Friday, July 20, 2012

Some of the Best Journalism is in Playboy

Since the closing of the local book store, the only place in town to buy Playboy is one of the two porno shops, neither of which I'm stepping foot inside unless I have someone with me to embarrass the hell out of (because it's no fun unless you have someone who is sexually repressed ask where the casting molds are or help you pick out a dildo). So I drove all the way to Augusta to Barnes &  Noble to get a copy and to pick up a book I wanted, only to find they didn't have this month's copy. They had things like "The Best College Co-Eds" and things like that, but not this month's issue. Well, shit. I left with my book and a frappuccino and a load of disappointment and bitterness (unrelated to the magazine) and just placed an order on Amazon for a year's subscription.

Why yes, that is the Kim Kardashian Playboy and yes it is mine
My first Playboy was actually the one with Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett (the second one in, if you don't know your E! celebrities) on the cover. As you can see, my collection is not big, but I value each one of them. You see, I really do read them for the articles. Like I've mentioned before, I read a lot. Sexuality and sexual health are things that are important to me and frankly, these are issues that regular magazines and newspapers walk on eggshells around, skirt the issue, or avoid entirely. The writers at Playboy are intelligent, articulate, and unabashed when it comes to writing about real issues. I'm going to paste in something I wrote on my sex blog about the Crystal Harris issue (that's the third one in) and if you can get your hands on the issue (you might be able to find it on Amazon from a seller, or ebay) I definitely recommend reading the articles I mention.


Fight for your Rights by Christian Kahrl discusses the ongoing struggle of transgendered individuals in today's society. I went to what was unflatteringly referred to as the "gay school" in the UMaine system. Yes, there was a high population of gay, lesbian, and bi students (hello second floor of Scott Hall South!) and there were at least two transgendered individuals. One was a male to female individual and my first encounter with a transgendered individual. I knew her first as a man, the kind person who fixed my cable one day who then went on to complete hormone therapy, and a couple of years later, gender reassignment surgery. She and a female to make transgendered individual spoke to my human sexuality class one day, and MTF described herself as "the happiest person alive."

While the process of gender reassignment, from therapy to hormones to the actual surgery was detailed, I never knew the other struggles that would entail, until Kahrl's article opened my naive eyes. The difficulty transgendered individuals face in merely becoming individuals is astounding:  mounds of red tape in name changes, gender changes on birth certificates and social security, and overall discrimination. As Kahrl quite succinctly put it in the article: "Rights as citizens are only for those who can afford them." Thankfully, it seems that a branch of the CDC called the NCTE is looking to make changes to the difficulty transgendered individuals have in changing the gender on their birth certificates. I found that article via The National Center for Transgender Equality, should anyone be interested in their own research.

The second article in this month's Playboy that caught my attention was Old Fears by Jeff Krehely, concerning the rights and care of elderly LGBT individuals. We now have a demographic of LGBT senior citizens and again raises the concern of visitation and legal rights for couples who may have had a long-standing and monogamous relationship with their partner that is not legally recognized as a marriage because, gasp, while legal in many states, "the Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing these unions." It is appalling that, should some day, as a bisexual individual, I end up sharing my end of days with a woman that she not be allowed the same rights to see me in the hospital if I was ill as an opposite sex partner would.

Also horrifying is the thought that elderly LGBT individuals receiving in-home care or residing in convalescent or retirement homes are suffering neglect and abuse by people that don't want to be seen as "gay" for holding a person's hand or bathing them, and worse are the tales of emotional abuse by fundamentalists who would read Bible quotes to their patients. The most horrifying account in the article was of "a transgender woman with Alzheimer's disease at a long-term care facility whose staff refused to respect the woman's gender identity. 'Instead, they would dress her in men's clothing-- a daily occurrence  that was increasingly distressing for a woman already struggling with day-to-day cognitive functioning.'"

If that was my relative, I would be fucking livid and not only would I pull them from the facility, the facility would see themselves hit with a hefty lawsuit as well. My paternal grandmother had Alzheimer's before she passed, and had in-home care. While she was not transgendered or lesbian, she was vegetarian. One of her caretakers tried to feed her meat once. Grammie had been vegetarian since she was a young girl, and even with Alzheimer's, still maintained that lifestyle. While I personally don't think vegetarianism is a healthy lifestyle, far be it for me to pass judgment and impose my ideals on someone assuming that they no longer have any sort of independent thought.

Kudos to Hugh Hefner and his publication for presenting articles that are truly important and thought-provoking. If only society could get over themselves and buy and issue or two and really read the articles, maybe more social change could happen.

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