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    Ann Rostow: Paging Dr. Doolittle

    By Ann Rostow–

    Paging Dr. Doolittle

    I don’t know where to start this morning, as my mind is filled with shards of insignificant story bits and pieces that lack any deeper meaning. What do I make, for example, of the headline: “Trans athlete claims lesbians are transphobic for not liking penises?” It seemed promising, but it’s just an oddball trans athlete with bizarre opinions, including the general notion that the only “moral” sexual orientation is pan sexuality, because everyone else is guilty of having “sexual genital preferences.” Okay then! Immoral it is.

    I also stumbled over the story of a British Member of Parliament, Dawn Butler, who gave what the Daily Mail described as an “alarmingly meandering and sweary after-dinner speech for online LGBT newspaper PinkNews” the other day. Butler was technically advocating on our behalf, but the tipsy Labour MP also reportedly went off on a rambling tangent about gay giraffes. 

    “If you can teach gayness, then who speaks giraffe? Ninety percent of giraffes are gay. So who the hell speaks giraffe, what does that sound like?” Butler asked her presumably perplexed audience, waving her hands around to make her point. “You can’t teach it, and it’s not a disease either. Being who you are and your true, authentic self is not a disease.” Hear hear!

    By the way, an article from a few months ago explains that female giraffes are only fertile for a few days every year, so the male giraffes like to mess around with each other in the interim. Are they gay or just bored? Who can say, since as MP Butler correctly observes, none of us speak giraffe so we cannot ask them directly. 

    Oh, and speaking of gay creatures, I have sad news out of the Berlin Zoo, where the egg that was tended by gay penguins Skipper and Ping broke a couple of months ago and turned out to have been a dud. Keepers had given an abandoned egg to the would-be parents, but had no way of knowing whether or not it had been fertilized. The two penguins, who had previously tried to hatch a rock and a fish without success, were extremely diligent in their nesting, but again to no avail. 

    Well, I think you see my problem. Where’s the gestalt? What’s my purpose here? Where do I go now? Impeachment? The transphobia embedded in the marketing of feminine hygiene products? Some gay outreach from Kellogg’s cereal? Legal news? I’m literally at my wit’s end.

    SCOTUS Notice

    Okay, okay. Legal news it is!

    I have New York Law School professor Art Leonard to thank for the news that the High Court has denied review on a case out of New York, where the state appellate court gave primary custody of twins to the unmarried same-sex partner of their biological father. The two men had raised the kids together until they broke up, at which point the bio-Dad took the twins off to Florida without consulting his ex.

    You may recall the many legal dramas surrounding acrimonious lesbian breakups back before marriage became an option. Some biological mothers used the kids in a hostile tug of war with their former lovers, relying on the conventional legal wisdom that biological parents have a fundamental claim on their kids unless they are deemed unfit. Eventually, many courts recognized that the overarching emphasis on the best interests of a child should govern such disputes, and many courts in turn recognized that some ex-partners had formed deep bonds with their children that could not be severed without causing distress. After 2015, these cases became rare as same-sex couples married and as their divorces and custody battles became regulated.  

    In this New York case, the recent precedents weighed in favor of the non-biological Dad. After the state’s high court declined to review the matter, the biological Dad (represented by some antigay lawyers) asked the High Court to take the case and basically renounce recognition of non-married parents as a rule. The High Court has not examined these kinds of parenting cases, and given the rightward slant of the current panel, we don’t particularly want them sticking their noses into the affairs of same-sex families. So it’s all good. 

    Good Cop, Bad Cop

    In other legal news, a gay Missouri police sergeant has won some $20 million in damages after years of antigay discrimination on the job. A jury in St. Louis awarded Keith Wildhaber, 47, roughly $10 million in damages after he was turned down for 23 promotions in a six-year period, The New York Times reported. He was also awarded another $10 million after the force retaliated against him once he took the police to court. As the foreman told the Times: “We wanted to send a message. If you discriminate, you’re going to pay a big price.”

    Interestingly, the story was linked to a headline from last June: “Do the police belong at Pride? Marches face a difficult question.”

    I was vaguely aware that some Pride organizations around the country and in Canada had debated whether or not to allow police contingents in their parades, although I’m not sure that the cops were actively banned in any city with the exception of Toronto. Part of the rationale seems to stem from the fact that the Stonewall riots, which we celebrate at Pride, pitted the GLBT community against the New York City Police. 

    I’ve always felt that the police contingents in our parades reflect the fact that, after half a century, we have healed that rift. Second, the idea that police are intrinsically hostile is not just sophomoric; it’s a stereotype and a generalization. Need we remind ourselves why stereotypes and generalizations are not our thing? Finally, there are gay police like Sergeant Wildhaber in those parade groups. 

    I guess one city let the police join in as long as they didn’t wear uniforms. But where’s the fun in that?

    Running Up That Hill

    Count me on the side of Rep. Katie Hill, the bisexual Congresswoman who was essentially hounded out of office after her ex-husband took and posted sexy pics of Hill and a female campaign staffer on the Internet. Hill was also suspected of sleeping with Graham Kelly, her legislative aide, although she adamantly denied the tryst.

    But unlike the “me too” scandals, Hill has not been accused of any sexual abuse, pressure, or inappropriate shenanigans. So why did she feel compelled to resign? The answer is that what is fun and games for a straight male politician is a humiliating scandal for a bi female. Sorry, Katie. 

    That said, why does anyone allow another person to take “intimate” photos to begin with? What’s the point of them? To relive the magic moment when you’re alone? To share the happy memories together down the road? To save money on porn purchases by creating your own personal anthology? I mean seriously. Why? I guess in this case we had a third party behind the camera, which makes more sense logistically, but again. To what end?

    Frankly, I’m not a big fan of memorializing every precious detail of one’s life to begin with. I suppose it’s a generational thing, but I prefer to keep my recollections in my own head and bring them out when appropriate so my friends can benefit from my exaggerated version of events. 

    Back in the day, a camera shot was planned to the extent that you could smile or toss your hair before the moment froze for posterity. And then when the film came back you might have had a chance to grab unflattering images and destroy them before they found their way into some scrapbook. I still have not forgiven a certain family member for Facebook-tagging a shot of me asleep on the couch looking like a beached whale, which was then remarked upon by dozens of high school friends whom I hadn’t seen in decades. (It had an adorable child in the picture, and the family member in question mistakenly thought the tableau was cute. It was not.) 

    Ah, Pamela

    Enough of that subject. I just read a touching article in The New York Times about a well-known Harvard Law Professor with Alzheimer’s named Charles Ogletree and his wife of many years, Pamela. 

    Why did I read this article, you ask? 

    Well, do you remember that Trump had a rally in Minneapolis a few weeks back? I guess some activists managed to obtain one of the Tump baby blimps for the occasion, and they set it up to drift over the roof of The Saloon bar. The story got onto social media, where another Pamela Ogletree remarked in the comment section:

    “The Saloon has lost my business.”

    This Pamela Ogletree is a little old lady with gray hair who hails from Olivia, Minnesota, population 2,500. Among the responses to her huffy announcement was the terse reply: “It’s a gay bar, Pamela.” That became a meme, and now you can even buy yourself a T-shirt adorned with the phrase.

    I’m sorry, but you can just imagine Pamela Ogletree of Olivia, Minnesota, pursing her lips as she scrolls through a feed on the giant PC monitor that her grandson Bryan set up in her kitchen last year. 

    Pamela frowns as she reads about the Trump baby blimp. How disrespectful to our president! That “Saloon” place is never getting a dime from me! Dollars and cents. Now that’s something they can understand. I might even let them know. Give them something to think about. She harrumphs under her breath and types out her comment.

    At any rate, I was looking for more information about “It’s a gay bay, Pamela” when I found several other nice-sounding Pamela Ogletrees, including the Harvard Pamela. Sad story.

    Here Comes the Judge

    Speaking of parents, I would imagine you could sell a made-for-TV movie based on the case of the seven-year-old child of Anne Georgulas and Jeffrey Younger, whose marriage was annulled after four years in 2016. The couple had twins, and one of the twins identifies as a transgirl, Luna, with her mother and a boy, James, with his father. Their custody battle seemed resolved when an 11–1 jury sided with the mother on October 22. Two days later, a judge in charge of reviewing the decision decided that both parents should share custody and hash out the child’s future between them. Oh, thanks for that, your honor. Very helpful.

    I know I’m biased, but from what I’ve read, Georgulas, who is a pediatrician, is not deliberately trying to force her son to become a girl. No one does that. Younger, on the other hand, seems clearly driven to make sure James outgrows this silly transgender nonsense. His claim that James loves being a boy when he’s with Dad makes perfect sense as well. What seven-year-old from a broken home wouldn’t try to please both parents? Indeed, when interviewed without parents, Luna told a social worker that she would like to be a girl and that Dad forces her into boy’s clothes.

    Texas officials have gone nuts over this story, insisting that no child that age should be forced into a life altering gender change. But of course no one is suggesting that Luna take hormones or undergo any medical treatment, only that the kid be allowed to grow up in a welcoming atmosphere and explore gender roles in age appropriate ways. Lord knows what will happen now that the lengthy custody fight has ended in a draw.

    By the way, do you remember the bizarre case of the Minnesota woman who sued her estranged trans-daughter, along with several institutions, after the girl transitioned without Mom’s permission? The girl managed to emancipate herself at age 15, in a process that was respected by her school and the county health services. Her mother launched legal action, but lost her case in federal court and again before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The mother, Anmarie Calgaro, petitioned the Supreme Court to review the situation, but happily, the Court rejected the case the other day. Calgaro’s daughter is now over 18, so the case is moot.