Trans characters in the first big video games of 2017

Trans characters in the first big video games of 2017

Laura Dale, writing at Polygon:

The past month of AAA video game releases might be the most interesting I have ever experienced as a trans woman, meaning someone who was designated male at birth but is now living as female. While far from perfect in execution, I can point out three trans characters in three separate AAA video games released in the past four weeks. That’s pretty unbelievable.

I’ve been playing Zero Dawn with my wife and it’s a truly remarkable game. I wish I hadn’t missed the trans character’s introduction, but now that Dale points it out it does seem like a respectful, if imperfect, attempt to include a trans person in Aloy’s world.

The perils of marriage equality

The perils of marriage equality

Professor Kimberly Mutcherson of Rutgers Law School writes at Concurring Opinions about Professor Katherine Franke’s recent book ‘Wedlocked: the Perils of Marriage Equality’:

We do not want to reinforce familial hierarchies by forcing people into specific family arrangements in order to warrant recognition (2 parents only), nor do we want to fetishize outsider families such that those who do not fit that model are denigrated for their choices (i.e., the adoptive parents who choose a closed adoption or the birth mother who opts for such an adoption thus perhaps not being queer enough in their choices). In thinking about the ways in which reproductive justice calls for us to respect the right to have a child, not have a child, or parent that child in a safe and healthy environment, the upshot for me is that the reproductive justice paradigm does not demand that outsider families conform to some particular form in order to help dismantle hierarchy.

I have thought about this concern since undergrad, where postcolonial literature, feminism and even semiotics courses touched on the nature of othering as an active verb, something done to a group of people. I was lucky enough to take a course in law school called Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and the Law with Professor Leonore F. Carpenter which expanded my understanding and interest in the dynamics of queer identity, family and legal frameworks.

The specific concern with which I’ve been preoccupied since then is that there is a danger in radical acceptance or the success of various equality movements. The danger I see is in achieving a nominal or “seat at the table” equality that normalizes othered groups to the frameworks of the groups that have historically done the othering.

One infuriating example of how I think about this stuff is the so-called equality of separate-but-equal, which of course was not equality at all. In the case of race, equality is not allowing non-white people to do all the stuff white people are allowed to do, but allowing non-white people to do whatever it is non-white people want to do, which is really what has always been allowed to white Americans.

I see Professors Franke and Mutcherson making a similar point about the danger of seeing marriage equality as squeezing queer couples and families into 1) heteronormative cis-gendered and/or culturally/racially segregated family models or 2) altogether new models, sometimes developed by hand-wavingly obnoxious if well-intentioned hetero-cis folks. Maybe I’m mistaken, but the overall approach as I see it being explained by these two scholars is essentially to stop putting up new roads and signs for queer families and just get the hell out of the way.

Read Mutcherson’s entire post, it’s worth it. And I’ve added “Wedlocked’ to my Kindle wishlist, which is growing faster than I can keep up.

Israeli Supreme Court Rejects Family Petition To Bury Trans Woman As Their “Son”

Israeli Supreme Court Rejects Family Petition To Bury Trans Woman As Their “Son”

Peleg, who was 31, had long been concerned about a battle with her ultra-orthodox family after her death. Their beliefs forbid cremation, and she worried they would attempt to have a religious burial under her male name. Peleg paid for her own cremation in March 2014 at the one funeral home in Jerusalem that performs the service, and filed a will with an attorney a day before her suicide and asked that he fight for her wishes if her family attempted to interfere.

This is heartening. No one should be driven to suicide by discrimination against who they are, but the ultimate insult is ignorance of one’s post-death wishes, because when are we more vulnerable than in death?

Missouri Teenagers Protest a Transgender Student’s Use of the Girls’ Bathroom

Missouri Teenagers Protest a Transgender Student’s Use of the Girls’ Bathroom

I can’t blame the students for protesting. Kids can be cruel, and kind of dumb. I certainly was.

But parents and attorneys like Derrick Good display a shameful vacuity in couching their bigotry in terms like “physical privacy.”

Karen Workman quotes one such parent:

“My goal is for the district and parents to have a policy discussion,” said Derrick Good, a lawyer who has two daughters in the district and wants students to use either facilities based on their biological sex or other gender-neutral facilities.

Requiring the teen in question, Lila Perry, to use the men’s room is no different than requiring Mr. Good’s daughters to use the men’s room. The absurdity of Good’s position is that it presumes Lila is a male pretending that she is a female so she can infiltrate Mr. Good’s daughters’ physical privacy in the ladies’ room.

And the twisted aspect of this circumstance is that Good’s “fight” for that privacy has obliterated Lila’s own physical privacy by turning her gender dysmorphia, with which she appears to have otherwise been coping rather well, into a national news story and an indictment of her morals.

This isn’t the first time the Christian advocacy group with which Good worked have used the plight of a child to their benefit. The hilariously named “Alliance Defending Freedom” compared “threats to its freedom,” which, hilariously, it claims are “multiplying,” to the death of a small boy on its Who We Are page.

It’s not impossible though for such people to change their minds. Consider the father of D.W. Trantham, speaking in a story about parents pulling a child out of D.W.’s school after the school allowed her to choose which bathroom she would use:

Her father Tim believes people getting mad over transgender bathroom choice is a red herring. He thinks most people are just uncomfortable or scared of what they don’t understand.

Tim admits he used to be the same way.

“I was some of those people myself at one point in my life,” Tim said. “I didn’t understand what transgender was or the issues involved.”

Ms. Perry is not discouraged:

She said she knows of other, younger transgender students in the district and wants to open a dialogue so they have a better high school experience.

Years of data suggest that between 30 percent and 50 percent of transgender people attempt suicide at least once.1 There is a mountain of data since then, and the Wikipedia article on suicide among LGBT youth is a good starting point if you’re interested in further research.

My point it that as a former Catholic of about 18 years I’m certain it’s rather unChristian to consciously exacerbate what is already a difficult process for transgender youth.

Image is the transgender pride flag


  1. “Preventing Suicide among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning Youth and Young Adults” (PDF). Retrieved 2015-09-02. 

Philly diner’s SCOTUS-inspired brunch menu following same-sex marriage ruling

Philly diner’s SCOTUS-inspired brunch menu following same-sex marriage ruling

Oh Philadelphia, how I miss you sometimes. Danya Henninger writes at Billy Penn:

Over the weekend, Sam’s Morning Glory Diner ran a pair of specials that sold out faster than any dish in the South Philly restaurant’s 17-year history. It wasn’t the ingredients that made them a hit — although they were reportedly delicious — it was their titles, which referenced the Supreme Court’s historic June 26 ruling that the right to same-sex marriage is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

I’m not going to tell you here, so go read Henninger’s article. The menu items are, appropriately, glorious. And the best part? The owner of the Morning Glory, who approved the names before they went on the menu, is a lawyer.

“Super-cuts” from same-sex marriage arguments

“Super-cuts” from same-sex marriage arguments

SCOTUSBlog contributor Tejinder Singh posted 36 minutes of audio highlights from yesterday’s oral argument in Obergefell v. Hodges. The case is one of several on the Court’s docket this term focused on two specific constitutional questions:

  1. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
  2. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

I’ve embedded the super-cut below but if you’re really interested in getting a first-hand sense of how the Justices feel you can find audio of the full oral argument (more than two hours, split into two files) at Oyez. I’ll have more to say about the arguments after I’ve had the chance to listen to them in their entirety.

Public domain photograph of the Roberts Court via Wikipedia

Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous

Tim Cook: Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous

Tim Cook, in an op-ed at the Washington Post:

Our message, to people around the country and around the world, is this: Apple is open. Open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. Regardless of what the law might allow in Indiana or Arkansas, we will never tolerate discrimination.

I admire the visible positions Cook is taking on more and more issues these days.

Gay marriage begins in Alabama

Gay marriage begins in Alabama