3 min read

A hostile state

(I know)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2007

THIS WILL BE QUICK because I have one more meeting today, but wanted to share these two podcast appearances I made this week before I forgot.

I returned to Death Panel to talk about the lavender scare (that never ended) with hosts Beatrice Adler-Bolton and Jules Gill-Peterson. This was a listener-request after the recent libraries episode.

And: I joined the FAIR CounterSpin podcast for the first time to talk about reporting on abortion criminalization, jumping off my recent story on the so-called "abortion trafficking" case that went viral.

SPEAKING OF PANICS AND THE LAW I have a new piece on the rapid spread of forced-outing laws and policies, which mandate that school staff surveil and report on their students' gender expression—names, pronouns, dress, etc.—and why the Christian right is trying to pass this off as yet more "concerned parents" from across the political spectrum:

When Sonja Shaw ran for school board in Chino Valley in the southern California suburbs, she pledged her support to Moms for Liberty, a Christian right group that wants “parental rights” to trump LGBTQ students’ rights. When the Los Angeles Times this week profiled Shaw, now the school board president, her political adviser described her as waging “a spiritual battle” against her opponents. When Shaw recently wanted to scold an opponent who questioned her proposed policy to out trans students without their consent, she accused him of supporting “things that pervert children.”

The seemingly rapid rise of these so-called “parental rights” policies across the United States, mandating that educators and school counselors report to parents any students using pronouns different to what their parents have provided, is in fact quite perfectly summed up in Shaw and how Shaw’s story has been told. She may have successfully sold herself as a “soccer mom,” as the Times headline ran, but the consequences of Shaw’s actions for trans students’ health and safety are clear: As one trans student in Chino Valley said recently to Vice, “I’m so afraid that I’m gonna wake up tomorrow, or the next day or the day after that, and I’m gonna find out that one of my friends isn’t here anymore.”

Another great story on Shaw and her crusade in California by David Gilbert ran recently at Vice.

This letter from me to you

will always be free. But you can also pay for it, if you want to:

Subscribe or become a paid member

AND HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to us—it was about a year ago that I began the move to Ghost from Substack (which has only further disintegrated, or X-ified, or maybe it's Twitter that has Substack-ed itself).

To all those who have been here since TinyLetter (R.I.P—or, fuck, since Yahoo Groups???): it's been my hope to always have a corner of the indie internet to myself, and you've ensured that's what I have. It's going to matter even more as what was "the social web" gives way to whatever will follow.

Like the ad break above that I wrote says: this will always be a free newsletter. Those who can pay to keep us in server money. As of writing, four or five more annual members would make sure we've got that covered for the next year.

So: from now until December 13th, all new annual members will get a signed, personalized copy of my first book Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, from my own personal stash.

Once you become or upgrade your membership, just email your receipt to me at <melissa@melissagira.com>.

In case you missed it, my most recent newsletters have been