Bi-Weekly Sexual Freedom Newsletter

Wednesday October 31st, 2018


The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is the only national human rights organization working full time to protect the fundamental human right to sexual freedom. Our work includes fighting sexual violence, eliminating discrimination based on gender or sexual identity or family form, and protecting the right to engage in consensual sexual activity and expression. We do this through advocacy, education, and coalition building.  

Every other Wednesday, our bi-weekly newsletter aggregates seven articles central to Woodhull's mission and work. This week, the newsletter covers the following topics:

  • Critical issues and races in the upcoming midterm elections;
  • The Trump administration's work to impose a narrow definition of gender;
  • Attempts to deport an abuse victim;
  • Self-managed early abortion care;
  • Finding joy and power in being trans;
  • The pride in being a middle-aged sex worker;
  • ​One woman's perspective on what solidarity for survivors of sexual assault looks like.

(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Most Important Election of Our Lives (Mother Jones)

While elections are always important, the upcoming midterm elections on Tuesday, November 6 are crucial, as they hold the potential to challenge the Trump administration's power. David Corn writes, "The most recent election ushered in not only a president who has pushed an extreme policy agenda—handing out huge tax breaks to the well-to-do, reversing climate change action, engaging in trade wars, assaulting the social safety net, nominating die-hard conservative judges, and undermining health care protections—but one who adopted an erratic and destabilizing approach to, well, everything. It created a political crisis, because Donald Trump has waged a war on norms of governance, the rule of law, productive discourse, and the media, as he has set a record for uttering false statements, overseen a regime riddled with corruption, given comfort to racists, misogynists, and wacko conspiracy theorists, and displayed a disturbing affinity for autocracy." Read more. (For a list of Senate races to watch by The New York Times, click here. To view election forecasts by FiveThirtyEight, click here. And if you are able, please VOTE!)


(Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Right-Wing Fantasies About Gender Are Killing Trans People (Truthout)

On October 28, The New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services may strip trans people of official recognition by narrowly defining gender as sex defined at birth. Trans scholar-activist Dean Spade, known for his work on trans politics and the U.S. legal system, responds to this recent iteration of longstanding anti-trans discrimination and violence. Spade writes, "The Health and Human Services memo leak is aligned with a broader patriarchal and authoritarian ideology about enforcing a gendered worldview that constrains everyone, especially those most touched by state systems that target and control the lives of poor people and people of color. This new move dovetails with the administration's work to embolden and expand resources to the military, police and immigration enforcement. All of this strengthens the violent enforcement of race, gender and class hierarchies in our lives. All of them will directly result in increased sexual and gender violence in the lives of the poorest people." Read more. (For more information about the Trump administration's consideration, read this article from The New York Times.)


(Matt Eich/The New Yorker)

The Trump Administration Seeks to Deport an Abuse Victim Who Fears for Her Life (The New Yorker)

Abbie Arevalo-Herrera is one of many people who seek refuge in the United States due to intimate partner violence. Yet she is also part of a large cohort of migrants at risk of deportation, regardless of the danger that they fled. Dave Eggers writes, "Five years ago, Abbie Arevalo-Herrera and her young daughter Marcela waited with a group of migrants on the south bank of the Rio Grande for the right moment to cross the river and enter the United States. They had left Honduras five weeks earlier, fleeing Arevalo-Herrera's former common-law husband, who had threatened to kill her. [...] Arevalo-Herrera came to the United States hoping to apply for asylum. The fact that she and her family currently live in the church is due, in large part, to a controversial Department of Homeland Security practice by which immigrants are given a "Notice to Appear" in court that bears no date or time. In thousands of instances, they are never told when to show up, and are tried in absentia, with few if any options to reopen their cases." Read more.



There's Now an Online Option for Self-Managed Early Abortion Care in the United States (Rewire.News)

Founded by Dutch physician Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, Aid Access seeks to revolutionize self-managed abortion care, offering an option to purchase early abortion pills and receive medical consultation and physician-supported medical care online. Auditi Guha writes, "Abortion care advocates say Aid Access' services—which are now available in the United States after being available for a decade in other countries—normalizes self-managed care and provides a safe, confidential, medically-supported alternative to clinic-based care for early abortion. [...] Aid Access, which aims to serve pregnant women at less than 10 weeks' gestation, prescribes mifepristone and misoprostol pills, both U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization-approved medications available through clinics. It bypasses barriers like high costs, mandatory waiting periods, parental consent for minors, and provides an easy option to access abortion care, the site's homepage states." Read more.


(Xavier Schipani)

Amateur: Finding Joy and Power in Being a Trans Person (them.)

In response to a recent query asked by a nonbinary trans reader of them.—"Part of me recognizes that the trans experience isn't rooted in suffering, but doesn't it seem like it?"— Thomas Page McBee discusses the joy of transness. McBee writes, "Joy in a marginalized body has always been a form of resistance entwined with the politics of queerness. After all, Pride, before its corporate takeover, was a parade to celebrate the anniversary of a riot. Today, because of the internet and the ubiquity of social media, queer people of all gender identities have access to a range of images and stories of trans people. For years now, we've had earth angel Laverne Cox telling us and everyone who will listen that #transisbeautiful. We've got Janet Mock making history as a director and writer on FX's Pose, which is fundamentally a show that repositions trans bodies as glamorous, regardless of the brutality that surrounds us. We are taking back the narrative that has defined us in the collective imagination for decades now: Sad, tragic, deceptive, and (often in the case of trans men) invisible. And, mostly, we are doing that with our humanity, and our joy. If I pay attention, happiness because of and not despite my trans status is embedded into every aspect of my life." Read more.


(DIY13/Getty Images)

Why I'm Proud To Be A Middle-Aged Stripper (The Huffington Post)

As a middle-aged stripper, Missy Wilkinson has reckoned with her identity as a sex worker, a job that many view as unpleasant and devoid of agency. Yet as Wilkinson discusses, it can be empowering, fulfilling work. Wilkinson writes, "I like the job, and I can't do it forever. I don't want to regret not having danced when I had the chance. I also don't want to live in fear of being outed by a cyberstalker or punished by a vengeful god. [...] In this past, I thought of my sex work as a flaw, an occlusion in an otherwise transparent quartz crystal. But given the right circumstances, this internal fracture refracts an identity: a woman's holographic silhouette shimmering among shards of light shattered by disco balls, sharpened by laser projectors. She vanishes when the house lights come on, only to be reborn shift after shift in the strip club's perpetual 2 a.m. darkness. She'll live inside me even when I leave the stage for good. And I'm more than OK with that. I'm proud." Read more.


(Creative Commons/Flickr/Bitch Media Illustration)

Breaking the Covenant: What Does Solidarity Look Like for Sexual-Assault Survivors? (Bitch Media)

As part of Bitch Media's series on the power of women's anger, Sil Lai Abrams shares her thoughts on solidarity for survivors of sexual assault. While Abrams acknowledges that people of all genders may experience and/or perpetuate violence, she centers her anger on how women's internalization of rape culture can cause this solidarity to disappear. Abrams writes, "I am not the only woman who has seen this inconsistency from those who proclaim themselves supporters of other women. Of course, we all know people whose words and actions don't align; I myself would be lying if I said I've never been inconsistent. But betrayal by women who, through words or deeds, have been uplifted as symbols of righteousness must be called out. Women who publicly support men who abuse and violate women are communicating that your pain does not matter. Coded in the pauses of those who deflect or justify their relationships with abusers is an undeniable rejection of a woman's right to bodily integrity." Read more.


We're getting ready for #GivingTuesday on November 27th! Mark your calendars and keep an eye out for some exciting announcements.

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