Sunday, December 31, 2017

We Were The Top LGBT News In 2017

At least according to NPR.
Transgender Rights Lead NPR's Top LGBTQ Stories of 2017
By Danny Nett
December 30, 2017

As gay, lesbian and transgender activists around the United States felt a renewed sense of urgency under a new administration, 2017 cast a definitive spotlight on transgender rights.

Earlier this year, President Trump proposed a ban of trans service members in the military, and his administration rescinded Obama-era guidelines on the rights of transgender students under Title IX. But on Friday, the administration said it decided not to appeal court rulings, paving the way for transgender people to enter the military on Jan. 1.

Sixteen states considered versions of so-called "bathroom bills," requiring individuals to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Around the world, LGBTQ communities were targeted by crackdowns in Chechnya, Tanzania, Indonesia and Azerbaijan.

But LGBTQ communities also scored some victories and increased visibility in the U.S. and across the globe. Australia and Germany legalized same-sex marriage, and Taiwan's high court ruled in favor of it. Kiev ushered in what organizers said was the largest pride event in Ukraine's history.
To quote “A Tale of Two Cities”
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, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
The worst of times…
A record number of states try to ban us from going the bathroom
The best of times…
Connecticut passes a law to ban Conversion Therapy for minors

The worst of times…
Trump rescinds the policy for us to serve in the military
The best of times…
The courts block Trump’s Executive Order banning us from the military

The worst of times…
The Department of Justice and the Department of Education issues decrees saying we are not covered by Title VII and Title IX
The best of times…
Court cases around the country have ruled in our favor for Title VII and IX cases ignoring the DOJ and DoEd policies.

This year has been a roller coaster for us.

Scary! We Can Make You Straight

Here in Connecticut we banned have banned conversion therapy for minors but what happens when the government sponsors conversion therapy. Even though it is “voluntary” will they force trans people to take it?
Malaysian transgender conversion plan sparks alarm
Voluntary course with medical, psychological and religious staffers raises concern participants will 'feel like outcasts'
The Times Israel
December 31, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A Malaysian state plans to run a conversion therapy course aimed at transgender women, officials said Saturday, sparking alarm among LGBT activists in the conservative Muslim-majority country.

The course would run over several days next year after authorities had completed a survey of the transgender population, a Terengganu state official said.

Participation in the course would be voluntary, Ghazali said, adding that the program would include medical, psychological and religious experts, as well as transgender women who have “returned to normal lives.”
The question is how “voluntary” is it?

Will someone be standing behind them with a club tapping his hand with it?
A Human Rights Watch report in 2017 wrote that discrimination against LGBT people was “pervasive” in Malaysia, where there are laws against sodomy, with offenders facing jail time and whipping.
This is not voluntary, it is extortion.

Basically what they are saying you take the voluntary program or we are going to make your life hell.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Saturday 9: It's Just Another New Year's Eve

Crazy Sam’s  Saturday 9: It's Just Another New Year's Eve (1977)

On Saturdays I take a break from the heavy stuff and have some fun…
My cable has been off (mostly off) and on all morning.

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

Welcome to the last Saturday 9 of 2017! Thanks for a great year, everyone.

1) In this song, Barry Manilow declares New Year's Eve is "just another night." How do you feel about 12/31? Is it a special occasion or just another night?
Just another night, but I plan on going out to dinner and have a lobster at the local seafood restaurant (I don’t want to have to cleanup afterward).

2) Barry sings that in the past year, "we've made mistakes." What in 2017 do you wish you could do over?
It has been a good year for me; maybe I just wish that I took more photos.

3) He also sings of happy nights with friends. Tell us about a really good time you had in the past year.
There have been many good times, mostly get-togethers with friends.

4) The song references growing wiser, as well as older. What's something you learned or discovered in 2017?
I learned a couple of new software programs and loaded Ubuntu on a thumb drive to play around with Linux operation system.

5)  What do you wish you had spent more time doing during 2017?
See answer #2

6)  What was the smartest thing you did all this past year?
Bought a new car, a Prius Prime

7)  As this year comes to a close, what are you most grateful for?
My health. family and friends

8) When this week's featured artist, Barry Manilow, was a jingle writer, he wrote the famous "You deserve a break today at McDonald's" song. When's the last time you visited the Golden Arches?
Hmm… I can’t think that far back. Maybe two years ago when we lost power for several days from a snow storm. They had power and Wi-Fi so everyone was going there to recharge their electronic devices and a hot meal.

9) Random question: In high school, were you more popular with the boys or the girls?
I was a nerd. I wasn’t very popular except among the other nerds.

Thanks so much for joining us again at Saturday: 9. As always, feel free to come back, see who has participated and comment on their posts. In fact sometimes, if you want to read & comment on everyone's responses, you might want to check back again tomorrow. But it is not a rule. We haven’t any rules here. Join us on next Saturday for another version of Saturday: 9, "Just A Silly Meme on a Saturday!" Enjoy your weekend!

Last night I went to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon laser show… EXCELLENT!

If you get a chance to see it, go!

The show was at a planetarium at a local high school and the show was run by a high school teacher, I think he does it so he can get to watch it.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Trans People We Never Knew About

There are so many trans people who are making a difference in the world that we never knew about. Most of us just go on about living our lives and being trans is only a small part of our lives.
Mourning Ben Barres, The Transgender Scientist Who Changed Neuroscience
By Matthew Herper
December 28, 2017

Ben Barres, a neuroscientist who established the importance of glial cells, which comprise 9 in 10 brain cells but had been dismissed as inconsequential, died on December 27. The cause was pancreatic cancer, according to a statement from Stanford University, where he was a professor and where he chaired the department of neurobiology until he was diagnosed last April.

“Ben was a remarkable person. He will be remembered as a brilliant scientist who transformed our understanding of glial cells and as a tireless advocate who promoted equity and diversity at every turn,” said Marc Tessier-Lavigne, PhD, president of Stanford University, in a press release. "He was also a beloved mentor to students and trainees, a dear friend to many in our community and a champion for the fundamental dignity of us all.”

Barres is remembered for his trailblazing scientific work, but also for the causes he fought for. He was openly and adamantly transexual, and was the first trans person admitted into the National Academies of Science. He was a tireless advocate for women in academia, and for his students. Professors often hold on to their students projects; Barre insisted they take those projects with them.  He was a figure toward whom a great many other scientists felt a strong emotional bond. I found this out last night when I posted a link to Stanford's news release announcing his death on Twitter, and was blown away by the dozens of heartfelt responses.
We have shaped science, economics, medicine, and business, we have been pathfinders leading in so many fields, and it is simply amazing. Lynn Conway, a woman who blazed the trail for microprocessors and computers has webpages that lists some of the success stories. There isn’t a facet of our life that hasn’t been touched by a trans people in some way.

Update 12/30/17
Here is a video about Ben Barres on Charlie Rose:

Once Again Trump Shows His Lack Of Humanity.

Anything that is remotely related to LGBT Trump hates.

This time it is the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), six of the members resigned last June, but Trump just did a coup d'état on the remaining members via FedEx.
Trump fires his HIV/AIDS council without warning & won’t explain why he did it
LGBTQ Nation
By Bil Browning
December 29, 2017

Members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) were surprised to receive an envelope from FedEx yesterday. Inside was a short letter informing them they had been fired without warning from the council.

Six members of the council resigned in June to protest President Donald Trump‘s apathy towards the epidemic and his attempts to take health care access away from people living with HIV/AIDS.
Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, wrote in Newsweek why he and five of his colleagues decided to leave the PACHA.

“The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going [sic] HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease,” he said.
Trump & Co. do what want anything to do with LGBT and it is very dangerous that they have totally cut funding to Ryan White in Trump’s 2018 budget. According to NMAC
The President’s budget proposes to cut CDC’s HIV prevention programs by $149 million or 19 percent, cut CDC’s STD prevention programs by $27 million or 17 percent since FY 2016, totally eliminate the Ryan White Program’s AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETC) and the Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) programs, eliminate the HHS Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, reduce SAMHSA’s Minority AIDS Initiative programs, and cut the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program at HUD by $26 million.
“President Trump’s proposal to reduce CDC’s STD prevention work comes at a moment of national crisis when we are seeing the highest STD rates in 20 years. If enacted, this will devastate our ability to prevent and treat STDs and it will undermine our ability to prevent HIV. We urge Congress to reject these extreme cuts and increase STD, HIV and public health funding,” said David C. Harvey, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.
The effects of funding cuts are dramatic, diseases must be constantly fought and laps in the battle will case the disease to gain a foothold in the population. Look what happened in Texas when they cut funding to Planned Parenthood, Exposed reported
Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health services like Pap smears, birth control, STD testing, counseling services, and prenatal care with abortion services (which, by law, cannot be paid for using federal funds) in only about 3% of its nationwide clinics.
The long-term effects of defunding Planned Parenthood in different states remains to be seen. In states that have forced Planned Parenthood clinics to close due to lack of funding, the negative short-term effects are noticeable. For many areas, Planned Parenthood is the most familiar STD testing clinic and when it closes, STD statistics in the area show an uptick in the number of infections. In Indiana, for example, five Planned Parenthood clinics have shut down since 2011, none of which provided abortions. When the Scott County location of Planned Parenthood shuttered in 2013, the area was left without an HIV testing center. As a result of the lack of available prevention information and testing, an HIV outbreak began that the governor, Mike Pence, called an epidemic. Governor Pence even backtracked on his previous policy banning needle-exchange programs in an attempt to slow down the outbreak of HIV in the state.
Don’t they realize that AIDS/HIV is not a “Gay” disease but an equal opportunity disease?

Half of the people coming in to be tested are straight.

Modern dugs can reduce the viral load so low that in some case it cannot even be tested but in order to maintain the low virus levels it takes a cocktail of expensive drugs.

Trump & Co. see it a moral issue… don’t have gay sex or sex outside of marriage.

However, many of the people who get AIDS are in what they thought were monogamous relationship but their partner was sleeping around.

Now thanks to Trump we do not have any national policy on AIDS/HIV and the funding is going to be slashed to the bone.

Watch Out! Here come a nation epidemic.

Pardon Me.

Not as in “Beg you pardon” but as in I pardon you.

Being trans is hard, it is even harder if you don’t have a job or if your parents threw you out and you find yourself in a survival situation where you will do anything in order to live.
Queens Transgender Advocate Pardoned By Gov. Cuomo
The Jackson Heights transgender woman, whose conviction stems from being trapped in human trafficking, was among dozens pardoned Wednesday.
Jackson Heights Patch
By Danielle Woodward, Patch Staff
December 28, 2017

JACKSON HEIGHTS, QUEENS -- For the first time in decades, the New Year truly means a fresh start for one Queens transgender activist and sex trafficking survivor. A conviction from her past, whose threat of deportation long weighed heavy on her shoulders, will finally be left in 2017.

Lorena Borjas, 57, of Jackson Heights, was among dozens of people across the state - many of them immigrants - who were granted pardons by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, just in time for the year's end.

The governor granted more than 60 pardons to people with nonviolent misdemeanor charges who'd kept their records clean for at least 10 years. Of those pardons, 18 were granted to immigrants like Borjas, who faced deportation or other immigrant-related challenges because of their convictions.
She can now apply for citizenship now that her arrest and conviction was wiped off her record.
Borjas has become a well-known advocate in Queens for other transgender women who've survive trafficking and other abusive situations. Since escaping the world of sex trafficking, she's spent years walking the streets of Jackson Heights, dolling out condoms and food to those in need and connecting the trans women she meets with services and support, according to TLC.

The Queens advocate even set up a weekly HIV testing clinic in her home, and runs syringe exchange programs for trans women taking hormone injections, Cuomo said. She currently works as an educator at community health centers across New York City.
My question is will ICE ignore her pardon? Will she still have deportation hanging over her head?

There are so many trans people who are in this predicament where they are forced into slavery on the streets by a pimp. I came face to face with a small part of the horror of what it means to be trans and a teenager when I was an intern and had to attend a meeting at Court Support Services Division (CSSD) where they were looking for a shelter for a trans teen who was forced to work the street.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

We Win!

But what did we win?

Do non-discrimination laws do anything?

Do they protect us or a just window dressing?
Lawsuit: Sam's Club discriminated against transgender worker
Chicago Tribune
By Jonathan Drew
December 27, 2017

A transgender woman said in a lawsuit Wednesday that she was called "it" and "thing" by co-workers and then wrongfully fired from a North Carolina Sam's Club store after repeatedly complaining about harassment.

The federal lawsuit by Charlene Bost seeks unspecified monetary damages and asks the court to order the big box retailer to train employees to prevent future harassment of transgender workers. It says Bost was wrongfully fired in 2015 from the Kannapolis store in retaliation for her complaints.

Transgender people around the country are increasingly taking employers or schools to court to demand that their rights be protected, and North Carolina has been the site of a protracted legal battle over state laws governing which restrooms transgender people can use.
"Given the increase in the number of transgender people who are coming out, particularly at earlier and earlier ages, I think we're going to see many more claims in the future for discrimination against transgender people," said Jillian Weiss, the fund's executive director, in an interview. Weiss added that it's important for "employers to recognize that prejudice still exists among their employees."
This case did several things, first it recognized that Title VII covers us and second it will put companies on notice that they cannot discriminate. Third it will give a finical settlement to Bost.
So do non-discrimination laws make a difference?

It is hard to say, the laws tend to cause all types of discrimination to go from overt to covert as the companies learn how to cover their discrimination (“We didn’t hire you because you’re black but because you don’t have a work history.” “We didn’t hire you because you are Muslim but because you are over qualified.”). It is also very hard to prove a discrimination case unless the company is really dumb.

When discrimination does happen it is very hard to get through the legal process, the company is going to bring up ever little infraction of company policy and they will try to make you look like the worst employee in history (I was a supervisor and I had an employee who was coming in late, taking a day off from work without telling, etc. HR to me to keep a log on him and every couple of days review the log with me. My suggestion to employees is if you feel you are being discriminated against keep a log.).

The other things to remember is that discrimination laws are not criminal laws (except in special circumstances*), no one is going to jail. Also the records of complaints are public record; your name will be a public record, that you sued your employer will be a public record.

When you do file a complaint with the agency in charge of enforcing the law they have to follow legal precedent, which means depositions from both side and a chance to rebut the claims the other side made (That is why you need to keep a log of what happen to you). The fines they impose are also limited by law.

They may find that the harassment was not harassment but rather protected by the First Amendment. They may find against you and rule that the company didn’t discriminate.

The deck is stacked against us.

So why have non-discrimination laws?

Well for one they do work as the Sam’s Club case shows. They also bring about change; more companies are adding us to their workforce policies, and they are adding us to their insurance policies.

I think the best reasons is what Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said,
Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.

*Connecticut law PA11-55 has only one category that impose criminal penalties…
 Any person who, with the intent to subject, or cause to be subjected, any other person to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities, secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of this state or of the United States, on account of religion, national origin, alienage, color, race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, blindness or physical disability, violates the provisions of section 46a-58, as amended by this act, while wearing a mask, hood or other device designed to conceal the identity of such person shall be guilty of a class D felony.

Are The Republicans Russian Dupes?

Do you remember the Red Scare of the 50s?

Do you remember Republican Senator McCarthy question… “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Well now the Republican Party should ask that question to themselves.
By Zacary Fryer-Biggs
December 26, 2017

Russian meddling in the 2016 election was apparently just the prequel.

Now America’s former Cold War rival is using social media to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, a former CIA official and a former Republican congressman said Monday night.

Michael Morell, who ran the CIA, and Michael Rogers, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post that Russia is still busy using its social media tools to create doubt across the U.S. about Mueller’s integrity.
During one week in early December, for example, roughly 20 percent of the activity from accounts tied to Russian intelligence for propaganda was focused on undermining faith in Mueller’s investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the successful campaign of Donald Trump, according to research by The Alliance for Securing Democracy.
Trump slams FBI, attacks Steele dossier
Mercury News
By Michelle Ye Hee Lee | Washington Post
December 26, 2017

PALM BEACH, Fla. – After a quiet Christmas Day, President Trump is back at work – on Twitter.

Trump began his day criticizing the FBI and claiming the now-famous dossier containing allegations about his connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin is a “pile of garbage.” Trump, who is vacationing at his private estate in Mar-a-Lago, appeared to be watching and quoting from the morning cable-news show “Fox and Friends” while tweeting.

“WOW, @foxandfrlends ‘Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.’ And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!,” Trump tweeted. (For the record, the account he credited in the tweet is a fake Fox & Friends Twitter account).
You have to wonder why Trump is so worried about Muller’s investigation?

Is he closing in on Trump?

Is Trump’s puppet master in Russia pulling the strings?
GOP lawmaker calls for 'purge' of FBI
The Hill
By Rebecca Savransky
December 26, 2017

Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) on Tuesday called for a "purge" of the FBI, warning of "deep state" figures at work in the agency.

Rooney said during an interview on MSNBC that the American people have "very high standards" for the country's government agencies, and suggested they aren't being met.

He was pressed during the interview on whether he is trying to discredit the Department of Justice, and by extension the investigation into Russia's election interference.

"I don't want to discredit them. I would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it," he replied.
"And say, look, we've got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here, those are the people that I want the American people to see and know the good works being done, not these people who are kind of the deep state."
Why are the Republicans so bent on discrediting the FBI when they were praising in 2016 when the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton. Is the investigation getting to close? Or has the Republican Party gotten cozy with Putin?
Jennifer Rubin: Now we know why Republicans are attacking the FBI
The spectacle of Republicans trying to cook up a spurious case of corruption against the entire FBI is strong evidence of their inability to take their constitutional responsibilities seriously.
Salt Lake Tribune
By Jennifer Rubin | The Washington Post
December 25, 2017

CNN reported that Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe this week testified before the House Intelligence Committee and then before members of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Judiciary committees that former FBI director James Comey told McCabe that President Donald Trump had asked for a pledge of loyalty. Comey previously testified that the president had requested loyalty; Trump has denied that this took place.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, put out a statement slamming Republicans for holding a secret meeting of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., with members of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees to discuss interviewing McCabe:

“Today’s ‘emergency’ interview with FBI Deputy Director McCabe was both rushed and unnecessary and further demonstrates that Republicans are desperate to distract from the Russia investigation and undermine the credibility of the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” Nadler said in the statement. “This truth was laid bare when we learned last evening that a group of Republicans have been secretly meeting for months for just that purpose.
The Republicans, by their conduct, implicitly recognize Trump’s weak defense to a potential obstruction charge. Contrary to the Trump attorney’s mumbo jumbo, they realize that a sitting president with a corrupt intent can be cited for obstruction of justice, although the case might need to be prosecuted after he leaves office.

Second, Republicans understand that if the fact pattern is believed, Trump at the very least committed an impeachable action (although not necessarily a criminal violation of federal statute) in pressuring the then-FBI director to lay off of Michael Flynn and curtail the Russia investigation. If the facts here were not so damning, Republicans would not find it necessary to call into question the credibility of the entire FBI.
Are the Republicans discrediting the FBI to just protect Trump or are they worried that the money trail will back to them? Or are they also on the take?

Discrediting the FBI is a serious violation of the public trust. It is the leading law enforcement agency in the U.S.; who knows how it will affect other criminal cases if the trust is lost? It is even worse if they are doing to rally their conservative base.

Maybe we should ask all the Republicans ““Are you now or have you ever been in the pay or have received money from the Communist Party?”

Gee… You Know What would be Fun?

Let’s face it being trans is not a “phase” there is a big difference between dressing-up and being trans and the children know the difference.
Transgender Youth – Fad or Fact?
By Janna Barkin
December 24, 2017

Transgender. Non-Binary. Gender Fluid. Bi-Gender. A-Gender. Pan Gender. Gender Expansive. These are just some of the words people use today to describe their gender identity. In fact, Facebook now has 54 gender markers one can choose from.

Increasing numbers of youth today question their gender, and there is a corresponding increase in the number of ways people choose to describe and name their gender. A recent UCLA study found that over a quarter of California kids aged 12 to 17 say they are viewed by others at school as gender nonconforming. Alarmingly, the study also found that youth who are gender nonconforming and/or androgynous report higher levels of psychological distress than their gender-conforming peers. What’s going on here?

Some people may wonder if this is a cultural fad that will eventually fade. Experts in the field say otherwise, and in fact our culture today is making great leaps and bounds regarding our understanding of gender identity. The latest research shows that gender is not a binary “black or white” paradigm constructed along rigid male or female lines; rather, gender includes a spectrum of identities ranging from male to female along several strata, and even extending outside the spectrum itself. One’s identity can exist anywhere on this spectrum—or even outside the spectrum. A key to understanding gender identity as a concept is that gender identity is one’s innermost sense of who they are with regards to gender. As with everything else about individuals, there are infinite variations to gender.
“What’s going on here?”

There can be serval factors involved here, one trans kids are realizing that there are more options than just the binary. They can feel emboldened by seeing other kids come out. It could be the round peg in a square hole, the feeling of not quite fitting in. It could mean that the parents are more savvy in knowing that gender is not binary and understanding of gender dysphoria. It could also be that society is realizing that just maybe gender is a continuum.
Does it even matter if it is fad or fact? The 2012 survey of transgender youth, conducted by Ontario Canada’s Trans Pulse, revealed that the number one factor trans youth feel leads to their happiness and self-acceptance is parental support. Sadly, to the contrary, trans and gender-expansive youth without family support have been shown to be in the highest risk pools for depression, anxiety, and suicide. These are sobering statistics. Children who do not express gender in stereotypical ways need parents who are knowledgeable, flexible, and patient.
It’s time to shift our way of thinking. Best practices evolve: youth of today are finding new ways to describe their inner sense of gender and they are also exploring ways of expressing that inner sense to the outer world. Is this just a fad? Or, are the youth pushing us toward the future, a future in which all forms of gender identity and expression will be seen as valid and true?
Nope it doesn’t matter, no matter how the children feel they should be allowed to explore their gender in a safe environment and that means a school free from bullying.

The best prescription is to let kids be kids and explore their genders.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

No It Isn’t, Yes It Is

The Starbucks case has been ordered back to the lower court to hear the discrimination case.
Minnesota Court of Appeals rules a transgender man's discrimination lawsuit against Starbucks can proceed
Lawsuit claims the coffee shop's employees in Edina and Eden Prairie refused to serve him.
Star Tribune
By David Chanen
December 26, 2017

The Minnesota Court of Appeals reinstated a transgender man’s discrimination lawsuit Tuesday alleging that employees at Starbucks coffee shops in Eden Prairie and Edina refused to serve him.

Earlier this year, Hennepin County District Court threw out the complaint because the plaintiff, Paul Bray, 43, didn’t prove the discrimination was based on his transgender status. The district court also ruled that Bray’s right to sue over allegations from July 2013 had expired under the one-year statute of limitations established by the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).

A three-judge panel of the appeals court found that the court record reasonably supports a conclusion that Starbucks treated Bray more harshly than other customers. Judge Michelle Larkin wrote that the panel was reversing the lower court’s ruling “because there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether Starbucks discriminated against Bray because he was transgender.
Bray complained to a shift manager, who told him that Peka was uncomfortable interacting with Bray because he was not “a real man,” the court ruling said. When asked for clarification, the manager said he meant it was because he was transgender. In the following weeks, Bray continued to get coffee at the Eden Prairie Starbucks, but Peka didn’t serve him. He did receive adequate service from other employees.

Another incident occurred in October. Bray went to the shop and saw Peka point her finger at him and say, “That’s him.” Afterward, another employee appeared disgusted and hesitated when handing Bray his drink, the ruling said. Bray again complained to management yet received no response. He stopped going to the Eden Prairie shop.
He then started to go to another Starbucks but then an employee at from the other Starbucks was transferred to new Starbucks and recognized him, the employee then told the other employees about him.

This case seems to be straight forward case… they found out he was trans and they stopped serving him, but there is a twist that may or may not be a factor, he dated Sophia Peka.

The other thing not in his favor is that he waited too long to file suit because of that he can’t suit for discrimination before the cutoff date.

It is very important to remember that most states limit the time you can file for discrimination, here in Connecticut it is 180 days from the time of the discrimination incident!

I Don’t Use It… But It Is Wrong

Tinder is taking a lot of heat for its discrimination against trans people.
Tinder claims to promote gender inclusivity, but is it all just a front?
Independent UK
By Sabrina Barr
6 December 2017

A woman has been left feeling outraged after claiming to have been banned on Tinder for being transgender.

Tahlia René, a Public Health Major at the University of Austin in Texas, discovered two days ago that Tinder had removed her profile from the app.

The company stated that Tahlia had been “violating our Terms of Service or Community Guidelines in some way.”
In “some way” which they never said why.

Tahlia filed a number of complaints against Tinder but the company did nothing to the men who were harassing her.
Tahlia came to the conclusion that her profile had been removed due to the numerous reports submitted by male users who had a problem with her transgender identity.
Tinder came out last year in November and on their website they say,
UPDATE: After working with Transgender Europe, Inter-LGBT, FELGTB and dgti, we are excited to bring our localized More Genders update to users in France, Spain and Germany. This update will begin rolling out on June 23, 2017.
Everyone is welcome on Tinder.

Starting today, no matter how you identify, you can express your authentic self on Tinder.

To edit or add more information about your gender on Tinder, simply edit your profile. When you tap “I Am” and select “More” you can type a word that describes your gender identity. You can also select to be shown in searches which best reflect your identity. All users have the option to display their gender on their profile, as well.
No one will ever be banned from Tinder because of their gender. We haven’t had the right tools to serve our diverse community in the past, but that changes today. In addition to this new feature, we are learning to be a better ally to transgender and gender non-conforming communities by allocating additional resources to our support team, which includes educating our staff about the challenges facing these communities.
Another trans woman says she was banned from Tinder but later reinstated the Independent article said this about her reinstatement,
Tinder posted an apologetic statement on Twitter in response to Blaque’s complaints, claiming that they had restored her account and that believing in inclusivity and acceptance is “a core value of our company.”

When Blaque checked her phone, she discovered that her profile was still deleted from the app.
When the Independent reached out to Tinder they replied that they are inclusive but they cannot not discuss the details, “"While we cannot share details regarding specific users or investigations…” evidently they cannot even share it with the person who they blackballed.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

It Is Not Brain Surgery

There is an article in a medical website for healthcare providers on how to treat trans patients, my answer would be short and sweet… just like any other patients.
He, She, They: Some Tips for Treating Transgender Patients
Jennifer Flynn, CPHRM, addresses a range of questions
Med Page Today
By Michele Wojciechowski
December 23, 2017

When dealing with any patients, nurses want to be respectful. But there may be some confusion as to what they should do or say when treating patients who are transgender or genderqueer. Jennifer Flynn, CPHRM, risk manager with the Nurses Service Organization (NSO), answered our questions on this topic. Following is an edited version of our interview.

How should a nurse find out if a patient is transgender? How should the discussion begin?
A nurse may or may not know whether a patient is transgender or genderqueer, and depending on their role, a nurse may not need to know a patient's gender identity. For example, if a patient is presenting with an upper respiratory issue, there is no medical need to find out a person's gender status or to perform a genital exam.

The patient's healthcare record may indicate their gender status and preferred name, or the information in the healthcare record may be out of date or incomplete. If a nurse is unsure about a person's gender identity, or how they wish to be addressed, ask politely for clarification. You can ask "How do you prefer to be addressed?" or "What is your preferred name?" In the interest of facilitating a good provider-patient relationship, with any patient, it is important not to make assumptions about patients' identity, beliefs, concerns, or sexual orientation.
I think that first paragraph is the key. Keep your questions relative to the injury or the medical problem, if it is a broken wrist you don’t need to know what is between their legs.
How should a nurse approach the subject of which gender the patient identifies as and which pronoun to use? When the nurse finds out, should s/he be the one to tell every other healthcare worker who will see the patient? Will it go in the patient's chart? Or should the nurse do both? Why?
My answer is a flat NO! she should not go telling everyone that we are trans for two reasons, first is that if the person is not directly involved in the healthcare of the individual it is none of their business, and second and most important it is a violation of HIPAA!

She writes…
This information will be included in that patient's healthcare record, which is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy laws. Never disclose a person's gender status to anyone who does not explicitly need the information for care. If disclosure is relevant to the patient's care, use discretion and inform the patient whenever possible.
Some of the other questions that the author covers are…

  • Suppose a transgender person prefers to use "they"? How should a nurse approach that?
  • What are some of the care challenges for transgender patients?
  • What are the legal and regulatory requirements?
  • What does is mean for a nurse to be culturally competent regarding transgender patients?
  • What else should nurses know -- overall -- about treating transgender patients?

The article ends with a list of resources including NCTE.

I know healthcare is one of our major concerns. I volunteer at the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective and that is the number one question that I am asked… “Where can I find a trans friendly doctor?”

I personally have never had a problem with any healthcare providers and I have seen many providers but I know of trans people who have had problems, one was refused treatment at a hospital here in Connecticut. She slipped and fell on some ice and in the emergency room when they found out she was trans they sent her home and told her see her doctor in the morning. In another hospital I know someone who had hospital employees come into her room to laugh.

Virginia Slims ad from the sixties said “You've Come A Long Way, Baby.” We have but there still is a long ways to go.

A Hot Topic

Today’s post is not so much about an article but rather the response to the article… the article is about Drag Queens.
NBC Receives Complaints About Drag Queen Performance On “The Voice”
Won't somebody please think of the children?!
By  Adam Salandra
December 21, 2017

Chris Weaver stole the show with his surprise drag performance on the season finale of The Voice this week, but in a not-at-all-surprising turn of events, bigoted viewers are clutching their pearls in horror.

After being eliminated earlier in the season, Weaver returned to the stage as Nedra Belle and performed Jessie J’s “Bang Bang” with fellow drag queens Jan Sport, Lagoona Bloo and Rosé.

The performance was so great it had judges Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Hudson throwing their shoes at the stage in adoration. But angry tweets immediately came pouring in because—gasp!—think of the children!

“Shame on you NBC, I thought you catered to families. You really crossed the line when you allowed the ’drag queen’ act,” wrote one outraged viewer.
Think of the children!

OMG what will happen to the children! Well absolutely nothing, what will affect them is the way adults behave and they are behaving badly.

And it is not just the conservative religious community that is up in arms but also the LGBT community. Just like any community the LGBTQ community is not homogeneous but rather it is heterogeneous, we are made up of individuals from all race, religions, and social economic backgrounds and like all communities there’re bigots; homophobes, transphobes, internalized homophobes, internalized transphobes, racists, and sexists.

There are some trans people who despise drag queens and I personally believe that it stems from internalized transphobes… “I’m not like them!”

I’ve seen it in supports groups the homophobia and the dragphobia.

I’ve also seen a lot of transphobia from the lesbians and gays.

But I have also seen way, way more gays and lesbians who accept trans people, way more who stand up for us and stand alongside of us.

I think part of the divide is fostered by the media.

When you see photos of Pride parades who gets to be on the front page… it is the drag queens. They sell the ads; just having ordinary trans people, gays, and lesbians on the front page doesn’t grab readers.

Many trans people shy away from being grouped with the drag communities because I think they are homophobic, many trans people are married and I think that they are afraid their spouses with think that they are gay… guilt by association.

Another factor might be that many trans people, gay and lesbian people adhere to the gender binary and drag queens shred the gender binary.

My take is that anyone who crosses the gender normative is trans. Period.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Peace On Earth and Goodwill To All
Earthrise (NASW Photo) Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

It this time of year that we reflect on all that has happened this past year and to give thanks. However, for many it is not a time to rejoice, it is a time of loneliness, their families may have moved and left them behind, their family or spouse might have pasted away leaving them without any close relatives or their children might be at their in-laws for this holiday, for whatever the reason, it is a lonely time.

This year I will not be with my family, the day they are getting together I had a prior commitment so I will be going to a friend's apartment to share the Christmas spirit.

For many in the LGBT community it is an especially lonely time,
they might not have seen their family since they came out to them. Their families and children have disowned them. Sometimes when we do attend the gathering, we feel like outcasts, like the square peg in the round hole, we just don’t fit in, we are tolerated when we bring our partners or ourselves to the table.

So let us open our hearts and doors to them and invite them to the table.

I leave you with this Christmas song by Nat King Cole - Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

And a cute little video...

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Bigotry Rears Its Ugly Head

Bible verse are OK, American flags are OK, ‘Make America Great Again’ is OK, but the Rainbow flag was a big no, no.
He painted a symbol of gay pride. Now this Kansas high school’s tradition is over
Kansas City Star
By Jason Tidd
December 16, 2017

When Marion High School student Logan Waner painted a rainbow flag on his parking space, he didn’t intend to end a six-year senior tradition.

But earlier this week, after nearly three months of controversy, the tradition is over. The school board voted 4-3 Monday to end the practice of seniors painting their parking stalls, the Marion County Record reported.

Waner painted a rainbow flag — a symbol of LGBT pride — on his parking spot at the central Kansas school in September. A day later, Chuck Seifert of Marion showed up at a special school board meeting to complain to superintendent Aaron Homburg.
Then the vigilantes attacked…
Waner kept his spot, but a vandal covered the public property with black latex asphalt sealer the next day.
And as usual the majority of the students saw beyond the bigotry…
A protest of the flag was organized in November, but more counter-protestors showed up than protestors. At the scene, Waner kissed a male friend from Wichita on a sidewalk between the protestors, his parking spot and students watching from school grounds.
U.S. News and World Report had this to say,
The school board for the 500-student Marion-Florence school district voted 4-3 this month to put an end to the homecoming week tradition, which had created challenges in the past. Superintendent Aaron Homburg told The Associated Press that last year one student wasn't allowed to paint a Confederate flag and another was stopped from painting a marijuana leaf.

"It's not about one instance," Homburg said. "There have been issues in the past."
I think that the school board made the right decision in terminating the school tradition once it started to become politicized, I don’t understand why they started it in the first place.

Diversity Is Our Strength.

One of the things that make our country so great is diversity; no European, Asian, African, Middle Eastern country can hold a candle to our diversity.
Twitter Users Erupt Over GOP Congressman’s ‘Diversity Is Not Our Strength’ Post
“You are Exhibit A why a family tree should fork and culture should be a bouillabaisse of the best of all people.”
Huffington Post
By Lee Moran
December 9, 2017

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has sparked outrage on Twitter once again with his views on immigration.

The congressman ― who has previously lauded white nationalism on the social media platform ― wrote on Twitter Friday, “Diversity is not our strength.”

He cited Hungary’s hardline Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who reportedly stated that “mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.”
Steve King
Diversity is not our strength. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.”
8:00 AM - Dec 8, 2017 · Arlington, VA
Hungary’s PM: Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but to a lower one
Via Hungary Journal
The current debate in the European Union pertains to freedom and to the question of whether all countries should be “obligated to become an immigration country”, or they can retain the sovereignty “to say no to that future”, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in an interview broadcast on commercial Echo Tv on Thursday night.
King followed up with this tweet, in which he claimed that “assimilation, not diversity, is our American strength.”
Why do I say that diversity makes us great?

Consider any country in the “old world” they are homogenous. You can probably trace your entire family tree back generation all from within a radius of a hundred miles, now there is mobility but it is within the country.

While the United States your neighbor might be from Eastern Europe, your other neighbor might be from Asia, and another neighbor might be from the Middle East and Muslin. Across the street might be a black couple. The gene pool here in the U.S. is amazing.

All these cultures have a different way of thinking and handling problems.

When a business is diverse their problem solving is diverse and each of us adds our uniqueness.

One of the problems of IBM in the 50s and 60s was all their engineers were cookie cutters of one another. When these to hippies came in with a radical idea of a small desk top computer they were thrown out on their ear.

When one of their engineers came and said she was transitioning they couldn’t show her the door fast enough; she later went on to become one of the pioneers of the Integrate Chip revolution.

When the President of the United States has a diversified White House staff and cabinet great things got done. When it is an all-white male staff shit happens.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Happy Holidays!

Saturday 9: Happy Holidays! (from the archives) 

On Saturdays I take a break from the heavy stuff and have some fun…

1. As you can see, Sam loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. Yet some children are reluctant to climb into Jolly Old St. Nick's lap. Did you enjoy the tradition or were you shy? Or did you by pass it altogether -- either because you wrote him a letter or because your family didn't celebrate Christmas?
Oh wow… that was sixty years ago.
I probably did sit on his lap because I was a greedy kid… I wanted all those toys

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there?

3. Did you ship any gifts to friends and family this year? If so, which one traveled the farthest?
Nope. We normally have a Yankee Swap.

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year?
Digital Camcorders Full HD 1080P 30FPS 24MP Video Camera 16X Digital Zoom IR Night Vision Digital Camera with External Microphone and Wide Angle Lens

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie? Have you seen it yet this year?
Bah Humbug… I don’t have any favorite movie.
But I did go to see the play A Connecticut Christmas Carol.

6. Thinking of movies, Christmas is lucrative for Hollywood. Have you ever gone to a movie theater on Christmas Day?
Yes and then we went and had Chinese.
It was only my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and her son, her son got to pick the movie.

7. Have you ever suffered an embarrassing moment at the company Christmas party?
Nope, I never really drank that much booze at Christmas parties… well once I was out of my twenties that is.

8. What's your favorite beverage in cold weather?
Don’t tell my diabetes doctor but holidays are “For-the-hell-of-it” day so I have hot mulled apple cider with Captain Morgan rum.

9. Share a memory from last Christmas.
Driving six hours to a three hour dinner.

Thanks so much for joining us again at Saturday: 9. As always, feel free to come back, see who has participated and comment on their posts. In fact sometimes, if you want to read & comment on everyone's responses, you might want to check back again tomorrow. But it is not a rule. We haven’t any rules here. Join us next week for another version of Saturday: 9, "Just A Silly Meme on a Saturday!" Enjoy your holidays!

Friday, December 22, 2017

This Is Very Disturbing!

The majority of people think it is okay to discriminate against us, but they are against discrimination by race.
Americans don’t think businesses need a religious excuse to discriminate
LGBTQ Nation
By Alex Bollinger
December 21, 2017

A new study published in Science Advances found that Americans don’t really care if a business is discriminating because of the owners’ “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

Brian Powell and other researchers at Indiana University conducted a study of 2000 people to tease out people’s attitudes about discrimination. Participants were presented with a scenario of an engaged couple going to a wedding photographer and being turned away.
Overall, 53% of people thought that discrimination should be legal when it’s against the gay couple, and 39% said it should be legal to refuse to serve an interracial couple.

But people didn’t really care if a religious reason was given or not: about the same percentage of people thought it should be legal to discriminate based on religious disapproval or non-religious disapproval.
This is very troubling, it means that we have a lot of work to do to make people realize that all discrimination is wrong.

They thought it alright for a small business to discriminate but not the large box stores,
What participants did care about was the type of business that was discriminating; they were twice as likely to say that a sole proprietorship should be allowed to discriminate than a large chain store.
They justified their beliefs by…
Instead, those who favored discrimination made a private/public distinction and often assumed that the free market would take care of the problem.

“It’s the idea that people who treat different groups differently ultimately will be penalized,” he said. “Ultimately, the market would wipe out discriminatory businesses.”
Wishful thinking.

For one thing is you are in a state that is anti-LGBT you might not be able to find any place that wants your business if you are LGBT. Also minorities be definition don’t have any power, they don’t have financial resources, and they don’t have a political voice.

We need to educate the public that discrimination affects everyone and that the market place will not correct itself.

Also we need to educate the public that believing it is wrong to think it is okay to discriminate against us but not because of race… that thinking is itself discriminatory.

Some Things To Think About

  1. The bonuses that the Republicans are touting were announced back in the fall and have nothing to do with the tax bill.
  2. The last time the corporate taxes were cut businesses bought back their own stock and a recent survey by the Yale reported that the majority of companies are going to do the same thing.
  3. Less than half of the people in the U.S. are saving for retirement and the majority of those saving for retirement have less than $200,000 in savings which means the stock market increase will have no effect on their savings.
  4. There is a law that the Republicans keep forgetting… which is the Law of Supply and Demand. The Tax Foundation estimates an average savings of $593.84 which will not drive the economy.
  5. The tax bill will create a huge bill for the next generation. Over the next ten years the deficit is expected to by $1.5 trillion! So much for financial responsibility.  
  6. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate will drive up insurance premiums because without the mandate younger, healthier people into the risk pool will drive up the costs of insurance. There are some estimates that the rise in premiums will be more than the tax savings.
  7. If Trump doesn't sign the tax bill this year it is because they want to avoid the automatic cuts of the so-called PAYGO law, that forces automatic cuts to Medicare and other spending categories. [Update 12:15  He just signed the bill, so that means that the Republicans are going to have to make cuts in 2018]
  8. Buried in the tax bill is a provision that makes fetus “unborn persons.” Why? It is to ban abortions because by defining a person as a fertilized egg it will make all abortion murders.

It Is Hard Being Trans Around The World

Last week I wrote about being trans in Indonesia, today it is about being trans in Iran.
Transgender In Tehran: Arsham's Story
Radio Free Europe
December 21, 2017

Under Iran's conservative Islamic regime, people can legally change their gender, even though homosexuality remains illegal. But they are still pressured to conform to conventional roles. Arsham, a young transgender woman in Iran, faces daily harassment from strangers and questioning by the morality police over her refusal to wear a hijab. She shared videos of her daily life with correspondent Masih Alinejad of RFE/RL's Radio Farda [The video is at the end of this post].
But for gay men it is a choice between literally losing your head or having Gender Confirming Surgery (only in this case it is not GCS but forced surgery).
“Everyone treated me like a saint”—In Iran, there’s only one way to survive as a transgender person
By Neha Thirani Bagri
April 19, 2017

In Iran, homosexuality is a crime, punishable with death for men and lashings for women. But Iran is also the only Muslim country in the Persian Gulf region that gives trans citizens the right to have their gender identity recognized by the law. In fact, the Islamic Republic of Iran not only allows sex reassignment, but also subsidizes it.

Before the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran there was no official government policy on transgender people. After the revolution, under the new religious government, transsexuals were placed in the same category as homosexuals, condemned by Islamic leaders and considered illegal.

Things changed largely due to the efforts of Maryam Khatoon Molkara. Molkara was fired from her job, forcibly injected with male hormones and put in a psychiatric institution during the 1979 revolution. But thanks to her high-level contacts among Iran’s influential clerics, she was able to get released. Afterwards, she worked with several religious leaders to advocate for trans rights and eventually managed to wrangle a meeting with Ayatollah Khomeini, the “supreme leader” of Iran at the time. Molkara and her group were able to eventually convince Khamenei to pass a fatwa in 1986 declaring gender-confirmation surgery and hormone-replacement therapy religiously acceptable medical procedures.
The moral police are everywhere and if you are trans the government steers you toward having surgery and if you are gay it is your death sentence, so what would your choice be if you had to chose between death and having surgery?
Worse, a trans person who is not legally recognized can be accused of homosexuality and face the death penalty. In fact, in some cases gay people in Iran decide to undergo the surgery because the alternative is death. “The sex change operation is most of the time forced on trans people by the culture and by the government,” says Ghahreman.
Even with surgery life is still hell. Many trans people, lesbians  and gays flee the country and seek asylum.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

From Two Worlds

There are some closed religious communities that don’t want anything from the outside world but what happens when someone leaves the community.

What happens when that person is trans and has children with someone in the community?
Transgender Jewish woman wins review of child contact case
UK appeal court says ruling that woman should not see her children did not address issues of human rights and discrimination
The Guardian
By Harriet Sherwood
December 20, 2017

An ultra-Orthodox Jew who left her community to start a new life as a woman has won the right to have her case reviewed in the high court after an earlier ruling that she should have no direct contact with her five children.

The court of appeal has decided to refer back the case of the woman, known in court as J, who has not seen her children since leaving the tight-knit Haredi community in Manchester in 2015.

After it became known that J was living as a woman, the community threatened to ostracise the family if they had any contact with her.

J told the high court in November 2016 she believed she was the first transgender person to have left a Haredi community in the UK. She said she understood the community’s rejection of her: “They have to get rid of me – I have sympathy with that.”

However, in an attempt to see her children, then aged between five and 12, she said she would accept any contact conditions, including reverting as far as possible to her previous male appearance in the early stages.
The Haredi community  had threaten to expel the family so the judge who heard the case originally said that granting joint custody would cause irrevocable harm to the child so the judge sided with the mother. Now the appeals court has agreed send her case back to the lower court.
The appeal court described the case as “stark, deeply saddening and extremely disturbing”. It said that many people would find the earlier judgment “both surprising and disturbing, thinking to themselves, and we can understand why, how can this be so, how can this be right?”

The judges upheld a number of complaints J made about Jackson’s decisions. They said it was “unfortunate that the judge did not address head-on the human rights issues and issues of discrimination which arose”.
In all the time since she was forced out of the cult, what has the cult done to her children to indoctrinate them against her?

The play was good… but it will never make it to Broadway.

The play was a twist on Dickens’ Christmas Carol and it was set in Connecticut, there were a number of Connecticut references such as Sage Allen, G. Fox, Hartford, and Haddam and was set in the 1920’s. The ghosts were Harriet Beecher Stowe (ghost of Christmas past), Mark Twain (ghost of Christmas present), and P.T. Barnum (ghost of Christmas future).

One of the actresses wore a gorgeous flapper dress and hat, but then it was probably a size 8 and I don’t think a size 22W wouldn’t look as good.

The couple I was with went out to dinner afterward but I didn’t join them because four o’clock was too early to for dinner. Also in the evening I went with some friends to see Silver Lights at Hubble Park in Meriden.

A Major Breach Of Trust

Beware! Trigger warning!

The violation of privacy of a support group is probably one of the most egregious crimes there is. Whether it is Alcoholics Anonymous, or Gamblers Anonymous, or a mental help support group, or support group for those with PTSD, or a transgender support group can cause irreparable harm to its members, well it happened in Vermont where a conservative group infiltrated a trans support group with video cameras.
Undercover Video Targets Transgender Vermonters 
Seven Days VT
By Taylor Dobbs
December 20, 2017

Marcus wasn't expecting to go viral when he showed up to an October meeting on transgender health care at the Pride Center of Vermont. But in the months since, hundreds of thousands of viewers have seen his face — and those of a dozen other transgender Vermonters — in a searing video attack posted online by a conservative provocateur.

The video has Marcus and other attendees fearing that they could be outed against their will to family, friends and coworkers — imperiling their livelihoods and, perhaps, their safety.

"Who's going to know, and what they're going to do with that information, you have no idea," said Marcus, a trans man who declined to provide his last name for fear of jeopardizing his career. "Being exposed like that, the only word I can really use is 'devastating.' It shakes you to your core."

The 14-minute video includes footage shot surreptitiously by right-wing activist Steven Crowder, his wife and two associates, all of whom posed as members of the LGBTQ community to infiltrate the meeting at the Pride Center's Burlington headquarters. Titled "UNDERCOVER: Transgenders ACTIVELY Targeting Children and Medicaid!" it uses selectively edited clips to establish an unsubstantiated narrative that transgender activists are improperly using Medicaid to pay for gender reassignment surgeries and other treatments.
Of course in the style of the conservative “stings” it is heavy edited,
True to his brand, Crowder's narration describes the Pride Center meeting in a harsh, mocking tone. He makes no apparent effort to follow ethical standards of filmmaking or journalism. Crowder's sensational title isn't supported by the footage, which mostly consists of participants discussing how transgender individuals can access the American health care system.
Crowder's video is part of a larger trend, popularized by the conservative agitator James O'Keefe, of using heavily edited hidden-camera footage to "prove" some form of wrongdoing and discredit individuals and institutions. Notable targets of such attacks have included the community organizing group ACORN, Planned Parenthood and, most recently, the Washington Post.
And they chose their targets well because…
Vermont is a "one-party state," meaning it's legal to record a conversation with the permission of just one participant — in this case, Crowder.

"The video was obviously objectionable, and it was inappropriate, but ... we didn't identify any criminal laws that were broken," said Assistant Attorney General Julio Thompson, who directs the AG's civil rights unit. "From the video, it appeared that all of the conversations were in a public setting, so we didn't identify any public statute that would outlaw those recordings."
They picked a state where you don’t have to tell anyone that you are videotaping them.
Since Crowder's video went viral, the Pride Center has contacted each person who attended the October event, Butt said. The organization has also reinforced and formalized its no-recording policy. A new sign posted prominently on the center's front door informs visitors that recording of any form is prohibited inside. Event facilitators at the center are being trained to avoid similar incidents in the future.
I think good legislation is a bill banning filming at support groups without written permission from everyone in the group and ban filming in medical facility.

Connecticut law says...
Summary of statute(s): Connecticut requires at least one party’s consent to record an in-person conversation, and the consent of all parties to a telephonic conversation. The state’s voyeurism law prohibits taking visual images of another person without that person’s consent or knowledge when there is an expectation of privacy.

Hidden cameras: The state’s voyeurism law prohibits knowingly photographing, filming or recording in any way another person’s image without consent in situations where the person is unaware of the filming, not in plain view and has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-189a.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Forced Sterilization

In Connecticut you do not need surgery to change you documentation, it is only one of a handful of states that you can change your birth certificate and other IDs without surgery. Some states do not let you change your birth certificate at all.
Human Rights Watch Urges Japan To End Forced Trans Sterilization
"Forcing people to undergo unwanted surgeries to obtain documentation is contrary to [the country's] reputation as a champion of LGBT rights."
By Samantha Manzella
December 19, 2017
Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently issued a report urging Japan to end forced sterilization of trans people in order to obtain legal recognition.

As of 2003, trans people in Japan must “permanently lack functioning gonads” before they can be legally recognized with the correct gender markers.

The practice has been widely condemned by human rights organizations around the world, including the UN, who called “sterilization surgeries as a prerequisite to enjoy legal recognition of their preferred gender” a human rights violation.

Government officials in Japan have defended the policy, citing a need for “objectivity and certainty” in determining whether people were actually transgender and deserving of legal verification.
Most countries around the world also require surgery to change your documentation. As far as I know only a few countries allow you to change your birth certificate without surgery.

This afternoon I am at Terris Theater in Chester CT to watch the play A Connecticut Christmas Carol,
Some of the most beloved storytellers in Connecticut history come alive for a yuletide gathering you won’t forget. Famed actor and local legend William Gillette leaves his castle on the Connecticut River to adapt Dickens’ holiday classic in the 1920s. Local heroes Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe and P.T. Barnum make spirited appearances opposite Gillette’s Scrooge in a highly theatrical twist on a family favorite. Custom-made for Goodspeed with all-original music, here’s a tuneful, heartfelt confection spiced with enough Nutmeg State flavor to sweeten your season.

Under Attack Again

While the Supreme Court debates religious based discrimination in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case a Florida legislator wants to introduce Florida’s own “religious freedom” special rights law.
Florida proposes anti-LGBT ‘licence to discriminate’ law
Pink News
By Joseph Patrick McCormick 
20th December 2017

The US state of Florida could be getting its own brand new law allowing businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation [let us not forget us… an gender identity].

Trump-supporting Republican Florida state Representative Jay Fant has introduced the ‘Free Enterprise Protection Act’, which would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people.

Fant, a state Representative who also has aspirations to be the state’s next attorney general has said he was inspired by a legal case around the Masterpiece Cakeshop which refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple.

The bill, House Bill 871, is crafted in the vision of the First Amendment Defense Act which has been introduced in Congress.

If enacted, the law would block the government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business over its “personal employee benefit policies”.

It would also protect businesses claiming they are exercising freedoms of religion.
Notice the bill is very broad and is not just limited to sexual orientation, the text of the bill says that any law that goes against businesses’ rights of freedom of expression and free exercise of religion.

Besides giving them right to discriminate against anything and anyone, it also treats businesses a person.

Meanwhile also down in Florida some sanity…
Palm Beach County becomes Florida's first county to ban gay conversion therapy
Orlando Weekly
Posted By Xander Peters
December 19, 2017

On Tuesday, Palm Beach County commissioners voted to ban gay conversion therapy for minors, becoming the first county in Florida to do so outright.

Citing a lawsuit by members of the Maitland-based Liberty Counsel, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, against the city of Tampa, Palm Beach County Attorney Denise Nieman reportedly recommended that the commission not vote in favor of the proposed ordinance. However, a sweeping 5-2 majority in favor of the conversion ban decided otherwise.

Gay conversion therapy — also known as "reparative therapy" or "sexual orientation therapy" — has been increasingly banned across the state of Florida (and the world), in large part cited as an overwhelmingly harmful practice.

Proponents of the draconian practice view these bans as an infringement of the right to freedom of speech for therapists, thus crossing the conservative lines drawn in the sand in terms of government overreach.
And of course Liberty Counsel is involved with the lawsuit; it is an evangelical Christian law firm that has ties with Liberty University Law School, which was founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell. They are labeled as a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Connecticut has a law banning Conversion Therapy for minors under 18.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

You Know That This Is My Favorite Topic

Trans actresses/actors.

We are starting to make inroads in the large and small screens with more trans actors on television (other than talk shows) and more trans people in the movies.
Pacific Standard recommends Sebastián Lelio's new film, which features a remarkable performance by transgender actress Daniela Vega.
Pacific Standard
By Kristina Kutateli
December 18, 2017

If unlikely to change the industry in that regard, this year's A Fantastic Woman, directed by Chilean filmmaker Sebastián Lelio, promises to set a good example for it. The story follows Marina, a young transgender waitress in love with an older man: When he dies suddenly, Marina confronts his family members, who reject both their relationship and her identity. Marina, the titular fantastic woman, is played by real-life transgender actress Daniela Vega, who awards pundits are already projecting may make Academy Awards history next year as the first transgender woman to be nominated in a major category. Regardless, her film will diversify this year's box office; it will also introduce viewers to a major new talent.
There has been a number of other independent films with trans actors, such as “And Then There Was Eve” which won the LA Muse Fiction Award at the LA Film Festival.

Then from a couple of years ago “Boy Meets Girl” which starred Michelle Hendley and won numerous awards around the country.

The best actress or actor for a movie is becoming a trans actress/actor.

It Is More Than Just The Words

It is the philosophy behind the words. It is trying to eradicate thought.

Take the word “fetus” which is one of the banned words, why is it banned?

For the answer we have to go to the Republican tax bill, read what Snopes has to say…
The 2017 GOP tax overhaul plan includes language that attempts to codify “fetal personhood.”
Since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, which served to legalize abortion nationwide in 1973, there have been legal fights that alternately seek to expand or reduce the protections granted after the case.

A common battleground on that front is the concept of fetal personhood — the legal theory that a fetus has the same legal rights as a person. A 2010 legal review on the topic describes the politics surrounding the debate:
The law is not clear on exactly who or what counts as a person […]. Pro-choice advocates worry that, if the law declares the fetus a “person,” then the war for reproductive rights will be lost. The pro-life population, on the other hand, welcomes such an interpretation as a means to wage their own war on the legality of abortion.
The latest effort to instate legal precedent for fetal personhood, media reports have argued, was quietly added to the two GOP-sponsored tax-reform bills currently under consideration in the House and in the Senate, though the Senate later repealed this language prior to passing their final version on 2 December 2017.
So the word “fetus” is probably banned because a “fetus” is not a person and the dogma of the Republican Party is to ban all abortions so they don’t want to use words like “fetus” they want you to use words like “unborn child.”

The New York Daily News said it best,
No data, no problem. It’s the time-worn way powerful cowards deal with inconvenient truths. Step 1: Deny the problem exists. Step 2: Suppress the data and deny the resources to document the problem exists. Step 3: Suppress the data and deny the resources to show that solutions to the problem exist or can be devised.
The Trump administration also removed sexual orientation and transgender from the 2020 U.S. census; if you are not counted you don’t exist.

When we were trying to pass the gender inclusive non-discrimination bill one question always popped up… “How many trans people are in Connecticut?”

Trump and the Republican party is trying to eradicate LGBT people by removing all references to us from the federal records.

Some Place Don’t Like Us… No I Mean Really Don’t Like Us

We are used to getting harassed on the streets, we hear the rhetoric from the far right and the Republicans but we don’t have vigilantes hunting us down… yet.
Vigilantes Stalk Indonesian Transgender Women
Incident Underscores Sharia Threat to LGBT People
Human Rights Watch
By Kyle Knight
December 18, 2017

Militant Islamist vigilantes targeted a group of transgender women attending a birthday celebration in Indonesia’s Aceh province on Saturday.

The mob alerted the local Sharia (Islamic law) police, who detained seven women in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, for 24 hours, and chastised them for “bad morals” before releasing them. 

Everything—from the vigilante-style snooping, to the Sharia police tip-off, to the official shaming—is in accordance with local Acehnese law. Aceh, the only Indonesian province that can legally adopt bylaws derived from Sharia, makes male and female same-sex conduct a criminal offense.

Local officials have made matters worse by aggressively stoking homophobia. In 2013, Banda Aceh mayor Illiza Saaduddin declared that “homosexuals are encroaching on our city.” In February 2016, Saaduddin posted to Instagram a photo of herself holding a handgun and vowing to purge Aceh of LGBT people. That same month, she announced she would create a “special team” to boost public awareness of the “threat of LGBT” people and to “train” LGBT people to “return to a normal life.”
We sometimes lose sight that no matter how bad Trump is and how much hate he stirred up other places around the world have it a lot worst.

But also consider this a warning of what could happen here if the hatred goes unchecked.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Another Ally

We need all the allies that we can get especially in today’s political climate and it is nice wen that ally is a doctor and it is practically important when is in a high government position.
As A Physician, Here’s Why I Stand In Solidarity With The Transgender Community
Their fight must become ours as well.
By Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH, Contributor: Deputy Commissioner NYC Dept. of Health & Founding Director of the Center for Health Equity
December 15, 2017

A few years ago, I remember reading that the estimated average life expectancy for a black transgender woman is 35 years old. Having already passed 35 myself, I was bewildered by this statistic, especially since most of my professional time is spent protecting the health of people. In public health, we primarily rely on data to spur us into action. However over the years, I have discovered that numbers are not always enough to move consciousness towards affirming the humanity of others. Stories do.

The story and life of Marsha P. Johnson did exactly that for me.
The article goes on to talking about the changes from Marsha’s death until now, how some great strides have been made in some areas but setback in other areas such as health care.
This is an unacceptable reality. We in the medical and public health communities can help right these wrongs by acknowledging our own history of pathologizing and discriminating against trans people, learning from their experiences, being inclusive of the voices, ideas, and expertise of transgender people in every step of building policy and practice, and stepping aside so that transgender leaders can lead.

Only then can we really start to reshape the narrative and begin to dismantle systems of transphobia, homophobia, racism, and sexism that play an integral role in the oppression faced by transgender people, especially transgender women of color.
Here is what we, the medical and public health community, can all do:
• Advocate for standardized sexual orientation and gender identity data collection. (The Williams Institute provides some useful guidance.)
• Allow all people to self-identify their gender identity on all identity documents, surveys, forms, and other materials.
• Train and educate staff on racial and gender equity as well as the importance of addressing transgender people according to their pronouns, name, and gender identity.
• Enhance programs and services to ensure that all people, especially transgender people of color, can walk into any health center, hospital, or other medical facility and receive quality care that affirms their identities.
• Partner with education, housing, employment, and law enforcement sectors to reduce discrimination and stigma and create inclusive policies that enhance the health and well-being of transgender and gender non-conforming people.
As a public health professional and a woman of color who does not identify as transgender, I feel the responsibility to fight for the rights and the wellbeing of transgender people. Their fight must become ours as well, because the liberation of a group of oppressed people is tied to the liberation of all oppressed people.
Unfortunately, the current administration is doing the exact opposite of the recommendations by the Deputy Commissioner.