Sunday, March 11, 2018

Good News Stories

Trans good news stories are hard to find but I found one from right here in Connecticut…
Coming out presents unique challenges for Stamford transgender student
The Stamford Advocate
By Erin Kayata
March 10, 2018

STAMFORD — On the surface, Jessie Tarzia’s bedroom looks like one belonging any 18-year-old girl.

Glass jars filled with well-used paint brushes sit on one shelf, and on a pink bucket chair is a white ukulele. The bookshelf is lined with nonfiction about the supernatural and horror novels, her favorite genre. A bulletin board features photo-booth snapshots with Jessie and her friends striking silly poses at a “Sweet 16” party. There’s also a tall, white umbrella lamp for filming YouTube videos, a remnant of her vlogging days.

Jessie is a high-school senior, a painter, an actress, a daughter, a big sister and a friend, among other things. She is also one of 1.4 million transgender people in the United States, according to estimates by UCLA’s Williams Institute. Being transgender is just another component of Jessie’s life. But coming out as a young student in middle school presented a unique set of challenges.

“I noticed something was different when I was 5 years old,” she said. “I just didn’t feel comfortable with myself, with the clothes I was wearing, the way I acted, my interests. There were definitely some things I felt were still very boy-like...but I always felt there was this need for me to do something else.”

Given the name Justin at birth, Jessie always wanted to wear dresses, play with dolls and put on makeup.
It is the best of times it is the worst of times

It is the best of times for coming out pre-teen, before the evil puberty kicks in, before we develop secondary sex characterizes, before Tanner Stage 2.
The Tarzias met regularly with Rogers staff to discuss Jessie’s 504 plan — granted to her under the federal special-education law for children with disabilities. During those meetings, Jessie’s gender transition was discussed, and the school arranged for her to use the bathroom in the nurse’s office. But when the Tarzias learned about the Connecticut law allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their preference, Jessie began using the girls restroom.

“I had enough of walking so far out of my way just to go to the bathroom,” she said. “I just went into the girls bathroom and when I came out, the world hadn’t exploded. Everyone was completely comfortable with it.”
A link to Connecticut’s Department of Education guideline is here and here.

The worst of times…

One of the things that I am concerned about is the push for the so called “religious freedom” legislation and how it will affect state laws.
Republicans return the anti-gay First Amendment Defense Act to Congress
Think Progress
By Zack Ford
March 9, 2018

When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Republicans in Congress were very optimistic this would mean they could finally pass a bill legalizing discrimination against same-sex couples. This week, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) followed through, reintroducing the so-called “First Amendment Defense Act” (FADA).

FADA singles out a specific set of conservative beliefs for special dispensation to discriminate: those who oppose same-sex marriage and those who oppose sex outside of marriage. The bill defines these privileges as such:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person speaks, or acts, in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief, or moral conviction, that —
(1) marriage is or should be recognized as a union of—
(A) one man and one woman;
(B) two individuals as recognized under Federal law; or
(2) sexual relations outside marriage are improper.
The language here is fairly insidious. A person who is held accountable for treating others unfairly because they oppose their same-sex relationship or their decision to engage in premarital sex would be considered a victim of “discriminatory action.” They would be entitled to cite FADA as a defense that they should not be in any way punished for their own discriminatory actions.
I fear that these federal laws will override state non-discrimination laws.
FADA protects this group from broad actions. The legislation stipulates they can’t be denied any tax benefit and they can’t be denied any access to “any Federal grant, contract, subcontract, cooperative agreement, guarantee, loan, scholarship, license, certification, accreditation, employment or other similar position or status.”

In a statement accompanying the bill’s introduction, Lee openly admitted that he wants to make sure organizations and individuals can discriminate without consequence. FADA ensures, he said, “that federal bureaucrats will never have the authority to require those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage to choose between their living in accordance with those beliefs and maintaining their occupation or their tax status.”
What will happen to Jessie is one of her teachers invokes the FADA? What happens if another student invokes the FADA.

I don’t think that this law will pass the mustard of the Fourteenth Amendment… but if Justice Kennedy does retire this summer and Trump gets to pick another religious conservative Justice that can reshape the entire legal systems.

Will these so called “religious freedom” laws be just another way to advance bigotry and force Jessie back in to the closet?

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