Monday, August 31, 2015

I Turned In My Homework

I just sent in my homework. Hun? I thought you graduated.

It is homework for a guest lecture I am giving at UConn in a couple of weeks, I had to send my Bio, a synopsis of my lecture and some reference material for the students to read.

My lecture is for a class called “Out to Lunch.” It is at the Rainbow Center and they have a series of lectures on current LGBT issues over lunch. My talk is
“Transgender Activist History: From World War II to the Present”
The lecture will look at transgender activist from World War II until the present. It will cover the history of the movement and notable transgender activists such as Sylvia Rivera, Dallas Denny, Virginia Prince and Christine Jorgensen. In addition, the lecture will look at the Stonewall Uprising from a trans-perspective and will cover legislative victories, defeats and betrayals, both locally and nationally.
And the reference list was,
Fienberg, L. (1998). 'I'm glad I was in the Stonewall riot'. Worker’s World. Retrieved August 1, 2009. From

King, D., Ekins, R., (2000), Pioneers of Transgendering: The Life and Work of Virginia Prince, GENDYS 2k, The Sixth International Gender Dysphoria Conference, Manchester England.

Sontag, D. (2015, August 29). Once a Pariah, Now a Judge: The Early Transgender Journey of Phyllis Frye. New York Times.
I have at the end of the PowerPoint three pages of references; I had to cut it back to three references for the students to read.

I actually gave this presentation for the first time back in 2009 at another OTL lecture. The idea for this talk came about because of two events. The first was at the True Colors conference that year, I went to a workshop about LGBT history but it was really just LG history and afterward I talked to the woman giving the workshop about the lack of the “T” and she said that she was that familiar with our history… um why did you call it LGBT History? And she also had a PhD after her name.

The other thing was at a Pride, since it was 2009 and the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising they had all these posters of people who took part in the uprising and they had no trans people (Hmm… does that sound familiar?). When I questioned them about it what do you think they said?

When I was asked to give the lecture back in 2009 on a trans topic the first thing that I thought of was to do one on our history.

So anyway, for the last couple of weeks I have been working to bring it up to date and it was nice that the New York Times had that article the other day about Phyllis Frye, it kind of filled in some gaps that I had about her and I also added the Cooper Donuts uprising in 1959.

Lightning Does Strike

That is the way I look at it.
Transgender Dating From a Lesbian’s Point of View
The Transgender Guide
By Tina Foster

My first experience with a transgender MtF was online. I had used a dating site to put up a profile because, well, I was looking for companionship and wanted to reach outside my small town to find a female lover. One of my responses was from a transgender woman. She was very up front about it, didn’t try to trick me or anything like that – and I was intrigued, because I’d never dated one before, and I pride myself on my open-mindedness. So I figured “Why not?”

As soon as I spent time with her, I never thought of her as anything but a woman. She looked like a woman, acted like a woman, spoke like a woman, moved like a woman. She was (IS) a woman. It wasn’t her fault that she was born with the wrong outer shell. Who am I to question how one genetic code didn’t line up correctly while she was in the womb?
Bottom line is this: A person that has the unfortunate instance to be born with the wrong parts, doesn’t make that person automatically male or female. This identity is inside the person. No matter what society wants to try to brainwash into our heads, genetic mistakes are made – and the people born with gender identity issues should be able to rectify those issues.

I know if I had been born in a male body – with my obvious female self inside – I would want to set her free.
I think for them the hard part is to get over their initial hesitancy and I think the way to overcome that is to get out with other lesbians and let them know you as a person. The problem that I find is that at my age most are married or dating.

There are a lot of senior lesbian events going on around the area, there are dances, game nights, walking and bicycling groups, and now senior centers are holding LGBT events.

The way I look at it is that people get hit by lightning every day and so there is always a chance of meeting someone.

# # # # #

I wrote this Sunday afternoon and then Sunday night on “I Am Cait” what did they talk about during the show? Dating. They talked about how hard it is to date when you’re trans. If you tell them right away they run away and if you tell them once the relationship develops they feel betrayed. Or they want to have sex right away because they think being trans is all about “SEX.”

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Our Champions

Our history of activism goes way back and for those who are just coming out might not know our pioneers who blazed the way for us.
Once a Pariah, Now a Judge: The Early Transgender Journey of Phyllis Frye
New York Times
By Deborah Sontga
August 29, 2015

HOUSTON — Nearly four decades before Caitlyn Jenner introduced herself to the world, Phyllis Randolph Frye came out as a transgender woman in a far less glamorous way. No Diane Sawyer, no Vanity Fair.

It was the summer of 1976. As Bruce Jenner, 26, was celebrating his decathlon victory at the Montreal Olympics, Phillip Frye, 28, was admitting defeat in suppressing his gender identity. He, becoming she, had already lost a lot: He had been forced to resign from the military for “sexual deviation.” He had been disowned by his parents, divorced by his first wife and separated from his son. He had been dismissed from several engineering jobs.
One of her first activism was repealing the crossdressing laws in Houston in 1980 and she would go on to accomplish,
Having felt the sting of gay groups’ rejection long ago, Ms. Frye led some of the earliest sorties in what became a pitched battle for transgender inclusion. She repeatedly argued that homophobia and transphobia were entwined, and made the case that many transgender people are themselves gay.

At the same time, Ms. Frye was one of the first to act on the need for transgender advocates to develop their own legal theories and agenda. In the 1990s, she convened annual transgender law conferences, where grass-roots activists from around the country first met and developed an aspirational transgender bill of rights. Between events, she helped tether the growing network through group emails she called her “Phyllabusters.”
She would then tackle “Gay Inc.”
Like others, Ms. Frye was frustrated that gay groups had distanced themselves from the transgender cause. Although transgender activists like Sylvia Rivera had played a prominent role at Stonewall, a rift developed afterward. In the early 1970s, mainstream gay groups came to emphasize “a gender normative model of gay identity,” as Mr. Minter, the White House appointee, put it.

“The Gucci-shoes crowd, the gays and lesbians on Wall Street, they saw us as a politically embarrassing subgroup,” Ms. Frye said. “In Houston, the gay and lesbian political caucus thought we were going to slow down their progress. So it became, ‘If they’re going to shut us out, then we’re going to do our own thing.’”
She goes on to fight the HRC and to lobby Congress for gender inclusive legislation long before it became commonplace for trans people to lobby.

I meet her at Fantasia Fair in Provincetown MA in 2003 when she was given the Virginia Prince Transgender Pioneer Award and she gave a keynote address.

Doctors, Doctors…

It seems like that the question that I get asked the most by trans people is where can they find a surgeon. There are more surgeons who do top surgery for the guys but it is still not enough and it is even worst for us women.
Transgender Americans face dearth of sexual reassignment surgeons
Americans seeking sexual reassignment surgery have found that specialists are few and far between
Al Jazeera America
By Lisa Fletcher
August 28, 2015

But little did he [Jayden Thai] know that his journey would mean confronting a medical system ill prepared and often unwilling to embrace transgender patients.

In fact, a Web search reveals just how few American doctors specialize in performing complicated surgeries to change physical and sexual characteristics as part of some people’s gender transitions. lists fewer than 30 physicians who offer sexual reassignment surgery, mostly located on the coasts.

While a few more surgeons might not have been listed, that number is probably in the ballpark, according to medical professionals who told America Tonight that people who are transgender are dangerously underserved by the medical system, especially when it comes to surgical specialties.
They do not list the GCS surgeon here in Connecticut that is doing MtF surgery, nor do they list the surgeon in Boston who I hear is also doing surgery for MtF. And there are a number of surgeons who are doing top surgery for FtM here in Connecticut and western Massachusetts.
Dr. John Taylor is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in New Jersey – and one of the few doctors in the US who specializes in sexual reassignment surgery.

“I remember getting a phone call in my office on day from the chief of surgery, who was screaming at me on the other end of the line, saying – and I’ll never forget this – he said, ‘Don’t you even think about bringing those freaks into my hospital!’” Taylor recalled. “So, that’s what I was dealing with when I started this.” 
And that is how many hospitals think about our surgery. That is why Dr. Bowers is no long doing surgery in Trinidad Colorado, the Catholic hospital there decided that after some 40 - 50 years that they did want to do trans surgeries any more. I think with now having insurance coverage for trans healthcare you will see more doctors doing surgery for us.

Talking to trans people it seems like they are still having to fight for insurance coverage, when they call their insurance companies the first answer they get is no. For many trans people they don’t appeal the refusal, we have to learn to advocate for ourselves. In addition, the doctors and healthcare providers have to learn how to properly code the treatment.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday 9: Viva la Vida

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Viva la Vida (2008)

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 song refers to the singing of choirs. Have you ever been in a choir or a vocal group? 
Nope, I would probably be banned from singing

2) Chris Martin sings of when he "ruled the world." If you were in charge and had infinite power, what would you change right away?
Ban guns except for muzzle loaders.

3) Chris used to be married to actress Gwyneth Paltrow. USA Today, The Washington Post and The Daily Telegraph have all run articles about how Gwyneth seems to annoy so very many people. What celebrity gets on your nerves?
None of them because I don’t care what celebrities do or say.

4) Coldplay's first big hit was, "Yellow." What color are you wearing right now?
Aqua. I am wearing and aqua robe.

5) Sam remembers when she used to hear this song everywhere and can't believe that was 7 years ago! When is the last time you had a similar "my, how time flies!" moment?
On a warm summer night, a couple of weeks ago when I was coming back from a meeting, As I was driving down the main drag in town the “House of the Rising Sun” came on the radio, I was transported back to the 60s coming home from hanging out at the McDonald’s on the Turnpike.

6) In 2008, when "Viva la Vida" was popular, John Grisham's latest legal thriller, The Appeal, was jumping off bookshelves. What have you read this summer?
The Symphony of Ages trilogy by Elizabeth Haydon and Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade: A Novel (Lord John Grey Book 2) by Diana Gabaldon.

7) Thinking of books: Let's say a biographer has taken the task of writing your biography. What would you title your life story? 
Phoenix, the reborn.

8) 2008 is also the year Paul Newman died of cancer. Name a Newman movie. 
I bet also everyone will name “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”

9) Random question: Do you like garlic?
Yes, but not too much to overpower the other ingredients.

Friday, August 28, 2015


Maybe schools are starting to get the message.
Alaska school district policies embrace transgender students & employees
Christian Examiner
By Kelly Ledbetter
27 August, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Christian Examiner) – A controversial new "don't-ask" policy towards which paves the way for transgender and gender nonconforming students and employees to choose facilities based on preference and not on gender has been published by the Anchorage School District (ASD).

The administrative guidelines provide that students may use sex-specific locations like restrooms or locker rooms according to their preference and that they may be addressed by the name or pronoun of their choice.

The guidelines are so broad that transgender students do not have to provide a reason for their request to use a different sex-specific facility.
ASD executive director Margo Bellamy, who ensures Title IX and EEO compliance, told Alaska Dispatch News, "It's the same as what we do to make sure kids are not discriminated against because of race or nationality or ability."

Bellamy said all students are protected from sharing share a locker room with someone who makes them uncomfortable. In the 2014-2015 academic year, Bellamy assisted with 102 cases regarding transgender issues for students or employees, almost 100 more than the district handled in 2008.
They got it right! If any student feels uncomfortable they can request to change or go the bathroom in a single stall bathroom.

Many school policies for the trans student to either use the staff facilities or a single stall bathroom or as in one case a janitor’s closet and that is wrong and violates the law. But the Anchorage school district school policy allow trans students to choose the facility that they are most comfortable using, some trans people are comfortable using private facilities. The policy also allows cisgender students to use single person facilities.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I Wonder…

…If this will make any difference. It sounds great but will it make any difference, will the hospitals and insurance companies look for a way to get around it?
Landmark settlement sets new standard for treating transgender patients
Lancaster Online
By Heather Stauffer Staff Writer
August 27, 2015

A recent federal crackdown is being hailed as a landmark in establishing standards for nondiscriminatory care of transgender patients, and industry experts say every health-care provider should take it as a warning and ensure compliance.

The recent settlement reached between The Brooklyn Hospital Center and Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Civil Rights marked the first time the federal agency actively enforced a part of the Affordable Care Act that prohibits discrimination.

The Brooklyn Hospital Center was accused of putting a transgender patient who identified as female in a double room with a male. As part of the settlement, the center agreed to update its transgender nondiscrimination policy and provide appropriate training to staff.

"Through the Affordable Care Act, for the first time, individuals are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes gender identity, in health programs," said Jocelyn Samuels, Office of Civil Rights director.
The Brooklyn Hospital Center was accused of putting a transgender patient who identified as female in a double room with a male. As part of the settlement, the center agreed to update its transgender nondiscrimination policy and provide appropriate training to staff.

"Through the Affordable Care Act, for the first time, individuals are protected from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes gender identity, in health programs," said Jocelyn Samuels, Office of Civil Rights director.
Some important facts for us to know. First, we are covered by HIPAA. That means that the hospital staff cannot talk about the fact that we are trans, it is on a medical need to know basis. Second, they cannot put you in a private room because that is segregation. They have to put you in a ward of you gender identity without your consent (for me I would love that). In other words if they say they are putting you in a private room at no extra cost that is a violation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Connecticut non-discrimination ward. Lastly if someone complains in the ward that they don’t want to be in the room with you, they cannot move you out of the ward.


Not genderqueer but genderless, possible intersex.
This Is What It’s Like Growing Up With No Gender
“I don’t know what it feels like to feel like a girl or feel like a boy.” Lola Phoenix has a rare condition that stops male and female sex hormones being produced, but the NHS refuses to help. Phoenix tells BuzzFeed News what life is like when you’re agender.
BuzzFeed LGBT Editor, UK
By Patrick Strudwick
Aug. 24, 2015

Some people who do not identify as female or male – or whose identity is a mixture, somewhere in between, not akin to any gender, or simply unfixed – call themselves genderqueer, or gender-fluid. But Phoenix, like many others, prefers “agender” – a total absence, internally, psychologically, of gender.

The West London Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) – one of the NHS’s main clinical hubs for people needing gender-based healthcare – has refused to reduce Phoenix’s breasts. Phoenix produces the letter the consultant psychiatrist Dr Andrew Davies wrote earlier this year to Phoenix’s GP explaining why he would not recommend breast reduction and would, instead, discharge Phoenix. In it, Davies concludes:

“Whilst we acknowledge her strong wish for a smaller breast size and acknowledge her reported internal sense of being agendered we would not countenance endorsement of an irreversible surgical procedure unless the individual had been able to demonstrably consolidate a social transition including name change to the preferred gender role.”
“I have septo-optic dysplasia [SOD],” says Phoenix, before explaining that this rare disorder comprises malformations, present from birth, that include an underdeveloped optic nerve, a dysfunctional pituitary gland, and the total absence of a small part of the brain called the septum pellucidum.

“So I’m blind in my left eye and I don’t make a lot of hormones – cortisol [the stress hormone], thyroid hormones, oestrogen, testosterone, or growth hormone.”
It took doctors three months to diagnose the condition after Phoenix, then named Amanda, was born. The baby spent the first six months of their life in hospital, jaundiced, premature, and with a body temperature that frequently plummeted to inexplicably low levels. Some babies die before doctors diagnose SOD; before Phoenix was diagnosed, the medical staff were so baffled they resorted to extreme measures to try to keep baby Amanda safe.
Nature is amazing with all its variety but humans don’t like people they can’t fit in to the binary gender boxes. We like to fit thing in to a nice list diagnosis; she is not trans, so she doesn’t fall under any treatments for trans people. You would think that somewhere in the 68,000 ICD-10 codes they could find one to help her,

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

That is how the state of the trans can be defined for those with privileged it is the best of times for those without it is the worst of times.
A Tale of Two Trans Americas
A trans woman of color becomes the first in the White House, while another becomes the 16th [Since the article was written the count is sadly up to 19] to be murdered this year.The Daily Beast
By Jay Michaelson
August 19, 2015

For transgender Americans, it is the best of times and the worst of times.

The best: Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, a young trans woman of color, has just been hired by the White House, the first openly transgender person to join its staff.

The worst: Tamara Dominguez, another young trans women of color, was murdered in Kansas City at 3 a.m. Saturday, in what police are investigating as a possible hate crime. By various counts, she is the 16th transgender woman to be murdered in 2015.
Are these two stories connected, save by commonalities of race, gender, and time? Has the increased visibility of transgender people—Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock—led to a backlash focusing on the most vulnerable members of the LGBT and POC communities?
At the same time as this horrific race- and gender-based violence escalates, it is undeniable that trans* people are thriving like never before in America and around the world (consider the remarkable milestones in Thailand and Nepal, for example).

Governmental milestones like Freedman-Gurspan’s appointment, and changes in the military’s policy toward trans soldiers, are examples of that. Although Freedman-Gurspan will not be working directly with trans issues in her new role, Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, made a point of highlighting her advocacy work in a statement accompanying her hiring.
Many people do not have any idea that there is such a divide between the two worlds, if you are white and have a job it is a different world you live in than a person of color or another racial minority and who don’t have a job. Additionally, if you are trans and cannot assimilate into society you are living from day to day be what every means you can survive.

Drop Them!

Drop you draws for an inspection!

If a Republican South Dakota legislator has his way that is what we all will be doing before going in the bathroom.
'Visual inspection' could be part of state law to determine gender identity
Rapid City Journal
By Bart Pfankuch
August 23, 2015

PIERRE | A proposal by a state lawmaker could require that visual inspection be used as part of a process to officially determine a person's gender in South Dakota, including for high school athletes.

The battle over how to officially determine someone's gender arises from a controversy over whether transgender high school students can declare their own gender when participating in sports.

A high school athletic group enacted a policy last year that allows students to decide for themselves which gender group they will compete with. But some lawmakers are unhappy with that concept.
The proposal from Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, would rely on official birth certificates and visual inspections for determining gender rather than allowing people to decide and declare their gender on their own.
You got that, a “visual inspections for determining gender!” Talk about intrusive government, you can’t get much more intrusive then looking between your legs. The committee voted 6-5 to advance the bill.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sense Of Community

They are dropping like flies, the number of LGBT bars are shrinking fast. Here in Connecticut there are rumors that in Hartford the Polo Club is closing, Triangles in the Danbury area has closed. The bars proved a sense of community, a place where you didn’t have to worry about what people think, a place to let your hair down. There is an interesting video about “The Last Lesbian Bar” that looks at this trend,

The video has a number of reasons why this trend is happening. It is possibly the online dating sites; no one has to go to bars to meet people. It could also be economical, the bars were usually located in low rent districts and as the price of rent has increased it maybe forcing the bars out of business or it could be that with discrimination decreasing there is no longer a need for a safe space. And it could also be because of marriage equality, LGBT people are settling down to married life and are staying home with their spouse and children watching TV with their dog sitting at their feet.

I know that a lot trans people went to Triangle when they had trans night. Many of the LG bars did have a trans night one night a month usually on their slow nights.

How important are LGBT bars to you? Do you visit them? What do you think is replacing them?

Common Sense

Ever since the Reagan era we have been fighting the war on drugs, now a police chief is using some common sense.
A town in Massachusetts decided to stop arresting drug users. 2 months later, here's how it's going.
By Eric March
August 18, 2015

Back in June 2015, Gloucester, Massachusetts, police chief Leonard Campanello announced that his officers would no longer arrest drug users who approached them seeking help.

Instead, the department announced they would refer the drug users to treatment, and front the cost.

Gloucester has been struggling to combat a big heroin problem.

Between January and March 2015, the community experienced four overdose deaths — more than in all of 2014.
"It's a provocative idea to put out there," Chief Campanello told Upworthy, "But we knew we had to do something different."

Needless to say, there were many questions about whether Campanello's experiment would actually work.

How much money would it cost? Would it actually reduce the number of overdose deaths? Would drug users actually trust the police, knowing that admitting to possession could technically get them arrested at any time?

After two months, the early results are in, and they look promising. Very promising.
With nonviolent drug users popping up in prison at alarming rates, it's great to see evidence that when you treat addicted persons like people instead of criminals, good things can happen.
The program is still very young and way too early to say results are positive, but I feel that it brings sanity to the war on drugs. Treat it as a medical problem and not as a criminal problem.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Nature v. Nurture

That question will never get answered; however we are getting closer to understanding the nature of our gender identity and the New York Times article on gender dysphoria takes a look...
How Changeable Is Gender?
New York Times – Opinion
By Richard A. Friedman
August 22, 2015

In fact, recent neuroscience research suggests that gender identity may exist on a spectrum and that gender dysphoria fits well within the range of human biological variation. For example, Georg S. Kranz at the Medical University of Vienna and colleagues elsewhere reported in a 2014 study in The Journal of Neuroscience that individuals who identified as transsexuals — those who wanted sex reassignment — had structural differences in their brains that were between their desired gender and their genetic sex.

Dr. Kranz studied four different groups: female-to-male transsexuals; male-to-female transsexuals; and controls who were born female or male and identify as such. Since hormones can have a direct effect on the brain, both transsexual groups were studied before they took any sex hormones, so observed differences in brain function and structure would not be affected by the treatment. He used a high-resolution technique called diffusion tensor imaging, a special type of M.R.I., to examine the white matter microstructure of subjects’ brains.

What Dr. Kranz found was intriguing: In several brain regions, people born female with a female gender identity had the highest level of something called mean diffusivity, followed by female-to-male transsexuals. Next came male-to-female transsexuals, and then the males with a male gender identity, who had the lowest levels.

In other words, it seems that Dr. Kranz may have found a neural signature of the transgender experience: a mismatch between one’s gender identity and physical sex. Transgender people have a brain that is structurally different than the brain of a nontransgender male or female — someplace in between men and women.
This study is widely known in the trans and it has been accepted with mixed feelings. What makes the trans community leery is that there might be more than one vector that cause gender dysphoria and just because a trans person doesn’t show and difference on the MRI does mean that they are not trans. The article goes on to say,
Is it really so surprising that gender identity might, like sexual orientation, be on a spectrum? After all, one can be exclusively straight or exclusively gay — or anything in between. But variability in a behavior shouldn’t be confused with its malleability. There is little evidence, for example, that you really can change your sexual orientation. Sure, you can change your sexual behavior, but your inner sexual fantasies endure.
No surprise here, trans people knew for a long time that there is a gender spectrum and I wouldn’t have used “inner sexual fantasies” but more like “inner sexual desires.”

Then the article becomes questionable,
Dr. Cecilia Dhejne and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have done one of the largest follow-up studies of transsexuals, published in PLOS One in 2011. They compared a group of 324 Swedish transsexuals for an average of more than 10 years after gender reassignment with controls and found that transsexuals had 19 times the rate of suicide and about three times the mortality rate compared with controls. When the researchers controlled for baseline rates of depression and suicide, which are known to be higher in transsexuals, they still found elevated rates of depression and suicide after sex reassignment.

THIS strongly suggests that gender dysphoria in young children is highly unstable and likely to change. Whether the loss of gender dysphoria is spontaneous or the result of parental or social influence is anyone’s guess. Moreover, we can’t predict reliably which gender dysphoric children will be “persisters” and which will be “desisters.”
I would like to know is the details of the study, those who had regrets did they follow the Standard of Care (SOC)? Also how did society affect them? Did they have any resistance from their family, or their religion, or from their friends? How well did they integrate into society?
Several studies have tracked the persistence of gender dysphoria in children as they grow. For example, Dr. Richard Green’s study of young boys with gender dysphoria in the 1980s found that only one of the 44 boys was gender dysphoric by adolescence or adulthood. And a 2008 study by Madeleine S. C. Wallein, at the VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands, reported that in a group of 77 young people, ages 5 to 12, who all had gender dysphoria at the start of the study, 70 percent of the boys and 36 percent of the girls were no longer gender dysphoric after an average of 10 years’ follow-up.
In ThinkProgress today there was a rebuttal by Zack Ford,
On Sunday, the New York Times published an op-ed from Richard A. Friedman, Weill Cornell Medical College professor of clinical psychiatry, who asks, “How changeable is gender?” Though Friedman sets up his piece by discussing the biological underpinnings of gender identity and the experience of being transgender, he ultimately explains his “skepticism” about assisting transgender people to change their bodies to match their identities. “After all,” he concludes, “medical and psychological treatments should be driven by the best available scientific evidence — not political pressure or cherished beliefs.”

To justify his skepticism, Friedman distorts some studies and ignores others to arrive at conclusions that support his apparent biases against transition. Under the guise of medical opinion, he mimics the flawed talking points used by some of the biggest opponents of transgender equality
Mr. Ford goes on to explain the flaws in Mr. Friedman article,
The study, he boasts, assessed suicide rates of transsexuals who had undergone transgender surgery “against controls.” What he doesn’t mention is that the controls were not transgender people who had not undergone surgery as one would expect, but in fact, the cisgender general population. “When the researchers controlled for baseline rates of depression and suicide, which are known to be higher in transsexuals, they still found elevated rates of depression and suicide after sex reassignment.” All that the research actually shows is that surgery did not alleviate all mental health issues; it does not actually provide any information about the impact of that surgery.

Friedman also fails to mention that the mortality rate in the study was only statistically significant for people who underwent surgery before 1989. For all those who had their surgery after that (1989–2003), the increased mortality was not statistically significant. Though he briefly acknowledges the impact that stigma, discrimination, and violence might instead be playing, he brushes this possibility aside to assert, “The outcome studies suggest that gender reassignment doesn’t necessarily give everyone what they really want or make them happier.” The Swedish study, the only example he cites, suggests no such thing. In fact, the researchers say as much in a disclaimer: “No inferences can be drawn as to the effectiveness of sex reassignment as a treatment for transsexualism” because “things might have been even worse without sex reassignment.”
About Mr. Friedman assertion that only a small fraction of children actually go on to transition,
There is nothing in these studies to warrant this dangerous encouragement for parents to reject their kids’ identities. In fact, the studies suffer from major flaws that suggest otherwise. Kelley Winters, who studies and writes about transgender medical policy, explains that the criteria for diagnosing Gender Identity Disorder in Children (GIDC) are not particularly consistent. Many recent studies rely on diagnosing children “on the basis of gender nonconforming behavior, with no evidence that they identified as other than their birth-assigned gender.” Thus, children who are actually distressed about their gender identity — the “persisters” — are grouped along with larger numbers of effeminate male-identified boys and masculine female-identified girls — the “desisters.”

Thus, these studies might actually be proving the opposite of what Friedman wants them to. The fact that, in these overbroad samples of gender non-conforming kids, researchers do find persisters suggests that the benefit of the doubt ought to favor these kids who might actually be trans. After all, as this population has been studied more, researchers have learned that they actually identify as consistently and innately with their gender identity as their cisgender peers. Parents risk nothing by letting kids express themselves however they might, but could cause great harm by rejecting the identities of kids who actually feel distress over their gender. The “it’s just a phase” stereotype, as Winters calls it, “has underpinned policies that keep gender dysphoric children in the closets of their birth-assigned gender.”
And finally Mr. Ford sums up the article with,
Friedman has no research to demonstrate any benefit to attempting to suppress a child’s gender expression. Still, he bases his skepticism for affirming transgender kids on the “best available scientific evidence.” If he had actually cited that evidence in his op-ed, instead of disregarding it to support his own biases, he may have drawn a different conclusion.
It seems to me that the New York Times wants to show they are balanced in their coverage of trans issues and it that is the case they should do better research before they publish an article.

Your Certs Please.

A discussion is going on with healthcare providers about training therapists, endocrinologists, and other health providers. Some are asking for a certification program while others are balking over the idea.

We as a community have been complaining that we don’t want to have to training our doctors when we go in for healthcare and have been saying we need more healthcare providers for our hormones and other medical needs. Well the healthcare providers have been listening and have started to offer certification for medical professionals. I know of two seminars this year that are offering certifications, one is in Chicago and other is in Boston. The Boston conference
Transgender Health Conference
Join us at Fenway Health’s Transgender Health Conference, October 2-3, 2015, for an educational program for health care providers and members of health care teams in community health centers, safety-net organizations and student health clinics. Local and nationally-recognized experts in the field will lead participants through the fundamentals of providing high-quality, compassionate care for transgender people. The conference is co-sponsored with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers.

Hosted at Fenway Health’s beautiful ten-story health center overlooking Fenway Park, this conference is produced by our team of medical, mental health, and health research experts. The conference program includes foundational material for all members of health care teams as well as specialized content for both medical and behavioral health care providers.

Conference topics will include:
  • Gender Affirmative Health Care: Terminology, Demographics, and Epidemiology
  • Gender Identity Development
  • Cross Sex Hormone Treatment & Therapy
  • Gender Affirming Psychotherapy
  • Models of Care
  • Working with Children and Families
This is what we have been looking for! Hopefully we will have more healthcare providers that will help us.


You know there always is a “but.”

The worry is that insurance providers will only accept letters for hormones, surgery, and other medical treatments from certified healthcare providers. We do not want this to happen!

I think you all can see the drawbacks to requiring certified therapists to get our hormones, what if there are no certified therapist in your area? Will you be expected to travel 30, 40, or even 50 miles to a certified doctor? How long of a wait will you have to get an appointment? There are a little more than a handful of endo her in Connecticut that provide hormones to us and the wait to get an appointment is almost six months.

Will our next battle be fighting insurance companies over certs for healthcare providers?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…
A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens

Sunday, August 23, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 6 of 6 – Thoughts)

I have been lucky to be involved in the legislative process for almost ten years now; I have come from a wide-eyed newbie sitting around the table to holding my own at the table. I know legislators, I know the governor, the mayor of Hartford, a CT Supreme Court Justice, and other state officials. Once I was at a fundraiser for the governor and a state legislator introduced me by name to another legislator as a political activist, it wasn’t so much that he called me a political activist but the fact that he knew my name.

I have learned that you cannot pass legislation on your own, that you must work with other organizations. The trans community is too small, we lacks the political muscle and deep pockets to do it on our own, we need coalitions. We need to make connections and network with other organization and not just with the LGB community. In 2011 when we passed the non-discrimination law we had labor unions, religious organizations, non-profits, and state agencies backing the legislation.

It is our personal stories that make a difference, I was at a “town hall meeting” for the marriage equality bill and I was speaking about our anti-discrimination bill and talked about the discrimination that I faced being trans. Afterward a lesbian couple came up to me and asked how can they help with our bill.

This bill was different from the non-discrimination bill in that we didn’t really need to go out and talk about the legislation because there wasn’t any opposition to the bill and also we didn’t need as much grassroots support as we did for the other bill. As a result we could keep it low key and under the radar most of the way until the media picked the story up. So that was the second lesson tailor your tactics to bill, not all legislation needs a full frontal attack. And the third lesson is be flexible, adjust your strategy as changes arise.

What was the same between the two bills was going down to the wire and not voting on the bill until the last minute; both the anti-D bill and the Birth Certificate bill were nail biters. They were not for anyone with weak stomachs.

But what gets me even more is the fact that I am a Social Worker, all the tables that I have sat around at least half of those at the table were other social workers, and many of them are classmates. If you look at the photo from the night the gender inclusive non-discrimination law was passed, three of the people in the photograph are classmates from the UConn School of Social Work. The other two are our lobbyist and a lawyer from GLAD.

Not only are social workers found in the political arena, but we are there where change happens or where people care for others. On the committee for LGBT Aging Advocacy there are other social workers, when we took a trip to New York City to visit SAGE senior center three of the ten who went were UConn SSW graduates. People think of social workers as school counselor or therapists but in reality we are much more, we are politicians (the mayor of Hartford is an UConn SSW graduate), we are non-profit administrators, we are managers of homeless shelters, we are in all professions.

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 6 of 6 – Thoughts)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 5 of 6 – The Senate)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 4 of 6 – The House)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 3 of 6 – Public Health Committee)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 2 of 6 – Side Tracked)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 1 of 6 – The Beginning)

Update Dec. 27, 2022

The signing of the Birth Certificate law by the governor.

The governor gave me the copy that he signed for us and I donated it to the Central Connecticut State University's Elihu Burritt Library.

So It Is Alright That They Refused To Serve Her

A trans woman was ordered out of the bar and refused service, she claimed discrimination.
Tempe bar cleared of transgender discrimination allegations
By Cooper Rumell
August 21, 2015

TEMPE, Ariz. — A bar in Tempe has been cleared of any wrongdoing in a discrimination investigation.

The case stems from a claim made by Briana Sandy, a Phoenix-area transgender woman, who claimed a bartender at Tempe Tavern told her to leave because, “we don’t serve your kind.”

A 10-week investigation by Tempe’s Diversity Office found no evidence to support Sandy’s claim.
Why did they find no evidence to support her claim?
A report filed by investigators said witnesses consistently report the bartender told Sandy, “I am sorry, we cannot serve you,” and her gender identity did not play a role in that request.
So it was a case of “she said, he said” and the reason he refused to serve her?
Tasso explained the bar is located adjacent to an adult bookstore. He has an established practice of advising bartenders not to serve customers from that store which does not violate Tempe’s discrimination code.
I wonder how the bartender knew she came from the book store?

It is very hard to prove discrimination, first you have to prove you are a member of a protected class and that it was the bases of the discrimination. It is especially hard to prove discrimination when you are applying for a job or you are in a store and they don't wait on you. If a salesperson doesn't help you was it because they discriminated against you or was it because they thought you were with someone else?

I have a feeling that her being trans had something to do with it but the bartender never said the magic words “we don’t serve your kind.” he just said “we cannot serve you”

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saturday 9: Hello, Dolly

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Hello, Dolly (1964)

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

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

1) This song is about a woman returning to the town where she was happiest. How many towns have you lived in? 
Two and both of them are located in Connecticut

2) Crazy Sam played Ernestina in her high school production of Hello, Dolly! and still remembers one of her lines: "Hey, you with the big ears! What are you doing after the show?" Tell us something that you memorized for school that is still rattling around in your brain.
Nothing rattles around anymore from high school it is all filled with cobwebs after fifty years.

3) This week's featured artist, Louis Armstrong, got his start entertaining diners on riverboat dinner cruises. Have you ever taken a dinner cruise? 
Kind of… I was on a cruise up the Connecticut River one time and there was a buffet.

4) Armstrong took his nickname, "Satchmo," from "Satchel Mouth" -- a slang term for someone with a wide mouth, which Louis believed was his most distinguishing feature. What do you think people notice first about you?
Um… that I’m trans

5) In 1936, Louis became the first African American to get featured billing in a Hollywood movie. Have you seen any of this summer's big movies? 
Nope, I haven’t been to the theater since I saw Hope Springs

6) When "Hello, Dolly" composer Jerry was growing up, he was close to an aunt named Belle who encouraged his love of music. Tell us about one of your aunts or uncles.
It is easy to tell you about all my aunts and uncles… their dead.

7) Though famous for composing the scores of Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage Aux Folles, Jerry Herman can't read music. Can you?
Nope. It looks pretty with all those fancy lines and squiggly symbols.

8) Now retired, Mr. Herman lives in Miami. This is Miami's "wet season," which lasts into October. When did it last rain where you are?
Yesterday, and we needed it.

9) Random question: Have you suffered a sunburn this summer?
No, the sun is not my friend. We have a history of skin cancer in the family.

Friday, August 21, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 5 of 6 – The Senate)

I have been monitoring my emails and then on June 1, I received an email from our lobbyist saying we were on today’s Senate calendar, so I started monitoring CT-N Senate telecast. All day long I listen to classical music (that is what CT-N plays when the Senate is out of session). Then around 3:30 I heard the Senate called to order…RATS! I was just heading out the door to go to the local NBC station to comment on the Craitlyn Jenner Vanity Fair article.

When I got home the message light was blinking with a message from my state senator’s aide, I had called and emailed her asking her to bring the bill up for a vote in the Senate. The message said that the bill was just being heard in the Senate. I looked at the timestamp of the voice message and it was twenty minutes ago. So I turned on CT-N and another bill was now being heard.

I checked my email and there were emails from out lobbyist and the other members of the coalition all congratulating and thanking Betty Gallo. The bill had passed not ten minutes ago!

CT-N has a rewind feature so I rewound it about a half hour and watched the short debate.

Senator Gerratana (D) from the 6th District from my district read the bill and Senator Markley (R) from the 16th asked a question about “other treatment clinically appropriate” and what did it mean. Sen. Gerratana replied by reading from the WPATH Standard of Care . Sen. Markley then asked if there were any other New England state that have a similar law, Sen. Gerratana replied saying yes, Vermont and Rhode Island.

Sen. Witkos (R) from the 8th District asked if we would have to go through Probate Court to change our birth certificate, Sen. Gerratana said no, only if it was for an out of state birth certificate. Sen. Witkos then asked some medical procedure questions and it was fun watching Sen. Witkos and Sen. Gerratana discussing genital on the floor of the Senate.

The bill was then voted on… Yea 32, Nay 3, and absent and not voting 1

The Hartford Courant said this about the floor debate,
Sen. Terry Gerratana, the co-chairwoman of the legislature's public health committee, said the bill is indicative of an evolving understanding of gender transformation. "Standards of care change and the bill reflects ... the best standard of care is regarding gender change,'' the New Britain Democrat said.

Sen. Joe Markley, R-Southington, was among the bipartisan majority backing the measure. "I often feel like I lack the expertise to make decisions on subjects like this," he said. "However in light of the information I've received, and the testimony that we heard at the community level, I'm prepared to support the bill as it stands."
In a Wall Street Journal article Sen. Markley is quoted,
“We are talking about making changes to things which have been established by law and custom for a long, long time,” said state Sen. Joe Markley. In an interview last week, the Republican lawmaker said he was reluctant to support the legislation but voted in favor of it Monday. “It becomes a matter of where you draw the line. I don’t know where medically, psychologically, where that line should be.”
Governor Malloy said that he will sign the bill and it will take effect on October 1st

No one person can pass legislation, it takes a coalition and our coalition members (In alphabetical order) were…
American Civil Liberties Union of CT (ACLU)
CT TransAdvocacy Coalition (CTAC)
CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
Equality Federation
Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)
National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE)
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
True Colors
And many thanks to Rachel and also the ACLU for providing our lobbyist Betty Gallo of Gallo & Robinson LLC.

Part 6 will be on my thought on working on this legislation and it will be this Sunday.

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 6 of 6 – Thoughts)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 5 of 6 – The Senate)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 4 of 6 – The House)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 3 of 6 – Public Health Committee)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 2 of 6 – Side Tracked)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 1 of 6 – The Beginning)

We Are All Freaks

Did you see “I Am Cait” with Kate Bornstein? What did you think about where Kate Bornstein said about the freak factor?
Cait vs. Kate vs. The Kids: How Kate Bornstein is Out of Touch with Today’s Youth
On S1 E4 of I Am Cait, Kate Bornstein labels the trans community "Freaks"
Planet Transgender
By Claire-Renee Kohner
August 19, 2015

What’s not listed and seemed to be a surprise to most was the appearance of “Gender Theorist” Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw and Queer and Present Danger. The appearance of Kate was brief, and after some harmless flirtation on both sides, Cait and Kate sat down to talk what one would assume to be about gender; what happened seemed to be a co-opting of the conversation by Bornstein towards the negative.

“You and I share timelines, we go like this” Bornstein says making a crisscross sign with her arms before she says, “Well, you’ve joined the club, your mind must be fried.” Although we were never told what club Caitlyn suddenly belongs to, but if one assumes the queer or transgender community, then what are the qualifications must one meet to get in to this so-called club? Pain? Suffering? Multiple Suicide attempts?

Although Kate Bornstein’s visits was only a few minutes of the show, Kate happened to mention or refer to the transgender community as “freaks” no less than six times.

“Have you been dealing well with the freak factor? Because that’s a fact” Kate says before she continues with, “We are freaks to a lot of the world.” Jenner’s response to this sudden barrage of name-calling was on point when she said, “I really feel like what we are trying to do here is to kind of normalize this as much as we can.”

Surprisingly, Bornstein minimized Caitlyn when she verbally slapped back, “Part of the reason you want to [normalize this experience] is because you don’t want to be a freak…And who does?” Kate Bornstein continued, “The only way I’ve gotten through it is to accept the freakdom.”
Congressman Barney Frank called it the “Ick Factor.” Whatever you call it I think it is real.

For those of us who can integrate into society might not think it is real but for those who live on society’s margins it is real. If you cannot blend into society, society punishes you, the giggles, the laughter, the stares are all part of societies attempts to fit you into a neat little gender box. Those who are readily identified as trans are the ones who cannot find jobs, the ones who face violence every day, the ones who make their living off the street.

As Kate said, “Part of the reason you want to [normalize this experience] is because you don’t want to be a freak…And who does?” and the whole “I Am Cait” show is about normalizing being trans… “See we are just like everyone else!” It is a trait of all marginalized communities. The gays and lesbians did it back in the 70s they didn’t want any butch lesbians or flaming gays to be associated with them. Immigrants do it, they have a derogatory phrase they use for immigrants who just arrived here. Those who can assimilate society rewards.

In my PowerPoint presentation on Cultural Competency one of my slides says,
Visual non-conformity is a risk factor in causing anti-transgender bias and its attendant social and economic burdens
Caitlyn is still living in a bubble. She is attempting to learn, but when your whole entourage is beautiful trans women and men and you go to private events you are sheltered from what it is like getting on the bus by yourself and wondering if you are going to be harassed today.

I am not saying what Caitlyn is doing is somehow wrong, I think it is good and the show is positive role model not only for trans people but also for non-trans people. What I am saying is don’t crucify Kate for speaking the truth.

Headwig and the Angry Inch - Freaks (with Girls Against Boys)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 4 of 6 – The House)

Now the waiting begins, when would our bill get voted on in the House, the days ticked by and I worried that it was going to be like 2009 when the bill came up for a vote on the last day of the session and the Republicans talked the bill to death. Would history repeat itself?

Then on the night of the 14th just before I went out to a LGBT Dinner and Movie at a the Simsbury Senior Center I received an email from our lobbyist, 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 at 9:04 came this brief email... "Debate begins in the House." and I held my breath.

That was followed by this email at 9:13, “Bill passed 126-18” then came all the emails from all those who worked on the bill, we were ecstatic. The bipartisan support continued in the House.

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 transcripts of the House session showed that the discussion and vote lasted less than nine minutes.

Now the bill moves on to the Senate.

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 6 of 6 – Thoughts)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 5 of 6 – The Senate)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 4 of 6 – The House)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 3 of 6 – Public Health Committee)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 2 of 6 – Side Tracked)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 1 of 6 – The Beginning)

Do You Count?

Have you taken U.S. Trans Survey?
Why The New National Transgender Survey Will Be Revolutionary
By Zack Ford
August 19, 2015

August 19 marks the launch of the new U.S. Trans Survey, developed and supported by a coalition of LGBT groups and researchers, and over the next month, thousands of transgender people will complete the module, documenting their experiences in employment, housing, health care, and the criminal justice system. This will provide one of the most extensive glimpses into what it’s like to be transgender in the United States.
When we passed the non-discrimination law here in Connecticut we used the data from the 2009 survey to help convince legislators of the need for legislation.
…The data from the NTDS has been cited countless times (Keisling estimates over 15,000 times in the media), particularly its findings about the rates of trans suicide attempts, homelessness, employment discrimination, and health care discrimination. It also provided some of the first insights about the rates at which transgender people have surgery as part of their transition.
And this survey will collect even better data,
But the new survey isn’t just bigger, it’s also qualitatively better. Sandy James, NCTE’s Survey Project Manager, told ThinkProgress that many of the questions have been improved. Thanks to updated technology over what was used for the NTDS, the U.S. Trans Survey uses a skip-logic model will make sure that respondents are asked follow-up questions that reflect their experiences. More importantly, the questions have been tailored so that the results can be easily juxtaposed against other national studies. For example, questions about income will align with questions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey so that the information about trans people can be compared with national averages. Similar validated scales were added for physical and mental health measures.
It is important for us to be counted because many services are based on community needs and many times when we try to pass non-discrimination laws the legislators ask about the community.
As such, the goal of the survey is compensate for the invisibility of transgender people in other research. Jody Herman, who serves as Williams Institute Scholar of Public Policy and is also working on the survey, explained to ThinkProgress, “One of the most challenging parts about studying the trans community as a whole is that nearly all the key U.S. surveys that we use to learn about the U.S. population, like the Census, do not identify trans people. Both large and small scale studies are needed to fill vast knowledge gaps about the trans population in the U.S. The USTS is one of those large-scale efforts.”
For example if you answer that you have been to a homeless shelter, the survey then asks you questions about your experience at the shelter. I think I skewed the results because they asked if you had visited any DV shelter, police, social services agencies, homeless shelters, and etc. in the last twelve months and I have, but it was because I have done cultural competency training at all of them.

The first day of the survey was slower than molasses but they are trying to fix the problem,
In its first day open, the survey is already struggling to accommodate how many people are trying to take it. An update on the page notes, “Our servers are doing their best to keep up with the demand and we thank you for your patience. If you have trouble taking the survey now, know that it will be available to take through at least September 21st.” Results will likely be available sometime in early to mid 2016.
A drawback is who is taking the survey, there really is no control over the participants.
Some opponents of transgender equality have been critical of the survey’s methods. Elizabeth Hungerford, a radical feminist who advocates against protections for transgender people, has promised to try to sabotage the data, calling the internet survey “a direct result of the mindlessness of identity politics.” Despite not being trans, she pledged to take the survey and encouraged others to do the same. Apparently, asking transgender people exactly what they experience is “not how you INFORM public policy or UNDERSTAND trans people.”
I also have some concerns about the survey and my biggest concern is the way the survey is being advertised, on the internet. The people that need assistance the most have limited access to the internet and computers. I have been trying to think up ways to get the information about the surveys to those who line on the street. Any ideas?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 3 of 6 – Public Health Committee)

Our strategy was basically the same as the defense against the insurance bill but in reverse. We only wanted a few people to testify on behalf of the bill, we wanted healthcare providers, a lawyer, and members of the trans community speak for the bill. We knew that the bill had the support of the governor’s office and the Democrat leadership in the legislature. What we didn’t know was what the opposition would do, we want to keep everything low key and not have a lobby day or anything like that, we figured the less talk about the bill the easier it would sail through the legislature. Because there are many ways to defeat a bill besides voting, like talking it to death like they did in the House for the gender inclusive non-discrimination bill in 2007.

We also feared some might happen like it did in Colorado, according to the Colorado Independent,
When it was Norton’s turn to testify, he explained that he was representing a group called Colorado Family Action, one of 38 family groups across the nation tied to Colorado Springs-based evangelical empire Focus on the Family.
“The testimony here today doesn’t justify a wholesale change to the law,” he said. “The members of the General Assembly [may] make it more likely that [the people of Colorado] will be subject to fraudulent activity.” He referred to an estate case in Texas in which Thomas Araguz claimed to have never been told that his wife had been born a boy. After Araguz died, his mother sued to have the marriage declared void.

The case is ongoing.

“It is not just fraudulent inducements to marry that may be more likely to occur,” he explained.
The day of the committee hearing on the bill I was at home waiting for a call to testify and when I got the call I must have set a record to drive from my home to Hartford. There were only about six of us to testify for the bill and no one testified against it and the committee received about eighteen written testimonies for the bill, all of them favorable.

The committee vote amazed me, the vote didn't go anyway I expected...
Total voting: 25, Yea: 23, Nay: 2, Abstain: 0, Absent/Not voting: 3
What that meant was that the bill has strong bipartisan support because eleven of the committee members are Republican. Before the vote we heard that the Republicans were going to introduce an amendment and to get the word out to our organizations to have people call or email the committee members to vote for the bill.

The minutes from the committee shows that there was only a positive discussion about the bill,
Senator Gerratana asked for a motion to JFS* to the Floor H.B. No. 7006 (RAISED) An Act Concerning Birth Certificate Amendments.

A motion was made by Representative Ritter and seconded by Representative Riley.

Representative Ritter explained that current law prohibits sex designation to be changed on birth certificates unless the individual undergoes a gender reassignment surgery. This bill will allow a sex designation to be changed on birth certificates with a notarized affidavit from a licensed physician, APRN, or psychologist stating that the person has undergone surgical, hormonal, or other appropriate treatment.

Representative Perillo asked if this legislation provides any advantages given to an individual.

Representative Ritter referred to testimony submitted to the committee which addressed the awkwardness for individuals who apply for employment whereas birth certificates are required for the application process.

Representative Srinivasan asked for clarification of other clinically approved treatments as written in the bill.

Representative Ritter acknowledged that there have been questions on this term from both sides of the aisle and a definition may be beneficial as the bill moves forward in the House.

Representative Srinivasan asked if this bill restricts a person who changes their gender and then decides to change back.

Representative Ritter pointed to line 40 in the bill which identifies the required written statement that an applicant's gender differs from the sex designated on the original birth certificate.
Representative Zoni asked if there are age restrictions for gender change.

Representative Ritter explained that there are no major restrictions under Title VII.
The next stop is the House.

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 6 of 6 – Thoughts)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 5 of 6 – The Senate)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 4 of 6 – The House)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 3 of 6 – Public Health Committee)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 2 of 6 – Side Tracked)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 1 of 6 – The Beginning)

Being Trans

There is a video from BuzzFeed that has been floating around on Facebook that hits the mark. The video is “Our Deepest Insecurities Being Trans”

I have to say that when I road Fastrak* I was nervous going to the Pride Rally in Hartford but coming from the rally was bad because the bus was loaded with gay, lesbian, and gender queer students from Center Connecticut State University. But going to Hartford was different because it was fill with strangers, so that were giggling, and some that stared.

I also carry all my old insecurities like being in a room full of strangers, going out on my own to new places. How I envy those who can just walk in to a strange place and strike up a conversation with a stranger, I need a security blanket around me.

For me over time I have developed coping skills, I didn’t know at the time that they were coping skill but now I realize them for what they are. I did thinks like read the headlines on the news rages in the check-out line at supermarkets or watching the floor numbers on an elevator or  or stare out the window on the bus, or looking for other distractions to take my mind off of the here and now. Some wear a rubber band on their wrist and snap it to relieve the stress.

So what are your insecurities and how do you cope with them?

*Fastrak is a bus system in the greater Hartford area

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 2 of 6 – Side Tracked)

While we were waiting for the bill to be introduced in the Public Health Committee, we received word that in the Insurance and Real Estate committee a bill was introduced to take away our insurance coverage. The bill was HB5193 was introduced by a Republican,
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:That title 38a of the general statutes be amended to specify that health insurance policies delivered, issued for delivery, renewed, amended or continued in this state shall not be required to provide coverage for gender reassignment surgery or related surgical expenses.

Statement of Purpose:To specify that health insurance policies delivered, issued for delivery, renewed, amended or continued in this state shall not be required to provide coverage for gender reassignment surgery or related surgical expenses.
In his testimony Rep. Sampson R-Wolcott said in part,
I initially proposed this bill in response to bulletin IC-37 released by the State of Connecticut Insurance Department December 19, 2013 which mandated entities issuing individual and group health insurance to provide certain types of coverage for gender reassignment surgery. I find the a bold action disconcerting because it is the duty of the State of Connecticut General Assembly to make the determination of what health insurance coverage should be mandated and not the Insurance Department. It is also my sincere belief that this issue must be properly vetted through the legislative process.

Notwithstanding the concerns addresses above, this policy raises a whole host of issues that deserve to be heard and reviewed to determine is this should remain the law in our state. For instance, many respected medical professionals claim that this procedure is barbaric and that the established treatment for gender dysphoria is not gender reassignment surgery but rather some type of counseling and/or mental health treatment. We must also consider how to address the members of the medical community who find gender reassignment surgery objectionable based on their Hippocratic Oath and/or religious beliefs.
I have already posted my thoughts on the bill on my blog so I do not want to reiterate them again.

Upon hearing about the bill the coalition discussed our strategy to block the bill. We knew that there wasn’t enough votes to pass the bill out of committee but we also knew we had to put up a defense against the bill. We settled on having healthcare providers, a lawyer, and members of the trans community speak against the bill.

During the hearing there was no one who spoke in favor of the bill and we were joined by two other people who spoke against the bill, a LCSW who works with trans clients and a retired RN whose son is trans. When the committee got to the bill, the bill sponsor got up and left the room.

The JF Deadline* came and went with no vote on the bill so it died in committee but we had to be vigilant to make sure it wasn’t added as an amendment later on in the session.

The date by which each committee must report out bills or resolutions for further consideration by other committees or the full General Assembly. The committee deadlines are listed in the Joint Rules and all reports must be submitted to the Legislative Commissioners' Office by 5:00 p.m. on the dates listed.

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 6 of 6 – Thoughts)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 5 of 6 – The Senate)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 4 of 6 – The House)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 3 of 6 – Public Health Committee)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 2 of 6 – Side Tracked)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 1 of 6 – The Beginning)

Will They Finally Do The Right Thing

In Massachusetts when they passed the trans non-discrimination law they passed it without public accommodations and they have tried to add it every year since the passed of the law. This year they are trying again.
As Beacon Hill Prepares To Consider Transgender Rights, A Study Cites Health Risks Of Discrimination
By Mike Deehan
August 16, 2015

Massachusetts added non-discrimination language for gender identity to its laws in 2012. The state became the 16th in the country to carve out protections for transgender people in employment, housing, public education and credit access. The hate crimes laws were also updated to include gender identity among the list of protected classes.
Left out of the 2012 law was a provision to allow transgender people access to public accommodations, things like transportation settings, medical facilities - and yes, public bathrooms and locker rooms - that are traditionally segregated by gender.
One obstacle for the bill could be a business lobby wary of government mandates or new rules that could open them up to lawsuits. Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst said that the bill needs to be clearer about what new accommodations will be necessary and what it allows regulatory boards to do beyond the initial scope of the legislation.

Left out of the 2012 law was a provision to allow transgender people access to public accommodations, things like transportation settings, medical facilities - and yes, public bathrooms and locker rooms - that are traditionally segregated by gender.
One obstacle for the bill could be a business lobby wary of government mandates or new rules that could open them up to lawsuits. Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst said that the bill needs to be clearer about what new accommodations will be necessary and what it allows regulatory boards to do beyond the initial scope of the legislation.
I really don’t hold out hope that the bill will pass and if it does then the Republican governor will probably veto the bill. And if it does pass it will probably so watered down that it most likely exclude sex segregated facilities.

So place your bets, what do you think?

Monday, August 17, 2015

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 1 of 6 – The Beginning)

For the next six days I will be writing about the history of bill H.B.7006 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates.

For me it all started at Frist Event in Massachusetts in 2014, I was talking to Mara Keisling, the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality and the topic of birth certificates came up. We both agreed that it was worth a try in Connecticut and she said that if we decided to propose the legislation contact NCTE and they could help.

In August I posted something about needing to change the birth certificates law in Connecticut on my Facebook page and Robin from True Colors thought it was a good idea. We exchanged emails and I met with her intern in early September to hash out our thoughts. At our next meeting we contacted NCTE and talked about getting started on the bill, it was decided to bring in other organizations into the discussion.

So late in September I contacted many of the core organizations that worked on the anti-discrimination legislation back in 2011. It seems like everyone had the same idea, it was time for the legislation.

We then had our first meeting at the lobbyist office in November and at the meeting we had people from True Colors, GLAD, ACLU, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF), Equality Federation, and I represented CTAC and on the phone were Planned Parenthood and NCTE.

At the meeting we discussed various strategies to chance the law on birth certificate; the three options that we discussed were to make the change by regulation, add an amendment to an existing bill, or have a stand along bill. Each option had its own drawbacks; the regulation was the easiest but also the easiest to change back by another governor, an amendment would also be risky because it could be dropped from a bill as easy as it can be added to a bill and the last option was to pass a new law and that would be the hardest to do.

We also discussed how to make sure that death certificates reflect the proper gender.

At the next meeting in December we were joined by a professor from Quinnipiac University School of Law who is on the Board of Directors at CWEALF. At the meeting the lawyer from GLAD provided a rough draft of the proposed law and NCTE provided a draft of the talking point for the bill. Also the lawyers from GLAD and NCTE discussed if any changes were need for making sure that the death certificates listed the correct gender and the consensus was that the death certificate should track the birth certificate. Therefore no changes need to be made.

In addition, the governor’s office was in favor of the bill. The Department of Public Health had some concerns but eventually went along with the proposed changes to the bill.

Now all we had to do was wait for the session to begin.

PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 6 of 6 – Thoughts)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 5 of 6 – The Senate)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 4 of 6 – The House)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 3 of 6 – Public Health Committee)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 2 of 6 – Side Tracked)
PA 15-132 An Act Concerning Birth Certificates (Part 1 of 6 – The Beginning)