Feminist Fix: The State of Resistance in Texas, a Mini-Doc on the ERA and the AGs Fighting for DACA

Welcome to Feminist Fix, our weekly round-up of feminist stories and headlines. Get caught up before the weekend!

Feminist News

+ 20 Attorneys General are urging Trump to keep DACA in place. (Here’s Feministing’s guide to everything you need to know about DACA.)

+ Britain just made it easier for trans folks to change their legal gender.

+ A GOP consultant thinks Kid Rock will win his race for a Senate seat if he manages not to “beat up a woman between now and August.”

+ Remember the Afghan girls who weren’t allowed into the U.S. to compete in a robotics competition? Thanks to the tireless work of feminist activists, they were granted entry and competed.

+ Why does Anthony Scaramucci keep making hair and makeup jokes?

+ Planned Parenthood cuts would be a big loss for LGBT folks.

+ Trumpcare has hit some parliamentary road blocks in the Senate.

+ Texas Republicans are “subverting” the Democratic process in their rush to pass anti-woman, anti-LGBT legislation.

Movers & Shakers

+ This former Buddhist monk is now a queer icon in Tibet:

Tenzin Mariko thought she would be quickly booed offstage when she decided to make her first public appearance as a performer at the 2015 Miss Tibet pageant in Dharamsala. Her apprehension stemmed from the fact that she is the first openly transgender woman in the Tibetan community.

Mariko, a former Buddhist monk, had been the subject of much ridicule only the previous year, when a video of her – dancing unabashedly at a friend’s wedding in New Delhi, wearing women’s clothing and a wig – had gone viral amongst the Tibetan community on WeChat.

Having been identified as the person in the clip— a suggestion she vehemently denied at the time— she was berated by people in Dharamsala, her hometown, for what they deemed “improper conduct” and unbefitting a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Some called her insulting names, including “Pholo-molo,” a derogatory Tibetan term for transgender that translates as “neither male nor female”. Neighbours reproached her parents for not being wary of their child’s activities.

A year later, she was standing in front of the same crowd, dressed in a long green skirt, a sleeveless white top and heels, no longer wanting to hide.

+ Senator Kirsten Gillibrand talks to Bustle:

+ Melinda Gates on Washington state’s Paid Family Leave Act and the power of working together:

The United States is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee workers any form of paid leave. In fact, many women don’t even get a paid day off to have a child.

But starting in 2020, Washington’s workers will be able to take up to 16 weeks paid leave, which gives them the time they need to tend to their loved ones. The wage replacement, up to $1,000 a week, means people will be able to support themselves while taking advantage of the policy.

The eligibility criteria are flexible: new parents, people caring for a sick relative and people fighting a severe illness are covered.

Finally, the way the paid leave is funded is sensible and fair. Employees and employers share the costs, and small-business owners receive extra support so they don’t struggle when an employee needs to take leave.

But just as important as the policy itself is the way Washington arrived at it. The bill was passed with strong bipartisan support, including sponsors from both parties. A Democratic governor, a Republican Senate and a Democratic House rallied around the law.

The collaboration didn’t stop with our elected officials. Businesses large and small, labor and advocacy groups across Washington saw the need for paid leave, and they worked together with legislators to design a bill they could support.

The reason for so many strange bedfellows is that paid leave helps so many different people meet so many different, pressing needs.

+ Katie Klabusich talked to Kit O’Connell about the state of the resistance in Texas.

+ Varina Winder on why she resigned from the State Department:

Over the last six years, my colleagues and I partnered with others in government, civil society and the private sector to maximize our office’s tiny budget.  We’ve invested in countless women entrepreneurs, helping to grow small businesses and create jobs all over the world. Women reinvest up to 90 percent of their earnings back into their families, leading to better educated children, healthier mothers, and growing economies: the foundations for a more stable, less violent world.

We built up local capacity to collect and document forensic evidence for the prosecution of perpetrators of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s least secure countries. A leadership development program for women in Sierra Leone led to these same women becoming the country’s frontline fighters against the Ebola epidemic. Ebola, which caused a global panic and killed 11,000 people, could have easily killed tens of thousands more. We catalyzed the public abandonment of female genital mutilation/cutting in 200+ villages, ensuring that a new generation of girls is not submitted to a practice that can cause acute and chronic infection, increased risk of HIV transmission, and even death.

As civil servants, my colleagues and I entered government to serve the American public and American interests, not a particular administration. Making evidenced-based policy decisions, advancing democracy, and defending human rights are American values – not the purview of either political party.

While there have been many painful and embarrassing mistakes since January 20, 2017, there has been nothing more shocking for me personally than this new administration’s callous disregard for women and for human life.

Deep Dives

+ Melissa Gira Grant explores how ICE is using prostitution diversion courts to stalk immigrants:

The plainclothes immigration agents refused to produce identification, according to Mogulescu. She approached one of the agents, who she said told her his last name was Lee and that he was there for several women in AP8, though he would not say whom — nor did he produce warrants or any paperwork for those women. Later that day, Legal Aid staff said, they saw that the same ICE team had taken two other people into custody from outside the Queens courthouse. Once it appeared ICE was gone, they asked for the Chinese woman’s case to be called again. She was then released from custody.

ICE’s attempt to arrest this woman made local headlines, but the stories had few details about the agency’s target. She had been arrested by the NYPD in February in Queens and charged with prostitution and practicing massage without a license, a common allegation after police raid massage parlors. This arrest is how she ended up in AP8, one of New York’s human trafficking intervention courts, and how she came to be described in statements to the press as a victim of human trafficking — though she had made no statements of her own.

A human trafficking intervention court does not prosecute people for trafficking. The “intervention” in the name begins with vice officers, after they place someone accused of prostitution offenses in handcuffs. “By and large, we work under the assumption that anyone who’s charged with this kind of crime is trafficked in some way,” Judge Judy Harris Kluger, one of the court’s prominent advocates, told the City Council in 2013. The courts, she has written, are meant to treat those arrested as “victims, not defendants.”

Now ICE has signaled that it will use the trafficking courts as a way to stalk immigrants.

+ This is your voting laws round-up for 2017. So far.

+ Buzzfeed’s Ali Vingiano makes the case for why we need to #PassTheERA in this mini-doc:

+ We need to rewrite development models under Trump.

The development sector isn’t doing too well. In the United States, President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to foreign aid and development have sent most U.S.-based NGOs into panic mode, leaving them stranded in a funding model that, stripped of government contributions, no longer meets their organizational needs.

Last month, the administration’s new budget revealed 32% overall cuts to the International Affairs Budget – also known as the Function 150 Account. The new budget nullifies the “International Organizations and Programs” line item, among others. The rationale behind this? The administration “seeks to reduce or end direct funding to international organizations whose missions do not substantially advance U.S. foreign policy interests, are duplicative, or are not well-managed.” While no one knows for sure how this will affect funding for NGOs, there is reason to believe this will have a devastating effect on many within the industry. Needless to say, the industry is holding its breath.

+ These are the stories of Haitian refugees who have made a home and found safer shores in the U.S. (President Trump wants them out.)

In Haiti, 26-year-old Marie struggled to make ends meet. Unlike many in the northern city of Gonaïves, where she lives, she did have a paying job—she was a secretary for a transportation company—but after buying groceries and caring for her ailing mother, her monthly paycheck was gone. 

Marie thought that if she could work for a few months in the United States, she might be able to save up enough money to ease life back home. So in October 2016, she obtained a B2 tourist visa that allows her to travel within the United States for a limited period of time. After saving up money for a plane ticket, she arrived in New York in May. Though the visa doesn’t expire until January 2021, she’s only authorized to remain until November.

I’m scared to go back,” Marie tells me. “It’s not that I don’t like my country, but Haiti can’t offer me anything.”

Media, Arts & Culture

+ The 2017 VMA nominations are more progressive than ever.

+ Here she is! A first look at the female Captain Marvel, in all of her glory.

+ These are the 150 best albums made by women, according to the women of NPR.

A League of Their Own is 25 this year. We need it more than ever.

Meet the loud, fearless and feminist women Of London’s women’s wrestling scene.

Girls Trip shows the impact—and importance—of diverse, female-led media.




Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|carmenfuckingrios.com