In Case You Missed It: The Week of May 14th, 2012

In Case You Missed It: The Week of May 14th, 2012


From sexual health, mental wellness, relationships, and everything in between, these are some of the news highlights that have happened this week:

Sexualized women are viewed as objects. Literally.

Ohio: Franciscan University drops the campus’ entire student health insurance plan over the birth control mandate. (Maybe the students can retaliate by dropping the school.)

The House nixes protections to LGBT victims from the Violence Against Women Act, and President Obama threatens to veto it.

Poverty and inequality causes teens to have babies, not the other way around. 

The new TV hit Scandal, starring Kerry Washington, has gained a huge following. Why did it take so long to get the green light from the ABC network?

California: Are you in the Bay area? Passionate about transformative justice (or would like to learn more about it)? Want to work to end child sexual abuse? The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collaborative is looking for new members!

Janet Mock launches the Girls Like Us Campaign to empower transgender women of color. 

“Pro-Family” conservative states aren’t doing squat to make life easier for families.

Republican National Convention chairman Reince Priebus says, “End LGBT Discrimination!” GOP replies, “Huh?”

Which states are the best  for working moms? (Hint: Only 2 states received an A rating.)

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It’s rare that trans women are given the mic to speak about our experiences on our own terms, and it’s an even rarer occurrence when we women of color get to share space with one another and truth tell in a public space.

I’m proud of the nearly 10 minutes I shared with Isis King, who came into the media’s focus when she was recruited to compete on Cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model in 2008. I’m proud to call Isis my dear sister and to be able to speak with her about our public lives.

For In The Life Media’s landmark 20th season, Isis and I discuss living visibly as trans women, our personal experiences in the media and our views on “tranny” and divisive trans terminology.

I’d like to use this space to clarify three things:

1. Isis mentioned Laverne Cox as one of the only examples she’s known of trans women like herself on television. I’d like to highlight the fact that other sisters are and have also represented on television: Carmen Carrera, Candis Cayne, Jamie Clayton, Nina Poon, Harmony Santana and Nong Ariyaphon Southiphong.

2. I made a statement about our responsibility to educate others about our experiences. I said, “You have to use your life as a teaching moment.” It’s a personal choice to do so, and it’s a responsibility that I take on, but it is NOT our job to educate people about us. I was reminded of this when I read Janani Balasubramanian’s essay “Brown Silence,” where she so eloquently writes: “Not everyone’s education needs to be our responsibility all the time…Our words and energy should also be conserved.”

3. I also said the dehumanization of trans women in the media “leads to trans women hurting themselves in a way that they feel they don’t deserve more.” Instead, I’d like to add that the systematic dehumanization of trans women through words, images and the lack thereof of words and images that represent the totality of our experiences actually is what contributes to others seeing us as less than human therefore justifying the violence, battery, criminalization and murders we face. 

Finally, I hope conversations like these continue to happen, and that they happen with a wide array of women, because it’s only in hearing a plethora of our voices do we paint a more realistic portrait of womanhood. 


A Conversation With Isis King and Janet Mock

America’s Next Top Model’s first transgender contestant, Isis King, sits down with staff editor and transgender advocate, Janet Mock, for a conversation about representations of transgender people in media.

This is the type of discussion i wish you could see more of in the media.


Beyond Base-Pairs: Mapping the Functional Genome
Regulatory sequences of mouse genome sequenced for first time

Popularly dubbed “the book of life,” the human genome is extraordinarily difficult to read. But without full knowledge of its grammar and syntax, the genome’s 2.9 billion base-pairs of adenine and thymine, cytosine and guanine provide limited insights into humanity’s underlying genetics.

In a paper published in the July 1, 2012 issue of the journal Nature, researchers at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine open the book further, mapping for the first time a significant portion of the functional sequences of the mouse genome, the most widely used mammalian model organism in biomedical research.

“We’ve known the precise alphabet of the human genome for more than a decade, but not necessarily how those letters make meaningful words, paragraphs or life,” said Bing Ren, PhD, head of the Laboratory of Gene Regulation at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at UC San Diego. “We know, for example, that only one to two percent of the functional genome codes for proteins, but that there are highly conserved regions in the genome outside of protein-coding that affect genes and disease development. It’s clear these regions do something or they would have changed or disappeared.”

Chief among those regions are cis-regulatory elements, key stretches of DNA that appear to regulate the transcription of genes. Misregulation of genes can result in diseases like cancer. Using high-throughput sequencing technologies, Ren and colleagues mapped nearly 300,000 mouse cis-regulatory elements in 19 different types of tissue and cell. The unprecedented work provided a functional annotation of nearly 11 percent of the mouse genome, and more than 70 percent of the conserved, non-coding sequences shared with other mammalian species, including humans.

As expected, the researchers identified different sequences that promote or start gene activity, enhance its activity and define where it occurs in the body during development. More surprising, said Ren, was that the structural organization of the cis-regulatory elements are grouped into discrete clusters corresponding to spatial domains. “It’s a case of form following function,” he said. “It makes sense.”

While the research is fundamentally revealing, Ren noted it is also just a beginning, a partial picture of the functional genome. Additional studies will be needed in other types of cells and at different stages of development.

“We’ve mapped and understand 11 percent of the genome,” said Ren. “There’s still a long way to march.”


As a gadget to plug into a USB port, the “MinION” recently unveiled by Oxford Nanopore lacks the touch-me buy-me pizazz of Jonathan Ive’s designs. And since it’s a prototype that no one outside the company and a few partner organisations has yet been able to see in action, it is hard to say how well it actually works. But as an embodiment of technological cool it strikes me as pretty much beyond compare. Inside the MinION is a little chip with 512 holes in it. Put some DNA into the MinION, and it will pull individual DNA molecules through those pores. DNA molecules carry genetic information in the form of four different chemical bases, like slightly different knots on a piece of string. As a DNA molecule goes through one of the MinION’s pores, the different knots on it are sensed electronically; the signals produced this way are processed inside the MinION and sent through the USB port to your computer, where the string of bases is reassembled as a genome sequence. How long are the pieces of string? The system can read individual strings tens of thousands of bases long—far longer than most sequencing technologies. A MinION should be able to read about a billion bases before its pores run out. That’s a third the length of a human genome. All in a device the size of a matchbox. (via THE GENOME GADGET | More Intelligent Life)