Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Transgender Employees And Health Care

I do not like the HRC after what they have done to the community, but at the same time I must recognize that there are some good publications that come from them. The latest is… “Transgender-Inclusive Health Care Coverage and the Corporate Equality Index”. For states that now have protection against discrimination, I think that we should work toward ending insurance discrimination. I the health insurance that I have through my former employer, it has a clause that denies healthcare coverage for anything related to Gender Identity Disorder (GID) which I believe is now in direct violation of Connecticut anti-discrimination statute. My policy says…
Transsexual Surgery
For any treatment leading to or in connection with transsexual surgery, except for sickness or injury resulting from such treatment or surgery.
You can’t get anymore discriminatory, it says in black and white, we are discriminating against transsexuals and will not cover what the AMA, APA, WPATH and the federal government all say is a medical necessity. It is time to end that discrimination!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If You’re Trans, You Know This

I have a number of trans-friends who were stopped for minor traffic violations and they tell me that they fear being pulled over, that you never know how the officer will treat you. I know a black trans-man who lives in a white neighborhood and before his transition when as a black woman when “she” walked to the bus stop “she” was never questioned by the police, but as a black man, he was routinely questioned why he was in the neighborhood.

The Hartford Courant and Fox61 News looked into racial bias in police stops.
Unequal Enforcement: Black, Hispanic Drivers Faced Tougher Treatment From Police
Hartford Courant/Fox61 News
By Matthew Kauffman
February 25, 2012

Black and Hispanic drivers stopped by police across Connecticut are significantly more likely to leave the encounter with a ticket or a court date than are white motorists pulled over for the same offense, a first-ever analysis of state data shows.

From running stop signs to busted taillights, an analysis by the Courant of more than 100,000 traffic stops by dozens of local departments in 2011 found widespread disparity in how racial and ethnic minorities are treated.

Blacks and Hispanics fared especially poorly when stopped for equipment-related violations. Among nearly 4,000 stops related to the display or use of license plates, for example, 13 percent of white motorists left with a citation, compared with 27 percent of black drivers and 36 percent of Hispanics.

For more than 2,600 stops involving improper taillights, black motorists were twice as likely and Hispanics nearly four times as likely to be ticketed, compared to white drivers.
"This is beyond profiling. This goes to actually a level of discrimination, and who gets the wink and who doesn't get the wink," he said. "An officer can make a decision on whether or not to give a ticket, and it seems they've landed on a decision that if you're a minority, you're going to get a ticket."

The disparity was evident in stops as serious as speeding and running red lights, and as mundane as being overdue for an emissions inspection. Among the findings:

--Stops for traffic-signal violations led to citations for 26 percent of white motorists, compared to 30 percent of black drivers and 42 percent of Hispanics.

--For violations of state laws on tinted windows, white motorists were ticketed 12 percent of the time. For blacks and Hispanics, the figure was 17 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

--Among drivers stopped for an improper turn or stop, blacks were nearly 50 percent more likely to be ticketed than whites. Hispanics were twice as likely.
What is interesting is that the Courant last week had a poll that asked the question, “The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a new case challenging the constitutionality of affirmative action. Is it time to end race-based preferences?” and 36% said yes it is time to end affirmative action. I would have loved to see how that was broken down by race and income.

I get in debates with friends over racial profiling and they say it is necessary and I say that by profiling there are two effects of profiling, first you are less likely to catch a person who does not fit the profile and second it becomes self-filling. From the data that the article looked at, you can say, “see, minority drivers are bad drivers so therefore we should charge them more for car insurance”. Or it could also lead to more drug arrest because they stop more minority drivers; meanwhile other drivers are not stopped as often and would have less drug arrests.

At a support group meeting, a member at one of the meetings said that one night she was waiting for her daughter at a park and ride. The daughter was coming back from college and a friend was going to drop her off at the park and ride just off the highway. While the trans-woman was waiting for her daughter, a state police officer spied her sitting in the car and asked her what she was waiting there for. She told them that she waiting for her daughter and he accused her of waiting for a “John”, by then three more polices cars arrived. They ordered her out of her and she complied, then one of the officers took out a camera and was going to take her picture. When she protested about them taking the picture and she said that she was doing nothing wrong, they arrested her for “Disorderly Conduct”. They took her to the station and booked her. Meanwhile, her daughter arrived and found her father’s car empty and called her mother. They panicked and called the local police, who knew nothing because it was the state police that arrested her. It wasn’t until she was she was released on her own recognizance that they knew where she was. When she was telling her story at the support group, she had already spent almost a thousand dollars on a lawyer. This all happened just because she is trans and was sitting in a parking lot.

Monday, February 27, 2012

John F. Kennedy – My How Times Have Changed: Part 2

No sooner did I finish write the other blog post I came across this New York Times opinion page…
Back to First Principles on Religious Freedom
New York Times
Published: February 25, 2012

Catholic bishops, leading Republicans and other social conservatives persist in portraying the Obama administration’s new rule requiring employer health plans to cover birth control without a co-pay as an assault on religious freedom.

But the real departure from the Constitution is their specious claim to a right to impose their religious views on millions of Americans who do not share them. Virtually all American women, including Catholic women, use contraceptives sometime in their lives. In essence, the bishops and their allies are arguing that they are above the law and their beliefs should be elevated over pressing societal interests.
Insupportable claims of religious infringement are being made in other contexts, too. Religious service providers say it is religious discrimination to deny them government contracts to help human-trafficking victims or arrange adoptions because of their unwillingness to provide emergency contraception or stop discriminating against qualified gay couples.

Several lawsuits challenging the contraception rule have already been filed, and two main legal elements come into play: the Supreme Court’s 1990 ruling in Employment Division v. Smith and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (R.F.R.A.), which Congress passed in response to that ruling.

The Smith decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, involved two workers who sought unemployment benefits after they were fired for using peyote, an illegal drug. The court found that Oregon could deny the benefits — even though the workers said their use of peyote was part of a religious ritual — under the general principle that Oregon’s ban on peyote was a “valid and neutral law of general applicability.”
But that was not the only case that the Supreme Court heard on religion and government, a 1982 court case, United States v. Lee, involved the Amish having to pay Social Security tax, they claimed it went against their religious beliefs. Read my blog entry OK, "This Is Going To Be Controversial".

John F. Kennedy – My How Times Have Changed.

I am old enough to remember when Kennedy was running for president; the Republicans were all over him because he was Catholic. They said that he would bring his religion beliefs to the presidency and his religious beliefs would unduly influence his judgment. It forced then candidate Kennedy to give a speech at the Baptist Greater Houston Ministerial Association,
While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we have far more critical issues to face in the 1960 election; the spread of Communist influence, until it now festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida--the humiliating treatment of our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our power--the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their farms--an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.

These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they are not religious issues--for war and hunger and ignorance and despair know no religious barriers.

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured--perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again--not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me--but what kind of America I believe in.
And today we still have more important issues that should be the topics of debates, not who is more Christian than the other candidates.
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
Now religious leaders have no qualms of telling their parishioners how to vote.
I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim--but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.
Nor Muslim
Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end--where all men and all churches are treated as equal--where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice--where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind--and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.
Now read what former Senator Rick Santorum
"I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," Santorum, a devout Catholic, said in an interview from Michigan on ABC's "This Week."

"The First Amendment means the free exercise of religion and that means bringing people and their faith into the public square."
How did we go from a nation where we believed that to govern meant to respect everyone’s beliefs to where we should impose religious beliefs on everyone. We see our politics being polarized by liberal and conservative beliefs and now we are being polarized by our religious beliefs and not just any religious beliefs, but evangelical religious belief, to be Christian is not good enough, you have to believe in a strict religious dogma. You have to hate gays, you have to be anti-abortion, you have to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Have we become like the Taliban?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Forced Sterilization

There has been a huge outcry from the trans-community over the last couple of months about Sweden requiring sterilization for trans-people before they have surgery (I wrote a blog post about it here). It turns out that Sweden is not the only European country to require sterilization for trans-people, 17 other European countries also require sterilization…
17 European Countries Force Transgender Sterilization (Map)
Mother Jones
By Nicole Pasulka
Feb. 16, 2012

People rightly flipped out across the internet last month over news that the Swedish parliament would not be repealing a barbaric law that forces sterilization on trans people seeking to change their gender on legal documents. While it's despicable that Swedish politicians are opposing the law change, much of the outrage, no doubt, occurred because people previously didn't realize that a forced sterilization law existed in Sweden.

Considering how shocking people find Sweden’s law, it's worth pointing out the country is 1 of 17 in Europe (shown in red below) that require trans people to have a surgical procedure that results in sterilization before legal gender change is made to their identification ID. The law is currently under review in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Portugal, and in Ireland a name change (which acknowledged gender change) was granted for one woman after a legal challenge that went to the high courts, but no laws exist on the matter.
Data source: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
It is unethical to require doctors to preform unnecessary surgery on a people and put their lives in danger just to satisfy societal transphobia, because some people are uncomfortable with the idea. The article goes on to say,
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights 2009 "Issue Paper on Human Rights and Gender Identity" (PDF) takes particular aim at surgical or sterilization requirements, saying they "ignore the fact that while such operations are often desired by transgender persons, this is not always the case." People don't always want surgery, and it's often impossible because of physical or economic impediments. The Issue Paper's conclusions are clear; these sterilization requirements are "putting the transgender person in a limbo without any apparent exit.”

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Six #411

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #411

Here’s the 411…

1. Consider the last time you went shopping to a single store: which store was it?
The grocery store.

2. Consider the last time you went shopping at a mall: which store was the first one you went into?
I can’t even remember that far back.

3. Do you prefer to shop in a mall or in a strip of stores downtown?
I’m not a big fan of malls, I prefer strip stores. The local malls have become hangouts for teenagers.

4. You have to go downtown to purchase something in a store there, but the only parking places are parallel spaces near the store or a parking garage five blocks away: which are you more comfortable using?
I would park in the parallel parking space even though I hate them. One time I had to parallel park when I went to Yale for a conference, I must pulled back and forth over a dozen times. When I got out of my car there were students sitting on a wall in front of the building and they clapped. I curtsied for them.

5.Have you ever bumped another car while trying to park your own car?
Sad to say yes. It was snowing and the parking lot was covered with ice, I slid and broke their headlight.

6. If you bumped a car while parking and you noticed a small mark on the car’s fender that you might have caused, but saw that no one saw you bump it, would you leave a note, or just move elsewhere and pretend it never happened?
I had them paged over the store PA system.

Saturday 9: Da Ya Think I'm Sexy

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Da Ya Think I'm Sexy

1. When do you feel that you are at your sexiest?
After 3 rum and cokes

2. What's your favorite magazine? Why?
I don’t get any magazine any more, they gotten way too expensive. The last magazine that I got was PC Photo

3. What’s something you do more quickly than most people?
Get in-line for a buffet. Don’t get between me and food!

4. When do you first remember using a computer?
It was back in 1968 and it was an IBM1620. The first computer that I own was an AIM 65 back in 1977 with an amazing 8K of RAM and the program was stored on a tape recocder.

5. Who is the craziest person in your family?
I guess I am.

What one thing are you craving today?
Food! Or more practically seafood

What is your favorite thing to spend money on?

8. What’s the part of your morning you least look forward to every day?
Getting out of bed. When you are retired there is no rush to get out of bed. I usually get out of bed when my stomach starts to growl for breakfast

9. What are some rules you have for yourself that don’t really make much sense?
Get dressed before 9:00 AM.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. I'm feeling _mischievous_.
2. I want _to win Poweball for 270 million dollars_
3. I need _a break today_. I know, it’s a copout
4. I was thinking _what a crazy winter we are having, yesterday was 60 degrees and today we had 6 inches of snow_.
5. I wish _spring will arrive, I had enough of this crazy winter_.
6. I'm reading _Dune_.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _reading in front of the fireplace_, tomorrow my plans include _going to Jitters coffeeshop and listening to folk music_ and Sunday, I want to _I don’t know, but something will come up_!

This Is Nothing New

When I was going to grad school a number of classes discussed the effects of oppression on minorities and no matter what community that you studied the effects were the same. So this article in the Huffington Post comes as no shock…
The Inseparable Link Between Discrimination, Economic Injustice, and Anti-Transgender Violence
By Peggy Shorey
Posted: 02/23/2012

In the labor movement, we organize by the spirit of the motto, "An injury to one is an injury to all." In the LGBT community, we must find that sense of shared struggle with a movement that truly includes all of us. Our people are getting killed. Every one of us has a moral obligation to stand up and talk about it, to find a way to take action, to do more. Those of us who are the "LGB" of our community must stand in real solidarity with our transgender sisters and brothers. Allies, you are just as vital.

There is an inseparable link between violence, discrimination, and economic injustice. Working people across all sectors are facing extraordinary levels of unemployment and underemployment. Youth, immigrants, women, people of color, and LGBT people face disproportionate hardship. Black transgender individuals are estimated to have four times the unemployment rate of the general population.
If you are trans and you are a member of another minority the effects discrimination are not just double, but are multiplied. If you are a black female trans-woman, the deck is stacked against you.
We should not be hopeless, but we should be angry. There are actions that we can take:

Speaking out against violence: We cannot let hate crimes against our community pass by in silence. In the words of the ACT-UP community, silence equals death. As an LGBT community, we must speak the women's names aloud, remember them, take the pain of their murders, and use it as our fuel to go out and make it better.

Educating within the LGBT community: In addition to the work of educating our allies, we must continue to educate within the LGBT community about issues of both gender identity/expression and racial justice. We must do the work to learn what we don't know, and share what we do. We must have frank conversations and create meaningful action plans to make our work more whole.

Withdrawing our dollars from corporations that don't genuinely support LGBT workers: There's a difference between saying the LGBT community supports people of color and transgender folks within our movement, and actually standing in support of their struggles. While the regular working people and jobless folks in the LGBT community may not have all that mythical gay community disposable income, we absolutely do have strength in numbers, and we should recognize and use our power
Fighting for good jobs and economic security: While we continue the fight for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, we must take action for economic relief that will have a meaningful, immediate impact in workers' lives. LGBT groups must prioritize fighting for those in deepest struggle within our community. All of us in the LGBT community should be standing up for good jobs that let our community survive and thrive, living as our whole selves and supporting our families with dignity.
What can you do? You can demand that your local schools here in Connecticut obey Public Act No. 11-232 - AN ACT CONCERNING THE STRENGTHENING OF SCHOOL BULLYING LAWS and on a national level can tell your congressional legislators to support the gender inclusive and and only a gender inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act(ENDA) and the Safe Schools Improvement Act.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Story Part 107 – True Colors Conference

Those of you who are around here in Connecticut or have been following my blog probably know about True Colors, a LGBT family and youth agency that every year holds a conference. This year will be their 19th annual conference. I had the privilege to intern with them last year and this year I will be giving a workshop at the conference.

I first attend the back when it was held at the University of Hartford and was called “The Children From the Shadows” in 2002 and I wrote in my diary…
The conference was excellent! I had a great time and enjoyed every minute of it.

So a little after seven in the morning on Friday March 22, MA stopped by my house and we went off to the “Children from the Shadows.” I only had a vague idea what the conference would be like, but when we got to the University of Hartford where the conference was being held the parking lot was starting to fill up. There were a number of school buses and cars in the parking lot already, with lines forming at the registration desk. We went in and set up the table [I volunteered to help out at the Connecticut Outreach Society’s table] and before we got settled in people were already stopping by the table. From then on it was none stop people. Some just walked by and glanced at our table, some took our flyers and other stopped and talked to us. They were interested in where to get support, not for themselves but for their students. Most of the people who stopped and talked were faculty advisors or guidance counselors. I would estimate that over all percentage of students to professionals to be about 85 percent students to around 15 percent faculty and professionals.
Last year as part of my intern duties I coordinated the vendor tables and I was at the conference from dawn to sunset both Friday and Saturday. To organize a conference the sizes of the True Colors conference takes a small army of interns and volunteers all semester to organize. From around 9 AM on Friday until 5 PM on Saturday almost 3000 people attended the conference.

This year I am presenting a workshop on Saturday March 17 at 10:30 called "Transgender Activist History: From World War II to the Presents"
The workshop will look at transgender activist from World War II until the present. It will cover the history of the movement and notable transgender activists such as Sylvia Rivera, Dallas Denny, Virginia Prince and Christine Jorgensen. In addition, the workshop will look at the Stonewall Uprising from a trans-perspective and will cover legislative victories, defeats and betrayals, both locally and nationally.
If you would like to attend the conference you can register or find out more information, go here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Victory… Maybe

In Maryland, Baltimore County passed a gender inclusive anti-discrimination law that includes public accommodation… maybe. They add a weird clause in the language of the bill.
Balto. Co. Council approves transgender discrimination ban
Council does not pass 'bathroom amendment'
Baltimore Sun
By Alison Knezevich
February 21, 2012

Transgender people would be protected from discrimination in Baltimore County under a measure approved by the County Council Tuesday, making the county the fourth local government in Maryland to adopt such protections.

Council members did not add a heavily debated amendment proposed last week that would have specifically exempted bathrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms. Instead, the council left the bathroom issue open to interpretation in the legislation, amending the measure so that the protections do not apply to "distinctly private or personal" facilities.
Hun? Distinctly private or personal? What does that mean? Are they talking about bathrooms? All the bathrooms that I know all have private stalls. I think the language of the bill is going to cause more problems for everyone because it is so vague that another news article said, this is going to create full employment for lawyers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This Is Rape

The Republicans are at it again, their attack on women. This time in the state of Virginia where they are passing a law to require women to undergo a medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound if they want an abortion.
Proposed abortion bills worry opposers
Updated 2/20/2012

Some opponents are calling HB 462 state-sanctioned rape, citing the invasive nature of the ultrasound. 10 On Your Side went to a Chesapeake OB/GYN who specializes in ultrasounds to see the equipment used in the procedure.

When most people think of an ultrasound, they picture a technician rolling a wand over a pregnant woman's abdomen to reveal a fuzzy black and white picture.

But when the patient is fewer than about seven weeks along, doctors can't get the picture using a wand on the stomach.
Under bills passed by Virginia's House and Senate, a woman who wants an abortion would be required to have one of these transvaginal ultrasounds and could then opt to see the images.
Can you imagine what it would be like to be a rape victim and having to be raped again by the government because you want an abortion. Not only that, but the state will not pay for the ultrasound you will have to pay for the invasive test.

The law also requires the doctor to make the test and if you refused to see the results of the test a part of your medical record.
Virginia’s Proposed Ultrasound Law Is an Abomination
Under the new legislation, women who want an abortion will be forcibly penetrated for no medical reason. Where’s the outrage?
By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012

What’s more, a provision of the law that has received almost no media attention would ensure that a certification by the doctor that the patient either did or didn’t “avail herself of the opportunity” to view the ultrasound or listen to the fetal heartbeat will go into the woman’s medical record. Whether she wants it there or not. I guess they were all out of scarlet letters in Richmond.

So the problem is not just that the woman and her physician (the core relationship protected in Roe) no longer matter at all in deciding whether an abortion is proper. It is that the physician is being commandeered by the state to perform a medically unnecessary procedure upon a woman, despite clear ethical directives to the contrary. (There is no evidence at all that the ultrasound is a medical necessity, and nobody attempted to defend it on those grounds.) As an editorial in the Virginian-Pilot put it recently, “Under any other circumstances, forcing an unwilling person to submit to a vaginal probing would be a violation beyond imagining. Requiring a doctor to commit such an act, especially when medically unnecessary, and to submit to an arbitrary waiting period, is to demand an abrogation of medical ethics, if not common decency.”
You remember the Republicans rallying call for less government, let’s get government off our backs. Well it seems only to pertain to the EPA & OSHA, but it is perfectly Okay to bring government in to our most private space of the doctor patient relationship and force a doctor to violate his ethics.

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum said,
Santorum challenges policy on prenatal testing
By Tom Cohen, CNN
February 20, 2012

The government shouldn't make health care providers fully cover prenatal tests like amniocentesis, which can determine the possibility of Down syndrome or other fetal problems, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum said Sunday.
"People have the right to do it, but to have the government force people to provide it free, to me, is a bit loaded," he said.

The former Pennsylvania senator was arguing against what he called a mandate in the health care legislation passed by President Barack Obama and Democrats in 2010. He said Saturday at an appearance in Ohio that the law was intended to increase abortions and reduce overall health care costs.
Look at some of the other laws that Republicans have proposed that attack women…
The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape
New GOP Bill Would Allow Hospitals To Let Women Die Instead Of Having An Abortion
Georgia State Lawmaker Seeks To Redefine Rape Victims As 'Accusers'

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Anniversary John Glenn

NBC News Re-broadcast coverage John Glenn 1962 Space Flight

I remember watching the launch and holding my breath as the rocket took off. The US was not the first in space; we were always following the Russians. But as a result we created so many more innovations in our race to surpass the Russians. I am a firm believer of space exploration, research and engineering created high tech jobs and so many spin-offs that we now take for granted. I think it is a national disgrace that we cannot send an astronaut into space, that now we are at the mercy of other nations to send our astronauts into space. We were always the leaders and now we have to go begging for a ride.

I remember back in the late mid-60s when I went down to Cape Carnival with my parents. My father went down there for a NEA (National Education Association) conference, he was on the Technical Education sub-committee, and my mother and I went along. The highlight of the trip was a tour of the space center. I remember looking at the massive Vehicle Assembly Building and the tour guide said that the building was so vast, that clouds formed inside it. While we were there the crawler that would take the Saturn V out to the launch facility was being tested. I remember how it dwarf the tour bus.

Back then the space program was new; it was a challenge at every step, going where no one had gone before. It inspired dreams. I believe that is what we are now lacking, dreams. The space shuttle and the space program took all that away, it became “Ho, hum”, pedestrian. Sending unman probes might gather reams of data, but it doesn’t inspire dreams. We need man missions first to the moon and then to Mars. The cost would be a fraction of one percent of the budget, but the engineering that it will evolve will be equal to the first space race to the moon. Are we going to cede the moon, Mars and space to the Chinese? I do not like Newt Gingrich, but I thought he was right when he proposed going to the moon and exploring space again.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Are Trans-People Selfish?

I came across this article in the Huffington Post and it made me think. Many people think that we are selfish, but I don’t think that they understand that being transgender is not a choice. When I do diversity training one of the questions I ask the audience is “when did you chose your gender?” I never had one person say that they chose their gender but they always knew their gender. Exactly!

The author, Chris Tina Bruce said,
A word often leveled against transgender people is "selfish" -- selfish for desiring to change our appearance through medical means in order to more closely align our physical appearance with our self-identification of gender. Webster's dictionary defines "selfish" as "concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others." By definition, the transition process is then a selfish act, although being transgender is not inherently selfish. A case could be made that people who smoke, eat fast food, drink alcohol, take recreational drugs, or even lie around the house every day watching television are also being selfish. These actions diminish health and life expectancy, thereby depriving family and friends of a longer, happier, and healthier life with the person indulging in them.
I do not agree with her when she said that “By definition, the transition process is then a selfish act” for many it is literately a choice of life or death. Also should you deny your true self, should you live a life of a lie just to please others? Many of us have spent a lifetime of fighting ourselves; denying our true self until it starts to affect our health. For me, the intern stress was building up to a point where I was having panic attacks 3 or 4 times a year; once I transitioned they went away. The only panic attack that I had since I transitioned back in 2007 was last May when I was written my Capstone paper and worrying about graduation.

Many trans-people fight their trans-ness thinking that they can stop at any time; all it will take is to meet the right person. They think once they get married all this will go away or if I have children I will be become straight. We actually go on purges where we throughout all our clothes and vow never to crossdress again (Never usually lasted for me only a few months.). I grew a beard, but that didn’t stop my desire to be my true self, that felling of wrongness was still there. For those that married, they eventually find out that they still have those feelings and they now have only three choices; they can stay married and lead a life of misery, they can transition or they can end it all. Yes, it is choice to transition, but the alternatives leave little choice, it almost becomes a “Hobson’s Choice.” So are we being selfish?

Also consider that it is really society that put them into this dilemma by the stigma that is tied with being transgender. You feel shame. You feel that you’ll let your family down and that you will lose them if they ever found out that you are trans. You fear the discrimination. You fear the isolation. So you hide in the closet, you deny your feeling, you deny you true self. Your self-esteem and your self-acceptance all go out the window and you start going into the depression spiral. So are we being selfish? Or is it self-preservation?

When I apply to the graduate program at the UConn School of Social Work, I had to write a personal statement, In part I wrote
Before I came out, I lived in fear and shame. I was afraid that someone would find out about my great secret and my self-worth suffered accordingly. In coming out, I leaned self-acceptance and in gaining this acceptance came empowerment. This has become a valuable tool in which to help others. Self-acceptance allows one to not only believe in themselves but that all things are possible – even social change and social justice. I think the Reverend Jesse Jackson said it best in his poem “I am Somebody”-- we are all somebody and we can never forget that.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday 9: I Second That Emotion

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: I Second That Emotion

1. Do you every solicit advise on your love life?
No, but maybe I should

2. What was the last thing you argued with someone about?
About politics.

3. Who do you hate right now?
Hate is an awful strong word; I don’t like people who seem to think they know everything.

4. Who do you love right now?
That’s a secret.

5. Where do you want to be in 6 years?
Above ground and breathing

6. What is your craziest vice?
I don’t know if its crazy, but I’m addicted to the internet.

7. How did you celebrate Valentines Day?
Read and watched TV

8. What is your most unique or fondest memory of a special Valentine's Day?
What’s all these questions about Valentine’s Day… did you read that there are more single people now then ever before. So you want to rub it in or something.

9. Were you in the same location five years ago that you are today? Would you have expected to be?
Yes, and I hope to be in the same place 30 years from now when I’m in my 90s. It’s a nice place to be.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. Finally, I _splurged and bought a new outfit for work _.

2. _The new diet_ sure takes some getting used to!

3. Dad said: _”Be yourself” but I don’t think he really knew what “being myself” meant to me_.

4. _”Di” _ is my favorite nick name for _me_.

5. It took a long time, but _I’m finally there_.

6. _Thank you for the “back handed” compliment_ though I wouldn't have it any other way.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _reading in front of the fire_, tomorrow my plans include _a business meeting_ and Sunday, I want to will be _up at the University of Connecticut in Storrs to take part on a panel discussion_!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My Story Part 106 – Photographs

You give us those nice bright colors
You give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So Mama, don't take my Kodachrome away

I my humble opinion, we love our cameras. When I first came out of the closet I couldn’t take enough pictures of myself as Diana. It was a digital revolution. In the old days with film cameras you had to have them developed at the drug store and run the risk of being recognized. Some took the film to a town far away so they wouldn’t be identified, but all that changed when digital cameras came out. Then you could print the photos on your printers.

I have hundreds of early photos of myself and boy have I changed! Now I rarely take photos of myself, usually only special occasions. So here is a photo journey through time…

Starting in 1998 up at the cottage, this was when I was still closeted, before I went to my first support group…
This was in 1999 when I was going to my first support group, Connecticut Outreach Society.
Then we move to 2000… The COS annual banquet.
2001, back out on the cottage deck.
This was at First Event, a conference that is held every year in the Boston area and the year was 2002.
The 2003 COS Banquet…
Then in 2004 I was at Real Art Ways where this picture was taken.
2005 at a fundraiser for the Imperial Sovereign Court of All of CT…
This photo is from the CTAC Busted fashion show in 2007, followed by…
The 2008 Busted fashion show...
Then in 2009 I helped out at our Lobby Day in the Legislative Office Building…
In 2010 I went out to eat with a friend where she snapped this picture of me…
And finally in 2011 a friend took this picture of me at Fantasia Fair in Provincetown MA. at their banquet.
Noticed how I changed over time and I think for the better.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Why is it that the right wing conservatives have such an excessive fixation on bathrooms? They're so fixated on bathrooms and who goes in them that it seems to me that it is bordering on paranoid. I think that the APA should add a disorder to the DSM V called obsessive bathroom disorder.
What's this obsession with transgender people and bathrooms?
Baltimore Sun
By Dan Rodricks
February 12, 2012

It sounds good, like something all of us would want to join: Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government. But my perusal of the organization's website reveals little more than obsessive concern with transgender people being in society — and having to use, as all of us must at times, public restrooms. The organization suggests that transgender people are just a bunch of perverted, cross-dressing men who want access to women's bathrooms and locker rooms.

Maryland Citizens for a Responsible Government has been fighting state and local efforts to outlaw specific discrimination against the transgendered. Its latest fight is with the Baltimore County Council, which appears to be poised to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance. The organization calls Councilman Tom Quirk's bill "Baltimore County's Dangerous Peeping Tom Law." A handout says the new ordinance will "legally protect cross-dressers and transvestite behavior [and] allow cross-dressing men to enter women's bathrooms and dressing rooms even if they are sexually attracted to women."
Looking at it from a historical perspective, there has never been a case where someone masquerading as a trans-person or a trans-person was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in a bathroom. The first gender inclusive non-discrimination law was passed in Minneapolis, MN in 1975, so these laws are not new. They have been on the books for a very long time, so all the fear that these so called citizens groups are creating is based lies. CBS News reported that
“I do not want my grandkids going into the bathroom where there is a man dressed as a woman going into the bathroom,” said Jackie Auburn.

“We’d be forced to allow men to use ladies’ restrooms, women’s locker rooms, women’s gym dressing rooms at department stores, pools, beaches, women’s clubs and so forth,” said Betty Labrun.

But those wanting the protection the bill affords are quick to rebut that.

“This bill is not a bathroom bill,” said Tom Quirk.

“We live, work and play among you and pay our taxes as well as go into fast food bathrooms and have done so for many decades with no untoward consequences toward others,” said Dana Beyer.
But many of those against spoke of religious objections.

“Woe to those who call good evil and evil good,” said Labrun.
It is only through the  fear of the lies that they have feed about people who are different from themselves that people oppose this law. It is the adults who are opposed to treating everyone the same.

In Maine, a school system had no problem with a transgender student, her transition was going smoothly until a grandparent stepped in to cause trouble.
Fighting for Transgender Student Rights in Maine
February 3, 2012

From her earliest years in her Orono, Maine, elementary school, classmates and teachers treated our client Susan* just like every other girl, even though she originally enrolled with her male birth name. Everyone involved agreed that living consistently with her female gender identity was crucial to Susan’s psychological health and educational success.

But in fifth grade, at the instigation of his grandfather, a male classmate followed Susan into the girls’ restroom and called her a “fag.” No other student had ever been bothered by Susan using the girls’ room. But instead of disciplining the boy, the school denied Susan use of the girls’ room and forced her to use a separate staff bathroom.

This segregation isolated Susan from her peers and sent a harmful message from the school that she wasn’t really a girl. Susan told us it made her feel like a “freak.”
It is the adults who come in and stir up trouble. I am reminded of the song from the play “South Pacific” called "You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught"
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!
That grandfather sure taught his grandson how to all the people your relatives hate. He should be really proud of himself.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Seventh State

Washington State will be the seventh state to have marriage equality joining Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. 42% of Americans now allow either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples. Unfortunately that leaves 58% still being discriminated against.

What were some of the arguments that the opposition used in Washington State?
Truth Needle | Gay-marriage wave of lawsuits claim mostly false
Gay-marriage opponents have said there will be a rash of civil suits against individuals and businesses that don't want to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs. Our Truth Needle concludes that claim is mostly false.
Seattle Times
By Susan Kelleher
February 11, 2012

The claim: Opponents of same-sex marriage in Washington state have said there will be a rash of civil suits against individuals and businesses that don't want to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples because it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
I wrote about conflicts with religious beleifs and the law the other day; that you cannot use religion to violate the law. There are a number of Supreme Court decisions that ruled that you cannot use religion to discriminate. Also the law exempts religious organizations from preforming same-sex marriages.

The article goes on to point that out…
Six other states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage. None has experienced a surge in civil suits against businesses or religious organizations that refuse service to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, a fact acknowledged by even opponents of same-sex marriage.

States that have legalized same-sex marriage seem to have neutralized the potential for suits against religious organizations and religious officials with language that allows those organizations to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages or perform same-sex weddings without being sued for discrimination.
But nothing would change for businesses. They would still have to follow the state's anti-discrimination law, which currently makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, military status or honorable discharge from the military.
Everyone has to obey the law. Substitute any of the protected classes for sexual orientation and most people will agree that you cannot discriminate on religious grounds based on the race of a person. So why do they think it is okay to discriminate because a person’s sexual orientation?

Monday, February 13, 2012

“It's Not Easy Being Green.”

To quote Kermit the Frog, or for us… “It's not easy being trans” especially when you grow old. There are a lot of studies about the elderly LGB community and the effects of aging, but I do not know study that covered the aging trans community. There is some data on elderly trans-people but that data was only collected as part of an overall transgender study and was just a sub-set of the study.

I can’t say that I think about it all the time, but I do think about it. Suppose i want to sell my house and move into an over-55 community, how would I be accepted there? If I had to go into a nursing home in what ward would they put me? Would they follow the law and put me in a women’s ward or would I have to fight for my rights? How would the staff treat me? These are all the questions that I have thought about.

When my aunt was in a nursing home, it was during my transition and I had to tell my aunt about my transition, the nursing home was very supportive. I met with the nursing home manager and social worker beforehand and we came up with a game plan. On Friday I talked with my aunt about my transition and the nursing home had the social worker there with us and also that day the nursing home had a meeting of the supervisors about my transition. on Monday before I came in the afternoon as Diana the nursing home had a meeting of all the staff and told them that I would be coming in as Diana. So the whole transition went smoothly, but I always wondered what would it have been like if I was the patient.

There was an article in the Rainbow Times the aging LGBT populations…
LGBT Seniors Going Back into the Closet
Rainbow Times
Feb 03, 2012

Alarming Challenges of LGBT Senior Population is Focus of New Awareness Campaign
More than a third of the two million LGBT seniors in our nation are clinically depressed, according More than a third of the two million LGBT seniors in our nation report depression and one half have a known disability, according to the recent federally funded Aging and Health Report: Disparities and Resilience among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Older Adults. “It’s the tip of the financial, legal, and emotional iceberg facing our most under-served population, which will double by 2030,” says James Huysman, PsyD, LCSW the CEO of International Caregiver Network (ICN), whose company is competing to become one of the top ten TED Ads Worth Spreading Award honorees and is asking users to support this vital mission through an online voting campaign.
If you read Executive Summary of the report you will find that all most of the report is dedicated LGB with very little research data on the trans-community. In the study out of over 2500 in the survey only 174 were transgender, that is not a lot “T” in the study.

The article goes on to say…
Some of the other findings in the landmark study that are cited include that almost two thirds have been victimized 3 or more times, more than 20% do not disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to their physician, and about one third do not have a will or durable power of attorney for healthcare. For the full study go to the Caring and Aging with Pride project website.
The article and the study says “LGBT” throughout, but what they really mean is LGB. When they talk about the findings of the study they talk about lesbians and gays with no mention about the “Ts”. An example of this is in the report,
Health disparities revealed
Higher rates of disability were found among lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adults, compared with heterosexuals of similar age utilizing state-level population-based information (BRFSS-WA). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adults experience higher rates of mental distress and are more likely to smoke and engage in excessive drinking than heterosexuals. Lesbians and bisexual older women report higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity than heterosexual women, and gay and bisexual older men are more likely to have poor physical health than their heterosexual counterparts.
Hmmm… where’s the “T”? But in the paragraph above it said…
Next, to better understand the risk and protective factors impacting LGBT older adults, we collaborated with eleven community-based agencies across the country serving LGBT older adults to conduct the first national project on LGBT aging and health.
What gets me is how can they say LGBT when there is very little data about the “T”.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

OK, This Is Going To Be Controversial

I know that this posting will be very controversial, many will say that they have rights to discriminate or that laws do not apply to them.

[Rant] The president created a firestorm when he said that insurance should cover birth control for all employees and the Catholic Church went ballistic saying that violated the First Amendment rights. However, religious institution were exempt, but businesses run by religious institution are not exempt. That distinction seems to be overlook. Religious institutions are limited to those who share their beliefs, religious businesses are open to serve the public, not just those who share their beliefs and that is a major difference.

When you serve the public, you have to obey the law, you cannot discriminate who you want employ or serve. A hospital cannot say I will only treat whites, you cannot say you will not treat Muslins, they have to treat all those who walk through their doors. There was a case a number of years ago where a lesbian couple wanted to get married in a pavilion on a boardwalk, the pavilion was owned by a church and they refused to rent it to the couple. The case was heard by New Jersey's Division of Civil Rights and they found that the church was guilty of discrimination.
"Our law against discrimination does not allow [the group] to use those personal preferences, no matter how deeply held, and no matter — even if they're religiously based — as a grounds to discriminate," Lustberg says. "Religion shouldn't be about violating the law."

The Methodist organization responded that it was their property, and the First Amendment protects their right to practice their faith without government intrusion. But Lustberg countered that the pavilion is open to everyone — and therefore the group could no more refuse to accommodate the lesbians than a restaurant owner could refuse to serve a black man. That argument carried the day. The state revoked the organization's tax exemption for the pavilion area. Hoffman figures they will lose $20,000.
The same reasoning applies to requiring religious owned businesses to cover the cost of birth control. In 1990 the Supreme Court heard a case where a person was fired because of their Native American Church’s religious beliefs of peyote being sacrament. He was fired because he failed the drug test and he claimed that it violated the First Amendment right. The case went to the Supreme Court,
Justice Scalia solves the contraception debate
Daily Kos
Adam B
February 10, 2012

But to Justice Scalia and the five justice majority decision in Employment Division v. Smith, the issue of when a person could exempt himself from a generally-applicable law wasn't a tough one at all.
Justice Scalia explained:
We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition. As described succinctly by Justice Frankfurter in Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586, 594-595 (1940):
Conscientious scruples have not, in the course of the long struggle for religious toleration, relieved the individual from obedience to a general law not aimed at the promotion or restriction of religious beliefs. The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities.
(Footnote omitted.) We first had occasion to assert that principle in Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145 (1879), where we rejected the claim that criminal laws against polygamy could not be constitutionally applied to those whose religion commanded the practice. "Laws," we said,
are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices. . . . Can a man excuse his practices to the contrary because of his religious belief? To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.
Id. at 166-167.

Subsequent decisions have consistently held that the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a
valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).
United States v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252, 263, n. 3 (1982) (STEVENS, J., concurring in judgment); see Minersville School Dist. Bd. of Educ. v. Gobitis, supra, 310 U.S. at 595 (collecting cases).
The court also ruled against plaintiffs when they claimed that they shouldn’t have to pay Social Security taxes because they were Amish. The court said,
The obligation to pay the social security tax initially is not fundamentally different from the obligation to pay income taxes; the difference — in theory at least — is that the social security tax revenues are segregated for use only in furtherance of the statutory program. There is no principled way, however, for purposes of this case, to distinguish between general taxes and those imposed under the Social Security Act. If, for example, a religious adherent believes war is a sin, and if a certain percentage of the federal budget can be identified as devoted to war-related activities, such individuals would have a similarly valid claim to be exempt from paying that percentage of the income tax. The tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge the tax system because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief.
The religious right know these court ruling, but they still try to force their religious beliefs on all of us. Consider their argument about not have to give “morning after” pill to rape victims, here in Connecticut all hospitals must offer the morning after pill to rape victims and a Catholic hospital lobbied to be exempt on religious grounds. They said that they should have to give out the pill, it will go against their religious beliefs. If you were a rape victim beating until unconscious and you are taken to the nearest hospital, and you wake up in intensive care fighting for your life. You say you want the morning after pill and they say sorry it is against our religious belief. Or you are pregnant and you pass out and wake up in intensive care, and they tell you that it is either save your baby or your own life… but it against their beliefs to abort the baby. You had no choice, they took you to the nearest emergency room and they made their medical judgments not on the best medical treatment for you, but on their religious beliefs. Or because of a medical condition you have to take birth control pills and your employer says sorry it is against our beliefs to give you the pills because the side effect is that they prevent pregnancy.

When you serve the public or employ the public, you cannot discriminate because of your religious beliefs. You cannot refuse to hire people because their race, their religion, you cannot refuse to hire people because of their gender, gender identity or expression, or their sexual orientation, their disability. When the President said all employers must provide coverage for birth control pills he didn’t single out religious organizations, he applied it to every employer and to exempt religious organizations, I believe is a violation of the First Amendment in giving special rights to certain religious organizations.[/Rant]

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Six Episode 409

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six Episode 409

1. Which single brand of product — any kind of product — have you been loyal to for the longest?
I had a hard time trying to think of a brand that I’m loyal to and the only thing I can think of is Toyota. because I usually shop for price.

2. What is it about that particular brand’s product that has kept you as a customer for so long?
Because I love my Prius, this is my second Prius and I hope to buy my third one this spring. My current Prius has 105,000 mile on it with no problems.

3. Which product that you used to buy by brand name are you most likely to buy generically now?
As I said earlier, I usually shop by price. Quality is also important and I will always go with the cheapest one as long as the quality or taste is there.

4. Do you detect no difference from the brand-name version to the generic version, or was it more a case of cost that made you go generic?
Cost. Being on a fixed income, I have to watch my pennies.

5. If you checked your pantry, which single brand would you have the most products from on your shelves?
Campbell’s soup and I buy those because they’re cheap. When they are on sale you can buy the Tomato or Chicken Noddle soup for $1 a can.

6. Of any kind of product, which brand is one that you feel means high quality despite the fact that you don’t own anything from that particular brand yourself?
I don’t think about brands that much. I think brand names cost more because of all the advertising they do to burn their produce into your brain.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Saturday 9: Indian Reservation

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Indian Reservation

1. Do you enjoy going to a casino now and again?
Once in a great while, I don’t think of it a gambling because I never win. I think of it as entertainment.

2. What makes you happy most of the time?
Helping others.

3. Are you jealous of someone right now?

4. You're stranded on a desert island with one fictional character. Who is it? Why?
James Bond, because he always gets rescued.

5. Have you ever been in the emergency room? If yes, for what (most recently)?
Yes, back in ’99. I thought I was having a heart attack, but it was a panic attack.

6. Where is the last place you drove to just for fun?

7. If you were to make your living as a photographer, what would love to shoot?
Yellowstone National Park, you can spend a live time photographing.

8. Tell us about a band you like that we might not have heard.
I like to listen to folk music, so instead of a band here is folk singer who travels around the country. I saw her down in New Haven…
Stars by Namoli Brennet

9. Where was the last place you went shopping? Why?
The grocery store because I like to eat.

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. When it comes time to make a decision, I _procrastinate a lot_.
2. _One per customer_ that must be the rule.
3. Ma says, _always finish your peas_.
4. _I can’t surf the internet_ at the same time _I’m talking to you_.
5. I never saw _The Artist and that is one movie I’ll like to see_.
6. _Why don’t you use a pen and paper, you know it is_ not a new invention.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _reading_, tomorrow my plans include _laying on the couch in front of the fireplace while it’s snowing_ and Sunday, I want to _go to the mall for a walk because it will be cold outside_!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

This Is Worth Reading...

I came across this article on Feministe and it is worth reading...

This Is What Happened to CeCe

Cece McDonald stood up to bigots and survived a hate crime. Now she’s in the county jail waiting to be tried for second degree murder.

This is a story about intersectionality – what happens when a young trans woman of color goes up against white supremacy, misogyny and transphobia. It’s a story about what happens when you have to fight for your life.

Wacky Bills In New Hampshire

As many of you know, I have a cottage in New Hampshire so I track what is happening in the legislature. Here are some of the wacky laws that have been introduced by the legislators…
House Bill 1580 is the product of such a brainstorming session this summer between three freshman House Republicans: Bob Kingsbury of Laconia, Tim Twombly of Nashua and Lucien Vita of Middleton. The eyebrow-raiser, set to be introduced when the Legislature reconvenes next month, requires legislation to find its origin in an English document crafted in 1215.

"All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived," is the bill's one sentence.
Concord Monitor
Now there is a progress legislation, lets got back to the 1200s for our laws!

Rep. Kyle Jones (R) of Rochester wants to do away with law requiring meal breaks after 6 hours of work.
"This is an unneeded law," Jones said. "If I was to deny one of my employees a break, I would be in a very bad position with the company's human resources representative. If you consider that this is a very easy law to follow in that everyone already does it, then why do we need it? Our constituents have already proven that they have enough common sense to do this on their own."
Concord Monitor
Oh yeah, companies will always do the right thing for their employees. If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Last month the NH Senate passed a bill that even the ultra-conservative Union Leader thought it went too far.
House Bill 542 would have amended state law to “Require school districts to adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course material based on a parent’s or legal guardian’s determination that the material is objectionable.” Though that sounds appealing at first blush, it is so broad that it would make public education essentially an a la carte menu.

It is true that public schools are too inflexible and don’t allow enough choice. They would benefit greatly from the competition that comes from charter schools and vouchers. But this bill put the burden on each public school to create a curriculum catered to each family’s individual tastes. Schools would have to provide alternatives to any instruction a family opposed, and a family could oppose anything for any reason. That is neither workable, nor sensible.
Union leader
The governor vetoed a similar bill and is expected to veto this bill.

Perhaps the worst bills introduced this session would affect domestic violence cases. Two Republican legislators wants to change the domestic violence laws…
New Hampshire lawmakers will also consider two bills on Thursday that would roll back the state's domestic violence laws, which up until now have been the strongest in the country. House Bill 1581, sponsored by state Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont), would prevent law enforcement from being able to immediately arrest an abuser who has assaulted his partner unless the officer has actually witnessed the crime take place. Under current law, the police can arrest an abuser based on probable cause.

"This means that if 911 has been called, and they see a victim who was assaulted and is bleeding, they wouldn't be able to arrest that person unless they went back and got a warrant," explained Amanda Grady, director of public policy for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. "This is how it was in late-'70s before states decided to put victim protections in place."

The other domestic violence bill, House Bill 1608 [Introduced by Rep. Skip Reilly (R)], limits the grounds for which an officer can arrest an abuser who violates a domestic violence protective order. The law enforcement community in New Hampshire, including the Dept. of Safety, Attorney General's office, and Chiefs of Police Association, and domestic violence workers are all vehemently opposed to the bill.

According to state statistics, 38 percent of homicides in 2011 were domestic violence-related, and the vast majority of domestic violence cases were perpetrated by men again women.

"The passage of [these laws] will likely result in further injuries and could possibly have lethal consequences for victims and their children," Grady told HuffPost.
Huffington Post
What are these legislators thinking? Who came up with these bills? Do they even give any thought to introducing these bills? Was it an abuser? It certainly wasn’t the victims or the police.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Discrimination In The Workplace

I came across this article on the New York Times Opinion Page about what the President can do to end discrimination without congressional approval.
What Obama Should Do About Workplace Discrimination
New York Times
Published: February 6, 2012

DynCorp’s new policy [forbidding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity] is a welcome development — but it’s unfortunate that federal law still allows such discrimination. DynCorp has received billions of dollars in federal contracts over the last decade. Why should taxpayer money be used to buy goods and services from companies that permit discrimination based on a worker’s sexual orientation or gender identity?

Making sure taxpayer dollars don’t support companies that discriminate does not require an act of Congress. By issuing an executive order, President Obama can — and should — make nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity a requirement for doing business with the American public.
An executive order banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors might also be the first step toward federal legislation outlawing the same for all employees.
In the past, executive orders setting standards for contractors have not only put an American ideal of equal opportunity into practice; they have also helped show employers that ending discrimination is good for business. Employers who act out of bias waste valuable training and often pass over the best person for the job. In the case of gay and transgender workers, workplace discrimination comes with an added cost to employers, leading other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers to fear disclosure and contributing to stress, illness and lower productivity.
President Obama has already signed an executive order to require any hospital that receives federal aid allow LGBT partners access to their partners when they are hospitalized. He has also banned discrimination against LGBT federal employees.

This would be another step forward for equality, but it does not have the same weight as a law. The next president could just as easy write another executive order banning the employment of LGBT employees, that is why we need to pass a gender inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

The man who was pushing for the voter ID bill in Indiana to stop voter fraud, was convicted on six counts of voter fraud.
Jury finds Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White guilty on 6 of 7 felony charges
Written by Carrie Ritchie
Feb. 4, 2012

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White was convicted of six felonies early this morning, and consequently lost his job.
White, 42, Fishers, plans to ask a judge to reduce his convictions – all class D felonies – to misdemeanors at sentencing. It’s uncertain whether that move would allow him to reclaim his job.
The charges stemmed from confusion over where White lived when he campaigned for secretary of state in late 2009 and 2010. White claimed that he lived at his ex-wife's home on the east side of Fishers. But the jury convicted him based on allegations that he actually lived in a townhouse on the opposite side of town that he bought for him and his then-fiancé. The townhouse was outside his Fishers Town Council district.
Did he vote twice? No, he only didn’t change his voting district; therefore, I think the charges should be reduced to misdemeanors. I have written many times about voter ID laws and how they affect marginalized communities by imposing requirements that create barriers for them to vote.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Another Murder In Washington DC

Another trans-woman was murdered in Washington DC; this brings the total up to 4 in the last 9 months. The Washington Times in an article by Andrea Noble reported that,
A transgender woman died from injuries she suffered when she was stabbed in the head at a bus stop in Northeast, officials said Friday.

The attack occurred around 8 p.m. Thursday at a bus stop near East Capitol and Sycamore streets, Metropolitan Police Department officials said.
Transgender activist Earline Budd, who is among those working with police, said the woman was approached by a man at the bus stop and the two got into an argument. The argument turned physical, at which point the man attacked her.
Meanwhile in New York,
In NYPD Custody, Trans People Get Chained to Fences and Poles
By Anna North
Feb 2, 2012
A trans woman says that when she was arrested for a minor subway violation, NYPD officers belittled her, called her names, asked about her genitals — and kept her chained to a fence for 28 hours. Now she's suing. And it turns out she's far from alone.
Breslauer's suit names the City of New York, Officer Shah, and several other officers as defendants. It accuses them of assault, battery, false imprisonment, and violation of Breslauer's civil rights, and asks for compensatory and punitive damages. And this isn't the first time the NYPD has been accused of mocking and abusing a trans person. In October, Justin Adkins, director of the Multicultural Center at Williams College, was arrested for protesting on the Brooklyn Bridge as part of Occupy Wall Street. At The Bilerico Project, he reports almost exactly the same treatment that Breslauer got. When a male officer found out Adkins was trans, he asked Adkins what he "had down there."…
To paraphrase Kermit the frog, “It’s hard being trans.” Not only do you take your life in your hands every time you go out in public, but those who are sworn to “Serve and Protect” don’t.

I have friend who was vacationing down in Florida with her girlfriend and when they came out of a night club there were four guys who read her as trans and they started calling faggot and other names. As they keep walking by the men and trying to ignore them, one of them grabbed her and started to push her around and then hitting her. When the police arrived the men said that she started, guess who the police believed.

Update 2/7/12 8:14AM : Police Release Video of 'Person of Interest'

Police released video from a nearby traffic camera depicting an individual who is being described as a "person of interest."

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Jobs & The Economy… The Economy & Jobs

Mr. Romney — the Republican front-runner, whom White House officials view as their likely opponent — also faces the danger of looking oddly out of step if he presses ahead, as he did on Friday, with his accusation that Mr. Obama had made the recession worse.

“This recovery has been slower than it should have been. People have been suffering for longer than they should have had to suffer,” Mr. Romney said, at a supply company in Sparks, Nev., before Saturday’s caucus in that state. “Will it get better? I think it’ll get better,” he added. “But this president has not helped the process. He’s hurt it.”
New York Times
That was what Romney said after the January unemployment rates came out on Friday. The Republicans candidates are running on who can beat President Obama in November, if you look at the polling data you will see that the most important thing for the voters in the primaries is who can beat the President. Why? Because they know that they can’t run against him on the economy and jobs. The Democrats create jobs and stimulate the economy and the Republicans create unemployment and ruin the economy. Don’t believe me? Well take a look at the data…

Take a look at this graph of the last year of President Bush’s administration and the three years of President Obama’s administration. Notice how by the end of President Bush’s administration there was a loss of 800,000 jobs in November and over 600,000 jobs in December. And President Obama has turned this around and created over 200,000 jobs last month.

Take a look at this graph of the unemployment rate over the years…

Look at the spike during President Regan’s term, he does bring the unemployment rate down by the time he leaves office, but it spikes again during President George H. Bush’s administration. It is during President Clinton administration that the unemployment rate comes down to its lowest level since the Johnson’s administration. Then it spikes again during President George W. Bush’s administration and now it is slowly coming back down again.

The economy is much better off since President George W. Bush’s administration, look at the GNP

Notice how President Obama has turned the economy around.

This graph is the Dow Jones Industrial Average, notice how we are digging out from the crash at the end of President Bush’s administration.

Let’s take a look at the national debit

Notice how the debit increased under Presidents Regan, George M. Bush, and George W. Bush and it decreased President Clinton who actually had a budget surplus by the time he left office. Then it sky rocketed under President George W. Bush when he gave tax cuts to the mega rich. President Obama tried to repeal the tax cut for the millionaires and billionaires but was stymied by the Republican controlled House and as a result the deficit keeps climbing.

Romney said he can make it better by continuing the tax cuts for billionaires and millionaires like himself. Well we have seen where that will lead us. The Republicans have blocked President Obama job imitative bill and we are now seeing the results of them blocking the bill, cities and towns throughout Connecticut are laying teachers, police officers, fire personnel and closing schools. Cities and towns are over taxed and they are forced to cut essential services. Instead we need to put people to work fixing bridges, building infrastructure, hiring teachers, police officers and fire personnel. We need to rebuild America.

President Regan asked the famous question, “Are you better off now?” The answer for many people is still no. But the change is in the wind and for others there is light at the end of the tunnel.