Saturday, June 30, 2012

Saturday 9: Just Like a Pill

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Just Like a Pill

1. What was the last pill your doctor prescribed?  Why?
It was a pill but a needle, Victoza for diabetes.

2. How well do you swim?
About 10 feet and I can trend water for about 5.

3. Who has a big mouth that you like?
No one, I don’t like big mouths

4. Do you believe in political correctness?
One person’s political correctness is another social justice. Usually when a person claims it is political correctness, it is at another person’s expense.

5. Do you ever patronize people?

6. Do you or someone you know strive constantly to be perfect?
I don’t but I know someone who does.

7. What song are you totally sick of and why?
I don’t know, I don’t listen much to the radio any more, it is mostly my mpg3 player and it has songs that I like.

8. How old were you when you got cocky? Or did you never go there?
I never got cocky because if I did someone would have probably beat it out of me.

9. When you compete with someone, have you ever gotten hostile?
I don’t compete. More can be accomplished by cooperation.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins
1. So I _asked her if she heard about Sue_!
2. On the other hand, _it is hard to believe what happened without having been there_.
3. There is _a little embellishment I think in her story_.
4. _Tiramisu _ is my favorite birthday dessert, but alas, I can no longer have it.
5. What represents happiness to me: _is being with family_.
6. As Dave (my SO) says, the early bird _takes a nap in the afternoon_.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _watching a movie_, tomorrow my plans include _having someone come over and take my parents stuff from my basement to sell on commission_ and Sunday, I want to _watch the America’s Cup races on TV_!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

My Story Part 124 – Happy Birthday

This week marks my 5th year since I transitioned. I wish that I could report some earth shattering observations or revelations, but I can’t. All I can report is life has been less stressful and I have been able to “get a life” instead of hiding at home and worrying about discovery. I suppose that in itself is important, that my quality of life has drastically improved

When I had to write my “Personal Statement” to apply for grad school, I wrote
“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 self-acceptance and self-esteem are the keys. Whether you transition or not, self-acceptance reduces the agony and stress of being transgender. When I first went out in public, I was scared of what other people would think, I was worried about what they will say or do and as a result I had that “deer in the headlight” look, ready to bolt at the slightest hint of trouble. Now I don’t care what strangers say because they are the ones with the problem not me.

It hasn’t been easy, there were a lot of ups and downs, there were a lot of nights crying myself to sleep and there were many of times when I doubted that I was on the right path. But as Tom Hank 's character Jimmy Dugan says in A League Of Their Own, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great." In the end it made me a stronger person.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Busy Day Today

Every once in a while one of those days will happen when I something to going on all day.
  • 9 – 10:30 Meeting in New Haven at Yale to review the HIV/AIDS study of the trans-community in Hartford that I worked on as a part of a grant to the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition (CTAC) and the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective (HGLHC)
  • Killing time between meetings
  • Noon – 1:00 Business lunch in West Haven to discuss doing consulting work for a HR company.
  • 6 – 8 Outreach at a local college in Hartford
  • 8 – 10 COS meeting
So I only have a few hours for myself in the afternoon, maybe I can go out and walk my 2 miles for the day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

That Was Who?

Did you ever find out after you were at an event that the person that you shared a cab with and spent the night chatting with was a celebrity? Well, it happened to me. I was down in Washington DC to lobby for the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime law and ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) in 2007. We were sitting around in the hotel bar and talking before we went to the reception, when we were getting ready to go to the reception, this woman asked if we wanted to share a cab to the reception and we all piled into the taxi. Over the course of the three days when our paths crossed we chatted and on the last day when we were leaving, something was said that set off a little light in the back of my head… I heard that name before, where did I hear it? When I got home, I googled her name, Jennifer Leitham.
Jennifer Leitham (born August 10, 1953) is an American musician and double bass player. Being left-handed, she has also used the nicknames "Lefty" or "The Southpaw”
An active live performer, Leitham has been bassist on more than 100 recordings including eight of her own. She is known for long associations with Mel Torme and Doc Severinsen. She has also appeared with Woody Herman, George Shearing, Gerry Mulligan, Peggy Lee, Joe Pass, Cleo Laine, Louis Bellson, Pete Rugolo, Bill Watrous and been a member of the Tonight Show All-Stars, The Woody Herman Thundering Herd, the Benny Carter Quintet, and the Bob Cooper Quartet.
Now she has an award winning documentary out, “I Stand Corrected,” it won the “Best Film” American Documentary Film Festival and other award at film festivals from around the country.
Watch Jennifer Leitham perform and it’s instantly obvious the tall striking redhead is an original. This world-famous jazz bassist plays her instrument left handed (something virtually unheard of in the profession) and when she takes center-stage – standing to play rather than sitting – her entire body seems to dance with the bass as her mane of long, fiery hair whips and bobs to the blistering pace set by her fingers. She is a special talent made all the more unique because Jennifer Leitham began her life and career when she was known as John Leitham.

Monday, June 25, 2012

We Are The Ambassadors…

Whether you like it or not, we are the ambassadors for the trans-community. I have written many times about how when we go out in public, people are not only judging us but also the trans-community. We don’t choose to be the ambassadors for the trans-community, but for many people we may be the first trans-person that they see and they will form an opinion of trans-people in general based on our behavior.
Gay Activists Flip Off Ronald Reagan Portrait At White House
Huffington Post
By Patrick Svitek
Posted: 06/22/2012 

If several raised fingers are any indication, some LGBT activists who visited the White House last week are fully evolved on what they think of President Ronald Reagan.

In a photo, removed from her Facebook page Friday afternoon (but posted here by the Philly Post), Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss is pictured waving two middle fingers at Reagan's presidential portrait. She did, at least, have the courtesy to tag Reagan in the photo.

Strauss joined Matty Hart, national director of public engagement at Solutions for Progress, in using the White House's 2012 LGBT pride reception to express his distaste for the late Republican president. On Friday, Hart posted a similar photo on Facebook, accompanied by a certain four-letter word and the ex-commander in chief's last name.
Now do you think that the public make a distinction between the individual and the LGBT community? What they did reflects on the whole LGBT community, people see that and conclude that we are all like them. You cannot separate your action from the community, you may feel that they are separate but the people who view your actions do not, they judge the whole community by your actions.
"I have friends who work in that building," Segal [Philadelphia Gay News publisher] told the Philly Post. "I'm not going to do something that could embarrass them or that could somehow damage a campaign that is so important. 'Be on your best behavior,' my staff told me. I think they know me too well."
The White House released a statement Friday saying…
“While the White House does not control the conduct of guests at receptions, we certainly expect that all attendees conduct themselves in a respectful manner. Most all do. These individuals clearly did not. Behavior like this doesn’t belong anywhere, least of all in the White House.”
You can let your hair down when you are not out in public, but once you step out the door you wear the cloak of ambassador for the trans-community. I know it sucks, but that is just human nature.

A few months back, I read an article that a trans-woman was arrested for indecent exposure at a mall. What did she do, she sat down with a skirt on and she had her legs apart, probably in typical male fashion, and she was arrested. It became the leading topic on all the conservative blogs.

Two weeks ago I was at a business seminar with big corporate types and a number of VPs from a major insurance company were there (I was there as a guest of a LGBT chamber of commerce, which was there as a guest of one of the sponsoring companies). And like other corporate functions they had their camera crews there taking photos of the invited guests. I think everyone of the photographers there snapped a photo of me talking to other atendees. Why do you think they photographed me? Could it have been because they wanted to show how diverse a corporation they are? “Look, see we even have transgender people at our events!” I never wanted to be in the spotlight there, I wanted to hear the topic of the seminar, starting a small business.

Unless you want to sit in a corner and hide all the time, you will be in the spotlight and you will be the ambassador to the trans-community. You can deny it all you want and say I’m not, but you and the community are being judged by your actions.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs...

In today’s economy you hear it is all about jobs and how the unemployment rate is 8.2 percent unless you are transgender then it is over 13% and if you are trans and a minority it is even higher, if you are Black (26%), Latino (18%) and Multiracial (17%)*. Only 16 states and the District of Columbia provide employment protection for trans-people, in all the other states you can be fired for being transgender.

That leads me to an article in the Atlantic …
Transgender Rights in the Workplace Are Still Unclear
It's illegal to fire employees because of their sex. But switching genders can still cost people their jobs.
The Atlantic
By Julie Turkewitz
June 21, 2012

In fall 2007, Vandy Beth Glenn was a bill editor working beneath the gilded gold dome of the Georgia capitol building. For the past two years, she had been transitioning from life as a man to one as a woman, attending therapy, taking hormones, and often presenting as a woman in her liberal Decatur neighborhood. In her office, though, she was still presenting as a man, albeit a fractured one.

"It reached the point where I couldn't continue to do that anymore. It was more and more cumbersome to have one identity at home and a different identity at work, when you're not a superhero," said Glenn, a former Navy officer. "So I informed my boss of my transition."
Like many other trans-people she was fired and has been unable to find a job. As a result she is living off of her life savings. Even with non-discrimination laws, it is still very hard to find a job if you are trans, they have a thousand reasons that they can use to explain why they didn’t hire you or they just sorry the job opening was just filled.

Early on when we were trying to pass the Connecticut gender inclusive anti-discrimination law many of the legislators thought that we were covered by the sexual orientation laws and we had to educate them that we were not covered by the law The article points out that this just was not a misunderstanding for legislators, only but also the general public.
Nine out of ten Americans mistakenly believe that there is a federal law that prohibits employers from firing someone because the individual is gay or transgender. But no such law exists, and this type of discrimination is legal in the majority of states.
But this is all changing slowly; there have been a number of court cases that have ruled the we are covered under various federal laws, including the Civil Rights Act Title VII and the 14th Amendment…
For years, it's been unclear if transgender people are protected under Title VII provisions that bar discrimination against people based on sex. That ambiguity has left the nation's approximately 700,000 transgender people in legal limbo, relying on the good graces of employers, landlords, restaurant employees, school principals, and others to permit them to live, work, learn and play like the rest of the country.

Then in December 2011, the 11th circuit court, which covers Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida, ruled in Glenn's case against Sewell Brumby: Title VII indeed outlaws discrimination against transgender workers. Similar decisions had been made in other circuits, but this was the most conservative court to do so.
This resulted in April where the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled in a 5-0 decision that an employer who discriminates against a transgender employee or job applicant because of the person’s gender identity is illegal sex discrimination based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

However, even with all these advances the court rulings have never been brought before the Supreme Court and the rulings could be overturned at any time. In addition, EEOC policy and other government policies can be easily changed if another president is elected. What we need to do is pass a gender inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) and also we should be working toward adding gender identity and expression  and sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act.

But untimely it is as Vandy Beth Glenn said…
"I applaud anti-discrimination laws, and I'm glad when they pass, wherever they pass," she said. "But I think that the answer is most likely not going to be from legislation or the court, it's just going to be a natural evolution of society. It's just going to get to a point where it won't occur to people to treat any class of people poorly."
It is through education that change comes about.

*2009 National Transgender Discrimination Survey

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Six Episode #428

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six Episode #428

1. Do you currently subscribe to any newspaper, local or national?
Yes, to the local paper, the Hartford Courant and the local free weekly newspaper.

2. How often do you actually read a newspaper, online or print?
Daily and I use Google News for the headlines from around the world. If an article looks interesting, then I go to the page.

3. Do you ever clip coupons from a newspaper to use in stores?

4. Which section of the newspaper do you usually read before anything else?
My little touch of OCD, is that I read the paper in order.

5. Which section of the newspaper would you say is your favorite?
The local town news. After all I have to keep up with the local gossip.

6. Have you ever written a letter to the editor and, if so, was it published?
Yes, many times and I had a number of them published. The last one was in reply to an opinion piece about changing the state constitution to allow ballot questions and to allow recall of legislators. I am against it. We elect our legislators every 2 years and to allow a recall election on the odd year is stupid. And ballot questions are just special interest groups who are usually trying to take away rights. As I wrote in the letter,
Ballot initiatives are really referendums for special interest groups. Mr. ___________ writes about Maine's ballot initiatives. Maine's initiative for marriage equality brought in millions of dollars both for and against the initiative from out-of-state sources and one of the organizations that was against same-sex marriage still has not released their list of donors as required by law. In California, the king of ballot initiatives, in 2008 they had 14 ballot questions and one of them had been on the ballot eight times. Proposition 8 raised $24 million dollars from out-of-state special interest groups.

Here in Connecticut we already have the best recall system: We vote every two years.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saturday 9: Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind

1. Do you ever have trouble making up your mind?
Yes, with some things and there are always doubt afterward.

2. Do you think you always learn from your mistakes?
Yes, if you can figure out what went wrong.

3. Have you ever felt that you were either older or younger, for your age during a particular time?
Yes, I few twenty year older than my age.

4. Have you had trouble losing weight?
No, I found it very easy to lose weight… then I found out it was because of diabetes.

5. Who's the most "wholesome" rock artist that you like?
Ricky Nelson and Glen Campbell

6. Do you like to party or are you more of a homebody?

7. Do you feel the need to share your burdens?
Yes, that is what friends and families are for.

8. Do you know the lady next door? (yes, you can pick either side.)
Nope, not since they cut down the tree in my yard so their son could ride a dirt bike around their backyard.

9. Do you ever feel inferior?
Yes, most of the time. That is what society tries to do to people who don’t conform.

There was no Friday Fill-ins today... :(
But I suppose it was OK since it is her birthday today

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Another Day At The Beach

Last night I went out with my brother and  sister-in-law to Arundel Wharf restaurant in Kennebunkport. The restaurant sits right over the Kennebunk River in the harbor. The food was delicious as usual, I had "Stuffed Haddock - A stuffing full of seafood and topped with lobster sauce."

While we were eating, we watched the Schooner Eleanor and the Ketch Pineapple coming back to port after their 2 hour cruises. They motored right by the restaurant. Some day I would love to take a 3 or 4 day windjammer cruise up the Maine coast.

Today I went back to the beach that I was at yesterday this time with my brother and sister-in-law and my brother snapped this picture...

It was a little cooler today than yesterday and there was a strong sea-breeze blowing which made it seem even cooler and there were fewer people there today.

My Story Part 123 – That Will Be $1300 Please

In the summer of 2004 I realized that it went a lot deeper than the clothes, that it was something that I felt deep inside me and I sought professional help. Or to put it another way, I went to the gatekeepers. You see for us to get hormones we have to see a therapist first to make sure we are not crazy so that they can then diagnose us with a mental disorder so that we can start on hormones.

I had been attending support groups since 2000, at first I was just going to the Connecticut Outreach Society meetings. Besides the meeting we went out to stores that would open up for us at night to have a meeting there and buy clothes or we would go out to dinner or see a play together.

I was slowly realizing that I could go out in public without anything bad happening to me; people just seemed to not care. I started overcoming my fears and realized that transition was doable. That was when I started going to the Twenty Club which is a support group for transsexual as opposed to COS which is for transgender people which included transsexuals and crossdressers.

At the meetings I listened, I think that for the first year all I did was listening to what others people who were transitioning were going through. Where the pitfalls were, what worked, what didn’t. At the same time I was going out more as Diana and building my confidence. I learned what therapists were good and those that were not. I learned what hormones and other pills that they were taking and what the dangers were in taking them.

I decided to go to the Gender Identity Clinic of New England. It was kind like one stop shopping. They had a psychologist, a psychiatrist and an endocrinologist all under one roof. My first appointment was with the psychologist and she had me take a number of tests such as the MMPI and an IQ test. When we got to the word association part, I started giggling… it was so Freudian. I was sitting in a big overstuffed chair saying “up” to her “down”, big, small… All she really needed was bead and a cigar.

Next they sent me to the endocrinologist to do a physical to see if I could do the hormones and then it was to the psychiatrist who spent 15 minutes with me just chatting.

After three months I went before the full board. I imagined them sitting on a raised benched with somber robes, passing judgment on me. Instead they we sitting in ordinary living room type chairs, I sat down and they said that they saw no reason why I couldn’t start hormones… by the way, that will be $1300 please. And that was that, I got my prescription and walked out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beach Day

I was down at the beach all day reading my Kindle, wading out in the ocean, reading, playing solitaire on the Kindle, wading...

This is looking down toward Kennebunkport. Off in the distance you can gee some sailboat playing.

Me coming back from a dip in the ocean.

And this is the wild roses along the beach.
I think I'm going to sleep good tonight from all the sun and salt air.

I’m Up In Maine Today

I needed to get away for a while, so I went up to my brother’s and sister-in-law’s in Maine. Today I plan as a beach day, just relax on Parson’s Beach and soak up some sun. Then later on I just might go for a walk at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Basically it will be a do nothing day.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Part 2 - I’ll Promise You A Rose Garden…

Yesterday I wrote about how we have to balance the budget, spend wisely and not use an ax, but a scapula to cut the budget. Today I want to write about how austerity programs worked in other countries around the world and past administrations.

In an opinion article in the CT News Junkie by Susan Bigelow, she wrote…
All that the plans of indiscriminate budget cutters will do is drive us deeper into economic pain. The economic crisis of 2008 was a terrible storm, and we’re still trying to rebuild. Cutting back on government spending now would add to our burdens, not relieve them.

If you want proof, take a look across the water. European nations, faced with an unprecedented fiscal crisis, decided to embrace austerity. Their economic implosion is being felt here, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon. The United Kingdom recently fell back into recession. Budget cuts are clearly not working there.

Austerity seems like a great idea at first. After all, that’s what we do when times are tough, right? We tighten our belts. But government isn’t like a single household or small business. Governments interact in complex ways with the economy and society, and cutting back indiscriminately can be a disaster.

This should be obvious: government jobs aren’t a special category of job that somehow is walled off from the rest of the economy. Cutting workers leads to unemployment. Slashing salaries means fewer dollars available to buy from stores. Constant budget cuts means we can’t rebuild our cities when disaster strikes. Slashing funds for libraries, schools, and social services means our workforce is less and less prepared to deal with changing conditions, and our society becomes a little more than a shadow of what it could have been.
So what works?

Well I think we need to spend more on rebuilding our infrastructure. We need fix our bridges before they collapse, look at the Tappan Zee Bridge…
Since 2002, the bridge's ratings slipped in five of 11 categories, according to Federal Highway Administration reports.

In three critical categories for evaluating the span's safety — roadway deck, superstructure and substructure — the Tappan Zee is rated "poor," receiving grades of 4 on a scale of zero to 9. A report due later this year will show no improvement, a state official said.

And in a dramatic example of continuing decay, last week a hole, known as a "punch-through," opened up in the deck, marking at least the second time since February that pieces of the roadway fell into the Hudson River below.
That was written in 2005 and still nothing has been done. And there are thousands of other bridges like that around the country. We do not need any more Mianus River Bridge or the Minneapolis I-35W Bridge collapses. We need to spend money on construction projects for infrastructure around the country.

During the Bush administration the “supply siders” said that if you cut taxes and cut spending that the economy will grow and that in turn will increase tax revenue. Well that didn’t happen, instead it turned around and bit us in the ass. In October 2008 the stock market collapsed and took the economy with it. We went from a budget surplus to one of the largest budget deficits in history during his administration.

I believe that we do have to cut the budget, but at the same time we have to increase taxes. We have to spend more wisely. When the government spends money, it generates more money because of what is commonly called “priming the pump,” a theory developed by John Keynes, this is from the “wiseGEEK"
In Keynes' theory, one person's spending goes towards another person's earnings, and when that person spends his or her earnings, he or she is, in effect, supporting another person's earnings. This cycle continues on and helps support a normal, functioning economy. When the Great Depression hit, people's natural reaction was to hoard their money. Under Keynes' theory, this stopped the circular flow of money, keeping the economy at a standstill.

Keynes' solution to this poor economic state was to "prime the pump." He argued that the government should step in to increase spending, either by increasing the money supply or by actually buying things itself. During the Great Depression, however, this was not a popular solution. It is said, however, that the massive defense spending that United States president Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated helped revive the U.S. economy.
In today’s economy, money is being horded by the billionaires and millionaires while the middle class is being squeezed. The middle class is what stimulates our economy with their buying on refrigerators, cars, and televisions and when they cut back on spending the economy shrinks. Since 1990 the CEO pay has increased by 298.2% while the average pay for production workers rose by only 4.3% which didn’t even keep up with inflation. (source: Business Insider)

(All graphs are from the Business Insider)

The only other time when the gap was as great as it is now was during the Roaring Twenties and the era of the Robber Barons. During the fifties and sixties when our economy grew by leaps and bounds the highest tax rate were between 70 – 90% compared today’s highest tax bracket of 35%.

Take a look at this graph 

Supply Side Economic does not work. It didn’t work for President Regan, it didn’t work for President Bush and it will not work for Romney.

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith wrote that,
"Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows." Galbraith claimed that the horse and sparrow theory was partly to blame for the Panic of 1896." (source: Wikipedia)

Monday, June 18, 2012

I’ll Promise You A Rose Garden…

You have all heard the campaign ads… “I promise to reform [fill-in the blank: Medicare, Social Security or welfare]” or “I promise to balance the budget without raising taxes”

The question you should be asking is “how?” What are they going to cut? What are they going to change? And you should also realize that for every act there is a reaction. Ask yourself, what will the consequences of cutting the budget? What will a smaller federal budget mean? Will one of the trickle down effects be more local taxes or classrooms with maybe there will 30 – 35 students per classroom instead of 20 students per classroom. Will it mean cutting the fire department and police force? Will it mean that the bridge that is crumbling will not get fixed? It definitely will mean higher unemployment.

Last week I wrote about the statement that President Obama made about the economy that the Republicans jumped all over, how the rise in unemployment is due to the rise in state and local government layoffs. The gains in the private sector were offset by the losses in the public sector.

I believe that the budget has to be balanced in the long run, but I disagree with the Republicans on how. I believe that we have to raise taxes on the rich and super rich. I believe that we have to use the budget ax very carefully. For example, we need to spend money to fix our infrastructure and we need to take the cap off of Social Security. Right now cap to contributions to Social Security is $110,000, if you make under $110,000 you pay 4.2% of your income, but if you make $1,000,000 you pay only 0.4% and if you make $10,000,000 it is only 0.04%. That limit should be taken off and also there should be a limit to how much you collected from Social Security based on your income. Someone who has a retirement income of $50,000 or more should have their Social Security benefits cut.

There is a theory that I subscribe to, Keynesian Economic Theory, which is called commonly “Priming the Pump.”
In particular, he concluded that classical economics rested on a fundamental error. It assumed, mistakenly, that the balance between supply and demand would ensure full employment. On the contrary, in Keynes's view, the economy was chronically unstable and subject to fluctuations, and supply and demand could well balance out at an equilibrium that did not deliver full employment. The reasons were inadequate investment and over-saving, both rooted in the psychology of uncertainty.

The solution to this conundrum was seemingly simple: Replace the missing private investment with public investment, financed by deliberate deficits. The government would borrow money to spend on such things as public works; and that deficit spending, in turn, would create jobs and increase purchasing power. Striving to balance the government's budget during a slump would make things worse, not better. In order to make his argument, Keynes deployed a range of new tools—standardized national income accounting (which led to the basic concept of gross national product), the concept of aggregate demand, and the multiplier (people receiving government money for public-works jobs will spend money, which will create new jobs). Keynes's analysis laid the basis for the field of macroeconomics, which treats the economy as a whole and focuses on government's use of fiscal policy—spending, deficits, and tax. These tools could be used to manage aggregate demand and thus ensure full employment. As a corollary, the government would cut back its spending during times of recovery and expansion. (From PBS)
As I wrote that this doesn’t mean that we cannot balance the budget, what it means is that we cannot do it by just cuts, that we also need to increase taxes. We need to spend in some areas to stimulate the economy and cut the waste in the budget. We need to protect our “safety nets” and not cut programs such as head start and prenatal care and that we need to tax those who can afford it, the billionaires and millionaires. It the middle class that supports the economy and their disposable income.

Tomorrow, part 2 where I will look at how austerity programs worked in other countries around the world.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

MBE Is Awarded to April Ashley

As every America knows the MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) is award by the Queen of England…
British Honours are awarded on merit, for exceptional achievement or service. The Queen chooses the recipients of Honours on the advice of the Prime Minister and other relevant ministers, to whom recommendations are made by their departments or members of the public. Private nominations - those made by individuals or by representatives of organisations to the Prime Minister's Office - account for about a quarter of all recommendations. Honorary awards to foreigners are recommended by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and certain of the orders of chivalry are conferred on the sole personal decision of the Sovereign (the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Thistle, the Order of Merit and the Royal Victorian Order).
British Embassy – Washington DC
This year MBE was awarded to April Ashley,

April MBE: transsexual crusader is honoured

She made headlines for her love life, but April Ashley has never stopped fighting to win equality for others like herself

The Independent
Matthew Bell
June 17, 2012

She was born George Jamieson in the Liverpool docks, but later modelled for Vogue and seduced Omar Sharif. Now, in the latest chapter of an extraordinary life, April Ashley, the first Briton to have a sex change, has been awarded the MBE for services to transgender equality.

The recognition in the Queen's Birthday Honours has thrilled the 77-year-old. "It's unbelievable and wonderful and especially fantastic to receive it in the year of Her Majesty's Jubilee," she said yesterday, at home in Fulham, south-west London. She declined to speak until she had finished watching the Trooping of the Colour.
The status of transsexuals was left in this awkward limbo until as recently as 2004, with the introduction of the Gender Recognition Act, which allows a person legally to be recognised as the gender they are reassigned to. The MBE recognises Ashley's work campaigning for the law to change. In the last decade, she wrote to Tony Blair and Lord Falconer, then Lord Chancellor, asking for her birth certificate to identify her as a woman. "They said: 'Be patient', and eventually the law did change. I got my new birth certificate finally in 2005."
We should always remember those who blazed the trail before us. People like April Ashley, Christine Jorgenson, Caroline Cossey, Virginia Prince and Lou Sullivan who made life a little easier for us who followed.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Six Episode #427

Patrick’s place Saturday Six Episode #427

1. Which word have you heard entirely too much this past week?

2. Which word have you not heard enough this week?
Actually it is the phase, “This is what I want to do to fix it.”

3. Which word do you wish everyone would learn how to spell correctly?
No comment. I am the world’s worst speller.

4. Which word do you wish everyone would learn how to pronounce correctly?
I mispronounce them all. I was in Rhode Island Thursday and for the life of me I couldn’t pronounce Quahog. I can pronounce it right if I don’t see it in print, but when it is printed on the menu I get tongue tied.

5. Which word would you like to ban completely?

6. Which words do you have more trouble saying: I’m sorry or Thank you?
I don’t have trouble saying either one.

Saturday 9: Hot Fun In the Summertime

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Hot Fun In the Summertime

1. What do you have planned for fun in the summertime?
I’m going to visit some friends out on Long Island one weekend in July and at the end of July I’m going to a folk music festival up in New York for a day. Plus hanging out up at the lake house in New Hampshire.

2. Who was the last celebrity that you thought was bright until you saw them interviewed?
I have no interesting in anything that celebrities do or don’t do.

3. Do you think that the U.S. and our present war(s) seem to just ignore our history?
Well I don’t know how to answer that, ignore them in what way? I do think that our past history lead us to where we are today. Our treatment of the Middle East throughout history resulted in the wars we are fighting today.

4. Have you ever conformed just to "fit in"?
Who me? Do I look like that I fit in? Yesterday, I was at a seminar that was for “start-up” small businesses, out of 300 people there do you know how many 6 foot trans-women where there?

5. Do you feel that you at times do not enjoy the moment because you are worried about what will come next?
Yes. My health has taken a turn for the worst, I was diagnosed with Diabetes in January and I have many complications that are associated with the disease (and they are not fun).
6. Does it seem that when you learn more about yourself, that others' opinions of you seem stupid?
Well yes, many people judge me without knowing me and feel that they have to express their views.

7. In rock & roll history, what bands or artists do you think made the biggest impact?
I was trying to think what bands had the biggest impact and I can’t name any 3 or 4 bands that had the most impact. But I think that it was an era that had the biggest impact, that it was the late 60’s and early 70’s that had the most impact on today’s music (But then I’m a little biased).

8. Who do you blame for the state of the economy? Why?
The Republicans, their “trickle down” theory didn’t work for President Regan and it didn’t work for President Bush and it won’t work for Romney. It is the middle class that drive the economy; they buy the televisions, the refrigerators, the cars, not the millionaires or billionaires. After all home many refrigerators can they buy? 20 or 30 for all their mansions compared to millions of middle class households.

9. Do you get upset and do you think you're being lazy when you do nothing?
No. But I should get out and exercise more.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. It's always nice when _you stop by_!
2. I like to hear _encouraging words from you_.
3. Positive _cash flow makes me happy_; negative _cash flow however is the norm_.
4. This is _ridiculous_.
5. What I heard _is very scary_.
6. Often, I search _using Google_.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _relaxing_, tomorrow my plans include _going to the coffee shop_ and Sunday, I want to _visit some friends_!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My New Toy

As many of you know, I like photography and I just bought a new lens. A Bower 500mm f8.0 manual fixed lens for only $119. So what does it do you ask?

Well today I went on a “Staycation” down to Mystic CT and then over to Point Judith RI for lunch at Aunt Carrie’s and I brought along my new lens…

This is a photo of the Joseph Conrad with a 300mm telephoto lens…

And this is my new 500mm telephoto lens…

This is also with the news lens of Old Mystic Seaport Harbor Lighthouse (you can see it on the right side of the top photo).

This is a photo of the Point Judith lighthouse with the 300mm lens

And this with the 500mm lens.

My Story Part 122 – Coming Out Of The Closet

I can remember when I made the decision to come out of the closet very vividly, it was somewhere around 3 in the morning laying in the emergency room at the local hospital.

The day started off just like any other day, but in the afternoon I got into a shouting match with my boss in the hallway at work. He wanted me to step up the testing of a product that we had in the test department so that we could ship out the system on schedule. I was telling him that we can’t because all the parts were not in house yet and the conversation got rather heated (it turned out that the parts did come in and we shipped it on schedule). That night when I got home from work I mowed the lawn in the 90+ heat. After I finished mowing the lawn, I had some strong tea (a lot of caffeine) during dinner. After dinner I had a chocolate cake (Pepperidge Farm’s Death by Chocolate), a beer and smoked a joint while watching the Red Socks game.

While I was watching the game I started feeling light headed, like I was going to faint. I checked my pulse and it was rapidly going thump, thump, thump…… thump…… thump…… thump, thump. It was very erratic and it was 147 beats per minute and pausing.

Between the time that I called 911 and the ambulance came, I changed from Diana back to my male clothes.

At the hospital the doctor asked me…
Did I have a stressful day… yes.
Did I have any soda, coffee or tea… yes
Did I have any alcohol… yes
Did I smoke any marijuana… yes
Did I take any other drugs… no

He said that I was stressed out, over stimulated and dehydrated and they wanted me to stay over night for observation.

That night in the emergency room staring at the ceiling all night, I realized that life was too short and that I wasn’t going to hide any more. A few months later I went to my first support group meeting.

Epilog: I was diagnosed with a form of an arrhythmia where I sometimes get two beats for one. They said sometime about short circuit with the nerves and I take a beta blocker for it. It is usually under control, but sometimes I can feel my heart skip a beat when I’m stressed or dehydrated. It can be a little unnerving sometimes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ENDA – It Is That Time Again

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) Senate hearing started yesterday.
Man tells senators transgender people 'lose their careers' when people find out
The Republic
By Jamie Goldberg
June 12, 2012

WASHINGTON — When Kylar Broadus told his employer he would be making a gender transition from a woman to a man, he was harassed and ultimately forced out of his well-paying job at a financial institution, he said. It took him a year to find other employment.

“People lose their careers. It’s over when people find out you’re transgender,” said Broadus, Founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, who some senators said was the first openly transgender person to testify before the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

Following a letter from Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Robert Casey, D-Pa.; and Susan Collins, R-Maine, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions reopened discussion on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Among those who say they have faced discrimination are Jacqueline Gill, a temporary instructor at a community college in Texas, who was told by her supervisor that “Texas doesn’t like homosexuals,” and Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who was fired from her job at the Georgia General Assembly for her gender expression.
In an email blast by Mara Keisling the Executive Director of NCTE said,
At the hearing today, I sat in awe as I watched my friend Kylar Broadus make history as the first transgender person to testify in front of the U.S. Senate. I listened to a Vice President of General Mills talk about how proud they are to lead the business community by covering transition related health care. And I felt the support of the 37 religious organizations, 90 major corporations, and 88 national social justice groups that weighed in to support our job protections.
But everyone was not kumbaya. In the same email blast she said,
Barely an hour after the U.S. Senate adjourned a hearing for the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, the Traditional Values Coalition aimed its hate message and scare tactics at trans people just to raise money.

Their email says, "Mary is a little, shall we say, confused...but Mary isn't confused about whether the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is going to allow someone like him to keep teaching your kids while he undergoes his transformation from ugly caterpillar into a beautiful... something or other..."
I do not think that we stand any chance of ENDA passing Congress as long as the Republicans control one of the chambers, but that doesn’t mean that we give up. We must continue lobbying Congress, otherwise the only voices that the legislators hear is that of the opposition.

Here is a video of Kylar Broadus, the first ever trans person to testify before the U.S. Senate. He is the founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC) and a professor at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Report Cards

A report in the news and a report to be released are what I want to talk about today. Two reports that are close to my heart.

The first report was by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law that analyzed LGBT protection by states are the country. An article in the Center for American Progress said…
Transgender people in particular face extraordinarily high rates of employment discrimination. Ninety percent of transgender individuals in a 2011 survey reported encountering some form of harassment or mistreatment on the job, or took actions to avoid it. Forty-seven percent of those individuals experienced some sort of adverse job outcome, including 26 percent who were fired and forced into the ranks of unemployment due to gender identity-discrimination.

Eighty-nine percent of Americans mistakenly believe it is illegal under federal law to be fired because you are gay or transgender, but this type of discrimination is perfectly legal in a majority of states. Unfortunately, Congress has yet to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would provide the gay and transgender workforce crucial protections against workplace discrimination based on a person’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
That was one of the hurdles that we had to overcome here in Connecticut when we were first trying to pass the gender inclusive anti-discrimination law, many of the lawmakers thought the we were already covered under sexual orientation.

The report said about Connecticut,
Connecticut (law: sexual orientation and gender identity)
All employees are protected against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Private employees, however, are eligible to pursue administrative remedies and file an action if they sought administrative remedies first. Additionally, private employees are eligible for compensatory damages if they file an action. All employees are allowed to receive punitive damages if the court has the authority to award them and if they filed their action with the court instead of an administrative agency. Attorney fees may be recovered if the complaint is filed in court.
Here in Connecticut the law covers all businesses that employ more than 3 workers.
Connecticut (1991, 2011)—Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression protected in all employment
Summary: In 1991 Connecticut passed An Act Concerning Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual
Orientation, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public and private employment.
Then in 2011 Connecticut passed An Act Concerning Discrimination, which prohibits discrimination in public and private employment based on gender identity and expression
  • Private-sector plaintiffs must first exhaust administrative remedies before they are permitted to file a complaint in civil court.
  • Compensatory damages are available to private employees but only if the aggrieved employee files a complaint in court.
  • Punitive damages are sometimes unavailable due to a split of authority on whether a court can award punitive damages under the statute.
  • Litigants may only receive punitive damages if they have filed their complaint in court instead of the corresponding administrative agency.
  • Litigants are not allowed to recuperate attorney fees unless the complaint was filed in court.
The law also includes criminal penalties under certain circumstances and also covers housing, credit and public accommodation discrimination. Under the housing section it covers rentals and the sale of property. The public accommodation it covers restaurant, hotels, gyms, parks, homeless shelters, hospitals and any place that serves the public. In addition, the law covers public and some private schools (if they receive government funding of any type), you can read about what it does cover here.
(Here is a link to the Connecticut Non – Discrimination Law, Public Act No. 11-55)

The other report that I want to briefly mention is a research project that I worked on that studied the trans-population in the greater Hartford area called the “Transgender Regional Area Networks Survey,” or TRANS Protect (or formally known as “Population Size, Characteristics and HIV Risks among Transgender Individuals in Hartford and Surrounding Towns”). The final report has just been finished and should be sent out to the grantors shortly and hopefully, then published. The project was funded and supported by the Community Research Partnership Program (CRPP), Community Research Core, Yale Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA), through the National Institute of Mental Health and the agency that I work with Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition was one of core organizations that worked on the project. When the study is published, I will provide a link to it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

War Of Words

You probably have heard what President Obama said about the economy and Romney’s reply to it already. Who is correct?

President Obama said "The private sector is doing just fine" and Romney replied, “Is he really that out of touch?... I think he’s really defining what it means to be out of touch with reality.” So who is right?

It turns out that they are both right. If you look at the whole sentence that President Obama said and not just those six words, you will see that he said,
The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last two, 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector's doing fine," Obama said. "Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy (has) to do with state and local government, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.
So the president was only saying one sector was doing “fine,” while Romney was talking about the economy in general and the increase in unemployment for the last couple of months.

So how is the economy doing in the private sector…

As you can see the GNP has exceeded all previous levels and has recovered from the depression years. You can see how it tanked in 2008 – 2009. (Graphs from Business Insider)

What about jobs in the private sector…

They have bounced back to the levels of pre-Obama presidency and are equal to the levels of the Bush presidency.

 So where are the job losses that are causing unemployment to rise? The job losses are in the public sector.

As you can see the public sector is shrinking. As Congress cut back on the federal budget something has to give and it is the number of government employees (I’m not saying if it is good or bad, only that when you cut back something has to give).

When are the cutbacks being felt the greatest?

Here in Connecticut school systems are looking for many ways to make up for the loss of federal funds. Some of the towns are laying off teachers, some are negotiating new contracts with the unions and some are charging higher fees for after school activities.

So they are both right since each was saying something different, they were comparing apples to oranges. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Church And State

Notice that I didn’t say Church v. State because I don’t think it should be a battle, that both should be able to get along.

There has been much debate over whether or not employers should be forced to provide contraceptives to their employees. The Catholic Church is suing the federal government saying it interferes with their First Amendment religious beliefs. Last week there was a rally sponsored by a “Family” conservative organization in New Haven, CT. The rally was reported in the CT Mirror
While hundreds of Connecticut residents rallied in New Haven against abortion and federal requirements that religious organizations cover their employees' contraceptives, officials at the State Capitol complex took up a measure on whether the insurance everyone will have to purchase under the federal health law will cover the procedures.
And in one opinion article the writer who is the wife of the head of the organization that lead the rally said,
This mandate threatens the First Amendment rights of Catholics and other religious people immediately, but also, if left unchecked, the religious liberty and First Amendment rights of everyone.
OK let’s go back and look at what they said… “religious organizations” first off there is a big difference between a religious organization and a business or school that is owned by a by a religious organization. Churches and other properties that are used for religious purposes are exempt from having to supply contraceptives. Hospitals, colleges, pavilions, apartment houses and other places of public accommodation that are owned by religious organizations have to supply contraceptives to their employees. Notice the difference, organizations that are strictly for religious purposes are different from businesses and schools that are open for all the public to use. Once you open your doors to the public, you become just like any other organization and have to obey all the laws, the First Amendment no longer applies.

In 2007, a lesbian couple wanted to rent a pavilion on the boardwalk in Ocean Grove NJ that was owned by a Methodist organization for their civil union vows and they were refused by the Methodist organization. The couple filed a discrimination claim against the church organization. The administrative judge ruled…
NEWARK – A state administrative law judge has ruled that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association violated the state’s Law Against Discrimination when it denied Ocean Grove residents Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster the use of its boardwalk pavilion for their 2007 civil union ceremony. The association had allowed members of the public to rent the pavilion and had never before declined a permit other than for scheduling conflicts until it received Paster and Bernstein’s reservation request. The association rejected the couple’s application to use the space, stating that civil unions violated its Methodist doctrine.

“The Camp Meeting Association could have used the pavilion exclusively for its own purposes,” said Lawrence Lustberg of Gibbons, P.C., who represents the couple as a cooperating attorney for the ACLU-NJ. “The judge found, however, that the association opened the pavilion up to the public and thus was obligated to follow anti-discrimination laws.”
Once they are hiring any person for employment no matter what their religious beliefs or serving the public, the business must follow all laws. This is about contraceptives, but if it true for that, it would also be true for labor laws, environmental laws and anti-discrimination laws. A hospital run by a religious organization could easily refuse to treat a trans-person by claiming it was against their religion.

Another point that I want to make is that most of these businesses that are run by religious organizations receive public funding in one way or another. Colleges receive research grants and tuition loans, apartment buildings receive HUD backed mortgages and hospitals receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association “received a tax exemption from the state Green Acres program, which provides exemptions to non-profit organizations who use their property for recreational or conservation purposes. An important condition of the exemption is that the property be ‘open for public use on an equal basis.’” Once you receive public funding, even if you are a religious organization then you give up your religious exemption.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Saturday Six Episode #426

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six Episode #426

1. What place did you last travel to in the most recent dream you had?
Out in the Rockies, I was backpacking.

2. What old show is your favorite from the days of black-and-white television?
The Dick Van Dyke Show.

3. How many newspapers do you read portions of — either print editions or online — in a typical week?
About 8 or 10. I use Google News to look at the headlines and if something looks interesting I read the article.

4. If you were granted a shopping spree in any one store, which store would you choose and why would you pick that one?
A Porsche store. Isn’t obvious.

5. Which foreign country that you haven’t yet traveled to would you most like to visit?
Italy, I would like to see where my grandparents came from.

6. Did you have student loans when you were in school?
Nope. Mom and Dad paid for my undergraduate degree and I paid for my graduate degree.

Saturday 9: Changes

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Changes

1. Do you believe people can truly change?
Yes, I am an example that people can change.

2. Do you think there is anything wrong with being average?
I’m OK with you being average, I’m above average

3. Do you believe in fairy tale love?
Yes, it happened to Tinker Bell

4. Has anyone ever spread something malicious about you?
Yes, and then they denied that they ever said it and they blamed the other person for spreading rumors about them. Even though a number of people heard her say it.

5. Have you ever done something at a party that you've ever regretted?

6. How do you go about setting your goals?
I have a dart board.

7. Do you believe you deserve everything you want?
Of course, doesn’t everyone? We are a nation of spoiled brats who want it “NOW!”

8. Do you have people in your life you could always count on?
Yes, my family.

9. Did you ever make a close friend from someone that you've dated?

Friday, June 08, 2012

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. I knew it was love when..._I took the first bite_!
2. My heart can be broken but you always _know how to mend it_.
3. A dog is _such a joy_.
4. My how you have _grown since I saw you last_.
5. Can you see _by the dawn’s early light_.
6. And the _twilight’s last gleaming_.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _what I don’t know, but I’ll find something_, tomorrow my plans include _going to the support group meeting_ and Sunday, I want to _do something_!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

My Story Part 122 – My Younger Years

Some of my earliest memory was saying my prayers at night and asking God to make me a girl and of crying myself to sleep. I remember that I use to play with the girl down the street when we lived down in Milford. My memory is a foggy with age, but what I do remember was my mother telling me that I couldn’t play with her anymore because she set her closet on fire. I don’t remember what we played together, that memory is lost in the haze of some 60+ years. I don’t even remember her name.

When we moved to the town where I currently live I lead a “normal” life as a boy except for my desire to be a girl. I always wanted to go and play with the girls, but I learned that was not socially correct. I use to dream of flying down one of the hills on my bike that had a blind side street and hitting a car. Waking up in the hospital and the doctors telling me that had to make me into a girl because of the accident, and I said, “Aw shucks, I guess you had to do what you had to do.” I would feign grief but inside I would be jumping for joy. Another dream that I had was a mad scientist kidnapped me and a girl and switched our brains. Just your typical boy dreams.

In seventh grade we had a freshman initiation where the boys had to dress up and wear a skort, our father’s shirt backward (I always thought it looked like a Peter Pan collar) and one high heel shoe. I loved dressing up and I did from that day forward.

Some 50 years later, my prayers were answered when I transitioned and started hormones. What came first the chicken or the eggs? How did this affect me? Other kids play with girls when they were young and never transitioned. There were another 10 or 15 boys in the freshman class that dressed up and they never transitioned. I think that the spark is set before we are born and that it takes an event that triggers the fire. Maybe without that prenatal spark I would have been a crossdressers, maybe without the trigger I would have been just another unhappy kid. I believe that the two parts have to happen, that there has to be something prenatal and a trigger, a blend of nature and nurture.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Wisconsin Recall Election

As most of you have heard the voters have spoken and reelected Gov. Walker by an eight percentage to margin. As expected the Republicans are hyping the vote as a prelude to the November presidential elections and the Democrats are down playing the vote saying it was a local election and does not reflect on national issues.

My take in the elections is that $$MONEY$$ buys elections. Consider that the Republicans raised $30.5 million to the Democrats $3.9 million and that 66% of the Republican money came from out of state compared to only 26% of the Democratic money. It is estimated that the total amount spent by both sides in the election was $63.5 million (includes PAC money). [The Dark Money Behind the Wisconsin Recall]

PAC money seems to be more evenly divided between Walker and Barrett…
Another $17 million in “independent expenditures” is being spent on anti-Barrett ads by groups associated with the Republican Governor’s Association ($9.4 million); the Wisconsin Manufacturers’ trade association ($2 million-$3 million) and Americans for Prosperity, largely funded by the energy company-owning Koch Brothers ($3 million), said Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Project.

Another $15 million in “independent expenditures” attacking Walker are being funded by national unions, McCabe said. The money coming in through independent expenditures is harder to trace, McCabe said.
[Illinois donors pouring money into Wisconsin recall election]
Because of various Supreme Court rulings we may never know the total amount on money spent or by whom for the recall elections, but I believe that money was a major factor in Gov. Walker win. Was it "the factor" in his win, no I don’t believe it was, but it helped. One of the factors that also seemed to be important in his win was that many voters didn’t believe that a disagreement over policy was grounds for a recall vote.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Was Justice Served?

Yesterday, CeCe McDonald was sentenced to 41 months in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Some background on CeCe case, in  a Huffington Post article by Laverne Cox,
…CeCe is an African-American woman from Minneapolis, Minn., and she is currently incarcerated, facing two counts of second-degree murder. On June 5, 2011 CeCe and a group of her friends, all of whom were LGBT youth of color, were walking in South Minneapolis when a group of white adults began screaming racist and transphobic slurs like “niggers,” “faggots” and “chicks with dicks” at the youth. According to reports CeCe stood up for herself and her friends, stating that they would not tolerate hate speech. Then one of the white adult women smashed her glass into CeCe’s face. The broken glass sliced all the way through CeCe’s cheek, lacerating a salivary gland. A fight ensued, resulting in the death of one of the attackers, Dean Schmitz. CeCe was the only person arrested. She was detained by the police for hours before questioning, and then she was placed in solitary confinement.
Also it was reported in another article that,
Witnesses at the scene reported that CeCe had turned away and was leaving the altercation, when Schmitz followed her in an aggressive, hostile fashion. Eventually, Schmitz was stabbed during the altercation with a pair of scissors in the chest and he bled to death at the scene. CeCe claims she acted in self-defense.
Consider that in Minnesota for self-defense you must…
Furthermore, it is important to know that the state of Minnesota has a “duty to retreat” in its self defense laws.  This means that if you are faced with a threat of danger you must first attempt to retreat.  Only when you are unable to retreat or otherwise avoid the danger can you use reasonable force to defend yourself. To claim self defense, you must use only reasonable force and you must have a reasonable belief of danger. This test for reasonableness is not based on what might have happened, but what actually did happened.
From the report of the witnesses, CeCe was “attempting to retreat” but was followed by the victim who then attacked her.

The victim was described as…
This was not the first time Dean Schmitz had expressed racist sentiments. Schmitz was a proud racist who had a swastika tattooed on his chest. Schmitz also had a history of violence, and had three prior convictions for assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s 14 year old daughter, assaulting his ex-girlfriend, and getting into a physical fight with his ex-girlfriend’s father.
However, during the pretrial hearings, the judge issued a number of rulings,
The defense motioned to admit evidence that the deceased, Dean Schmitz, had a swastika tattoo on his chest and prior convictions for domestic assault. The prior convictions cannot be brought up in court and the judge will rule on the swastika tattoo by Monday morning.

The defense motioned to admit the criminal theft record of witnesses against CeCe. These motions were denied. Another motion to admit the convictions of one witness against CeCe for providing false information to the police and using a false name was granted. Notably, however, the prosecution motioned to admit into evidence that CeCe was convicted of writing a bad check to speak to her dishonesty as a witness. This motion was granted.
After the judge’s rulings CeCe pled guilty to one count of manslaughter in the second degree due to negligence and a sentence of 41 months in prison including time served. Some people say that shows that she was guilty, why else would she accept the plea bargain. Well for one thing when giving a choice between life in prison and less than 3 years in prison, I think it is a logical choice when you are facing a stacked deck against you. When you are a young black trans-woman and all the evidence that could prove that you were defending yourself from a white racist was thrown out, what would you have done?

Update 6/8/12:

Media Ignores Rash of Assaults on Transgender Women
The Daily Beast
By Jay Michaelson
Jun 6, 2012

While the sentence has sparked outrage in some circles, it has gone virtually unnoticed by the mainstream media, as well as in the mainstream gay community, which has been consumed by the same-sex-marriage debate and the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi case. But in fact, the CeCe McDonald case is part of a recent, horrifying spree of violence against transgender people, particularly trans people of color.

On April 29, 37-year-old Brandy Martell was shot dead in Oakland, in what has become a classic and tragic narrative of anti-trans violence: 3 a.m. Sunday morning, some men approach Martell, who’s sitting in a car with friends at a location known as a “safe space” for transgender women, and flirt with her. Martell discloses that she’s transgender, and the men leave. They return two hours later, shoot her in the genitals, and then in the chest. As of this writing, the killer has not been caught.

On April 16, Paige Clay, a transgender woman of color, was found murdered in a Chicago park. There are very few details about the killing, and no one has been arrested.

And on April 3, Coko Williams, another transgender woman of color, was shot to death in Detroit.

One case which did garner some mainstream media attention was that of Chrissy Lee Polis. Polis, a 24-year-old transwoman recovering from breast augmentation surgery, was emerging from the women’s restroom at a Baltimore-area McDonald’s in April 2011 when she was savagely beaten by two young women. A McDonald’s employee filmed the attack, laughed, and when another customer finally intervened to stop it, warned the attackers to leave before the police arrived.

Monday, June 04, 2012


Today I'm off to do an "Outreach" at the southeast office of the Department of Mental Health and Addition Services in Norwich. The outreach is with the Stonewall Speakers. This is my second outreach at DMHAS in Norwich, the first was with ctEQUAITY to talk about the then proposed gender inclusive anti-discrimination bill. I also did an outreach at the Middletown office at Connecticut Valley Hospital training facility.

Outreach is not for everyone, but for me I like educating people on trans-issues and maybe some day some trans-person life would be a little easier because of the work we are doing now.

Update 5:00PM: The outreach went very well. The panelist were all MSWs and the audience were all healthcare professionals... how could it be any better.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Friday Night Movies

On Friday night I went to the “Out Film Festival” and as usual there were some great movies and some that left you going “Hun?” They had three shorts and one feature film.

The first film was only 13 minutes long and it was about a trans-woman who was stealth to her lesbian friends. When she gets a phone call from a relative about her father dying and her friends over hear the call, they tell her to go home and they will never know that she is lesbian. She says, “I can’t they are expecting a son!” The rest of the movie deals with how her friends deal with her admission. It  was a very good movie dealing with a very touchy topic, should we come out to our friends? Do you have to tell everyone your medical history? Do you tell everyone when you meet them… “Oh by the way, I’m trans.”? Do you wait until there is a serious relationship? Or do you say anything at all? How would you answer those questions if instead of being trans, it was breast enhancement surgery or plastic surgery of some type. For me, I don’t think we can make any judgments on when a person should tell or if. It is a very personal decision and there is no right or wrong answer.

The next short, Fresh Air Therapy 2 (16 minutes) left me going “Hun, what was the point of the movie” it totally made absolutely made no sense to me. It was something about two women in some type of therapy.

The next short, The Bus Pass (3 minutes) was also really good. According to the write up…
A woman sees the girl of her dreams on the train home from work. Will she dare take the plunge and ask for her number?
The last short, “52” (5 minutes) was also good; it was about a man’s nightmare. It also had me going “Hun?” but at the very end it tied everything all together and had me laughing at the end.

The feature film was Cloudburst (95 minutes) and the write for the film festival said,
Starring Oscar®-winning stage and screen icon Olympia Dukakis as a foul-mouthed, tough-talking butch lesbian, and Oscar®-winning Brenda Fricker as her devoted life partner, this is a Thelma & Louise-type story with a gay-wedding twist.  Dukakis gives a tour de force performance as Dot, who attempts to run off with Stella, her partner of 31 years, after Stella's granddaughter tricks her into moving into a nursing home.  Dot springs Stella from the nursing home and they head to Canada to get married in this new, romantic road movie written and directed by Thom Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden).  Along the way they pick up a hot and often shirtless hitchhiker, who would give Brad Pitt a run for his money, encounter a naked psychopath and endure a Canadian strip-search.  Cloudburst is a wonderful, adventure-filled, one-of-a-kind film that will appeal to all audiences.
Olympia Dukakis gave an excellent performance and she had a great supporting cast. By the end of the movie I was in tears, I give it 4 out of 5 tears. It had many funny scenes like when Dot breaks out Stella from the nursing home and some highly charged moments like when Dot and Stella were trapped on a tidal island with the tide coming in fast. One word of caution, the movie has full frontal nudity.