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Election 2012 resources for American voters

‘Tis the season to head to the polls, but voting isn’t as easy as just showing up. So, if you are casting a ballot, check out these resources:

Verify your voter registration status, where to vote and what sort of identification is required to cast a ballot at

Many states allow early voting. Check with your local elections office for requirements, times and locations. You can also apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot. Military service members and other U.S. citizens living abroad may also vote this way. lists important deadlines, dates and election information by state.

The American Civil Liberties Union lists voting rights by state.

Many states have recently passed voter fraud protection laws that disproportionally suppress the vote of people of color, students, people in poverty and senior citizens. The Congressional Black Caucus lists resources and strategies for overcoming these restrictions.

For voters with disabilities, the Brennan Center for Justice created an in-depth guide to potential voting accessibility issues and Nonprofit Vote lists information on voting with disabilities by state.

All states except Maine and Vermont somehow restrict the voting rights of prisoners, ex-cons, felons, and/or misdemeanor offenders. Check your state’s restrictions at

Brush up on the basics of America’s election process by reading Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government. The guide is meant for younger audiences, but it’s chock full of easy to understand information for people of all ages. compiles voting guides by state from different organizations, including unions, political parties and nonprofits. Also check with your favorite nonprofits, political organizations and publications for the issues and candidates they support.

Voters can type in their address on to easily find information on candidates and ballot initiatives. The website, created by League of Women Voters, generates a virtual copy of your ballot with candidate information, including endorsements, biography, opinions on issues and the candidate’s website.

Check a politician’s voting history while in office at

The National Center for Transgender Equality created an intersectional guide to overcoming voting obstacles that addresses identification issues for transgender people, as well as other possible problems that could arise on election day.

The Veteran’s Party of America breaks down homeless voting registration policies for each state, and the National Coalition for the Homeless created a comprehensive homeless voter’s rights guide.

If your right to vote is refused or if any other issue arises while voting, contact Election Protection, a nonpartisan organization devoted to providing access to voters.

View election results on your state’s secretary of state website, your local board of elections website, or your favorite local news outlet.

Source: Stuff Queer People Need To Know 

You know, just listening to some conservative politicians argue the benefits of LGBT, tribal and undocumented immigrant inclusion in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.But for real though, get it together. 
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You know, just listening to some conservative politicians argue the benefits of LGBT, tribal and undocumented immigrant inclusion in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.

But for real though, get it together. 

istealforksfromrestaurants reblogged your photo: What’s The T? chronicles the experiences of Ms. Ma…

Hey I went and saw this over the weekend and lemme tell you what, it was fucking awesome. I am kind of bummed out that the run was so short. It will be running this weekend in Pilsen and you should really go see it it. I totally had to make myself not cry and everything. 

ellenbee reblogged your photoWhat’s The T? chronicles the experiences of Ms. Ma…

yup, i’m going, and i’m crying

The play is absolutely amazing. Everyone did a great job. I went to it not expecting much, and I was absolutely blown away. I’m so proud of everyone involved and the support they’ve been receiving. And they most definitely need some encore performances.

What’s The T? chronicles the experiences of Ms. Ma as a transgender woman of color who creates community and an activist uproar all while spreading the word about queer safe spaces with her YouTube videos. The audience follows Ms. Ma through her entanglements with other queers offering an honest take on life for many of Chicago’s queer youth.

But Ms. Ma and her friends are never portrayed as victims. They are empowered. The audience never feels sorry for them. There is no savior. These youths help each other out, create safe spaces for each other, and overcome adversity with a spring in their step all while exposing the true ugliness they face from their community that has discarded them. It empowers their stories, and that is groundbreaking.

Read the full review of What’s The T? on Stuff Queer People Need To Know.

I should be doing work, but I’m staring at my computer daydreaming about babes instead. And taking photos of myself to try and get over taking photos of myself.
My dad’s apparently reading my blog again. He’s really proud of the NATO protest photos I published. At least that’s what I was told.
I blogged today. And I have a bunch of other blogs lined up for this week. And I have to finish up a bunch of freelance work to finish up before I head out of town for Netroots Nation.
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I should be doing work, but I’m staring at my computer daydreaming about babes instead. And taking photos of myself to try and get over taking photos of myself.

My dad’s apparently reading my blog again. He’s really proud of the NATO protest photos I published. At least that’s what I was told.

I blogged today. And I have a bunch of other blogs lined up for this week. And I have to finish up a bunch of freelance work to finish up before I head out of town for Netroots Nation.

Things you should know before you date a writer

The whole professional writer thing is the only game I have. To an unsuspecting potential mate, I’m just like every other unremarkable femme with long dark hair and glasses in the bar. But when they ask me what I do with my time and I reply with, “I’m a writer, editor, poetess and photojournalist, who runs one of the top 100 LGBT blogs in the world,” they melt.

I understand wanting to fuck a writer. Or date one. I can’t blame you. We’re alluring. We’re elusive. We’re romantic. We’re witty. But you really need to know what you’re getting into.

We have no money. We writers pour our hearts into soul-sucking work for next to nothing. That means we’re always going Dutch.

We can’t help it. I’ve always been a storyteller. As a child, I wrote plays for each holiday and made my sister act them out with me, each year dusting off the script from the year before and editing it to perfection. My sister and I also played radio, putting on flamboyant personalities, coming up with catchphrases and interviewing each other on a tape recorder in between taping songs off the radio. I even created a family newspaper when my parents bought a computer, toying with fonts and adding photos to my stories, forcing my mom and dad to write me letters to the editor. I’ve always had a compulsion for communication. I just can’t turn it off.

Sometimes I have a flash of inspiration and I have to handle it then and there. I’ll apologize now for flaking on you or for taking a break from whatever we’re doing to jot some stuff down. (See the above note about not being able to help it.) If I’m in the mood to write, I have to take advantage of it, especially when I force myself to write for pay all the time. Hell, I wrote one of my best poems half drunk waiting on the train while fumbling to roll a cigarette in anger. You just never know when it’ll strike.

You’ll probably see yourself reflected in the work. If you’re dating a writer and they don’t write about you—whether it’s good or bad—then they don’t love you. They just don’t. Writers fall in love with the people we find inspiring. If you don’t set my pen on fire, how are you going to set my bed on fire?

You can find out more than you’ve ever wanted to know about us on the internet. Seriously. Google me.

Writers are dramatic and often gossipy. No matter what type of writer someone is, we all love hearing other people’s stories and we all love telling them. We’re also prone to dramatic episodes and operate in hyperbole. We’ll never admit how dramatic we are, but expect nothing less than improbable plot twists and extreme character development when recounting our trips to the grocery store.

Writers are crazy. And I don’t mean crazy in the way people throw the word at anyone we disagree with, I actually mean mentally unstable. We’re often misunderstood and deeply troubled. We have to be at least a little bit unhinged, or we wouldn’t be any good at what we do or be able to survive in this line of work. Really, who wants to read something a boring sane person wrote, anyway? Not me.

We’re actually not cool at all. I know, it may seem cool to earn money from writing, but it’s not. It’s just what we do. I do not lead a glamorous life. Writing is mentally taxing labor—albeit conducted while in sweatpants on my couch and surrounded by cats—but labor just the same. And we almost never see the sun. Seriously. Take us on a midday stroll or something. We probably need a break from staring at those two paragraphs we were working on all morning.

All writers need a good editor, but that editor is probably not you. We may ask for your opinion on our work, but unless you’ve won a Pulitzer or something, we’re gonna get pissed if you’re critical of our lifeblood. This works in reverse, too. I’ve had lovers ask me to review their work, only to balk when I rip it to shreds. What did you expect? People pay me to edit their work. If you don’t actually want my professional opinion, don’t ask for it.

Writers are pompous assholes who drink. A lot. Mainly whiskey. Lots and lots of whiskey. In fact, most of us should just be paid in whiskey. I could just cut out the middleman, be it the bartender who has memorized my order or the guy who knows my name at the liquor store around the corner.

We keep irregular schedules at best. One day I’ll have three 1,000-word pieces due and a feature to fact check that I’ll work on until 4 a.m., and the next day I’ll start drinking with friends at 3 p.m. in a park. (Just because I don’t have a job I go to, doesn’t mean I’m not busy.)

Originally posted at In Our Words.

(Source: glitterfarm)

Navigating updated TSA policies for transgender people and sexual assault survivors

While the Transportation Security Administration has implemented new policies revolving body scanner and patdown airport security screenings, many people weary of traveling, especially transgender people and survivors of sexual assault

The advanced imaging technology scanners—used to detect prohibited items including weapons, explosives and other metallic and non-metallic threat items concealed under layers of clothing without physical contact—previously created a detailed image like this one:

Photo: Screen capture of the TSA body scans, which is a nearly nude person with weapons concealed on their clothing. Photo source: Google Images

The scanner image leave little to the imagination. While the TSA maintains the images do not show faces and are deleted, there have been reports of scanner images leaked online. And blurring faces does not mean the photos are anonymous, as scars, tattoos and other body modifications can identify a photo.

Newly implemented software would create an image like the one below, with a generic outline of a person, locating on the body potential threat items, weapons or anomalies:

Photo: A screen capture of the TSA's body image software, with a  generic body outline, front and back. Photo source: Google Images

But the new scanners require screeners to select a male or female gender for the passenger based on the passenger’s gender presentation, which is potentially problematic for transgender passengers. When asked if a transgender woman with a penis was scanned as female, “the reality is, an anomaly will come up if the individual appears to be female–is female–and has parts that may not be expected, additional screening will be necessary,” said Stephanie Stoltzfus, a representative of the TSA Office of Civil Rights and Liberties, External Compliance and Public Outreach Division, while unveiling the new software.

“Let’s say [a TSA agent] hits the blue button, [indicating male],” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, to ”There’s three kinds of people for whom they might hit the blue button, all of whom the TSA agent perceives to be male. And the person might be the person who has stereotypical genitalia, a normal-sized penis and testicles. But the person might be somebody who has disproportionate, or unexpectedly large genitalia; or unexpectedly small, or no genitalia.”

Passengers whose bodies don’t conform to a TSA agent’s expectations of their perceived or stated gender—whether those expectations are encoded in a device or the human mind—become targets of suspicion, and can be targeted for further security screenings and patdowns.

If a person opts out of the body scan, they will be subject to pat-downs in which TSA agents touch a passengers inner thighs, as well as between and below breasts.

In its body scanner FAQs, NCTE offers these travel tips:

  • Travelers should make sure the gender provided when they book their flight matches the gender designation on the government-issued ID they bring to the airport. TSA travel document checkers will check to ensure that information on your ID matches your boarding pass; it does not matter whether your current gender presentation matches the gender marker on your ID or your presentation in your ID photo, and TSA officers should not comment on this.
  • Both travelers and TSA personnel have the right to be treated with dignity, discretion and respect. If you encounter any issues, politely ask to speak to a supervisor immediately. Remain polite. Do not raise your voice or threaten TSA staff; this only results in additional delays.
  • You have the right to opt out of a full-body scan in favor of a manual pat-down. It is your choice.
  • You have the right to choose whether a pat-down is conducted in the public screening area or in a private area, and, if in a private area, whether to be accompanied by a travel companion.
  • You have the right to have manual search procedures performed by an officer who is of the same gender as the gender you are currently presenting. This does not depend on the gender listed on your ID, or on any other factor. If TSA officials are unsure who should pat you down, ask to speak to a supervisor and calmly insist on the appropriate officer.
  • Transgender people should never be required to lift, remove or raise an article of clothing to reveal a prosthetic item and should not be asked to remove it. This applies to items such as breast forms and packers.
  • You should not be subjected to additional screening or inquiry because of any discrepancy between a gender marker on an ID and your appearance. As long as your ID has a recognizable picture of you on it, with your legal name and birth date, it should not cause any problem.
  • Foreign objects under clothing, such as binding, packing or prosthetic devices, may show up as unknown or unusual images on a body scan or patdown, which may lead TSA personnel to do additional screening.  This does not mean that you cannot fly with these items, but you may be forced to undergo further screening. Be prepared to explain what these items are or check them in your luggage so that you can minimize scrutiny and delays.
  • Items containing liquid, gel or powder substances will trigger additional security screenings; therefore, we strongly recommend you pack these items in your checked luggage or leave them at home.
  • Wigs or hairpieces may require additional screening if they are bulky or not form-fitting. If you have gone through a metal detector or body scanner and TSA personnel want to do additional screening of a wig or hairpiece, you may request that a patdown be limited to your hairpiece or that you be permitted to pat the area down yourself and have your hands swiped for chemical residue.
  • If you are carrying medically prescribed items, such as syringes for hormone injections or vaginal dilators, it is very helpful to have proof of the medical necessity of the item. Ask your doctor for a letter stating that he or she has prescribed the item, or keep medical devices in their pharmacy packaging that includes a prescription label. Be prepared to briefly explain the purpose of the item if asked.

Additionally, many aspects of airport security can further traumatize a sexual assault survivor. According to Newsweek:

“After a sexual assault, it seems that many survivors have difficulty having their bodies touched by other people,” says Shannon Lambert, founder of the Pandora Project, a nonprofit organization that provides support and information to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. This fear of contact even extends to partners and, often, medical professionals. “A lot of survivors do not want to be in positions where they’re vulnerable. They put up defenses so that they can be in control of their body. In cases like this, it seems like some of that control is going away.”

If that sense of control is violated, it can lead to more than hurt feelings. There’s a physical reaction associated with a triggering incident, and the response can vary from person to person.

“We’ve had a number of survivors who have had their pictures taken and put online,” as part of a sexual assault, says Lambert. “So for them, even though [the TSA photo is] deleted, even if the person is in the other room, the idea that the photo’s being taken can be difficult to handle.”

If taking to the skies is the only travel option, Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Servicesrecommends survivors familiarize themselves with TSA security procedures to help avoid a potentially triggering incident.

Passengers may opt to communicate sensitive personal or medical matters on a standardized notification card created by the TSA. While this card does not exempt anyone from security screenings, it serves as a means to discretely inform agents about a passenger’s situation. The Pandora Project has created cards like these specifically for survivors of sexual assault to use in potentially triggering situations.

The TSA policies regarding body scanners and pat-downs leave travelers with few options. Unfortunately, if there is no travel alternative to flying, passengers must weigh the options and decide what makes them feel least uncomfortable and unsafe.

If you dislike the new security policies or a TSA agent acts inappropriately while screening you, contact the TSA and/or the American Civil Liberties Union to file a complaint.

UPDATE: Need to report harassment by a TSA agent? There’s even app for that.

Originally posted on Stuff Queer People Need To Know.

(Source: glitterfarm)

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