Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Scared Of Men In Dresses, Again

Anchorage folks, just go vote yes on Prop. 5.  Today. I'm tired of people using their gods to persecute other human beings.  A fanatic Jerry Prevo has fought against gay rights in Anchorage - just to keep a job or apartment, we're not even talking partnerships - here for far too long.

I heard about a Dittman poll on the radio yesterday saying Sullivan was ahead 57% to 30something% for mayor, but Prop 5 was ahead 50% to 42%.  That's promising, but I can imagine some people saying:  "Well Sullivan's in but Prop 5 will win, so I don't have to vote."

Don't you believe it.  I wouldn't be surprised if they put those numbers out there to keep people away from the polls.  "Your vote won't matter anyway, so why bother?"  NOT TRUE.  They certainly haven't given up.  There were big media buys for the weekend and Anti-5 people were on a bunch of corners on Monday already.  In force.

This year they've brought men in dresses back into their scare tactics as well as the idea that Prop. 5 would take away people's religious rights.  I don't recall any religious practices that require Christians to turn gays away from their rental property or workplace.  Where does it say, "Thou shall not rent to gays"?   It doesn't.  Instead it says repeatedly to be good to strangers - in the Old and New Testaments.  No one is saying that Prevo can't spew his hate in his church.  Or that people can't pray anyway they like  Just that they can't use their religion to keep gays from working at their businesses or renting their apartments.  And if it's a fourplex or smaller, it doesn't apply to you.  They can even boycott businesses with gay employees.  So chill.  Can someone say, "I won't rent to you because you eat pork and shellfish, which is prohibited in the bible"?  Of course not.   It does say to love your neighbor though. 

I'm really depressed that so many people are so ignorant and so personally needy that they have to lash out against others to make themselves feel better. [Is that a gross generalization?  Maybe, but surely it applies to many of these frightened individuals.]  Slavery and then segregation were also defended with the bible.  At least we aren't fighting a civil war over this.

We need to step back.  Breathe deep.  Each take responsibility to make sure three other people go vote yes on 5, and approach this with a little humor.  So I'm reposting a piece I put up last time Anchorage battled over this.  Enjoy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Men Jerry Prevo Would Ban from Anchorage Schools

[Note: The pictures in this post are NOT mine. To see the source of the picture, click on the picture. UPDATE:  Not all of them still work three years later.]

In his ADN letter opposing the addition of "sexual orientation" to Anchorage's anti-discrimination ordinance, Reverend Jerry Provo wrote:
Maybe, worst of all, this ordinance would allow a man who teaches a second grade class or any grade to show up as a woman in the classroom and the School District could do nothing because of this ordinance.
I confess that I laughed when I read this letter last Friday. Phil had an overview of some of the blogs that showed how each point in the letter was dead wrong. The letter is ludicrous. His biggest worry was about men dressing like women. Where are his public crusades against drunk drivers? Against redlight runners? Against heterosexual adulterers? It seems to me that murder and adultery are both prohibited in the Ten Commandments, not in some obscure passage in Deuteronomy along with other obscure prohibitions that we no longer observe. After all, what is the big deal about men who want to dress like women?

Men have a long tradition of wearing clothes that are more like women's clothes than than the "pants of the family" we associate with men in the US.

Religious men, particularly, seem to like to wear gown like clothing. Probably foremost is the Pope who wears some of the most elaborate clothing of anyone in the world. But this trend of dressing in garments more like women's clothing isn't confined to Catholics. Protestants also find this appropriate for the leadership.

Like these Episcopalians.

And Russian  Orthodox.

Muslims clerics don't wear trousers either.

Nor Buddhist monks. They wear robes.

Nor Hindu priests

Even rabbis.

All the religious leaders I know of are also considered teachers. Would Rev. Prevo protest any of these people teaching in an Anchorage school wearing their work clothes? (I know some people are thinking "separation of church and state," but it's ok. If they are teaching ABOUT their faith and NOT teaching their faith, it's ok. And most such religious leaders also have expertise in other areas they might teach.)

And it's not just religious leaders who wear clothing that would be more closely associated with women than men.

Surgeons wear gowns at work.

And academics also have a tradition of wearing gowns. Even our former President whom Rev. Prevo supported so strongly.

And would Rev. Prevo prevent these two gentlemen from coming to class dressed this way to talk about Scotland?

OK, these men aren't exactly dressed as women, but my assertion that what they wear is more like women's garments than men's is much closer to the truth than Prevo's various assertions about the 'horrible' things that would happen if the ordinance passed.

And what should we do about all the women teachers who come to school already wearing pants? Prevo doesn't raise this 'serious' problem. My belief is that in our society it's less of a problem for a woman to dress like a man, because it's natural for people to want to be mistaken for the people who have the most power. But it seems perverted, to some people, for people with power, to try to be like those with less power. So men shouldn't dress like women. It's giving away their male based privilege.

Sorry I can't let go of this quite yet. I suspect Prevo knows this is ludicrous, and he probably knows that those who introduced the ordinance did so because they think they have the votes to pass it. Last December, Frank Schaeffer was interviewed on National Public Radio. You can hear the interview at the link. From the NPR page:

Frank Schaeffer's parents, Francis and Edith, were best-selling authors who were instrumental in linking the evangelical community with the anti-abortion movement.

But after coming of age as an evangelist and helping to organize religious fundamentalists politically, Schaeffer had a crisis of faith: Though he is pro-life, he decided that abortion should remain legal.
One of the things he says in the interview is that abortion and gay issues were no big deal with his father when Frank (the son) was little. They became big issues for evangelicals because whenever they talked about them, they got lots and lots of donations.

So, I'm guessing that Prevo has a knee jerk reaction to the word 'gay'. It's less about stopping the ordinance than it's about raising money. This letter isn't aimed at the vast majority of people in Anchorage. It's far too silly. It's aimed at the rabidly ignorant who will open their wallets to fight the 'perverts.' So when Prevo writes:
It would allow any man to dress like a woman and use any public women's restroom. Ladies, do you want that to happen?
it's to alarm those folks, who don't think, into supporting Prevo's high lifestyle.

Of course, thinkers would shake their heads in disbelief. What's to stop men from dressing up as women now and going into women's bathrooms? The law? It's illegal to go through red lights, to litter, to beat up women, yet people do these things every day. And when the ordinance has passed and is law, I promise you that it won't prevent the police from arresting men who dress as women in order to get into women's restrooms.

First, the ordinance says:  [April 3, 2012: it's basically the same this time around]

The assembly finds that invidious discrimination in the sale or rental of real
property, financing practices, employment practices, public accommodations, educational institutions, and practices of the municipality, based upon race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, marital status, age, veteran’s status, or physical or mental disability, adversely affects the welfare of the community. Accordingly, such discrimination is prohibited.
Only the bold is new language. It is already illegal based on sex. So using Prevo's logic, men already can't be prevented from using the women's room. But simple practical logic tells us that since men already have an equal, alternative place to wash their hands, they aren't being discriminated against. In fact at big events, the lines are usually longer at the women's restrooms, not the men's. Sexual orientation doesn't change the fact that gay men are still men. So the same logic that applies to "sex" will apply to "sexual orientation." If it didn't happen when 'sex' became a protected class, it won't happen now.

Second, even if the ordinance did what Prevo asserts, the sexual orientation clause wouldn't save men who dress up as women to get into the women's room. Why not? Simple. Gay men aren't sexually interested in women. It is only straight men who would try to see women's private parts exposed. And they couldn't claim they were being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

There is one serious issue here though. Transgender folks. Despite what we've been taught, the distinction between men and women is not as clear cut as we tend to believe. This topic is far too complicated to start after I've already written so much here. My advice is for people to read Eugenides' Middlesex. Wikipedia says:

Middlesex is a novel by Jeffrey Eugenides. It was published in 2002 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003.
The narrator and protagonist, Calliope Stephanides (later called "Cal"), an intersexed person of Greek descent, has 5-alpha-reductase deficiency. The bulk of the novel is devoted to telling his coming-of-age story growing up in Detroit, Michigan in the late 20th century.
I'm not an expert on this topic, but this novel gives at least one view of the topic in a way that makes the issue understandable to people who otherwise might dismiss people having a sex change as crazy. And it is a well written and interesting story. I would say this is the easiest way to get a good understanding of the topic.

I raise this because there are people who, as they are transitioning from one gender to another, will be using new restrooms. (I notice that Prevo isn't worried about women coming into men's rooms.) If someone reads Middlesex, and their mind isn't totally shut down, they will understand that these people pose no threat at all to women in the restroom.

I'm not satisfied with what I've found on the topic online for those who want to know more, but are not ready to get Middlesex from the library. Here's the Mayo Clinic's take on ambiguous genitalia.


  1. Thanks Steve for articulating this so well. I am kind of sorry that I moved to Juneau before this vote. What has happened to our rough and ready Alaska where we valued and counted on our neighbors for help. Nan

  2. Excellent article. Might I recommend some light reading, for those wishing or needing education on the chemistry of how LGBTQAI individuals come to be?

    Check out "The Sexual Spectrum: Exploring Human Diversity" by Olive Skene Johnson, Ph.D. It highlights all the data proving that orientation and gender identity, et al, are not choices.

    Thanks for writing this. Thanks for being willing to educate others and produce an extremely intelligent argument. Taylor

  3. With the election results on LGBT legal protections (perhaps) settled in Anchorage, I think it's time I change my recent application status for citizenship in the UK to 'refugee'.

    Is it that far-fetched?

  4. Associative reasoning causes people to reach faulty conclusions ("skirts are female because only females wear skirts.") You just cited men wearing skirt type attire. Rome ejected men in pants in AD 393. Don't you think an Emperor like Diocletian (with no pants) had a sense of absolute power? Thinking skirts as anything besides sex neutral is stubborn ignorance. Fijian cops & Greek soldiers wear skirts today. Garments which are not a difference of physiology cannot be sex differences. Pants are a horseback riding garment. Can men "be men" without riding horseback? British Beefeaters, Scots Black Watch, Egyptian Dervishes, Greek Evzones, Bhutanese dancers et al wear decorative clothes & skirts and all present as men, not women. It's absurd to ascribe skirts to females or pants to males. Women could not wear pants until an overriding social force---factory work in World War 2, sent 17 million USA women into pants. That alone overcame psychiatric accusations against women in pants as "dressing like men." To "dress like women," a man must wear a bra. A skirt cannot qualify, except in a child's eyes (associative "reasoning.")

  5. Charles, I read your website. We're making the same point. Perhaps the irony in mine misled you.


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.