is this even news?” you might be asking.  Because apparently the fact that Coy Mathis is a trans girl changes things entirely.  The story was all over Facebook yesterday and the comments were filled with some indifference, some acceptance, and a lot of hatred.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

these children wouldn’t know what the hell any of this was if it were pushed and accepted in this perverted ass Amerikkkan society. you a boy and you like pink. you better go find something blue. Amerikkka is a pile of shit.

I have no idea why you insist on not only supporting but promoting sexual deviant behavior… surly your not angling to see a video of this! You sick sick puppy.

My 3 year old niece thought she was a kitten for about a year or so. Kids that young don’t know what gender is, let alone what gender they should be. No hate here, but my immediate impression is that the parents are either pushing this on the kid or indulging typical childish silliness in a way that can seriously damage him psychologically.

Who looks at this little girl and thinks, “Something sinister must be afoot”? Only assholes.

Who looks at this little girl and thinks, “Something sinister must be afoot”? Only assholes.

There is so much cissexual privilege here that I don’t know where to begin.  Why is it that every time a story about a trans kid comes out, it’s immediately followed by cries of denial.  As though this kid doesn’t have any means of expressing herself and is just being blindly tricked into being trans.  You don’t see insistence that other kids parents are just pushing a cissexual identity onto their kid (even though that’s exactly what these people are doing).  You don’t see claims that kids who identify as cis are sick in the head.  Nobody claims that cis identified kids are crazy, or duped, or delusional.  Why?  Because these people think cis is the default, natural god-given position rather than simply the most common.  Are you a man who’s happy with your penis? Congratulations!  This fucking conversation is not about you.  The fact that you believe your experience of gender is universal shows just how little you know about the world.

So easy a child can understand it.

So easy a child can understand it.

Gender identity cannot be changed or forced or twisted.  The fact that Coy identifies as a girl is static.  The fact that she wears dresses is a product of what our culture says people who identify as girls should wear.  They are not related.  And Coy dressing in a way that makes her comfortable has nothing to do with her sexuality.  Gender Identity is not Gender Expression is not Sexual Orientation.  These are not new concepts.  Whenever you see a masculine gay man or a feminine lesbian or a butch straight woman or a femme straight man, those are all examples of ways the three components of sexuality and gender do not “match”.  Nobody can force a child who identifies as a girl to identify as a boy.  But that’s exactly what these people want to do, simply because the parts between her legs at birth make them uncomfortable.  Coy’s parents are not scheduling her for SRS, they’re not putting her on hormones, they’re not doing anything permanent on the off chance that Coy might change her mind.  All she’s doing is presenting as a girl, using female pronouns, and doing all the same stuff that other girls her age do.  So just in case your dream comes true and Coy does identify as a boy later on, no harm has been done.  She’s got her whole damn life to figure that out, so why don’t you let her and her parents worry about what future steps they take?

For those who are concerned about what other kids will think, they probably won’t think much of anything unless you tell them to.  When I transitioned years ago I was working at a comic shop.  There were tons of kids I saw on a regular basis.  I became good friends with one couple and their kid in particular.  I watched their daughter grow from a baby to a kindergartner.  Hell, I even babysat her for them.  Do you want to know how she reacted to my transition?

Dori, why are you dressed like a girl?

Because I am one.

Oh.  Okay.  Can I play with these Legos?

It really is that simple.  Kids don’t give a shit about the ramifications of gender norms.  They don’t care about what you had between your legs when you were born.  They just want to play with Legos.

And speaking of discomfort, let’s go ahead and address the same stupid fear mongering I hear whenever we talk about trans people and bathrooms.

First, there’s the concern that trans women and girls, who are all imagined to be pre-op or non-op for some reason, will flash our genitals at cis women and girls.  But guess what?  Our reasons for using the bathroom are the same as cis women.  To relieve our bladders and bowels, to wash our hands, to check our hair and makeup in the mirror, to accompany friends, whatever.  We don’t go in there so we can show a part of our body that most are mortified about to strangers.  Sorry to burst your fantasy.

Now that’s a REAL bathroom predator!

Now that’s a REAL bathroom predator!

Second, there’s the concern that trans women will physically or sexually assault cis women.  Well, I have news for you.  Trans women don’t assault cis women in bathrooms, but there have been plenty ofcis people who’ve assaulted trans women.  Probably because of some sense of entitlement.  Hmm, what would that sort of mentality be called?  I feel like I already discussed it earlier.  It’s almost like a privileged majority are ganging up on an unrepresented minority.  Oh well, I’m sure I’ll think of the word for it later.  Did I mention that we have an entire day set aside to remember the hundreds of trans people killed by cis people?  And that we’re one of the biggest targets for hate crimes?  No?  I probably should have.

Third, there’s a myth that if trans people can pee in peace, it will somehow give predators an excuse to sneak into restrooms to assault without recourse.  Well, I don’t know if you realized this, but you can still press charges against someone for assault even if you give trans people basic human rights.  Because, you know, assault will still be illegal.  It seems kind of silly to restrict basic human rights for a whole group of people because you’re afraid of a hypothetical situation.  But what do I know?  I’m just an angry tranny.

And finally, you can’t force trans people to use gender-neutral bathrooms if they don’t want to.  Remember that whole separate-but-equal thing we struck down a long time ago?  Yeah, turns out that’s unconstitutional.  By all means, we should make gender-neutral bathrooms more common because a lot of people prefer gender-neutral bathrooms.  And not just trans people!  The “family” bathrooms in many malls and movie theaters are a lifesaver for parents who have kids of different genders.  Most of Europe has gender-neutral bathrooms and they don’t seem to be experiencing chaos about it.

Finally, I want to say something to the trans readers out there who may be concerned about all this.  Do not ask for permission to use a bathroom.  That’s weird.  Nobody else does it, so why should you?  Rights are not something you ask for, because that only gives someone an opportunity to say, “No.”  Rights are something you expect and, if necessary, take.  So don’t ask your boss or principal if you can use the appropriate bathroom.  Just do it.  I’ve been to the girls room with butch women, early transitioners, drag queens, whatever.  Confidence is key.  Just act like you belong there, because you do.

Let’s Go Strapless

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The Feeldoe, in all it’s engineered-by-women-for-women glory!

In the interest of sex-positivity and lady-loving-ladies everywhere (or perhaps pegging-loving-fellas?), I want to share the “Strapless Strap-On” with you.  I didn’t even know such things were possible until a month or so ago, after some research and discussions with friends.  So, take my hand, and let’s dip a toe into these strapless waters together.

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Look ma, no hands!

Through the power of kegel muscles, the wearer holds onto the “bulb” end of the toy while the receiver has a grand old time.   The cool thing about these is they provide both partners with fun stimulation (especially if you get the vibrating ones) and you can might be able to avoid the whole harness thing.  The downside is that no one’s cervix and vaginal canal are the same, and so the bulbs are not “one-size-fits-all”.  So you may actually still need a harness if the bulb doesn’t quite stay secure.

All that being said, these seem much more fun for the wearer than the traditional strap-on, even those with a vibrating harness.  They have built in g-spot and clitoral stimulation for the giver and the obvious fun bit for the receiver.  And if you’re enjoying solo sexy time, the bulb can be used as a handy grip.  This is probably going to be my next toy purchase, but for the first time I’ll be doing so online because my local sex shop down the street charges just shy of $300 for one.  The two big names in the game seem to be the Feeldoe by Erogenics and the Share by FunFactory.   Personally, I’m going with the Feeldoe Slim.  It has attachable bullet for vibration, the bulb looks comfortable, and Erogenics is women-created and operated.  Maybe once I’ve tried it out, I give you a follow-up review.

P.S.  Please use protection whenever you use toys with another person.  Not only does a condom feel awesome when sliding around on a toy, but it makes for easier clean-up and keeps your lady juices separate from your partner(s)’ juices.  Safe sex is great sex!

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Wrap that shit up!

16 Bits of Pure Awesome

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Portable Super Mario World? I think I just had a nerdgasm.

Doesn’t all this silly fighting between X-Box One and Playstation 4 make you wish for a simpler time?  A time when games were in two dimensions of pure excellence, gameplay was prized over graphics, and you could walk down to Blockbuster with a few bucks in your hand to rent the newest Donkey Kong Country for the whole weekend?

Well then you’re in luck, because the folks over at Retro Bit have come up with a way for you to play your old NES and SNES games at home or on the go!  The RetroDuo comes with an RCA hookup and two controllers for your TV, and one of the controllers can be detached and carried with you on the go.  Sure, it’s a little bulky, but don’t you remember how heavy the old GameBoys used to be?  Think of how ripped your forearms will be after playing EarthBound for eight hours straight.

You can also hook the RetroDuo up to your TV and educate your kids about how awesome, and difficult, video games used to be.

You can also hook the RetroDuo up to your TV and educate your kids about how awesome, and difficult, video games used to be.

The controller hookups allow you to use your old SNES controllers and other accessories (maybe your old Mario Paint mouse?), just in case you’re a controller snob like me, and won’t settle for less than the real thing.  They even sell an adapter for Sega Genesis games, so you can play an entire decade’s worth of sweetness, regardless of console.  And the best part about retro gaming is you can still buy old games at independent game stores, usually for less than five bucks a piece.  While other folks are flinging birds or planting flowers on their phones, you can throw down with some Street Fighter 2 or Earthworm Jim.  They’ll only be able to wish they were as cool as you.

Discussing Queer Foreplay in Middle School and Other Activities to Piss Off the Religious Right

Effective at protecting your food *and* lady bits!

Effective at protecting your food *and* lady bits!

A friend forwarded the following article to me titled “Student Taught about Homosexual Foreplay Disguised as Tolerance“.  For those with no patience or stomach for uptight-sex-negative-Christian writing, I’ll briefly summarize.  A middle school in Maine had a Diversity Day presentation from PRYSM, the Proud Rainbow Youth of Southern Maine, to talk against bullying.  The presentation ended with a Q&A session where the students could ask anything they wanted.  And, surprise, the middle schoolers wanted to talk about sex.  And PRYSM answered those questions frankly and truthfully.  The response that seems to be causing a stir is letting students know that Saran Wrap can be used in a pinch as a barrier between a vagina and mouth for safe oral sex.  Thus, the uptight-sex-negative-Christian outrage.  The article has such witty responses as:

I don’t want my child taught heterosexual foreplay, let alone homosexual foreplay in school.

I’ve had to let him know that no matter what situation he gets in – my suggestion is not saran wrap.  My suggestion is to abstain altogether.

Either middle school starts at a much younger age than I remember, or “Heterosexual Awareness Month” is written by manipulative assholes.

Either middle school starts at a much younger age than I remember, or “Heterosexual Awareness Month” is written by manipulative assholes.

Not only that, but the article itself contains a picture of shocked kids who are obviously too young to be in middle school.  Were they simply hoping people would only read the headline and see the picture?  I’ve tried my best to find a non-biased report of this situation, but have come up empty.  So I’m going to defend PRYSM against a one-sided argument and discuss why safe sex discussion must be a part of middle school education.

I have a soft spot for PRYSM in this whole mess, because I work for an LGBTQ youth center very similar to PRYSM.  Like them, our organization has participated in diversity training with schools and other groups and inevitably, sex comes up in the discussion.  Why?  Maybe it’s because people still equate LGBT identities with sex rather than seeing sex as a small part of our lives as a whole.  Or maybe it’s because we queer folk are pretty upfront about sex out of necessity, and kids who can’t talk to their uptight-sex-negative-Christian parents respond to that.  Either way, PRYSM responded to the students questions about sex in an honest way and I applaud them for that.  It’s the outrage of homophobic parents pulling the “this is what happens when you let queers have rights” card that I find offensive, not middle schoolers being curious about sex.

Psst.  Uptight-sex-negative-Christian parents.  Come here.  I have a little secret for you.  Are you ready?  LGBT peeps are not corrupting your kids.  Middle schoolers are human beings who are on the cusp of puberty, which means it is incredibly likely they will explore S-E-X before they graduate high school.  And it is almost certain they will have sex before marriage.  In fact, most Americans, including grandmothers, have had or will have sex before they are married.  And considering that the numbers are as high as 91 percent, which far outnumbers the non-Christian population, Jesus does not seem to be very effective at keeping horny teenagers from having sex.  So maybe, just maybe, we should have a mature discussion with children about how to practice sex safely rather than attempting to avoid the inevitable and then dealing with the messy consequences.  If you want to reduce the number of abortions, unwanted pregnancies, and STIs in the world, than you should be screaming about condoms, dental dams, and Saran Wrap from the fucking mountain tops.  Not making your kids wear fake wedding rings and declare promises they can’t keep.

This is what my desk looks like at work. Free condoms, dental dams, and lube. No questions asked.  Just think of all the damage I’ve done to “innocent” teenagers.

This is what my desk looks like at work. Free condoms, dental dams, and lube. No questions asked.  Just think of all the damage I’ve done to “innocent” teenagers.

I talk to my “gaybies” about safe sex on a very regular basis.  If a kid wants to know how a female condom works, I take one out and show it to her.  If another kid wants to know what a flavored dental dam tastes like, I tell them to open one and lick it.  I also suggest a cut condom or, *gasp*, Saran Wrap if they don’t have a dental dam.  If they ask me about flavored lubes, I tell them to use them for outer sex only because the sugars can cause infections.  If they tell me they’re worried about having an STI, I make them an appointment at the gay clinic to get tested.  If they want to know what sexual activities come with the least amount of risk, I tell them about dry humping and mutual masturbation.  You name it, I will discuss it.  Right there, without judgement.  I don’t lecture them about morality.  I don’t judge them about their questions or choices.  I respect their intelligence enough to know they are aware of abstinence.  And because I build that trust, they know they can come to me with anything and I’ll offer them support and advice.  That trust has put me in the position to have meaningful discussions about relationships, coercive sex, non-monogamy, and so much more with youth who don’t have a mature outlet for these very normalquestions and concerns.  If they didn’t feel safe to come to me or another adult at our center, they might get some dubious or false information from their peers or online.

Your top concern as a parent, guardian, or caretaker of children should be their safety and happiness.  Discussing safe, positive, consensual sex and masturbation with kids in your care is an important part of helping them find that safety and happiness.  And doing so without judgement or fear lets them know your support is unconditional.  Your kids are going to have sex. Wouldn’t you rather they discuss it with you first and get the best information they can before they do?  It will be awkward at first, but it’s a lot less awkward than some of the side effects that can happen from unsafe sex.  So the only outrage you should feel about PRYSM answering your kid’s question is that your child didn’t feel like they could ask you, Mr. and Mrs. uptight-sex-negative-Christian Parent.