Support Women's Sexual Autonomy -- No Means No!

Planned Parenthood Toronto is helping to sponsor a March 31 conference in Toronto that includes a workshop inviting participants to discuss and strategize ways they might be able to "overcome" women's objections to these participants' sexual advances.  We believe that no means no, that a woman's right to say "no" to sex at any time is sacrosanct and that no explanations should ever be requested because none is ever necessary.   The name of the workshop proposed is "Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling:  Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women."  The workshop facilitator has defined the "Cotton Ceiling" as follows:

The cotton ceiling is a theory proposed ... to explain the experiences queer trans women have with simultaneous social inclusion and sexual exclusion within the broader queer women's communities. Basically, it means that cis queer women will be friends with us and talk day and night about trans rights and ending transmisogyny, but will still not consider us viable sexual partners.

The term cotton ceiling is a reference to the "glass ceiling" that second wave feminist identified in the workforce, wherein women could only advance so high in the workforce but could not break through into positions of power and authority. The cotton represents underwear, signifying sex
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Please sign this petition and ask Planned Parenthood to withdraw their support from this workshop and to continue their legacy of support for women's sexual autonomy.

Information about the conference can be found here.

We write in response to the inclusion of the workshop "Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women" in the Pleasures and Possibilities Conference you are sponsoring, scheduled for March 12, 2012 in Toronto.

According to information we have been provided by the proposed presenter, Morgan Page, the contents of this workshop are as follows:

"The cotton ceiling is a theory proposed by trans porn star and activist Drew DeVeaux to explain the experiences queer trans women have with simultaneous social inclusion and sexual exclusion within the broader queer women's communities. Basically, it means that cis queer women will be friends with us and talk day and night about trans rights and ending transmisogyny, but will still not consider us viable sexual partners.

"The term cotton ceiling is a reference to the "glass ceiling" that second wave feminist identified in the workforce, wherein women could only advance so high in the workforce but could not break through into positions of power and authority. The cotton represents underwear, signifying sex.

"The theory of the cotton ceiling is useful in identifying the dynamic trans women are experiencing, and is meant to open up conversation around desirability's intersections with transmisogyny and transphobia." (Email to Cathy Brennan, dated March 12, 2012).

Does Planned Parenthood agree and endorse the notion that women's rejection of sexual advances -- of any kind, any time -- is analagous to employment discrimination and its sexist underpinnings? Does Planned Parenthood agree that women refusing sexual advances can be cast as prejudiced or bigoted somehow, and that successfully subduing or overcoming women's objections to sexual advances ought to be be rightly construed, not as the coercion these are, but as some sort of "break through" into [a position] of power and authority"? Is our sexual freedom going to be reduced once again to a social problem to be overcome? In fact, our freedom as women to choose -- based on our own autonomous sexual desires and longings -- who we will and will not love, who will or will not have access to our bodies and lives, was and continues to be absolutely central and integral to our liberation as human beings. Without this central and unqualified freedom and respect, there is no liberation for us.

We sincerely hope including this workshop was a simple mistake, an oversight, a failure of communication. But whether it was or was not, we appeal to you as a highly-respected organization, dedicated to the liberation of women for many years, not to lend your support to this workshop, any similar workshop or these ideas, now or in the future.
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