Thursday, July 24, 2014

Singled Out

Last Friday I wrote about how in a press release DCF singled out Jane Doe and transferred her to a boys’ juvenile detention facility after she got into a fight with three other girls. The fact that she was involved in a fight with the other girls was never mentioned in the press release, it was made to sound like a isolated incident that involved only Jane Doe.

The Child Advocate just commented on the press release and Jane Doe’s treatment; according to WNPR,
Child Advocate Sarah Eagan said in a lengthy statement on Wednesday that DCF "singled out Jane Doe's behavior" when at the time the incident had not been investigated and the youth was not charged by police. Eagan said DCF's actions were "inexplicable in light of the fact the July 12 incident involved four girls all of whom were restrained, all of whom were described in DCF records as hitting each other and staff."
Eagan said one of the girls involved in the fight at Pueblo was restrained on five separate occasions during the same night. She stressed DCF did not transfer any of the other girls who were involved in the incident.

The child welfare agency is Jane's guardian, Eagan said, and is legally obligated to make decisions that protect her interests. "DCF's rush to publicize a fraction of an incident is difficult to reconcile with its parental role," she said, questioning whether the department has a conflict of interest between its roles as Jane's guardian, and managing juvenile services for the state.

Eagan was also critical of DCF's decision to discontinue Jane Doe's clinical relationship with the community based psychologist she began working with while at York. This was despite the recommendations of her office, the federal court appointed Guardian Ad Litem, and Jane's public defender. She said the disruption is not helping the teen, with a history of physical and sexual abuse, to make progress in treatment. Eagan said in the last seven months, Jane Doe has been moved four times and switched therapists at least five times.

Jane's struggles with aggressive behavior and frequent placements are not unique, the child advocate said. Her office conducted a recent review of incidents at the girls' Pueblo Unit and at the boys' Connecticut Juvenile Training School, both in Middletown. Eagan said there have been over 200 incidents in the last three months where staff reported using physical or mechanical restraints to control youth.
DCF is just bumbling through with no long term plan on the treatment of transgender children in their care and is making the situation worst. As the Child Advocate pointed out they are jerking Jane Doe from one therapist to another and she is unable to build a working relationship with her therapist. The other point that the advocate pointed out was that “there have been over 200 incidents in the last three months where staff reported using physical or mechanical restraints to control youth” but Jane Doe was the only person sent to York Correctional Institution for Women and the only one sent to the Juvenile Training School.

To make matters worse, the only treatment facility for traumatized youth is in Massachusetts where she was to be sent, but they refused her after the incident in the press release,
DCF said a Massachusetts facility that had tentatively accepted Jane Doe has now rejected her admission.
And now she is back solitary confinement at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School for boys just like she was at the York Correctional Institution for Women in Niantic. The way DCF paints her, no one will want to take her into a foster home or will she ever get the proper treatment that she desperately needs.

Smile Into The Camera And Say...

Yesterday I did something cool, I was in a commercial that will be shown later this year and I can’t tell you the details until it comes out. But I can tell you that it was really neat.

Complete with makeup artist, reading my lines, lighting, different camera angles, and my mark on the floor. It took a little bit to find the place and that in itself is a story*, but when I got there a little after 1PM everyone was on their lunch break. After lunch was over we went down into “makeup” and she did only around my eyes and nose so that there wasn’t any shine off them and just a touch of lipstick.

They explained the idea behind the commercial and went over my lines, and then I waited until it was my turn in front of the camera. When I went down into the studio they had marks laid out on the floor and the photographer posed me and a woman came over and did my hair. The cameraman gave me directions on where to look and said my lines which I repeated… Now say it with a big smile; now say it with a little smile and now say it as a question. Now look over there and slowly look toward the camera and then say the lines. Every once awhile, the woman came over to fix my hair or to adjust my glasses when the cameraman said my glasses are crooked.

They had monitors set up where the ad agency people could watch the product and once in a while I heard them say, “that’s good, excellent!” or they would have me say a different line. After the shoot I asked about the camera and when I got home I found out that the camera body was $14,500! The sensor is 19 Meg and the array is 6144 (h) x 3160 (v) and it can take 4K Full Frame video in RAW at 60 FPS. It is definitely not a camera for amateurs.

*My GPS took me a roundabout way instead of getting off of Route 9 in Middletown at the Randolph Rd. exit the GPS had me get off at the Silver St. exit and by the Connecticut Juvenile Training School for boys where Jane Doe is being held. It was scary driving around the state complex and by the jail. Then when my GPS said that I arrive at my destination there was nothing but woods, I had to ask a letter carrier where the studio was located.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What Would You Do?

I was reading a blog the other day and the person was writing about when a neighbor asked her where’s her husband, the neighbor said that he hasn’t seen him in years

She had two options; one was to tell the neighbor that she is him and out herself and the other option was to say that he moved.

What would you say? Would you out yourself or lie?

My choice would have been to tell him that she used to be him. Because sooner or later that neighbor is going to find out the truth and realized that she lied to him. Some day he will be talking to another neighbor or the letter carrier or someone else and find out the truth.

Yes, the information is private and not everyone needs to know but I think a neighbor is someone on a need to know. I look at it as kind of like a Venn diagram, there are those whose life doesn’t intersect with us on a daily bases and then there is the rest of the world.

Suppose you are at work and a customer calls and asks for his salesman, John Doe. Do you tell him that John doesn’t work there anymore and that you have taken over his accounts or do you tell him that you were John and now you are Jane.

Suppose this was a big account, and he finds out through the grapevine that you transitioned and is now mad at you for not telling him the truth and you lose the account. Of course you could lose the account if you tell him the truth but which would be more ethical?

The trouble with the Venn diagram is that it is not a sharp line between those we tell and those we don’t; the line gets blurry around the edges.

Suppose it is the bagging clerk at the supermarket that asks, do we tell that person?

I personally would tell the clerk, I told enough lies when I was hiding, I don’t want to tell anymore lies. However, I realize that not everyone thinks the way I do and that it is a very personal decision that we each have to make.

What do you think?

Fourteen Years Ago…

I remember the advice given to parents of trans-children, they were told to document everything. Keeping a record of all medical and therapy visits was important because sooner or later they were going to get a visit from DCF or the police because someone will report them for child abuse. They will need to prove that they are following proscribed medical treatment.

The Huffington Post has an article about how society has changed in the last few years,
Transgender Children Today: Shifting the Responsibility for Change Away From Children and Onto Society
By Aidan Key
Posted: 07/21/2014

The first time a parent of a transgender child asked me for advice, I was thrown for a loop. Ten years ago, I couldn't quite fathom the reality that a family would actually seek to support their child. Limited as it was, my perception came from the notion that any of us desiring a gender transition had to pursue that as an adult, and that we do so only as a last resort. If anyone were to support our journey, we should feel deeply grateful.
In the past, our society has encouraged, pleaded with, threatened and pushed these children to change, to adapt to societal norms of both gender expression and gender identity. A child who said that they were a different gender was simply viewed as being confused and in need of stronger reinforcement of society's gendered roles and expectations. When children did "change," we breathed a sigh of relief at this "success." But we now understand that this child's "success" was -- more often than not -- a deep and painful repression of their innate selves that did not change them. In most cases it only postponed self-realization. The damage to these children's self-esteem and resiliency has had devastating consequences, and the numbers prove it. The occurrence of depression, anxiety, suicidality, homelessness, bullying, and physical or sexual abuse -- to name just a few risk factors -- is astronomically higher than the national average.

If supported, what kind of lives will these children live? Everyone wants to know, and the world is watching. What I know -- and what these brave families know -- is that these children experience significant improvements. When the critical elements of familial and societal support are in place, these children's lives are transformed. Children who were once withdrawn, anxious, and even suicidal are now more outgoing, creating strong friendships, becoming more engaged in extracurricular activities, and improving academically. Parents share their stories of the courage and strength within their child. Many name their child as their hero.
It is amazing to see the changes in kids when they are allowed to be themselves; it is like a fog has cleared. All of sudden they are more alive and they are now taking part in the world around them. Ten years ago they would have been forced back into their birth gender and ten years ago it was harder to identify kids who are trans but now we know what to look for in children who are transgender.

I have known many kids that have transitioned at an early age and I have seen them grow up and it is amazing to see them as adults.

Ten years ago parents would have been investigated if their child transitioned and now they are investigated if they do not.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lateral Hostility In The Lesbian Community

This morning the Huffington Post Gay Voices has an article about a new documentary "The Same Difference," that looks at discrimination by lesbians against other lesbians.
The Huffington Post: Why is this documentary important?
Nneka Onuorah: "The Same Difference" documentary is important because it is something that is needed in the community. There are people who are suppressing who they really are to fit in, in fear of being jumped, outcaste and ostracized. It also isn’t a topic that is ever brought to light so it is an ongoing negative thing. This documentary is going to start a conversation and hopefully have people be more open-minded to being accepting of people who have different ways of doing things. Not just in the lesbian community but people in general. Who would have thought that there would be hatred amongst a community from the inside that already gets it from the outside.

What types of misconceptions are you trying to be dispelled through this work?
One of the misconceptions I am trying to dispel through this documentary is the belief that there are rules to being who you are. In the lesbian community, for example, if you’re a butch lesbian you can’t do anything girly. You can’t be too beautiful, your pants can’t be too tight, if you get your hair straight that’s wrong and getting pregnant isn’t right. It's almost like being a part of a gang. People don’t want to beat you or make you feel bad if you do something that’s out of the “norm” but we are gay we are already out of the norm. I also want people to see the true title of what “The Same Difference” means. We always judge others for things that they do, but we don’t see how the things we judge people for parallel with things we do that might not be right. It’s the Same Difference. Just like how there are some people who are a part of the heterosexual community that protest against us and think what we are doing isn’t right we are taking those same attitudes and putting them onto each other.
Does this sound familiar? In the trans-community we have the HBSers (back in the nineties and before there were rigid standards on who could transition. You had to be attracted to men and you had to be able to integrate into society. What is now called gender dysphoria was called “Harry Benjamin Syndrome” and those who adhere to the old standards are called the somewhat derogatory term HBSer) who try to enforce their views of what a trans-person is, how they should look, and how they should behave.

Unfortunately, that is common behavior in any marginalized community, there are some people who have internalized self-phobia and want to distance themselves from other people who are like them. Immigrants who have been here for a number of years look down on those who just immigrated, they are “fresh off the boat,” you pick any marginalized and find it.

In the trans-community some of those who can successfully integrate into society look down on those who cannot and call them names like “men in dresses” and some crossdressers look down on drag queens. It is internalized transphobia for those who still follow the old standards and look down on those who do not meet their high standards, and it is homophobia for those who look down on drag queens.

The article goes on to say,
The inner-community policing of gender roles segregates the lesbian community. It makes it hypocritical. It causes seclusion. It makes people not have a place to feel comfortable. It also causes people to have to hide the some of the most beautiful parts of themselves. It limits the success of people as well…

View From The Other Side…

When the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision was announced there were all kinds of theories of what it will mean to the LGBT community. Some people are saying that the ruling will lead to companies’ claiming that it is against their religious beliefs to hire LGBT people and while others claiming that the ruling only applies to healthcare.

There have been a number of colleges that claimed religious exemptions from hiring LGBT employees or enrolling LGBT students. One of the notable colleges to claim religious exemption was Gordon College in Salem Massachusetts.

Now that President Obama has signed the Executive Order banning discrimination against LGBT employees for federal with the narrow religious exemptions there are those who are citing the Supreme Court decision to claim religious exemptions. In the OneNewsNow artilce “'Imperialist president' at it again, says attorney” they quote Matt Barber who is the vice president of Liberty Counsel Action,
"Here we have this president acting and ruling as the imperialist president – circumventing Congress, circumventing the separation of powers in order to force his radical, leftist agenda on the rest of America – and targeting and discriminating specifically against Christian companies in order to do so," he tells OneNewsNow.

Barber  argues the president isn't heeding the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision last month that permits business owners of faith to operate their business on the basis of the their faith. He says with this latest executive order, the president is doing exactly what the ruling forbids.
Now here is a lawyer who seems to be someone with “national standing” saying that the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision applies to employment discrimination. I am not a lawyer, but this seems quite clear,
The principal dissent raises the possibility that discrimination in hiring, for example on the basis of race, might be cloaked as religious practice to escape legal sanction. See post, at 32–33. Our decision today provides no such shield. The Government has a compelling interest in providing an equal opportunity to participate in the work-force without regard to race, and prohibitions on racial discrimination are precisely tailored to achieve that critical goal.
The majority opinion justices pointed out that the Hobby Lobby decision does not apply to employment discrimination a point the conservative lawyers seem to have overlooked.