Trans Rights, Freedom of the Press, and More: Recommended Reading


Here at Flavorwire, we pride ourselves on not only writing excellent content, but also keeping an eye on other great writing from around the web. This may be a predominantly arts/culture-centric website, but given the immediate gravity of U.S. politics, we’ve been focusing this outward-looking post on indispensable political writing, as well as the occasional culture piece. This week, there’s a piece by Janet Mock in the New York Times discussing the generation gap in trans rights discourse; a huge New Yorker article on Trump and Russia; breaking news of reporters from mainstream news organizations being barred entry to a press briefing with Sean Spicer; and more.

The March 6 issue of the New Yorker has a massive story, by Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa, that provides one of the more panoramic overviews you’ll have seen about Russia’s seeming interventions in the recent election. This extensive piece wanders though a vast perspective, encompassing between the Trump Campaign, the Clinton Campaign, the Obama camp, and even Vladimir Putin’s childhood. Here’s a snippet:

During the transition, officials in the Obama Administration were hearing that Trump was somehow compromised or beholden to Russian interests. “The Russians make investments in people not knowing the exact outcome,” one senior Administration official said. “They obtain leverage on those people, too.” No conclusive evidence has yet emerged for such suspicions about Trump. Another Administration official said that, during the transfer of power, classified intelligence had shown multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russian representatives, but nothing that rose to the level of aiding or coördinating the interference with the election. “We had no clear information—that I was aware of—of collusion,” the official said. That question, however, persists, and will likely be a central focus for congressional investigators.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, gets into detail on the cover of said upcoming issue of the New Yorker, illustrated by Barry Blitt:

The first New Yorker cover, featuring the iconically monocled character Eustace Tilley, landed on news stands 92 years ago this month. Now, in a nod to both the anniversary and our modern geopolitical times, the magazine’s mascot has been transformed into “Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley,” who turns his glassy gaze toward a small, fluttering Donald Trump.

The Guardian reports on how they — alongside the New York Times, CNN, and other outlets — weren’t allowed into “gaggle hours” with Sean Spicer (a thing that, yes, does induce gagging, but that is also imperative to maintaining freedom of the press rather than the nationalist propaganda machine Donald Trump desires):

The decision to limit access to Spicer, hours after Trump once again declared that much of the media was “the enemy of the American people” while speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, marked a dramatic shift. While prior administrations have occasionally held background briefings with smaller groups of reporters, it is highly unusual for the White House to cherry-pick which media outlets can participate in what would have otherwise been the press secretary’s televised daily briefing.

Janet Mock has written a piece in the New York Times responding to Trump’s recent order to rescind the guidance issued by Obama about gender-segregated bathrooms in schools. She reminisces on her own experiences having been banned from using the women’s bathroom in high school (after having begun to identify as trans in the seventh grade), and continues to discuss how adults imposing their prejudices on her peers had a ripple effect:

To say that I loved school would be an understatement. It was my oasis, my sanctuary… Things began to shift after that administrator blocked me from going into the restroom with my girlfriends. I was pulled out of class my sophomore year whenever I wore a skirt, a blouse or a dress — anything that didn’t fit the school’s binary constrictions. I was sent home to change a dozen times that year. I was repeatedly called out of my name and by the wrong gender pronoun by school bullies — but most often by the adults charged with creating a safe, welcoming and affirming space for students.

Rumana Ahmed, a former employee at the National Security Council, writes for the Atlantic about what it was like being the only hijab-wearing Muslim woman in the West Wing, working under the Trump administration following her time under Obama — and having “last[ed] eight days.” She discusses how she quit upon the executive order banning Syrian refugees and travelers from seven Muslim majority countries:

I might have lasted a little longer. Then came January 30. The executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries caused chaos, without making America any safer. Discrimination that has existed for years at airports was now legitimized, sparking mass protests, while the president railed against the courts for halting his ban. Not only was this discrimination and un-American, the administration’s actions defending the ban threatened the nation’s security and its system of checks and balances.

The New York Times Magazine published an extensive feature on shifts to the meaning of the “American Working Class.” Because of ever-increasing mechanization, working class jobs still exist, but more in service fields, and that, they emphasize, is the future of the working class. They profiled nine people working various service jobs, with a long introduction by Binyamin Applebaum:

The wages of service work increasingly determine the welfare of the American working class and, to a substantial degree, the broader economy. But politicians have paid little attention. That’s partly because Americans continue to view service work as a way station, not a way of life. Teenagers get their first job at McDonald’s; mothers dip back into the work force as receptionists; seniors make a little extra money as Walmart greeters. The reality is that these are the kinds of jobs millions of Americans hold for their entire working lives. And increasingly, these are the jobs their children will perform, too.