#womenrights: women’s friendships,grief, lesbian rights, and transgender politics

Who Really Influenced the IOC?/ via @helensaxby11

Women’s sports and transgender rights are currently in the news, but a recent contribution by Joanna Harper in the Guardian is unhelpfully misrepresentative of many of the facts. Harper talks about ‘respecting the rights of all athletes’ and wanting ‘equitable competition for all’ whilst also recommending a testosterone level for trans athletes which has not been properly researched to ensure fairness. Most outrageously though, Harper claims the credit for a reduction in the testosterone limit by the International Olympic Committee, and argues that the original limit was set too high:

“Paula Radcliffe and others have suggested that the current limit of 10 nanomoles per litre of testosterone (T) for trans women is too high – cisgender (or typical) women are usually under 2nmol/L – and I agree. In 2017, I was on a committee that recommended to the International Olympic Committee that it should reduce the limit to 5nmol/L, and I believe this change will be implemented for next year’s Tokyo Games.” …

The Lingering of Loss by Jill Lepore,

… This resolution brought her unbearable pain, and it broke me. If I’m honest, the resolution wasn’t entirely hers. I think I must have asked her not to die before the baby came. I probably begged her. I don’t know, I don’t remember. The whole year is a near-blackout, except that I remember how each day carried my baby closer to life and her closer to death. I put her through this, I put her through this. I sank to my knees under the weight. But she’s the one who suffered for it, was flattened by it, flayed and tormented by it. After a bone-marrow transplant from her sister failed, she left the hospital and went to live at our friend Denise’s house, or, not to live there but to die there. On April 1, 1999, at a Passover Seder, Jane ate a bite of the matzo and the maror, the bitter herbs, the bread of life and the bitterness of affliction. The next day, she could no longer speak in sentences. “She tried and was frantic at first and what came out were words that almost made sense,” Denise told me. My contractions had started. I went to the hospital. And I tried as hard as I could to push, but it felt as though I were pulling Jane to her death. Mainly, I screamed. They unzipped him out of me and sewed me up. Friends took a picture of the baby the minute he came out, a Polaroid, it slipped out of the camera like a tongue from a mouth, and then they ran down the hall and out into the parking garage and drove that hundred miles, childbed to deathbed. They showed Jane the photograph—she couldn’t really see by that point, but Denise says she knew, she knew, she saw, she knew, she heard, she smiled—and then she died. She knew, she heard, she knew. Did she know? I don’t know. …

Dyke March: the largest lesbian demonstration in the history of the world, by Claire Heuchan (@Claireshrugged)

… In Dyke March we see the power of collective action. Thousands of lesbians rejected what was considered conventional or safe behavior for women to assert the value of lesbian life in a society that has historically denied not only our worth, but our very existence.

Although it was born of bold lesbian politics, there have been efforts to cut Dyke March from its radical roots. Wikipedia describes Dyke March as a “mostly lesbian-led gathering and protest march.” Mostly, as though Dyke March was not coordinated by and created for lesbian women. Mostly, as though lesbians having our own spaces is not something worth celebrating. …

Minnette de Silva: the brilliant female architect forgotten by history , by Shiromi Pinto

… For all De Silva’s vision, her contribution to architecture has been only belatedly – and sometimes begrudgingly – acknowledged. It is Geoffrey Bawa whose work is usually quoted as pioneering in Sri Lanka, even though De Silva preceded him by a decade. As the writer and architect David Robson has pointed out, it was De Silva’s experiments in fusing European modernism and a regional style of architecture that made it possible for Bawa to create the masterpieces for which he is celebrated.

As a woman, her ideas were often questioned by clients, even her own contractor. While building the Pieris’ house, she was forced to have her design endorsed by an engineer in London before her contractor agreed to build it. “It was male chauvinism at its best,” observes C Anjalendran, an architect once closely associated with Bawa and De Silva. …