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Dear Laurie Penny

June 14, 2014

university of new hampshire health joelle ruby ryan

I am writing this today out of a deep concern for the rights of women, feminists and lesbians to speak publicly about issues that effect us. Specifically, I would like to address the actions of Dr. Joelle Ruby Ryan and his ongoing attempts to harass, bully, censor and silence women and feminists on the internet, and the University of New Hampshire’s apparent complicity in his outrageous and illegal actions which Ryan claims to perform under authority of UNH.

You may notice that this week’s post -where we discussed ‘Transilience’, Joelle Ruby Ryan’s new University of New Hampshire Health sponsored video- is no longer visible. Also missing are your comments in the discussion that followed. The reason for this is that UNH’s Dr. Ryan has filed a false, perjured, harassing copyright claim that he apparently hopes will re-write all previous first amendment rights. Here is a screen cap of the post in question:

what it looks like when WordPress.com hides your post

Here is the entire text of that post, none of which Dr. Ryan had a problem with. It was succinctly titled “Transilience – Hilar!” and read:

Joelle Ruby Ryan’s new autobiographical spoken word/stand-up routine.

Joe is the guy who teaches Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire who claims the word “female” is outdated and offensive, that there is no shared experience of oppression among women, and thus no class basis for a feminist movement. Joelle believes all female gatherings and spaces should be outlawed as discriminatory against males. More about Joe here:https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/?s=joelle+ruby+ryan

In this looong monologue, the 6 foot 6, 350 lb Ryan shares his youthful experiences being called a “fag” which somehow translates into discovering the sexxay of pantyhose on his shaved legs and a love of stilettos. He shares tales of blowing chunks of sushi all over during drunken binges, and reveals the peace he achieves taking long 4am walks around town alone.

Excerpt: “Mother Nature is a great teacher. I am continually amazed at the kindness and cruelty of the natural world. And by the breadth of diversity to be found within it. When I gaze at flowers I see so many different colors. When I look at trees I see so many different leaves and barks. When I look at stones, I see many different shapes and sizes. Some smooth, some rough. At the ocean, I marvel at the teeming life to be found in it’s depths. Each individual creature so unique, diverse, and crucial, to the well-being of the whole eco-system. Human beings come in many different colors, shapes, and sizes too. They also come in many different sexes, genders, and sexualities. And yet, the very vibrant diversity we can see so easily in the natural world, becomes much harder to see when it comes to human gender. Black or white. Either/Or. One or the other. Why can’t we transpose the brilliant hues we see in flowers to the myriad of genders we know exists in humans? I am an audacious orange flower blooming in the sun and delighting in the soft summer rain. I am also a person who demands the right to be ambiguous, fluid, and defiantly, boldly, queer. I almost never for instance wear breast prostheses. And while I wholeheartedly support the choice to do so, made by many of my sisters, I do not wish to wear silicone mounds on my chest to make others feel more comfortable.”

FORTY MINUTES of this, folks! ENJOY!

Posted by GallusMag

Here is a copy of the University of New Hampshire’s Dr. Ryan’s false DMCA claim [sic]:

Email Address: Joelle.Ryan@unh.edu
Location of copyrighted work (where your original material is located):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ7eeRCdX9k
First Name: Dr. Joelle Ruby
Last Name: Ryan
Company Name: Univesity of New Hampshire (UNH)
Address Line 1: 73 Main Street
Address Line 2: 203 Huddleston Hall
City: Durham
State/Region/Province: NH
Zip/Postal Code: 03820
Country: USA
Telephone Number: 603-862-0272
Copyright holder you represent (if other than yourself): Self and UNH
Please describe the copyrighted work so that it may be easily identified: The film itself is embedded without my or the university’s permission, along with a copyrighted still from the film, and both are placed on a vicious hate blog which has a long history of defamation, hate-mongering, bigotry and threats against members of the transgender and transsexual community. I would never give permission for my film or stills from said film to be used on a hate site. Please remove the blog entry immediately.
Location (URL) of the unauthorized material on a WordPress.com site (NOT simply the primary URL of the site – example.wordpress.com; you must provide the full and exact permalink of the post, page, or image where the content appears, one per line) :
https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/transilience-hilar/
If the infringement described above is represented by a third-party link to a downloadable file (e.g. 
http://rapidshare.com/files/…), please provide the URL of the file (one per line):
I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.: Yes
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.: Yes
Signed on this date of (today’s date, MM/DD/YYYY): 03/09/2013
Signature (your digital signature is legally binding): Dr. Joelle Ruby Ryan

You will immediately note a few things.

Joelle Ruby Ryan identifies himself as University of New Hampshire representative

  1. Joelle Ruby Ryan identifies himself as a designated representative of the University of New Hampshire who is acting on authority of that institution.
  2. Ryan claims that using the “embed” function on YouTube videos is a form of copyright infringement. That is simply false. Not only false, but absurd. When University of New Hampshire Health (or anyone else) posts an embeddable public video: anyone, anywhere can embed that video on any site for any reason. You can read about that in an article titled “Court Rules That Embedding A Video Isn’t Copyright Violation” here: http://www.geekosystem.com/embedding-video-copyright-infringement/
  3. Dr. Ryan also claims that a still image from a public video, used for purposes of critique and discussion of that public media, is a form of copyright infringement. Again, an absurd claim that runs in opposition to all known First Amendment law. You can read about that here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

You can also read YouTube’s standard terms of service which state:

http://www.youtube.com/static?gl=US&template=terms

Section 6 (C)

6. Your Content and Conduct

You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service.

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I know, I know. You’re thinking “even a twelve year old knows these things Gallus”. And I agree. They do. We all do. We don’t need a PHD to know that folks- even those we disagree with- are allowed to post about and discuss public media campaigns issued by University of New Hampshire Health, or any other entity. Even your uncle sam’s wedding video could end up “going viral” once he authorizes it’s publication- it happens all the time. Free Speech!

So why is a self-declared agent of the University of New Hampshire filing perjurous, false, ABSURD legal documents against a small Lesbian Feminist blog?

The only conclusion I can reach is that Dr. Joelle Ruby Ryan may be falsely representing himself as an agent of the University of New Hampshire. I reach this conclusion because I think UNH attorneys would not authorize false and frivilous, perjurous claims against Lesbian Feminist bloggers. They might, wisely, consider such actions a form of stalking and harassment- actions which the University of New Hampshire may well be liable for.

I look forward to the impending legal proceedings which were initiated by an agent of the University of New Hampshire on the basis of their claim that posting a YouTube video on a blog is an actionable copyright infringement. I also look forward to the upcoming legal proceedings initiated by the University of New Hampshire against a Lesbian feminist blogger for publishing a still from a UNH Health video for purposes of critique and discussion.

When a publicly funded university mounts such an incredible First Amendment challenge to the rights of bloggers to embed, screen-cap, write about, discuss, and critique the media campaigns published by them one can only wonder in awe which of the University of New Hampshire attorneys authorized such an action. This promises to be a fascinating – even surreal- legal exercise. One which I suspect will not end in favor of the civil liberties restrictions being litigated by the University of New Hampshire and it’s agents.

In the meantime, while the attorneys do their work, I would like to ask for your help.

I would like your help in celebrating our most basic first amendment rights: as bloggers, as women, as feminists and feminist allies, as lesbians and as gays.

I call on you to protest the University of New Hampshire sanctioned harassment of GenderTrender and all other feminist, lesbian, and gender critical bloggers and blog readers by making a post that includes either the video ‘Transilience’ or a screencap of such.

That’s right!

Feel free to copy and paste this post on your own blog or tumblr blog. Feel free to make your own post sharing your thoughts and impressions of Joelle Ruby Ryan’s UNH Health video. Feel free to create amusing and charming memes featuring these materials. The key words here are “Feel Free”. Because it is legal, it is our right to do so, it is protected speech (University of New Hampshire claims notwithstanding). Let’s enjoy and EXERCISE our free speech rights as Feminists and Women and say NO to infringements of our civil liberties.

Thank you for your support.

The link to the fully and legally embedable ‘Transilience’ is here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZ7eeRCdX9k

Censorship-

The following essay was posted on the Jewish parenting site Kveller on Dec 3 2012. Within hours, the author’s ex-husband apparently started a campaign on Facebook to bully the author, and the website, into removing her writing. The essay is a holiday time reflection from a woman sharing her thoughts and feelings about remaining in the same small town as her ex-husband and some of the challenges this presents for her. Nothing in the piece is particularly critical of her ex. It is more of a personal reflection of some of her thoughts and experiences.

Nonetheless, within hours, her ex-husband was able to mobilize hundreds of people to complain about the publishing of his ex-wife’s writing.

On what basis?

Her ex-husband is a powerful man. He is a tenured college professor at Yeshiva University, and an author. He has a lot of friends. But more importantly, he is a transgender male who believes a woman never has the right to publicly share her thoughts and feelings about life after divorce if the man she was married to is transgender. Apparently HE is allowed to write and publish and do book readings on the topic of his life changes, but SHE is not.

You can read the hundreds of nasty comments left by his friends, and transgender activists – including Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland calling for censorship of this author. But you will have to read them via Google Cache HERE (before it expires) because, unbelievably, her ex-husband was successful in having her essay pulled from the site after a two-day campaign.

Was there something objectionable about the piece? Was it a personal attack against her ex-husband? Did it contain “dirty laundry”? Was it libelous? Was it discriminatory against transgender people? No. Her husband’s censorship campaign rested on the fact that she referred in her essay to her husband of twenty years with the pronoun “He” and “him”, because she had been married to A MAN.

Do you find it hard to believe that an ex-husband could so effectively censor and harass his ex-wife?

Not only is Joy Ladin harassing his ex-wife online but last week his friends prevented her from doing a local book reading by reportedly showing up and shouting profanity and threatening violence until the police had to be called. You can read about that HERE.

So. It’s time to make up your own mind. Did Christine Benvenuto write an essay that warranted censorship, or is her ex-husband Joy Ladin conducting a vicious campaign of harassment against her with the intent of destroying her ability to continue making a living as a writer?

Brought to you by GenderTrender: the site where readers get to make up their OWN minds:

The following is a re-print of the censored article, followed by a copy of the Kveller website’s censorship notice. Reprinted unedited under Fair Use.

——————————————————–

Dec 3 2012

Staying in the Same Town as My Ex

By Christine Benvenuto at 9:54 am

Recently, one of my children was referred to a new doctor. Somewhat unusually, my ex came along to the appointment.

The doctor entered the room where we sat waiting, introduced herself, and greeted my child. I introduced myself as my child’s mother. “And who are you?” the doctor asked my ex. “I’m the other parent,” my ex replied stiffly. “The other parent,” the doctor echoed, laughing and nodding. I could see her assessing the situation, making the obvious assumption about our family composition: I had given birth to my child. Her “other parent” was my former lesbian partner. Half right. Sketching in our child’s medical profile the doctor asked some questions about her brother and sister, and we provided the necessary information.

“But do they have the same father?” the doctor inquired. What she meant but didn’t say was, “Do they have the same sperm donor?”

“Yes,” we said in unison. What we meant but didn’t say was, “Yes, and you are looking at him.”

A funny thing happened on the way to my becoming a single mom.

My husband and I got together in our teens. More than 20 years and three children later, he decided to live the rest of his life as a woman. Our marriage melted along with his masculinity. I went through the anguish any woman might over the unexpected demise of a long and happy marriage. I faced the usual potpourri of dread–of penury, isolation–when I contemplated raising three children alone, the youngest still in diapers. Worse, I felt crushed by a sense that the reason for my marriage’s demise said something so terrible about me it would be intolerable to remain in a place in which it was public knowledge. Exactly what it said, I wasn’t sure. Maybe that was part of what made it so awful.

Everything was changing. I thought that where my children and I lived would have to change right along with it. But I love where I live. More importantly, my children are fiercely attached to it. They like that when my friends spot them in town without me, they want to know who they are with and what they are up to. They like knowing the trees that are tapped for our syrup and the chickens providing our eggs. They like noticing the way the flocks of turkeys who usually tie up traffic on our roads seem to go into hiding just before Thanksgiving each year only to reappear when it’s safely over.

Still. Weren’t we fighting a losing battle, hanging onto a place just because it was where we had once been happy? I couldn’t go, but how could I stay?

Finally someone offered the most profound insight into my situation I have heard to date, uttering the words that set me free from this stalemate: “You aren’t the first woman to marry a jerk, and you won’t be the last.”

Ah!

She was saying I had nothing to be ashamed of. My ex’s choices didn’t reflect badly on me. When a guy dumps a wife and young children for another woman, people–the wife in question, certainly–are more likely to think, “What a jerk!” than, “What a hero!” Why should it be any different just because the other woman is the guy?

I’ve stayed–so far. As long I remain I can’t ever get entirely away from my past, but then maybe I don’t want to. It’s mine, after all. Everything my eyes rest on, every Fall Foliage banner, every coffee shop and playground, recalls some moment of my children’s lives, some treasure I never want to lose. I was happy before. I’m happy now. I’ve made a new life without leaving. Astoundingly, I’ve moved on without leaving home.

On the other hand, I also can’t get entirely away from my ex’s presence. There’s no upside to that one. I can’t know when, not if but when, my ex will pop up somewhere or sometime I least expect him.

Last December I was behind the wheel of a pickup truck, a little before 9 in the morning, after delivering my children to their schools. I was headed downhill on a narrow winding road, a horse pasture on the other side of the fence on my left. There is an entrance to the pasture at the bottom of the hill but few vehicles stop there. I was expecting a 40 mile an hour shot down the hill, through the tiny town center and up another hill to where I live, what National Public Radio calls my local member station muttering sedately at the outskirts of my attention all the while. Then two things happened.

My former husband was in the truck. That is, his voice was in the truck. His odd, grown-male-straining-for-the-uppermost-register-of-his-voice voice. Saying his name. Saying, “What the holidays mean to me is–.”

I reached the knob in time to spare myself anything further. I didn’t learn what the holidays mean to my ex. Presumably not celebrating with his family. Not the intention, unfulfilled yearly, to make it to the lighting of the town menorah. Not the intention, always fulfilled, to light every menorah we own at least one night of Hanukkah. Not the turns around a frozen pond in skates bought long ago for other feet. Not New Year’s Eve in front of the fire, at least one child struggling to remain head up and eyes open. Not these things he isn’t around for.

The radio station was engaged in a December campaign, trite but previously benign, of playing the voices of area residents saying Feliz Navidad or Happy Solstice. I was engaged in a December campaign of tuning them out. Why my former husband? How did they choose him? In their efforts to be inclusive did they feel that merely by airing his voice, regardless of what he said, they could have a demographic covered? I couldn’t think about it right then. I was too busy stomping on the brake, trying not to rear-end the truck in front of me that had, in the split second I was devoting to my radio knob, stopped at the pasture gate. I just made it.

Usually the omnipresence of Bing Crosby and the Chipmunks is enough reason to avoid the radio this time of year. Now I had another. In subsequent days I had several opportunities to lunge for the dial. Friends caught the spot and shared their unique takes on it. “My husband said he heard your ex on the radio advertising himself,” one reported. “Why would he be advertising himself?” she wondered. “My husband said whatever the reason was, if he gets any money out of it he hopes he will give some of it to his family.”

So yes, my ex recurs like Christmas carols. But I don’t have to let him drown out the rest of my life. I knew the holidays would soon be over, and the echoes of his voice along with them.

worst-part-of-censorship-button-0874

 The following is the notice of censorship published by the Kveller website:

Dec 5 2012

A Note to Our Readers

By Kveller at 12:07 pm

Kveller has always prided itself on being a place where people can discuss the most challenging parts of life and parenting—infertility, death, and yes, divorce.

We have seen how much support, encouragement, and affirmation people feel when their voices are heard and their deepest disappointments and difficulties are shared and discussed.

The honesty and courage of our writers are what have made Kveller such a compelling and valuable website.

At the same time, the social utility of our articles is something we take seriously. We want Kveller to help people feel more confident, more secure, more understood. Unfortunately, our decision to publish “Staying in the Same Town as My Ex” in the form that it was in has undermined that effort, and thus we have decided to remove it from the website.

When it comes to issues that impact a historically (and currently) persecuted community it is our responsibility as editors to be extra sensitive to the exact language being used. Kveller and its parent organization MyJewishLearning are committed to honoring the identities and life experience of all people, including transgender people. We do not believe that this article was meant to be transphobic, but we do believe that our failures in the editing process created an article that could be read that way, which is not good for the writer, Kveller, and most importantly, the LGBT community, which Kveller and MyJewishLearning are dedicated to supporting and working with to create a more inclusive Jewish community.

Joy Ladin Thanks Kveller for Censoring his ex-wife's work.

Joy Ladin Thanks Kveller for Censoring his ex-wife’s work.

In a stunning announcement by UK’s Conway Hall, once a bastion of free speech, intellectual diversity and controversial views (hell, they even rented space to the fricken National Front for many years) Conway Hall has announced that all female-only gatherings are henceforth banned from the venue:

Statement Regarding RadFem 2012

In consultation with the organisers of RadFem 2012 and our legal advisors, Conway Hall has decided not to allow the booking in July 2012 to proceed. This is because it does not conform to our Terms and Conditions for hiring rooms at Conway Hall. In addition, we are not satisfied it conforms with the Equality Act (2010), or reflects our ethos regarding issues of discrimination.

We had sought assurances that the organisers would allow access to all, in order to enable the event to proceed at the venue. We also expressed concern that particular speakers would need to be made aware that whilst welcoming progressive thinking and debate, Conway Hall seeks to uphold inclusivity in respect of both legal obligations and as a principle. 

In the absence of the assurances we sought, the event in its proposed form could not proceed at Conway Hall.

That said, we recognise the breadth of debate to be had amongst the feminist and transgender communities and it is our sincere hope that there will be constructive and positive dialogue on these matters going forward.

In response to Sheila Jeffreys’ online Guardian article in their ‘Comment is free’ section, dated 29th May 2012, we would like it to be known that Conway Hall has in the past made clear that speakers / attendees at events for other hirers will not be permitted where we have felt that these individuals have expressed and may express (on our premises) views which conflict with our ethos, principles, and culture; the reference to David Irving was simply one of the examples given.

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NOTICE: The RadFem2012 Conference has NOT been cancelled and WILL go forth at an alternate venue.