The Real Faces of Those You Fear

Western Wayne School Board members AJ Gaudenzi and Roger Shaffer Jr have posted that the teenager in the rainbow swim suit using the high school boys room – and the teen in the bikini using the girls room – would cause chaos. They have vowed to turn away all Federal funding for the district as an acceptable penalty, and are prepared to spend taxpayer money to defend their crusade. The hate and bigotry has to end. There’s no place in modern America for institutional discrimination.

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If You Can’t Outrun a Tranny, Hold Up an Angry Sign

Meet 17-year-old Jane Doe. She was born John Doe, but has spent the last dozen years of her life identifying as a female. As is typical with transgender kids, Jane is from a non-abusive home, has no criminal record nor any addictions, ranked in the top-10 of her class, is a stand-out athlete, and will be attending an elite university this fall. The only psychological scars Jane carries have come from students and teachers who’ve bullied her. Plain and simple, she would have had a typical school experience if not for the people who found her objectionable.

The worst moment for Jane came when parents of a track teammate attended a meet with a sign that read “NO BOYS ON GIRLS TEAMS”. It’s an easy sign to hold, really, considering 80% of people hold a similar sentiment. But the tyranny of the majority worries that Thomas Jefferson wrote about are for another discussion. It’s still amazing that our Founding Fathers foresaw the need for the Bill of Rights to make certain that the minorities of our society would not be prayed upon by the majority. Anyway …

Jane is not big or muscular, but she is fast in her three events. And it’s rather astonishing that she received All-Conference recognition considering the discrimination she faced on a daily basis. Multiple teachers in her high school career called her names such as freak and fagboy. Adult, professional educators. In one class, she regularly received C’s and D’s on subjectively graded papers, while acing every test, and eventually graduating with a weighted final GPA over 100. It was a class in which she overheard the teacher refer to Jane as the “chick with a dick.” She quietly filed away her C papers and ran miles and miles on the track.

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On the PIAA.org website’s sportsmanship page is highlighted this quote: “Sportsmanship is probably the clearest and most popular expression of morals. Sportsmanship is a thing of the spirit. It is timeless and endless, and we should strive to make it universal to all races, creeds, and walks of life.” – The Discovery of Morals

That motto sits well with the Olympic Creed: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

High school sports are crucial in developing positive self-esteem and a connection to the school and community, as well as a deterrent to the use of alcohol, drugs, and other unhealthy activities. Ensuring that all students have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of school sports experiences complements the academic mission of schools.

There are four major concerns when it comes to transgender girls playing on girls teams.

* Transgender girls are really male despite their affirmed gender identity as a girl.
* Non-transgender boys will pretend to be girls to win championships or get more playing time on girls teams.
* Transgender girls pose a safety risk for non-transgender girls in some sports such as basketball or field hockey.
* Transgender girls have a competitive advantage over non-transgender girls.

It is important for policy-makers to understand that transgender girls are not boys. Their gender identity as girls is as deep-seated as the gender identity of non-transgender girls. The belief that transgender girls are not “real” girls is sometimes expressed as a concern that allowing transgender girls to compete on girls teams displaces opportunities for “real” girls.

The fear that non-transgender boys will pretend to be girls in order to dominate girls teams has never been an issue at any level of sport. Well-developed policies require that students who identify as transgender demonstrate a consistent female gender identity in everyday life verified by parents or health-care professionals. This requirement eliminates the unlikely situation where a boy pretends to be a girl in order to play on a girls team.

Some coaches and parents express concerns that allowing transgender girls to participate on girls teams will pose a safety risk for non-transgender girls. This concern is based on an assumption that transgender girls are bigger, stronger and unable to exercise adequate body control, resulting in an increased risk of injury to other participants. Though there are generalized differences in post-pubescent male and female bodies, there are also large overlaps in height, weight and strength among biological boys and girls. Moreover, taller, bigger, stronger athletes compete against shorter, smaller, less strong athletes every day in girls and boys sports, except in sports such as wrestling, where competition is organized solely by weight.

Concern about maintaining competitive equity is the most often expressed reservations about transgender girls competing on girls teams. As with safety concerns, several assumptions are embedded in this issue: That transgender girls are always more skilled, stronger and bigger than their non-transgender teammates and opponents. There is no research to support the contention that enabling a transgender girl to play on a girls team creates a competitive imbalance. In reality, the overlap in skill and performance in sports among biological males and females and the wide variance within each gender group are important considerations to remember in addressing concerns about competitive equity. Concerns about competitive equity also perpetuate a gender stereotype that assumes that anyone with a male body will outperform anyone with a female body. As girls and women take advantage of increased opportunities to participate in sports, performance gaps between girls and boys have decreased.

High school athletics programs are part of a broad educational curriculum, and the focus should be on enabling participation – not restricting it – for all students. Adopting well-informed and inclusive policies for the participation of transgender athletes according to their affirmed gender identity is consistent with the educational values of equity and fairness for all students.

It is estimated that 3 in 1000 people identify as transgender. Out of those three student-athletes, there will occasionally arise a special person like Jane Doe, who has overcome the bullying, hatred, and institutionalized discrimination in order to run fast. How will you deal with it?

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I want to fully credit Pat Griffin, Professor Emerita in Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an educator and advocate for the inclusion of LGBTQ students in college and interscholastic athletics, for her inspiration, words, and guidance in compiling this blog post.

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Varden Conservation Area, quick but steep tour

I took Amy for a hike on the trails I jog at VCA every other day. This is the shortest but steepest option that begins on Wildcat Trail (across from the WW Middle School), turns left on Wood Tower Trail, bends right onto Whitetail Trail, becomes Tannery Trail, turns right on Tall Timber Trail, then exits in reverse on Wood Tower Trail. It’s a 25ish minute jog, or a 50 minute hike in which you lose and then gain 200ft of elevation.

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Here’s a no-frills photo tour from start to finish:

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A letter to the Western Wayne School District President

Dear Mr. Olsommer,

I am a Western Wayne School District resident seeking information on behalf of two students who contacted me electronically to ask that I approach you on their behalf. I have never to my knowledge met the teenage students, but friends of my daughter confirmed their identity. Both were too fearful to attend a School Board meeting, or even to write you directly, which was my initial advice to them.

The students want to confirm they are free to use the restroom and locker room that matches the gender to which they identify. While they have no current wish to use facilities not matching the sex on their birth certificates, they want to know if they will face punishment if they do. To be clear, a student who has a birth certificate that indicates the child is female, self-identifies as a boy, and would like to confirm that he is free to use the boys’ facilities at Western Wayne High School. Also, a student who has a birth certificate that indicates the child is male, self-identifies as a girl, and would like to confirm that she is free to use the girls’ facilities at Western Wayne High School.

These kids were upset that School Board members AJ Gaudenzi and Roger Shaffer Jr. posted on Facebook that they would seek to block Western Wayne School District’s compliance with the newest Title IX mandate. Both students have also asked me to reach out to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania for guidance, which I have done. My involvement is solely because their parents are not supportive, and I could not turn them away after they shared their stories of being bullied at school.

Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,
Cole Alpaugh
Salem Township, PA

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Bernie?

Sometimes you gotta say “What the Fuck”, make your move.

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Senior photos

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Some things for your senior think about: what places are especially important to her. They can be anything from a backyard garden or pool, to a grandparent’s farm, to a high school field. It’s best to decide on a minimum of three locations, although one of them can be my little favorite outdoor space here in The Hideout (there’s a stream and boulders, etc). Also, she’ll need to pack a suitcase – it’ll help if you have a spacious rear seat and a sheet for changing (I strongly recommend a mom, sibling, or best friend be present to help). Six or seven changes are common, even for senior boys. And don’t forget the shoes.

Again, the most critical part in making these HER unique session are the locations. Sit down with a her and a pad and pen at the kitchen table. Props: absolutely bring props. Athletic gear, musical instruments, stuffed animals (live pets, too). Buy her a small bouquet or cut some wildflowers from your backyard. Six or seven props are common. Also, I need her to finish this sentence: “My favorite thing about me is my … ”

Senior pics take from three to four hours to come up with 400-600 raw photo choices. I like to take advantage of late day sun, so depending on locations, they happen over a two day period about half the time. So have a sit-down with your senior, decide on locations and outfits, and we’ll see if we can set a date(s).

The session is $199. Travel beyond your house is 50 cents per mile. You receive 400-600 images on a CD/DVD, at least 12 are Photoshopped for blemishes, and a variety of special effects are used at my discretion (these include Splash and HDR). You’ll own the full copyright to all images and therefore are free to print them, post them, or upload to a commercial printer such as Yorkphoto.com to get the wholesale price on images (it takes out the middleman fee for you – currently, 8x10s are just $2.99). My guarantee is that you’ll love them, or hand the discs back for a full refund. I don’t want anyone to ever not say ‘wow’. Western Wayne seniors/parents can contact me for an invitation to view prior senior albums on Flickr, where photos remain private and unsearchable to the public.

Oh, and, 100% of the proceeds from my senior shoots fund soccer programs for kids in Haiti.

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Soccer Balls for Haitian Orphans Campaign

Here’s the GoFundMe link to kick a few bucks toward a really awesome cause. Thank you!

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Is Caitlyn Jenner a hero?

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Here’s the reason some otherwise very kind and open-minded people have it wrong about Bruce Jenner. And I only use her former name instead of Caitlyn to be sure they know who I’m writing about. But let’s first find something we agree about: America is a great nation, the land of freedom and opportunity. Now we might diverge when I say it hasn’t always been that way.

We spit on soldiers returning from a nightmare war into which they were drafted.

We turned dogs on people only because of their skin color.

We did not allow women to vote.

We arrested people of the same sex for consummating their love.

The list is pretty long, and there are people like Louis Farrakhan who will happily extend it indefinitely.

So I’ll continue with my four examples, and ask you what we’ve done to correct what most Americans have come to see as grievous wrongs. Recent Presidents have awarded posthumous Medals of Honor to soldiers’ families. We have channeled billions of dollars into education and inner city programs. We passed the 19th Amendment to our Constitution. Laws have been changed and the US Supreme Court has spoken about same-sex marriage.

It took Presidents, the SCOTUS, vast treasure, and changes to our founding document to BEGIN to right some of our country’s historical wrongs.

So what do we do with people whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender? We’ve beaten the tar out of them in grade school. We pissed on them in the gym shower. We refused to hire them and we failed to protect them from crime. We tried to make them commit suicide, just like we did all the fags and dykes in high school. Often we were more like Adolph Hitler than, well, Adolph Hitler.

But America is a great nation, and the land of the free. We are imperfect, but we keep trying to fix things. America is great because it wants to get things right.

Naming Caitlyn Jenner a HERO is not a slap in the face of our nation’s veterans. Those men and women are still heroes. America is simply trying to fix a wrong. We treated transgender people like “coloreds” and “slant-eyes” and “queers” and “baby killers” since we first discovered they had the audacity to lurk among us. This has been a moment for a bit of hyperbole in order to grab the Adolphs of this great land, shake them hard, and say “knock it off.” You don’t have to marry Caitlyn Jenner, you just need to quit pissing on her, because there are countless more generations of transgendered kids yet to come into this world, and they have one crucial trait that matches everyone else: they are human beings. Caitlyn Jenner is a hero because future generations needed someone as badly as we all needed Rosa Parks not to give up her seat. It’s that simple. Jenner said here I am, and Parks said no I won’t.

This is America. A great nation, the land of freedom and opportunity. We just need some polishing from time to time.

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Necessary Fiction review of Dash

A friend messaged me with a link to a new review at Necessary Fiction earlier tonight. ‘Nuff said …

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