Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year In Review

OK, it is that time again when we look back at what happened over the last year; so…

This has been a good year, but quite year. Nothing much has happened over the year, there were stretches of boredom dotted with moments of flurry. In the spring I gave a workshop at True Colors conference at UConn and a workshop at the CT chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. The True Color’s workshop was on what a school policy on gender transition should include and the NASW workshop was on “Cultural Competence”

Also in the spring I went up to the cottage in New Hampshire with my brother to work on finishing the basement; a never ending project. I went up to the cottage almost every week during July and August for 3 days at a time; it was nice to be able to relax out on the deck and get away from the house. In July I went to the annual uniTy party in Vermont, I used to sleep over in a tent but I’ve gotten too old for sleeping on the ground and I drive up to the cottage instead.

In August the whole family celebrated my brother’s birthday at the lake. It is hard to think sometimes that we are now the family elders.

This fall I gave some talks at UConn, the first was at the School of Social Work where I was a guest lecturer for one of my former professors. A few weeks later I gave a workshop at the main campus in Storrs for the counselors and therapists there. Later in November I substituted for a friend while he was at a conference on the west coast, the class was a graduate class also at the main UConn campus in Storrs and the end of November saw me up there again for a panel discussion at the Rainbow Center. Then in December, I was on a panel at the UConn Health Center for medical and dental students. In the fall I submitted three workshop proposals for next spring and two of my workshops were accepted, they were for the Massachusetts chapter of the NASW conference and the True Colors Conference. I haven’t heard back from the Connecticut’s NASW chapter yet to see if I am giving another workshop in the spring.

If all that wasn’t enough, I am also on two committees, the Safe Schools Coalition and a committee on developing guidelines for LGBT elder care.

20 Years Ago Today

On this day back in 1993 Brandon Teena was raped and murdered in Humboldt, Nebraska. His life and death was documented in the movie “Boys Don’t Cry.” The Journal Star article on Sunday said,
Twenty years have passed since two Falls City men murdered Brandon Teena, Lisa Lambert and Philip DeVine in a shabby farmhouse on the outskirts of Humboldt.

Brandon Teena — who dated women and whose Nebraska-issued ID was marked male — was born a daughter and a sister on Dec. 12, 1972, in Lincoln and named Teena Renae Brandon.

Teena's death at the hands of two men furious after they learned the guy they'd been hanging out with was born a woman gripped Nebraska and the nation, inspiring an Academy Award-winning film, a documentary, a true crime novel and countless news articles and broadcasts.
What has changed in those twenty years?

We are still being murder and the assailants still use the “gay panic” defense. The numbers of trans-people being murdered each year has continued at an unacceptable level.

We now have hate crime laws in thirteen states and a federal hate crime law that covers us.

Back in 1983 most people never head of transgender and now in a 2011 almost 80% of the people polled know what transgender means. In the same 2011 poll they found that 89% of “Americans agree that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as other Americans.”

But consider that we also we still have people today who think that Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty isn't racist or homophobic.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Science Fiction…

I am an avid science fiction and fantasy reader, especially since I retired. One of my problems is finding good science fiction or fantasy books to read because a lot of the authors that I knew have passed away such as Robert A. Heinlein and Marion Zimmer Bradley, I loved her Darkover series but now I have read all her books and the books published after her death are good but not up to her standard. Elizabeth Moon has been around for a while and is still writing and I’m reading her Legend of Paksenarrion, and I loved her Vatta's War series.

Other series that I like is the Honor Harrington series by David Weber, and a new author Susan Jane Bigelow, I love her Extrahumans series. However, the problem is that I read them faster than they can write and I am always left wanting more.

So today I was searching  web for “transgender science fiction” to find my next book to read and I found these website book lists…
The first one is “Goodreads” and I found their Transgender Book Lists and another site that I found was Science Fiction for Lesbians and also The Bilerico Project has a Transgender Themes in Science Fiction page which also has a good selection that people posted in the comments. The Goodreads site isn’t just science fiction but contains all books with a transgender character or theme.

Two fiction books with transgender themes that I would recommend are Two Spirit Ranch: A Romance by Jaime Stryker and a book for young adults, Luna by Julie Anne Peters.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Are You Traveling This Holiday Season?

Well it might be a good time to review the TSA policy for traveling while trans,
TSA recognizes the concerns members of the transgender community may have with undergoing the security screening process at our Nation’s airports and is committed to conducting screening in a dignified and respectful manner. These travel tips will explain the various screening processes and technologies travelers may encounter at security checkpoints.
I know for me I am always a little nervous when traveling, so far I haven’t flown since I transitioned but I know the day will come when I have to fly to my destination. The first tip that the TSA has for us is,
Making Reservations: Secure Flight requires airlines to collect a traveler’s full name, date of birth, gender and Redress Number (if applicable) to significantly decrease the likelihood of watch list misidentification. Travelers are encouraged to use the same name, gender, and birth date when making the reservation that match the name, gender, and birth date indicated on the government-issued ID that the traveler intends to use during travel.
The TSA tips also include, Private Screening, Travel Document Checker, Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), Pat-Downs, Prosthetics, and Packing a Carry-on bag. Among the tips they give for packing a carry-on is,
Travelers may ask that bags be screened in private if a bag must be opened by an officer to resolve an alarm. Travelers should be aware that prosthetics worn under the clothing that alarm a walk through metal detector or appear as an anomaly during Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) screening may result in additional screening, to include a thorough pat-down. Travelers may request a private screening at any time during the security screening process.
For many of us traveling, especially for the first time can be stressful and being trans can add to that stress.

If you are thinking about taken a cruise, remember when they say LGBT friendly they may really mean lesbian and gay friendly. Last year Carnival Cruises’ “Drag Stars at Sea” cruise told passengers according to AmericaBlog that,
    Carnival attracts a number of families with children and for this reason; we strive to present a family friendly atmosphere. It is important to us that all guests are comfortable with every aspect of the cruise. Although we realize this group consists solely of adults, we nonetheless expect all guests to recognize that minors are onboard and, refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in public areas.

    Arrangements have been made for drag performances in the main theater featuring stars from LOGO TV. These functions will be private and only the performers are permitted to dress in drag while in the theater. Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public areas at any time during the cruise.

    We’re sorry to say that any guest who violates our policies and/or whose behavior affects the comfort and enjoyment of other guests, will be disembarked at their own expense and no refund will be given. (Carnival Cruises later rescinded the letter saying it was a mistake.)
So beware, when you think it is a LGBT friendly cruise the cruise line’s definition of “LGBT Friendly” might be very different from our definition and some of the ports that they travel to might have laws again trans-people.

San Diego Gay and Lesbian News said in a March 2012 editorial that, 
The arrest of a Palm Springs, Calif., couple on a gay cruise ship docked in Dominica is a crucial lesson for our times and a dire warning against complacency.

Despite incredible progress on the road to equality particularly in many western nations, despite bold proclamations in support of LGBT people by important world leaders such as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, don’t forget that there are 76 countries around the world where it is illegal to be gay.

A Real Life 'Albert Nobbs'

And life wasn’t kind to the real Albert Nobbs,
The 'Curing' of Australia’s First Transgender Man
One Irish maid lived as a man in 19th-century Melbourne for decades. The horrifying story of his discovery and “treatment” speaks to attitudes about transgender people that circulate to this day.
The Atlantic
By Olga Khazan
Dec 18 2013

Ellen Tremaye was not like most of the other passengers aboard the Ocean Monarch, a ship sailing from Ireland to Victoria, Australia in 1856. Though the 26-year-old, Irish domestic servant was traveling alone, she brought along a trunk full of men’s clothes labeled “Edward de Lacy Evans,” fueling speculation that she had been abandoned by a suitor after being tricked into bringing his belongings aboard. Then there was her unusual behavior: She wore the same green dress every day, but with trousers and a man’s shirt underneath. She told her fellow passengers that she was going to marry her ship-mate, Mary Delahunty, as soon as they reached Australia, and she reportedly had “intimate friendships” with two other women who shared her bunk at various points in the voyage.
Tremaye soon left the job and traveled to Melbourne. We don’t know precisely what drove what happened next, but at this point Tremaye transformed forever. He began using the name Edward De Lacy Evans, started dressing in men’s clothes, and married Delahunty. (In line with Evans’ apparent wish to live as a man, I’ll use male pronouns from this point forward.)

According to accounts from the time, the couple “did not live comfortably together,” and they separated in 1862.

Over the next two decades, Evans went on to remarry twice, all while working as a miner and blacksmith around Australia’s southeast, according to a history of Evans by the historian Mimi Colligan.
He was committed Lunacy Ward of the Bendigo Hospital where they found out that he was anatomically female,
Doctors diagnosed him with “cerebral mania” and “mental weakness,” and offered him only female attire to wear. He refused to wear it, or to eat, for days at a time. Over the course of Evans’ three-month treatment, physicians subjected him to extensive vaginal and rectal probing, during which he reportedly “sobbed and wept.”
Was he transsexual? Was she a lesbian who could live with a woman with raising questions of her sexuality? The story ends with…
“The story of Ellen Tremayne is an example of the lengths to which some women had to go in order to live as they wished,” Colligan wrote. “She gave false statements at her ‘marriages’, risked ostracism, and endured exposure to a gaping audience as a show-freak. However, dressing and living as men perhaps gave her a sense of power lacking in her female role.”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday Six #507

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #507

1. What did you like least about kindergarten?
Going to school, what I remember of the first day wakl to school was grabbing every telephone pole, sign or whatever I could hang on to avoid going as my mother and grandmother walked me to school.

2. What did you dread in elementary school?
It is very hard to remember back 55 years.

3. What did you like least about middle school or junior high?
We didn’t have a middle school back then; we had K-6 and 7-12.

4. What were you most self-conscious about in high school?
Being what is now called a nerd.

5. What single grade or year of school was your favorite and why?
Grad school, after 50 years I finally enjoyed school.

6. Think of the person from school you’ve known the longest and that you still keep in touch with: how long have you two known each other?
We met in second grade; however, all my old high school friends have grown apart in the last ten years or so.

Saturday 9: Baby, It's Cold Outside

Crazy Sam's Saturday 9: Baby, It's Cold Outside

1) How cold is it where you are?
Well it depends on what day it is, yesterday it didn’t make it out of the 20s, today it is supposed to be in the 40s.

2) This familiar song was introduced in a 1949 film called Neptune's Daughter. (watch a clip here). Name another movie song.On the way home from my niece’s on the day after Christmas I was listening to Sirius 60s channel when they played this song. Lulu was one of my favorite songs and I bought the album

3) Who was the last person to call you "baby?"
I don’t know if I ever called anyone “baby”

4) This time of year is important to college football fans. Have you watched/will you watch any bowl games?
I avoid football like the plague.

5)  Are you sad to see the holiday decorations begin to slowly disappear? Or do you think they should all come down right away?
I seen people who leave their lights up all year and all they do is just plug it in during Christmas and New Year’s. Before my next door neighbor moved away, he had one of those house where everyone wants to drive by and it created a pain when I tried to pull-in or leave my driveway.

6) Did you tell the truth about your weight on your driver's license, or did you shave off a pound or two?
Well the last time that they asked was way back in the 60s, my weight has changed a little.

7) Crazy Sam swears that the Echinacea she takes every morning keeps her healthy. Her boyfriend tells her she's wasting her money. Do you take any herbal supplements?
I take a probiotic every morning.

8) The average restaurant in the US tip is 18%. Are you a generous tipper?
Yes, I leave a 20% tip on the whole bill including the tax.

9) This is the last Saturday 9 of 2013. Do you know the lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne?"
I think that like most people I know the opening lines.
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?
Then after that we muddle along.

Friday, December 27, 2013

My Story Part 161 – Christmas

I haven’t written a “My Story” in many months, Christmas reminded me of Christmas past of dreaming of presents that I would never receive. But never is a long time and many things change.

In Christmases past I dreamed of getting clothes that were not ties, socks or flannel shirts, I dreamed of getting clothes that were silky or soft. This year dreams do come true, I got a nice scarf and this wasn’t the first year that I got what I wanted. In years past I have gotten earrings, necklaces, sweaters and other things that I always dreamed of getting.

In the past I always faked joy… Oh the tie is just what I wanted!

But a scarf is oh so versatile, you can’t do this with a tie…

CT Insurance Commissioner Requires Coverage For Us.

Connecticut now joins California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont and the District of Columbia to require health insurance coverage for trans-people. That means our health care for transition and hormones will now be covered under certain conditions. If you are insured by a Connecticut company you now get all your medical expenses covered, including hormones and Gender Conforming Surgery. However, if you employer is an ERISA (Employee Retirement Insurance and Security Act) then you may not be covered because they are under federal law, not state law. From what I understand if you have Medicaid I believe that you also would be covered, but not if you are covered by Medicare because Medicaid is a state plan while Medicare is a federal plan.

    State Requiring Heath Insurers To Cover Gender Transition
    Hartford Courant
    December 26, 2013

    HARTFORD – The Connecticut Insurance Department is directing all health insurance companies operating in the state to provide coverage of mental health counseling, hormone therapy, surgery and other treatments related to a patient's gender transition.

    Joining a handful of other states, the department issued a bulletin to insurance companies last week which seeks to ensure that "individuals with gender dysphoria … are not denied access to medically necessary care because of the individual's gender identity or gender expression."

    Deputy insurance Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling said the state wanted to "go out and affirmatively make [the policy] very clear."

    "As we were turning the corner into the new year, we just wanted to make sure every constituency was clearly heard,'' she said.
P.S. Don't read the comments, all the wackos are out.

Update 12/28.12:
The actual bulletin from the Insurance Commission is here

There is a note at the end of the bulletin...
Important Note: Although a blanket policy exclusion for gender transition and related services is prohibited, a health insurer, HMO or other entity, with respect to the coverages subject to sections 38a-488a [Individual and Group Mental Health Parity Statute - individual health insurance] and 38a-514 [Individual and Group Mental Health Parity Statute - group health insurance ] of the Connecticut General Statutes, may still perform medical necessity determinations on a case by case basis with respect to an insured's request for transgender services. However, if the request is denied on the basis the services are not medically necessary, the insured has the right to an independent review through the Department's External Review Program. .

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Do You Know What LGBT Means?

Believe it or not there are a number of people who do not. When I was an intern I tabled the non-profits table at a convention that is sponsored by a local NBC on health and wellness. When people asked what our organization did, I said “We are a LGBT family and youth service agency” and I got blank stares and they asked “what is LGBT?” It was then that I realized that we were living in our own little world and that many straight people didn’t have a clue about LGBT meant.

Flash forward three years and now I am on a committee that wants to write guideline for LGBT Elders in nursing homes and senior centers, now I realize that we have to assume that the staff that we want to training will know nothing about “LGBT” so we will have to cover the most basic information, LGBT 101.

I have been reading a number of surveys and research article on the topic of LGBT healthcare and eldercare. A report that I’m reading now is “POLICY FOCUS Asking Patients Questions about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Clinical Settings” by the Fenway Institute and they take the same basic approach. One of the topics that they discuss in intake forms at clinics, you know the ones with box you check off; male, female. This is what they recommend…
What is your current gender identity?
(Check all that apply)

 Male
 Female
 Female-to-Male (FTM)/Transgender
Male/Trans Man
 Male-to-Female (MTF)/Transgender
Female/Trans Woman
 Genderqueer, neither exclusively male nor female
 Additional Gender Category/(or Other),
please specify
 Decline to Answer, please explain why
What sex were you assigned at birth on
your original birth certificate?
(Check one)

 Male
 Female
 Decline to Answer, please explain why
They found that,
Only 1% declined to answer the current gender identity question, while another 1% chose “other”; the other 98% choose from among the gender identity options. Three percent declined to answer the question, “What sex were you assigned on your original birth certificate?”, while 97% did answer this question.

Seventy-nine percent of all respondents strongly agreed that they understood all the choices in the gender identity question, while only 7% strongly disagreed. Heterosexual respondents were more likely than gay, lesbian, and bisexual respondents to say they did not understand all the choices of responses in the gender identity question. Eighty-five percent strongly agreed that they would answer the birth sex question, and 78% strongly agreed that they would answer the current gender identity question.
I think that bears out my observation where not all straight people know what we mean when we say “male to female” or any other terms that we use within the community. While some trans-women don’t like to be asked those questions,
Close to 84% of male and female non-transgender respondents agreed that they would answer the gender identity question on a registration form at their health center (Table 4). Among transgender men, 87% agreed, while 81% of transgender women agreed.
Their conclusion is,
This survey of a diverse group of patients in four health centers finds that most patients understand the importance of asking about sexual orientation and gender identity and would be willing to answer a set of existing questions developed to collect SOGI data in health care settings. We believe that health care providers and regulatory bodies should move forward by taking steps to facilitate SOGI data collection in clinical settings and in EHRs.
This is important because it could very well mean life or death. The doctors should know beforehand what they will find when they cut us open or treat us for an illness. There shouldn’t be any surprises on the operating table.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

It this time of year that we reflect on all that has happened this past year and to give thanks. However, for many it is not a time to rejoice, it is a time of loneliness, their families may have moved and left them behind, their family or spouse might have pasted away leaving them without any close relatives or their children might be at their in-laws for this holiday, for whatever the reason, it is a lonely time.

For many in the LGBT community it is an especially lonely time, they might not have seen their family since they came out to them. Their families and children have disowned them. Sometimes when we do attend the gathering, we feel like outcasts, like the square peg in the round hole, we just don’t fit in, we are tolerated when we bring our partners or ourselves to the table.

So let us open our hearts and doors to them and invite them to the table.

I leave you with this Christmas song by Nat King Cole - Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Oh No! Not Another Blog On…

Duck Dynasty, however, I don’t want to talk about him but about how the news media covered the story. I don’t know if you noticed but all the headlines had about his statement on homosexuality but there were no headlines that said anything about his racist comments. For me that was more offensive than what he said about sexual orientation.
They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Business Insider said in the article There Are Two Americas, And One Is Better Than The Other by
Josh Barro
In one America, it's OK to say this of gays and lesbians: "They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil." In the other America, you're not supposed to say that.

There's one America where it's OK to say this about black people in the Jim Crow-era South: "Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues." There's another America where that statement is considered to reflect ignorance and insensitivity.

In one America, it's OK to attribute the Pearl Harbor attacks to Shinto Buddhists' failure to accept Jesus. In the other America, that is not OK.
I am of the part that finds it reflecting ignorance and insensitive, it is from a perspective of white privilege, and it reeks of dominance.

So why do you think the news media headlines were all about sexual orientation? Why was it about “the gays?” Why was it not about racism and religious intolerance?

My theory is that the gays are an easy target; the news media is all about controversy and selling ads. I think that many people do not think that racism is a problem today; we solved that problem back in the sixties; even though racism is just as prevalent now as it was back then but now it is just more covert. Religious intolerance, the news media doesn’t even want to go there; that topic is way too controversial the news media, they likes to stir up bee’s nest but they don’t want to antagonize the sleeping bear. So they pick on the easy target… gays.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Should Only A Trans Actor/Actress Play A Trans-Character?

There is debate going on over the part of a trans-character being played by a straight guy in "The Dallas Buyers Club." Jay Leto said in the interview on HuffPost Live about the controversy that,
"I think it's wonderful for actors to be able to play roles that are outside of themselves," Leto told HuffPost Live. "That being said, you wouldn't want to stick a transgender person with only transgender roles. So it goes both ways. That's what makes art and acting really exciting is you get a chance to learn about other people and stretch and push yourself."
So should only a trans- actor/actress play the part of a trans-character?

I see both sides, what Mr. Leto said is true that it would be a great challenge to play a trans-person. But I also see that the only jobs we get are playing trans-characters. I can’t think of any trans-actor/actress who played a non-trans character, can you? So when a non-trans actor/actress plays a trans-character it takes a job away from us.


It is most definitely not on my travel agenda and it shouldn’t be on any LGBT people travel agenda.
Ugandan parliament passes tough anti-gay law
LA Times
By Robyn Dixon
December 20, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Uganda's parliament on Friday passed tough anti-gay legislation that will punish those found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality" with life in jail.

While same-sex marriage has been enshrined in a growing number of Western countries, human rights advocates say gay rights are receding in much of Africa.

Homosexual acts have long been illegal in Uganda and many other parts of the continent, where gays and lesbians are at risk of being beaten up, jailed and even killed. Supporters of Uganda's bill argued that tougher measures were needed to protect family values.

The original legislation introduced by lawmaker David Bahati in 2009 contained a clause providing the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality." However, this was dropped in the wake of an international outcry. The bill was repeatedly shelved and revived because of the controversy.

Under the bill approved Friday, "aggravated homosexuality" includes sex acts between adults and minors.
I cannot even imagine what life in Ugandan prisons would be like especially if you are gay.

There is a case here in the U.S. about this Ugandan law and the Abiding Truth Ministries President Scott Lively. Is being sued under the Alien Tort Statute, the according to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR),
The Alien Tort Statute (ATS), also known as the Alien Tort Claims Act, has been a powerful tool through which foreign victims of human rights abuses can seek civil remedies in U.S. courts. Adopted as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, the ATS allows non-U.S. citizens to sue for violations of the “law of nations” or customary international law, or of a treaty of the United States, in U.S. courts. It has been used to bring claims for human rights violations against government officials, non-state actors and multi-national corporations. Since Congress adoption of the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA) in 1991, which President George H.W. Bush signed into law in 1992, the TVPA has be a mechanism for both U.S. and non-U.S. victims of torture and extra-judicial killing to seek redress in U.S. courts.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is handling the case against Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a non-profit umbrella organization for LGBTI advocacy groups in Uganda. The case is being heard in Springfield MA and according to the CCR,
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 LGBTI 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 LGBTI 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.
The CCR goes on to describe the ATS,
The case is brought under the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”), 28 U.S.C. §1350, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”  United States Supreme Court has affirmed the use of the ATS as a remedy for serious violations of international law norms that are widely accepted and clearly defined.  Persecution, as a crime against humanity that is universally proscribed and clearly defined in international law, is such a violation.   Persecution is defined in international law as the “intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity.” [Their emphasis]
One thing to bear in mind is that if this is successful that this same law could also apply to “family coalitions” that have gone to Russia to speak to President Putin.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Four Big News Events Last Week!

It seems like Friday was a big news event day for the trans-community. There were two major announcements about medical coverage for us and two marriage equality court decisions that were handed down on Friday.

The first announcement was about a CDC ruling back in October where they said that for low income trans-women the free mammogram did not cover us, however, they now say we are covered. The NCTE released this statement,
NCTE Commends CDC’s Clarified Breast Cancer Screening Policy

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) commends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for clarifying that its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program will cover screening for eligible transgender women and men.  The CDC deserves credit for consulting medical experts and community members and adopting an approach that is both fair and fact-based.

NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin said, “Under the clarified policy, all transgender women who have taken hormones may receive breast cancer screening under the program, subject to other eligibility standards. Transgender men and gender non-conforming people with a female history continue to be eligible for breast and cervical cancer screening, if applicable.”

The CDC’s clarified policy comes in response to an uninsured transgender woman in Colorado who, in October 2013, was denied access to a breast cancer screening under a federal program administered by the CDC. Her provider pointed to an earlier CDC newsletter stating that its program excluded women who are “not genetically female.”

NCTE and the Human Rights Campaign swiftly condemned the provider’s actions and called on the CDC to investigate the case. NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said, “We applaud the CDC’s clarified policy and urge other public health programs, private insurance plans, and health care providers to adopt similar approaches.”

“The bottom line is that if you have a body part that needs screening, it ought to be screened regardless of your identity,” Keisling said.
So this about face will help many trans-women and trans-men have proper health care. 
The other big news is even more important and it a major step forward. The TransAdvocate reported that the Medicare appeals board found that,
The incomplete and inadequate state of the NCD [National Coverage Determinations – determines what is covered for Medicare] record with respect to the safety concerns cited in the NCD appears to stem, in part, from the substantial passage of time since publication of the sources on which the NCHCT [National Center for Health Care Technology] relied in recommending the exclusion of transsexual surgery. We note, for example, that the psychologist who submitted a declaration in support of the complaint cited a 1997 study as showing that “after 1985, surgical outcomes were far superior, owing to improvements in technique, shortened hospital stays and improvements in postoperative care.”
For the reasons explained above, we conclude that the NCD record is not complete and adequate to support the validity of NCD 140.3, “Transsexual Surgery.” Therefore, as required by the statute and regulations, we will proceed to discovery and the taking of evidence. As stated above, our ruling here does not address the ultimate question of whether the NCD as written is valid under the reasonableness standard in the statute and regulations.
That means that the Appeals Board believes that Gender Confirming Surgery (GCS) is medically necessary and should be covered by Medicare. This do not mean that health care for trans-people is automatically covered, the CMS [Center for Medicare Services] will now hold hearing to determine if coverage is warrantied.

This could have far reaching changes because many private insurance carriers base their exclusion on the face that Medicare does not cover GCS. So we may see the exclusions dropped from ERISA covered companies policies like the company where I use to work.

The other big news is that one federal court and one state court overturned state bans on same-sex marriages; in New Mexico their Supreme Court overturned their ban on marriage equality,
New Mexico legalizes same-sex marriage
By Barry Massey and Russell Contreras, The Associated Press
December 18, 2013

New Mexico became the latest state to legalize gay marriage Thursday as its highest court declared it is unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Justice Edward L. Chavez said in a ruling that none of New Mexico's marriage statutes specifically prohibits same-gender marriages, but the state's laws as a whole have prevented gay and lesbian couples from marrying. The justices said same-sex couples are a discrete group that has been subjected to a history of discrimination and violence.

"Accordingly, New Mexico may neither constitutionally deny same-gender couples the right to marry nor deprive them of the rights, protections and responsibilities of marriage laws, unless the proponents of the legislation — the opponents of same-gender marriage — prove that the discrimination caused by the legislation is 'substantially related to an important government interest,'" Chavez wrote.
Of course the “family” organization are crying foul and vow to fight the court’s decision and pass a new law that will also get overturned.

In Utah a federal court overturned the state ban on marriage equality,
Federal judge backs same-sex marriages in Utah; state to appeal
LA Times
By Michael Muskal
December 20, 2013

A federal judge on Friday struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban, making the state where the powerful Mormon Church has fought gay marriage the latest front in the legal battle over marriage rights.

In a 53-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby held that Utah’s law passed by voters in 2004 violates the federal right of gay and lesbian couples to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

“The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason,” Shelby wrote. “Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.”

Utah will appeal the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Ryan Bruckman, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said in a telephone call to the Los Angeles Times. He said the state will also seek an emergency stay to prevent any gay marriages from taking place.
I see this case going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and what the court will rule is a crap shoot. If they allow the ruling to stand, marriage equality will be in all fifty states. Unlike Prop 8 ruling which only covered California. I think they will overturn court’s ruling because I believe the Robertson Court is for states’ rights. I think they will use their twisted logic to say that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to marriage.

If they uphold the decision I think all hell will break lose in the conservative states that have ban marriage equality. I can foresee outright disregard for the Court’s ruling.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday Six #506

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #506

How many times per day do you…
1. …check your email? Probably 3 or 4 times an hour
2. …send an email? Maybe 5 or 6 times a day and when I planning something maybe 5 or 6 times an hour.
3. …post a tweet or status update on social media? Once or twice a day, I don’t like loading up home pages with trivial.
4. …make a telephone call? Maybe once or twice a week, you can tell what form of communication that I prefer.
5. …visit a website to check the news? I just do it in the morning, I check Google News unless someone post something on Facebook that I want to read.
6. …drive a car? I try to get out of the house at least once a day. Yesterday was crazy, I had earns to run in the morning and then in the afternoon and evening I had meetings that I had to attend.



1. As you can see, when Sam Winters was a little girl, she loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. If you could ask Santa for anything at all, right now, what would it be?
My health back, I want to be able to walk 10 miles again.

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there?
I think I am on the nice list and I probably got there by caring about other people.

3. Are you traveling this Christmas? If so, are you going by car, plane or train?
I don’t know, I am torn between three options; going down to my niece’s in New Jersey on Christmas day, going down on Saturday when my nephew’s will be there or staying here in Connecticut. It is a three hour drive down there and if I drive back the same day that is six hours driving time for a four hour visit and if I decide to stay that will cost $185. So I’m indecisive.

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year?
I will, I want to get a tablet. I would to get a tablet that I can use for a PowerPoint presentation when I give a workshop.

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie or TV special? Have you seen it yet this year?
I don’t have a favorite, but I have one that I hate and that is “A Christmas Story.” I liked it the first couple of times that I watched it, but now it has gotten much worn.

6. Which do you prefer: candy canes or gingerbread?
Unfortunately I cannot have either they have way too much sugar in them and I hate to think what they will do to my blood glucose.

7. Close your eyes and tell us the first carol that comes to mind.
“Little Drummer Boy” someone posted this on Facebook and it wormed its way into head for the last couple of day.

8. What's your favorite winter beverage?
It used to be hot mulled cider with rum but alas it is the sugar thing again.

9. What will you remember most about 2013?
There were so many notable events this year; one of them was a trip to the Hill-Stead Museum and also all the days up at the cottage. Just being able to get away for a few days at a time and sit by the water relaxing.

Friday, December 20, 2013

When Will It End?

When will the bullying stop?
Friends say Lexi Lopez took her own life after being bullied
Fox 6 Now
December 17, 2013
By Myra Sanchick

RACINE (WITI) — The death of a 14-year-old girl is bringing many issues to the forefront in Racine. 14-year-old Lexi Lopez took her own life over the weekend — and now, kids at Racine’s Horlick High School are mobilizing to start “The Lexi Project” — meant to tackle the issues of bullying and sexuality.
The pain Lopez faced, according to those who knew her, are the challenges of being a non-conformist — a transgender girl who sometimes preferred to be called Landon.

Friends say she was a victim of bullying.
It shouldn’t take a tragic death to stop bullying.

What Does It Take?

You would think that school administrators would know the law. There have been enough incidents in the news about law suits and the U.S. Department of Education clamping down on bullying and harassing of LGBT students that should have sunk into their heads by now.
SPLC files suit to stop anti-LGBT harassment by students and faculty in Mississippi’s Moss Point School District
December 17, 2013

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit in federal court today to stop pervasive anti-LGBT bullying and harassment committed by students – and even faculty members and administrators – within the schools of Mississippi’s Moss Point School District.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Destin Holmes, a district student who endured such severe harassment she was eventually driven out of school. She temporarily left the district in March 2012 to be homeschooled after the then-principal at Magnolia Junior High School called her a “pathetic fool” and told her, “I don’t want a dyke in this school.”
“We are disappointed that the district fails to see the serious harm its deliberate inaction causes its students,” said Anjali Nair, SPLC staff attorney. “District officials who are entrusted with the safety and education of all students not only ignored, dismissed and even blamed victims for the abusive behavior of faculty and other students, they also participated in discriminatory acts.”

During her time at Magnolia Junior High School, students and district staff called Destin slurs such as “it,” “freak” and “he-she.” Destin heard such insults as many as 20 times a day. She also was denied access to the girls’ restroom by a teacher. Another teacher even refused to allow her to participate in a classroom activity where teams were divided by gender because Destin – according to the teacher – was an “in-between it.”
So now the school district is going to spend thousands of dollars or more to defend an indefensible position. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights even has a letter that they sent out to all schools in the U.S. warning them of possible violation various sections of the Civil Rights Act.

In addition, earlier in the year the OCR reached an agreement with Arcadia, California, School District over sex discrimination and bullying. In the agreement they state in part,
    In recent years, the Justice Department and the Department of Education resolved a number of cases involving gender-based harassment in public schools. In 2012, the departments entered into a consent decree addressing harassment against students who do not conform to gender stereotypes in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minn. In 2011, the departments entered into an agreement with the Tehachapi Unified School District, Calif., to resolve a similar complaint of harassment against a gay student who did not conform to gender stereotypes.
But that didn’t stop the Moss Point School District from allowing the harassment of the student to continue, so now they are going to court.

The Arcadia Unified School District was the only district that ignored the bullying and harassment, according to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division there has been many other cases against school districts,
On January 14, 2010, in the Northern District of New York, the Section moved to intervene in J.L. v. Mohawk Central School District. The lawsuit was filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of J.L., a 15-year-old student in the District. J.L. alleged that the District violated state and federal laws including the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, both of which prohibit discrimination based on sex, including discrimination based on failure to conform to gender stereotypes.
The plaintiff was awarded $50,000 and $75,000 in lawyer fees.

In 2009 the Civil Rights Division filed an amicus brief on behalf of a plaintiff in a court case who said that plaintiff was being harassed because he was gay,
In April 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York alleging, inter alia, that the Indian River Central School District, its Board of Education, and eight of its employees violated his rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972…
And it isn’t just the Obama administration that are pursuing discrimination cases against school districts, in the case of Lovins and United States v. Pleasant Hill Public School District the Civil Rights Division website said,
The Section intervened in this same-sex peer harassment case alleging the school district violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to respond appropriately to harassment of a student on the basis of sex. Specifically, the Section alleged in our complaint-in-intervention : from the eighth grade through the eleventh grade, Jeremy Lovins was subjected to harassment on the basis of sex (ostensibly because other students believed he was gay); Jeremy and his parents repeatedly informed school officials of the harassment but the harassment continued; and Jeremy was eventually subjected to an assault and forced to leave school because of the harassment. On July 31, 2000, the Court entered a consent decree settling the case.
Jeremy was awarded $72,500 in that case.

So there is strong prescient against the Mississippi’s Moss Point School District.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Do women have sex in prison?

This tied in good with last night discussion, a pre-op trans-woman is being transferred out of a women’s prison for having sex with the other inmates.
Transgender murderer is moved from women's jail 'because he kept having sex with other inmates'
Sunday World
Wednesday 18th December 2013

It has been revealed that a pre-op transsexual locked up in a Scottish women's jail for a torture-killing has been moved to a different prison, after claims he was having sex with female inmates.

Murderer Paris Green (22), who was previously known as Peter Laing, was sentenced to 18 years in Cornton Vale women’s prison, in Stirling, on the basis that he is transgendered.

However, it has emerged that Green has been moved amid reports that he had sex with other convicts there.
So what is the problem (beside misgendering her)?

Somehow I don’t think that other women in the prison do not have sex with other inmates. The article doesn’t say that she forced herself on the other inmates, it sounds like the sex was mutual, so what makes this any different?

Will now she be raped in the men’s prison where I suppose she is going to be sent or will she be put in solitary confinement?

Last Night’s Outreach.

Before we got started they had dinner for us which was Indian take-out. I never had Indian before and it was interesting; they had some type of yellow cabbage, lentil beans, and seasoned chicken which was kind of like barbeque chicken and you ate it with a type of bread, I think she called it Paratha. It was all very good, but I wasn’t that fond of the cabbage. We ate while we watched the movie "Cruel and Unusual: Transgender Women in Prison (USA)" it was a very emotional movie to watch. The trouble was I know of a number of trans-women who went through what the movie described, so it was too close to home.

After the movie I gave a comment on what the video meant to me and how I know people who had the same experience. The audience consisted of med and dental students, staff, and a mixture of other medical people. There was also a doctor on the “panel” with me who treats a number of trans-patients in the area. The doctor answered the medical question and I answered the questions on transition, socioeconomic questions, and definitions. One woman wanted to know about how you can ask a patient if they are transgender and the doctor answered a question on how to fill out medical records and how to code them so that the insurance would pay. I answered that question by saying that I get my hormones covered because my “ovaries” are not producing enough estrogen.

The movie was just about an hour long and the Q&A session was also about an hour long. Afterward, one woman came up to me and said that her partner attended grad school with me and told her to say “Hi” to me. It’s a small world.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Outreach Tonight

It is going to be a difficult outreach, the outreach is at the UConn Health Center, and I am going to be on the panel for Global Health and Human Rights film series with doctors to discuss the movie “Cruel And Unusual.” The movie is about,
Cruel and Unusual: Transgender Women in Prison (USA).
Documentary by Janet Baus & Dan Hunt. (2006)

Imagine being a woman in a men's prison. For many individuals, this is a grim reality because the U.S. prison system decides where to place inmates based on their genitalia, not their gender identity. This award-winning documentary makes an unflinching examination of transgender women in men's prisons. Ashley, Linda, Anna, Yolanda and Ophelia describe their experiences undergoing inhumane and humiliating treatment including rape, violence, solitary confinement and denial of medical care. One interviewee explains. "A lot of times I wake up, and I look around at my surroundings, and I see all these men. I think, 'What am I doing here?'" The women in Cruel and Unusual don't deny that they must serve their sentences, but their stories raise very important questions about their treatment.
I watched yesterday and it was hard to watch it was just so emotional watching these women being revictimized over and over again.

I will update you on how it went on tomorrow’s blog.

A Fourth!

A fourth trans-person has been appointed by President Obama, it was announced that Shawn Skelly is being appointed today as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), she joins the three other presidential appointees, Amanda Simpson, Dylan Orr and Chloe Schwenke.
Shawn Skelly and the Future of the Federal Bureaucracy
Huffington Post
By Dana Beyer
Posted: 12/16/2013

Shawn Skelly is being appointed today as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L). She served just over 20 years in the Navy and retired at the rank of Commander in 2008. By trade, she was a Naval Flight Officer (navigator/weapons systems officer vice a pilot) and flew the S-3B Viking in the fleet off the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk and the U.S.S. Carl Vinson and as a flight instructor. Her non-flying tours were on the staffs of Commander, U.S. Second Fleet/Striking Fleet Atlantic as Future Operations Officer, U.S. Pacific Command as Deputy Chief of South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania Policy, with her final tour in uniform being at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, serving as the Director of the Marine Corps Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Working Group. Following retirement from active duty, she began working for Exelis Inc. (then known as ITT Advanced Information Systems) providing support to the Department of Defense's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) as well as doing some corporate business development work. She has a B.A. in history from the University of South Carolina, and an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
No other president in history has appointed so many trans-people to high level posts.

Chloe Schwenke was appointed Senior Advisor for LGBT Policy for USAID, Dylan Orr’s appointment was Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Labor Kathleen Martinez in the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor and Amanda Simpson is the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology in the U.S. Department of Defense.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Big Government?

How often do you hear Republican talk about “Big Government?” Did you know that we have the fewest federal employees in 47 years? According to an article in the New York Times,
Bloated Government? Federal Employment at 47-Year Low
October 22, 2013

It was the summer of 1966. Lyndon Johnson was in the White House and the Great Society was roaring. In August, the federal government had 2,721,000 employees.

Now it is the fall of 2013. There are complaints from Washington about a bloated federal government. Another Democrat, Barack Obama, is president.

In September, before the government shutdown, the government had 2,723,000 employees, according to the latest job report, on a seasonally adjusted basis. That is the lowest figure since 1966. Until now, the lowest figure for the current century had been 2,724,000 federal employees in October 2004, when George W. Bush was seeking a second term in the White House.

Now, the federal government employs exactly 2 percent of the people with jobs in this country. In 1966, the figure was more than twice that, 4.3 percent.
When you listen to the Republicans you would think that the federal government was bursting at the seams with employees.

The other argument you hear from the Republicans is that federal employees are paid too much compared to the public sector, according to the Congressional Budget Office they are… on average 2% more.
Overall, the federal government paid 2 percent more in total wages than it would have if average wages had been comparable with those in the private sector, after accounting for certain observable characteristics of workers.
However, federal employees do excel in benefits.
On average for workers at all levels of education, the cost of hourly benefits was 48 percent higher for federal civilian employees than for private-sector employees with certain similar observable characteristics, CBO estimates.
I don’t consider that the federal employees have too many benefits but that the public sector doesn’t have enough. I believe that the fast food places and the big box stores drag down everyone benefits in the public sector and that pension have gone by the wayside to be replaced by more risky 401ks and IRAs.

State governments have grown or shrank depending upon the state. In the New York Times Business section they had an interesting article about state governments, they said,
States with a larger government presence — as measured by either employment or economic impact — tended to vote Republican in the 2012 election, while states with a smaller government presence tended to vote Democratic.
What! This can’t be true, the boasts about being for smaller government!

Government workers
as a percentage of all
employees, Aug. 2013
Change in number of
government workers,
Jan. 2009 to Aug. 2013
proportion of total state
G.D.P., 2012
Change in
government real
G.D.P., 2010 to 2012
All States 16.o%All States -3.3%All States 12.3%All States -1.3%
Rep. Voting* 17.3%Rep. Voting -1.3%Rep. Voting 12.9%Rep. Voting -0.9%
Dem. Voting 15.5%Dem. Voting -3.6%Dem. Voting 11.9%Dem. Voting -1.6%

*States that voted for Gov. Romney in the 2012 elections

That’s right, the Republican voting states have bigger government than Democratic voting states and what is interesting if you compare Wisconsin where they elected Scott Brown and neighboring Minnesota which has a Democratic governor ...

Government workers
as a percentage of all
employees, Aug. 2013
Change in number of
government workers,
Jan. 2009 to Aug. 2013
proportion of total state
G.D.P., 2012
Change in
government real
G.D.P., 2010 to 2012
41* Wis. 14.6%27 Wis -3.0%41 Wis 10.4%48 Wis -4.3%
36 Minn 36.0%19 Minn -0.1%45 Minn 9.7%36 Minn -1.9%

*Ranked (the higher number, the better)

So Wisconsin deep cuts by Governor Brown did result in small government compared to Minnesota. The New York Times Sunday Opinion page had an interesting article "Right vs. Left in the Midwest" compared the two states…
A month after Mr. Walker’s inauguration in January 2011, he catapulted himself to the front ranks of national conservative leaders with attacks on the collective bargaining rights of Civil Service unions and sharp reductions in taxes and spending. Once Mr. Dayton teamed up with a Democratic Legislature in 2012, Minnesota adopted some of the most progressive policies in the country.

Minnesota raised taxes by $2.1 billion, the largest increase in recent state history. Democrats introduced the fourth highest income tax bracket in the country and targeted the top 1 percent of earners to pay 62 percent of the new taxes, according to the Department of Revenue.
So you can see they took the exact opposite tracks, the Republican governor cut government and went after the unions, while the Democratic governor went after the rich. How did it turn out after three years?
Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.

Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business. Republicans deserve some of the credit, particularly for their commitment to education reform. They also argue that Minnesota’s new growth stems from the low taxes and reduced spending under Mr. Dayton’s Republican predecessor, Tim Pawlenty. But Minnesota’s job growth was subpar during Mr. Pawlenty’s eight-year tenure and recovered only under Mr. Dayton.
The article goes on to compare health insurance coverage, Gov. Scott refused the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) while Gov. Dayton embraced the ACA and as a result,
Mr. Dayton is on course to improve Minnesota’s already low uninsured rate. He expanded Medicaid to cover an additional 35,000 people and accepted Washington’s offer to pick up the cost — as half the states, including a growing number with Republican governors, have. Mr. Dayton also created a state insurance exchange, which enrolled more than 90 percent of its first month’s target. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s tradition of innovative medical care and nonprofit insurers produced premiums in its insurance exchange that are, on average, the lowest in the country, well below premiums in Wisconsin.
The article says that it is still too early to draw and conclusions but the results so far are impressive. Minnesota did cut government but not as deeply as Wisconsin but Minnesota raised taxes to make improvement to the infrastructure and that according the editorial helped finance the state’s growth.


I love to walk but because of health reasons I don’t walk that much in the woods anymore. I loved hiking and when I was in my 20s I used to do a lot of backpacking, one weekend I walked 25 miles with a 65 lb pack. But now I limited to walking about 2 miles on the level, hill just wipe me out. So when I see something like this it gets my blood boiling.
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to defend rail-trails in the Supreme Court: Wyoming landowner threatens public ownership of rail corridors

At issue in Marvin S. Brandt Revocable Trust et al., v. United States is whether the American people retain a reversionary interest in railroad rights-of-way that were created by the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875, after railroad activity has ceased on the corridor. It is only the second time that a rail-trail case has been heard by the nation's highest court.

The corridor in this case passes through a segment of land surrounded by Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming that the U.S. Forest Service patented to the Brandt family in 1976. Bisecting that parcel is a 200-foot wide corridor of federally-owned land that had been granted to the Laramie, Hahn's Peak and Pacific Railway company in 1908, for the purpose of constructing a railroad.
Recognizing the great importance of providing public access to the nation's public lands, in 2007 the U.S. Forest Service and local groups converted most of that disused corridor into the Medicine Bow Rail Trail, which has become one of the most popular rail-trails in America.

This spectacular 21-mile rail-trail, which has provided a significant boost to the state's trails tourism economy, has but one disconnection point - the Brandt property. The Mountain States Legal Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Pacific Legal Foundation are behind the Brandt's effort to sue the United States to bring the public corridor into private ownership and prevent its reuse as a public.
The case has worked its way through the courts and will be heard by the Supreme Court next month.
The case affects more than a century of federal laws and policies protecting the public's interest in railroad corridors created through public lands - and could have lasting impacts on the future of rail-trails across the country. Just like our national parks and treasured lands to which they connect, these rail corridors are protected assets in which the public has a unique interest.

A loss before the Supreme Court would not only potentially block the public rail-trail providing access to Medicine Bow National Forest, but would also threaten rail-trails across America that utilize federally-granted rights-of-way.
And who knows what this conservative Supreme Court will rule, the court seems to be against anything federal and in favor of big business, it could easily stop the public use of the Rails-to-Trails system. Both the District Federal Court and the Appeals Court found in favor of the government and the Land Trust also filed in the Court of Federal Claims which ruled that they didn’t have standing to file a claim but that was overturned on appeal. So now the case will be heard by the Supreme Court on January 14th.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Roof Over Our Head

The neediest of us are the most vulnerable. Those of us who are homeless or in of need medical treatment face discrimination when we are most helpless. In New York City a trans-woman who faced discrimination in a drug treatment program was told her case can move forward,
Housing Works
Posted by Tim Murphy , December 13, 2013

In an important decision for the transgender community, New York State Supreme Court Justice Debra Silber has ruled in Wilson v. Phoenix House that Plaintiff Sabrina Wilson must be allowed to proceed with her discrimination case against Phoenix House, a national alcohol and drug treatment provider. Armen H. Merjian, Senior Staff Attorney at Housing Works, was the counsel for Ms. Wilson.

Ms. Wilson, who has identified as female since she was 14, entered Phoenix House as an alternative to incarceration. Despite her gender identity, Phoenix House prohibited Ms. Wilson from dressing as a woman, from sitting among women in meetings, and from joining a woman’s support group, even after she won the support of the women in that group.

Ultimately, Phoenix House failed to advance her in treatment, despite her significant progress – she was in fact appointed a resident coordinator – and decided to terminate her from the program, on the basis that they could not “suit [her] needs as a transgender in our program.”
The alcohol and drug center argued that they were exempt from the non-discrimination law,
Phoenix House moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the State and City Human Rights Laws should not apply to Phoenix House, among other reasons because the residential facility was not a “dwelling.” Such arguments, if upheld, would have provided Phoenix House with free rein to discriminate against its clients on the basis of gender and any other protected category, casting it beyond the reach of the law.
This case underlines the need for public accommodation and housing be included in the non-discrimination laws without those categories we could be forced to be housed and treatment in our birth assigned gender.


When I was little I told Santa that I wanted a pair of ice skates.

I dreamed of waking up on Christmas morning to find a pair of white figure skates under the tree for me.

When I woke up Christmas morning and rushed down the stairs to find a big box from Santa under the tree that looked like it might be a pair.

I ripped off the wrapping paper and there were my pair of ice skate…. HOCKEY SKATES!


My father said when he talked to the gym teacher (my father was a principal of a high school), he recommended hockey skates so that I could play hockey. I had absolutely no interest in playing hockey and none of my friends played hockey, but I kept my mouth shut and thanked my parents for the ice skates. So as my friends glided around the pond in their figure skates (black of course) I struggled to keep up with them with my hockey skates.

I still dream of skating in a pair of white figure skates; but I realized at my age my bones are not getting any stronger and the ice isn’t getting any softer.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Your Birth Certificate Please!

New Jersey is heading to join three other states and the District of Columbia that allows you to change your gender on your birth certificate without having surgery,
N.J. Senate approves bill to allow transgender people to obtain new birth certificate
By Susan K. Livio/The Star-Ledger
December 12, 201

TRENTON — A state Senate panel today approved a bill that would require the state Health Department to issue a new birth certificate for people who have gone through the clinical process of altering their gender.

State law since 1984 has required the state Health Department to issue a new birth certificate to people who have undergone gender reassignment surgery.

Not every transgender person undergoes surgery because of the expense and the health risks involved with a major surgery, said Joseph Vitale, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, (D-Middlesex), who sponsored the bill.
Senator Vitale is right when he says that the requirement to have surgery is a major hurdle that not every trans-people can under go for various reasons.

The other states that allow you to change your birth certificate without surgery are Oregon, California, and Illinois along with the District of Columbia. Illinois change the requirement for changing your birth certificate by a court agreement, the states and Washington DC changed their law by legislative action.

Little Drummer Boy - Pentatonix

Pentatonix is an American a cappella group of five vocalists, Scott Hoying, Kirstie Maldonado, Mitch Grassi, Avi Kaplan and Kevin Olusola, originating from Arlington, Texas

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Six #505

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #505

1. How many pairs of scissors do you own?
I have four that I know (I try to keep a pair in each floor of the house and one in the kitchen), I misplace a pair and go out and buy another pair and then a lost pair shows up maybe a year later.

2. How often do you get a haircut?
Once a year whether I need it or not. Since I wear a wig it doesn’t really matter how long it gets.

3. Would you ever be brave enough to cut your own hair?
Yes, every sprng I shave it all off (see #2).

4. How many times have you had surgery?
I never had any surgery.

5. Be honest: have you ever run with a pair of scissors in your hand?
Yes, but they are always held with the point facing away from the body.

6. Do you own a pair of poultry shears, and if so, have you ever used them to cut meat?
No, but I use a regular pair in the kitchen that is only used for food and I have cut meat with them.

Saturday 9: Jingle Bell Rock

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Jingle Bell Rock

1) Sam has affection for this song because, when she was very young, she tap-danced to it for a Christmas recital. Her parents told her she was wonderful. Do you have any memories from a school/church program or pageant -- either as a child onstage or an adult in the audience?
Yes, for sixth grade class pageant I was asked to lip sync because I was so off key the teacher gave up trying to get me sing on key.

2) Ok, she admits it: After too many cups of holiday cheer, Sam did a few steps of her "Jingle Bell Rock" routine at last year's company Christmas party. Have you ever done anything at a coworker get together that you now regret?
No thank goodness, I always enjoyed watching everyone else make a fool of themselves.

3) Since that unfortunate Christmas 2012 incident, Sam can't even look at a cup of egg nog. How about you? Do you like egg nog?
I never liked egg nog even with rum or whiskey, yuck!

4) For special events, Sam slips on her favorite piece of jewelry: a charm bracelet that once belonged to her grandmother. Do you have a special treasure from a previous generation?
Yes, my mother necklace. It is only made out of brass but I’m always getting compliments about it.

5) The only Christmas card Sam has received so far in 2013 is from her insurance agent. How about you? Have any holiday cards arrived yet?
No, it seems like the custom of Christmas card was stolen by the Grinch.

6) Because of the chill in the air, Sam gave her dog his Christmas gift -- a sweater -- early this year. He's already gotten compliments on it. Are there any pets on your gift list?
Nope, I don’t have any pets.

7) Do you need snow to get "into the spirit?"
I’m at the age where snow is more of a nuance; it is slippery, cold, and downright dangerous.

8) Are you going to get/have you gotten a flu shot this year?
I have been getting flu shots for over 20 years.

9) December is an important fundraising month for charities. Here's your chance to plug a worthy cause that means a lot to you.
True Colors, a family and youth service agency.

Friday, December 13, 2013

You Know How A Dripping Faucet At Night Can Wear You Down?

That drip, drip, drip can just get on your nerves, well microaggressions can do the same thing. Those little digs like misgendering you or using your old name or derogatory comments can wear you down over time. Buzzfeed has an article about racial microagression,
Photographer Kiyun asked her friends at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus to “write down an instance of racial microaggression they have faced.”

The term “microaggression” was used by Columbia professor Derald Sue to refer to “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults toward people of color.” Sue borrowed the term from psychiatrist Dr. Chester Pierce who coined the term in the ’70s.
Some of the ones that they listed were…
“No where are you really from?”
“What are you”?
“So what do you guys speak in Japan? Asian?”
“You don’t act like a normal black person ya’ know?”
“Just because I’m Mexican that doesn’t mean I should automatically be the 1st choice for ‘Dora the Explorer’ in the high school skit.”
These are just some of the racial microaggressions that they faced every day and we face our own microaggressions every day. I am sure we can come up with our own list like “Have you had your surgery yet?” or “Sir, how can I help you sir?”

It is not outright aggression like calling you a “faggot” but more like a pin prick but it is done over and over and over, it can break you down.

Insurance For GCS?

Will we have insurance for Gender Conforming Surgery and cross gender hormones in the future?

There is an article in the Federal Times that reports there might be…
Is the administration moving to include transgender care in federal health insurance coverage?
December 9th, 2013
Posted by Andy Medici

The short answer? Maybe.

Dive into the longer but far more satisfying answer below…

While some company and local government health plans cover care for transgender policy-holders, the Federal government does not and specifically excludes transition-related care from coverage.
But some recent and almost unnoticeable steps by federal agencies could mean transgender care coverage federal employees and many others.
On Dec. 2 the departmental appeals board at the Health and Human Services Department decided that the “National Coverage Determination” (basically what is covered under Medicare and Medicaid and other programs) excluding sexual reassignment surgery specifically from Medicare coverage needed to be revisited.
So what does this mean to us? The article goes on to say,
While the rulemaking is far from complete these are signs the administration is open to changing how it treats its transgender employees.

This could be a huge step in getting transgender care covered under the health plans available to millions of people across the country.
Merry Christmas!

But I wouldn't hold my breath, it might be close to a year before we see the results of this inquiry from the HHS.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More Steps Forward

There are only a few states where you can change the gender on your gender markers without surgery, but now Quebec Province in Canada just passed a law allowing trans-people to does that, according to reports the Quebec's National Assembly voted to accept Bill 35 and its amendments last Wednesday.

The The Link wrote last week that,
Bill 35, “An Act to amend the Civil Code as regards civil status, successions and the publication of rights,” would strike the Quebec Civil Code requirement in Article 73 to have a change of sex designation published in a newspaper. The bill is in committee at the National Assembly, with less than a week left in the current session.
And according to unpublished reports the bill also allows a trans-person to change their gender markers without it having to have surgery.

Meanwhile, Taiwan is allowing trans-people to change their gender more easily,
Taiwan to allow legal gender changes without transitioning
Transgender and intersex individuals will have much freer choice
Gay Star News
09 December 2013
By Derek Yiu

Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare has decided to allow people to change their legal gender without transitioning.

After a heated 3-hour debate today (Dec 9), the ministry concludes that individuals intending to change their legal gender need not go through any medical procedures, including psychiatric evaluation.
Which I think is the most liberal policy that I know of, most countries requires you to be at least under a doctor’s care.

We Can't Get No Justice

When I read an article in the Windy City Times about the plight of trans* prisoners I was amazed that the U.S. “…incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world—up to 20 percent of the world's prisoners” and if you are a trans-person it is even worst,
One in three transgender women can expect to be incarcerated in their lifetime. Fifty-seven percent of Black trans people have been incarcerated at some point in their life. Whether they are pre-or-post-operative, in the Cook County jail, in a downstate penitentiary or in a Federal Prison, the chances are that a trans-woman will be placed in a male facility. Once in prison, their choices are isolation or to be subject to physical and sexual violence both from other inmates or correctional officers. Standards of health care for them are minimal.

In the Cook County Jail, most trans-women are placed in Division 6- a medium security men's facility with limited interaction with the general population or in Division 9—a super-maximum security facility in which the inmate is placed in 23-hour-per-day-isolation.
A number of federal courts have ruled placing us in solitary confinement is cruel and unjust but placing us in with our birth assigned gender general prison population could be deadly. A number of prisons are creating special wings for trans-inmates or housing them in areas like the prison medical ward.

The article goes on to say why so many trans-people are arrested…
In addressing why so many trans people ( particularly trans women of color ) do end up in jail, Daniel-McCarter laid a good part of the blame at the foot of continuing and inordinate police profiling of transgender people along with systemic Transphobia and a lack of understanding about the transgender community on the part of law enforcement officials, states attorneys and even judges. "The kind of policing and discrimination that transgender women receive is related to police profiling of them," Daniel-McCarter said. "Walking while trans, driving while trans, hailing a cab while trans can all be construed as prostitution."

Many trans people, alienated from their families and denied basic housing and medical needs, might engage in survival crime: low-level drug trades or drug possession, retail theft, prostitution, loitering and trespassing. "They start as small A or B misdemeanor crimes but, after your third charge, they can become felonies," Daniel-McCarter noted. "Suddenly, you are doing time downstate."
We worry every time we call 911. I know of trans-people who were being harassed and when a police officer stopped to see what was happening guess who got blamed? I know of a trans-woman here in Connecticut who was a carpenter and was beat up on the job by other workers (When I saw her afterward she was all black and blue and parts of her face were still swollen from where they beat her with 2x4s). She called the police as she was explaining what happened to the police, the officer refused to arrest her attackers and instead arrested her for disorderly conduct.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Piece Of Cake!

Who knew that "Death Of Free Enterprise" would be over a cake! Well that is the cry of the conservative press about an administrative law judge’s ruling out in Colorado against the Masterpiece Cakeshop.

According to Media Matters Fox News said,
Fox's Elisabeth Hasselbeck interviewed the owner of a Colorado bakery who was recently found to have violated the state's non-discrimination law by refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, asking if he believed his rights had been violated by efforts to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination.

During the December 10 edition of Fox & Friends, Hasselbeck invited Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, to discuss a recent ruling by a Colorado judge that found that Phillips had violated that state's law against discrimination when he refused to serve a same-sex couple. Phillips was joined by his attorney Nicolle Martin, who does volunteer work at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a group notorious for pushing for the criminalization of homosexuality internationally.

During the segment - which featured a graphic declaring "The Death Of Free Enterprise" - Hasselbeck asked Phillips why he believed he shouldn't have to abandon his "personal religious beliefs just to make a buck"
The Washington Times in an editorial said,
A Colorado court is making it a crime to refuse to cater to militant homosexual activists. Judge Robert N. Spencer held on Friday that a bakery owner who, citing his Christian religious beliefs, wouldn’t bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple must “cease and desist from discriminating” or pay fines so large that he’d go out of business.

In this clash of values, the religiously observant are relegated to the back of the legal bus. In Judge Spencer’s view, the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of religion must give way to a state anti-discrimination law, even though the Colorado Constitution clearly states, “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in this state.” The plaintiffs, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, were “married” in Massachusetts, where another court declared such unions to be legal. The couple had demanded that Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, produce a cake for a July 2012 reception in Colorado.
Over and over we hear the cry of “religious freedom” to discriminate, how anti-discrimination laws are forcing people to violate their religious beliefs. According to Think Progress, the judge in the case said this about the claim of religious freedom…
Though Phillips objected to providing the cake on religious grounds, the ALJ pointed out that baking a cake is not actually conduct that is part of his religion. Thus, it does not qualify for exemption from regulation:
    Respondents’ refusal to provide a cake for Complainants’ same-sex wedding is distinctly the type of conduct that the Supreme Court has repeatedly found subject to legitimate regulation. Such discrimination is against the law; it adversely affects the rights of Complainants to be free from discrimination in the marketplace; and the impact upon Respondents is incidental to the state’s legitimate regulation of commercial activity. Respondents therefore have no valid claim that barring them from discriminating against same-sex customers violates their right to free exercise of religion. Conceptually, Respondents’ refusal to serve a same-sex couple due to religious objection to same-sex weddings is no different from refusing to serve a biracial couple because of religious objection to biracial marriage. However, that argument was struck down long ago in Bob Jones Univ. v. United States.
As I said before in other blog posts, substitute any other protective class for sexual orientation and ask your self would it be okay to discriminate? Would it be alright not to serve a black person, after all the Bible was used to justified segregation in the South? What if he refused to sell a cake to a Muslim or a Jew?