Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last Day Of 2014…

On this last day of the year tradition says we write about the year in review but instead I want to give you a chance to tell me what you think will be the important issues for our trans-community this coming year? What will be important on a national level and what will be important locally in your state?

Here in Connecticut I think our main focus should be on defining insurance coverage, we now have insurance coverage but no one knows what is covered? Some say only Gender Confirming Surgery and hormones, but others say all medical procedures that necessary including Full Facial Surgery, Chondrolaryngoplasty (trachea shave), electrolysis, breast reductions/augmentation, and other procedures a doctor feels that we need to increase the quality of life.

We need to continue working to improve care for LGBT seniors, and stop bullying in schools, and also get schools to obey the Connecticut Non-discrimination law.

Nationally I think we are dead in the water with a Republican controlled Congress, forget ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) but we need to keep up the pressure and not let it be forgotten. We also have to make sure that we don’t lose any ground, there is a good chance that the Republicans will try to pass some type of anti-LGBT bill like allow state to discrimination and ignore marriage equality or expand religious exemptions.

So what do you think should be on the legislature agenda? What will Congress do in the coming year?

Never Give Up

Does it seem like Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi is like the little Dutch boy with his finder in the dike [no pun intended] trying to stop the flow? Now she is saying that the court ruling only covers one clerk and not the whole state.
Gay marriage confusion clouds the Sunshine State
By Emma Margolin

With a week to go before a federal ruling that struck down Florida’s same-sex marriage ban officially kicks in, uncertainty over what exactly that ruling requires continues to cloud the Sunshine State.

Late Monday, Florida’s Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a short legal brief stating that if a federal judge who overturned the state’s same-sex marriage ban earlier this year intended his ruling to apply throughout Florida’s 67 counties, he would have to issue a clarification explicitly saying so.

The state’s legal filing, submitted to U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle at his request, argued that his August ruling – as written – required only one clerk named in the lawsuit to grant two plaintiffs in Washington County a marriage license on Jan. 6, the day Hinkle’s order takes effect. Bondi’s brief, however, also left open the likely possibility that Judge Hinkle would indeed clarify he meant to compel all county clerks in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Then there is the so called “Family” organization that filed a last minute lawsuit,
Citing that analysis, a majority of Florida’s clerks who participated in an Associated Press inquiry said they would not be granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Jan. 6. Florida Family Action (FFA) then announced on Tuesday that it had filed two lawsuits against three elected officials, including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, because they had expressed plans to participate in same-sex couples’ weddings next week.

“All three of these officials have shown great contempt and disrespect for the rule of law and are behaving irresponsibly and unprofessionally,” said John Stemberger, FFA president, in a statement. “The federal court decision is clear that it only applies narrowly to the two plaintiffs and only in Washington County. Elected officials must be held accountable to the law and to the constitution they have sworn to uphold.”
Doesn’t  Florida Family Action remember California’s family group that the courts had said they didn’t have “standing” to file a lawsuit?

So the three ring circus continues.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

No Hope

That is what I think the chances of passing GENDA (Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act) in New York unless the governor is willing to trade a bill with the Republicans.
Transgender-led organization takes the lead at State of the State address (a guest post by Juli Grey-Owens)
Times Union
By Byrgen Finkelman
Posted on December 29, 2014

After 12+ years of advocacy work, it has become crystal clear that waiting, hoping, and praying that somehow, some day, the NY legislature will magically pass a law to protect transgender individuals from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations won’t work.

It’s also beyond dispute that collecting post cards, letter writing, phone banks, and standing outside the capital waving placards when no legislators are in doesn’t work – hasn’t worked for the past twelve years – and won’t work in 2015.

And we at the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition (LITAC) are tired of doing what doesn’t work!

It’s time for New York Transgender (and gender non-conforming) individuals who want our Civil Rights to earn them.

We must take action, be visible, and bring pressure on our state elected government.
I don’t think being visible is going to do it, it going to take good old fashion horse trading. The Democrats control the Assembly and the governorship but the Republicans have control of the Senate.
Will he [the governor] want to spend enough political capital to push GENDA as 2016 presidential possibilities begin to form?
And that is the key, the Democrats will have to give something up and right now I don’t think they will over GENDA, the bill is probably way down on their list. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

Where You Wouldn’t Expect It

Sometimes I am surprise where I find support for trans-people. in the ultra-conservative state of Utah for example,
Op-ed: Utah’s transgender youth need our protectionSalt Lake Tribune
By Megan Thomas
First Published Dec 27 2014

Social norms in Utah are immensely impacted by its conservative religious culture that insists upon strict adherence to binary gender roles, sex-segregated groups, anti-LGBQTI precepts and a sexist organizational hierarchy.

Despite the family-centered values of our community, these conservative ideals have historically oppressed and suppressed its transgender children, resulting in death, neglect, or chronic gender identity dysphoria. A medically treatable condition, gender identity dysphoria is characterized by hopeless, lonely, obsessive reconciling of one’s inner self and one’s public self, often leading to depression and suicide. It should come as no surprise, then, that Utah’s teen suicide rate is among the highest in the country.
Transgender youth face even more challenges than the rest of the community upon "coming out." Utah youth are frequently subjected to conversion therapy, excommunicated from their church, alienated from their communities, and kicked out of their homes. Many who are not kicked out of their homes commit suicide or run away to escape persecution from their families and persistent bullying at school, from which the state offers no protection. As a result, nearly half of Utah’s one thousand homeless youth are transgender.
What is amazing is that the newspaper published the editorial.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Policy Is One Thing But Enforcing The Policy Is Another

I hear a lot people saying what good are anti-discrimination laws if no one is enforcing the law and they make a good point. Laws and policies are only as good as the agencies that implementing the laws.

Case in point, Cornell University has a non-harassment and discrimination policy, which states,
Cornell University’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness is grounded in providing an environment that is free from all prohibited discrimination, protectedstatus harassment, sexual assault/violence, and bias activity, in particular when such actions are directed at a member or group of the Cornell community because of that individual’s or group’s actual or perceived age, color, creed, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, or any combination of these or related factors.
The Advocate has an article about a PhD student who is being harassed and the university is doing nothing about it.
When Filipina doctoral student Meredith Talusan came out as trans at Cornell University earlier this year, she knew she might face social pushback. As a transgender woman of color and social justice activist, she was well aware that she could encounter stigma and ignorance.

But little did she know that the response from one housemate at the Cornell-affiliated Telluride Association would escalate so quickly into harassment and ultimately endanger her housing and scholarship. And she could only hope that the university administration would intervene on her behalf as she lodged a formal complaint — a possibility that has, she tells The Advocate, been bypassed, as the administration continues to not take her claim of mistreatment seriously.
Once again when you speak-up about the harassment you become the bully,
When house members demanded a formal review of Talusan's behavior, she refused to comply, according to Salon. When a vote to remove her was called in response, several housemates tore up their ballots, ending the vote. Subsequently, Talusan was anonymously accused of bullying by a housemate and suspended immediately for her actions — a suspension that currently remains intact and has kept her from receiving her room-and-board scholarship.
They suspend her with only an anonymous complaint but when she complained earlier all they did was issue a no-contact order and told her and her harasser had to stay 25 feet apart.
"Essentially," she tells The Advocate, "the Telluride Association has not only failed to adequately address my concerns, but by prolonging the situation and refusing to back down in the wake of public pressure against them, without any evidence to contradict my version of events, then supporting house members who took retaliatory action against me by suspending me, they're exposing me to more attacks just so I can continue to fight for myself and future trans students, so we can have the right to be treated equally and fairly in their programs."
Unfortunately this is all the too common in bullying situations agencies do nothing and then when the victim complains or defend themselves they are the one who is punished.

Oh? I Haven’t Heard Anything, Have You?.

As usual I read transgender news in the morning to look for a topic to write about and this morning I came across an article in the Edge Boston website called “10 Transgender Trends for 2015” and what got me was number six,
6) Global standards are being set. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) has implemented a certification process for mental health professionals internationally. Mental health is a critical step in the transitioning process.
I think this is wishful thinking. I haven’t heard any talk about a standard for training healthcare professionals. There is a group of providers down in Florida that is providing a “Certificate” for providers but the thing is it is not recognized by anyone.

I hope they are talking about a minimum standard for healthcare providers because the Standard of Care doesn’t provide any guidance, it just says you should have adequate knowledge of trans-healthcare whatever that is.

Another goal they mention is better training for healthcare providers,
8) Improving care from the medical community - unfortunately today, there are still too many physicians, urologists and gynecologists for example, who draw a line when it comes to treating transgender patients for common health issues, saying that this is not their area of expertise. We see a trend towards wider acceptance of transgender people as regular patients from health care providers overall.
I have heard this happening to many trans-patients and I hope that we overcome the resistance to providing us healthcare.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Cis-Gender Privilege

Who has it and who doesn’t have it?

Sometimes I have it and sometimes I don’t.

On Slate there is an interesting article about butch lesbians and cis-gender privilege,
I'm a Butch Woman. Do I Have Cis Privilege?
By Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart
December 26, 2014

Last week, I was mistakenly misgendered in front of an auditorium of people. I’d gone to see a speaker at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and during the Q&A period I was called upon by the nice lady doing the facilitating as “that young man, there, who has been waiting.” An excruciating 30 seconds followed, in which it became obvious to everyone that I was a young woman, and the facilitator was visibly unsettled by that revelation. My voice tends to eliminate all doubt as to my gender—it’s a woman’s voice, and it gets higher when I’m nervous.

This is the sort of story that is often used as an example of the daily hardships associated with being transgender. As a gender-nonconforming woman, I share the frequent, uncomfortable reminders of my difference with the trans community. So, when I’m called cis by a trans advocate in a way that feels dismissive, or if anyone dares to suggest that I benefit from cis privilege, I can get a little hot under the collar. I start thinking things like, “Hey, this person has no idea what I’ve been through! How dare they say that I have any sort of privilege?” Occasionally, to my shame, I’ve even argued on the Internet about whether it makes any sense to say a butch like me has cis privilege.
This is something to think about. Many of us trans-people think we are the only ones who do not have cis-gender privilege but many lesbians and straight women do not have it and the same thing is true for men.

When I was little one of my neighbors was a very tall and large boned woman who was being misgendered all the time. I have a number of lesbian friends who also are misgendered and there was a butch lesbian in Alaska that the security guards cleared out the women’s bathroom says there was a man in there.

Most of the time when I go out in public I am not identified as trans but as a woman. One time I was on a panel with lesbians and gays and after the panel discussion about the movie Gen Silent” one lady told me that she never knew that I was a “man” until I identified myself as trans (I wanted to smack her over the head and ask her “What were you doing for the last hour? Didn’t anything we were saying sink in?”).

So the answer to the question who has cis-gender privilege is most of us and many more than you would guess do not.

It’s A Whole New World Out There…

…From when I was growing up. When I was a teenager I would never have dreamed that I would be able to transition in my life, let alone in school. But now kids are transitioning before they even enter kindergarten.

The only thing that I worry about is that so many of them are going public with their transition. If you google my name there is no doubt that I’m trans and the internet never forgets. These kids will always be out.
Living transgender in Boulder County: Self-love is the easy part, but true alliance can be hard to find
By Alex Burness
Daily Camera
POSTED:   12/27/2014

Before her third birthday, Shannon Axe already had an inkling that something was off.

She was born male but, even as a toddler, never felt comfortable with gendered clothing or toys, and didn't like being called by her birth name.

The word "transgender" was still years away from entering her lexicon, but, by kindergarten, she was certain that's what she was.

"People say, 'Oh, that's too young," said Shannon, now 14 and midway through eighth grade at Boulder's Horizons charter school. "But if you realize something this important, you know who you are. And I knew I was a girl."
I just worry about girls like Shannon and others who are out and in the news. Will they face job discrimination? Will they face harassment?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of their transitioning at an early age just being public about it. I once had a reporter call me at home, she found me by just the stuff out on the internet and that was very scary.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday 9: Marshmallow World

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Marshmallow World (1963)

  Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1. This song likens fluffy clouds to marshmallows. What does the sky look like where you are today?
Blue with thin wispy clouds

2. The lyrics refer to snowballs. Have you ever been in a snowball fight?
Yes when I was little, and I lost.

3. Chionophobia is fear of snow. What phobias do you have? 
Chionophobia is a good one to have, on a snowy I just curl up in front of the fire and read.

4. In 2004, Canadian school children raised money for charity by setting a new world record: the most snow angels made in 24-hour period. Have you ever participated in a fundraising stunt? 
Nope, but I have gone to fundraising banquets

5. When marshmallows were first introduced, they were used for medicinal purposes. Specifically to soothe sore throats. What do you take when your throat is bothering you?
A good shot of spiced rum.

6.  Marshmallows are an important ingredient in the Rice Krispies Treat recipe. If you were asked to prepare something for a bake sale, what would you make?
You really don’t want me to bake anything. Cream Cheese Roll-ups are my specialty.

7. Darlene played Danny Glover's wife in the Lethal Weapon movies. Do you enjoy action movies?
Nope, I like a good mystery instead on the bang, bang, shot ‘em up movies.

8. Darlene's father advised her to always, "shoot for the stars." Share some good advice you've received.
My brother taught me never to drink sitting down, always get up once in a while to see how drunk you are.

9. Will you be returning/have you returned any holiday gifts?
Nope, I’m keeping them all.

Friday, December 26, 2014

We Are Different From Gays And Lesbian...

...When it comes to the way some Muslim countries treat us, many countries tolerate us if we have surgery,
Morocco’s transgender belly dancer courts acceptance
Associated Press Published
December 23, 2014

There are references to men affecting the clothes and attitudes of women in the Quran. In countries like Iran and Egypt, while homosexuality is illegal, gender change surgery is allowed, especially for those born hermaphrodites. Cross-dressing is also often found in the entertainment world, and in Turkey one of the most famous singers of classical music was also once a man.

Casablanca, Noor’s [Noor Talbi, Morocco’s most famous belly dancer] hometown, looms large in the history of gender-reassignment operations. From the 1950s to the 1970s it was home to the clinic of George Burou, who revolutionized the science of turning men into women, including British model April Ashley and French cabaret dancer Coccinelle.
But acceptance has it limits…
“Gender nonconformity is entertaining ... as long as it’s safely confined to a stage or TV screen, not something you meet on the street,” warned Scott Long, a rights activist with long experience in the Middle East. “Social prejudice against people who don’t conform to gender norms is very strong.”
I remember way back in the probably the late seventies, either Time or Newsweek ran an article about “sex changes” in Casablanca where they were one of the few places in the world where you could get Gender Conforming  Surgery. I bought a copy and I thought that the store clerk “knew” just why I was buying the magazine!

But it is not easy going,
Noor admits that as she breaks taboos, wows audiences and endures obstinate government officials, the struggle is hard, and she yearns for that final official acceptance. The topic of her 10-year battle to get her gender change officially recognized on her state ID card still incenses her.

“A little piece of paper that’s just 4 cm (1.5 inches), is this going to make me a real woman? I am 1.85 meters of woman and my body explodes with femininity,” she said.
It seems like she is only tolerated only because she is an entertainer.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

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.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Who Should Speak For Us?

I hear from people that question the right for some people to be a spokesperson for the trans-community. My answer to that is nothing gives them the right to speak for us, so why don’t you speak-up for us.

Many times it is the result of their job that become the voice of the community, Elle Boatman has an Op-Ed article on the Advocate about this,
Op-ed: Trans Glamour Versus Trans Activism
A positive step in transgender visibility doesn't necessarily mean it's a step for transgender activism.

This month 14 self-identified trans women graced a trifold cover of Candy magazine, a self-described “transversal style magazine.” [I wrote about it in my blog here]

It’s gorgeous. Suggestively clad, long-legged women posed in mostly vulnerable and sexualized positions in a color-spanning panorama of stunning trans beauty. It’s the pinnacle of Western fashion and culture — and it’s all transgender women. In that regard, it’s a huge statement that unequivocally screams that trans people can do all the things cisgender (nontrans) people can do — in this case, largely modeling as well as other beauty and entertainment industry professions. We’re not inferior, lesser-than, “others,” or any number of tropes that are heaped unjustly upon the trans* community due to unwarranted stereotypes and prejudice.
Most of these women are actresses, authors, or are in some way young and attractive, and in the public eye.
A significant number of trans people acknowledge this shoot for what it is — unrealistic and unattainable stereotyping that plays to an affluent hetero- and cis-normative culture. Most trans women didn’t win the genetic lottery and many will never be able to afford the intervening procedures that are generally required to attain such external beauty norms. Many trans women have physical traits that are generally considered more masculine: broader shoulders, deeper voices, less pronounced feminine curves. Showing 14 conventionally, if not exceptionally, beautiful trans women and advertising them as the leaders of the trans community only reinforces the “normality” of straight, cisgender society by pandering to the pervasive notion that your worth is intrinsically connected to how easily you can mimic the cisgender, heterosexual ideal.
Back in the post-Stonewall gay and lesbian movement, they didn’t any gay looking, butch looking or trans-looking people in the movement because they wanted to be viewed as “just your typical next door neighbor” the same is true for the photo. But does that make it wrong?

I think like most answers there is no black or white answer, showing gorgeous women might help in getting passed legislation to protect us all but at the same time it marginalizes those who do not integrate into sociality that well.

On the other hand if it was a picture with a broad spectrum of trans-people, will it sell as many magazine and would we still be talking about weeks later?

What I’ve Been Saying…

There is a movie that has “ just finished its run on the independent film circuit and after racking up an impressive amount of critical acclaim and sweeping the 2014 FilmOut Festival,” it won the Best Director award here in Connecticut at the Connecticut Out Film Festival. The movie is your basic teenage boy meets girl, girl falls in love with another girl movie.

This is the leading actress film debut and when the director saw her in YouTube videos he know that he wanted to have her as his leading lady. Here is the film trailer…

In an interview Indie Wire interviewed Michelle Hendley the actress and Eric Schaeffer the director of the movie “Boy Meets Girl,”
Bent: How did each of you decide that you wanted to be involved with this project, and when did you come on board?
Schaeffer: I wanted to make a film that was in keeping with the themes that are important to me - finding love, being accepted for who you are unconditionally, breaking out of society’s narrow expectations of how one should live their life and what emotional/sexual life you're supposed to have based on how you identify gender and sexual orientation wise.

Hendley: For me it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. A transgender woman playing the role of a transgender woman in a film that authentically represents the trans experience is nothing short of revolutionary for my community. I was nervous as hell, but entirely too passionate about the story of BMG to back down from the role. I was ready to go as soon as I finished reading the script!
You got that? She is a trans-woman playing the part of a trans-woman, not a cisgender woman palying a trans-woman.

What does she think of cisgender women playing trans-women? In an interview with Claire-Renee Kohner of the website “The Column” she was asked,
How do you feel about roles like Maura [Jeffery Tambor] in Transparent or Rayon [Jared Leto] in Dallas Buyers Club going to cisgender actors?
I’m happy to see fabulous cisgender actors bringing visibility to trans issues, but I will be happier when I get to see those roles played by fabulous trans actors. Works like ‘Transparent’ and ‘Dallas Buyer’s Club’ are helping more than they are hurting (in my opinion), but as long as my community is being represented by cisgender people there is more work to be done.

Why do it think trans-actresses and actors should play trans parts? I think Michelle Hendley answers to these questions says it best,
How much creative input were your able to provide to the Director in order to produce such a true-to-life character?
The story and character developments of BMG were Eric’s creations, but he and I collaborated when it came to Ricky’s character as a transwoman. Eric used my personal perspective and experiences to keep many of the issues discussed in the film authentic, and it was his attention to detail and willingness to listen to my input that made this project so amazing for me.

To what level of transphobia have you experienced in your life as compared to what your character experienced?
While I have yet to experience any physical violence because of my trans identity, I was teased and bullied in my formative years. Kids can be mean, and I think everyone faces some discrimination/ bullying growing up. I was just targeted for being very feminine. Nowadays I don’t really deal with petty teasing but there are individuals who simply refuse to accept me (or any trans person) for who/ what I am. I do not give these sorts of people much mind though, to be honest. I don’t have time for all that negativity.
A trans-actress/actor can draw on life experiences to help them. They know what it is like to walk into a room and feel the tension; they know what it is like to be shunned. While a heteronormative actress/actor cannot draw on their life experiences to understand what it is to live life on the margins.

Trans-actresses/actors should not be limited to just trans parts, they should be play cisgender parts also, just as other minorities should not be limited to playing minority parts. Most parts can be played by an actress/actor of any race, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

What Were They Thinking?

Oh, about themselves not about us. You know marriage is everything; our human rights take second fiddle.

Do you remember back in October in Massachusetts governor’s race when Charlie Baker was running for governor? For many the fact that he was in favor of marriage equality was the deciding factor, the cry in Massachusetts was finally a Republican that backs same-sex marriage!

Many news organizations bought the fiscal conservative, social liberal campaign of governor elect Baker’s campaign. However, DeeDee Edmondson pointed in an editorial on MassLive that Baler’s running mate Karyn Polito anti-LGBT views,
All this is in contrast to State Rep. Karyn Polito who led the charge for a statewide ballot question to ban gay marriage, voted against the Transgender Civil Rights bill, and supported Gov. Romney's attempt to dissolve the LGBT Youth Commission.

She, along with Massachusetts Family Institute, MassResistance, and a bevy of other conservative groups tried to stop the implementation of the Goodridge decision, which allowed gay marriage in Massachusetts, and most other initiatives that supported LGBT rights. Polito even received an award from the Massachusetts Family Institute for her work on "traditional marriage."
But hey, he’s for marriage equality!

Fast forward to last week…
Charlie Baker opposes expansion of transgender anti-discrimination rules, supports current law
By Shira Schoenberg
December 16, 201

Baker, a Republican, does support an existing law that protects transgender people from discrimination in employment and housing. But he said Monday that he does not favor a bill that is expected to come before the legislature next session to add a prohibition against discrimination in places of "public accommodation."

"No one's been able to explain to me how the public accommodation piece would actually work in practice," Baker said. "Schools, hospitals, other organizations have all expressed what I believe to be legitimate concerns about that law."
On Monday, speaking to a reporter after an event at Fenway Community Health Center, which specializes in health care for gay and lesbian people, Baker said he supports the version that was signed into law, but not the expansion. "Frankly, neither does the legislature, which has never moved to act on this over the course of the past several years," Baker said.
Before the passage of the gender identity and expression non-discrimination law the courts said that we were protected in public accommodation under sex discrimination because the legislature had not said otherwise, but now they have. The legislature purposely dropped public accommodation thereby throwing out the legal precedent that the earlier court decisions were based on.

It is a whole new ballgame folks! A new governor who is opposed to adding public accommodation to the existing law and no legal precedents to allow us in restaurants, stores, parks, hospitals, and anything else that is open to the public. So keep your legs crossed as you drive through Massachusetts.

Well At Least They Like One Thing…

The Military Times did their annual survey of servicememnbers and President Obama got high ratings in one area according to CNN
But the publication's readers are more supportive of the social changes the President has enacted in the military.

Support among active-duty troops for allowing gay men and women to serve openly in the military has grown to 60% three years after "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was reversed. About 41% of servicemembers said some combat roles should be off-limits for women.
The Military Times survey report said that,
During years of intense political debate about gays in the military, the military's top brass repeatedly voiced firm opposition and warned that such a sweeping change could create a serious morale crisis. But in the three years since the law changed, military leaders have seen virtually no problems.

"We have heard no reporting of the kinds of disruptions that were predicted," Kohn said. "It has been unsurprisingly smooth. It's not surprising because military people have always known of gay people and lesbians in their units, and have either accepted them, or abused them based on the quality of their leadership. There's been a change of public opinion, and the fact that the force is made up largely of young people," who tend to be more tolerant of homosexuality."
Another cultural change that the troops are accepting is women in combat positions,
From 2011 to 2014, the percentage of survey respondents who felt that all jobs in combat arms units should be opened to women remained unchanged at 24 percent.

But the percentage of troops who felt some combat-arms jobs should be opened up to women — while allowing the military to continue to place some jobs off-limits — increased from 34 percent to 41 percent, while the percentage of respondents who felt the military should not change its policies excluding women from combat arms units fell from 43 percent in 2011 to 28 percent in 2014.
One finding that CNN reported that I had mixed feelings of was the political party affiliation of our troops,
The survey revealed another interesting trend in troops' political identities, revealing that fewer identify as Republicans and more are calling themselves libertarians or independents today.
The report said,
"The military follows national trends but lags and skews conservative," he [Duke University political science professor Peter Feaver] said. "The libertarians' sensibility fits with some of the military's profile more naturally, particularly the 'don't tread on me' kind of mentality."

Army Maj. Wayne Lacy describes himself as a libertarian but said he has seen some of his fellow soldiers gravitate away from the Republican Party line and toward tea party candidates.
I’m glad less servicemembers are Republicans but I am disturbed that some of them are identifying with the libertarians and the Tea Party.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Special Rights!

We hear it a lot that LGBT people are demanding “special rights” when we want equality, when we want to be treated just like everyone else, but what do you call it when a group of people want to be exempt from the law? Exempt from domestic violence laws, exempt from child abuse laws, exempt from autopsies in cases of suspected homicide, being able to refuse full prescriptions or provide healthcare, and just about any other law, would you call that “special rights?”

Well that is what is happening around the country with states passing broad religious exemption laws,
Some conservatives urging right not to serve gays on religious grounds
Washington Post
By Sandhya Somashekhar
December 17, 2014

Conservative lawmakers in states nationwide are pushing to expand the right of individuals and businesses to not provide certain services to same-sex couples on religious grounds.

In North Carolina, a state legislator has proposed allowing government workers to recuse themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples even though such unions are now legal. A bill in Texas would permit voters to amend the state constitution in a way that supporters say would enhance religious liberty but that critics warn would harm the civil rights of gays and others.

A legislative fight is underway in Michigan, where the state House recently passed a set of contentious religious liberty bills, including some that would allow adoption agencies to refuse placements that violate their faith.
To me that seems like granting special privileges to religious organizations, to place them above the law.
James D. Esseks, director of the LGBT and AIDS project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said forces that oppose gay rights and were unable to stop the legalization of same-sex marriage in the courts and state houses have turned to a new strategy. They are “using religious freedom arguments in an effort to justify anti-gay discrimination because they want to ensure LGBT equality doesn’t affect them,” he said.
These laws could open up a huge gap in the way laws are enforced, one set of laws for atheists, and another set of laws “believers.” You can just about find in the Bible or other scriptures something to justify any discrimination or any behavior.

At one time we were a nation of one law, but now that is no long true.

How It Should Be Done…

When Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) was repealed it was only for gays and lesbians; trans-people were still barred from serving in the military, but that doesn't have to be, in many of our allied militaries trans-servicemembers serve alongside, straight, gay, and lesbians servicemembers.
'Next time I work with you, I'll be a woman': What Britain's first transgender military pilot told Prince William as she speaks movingly of her momentous decision... and why she's frozen her own sperm to start a family
  • Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom is Britain's first transgender military pilot 
  • The 34-year-old worked alongside Prince William at RAF Valley in Anglesey
  • One of her first work events as a woman was to the Royal Wedding in 2011 
  • Here she reveals how working in the RAF has eased her gender transition 
Daily Mail
By Mark Nicol and Sarah Oliver
Published: 20 December 2014

Search-and-rescue pilot Flight Lieutenant Ayla Holdom flashed her ID badge at the security gate of RAF Valley in Anglesey.

It showed her as she had appeared just a few weeks earlier… as a man. ‘In you go, Ma’am,’ said the guard. ‘Don’t worry, you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last,’ his words acknowledging the fact that Ayla was returning to work as a woman.

Flt Lieut Holdom, 34, is a decorated RAF officer who is Britain’s first and only openly transgender military pilot. She has been, she says, ‘one of the boys as both a man and a woman’.

Among the colleagues she told in a series of emotionally gruelling one-on-one meetings was Prince William, who was at the time a fellow co-pilot within the tight-knit team of 20 at RAF Valley.
No big deal, just a routine day at work. In Britain she servers alongside the Prince and it is not the first time royalty met a trans-person, Princes William and Harry met a trans-person, one of their professors at Sandhurst was a trans-person. At Sandhurst she was a military historian, a Senior Lecturer in War Studies, she was with the Strategic Horizons Unit in the Cabinet Office, and was a History Channel commentator. But here in the U.S. you still can get discharged for being transgender, the conservatives are fighting it tooth and nail to block trans-servicemembers.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


We all have seen it. One of the big things that I noticed when I transitioned was when I went to the movies if a guy sat next to me he took up the leg room for two people and not only that but he hogged the arm rest.

Well now there is a campaign to end "manspreading" on the subway… good luck!
A Scourge Is Spreading. M.T.A.’s Cure? Dude, Close Your Legs.
New York Times
By Emma G. Fitzsimmons
December 20, 2014

It is the bane of many female subway riders. It is a scourge tracked on blogs and on Twitter.

And it has a name almost as distasteful as the practice itself.

It is manspreading, the lay-it-all-out sitting style that more than a few men see as their inalienable underground right.

Now passengers who consider such inelegant male posture as infringing on their sensibilities — not to mention their share of subway space — have a new ally: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
A poster taking aim at the practice of manspreading is part of a new civility-themed campaign by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Credit Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
I wish them luck, it has become a male right, seize all the territory that you can. Dominate others by taking their space and continue pushing until you have it all.
Several blogs regularly highlight instances of manspreading where knees stretch several feet apart. On some sites, images of large objects like the Death Star from “Star Wars” have been added with Photoshop into the space between the splayed legs. While there are women who take up more than their share of space, the offenders are usually men.
For men who think that sitting with their legs spread is socially acceptable, manners experts say it is not. Peter Post, the author of the book “Essential Manners for Men” and great-grandson of etiquette guru Emily Post, said the proper way for men to sit is with their legs parallel rather than in a V-shape

“I’m baffled by people who do that kind of thing, who take other people’s space,” he said.
There is nothing baffling about it; it is a male dominance thing… “this in my territory!”

Having transitioned you notice even more, before I transitioned I avoided “manspreading,” I never felt comfortable doing it and I tried to keep my legs together. And I noticed that the trans-guys waste no time picking up the trait, the classic “guy poise” arms crossed, legs wide open.

I Am Off To Mystic

This morning I’m heading down to Mystic Seaport with some friends. Today they waiver their regular admission when you bring canned food for the local food pantry so I usually bring around $10 worth of food since the normal admission for seniors is $22 I figure I will still get in at half price.

I’m bring my camera and I’ll post them once I process them.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday 9: Happy Holidays!

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Happy Holidays!

1. As you can see, Sam loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. Yet some children are reluctant to climb into Jolly Old St. Nick's lap. Did you enjoy the tradition or were you shy? Or did you by pass it altogether -- either because you wrote him a letter or because your family didn't celebrate Christmas?
I can’t remember that far back, but my guess is that since if you told Santa want you wanted for Christmas, greed probably overrode my shyness.

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there?
Nice, I’m never naughty she said with a gleam in her eye.

3. Did you ship any gifts to friends and family this year? If so, which one traveled the farthest?
Well kind of since I’m driving down with my presents to give out.

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year? 
I thinking about buying a tablet after the first of the year.

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie?
Probably “White Christmas” because I was stuck watching it with my parents back when I was a kid

6. Thinking of movies, Christmas is lucrative for Hollywood. Have you ever gone to a movie theater on Christmas Day?
Yes, last year. I forgot what we watched but we all came out of the theater scathing our heads trying to figure what the movie was about and then we went and had Chinese takeout.

7. Have you ever suffered an embarrassing moment at the company Christmas party? 
No, but I had fun watching others make a fool of themselves. Some of the guys who worked on the factory floor drank Polish vodka that was 180 proof and the only thing they cut it with was a maraschino cherry, just one. I tried a sip one time and WHEW!

8. What's your favorite beverage in cold weather?
It used to be hot mulled cider but now I switched to cinnamon apple spiced tea. The cider has way too many carbs for me now.

9. What will you remember most about 2014?
The year has been rather uneventful so probably the high point was going to see the Broadway play “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” staring Neil Patrick-Harris with a former classmate. We went down for a Sunday matinee, on the night that it won three Tony Awards. It was the first my first Broadway.

Friday, December 19, 2014

This Only Makes Sense

For a number of years the Departments of Justice and Education have said that gender identity was covered the sex discrimination prohibition in Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC also ruled that we are covered under Title VII in the workplace in the Macy v. Hold case and just recently they filed amicus brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to reconsider its decision in Muhammad v. Caterpillar. So it comes as no surprise that,
US Attorney General declares transgender people are protected in sex discrimination category
AG Eric Holder has announced that federal prosecutors will take the position going forward that sex discrimination provisions in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 include protections against discrimination based on gender identity
GayStar News
By Andrew Potts
19 December 2014

US Attorney General Holder announced yesterday that the Department of Justice will take the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covering sex discrimination extends to claims of discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status when prosecuting government job discrimination cases.

Attorney General Holder issued a memo that his department will no longer assert that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sex excludes discrimination based on gender identity, reversing the Department of Justice’s previous position.
Attorney General Holder is just extending to the DOJ what the EEOC and the Department of Education have said before, that gender identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.


I have many times said that at the very least they should audition trans-people to play transgender parts, that there are a lot of talented trans-actresses/actors out there. Candy magazine had a spread of trans-actresses,
Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, Janet Mock Among 14 Trans Superstars On Cover Of “Candy” Magazine
By Matthew Tharrett
December 17, 2014

Laverne Cox, Janet Mock and Drag Race alum Carmen Carrera are among 14 trans women gracing Candy magazine’s glamorous fifth anniversary cover, an over-sized foldout inspired by Vanity Fair‘s annual Hollywood issue.

Shot by fashion photographer Mariano Vivanco, the women are hailed as leaders of “the contemporary trans revolution.”

“It’s the first time such a large number of trans women have been featured on the cover of a magazine,” Candy founder Luis Venegas told “Is it too daring to say that we’ve made history? Time will tell.”
And this is only some of the trans-actresses, there are many other trans-actresses who are not in the photo such as Michelle Hendley who stared in "Boy Meets Girl".

The article also has a photo of trans-actors.
Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Carmen Carrera, Geena Rocero, Isis King, Gisele Alicea, Leyna Ramous, Dina Marie, Nina Poon, Juliana Huxtable, Niki M’nray, Pêche Di, Carmen Xtravaganza and Yasmine Petty
Photo by Mariano Vivanco

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Barriers To Transition

There is an article on the Atlantic website about the barriers that we have to overcome in order transition.
Transgender People Face Outsized Barriers to Genital Surgery
People who want genital reconstructions as part of their transition are asked for not one, but two mental-health referrals. Doctors are now questioning whether that requirement is ethical.
By Rose Eveleth
December 17, 2014

Not all transgender people want surgery, nor should surgery be held up as the gold standard for someone to completely transition to their gender identity. But for those who do want to go through with procedures to alter their genitalia, they must first jump through hoops that some doctors and advocates have argued recently are unethical.

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) has now published seven iterations of its guidelines for doctors who treat transgender people. The guide outlines the steps health professionals should take to ensure that a patient is treated well, and cared for appropriately. The report covers all kinds of things, from hormone treatments to voice and communication therapy, but a recent study singled out one particular recommendation: Right now, WPATH suggests that any individual seeking genital reconstructive surgery should be asked for two mental-health referrals before going through with the procedure.
The article goes on to say that for most surgeries only one letter is required and questions the need for two letters. The article then goes on to say,
In light of all this, the recent paper, published in Sexual and Relationship Therapy, calls into question the two-signature suggestion. The paper, titled “Yes and yes again: are standards of care which require two referrals for genital reconstructive surgery ethical?” goes through the reasons why doctors might have asked for two referrals, and ultimately concludes that two signatures are both unnecessary and unethical. “Applying the two written qualified mental-health professionals opinion rule to all trans people, rather than those for whom it is clinically indicated, appears to be disproportionately prejudicial where the impact is delay, obstruction, and differential treatment,” they write.
But then the article cites the pro for requiring two letters,
There are a lot of reasons why asking for two signatures might be reasonable. These surgeries are irreversible and involve removing healthy tissue, so performing them on someone who might be suffering from psychiatric complications, or who might come to regret it, would certainly be bad. And not all doctors are actually qualified to perform genital reconstruction, and might take advantage of people—putting barriers between patients and bad doctors can be a good thing. (At least one such case does exist. Dr. Russel Reid, a physician working in the U.K., pushed several patients towards surgery and was later found guilty of medical misconduct in a case that was controversial in the transgender community.)
I think one letter should be all that is required for GCS, for one thing it is expensive to have to see and extra doctor and for another doctors like Dr. Reid are few and far between. But I add on caveat, healthcare providers need to be better educated on trans-healthcare. There are no guideline in the Standard of Cares on what training is required for healthcare providers, it had only a vague description of what is needed to treat gender dysphoria,
“Knowledgeable about gender-nonconforming identities and expressions, and the assessment and treatment of gender dysphoria.
In addition to the minimum credentials above, it is recommended that mental health professionals develop and maintain cultural competence to facilitate their work with transsexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming clients. This may involve, for example, becoming knowledgeable about current community, advocacy, and public policy issues relevant to these clients and their families. Additionally, knowledge about sexuality, sexual health concerns, and the assessment and treatment of sexual disorders is preferred.
If mental health professionals are uncomfortable with, or inexperienced in, working with transsexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming individuals and their families, they should refer clients to a competent provider or, at minimum, consult with an expert peer.
I think they need to spell out more what education is required such as an internship, or class hours, or something to better define what healthcare providers need to know.

What are your thoughts?

I’ve Been Busy

I was away Tuesday and Wednesday closing up the cottage for the winter, it was rainy and cold both days while we were there. We had work done on it and we had to clean up after the carpenter finished and we also had to shut the water off and drain the system. We always have our fingers crossed that we didn’t forget to do something so when we open it up in the spring there are no surprises.

After I came home I went to a focus group on healthcare for LGBT where we talked about our experiences with healthcare providers. There we a number of trans-people on group so I think we got our concerns a crossed.

Today I have two meetings, one at noon and one right after I get out of the first meeting… lunch? What’s that?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


"It's not easy being green," or in our case it’s not easy being trans and no matter what age you come out it is never easy. Each age has its own problems and for kids it is hard to come out in school, many schools systems still segregate trans-student while some schools fully integrate trans-students.

Jazz has written a book for kids about being different,
‘I Am Jazz’ shares transgender challenges in kid-friendly story 
Review Journal
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
November 19, 2014

There’s nobody else like you. Nobody has eyes like yours, or fingers like yours or ears that fold like yours. You think for yourself, have your own likes and hates, and people love you just the way you are.

In the new book “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, with pictures by Shelagh McNicholas, you’ll read about a girl who’s just like other girls … only different.
That’s because Jazz has “a girl brain but a boy body.” She’s transgender, and she was born just like that.
Her book has gotten good reviews,
I really like this book. I like its perky, friendly cover and the kid-magnet colors that McNicholas uses. I like the basic premise and the answers it offers curious kids, parents and teachers.

Those are the things that struck me immediately about it. Looking deeper, though, I discovered what truly makes “I Am Jazz” so valuable: it’s a unique, no-secrets tale written in a kid-friendly, easy-to-grasp, matter-of-fact way, told in part by author Jazz Jennings herself. That, with co-author Herthel, makes this story glow with a personal, upbeat and spirited touch that’s relatable for all children.
Here is a Yahoo video of an interview with Jazz by Katie Couric,

Jazz will be at the True Colors conference this spring.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It Is A Long Way To The Shores Of Tripoli

With trans-servicemembers just around the corner it looks like the Marines will have a long ways to go to fully integrate the Marines. A few months ago a Marine killed a trans-woman in a Philippine bar and he has just been charged with murder.
Marine charged in Filipino transgender slaying
Marine Times
By Jim Gomez
The Associated Press
December 15, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine government prosecutors charged a U.S. Marine with murder Monday in the killing of a Filipino, saying the suspect acknowledged attacking the victim after he found out she was a transgender woman.

Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos said there was "probable cause" that Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton, who has been detained since shortly after the October incident, killed Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, in the motel room where the victim's body was found in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila. She had apparently been strangled and drowned in a toilet bowl.
The Marine has reportedly said,
"I think I killed a he/she," Pemberton was quoted as having told Rose [A Marine that Pemberton went out bar hopping that night].
And if you read the comments about the article they show that the Marines have a long ways to go to integrate trans- servicemembers and also gay and lesbian servicemembers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Something We Don’t Talk About

When I started interning for my Master’s in Social Work, the field supervisor asked me about my support network, at first I didn’t know what she was talking about. I first thought she meant the support group that I go to, but what she meant was who it is that I turn to for emotional support is.

I didn’t think I would ever need support because I was my concentration was community organizing, after all how emotional can you over community organizing. But once I did need support and even today when I think back to that meeting it affects me.
Out Of The Shadows: Sex-Trafficking A Threat to Runaway Connecticut Teens
Hartford Courant
By Josh Kovner
December 12, 2014

Trafficking of children for sex isn't confined to the dark alleys of mysterious foreign cities. Children don't have to be chained as sex slaves in cages in dank basements. It was, and is, happening in Connecticut, and is as simple as a girl, or even a boy, running away from a foster home or somewhere else and bumping, literally, into a pimp trolling the mall or the park for just such a target.

In response, Connecticut has passed new laws that treat sexually exploited teens as victims instead of prostitutes, made it easier to prosecute traffickers and created teams of police, social workers and medical professionals who respond on raids. Public awareness of the problem has increased, as illustrated by a steady rise in reports of suspected exploitation to the state Department and Children and Families' abuse and neglect hotline.
"There are people looking for them,'' DCF's Tammy Sneed said of the pimps and predators. Sneed heads the department's child sex-trafficking initiatives and has trained hundreds of law officers and case workers. "They know where to look and who to look for."
Sneed said that one out of every three runaway children — those in DCF care or otherwise — are approached by a pimp within the first 48 hours. The pimps use the "bump" to gauge a young teen's reaction, case workers and investigators say. If her eyes are downcast and she seems submissive or vulnerable or unsure, the pimp moves in and starts the "Romeo," or grooming, phase: offers of clothes, food, gifts, shelter, pseudo affection.
The meeting that day was at the office of Court Support Services Division, it was about a teenage trans-girl that ran away from home and was picked up by a pimp at a bus station in a city in Connecticut, got her hooked on heroin, and forced her to work the street. She was busted and testified against the pimp who then shot her on the court steps and put out a contract on her. CSSD was looking for a save place where they could place her. I was at the meeting to fill-in for the director of a family and youth service agency and listening to her story made an indelible memory that I will carry to my grave.

I know a woman who was thrown out of the house when she came out to her parents in Virginia, at the time she was a teenager, and she worked the streets to survive. When she was busted and the police found out she was trans, they beat the crap out of her. She eventually made her way up north and a YWCA residency shelter took her, she eventually got a Section 8 voucher.

Most people think of some far off exotic port when they think of white slavery, but it happen here in Connecticut and all over the U.S. If you want to help end it become a foster parent and give them a safe home.

I Don’t Know About This

I think I would be a little leery about a show like this, will they hype it up?
Docu-series to take transgender experience mainstream
By Emma Margolin

Building off what has been a groundbreaking year for transgender people in the media, ABC Family announced on Thursday it has a new documentary series in the works that will focus on a teenage boy dealing with his father’s transition.

“My Transparent Life” is the latest TV show to feature the experiences of a transgender person, following in the footsteps of Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” and Amazon’s “Transparent.” With Ryan Seacrest Productions (RSP) and a major television network at the helm, however, this docu-series stands to pull the transgender community further into the mainstream than ever before, where it could significantly reduce prejudices that plague the population.
Or it could make it worst, it all depends on how the producer wants the show and I would be very suspicious of the way the producer might want to go for ratings at the expense of the family.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Gay Straight Alliances are in just about every school here in Connecticut but in conservative states they are few and far between.

A conservative website, Straight Voices in West Virginia had this to say about GSAs,
BUCKHANNON, WV – Buckhannon-Upshur High School has started a new club called the Gay Straight Alliance. The slogan of this alliance is “empowering youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia.” Their mission is to “create safe environments [for homosexual pupils] in schools for students to support each other and learn about homophobia, transphobia, and other oppressions, educate the school community about homophobia, transphobia, gender identity, and sexual orientation issues, and fight discrimination, harassment, and violence in schools.”

This organization states that they fight discrimination, harassment, violence and bullying of LGBT youth; however it creates discrimination, harassment, violence and bullying against Christian students who oppose the homosexual lifestyle.
So in other words by saying let’s all get along together, the Christians students feel that they are being discriminated against because they are being bullied because they are not allowed to harass LGBT students… hmm, isn’t that a kind of circular logic?

And just look at their source,
According to an article from Mass-Resistance, “A purpose of GSAs is to indoctrinate the kids (including those calling themselves ‘straight’) in the radical ideas of the LGBT movement, which they term ‘queer theory.’ Most people are not aware just how extreme this is. Then the GSA leaders have the kids spread those ideas to the rest of the school through events like the ‘Day of Silence’, ‘Gay History Month’, and ‘Transgender Awareness Day.'”
You know it’s that old “Gay Agenda” again! Where we just want to live our lives without being harassed. Shame on us in demanding our right to live in peace.

However, if someone is being harassed because of their religious beliefs that is also wrong. They have a right to their religious beliefs. Two wrongs do not make a right, they shouldn’t harass us for being LGBT, and we shouldn’t harass them for their beliefs.

What Century Are They From?

I think you all know that for many reasons I am a Democrat and one of the reasons is that Republicans live in a different century…
Montana Dress Code Has Female Legislators Sporting New Look: Clenched Jaws
New York Times
By Jack Healy
December 13, 2014

Montana has never been known as a black-tie place. Governors wear cowboy boots and bolo ties, and people joke that a tuxedo is a pair of black jeans and a sport coat. But this winter, when lawmakers arrive at the State Capitol, they will have to abide by a new dress code: No more jeans. No casual Fridays. And female lawmakers “should be sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines.”
Ms. Eck said she was leaving a health care forum in Helena, the capital, on Monday when one of her Republican colleagues peered at her and told her that he was glad to see she was dressed appropriately.
“Skirt lengths and necklines” sounds like something from the 1950s. It seems like Republican controlled legislatures are imposing “dress codes” many of which sound like they are sexist.
“It’s like something out of ‘Mad Men,’” said Representative Ellie Hill, a Democrat from Missoula, referring to a television drama set in the 1960s. “The whole thing is totally sexist and bizarre and unnecessary.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday 9: Feliz Navidad (1970)

  Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1. "Feliz Navidad" is Spanish for "Merry Christmas." Can you wish us happy holidays in a language other than English or Spanish?

2. According to ASCAP (the American Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers), this is one of the 20 most played holiday songs of the last 10 years. What's the most recent carol that you heard?
Little Drummer Boy, Pa rum pum pum pum

3. Which Christmas song do you hope you never hear again?
Grandma Got Run Over By The Reindeer

4. This week's featured artist, Jose Feliciano, was honored to perform this song at the tree lighting ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. If you were to win a trip to our nation's capital, which sites would you visit?
National Air and Space Museum

5. As a very young child, Jose taught himself to play the accordion. If you could suddenly, easily learn to play any instrument, which would you choose?
A guitar

6. Jose says that hearing early 1950s rock on the radio made him want to become a singer. What's your favorite music genre?
Rock & Roll

7. At 17, Jose had to drop out of school to help support his family. Too young to enter bars, he played guitar in coffee houses for tips. Have you ever worked a job where you regularly received gratuities?
Nope, never have.

8. Jose and wife Susan have been together for more than 40 years. Who is the happiest married couple you know?
My parents, they were married 66 years.

9. Jose wrote and performed the theme of the 1970s show, Chico and the Man. What's your current favorite TV show?

It is a toss-up between NICIS, Major Crimes, and Rizzoli & Isles.

 Now let's see if you can get these songs out of your head!

Friday, December 12, 2014

We Can’t Let Them Make The Rules

The good news is that we now have insurance coverage for our transition, the bad news is that no one knows what it covers.
Insurers raise concerns over new transgender treatment rule
By Laura Nahmias
Dec. 11, 2014

New York State’s new requirement that private insurers cover sex reassignment surgery, hormone treatments and therapy for transgender individuals is drawing praise from LGBT advocates, and concern from insurers.
But the mandate is drawing concern from insurers who argue it could add to insurers' costs and set a precedent for patients seeking coverage for cosmetic changes they consider essential for their mental well-being.

“The concern we have is that by putting a spotlight on sex changes we’re setting a precedent,” said Leslie Moran, senior vice president for the state's Health Plan Association.
The changes could be a “slippery slope for other treatments and services people argue are mental health-related,” Moran said.
There is no “slippery slope” it is simple if healthcare providers think that the medical procedure is warranted it should be covered.

Insurance already covers certain cosmetic surgeries such as, burn victims, cancer patients, auto accidents victims, and many more surgeries; in addition, they also cover electrolysis for women with hirsutism. We should be able to have medical procedures that are covered by non-trans-people as long as a healthcare providers deems it necessary for our well-being. We cannot let the insurance companies determine what they will cover, but rather the medical profession should decide. 

The Right Wing Agenda…

…is, “if the truth doesn’t support the conservative cause, lie” and that is what the news media does. Don't let the little thing like the facts get in your way.
Cleveland Paper's Editorial Invokes Fear of 'Predators' in Trans Accommodations
Several Plain Dealer editorial board members made the misinformed argument that allowing trans people to use the facilities that correspond with their gender identity would endanger women.
By Dawn Ennis
December 10, 2014

As a proposal to revise Cleveland’s laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people enters its second month of consideration, the editors of that city’s largest newspaper are weighing in on the issue. And as Media Matters reports, when it comes to changes regarding “public accommodations,” a majority of the editors got it wrong.

The media watchdog site accuses the editorial board of The Plain Dealer and the Northeast Ohio Media Group of “peddling the myth that sexual predators will be allowed to sneak into women's bathrooms.”

As a proposal to revise Cleveland’s laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people enters its second month of consideration, the editors of that city’s largest newspaper are weighing in on the issue. And as Media Matters reports, when it comes to changes regarding “public accommodations,” a majority of the editors got it wrong.

The media watchdog site accuses the editorial board of The Plain Dealer and the Northeast Ohio Media Group of “peddling the myth that sexual predators will be allowed to sneak into women's bathrooms.”
And it is not just that they do not know the facts and are uninformed,
But that’s not what the proposed ordinance does. As Media Matters reports, the language says nothing about allowing men to use women's restrooms.
In New Hampshire when the proposed gender inclusive bill was before the legislature the conservative media label the bill “the bathroom bill” and generated such a backlash against the bill that not even the bill sponsors voted for the bill. Here in Connecticut that label never got any traction even through the conservative tried to label it that.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Oh When Will They Ever Learn

You would think by now that by know school boards would know that it is illegal to discriminate against trans-students. The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have issued many warnings that it is against Title IX to not recognize the gender of trans-students but school boards continue to ignore the directives.
Gloucester School Board OKs policy restricting transgender students from using boys' restroom
Daily Press
By Frances Hubbard
December 9, 2014

The Gloucester County School Board approved a policy on bathroom use Tuesday night that restricts transgender students to either single-stall restrooms or the restrooms designated for their biological gender.
The vote was 6-1. Board member Kim Hensley voted against the motion. Voting for it were board members Carla Hook, Randy Burak, Kevin Smith, Charles Records, Troy Anderson and Anita Parker.
There were a number of people speaking against the policy, including some who you wouldn’t think would be against the policy,
"This issue is the civil rights issue of this generation and we've got to treat everybody fairly," said Pastor Fred Carter. "We have no advantage in leaving a child out. ... Who are we to judge?"

"How would you want this handled if it was your child?" Mark Farina asked. "My son is no more threatened by this young man than any other young man that walks in the bathroom."
And it was pointed out that the new policy was a violation of Title IX but the school board thumbed it nose at the law…
School Board member Records said the board should not be fearful of the ACLU or the Department of Justice.
But one board member got it right, Kim Hensley said that "The answer is not this motion, the answer is privacy," and she is exactly right. Everyone has the right to privacy. The days of open locker rooms and showers are over. Back in the early 70s when I went to college all the dorms had individual shower stalls. They were like bathroom stalls but has a seat and a hook to hang your clothes and a curtain to separate the shower from the changing area in the stall.

# # # # #

Bilerico has an article about lessons learned in Michigan equal rights bill and the author Brynn Tannehill got it right…
1.) Conservatives falsely claim that gender identity is already protected.
2.) Dividing and conquering over transgender inclusion remains a viable strategy for anti-LGBT conservatives.
3.) New conservative talking point: Refusing to leave the trans community behind is "radical," "left-wing."
4.) Conservatives always have the "religious freedom" poison pill to fall back on.
5.) LGBT organizations took 2007 to heart.
6.) Be careful who you let into the tent.
I urge you to go and read the full article; she goes into detail on all six takeaways. Especially number six, when we were trying to pass the gender inclusive anti-discrimination bill we wanted to make sure everyone was on the same page.

We have to learn from our wins and losses because the conservatives are also learning.

The End Is Coming!

The end is coming, no not the end of the world but the ban on trans-servicemembers, the hand writing in on the wall.
Air Force secretary supports lifting transgender ban
USA Today
By Susan Page
December 10, 2014

ARLINGTON, Va. — Now that the U.S. military has opened more jobs to women and allowed gay men and lesbians to serve openly, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James says the ban on transgender troops is likely to be reassessed and should be lifted.

"Times change," she told Capital Download, saying the policy "is likely to come under review in the next year or so." Asked whether dropping the ban would affect military readiness, she replied: "From my point of view, anyone who is capable of accomplishing the job should be able to serve."
She apparently is the first secretary of a branch of the armed forces to support the idea of ending the ban on transgender troops, though House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and some other members of Congress have urged the Pentagon to lift it.
Leave it to a woman to speak up first, the men are all waiting to see who will make the first move; you go first… no you go first… no you. Well the first move has been made.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Do you use “Trans*” I started using just “trans” many years ago before it became fashionable, I kind of morphed into using it. I didn’t like the label “transsexual” it sounded too clinical, transgender wasn’t bad but it didn’t really identify me. Trans-woman was closer but eventually I just started to say “trans,” there is an essay in Slate about using “Trans*”
Why Trans Caught On
By Reid Vanderburgh
December 8, 2014

With only two words to choose from, man or woman, boy or girl, those who re-examine gender find themselves bumping up against the limitations of English. How can two words begin to capture the experience of the complex social process we call gender? Those redefining gender for themselves expand the lexicon far beyond two words, such that it becomes clear there is no consensus at all on terminology. For instance, some happily call themselves transsexual, noting they did change the sex of their body and this feels the most descriptive to them; others recoil in horror at the idea, exclaiming, "How can you use that term, it’s so medical model and pathologizing!"

Note how many of the above terms include the prefix trans. In the interest of pragmatic inclusivity, the shorthand term trans has become part of the community lexicon. A newer term still is trans*, reinforcing the idea that there are multiple possible endings to follow trans. Even there, consensus isn’t possible. Some view trans and trans* as two different populations of people—trans is viewed as the umbrella term for those who undertake some form of physical transition, while those who are trans* are in a middle-ground of gender that doesn’t pursue physical body modification. Others view trans as a fluid, deliberately-vague term that stands on its own, much like the term queer; the term trans* makes more clear that there are multiple identities under consideration, that one should then ask, "What does your * stand for?"
When I give workshops I joke “Don’t look at the bottom of the page for the asterisk because it means multiple suffixes” and sure enough there are a few people in the audience who were looking all over the page to see what the “*” means. 

We Don’t Count

When there are surveys or data being collective we are rarely counted, how many times have you read something about LGBT and found out that it really was only LG with no “BT". Whether it is for elder care, LGBT cruises, school bullying, or violence against LGBT people, it is really only about lesbians and gays.
FBI Understates Hate-Motivated Attacks on Transgender People
By Dominic Holden
December 8, 2014

Despite a recent epidemic of violent attacks and homicides of transgender women, the FBI’s annual hate crime report released today says only 33 people in the United States were targeted in bias crimes for their gender identity in 2013.

This is the first year federal officials are reporting hate crimes against transgender people, as is now required by the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act. But after seeing the results of this year’s report, antiviolence experts said the new figures for transgender violence are impossibly small. “The phrase that comes to mind is tip of the iceberg,” Osman Ahmed, the education coordinator of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), told BuzzFeed News. “That is an incredibly low number.”

By way of comparison, the NCAVP issued a comprehensive report in May that found 344 transgender people — more than 10 times the FBI’s figure — were the victims of hate-motivated violence in 2013. That was up from 305 the year before. The group found 13 transgender people in the U.S. were killed last year in bias attacks.
Why does this happen?

I can think of many reasons… they don’t think there is a difference between us and gays and lesbians, we are all “Gays.” They don’t have a “box” for gender identity on their form or they don’t ask the right questions. Or we do not identify ourselves as being trans for a number of reasons like fear of discrimination or we do not consider ourselves to be trans, we are a man or a woman, not transgender. Also if the news media does their job right they won’t report us as being trans, just a man or woman and not a trans-man or trans-woman.

The article goes on to say,
Among the reasons federal statistics underrepresent attacks on transgender people, experts say, many state and local hate crime laws don’t include protections for LGBT people. Such is the case in Ohio; because Ohio has no statewide law to prosecute hate crimes against LGBT victims, the state may not report certain incidents as hate crimes. Aaron Eckhardt, a leader of Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization (BRAVO), pointed out in an interview recently with BuzzFeed News, “According to Ohio, there have been zero hate crimes committed against people in those categories.”
Many times hate crimes do not get reported as hate crimes because it gives the authorities a “black eye,” in school reporting of bullying many school report “zero” cases because they set the bar for labeling an incident as bullying is set high. They don’t want their school to be labeled as a school with a lot of bullying.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Expanding The Employment Protection For Us

The Department of Labor just announced their final revision of the President’s Executive Order for employment protection for gender identity and sexual orientation to go into effect in 120 days.
Labor Department announces final rule for LGBT workplace executive order
Staff Reports
Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday announced the final rule for prohibiting discrimination against transgender federal employees and LGBT employees of federal contractors.

The rule implements an Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama on July 21.

The order bans workplace discrimination against transgender federal employees by amending a previous order issued by President Bill Clinton banning sexual orientation discrimination within the federal workforce.

In the same order, Obama established new standards for federal contractors prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, which employ 20 percent of the American workforce. In so doing, the order protects 14 million more American workers from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
This is in addition to the EEOC ruling from two years ago, the EO also includes sexual orientation, but it is just for government contractors.

Of course the Republicans are in a tizzy, they want to expand the religious exemption to include companies like Hobby Lobby.

There is an interesting blog on the EEOC efforts to expand to protect lesbians, trans-people, and gays in the workplace. The blog Lexicon explains how the EEOC has sued a number of companies for discriminating against trans-people and is working to include sexual orientation to that protection,
Led by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), federal agencies are beginning to focus on sexual orientation, gender identity and transgender discrimination.  While the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has been introduced in every Congress since 1994, is unlikely to gain traction in the new Republican-controlled Congress, the EEOC and Department of Labor (DOL) have made lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues an enforcement priority.

On September 25, 2014, the EEOC filed a pair of lawsuits against companies alleging discrimination against transgender employees.  Both lawsuits cite violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which provides protection against sex discrimination.  This signifies the first time that the federal government has used Title VII to target private companies for LGBT discrimination.  Additionally, in October, the EEOC filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to reconsider its decision in Muhammad v. Caterpillar, Inc., 767 F.3d 694 (7th Cir. 2014), that Title VII does not bar sexual-orientation discrimination.
The EEOC has advanced a gender-stereotyping theory of sex discrimination first articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989).  Rather than focus on sexual orientation discrimination per se, the EEOC has focused on gender-stereotyping arguments where, for example, an employee is penalized for behavior or mannerisms not conforming to traditional gender norms.
This is an interesting strategy, by claiming that gays and lesbians are being discriminated against because they do not fit the gender-stereotype, not because of their sexual orientation. This was the strategy that trans-people used to get the courts to extend Title VII protection to gender identity.