Down-ballot Democrats raised millions, far outpacing their opponents. They didn’t make an argument.

Image for post
Image for post
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden ended up winning a closer-than-the-polls-showed election, but down-ballot Democrats across the country weren’t so lucky. Democratic candidates failed to take a clean majority in the Senate; they now need to sweep the two Georgia run-off elections set for this January. In the House, Democrats lost much of their majority, which they had expected to expand earlier this year.

The finger-pointing started almost immediately, with establishment Democrats blaming the party’s left-wing for losses within their own ranks, saying that activist slogans like “defund the police,” or policies like the Green New Deal were an anchor around the necks of Democratic candidates in swing districts. …

Noted centrist election-loser Claire McCaskill blames anemic Democratic performance on “transsexual” rights

Image for post
Image for post
(Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In what is quickly becoming a quadrennial tradition, pundits, and centrist politicians have hopped on the “blame the tr*nnies” bandwagon to explain why Democrats lost several eminently winnable races this year.

Former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill blamed this year’s weak Democratic sown ballot election performance on “cultural issues” like abortion, gay rights, and her party’s support for “transsexual” rights in an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday night.

Four years ago, it was the likes of the New York Times’ Frank Bruni, The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer, and even Saturday Night Live repeating the refrain.

Despite the commonality of this claim, there again, like four years ago, is simply no evidence to back it up. Trans issues were largely ignored this election cycle, by everyone. …

With *waves hands vaguely at everything* I can’t seem to do what I love at the moment.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

I was supposed to write an election-related post today. It was a cool idea I was excited to write. But when I sat down this morning to write it, the words just wouldn’t come forth.

This is not the first time lately that this has happened to me. For a professional writer like me, it’s very concerning, to say the least.

The truth is I’m a mess. The state of my apartment is disgusting, with dishes piling up in the sink, takeout bags next to my couch and a box for some shelves I put together weeks ago still laying on my living room floor. …

Good news from a state obsessed with marginalizing queer people

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Two weeks after dropping language protecting LGBTQ patients from discrimination in its code of conduct, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners reversed course, unanimously voting to reinstate protections.

The reversal came after 24,000 people had signed a petition organized by the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers opposing the state board’s rollback of patient protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

On Tuesday, the chapter applauded the board’s decision to reconsider. “This was a big win today for advocacy, the board and for nondiscrimination,” the association’s executive director, Will Francis, told NBC News. “But this is still Texas, and there are not underlying protections for LGBTQ persons. …

He’d be banished from public life forever. Instead, media men are imploring for forgiveness.

Image for post
Image for post
(Credit: Mychal Watts/Getty Images)

New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin was suspended Monday for allegedly masturbating on camera during an election-related Zoom call, according to a VICE report. The details of the incident quickly caught the attention of social media users, who immediately mocked the journalist and CNN legal analyst.

Toobin’s excuse was that he didn’t realize that his camera was on and he could be seen by his New Yorker colleagues, without acknowledging that he probably should have at least waited for non-work time to whip out his hog.

“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” Toobin told Motherboard. “I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. …

But he stumbled along the way

Image for post
Image for post
Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty

Transgender rights have yet to emerge as a major campaign focus in the presidential election, despite rumors that a large faction of conservatives wanted to use the issue to attack Democrats, according to an August POLITICO report. But after months of silence on the issue, trans rights finally received a bit of primetime spotlight.

At a presidential town hall hosted by ABC News last Thursday, a mom of a transgender girl asked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden what steps he would take to reverse the Trump administration’s attacks on trans rights. Biden’s response was immediate and forceful.

“Flat out just change the law,” Biden said. “There should be zero discrimination.” …

Introducing myself — journalist Katelyn Burns

Image for post
Image for post
The writer — Katelyn Burns. Credit: Katelyn Burns

All I remember is that I was supposed to be covering a congressional hearing about some abortion-related issue inside the US Capitol one July day in 2018. It was about 15 minutes after the world learned that Justice Anthony Kennedy — the swing vote in, to that point, the most consequential queer legal case in US history — announced his retirement from the Supreme Court.

I had also just received some disturbing personal news. …

So I deactivated my Twitter account…

Image for post
Image for post

Look I’ll keep this short. Twitter is rather pointless for much of anything beyond meeting people with similar identities and interests. In terms of actual ideological engagement, the platform magnifies a sense of conflict. It’s hard to remember that Twitter is just a random set of individuals spouting off at the mouth.

There are no roving bands of Berniebros, there are no Clintonistas, no armies of trans rights activists or TERFs, just people with fingers and opinions. We’re not armies fighting for fairness and truth, just people trying to exist and survive in a world that’s scary and shifting beneath our feet. …

Image for post
Image for post
A screenshot of Murphy testifying against a Canadian bill that banned hate speech against trans people

It leaves out a range of personal experience

Late last week, while I was sharing Thanksgiving with my two best friends, Feminist Current editor Meghan Murphy published a piece criticizing UK-based trans journalist Shon Faye for not understanding gender-based oppression. However, within her analysis of gender class both in this piece and elsewhere, Murphy presents a reductionist ideology that’s devoid of nuance.

Faye expresses in her Guardian piece that the basis for female oppression lays in their reproductive abilities, a fact that few trans feminists would dispute. In her piece, Murphy responds by detailing how that oppression affects women. “Indeed, women’s oppression under patriarchy began as a means for men to control women’s reproductive capability. …


Katelyn Burns

Political journalist. The first openly trans Capitol Hill reporter in US history. Writing about more than just trans issues. Follow her on Twitter @transscribe

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store