Thursday, October 19, 2017

Day 3 At Fantasia Fair

I started of the day at lunch, I chose having lunch at Tin Pan Alley where we had a choice of meals and I picked the toasted cheese and tomato soup. The soup was excellent, the toasted cheese left a little to be desired… come on, one thin slice a cheese?

Each day at the fair we have a choice of three places to eat lunch, the Post Office, Tin Pan Alley, and the Crown and Anchor; I believe that I chose the Crown & Anchor for today’s lunch.

After lunch was the keynote address. When I read the bio of the speaker I wasn’t impressed but listening to her talk I was impressed. She talked about her transitioned while working as a firefighter and one of the things that she mentioned was that she was a conservative before she transitioned but after seeing the discrimination not only against us but also against other minorities she became a believer in affirmative action.

After her talk I went to the The Signs of Suicide Amongst the Trans/GNC Community workshop and I picked up some things I didn’t know about but most of it I know from grad school and also other trainings that I attended in the past. The workshop was given by two volunteers from the Trans Lifeline which is a suicide hotline for transgender people.

I skipped the Fashion Show, after seeing it four or five times it becomes “old hat” after a while.

Long Point Lighthouse at Sunset

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Dismal Results (Part 2)

The Connecticut breakout from the 2015 Transgender Survey has just been published and the results are not good especially since we have laws that are supposed to prevent it.

Another section that they break out the Connecticut results is in healthcare and some of the finds were,

  • In the past year, 20% of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person, and 25% did not see a doctor when needed because they could not afford it.
  • 29% of those who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender. This included being refused treatment, verbally harassed, or physically or sexually assaulted, or having to teach the provider about transgender people in order to get appropriate care.

Where I volunteer two days a week they have a database of friendly LGBT providers, and I get a lot of inquiries about trans friendly healthcare providers. But for me I never had any problems with doctors or other healthcare providers. I have to train one doctor which I didn’t mind doing but he should have learned that in medical school.

  • 22% of respondents experienced a problem in the past year with their insurance related to being transgender, such as being denied coverage for care related to gender transition or being denied coverage for routine care because they were transgender.

That is a major problem and it varies from insurance company to insurance company. One company set up a concierge service for us where they assign a case manager for us if we run into any problems. While other make you jump through hoops and still sticks to the old Standard of Care.

It also seems that it varies from whoever answers your call, two operates can give you two different answers. I know that it can vary on your documentation, some proceeds are covered with no questions asked if your insurance has you listed as female if you are a trans woman while denying it if you are listed as a male on the policy. It depends also on how the doctor codes your treatment, improper code can cause complications and raises questions.

  • 56% of respondents said they would feel uncomfortable asking the police for help if they needed it.

I had to interact with police officers three times. The first was before I transitioned and I presenting as female, the Maine state police officer looked at my documents, looked at me and asked “how would you like to be addressed.” He called my Diana and miss when we talked but all the paperwork had my legal name at the time. Then one time my car was hit by a “hit and run” drive. In the last time I called 911 I thought that a friend was in trouble.

In each of the cases before I dialed 911 I worried how I would be treated.

Lastly they have about changing your legal documents, now this one is a little confusing for me.

  • The cost of changing IDs was one of the main barriers respondents faced, with 41% of those who have not changed their legal name and 37% of those who have not updated the gender on their IDs reporting that it was because they could not afford it.

Since I wasn’t charged for changing my name and gender on my driver license and the Probate Court fee for your name change can be waivered. Neither Social Security nor Medicare had any fees associated with changing your name.

Other findings under document changes were,

  • Only 11% of respondents reported that all of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred, while 71% reported that none of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred.
  • 27% of respondents who have shown an ID with a name or gender that did not match their gender presentation were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted.

Once was asked for my ID when I went into a bar and the bouncer said that they check all IDs but I didn’t observe him asking for anyone else’s IDs and I’m in my late 60s so the only reason I could think of was that he was curious to see what was on it.

Some general thoughts on the breakout data.

First, the study was also quantitative using the Likert scale in some questions while in other questions it was just a simple yes or no. This was an online survey so the answers that were given are based on the respondent interpretation of the questions, so when the question asks yes or no to “Have you ever been harassed in a public accommodation?” the range could be from just being starred at to being yelled at or even thrown out of the building. Therefore, the answers that were given are based on the respondent interpretation of the questions.

Also this was an online survey so then the demographics might be skewed toward white middle-income people and to those who had access to a computer or smartphone.

Day 2 At The “Fair”

As usual I woke in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep so I took a sleeping pill at 3 AM and I woke up again at 8. It was cold overnight so in the morning I did some work on workshop and then went out to lunch and on the way down to the Post Office restaurant I met Dallas Denny and we walked down together to the restaurant.

After lunch I walked around town and I looked at the damage done by the fire at Lopes Square that they had here in the spring. They had it pretty much cleaned up, the building where the fire started is all torn down and the restaurant next to the one where the fire started is all gutted on the inside as they rebuild.

I then when to the keynote address to hear Gwen Smith talk about trans history which I always find interesting. After her talk I bought her book, “Trans/Active: A Biography of Gwendoyn Ann Smith” and then when back to the motel to work more on my workshop.

In the evening I went to go to supper at Bayside Betsy’s and have a bowl of their clam chowder but they were closed! I ended up eating at the Mayflower and their clam chowder on a scale of one to ten was a… maybe a 3.5 compared to an 11 at Bayside Betsy’s. The Mayflower’s clam chowder tasted and looked like it had a lot of corn starch in it and the pieces of clam had the texture of rubber.

As many of you know I am not a night person so I headed back to my room at the motel and did some reading. All around me I could hear sounds of partying from the younger or the younger at heart crowd.

It looks like that many of the regulars didn’t make it this year but FanFair usually picks-ups at the end of the week as many come for the long weekend and not the whole.

Well it is now 6 AM and I’ve been up since 3:30 so I am going to try to catch some more Zs before breakfast here at the motel.

Dismal Results

The Connecticut breakout from the 2015 Transgender Survey has just been published and the results are not good especially since we have laws that are supposed to prevent it.

Some of the finds that I find disturbing are;

  • In the past year, 23% of those who held or applied for a job during that year reported being fired, being denied a promotion, or not being hired for a job they applied for because of their gender identity or expression.
  • 20% of those who had a job in the past year reported other forms of mistreatment based on their gender identity or expression during that year, such as being forced to use a restroom that did not match their gender identity, being told to present in the wrong gender in order to keep their job, or having a boss or coworker share private information about their transgender status with others without their permission.

The survey was done four years after the passage of the non-discrimination law, businesses should have known by then about the law but it seems that many businesses are choosing to ignore the law.

Then in education…

  • 77% of those who were out or perceived as transgender at some point between Kindergarten and Grade 12 (K–12) experienced some form of mistreatment, such as being verbally harassed, prohibited from dressing according to their gender identity, disciplined more harshly, or physically or sexually assaulted because people thought they were transgender.
  • 22% of respondents who were out or perceived as transgender in college or vocational school were verbally, physically, or sexually harassed because of being transgender.

The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity (CHRO) issued their guidelines in the fall of 2012 and also Connecticut has some of the strongest anti-bullying laws in the nation and they include cyberbullying laws. I know that many towns have been following the law but there still are holdout towns who go with their lose interpretation of the law. Just this summer the Connecticut Department of Education has released their own guidelines that will hopefully wake-up those towns that are not following the law.

In housing,

  • 17% of respondents experienced some form of housing discrimination in the past year, such as being evicted from their home or denied a home or apartment because of being transgender.

I get about 3 or 4 calls a month about housing from trans people, many of them are looking for trans friendly housing and unfortunately I don’t know anyone who has a list like that. 211 operators and homeless shelters have been trained but like any training it is only as good as the person who answers the phone.

Then there is public accommodation and they are just as bad.

  • Respondents reported being denied equal treatment or service, verbally harassed, or physically attacked at many places of public accommodation—places that provide services to the public, like retail stores, hotels, and government offices.
  • Of respondents who visited a place of public accommodation where staff or employees thought or knew they were transgender, 29% experienced at least one type of mistreatment in the past year. This included 12% who were denied equal treatment or service and 20% who were verbally harassed because of being transgender.

Even in LGBT Provincetown we are subject to harassment. I was walking down the street Sunday afternoon four guys started to laugh, swishing their ass and holding their wrist limp as they walked by laughing. Then later a guy walked by a women and a trans woman holding and he stared almost walking in to a parked.

Tomorrow I’ll write about the rest of the survey summary for Connecticut.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Do you trust him?

Do you trust him to prosecute your case?

If you have been following the news you will have heard about a hate crime that the feds are prosecuting in Iowa where a man murdered a transgender high school student last year.
Aiding Transgender Case, Sessions Defies His Image on Civil Rights
New York Times
By Matt Apuzzo
October 15, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has dispatched an experienced federal hate crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecute a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student last year, a highly unusual move that officials said was personally initiated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In taking the step, Mr. Sessions, a staunch conservative, is sending a signal that he has made a priority of fighting violence against transgender people individually, even as he has rolled back legal protections for them collectively.

The Justice Department rarely assigns its lawyers to serve as local prosecutors, and only in cases in which they can provide expertise in areas that the federal government views as significant. By doing so in this instance, Mr. Sessions put the weight of the government behind a small-city murder case with overtones of gender identity and sexuality.
So this is unusual in two ways, the first in that the Department of Justice is prosecuting the case and the second thing is that they are doing at all because of all the rhetoric that the U.S. Attorney General has made about us not being covered under Title VII and Title IX.
The difference might be because of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate crime law that specifically spells out protection for us.
 “This is just one example of the attorney general’s commitment to enforcing the laws enacted by Congress and to protecting the civil rights of all individuals,” said Devin O’Malley, a spokesman for the Justice Department.
But he has also brought several hate crime cases, including one against a man accused of burning a mosque. He condemned white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., far more forcefully than the president. And he has vowed tough action against hate crimes, speaking aggressively in ways that few of his most ardent opponents could have predicted. He has tied enforcement of those crimes to his tough stance against violence, a cornerstone of his policies as attorney general.
But still for me I would be a little leery and wonder how much effort the federal government will put into the case.

And I’m not the only one to think that, in an article in Pink News,
Trump’s Attorney General ‘cynically exploiting’ murder of trans teenBy Nick Duffy
16th October 2017

Trump’s Attorney General has been accused of cynically exploiting a transphobic murder for good PR.

16-year-old Kedarie Johnson was shot to death last year in Iowa.

Jorge “Lumni” Sanders-Galvez was charged with first-degree murder over the shooting, but the state’s hate crime laws do not protect LGBT people, meaning the case could not be treated as a hate crime.

However, Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions has intervened in the case – putting out a release declaring that he would pursue hate crime charges federally.
Pro-LGBT law firm Lambda Legal accused Sessions of a “cynical publicity stunt” by seeking positive coverage for simply following the precedent set by the Obama administration, at the same time he works to undermine civil rights protections for transgender workers.

Lambda Legal Director of Strategy Sharon McGowan said: “Of course it is important and right that the Department of Justice assist in bringing to justice the murderer of Kedarie/Kandicee Johnson, one of the far too many transgender people, and especially transgender people of color, targeted in the ongoing lethal epidemic of hate violence.

“But it is the height of cynicism for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to use this – frankly rare – instance of civil rights enforcement under his tenure to deflect from the current department’s sustained opposition to its historic mission.
Maybe the Attorney General Jeff Sessions sees hate crime differently than discrimination; hopefully that is the case.

FanFair Day 1

The day started off with an Orientation Brunch and I left right after I eat and before the orientation, it is the same talk that they give every year so I wasn’t interested in sticking around for it. Instead I went grocery shopping and bought some stuff to have in my room for the week.

I wanted to attend the keynote address by Nick Adams who is Director of Transgender Media & Representation at GLAAD but life got in the way, I got some type of stomach bug and I didn’t want to get too far away from my room.

In the evening I went to the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award Banquet where they honored where they will honor Gwen Smith and Martine Rothblatt. Dallas Denny gave the introduction and the award to Gwen Smith and she gave a short speech.

In her introduction Ms. Dallas talked about Ms. Smith’s history as an activists and of her many accomplishments,
Gwendolyn Ann Smith has been an advocate for the transgender community for most of her adult life, with a focus on the trans community on the internet, as well as in honoring those we have lost due to anti-transgender violence. Starting in 1992, she lobbied America Online, getting the company to change its policies and allow discussions on gender issues on their service. This led to the creation of the first public forum on a major online service, the Transgender Community Forum, one year later. This service allowed thousands of transgender people worldwide to connect on a daily basis. With the rise of the World Wide Web, Gwen began to provide web management for many within the community, creating sites for the Southern Comfort Conference, for transgender photographer Loren Cameron and many others, pioneering the early transgender web. She is still involved on transgender internet projects, serving as the managing editor for Genderfork. Her best known work on the Internet, however, is Remembering Our Dead, a project founded in 1998 to chronicle the scourge of anti-transgender murders. Through this project, Gwen founded the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The event, now 18 years old, is honored in hundreds of locations across the country and worldwide. Gwen also writes a column on transgender issues and ideas for the Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco, California. Her column, Transmissions, has been running biweekly since 2000. Her essay, “We’re all someone’s freak” is also featured in the book Gender Outlaws, edited by S. Bear Bergman and Kate Bornstein.
According to Wikipedia Martine Rothblatt,
Martine Aliana Rothblatt (born 1954) is an American lawyer, author, and entrepreneur. Rothblatt graduated from University of California, Los Angeles with a combined law and MBA degree in 1981, then began work in Washington, D.C., first in the field of communications satellite law, and eventually in life sciences projects like the Human Genome Project. She is the founder and Chairwoman of the Board of United Therapeutics. She was also the CEO of GeoStar and the creator of SiriusXM Satellite Radio
They also had an auction to raise money for their scholarship program and raised over $900 for it.

Today Ms. Smith is giving the keynote talk.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Here’s Gratitude For You

But what do you expect from a religious conservative.
Politician whose life was saved by lesbian police officer to speak at national anti-LGBT convention
Pink News
By Josh Jackman 
5th October 2017

Four months ago, Republican congressman Steve Scalise had his life saved by a heroic lesbian police officer.

Now, the House Majority Whip is set to speak on stage at a virulently homophobic hate group which has questioned if gay people should be executed.

When a shooter opened fire on Republicans who were practising for a charity baseball game in Washington DC, Crystal Griner ran towards the bullets, saving lives in the process.
Griner carried out her duty to protect Scalise, even though he previously co-sponsored a failed Constitutional Amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage in the United States.
It seems that officer doesn’t care who you are or what you believe, she treats everyone the same. She could have claimed that it was against her religious beliefs to protect someone who’s biased against LGBT people but she didn’t. She saw them as human beings who need protect and she did her job.

The Lockport Union-Sun and Journal wrote about how Rep. Scalise made a speech at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit conference.
Then there's Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, coming up a bit short in the love-thy-neighbor category. After his shooting at a congressional baseball practice stunned the nation, he graciously praised Capitol Police special agent Crystal Griner — a lesbian who is married to a woman — and the other officer who saved his life as "heroes" and "part of our family." But on Friday, Scalise was scheduled to speak at the Family Research Council, which proudly proclaims that "homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed."
The Family Research Council has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of their maligning and vilifying us.

It Is Not Only In The U.S.

But it is happening in other countries around the world, this time in England where a printer refused to print business cards for a trans woman.
Christian printer refuses to produce business cards for transgender diversity consultant because they might 'marginalise' fellow believers
  • Christian printer Nigel Williams refused to produce pro-LGBTQ+ business cards
  • In a letter Mr Williams said he didn't want to encourage Christian discrimination 
  • Transgender rights activist Mrs Joanne Lockwood was left reeling after refusal 
  • The clash is reminiscent of the Ashers Bakery saga in Northern Ireland in 2014
Daily Mail
By Rod Ardehali
15 October 2017

A devout Christian printer refused to produce business cards for a transgender diversity consultant because he didn't want to promote a cause potentially harmful to fellow believers.

Nigel Williams turned down the chance to work for Joanne Lockwood's consultancy, SEE Change Happen, which promotes diversity, equality and inclusion.

Following Mrs Lockwood's approach to use his business, Mr Williams sent the diversity coach a letter explaining why he was refusing the business deal.
And of course a Christian legal organization to help the printer.
Mr Williams has been offered support by the Christian Institute - a pressure group which previously backed a family bakery in Northern Ireland accused of discriminating against a gay customer.
I do not believe that England has any “Religious Freedom” laws to complicate the case like we have here in the U.S.

I made it up here to P’town yesterday with no problems, I pulled over at a rest area to have a sandwich and take a cat nap for about twenty minutes. It is a four hour drive from home up to Provincetown, only an hour more than driving up to where we had a cottage in New Hampshire, but that extra weighs heavily on me.

At night there was welcoming reception at Tin Pan Alley which was well attended for an opening night at the Fair. They also had an event at the Pilgrim Monument but I didn’t go to earlier in the evening.

Today I’m at the opening brunch and this evening is the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award Banquet where they will honor Gwen Smith and Martine Rothblatt.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Well It Finally Happening!

Now we will have to see the results from it.

Did it make any difference; will there now be trans actresses and actors in television shows, in movies, and in theater? Will we be playing trans roles or cisgender roles or I hope for, both. Or will it just be a crumb thrown out to the masses.
Casting Society Of America Announces First-Ever Open Call For Transgender Actors
"Trans people have worked hard to hone their craft, but rarely get the chance to be seen."
By Samantha Manzella
October 13, 2017

Trans visibility in Hollywood just got a big boost: The Casting Society of America has launched an open casting call for transgender actors.

On October 22, casting directors in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, London, and other major cities will open their studios to audition union and nonunion actors.

“Trans people have worked hard to hone their craft, but rarely get the chance to be seen since so few are represented,” Ann Thomas, founder of Transgender Talent, a listing service for trans and gender-nonbinary artists and actors, told the L.A. Times.

“The reasoning that a non-diverse ’star’ gets to play a diverse role is because there weren’t enough talented, diverse options is an industry myth,” says Casting Society Vice President Russell Boast. “We’re going to do something about that.”
I hope that this will make a change. There are so many talented trans actresses and actors there that deserve a chance.

Packing For FF

While I’m packing for Fantasia Fair this week some random thoughts…

This will be something like my tenth fair, now it is more like a class reunion than a conference. I don’t go now for the workshops but more to see people that I have known since the first time that I went up to P’town. I go for the noon time keynote talks. I go for the photographs; the cape is very photogenic just about everywhere you go there is a picture to be taken.

This year I am giving a workshop on “Effective Lobbying” and one of the thing I want to talk about is the inside/outside strategy. Both the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Saul Alinsky knew the value of the inside/outside strategies.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said,
”The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.”
In an article in the Huffington Post Peter Dreier wrote,
The insiders, elected officials and lobbyists, see their job as pushing through changes in law that can alter the living conditions, incomes, and access to opportunity and environment of our citizens. Legislating involves the “art of compromise” that requires the skills of brokering deals, negotiating, and forging consensus.

Outsiders — community activists, street protestors and radicals — need different skills. They often view compromise as “selling out” by politicians tied to corporate and elite interests. Activists believe that the influence of campaign contributions, and the trade-offs required by legislative give-and-take, make most elected officials undependable allies.
Both the inside and outside are equal parts in the strategies to bring about change, they are Yen and Yan and my workshop at FF will be on the inside game, lobbying your legislators.

What is going to be different this year is that I have an appointment with a real estate broker to see about buying a three season cottage with my half from the sale of our New Hampshire cottage.

Before I transitioned I hated going shopping for clothes, after I transitioned I hate going shopping for clothes. At least now I like the clothes that I’m buying.

Fall is banquet season and I have several banquets that I will be attending along with my fiftieth high school reunion which I am nervous about, it will be the first time as Diana.

Speaking of banquets, I will once again be going to One Big Event and it is big! It is pricey, but it is for a good cause and the price isn’t that far out of line with other banquets and the food is very good considering it is a small intimate dinner for 600.

The event is for the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective where I volunteer two days a week as their “Trans Advocate.” With the drying up of Ryan White funding
In his FY 2018 budget, President Trump proposed deep reductions in several key HIV programs including eliminating funding for Ryan White AIDS Education and Training Centers, Ryan White Special Projects of National Significance, and the HHS Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund. President Trump also proposed cutting nearly $150 million from HIV prevention programs supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and $26 million from Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA). He also proposed a $22 million cut in funding for STD prevention programs at the CDC.
So the Health Collective needs to look for other funding to stay open and one of those sources were through Husky insurance (CT version of Medicaid) but now that is also in question with the latest Trump edict.

I plan on daily reports from Fan Fair and I hope to have a lot of photos to show you and maybe some to enter in the local fair next year.

Well I’m off…

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday 9: Chattanooga Choo-Choo

Saturday 9: Chattanooga Choo-Choo (1941)

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

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

1)  Chattanooga is Tennessee's fourth largest city. Have you ever visited Tennessee? If so, where did you go and what did you see?
It was way back when I was knee high to a grasshopper; every summer we used to go on a trip around the eastern U.S. and one year it was the Smokies and the Blue Ridge mountains. When we were in Tennessee we visited Lookout Mountain and road on the Tweetsie Railroad.

Since Glenn Miller's recording of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" was awarded the first-ever gold record, we're going to devote the next questions to your firsts.

2) What was the first award or accolade you ever won?
Wow, do you know how hard it is to answer questions like that when you are in your late 60s?
Well if my memory severs me, it was sometime in high school when we won the science class project with launching a poor mouse in a model rocket. The mouse was dazed and we were beaming.

3) We know about your blog. But which was the first social media site that you posted to? (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, MySpace ...)
Geocities. And to prove nothing ever goes away on the web, here is a link to it. As you can see my blogging goes back to1999.

4) Where did you go on your first plane ride?
Whoa… that’s ancient history. I think it was a flight to Orando (and no it wasn’t to Disney World, that was only a dream in Walt’s mind) where we visited Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. The were getting ready to launch the first Saturn V rocket.

5) Tell us about your first cell phone.
It was a big clunky phone of a 2002 vintage.
But more interesting is the story behind it. I went to Provincetown MA for a trans conference and I wasn’t out yet, so I didn’t want to tell my parents where I was going for a week (BTW, I leave tomorrow for the same conference). Because, one P’town has a strong GAY connotation  and two I wasn’t out to them so I couldn’t say they I was going to a trans conference. As a result I was worried about the area code for the phone number of the B&B, so a friend who was gave me her cellphone number. I told my parents that the rates for using the motel phone was too high so call her instead. Within a few days of coming home I had my first cell phone.

6) Tell us about your first tattoo: Where is it on your body? Where did you have it done? What does it depict?
I don’t have a tat.

7) How old were you when you had your first piercing?
June 29, 2007 at 1:00 PM
How’s that for an answer?
I know the time because I was laid off from work at 11:00 AM and that was when I transitioned.

8) What had you been drinking the first time you suffered a hangover?
Probably a rum and coke.

9) Was your first ticket for parking or was it a moving violation?
Ah… I remember that!
I was driving down the New York Thruway at 5 in the morning and the sun was just coming up behind, it was a beautiful morning. I going back to college in Rochester and I was the only car on the road. It was just past Syracuse where the turnpike is flat and level with corn fields on both sides of the road, and one lonely tree alongside the road. There was this guy in the middle of the road doing jumping jacks????
As I got closer I saw a wide brim hat and the state police car parked behind the tree.
I got an 18 dollar ticket for doing 85 in a 65 MPH zone.

I have been having problems posting comments, I get an error page from Google

Friday, October 13, 2017

What Is Good For The Goose Is Good For The Gander

There is the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission where the commission found that the Masterpiece Cakeshop violated the state’s non-discrimination when they refused to make a cake for a gay couple and now the case is before the Supreme Court.

Well now a gay man told Christians to get out of his store and the Christians are crying foul.
Pro-life Group Forced to Leave Seattle Coffeeshop by Gay Owner
By Veronica Neffinger
October 10, 2017

A pro-life Christian group was told they had to leave a Seattle coffeeshop by the business’s gay owner.

The Washington Times reports that members of the pro-life group Abolish Human Abortion came into Seattle’s Bedlam Coffee to order drinks following their time distributing pro-life pamphlets around the community.

Once Bedlam’s owner found out that a pro-life Christian group had entered his business, he told them to leave.
Many who watched the video called out the hypocrisy in our society today between those who approve of this gay coffeeshop owner having the right to kick this pro-life group out of his business and many of the same people who accuse Christian business owners such as bakery owner Jack Phillips of discriminating against gay people when he refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.
Okay, these cases do sound similar but there are differences.

First I would say that there is hypocrisy between the two cases if they are equal (which they may not be) and second I don’t even know if a complaint has been files with the state’s human rights commission and if there was a complaint the commission hasn’t ruled on it yet if a complaint was filed, who knows the commission might find that there was discrimination.

What is difference?

In the Colorado case the store owners were asked to bake a cake which is their business and in the Seattle case they were disturbing pamphlets, which is a big difference!

One, we do not know what the store policy for disturbing pamphlets; do they have a policy that nothing will be handed out in the store? Did they ask the store owners if it is okay to hand them out? How graphic was the pamphlets?

Apple and oranges.

Waking Up And Smelling The Coffee

We have all heard about or know someone who is LGBT that supported Trump many of them are starting to wake up to the fact that they bought his lies hook, line, and sinker.
Trump Will Be First President to Address Anti-LGBT Values Voter Summit
Trump, who addressed the gathering as a candidate the past two years, joins far-right luminaries such as Roy Moore, Phil Robertson, and Michele Bachmann.
The Advocate
By Trudy Ring
October 12, 2017

Donald Trump will join a who’s who of the religious right Friday at the Values Voter Summit, as he becomes the first sitting president to address the event, sponsored by the anti-LGBT Family Research Council.

Trump is scheduled to speak during Friday’s opening plenary session, which runs from 8:45 a.m. to noon. “Values voters are coming to our nation’s capital thankful to hear from a president who is fulfilling the promises that he campaigned on,” FRC president Tony Perkins said in a press release this week. “Since the early days of the campaign, President Trump allied himself with values voters, promising to put an end to the eight years of relentless assault on the First Amendment.”

Perkins praised the Trump administration’s issuance last week of a “religious freedom” order, which is actually a broad license to discriminate in both the public and private sectors without repercussion. For instance, a company with a federal government contract could cite religious objections in refusing to hire LGBT people or members of different faiths without the contract being revoked. Federal employees could refuse to process paperwork for same-sex spouses’ Social Security or veterans’ benefits without facing discipline.
The Family Research Council called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC  defines a “hate groups” as
The Southern Poverty Law Center defines a hate group as an organization that – based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities – has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

The organizations on our hate group list vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity – prejudices that strike at the heart of our democratic values and fracture society along its most fragile fault lines.

The FBI uses similar criteria in its definition of a hate crime:
[A] criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.
We define a “group” as an entity that has a process through which followers identify themselves as being part of the group. This may involve donating, paying membership dues or participating in activities such as meetings and rallies. Individual chapters of a larger organization are each counted separately, because the number indicates reach and organizing activity.
Note that it is not just because they are against LGBT issues but they “vilify others".

Some LGBT are starting to see the light.
Caitlyn Jenner calls Trump administration the “worst ever” for LGBT+ rights
By Daniel Megarry
12th October 2017

“I was hoping for a lot better…”

Caitlyn Jenner has once again backtracked on her support for the President of the United States.

The trans reality star and staunch Republican faced heavy criticism from the LGBT+ community after voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, despite warnings that he would halt or even reverse advances in equality.

Back in June last year, she declared that Trump was “very much behind” LGBT+ rights in America, despite him already stating he would “strongly consider” appointing justices to overrule same-sex marriage.

Unsurprisingly, Trump has so far been abysmal on LGBT+ rights, having rescinded trans student’s bathroom protections, given freedom to discriminate against LGBT+ people, and announced a ban on trans individuals serving in the military.
So does she feel bad for voting for Trump? Well…
But despite saying she doesn’t regret voting for Trump, and later making the questionable decision to wear a Make America Great Again hat, Caitlyn has this week slammed the US president in a KABC interview.

“I was hoping for a lot better than this,” she explained. “And I was somewhat optimistic and I thought this guy is going to be OK. He has totally, totally disappointed me.”
A gay man who voted for Trump also has a hard time admitting he made a mistake,
Well, at Least One Gay Republican Who Supported Trump Finally Understands His Administration Is Anti-LGBT. Maybe.
'This Administration Will Go Down as the Most Anti-LGBT in History'
The New Civil Rights Movement
By David Badash
October 12, 2017

Remember GOProud, the off-the-wall LGBT Tea Party Republican group that lasted a few years until the antics of its co-founders burned it out? The two co-founders, Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia, spent years attacking "the gay left." One went on to support and actively work to not only mainstream Donald Trump, but get him elected.

This, by the way, was Barron in 2011:
The gay left = the American Taliban. Hateful, angry and dumb as shit.
Barron, who claims he "helped create Donald Trump the politician," threw his support behind the Manhattan real estate mogul who has a long and ugly history of racism. And he created LGBTers for Trump.
And now?

“I think, personally, the president has met my expectations,” Barron tells The Daily Beast in an article published Thursday.
“My concern has always been what happens at the department and agency levels. And I definitely have concerns with what is going on at Department of Justice. The attorney general [Jeff Sessions] has a very different position on LGBT issues than the president does. But his job is to carry forward the president’s agenda and not push his own… I’m certainly concerned he is [pushing his own].”
Let's pause for just a moment and remember that tomorrow, Friday, Trump will become the first sitting President to address the Values Voter Summit, a far right wing annual political conference hosted by an anti-gay hate group, the Family Research Council.
What will it take for these collaborators to admit they were wrong?

This administration has done everything in its power to criminalize us, they will not be happy until we are either forced back in the closet or behind bars.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Transgender Success Stories

There are so many success stories in our community and some have also made it financially, one such person is Martine Rothblatt who transitioned and is a billionaire. You might never have heard of her but if I say Sirius XM radio?

Well she founded Sirius XM radio.

There is another wealthy trans woman who has transitioned…
Transformed: The Credit Suisse director known as Pippa and Philip
An investment bank director and champion of non-binary gender identities talks to Financial News about coming out at a large institution
Financial News
By Pips Bunce and Becky Pritchard
October 2, 2017

Coming out in the office

I decided to come out at work about three and a half years ago and for me, this was a big deal.

I’d reached a point in my life where I thought, It’s really silly me hiding this, why am I putting on this facade and keeping all this hidden at work? I knew that I had a supportive firm and an amazing manager, and I had the feeling that it wasn’t going to be an issue.

Back then, close personal friends at work knew. I introduced it on social events, going to fancy dress parties or sometimes I’d do things after work, and tell people 'Oh, Phil is coming along as Pippa.' Then when I felt more comfortable, I chose to ramp it up by bringing this into the everyday corporate world. It was a little scary.

I guess my biggest concern was how I would be accepted and what people would think of me, especially for those that did not understand the different trans identities.

I spoke to our diversity and inclusion group to give them a heads up. They had never come across someone that was gender fluid. They were very supportive, but it was a journey. They needed to get up to speed to understand that trans is an umbrella term and is not just about those that wish to transition.
So, I think the thing is to be confident and try and get support internally or externally. Reach out to some of the ally networks, LGBT committees or external groups for support and advice on how to approach it, and what your options are. Don’t underestimate the positive impact coming out can have — it’s an amazing thing.
Good advice for anyone coming out at work.

It helps when you work for a company that is supportive, it removes one more hurdle that we face when we transition.

I remember my coming out at work. After I told the HR manager her first words were “They are having a 30% sale on dresses at Syms!” You couldn’t get any more supportive than that.

At Fantasia Fair this year they are honoring Martine Rothblatt with the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award along with Gwen Smith. Accepting the award for Martine will be her daughter.

I Don’t Trust Surveys

When I see an article about surveys my first thought is who is doing the survey, will it be a hatchet job or will it be a legitimate survey. Can you imagine a trans survey done by the Trump administration verses one by the Obama administration, It is all in the questions asked and the way the data is analyzed.
Swedish government orders study into mental health conditions of transgender people
The Local SE
12 October 2017

The Swedish government has ordered the Public Health Authority to carry out an in depth study into the living conditions and mental health of transgender people.

The decision comes after a report showed that mental illness is widespread among transgender people in Sweden and a large percentage of them have at some point considered taking their own lives.

The authorities will also allocate project grants to non-profit organizations working with mental health and to prevent suicide among transgender people, with a focus on the young.

"Young trans people are a group where suicidal tendencies have increased in an especially clear way -- we can't have that. We need to make targeted efforts," said Minister for Social Affairs Annika Strandhäll.
A report based on a comprehensive survey of transgender people shows that 60 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 19 have considered taking their lives at some point over the past year, while 40 percent have attempted suicide.
They can’t just study the suicidal tendencies but they also need to study the reasons why.

If you just have a question that asked have you ever thought about suicide it would make us sound like a bunch of neurotic nut cases, but if you ask if you have been harassed, bullied, discriminated against, if you have an accepting family, and other factors that might contribute to anxieties you will have to different findings.

In the first case the study would find that are prone to mental health problems because we are trans and the other case will find that our problems are the result of society pressures.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Calling His Bluff

When Trump said he consulted with military leaders before coming banning us from the military and now his bluff has been called. He now has to say who he talked to,
Dems ask for proof Trump consulted Pentagon on transgender ban
By Rebecca Kheel
October 10, 2017

More than 100 Democrats are demanding proof that President Trump consulted with the Pentagon before deciding that he would ban transgender people from the military.

In a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday, 115 Democrats request any communication between the Pentagon and the White House that led Trump to claim that he was “doing the military a great favor” by announcing on Twitter that transgender people would not be allowed “to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

“If senior military or Department of Defense personnel asked that the president ban transgender individuals from military service, we request access to any letters, e-mails, telephone transcripts, meeting logs and minutes, or other materials that document such requests,” the Democrats wrote in the letter. “If the department has records of any other discussions that might have justified the president’s claim, we request to see those materials, as well.”
Anyone want to places bets that he will either say it is executive privilege or there will be no one that he talked to.

I have a strong feeling that it was just another one of Trump lies.

From the reports that I have written about it appears that the only one he consulted was  Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.

Last night I went to a Nomoli Brennet concert at the Space Ballroom in Hamden and it was as usual excellent, she was on stage with folk singer Shula Weinstein who played besides the guitar the cello which was a beautiful combination of Brennet’s guitar and Weinstein’s cello.

Here is a video of Weinstein playing…

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are…

…Or not. Today is National Coming Out Day and I am not a big fan of it.

A person that I know says on National Coming Out Day she wants to pick up the phone and dial a random number and when they answer just say, “I’m a lesbian” and hang up.

You might expect that I am in favor of it, but I am not. Coming out involves great risks and you should assess the risk before you come out. Know if you have a support network just in case things go bad. Do your parents support LGBT issues or are they opposed to them. Assess the risk if you are coming out in school; know how much support the school administration will give you. These are some of the factors that you should consider before coming out.

Harvey Milk’s quote “Burst down those closet doors and stand up once and for all, and start to fight.” Is okay but think first; will coming out put me in danger?

Have a plan on coming out, just don’t blurt out “I’m trans!” Timing is everything; you don’t want to be sitting down at a family Thanksgiving dinner and just pop it out that you are transgender. When I came out I came out to my brother I had a plan and he was the first person that I came out to because I knew he would be the most supportive.

You don’t want to come out to the whole family at once because all it takes is for one person to have a negative reaction and that could sway the rest of the family. You want to build family allies before you come out to your whole family so that they can speak on your behalf.

When you come out at work you want to tell HR first so that they can prepare to tell the whole company. You don’t want to just send out an email to the whole company that says, “Hey everyone, guess what? I’m trans!”

So be safe, think before you act.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It’s the Cost

Or so they say one of the reasons why they are kicking us out of the military. But according to some estimates the cost of healthcare for trans people in the military and in the VA is less than Trump golfing trips.
Cost of military transgender care in the spotlight
Market Place
By Megan Pauly
October 10, 2017

The cost of transgender health care is in the spotlight, both for veterans, and for active duty transgender troops.  The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced shortly after President Donald Trump was elected that it was going to drop plans to cover those surgeries in part because of cost. Then, President Trump directed the Department of Defense to stop providing transition-related care for active duty service members in part citing “tremendous medical costs.”

When it comes to medical costs for transgender individuals, “what the research shows clearly is that the financial waste would come from firing perfectly competent transgender troops and training their replacements,” said Aaron Belkin, executive director of the Palm Center, a group researching military and gender issues.

The Department of Defense estimated the cost of training new recruits runs about $75,000 per service member.

In contrast, Belkin said the annual average cost of ongoing transgender care for hormones and gender therapy runs less than $700 per service member.
To put the cost of our healthcare in perspective, PBS reports
WASHINGTON — With President Donald Trump making his seventh presidential trip this weekend to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, government watchdogs and Democrats are once again seeing dollar signs: namely, $3 million.

That’s a widely used estimate of what each journey costs taxpayers. The figure comes from a government report on a trip President Barack Obama made to Palm Beach, Florida, but the report’s author tells The Associated Press that it’s a mistake to apply those findings to Trump’s travel.
And he has been playing golf just about every weekend, $3 million time fifty-two equals $156,000,000 a year, but he says that our healthcare cost too much.

The Market Place article goes on to say,
The future for transgender active duty service members also remains uncertain. Trump signed a memorandum directing the military to ban transgender recruits from serving in the military. Defense Secretary James Mattis has until February 2018 to decide if active duty transgender troops will be allowed to continue serving. Mattis has asked a panel of experts to review the issue.
Let’s face it, this is not about money, it is about bigotry. The Republican hatred of anything LGBT and their hate of anything connected with President Obama.

Our Rights Are On The Line Again

This time in Greece, they are debating if we should get out human rights to self determination and to control our bodies.
Greece to decide on transgender rights
Redefining transgender rights is a divisive topic in Greece.
October 10, 2017

A divisive debate is due to come to a head in Greece. Transgender people could soon be able to choose the sex the identify best with from the age of 15, if a bill proposed by the ruling Syriza Party is passed.

The prime minister was scathing in his criticism of the opposition.

“Staying in Europe does not mean only applying austerity measures. As the opposition, you choose Europe for its austerity, but on human rights you choose to be anachronistic, you choose to be very conservative. In both cases, you make the worst choice”, said Alexis Tsipras.
According to the article the bill will probably pass but at a cost of political capital to the prime ministry, for that I thank him that he was willing to stand up for us.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Another Victory In Times Of Hate

One school district just guaranteed that we will be treated according to our gender identity. Down in Maryland they are moving ahead implementing their non-discrimination laws.
Transgender students prevail with school policy in Maryland
The Washington Post
By Donna St. George
October 8, 2017

When James van Kuilenburg used the bathroom at his Maryland high school, he always worried. Would he be taunted by his classmates? Would he be shamed or beaten? Most of the time, he avoided the risk altogether.

“You don’t feel safe,” the teenager said, five years after coming out as transgender.

But van Kuilenburg and others in Frederick County hope this year marks a turning point across the Maryland system’s 67 schools as a new policy takes hold that is regarded as one of the most progressive in the state.

The policy spells out that bathrooms and locker rooms should be used according to gender identity and provides alternatives for students uncomfortable for any reason. It also covers privacy, preferred names, dress codes for major events and participation in sports teams.

“I see it as one of the most comprehensive transgender student policies in the country,” said Jabari Lyles, executive director of GLSEN Maryland, which advocates for LGBT students on issues of education.
They still have a ways to go to catch up to Connecticut.

Of course there is opposition…
But critics have spoken out, too. A suit was recently filed on behalf of a mother and her 15-year-old daughter, asserting the girl’s rights to bodily privacy and saying the teen fears for her safety and feels humiliated to undress in front of “the opposite sex.” The family’s attorney, Dan Cox, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Congress last year, declined to comment on the suit, which at points invokes totalitarian regimes and Nazi death camps.
Who wants to undress in font of others? I don’t think no one does and that is way schools are installing curtains or using shower stalls.

One big open locker room or shower room is a thing from the 50s. Even back in the early seventies when I went to college they had individual shower stalls.
“One of our problems with this policy is it appears to be concerned only with the rights and affirmations of transgender students,” said Cindy Rose, speaking for the Republican Women of Frederick County. “Will there be a policy protecting the band geek, the math nerd and the other children who have felt unwelcome and bullied for decades? Will they get a similar carve-out?”
What an a… well you know what I mean.

For one thing there is a law about bullying and two we don’t want and special rights we just want our rights just like everyone else.

Tearing The Country Apart

One party is trying to tear the country apart, over religion, nationality, sex, race, socioeconomic status, and LGBT human rights.
One party is trying to Balkanized over religion with some people above the law.
One party is trying to put one religion above all others.
One party is trying to create hate against citizens who were not born here.
One party is trying to force women back into the kitchen.
One party is trying to segregate those people who skin is not white.
One party is trying to demonize as leaches those who are sick, or old, or can’t find jobs.
One party is trying to criminalize a person for whom they love and for who they are.

One party is gerrymandering districts to guarantee the elections in their favor.
One party is using voter suppression by placing hurdles in their path to guarantee the elections in their favor.
One party is trying to stuff the courts to thwart opposition.

One party is trying to criminalize me.

We can argue big government/small government, taxes/no taxes, climate/no climate warming all day and I have no problem with it. However, when they want to take away the right of a woman to determine the right to control her body it have a problem with that. I have a problem when they say who can and cannot get married. I have a problem when they tell me I am a second class citizen that I can be denied housing, employment, or public accommodation just because of who I am.

One called itself the party of “Fascial Responsibility” but has become the party of “Social Conservatives” that uses divisiveness, hatred, and bigotry for its gain. I will not debate basic human rights.

If you don’t think race is an issue in this country then watch this video.


Sometimes our desire to transition is complicated by an existing medical problem or in medical terms it is called comorbidity.

There is an article about how to treat a trans person who has a neurologic condition in a medical journal.
In the Clinic – Transgender Medicine: When Transgender Medicine Meets Neurology What's Known, What's Not
Neurology Today - Volume 17 - Issue 19 - p 30–31
By Dawn Fallik
October 5, 2017

The field of transgender medicine is in its infancy, experts acknowledge, but a new review of existing literature spotlights specific concerns related to treating transgender patients with epilepsy.

There is a dearth of research on how to treat neurologic conditions in patients who are transgender, experts in a small of growing field of so-called transgender medicine acknowledged in interviews with Neurology Today. What is known, however, but not completely understood, is that certain therapies may interact with commonly used treatments for transitioning to an identified gender.

In particular, this could be the case for transgender patients with epilepsy, according to an analysis of the medical literature published in the August 3 online issue of Epilepsia.

“The goals of this analysis were to draw attention to the specific needs of transgender patients, to make neurologists aware of the specific common regimens for gender-affirming treatment, and to highlight the need for epidemiological and prospective studies to characterize the numbers of transgender patients with epilepsy,” study author Emily Johnson, MD, an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told Neurology Today. “Prospective observational studies in this population could provide a valuable opportunity to learn more about the effects of exogenous hormones on seizure control.”

She said that epilepsy treatments might affect groups differently depending on whether they are transitioning from female to male or male to female. Other studies have reported interactions of estrogen with antiepileptic drugs, she said, and potentially seizure control could worsen in male-to-female patients taking the hormone. In female-to-male patients, there may be improvement of catamenial epilepsy, where seizures are affected by the menstrual cycle. When menses stop, the effects of additional testosterone are not as well-characterized as those of estrogen/progesterone, where there is information from hormonal birth controls.

The higher rate of HIV among transgender patients should also be a concern, she said, because enzyme-inducing AEDs [antiepileptic drugs] could impact antiretrovirals. Dr. Johnson said that, although there are no data currently studying this specific impact, neurologists should be aware of these interactions, and preferentially prescribe non-inducing AEDs when possible. Good communication with the patient's other providers — particularly those managing the antiretrovirals and the gender-affirming treatment — will be key, she said.
A lot of times doctors refuse to treat us because of comorbid conditions and many times the conditions do not interfere with our transitions but the doctors use it as an excuse not to treat us. But most of the time it does not interfere with our transition so this article is a good step forward.

What needs to be done is the medical school start teaching trans medicine.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

I Remember When…

Colleges and universities banned ROTC on campuses because of the military ban gays and lesbians in the military, well now it is time to ban ROTC on campuses because of the ban on us from entering the military.
ROTC student takes on transgender military ban: 'I still want to fight for my country'
USA Today
By Susan Miller
October 5, 2017

A passion for patriotism has been a constant coursing through Dylan Kohere’s short life.

When he was in the sixth grade, dreams of a military career started to crystallize. In high school, he weighed enlisting after graduation.

The Mount Olive Township, N.J., native eventually decided the smartest path would be college and enrollment in the Army's Reserve Officers' Training Corps.

Military service is “the thing I wanted to do, hoped to do my entire life,” he said.

But now Kohere, 18, is on the front lines in a battle he never imagined — as a plaintiff in the first lawsuit challenging President Trump’s directive to reinstate a ban on transgender people serving in the military, a ban that could crush the college freshman’s aspirations.
“I worked for years to become physically able and ready enough to serve,” said Kohere in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY. “To be told I couldn’t simply because of how I identify was really frustrating.”
He is not alone,
And many take the ROTC route. “There are many more Dylans out there,” he said.
Colleges and universities will placed in the middle of the ban because,
A transgender ban would “create a huge, destructive mess” on campuses, Minter said, thrusting schools back into the don’t ask/don’t tell era.

A ban would also conflict with states that have laws prohibiting bias based on gender identity and could lead to the demise of ROTC programs that did not want to be forced to embrace discriminatory practices, Minter said.
It is time for the schools to step up to obey the law and not discriminate.

It is time for the schools to step up like they do back in the era of DADT and ban ROTC on campus.

It is time for the students to step up and demand that ROTC on campuses be shut down.


That is the sound of the U.S. Department of Justice getting it’s hand slapped.

They were told to butt out by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in a Title VII discrimination case where the plaintiff says he was discriminated against because he was gay.
Department of Wackadoodle
The DOJ’s new anti-gay legal posture just got shut down in federal court.
By Mark Joseph Stern
September 26, 2017

NEW YORK—The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit had a burning question for Donald Trump’s Department of Justice on Tuesday: What are you doing in our courthouse? By the end of the day, the answer still wasn’t clear. Something else was, though: The DOJ’s new anti-gay legal posture is not going to be received with open arms by the federal judiciary.

The Justice Department’s latest wound was fully self-inflicted, as Tuesday’s arguments in Zarda v. Altitude Express should not have involved the DOJ in the first place. The case revolves around a question of statutory interpretation: whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws anti-gay workplace discrimination. Title VII bars employment discrimination “because of sex,” which many federal courts have interpreted to encompass sexual orientation discrimination. The 2nd Circuit is not yet one of them, and Chief Judge Robert Katzmann signaled recently that he would like to change that. So on Tuesday, all of the judges convened to consider joining the chorus of courts that believe Title VII already prohibits anti-gay discrimination in the workplace.

It’s important to understand some background before getting further into how those arguments went. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission decided in 2015 that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination does protect gay employees. Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department took no position on this question. But in late July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ DOJ unexpectedly filed an amicus brief in Zarda arguing that Title VII does not protect gay people. The 2nd Circuit had not solicited its input, making the brief both puzzling and gratuitous. Its purpose only became apparent in September, when the DOJ filed a similarly uninvited brief asserting that bakers have a free speech right not to serve same-sex couples. Both anti-gay briefs were startlingly incoherent, seemingly the product of political pandering rather than legal reasoning.
Yup, the new memorandums by Attorney General Jeff Sessions are not based on law but rather religious prejudice and bigotry. You see Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointment was by Trump but the EEOC is a bipartisan Commission comprised of five presidentially appointed members but they are appointed for a fixed term and I believe that the Democrats are still in the majority.

The bases for the law suit are…
In 1989’s Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the Supreme Court ruled that sex stereotyping—punishing a worker for her failure to conform to gender norms—is a kind of sex discrimination. At first, courts only applied sex stereotyping to masculine women and feminine men. But as the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals explained in March, gay people are “the ultimate case of failure to conform” to sex stereotypes, since men and women are typically expected to date only individuals of the opposite sex.
So this is an important case for trans people because a victory in court now will reinforce our claim that Title VII covers us also.

So keep your fingers crossed that they win.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Two Blockbusters In Two Days

What do you call it when…
You are fired from your job,
You are denied housing,
You were refused serve in a restaurant,
You were refused medical care,
You were told that you can’t use the bathroom,
All because of the way you were born?
I call it discriminate, but the president and the Attorney General call it “religious freedom.”

The US Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued two legal opinions directed at us and the LGBT community in general. Between the two rulings they may nullify all the state’s non-discrimination laws!

On Friday I wrote about Attorney General’s legal opinion on why I think his interpolation was wrong; well on Friday he released a legal opinion “religious freedom” that I feel is also on shaky ground. But as it stands now it could spell disaster for the country, basically we will not be a nation of one law but instead we will be Balkanized with people obeying only the laws that they want to obey. All they have to say is… “It is against my religion.”

For those who care to read it, here is the legal opinion from the Attorney General

There is a lack of news coverage about Sessions decree because at the same time he issued the decree Trump cut back on birth control for women. Coincidence? I think not, I think it was deliberate to bury it in the news.
Civil liberties groups decry Sessions’s guidance on religious freedom
Washington Post
By Matt Zapotosky and Sarah Pulliam Bailey
October 6, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued sweeping guidance to executive branch agencies Friday on the Justice Department’s interpretation of how the government should respect religious freedom, triggering an immediate backlash from civil liberties groups who asserted the nation’s top law enforcement officer was trying to offer a license for discrimination.

In a memorandum titled “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty,” Sessions articulated 20 sweeping principles about religious freedom and what that means for the U.S. government — among them that freedom of religion extends to people and organizations; that religious employers are allowed to hire only those whose conduct is consistent with their beliefs; and that grants can’t require religious organizations to change their character.

Though the principles are lofty — and some of them in no way objectionable — they could have a broad negative impact, permitting religious groups to impinge on the rights of LGBT people and others, said civil liberties advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Federation and others. The announcement, though, was welcomed by groups like the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council.
The article goes on to say that this can have a much greater impact than just the LGBT community,
And civil liberties groups said there could be other effects. The principle allowing religious employers to hire only those whose conduct is consistent with their beliefs, for example, might allow a religious school to fire a teacher who had a child out of wedlock or a man who wed another man, said Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU.
And even through it is based somewhat on court rulings it extrapolates beyond the court rulings,
Rick Garnett, a law professor at University of Notre Dame, said in some respects, the guidance served to “summarize, restate, and endorse existing and established Supreme Court doctrine,” but in others, it took “strong religious-freedom stands on questions that are contested.”
The article ends with…
“Most of what it actually says is bland and general,” said Doug Laycock, a professor at University of Virginia Law School. “Whether it is significant depends on the follow-through and on how it is interpreted.”
And that can bring even more oppression for us.

Some of the article about his memorandum are;

Transgender Law Center wrote,
Today, the Department of Justice issued a broad memo instructing federal agencies to grant government contractors and grantees religious exemptions from federal non-discrimination law. Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi issued the following response:

“Just one day after announcing the government would refuse to uphold the law when it comes to protecting transgender workers, the Attorney General today issued alarming guidance promoting state-sanctioned, taxpayer-funded discrimination against women, transgender people, and many other members of our communities.

Make no mistake: today’s guidance is devastating for transgender people. This license-to-discriminate memo invites illegal discrimination on a chilling new scale and attempts to open the door for carving certain communities, including transgender people, out of basic protections guaranteed by law.
The Times Herald writes,
WASHINGTON >>> In an order that undercuts federal protections for LGBT people, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a sweeping directive to agencies Friday to do as much as possible to accommodate those who claim their religious freedoms are being violated.

The guidance, an attempt to deliver on President Donald Trump’s pledge to his evangelical supporters that he would protect religious liberties, effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove that their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held.

Under the new policy, a claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to override many anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, women and others. The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty are calling them a legal powder-keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government.
I searched the web for Supreme Court cases that were about religious freedom and I found…
Limits of Religious Freedom
Harvard Political Review
By Zak Lutz
May 27, 2013

Constitutional arguments over the First Amendment have always been legally treacherous and fraught with political strife. While the first half remains clear (“establishment of religion”), the latter half (“free exercise thereof”) has been the subject of much legal and political debate.
The Sherbert Test
While Reynolds and Smith can be used to argue that the free-exercise clause has a rather narrow application, a concurring opinion in Smith by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor applied the test of “compelling government interest.” She argued that the government can only infringe on religious liberty when a compelling interest exists to do so. This test, established by Justice William Brennan, has been used in defense of religious liberty. In Sherbert v. Verner (1963), Adell Sherbert sued her employer when he extended her hours to include Saturdays—a day on which Sherbert, a Seventh-day Adventist, was religiously obliged not to work. The court ruled that the employer had placed a “substantial burden” on her and that the government lacked a compelling interest to deny benefits.
Free Exercise TodayThe Sherbert Test and free-exercise clause play into arguments over two current exercise events: gay rights and contraceptive coverage. Though these two issues are different and apply separate constitutional arguments, each rests principally on the role of religious liberty within American society.

Sixteen states have approved laws allowing citizens to “ignore state regulations or laws that contradict his or her sincerely held religious beliefs,” and Kentucky seems likely to approve a similar bill soon. Though applied broadly, these laws are a thinly veiled attempt to allow employment, housing, and other forms of discrimination against homosexuals. In essence, the laws apply a version of the Sherbert Test to states—groups establish sincerely held beliefs and then demonstrate a burden originating from following the law. Because the Sherbert Test applies only at the federal level, it could be seen as either changing state law or as unconstitutional based on Smith’s precedent. Considering many religious objections to gay marriage, any verdict on the issue could have future implications for the debate over who is required to acknowledge marriage between homosexual couples.

This requires something of a tricky legal balance. Even many liberals do not think religious institutions should be forced to perform same-sex marriage, but Smith might not allow for that if same-sex marriage were granted on constitutional grounds. But, the free-exercise clause could allow for private groups to discriminate against homosexual couples (for example, by not catering certain weddings). While states that legalize same-sex marriage can easily outline precisely what discrimination is acceptable, courts are much less able to navigate a middle ground.
From the Bill of Rights website they list important Supreme Court cases on limits to religious freedom, most of the cases cited on the website boiled down to if the law was religiously neutral such as…
Reynolds v. United States (1879)A federal law banning polygamy was upheld. The Free Exercise Clause forbids government from regulating belief, but does allow government to regulate actions such as marriage.
The law didn’t target just one religion so it was deemed neutral.

Another important case was…
Christian Legal Society v. Martinez (2010)The court ruled that a student organization at a public university was not free to limit their members to those who shared their belief system if that resulted in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
This was important because the court ruled that the club could not discriminate on the bases of sexual orientation

In a New York Times article “What Are the Limits of ‘Religious Liberty’?” the author writes,
And yet we’ve arrived at an unfortunate impasse over the meaning of religious liberty. Unlike in earlier eras, when religious objections let the faithful separate themselves from institutions they felt they could not support, many conservatives now deploy the phrase as a way of excluding other people. Take the furious outcry that erupted in response to the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision to make same-sex marriage legal in every state. Conservative pushback began with the dissenting justices: Clarence Thomas warned of ‘‘potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.’’ Some Republican officeholders rushed to throw up whatever shield they could for people of faith. Two states have declared that county clerks may refrain from issuing marriage licenses if they don’t want to give them to gay couples as a matter of conscience. Bakers, photographers and florists — and adoption agencies and landlords — who cite their religion when refusing to serve gay couples won assurances like this one from Greg Abbott, governor of Texas: ‘‘No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage.’’
So what does this mean?

Well in my non-legal opinion in order for someone to discriminate against me, say not serving me in a restaurant, the courts should be applying the Sherbert Test on whether the law places an undue burden on the individual in following the law and if a law is religious neutral.

So it will all boil down to Justice Kennedy who will probably the swing vote.

Saturday 9: Turn Me Loose

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Turn Me Loose (1959)

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

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

1) In this song, Fabian sings he has change in his pocket. Every evening, Sam puts her change in the piggy bank on her kitchen counter. Do you do anything special with your coins? Or do they just jingle/jangle in your wallet or pocket until you spend them?
I just put them in a bottle and bring them to the bank when it is full

2) Fabian got his start because his neighbor in Philadelphia owned a record label and thought 14-year-old Fabian had the looks to be a teen idol. Tell us about a time recently when you were in the right place at the right time.
My last gig with AARP*, I was there on time and in the right place

3) His record label paid Fabian $30 week to study singing after school. What jobs/chores did you have when you were in high school? Did they prepare you for your eventual career?
My high school job was with the state, I went around taking inventory of state owned equipment in high schools around the state and what I learned was where every town is located in Connecticut. for example if you are looking for the town of Winchester you will only find a town green, a small church and a general store. To find the town hall and schools you will need to go to the city of Winsted.

4) In 1959 he appeared on the cover of now-defunct magazines like Teen Screen and Dig. Who and what did you read about when you were a teenager?
I didn’t read as a teenager. I thought all books were like Wuthering Heights, it wasn’t until I found out about SiFi that I started reading on my own. The first book that I read that wasn’t a reading assignment was Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein

5) In the 1960s he moved from singing to acting. In 1965 he appeared in Ten Little Indians, a screen adaptation of an Agatha Christie mystery. Have you ever read an Agatha Christie book?
Nope. But I read a great number of SiFi mysteries.

6) In 1973, in an attempt to jumpstart his career, he appeared nude in Playgirl magazine. By the time it hit the newsstands, he regretted it.  Tell us about a time you were very embarrassed.
Naw, I don’t want to be embarrassed again.

7) In 1959, when this song was popular, most women wore nylons on a daily basis and the average price per pair was $1. What socks or leg wear -- if any -- do you have on right now?
Just slippers

8) 1959 also saw the premiere of The Twilight Zone on CBS. 58 years later, you can still see the show in reruns. Are you a fan?
Yes, I was a fan back then and I don’t watch any of the reruns.

9) Random Question: While we're talking about TV ... Sam finds it disturbing that her brother claims he's seen every episode of Bad Blood, a show devoted to family members who have murdered their relatives. Do you enjoy "true crime" reality shows?
One, I don’t like “reality TV” and two I don’t like to watch many of the crime shows on TV. I tend to watch British crime dramas, they don’t show all the “blood and guts” it is more of a “Who Done It” type shows.

Friday, October 06, 2017

No It Is Not, It Is Bigotry

The other day it was reported that the U.S. Attorney General reversed the protections for us under Title VII, he stated that it was based on law… well Mr. Attorney General the former ruling was based on law and your ruling is based on hate and bigotry.
Jeff Sessions Just Reversed A Policy That Protects Transgender Workers From Discrimination
The Justice Department under Obama decreed that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned transgender discrimination in the workplace. But in a new memo, the attorney general rescinded the policy.
BuzzFeed News
By Dominic Holden
October 5, 2017

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a federal government policy that said transgender workers were protected from discrimination under a 1964 civil rights law, according to a memo dated Wednesday and sent to US attorneys around the country and heads of federal agencies.

Sessions’ memo, obtained by BuzzFeed News, says, “Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status.”

It adds that the government will take this position in pending and future matters, which could have far-reaching implications across the federal government and may result in the Justice Department fighting against transgender workers in court.

“Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes.

“This is a conclusion of law, not policy," his memo adds. "As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress.”
That was not what over a dozen federal courts including federal Appeals courts.

On the EEOC website (at least for now) they list the ruling that they decided justified Title VII coverage for us. Some of them are,
Examples of Court Decisions Supporting Coverage of LGBT-Related Discrimination Under Title VII

Supreme Court Decisions on the Scope of Title VII's Sex Discrimination ProvisionOncale v. Sundowner Offshore Servs., 523 U.S. 75 (1998). The Supreme Court held that same-sex harassment is sex discrimination under Title VII. Justice Scalia noted in the majority opinion that, while same-sex harassment was "assuredly not the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII . . .statutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil [they were passed to combat] to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed. Title VII prohibits 'discriminat[ion] . . . because of . . . sex.' [This] . . . must extend to [sex-based] discrimination of any kind that meets the statutory requirements." Id. at 79-80.

Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989). The Supreme Court recognized that employment discrimination based on sex stereotypes (e.g., assumptions and/or expectations about how persons of a certain sex should dress, behave, etc.) is unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII. Price Waterhouse had denied Ann Hopkins a promotion in part because other partners at the firm felt that she did not act as woman should act. She was told, among other things, that she needed to "walk more femininely, talk more femininely, [and] dress more femininely" in order to secure a partnership. Id. at 230-31, 235. The Court found that this constituted evidence of sex discrimination as "[i]n the . . . context of sex stereotyping, an employer who acts on the basis of a belief that a woman cannot be aggressive, or that she must not be, has acted on the basis of gender." Id. at 250. The Court further explained that Title VII's "because of sex" provision strikes at the "entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women resulting from sex stereotypes." Id. (quoting City of Los Angeles Dep't of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702, 707 n.13 (1978) (internal citation omitted)).
They also list lower court rulings and Some of the important cases were...
Schroer v. Billington, 577 F. Supp. 2d 293 (D.D.C. 2008). The plaintiff, a transgender female, was offered a position as a terrorism research analyst before she had changed her name and begun presenting herself as a woman. After the plaintiff notified the employer that she was under a doctor's care for gender dysphoria and would be undergoing gender transition, the employer withdrew the offer, explaining that the plaintiff would not be a "good fit." The court stated that since the employer refused to hire the plaintiff because she planned to change her anatomical sex by undergoing sex reassignment surgery, the employer's decision was literally discrimination "because of ... sex." The court analogized the plaintiff's claim to one in which an employee is fired because she converted from Christianity to Judaism, even though the employer does not discriminate against Christians or Jews generally but only "converts." Since such an action would be a clear case of discrimination "because of religion," Title VII's prohibition of discrimination "because of sex" must correspondingly encompass discrimination because of a change of sex. The court concluded that decisions rejecting claims by transgender individuals "represent an elevation of 'judge-supposed legislative intent over clear statutory text,'" which is "no longer a tenable approach to statutory construction."

Glenn v. Brumby, 663 F.3d 1312 (11th Cir. 2011). The plaintiff, a transgender female, brought a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging unlawful discrimination based on sex in violation of the Equal Protection Clause when she was terminated from her position with the Georgia General Assembly. Relying on Price Waterhouse and other Title VII precedent, the court concluded that the defendant discriminated against the plaintiff based on her sex by terminating her because she was transitioning from male to female. The court stated that a person is considered transgender "precisely because of the perception that his or her behavior transgresses gender stereotypes." As a result, there is "congruence" between discriminating against transgender individuals and discrimination on the basis of "gender-based behavioral norms." Because everyone is protected against discrimination based on sex stereotypes, such protections cannot be denied to transgender individuals. "The nature of the discrimination is the same; it may differ in degree but not in kind." The court further concluded that discrimination based on sex stereotypes is subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause, and government termination of a transgender person for his or her gender nonconformity is unconstitutional sex discrimination. Although in this case the defendant asserted that it fired the plaintiff because of potential lawsuits if she used the women's restroom, the record showed that the plaintiff's office had only single-use unisex restrooms, and therefore there was no evidence that the defendant was actually motivated by litigation concerns about restroom use. The defendant provided no other justification for its action, and therefore, the plaintiff was entitled to summary judgment.
I particularly like how the judge drew an analogy between changing gender and changing religion in the Schroer case, Law360 said,
In his analysis of Schroer's “discrimination because of sex” theory, Judge Robertson compared a transgender person to a religious convert, writing, “No court would take seriously the notion that 'converts' are not covered by the statute.”

“Discrimination 'because of religion' easily encompasses discrimination because of a change of religion,” the court wrote. “But in cases where the plaintiff has changed her sex, and faced discrimination because of the decision to stop presenting as a man and to start appearing as a woman ... courts have allowed their focus on the label 'transsexual' to blind them to the statutory language itself.
The EEOC list goes on and on…
Federal Court Decisions Supporting Coverage for Transgender Individuals as Sex Discrimination

Chavez v. Credit Nation Auto Sales, L.L.C
., 2016 WL 158820 (11th Cir. Jan. 14, 2016).  Reversing summary judgment for the employer on the plaintiff's claim that she was terminated from her job as an auto mechanic because she is transgender, the court remanded the case for trial because there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to create a triable issue of fact as to whether gender bias was a motivating factor.  The employer asserted that the plaintiff was fired for sleeping on the job and noted that other employees had been fired for the same offense.  However, less than two months before the plaintiff's termination, her supervisor had said that her transgender status made him "nervous" and would negatively impact the business and coworkers.  Moreover, the plaintiff had received an excellent performance appraisal prior to disclosing her gender transition, and the employer deviated from its progressive disciplinary policy in imposing termination in the plaintiff's case.

Barnes v. City of Cincinnati, 401 F.3d 729 (6th Cir. 2005). Plaintiff, who "was a male-to-female transsexual who was living as a male while on duty but often lived as a woman off duty [and] had a reputation throughout the police department as a homosexual, bisexual or cross-dresser," alleged he was demoted because of his failure to conform to sex stereotypes. The court held that this stated a claim of sex discrimination under Title VII.

Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff alleged that he was suspended based on sex after he began to express a more feminine appearance and notified his employer that he would eventually undergo a complete physical transformation from male to female. The court held that Title VII prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals based on gender stereotyping. The court determined that discrimination against an individual for gender-nonconforming behavior violates Title VII irrespective of the cause of the behavior. The court reasoned that the "narrow view" of the term "sex" in prior case law denying Title VII protection to transgender employees was "eviscerated" by Price Waterhouse, in which the Supreme Court held that Title VII protected a woman who failed to conform to social expectations about how women should look and behave.

Rosa v. Parks W. Bank & Trust Co., 214 F.3d 213 (1st Cir. 2000). Citing Title VII case law, the court concluded that a transgender plaintiff, who was biologically male, stated a claim of sex discrimination under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by alleging that he was denied a loan application because he was dressed in traditionally female attire.

Schwenck v. Hartford, 204 F.3d 1187, 1201-02 (9th Cir. 2000). Citing Title VII case law, the court concluded that a transgender woman stated a claim of sex discrimination under the Gender Motivated Violence Act based on the perception that she was a "man who 'failed to act like one.'" The court noted that "the initial approach" taken in earlier federal appellate Title VII cases rejecting claims by transgender plaintiffs "has been overruled by the language and logic of Price Waterhouse."

Baker v. Aetna Life Ins., et al., __ F. Supp. 3d __, 2017 WL 131658 (N.D. Tex. Jan. 13, 2017).  The court ruled that an employee stated a claim against her employer for sex discrimination in violation of Title VII based on denial of coverage under employer-provided health insurance plan for costs associated with surgery related to gender transition.

Mickens v. General Electric Co., No. 3:16CV-00603-JHM, 2016 WL 7015665 (W.D. Ky.  Nov. 29, 2016).  The court denied the employer's motion to dismiss a Title VII sex discrimination claim in which a transgender plaintiff alleged he was unlawfully denied use of the male bathroom close to his work station, and then was fired for attendance issues resulting from having to go to a bathroom farther away.  He also alleged that once his supervisor learned of his transgender status, he was singled out for reprimands, and no action was taken in response to his reports of coworker harassment.   Rejecting the employer's argument that discrimination based on transgender status is not actionable under Title VII, the court cited Sixth Circuit precedent recognizing that, in light of Price Waterhouse, the prohibition against gender discrimination in Title VII "can extend to certain situations where the plaintiff fails to conform to stereotypical gender norms."  The court held that the complaint sufficiently pled a Title VII sex discrimination claim, noting that "[s]ignificantly, plaintiff alleges that GE both permitted continued discrimination and harassment against him and subsequently fired him because he did not conform to the gender stereotype of what someone who was born female should look and act like."
So when you read that US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that “sex” doesn’t cover gender identity/expression and not on legal precedent he is coming from a place of bias, hate and bigotry that ignores many, many court cases that has found otherwise.