Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday 9: Papa Loved Mama (1992)

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Papa Loved Mama (1992)

Every Saturday I take time off from written on serious topics to have some fun…

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Then try this. It's not very good quality, and it may have been pulled by the time you get over to it, because Garth doesn't like YouTube videos. Sorry.

1) This song is about a trucking "accident" that was covered extensively in the local paper. What's the big news story in your neighborhood?
In town the railroad station is being renovated and we will be one of the few stations on the New Haven – Springfield line to have bathrooms in the station,

2) The action centers around a motel. When is the last time you stayed in a hotel or motel?
Over Christmas when we had Christmas at my niece’s and nephew’s houses.

3) In the song, Papa wants to surprise Mama with a bottle of wine. Do you prefer white or red?
White, red gives me heartburn.

4) This week's featured artist, Garth Brooks, has said that the late Chris LeDoux -- singer, sculptor and rodeo champion -- is his hero. If you had to single out someone this morning as your hero, who would it be?
My science teacher in high school.

5) Before he was able to support himself as a singer, Brooks was a bouncer at a bar. Have you ever had an encounter with a bouncer (either that he threw you out or came to your aid)?
Nope, except I used to get dirty looks when I had my old driver licences

6) According to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), Garth surpassed The Beatles as the top selling artist of the last 25 years. Whose music do you listen to more -- Garth Brooks or the The Beatles?
The Beatles, I wouldn’t by choice listen to country music, I’m a sixties rock and roll person.

7) While 1992 was a banner year for Garth Brooks, it was a bad one for another country legend, Willie Nelson. Willie ended up paying the IRS more than $9,000,000. When you file your taxes, will you qualify for a refund? Or will you owe money?
A very small refund. I rather owe money then get a refund.

8) When this song was popular in 1992, Sarah Ferguson, then the Duchess of York, was in all the papers and magazines for her controversial conduct -- including being photographed sunbathing topless with a man not her husband. Today no one seems to care much about what Sarah Ferguson does. Can you think of someone else whose fame was fleeting?
Hmm… I can’t think of any one right now, I guess their fame was too fleeting.

9) This is Super Bowl weekend. Where will you be watching The Big Game?
What game? Is there some type of game this weekend? I thought it was just some big party weekend that people watched a game while partying.

Last weekend I was away at a conference in Waltham MA where I gave a workshop. I was worrying about the snow storm over the weekend so I drove up on Friday night.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Little Lipstick…

And that is only for when I have to go somewhere important or fancy like a banquet, otherwise I wear no make-up at all.

Fantasia Fair
When I first came out and attending conference I used to attend all the workshops on makeup, the support group I attend used to had makeup artist come or a meeting at their store. One time before the support group banquet I had a makeover, the whole nine yards, nails, pedicure, makeup, everything but I felt it made me look artificial.

After I had electrolysis done I no longer had a beard to cover up and I stopped applying makeup, except for lipstick.

Another thing was the women that I know never wear makeup. I remember
Dancing the night away at
UConn School of Social Work
"A Night to Remember"
going to a party to celebrate the signing of the marriage equality law and I asked a friend who is a lesbian what’s everyone going to wear and she said, slacks. I wore a dress and I was the only one there with a dress on, many just were wearing jeans with a nice top and non wore makeup.

When I give workshops to professionals audience I usually wear slacks, a causal top and either low heel pumps, ankle boots or loafers and a little lipstick. Never any high heels, except when I am going to banquets or semi-formal occasions.

Today I was dressed in my professional business attire with a little lipstick on because I had to go to UConn field placement office to interview a possible intern I might have this semester.

So if you see me wearing lipstick you know it must be a special occasion.

Gender-Neutral Shopping

Hmm… an interesting concept.
Selfridges goes unisex: Oxford Street department store to stock gender neutral fashion ranges for both men AND women
  • Three of the department store's floors are being made 'gender neutral'
  • Oxford Street store Selfridges has launched five unisex fashion collections
  • Unisex range Boy London even had celebrity fans such as singer Rhianna
  • The store is also presenting mixed-gender beauty products and accessories
Daily Mail
By Hannah Parry
Published, 24 January 2015

Now Selfridges is launching 'gender-neutral' shopping to allow consumers to buy clothes without being restricted to men's or women's fashions.

The Oxford Street department store has announced it will be axing its separate women and menswear departments in favour of three floors of unisex fashion. It is also getting rid of its traditional mannequins.

Selfridges believe that shoppers no longer want to be defined or limited by their gender as to what they can wear. Instead they are able to shop for unisex or 'agender' clothing. 
Is this the future? Is this just a publicity stunt?
'A lot of our men's collection influences our women's and vice versa,' she [Jane Shepper, chief executive of Whistle] added.

Cos and Gap have all noticed increases in the number of women buying menswear, while men have also been picking up women's knitwear for themselves.
Or are there just more trans people buying clothes?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Affirming Gender

There are times when you come across an article that just blows your mind. There was a post on Facebook with a link to this website and when I followed the link it was WOW!
Affirming gender: Caring for gender-atypical children and adolescentsContemporary Pediatrics
By Ilana Sherer MD, Joel Baum MS, Diane Ehrensaft PhD, Stephen M Rosenthal MD
January 01, 2015

Case 1
Your patient Mark comes to his 3-year-old well-child checkup wearing a dress and also barrettes in his hair. During the visit, you mention to the parents, “I notice Mark’s creative outfit today. Is that something you want to talk more about?” The parents mention that Mark has been wearing this dress every day since his female cousin came to visit. He likes to tell people that his name is “Katie” and that when he grows up he wants to be a girl like his cousin. When adults correct him, he doesn’t really seem to mind, saying, “I’m just playing pretend.”
Just reading the first case study was amazing, can you imagine reading something like this ten years ago? I remember when I first got involved with trans community, the advice given to parents was to expect a visit from the state family and children agencies. Advising the parents to document everything because you will have to prove that it is not child abuse.

There are two other cases listed and the article goes on to say,
Families who are concerned or seeking information about their child’s gender expression or identity often turn to their primary care providers (PCPs) for help. As pediatricians, we are in a powerful position to promote health and positive outcomes for these children; however, few of us have received any formal education or training to grapple with this increasingly common issue. The goals of this article are to help the general pediatrician develop a basic understanding of gender, and offer ways to approach gender-expansive and transgender children or adolescents.

The first step is to examine our own feelings, attitudes, and beliefs about gender and consider how these affect our work with youth. Equally important is educating ourselves on the diversity of gender in our patients and the corresponding interventions available for supporting them. Adopting supportive, affirming practices, such as intake forms that allow for the patient’s preferred name and pronouns (and using them accordingly), is another critically important step for helping young persons feel comfortable. In addition, medical professionals can be effective advocates for their transgender patients’ needs and rights in settings outside the clinic, such as home and school. 
The article begins with a Trans101 and then breaks down the age groups and how to treat a child in those groups. It lists,

  • Ages 0 to 4 years
  • Ages 5 to 9 years
  • Ages 8 to 14 years (early puberty)
  • Ages 14 to 18 years (late puberty)

The article talks about social transition, puberty blocks, sexuality, fertility, and finally surgery. the article is truly amazing, it is six web pages long andI strongly recommend reading it.

Contemporary Pediatrics: Affirming gender

A Slow Boil

Whenever I read something like this my blood pressure goes up,
Sun destinations for gay and lesbian seniors
Daily Xtra Travel
By Aefa Mulholland
Published Mon, Jan 26, 2015

Even more than in the maintream world, most ads and visuals that promote LGBT travel feature a bevy of fresh, youthful faces. But statistically, one in eight Americans (12.8 percent in 2009) and nearly one in six Canadians (an estimated 15.2 percent in 2010) are 65 or older. With the tourism industry seemingly focused on the young, where is an older LGBT person to go when temperatures sink up north and it’s time for some winter sun?
I will give them the fact that in the headline they only said gay and lesbian, but notice that they said “LGBT” thought out the article but it only list gay or lesbian travel agencies,
Crystal Cruises, a luxury, big-ship, mainstream cruise line, attracts many older gay couples on board its trips, while women of all ages choose from Olivia’s offerings. The much-loved Olivia always charters the entire ship (or buys out the whole resort) for its vacations, and while, overall, guests range in age from their early 20s to their 90s, the average age on Olivia’s riverboat and adventure trips skew toward the 60-plus set.
Are they trans friendly? I don’t know because we are never mentioned.

They go on to say “The top three destinations that she recommends for older LGBT travellers are Sicily, Arizona and Belize.” Hmm… I don’t know about Belize, last year they had a trans woman brutally murder there and Central and South America is known for their hostile treatment of trans people. I would like to know if it is okay for trans people before I went to Belize.

There was a LOGO TV drag cruise back in 2012 where the cruise line sent out a letter,
   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.
So much for being trans friendly and this was a “drag cruise” what will it like for a trans person on a gay or lesbian cruise? They did apologize later, but the damage was done.

The article even through it said it was for LGBT travelers all they had listed were gay travel agencies, and lesbian travel agencies, but there was not one trans travel agencies listed. An agency such as Transgender Vacations that has a trip to Cancun, Mexico in August and a trip Greek Isles Cruise in October.

I wish that when an article says LGBT that it covers lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender not just gays and lesbians.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I Will Believe It When I See It Passed

Utah says they want to pass a LGBT non-discrimination law,
In major move, Mormon apostles call for statewide LGBT protections
By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
January 27, 2015

Top leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called Tuesday for passage of laws granting statewide protections against housing and employment discrimination for gay and lesbian Utahns — as long as those measures safeguard religious freedom.

The move, one LGBT advocates have been pushing for years, provides a major boost for the prospects of nondiscrimination statutes on Utah's Capitol Hill. Such proposals have been bottled up in the Legislature for years — despite the church's historic endorsement of similar protections in Salt Lake City ordinances in 2009.
"We call on local, state and the federal government," Oaks [an apostle] said in a news release, "to serve all of their people by passing legislation that protects vital religious freedoms for individuals, families, churches and other faith groups while also protecting the rights of our LGBT citizens in such areas as housing, employment and public accommodation in hotels, restaurants and transportation — protections which are not available in many parts of the country."
Okay the article is a little vague on what the bill will cover; the article says “similar protections in Salt Lake City ordinances in 2009” but that law only covers employment and housing, not public accommodation but Oaks seems to include public accommodation. Also in other parts of the article they says LGBT but talk about gay and lesbian protection, so what do they mean? In another Salt Lake Tribune article about the bill they write,
The Utah Legislature is prepared to grapple in coming weeks with competing measures — one that would bar housing and employment discrimination against gay and lesbian Utahns and another that would protect individuals' right to deny services based on their religious beliefs.
While this is a good step in the right direction, I want to know who the bill will actually protect and what will it cover. I fear we will be left out of the bill and that it will have such a large religious exemption that you could drive a truck through.

Why I Will Never Vote Republican

There are those who say that they vote Republican for economic reasons but I say that human rights outweigh any financial reasons.
Looking Out: LGBT groups criticize Hogan for pulling back Medicaid regulation banning discriminationBaltimore Sun
By Kevin Rector
January 22, 2015

In one of his first acts, Hogan held up a regulation that would have banned Medicaid providers in the state from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to state officials. The provision was proposed in recent months under the administration of Hogan's predecessor, Martin O'Malley, at the urging of LGBT groups.
In one of his first acts, Hogan held up a regulation that would have banned Medicaid providers in the state from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, according to state officials. The provision was proposed in recent months under the administration of Hogan's predecessor, Martin O'Malley, at the urging of LGBT groups.
“However,” he wrote, “those laws now include gender identity and we urge him to re-issue this Order with all of the current prohibited grounds included in state law.”
Here in Connecticut one of the first bills introduced in the current session was a bill by a Republican to ban insurance coverage for the healthcare needs for trans people.

I will never vote for any party that uses oppression of a marginalized community to get votes.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Story Often Told

It is a story that is becoming must more common, a son or daughter who tells their parents that they are the opposite gender.
Raising a Transgender Child: When George Became Jessie
Scary Mommy
By Julie Ross

Two years ago, my nine year old son tearfully shared with me that “his whole life, he had wanted to be a girl”. Pressed by the therapist (who, thank God, was in the room with us) to clarify whether he wants to be a girl or is a girl, George immediately replied that he is a girl. And so began a crazy-ass adventure of raising a transgendered child that I never, in a million years, expected to find my child or, frankly, myself, on.

To be clear, my husband Rich and I always knew that George (who is now Jessie) was different from not only our older son, but from other kids – male and female alike.

With sparkling eyes and a wildly observant and funny personality, he was known by everyone everywhere we went. Never one to shy away from a conversation or situation (particularly if it involved dolls, dresses, wigs or mermaid tails) he captured the attention of anyone he came into contact with. When behaviors that concerned us in preschool and kindergarten – including, but by no means limited to his self portraits (a frequent drawing assignment) consistently depicting a girl in a dress with long, flowing hair – continued with even greater vigor in first-, second- and third-grades we concluded that he was probably going to grow up to be gay, yet didn’t quite buy it ourselves. He was a boy who greatly appreciated a beautiful girl and what she was wearing. He never met a doll, wig, dress or mermaid tail that he didn’t feel a total compulsion to own – no matter how strongly he had to fight for it. And despite the fact that he was not even slightly effeminate, there were several occasions that he harassed and harangued me for hours on end requesting everything from hair extensions to wigs to dolls. It never added up. And then he asked for (and by “asked for” I mean “demanded”) a pierced ear. 
Our very good friend Dr. Zucker [sarcasm] has come out with a new study, “Evidence for an altered sex ratio in clinic-referred adolescents with gender dysphoria” in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The abstract says,
Introduction. The number of adolescents referred to specialized gender identity clinics for gender dysphoria appears to be increasing and there also appears to be a corresponding shift in the sex ratio, from one favoring natal males to one favoring natal females.
Results. Across both clinics, the total sample size was 748. In both clinics, there was a significant change in the sex ratio of referred adolescents between the two cohort periods: between 2006-2013, the sex ratio favored natal females, but in the prior years the sex ratio favored natal males. In Study 1 from Toronto, there was no corresponding change in the sex ratio of 6592 adolescents referred for other clinical problems.
Conclusions. Sociological and sociocultural explanations are offered to account for this recent inversion in the sex ratio of adolescents with gender dysphoria.
While the academics are arguing over why there are more trans children coming, I think the answer is obvious, it is because they can. I think it because of a more tolerant society, people are more aware of trans people, and that the kids nowadays have access to the internet and they see other kids like them.

A Hard Battle To Win

The trans woman who is suing Cabela’s for discrimination has also charged that the store violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
First transgender discrimination case to challenge ADA’s constitutionality
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
By Saranac Hale Spencer / The Legal Intelligencer
January 27, 2015

In the summer of 1989, U.S. senators debating the Americans with Disabilities Act excluded behavior they deemed immoral from the ADA’s protections, including “transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders,” according to the text of the law.

That portion of the ADA hasn’t been challenged until now.

Kate Lynn Blatt, a transgender woman who was fired from her job at Cabela’s, filed a discrimination suit last summer making claims under both the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is more often used in cases like this one.
I think it is going to be very hard to win under the ADA because we had been purposely written out of the law by Congressman Jessie Helms. The article goes on to say,
In the summer of 1989, U.S. senators debating the Americans with Disabilities Act excluded behavior they deemed immoral from the ADA’s protections, including “transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders,” according to the text of the law.

That portion of the ADA hasn’t been challenged until now.

Kate Lynn Blatt, a transgender woman who was fired from her job at Cabela’s, filed a discrimination suit last summer making claims under both the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which is more often used in cases like this one.
It is pushing the envelope and I think a bit of a stretch to overturn the ban on gender dysphoria because I think the justices will be afraid that the other exemptions could also be overturned.

So this is going to be an interesting case to follow.

Monday, January 26, 2015

All Those Who Think This Will Pass Raise Your Hand

When the Massachusetts gender identity and expression bill was passed in 2012 one key component was left out… public accommodation. The Boston Globe had an editorial the efforts to pass public accommodation bill, in the editorial they said,
In so doing, the Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Act protected transgender people from being discriminated against in matters of housing, employment, credit, and public education. But at the last minute, legislators stripped a provision out of the bill regarding discrimination in public places. So a restaurant, for instance, could not refuse to hire someone — or fire them — based on gender identity, but it could refuse to serve them. And a transgender person could be denied use of a public restroom.
  The absence of the “public accommodation” clause leaves a crucial hole in the law, one that state legislators in the last session tried to rectify. But an amendment proposed by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz languished in the Senate. Now Chang-Diaz is set to resubmit the bill. The Legislature should move quickly to pass the amendment, and Governor Charlie Baker — who has expressed ambivalence about the provision — should support it.
When trying to pass protection for us the easy parts were employment, housing, and credit, public accommodation is always the hardest to pass because of the dreaded label “Bathroom Bill.”

I know here in Connecticut we said all or nothing. We had rulings from the Commission of Human Rights and Opportunities and so did Massachusetts that gender identity and expression were protected under sex discrimination. One of the arguments that was used was the legislation never said that it wasn’t protected. Well now in Massachusetts they did, so it is a whole new ballgame.

Now they are struggling to pass the public accommodation and it is going to be a long, long uphill battle. And as the editorial said the governor doesn’t if he will support the bill.

In another Boston Globe article it said that,
BOSTON - Governor-elect Charlie Baker would not support expanding the state's anti-discrimination laws to add protection for transgender people in public places, such as restaurants or theaters.
  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."
I don’t that the Massachusetts legislature will ever be able to get enough support to override a governor’s veto.

There has not been any legal cases for public accommodation so far, it should be very interesting to see what will happen when there is a case. Will the courts follow previous precedent? Or will they throw it all out and find we are not covered under sex discrimination because the legislature has had it say?

So I wish them luck, because they are going to need it.

When I'm Sixty-Four

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?


Our pioneers are blazing the trail once again, this time in senior centers and nursing homes.
Seniors in the LGBTQ community need not grow old alone
Participants discuss the future of the senior programming at the LGBTQ Center in Las Vegas on Dec. 11, 2014.
Los Vegas Sun
By Jackie Valley
Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015

When 64-year-old Gary Payne retired as a nurse, he encountered a problem many seniors face: boredom.

But as a gay man — he recently married his partner of 37 years — Payne said he didn’t feel entirely comfortable at Southern Nevada’s many senior centers. Most are filled predominantly with straight retirees.
“You feel like you’re the only person who is different,” Payne said.

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada hopes to reach people like Payne with new senior programming. Called ACT III, short for “aging communities together,” the programming aims to provide a safe haven for people 50 and older who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual or two-spirit, as well as their allies, said Holly Reese, senior and transgender programs manager for the Center.
Here in Connecticut the senior centers are stepping in to the gap, three towns have gotten together to hold events for LGBT seniors. I went to the first event which was a coffee house and there were about 20 – 25 people who came to listen to the music and to socialize with others. For one gay couple it was the first time that they went out, they are shut-ins, they thought the coffee house was fabulous.

When I go to the photo club at my town’s senior center, I feel a little awkward even though they have treated me very well and have used proper pronouns.
“The younger generation takes for granted sometimes a lot of things the older generation has had to fight and spill their blood to get,” Reese said.
And we are still fighting for. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ever Hear Of A Little Thing Called The “First Amendment?”

You know the part that says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” in Oklahoma they want to do away with marriage licenses and make it so that only clergy can marry someone… sorry atheists.
Oklahoma bill would put an end to marriage licenses
Oklahoma state Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, has filed a bill that would put an end to marriage licenses in the state. Under his plan, a religious official would sign a couple’s marriage certificate, which would then be filed with the court clerk.
The Oklahoman
By Rick Green
January 21, 2015

Marriage licenses would become a thing of the past in Oklahoma under a bill filed by state Rep. Todd Russ.

The Cordell Republican says he wants to protect court clerks from having to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He doesn’t want these workers put in the position of having to condone or facilitate same-sex marriage.

Under his plan, a religious official would sign a couple’s marriage certificate, which would then be filed with the clerk. Marriages would no longer be performed by judges. If a couple did not have a religious official to preside over their wedding, they could file an affidavit of common law marriage.
However, there is a little thing that Oklahoma doesn’t recognize common law marriage. According to KSWO news,
The State of Oklahoma does not currently recognize common law marriages. Although, some common law marriages have been recognized in court cases in Oklahoma.
But why let details get in your way.


I don’t know if you have seen the latest proposal from the FDA on blood donations?

They are discussing lifting the ban on life time ban on blood donation for gay men and changing it to abstention from sex with men for at least one year. The ban is not for lesbians, but only gay men, so where do we fit in to the ban.
FDA’s New Blood Donation Guidelines Offer Little Clarity For Transgender People
Doctors criticize the FDA for applying its ban on blood donations based on a person’s sex at birth, not their risky or safe behavior.
BuzzFeed News
By  Dominic Holden
Posted on Jan. 21, 2015

The Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to change its 30-year-old policy that bans men who have had sex with another man from donating blood for life has highlighted a problem not often discussed in connection with the so-called “gay blood ban”: the policy’s incoherent, arbitrary treatment of transgender people.

“Our policy is to designate by sex at birth,” FDA spokesperson Tara Goodin told BuzzFeed News. “That is all there is to it.”

The policy, medical experts say, creates for transgender people what is, effectively, an inverse of the blood ban applied to other people. For example, a transgender woman who only has sex with straight men is banned from donating blood. A transgender man who is gay and has sex with men, on the other hand, is allowed to donate blood.
This is total ignorance on the part of the FDA, they have no idea anything about gender dysphoria, they are just lumping us in with “gays.” They do have any understand about us,
“The existing policy is flawed at its core,” Madeline Deutsch, a medical doctor and director of clinical service at the Center of Excellence for Transgender Health at UCSF, told BuzzFeed News, “and transgender people highlight this problem.”
“It is absurd to determine eligibility based on how someone identifies and who they are attracted to. It should have to do with behaviors that put someone in a high-risk category,” Deutsch said. Those risky behaviors include IV drug use, unprotected sex with multiple partners, and sex while intoxicated. She supports a policy that assesses behavior, not binary gender roles or sexual orientation, as the basis for denying blood donations.
This all came about during the Regan administration, from the homophobia that ran wild in his administration over AIDS.

I know someone who went to give blood, told the screen all her health history and the IV was being started when the supervisor came out to her. In a loud voice the supervisor said that “transsexuals cannot give blood!” talk about violating HIPAA.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


I just got back from a conference in Massachusetts; as usual there was a snow storm. It seems like every year when they have the conference it snows and this year it kept up the tradition. I had planned on driving up in the morning for my 10 o’clock workshop but with the forecast I decided to drive up the night before and friends in Haverhill invited me to stay over at their house. This morning when I left their house at 7:30 there was about 2 inches on the ground, the roads were slushy and the state lowered the speed limit to 40 mph.

When I got there at a quarter of 9 I registered and meet my co-presenter, we then rehearsed the presentation. Our workshop was transitioning at college but somehow the title was changed to employment transition in colleges. We had only 4 people attend the workshop but two were parents of a trans child and they were worried about their child who was applying to colleges. One person just about took over the workshop and we had to moderate the discussion so that everyone had a chance to talk.

I attended one other workshop before lunch and then had lunch with a friend. After lunch I bumped into a friend who was going to come up with me in the morning, but with the change in plans he had to drive up on his own in the storm. I left right after lunch and the ride home wasn’t bad, just wet.

Here is my handout for the workshop,
Some basic information:
  • Connecticut is a Common Law state (Custer v. Bonadies… “The court therefore concludes that the common-law right of a person to use a name…”) this means that you have the right to use any name you want to use.
  • Connecticut has a gender identity & expression non-discrimination law (PA11-55)
  • Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities has an excellent resource booklet call “Guidelines for Schools on Gender Identity and Expression” that is available on-line. It is for secondary schools but it also applies to universities and colleges.
  • MA Department of Education: Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity
  • Title IX coverage includes gender identity and expression
  • U.S. Dept. of ED, Office of Civil Rights: Dear Colleague
  • UConn “Gender Transition Guidelines” provides very good information about your rights and how to access services.
  • Health Insurance coverage includes healthcare for us including hormones and GCS.
  • Housing
  • Gender Neutral Housing is available
  • Housing in preferred gender housing is also available
  • Housing Services can work with to provide the accommodations that you want
  • Under federal law you determine who sees your school records (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)).

  • Get to know the Rainbow Center
  • Preferred name – you can request that your email and other documents use your preferred name … beware, if you are not out to your parents or friends your email address will out you. (
  • You might want to talk to your professors before the semester begins if you don’t want to change your documents to your preferred name.
  • Become involved on campus – join clubs, intermural sports, student government, concerts, theater, become a RA, etc. 
  • Jobs on campus are usually binary and use legal names and SS#.
  • NCAA sports has a trans policy for allowing trans people to play on the team of their gender identity.
  • Your ID picture is used on the student roster so make sure it is your preferred gender. 
  • It is a good idea to call housing services of the university/college where you are applying so that you can find out about campus housing for trans people. They can provide you with information on privacy needs regarding the bathroom and bedroom.
I know many of us do not want to “Out” ourselves but sometimes it makes life easier for us. By working with school officials they can help make your transition easier and provide a more rewarding college experience.

Friday, January 23, 2015

School Climate

No, I do not mean environmental climate, but rather emotional climate.

As many of you know I am on a committee that is concerned with schools providing a safe climate to promote education. So when I received an email the other day about a study on the effects of school climate I was interested.
School climates, suicide and gay and lesbian students: Research on LGBT and youth education
Journalist Resources
Writer: Farah Qureshi
Last updated: January 15, 2015

A 2006 study in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology found that the degree to which adolescents feel accepted and welcomed in their schools significantly predicts overall mental health as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety. A positive school climate is defined by the U.S. Department of Education as “the extent to which a school community creates and maintains a safe school campus, a supportive academic, disciplinary and physical environment, and respectful, trusting and caring relationships throughout the school community.” Research from New York University on the impact of school climate on LGBT youth found that victimization experiences were associated with decreased self-esteem, poorer grades and higher absenteeism rates. 
I think it is common sense that when there is a positive climate students will do better and there are many more studies that show this but the question is how do we achieve a safe school climate?

That is the six-four thousand dollar questions and there is no one answer, but the best answer is “It takes a village.”

It is not the students, or the teachers, or the administration, it is all of them plus the community. The community includes the parents, the police, the religious leaders, and the town officials, everyone who make up that community. I did a report when I was an intern about the topic where I found a California Department of Education a 2002 paper, “What We’ve Learned About Safe and Effective Schools“ The report found that anti-bullying intervention had to start early, not just in the middle or high schools, but in the elementary schools. And in an Oregon study said that when elementary school teachers were trained to spot children with anti-social behaviors who were then taught how to play together. The program reduced suspensions from 175 a year to less than a dozen.

We need to have safe schools and schools are required by law to provide a learning environment.

It Is Hard…

…To apply modern concepts and labels in historic settings. There are so many people in history that we wonder if they are trans, but we can never know. Mollies and Tommies we look back at and think they were trans but we can never be certain.

There is a 2013 article in “The Other Sociologist” about “Two Spirit” people that recently caught my attention,
Rethinking Gender and Sexuality: Case Study of the Native American “Two Spirit” People
By Dr Zuleyka Zevallos
Monday, 9 September, 2013

Sociology and anthropology have long used the experiences of “third sex” cultures, such as the Native American Two Spirit people, to teach students about the social construction of sex and gender. In many cultures around the world, people are allowed to live their lives beyond conventional binaries; they need not adhere to the biological sex they were born into. These people are usually revered and there are special circumstances where individuals are allowed to shift their gender position. These groups, including the Two Spirit people, are used as examples in the sociology of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersexual (LGBTQI) issues. Recent scholarship, however, has questioned this practice, demonstrating that social scientists are applying Western concepts to misappropriate the Two Spirit phenomena.
My post today is expanded from my post on Science on Google+. The initial post was inspired by Sean Kinney. Sean is an American teacher with a keen interest on science and alternative modes of thinking. Sean posted a meme on Google+ (right) about the Two Spirit Native Americans. The meme depicts an unnamed elderly Native American person, with text advocating same-sex marriage. The text reads as if from the perspective of this Indigenous person, saying that “gay marriage” has been sanctioned in “our soil […] for hundreds of years […] Your ‘homosexual’ was our Two Spirit people… and we considered them sacred.”
Can we really say that “Two Spirit” people were trans? All we have to go by is a description of what someone interpreted from a culture that was foreign to them.

We can look at people like Dr. Alan Hart or George Sand or Albert Nobbs and label them today as transgender, but were they really trans? We can never know for sure, they might have crossdressed to survive; women in those days had a hard time living on their own. Taking on a male persona might have been the only way to make a living.

The Advocate said this about Nobbs,
The nuances of gender and sex frequently get lost in our narrow concepts and limited language. The widely accepted definition of “crossdresser” is an individual who wears garments traditionally reserved for the opposite sex as a means of personal or sexual fulfillment; they do not typically identify as the opposite sex and do not wish to transition or live out the rest of their lives as the opposite sex. On the other hand, a transgender man or “trans man,” is an individual born with female anatomy, yet has a male gender identity, and will typically take steps to transition their social identity and/or physical body to male. This may include assuming a male name, taking testosterone, or seeking surgery such as chest masculinization. In the case of Nobbs, neither of these labels and their respective definitions seems to match his motives for passing as a man.
Enter Albert Nobbs. He does not fit within our emerging concepts of transgender men or crossdressers. There is no neat and tidy box for us to place him in. He actually still identifies as a woman, yet somehow we find ourselves referring to him with masculine pronouns. He is a bit of threat too, since he is truly a woman posing as a man, and mainstream society sees transgender people as posers too, as if they went through all the pains of transition and live with all the discrimination simply to trick the rest of the world, hence all the bad jokes we see in mainstream media of transgender women with a deep voice, implying that they are men dressed as women and therefore the butt of jokes. Transgender activists have been working long and hard to educate people and break down the misconceptions that we are deceivers, and Albert can easily set us back. Still, Albert has the right to exist and identify however he wants, just like everyone else, without fear of harm or discrimination.
And that is what makes it hard for us to go back in time and put labels on someone or some concept. Also do we have a right to use terms that we don't fully understand? When we use "Two Spirit" we do not understand what it truly means to native Americans and we are applying our interpretation to the meaning.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Employment Discrimination

Saks Fifth Avenue is being sued by the EEOC for Title VII violation because the EEOC claims that they discriminated against a transgender employee.

In a blog that I read on employment legal issues, “The Connecticut Employment Law Blog,” the author talked about a Supreme Court 2013 ruling in the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar case that increased the burden for the plaintiff in a retaliation case,
Before the court’s decision, employees who claimed they were retaliated against, needed to show only that the retaliatory motive was a “substantial or motivating fact” affecting their termination.  The Supreme Court ruled in University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar heightened that standard, requiring employees to show that an employer would not have taken an adverse employment action “but for” a retaliatory motive.
Earlier I was reading in Chron about the Saks Fifth Avenue case where the plaintiff added “retaliation” to her law suit against Saks,
On July 2, 2012, Jamal asked the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for an investigation of alleged sex discrimination. She was fired 10 days later, over an allegedly inappropriate conversation with another employee, documents state.

Claiming that she engaged in no such conversation, Jamal amended her complaint to the commission to include retaliation.
So I wonder how the Supreme Court ruling will affect her case, does she have enough evidence to prove that “an employer would not have taken an adverse employment action “but for” a retaliatory motive,” I would imagine that first she has to disprove the alleged conversation.

And on Dr. Jillian T. Weiss blog “Transgender Workplace Law & Diversity” she writes that a federal court in North Carolina just ruled Title VII does cover gender identity,
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has ruled that a trans employee is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In Lewis v. High Point Regional Health System, the Court rejected the employer's argument that the lawsuit was barred by previous cases holding there is no cause of action under Title VII for discrimination based on sexual orientation. The Court recognized that sexual orientation is different from gender identity.
If you remember Saks Fifth Avenue is claiming that Title VII does not cover gender identity, so this will probably shoot holes in their defense.

What Do You Think?

I scrapped my planned blog because the non-profit that I’m a member of received an email and I want your opinion on it. I do not know if they have any trans members on their board or in leadership positions; but this is part of the email we got,
The STONEWALL Rebellion Veterans' Association ("S.V.A.") is comprised of the legendary veterans of the historic 1969 N.Y.C. Stonewall Rebellion by Gay boys and girls (not 'men' + 'women' as is sometimes wrongly reported) and their regular friends (not 'activists' as is often falsely stated) for Gay - with a capital "G" - civil rights at the now landmark Stonewall Club in Greenwich Village, New York City.  The monumental event established the modern Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgender (GLBT) community and launched the worldwide Gay rights movement, now benefiting millions of people, whether Gay or strait, in civil rights, marriage, employment, housing, hospital visitation, healthcare, insurance, apartment succession, legal, prison visits, joint tax filings, right of survivorship and many other benefits plus much more, i.e., respect!
Okay, what I have a problem with is “…legendary veterans of the historic 1969 N.Y.C. Stonewall Rebellion by Gay boys and girls…” and “…Gay - with a capital "G" - civil rights…” and “…worldwide Gay rights movement…” I feel that this marginalizes all the lesbians, bi, and trans people that took part in the uprising by lumping us under the “Gay” umbrella.

The email goes on to say,
>From the legendary Gay (observe the capital "Gay", not 'gay') people who originated the 'Gay Marriage' movement as of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion when, after the first night on June 27th, many signs read: "Gay Marriage" as well as "Gay Rights" and "Gay Power"; no alphabet GLBT soup non-sense!
As a member of the “alphabet GLBT soup” I find that offensive (also noticed that they put the guys first in LGBT, whatever happened to chivalry?).

So what do you think (and remember this was sent to a trans organization)?
Do you find the email open and affirming to all?
Or am I being overly sensitive?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ever Wonder What Cross Gender Hormones Does To Your Body?

There was an article that was posted on the WPATH Facebook page about the effects of cross gender hormones and puberty blockers. The research was limited to children and adolescents,
Research Blog – Use of Puberty Blocking Medications in the Treatment of Gender Dysphoria: A Clinical Research Review
IMPACT Program: Northwestern University
Posted on December 18th
By Laura in Featured

Puberty blocking medication is a gender affirming medical treatment available to support the healthy development of transgender adolescents. By halting puberty, puberty blocking medications have been shown to reduce gender dysphoria (e.g., discomfort with sex characteristics) and promote mental health
… As a result, gender clinics specializing in providing medical care to transgender individuals are offering cross-sex hormone therapy at younger ages (16-18 years old) [3, 4]. In addition, a number of doctors are now prescribing puberty blockers to adolescents with strong physical dysphoria that persists or emerges with the onset of puberty…
The conclusions that the study found were,
In addition to blocking the effects of puberty on primary and secondary sex characteristics, GnRH analogs also prevent other changes associated with puberty including growth spurts and increases in bone density. Adolescents continue to grow in height while on GnRH analogs, but this growth is not as fast as during puberty. With appropria te dosing and monitoring, youth who start cross-sex hormones following puberty blockers reach a final height in the range associated with their affirmed gender rather than their sex assigned at birth. Research also has shown that delays in bone density generally reverse after puberty is resumed or cross-sex hormones are administered. In addition, studies have consistently found that GnRH analogs do not impact body proportions or body mass index (e.g., weight in relation to height). Nonetheless, endocrinology treatment guidelines recommend regular testing of height (every 3 months), bone density, and bone age (every 6 months). While receiving GnRH analogs, hormone, glucose, and insulin levels are also monitored along with liver and renal function. This is to confirm that the GnRH analogs are being appropriately processed by the body and are not having any negative effects on other body systems..
While psychologically they reported that,
In an additional follow up study, 55 of these 70 adolescents were re-assessed in early adulthood, an average of 6 years after this initial start of puberty blockers, 4 years after starting cross-sex hormones, and 1.5 years since gender affirmation surgery (vaginoplasty or mastectomy and hysterectomy) [25]. Based on results from standardized measures, the authors concluded that this process of medical gender transition is successful at both eliminating gender dysphoria and reducing emotional distress. The authors also noted that no participants experienced regrets about transitioning, few reported experiences of victimization (11%), many regarded their social transition as “easy” (71%), and all reported being fairly to very satisfied with outcomes.
I think that this is an important report because it show that medically the results of puberty blockers are fully reversible and has no long term medical side effects, and also psychologically help the patients.


Have you ever thought that the word “transgender” would be said in a State of the Union address?

In last night’s speech the President said,
That's why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they're right, but because they make us safer.

We use lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender all the time and for us it is common to hear those words but twenty years ago those words were never spoken. They were just faces hidden behind newspapers, they were words that were only uttered in dark shady bars or with shame.

But now they were said on the floor of Congress by the President of the United States. They were said in a context of human rights and hope; they were not said in destructive way, but rather in a way to respect human dignity.

Words have power.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It Is Time To Change The Birth Certificate Laws!

For the states to change the way they change the gender marker on Birth Certificates…
Israel recognizes sex changes without operation
It will now be possible to change the gender designation on one's identity card without having sex reassignment surgery.
By Revital Hovel Jan. 18, 2015

The State Prosecution announced last week that it will now be possible to change the gender designation on one’s identity card without actually having a sex-change operation.

The response was given to a petition filed with the High Court of Justice by two transgender women against the Interior Ministry’s demand that they undergo sex-change surgery as a condition for altering the gender on their identity cards from male to female. Both were allowed to change their names on their identity cards, but not their gender designation.
Under the new procedure, the existing Health Ministry committee that approves sex-change operations will set the criteria for determining a non-surgical sex change and examine the changes an applicant has undergone without the surgery. Certification by the sex-change committee will be sufficient for changing one’s designation in the population registry.
The article goes on to point out that,
The petition compared the legal situation in Israel to that of other countries. In countries such as Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Finland, Switzerland (in the province of Zurich only), Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, and several U.S. states, one can change a gender designation on the basis of a declaration by a doctor or social worker that the applicant indeed identifies as the opposite sex.
U.S. states that do not require a surgical procedure include Alaska, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and the District of Columbia. In June 2010, the U.S. State Department announced that surgery would no longer be required to change the gender on one’s passport, and that a physician’s declaration would suffice.
It’s time Connecticut and the other states modernize their vital records laws.

Last Night’s Meeting – Saturday’s Workshop

Last night there was a meeting on housing discrimination against trans people where we discussed why to educate landlords and the trans community about the law. One of the things we discussed was how trans people might be afraid to complain because of the fear reprisals and the ways we can protect their anonymity.

At the meeting were the directors of housing and the Rainbow Center at the University of Connecticut which was serendipity because on Saturday I am doing a workshop on transitioning in college. So I am calling them later today to talk to them about what the options are for housing on campus and any tips they have about transitioning.

One of the things I found while researching the topic is that UConn has a very good document on transitioning on campus, “Gender Transition Guidelines.” One of the things I discovered in the guidelines was,
Persons undergoing a transition may choose to utilize a transition team. The primary role of a transition team, as assembled in close consultation with the transitioning individual, is to assist in developing a transition plan and to provide support and guidance to the transitioning individual through the process.
Once assembled, the transition team, with specific input from the transitioning individual, can help to create a transition plan that addresses the steps involved in the individual’s gender transition and the timing of the changes that will occur, to the extent that such changes are relevant to the individual’s workplace or learning environment. The plan will be tailored to the individual and his/her own plan for the gender transition will be taken into account. A gender transition plan can address many issues, including, but not limited to, the following…
How cool is that! They will help you transition at college with counselors and staff to help you get through the paperwork.

When I was talking to the housing director it turned out that we met before, I gave a workshop for the Counseling and Mental Health Services employees a couple of years ago, she was in the audience and out of that workshop came the idea of the guidelines and the transition team.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Is There A Doctor In The House?

I am torn between two thoughts when I read this article about Dr. Levine. The first thought how great it is to have a trans women as a physician general for a state,
Tom Wolf Names Transgender Woman Physician General
By Josh Middleton
January 18, 2015

On Saturday, Governor-Elect Tom Wolf released the names of four more members of his cabinet, one of which is a transgender woman, Dr. Rachel Levine, who will serve as his physician general.

Dr. Levine, a resident of Middletown, Pennsylvania, is currently a professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where she also serves as chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders, a program she created on her own. She has also worked actively with the school’s Office of Diversity, mentoring LGBT students, faculty and staff, and she sits on the board of Equality PA.
My second thought why did they have to mention that she is trans? If she was black, would the headline read “Tom Wolf Names Black Woman Physician General” then why did they mention she is trans?

This Evening I Am Going To Dinner…

Tonight there is a LGBT community discussion on housing discrimination. Even through there are laws in Connecticut and HUD prohibiting discrimination in housing we are still being discriminated against. So tonight the CT Fair Housing Center is hosting a dinner to talk about it…


CT Fair Housing works to protect and ensure the housing rights of all CT residents and would like to hear, particularly from the Transgender community, what type of hurdles or problems community members are facing when they look for housing. We will also share with you our services , the projects we are working on and how you can help in the fight for equal housing rights!

Help us understand some of the key issues the community faces and learn about how we can help you if you face housing discrimination!
Your Voice Matters!

Monday, January 19th (MLK Day) @ 5:00pm-7:30pm
Dinner will be provided!

True Colors
30 Arbor Street, Hartford, CT
Ground Floor Classroom

Please RSVP and contact for further info:
Cesar Aleman:
(860) 263-0728

# # # # #

Since today is Rev. Martin Luther King Day I am reposting a blog on him from 2011…
“The Promised Land?”

When Martin Luther King said “I have seen the promised land”, it was Simsbury CT... WHAT!
When Martin Luther King said “I have seen the promised land” he might have been talking of Simsbury CT. When he was a Morehouse College student, he worked two summers in Simsbury at a tobacco farm and in a letter home he wrote, "Yesterday, we didn't work, so went to Hartford," King wrote. "We really had a nice time there. I never thought that a person my race could eat anywhere, but we ate in one of the finest restaurants in Hartford." (Hartford Courant)

Students at Simsbury High created this video… Summers of Freedom: Martin Luther King Jr. in Connecticut

Summers of Freedom: the Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Connecticut from Simsbury History Scholars on Vimeo

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why I Hate Republicans…

Every negative legislation against LGBT comes from Republicans and their latest bill puts a bounty on our heads…
Bill: Catch Trans Student in Wrong Bathroom, Win $2,500The Kentucky measure's sponsor says he supports 'strong anti-bullying laws,' has a gay friend.USA Today
By Steven Nelson
Jan. 16, 2015

Kentucky students using sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms could win $2,500 if they catch a member of the excluded biological sex there, under proposed legislation.

The bill intends to crack down on school employees who allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite biological sex.

But, as written, the bill authorizes lawsuits not only if school personnel approved of such facility use, but also if they “[f]ailed to take reasonable steps to prohibit the person encountered from using facilities designated for use by the opposite biological sex.”
Republican state Sen. C.B. Embry who wrote the bill went on to say,
“I am very much in favor of strong anti-bullying laws that protect students no matter what the reason for bullying may be: fat or short, don't speak plain, sexual orientation, whatever,” he says. In 2012, he opposed a bill that would have required schools to ban bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity, describing existing laws as sufficient.
It is amazing how they can say they are against bullying but then try to pass a law that sanctions bullying.

It is just like the Republican that introduced the bill to prevent us from having insurance, there is no debate over if it is elective surgery or medically necessary. The legislature already voted to ban discrimination and they didn’t add any exception for insurance.

Connecticut used to be a state of moderate Republicans but as out of state money pours in it has become radicalized. In 2007 when the gender inclusive anti-discrimination bill was voted on in the Senate the vote was 30 - 4, but in 2011 the vote was right down party lines, 20 - 16 with not one Republican voting for the bill.

All these mean-spirited legislation all are to legalize bigotry and discrimination against LGBT people.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart (1939)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it hear.

1) This song is about love at first sight. Do you believe that immediate attraction lasts?
Kind of… it starts the spark but it takes more than a spark to keep the fire going.

2) The lyrics mention "a breath of spring" and robins singing. Now that we're deep into winter, what do you miss about spring? 
Not having to get all bundled up to go to the mailbox.

3) Though the world knew her as Judy Garland, this week's featured artist was born Frances Gumm and her family called her "Baby." Does your family have any pet names for you?
No not really, sometimes my brother calls me “D”

4) Because she was petite -- just 4'11 -- it was obvious when Garland gained even a few pounds and consequently she battled her weight her whole life. Now that we're in the New Year, have you made any resolutions about your own diet?
No resolutions but I am trying to lose weight.

5) The year this song came out, 1939, was the year Garland's most famous movie, The Wizard of Oz, was released. Which of her three traveling companions is your favorite: Scarecrow, Tin Man or Cowardly Lion?
None of them after seeing the play Wicked, my vote goes to the “Wicked Witch of the West,” Elphaba.

6) Barry Manilow enjoyed Judy's performance of this song so much he did a "dream duet" with her and included it in his recent CD. What performer who is no longer with us do you wish you could have seen in concert?
Janis Joplin

7) Judy had a terrible problem with tardiness. Are you usually prompt?
Nope, our whole family runs about a fifteen minutes late.

8) During World War II, Judy worked tirelessly to entertain the troops. Tell us about a cause that's near and dear to your heart. 
Human Rights, last week I worked with another agency to help find a safe homeless shelter for a woman who was beaten up in another shelter. I can never understand why people hate one another, life is too short to waste it hating.

 9) The American Film Institute lists Garland as the 8th greatest movie star of all time. Who is your all time favorite actor or actress?
Oh how I hate questions like that, there are so many great actresses and actors that it impossible to pick out only one. So because you want me to pick just one, I’ll pick Meryl Streep. I liked her performance in “Hope Springs” 

Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 Year Of The Transgender

Okay what did you think about when you read the title?

What if I told you it was from a religious news website, would that change what you were thinking?

On the website Religious News Service the blog by Jana Riess was about the Golden Globe awards, and the teen who committed suicide.
Good-bye, NBC and ABC. Hello, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.

But hello also to transgender persons, who are demanding to emerge from the shadows.

Transgender identity came to national attention two weeks ago with the suicide of Leelah Alcorn (born Josh Alcorn), who threw herself in front of a semi about twenty minutes from where I live in Cincinnati. The tragedy has been front-page news around here.
She goes on to say,
But if some good can come from this tragedy, and from shows like Transparent, it’s that we can bring the reality of transgender identity to people’s minds so that maybe next time, parents and others will think twice before automatically rejecting what trans people are trying to say.
Unfortunately, it took a tragic death to start the discussion. It is also time for us to realize that not all religions or religious people condemn us and as she points out,
Let’s face it. Gender fluidity is a difficult concept to understand. During pregnancy (or at least after birth), the very first question to be resolved is the gender of the baby. Gender is a person’s primary identity from that point on throughout life. The whole notion of “trans” inhabits a liminal space that sociologists tell us can feel most dangerous. Anything the falls between established categories is disorienting; we harbor a primal fear of the undifferentiated. 
She concludes with,
I hope that 2015 is the year that we talk about this, however uncomfortable that is. Some people are already doing so, like with Lily Burana’s “Letter to My Possible Son” here at RNS. “The First Commandment of child rearing is to parent the child you have, not the child you wish you had,” she says. 
I have done a number of outreaches for churches in the area. We need to start a discussion between us and the religious community. We can’t just brand all religions the same, yes there are some that will never change or if they do it will take 400 years to admit their mistake, but there are others that are struggling to understand and those are the ones we should reach out our hand to.

Pronouns And Names...

There was an article on a Fox news (local which is way different from the national Fax network) about things to say and not to ask trans people. The one that I liked was,
The pronoun conundrum — what is appropriate?
Most transgender people want to be referred to by the pronoun of the gender with which they identify. “This is the shortest, simplest way to say, ‘I see you, I acknowledge you,'” Key said.

If you don’t always get it right, don’t freak out. Don’t make big deal of it, Kailey writes on “Tranifesto.”

When Ryan Casseta, a transgender 21-year-old, told his mother years ago that he felt like a boy rather than a girl, she immediately showed him love and acceptance. But it took practice for Fran Cassata to call him the new name — Ryan — that he wanted.

She laughs, recalling the experience. “I kept using ‘she’ and then I finally said to him, ‘Well, you try to call me by a different name. Don’t call me mom anymore. You can call me, ‘Your Highness.'”

Mother and son navigated a very difficult experience with humor, a method she encourages.
You know for family members it can be really hard to use your new name or pronoun because for all those years they knew only the shell you showed the world, they never knew the turmoil you were going through on the inside.

Even after seven years my brother and sister-in-law still slip, especially when they are tried or had a couple of drinks but I understand that sometimes it is hard.

I remember a trans man telling me one time; now here his is, male pattern baldness, a beard, and a deep voice, how his mother slips pronouns or calls him "her daughter." He said that the other day at a restaurant his mother called him “my daughter” to the waitress and he was sitting behind her made a circular motion by his ear and mouthed “getting old” to the waitress.

One of the reasons when I do outreach that I don’t like to tell my old name when someone asks me, since it is really just out of curiosity that they asked the question, is that it kind of locks in my male name to them, they subconsciously start using it.

I think we have to have humor to deal with transitioning otherwise we will end up with a chip on our shoulder and taking offense when someone is trying to use the right name or pronoun. It is a very different thing between trying to do the right thing and slipping up from when someone purposely says “Sir” and grins just to give that little dig.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Really Bad Bill

I always have to be vigilant about what bills are being proposed because the opposition is always trying to chip away on our successes. In December of 2013 the insurance commissioner issues a bulletin that said we were covered for all medically necessary healthcare procedures.

There was a bill that was just introduced in the Connecticut legislature that wants to overturn the commissioner’s decision,
Proposed Bill No. 5193
January Session, 2015
REP. SAMPSON, 80th Dist.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
That title 38a of the general statutes be amended to specify that health insurance policies delivered, issued for delivery, renewed, amended or continued in this state shall not be required to provide coverage for gender reassignment surgery or related surgical expenses.

Statement of Purpose:
To specify that health insurance policies delivered, issued for delivery, renewed, amended or continued in this state shall not be required to provide coverage for gender reassignment surgery or related surgical expenses.
This bill is so broadly written that if there were complications due to Gender Confirming Surgery it would not be covered. Suppose there was life threatening internal bleeding because of GCS the way this bill is written it could be argued that stopping the bleeding could be a “related surgical expenses.”

This bill is just mean-spirited and punitive. There is no reason why this bill is needed. The cost of GCS for the residents of Connecticut is negligible; studies have shown that the cost is less than a penny a day.

All the major medical organizations support insurance coverage for us; including the AMA, the APA, the WPATH, the Endocrine Society, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have found that the GCS is medically necessary and the IRS tax court ruled that GCS is necessary and the cost can be deducted for tax purposes.

The commissioner’s decision was not arbitrary but based on research and was also mandated by PA 11-55 the laws that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity or expression, in the bulletin the commissioner states,
Public Act 11-55- The Connecticut legislature effective October 1, 2011 amended state antidiscrimination laws to specifically prohibit discrimination based on "gender identity or expression". The Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in employment, public accommodations, housing, credit, public schools, state contracts and numerous other areas. The Department finds the legislative intent to prohibit discriminatory practices based on gender identity and expression to extend to health insurance practices. Accordingly, medically necessary services related to gender dysphoria should not be handled differently from medically necessary services for other medical and behavioral health conditions.
So the inclusion of GCS wasn’t someting that the commissioner pulled out of a hat, it is based on a law by the state legislature when it passed the anti-discrimination law in 2011.

A Trans Success Story

I know a number of trans people who are successful in business some own their own business some work for large corporations, some are professionals while some are blue collar. The Advocate has an article about one success story,
WATCH: MSNBC Tells a Trans Businesswoman of Color's Success Story
After covering the tragic story of a transgender teen, Melissa Harris-Perry spotlights Angelica Ross as an example of success.
BY Dawn Ennis
January 7, 2015

Angelica Ross found herself fired from job after job after transitioning and was told her only choice as a woman of color was to become a showgirl or a sex worker. She didn’t agree, and she resigned from her job last June to start her own company. Now she is CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, a creative design firm with an apprenticeship program that empowers trans people with technological skills. “I believe in the vision that I’ve had for so long,” Ross says in the MSNBC report. Watch below.
I admit that finding employment is not easy in today’s job market, even highly skilled people have a hard time finding a job and being trans makes it harder and if you are a minority as well as trans it can be nearly impossible. Many times we are not employed at the level that we are qualified.

I have bumped in to trans people in all walks of life. At the supermarket I think there is a trans girl who is a clerk there, I ran in to a friend at a large box construction supply store, I know a number of trans people who are in government employees, federal, state and local agencies. Some are project engineers, or own their own engineering company, and some are professors. Another is a pastor of a church.

I also know some who can’t get their foot in the door and are worrying as they see their life savings dwindle and are hoping that it last until they find a job.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Holding Hands

I found an article on Bilerico about LGBT couples holding hands. What caught my attention was one line in the TEDxDublin video where she said some like, all it takes is one comment to turn a lovely afternoon from a moment to remember to a moment you want to forget.

But the comments that people make toward trans-people. What popped into my head you I heard her say that was back to a COS banquet when I was walking to the banquet through the hotel lobby; one man muttered “Freak” as I walked by, I went from walking on “Cloud Nine” to the deeps of self-loathing with that one words.

The other video that Bilerico had in the article was about a radio DJ who tried an experiment by walking around holding another man’s hand and the looks and comments they received. I have a friend whose husband transitioned and she had to adjust to all the stares that they received when they held hands or she rested her head on her shoulder.

Some say that this microagression doesn’t bother that they just shrug it off, but I don’t believe them. I believe that all these little digs gets to everyone over time, it is like a dripping faucet, it is not the one drip that gets to you but the repeated drip, drip, drip… that wears you down.

People are cruel to those who are different from themselves whether they are have a congenital disability or are too tall or too short or too fat or their sexual orientation or gender expression. It is those who can’t integrate in to society because they visibly stand out are the ones who are harassed, who are excluded from the tribe, who are shunned.

What Are Your Rights?

Courts have over and over again affirmed the basic human rights of prisoners for receive medically necessary treatment but correctional institutions continue to ignore their legal responsibility.
Should transgender inmate have been denied vaginal stent, vibrator?
Indy Star
By Kristine Guerra
January 13, 2015

Christa Allen wasn't your typical inmate.

Back in 2002 — four years before she was sentenced to time in the Rockville Correctional Facility — Allen had undergone a male-to-female gender-reassignment surgery.

Shortly after she entered Rockville, Allen explained her medical situation to prison officials and doctors. Specifically, she informed them that the doctor who had performed the surgery had prescribed her a female hormone as well as a vaginal stent.

The stent was medically necessary, she said, to prevent closure and loss of tissue. Not using the stent, she told them, could result in medical complications that could require a second, costly surgery.
But prison officials and her prison medical doctors decided it was not medically necessary. The Indiana Department of Correction's medical director told her in a letter that although not using the stent could result in some complications, its use was not necessary to provide the basic and necessary health care given to prisoners.
She filed suit and the lower court dismissed the suit but an appeals court reversed the dismissal saying,
… In November, the Indiana Court of Appeals sided with her, saying there was no clear reason for preventing her from using the stent or the vibrator. More broadly, the appellate judges ruled that the standard of care for doctors should not be different regardless of where they're practicing.
I think of it as the “ick factor” for some reason correctional officials have no problem with cancer treatments and other medically necessary procedures but when it comes to providing medical care for us they raise their hands and back away.

This is not to say that if someone breaks a window and goes to prison for 30 days that they are automatically entitled to have Gender Confirming Surgery (GCS), but if they are incarcerated for a long time that they should have all medically necessary healthcare. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Do you all know what that means?

It is the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which how much companies support LGGT issues. Saks had a score a pretty respectable 90 out of a possible 100 points, but as we all know there is written policies and then there is the actual enforcement of those policies.

A few months ago the EEOC brought discrimination charges against Saks for Title VII violations against a trans employee and Saks answer floored the business community on two counts. The first was the fact that they said yes we do have a non-discrimination policy for gender identity and expression but we don’t have to follow it. According to Law360,
Jamal [the plaintiff] had also included a breach-of-contract claim in her suit, based on a non-discrimination policy included in Saks’ employee handbook. However, the retailer rejected that argument, saying that the claim should be tossed because an employee handbook is not a contract.
So what they are saying is that even though we prohibit discrimination against transgender employees, we don’t have to follow our policy.

The second issue was that the EEOC interpretation of Title VII was flawed because gender identity and expression is not protected by Title VII.
In the motion to dismiss, Saks cited a handful of cases in which a court found that trans identity was not protected by Title VII. Among those is 2007 Tenth Circuit decision in Etstitty v. Utah Transit Auth. In that case the appeals court ruled that Title VII only protects people from discrimination based on sex, and that “discrimination against a transsexual because she is a transsexual is not discrimination because of sex.”
According to Time this case could have important ramifications because,
Still, the Saks’ case could go either way. Courts have ruled in conflicting ways on the issue, and despite Americans’ common belief that there is a federal law barring discrimination against LGBT people, no such statute exists. While 18 states have non-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation and gender identity (and three more cover just sexual orientation), Texas is not one of them. Consider same-sex marriage as a comparison: just because courts have been ruling in favor of allowing same-sex marriage, that doesn’t mean couples can get married in states where rulings on the issue are still pending.

“It is still not a settled question of law for the entire country and it won’t be settled until the Supreme Court addresses the issue,” says Minter. “There’s no way to secure certain and stable protections that can’t be undone except by states and the federal government enacting legislation.” In late 2014, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley announced that he would be proposing a comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination bill in the spring, though its chances are slim in the Republican-controlled House or Senate.
So this case could unravel all the protection that we have through court cases if this case goes to the Supreme Court.

Now back to the HRC, what does this say about their CEI how good of an index is it? And it is not just Saks, I have heard complaints from other trans people about how they face discrimination from companies that also have high CEI ratings. The Advocate wrote,
However, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice both say that Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination extends to discrimination based on gender identity, HRC officials point out. Also, Saks touted its nondiscrimination policies in its response to the Corporate Equality Index questionnaire. Its most recent score in the index was 90 out of a possible 100.

“Saks’ arguments are hugely concerning to us,” Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s workplace equality program, said in the press release. “In its court filings, Saks attempts to secure a motion to dismiss Ms. Jamal’s allegations by simultaneously calling into question the validity of its own nondiscrimination policy and the larger, crucial protections afforded by Title VII. The policies our CEI advances are not window dressings for any company to prop up or disregard in the face of individual allegations of misconduct. Saks is publicly undercutting the applicability of its own policies reported in the CEI and we must suspend Saks’ CEI score until further notice.” HRC has contacted Saks and asked it to clarify matters and amend its legal filings.
So maybe the HRC instead of asking companies to rate themselves, the HRC should ask the employees to rate the company. Because what is important is how the companies treat there employees, companies can have the best polices on paper but if they do not feel that they have to follow their own polices or they do not enforce their policies what good are they?

Help! Any Ideas?

I am giving a workshop at a conference on transitioning in college in a couple of weeks so I am doing research on the topic.

As many of you know when I transitioned I was going for my master’s in social work at the University of Connecticut. I attended classes, as a non-matriculating student for a couple of semester before I actually transitioned. When I did apply to matriculation I had transitioned and legally changed my name, but my undergraduate records where all still in my male name.

While I was researching the workshop I came across this document at UConn, “University of Connecticut Gender Transition Guidelines” some of the material the document covers are Restroom Access, Concerns of co-workers and peers, Pronoun and Name Changes, and Rights to Privacy. They also discuss how to change, your name, your IDs, email account, and your student documents. UConn also has gender neutral housing and insurance coverage for trans people which includes hormones and Gender Confirming Surgery.

What I found interesting is the section on your name on your diploma,
Even without a legal name change, students are permitted to change the name listed on their diploma through the Student Administration System at: ________________. Please note that changing the name on an individual’s diploma, without more, will not change the name associated with all other official University records.
I wonder how many other colleges have a document like this?

I am developing a handout for the workshop; I’m going to list tip to help with transition. Do any of you have any tips about transitioning in college that I could pass along?