Tuesday, February 21, 2017

We Are On The Bus

Most of the time I write about us getting thrown under the bus but this time we are on the bus.
Transgender school bus driver, Navy veteran embraces life she knew was hers
The Orange County Register
By David Whiting
Feb. 20, 2017

The yellow school bus doors swing open and a gaggle of kids climb the stairs as one kindergartner squeals out, “Ms. Marsha, you look boo-ti-ful today!”

The bus driver beams. She is feeling terrific and took extra time to dress up a bit more than usual, get her makeup just right.

But the comment means more than the little boy knows.

Marsha Morgan, a 55-year-old school bus driver, isn’t used to such compliments.

As a he, Morgan served two tours of duty in the Persian Gulf as a sonar technician on a fast-attack submarine. As a he, Marsha also was married to a woman.

In some ways, the 6-foot-2 Morgan still is a he. But that will change forever in April when Morgan will become Kaiser Permanente’s first Southern California gender reassignment surgery patient.

For this nation’s estimated 1.6 million transgender people, tolerance is changing as well.
“The times they are a changin” at least for the better in nineteen states and it is nice to see bus company obeying the law and judging by the way the children treated her they didn’t have a problem with her transition, most children don’t unless their parents make a stink, they just see it as different and move along with their life.

I have to wonder if she transitioned in Texas or Tennessee if she would be treated the same way?

Signing Away Your Rights

Have you ever read the fine print of credit card companies, rental car companies, your employment agreement, or any other contract? More and more companies are burying binding arbitration in the contracts.

I read Google News headline and one of them popped out at me…
Uber is not the only tech company that mishandles sexual harassment claims
By Megan Rose Dickey
February 20, 2017

On Sunday, a female former Uber engineer detailed her experiences of sexual harassment during her one-year stint at the multibillion-dollar company.

The engineer, Susan Fowler, said she experienced sexual harassment and had reported it to Uber’s human resources department but to no avail. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has since said that he plans to investigate.

Unfortunately, Fowler’s experience with sexual harassment at Uber does not seem to be uncommon in the tech industry, with 60 percent of women in tech reporting receiving unwanted sexual advances, according to the 2016 Elephant in the Valley survey. Fowler’s failed attempt to receive help from Uber’s HR department also seems to be common at tech companies.

We’ve been hearing about sexual harassment for years in the tech industry, perhaps most notably beginning with Ellen Pao’s 2012 sexual discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. In 2014, now-former GitHub engineer Julie Ann Horvath detailed her experiences of sexism and intimidation and just last year, Amelie Lamont, a former employee Squarespace, alleged overt racism and sexism at the company.
When you click on “I Agree” you just signed away all your legal rights! And sometimes you don't even have to click on "I Agree," more on that later.

They pick the arbitrator and you can bet your bottom dollar that the arbitrator knows where their paycheck gets signed.

Even the state of Connecticut falls into the binding arbitration trap, according to the New Haven Register,
With even Gov. Dannel Malloy acknowledging that binding arbitration for municipal government employee union contracts may be a bit of a problem amid state government’s worsening insolvency, maybe sensible change is coming to Connecticut. But what the governor has proposed is timid, little more than an invitation to the General Assembly to discuss the issue, which is the last thing legislators want to do, lest they provoke the unions and all the government employees living in their districts.

But this would leave the binding arbitration system in place, a system that removes most of a municipal budget from the ordinary democratic process. The governor’s proposal is not likely to save any significant money for the public.

Elected officials want binding arbitration almost as much as government employee unions do because they don’t want to have to be seen choosing between taxpayers and government employees. Elected officials want someone else — those unelected arbiters — to take responsibility for the big decisions that drive municipal taxes up or public services down every year. Elected officials want to be able to shrug and proclaim their helplessness to their constituents.
In other words we could vote down a budget and it gets reinstated by an arbitrator and there is nothing that the town can do because a lot of times in the contract there is a clause that says disagreements will be settled by arbitration.

A NPR article tackles binding arbitration,
Have We Lost A Constitutional Right In The Fine Print?
November 12, 2015

Fresh Air
New York Times reporter Jessica Silver-Greenberg says many companies' contracts force consumers to settle complaints through arbitration instead of in court, and include bans on class action suits.

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross, who has a couple of days off. Think for a moment, and you can probably remember a dozen times when you've signed a contract or clicked a box online, agreeing to a long list of terms you never read. Our guest, New York Times business reporter Jessica Silver-Greenberg, says embedded in many of those agreements for cell phones, rental cars, as well as employment contracts and countless other goods and services, are a few words which have dramatically altered consumers' ability to challenge deceptive business practices. Companies now require their customers to agree to pursue any complaint through a private arbitration process, rather than going to court. Also included in many of these clauses are bans on class action lawsuits where a large group of consumers could join together to pool resources and reveal a widespread pattern of illegal or deceptive practices. The right to require arbitration was ratified in a series of battles in the Supreme Court, which, Silver-Greenberg says, was engineered by a Wall Street coalition of credit card companies and retailers. Silver-Greenberg and her co-authors, reporters Michael Corkery and Robert Gebeloff reviewed thousands of court records and conducted hundreds of interviews for a three- part series which ran recently in The New York Times. I spoke to Jessica Silver-Greenberg on Tuesday.
JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG: So arbitration - I think the simplest way to think about it is it's a parallel system. So it's a parallel to court. So it's a private system where there is no judge, there is no jury, and the rules are set up slightly different - well, some would say very different - from court. Instead of a judge presiding over your case, you'll have what's called a neutral, an arbitrator - typically a retired judge or a lawyer who will decide the outcome of your case. And then there are all these kind of steps from there, but that's the basic setup. Arbitration was designed - in its ideal form, it was designed to really be a system where companies of equal bargaining power went to work out their disputes. So say they had a dispute over a widget, and they wanted - instead of a judge, they wanted the expert on widgets to preside over their case. Well, they could do that. They could avoid the sometimes costly and bureaucratic procedures in court and go to this alternative forum. But in that instance, it would be two entities that were agreeing to go. What we have in the consumer context and the employment context is far different.
Think about this, your employer here in Connecticut comes right out and says “Your fired because we don’t want you people working here.

This is blatantly discrimination based on your gender identity, no ifs, ands, or buts. So you file a complaint with the CHRO and you go see a lawyer and it gets thrown out because when you were hired your signed a binding arbitration agreement.

So you go to binding arbitration, the company hires the arbitrator. The arbitrator hears your case but finds in favor of the company. What can you do… absolutely nothing because you signed your legal rights away.

Think this is farfetched?
Judge: Airbnb Can Force Users’ Racial Discrimination Claims Out Of Courtroom
By Chris Morran
November 1, 2016

A large — and growing — number of companies use arbitration clauses in their overlong, legalese-stuffed customer agreements to prevent customers from bringing lawsuits and joining together in class actions, but can that arbitration agreement be used to avoid legal liability for possible violations of federal civil rights law? According to one federal judge, yes.

In March 2015, a man named Gregory Selden was planning a visit to Philadelphia and signed up for Airbnb on his iPhone. He created his account and uploaded a photo of himself to the site. Selden, an African-American, then says he tried to rent a listed home from a host named Paul, only to have Paul give him the bad news that this room was no longer available.

However, Selden says that he soon noticed that this same listing was still posted as available to rent on Airbnb. Curious to find out if he’d been rejected by the host because of the color of his skin, Selden created copycat accounts under the name of “Jessie,” a white male whose profile was otherwise no different from Selden’s, and “Todd,” an older white male. Both accounts tried to reserve the same listing and same time period for which Selden had been rejected, and he says both fictional guests’ requests were accepted by Paul.
When Selden signed up for Airbnb on his iPhone, he did not even have to check a box to say that he’d read the site’s user agreement. Instead, as you can see on the left, the Airbnb terms are passively agreed to by simply “signing up” for the site.
They have us over a barrel!

There is nothing that we can do because the cable company, electric company, and just about every “I Agree” have an arbitrator clause in it. You want any service you have to sign it or you will not have electricity, or gas, or cable, or a credit card.

It’s All Talk

But that is what she does. She‘s on talk television show in London.
Cumbrian transgender broadcaster 'surprised and gobsmacked' at award nomination
News & Star
21 February 2017

The Cumbrian journalist who become the first transgender woman to present an all-female TV talk show has been short-listed for a prestigious award.

India Willoughby, 51, who has always been determined to ensure her transition was not a reason to end her career in the media, said she was “gobsmacked” to have been nominated for event that has become the Oscars of the LGBT world.

She was nominated by ITV in London.

The broadcaster – which employed India before her transition - has stood by her, and gave her the chance to return to TV reporting.

Her shortlisting followed two much talked bout appearances on ITV's Loose Women.

The nomination states: “Fans of the ITV panel show were thrilled by the journalist’s performance on the show and tweeted their hopes that she would become a permanent fixture, saying 'Loving India. Breaking barriers, addressing stigmas, making way for a new era of acceptance and inclusion in society'."
From what I read the show is something like “The View” her in the states so it is big that she was invited on the show’s panel.

The more we become visibly the more people will come to accept us. Milk was right, coming out helps the community especially now when Republican legislators are passing anti-trans bills and Congress is poised to pass a religious special law granting them exemption from following laws if they feel the law is against their “religious beliefs.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

Maybe This Should Be Titled “My Time In Hell”

We all know what North Carolina’s HB2 is, it the law that bans us from using the facilities of our gender identity among other draconian measure against the LGBT community. Can you imagine what it is like living and working under that law?
My Life as a Trans Woman Teaching High School in a 'Bathroom Bill' State
By Aila Boyd
February 8, 2017
Because none of my coworkers or students knew I was trans, I thought I'd be immune to the effects of government-sanctioned discrimination. I was wrong—I witnessed the consequences of HB2 every day.

e first two professional jobs that I had following my graduation from a fairly liberal, midsized university in Virginia were both in North Carolina, a stark contrast from the openly queer lifestyle that I had taken for granted for while serving as president of my university's Gay-Straight Alliance.

At the time of my move, I considered North Carolina to be a fairly progressive state—most likely because all of the gay clubs that I had ever been to were located there. However, within a month of starting my job as a teacher at a public high school, HB2, the state's notorious "bathroom bill," was passed, legalizing discrimination against trans people in public spaces.

When the legislation took effect, I was terrified. I'm a trans woman, a fact that none of my coworkers or students knew. But despite my fury and disbelief at HB2's passage, I took comfort in the fact that I had already transitioned and had chosen to undergo gender confirmation surgery. I thought that, because I "passed" well, I was immune to the effects of the government-sanctioned discrimination. I was wrong. Although I was never told to use the men's restroom or outed, I witnessed the consequences of HB2 every day.

I started to overhear students joking with each other, saying things like, "You sound like a man," which was always directed at female students. I never heard anything like that before the bill was splashed across the front cover of local and national publications alike. One day, I witnessed a group of high school students wondering aloud how trans people reproduce; one suggested that "transgenders" could give birth through their "butt holes." The group let out a collective giggle, and started to loudly make comments about how "disgusting" the thought was.
When the laws give reign to discrimination the bullies come out of the woodwork because now they have the green light.

She moved to another school which had a strong anti-bullying policy and one of her students was bullying the other classmates,
Eventually, I moved to another school in the state; during my first week there, I was called into the guidance counselor's office following allegations that some students were bullying their androgynous female classmate. The guidance counselor informed me that the school had in place a strict anti-bullying policy, something my own students later reiterated, and something they would typically bring up whenever tensions started to run high in the classroom or when constructive criticisms weren't phrased as gently as they could have been.
One student felt save enough in her class to come out.
Towards the end of the semester, the student who had been bullied during my first week approached me after class and informed me that he actually identified as a trans man, and that he preferred male pronouns and wanted to go by the name Ashton rather than his female birth name. He said that he had wanted to tell me at the beginning of the semester, but was afraid that I would tell his parents. (He only felt comfortable coming to me, he added, because I'd assigned plays like Fences to read in class and taught a lesson about the life and persecution of queer playwright Oscar Wilde.) I reassured him that I would never out him to his parents—or anyone, for that matter—and though I could read his sense of relief immediately, I felt troubled. I was sad that he had assumed that revealing his true gender identity to a teacher was too dangerous to risk, and that he wouldn't be celebrated and embraced for doing so.
It can be hard when you integrate into society and you hide your history, but at the same time you can help other people while keeping your own secret.

Against The Odds

Being a trans person in Texas is hard enough but being a trans wrestle in Texas is even harder.
Transgender teen wins regional wrestling title despite attempt to ban him from competing
Dallas News
By Michael Florek , Staff Writer
February 19, 2017

ALLEN -- The winning wrestler pulled a tearful runner-up next to him on the victory stand, and they exchanged a hug after a match that never took place.

Mack Beggs, a transgender 17-year-old at Euless Trinity, won the girls 110-pound championship at Saturday's Class 6A Region II wrestling meet after a Coppell wrestler forfeited the final. Beggs, a junior, is taking testosterone while transitioning from female to male.

Madeline Rocha's forfeit came 11 days after a lawsuit was filed against the University Interscholastic League by Coppell attorney and wrestling parent Jim Baudhuin, urging the governing body to suspend Beggs because of the use of the steroid. The suit claims that allowing the wrestler to compete while using testosterone exposes other athletes to "imminent threat of bodily harm." Baudhuin's daughter is not in the same weight class as Beggs.
"Today was not about their students winning," said Nancy Beggs, Mack Beggs' grandmother and guardian. "Today was about bias, hatred and ignorance. (Mack Beggs and wrestlers from the Coppell team) have wrestled each other before, they know each other and they were not happy with this."
Mack Beggs began taking testosterone treatments in October 2015, according to posts he made on social media. The three-time state qualifier identifies as male but must compete against girls because of two UIL rules. One policy states student-athletes must compete as the gender listed on their birth certificate. Another specifically prohibits boys from wrestling girls and vice versa.
So basically it is a crazy rule forcing us even with trans boys who  are taking “T” are forced to play on the girls team.
The Texas Education Code and UIL rules prevent steroid use, but the code has a "safe harbor" provision that allows a student to use steroids if they are "dispensed, prescribed, delivered and administered by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose.
The NCAA rules allows are,
NCAA Policy on Transgender Student-Athlete ParticipationThe following policies clarify participation of transgender student-athletes undergoing hormonal treatment for gender transition:
1. A trans male (FTM) student-athlete who has received a medical exception for treatment with testosterone for diagnosed Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for purposes of NCAA competition may compete on a men’s team, but is no longer eligible to compete on a  women’s team without changing that team status to a mixed team.
2. A trans female (MTF) student-athlete being treated with testosterone suppression medication for Gender Identity Disorder or gender dysphoria and/or Transsexualism, for the purposes of NCAA competition may continue to compete on a men’s team but may not compete on a women’s team without changing it to a mixed team status until completing one calendar year of testosterone suppression treatment.
So because of the state’s prejudice against trans people they create these nightmare rules that just don’t make sense and buck national policy.

Geek Challenge

Over the past couple of months I have been trying to load Ubuntu Linux on to a bootable thump drive and I finally succeeded. I mainly did it to use a video editor program called Open Shot but while working on that I came across a RTS game (Real Time Strategy) called 0 A.D. and I am hooked on it.

I figured out how to increase the population and territory, now I am trying to figure out how to enter town phase.  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Non-Profits & Churches

Churches are non-profits not because they are churches but because they are also a corporation and a tax exempt non-profit. The law for non-profits is quit specific you cannot endorse a candidate or political party, but you are allowed to lobby for or against a law up to a certain point.
Utah, LDS Church join 'friend of court' briefs in transgender bathroom case
Deseret News
By Tad Walch
Published: Feb. 17, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church is one of six faith groups that have filed a joint "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing a federal ruling that allows transgender students to use bathrooms matching their stated gender identity.

The brief's purpose "is to inform the court about the sharp clashes with religious belief and practice that will arise if the court interprets the term 'sex' in Title IX to include gender identity," according to a copy of the brief posted by scotusblog.com.

The friends listed in the brief are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Christian Legal Society.
I do not like churches to get involved with legislation, it is their right to do so but I don’t like it. They have too much power over the followers… “You are going to hell! If you don’t pick up your phones and call your legislators to vote against the bill!”

What they are doing is trying to force everyone else to follow their beliefs whether it is abortion, deciding when to end your own life or if you are LGBT. The First Amendment says in part,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
Since the beginning of the Republic it has been interpreted to mean that government could not interfere with what went on inside the church. Now the far right is trying to change that to mean in their everyday life so that they can discriminate against people that they don’t like.

Think about that for a second. Does that mean that someone can discriminate against LGBT people? If they is true, does it mean that you can discriminate against someone because they are black? What about against other religions? And to carry it to the ultimate extreme would they be able to have animal or human sacrifice?

If you say no to human sacrifice then where do you draw the line? Or for that matter who draws the line?

Good Morning, Class. Good Morning, Class. Class? Class!?

Those words made immortal by Sister Mary Elephant while she tries to get the attention of the students, back then if you were trans you could expect to get fired and now you probably a 50/50 chance of getting fried depending upon where you live.
Transgender professor teaches tolerance along with math
Orlando Sentinel
By Gabrielle Russon
February 17, 2017

The professor wastes no time to make a revealing announcement on the first day of class.

Students signed up for Kimberly Milton's math class at Valencia College's west campus. But there is no Kimberly —  it’s Kory, their professor says.

"I’m transgender," Milton says matter-of-factly to the sleepy-eyed students in the 8:30 a.m. class in early January.  "If you have any questions whatsoever, I am an open book about my transition. I’m not in hiding. I’m not afraid to be who I am."

There is no visible reaction among his students —  just like he hoped —  and Milton moves on quickly to talk about his syllabus.

For some of his students, Milton is the first transgender person they have ever met. He accepts that he is an ambassador and hopes the lessons from his class run deeper than how to do intermediate algebra.

“I’m glad they can see another positive role model being trans,” Milton says about pushing for respect in his classroom. “We’re normal people, just like you, who live everyday lives.”
When I do guest lecturers most of the time the professors doesn’t mention that I’m trans and that is the way I like it. When I gave a lecture at a Catholic college this is what some of the students said,
After meeting Diana during Tuesday’s class, I immediately thought about my personal reflection paper and what lessons where taught to me growing up in church and in my family. In all honesty, I never thought I would ever have a lengthy conversation or receive a lecture from someone transgender just based on my upbringing.


This week, the biggest eye-opener and learning moments came from the reading and the class visit from Diana.
By standing up in front of the class professor Milton is bringing change to many lives beyond his wildest dreams. We bring about change because we are willing to come out and be teacher.

One time I was waiting for our reservations at a restaurant in downtown Hartford and this group was just leaving the restaurant and a woman stopped and said to me, “You probably don’t remember me but you spoke on my social work class. And because of your lecture I knew when to do when a client came out to me as trans.”

When you stand up in front of a class you are like a snowball rolling downhill getting bigger and bigger. Professor Milton is creating something that brings change not to those in his class but also to all that his students touch.

For those of you who don't know who Sister Mary Elephant is and for those of you who do here is a video from Cheech & Chong.