Conversion therapy: kill it with fire.


Feel like exercising your constitutional right (while it lasts…) to click links? GOOD!

Click on over to Freethought Resistance, then click the link to CREDO* Action’s petition to Congress to ban conversion therapy. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA33), sponsor of the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act, says of the legislation:

It says it is fraud if you treat someone for a condition that doesn’t exist and there’s no medical condition known as being gay. LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for. And by calling this what it should be, which is fraud, it would effectively shut down most of the organizations.

As a California state senator in 2012, Rep. Lieu was also instrumental in enacting a similar law, the first of its kind in the nation. Just last month, the California law withstood a final appeal to the US Supreme Court based on a “religious freedom” argument. In the wake of the high court’s rejection, there is some momentum on which to capitalize here: the national legislation has been referred to committee in both the House and Senate.

Come on, you godless heathens! You know you enjoy trampling the “religious freedom” of bigoted fraudulent assholes at least as much as I do. Get your click on.

*CREDO Mobile is a lefty activist mobile company: every month it allocates a portion of its revenue to various activist non-profits, as voted and allocated by its customers. (CREDO is, for example, Planned Parenthood’s largest corporate donor.) Consider switching to CREDO as your mobile carrier, and stop funding anti-democratic donors like AT&T that fund conservatives. They offer a lot of the same deals on phones, contract buyouts, incentives, fees, etc.

I’m becoming an Irish pagan!

OMFG you guys! I cannot help but think that I have found among the Irish pagans the place where I truly belong!

When I read the email exchanges posted by Pagan Federation Ireland on their Facebook page, I shouted hallelujah! (<-It’s a relic of my xtian upbringing. Obviously, I will have to learn what my new fellow Irish pagans are supposed to shout in similar situations.)

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The invisible victims of Trumpism.


[CONTENT NOTE: harassment, abuse, assault.]

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the various online accounts (like this one) of violence, harassment, assault and abuse, after the worst elements of our society were emboldened by the election of perhaps the most despicable human being I have known of in my lifetime. Not all of these stories make it to a hashtag much less a news story, and I have a sickening feeling there are orders of magnitude more of them that don’t than do. Here is one from a dear friend of mine, posted here with permission (names and other identifying details have been altered):

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Fucking hell, people.

[CONTENT NOTE: Orlando mass shooting and related issues; rape; mental health. No violent images or graphic descriptions.]

I was quite literally rendered speechless upon learning of the tragedy in Orlando Sunday morning. I cannot say I was surprised, though; mass public shootings in the US have been increasing, and it’s no secret that conservatives have been cranking up the hate against the LGBTQ community (just as they have against women, immigrants, religious minorities, the poor, the disabled, etc., and of course none of this is a coincidence). But I did (and do) feel traumatized—as in anxious, dissociating, difficulty concentrating, overwhelming sadness and anger, waking through the night with my heart pounding, super fun stuff like that. For an artist and writer who uses art and writing to process life and the world around her, such a state is nothing short of devastating. (<-See? Dissociating. I just referred to myself in the third person for no fucking reason FFS.)

I don’t write a lot about my personal life online, for many reasons I won’t go into here. But in this case some of that is relevant, and I think perhaps worth sharing.

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Sorry gay people! You don’t get to go to crappy cartoon paradise!

This video produced by Jehovah’s Witnesses has been making the rounds in my feeds, and I finally watched it this morning. Pink News has a partial transcript, but the gist of it is a little girl gets coached by her mom to tell her friend that God does not approve of her same-sex parents’ lifestyle, nosiree, not one bit, and he will not let them play in his sandbox if they don’t straighten up. (Geddit? Straighten up? Hahaha I crack myself up.)

There is much to mock here of course, but also much to fear. This is indoctrination into bullying for the elementary school set which, if the roles and messaging were reversed, would have the religious right screaming about persecution. (And for once they might actually have a point.) No child deserves to be told that her parents are going to burn in a lake of fire forever for the unspeakable crime of loving each other and raising a family together. And in a nod to widely-discredited and dangerous “conversion therapy,” mom tells the kid, “People can change. That’s why we share his message.”


The most heartbreaking part of it is that the little girl has it exactly right when she tells her mom, “Carrie drew two mommies. She told me they’re married to each other. My teacher says that all that matters is that people love each other and that they’re happy.”

But mom’s not having any of that. And neither is the ultimate bully, Jehovah. Mom says:

“People have their own ideas about what is right and wrong – but what matters is how Jehovah feels. He wants us to be happy and he knows how we can be happiest. That’s why he invented marriage the way he did.”


Christ, what a shitshow. Anyway, let’s just focus for a minute on this paradise we’re all supposed to want to get into. With a truly bizarre metaphor, mom compares entering heaven to…getting on an airplane. If you’ve ever flown coach on American, I’m sure you’ll grok the irony here. Worse: in this scenario a gay partner is forbidden cargo, and Jehovah is the TSA? Or something?

MOM: It’s kind of like going on an airplane – what would happen if someone wanted to bring something on the plane that wasn’t allowed?

KID: They can’t go on the trip!

MOM: Right! It’s the same with Jehovah! He wants us to be his friend, and live in paradise forever, but we have to follow his standards to get there…To get there we have to leave some things behind – that means anything Jehovah doesn’t approve of.

The cartoon d00d looks at his (super gay!) bag, twice, before unceremoniously ditching it and dashing through the heavenly purple metal detector.


Leave your gay “baggage” behind—and enter hay fever paradise.

I wouldn’t want to share an elevator ride with these insufferable assholes, much less eternity.


Just your regular reminder (on the remote chance there’s no Wifi in the afterlife): if you’re looking for me, I’ll see you in hell. 2nd circle, VIP section.

I approve this mockery.


IMAGE: Sunset at Waterrock Knob
© Robert Ludlow, North Carolina photographer
(Used with permission. All rights reserved.)

As readers here know, the stunningly beautiful state of North Carolina recently enacted an egregious law that voids and prohibits any and all anti-discrimination statutes enacted by local municipalities to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, among others. The law also prohibits local anti-discrimination statutes and/or state law remedies for discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, ethnicity and religion. And since this was not nearly enough doucheweaselry to pack into a single bill introduced in an “emergency session” and passed into law 11 hours and 10 minutes later, it went even further: with respect to public-sector contractors, HB2 also prohibits local municipalities from enacting laws concerning minimum wages, health insurance standards, family leave policies, child welfare protections and the number of consecutive hours an employee is required to work without a break. I mean that is impressive people, amirite?

The most notorious provision of HB2 is the one requiring people to use restrooms corresponding to their assigned gender at birth. Putting aside (for the purposes of this particular rant) its significant implications for those of nonbinary genders, HB2 means, among other things, that these people must now use restrooms designated “WOMEN”:


And these people must now use restrooms designated “MEN.”


What could possibly go wrong?

It was heartening to see immediate backlash to HB2, including powerful companies like PayPal, Apple, IBM, Wal-Mart, the NFL, the NBA and American Airlines pressing for repeal, the governor of New York banning state-funded travel to North Carolina, and Bruce Springsteen canceling his concert in Greensboro. One of my favorite protests is web porn giant refusing service to IP addresses in the state. XHamster spokesperson Mike Kulich noted:

“We have spent the last 50 years fighting for equality for everyone and these laws are discriminatory which does not tolerate,” he said in an official statement sent to The Huffington Post. “Judging by the stats of what you North Carolinians watch, we feel this punishment is a severe one…Back in March, we had 400,000 hits for the term ‘Transsexual’ from North Carolina alone,” he said. “People from that state searched ‘Gay’ 319,907 times,” he added.

Hahaha. Awesome.

Predictably, the law’s proponents tied themselves in knots blaming everyone but themselves for the pushback.

[Republican Lt. Gov. Dan] Forest charged that PayPal didn’t “see the worth of our children,” while [Gov.] McCrory blamed his Democratic rival for governor, Attorney General Roy Cooper.

This kind of comic absurdity is to be expected, because conservatives are pathologically averse to ever admitting being wrong about anything, except in those instances when they have regrets about not being terrible enough. This unfortunate propensity underlies the mother of all conservative logical fallacies: “Conservatism can never fail. It can only be failed by weak-minded souls who refuse to properly follow its tenets.”

And, as usual with conservative policies, the bathroom provisions of HB2 have no basis in reality whatsoever. As in, zero.

Media Matters‘ Luke Brinker and Carlos Maza wrote an in-depth report of the widely circulated narrative that trans people are predators, and how this myth is used to justify hate crimes against trans people. In fact, in most criminal courts, a defendant can legally use their fear of transgender people as their defense for assaulting or killing them. The results of Brinker and Maza’s survey of 15 “law enforcement officials, government employees and advocates for victims of sexual assault” from 12 states yielded no incidents of trans people harassing or assaulting cisgender people in public restrooms. They declared “the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women’s restrooms is a lie, plain and simple.”

Also from Media Matters:


Unsurprisingly, it is not hard to find conservative North Carolinians defending the law nonetheless, and displaying the characteristic conservative aversion to reality. A specimen observed in the wild by Charlotte’s News & Observer is illustrative:

Deborah Thompson, who owns the Simply NC gift shop in downtown Clinton (North Carolina), says she finds the bathroom debate to be a “very confusing issue.”

“A lot of people don’t understand what the whole transgender thing is,” she said.

Gosh, then perhaps one ought to educate oneself before supporting draconian policies that put people in danger? Just a suggestion, Deborah!

Thompson says the safety concern has been at the front of her mind as she’s considered the issue. “On the side of safety, I approve of what the governor did,” she said…

…thereby proving that neither she nor the governor have the first fucking clue what they are talking about. Unless by “safety concern” what they mean is “adversely affecting the safety of trans people.” NAH COULD NEVER BE THAT. But back to Deborah:

Thompson is among a small number of business owners who are willing to publicly support House Bill 2. The Keep N.C. Safe Coalition says that nearly 400 business owners have signed its petition in favor of the law, but only 65 of them agreed to have their names listed.

“Due to vocal threats and bullying from the LGBT community, some business owners feared for the well-being of their business and families,” the group said in a news release.

BZZZT. Uh no, Deborah. See, pointing out bigotry, being justifiably angry about bigotry being codified into state law, and boycotting businesses owned by proud and unrepentant shitspigots is not “bullying.” Bullying (and worse) is what transgender people experience at the hands of people like you, Deborah. PLEASE DO TRY TO KEEP UP.

Thompson said the reluctance to speak out is common. “Too many times, Christians and conservatives, we stay too quiet,” she said.


Of course I would be remiss if I did not point out that a bathroom bill banning Republican lawmakers from public restrooms makes a whole lot more sense than HB2, given that at least three Republican lawmakers have actually been arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms. Compared to, you know, ZERO TRANSGENDER PEOPLE in places with anti-discrimination statutes on the books. (And I cannot help but think that quite a few more Republican lawmakers may have been caught, but were never arrested for some mysterious reason.)

There are two serious obstacles to fixing any of this: (1) conservative lawmakers generally cannot be enlightened or persuaded by facts (see above re: never wrong about anything), and (2) they harbor very little empathy for fellow citizens who are not exactly like them. Indeed, the only thing likely to flip their position is a serious, direct threat to their own self-interest—such as, say, a credible election opponent arising in the wake of big businesses pulling out of the state en masse. They will never take responsibility for the initial damage they caused, but sometimes, when their fragile egos are at stake, they can occasionally be forced to do the right thing.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that none of us here are CEOs of businesses with large operations in North Carolina. So what can we do? We can point fingers at the culprits, pile on the mockery and laugh, that’s what.

Please allow me to recommend this superb exercise in exactly that, from a news outlet in the small town (pop. 900) of Oriental, North Carolina.

Bathroom Re-opens With On Duty Compliance Officer
Gender Identity Assured Thanks To New State Funding
April 15, 2016

After being closed since late March, Oriental’s public restroom is again open. The town has been able to hire a certified Gender Compliance Officer.

Located by the harbor near the new Town Dock, Oriental’s public bathroom opened to great acclaim in December. However, the Town was forced to quickly shutter the facility when the NC legislature passed HB2 on March 26. NC Law HB2 mandates that “users of public restrooms use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.” Without a way to check birth certificates, bathroom use had to be shut down, or the town was vulnerable to a stiff $10,000 daily Gender Non-Compliance fine.

That’s all been solved. At a Tuesday news conference Governor McCrory has announced the GCF (Gender Compliance Fund), a 6 million dollar program providing revenue for communities to hire Gender Compliance Officers.

Oriental Town Hall officials wasted no time. Oriental’s GCF funding allowed for the hiring of one Gender Compliance Officer. The town tapped Kim Daniels, whose pharmaceutical background provided the required knowledge base. Thursday at 8am the public restroom re-opened with GCO Daniels on duty.


Compliance Officer Kim Daniels awaits at the base of the restroom stairs.

You should probably just go read the whole thing—but here are a few more highlights.


Mr. D. Mauney submits to manual Gender authentication.

While manual authentication may seem harsh just to use a public restroom, Governor McCrory wants all NC citizens to know “that we’re all in this together.” McCrory states “every member of my staff, including myself, has been manually authenticated to insure the veracity of the process.”


North Carolina Governor McCrory being authenticated.


Major kudos to the anonymous mocker(s). I don’t know how any of them kept straight faces long enough to pose for all those pics outside of the town’s restrooms—I’d have laughed until I peed myself and, ironically enough, would no longer need any restroom at all.

You know what? A lot of bathrooms in NYC are accessible to any and all humans with a biological need to relieve themselves. Some have multiple private stalls with sinks in them, others have private stalls with communal sink areas. I have never felt unsafe in any of these spaces. Quite the contrary, actually: in my experience it seems that men—and let’s face it, that is precisely what these bathroom bills are about: men—are generally better behaved when other members of the public are visible and within earshot.

Why unisex bathrooms are not universally adopted is beyond me. But if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s because THEY HATE US FOR OUR FREEDOM.


By the way, North Carolina’s HB2 passed with an able assist from 11 conservative Democrats Squirrel People.

[h/t SJ]

I ♥︎ NY.

Following in the footsteps of some very powerful companies—including Apple, IBM, Wal-Mart, the NFL, the NBA and American Airlines—that are pressuring the state of North Carolina to repeal its evil law that forbids anti-discrimination statutes that protect LGBT people in any way, and bans trans people from using restrooms appropriate for their gender identities, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is piling on:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed an executive order banning all non-essential state travel to North Carolina. The order requires all New York State agencies, departments, boards and commissions to immediately review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of North Carolina, and bar any such publicly funded travel that is not essential to the enforcement of state law or public health and safety.

The ban, which takes effect immediately, follows North Carolina’s enactment of a law which bars transgender individuals from using restrooms appropriate for their gender identities, excludes sexual orientation and gender identity from state anti-discrimination protections, and prohibits municipalities from extending those protections to LGBT citizens.

“In New York, we believe that all people – regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation – deserve the same rights and protections under the law,” said Governor Cuomo. “From Stonewall to marriage equality, our state has been a beacon of hope and equality for the LGBT community, and we will not stand idly by as misguided legislation replicates the discrimination of the past. As long as there is a law in North Carolina that creates the grounds for discrimination against LGBT people, I am barring non-essential state travel to that state.”

In 2015, Governor Cuomo banned non-essential state travel to the state of Indiana after that state’s legislature passed a controversial religious freedom measure that did not prohibit discrimination against LGBT citizens. The Indiana measure was later amended to prevent it from being used to discriminate against LGBT residents and travelers in Indiana, and that travel ban was lifted.

The text of the executive order can be read here.

More than 80 tech company CEOs—including those from Facebook, Lyft, Google, Dropbox, and Tumblr—sent an open letter (pdf) yesterday to North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory, urging repeal. And the state’s Attorney General—a Democrat who is running for governor—says he will refuse to defend the law against court challenges, calling it “a national embarrassment.”

Apparently North Carolina legislators have nothing as urgent and pressing to deal with in the state than panty-sniffing, bathroom policing and sticking it to The Gays, since they hastily convened a special session last Wednesday just to introduce and pass the law. The House passed HB 2 on a vote of 83-25; the Senate passed it 32-0, “after Senate Democrats walked out in protest of the bill.” Gov. Pat McCrory signed it the same night, leaving opponents no time to organize and oppose it. Gosh, I wonder if that was intentional?

My Amazing Lover™ just canceled his long-planned trip to North Carolina this weekend, citing the law as responsible “in no small part” for his decision. I ♥︎ him too.

And I ♥︎ this d00d:


Picture of masculine-appearing trans man James P Sheffield tweeting: “@PatMcCroryNC It’s now the law for me to share a restroom with your wife.

Jeezus, I am FEELING THE LOVE today, people! I may not even start drinking until after noon!

♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎

My hope is that LGBT people in North Carolina (and everywhere else) are feeling some of that love, too.

This law will not stand.

[cross-posted at Death to Squirrels.]

URGENT: Signal boosting.

[CONTENT NOTE: descriptions of anti-gay violence and horrific injuries; no graphic images here, but there are at the Washington Post and Go Fund Me links.]

Via my brilliant, brave and amazing friend Niki (who has a fantastic new blog at The Orbit that you should definitely check out) comes a story so fucking sad and enraging I am having tremendous difficulty writing about it. I’m shaking while I type. Also, my screen looks very blurry—there must be a lot of dust up in here.

A month ago, [Marquez] Tolbert, 21, and his boyfriend Anthony Gooden Jr., 23, were jolted out of sleep by the feeling of boiling water splashing across their torsos, faces and limbs. Gooden’s mother’s boyfriend, Martin Blackwell, stood over them, pouring the water, they say.

For a moment, Tolbert had no idea what could have provoked the alleged attack. Then Blackwell allegedly yanked him off the mattress and yelled, “Get out of my house with all that gay,” Tolbert recalled to WSBTV.

It was not Blackwell’s apartment. He didn’t even live there.

According to an incident report from the College Park Police Department, Blackwell told police that he was angry at the sight of the two men together.

“They were stuck together like two hot dogs … so I poured a little hot water on them and help them out,” he said to police, according to the incident report. “… They’ll be alright. It was just a little hot water.”

No, you monstrous fucking asshole, this was not “a little hot water” and no, these men will never be all right.

Now, Tolbert and Gooden are in the agonizing process of recovering from their second and third degree burns. Tolbert spent 10 days in the hospital undergoing surgery to repair the skin on his back. Gooden was hospitalized for five weeks, according to Project Q Atlanta.

[Tolbert] must now wear compression garments 23 hours a day for the next two years…and is attending weekly counseling and physical therapy sessions to deal with his emotional and physical scars. It’s difficult for him to go outside, because sunlight exacerbates the pain of his burns.

He told WSBTV “The pain doesn’t let you sleep. It’s excruciating, 24 hours a day. It doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t dial down. It’s just there.”

Gooden, who was burned even more severely, was in a medically-induced coma for several weeks…more than 60 percent of his body was burned, and he had to undergo skin graft surgery to repair damage to his face, neck, back, arms, chest and head.

Does that sound “all right” to you?

Recovery from second and third degree burns is a very long, difficult, painful (both physically and emotionally), expensive journey. There are Go Fund Me accounts set up for both of these men (REMINDER: graphic images of the men’s injuries at these links). Please, please donate whatever you can afford to give, and/or share this story far and wide.

I can only formulate two observations at the moment.

First, just yesterday, before I heard this story, I was commiserating with PZ over at Pharyngula that yes indeed, people really suck.

PZ nails exactly why I cannot identify as a humanist. Humans as a species are fucking terrible. Call it misanthropy, call it whatever you want, but I see it as an observable, evidence-based fact. And I don’t assume intentional malice to conclude this.

That said, I love and care deeply about many, many actual humans. And this may sound…odd? But giving up hope for us as a species has actually been liberating for me in a positive way. It helped me prioritize finding and spreading joy in the here-and-now, and doing what I can to ease the suffering of sentient beings while I’m alive. (Ironically, such efforts can have the side effect of giving other people hope.)

IOW, Martin Blackwell is Exhibit No. 7,409,586,791 in support of the motion that humans are truly fucking terrible.

The second thing is that Anthony Gooden Jr. and Marquez Tolbert are Exhibit Nos. 9,147,452,372,921 and 9,147,452,372,922, respectively, in support of the motion that the United States needs single payer healthcare RIGHT FUCKING NOW GODDAMMIT THE END. (Yes I’m glaring at you, Hillary Clinton.)