Category: News

Birth Certificates can be Changed; Surgery is Forever

By Elizabeth Reis

We shouldn’t get too enthusiastic about Germany’s new birth certificate designation: “indeterminate.” Because the category will be an obligatory designation for babies born with ambiguous genitals (commonly known as intersex), the law might do more harm than good. Most infants are born with seemingly uncomplicated gender designations; we look at their genitals and decide their sex and their gender in an instant. Of course, not everyone grows up to agree with the gender they were assigned at birth. Transgender people grow up feeling out of sync with the gender they were assigned, even though the decision for most of them seemed perfectly straightforward at the time.

Feeling Lonesome This Halloween?: Nineteenth-Century Love Charms and Halloween Party Games

By Sean Cosgrove

Are you a single woman or man staring down the barrel of another Halloween spent curled up in bed with too much cheap candy corn you’ve bought in bulk from Walgreen’s under the auspices of being prepared for the hordes of trick-or-treaters that were never going to descend on your home?

Or, are you perhaps happily single or happily partnered and looking for the perfect Halloween party game? One you’ve probably never heard of before with a nice historical bent?

Even if the answer is no to both of those questions (and I would be very surprised), I still want you to grab a piece of paper and a pen, and get ready to embrace the Halloween spirit. Today, NursingClio is taking you back to the 1890s, my favourite historical decade, and bringing to you some of the ‘charms and spells’ guaranteed (if certain conditions are met) to be ‘cast with infallible certainty of result,’ bringing true love into your life.

The Links between Optional Parenthood and Reproductive Rights

By Heather Munro Presscott

Last summer, Time Magazine published a cover story declaring “Childfree Adults Are Not ‘Selfish,'” in which Carolina A. Miranda recounts her decision to not have children: “This should not seem that radical. But 52 years after the advent of the birth control pill, and more than a century after the word ‘feminism’ was first coined, a woman’s decision not to have children remains fraught. It is also very public, relentlessly scrutinized by psychologists, politicians, statisticians and the media, who gather to discuss what it may mean — for women, for the funding of Social Security, for Western civilization as we know it. This past winter, a pair of Newsweek writers — of the dude persuasion — went on a gloom-and-tirade (sic) about declining birth rates and the self-involved young adults that are causing them.”

Sex and Disability, Part 1

By Adam Turner

In September, BBC news ran a story titled, Judge Approves Man’s Sterilisation in Legal First. I started reading the story expecting a familiar case of medical authority and restrictive assumptions of what is and isn’t normal leading to surgical intervention. Not so. At least not exactly. Partway through the first few paragraphs of the news report I knew this story was much more complicated than I had imagined.

Reflections on Transitions: How my Transgender Issues Class has Changed in the Last Fifteen Years

By Elizabeth Reis

In 1998 I taught a new class at the University of Oregon called “Transgender History, Identity, and Politics.” Back then there were only one or two students who knew what “transgender” meant when I asked them on the first day of class. The others had enrolled either because the class hours fit their time schedules or because they had taken other classes with me and liked my teaching style (or had received a good grade!). I have taught the class several times over the past fifteen years, but this term I have noticed a distinct difference; it’s astonishing how the class composition and its general knowledge about the subject has been transformed in such a relatively short time. Change happens.

Wendy Davis Filibuster Shows You Don’t Mess with Texas Feminists

By Heather Munro Prescott

Periodically, we Yankees need a reminder that the term “southern feminist” is not an oxymoron. This past summer, we received an especially vivid one: Senator Wendy Davis’s epic filibuster of SB-5, which sought to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, to regulate first-trimester abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers, and to restrict access to medication abortions.

Reflections: A Conference on Children and “Imperfection”

By Adam Turner

Over the past weekend, I had the pleasure of participating in the Centre for Medical Humanities Imperfect Children conference at the University of Leicester. The conference included a wonderful mix of disciplines and both historical and present-day perspectives on the concept of “imperfection” and children. This usefully provocative focus led to an ongoing discussion during the two-day meeting about the definition of imperfection and how it relates to concepts like normality, health, and ability.

My Children and the Limits of White Privilege

By Danielle Swiontek

The community in which I live held a march in memory of Trayvon Martin two weeks ago. It seemed so dated, in a way. In this 24-hour news cycle that we live in, it feels like forever ago since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012. It seems like ages since the jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of his death this past July. Yet the killing of Trayvon Martin continues to haunt me, as it probably does the people who joined the march. The news cycle has moved on, but the issues that Trayvon Martin’s death brought to the forefront have not. When I first heard about Trayvon Martin’s death, it made me fear for my son. That fear has not gone away in the last two months. It will probably never go away.

A Historian’s Guide to Summer: Back-to-School Mixtape

By Adam Turner

Here in the Pacific Northwest the days are long and hot and the raspberries are ripening, which means that a new school year is upon us. For teachers, it’s time to set aside the summer projects, chapters, and books, make a late-summer beverage, and think about teaching. In the interest of celebrating the end of summer, here are some songs that work well in the classroom.

Slane Girl, In Solidarity

By Helen McBride

Last Saturday at an Eminem concert at Slane Castle, outside Dublin, Ireland, a 17-year-old woman was photographed performing oral sex on two males. Unsurprisingly, these photos went viral on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I’ve been hopeful of Twitter and Facebook recently. In particular the discussion surrounding the #solidarityisforwhitewomen trend inspired a lot of thought about what gender and feminism mean in 2013 and has served as a much needed reminder for white feminists like myself to check our own privilege. That spirit of hope has taken a hit with the Slane Girl Story. Within two days of the Eminem concert, Twitter exploded into a slut-shaming bonanza. The hashtags #slanegirl and #slaneslut trends have taken on the appearance of a free-for-all, cruel, glee-filled, slut-shaming stampede.