CVIndependent

Fri11272020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

Today was one of the biggest COVID-19-related news days in quite a while, so let’s get right to the links:

Reopening processes around the country—and in some parts of California—are coming to a halt or being reversed, due to increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. In Texas and Florida, bars are being closed, and other business are being restricted.

San Francisco was planning on allowing hair salons, outdoor bars and other businesses to open on Monday. That move has been delayed indefinitely.

• And most worrisome locally: For the first time since the reopening process began, the state has told a county that it needs to re-impose a strict stay-at-home order—Imperial County, our neighbors to the southeast. And another neighboring county, San Bernardino, is close to running out of non-surge hospital beds

Riverside County is behind the curve at hiring contact tracers. The good news is that as of yesterday, the county was up to 220 of them, with 180 added in the last five weeks, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. However, the state says we need around 375 of them.

• Dr. Anthony Fauci said the federal government is considering a new way of testing for SARS-CoV-2—pool testing. “The approach works this way: Samples from, say, 20 people are combined into a single pool,” reports The Washington Post. “One coronavirus test is used on the entire pool. If the test comes back negative, researchers know they can move on to another pool of samples. If it comes back positive, only then would each individual be tested.

A Tucson emergency room doctor penned a column for The New York Times with this headline: “I’m a Health Care Worker. You Need to Know How Close We Are to Breaking.”

• While the state-by-state numbers here are probably too small to take too seriously … a recent Axios/Ipsos poll shows that 64 percent of Californians wear masks whenever they go outthe second highest percentage behind New York.

• A JPMorgan study shows a correlation between restaurant spending and the spread of the coronavirus, according to CNBC—and, conversely, “higher spending at supermarkets predicts a slower spread of the virus.” However, experts point out that this doesn’t necessarily mean restaurants are to blame for the spread.

• Also according to CNBC: The number of homeowners delaying their monthly mortgage payments is on the rise again, after falling for several weeks.

Can you shop safely in a brick-and-mortar clothing store? Esquire talked to some experts to get answers. Key quote from Erin Bromage, associate professor of biology and immunology at the University of Massachusetts: “It comes down to how long you spend in the store and how many people are in the store. If you are only in there for a short period of time, and they’re restricting occupancy, then the risk is low.”

From our partners at CalMatters, via the Independent: University of California campuses are telling students to prepare for a fall semester that will mostly—but not entirely—take place online.

• We’re now moving to our WTF?! portion of the digest, starting with the news that American Airlines is going to stop keeping middle seats open, and resume booking flights to capacity.

• It’s not often that I’ve wanted to tip my hat to Dick Cheney, but here we are: He says that real men wear face masks.

• Did you know North Carolina has an anti-mask law? It’s true—and it’s caused no small degree of confusion. It turns out the law is a decades-old measure meant to crack down on the KKK—but thankfully, it’s been temporarily suspended, at least through Aug. 1.

• Finally, this story is particularly devastating news to those of us here at Independent World Headquarters: Costco has stopped making half-sheet cakes. DAMN YOU ’RONA! DAMN YOU!!!

• No … we take back that “finally”; we can’t end the week on that awful note. So here’s some good news: San Francisco’s Transgender District was “the first legally recognized district in the world dedicated to a historically transgender community.” The economic downturn almost forced the nonprofit to close—but then came the Black Lives Matter protests. Now, the Transgender District is on firmer footing, as “the two movements have converged in a kind of intersectional synchronicity that is bringing renewed attention to the realities of transgender people of color,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Readers, these are scary times. Please, take care of yourself this weekend. Wear a mask when you go out. Check in on neighbors and loved ones. Live in the now and enjoy life, because these days still count against the total number you have on this planet. Right? Oh, and help out the Independent, if you’re able, by becoming a Supporter of the Independent. The Daily Digest will return Monday.

Published in Daily Digest

Happy Friday, everyone.

I have to warn you that today’s Daily Digest is pretty depressing … so proceed with caution. I am sorry to send you off into the weekend with such concerning news, but that’s my job—so here we go.

Today’s news:

• My friends, I beg of you: Please take precautions against COVID-19. As more and more of the Coachella Valley reopens, the numbers are getting worse and worse. The number of COVID-19 patients at Eisenhower Medical Center as of Wednesday is nearly twice as high as it had ever been before an uptick in cases began there around the start of the month

• Horrifyingly related: The Los Angeles Times reports that some people are so opposed to the idea of wearing masks, they’re lashing out in crazy ways. In fact, Orange County’s health officer resigned after receiving a death threat related to her since-rescinded mask order. I just don’t understand some people.

• Also related: The CDC made it very clear today that if you’re going to be part of a large gathering, you really should be wearing a mask.

• Meanwhile, San Bernardino County is on the state watch list due to alarming COVID-19 increases there. (Based on what I am seeing, I would not be surprised to see Riverside County on this list soon.)

A senior care community in Rancho Mirage is dealing with an outbreak.

• Scientists are examining the possibility that a mutation in the coronavirus may allow it to infect more cells. However, scientists aren’t even sure what that would mean if it were true.

• However, the reopening process rolls on: Nail salons, tattoo parlors and massage businesses can reopen a week from today in counties that give the OK.

• Augustine Casino deserves credit for being the first area casino to close, the last to reopen, and for taking social distancing so seriously that table games have been removed for the time being. The Coachella casino will open its doors on Monday.

• Lawmakers are upset about all of the executive orders Gov. Newsom has issued since the pandemic began—and some of them are fighting back. In fact, in response to a suit filed by two Republican legislators, a Sutter County judge put a hold on his order to send a mail ballot to all registered voters for this November’s election.

• Some hope is provided by this University of Chicago poll, showing that the vast majority of Americans insist they’re taking the necessary precautions during the pandemic.

• However, these findings from that poll conflict with cell-phone data showing that in some parts of the country, people are moving around as much as—or even more than—they were before the pandemic began.

• It’s theoretically possible that a smart phone could be used to test for COVID-19. How? ZDNet explains.

• Even though movie theaters have gotten the go-ahead to start reopening in California and some other states, the studios keep delaying major movie releasesincluding some big delays announced today.

• Due in part to systemic racism, COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn has killed off 41 percent of Black-owned businesses in the U.S., according to research out of UC Santa Cruz.

Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes released a statement following the squabble between his officers’ union and Palm Springs City Councilmember Christy Holstege, as well as last night’s City Council meeting. Key quote: “We must discuss our history to have a better understanding and we must be willing to discuss current real or perceived experiences of racism within our community and police department. This must occur if we have any hope for meaningful change. I am confident the Palm Springs Police Officers Association, our City Council and our community will work on this very important issue as we move forward.

Netflix has released a new special by Dave Chappellefilmed just six days ago. Early reviews say the set by the renowned comedian—in which he discusses the killing of George Floyd and the resulting protests—is quite powerful.

• And finally, the Trump administration continues to show how inhumane it is by erasing protections for transgender people against discrimination from the health-care industry. This was announced on the fourth anniversary of the massacre at Pulse Nightclub. Happy Pride Month.

That’s the news for the week. Live in the now, and enjoy yourself this weekend—in a responsible fashion, of course. If you have the means, please consider helping us produce quality local journalism, made available free to all, by becoming a Supporter of the Independent. We’ll be back Monday—and in the meantime, watch CVIndependent.com over the weekend for some excellent new stories.

Published in Daily Digest

My boyfriend and I were having relationship issues until we tried something new: pegging. He wanted to try it, but he was afraid and sometimes said the idea disgusted him. Then we tried it … and it was better than normal vanilla or even kinky bondage sex. It was the most emotionally connected sex we’ve ever had. I actually pegged him three times in 24 hours.

He says now he wants to be “the girl” in our relationship. He doesn’t want to transition to become a girl, but to be more “the girl” sexually and emotionally. I see this as sexy and loving. I’ve always taken care of him in a nurturing way, but this adds so much more.

I feel bad about sending this long story just to ask a simple question, but … how do I be more “the guy” for my boyfriend who wants to be more “the girl”? Not just sexually, but in everyday life?

The Boyfriend Experience

“It’s amazing these two found each other,” said Key Barrett, a trained anthropologist. “They communicate and obviously create spaces to be vulnerable together and explore.”

Barrett has studied female-led relationships (FLR) and written books—fiction and nonfiction—about them, TBE, and his first concern was your boyfriend succumbing to “sub-frenzy,” or a burning desire to realize all his fantasies at once. You guys aren’t new to kink—you mention bondage—but you’ve found something that taps into some deep-seated desires, and you don’t want to move too fast.

“Pegging opened up a huge box of shiny new emotions and feelings,” said Barrett. “That’s great, but they should take it slow, especially if they want this dynamic to be a part of the day-to-day relationship.”

You also need to bear in mind that pegging, while wonderful, won’t solve your underlying (and unspecified) “relationship issues.” Unless, of course, the issue was your boyfriend feeling anxious about asking you to peg him. If he was worried about walking back his previous comments, or worried you would judge, shame, or dump him over this, that could have been the cause of your conflict, and the pegging—by some miracle—was the solution.

But, hey, you didn’t ask about those other issues—you didn’t even name them—so let’s focus on your actual question: you being “the guy,” and your boyfriend being “the girl.”

“The boyfriend wants TBE to be ‘the guy’ in the relationship to reinforce his desire to be ‘the girl,’” said Barrett, “and she seems OK with this, although she does acknowledge that this would require more than the nurturing and caretaking she’s already showed toward him. That’s a valid concern. His desire to take the kink out of the bedroom and merge it with the day-to-day risks turning her into a kink dispenser. There’s also the aspect of the boyfriend’s gender stereotyping. Being dominant isn’t unique to men, and being submissive isn’t a ‘feminine’ trait. There are a lot of alpha men in FLRs who shine in support roles for the women they trust. Female-led relationships don’t rely on stereotypes. Indeed, they often flout them by relying not on stereotypical behaviors, but on what is a natural dynamic for the couple. In that sense, each FLR is unique.”

While it’s possible that the phrase “I want to be the girl” is the only thing your boyfriend has to describe the dynamic that turns him on, for some men, sacrificing their “male” power and privilege is an intrinsic part of the eroticism of submitting to a dominant woman. And that’s OK, too.

“If he legitimately wants to take on a role of supporting her and being her adoring submissive partner while thinking of that role as ‘feminine,’ it could work for them,” said Barrett. “He might really enjoy supporting her decisions and being more of a domestic partner. She might enjoy the support and validation that comes from having a partner who revels in her successes and strength. This could fulfill the ‘caring for him as if I were the boyfriend’ portion (what a loving a statement!) while still feeling natural for TBE.”

So how can you get started as “the guy” in this relationship?

“They should, again, start small,” said Barrett. “Maybe delegate a few tasks that were ‘hers’ to him, and she can tell him how she wants them done,” whatever it is (dishes? laundry? cocksucking?), “as this will help ensure the outcome they both want. I would also recommend they both read about what FLRs are and aren’t. FLRs are often kink-friendly, but kink is not required. And they need to remember the key word in ‘female-led relationship’ is ‘relationship.’”

Follow Key Barrett on Twitter @KeyBarrettMSc.


I’m a woman, and I was contacted on an app by someone claiming to be a “guydyke.” Based on their profile pictures, I was basically looking at a white, cis, masc-presenting man who’s said he is queer but only attracted to women. And by masc-presenting, I mean I could not pick him out of a lineup of the most average of average-looking straight dudes: drab clothes, a week’s stubble, bad haircut. Granted, nobody is obliged to announce their gender identity through clothing or grooming choices, but how is this guy not straight?

Perplexed

“I happen to be one of those ‘old-school’ lesbians, despite not actually being what most consider to be old,” said Arielle Scarcella, a popular lesbian YouTuber (youtube.com/Arielle) with more than 600,000 subscribers. “Back when I was coming out in 2005, if a male person who lived as a man—a male who lived in such a way that he was always perceived to be a man—claimed he was a lesbian or a dyke, we’d shut them down. But in 2020, it’s only acceptable to accept everyone for what they say they are. I disagree. Part of being a lesbian, being a woman, is also cultural and societal. It’s not simply an identity. Living in the world as a woman matters. A biological male who presents as a man and has sex only with women will never know what it’s like to be treated as a woman or a lesbian. He can identify however he likes, of course, but he will be perceived as a straight man who’s fetishizing queer women.”


I’m in my late 20s and genderfluid. I have a male physique, but at times I feel more feminine.

I suddenly can’t shake the desire to have more-feminine breasts. I’ve been looking at women with C or D cups and wishing I had boobs that big. I’ve spent time looking into breast enhancement, but I live in the Midwest. It’s not as bad as the South, but there are still plenty of people who believe violating gender norms is a sin. I guess I don’t know what I’m trying to ask other than whether this is normal.

Bro Obsessed Over Bust Size

It’s not normal—in the literal, non-pejorative sense—for an “assigned male at birth” person who presents as male to want to slap large boobs on his otherwise male-presenting physique. But so what? If you’re worried about how your boobs will be received there in the Midwest, perhaps you could get yourself a pair of what drag queens call “chicken cutlets,” i.e., silicone breasts enhancers that tuck into a bra, and try wearing them out.

For the record, kids, I’m not equating being genderfluid with drag, even though many drag queens (but not all) identify as genderfluid, and many genderfluid people (but not all) do drag. (I never get tired of tap-dancing my way through this minefield.) But back when I was doing drag, BOOBS, a pair of chicken cutlets artfully placed under my pecs created a pretty realistic looking set of big ol’ titties. Think of chicken cutlets as a temporary, nonsurgical breast-enhancement option—to test the locals as well as your desire to have breasts.

On the Lovecast, spanking is for grown-ups! With Jillian Keenan: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter.

Published in Savage Love

I have a question about porn, and I can’t think who else I can ask who will give me an intelligent, educated answer. In modern porn, anal on women is gaining popularity. I’m a fan of anal with my boyfriend. However, in porn, it seems like the gaping asshole is a thing—a sought-after thing, a desired thing. And I guess my boyfriend and I don’t get it.

We can get quite vigorous when we have anal sex, but MY butthole never gapes open like that—my boyfriend assures me that when he pulls out, it goes back to its cute little flower-like effect. Why is the gaping asshole so popular? I promise this is not a frivolous question or just for titillation. We really do wonder: What gives?

Gaining Anal Perspective Entails Serious Question

It’s funny how a chief fear about anal sex—that your asshole would gape open afterward, and poop would fall out while you walked down the street—became eroticized. (The asshole-gaping-open part, not the poop-falling-out part.) Did I say funny, GAPESQ? I meant predictable—because a big part of the collective human subconscious is always at work eroticizing our fears, and the gaping-open, just-been-fucked, completely “wrecked” asshole many people feared inevitably became something some people found hot. And as more people began experimenting with anal sex—as anal went mainstream over the last two decades—people realized that the anal sphincter is a muscle, and the secret to successful anal intercourse is learning to relax that muscle. Situationally, not permanently: You could relax, get loose, gape after, post the video to a porn tube, and then tighten back up.

Now, not everyone thinks a wide-open, gaping asshole is desirable. And not everyone, in the immortal words of Valerie Cherish, needs (or wants) to see that.


Honest question: If you, being a homosexual, don’t die from HIV, will you need to wear a diaper before the age of 42? Optional question: What does a prolapsed rectum look like? I bet you can describe it without doing an image search.

Sickening Homosexuals Are Malignant Errors

Honest answers: I know you meant this to be hate mail, SHAME, but I’m just thrilled someone out there thinks I’m not 42 yet. Also, I’m HIV-negative—last time I checked—but even if I were to seroconvert (go from HIV-negative to HIV-positive), a person with HIV who has access to meds can expect to live as long as a person without HIV. Also, a person with HIV who is on meds and has a zero viral load (no trace of the virus can be detected in their blood) cannot infect another person. So even if I were to contract HIV after all these years, SHAME, I would likely live long enough to die of something else, and once I got on meds, I couldn’t pass HIV on to anyone else. And quickly: I’m way past 42 and not in a diaper yet, thank you very much. And while some people think a prolapsed rectum looks like a rosebud, I happen to think a prolapsed rectum looks like a ball of lean hamburger. And the first one I ever saw—and, no, I didn’t need to do an image search, because it makes a real impression—was in straight porn, not gay porn.

P.S. If you can’t think about gay men without thinking about our poops and the diapers you hope we’re wearing and our meaty prolapsed rectums, SHAME, that says a lot more about you than it does about gay people.


My significant other wants me to delete any NSFW pictures of my exes, but I don’t feel comfortable with that. I don’t have an emotional attachment to my exes or really look at these photos anymore, but I feel that old pictures saved on old computers aren’t doing any harm, and deleting them won’t fix my partner’s insecurity.

Personal Images Causing Strife

Accommodating a partner’s irrational insecurity is sometimes the price we pay to make an otherwise healthy and functional relationship work, PICS, as I recently told another reader. But one possible workaround—one possible accommodation—is telling your insecure partner what they want to hear, even if it isn’t true. Telling a partner who is concerned about safety that you’re using condoms with others when you’re not isn’t OK, of course, just as telling a potential partner you’re single when you’re not isn’t OK. But telling a partner that you deleted photos you never look at on a password-protected computer they can’t look a t… yeah, that’s a lie you don’t have to feel too awful about telling.


How long after using an oil-based lubricant do I have to wait before I can safely use latex condoms? Not right after, presumably. Next day? Next week? Next century? I’ve been experimenting with oil-based CBD lube for hand/toy stuff, but I’m worried about the timing relative to penetrative sex.

Oily Inside

“Oil and latex condoms do NOT mix, period,” said Melissa White, CEO of Lucky Bloke, an online condom shop, and a condom expert. “Using an oil-based lubricant with a condom can cause the condom to leak and/or break. And unlike water-based lubes, oils do not evaporate readily. While oil is absorbed over time, that absorption rate likely varies based on many factors, including age. Oiling up internally? Now we’re talking vaginal versus anal absorption rates! The bottom line: We have not found sufficient studies to issue a reliable recommendation on what an overall safe time frame might be. So here’s the deal: Oil or condoms—choose one.”

I would add only this: Condoms made out of polyurethane are more expensive, but you can safely use them with oil-based lube.


I’m a straight guy who loves the female body—the look, touch and smell. I’m in my mid-30s; I’ve never had a serious relationship; and I don’t know if I’m capable of falling in love. I’m exclusively into trans women, and I’ve kept it a secret, because it’s nobody’s business. If I were in love, I’d make it public, but that hasn’t happened. I can’t help but feel like this is an addiction, and I’m ashamed of it.

I’m sure I’m not the first straight guy who’s into trans women who’s written to you. Where do I go from here?

Straight And Struggling

While dating someone in secret isn’t impossible, SAS, it rarely leads to long-term love. Being kept hidden because you’re trans (or you’re gay or you’re big), and the person you’re dating hasn’t gotten over their shame about being attracted to trans people (or members of their own sex or bigger people) … well, it sucks to be someone’s dirty secret. And a healthy trans (or gay or big) person—the kind of person you might be able to fall in love with—isn’t going to put up with that shit.

So it’s a catch-22: So long as you keep the women you date a secret, none of them are going to stay in your life for long. They’ll be either so damaged that you want them out of your life, or not damaged enough to want you in theirs.

On the Lovecast, the truth about human trafficking: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter.

Published in Savage Love

I’ve been with my boyfriend for a few months. Prior to dating, I was clear with him that I would need to open our relationship at some point. He initially hesitated to respond, but then agreed we could do that when the time came. That time has come much quicker than I anticipated, but I feel like he’ll renege on his end of things because of many comments he’s made recently—comments like not understanding or liking nonmonogamy, and how “his woman” sleeping around is a deal-breaker. Is this a DTMFA situation?

Specified Open Relationship Early

Early on, you let your boyfriend know that openness “at some point” was your price of admission—the price he’d have to pay to be with you—and now he’s letting you know that monogamy is his price of admission. What’s going on here? Well, sometimes Person A tells Person B what Person A knows Person B wants to hear regarding Topic X in the hopes that Person B will feel differently about Topic X after the passage of time or after Person B has made a large emotional investment in Person A. In many cases, Person A has the best intentions—by which I mean Person A isn’t being consciously manipulative, but rather Person A sincerely hopes Person B will come to feel differently about Topic X, or that they, Person A themselves, will. But considering how little time has passed, SORE—it hasn’t even been three months, and he’s saying shitty/judgy things to you about nonmonogamy and sexist/controlling things about “his woman”—it seems clear that your boyfriend wasn’t being sincere; he was being manipulative. DTMFA.


This is another request for a kinky neologism. How about those of us who like the idea of our significant other having sex with somebody else, but who aren’t into full-on cuckold-style humiliation? “Cuckold” implies a level of subordination that just isn’t my thing, and “hotwifing,” besides sounding incredibly sleazy, assumes that it’s a couple that is opposite-sex and married, and the guy is only interested in watching. Can you or the hive mind solve this problem?

Cuck In Name Only

I don’t think the term “hotwifing” is inherently heterosexist, as there are gay men and straight women out there into “hothusbanding.” (They get off on sharing their hot spouses with others, aren’t necessarily interested in getting with anyone else themselves, and don’t, à la cuckolds, get off on humiliation.) But if that term doesn’t appeal to you, CINO, there’s already an alternative: stags (a man who may or may not be dominant who likes to share his partner and may or may not participate) and vixens (a woman who may or may not be submissive who enjoys having sex with others in front of her partner and may or may not share them with others, too).


I’ve experienced anal itching in the past, and I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed it. It felt so insanely good to satisfy that itching inside. I can find lots of information about relieving anal itching, but I can’t find anything about inducing it for pleasure.

Into Tormenting Clean Heinie

According to the Mayo Clinic, keeping your ass too clean or letting it get too dirty can induce anal itching, as can pinworms, diabetes and anal tumors. Seeing as you probably don’t want diabetes or rectal cancer, and since pinworms aren’t for sale at your local bait shop, ITCH, you could try scrubbing your ass with harsh soaps, which is what the Mayo Clinic urges people who don’t want itchy anuses to avoid. (I reversed engineered their advice for you. You’re welcome.) Good luck, and please don’t write back to let us know how you’re progressing, OK?


I am a 24-year-old pansexual trans woman, and I feel sexually broken. Hormones have made it nearly impossible for me to top a partner. I’m able to do it once in a while, but not as much or as reliably as I would like. Additionally, hormones have messed up my digestive system and made bottoming difficult. I’m also relatively sexually inexperienced, which means I’m enthusiastic about oral but not very good at it. This leaves me feeling like I bring nothing to the table.

Horny But Sex Is Thorny

Getting good at oral—like getting good at anything—takes a little practice. Let your prospective partners know you’re relatively inexperienced, and you’ll be far likelier to wind up in bed with patient and supportive people who will let you practice on them. As for bottoming, hopefully your guts will settle down in time. As for topping, well, lots of women use strap-on dildos for penetration. Having a strap-on at the ready and actively seeking out partners who don’t regard strap-on sex as a consolation prize (or a fail) will allow you to experiment with penetration without the pressure of having to produce or sustain an erection. You can switch back and forth between your dick and the dildo as needed, and being able to make it happen for your lover—using whatever tools you need—will build your confidence.

And you’re not broken, HBSIT. You are, like all of us, a work in progress. Good luck.


I’m a college professor. Several female students have confided in me they’re having trouble finding guys. (They’re not hitting on me—and even if they were, no way am I dating a student.) These girls are smart, nice, interesting, and usually obese. You and I both know that in this imperfect world, many (most?) people place importance on looks. But how do I tell them that? A straight, single, male professor telling a female student, even gently, that dropping 20 pounds might help her dating prospects is extremely risky.

Professionally Risky Observation Flummoxes

Oh my god. Keep your mouth shut. First, because it’s an asshole thing to say—never mind the professional risk—and second, because it’s not true. (Welcome to America, PROF, where most people are overweight or obese, and most people are partnered or married.)

The likelier culprit here (besides a skewed sample size and confirmation bias) is the scarcity of available male partners. Women now significantly outnumber men on college campuses: “Where men once went to college in proportions far higher than women—58 percent to 42 percent as recently as the 1970s—the ratio has now almost exactly reversed,” Jon Marcus wrote in the Atlantic. Graduating will probably do more to improve their romantic prospects than dropping 20 pounds.


I recently broke up with a girl because she didn’t know what plate tectonics was. We dated for three months. Great sex! Loved cooking together! Enjoyed spending time with her! But she was raised Mormon—and more important than that, she was simply NOT CURIOUS about science and the world. In all honesty, I think she’s a little dumb, although she doesn’t come off that way.

Science! Politics! Philosophy! All of these things are important in my life! Am I wrong for breaking up with her?

Date Tectonics

No! You did her a favor! I knew nothing about classical music before I fell in love with someone who’s passionate about classical music. I know a lot about it now, and I actually enjoy it—but I didn’t get there in three months. My husband didn’t follow the news closely until he fell in love with a news junkie. Now he’s a daily reader of The New York Times and The Washington Post—but he didn’t get there in three months. The more time we spent together, the more interest we took in each other’s interests.

There’s a lesson in here for you somewhere, DT, but I’m going to let you tease it out—because you’re CURIOUS and SMART, right?

On the Lovecast, Dan interviews sociologist and author Nicholas A. Christakis: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

I’m an adult man, and I have developed a trans attraction after following a particular Tumblr blog. That blog is now gone, sadly, since all adult content has been purged from Tumblr. It wasn’t just porn; it consisted of all the things I really enjoy—images of oil paintings and antique furniture, scenic landscapes, wild animals, and then pictures/gifs of trans women. Some women appeared to have had top surgery while others hadn’t. But all of the women featured on this blog had penises.

I had never considered a relationship with a trans woman before, but after browsing the blog for a year, I can honestly say I’d do it in a heartbeat. I would actually like to date a non-op trans woman. I know that many trans women don’t like having their male parts touched or acknowledged, but I didn’t know that a trans woman can only have a functioning penis if she isn’t taking female hormones, and I hadn’t considered the effect that might have on somebody’s gender dysphoria.

How can I meet a trans woman who is hopefully comfortable with her male parts and seeking a relationship? I live in a conservative Bible Belt state—Utah—and I am woefully uneducated on this subject.

Girl’s Heart, Man’s Parts

“My penis and balls aren’t ‘man’s parts,’” said Bailey Jay, the three-time AVN Award–winning transsexual porn star. “They’re mine. I own them. Not some random man.”

In fairness, GHMP, you acknowledge being woefully uneducated on trans issues, something your letter demonstrated again and again. But let’s start here: A trans woman doesn’t have boy parts. She has girl parts—unique girl parts, as girl parts go, but girl parts just the same.

“I’m on hormones, and my cock works great,” said Jay. “Every trans woman is going to be different and have different experiences, and that’s the best first bit of advice I can give GHMP. We can smell it a mile away when we are all being lumped in together as a concept. Treat any trans woman you’re romantically interested in as an individual.”

As for places to find trans individuals who might be up for dating cis men, well, you might want to sit down, GHMP, as this is pretty shocking.

“I’ve heard OkCupid is inclusive, and I have friends on there whose profiles even help people navigate discussing their bodies in a respectful way,” said Jay. “And finding a trans woman to date who hasn’t undergone bottom surgery is pretty easy. The surgery is expensive and even scary to some. It’s not terribly common that a trans woman has had that particular surgery.”

But just because a trans woman hasn’t had bottom surgery doesn’t mean she doesn’t want bottom surgery, so you shouldn’t assume a trans woman with a penis plans to always keep her penis.

“The real question is what her relationship is with her current genitals,” said Jay. “Maybe she’s very dysphoric about them. Maybe she doesn’t even want you to see them or touch them. Even if her body is your preference, there’s a chance it isn’t hers. I personally love my penis and even like talking about it. But bringing up genitals right away can make you seem insensitive or like you’re dehumanizing your date.”

Jay recommends looking for trans women on mainstream dating apps and then following their lead.

“Now, genitals and curt sexual dialogue are kind of my jam,” said Jay, “so I wouldn’t even flinch or blush. But this can be a very charged subject for people.”

Look to the profiles of trans women you’re interested in for cues about their approach to personal subjects. One woman might put it all out there and welcome questions about her experiences as a trans woman; another woman might be open about being trans but prefer not to focus on it.

“Still, never use genital questions as an icebreaker,” said Jay. “You’ll know when your evening with someone is going well enough that there’s a certain amount of trust,” and at that point, you may be able to bring it up.

“And please make sure to talk about both of your bodies,” added Jay. “This isn’t all about if her body is right for you. Make sure your body meets her standards and preferences, too. I always joke that cis men should have to disclose as well. Any expectation you find yourself putting on her, split the responsibility.”

You can find Bailey Jay at her for-adults-only website TS-BaileyJay.com.


I’m a 36-year-old trans man in Portland, Ore., and I’ve never been to a gay bar/venue while presenting male. I’ve only been once or twice years ago when straight friends went to watch drag shows and used the gays as entertainment. (Yeah, my old life was CIS HET as all fuck.) I have two questions: 1. I’ve heard a lot of stories about “gold star” gays who shame trans men and blacklist us. Any truth to that? Am I welcome in a gay space? 2. As someone who’s never dated/hooked up within the gay male culture, any newbie tips?

As for what I’m looking for, it’s really just about feeling validated and comfortable being in a men’s space. Sure, I’m horny as hell and would love nights full of hot anal sex, LOL, but I’m cool just starting with finding my swagger. I have no idea how my personality will develop around other guys. I have a puppy side, a pain-slut side, and a sadistic-top side—and I’m super-curious about exploring all my sides!

The Deep End

1. You are welcome in gay spaces—of course—but there are assholes in gay spaces just as there are assholes in every other kind of space. There may be fewer assholes as a percentage in gay spaces (untested hypothesis!), TDE, but that doesn’t make gay assholery any less aggravating.

And, yes, there are gay men out there who don’t want to sleep with trans men. But there are gay men out there who don’t want to sleep with tall men, short men, masculine men, femme men, big men, small men, vanilla men, kinky men and—yes—even cis men. Focusing on the guys who don’t want to fuck you—whether they’ve never slept with a woman (gold star) or just recently slept with a woman (homoflexible)—is a waste of time and energy. Focus on the guys who do want to fuck you. And they’re out there.

2. All things in moderation (including moderation); don’t fuck around with meth (or with guys who do); get on PrEP (to protect yourself from HIV); use condoms (to protect yourself from everything else); tip your bartenders; ask before you touch; and don’t make the bars your whole life.

And finally, TDE, seeing as you’re kinky, you might want to explore mixed kink clubs and spaces, online and off, in addition to gay bars. You’ll encounter your fair share of assholes in kink spaces, of course, but kinksters—particularly kinksters in your hipper urban locales—are often more open to trans folks than vanilla types. (Tyler McCormick, a trans man, won the International Mr. Leather competition way, way back in 2010.)


I’ve fallen into a social group of gay men who are kind of homophobic. They talk about bottoming and gayness as if they’re embarrassing things. It’s like they’re aspiring to be gay people who are really heterosexuals but just accidentally have gay sex.

The other challenge is that I find them attractive.

These Really Anti-Social Homos

Putting up with assholes just because they’re hot—yeah, you’re not doing yourself any favors there, TRASH, and you’re not doing those assholes any favors, either. Sooner or later, they’re going to age out of hot—and if they haven’t learned the importance of not being assholes by that point, they’re going to be lonely old assholes.

Losing friends due to your assholery is an important learning experience for many. Don’t cheat these guys of it.

On the Lovecast, Dan chats with sex-workers-rights advocate Kaytlin Bailey: savagelovecast.com.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; @fakedansavage on Twitter; ITMFA.org.

Published in Savage Love

In a little-noticed side impact of California’s 2018 law granting drivers the option of listing their gender as nonbinary, California’s Department of Insurance has decreed that auto insurance companies can no longer grant breaks in insurance rates to teen drivers who are female or charge young men more.

Outgoing Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, in one of his final acts in office, issued a regulation last month prohibiting the use of gender in automobile-insurance ratings, similar to regulations in six other states.

Jones’ replacement, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, supports that policy, saying in a statement: “Gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation are beyond your control, and it is not a fair or even an effective way to predict risk.”

Jones’ regulatory action received coverage in The New York Times and elsewhere. But the genesis of Jones’ decision received far less attention—and had nothing to do with car insurance.

It was, at least in part, legislation by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins granting motorists the option of listing their gender as male, female or nonbinary. As the bill wended its way through the Legislature, Atkins and other backers said it would be a blow for equality.

“Mindful of all the people I know who are gender-nonconforming, and the families I know with transgender children, I wanted to make sure that California continued to be a leader in gender-identity equality,” Atkins said after Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law in October.

Lobbyists for insurance companies had been neutral on the bill, having received assurances that it would have no impact on auto insurance rates.

Rex Frazier, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of California, which represents several major auto insurance companies, said insurers were blindsided by Jones’ justification for the regulation, pointing out that none of the 10 legislative analyses of the Atkins bill made any mention of the bill’s impact on insurance rates.

“It is commonly understood that teenage male drivers are generally a higher risk than teenage female drivers,” Frazier said in a letter to the Department of Insurance. “Eliminating gender rating would require female teenage drivers to subsidize teenage male drivers.”

Frazier said the gender of teen drivers can result in an additional cost for boys or discount for girls of about 6 percent on their premiums. Drivers who list their gender as nonbinary probably would have been given a lower cost than boys, he said, though under the new rule, gender cannot be taken into account.

In a separate letter to the Insurance Department, the American Insurance Association, an insurance trade group, wrote: “Senate Bill 179 was designed to reduce barriers to existing name and gender-change procedures. The bill was never intended, nor was it drafted, to affect established and demonstrated insurance rating factors such as gender.”

The association also cited a 2016 Insurance Institute report saying: “Men typically drive more miles than women and more often engage in risky driving practices, including not using safety belts, driving while impaired by alcohol, and speeding.”

In the rule-making process, Jones responded to the insurance groups by stating that “the Legislature may not have specifically intended to eliminate gender-based insurance rating” but that Atkins’ legislation had “relevance as a statement of California’s values around the role of gender in society.”

In an interview Tuesday, Jones said the “the real driver for the change was that there was really no consistency with regard to how insurers were using gender as a rating factor.” Additionally, he said, gender is “not a characteristic that is within your control.”

Atkins said in a statement Tuesday that her bill did not address the insurance, but she supports “efforts to ensure that all genders are treated equally.”

“However, it’s imperative that these changes be made thoughtfully and with strong input from Californians,” Atkins’ statement said.

The advocacy group Consumer Watchdog long had advocated for the change, saying in a statement after Jones acted: “Gender and sex have no more place in what we pay for auto insurance than race or ethnicity do. These new rules will finally end gender-based discrimination in auto insurance pricing in California.”

Insurance companies must submit gender-neutral pricing policies to the Insurance Department by July 1. The new pricing would take effect after that.

Frazier has called on the Department of Insurance to at least permit insurance companies to take into account drivers’ age, and certain safety features of newer cars in setting rates. Decisions on those requests are pending.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Published in Politics

I’m always pleasantly surprised when I realize that someone I thought I knew turns out to be so much more than I could ever have imagined.

Shellie Meeks is my technical producer and board operator at iHub Radio in Palm Springs. I always feel supported when her face is on the other side of the console. Shellie is pleasant, diligent and determined to work around an often-debilitating case of fibromyalgia.

I thought I knew her—and then one day, I was blown away. My subject was witches, and I was quoting statistics about how many (mostly) women were killed in just a year’s time in Salem, Mass., at the end of the 17th century. Off the top of her head, Shellie asked if I knew that 60,000 so-called witches were killed throughout Europe during the Middle Ages.

Who knows something like that?

Shellie Meeks, 40, has lived in Joshua Tree with her husband, Cary, for about two years. She grew up in a military family, and her early years were spent mostly in the Pacific—in Okinawa, Japan, and Guam. Her mom, Annie, ended up at the Pentagon, and her dad (specifically, her stepdad who adopted her at age 8), a former B-52 pilot, settled the family, including Shellie and her two brothers, in Virginia.

After graduating from high school in 1995, Shellie had to work to be able to go to college.

“It took me 10 years to get my B.A.,” she says. “I attended George Mason University, and worked sometimes three jobs to pay for it. I was originally studying to be a photographer, but I had to take two art-history classes—and I got hooked. I switched my major to art history.

“I remember when I was about 11, in Guam, I had a teacher who showed us a film … that was set in ancient Egypt. I never forgot it. I also loved museums when I was a kid, and living for so long in the Far East, I really got into Japanese art and culture.”

A favorite professor contacted Shellie after she finished her degree, to let her know they were starting a master’s degree program for art history. She jumped back in. “It was hard and grueling, but awesome!”

A professor in the master’s program, whom Shellie describes as “one of my best friends ever,” exposed Shellie to East Indian art. “It was amazing to see such a different style than I’d ever seen before. He opened a world to me I could never have imagined.

“He was one of the first people who actually said how much he believed in me. It changed my life.”

Shellie’s work life has included a stint as a country-music DJ in Virginia while she was attending the Columbia School of Broadcasting, interning as part of her degree path. “I got part of my tuition paid by taking the placement. They told me it wouldn’t pay much, but would be good experience. The station was run by a guy named ‘Cousin Ray’ who had been in that industry since the 1930s and knew all the country stars from that period. It was interesting and educational, and I enjoyed it, but the pay was less than minimum wage. I was working two jobs just to survive.”

When her mom retired, Shellie’s parents started a business involved with government contracts, and Shellie worked with them for a time. While doing so, she met Cary Shaffner, to whom she has been married for 12 years. “We met in early 2006, and married that December.”

In addition to her work on my show, Shellie also appears on iHub Radio daily at 4 p.m. on The Laura Meeks Show, along with her dad—originally named Laurence, but now known as Laura.

“It’s actually kind of a funny story,” she recalls. “The day I found out about my dad was the same day I had just gotten fired. My brain was focused on that when I got home. I got to the top of the stairs and walked into the kitchen, and there was this blonde woman sitting at the table. I thought, ‘That’s my dad.’ I don’t know where it came from, but I said, ‘Blonde isn’t really your color. You should think about getting a different wig.’

“I had never heard of transgender, but it wasn’t like the world was ending. I just thought, ‘This is really interesting.’ It doesn’t really bother me. She’s still my dad. I found out what being transgender means, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, that’s a thing.’

“When I realized my parents weren’t getting a divorce—my mom’s been fine with it, and they’ve been married 35 years—I enjoyed that I could show Laura how to wear high heels and do makeup. It was actually fun. Dad was always very male, macho and military, and Laura allowed him to show his kindness and humor. It brought us closer together.”

Shellie finished her grad degree in 2013, and she and Cary moved to the desert area from Pennsylvania five years ago. She still plans to get her doctorate and wants to teach art history.

“They keep cutting humanities programs—art, philosophy, history—and I want to educate people about how important it is to study these disciplines. I value my ability to use my brain. We can’t progress and understand each other without exposure to the humanities.”

Shellie hopes to have the chance to see the art she has been studying for so long. “I want to see Europe and India, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Parthenon in Greece.

“We have ancient influences even in our current culture, from television to comic books, and we need to understand those influences and how they impact us, often without our even knowing it. We need to be able to see everything in a completely non-judgmental way. It’s so important.”

Shellie Meeks reminds me that we not only need to understand how the past has influenced the present, but also to be willing to expose ourselves to things we might not even know exist—and do it with acceptance and without judgment.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal.” Her show That’s Life airs weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon on iHubradio, while The Lovable Liberal airs from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

If elected to the Palm Springs City Council, Lisa Middleton wants to be as transparent as possible, she said, while engaging with the community.

Middleton is well-known as a transgender activist, and she has an impressive work history as well; she retired after 30 years as an executive with the State Insurance Compensation Fund of California, where she was at one point the senior vice president of internal affairs. She’s also a member of the Planning Commission, and was a chair of ONE-PS, the coalition of Palm Springs neighborhoods. (Full disclosure: I’ve known Lisa Middleton since 2013; I met her while I was a volunteer at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert.)

During an interview at her home, Middleton—who would become the first openly transgender individual elected to a non-judicial office in the state, should she win—said the city of Palm Springs is finally starting to handle the issue of homelessness in the right way. She said that the efforts of Well of the Desert and the housing programs proposed by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments are both steps in the right direction.

“The city is making progress when it comes to homelessness,” Middleton said. “We have a dedicated homelessness police officer going from four days a week to seven days a week. … The two additional social workers who have been contracted with the county have produced success, and the city is trying to expand that program. One of the things we found is that it takes multiple interventions for there to be success. There have been, over the last year, 50 people who have been housed, and another 100 who have received housing. It’s been because of these programs.”

Middleton helped to create the ordinances and regulations on vacation rentals that were recently enacted. She said she believes they’re working so far.

“I believe the reforms that were passed earlier this year were very much a step in the right direction,” she said. “The restriction of no more than one (vacation rental) home per person going forward—those who have more than one now are grandfathered in—will remove the investor from the market going forward so that the people getting permits will be the individual or couple who plan to transition to full-time living in Palm Springs. … I came up with the idea through ONE-PS for that restriction. The increase in fines, I supported very strongly, but the most important change was the increase in staffing, and going from a half-time person to nine people in a department, and changing the first responder to complaints from the rental manager to someone within the city, and having them out in cars to where they’re able to respond, as well as being out in cars … (so) they can monitor and drive by. The homeowners and managers are stepping up their game in the review of the people they rent their homes to, because after three strikes, you’re going to lose your license, and could potentially lose your license for good. Those are steps in the right direction, and we need to give this law a chance to work.”

Middleton said she intends to work with local nonprofits to increase the amount of affordable housing in the city.

“I want to work with organizations such as Desert AIDS Project and Coachella Valley Housing Coalition to build more affordable housing in Palm Springs” Middleton said. “A recommendation I’ve made is that … we take and change the public benefit, which is a negotiation that goes back and forth with the Planning Commission and the developer—that it be switched to the public benefit being affordable housing: Either you build a certain number of affordable housing units as part of your project, or you pay a fee to the city to be used to provide funding for other affordable housing projects, based on the value of the project you’re building.”

When it comes to transparency, Middleton said said being accessible and communicating with the public is important, and that she plans to regularly visit each of the neighborhoods in Palm Springs, while making herself as accessible as possible.

“One thing I think would help … is being accessible so people can ask questions and understand things,” Middleton said. “Transparency is extremely important coming from someone such as myself, who managed a public-records office, and I know all of the rules as to what must be released and how it is to be released. Frequently, what I find is somebody says, ‘You’re not being transparent.’ What they really mean is, ‘I didn’t know that was going on.’ It’s that ‘I didn’t know’ that we need to do a better job on … (so that) it becomes easier for them to know what’s going on.”

Middleton said the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has a great relationship with the city. She cited discussions about the plans for the area around the Spa Resort Casino as an example.

“I do think that for almost everyone who was concerned when they saw that dotted line put into the Desert Sun, and then saw this first set of drawings of the new hotel, there should be great relief that the tribe is a great neighbor and has historically been a great neighbor,” she said.

As a member of the Planning Commission, Middleton said she’s happy the downtown redevelopment project is progressing.

“I’m thrilled that we’re finally getting the hotel up and ready for occupancy, and that the leases have been signed and stores will be opening,” she said. “As for the businesses up further on Palm Canyon, they feel like they’ve been in a construction zone for years, and this project has taken longer (than we anticipated) when we voted for Measure J in 2011. There were lawsuits that slowed down construction, and I was part of the Planning Commission that worked with the new City Council in January 2016 that reduced the scale of the overall project by 40 percent. There have been bumps in this road, and we’re starting to move forward, and the vast majority of people in Palm Springs want to see that succeed.

“The Hyatt Andaz,” the long-delayed under-construction project at Indian Canyon Drive and Alejo Road, “has brought up ideas for a change in the approval process. As a part of the planning and review process when the project is approved by the Planning Commission, we need to review the financial viability of the product. Nowhere in the current process do we ask a developer why they feel the project will succeed financially. That can be built into the approval process, and before someone begins construction, they should be required to demonstrate to the city that they have the funds in place to complete construction.”

She believes the best way to prevent more corruption within the city government is to do reviews and make sure everyone has proper information on what they can and cannot do.

“We should sit down with them constantly and review their 700 form, asking them, ‘If you work for other entities, who are these entities?’” Middleton said. “Annually, we have a very clear understanding of what they reported and why.”

Middleton laughed when I asked her if she considered the Palm Springs City Council to be opposed to fun—a criticism some, such as the Cactus Hugs website, have made of the current council.

“I don’t think Palm Springs is against fun,” Middleton said. “I absolutely want it to be fun, and I want our city to keep its sense of humor and be able to laugh with others and at ourselves from time to time, because we need to do so. I was asked this question a few weeks ago: Is Palm Springs a small city of neighborhoods, or is it a world-class destination? The answer is both. Most people want it to be both. That happens when you set balances so you can truly have communities and neighborhoods where people feel safe, secure and quiet in their home and neighborhood—but also a side that can attract people from all over the world to come and have a good time, to go to the parties we have, to enjoy the restaurants, and to enjoy the cultural facilities.”

Published in Politics

“When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”

This was Donald Trump talking to Billy Bush about assaulting women more than a decade ago, but it has proven to be the ultimate expression of Trumpism.

When Matt Lauer, a rich celebrity, asked Trump, another rich celebrity, about North Carolina’s discriminatory “bathroom bill,” it became a question of whether Trump “would be fine with (Caitlyn Jenner) using any bathroom she chooses” in Trump Tower.

Jenner, like Trump, is a reality TV star with complicated lines between business and family. Of course, she can pee wherever she wants. But trans people who aren’t stars and who have to go to the bathroom in less-glamorous places than Trump Tower are shit out of luck after the administration declared in late February it would not protect the rights of trans students.

Jenner spoke out against Trump’s reversal on trans issues, telling him to call her. But because she is also a star, her plea misses the point: Trump attacks the most vulnerable.

If Trump wanted to understand how it feels to be denied access to basic services, he could talk to Gavin Grimm, a trans high school student whose lawsuit against his Virginia school district—for forcing him to use a refashioned janitor’s closet instead of the men’s room—was scheduled to reach the Supreme Court later this month. However, on Monday, March 6, the case was sent back to a lower court because of the new guidelines set by Trump’s justice department.

Or when Trump spoke at the ultra-right Conservative Political Action Conference in late February, he could have talked to Jennifer Williams and Jordan Evans, two trans women who stood out in the hallway holding a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and a sign that said, “Proud to be Conservative, Proud to Be Transgender, Proud to be American #sameteam.”

“We spent the last year fighting for transgender rights and being part of a presidential campaign, (and) we didn’t know what we were walking into,” Williams said of the anti-trans fervor once again spiking in the ruling party.

Williams has attended the conference since 2006, when she was working on a film called Fear of a Black Republican. She felt that the conference and the conservative movement was moving toward the libertarianism of Ron Paul and away from the “traditional values” of Mike Huckabee.

Until 2016, she attended the conference presenting as a man, rather than as Jennifer, her authentic self. She says she was received warmly when she reintroduced herself last year; her friends asked if she was still a conservative and when she said she was, they were cool.

But after a brief moment of high hopes, the mood shifted.

First, former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos got a keynote spot on CPAC’s program. Yiannopoulos regularly called trans people “mentally ill” and used a December speech in Milwaukee to mock a trans student.

Like Yiannopoulos, some other openly gay people at CPAC seemed eager to put down trans people in order to cement their own endangered status among the bigots. One conservative lesbian blogger sitting in the press section “explained” to a Breitbart editor how trans women were really just men who like to dress in women’s clothes and masturbate. “Autogynephiles,” she said, talking high and punching down.

“It’s going to be hard for the administration to go after lesbian, gay and bi people, because they have numbers; they have resources; they have money. We don’t necessarily have that,” Williams said. “You’re going after transgender people ... We’re only 0.6 percent of the population.”

Williams was briefly relieved when Yiannopoulos was disinvited from CPAC, but the night before the conference began, the regime rescinded the Obama-era directive offering federal protection for students to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identities rather than their birth certificates. So when Williams and her friend walked in with their signs and their flag, they didn’t know what to expect.

“I was really worried because people were hyped up. We didn’t expect it to be the issue du jour by 8 in the morning, walking into CPAC with 11,000 or 12,000 conservatives of all different stripes from all over the country.”

Although Williams’ access to public facilities is legally protected in Maryland, where the conference took place, she and her friend located single-occupancy restrooms where they knew they would be safe.

“Hopefully nothing bad will happen. I don’t expect it to. This is my tribe, just as LGBTQ is my tribe. People at CPAC don’t start fights,” she said. “But there’s always that one person you have to be careful about.”

She is especially worried for young trans kids. “When I grew up, we had no hope, and you knew that if you were going to be out and proud and live your life authentically, it was just going to be tough,” she said. “These kids have had a great run for several years, making life better and easier so they can live openly. But now if I’m them, everybody knows who I am. What’s going to happen to me now?”

The fear, she says “has to be overwhelming, because at least the federal government had your back. Now they don’t.”

At its best, the federal government protects the minority from the tyranny of the majority. But Trump’s populism says, in essence, “Fuck that shit.”

On the same day Trump press secretary Sean Spicer said that trans protections are “states’ rights issues,” he also said that recreational cannabis would become a federal issue. In this regime, there are no real principles—only power and the repression of anyone vulnerable enough to repress.

Williams has placed whatever hope she has left in the U.S. Supreme Court. “If we lose the Gavin Grimm case, it could be pretty dismal for a long time. I don’t want to say ‘until a Democrat gets elected,’ because I’m a Republican committee person,” she said. “Hopefully our party will be the ones to make freedom happen for everyone.”

That’s the thing about freedom: If it doesn’t happen for everyone, it doesn’t happen for anyone.

Column updated Monday, March 6. Democracy in Crisis is a joint project of alternative newspapers around the country, including the Coachella Valley Independent. Baynard Woods is editor at large at the Baltimore City Paper. His work has also appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, the Washington PostVox, Salon, McSweeney's, Virginia Quarterly Review and many other publications.

Published in National/International

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