Friday, August 22, 2014

Needs To Do More Than Talk

Does this mean that the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) has a chance to pass next year or is it just election year politicking?

New York’s CBS Ch 2 reports that,
ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the state to outlaw discrimination against transgender people, saying gender identity and expression should be included in the state’s civil rights law alongside race, religion and disability.

In a letter to the Empire State Pride Agenda [see below] dated Tuesday, Cuomo said transgender people face significant discrimination, citing surveys that show three-fourths of transgender New Yorkers experience workplace harassment or mistreatment.

“It is not who we are as New Yorkers to permit this type of pervasive discrimination to continue,” he said. “New York is a place where our differences are celebrated.”
If he felt that way why didn’t he push it through this year? To get the bill through the Senate it is going to take some political arm twisting and not just standing on the sidelines cheering them on.




Thursday, August 21, 2014

School Caves In…

The Middletown Schools Superintendent had a change of heart,
Transgender student may go to other schools
Courier Post
Carol Gorga Williams, Asbury Park Press
August 21, 2014

The superintendent met with Rachel and her mother Angela Peters, 32, Monday.

"Although the student is welcome to return to Thorne Middle School for the 2014-2015 school year, we are now in the process of investigating alternative placements at the parent's request," George said in a statement posted on the Middletown Schools home page. "As is our regular practice, we will work with this student and her parent to agree upon the placement that best meets her educational, social and emotional needs in the least restrictive environment."
It might be best that they are allowing her the option to go to another school to have a fresh start and they also agreed to conduct sensitivity workshops throughout the district.

Autostraddle said it best,
Of course, things aren’t entirely resolved. Rachel faces a difficult year of either adjusting to a new school environment or returning to a school where students and administrators have previously been unwelcoming to her. And no matter what she chooses, she will likely face hostility from people who don’t respect her gender. However, with the support of her family and LGBTQ organizations, she can hopefully have a great year — and pave the way for other trans students to have more inclusive experiences of coming out in public school environments.
I think that the media storm over the district’s position to require her to attend school in her birth gender also contributed to the district’s change in their position. They, realized that they had no legal stance to for her to attend school in her birth gender.

Over In The Fiftieth State…

A judge slams a state agency over the way they treated a trans-women…
State reprimanded by judge over transgender settlement issues
KHON
By Gina Mangieri
Published: August 20, 2014

The state got another rebuke Wednesday — this time from a judge — in a case about how a transgender employee was treated at work.
[…]
Banned from the women’s restroom and banished to an unmarked one just for her, Kelli Keawe filed a lawsuit, state civil rights complaint and a case with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or EEOC.
She and the state agreed verbally in court in April to settle, but she says the written agreement that followed was a mismatch — wanting Keawe also to waive claims about more alleged retaliation and harassment from coworkers, including a second EEOC complaint she recently made.
She and the state agreed verbally in court in April to settle, but she says the written agreement that followed was a mismatch — wanting Keawe also to waive claims about more alleged retaliation and harassment from coworkers, including a second EEOC complaint she recently made.
But the judge was having none of that…
“What I hear the state saying and what I read is they want to sweep in that new EEOC charge into the terms of the settlement agreement, and that was not contemplated, that wasn't entered into,” said judge Jeannette Castagnetti.
So they state tried to hide the fact that they wanted include to the second complaint that wasn’t in the agreement.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

LGBT Housing

I am at the Legislative Office Building (LOB) in Hartford attending a symposium on housing for LGBT people and I have been asked to give a speech...

LGBT Housing Symposium
CHRO – HUD – NCLR
August 20, 2014
Legislative Office Building
Diana ________, MSW
Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition (CTAC)

I want to thank the CHRO, HUD and the National Center for Lesbian Rights for inviting me to speak here today.

We are all here today to learn about our housing rights, and to understand the law.

However, it is not just about laws; it’s about people’s lives and it’s about our families.

It is about fear and intimidation more than outright discrimination; we fear violence in homeless shelters, we fear being evicted from our apartment just because who we are.

We are afraid that if we complain we will be evicted.

When Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition receives phone calls they are usually from trans-people worrying about going to a shelter, because for many of them this will be their first time at a shelter, and they wonder if they will be forced into a shelter of their birth gender.

They also wonder if they will be harassed or attacked by the staff or the residents of the shelter.

If they are discriminated against or if they are attacked by other residents they may not file a report for fear of being blackballed as a trouble maker.

And their fears are not groundless; in a 2011 national survey of trans-people, “In Justice at Every Turn” they surveyed over 6,000 trans-people and the results were alarming,

19% reported being denied a home or apartment and 11% said they were evicted because they were transgender or gender non-conforming.

They reported that for homeless shelters…
29% were turned away altogether,
42% were forced to stay in facilities designated for the wrong gender,
55% reported being harassed,
25% said they were physically assaulted and
22% said they were sexually assaulted.
Think about that, over a quarter were turned away and of those found shelter almost half were forced into shelters of their birth gender.

And about a quarter of those who were in shelters said they were attacked or sexually assaulted.

Unfortunately we do not have any data about those who are in Connecticut but I hope and pray that it is less than the national figures.

As result of this anxiety many choose not to go to shelters and look for alternatives.

For those who do have apartments they worry about the other tenants.

When a trans-woman who was living in an apartment complex transitioned she was being constantly harassed by the tenants. When she left her apartment the neighbors shunned her and the kids called her names.

She complained to the landlord and he did nothing, we ending up helping her file a complaint with the CHRO.

The same uncertainly is there even if we own our homes; we never are certain how our neighbors will react when we come out. Will they be hostile or will they be accepting?

When we do look for an apartment or to buy a house our past follows us…

Our credit records have an AKA on them.

Our former employer may still have us listed under our old name and the same is true for our past landlords. Will they use our new names and gender or will they still have us under our old names and gender?

We might be limited with references since we may lose many friends when we transition.

All of this adds a burden to our apartment hunting and makes it hard to get an apartment or mortgage.

For many people when they fall on hard times they have family to take them in. However, for many trans-people our families have dis-owned us and we are alone.

Our parents will not take us in…
We are divorced…
Our children have dis-owned us…

And we must rely on friends who are willing to take us in.

Because of high unemployment or underemployment many of us share apartments or homes in order to have a roof over our heads. Sometimes it is only a couch to flop on, but at least it is warm and dry.

Our problems do not get any easier as we grow older; we begin to face new problems as we age. We now have to worry about nursing homes and senior housing.

How will the staff treat us? Will they know how to work with transgender patients?

Our status falls under HIPA A & the Nursing Home Reform Act. Will the staff keep our surgical status, or our hormones, and medications a secret?

Not every trans-person is full time, some only crossdress occasional, how will a nursing home deal with those that crossdress on weekends or special occasions?

There are so many unanswered questions… where will house us? Will we be in a ward or stuck off and isolated in a single room?

Also, how will the other residents treat us? Will we be shunned?

We have the same questions for senior housing centers and 55+ communities.

I even question if we will fit in to a LGBT 55+ community? We might be the only trans-person in the complex.

Our problems do not go away if we are living in our own home; we now have a new set of problems.

We may be living alone, with no one to check on our wellbeing. What happens if we have a slip and fall, will anyone know?

What will happen if we need visiting nurses or healthcare workers come in our home? Will they be trained, will they be respectful?

We do not want much; all we want is a roof over our heads, a safe place to raise our families. We just want someplace to hang our hat and be ourselves.

Thank you.

Interesting…

All I can say is interesting…
How Transgender People Are Changing Their Voices
WBUR
By Martha Bebinger
August 19, 2014

“What I often hear is, ‘I pass as a woman until I open my mouth,’ ” says Kathe Perez, a speech language pathologist who designed the Eva app.
[…]
“Many of the people I work with will not go out in public because they have to talk,” Perez adds. “Or they’ll go with people so that their wife or their friend will order for them at a restaurant. They’re afraid to open their mouths because the sound that comes out doesn’t match the person that’s sitting at that table.”
It’s true that for many of us our voices do not match our gender, I joke that if you can’t tell that I am trans you need new glasses and a hearing aide.

But I don’t know if a phone app is the answers and I know a number of trans-women who had speech lessons and for some it does work and for other they sound worse than before.



#########

A busy day today, I will be up at the Legislative Office Building all day and the to dinner with some friends before the PFLAG meeting.