Tina K. Russell

May 10, 2009

Decisions, incisions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:35 pm

PrideSource: Austrian court strikes down transsexual surgery law
Austria’s Administrative High Court has struck down a law that blocked recognition of male-to-female transsexuals’ new gender unless an individual’s penis had been removed.

“Mandatory sex-change surgery today is outdated and not scientific state-of-the-art anymore,” the GLBT group Rechtskomitee Lambda said in a statement. “On the contrary, it is understood as a human rights violation.”

Thank youuuuuuu!!

Many people don’t realize that successful transition consists of many steps and options, and it’s the right of the individual to decide where he or she wants to go. Many, if not most, female-to-male transsexuals, for instance, opt not to get genital surgery at all, because the surgery is somewhat more crude at this point than the reverse. Meanwhile, many transsexuals in general envision getting the surgery but realize, after a successful transition of everything but what’s downstairs, they’re perfectly happy in their bodies and don’t feel the need to change their genitals.

Your junk is your business! Don’t let anybody tell you who you are based on what’s in your pants.

(None of this, of course, stops the global news media from freaking out when a transsexual man decides to keep his womb around so that he can give birth, and does it with dignity, but never mind…)

December 12, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 3:48 am

Op-Ed Contributor – Grand Theft Nautical – NYTimes.com
There was some semblance of law and order in 2006, when the Islamic Courts Union, loosely linked with Al Qaeda, took over much of the country and imposed Shariah law. Though there were cruel tradeoffs, the Islamists virtually eradicated piracy. The crime was a capital offense punishable by beheading.

When Ethiopian forces, supported by the United States, replaced the Islamists with an ineffective transitional government in 2006, piracy returned with an intensity not seen since the 17th century.

It is evident that no nation can impose its will on Somalia; the colonial British and Italians learned the hard way. And certainly no nation can force Somalis to stop the best business in town. But if the West really hopes to eliminate the scourge of piracy in these strategic shipping lanes, then it should consider involving the courts union, the only entity that has proved it could govern the country, and its militant wing, Al Shabaab, in a new government.

If there is movement to talk to the Taliban in Afghanistan, then there should be some effort to talk to the fundamentalists in Somalia. If the Islamists were permitted to form a viable, functioning and effective government, this shattered land might be able to return to the community of nations — and supertankers will be able to deliver oil to the United States without fear of getting hijacked.

Yes, you read it here first. Who needs human rights when we have cheap oil?

I’ve written here before that I don’t think the West should be obsessed with keeping the “Islamists” out of power in Somalia; I don’t approve of religious rule or Sharia law, but it’s not my place to decide what governments other countries should have. (That, and bloody, endless wars hardly advance the stated aim of upholding human rights.) The concept of international intervention is hotly contested, but I think we can all agree that it’s the sort of drastic step with such dramatic consequences that it should only be used in international emergencies, such as genocide. If we fired our guns on every country with a miserable human rights record, we’d have to start with Saudi Arabia and China on down, a mess that would hardly justify itself.

This op-ed writer, though, takes the opposite extreme; we should endorse cruel, abusive regimes in the interest of stability. We should help them come to power. (I should note that the sort of desperation caused by war, the kind of war advocated by militant idealists and interventionists, is what helps extremists come to power, but that’s a separate subject.) Yes, yes… that’s why the West installed or helped install the Shah in Iran (twice!), Pinochet in Chile, the Taliban in Afghanistan, etc. In fact, he doesn’t even discuss any human need for stability, speaking only of a need for safe, cheap passage for oil tankers. Anything else would be unacceptable!

I need a shower.

October 29, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 5:19 pm

I’ve spoken recently on Ethiopia’s human rights abuses and Somalia’s right to self-determination. In the interest of fairness, here’s what an Islamist court in Somalia has decided to do with all that self-determination:

World Briefing – Africa – Somalia – Rape Victim Executed – NYTimes.com
A woman was stoned to death for adultery on Monday in an Islamist-controlled region of Somalia. Somali human rights officials said the woman, 23, had been raped, but the Islamist authorities determined that she was guilty of adultery.

That’s disgusting. (The article is just one more sentence, but I snipped that because it’s graphic.) This is reprehensible on, like, a million levels. To note three:

  1. The death penalty is wrong. Always.
  2. They say that she was an adulterer. Even if that were true, which I doubt, it is wrong to punish adulterers. Government should not legislate individual choice, or attempt to fix families.
  3. Punishing the victim is wrong.

While the mistake of punishing the victim occurs on many levels in many governments, to punish the victim of rape is to take what is already a crime to an unspeakable degree. To punish her with death is beyond my comprehension. I cannot imagine how anyone who asserts that is moral can claim with a straight face to speak for God.

Jesus, a prophet of Islam, once espoused that “he who is free of sin shall cast the first stone”; and that was about a woman who was actually guilty of what she was accused of. I step carefully when I talk about this because I think stoning her to death would still be wrong if she were guilty. I think it would be wrong if she were guilty of murder. I think it would be wrong if she were guilty of murder and the execution were administered with a lethal injection of painkillers in the most humane way you could possibly think of. It’s clear, though, that the people who delivered, carried out, and supported this verdict have vast oceans of sin in their hearts, given their willingness, their enthusiasm, for such an unequivocally evil act as this. They should not throw stones; and neither should we.

August 24, 2008

Will good things come to those in Kuwait?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:06 pm

This is important, so I hope Al Watan won’t mind me reproducing the whole thing:

Al Watan Daily
Chairwoman of the Arab Committee for Human Rights Violette Dagher has sent a letter to National Assembly President Jassem AlـKhorafi and MP Mohammed Haif AlـMutairi requesting them to “review the law pertinent to transexuality and the introduction of laws which may modify the existing criminal laws.”
She explained that the issue of transexuality in Kuwait occupied a central position in the committee”s agenda as the law in Kuwait equated them with criminals, which consequently led to the imprisonment of some cases.
Transsexual individuals in Kuwait are often verbally insulted and humiliated, and some even pay penalty fines that could reach up to 1000 U.S. dollars.
She described the treatment of transsexuals in Kuwait as “inhumane,” especially those who were imprisoned. She pointed out to the fact that some had developed severe and complicated psychological disorders at a time when they needed assistance and compassion rather than punishment.
Dagher referred to the farـreaching consequences of the law, including depravation of leading a normal life as some families detached themselves from their transsexual relatives, and some transsexual individuals were barred from education.
Dagher confirmed that transsexuals do not have control over their sexuality, as it is not developed according to their own volition. She argued against their regarding them as “offenders.” She explained that bisexual faculties exist in all of individuals at varying degrees and, therefore, transsexuals cannot be penalized for their hormones.
Dagher stressed that Kuwait enjoys a healthy democracy and consequently antiـtranssexual laws needed to be modified. She suggested that the first step should be the introduction of a specialized body, able to deal with transsexuals, their unique needs and challenges in a professional manner.

That sounds like the right approach. Nobody chooses to be transsexual… honestly, I’m not sure who would. Transsexual pride is, well, an attempt to make the best of a bad situation.

I’d be interested in learning more about the status of transsexuals throughout the Muslim world. I know I’m not the only one who feels she is a) transsexual and b) the work of God, so I’d like to see more perspectives on this.

July 24, 2008

The Worst of the Worst

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 3:14 pm

Op-Ed Columnist – Madness and Shame – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com
Donald Rumsfeld described the detainees at Guantánamo as “the worst of the worst.” A more sober assessment has since been reached by many respected observers. [New Yorker journalist and author of The Dark Side] Ms. [Jane] Mayer mentioned a study conducted by attorneys and law students at the Seton Hall University Law School.

“After reviewing 517 of the Guantánamo detainees’ cases in depth,” she said, “they concluded that only 8 percent were alleged to have associated with Al Qaeda. Fifty-five percent were not alleged to have engaged in any hostile act against the United States at all, and the remainder were charged with dubious wrongdoing, including having tried to flee U.S. bombs. The overwhelming majority — all but 5 percent — had been captured by non-U.S. players, many of whom were bounty hunters.”

Holy living–! Of course, it’ll take more scrutiny (and meaningful trials) to determine how many wrongdoers there really are at Guantánamo, but I’d always been generous and imagined at least one half. Eight percent? As cynical as I have become, I never thought it was as bad as that.

Let me be clear that even if Guantánamo had a 100 percent success rate it would still be deplorable, as we should be treating even the worst prisoners humanely, showing the difference between us and them. (Besides that, wars become intractable if lasting hatred forms through abuse of prisoners. Securing victory is difficult and costly if the enemy fights to the bitter end.) However, we should not hold a person who is innocent longer than is necessary for a fair and speedy trial, and I do not think military tribunals and seven-year waits succeed on either count.

I should discuss the central argument of Guantánamo’s defenders: that we are in a time of war, and different rules apply. First of all, it is true that different rules apply in war, and I do not see those rules, such as the Geneva Conventions on holding prisoners of war, being applied. (Breaking those rules in a time of war endangers the safety of our soldiers.) Second, a “war on terror” is a propaganda win for al-Qaida, giving them dignity, as soldiers, that they do not deserve. They are criminals, and only when they are brought to justice as such will the case be settled. Declaring war rallies recruits to their cause and makes it harder to fight their toxic influence.

July 17, 2008

“They were killing me. I had to tell them something.”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:44 pm

Op-Ed Columnist – The Real-Life ‘24’ of Summer 2008 – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com
After 9/11, our government emphasized “interrogation over due process,” Ms. Mayer writes, “to pre-empt future attacks before they materialized.” But in reality torture may well be enabling future attacks. This is not just because Abu Ghraib snapshots have been used as recruitment tools by jihadists. No less destructive are the false confessions inevitably elicited from tortured detainees. The avalanche of misinformation since 9/11 has compromised prosecutions, allowed other culprits to escape and sent the American military on wild-goose chases. The coerced “confession” to the murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, to take one horrific example, may have been invented to protect the real murderer.

The biggest torture-fueled wild-goose chase, of course, is the war in Iraq. Exhibit A, revisited in “The Dark Side,” is Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an accused Qaeda commander whose torture was outsourced by the C.I.A. to Egypt. His fabricated tales of Saddam’s biological and chemical W.M.D. — and of nonexistent links between Iraq and Al Qaeda — were cited by President Bush in his fateful Oct. 7, 2002, Cincinnati speech ginning up the war and by Mr. Powell in his subsequent United Nations presentation on Iraqi weaponry. Two F.B.I. officials told Ms. Mayer that Mr. al-Libi later explained his lies by saying: “They were killing me. I had to tell them something.”

Oh my God, that makes me want to cry. Torture is unspeakably bad; that’s established. It’s just amazing exactly how counterproductive it’s been for us, resulting in justice delayed, justice denied, terrorists running free, and the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocents.

Even when you put the paramount humanitarian concerns, of who we are as a nation (and if there’s anything left to defend) aside, torture is a staggeringly unwise military move that prevents us from prosecuting crimes against humanity, silences victims, protects perpetrators, and leads us astray right when we are at our most vulnerable. Torture delivers bad intelligence, torture ruins our credibility, torture turns public sentiment (vital in a war like Iraq) against us, torture ferments lingering resentment that makes it difficult to secure victory, torture radicalizes the wavering, torture makes it harder for us to fight terrorism, and torture puts our own soldiers, and those of our allies, in terrible danger. With all that, torture is unquestionably atrocious and worthless as military strategy. Once you reintroduce the humanitarian concern, of our basic beliefs as American citizens, it becomes an unqualified abomination.

I look forward to the day when we can say once again, as Americans, we do not torture, none of us, anywhere, for any reason. For now, I remain wholly dissatisfied with our leadership as a country.

June 11, 2008

Hooray for Norway

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 9:02 pm

World Briefing – Europe – Norway – New Rights Granted to Gays – Brief – NYTimes.com
The Parliament granted gay and lesbian couples the right to marry and to adopt children on an equal basis with heterosexual couples. The country’s new universal marriage act, which also allows lesbians to be artificially inseminated in Norwegian medical facilities, supersedes a domestic partnership policy. “No longer will there be different classes of love,” Erling Lae, the chief commissioner of Oslo, told an online newspaper minutes after the Parliament’s 84-41 vote, adding that he now plans to marry his male companion of 26 years.

Thank you, Norway, for supporting basic human dignity at a time when it’s under attack. Let’s be ready to follow their example!

June 10, 2008

Human rights, for everyone

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:42 pm

Alive In Baghdad
Maybe one of the of most difficult situations that an Iraqi could be in is to be gay, the Iraqi society in general discriminate against the gay and transsexual people, normally they consider them as people who left their gender and changed for sexual want.

Even though most gay people of Iraq have managed to live their lives, being born gay is almost the same as being born with an assurance of death. Most Iraqis don’t accept that homosexuality is something you’re born with, or which is assigned by your genes. Due to the Iraqi cultural and religious beliefs, homosexuality is forbidden and considered a mortal sin, and in many cases the penalty of death is assigned as the solution for it.

Some of the Iraqi homosexuals used to live in the Karrada neighborhood, practicing there life normally but still in secret. Although before the war as well they could not show that they are gay, due to the risk of being attacked verbally by the neighbors or the people they live with.

The article includes a video. I highly recommend watching it.

Of course, you can be gay and in the closet, but it’s very difficult to be transsexual in secret. The very visible period of transition, mandated for at least one year in the West, is when a transsexual’s life is usually at its most dangerous. So, some of the people discussed and interviewed here fall somewhere on the gender spectrum–a question of gender identity rather than sexual orientation, a separate quandary for a young person to be going through–rather than being simply gay, but it’s tough to be an out-and-about transsexual (or experiment and find out what you truly are) when your life is constantly in danger.

This makes me the whole war–both our war, and the Iraqi civil war–much more personal to me, gives me a connection to it… my sisters out there are in danger, and they’re dying. By the way, that website has a tip jar. I gave $10 to support independent media in Iraq since I was so grateful that these people I could relate to were getting attention in war-torn Iraq. What will you give?

Gay, transsexual, and gender-variant individuals deserve the same rights we all do, the same right to human dignity. It’s a global and a human-rights issue, plain as that. One reason you should watch the video is that the young people interviewed give suggestions to people in the international community. Let’s tear down the old modes of hate and fear and build something new on love and understanding.

That may sound soppy, but a very vague mistrust and discomfort with people who are different is what underlies all the widescale violence. Help people overcome their fears of what they don’t understand and to respect human diversity and expression, and you help end hate and the violence.

April 18, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:14 pm

Colombia Trade Accord – New York Times

You may recall, dear readers, that I leaned towards the position of ratifying the Colombian trade deal in an earlier post. Here are two letters against the deal in The New York Times, and actually, I think they’re pretty solid.

Make up your own mind, I guess.

April 2, 2008

Harmonious society

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 9:34 pm

Tiananmen Protesters Still in Jail, Advocate Says – New York Times

At least 60 people remain jailed in China over the June 1989 protests by pro-democracy demonstrators centered at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, a human rights activist says. John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation, an advocacy group for political prisoners, urged China to release the protesters, who may number as many as 100, before the Summer Olympics in Beijing in August. The protests led to a military crackdown that killed hundreds of people.

When I hear about how the Olympics is going to be China’s “coming-out party” to the world… I wonder if any of these people will get to join in the coming out.

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