“I followed the trail out of the room, invigorated by the possibility of reinventing my own body. The meaning was mine, as long as I was with those who had the vision and vocabulary to understand my creation.” Nick Krieger, “Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender
Because transgender people are making news, Jerry Davich again interviewed Kaden Jakeb Alexander to report on how his transition from F to M is progressing and on his plans for sex adjustment surgery. Davich wrote: “I first met and wrote about Kaden last year at this time, and he has experienced significant changes since then, though with courage, humor and admitted frustration with mainstream acceptance.” On a “GOFUNDME” site called “Bye to the Boob” Kaden wrote:
Hi guys! My name is Kaden, and I am working towards getting the body I feel I was supposed to be born in. Sadly I do not have the funds to afford everything for my transition, that's where this account comes in! I am hoping to raise enough money to get me started on testosterone, and to pay for top surgery.
My family is not supporting at all so they will not help me with the costs. The support I have comes from friends, my girlfriend, and some of her family. The trans* community has also helped me a lot with mental stability through those parts of my transition.
I am not sure exactly what surgeon I would like to have do the surgery, but I am pretty sure I will choose someone close to my new home in California. I am starting testosterone in the upcoming months so I would like to start saving for top surgery because I know it will take a while to make the money for the procedure.
For the New Yorker Jeffrey Tobin wrote about “Justice Scalia’s Shameful Joke":
There was a shocking, ugly moment during the argument of Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case, in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Right after Mary Bonauto, the lawyer challenging marriage bans in several states, completed her argument, a spectator rose from a back row and started screaming, “If you support gay marriage, you will burn in Hell!” As the man yelled, “It’s an abomination!,” guards carried him from the courtroom
That wasn’t the ugly part, though. In the quiet moment after the man was removed, as his shouts vanished into the hallway, Justice Antonin Scalia filled the silence with a quip. “It was rather refreshing, actually,” he said.
It may have been just a joke from the senior Associate Justice on the Court, but what kind of joke—or was it really a joke at all? Scalia probably did think that the directness of the protester was bracing—“refreshing.” Indeed, there’s every reason to believe that Scalia more or less shared the protester’s view of the immorality of homosexuality, and that he regards the Court’s toleration of gay people as one of the great disasters of his nearly three decades as a Justice.
Nicole Anslover’s students discussed Diane Sawyer’s interview with Bruce Jenner last Friday on ABC’s 20/20 and noted not only how woefully ignorant Sawyer appeared to be about transgenders but how she seemed fixated on questions of plumbing and sexual preference. I described the media circus when Renée Richards (formerly Richard Raskind) played in the 1977 U.S. Open after a court overruled tennis officials who had prevented her from competing the previous year (the same year Jenner was Associated Press athlete of the year after winning Olympic gold in the decathlon, the ultimate test of speed, strength, and stamina.
One student related how being in the LGB group Rainbow Serenity opened her eyes to what it meant being transgender. Another, a member of Rainbow Connectionz, contrasted the welcoming atmosphere on the Bloomington campus, including gender-neutral bathrooms, with the high level of ignorance at branch campuses.
At lunch I told Jonathyne Briggs he reminded me of Robert Downy, Jr. A guy at the next table must have heard me and looked over. “I hope not when he was a dope addict in the 1990s,” Jon replied. At his recent fiftieth birthday party Downy had Duran Duran and Steely Dan perform.
Jack Bloom asked for comments on an essay entitled “Class, Race, and the Rise of the New Right.” He discussed Republican use of code words and bogus issues to disguise their appeals to racists, such as “welfare cheats,” “crime in the streets,” “reverse racism,” and “voter fraud.” I suggested an additional one, “forced busing.”
In an email titled “Sine Die” legislative intern Marla Gee reported on the conclusion of the Indiana legislative session:
Last night we were here until 10:30. Tonight, they are predicting midnight. I’m hanging tough. As usual I never wake up in enough time to fix lunch, and so today it will be a diet of Ritz Crackers that I keep in my desk, and a block of Kraft Mild Cheddar that I keep in the community fridge. I think I have enough tea bags, instant coffee, and sugar packets to hold me well into the night, and I have to remember to grab a ½ pint of milk from the snack bar at the end of the hall before they close at 4:00. (I can stand my tea without milk, but I can’t tolerate coffee without large quantities of milk and sugar!) Dr. Vernon Smith left gifts of big milk chocolate bars advertising Indiana University for all the interns, and so that will be on my menu as well! Ankles are still swollen from last night. When I’m in my office and not in Chambers, my shoes are off… Bottom line is, this is it. Everything has to be passed, including the budget, by midnight tonight. Last count was that there were still 36 bills remaining for final action in the House.
Lunched with both of my reps this week (Gail Riecken of Evansville, and Clyde Kersey and his wife, from Terre Haute). Very sweet, very warm people - - I was lucky in that regard. During our dinner break last night I attended a Sine Die party hosted by the Black Caucus. It was somewhat abbreviated because the interns had to be back within the hour, but it was a nice gathering. Great chicken wings! Today there are also several picture-taking sessions going on in Chambers, once they get a break, and I’ll go up and have the photos taken with my reps and the Black Caucus. It’s kinda corny, and I hate having my picture taken, but in this instance I think they will be nice mementos.
Will no doubt drag myself in here tomorrow morning at 8:00 and try to tidy up. It’s amazing how messy my desk can get in just a few short months. I started here right after Christmas, December 29th, remember? Seems so long ago. I have no idea what we will be doing Friday; I’m guessing an extended lunch and lots of goodbyes. Turning in my keys and I.D. security badge. I will miss this beautiful old mansion with its marble floors that are killing my knees. I will miss most of the people I have encountered here, some more than others. And although I know it’s wrong, I will always think of my fellow interns as My Kids. They are all very bright, ambitious young adults…but they’re still My Kids. When 4:30 rolls around, I’m hauling ass over to the Greyhound station and I AM COMING HOME!!!! Most of my stuff is winter stuff, and so my sister and her husband have promised to bring the heavy coats and scarves and gloves the next time they come to Gary, so I won’t have to deal with trying to transport major luggage on the bus Friday night.
My bowling banquet was bittersweet since several teams, including my Electrical Engineers, won’t be back next year. Rob, Dick, and Frank want to bowl in a daytime league, so I guess I’ll join them. Mel and John will try to join another team, perhaps The Big Hurt. With camera in hand I took photos of my favorite opposing team, the Dingbats, and league champs, Friends for Life. Crude as always, James Smith asked, “What are you going to do, masturbate to it?” Jokester Duke Caminsky, overhearing Mel ask whether I planned to be first in the chow line again, cut in front of me and later pilfered my cupcake. Our teammate two years ago, Duke hopefully will consider becoming an Engineer again on Thursday afternoons.
above, downtown Gary (circa 1920); below, South Shore Train in Miller (1963)
Mel’s neighbor Oscar Cobb plans to revisit the Archives to read up on interurbans in operation early in the twentieth century. Gary Railways linked virtually every community in Lake County, and the South Shore, still in existence, took passengers to Chicago and as far east as South Bend. Railroad historian William D. Middleton wrote:
One of the most colorful chapters in the history of transportation in North America was that of the electric interurban railway. Interurbans provided a form of fast, frequent, and inexpensive transportation that helped bridge the gap between the horse and buggy era in rural America and the modern age of paved highways and the family automobile. Constructed during scarcely two decades of boundless enthusiasm and almost reckless promotion, the interurban railway industry had reached its peak by the end of World War I, when nearly 10,000 interurban cars operated over a network of more than 18,000 miles in almost every state of the Union. After a period of prosperity that was tragically brief, the interurbans began an abrupt decline and within another two decades had ceased to represent a significant force in American transportation
At a SPEA Public Affairs forum on “Race and the Criminal Justice System,” East Chicago police chief Mark J. Becker, a former FBI agent and Portage chief, gave a no-nonsense talk about the need for mutual respect between policemen and the community, admitting that cops first and foremost are going to look out for their own safety. During introductions he got a laugh when he said he left Portage because he didn’t like the mayor (James Snyder) and the mayor didn’t like him. First Assistant U.S. Attorney for Northern Indiana Clifford Johnson said that police must understand that suspects may have disabilities that prevent them from obeying all commands, such as putting their hands over their head. Johnson has told an African-American son never to argue when stopped by a cop – the same advice that New York City police castigated Mayor Bill de Blasio for admitting after the death of Eric Garner, placed in a chokehold for selling untaxed cigarettes. I wanted to ask Becker what he thought of the NYC police who turned their backs to de Blasio at a stricken officer’s funeral, but there wasn’t time for audience participation.
Clifford Johnson’s boss, U.S. Attorney David A. Capp, lamented that it costs the government more than $30,000 a year to incarcerate federal prisoners but bragged that over 97 percent of the cases his office has prosecuted have resulted in convictions. Left unsaid was how many were the result of plea-bargains coerced due to the vast range of offenses U.S. Attorneys can threaten their victims with, including the all-embracing vagaries of what constitutes a cover-up. George Van Til, now in prison, was even charged with wire fraud because his employees, who allegedly engaged in political errands, got paid via direct deposit. WTF?
Among the baker’s dozen of nominees for Diversity awards, the four I know are all deserving. They include student adviser Beth LaDuke, Minority Studies prof Raoul Contreras, Student Affairs administrator Mary Lee, and HELP Desk operator Lena Williams. They are all friendly and competent. Contreras was a winner, along with articulate Brothers 2 Brothers student David King, Jr., and former IUN Director of the Institute for Innovative Leadership Keith Kirkpatrick.
Hollis Donald passed along a “Happy Mother’s Day” poem that contains these lines:
You were there – the doctor on call
I always will remember your cold remedy
and “time to go to bed.”
You said, “Be careful what you say
a little bird will hear
and spread it everywhere, my dear.”
Years have passed, but that foundation lasts.