Jonathan Chait, previously a senior editor at The New Republic and currently a writer at New York magazine, spent a great amount of words last week espousing the virtues of freedom, liberty, and being able to say what you want. The New Republic is seen as something of an institution in journalism, though not without its problems, problems which have been discussed critically and ardently by prominent members of the journalism community, including The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates. In December, the magazine suffered losses as many staffers resigned in response to a change in editorial direction. Chait was among those who resigned.
Now on solid ground at New York, Chait once a voice on the front lines liberalism at his old post, is using his new footing to push back on the criticism he and his colleagues received as editors at The New Republic. Chait’s missive is a challenge to liberal culture’s need for so-called political correctness.
A female student reported a sign of a harassing nature. Upon further investigation, it was determined the communication was not to be directed in a harassing manner.
—Swarthmore College campus police blotter, 9/21/13
The paperback version of Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men: And the Rise of Woman came out this month, with a new epilogue, adapted for an article on Slate, that muses further on the peculiar role-reversal the author sees the genders currently undergoing. Rosin has accumulated a host of evidence to support her view that males have become obsolete–from the dearth of men on college campuses to the explosion in female-headed single-parent households. Yet when she appears at book events, she says, there’s an inevitable moment when a woman in the audience starts sniping about “the patriarchy.”
PPL Corporation, a Fortune 500 company based in Allentown (about an hour’s drive from Philly), has added gender identity to its non-discrimination policy this week. PPL’s Chairman and CEO William Spence said he was inspired to rethink the policy in October when he was attending the 10th anniversary gala for PPL’s gay and lesbian employee resource group (GLOW). It was at that event that Adrian Shanker, Equality Pennsylvania‘s president, was delivering a keynote.
“This change is very significant, and it is yet another reminder that equal rights for the LGBT community are common sense,” says Shanker. “I hope our legislators soon catch up with the public as well as those who overwhelmingly believe that non-discrimination in the workplace is good policy.”
In a big step for transgender rights, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has removed being transgender as a mental illness. Rather than being labeled as mentally unfit, transgender individuals will now be diagnosed with something called gender dysphoria – which suggests emotional stress when it comes to gender identity. This is a major change from when gender identity disorder was listed as a mental disorder 20 years ago.
In an interview with The Advocate, APA’s Jack Drescher said, “All psychiatric diagnoses occur within a cultural context. We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize.”
So rather than to suggest that somehow gender identity can be treated, if not cured, the new classification will ideally bring more acceptance. In the legal world, it could also have positive implications as many transgender individuals risk losing their jobs and children when the case is made for mental incompetence.
Keep in mind that homosexuality was also considered a mental illness up until 1973.
Suits, slacks and flats punctuate this model’s look. But Casey Legler may not be what you expect – she’s a female model who’s been showing off menswear at one of the top agencies in the world. Time recently profiled the six-foot-two-inch cover girl, where she discussed her bid as an Olympic swimmer back in the day (shaved head and all) and why she tends to steer away from terms like “gender identity.”
When she was just four years old, she was scolded for wearing “girly” clothes. “In kindergarten,” she says, “I was often removed from the girls play zone and placed among the boys ‘where I belonged.’ The world around me constantly told me I was a boy, not a girl.” It would be years before the little boy named Leslie from Middletown, New Jersey, would become Tammyrae Larissa Barr, a woman who—after 18 years of being a husband and a father to two sons—came out as transgender. “I knew I was different,” she says, “but I did not have the language or the words—or a reason—as to why I was so different.”
The understanding was complicated by the physical transformations that characterize every journey from childhood into adolescence. “I tried to fit myself into a box and rationalized that I couldn’t be a woman because I had ‘boy parts,’” she says. But long before acceptance, Barr—like many transgender youth—faced years of bullying, rejection and even violence. “A bully one day picked up a large rock and smashed my head,” she remembers. “I was left on the side of the road” at 11 years old.
“It’s all about role-playing, isn’t it?” says William Way spokesperson Paul Blore. At least that’s the inspiration for the one-night-only Queer Fear Cabaret (Oct. 26). And headlining the Halloween-themed eventis Mx. Justin Vivian Bond, a trans-identified chanteuse and performance artist from New York City. Bond is internationally known for playing Kiki in the performance art piece Kiki and Herb. Bond was nominated for a Tony Award for Kiki and Herb Alive On Broadway in 2007, a show that had previewed at Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater just a year earlier. You may also remember Bond’s memorable turn in John Cameron Mitchell’s flick Shortbus.
Opening this very special cabaret night will be the Bearded Ladies, a Philly group that experiments with cabaret to tackle the politics of popular culture, sex, gender and art. “The Bearded Ladies play with and challenge gender roles frequently,” says Blore. “and Mx. Justin Vivian Bond does, too. We all play roles in our everyday lives.”
As Gender Reel opens tomorrow (Sept. 7), the only multimedia festival focused on gender identity in the arts on the East Coast, we wanted to share some highlights from the second annual event. Not only have we named it the “best film festival” in G Philly’s “Best of Gay Philly,”but this year’s roundup proves us right with more than 20 films in addition to photography exhibits, live performances, panels and workshops through the weekend.
“The festival has grown in a number of ways, including expanding our venue location to the William Way Community Center, adding more performance art to the mix and offering more hands on art and film workshops to our patrons,” says Joe Ippolito, the founder and chair of Gender Reel. “I am happy to report that Gender Reel does exactly what we envisioned it doing when we came up with the idea in November 2010 in that it is providing a safe, supportive and empowering place where Gnc/TG people can display their multi-media art work.”
Here’s what you don’t want to miss (all events are taking place at William Way unless otherwise noted):