Friday, May 31, 2013

Stop The Hate

When I watched this video I saw a cute video, but the video had generated so many racist comments that General Mills had to disable the comments. BuzzFeed said this about the commerical…
Time to have your faith in this country destroyed again.

Cheerios posted this heartwarming commercial to their YouTube page Tuesday. It has already surpassed 250,000 views, but not because of its heartwarming-ness.

Yesterday, Cheerios disabled the comments because the section was turning into a vitriolic white supremacist message board straight out of American History X…

Let’s Stop The Hate

Once Again, Human Rights v. Religious Freedom

Last month I wrote about Human Rights and Religious Freedom and now over in Europe their high court has ruled on a case of religious freedom to discriminate…
European Court Rejects Religious 'Right to Discriminate'
The European court of human rights on Tuesday rejected an appeal brought by three British Christians, two of whom say they were punished at work for not wanting to serve same-sex couples.
By Sunnivie Brydum
May 29 2013

The European court of human rights flatly rejected an appeal Tuesday requested by a trio of British Christians, two of whom were hoping to receive a religious exemption from the county's nondiscrimination law because they did not want to counsel or serve same-sex couples.
The executive director of Britain's National Secular Society lauded Tuesday's ruling as affirming the United Kingdom's stringent antidiscrimination laws, noting that the court rejected the argument that "religious freedom" trumps individual liberty and equality.
We have a number of similar cases here in the U.S. which I wrote about it in “Trans Rights v. Religious Freedom” including the case in 2007 where a lesbian couple wanted to rent a pavilion on the boardwalk in Ocean Grove NJ that was owned by a Methodist organization.

But that doesn’t stop from claiming rights that they do not have, in the National Catholic Register they wrote…
“The policy also attempts to create what is essentially a speech code in schools, that if any student stands up for biblical truth that recognizes that God created man and woman in his image and that your anatomy actually matters, then those students from Christian families will be disciplined by the schools for speaking the biblical truth, not in a hateful way, but for refusing to deny a biological and spiritual reality,” Beckwith [attorney and executive vice president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.] added.
If they want to teach their religious doctrine they can open up a religious school and teach it, but they cannot force public school to adherer to their religious beliefs. However, if they open a religious school and they accept any public funding they have to accept all students, including those of other religious beliefs and LGBT students. They can teach their doctrine, but it has to be open to all students.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

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.

I came across two articles today that I want to share; the first article comes from across the pond…
Coroner: ‘Shame on press’ who hounded dead trans teacher Lucy Meadows
Lucy Meadows committed suicide in her home. Coroner says press should be ashamed of their bigotry after they reported her transition

28 May 2013
By Tris Reid-Smith

A coroner investigating the suicide of transgender British teacher Lucy Meadows has slammed the media for their ‘ill informed bigotry’.

Meadows killed herself on 19 March, aged 32 – and the hearing today confirmed it was of carbon monoxide poisoning.

She had been the subject of media reports, particularly in national newspaper the Daily Mail, where columnist Richard Littlejohn had criticized her for transition while still working in at St Mary Magdalen’s Primary School, in Accrington, Lancashire, north west England.
The press doesn’t care; all they are interesting in is selling papers. They don’t care if they tear a person life apart. We have seen this over and over again; do you remember sportswriter Mike Penner? When the news media sinks their teeth in a story they will just shred them to pieces.

The other article is in the Huffington Post, Gay Voices,
Increasing Transgender Acceptance One Family at a Time
Crystal Cheatham
Posted: 05/28/2013

All over the world, trans identity is perceived and accepted differently. From Hong Kong to Pakistan and down to Texas, transgender individuals are granted a range of treatment, from first-class citizenship to street murders where police label the body bags "possible hate crimes."

You never know what you will pull out of the transgender news bucket on a daily basis. Last week, Hong Kong was a favorite. After long battles in court, a trans woman known as W. was allowed to marry her boyfriend. W. stated, "I'm very glad that I can finally get married to my beloved boyfriend in Hong Kong."

A second favorite was the news about a trans politician in Pakistan running for office. Pakistan is already pretty far along in its evolution toward accepting gender-nonconforming people. Thanks to a 2009 vote, individuals can select "third-gender" on their personal identity cards.
Yes, but with more visibility comes more discrimination. Are the attacks in New York City against gays the result of all the rights that the LGBT won or are still lobbying for in New York State? As more states pass gender inclusive anti-discrimination laws the opposition gets stronger. They find what buttons to push that are most effected and the opposition get more entrench when their backs are to the wall.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gender Inclusive Anti-Discrimination Bill Passes

In Puerto Rico last Friday, the House passed a non-discrimination bill that protects gender identity and expression and also sexual orientation. The Washington Blade reported this week…
Puerto Rico House approves non-discrimination bill
May 24, 2013
By Michael K. Lavers

The Puerto Rico House of Representatives on Friday approved two bills that would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in the U.S. territory and add sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the island’s domestic violence laws.

The voice votes on the two measures that each passed by a 29-22 vote margin took place at the end of a nearly three hour debate. Lawmakers had been scheduled to consider the bills on Thursday, but they adjourned after a marathon session that ended well after midnight.

The Puerto Rico Senate on May 16 approved the non-discrimination measure by a 15-11 vote margin.
This will make 16 states, 1 territory and the District of Columbia that offers protection for trans-people in employment, housing and public accommodations (Massachusetts does provide protection for public accommodations).

The governor said that he will sign the bill in to law.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Trans-Student Athletes

Which states have the best policies for transgender student athletes?
Changing Sex, and Changing Teams
New York Times
Published: May 6, 2013

Over the last decade, the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have adopted regulations for athletes who were born male but now consider themselves females and want to play on women’s teams.

And now, high schools are beginning to take on the issue as well, as a small but growing number students who identify themselves as transgender have begun demanding access to the same school activities, like interscholastic sports, that other students enjoy.

More than half a dozen states, from Washington to Massachusetts, have adopted rules to allow transgender students to compete on teams that correspond with their gender identities rather than the sex listed on their school records. Half a dozen more states are considering similar regulations. And a bill in the Legislature would make California the first to specifically guarantee by law that transgender students like Tony are allowed to play school sports.
The International Olympic Committee initially required transgender athletes who want to compete in the Olympics to undergo a full sex-change operation and hormone therapy. The National Collegiate Athletic Association requires male-to-female transgender athletes to complete a year of hormone therapy before they may compete on a women’s team.

Regulations for transgender high schoolers are far less stringent. No state requires students to undergo surgery or hormone therapy before they are allowed to compete. In some states, including California, where the state interscholastic federation adopted a new policy about transgender students in February, students (or their parents) need only submit a letter to the school asserting their gender identity and the case will be reviewed.
So what is Connecticut policy on trans-student athletes?

Well, according to the CHRO and the Safe School Coalition guidelines
Question: What sports and gym classes should students be in?
Answer: Transgender students should be permitted to participate in sex - segregated athletic activities based on their gender identity. Denying students such an opportunity is likely to result in their inability to participate in sports and gym programs altogether and risks exposing the school to liability under the law. Schools are reminded that physical education programs including gym classes and school teams are educational opportunities and critical to developing optimal student health, self-esteem and well-being. To the extent that they are also competitive activities, students enjoy a range of athletic benefits based on their individual attributes (height, speed, agility, etc.). There is no educationally sound or principled justification for denying transgender students athletic opportunities and no empirical reason to believe transgender students have any particular athletic advantage because of their ability to participate based on their gender identity rather than on their assigned birth sex.
The law is quite clear; we have to be on the team of our gender identity.

The map on Deadspin has which states have the best policies for trans-student athletes…

Monday, May 27, 2013

So We Don’t Forget

For all those who made the ultimate sacrifice and for all those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Six #476

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #476
1. What was your biggest accomplishment in school?
Back in high school we made a giant Tesla Coil that we written up in the local newspaper which was picked up by the New York Times.

2. Have you ever won a ribbon for any event or competition, and if so, what was it for?
Yes, at the local fair I won first place in the photo contest.

3. Have you ever been awarded a trophy for anything, and if so, what was it for?
Yes, it was for Backgammon tournament at work.

4. What award do you feel you’d be the last person to ever win?
Miss America contest.

5. Do you think it’s truly more important just to be nominated for an award, or more important to win one?
Awards are a nice thought to show their appreciation, I have three from non-profits…
The Phill Wheeler Vision for Justice Award
Community Service Award
Community Champion Award

6. A question from a decades-long grade school debate: Do you believe that everyone who participates in a competition should win something just for participating?
Nope. Maybe an acknowledgement for participating but not winning.

Saturday 9: Battle Hymn of the Republic

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Battle Hymn of the Republic

1) This recording was made live at St. Patrick's Cathedral, during Sen. Robert Kennedy's funeral. While both of Bobby's older brothers were decorated war heroes, he served too -- enlisting in the Navy in 1943. Are you a veteran? Are there veterans in your family? (We are grateful and want to hear about it.)
Yes, my father. He was in WWII and was in the Coast Artillery and was stationed on Fisher’s Island protecting the Submarine Base in New London from German submarines and then after they were no longer a threat he went to the Pacific theater. (My father is on the right and the photo is from when the National Guard was training on Fisher's Island at Fort Wright in 1939)

2) Memorial Day also kicks off the summer season. What's your favorite picnic food?
Three guesses and the first two don’t count… clam chowder (I have to now have Rhode Island instead of New England clam chowder because of the cream & flour have too many carbohydrates since I became diabetic), steamers and lobster. I can’t have beer anymore also because of the carbs.

3) Name a scent that reminds you of someone special in your life.
Lavender, my grandmother use to wear it all the time.

4) When was the last time you had your hair cut or trimmed?
What hair? I just buy a new wig three times a year.

5) Crazy Sam runs on Dunkin'. Are you loyal to a particular brand of coffee?
Dunkin. The town finally now has a Starbucks, but we have three Dunkin Donuts in town.

6) If money was no object, what home improvement would you like to make this summer?
After a new roof, a new living and dining rooms hardwood floor and painting the rooms I want to bump out the kitchen four feet and make it three feet wider and then get new kitchen cabinets.

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

8) When was the last time you rode a bike?
Long, long… long time ago, but I want to get a bike because they have rail-to-trails around the state.

9) Sam worries that many of her song selections reflect her decidedly Baby Boomer sensibilities. Is there a song or a performer that you'd like to see featured in a Saturday 9 this summer?
As a Baby Boomer I say it is just right. However, if you want suggestions, the Kingston Trio or the Mamas and the Papas or some other folk music.

Friday, May 24, 2013

It’s the law

But can you claim that it is against your religion?

Two news articles caught my attention this week, one was about a landlord who has a transgender tenant and the other article is about how anti-discrimination laws infringe on religious freedom.

The first article is from the LA Times
Landlord must uphold transgender tenant's rights
It is illegal to make a tenant move out because of gender identity, even if others are uncomfortable. The landlord also must use the appropriate pronouns and stop harassment by other tenants.
May 03, 2013
By Martin Eichner
Answer: The applicable fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on gender, which includes gender identity. As a landlord, you are obligated to treat each prospective or current tenant the same, without regard to their gender or gender identity.
You may not take adverse action against Michelle to satisfy the discriminatory demands of another tenant, even if it means you lose that tenant's business. Further, if you become aware of any other tenant harassing Michelle because of her gender identity, you have an obligation to take action to stop it.
Here in Connecticut and other states with gender inclusive anti-discrimination that cover public accommodation this is true for all housing. However, in the other states it only covers HUDS properties.

The other news article is in OneNewsNow,
Is the DOJ forcing workers to affirm immorality?
Charlie Butts,Jody Brown
Thursday, May 23, 2013

Liberty Counsel Action is accusing the Obama Department of Justice instructing its managers to affirm homosexuality and transgenderism in the work environment, arguing it will "boost the performance and productivity" of employees - regardless if they are "gay" or straight.
Okay, suppose we substitute another protected class for trans-people, gays and lesbians such as women. If it was rewrote as…
Liberty Counsel Action is accusing the Obama Department of Justice instructing its managers to affirm women in the work environment, arguing it will "boost the performance and productivity" of employees - regardless of their gender.
I think most people would say, “Whoa, you can’t discriminate against women!” But come back would be that they are not the same, the Bible says homosexuality is wrong and it doesn’t say anything about working with women. My answer would be there are religions that do say it is wrong for men and women to work together. Do we ignore their religious belief? What about a church that believes in White Supremacy (Yes folks there are religions that still think that), do we allow them to not hire blacks?

Once you start giving religious exemptions in the workplace you open a huge can of worms. So far the courts have seen the difference in religious neutral laws, laws like anti-discrimination statutes and the Social Security tax (You can read what I wrote about the various court rulings on my blog here).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Here Is An Interesting Research Study…

It is a good news/bad news study.

The good news, “Eighty percent of male-to-female (M2F) people in the study engaged in sexual intercourse following surgery with most achieving orgasms.”

The bad news, “However, 40% reported eventual complications, some requiring additional surgery.”

In the blog “The Guerrilla Angel Report" by Lexie Cannes she writes.
THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Eighty percent of male-to-female (M2F) people in the study engaged in sexual intercourse following surgery with most achieving orgasms. However, 40% reported eventual complications, some requiring additional surgery. It should be noted that the rate of complications declined during the 13 year study period — likely due to surgeons becoming more experienced doing the procedure.

While the female-to-male (F2M) group in the study was smaller, all reported sexual satisfaction even though the constructed phallus were of a size that limited penetration. However, a procedure of refashioning clitoral tissue allowed erections. The complication rate wasn’t clear — F2M people typically have 2 to 3 surgeries to complete the entire process while M2F usually just have one.
I tried to see if the report is published yet on EBSCOhost but it must not have been publish yet and it is only available another database.

What is interesting is that she says the data shows a decline in the in the number of complications, I would like to see what the rate is currently. So I’ll check periodically to see if it is published to EBSCOhost.

Yesterday Was Harvey Milk Day…

I believe in activism, but… only if you are safe in doing it.

Harvey Milk’s quote “Burst down those closet doors and stand up once and for all, and start to fight.” Is okay but think first; will coming out put me in danger?

Have a plan on coming out, just don’t blurt out “I’m trans!” Timing is everything; you don’t want to be sitting down at a family Memorial Day picnic pop it out that you are transgender. When I came out I came out to my brother I had a plan and he was the first person that I came out to because I knew he would be the most supportive.

You don’t want to come out to the whole family at once because all it takes is for one person to have a negative reaction and that could sway the rest of the family. You want to build family allies before you come out to your whole family so that they can speak on your behalf.

When you come out at work you want to tell HR first so that they can prepare to tell the whole company. You don’t want to just send out an email to the whole company that says, “Hey everyone, guess what? I’m trans!”

When you are invited to go up on stage during Pride to say a few words on behalf of the trans-community, think first, because that is coming out in a big way. I know someone who did that and ended up on the evening news… me. It was at the Hartford Pride one year at Bushnell Park and while I was on stage I saw this big lens pointed at me. It was the local Fox affiliate and I was on the 11 o’clock news… and who was watching? My brother. Lucky no one recognized me, my brother at that time never had seen me as Diana yet and being dressed as a woman is a pretty good disguise.

So be safe, think before you act.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What Has The Most Effect On Transition?

Here is a question for you; what has the most effect on transition for a positive outcome?

Is it how well you can pass? Is it your clothes? Is it your voice?

Wrong it is your family support. No matter what your age, if you have the support of your family your odds of transitioning successfully is greatly increased. I saw this article in the Times of India, it is a short article but it says it all…
Transgender ends life as mother refuses to accept him
May 20, 2013,

COIMBATORE: Dejected over non-acceptance by his mother after he underwent a sex change surgery, a 27-year-old committed suicide at Anamalai in the district.

Kalimuthu was in Mumbai and had underwent the surgery and became a transgender a couple of years ago, police said.

After becoming Aparna, he returned to his native in Uppili, some two months ago. However, his mother, averse to his behaviour, refused to accept Kalimuthu as Aparna and asked him to get out of the house. Depressed over this, he committed suicide by hanging himself from the ceiling of the house today, they said.
Having support of your family is vital, it can be done successfully without your family support but it is a lot harder. Having a support system is also vital, you can go it alone but the odds are stacked against you.

In the survey “Injustice At Every Turn” they found that…
In the face of extensive institutional discrimination, family acceptance had a protective affect against many threats to well-being including health risks such as HIV infection and suicide.
According to the survey,
  • Twenty-six percent (26%) of those who experienced family rejection also reported having experienced homelessness, nearly three times higher than those whose families were accepting (9%).
  • Family rejection dramatically increased the likelihood of suicide attempts. Fifty-one percent (51%) of those who experienced family rejection reported having attempted suicide, compared to 32% of those whose families were accepting.
  • Thirty-two percent (32%) of those who experienced family rejection also reported having used drugs or alcohol to deal with the mistreatment they faced as a transgender or gender non-conforming person. This compared with 19% of those whose families were accepting.
And they concluded that
While family rejection was shown to be related to a number of negative outcomes including homelessness, HIV and suicide attempts, those respondents whose families accepted them had better health outcomes and enjoyed higher levels of social and economic security that the full sample. It appears that family support and safety nets can have a major positive impact on the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming people even in the face of pervasive mistreatment and discrimination outside of the home.
In a survey by GLSEN’s "2011 National School Climate Survey" found that,
Students with a greater number of supportive staff also had higher educational aspirations — students with many supportive staff were about a third as likely to say they were not planning on attending college compared to students with no supportive educators (5.1% vs. 14.9%).
Clearly have someone who you can turn to for support whether it is a family member, a teacher or a close friend can make all the difference in the world.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Anti-LGBT Riots…

This morning I wrote at bigotry and while I was driving home from the family cottage in New Hampshire I was listening to the Michael Angelo Signorile Show with Joe Jervis on Sirius XM and they were talking about… “on Friday an anti-gay mob of 20,000 rioters chased 50 gay rights activists through the streets of Georgia's capital of Tbilisi” the rioters were organized by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Here is the video of the police trying to get the LGBT activist out to safety in the yellow vans.

Sometimes We Think It Can’t Happen Here

I was reading the news on the internet this morning and one of the news headlines that caught my attention was from Human Rights Watch,
Cameroon: Drop Charges Against 2 Transgender Youth
Prosecution Based Solely on Bias, Not Evidence
May 17, 2013

(Yaoundé) – The Cameroonian authorities should drop the charges against two transgender youth rather than appealing their case to the Supreme Court, five human rights organizations said today. Jonas K. and Franky D. are being prosecuted on what the appeals court has already ruled were trumped-up charges of homosexual conduct, the groups said in a letter to the Yaoundé prosecutor today.
The two transgender youth, who identify as women, were arrested in July 2011 by police who stopped their vehicle and saw that they were dressed in women’s clothing. Police claimed that Jonas, Franky, and a third person were “groping each other’s genitals” in the car, which the accused denied. The prosecutor did not present any eyewitnesses and relied on confessions that Jonas and Franky made in police custody and later said were coerced.

 A trial court convicted them of homosexual conduct in November 2011 in what defense lawyers described as a legal charade. The judge suggested that because they testified that they were drinking Bailey’s liqueur the night of the arrest – which the judge considered a “women’s drink” – they must be homosexual.
We think that this cannot happen here, this only happens in third world countries…
Florida Teen Arrested, Expelled for Same-Sex Relationship
There's a witchhunt against Florida teen Kaitlyn Hunt, her parents claim.
The Advocate
BY Neal Broverman
May 18 2013

Kaitlyn Hunt was a popular student at Sebastian River High School, participating in everything from cheerleading to basketball. Hunt began dating another female student and the latter girl's parents became enraged, according to Hunt's parents. Kaitlyn was 17 at the time the relationship began, while her girlfriend was 15. Upon Kaitlyn's 18th birthday, her girlfriend's parents sent the police to the Hunt home and the teenager was arrested.

Hunt was charged with two felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery on a child. Then, weeks before her graduation, Hunt was expelled from school.
In Raw Story the article about her said,
The parents of the younger girl also pressured the Indian River County School Board into expelling Kaitlyn, she added. The teen is now attending an alternative school.

“Those parents have forced the State Attorneys office to go thru [sic] with felony charges and are trying to ruin my daughters life,” Kaitlyn mother’s continued. “This is insane. This should have never been a legal matter, it is a family matter. They are trying to send an innocent young girl to prison because they are full of hate and bigotry. These girls are teenagers in high school, who had ONE mutual consenting sexual experience. My daughter isn’t a criminal, she isn’t a predator.”
Do you think she would be expelled if she was dating a boy? Do you think this case would be prosecuted if the relationship was a heterosexual relationship?

There is an online petition to ask the prosecutor to drop the charges against her.

So We Don’t Forget

For all those who made the ultimate sacrifice and for all those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

DADT & The Trans- Military Personal

What most people don’t realize is that repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell only affected gays and lesbians in the military and it still left in place discrimination against transgender military personal. We are still being booted out of the military just because of who we are and not if we can do the job.

In Buzzfeed the other day they had an article by Chris Geidner about trans in the military…
Pentagon Recognizes Transgender Veteran, Advocates See A “Shift”
The Pentagon formally recognized earlier this month that there are transgender veterans — a step that LGBT advocates say is a long way from open transgender service in the military, but also a significant first step in that process.

In a short letter dated May 2, a Navy official told Autumn Sandeen, a veteran and transgender activist: “Per your request the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) has been updated to show your gender as female effective April 12, 2013.”
“The fact that a process exists [to change the gender listed] indicates that there are people in the Department of Defense who are aware of the needs of transgender retirees and who are working to see those needs met. And, in that sense, the significance of this symbolic act for our broader work and for our goal of open service becomes I think a little bit more apparent,” OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson told BuzzFeed.
And there is also a call for proposal about a study of trans-military personal…
Transgender Military Initiative: Call for Proposals - 2013

Palm Center Call for Proposals 2013

The Palm Center is commissioning 11 studies to enhance the quality of information available for evaluating transgender service in the United States military. The studies seek to answer questions related to readiness, morale, welfare, personnel requirements and management. Deadline to apply, June 15, 2013.

Scope: The research should employ social science methodology. The final product should be a study of publishable quality by a peer-reviewed journal.

How to Apply: Applicants should send proposals to Indra Lusero via email at: Proposals should explain the research design and methodology, and include a timetable, institutional affiliation (if any), reference list and author CV.

Selection Criteria: Proposals will be evaluated based on the scope of the proposed research, quality of research design, the potential quality of the data, clarity of the author’s writing, and the author’s background and publication history. Interested authors are encouraged to review this Palm Center publication for an example of acceptable work.

Compensation: The Palm Center will pay between $10,000 and $15,000 for the completed study, depending on the author’s experience and scope of the proposal.

There will be a CFP for,
  • Cost and complexity of care
  • Discrimination and readiness
  • Foreign militaries and transgender service
  • Institutional privacy accommodations
  • Organizational effectiveness and transgender inclusion
  • Physical standards and transgender service
  • Privacy in the US military
  • Transgender sports
  • Transgender medical accommodation
  • Uniform regulations
  • US military accommodation of serious medical conditions
My only comments on the study are that you shouldn't have to base human rights on a study and that $15,000 is not a lot of money to do a study. If the fifteen thousand is just to cover the proposal than that is about right, but a real study should be funded to over $100,000.

You can find out more about trans-people in the military at  Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) and OutServe-SLDN (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) websites

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday 9: Greased Lightnin'

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Greased Lightnin'

1) Greased Lightnin' was the name of a car. Have you ever given your car a name?
Yes, I named my 1971 Vega the blue streak. It was so named because of all the oil it burned, wherever I went there was a blue cloud following me.

2) Could your vehicle use a trip to the car wash this weekend?
Nope, it’s a clear car.

3) This song is from the soundtrack of the movie Grease, the biggest money-making movie musical of all time. Have you ever seen it?
Of course, I was around when it first came out and I saw it at a drive-in theater on a date.

4) John Travolta's astrological sign is Aquarius. What's yours?

5)  In addition to being John Travolta's birthplace, Englewood, New Jersey, played a significant role in telecommunications history. In 1951, Englewood's mayor made the first-ever direct dial long-distance call in the United States. Now it's your turn. Tell us something about your birthplace.
It is a city that has seen it better days.

6) Travolta is an excellent dancer. How are you on the dance floor?
 I have to lead left feet.

7) Grease is an upbeat musical about the students of Rydell High. Another Travolta movie is Carrie, which features the worst prom night imaginable. Grease or Carrie -- which is closer to your high school experience?
Grease, my high schools days weren’t that bad, but then again they weren’t that great.

8) What was your best subject in high school? What was your worst?
 Best, science and worst was English… well maybe French. I dropped out of French class, how the heck did they expect me to learn another language when I had a hard enough time speaking English
I are a inguneer.

9) Sam made good use of the bus ride to school, using that time to complete her homework. What do you remember about getting to or from school?
Standing at the bus stop in a snow storm.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Question: What Is The Correct Way To Be A Woman?

Answer: There isn’t any correct way.

There is a website that is making the rounds on Facebook about what is the correct way a trans-person to dress and I agree with the author, there isn’t a right or a wrong way to dress.

Last night I was with a friend at an avant-garde art gallery’s monthly cocktail party and we were talking about short skirts. There are those who are fashion police who believe that a trans-woman should dress a certain way or should be passible. In the website Autostraddle the author, Vivian, of the article “I'm A Trans Woman And I'm Not Interested In Being One of the ‘Good Ones’” wrote about a trans-woman that she meet…
She couldn't stand 'bricks.' She explained that bricks were women who looked "like a man in a dress." A cinderblock was even worse. A trans guy who was too femme was feathery.
The author didn’t agree and I also don’t agree, we each must follow our own fashion sense, she goes on to say,
It's a great double bind. If you present in a traditionally feminine way, you're just being a misogynistic parody of a woman, and if you fail to present in a traditionally feminine way, well ha! There's the proof that you're not really a woman right there.
And that is the trap that many of us fall in to thinking like that, that there is only one right way to dress.

Last night there was a trans-woman there with a short skirt and heels, but we also pointed that many of the women there also were dressed the same way. There was also a trans-woman there in jeans, but there were many women there also in jeans. There were all types of women there at the cocktail party and they were dressed from jeans, to short shorts, to short skirts, to cocktail dresses and no one questions the way that they dress. The thing is we all come in an infinite variety and there cannot and should not be one standard “Trans-person” we should be able to dress the way that we want and not put up on a pedestal.

Before I transitioned I hide and pretended to be someone I wasn’t. Now I don’t want to pretend any more, I want to be me. I don’t want to put on ten layers of make-up, I don’t want to wear high heels and I hate pantyhose; however, you may like all that and that is your right. We shouldn’t be forced into a role or an image.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oh When Will They Ever Learn…

That you can’t change your gender identity? Even in this day of age they are still preforming surgery on intersex babies to make them more “socially acceptable”
Couple files groundbreaking lawsuit over child’s sexual-reassignment surgery
An intersex child's parents are suing the state for irreparable harm caused by the medically unnecessary surgery
By Katie Mcdonough
May 15, 2013

A South Carolina couple is suing the state for performing sexual-reassignment surgery on an intersex toddler born with both male and female reproductive organs, calling the procedure “irreversible and medically unnecessary.”

The surgery was performed while the child (now aged eight, and who identifies as male) was in the state’s care. The lawsuit, filed by the his adoptive parents Mark and Pam Crawford in partnership with the Southern Poverty Law Center, accuses the Department of Social Services and others of performing a “dangerous and mutilating surgery” to “radically restructure [the child's] reproductive organs in order to make his body appear to be female” without medical justification.
This is so totally wrong. An article on the WFSA website by Jason Old and Taylor Kearns said…
The lawsuit states doctors, acting as agents of Defendant hospitals, performed the surgery for the purpose of "assigning" the child the female gender despite their own conclusion that the toddler "was a true hermaphrodite but there was no compelling reason that she should either be made male or female."

At birth, the child was identified as a male because of his external genitalia, but shortly after that doctors discovered the baby had "ambiguous genitals" and both male and female internal reproductive structures, according to the lawsuit.

Defendants decided to remove the child's healthy genital tissue and "radically restructure his reproductive organs in order to make his body appear to be female," the lawsuit states.
This is not new, doctors have been preforming surgeries on babies to “correct a problem” that only exists in the doctors minds since the fifties. One of the most famous cases was Dr. Money did to David Reimer that totally destroyed David’s life.

Dr. Money said gender identity is all nurture and that nature doesn’t play a role in its development, he said that it is the way you raise a child that makes them a boy or a girl. He used David Reimer as a case study to prove his theory. We later learned that Dr. Money had fabricated the research in order to prove his theory and as a result of Dr. Money experiment David Reimer took his own life and it wrecked his family (You can read about it in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl).

A 2005 article in Science Daily about research intersex babies, Defining Male And Female -- Research Casts Further Doubt On Newborn Sex-Assignment Surgeries, said,
The biology of gender is far more complicated than XX or XY chromosomes and may rely more on the brain's very early development than we ever imagined," researcher Eric Vilain, M.D., reported today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

"Surgical sex assignment of newborns with no capacity to consent should never be performed for cosmetic reasons, in my opinion," said Vilain, an associate professor of human genetics who also serves as a chief of medical genetics and director of research in urology and sexual medicine within the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. "We simply don't know enough yet about gender to be making surgical or legal assumptions."
And this was back in 2005, but the surgery is still being performed today despite all the evidence showing that it is harmful. They are article goes on to say,
Another AAAS speaker, William G. Reiner, M.D., agreed. "The most important sex organ is the brain," said Reiner, a psychiatrist and associate professor in the Department of Urology, Oklahoma University Health Science Center. "We have to let these children tell us their gender at the appropriate time."
Did you get what Dr. Reiner said, "We have to let these children tell us their gender at the appropriate time." Our brains are what determine our gender identity not what is between our legs or how we are raised.

I hope that the couple wins their case on behalf of their son. Maybe that is the only way that hospitals and doctors will stop doing these surgeries. News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why Don’t They Get It?

Is it only because it is about gender identity or are they just dense?

In Nevada the Assembly passed a hate crime bill which has already passed the Senate, the bill added gender identity and expression to the current law.

The Elko Daily Free Press’s AP article says,
CARSON CITY(AP) — Nevada lawmakers made a strong statement Tuesday, passing a bill that says crimes motivated by hatred of transgender people will not be tolerated in the Silver State.

The Assembly passed the measure on a 30-11 vote with only Republicans opposed. The bill already cleared the Senate and now heads to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.
The bill now goes on to the governor to sign and I think he will sign it.

What gets me is that some of the arguments against the bill were,
Crimes should be punished based on the action, not the reason, Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, argued to his colleagues.
He added an attack on a woman because of her gender is not protected the same as if the attacker thought she was a lesbian.
Assemblyman Hansen must believe that if you murder someone it is all the same whether your plan it out beforehand or if it is an accident. According to his reasoning that if you are in an argument with someone and in the heat of the argument you pull out a knife to stab the person to death. Same action but a different intent and that calls for a different punishment. The law takes into consideration intent; however, Assemblyman Hansen doesn’t seem to think intent is important when it comes to trans-people.

A hate crime is when the attacker specifically attacks a victim because who they are. It is different than an ordinary assault in that it intimidates not only victim but all the people of that community. The attach on Matthew Shepard not only resulted in his death but it intimidated the LGBT community.

GLAD has a good webpage on the Connecticut Hate Crime law.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

UN Human Rights Video

The Riddle: new anti-homophobia message from UN human rights office

Marriage Equality v. Non-Discrimination

I want to congratulate Minnesota which is going to be the 12th state probably sometime today when the governor signs the bill.

However, I think the LGBT first priority should be passing protection from discrimination.
  • In 29 states it is still OK to fire someone because they are gay or lesbian or transgender.
  • In 29 states it is still OK to throw someone out of their apartment because they are gay or lesbian or transgender.
  • In 29 states it is still OK to refuse to serve a person in a restaurant someone because they are gay or lesbian or transgender.
  • In 29 states it is still OK to refuse someone credit because they are gay or lesbian or transgender.
Marriage equality is siphoning off millions of dollars that could be used to help further equality for the LGBT community. When a state gets marriage equality donations dry up to support LGBT organizations.

I think marriage equality is important, but it should not be our #1 goal. Instead let us focus on making sure that we have jobs, a roof over our heads for our family, that we can take our families to an amusement park without the fear of being thrown out of it and let us make sure that we can get a loan to buy a house for our family first.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Here Is A Big Surprise… Not!

This is from the Health and Human Services last month…
Research suggests that LGBT individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders, substance abuse and suicide. Experiences of violence and victimization are frequent for LGBT individuals, and have long-lasting effects on the individual and the community. Personal, family, and social acceptance of sexual orientation and gender identity affects the mental health and personal safety of LGBT individuals.
I think anyone who has attended a trans support group or know other trans-people know that this is true.

Before I came out I never knew anyone who committed suicide or even tried to commit suicide, I never knew anyone who was a cutter, I never knew anyone who drug addict, I never knew anyone with AIDS/HIV and I never knew anyone who worked the streets. All that changed when I came out of the closet.

On the website Center for American Progress they wrote,
The stress that comes from daily battles with discrimination and stigma is a principle driver of these higher rates of substance use, as gay and transgender people turn to tobacco, alcohol, and other substances as a way to cope with these challenges. And a lack of culturally competent health care services also fuels high substance-use rates among gay and transgender people.
I think one of the keys to lower the levels of substance abuse is “culturally competency” healthcare providers must understand what we are going though, they have to recognize our fear of getting medical help or going to a homeless shelter.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Some Thoughts…

Today on Facebook so many people have changed their Facebook profile pictures to pictures of their mother’s and them but for many trans-people their old pictures bring back sad memories and dreams of what couldn’t be.

I have boxes and boxes of photographs of when I was little, of birthdays, holidays and of vacations that brings a hollow feeling in me. It is a part of me that I can never deny but only wish it was different. It wasn’t like I wasn’t happy but I think you can see a little sadness in my eyes.

My cousin I think said it best in her reply to my coming out letter…
I remarked to T (Her husband) as we were leaving what a warm and charming host you were and how sorry I was that I never knew you well. Now I understand better why.

# # # # #

This morning when I woke up and was watching an old Law and Order show about a girl in high school that killed her best friend to keep the secret that they were lesbian and that got me thinking; I hear trans-people saying how the kids now a days have it so easy when they come ou
t at an early age. But they are totally wrong. Kids now have it so much harder when they come out in school; when we were in school we were closeted afraid to come out and older trans-people wish if only I had the courage to come out in school everything would be different. Well for one thing times are different, society is more accepting of LGBT people. However, kids who come out still face the fear and the bullying when they come out, peer pressure can be an awful thing.

Secondly not only does it affect the student who comes out of the closet but it also affects all of their friends and some of them might feel intimidated for being friends with a LGBT student, guilty by association, Jonny’s gay therefore his best friend must also be gay. All of sudden when they come out they may be ostracized and isolated. Yes they might develop other friendships, but it still hurts them to lose their best friends.

So when you are about to say that kids now have it so easy, stop and think what it really means to come out in school. Yes there are just about a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) in every school in Connecticut. Yes the schools have diversity days but stop and ask yourself do they really have it easier or is the bigotry still there but hidden below the surface.

Martin Luther King said, “Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.” 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday Six #474

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #474

1. What nickname for the bathroom (i.e., “restroom”, “toilet”, etc.) do you use most often?
In public “restrooms” but at home it’s the “bathroom”

2. What do you normally call the season of the year that follows summer: autumn or fall?
Fall, is in “the fall foliage”

3. What nicknames (i.e., “Granny”, “Pop”, etc.) did you use to address your grandparents?
On my father’s side, Nana and on my mother’s side “Grandma” but that was a long, long time ago almost 50 years ago.

4. What do you usually call the meal you have in the middle of the day: lunch or dinner?
Lunch, but…

5. What do you usually call the meal you have in the evening: dinner or supper?
Supper; however, we call a special meal dinner whether it is at lunch, in the afternoon or for supper, like Easter dinner.

6. What do you usually call a soft drink: a soda, a pop, a “Coke” (even it if’s something else) or a soft drink?
Soda. Which made it interesting when I was in Boston when the waiter asked me what I wanted to drink I said “soda” and I expected be followed up by a list of sodas that they have but instead he walked away. When he came back he had a bottle of club soda.

Bonus point: What do you call a store where you buy alcohol?
Here in CT we call it a “package store”

Saturday 9: Mama Told Me (Not to Come)

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Mama Told Me (Not to Come)

1) This song is about a lad who didn't take his mother's advice and attended the wild party anyway (hear it here). When you were young, did your parents approve of your friends? If you're a parent yourself, how have you handled it when your kids start hanging around with friends you're not crazy about?
I think so, some of them were long hair hippies types and I think they know I was smoking pot, I must have stunk after smoke when I came home at night.

2) A 2010 poll named Marge Simpson of The Simpsons the most popular TV mom of all time. Who is your favorite TV (or movie) mother?
Harriet Nelson

3) Crazy Sam's mother is a big fan of The National Enquirer. As she likes to say, "They were right about John Edwards!" Do you read the tabloids? Cast a guilty glance at them when you're in line at the store? Or ignore them altogether?
Yes I’m guilty, but they are always good for a chuckle and it is a good distraction.

4) Mother Winters always gave Sam peppermint tea to calm her stomach. Do you have any tried-and-true home remedies to share?
Yes, I just found one last week when I fell in a poison ivy patch. I rubbed Dawn dish detergent on the affected areas and then washed it off. It worked it stopped the rash from getting any worst by washing off the oil from the plant.

5) Thinking of guts ... When making decisions, do you tend to consider all the options carefully or do you "go with your gut"?
I tend to over think my options too much and in the end I go with my gut.

6) Spring is here! Do you have a green thumb?
No and when I walk through a garden center the plants are trying to hide from me quivering in fear and hoping that I pick any other plant but them.

7) Have you put away your winter clothes yet?
Nope, they are all in my closet (one of the advantages of being single, you don’t have to share a closet).

8) After you lather and rinse, do you repeat?
Nope, what a waste of soap.

9) To celebrate Mother's Day, Sam is giving away Hershey bars. Would you prefer classic milk chocolate, dark chocolate or milk chocolate with almonds?
POISON!!!!! Danger Will Robinson Danger!
I’m a diabetic and it is really is poison for me, I don’t even have any sugar in my house. Also dark chocolate has a high concentration of caffeine and it is enough to set off my arrhythmia.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Most LGBT Friendly City?

Well that is what the mayor of Philadelphia wants.

Yesterday I wrote about Red Lion Area School District in Pennsylvania that is trying to become the least LGBT friendly town in Pennsylvania and today I want to write about Philadelphia to show that it is not necessarily all bad news coming out of Pennsylvania.
Philly mayor signs broad LGBT rights legislation
The Delaware County Daily Times
By Joann Loviglio, Associated Press
Published: Friday, May 10, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Mayor Michael Nutter signed legislation Thursday to afford equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, saying he hoped Philadelphia would become "the most LGBT-friendly" city in the world.

Nutter, city and state lawmakers and gay rights advocates said the legislation makes Philadelphia the first city in the U.S. to offer tax credits to companies that extend the same health care coverage to LGBT employees' domestic partners and their children as they provide to heterosexual spouses and their children.
"My goal is for Philadelphia to be one of, if not the most, LGBT-friendly cities in the world and a leader on equality issues," said Nutter, adding that the signing struck a personal note because his friend, the late City Councilman John Anderson, was a gay man and a mentor who inspired him 30 years ago to pursue a life of public service.
Also last year the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said that they will remove the gender identification stickers from monthly transit passes. In the past the authority stamped the gender on transit passes which caused a hardship to trans and gender non-conforming people.

So even though Red Lion Area School District discriminates, there are other parts of the state that are open and affirming for LGBT people.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Oh When Will They Ever Learn?

Another school bans a trans-student from using the name that they go by during graduation and refuses to have their name in the yearbook.
Pennsylvania School District Refuses to Change Policies on Transgender Students
ACLU Press Release
May 6, 2013

RED LION, Pa. – The Red Lion Area School District (RLASD) has refused to change its policy regarding transgender candidates for prom court, nor will it agree to allow transgender students to use a name at graduation to match their gender identity, according to a letter from the school district's solicitor.

RLASD's treatment of its transgender students became an issue last month after a male transgender student, Issak Wolfe, was denied the chance to run for prom king when his principal placed his female birth name in the column for "prom queen" despite repeated requests to be listed in accordance with his gender identity.
This is not the first time that the school’s administrators dug in their heels, back in April they refused to let him run for Prom King and warned him about bring a girl to the prom as his date.
Principal Also Threatened to Bar Student's Girlfriend From Prom for Criticizing Him Online
ACLU Press Release
April 26, 2013

RED LION, Pa. – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Pennsylvania sent a letter today on behalf of a male transgender student who was denied the chance to run for prom king when his principal placed his female birth name in the column for "prom queen" despite repeated requests to be listed under his correct gender identity.

Principal Mark Shue of Red Lion Area Senior High School also threatened to bar Issak Wolfe from attending prom with his girlfriend, who is an alumnus of the school, after she posted statements and a petition online supporting Wolfe. The prom is scheduled for this Saturday, April 27.
But it seems it is only the school’s administration that has a problem with him,
Wolfe has been going by Issak since his junior year of high school, and his teachers and friends call him by that name. He approached school faculty several times in the weeks prior to prom and was assured he'd be listed as Issak on the ballot for prom king. After the fact, he was told that the principal "wasn't comfortable" listing him as a candidate for king, and had the listing changed to the prom queen side of the ballot without warning.
"Issak is accepted by his family, teachers, and peers for who he is," said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. "He had no reason to expect to be treated differently by school officials, and Shue's efforts to silence Issak and Taylor and suppress their First Amendment rights are completely inappropriate and unconstitutional."
Whatever it was, it seems like everyone was okay with his transition but then there was an abrupt change. It seems like the teachers and faculty did not have any problems with his transition until the principal stepped in to veto the faculty. I can’t help but think that there are outside influences that resulted in the school officials taking the hardline against him. Did some parents complain? Was it the result of religious beliefs? Did an outside organization complain?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Trans-Rights v. Religious Freedom

Once again the conservative are claiming their “rights” are being infringed upon. Somehow they have twisted their religious beliefs into allowing them to discriminate against trans-people and the LGBT community. They think that they can use public funding and still believe that they can discriminated against us when the courts have over and over again said that if you take public money or you serve the public that you have to obey all laws, including the non-discrimination laws. You may remember the case in 2007 where a lesbian couple wanted to rent a pavilion on the boardwalk in Ocean Grove NJ that was owned by a Methodist organization for their civil union vows and they were refused by the Methodist organization. The church cited the First Amendment religious freedom for their reason to discriminate but a judge found that “… that the association opened the pavilion up to the public and thus was obligated to follow anti-discrimination laws.” In addition, the church in their application for tax-exempt status said that the “program that requires facilities to be open and nondiscriminatory to all.”

Now out in California the California Baptist University have claim religious freedom in their expulsion of a trans-student.
CAL BAPTIST: Transgender student’s discrimination case advances
The Press-Enterprise
BY David Olson
May 07, 2013

A Riverside County Superior Court judge rejected California Baptist University’s request to dismiss a transgender woman’s civil-rights complaints against the school.

Domaine Javier, 26, of Riverside, was expelled from Riverside’s Cal Baptist in August 2011 after revealing in an episode of MTV’s “True Life” that she is biologically male.

Javier alleges that the expulsion violates a state law that bars discrimination based on gender identity.

Cal Baptist contends the university is not covered by the law because it is a private institution where religious beliefs and values are an integral part of its mission. The university asked Judge Matthew Perantoni to dismiss the civil-rights claims.
California Baptist University is open to all people of any religious faiths including atheists and I also imagine that they take federally back student loans such as Pell Grants; therefore, they are in the same position as the Ocean Grove Methodist organization in that they open to the public and accept public funding. They have their hand out for our money but they don’t want the strings attached when they accept our money.

But they are not alone in their twisted view of religious freedom…
Newt Gingrich Claims LGBT Rights Undermine Catholic Rights, Cites Heterosexual-Only Adoption Services
Huffington Post
By Meredith Bennett-Smith
Posted: 05/06/2013

Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and recent Republican presidential candidate, made the controversial comments during a panel discussion Sunday on NBC’s "Meet the Press." Host David Gregory asked Gingrich if he thought a Republican nominee for president could support gay marriage. “I doubt it,” Gingrich replied, adding that society is changing, so the issue remains "up in the air."

“But what I’m struck with is the one-sidedness of the desire for rights,” Gingrich said. “There are no rights for Catholics to have adoption services in Massachusetts; they’re outlawed. There are no rights in D.C. for Catholics to have adoption services; they’re outlawed."

"Does [supporting LGBT rights] mean that you actually have to affirmatively eliminate any institution which does not automatically accept [homosexuality]?" Gingrich continued.
Once again it give me your money and I will do want I want not what I said I would do when I took your money.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

What Is That Shinny Plant With Three Leaves?

Yesterday I went over by the reservoir and drove around to all the orchards that surround the reservoir.

This I believe is their plum orchard…

And this is their apple orchard…

While I was taking the pictures, I didn't see a woodchuck hole and tripped, falling into a poison ivy patch. I saw all these little brand new baby leaves nice and shiny with leaves if three all around me, with my left hand right in the middle of a patch… SHIT!

By the time I got home there was a rash on the back of my hand, I washed it with Dawn dish detergent to remove the oil and it worked! The rash didn't get any worst and this morning it is almost gone, so I think Dawn should advertise that it not only removes grease from dirty dishes but also the oil from poison ivy.

I also put all my clothes in the washer and double washed them in hot water and then ran another rinse cycle just to make sure I got all the oil out of the washer (That is all I needed was to cross contaminate the next load of wash.).

Monday, May 06, 2013

Landloards And Trans-Tenants

I came across this LA Times article about the duties and responsibilities of a landlord with a transgender tenant.
Question: I have been renting an apartment to a man named Michael, who recently asked me to start calling him Michelle because, he says, he now identifies as a woman. He has also started wearing makeup and women's clothing.

Both the name change and the change in dress make me uncomfortable, and I'm worried that it may make my other tenants want to leave. At least one of the other tenants has commented about the "freak" in Apartment 201 and has asked me if the "freak" has any plans to move out.

Michael has been an otherwise good tenant for several years. I don't really want to terminate his tenancy, but I don't think I should be forced to call him anything but the name he listed on his rental application. I also don't want him to stay if his behavior will provoke the other tenants. What am I allowed to do?

Answer: The applicable fair housing laws prohibit discrimination based on gender, which includes gender identity. As a landlord, you are obligated to treat each prospective or current tenant the same, without regard to their gender or gender identity.

This tenant must be called Michelle, regardless of the name she initially listed on her rental application and regardless of how you personally feel about her gender identity. If you continuously and intentionally call her by the name and pronoun that does not correspond to her gender identity, you may be liable for gender discrimination and unlawful harassment.
Here in Connecticut this is also true, our non-discrimination statute covers public accommodation which includes housing. In addition, HUD-funded housing, including rental and homeownership programs as well as FHA-insured home loans also is covered by HUD non-discrimination policies
New regulations, published as final in the Federal Register next week, will go into effect in 30 days

WASHINGTON – U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced today new regulations intended to ensure that HUD's core housing programs are open to all eligible persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Donovan previewed the announcement at the 24th National Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality – Creating Change. View the final rule here.

“The Obama Administration has viewed the fight for equality on behalf of the LGBT community as a priority and I’m proud that HUD has been a leader in that fight,” said Secretary Shaun Donovan. “With this historic rule, the Administration is saying you cannot use taxpayer dollars to prevent Americans from choosing where they want live on the basis sexual orientation or gender identity – ensuring that HUD’s housing programs are open, not to some, not to most, but to all.”

The new regulations, published as final in the Federal Register next week, will go into effect 30 days after the rule is published.
So even if your state does not have a gender inclusive anti-discrimination law, you may be covered by the HUD policy.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Taken To The Wood Shed

Last week I wrote about the horrible way the newspaper “The Plain Dealer” reported the murder of a trans-woman, it was not only the trans-community that found it transphobic but also professional journalist, the Columbia Journalism Review* also found it objectionable. Jennifer Vanasco wrote this about the Plain Dealer article…
Transgender people are victimized enough without the press piling on. The Cleveland Plain Dealer owes the transgender community an apology. But more than that, it owes the public a series that explores the ferocious struggles transgender people face every day just to be treated like human beings.
Ms. Vanasco pointed out how the article violated may journalist standards beside the use of wrong pronouns, such as using her mugshot,
It’s standard to use a mugshot if a person is guilty of something, but not if they’re a murder victim, which is the case here. They made her look like a criminal.
And the focus of the story,
What is odd is not that a transgender woman was dressed in a feminine way, but that the story chose to focus on that detail instead of the savage way she was murdered.
Ms. Vanasco takes them to task for the way they reedited the story after it was strongly criticized,
Instead, the story drops all pronouns and refers to Cemia as Carl, which seems like a half-hearted effort to be consistent with the AP’s recommendations.
She also pointed out that it wasn’t just the Plain Dealer that disrespected Ms. Acoff but also Fox8 and CBS affiliate 19 Action News.

*The "Columbia Journalism Review's mission is to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. Founded in 1961 under the auspices of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism..."

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Saturday Six #473

Patrick’s Place Saturday Six #473

1. If you had to get up in front of a room of strangers, which of these would you be LEAST comfortable admitting: your true age, your true weight or your true income?
My income, I have already done the other two.

2. Which of those three would you be MOST comfortable admitting to the same crowd?
My age, like I said when I have given presentations sometimes I tell my age.

3. If you knew when your last meal was going to happen, what would you like to have on the menu?
That is easy (as long as I don’t have to worry about my blood glucose), anyone who read my blog regularly will know my answer; New England Clam Chowder, Steamers, Lobsters with a bottle of Samuel Adams to wash it down and for desert cheesecake.

4. Who are you most concerned about disappointing?
My brother.

5. What’s the toughest job you’ve ever had?
When I had to stand up before seven angry customers to tell them why a 2 million dollar system that we installed didn’t work.

6. What event scared you more than anything else you’ve experienced?
When I saw the other car heading right towards me and the laws of physics we will meet right there…

Saturday 9: Tunnel of Love

Crazy Sam’s Saturday 9: Tunnel of Love

1) Do you enjoy amusement park rides?
Nope, I hate them. No rollercoasters, no Tilt-A-Whirl, nothing the scares or goes upside down or makes fast turns, give a jungle cruise any day.

2) In this song, Bruce likens romance to riding through the tunnel of love. The Red Hot Chili Peppers sing about a "Love Rollercoaster." What amusement park ride reminds you of your relationships?
The dunk tank.

3) Bruce's nickname is The Boss. Who was your best boss? What made him/her a good supervisor?
Well I was the boss and my boss just let me run my own department and did butt in as long as I was under budget and on time.

4) Bruce's father was a bus driver and his mother was a legal secretary. What professions did/do your parents work in?
My father was in education administration and my mother was a homemaker.

5) Bruce met his wife Patti at a bar in Asbury Park. Do you believe you can pick up lasting love in a bar?
Nope, it is very rare.

6) Springsteen was unable to work for years because he was embroiled in a lawsuit with his management company. Have you ever been sued, or sued someone else?
Nope, never. I have been on juries through.

7) Bruce won an Oscar for writing the title song for the Tom Hanks movie Philadelphia. Do you have a favorite Tom Hanks movie?
The Man with One Red Shoe, runner up Toy Story.

8) Bruce's official Twitter account (@springsteen) has more than 389,000 followers. Do you tweet? If so, how many people follow you?
Nope, I’m just on Facebook

9) Bruce's drummer, Mighty Max Weinberg, led the band on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. Who do you think is funnier -- Conan or Jay Leno? Or are you looking forward to Jimmy Fallon?
I never make it past 11, so I really don’t care who is on late night.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Another Busy Day

The last couple of days I have been busy, on Sunday I’m having the CTAC Board meeting at my house so I have been cleaning to get ready for it. Also I have been working on sending out the CECs (Continuing Education Credits) for the conference and just to keep it interesting I had to have a plumber over to fix the kitchen sink.

And just so I won’t get bored at night, I have been working on a workshop presentation for the Massachusetts NASW (National Association of Social Workers) conference next April, they sure do plan far in advance. One of the things that they require are books or research articles on your topic, do you know how hard it is to find articles on the trans*culture? I only found 3 articles that are less than 5 years old.

Who said retirement is boring?

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Now What?

Rhode Island will become the sixth New England state to have marriage equality! I am proud to be a New Englander; we have led the way for not only marriage equality but also for LGBT rights.

Now that all the New England states has marriage equality, now what? Will the LGBT organizations that fought for our right to marry die out from lack of funding, will GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defender) close their doors because the donations dry up?

Here in Connecticut Love Makes a Family close their doors once we got marriage equality, they were our strongest ally in a quest for the gender identity and expression anti-discrimination law; however, once we got marriage equality all of their bread and butter donation dried up and they had to close their doors. All of their five, ten and twenty dollar donations stopped… we got what we want and we don’t care about any trans-rights!

All six states have marriage equality but only five states have anti-discrimination laws that cover trans-people; New Hampshire is the lone hold out (The "Live Free or Die" state seems to have a problem with equality.). Will the lesbian and gay organizations that have been supporting trans-right have to close their doors because lack of funding?

I also worry that the equality organizations will be closing their doors at the same time the anti-equality organizations are getting stronger and there will be nobody left to oppose them. I know here in Connecticut the religious conservative group is still active in trying to overturn not only marriage equality but also trans-rights.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

How Did The First Amendment Get Twisted…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment has never been interpreted that laws which do not ban specific religions or religious practices but are for everyone such as the drugs laws are unconstitutional. For an example you can ban the use of peyote and it will also prohibit people taking peyote for religious ceremonies, the Supreme Court in a ruling in 1990 said that it can be banned. According to the ‘Electric Law Library,
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed, holding that the free exercise clause of the First Amendment did not prohibit the State of Oregon from banning the sacramental use of peyote through its general criminal prohibition laws, or from denying unemployment benefits to persons dismissed from their jobs for such religiously inspired use. In an opinion written by Justice Scalia (joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices White, Stevens, and Kennedy), the Court discarded the long-standing compelling interest test, holding that facially neutral laws of general applicability that burden the free exercise of religion require no special justification to satisfy free exercise scrutiny. Finally, the Court asserted that the free exercise of religion may be protected through the political process. According to the majority, its inability to find constitutional protection for religiously inspired action burdened by generally applicable laws does not mean statutory exemptions to such laws are not permitted or even desired…
But that is not the only court case that said the First Amendment rights were limited, there was also a Supreme Court case where a certain Amish sect claimed that they didn’t have to pay the Social Security tax because it violated their religious beliefs. In the Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties said this about United States v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252 (1982),
When a person’s religious beliefs are at odds with actions of their government, and the person is required to support the government through taxes, there may be conflict. In deciding these conflicts, courts must weigh the government’s interest in the tax program against the burden on the individual’s rights under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

… in this case the Court did not require an accommodation on the part of the government. In a unanimous opinion, the Court ruled that there was no constitutional requirement for an exemption from social security taxes based on the free exercise clause. It also ruled that the existing statutory exemption only applied to the self-employed, not employers like Mr. Lee.
The same thing was true when the Quakers claimed a religious exemption from paying income tax because of their religious belief of pacifism. They lost their court case and had to pay their taxes.

Now the Republicans and conservatives are trying to twist the First Amendment to allow religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws to allow people to discriminate sexual orientation and gender identity.
Washington Lawmaker Introduces Religious, Gay Discrimination Bill
The Huffington Post
By John Celock
Posted: 04/26/2013

Legislation proposed in Washington state this week would allow businesses to deny service to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population and others, based on religious differences.

Under the terms of the bill, businesses in the state could refuse service to anyone whose religious or philosophical beliefs differ from their own. They could not, however, refuse service based on areas protected under federal law, which does not include the LGBT community.
This bill gives carte blanche powers to people to discriminate against LGBT people, all they will have to say that it is against my religion and they can discriminate. There are no religious tests to prove that it is really against their religion to discriminate because by definition they just have to state that and it automatically is true.

Do you remember a few months ago the Republicans got up on their soapbox and said that they had to be more inclusive… well it didn’t take long for their actions to show their true colors.