It Can Only Get Better

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A few days ago the HuffPo posted an article on how few atheists there are in Congress right now, or rather, that there are currently public atheists in congress right now.  I’m reminded of what a patient told me one morning as they were lying in bed, “when you’re on your back, the only way to look is up.”  Just a year ago a Pew Poll was released showing “Nones”, those of us who don’t identify with any religion, make up 20% of the population as a whole, and 33% of the population under 30.  This means that out of 535 members of Congress there should be around 107 who can identify with the concerns and needs of the “none” community. (107 is 20% of 535 for those of you who don’t remember your primary school maths)

When you’re tired of just looking up, and take a moment to turn your head side to side, you see just how many of those around  us are also laying on their back, under represented by those in power who make decisions.

The same Pew Poll mentioned above found there were 3.5 million Muslims in the US, which is about 1% of the total US population, meaning there should be 5-6 Muslims in Congress, yet there is only 1 muslim in congress.  This is one more representative than we have, and it is remarkable, given the fear and bigotry surrounding Islam is even greater than that surrounding atheism.

The LGB part of the LGBT community has 6 openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual members, while the Transgendered community is still searching for representation.  Perhaps Paula Overby will change that next year, which will help yet another under represented electorate, women.  There are 98 women in Congress, yes, almost 20%, the same percentage we should expect to see of atheists, agnostics, or other non spiritual or otherwise non religiously affiliated persons.  However, as many of you are undoubtedly aware, women make up a good deal more of the population than 20%

I don’t wish to be misunderstood.  I do understand completely that not every group in America can have a proportionate representation based upon their percentage of the American population.  There are approximately 250,000 Railfans in the US, that does not mean they deserve the 1/2 a congressperson their proportional demographic is equal to be properly represented.

Beliefs, and non-belief, of religion and spirituality though are important aspects of American Culture, many people base their entire lives and morals on what they feel is divinely written, spoken, or inspired.  There are many Americans who feel the laws of the country should reflect the instructions of their particular theology, from lefty hippies invoking crystals and oneness with nature or mega church evangelicals, they believe the country and the world would be a better place if we followed their teachings

Meanwhile we have to contend with people like this who believe those of us without belief in their god are destroying this country.  He is not alone, and the Left has no right to be haughty.  The 2012 Democratic National Convention took a verbal “yea / nay” vote on whether or not to mention “God” in their party platform.  The nays won out as you can clearly hear and see in the clip below.

Why did the DNC keep the god reference in, why were they so afraid to keep god out?  My opinion is that we None’s are not vocal enough at the polls.  We don’t necessarily have to vote Democrat, Republican, or any other party, but we do have vote.  We also have to make sure our families, our communities, and our representatives know we are here, and we’re growing.

We need to come out of the closet, we need to have representation, and we need to not allow the religious to impose their religion on us with out our consent.  If we do that, it can only get better.

-Maddy

Bill Maher & the Scientific Illiterate Left

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Real Time with Bill Maher is one of the few shows I love, and can honestly say with a DVR, Xfinity OnDemand, and HBO podcasts, I never miss an episode.  Real Time brings to America something that is missing from almost every other political talk show, Real Time brings opposing views, and then allows them to talk.  It was listening to the podcasted episode from 9/13/13, which prompted this posting.

Bill Maher is an outspoken atheist, something I can really get behind, there aren’t enough people in the popular media who are willing to speak out against all religion   He is also outspoken on the anti-science policies of the conservative right such as; climate change denial, anti-evolution, and basic human sexual reproduction.  However, these are the low hanging fruit, and one would expect an atheist who is as adamantly anti-theist as Bill to speak out against these religious based ideologies.

Bill fails when it comes to issues from the left such as GMO safety, science based medicine, biology, even occasionally fossil fuels.  When it comes to these issues, he displays his scientific illiteracy proudly, making it clear he should remove the plank in his eye prior to commenting on the speck of dust in his political adversary.

Edwin Lyman, Senior Scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, was explaining the environmental hazards posed by the damaged Fukushima reactor site which is currently leaking 300 tons of radioactive water a day into the ocean.

“In my assessment the dose associated with the leakage is not an immediate biological threat at this point, but it does tell us It does tell us they [Japan] don’t have control of the site, and that’s very troubling because there is still an enormous amount of radioactive material they have to clean up over the decades”

Bill immediately responds, asking Mr. Lyman why he doesn’t think the current rate of leakage is currently posing an immediate threat.  Mr. Lyman explains how the ocean dilutes, how 300 tons of radioactive water a day diluted into the ocean will not cause seafood or swimming to be any more unsafe.  Bill isn’t having any of that:

“I don’t like that low amount theory……I disagree with lots of people in the medical field about this.  The idea that you know, a small amount of poison is okay. I don’t like any amount of poison”

Mr. Lyman agrees the scientific consensus on radiation exposure is there is no safe level, and then goes on to briefly mention fringe pseudoscience health claims regarding radiation exposure.  It is upon this point that Bill shows his hypocrisy.

“Radiation is good for you?  Who are these people, and let me guess which political party?”

Many chuckles from Bill and the audience as this is an obvious reference to the Republican party, and their proud anti-science views, especially on matters of environmental importance.  Yet Bill seems blind to what he just did, how just moments ago he made an unscientific statement, and is now lampooning the right for making unscientific statements.

This is simply one example, and I’m only picking on Bill because 1, he can take it; and 2 because he is a well known face of the Left whose opinions on science reach a large audience of political like minded people.

Other examples include:

This isn’t just Bill though, this kind of thinking is to the Left what creationism is to the Right

Unscientific thinking permeates the culture, and is embraced by the Left and when it comes to food is mainstream.  Organic, farm raised, natural fill in the blank foods are hailed as more healthy than genetically modified foods, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.  Lost on the left is understanding that everything is a chemical, including water.  Supplements, vitamins, anti-oxidants, immune system boosters, detoxification, all pseudo-science happily being pushed by the Left into mainstream, none supported by actual double blind clinic trials.

As I stated above, I love watching and listening to Real Time, however one needs to listen with a grain of salt, and remember that when it comes to allowing one’s personal beliefs to color one’s understanding and acceptance of science, Bill is no better than those he is criticizing.

David Gorski from the Science Based Medicine blog did an excellent and thorough piece on this topic back in 2009 here.  Also big thanks to the Skeptoid Podcast, and to Twitchy for links.

Atheist Questionnaire for Candidates

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Last week a questionnaire focusing on issues important to many members of the atheist community was emailed to both Representative John Kline, and his opponent Ms. Paula Overby.

A big thank you to my fellow Washingtonians at the Ask An Atheist podcast for use of their questionnaire.  Below is my email to both candidates, unfortunately only Ms. Paula Overby has responded.  I have placed her responses in bold.

My email and the responses as follows:

Thank you for your time, I know it is valuable.

Just looking for an agree or disagree for the following statements; you may of course feel free to elaborate as you see fit. All answers will be posted to the http://www.transatheistpod.com blog, and a copy of this questionnaire has being sent to Representative John Kline.

I do believe that anyone wanting to represent the citizens of our district has an obligation to respond to legitimate questions. In my experience our current representative, John Kline, screens questions, offering his own editorial in support of his own agenda. I do not consider that to be representative government.

Thank you for your inquiry.

Paula Overby

1. The planet Earth is closer to 4.7 billion years than it is to 6,000 years old.

True

2. The diversity of life on Earth is best explained through biological evolution by natural selection.

True, though the term natural selection is not precise and a simple response to this question is clearly not a thorough response.

3. Vaccinations are not responsible for childhood autism.

True. 14 studies including millions of children in several countries consistently show no significant difference in autism rates between children who got the MMR vaccine those who didn’t. The anecdotal evidence suggesting a link in no way justifies the fear that it generates about vaccines and the enormous benefits derived from vaccination.

4. Deckard was a Replicant.
I don’t know. If you are asking about Blade Runner? Yes, I’ve seen it.

5. It is very unlikely that the United States government is hiding flying saucers or alien bodies.
True. though it’s still fun to imagine.

6. Atheists and agnostics are just as capable of living happy, rewarding, and moral lives as religious believers.

That has been my experience with Atheists I have known.

7. A well-qualified candidate’s atheism would not prevent me from voting for or endorsing their candidacy.
True. Though I am Christian myself, I fully support separation of Church and state. As a participant in transgender ministries I have worked with faith leaders in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Native American spirituality.

8. I believe that a strong separation between church and the state is the best way to preserve religious liberty.

True.  It is apparent to me that the strong government intervention in religious traditions has had a very negative impact on faith communities in the United States. I find that faith communities are seeking greater autonomy and higher levels of responsibility for the values of their own communities.

9. I believe that the United States of America is not officially a Christian nation.
True. According to separation of church and state there can be no national religion. It is not even clear that Christians are a majority. It depends on widely variant definitions.

10. I would support legislation that would remove “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and restore it to its pre-1954 version.

It would not be a priority but I would certainly be willing to vote in favor of it.

11. George Lucas was mistaken to make prequels to his “Star Wars” trilogy.

Can’t really agree with this one. My son absolutely loves “Star Wars” and I love my son.

Unkind Stranger

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I tell myself its going to be easy.  I tell myself the people who don’t understand don’t matter.  I tell myself lie after lie, amazingly i know I’m lying the whole time; yet, despite that knowledge, I go out anyway.

If you normally pass, does make it easier or harder to deal with the laughter, the whispers, the stares that shift when you look?  If you know you don’t pass for one gender or the other does shouldn’t that make the heartfelt pain easier to deal with?  After all, you knew what it was going to be like before you went out, you knew those were lies you were telling yourself.

What is it about a stranger’s rejection that we find so hurtful?  Why is it a loved ones acceptance can wipe away the hurt and trauma of a stranger?

I’m not looking for answers.  I’m not here to deal with my emotional trauma the best way I know how.  I need to examine it,  try and understand exactly what it is that hurts, to question this as I do everything.

Unkind Stranger, your laughter, rejection and dehumanizing behavior will have their intended effect.  You will break my heart.  You will make it harder for me to leave my house.  You will make it harder to love and accept myself the way I should.

Unkind Stranger, you will not break me.

You will not take away the strength and solace I find in the arms of my wife.  You will not remove my will and desire to make this world a better place for generations to come.  You will not change my gender, you have however changed me.

When I come out of my house tomorrow, I will have healed, but I will not have forgiven, and I will not have forgotten.  I will remember there are others out there who don’t have a wife like mine to go home to.  Others who have no refuge from you and the Strangers like you.  Others who have no refuge from a family who treats them the way you treat them.

Unkind Stranger, there are people like me out there you have killed.  People who couldn’t handle living with your scorn, and people who couldn’t live with themselves in the manner you demanded.  Unkind Stranger, you are responsible for their destroyed lives, and for their death.

Tomorrow I will get dressed, and lie to myself.  I will tell myself its going to be easy.  I will tell myself the people who don’t understand don’t matter.  I will do it so that one day those lies will he true.  That one day you Unkind Stranger will be having to go home to the arms of a loved one, upset, angry, frustrated, miserable, depressed; because the world moved on and left you behind.

Good bye Unkind Stranger, we will meet again tomorrow.

-Maddy

Representative Democracy

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This is not a political blog or podcast, however, from time to time we will bring up relevant political information.   The following conditions, both pro and con are in my opinion fair game:

–          Implications for the Transgender community

–          Anti-Science (creationism, global warming denial, etc.)

–          Pseudo-science (alternative medicine & “quantum” mumbo jumbo)

–          LGBT friendly people running for office.

It is this last category which I wanted to mention today.

Paula Overby is running against John Kline (incumbent) for the Minnesota 2nd Congressional District, which also just happens to be my district.  Ms. Overby has stated she wishes her campaign to focus on issues rather than her gender.  While we at the Transatheist blog cannot more heartily agree, we look forward to the day when no one should have to even mention this, although it would be humorous to see certain candidates such as Rick Santorum have to continually answer questions regarding his gender and sexuality…..but that’s just me trolling.

So where do the candidates stand on the issues relevant to this blog?  Her opponent, Representative John Kline has a long voting record against the issues many of us in the Transgender community find important.  In 2007 and 2009 he voted against expansion of the Federal definition of hate crimes to include gender and sexual orientation.  In 2010 he voted against the repeal of Don’t ask / Don’t tell.  In 2012 he voted to disallow the use of federal funds to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

To be fair to Representative Kline, Ms. Overby does not have a voting record on these issues to attack; however, I am going to make a radical assumption and predict Ms. Overby’s voting would be different on all of the above.

As this campaign progresses updates will be posted here, and this campaign will definitely be discussed on an upcoming episode.  We are in the process of putting together a questionnaire of science & athiesm topics, which we will be emailing to both Representative Kline, and Ms. Overby.  We’ll post the questionnaire and responses (if any) to the blog.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ms. Overby’s positions on issues you can head to her website at Paulaoverby.com, you can follow her blog , or follow her on Twitter @PaulaMirare.  Finally you can read an interview she did with the Mintpressnews.com here .

-Maddy

Visual Bodies Photo Exhibition

My favorite of many images, someone I can identify with

My favorite of many images, someone I can identify with.

A picture is truly worth a thousand words, doubly so when its some nobody’s blog such as mine.  This photo exhibition, and the short essays that accompany it, offer a glimpse into the hearts and minds of those who too often are scorned by the ignorant.

Link to Photo Exhibition

There’s not much I can add to the essays, except to toss in my own feelings.

I can readily identify with the photo above.  There are so many days where I wonder if I truly am a transwoman, or simply genderqueer.  I don’t have a burning desire to shave, however I do wish I could dress how I wanted to in public without receiving gawks, double takes, and whispers.  I truly hope that when my grandchildren are raising their children, this issue will be dealt with the way my mom dealt with race when I grew up.  People are people, the color of their skin doesn’t matter.  People are people, their gender is their business, now mind yours.

As always, comments welcome.

-Maddy

Miley Vs. Macklemore

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Its been 4 days since Twerk was first used by someone over the age of 17 in the professional healthcare setting I work at. Yet, my coworkers are still discussing the amateur stripper dance of Miley Cyrus.

I don’t want to be misconstrued, this is a sex positive blog, and will be a sex positive podcast. What Miley does or doesn’t do with her body, and who she does or doesn’t do it with is nothing I have any plans on passing judgment on.  You will not find slut shaming on this blog.  Her performance is only worth critique in that perhaps she should’ve hired a sex worker for some instructional dancing.

What I find frustrating is a hip hop group have found mainstream success, and are not blatantly homophobic, yet this doesn’t seem to interest many. There are most likely a variety of reasons why; homophobia (especially in the hip hop community) is not forefront on the minds of most Americans; its easier to be appalled at a young woman actions when you think of how they may or may not be influencing your daughter; and the age old clichés of “kids today” “in my day girls wore clothes” etc.

Yet despite the rationalizations of why Macklemore’s performance isn’t talked about more, I still find myself wishing this was a bigger deal. Wishing that we still took a moment to look around and realize there are still over 37 states in this country where gay marriage is illegal.

I realize this is a transgender blog, and I realize the issues of the “LGB” community don’t always affect on the “T”. However equality is something we all need to stand together on. When same sex marriage is legal, then by default transgender marriage is legal, as it no longer matters to the state whether the genders listed on the marriage license are opposite.

So what does this have to do Macklemore and the VMA’s? Its a start, and hopefully its a sign of change and acceptance within the greater hip hop community. A community dominated by old stereotypes of gender roles, dominated by sexism and masculinity stereotypes that should be discarded rather than aspired to.

-Maddy

Religious condescension from the Left

In the midst of a brilliant defense of the establishment clause of the Constitution, comes some sad condescension from the Left.  While the Reverend Paul Raushenbush (@raushenbush) does agree, that incarcerated atheists shouldn’t be required to attend programs based upon religious principles, as most 12 step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.  He does then turn around and undercut that position by commenting how a good number of atheists are able to get around and deal with the “higher power”.

I don’t wish to be too hard on Paul Raushenbush, he seems to be an ally on LGBT rights (although I haven’t researched him thoroughly), and his liberal stance on theology is much more palatable than the religious right we’re so used to dealing with.  As members of the Trans community we must accept that our allies will usually come from people with religious and or spiritual beliefs, there are just more people with superstitious beliefs, than without.

This however does not mean we should let them off the hook when they are wrong.

Link to HuffPo article here

Islan Nettles

Islan Nettles

Islan Nettles was a fellow transgendered woman who was murdered by being bludgeoned by an asshole whose name I won’t mention here.  After throwing slurs and other derogatory language at Ms. Nettles, he apparently decided that his fist needed to be tossed in for good measure.

While I realize this asshole didn’t intend on killing Ms. Nettles, one cannot forget this asshole did intend on harm.  He is currently under investigation by the hate crimes division.  While I have ideological issues with things like “thought” crimes, I don’t believe it to be possible to offer a rational argument that this man was filled with hate.

Personally I hope he rots in jail for a significant portion of his life, and I hope that while in there he learns that gender roles and expectations are simply defined by the society you live in.  Your genitals don’t define your gender.

I refuse to let this man, and the people out there like him to lock me in the closet, yet I encourage anyone who reads this, stay safe.

-Maddy Love

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/23/new-york-hate-crime-transgender-woman-killed