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Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019


Top Stories This Week

1. The necessity for fathers to commit to dismantling the patriarchy;
2. Sex work decriminalization in New York;
3. Trans women’s fight against state laws blocking name changes;
4. The use of phony science to uphold transphobia;
5. How BDSM is teaching women to become more assertive;
6. What abortion access looks like in Mississippi;
7. Racist laws that take the right to vote away from prisoners.



As Fathers, We Must Commit to Dismantling the Patriarchy (Rewire.News)

Garin Marschall begins with a simple idea: “As we lurch toward a more just society, the role of fathers needs to fundamentally shift.” But the steps needed to get to such a society are complex; the “safe and sustainable communities” we want children to grow up in must reject the white patriarchal power structures so deeply entrenched in our notions of issues related to family today, from abortion to paid family leave. Marschall continues, “Disassembling the patriarchy and realizing reproductive justice may seem like long-term goals, but there are plenty of places to start today. Some of them have been framed as ‘women’s issues,’ but we have to reject any attempts to silo or sideline an issue that affects all people.” Read more.


(Stephanie Keith:The New York Times)

How the Tragic Death of Layleen Polanco Exposes Horrors of Criminalizing Sex Work (Rolling Stone)

On Friday, June 7, Layleen Polanco, a 27-year-old trans woman, was found unresponsive in a cell in Riker’s Island, where she was incarcerated for a misdemeanor prostitution charge. By 3:45 pm, she was pronounced dead. EJ Dickson writes, “Sex workers in the LGBTQ community outraged by Polanco’s death say the harsh circumstances surrounding her incarceration, combined with her poor treatment at the hands of police that led to her ending up at Rikers in the first place, are all too common for transgender sex workers of color, who are often targeted for discrimination and harassment by law enforcement officials and are subject to appalling treatment in the prison system.” Read more.


(Scott Olson:Getty Images)

Transgender Women Challenge State Laws Blocking Name Changes (Truthout)

Under Illinois law, people with criminal records are prevented from changing their legal names. Mike Ludwig discusses a particular impact of this legislation: the inaccessibility of name changes for many trans people, a disproportionately criminalized community. Ludwig writes, “Given the prevalence of felony convictions among trans people, name change barriers take a heavy toll both during and after incarceration. [...] Transgender women of color experience extremely high rates of poverty and discrimination and are often in need of government services, but they are also more likely to be criminalized and lose their right to change their name in a state like Illinois.” Read more.


(Getty Images)

Stop Using Phony Science to Justify Transphobia (Scientific American)

Simón(e) D Sun wants to debunk the “scientific” argument that many bigots use to uphold harmful, erroneous beliefs that biologically, there are two sexes. From the notion of sex to the brain to hormones, Sun asserts that notions of a supposed biological binary are rooted not in truth but in transphobia: “the science is clear and conclusive: sex is not binary, transgender people are real. It is time that we acknowledge this. Defining a person’s sex identity using decontextualized ‘facts’ is unscientific and dehumanizing. The trans experience provides essential insights into the science of sex and scientifically demonstrates that uncommon and atypical phenomena are vital for a successful living system.” Read more.


(Photo courtesy of Mistress Damiana Chi)

Mastering Life: How BDSM Is Teaching Women to Become More Assertive (Bitch Media)

Passivity tends to be more common among women than men, but Professional Dominatrix Mistress Tara Indiana has found a possible way to combat this trend: BDSM. In an interview with Margaret Andersen, Indiana elaborates, “One of the first things I teach women is how to stop apologizing. It can be a difficult behavior to alter—especially during my workshops, which often involve inflicting pain. The automatic response [when you hurt someone] is to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ However, in the context of a BDSM power exchange, what the dominant (or top) does to the submissive (or bottom) is consensual and well negotiated. This teaches women to change the social dynamics they’ve been conditioned to follow.  Read more.


(Bethany Mollenkof:The New York Times) 

What Abortion Access Looks Like in Mississippi: One Person at a Time (The New York Times Magazine)

Laurie Bertram Roberts, a Black feminist activist, runs the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund to provide financial support to people seeking abortions. But, Zoë Beery details, Roberts recognizes supporting abortion access to be about more than paying medical bills. “Many people in Jackson will not say the word ‘abortion’ in public. They prefer euphemisms, like ‘taking care of a problem’ or ‘women’s health care’ [...] Roberts has responded to this secrecy with a bullhorn. She openly helps people obtain abortions. She takes them to dinner afterward. She provides them with whatever else she thinks might help them and their families go on with their lives: birth control, books, money for groceries or child care or Christmas presents.” Read more.



Racist Laws Took the Vote Away From Prisoners. After Serving Time, One Man Is Fighting to Give It Back to Them. (Mother Jones)

In the United States, only Maine and Vermont give all of their incarcerated citizens the right to vote. As Samantha Michaels argues, this atrocious human rights violation is rooted in anti-Blackness and racism: “About 6.1 million people nationally can’t vote because of [felony disenfranchisement] laws, and about 36 percent of them are African American. According to Emily Tatro of the Council for Court Excellence, a [DC] nonprofit, who cited data from a local court services agency, about 96 percent of people convicted of felonies in DC are black.” Read more.


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