Tina K. Russell

January 16, 2009

Oppression: Gotta catch ’em all!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 2:23 pm

The Way We Live Now – The Edge of the Mystery – Will Barack Obama’s Aura Fade? – NYTimes.com
Already, in the weeks since the election, Obama has endured the moans of disgruntled constituencies in his own party whose ideal of the outsider is difficult for any breathing politician to fulfill. Progressive activists online and inside the party have complained bitterly about Obama’s turning to so many pragmatic insiders — that is, public servants who ran Washington in the Clinton years — to populate his cabinet, rather than reaching out to more academics or state-level politicians whose political instincts have not yet been corroded by Washington’s penchant for incrementalism. Then, too, have come the inevitable protests from identity-based interest groups: Latinos and African-Americans in Congress who weren’t satisfied with the number of senior appointments, as well as gay activists lamenting the omission of a gay cabinet nominee. That sound you hear is the last wheezing gasp of boomer-age politics, the cataloging of individuals according to their areas of oppression, the endless process of tallying cultural differences rather than aggregating common objectives. It is a political philosophy that probably made sense 30 years ago but that seems sort of baffling at the dawn of the Obama era, when such interest groups are among the most powerful in the Washington establishment — and when the Man himself is black.

At the risk of alienating every single one of my friends, where the hell have you been?! Have you been to a college lately? Sometimes I feel like all I ever hear about are intersecting identities and oppressions and blah, blah, blah. Sometimes I wonder if I’m really a person, or if I’m just a cascade of labels.

I’m a little afraid to talk about this, because I do know oppression exists (I’m not naïve), and I do strongly support affirmative action (as large groups of similar people tend to make bad decisions). Plus, after all, I possess an alienating medical condition (transsexuality) and a learning disability (ADD), and when these are taken into account by those above me I feel marvelous. I’m just a little sick of the culture around me of amassing identity tags like trading cards.

Once, an event at my school was promoted by a Facebook page waxing poetic about the speaker’s “intersecting identities,” and not a word was given to what she actually does (and for all I know, she does it very well). I’ve had dear friends publish articles ending with self-summaries that begin with a list of countercultural credentials (“Jane is a radical, kinky, queerspawn,” etc.) that reduce us to shipping labels. I’ve heard spoken-word performances consisting entirely of espousing irritation at white people for our stupid white mistakes, recorded solely for the benefit of white people to listen to not as entertainment (I do love a good bit of light-hearted debasement), but as an act of righteous self-flagellation.

And, I’m afraid of this because now I’ve just bestowed myself with yet another label that I can use to cry oppression: tokenization, the process of making someone into a novelty barganing chip, or a trophy of liberal achievement. I’m essentially decrying an act of self-obsession, and obsessing over that sounds even worse; it sounds like an easy way to restart the cycle of self-imposed, righteous, perpetual victimhood. We whine and moan about how oppressed we are, or we boast about how radical and different we are, and none of it gets us any closer to what we want. It’s vain, it’s annoying, it’s shallow, and it’s disgusting. I’m proud of being transsexual; I’m proud of being intelligent; I’m proud of being part Norwegian. I can wrap more into myself, though, than any pompous list by using just one label: Tina.

Perhaps I’m grousing because I feel I don’t fit in; I’ve never found a single community that I feel I adhere most closely to, and so to the time of this writing my blog’s header still simply says “Tina K. Russell, writer and artist.” (Edit: whoops, I forgot that my blog’s current theme doesn’t use a subtitle. Never mind…)  There’s a lot more to me than that, but… I don’t believe that because I hang in young liberal circles that I’m somehow “more unique” (not a valid phrase!) than others. We all have our inner beauty and splendor, and more than I want someone I’ve just met to be impressed by a boastful list of Oppression Achievements, I want them to trust me due to my warmth and candor. I don’t want to limit myself to communities where it’s cool to be a victim. I just want to be… me, and I want other people to see me for me.

I once went to a queer-themed summer camp, as a teenager, hoping that this would be my “back to Africa” moment, where maybe I’d feel normal for being surrounded for people like me. Instead, I was the transsexual on display. I even had a camp counselor tell me “I think it’s great what you’re doing!”, referring to my transsexuality and not to any personal achievement. That is the sort of person, the token, that everybody wants to be seen next to but no one wants to get close to. To be a label is to be an unperson, and if my fellow college liberals (I’m one, I should say) think that amassing labels will bring them closer to happiness, they’re in for brutal, crushing disappointment.

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January 3, 2009

What inclusion really means

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:01 pm

Aleisha Cuff of Vancouver, BC:

A transsexual woman’s perspective
As a transsexual woman myself, especially one who considers herself a feminist, I often feel scrutinized by cisgendered feminists in ways that other women are not.

Trans women are in a tremendously difficult position: if we’re too feminine we’re acting as sexist caricatures, whereas if we’re too masculine that just proves we’re not women in the first place. If we speak up, we’re aggressively grabbing the microphone, and if we don’t we’re supporting the premise that women are meek and submissive.

The most troubling part, though, is that often in the middle of a screed against trans women the ‘trans’ part begins to feel secondary, and the focus of the anger becomes femaleness or femininity itself.

It is of great concern to me, then, and should be of concern to all women that the community in which I have experienced the most anger and bigotry for being a transsexual woman has been the community of cisgendered queer women.

Eventually I found a community of my own, although it was largely made up of people far from Vancouver.

In blogs and on message boards I began to find other trans women who felt like I did, frustrated with being excluded from the community of queer women. It was a place in which I could discover myself and begin to tell my story in ways I could feel proud of, the place I had hoped the LGBT community would be.

I didn’t just find other trans women, I found a host of queers who had become disaffected in one way or another with LGBT.

Most importantly, I found a place where I could meet women and it didn’t matter if I was trans or not, or if they were trans or not, we just got up to what queer women will get up to.

How often we’re seen as desirable is a fairly accurate measure of a community’s relationship with trans people. Inclusion isn’t inclusion if it stops at the bedroom door.

This brings me close to tears. It’s brilliant. I have nothing to add, other than that I’ve lived—and felt—every word.

December 22, 2008

Maddie and Meowth

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:24 am

Awesomed By Comics: R.I.P. Maddie Blaustein
Maddie once told me the story of how she was inspired to fully transition from male to female (and to come out to her co-workers as transgender) by an episode of Pokemon. In the episode “Go West, Young Meowth” her character travels to Hollywood to make it big. There, Meowth falls in love with another Meowth, who spurns his advances. He decides to learn how to speak and to stand upright in order to impress her – but she rejects him for being a “freak.” Meowth was a human trapped in a Pokemon’s body.

That episode was extremely dear to me as a kid! I’m happy to know it was part of her story, her inspiration. We all have lessons to learn from Maddie, certainly.

Meowth was a lovable cat gangster with a gold coin charm on his head and a bad attitude. He’d follow up every Team Rocket “motto” with his signature “Meowth, that’s right!” He had boundless energy and an affinity for bad puns, and was often seen pulling the levers of the latest improbable Team Rocket contraption. For a sample of Maddie’s work on Meowth, see the catchy Meowth’s Party, a GameCube tech demo used as a special musical segment. Maddie, thanks for touching my childhood with your warmth and charm, and my adulthood with your intelligence and courage.

Dear Maddie

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:08 am

Life According To Maddie (According To Me)

Maddie Blaustein died this week. I… I don’t know what to say. She was an accomplished comics writer (I know she did Static, among others) and voice actress, having roles on Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and yes, some Sonic games. She was one of my heroes, and I always dreamed I’d write to her and, because we’re both transsexual, she’d feel a certain kinship and write back, and I’d treasure her response forever.

There’s a huge hole in me now. I guess this is one of those lessons about how now is the best time to do anything, since you don’t know what will happen tomorrow. But also, I just lost a woman I’ve had immense respect for, a woman who showed me what I can become. Rest in peace, Maddie… I already miss you deeply.

Victorious Transsexuals: Bülent Ersoy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:34 am

Middle East Online
ISTANBUL – A Turkish court Thursday acquitted a famed transsexual singer of charges of turning the public against military service, citing clauses protecting free speech, Anatolia news agency reported.

Bulent Ersoy, 56, was put on trial after she said in February that if she had a son, she would not send him to the army to fight Kurdish rebels, whose 24-year campaign for self-rule in the southeast has claimed about 44,000 lives.

The court ruled that the alleged offence had not been committed and the defendant had exercised her right to freedom of expression, Anatolia said.

FREE SPEECH WIN! I hope this gives Turkey some serious EU points, with the possibility of many more if they reform the law itself.

December 16, 2008

Making the call on treatment — Plus! Your mission

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 3:26 pm

Daschle Will Lead Health Care Overhaul – NYTimes.com
At the heart of the health care system, Mr. Daschle wants to establish a Federal Health Board, an independent entity like the Federal Reserve. The board would make coverage decisions for federal health programs. It would, he says, “reduce or deny payment for new drugs and procedures that aren’t as effective as current ones.”

The board could have a “spillover effect” in the private sector, he said. Private insurers already follow many of Medicare’s coverage decisions. Mr. Daschle said Congress could go further and link tax breaks for private insurance to compliance with the board’s recommendations — a step that would give the government far more influence than it now has.

That sounds like a great idea! Obviously, the board will have to be super-independent, with legislation to ensure they aren’t being moved by free gifts or implicit career offers from HMOs or drug companies. Still, it’s an enormous problem, and one source of our stratospheric healthcare costs, that there doesn’t seem to be any check on the cost or utility of new drugs or devices. A popular drug may have a generic equivalent that doctors or patients stubbornly aren’t using. A hospital may have purchased an MRI machine and wants to recoup the costs by using it to investigate headaches (a breach of the enormous trust patients place in their doctors). A big new drug may be just like an old one, different enough only as to warrant a new patent. And, of course, there’s the rush for drug companies to create “blockbuster drugs” for non-clinical ailments that everybody has, like sometime anxiety or difficulty sleeping under stress, rather than treat actual ailments with actual medicine that would only reach a limited market (the sick).

Anyway, I hope this board puts human interest at the forefront when it makes its selections. Another problem with our healthcare system is that profit, not utility, governs what is covered in a for-profit healthcare plan, and HMOs have an incentive to deny as much care as they can under existing prices. So, simply a new definition of what medicines and procedures warrant coverage would be refreshing. As it happens, the sick are presently the worst off in our healthcare system (besides, you know, being sick), as they tend to be “uninsurable” and most likely to be denied coverage due to technicalities.

What’s in it for me? Well, as I understand, most nations with universal healthcare cover treatment for transsexuality. As it happens, gender identity disorder is in the DSM IV and has been an established condition in medical literature for decades, and the international medical consensus is that it should be treated with therapy and, if the patient so chooses (and if it is right for the patient), physical transition with hormones and surgery. It’s time to bring the US up to international standards in this regard!

As soon as this board forms, your mission, my fellow transgender people and allies, is to press for this it to give the standard medical procedures for gender identity disorder its formal endorsement. It would be an enormous step toward making sure transsexuals live full, productive, happy lives, that we live for our potential, that we contribute our full extent to the economy, and that young trans children are not tempted to go into sex work solely to pay for their healthcare, or are forced to choose between their health and a college education. It would be a weight from our shoulders, a blessing in our lives, a decades-overdue gesture of recognition, and the start of transsexuality finally being something normal in society. It would mean the world to me.

Join us!

November 26, 2008

New Experience Required

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 4:12 pm

Tina’s Xbox Live avatarI have tried Microsoft’s vaunted “New Xbox Experience.” Hmmm… I can say that what I was most looking forward to was making my avatar, at right, which was fun. My impression was that Microsoft had found the happy medium between too simple (Wii’s “Mii” system) and laughably overwrought (PlayStation 3’s euphemistic “Home”). The “NXE,” as they call it, made it simple and fun to make an avatar that looked like me and carried a real visual weight. Yes, it has big heads, unlike on PS3, but they also have discernable bodies, unlike on Wii. Here’s a tip: use a “chiseled” chin for some transsexual chic.

I picked the green shirt, plaid red skirt, and “Goth Boots,” but I also enjoy trapsing around (in my imagination) with the yellow spring dress and matching pumps. For once, somebody at Microsoft has my number. (Really, I just enjoy any fantasy in which I look good in anything I want to wear. Eat that, Tina’s body.)

To the service’s shame, only one game so far really uses these avatars for their intended purpose as game characters: the downloadable title A Kingdom for Keflings, which I must admit was amusing. The demo had me giggling with its simple tasks and lovable presentation. That said, it gave me no confidence that this enticement held up over time; as my brother observed, “it’s the economic part of an RTS” (real-time strategy, like StarCraft or something). It’s the build-up, but without any competition… and unless I can customize things to my liking, as in Animal Crossing, there isn’t much to the power fantasy of building a self-sufficient society on my own. …Well, there is, but it wears off. I don’t just want my kingdom to love me; I want to ride through the streets on a human-carried sedan, wearing a bikini and sensually holding a fan, while citizens clamor to catch of glimpse of their beautiful leader.

…I may have issues. In any case, strolling around a forest as a giant, picking tiny people up and putting them down to get them to do work for me, and in time building up a beautiful kingdom for them to live in, is a pretty enticing proposition. I just want to be sure that, in the end, they roll me in shimmering gold dust and proclaim me their golden matriarch.

…I’ve gone too far, again. Download the demo, though; watching yourself pick people up like that and order them around is a sight to behold, as is helping them build beautiful houses for them to live out their happy tiny-people lives in. Awww…

I should discuss the rest of the “Experience,” besides building avatars to fulfill my narcissistic messiah-complex fantasies. (What else is there?) Um, well… I haven’t been using my Xbox 360 in a while, and, given that Sonic Unleashed (breaking my heart!) has had a lukewarm critical reception, I probably won’t use it for a while longer. Meanwhile, hard as Microsoft tries to proclaim its system as some kind of gateway to orgasmically joyful media consumption, it’s difficult to believe they’re doing me a favor when you must pay by the pound at a steep price for everything. I mean, there’s nothing inherently wrong with charging two dollars a single half-hour TV episode laden with DRM on a system with an estimated lifespan of two more years, you just won’t see me clamoring to take them up on the deal. Their movie “rental” service, with its arcane rules, is more sensible to one’s budget ($3 for regular, $4 for HD… I think), in the sense that it does not involve physically going to a decaying Blockbuster outlet and hoping that it is not out of business within the five-day rental period. However, it’s simply not a substantially better deal than other services, and the selection is lousy. Every movie studio is willing to hand over its dregs, and only its dregs, to this experimental Xbox movie service, so you have the second two Matrix movies but not the first one, Shanghai Knights but not Shanghai Noon, etc. This service has been around for two years and its selection is still pathetic. Hmmm, I wonder if Microsoft could score a deal with a hip new (in relative terms) movie rental service to enhance its selection?

That’s where Netflix comes in, at full throttle, you might say. The “NXE,” which I refuse to type unless I can use quotation marks, adds the Netflix streaming service to the Xbox 360. It works if you have a Netflix subscription and an Xbox Live Gold subscription, which are fairly pricey together. Fortunately, my brother has both; a Netflix subscription so that he can watch the TV shows and movies culturally assigned to him in college, and an Xbox Live Gold subscription so that he could play Carcassonne with potty-mouthed 14-year-olds (no doubt trying to figure out how to “hump” your opponent in a board game). I can indulge my brother’s overabundance of free time, then, by using his Netflix account to watch old movies and TV shows. And boy, if you thought the Xbox Live movie rental service had slim pickings…

I think Netflix’s movie streaming service (in which you pay by subscription, as God intended, not by the title) actually has a substantially bigger library, in volume, perhaps by orders of magnitude, than Xbox Live’s movie rentals. However, the Netflix streaming service manifests Netflix’s reputation of having “the obscure stuff” in an unfortunate way… it has an implausibly random selection of completely obscure stuff, and there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason as to what’s on. Seriously, browse the selection.

Oh, wait, you can’t! In an impenetrably stupid marketing move, you cannot see the Netflix streaming library, what titles are in it, unless you have a Netflix subscription. Actually, maybe that’s brilliant; you have no idea what you’re signing up for! I used my brother’s subscription to browse the catalog, and do not worry… you aren’t missing anything. Well, unless they happened to stop the wheel on your favorite obscurities, in which case… auuugh! Netflix’s marketing “logic” is cooking my brain.

As a sample, here’s what I picked out, one lonely night, from the catalog to place on my “Instant Queue”:

  • Heroes, season one (I like ’em cheesy and idealistic, and I hear this show delivers… too bad the exposition appears to be at least a third of the freaking season)
  • Heroes, season two (Back for more punishment)
  • Transamerican Love Story (I have to admit, if there have to be vapid TV dating shows—and after seeing half of the first episode and failing to finish, I can tell you it’s predictably awful—it’s nice to see trans-positive vapid dating shows. Maybe we can see trans-positive emptily pretentious cop dramas, or trans-positive HBO gutter serials. Oh, what a bright future…)
  • Girls’ High (I can’t remember why I picked this one. It’s an anime. Their anime selection is also maddeningly arbitrary.)
  • Some other anime with a strange name. I haven’t a clue why I picked it.
  • Air (I watched the beginning of this anime, and it did seem cool, except that it confirmed that Netflix only streams anime dubbed, gyaaaaahhh!)
  • Justice League: New Frontier (because they didn’t have those Avengers DVD releases, and I like superheroes)
  • Our Brand is Crisis (about American political consultants exporting our, uh, brand of democracy abroad; it sounds interesting)
  • The Beauty Academy of Kabul (I’ve heard of the story before, and it sounds interesting)
  • Yes, Minister (an old British comedy series about politics; it’s funny)
  • Network (I’m mad as hell that I still haven’t seen this movie, and I’m not going to take it anymore)
  • Easy (it’s a cheesy romance movie. It sounds pretty stupid. Hannah, I’m too ashamed to ask this in person: want to come over and watch it? If it turns out to be too awful at the start, we can watch something else.)
  • Sonic Underground, volumes one and two (this deserves its own paragraph… or two)

I can’t blame Netflix too much; they’re excuse for why the pickings are so slim is that they have to go through the arduous process of licensing every movie in their massive stockpile all over again. I’ll extrapolate further: movie studios are loath to “cannibalize” the sales of their good movies, so they prefer dumping their refuse onto any promising new service that asks. Now they can say they’re “with it” and working toward the future, except that the new service can’t survive under the weight of such mediocre titles. Thus, the service remains unpopular, and the existing, increasingly outmoded business models are saved. I think the lesson they’ve taken from Apple’s conquering of the digital music market is simply not to license good content; keep that in the physical realm. (The lesson should be to get the jump on Apple with a superior service, but telling content holders to innovate is like telling overcompensated CEOs to earn their fat paychecks. Oh, wait, it is telling overcompensated CEOs to earn their fat paychecks. My bad.)

Remember that big content holders tried to stop FM radio, tried to stop home video and are furiously trying to stop BitTorrent. Holding back the future seems to be easier than adapting to it, in the minds of the already powerful.

I’ve been using the streaming service, now, to watch entirely too much Heroes at a time (maybe, in the next episode, something will happen!), to watch Yes, Minister, and… Sonic Underground. This is a cartoon that I’m quietly resisting bringing up… it was made in the late nineties (before Sonic Adventure), which is by far the most miserable, most abominable period of Sonic history, surpassing (yes) even the current malaise. This is a cartoon in which Sonic wears a magical medallion that transforms into a three-necked guitar that shoots laser beams… and believe it or not, it’s all downhill from there.

I will say one thing in its favor: Sean Connery makes a guest appearance (at least one, as far as I’ve seen), telling Knuckles “the fate of Mobiush is in your handzsh!”, and I will treasure that forever. If he later speaks of the “Chaosh Emeraldzsh,” I will die happy.

UPDATE: I’m heartbroken to have to retract that about Mr. Connery; I became curious when I did not see his name in the credits to the relevant episodes, and can now confirm his name is no longer listed on the IMDB page for Sonic Underground (I’m pretty sure that was my original source). Instead, IMDB now lists Maurice LaMarche in that role, no doubt doing a pretty good Sean Connery impression. (LaMarche does appear in the credits; however, with the exception of Jaleel White as the three hedgehogs, character and actor names are not matched.)

As it happens, I can’t find any independent source to verify that character’s actor. The closest I can find is an offical press release, from the distributor, for a Sonic Underground boxed set (I didn’t know that show had 40 episodes! Painful), boasting that Sean Connery appears in that role. Since IMDB is so widely used, even in professional copywriting circles, I can’t really accept that as definitive. All that would convince me now of Connery’s involvement in that sorry chapter of Sonic history would be confirmation from DIC, or for that matter, Connery himself. Given that LaMarche is about nine million times more likely, I’m going with that for now.

Remember, IMDB is not an official source. It’s pretty reliable for run-of-the-mill stuff, but if you see something that makes you say “holy $@#!,” you should probably check it first. If you make the mistake of believing IMDB implicitly, you’re not alone; I made that mistake just now. (The same goes for Wikipedia. It’s really a wonderful source; just make sure it’s not your only source.)

October 13, 2008

Hijras in Kerala

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 9:03 pm

The Hindu : National : Where have Kerala’s Hijras gone?

This is a good article.

October 6, 2008

The transsexual’s story, by Alison Bracken

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 4:30 pm

There’s no way I can give this story any context better than the story itself. Please read it (I’ve quoted the whole thing). Be warned, though… it’s harrowing.

The transsexual’s story, by Alison Bracken
“I left in 1999 and went illegally first to Mexico and then to the US. I was in the closet when I left and the economic situation was bad. I was begging for food in Mexico. Eventually I ended up in Dallas, homeless and living in the Salvation Army’s shelter. Then I met another transsexual. She helped me get some work selling myself on the corner. Then I began going to nightclubs and picking up men and going to their apartment to have sex with them for money. I saw everyone else with cars and TVs, I wanted that and pretty soon I had it.

“Then I met a Mexican guy in a bar and we got an apartment together and he became my boyfriend. He had a wife and kids he was supporting in Mexico too. He sold cocaine. He started giving me $20 packages of coke to sell. One night, these undercover police came into the bar where I was working and asked me to get them some cocaine. I got them a little. Then they came back the next week and asked for an ounce. So I called my boyfriend and next thing you know, I’ve been busted for delivery of a controlled substance even though I only made a phone call. I spent two and a half years in jail. I took every class you can do, learnt English. I had a German boyfriend.

“When I got released, I couldn’t believe it when they sent me back to Honduras. My family didn’t want to know me. They don’t accept my sexuality. I got a job selling beauty products but it didn’t earn much. No one else will give a transsexual a job. So I’m back on the streets again. I earn $5 for a blow job, $10 for sex in a car and $20 for going to a motel. I always tell customers I’m a transsexual, otherwise they might get violent. It’s very homophobic here, so it’s dangerous. I’m saving up for my sex change operation. I’ve spoke to a surgeon and he’ll do it for $3,500. He’s never done it before; no one in Honduras has. I’d be the first. It costs about $15,000 in the US. I’ll probably go back there to work as a prostitute and then come back here to get my surgery. I think about it every day. It’s all I want from life.”

October 5, 2008

Re: Dress of Grievances

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 5:53 pm

(Alternate titles: “Skirting the Issue,” “K.K. Lament,” “Backless vs. Tactless,” and “The Prom Before the Storm”)

GayCityNews – Prom Dress a Federal Case
In a September 25 ruling, a federal judge in Gary, Indiana, gave a green light to a lawsuit by a transsexual high school student suing over his principal’s refusal to allow him to attend the prom in a dress.

According to the complaint, [student Kevin “K.K.”] Logan identifies as a gay transsexual youth who prefers to wear feminine attire, and did so throughout his senior year at West Side High School in Gary. It is an interesting sign of the times that Logan claims he encountered no substantial problems at school due to his attire, finding both teachers and fellow students generally supportive. Even the assistant principal stated no objections when Logan inquired about wearing a dress to the prom.

But principal Diana Rouse stated her objection, directing that Logan wear a pants suit rather than a prom dress.

Despite this, Logan arrived at the prom wearing a dress similar to those worn by the girls in attendance, and was denied entry at Rouse’s direction. Several students aware of what was going on left the prom and spent part of the evening in the parking lot with Logan to show their solidarity, before he returned home without having been allowed to enter.

After the prom, Logan demanded to know what school policy restricted his dressing for the event, and was shown “School Board Policy #319,” which deems “inappropriate” clothing that signals “sexual orientation.”

Logan raised a variety of claims in his suit, asserting violation of his First Amendment free speech rights, his Fourteenth Amendment equal protection rights, and his right to be free of sex discrimination by an educational institution under Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments Act.

I cannot imagine any substantial reason why, after women fought so hard for the right to wear pants, men should be restricted from wearing dresses. I also cannot imagine how a policy that certain clothes are fine for women but banned for men (under the notion that they “signal” sexual orientation) is anything but discrimination based on sex. (More than that, it’s discrimination based on sex disguised as discrimination against sexual orientation, as though the latter is somehow fine. Weird…) And, I can’t imagine why any of this is sufficient reason to keep a student from attending his own senior prom. It’s cruel, and I’m only glad that his fellow students were supportive enough to hang out with him during the event. It’s a shame when students must fill a void in the absence of responsible adults, but always heartening when they do it well.

(I should note that I’m only following GayCityNews’s use of male pronouns, hoping that they bothered to check what K.K. prefers.)

From now on, I hope it’s clear: your school’s dress code must be gender-neutral. If you want to ban dresses, fine, but it’ll have to be for everyone. Otherwise, you’re discriminating based on sex. It’s that simple.

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