Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Don't Know If This Is Good News Or Not

On Friday on Facebook there was a post that was starting to go viral about an Advocate article on how Medicare and Medicaid wants input on providing coverage for Gender Confirming Surgery. The article had a link but by the time I clicked on it the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services had taken it down…
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal government's national insurance program, is reconsidering whether or not it should cover gender reassignment surgery (often called sex reassignment surgery) for transgender people who have Medicare. It has offered the public 30 days to offer opinions on the matter. Since around 48 million people are covered by Medicare, if the agency decides to allow coverage, the change would have a significant impact on transgender people in the U.S.

This official reconsideration of coverage began yesterday and goes for 29 more days in which the public can comment.
Then the internet was abuzz with speculation on what happened. But then an article in “The Hill” started appearing in post say they closed the comments and are going to consider it internally.
The Health and Human Services Department said early Friday that it would accept public comments on whether to reexamine its decision not to cover sex changes.

But a spokesperson said Friday evening that the proposal has been withdrawn. HHS pulled information from its website Friday after various news media outlets reported on the issue.

The controversial decision to consider using taxpayer money to cover sex changes was sure to attract criticism from Congress. 
And that is what I am now worried about. The news media caught wind of it and it is going to be all over Fox News and other far-right conservative media outlets and also the Republicans are going to try to pass a law banning coverage. I fear Paul Ryan or another Republican will insert a provision in some bill that will have to pass to prevent Medicare and Medcaid from funding the surgery, just like they did with ADA.

Happy Easter!

I’m one of the lucky ones who will be with my family this Easter. 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 passed away leaving them without any close relatives or their children might be at their in-laws Easter. However, for whatever the reason, it is a lonely time for them.

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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Six #468

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #468

1. How much older or younger than your actual age do you feel on an average day?
I feel much older that my actual age, but I’m slowly recovering from last year illness.

2. What’s the best part of being the age you are now?
Being retired and not having to work, doing what you want to when you want to do. On Thursday I went to a lecture at my Alma mater, it was nice to be able to have that freedom.

3. What’s the most challenging part of being the age you are now?
Being retired and trying to find something to do. You can only clean the house so much, you can only work on your hobbies so much and you can only go out to lunch with friends only so many times, and that leaves a lot of time to figure out what to do.

4. Are most of the people to whom you feel closest younger than you, older than you, or your age?
They are a little younger than me and they are still working.

5. Think back to when you were in high school and you saw someone who was your age now: looking back, what was your younger self’s biggest misconception about someone your age now?
That we didn’t know anything, when in truth it is the other way around.

6. What do you think of that old saying: Is age really just a number?
Yes, but it is a really big number! My brother is turning 70 and one of my cousins is almost 80! Yikes! It just seems like the other day they were chasing me around and picking on me all the time because I was the youngest.
But no matter how young you feel, you never know when something is going to turn on you and bite you in the ass. Last year this time I was so sick I didn’t even want to get out of bed and make breakfast.

Saturday 9: I Don't Want to Wait

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: I Don't Want to Wait

1) Are you impatient?
Yes, very. Why didn’t you post this at 11AM?

2) Do you believe some people have a gift for predicting the future?
Nope. It is just a big mumbo jumbo.

3) The microwave is a great invention for those who "don't want to wait." What was the last thing you prepared in yours?
My tea.

4) This was the theme of the TV show Dawson's Creek. Michelle Williams, a costar on the show, went on to earn multiple Oscar nominations. Name another performer who started out on TV and then became a movie sta?
Oh I hate these kind of questions because I don’t pay any attention to who stars in this and that show.

5) What's the last bit of advice you received?
Sit up straight.

6) What's the last advice you gave?
I told them they carry tissues in their pockbook instead of sniffling.

7) Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What leaves you feeling refreshed or rejuvenated?
Yes, especially when the weather gets warm.
8) Easter is also recognized as the start of the spring season. What are you looking forward to this spring?
Buying a bike and going riding on the rails-to-trails.

9) Which would you rather find in your Easter basket: yellow marshmallow chicks (aka Peeps) or a chocolate bunny?
Neither, they are both passion to me. I’m a diabetic, if I had either one my blood sugar will spike something horrible. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. If I could go anywhere on a road trip, I'd go _out west going through Colorado, Arizona, California and up the coast and then over to Yellowstone_.
2. _What came before the Big Bang_ is something I don't understand.
3. Easter makes me think of _family_
4. _Reading and photography_ is are the best way to relax!
5. It looks like spring _but it is just starting to feel like spring_.
6. _Nuts_ is one of my favorite healthy snacks.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _cleaning_, tomorrow my plans include _cleaning_ and Sunday, I want to am having _my brother’s family over for Easter_!

On Friday's and Saturdays I take a vacation from writing my blog and have some fun with memes

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Human Rights And The Trans-Person

I went to an interesting workshop this morning at the UConn School of Social Work on “Identity, Oppression and Human Rights Through a Social Work Lens.” The first speaker was Ms. Marton who talked about immigrants who are seeking asylum here. I couldn’t help but think of the trans-persons who have fled their native country, from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and Indonesia to name a few. Trans-people face the same discrimination and dangers as the people that the professor talked about in her speech.

The next person to speak was my former professor, Dr. Libal and her talk was the main reason why I attended the workshop. She spoke about “social inclusion” as a human right. That caught my attention… what is “social inclusion” and does it pertain to the trans-community were two of the questions that I asked myself. She talked about Australia’s definition of “social inclusion” and I found this on the web…
The Australian Government’s vision of a socially inclusive society is one in which all Australians feel valued and have the opportunity to participate fully in the life of our society.

Achieving this vision means that all Australians will have the resources, opportunities and capability to:
  •     Learn by participating in education and training;
  •     Work by participating in employment, in voluntary work and in family and caring;
  •     Engage by connecting with people and using their local community’s resources; and
  •     Have a voice so that they can influence decisions that affect them.
When you think about it this is a very important idea, not only do you have a right not to be discriminated again but you also have a right to be involved with the government and the community. When I look at this from a trans-perspective I see companies that have a non-discrimination policy but the employees socially isolate the trans-employee, such as the employee who never gets invited to have lunch “with the gang” because the other employees don’t want to be seen with the transgender employee. I see the trans-student who never gets call on by the teacher in class or never gets invited to classmates’ birthday parties.

Social inclusion might seem like a strange new idea, but actually for the rest of the world this is an old concept. The ground work was laid with the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights back in 1966 which said,
Recognizing that, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideal of free human beings enjoying freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his economic, social and cultural rights, as well as his civil and political rights.
So back then they had an idea that there is such a thing as social rights. How social integrations get implemented I think remains to be determined, but it is a very interesting concept.

The next speaker Dr. Healy speech was a technical discussion on social work and human rights. The last speaker was Dr. Berthold who talked about “Political, Religion, Ethnic and Sexual Identity as a Risk Factor for State-Sponsored Torture,” she was the only speaker to include gender identity and sexual orientation in her speech. What caught my attention in her talk was what she said were factors in surviving torture; a sense of family (either actual or adopted family), a sense spirituality, a sense of justice and a belief in yourself or cause. If you look at the list, I think that the list include the same things that get you through your transition. She talked about the goal of state-sponsored torture, spread fear and to silence the opposition, and to oppress the population and to control society, when you think about it, hate crimes have the same goals. And she said those that survive torture come out of it stronger and I think you can also say the same thing about transition, transition make you stronger. I don’t mean to imply that torture and transitioning are the same, but when you go through times of stress the effects bear a similarity to each other.

All in all, it was an interesting morning. I’m glad that I went.

My Story Part 158 - “Who says you can't go back*…”

Well I am today. I going back to my grad school again to hear a panel discussion, “Identity, Oppression and Human Rights Through a Social Work Lens” by one of my former professors.
Dr. Libal will talk about the importance of social inclusion and non-discrimination as a fundamental to human dignity and the foundation of identity. She will discuss the right to participation in community, to have a cultural identity that is respected, and the importance of addressing social inequality to be sure that all individuals have the capacity to have their identity recognized.
I think it should be very interesting from a trans-perspective lens.

One thing that it is going to be weird is going back to school; the last time I sat to listen to a discussion there was April 2011. I'll let you know about the panel discussion when after I get back this afternoon (I posted it here).

*Bon Jovi: "Who Says You Can't Go Home"

My Story is a weekly series of blog posts about my transition and observation of life as a trans-person.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Gender Am I?

Should money or age or your health determine your gender?

In states that you can change the gender on your birth certificate all most all of them require surgery first and that means you have to have big dollars to have the therapy first to get your letters to say that you can have Gender Confirming Surgery and then you have to shell out the cash to actually have it done. Then and only then can you have your birth certificate changed. For some people because of health reason they cannot have any surgery so they will be forever prohibited being able to change their birth certificate. While others because of their age cannot have the surgery until they get older.

Consider the case of Calliope Wong, a student who applied to Smith College, an all women college and was denied admission because she didn’t have surgery yet, but she has been on hormones for a number of years and living as a woman for two years.
Smith College Returns Application Of Transgender Teen
ABC News
Posted: Mar 26, 2013

(ABC News)--Calliope Wong, a high school senior from Connecticut, has twice sent an application to the prestigious all-female Smith College, but her papers have been returned without even an official admissions review.

It's not her grades or SAT scores, but her self-identity as a transgender female.

Wong, 17, was born male, which her family indicated on her federal application for financial aid in order to coincide with her Social Security number. But her admission materials describe her as female.

Smith has told her it cannot process her admission application as a female because the gender markers on her forms conflict.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a federal form that can be filled out by the student, a parent or a guidance counselor and does not require official proof certifying gender.

Wong said her father filled out the FASFA forms, "according to what he thought was safest and most logical." He marked it male to match her Social Security information, which she said they had not yet had the chance to update.
So it all boiled down to whether you put an “F” or an “M” on a piece of paper.

If you look at “my papers” you will see that half of them have an “F” on them and two of them have an “M” on them.  My driver licenses, passport and my graduate school records have an “F” and Social Security and birth certificate have an “M” on them because for those two require surgery which I cannot afford right now. So what is my legal gender, it all depends what paperwork they require.

Consider that in Illinois you do not require surgery to have your birth certificate changed…
A Cook County judge approved a new decree Tuesday that would allow transgender Illinoisans to obtain birth certificates with their correct gender from the Illinois Department of Public Health without having to undergo genital reconstruction surgery.

The policy change comes as the result of a settlement reached in July in a class-action legal challenge involving three transgender individuals who filed suit in May 2010 after they were denied corrected birth certificates from the IDPH because they did not undergo genital surgery.
So if Ms. Wong was from Illinois her father could have checked “Female” box, but because Connecticut require surgery, her father checked the “Male” box and she couldn’t apply for Smith College.

Do you see any justice in this?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Let’s Roll The Dice.

It is time for the crap shoot to begin.

The Supreme Court has started hearing the arguments for the California Proposition 8 case. From the news you would think that the only choice in the case is to legalize marriage equality or uphold the ban on equality, but in reality they have five possible outcomes.

According to CBS News there are five possible outcomes…
In the most dramatic ruling it could deliver, the Supreme Court could use Hollingsworth v. Perry to rule that marriage is a constitutional right available to all Americans, gay or straight.
In this possibility the court could find the marriage equality bans violates the 14th Amendment, the equal protection clause and this ruling will overturn laws in the 39 states that ban on marriage equality, either by law or by their constitution. This option I think is the least possible ruling; the court is too conservative for them to make marriage equality the law of the land.

The next outcome that will have the biggest impact is…
The second big move the court could make would be to declare that same-sex marriage is not protected by the Constitution.
This ruling will result in each state governing marriage in their states and will not overturn of the state’s bans. It will mean that instead of one united effort in federal court, the marriage equality battle will have to be fought in all fifty states. I think this has a better chance of being the court ruling, but not the most likely.

CBS News lists this as the third choice…
In a third alternative, the Supreme Court may decide that states that recognize same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships -- and provide them with nearly the same benefits of marriage -- cannot legitimately bar same-sex marriage.

That decision could extend same-sex marriage to California and eight other states that currently have comprehensive civil union or domestic partnership laws -- and it's the argument the Obama administration has put forward.
I think this has a more likely chance of being the ruling of the court, but not the mostly ruling. Again, I think the court is too conservative to have this outcome.

The article points out that…
At the same time, Winkler [UCLA School of Law Professor] said it could be a "dangerous" argument from the perspective of gay rights proponents in one sense -- "It could discourage other states from granting civil unions," he explained.
The fourth choice is…
In a fourth option, the Supreme Court ruling could apply just to California because of the case's unique circumstances.

Voters in California passed Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, in 2008 -- after the California Supreme Court had granted same-sex couples the right to marry. That put California voters in the unique position of taking away rights granted by the court. After Prop. 8 passed, a federal court followed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said Prop. 8 was unconstitutional
I think that this outcome is the most likely of the five possible rulings. I think that this one is the most likely outcome because I think the courts want to overturn California law and still make some national impact, this ruling will do so. It will say once you grant marriage equality you can’t take it away.

The last of the possible outcome is in my opinion is the next most likely to be the court’s ruling…
In yet another option, the court could decide the proponents of Proposition 8 have no standing in court and dismiss the case entirely.

Normally, California's governor and attorney general would defend a state law in court. In this case, however, they declined to appeal the district court ruling striking down Proposition 8. Instead, supporters of Proposition 8 took it upon themselves to appeal.

Dellinger [former acting solicitor general of the Clinton administration] filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court arguing that the Proposition 8 supporters have no legitimate reason to be in court.
This has a chance of being the court ruling because as said, I think the court wants to overturn Prop 8 and this ruling will have the least effect on the other states. So it will boil down to if the judges want to limit their ruling to just California or to include the other states that granted marriage equality.

The Supreme Court is supposed to be above politics and public opinion and just base their rulings on the law, but I feel that public opinion does influence the way the judges interpret the Constitution.

What do you think...

Monday, March 25, 2013

I’m Neutral On That…

When I was in graduate school some of the students came up to me and said that they wanted to start a petition to create gender neutral bathrooms. I think they expected me to be gun-ho on the idea, but I said that I would support them. However, I wanted to make sure that it did require trans-people to have to use the gender neutral bathroom and we could use the bathroom of the gender that we identify with. In addition, I told them that the gender neutral bathroom should be for everyone and not just for trans-people.

It seems like “gender neutral” is in the news this week…
Transgender AU senior turns personal experience into political action
The Washington Post
By Rachel S. Karas
March 24, 2013

McBride channels her experiences to effect change at American. As president, she successfully lobbied for gender-neutral housing on campus and the creation of a Sexuality and Queer Studies minor. Her current efforts as a Class of 2013 senator include pushing for coverage of transgender transition care, such as medicine and surgery, in AU’s student health insurance policy.

Though she said universities nationwide have become more effective at dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, McBride challenged college campuses to constantly question how inclusive and accessible they are.
As I said, I’m only in favor of “gender neutral” as an option that is available to all. I do not want to see it used as a “Trans Getto” where all the transgender students get dumped.
Grant High's transgender students get unisex bathroom option
The Oregonian
By Nicole Dungca
March 22, 2013

Northeast Portland's Grant High School, addressing an issue schools increasingly face across the nation, has created six unisex bathrooms in response to concerns from transgender students uncomfortable with traditional bathrooms.

Officials say four student restrooms and two staff restrooms -- all single-stall -- will be open to all students but create another option for the five to 10 transgender students at the high school, Portland Public Schools' largest. The move is a first in the district and relatively uncommon nationwide for K-12 schools, which typically make staff or other small bathrooms available.
What I like about this is that the option to use the gender neutral bathrooms is for everyone and that the trans-students have the option of not using it. Too often school will require the trans-students to use only the gender neutral bathroom and the school officials will claim it is for the safety of the trans-student. When in reality the schools are required by law to provide a safe space for all students.

Then we have Arizona with their “Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty" which I am definitely not neutral on...
Transgender Bathroom Use Debate Emerges In Arizona
Huffington Post

PHOENIX — A prominent Republican lawmaker in Arizona wants to link public bathroom use to birth certificates in what civil rights advocates are calling the nation's toughest anti-transgender measure.

The bill would require people to use public restrooms, dressing rooms or locker rooms associated with the sex listed on their birth certificate or face six months in jail.
In Arizona, where Republicans control state government, Kavanagh said government shouldn't allow people to use facilities based on "you are what you think you are." He said he was worried an anti-discrimination ban passed in Phoenix last month would serve as a cover for pedophiles who want to expose themselves to children of the opposite gender.
That is complete bull! This is the typical right-wing conservative party line. There has never being a single case where a pedophiles has used the gender identity and expression anti-discrimination law to gain access to a bathroom since the City of Minneapolis passed the first transgender-inclusive non-discrimination law in 1975.

The article also said that…
The proposal had been scheduled for a vote Wednesday during a House of Representatives committee. But in an unusual scene for the usually staid halls of state government, men in dresses, women in business suits and other transgender supporters crowded into the committee room and the lobby of the House to protest the legislation.

Minutes after the meeting started, state Rep. John Kavanagh said he would delay the debate on his bill because of a paperwork error.
Let’s hope that this bill never see the light of day again.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The True Colors Conference

I had a great time at the conference yesterday and Friday at the True Colors conference, I got up there a little bit before 10 to bring up the material for our support groups’ table. Thursday night I printed off 50 copies each of our conference handouts and also copies of the CTAC conference (It looks like so far 6 people signed for the conference as a result of the conference blitz.).

The first workshop that I attended was “Enforcing Gender Identity and Expression Non-Discrimination Laws” which was presented by lawyers from GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders). Of course it caught my eye since it was about the CT law. Most of it was stuff I already knew, but one of the attendees asked a question that I had always wonder what we should do if the parents did want accept a child’s gender identity. I knew the basic answer; you can’t do anything unless you have the parents’ permission. However, what I didn’t know is once they are around the age of fourteen they can become emancipated and determine their own gender identity.

After the workshop I went to lunch with a former classmate, before the conference she emailed me and asked me if I wanted me to join her and her GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) for lunch. It was nice to see her again and also answer the questions her students had about being trans. Afterward I headed over to a workshop called “The New DSM 5 Let’s Talk About Change” and the presenter had a good discussion on the changes in the DSM 5. Most of the attendees were therapists and they had a different view than I think the trans-community has of the DSM.  Most of the therapists wanted to keep something in the DSM so that they can bill the insurance companies. I pointed out that I thought it should be in the ICD (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems) and they can bill the insurance companies for depression and not Gender Dysphoria.

My workshop was next, “Policies for Gender Variant Students” and as I was waiting to begin my workshop I was worrying “would anyone show up?” Then the first person showed and no one else showed up I was getting depressed by the starting time, but then they started drifting in. in the end I had about eight attendees. Just after I started a group of ten people came in and I thought “Wow!” but it turned out they were just prospective students on a tour of the campus (I wonder what they thought about the largest LGBT youth and family conference in the world). At the end of my workshop I collected the evaluations and they all but one rated me “excellent” and the other person rated me “very good” and one even wrote on the eval, inspirational. You can see my PowerPoint presentations here

After the conference I went out to dinner with a friend at Rein’s Deli and I had my Pastrami Rubin on rye with their famous half sour pickles.

Saturday the first workshop that I attended was “TRANSgenderational Conversation” we had a good discussion about how our different generations think about being trans or how we interact with society. The next workshop that I attended was “TransENDing Boundaries” it was another discussion group and it didn’t cover anything new for me, but for the other attendees it was an informative workshop. The presenter went over the laws both state and federal laws and then he broke us up in to groups gave each group case studies  to discuss about which laws best applies to the case.

I skipped the last workshop of the day and went over to the student co-op to buy an alumni license plate frame.  On the way over to the co-op the UConn women’s basketball was getting out (UConn beat Idaho in NCAA Opener, 105-37). In the Student Union where the conference is held, the bathrooms are gender neutral for the conference. When I was walking by the men’s bathroom two older men who looked like they attended the basketball were entering the bathroom a girl walked out of it. They stopped looked at the men’s sign and then they saw the gender neutral sign, turned around and stated walking away, then turned around again walked in.

On Thursday on my blog post of “My Story” I will be writing of my first True Colors conference.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Six #467

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #467

1. What is the best part of your job? (If you’re unemployed or retired, what’s the best part of your day?)
I think the best part of the day now that I’m retired is the morning, I can sleep as late as I want and also go back to bed after breakfast.

2. What was your favorite television show when you were a child?
The Long Ranger… Hi Ho Sliver!

3. When you go to a coffee shop, what is your “usual” order?
Decaf Black

4. When you watch a movie, do you skip the previews or do you watch them all with anticipation?
I skip them and get right to the movie.

5. What’s the best thing that happened to you today (or this week)?
It is a toss-up between the workshop that I gave yesterday at the True Colors conference and the speech that I gave on Tuesday at the University of Connecticut School of Law.

6. Do you know any knock-knock jokes? If so, list it.
Nope, but if you really want one, I can ask my grandnephew.

Saturday 9: In the Wee Small Hours

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: In the Wee Small Hours

1) Crazy Sam's mom and dad still talk about how exciting it was to see Sinatra in Vegas! What music did/do your parents enjoy?
Sinatra, Glen Miller, Lawrence Welk, etc.

2) We all know Sinatra sang, and he won an Oscar for his acting. But he also painted and was proud to sell a few canvasses anonymously (signed "Artanis"). Do you have a secret talent?
Yes, I can wiggle my ears and nose at the same time. Oh, you mean something like singing or painting? Yes, photograph.
Best Of.........

3) Those close to Sinatra maintained that every time he sang,"In the Wee Small Hours" (hear him perform it live here ) he conjured up how it felt to lose his great love. Have you ever had your heart broken?
Yes, this last fall.

4) In 1966, when he was 50, Sinatra married 21 year old Mia Farrow. Their union lasted less than two years. Do you think a wide age gap necessarily dooms a romantic relationship?
Yup, I think the youngster is probably in it for the life insurance.

5) Offstage Sinatra wore orange sweaters and liked seeing orange throw pillows in his home and dressing room because he believed "orange is the happiest color." What color raises your spirits?
Green, it is my favorite colors

6) Frank and his loyal buddies were famously known as "The Rat Pack." How many people do you consider close friends?
Oh about 4 or 5.

7) Sinatra's children followed their father into show business. What advice would you give a young person entering your career of choice?
Go into engineering and form your own company. Then afterward you can do what you love.

8) Legend has it that Frank was embarrassed by a scar on his face (received at birth from the forceps used in his delivery) and worked hard to cover it. Do you have a physical characteristic that you try to hide?
Yes, three guesses and the first two don't count.

9) In 1964, when he first heard The Beatles, Sinatra was very dismissive. By 1970, he called the Beatles' "Something" one of the most beautiful ballads ever. Tell us about something you changed your mind about.
Yes, tattoos. I use to think that people were crazy to do that to their body and then I realized that it is their body and they can do what they want with it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Fill-ins

On Friday's and Saturdays I take a vacation from writing my blog and have some fun with memes

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. The wind blew wildly and _the snow came down horizontally_.
2. _A nice fire_ and _Cinnamon and Apple tea _ made me feel warm and happy all over.
3. The smell of _bacon in the morning_ makes me think of _back when I was little and my mother was making breakfast_.
4. When I am feeling lazy I _take a whirlpool bath_.
5. Brilliant _green_ is my favorite color.
6. The door creaked and a _cat_ came in.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _relaxing after a long day at the conference_, tomorrow my plans include _attending the conference again_ and Sunday, I want to _relax_!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Story Part 157 - The True Colors Conference Tomorrow

I will be at the True Colors XX Conference all day tomorrow and Saturday, the conference is the largest conference for LGBT youth in the world! Over the two day conference they will have almost 3000 attendees!
I will also be presenting a workshop…
Policies for Gender Variant Students
This workshop will examine barriers that gender diverse students face in schools and how the non-discrimination law affects them. In a school system, some of the obstacles gender diverse students face in their educations can easily be overcome by having a policy in place. This workshop will cover briefly the transition process and the Connecticut anti-discrimination law. Then we will look at what a school policy should cover, such as name change, changing records and the use of bathrooms.
This is a spinoff from a speech that I gave this past summer for the Commission of Human Rights and Opportunities at their Civil Rights and Anti-Bullying Leadership Summit. I was talking to the director of True Colors and she suggested that I do a workshop on the topic.

The idea for the speech and workshop was from my work with the Safe School Coalition that wrote “Guidelines for Schools on Gender Identity and Expression” and for references I used GLSEN and NCTE’s "Model District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students" and "Safe School Research Brief 13: Understanding Safe Schools for Transgender Students."

So this afternoon I will be up at Staples running off copies of my handouts and also shopping for new clothes for the conference.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Your Papers Please.

I remember that phrase from Fireside Theater, I believe it was from “Don’t Crush that Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers” but it is no laughing matter in Arizona today where a state legislator wants to pass a law requiring you to use the bathroom of the gender listed on your birth certificate.
Transgender People Force Debate on Bathroom Use
By Cristina Silva Associated Press
Phoenix March 20, 2013 (AP)

Arizona lawmakers have jumped in to the national debate over the rights of transgender people with a bill being debated Wednesday that would make it illegal for people to use public restrooms not associated with their birth gender.

Advocates say the measure would be the toughest standard in the nation for transgender people and bathroom use, requiring Arizona residents to use the restroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. One local TV station has dubbed it the "Show Me Your Papers Before You Go Potty" bill, a reference to the Arizona Legislature's sweeping 2010 immigration law.
This is a punitive response to Phoenix passing a gender identity and expression non-discrimination law.

The Transgender Law Center had this to say…
How would such a law be enforced? By every overzealous restroom patron, security guard, business owner or mere passerby who decides that someone they see entering a restroom doesn’t conform to their notions of how a “man” or “woman” should look and complains to police. In other words, trans men, women and children, butch lesbians, feminine gay men, and straight, cisgender people who violate societal gender norms in some way can be harassed to prove their right to do what every other citizen takes as a given – the right to use a restroom for its intended purpose without harassment.
I’m not a lawyer, but from what I understand of the law, discrimination is when you do something different for one group of people who are in a protected class that is different from the non-protected class. So the way I see it, is if you do not ask everyone for their birth certificates it is violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and possible the 14th Amendment.

Talking Points

I was supposed to facilitate a discussion but instead it changed in to a speech with a Q&A session at the end when no one want to take part in the discussion. However, it turned out to be a good speech and when they post the video tape I’ll put up a link.

These are the talking points that I used…
Gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth…
I pointed out that nowhere in the law does it say anything about transgender or transsexual. That was done on purpose because the law protects everyone. From the feminine man to the masculine woman, it protects the guy with long hair and an earring or the straight woman. All that is required is that  they were discriminated against because of their “appearance or behavior.”

I then discussed the other half of the gender identity and expression clause,
…which gender-related identity can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held, part of a person's core identity or not being asserted for an improper purpose.
I pointed out that in all discrimination cases that you must prove that you are a member of the protected class and that this just suggests some of the ways you might show that you are protected.

I said that most insurance do not cover medical expenses related to gender identity and they have a clause noting the exception; however, the AMA, APA & WPATH all say that gender confirming surgery is a medically necessary. How does that affect insurance coverage?

I went on to talk about the Oregon & California insurance commissions’ stance on health insurance for trans-people they are not requiring coverage of specific medical treatments. However, if private insurance companies pay for a non-trans-person's hormone therapy, breast reduction, cancer screening or any other procedure deemed medically necessary than they must cover it for patients who are transgender. I pointed out that discrimination is when you do something different for one group of people who are in a protected class that is different from the non-protected class.

I then said that even though Connecticut has a similar law as Oregon and California there has been no statement about insurance policies exemptions in our state by our insurance commissioner. I then challenged them to take up the cause to petition commissioner to issue a statement similar to the other states.

I then discussed this court on how it might be used in our quest for insurance coverage…
U.S. Tax Court ruling in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue that treatment for gender identity disorder (GID) qualifies as medical care under Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code, and, therefore, provided there is adequate medical documentation, related expenses (e.g. hormones, surgery, therapy and other expenses related to the treatment of GID that satisfy the requirements of Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code) may qualify as a medical deduction for federal income tax purposes. 
I then said that this may be another tool in our toolbox to use to argue for insurance coverage.

I suggested that another tool that we could use to persuade the commissioner was the…
U.S. District Court decision in Kosilek v. Spencer was a finding that, despite GRS being established medical care, and despite the right of prisoners to necessary medical care being widely settled under the constitution, the Department of Corrections (DOC) "engaged in a pattern of pretense, pretext and prevarication," to deny Michelle Kosilek the treatment that every DOC doctor to evaluate her had prescribed.
I then brought up the fact that those trans-employees who covered by ERISA would not be affected by a statement by the insurance commissioner because they are covered by federal law, not state law. I mention these two cases…
Diane Schroer v. Library of Congress
The lawsuit charged that the Library of Congress unlawfully refused to hire Schroer in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects against sex discrimination in the workplace. The Library of Congress moved to dismiss the case several times, claiming that transgender people are not covered under Title VII of 1964. U.S. District Court of DC

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th District Circuit
In 2007, Vandy Elizabeth Glenn (who at that time went by Glenn Morrison) told her boss at the Georgia General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel that she was planning on transitioning from male to female. He promptly fired her, after remarking that “it’s unsettling to think of someone dressed in women’s clothing with male sexual organs inside that clothing,” and describing a male in women’s clothing as “unnatural.”

In a unanimous opinion written by Judge Rosemary Barkett, the court held that “discriminating against someone on the basis of his or her gender non-conformity constitutes sex discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and that “discrimination against a transgender individual because of her gender nonconformity is sex discrimination.”
And also the EEOC ruling last May,
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled in a 5-0 decision that an employer who discriminates against a transgender employee or job applicant because of the person’s gender identity is illegal sex discrimination based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
I then opened the Q&A segment.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

This Should Be Interesting

This afternoon I am facilitating a workshop at the University of Connecticut School of Law on gender identity and expression at work. It should be an interesting discussion and I looking forward to the workshop.

I’ll do a follow-up post once I get back.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Big Divide

If you have been following the news lately you have probably read about the battle in a Colorado school system that stooped a trans-girl from using girls’ bathroom. Or you might have heard the backlash from the release of guideline by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the defeat in the Maryland Senate committee hearing of the gender inclusive anti-discrimination bill.

There are some who have criticized the family for going public and some who have wondered the wisdom of the public release of the guidelines in Massachusetts. The problem is that you are damned if you don’t and you are damned if you do. There will always be some people who will criticize you no matter what you do and there are those who will criticize you for doing nothing.

The opposition points to Colorado and Massachusetts and says, see what happens if you pass this law! While those who believe in diversity say, see when the laws are passed nothing happens, no rapes or assaults, nothing; all the doomsayers were wrong. Were these events a factor in the failure of the bill in Maryland, I don’t know. But I think they may have been a factor in the defeat of the bill.

The problem is that if you don’t go public no-one will know. If Massachusetts didn’t go public with their guidelines no-one would have known that this resource is available. If the family didn’t go public no-one would know of the discrimination that we face.

I believe that change is brought about by education.

That is the reason why I am an activist and why I am “out” and why I publish this blog, I want to bring about change through education. Every time I talk to someone in public or meet someone a little bit of education take place. However, I realize that this is not for everyone; some just are not cutout to be out in the public spotlight. All they want to do is to transition and move on, and that is alright.

The thing is there are many transgender children here in Connecticut who have transitioned with no problem and there are only a few kids who have problems with the students transitioning. I have read the diversity statement for gender variant students for my town and it is a good policy, only time will tell if they follow their policy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

We Got The Short End Again

It seems like the deck is always stacked against us…
Maryland Senate Committee Votes Down Bill That Would Have Banned Transgender Discrimination
The Huffington Post
By Hunter Stuart
Posted: 03/15/2013

A state Senate committee in Maryland dealt a tough blow to transgender rights Thursday by voting down a bill that would have banned gender-identity discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.

The committee voted 6-5 to narrowly defeat the Fairness For All Marylanders Act Of 2013, which would have added "gender identity" to the law that right now prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, marital status and sexual orientation, The Washington Blade reports.

The bill may have been doomed when a senator who supported it was moved off the committee and replaced by one who voted against it, Metro Weekly writes. That switch was made by Senate leadership in order to pass a wind energy bill, the paper notes.
Of course there are also the usual doomsayers including Family Research Council who lobbied against the bill. You might remember that back in 2007 there was a petition drive for a referendum against the gender inclusive anti-discrimination bill that eventually ended up in the state’s Court of Appeals which threw out the petition.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday Six #466

On Friday's and Saturdays I take a vacation from writing my blog and have some fun with memes

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #466

1. AÑO (“Year”): Where do you see yourself in one year?
Hopefully above ground.

2. CUÑA (“TV/Radio Spot*”): Which commercial do you find most annoying at the moment?
Offhand I can’t think of the most annoying commercial because I mentally tune them out. But I tell you the one that I like best is the Sleepy commercial.

3. JALAPEÑO: What’s the spiciest food you enjoy?
My homemade chili

4. MAÑA (“Skill”): What would you consider to be your most valuable skill?

5. PIÑA (“Pineapple”): What is your favorite “tropical” fruit?
Mango, but I can’t eat too much of it anymore, it has way too many carbs,

6. PIÑATA: Have you ever been to a party that featured a piñata, and if so, what was it stuffed with?
Yes and it was stuffed with hard candy.

Saturday 9: Hakuna Matata

On Friday's and Saturdays I take a vacation from writing my blog and have some fun with memes
Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Hakuna Matata

1) Sam is crazy for The Lion King. Do you have a favorite Disney movie?

2) The song tells us that Hakuna Matata "means no worries." Is something worrying you right now?
Yes, I have to facilitate a workshop at UConn School of Law on Tuesday that I have no idea what it is about. I guess I’ll have to wing it.

3) Who is the most optimistic person you know?
My brother

4) Elton John wrote "Hakuna Matata" but didn't record it. Name a song Sir Elton is famous for singing.
Candle in the Wind

5) Can you play the piano?

Only if it is a player piano.

6) Congratulations! You just won a guided African Safari Tour! 8 days in Zambia and Botswana for you and a friend. All expenses paid, and allowing you access to breathtaking, unforgettable sights. It takes at least 30 hours to get there, and before you go you'll need yellow fever and hepatitis vaccinations and medication to prevent malaria. Are you up for it?
No problem, I don’t mind shots and I have my passport.

7) There's been a mistake. You really won a 4-night Disney Bahamas Cruise for two. Are you relieved or disappointed that you'll be partying with a guy in a Simba suit on the Lido Deck instead of observing a real lion in the wild?
My bags are packed so I don’t care as long as it is not on a Carnival Line’s ship

8) Let's bring this back to real life -- do you have any vacation plans?
Not really, just going up to my cottage in New Hampshire.

9) Describe your luggage. Is it durable and high quality? Or are you like Crazy Sam, who has been known to use an Old Navy shopping bag as her carry-on?
It is just your typical old carry-on bag.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Thinking Of You...

Today would have been my mother's 100th birthday.
This photo is from her honeymoon on the ferry from Boston to Provincetown.

I always remembered her birthday thanks to Shakespeare, if I forgot her birthday it would have been "Beware the Ides of March" for me.

I miss you mom. 

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. I was looking for _hope, but instead I found a new journey_.
2. _Listening to folk music in a coffee shop_ is one of my favorite ways to socialize.
3. I looked at the clock _thinking it is only 3 AM and it is going to be another long sleepless night_.
4. _A gel ink pen with a rubber grip_ is the type of pen I most prefer to use.
5. What in the _World was the name of a locally produced game show _. (Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about.)

6. _Slamming my finger in the door_ seems to happen to me often.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _reading_, tomorrow my plans include _reading_ and Sunday, I want to _go for a walk_!

On Friday's and Saturdays I take a vacation from writing my blog and have some fun with memes

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Story Part 156 – Your Papers Please

I was reading an editorial in the New York Times about a black man who was stopped and searched upon leaving a store in New York.
Last month the actor Forest Whitaker was stopped in a Manhattan delicatessen by an employee. Whitaker is one of the pre-eminent actors of his generation, with a diverse and celebrated catalog ranging from “The Great Debaters” to “The Crying Game” to “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.” By now it is likely that he has adjusted to random strangers who can’t get his turn as Idi Amin out of their heads. But the man who approached the Oscar winner at the deli last month was in no mood for autographs. The employee stopped Whitaker, accused him of shoplifting and then promptly frisked him. The act of self-deputization was futile. Whitaker had stolen nothing. On the contrary, he’d been robbed.
I never was stopped and searched, but I have been followed around by security and at other times have been asked for my ID.

That never happened to me before I transitioned and at first being followed around by the store detective I thought was funny, but after it happened a couple of times it became insulting. The first time it happened was when I was looking at clothes in a big box store and I noticed a guy shopping in the women’s department. When I move over to another section of the women’s department, there he was again pretending not to be watching me. I then went over to another department in the store and he was followed me. As I was standing in the check-out line I noticed him at the Courtesy Desk and they were all starting at me.

One time I was checking out at a national chain department store, I was in the line with about a dozen other people and when I handed my credit card to the clerk and she looked at me and her eyes got real big. She then asked me for my diver licenses and I was the only one that she asked to see their ID.

Another time I was in a bar/grill for lunch and I was sitting at the bar with a friend and when I ordered a beer the bartender asked me for my ID. Now you have to realize that I’m in my 60s, I was just carded and I was the only one who was carded even thought I was with my classmates who are in their late 20s or early 30s… what would you think?

The editorial went on to say…
Since the Whitaker affair, I’ve read and listened to interviews with the owner of the establishment. He is apologetic to a fault and is sincerely mortified. He says that it was a “sincere mistake” made by a “decent man” who was “just doing his job.” I believe him. And yet for weeks now I have walked up Broadway, glancing through its windows with a mood somewhere between Marvin Gaye’s “Distant Lover” and Al Green’s “For the Good Times.”
I’m sure that he is a “’decent man’ who was ‘just doing his job.’” and that he never even thought what he was doing was racist, but it was. When the clerked followed me around the store or when the clerk asked me for my identification, I don’t think that what they were doing was based on bias, but it was. They saw someone different and thought that they must be up to something no good.

I have never faced discrimination until I transitioned, I enjoyed my white male privilege that I never knew that I had, but now I don’t have it any more and I see what it really is, discrimination. The second conclusion that I have drawn is that passing has it privilege, if then did read me as being trans none of this would have happened.

My Story is a weekly series of blog posts about my transition and observation of life as a trans-person.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It’s The Law.

As more states and municipalities add gender identity and expression to their anti-discrimination laws and ordinances  and we are celebrating our victories we have to realize that our battle is not over. It is one thing to have a law, it is entirely another thing to have people aware of the law or obey the law.

When we were discussing the strategy in passing Connecticut gender inclusive anti-discrimination bills one of the things that we debated was whether to slip an amendment under the radar to pass the law or go with a bill, we choose the bill because we recognized that education was an important part of the process. We also knew that it would make it much harder to pass.

However, even knowing the law some people and businesses chose not to obey the law. Take the case in Ohio where a business decided to fire the employee and pay the fine.
Ohio judge fines club in Columbus’ first-ever transgender discrimination case
LGBTQ Nation
Bob Vitale
March 12, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A municipal court judge in Columbus, Ohio, has ordered owners of a private dining and business networking club to pay a $1,000 fine in the city’s first-ever transgender discrimination case.

Franklin County Municipal Court Judge H. William Pollitt Jr., on Monday levied the fine against Columbus Hospitality Management, owners of the Capital Club, for retaliating against Savanna DeLong and denying her work at the downtown club.
The company denied wrongdoing, but pleaded no contest in court. President Charles Lagarce said fighting the charges would have been too costly, and he described the plea and acceptance of the fine as “the best business decision for us.”
So they decided to break the law and pay the fine and as a result one woman is out of a job. Yesterday I wrote about a sheriff’s deputy who said, ‘I don’t care’ about the law and threw out a trans-woman from the bathroom. Here in Connecticut a bar on Karaoke Night threw a trans-woman out of the restaurant because she made the other customers uncomfortable was fined and they lost their liquor license (I believe it was for a week).

So why do we even fight for our laws when they really don’t have much teeth and businesses routinely flaunt them? It is because of what the 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.” Some businesses might not obey the law, but many more will. It also shows that society does not approve of intolerance against us.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This And That In The News - Here Comes Da Judge…

"This And That In The News" is about articles in the news that have caught my eye and I want to share or comment about. These articles about judges’ rulings caught my attention today.

First the bad news…
Man ‘guilty’ of fraud for not telling girlfriend he was trans
Scottish transgender man admitted to 'obtaining sexual intimacy by fraud' in two cases, meaning he will face jail time
Gay Star News
By Joe Morgan
March 7, 2013

A transgender Scottish man was sentenced for obtaining sexual intimacy by fraud yesterday (6 March).

Chris Wilson, 25, from Aberdeen, was accused of failing to tell two teenage girls his gender history and real age.
So he is getting jail for lying, but get this…
The second girl was 15 when she became friends with Wilson two years later, but told him she was 16, the legal age to have sex in the UK.
So only the trans-man gets nailed for lying to have sex and he ends up on the sex register for the two kisses he gave her. The trans-man was legally a male and this judge thought he should have revealed his past and this case may create a precedence that would force trans-people to have to “out” themselves.
‘Following the Gemma Barker [British teen Gemma Barker was jailed for 30 months after supposedly ‘disguising’ herself as a boy to date female friends.] case, I [Jane Fae, a transgender activist] had extensive discussions with the English Crown Prosecution Service and they were absolutely clear that trans identity could not be an absolute protection from charges of sexual assault or rape.

‘This means that in practice any trans man or trans woman who keeps their gender identity to themselves runs the risk, should their partner later find out and object, of being charged in a similar manner.
So the next time you go on a date, bring a lawyer, you may need one.

In Iowa another judge rules on the “bathroom” issue…
Judge: Deputy discriminated against Iowa transgender woman
Telegraph Herald
Associated Press
Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013

IOWA CITY — A state administrative law judge has ruled that a transgender woman should not have been ordered out of a courthouse women’s restroom by a sheriff’s deputy.

The judge decided in favor of Jodie Jones, who has been presenting herself as a woman since May 2011. The ruling by Administrative Law Judge Heather Palmer came last week.
“Frankly, I was extremely dismayed that when I told the sheriff’s deputy what the law said, she said, ‘I don’t care.’ They’re officers of the law; they should have to follow the law, too,” Jones said. “I don’t want this to happen again at the Johnson County Courthouse.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

Gender Orientation: IS Conditions Within The TS Brain

Here is a very good lecture from a professor at Stanford University on the question, "is transsexualism an intersex condition.?"

This And That In The News

"This And That In The News" is about articles in the news that have caught my eye and I want to share or comment about. These are the articles that caught my attention this week, this week topic is trans-students…

USA Today had an article about a proposed law for trans-students using bathroom…
Calif. lawmaker seeks rights for transgender students
Lisa Leff, Associated Press
March 4, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California lawmaker has introduced legislation aimed at guaranteeing transgender students the right to use public school restrooms and participate on the sports teams that correspond with their expressed genders.

The bill reflects the accommodations that a number of U.S. schools are being asked to make as Americans start identifying as transgender at younger ages.

If approved by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's AB1266 would give young people the right "to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities" regardless of what sexual category exists on their school records.
Moving to the other end of the spectrum, an article in Think Progress was about the backlash to the Massachusetts Department of Education’s guidelines for gender variant students…
Massachusetts Lawmakers Retaliate Against Youth With ‘Transgender Issues’
By Zack Ford
Mar 5, 2013

Several Massachusetts lawmakers are not happy with new guidance from the state’s Department of Education advising on how to respect transgender students in school, based on nondiscrimination law passed in 2011. Notably, they believe that allowing them to use the appropriate restroom is somehow going to infringe on other students’ privacy. To correct that, they are taking the brash step of proposing a bill that define students’ gender by their anatomy instead of by their actual identities.
This bill will cause trans-student to be bullied and harassed and most trans-students cannot have surgery until they are at the age of consent.

However, some trans-students have surgery at an earlier age…
About a Boy
Transgender surgery at sixteen.
New Yorker
by Margaret Talbot
March 18, 2013

For high-school seniors like Skylar—who live in prosperous suburbs, have doting parents, attend good schools, and get excellent grades while studding their transcripts with extracurricular activities—the hardest part of the college application is often the personal essay. They’re typically asked to write about some life-changing experience, and, if their childhood has been blessedly free of drama, they may find themselves staring at a blank screen for a long time. This was not a problem for Skylar.

Skylar is a boy, but he was born a girl, and lived as one until the age of fourteen. Skylar would put it differently: he believes that, despite biological appearances, he was a boy all along. He’d just been burdened with a body that required medical and surgical adjustments so that it could reflect the gender he knew himself to be. At sixteen, he started getting testosterone injections every other week; just before he turned seventeen, he had a double mastectomy. The essay question for the University of Chicago, where Skylar submitted an early-action application, invited students to describe their “archnemesis (either real or imagined).” Skylar’s answer: “Pre-formed ideas of what it meant to have two X chromosomes.” No matter what people thought they saw when they looked at him, Skylar wrote, he knew that he “was nothing along the lines of a girl.”
Some more good news about students, but this time at a college; last week there was a story about a fraternity helping to raise money for one of their brothers to have surgery, well now the college has changed their insurance policy to cover Gender Confirming Surgery.
Surgery covered for transgender student
Boston Globe
By Jeremy Fox
March 07, 2013

A transgender student whose Emerson College classmates rallied to help him raise money for transition surgery says his insurer will cover the procedure, after all.

Donnie Collins’s story went viral last week, after reported that his fraternity brothers had created an online fund-raising page for Collins ­after an insurance company ­declined his claim. Readers learned of the support Collins received from members of Phi Alpha Tau, a professional communications fraternity, and donated many times the fraternity’s $2,000 goal.

By Thursday, they had raised more than $20,000 for the surgery, which will remove breast tissue and construct a masculine chest for Collins, who was born female but began living as a male before graduating high school.
Emerson said in a statement that it contacted ­Aetna, its student insurance provider, for clarification after Collins’s request was rejected. The college said its policy has included benefits for transgender medical care since 2006, but “the policy language had ­inadvertently not been updated by Aetna on their internal documents.”

“Aetna has since updated their internal documentation to accurately reflect the college’s policy,” the statement said.
Now the fraternity has said that they will donate the money that they raised to the Jim Collins Foundation.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

It Is That Old Battle Again: Nature v. Nurture

How many times have you heard the old arguments… “God made Man and Women” or “God makes no mistakes” or any other of those types of binary arguments; well folks let me introduce you to a gynandromorphic  Cardinal.

Amazing! The Cardinal is literally half male and half female.

What is gynandromorphy? Well basically gynandromorphy happens when the zygote divides and an error occurs, the chromosomes are not copied correctly (a very good description can be found here). Gynandromorphy should not to be confused with chimerism where there is actually two distinct sets of DNA (you can read about it here).

Nature works in mysterious ways. Consider this about a study that was done in Spain…
Antonio Guillamon's team at the National University of Distance Education in Madrid, Spain, think they have found a better way to spot a transsexual brain. In a study due to be published next month, the team ran MRI scans on the brains of 18 female-to-male transsexual people who'd had no treatment and compared them with those of 24 males and 19 females.

They found significant differences between male and female brains in four regions of white matter – and the female-to-male transsexual people had white matter in these regions that resembled a male brain (Journal of Psychiatric Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.05.006). "It's the first time it has been shown that the brains of female-to-male transsexual people are masculinised," Guillamon says.

In a separate study, the team used the same technique to compare white matter in 18 male-to-female transsexual people with that in 19 males and 19 females. Surprisingly, in each transsexual person's brain the structure of the white matter in the four regions was halfway between that of the males and females (Journal of Psychiatric Research, DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.11.007). "Their brains are not completely masculinised and not completely feminised, but they still feel female," says Guillamon.
Researchers have found also that when they studied intersex babies who were given surgery at birth to "correct the birth defect" knew their true gender. In a study reported in the New York Time by Dr. Reiner of babies with underdeveloped male genital who were surgically made into girls at birth. He found,
As part of a research study, I've personally seen and assessed 400 children with major anomalies of the genitals. Of those, approximately 100 might be called "intersex." Our findings have been many and complex. The most important is that about 60 percent of the genetic male children raised as female have retransitioned into males.
There is something in their brain that was telling them that they were male while they had the physical appearance of a female. The interview ended with this question and answer…
Q. What conclusions do you draw from your study?
A. That sexual identity is individual, unique and intuitive and that the only person who really knows what it is is the person themselves. If we as physicians or scientists want to know about a person's sexual identity, we have to ask them.
Now there is a novel idea… let the person determine their own gender.

Nature is really amazing! Evolution is never done; nature is always trying new combinations to see what works and what doesn’t. I feel sad for the people who argue for a gender binary, they fail to see the beauty.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Saturday Six #465

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #465

1. Å is for ÅKOMMA (“Ailment”): What illness do you most expect to deal with one day?
Kidney disease, a complication from diabetes.

2. Å is for ÅLDER (“Age”): Do you feel younger than your real age, older than your real age or at your real age?
If you asked me last year I would have said older than my actual age, but now it is younger.

3. Å is for ÅLDERON (“Old Age”): What part of retirement do you most look forward to?
Since I’m retired I’ll tell you want the hardest part of retirement for me, keeping busy. No matter how many time to go out with your retired friend, no matter how many time you work on your hobbies and no matter how much time you work around the house, there is still an awful lot of time to fill.

4. Å is for ÅR (“Year”): Of the years you’ve lived through so far, which year was best for you?
That is hard question answer, I a lot of years under my belt. I would have to say 2011, that was the year that I graduated from grad school with my MSW and it was also the year that we passed the anti-discrimination law

5. Å is for ÅSTED (“Crime Scene”): What’s the closest you’ve been to a real-life crime scene?
On the other street over, a person killed seven people in a robbery that went bad. He was in the same grade as me, but he never made it past eighth grade.

6. Å is for ÅTERVÄNDA (“To Return to a Place”): What place that you’ve visited in the past would you most like to return to some day?
The west coast, I would love to visit again the states west of the Rockies.

Saturday 9: Midnight Train to Georgia

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Midnight Train to Georgia

1) Have you ever been to the Atlanta?
Yes, a long time ago when I was knee high to a grasshopper

2) Do you enjoy traveling by train?
Yes, I would like to travel out west by train. My bucket list includes a train trip through the Canadian Rockies visiting Banff, Calgary and Jasper. But my last train trip was a trip through hell and back.

3) "Midnight Train to Georgia" is Sam Winters' signature number at the karaoke bar. What's your go-to song when you take the mic?
When I take the mic it becomes closing time. Everyone starts to head for the door.

4) Do you drink tea?
Yes, my favor is decaf Earl Grey or spiced Apple Cinnamon.

5) What's the most recent thing you purchased for your home?
Bath towels and new sheets

6) Are there dishes in your kitchen sink right now?
Yes, the breakfast dishes

7) Have you ever been fingerprinted?
Yes, back in high school when I applied for a job in the post office.

8) What was the last check you wrote?
It was a fifty dollar check for a non-profit, I’m the treasurer

9) What color are your eyes?
Hmm, I have to go check… green or maybe they are hazel. Hey! I don't go around looking at my eyes.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Friday Fill-ins

Janet’s Friday Fill-ins

1. Life _is so fragile_.
2. _Wet heavy snow piled up on a branch_ and then a little _clump of snow_ fell down my neck.
3. I knew it was love when _our eyes met_.
4. _Oh how I long for_ sunshine and blue skies.
5. A little nap is wonderful _after meals_.
6. _Three guesses what are_ my favorite things to eat for dinner.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _reading and watching a movie on Netflix_, tomorrow my plans include _in the afternoon talking to a class_ and Sunday, I want to _go walking in the 50 degree weather_!

On Fridays and Saturdays I take a break from writing my blog and have some fun with memes.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

My Story Part 155 – Humor

Being trans you have to have a sense of humor, if you don’t you will have a lot harder time transitioned.

Some times the expressions on someone face is priceless. I don’t know how many times a man held a door open for me and as I said thank you, you can see it dawn on his face the moment he read you as trans. You can take it two ways, one way is to see the humor in it and the other way is to hate yourself because you got read.

The first time that I had to have my car repaired after an accident I was talking to the owner about scheduling the repair and I also could tell the moment when he read me. Once again the look on his face was priceless, his eyes got bigger his jaw dropped a little bit and he took a step backward. But you know what was important to me? It was the fact that a few minutes later he was back in the normal talking distance.

As many of you know, I attend Fantasia Fair a week long conference in Provincetown MA. One time that I was there I was walking down the street when a tour bus when by me and over the bus loud speaker I heard the travel guide say “This week if Fantasia Fair where all the transsexual and crossdressers came for the conference.” I looked up and saw all these grey haired faced pressed up against the window. Now I could have done two things, one run away in shame or as I did, start laughing because of all of the wide-eyed tourist staring out the window was hilarious.

Again at Fantasia Fair, I was walking down the street one day when this couple was coming out of a store and I heard the husband say to the wife, “There are an awful lot of tall women in town, I wonder if there is a women’s basketball game today?” Now try to keep a straight face and not giggle when you hear something like.

As Bugs Bunny said, “Don't take life too seriously. You'll never get out alive.”

My Story is a weekly series of blog posts about my transition and observation of life as a trans-person.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Fear Mongers

I knew this was going to happen when I saw the headline about the Massachusetts policy on gender variant students…
Concerns over transgender-students policy
Legislators seek focus on anatomy in the use of segregated facilities
Sentinel and Enterprise
By Allison Thomasseu,
Posted:   03/04/2013

BOSTON -- Area legislators, unhappy with a plan to allow transgender public-school students to choose which gender bathrooms and locker rooms to use, have met with Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester to push for a policy that defines a student's gender on anatomy, not self-identification, when using sex-segregated facilities.
The lawmakers are also backing a bill sponsored by Garry that would dictate a change in the rules.

Garry said the Legislature discussed the issue in 2011 as part of the debate over the anti-discrimination law, but left the facilities issue out because it could violate other students' privacy.

"The (2011) bill was not to accommodate locker rooms and bathrooms, but the commissioner took it upon himself to provide guidance to schools," Garry said.
Rep. Sheila Harrington, R-Groton, said the legislators discussed adding separate facilities, such as teacher bathrooms, for students who feel uncomfortable using bathrooms because of a gender issue.
I saw this coming, it seems like the more success that we have, the more the opposition pushes back and it bring out the fear mongers and doomsday sayers. The truth is that it is the gender variant students who are being bullied and harassed. GLSEN 2011 study on school climate found that…
  • 81.9% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 38.3% reported being physically harassed and 18.3% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
  • 6 in 10 LGBT students (63.5%) reported feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation; and 4 in 10 (43.9%) felt unsafe because of their gender expression.
  • Transgender students experienced more hostile school climates than their non-transgender peers - 80% of transgender students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
Studies have shown that students who are being bullied and harassed have lower grade and  a higher absenteeism that before they were  bullied and harassed. By segregating students who are different from other students we increase the likelihood of them being bullied and harassed.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

That's So Gay!

This really needs no introduction...

Something To Think About

When you hear the Republicans throw down the gauntlet and they are not going to raise taxes think about this…

We need both budget cuts and tax increases, you can;t have one without the other.

Did you know that in the 50s, 60s and 70s the time of our greatest grow in this country that the top tax brackets was 94% on those making over $400,000. I'm not saying we need to have that rate now but we have to increase taxes and cut the budget.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Common Sense

I found this posted this on Facebook and I thought I share it with you…
8 Easy Tips to Act More Feminine
Mag For Women
March 2, 2013

Being a female and acting feminine are two entirely different things. Femininity should not be taken for granted. Just because you are a female doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be feminine too. It’s an art that sometimes needs to be mastered. So here are 5 quick and easy tips for you to act feminine:
1. Dress feminine…
2. Brush up on your manners…
3. Smile often…
4. Be gentle, sweet and kind…
5. Do not use abusive words…
6. Do not speak bluntly…
7. Be sensitive…
8. Control your temper…
I think that all the tips except for the first one can apply to anyone, they are all just a common sense approach to living.

It is unfortunate that we assign most of these traits to be feminine because even the guys should follow tips 2 through 8. But somehow these tips for men have been forgotten and instead being crude and rude has become the standard for being macho.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Trans-Kids And School

As many of you know by that on Tuesday on the Katie Couric Show talked about trans-kids and how one Colorado family is having problems with their local school district (My post about it is here). I want to follow up on that today.

The school district for over a year allowed her to use the girl’s bathroom and for unexplained reasons they changed their minds and required her to use the boys' bathroom, a staff bathroom, or the nurse's bathroom.

Colorado is one of the sixteen states that have protection for gender identity and expression and according to an Editorial in the Denver Post,
Frankly, it doesn't seem like a tough call. Colorado's anti-discrimination rules clearly say transgender individuals shall be allowed to use the "gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity."
So why did the school district change their mind? Was there any trouble like bullying or harassment? If there was they should stop the bullying or harassment as they are required by federal law and not punish the victim. Did some parents complain? Then they should have told the parents that they were only following the law.

An article in the Health & Family section of Time asked “A 6-Year-Old Boy Becomes a Girl: Do Schools Need New Rules for Transgender Students?
The unusual case points up the need for schools to discuss whether transgender students may need accommodation — or entirely new policies. Might a boy who identifies as a girl and plays on the school tennis team have an advantage over her teammates? Will transgender girls go out for varsity football?
The answer is yes, school districts should have a policy in place for when a student transitions. For those of you who follow my blog you may recall that I gave a speech to the Civil Rights and Anti-Bullying Leadership Summit that was sponsored by Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) and the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities back in August. I am also giving a workshop on the topic at the True Colors conference later this month.

Down in Mississippi this week a trans-student was supported by the school system while the students thought it was special treatment that she was receiving,
Transgender Mississippi Student 'Leah' Supported By High School While Students Protest
The Huffington Post 
By Glennisha Morgan
Posted: 03/01/2013

Students at a Batesville, Miss. high school are protesting because they believe that a transgender classmate is receiving “special treatment.”

As WLOX 13 reports, over 30 students at South Panola High School have vocalized their opposition to a transgender girl identified only as Leah, who has been allowed to wear female clothing.
On the other hand, other officials have echoed [interim Superintendent] Foster's sentiments, arguing that Leah does not violate South Panola's dress code because she is now a female. Area resident Betsy Chapman has created the Facebook group "Mississippians Support Leah," which backs the student's cause.
Being treated equally does not mean special rights as the school officials said she is now legal a girl and she is being treated just like any other girl.