Thursday, December 31, 2009

Presidential Appointment Announced: Amanda Simpson appointed to Department of Commerce

This press release was just sent out by the National Center for Transgender Equality (NTCE)

Amanda Simpson Amanda Simpson, who has served on NCTE's Board of Directors for the past 3 years, has been appointed by the Obama Administration as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Department of Commerce. She'll be working in the Bureau of Industry and Security.

"I'm truly honored to have received this appointment and am eager and excited about this opportunity that is before me. And at the same time, as one of the first transgender presidential appointees to the federal government, I hope that I will soon be one of hundreds, and that this appointment opens future opportunities for many others."

Simpson brings considerable professional credentials to her new job. For thirty years, she has worked in the aerospace and defense industry, most recently serving as Deputy Director in Advanced Technology Development at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Arizona. She holds degrees in physics, engineering and business administration along with an extensive flight background. She is a certified flight instructor and test pilot with 20 years of experience.

She has also been very active in political and community groups. She has served on the Board of Directors of two national organizations: Out & Equal and NCTE. In Arizona, she has been on the board of Wingspan, the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance, the Southern Arizona ACLU and the Arizona Human Rights Fund (now Equality Arizona).

In 2004, the YWCA recognized her as one of their "Women on the Move," and in the same year, she won the Democratic nomination to the Arizona House of Representatives. In 2005, she was given the Arizona Human Rights Foundation Individual Award.

We are delighted to welcome Amanda to Washington, DC and share her hope that she will be joined by many other transgender people and our allies in serving our government.

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

Here are some news articles that I can across that I thought were interesting.

The first is an article in the LA Times about the Autry National Center, a museum co-founded by Gene Autry exhibit,
'Out West' at the Autry examines the history of homosexuals and transgender people in the Old West

…But as a new series at the Autry National Center shows, the presence of homosexuals and transgender individuals in the American West is much older than the movie [Brokeback Mountain] might lead you to think. It is, in fact, almost as old as the West itself.

Take for instance the tale of One-Eyed Charlie.

A stagecoach driver known for his hard drinking and itchy trigger finger, Charlie worked for the California Stage Co., where he earned his reputation as one of the best drivers in the wild West. He traveled between Oregon and California and, the story goes, got his nickname when he lost an eye while attempting to shoe a horse.

But Charlie kept a secret that was revealed only after his death in 1879. When his body was being prepared, a coroner discovered that One-Eyed Charlie was actually a woman.

It turns out that Charlie, nee Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst, had passed much of her adult life as a man. The discovery of her true gender became a local sensation. And her story still fascinates U.S. historians, some of whom believe that she was the first woman to have voted in a presidential election, long before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

Stories like One-Eyed Charlie's will be part of the Autry series titled "Out West," looking at the roles of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in frontier history.
The other article in the news is about NASCAR driver J.T Hayes who came out as Intersex a few years back now has written book about her experience. The Orlando Sentinel has a review of her book…
Racecar driver turns life of hell into sweet dreams and ‘Dangerous Curves’

J.T Hayes was an awesome racecar driver and in the early 90’s after years of racing Sprints, Midgets, Karts and Stock, he walked away from it all. Now, J.T. wants to re-enter the racing world once again – but not as J.T. – but rather as Terri O’Connell, a female.

Terri has written her memoir, “Dangerous Curves: The Terri O’Connell Story” where she tells-all from her past that will shock just about anyone. At one point in her life, the rumors were so wild and out of sorts, that she feared for her life and even contemplated suicide, twice.

Back on July 29, 1964, she was born a Hermaphrodite, which is an individual in which reproductive organs of both sexes are present, parents unknowing, but was raised as a male. This was not a disease, a cancer or anything contagious.
When transgender individuals are convicted of a crime most often they are put in solitary confinement because the prisons do not have any policies for transgedner prisons. This article by ABC News 7 in Arlington, VA
Transgender Woman in Solitary in Virginia Jail
WASHINGTON - A transgender woman convicted of drug trafficking has spent six months in solitary confinement in a Virginia jail because officials believe she would be raped by male prisoners.

Thirty-five-year-old Maria Benita Santamaria was born a man but lives as a woman. In August she pleaded guilty to trafficking 10 pounds of methamphetamine. For the past two years she has been undergoing hormone treatment in preparation for a sex change operation.

Santamaria was willing to risk being in general population but jail officials kept her out. Now, however, she'll be moved. Earlier in December Santamaria was sentenced to nearly six years in prison. A judge ordered her sent to a federal prison that can provide transgendered treatment and counseling.
Lastly, this The Times Online article caught my attention this week, it is about finding a gene that controls gender,
Scientists find single ‘on-off’ gene that can change gender traits

Scientists have identified the gene that keeps females female. An international team found that the action of a single gene is all that stops females from developing male physical traits, including testes and facial hair.

When this gene was artificially “switched off” in adult female mice their ovaries began to turn into testes and they started to produce a level of testosterone found in healthy male mice.

The discovery could eventually revolutionise gender reassignment therapy and improve treatments for babies who are born with a mixed gender.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Story Part 12 – Change

Normally I write about all of the things that have happened over the year in a year-end summary, but this year I am going to write about change. Since the New Year is about new beginnings.

After I went to my first support group meeting my whole life changed. All my life I had the same friends since high school, I always went out to the same bar to hang out with town folk that I knew growing up. Sometimes I went over to friend’s home to have a beer and smoke a joint and watch the Red Socks game (which I never really enjoyed, but that was the “man” thing to do). I never went to a play or a movie or traveled, my world revolved around the town. I could probably count on one hand the number of times that I went to New Haven or Hartford in my whole life. The only time I went to a restaurant was with the family, not counting Burger King or McDonald. I worked for 28 years in the next town over and the only time that I lived out of state was when I went to college in Rochester NY from ’71 to ‘74.

The day I set foot in the meeting hall where the support group met, it opened the world up to me and gave me life. I went to plays, I went out to restaurants, I went to visit friends around the state, and I went to conferences in other states… I was doing things with my life! When I came out to my brother, he was able to identify the date when I first started going to the support group because for the first time in fifty years, when he called me, I wasn’t home! At a party with my high school friends, I commented that I was going to trade my 3 year old car in, a friend asked why and I replied that I had driven it 65,000 miles already. He quipped that I must have driven back and forth to work a lot (work was only 4 miles from my house) and everyone chuckled. Little did they know that I was driving to friends’ houses in New London, Springfield, Glastonbury, Waterbury, or that I went to Provincetown every spring and Boston every winter. Nor did they know that I had driven down to Washington DC to lobby for the Hate Crime and Employment Non-Discrimination Act legislations.

Also around that time, I started to speak publicly at colleges and universities all around the state as part of a speaker bureau and testify at public hearings in favor of the anti-discrimination bill here in Connecticut. I had never spoken in public before, yes, I gave presentations at work, but I have never before talked to an audience of 200 people. In addition, I went back to college to get my master’s degree after 40 years and I am taking part in student activities, something that I never did before.

Not only has change affected me, but it also affects my whole family. They all now have to deal with the fact that I am now a sister or aunt to them. My brother had to tell his friends about me and one of them had a hard time adjusting to my change. At my nephew’s wedding, he was there and he came up to me and we talked for a while, he said he was having the problem accepting me as Diana, but he recognized that it was his problem, not mine. A friend of my sister-in-law came up to me at the wedding, we also had a long talk, she was very supportive and for Christmas she gave all the women in the family homemade Christmas tree earrings. I think they will be one of my cherished possessions, because of the thought behind them.

Yes, there has been change in my life and change for those around me, but I think it is for the better. I have broken out of my shell and seen the world anew.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Uganda – Death To Homosexuals

There is a bill in the Uganda legislature that would make being homosexual a capital offense. The bill as written,
…if passed in its proposed version, would punish homosexual acts between adults—including touching "with the intent of committing the act of homosexuality"—with life imprisonment. The punishment for "serial offenders," homosexual sex with minors or the disabled, or homosexual sex while being HIV-positive, is death.
However, Uganda is not the first nation that has draconian laws against homosexual act, seven other nations also have the death sentence for homosexual acts they are Iran, Mauritania, Saudi-Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Nigeria (death penalty applies to 12 Northern provinces with Sharia law). In addition, 73 countries around the world consider homosexuality illegal, not including the seven that impose the death sentence. What is ironic is that many of those countries do not consider a transsexual a homosexual. A BBC article said that,
Sex changes have been legal in Iran since Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution, passed a fatwa - a religious edict - authorising them for "diagnosed transsexuals" 25 years ago.

Today, Iran carries out more sex change operations than any other nation in the world except for Thailand.
What is disastrous is that many Iranian homosexuals are given a choice between death and gender reassignment surgery, they are condemned to live their life being stuck in the wrong gender by force.

Sixty-five nations voted in favor of the United Nation’s statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, however, the United States was not one of the signers of the resolution. The resolution called for,
...called upon member states to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected non-discrimination categories and “to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties.”
President Bush refused to sign it and sided instead with sixty nations that offered a counter proposal,
Nearly sixty nations, principally from the Islamic world, sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania, presented an alternate statement which warned against the attempt to create “new rights” or “new standards” by “misinterpreting” the non-discrimination clauses of long-established human rights instruments. The alternate declaration condemned “all forms of stereotyping, exclusion, stigmatization, prejudice, intolerance and discrimination and violence directed against peoples, communities and individuals on any ground whatsoever, wherever they occur,” while defending the ability sovereign nations to enact laws that meet the “just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare.”
However, President Obama did sign the resolution upon his inauguration.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Manic Monday #194

Lisa's Manic Monday #194

Were you considered popular in high school? Why or why not?
No, I was what is now called a geek. I was in the Science Club.

Did you have an enemy or bully when you were young?
Yes, I had one of the jocks that always picked on me.

If you could go on a road trip with any person (dead or alive) who would you go with and where would you go?
Hmm, I don’t know, maybe my parents in their younger days. I would love to travel around the U.S. and visit all the national parks.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Simple Question

On a friend’s blog there is a question that is asked many times by many people, “How would we evaluate that this organization had reached the same level of inclusiveness for transgender people as it had for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people?” That question is not only asked about trans-people, but also about Jews, Blacks, Latinos and other minorities and the answer is that same.

When you can look at them as friends.

I just completed a class called Human Oppression, and I have some criticisms on the way the class was taught. They taught the history of Black, Latino, women, and LGBT oppression and I think that was the wrong approach. I think that they should have taught less history and more about the causes and effects of oppression. How they have different vectors that leads to oppression and but the results are the same, poverty, unemployment, drug use, suicides, homelessness and low self-esteem. In addition, I think that they should also have taught ways to counter oppression and discrimination.

I believe that the way to counter oppression is integration, when you learn, work and live next to each other; people no long are different, but are friends. You see the person. When you respect each other and threat each other with dignity, you stamp out oppression.

That is one of the reasons why I do outreach, is to put a human face on a trans-people and to tell my story. Our most powerful weapon that we have to fight oppression is our story; we each have our own story to tell of the internal struggle that we fought. Once I was asked how we can fight intolerance and my answer was that all it takes is “Education.”

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Six – Episode 298

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six – Episode 298

1. What’s the most cluttered room of your home?
The bedroom.

2. At work, compared to your co-workers, is your desk more cluttered, less cluttered, or about the same?

Before I retired, I had the most cluttered desk. HR dropped a not so subtle hint that I should clean my desk. But since they said that the new owners were going to shut the factory down, there was no incentive to clean it up.

3. How long do you keep newspapers after you’ve read them?

Until I fill the recycling bin to put out on the street.

4. Take the quiz
: How Cluttered is Your Mind?

Your Mind is 49% Cluttered

Your mind is starting to get cluttered, and as a result, it's a little harder for you to keep focused.
Try to let go of your pettiest worries and concerns. The worrying is worse than the actual problems!

5. How much of your clutter is all in your head: are you more likely to hang on to things you should just let go of?
Yeah, I think so, I worry too much over the little things

6. What’s more cluttered: your bedroom closet or your car’s trunk?
My bedroom closet, I just cleaned out my car because I drove down to New Jersey to my niece’s home. Where I think I may have caught a cold.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Friday Fill-ins #156

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins #156 we go! Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it :-)

1. My boots _are on the floor in back seat of my car, just in case it snows again_.
2. _The first decade of_ this century is almost over.
3. Imitation _is the best form of flattery_.
4. _Don’t get me started, because I can talk_ and talk?
5. I'd like _to have a Christmas drink tonight_.
6. _We all make mistakes,_ get over it?
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _being down on New Jersey at my niece’s house for Christmas with my brother’s family_, tomorrow my plans include _driving back to Connecticut and hopefully the storm will be over before I leave to go home_ and Sunday, I want to _relax_!

YEE HA!!!!

Let me toot my own horn.

I just got my grades for the fall semester… A+ and A!!!!!
It is the first A+ that I have ever gotten in my life!!!!!
It is time for another lobster dinner.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Story Part 11 – I Don’t Believe Its You

How many of you who are reading this had to prove you are who you say you are?

Most of the time I have to prove I am who I say I am on the phone because of my deep voice. I just had legally changed my name and I was calling all my credit card companies to change the name on my accounts. All the credit card companies, but one required me to fill out a form and send in along with a copy of my Probate court order. The one company allowed me to change my name over the phone (which I felt was not a very secure was to do it) and the person I was talking to hard a very hard time understanding English. They not only changed my first name but they also changed my last name and when I called them back to fix the mistake, they didn’t believe that I was Diana and transferred my to security. They froze my account until they figured it out and they never did straighten it out 100%, they have my last as my first name. When I get mail from them, it always says “Ms (Last name) Diana”

Another time I was having a problem with on-line banking and I called them to help me. As soon as I said I was Diana, the operator said she had to transfer me to security. When the security operator came on the phone, I said look at my history for July 2007… pause, “Oh, how can we help you today Ms. L.” I had doctors’ offices call me and refuse to give me the information because of HIPAA. I had the cable company refuse to send out a repair person because only the account holder could schedule and appointment, now why on earth do they require that? (One time had my phone service go out of order and they asked me if I was calling from that number? Duh, if the phone is not working, how can I be calling from that number?)

When I applied to college, my transcripts were in my male name and when I got home one day, on my answering machine there was a message questioned my transcripts. So I went the Admission’s office the next day, as soon as they looked at me, they said there was no problem, but I gave them a copy of my Probate court order, just in case.

When I was laid off from work, the next business day I changed my name, I told my former employer about my name change and I had a ton of paperwork to fill out. When my severance ran out and I went on COBRA, all of a sudden they were using my male name again on the paperwork. Emailing back in forth to corporate headquarters, I still couldn’t get it straighten out. So I offered to contact the HR office in the division that was still here in CT, so I called my friend in HR and she straightened it out. She told me that my records showed that “Donald” was laid off, Diana was hired back and that I was my own dependant on my insurance. I asked if that meant that I should be getting back pay? She said no dice.

Of course, sometimes it does work out in my favor, when I get calls for Ms. L, I can screen my own calls. If it’s someone trying to sell something, I say she’s not here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Two Important Phone Numbers

Every year around this time, I write about the need to open your hearts and homes to LGBT people. Many have been estranged by their families and friends and depression sets in this time of the year, so open doors to them and invite them to share the holidays with you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis.

Phone: 1-800-SUICIDE // 1-800-784-2433
Also: 1-800-273-TALK // 1-800-273-8255

Para obtener asistencia en español durante las 24 horas, llame al 1-888-628-9454

TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)


On MySpace:

The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project operates the only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention helpline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. If you or a friend are feeling lost or alone call The Trevor Helpline. There is hope, there is help...

Phone: 1.866.4.U.TREVOR // 1.866.488.7386

Monday, December 21, 2009

Manic Monday #193

Lisa’s Manic Monday #193

What makes you laugh?
Yesterday, I was watching a neighbor’s cat in the snow. The cat usually trots out of their house and walks behind my house to the other neighbor’s bird feeder. He walks up to the edge of my driveway and puts one paw in the snow and pulls it back out. He tentatively tries it again with the same results. He then walks up and down my driveway and sidewalk looking for a way to get to the bird feeder without stepping in the snow. He was so frustrated that his routine was thrown off.

What makes you cry?

A good movie.

What is the best thing about being you?

Starting life anew at age 60.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Don’t Know, But They Seem To Have An Abnormal Fixation On Bathrooms.

The far right wing conservatives seem to be worrying over what people are doing in bathroom. Somehow, I think that they are obsessing on it; I really think that they should seek professional help in overcoming their obsession. What other people are doing in the stall next to them is really none of their business.

They are paranoid that someone who is peacefully going about their business in the stall next to them might have horns and carry a pitchfork.

Mother Jones has an article about their paranoia behavior…
The Religious Right's Potty Paranoia
Why social conservatives are freaking out over a proposed law to protect gay rights in the workplace.

By Stephanie Mencimer

The next big culture war battle is about to be waged in an unlikely place: the restroom. After many years, Congress may finally have the votes to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The measure, which the Obama administration views as key to advancing gay rights, would ban workplace discrimination against gays, lesbians, and transgendered people. But Christian right groups are fighting the legislation—on the grounds that it would force businesses to allow transgendered and "transitioning" men and women to use opposite-sex restrooms or face lawsuits from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Traditional Values Coalition, a major foe of ENDA, has written a lengthy report on the potential dangers of the legislation, and the bathroom crisis is high on the list. As proof of the coming bathroom integration, it cites a Seattle incident in which two women who were taking male hormones were thrown out of a men's room at the Washington convention center. The women were staging a "pee-in" as part of a Gender Odyssey Conference, but TVC sees "she-men" invading the hallowed confines of men's restrooms everywhere should ENDA pass.
OMG! The nerve of men wanting to pee in the men’s room. What will come next? Women wanting to pee in the women’s room? Their fears are groundless! There has NEVER been a sexual assault by a trans-person. I have letters from government officials, such as state Attorney Generals, state Human Rights Commissioners, stating that in their states no one dressed as a women nor anyone has ever used the anti-discrimination laws as a defense in sexual assault. In addition, women anti-violence organization back gender inclusive anti-discrimination laws. However, that doesn’t the ring wing conservation from spreading their lies and fear. They have called ENDA the "Transgendered Bathrooms for Business" bill. For more information read “Peeing in Peace” by the Transgender Law Center.
Conservative activists warn that by pushing ENDA, the Obama administration is embracing not just the homosexual agenda, but that of liberal atheist George Soros.
Oh no, it’s that slippery slope again! But lets not talk about the conservative agenda to have society go back to the 1950’s, to “Father Knows Best” era. They want us to go back to the time of backroom abortions, just look at the Sen. Ben Nelson, (D-Neb) and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) amendments that limit abortion funding. With the right wing conservative win in California against marriage equality, they are now aiming their sights to ban divorce! You don’t believe me? Well they have a petition drive to get it on the ballot that is sponsored by, “No On Prop 8”
A Petition for a California State Proposition that Prohibits Divorce Between Heterosexual Married Couples
Divorce destroys the sanctity of marriage and its powerful influence on the betterment of society. This proposition would keep the very meaning of marriage from being transformed into nothing more than a contractual relationship between two adults. Prohibiting divorce between heterosexual married couples will keep the interests of children and families intact. We will continue to celebrate marriage as the union of husband and wife, not as a relationship between "Party A" and "Party B." The marriage of a man and a woman has been at the heart of society since the beginning of time and it promotes the ideal opportunity for children to be raised by a mother and a father in a family held together by the legal, communal, and spiritual bonds of marriage. As a society we should put the best interests of children first, and those interests lie in traditional marriage. Permitting divorce destroys marriage as we know it and causes a profound harm to society. We should be restoring marriage, not undermining it.
They will keep pushing their ring wing conservation beliefs on us until homosexualism, abortion, and divorce are all against the law again.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday Six – Episode 297

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six – Episode 297

1. Have the Christmas trees you or your closest relatives have put up more often been real or artificial?
I always had a cut Christmas tree. My brother and his family usually have cut tree when they are allowed to have them (some apartments prohibit them).

2. How do you prefer Christmas decorations on a tree to look: more uniform within a certain color scheme or design or with a lot of variance?
Sometimes when I had Christmas trees I had all white lights, sometimes they were all blue or red and sometimes they were mixed colored lights. I like a tree with a lot of lights and Christmas ornaments. I have some Christmas ball ornaments that were my grandmothers.

3. Christmas ornaments as a Christmas gift: good idea or bad?
It depends, so friends collect Christmas ornaments and they know the story of each ornament on the tree.

4. Take the quiz: The Christmas Tree Test

You Are Blissfully Content

During the holidays, you have a lot to be thankful for. And even if you are having a hard time, you do your best to express gratitude.
You are a glass half full type of person. You try to see life as a gift.

You believe that it's important to stay positive and peaceful. Not just for your own mental health, but for also for the mental health of those around you.
The gift of optimism is the best thing you could possibly give. And you give it well.

5. What’s the most unusual Christmas tree you remember from your childhood?
One year we had an aluminum tree, we threw it out after Christmas it was horrible!

6. What’s your worst Christmas tree experience?
I have an atrium that goes from the basement up to the second floor and it has an all glass wall on the south facing wall. Well, I got the bright idea the first Christmas in my new house to have a Christmas tree that went up to the ceiling, some 30 feet.
I went to a Christmas tree lot to pick out a tree and I found a perfect 28 ft tree! When I was cutting down and it fell with a whumph, I knew then I was in trouble. I had borrowed my father’s Sable station wagon and the tree was about 5 ft longer than the car!
In order to bring it into the house, I had to take down the sliding glass doors and I need three friends to help me lift it upright in the atrium. It took eight sets of 100 bulbs lights and 4 days to decorate the tree. To trim the tree, I had to trim the basement level as high as I could reach, trim the mid-section from the first floor balcony and then use a house ladder to trim the top and put on the star.
I was beautiful! You could see it from just about every room in the house. When you were in the living room and you just saw “tree”, no top, no bottom, just this big green multicolored lighted tree. To give you an idea of the size of the space, this picture is looking from my master bedroom balcony. The balcony into the living room is off to the left of the picture, part of the sliding glass door is visible. Looking down is the basement level with its sliding glass door under the balcony. The other photo is looking up from the basement at the master bedroom balcony and the windows to the right is the stairway.

When I took down the tree, I used a chainsaw to cut it up into pieces so that I didn’t have to take out the doors again.

So that is my worst and best Christmas tree story.

Saturday 9: White Christmas

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: White Christmas

1. If you live where you get winter weather, do you prefer your Christmas to be white? If you never see snow, do you wish for it?
It depends, when it snowed. If it snow early enough and the road are clear, then yes, but this year the weather forecast is for snow on Christmas day and I don’t want that to happen.

2. How many holiday cards did you receive from people you hadn't sent cards to, after the "mailing deadline?" Did you send a card anyway?
About 25 and yes, I will send some out late, if I get them after a deadline.

3. When the clock strikes Midnight on New Year's, will you be at home, at a party, or somewhere else?
Most likely home or a small private party because I not a big fan of going out to bars or restaurants.

4. Have you ever taken the keys and driven home a friend that you felt was too drunk to drive? If not, do you think you would attempt to if that situation ever arose?
No, I haven’t most of my friends do not drink heavily, but yes I would take their keys from them.

5. Tell us about a gift that you either bought or made for someone else that you wanted for yourself!
Jewelry, I also wanted to receive jewelry, but now I can.

6. What chores do you have left for the holidays?

My Christmas shopping

7. If you could buy one gift for yourself where money was not an obstacle, what would it be?
A new roof, because mine is starting to leak. :-(

8. What is one of your family’s favorite holiday traditions?
I don’t know if we have a holiday tradition other then the family all coming together for the holiday. My grandmother use to make all types of sweet breads for the holidays. My favorite was nut roll and poppy seed roll.

9. If you could give a fellow blogger a holiday gift, which would it be and what would you give them?
A new car, because they are always writing about car troubles and they shall remain nameless because I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

Friday, December 18, 2009

UN Commission On Human Rights

ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Thursday, December 10th 2009 at 1.15 p.m. – 2.45 p.m

United Nations, New York, 10 December 2009 - Panel discussion organized by the Permanent Missions to the United Nations of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden on the occasion of the International Day of Human Rights. ...

Here is the transcript of her speech...
Title: Human Rights

Hans Ytterberg: The subject that we’re going to deal with today is a particularly important topic, and I think it’s very pertinent that we’re dealing with it today, on International Human Rights Day. And that is the topic of grave human rights violations on grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation. The past decade has witnessed a continuous stream of reports of extra-judicial killings, torture, arbitrary detentions, and other gross human rights violations committed against fellow human beings on grounds of their gender identity or sexual orientation, or simply because of the fact that they have been human rights defenders of the rights of these people.

The year 2009 unfortunately has been no exception. Throughout the year, we have had reports of such grave violations from all the six major world regions—of North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Europe. None of us can say we come from a country where these problems of very serious, grave human rights violations do not occur on a more or less regular basis. So we all have a stake in this issue.

These flagrant violations of international human rights law far too often go unpublished, unnoticed, and therefore also unpunished. And in fact I would say that the phenomenon of impunity is probably the most important element in this lethal cocktail of gross human rights violations.

[Fade to black.]

Hans Ytterberg: Now, on my right-hand side, I have Sass Rogando Sasot, who is one of the leading voices of the transgender rights movement in the Phillipines. In 2002, she co-founded the Society of Transsexual Women of the Phillipines, the first and only transgender support and rights advocacy group in her country. In 2003 and 2004, together with Drs. Sam Winter and Mark King of the University of Hong Kong, she did the first comprehensive research work on Filipina transgender women, which was published in the International Journal of Transgenderism. During the 2007 Manila Pride March she has been named as one of the nine faces of Pride.

[Fade to black.]

Sass Rogando Sasot: Let me begin by expressing my warmest gratitude to the permanent missions to the United Nations of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, and to the coalition of non-governmental organizations defending the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. Thank you for making this event possible, and for giving us this opportunity to contribute our voices to this ongoing conversation for change. Our esteemed participants, beautiful beings and profound expressions of this universe. A warm, vibrant and dignified afternoon to each and every one of you.

Burned at the stake, strangled and hanged, raped and shot and stabbed to death. Throats slashed, left to bleed to death. These are just some of the ways transgender people were killed in different parts of the world, in different times in the history of our humanity. These are just the tip, the violent tip, of the iceberg of our suffering. I can go on and on, reciting a litany of indignity upon indignity. But my time is not enough to name all the acts of atrocious cruelty that transgender people experience.

But what is the point of counting the dead bodies of our fellow human beings, of narrating how we suffer, and of opposing violence against us if we don’t challenge the root of our oppression? The sincerity of our intention to address the human rights violations against transgender people rests upon the depth of our appreciation of human diversity, and the breadth of our understanding of why transgender people suffer these indignities.

The root of our oppression is the belief that there is one and only one way to be male or female. And this starts from our birth. Upon a quick look at our genitals, we are assigned into either male or female. This declaration is more than just a statement of what’s between our legs. It is a prescription of how we should live and must live our lives. It is a dictation of how we should think about ourselves: the roles we should play, the clothes we should wear, the way we should move, and the people with whom we should have romantic and erotic relationships. But this belief is so wrong. Very wrong. The existence of people whose identities, bodies and experiences do not conform to gender norms is a proof that this belief is wrong.

Nevertheless, even though the truth of human diversity is so evident and clear to us, we choose to hang on to our current beliefs about gender—a belief that rejects reality and forces people to live a lie. This is the belief that leads to attacks on our physical and mental integrity, the different forms of discrimination against us, and to our social marginalization. This is the belief that led to Joan of Arc to be burned at the stake because she was cross-dressing. This is the belief that motivated the rape and murder of Brandon Teena on December 31, 1993. This is the belief that led to stabbing to death of Ebru Soykan, a prominent transgender rights activist, in Turkey, on March 10, 2009. This is the belief that led to the arrest of sixty-seven Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia for cross-dressing in June this year. This is the belief that keeps the list of transgender people being harassed, killed, and violated growing year after year. And it is very unfortunate that our legal systems, religions, and cultures are being used to justify, glorify, and sanctify the violent expressions of this belief. [Scattered applause.]

So we question, is human life less precious than this belief? Is our right to life, to dignified existence, to liberty and pursuit of happiness, subservient to gender norms? This doesn’t need a complicated answer. You want to be born, to live, and die with dignity. So do we. You want the freedom to express the uniqueness of the life-force within you. So do we. You want to live with authenticity. So do we. Now is the time that we realize that diversity does not diminish our humanity, that respecting diversity does not make us less human, that understanding and accepting our differences does not make us cruel. And in fact, history has shown us that denying and rejecting human variability is the one that has led us to inflicting indignity upon indignity towards each other.

We are human beings of transgender experience. We are your children, your partners, your friends, your siblings, your students, your teachers, your workers. Your citizens. Let our lives delight in the same freedom of expression you enjoy, as you manifest to the outside world your unique and graceful selves. Let us live together in the fertile ground of our common humanity. For this is the ground where religion is not a motivation to hate, but a way to appreciate the profound beauty and mystery of life. For this is the ground where laws are not tools to eliminate those who are different from us, but are there to facilitate our harmonious relationship with each other. For this is the ground where culture is not a channel to express the brutality of our limited perception, but a means to express the [stability?] of our souls. For this is the ground where the promise of universality of human rights can be fulfilled. And we will be in this ground if we let the sanity of our desires, the tenacity of our compassion, and above all, the lucidity of our hearts, to reign in our hearts. Thank you.

[Loud and widespread applause.]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday Fill-ins #155

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins #155


1. No, we will NOT _serve hors d'oeuvre at the party, but you can bring some to share if you want_.
2. _Don’t throw darts_ at the old kitchen table.
3. I watched the steam rising from the hot cup of coffee (or tea) and thought: _I hope the furnace repairman gets here soon_.
4. _Everything is_ going to be okay.
5. I'll take _lemon and sugar in my tea, please_.
6. _The partiers were have a grand old time_ at least from my point of view.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _going to the coffee shop_, tomorrow my plans include _not doing any homework_ and Sunday, I want to _relax and do my Christmas cards_!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Story Part 11 – Coming Out At Work

This is going to be a short story this week, I’m still writing term papers.

As I was becoming more politically active and almost living full time as Diana, I started to think that I needed an ally at work and in addition, the pressure of keeping it a secret was mounting.

I was talking to the Human Resources manager that I have known for over twenty years both as a friend and co-worker. Over the years of our friendship, I knew that she was accepting of gays and lesbians and that her daughter had a friend that is gay (her daughter is straight). So one Friday afternoon, as we finished what we were working on together, she asked me what was I going to be doing for the weekend, and I said that I was going to a semi-formal fundraising reception. She said, “Oh are you going to be wearing a tux?”

I sat there for a second or two before replying, “No… not quite.” “Let me tell you a story…” I told about being transsexual, she asked some questions while I was tell my story and when I finished, she said that they are having a 1/3 off dress sale at the department store in town and the gowns are on sale.

We still met once or twice a year for lunch with some other friends from work that have stood by me in my transition.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Paterson to Extend Protection to Transgender Employees

Paterson to Extend Protection to Transgender Employees
NY Times
Gov. David A. Paterson is preparing to issue an executive order that would include transgender people in antidiscrimination policies that govern state agencies.

The order, which the governor plans to sign on Wednesday, represents the broadest protections ever extended to transgender public employees in New York State. A number of cities throughout the state, including Buffalo, Albany, Rochester and New York City, already prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression.
“It has been a long road, and I think New York is behind,” said Dru Levasseur, a transgender rights attorney for Lambda Legal, a national advocacy group. “So this will bring New York up to par with other states that are taking the lead on workplace fairness.”
In issuing the executive order, Mr. Paterson is exercising the limits of his authority to impose legal protections on transgender people in New York. The order applies only to state employees who work under the authority of the executive branch. It does not apply to anyone in the private sector.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Manic Monday #192

Lisa’s Manic Monday #192

What is your greatest strength?
My compassion.

What is your worst weakness?
My vanity.

Is your favorite time the past, present or the future?
The future, I do not want to live in the past. In the past, I was never true to myself. And if you live for the present, you will not be prepared for the future. Planning for the future gives you hope.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday Six – Episode 296

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six – Episode 296

1. Who was the last person you had an in-depth conversation with?
Another student, he wanted to talk about my class presentation that I gave the week before.

2. Would you prefer to talk to this person face to face, by phone, or by internet chat?

I prefer face to face conversations, I need the visual feedback.

3. In a group setting, are you happier listening to a conversation or leading it?
Listening, but it really depends on the topic of the conversation.

4. How often would you say that listening to other people’s opinions in a conversation actually changes your own?
Sometimes, once again it depends on the topic of the conversation.

5. Take the quiz:
Do You Talk Too Much?

You Don't Talk Too Much

You have mastered the art of conversation. You understand that listening is as important as talking
Like anyone else, you think that the things you have to say are important and interesting. You just know that not everyone is interested in hearing them.

You wait your turn, speak your piece, and quickly turn the conversation back to your partner.

You may choose your words carefully, but people consider you to be more of a brilliant conversationalist than some chatty know-it-all!

6. Have you ever had a telephone conversation in which you or the other party actually asked to hang up first?
I don’t quite understand the question, there are times when a phone call comes at a bad time, I’m getting ready to go out or I’m heading out the door, I’m eating or I’m busy. On the other hand, I do not make or receive many phone calls. I talk only about 30 minutes a month on the phone.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

I Have Been A Little Preoccupied Lately

With homework lately, I have two terms papers due next week. So I will try to do the weekly memes but I will not be able to do any other posts.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Manic Monday #191

Lisa’s Manic Monday #191

If you could bring one character to life from your favorite book, who would it be?
I don’t know, I could think of a couple, someone from the Darkover or Honor Harrington series of books. Since I most read Science Fiction, it would a character from one of those books

Which cartoon character do you resemble the most?
Wow, when I think of cartoon characters I think of Goofy, Roadrunner, etc and I haven’t seen those in ages. I watched the Madagascar and Ice Age movies, but those characters I don’t resemble.

What vegetable do you most resemble?

I have no idea! Brussels sprouts, there I picked one.

Now, back to writing my term paper that I have been skillfully avoiding all day. Because I have no idea what to write to fill 12 pages, I'm at 8 pages and somehow I have to write another 4 pages and not have it sound like fluff.

McDonald's - "We Don't Hire F**gots

We need the gender inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) NOW

Congress has put ENDA on the back-burner and says they get around to it sometime in the spring (maybe). Meanwhile LGBT people are still being fired and are unable to find employment. Please call or write or email your Senators and Representatives and tell them to get the bill moving.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Heath Care Reform And Special Interests

You probably have seen those ads against heath care reform, the ad with Dr. Monica Wehby who says “I do not represent special interest”. Well I looked up organization that sponsored the ad, and guest what? It is a special interest organization called Employment Policies Institute (EPI)!

While researching "rethinkreform" they said this about themselves, is a project of the Employment Policies Institute (EPI), a non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment economics. EPI sponsors non-partisan research by independent economists at major universities around the country.
So that lead me to research EPI and according to Source Watch,
The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) is one of several front groups created by Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by Rick Berman, who lobbies for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries. While most commonly referred to as EPI, it is registered as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization under the name of Employment Policies Institute Foundation. In its annual Internal Revenue Service return, EPI states that it "shares office space with Berman & Company on a cost pass through basis".
And who is Rick Berman? The Huffington Post’s Art Levine writes,
Rachel Maddow last night took on corporate PR maestro Rick Berman. Berman has established a bevy of anti-reform "non-profit" websites that enable him to attack everything from ACORN to unions to Mothers Against Drunk Driving while defending trans-fats, lowering the minimum wage and high fructose corn syrup as good for you and the economy. But most critically, Maddow notes, "We're not allowed to know who picks up the bill" for his hit jobs.
On MSNBC Rachel Maddow links Mr. Berman to the Tea Party…

These ads against health care reform are nothing but a slick ad campaign by right wing conservatives to derail any chance of a meaningful health care law. Despite what she says Dr. Wehby does represents special interests!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Saturday Six – Episode 295

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six – Episode 295

1. What is your favorite foreign or non-English word?

2. What is your least favorite foreign or non-English word?
I don’t have one, I never really gave it any thought.

3. Of the foreign languages offered in your high school, which one did you choose to learn?
French, I last two weeks. 1. the teacher was my brother’s teacher and she kept on comparing me to him. 2. I have a hard enough time with English, let alone a foreign language.

4. If you could have selected any known foreign language instead, which would you have picked?
Spanish, I think that will become common in the U.S.

5. Take the quiz: What Language Are You?

You Are English

You are easy to understand, and most people are able to communicate easily with you. You say things simply and clearly.
You are flexible and not too hung up on rules or customs. You can go with the flow and change as needed.

You can speak simply or you can exercise your vast vocabulary. You customize you communication style to whatever setting you're in.
You are a very cosmopolitan and worldly person. If you like something from halfway around the world, you try to figure out a way to incorporate it into your life.

6. Other than English, which language are you most likely to use?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Saturday 9: Joy to the World

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Joy to the World

1. What to you is the most joyous aspect of the holidays?
Being with the family

2. Do you get much snow where you live? If yes, do you enjoy winter sports like skiing or would you rather stay in by the cozy fire?
Maybe. Sometimes we have a mild winter with only a foot or two of snow, other times we can get pounded with a couple of feet of snow at a time. In my younger days, I love to ski, now I rather stay by a warm cozy fire.

3. Have you ever been on a sleigh ride or a carriage ride? Do you even like horses?
Never have and I am not fond of horses, they are smelly and messy.

4. During the busy week, what do you do to relax?
Doing these silly memes. ;-)

5. Do you get stressed during the holidays?
Yes. I usually have to travel and I do not like to travel on holidays with traffic.

6. What holiday song could you happily never hear again?
Them all… Bah Humbug

7. How do you decide on what present you pick for a person?
We exchange lists.

8. What does this holiday season mean to you and why?
Getting fat! Over eating on all of the foods that I do not eat the rest of the year like sweet breads, pies, cakes, etc.

9. What holiday movies best describe the season for you and why?
Oh I hate these types of questions because I can’t remember movies. What was the movie that Jean Shepard wrote about the BB gun and the Red Rocket sled? I guess I’ll pick that one since it is the only one that I can remember without Bing Crosby in it.

Friday Fill-ins #153

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins #153


1. You get _the tea and I’ll get the biscuits_.

2. _Wall to wall shoppers right up to _Christmas_.

3. It's _never ending Christmas music_ time.

4. _The 5 pounds of store flyers in the newspaper is_ ridiculous!

5. I feel more _like Scrooge every day _.

6. _Bah Humbug_...goodnight!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _the coffee shop to hear folk music_, tomorrow my plans include _writing one of my term papers_ and Sunday, I want have to _continue writing my term paper and writing my Christmas card_!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

My Story Part 10 – Self-awareness

My earliest memories are crying myself to sleep at night praying that I would wake up as a girl. I had always known that somehow that I was different, I cannot put it into words, it was just a feeling. Then one day when I was in seventh grade for some reason I dressed up in my mother’s clothes and when I looked in the mirror I felt complete, whole.

Many years later, I wrote this poem about what I felt…

Lady in the Mirror

Heart skips a beat.
   Stomach flutters.
      Breath is lost.
I see me.
   I am whole.
      I am one.

I had always said that all it would take for me to stop crossdressing was to find the right girl. I know now that even then I would not have stop, I know many trans-people thought the same thing. They married and had children, only to find out that being trans was part of their soul, part of their very being. They ended up divorced, some messy others cordial and some stayed together. (Its trans-community little secret, there are many same-sex marriages out there that consists of a trans-woman and a woman.) So in a way, I was lucky that I never married.

I was the only person in the whole world that crossdressed or so I thought. I heard of Christine Jorgenson, Rene Richards and others, but I never made a connection between them and myself. The media always portrayed them in a negative way. So I never had any role models and I thought very negatively about myself, that somehow what I was doing was wrong. (There are still people out there that think that transgender people and homosexuals are evil, which results in feeling of guilt and that leads to a very high suicide rates for LGBT people. Some studies have found for trans-people a 35% suicidal ideation rate with 16% actually attempting suicide.) It wasn’t until one summer day that I was washing the car when I heard on the radio, “girls will be boys and boys will be girls, it’s a mixed-up, muddle-up, shook-up world, except for Lola”. When I heard the song “Lola” by the Kinks, I dropped the sponge and sat down on the lawn, and for the first time in my life... I realized that I was not alone.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day

I never knew anyone who had AIDS until I became involved with social justice and I realized that all my preconceptions about people who had AIDS were totally wrong.

AIDS is not a gay disease or a drug addict disease, but it can infect anyone, from any background, or race or social class! I urge you to learn the facts about AIDS and to help educate others about the facts.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Manic Monday #190

Lisa’s Manic Monday #190

Reflect on the characteristics of your best friend. What makes him or her so special?
They are a good listener, has empathy and is truly caring.

What is one quality you admire most in others?
Thinks of others first.

Describe an activity that you think is truly romantic
A candlelit dinner, a good wine, good music, a fire in the fireplace and snowing. (I don’t know, but I always felt that snow was romantic. I’m not talking about a blizzard, just a light snowfall.)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Sad Death

For some of us when we transition we face tremendous societal pressure against us. Society likes conformity and it punishes those who transgress the norm, sports writer Mike Penner faced that pressure when she transitioned. In 2007, she transitioned and went by the name, Christine Daniels, however, in 2008 she de-transitioned. No reason was ever state as to why she did go back to being identified as male, but I can imagine that one of the reasons was the pressure that she felt from society because she was a transsexual. Being such a public figure in a male dominate field, I feel, must have played a part in her de-transitioning. Yesterday, she was found dead of an apparent suicide.

AP reported that…
LA Times sports writer Mike Penner dead at 52

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Times sports writer Mike Penner, who announced two years ago he was a transsexual and was changing his name to Christine Daniels, has died at age 52, the newspaper reported Saturday.

Penner was pronounced dead Friday at a hospital, said Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. Brian Elias. He said coroner's officials hadn't yet performed an autopsy or issued an official cause of death.

The Times said in a story Saturday Penner was believed to have committed suicide. Penner had returned to using the name Mike Penner last year and was a Times columnist at the time of his death.

Penner revealed that journey on April 26, 2007, when he wrote a story for the Times headlined "Old Mike, New Christine," in which he revealed he was taking a few weeks vacation and when he returned to his job as a sports writer it would be as a woman named Christine Daniels.

"I am a transsexual sports writer," Penner wrote. "It has taken more than 40 years, a million tears and hundreds of hours of soul-wrenching therapy for me to work up the courage to type those words."

The announcement sent shock waves through the sports world, but Penner's bosses were supportive.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving.

For all of you out there like me, who do not like to watch football, I give a game to play instead…Hexxagon

Hexxagon made by Neave Games

Use the mouse to move your pieces around the board.

Quit game – Q
Mute sound – M

You play as the red diamonds and your opponent (either another player or the computer) plays as the blue globules. Your goal is to take over all the spaces on the board, and you do this by leaping into the spaces next to your opponent's pieces.

When you select one of your pieces, highlights of possible moves will be shown. The green highlights show where your piece will duplicate, the yellow highlights show where you will only jump. It's a good idea to duplicate as much as you can early on, and to spread around the board so you're not cornered.

I’m off to New Hampshire to join my family for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Story Part 9 My First Holiday With The Family

I had just come out to my extended family in October of 2006. We were up at my cousin’s summer cottages in Maine, there was my brother, sister-in-law, my cousin B and his girlfriend, my cousin A and his wife (it was their cottage), their son and his wife, and their daughter and her husband there. I had already come out to my brother and sister-in-law and we had agreed that it was time to tell my cousins. So Saturday night after dinner as we were sitting around the living room I told them that I had something important to tell them and I broke the news that I am transsexual. Cousin’s A wife got up and walked over to me and gave me a great big hug. The following morning, after breakfast, I told their son’s and daughter’s families. There were many questions, but in the end, they were all supportive. It was a great load of my shoulders, I had worried that they wouldn’t understand and accept me.

As we were leaving the next day to head back home, my cousin A’s wife said to me you are coming over to Thanksgiving dinner… as Diana? That Thanksgiving was the first holiday that I ever spent with the family as Diana. I was nervous as hell, but it was so liberating to finally to be myself. This Thanksgiving I am going to celebrating up at the family cottage in New Hampshire and then on Saturday, go up and visit my cousin A’s family in northern New Hampshire.

I am one of the lucky ones, there are many trans, lesbians, gays and bisexuals out there who will be spending the holidays alone, please open your doors to them and invite them in for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What We Give Up

When we transition, we may lose everything that we love, and this is even truer if you are in the public spotlight. There was an article in the New York Times about Sara Buechner who is a classical pianist who was forced to begin her career all over again.
Anything He Can Do, She Can Do
Published: November 13, 2009

IN September 1998, David Buechner, then 39, a prominent classical pianist, came out as a transgender woman, explaining that from then on, she would live and perform as Sara Davis Buechner. The pianist had been accustomed to rave reviews (at 24, David, in his New York City concert debut, was called “an extraordinary young artist” by a New York Times critic). But the debut as Sara, reported in a Times magazine article, was not so well received, even by loved ones.

In the next years, Ms. Buechner largely disappeared from public view, though not by choice. David had done 50 concerts a year — performing with philharmonic orchestras in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and San Francisco — but as Sara, she couldn’t get bookings. “Apart from local gigs, from 1998 to 2003, I did three to five concerts a year,” she said. David taught as an adjunct professor at Manhattan School of Music and New York University, but as Sara, seeking a full-time professorship, “I applied 35 places and wouldn’t even get a response. Behind my back, I’d hear, ‘Is it safe to leave him in a room with undergrads?’ ”

n the next years, Ms. Buechner largely disappeared from public view, though not by choice. David had done 50 concerts a year — performing with philharmonic orchestras in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and San Francisco — but as Sara, she couldn’t get bookings. “Apart from local gigs, from 1998 to 2003, I did three to five concerts a year,” she said. David taught as an adjunct professor at Manhattan School of Music and New York University, but as Sara, seeking a full-time professorship, “I applied 35 places and wouldn’t even get a response. Behind my back, I’d hear, ‘Is it safe to leave him in a room with undergrads?’”

On Nov. 11, she celebrated the 25th anniversary of her New York City debut by playing in Merkin Concert Hall, still 10 blocks from Carnegie Hall, but a joyous night. The 440-seat hall was full; the audience gave her numerous standing ovations. Her parents traveled from Baltimore, her brother from Kansas. They’ve all long since accepted Sara, happy that she’s happy. Her mother said she was advised to take a firm stand against Sara by a prominent therapist so as not to encourage the switch, but now regrets it. “Sometimes you think you know more than your children, but you don’t,” she said.
In 2003, Ms. Buechner was hired by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver to teach piano from over 100 candidates and received tenure in 2008.
On Nov. 11, she celebrated the 25th anniversary of her New York City debut by playing in Merkin Concert Hall, still 10 blocks from Carnegie Hall, but a joyous night. The 440-seat hall was full; the audience gave her numerous standing ovations.
You can listen to some of Ms. Buechner here.

Sara Buechner is not alone in traveling this journey. Jennifer Leitham is another woman who has taken this journey. This is an excerpt from her web-site,
“Jennifer is best known for her decade long stints with both Mel Tormé and Doc Severinsen. She has appeared with many distinguished artists including Woody Herman, George Shearing, Gerry Mulligan, Peggy Lee, Joe Pass, Cleo Laine, Louie Bellson, Pete Rugolo, Bill Watrous, and numerous others. She has also been a member of the Tonight Show All-Stars, The Woody Herman Thundering Herd, Benny Carter Quintet, Bob Cooper Quartet, DIVA, and more.”
When she transitioned, she had to reestablish herself as a musician. The gigs are slowing coming back and you can listen to some of Ms. Leitham here.

I have met both Sara and Jennifer, I met Sara in Provincetown MA where she gave a performance during the Fantasia Fair conference and I met Jennifer when I was lobbying in Washington DC for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Other musicians who have made this journey are Wendy Carlos and Billy Tipton, and you can listen to their music here and here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Senate ENDA Bill Is Held-up

The Senate last week said that they are holding back the ENDA bill that passed the House.
The Advocate has an article about the bill,
The Gender (Identity) Divide

The exclusion of gender identity from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act helped guarantee the bill’s failure in 2007. Now that ENDA is once again moving on the Hill, will it finally protect those who need it most?
Are we going to be thrown under the bus as Congress did back in 2007? Are we going to go through this all over again?
On the federal level, the T of LGBT has long been an inessential element in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit antigay discrimination nationwide, bolstering the current patchwork of laws in liberal-leaning states. ENDA was first introduced in Congress in 1994, though a precursor to the bill was originally written 20 years earlier.

Since 1994, ENDA has been reintroduced in every congressional term except one. None of the versions included gender identity until 2007, with Democrats in control of both houses of Congress. But when a preliminary vote in the House of Representatives reportedly failed to muster adequate support, Massachusetts representative Barney Frank split ENDA into two separate bills, one with gender identity protections, one without. The former died in committee; the latter passed the House, only to die in the Senate. While any version of ENDA was subject to a near-certain veto by then-President George W. Bush, many national gay organizations denounced Frank’s move as unacceptable. The nation’s largest gay rights lobbying group, the Human Rights Campaign, which supported passage of the non–transgender-inclusive bill, became the subject of controversy, with transgender activists and their allies protesting HRC fund-raising dinners nationwide.

Yet this month’s Senate committee hearing on the bill did not include testimony from transgender individuals, which elicited measured concern from National Center for Transgender Equality executive director Mara Kiesling and dismay from Diego Sanchez, senior legislative adviser to Frank. “This was a wake-up call for me that we’re not done educating people,” Sanchez told The Advocate last week. “If the biggest piece of discussion about this bill is gender identity, then it’s only logical that you would want to cast the light on the one part that people understand the least.”

Unless transgender men and women become more visible — and valued — members of the gay community, Beasley says she isn’t hopeful the picture is going to change anytime soon, even if she believes a federal law banning discrimination is a step in the right direction. “Most of society and the community looks down on transgenders,” Beasley says.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Murder of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado

Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was brutally murder in Cayey, Puerto Rico last week; Mercado was a victim of a violent hate crime because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. The accused murderer is believed to claim a “gay panic” defense.

CNN writes of Mercado murder, “He was found on the site of an isolated road in the city of Cayey, he was partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered, both arms, both legs, and the torso.” However, what is also disturbing was the callus attitude of the chief police officer on the case, “The police agent that is handling this case said on a public televised statement that ‘people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen’”.

In another CCN article they write that,
According to Telemundo and other local reports, Martinez Matos confessed to authorities that he picked Lopez Mercado up from the street, thinking that he was a woman.

When he realized that Lopez Mercado was a man, Martinez Matos said he regressed to an incident when he was sexually assaulted during a prison term, Telemundo and local reports said.
There is no excuse for murdering someone and I hope that Matos is charged with hate crime under the new federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This is a hate crime! When a person is murdered the way Mercado was murder, it was done out if hate, prejudice and bigotry.

There are a number of people who do not believe in the hate crime laws; they believe that all murders are done of anger, or that the laws interfere with religious freedom. Some believe that to single out a subculture for special treatment in the eyes of the law is wrong, that a murder by a bank robber should be treated the same as chopping up a trans or gay person. That hate crime laws prohibit religious leaders from speaking out again marriage equality or condemning LGBT people for what they believe as a “sinful lifestyle.”

In the eyes of the law, motive and intent are taking into account in most crimes of violence. If in a bar, someone pushes another person out of the way and that person falls and hit their head and dies, then that is usually treated a manslaughter. They did mean to harm the other person but it did result in a death. If two people get into a fight in a bar and one person picks up a beer bottle and hits the other person over the head with the bottle and he dies, then that is treated as a worst offense then the first case. Or if they are fighting and one person leaves, and then returns with a gun to kill the other person, it is then premeditated murder. The same is true for a hate crime, motive and intent is taken into account, it is not enough to murder a LGBT person but the motive and intent must be proven to be because of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

In addition, hate crimes also intimidates the subculture. When a victim’s body is mutilated and burned it is a message of hate and oppression that effects the entire LGBT community.

Religious leaders can preach hate and damnation all they want and it is not a hate crime. They can oppose marriage equality and it is not a hate crime. They can tell their followers to refuse to serve gay couples in restaurants or wait on them in stores it maybe discrimination, but it is not a hate crime. It is only a hate crime when a fist meets a person face because they are LGBT.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Six – Episode 293

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six – Episode 293

1. You’re home alone watching television: what beverage are you most likely to be drinking?
Juice or water

2. You have dinner with friends at a nice restaurant: what beverage are you most likely to be drinking?
A Chardonnay.

3. You’re at a cocktail party with a free bar: what beverage are you most likely to be drinking?
Cranberry juice and club soda with a twist of lime

4. Given a choice, are you more likely to choose water, a soft drink, tea, coffee, beer or wine?
It depends, where I am; at home, I would most likely be water during the day, during dinner tea or coffee.

5. Take the quiz: What Kind of Wine Are You?

You Are Chardonnay

Fresh, spirited, and classic - you have many facets to your personality.
You can be sweet and light. Or deep and complex.
You have a little bit of something to offer everyone... no wonder you're so popular.
Approachable and never smug, you are easy to get to know (and love!).

Deep down you are: Dependable and modest

Your partying style: Understated and polite

Your company is enjoyed best with: Cold or wild meat

6. What is your favorite wine?
Chardonnay, I like a California wine from Hacienda vineyards

Saturday 9: Talking in Your Sleep

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Talking in Your Sleep

1. Has anyone in your life talked in their sleep?
Not that I know of, I was asleep.

2. What do you like about fall?
I like the cool temperatures; they are great for walking on leaf covered trails

3. Do you have an addictive personality?
I don’t smoke, gamble, use drugs, but I do drink occasionally. However, I am addicted to food, I enjoy it too much and my waistline shows it.

4. Who was the last person to do something extra special for you?
A friend who loaned me a book for class

5. Would you ever take someone back if they cheated on you?
No, if they cheated once they will most likely cheat again.

6. Are you happy with where you are in life?

I have mixed feelings, however, the game is not over yet. I will let you know how I feel on this on my deathbed.

7. Do you believe that you can change someone?
No, they have to change themselves.

8. Have you ever wished you could've had someone but you couldn't?
Yeah once, but that's life, sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don't. You can only dream.

9. Would you ever fight someone over your significant other?

No. violence never settled anything. If my significant other couldn’t choose without fighting, then I wouldn’t want her as my significant other.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20th Transgender Day of Remembrance

Every year on November 20th a Day of Remembrance Vigil is held to remember those individuals who were brutally murdered simply because they did not conform to societies standards of what a “real man or woman” looks or acts like. This year’s victims are,

Taysia Elzy
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana USA
Cause of Death: Shot to death by 20 year old Christopher Conwell.
Date of Death: December 26, 2008
Taysia was 34 years old. Taysia and Michael Green were romantically involved and it is believed that they were murdered because Taysia was transgender and Michael was murdered because of his relationship with Taysia. They were both found dead in their apartment.

Michael Green
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana USA
Cause of Death: Shot to death by 20 year old Christopher Conwell.
Date of Death: December 26, 2008
Michael was 22 years old.
While Michael was not transgender, it is believed that he was murdered because he and Taysia Elzy were lovers.They were both found dead in their apartment.

Caprice Curry
Location: San Francisco, California
Cause of Death: Stabbed to death.
Date of Death: January 17, 2009
Caprice was 31 years old.

Image Devereux
Location: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Cause of Death: her murdered body (Ms. Jimmy) was found on Joseph Street behind the old Club Spektrum
Date of Death: April 14, 2009
Image was 34 years old.

Foxy Ivy
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Cause of Death: Stabbed to death
Date of Death: May 25, 2009
Foxy was an African American woman under the age of 35, she was found in Highland Parkand had been fatally shot in the back of the head.

Kelly (Frederick) Watson
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cause of Death: Murdered
Date of Death: June 9, 2009
Kelly was 32 years old. If you have any information on this murder, please call the Albuquerque Police Department at (505) 843-STOP.

Unidentified person wearing woman’s clothing
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Cause of Death: Shot multiple times
Date of Death: July 1, 2009
The victim was shot multiple times police sources told NBC 10. She was believed to be in her late 30s, according to police.

Terri Benally
Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cause of Death: Beaten to death
Date of Death: July 7, 2009
Terri was 42 years old.

Cesar Torres
Location: El Paso, Texas
Cause of Death: Blunt Force Trauma
Date of Death: July 9, 2009
An autopsy report says Cesar died from blunt force trauma. He had cuts around his eyes, broken ribs, a broken nose, a ruptured liver, wrenched neck and several stab wounds. Cesar was 39 years old.

Beyonce (Eric) Lee
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Cause of Death: Stabbed to death
Date of Death: July 26, 2009
Eric Lee was a drag performer who dressed and performed as the famous singer Beyonce. Eric was found in his apartment where he had been stabbed to death. Eric was 21 years old.

Tyli’a Mack also known as NaNa Boo
Location: Washington, DC
Cause of Death: Stabbed to death
Date of Death: August 26, 2009
Tyli’a was stabbed to death on the street in broad daylight. Tyli’a was 21 years old.

Paulina Ibarra
Location: East Hollywood, California
Cause of Death: Stabbed to death
Date of Death: August 28, 2009
Paulina was found dead inside her apartment, she had been stabbed to death. Paulina was 24 years old.

Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado
Location: Cayey, Peurto Rico
Cause of Death: Decapitated
Date of Death: November 14, 2009
Jorge was found on the site of an isolated road in the city of Cayey, he was partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered, both arms, both legs, and the torso. Jorge was 19 years old.

To find where other vigil are being held or to find a list of victims…
List of Vigils to be held around the world
List of Victims

Friday Fill-ins #151

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins #151

1. We need _to pass a universal health care bill with a public option_.

2. _When I was thinking back to when I was worried about going back to college_ and it made me smile.

3. If you want _seconds you have to wait until everyone else have gotten their food_.

4. _Don’t overfill your plate_ because _your eyes are bigger than your stomach_.

5. Massachusetts has a proposed 5% sales tax on elective cosmetic surgery; I think _it makes sense_.

6. _Having family altogether for Thanksgiving_ makes for a happy holiday.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _recovering from minor surgery_, tomorrow my plans include _more recovering from minor surgery and doing homework_ and Sunday, I want to _continue to recover from minor surgery and doing homework_!

Texas Bans Marriage!

In their zeal to ban marriage equality, Texas may have gone too far and banned marriage all together. In 2005, Article I, Section 32 of the Texas constitution was amended to say…
Sec. 32. MARRIAGE.
(a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.
I’m not a lawyer, but this sure sounds like they banned all marriage!

An article in the Miami Herald reports that,
A Texas-size technicality: Marriage may be unconstitutional
By Dave Montgomery
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

AUSTIN — Here's a question for Texans: Are you really married?

Maybe not.

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.

The amendment, approved by the state legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.
"It’s a silly argument," said Kelly Shackelford, president of the Liberty Legal Institute in Plano. Any lawsuit based on the wording of Subsection B, he said, would have "about one chance in a trillion" of being successful.

Shackelford said the clause was designed to be broad enough to prevent the creation of domestic partnerships, civil unions or other arrangements that would give same-sex couples many of the benefits of marriage.
Maybe, it might just be too broad?