Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Story Often Told

It is a story that is becoming must more common, a son or daughter who tells their parents that they are the opposite gender.
Raising a Transgender Child: When George Became Jessie
Scary Mommy
By Julie Ross

Two years ago, my nine year old son tearfully shared with me that “his whole life, he had wanted to be a girl”. Pressed by the therapist (who, thank God, was in the room with us) to clarify whether he wants to be a girl or is a girl, George immediately replied that he is a girl. And so began a crazy-ass adventure of raising a transgendered child that I never, in a million years, expected to find my child or, frankly, myself, on.

To be clear, my husband Rich and I always knew that George (who is now Jessie) was different from not only our older son, but from other kids – male and female alike.

With sparkling eyes and a wildly observant and funny personality, he was known by everyone everywhere we went. Never one to shy away from a conversation or situation (particularly if it involved dolls, dresses, wigs or mermaid tails) he captured the attention of anyone he came into contact with. When behaviors that concerned us in preschool and kindergarten – including, but by no means limited to his self portraits (a frequent drawing assignment) consistently depicting a girl in a dress with long, flowing hair – continued with even greater vigor in first-, second- and third-grades we concluded that he was probably going to grow up to be gay, yet didn’t quite buy it ourselves. He was a boy who greatly appreciated a beautiful girl and what she was wearing. He never met a doll, wig, dress or mermaid tail that he didn’t feel a total compulsion to own – no matter how strongly he had to fight for it. And despite the fact that he was not even slightly effeminate, there were several occasions that he harassed and harangued me for hours on end requesting everything from hair extensions to wigs to dolls. It never added up. And then he asked for (and by “asked for” I mean “demanded”) a pierced ear. 
Our very good friend Dr. Zucker [sarcasm] has come out with a new study, “Evidence for an altered sex ratio in clinic-referred adolescents with gender dysphoria” in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The abstract says,
Introduction. The number of adolescents referred to specialized gender identity clinics for gender dysphoria appears to be increasing and there also appears to be a corresponding shift in the sex ratio, from one favoring natal males to one favoring natal females.
[…]
Results. Across both clinics, the total sample size was 748. In both clinics, there was a significant change in the sex ratio of referred adolescents between the two cohort periods: between 2006-2013, the sex ratio favored natal females, but in the prior years the sex ratio favored natal males. In Study 1 from Toronto, there was no corresponding change in the sex ratio of 6592 adolescents referred for other clinical problems.
Conclusions. Sociological and sociocultural explanations are offered to account for this recent inversion in the sex ratio of adolescents with gender dysphoria.
While the academics are arguing over why there are more trans children coming, I think the answer is obvious, it is because they can. I think it because of a more tolerant society, people are more aware of trans people, and that the kids nowadays have access to the internet and they see other kids like them.

A Hard Battle To Win

The trans woman who is suing Cabela’s for discrimination has also charged that the store violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
First transgender discrimination case to challenge ADA’s constitutionality
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Saranac Hale Spencer / The Legal Intelligencer
January 27, 2015

In the summer of 1989, U.S. senators debating the Americans with Disabilities Act excluded behavior they deemed immoral from the ADA’s protections, including “transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders,” according to the text of the law.

That portion of the ADA hasn’t been challenged until now.

Kate Lynn Blatt, a transgender woman who was fired from her job at Cabela’s, filed a discrimination suit last summer making claims under both the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is more often used in cases like this one.
I think it is going to be very hard to win under the ADA because we had been purposely written out of the law by Congressman Jessie Helms. The article goes on to say,
In the summer of 1989, U.S. senators debating the Americans with Disabilities Act excluded behavior they deemed immoral from the ADA’s protections, including “transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders,” according to the text of the law.

That portion of the ADA hasn’t been challenged until now.

Kate Lynn Blatt, a transgender woman who was fired from her job at Cabela’s, filed a discrimination suit last summer making claims under both the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is more often used in cases like this one.
It is pushing the envelope and I think a bit of a stretch to overturn the ban on gender dysphoria because I think the justices will be afraid that the other exemptions could also be overturned.

So this is going to be an interesting case to follow.

Monday, January 26, 2015

All Those Who Think This Will Pass Raise Your Hand

When the Massachusetts gender identity and expression bill was passed in 2012 one key component was left out… public accommodation. The Boston Globe had an editorial the efforts to pass public accommodation bill, in the editorial they said,
In so doing, the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act protected transgender people from being discriminated against in matters of housing, employment, credit, and public education. But at the last minute, legislators stripped a provision out of the bill regarding discrimination in public places. So a restaurant, for instance, could not refuse to hire someone — or fire them — based on gender identity, but it could refuse to serve them. And a transgender person could be denied use of a public restroom.
  The absence of the “public accommodation” clause leaves a crucial hole in the law, one that state legislators in the last session tried to rectify. But an amendment proposed by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz languished in the Senate. Now Chang-Diaz is set to resubmit the bill. The Legislature should move quickly to pass the amendment, and Governor Charlie Baker — who has expressed ambivalence about the provision — should support it.
When trying to pass protection for us the easy parts were employment, housing, and credit, public accommodation is always the hardest to pass because of the dreaded label “Bathroom Bill.”

I know here in Connecticut we said all or nothing. We had rulings from the Commission of Human Rights and Opportunities and so did Massachusetts that gender identity and expression were protected under sex discrimination. One of the arguments that was used was the legislation never said that it wasn’t protected. Well now in Massachusetts they did, so it is a whole new ballgame.

Now they are struggling to pass the public accommodation and it is going to be a long, long uphill battle. And as the editorial said the governor doesn’t if he will support the bill.

In another Boston Globe article it said that,
BOSTON - Governor-elect Charlie Baker would not support expanding the state's anti-discrimination laws to add protection for transgender people in public places, such as restaurants or theaters.
  Baker, a Republican, does support an existing law that protects transgender people from discrimination in employment and housing. But he said Monday that he does not favor a bill that is expected to come before the legislature next session to add a prohibition against discrimination in places of "public accommodation."
  "No one's been able to explain to me how the public accommodation piece would actually work in practice," Baker said. "Schools, hospitals, other organizations have all expressed what I believe to be legitimate concerns about that law."
I don’t that the Massachusetts legislature will ever be able to get enough support to override a governor’s veto.


There has not been any legal cases for public accommodation so far, it should be very interesting to see what will happen when there is a case. Will the courts follow previous precedent? Or will they throw it all out and find we are not covered under sex discrimination because the legislature has had it say?

So I wish them luck, because they are going to need it.

When I'm Sixty-Four

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

Beatles

Our pioneers are blazing the trail once again, this time in senior centers and nursing homes.
Seniors in the LGBTQ community need not grow old alone
Participants discuss the future of the senior programming at the LGBTQ Center in Las Vegas on Dec. 11, 2014.
Los Vegas Sun
By Jackie Valley
Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015

When 64-year-old Gary Payne retired as a nurse, he encountered a problem many seniors face: boredom.

But as a gay man — he recently married his partner of 37 years — Payne said he didn’t feel entirely comfortable at Southern Nevada’s many senior centers. Most are filled predominantly with straight retirees.
“You feel like you’re the only person who is different,” Payne said.

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada hopes to reach people like Payne with new senior programming. Called ACT III, short for “aging communities together,” the programming aims to provide a safe haven for people 50 and older who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual or two-spirit, as well as their allies, said Holly Reese, senior and transgender programs manager for the Center.
Here in Connecticut the senior centers are stepping in to the gap, three towns have gotten together to hold events for LGBT seniors. I went to the first event which was a coffee house and there were about 20 – 25 people who came to listen to the music and to socialize with others. For one gay couple it was the first time that they went out, they are shut-ins, they thought the coffee house was fabulous.

When I go to the photo club at my town’s senior center, I feel a little awkward even though they have treated me very well and have used proper pronouns.
“The younger generation takes for granted sometimes a lot of things the older generation has had to fight and spill their blood to get,” Reese said.
And we are still fighting for. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ever Hear Of A Little Thing Called The “First Amendment?”

You know the part that says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” in Oklahoma they want to do away with marriage licenses and make it so that only clergy can marry someone… sorry atheists.
Oklahoma bill would put an end to marriage licenses
Oklahoma state Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, has filed a bill that would put an end to marriage licenses in the state. Under his plan, a religious official would sign a couple’s marriage certificate, which would then be filed with the court clerk.
The Oklahoman
By Rick Green
January 21, 2015

Marriage licenses would become a thing of the past in Oklahoma under a bill filed by state Rep. Todd Russ.

The Cordell Republican says he wants to protect court clerks from having to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He doesn’t want these workers put in the position of having to condone or facilitate same-sex marriage.

Under his plan, a religious official would sign a couple’s marriage certificate, which would then be filed with the clerk. Marriages would no longer be performed by judges. If a couple did not have a religious official to preside over their wedding, they could file an affidavit of common law marriage.
However, there is a little thing that Oklahoma doesn’t recognize common law marriage. According to KSWO news,
The State of Oklahoma does not currently recognize common law marriages. Although, some common law marriages have been recognized in court cases in Oklahoma.
But why let details get in your way.

Blood!

I don’t know if you have seen the latest proposal from the FDA on blood donations?

They are discussing lifting the ban on life time ban on blood donation for gay men and changing it to abstention from sex with men for at least one year. The ban is not for lesbians, but only gay men, so where do we fit in to the ban.
FDA’s New Blood Donation Guidelines Offer Little Clarity For Transgender People
Doctors criticize the FDA for applying its ban on blood donations based on a person’s sex at birth, not their risky or safe behavior.
BuzzFeed News
By  Dominic Holden
Posted on Jan. 21, 2015

The Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to change its 30-year-old policy that bans men who have had sex with another man from donating blood for life has highlighted a problem not often discussed in connection with the so-called “gay blood ban”: the policy’s incoherent, arbitrary treatment of transgender people.

“Our policy is to designate by sex at birth,” FDA spokesperson Tara Goodin told BuzzFeed News. “That is all there is to it.”

The policy, medical experts say, creates for transgender people what is, effectively, an inverse of the blood ban applied to other people. For example, a transgender woman who only has sex with straight men is banned from donating blood. A transgender man who is gay and has sex with men, on the other hand, is allowed to donate blood.
This is total ignorance on the part of the FDA, they have no idea anything about gender dysphoria, they are just lumping us in with “gays.” They do have any understand about us,
“The existing policy is flawed at its core,” Madeline Deutsch, a medical doctor and director of clinical service at the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at UCSF, told BuzzFeed News, “and transgender people highlight this problem.”
[…]
“It is absurd to determine eligibility based on how someone identifies and who they are attracted to. It should have to do with behaviors that put someone in a high-risk category,” Deutsch said. Those risky behaviors include IV drug use, unprotected sex with multiple partners, and sex while intoxicated. She supports a policy that assesses behavior, not binary gender roles or sexual orientation, as the basis for denying blood donations.
This all came about during the Regan administration, from the homophobia that ran wild in his administration over AIDS.

I know someone who went to give blood, told the screen all her health history and the IV was being started when the supervisor came out to her. In a loud voice the supervisor said that “transsexuals cannot give blood!” talk about violating HIPAA.