Friday, August 31, 2012

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

On the weekends I relax a little and have some fun with memes

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. You don't have to be _me to understand what it is like_.
2. But it's the _best for all of us, how many times have I heard that said_.
3. Basically, _I’m a bleeding heart liberal and I’m proud of it_.
4. How I interpret _it is the correct way or also I heard "my way or the highway"_.
5. In this way, _we should win_.
6. I believe _that someday we all can live in peace if we just follow the Golden Rule_.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _being with family_, tomorrow my plans include _jumping in the lake (weather permitting)_ and Sunday, I want have to _do a little work around the cottage_and Monday, Labor Day _relax before heading home_!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Network Trans Rating…

It seems like everybody has a list of the ten best and now GLAAD has come out with their list of the best networks on LGBT issues. The sixth annual GLAAD Network Reasonability Index listed…
CW Network
ABC Network
Fox Network
NBC Network
CBS Network
As the top five friendly LGBT networks. They said,
The number of LGBT images has stabilized this year as the range of impressions continues to grow. With 69% of LGBT impressions on broadcast networks made by gay men and 66% of LGBT-inclusive broadcast hours showcasing white people, the Network Responsibility Index also calls for networks to highlight the great ethnic and cultural diversity of the LGBT community.
Now does GLAAD included trans-people in their survey or is it just gay men, do they mean LGBT=gay men? Or do they mean gay men=LGBT? I think when they say LGBT that they really mean only gay men and lesbian women and if anything trans-people are just an afterthought. Because if you read on they say…
Transgender representation continues to be low on nearly every television network. Transgender inclusive hours recorded on broadcast television went from 0.002% last year to 0.01% this year, the number also remained extremely low for the cable networks tracked at 0.005%
So while networks continue to increase their lesbian and gay positive image, we are just thrown bread crumbs by the networks. There are a few trans-characters in TV series like Degrassi: and Glee we are in only a few TV shows and of those that feature trans-characters how many of them are played by trans-actors?
Should trans screen roles be played by trans actors?
Transsexual characters promote positive discussion, regardless of who plays them. But trans actors need more opportunities
The Guardian
By Juliet Jacques
14 January 2012

"He's playing a transsexual," said Ben Stephenson, controller of drama commissioning, as the BBC announced that Sean Bean would star as Simon, an English teacher with an "alter ego" named Tracie in legal drama Accused. "[It's] a brilliant story," Stephenson told the Broadcasting Press Guild, "untold, I think, on mainstream television." Bean's appearance is the latest to raise an issue constantly debated within certain circles: should trans roles on screen be played by trans people?

Critiquing stereotypical portrayals in Whipping Girl, Julia Serano stated that "in a world where transsexual and intersex works of art … are not considered mainstream enough to be nominated for Emmys and Pulitzers, the facade presented in [HBO drama] Normal … profoundly shapes audience opinions about transsexual and intersex people". The problem, argued Serano, was that Normal appropriated gender-variant experiences without including transgender perspectives, replacing them with the director's unchallenged prejudices, which, intentionally or not, felt deeply transphobic.
Should only trans-people play the role of a trans-character? Having a non-trans-character play a trans-character, is it like a white person playing the role of a black persons?

What about a trans-actor being cast in a non-trans-character role? Should we play the role of a non-trans-character or would it be like the reverse of a non-trans-charter playing the role of a trans-character?
It may be that nobody with a trans history is competent to play mainstream roles – it's hard to know, as few explanations for casting decisions have been forthcoming, and until a test case, little will change. If openly trans people were occasionally given cisgender roles, or if mainstream broadcasters or filmmakers finally try a trans actor, even a non-professional, in a leading trans role (as arthouse director Sébastien Lifshitz did recently in Wild Side), then we see the media landscape shift entirely, and provide a generation with opportunities and inspirations. That could be a brilliant story.
What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Story Part 132 – I Caught You

Long before I transitioned I use to crossdress in the privacy of my house which resulted in many close calls. The first close call was back in the mid-sixties when I was in my early teens. My mother use to go to Hartford for her monthly allergy shots and while she was away I use to crossdress. Then one day my brother stopped home for lunch from his summer job… YIKES! Panic! I hid in bed with the sheets up to my neck and my brother commented about still being in bed at noon, I feared that he would pull the sheets down and tell me to get up.

My next near miss was when I was in high school and my parents went to a wedding one of our neighbor kids, so while they were away for the afternoon, I decided Diana could get some relaxing time. I was watching TV in the den when I heard a car door slam, I looked out the window and it was my parents. I was cut off from my bedroom so I couldn’t go and change, so I hide in the garage until they left. Whew!

Another time my parents went down to Florida for two months during the winter months, so I had the whole house to myself (I lived at my parents’ house for a number of years after college, in the winter they went south and in the summer they went north. I mowed the grass and cleaned the snow off the driveway in winter, so basically I had the house to myself except for part of November, December and part of April and May). One spring day I was watching TV in the den when a friend came to the back door and there was no place to hide and I had to answer the door because he would have seen my car in the driveway. So I opened the door a little way and told my friend to come back later, that I was getting ready to take a shower. Thirty years later when I was transitioning and I came out to my friends, he said that he knew I was crossdressed that day but he never said anything to me or anyone else and it didn’t interfere with our friendship (I stopped by his house the other day and we talked about our favorite topic, politics).

My last close call came when I was smoking a joint outside in the back of my house. In the backof the house, I have woods on three sides and I didn’t think anyone way back there. But he does construction work (I known him since elementary school and he did the excavation for the foundation and the final grade for my house.) and has a backhoe and my neighbor wanted to hire him and he was checking out the job. About a half hour later he stopped by my house and asked who the woman that was in my back yard was and I said it was my cousin who stopped by while her son played Little League. Whether he bought my story I never knew.

Now it goes the other way. When I went to vote, the person who was checking IDs at the door, looked at my license and asked if I was related to (my male name) and I replied, yes, I know him very well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Trans-Issues At The Political Conventions…

This is an easy blog post to write about the Republican Party transgender delegates at the convention… there are none. End of blog. Now if I was writing about transgender delegates at the Democratic convention it would be a non-story because I believe the first transgender delegate was back in the convention when Clinton was nominated 2000 and was Jane Fee of Minnesota. At this year’s Democratic convention there is a transgender delegate who gave a sermon at a local Charlotte church,
Transgender DNC delegate delivers sermon at local church
The Charlotte Observer.
By Carmen Cusido
August 27, 2012

For Janice Covington, being selected as the first openly transgender delegate from North Carolina to the Democratic National Convention was “better than amazing” and is the culimination of a long journey.

Covington, 65, delivered a sermon Sunday at Wedgewood Church, near SouthPark.

“I advocated for LGBT rights, basically human rights, for many years,” Covington told the more than 35 people who attended the service at Wedgewood.
The D.C.-based National Stonewall Democrats, a grassroots Democratic gay-rights organization, has kept track of most of the data on LGBT delegates from most of the states.

Of the nearly 6,000 delegates expected at the DNC, the total number of LGBT delegates is 471, Jerame Davis, the Stonewall Democrats’ executive director, said in an e-mail. For the first time ever, Davis said all 50 states set numerical goals for LGBT candidates. Another first: there will be at least one LGBT delegate from every state, Davis said.
A Google search of Republican transgender delegates turns up not single story about any transgender delegates.

Next let’s look at the Republican Party Platform. The New York Times has an opinion piece about the platform.
That cannot be said of the draft of the Republican platform circulating ahead of the convention in Tampa, Fla. The Republican Party has moved so far to the right that the extreme is now the mainstream. The mean-spirited and intolerant platform represents the face of Republican politics in 2012. And unless he makes changes, it is the current face of the shape-shifting Mitt Romney.

The draft document is more aggressive in its opposition to women’s reproductive rights and to gay rights than any in memory. It accuses President Obama and the federal judiciary of “an assault on the foundations of our society,” and calls for constitutional amendments banning both same-sex marriage and abortion.
Over all, it is farther out on the party’s fringe than Mr. Romney ventured in the primaries, when he repudiated a career’s worth of centrist views on issues like abortion and gay marriage. But the planks hew closely to the views of his running mate, Paul Ryan, and the powerful right-wing. Mr. Romney has a chance to move back in the direction of the center by amending this extremist platform. It will be interesting to see if he seizes it.
Romney says he doesn’t support the party platform, but it is his party and his backers support the platform.

Contrast the Republican Party platform to the Democratic Party platform. The Huffington Post said…
 On the one hand, this year's Democratic Party platform is the most pro-LGBT in history, complete with support for both marriage equality and fully-inclusive employment nondiscrimination protections:
    We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples...

    We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

    We know that putting America back to work is job one, and we are committed to ensuring Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
On the other hand, this year's Republican Party platform seems to want to pull the country backwards when it comes to equality for LGBT people. While the conservative gay organization the Log Cabin Republicans said that the Republican Party platform might actually include a "positive nod" toward LGBT people with a vague line about the "dignity and respect" of all Americans, the reference made no specific mention of LGBT people. In fact, the party platform includes some horrific language that proves that for the GOP, LGBT people are not among the Americans who deserve "dignity and respect."

In fact, a look at who authored the anti-gay language contained in the Republican Party platform shows just who influences the current GOP: Tony Perkins of the virulently anti-LGBT hate group the Family Research Council. In fact, Perkins bragged about his influence over the party's social agenda, telling BuzzFeed, "You should read the entire plank on marriage, which I wrote. I feel very happy about it."
People say that they support the Republican Party for their fiscal conservatism and they do not agree with their social conservative agenda… folks you cannot separate the two issues, it is one party. Look at the 2010 elections the Republicans during the campaign said; it’s the economy, it’s the economy, it’s the economy but what were the bills they passed in the House when they took office? They were all attacks on women’s and LGBT human rights (My blog post here and here) and I see them doing the same thing if they get control of the three branches of government only this time it will become law.

In addition, the Republicans are not even fiscal conservatives; in every Republican presidency since Nixon they had a greater deficit then when they started their term while the Democrats had a lower deficit then when they started.

Update 4:00PM EDT: 

A total of 11 trans-delegates will be at the Democratic convention verse 0 at the Republican convention.
Trans United for Obama (TU4O)
Also added Jane Fee

Monday, August 27, 2012

This And That In The News – Trans Issues

"This And That In The News" is about articles in the news that have caught my eye and I want to share or comment about. These are the articles that caught my attention last week.

The first story is about something that is not new to us…
Transgender People New Targets of Hateful Political Ads
By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer

DENVER — Even amidst emotional fights over same-sex marriage, anti-gay political advertisements have grown increasingly civil since the 1970s, new research finds. For transgender people, however, the media landscape is looking increasingly brutal.

Political attacks against transgender people increasingly portray them as predatory and dangerous, even as ads by conservative groups depicting gay people as pedophiles or sexual predators have dropped nearly off the map, said Amy Stone, a sociologist at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.

"Awareness has really been focused on same sex-marriage," Stone told LiveScience. "We haven't been paying attention to the ways that transgender rights are so easily targeted by the [political] right on a local level."
Gender identity and the issue of transgender rights often come up on a local level when cities and municipalities consider nondiscrimination laws. For example, in 2008, the city commission of Gainesville, Fla., added a gender identity provision to the town's anti-discrimination ordinance. Social conservatives organized a ballot referendum, seeking to overthrow the new provision with the specter of men invading women's restrooms. (The referendum did not pass and the anti-discrimination ordinance stands.)

This April, a similar anti-discrimination proposition failed to pass in Anchorage, Alaska. In the run-up to the vote, an opposition group called "Protect Your Rights – Vote No On Prop. 5" put out a cartoon ad depicting a burly man in a dress applying for a job as a daycare worker. A voiceover then warned that under the new proposition, it would be illegal for the daycare "to refuse a job to a transvestite who wants to work with toddlers."
This doesn’t not come to us in the trans-community as a shock; we live with this bigotry every day.

The next article is about bathrooms. You know it is always about bathrooms. Those of you who went to college, how many Saturday or Sunday mornings did you walked in to the bathroom and found a member of the opposite sex in there? Someone on the floor always had their boyfriend or girlfriend slept over  used the bathroom in the morning and now most new college dorms have separate shower stalls. it is pretty private when you take care of your morning routine.
Bathroom controversy follows opening of new residence hall
The Daily Californian
By Chloe Hunt
August 24, 2012

Construction still uncompleted, students in the new Maximino Martinez Commons had to quickly adjust to concerns raised over the gender-specific bathrooms in the residence hall when they moved in last week.

Because the eight bathrooms in the newly opened dorm were originally all gender-specific, some residents felt uncomfortable using a gender-designated bathroom. After the concerns were raised, six bathrooms were made coed, according to an email sent to all residents of the building.

“Some people who consider themselves transgender would like the (coed) bathrooms,” said Ciera Dudley, a UC Berkeley sophomore and Martinez Commons resident.

She said splitting bathrooms between single-gender and coed was a good compromise.
All of a sudden it has become a “Fire and Brimstone” issue for the conservative right. Coed dorms have been around since the sixties and now it has become an “issue” because they call them gender neutral dorm and allow trans-students to live in the coed dorms.

And for all of our trans brothers and sisters who severed in the military…
For Transgender Veterans, An Awkward ID Problem Awaits Simple Fix
Huffington Post
Jennifer Bendery
August 24, 2012

WASHINGTON -- There aren't many transgender U.S. military veterans. Advocacy groups estimate the number may be somewhere around 300,000 out of the nation's 26 million vets. But nearly all will struggle to access military benefits because of an awkward bureaucratic snafu that could be easily fixed: their discharge papers show the wrong gender.

Bridget Wilson, an attorney who has represented transgender people in military and civil matters for 20 years, said if there's one thing she sees over and over again with her clients, it is complications stemming from their DD214 form, better known as the document that soldiers receive upon retirement or discharge from the military.
The problem for transgender vets, who typically transition to the opposite gender after leaving the military, is that their name and gender no longer match what appears on the form. And since the Defense Department treats the document as "a historical record," military officials aren't allowed to change its information, which means transgender vets routinely get turned down for services.

It would be "pretty simple" to fix, Wilson said. Since it would only require an administrative tweak to give people the ability to amend their discharge forms, the fix could be made as easily as the stroke of a pen by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Lastly, if you are traveling to Zimbabwe and you are LGBT… don’t go!
Arrest and Harassment of Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Activists in Zimbabwe

U.S. Department of State: Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
August 23, 2012

The United States condemns the Government of Zimbabwe’s violent arrest and detention of 44 members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe on August 11 and a second raid by police on August 20. Several of these members sustained serious medical injuries from the attacks and were detained without charges. The Government of Zimbabwe has also targeted these same members’ homes and singled out their families for interrogation and harassment.

The United States stands in solidarity with Zimbabwe’s civil society, including LGBT activists. We are deeply concerned when security forces become an instrument of political violence used against citizens exercising their democratic rights. We call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to end this pattern of abuse and to eradicate the culture of impunity that allows members of the security sector to continue to violate the rights of the Zimbabwean people.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jailed For Being Trans.

If you look at my driver’s license and my passport, I have an “F” for my gender but my birth certificate has an “M.” So what is my legal gender? Say I’m going for a job and they asked for proof of citizenship and I show them my passport, it says I’m female. However, if they ask to see my birth certificate then that says I’m male. Or say I’m going for a marriage license in a state that does not have marriage equality and I am going to marry a man. I give them my driver license which says I’m female and they issue us a marriage license, well a trans-man did just that in Virginia and read what happened to him. writes that,
In the autumn of 2011, a man’s life was forever changed. A professional counselor with a love of surfing, he gave up everything he had in Florida to move and be with his new wife in Virginia. This woman then turned on him, not being able to bear the stigma of being partnered with a trans person. She completely and utterly abandoned him. The man was convicted of a felony. His crime? Being transgender -- he put an "M" on his marriage certificate…
…This was considered a FELONY. Despite having gone through the expensive and emotional process of medical and legal transition, he was still sentenced to five years in jail. His sentence was suspended to one year which he has spent wholly in solitary confinement.
This is a fear that I have every time I’m asked to give my gender; whatever I write down could be argued as being false. As I point out earlier, I have both genders listed on my legal documents.

I also feel that it is a violation of his human rights to be kept in solitary confinement for a year just because he wrote an “M” on his marriage license; solitary confinement is for harden criminals and is used for punishment. There have been a number federal courts cases that have ruled that solitary confinement for trans-inmates is cruel and unusual punishment. To confine transgender inmates in solitary confinement is the prison system way of taking the easy way out to protect a trans-inmates from assaults and rapes. In court order cases the trans-inmates were transferred to the general prison population and provided additional protection. In other countries and in some states a special wing of the prison is set-up for trans-prisoners.

What are your thoughts…

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Six Episode #437

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six Episode #437

1. When you’re getting dressed, which shoe goes on first?
Whichever one I find first.

2. Do you twirl your spaghetti or cut it with your fork?
I’m Italian there is only ONE right way to eat spaghetti and it is to twirl the spaghetti with your fork which is held against a spoon.

3. Which single piece of jewelry do you wear most often?
Earrings and a watch. I’ll be naked without them.

4. How many different cereals are in your pantry right now?
Generic Cheerios and generic granola

5. How often do you swear?
Almost near.

6. Which cartoon do you recall most fondly from your childhood?
Hmm… it seem like I answers this same question mot long ago. It is…

Saturday 9: I'm So Excited

Crazy Sam’s  Saturday 9: I'm So Excited

1. What was the last event or situation that got you really excited?
Um… I guess when I gave my speech a couple of weeks ago. But that wasn’t really excited, it was more emotional.

2. How old were you when you started working and what was your first job?
Summer Job? I was 17 and it was with the state taking inventory of state equipment in high schools

3. Tell us about your grandparents.
I don’t remember much about them because my grandfathers died at a very early age, The only thing that I remember about my mother’s father was his big feet up on the footstool. Both of my grandmothers were really good cooks.

4. Do you procrastinate or are you usually on top of situations?
Why do you think it took so long to do today’s Saturday 9

5. What would others say about you?
It depends, are they my friends or enemies or strangers? My friends say nice things about and my enemies say bad things about and strangers go Eww.

6. Do you believe in life on other planets?
Yes. There are an infinite number of plants in the universe and at a couple of other planets must have life of some kind.

7. When was the last time that you were called too thin?

Wow, so long ago that I can’t even remember.

8. Do you work out? Have you ever joined a gym and quit almost immediately?
I walk and maybe this winter I’ll go to the community center and exercise there.

9. Do you feel that you utilize all your intelligence in every situation?
No, you different types of intelligence for different things.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. Seeing _is not always believing_.
2. It's never _the right time to use that type of language_.
3. According to _my calculations apples season should be here in a couple of weeks_.
4. As we _approach fall, I’m looking forward to fresh squeezed apple cider_.
5. I associate _September with tree laden with ripe juicy apples ready for picking_.
6. Long ago _there were many more orchards in town then there are now_.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _reading_, tomorrow my plans include _going to the coffee shop to listen to some original folk music_ and Sunday's I want to _plans are in the works as I write_!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Story Part 131 – Staycation

Ebenezer Avery House - Fort Griswold
Fort Griswold - Water Battery
Last Wednesday, two friends and I went down to Mystic Aquarium for the day. I took the library’s aquarium pass out for the day and we all piled into my car and headed down to the shore. Unfortunately, when we got there, there were about a hundred people in line and we decided not to fight the crowd. So we went next door to “Ole Mystic Village” and wandered around the stores looking at the high priced tourist merchandise. We quickly got bored with that and I suggested going over to Fort Griswold state park in Groton. Afterward we went over to Niantic for a late lunch and a little place called “The Dock.” It was what you would call a “clam shack.” It was a little shack about 20 feet by 15 feet with a tent covered eating area overlooking the harbor.

One of my friends has just transitioned and this was the first time she had been out someplace besides shopping and dining out. When I was first going out I use to just limit my trips to LGBT friendly places, we used the phrase “Trannytized” meaning other trans-people had going there before and it was a safe place to visit. The support group actually had a list of places on our website of trans-friendly places, but we dropped the list when someone visited one of the places and got harassed and they blamed us for listing the place, so we took the list down.

Before I transitioned I didn’t like to go into places that I hadn’t gone to before and after I transitioned that didn’t change. I use to joke that I had a pick-up truck rule; the more pick-up trucks parked at a bar the less likely I would go in and a gun rack in the back window counted as three pick-up trucks (I know, there are a lot of people out there who are open minded out there and own pick-up trucks. But there are a lot of pick-up truck owners who are conservative.).

Overtime I started to realize that almost everywhere was safe and I started to go to museums and other public places. One of the first places that I went was to visit the Mystic Aquarium in 2007. Another touristy place that I visited was the mansions in Newport RI in 2008. Then last year I went to Old Sturbridge Village

On my list of Staycations that I want to visit are the Essex Steam Train and the Mystic Seaport. Also the Naugatuck Railroad fall foliage trip and a tour of the Connecticut wineries.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


From May 2010, an exchange between Michael D Higgins (who was elected President of Ireland last year) and Tea Party-loving radio guy Michael Graham on Irish radio.

Passing Judgment

Like any community the trans-community is a diverse community and we have our differences. I believe in the definition of transgender that encompasses everyone who cross the gender boundaries, from drag kings and queens to post-op transsexuals, including gender queer.

One of the words that create a lot of discussion is the word “tranny” for some it is a slur and for others that is how they identify. Some say that it is OK to use by the community but it is not OK when people outside of the community which is what how I feel. But I do avoid using it because some people are offended by it.

Which leads us to Swatch…

LaChapelle’s creation for Swatch features a picture of the extravagant model and transsexual icon, Amanda Lepore. Surrounded by the blue and gold nimbus of a King Tut-like headdress, her face radiates a red-lipsticked smile. The strap is printed with various collaged images—a racy red car crash, a near-nude model. With all its red-nailed, performed femininity, this watch has as much going on as a fashion socialite, from the glitzy red, blue and gold palette to Lepore’s arched, flawlessly painted eyebrows. Humorously titled Time Tranny (GZ163), this irresistible piece is the delightful and surprising work from a provocative and edgy artist.
I think the watch was a crass commercial exploitation of trans-people (I say “was” because I guess that the watch came out several years ago.). The watch was not designed by anyone from the community but by a commercial artist.

Now this ad has been making the rounds of Facebook trans-community…

This ad stars a transgender 19-year-old Ukrainian transgender model Stav Strashko and I have mixed feelings about the ad. It also does exploit the trans-community but it does feature a trans-model and that is the source of my mixed feelings. I don’t like it, but feel that I cannot deny a trans-person the ability to make a living.

Tell us what you think? Is the watch exploitive? What about car ad?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Who Are The True Fiscal Conservatives?

The Republicans boast that they are the fiscal conservatives and that the Democrats are the reckless spenders, but look at the surplus/deficit for each President going back to President Johnson.

Change was calculated from President's first year’s debit to the last year’s debit after that President’s budget (i.e. President Bush, W. took office in 2000, but his first budget was in 2001 and his last budget was for the 2009 fiscal year.) and adjusted for inflation. (From “U.S. Federal Deficits, Presidents, and Congress”) Also I do not mean the national debit, but the difference between income and expenses, how much was collected in taxes verses how much was spent.

Johnson decreased the deficit by $2,146,225,006   
Nixon increased the deficit by $17,581,577,773        
Ford increased the deficit by $69,190,733,924   
Carter decreased the deficit by $4,328,272,827
Regan increased the deficit by $106,541,043,476
Bush H. increased the deficit by $34,326,854,936
Clinton decreased the deficit by $164,787,361,848
Bush W. increased the deficit by $803,424,990,821
Obama decreased the deficit by $329,164,144,030 (First 2 years only)

Black = decrease in deficit Red = increase in deficit

Here is a graph of the budget surplus/Deficit by President…

So who are the real fiscal conservatives?

Monday, August 20, 2012

This And That In The News - The Good & The Bad News

"This And That In The News" is about articles in the news that have caught my eye and I want to share or comment about. These are the articles that caught my attention last week. So what is it going to be the good news first or the bad news?

I think that I start it off with the bad news this week…

Florida Equality reported that Jacksonville City Council rejected anti-discrimination protections for their LGBT population…
Tonight by a vote of 17 to 2, the Jacksonville City Council voted to reject bill 2012-296 - a fully-inclusive measure that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance (HRO).

Before the final vote, several attempts were made to amend the bill by stripping out gender identity protections - all of which failed. In the end, bill sponsor Warren Jones and Denise Lee were the only two members of the council who voted in favor of the fully inclusive final bill.
Those of you who say that they should have dropped us from the bill in order to pass a SO only anti-discrimination law, just remember that there have a number of court cases where the employer said that they didn’t fire the employee because they were gay, but because of the way that they expressed themselves, they acted too feminine.

The next news story is heading in the right direction, in Philadelphia the school systems wants to include gender neutral language in the school dress code. reported that…
THE SCHOOL REFORM Commission unanimously approved the revised Code of Student Conduct on Thursday night but added a resolution on language regarding nonconforming gender identities to be included under the dress-code/uniform policy.
SRC Chairman Pedro Ramos said the language proposed by Ginyard sounded easy enough to include, but he wanted the appropriate district departments to review and vet the phrasing.
That is a good step in the right direction. The article went on to say that…
The new code of conduct also places less emphasis on zero-tolerance punishment and allows for more flexibility in determining consequences for a range of offenses. Students cannot get out-of-school suspensions for minor infractions such as profanity, inappropriate use of electronic devices or public displays of affection.
This is also good because a lot of times the victim of bullying is also punished as result of the bullying. The school many times does not do anything to stop the bullying until the target of the bullying fights back and then they both get punished.

The rest of the news stories are all good this week…

There is a new book that just came out about children who have transitioned…
Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle, and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children, collected and edited by Rachel Pepper (Cleis Press) and you can read an excerpt here.

The next story comes to use from across the pond where a bank refused to change a woman’s name on her bank account. PinkPaper reports that…
As First Direct is an internet bank, they have to ask for the account name they have on their computer. In order to change this name, Miss Williams was asked for a deed poll. The bank then said they needed to see her gender reassignment certificate. They then asked Miss Williams to take another deed poll into a HSBC branch, whilst posting in the original.

Each time Miss Williams dealt with the bank she was obliged to give her old name, compounding her discomfort: “Every phone call I made was painful for me.”
Having decided to leave First Direct, Miss Williams discoverd she could not even transfer her account to a new bank because to do this both old and new accounts must be in the same name.
Ahh… the fun of name change! One of my credit cards botched my name change and took three tries to get it right and now on my credit history it shows the aborted name changes as AKA.

The last news story is about Campus Pride releasing the list of the top ten trans-friendly colleges and universities.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Campus Pride, the nation’s leading educational organization for student leaders and campus groups working to create a safer college environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, announced today the first-ever national “Top 10 List of Trans-Friendly Colleges & Universities.” This transgender-specific resource listing was created in part from data complied annually since 2007 in the Campus Pride Index, which takes an in-depth look at LGBT-friendly policies, programs, and practices.

The campuses included in Campus Pride’s “2012 Top 10 Trans-friendly Colleges & Universities” include (alphabetically): Ithaca College; New York University; Princeton University; University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Riverside; University of Massachusetts, Amherst; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; University of Oregon; University of Pennsylvania; and University of Vermont…
The Advocate has a list of what they looked for in the schools…
These 10 colleges and universities have demonstrated their commitment to the trans community by implementing many trans-supportive policies, including adding “gender identity and/or expression” to their nondiscrimination policies; offering gender-inclusive bathrooms, locker rooms, and housing options; providing a means for trans students who have not legally changed their names or had gender confirmation surgeries to use a preferred name and to change the gender on campus records and documents; recognizing trans identities on campus forms; and covering hormones and surgeries for transitioning students as part of student health insurance.
I believe that list is arbitrary that there are many more schools that meet the criteria for trans-friendly schools.

Last year I graduated from a graduate school at the University of Connecticut and I had no problems with the staff or students. Uconn does have gender inclusive non-discrimination policy, they had a LGBT center for also long as I can remember, they have gender neutral dorms and bathrooms (I’m not positive about locker rooms, but I’ll check next month when I’m on campus.). When I first went to grad school I hadn’t transitioned yet and all the teachers called me by my preferred name and when I did transition they changed my records over to my new name. They also cover hormones and surgeries for transitioning students as part of student health insurance. So UConn could have easily made the top ten list.

Little Twisting Of The Facts

There is a  Linda McManhon ad about Chris Murphy missing committee meetings, I don’t doubt that Rep. Murphy did miss those meeting, but anyone who has attended a hearing knows the whole truth.

That there are many reasons why, not just Rep. Murphy, but all Congresspersons miss so many hearings…
  1. They might be attending another committee meeting because they are usually on several committees.
  2. They could be meeting with a constituent.
  3. They could be watching the committee meeting from their office
  4. They might watch the video recording of the meeting at a later date.
  5. They could be caucusing with other congresspersons
  6. They could have had one of their aides sit in on the meeting

When I attended state legislative committee hearings, legislators were going in and out of the hearing all the time. When I met with my legislator it was during a floor debate in the House, he came out to talk to me about the bill that I was interested in. Many of the Republican legislators sit on multiple committees because there are fewer of them to fill committee positions.

The same was true when I went down to lobby for a federal bills, the hate crime and ENDA bills, I meet with Sen. Lieberman, even though I just talked to him briefly and then I talked to his aides for a longer period. I also met with Rep. Murphy’s staff about the bills.

Another, time I met with Rep. Murphy up here in Hartford about DOMA, DADT and ENDA in a two hour meeting. There were a number of LGBT organizations that he invited to talk with him about the bills.

So when Linda McManhon ads say that Rep. Chris Murphy missed 80% that is only a very small bit of the whole story and if you look at the attendance records for all congresspersons, you could probably say the same thing about all of them. But like all politicians they tend to bend the truth and take things out of context.

Update: 8/21/12 9:30AM
The Hartford Courant had an article yesterday on the Linda McMahon ad and they rated the ad “Generally Accurate” but they said…
The ad comes closer to a direct accusation with the narrator's final line: that Murphy "didn't show up for the job you paid him to do." Serving in Congress involves far more than showing up at committee hearings, and it is an extraordinarily broad statement to conclude that failing to attend those hearings is equivalent to not showing up for the job. But while Murphy's supporters and some savvy Washingtonians may object to the McMahon camp's conclusions regarding the significance of committee hearings, the main factual assertion here is on target. As such, we rate this ad Generally Accurate.
They pointed out that...
The ad gives something of an impression that Murphy's subcommittees were involved in desperate efforts to save the teetering economy. But some of the hearings Murphy skipped would hardly be described as focused on avoiding a financial meltdown. On June 8, 2007, he passed on a hearing titled "Can Internet Gambling Be Effectively Regulated to Protect Consumers And The Payments System?" and on July 29, 2008, he didn't make it to "Affordable Housing In West Virginia: Challenges In The Eastern Panhandle" – a hearing that not only concerned West Virginia, but was held in West Virginia.

But other missed meetings were more directly related to the nation's broad fiscal problems, including hearings on monetary policy, mortgage foreclosures, risk in the financial markets, stabilization of the auto industry and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

Were those meetings "urgent?" That's a subjective word, and generally beyond the scope of fact-checking.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Six Episode #436

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six Episode #436

1. What is your traditional zodiac sign?

2. How often, if ever, do you read your horoscope?
Never, I rather consult tea leaves they are just as accurate.

3. Check out the Geek Zodiak: What is your birth year the year of?
The Robot

4. Which of the merits listed do you think is most accurate to your personality?
(Robot Merits = Law-abiding, Dedicated, Logical)
I am very logical Mr. Spock

5. Which of the demerits listed do you think is most accurate to your personality?
(Robot Demerits= Stubborn, Intractable, Cold)
I don’t think any of them fit me.

6. Which single merit or demerit listed for your sign do you think is most inaccurate to your personality?
Cold. As most zodiac stuff, you can fit certain attributes to certain event. Law-abiding, yes most of the time but if you consider speeding, then the answers is no. Dedicated, in certain things but not in other things.

Saturday 9: My Generation

Crazy Sam’s  Saturday 9: My Generation

1. What do you think is the most unique thing about your generation?
That we survived it, it was the era of sex, drugs and rock & roll. When I turn 70 in a few years, I want a tee shirt that says, "I survived the 60s"

2. Do you speak out as often as you should?
I think there’re times when I should speak out more, but tilting windmills gets tiring sometimes.

3. How often are you tough and unreasonable?
Only when it comes to people human rights.

4. Do you believe that sometimes you learn more from a failure than a success?
You learn equally from both failure and success, you learn what works and what doesn’t.

5. Do you feel that you always have to win?
No, life is not a competitive sport; we all end up in the same place with what we brought into this world.

6. Do you think tradition matters?
It depends on what it is. Walking across a stage when you graduate, yes; but when tradition denies someone else their rights no.

7. Do you tend to root for the underdog?

8. Have you ever felt that you want to exceed your parents’ successes?
No, my parents raised two loving kids.

9. Of all the cartoon characters that you know of, which is most like you?
I don’t know… I haven't watched cartoons in forty years since Rocky & Bullwinkle went off the air.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. When _are you going to clean your room_?
2. Where _are my glasses_?
3. How _many fingers am I hold up_?
4. Why _are you doing this_?
5. Time _is on my side_.
6. What if _flip this little chromium switch_?
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _thinking of something to do_, tomorrow my plans include _ going to the coffee shop to listen to some folk music _ and Sunday, I want to _do something_!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Story Part 130 – Tolerance, No that’s not right word… Understanding, No that’s not the right word either.

About a month ago I wrote a blog about my trip to Fair Haven on Fire Island NY and how when a wave knocked me over I lost my wig and how a woman returned it to me. Well on Tuesday I received an email from the wife of the couple that I stayed with out on Long Island. In the email she wrote that she had talked to the woman who found my wig and she said this about the woman.
...she was the one who found and returned your wig. She said she felt so bad for you, that she had to go into the surf and get it.

...she is not very GLBT tolerant. However when I asked her why she helped you, her answer was, she was another woman who was embarrassed, so I helped her.
There are no words to express my gratitude; I was in terror of the thought of having to go home without a wig. I would have had to take the ferry back over to the main island bare headed or wearing a scarf of some sort. But this woman out of the kindness of her own heart reached out to help a stranger.

Most of the times all we hear are the bad stuff that happens to trans-people, but we rarely hear any of the good stuff. It can be something as simple as a smile or a kind work spoken or it can be a person speaking up in the face of discrimination. Or retrieving a lost wig.

Stop The Hate

Violence is never justified; I condemn hatred and violence by anyone.

NCTE Joins 40 National LGBT Organizations in Condemning the Shooting at the Family Research Council Joint statement regarding shooting at Family Research Council (FRC) from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations

We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council. Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers.

The motivations and circumstances behind today's tragedy are still unknown, but regardless of what emerges as the reason for this shooting, we utterly reject and condemn such violence. We wish for a swift and complete recovery for the victim of this terrible incident.

Michael Adams Executive Director, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

Tico Almeida President, Freedom to Work

Katie Belanger Executive Director, Fair Wisconsin

Wayne Besen Founding Executive Director, Truth Wins Out

A.J. Bockelman Executive Director, PROMO

Sharon Brackett Board Chair, Gender Rights Maryland

Carly Burton Deputy Director, MassEquality

Dr. Eliza Byard Executive Director, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

Jennifer Chrisler Executive Director, Family Equality Council

Brad Clark Executive Director, One Colorado

R. Clarke Cooper Executive Director, Log Cabin Republicans

Dwayne Crenshaw Executive Director, San Diego LGBT Pride

Heather Cronk Managing Director, GetEQUAL

Jerame Davis Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats

Emily Dievendorf Director of Policy, Equality Michigan

James Esseks Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project

Lynn A. Faria Interim Executive Director, Empire State Pride Agenda

Jenna Frazzini Executive Director, Basic Rights Oregon

Joshua A. Friedes Spokesperson, Equal Rights Washington

Herndon Graddick President, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

Chad Griffin President, Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

Jody M. Huckaby Executive Director, PFLAG National (Parents, Families, Friends of Lesbians and Gays)

Mara Keisling Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality

Kate Kendell Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)

Abbe Land Executive Director & CEO, The Trevor Project

Gregory Lewis Executive Director, True Colors Fund

Eileen Ma Executive Director, API Equality-LA

David Mariner Executive Director, The DC Center for the LGBT Community

Ineke Mushovic Executive Director, Movement Advancement Project

National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

Darlene Nipper Deputy Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Donna Red Wing Executive Director, One Iowa

Marisa Richmond, Ph.D. President, Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC)

Aubrey Sarvis Executive Director, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

Josh Seefried Co-Director, OutServe

Peggy Shorey Executive Director, Pride at Work

Brian Silva Executive Director, Marriage Equality USA

Lee Swislow Executive Director, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

Rachel B. Tiven, Esq. Executive Director, Immigration Equality

Shane Windmeyer Executive Director, Campus Pride

Chuck Wolfe President & CEO, Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute

Evan Wolfson President, Freedom to Marry

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fly The Friendly Skies, Except If You Are Trans

It was the policy of the FAA to require transgender pilots to get additional psychological testing to prove that it was safe to pilot a plane. That was one of the side effects of Gender identity Disorder (GID) being listed in the  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) by the  American Psychiatric Association (APA). But that has just changed, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) reported that…
Trans Pilots Allowed to Fly: FAA Updates Medical Requirements

The FAA has released new medical certification procedures for trans pilots, eliminating unnecessary psychological testing that had previously been required. Going forward, medical certification for transgender pilots will require only submitting current clinical records together with an evaluation from a psychiatrist or psychologist, as well as a report on any surgery (if applicable). The new requirements are listed in a new section of the agency’s Aviation Medical Examiner Guide, which can be found here.

The FAA requires that all pilots receive medical and psychological clearance to fly, and these procedures can be quite demanding. However, in recent years many transgender pilots had been required to undergo an expensive, burdensome and unnecessary battery of psychological tests including personality, projective and intelligence tests and others. Many transgender pilots were grounded due to such requirements and some even lost their jobs. While the FAA is understandably wary of any potential safety risk, requiring all these tests just because a person is transgender simply didn’t make medical sense.

The National Center for Transgender Equality would like to thank Drs. George Brown and Randall Ehrbar for their expertise as well as the FAA, the Obama Administration, the Transgender Law Center, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Representatives Mike Honda and Barney Frank for their work on this issue. NCTE will continue to monitor this issue to ensure the new procedures are implemented in a fair and sensible way.
This is another barrier against the trans-community that has been taken down by President Obama’s administration.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What Would You Do With $105 Million Dollars?

Well if you were Linda McMahon you will try to get elected to the U.S. Senate, not once, but twice.

 John Avlon writes in the Daily Beast... 
 Linda McMahon, who helped build the World Wrestling Entertainment empire with her husband Vince. McMahon, who’s never held office, lost the 2010 senate race despite the Tea Party tide and spending more than $40 million of her own fortune.

This year, she’s set to spend a reported $65 million.
Meanwhile her opponent Chris Shays says...
Shays has tried to combat that onslaught with a $1.5 million budget and the backing of virtually every major Connecticut newspaper.

“Linda McMahon wouldn't even get to first base if she didn't have 65 million to spend. I mean that’s the bottom line,” says Shays. “You clearly can buy a convention, but it’s harder to buy a primary and much harder to buy the general election. And that's why she's going to lose the general election.”
My vote is for another Chris, Chris Murphy.

In 2008 when I was lobby down in Washington DC for the gender inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), we met with his staff even though he is not our representative. We were from the 1st Congressional District and he represents the 5th.

The first time that I met him was in a meeting in Hartford, he wanted to talk to Connecticut LGBT organizations and I was there representing the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition. We talked for a couple of hours on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ENDA. When I left the meeting I felt he had a strong commitment to pass these bills and he has a strong sense of social justice for the LGBT community. (An aside… at the meeting just about half of the people at the meeting had or were in the process of getting their MSW.)

I have also met Susan Bysiewicz who is running against Chris Murphy in the Connecticut Democratic primary race and she is also very supportive of the LGBT community, but I don’t think she has that good of a chance against the McMahon juggernaut.

Update: I wrote this last night and I tried using Blogger "Schedule" to post now. I think that is neat, now when I go away I can still post blogs


If you're a registered Republican or Democrat don't forget to vote in the primary today!

You can find your voting location here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Bad & The Good

First the bad. We have all gone to the doctors at least one time in I life and we trust the doctor to tell us the truth and leave nothing out. Well a doctor in New York didn’t tell his patient that he had breast cancer because he was a trans-man.
Trans Man Denied Cancer Treatment; Now Feds Say It's Illegal
ABC News
By Susan Donaldson James
Aug. 8, 2012

ay Kallio, a former EMT who is disabled with kidney failure, rheumatoid arthritis and now cancer, has struggled to get good medical care, but being transgender stood in the way.

At the age of 50, Kallio transitioned from female to male, but never had gender reassignment surgery, only hormone treatment. "I accept my body as I was born," he said.

But when a suspicious lump was found in his breast and tested positive for cancer, the surgeon was so shocked that Kallio's body didn't match his gender identification -- not knowing whether to address him as "he" or "she" -- that he couldn't bring himself to tell his patient the grim biopsy results.
Kallio, who is now 56 and lives in New York City, learned "accidentally" that he had breast cancer when the lab technician called to ask how he was doing with his diagnosis. "Which diagnosis?" Kallio asked, horrified.

And it happened a second time, when the medical oncologist was "hostile" and refused to advise him on treatments.

Later, Kallio, said the doctor apologized: "I don't think it interfered with the quality of your care."

In fact, it did. Having to find new doctors delayed the start of chemotherapy beyond the so-called "therapeutic window" for his particularly aggressive form of breast cancer.
"Overall, they don't know what to do or how to handle your case," he said. "The endocrine stuff really intimidates them. They find your case terrifying and fear liability."

As a result of both incidents, he had to find new doctors. The experience was not only "demoralizing" but has likely affected Kallio's long-term health. So far, he has no idea if the cancer has come back.
This is what I fear. In the last eight months I have had more doctors and tests than I think in all of my life and thankfully I have been treated with respect. Besides my GP and dentist, I have seen four specialists and I had a MRI, an x-ray, an ultrasound and a colonoscopy, and I have had no problem with any of the hospital staff. However, every time I walk into a new doctor’s office there is that little worry about how I will be treated.

So I guess the good news is when I am on a panel next month for second year med students I will not have any bad news to report. Am I just lucky with doctors or are "the times they are a-changin?"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Have You Heard About The Flap Up In New Hampshire?

A local franchise of Chick-fil-A has purchased a table at the NH Pride Festival and it has caused a major debate in the LGBT community. A number of LGBT organizations have dropped out of the festival in protest including TG NH. One side is saying the NH Pride has sold out for $50 and 200 pieces of chicken and the other side is saying that the table is for an individual franchise that supports the LGBT community. The opposition counters that a portion of the profits from the franchise is sent back to corporate (Join the Impact Massachusetts – “like all Chick-fil-A restaurants -- gives 15% gross + 50% net profits back to the Atlanta-based parent company”).

A commenter on the article about  this wrote…
The people who demand tolerance towards them seem to be the least tolerant to anyone who disagrees with them!
To which another commenter replied…
Or, another way to put that, "The people who demand equal rights under the law don't want to do business with anyone who's openly funding groups working to deny them those rights!"
My thoughts on it are, would denying Chick-fil-A be against New Hampshire’s anti-discrimination law based on sexual orientation? I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that it might.

So what are your thoughts about allowing Chick-fil-A to have a table at the NH Pride Festival?
Vote on the poll on the right side of the blog.

Update 8/19/12: Poll result
No, they should not have been sold a table
  1 (8%)
Yes, it is a gesture of goodwill to sell them a table
  2 (16%)
Yes, it will be discrimination not to let them have a table
  9 (75%)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Saturday Six Episode #435

 Patrick’s Place Saturday Six Episode #435

1. Which do you have more of:  scars or birthmarks?
It probably a tossup. I didn’t have that many birthmarks and I don’t have that many scars, but now I have a lot more age spots.

2. Other than inside your own home or workplace, where are you most likely to use mobile technology to check your email?
I don’t have a smart phone so I don’t check my emails outside of home.

3. What percentage of appliances and electronics could you find the receipt for quickly if something went wrong and you needed to prove a date of purchase?
Stuff that I bought within the say six – seven years, I can find them all because if I bought them on the internet and I always print the receipt to pdf or I scanned them if I bought them at a store and save them on my laptop.

4. When taking a flight, do you prefer a window seat, an aisle seat or a seat in the middle?
Window seat, but not if they charge more for it.

5. How do you order your eggs at a restaurant?
In an omelet with peppers, onions, cheese and ham.

6. What kind of animal (include the breed if possible) was your first pet?
It was a mutt; I think it was a cross between a beagle and a terrier

Saturday 9: If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want to Be Right)

1. Has you ever done something that you knew was wrong, but because of love or lust, did it anyway?
Nope, not even as a teenager

2. Do you take longer to dress for a special event?
Well of course.

3. Do you consider yourself a good driver?
I do, but the guy behind me who’s blowing his horn because I came to a complete stop doesn’t

4. If you won Powerball, what would be the first thing you spent it on?
The very first thing I would buy if I won Powerball is a good stiff drink.

5. How much of the Olympics have you watched? Why?
0. Zero None. Nada

6. Have you ever changed your appearance because of a random happenstance?
Hmm… I think so. The randomness of birth.

7. Do you consider yourself attractive?
No, not physically.

8. If you started your own religion, what would it be like?
You could do any mind altering drug to achieve an alternate state of reality.

9. Have you ever given up too easily in the game of love?
Nope, I’m still breathing.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday fill-ins

Janet’s Friday fill-ins

1. I picked _ a peck of pickled peppers_.
2. I spread _the butter on the cinnamon toast this morning wishing that I could have more than one slice_.
3. I heard _what happened and I still can’t believe it_.
4. I wanted _only to take a nap, but the phone kept ringing with telemarketers even though I am on the Do Not Call list_.
5. I wish _they would obey the law_.
6. I noticed _also that there is an increase in email spam lately_.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _staying out of the rain_, tomorrow my plans include _going to the coffee shop to listen to folk music_ and Sunday, I want to _think of something to do_!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

My Speech…

I just got back from the Civil Rights and Anti-Bullying Leadership Summit where I was a guest speaker. The Summit was sponsored by Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) and the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities. As usual, I worried about nothing; my speech received good reviews from those in the audience.

After the Summit was over I went out to dinner with a friend and I didn’t get back until a little after 8, so it was another long day.

Here is a rough draft of my speech (The final version was in outline formation and the draft version was not proofread.).
I want to thank the CHRO for inviting me here today to speak at this summit. I want to speak today about some of the barriers that trans-people face when they come “Out” in school.

It is very obvious to our classmate when we transition there is no hiding the fact that we have changed genders and as a result we are more susceptible to bullying and harassment.

There are also more barriers that we have to face when we transition in school. What name will our teachers call us by? What name will be on our records? How will our records be changed? What bathroom or locker room will we have to use? These are all challenges that we have to face when we transition.

The new gender identity and expression anti-discrimination law will help, but it is only a start and by being here this afternoon you have taken the first steps to taking down the barriers.

To paraphrase the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it takes a whole village to transition. When we transition everyone around us transitions also. Not only the teachers, administrators and students transition with us, they have to adjust to our new name and call us by the proper pronouns.

But also the janitor, the school bus driver, the cafeteria workers, everyone who comes in contact with us has to transition with us.

But it doesn’t just end there. The parents of the other students and everyone they come in contact with every day in an every widening circle and not everyone will understand or be supportive. Will we be asked to slumber parties? Will we be invited to birthday parties? Will we be invited to play on a baseball team?

Maine has a similar anti-discrimination law and one particular case that was brought before Maine’s Human Rights Commission was about a trans-student who was discriminated against. It all started with good intentions, the let her use the facilities for her gender identity and her classmates did not have a problem with her using them. She was even elected to vice president of her class and excelled academically.

The problems started when a grandparent complained to the school board and to an outside organization that put pressure on the school board. The board caved in and ordered her to use the staff bathroom. That was when the bullying started and the assigned an adult to accompany her to stop the bullying.

Let’s stop for a moment and consider what the school did.

It singled her out and isolated her from the rest of her class, in other words it punished her for being transgender. Can you think of a worst punishment for a child than to be followed around by an adult, followed in to the bathroom, followed between classes and followed to the cafeteria.
As I said earlier, when we transition our family transitioned with use. Her twin brother also started to be bullied by other student who called him “fag” and he started getting into fights.

What could the school district have done differently?

Well for one thing they could have obeyed the law. As I said, Maine has a similar law that protects gender identity and expression and they also could have had a policy in place for students who transition.

Before the trouble started at school, there were playdates and sleepovers with other students her age. She was accepted as “just one of the girls.” However, once the school changed their policy the sleepovers and playing with her girls friends stopped. She became more and more isolated from her classmates both at school and after school.

As a result of the school’s actions, the student and her family filed a complaint with Maine’s Human Rights commission and a law suit. The complaint was settled in their favor and the court case is still pending.

But their story doesn’t end there. The family has moved to another town and she is now going stealth in order to avoid bullying and harassment. In other words she is keeping the fact that she is transgender a secret. A trans-person should not have to go stealth if they don’t want, they shouldn’t have to hide in the shadows and live a life of a lie.

At the new school she was allowed to use the girls bathroom, she made new friends, went to school dances. But she now constantly lived feared being exposed and the harassment and bullying would start all over again. But eventually they decided to come out again, but this time they had a supportive a school system with counselors, coaches, teachers and community leaders who cared for her.

You do not have to look far to find other cases like hers here in Connecticut.

A few years back before the passage of the gender inclusive anti-discrimination and bullying legislation, a trans-women transitioned in high school and was bullied by a student. The school didn’t know what to do so they transferred her to another school, thereby removing the support system of classmates and teachers that she had developed.

However, they did nothing to the bully, he went on bullying other students and the school transferred him to another school.

Can you guess which school?

You guested it, the same school where she was transferred and he picked up the bullying where he left off which forced her to drop out of school and be homed schooled. She eventually returned to her original high school and graduated with her class.

What can be done to avoid cases like these? An excellent starting point to learn about the Connecticut gender inclusive anti-discrimination law is the CHRO has an excellent document on their home page, “Guidelines for Schools on Gender Identity and Expression” that can be used as a guide when writing a school policy for gender variant students.

What should a policy on students who transition cover?

Well the obvious topics are… bathrooms & locker rooms. But also how school record changes are to be handle, name change, the proper use of pronouns, physical education classes & intramural sports, a policy on how the media inquiries are to be dealt with and by whom. The policy may also contain requirements for diversity training for the teachers and the staff.

There should a policy for how a transgender person is to be addressed in class and on official records; the two may not be the same. A trans-student may be living in their true gender and still have not legally changed their name, so the policy should have some way to cover that situation. It should also address the change of gender markers on the student’s school records.

I attended graduate school at UConn before I legally transitioned and at the beginning of the semester I talked to my professors before class. I asked them to call me Diana and if I could hand in my homework using my name. For the semester I was Diana, in class they called me by my new name and I took all the exams using Diana, even though it was not my legal name and the end of the semester they turned in my grades under my legal name.

When I did transition, UConn changed my name on their records and the whole procedure went smoothly without any glitches.

There should be a policy for the use of bathrooms, locker rooms and other sex-segregated facilities. The policy may be building specific. One of the high schools might be newer and have individual stalls for showers, so it might have a different policy than a school that didn’t have individual stalls. However, in no case should the policy be contrary to the law.

An important part of the policy should be how other parents are notified of a student’s transition. What can and cannot be made public. Who the spokesperson is for the school system, will it be the principal or someone on the board of education or possible someone from the city legal department, but it should be stated in the policy. Also who will talk to the media if they make an inquiry?

The policy should also include what sports team will the trans-student play on? What are the NCAA guidelines are for transgender students? Do they conform to the state law?

For colleges and universities they should have a residence halls policy, they may set aside a gender neutral rooms or floors.

These are all questions that should be addressed in the school policy, they are all questions that will arise when, not if, a student transitions. You want to avoid at all cost to repeat the mistakes that the Maine school system made. It is much better to have a policy in place and reviewed than it is to develop a policy as you are handling the crisis.

Resources that I used for reference for the speech.
 'Going Stealth': A Complicated and Dynamic Family Decision
Led by the child who simply knew
Doe v. Clenchy
Transgender policy approved
Groundbreaking Report Urges High School and College Athletics to Establish Standard, National Policies for Transgender Student Athletes
Statement of the Stockholm consensus on sex reassignment in sports

Where Is You Head Screwed On?

Do you believe this…
NH Pride Fest Sells Out LBGT Supporters for 50 Bucks and Free Chicken
Daily Kos
By Morgan Sandlin
Aug 02, 2012

By now most of you know that fellow on the right, Dan Cathy, head of Chick Fil A. We are all aware of his reprehensible practice of providing funding in the MILLIONS to causes that seek to not only deny members of the LBGT community their basic rights but has even gone so far as to donate to groups that advocate the killing of gay individuals overseas.
Nashua Chick-fil-a To Help Sponsor New Hampshire Pride Festival

The first thing that struck me was the similarity of this statement with the one on the Chick Fil A main Facebook page:

    The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

What reasoning does NH Pride Fest offer for their decision? Not much.

From their page linked above in the question and answers section:

    Q10. I heard that Chick Fil A donated $2000 to NH Pridefest so that they could host the event. Isn’t that a bribe to deal with the devil?

    A.  First and most importantly, Chick Fil A is not hosting Pride Fest. They have given us only $50 to secure a spot at the park. (The price we charge for all looking to get a spot during the festival) And they will be handing out free food. They have not offered and we would not allow them to sell anything at the event. While we understand that this is a controversial move, we need people to have the facts. The manager is coming to the event with his lgbt staff to support the community. We are not supporting Chick Fil A and are in fact still supporting the nationwide boycott. This one particular franchise operator is coming to support us. We are not accepting a “bribe.” I think $50 and free chicken (which I’m not even going to eat) can be misconstrued as a bribe. What Chick Fil A has been doing to the community is un-reconcile-able. But this particular franchise operator has decided to step away from the hatred and bigotry of the rest of the nation, and we want to welcome those who support us. Even if we do not support them.

My favorite line has to be "...and free chicken (which I’m not even going to eat)". Isn't that a tad like having Jeffrey Dahmer cater your dinner party but telling your guest you're just not hungry?
He bought you for $50 and some chicken....and your supporters got sold out.

What the heck were they thinking? There are a number of LGBT organizations that are backing out the event because of this.

Do Not Disturb!

I’m preparing to give my speech. Right now I have been practicing giving it without reading from the paper… I’m getting better each time. I have been using the built-in camera on my laptop to record it to see how I look giving the speech. Am I using hand gestures or am I just standing there? Do I use any inflection in my voice or am I talking in a monotone?

Not to put pressure on me or anything, but it might be broadcast on CTN (Connecticut version of CSPAN) and streamed on the internet and there was also a story about the summit on the news this morning

I’ll post a rough draft tonight after I give it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Health Insurance Coverage

For many of us, we could not get health insurance coverage or they charged outrageous premiums just because we are transgender. Well, all that has changed because of the Affordable Care Act…
Breaking: Transgender Patients Protected From Discrimination
The Paramus Post
By Mel Fabrikant
August 07, 2012

U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services agrees – Affordable Care Act protects against discrimination based on gender identity

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has clarified that sex-based discrimination that is prohibited by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotypes. Furthermore, the Department has made clear this includes discrimination against transgender people and discrimination based on how masculine or feminine a person presents.

HHS’s clarification, expressed in a letter to a coalition of LGBT groups, follows a trend among courts and government agencies in interpreting sex discrimination laws to include discrimination against transgender people. This April, in a case brought by Transgender Law Center – Macy v. Holder, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that transgender employees are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
Unfortunately this does not cover surgery for us. But I believe that if President Obama is reelected that it will eventually be covered. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

OK, How Many Of You Have Heard About The Macy’s Decision On Title VII?

Me neither until last night. So what is the decision and why is it important to the trans-community?

A few months ago I wrote about the EEOC ruling that extended Title VII to cover gender identity (Here and here), I found some background on how the EEOC came to its conclusion.
EEOC: Transgender Employees Protected Under Title VII 
Society for Human Resource Management
July 12, 2012

In a decision that could dramatically alter the legal landscape for transgender workers across the nation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled April 20, 2012, that an employer who discriminates against an employee or applicant on the basis of the person’s gender identity is violating the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on sex but does not expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of transsexualism or gender identity. The EEOC’s ruling in Macy v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives stated that intentionally discriminating against an individual based on gender identity, change of sex and/or transgender status is a form of sex discrimination and, thus, is actionable under Title VII.

This ruling marks the first time that the EEOC has provided any guidance on the extent to which Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibition applies to transgender employees.
In December 2010, complainant Mia Macy, a transgender woman, applied for a position at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE). Macy presented her gender as male when she spoke to the ATFE director about the position.

The director tentatively offered her the position, pending satisfactory background check results, and instructed her to contact the outside contractor responsible for filling the position to inquire about the status of her background check.

Shortly thereafter, Macy advised the outside contractor that she was transitioning her gender expression to female, and as a result, the contractor informed the ATFE of Macy’s intended change in name and gender classification. Five days later, Macy received an e-mail from the ATFE notifying her that, due to federal budget cuts, the position was no longer available. Macy later learned that the position was not eliminated, and another candidate was hired. Macy filed a formal discrimination complaint with the ATFE in which she alleged discriminatory failure to hire based on sex, gender identity and sex stereotyping.
This has shades of the Diane Schroer case. Before she transitioned Diane had a job interview for a position as a senior terrorism research analyst at the Library of Congress and they offered “him” the job. Later when she informed them that she was transitioning, they withdrew the job offer. In that case the courts found that the Library of Congress had violated the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and that decision was one of the cases that the EEOC based their ruling on the Macy case, which lead to the new EEOC policy.

So what does the EEOC ruling? An article in the Inside Counsel put it this way…
… As a result, the EEOC will now accept complaints of workplace discrimination from transgender employees. Although Macy involves alleged discrimination by a government agency, it is expected to impact private employers as well.
To Professor Art Leonard of the New York University Law School, the case means transgender people will be able to resolve their claims of discrimination through the EEOC’s administrative process as well as through the courts. “That the EEOC will receive complaints means a lot of people may get relief,” he says. For those cases that go to court, Leonard adds that while not binding, the EEOC’s interpretation of a statute usually is given significant weight by the federal courts.

“[Macy] is another step forward on the path to equal rights,” Leonard says.
I came across this video (Mara Keisling posted it on her Facebook page) of a Brown Bag Session, “What Does the Macy Decision Mean for Title VII?” It is rather long (it is great for listening to it over your lunch break). The part that I like is where one of the EEOC commissioners explains in an analogy how the courts and the EEOC reached their conclusion. In it she said something to the effect that “It is like a person who refused to hire a person not because they are Jewish, but rather because the person was Christian and changed to Judaism. It is still discrimination based on religion. The same is true for a transgender person changing their gender, it is still discrimination based on sex.” 

Here is another video “Brown Bag Session on Transgender Issues in the Workplace”, May 27, 2010 by the EEOC on transgender issues in the workplace, with a panel from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce.

Video streaming by Ustream