Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Story Part 150 – Trans Conferences

Last Saturday I headed up to Peabody MA for the “First Event” conference to attend some workshops and to catch-up with some old friends (We want to give a workshop at the Massachusetts NASW conference next year.).

I first went to “First Event” back in 2001 and I went up with a couple of friends, in my diary I wrote,
I came down with a cold on Thursday and was out of work for Friday. When I went up to the Tiffany Club's "First Event" on Saturday I was still feeling the effects of the cold. I went up with T and G, we had light snow all the way and the driving was slow. But, we made it all right. At the Banquet we all had a good time with good food, old friends and some new friends. We had a good turnout for the COS {Connecticut Outreach Society] crew with nine members.
Back then it was a very special occasion to go to the conference because I hadn’t transitioned yet and I was just started to poke my toe out the door. I had only been to Fantasia Fair that fall for a couple of days and other than that I had never been out of my house as Diana except to attend the support group meetings.

The following year I went up to First Event for the conference, Thursday through Sunday. In my diary I wrote,
I had a great time up Tiffany’s Club “First Event”.
The only down side was on the way up we had a flat tire on the Mass. Pike, we were three old ladies (I went up with T and R) changing the flat and the truck drives passing us by were honking their horns at us. Luckily the weather was good and we were able to safely pull off the road.
That evening I went to their Banquet where they hand out their awards and their guest speaker was Jennifer Levi who is a staff attorney for GLAD and she talked about the gains that we have made throughout the year.
Little did I know then that four years later I would be working with Jennifer here in Connecticut on the Anti-Discrimination Coalition to pass Connecticut’s gender inclusive Anti-Discrimination law.

I go on to write…
On Monday morning at work everyone asked you, “How was your vacation?” and you have to answer, “Ok, I guess.” When what you really want is stand on your desk and yell, “It was fantastic!” But, you know they would never really understand. Oh, well.
That was one thing that I hated, having to tell white lies and not being able to share my weekend with others. I even had to lie to my family, so I told them a white lie that I was going to a Linux computer convention for the weekend. But that lead to another problem…
I also learned that [my brother] was in Burlington, MA on Friday and was thinking about stopping by for a drink. Boy, would he have had a surprise (Can you imagine him walking in to the hotel and asking for the computer convention and learning that they only had a transgender conference there?). That’s another reason to tell him, but I still feel that I would place an unreasonable burden on him and that it would also be selfish of me. That was one of the reasons I went to some of the seminars, to learn how to come out to [my brother]. It’s no simple matter, some of the ones that came out to siblings were rebuffed and others had no problems with their brothers or sisters. You just don’t know which way it will go.
I came out to him the following month.

I attended First Events until 2005, by then I was just about living fulltime as Diana and there was really no need to go to a conference like Frist Event again. I didn’t need a “Safe Space” anymore and that what conferences like First Event provide, a place where you can be yourself without having to worry who will see you. It is also one of the reasons why attendance at these conferences is declining; there is less of a need to go to conferences like First Event because the world has become a little more accepting of trans-people. The “Be All” conference in Chicago was canceled because of low attendance and even the COS Banquet will not happen this year also because of low turnout.

When I was writing this I was going over a number of old photos taking at conferences, not just First Event but also Fantasia Fair; it is something that I have a lot of, photos of me at the conferences. It seems like a “rite of passage”… everywhere you look at these conferences there are people having their photo taking. This photo is from the 2004 conference and you can see how much I have changed over the years. In the fall of 2004 I started taking hormones and electrolysis and my face started looking my feminine.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Who Transitions?

This morning when I was reading the news I came across a blog on about coming out to family members. When I do training one of the things that I talk about is how our transition affects our family members and that we have to tell our family members because it is a little obvious when we go to a family function in our true gender.

When I transitioned so did my whole family and for some it may be hard for them to use the proper pronoun and also calling you sister or brother or aunt or uncle after all those years they have known you. Not only do you have to tell your family but they have to tell their friends if you attend a family function like a wedding or a funeral. When my aunt died and I had to make the arrangements I had to call the funeral director and out myself because I was with my aunt when she made her arrangements before going into the nursing home. After she died I had a heated discussion with my brother about coming out to all of my cousins. Coming out is not one of my favorite things to do, especially to family who you care about because I fear losing them.

So back to the blog question,
My brother is married to a transgendered individual. "B" lives as a woman but is still, biologically/physically, a man. When people meet her, it's often obvious to them that she is really a man. "B" has been with my brother for over 15 years now and both my daughters call her "aunt" and do not realize she is a man.

My oldest is 12 and my youngest is 8. I do not want to keep secrets from them ... do I raise the transgendered issue? Do I wait for them to ask? They're going to ask some day, I know and I don't want them to feel like this is a deep dark secret (though my brother and his spouse do not discuss the issue -- ever).

Looking for your advice Barbara. Thanks in advance.

From: LadyDi, Westford, MA
For some of us this is not a problem because if you are like me we are out and do not pass that well (I don’t want to debate the fact that she says that “she is a man”). So what advice would you give?

Would you tell the children? Would you keep it a secret from them? If you would tell them, then when and what would you tell them?

I personally believe that you should tell them. However, I feel you should do it age appropriately, so maybe you what to talk in general terms and then later when they are old enough to understand go into more details.

An article on ABC News 'My Mommy Is a Boy' by Russell Goldman said,
A child who has known his parents as transgender for her entire life will accept it more easily than a child who learns about it when she is older, said Dr. Stephen B. Levine, a psychiatrist who works with transgender parents and the author of "Demystifying Love."

"Will having a transgender parents make a kid crazy? Probably not, especially if the kid learns when he is young," Levine said.

"When children are young, they have an emerging understanding of gender. They label themselves and then begin labeling others. It's much more difficult when a child is a bit older — 9, 10, 11 or a teenager — and has an established sense of gender and then daddy becomes a woman," he said.
And the article goes on to say,
Walter Bockting, a psychologist and coordinator of transgender services at the University of Minnesota's Program in Human Sexuality, said parents need to talk to their children openly and at an age-appropriate level.

"There is not much research on transgender parents. But two studies found children of transgender parents do fine. There is always an adjustment period, especially for older children who know their dad as a man that then becomes a woman."
Even though the article is about a transgender parent, I feel that it is also true for a family member. Keeping a family secret is impossible, sooner or later the secret is going to be told and then you have an additional sense of betrayal to deal with.

I know it is easier said than done. The stigma and shame, the fear of rejection is hard to overcome.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Saturday’s Trans Conference

On Saturday I went up to First Event in Peabody, I wanted to go to a couple of workshops and I haven’t been up there to a conference three or four year (more on the trans-conferences on Thursday). So I asked around and a friend wanted to go to the conference so we car pooled.

One of the workshops that I attended was,
Transgender Survivors
Managing both the impact of surviving trauma and the complexity of gender variance can be a profound challenge. The psychological and interpersonal demands of identity, relationships and body can be overwhelming and powerful. In this workshop we will identify a framework through which to understand important themes in a complex journey…
As a social worker the tile attracted me to the workshop, I was interested in what the presenter had to say. One of the topics that she talked out was coping skills. Many of us have no idea what coping skills are, but we develop them throughout our life.

As trans-people we count on a number of coping skills that we don’t even realize that we are using. When we come out, we are using coping skills to handle the stress. When we went out in public for the first time we used coping skills.

So what are “coping skills”?

Wikipedia says this about coping,
In psychology, coping is "constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing” or "exceeding the resources of the person".
The psychology textbook by Weiten has provided a useful summary of three broad types of coping strategies:
    appraisal-focused (adaptive cognitive),
    problem-focused: Any coping behavior that is directed at reducing or eliminating a stressor, adaptive behavioral
    emotion-focused: Directed towards changing one's own emotional reaction to a stressor
As a trans-woman I use emotion-focus or distraction. I never recognized that I had developed a coping skill when I was standing in a checkout line trying to stifle my fight or flight reaction. I was just concentrating on reading the magazine title and all the different types of candies that they had in isle. But it turns out that is a coping skill (Distraction).

So what are some of the coping skills that you can use…

Well the first one is like I said distraction, do something to take your mind off of what is causing your anxiety. You can distract yourself like I was doing by reading, count the number of different types of candies & bubble gum in the racks. Count the number of people who are wearing blue or like the one time I was sent to the principal office in high school, count the number of holes in a ceiling tile. One of the recommended techniques is to wear a rubber band on you wrist and snap it to distract yourself (I personally don’t like that one, it induces pain).

You can use imagery or visualizing. That guy that is calling you a pervert, imagine him in a dress or that there is a big bird that is shitting on his head. Or imagine yourself in a safe welcoming place, in a field of flowers, sitting out on a beach or other peaceful locations for you. Mine is a waterfall that I have been to, I just imagine myself sitting and looking at the water and listening to the water as it splashes off the rock.

Breathing… square breathing, breathing from the chest, a sigh and other breathing techniques.

There is also something called Progressive Muscle Relaxation where you try to relax one muscle at a time in your body.

There are a number of good websites that have grounding techniques; here are some of them…
And here is a video that I like…

Hopefully one of these techniques will work for you or that you can develop a technique of your own through the tools that I have listed here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #459

1. U is for UBER: What topic might people accuse you of being a bit “too extreme” about?
I don’t even have to think about the answer… equality.

2. U is for ULCER: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most stressed, what is your stress level in an average week?
3, being retired is not very stressfull.

3. U is for UMPIRE: If you had to officiate any sport, which one do you think you’d have the most trouble dealing with?
Any of them since I have no idea what are the rules.

4. U is for UNDERWATER: Which sea creature would you most fear if you were diving in the ocean?
The moray eel, they have very big teeth.

5. U is for UNDERWEAR: Which color are most of your undergarments?
I'm traditional, white.

6. U is for URBAN: Would you most prefer to live somewhere more urban, somewhere more rural, or somewhere more suburban?
I like it right where I am now, in the suburbs. Our cottage is out in the middle of nowhere and if you forget something at the store it is forty minutes round trip (it makes it great for ordering pizza, as soon as you order and jump into your car you can get there in 20 minutes).
I lived in the city when  was in  college and it is way too noisy, sirens, loud cars, loud music and loud parties.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday 9: Stormy Weather

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Stormy Weather

1) Do noisy storms scare you?
No, I love the excitement!

2) Mother Winters tells us Lena Horne was considered one of the great beauties of the 1940s. Whom do you consider one of today's most beautiful women?
What you want me to get in trouble? I pass on the grounds that whoever I say will make someone else mad at me.

3) Crazy Sam admits it -- there's a big bag of recycling she really should take out to the bin. Yet she's composing this meme. What should you be doing, instead of answering her questions?
Getting ready to drive up to Peabody for a conference; I have to pick up two other people on the way up.

4) Sam may be crazy, but she's not stupid and will never waste her money on Cialis, no matter how many unsolicited emails she receives! What's the most recent addition to your spam folder?
Something about low testosterone, as if I need any of that.

5) What was the last thing you cooked?
Bacon and eggs.

6) Do you remember the lyrics to your either your high school or college fight song? If so, please share a bit.
Nope, I don’t even remember the song.

7) "Samantha" is the feminine of "Samuel" and means "Listener." What's the derivation of your first name?
I done even know if there is one, maybe Dino

8) Are you following the NBA or NHL this year? If so, which team are you rooting for?
I don’t follow sports

9) Gloves, umbrellas, sunglasses, keys -- which of these do you misplace most often?
None; my gloves are in my coat packet, my umbrella is in the pocket on the driver side of the door, my sunglasses are in the overhead compartment in my card and my keys are attached to my pocketbook.

Now I'm out of here....

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins
1. Wow, this _cold is unbelievable _.
2. _What was the coldest it has been in Connecticut is good for_ trivia.
3. Finally, I'm _starting to get warm_.
4. _Getting above freezing is_ all right with me.
5. Sweet or savory: _answer, lobster meat_.
6. _The shoes_ are new.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _curl up in front of the fire and read_, tomorrow my plans include _going to a conference in Peabody Massachusetts _ and Sunday, I want to _finish my book_!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Writing Us Out Of History

I was going to write my Thursday “My Story” when I read a post on Facebook about an article on Bilerico about a NPR show…
NPR Re-Writes LGBT History Edition [What You Need To Know]
Filed By E. Winter Tashlin
January 23, 2013
The piece was ostensibly intended to provide background on the Stonewall Riots for people who may have been unfamiliar with the historic reference President Obama made during his second inaugural address. Unfortunately, Ms. Halloran's piece, which as of 4:30am EST Wednesday morning was top of NPR's "most shared" list, is one of the most blatant examples of what could only be considered trans* and non-conformist erasure I've ever seen.

How, one might wonder, is it possible to write an account of the Stonewall raid and subsequent uprising without any mention of the pivotal role played by drag queens and trans* women? As hard as it is to imagine, Ms. Halloran has done exactly that.

In fact, the only mention of drag found in the article is an assurance by Stonewall veteran Martin Duberman that the Stonewall Inn was not in fact "filled" with "drag queens and street hustlers." Equally disturbing, the piece explicitly states that "gay men resisted police harassment," despite the fact that the presence of trans* women among those fighting back that night, and throughout the days that followed, is an accepted part of the history of the Stonewall Riots.
What he was talking about is this…
Stonewall? Explaining Obama's Historic Gay-Rights Reference
by Liz Halloran
January 22, 2013

The Stonewall Inn, in Greenwich Village, was one of the few places where gay men, almost all necessarily closeted, could gather. It was an unlicensed establishment because, at the time, it was illegal to serve alcoholic beverages to gay people.
Ms. Halloran goes on to say…
The New York Daily News a few days later, in a story headlined "Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad," characterized the riot as exploding "with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb."

The rioting continued for five nights.

It wasn't the first time gay men had pushed back, said [Martin] Duberman, who earned his doctorate at Harvard, taught at Princeton and Yale, and as a distinguished professor at the City University of New York founded the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies.

Gay men in San Francisco had already been protesting their treatment at the hands of police. But, for whatever reason, he said, "Stonewall somehow became the symbol for all of this."

From the Stonewall uprising came activists groups, gay-rights organizations, and in 1970, the first Gay Pride marches in New York and other major American cities on the anniversary of the first night of the riots.
The article mentions that there was an article in the New York Daily News July 6, 1969 paper about the uprising , here is what the article had to say about Stonewall…
Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. "We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over," lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.
Hmm… “the queens had turned commandos” compared to what Ms. Halloran and Mr. Duberman wrote, “It wasn't the first time gay men had pushed back.” It seems we lost something in the telling… the “Queens.”

The NY Daily News goes on to say,
The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.
The police are sure of one thing. They haven't heard the last from the Girls of Christopher Street.
In an article in the 1998 Workers World by Leslie Feinberg of an interview with Sylvia Rivera a trans-woman who was actually at the Stonewall Uprising, Ms. Rivera said…
It was street gay people from the Village out front-homeless people who lived in the park in Sheridan Square outside the bar-and then drag queens behind them and everybody behind us. The Stonewall Inn telephone lines were cut and they were left in the dark.
The Stonewall uprising involved the entire LGBT community, gays, lesbian, bisexuals and transgender people were all there. Some argue that when they say “Gays” that they mean the entire LGBT community, but that writes out of history three quarters of the people that were there and also in the article the authors say specifically “gay men.” The other argument is that back then everyone was lumped under the “Gay umbrella” that trans-people didn’t have their own identity yet and that is true, but when you write articles about it now that is no excuse.

The Ms. Halloran wrote that “From the Stonewall uprising came activists groups, gay-rights organizations, and in 1970, the first Gay Pride marches…” many of those groups kicked out any gay, lesbian and especially trans-people who did not blend into society. Sylvia Rivera was one of the founders of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and she was kicked out because she didn't pass as a straight man, she was what we now would call queer and she was proud of it.

One last point, many of people involved in Stonewall were Latino or black. Sylvia Rivera was Latino and Miss Majors is black and they too are being written out of history as it becomes gay and white.

You might want to read “Still at the back of the bus”: Sylvia Rivera’s struggle by Jessi Gan

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Trans Rights Now Part 2

After I wrote the blog for this morning's post last night, I got an email about a Pledge to add to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, here is the Pledge…

    IN ORDER TO FULFILL the promises of life and liberty, and to ensure equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the United States Constitution;

    TO PROTECT the inalienable human right to be safe from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as required by international law and treaty; and

    TO END the systemic stigmatization, cease the societal rejection and heal the suffering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans as mandated by conscience;

    WE, the undersigned, pledge our support for the passage of omnibus LGBT equality legislation that grants full non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity equal to those accorded other statuses under existing civil rights laws and Supreme Court jurisprudence, specifically including:

        Public Accommodations (Title II, 1964 Civil Rights Act)(e.g., restaurants, hotels, theaters)
        Public Facilities (Title III, 1964 Civil Rights Act) (e.g., courthouses, jails, hospitals, parks)
        Federally-Funded Programs (Title VI, 1964 Civil Rights Act) (e.g., adoption, police, schools, homeless youth, health care)
        Employment (Title VII, 1964 Civil Rights Act; 1978 Civil Service Reform Act; 1991 Government Employee Rights Act; 1995 Congressional Accountability Act; 10 U.S.C. Ch. 37) (e.g., civilian and military government, private sector)
        Housing (Title VIII, 1968 Civil Rights Act, aka the Fair Housing Act) (e.g., rental, purchase, finance)
        Education (Title IX, 1972 Education Amendments Act) (e.g., schools, bullying)
        Credit (1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act) (e.g., credit cards)
        Federal Marriage Equality (based on gender/sexual orientation) (e.g., 1967 Supreme Court Decision, Loving v. Virginia)
        Immigration, Disability, and Family Leave (Uniting American Families Act (proposed), the American With Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act)

    We call upon the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to lead the way by filing an omnibus LGBT equality bill immediately that includes all of the provisions enumerated above.

    We further call upon Congress, and all candidates for elected office, to sign this pledge to pass such omnibus LGBT equality legislation immediately, but no later than 2014 -- the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- fulfilling both their individual duty and that of the United States government to ensure justice, equality, and fundamental human rights protections for all Americans.
This is something that I have been advocating for a long time, I agree with the Pledge; however, it is missing one thing. Gender Expression.

When we were fighting to pass Connecticut’s gender inclusive anti-discrimination law one of the thing that we were very conscious of was that we needed both gender identity and gender expression because without gender expression crossdressers would not be covered by the law. Also without gender expression an employer could theoretically say that he had no problem with you being transsexual but had a problem with you dressing in your true gender. It would also not cover gender variant people who dress androgynous or the feminine man or the masculine woman.

Many of the court cases that resulted in the Connecticut CHRO ruling that trans-people were covered under the existing sex discrimination law were about how people dressed or looked or behaved. Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins Supreme Court case was one of the rulings that resulted in our protection. The Price Waterhouse case was also a factor in last year’s EEOC ruling. In the Price Waterhouse the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII covered appearance as well as sex discrimination. In the Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services case the Supreme Court found that it was sexual harassment when a straight man with long hair and an earring was harassed because of the way that he expressed himself. There was also a case where an employee of Winn Dixie was fired when they found out that he crossdressed, without gender expression this would still be legal.

So we need both gender identity and expression one without the other will not work and I will not support the Pledge as it is written now, but this is a step in the right direction.

Update 10:45PM: The author  posted this reply to a similar question...
Yes, of course. This is covered in the definition being used for Gender Identity that is intended to address Expression directly (this is standard language in many LGBT federal bills). Here it is:

(2) GENDER IDENTITY- The term ‘gender identity’ means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.

Here is the link again to the full legal details:

Trans Rights Now!

Photo courtesy of Deja 
Whenever the trans-community lobbies for a bill on gender identity and expression the opposition among other things claims that it is special rights for only a few people. However, in all the legislation that I know nowhere does it say anything about transgender. The bills usually give a definition something like,
"Gender identity or expression" means a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth… (CT Public Act 11-55).
Notice that nowhere in the definition does it say anything about being transgender. This is important because the law isn’t meant to be exclusive but inclusive of anyone who crosses the gender normal, they do not have trans or gay or lesbian or even genderqueer, the law protects the guy who happens to wear his hair long and maybe has an earring or a women who has her hair cut short and likes to wear men tailored suits. If he or she is being discriminated against because they do not dress or look gender appropriately then they are covered by the law.

The anti-discrimination laws do not mean that you must approve of a person or change your religious beliefs or you have to treat a person special because they are gender variant. It does mean that you have to treat that person just as you would treat anyone else who walks into your store or you are hiring or are giving a loan or renting a room.

In PolicyMic Andrea Ayres finishes up her editorial with…
Trans individuals still fight for the right to exist, to be included, in our society. I, as a cisgendered [is someone who self-identifies with the gender they were born with.] person, never have to think about my inclusivity. It is generally assumed. That is why our language, the pronouns we use day-to-day, must be more inclusive. This may seem like a small step, but it isn't. Language has always been a reflection of our culture. Our treatment of trans individuals is a reflection of our society and we have a lot of work to do.
How we as a nation treat people who look or act outside the norm is a reflection on all of us. Diversity is what made this country so great.

Part 2 this afternoon.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Everyone probably knows what those initials stand for. Over on the right side of my blog you can see some of my favorite quotes and many of them are from Rev. Martin Luther King and the quotes are about oppression and human rights. However, Rev. King never made any public statements in support of LGBT people, but given the era that he lived that is not in itself an indication of what he thought. Back in the 60s being LGBT was a crime and that persecution was what lead to the Stonewall Uprising.

What we do know was,
What did MLK think about gay people?
By John Blake, CNN
January 16, 2012

(CNN)– Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was writing an advice column in 1958 for Ebony magazine when he received an unusual letter.

“I am a boy,” an anonymous writer told King. “But I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don't want my parents to know about me. What can I do?”

In calm, pastoral tones, King told the boy that his problem wasn’t uncommon, but required “careful attention.”

“The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired,” King wrote. “You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”

We know what King thought about race, poverty and war. But what was his attitude toward gay people, and if he was alive today would he see the gay rights movement as another stage of the civil rights movement?
What he did not say is just as important as what he said. He did not condemn the boy, he did not say it was a sin, he did not say he was damned and going to Hell. He just told the boy to be careful and that life was going to be hard. To me that sounds like a compassionate response, not condemnation. 

There is no private or public record of King condemning gay people, Perry says. Even the FBI’s surveillance of King’s private phone conversations didn’t turn up any moment where King disparaged gay people, she [Ravi Perry, a political science professor at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts]says.
Though King was a Christian minister, he didn’t embrace a literal reading of the Bible that condemns homosexuality, some historians say. King’s vision of the Beloved Community – his biblical-rooted vision of humanity transcending its racial and religious differences – expanded people’s rights, not restricted them, they say.
He was friends with Bayard Rustin who was an openly gay civil rights. In an article on Nadra Kareem Nittle writes,
…however, the Rev. Martin Luther King allowed an openly gay civil rights activist named Bayard Rustin to serve as his advisor. Rustin played a pivotal role in organizing the 1963 March on Washington and other seminal events during the civil rights movement. Although King reportedly received criticism for aligning himself so closely with an out gay man, he didn’t bow to their prejudice.
If you judge Rev. King by his actions, I would like to think that he would have supported us and equality for all people.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fair & Balanced

OK, when you hear “fair and balanced” what do you think of?

The Free Dictionary defines…
  • 6.
    • a. Having or exhibiting a disposition that is free of favoritism or bias; impartial: a fair mediator.
    • b. Just to all parties; equitable: a compromise that is fair to both factions.
  • 6. A harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements, as in a design. See Synonyms at proportion.
  • 7. An influence or force tending to produce equilibrium; counterpoise.

Fox Nation posted this image on their website for an article on Oregon and Washington states new insurance regulations for health insurance for trans-people.

Does this look “Fair and Balanced”? Or do think it is to mock and to degrade transgender people?

But then we always knew that Fox is ultra-right wing and little things like the truth never stopped them from a good story. They have since changed the photo, even they realized that they went too far.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Saturday Six #458

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #458

1. T is for TALKER: Which specific topic tends to get a lot of attention on your blog?
Hmmm… do you want to guess?

2. T is for TELEPHONE: Who was the last person you spoke to on a telephone?
My broker.

3. T is for TIME: Which do you usually have the most difficulty doing: getting to work on time or leaving work on time?
Umm… I’m retired, so it is definitely not about work. However, I have a hard time getting to meetings on time, somehow I always run a couple of minutes late.

4. T is for TOUCAN: If you could own any kind of bird (and feeding and housing wouldn’t be an issue), which bird would you like to own?
A crow because they are so smart. They know which side of the road they are on and they don’t fly off if the car is coming from the other direction. When they do fly off they just fly a couple of feet to the side of the road.

5. T is for TOY: What do you own at this point that you consider your favorite “toy”?
My camera.

6. T is for TYPEWRITER: At what age did you first start learning to type?
Gee, that was over fifty years ago and it probably was when I was a senior in high school. To this day I still use the Christopher Columbus method of typing… Discover it and land on it.

Saturday 9: Bette Davis Eyes

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Bette Davis Eyes

1) Has anyone ever told you that you resemble a celebrity?
Nope, I hate to think of a celebrity looking like me.

2) Is there an actress or actor whose movies you make it a point to see?
Nope, if I want to see a movie it is because of the movie, not who’s in it.

3) We're stopping for refreshments before we go in to see the movie. What's your refreshment stand order?
A bottle of water and a bag of carrots. Yummm!

4) When did you last consume an alcoholic beverage? What was it?
I think it was Christmas Eve that I had a glass of wine.

5) Are you jumpy? Do you startle easily?
Yes, very.

6) Do you wear a watch?
Yes, I’m lost without a watch. Which reminds me, I have to buy a new battery for it.

7) When was the last time you tried a new restaurant?
New Eve, we stopped at the little place on the way back from visiting the mansions in Newport Rhode Island.

8) What color is your wallet?
Red. I got it in a Yankee Swap.

9) How much does it have in coins right now?
Way too much, I need to put it in my change bottle.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Fill-ins

Yikes!!!!  I lost a day someplace, I thought today was Thursday until I saw Kwizgiver post!

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins
1. I love the feeling _clean sheets_ in the morning.

2. Seeing _the sun_ always brightens my day.

3. _The doctor telling me that I have diabetes_ is what I will remember the most from 2012.

4. My favorite family recipe is _ Poppy Seed and Nut Rolls ( Potica )_.

5. When I want to spoil myself I have _to make lobster Newberg_.

6. _Lately I have been watching Castle which_is my favorite TV show.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _watch a movie (I’ll pick one from Netflix)_, tomorrow my plans include _going for a walk_ and Sunday, I want to _visit some friends_!

My Story Part 149 – Photos

Over the years I have gotten many comments on my photos and I thought I might write today about how I learned to take photographs.

Back in 1971 when I graduated with my associate degree, my parents bought me a 35mm camera, a Minolta SRT102. That fall I went to Rochester Institute of Technology, RIT besides being an engineer college it also has a world renown School of Photography. So every time I took a picture I had a half a dozen photo majors critiquing my pictures. Why did you take the picture frame that way, why didn’t you frame it this way…? Over time I started to see what made a picture a photograph.

Of course wherever you went someone always had a camera with them. Back then I was doing a lot of backpacking in the wilds of the Adirondacks. On one excursion one of my friends brought an 8x10 view camera, you know those big boxy camera that you put the cloth over your head so you can compose the photograph on the ground glass. Because it is so big and cumbersome we each carried a part of the camera, I carried the negative plates. As he was taking photographs with the 8x10, were all were taking photos and I was taking photos with my Minolta. Afterward we compared photographs and critiqued them, I didn’t do that great in my classes but I did learn what made a good photograph.

At RIT they had over 400 darkrooms and non-photo majors could use any that were not being used by the photo majors (we could also check-out photo equipment that wasn’t being used). So I learned how to develop my own film and when I graduated I made a darkroom in my basement to print my own photos.

The other thing that helped me learn photography was the Time Life series of books on photography that I still have today. Each of the two dozen or so books was a different lesson. Whenever a new book came I tried out all the lessons in the book. How focal length is affected by the f-stop, what the effect of shuttle speeds does to a photograph and each book had photographs by famous photographers like Ansel Adams and W. Eugene Smith.

But in the early eighties I gave it all up because it was getting too expensive with the film and processing.

Then in the late nineties at work they bought a digital camera and I realized that once again I could take photographs cheaply again (One of the things about take photos is that you never just take one photograph, you take many. You try many different settings, exposures, etc. So for that one spectacular photograph you might take fifty or more photos.). 

So over time I have collected by best photographs into a slideshow…

When I’m shooting I get lost in my inner world, I zone out, I’m just focusing on my photography. For me it is the ultimate form of relaxation. One time I was photographing a waterfall in the middle of the woods, a 100 yards off the trail and I was so focused on shooting the falls that I never noticed the audience that formed behind me. When I stopped taking pictures and looked around there were about a half a dozen people watching me.   

The photo on the right my cousin took of me when I was photographing the sailboat on Toddy Pond in Blue Hills ME. I never knew she was taking photos of me taking photos until she sent me this photograph.

My Story is a weekly series of blog posts about my transition and observation of life as a trans-person.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

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 the last couple of weeks.

First we start off in New Hampshire…
New Hampshire Governor Makes Inclusiveness the Order of the Day
Op-ed By Karen Morgan
New Durham, New Hampshire
January 9, 2013

Last week, Governor Hassan spoke about the importance of being inclusive.  She spoke about bringing people in from the margins of society and of how these actions can make our state and our nation stronger…
Hmmm… I wonder does the governor also include trans-people when she talks about inclusion and the “margins of society?” If you remember it was in New Hampshire where the gender inclusive anti-discrimination legislation got so badly trounced that not even the sponsors of the bill voted for it.

The next article is not about trans-issues but it is of importance to us,
Marines tell spouses clubs: admit same-sex spouses
Federal Radio News
Wednesday - 1/9/2013, 5:15pm EST
AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - The Marine Corps has advised its legal staff that spouses clubs operating on its installations must admit same-sex spouses if they wish to remain on the bases.

It's a step that the other service branches have not yet announced as they grapple with how to accommodate same-sex couples following repeal of the don't ask, don't tell policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly.

Underscoring the challenges, the Marines' legal advisory _ obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press _ refers to an ongoing controversy at the Army's Fort Bragg in North Carolina where the officers' spouses club has denied admission to a same-sex spouse.

The Marine Corps commandant's Staff Judge Advocate, in an e-mail to legal offices throughout the corps, said the Fort Bragg events had "caused quite a stir" and cautioned, "We do not want a story like this developing in our backyard."

The memo noted that spouses clubs and various other private institutions are allowed to operate on bases only if they adhere to a non-discrimination policy encompassing race, religion, gender, age, disability and national origin.

"We would interpret a spouses club's decision to exclude a same-sex spouse as sexual discrimination because the exclusion was based upon the spouse's sex," the memo said.
They are on government property, therefore they should be open to all service members and their families. I hope that one day it will also include trans-service members.

The next article is about one part of the trans-community that faces discrimination and oppression, the Latino community.
Transgender Latinos forge their own path, help others
NBC Latino
By Erika L. Sánchez

At the Clínica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, Victoria Ortega, 33, focuses on women’s health, HIV prevention, beautification, and safety. As a transgender woman and community organizer, she actively incorporates LGBTQ issues into her community-building in the neighborhood.
Latino/a transgender people often live in extreme poverty. According to a National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) survey, twenty-eight percent of transgender Latinos reported a household income of less than $10,000 a year, which is nearly double the rate for transgender people of all races, more than five times the general Latino/a population rate, and seven times the general U.S. population rate. For non-citizen Latino/a participants, the poverty rate was 43 percent. The unemployment rate for Latino/a transgender people is 20 percent.
When someone transitions in a community that is already marginalized they not only face the oppression that their community faces but also the additional discrimination because they are trans. The affects are not additional but multiplicational.

Lastly, in San Francisco a trans-woman is suing his former school and employer for discrimination.
San Francisco transgender man sues school over alleged mistreatment
S.F. Examiner
By: Chris Roberts
1/14/13 8:44 PM

A man is suing his former school and employer, alleging that positive reviews and recommendations all turned sour and that his supervisors took retaliatory actions after he disclosed his transgender status.
All of a sudden, positive reviews turned to bad ones, and a promised postdoctoral internship evaporated. One of his supervisors began repeatedly using the word “tranny” in his presence and school records were altered in an attempt to deny him a job, Bennett alleges in a lawsuit filed late last year against the university’s California School of Professional Psychology.
Milnes allegedly repeatedly used the word “tranny” in front of Bennett in class, and Wells allegedly told peers and supervisors to “watch Bennett” and “make sure he doesn’t do anything inappropriate,” according to the lawsuit, which alleges workplace discrimination and harassment and failure to promote.
“We pride ourselves on our diversity,” she [Alliant Vice President Jennifer Wilson] said. “We would never condone transgender discrimination.”
Schools and businesses may have the best non-discrimination policies on record but if they don’t enforce them or only pay lip service to the policies you are going to have incidents like this. And talk about discrimination, the newspaper should give their reporters training in the proper use of pronouns. The misuse of pronoun is almost, if not the same as the discrimination she faced at work.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

U.S. Law Suit Against Uganda Anti-LGBT Laws – Update

Last Monday (Jan. 7) there was a hearing held in Springfield MA against a U.S. citizen who is backing the Uganda law to make being LGBT punishable by life in prison.

There have been a number of articles in the news about the hearing, Mass Live reported that…
SPRINGFIELD – A lawsuit pitting Ugandan gay activists against local evangelist Scott Lively drew more than 150 people to U.S. District Court Monday for arguments inside and outside the courthouse.

After Judge Michael A. Ponsor spent 90 minutes questioning lawyers for both sides on Lively’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, dozens of protesters holding signs gathered on the courthouse steps to denounce the pastor just several blocks from his “Holy Grounds” coffee house on State Street.
Lively’s supporters, though outnumbered, also carried signs and engaged in mostly polite discussions with the other side.
The judge had this to say about the case,
Summing up the legal issues, Ponsor said the case involved both Lively’s free speech protection against the rights of sexual minorities to equal protection under the law.

In particular, Ponsor said he was troubled by the lack of specifics in the lawsuit linking Lively’s anti-gay activities to acts of oppression against gays in Uganda.

“I’m frankly struggling to see what behavior beyond expressive behavior” of Lively violated federal law, the judge said.

The plaintiffs, the judge added, would be strengthened by a “more concrete example of, for lack of a better term, misbehavior to justify continuation of the lawsuit.”

Ponsor also expressed skepticism about Lively’s request to dismiss the suit before trial, noting that federal law sets a high legal threshold for throwing out cases.
Religious Dispatches had this to say about the hearing…
Lively, who is widely credited with “inspiring” the “kill the gays” bill that Parliament could consider in February, is represented by the Liberty Counsel, a conservative evangelical legal group affiliated with Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University, and itself home to some of the most anti-gay activists in the public arena. Lively’s lawyer, Harry Mihet, said in an online conversation hosted by The Huffington Post on Tuesday that the case is “ridiculous and frivolous.” He echoed claims that Liberty Counsel has been making that the lawsuit is an effort to silence Lively and others for expressing their personal beliefs about homosexuality.
Liberty Counsel which is part of the university founded by Jerry Falwell, is the organization that is trying to block the law that prohibits children younger than 18 from undergoing treatment to "cure" them of homosexuality. This case revolves around two issues free speech and the Alien Tort Statute; the Advocate explained the case this way…
Monday's arguments centered around Lively's motion to dismiss the case on the basis of First Amendment guarantees of free speech. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights advanced the argument that Lively's decade-long collaboration with religious and political leaders in Uganda to oppress LGBT people there is punishable under the Alien Tort Statute, which gives "survivors of egregious human rights abuses, wherever committed, the right to sue the perpetrators in the United States," according to the Center for Justice and Accountability.
A New York Times article said that,
One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.
Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.
Therein lies the crux of the issue, did Mr. Lively merely go to Uganda to give talks or did he know that he would be lobbying for the Uganda law. The first is protected by free speech but the second is inferring with the internal politics of a country by a US citizen which is prohibit by the Alien Tort Statute.

Here is a video from outside the courthouse…

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

HRC Municipal Equality Index

Last week the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released their 2012 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) and they say…
The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories: non-discrimination laws; relationship recognition; the municipality’s employment practices; inclusiveness of city services; law enforcement; and municipal leadership.  Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 137 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation – these include the 50 state capitals, the 50 most populous cities in the country, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples.  Seattle and other 100-point cities serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services.
The report states, “11 Cites Scored 100%” and that 25% of the cities scored 85% or better (Hartford CT scored an 95%).


You know that there is always a “but” and in this case it is a BIG one as far as the trans-community is concerned.

Did do you notice anything about the MEI?

We are Bonus Points!

To get a 100% they do not have to have health insurance for trans-people. The HRC says that in the future they will require health insurance coverage for all medically necessary treatments but right now we are only 4 bonus points. In their criteria for the MEI they say,
Transgender Inclusive Health Benefits (Bonus Points).
The city offers health and short-term disability benefits that include medically necessary treatments and procedures for all employees, including transgender employees. Cities, as employers, should work with their insurance carriers or administrators to remove transgender exclusions from their group health insurance plans and provide comprehensive transgender-inclusive insurance coverage. Because these benefits are not available to many of the cities rated in the MEI, a municipality that offers transgender-inclusive health benefits will score four bonus points. However, in future years these points will be folded into the standard 100 points.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Who Would Have Thought!

With all the talk of the “Fiscal Cliff” and a balanced budget what do you think some of the first bills that were introduced in the House were? You are wrong, they were not balanced budget bills but bills to deny funding to Planned Parenthood.
Anti-Women’s Health Legislators Didn’t Waste Any Time in the First Days of Congress

Here’s a list of the top five most ridiculous federal bills affecting women’s health and abortion access introduced in the first two days of session!

    H.R. 23: Sanctity of Human Life Act
    H.R. 23 is as extreme as it gets.  A “personhood” bill to define life as beginning at fertilization, this measure could ban abortion with no exceptions, block access to forms of birth control, and outlaw medical treatments such as in vitro fertilization or the treatment of pregnant women with cancer.  Voters in conservative states like Mississippi and Colorado have already rejected this extreme and dangerous measure by overwhelming margins, but that didn’t stop Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) prioritizing this for the first full day of session.
    H.R. 61: Title X defunding bill
    Sound familiar? In 2011, Rep. Mike Pence introduced a bill to defund Planned Parenthood.  He was even willing to shut down the government over the issue.  But ultimately, after a long battle, this dangerous and extreme bill was defeated in the Senate, with a final bipartisan vote 42-58.  Mike Pence is no longer in Congress (unfortunately, he will be the new governor of Indiana) but that doesn’t mean his ideas have simply disappeared.  Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn introduced a bill to continue what Pence was unable to do: bar Planned Parenthood from participating in federal health programs.  Did we suddenly end up back in 2011? So far though, not much appetite for it. It has zero co-sponsors.
    H.R. 217: Title X Defunding Bill
    Call it a case of deja-déjà vu. Not to be outdone by her fellow Tennessee representative, Congresswoman Diane Black also introduced a bill designed to block Planned Parenthood from participating in the nation’s Title X family planning program.  At least she’s managed to get some co-sponsors.
What is the definition of insanity… something about repeating the same thing over and over and expecting deferment results? You would have thought that the Republicans would have learned some thing from the last elections

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Open And Affirming

We often hear only about churches that are against LGBT people, they are the ones that the news media brings out for interviews whenever the news topic is marriage equality or human rights for us. The media doesn’t want people who agree, they want to create controversy… it sells newspapers.

However, there are churches that are open and affirming.
Cameron Partridge, Transgender Episcopal Priest And University Chaplain, On Crossing Boundaries
Huffington Post
Gay Voices
Posted: 01/04/2013

“I seemed to need to pass through a certain kind of fear before I could embrace a fuller vocation to contribute to conversations on trans and wider LGBT equality in and outside ecclesial contexts, as well as to explore these themes in academic contexts.”

That's how Cameron Partridge, a Massachusetts-based Episcopal priest-turned-university chaplain, describes his motivation to engage in advocacy and political action since transitioning from female to male over a decade ago.

The subject of a compelling new Religion & Politics profile, Partridge is reportedly one of just seven openly transgender clergy in the Episcopal Church. Since 2011, he's also served as chaplain to Boston University, giving him the distinction of being one of the first transgender chaplains at a major U.S. university, too.
As the article mentioned she is only one of several priest in the Episcopal Church and they have numerous lesbian and gay priests included a gay Bishop (Who I think might have retired recently).

When I came out to my brother he said that one of the reasons why he was so accepting was that as treasurer of his local Episcopal Church, he worked with the lesbian priest and got to know her as a person.  When I was first exploring my coming out I went to Twenty Club (a support group for trans-people) meetings that were held at the time in an Episcopal church in Hartford and the meetings were facilitated by an openly gay priest, the Rev. Cannon Clinton Jones. I also know an out transgender Episcopal priest that I have known for probably over ten years now and she is on the Board of Directors of CTAC with me. In addition, when the hearing to pass the Connecticut gender inclusive anti-discrimination law an Episcopal bishop spoke in favor of the law (there was also one Episcopal priest that spoke against it).

So please do not paint all religion in a broad brush, some of them are open and affirming.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Six #457

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #457

1. S is for SEW: What is the extent of your sewing talent?
Hey! I can sew on a button.

2. S is for SHOPPING: Which store do you dread visiting the most?
Stores with men in tool belts. Way too much  testosterone there.

3. S is for SONG: What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?
That hasn't happened in awhile, at least not that I remember.

4. S is for SPEED: As a general rule, how close (in miles per hour) do you stay to a posted speed limit?
I usually only drive 5 mph over the speed limit.

5. S is for STRIP: Would you be more or less likely to attend a party if you knew strippers would be present?
Long story there, but the answer is no.

6. S is for SUGAR: When you want to sweeten something, are you more likely to use real sugar, the pink packet, the blue packet or the green packet?
I use to use the brown packet, raw sugar. But now I have add sugar to anything in almost a year.

Saturday 9: We Owned the Night

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: We Owned the Night

1) Can you recall a time when you danced and romanced like you "owned the night?"
I think it was when I went to my high school girl friend’s senior prom.

2) Samantha Winters admits she earned the name "Crazy Sam" during her party girl days in the 1980s. But now she's in bed by 11:00 PM. Do you have a regular bedtime?
11:15, right after the weather.

3) Lady Antebellum is one of the most popular acts in country music. Do you often listen to country music?
Country music all sounds the same to me, you know what they say if you play the song backwards? Your dog comes back, your wife comes back, your pick-up starts running again and you stop going to bars.

4) Are you responding to this meme on a desktop or laptop or phone or tablet?
Laptop on a wifi so I can watch movies in bed.

5) How often do you check your horoscope?

6) Congratulations! You just won a trip to Switzerland! Is your passport up to date?
Yes, it is only 1 year old. My old one was kind of neat; I had a permanent visa stamp to South Korea. Any time I wanted I could go to South Korea, but the thing is I never wanted to go there. However, my boss had other ideas but I avoided the bullet and never went and I had an ace in my pocket if my boss wanted me to go, my doctor said he would write a letter saying the 18 hour flight would be too stressful.

7) Do you know how to snow ski?
Yes, but the question should be can you ski. I am so out a shape that I’ll never make it down the slopes

8) What's the first beverage you drink in the morning?
Coffee, black

9) Are you a good speller?
I are a ingineer.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. Wake up _put on my glasses_.
2. _I will remember_ all the fun we had _together_.
3. Every picture _comes from the heart_.
4. _I like it when it is a_ little too quiet.
5. Stay with _me and we can have a lot of good times together_.
6. _Things can go wrong at a drop of a hat_ in a thousand ways.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _not much_, tomorrow my plans include _going to a support group meeting_ and Sunday, I want to _go with some friends walking (the temperature is supposed to get up to almost 60oF)_!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Story Part 149 – Trans Activism

My focus since the passage of the gender identity and expression anti-discrimination law here in Connecticut has been education. I have given a number of workshops and class lectures about the new law and this spring I signed up to give two workshops at conferences, the first one I have heard back yet on whether it has been accepted but the second on was accepted and it will be at the April conference of the Connecticut chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The workshop is titled “A Look at the Culture of the Transgender Community” and I hope to teach therapist about what to expect their transgender clients to face out in the world. In part the description for the workshop is,
When talking to members of the transgender community, we hear the same concerns repeatedly, that trans-people are hesitant to come out to their therapist because they fear that the therapist will not understand what they are going through. This workshop is designed to bridge that gap and to lay the groundwork for understanding of the needs and culture of individuals in the transgender community.
So I am excited that I will be presenting this workshop to my peers (I’m on the committee that picked the workshops so I had to recuse myself from the discussion.).

The other workshop that I submitted I haven’t heard back from them if my proposal was accepted yet, I should hear from them some time shortly. The conference is the True Colors Conference this March and the title of the workshop is, “Policies for Gender Variant Students” and the description that I submitted read,
This workshop will examine barriers that gender diverse students face in schools and how the non-discrimination law affects them. In a school system, some of the obstacles gender diverse students face in their educations can easily be overcome by having a policy in place. This workshop will cover briefly the transition process and the Connecticut anti-discrimination law. Then we will look at what a school policy should cover, such as name change, changing records and the use of bathrooms.
and I submitted it for the “Professional” track. The workshop is a spin-off of the speech that I gave this summer at the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) at the Legislative Office Building. It was well received there and hopeful it will be well received at the True Colors conference if it is accepted. I plan of using the CHRO’s booklet “Guidelines for Schools on Gender Identity and Expression” as an outline for the workshop. (The booklet was produced by the Safe School Coalition which I am member representing the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition (CTAC).)

I hope to do other workshops at other conferences around the Northeast to teach about our needs in the trans-community.

My Story is a weekly series of blog posts about my transition and observation of life as a trans-person.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Traveling While Trans

I am always very nervous when I travel out of the northeast. I particularly wary of traveling aboard or to the Caribbean, if you look at the list of names on the Transgender Day of Remembrance website you will find a high number of trans-people killed are from the Caribbean and Central America.

I saw a post on TransGriot blog that made me want to write about this topic and it got me thinking, will I ever be able to travel to the Caribbean. When I think of the islands of the Caribbean I think of this…
Cruising for a Bruisin’ When Cruise Lines Dock at Anti-Gay Ports
by Steffany Skelley Gilmer
EDGE Contributor
Sunday Dec 23, 2012

You may fly into Miami, ready to forget your troubles with a week-long cruise in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, LGBT citizens need to practice caution when planning a trip out of the country. Many ports of call here are homophobic. It is imperative that you educate yourself to the laws of your travel destinations -- your freedom could depend on it.

This year, two gay American men traveling on a cruise were accused of having sexual intercourse on the ship while it was docked at Dominica. Police boarded the ship and arrested the men on suspicion of indecent exposure and "buggery," the local equivalent to sodomy on the island.
I just shiver when I think about touring some of the island; their commercials show loving couples at sunset walking the beaches hand in hand but what would they do to an Out trans-woman? Will they welcome her with open arms or with a bat?

The article goes to say,
Same-sex sexual activity is not only illegal on the following islands, there are also penalties of imprisonment of at least ten years.

Barbados: (Life sentence)
Antigua and Barbuda: (15 years in prison)
Dominica: (10 years in prison)
Grenada: (Male: illegal and 10 year prison sentence. Female: legal)
Jamaica: (Male: illegal and 10 year sentence to hard labor. Female: legal)
Saint Kitts and Nevis: (Male: illegal and 10 year sentence. Female: legal)
Saint Lucia: (Male: illegal and a fine and/or 10 year sentence. Female: legal)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: (Fine and/or 10 years)
Trinidad and Tobago: (25 years prison sentence)

The barbaric laws of yesteryear still apply to some islands and LGBT travelers need to be wary of the ever-present threat of homophobia abroad. Foreign laws apply not just to locals but also to travelers and if you are arrested or detained don’t count on your cruise ship to wait for you. Many travelers have been left behind because they didn’t return to the ship before boarding time.
Notice nothing is mention about trans-people.

So I am a little leery when I read something like this…
Kamla praised for moves to remove laws against gays
Guardian Media
Published: December 29, 2012

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has been congratulated by regional and international organisations on her commitment to end discrimination against gay people in T&T [Trinidad and Tobago]. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an organ of the Organisation of American States (OAS), issued a statement on December 20 welcoming Persad-Bissessar’s comments in a letter to Lance Price of the UK-based Kaleidoscope Trust.
Will suddenly violence against LGBT people end with a stroke of a pen? Will it automatically change cultural bias? Also it says “end discrimination against gay people” does that also include trans-people?

I know that I will never visit the Caribbean, the only place I would even remotely consider traveling to are the Virgin Islands because they are the US and British territories; however, Puerto Rico is a little too iffy for me, there are parts that are trans-friendly but everywhere else I would be nervous in going there by accident.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Dr. Who Fans

Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It
Mad Norwegian Press is proud to announce the forthcoming publication of Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It, an essay collection in the tradition of the Hugo Award-winning Chicks Dig Time Lords. In this new release, award-winning authors from across the rainbow celebrate the phenomenon that is Doctor Who, examining the characters and stories that they love.
Essay contributors to this collection include Tanya Huff (Blood Ties), Melissa Scott (Trouble and Her Friends), John Richards (Outland), Paul Magrs (Hornets’ Nest), Gary Russell (Doctor Who script editor), Rachel Swirsky (Through the Drowsy Dark), Hal Duncan (Ink: The Book of All Hours), Amal El-Mohtar (The Honey Month), Brit Mandelo (Beyond Binary), Nigel Fairs (In Conversation with an Acid Bath Murderer), David Llewellyn (Night of the Humans), Susan J. Bigelow (Extrahumans), Jennifer Pelland (Machine), Mary Anne Mohanraj (Bodies in Motion), and Jed Hartman (Strange Horizons).
The schedule release date for the paperback is June 4th and the Kindle edition is the next day.

State of Transgender Movement Interview

Monday, January 07, 2013

U.S. Law Suit Against Uganda Anti-LGBT Laws

There is a law suit that is being held in Springfield MA against a U.S. citizen who is backing the Uganda law to make being LGBT punishable by life in prison.
Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively
Center For Constitutional Rights

On March 14, 2012, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a non-profit umbrella organization for LGBT advocacy groups in Uganda, against Abiding Truth Ministries President Scott Lively. Filed in the United States District Court in Springfield, Massachusetts, the suit alleges that Lively’s involvement in anti-gay efforts in Uganda, including his active participation in the conspiracy to strip away fundamental rights from LGBT persons, constitutes persecution. This is the first known Alien Tort Statute (ATS) case seeking accountability for persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


Oral Argument on the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss is set for Monday, January 7, 2013, at the federal courthouse in Springfield, Massachusetts.
This should be a very interesting trail, if you want to attend today’s court session there is a link to the directions to the courthouse in the article.

Here is a little background on the case…
Uganda gay group sues US minister over anti-gay bill
BBC News – US & Canada
15 March 2012

A Ugandan gay rights group has filed a lawsuit against a US minister accusing him of involvement in a campaign to persecute gay people in Uganda.
The case is based on a statute they say allows foreigners to file civil lawsuits against Americans for alleged violations of international law.

To mark the legal action, about 70 protesters marched from the US district court in Springfield, Massachusetts on Wednesday.

Mr Lively was one of several US evangelicals who visited Uganda in 2009 shortly before a bill was drafted that made certain homosexual acts punishable by death.

That bill has since been amended with a life prison sentence instead of the death penalty, but gay groups in Uganda say they have faced increasing threats since its introduction.

Mr Lively, who leads Abiding Truth Ministries, said he never told the Ugandan legislature to implement the death penalty and has informed them he disapproved of the punishment.
As I said this could be a very important case of international law and could very well set a precedent on how US citizen who interfere with another country politics on human rights can be sued.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Other Side Of The Coin

Last Sunday I wrote about the Pope’s Christmas speech, well today I writing about an article in the Catholic Reporter that I think will surprise you…
An epiphany of transgender lives reveals diversity in body of Christ
By James and Evelyn Whitehead
Jan. 5, 2013

Epiphany: insight or sudden realization. A revelation that both illumines and surprises.
To our own surprise, we have been blessed by such an epiphany. The past year has brought us deeper appreciation of the experience of transgender members of the human community. Mentored by a Catholic sister who has dedicated her life to ministry among transgender persons, we have been instructed by the witness of these often vulnerable members of the body of Christ. Their life stories carry a common theme: an abiding sense of "disconnect" between their inner sense of self and the evidence of their body. In their deepest awareness, gender identity (who I know myself to be) has been in conflict with the social role their physical anatomy suggests (who others expect me to be).

Attempting to conform to the expectations of their parents, spouses and children, transgender persons often struggle to override this sense of disconnect. Some enter into marriage, hoping this will suppress the daily reminders that they are not as they appear. Many more put effort into presenting a "false self" to the world, to protect against being discovered for who they really are. But the price of this unnatural effort is high. Alcohol and drugs offer false comfort along the way; suicide begins to appeal as an exit from this distress.

Those who are fortunate find the strength, often with the help of a therapist or spiritual director, to begin the journey toward self-acceptance. For most transgender persons, completing this transition takes several years. For some, the transition includes hormone treatment and gender-confirming surgery. And many report a profound shift in their spiritual lives, as they turn from the condemnation of a judging God ("You are going to hell") to the embrace of a God of paradox and extravagant love. This harrowing transition leads many to a confident embrace, at last, of "the person God always intended me to be."

The losses entailed in this transition are often grave: Earlier relationships are put at risk -- one's family ties, employment, network of friends. Many transgender persons resonate with the plight of the outcasts who so often appear in the Bible. Discrimination and threats of violence require daily vigilance. But the gains, too, are substantial: The false self, who has served as façade over many years, now falls away. The self who remains is highly vulnerable, but authentic at last.
Now this corresponds to what I learned in catechism class, love not hate.

He go on to talk about the teaching of the Church.
Many Catholics regret that official statements of the Catholic church continue to support rigid notions of human nature, especially in regard to male and female gender. Here church leaders, consciously or not, continue a strategy that distances them from the genuine experience of many active church members. Official statements often mention the extravagant conduct of sexual exhibitionists or drug-addicted sex workers as typical of transgender persons. Hiding in plain sight are the many mature transgender Catholics in our own parishes. To remain willfully ignorant of, or contemptuous toward, this part of the human community exhibits a startling lack of compassion.
When I was learning my catechism I was taught that Jesus was about love and acceptance, but somehow that message has gotten lost today.

The author also wrote another article for the Catholic Reporter about the Transgender Day of Remembrance where he wrote…
The words of Genesis, "male and female God made them," have often been interpreted as the foundation of theories of sexual dimorphism: Human nature was constructed in two and only two genders. Religious authorities reinforce this gender dichotomy as both theological doctrine and moral mandate.

Yet human experience records a dazzling diversity in God's creation, registered in humanity as well. When we find ourselves confused or even bewildered by the questions surrounding gender diversity, it is useful to recall that bewilderment sometimes serves virtuous purposes. As one historian of religion writes, bewilderment may "correct the inclination to unwarranted certainty." Our bewilderment, at first so unsettling, may serve as a portal to humility and open us to God's extravagance so generously on display throughout the world. St. Paul spoke of this diversity in bodily terms: "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (1 Corinthians 12:27). He counsels us that those most vulnerable members are to be cared for with the greatest respect; he reminds us that if one member suffers, all members suffer. And, in a conviction that has special relevance for transgender Christians, "No members can say to another, we do not need you."

We are more aware today that gender and anatomy are not the same. The first formation of gender takes place before we are born, under the influence of prenatal hormones that influence the fetal brain. While we are afloat in our mother's womb, our tiny bodies and brains are awash in these hormones. Powerful chemicals prompt the gradual development of male or female genitalia, as well as inscribing a sense of gender identity in the brain. Most often, the baby's anatomy will match the brain's sense of gender identity. But not always. Most transsexuals as early as childhood experience a powerful and enduring dissonance between the gender their bodies display and their interior sense of themselves as woman or man. For many, the search for gender integrity will entail a long and painful struggle. Spiritual health depends on a sorting out of this disconnect and moving toward a harmony in their experience of gender identity.
At the bottom of the articles that is a short paragraph about the author…
[James and Evelyn Whitehead have long been associated with the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago. A major focus of their teaching and writing is the vital links between sexuality and spirituality. Currently, they are examining the experience of transgender adults and the pastoral responses of communities of faith.]
Maybe it will only take 300 years for the Church to come around to realizing their error.

How To Motivate People