Choose Your Gender: F / M / X

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The acceptance of non-binary and fluid gender identity recently took major steps forward in California and Oregon. For some, the progress is glacial. For others, it’s sex run amok.

I live in Massachusetts, the first U.S. state to recognize marriage equality. That was May of 2004. It took eleven years for the recognition to spread across the country. If you consider that the gay rights movement got its official start in June of 1969 with the Stonewall riots, it took 46 years just to get this far (and there’s a long way to go).

Most polls show that while only one-third of citizens agreed (at the time) with the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) 1967 decision invalidating existing laws prohibiting interracial marriage, two-thirds agreed with the 2015 decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) invalidating state marriage laws stipulating gender requirements. 

Why this huge difference? Why wasn’t there a case for marriage equality heard by SCOTUS long before popular opinion was so strong? My guess: SEX.

California just passed SB179, the Gender Recognition Act, giving every state resident the right to change their legal documents to match their internal identity in terms of name and gender. Oregon let residents choose their gender on drivers’ licenses in June. In both states, the designation options are F, M, and X.

F=blue? M=Pink? Yes. Get over it.

F=blue? M=Pink? Yes. Get over it.

X? Really? X is the traditional mark for people who can’t sign their own names. I’ll let non-binary people weigh in on what they think of that; meanwhile, I’ll accept the progress. And New York might soon follow suit. 

And here comes the push-back.

Whatever the issue, when one side makes progress, the other pushes back harder. So I’m seeing things like this, from an article posted on The Hill:

“This new law calls transsexuality good, when science, health, logic and love inform us it’s bad,” said Randy Thomasson, who heads the conservative group “Science and God’s word agree you’re either male or female, not in-between.” 

Let’s take this rant one error at a time.

1. The law doesn’t say anything is good, bad, or indifferent. All it says is, “You know who you are better than anyone else.” And while the law says nothing about transgender, that is the hook Thomasson hung his argument on, so let’s continue.

2. Whether someone is “transsexual” is not indicated by identifying with gender X; medical science tells us that a transsexual person has had surgery and/or hormone therapy, and by no means have all transgender individuals taken these steps. Let’s assume Thomasson meant “transgender.” But even so, the X might indicate gender queer, or gender fluid, or someone who doesn’t identify with a gender at all, none of which is the same as transgender.

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3. Far from labelling trans individuals “bad,” science is beginning to understand and validate the transgender issue better all the time. One major breakthrough was seeing that a trans woman (born with a male appearance but identifying as female) has a brain structure closer to that of a woman than of a man

4. Thomasson is right about the health issue. Here’s how we know:

  • One in four trans individuals have been physically assaulted
  • As of May 2016, nine trans individuals in the U.S. had been murdered
  • 41% of trans individuals have attempted suicide

5. Thomasson loses on the logic issue, however. In addition to points 1-3 above, he's also contributing to the problem in point 4.

6. Love. Well, Thomasson is showing us what a lack of that looks like. But even his god wouldn’t give him the right to decide where love is and is not. And while we’re talking about his god, does he think that god makes mistakes? If no, then the trans brain structure is not a mistake. If yes, then—well, why does Thomasson worship that god? And why should the rest of us take that erroneous deity seriously?

One thing fundamentalist religions have in common is a morbid interest in other people’s sex lives. The more strenuously someone protests against LGBTQ+ rights progress, the deeper into the gutter their mind is likely to be. And the more someone protests that they aren’t obsessed with some else’s sex life, the more they sound like Hamlet’s mother: “…[thou] dost protest too much, methinks.”

So will it take eleven years for non-binary individuals to be recognized across the country as existing on the face of the plant? Or will it take 46? Or will it take….

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A.C.L.U. vs. the Spirit of the Law

The ACLU needs to get better at understanding law—not just the letter. It needs to understand the spirit.

As ex-ACLU board member Waldo Jaquith puts it: What’s legal and what’s right are sometimes different. 

Facebook Says: No Christian Cross Emoji

On June 9, in honor of Pride Month and not long after the death of the man who created the original LGBTQ Rainbow Flag (Gilbert Baker), Facebook introduced a rainbow flag emoji, available alongside the usual icons that appear for responses to posts and messages. I used it many times, myself. Before the month was out, a Facebook user began a movement to add another emoji to the list: a Christian cross.

Throwing Shade on the Women's Marches?

Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, likes to teach dog owners that preventing their dogs from focusing on trouble (a letter carrier, another dog, a trash truck) is to give her a sudden, physical distraction as soon as that focus seems likely. This might be a gentle push on her backside, or it might be a sharp tug-and-release on her leash.

After reading the January 24 New York Times article by Jenna Wortham, I think what I got was a less-than-gentle push on my backside. For sure, the tone of this article distracted me from the enthusiasm I have felt since leaving the Boston Women’s March.

This is war.

For over a decade, I've written novels about gay teens. I'm a cisgender, straight advocate, and I write these stories because I hate injustice, I hate fear-driven paranoia, and I'm distressed at the vulnerability of LGBTQ teens.

When I began writing, I was certain that I would not see marriage equality in my lifetime. I knew very little of the hell that trans individuals go through. I knew nothing at all about what intersex means.

And since I began writing, I have celebrated win after win after win for LGBTQ people.

Then came Trump.

Electoral College Needs an Appendectomy

Every day since the November 8, 2016 election, we’ve seen the number of citizens who cast their presidential vote for Hillary Clinton rather than Donald Trump increase. That lead is now roughly TWO AND A HALF MILLION VOTES.

Dear Governor McCrory...

I know you're suffering. And I have some information that I hope will help you and your family out of your current troubles.

As an advocate for personal truth, and in particular an advocate for the rights of LGBTQ citizens, I have read with interest a number of articles about you. In them, you describe the difficulties you and your wife have had to face as a result of North Carolina's HB2, the law you signed that requires people to use public facilities according to the gender on their birth certificates and limits the civil rights of LGBTQ people in general.

Black and White

It’s the end of a week full of horrible events.

The shooting death of African American Alton Sterling by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana… The shooting death of African American Philando Castile by police officers in Falcon Heights, Minnesota… The shooting deaths of five white police officers by a single African American in Dallas, Texas, apparently as retribution for the week’s two previous events and for so many other shootings of African American men by police….

Orlando: Phoenix Rising

From the ashes of destruction, so the legend goes, rises the Phoenix, renewed and reborn. The horrible, burning agony—physical and emotional—of the tragedy in Orlando will give rise to a glorious spirit. We can see it appearing already.

Since the Stonewall riots of 1969, the spirit within LGBTQ people has been glowing brighter and stronger every year. The last few years have been the most remarkable yet, because the spirit has been spreading to people who are becoming advocates.

The chemistry of hatred

It’s a simple chemical reaction: Apply fear to ignorance and you get hatred. We’re seeing far, far too much of it lately.

Here in Massachusetts, the state legislature has been debating whether to pass a bill granting citizens the right to enter public bathrooms according to their true gender. I recently heard one misguided legislator insist that if the bill passed, women and girls would no longer be protected against assault. I understand what this guy and many other people who’ve said similar things are afraid of. What I think we need to get at is why they’re afraid.

Robin Reardon: Reading Aloud

When I have a chance to do a reading or a book signing event, I love connecting with readers. And after the events, they often ask me whether I’ve made recordings of the excerpts I read to them.

Well, now I have. There’s a new page on my website dedicated to excerpts I’ve recorded from my books. So far there are recordings from four books. If this feature is popular, I’d love to do more. This page is accessible from the Items of Interest, which you’ll see if you scroll down on my home page.

So… give it a try? And do let me know what you think, good or bad. Thanks!

Mistaken Identity?

Hello, little girl. My name is… well, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how much trouble I'm planning to go to just to get to a place where I can attack you. Let me tell you all about it.


See, I grew up twisted. Blame it on abuse, blame it on a mother who was domineering, blame it on whatever you like. The thing is, I hate females. And something inside me tells me I’ll feel better if I beat you up, rape you, maybe even kill you. And I just came up with the best friggin' idea for how to get you alone so I can do horrible things to you. BATHROOMS!

Fear the Gay!

Although the discriminatory laws passed in recent days in North Carolina and Mississippi (with a close call in Georgia) claim to be about religious freedom, there is no question that the primary target is members of the LGBTQ community.


These three laws have subtle differences; NC's law seems to focus sharply on transgender individuals and bathroom usage; GA's law would have focused largely on marriage; and MI's law shoots squarely at the heads of all LGBT individuals. But they, and all recent "religious protection" laws passed in the last several months (such as Indiana, Arkansas, the list goes on), have the same goal: Protect good Christians from ... from what, exactly?

Make your vote count... FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS

If you identify with or support U.S. citizens who don’t fall into the “straight, cisgender” category, you have an opportunity that is not likely to come again in your lifetime. And the rest of your lifetime is about how long the outcome of this opportunity will matter.

With the death of Antonin Scalia, one of the least LGBT-friendly voices on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) for the past thirty years is silenced. The question is what the next voice will say.