Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Story Part 81 – Happy Birthday!

I’m four years old today!

It was four years ago today that I transitioned!

So I want to write about all the good times, but there are so many good times to write about and to pick out just a couple is going to be hard. So which ones should I pick?

Let me start at the beginning. When I told my brother my brother I prepared for the worst and hopped for the best and he hugged me telling he would always love me. That was the first day that I came out from hiding and into the light.

Walking down Commerce Street in Provincetown on a rainy night as the bars were closing, laughing with my friends, and feeling the rain on my stocking. It was the first time that I had ever felt that.

The time my friends took me out to dinner for my birthday, believe it or not, bit it was the first time that anyone other than my family took me out for dinner. In my diary I wrote,
Had a great time last night! For my birthday I went out with Sylvia, Teresa, Ron, Maryann and Carol, and R and A to the Hideaway Roadhouse Restaurant. As usual the food was excellent and the wine flowed freely. Some of them gave me birthday presents, which I thought was very nice of them and it was the first time friends have done that. We all had a very good time, after dinner we went down to the bar and had a few drinks and it was the first time in a long time that I had a good time on my birthday. I didn't get home until one o'clock in the morning and the next morning, I did something that I rarely do, I called in sick to work. Five o'clock came very early and I just looked at the alarm clock and turned it off.
There are just so many good times… sitting out on the beach in Kennebunk, going to plays, going to the casinos and the list just goes on and on.

One of the best times was having a small part in the passage of the anti-discrimination legislation.

But the very best was walking across the stage in Storrs for graduation and to have my family there to see me. I was so proud.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Today’s Staycation

I went out to lunch in Stonington with some of my friends today. The weather was beautify, sunny in the mid-eighties, with a nice sea breeze to cool things off. We have lunch out on the deck overlooking the water, the restaurant is behind me in this photo…

Afterward, we walked around town; this is looking up Water St.

We then wandered down to one of the commercial docks…

Then we took a tour of the Stonington lighthouse; these photos are from a trip there in the fall. The lighthouse and the view of the town from the top of the lantern room.

Out To Lunch

I’m off with a couple of friends to lunch down in Stonington at Skipper’s Dock and then we are wandering around window shopping and doing the tourist thing. Afterward in the evening, I have a reception to go to for Connecticut Alliance for Business Opportunities (CABO) which is a LGBT chamber of commerce.

When I get home I’ll post pictures of the day’s event.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Freedom To Marry

New York passage of the marriage equality bill was all over the front page on newspapers and the lead story on the evening news across the country. How New York became the sixth and largest state to pass marriage equality. However, down in the Lone Star state they are passing a different marriage bill, one that will ban marriage all together. To deny any marriage at all.
Con: Bills would discriminate against transgendered
Victoria Advocate
Gheni Platenburg
Originally published June 26, 2011

Brendan Gonzalez is single and ready to mingle.

The 30-year-old plant worker from Port Lavaca hopes to eventually meet a woman with whom he can share the rest of his life, preferably one who has a good head on her shoulders and likes boats.
Despite his optimistic outlook, SB 723 and HB 3098, both of which would disallow a court order recognizing a sex change as a valid identity document to apply for a marriage license, may put an end to Gonzalez's future marriage plans before they even begin.
Born a female, Gonzalez, who now lives as a man, is in the process of completing his surgeries to become a full-fledged transgender male.
For transgender advocacy groups, red flags were also raised at Lois Kolkhorst's seemingly back-tracking behavior after she proposed her new bill.

"From our perspective, it seems very strange," said Katy Stewart, chair of Transgender Education Network of Texas and board member of Equality Texas. "Not only did she propose it, the whole legislature agreed to it."
Although advocates for the transgendered say that even if the legislation is passed, transgendered people could still get marriage licenses using other state and federally issued documents such as a driver's license, school ID, prison ID or passport, they still worry about the possible ramifications of not accepting court orders that officially recognize a sex change.
Texas is not the only state that are trying to block trans-people from getting married.

Consider in Kansas, a trans-person is neither male nor female, but transsexual,
While there are a number of court cases one may use, I will briefly mention two cases found in Robson (2007). The legal precariousness trans-persons may face concerning their sex/gender is particularly highlighted by In re Estate of Gardiner. In this case the courts recognized that J'Noel Gardiner's sex/gender had changed from her male birth-sex, but she was determined to not be female either. The courts asserted that her sex was "transsexual." As such, given that marriage in Kansas was limited to two parties of "opposite sex," Gardiner could not be legally married to a man, or to anyone else, as there was no "opposite" to a transsexual. In the eyes of Kansas she may have been a woman, but she was neither male nor female.[1]
While our gay brothers and lesbian sisters are fighting for their right to marry, trans-people are once again left under the bus.

The statues of transgender marriage varies from state to state, while most states allow marriage based on one’s birth certificate, other states allow marriage based on the birth sex. In addition, in some states once you are married, it does not matter if you change your gender, you will still be married.

[1] Problematizing Sex/Gender with Transgender Marriage Law
Daniel Farr
The Radical Teacher
No. 88 (Summer 2010), pp. 74-75

Monday, June 27, 2011

This And That In The News

Do you worry about your safety when you travel? Do you think about the culture of the country that you plan to visit? Well I do and many trans-people also worry about their safety. There are just some places that I would not travel to because of their culture against LGBT people.
Deadly assaults in Puerto Rico target gay and transgender people
Miami Herald

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO -- Francheska González looked into her attacker’s eyes as he kicked and punched and saw her own death.

“He kept saying, ‘Faggot! You have no right to exist!’’’ said González, a 41-year-old transsexual. “I’d cry and scream, ‘What happened? Why are you hitting me?’ He said: ‘For being like that.’’
Eighteen gay or transgender people have been killed since then. Three were murdered in a single week earlier this month.
Ms. Gonzalez was one of the lucky ones, she survived. The Machismo culture of Central America and the Caribbean is deadly to the LGBT population. If you don’t think so, go to Transgender Day of Remembrance website and see how many trans-people were killed in Central America and the Caribbea last year.

The other story that caught my attention was about the brutal beating of Chrissy Lee Polis in a Baltimore area McDonald's
It's Not Easy Peeing 'T': Trans Activists Strive for Safety and Equality
Gapers Block
By Joseph Erbentraut.

And while the emotional outpouring was palpable, particularly from the perspective of a journalist working mostly in queer media, one thing the vast majority of the coverage and commentary surrounding Polis' incident did not do was to place the horrific, near-fatal tragedy into a broader context of either the widespread harassment directed toward transgendered people using public bathrooms nor the broader-yet culture of violence and discrimination that faces many trans and gender-nonconforming individuals as they simply aim to go about their daily lives in public spaces.
You know that is all we want to do, “simply aim to go about their daily lives” all we want is to live our lives in peace. Yet when we were trying to pass the anti-discrimination bill, the opposition was trying to demonize us into monsters that preyed on little kids. They were dragging out examples from other states that had nothing to do with gender identity in states that didn’t even have gender inclusive anti-discrimination laws and even if there was an example it is wrong to paint a whole community by the acts of a few.

The third article feeds into the previous articles, this one is also about discrimination that the trans-community faces, but it is also a positive article about the transition of one trans-woman from Maryland. The article, which is four pages long, has a lot of background information about our struggle for equality and also the rift between the “LG” community and the “T” community. It is well worth reading…The article is in the New Republic and was written by Eliza Gray entitled "Transitions What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?" I just want to comment on one paragraph that reached out and grabbed me…
A planner by nature, Steve organized a family reunion in Georgia in October 2010. Before the event, she e-mailed everyone to tell them the news and then called each person to discuss it. After the last call, she got stabbing pains in her chest. Doctors kept her at the hospital for 24 hours. It was an anxiety attack, the physical aftershock of hiding herself for so many years.
Over the years I had suffered for many years with anxiety attack, they were increasing in numbers and severity until one time like Caroline I went to the emergency room thinking that I was having a heart attack. The stress and anxiety that builds up in us over hiding a part of ourselves can cause actual medical problems. Those who try to deny us of our rights are literally killing us because of the stigma that they try to attach to us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. Getting away _is what I am planning to do next weekend_.

2. _A good breakfast is what you need_ to start your day off right.

3. Coffee, tea or _me, do you remember that book?__.

4. _I don’t like artificial sugar _ in place of _real sugar_.

5. The lights _are always bright downtown_.

6. _Money sure can buy_ happiness.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _doing these silly memes_, tomorrow my plans include _going to a support group and having dinner with some friends afterward_ and Sunday, I want to _get out and do something_!

Saturday 9: Make You Feel My Love

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Make You Feel My Love

1. What has someone done unusual to make you feel their love?
Checked to see how I'm doing

2. Do you own a smart phone? If yes, is it everything you wanted? If no, how seriously have you considered a purchase of the new smart phone?
Nope, it’s too expensive. I don’t need all those bells and whistles

3. Have you ever camped out to purchase something?
Nope, and I never will.

4. What is your worst habit?
Having a messy house

5. What is your best habit?
Caring for others

6. In your opinion, what is life's greatest mystery?
Why is the answer to the universe 43?

7. Are you one of those people who is constantly busy with projects, social outings, etc. or do you just like to lay low and stay home?
Constantly busy in the evening, but during the day bored stiff.

8. Whether you're busy all the time or like to just chill, have you always been that way?
No, only in the last 12 years; before that I went to work, read, slept and went to work.

9. Is there something you'd like to change about how you spend your time? If so, what is it? If not, why not?
Yeah, I’ll like to be busy during the day without doing that for letter word… work. Oh did I mention that I’m retired.

Birth Certificates

Many people think birth certificates are engraved in stone and never can be changed, but that is not true. There are many reasons why people get their birth certificates changed, adoption is one, a name change is another reason. What are they used for; to establish parentally, age and location of the birth. When was the last time you were asked for your birth certificate? If you are like me, you probably can’t remember or you may have produced it the last time you got a job. For a trans-person, the last reason becomes a problem. Your gender might not match the gender that you are living and you might not be able to afford or because of health reason have surgery so that you can change your gender on your birth certificate. As a result whenever you apply for a job, you will “Out” yourself as trans.

NCTE is working to change the requirement that you need surgery to change your gender on your birth certificate.
Policy Brief: Birth Certificate Gender Markers

A birth certificate is an important document used to prove one’s identity and citizenship. For those who can afford one, a passport can serve the same purposes. However, the ability to change one’s sex designation on birth certificates remains an important issue for many transgender people. As lawyers at Lambda Legal point out, states have varying procedures for updating these documents, and a few actually prohibit changing the gender marker on birth certificates.

Many states model their policies for amending birth certificates on the Model Vital Statistics Act and Regulations (or Model Law). Currently being revised, the Model Law is developed by consultation between the state and federal governments and was last updated in 1992. The Model Law is intended to be a guide for states, so that states can model their own vital statistics laws and regulations after its suggestions.

What’s wrong with these laws?

The 1992 Model Law says that a person wanting to change their sex on their birth certificate should present a court order certifying that their sex “has been changed by surgical procedure.” There are three problems with this approach, which many states still use.

First, the requirement of a court order can create a barrier to those transgender people who don’t have enough money to hire a lawyer or who don’t have enough knowledge to navigate the legal system on their own. Also, some courts are hesitant to issue orders amending birth certificates that were issued by another state, creating problems for transgender people who want to change their birth certificate after they move away from the state where they were born.

Second, the Model Law’s requirement of “a surgical procedure” in every case is at odds with the medical community. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recognizes that different patients will have different medical needs. Surgical treatments may be necessary and appropriate for some transgender individuals, but not for others. The Model Law’ ignores the differing needs of transgender communities.

Third, the Model Law does not say what the new birth certificate should look like after the proper documentation is submitted. Ideally, the state would create a new birth certificate that reflects the amended gender, and some states do this. However, other states simply change the existing birth certificate, issuing one that shows the previous gender, while others designate on the new birth certificate that the gender has been changed. These approaches out transgender people whenever birth certificates are used to verify their identity.

NCTE’s Proposal:

An updated version of the Model Law is currently being developed by a group of state officials coordinated by the National Center for Health Statistics (a part of the CDC). NCTE and allies have been advocating with NCHS to change this outdated and restrictive policy about amending birth certificate sex designation. Specifically, NCTE has suggested that NCHS make three changes in its revisions of the Model Law based on approaches developed by some states and federal agencies.

The revised Model Law should allow people to change the sex designation on their birth certificate by submitting the required documentation directly to the vital statistics agency, rather than requiring a court proceeding. This will eliminate the unnecessary costs and other obstacles sometimes associated with going through the state court systems.

The revised Model Law should not require proof of specific medical procedures in order to amend birth certificates. Instead, the Model Law should reflect contemporary standards of care, and require only that an individual’s physician certify that the individual has completed the treatment the physician deems necessary to achieve gender transition. This change would recognize that different people have different medical needs, and avoid disclosure of any confidential medical information.

The revised Model Law should make clear that a new birth certificate should be issued after an individual presents the proper documentation, rather than a birth certificate that shows the original gender designation or states that the gender has been changed.

These recommendations reflect a growing trend in state and federal policies. The Department of State modernized its policy on passports in 2009, and the policy for “Consular Reports of Birth Abroad,” which are federal birth certificates for U.S. citizens born outside of the U.S., also no longer requires proof of surgery. Recent legislation in Vermont adopted the same approach for that state’s birth certificates, and a similar bill is being considered in California.

NCTE will continue to advocate for these changes in the new Model Law, and support the work of activists at the state level. Ensuring that transgender people are able to change their identity documents to reflect their gender identity is a major priority for NCTE.
This is a commonsense approach to changing your birth certificate and it will help to end much of the employment discrimination that trans-people face.

What is Connecticut’s policy with changing your birth certificate…
Only the commissioner shall amend a birth certificate to reflect a gender change. In order to request a gender change amendment the following documents shall be submitted to the commissioner:

(1) Affidavit from a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist or clinical social worker performing a psycho-social evaluation, attesting to the fact that the registrant is socially, psychologically and mentally the designated sex;
(2) Affidavit from the surgeon performing the sex change operation, attesting to the fact that the surgery was performed;
(3) Court order for legal name change if applicable.

Upon receipt of the required documentation, the commissioner shall create a new birth certificate reflecting the newly assigned gender, and the legal name change if applicable. The new certificate shall not be marked "Amended" and shall be used to issue certified copies. The original birth certificate, and the supporting documentation shall be placed in a confidential file. A certified copy of the amended certificate shall be sent either through mail or electronically to all local registrars of vital statistics who have the original certificate on file, along with a letter informing the local registrar that the original birth certificate has been amended due to gender change, and instructing the local registrar to place the
original birth certificate in a confidential file. Access to confidential files for gender change amendments maintained at the State and local vital records offices, and the information contained within such files, shall be restricted to the registrar, designated staff members, or to other parties upon an order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
We are one of the better states, some states do not allow a person to change their birth certificate, others draw a line through the gender and then write the new gender above it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Story Part 81 – Networking And Showing The Flag

I am kind of a support group junky, I visit 3 or 4 support groups. Why? To visit friends that I have made over the years and also to keep up to-date in what is happening around the state. But that is only a small part of the networking that I do, I am on committees of LGBT and non-LGBT groups and organizations.

Without a trans-person, many of these organizations would just be LGB. I’m on an events committee for a LGBT organization, and they are planning a pool party, while we discussing the planning of the party I asked if they were planning on having gender neutral bathrooms or changing rooms. After a moment of silence they said that yes they will have them. It wasn’t a snub that they didn’t think of us, it was just that they never thought about it before and that is what we have to get them to do, to start thinking about the trans-community. A member of the same organization, who is a lawyer, came up to me and asked if I had any information on workplace gender inclusive non-discrimination policies. A client of hers wants to update the EEO policy to the new law and she was looking for information on other policies.

I am a member of a professional organization for social workers and I am helping to plan their fall conference and because of my networking, I was able to get three workshops added to the conference that are issues that affect the trans-community. One of the workshops is on school bullying, one on the trans-culture in schools and one how the new law will affect therapist and school counselors.

Tuesday, I was at an event at one of the state’s utilities customer center and while I was there I was talking to a number of their employees. I was probably the first trans-person (that they knew was trans) that they ever talked to.

I didn’t write this to brag, but to show that we all can make a difference by just being “Out” there and being involved in the general community. Join the Rotary Club or the Kiwanis club, or the Chamber of Commerce or other civic organizations. Take part in local LGBT organizations, many welcome trans-inclusion, they just have to be shown the way. I was invited to talk to one LGBT organization on how they can be more trans-welcoming (I always have a hard time talking about that, I just want to say…well just treat us the same as all your other members, but they just want to learn the secret handshake). When in reality what it takes to be inclusive is to get to know us as people and not as transgender people. That is why it is so important for us to get out there and show the flag, to be known as a person, not for who we are.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This And That In The News

An article about Amanda Simpson caught my eye,
Spotlight on Commerce: Amanda Simpson, Senior Technical Advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security
June 21, 2011

Guest blog by Amanda Simpson, the Senior Technical Advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security.

As the highest ranked technical person in the Bureau of Industry and Security, I focus on policy and export control issues that seek to protect the security of the United States. While Commerce oversees and enforces the Export Administration Regulations regarding exports of dual-use goods and technologies, I work quite a bit with our sister agencies at the Departments of State and Defense that offer advice on dual-use exports but also oversee munitions exports under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
To me, Pride Month has always meant the opportunity to validate that LGBT persons are strong contributors to our society – in every manner and in every aspect of our society. And with the visibility afforded by the celebration, we can highlight the commonality that our differences bring, that we wish nothing more than to be treated just like everyone else. I celebrate Pride Month by reconnecting with friends I don’t often have the opportunity to see as well as speaking to the greater community about acceptance and how such tolerance benefits everyone.

As one of the first openly transgender appointees, when asked how I got to be where I am and how others may follow, I simply suggest that success requires passion. Passion for what you do and how you do it. Passion for others in your life, whether at work or at home. If you are passionate about who you are and what you can contribute, then you will have no choice but to succeed. With this mindset, you can overcome most anything.
The next item caught my attention was an article on the British Psychological Society web-page about the American Psychiatric Association changes in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) about gender identity.
The British Psychological Society Chastises the American Psychiatric Association on the Failings of the DSM-5

The Society is concerned that clients and the general public are negatively affected by the continued and continuous medicalisation of their natural and normal responses to their experiences; responses which undoubtedly have distressing consequences which demand helping responses, but which do not reflect illnesses so much as normal individual variation.
The putative diagnoses presented in DSM-V are clearly based largely on social norms, with 'symptoms' that all rely on subjective judgements, with little confirmatory physical 'signs' or evidence of biological causation. The criteria are not value-free, but rather reflect current normative social expectations, Many researchers have pointed out that psychiatric diagnoses are plagued by problems of reliability, validity, prognostic value, and co-morbidity.
While some people find a name or a diagnostic label helpful, our contention is that this helpfulness results from a knowledge that their problems are recognised (in both senses of the word) understood, validated, explained (and explicable) and have some relief. Clients often, unfortunately, find that diagnosis offers only a spurious promise of such benefits. Since – for example – two people with a diagnosis of ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘personality disorder’ may possess no two symptoms in common, it is difficult to see what communicative benefit is served by using these diagnoses. We believe that a description of a person’s real problems would suffice. Moncrieff and others have shown that diagnostic labels are less useful than a description of a person’s problems for predicting treatment response, so again diagnoses seem positively unhelpful compared to the alternatives. There is ample evidence from psychological therapies that case formulations (whether from a single theoretical perspective or more integrative) are entirely possible to communicate to staff or clients.

We therefore believe that alternatives to diagnostic frameworks exist, should be preferred, and should be developed with as much investment of resource and effort as has been expended on revising DSM-IV. The Society would be happy to help in such an exercise.
These are some of the problems that the trans-community face with being diagnosed with GID. Now if only the APA has the wisdom of the British Psychological Society.

Lastly, an article in the Jurist about Connecticut Anti-Discrimination bill and Jennifer Levi…
Connecticut law offers comprehensive protection for transgender people
June 20, 2011

Jennifer Levi [Director of Transgender Rights Project, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders]: "Recently, the Connecticut Senate passed a bill that adds the phrase "gender identity or expression" to all existing state sex discrimination laws. The Senate's passage followed that of the House of Representatives where the debate had been much lengthier. Governor Dannel Malloy has pledged his support for this legislation which should be signed into law any day now. Governor Malloy's signature will make Connecticut the 15th state to adopt transgender-specific provisions into its non-discrimination laws. Adoption of the legislation is a significant step forward for the transgender community which has struggled recently in getting explicit non-discrimination laws passed in no small part because of the amped up opposition to such legislation from the right.
The [amendment’s] definition as introduced as a House floor amendment with little debate or discussion about its purpose. Notably, it offers different and non-exclusive methods by which a person in the protected class can establish their gender identity including medically and non-medically based sources. The language intends to capture the various ways in which a gender-related identity may be demonstrated to be "sincerely held, part of a person's core identity or not being asserted for an improper purpose." The term "or" is used in the disjunctive. At least one House member asked to amend the proposed language for the definition to change "can be shown" to "must be shown." That proposal was never even formally advanced to a vote.

In addition to protecting against discrimination based on a gender-related identity, the law will also protect against discrimination based on "appearance and behavior," as well, "regardless of whether that appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth." The bill does not list illustrative methods for demonstrating the person's appearance or behaviors. As a result of the definition, the law will provide comprehensive protections for transgender people regardless of whether or not the person undergoes gender transition and regardless of the person's stage of gender transition."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pop Quiz - Answer

In the 18th and 19th centuries the clippers ships from Connecticut had a lucrative spice trade to the East Indies and one of the spices that they traded in was nutmeg. The state’s nickname was for this trade. However, nutmeg looks like a wooden knob and had to be grated in order to be used, many of the buyers didn’t know this; they thought it was cracked like a walnut and they therefore thought that they were sold fake nutmeg. Also many unscrupulous peddlers sold wooden nobs craved to look like nutmeg, hence the phrase “Don’t buy a wooden nutmeg” and Connecticut became better known for selling the fake wooden nutmeg than selling nutmeg.

So answer “C” is the correct answer.

Connecticut State Library

UN Adopts An LGBT Human Rights Resolution.

The United Nations Human Rights Council last week voted on a resolution convened a panel to study discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. The vote cumulated years of progress in Human Rights for LGBT community. Back in 2008 a Dutch/French-initiated, European Union-backed statement presented to the United Nations General Assembly and 66 nations voted in favor of the statement (it is now up to 85 nations). Unfortunately, the United States was not one of the signers because of President Bush. However, President Obama did sign the statement.
UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity

Presented to the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2008.

We have the honour to make this statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity on behalf of Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Guinea-Bissau Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Sao Tome et Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Venezuela.

We reaffirm the principle of universality of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary is celebrated this year, Article 1 of which proclaims that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights";
We reaffirm that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, as set out in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as in article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
1. We reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity;
2. We are deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity;
3. We are also disturbed that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that these practices undermine the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses;
4. We condemn the human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health;
5. We recall the statement in 2006 before the Human Rights Council by fifty four countries requesting the President of the Council to provide an opportunity, at an appropriate future session of the Council, for discussing these violations;
6. We commend the attention paid to these issues by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies and encourage them to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity within their relevant mandates;
7. We welcome the adoption of Resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) on "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity" by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States during its 38th session in 3 June 2008;
8. We call upon all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity;
9. We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention.
10. We urge States to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice;
11. We urge States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.
President Bush sided with the Arab states in opposing the statement based on religious grounds.

Then in 2009 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) (which is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its States parties) issued General Comment #20.
Sexual orientation and gender identity

32. “Other status” as recognized in article 2, paragraph 2, includes sexual orientation.24 States parties should ensure that a person’s sexual orientation is not a barrier to realizing Covenant rights, for example, in accessing survivor’s pension rights. In addition, gender identity is recognized as among the prohibited grounds of discrimination; for example, persons who are transgender, transsexual or intersex often face serious human rights violations, such as harassment in schools or in the workplace.
Then finally last Friday the Human Rights Council voted 23 in favor 19 against and abstentions for the Resolution.
Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity
The Human Rights Council,

Recalling the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and consequently elaborated in other human rights instruments such as the international Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant core human rights instruments;

Recalling also that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;

Recalling further GA resolution 60/251, which states that the Human Rights Council shall be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in fair and equal manner; Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

1. Requests the High Commissioner for Human Rights to commission a study to be finalised by December 2011, to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity;

2. Decides to convene a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by High Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;

3. Decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow‐up to the recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner;

4. Decides to remain seized with this priority issue.
So what does this mean? It will study and convenes a panel to report back to the Human Rights Council on discrimination against the LGBT community by the end of the year. In other words they are going to study the issue some more.

So the UN General Assemblies 2009 statement actuals is more powerful than the Human Rights Council vote last week because 85 nations signed the statement where they promised to work to “commit to promote and protect”, “take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative”, “ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice”, and “adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.” Not to conduct another study.

If the full General Assembly votes to adopt a resolution by the Human Rights Council what will it mean? Will the UN send in investigators to Russia over the violence at the last weeks Pride parade? Will it mean that we in the US LGBT community will be protected from discrimination? No, there will be not investigators sent to Russia. A Rapporteur can only go to a country that they are invited to inspect for human rights violations. The United States has signed Human Rights resolution saying the housing, food and health insurance are Human Rights. If the US invited a Rapporteur to come here to investigate us, we would flunk horribly.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pop Quiz: Why is Connecticut the Nutmeg State?

If you are not on the my Home blog page, you can view the quiz here

The answer will be posted tomorrow night

Irresistibly Sweet

Allison at “what if this is as good as it gets?” blog has awarded this blog Irresistibly Sweet. Thank you! The original directions tell us: "Now, as I understand it, for this award one is to list seven pieces of information not commonly known about themselves, and fifteen recommendations." But will list seven pieces of information and tagging someone.

So in no particular order…

1. Since I retired, my weight has ballooned out of control and now I want to change that.
2. On Mother’s and Father’s Days, I have an empty hollow feeling in me
3. It takes work to be retired; I like how Facebook says it…” Works at retired”
4. I love to cook and that make #1 all that much harder
5. I love to experiment when I cook; I see recipes as guidelines, not directions
6. When I was young, I hated eating fish, now I love fish
7. Speaking of fish, I use to catch and release. However, I stopped fishing because I thought that even using barbless hook, it still injured the fish.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday Six – Episode 375

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six – Episode 375

1. Where do you get the majority of your news: from the newspaper, the radio, the television or online?
Yes. I get my news from newspapers, television and online

2. Do you currently have a newspaper subscription that includes an actual paper delivery?
Yes, I had it from ’91 and before that my parents were life long subscribers

3. What is usually the first website you visit in the morning?

I check my mail first and then CT News Junkie

4. Who is your favorite network news anchor?

It was Ann Couric… now I don’t know.

5. Who is your least favorite network news anchor?

Barbara Walters

6. If newspapers converted to web-only sites, eliminating the physical paper, even at newsstands, would this bother you at all?

I won’t pay for an online subscription.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Saturday 9: You May Be Right

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: You May Be Right

1. What is the craziest thing you've done in the last Year?
I don’t know, at my age you don’t do many crazy things. You just worry about the next day.

2. What is something that you've lost recently?
A jacket, it was given to me when I retired.

3. Where does your patience suffer the most?
What comes immediately to mind, is following a car just now when I went to pick-up dinner. They were going 15mph on a 40mph zone. Grrrr….

4. Have you ever reread a book?
Yes, as a matter of fact, I just finished one that I read in the 80’s and now I’m reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation.

5. What is a TV show that you absolutely HATE to miss?
I can miss any TV show and it doesn’t bother me.

6. How old do you wish you were?
30, with the knowledge and money that I have now.

7. Do you know your neighbors?
Nope and I lived here for 20 years.

8. Do you believe that opposites attract?

9. Who was the last person that made you laugh?
A friend on Facebook and the picture she posted of the couple in Vancouver getting passionate laying in the middle of the street in the middle of the riots.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. One of my favorite birthday presents was _an earring and necklace set_.

2. _Just give it a twist and_ it was as simple as that.

3. The moon _is a waning Gibbous moon and is 98% full_.

4. _The modem_ includes _all the drivers_. (sorry, but I just spent the last hour connecting up a USB dial-up modem to use up at the cottage.)

5. I was tempted by _ice cream today_.

6. _Relaxing on the beach_ is some of the things I like to do on vacation.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _doing nothing_, tomorrow my plans include _maybe going down to Norwalk to there Pride_ and Sunday, I want to _do nothing_

My Story Part 80 – Harassment

I have eating in hundreds of restaurants, from Maine to North Carolina, in all the New England states and in only three have I been harassed by the staff. All the restaurants that I have gone to have treated my excellently, the service has been friendly and the food good, including those three restaurants. However, the kitchen staff in those three restaurants is another story, the staff snuck out to catch a glimpse of me. Sunday when I glance over to look at the boat that was leaving, the bartender was staring at me (the bar was down at the other end of the restaurant) and a little while later when I looked over that way, there was a kid with an apron, I don’t if he was the cook or a dishwasher) was also staring at me. A few years ago, at a restaurant in New Haven, I was with a couple of trans-friends and the same thing happened, the kitchen staff kept on peeking out of the kitchen door. Once at a fast food restaurant the staff came out from the food preparation area and walking by me with their wrist limp and laughing.

As I said, the service and the food were all good, but it was their kitchen staff that was a problem. Would management have tolerated it if they knew what their staff was doing?

Back in my college days (two months ago) one of the papers that I had to write a term paper about was a book that we read by Elliot Aronson called “The Social Animal” and from the book we had to pick one chapter to write about. I picked “Conforming”. I wrote about the chapter,
I believe that Aronson had several theories in mind when he wrote the chapters on Conformity, some of the factors are; wanting to belong, wanting to be accepted, the need to be part of the social group and the need to be wanted. All of these factors interplay on one another to produce a strong desire to conform to what we believe that our family, friends, and organizations or groups that are a part of our daily lives. Some of our worst fears are not being loved or not being liked or to be left out in the cold to fend for ourselves.
That is the lesson that the staff was teaching, you do not belong, you do not conform to societies standards. Society uses a two by four to drive individuals to conform, sometime it just subtle hints and other times it can be brutal death to teach others to conform.

I went on to write,
Compare and contrast it to any other theory discussed in class
There are several theories which may apply to conformity. The first of which relates to the class lecture on Behavior Modification where the method to modify the behavior is based on rewards and punishments and the same can be said for conformity. Aronson said in “The Social Animal” (2004) that “People have a powerful need to belong. Acceptance and rejection are among the most potent rewards and punishments for social animals, because in our evolutionary history, social exclusion could have disastrous consequences…” (p. 27). In the case of conformity it is the acceptance of the family or community that is our reward or punishment whichever the case maybe. I know of trans-persons that when they came out to the family they were thrown out of the family, never to speak to any family member ever again just because they did not conform to the gender norms.
Do you remember what I wrote last week about Anderson Cooper AC360 show and Reparative Therapy how the mother was told to withhold her love if her son acted feminine. You will conform or your mother will not love you, is a very powerful way to teach a social lesson; I leaned it when I was young, you behave like a boy or else.
A third area that pertains to conformity is also mentioned by Schriver (1998) when he list the stages of Kohlberg model; stages 3 and 4. Where stage 3 focuses on good relations and the approval of others and stage 4 is about our desire to conform to social norms. This is a good example of how both Aronson and Kohlberg both agree that a part of growing up is learning how to conform…
Society is putting thumbscrews on us, you will behave as a little boy or girl should… or else!

One of the questions that we had to answer for the paper is why we chose the chapter that we picked. My answers was,
However conformity is something that all of us in the trans-community have in common, the desire to conform is what we have to overcome in ourselves in order to be whole. It is the fear of what will our family say or what will the neighbors say or what will…. the list just keeps going on and on, every time we walk out of the house we face the results of non-conforming. The social pressures to conform builds up in us until we reach a point where we say, “Screw You World” and are able to break the hold that the desire to conform has on us.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Overturns Low Court Ruling.

Yesterday the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against the law that decertified the state unions. You may remember back in early spring the Democrats legislators fled to Michigan to block a vote to pass a law ending collective bargaining for most of its public employees. Because it was tied to the state budget bill, Wisconsin law says that to pass legislation containing budgetary matters you need a quorum. When the Democrats fled the Senate did not have a quorum. So the Republicans in order to get around the law, they stripped the collective bargaining part out of the budget and passed it separately. However, Wisconsin open meeting law says that the legislature must give 48 hours’ notice, which the Republicans did not do. A lower court judge blocked the collective bargaining law, saying the vote was not valid because proper notice was not given.

So that brings us up yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, the vote was 4 – 3 with Justice David Prosse casting the deciding vote. You might remember Justice David Prosse from this spring where he was in a tight election with his Democratic opponent JoAnne Kloppenburg. Ms Kloppenburg was at first ruled the victor, but it was later overturned by a recount where,
At first, it appeared Ms. Kloppenburg had pulled off the upset. Initial results showed she had defeated Justice Prosser by about 200 votes, and she declared herself the winner the day after the election.

The next day, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced she had failed to report 14,000 votes. The new votes gave Justice Prosser a 7,316 vote lead.

Ms. Nickolaus's revelation sparked questions about fraud in Waukesha County. Ms. Nickolaus worked for Justice Prosser when he was in the Assembly, and the county board had criticized her handling of past elections and a lack of oversight in her operations. Spurred by the election results, the state Government Accountability Board has launched an investigation into her practices.
Wall Street Journal
Now because of that election, Justice Prosse cast the deciding vote yesterday. That is why I am against the elections of judges, they are behooving to their party and to their campaign donors and which results in bad decisions.

So what about yesterday’s decision?
Wis top court rules for Walker against unions
By Reid J. Epstein

State Democrats and the dissenting court justices were angry.

“At first glance, the order appears to provide some support for broad conclusions reached on fundamental and complex issues of law,” Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote. “But on even casual reading, the explanations are clearly disingenuous, based on disinformation.”

The assembly’s minority leader released a statement saying the court’s ruling has left state legislators “above the law.”

“It’s now clear that unless the constitution is amended, the Legislature is free to ignore any laws on the books,” Democrat Peter Barca said.
Forbes goes even farther in their condemnation of the ruling…
The Wisconsin Supreme Court Crisis – Far More Serious Than The Ruling On Walker’s Anti-Collective Bargaining Law
Rick Ungar
June 15, 2011

However, the decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court revealed something far more shocking than the ruling which went against the supporters of collective bargaining. It revealed, by way of written opinion, a now ‘out in the open’ battle between the members of the court wherein the minority opinion bluntly and directly accused the majority of fudging the facts to reach the decision they had already determined they wanted to reach. The minority opinion further alleged that the majority was driven by political motives rather that the desire to deliver a fair and judicious opinion.
The notion that a minority opinion would level a charge of judicial cheating against brother and sister members of the court, in an opinion that will now become part of the Wisconsin judicial body of legal authority, is positively remarkable. I’ve read more cases in my life than I could possibly count and never-and I mean never- has anything I’ve seen so much as approached what I read in this case.

And the fact that the these charges were leveled in an opinion concurring with the minority written by the Chief Justice of the Court just makes this all the more astounding.
In a fiery dissent, Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote that justices hastily reached the decision and the majority “set forth their own version of facts without evidence. They should not engage in this disinformation.”

Abrahamson also said a concurring opinion written by Justice David Prosser, a former Republican speaker of the Assembly, was “long on rhetoric and long on story-telling that appears to have a partisan slant.”

Via Huffington Post
However, when the Chief Justice of the State’s highest court accuses the majority of highly unethical behavior and political motives when making law, and does so in the writings found in a decision of the court, there is no court in the state – nor citizen seeking to follow the laws of the state – who can give credence and credibility to the high court’s rulings. Every ruling of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, so long as it is composed of its current Justices, will result in precedents that are instantly suspect due to the charges that have been levied by members of the court.
Judges should be appointed and not elected. In Iowa, the Supreme Court judges that ruled that banning same-sex marriage violated the Constitution of Iowa were not reelected. Instead Christian right wing judges were elected. Elected judges equal bad judges, they worry about reelection not the law.

Something To Think About

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is going to hold a day of prayer and fasting on Aug. 6 “to provide “spiritual solutions to the many challenges we face in our communities, states and nation.”

In Houston there was another murder of a transgender victim whose body was found behind a trash bin at an apartment complex early Monday.

Maybe Governor, Texas can find a little more empathy for an oppressed and marginalized community.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Connecticut One Step Forward, Tennessee Two Steps Backward

While Connecticut moves forward by passing the gender inclusive anti-discrimination bill; Tennessee takes two steps backward by passing an anti-anti-discrimination bill. They passed a law that prevents any municipality from passing an anti-discrimination law that is more inclusive than the state law.
Discriminatory’ anti-gay state law challenged with lawsuit
Business & Heritage Clarksville
David W. Shelton
June 13, 2011

NASHVILLE – A group of Metro Nashville elected officials, individuals, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations filed a lawsuit today in Davidson County Chancery Court, challenging the state’s recent passage of House Bill 600, which prohibits local municipalities and counties, including local school districts, from enacting local laws or school policies that protect gay and transgender people against discrimination.
Do you remember back in November during the election, one of the big talking point for the Republicans was about how they would pass no law that was unconstitutional, well it seems that pledge only applies to the bill that the Republicans do not like…
“Fifteen years ago, in fact – in a case quite similar to this one – the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, ‘if the constitutional conception of ‘equal protection of the laws’ means anything, it must at the very least mean that a bare . . . desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot constitute a legitimate governmental interest’,” said Rubenfeld, citing Romer v. Evans, which struck down a Colorado constitutional amendment that barred localities or the state from passing laws to prohibit discrimination against gay people.

“One difference is that Colorado [in the 1993 Constitutional amendment later struck down by Romer] forbade a city from adopting or enforcing civil rights ordinances on the basis of sexual orientation,” said Jonathan Cole, Board Chairman of the Tennessee Equality Project. “The Tennessee law doesn’t specifically mention sexual orientation, but it’s clear that the intent is directed toward the LGBT community.”
So in order to get around the Supreme Court and the Constitution the Republicans made this law so broad that it does away with discrimination protections for veterans, and discrimination based on income, age, and disability.

Why did the state of Tennessee feel that this law that stripped away protection against discrimination from thousands of people was needed… why because of the lesbians, gays and transgender people.
The [Nashville] Metro Council passed a law in April requiring contractors doing business with the city to pledge not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity — an extension of the protections already given to employees based on age, race, sex, color, national origin and disability. The state legislature then approved legislation preventing municipalities from taking such action, arguing it would hurt the business environment by creating different standards in different places.
The Tennessean
So who is behind the bill and was instrumental in getting it passed? David W. Shelton writes that,
By mid-January of this year, the Family Action Council held a meeting to see if state law could be amended to prevent Nashville — or any other locality — from passing laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people. This meeting was attended by State Representatives Glen Casada (who later sponsored HB600) and State Representative Jim Gotto. The Family Action Council was founded by David Fowler, a former Tennessee State Senator who led the successful passage of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in 2006.
This is the same Family Action Council that is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Two Spirits

Tomorrow night (Tuesday) on PBS (you know that network that the Republicans hate and wanted to cut their funding) the show [i]dependent Lens is about the murder of a Navajo male-bodied person with a feminine nature teenager. The Native American’s call transgender people “Two Spirits” and they were sometimes held to great esteem by their tribes, many of them were Medicine Woman/Men or sages.

Fred Martinez murder was brutal and savage like many other hate crimes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people. The hate of the murder is borne by the victim.
This June 16th, 2011 will mark 10 years since his brutal murder at the hands of someone who targeted him simply for being different. For being himself. For being honest and true to his spirit. Attacked seems like an inadequate word. He was bludgeoned to death with a rock, fighting for his life, trying to climb a rock wall over which he could see the trailer park he called home.
Two Spirits: The Last Thing Fred Saw
Filed By Cathy Renna | June 12, 2011

From the Independent Lens website:
Two Spirits interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son with a revealing look at the largely unknown history of a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders.

Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. He was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of this boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender.

Two Spirits tells compelling stories about traditions that were once widespread among the indigenous cultures of North America. The film explores the contemporary lives and history of Native two-spirit people — who combine the traits of both men and women with qualities that are also unique to individuals who express multiple genders.

The Navajo believe that to maintain harmony, there must be a balanced interrelationship between the feminine and the masculine within the individual, in families, in the culture, and in the natural world. Two Spirits reveals how these beliefs are expressed in a natural range of gender diversity. For the first time on film, it examines the Navajo concept of nádleehí, “one who constantly transforms.”

In Navajo culture, there are four genders; some indigenous cultures recognize more. Native activists working to renew their cultural heritage adopted the English term “two-spirit” as a useful shorthand to describe the entire spectrum of gender and sexual expression that is better and more completely described in their own languages. The film demonstrates how they are revitalizing two-spirit traditions and once again claiming their rightful place within their tribal communities.

Two Spirits mourns the young Fred Martinez and the threatened disappearance of the two-spirit tradition, but it also brims with hope and the belief that we all are enriched by multi-gendered people, and that all of us — regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or cultural heritage — benefit from being free to be our truest selves.
Why did their culture of “Two Spirits” die out… simply because it did not fit the beliefs of the Christian missionaries.

The show focuses on the murder of a Navajo Two Spirit teenager and the police investigation of the teenagers death. Firedoglake has an article by Wendy Davis who writes.
Fred’s mother Pauline Mitchell had alerted the local police on June 16 that her son had disappeared. When the body of a dead, bludgeoned-by-rock and teen was found south of Cortez, she wasn’t notified until five days later. The ensuing investigation and lack of communication with Pauline was callous to the point of cruelty, and only with the aid of coverage by Aspen Emmet and Gail Binkley at the local Cortez Journal, the local and national PFLAG groups and other LGBT organizations who sent people to help, was the ongoing process made more transparent.
Local elected officials in Cortez pretended none of it was happening. I remember reading the Mayor’s own news section in the paper that week; he actually spotlighted a group of Christian teens that had zipped into town to do chores for the elderly or something: that was what he chose to write about instead. When I went to his office to task him for it, his excuses were pathetic. He didn’t show up for Fred’s memorial service, nor did any representatives from the police or sheriff’s office as far as I know.
You can find when the show will be carried by your local PBS station here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Another Day At The Cottage

I was planning to come home today after I had brunch with my cousins, but one Bloody Mary and a big meal made me sleepy so I decided not to drive home. It is a three hours drive and I thought that staying overnight was the best option.

We went to a restaurant right on Lake Sunapee called the Anchorage and for brunch, I had Lobster Eggs Benedict. You know me, anything with lobster on the menu I have to have. They were excellent!!!

Here are some photos that I snapped around the restaurant… However, do to technique difficulties there is only one. It seems like the memory card was corrupted some how. All the pictures that took but one did not come out, including the one of the family. Bummer.

The photo that did come out is of the dam for Lake Sunapee.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Up At The Lake On A Rainy Weekend

OK, the original plan was to come up here, do a little work, lay out on the deck to catch a little sun, go swimming and to go up to my cousins for a family get together on Sunday.

Scratch the catching the rays, scratch the swimming… it has been a raining weekend. When I got here yesterday, the sun came out at sunset, and I snapped this picture of the birch trees off the end of the deck.

However, today it has been a total rain out. I got a little work done, napped a lot, read a lot. It was a dreary day and this is what the lake and the mountains look like in between the showers.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saturday 9: The Remedy (I Won't Worry)

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: The Remedy (I Won't Worry)

Please Note: I am on a dial-up modem and I will not be able to answers your comments until I get home. At 56K some blogs take forever to load. It took Sam’s blog 10 minutes to load. I usually play a couple of hand of Solitaire as I wait for pages to load.

1. What's the remedy for you to stop worrying?
I wish I knew, then I’ll stop worrying. My brother says that I inherited my mother’s worrying genes

2. What is your favorite summertime beverage?

3. Do you use any freeware on your computer? If yes, do tell.
Yes, FTP transfer program

4. What is one thing about your home that has to be just so or it drives you crazy when it comes to organization?
The pile of clothes that I throw in the corner of the closet

5. Is there a specific subject you're especially curious about? A person? A region of the world? An animal? A field of study?
Everything, I am a true Renaissance woman. That is why I love the internet; if something peaks my interest, I look it up.

6. What do you consider your most interesting trait?
Who I am

7. What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life?
Yes, there is something that scared me back when I was young. However, it is not something that I want to talk bout in public

8. Who do you want to yell at to “get a grip!”?
There is someone that I want to tell shut up because they are always talking and it drives me nuts! You could be talking to someone else and they will come over and butt into the conversation and take it over.

9. What do you wear to particularly look great for a party or event?
I have my standard LBD.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. I remember when I first heard _the tornado warning_.

2. _Hail was_ showering down _on my skylights_.

3. Most humans _are social animals_.

4. _Does what they said about us_...sound familiar?

5. I was inspired by _the oppression that I saw_.

6. _The thunderstorm is moving off to_ who knows where!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _going up to the cottage in New Hampshire_, tomorrow my plans include _relaxing_ and Sunday, I want to _meet up with my cousins for brunch_!

My Story Part 79 – The Long And Winding Road

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door.

How does that Chinese proverb go about a journey begins with one step? Sometimes we never know that we are on a journey until we look back and see the trail of footsteps. My long and winding journey began without a conscious decision, it was just steps that evolved into a journey.

I remember it was at the Hartford Pride in 2003, the year when it was held down by the river, the Connecticut Outreach Society (COS) booth was right next to the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalitions booth. So all day I sat there talking to them and I liked what I heard. I asked them a simple question, “What can I do to help?” I asked that question over and over again, at that time I never knew the road asking that question would take me down. In 2005, I was asked if I would be interested in joining CT Transadvocacy Coalition’s Board. We met in a little bookstore on New Britain Ave in Hartford, just by Trinity College, where we each talked about our goals for CTAC and one thing we all agreed upon was to pass the anti-discrimination law. Later that year, I was invited to a fundraiser for GenderPAC by Rachel down in Stamford at an IBM VP’s house. It was at that fundraiser that I met Mayor Malloy, now Governor for the first time. Also at the fundraiser were State Senator Andrew McDonald, who is now the Governor’s chief legal counsel and Representative Mike Lawlor, who is now undersecretary for criminal justice policy and planning at the Office of Policy and Management for the Governor. I would meet them again at a fundraiser for Lawlor and McDoanld reelection and when I testified for the bill before the Judiciary Committee, they were familiar faces. Also there at the GenderPAC fundraiser was the First Selectman Diane Farrell of Westport. I have also volunteered to help out on Lamont’s senate campaign against Lieberman and I helped out on Attorney General George Jepsen's campaign. Believe it or not, but I not very political, I helped out on the campaigns and gone to fundraisers because, 1) I didn’t want the other party’s candidate to win and 2) because I wanted a trans-person to be visible helping out. I will be helping out with other candidates in the future for the same reasons.

In 2006, with the prospect of retirement looming I asked that question again, “What can I do to help?” and the answer came back, get your MSW… me a social worker, no way! I’m not a people person. I asked that several more times and the answers kept on coming back get your MSW. I collect the mail for COS and one day when I picked up the mail there was a booklet from the University Of Connecticut School Of Social Work and I tossed it in the back seat of my car. I asked a friend at the CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) and she said the same thing. I told her that I’m not a people person and I wouldn’t make a good therapist. She told me about the Macro side of social work and I thought… Hmmm. Later on I dug the booklet I got from UConn SSW out of the stuff in my back seat and read it. I found a few courses that I might be interested in taking and I signed up for. And that is how I ending up going back to school, by asking that simple little question, “What can I do to help?”

In October of that year, I received an email from Jerimarie asking if I would be interested in attending the Core group meeting for the anti-discrimination bill. I attended the meeting at Betty Gallo & Co. office in Hartford and when I arrived I found some familiar faces and so faces that I didn’t know but I would come to know. I have been involved with the legislation ever since then, helping out any way that I could to pass the bill.

This year I have asked that question again and I’m helping out with the planning of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) fall conference. I have been also helping out planning the Trans Health and Law conference ever since it started five years ago.

You can also help to bring about change; all you have to do is say those six magic words…”What can I do to help?”

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Reparative Therapy

Last night on Anderson Cooper AC360 on CNN they had a story about a boy who was subjected to reparative therapy (part 2 is tonight at 10:00pm). The boy was displaying feminine tendencies and his parents enrolled him in an experiment to correct the tendencies, the results affected him for the rest of his life. What is reparative therapy? It is where a child is forced into the gender of their birth, forced into a masculine roll. The child does not have to be transgender nor homosexual, but just display feminine tendencies, the therapy is based on “tough love” to make him more “macho”.
Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says
By Scott Bronstein and Jessi Joseph
June 7, 2011

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Kirk Andrew Murphy seemed to have everything to live for.

He put himself through school. He had a successful 12-year career in the Air Force. After the service, he landed a high profile position with an American finance company in India.

But in 2003 at age 38, Kirk Murphy took his own life.
"Well, I [His mother] was becoming a little concerned, I guess, when he was playing with dolls and stuff," she said. "Playing with the girls' toys, and probably picking up little effeminate, well, like stroking the hair, the long hair and stuff. It just bothered me that maybe he was picking up maybe too many feminine traits." She said it bothered her because she wanted Kirk to grow up and have "a normal life."

Then Kaytee Murphy saw a psychologist on local television.

"He was naming all of these things; 'If your son is doing five of these 10 things, does he prefer to play with girls' toys instead of boys' toys?' Just things like this," she said.
The therapy at UCLA involved a special room with two tables where "Kraig's" behavior was monitored, according to the study.

"There was a one-way mirror or one-way window -- and some days they would let him choose which table he would go to," said Maris, who has read about the experiments.

At one table Kirk could choose between what were considered masculine toys like plastic guns and handcuffs, and what were meant to be feminine toys like dolls and a play crib. At the other table, Kirk could choose between boys' clothing and a toy electric razor or items like dress-up jewelry and a wig.
According to the case study, Kaytee Murphy was told to ignore her son when he played with feminine toys and compliment him when he played with masculine toys.
At home, the punishment for feminine behavior would become more severe. The therapists instructed Kirk's parents to use poker chips as a system of rewards and punishments.

According to Rekers' case study, blue chips were given for masculine behavior and would bring rewards, such as candy. But the red chips, given for effeminate behavior, resulted in "physical punishment by spanking from the father."
They used a mother’s love as a weapon. The reward, a loving mother and candy. The punishment, a mother’s scorn and worst, the father beat him with a strap; they beat the woman out of him. They forced that part of him back into a little corn of his brain to fester.
Mark Murphy [His brother] vividly remembers a photo of a smiling young Kirk, age 4, taken a year before the therapy started.

"This is my brother, Kirk Andrew Murphy, right here," Mark said, pointing to the picture. "This is the way he's supposed to be right here," Mark said tearfully.

Mark said the photo shows the last time he remembers his brother as a happy child.
"It left Kirk just totally stricken with the belief that he was broken, that he was different from everybody else," she [His sister] recalled. "He even ate his lunch in the boy's bathroom for three years of his high school career, if you want to call it that."
But his researchers called the experiment a success and published the results.

So what happened to the researchers?
He [George A. Rekers] became a founding member of the Family Research Council, a faith-based organization that lobbies against gay-rights issues. Rekers was also on the board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, an organization of scientists that says its mission is to offer treatment to those who struggle with what they call "unwanted homosexuality."
He also co-authored, "Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions”, but you may remember him more for what happened last year at the Miami International Airport where he was caught coming back from Europe with a male prostitute.

There are still many therapists who still believe in reparative therapy such as Dr. Zucker and there are a number of research studies to back them up. However, I think that the studies all reflect a major flaw that this article highlights; there are no longitudinal studies that follow the clients over 5, 10 and 15 years that study the quality of life after they have gone through reparative therapy. Are they better off? Are there more suicides? We just do not know. There is also no control group to compare with those who have had reparative therapy. They may be “cured” but they may have just learned to keep their feelings a secret and let it fester. However, what we do know is that a supportive family atmosphere can reduce suicides in LGBT youth.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Raise Your Hand If You Know What The DSM Is.

The full name of the DSM is “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” and it is published by American Psychiatric Association (APA). And the purpose of the DSM is,
Mental Health Professionals use this manual when working with patients in order to better understand their illness and potential treatment and to help 3rd party payers (e.g., insurance) understand the needs of the patient.
AllPsych On-line
Do you bit your nails? Well that could be listed in the DSM under Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (300.3). Do you smoke pot? That is also in there (292.89) (See below for a video about smoking cannabis). Most people think that the DSM list mental illness, but it does not, it is a list of problems that a person might see a therapist for. And therein lays the problem for trans-people, the stigma of being diagnosed with something in the DSM.

The APA is in the process of coming out with another addition of the DSM, version 5. Last spring (2010) they scraped the name Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and relabeled it Gender Incongruity (GI), now this spring they are calling it Gender Dysphoria (GD). For crossdressers they changed the name to Transvestic Disorder from Transvestic Fetishism. So what is the proposed change in the DSM, not much. It is still has a sex stereo typed view of gender and while GI had an exit clause, GD does not for an out trans-person like me. If you want to transition and be assimilated back into the closet, then you can lose the GD diagnosis. For crossdressers, sorry you went from having a fetish to a disorder.

Kelly Winters has an excellent write up about the changes here.

Monday, June 06, 2011

More On The Trans-Bill HB6599

I am still flying high on the adrenaline from Saturday morning, so I'm going to just link you to Jennifer Levi's blog at GLAD...
Hotline: A fortuitous Friday-night phone call brings our Transgender Rights Project Director a front-row seat for CT’s long-awaited victory
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is one of our strongest allies. Thank you Jennifer and Glad for all that you have done to bring about this victory.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Other Legislation Around The Country

Connecticut is not the only state around the country to be working to pass anti-discrimination laws. Our neighbors to the north are also trying to pass gender inclusive anti-discrimination bills and one is trying to hanging on to the protection that they already have.

In Maine there is a bill that will roll back some of the protections that they have, the bill LD 1046 “An Act to Amend the Application of the Maine Human Rights Act Regarding Public Accommodations” was introduced by Rep. Ken Fredette (R) that will force people to use the restrooms of their biological gender. The bill is backed by Maine Family Policy Council, or Christian Civic League. Their version of the Judiciary Committee said that the bill should not be passed on, EQME press release said,
Transgender Advocates Laud Judiciary Committee Vote Against LD 1046
Equality Maine
May 16, 2011

Augusta, Maine – On May 13, in a bipartisan vote of 8 -5 the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary recommended that LD 1046, “An Act to Amend the Application of the Maine Human Rights Act Regarding Public Accommodations” ought not to pass. The bill would repeal part of the Maine Human Rights Act to take away existing protections for transgender people when accessing appropriate public restrooms.
In Massachusetts next Wednesday there will be a hearing on their gender identity anti-discrimination bill, H00502 An Act Relative To Transgender Equal Rights, once again they have the votes to pass the bill, but the law makers do not have the will to push the bill forward. So who are opposing to the bill? The Massachusetts Family Institute.

In Nevada, this week the governor signed three bills that made Nevada the 14th state to provide protect trans-people in employment, housing and public accommodation. They did it the hard way, passing three separate bills.

I want you to notice something, in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts the opposition all call themselves “Family”, I don’t know about you, but I don’t call teaching hate and intolerance a family value.