TBT: Trans Kids and Media Messaging

Throwback Thursday posts are posts I have previously written on other sites. They are reposted here sometimes on Thursdays. This post was originally posted on Queereka on 10/13/2013. Usage note: “Trans*” was a common convention in 2013 but is generally no longer used. I no longer use it but have preserved it in reposts in which it originally occurred for transparency.

Lately there has been a huge increase in the number of media news stories about trans* youth, especially pre-pubescent kids. Mainstream media shows them, blogs cover them, and stories get passed around on social media. Many of these stories are uplifting tales of families that accept and nurture their non-gender-conforming children and go on at length about how they are managing their local school systems and other barriers to acceptance for these kids. The kids featured almost always seem to identify firmly on the other side of a gender binary from the sex they were assigned at birth.

While seeing examples of accepting families is reassuring and inspiring for many, I’m worried about this messaging. I don’t think it’s function is to increase acceptance of trans* people in society. In fact, I think it’s primarily designed and intended to enforce the gender binary and emphasize a very particular kind of story about who trans* people are.
Continue reading “TBT: Trans Kids and Media Messaging”

TBT: Trans Kids and Media Messaging

Pseudoscience in “Adnan’s Story”

Like millions of others, I have been interested in the story of the conviction of Adnan Syed for the murder of Hae Min Lee since the blockbuster hit podcast Serial came out in 2014. I have continued to follow the story through Undisclosed, a podcast by several people working on Syed’s legal defense. That group includes Rabia Chaudry, the woman who first brought Syed’s case to Sarah Koenig of This American Life, who then went on to create Serial. While I have not delved as deeply into this case as some people, I have followed it as the case changed from one seeming fairly hopeless, through Syed’s recent PCR hearing in which his conviction was vacated. He now awaits a new trial.

Rabia Chaudry recently published a new book on the case, Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial. She believes completely in Syed’s innocence, and leaves no room in her book for doubt of that. It contains her own experiences and views on the case, as well as giving Syed a chance to tell parts of the story in his own words. The tone of the book is very personal, including details of both of their personal lives over the course of the 17 years Syed has been imprisoned. I listened to it on audio with Chaudry as the narrator, giving the experience an even more personal feel. It also gives Chaudry an opportunity to float her theory of the case independently, without the limitations of working with a journalist or other lawyers.
Continue reading “Pseudoscience in “Adnan’s Story””

Pseudoscience in “Adnan’s Story”

Yes Please! Longer Term Testosterone Options

CN: Discussion of testosterone based hormone replacement therapy, injections

Medication adherence is a big issue for any medication that needs to be taken long term. The WHO estimates there are problems with medication adherence in 50% of patients with chronic diseases in developed nations. People in poverty are impacted disproportionately, and generally poor adherence can lead to poor outcomes for patients. Although being transgender is not a disease, medication adherence is often a struggle for transgender men taking testosterone for hormone replacement therapy. Exact statistics are hard to get on this specific situation, but the WHO data suggests the hypothesis that this is a common problem for hormone replacement therapy as well. Anecdotally, I know far more guys who have struggled with compliance than those who have not, after the first year or so on T.

Better medications won’t solve the cost and doctor access issues. For most people a new prescription is required every six months or a year. Most insurance still doesn’t pay for hormone replacement therapy, and many transgender people in the United States and some other countries don’t have medical insurance with good drug coverage anyway. Keeping a consistent medical care provider for long periods of time can be difficult (especially for a population with low employment stability), and having to convince new doctors to continue your old medications, especially doctors not already familiar with caring for trans patients, is often a hassle.
Continue reading “Yes Please! Longer Term Testosterone Options”

Yes Please! Longer Term Testosterone Options

Back to School With a Battle of Chalk

Content Notes: Racism, sexism, alt-right politics

Chalked political messages on the sidewalks is against the rules at DePaul University, but that isn’t stopping the College Republicans. During the spring last year racist messages chalked on the Lincoln Park Chicago campus created such a toxic atmosphere that the school decided to ban political chalking from campus grounds. Many of those chalkings were supportive of Donald Trump’s campaign during the primary, and came after conflicts over racism on the University’s Facebook page and suggestions from the Black Student Union about ways to make campus safer for students of color.

Not long after that, at the end of a school year full of racial conflict and prejudice at DePaul University, the College Republicans group on campus invited hate-monger Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus. His talk was met with protests in which students of color managed to break into the room and occupy the stage on which he was speaking. This lead to an angry mob of his followers heading out onto campus and violently attacking protesters. The president of the school, Father Dennis Holtschneider, handled this incredibly badly, basically blaming the students who protested Yiannopoulos and apologizing to the College Republicans group. The uproar in response to this letter likely contributed significantly to Holtschneider’s resignation soon thereafter. He is still president of the school, but DePaul is searching for his successor.

The school year ended with a noose hung at the entrance of the Sanctuary Hall Dormitory.
Continue reading “Back to School With a Battle of Chalk”

Back to School With a Battle of Chalk

Frivolous Friday: Starved Rock State Park

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Enjoy!

Spouse and I went for a little trip and hike at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois for our wedding anniversary. We didn’t camp this time, since we wanted to relax for our anniversary and we wanted access to a hot tub, but we did spend Sunday in the park exploring it.

Starved Rock is the most popular park in Illinois, possibly because it is an oasis of interesting geology in an otherwise exceedingly flat landscape. The park lays along the Illinois river, and contains several beautiful canyons and small waterfalls as well as tall bluffs overlooking the river. These features were eroded by the repeated flooding associated with glacial melting in the last ice age in an event called the Kankakee Torrent. The rock exposed in these bluffs and canyons is fairly soft sandstone.

Starved Rock itself, a big section of bluff along the river, isn’t all that impressive to see from inside the park itself. We climbed the long set of stairs, expecting to see something more impressive, but the view of the Illinois River wasn’t actually worth the climb. On the other hand, our short hike to Wildcat Canyon was definitely worth it, with nice views of French Canyon on the way, and lovely scenery. Most of the hike had tree cover and the trails are well maintained given how much use they get.

Speaking of use of the park, it was PACKED. I wouldn’t visit again on a holiday weekend. We luckily got there early enough to find parking in the overflow lot, and get a good amount of our hiking in before it was too busy, but by early afternoon they closed the gates to the park because they were at capacity. I don’t blame them, as by then the hiking trails were completely packed with people. I plan to go back and explore a lot more of the park, but it will need to be at a less popular time.

We had a picnic lunch using my favorite camp stove under one of the big trees near the Visitor Center. We watched people catch two big fish in the river while we relaxed in the shade. Others nearby grilled, played volleyball and catch, and generally had fun.

Not feeling up to a second hike, especially in crowded conditions, we headed back to overflow parking (up a huge flight of stairs on the way) and into the nearby town of Utica. While Utica was also full of holiday travelers, we did enjoy some ice cream and a wander through a few adorable antique stores before heading back to our hotel.

I look forward to going back to Starved Rock State Park when it will be less crowded, and to exploring other Illinois State Parks. Starved Rock is open year-round so maybe it will be a good place to get some winter hiking in this year. Mostly it was lovely getting to spend a few days out of the city with my amazing spouse.

Frivolous Friday: Starved Rock State Park

Chaos and Volume: My Autistic Ears

Noise is really hard for me to deal with. Of all sensory input, hearing is definitely the one I struggle with the most day to day, far more than any other. I am easily irritated with noise, and in extreme situations it can overwhelm to the point of incoherence.

It’s easy for others who do not live in my head to guess that volume is the main problem here. After all, I often use earplugs to moderate noise and allow me to be in environments I would otherwise not function well in. Yes, volume is part of the problem, but it’s not the more significant one. What really bothers me is what I perceive as chaos.

Chaotic noise is the sound of multiple people talking at once, music that I’m not familiar with, or an unexpected Harley driving by. It is a radio show playing in one room while a TV show plays in the next. It is trying to have a conversation while others talk nearby. Is is the sensory hell of the laundromat, with machines turning, children crying, a TV blaring, a coin machine dispensing, and many conversations in every direction. Continue reading “Chaos and Volume: My Autistic Ears”

Chaos and Volume: My Autistic Ears