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Archive for the ‘Gender and Sexuality’ Category

Misrepresentations of Trans Women in Media


by: Brian O’Callaghan on April 23rd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A portrait photograph of a transexual Thai woman.

The reality for many Trans people in Asia is far from utopian, but there is little of the overt discrimination and violence prevalent in other parts of the world. Historically, there has always been space for a third gender in Eastern cultures. Credit: Author.

To see more photographs from Brian O’Callaghan’s “Transitions,” visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery.

When I began photographing and interviewing Trans women in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I had to acknowledge to myself that I knew very little about the myriad of gender identities that exist. I had never really encountered positive Trans visibility until I lived in Asia. I began to see that my hetero-normative worldview was reinforced through the media and society at large. Even though I identify as an openly gay man, my notions about gender possibilities were policed. An essential lesson I learned from this project is that, there is not just one Trans story or experience. The women I interviewed wanted to share their stories in the hope of changing perceptions of what it means to be Trans.


Rewriting Religion: How Blogs Create a Modern Version for the LGBTQ Community


by: Patrick M. Johnson on April 21st, 2015 | Comments Off

The Facebook Profile page of the Gay Traditionalist Catholic Group.

Blogs and social media have made it possible for isolated and discriminated-against people of faith to safely contend with the messages they encounter within religious discourse.

When you grow up in a religious environment, it has the potential to become a large part of your identity. It should be noted here that this is not the case for all people raised within a religious household, however it has the potential to become a way to identify yourself within society, as well as to help shape and form your moral and ethical guidelines and views of the world. However, this can occasionally conflict with other aspects of your identity, particularly when one identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community.

While there are religious denominations and beliefs that are very accepting of those within the LGBTQ community — the Unitarian and Episcopalian Churches are prime examples — this is not the case with all religious beliefs. While there is sometimes an easy knee-jerk reaction to proclaim that those who identify as homosexual should just switch their beliefs to a sect that is accepting (an opinion I have seen stated in more than one discussion about this topic), that is not always desired, as the core beliefs that come along with religious convictions are not (and should not) be that easily swayed. This represents the common way this debate is usually framed (especially among non-religious individuals or among LGBTQ individuals who are religious but belong to a very accepting church, such as Unitarian), which is the question, “How can you believe in a religion that doesn’t accept or tolerate your lifestyle?” It is seen as much easier to simply find a religion that fits your life and modify your beliefs to mold to that, rather than live in a state of cognitive dissonance where you know that your life and your religious beliefs are (at least on occasion) at odds with one another.


Much Ado About Nothing – Is Religious Freedom Really Threatened by Anti-Discrimination Laws?


by: on April 18th, 2015 | Comments Off

Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi are co-founders of Reach And Teach and manage Tikkun/NSP web operations.

As we waited to check our luggage and get our boarding passes at the Charlotte NC airport we watched as couple after couple got to the counter, handed over their tickets, chatted with the agent, and then went on their way to their gates.

All seemed normal.

Then, when we stepped up to the counter, the agent looked at me and said “You, get back in line!” Pointing at my travel mate, and husband, I responded “We’re together.” She very loudly said “No. You have to come up here separately.” I responded quietly “You’ve had couple after couple come up here and check their bags and get their boarding passes.” She boomed out “You ARE NOT a couple.” “Yes, we are.” “Not in my line you’re not.” She then asked me if I wanted to travel at all that day, because if I didn’t get back in line she would make sure I didn’t fly anywhere that day.

This was around 20 years ago. Humiliated and near tears, I quietly stepped away from the counter while my husband checked his bag.


Why This Gay Jew Will Be A Liturgist in Church This Sunday


by: on April 3rd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi at their wedding in 1990. Credit: Craig Wiesner.

Twenty-five years ago, on April 8th, Palm Sunday, my husband Derrick and I were married at the First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto. This Sunday he and I will be Easter liturgists in that same sanctuary which has been our spiritual home for all of these years.

Today as the world remembers Christ on the cross and awaits the good news on Sunday, pundits like Mike Huckabee, decrying the outrage Indiana’s religious “freedom” law spawned, are claiming that folks like Derrick and I are trying to destroy the church. According to the Huffington Post, Huckabee said “It won’t stop until there are no more churches, until there are no more people who are spreading the Gospel [...] and I’m talking now about the unabridged, unapologetic Gospel that is really God’s truth.”

No sir. The unabridged, unapologetic Gospel of the Jewish carpenter, executed because he dared to speak out against injustice and stood up for the poor, rings loudly in thousands of churches across this country. It is a message of love, hope, redemption, and absolute acceptance, with doors flung wide open proclaiming that all are welcome, and cursed be the one who puts up a stumbling block to the children trying to reach him.


A World of Violence: On Women Who Refused to Live in Silence and Be Consigned to Oblivion


by: Eduardo Galeano on April 2nd, 2015 | Comments Off

A butterfly perched on top of a leaf with sunlight shining through.

Credit: CreativeCommons / Paulo Brandao.

The following passages are excerpted from Eduardo Galeano’s book Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History, just out in paperback (Nation Books) as crossposted from TomDispatch.com.

The Shoe
(January 15)

In 1919 Rosa Luxemburg, the revolutionary, was murdered in Berlin.

Her killers bludgeoned her with rifle blows and tossed her into the waters of a canal.

Along the way, she lost a shoe.

Some hand picked it up, that shoe dropped in the mud.

Rosa longed for a world where justice would not be sacrificed in the name of freedom, nor freedom sacrificed in the name of justice.

Every day, some hand picks up that banner.

Dropped in the mud, like the shoe.


Professor Tyrone Howard Speaking on Racial Justice in U.S. Education


by: Silver Scharlach on April 1st, 2015 | Comments Off

Let’s all take a moment to reflect on Women’s History Month, thanking the men in our lives who do make the effort to support our struggles against patriarchal oppression. This is my thank you to one of my personal heroes for doing just that.

I had the fortune today of listening to Tyrone Howard speak at the Diablo Valley College campus. This UCLA Professor discussed racial justice in the U.S. educational system–who has it, who does not, and what we can do about it.


Questions of Masculinity in Force Majeure


by: Ethan J. Leib on March 24th, 2015 | 5 Comments »

A traffic sign suggesting for men to hold women's hands as they cross the street.

The film Force Majeure forces us to examine exactly what masculine stereotypes we are trying to abolish, and why. Credit: CreativeCommons / Keoni Cabral.

As a legal scholar, I can tell you that the legal term “force majeure” usually refers to acts of God – earthquakes, hurricanes, and avalanches – that serve to relieve parties’ performance obligations in a contract. In a cleverly-titled film that should have been an Oscar contender this year – Force Majeure by Ruben Ӧstlund, now available for streaming on Netflix – the avalanche never really occurs and the performance obligations of masculinity are never really relieved. The film depicts a man who fails to live up to conventional expectations of manliness in the face of a threatened “act of God” but shows us something potentially more embarrassing still: that the command to be a man may itself be a literal force majeure; a superior force, emerging from the force of desire. Modern feminism has been slow to recognize that an unreconstructed female libido that reinforces male performances of masculinity threatens to stand in the way of a full and robust sexual equality.

Force Majeure presents us with the discomfiting challenge that the quest for sex equality – the commitment to unwind patterns of patriarchy and have a society that values men and women equally – may require much more than futzing at the margins of our laws. Instead, it may require rewiring libidinal urges. This isn’t quite like trying to undo a natural law but it may be a clawing away at the foundations of life in marriage and monogamy. The movie helps us see that marriage as an institution and women themselves are invested in performances of masculinity. This doesn’t mean we can remain resigned to material inequality caused by patterns of male domination. But it may mean that we need to have more uncomfortable conversations about the deep ways the desire for masculinity – by women, in particular – continues to structure male performances of masculinity. This structure of desire keeps us living in a gender conformist world that prescribes scripts feminists say they are eager to cast aside.


Florida Proposes “Stand Outside My Loo” Law


by: on March 20th, 2015 | Comments Off

A sign for a unisex bathroom.

Florida is proposing a law that would impose criminal penalties on those who knowingly enter restrooms of a sex not designated on their birth certificates, implicitly discriminating against transgender citizens. Credit: CreativeCommons / Matthew Rutledge.

Florida, one of the states known for its infamous so-called “stand your ground” law (“justifiable use of force” law), has now proposed standing its patriarchal ground once again, this time in its “Single Sex Facilities” (what I am calling its “Stand Out of My Loo”) law. If passed by the state legislature, CS/HB 583 would impose criminal penalties on persons who knowingly enter restrooms of a sex not designated on their birth certificates.

Sponsors of this clearly discriminatory bill designed it specifically to ban trans* people from using restrooms that most closely align with their gender identities. Legislators see the writing on the bathroom walls signaling the establishment of gender inclusive restroom facilities throughout the nation, which have existed in a number of nations around the world for decades.

Some may refer to these spaces as “gender neutral,” though “gender inclusive” has become the preferred terminology to describe a space – most notably restrooms and floors in college and university dormitories and in many businesses – denoting a cite of inclusion welcoming individuals of all genders and gender identities and expressions. The terminology “gender neutral” overlooks the actual hierarchal power dynamics among genders, and the implications on the lived experiences of virtually everyone in our society.


Farmworker Women Speaking Up on Domestic Violence


by: Brenda Rincon on March 9th, 2015 | Comments Off

(Crossposted from New America Media)

Editor’s Note: This article was produced as part of the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Names have been changed in this story for the protection of the victim.

Latino farmworkers picking tomatoes in a field.

Female farmworkers are arguably the most reluctant victims to report domestic abuse, not least because they (and their abusers) are often undocumented immigrants.

Alicia Montes was only 16 when she fell in love with Juan Alvarez in the courtyard of the trailer park where she lived with her father and siblings.

“I was abandoned as a child by my mother, and I was looking for the love of a parent,” she says in Spanish. “I thought I loved him, but now I see I did not.”

At the time, Montes could not imagine that charming young man would come to shove, choke, and kick her as he did throughout their 15-year relationship.

Montes, now 33, is one of an unknown number of victims of domestic violence in the Eastern Coachella Valley – a largely impoverished agricultural community with approximately 56,000 residents, about 20 miles east of Palm Springs -and one of the few to report her abuser to authorities.


Fifty Shades of Jihad


by: on February 23rd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A Muslim woman walking on a bridge.

What do 50 Shades of Grey and jihad have in common? Masculine violence and hatred against women, argues Roger Gottlieb. Credit: Creative Commons / FaceMePLS

Fifty Shades of Grey and Jihad. Any similarity? Of course not. One is a phenomenally successful, poorly written, vaguely pornographic novel that follows the tried and true formula of romance novels: powerful, gorgeous, got-it-all man falls for shy, immature, hiddenly attractive, and mildly spunky woman. He dominates her; she reforms him. They (and their assorted whips and handcuffs) live happily ever after.

The second is the horror of ISIS beheading and burning and slaughtering innocent victims; a range of killings from Paris to Denmark to Montreal. People possessed by an insane lust for violence in the service of a literal and infinitely intolerant interpretation of a monotheistic text and tradition. Women as chattel or worse.