Pride started as a riot. As everyone knows (or should know by now), Pride commemorates a riot at the Stonewall Inn. A riot that lasted six whole days, and changed the course of the gay rights movement from one of assimilationism to the celebration of queerness. And two of the main leaders, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson, were Latinx and Black drag queens.
This week’s noteworthy posts and a letter to The Guardian.
I’m finding the concept of the Overton Window increasingly useful right now, as various sociopolitical ideas gain or lose ground, and debates change and morph.
The Overton window, also known as the window of discourse, describes the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton, a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who, in his description of his window, claimed that an idea’s political viability depends mainly on whether it falls within the window, rather than on politicians’ individual preferences.
I woke up this morning to the news that the Trump regime has decided to restrict the definition of gender to the gender you were assigned at birth, based on genitalia, first via LGBT history on Instagram, and then via The Guardian:
The Trump administration is attempting to strip transgender people of official recognition by creating a narrow definition of gender as being only male or female and unchangeable once determined at birth, the New York Times reported.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has undertaken an effort across several departments to establish a legal definition of sex under title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex, the Times said, citing a government memo.
That definition would be as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals a person is born with, the Times reported.
Such an interpretation would reverse the expansion of transgender rights that took place under Barack Obama.
This is horrifying and has widespread implications for transgender, nonbinary, and genderqueer people. It legitimizes the widely-held view that biological sex is an absolute binary, despite the fact that numerous scientific studies have shown that it isn’t.
The season of Halloween is fast approaching, and with it, the opening of several different silly seasons. It’s the season for racists to dress as caricatures of other ethnic groups. It’s the season for journalists to find the gothiest witches they can, and write dramatic articles about them. And it’s the season for spooky films on TV, and (gods help us all) pumpkin spice latte.
I’ve often said that Terry Pratchett was one of the greatest Pagan theologians, although he wasn’t a Pagan. In his books Small Gods, Pyramids, and the series about the witches, he often explored ideas about how gods might might come into being, and how they interact with the world. He was also, in a quiet and humorous way, a passionate advocate of thinking about things more deeply, looking beyond the surface of things, and being compassionate. (If you missed that about his writing, read it again.)
In the Tiffany Aching series, there’s a great passage about first thoughts, second thoughts, and third thoughts:
“First Thoughts are the everyday thoughts. Everyone has those. Second Thoughts are the thoughts you think about the way you think. People who enjoy thinking have those. Third Thoughts are thoughts that watch the world and think all by themselves. They’re rare, and often troublesome. Listening to them is part of witchcraft.”
― Terry Pratchett,
I don’t know how to write this in a way that will convince you if you’re an opponent of gun control. But I have to write something.
There have been eighteen mass shootings in the USA this year already, and it’s only February.
Whenever there’s a particularly awful mass shooting, I post about gun control on Facebook, and someone is sure to comment that it’s too soon to talk about gun control, or that I am politicising a tragedy, or I don’t understand because I’m British.
Yes, I do not understand the American obsession with the second amendment. I don’t understand why the right to own a gun is more important than the lives of the hundreds of thousands of victims of gun violence.
There’s always a difficult process when one group of people feels passionately that something needs to change, and another group of people feel that the status quo is just fine, usually (but not always) because they are not affected by the thing that the first group feels is in need of change.