Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stop! In the Name of Love

Saturday 9: Stop! In the Name of Love (1965)

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

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

1) When this song was popular, the Supremes were known for their long gloves and full-length gowns. When was the last time you got dressed up?
Last November for a fundraiser for a health clinic where I volunteer.

2) With a record 12 #1 hits, the Supremes remain America's best-selling vocal group. This must have been hard for Betty McGlown, the fourth Supreme, who left the group before they recorded their first song. Can you think of an opportunity you missed?
Yes, back in college, I had a chance to party with Peter Gabriel. Long story, short… it was Genesis was first starting out and after the concert they invited everyone to come and party with them but I had a test the next day so I had to study for it.

3) When "the girls" (Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Flo Ballard) first started hanging around Motown, founder Berry Gordy was reluctant to let them record. After all, they were still in high school. They refused to give up and eventually convinced him to let them add hand claps and finally back up vocals to recordings by other Motown artists. Tell us about a time when your persistence paid off.
Graduating from grad school.

4) 50 years after its release, "Stop! In the Name of Love" is one of the most popular karaoke songs. Do you know the lyrics?
Kind of…

5) There's a children's playground named in Diana Ross' honor within New York's Central Park. It includes swings, slides, rope bridges and a fountain. When you played in the park, what did you run to first?
Are you kidding? That was over sixty years ago!

6) Diana stumbled in her high heels and broke her ankle as she left the stage after a November 2012 concert. What do you have on your feet right now?

7) Ever the trooper, she honored her commitment to perform at a White House-sponsored Christmas concert just weeks later, even though her leg was still in a cast. Tell us about a time when you "played hurt."
I don’t understand the question. Do you mean that when I was sick I still attended an appointment? I do that occasionally for an important meeting.

8) Young Diana Ross was a good student and a tough competitor who made her school's swim team. Are you a good swimmer?
Nope, I can stay afloat but that’s about all. I tire too easily.

9) Diana's older sister, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, was the first African American woman to be appointed dean of an American medical school. Decades ago, Barbara juggled post-graduate studies and raising small children. Are you good at multi-tasking?
No not really, I lose track of one task or another.

Friday, February 27, 2015

My Ride With Fame

They said everyone has a moment of fame. I was down in Washington DC for an Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) lobby day I think was in 2007 and I shared a taxi with a trans woman to a reception at the National Press Club.
When my friend John became Jennifer
New York Post
By Andrea Peyser
February 22, 2015

I picked up the phone and heard a vaguely familiar voice on the line.

“It’s Jennifer,” said the caller.

“Jennifer who?” I asked.

Pause. The high-pitched voice dropped several octaves. “You used to know me as John.”
To say I was thunderstruck is to underestimate the power of nature. For I remembered my old friend John Leitham as a smart, talented and handsome, if somewhat effeminate, musician who was decidedly male and presumably straight. John played the upright bass left-handed with the jazz singer Mel Torme and with ex-“Tonight Show” trumpeter Doc Severinsen, among others, and married and divorced a woman.
We made small talk on the way over to the press club and then we parted our ways and I didn’t see her again until after the lobbying day and we were all at the hotel having breakfast. Mara Keisling was debriefing us on how the lobby day went for us, what we liked about it, what we didn’t, how our visit to our legislators went, etc. and Jennifer mentioned that she was invited by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to the Democratic breakfast. She then said something that clicked in the back of my mind, after breakfast I went up to my room and Googled her. So that was my brush with fame.
Jennifer is now 61, lives in Pasadena, Calif., with two rescued cats, and still performs and records jazz. She underwent sex-reassignment surgery in 2001 at age 48 and received hormone treatments but not breast augmentation. This was hard for me to accept because I believed in the old adage: “God doesn’t make mistakes.”

Trans Actresses/Actors

Those who read my blog regularly will know that I am a firm supporter of trans people play parts of trans people, that at the very least we should be asked to audition for the parts.
Is 'Transface' a Problem in Hollywood?
Hilary Swank, Andrea James, Natasha Lyonne, Armistead Maupin, and more weigh in on casting discrimination in the entertainment industry.
By Daniel Reynolds
February 25, 2015

On the eve of his Oscar win for portraying a transgender woman in 2013's Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto found himself the target of criticism from an audience member at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

"Transmisogyny does not deserve an award," shouted an unidentified woman from the audience to the actor onstage. When asked for clarification, she responded: "You don't deserve an award for portraying a trans woman, because you're a man."

The accusation is rooted in what some in the LGBT community refer to as "transface" — a term that conjures the culturally taboo practice of "blackface" — in which a cisgender actor will "take" a role from a transgender actor.

The assumption tied to transface is that Hollywood is a discriminatory industry, which would rather cast a cisgender (nontrans) movie star who can be transformed to look like a transgender person through diet and cosmetics, than consider a minority actor with an authentic life experience for that role.
I’m not saying that non-trans actresses/actors cannot give a great performance but we need the chance to audition,
"Everyone should have an opportunity to audition and have the chance to act and to be a part of a film," Swank [Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry] concluded. "But in the end, I don't think they should get it because they actually live that day in and day out."
But as it stands now we do not even have our foot in the door. Those directors that see the value of having a trans person play the part of a trans person realize that trans actors can add more depth to the part. In the movie Boy Meets Girl the director understood that Michelle Hendley who played Ricky in the movie had a lot personal insight to offer him.

Boy Meets Girl will be released on Netflix this spring.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Truth About Bathrooms

How many times have you heard the conservatives make the claim that if trans people are allowed to use the bathroom of our gender identity that it would be an open invitation for rapists. How many times have you seen news media label non-discrimination bills as “bathroom bills?”

There is an article in Media Matters that discredit those lies,
15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth
Experts in 12 states -- including law enforcement officials, government employees, and advocates for victims of sexual assault -- have debunked the right-wing myth that sexual predators will exploit transgender non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms, calling the myth baseless and "beyond specious."
March 20, 2014
By Luke Brinker & Carlos Maza

Media Outlets Have Promoted "Urban Myth" About Restroom Sexual Assault In Trans-Inclusive Jurisdictions. According to Gay Star News' Jane Fae, transphobic bathroom myths have been promoted by news outlets that fail to fact-check unsubstantiated stories about alleged sexual assaults:
Fox News Has Promoted Harassment Fears About Transgender Access To Restrooms. Fox News has repeatedly invoked fears of sexual assault and misbehavior in restrooms to attack equal access to public accommodations for transgender people, including a fake story about a transgender student harassing females in her school's restroom. [Equality Matters, 6/5/13, 2/27/13, 8/14/13, 10/15/13]

Conservative Media Outlets Have Promoted Bogus Bathroom Stories. Numerous conservative media outlets, including The Daily Caller, WND, and the Media Research Center, have similarly promoted the myth that sexual predators will exploit trans-inclusive restrooms to prey upon women. [Equality Matters, 8/19/13, 8/22/13, 2/3/14]
The article goes on to list state by state letters from state agencies saying that there been no one arrested for using the non-discrimination laws as a pretext to rape, Connecticut’s CHRO reported that,
State Commission On Human Rights: "Unaware Of Any Sexual Assault." In an email to Media Matters, Jim O'Neill, legislative liaison and spokesman for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights in Opportunities, reported no problems as a result of the state's non-discrimination law:
I am unaware of any sexual assault as the result of the CT gender identity or expression law.  I'm pretty sure it would have come to our attention. [Email exchange, 3/6/14]
When we were trying to pass Connecticut non-discrimination law we had access to many of those letter which we used to counter the conservative claims that the law would give rapists a green light to women’s bathrooms.

The right wing knows that there never has been a sexual assault because of the non-discrimiantion laws but they still go ahead and use bathrooms to create fear.


…Or how a family member that comes out can move mountains.

I think we all realize that when a family member transition that most of the time love wins out, that it because personal and not some abstract concept.
GOP Congresswoman: Don't Reject Your Transgender Children
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose son Rodrigo is transgender, tells other parents not to 'freak out.'
U.S. News
By Nikki Schwab
Nov. 18, 2014*

The only member of Congress with a transgender child is a Republican.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican – the first Cuban-American to be elected to Congress and the first GOP House member to support gay marriage – discussed her other first, that of having a transgendered son, on local television in Miami.

“As parents, we wanted Rodrigo to understand that we’re totally fine with it,” the congresswoman said in the interview. “He’s our son, we’re proud of him.”
I wonder what her position would have been on marriage and other LGBT issues if her son wasn’t trans?

*I just noticed that the date is from last year but it just showed up on a Google News search for current transgender news.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Only In Texas… Well Maybe In Other States Too

There is another bill about bathrooms being proposed in Texas by a Republican and this one is a dozy.
Bill Tackles Tricky Topic of Transexual Texans and Public Toilets
February 24, 2015

A bill filed in the Texas legislature by State Representative Debbie Riddle (R-Spring) would make it a state jail felony for business owners to allow transgender people from using a restroom designated for a sex that is different from the one they were born.

"A male is an individual with at least one X chromosome and at least one Y chromosome, and a female is an individual with at least one X chromosome and no Y chromosomes," the bill reads.  "If an individual's gender established at the individual’s birth is not the same and the individual's gender established by the individual's chromosomes, the individual’s gender established by the individual's chromosomes controls under this section."
Here we go, the bathroom police will have to give you a chromosome tests in order to go to the bathroom. Notice we only get slapped with a fine but the owners get locked up! I bet this bill will go over like a lead balloon with business owners.

A local LGBT activist said,
"I have no idea how she envisions this being enforced, and that's before you get to the constitutional issues," he tells News Radio 1200 WOAI. "It's very poorly considered."
I guess we all will have to have a blood test before we can go to the bathroom.
Those crazy Republicans, what will they think up next?

Will There Be Trans Servicemembers Shortly?

There is an article in Politico about the President being in favor of allowing trans servicemembers.
White House open to lifting transgender ban
By Kendall Breitman

President Barack Obama is open to allowing transgender Americans to serve in the military, the White House said Monday.

“I can tell you that the president agrees with the sentiment that all Americans who are qualified to serve should be able to serve and for that reason, we here at the White House welcome the comments of the secretary of defense,” press secretary Josh Earnest said during Monday’s press briefing.
On Monday, the State Department announced the first-ever special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons, Randy Berry, to “defend” and “promote” LGBT issues worldwide. Berry, who is openly gay, has served in the past as consul general in Amsterdam and before that worked at consulates in Nepal, New Zealand, Uganda, Bangladesh, Egypt and South Africa.
The time has come to lift the ban. The President doesn’t need Congress because unlike Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) it is not a law and the ban can be lifted with a stroke of the Presidential pen. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Am At A Hearing This Afternoon.

There is a hearing on the bill to do away with insurance coverage for Gender Confirming Surgery (GCS). The bill is HB 5193, An Act Concerning Health Insurance Coverage for Gender Reassignment Surgery that was introduced by Rep. Rob Sampson (R 80th).

The bill reads,
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.
I will try to update this post from the LOB as the hearing proceeds.

Update 3:15
Sen Beth Bye and the CHRO spoke against the bill and was crossed examined by Rep Sampson. They are taking testimony for other bills.

Update 2/25/14 8:30AM
There was no one who spoke in favor of the bill and there were five people speaking against the bill including a psychologist, a lawyer, a therapist and a nurse

The quote of the hearing was "we all know that being an adolescent sucks"

There was also an article in the CT Post about the hearing,
Advocates: Gender-reassignment surgery should be covered
Bill Cummings
February 24, 2015

State Rep. Robert Sampson, R-Wolcott and sponsor of the bill, said his intention is to correct a "mandate" by the State Insurance Department directing insurance companies to cover the procedure.

Sampson said such decisions should be vetted by the Legislature.

"Are we certain moving ahead with medical coverage for a procedure that is not widely supported in the medical community is the wisest choice?" Sampson asked the committee.

"Many respected medical professionals claim this procedure is barbaric and that the established treatment is not surgery but rather counseling and mental health treatment," he said.

State Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, said the insurance department issued a bulletin saying gender-reassignment surgery is recognized by the medical community and should be covered by insurance.

"I have a friend who underwent this surgery and her life changed dramatically. She can now be the person she is inside," said Bye, who in 2008, along with her wife, became the first gay married couple in the state.

"What would it be like if I really felt like a man and walked around in the body of a female?" Bye said. "It would be very hard. Let's let the medical professionals make the determination."
Update 2/25/14 10:30PM
The testimony for the hearing can be found here.

Too Young?

My first thoughts were that he was saying that she is too young to transition, but what the article is about is that he thinks that she is too year for her transition to be made public and that is the topic of an op-ed article in the San Jose Mercury News.
Herhold: Second thoughts about Mike Honda's tweet about his transgender grandchild.
By Scott Herhold
POSTED:   02/21/2015

When U.S. Rep Mike Honda announced last Wednesday that his 8-year-old grandchild, Malisa, was a transgender youth, he got immediate plaudits on Twitter. "You are a fantastic grandpa," said one correspondent. "If only everyone was as open-minded as you," wrote another.

Let's stipulate that Honda did not send out his tweet with political motives in mind. I believe he is exactly what he says he is -- a proud grandpa who hopes that Malisa can feel safe at school without fear of being bullied.

But there is still something about this whole incident that gives me pause, that makes me think this moment is directed more at adults than at kids. I think my reservations might come down to three words: 8 years old. Not 12. Not 13. Eight.
It's also fair to note that Honda sent out his tweet only after running it past Malisa. You still have to wonder, however, whether an 8-year-old fully understands the dimensions of the publicity.
I tend to agree, I think minor children should not be “Outed” the way the news and social medias are today, nothing ever goes away. She will have the tag “transgender” for the rest of her life.

The article questions what would happen if she decides that she in not trans. It does happen, there is a small percentage that do detransitions, with all the publicity make it harder on her if she does feel that it is not right for her. Will all the publicity make it harder in her life to get a job or find a mate?

What are your thoughts?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Is There New Hope For Trans Servicemembers?

The Secretary of Defense just made a statement about trans people in the military,
Defense Secretary Carter: Transgender People Shouldn't Be Denied Military Service
NBC News
By Miranda Leitsinger
February 23, 2015

Carter made the comments at a town-hall event in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in response to a question from Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, a doctor, about transgender soldiers serving in an "austere environment" like the one in Kandahar.

" (W)e want to make our conditions and experience of service as attractive as possible to our best people in our country. And I'm very open-minded about — otherwise about what their personal lives and proclivities are, provided they can do what we need them to do for us. That's the important criteria," Carter said. "I don't think anything but their suitability for service should preclude them."
Ehrenfeld told NBC News that he asked Carter about transgender soldiers because he had personally cared for a transgender soldier in his role as a physician in Afghanistan the last six months and interacted with several others.

"I am continually struck by how these individuals, who risk their lives every day to support our mission, live not in fear of the enemy, but rather in fear of being discovered for who they are," Ehrenfeld said in an email. "I am hopeful that someday the outdated policy excluding transgender individuals from serving will be lifted. In my experience, transgender service members are some of the bravest soldiers we've got."
I wonder how long it will take to move the government bureaucracy to make it happen, a year, two? Three? How long must trans servicemembers wait, haven’t they waited long enough?

Trans Panic

That seems to be the defense strategy for the Marine who is being tried for the murder of a trans woman in the Philippines.
US marine given not guilty plea in trial for murder of transgender Filipino
The Guardian
Associated Press in Manila
Monday 23 February 2015

A Philippine court entered a plea of not guilty on Monday for a US marine charged with the murder of a transgender Filipino, who authorities say he killed after finding out her gender when they checked into a motel.

Accompanied by security escorts and his lawyers, Marine Pfc Joseph Scott Pemberton refused to enter a plea to the murder charge in the brief proceeding in a court in Olongapo city north-west of Manila, according to justice secretary Leila de Lima. Journalists were barred from the courtroom.
Marine Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose, who was with Pemberton that night, acknowledged that Pemberton later confided back at their ship that he attacked the woman he was with by choking her after discovering that she was a transgender when she undressed, according to the prosecutors.

“I think I killed a he/she,” Pemberton was quoted as having told Rose.
I hope that the judge doesn’t allow “Trans Panic” defense but I’m afraid that the woman’s gender identity will be a major issue in his defense… “I went temporally insane when I found out!”

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why I Don’t Vote Republican

There is a LGBT anti-discrimination bill making its way through the Wyoming legislature, and the amendment proposed by Republican tried to block the bill in committee are laughable.
Lawmaker kicked out of meeting as Wyoming committee clears LGBT anti-discrimination bill
Casper Star Tribune
By Laura Hancock
February 20, 2015

CHEYENNE -- A House of Representatives committee passed a bill that would protect gay and transgender people from discrimination in Wyoming, but not before ejecting a representative from the meeting.

Senate File 115 would add “sexual orientation or gender identity” to existing laws that protect people from discrimination based on race, religion, age and other protected classes. The bill had previously passed the Senate and now moves to the House floor for debate.

Rep. Harlan Edmonds, R-Cheyenne, was kicked out of the House Labor, Health and Social Services meeting Friday, after proposing an amendment to the bill that would make it effective when “hell freezes over,” instead of the date of July 1.

Committee Chairwoman Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, had started the Friday afternoon meeting insisting people would remain civil. She told Edmonds to leave after his comment, which followed a more than two-hour discussion in which he also asked the bill’s supporters why pedophilia wasn’t in the bill.
I agree with Rep. Harvey, Rep. Edmonds crossed the line when he started to equate LGBT people to pedophiles. It is one to try to block the bill it is another thing to compare us to pedophiles.

So who is opposed to the bill?
Representatives from the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne and the Wyoming Pastor’s Network testified the bill did not offer a broad enough religious exemption.

The law shouldn’t dictate how religious people can treat others, said Pastor Tim Moyer of Emmanuel Bible Church of Star Valley.

“It is the freedom for participants and parishioners of our churches to practice their faith according to their conscience,” Moyer said.
The bill already contains the standard religious exemption for religious organizations but they want more, they want to be placed above the law. They want to be able to just declare it is against “their religion” and be able to discriminate against gays or lesbians or bi-sexual, or trans people. Why single out LGBT people, why shouldn’t a person be able to discriminate against another religion, why shouldn’t a person be able to discriminate against, why are LGBT people singled out? Will they have a test to determine if it is against their religion or can they do it just by making a statement? Or will we have a list of religions that are okay to discriminate?

A Week Ago

Less than a week ago I wrote about five trans women have been murdered since the new year, sadly the count is now up to eight. On the website ETNYC they have the names of those died simple because they are trans,
February 15, 2015 – Kristina Gomez Reinwald
February 14, 2015 – Bri Golec
February 10, 2015 – Penny Proud
February 1, 2015 – Taja Gabrielle DeJesus
January 31, 2015 – Yazmin Vash Payne
January 26, 2015 – Tyra (Ty) Underwood
January 17, 2015 – Lamia Beard
January 12, 2015 – Ms. Edwards
Some were murdered by strangers, some by a boyfriend, and one by her father but they all had one thing in common, they were all trying to live their true lives and for that they were murdered.

Stop the hate!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday 9: Freeway of Love

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Freeway of Love (1985)

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

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

1) In this song, Aretha's ideal car is a pink Caddy. What's your dream vehicle?
A Tesla.

2) Have you ever owned a convertible?
Well not owned it, it was a MGB that my brother owned and he let me drive it when he was away at college.

3) Aretha longs to "drop the pedal and go." Are you a careful, conservative driver? Or do you enjoy going fast? 
I think I am an average driver. I don’t go fast, fast but I keep up with traffic.

4) Aretha's grandmother Rachel helped raise her. Tell us about one of your grandparents.
I didn’t really know my grandparents except for my mother’s mother who lived with us. My father’s grandmother lived in another part of the state I only saw her on holidays and both my grandfathers died young. My grandmother that lived with us used to bake stuff from the old country; I remember her making beer cruller, poppy seed roll, and nut roll. Unfortunately my grandmother never wrote down the recipes. I found a recipe that is close her poppy seed and nuts roll, but not for the beer cruller (Does anyone have a recipe for beer cruller that willing to share?) although a doughnut recipe using beer might be close.

5) Aretha played a waitress in the 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers. Have you ever worked in food service?

6) Aretha was a chain smoker for decades and had a terrible time giving up cigarettes. What habit do you wish you could break?
Eating too much.

7) A sculpture of Aretha is at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in New York City. What's the last museum you visited?
The New Britain Museum of American Art.

8) Since Aretha has many honorary degrees, it would be appropriate to refer to her as Dr. Franklin. Who is the last person you addressed by his or her title (Officer, Father, Pastor, Dr., etc.)?
A therapist friend and he is a PhD. When I called his office the other day I only remembered his nick name and I couldn’t very well tell his secretary I wanted to speak to using his nickname.

9) The daughter of a minister, Aretha enjoys singing "church music" and her 1972 CD Amazing Grace is one of the best sellers in gospel music history. Do you have any gospel music on your phone, iPod or MP3 player?
No, definitely not.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Up Hill Battle

That is what it seems like in passing non-discrimination legislation for trans people. We have to battle not only the opposition but sometime our allies.
Op-ed: Pushing Transgender Rights Bills in a Difficult State
What can the rise of transgender political power in Philadelphia can tell us about the fight in our state and elsewhere? How can trans folks keep the progress going?

By Jordan Gwendolyn Davis
February 20, 2015

… state Rep. Mark Cohen, a Philadelphia Democrat, has introduced two major transgender rights bills. HB 303 is based on California’s Success For All Students Act, which allows for students to dress, use facilities, and participate in programs conducive with their gender identity, while HB 304 would require all private, public, and Medicaid health plans to include transition-related health coverage.
Philadelphia has been the city that says yes to the LGBT community when the Pennsylvania legislature has said no. Aside from a few administrative (i.e. changing gender on driver’s licenses) and judicial (i.e. marriage equality) victories, nothing has been done in terms of LGBT rights on the state level. On the other hand, Philadelphia had achieved trans-inclusive antidiscrimination, a slew of life partnership provisions, and a few administrative victories such as a homeless shelter policy by 2011. Even so, I found myself witnessing many Philadelphia candidates and elected officials hit all the right notes on LGBT issues, but when it came time to addressing the unique issues with the T — especially health care — finding it was a bridge too far for them.
And that is the thing; we get buried in the LGbt in a candidate’s campaign. They get up on the podium and say that they are all for LGBT rights, but to the candidates they have a very narrow view of LGBT rights, for many of them it only means marriage equality.

She goes on to write,
As difficult as the drafting process was, the harder part will now be passing HB 303 and HB 304. Both these bills, as of this writing, have fewer than a dozen cosponsors (out of 203 house members); the cosponsors are all liberal Democrats, most of them from Philadelphia. As much as I thank them for this cosponsorship, there will be no victory unless there is bipartisan support all over the state. Although this will be a tough road, and I am not holding my breath about passing them this session, I hope that the transgender community mobilizes behind these two bills.
I think that was one of the problems in Massachusetts, they could not get enough support for public accommodations from the Democrats.

We were lucky here in Connecticut that we had the strong support of the governor who was willing to use some of his political capital to pass our bill. But it wasn’t an easy battle, it was touch and go all the way. The opposition has gotten better in the way they framed the bill.

Seeing Is Believing

Ever since Pope Frances was elected Pope there has been a steady thawing in relationships between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community. Last week the Pope met with a trans man and this week the Pope met with a LGBT rights group,
Gay Catholic group gets VIP treatment at Vatican for first time
By Philip Pullella
Feb 18, 2015

(Reuters) - A prominent American Catholic gay rights group was given VIP treatment for the first time at an audience with Pope Francis on Wednesday, a move members saw as a sign of change in the Roman Catholic Church.

"This is a sign of movement that's due to the Francis effect," said Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, which ministers to homosexual Catholics and promotes gay rights in the 1.2 billion-member Church.

Gramick and executive director Francis DeBernardo led a pilgrimage of 50 homosexual Catholics to the audience in St. Peter's Square.

They told Reuters in an interview afterwards that when the group came to Rome on Catholic pilgrimages during the papacies of Francis's predecessors John Paul and Benedict, "they just ignored us".

This time, a U.S. bishop and a top Vatican official backed their request and they sat in a front section with dignitaries and special Catholic groups. As the pope passed, they sang "All Are Welcome," a hymn symbolizing their desire for a more inclusive Church.
The web site Christian Today reported that,
The suggestion that the New Ways activists were given any special treatment by the Pope has now been refuted by Vatican sources. According to Catholic News Agency (CNA), the seats taken by the group are not considered to be superior, and are available on a first come, first served basis. "The group was treated as any other group of faithful in the square," CNA was told.
So what is the truth? Was it a step toward relaxing the church’s positions as reported by New Ways Ministry or were they just another group that just was standing line to see the Pope?

What I want to see before I believe in this new thaw is the church back off from opposing non-discrimination legislation. I don’t care what they tell their faithful but when they continue to block legislation for equal rights and oppose us from being able to sit in a restaurant and being served, then I will continue to see the same old church under a fancy wrapper.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

All In The Family

It is hard to deny your own family and when one of your family comes out as trans for most families it is hard to reject your own son or daughter. Yes, there are religious conservative or bigots who are so transphobic that do cast their child out on the street but most families don’t.

We tend to change family members views on trans people, it moves it from an obscure concept to reality. And it is even more dramatic if the family member is a legislator,
Rep. Mike Honda tweets he is 'proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild'
San Jose Mercury News
By Julia Prodis
POSTED:   02/18/2015

SAN JOSE -- U.S. Rep. Mike Honda announced in a tweet Wednesday that he is "the proud grandpa of a transgender grandchild," sparking an immediate outpouring of support for the Democratic congressman -- who said he hopes she "can feel safe at school without fear of being bullied."

Along with the tweet, Honda posted a photo of himself with his arm tightly around his grandchild, who has shoulder-length hair and a sweet smile.
"It's surprising just to hear a congressperson tweet something like that, but that's the beginning of something new, especially for transgender people who have been going through a lot of discrimination with their gender identity," said Adriana Covarrubias, who was volunteering at the center [San Jose's Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center] Wednesday afternoon. "As a grandparent, he's going to see the things the child is going to go through."
Just by reading the comments he will get an idea the discrimination and bigotry she will face.

There are a number of legislators who have relatives that are trans; here in Connecticut one of the state legislators announced that he has a transgender cousin when we were passing our law in 2011. He spoke about his cousin who had just transitioned from male to female. He said that he sent his cousin a Christmas card using her female name and received a thank you from her telling him how she cherished the card.

As more people transition it will also mean that more family members also become aware firsthand about transgender us, our struggles and the battles that we face.

Yesterday I Was At A Homeless Shelter

I volunteered to do the Point-In-Time count of the homeless population. Every year the shelters are required to count the homeless in shelters and on the street and I volunteered to do the count at shelters.

I did it because I wanted to see what a shelter looks like and because I wanted to help. I get the calls for phone line CTAC (CT TransAdvocacy Coalition) and we get requests for “trans friendly” homeless shelters. I did it with a friend who is also trans and it looked that most people who volunteered to help had a friend along.

We first had training on filling out the forms (here is an electronic version of the form) and then were assigned a shelter while some volunteered to count homeless people who do not go to shelters.

I interviewed about six or eight people and out of the eight most were there because of hardship and not drug addicts or alcoholics. For whatever reason they were down on their luck and they were clean, very friendly and respective.

I found the shelter clean but very worn and in need of basic repairs like paint or the furniture was typical institutional furniture (heavy and basically a big cube with cushions. I did staff training at a mental hospital and it was the same type of furniture).

I think to sum it up in one word the word “basic” keeps coming to mind. It is not a place where you want to be, but it is basic communal living.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Am Of Two Thoughts

There is an article on Bilerco about “Building a More Resilient Transgender Community” and I can see two different views. The first is that these are good tips for us and the other is that it is society that has to change. The article points out these areas that the community needs to do to be safer,

Optimism About Your Future – she write that negative thoughts are destructive and leads to suicide.

Strong Social Support from Family, Friends, and Co-Workers – one of the things that I learned in social work school was how important a support network. Those who have a strong support network are more likely to have a successful transition.

Belief That Your Life Has Purpose and Meaning – this is another important positive factor. Many times we wallow in depression with no focus, for me it is working toward making the world more accepting of us. Doing what I can to help other trans people.

Feeling Like You Belong to a Group – this helps, but I don’t know how important it I, I know many trans people who get by because they have a strong support network.

Willingness to Seek Help/Willingness to Talk and also Cultural Norms That Encourage People to Seek Help – I think many trans women still have that “male macho” culture stuff hanging around and try to go it on their own.

Effective Coping and Problem-Solving Skills – this is a biggy! I was using coping skill when I didn’t even realize it. When I was doing an independent studies class for the MSW, my professor gave me a book in coping skill and grounding and when I read it I realized that I was already using those skills. One time I was giving a seminar to doctors and therapist I went over some coping skills that I have learned. Afterward a therapist emailed me saying how great a presentation I gave, she said she rode up with me in the elevator and noticed the coping skill I was using, watching the floor numbers on the display to avoid looking at the other people in the elevator.

These are all good tips to learn, but my thoughts are why should we have to learn them. Society shouldn’t  force us to learn them, instead society should embrace diversity instead of ostracizing us. If we were not marginalized none of this would be necessary because all these skills are to deal with rejection.

There Are Two Sexes.

Wrong, it is something that trans people know, that nature is diverse and not black and white, but all the shades of grey in between.
Sex redefined
The idea of two sexes is simplistic. Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.
By Claire Ainsworth
18 February 2015

As a clinical geneticist, Paul James is accustomed to discussing some of the most delicate issues with his patients. But in early 2010, he found himself having a particularly awkward conversation about sex.

A 46-year-old pregnant woman had visited his clinic at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Australia to hear the results of an amniocentesis test to screen her baby's chromosomes for abnormalities. The baby was fine — but follow-up tests had revealed something astonishing about the mother. Her body was built of cells from two individuals, probably from twin embryos that had merged in her own mother's womb. And there was more. One set of cells carried two X chromosomes, the complement that typically makes a person female; the other had an X and a Y. Halfway through her fifth decade and pregnant with her third child, the woman learned for the first time that a large part of her body was chromosomally male. “That's kind of science-fiction material for someone who just came in for an amniocentesis,” says James.
When genetics is taken into consideration, the boundary between the sexes becomes even blurrier. Scientists have identified many of the genes involved in the main forms of DSD, and have uncovered variations in these genes that have subtle effects on a person's anatomical or physiological sex. What's more, new technologies in DNA sequencing and cell biology are revealing that almost everyone is, to varying degrees, a patchwork of genetically distinct cells, some with a sex that might not match that of the rest of their body. Some studies even suggest that the sex of each cell drives its behaviour, through a complicated network of molecular interactions. “I think there's much greater diversity within male or female, and there is certainly an area of overlap where some people can't easily define themselves within the binary structure,” says John Achermann, who studies sex development and endocrinology at University College London's Institute of Child Health.

These discoveries do not sit well in a world in which sex is still defined in binary terms. Few legal systems allow for any ambiguity in biological sex, and a person's legal rights and social status can be heavily influenced by whether their birth certificate says male or female.
Yes, this does not sit well with people who cannot think beyond the binary, to them it makes their head spin to think further than when the Bible says or what they learned in high school biology in the ‘50s.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lavern Cox In A New Show

Ms. Cox is starting in a new series on CBS, she is doing a pilot as a transgender lawyer.
Laverne Cox cast as transgender lawyer in CBS legal drama pilot
Staff Reports
Wednesday, February 11, 2015

“Orange Is The New Black” star Laverne Cox, who was the first openly transgender actor to be nominated for an Emmy in 2014, has been cast in CBS’s legal drama pilot “Doubt.”
Variety reports that the project from CBS TV Studios, which was previously unnamed when it was ordered to pilot, revolves around a yet-to-be-cast attorney who gets romantically involved with one of her clients who may or may not be guilty of a brutal crime.

 Cox will play Cameron Wirth, a transgender Ivy League-educated lawyer “described as “competitive as she is compassionate.”
I think this is so cool, a trans person playing a mainstream character who is not a comic relief, a criminal or a prostitute.

I know a number of trans lawyers who are working in private practice, for non-profits and other are working in government jobs, some are doing very well while others are struggling.


I am always a little confused when I hear the working feminism because the word means so many things to so many people; it is kind of like the word “Transgender.” There is an article about trans-feminism in the website Gay Voice Views,
Trans-feminism 101 (An evaluation of feminist thought through the eyes of a trans-man)
February 9, 2015
By CJ Shrewsbury

Trans-feminism 101

(An evaluation of feminist thought through the eyes of a trans-man)

As a “trans” man, not only have I struggled with my place within society due to my gender identity, but have also struggled in finding an identity within the feminist world. It was, as if, everywhere I turned I was confronted with oppression. I was tolerated by the feminist community but not taken seriously as a feminist. To most, I was seen as a traitor to femininity. Choosing to adopt masculinity and therefore I was now part of the patriarchal oppressors. Now given this was not the view of all feminists. Many groups, such as inclusive feminists welcomed me with open arms. Yet, I still felt like an outcast.

So what was I to do? I could not in my own conscious, morally or philosophically abandon my feminist identity and roots. However, no matter where I turned, I felt excluded and at times discriminated against due to my personal gender identity. I found this not only more troubling but confusing as well. For my interpretation of my scholarly research on feminism contradicted this unwarranted exclusion from the feminist world. My understanding led me to understand that feminism, regardless of philosophical ideology, aimed for equality for all people unjustly excluded and discriminated by the oppressive patriarchal society and their coercive institutions.
That is more or less how I view feminism, “aimed for equality for all people unjustly excluded and discriminated by the oppressive patriarchal society and their coercive institutions.” Where everyone has an equal chance to achieve their dreams, which all possibilities can be realized.

But like all movements it has splintered in different directions,
Yes, historically it began as a purely woman’s movement. But like all social movements and their correlating theories, feminism has evolved into a broader more inclusive identity. Including not only women’s issues but also taking into consideration, class, gender, race, and sexuality. Making feminism a movement seeking justice for all effected by patriarchy and acknowledging that women were not the only one’s suffering from patriarchy’s oppression. Despite the truth of modern feminist ideology, there still remains a small number consisting of mainly radical feminist who do not adhere to this 21st century notion of feminism. Most notably, the right-wing radical feminists known as the TERFS (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists). I shall abandon the desire to elaborate further on the problems created by the TERFS and save the topic for a future article. For my purpose is not to narrate the divisions amongst feminism but focus upon the philosophy of trans-feminism.
And some have moved it from equality to oppression; just like those in the trans community who are exclusionist. Those trans people who look down at trans people who have not had surgery or can integrate into society.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Harry Potter And Tolerance

Here is an interesting article about the relationship between kids who read Harry Potter stories and those who don’t.
Psychologists Find a Surprising Thing Happens to Kids Who Read Harry Potter
Science Mic
By Tom McKay
July 30, 2014

The first took 34 Italian fifth-graders and plunged them into a six-week course on Potter. The researchers began by having the students fill out a questionnaire on immigrants, and then split them into two groups which read selected passages from the series. The students in the first group discussed prejudice and bigotry as themes in the books, while the others didn't, serving as a control group. The students in the first group showed "improved attitudes towards immigrants," but only if they identified with Potter.

A second study with 117 Italian high school students found that a reader's emotional identification with Harry was associated with more positive perceptions of LGBT people in general. A third, which surveyed U.K. college students, ultimately found no association between an emotional bond with Harry and perceptions of refugees. But it did indicate that students who had less of an emotional identification with Voldemort had "improved attitudes toward refugees."

In all three studies, the researchers credited the books with improving the readers' ability to assume the perspective of marginalized groups. They also claimed that young children, with the help of a teacher, were able to understand that Harry's frequent support of "mudbloods" was an allegory towards bigotry in real-life society.
Then we have this study, it is a little older but still interesting,
‘Harry Potter’ Books Brainwashed Millennials To Elect President Barack Obama, New Study Says
International Business Times
By  Rebecka Schumann
August 14 2013

The popular young adult book series “Harry Potter” is being targeted as a reason behind the 2008 election of U.S. President Barack Obama. In the study, released by University of Vermont Political Science Professor Anthony Gierzynski, it is alleged that millennials who read the fantasy novels are the reason for the 44th president’s success.

According to a report from the Daily Caller, Gierzynski’s study states that Americans born from 1980 onward have showed support for Obama due to being “brainwashed” by the moral lessons discussed in the best-selling, seven-book J.K. Rowling series. “The lessons fans internalized about tolerance, diversity, violence, torture, skepticism and authority made the Democratic Party and Barack Obama more appealing to fans of 'Harry Potter' in the current political environment,” Gierzynski said.

The claims were based on the study’s conclusion which found that 60 percent of 1,100 millennial-aged college students surveyed who had read “Harry Potter” also voted for Obama in 2008. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed who read the books also reportedly claimed to have an "unfavorable" view of Republican and former U.S. President George W. Bush.
Hmm… no wonder the conservatives hated the books. Also conservative Christians want the books banned from school libraries because they were about witchcraft and magic, little did they know the books also taught tolerance for those who are different.


Sadly the count of the number of trans persons murdered this year is now at five. The fifth trans woman was murdered by her father,
22 Year Old Ohio Trans Woman Stabbed to Death By Father
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
By Sue Kerr
February 15.2015

22-year-old Bri Golec has recently returned to a transgender support group in the Akron, Ohio area. She had participated a few years ago, then stopped attending. Recently, she began to more assertively explore her gender identity.
Trans activist Jacob Nash has confirmed that Bri was a transwoman and was involved in the community. According to Bri’s obituary, Facebook page and friends, she was a drummer and an artist. She loved her cat and had many friends. Bri will be buried this Friday, February 20 in Ohio.

Her father’s attempts to cover up the murderous attack took a bizarre turn when he told police that Bri was in a cult, implying the cult was responsible for the non-existent robbery. Local activists believe the elder Golec may have been referencing the transgender community. They are hopeful that the police will consider Bri’s gender identity in their investigation.

Bri Golec is the 6th transgender individual to die a violent death in 2015. She is the 5th transgender woman to be murdered in Ohio since 2013 along with Cemia Acoff, Betty Skinner, Brittany Kidd-Stergis, and Tiffany Edwards.  Another trans woman, Candice Milligan, was brutally attacked in Toledo.
The media used male pronouns to describe Bri, the only reports from LGBT media identified her as trans. The other media dissed her in death, denying her true identity.

When will the hate end?

Update 2/17/15 9:00AM:
According to Janet Mock's blog, the count is sadly now six trans women killed since the first of the year.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Katz And Jane Doe

Katz was up for reappointment as commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and she was reappointed.  During the hearing she was questioned about Jane Doe, the trans girl in the boy’s detention center.
Despite Criticism, Katz Endorsed For 2nd Term As DCF Chief
Hartford Courant
By Josh Kovner
February 11, 2015

Katz was also questioned closely by Rep. Cecilia Buck-Taylor, R-New Milford, on why Katz pressed for the transfer last year of a 16-year-old transgender girl to adult prison with no new charges pending – a move that drew outrage nationally from civil-rights groups.

The problem is the public only hears about a few cases. There are THOUSANDS of them that go unpublished.

The teen, known as Jane Doe, had an assaultive history. Advocates said DCF should be able to care for her anyway; Katz said her behavior was out of control. Katz and the agency lawyers invoked an obscure juvenile-transfer statute that hadn't been used more than twice in 20 or more years, and a judge approved the transfer after a trial. The teen has been back in DCF care since the summer.

"I didn't do it lightly," said Katz, first nominated by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in January 2011 and renominated last month. "And I'm not going to walk that back now."

She told Buck-Taylor that DCF social workers and state correction officials "built a cocoon" around Jane Doe when she was at the York Correctional Institute for women in Niantic, "and she was successful enough to allow us to bring her back."

Despite a couple of setbacks, Jane Doe "is doing incredibly well now," Katz said. The teen has a room in her own wing at the CJTS boys facility, and Katz said she has visited and bonded with her…
Why is she in the boys’ facility? Why isn’t she in with the girls? That was a question that should have been asked?

State Of The Trans Community

There is an op-ed article in the LA Times about the progress we have made,
Getting Americans to accept transgender people remains a challenge
By Jennifer Finney Boylan
February 13, 2015

e tall young man, the head of a major LGBT civil rights organization, looked out at his audience and asked what seemed, in 2011, like a preposterous question. "Is it possible," he wanted to know, "that in the years to come we will be able to declare the movement over? That we will have reached, at long last, a time in which our goals will have been achieved?"
And yet, the last few years have left many Americans dizzy at the speed of progress, whether gay, straight, transgender or cisgender (an antonym of "trans" that applies to those comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth). At times it's been hard even to keep track of the string of marriage-equality victories. Marriage equality is now the law in 37 states; in six others, courts have overturned the ban on same-sex marriage, but those rulings are being appealed. And the Supreme Court is expected to resolve the legal battle over marriage equality by June.
As I travel the country speaking about LGBT rights, I've begun to hear, with some earnestness, the question that seemed so preposterous to me just four years ago. Are we all done, then? Is it time to furl the rainbow flags and head home?

The answer, alas, is no, and not only because marriage equality is far from the only issue, or even the most important issue, affecting our community. Across the country, a gap has emerged between progress on the legislative front and progress that still needs to be made in Americans' hearts. Marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws have achieved remarkable victories in statehouses, electoral refrendums [sic] and the courts. But full acceptance is as elusive as ever.
We have made great inroads but most of them are on paper. Trans students are still being harassed in schools, trans employees are still being fired, and trans people are still being attacked because of we are.

We still have a long ways to go, what do you think?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Saturday 9: All Dressed in Love

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: All Dressed in Love (2008)

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

For Valentine's Day, we need a happy love song. Hear it here.

1) In this song, Jennifer sings, "I look good in love …" What about you? When you're happy, or sad, does it show? Or do you keep an even demeanor, no matter what? 
I am very good at hiding my feelings, I had a lot of practice.

2) This song played over the closing credits of a hit movie, Sex and the City. When you go to the movies, do you visit the concession stand for popcorn, or a soft drink, or candy?
No, I sneak in a bottle of either soda or water.

3) Think of the last movie you watched at home. Was it a DVD, DVR, streamed or cable presentation?
Streaming video from YouTube.

4) Jennifer Hudson got good grades in high school and went away to Langston University in Oklahoma. But she was homesick for her family in Chicago and came home after just one semester. Have you ever been homesick?
Yes, I’m a homebody. I lived all my life in one town,

5) Jennifer received acclaim for her renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the 2008 Democratic Convention and Super Bowl XLIII. Do you agree with critics who say that our National Anthem is hard to sing? 
I don’t sing so I can’t comment on that.

6) Jennifer is a spokesperson for Weight Watchers and, with diet and exercise, went from a size 18 to a size 6. She says that while she's committed to healthy eating, she still enjoys ice cream occasionally. Do you prefer your ice cream in a cone or a cup?
I prefer it in a cup, or a cone, or in a bar, or… just give me ice cream anyway you have it.

7) Her fiance, Daniel Otunga, is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Harvard is the most famous of the eight "Ivy League" schools. Do you know the other seven?
Well I beg to differ; Yale is the most famous Ivy League. Let’s see there are Princeton, Brown, and Dartmouth, those are the only ones that I remember off the top of my head.

8) With a Grammy and an Oscar, Jennifer Hudson is one of the most successful American Idol contestants. Can you name another singer who appeared on AI?
Ah… no. I never watched the show.

9) Last year, Jennifer nearly bought a brand-new Ferrari because it was so great looking. At the last moment she backed out of the deal because she doesn't drive enough to warrant such an expensive car. What's the last impulse purchase you either made, or resisted?
I bought a new lens for my camera, a 150 – 500mm f5 – 6.3 zoom lens.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Trans Doctors

No I don’t mean doctors who treat trans patients but doctors who are transgender. There is a pediatrician down in Concord North Carolina, who is transitioning,
Patients support Concord doctor's gender transition
By Tony Burbeck,
February 12, 2015

CONCORD, N.C. -- A longtime local pediatrician has announced he is going through gender transition.

Dr. Hal Levin is the medical director at Piedmont Pediatrics in Concord.

In a letter he sent last March, he said he will return to work as a transgender female and go by the name Dr. Laura Levin.

The clinic and Carolinas Healthcare System sent letters to patient families letting them know.
Dr. Levin's touched on that in a personal letter to patient families.

This is part of his statement:
"I want to assure you that the only thing changing about me is my appearance. The excellent care your family has received at Piedmont Pediatrics will not change. When I return to the practice in March, I hope you will see that I am the same person at my core that I have always been - a physician who cares deeply about patients, who provides compassionate, excellent care, and who is committed to patients' well-being and health. Being a woman does not define me. It just happens to be part of who I am that will now be visible to everyone else."
The clinic also sent out a letter where they said that they welcome diversity where it “promotes an environment where difference are valued and integrated into their workforce.”

I know a doctor who transitioned in her practice in the Boston area and she lost a few patients but the majority stayed with her. One of the first blogs that I found on line was that of another doctor, Dr. Becky Allison’s “Becky's Story,” and it was reading her blog that I first realize that my transition was possible.

Healthcare professionals who are trans help the community in many way, and I think the two important ways are that they understand what it is like to transition so they can treat trans patients better than non-transgender doctors and the second way that they help the community is by being visible. As a social worker I think I make a strong impact when I am meeting with other non-transgender professionals.

At A Meeting

I am at a meeting about homeless shelters this morning discussing the treatment of trans people at shelters.

The survey “Injustice At Every Turn” found some startling facts about homeless trans people. Some of their findings are,

  • Respondents lived in extreme poverty. Our sample was nearly four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000/ year compared to the general population.
  • Overall, 16% said they had been compelled to work in the underground economy for income (such as doing sex work or selling drugs).
  • Respondents reported various forms of direct housing discrimination — 19% reported having been refused a home or apartment and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity/expression.
  • Respondents who have experienced homelessness were highly vulnerable to mistreatment in public settings, police abuse and negative health outcomes.
  • One-fifth (19%) reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives because they were transgender or gender nonconforming; the majority of those trying to access a homeless shelter were harassed by shelter staff or residents (55%), 29% were turned away altogether, and 22% were sexually assaulted by residents or staff.

It is the last fact that the meeting today is about, it is a planning meeting for another meeting next week.

Even through Connecticut has a strong gender identity and expression non-discrimination law, some of the shelters do not follow the law and when there is harassment of trans people by the residents, it the trans person who gets blamed for it.

Not all shelters in Connecticut don’t get it; I have done training for domestic violence shelters and there are shelters here that will house homeless trans people in the shelter of their gender identity and not their birth.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Tale Of Two Trans Police Officers

First the good,
Austin PD welcomes first transgender officer
Senior Officer Greg Abbink has been with the force for a decade
By Angie Beavin
Nov 26, 2014

Outside of Austin’s city hall on Thursday, people gathered for the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Each year someone from APD’s Lesbian and Gay Police Officers Association is one of the speakers. This year was the first time the department had a transgender officer be that person.
“Not that I started out to be this, but, I’d like to be a role model if I can,” he added.
Now the bad,
Here in Connecticut another police officer transitioned on the job in Middletown and she faced harassment and discrimination.
Fired Trans Police Officer Sues Connecticut Town Over Alleged Discrimination
Francesca Quaranta's lawsuit describes being verbally harassed, excessively scrutinized by superiors, and ultimately pushed out of her long-term job.
The Advocate
By Mitch Kellaway
January 14, 2015

In 2013, Quaranta made headlines when she officially filed a complaint with the Connecticut Human Rights Commission alleging her supervisors had created a hostile working environment, the Associated Press reported. According to the complaint, the discrimination Quaranta faced included excessive scrutiny, being asked to remove her earrings despite them being allowed for other female offiers [sic], and a lieutenant referring to her with a male name and questioning whether she was fit for duty.

A member of the police force since 2004, Quaranta stated that her longtime coworkers were initally supportive of her transition but soon became hostile, resulting in her taking a paid administrative leave for several months. When Quaranta returned to work, she reportedly failed a "fitness-for-duty" evaluation that resulted in her position being terminated.
Here in Connecticut we are a bastion of blue liberalism while Texas is known for its conservatism, how ironic that a trans officer finds support in Texas while here in Connecticut the trans officer is forced off the job.

And I also have to wonder if the fact that the officer in Texas is a trans man while here in Connecticut the officer is a trans woman, did gender play a role in the way each was treated? He became one of “the boys.” 

This Time The Lesbians And Gays Are Thrown Under The Bus

The tables have turned, a newly appointed Catholic Bishop in Vermont  welcome trans people but not lesbians and gays,
Vermont Catholic Bishop Affirms Trans People; LGB Folks, Not So Much
The new bishop in the Green Mountain State has welcoming words for trans people but less affirming remarks about same-sex relationships.
By Stevie St. John
February 10 2015

Vermont — a state that adopted marriage equality early in the game and was the onetime home of “Hubby Hubby” ice cream — has a new Roman Catholic bishop, and he has some affirming words for transgender people. However, he sees same-sex relationships as not “matching up” to what the Catholic Church calls on its members to “strive for” when it comes to sexuality and relationships.

Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Burlington diocese, which covers the entire state, said during a recent Vermont Public Radio interview that he not only would welcome transgender people in church but that he acknowledges the evidence that trans people do not choose to be trans.

“There’s more and more evidence coming forward that a lot of this is biological ... that transgender people are really struggling with the idea of gender identity … and that’s through no fault of their own. And so there’s no fault to be made, actually. This is who they are. ... Everyone is God’s creatures. And I would invite anyone to come to the table,” said Coyne, who even said he wants people to call him out if he inadvertently uses the wrong pronoun for a trans person or says something harmful.
Sorry ladies and gentleman, I hope the tire tracks didn’t hurt too much.

But in all seriousness your sexual orientation is just as much a biological factor as my gender identity, it is not a choice, we are all born the way we are. The new bishop is just following the same ol’ party line.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

You Never Know what Is Going To Happen At One Of Those Weddings

An interesting poll about same-sex weddings,
Poll: 43% of Americans ‘uncomfortable’ bringing a child to a same-sex wedding
Pink News
10th February 2015,
By Scott Roberts

Research by GLAAD shows some non-LGBT Americans still report substantial levels of discomfort with LGBT co-workers, family, and neighbours, despite historic legal progress for marriage equality.
One-third (34%) say they would be uncomfortable attending the wedding of a same-sex couple, with 22% saying they would feel very uncomfortable.

A substantially larger group (43%) responds they would be uncomfortable bringing a child to the wedding of a same-sex couple.
You never know what will happen at a gay or lesbian wedding… maybe it will be an orgy. You know how those people are! They are having sex all the time.

Really what do they actually think is going to happen? It’s a wedding! Yes the couple will probably kiss when the minister or justice of the peace pronounces them married and probably at the reception when people start ringing their glasses the couple will kiss just like any other marriage.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When Will The Hate End?

Four dead.

Four trans women murder in the last month.

When you are LGBT it is like walking around with a target on your back for every bigot to take their hatred out on you and it is even worse if you are a person of color.
Every Breath a Black Trans Woman Takes Is an Act of Revolution
Huffington Post
By Lourdes Ashley Hunter: National Director of The Trans Women of Color Collective
Posted: 02/06/2015

Every 28 hours a Black person is murdered. I also know that every 32 hours a transgender person is murdered. The average age of the 12 transgender women of color brutally murdered last year in this country (in less than 6 months) is less than 35 years old. What I do know is that Islan Nettles was pummeled to her death outside a NYC police station and none of the 12 cameras in the surrounding area that should've recorded her attack were operating properly -- and even though the police pulled her murderer off her body, he still walks the streets today.

This inhumane treatment of our lives has taken its toll. In January, there were reports of four brutal murders of Black trans and gender non-conforming people of color. There has been no national outrage over our lives. The lack of response regarding the physical and structural violence we face sends a resounding message that our lives are disposable, that our lives don't matter.
And it is not just trans people who are being murdered, it is also lesbians and gays.
Lesbian couple gunned down by obsessed U.S. Coast Guard co-worker
Staff and Wire Reports
February 8, 2015

BOURNE, Mass. — A heavily armed Coast Guard member, allegedly obsessed for years with an attractive former co-worker — a lesbian who married another female co-worker — is charged with fatally wounding the woman and seriously injuring her spouse.

Lisa Trubnikova was killed in a shooting in Bourne, Mass., on Thursday. Her spouse, Anna Trubnikova, was wounded and was hospitalized in stable condition.

The two women were U.S. Coast Guard petty officers.
Another Coast Guard member, Adrian Loya, of Chesapeake, Va., has been charged in the shooting.
Please stop the hate.

Shh… Big Brother Is Listening

Or in this case your appliances like your TV, phone, and other voice controlled devices.
Be Careful What You Say Around Your Samsung Smart TV
Voice-recognition data collection can be turned off, but it may prevent you from using all of the voice features. 
BY Stephanie Mlot
February 9, 2015

As first reported by The Daily Beast, Samsung's Smart TV privacy policy includes the following warning.
"Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition," the site says.

Those third parties, according to Samsung's policies, perform tasks like converting speech to text, while data collection helps the company improve its services, it said.
Do you remember George Orwell's novel 1984 where the government had listening devices everywhere, well 1984 has arrived, but instead of the government it is big business. Its capitalism, if there is a buck to be made, we’ll make it and we will happily go along with it because now we don’t even have to push a button was just have to say a word.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Why I Will Never Vote Republican

Did you see the bill (HB 583) that a Republican Florida state legislator introduced?
Anti-Transgender Bill Is for Knuckle-Draggers, Surely Not for Florida
Sunshine State News
By: Nancy Smith
Posted: February 6, 2015

It's hard to fathom why any legislator in the 21st century would want discrimination as part of his legacy, but Rep. Frank Artiles apparently has his reasons.

The Miami Republican, chairman of the House Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee, this week introduced a bill that would invalidate protections for transgender Floridians and criminalize the use of public restrooms by transgender people.

It basically would write transphobic discrimination into state law.
The article goes on to ask the question what will happen if a non-trans person is detained,
Said Daniel Tilley, LGBT rights staff attorney for the ACLU, "In addition to dehumanizing transgender people in particular, it invites humiliation and harassment of anyone who is not considered sufficiently feminine or masculine in the eyes of the beholder. Will girls in soccer uniforms be stopped at the bathroom door and asked to produce their birth certificates?"

Tilley further explains, “This bill also puts the burden on business owners to monitor customers’ use of restrooms and ask intrusive and humiliating questions of customers or be at risk of liability. That’s not good for business, much less for the customers themselves, whether transgender or not. The bill would essentially require everyone to carry their birth certificate around so that other citizens can subject them to random interrogations in the restroom.”
Could they get sued if they stop the wrong person? What would happen if I got stopped and my Connecticut driver license has an “F” on it? Connecticut law recognizes me as female and under "Full Faith and Credit Clause" of the Constitution doesn’t Florida also have to recognize me as female? The clause states,
Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.
It seems to me that this proposed law will create all types of legal nightmare not just for the trans people but also for all the other citizen of the state of Florida.

This bill is just another mean spirited Republican bill.

You’re Better Than Your Brother

That was what a trans woman that I know was told when she gave a presentation at a conference. She is well known in her field and has given workshop as a male before but this was the first time she gave one as a woman and they thought she was better than her "brother." I have heard similar comments from other professional trans people and one of their concerns is maintaining their professional identity.
What to Do When Your Colleague Comes Out as Transgender
Harvard Business Review
By Dorie Clark
FEBRUARY 5, 2015

By now, many professionals have openly gay colleagues at work, including the 66,000 U.S. employees of Apple, whose CEO, Tim Cook, famously became the first Fortune 500 CEO to come out last October. But far fewer people have had the experience of working with an openly transgender colleague (i.e., someone “whose gender identity or expression is different from those typically associated with the sex assigned to them at birth,” according to advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign).
So what are some of their suggestions for when a colleague transitions?

  • Unless you’re already good friends, keep your reactions to a minimum. Someone who comes out to you as transgender certainly hopes for a positive response – but also doesn’t want coming out to be a huge deal.
  • Take your cues from your colleague. Some of your transgender colleagues may be pleased to discuss their own experiences or trans issues in general, while others may be more reticent.
  • Be mindful of the pronouns. No one is going to expect you to become an instant expert on transgender issues.
  • Relax about the bathroom. Bathrooms were a source of great sturm und drang during the debate about gays in the military, and they may be so even more when it comes to transgender issues.
  • Do research on your own. You may be tempted to pepper your colleague with questions about transgender issues, and on one hand, that’s a laudable impulse.

I think these are some good tips for employees when a co-worker comes out as trans. For many of us we just want to concentrate on the job ad we don’t want to be the center of focus. Just treat me as just another employee.

Update: My touch of OCD noticed that the hit counter is at 191903, only 16 more hits for 191919, I have to see if I can catch it then.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Dissed In Death

Or why a will is important. When we died, we have no control over what happens to us, we are at the mercy of our family or loved ones. We hope that they will do the right thing.

The first thing that we do not have control over is our death certificate, there is no law mandating what gender to put down on the death certificate. Some say it must reflect the gender on our birth certificate but nowhere does anything say it has to be the same.

The next thing is something that we can have control over and that is who will be our administrator of our estate. Hopefully the courts will follow our wishes, but there are many cases where they do not and maybe an estranged family might be in control of our estate. In the Windy City Times there is an article about this,
Denying LGBTQ identities in death
By Dana Rudolph

Some transgender people have faced a somewhat different but no less tragic erasing of their selves upon death. When transgender teen Leelah Alcorn died by suicide in December, her mother refused to use her preferred gender pronouns when talking with the media. They put Leelah's legal name, Joshua, on her gravestone, and banned her best friend, Abby Jones, from the funeral, reported the U.K.'s Daily Mail. After Leelah's death, Abby had posted online a photo that Leelah had taken of herself wearing a dress and it quickly went viral, which apparently angered Leelah's parents.

Her mother told CNN that she and her husband "don't support that [Leelah's transgender identity], religiously," although she added, "But we told him that we loved him unconditionally." Hmm. Refusing to acknowledge a child's gender identity isn't quite what I think of as "unconditional."

One might imagine an adult would escape the same treatment. Not always. In November, a 32-year-old transgender woman in Idaho, Jennifer Gable, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. After her death, her parents referred to her exclusively by her birth name, Geoffrey, and with male pronouns. The memorial Web page they established at the funeral home website uses a photo of Gable pre-transition. Even worse, she was presented in the open casket at the funeral dressed in a man's suit and with her hair in a man's cut, reported the Miami Herald.
So give it some thought who you would want to look after you when you are gone, will they follow your wishes, or will they impose their biases on you in death.

Are We Harmed?

When a celebrity transitioned and all the tabloids go wild, what does all that press do for the community? Does it harm or does it help other trans people? I do not mean that in any way celebrities should not transition, what I mean is does the way the press cover us, especially the tabloids sensationalize us.

In the blog PrideSource Gwendolyn Ann Smith writes an Opinion about Jenner and celebrities,
This badly photoshopped photo isn't like Cox's Time cover. If anything, it is comical: a hit piece designed to scorn Jenner and -- by extension -- his ex-wife and family. The overall look of this cover is clownish, a thinly veiled mockery.

Whether they fully realized it or not, however, In Touch has painted a broader target than Jenner and the Kardashians. By putting this out, they have put transgender people at risk.
Others are nowhere near as fortunate. Others are at risk of violence in the home, in their school, at their workplaces and in their own neighborhoods. This cover only feeds into a culture that -- in spite of our advances -- still sees transgender people as freaks. That is what they have literally painted Jenner as on that cover.

This, too, is what fuels transgender people to self-loathing, to hatred and violence against themselves. When Leelah Alcorn took her life, one of her fears was that -- as she was not being allowed to start her transition early -- she would always appear masculine. In Touch has opted to display a somewhat-masculine Jenner in bad makeup and someone else's coat and scarf. What sort of message does this send to the next Leelah Alcorn?
Do these tabloids stir maybe not hostility but maybe paint us as Ms. Smith as freaks, something to laugh at? I think so, but there is nothing that we can really do about it.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Saturday 9: A Sleepin' Bee

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: A Sleepin' Bee (1957)

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

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

1) This song is about the wonder of first love. How would you describe the sensation of falling in love?
Caring, caring about the person more than you care about yourself.

2) This 1957 album was the first Diahann Carroll ever recorded. More recently she recorded "A, You're Adorable," a nursery rhyme. (The lyrics are here.) Give us some words to a children's song that remain in your head to this day.
Twinkle, twinkle litter star, how I wonder…

3) 1957 was the peak of the Baby Boom (1946 to 1964). Are you a Boomer, a Gen X-er, a Gen Y-er, or a Millennial?
KaBoom! I’m a Boomer, I am a Medicare card carrying Boomer.

4) In 1974, Diahann was named to the Best Coiffed Hall of Fame by the Guild of Professional Beauticians. How often do you change your look?
Zero. I don’t, I like the way I look and I don’t want to change my hair style or color.

5) Ms. Carroll made history as Julia in the first network TV show to star a black woman. She played a nurse. Do you/have you ever worked in the healthcare profession?
Nope, but I have worked with healthcare professionals doing training.

6) She also played glamorous, scheming Dominique Deveraux on the nighttime soap, Dynasty. Who is the most memorable female villain you've ever seen in a TV show or movie?
Natasha Fatale from the Bullwinkle Show

7) Ms. Carroll began her career as a model. Her height (nearly 6' tall) is an asset in that profession. Are you pleased with your height? Or do you wish you were taller, or shorter?
Shorter, good grief… I’m tall enough already because I’m six foot and I don’t want to be any taller.

8) Now in her 80th year, she keeps on working. Recently she's appeared on TV in Grey's Anatomy and Blue Collar and on the big screen in Tyler Perry Presents Peeples. How do you feel about retirement? Is it something you enjoy or look forward to? Or would you prefer to continue working? 
I think retirement is great! I get to pick what and when I want to do.

9) In her long movie career, Ms. Carroll has played love scenes with some very good looking men, including Sidney Poitier and Billy Dee Williams. If you could steal a kiss from any actor or actress, who would choose?
Meryl Streep

Update 11:15:

By popular demand...