The Election is Over (Let’s Go Back to Postcards)

Democrats control the House now, which is fantastic news! However, most of the assaults on trans rights have been coming straight from Trump, so we need to keep fighting.

In my previous post, I asked people to participate in a post card campaign. This is still ongoing. Please chip in! If you are outside the US, you can print the postcards in A6 format. Or, if you are in the US and going to Kinkos or the like, you might find that 2×2 is the best format.

Stack of stamped postcards

I’ve had my best luck getting people to put their names down by talking to people and asking them. Response has been overwhelmingly positive. My spouse says that these conversation are more important than the cards themselves. She says that by asking well-meaning liberals to consider trans rights, I’m asking them to think about things they haven’t previously considered, helping them gain empathy and converting them into allies. I’ve certainly seen people go from politely curious to fully engaged after only a very brief chat. As a part of this, I’ve been mostly going to parties and talking to friends of friends. I have not been disclosing during these conversation, but sharing worries about my friends in the US.

Another way to get people to fill these out is to just leave them around. They don’t use normal stamps from the UK, so I come back to collect them. I’ve left them with some text:

Stand up for the trans community in the US!

The Trump administration plans to ‘define transgender people out of existence.’ Put your name on a postcard to let them know that this is unacceptable.

Then either post the card yourself (don’t forget to attach a £1.25 stamp) or drop it in the box here, and we’ll post it for you.

Thank you for your help.

Contact: [My email address]

I’ve done some regrettable shoebox painting for this (I’m lying and telling people it was done by children.) A cereal box is roughly the same dimensions as a sheet of paper and can be tacked to a notice board. Cereal box with postcards

The election was just the beginning of the work we need to do to make the US safe for vulnerable people. This project has been easier than I thought it was going to be and has built meaningful connections. I’ve sent more than 160 postcards since I started. Before this, I spent months sitting in front of my computer fretting at the news. If we all took the time we spent doing that and directed half of it to campaigns like this, we could build a tremendous mass movement to oust Trump, to protect trans rights, migrant rights, and the environment. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We won’t be erased because we will stand up and demand to be seen.

Ways to support trans rights!

There’s a lot of good actions people can do to try to counter the latest Trump attack on trans people. Marching is good. Writing letters to all your local papers is very good. Like really all of them from the regular paper, to the free advertiser to the Bingo Bugle. When the letters get published, forward them to your elected representatives, the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services. You can also write to those people directly. A paper letter carries more weight than an email, especially if you’re writing to somebody on the other side. (Here is the DHHS’s address.)

You probably know some people who are well-meaning allies, but are not going to show up to a march or write any kind of letter. (No hate. Not everybody can do everything.) These folks, however, would be willing to sign a postcard. This is less good than a letter, but it’s better than nothing.

Linked here are two PDFs of postcards. Postcard4x6.pdf is a standard American 4×6 postcard format. PostcardA6.pdf is a metric A6 format postcard (in the size and shape used by every other country on earth). These are grayscale, so printing is relatively cheap.

If you print these out and take them to things, allies who don’t have the spoons for bigger actions will probably be willing to help with this one. If a lot of post starts arriving at DHHS, this will help. I went to a cabaret tonight and got like 50 of these filled out. I’ll take a stack to work tomorrow. I’m going to give a bunch to my friend who is active in a lefty church, so he can pass them out on Sunday. None of these folks would have done anything if I hadn’t asked for this easy thing.

We #WontBeErased

P.S. Also, please don’t forget to vote.

Hello American Allies

The New York Times is reporting that the Trump administration is trying to ‘define trans out of existence’. Of course, you can’t erase people by changing definitions, but it is certainly within the federal government’s powers to make the lives of trans people significantly more difficult. The consequences of the Trump administration’s actions would be extremely dire.

This change in definition is coming from the Department of Health and Human Services. They have an Office of Civil Rights. Alas, this is is headed by a Trump political appointee, but they are reachable by the public. While emailing them is possible, I suspect it’s more useful to send snail mail or fax. The pile of documentation is harder to ignore. There is a service that allows users to send a limited number of free faxes per day. Upload a PDF and send it to your regional office. I’ve put my own letter at the bottom of this post.

I’d also like to suggest you contact your representatives and two senators. Even if you know they agree that trans people deserve civil rights, it’s helpful to them if they can say there’s been an outpouring of concern. And if they don’t agree, an outpouring may help change their minds, especially so close to an election.

Speaking of which, I’d like to encourage you to vote – and to do so strategically. This is an emergency situation for trans people and many other vulnerable groups. Voting for a Democrat won’t overthrow capitalism, but a lot of people live in the wedge issues that separate the parties. Vote for the people who can’t vote.

Fellow Americans abroad, it’s not too late. You can still request your absentee ballot. If you’ve requested your ballot and haven’t received it, you can get a backup ballot for overseas voters called the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot. Depending on where you are elligible to vote, some states will accept this ballot even if you have not previously registered.



Example Letter

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to oppose the proposed change with regard to gender. Making this fixed, genetic, and unchangeable flies in the face of medical opinion and common sense. A significant minority of people do change their genders. Trying to prevent this is a serious violation of their civil rights with no discernable state interest. This is unamerican.

Relying on genetics is also unscientific, as there are many people who’s physical sex characteristics are at odds with their genes. The Olympics quit using this definition after a woman who was found to be genetically male later gave birth – thus showing that the tests are not reliable even for people who are not transgender.

I strongly encourage the department of health and human services to do it’s job of protecting health instead of going out of it’s way to harm transgender people.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.


Militarised Police

In his drive to undo every single Obama policy, Trump has lifted restrictions on police getting military combat gear. This ban was put in place after images came out of the militarised response to protests in Ferguson. The problem with police having military gear is that they will use it in interactions with civilians.

Without a doubt, this is a national issue. However, it is also a local issue. Every police force has it’s own rules about what it can and can’t purchase. Your city can direct it’s police not to buy military hardware.

Many cities are organised into districts, so that every district elects a council member. I used google and my city’s web pages to find my district and from there, found the phone number for my council member’s office. The following is roughly what I said:

Hello, I am a registered voter in [District X] and I’m calling because Trump has just lifted the ban on police forces acquiring military hardware. I’d like to ask that our city police do not get an military equipment and get rid of any military equipment that they might already have.

I vote in Berkeley, and the person answering the phone had not heard of the new rules and was unhappy to hear of them. She assured me that my council member was in agreement and expressed hope that the whole council would feel similarly. It may seem like it’s unnecessary to make this call in Berkeley, but my concern was that some people might think that military kit would be an appropriate way to respond to the fascist violence that’s been rising in the city. However, I would argue that the danger of fascism is part of why we must ensure our police are de-militarised.

Because local politics are smaller scale, our voices are much more easily heard than they are in national politics. Calling about this issue can help make a difference in your community. Moreover, this does have a national effect. Cities refusing this hardware will help repudiate Trump. And keep our cities safer from police overreaction.

for more about local police reforms and reducing police violence, check out the excellent group Campaign Zero.

Tell congress you’re against nuclear war

Dear [Congress Person],

The constitution states that war can only be declared by congress. Launching a nuclear first strike is certainly an act of war. I urge you and members of congress to make clear your necessary role in declaring war and to remove from the president the ability to make unauthorised first strikes.

Best Regards,

[Your name]

[The address at which you are registered to vote]

You can fax your senators for free: You do not need to create an account, but you do need to enter your email address. You should contact both senators.

You can also fax your representative for free: You only have one representative. You can find out who they are here:

If you are a US resident who cannot vote, you can, of course, still contact your local senator and representative. If you cannot vote in the US and do not live in the US, you should contact your local government representative and express your concerns. Especially if you government is a NATO member or allied with the US in some other way, this could be helpful.


There’s already a bill in congress on this topic, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons act of 2017. Here’s a sample phone script if you want to call congress:

Air Travel Letter

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to inquire as to the rules for your airport and the TSA in general in regards to what constitutes inappropriate touching. Yesterday afternoon, 7 April, I passed through security at JFK in Terminal 7 and opted out of the scanning machine. The office who patted me down touched my genitals twice through my clothes, once per leg pat. This experience left me feeling humiliated and angry. I want to determine if I what I experienced conforms to the law or if I should file a complaint of assault.
Thank you for your time.
Dr. Charles Hutchins

So that happened.
I don’t want to go through the naked scanning machines partly due to concerns about radiation. The machines are not regularly calibrated or inspected and are not held to any kind of standard even approaching how medical devices are regulated. Even if they’re safe when they’re first installed the lack of maintenance is a major cause for concern.
And part of my concern with the devices is that they’re invasive without actually increasing security. That the newer machines, such as the ones installed at JFK, do not actually allow somebody to look at naked images does not allay these concerns. Operators pick a pink or a blue button depending on their guess as to the passenger’s primary and secondary sex characteristics. The machine then takes a scan and compares the passenger’s naked body with an idealised form of naked bodies. Areas of difference are then highlighted for additional scrutiny. Therefore, anyone who has a hidden disability that impacts their physical form or otherwise has an atypical body configuration must disclose this to the TSA workers.
My choices would therefore seem to be discussing my genitals with a TSA worker or having them felt by a TSA worker. Because this discussion would likely be extremely triggering, embarrassing and exposes me to the possibility of harassment, I’ve always chosen to opt out of the scanning machines, as is my right under US law. However, while the screener hopefully was not entirely aware as to the shape of my genitals, having them touched by a stranger under these circumstances also turns out to be more disturbing than I would have expected.
While I understand that not all genital touching is necessarily sexual in nature, this is a fundamentally different experience than one in a medical context. When examined by doctors, they explain what is going to happen immediately before it happens. While the TSA agent did mumble through a list of his prescribed actions, I was not warned of what was about to happen as it arose. Also, medical examinations always at least offer a chaperone or else provide one automatically. Finally, medical examinations are concerned primarily with my health and well-being, which is exactly the opposite power dynamic. Because consent is somewhat unclearly explained and is effectively coerced, this kind of invasive touching invites comparisons to sexual assault. And honestly, I don’t know if I was assaulted, as this has never happened to me before.
One of the oldest rights in the US, even before the Bill of Rights applied to individuals, is the right to travel unmolested. The TSA agent clearly violated that right and my person, so my only question is whether this is condemned or compelled by the law, as it certainly does not fall in between.
In frustration and unhappiness, I asked the agent if it would be easier if I removed my trousers. I then immediately apologised for this comment, saying he was just doing his job, which I assumed to be true at the time. He replied threatening me with arrest if I did so. Even after explaining several times that I was not intending to remove any clothes and regretted my choice of words, he kept repeating threats to escalate, advising me not to make things more difficult for myself.
I deeply regret that I’ve planned two separate trips to the US instead of combining everything into one trip. There is no question this experience will effect how often I visit home. I am a stage where I am not easily triggered by things related to being transgender, but for a lot of people, this situation, if the screener’s action was legal, would be so triggering that it would effectively ban then from air travel. Other travellers are also likely to avoid visiting the us, including tourists, which obviously has economic impact, and academics attending conferences as well as those travelling for business. This thus then increases an intellectual and economic isolation of the US.
For all the people I missed in New York who are wondering when I’ll next pass through, I’m afraid it’s not going to be for a very long while.

So you changed your facebook icon?

The US Supreme Court just heard arguments for two cases involving marriage equality. Up to 57% of Americans now think marriage equality is a good idea and a bunch of people, mostly straight allies, have changed their facebook icons into red equals signs to show this.

The equals sign is the logo of HRC, a gay (and not bi and really not trans) advocacy organisation. They’re run by and for A-gays and give awards to vulture capital firms for not discriminating against gay people while giving bonuses or while making people homeless, jobless and hungry. Not that they’re legally required to avoid this discrimination. In 34 states, it’s still legal to fire people for being gay or to throw them out of their homes. There is no federal hate crimes law. Gay people are not in the Civil Rights Act or the pathetically weak ‘ENDA’ which the HRC has been failing to get through congress for my entire adult life. That bill would prevent discrimination in employment only and only for gay people, as the HRC has specifically lobbied to prevent trans inclusion. Because trans people are icky and they’re sure it’s much more likely to pass if it excludes us. Really. any day now it will pass. … Not that they’re spending much capital on it, political or monetary. A-gays aren’t worried about getting fired.

The HRC wants you to know that gay people are just like you: rich, white and privileged. And normative. Why shouldn’t two men be able to have a wedding reception at their country club? So the legal talent and the money for the marriage cases are coming from freshly outed Republicans. Other funding is coming from straight people who saw Brokeback Mountain and cried. No, really. The single biggest block of people who have been pushing for marriage equality is straight women who liked Brokeback Mountain.

And so marriage equality has become a social barometer. Just like voting for Obama proves you’re not a racist, backing gay marriage and changing your facebook icon means you’re not homophobic. Because gay people are just like you! So if you feel uncomfortable around queeny men or especially around butch lesbians or around people you read as trans, no need to worry about being homophobic if you support gay marriage. No need to worry about having appropriate sex-ed for LGBT kids. No need to worry about the homeless LGBT youth who might want to build a shelter in your neighbourhood and drive down property values. It’s totally ok to think Grindr is icky and condemn it entirely with no first hand knowledge, because you support gay marriage!

And yes, it’s gay marriage. After all, the HRC just told trans people just this last week, to take down their flag, since “gay marriage isn’t a trans issue.”

Did I mention I got the first same sex divorce in the State of California? I can’t say I’m especially proud of this fact. I will say that having a legal structure for divorce made the split a lot easier than it would have been otherwise. I might get married again some day. Aside from everything else, it has implications with immigration law. And if I don’t have to appear in court and change my birth certificate, so much the better. So yes, I support marriage equality, which is also a transgender issue. And so is the staggeringly high rate of unemployment and under-empolyment among trans people in San Francisco, which is probably one of the most trans-friendly cities in the US.

I’m glad that allies are supporting this largely symbolic drive towards equality. But now let’s talk about why lgbt people, tend to be poor. Let’s talk about suicide rates. Let’s talk about bullying. Let’s talk about something that’s not just for the happily ever after, not just for the lucky. This alone doesn’t make everything all right and it doesn’t make you all right either. I know most of the people copying the symbol of a tarns-hostile organisation don’t even know the source of the icon. And that’s why this really is just not enough.


Apparently, people disappointed by the recent election results in the USA are so upset they are thinking of leaving the country. I know just how they feel. I was greatly dismayed when Bush won re-election and and also decided migration was a good course of action.
If you want to move, I strongly encourage you to go for it. Not because it effects me, I’m already abroad and you’ll vote from wherever you are, but because immigration is an excellent opportunity for personal growth. It’s also a logistical challenge but manageable. Don’t let property concerns stop you! I own a house full of furniture, but found very reliable tennants.
Where to move? I wanted someplace adequately foreign and distant but that wasn’t bewlidering. I was fairly monolingual. My first choices were EU countries where English is not the dominant first language. I won’t lie: the language gap of living in France was extremely challenging. I’ve ended up living in England and, although this is not because of language, it is really a luxury and a relief to be able to communicate in my native language.
Those of you who have political issues now will have additional concerns, of course. Basically, every developed and many developing coluntries have socialist prgrammes in place, such as healthcare. Still, one of the privileges of being an immigrant is that bizarre or poor chloices of your host country are not your problem. You’re just a guest. Don’t let naysayers stop you when they point out your choice country is lead by an atheist or has social programmes you disapprove of. There is no stable country that has a libertarian government which means that there is no utopia to go to. So what? We live in an imperfect world and you can at least get away from the meltdown of your own homeland.
My advice is to start thinking about how you might immigrate and where you might go. Do you have skills that are in demand? Does your employer have overseas operations? Is there an educational program you can enroll in? (Some countries do not charge fees for students and may even cover your living expenses, although this is pretty socialist and there are usually age restrictions.) Look out for fellowships for career development as many of these are industry funded. Some countries will allow Americans to set up businesses, so if you own a bakery here, you could instead have one there. Many countries have shortages of people in skilled trades, like plumbers and nurses. Some just have demographic worries and will take anybody willing to work. If you’re American, there is definitely a country that will take you!
Once you arrive, don’t ghetto-ize! It’s a good idea to make some American friends where you go, as they’ll celebrate Thanksgiving with you and can help show you the ropes, but make sure to have non-American friends as well. Expats who live entirely in American bubbles seem to get kind of bitter. And no wonder as they are perpetually in between places, niether in America or fully in their new country. Remember, whether your migration is temporary or permanent, you will live where you live. Try to have at least half your friends be non-American and at least a few native friends. There will be people around who want to practice their English or who have experience of living abroad and will have empathy for your moments of confusion. Join a local church. Meetups are also a good way to meet people.
It took me a couple of years to organise my move, so don’t worry if you can’t rush. Moving abroad isn’t easy, but it can be very rewarding. Your ancesgtors thought so! Give it a go.

Writing to the New York Times

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your article on January 12, 2012, “Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante?” I have long suspected that the Times was entirely unconcerned with the truth and was slavishly repeating the claims of people in or seeking power, but it’s nice to have it confirmed as the official policy of the newspaper. This will especially come in handy when I am arguing with others about the lack of merit of your newspaper.

As to your question about whether you should bother yourself with reporting the truth, I would say no. You don’t have any credibility anyway and it’s cheaper just to print press releases without doing research.

Thank you for taking the time to solicit reader opinion,
Charles Céleste Hutchins

Recently, I’ve learned that freedom of the press is much, much better protected in the United States than it is in the United Kingdom. Journalists are free to make claims with good evidence without having to be in fear of overly-strong libel laws. In the UK, you cannot make a claim without absolute proof. In the US, you just need good evidence and the occasional “alleged” and you’re good. UK journalists are jealous of the many press protections afforded American journalists.
And yet, with all the freedom to actually point out lies and fraud and corruption and to let their readers know when somebody is obviously lying – with the freedom to look into things and print what they find, with all of the great and wonderful legal protections the US provides to it’s journalists, the newspaper of record wonders if readers actually expect them to do any journalism. Brisbane, the editor, writes, “I’m looking for reader input on whether and when New York Times news reporters should challenge ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.”
I wish I could say I was shocked.

Ron Paul says he witnessed a murder and did nothing

In the above video, Paul talks of witnessing an infanticide in progress, in a hospital where he was present as a doctor. When asked about this, ‘Paul was briefly taken aback. “I would have had to have… I don’t know,” he said. “It was probably a fleeting, two minute thing. I walked in, took a peek, saw what was happening, because I was visiting there for an operating room. But I didn’t have the facilities! What could I have done?”‘ (Weigel 2011) I dunno, maybe performed CPR, called for assistance, called the police, reported the murder to an ethics body?
Paul is bragging in an advert that he saw a baby murdered and did nothing. Fortunately, he is lying about this.
Late term abortions are exceedingly rare everywhere in the world, but especially in the US, where, if I remember correctly, only two hospitals still do them. There is no hospital in the US where doctors will abort a viable fetus. In the case a of a medical emergency, they might do a premature delivery to save the life of the mother or the child, but they won’t abort a baby that could live outside the womb. Not only would it violate every kind of medical ethics, but the actions Paul describes are illegal. They are murder, not in the sense of overblown anti-abortion rhetoric, but in the sense of having a duty to alert the police.
I don’t believe that Paul is protecting a hospital that murders children, as this story is almost certainly made up. As Fred Clark notes, this isn’t particularly new or original lie and it’s one that both he and I have heard before. And, as Clark writes, “they never include the kinds of details that would make such stories believable — names or places that could be confirmed, or any other such evidence.” (2012) So Paul isn’t covering for a murdering hospital so much as he is repeating something he heard elsewhere as if it happened to him. In other words, he’s telling a lie and just pretending to have covered for murderers. It’s not actually his story. Much like he now says he didn’t actually write his racist newsletters. (Kucinich 2011)
The thing I don’t get about Paul is not his KKK-levels of racism, in which he signed his name to newsletters calling black people “animals” (Paul 1992), and it’s not his making up fabulous stories in which he idly lets babies get murdered. What I don’t get about Paul is how he has any appeal with anyone at all acquainted with the left. Yeah, he wants to let you smoke pot (maybe, depending on your state) (“War on Drugs”) and I guess if you’re a white, middle class man who is never going to get pregnant or have a partner who deal with an unwanted pregnancy, nor are you ever going to want to buy birth control (Somanader 2011), (which he would happily let Walmart refuse to stock, as well as the AIDS drugs, etc) and are never going to need a ramp to access a building (Alder 2011), and you don’t care about anybody else who is not just like you, well, I can see why you might like him. but that kind of makes you a bad person. Yeah, he’s got some anti-war rhetoric (“Foreign Policy”) and I’d like to see the wars ended also, but I’m not willing to sacrifice the civil rights act (Basset 2012) for that. Also, I’m not sure I’d trust a guy who is bragging he helped cover for murderers.

Alder, Ben. “Three Myths About Ron Paul.” The Nation. 27 December 2011. Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <>
Basset, Laura. “Ron Paul: Civil Rights Act Of 1964 ‘Destroyed’ Privacy.” The Huffington Post. 1 January 2012. Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <>
Clark, Fred. “Say anything to take us out of this gloom”. Slacktivist. 3 January 2012. Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <;
“Foreign Policy.” Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <>
Kucinich, Jackie. “Ron Paul’s story changes on racial comments.” USA Today. 22 December 2011. Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <
Paul, Ron. “Blast ‘Em?.” Ron Paul Political Report. 1992. Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <>
Paul, Ron. “Life.” YouTube. 12 October 2011. Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <>
Somanader, Tanya. “Ron Paul: Greater Access To Birth Control Makes A ‘Mockery’ Of Christians.” Think Progress. 6 October 2011. Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <>
“War On Drugs.” Wed. Assessed 5 January 2011. <>
Weigel, David. “The Ron Paul Fetus Rescue Test.” Slate. 29 December 2011. Web. Assessed 5 January 2012. <>