Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Are We Turning The Corner?

Is Hollywood getting the message? There is an interesting article on the increased demand for trans actresses/actors,
Transgender actors are in demand for TV's pilot season
The Frame
By Collin Friesen
March 30, 2015

"It seems to have just happened," Garcia says. "It’s been creeping along slowly. I think it just exploded with 'Orange Is The New Black,' followed up by 'Transparent.'"

She’s talking about calls for transgender characters, which are often cast with actors identifying as trans themselves. People like Christopher Aguilar, who lives as both a man and woman.

Recalling his audition track record, Aguilar says:  “It went from [none] three years ago. Two years ago I had one, and now, this year alone, I’ve already had four.”
But there still is a long ways to go…
“There has been a great inclusion of LGBT characters on TV, but there are still no regular trans gendered characters on cable or broadcast show, characters on network or cable," Adams says. "We’re still at the very beginning stages of talking about transgendered representations.”

Alexandra Billings is the trans actor who plays the role of Davina on "Transparent," the woman who mentors Jeffrey Tambor in the ways of owning his female identity. She says while there is more acceptance, there’s also more backlash, and, in her case, lots more hate mail.

“It’s unbelievable," Billings says. “Calling me names, throwing the bible at me, all kinds of terrible things. It’s never been this bad.”
Is this a turning point for trans actors? It maybe, only time will tell, but thing is certain the more we become visible the more conservatives will push back.

News Flash!


The vote tally on the committee vote on the Birth Certificate bill has been posted...

Total voting: 25, Yea: 23, Nay: 2, Abstain: 0, Absent/Not voting: 3

What that means is that the bill has strong bipartisan support because eleven of the committee members are Republican.

The bill allows that you can change you birth certificate without surgery, you will need the same documents that you use to change the gender on Social Security and on your passports. This morning's Hartford Courant said this about the bill,
A legislative panel is backing a change to state law that would make it easier for transgender people to obtain a birth certificate that accurately reflects their gender identity.

The public health committee, which has jurisdiction over birth certificates and other vital record, voted Monday to back House Bill 7006, which now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration. (The vote won't be final until later today.)
One of the Republicans on the committee had this to say about the bill,
Rep. Jason Perillo , R-Shelton, questioned whether the state should permit people to change an essential document, such as a birth certificate.
"The birth certificate is intended to represent the state of the individual at birth,'' he said. "I don't weight what I weighed when I was born and we don't go back and change my birth certificate because my weight has changed."
But in the end he voted for the bill.

The Day Of Visibility

 Today is the Transgender of visibility, whatever that means. I say that because I am always out, I don’t know how to be more visible and those who are not out I not going to tell them to “out” themselves. I think those who are already out and proud know that by being so are help the community.

Buzzfeed has Ten Things You Can Do on the TDV

  1. Go to Local Transgender Day of Visibility Events
  2. Learn About Trans history
  3. Support Trans-Led Organizations
  4. Don’t Out Your Trans Friends
  5. Know the Differences Between Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sex Assigned at Birth, Sexual Orientation, and Romantic Orientation
  6. Recognize the Intersections of Transness and Other Identities
  7. Help Make Women’s Spaces Inclusive of Trans Women
  8. Learn Trans Terminology
  9. Tell People When They Say Something Transphobic or Cissexist
  10. Celebrate Trans Identities

So basically Buzzfeed list is more about what non-trans people can do on today.

Of course anything LGBT is going to stir up controversy,  on the WWMT-TV website has an article about that controversy,
Controversy on International Transgender Day of Visibility

MARSHALL, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Tuesday, March 31st marks International Transgender Day of Visibility.
The goal of this day is to raise awareness about discrimination transgendered people face.

But on this day where transgender visibility is supposed to take center stage, it's being overshadowed by controversy across the county, including at a West Michigan high school.

The rock outside Marshall High School has been at the center of this controversy.

This all started with a bulletin-board in the high school. Students from the school's Gay-Straight Alliance decorated the board for Transgender Visibility Day. It had transgender facts and words of encouragement.

A picture of the board went up on social media, causing outrage from some parents.
Parents on Facebook say they don't believe it's appropriate for school and they suspected some kind of agenda was being pushed.

Several parents say this goes against their Christian beliefs.

The board was soon taken down by school officials.
Of course whenever a LGBT talks about a LGBT issue we are “pushing our agenda,” what the school did was violate the First Amendments rights and violate Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has made it very clear LGBT students have just as much rights to post their literature on bulletin boards as non-LGBT students.

The students know better than the school administrators,
"Students have the right to express their beliefs, and to take it down with the only purpose of it being uncomfortable to parents, I think that's infringing on the rights of students," said student Emily Walker.

"We're not trying to press an agenda. All we want to do is advocate for a safe space here for members of the LGBTQ youth," said student Garrett Sander. 
Maybe the administrators can take a lesson from the students.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Apples And Oranges

That is what the press is doing when they say that nineteen other states have religious freedom laws. Yes nineteen states do have religious freedom laws but they are very different from Indiana’s law. There is a good article analyzing the laws on the website IN Advance,
The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act – An Analysis of Its Controversy

Does IRFRA resemble its federal counterpart?
The short answer here is no.
What is clear is that Indiana has not copied the federal legislation or those passed by other states, but has instead added more expansive language as seen below. The IRFRA adds several clauses which rightly give pause to the endless possibilities of using religion and religious freedom as a sword and a shield.
He goes on to write,
What makes this law new and different is its application to disputes between private citizens. That is not to say that such laws could not be used in private matters (in fact, Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas all have similar prvisions [sic]). Indiana’s version of the law, though, goes the extra mile to ensure the matter could remain between private individuals. It is the only one I have seen where the State can explicitly intervene at its discretion.
This is the biggie; this is what makes it so different from all the other states and the federal law. Listen to what he says in the ABC video…

World News Videos | US News Videos

An ABC News article points out that,
A federal version of the religious freedom law was enacted in 1993 but dozens of states have passed their own versions since then, including one passed unanimously in Illinois when President Barack Obama was a state senator. Illinois added specific protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation several years after passing its version of the law.
I also fault the news organizations for not challenging the fact about the other state laws and the federal being the same as Indiana’s law. The press blindly parrots the statements of the governor’s office when they say the laws are the same.

# # #

News Flash...
Connecticut To Become First State To Boycott Indiana Over LGBT Discrimination Law
Huffington Post
By Jennifer Bendery
Posted: 03/30/2015

WASHINGTON -- Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) will sign an executive order on Monday barring state-funded travel to Indiana because of the state's new law that could allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers for religious reasons
Malloy's move would make Connecticut the first state to boycott Indiana over its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Gov. Mike Pence (R) quietly signed into law last week. The law allows businesses in the state to cite religious beliefs as a legal defense. Opponents fear it offers legal protection for businesses to refuse service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
GO Connecticut!!!!

Trans Privilege

There are all types of “privileges” in the trans community and it causes a lot of tension within the community. At the Buffalo Trans Health Initiative conference CeCe MacDonald spoke on privilege. The thing is that people who have the privilege don’t know that they have it and they don’t like anyone talking to them about it. In the Advocate Michelle Wolf writes,
Then she went into discussing privilege — and one by one, I could see her losing them. From there, she transitioned into talking about white trans privilege, and she started to even lose some of the trans folk. Nothing she said was the least bit untrue, but nevertheless, the message was building up the very walls she so effectively knocked down moments before.

We speak of white privilege, male privilege, socio-economic privilege, cis privilege, and so on. These are all true things that really exist; there is no denying it. Privilege exists and it has the power to profoundly impact, through opportunity or repression, what a person might achieve in this life. I can see very clearly what a huge advantage I had living as a white male, and how far I have fallen as a white transgender woman. I can also see that where I am now is a far, far more advantageous position than if I was a black transgender woman who came from impoverished circumstances. There is no comparison.
I will reiterate again: privilege does exist. It is pervasive, and it has a huge impact. We can agree on this amongst ourselves and know that it is true. Some of us can also agree that not all trans people begin the race at the same starting point, and that many of our sisters and brothers have many more hurdles to clear before even approaching the much cushier spot in line we drew. If you can and want to use that knowledge to make a difference, great. If you can’t, and the idea makes you pissy and contentious, just try not to think about it. When it comes to the cisgender population, it’s far better that we stop continuously pointing this out.
I had white male privilege and I used it. I always knew that I had it but I never realized how much it affected my life until I gave it up. I usually do not get identified as trans until I interact with people. so I get to see the effects of male privilege when people interact with me as a woman and then when I am identified as transgender I see a different interaction take place.

The effects of privilege is not doubled in you are a minority, it is quadrupled.  If you are a trans woman in machismo society you face an enormous amount of discrimination based on your loss of privilege.

In my cultural competency training I have a slide that says,
Visual non-conformity is a risk factor in causing anti-transgender bias and its attendant social and economic burdens.
How well you can assimilate in to society is a large factor the amount of privilege that you have.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Not All Religions Are The Same

Some are affirming.
California Jewish school marks 8th grader’s gender transition
In religious ceremony crossing a bar mitzvah with a baby naming, Tom Chai Sosnik becomes a man
Times of Israel
By Renee Ghert-Zand
March 26, 2015

Earlier this month, 13-year-old Tom Sosnik, wearing a tallit and holding a kiddush cup, marked a transition into manhood with a special ceremony at his Jewish day school. He wasn’t celebrating receiving a first prayer book or a first Bible, or graduating from one grade to another. He wasn’t really observing his bar mitzvah, either. In what was a decidedly nontraditional event, the short-haired teenager was publicly marking his gender transition from girl to boy.

Sosnik’s Jewish ritualized coming out as transgender in front of classmates, teachers and family at the Tehiyah Day School in El Cerrito, California, is believed to be the first time that a Jewish day school has sanctioned and performed such a ceremony. It hasn’t gone without notice.
While acknowledging the societal risk Tehiyah’s leadership took in performing Sosnik’s transition ceremony, Marc Kramer, executive director of RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network commended the school for being “a safe, warm, accepting place that accepts children for who they are.”

“Jewish community day schools have been on the front line of acceptance of gay and lesbian teachers, administrators, families and kids for more than 20 years. Making schools safe for transgender kids is a new frontier and I am thrilled (and not surprised) that again we are leading change,” he said.
There are many religions that accept transgender people, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and many other religion that accept us with open arms. This year I have done many diversity trainings at churches.

Was Planet Fitness A Set-Up?

I have to wonder about the woman who made the complaints against Planet Fitness, I keep remembering what happen back in 2008 in Maryland. There was an incident at Rio Sport and Health Club where a woman made a similar complaint like that was made about Planet Fitness.

The woman was from the Citizens For A Responsible Government and had staged the incident at a local gym and I can’t help but wonder…

Thinkprogress report that,
Cormier is represented by the Kallman Legal Group. A press release from the group claims that Cormier “has filed this lawsuit to protect Michigan women and children and to hold Planet Fitness accountable for its irresponsible policy and actions. This case further illustrates the potential harm caused by adding the proposed new categories of sexual orientation/gender identity to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.”

Cormier’s representation by Kallman Legal Group is likely not a coincidence. David and Stephen Kallman, a father and son team, already have a reputation for opposing LGBT equality in Michigan. In October of 2013, they submitted a legal memo challenging proposed LGBT nondiscrimination protections in Delta Township, claiming that the ordinance would violate others’ religious freedom. The memo compared homosexuality to extramarital sex, polygamy, pedophilia, serial killer rapists, necrophilia, bestiality, and incest and suggested that because gender identity is “internal to the person,” someone accused of discrimination would be required to be a “mind-reader” not to discriminate. Their suit against Planet Fitness for respecting how individuals self-identify their gender seems to disprove this last concern.

In addition to his legal practice, David Kallman serves on the board of the Colorado-based Salt and Light Global ministries, which believes the Bible is infallible and seeks to impose God’s law “in every social sphere in every community.” Both Kallmans also serve as legal counsel for the Great Lakes Justice Center, which has published issue briefs similarly rejecting LGBT protections as a violation of religious liberty and describing such laws as an attempt to promote “civil acceptance of homosexual conduct through the force of law.”
There seems to be a lot of similarities between the two incidents. Both incidents came at a time when the legislature was hearing legislation on a gender inclusive non-discrimination bill and both incidents milked the press coverage and became the poster child for the opposition.

What do you think?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saturday 9: Thinking Out Loud

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Thinking Out Loud (2014)

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 week's featured artist, Ed Sheeran, was discovered by Elton John. Tell us your favorite Elton John song.
It is a tossup between Candle in the Wind and The River of Dreams but I will go with..

Here is a little bit of trivia, the video was filmed along the Connecticut River. The opening scene is of the Essex steam train and the bridge. The bridge that they are singing on is in Portland CT and in the background you can see the Arrigoni Bridge carries Route 66 and Route 17 over the Connecticut River. The ferry is the Chester - Hadlyme Ferry, which began service in 1769

2) Ed's arms are covered in tattoos, so clearly he doesn't suffer from trypanophobia, or the fear of needles. Do you get nervous when the doctor gives you a shot?
Naw. After having electrolysis for three years what’s another needle. What was a lot harder was giving myself a shot when I had to take insulin.

3) One of his tattoos depicts a Heinz Tomato Ketchup label. What condiments are in your kitchen right now?
Wow! A whole mess of them, all the standard condiments and then some.

4) Spotify named Sheeran the most-streamed artist in the world for 2014. Do you use Spotify? Pandora?
I use Pandora

5) Ed celebrated his success by purchasing a farm near Suffolk, England. Would you prefer to live in a rural, suburban or urban area?
Suburban, I lived in the city when I was in college and it was way too noisy and we have a cottage in rural New Hampshire so when I need quite I can get away from the bustle and decompress.

6) In this song, Ed sings about kissing "under the light of one thousand stars." Were you able to see the stars last night? Or was it it too cloudy or overcast?
Nope, it was snowing and besides there are way too many lights to see the stars except for the brightest. But if you want to see the stars come on up to the cottage, there isn’t a street light for ten miles around.

7) Ed is a natural red head, a trait he shares with only about 2% of the population. Does red hair run in your family? 

8) One of Clairol's most popular shades is a red (Nice 'n Easy Natural Light Auburn). Have you/would you dye your hair?
First you have to have hair before you can color it.

9) Random question: Look at the windows in the room you're in. Are they covered in curtains or blinds?
Curtains and they are open looking out at the snow coming down.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Speak Up, Act Up

Indiana just passed a law that cannot be left unchallenged, they call it a Religious Freedom law but in reality it is a Religous License to Discrimination law. There is already backlash from the bill and hopefully it will continue to gain momentum.
$50 Million Convention Threatens To Leave Indiana If Governor Signs 'Religious Freedom' Bill
The longest-running gaming convention in the world, which brings in $50 million annually to Indiana is threatening to move in response to an anti-gay bill awaiting the Governor's signature.
The New Civil Rights Movement
By David Badash
March 25, 2015

Since 1968, Gen Con has been bringing gaming lovers together. The convention, now worth an estimated $50 million in revenue, boasts attracting over 56,000 attendees last year to its current home in Indianapolis, Indiana, where it has resided since 2003. But CEO and owner Adrian Swartout is willing to move Gen Con if Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence signs SB 101, a controversial anti-gay "religious freedom" bill that is sitting on his desk.

"Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds," Swartout wrote in a letter to the Governor. "We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention."

"Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state's economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years," she warned.
They are not alone in think twice about holding their conference there,
Ballard: 'Religious freedom' bill may hurt state's image, city's convention businessThe Indy Star
By Chris Sikich and Jeff Swiatek
March 25, 2015

In Indianapolis, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) sent a letter to Pence on Wednesday threatening to cancel its 2017 convention in Indy if he signs the measure into law.
"Our perspective is that hate and bigotry wrapped in religious freedom is still hate and bigotry," Todd Adams, the associate general minister and vice president of the Indianapolis-based denomination, told The Indianapolis Star.

Adams said the Disciples of Christ would instead seek a host city that is "hospitable and welcome to all of our attendees."

The Disciples of Christ has held its annual convention in Indianapolis three times since 1989. Adams expected about 8,000 to attend in 2017. VisitIndy estimated the economic impact at $5.9 million.
And there is a company that is having second thoughts about coming to Indiana,
Salesforce CEO Says Company Is ‘Canceling All Programs’ In Indiana Over LGBT Discrimination Fears
CBS San Francisco
By Marc Benioff
March 26, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff says he doesn’t want his employees subjected to discrimination as part of their work for the San Francisco-based company, and he is cancelling all required travel to the state of Indiana following the signing of a religious freedom law that some say allows business to exclude gay customers.
Benioff says that goal puts Indiana law at odds with Salesforce philosophy.
These so called “Religious Freedom” laws are really an attempt to hide discrimination behind the cloak of the Frist Amendment. Be it is a perversion of the First Amendment these “Religious Freedom” laws grant special rights based on religion, they allow someone to be above the law just by claiming that it is against their religious beliefs.

As what do these laws teach the children?

These laws teach children that it is all right to discriminate against people that are different. We are seeing a resurgence of racial discrimination and violence that is directed toward minorities. Society is becoming more racially divided in the last six year than it was before the election of President Obama. Race has taken a "Them Against Us" mentality that is splitting the nation.

I think that this editorial says it all…

When we see hate, speak up.
Become active in politics!
Write letters to the editors, let your voice be heard!
We cannot let these laws go unchallenged.

I leave you with "You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught"  the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.
You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Close To My Heart…

Elder care for LGBT seniors; as I get up there in age I am starting to think about what would happen if I need long term care. What we need more is programs like this one at the University of Delaware…
LGBT aging, care
Conference on LGBT aging, health care provides cultural competency perspective

On Monday, March 23, a conference focused on issues surrounding LGBT aging and health care attracted some 150 attendees to Christiana Hospital’s John H. Ammon Medical Education Center and the Health Sciences Complex on the University of Delaware’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus.

“The conference enabled health care providers to learn more about such concerns as access, HIV and AIDS, chronic conditions, mental health and isolation,” says Karla Bell, board-certified geriatric physical therapist, co-chair of the UD LGBT Caucus and board member of United Way Pride Council’s Delaware LGBT Health Equity Task Force.
The goal of the two-part conference was to provide best practices for mature LGBT individuals across the health care continuum and to connect Delaware community resources to both health care providers and patients.
Here in Connecticut AARP has been showing the movie Gen Silent around the state in an effort to raise awareness of the needs of the LGBT community. I have been on a number of panels after the movie and I am scheduled to be on other panel this time at the University of Hartford on April 24.

As a result of the committee that I am on and the work of a number of senior centers in the area, some senior centers are having a LGBT night once a month.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Breaking News!

Yesterday morning I received an email from the lobbyist who is working with us on this year’s legislative agenda, she wrote…
The Regulations Review Committee unanimously approved the regulation to require Medicaid to cover treatment for Gender Dysphoria today.
That effort was started by Lambda Legal last June with inquires to the Department of Social Services asking them to review their policy on transgender health care.

The new regulation goes into effect in 30 days.


I was on a panel at a local law school about transgender youth and legal issues last night. We watched Laverne Cox’s latest film project, “The T Word” which was presented on MTV and afterward we had a Q&A session. On the panel was a trans man who is a research assistant at Yale, a lawyer from a big law firm that specializes in discrimination cases (for the employers) and the moderator was a professor from the law school who specializes in Mental Health Law, LGBT and Gender Issues and Family Law

After the movie we started off with a list of questions from the moderator,
  1. What is your reaction to this documentary?
  2. How does this documentary relate to the work that you do?
  3. What do you see as the biggest issues, legal or otherwise, facing transgender youth?
  4. What are the signs that progress is being made in regards to transgender rights?
  5. How can everyone help increase awareness about issues affecting transgender individuals?
  6. Is there anything else that you think is important to share with this group here today?
And the audience asked a lot of great questions two of them stood out, the first was about microagressions and the other one was about implicit and explicit discrimination. They created a lot of discussion both on the panel and in the audience and what I liked was one law student said that they had a classroom discussion on implicit and explicit discrimination. I used as an example of implicit discrimination what a person at the senior center photo club meeting said last summer while I was showing my photographs of my trip to Fire Island. A member uttered "I would never go there!" I don't think that he had any idea that what he was saying was a microagression, what he implied in saying that was that "Gay" people go there and I would never go anyplace where there are gay people.

Overall it was a very good session.

Here is the video that we watched…

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pushback From The Military

Once again how prevalent are these views or are they from just a vocal few?
AP sources: Concerns over easing transgender ban in military
Washington Post
By Lolita C. Baldor AP
March 25, 2015

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Ash Carter has gotten pushback from senior military leaders on whether the Pentagon should lift its ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces, according to U.S. officials familiar with the discussions.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Care to guess what they are concerned about?
Military officials are reluctant to publicly discuss their opposition, but much of it centers on questions about where transgender troops would be housed, what berthing they would have on ships, which bathrooms they would use, and whether their presence would affect the ability of small units to work well together.
However, there are many countries that have already dealt with these issues successfully and I see no reason why cannot overcome these obstacle.
Robinson, of Service members, Partners, and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All, acknowledged the issue raises challenging questions for the military. But she said other nations, including Australia, Canada and Britain, have found solutions.
“All the hard questions have already been answered,” she said. “Unless our leaders commit to a real program of answering these questions, then Americans have no way of knowing if what’s behind this is truly insurmountable challenges or bias.”

Way To Go Maryland

Maryland maybe about to join the states that allow birth certificates to be changed without surgery.
Lawmakers approve new birth certificates for transgender people
By Erin Cox and Timothy B. Wheeler
The Baltimore Sun
March 24, 2015

Transgender people could apply to change the gender on their birth certificates to reflect their identity under identical bills passed by each chamber of the General Assembly Tuesday.

The legislation would require the state to issue new birth certificates reflecting the name and gender of a transgender person if a medical practitioner certifies it is warranted. Those new birth certificates would not be allowed to be marked "amended."
Of course the Republicans don’t like the bill…
Republican Sen. Ed Reilly of Anne Arundel County disputed whether it was fair to do so.

"I think we are providing folks an extra level of consideration at the detriment of others," he said, notably those who are adopted, who are able to get amended birth certificates but not brand new ones identifying their biological parents.
Senator, adopted children do not get thrown out of bathrooms, or get denied jobs, or any of the other forms of discrimination that trans people face every day.

The blog goes on to say that the bill passed both houses by a veto proof margin.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A New Twist…

I’m suing you because I’m a bigot and you wouldn’t discriminate against a trans woman for me. That is what the woman who was kicked out of Planet Fitness is basically saying in her law suit.
Michigan woman sues Planet Fitness for transgender-friendly locker room policy
By Jessica Shepherd
March 23, 2015

MIDLAND, MI -- The transgender-friendly locker room policy of national gym chain Planet Fitness has led to a lawsuit in Michigan.

Yvette Cormier of Midland County is suing Planet Fitness in Midland County Circuit Court for more than $25,000. The Kallman Legal Group of Lansing is representing Cormier.

Planet Fitness canceled Cormier's membership March 4 after she complained to fellow gym members over several days about seeing a transgender woman using the locker room.
"Mrs. Cormier has filed this lawsuit to protect Michigan women and children and to hold Planet Fitness accountable for its irresponsible policy and actions," the press release states. "This case further illustrates the potential harm caused by adding the proposed new categories of sexual orientation/gender identity to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act."
There are a couple of things that caught my attention while reading the article, first did you notice that the legislature is debating adding sexual orientation and gender identity to their anti-discrimination law? And the second thing is that the lawyer has a website about the lawsuit, do you think that this whole thing might be politically motivated?

The Slippery Slope

It is a slippery slope that they have created, granting special rights to people to break the law. This country was based on the fact that no one is above the law, that is about to be broken…
Indiana Sends 'License to Discriminate' to Governor's Desk
Republican Gov. Mike Pence has indicated he intends to sign the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Advocate
By Sunnivie Brydum
March 23, 2015

Less than a week after it passed out of committee, legislation in Indiana that would allow businesses to turn away customers who somehow offend the owner's religious beliefs — and seemingly targeted at LGBT residents — is headed to the governor's desk.

Senate Bill 101, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed the Indiana House of Representatives by a vote of 63-31 Monday, reports LGBT blog The New Civil Rights Movement.
As with similar legislation introduced around the country, the Indiana bill does not specifically mention LGBT people or same-sex marriage. Instead, it couches its so-called license to discriminate in a stated desire to protect "religious freedom."

By doing so, SB 101 inculcates any "person" — defined as an individual, organization, religious society, church, corporation, company, "unincorporated association or another entity" — from any "government entity" that may "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion." The legislation does not define what constitutes a "substantial burden," though it does provide relief for the possibility that such religious freedom might be burdened in the future.
This is a license to break any law you do not like.

Are they going to have a religious test? Or can I just claim that a law violates the tenants of my spiritual beliefs? Can I use drugs and claim that my religion believes that I can achieve a god like state. Can I rape a teenage girl by claiming it is a religious ritual?

When you tell a group of people that they do not have to obey the laws that everyone else has to obey is wrong it is granting them special rights based on religion. It is a perversion of the First Amendment.

Monday, March 23, 2015

It’s the Bathroom Rooms Again

This time I like what Pride at Work said in their press release,
No One Should Face Criminal Charges for Using the Bathroom

WASHINGTON, DC - In several states around the country, including Florida, Texas, Kentucky, and Missouri, legislation has been introduced to restrict bathroom usage by transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.  In light of these bills, Pride at Work Executive Director, Jerame Davis, issued the following statement:

"These attempts to ban transgender and gender non-conforming individuals from using the restroom that best matches their gender identity are appalling on every level. Bills like these are nothing more than an attempt to implement a solution for which there is no problem. Grown adults, and even most children, have no problem deciding which bathroom they should use and laws that restrict those choices are misguided, mean-spirited, and demeaning.

"Access to a sanitary restroom is a health and safety concern both in public and in the workplace. Federal regulations require that all workers are given prompt access to such facilities at their work sites and many jurisdictions are passing laws that require all publicly accessible single-stall restrooms to be gender neutral. States that pass laws to the contrary are moving in the wrong direction and stand to create a situation where workers and the general public could be confused or intimidated about which facility they should use.

"Creating a false sense of fear of transgender individuals - which seems to be the core purpose of these bills - compounds the daily struggle many transgender and gender non-conforming people encounter every day. Facing criminal charges for using the bathroom is an insult to the values of freedom and equality most Americans hold dear. These bills must not be allowed to become law and, working with our partners in organized labor and on the ground, we will do everything we can to stop them."
I especially like the part  "Creating a false sense of fear of transgender individuals - which seems to be the core purpose of these bills - compounds the daily struggle many transgender and gender non-conforming people encounter every day" because it does seems like the only purpose of these bills are to drum up fear against for Republican votes on election day. So what if we get trampled and demonized as long as they can energize their base.

According to their website,
Pride At Work is the official constituency group of LGBT union members and allies fighting for workplace equality for LGBT workers.
When we were working to pass the non-discrimination law here in Connecticut, one of our strongest coalition members was the union. The co-president of Pride at Work is from Connecticut and was one of its members that lobbied for us.

Health Insurance For Us

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the NCTE press release about court ruling that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers us, there is an article about the judge’s ruling in ThinkProgress. In the ruling the judge said,
U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, an Obama appointee, concluded that Rumble had provided significant evidence to substantiate a case against the hospital under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which protects against sex discrimination in health care. She similarly allowed Rumble’s charges under the Minnesota Human Rights Act to proceed. This ruling, however, simply rejected the hospital’s request to dismiss the case, meaning that it will still proceed toward discovery and an eventual final outcome.

Nelson described Dr. Steinman’s treatment as “objectively offensive,” particularly his refusal to stop a painful genital exam. “A reasonable person, seeking treatment from an emergency room doctor at a hospital, would expect that the doctor would respect the patient’s wishes to stop a painful exam,” she wrote. It is plausible, she concluded, that this mistreatment was because of Rumble’s gender identity and did not constitute “random poor treatment that anyone might have received.” The bill’s reference to his gender “inconsistency” further bolsters Rumble’s claim that he experienced discrimination because he is transgender.

The same “objectively offensive” standard applies to the misgendering Rumble experienced from hospital staff, as well as the delays and refusals of treatment. It is plausible, Nelson concluded, that these were more than “perceived slights,” but a likely indication that he was treated poorly because of his protected class.
This morning I am having my annual physical and I know that once again I am going to have to fight to get my PSA test covered. It is not they will not pay for the test but rather it is the computer system that kicks it out because on Medicare I am female and they say the test is not necessary for women so they are not paying for the test. In response the doctor’s office bills me, so I end up calling the Medicare to tell them I’m trans and then calling the doctor’s office telling them they need to file an override code 45. These iterations usually take six months to get everything straighten out.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

One Thing I Learned

Back in grad school one of the things that they taught in the community organizing class is make sure when you protest that the action is directed at the target of you protest.
Protesters block traffic, highlight violence against transgender people
LA Times
By Hailey Branson-Potts
March 20, 2015

Dozens of protesters shut down a busy intersection outside the Beverly Center during the evening rush hour Friday to call for an end to violence against transgender people.

As horns blared and police helicopters circled, protesters marched into the center of the intersection at 3rd Street and La Cienega Boulevard, shouting, "Trans lives matter!"

Some wore fake blood and lay down in the street. Others clutched signs with messages such as "Stop killing us."
So some of the questions that we learned ask about an action…
  • What are your goals for you action? In this instant I would say it is to end violence against trans people
  • Who is your target? I would have to say the target is the people who are doing the violence.
  • Who can bring about the change needed to achieve your goals? This one is a little vague; the courts, the police, the perpetrators, and maybe the general public.
  • What action will bring about those goals? Now this is where I have to question the action. Was the action directed at those who can bring about change to the target? I have to say no. 
I do not think those who were affected by the action (the commuters) even knew what the action was about. I think a commenter to article said it best,
I don't get the thought process of these protests. Look I support the cause they are pushing. Fine. But when you impact people's lives like this all you do is promote negative feelings about your issue. Is the news coverage worth it? I wasn't caught up in it but now I get the feeling that those involved are selfish and self-centered.
It's just not good PR IMO.
So what would have been a better social action plan?
  • Protesting at the trial of the criminal who killed the trans woman?
  • Protesting at the police headquarters?
  • A vigil at the site of the murder?
Just to be clear I'm not saying protesting is wrong but rather target your protest. One of the other things we learned was that having both an inside game and an outside game is important. Having people working for legislative changes and education is just as important as the protesters outside.

How About A Different Slant On The Article

Ever notice how when the news media writes about a trans student using the bathroom of their gender identity, the media focuses on those who are against the trans student.
Parents pull child from school over transgender bathroom choice
By Glen Beeby
Published: Mar 18, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) - Two Boise parents said they pulled their student from school at South Junior High after another student, who is transgender, was allowed to use the girls bathroom.

Pauline Adams and Jacob Smith were upset when they found out from their daughter last week that a transgender student was allowed to choose the bathroom they preferred.
Much to the reporter’s credit he asked the parents,
KBOI asked the couple why this isn't an issue for those who already use the facilities and why some people might say this doesn't seem like a big issue.
From all the news articles that I have read most of the reporters just report about the upset parents and don’t ask questions or interview other parents who have no problem with trans students.

When the news focuses only on the negative it makes it sounds like that everyone has a problem with trans students instead of only an isolated few parents who are objecting.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Saturday 9: It's Not Unusual

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: It's Not Unusual (1965)

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

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Check here.

1) In this song, Tom sings that "it's not unusual to go out at any time." Will you be "out and about" this weekend?
No, my out an about was yesterday at an all-day conference. I don’t think I will go there today because they didn’t have any workshops that were interesting.

2) Before his music career took off, Tom supported himself and his young family by working as a vacuum cleaner salesman. Could the room you're in right now benefit from a thorough cleaning with a vacuum? 
Oh yes! Do you want to come over and help?

3) You can purchase a verified Tom Jones autograph on eBay for $299 (or the best offer). When you were growing up, did you collect signatures and sayings from your friends? (Autograph book? Yearbook? Cast?)
Nope. I never saw a reason to chase around after celebrities.

4) At the height of his popularity, female fans would throw their panties onstage at Tom Jones. Sam can't imagine doing this, and not just because she's not that crazy about Tom Jones. She'd be embarrassed because her underwear drawer could use a serious refresh. If you could choose one new article of clothing to add to your wardrobe today, what would it be?

5) "Tom Jones" is also the name of character in a famous 18th century novel. Tell us about a character from a book you wish you were friends with in real life.
Claire Beauchamp Fraser from Outlander.

6) When this song was popular in March 1965, Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City fame was born. Do you share your birthday with anyone famous?
I don’t know, I never checked.

7) Also in 1965, when this song was a hit, Americans were riveted by the Gemini space program and children all over the country wanted to be astronauts. Think back to your childhood: When you were in first or second grade, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I can’t remember that far back. I do remember wanting to be an engineer which I eventually became.

8) Fifty years ago, the most popular headache reliever was aspirin, and you could buy a bottle of 200 tablets for just $1. Do you have any aspirin in your medicine chest right now?
Yes, I take an 81 mg tablet daily.

9) Random question: You've just entered a public restroom. Would you rather find a paper towel dispenser or hot air hand dryer?
Paper towels, hot air dryers never seem to do a though job in drying your hands.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Where Am I Today?

I am up in the cold north… In northeast Connecticut on the University of Connecticut Storrs campus for the True Colors conference. The TC conference is a small intimate conference of about 3000 people.

It is most likely the largest LGBT conference in the world. It started off in life as a social work grad project and twenty two years later it morphed into the conference of today. It was originally called “The Children from the Shadows” conference and was on the University of Hartford’s campus but it out grew that campus, then it was on the Central Connecticut State University’s campus, but it outgrew that campus and now is on the UConn campus.

True Colors Conference at UofH
I have been going to the conference ever since it was at UofH and the weather has been anywhere from sunny in the seventies to like today in the low thirties and snowing.

It is like the Who’s Who of the Connecticut LGBT community, many of the lesbians, gays, and trans that I know from around the state I know from the conference. There is one gay man I meet every year at the conference, I first meet him at a “Trans 101” workshop probably thirteen years. We talked after the workshop over lunch, he never meet anyone trans before and he was curious and went the workshop. And every year I bump into him at least once at the conference.

Workshop on Trans History
This year once again I am having lunch with a former classmate from the School of Social Work; she is now a school social worker and runs the GSA. She’s straight and has I think two kids now and we usually get caught up on the gossip about what we did over the year and the kids ask any questions they have about trans issues.

I am doing another workshop this year on trans history, in the past I have done workshop on “Policies
for Transgender Students.” I give workshops at the conference for two reasons, the first is that I like doing it and the second is that I get in for free.

Hopefully, Stana will not be sick and we can go out to dinner together on the way home. It is kind of like a tradition we usually stop at Rein’s Deli on the way home and I have a pastrami Ruben on rye with a half sour pickle.

Update 3/21/15 9:00 AM
My workshop on Trans History went very well, I had 24 attendees, and all the evaluations were 5s and some 4s. But the ride home was a nightmare, traffic on I-84 was going 35 - 40 mph because of the snow. I only went to one workshop and I stayed up in the Rainbow Center talking to a friends.

I had lunch with a friend and former UConn School of Social Work classmate and her GSA.

Stana didn't make it to the conference, she was sick and I know how much she was looking forward to the conference. So on the way home I stopped and bought some cornbeef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, French dressing, and rye bread for my Ruben.

The Pecking Order Is Reinforced

This time by the government, the state of Florida now want to check our papers before we enter the bathroom. If you have a “F” on your drive license you get to use the women’s bathroom and conversely if you have a “M” on your drive license you get to use the men’s bathroom.
The Miami New Times
BY Kyle Munzenrieder
March 17, 2015

A bill that would ban transgender people from using their preferred public bathrooms has now made its way through its second committee, but not without some changes. The bill has been amended to make an exception for some transgender people who have legally changed their gender on government documentation. In essence, it means transgender people would need to have their papers on them to pee.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican, after the Miami-Dade County Commission passed an ordinance that added gender identity and presentation to the county's Human Rights Ordinance, effectively banning discrimination against transgender people in areas of housing, employment, and, yes, accommodations such as public restrooms, fitting rooms, and locker rooms. Artiles claims that the ordinance would prevent male sex offenders and other perverted, unsavory characters from entering women's bathrooms and that it's a matter of public safety.

Of course, no such incidents have been reported in Miami-Dade since the ordinance took effect and are almost unheard of in other states and municipalities that have passed protections for transgender individuals.
The bill has been changed to read,
"Female" means a biological female or a person who has a valid driver license or United States passport that describes the person as female on the license or passport.
"Male" means a biological male or a person who has a valid driver license or United States passport that describes the person as male on the license or passport.
So what we have now is a privileged bill where those who can afford to go to therapy can now pee in peace. If you cannot afford a therapist or the fee to change your driver license, too bad, you’re screwed and keep your legs crossed. The bill now exposes crossdressers to a greater risk of violence because they cannot use the bathroom of their gender expression.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Health Care For Us.

On the NCTE blog there was a post about the Affordable Care Act (ACA – Obamacare) and a court ruling saying that our health care is covered by the ACA,
Court: Obamacare Protects Trans People in Health Care Settings

For the first time, a federal court has confirmed that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits discrimination against transgender people by any health care provider accepting federal funds. In the case of a young transgender man who says he was badly mistreated in a Minnesota hospital, the court ruled Monday that Section 1557 of the ACA prohibits gender identity discrimination under the umbrella of sex discrimination, and that by accepting Medicare and Medicaid funds the hospital was subject to the law.

In the lawsuit, the young man states that he went to the emergency room last year with his mother—herself a medical professional—with painful genitourinary symptoms. While in the hospital for six days, he says he was repeatedly misgendered, ridiculed, given careless and assaultive exams, and otherwise provided untimely and inferior care because he is transgender. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is still separately investigating the case. The hospital and the group that employs its ER physicians urged the court to dismiss the suit, saying they were not covered by the law, that it didn’t prohibit anti-trans bias, and that the patient’s complaints were nothing more than “perceived slights” rather than serious discrimination. The court rejected all these contentions, saying the suit, brought by Minnesota-based advocacy group Gender Justice and captioned Rumble v. Fairview Health Services, could go forward.
This is really good for us, it can help fill in the gaps for insurance coverage, one of the problems with insurance coverage was those who had insurance polices written in Connecticut or Medicare were covered but those who had insurance coverage based on ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) were not covered. So this may be another tool to use to get insurance for those under ERISA.

We’re Everywhere!

Now we are in the soaps again.
CBS soap reveals character is transgender
USA Today
By Maria Puente,
March 18, 2015

On soap operas everybody has secrets, but The Bold and the Beautiful's popular Maya Avant has a new one.

Turns out, she was born a man.

Not shocked? Well, join the crowd.

Transgender characters (and sometimes actors who play them) are suddenly everywhere in pop culture — they're so mainstream they can even turn up on CBS' long-running daytime drama with a blast of proud network publicity.

The 28-year-old soap revealed in Wednesday's episode that Maya, a model now dating Rick Forrester, transitioned from male to female at a young age, after her sister confronted her with her birth certificate.
  • The network says B & B is the only current show on broadcast or cable TV to include a transgender character as part of the regular cast.
This is not the first time there was a trans character in the soaps, back in 2006 All My Children has a trans theme. This is from my blog back then,
On the TV Soap All My Children they have added a transgendered character, Zoe (Played by an actor), who is going through transition on the show. Last Friday they showed a scene from a support group that they did for the show and they used actual transgendered people, not actors for the segment. Two of the people that were part of the support group I have met; Betty Crow and Jennifer Boylan. Betty’s wife is Helen Boyd the author of “My Husband Betty” and “She is not the Man I Married”. Jennifer Boylan is the author of “She is not There: a Life in Two Genders” and she has been on the Oprah Show twice and her book was one of Oprah’s picks. The TV film clip is a fairly good presentation of what goes on in a support group, it was unscripted and I think the clip is worth watching.

Zoe’s comment at the end of the clip was how I felt after my first support group meeting, that I was not alone. What Betty said about her wife “Getting it.” is true.
Watching the clip over again I thought of Zoey Tur because of what David Harrison when Zoe walks through the door, “I thought you were just another celebrity looking for publicity, but you’re here.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I Am At The LOB Today

This afternoon (and maybe into the late evening) I am at the Legislative Office Building testifying on a bill. It is going to a long, long day. There is no such thing as a short hearing… well I take that back; last month I got out of there before the afternoon rush hour.

But today our bill is the next to the last bill being heard, so unless a miracles happens I probably will not be out of there until after dinner.

I wanted to go to a talk at the Mark Twain house but I guess that is out of the question.
TRANScribing: Gender Identity, Creativity, and Self Expression
Wednesday, March 18, 7:30 p.m.

The program will feature three transgender authors:  Joy Ladin, a poet and the first openly transgender professor at an Orthodox Jewish institution, Tobias Davis, a transgender activist, playwright, and young adult novelist, and Dr. Joe Wenke, a writer, social critic and LGBTQ rights activist.

The panel will discuss their varied journeys and how they create their writings.  Topics will include what audience the authors are writing for, does their transgender status make it hard to get visibility for their work, and how they use their writing as a form of self-expression.  The discussion will be moderated by Jacques Lamarre, Director of Communications and Programs at the Mark Twain House.

Joy Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English at Yeshiva University, is the author of seven books of poetry, including Impersonation, Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life, and Lambda Literary Award finalist Transmigration. Her memoir, Through the Door of Life:  A Jewish Journey Between Genders, was a 2012 National Jewish Book Award finalist. Her work has appeared in many periodicals, including American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Parnassus, Southwest Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and North American Review, and has been recognized with a Fulbright Scholarship.

Tobias K. Davis currently works, lives, and writes in Massachusetts. He is a transgender activist, playwright, and young adult novelist. His works have been well received by both the transgender community and the theater community at large. He strives to create works which are entertaining, educational, and accessible. A graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, Davis has been featured in Newsweek magazine, on air at KFAI Radio, in the San Francisco Bay Times and several local papers in the Pioneer Valley and the Twin Cities.

Joe Wenke is a writer, social critic and LGBTQ rights activist. He is the founder and publisher of TransÜber, a publishing company with a focus on promoting LGBTQ rights, free thought and equality for all people. He is the author of several works of nonfiction as well as the recently published novel The Talk Show and Fresh Air, a book of poems. Releases in 2015 are Looking for Potholes: Poems and The Human Agenda: Conversations About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Wenke received a B.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. in English from Penn State and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Connecticut.

Not All Are The Same

Religions are all not the same, there are non-affirming and there are affirming religions. Unfortunately, it is usually the non-affirming churches that get the most press coverage. Over the weekend I was part of a panel discussion on gender identity at an Episcopal Church and in a couple of months I will be on another panel at a Congregational Church. And today the Presbyterian Church made news,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Embraces LGBT-Inclusive Definition Of Marriage
The Huffington Post: Religion
By Carol Kuruvilla
Posted: 03/17/2015

The tide has turned for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples seeking to be married in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).

Following years of debate and introspection, America’s largest Presbyterian denomination has announced a change to its constitution that allows for a more inclusive definition of marriage.

Officially called Amendment 14-F, the new wording in the denomination’s Book of Order will describe marriage as being “between two people.”
Their decision comes at a price,
Hundreds of parishes have left the denomination in recent years, partly because of its more inclusive attitude toward LGBT members. The PC(USA) counted 10,959 member churches in 2005. That number dropped to 10,038 in 2013, according to church statistics provided to The Huffington Post. The decrease includes both churches that dissolved completely and churches that were dismissed to other denominations, including the more conservative Presbyterian Church in America and the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians -- neither of which ordains gay clergy or condones same-sex marriages.
But they stood up to the pressure and did the right thing.

So don't paint religions with a broad brush because there are some churches that do understand.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

All The World's A Stage

Unless you are a trans actress/actor then there are very few jobs open to you. There is a good article in Think Progress about transgender people being played by cisgender actors/actresses,
As for the fact that Elbe, a transgender woman, will be portrayed in the film by a cisgender man, Stryker said, “I’m on the fence about that one.” Redmayne’s response on this front has been both diplomatic (“There is an incredibly valid discussion for why a trans actress isn’t playing the part, because there are so many brilliant trans actresses, and I’m sure there are many who could play this part sensationally.”) and somewhat unsatisfying. He told The Telegraph that “one of the complications is that nowadays you have hormones, and many trans women have taken hormones. But to start this part playing male you’d have to come off the hormones, so that has been a discussion as well. Because back in that period there weren’t hormones.”

Stryker didn’t totally buy that justification. “It’s like, as if you’re not going to have to use prosthesis for the after. To me, that’s a little bit of a cop-out. Which says nothing about whether he’s going to do a good job.”

“There are an increasing number of trans actresses who could do just fine,” she said. “And I hope they get the breaks that they deserve. This does seem like a missed opportunity, to not cast a trans person. And the thing that I think casting non-trans actors in trans roles perpetuates is the sense that the trans person always kind of looks like their other-birth-assigned sex, and it doesn’t really account for what hormones do, what surgery does, what it’s like to live in a social gender long term. It has the effect of making all trans people appear to be early-transitioning people.”

“However good a job Eddie does on this,” she said. “It’s about time that we have trans people playing trans characters.”
She goes on to write about Amazon’s Transparent starring Jeffrey Tambor that as the show proceeds it is going to be harder to show the effects of hormones and the later stages of transition.

I agree with Susan Stryker, there are very many talented transgender actresses and actors who are not even giving the opportunity to audition for the movies and TV shows. Those that are giving a chance to perform in indie films are winning awards at places like Sundance Film Festival. Those who say that the best actress/actor should get the part, I agree. However, trans actors/actresses are being locked out from even getting their foot in the door and being asked to try out for the parts.

Them vs. Us

There is something called lateral hostility and it is common in marginalized community when some people try to distance themselves from the community. Here is parts of a blog that I wrote back in 2013,
Have you ever heard someone say that you are not really transsexual unless you have surgery? They think that only they are true transsexuals everyone else are only “transvestites” and they also refuse to use the name “crossdresser.”

Back in March there was an article about it,
Lateral Hostility and the Transgender Woman
Info Barrel
By m_spicer
March 1, 2013

Are you a transgender women who has experienced hostility from the transgender community? I would dare to say that a lot of transgender women have been the victim of bullying and pigeonholing into the brutally enforced “hierarchy” of transgender women through cyber-bullying, ostrification and deadly gossip. I use the word deadly because I believe that this behaviour is directly related to the skyrocketing transgender suicide rate. We don't we just add to the suffering and feeling of isolation that most of us feel. Some of us take their own lives; could this hostility among trans women be a factor? Perhaps something to think about the next time someone is being persecuted by our very own. We are doing it too ourselves people! It has to stop if we are going to get anywhere in society as a group of oppressed people. I asked my doctor about this phenomenon and he simply relied “it's called lateral violence”; he continued “when a group of people are singled out and ridiculed in society and have no place to put the anger and frustration they feel so they put it on the closest people to them who are on the same social rung as themselves".
We see lateral hostility in almost all oppressed groups; it is not unique to the trans-community*. In gay and lesbian communities we see it; those who can assimilate into the general population look down on those who display stereotypical gay and lesbian characteristics. People in oppressed community try to separate themselves from the community or from the more identifiable members of the community.

The article goes on to say,
There are some key characteristics of lateral hostility that you can watch out for:
  • We repeat our oppression by oppressing those around us. Often being harsher on ourselves than our oppressors ever were.
  • We intensely focus on the negative in another person or group. Pieces of information about you can be twisted into some negative, fear based, conclusions. Once you have been labelled “bad”, “wrong” or even better “your actually trans-phobic!” then the attack can begin.
  • Collective cooperation is a key element in lateral violence. A number of transgender people will work together to attack and undermine another person or group.
*Community: in this case I use the word in a sociological sense, where a group of people have cultural, religious, ethnic, or other characteristics in common. You do not need to feel a member of the community, you are part of the community because you share a characteristics in common, we are all trans.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bad News In The News Today (Part 2)

Today there is bad news to report; the second news article involves their when trans celebrities get involved.
Zoey Tur on Dr. Drew calls trans woman at Planet Fitness a “cross dressing fetishist”
Planet Transgender
By Kelli Busey
March 12, 2015
Zoey Tur the helicopter reporter who made a name for herself during the LA riots and later transitioning is again making a name for herself. Tur appeared on the Dr. Drew show as its transgender reporter this week. Tur gave her opinion about the Planet Fitness event and Carlotta Sklodowska, who self-identified as transgender.
Tur answers “I did some research I’m very careful about these sorts of things and I looked at social media and I also talked to the receptionist at Planet Fitness so you’re dealing with a cross dresser.” Tur goes son to explain she has many friend that are cross dressers. “It’s not a transsexual its a male who gets off on wearing woman’s clothing.”
As far as I can tell all the news media reports say that Carlotta is transgender, I didn’t see any news reports to state otherwise, I didn’t see any news reports that went into details of her sexual life.

I have transitioned seven years ago, I have been out for over fifteen years, and one thing that I do know is that you never comment on who is trans and who isn’t trans. Only that person knows how they identify, not someone else. It takes time to understand this and for those who are thrust into the spotlight when they first come out might not realize that and I cringe whenever I see a celebrity shoved into the position of being a spokesperson for the trans community.

I cannot know the reasons why Zoey Tur said what she did but I hope that she will eventually realize the damage she has done.

Bad News In The News Today (Part 1)

Today there is bad news to report; the first news is from New Hampshire that involves their first transgender legislator. The Union Leader newspaper reported,
NH's first transgender lawmaker arrested for hospital bomb threat
By Kimberly Houghton
Union Leader Correspondent
March 12, 2015

NASHUA -- Stacie Laughton, the state's first openly transgender legislator, was arrested Thursday by Nashua police after saying she is the person responsible for calling in a hoax bomb threat at a local hospital.

Laughton, who was elected to the House of Representatives and then withdrew her candidacy days later, turned herself in on Thursay [sic]on a warrant for the Feb. 27 incident after spending two weeks receiving treatment at a Vermont hospital for bipolar disorder.
She fully admitted her involvement to police, who opted not to formally charge her until her stay at the Brattleboro Retreat, a mental health and addiction treatment facility in Vermont, was complete. Laughton maintains that she was not under the influence of anything at the time of the incident, says she is cooperating with police and is grateful that they allowed her to seek medical assistance before her arrest. 
I just worry that the opposition will use this against us. Her being bipolar has nothing to do with her being trans.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Sometimes we think we are courageous when we march in a Pride parade or stand up to a bully, however, our courageous acts don’t even come up close to that of Jay Mulucha where he puts his life on the line every day.
Meet Uganda's transgender basketball players: discriminated, harassed but unbroken
Life as a transgender athlete in Uganda is a dangerous proposition: the heavily Christian country is one of the world’s most homophobic. For Jay Mulucha and Williams Apako, of the Magic Stormers, it’s a reality they have come to terms with together, as a team
The Guardian
By JP Lawrence
Sunday 15 March 2015

On a black tarmac court in Uganda, Jay Mulucha dribbled the ball between his legs as he surveyed the chaos around him. The 5ft 2in point guard, his eyes up, concentrated on knowing where to be and to what to do, where each player on the court was and where the danger lie. But everything was all wrong. No one seemed to be in the proper place. A whistle blew.

Jay picked up the ball and joined teammate Williams Apako in the huddle as the coach re-explained the play. Jay and Williams are players on the Magic Stormers, a women’s basketball team in the Federation of Uganda Basketball Association (Fuba). Jay and Williams also identify as transgender men in one of the world’s most homophobic countries. And much as we like to think of sports as a refuge, their story is a bit more complicated than that.
But Jay was also grappling with his identity. It was a long process, Jay said, and he struggled alone, until a friend introduced him to Uganda’s LGBT kuchu community. “I got to know I belonged to somewhere and that there were people just like me in this world,” Jay said. “I wasn’t alone.”

This, however, is a dangerous proposition in Uganda. The heavily Christian nation, like many former British African colonies, has long had anti-gay laws, including the Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014, known by Western media as the “Kill the Gays bill”. At least 500,000 gay people live in Uganda, according to the BBC, but many Ugandans understand homosexuality only through what they’ve learned from religious leaders.
His family has rejected him, and as word spread about him being trans the dangers increased,
Jay remembers the urgent phone call he got one night last season. Williams had been assaulted. Jay rushed to the clinic where Williams had been taken. Williams’s eye was gashed and swelling, his arms and legs bruised. And he was crying.

The Magic Stormers had had a game earlier that night. Normally, the Magic Stormers go home after games, but Williams had stayed to watch the remaining games alone. The rowdy crowd began pointing fingers at him, yelling at him, hitting him. “They said, ‘We will rape you, we will teach you how to be a woman,’” Williams said.

After the beating, Williams stayed in treatment for a month. He was scared to come back to the team, back to the sport he loved. Additionally, the 2014 passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act left him without a job. Only after much cajoling did he decide to return to the team.
That is what real courage looks like.

Honorable Mention

I don’t know if you noticed that LGBT people got mentioned by the President in his Selma speech last week. In the speech he said,
Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for African-Americans, but for every American. Women marched through those doors. Latinos marched through those doors. Asian-Americans, gay Americans, and Americans with disabilities came through those doors. Their endeavors gave the entire South the chance to rise again, not by reasserting the past, but by transcending the past.
We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, or that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing's changed in the past fifty years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or L.A. of the Fifties. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing's changed. Ask your gay friend if it's easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago. To deny this progress — our progress — would be to rob us of our own agency; our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.
We are the gay Americans whose blood ran on the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge.
It doesn’t seem like much, but it is an acknowledgement of our civil rights struggle. It is an acknowledgement of the lives that have been shed. But most importantly it is an acknowledgement of us.

Friday, March 13, 2015

While We Are On The Subject Of Colleges,

Here is an interesting opinion article in USA Today’s Campus about the Salvation Army and an ad that they ran a couple of days ago,
Viewpoint: The Salvation Army is not inclusive of all women
By: Dani Marrero
March 13, 2015

An ambiguously colored dress went viral across the Internet recently,  as users debated whether “The Dress” was blue and black or white and gold.

Days later, The Salvation Army released an ad of a woman wearing a white and gold dress of the same style with bruises on her legs and face. The ad asks, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?”

It was a clever and strategic way to bring attention to violence against women.

However, just like #TheDress was a short-lived phenomenon, I suppose Internet users have also forgotten when The Salvation Army refused to provide housing to a transgender woman in 2014.
The Salvation Army released this campaign in efforts to protect women, yet it refused to acknowledge that transwoman’s identity last year. The Salvation Army wants to spread a message to stop violence against women, yet it failed and continues to fail protecting the most vulnerable women, those who are transgender.
Last year the Salvation Army reached an agreement not to proselytize or hold employee to any religious standards where they are receiving federal or state funding. According to the Huffington Post,
In 2010 a settlement was reached that barred the organization from proselytizing when working under a public contract, but the settlement denied any workplace discrimination and dismissed other "lesser" charges. The NYCLU appealed and continued to fight to address all the charges of violations of the U.S. Constitution.

This week the Salvation Army caved, and a new settlement has been reached, a settlement that upholds the separation of church and state and will no longer allow the organization to hold those they serve or those they employee to any religious standards while receiving taxpayer dollars. The organization will also pay $450,000 to two of the plaintiffs who were wrongfully terminated.
The Salvation Army receives millions in federal funding, around $188 million in New York alone, to run its homeless shelters, soup kitchens and after-school programs. Around 300 New York employees are paid with federal funds, according to the NYCLU.
Now the question is will they still ban trans women from women’s shelters and trans men from men’s shelters in light of the HUD guidelines about sheltering trans people which reads,
A recipient that operates a sex-segregated or sex-specific program should assign a beneficiary to the group or service which corresponds to the gender with which the beneficiary identifies, with the following considerations. In deciding how to house a victim, a recipient that provides sex-segregated housing may consider on a case-by-case basis whether a particular housing assignment would ensure the victim’s health and safety. A victim’s own views with respect to personal safety deserve serious consideration. The recipient should ensure that its services do not isolate or segregate victims based upon actual or perceived gender identity. A recipient may not make a determination about services for one beneficiary based on the complaints of another beneficiary when those complaints are based on gender identity.
In other words, we should be housed in the facility of our gender identity and if someone complains about us we should not penalized.

A Sorority That Is Breaking New Ground

With all the news about frats misbehaving here is a sorority that welcomes diversity…
UT’s first LGBT-inclusive sorority aims to tackle queer social issues
The Daily Texan
Published on March 10, 2015
By Zainab Calcuttawala

UT students established a campus colony of the national sorority Gamma Rho Lambda this semester — the first queer-focused and transsexual-inclusive women’s Greek society at the University, according to the organization’s leadership.

The sorority aims to combat issues regarding the status of queer women in mainstream society and within the LGBT community, Lauren Ferguson, president of the colony and art history and English senior, said. As part of the three-semester colonization process, the organization’s leaders recruited nine members this semester for the Alpha class and will start taking pledges in the fall.
“There are a lot of really awesome women’s or LGBT organizations [on campus], but they are either really specifically for, say, LGBT women of color or they are non-trans-inclusive,” Ferguson said. “One of the tenants of [Gamma Rho Lambda] is that no one is excluded, and the only requirement is that you identify as a woman. A lot of the feminism movement and the LGBT community does not want to include trans-women into the queer spectrum because there is a lot of transphobia within [those communities] as well.”
But everything is not rosy…
Fisher-Gariby said the colony anonymously received hate mail during the early period of its formation, even though the University community has mostly welcomed the sorority.
University of Texas has had a history of discrimination, Sigma Alpha Epsilon is being investigated for the same racist conduct as happened at University of Oklahoma, so it should be interesting to see how the campus accepts a LBT sorority.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

An Incident

A trans woman in western Massachusetts was attacked earlier this week while on a first date.

For many of us we never thought twice about dating but once we transition it is a whole new world. A world that we are a stranger to, there are a few basic safety tips when going on a first date.

  • Don't give out too much personal information. Don’t be the first person to give out their phone number. If he doesn’t want to give it, it might be a warning sign.
  • Meet in a public place. A coffee house is a good place for a first date or a cinema, a bowling ally, a restaurant or a bar
  • Drive yourself there, don’t let him give you a ride.
  • Have another person present when your date arrives. A friend or someone you trust be there and then they can leave when he arrives (That way your friend will know what he looks like).
  • Have another person know you agenda.
  • Know when to bail out. If the person does feel right ask a store employee to walk you to your car and keep an eye out to see if he is following you.
  • Have a friend call you while you are on the date and have safe words (i.e. if you say the word “work” you are in trouble).
  • Don't allow him to make/handle your drink in any way.
  • Stay sober.
  • Get to know him, hobbies, sports, his friends, etc.
  • When you leave check out your surroundings.
  • Lastly, when you get home call your friend and let them know you are OK.

These may sound like a lot of dumb things to do but as the trans woman found out the hard way, there are a lot of predators out there and don’t let yourself be one of the names that we read on November 20th.