Understanding Trans

This is a generalisation — and possibly a dangerous one — but I believe that for most people the “T” is the least understood part of “LGBT.” I’m one of those people, but I hope that I can make progress in this area.

A dear friend recently trusted me enough to come out as transgender, and I am 100% supportive of Ms. Jones as he goes on the journey to becoming a she. Really the only difficulty I’ve encountered over the last several days is my inability to comprehend what it feels like to be transgender. This inability doesn’t mean that I don’t love my friend just the same as always, nor does it mean that the fundamentals of our relationship will change in any way. But as the great Joss Whedon once wrote, “She understands. She doesn’t comprehend.”

So here are the things I’m trying to wrap my head around. I’d love help figuring these things out.

Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual are easier for me to understand as a Cisgender Heterosexual because they involve choice of whom to love, which is a feeling I have experienced. It’s my firm belief that bisexuality is the future norm of the human race. Human beings don’t love a gender; they love individuals. I understand why transgenderism gets lumped in with homosexuality, but I don’t think in the long run these issues should be classified together. Gender identity is something altogether different from the love one individual has for another. I can understand the feelings a lesbian, gay, or bisexual person has for the one they love. I don’t comprehend what it feels like to feel transgender.

I have a lot of worries about Ms. Jones. I want her to be safe as she transitions. She’s moving from occupying a public status in the most privileged class — heterosexual cisgender male — to being a transwoman, which is an extremely at-risk category. I want my friend to defy the odds of being at higher risk for violent crime, HIV, and discrimination, but I worry that she’ll experience difficulties just the same.

I also worry about my ability to understand how a person who is a transwoman relates to my understanding of myself as a woman. The feminist part of me is eager to see gender roles broken down and done away with, so I must admit to feeling some confusion at the idea of someone deliberately wanting to adhere to the arbitrary gender constructs. Again, I don’t feel a lack of support or respect for Ms. Jones, just a lack of ability to see things from her perspective. I hope as time goes on that my perspective can be enlarged, but for now I’ll just have to be patient with not really understanding how this works. Ms. Jones will never menstruate, conceive a child, or experience PMS, but is that what makes a woman? It’s possible that at some point she’ll understand what it’s like to have to maintain constant vigilance while moving in public places because of the constant barrage of catcalls, unwanted conversations, and other ways that men try to assert ownership of women, but is that what makes a woman?

I think that part of what makes it so difficult for me to comprehend is that while I understand that female sex and female gender are two distinct issues, for me there is little to no conflict between those two spheres. I’ve never woken up in the morning and thought, “Today I feel like one hell of a bloke.” I’ve wondered once or twice what it would be like to have a penis or to shave a beard off my face, but only in the same sense that I’ve wondered once or twice what it would be like to be able to do a backflip or drive a Maserati. I’ve never felt like a man.

Another area that I may need to rethink is my discomfort with dramatic body modification. Obviously surgeries are something that is fairly far down the road with any transgender individual, but even then it does conflict with the my fundamental feeling that body modification is mainly a product of marketing bombardment telling us how we should look. Perhaps this issue is different for transwomen than it is for biological females. I’m not sure, and I’ll have to do more thinking on the topic.

I’m not afraid of any of these questions or conflicts. In fact, I believe it’s good for me to think very hard about this issue. It can only help me understand more about myself and the people in my life. There is always more to learn, and I look forward to expanding my understanding.

Ms. Jones Comes Out

I was recently humbled and honoured when a friend came out to myself and Mr. Molly as trans. I asked our friend, who is male-to-female trans, if they would not mind sharing their transformation with my readers here. Luckily for all of you, she was comfortable sharing her journey. As a starter, I’ve asked “Ms. Jones” to answer the basic questions provided in the PFLAG questionnaire as an informative exercise for myself. A note on comments: since Ms. Jones is just dealing with the first baby steps of coming out, absolutely no negative commentary will be tolerated. If transgender issues are not your cup of tea, please take your comments elsewhere. If you have constructive, thoughtful ideas, please do post them below.

Molly:

When did you start thinking about your gender identity?

Ms. Jones:

The conscious questioning began roughly four and a half years ago. I’ll readily admit this shocked me writing it down, I wanted to estimate just two or maybe three years but then I went back to check some dates and discovered it’s really been that long. Honestly, the longer I’ve questioned the further back I can take the subconscious questioning — the disparate feelings and thoughts that never quite tied together in my head, the feelings of not quite fitting in or being “right” somehow. I can trace some of these right back to my earliest memories, but until my recent past none of it made any sense beyond out of place thoughts or feelings that I just shelved away.

Molly:

What caused you to start thinking about your gender identity?

Ms. Jones:

It’s a two-fold and, in my opinion, strongly ironic answer. The first and main part was freedom to finally be myself. I’d found myself living to the expectations of others for so long that the opportunity to really be introspective and discover who I am never really came to me — in fact it was probably a question I didn’t even consider I needed to answer. I went from fulfilling parental expectations, to meeting the expectations of my romantic partner and trying to live up to the image of an older sibling I looked up to. I progressed through higher education and then fell almost directly to fulfilling my side of a relationship, engagement, then marriage without ever stopping to question if I was really being true to myself. Looking back the hardest part of all of this is that none of the emotions or feelings were faked, but at the same time there was always something hollow within me, a sense of not quite being complete, and a lingering fear of not fulfilling the role society expected of me quite competently enough.

The second part, that fulfils the irony mentioned earlier is that it was from in a subsequent relationship that I was prompted to explore this side of myself. So after espousing the freedom to find myself without the shackles of some parental, societal or relationship based construct — that’s actually what led me here. Go figure. If anything, she was too supportive and our relationship sadly fizzled, due at least in part to my own fears and insecurities — I think she understood me more than I understood myself back then and was years ahead of me in her thinking. When you’ve barely broached the subject of transgenderism and your partner is telling you you are it can be a little scary. I guess it’s just a shame we didn’t meet years later!

Molly:

Where did you learn about the transgender community?

Ms. Jones:

I didn’t know there was one until very recently. I think my first “contact” with even knowing transgendered people could exist didn’t happen until I was in higher education and that turned into a fascination that I kept secret, basically until now! I never really linked the fascination to the fact that it felt right for me, it was just something that continued to dwell in the periphery of my consciousness, never quite rearing its head but never fully going away.

Molly: Do you know any transgender people?

Ms. Jones:

Right now just a handful. I’ve had wonderful experiences with the very welcoming local PFLAG community that have enabled me to connect with a few transgender people, and learn of a few more who I should talk to. My therapist has also helped lining up people for me to talk to in this regard. At this point it’s still all baby steps for me. It wasn’t until late 2012 that I really came to terms with myself, accepted and overcame the fears I had and acknowledged that this is my life and this is where it’s going.

Molly:

Do you have support from the transgender community?

Ms. Jones:

I have made an amazing friend who has been incredibly supportive so far, there to point me in the right direction to learn more and also to be someone to listen when I’ve had to vent. I have explored the periphery of a few online communities, but I’m pretty shy in myself at the best of times so putting myself forward is tough. I’m definitely making progress and getting there one step at a time though!

Molly:

Do you have friends you can talk to about gender identity issues?

Ms. Jones:

I do now!

Molly:

What name/pronouns would you like me to use when addressing you?

Ms. Jones:

I’ll answer the name part offline since that would like, totally, ruin the veil of anonymity we’ve created here. Definitely feminine pronouns though, however I’m in a very awkward position now being forced to present as male for the forseeable future so I’m totally cool with whatever happens. It cuts a little being male, but the majority of my social interactions and all of my business based interactions will be happening that way for some time to come.

Molly:

Are there resources you have been accessing to educate yourself about this? Can you recommend any for me?

Ms. Jones:

The few transgender people I know have been amazing resources and have pointed me to many sites online. Three that I have found especially useful on a personal level are transgendercare.com, Lynn Conway’s Homepage and Transsexual Roadmap. The last is probably more applicable to me but I’ve always considered any information to be useful as you gain insights into how others view the world too! Beyond that obviously PFLAG. I’m still incredibly early in my transitional journey so at this point I’m sure I have a thousand more things to discover myself, let alone share with others.

Molly:

Are you safe from harassment?

Ms. Jones:

Bearing in mind my location I would answer most likely not. However, with that being said, at least for the short to medium term I would imagine not. I’m still forced to mostly present publically as male due to work and current social constraints. There is nobody in my immediate vicinity, save for those from PFLAG, who know my true identity. Thankfully we’ve already managed to navigate the possibly muddy waters of meeting randomly in public and how to talk to each other there!

Molly:

What can I do to better support you at this time?

Ms. Jones:

You’ve been amazing and more than I would have dared ask for so far. This is both a wonderful and incredibly scary journey for me. In myself I truly feel free of depression that has haunted me for goodness knows how long, I can see and feel the spark of hope in life that I’d almost forgotten existed. At this stage understanding, questions, and communication are what I really hope for. I’ve been good at reaching out to tell people so far, but I’m not good at keeping the conversation going, I’m never quite sure if the responses have been positive and nice to placate me so people can just gradually dissociate. So regular reaching out, small talk, conversation, and understanding mean the world to me :)

Molly:

Is there anything I can do to help?

Ms. Jones:

You already are, both with my previous answer, and with the fact you’ve shown enough interest to go through this process with me.

Q&A with Marilyn – Part One

Yesterday I had a chat with a BYU freshman who is living in the dorms and wanted to provide some insight into what it’s like to adjust to not just university but a religious dominated university. We plan on doing future sessions, so if any readers have questions for Marilyn, please post them in the comments below and I’ll put them into the next Q&A.

Molly: Thanks for doing this. I suppose we can’t use your real name. Do you have a preference for a nom de plume?

Marilyn: Hmm. I love Marilyn Monroe, but I don’t know if I should use that name.

Molly: No, it’s a good one. We can call you Marilyn.

Marilyn: She’s my favorite actress. She said a lot of deep shit and was hot as fuck. (Laughs) Make sure you use that exact wording when you say why I admire her.

Molly: I’ll do that. So for our first question. When you got to the dorms at BYU this year, what did you encounter that you least expected and felt unprepared for?

Marilyn: How hard the girls try here. Eighty to ninety percent are super skinny and fit. Perfect skin, hair always done, and huge flirts. Its ironic because even though the church is against being slutty, the girls still try so hard to get boys because they all have been taught that marriage comes in college. They wont admit it, but they’re here to get their BA and their MRS. I’m okay with wearing glasses and putting my unbrushed hair into a messy bun, while my roomate spends at least an hour a day on her hair alone. She changes her outfit, like, 5 times before she walks out the door and fixes her hair and makeup every time we’re about to go out.

Molly: Do you ever find that being surrounded by girls like that makes it hard for you to take your education seriously?

Marilyn: Yeah, sometimes. There are smart girls and they obviously have goals and stuff but there’s always that second thought of, “Yeah, I’ll pursue my dreams until I find a husband and have babies. Then I’ll just stay at home.”

Molly: Is it correct for me to say that BYU does not provide good support to women who want to have a career?

Marilyn: I don’t know. It’s mixed. It’s a fucked up blend of chivalry and sexism. Its like, they are supportive, but it seems like a facade at the same time. They say we should work hard but then your religion teacher talks about gender roles and it conflicts.

Molly: So it seems like they are okay with women going to college, as long as women don’t forget that their first priority should be to get married and have kids and stay at home.

Marilyn: Yeah. They’re not against women having a career. It’s just not the first thing they would say. That comes as a second thought because they realize how sexist it would be not to say having a career was okay too.

Molly: Did you feel this conflict at all when you were in high school?

Marilyn: Nnnnnnoooo! Well, maybe at church. But never at school.

Molly: Do you feel that your high school gave equal support to the personal goals of boys and girls?

Marilyn: Yes. Of course. My math teacher had two kids and she still worked. There were lots of brilliant women that worked there that were moms.

Molly: Did you ever feel conflict over the gender roles taught at church, or were you able to push it to the back of your mind because you spent most of your time at a secular public school, interacting with non-Mormons?

Marilyn: Yeah. Because my guy friends didn’t think that way. I didn’t realize how sexist Mormonism was until I explained it out loud to my friend once. It never really affected me like this before, because I was in high school. The church’s teachings didn’t really apply to me to the way they do now.

Molly: Do you feel that moving to BYU, where everything is somehow connected to Mormonism, has forced you to really think about these issues for the first time in your life?

Marilyn: It’s not the first time. But I don’t like being at a school where my First Amendment rights are seriously limited. College is supposed to be an environment for free thinking and progress. I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable saying that I support gay marriage, that I’m pro-choice, and other crap like that. I shouldn’t be in fear of a sermon from a 19-year-old who grew up in conservative cow country

Molly: How often do you censor yourself in order to prevent others from noticing that you are more liberal than the average Mormon?

Marilyn: I have a small group of friends who are okay with it. I haven’t really gotten into any arguments with other people, although my roommate did the other day over gay marriage. This guy was just being an asshole and she was pissed.

Molly: So your roommate is pro-gay?

Marilyn: I think so . . . I don’t know. She was using the “hate the sin not the sinner” argument with him. So I’m not really sure if she just toned it down for him or what.

Molly: Do you think she might be pro-gay but afraid to be too open about it?

Marilyn: Yeah maybe. Her parents are super conservative too, so I think she’s in the same boat as I am.

Molly: If you were the ruler of BYU for one day, what advice would you give every student?

Marilyn: And have them actually follow it? Hmm. (Pause) I’d tell the girls to wear whatever the fuck they want and see if the campus breaks out into hell like the authorities think it will. I’d also tell the super Mormon students to sit down and talk with a super liberal person without judging them or cutting them off. Let them explain their views, because that’s something they have never heard. College is supposed to expand your mind to at least understand all views of the world.

Molly: Do you think there is an inherent conflict in a university that is controlled by one religion?

Marilyn: Yes. How can you learn in a box when the point of learning to think outside the box? There is no progress with limitations.

Molly: That was pretty deep.

Marilyn: Aww yee! Come at me smart people!

Molly: (Laughs) Okay, I’d better let you get to class. But that was brilliant. We should do this again.

Marilyn: Okie dokie!

Are you still sad the Romney/Ryan ticket lost?

Do you have fawning admiration for staunch pro-life politicians whose absolutist viewpoint on abortion successfully tricks you into thinking they have titanium backbones? Are you sad that your country’s laws won’t be influenced by men who believe that a foetus is a person with equal human rights to the human that carries it? Are you depressed that there won’t be a constitutional personhood amendment that bans all forms of abortion and many popular forms of birth control such as The Pill and IUDs, as well as In Vitro Fertilisation?

If you’re still sad about that, I’d like you to meet somebody. Her name is Savita Halappanavar:

Oh, I’m sorry. You will not be able to meet her. Savita passed away last month in Galway, Ireland, because doctors were unable to perform a life-saving abortion. They had to wait until the miscarrying foetus inside her no longer had a heartbeat before they could remove it from her body. By then she had blood poisoning and her body shut down and died over the next 24 hours. Even though this woman’s husband pleaded with doctors, reminding them that the couple were not Catholic, the law of the land imposes Catholic belief on everyone.

This is what happens when politicians insert themselves into health care decisions. No person can serve two masters, especially when that person is a medical doctor trying to observe the tenets of the Hippocratic Oath and the demands of politicians’ hypocritical laws.

So. I’ll ask again. Are you still sad that the Romney/Ryan ticket and so many anti-abortion candidates lost? Or have you finally realised that when it comes to this painfully, tragically complex personal issue, these politicians haven’t got a damn clue?

GOP: Team Rape!

I recently received an e-mail from a reader. The author didn’t specify whether or not they wished their identity to be known, so I have not included it here. If the author wishes, that person may choose to identify themselves in the comments. Here is the question:

I know you are outside the US, but one of the subjects that has been glossed over in the Presidential race is Romney’s view on rape. He states that he allows for abortion in the case of rape or incest, but has refused to illuminate the particulars, especially after Todd Aiken’s outrageous comments re:”legitimate rape”.

From my own experience in the mormondum, the church has very strict guidelines given to the bishopric and stake presidents as to what constitutes legitimate rape. The victim has to fight and has to scream loud enough to be heard. In my case, I asked (during my church court “hearing”) what if you are tied up? gagged? what if they threaten your toddler daughter sleeping in the next room?

None of that applied. And it was noted by the bishops first counselor that had I been righteous, the Lord would have taken me (I would have died) before the assault. Also, in the State of Utah, even if convicted, in the case of incest the judge has the right to waive jail time for the convicted rapist.

I believe this is a legitimate line of inquiry to ascertain Romney’s views on the subject. But I can’t get anyone to be more pointed in asking this question. Any thoughts on a post on this?

Establishing a legitimate line of inquiry on any issue related to Governor Flip-Flop is difficult due to general lack of consistency, but let’s do our best to establish the larger context here. A quick search on YouTube yielded this hall of shame of rape quotes:

These comments are so horrible that only comedy can make sense of them:

A full timeline of Republican RapeGate 2012 would fill five blog posts, so I’ve tried to pick out the most prominent events from the War on Women that have to do with rape. I hope that I can use these events to string together a narrative on why Republicans have stepped in it over and over again when it comes to rape.

January 28 – Redefining Rape

Mother Jones reports on the Republican plan to decriminalise non-forcible rape. Under proposed legislation, rape would only be really rape in cases where women struggled, screamed, or attempted to fight off their attacker. Pregnancies resulting from assaults where a woman was unable to put up a fight due to being frightened, coerced, too young, incapacitated, or disabled would no longer be considered “rape” and would not be eligible for most forms of financial assistance for an abortion.

Why would Republicans take this position?

It’s in the Bible. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 makes it clear that if a woman has sex with a man in a location where others might be able to hear her cries for help, she wasn’t raped and should be stoned to death as an adulterer. Verses 25 and 26 make it clear that if a woman is raped in a location where nobody could have heard her scream out, then only the rapist should be killed and the woman should be spared.

This is where the concept of “legitimate rape” and “forcible rape” come from. Jews and Christians who actually read the Old Testament and understand it will naturally arrive at this conclusion. Let’s repeat that: The Bible specifies that rape isn’t rape unless a woman cries out for help. Staying silent for any reason — roofies, a gun to the head, or the threat of violence to people in the next room — means it isn’t really rape.

February 16 – State Sponsored Penetration

Slate reports on a proposed Virginia law that would require women seeking abortions to receive a medically unnecessary vaginal probe whether they wanted it or not, leaving them with the choice of being sexually assaulted by their doctor or carrying an unwanted fetus to term.

Why would Virginia Republicans do this?

The Bible can shed some light once again. Women are described quite clearly as property to be managed by men. They are listed behind cattle in many cases describing property distribution, and abduction and rape was considered a legitimate means of securing a wife. Exodus 21, Numbers 31, Deuteronomy 20, Deuteronomy 21, Deuteronomy 22, 2 Samuel 12, Judges 5, and Judges 21 are just a few very clear examples of the status of women in the sight of Yahweh. Opposition to abortion is almost exclusively based on biblical-based belief. Is it surprising that people who utilise this book for their moral compass would merely reflect the callous misogyny found in its pages? These men don’t hate women. They just don’t know how to love them as full human beings.

March 6 – Women are Livestock

Georgia State Representative Terry England compares women to chickens, cows, and pigs giving birth while arguing against an exception to Georgia’s strict abortion laws that would allow women with non-viable fetuses to obtain abortions rather than carry them to term, only to result in stillbirth or instant death of the baby. The bill later passes.

Why would Republicans in Georgia do this?

Women having the status of livestock is in the Bible. Noticing a trend yet, anyone? The Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17) treats a woman as exactly the same as a man’s other pieces of property: his house, his servants, his ox, his donkey, or any other personal effects. Including his wife.

April 5 – Women are Caterpillars

GOP Chairman Reince Priebus dismisses the idea of a Republican War on Women as fictional as a “war on caterpillars.”

Why would the leader of the Republican Party say this?

We may live in a modern world where Christians heavily cherry-pick from their scripture, but there are still consequences to reading a sloppy text written by nomadic warlords and strung together by politicians thousands of years later. In the Bible, men are the prophets, lawmakers, priests, and kings. God is male and so is his son. Women are auxiliary substances to maleness. They are on the same level as real estate, livestock, and household goods. Is it really that surprising that someone who chooses the Bible as his ultimate moral guide would be influenced by its lack of serious treatment of women as full human beings?

August 19 – Legitimate Rape Can’t Cause Pregnancy

Senate candidate Todd Akin insists that “legitimate rape” cannot result in pregnancy. This implies that the 30,000+ women every year who conceive after rape must have enjoyed the attack and therefore can’t complain about the government forcing them to bear their attacker’s child.

Why would a Republican Senate Candidate say this?

This goes right back to Deuteronomy 22, where rape isn’t rape unless it’s physically forcible and the woman screams for help. Anything else, according to the Bible, isn’t really rape.

August 20 – Romney Condemns Akin

Mitt Romney calls Akin’s words “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.” Romney, Ryan, and other GOP higher-ups call for Akin to resign from the race, which he refuses to do.

Why would the Republican Presidential Candidate say this?

At the time I hoped it was because Romney, a former pro-choice candidate, was at least reasonable enough to see that comments like this are horribly offensive and political cyanide. Also, being Mormon rather than Catholic or mainstream Christian, he’s able to adhere to official LDS policy of allowing abortion in cases of rape. The fact that this reaction may have been part of an effort to get a more palatable Republican candidate in the Missouri senate race did come to my mind but I could not be sure.

Until . . .

October 23 – Rape Pregnancy is a gift from God

On October 23, Senate candidate Richard Mourdock of Indiana expressed his belief that even when conception occurs as the result of rape, it is a “Gift from God” and no abortion should be permitted. Romney, who the previous day had endorsed Mourdock with the only television commercial he has ever recorded for a fellow candidate for office, sends an aide to release a mild statement saying that he does not share Mourdock’s position, but continues to support him for office.

Why would Romney do this?

I don’t think Mitt Romney cares much about the issue of rape at all. When it was politically convenient, he spoke out against Akin. This allowed him to appear chivalrous and to help his party by trying to get rid of a toxic candidate and find a replacement before the ballot deadline. In Mourdock’s case it’s too late. Pulling support for Mourdock this late in the season would mean automatic victory for the Democrats. As usual for the wannabe CEO-in-Chief, politics take precedent over principle. Achieving the goal of the White House and Republican control of the Senate as well as the House is far more important than defending the rights of women to the GOP. That’s the business they are in. Their goal is power, not compassion. Let’s not be sentimental or hand-wringing about that reality.

So What Now?

Perhaps the GOP will continue to add to RapeGate, but hopefully they’ll adhere to the wisdom of Steven Colbert in this case.

As far as Romney goes, I believe that if elected he would continue along the Republican Party’s path of strict Biblical literalism when it comes to legislating the status of women. Romney isn’t quite the same as a Christian for the purposes of this discussion, as he adheres to additional authorities like the Book of Mormon and the President of LDS, inc. Mormonism lacks the clear-cut Canon Law that Paul Ryan can adhere to, making it harder to know exactly what he would believe. The closest thing that the organisation has is the Church Handbook of Instructions. The boring half has been made public on LDS.org, but the really good secret stuff is periodically leaked online. The most recent edition of CHI Book One contains some pretty revealing information.

Nowhere in the Church Handbook of Instructions are Priesthood authorities told that they should immediately inform civil authorities when they learn of a crime. The book simply tells them when formal versus informal religious discipline should be imposed.

In section 6.7.3 of CHI Volume one, murder and incest are mentioned. Bishops and Stake Presidents are told how to contact internal LDS Authorities regarding spiritual discipline. Nothing is mentioned about contacting police. Later on the same page, Priesthood leaders are informed that people identified as predators must have a disciplinary hearing. Once again, there is no mention of alerting proper authorities.

Section 6.10.3 informs Mormon leaders that “aggrieved victims” should be counseled internally by the Church’s own helpline. “Great care must be taken,” the passage reads, “to avoid causing further trauma, especially to a victim of physical or sexual abuse.” Ironically, the Church’s prime policy document says nothing about reporting abuse to doctors, law enforcement, or professional services for abuse victims — which greatly increases the chances of creating further trauma.

The Church Handbook of Instructions is a treasure trove of bizarre and shocking policies, but what I’ve listed here should present a broad enough picture of what the problem is when it comes to Alpha Mormon Males like Mitt Romney and the issue of sexual violence against women: there is nothing in their training or culture that would lead them to treat sexual violence as seriously as the integrity and reputation of the church. Without explicitly stating that crimes like murder, rape, and incest should be immediately reported to police, the CHI creates a web of policies that will encourage Mormon leaders to keep these issues as internal matters. This leaves children and women who have been victimized at the mercy of male lay ministers who have no professional qualifications when it comes to dealing with criminals or assisting victims.

This is why, unlike so many Republican goose-steppers, I find the story about Mitt Romney’s efforts to stop a life-saving abortion to be entirely plausible. It’s also why I find the prospect of a Romney-Ryan presidency and the possible impact on the U.S. Supreme Court’s makeup to be horrifying.

Rape is rape is rape. And rape is evil. And no woman should be forced by the government to bear the child of her attacker. And no legislator should presume to meddle in this area. How many times have we got to say it? Perhaps I’m not articulate enough on the subject. Perhaps this gentleman can help me say it more clearly:

Romney and the Book of Mormon Witnesses

US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was called out for lying when he claimed he “saw” his father march with Martin Luther King. As it turns out, he couldn’t have ever seen this happen because it never happened. But that didn’t even cause him to blush when he weasled his way out of a literal meaning of the word “saw”.

Hmmm . . .

Did Mr. Romney “see” this event with his “spiritual eyes,” a bit like how the alleged Book of Mormon witnesses “saw” the golden plates with their spiritual eyes after being forced to pray for hours and hours and coerced into signing an affidavit?

Just a thought.

Woman Win: The Story of Menstruation

Many of us have an impression that the days before the 1960’s were completely dark for women. Certainly popular culture was rife with sexism and misunderstanding about the female body, but I ran across The Story of Menstruation, commissioned by feminine product manufacturer Kotex and created by Disney, to educate women about how their own bodies work. It’s remarkably factual, sensible, and affirming regarding the reproductive system. It is a little dated; all of the girls are in skirts, but that was the norm in those days. There’s also only one brief and visual implying that marriage happens before babymaking, but seeing as that’s still the most common order things happen in, it’s hard to nit pick. This film is believed to be the first to use the word “vagina” on a screenplay, and was seen by over 100 million American students when it was released.

Among the filmstrip’s highlights:

  • A simple and scientifically accurate description of the menstrual cycle
  • An explanation that girls get their periods at different ages, and that is perfectly okay
  • An explanation that girls come in all shapes and sizes, and that is normal
  • The shattering of myths that women shouldn’t shower or exercise during menstruation
  • Sensible advice on exercise, sleep, and nutrition throughout everyday life
  • Advice on dealing with the negative side effects of the menstrual cycle, such as feeling bluesy or having digestive difficulty
  • An affirmation of a woman’s importance in perpetuating life.

If not for the caustic smiles it would surely draw from the Facebook generation, I’d recommend this video to remain in use today. I salute you, Kotex, for not only making reliable products that promote women’s health, but also for being brave enough to tell the truth in an era of misinformation.