Sunday, May 31, 2015

Promoting Intercourse… A Conversation About The Transgender Community

I am participating in Trans*forming the Dialogue, Simmons College’s Online MSW Program’s campaign to promote an educational conversation about the transgender community. By participating in this campaign, I will be offering my perspective on what TO ask and what NOT to ask trans*people.

Trans issues are the topics de jour and as social workers we are required to have an understanding of the culture of the communities that we serve and part of that understanding is knowing what questions to ask and what not to ask.

Social work covers a number of disciplines and is usually divided into micro which is working with individuals or groups and macro which focuses on communities and organizations, my concentration is in Community Organizing.

First on my list of what NOT to ask is if they are trans* it is not relevant. When would you ask another member of a minority community if they are minority? Probably only when it necessary on a form or necessary for their healthcare, the same is true about trans* people. It is permissible to ask what pronouns they prefer, some may use he or she, while others may use “ze” and “zie” while others may prefer using “they” and “them.”

The same thing is true about their surgeries don’t ask unless it is pertinent to your questions, if you are doing an intake form for emergency housing knowing if they have had Gender Confirming Surgery is not important. HUD requires a homeless shelter to house trans people in the shelter of their gender identity. However, if you must ask their surgical status let them know why you need to ask them about it.

Another DON’T is learning about the trans* community from your client. We do not want to hear “You’re my first trans client. Can you tell me…” we don’t want to be your teacher, so do your homework before you get your first trans* client walks in the door.

I work with a group of non-profits and state agencies to help training senior centers, long term care facilities on the needs of the elder LGBT community. We arranged training for an agency that helps individuals to live at home, a couple of days after the training we received an email from a case worker,
Yesterday I met my first transgender person in the line of work. Both the case manager and myself felt prepared to advocate and were comfortable with the issues that presented themselves.
Are you under HIPAA? Then DON'T divulge a client’s transgender status or if they are transgender because doing so might be a HIPAA violation! Gender Dysphoria is a medical diagnosis (Look it up in the DSM) it is protected under HIPAA statues.

I do not have many “DOs” because they are all apply to every client, do treat everyone with respect and dignity.

DO understand like many of your clients this maybe the first time that they had a need for a social worker, for many trans* people when we transition we may find ourselves unemployable or working at jobs under our skill level. We may find ourselves homeless for the first time or we maybe are victim of violence or faced discrimination for the first time. They might be accessing social services for the first time and do not know their way around in the system.

Awhile back I had a Latino client who is in her early twenties walk into the clinic where I volunteer; she had just come out to her family and they threw her out of the house. She is couch surfing with friends, and was unable to find a job She didn’t know how to change her documentation and she needed to desperately to change them. (DO you know the procedures for changing driver license, Social Security information, Medicare, and Medicaid gender markers in your state?) So I helped her with the forms and contacted a case worker to help her with intake forms and other programs available to her (she has since found a job but is still in need of housing and food assistance).

Lastly I would say know the law! I did training at a homeless shelter for their case workers last week and when I got to the part in the training about state and federal laws, all their jaws dropped and they looked at one and other. It seems that they had a trans* woman in the men’s shelter and they had no idea that they were breaking both state and federal law. DO know if your state has protections for sexual orientation and gender identity/expression? If you do not know and research it, and if they do not have legal protection for LGBT people, what can you do to help pass the law? As a social worker one of the items in the NASW Code of Ethics is “Social and Political Action.”

One of the most rewarding experiences was when after working with a client to help change her documentation, and giving her therapist sample letters for surgery was getting a phone call from her that she has gotten an appointment to see a surgeon for her GCS.

A couple of resources:
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standard of Care v7

Creating Equal Access to Quality Health Care for Transgender Patients: Transgender-Affirming Hospital Policies

A Night At The Movies

Back in 2002 when I was just putting my toe outside to test the waters I went to what was called then “Gay and Lesbian Film Festival” and I wrote about it in my Geocities Blog,
A night out at the movies. Went to the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival last night, which runs for nine nights at Trinity's College Cine Studio in in Hartford, it featured five films. Four of them were shorts, "Do You Take This Man", "Scar", "Size Them Up" and "Blue Haven" and the other was a full length movie "The Trip". The theme for "Blue Horizons" was a transsexual skateboarder who needed money for her operation. All were enjoyable except "Scar" that was a little too esoteric and ethereal for my taste. The featured film was a love story that was very good and very poignant.
Before the movies, I had three friends over for a spaghetti dinner. At the movie theater we meet up with four other members from COS, we had our own little tranny [the old days before it went out of style] corner of the theater (Which I feel is nice, because we add the "T" in the GLBT. It lets them know that we are here and a part of the community.). After the movies they had a reception buffet and we stayed for a little while. I got home around midnight.
It is now called the Out Film CT but they still have a reception on opening night after the movies but this year for the first time in a long time I didn’t go to opening night because I went to a banquet instead. CLARO had their annual banquet and they were honoring a friend so I attended that instead.

I like opening night because of the reception, now that I’m out it is like a class reunion because there are so many people from the LGBT community that I know who attend it.

Tonight I am going to see…
Photo by Deja
Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story
Christopher Beck is a former U.S. Navy SEAL who embarks on a new mission as Kristin Beck. In 2013, a year and a half after retirement, Kristin came out publicly on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. Many friends, colleagues and family were taken by surprise. The American ideals she protected while at war are now given a whole new meaning as she lives her life truthfully as a transgender woman.
And the shorts are Coming Out, Chance, and Captive and the first is a German movie, then a U.S.
movie and the short is an Australian movie.

But right now I am getting ready to go to brunch with Kristin Beck. As I said “so many people from the LGBT community that I know who attend…” and I was invited to get a group of trans friends and allies together for the brunch. She is going to do a Q&A session after her movie, she arrived yesterday, and the director of the film festival thought it would be nice to treat her to a brunch. I don’t know if I will be showing her the sights around Hartford this afternoon but I was asked for a list places to take her.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saturday 9: California Nights

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: California Nights (1967)

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) Lesley Gore premiered this song on an episode of Batman. She played Pussycat, the protegee of Catwoman. (That explains her outfit in the video.) How many of Batman's nemeses can you name?
None, I probably only watched to first Batman movie many, many years ago.

2) At least five actors have played The Caped Crusader already (Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale) and Ben Affleck will play him in 2016's Batman vs. Superman. Who is your favorite Batman? (If any Batmen were inadvertently omitted, Sam apologizes.)
See above. I only watched the Adam West Batman.

3) Unlike most superheroes, Batman doesn't have any superpowers. This Saturday, you're more fortunate. We're bestowing any superpower on you that you want. Which would you like?
Hmm… the power to settle arguments peacefully.

4) Though she's singing of warm California nights, Lesley Gore was a New Yorker, born in Brooklyn and, in February of this year, dying in Manhattan. Which coast have you spent more time on, the West Coast or the East Coast?
Well since I live only 40 miles from the Atlantic ocean (well technically Long Island Sound) it is kind of obvious.

5) Not many people know that while she was making records, Lesley was also a student at Sarah Lawrence and graduated with her BA in 1968. What's something we would be surprised to know about you?
That I am quite shy.

6) In 1967, when this song was popular, the best selling new camera in the United States was the new Polaroid Swinger. Think about the most recent photo you took. Did you use a camera, a tablet, or a phone?
It was a camera.
I'm with the mayor of Hartford at a banquet last night, his spouse was in my classes at grad school.

7) The big fashion trend of 1967 was bright tights, in shades like Hot Pink, Shock Orange and Grass Green. Tell us about something you wore when it was trendy but now you look back and think, "Oh, God, that was awful!"
It was back in the mid-eighties during the height of the leisure suit craze. The grooms were dressed in yellow leisure suits with high heel shoes. We looked like canaries so we taped yellow beaks to our noses.

8) In 1967, drivers complained about "gas wars." The price  was unpredictable and would rise and fall, day by day, as much as 30¢ per gallon. How much does it cost you to fill up your tank today?

9) Random question: Are there dishes in your kitchen sink right now?
Yes and I won’t go into details

Friday, May 29, 2015


Always a controversial topic, what teams do trans children play on. Actually the answer is quite simple, the team of their gender identity. The Bangor Daily News has an article about that topic today,
Maine among first states with transgender sports participation policy
By By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

By March 2013, Maine was one of a handful of states across the country with a transgender participation policy after its approval by the the general membership of the Maine Principals’ Association, which oversees interscholastic sports in the state.

“At that time, Colorado was in the process of putting together a policy and several New England states, including Connecticut and Vermont and us, started to have the conversation about getting in front of this issue,” said Durost, the Maine Principals’ Association’s executive director.
A little ways down on my blog I have a link to the “CT CHRO Guidelines for Schools on Gender Identity and Expression” and it says,
Question: What sports and gym classes should students be in?
Answer: Transgender students should be permitted to participate in sex-segregated athletic activities based on their gender identity. Denying students such an opportunity is likely to result in their inability to participate in sports and gym programs altogether and risks exposing the school to liability under the law. Schools are reminded that physical education programs including gym classes and school teams are educational opportunities and critical to developing optimal student health, self-esteem and well-being. To the extent that they are also competitive activities, students enjoy a range of athletic benefits based on their individual attributes (height, speed, agility, etc.). There is no educationally sound or principled justification for denying transgender students athletic opportunities and no empirical reason to believe transgender students have any particular athletic advantage because of their ability to participate based on their gender identity rather than on their assigned birth sex.
In Connecticut the process is straight forward, it is based on the child’s gender identity but it Maine it seems a little convoluted.
Under the Maine policy, a student and-or parent or guardian may notify the school administrator or athletic administrator that the student has a consistent gender identity different than the birth-assigned gender or gender listed on the student’s registration records and desires to participate in activities in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity.

The school then requests a hearing with the Maine Principals’ Association Gender Identity Equity Committee, which consists of four present or former high school principals and assistant principals and may also include a medical professional with experience in gender identity health care and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health standards of care.
A confidential hearing is held within seven business days of the request, and the Gender Identity Equity panel will grant the student’s request to participate unless it is convinced the student’s claim to be transgender is not bona fide or that allowing the student to compete on a single-sex team consistent with his or her gender identity likely would give the student-athlete an unfair athletic advantage or pose an unacceptable risk of physical injury to other student-athletes.
I really don’t like the idea of a panel, how are they going to know what the child is feeling and what child would fake being trans just to get on the girl’s team. What student would want to have to live as a girl just to get on the girl’s team?

“Lady Valor”

Tonight begin the OutFilm Festival; nine days of LGBT films, the Hartford Courant said this about the festival,
"While You Weren't Looking" is one of the films to be shown at this year's Connecticut LGBT Film Festival, which will be at Cinestudio, at Trinity College in Hartford, from May 29 to June 6. Ten feature films and two shorts blocks will be shown over the festival's nine-day run.

The feature films in the festival include documentaries about Olympic star Greg Louganis; a transgender child and transwomen in the military; dramas set in Mexico, Thailand, Germany and Venezuela; a Dutch gay parenthood comedy; Robin Williams' last unreleased dramatic role; and a closing-night screening of the 1998 Studio 54 homage "54" starring Mike Myers, Ryan Phillippe and Salma Hayek.
Documentaries include "Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story," which tells the story of a transgender former Navy SEAL and shows that transwomen in the military are not uncommon; "Back on Board: Greg Louganis," which tells of the Olympic star's triumphs, trials and tragedies; and "In the Turn," the story of a Canadian transchild who is embraced by a roller derby team made up of lesbians and transwomen.
This year’s trans movie is "Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story" on Sunday night. I am always disappointed that they have so few trans movies, however, I understand why they don’t, in the past when they did have a trans night there were only about two dozen people in the audience. If there is no support for trans night it does make sense to have one, their attendance is greater when they show gay or lesbians movies.

One of the things that I enjoy is the opening short films. Some of them leave you laughing, some of them leave you sad, and some of them leaving you scratching your head wondering what it was about.

What I like is the opening night party that is after the feature movie; I meet so many people that I know, it is a who’s who of the LGBT world. But unfortunately I will not be able to attend the party this year because I will be at a banquet; CLARO is having their banquet that night honoring a friend.

On Sunday I am going to a brunch that the festival organizers are having for Kristin Beck who will be speaking after the movie Sunday night. I helped organize the brunch by contacting the various LGBT organizations in the area and I don’t know if I have been volunteered to entertain her Sunday afternoon before the showing of her film.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Same Ol’ Trash (Part 2)

This morning I wrote about Bailey and Vilain Op-Ed on Conversion Therapy in the LA Times, this afternoon I’m writing about the rebuttals to their Op-Ed. The first of the two rebuttals are,
To the editor: Eric Vilain and J. Michael Bailey correctly warn about the limits of our knowledge about children who socially transition to another gender before puberty, but they wrongly conclude that we shouldn't condemn conversion therapy for these children.

Older studies lumped together transgender-identified children with a larger group of children with gender nonconforming behavior but not necessarily cross-gender identity. We can't conclude from these studies that transgender children could grow up to be well-adjusted as boys.

The strong cross-gender identity and patterns of thinking of some of these children are being studied by academics such as the University of Washington's Kristina Olson as well as by a collaborative of pediatric experts at several university medical centers, so our knowledge base is bound to increase with time.

What do we know now? We have much knowledge of the harm of conversion therapy in children. The consensus of experts of the World Professional Assn. for Transgender Health (WPATH) is that conversion therapy for gender nonconforming children is harmful.
Therefore, WPATH's most recent Standards of Care states, “Treatment aimed at trying to change a person's gender identity and expression … is no longer considered ethical.”

Dan Karasic, MD, San Francisco
The writer, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco, is a WPATH board member.

To the editor: If the authors have ever spent an hour with a young child sobbing in their office, and if they have ever witnessed the remarkable transformation from distress and anxiety to happiness and well-being when these children are listened to and allowed to transition to the gender they know themselves to be, they might think twice about putting the decision in the parents' hands rather than in the child's.

As for the research statistics about the number of children who by adolescence “desist” from their early diagnosis of gender dysphoria, I would ask the authors, “Don't you know the difference between an apple and an orange?”

As reviewed by the team of researchers in 2013 who originally collected the data on desisters and persisters in the Netherlands, from early on the persisters are not the same group of children as the desisters and should never be lumped together. The apples, the persisters, are our youngest cohort of transgender folks, showing up early in childhood, saying “I am a girl” rather than “I wish I was a girl,” and being insistent, persistent and consistent in their declarations.

We can find them if we look for them, and the worst thing we could do for them is deny who they are and try to force them to be someone else.

Diane Ehrensaft, Oakland
The writer, a clinical psychologist, is director of mental health at the UC San Francisco Child and Adolescent Gender Center.
The following day, the LA Times published two more letters of rebuttals, this time from parents of trans children. They also condemned the Bailey and Vilain Op-Ed. The first parent said in part…
I am the mother of a transgender boy. We found out soon after he went through female puberty, which was very stressful for him. It took us a year of therapy to allow him to go on hormone blockers, and another year for testosterone. I regret those years; so much time was wasted. I wish I could go back and change them.

Now my son is a happy, healthy, fully transitioned boy. He knew he was a boy when he was 12; he saw a television show that had a transgender character, and he finally understood what he was going through.
And the other parent echoed her thoughts,
We need to create and foster a world in which transgender children can feel safe in the true expression of their gender identities. That will not happen if, as in the op-ed article, questionable statistics and conclusions are presented as truth. This will unfortunately only foster the rejection and fear of what some people do not wish to understand.
As longitudinal research comes in I think we will see that by allowing a child to explore their gender creates positive outcomes. And that by forcing a child into a mold creates more stress and might lead to suicidal thoughts and destructive behavior.

The key is,
Behavior in children.

The Same Ol’ Trash (Part 1)

Last week in the LA Times, J. Michael Bailey and Eric Vilain wrote an Op-Ed about conversion therapy.
What should you do if your son says he's a girl?

It seems you have two choices. You could insist that he is a boy and try to put an end to behaviors such as cross-dressing and saying that he is a girl. The alternative is to let him be a girl: grow long hair, choose a new name, dress as he (or “she”) pleases, and when it is time, obtain the necessary hormones and surgeries for a female body.

As scientists who study gender and sexuality, we can tell you confidently: At this point no one knows what is better for your son.
Perhaps the most influential account is that gender dysphoric children have the minds and brains of the other sex, adult transgenderism is inevitable, and early transition to the other sex is the only humane option.

But this narrative is clearly wrong in one respect. Gender dysphoric children have not usually become transgender adults. For example, the large majority of gender dysphoric boys studied so far have become young men content to remain male. More than 80% adjusted by adolescence.
So far what they wrote is true, but then they write that,
As more and more parents let their gender dysphoric boys live as girls, the percentage of persisters may increase dramatically.

But, again, we don't yet know whether it's better to encourage adjustment or persistence.

(We have focused on gender dysphoric boys because their parents have contacted us much more often than parents of similar girls. Moreover, many fewer gender dysphoric girls have been studied scientifically. The same basic facts appear to be true for both sexes, however.)
They start on shaky ground when they write “…we don't yet know whether it's better to encourage adjustment or persistence.” They go on to say,
President Obama is correct to oppose sexual orientation conversion therapy, which is usually offered because of religious objections to homosexuality, and which doesn't work. But therapy to help a pre-adolescent child overcome gender dysphoria can be entirely different. Some professionals who do this therapy have no moral issue with transgenderism but are trying to help children avoid later medical stress. That is a reasonable goal, even if it is not the only possible goal
On this afternoon post I will have the rebuttals to Bailey and Vilain.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

View From The Other Side

In the last couple of years the courts have ruled that discrimination based on gender identity and expression is a form of sex discrimination and violates Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. As one judge put it, discrimination when you change from one religion to another religion is still discrimination based on religion and discrimination when you change gender is still sex discrimination.

A result of these court cases the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, the EEOC, HUD, and other federal agencies have written policies prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. However, these policies do not sit well with the conservatives and libertarians,
Feds Blackmail Virginia’s Largest School District Into Transgender Policy
A case in Virginia demonstrates how far the Obama administration will go to force its sexual ideology—regardless of self-governance, local control, and childish innocence
The Federalist
By Dustin Siggins
May 27, 2015

Since 2009, the Obama administration has expanded upon the power-grabbing traditions of its predecessors. Whether it’s with health care—Lyndon B. Johnson would be proud—the Environmental Protection Agency—Richard Nixon’s creation—or changing the definition of “religious liberty” to fit its ideologies, the administration has overstepped its constitutional bounds in ways almost too numerous to count.
Which brings us to May 7, and the Fairfax County, Virginia school board meeting where board members bowed to U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) bullying: Unless the board approved special treatment for transgendered students and teachers, the state’s largest school district would lose $42 million in federal funding.
Well first off as I said it was the courts that was the driving force and many of the judges were Bush appointees and second requiring everyone to be treated equally is not “special treatment” but allowing certain people to be exempt from the laws because of their religious beliefs is “special treatment.”

The article goes on to say,
Last April, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights decided that gender identity is a protected class, and that Title IX, which only bars sexual discrimination, will now be treated as though it ‘extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.’

But neither the U.S. Constitution nor prior case law requires school boards to make these changes, said Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Casey Mattox, whose children attend Fairfax schools. Citing a recent court case in a short presentation to the board, “There’s absolutely nothing behind [these federal demands],” said Mattox. “They’re bluffing.”
Some of the cases that shaped the U.S. DoEd decisions are the Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins Supreme Court case where the Supreme Court ruled that the definition of “sex” also included appearance. In the Western New England University School of Law article “'On the Basis of Sex': Using Title IX to Protect Transgender Students from Discrimination in Education” they write about the case,
The Supreme Court eventually rejected the view that Congress meant sex discrimination to only mean discrimination against one's biological sex." In Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, the Supreme Court considered the case of Ann Hopkins, a female accountant who was passed over for promotion based at least in part on the partners' view that she was too aggressive for a woman. The Court recognized that because aggressiveness is a trait the partners require for promotion, their objections to Hopkins's aggressiveness placed her in an "intolerable and impermissible catch . . . ." By agreeing that "Title VII lifts women out of this bind," the Court interpreted sex discrimination to include not just discrimination on one's sex in the sense of being "biologically" male or female, but also discrimination on the basis of how one presents one's gender relative to one's "biological" sex.
The article cites another case that specifically pertained to a trans person that case was Smith v. City of Salem where a trans person was fired when she transitioned,
Applying Price Waterhouse, a federal court of appeals determined that Smith's case was actionable under Title VII. Specifically, the court drew a parallel between an employer "who discriminates against women because, for instance, they do not wear dresses or makeup" and employers "who discriminate against men because they do wear dresses or makeup, or otherwise act femininely. ... If the former is an example of sex discrimination, as Price Waterhouse says, so too is the latter, and the fact that Smith's gender nonconformity could also be labeled transsexuality did not make the analogy to Price Waterhouse any less persuasive.
Then there was the Schroer v. Billington where she was fired from the Library of Congress after she told them she was transitioning.

So when the author of the Federalist writes that “the administration has overstepped its constitutional bounds” what the administration is doing is setting policy based on what the courts have ruled.

Making A Difference.

Yesterday went down on the positive column.

I received my workshop evaluations for the NASW conference at the beginning of the month. One wrote,
"You are a very powerful speaker! I wanted to learn more and you helped me with my learning journey. I will continue to learn.
And another wrote,
Coming from someone who has little knowledge of the trans culture you provided and excellent overview, thank you. I also found out that I knew more than I thought.
Also the LGBT Elder committee that I am on received an email from a person who attended a SAGE training that we organized,
"Yesterday I met my first transgender person in the line of work (that I can recall in 29 years). Both the care manager and myself felt prepared to advocate and were comfortable with the issues that presented themselves."
I do four or five trainings a month, the next one is at a hospital next week, and I am also doing training with a number of non-profits and HUD for homeless shelters. We are making a difference; shelters are start getting the word that they have to go by the person’s gender identity and not what is between their legs. There is pushback, but they are beginning to see that they are in the minority.

Not everyone is cut out to be an advocate for a number of reasons, but all make a difference just by being ourselves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Do We Have The Right…

…To use another culture’s lexicon?

Can we use “Two Spirit” or “Hijra” when we are not part of their culture?
Dancing to Eagle Spirit Society
By Sandra Laframboise and Michael Anhorn

The two-spirited person is a native tradition that researchers have identified in some of the earliest discoveries of Native artifacts. Much evidence indicates that Native people, prior to colonization, believed in the existence of cross-gender roles, the male-female, the female-male, what we now call the two-spirited person.

In Native American culture, before the Europeans came to the America's, "two-spirit" referred to an ancient teaching. This type of cross-gender identity has been documented in over 155 tribes across Native North America (Roscoe 1988).
Just reading this it sound like “Two Spirit” refers to transgender people but it is hard to transfer ideas from one culture to another, there are so many subtle nuances that we may not understand.    

On the website Ask A White Person they say in the article “Can white people use the term ‘Two Spirit’?“
As you see from these definitions, Two Spirit is very specific to native and indigenous people. White europeans committed one of the greatest ethnic cleansings in human history when they came to North America and killed as many of the people indigenous to this land as they could. The term Two Spirit cannot be disconnected from tribal life. Additionally, most tribes have their own specific word in their language for two spirit people. First nations people in North America have come together around this term for themselves.
So I say no, we should not use the “Two Spirit” to describe a trans person because we cannot embrace or even understand the entire meaning of the words.

Little Secrets…

Those of us in the LGBT are good at keeping secrets; we never know how others will react to the truth. We worry about our family, we worry our friends, we worry about our jobs, and we worry just walking down the street. There is so much discrimination directed against that it makes many of us leery about coming out of the closet and if you are in the public spotlight we are afraid of any light shining on us.

Today would have been the 64th birthday of Sally Ride,
Sally Ride’s Secret: Why the First American Woman in Space Stayed in the Closet
By Lynn Sherr
May 30, 2014

Sally Ride was very good at keeping secrets. As the first American woman in space, she protected countless confidences during a lifetime of public appearances. During her post-NASA years, she regularly wrote and reviewed classified government material on high-profile commissions. When she died in 2012 of pancreatic cancer, a diagnosis hidden from all but a tiny handful of family and close friends, I started unraveling the mysteries for her biography. She was a brilliant, mischievous enigma.

But the most surprising revelation was the one that came at the end of her obituary: that for 27 years, she’d been in a loving relationship with another woman, Tam O’Shaughnessy. The collective gasp from an admiring public reverberated for days. A small minority complained that she’d squandered an opportunity to speak out for their rights. A few spouted homophobic hatred. Selfishly, as her pal of more than three decades, I was stunned; hurt, that I did not know Sally fully, that I could not celebrate her happiness with Tam. Then I thought, why does her sexual orientation matter? Finally, I got it.

Never before had the words astronaut and lesbian appeared in the same sentence. Google them today, and you get more than half a million hits, all pegged to Sally Ride. Most salute her as an icon with an added, posthumous message of hope for the LGBTQ community. So why the secrecy?
Back in 1978 it was a different world, LGBT people we still piranhas, in many places we were still being arrested for being ourselves and living deeply in the closet.

She was highly educated but she was only one of 8000 applicants that wanted to go into space, I can only surmise that at that time she was so deep in the closet or in denial. If you do the math she was living with her partner Tam in 1985 before she divorced her husband in 1987 the same she left NASA.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Let Us Remember…

All those who have served in the defense of our country, but let us also remember those who must keep silent because if they reveal their true gender they will not be able to serve. As people cerebrate that gay and lesbian servicemembers we seem to be lost in the celebration, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy with 21 other senators issued a press release that said in part…
"The repeal of DADT represented great progress toward eradicating a significant barrier to formal equality, but the military is not yet an equitable environment for gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members. The absence of formal equal opportunity protections not only undermines foundational American principles of fairness and equality, it also presents an unneeded risk to national security by negatively impacting the morale and readiness of our all-volunteer force. Conversely, an environment in which all service members can defend their country with honor and personal integrity, and without fear of discrimination, strengthens the bonds of shared sacrifice and maintains good order and discipline,"wrote the Senators.
It would have been a perfect opportunity to make a statement about changing the policy for trans servicemembers.

The Advocate in an op-ed, Gay Purple Heart Recipient Says 'Mission Not Accomplished' called for our inclusion,
It has been five years since President Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but the military remains exclusionary. While we made huge strides in allowing LGB individuals to serve openly, we didn’t, as we say in the military, “accomplish the mission.” Our nation still does not allow our transgender brothers and sisters to wear the uniform and serve our country. Since my coming out in 2007, I've met many transgender people who served in the military but had to hide their gender identity. As a nation, we will never know just how many of our brothers and sisters died while still living and feeling the oppression of the closet; the fact that this is still happening is unconscionable. As I often say in most of my public speeches, we still have work to do. Aside from fixing the ban on out transgender military personnel, we still need to make sure the National LGBT Veterans Memorial gets completed so we can best remember those in our community who worked so hard to preserve our way of life.
I know perhaps a dozen trans servicemembers who served in silence it is time for them to get recognition for their military service.

I Have Mixed Feelings...

About photographs of trans kids, the Huffington Post has an article about cross-gender children,
'Inside Out: Portraits Of Cross-Gender Children' Beautifully Documents Transgender Kids
By JamesMichael Nichols
Posted: 05/24/2015

For the past 12 years, Dutch photographer Sarah Wong has documented the lives and experiences of a group of children who have transitioned -- or are in the process of transitioning -- to live as their authentic selves.

Wong captured these images of children involved with VU University in Amsterdam, where they engaged in a type of therapy that aimed to support children who experience gender dysphoria. A number of these kids took or have taken puberty blockers in order to delay the effects of puberty until they decide how they want to live their lives. However, the photos were taken at the kids' homes, schools, ballet classes -- spaces where they felt most comfortable.
Even though he had the permission of the parents I am still leery,
The Huffington Post: Who are the children captured in these photographs?
Sarah Wong: These are Dutch, cross-gender children aged 5 up to 17. I photographed them since 2003 by request of their parents. I worked as a photographer in health care and had just finished a photo book about a children's hospital. We met, and the cross-gender children immediately touched my heart.
The photos are great, I like the second photo of the freckled girl, but I don’t think that their photos should be on the web. Maybe I am old fashion but I think the kids should be giving their privacy.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I Wouldn’t Say That…

“Jamaica is well-known historically as a global leader on human rights…” when the killing of LGBT people continues unabated.

That was opening of a Jamaica Observers article on the President Obama’s visit to Jamaica when he said that they have to improve the way they treat LGBT people.
When President Obama visited Jamaica last month, he challenged us all, saying: "You're more eager for progress that comes not by holding down any segment of society, but by holding up the rights of every human being, regardless of what we look like or how we pray or who we love."
Through public and private dialogue, we engage diplomatically and with full respect for the sovereignty of Jamaica on all issues that impact historically marginalised populations, including women and girls, persons with disabilities, and the LGBT community. And we will continue to do so with everyone -- including those with whom we disagree -- via respectful dialogue and debate. I would hope that we all agree that violence against another person is never acceptable.
Anyone who attends the Transgender Day of Remembrance knows that many of the names are from Caribbean, Central, and South America. Those who fall outside the gender norms are persecuted, especially those who fall outside the male spectrum.

It Should Never Be Put To A Vote

Human rights by definition are inherent to all human beings and should never be voted on.

That being said, I am glad with the outcome of the vote on marriage equality in Ireland.
Ireland votes for gay marriage
May 24, 2015

People living in the Republic of Ireland have voted in favour of same sex marriage.

It's the first country in the world to hold a vote on the issue.

Up until now two men or two women were not allowed to marry each other but now that's changed.

Almost two million people voted, with 62% voting yes.
It is nice to see so many people realize that people should not be denied a basic human right because they are different. Most of the time human rights are voted down by those in power. We would probably still have slavery if Congress didn’t act, we probably would still have segregation if Congress did step up and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and women would probably not have the right to vote when they did if Congress didn’t give them the right to vote.

So I am very happy to see the people in Ireland vote for marriage equality, because how many times here in the U.S. did we see ballot initiatives pass state constitutional amendments banning marriage equality.

Update 11:00AM

Ireland still does not allow trans people to change their birth certificates.
Una Mullally: Transgender rights are human rights and new Bill needs to recognise this
While the Gender Recognition Bill is welcome, there are huge shortcomings
Irish Times
January 26, 2015

Last week, the Seanad debated the Gender Recognition Bill. Ireland is the only country in the EU that has no provision for legal gender recognition, so if we’re going to make a Bill, let’s make it a good one. There’s an incredible amount of ignorance surrounding trans issues. Most people grapple with the basic vocabulary. But at its simplest, transgender refers to people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from the sex assigned to them at birth.

The Bill goes some way to making trans people visible in a society which has up until now rendered them invisible. It’ll provide the formal recognition of trans people, a gender recognition certificate, that will allow trans people to change their birth certificate, the foundational document of all of our lives. Dr Lydia Foy, an Irish heroine, has been fighting for nearly 20 years for her gender identity to be recognised, beginning legal proceedings in 1997. In 2007, the High Court ruled that Irish law in her case was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Like much positive social change in Ireland, it takes brave people to put their head above the parapet to get things done. Still, trans people wait. The Bill has yet to be enacted. At the moment, there is no legislation that protects trans people, and now is the time to change that.
Let’s hope that with this vote on marriage equality that the Irish legislature gets off their butts and passes the bill.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday 9: Battle Hymn of the Republic

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Battle Hymn of the Republic
Every Saturday I take time off from written on serious topics to have some fun…

(From the archives)

Memorial Day was introduced to honor the men and women who died while serving the in the United States Armed Forces. We want to make sure that message is not forgotten this weekend.

1) This recording was made live at St. Patrick's Cathedral, during Sen. Robert Kennedy's funeral. (Hear it here.) While both of Bobby's older brothers were decorated war heroes, he served too -- enlisting in the Navy in 1943. Are you a veteran? Are there veterans in your family? (We are grateful and want to hear about it.)
My father, he served in the coastal defense force during the height of the German U-Boats attacks off of our coast and then after VE Day he was transferred to the Pacific as an AA battalion.

2) Memorial Day also kicks off the summer season. What's your favorite picnic food?
Lobster, New England clam chowder, corn on the cob, steamers clams, and beer. A local store has lobster for $2.99/lb

3) Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.

4) When was the last time you had your hair cut or trimmed?
A year ago, it is time for another hair cuts.

5) Crazy Sam runs on Dunkin'. Are you loyal to a particular brand of coffee?
DD, they know me by name there at Dunkin’ Donuts

6) If money was no object, what home improvement would you like to make this summer? 
A new roof.

7) What was the last thing you bought purely for your own enjoyment?
A projector.

8) When was the last time you rode a bike?
I can’t even remember that far back, probably sometime in the eighties.

9) Sam worries that many of her song selections reflect her decidedly Baby Boomer sensibilities. Is there a song or a performer that you'd like to see featured in a Saturday 9 this summer?
Well I’m a Baby Boomer so I want the Eagles, Queen, the Doobies Brothers, the Allman Brothers, and maybe some folk like the Mamas and Papas, Peter, Paul and Mary, and the Kinston Trio.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Not All Religions Hate Us…

Wow! Have you seen what the Church of England is thinking about doing?
Church of England to consider transgender naming ceremony
Vicar of Lancaster Priory proposes motion for General Synod to consider ceremony to mark a person’s gender transition
The Guardian
By Karen McVeigh
Thursday 21 May 2015

The Church of England is to debate plans to introduce a ceremony akin to a baptism to mark the new identities of Christians who undergo gender transition.

The Rev Chris Newlands, the vicar of Lancaster Priory, has proposed a motion to the General Synod to debate the issue, after he was approached by a young transgender person seeking to be “re-baptised” in his new identity.

The motion, which was passed by Blackburn Diocese last month, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether it should introduce a new service to mark the milestone in the life of a trans person. A spokesperson for the Archbishops’ Council confirmed that the motion had been received, but said it would not be debated imminently.
Wow! That is so cool! I never even thought of that, but it is such a great idea to welcome a trans people to the congregation.

And of course the conservative do not like, according to the Christian Today,
Andrew Symes, of the conservative evangelical group Anglican Mainstream, said: "The Christian faith has always taught that people are created male and female. We speak for the conservative traditional point of view. We are aware there are a number of people who want to change from one gender to another and that's a new thing for the church to deal with. It would be something that would go against the teachings of the church up till now. It would be something that would cause controversy.
It should be interesting to see what happens with this.

Have We Been Thrown Under The Bus Again?

Have you seen the news? The Boy Scouts are thinking about allowing gay leaders and everyone is jumping up and down giving each other high-fives, but nowhere did I see anything at trans scout leaders.
Boy Scout president calls for end to ban on gay leaders
USA Today
By John Bacon
May 21, 2015

The president of the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday called for an end to the group's ban on gay troop leaders.

Robert Gates, a former secretary of Defense, told a meeting of the organization's leadership in Atlanta that "we cannot ignore the social, political and judicial changes taking place in our country."

Gates said he would not ask the board to vote today to drop the ban but said the board must consider the proposal. Even if the board votes to end the ban, Gates said sponsors for each of the 100,000 troops nationwide could set their own rules for their troop's leadership.
Do you see anything about trans scout leaders? Or even trans scouts?

And what did HRC (The “world’s largest LGBT organization”) President Chad Griffin have to say?
Gates' comments also drew partial applause from Human Rights Campaign, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.

"We welcome as a step in the right direction President Gates' announcement that the organization will not revoke the charters of chapters that welcome gay Scout leaders and employees," HRC President Chad Griffin said. "But, as we have said many times previously, half measures are unacceptable, especially at one of America's most storied institutions."
Umm… Mr. Griffin aren’t you forgetting somebody?

Are those tire tracks across our backs?

Meanwhile the Girl Scouts,
Girl Scouts welcomes transgender girls
By Katia Hetter
May 20, 2015

(CNN) Transgender girls are welcome in the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, a stance that has attracted controversy from some conservative groups over the past week.

"Our position is not new," said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the Girl Scouts USA's chief girl expert. "It conforms with our continuous commitment to inclusivity."

The Girl Scouts' guidance on serving transgender girls, on its "Frequently Asked Questions" page, was actually made public four years ago.

"Placement of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority," states the FAQ. "That said, if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe."
And of course the conservatives have blown a gasket, the Christian Post said…
"This means girls in the organization will be forced to recognize and accept transgenderism as a normal lifestyle," the petition states. "Boys in skirts, boys in makeup and boys in tents will become a part of the program. This change will put young innocent girls at risk."
Oh dear! Boys in skirts!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Can You Integrate?

This is something that I have been saying and it is a hard word to avoid using, there really are not many other words that you can use, I have been using integrate instead of passing. Most of the time I am integrated into society, I go about my business and no one knows that I am trans.
Op-ed: I'm a Trans Man Who Doesn't 'Pass' — And You Shouldn't Either
To paraphrase Janet Mock: Trans people aren't 'passing' as men or women. We're being.
The Advocate
By Aiden James Kosciesza
May 20 2015

Out of all the words in the transgender lexicon, “passing” is the one I hate most. And that’s no small feat.
The term “passing,” when applied to transgender people, means being perceived as cisgender while presenting as one’s authentic gender identity. There’s a lot of power in that. When people meet me and assume that I am a cisgender man, I am afforded the privilege of choosing whether I disclose my transgender identity, and when. Many trans* folks pursue this power through clothing choices, hormones, surgery, voice training, or even etiquette lessons, and I’m all for that.
For a few trans women they are fully integrated in to society as a cis woman, for a lot more trans woman they are integrated into society most of the time except when they are under close observation then there are some thing that identify them as trans. It maybe their voice, their body size or type, little clues that categorize them as male. I joke if you can't tell I'm trans, then you need glasses and a hearing aid. While for others they are constantly in the spotlight.
For many of us, the goal of transition is equally balanced between feeling comfortable in our own skin and showing the world who we really are. The problem is that when trans* people use the word “passing” for what we’ve achieved, it diminishes everything that we’re fighting for.

To “pass” for something immediately connotes deception and untruth. Think of plagiarists passing off someone else’s work as their own, a look-alike cousin who could easily pass for his relative, or the mocking lines of Shakespeare’s Portia in Merchant of Venice: “God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.”

To look at trans* people expressing their authentic selves and say that they “pass” for men or women is to diminish their identity by implying that it’s an act. Telling a trans* woman that she “passes” is like saying “You’re not a real woman, but good job faking it.”
It is hard to get away from using “passing” as I write this I am trying to think of another way of saying “Passing Privilege” and I draw a blank, so I tossed it out onto Facebook to see what others come up with.

I know that some trans people will not get this and feel the it is nitpicking, but words have power. It is as the author said “they 'pass' for men or women is to diminish their identity by implying that it’s an act.” I am not passing, I am a woman. I am a woman with a unique history.

Back To The Old Stomping Grounds

I am down in Bridgeport this morning doing training at a homeless shelter, they have a trans resident and they contacted me about doing this training. More and more shelters are getting training, I have been working with a group and we done one training shelter staff in the New Haven area and we also did training at a conference on homelessness in Connecticut.

I grew up just east of the Bridgeport area, along the banks of the Housatonic River, I remember sitting along its banks and watching the water change color, there would be swirls of red and green and yellow. It was like a kaleidoscope of color because of all the chemicals companies up river in Naugatuck and Ansonia. Across the river they made asbestos brake pads and it is now a Superfund site.

So I was going to swing by there to see the old homestead and have lunch at Danny’s Drive-In and my brother is jealous because we used to go there back when we were kids. He used to get hot dogs smothered in sauerkraut and a milk shake. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Down Day…

This morning I wrote about how hard it is to find a job if you are trans, now another down story…
Transgendered Parents Face Uphill Battle For Child Custody and Visitation in Court
Main St.
By Juliette Fairley
May 20, 2015

“It’s never too late to transition,” said Jim Patterson, a human rights and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender civil rights advocate. “It’s never too late to come out of the closet. It’s never too late to tell your mom, your wife, your kids and your friends about your true sexuality.”

However, in some states, sex reassignment can obstruct custody and visitation of children.

“It could create an obstacle to adopting or being the presumed parent of a child who is not one's own offspring but the offspring of one's partner,” said James Dwyer, professor of law at the William & Mary School of Law in Williamsburg, Va.

The legal standard that applies has to do with the best interests of the child.
All it takes is a parent who is vengeful and a judge who is biased and a trans parent might be cut-off from their child.
“Historically society has regarded such persons as mentally-ill and unrestrained in their sexual behavior thus for both reasons posing a danger to children,” Dwyer said. “A co-parent might fear this is harmful to the child and a judge might agree.” 
Here in Connecticut we have very good guidelines to stop this from happening, but in other states we are not so lucky.

Even With Laws

Employment discrimination abound when you are looking for a job, whether it is because of race, age, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, when it comes to getting a job it becomes nearly impossible.

Employers just say it wasn’t because ________ (fill in the blank) but because we found someone more ________ (fill in the blank) and it is so hard to prove discrimination, unless they say something stupid like “We don’t want to your kind.”

I am working with a trans woman to get her support but it all depends on having a job. She is young, bright, intelligent, energetic, has a great work history and she is trans but she cannot find a job. She is either overqualified, unqualified, or we just filled the position (but somehow they keep advertising for the job), or a host of other excuses.

Her documentation doesn’t match her gender identity and that is what I’m working with her to do, navigate the paper jungle. Hopefully, when her documents match her appearance she will be able to find work.

I just want to hug her and tell her everything will be alright, but I don't know if it will be alright. Will she be making her living off the street, or hitch up with someone who is no good or a host of other bad outcomes I don;'t know. I pray she doesn't because she seems like a very nice person.

All the laws in the world will not help you if you can’t get your foot in the door.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Step In The Right Direction

The president has said it and now Oregon has done it.
Oregon’s Bisexual Gov. Bans Conversion Therapy
The country’s first out LGBT governor is also the first to sign a ban on conversion therapy since the White House came out against the practice last month.
By Sunnivie Brydum
May 19 2015

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Monday signed into law House Bill 2307, which bans the use of so-called conversion therapy on minors.

The bill passed the Oregon Senate earlier this month by a vote of 21-3, after passing the House in March. Oregon now joins California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia in outlawing the scientifically discredited therapy, which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The practice, sometimes called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy, has been denounced as ineffective and harmful by every major mental health organization in the nation, and by President Obama and other top federal officials.
Some people here in Connecticut looked into sponsoring a Conversion Therapy bill but they couldn’t find any doctors who practice Conversion Therapy here in Connecticut so it was decided to put it on the back burner until the time that it is needed.

Why Does It Take A Rap On The Head?

It is against Colorado law

It is against federal law

But it still took a complaint filed with the Office of Civil Rights.

According to Fox News in Denver,
BOULDER, Colo. — This summer Boulder Valley School District will be extending staff training to better support transgender and gender questioning students all the way down to elementary schools.

The move comes in response to a local mother who filed a federal civil rights complaint after her children encountered problems at Creekside Elementary.
Kai’s wake-up call happened a year ago. The family fully embraced Elsa as a girl. At the same time, 8-year-old Sky decided not to select a gender, also referred to as gender queer.

“Sky was assigned male at birth but is increasingly saying, ‘Don’t use those male pronouns on me. I haven’t figured this stuff out yet,’” Kai said.

That explanation wasn’t easily understood when the siblings enrolled at Creekside Elementary in February.
Then the bullying started and the school did nothing. The mother tried to get the school to comply with the law but still the school did nothing, so the mother filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights and now the school has seen the light. They have started to train their staff…
“As soon as I put in that complaint (the district) found the funding in two days to train staff,” McKenzie said.

Nowhere, in Connecticut or any other state, nor the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights say anything about only applying to the gender binary, Title IX and the state laws cover gender fluid children as well as those children who conform to the gender binary.

Monday, May 18, 2015

No Way!

Would I use the prefix Mx.
Transgender woman's request to become 'Ms' refused by NatWest
Staff said she could not have her preferred honorific, but could call herself ‘Mx’ instead – an exchange that left her ‘feeling like a fake’. The bank has now apologised and blamed human error
The Guardian
By Kate Lyons
Sunday 17 May 2015

When Lynn, a transgender woman, contacted her bank to ask them to change her prefix on future correspondence from Mr to Ms, she was surprised at their response.
NatWest, which is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, agreed to change her name, but refused to change her title, saying she could remain as “Mr” or change to “Mx (also known as ‘Ms’)” but could not have her preferred honorific – “Ms” – unless she presented a gender recognition certificate (GRC).
Last Wednesday, Lynn received a phone call from the bank to say they had reached a final decision and would not change her title to “Ms” without a GRC – and that if she wanted to take the issue further, she would have to approach the financial ombudsman.
My first thoughts were, why does the bank even care whether it is Mrs., Ms., or Mr.? It is not part of her legal name; nowhere on the probate form does it even have a space for a title. My next thought was, who wants to use Mx, talk about out yourself.

A Blast From The Past! (Part 2)

Why I think going “stealth” is a lot harder than being out.

Whenever I can I attend a photo club at the town’s senior on Friday afternoons and for over a year I have been attending the meetings off and on. For the last month I’ve been busy on Fridays so I haven’t been able to attend the meetings, last Friday I was free and went to the meeting.

When I walked in there were two new members one looked familiar but I couldn't place him. While I was checking my email on my tablet during a lull in the meeting, I received an email from a former co-worker and it dawned on me who the new member was, he was a former co-worker. He was a draftsman who got laid off back in '85 while I was an engineer there; he used to work on the project team that I worked on.

When I blurted out, “I remember you; we used to work together at Electro Mechanics!” I think I was a shock to him as much as he was a shock to me.

Well I guess that I'm probably out to the club now, if they didn’t know before they know now since I won’t be at the next two meetings. Oh well, c'est la vie.

I don’t talk about being trans at the meetings, that is not what I am there for but I don’t hide my past either and as I joke when I'm doing an outreach that if you can’t tell that I’m trans, get a hearing aid and glasses. But can you imagine if someone was “stealth” and this happened to them?

I don’t judge whether you want to live “stealth” or “out” that is your decision to make. But the way I see it you have much more to lose by being back in the closet.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Times Are A Changing (Part 2)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video of a gay couple kissing on the Dodgers Kiss Cam and how everyone in the stadium all clapped and now this about a lavender graduation,
LGBTQ grads at ISU told to 'change the world'
By Lenore Sobota
May 07, 2015

NORMAL — When Barb Dallinger told participants in Wednesday evening's Lavender Graduation at Illinois State University to “go out there and change the world,” it may have sounded familiar to anyone who has attended any graduation.

But this wasn't “any” graduation. It was ISU's first special ceremony set aside to honor lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied graduates.
Twenty-four students participated. They passed a rainbow pride flag, crossed a stage with balloons the color of the rainbow and received a rainbow cord they can wear at the university graduation.
But they are not alone; the University of Connecticut also has a Lavender Graduation at the Rainbow Center. On April 17, they held their graduation which I attended as an alumna.
Lavender Graduation
Each year we honor graduates (undergraduate and graduate students), faculty, staff and departments for their accomplishments beneficial to UConn’s diverse community of gender identities, gender expressions and sexualities… …Each graduate will receive a special stole and rainbow tassel.
A few years ago this would never have happened but now it is happening all around the country

Yes, the times they are a-changin'

An Adventure…

Yesterday I went with a group of senior lesbians on a Fast Track bus ride from the Elmwood Station to Hartford and then we took DASH to the Front Street restaurant for lunch. Two of the group I work with on the LGBT Aging Advocacy committee and went with them to SAGE Senior Center in New York City earlier in the week. While we were on the trip they invited me the bus trip to nowhere.

There were ten of us who met at the station and we took the bus to New Britain and then back to Hartford. The ride from New Britain to Hartford Union Station took on 20 minutes. We then took the free loop bus called DASH to Front St. to eat. The Fast Track ride back from Main St. at the Travelers building to Elmwood station on also took 20 minutes.

We had a nice lunch and we were the only ones there that early so we had a leisurely lunch. Afterwards as we were saying our goodbyes at the Elmwood station they all invited me to come on other outings that they go on and also to their game night that they have once a month at Real Art Ways.

This was the first time that I ever rode a municipal bus and the all-day bus pass was only $3.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday 9: No Myth (1989)

Crazy Sam's Saturday 9: No Myth (1989)
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) The girl in this song is "just looking for someone to dance with." Who was your most recent dance partner?
I can’t even remember that far back.

2) Michael Penn wonders if he'd do better with the ladies if he was Romeo or Heathcliff. What fictional character represents your romantic ideal?
Claire, from Outlander

3) The lyrics refer to "knots I have yet to untie." Do the shoes you're wearing have laces?
Yes, I’m wearing sneakers

4) Name a character from mythology.
Diana, the goddess of the hunt and moon.

5) Michael Penn is the brother of Oscar winner Sean Penn. Give us the title of a Sean Penn movie.
I don’t know any, so I will have to google it.

6) Their father, Leo Penn, was a busy TV director from the 1960s through the 1990s. He specialized in detective shows (Magnum PI and Cannon) and medical shows (Trapper John and Marcus Welby, MD). Are you more likely to watch a program with lots of car chases, or one that's set in a hospital?
Neither I watch shows more like Foyle’s War

7) 1989, the year "No Myth" was popular, is the year of the first HDTV broadcast. Do you watch many shows in "high def?"
I just started to watch some movies in HD.

8) 1989 was also the year The Simpsons premiered. Who is your all-time favorite animated character?
Rocky the squirrel.

9) Random fill-in the blank: If I never had to _wash the dishes_ again, it would be too soon.

Sorry for not answering the comments last week, I was up in New Hampshire opening up the cottage with only a tablet,

Friday, May 15, 2015

Breaking News: Birth Certificate Bill…

Passed in the House last night without a debate with a vote 126 Yeas, 18 Nays, and not voting or absent 7.

Last night before I went out to a LGBT Dinner and Movie at a the Simsbury Senior Center I received an email from Betty Gallo saying that our bill will to be heard that night. I was torn between going to the dinner or rushing up to the capitol but since I was one of the people who suggested the senior centers have LGBT night I figured I should go to the dinner. However, I kept on eye on my email. Then came this brief email... "Debate begins in the House." and I held my breath.

The CT Mirror reported,
An easier path to new ID for transgender persons
By: Mark Pazniokas
May 14, 2015

With little debate, the House of Representatives voted 126 to 18 Thursday night for legislation easing the way for transgender people to legally change their sex on birth certificates, drivers’ licenses and other forms of identification in Connecticut.
“It affects a very small group of people, but it makes a huge difference in their lives,” said Betty Gallo, a long-time lobbyist on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
The Hartford Courant wrote,
"There are some individuals who cannot have the surgery,'' said Rep. Matt Ritter, co-chairman of the legislature's public health committee, which has jurisdiction over birth certificates and other vital records.

"There are medical reasons. Sometimes there are financial implications,'' Ritter said. "So we've created a new mechanism to allow one to amend their original birth certificate with conditions."
The bill had strong bipartisan support, in the Public Health Committee the vote was 23 to 2 and it looks like that bipartisan support continued in the House. Next stop is the Senate.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Why Is It You Have An Agenda…

…When you speak about discrimination. When you point out the disparity all of a sudden you are “pushing your agenda?”

Whether it is for marriage equality, LGBT human rights, or pointing out the disparity of race the oppressor starts criticizing you for pushing your agenda. Look at First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at Tuskegee University and the push back from that…
First lady's critics have much to learn
Columbia Daily Tribune
By Richard Cohen
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sometimes I think Rush Limbaugh is the dumbest man in America. This happens whenever I take him at face value and forget that he is basically an entertainer with contempt for his audience. He will tell them anything. Last week, as if to validate my opinion of him, he went after Michelle Obama for playing the “race card” at the dedication of a museum in New York City. He described her as angry and complaining. The word he should have used was “right.”
Limbaugh was hearing none of it. The way he looks at it, Obama is not entitled to her experiences, certainly not to talk about them. “I mean, even if you’re a committed liberal, you don’t want to hear this stuff all the time,” he said. “You’re here at a museum dedication, and you want to hear an angry first lady stand up and start complaining about stuff like this?” Well, yes, Rush, I do.
The conservative National Review also chided Obama for what it called “racial scolding.” It went on to argue that, in recent years, cultural institutions have gone out of their way to attract minority audiences — and without much success. (It cited figures from the National Endowment for the Arts showing blacks woefully underrepresented as museum visitors.) The magazine then preposterously blamed the problem on “the American Left” and its disparagement of “the West’s high culture” — and not on the previous century or so of implied or enforced racism. For a long time, a black kid hesitated to venture below Harlem or down to the Washington Mall and its feasts of museums.
It seems like whenever anyone points out the racial disparity you are pushing your agenda. In Connecticut when the governor pointed out the disparity of “drug free school zones” he was playing the race card.
House Republicans Protest Governor's Racism Remarks
Hartford Courant
By Christopher Keating and Daniela Altimari
May 13, 2015

HARTFORD — The House of Representatives came to an abrupt halt for five hours Wednesday after Republicans walked out of the chamber to protest remarks by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that they said implied their opposition to his criminal justice overhaul was racially motivated.

Republicans have opposed portions of Malloy's Second Chance Society initiative, saying that they disagree with the Democratic governor's proposal to eliminate mandatory minimum penalties for certain drug offenses.
Malloy responded by saying that residents of New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport should not be treated differently from suburban residents. For years, members of the legislature's Black and Puerto Rican Caucus have argued that current laws mandating increased penalties for drug possession within 1,500 feet of a school, day care center or public housing complex unfairly target residents of urban areas.

That's because in densely populated cities, large areas are within 1,500 feet of schools, day care centers and public housing. In suburban and rural communities, fewer residents live within the proscribed areas and thus aren't subject to increased penalties if caught in possession of drugs.
Nowhere in Governor Malloy’s speech did he say anything that wasn’t true, but the Republicans flew into a rage over the comments. The same thing happens if you point out the income inequality you are creating class warfare or if you mention Republican’s war on women or LGBT.

It seems like whenever the oppressed fight back over the oppression we are being uppity or we are thugs. As long as you stay in your place they can live in happy little dream world from the land of “Father Knows Best.” 

A Slam…

A lot can be said in headlines, it can set the tone of the article and even if the article is positive it can bias the whole article,
‘You Are You’: Photos of boy campers who dress like girls
SF Gate
By Rachel Howard
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

In 2007, photographer Lindsay Morris began attending a summer camp for families with “gender nonconforming” children — mostly boys who liked to dress up in girls’ clothes since, for complicated cultural reasons, girls who dress like boys are not nearly so ridiculed and ostracized. At the secluded camp, kids experiment freely with bright colors and makeup, and the weekend culminates with a joyous fashion show.
But the camp is more than fun and games. All of the adults present have faced tremendous social pressure to deny their children’s personal expression, or coerce them toward gender stereotypes.

One of Morris’ chief rewards in capturing the camp antics has been watching the children mature and become their full selves. Some of the boys later identify as gay; some of them grow into heterosexual identities. One yearly camp goer transitioned from male to female, and her family asked Morris to photograph her bat mitzvah — to their knowledge the first time the Jewish rite of passage has been marked for a transgender teen.
It sound to me like the reporter has biases against trans kids, the photographers but the reporters says things like “boys who liked to dress up in girls’ clothes” and “healthy boys wearing lipstick and smiling,” not once did the reporter refer the children as girls. The book author sets a positive tone but the reporter seems to slam the books by using "boys dressed as girls."The headline set the negative tone of the article.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It Is Nice To See Others Stand Up With Us

There was an article in the Washington Post the other day criticizing parents who oppose school integration for trans students.
Shame on parents fighting against transgender kids in school bathrooms
By Petula Dvorak Columnist
May 11, 2015

Using the bathroom? Really? That’s what this is going to come down to?

Because that’s the obsession of just about anyone who is still vexed by the idea that transgender Americans should be protected from discrimination: the restroom thing.
Using the bathroom? Really? That’s what this is going to come down to?

Because that’s the obsession of just about anyone who is still vexed by the idea that transgender Americans should be protected from discrimination: the restroom thing.
America is watching a painful and public transition as Olympian Bruce Jenner rebirths as the person who’s been struggling for decades to emerge. Imagine the pain a child with the same condition is in and how parents could help ease it.
She ends the article with…
Give your kids a little more credit, Fairfax parents. They are more tolerant, more understanding, more accepting and far more worldly than we were growing up.

And for that, y’all should be proud.
And she is so right, it is not the kids who have the problem, but the parents. How many times do we see the kids getting along okay until a parent butts in and starts to complain and then the kids follow along with their parents.

Yesterday’s Trip.

View up Seventh Avenue
As I wrote yesterday, I went down to New York City with a number of senior center administrators and a couple of consultants (I guess that I was also one of the consultants, since my expenses were paid for by the non-profit that sponsored the trip.)

The trip for me got off on the wrong foot. As usual I woke up in the middle of the night (3:45am) and couldn’t get back to sleep so when my alarm went off for some reason I thought I was late and rushed to get ready and went flying out the door at 5:45 and I was half way to the Park & Ride where I was to meet some of the others to car pool to the New Haven railroad station, before I realized that I was an hour early. I drove back home and had a leisurely breakfast.

The train ride down on Amtrak was uneventful and we had a meeting on the train to discuss what we wanted to learn from the trip. SAGE (Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders) senior center was only a couple of blocks from Penn Station so we walked down 7th Ave.
View from the 15th floor
The center is quite busy and most of their funding comes from government agencies and therefore they cannot discriminate so the center is open to everyone. Its focus is on LGBT community but anyone came come in for any of the programs and they do get a number of straight people who come in for the services.

One of the things that they pointed out was that the community drove the programs. If someone wanted a program that the center would train the volunteer to run the program and if critical mass is achieved with the number of attendees the program could continue. It is kind of like “put up or shut up” if you want something bad enough we will give you the tools to run the program. They have a number of trans programs including support groups and programs for trans allies.

After the meeting we got lunch across the street from Penn Station at the Stage Door and went back to the station to eat there while we waited for our train.

It was sobering this morning to wake to read about the Amtrak train wreck, that train was bound for Penn Station.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Good Step.

But they still need to pass a law to include public accommodation.
Attorney General Maura Healey calls transgender protections 'the next battleground for civil rights'
By Shira Schoenberg
May 06, 2015

For Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, transgender rights today is like gay marriage a decade ago: the next big battle for equality.

"Transgender rights is the important next battleground for civil rights," Healey, a Democrat, said in an interview with The Republican / "We need to do more, and we need to do better in this state, starting with a public transgender accommodation bill."

Healey, the nation's first openly gay attorney general, has made gay rights a priority since taking office in January. She led 16 states and Washington, D.C., in filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking the justices to establish gay marriage nationwide. She asked Massachusetts residents to share their stories about gay marriage, for use in the Supreme Court brief. She is now setting the stage for what could be a battle with the Republican administration of Gov. Charlie Baker over a transgender public accommodations bill, which would require accommodations for transgender people in public places, like restaurants.
It is very hard to speak up when you are worried about discrimination and violence. Yes, there are protections but we all know that it is so very easy to get around them and also when you speak up it becomes a public record.

The bill before the legislature faces an uphill battle…
A standalone transgender public accommodations bill, sponsored by Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, is pending before a legislative committee. Western Massachusetts co-sponsors include Sen. Ben Downing, D-Pittsfield, Sen. Eric Lesser, D-Longmeadow, Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, and Rep. Jose Tosado, D-Springfield.

Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito oppose the bill, citing logistical concerns from organizations like schools and hospitals. Opponents of the bill worry, for example, about whether someone born male would have access to a girls' school locker room.
I feel that it was a big political mistake not to fight to include public accommodations in the original legislation. There was a large pool of court cases that set precedent to include public accommodations in existing laws because the legislature never specially did not include public accommodations in non-discrimination laws but now the legislature did write out public accommodations. So it is a whole new ballgame and public accommodation is the hardest protection to pass because that is what the opposition focuses on. It is a lot easier to pass the whole package than the parts.

I’m On A Train To NYC.

I am heading down to New York City to visit the SAGE Senior Center; we have an appointment with the director of the facility. We are going there to learn how senior centers here in Connecticut can improve their centers to be more welcoming to LGBT seniors.

I say we because I am with a number of directors of senior centers and a couple of people from other non-profits who are working to help senior centers improve their services to the elder LGBT community.

As part of this effort three senior centers are working together to a have a LGBT senior night a month at the centers on a rotating bases and that network is being expanded to another two or three towns in the fall.

So this morning I was up at 4:30 and out the door at 6:15 so we could catch the train in New Haven.

P.S. I have a conference call at 7:00 PM on an outreach at a Congregational Church on Sunday... it is going to be a long day!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Where To Live?

Well one place is Scotland; it seems that the Scotland is one of the most friendly LGBT country in Europe,
Scotland tops gay rights league for Europe
LBGTI people experience more equality in Scotland than any other country in Europe, according to the annual Rainbow Index
The Telegraph
By Telegraph Men
11 May 2015

Scotland has been rated the best country in Europe for respecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

The country comes ahead of the rest of the UK in the 2015 Rainbow Index, an annual ranking compiled by human rights organisation ILGA-Europe.

Under the ranking, each member state of Europe is given a percentage score that reflects the progress of equality for LBGTI people in its judicial and social systems. The score is derived from 48 criteria, which include legal protections from discrimination in employment and services, policy to tackle hate crime, and equality in family law including same-sex marriage.

Scotland scored 92pc to come top of the table. The UK as a whole was second, with 86pc, and Belgium third (83pc). Malta were a surprise fourth (77pc), up from eighth the preceding year
The ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map there are some countries that are downright hostile to LGBT people. Turkey has an index rating of 12%, Italy has only  a 22% rating and some of the other countries are not far behind Italy.

I wonder how accurate the index is? Is it like the HRC CEI where companies has polices that no one follows?

The criteria for the index is here.