Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Talk A Walk On The Wide Side!

Is it transphobic?

Or is just about a subculture in the trans community?

That is the hot question that is being discussed in the trans community.
Canadian Student Association Apologizes For Playing ‘Transphobic’ 'Take a Walk on The Wild Side’
mrcTV
By Ashley Rae Goldenberg
May 17, 2017

The student association at a Canadian university is apologizing to members of the transgender community who may have felt “hurt” or devalued by overhearing Lou Reed’s “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.”

In a statement on Facebook (archive link here), Ontario’s University of Guelph Central Student Association apologized anyone who was upset by the “hurtful” “transphobic lyrics” played during a campus event. The student association claimed the song “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” was picked for a playlist of ‘70s and ‘80s songs out of “ignorance” and showed “an error in judgement” [sic]:
It’s come to our attention that the playlist we had on during bus pass distribution on Thursday contained a song with transphobic lyrics (Lou Reed, Take a Walk on the Wild Side). The playlist was compiled by one of the Executives with the intent of feeling like a road trip from the 70s and 80s. The song was included solely on those terms and made in ignorance as the person making the list did not know or understand the lyrics.

We now know the lyrics to this song are hurtful to our friends in the trans community and we’d like to unreservedly apologize for this error in judgement.
The student association also said they are “committed” to being more “mindful” of the music they play during events in the future, and suggested students attend a meeting to “discuss how we can create better playlists in the future” with songs that are “more inclusive."
Okay, my take on this is; were there trans people who ran away from home and went to California? Yes. Are there trans people still leaving home and transitioning? Yes again.

The article goes on to say,
The student association page continued by saying the mere concept of the song, taking a walk on the wild side, is “problematic” and “dangerous” because it describes transgender people (reportedly 0.5 percent of the Canadian population) as being “unusual," which they claim is “dehumanizing” and makes people somehow less supportive of transgender rights:
Additionally, stating that conversing, spending time with, or having sex with a trans person is “taking a walk on the wild side” is also problematic. It labels trans folks as “wild” or “unusual” or “unnatural” which is a dangerous rhetoric.
The student association ended their lecture about “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” by admitting that although the song promoted transgender acceptance at the time, “it is now being consumed in a different societal context” and it is “not always consumed in the ways that it was intended,” which apparently justifies people being offended by it.
Well it is a lot more than “transgender acceptance at the time” it is still going on today. All you have to do is visit a bus station at night to see runaway trans kids.

So I see this debate trying to hide a highly marginalized segment of the trans community.

So what are your thoughts?


Is "Walk on the Wide Side" Transphobic

Yes
No
survey maker

P’town In Photos


Over the weekend I went up to Provincetown with a group from the Connecticut Outreach Society, there was a total of five members for a long weekend. I drove up with Deja and we got there a little bit before the two o’clock check-in time but they let us register.

Saturday morning I was going to go out to shoot the dunes in the National Seashore Park but I woke up with an aura migraine and since I can’t see where I am looking it makes it quite hard to shoot photographs. So I closed the room drapes and put on some Eagles and just chilled out for almost an hour.

After the aura dissipated I went out to take photos of the town…

The parking lot attendant’s booth.
Whaler’s Wharf mall, which is built on the site of a theater was destroyed in a fire in 1998 and was rebuilt as an open air enclosed mall. Hun? Well the best way understand it is the photo.


As you can see you can look right through the two story build and in the center there is a large circular space open to the sky.


The sea kayaks out behind the mall


This was taken at sun rise on Sunday from my motel room balcony at Long Point Lighthouse across the bay.

In the afternoon I went out to the Race Point Bike Path and walked along it for a little less than a mile.




All photos are HDR taken at EV -0.3, 0, & +0.3

Monday, May 22, 2017

We Are Everywhere!

Does it seem like that there are more trans people coming out than ever before? Well you’re right. More trans people are having surgery than we have in the past.
U.S. Gender Confirmation Surgery Up 19% in 2016, Doctors Say
NBC Out
By REUTERS
May 22, 2017

Editor's Note: Reuters has withdrawn this story because of questions surrounding the data supplied by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Gender confirmation surgeries rose 19 percent in 2016 from the previous year, a survey of plastic surgeons said, an increase some doctors attribute to expanded Medicare coverage and greater social acceptance of transgender people.

But less than 0.5 percent of those procedures involved the genitals, according to the survey of 703 doctors released on Monday by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
[…]
He attributed the increase to a 2014 decision by Medicare to end a blanket denial of coverage on gender transition related surgery and to changing societal attitudes toward transgender people and more positive images of them in the media.

The society publishes an annual statistics report on all types of plastic surgery and began reporting gender confirmation surgery for the first time this year.

They reported 3,256 surgeries, of which 54 percent were performed on male-to-female patients, or transgender women, and the remainder on female-to-male patients, or transgender men.
I think that as the article says, insurance coverage is probably one of the reason for the increase but I also think it because trans people feel safer in coming out during the timeframe of the study.it should be interesting to see if it declines with the Trump administration.

Another factor might be…
More U.S. Hospitals Offering Gender-Affirming SurgeriesNBC Out
By Dawn Ennis
October 31, 2016

A boon is underway at medical institutions from coast to coast, aimed at helping transgender Americans who suffer gender dysphoria because of the mismatch between their bodies and their gender identity.

Gender-transition services and surgeries are becoming more widely available across the nation, and more insurance companies are adding coverage to help the more than one million Americans who identify as transgender.
[…]
The Cleveland Clinic, Boston Medical Center, Oregon Health and Science University in Portland and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City are among the latest medical centers to provide gender-affirming procedures.

"At Mount Sinai, we are offering the full array of services for transgender people regardless of whether they have already accomplished their transition," Zil Goldstein, a nurse practitioner and program director at Mount Sinai's Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, told NBC OUT. "We want people to know that these treatments are available, and also that our staff are prepared to serve and care for the transgender community with sensitivity."

This month an institution with a controversial history regarding transgender health care added its name to the list: Johns Hopkins Medicine. Johns Hopkins made history in 1965 as the first academic institution to offer gender-affirming surgeries, but it stopped in 1979 and never resumed. However, in a letter posted earlier this month, it reaffirmed its "commitment to the LGBT community" and announced it will resume gender-reassignment surgeries in 2017.
Also here in Connecticut the Yale/New Haven Hospital is also offering GCS surgery and Middlesex Hospital is offering trans care, they have added APRNS for endocrine care.



I just got back from a weekend in Provincetown on Cape Cod as part a Connecticut Outreach Society trip that I lead up there for their members.

More to come, right now I just want to recuperate from the weekend and the four hour drive home.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Oregon Joins The Club

Of states that allow us to change our birth certificate with a letter from our healthcare providers.
Oregon Eases Birth Certificate Changes for Trans People
A bill signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown today will make the process simpler, cheaper, and more private.
The Advocate
By Trudy Ring
May 18 2017

Oregon’s Kate Brown, the nation’s first and only out bisexual governor, is helping to keep the state in the forefront of LGBT progress, today signing a law making it easier for transgender Oregonians to revise the name and gender on their birth certificates.

Under the new law, House Bill 2673A, trans people with Oregon birth certificates will be able to make the changes simply by filling out a form rather than posting a public notice in a county clerk’s office and going to court, making the process easier and more private while greatly reducing the cost, Reuters reports. Oregon is only the second state to put such a procedure in place; California was the first, in 2014. Oregon’s law will go into effect January 1.

“Many transgender Oregonians fear being publicly outed by having sensitive medical and personal information disclosed through the current court process,” said Nancy Haque, co-executive director of LGBT group Basic Rights Oregon, in a press release. “They have to post their name change on a public bulletin board and sometimes answer personal medical questions in open court. This is a real barrier.”
I know of some other states where you have to post in a newspaper you name change, talk about outing yourself! Having to post a legal notice that you are changing your name from John Doe to Jane Doe is letting the whole world know you are trans.

The bill also…
The new law will also lower the cost of the process significantly. It will “entail an administrative cost expected to run just $65, compared to the hundreds of dollars typically incurred to complete required paperwork, plus thousands more that an applicant often faced to hire a lawyer,” Reuters reports. Because of various barriers, only 10 percent of transgender Americans have identification matching their gender identity, according to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
In Connecticut it doesn’t cost anything to change your birth certificate but it does cost $30 for a copy of your full birth certificate. For help in changing your birth certificate here in Connecticut see GLAD’s toolkit.

They Are Everywhere!

Who are “they?” They are rightwing conservative Christians legal organizations that sue at the drop of a hat. They say that they are for “religious freedom” but in reality they are just anti-LGBT.
Matthew Shepard's Mother: Multimillion-Dollar Hate Groups Are Bullying LGBTQ Children
Time
By Judy Shepard
May 15, 2017

Aren’t you exhausted by the constant barrage of news — the proposed legislation against our communities and the reports of hate crime after hate crime? One fifth of these crimes are now reported to be done in President Donald Trump’s name.

In the 19 years since my son Matthew Shepard was murdered because of his sexuality, my foundation has seen the ups and downs in the numbers and targets of hate crimes. But in the last few months there has been a dramatic increase in reports across the spectrum.
The bigots have received a green light to spread their hate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big cut in the budgets of those federal agencies that track anti-LGBT hate crimes.

But it goes beyond individuals to…
Unfortunately, groups like Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which describes itself as a conservative Christian organization, exploit children in the name of hate. It parades them around a courtroom for frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit. One prime example is a suit filed recently against a school district in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, claiming that a high school student was sexually harassed when he saw a transgender boy changing in the school locker room.
[…]
The Southern Poverty Law Center labeled ADF as a hate group this year because of their longstanding history attempting to criminalize LGBTQ people. But I know firsthand the extent of their hate. At a 2014 conference, an ADF lawyer asserted that my son’s murder was a hoax fabricated to advance the “homosexual agenda.” These same lawyers are now trying to take advantage of young people who are “uncomfortable with” transgender students using the same restroom or locker room in school districts across the country. Everyone would be better served if education and acceptance were the solutions to feeling "uncomfortable" rather than nuisance lawsuits.
Back in the fifties and sixties "uncomfortable" was a code word used against integration as in “I would be uncomfortable with a black man in the bathroom with my son!”

Throughout history discrimination was justified by vilifying a minority and now it is our turn to be demonized. But what is different is not we have these so called defenders of “religious freedom” legal organizations.

Connecticut had its own run-in with a rightwing conservative Christians legal organizations, the American Center for Law and Justice which defended the town of Enfield when they wanted to hold their high school graduation in a church (you can read about it here, here, here, and here).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday 9: Him or Me -- What's It Gonna Be?

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Him or Me -- What's It Gonna Be? (1967)



On Saturdays I take a break from the heavy stuff and have some fun…

I’m up in Provincetown MA on Cape Cod this weekend. I’ve been derelict in commenting on your blogs and it is going to continue as I go away this weekend and next. I have been writing my blogs on Thursdays to post over the weekend and I don’t have time other than to “accept” the comments.

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, a man pleads with his girlfriend to make up her mind. Do you consider yourself decisive?
Yes somewhat, when I make up my mind I usually do it.

Since this song is all about either/or, we're using that as our theme this Saturday ...

2) Choose a condiment: Catsup or mustard?
Well it is not an either/or answer because it depends upon the food. If you are talking about French fries then it is catsup or as I spell it ketchup, mustard on fries just don’t hack it. While ketchup on a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich yuck!

3) Choose a sci-fi series: Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek

4) Choose your spy: James Bond or Jason Bourne? 
Oh this is a hard one, I have to go with James Bond over Jason Bourne

5) Choose your winter sport: Football or hockey? 
Sports! Ugh!

6) Choose your breakfast: Pancakes or waffles?
Pancakes, waffles are good but it is harder to clean up.

7) Choose your side: French fries or potato chips?
Oh another hard one. When I was up in Bennington VT with my cousins the restaurant had homemade potato chips…mmm!

8) Choose your chore: Washing dishes or doing laundry?
Um… can I not choose? Who likes to do chores?

9) Choose your nextdoor neighbors: Munsters or Addams Family?
I didn’t like either one but if I had to choose I’ll pick the Addams Family because of Morticia and because of their theme song.
Okay, true story. I know someone who had the Addams Family theme song as their ring tone on their phone, she is into Goth. But when her phone rang you could hear people in the room start humming the song, it is a great song for an earworm. I bet you will be humming the song for the rest of the day… They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky…


Friday, May 19, 2017

HACKED!

The haters broke into the website of trans cartoonist Sophie LaBelle and deleted all her works and then posted their hate.
Trans cartoonist forced to cancel Halifax book launch 'overwhelmed' by community support
Sophie Labelle said positive messages from local residents condemning hate was overwhelming.
Metro
By Yvette d'Entremont
May 18, 2017

Although Montreal-based trans cartoonist Sophie Labelle had to cancel a Wednesday night book launch in Halifax due to death threats and hate-filled messages, she says the outpouring of community support has overwhelmed her.

Labelle’s newest comic book, ‘Dating Tips for Trans and Queer Weirdos,’ was released last week. The outspoken activist said an orchestrated online attack was launched against her last Saturday. Her attackers posted her home address on several forums and forced her to take down her web page and social media accounts.

“They have a very clear eugenics agenda where they use Nazi imagery to promote their transphobic, homophobic and racist views,” Labelle said in an interview in downtown Halifax on Thursday before her return to Montreal.
This is so sad, her comics are one of the ones that I follow and it is also really scary that they published her address.

But what is amazing is the support that she has found,
"Our staff have been working very hard since (Wednesday) to delete hateful or hurtful comments as they appear on our Facebook page and will continue to monitor it," Haywood said. "On the brighter side, we've been happily overwhelmed by the hundreds of people who have posted positive reviews and messages of support."
I think one of the hardest things that we have to cope with is the fact that people hate, not just don’t like us, but actually hate us for just being ourselves.

President George Washington said this in a letter to the to the Hebrew Congregations of Newport, Rhode Island,
"The Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens."
Please be an ally and speak up when you see or hear hate and to hate give no sanction, to persecution no assistance.

She Made Her Bed

And now she is going to have to sleep in it.

I have to wonder what would have been if she was allowed to transition in the army before she did her treasonous act.

Dawn Ennis wrote Thursday in LGBTQ Nation,
“Okay, so here I am everyone!!”

With those words, Chelsea Manning revealed her true and authentic self, in a caption to her first Instagram post as a free woman. Manning was released Wednesday from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as a result of the bulk of her 35-year-sentence being commuted by President Obama.

What a difference freedom makes. Manning appears with mascara, lipstick, and her short blonde natural hair styled in a very femme fashion.
She is going to have a very, very rough life, between being trans and being a traitor her life is not going to be easy.
From Instagram xychelsea87

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Opposition

Sometimes it is a good idea to keep track of what the opposition is saying so I regularly stop by their website (if you have high blood pressure it is a good idea to take you meds before reading this).

Now you have to realize that OneNewsNow is a rightwing conservative religious website…
Science disqualifies transgenderism arguments
The transgender movement may be forced to reconsider past arguments used to justify the lifestyle.
By Charlie Butts
May 16, 2017

The transgender movement may be forced to reconsider past arguments used to justify the lifestyle.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel conducted an exhaustive study that identified 6,500 genes in the human genome that are expressed differently in men and women. The scientific research clearly conflicts with the idea that gender is simply subjective psychological identity. (See earlier story)

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council says the traditional view that biological sex determines gender has been under attack from a number of angles. He goes on to explain that the WIS research "really deals a blow to the idea that there are no significant differences between men and women."

The research, he says, may explain why some transgender individuals who have undergone hormone therapy and mutilation surgery don't believe it made them any happier.
Hmm… it seems to me that without any research into whether or not trans people have any of those genes that Mr. Sprigg is just blowing smoke to cover up the real facts.

Then you have our own rightwing conservative religious organization which shall remain nameless, this is to say about the conversion therapy bill,
The March 6, 2017, press conference, too, was what was expected. Heart-rending stories and stats but not a shred of evidence that conversion therapy even exists in Connecticut.

FIC Action’s emails on this point were mentioned by reporters during the Q and A and one of the gay activists responded by claiming that there are five religious organizations in CT that do conversion therapy and that the bill would affect the licensed professionals working with them. She provided no evidence for her claims and did not name a single ministry or licensed professional.
The thing is it takes great courage to sit before a legislative hearing and tell a bunch of strangers and have it become a public record about what you went through. And I would add the number of LGBT people who went through doesn’t matter because even one is one too many.

A High Cost To Pay

We sometimes forget that the surgery that we have is dangerous, it is major surgery and with it comes risks.
Transgender Georgia man who fought judge for name change dead at 25
Georgia Voice
By Patrick Saunders
May 16, 2017

Rowan Feldhaus, a transgender Augusta man who successfully fought a Georgia judge to get his name changed, has died after complications from surgery. He was 25.

Superior Court Judge David J. Roper denied Feldhaus’ request last June because it might offend the “sensibilities and mores” of other Georgia citizens. Roper’s decision was later overturned by the Court of Appeals of Georgia in January, and both Feldhaus and another transgender man whom Roper ruled against in a separate decision got their official name changes.

WRDW reports that Feldhaus suffered complications after one of his gender affirmation surgeries, going into septic shock after a hysterectomy and losing oxygen to his brain.

“Rowan knew the risks going into all of this and he was willing to accept the risks to do what he knew he wanted to do,” Austin Atkins, a friend of Feldhaus told WRDW. “Rowan will always be a personal hero of mine. he set an example for others to follow with how he lived his daily life.”
In addition to the fact that Gender Confirming Surgery is major surgery there are many diseases that can complicate GCS and it can make the surgery very hazardous.

Then there is paying for all of our healthcare for our transition and post care.
I Can't Afford to Transition: The Unseen Costs of Being Transgender in 2015
Living authentically comes with a hefty price tag.
Marie Claire
By Samantha Leal
July 21, 2015

Some insurance agencies are making moves to update their policies. In fact, Aetna—one of the biggest health carriers in the U.S.—became the first major health-benefits company to cover gender-reassignment surgery for its holders in 2009. While others are following suit, there's still a divide between what's needed and what patients can get.

"Many providers have exclusions, deep in the plan documents, where they won't pay for things not only related to your transition, but because of your transition," Kalra says. "I've seen circumstances where a person broke their leg and had a cast put on, only to be told by the insurance agency that they're not going to pay for that because the person was on hormones. The insurance company was claiming that hormones had weakened the person's bones, even though clinical research has shown that's not true."

While many insurers are willing to work with individuals, there are far too many horror stories for them to be considered isolated incidents. "It can be exhausting and intimidating, and so confusing," Kalra says.
A lot of times it all depends on who answers the phone at the insurance agency and how you ask the question.

I know of some trans people who were refused coverage while others have gotten their surgery covered from the same insurance company

While others have gotten their electrolysis covered by using the ICD-10 code L68.0 for Hirsutism, it all depends on how you phrase the question. If you say you want electrolysis for transition you will not get anywhere and the insurance company will claim it is for cosmetic reasons. But if your doctor says it is medically necessary because you have Hirsutism then they may cover it.



This morning I am up at the Connecticut Convention Center doing a workshop at the ATI Conference.
B-6) Cultural Competency and Equal Access LawHomelessness disproportionally effects members of the LGBTQ community, yet to this day many individuals face discrimination when seeking assistance. In this workshop participants will learn effective language and definition of terms associated with the LGBTQ community, strategies for being an ally to the LGBTQ community, and HUD law around safe shelter and fair housing for LGBTQ individuals.
I am doing the workshop with; the Triangle Community Center, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the agency that I represent the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition.

I intend just to go there for the workshop and then run earns to get ready for the weekend up in Provincetown.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

If You Don’t Get It, It’s Your Fault

I know the statement is kind of harsh but of the things that I learned over time is to take a person’s word when they tell you gender and if they tell you they are genderqueer believe them. And if they tell you their gender pronouns, use them.
WHAT YOU’RE ACTUALLY SAYING WHEN YOU IGNORE SOMEONE’S GENDER PRONOUNS
LET'S QUEER THINGS UP!
By Sam Dylan Finch
September 15, 2014

It can’t be emphasized enough: Coming out as transgender or any variation thereof is downright terrifying. It is often met with criticism, resistance, and invalidation. When I came out to friends, it felt like the world was crashing down all around me.

And by far, the worst part was the resistance I faced when asking others to stop saying “she.” Beyond coming out, we also ask others to change a very ingrained habit — to use different pronouns when speaking about us. This is where I encountered the most turmoil.

Some folks simply don’t understand what they are saying when they refuse to use someone’s stated gender pronouns.
When someone states their pronouns (he, she, ze, they, etc), they are asking for your respect. And when you choose not to use these pronouns, and instead opt for your own, you are not only invalidating someone’s identity, but you are also saying a plethora of harmful things that you likely never intended.
Sam goes on to list what you’re really saying when you refuse to use their pronouns,
1. I know you better than you know yourself.
When you make the decision to not respect someone’s pronouns, what you are ultimately saying is that their personal truth is something you are more knowledgeable about than them. You are saying, “How could you possibly know your gender? Only I could know that, and you’re wrong.”
[…]
2. I would rather hurt you repeatedly than change the way I speak about you.
Each time we misgender someone, we are inflicting harm. Would you rather hurt someone? Or simply change the way you are speaking?

3. Your sense of safety is not important to me.
When we misgender someone, we run the risk of threatening their personal sense of safety, as well as their physical safety. When someone feels invalidated or disrespected, they may not feel safe or comfortable in the space.
[…]
4. Your identity isn’t real and shouldn’t be acknowledged. 5. I want to teach everyone around me to disrespect you. […] 6. Offending you is fine if it makes me feel more comfortable.
Sam goes on to list four more things and sums it up with,
Using the correct pronouns is a way of validating that we ALL have the right to live our truth, however that truth looks or however that path twists or turns. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
And I would add that it also shows respect for the person.

Dehumanized!

There are so many Republican politicians that want to put us back into the closet.
GOP Lawmaker Thinks There's a Difference Between Being Gay and Being 'Just a Human Being'
Fusion
By Rafi Schwartz
5/10/17

On Monday, Missouri lawmakers voted to approve a bill that would make it dramatically more difficult for people to successfully sue their former employers for discriminatory wrongful termination.

The bill, SB43, would modify existing Missouri’s Human Rights Act legislation, and require plaintiffs prove that bias was the motivating, and not simply a contributing, factor in their firing—a much tougher legal hurdle to clear.

During Monday’s debate, Rep. Kevin Engler, a Republican, introduced an amendment to make it illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity—something not currently on the state books.
Sounds like that is a good thing that they are adding sexual orientation and gender identity. But not the part that makes it a lot hard to file a complaint and it likes it makes it impossible to win a discrimination case unless they are stupid enough to say why they are firing you.

But get a load of this…
But, for Engler’s fellow Republican Rick Brattin, discriminating against the LGBTQ community isn’t just a legal matter—it’s a universally held religious truism. Because, Brattin explained, “When you look at the tenets of religion, of the Bible, of the Qu’ran, of other religions, there is a distinction between homosexuality and just being a human being.”

Got that? There’s gay people, and then there’s “just being a human being.”
One of the hardest things I found to understand after I came out was why we are hated for just wanting to live our lives.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Public Money/Private Schools

It is a growing debate about whether private schools that receive government funding can discriminate. Could a private school that is receiving school vouchers or other government funding be for whites only? What about a religious school that is also receiving school vouchers or other government funding and limit enrollment to just those that believes in their faith?
Catholic Schools Try To Find Balance On LGBT Issues
Hartford Courant
By Shawn R. Beals
May 10, 2017

The controversy began, as many do these days, with an online petition.

A senior at Mercy High School in Middletown, an all-girls Catholic school, wanted to bring another girl as her date to the prom. The school's longstanding policy was clear — girls go with friends or bring a boy as a date.

More than 1,800 signed the student's "Let Girls Take Girls To Prom" petition on change.org, and the ensuing debate showed the increasingly complex position the Catholic church and its schools are in. Traditional Catholic policies remain, but Pope Francis is setting an agenda of greater flexibility and understanding, and though the issue is over for this prom season at Mercy, some alumni are pushing the school to change.
[…]
"All conversation about such issues is healthy; the school agrees with that," Strammiello said. "Whatever has prompted the conversation, I think, is less important than the conversation itself. It's an issue that requires a very thoughtful process by the school. There are larger implications that go all the way to the Vatican about how the church listens and shapes its response in a very broad sense. All of us who care about every student, we need to be very patient about where our divine faith leads us. It's not a bad place to be."

He said Mercy has made its decision, but continues to listen to the needs of its students as it looks for a balance between changing social views and traditions of the Catholic church.

"In this sometimes anxious world, when you're dealing with issues with such deep thought and sensitivity such as this, we need to be patient," Strammiello said. "We would be poorly served if anyone was being closed-minded about this."
The article frames this as religious canon debate but it is also a debate on if the school is receiving government funding and if they are allowed to discriminate against LGBT students and my guess they are receiving some sort local, state, or federal funds and if they are then I think the answer is simple; allow the students to be who they want to the prom.

If you answered that private schools cannot discriminate on the bases of race then they should not be allowed to discriminate against LGBT students.

Walking The Fine Line

In our quest for love we walk the fine line. If you look at trans people who have been murdered many of them were killed by people who they thought loved them.

The horrible death and mutilation of a trans women in Brisbane, Australia, in October 2014 that is going to trail is a case in point. I don’t know why it took all these year for the inquest to begin into her murder by her boyfriend.

Then here in the U.S. there was another murder of a trans woman by her boyfriend which resulted in the first case of a hate crime being prosecuted under the Mathew Sheppard, James Byrd Hate Crime Act. He killed his girlfriend because he feared that his friends would find out that he was dating a trans woman.
Man to be sentenced in anti-transgender hate crime
Detroit News
By Jeff Amy, Associated Press
May 15, 2017

Jackson, Miss. — For the first time in the U.S., a person will be sentenced on federal hate crimes charges for killing a transgender person.

Joshua Vallum is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Monday in Gulfport, Mississippi, after pleading guilty in December to hate crimes charges in the 2015 death of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson.

U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. could sentence Vallum to as long as life in prison without parole.

The case has been closely watched by LGBT groups nationwide, who cite studies showing transgender people are particularly likely to be victims of violent crimes. A 2009 federal hate crimes law included protections for gay and transgender people, but of the 47 people prosecuted during the period reviewed by The Associated Press, none were for offenses against transgender people.
[…]
In his defense, Vallum initially told sheriff’s deputies and later told The Sun Herald newspaper that he found out that Williamson had a penis on May 30, 2015 — moments before he killed her. He said he “blacked out” and doesn’t remember the crime, a variation of what’s known as a “gay panic” or “trans panic” defense. He declined to speak with the AP in a March letter, citing advice from his lawyer, but could talk to the judge Monday about the issue.

Prosecutors have said Vallum knew of Williamson’s transgender status long before he killed her, citing a witness in a state court proceeding who testified that Vallum and Williamson had sex multiple times while the witness was a roommate with Williamson.
Her murder saddens all of us but at least we know that he will not be out on the streets again where he can murder other people.

I am not an expert in love but I could see warning signs in relationships; you should be cautious if they don’t want to be seen in public with you and do not introduce you to their friends. These signs should send off red flares in the relationship.

We must also work to block “gay panic” or “trans panic” defense in court cases.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Raise Your Hand If You Know What ERISA Is?

Most people probably haven’t heard of ERISA but if you work for a company with a federally insured retirement or health insurance plan then you are most likely covered by ERISA.

ERISA plans do not follow state laws but federal laws.
Aetna Beats ERISA Lawsuit Over Transgender Breast Surgery
Bloomberg
By Jacklyn Wille
May 11, 2017

From Pension & Benefits Daily
Pension & Benefits Daily™ covers all major legislative, regulatory, legal, and industry developments in the area of employee benefits every business day, focusing on actions by Congress,...

A transgender woman who sought disability benefits following a breast augmentation surgery lost her lawsuit against Aetna Life Insurance Co. ( Baker v. Aetna Life Ins. Co. , 2017 BL 154737, N.D. Tex., No. 3:15-cv-03679-D, 5/9/17 ).

Aetna properly denied the woman disability benefits for her post-surgery recovery because it reasonably concluded that the surgery was for cosmetic purposes and not a medically necessary procedure aimed at treating an illness, a federal judge ruled May 9. According to Aetna, the surgery wasn’t medically necessary because the woman’s hormone-replacement therapy had already caused her to develop “average-size female breasts,” rendering further augmentation cosmetic.

This case against Aetna and the woman’s employer, L-3 Communications Integrated Systems LP, is one of the first cases to question the extent to which the Employee Retirement Income Security Act protects individuals who receive medical services related to their transgender status. In January, the judge rejected the woman’s attempt to state an ERISA claim for gender identity-based discrimination after finding that the statute didn’t provide for such a claim. The woman’s attempt to advance this claim under the Affordable Care Act was similarly unsuccessful.
Under the Obama administration the Department of Labor argued that Title VII sex discrimination covered gender identity and expression under the 1989 Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins Supreme Court decision.

But the Trump administration takes a 1950 view of sex.

However, the court’s case wasn’t all that bad for us because Aetna didn’t rule out not covering the breast augmentation in the future,
Aetna said that it has no categorical rule about gender dysphoria or male-to-female transitions. Rather, coverage was denied in this case because the woman didn’t establish that her surgery was medically necessary, given that she had developed “size B-C breasts” from her hormone treatments.

The judge agreed with Aetna, noting that the insurer’s medical necessity determination was based in part on the woman’s own description of the surgery as a “cosmetic procedure.”
So that means that they possibly cover breast augmentation if there wasn’t sufficient breast development.

The End Of An Era

As I sit here on May 14th writing this snow is falling up at the lake in New Hampshire as we get ready to sell the cottage.


There have been many good memories made here and some bad.

My parents bought the cottage back in 1981 for their retirement and the enjoyment of their kids and grandkids and now greatgrandkids. But all things come to an end.

This was some twenty-six years before I transitioned but I was crossdressing back then I used to come up here by myself and be “Diana” back then the cottage was one floor with three bedrooms and a crawl space for the basement. It wasn’t until around 2006 that we added a basement with three bedrooms and we lost one upstairs bedroom for the stairs, so it became the mudroom with a new front door.

As I said that I used to come up here to be Diana but with that came the only bad memory about the cottage… three neighborhood teenagers were Peeping Toms and I caught them as they watched me laying on the couch reading. I heard gigging and when I look out the window I saw them running away. I knew who they were because they broke into the cottage and partied drinking up all the booze (one of them later would be accused of murder).

But there has been a lot more good memories made…

One of the memories was before I transitioned, I came up here in the winter and got Snowed In, it is in capitals because we got over 24 inches of snow, the power went out and I couldn’t even get out of the cottage because the snow drifted over half way up the only door and I couldn’t push it open. So I had to climb out the window to get out of the cottage.

That night I huddled around the woodstove trying to keep warm because I was so cold in the cottage my rum and cokes were freezing. My van was stuck are the end of the driveway that slopes down to the cottage and I only had a small snow shovel to dig my way out, but the year round resident across the street worked for the town, he had the town snow plow and dug me out and then towed me up the driveway.

But it wasn’t all bad that weekend it was great cross-country skiing on the lake with two feet of new snow.


The day the boat sank



Written my term paper


Way before I transitioned



A stone bridge not far from the cottage


Fourth of July

The Big Dipper

Getting ready for dinner with the "Gang:



What lies for the future?

I plan on using my half of the sale to buy a three season place on the tip of Cape Cod.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday 9 Mama Can't Buy You Love

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9 Mama Can't Buy You Love (1979)



On Saturdays I take a break from the heavy stuff and have some fun…
I'm up at the cottage in New Hampshire for a work weekend getting the cottage ready to sell. ;(

Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) This week's artist, Elton John, was made an Office of Arts and Letters -- one of France's highest honors for people who have contributed significantly to the arts. What's the most recent compliment you received?
On my nail polish

2) In 2013, Elton had to cancel an international concert tour because he had an appendectomy. Do you still have your appendix?
Appendix… doesn’t that come at the end of a term paper?

JK, yes I still have my appendix while I had a close call with diverticulitis that they first thought it was appendicitis.

3) In 1979, Elton John was the first Western rock star to tour the Soviet Union. Would you like to visit Russia?
NO! They will lock me up and beat the daylights out of me then throw me in a concentration camp. They don't like LGBT people there.

4) Elton and his mother hadn't spoken in years but he reached out to her and healed their beach in honor of her 90th birthday in 2015. Who is the oldest person you know?
I take it that you mean that I know personally… that would be my cousin Bob.

5) Flowers and plants are popular on Mother's Day. How is your yard or garden? Is it green and/or blooming?
It is very green it has been raining heavily all spring.

6) Mother's Day is a big holiday for card shops. So are birthdays, weddings, and St. Patrick's Day. Hallmark sells greetings for everything from "Congratulations on Your New Job" to "Happy Retirement." Who received the most recent card you bought?
No one. Since I didn’t send out Christmas cards this year because I didn’t realize Christmas was so close.

7) Sam's mother is very careful when she unwraps presents because she likes to save money by to reusing wrapping paper and gift bags. Tell us one way that you economize.
I don’t buy gifts… no gifts means no wrapping paper and bows.

8) Mother Winters used to scold Crazy Sam for leaving her dirty dishes in the sink. Sam admits it: as a grown up, she still leaves dirty dishes in the sink. How about you? Is your sink or dishwasher empty?
Full. Living alone I run the dish once a week and let the dish back up in the sink but they are stacked nicely in the sink and they are all rinsed off.

9) RANDOM QUESTION: What size mattress do you sleep on -- twin, full, queen or king?
None of the above, mine is even bigger! It is a California King which is a little long than a regular king by about four inches.



Last week I mentioned I was trying to find a solution to an Excel problem, well I found it...




Friday, May 12, 2017

A Very Timely Article

On Wednesday the Senate passed and the governor signed into law a bill banning conversion therapy on those under 18.
How Conversion Therapy Bans Will Trap Transgender Children
A bill to ban ‘conversion therapy’ nationwide would bar American children unhappy with their bodies from access to therapy other than drastic bodily alteration.
The Federalist
By Marcus Gregory
May 11, 2017
On April 25, Democratic lawmaker Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wyoming) reintroduced a bill to ban therapy in the United States that seeks to change “sexual orientation or gender identity.”

While attempts to make gays straight may have little value, that little “or gender identity” nonchalantly added to the end is a live grenade. In disguised language, it ensures no American child unhappy with his or her natural sexed body will have access to therapy other than drastically changing the body.
Wrong! This was brought up at the Senate debate on the a bill banning conversion therapy, the bill does not ban therapist from allowing a questioning child to explore their feeling but it only prohibits a therapist from trying to make the child straight.
Transitioning may involve changing clothing and pronouns for young children; putting children on the drug Lupron to suspend puberty; lifelong doses of hormones to change their appearance; and surgery to remove breasts and genitals. This is not just for girls who say they’re boys, but for kids who say they’re “non-binary,” too. Common sense asks why we’re so anxious to label children at all, let alone give them treatment that will change their adult sexual identity. What does a boy know about being a man, or a woman, or whatever non-binary might be?
Wong again! The child will have to go through extensive therapy first before they transition, it is not just on a whim.

As for “whatever non-binary might be?” well open your eye and ears to what the children have to say, instead sticking with your 1950s notion of sex and gender.

The article goes on to talk about the increase in the number of children coming as being trans or gender non-conforming… Did you ever think that because of the children now knowing what their feeling are, that it is not hide from them anymore and now more parents know what to look for in their child that they are coming out more and seeking professional help because of that?

They also mention that there is no research to back up the harmfulness of forcing them straight and they are wrong again. There is 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, and a quick search of Google Scholar found,
"Transgender youth and life‐threatening behaviors."
"Development, risk, and resilience of transgender youth."
"A longitudinal study of predictors of suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth."
“Does it get better? A longitudinal analysis of psychological distress and victimization in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth”
You know if you don’t research the topic you will not know what is out there and you can bury your head in the sand and say “I see nothing!.”

When A Hate Crime Isn’t A Hate Crime

It is when the state Supreme Courts says it’s not.
West Virginia Supreme Court Rules Anti-Gay Assaults Are Not Hate Crimes
Slate
By Mark Joseph Stern
May 10, 2017

On Tuesday, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s hate crime law does not cover anti-gay assaults or any crime committed on the basis of sexual orientation. Its 3–2 decision marks a setback for civil rights advocates’ efforts to persuade courts that laws prohibiting violence and discrimination on the basis of sex also protect LGBTQ people. The loss, however, is a narrow one—and the poorly reasoned majority opinion is unlikely to affect the growing consensus in the federal judiciary that anti-LGBTQ discrimination is always “because of sex.”

Tuesday’s decision in West Virginia v. Butler emerged from a disturbing case of anti-gay bias. In 2015, Steward Butler, a college football player, allegedly attacked two men for kissing in public after shouting homophobic slurs. Prosecutors charged Butler not only with battery but also with a hate crime. West Virginia’s hate crime statute does not explicitly include sexual orientation, but it does bar violence “because of sex.” Prosecutors argued that Butler’s alleged attack fell under this prohibition because it was motivated by sex stereotyping, and because sex lay at the root of the brutality: Butler allegedly beat each man for intimately associating with a person of the same sex, and if either were different sex, he would not have assailed them.
This is 180 degree thinking from the U.S. Supreme Court which in the Price Waterhouse case ruled that sex discrimination also includes “sex stereotyping.”

One judge had this to say,
In a forceful dissent, Justice Margaret L. Workman, joined by Justice Robin Jean Davis, criticized Loughry for giving “the shortest shrift to real critical thinking.” The majority decision, Workman wrote, “is overly simplistic and constricted,” because “the absence of … those two magic words”—sexual orientation—“does not definitely resolve the question presented by this case.” In reality, Workman explained, “certain individuals are targeted for violence because they are perceived to violate socially-established protocols for gender and sex roles. The perpetrators in such instances have drawn conclusions that the victim has contravened certain unspoken rules” regarding men and women. When he acts on those conclusions, “the bias-motivated crime” is committed, quite literally, “because of sex.” Workman elaborated:
If a man stands on a corner kissing a man and is beaten because he is kissing a man, has he been assaulted because of his sex? Yes, but not simply because he possesses male anatomical parts; rather, the crime occurred because he was perceived to be acting outside the social expectations of how a man should behave with a man. But for his sex, he would not have been attacked.
In an elegant analogy, Workman compared this sex stereotyping to race stereotyping, which is already acknowledged to be form of race discrimination:
If a Caucasian man is fired because he is married to an African-American woman, has he been discriminated against because of his race? Yes, but not simply because of the hue of his skin; rather, the act was committed because he was perceived to be behaving outside the social expectation of how a Caucasian man should behave with an African American woman. But for his race, he would not have been fired.
So what are the options for the target of the hate and violence?

Well there is the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that makes it a federal crime for crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

So this clearly falls under the act, but somehow I don’t think that the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to investigate the attacks.



Today I am at the Newington’s Senior and Disabled Center for the Moveable Senior Center forwarded by a meeting of the LGBT Aging Advocacy Coalition. So it is going to be a long day.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

One Of The Side Effects Of Oppression

One of the side effects of oppression and stress of any marginalized community is substance abuse and self-harm and the trans community is no exception.

The CDC reports that,
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons and Tobacco Use

People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) include all races and ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomic groups, and come from all parts of the U.S. It is estimated that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons make up approximately 3% of the total U.S. population.

Cigarette smoking among LGB individuals in the U.S. is higher than among heterosexual/straight individuals. Nearly 1 in 4 LGB adults smoke cigarettes compared with about 1 in 6 heterosexual/straight adults.
[…]
Transgender Individuals
Limited information exists on cigarette smoking prevalence among transgender people; however, cigarette smoking prevalence among transgender adults is reported to be higher than among the general population of adults.

The transgender population is considered especially vulnerable because of high rates of substance abuse, depression, HIV infection, and social and employment discrimination, all of which are associated with higher smoking prevalence.
In another CDC report,
Know the Facts
If you are part of the LGBT communities, you likely have seen tobacco ads in magazines, newspapers, and Web sites directed at you. Tobacco companies are targeting your communities.

Smoking among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States is much higher than among heterosexual/straight adults. About 1 in 5 (20.6%) lesbian, gay, or bisexual adults smokes cigarettes compared with roughly about 1 in 7 (14.9%) heterosexual/straight adults.

Cigarette smoking is also higher among transgender adults (35.5%), than among adults whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex (cisgender).
What makes it harder for smokers and are trying to stop is that the stressors in their life are still there. The harassment, the microaggressions, the discrimination, and threat of violence do not go away.

HB 6695 AAC The Protection of Youth From Conversion Therapy


All afternoon while I was volunteering at the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective I had CT-N on my computer playing in the background, they just had music playing while the Senate wasn’t in session. Then around three thirty I hear them call the senators to chamber to begin the session, after the opening pray and the Pledge of Allegiance the Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman who is also President of the Senate announced the first bill would be HB 6695 AAC The Protection of Youth From Conversion Therapy… Whoa! That’s our bill! I told the Executive Director that it is being heard now and she came and watched it with me.

The first senator to question the bill sponsor in the senate, Senator Beth Bye was Senator Suzio (R Meriden, Middletown, Cheshire, and Middlefield) and he started to pepper Senator Bye with questions for what seemed like forever but it was only an hour! Next up was Senator Kissel (R. Enfield, Suffield, Windsor Locks, East Granby, Somers and parts of Granby and Windsor)… Hey! He said he was for the bill why was he asking all these questions from the bishop of Archdiocese of Hartford? It turned out he just wanted the answers read into the record of the Senate.

There was a few more senators who spoke for and against the bill and the vote was called, as we sat around the computer screen watching the votes get posted… green, green, green, green and the green lights keep coming and there were no red lights lit? Then the Lieutenant Governor announces the vote… Yeas 36, Nays 0, Not voting 0!

It was unanimous!

The rules were suspended and the bill went to the governor immediately where he signed it in to law.

Screen Shot from ctEQUALITY Facebook page
But our work is not done yet!

Please email you state Senator and Representative and thank them for voting for the bill, this is a very important step to let them know that it was important to you that they voted for the bill. You can find their contact information here.

So ends eight months of work, the first planning meeting that I attended for the bill was back in October and we have been meeting about once a month after that.

Organizations that worked on the bill...
ACLU-CT
AIDS CT
CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence
CT TransAdvocacy Coalition
CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)
GLSEN Connecticut
Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective
National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter
New Haven Pride Center
OutCT
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Triangle Community Center
True Colors

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Allies In High Places

This time an ally stepped forward from the entrainment sector, Whoopi Goldberg.
Whoopi Goldberg Speaks Out for Transgender Rights
NBC Out
By Brooke Sopelsa
May 8, 2017

Surrounded by the transgender stars of Oxygen reality show "Strut," Executive Producer Whoopi Goldberg on Saturday accepted the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Reality Program. But the actress and TV host didn't do so without speaking up for transgender rights and against those trying to roll them back.
While Out Magazine reported,
“Transgender people have been with us forever,” says Whoopi Goldberg. “Not just recently. Not just on television. But in real life.”
[…]
“It’s not about superficiality,” says Goldberg. “This is about how to deal with your mom or your dad, who may not get it. People say, ‘Honey, God doesn’t make mistakes.’ No, God doesn’t make mistakes, but Mother Nature will fuck with you. So if someone says, ‘I don’t think I’m in the right body,’ you have to listen.”

She adds, “No matter where you live, you know someone or you’ve met someone who is transgender. So relax. They’re just trying to find their place in the world.”
All we want is to live our lives in peace, to have a roof over our heads, a job, and come home to loved ones.

In Common

One time at Fantasia Fair in Provincetown MA on Cape Cod at the B&B we were staying at there was a group of lesbians staying there for the last weekend of Women’s Week. In the late afternoon we were in the common room where the wine and cheese was out, one side were the lesbians guests and on the other side of the room were the trans guests, we had nothing in common… or did we?

Somehow the conversions turned to coming of stories and all of sudden we had something in common and friendships started to develop.
BARRY MANILOW GETS EMOTIONAL TALKING FAN SUPPORT SINCE COMING OUT
qnews.au
By Jordan Hirst
April 22, 2017

Barry Manilow has said that the outpouring of love and support he’s gotten from fans since coming out as gay has been “thrilling”.

The entertainer publicly acknowledged his sexuality for the first time earlier this month, and he got choked up when talking about his fans in an interview on US talk show Today.

“You should walk down the street with me one day. These strangers say the most beautiful things to me,” Barry said.

“They thank me for helping them through their lives. The impact I’ve had on people… I’m sorry, I’m going to cry. It’s thrilling.”
And Mr. Manilow isn’t the only celebrity to come out,
Fox News’ Shepard Smith On Coming Out: “I Didn’t Think I Was In”
“I go home to the man I’m in love with,” the Fox News anchor says.
New Next Now
By Dan Avery
May 7, 2017

Shepard Smith opened up a bit about his sexuality in a recent talk at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Smith, an Ole Miss alum, was attending “It Starts With MEek,” a conference promoting diversity and inclusivity at the school.

Though he left before graduating, Smith credits UM with teaching him important lessons about journalism. But, he confessed, he threw himself into his work to avoid dealing with his private life—rarely spending a night at home for a year at a time.
He goes on to share what is common to all of us who thought about coming out,
“A. You’re going to hell for it,” he said, listing why he avoided acknowledging his sexuality. “B. You’ll never have any friends again. C. What are you going to tell your family?”
I think we all thought this when we were contemplating coming out. Many of us had vision of losing our family, friends, and losing our jobs. And he also had the fact that he worked at Fox.
“And by the way, you’re on television on the craziest conservative network on Earth,” he joked. “That will probably put you in front of a brick wall. Of course none of that was true, but that’s how it felt.”
Whether you are lesbian, gay, bi, queer, or trans we have to come out and with it we share a common fear of the unknown.

For us we have to come out if we are going to transition, family and friends tend to notice little things like showing up at a summer event in a sun dress. While lesbians, gays, bi, and queers don’t have to come, they just a friend with them.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Very Interesting!

It is so nice to live in a state that “Gets It!” we have a lot of faults here in Connecticut and there are still a lot of people who don’t get it but in general we are better off than most states.
Becoming Myself: A Transgender Perspective on Behavioral Health *Advisory*

“Becoming Myself:  A Transgender Perspective on Behavioral Health” tells the stories of four transgender residents and the behavioral health challenges they faced as transgender individuals. People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) face greater health threats than their heterosexual peers, partly because of differences in sexual behavior and partly because of social and structural inequities, such as stigma and discrimination. This includes not only threats to their physical health, but to their mental health as well.
While the federal government is taking LGBT stuff down from their websites Connecticut is posting what services are available for us.
For more information about mental health programs and services available for members of the LGBT community, go to www.ct.gov/dmhas/lgbt.
Following that link to…
Programs and Services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
People with Mental Health and/or Substance Abuse Issues    

Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) have begun in DMHAS state-operated facilities. GSAs support people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and their allies by creating safe environments in mental health and substance abuse facilities to support each other.

Recovery is a challenging process. So is the process of coming out as being lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. We have found that having a safe space for people to be supported within our treatment facilities is very helpful.

GSAs are not just for LGBT people. Allies of LGBT people are welcomed and an important part of the mission of GSAs. Partnership with allies provides mutual support to LGBT people and our allies.

Our hope is one day GSAs will exist throughout the DMHAS system. 
How great is that!

Let’s see if Texas or Tennessee or Kentucky will support GSAs.

One word of caution that link for the video doesn’t play the video but downloads it and it is a very large file (1.7 GB).

Not All Republicans Are Bad

Some speak up against those who want to take away our Human Rights, but those who remain silent are just as bad as those who attack us.
John McCain: Why We Must Support Human Rights
By John McCain
May 8, 2017

Washington, D.C. — SOME years ago, I heard Natan Sharansky, the human rights icon, recount how he and his fellow refuseniks in the Soviet Union took renewed courage from statements made on their behalf by President Ronald Reagan. Word had reached the gulag that the leader of the most powerful nation on earth had spoken in defense of their right to self-determination. America, personified by its president, gave them hope, and hope is a powerful defense against oppression.

As I listened to Mr. Sharansky, I was reminded how much it had meant to my fellow P.O.W.s and me when we heard from new additions to our ranks that Mr. Reagan, then the governor of California, had often defended our cause, demanded our humane treatment and encouraged Americans not to forget us.

In their continuous efforts to infect us with despair and dissolve our attachment to our country, our North Vietnamese captors insisted the American government and people had forgotten us. We were on our own, they taunted, and at their mercy. We clung to evidence to the contrary, and let it nourish our hope that we would go home one day with our honor intact.
But now…
In a recent address to State Department employees, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said conditioning our foreign policy too heavily on values creates obstacles to advance our national interests. With those words, Secretary Tillerson sent a message to oppressed people everywhere: Don’t look to the United States for hope. Our values make us sympathetic to your plight, and, when it’s convenient, we might officially express that sympathy. But we make policy to serve our interests, which are not related to our values. So, if you happen to be in the way of our forging relationships with your oppressors that could serve our security and economic interests, good luck to you. You’re on your own.

There are those who will credit Mr. Tillerson’s point of view as a straightforward if graceless elucidation of a foreign policy based on realism. If by realism they mean policy that is rooted in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be, they couldn’t be more wrong.
We must always stand on the side of Human Rights and not throw a people under the bus to get other concessions.
We are a country with a conscience. We have long believed moral concerns must be an essential part of our foreign policy, not a departure from it. We are the chief architect and defender of an international order governed by rules derived from our political and economic values. We have grown vastly wealthier and more powerful under those rules. More of humanity than ever before lives in freedom and out of poverty because of those rules.

Our values are our strength and greatest treasure. We are distinguished from other countries because we are not made from a land or tribe or particular race or creed, but from an ideal that liberty is the inalienable right of mankind and in accord with nature and nature’s Creator.
But we are losing our way.

We are becoming a nation of “Haves and Have Nots” we are become a nation that is separated by race, we are become a nation that does not care for our fellow human being.

The definition of Fascism according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is,
1. often capitalized :  a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2. :  a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control early instances of army fascism and brutality — J. W. Aldridge
We are headed in that directions. we have a president who said he is looking to change the First Amendment to silence the New York Times and the Washington Post in favor of Fox News. When we have a president who wants to allow bigotry and discrimination to hide behind religion we should stop and think about our values and that of our country.

A Long Shot.

There is a trans candidate running for office on Long Island and I think her candidacy is going to be hard, I think there are still many people out there who will not vote a trans candidate. She might be the best candidate but there still are a lot of bigots out there.

TeenVogue reported,
This Is the FIRST Transgender Woman Running for Office on A Major Ticket in New York
Kristen Browde lives in Chappaqua, hometown of Hillary Clinton.
By Leora Yashari
May 8, 2017

In the days following the election of Donald Trump as president in November 2016, Kristen Browde sat in a crowded church in Larchmont, New York. Clusters of county officials debated the future of their towns and the tension was palpable. The questions were all the same: “What now?”

Browde, a 66-year-old lawyer and former television news reporter, lives in Chappaqua. It's the hometown of her preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, who she campaigned for door-to-door. But in the church Browde came to listen. As she heard unresolved concerns among her district constituents she instinctively jumped in. Later, she was asked if she would consider running for town supervisor.

Aside from participating on various town government committees, Browde had no interest in becoming an elected official—she runs a successful law practice and has a three-decade newscasting career behind her. But last month, she announced that she would accept the Democratic party’s nomination, making her the first-ever transgender woman nominated to run for office in the state of New York on a major party ticket. If elected, Browde would become part of a small group of openly transgender elected officials, according to the LGBTQ Representation & Rights Research Initiative at the University of North Carolina.
I wish her luck. Hopefully in Chappaqua they vote on who is the best candidate and not vote on their biases.