Sunday, September 28, 2008

Trans for Obama Day

Goal Thermometer

The National Stonewall Democrats have a page for trans people + allies to donate to Barack Obama's campaign, which is a damned cool idea. Before this campaign started, over 105 people donated $5400, which is damned cool too. But if we really want to make ourselves visible - even in a small way - we should try to get that number - and the amount of participants - higher. So if you're trans, or a trans ally, & support Barack Obama financially, do consider donating to his campaign through the site.

& Then tell two friends, so they tell two friends... by the end of the day we can easily surpass a couple of people on ActBlue's list of top online donors. Post the info on your personal blog - on Yahoo 360, or LJ, or Facebook, or to a community message boards you post on.

I've started a Trans for Obama event on Facebook, too.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bad News

The body of a transgendered person has been found in the American River in Sacramento, CA. No word yet on how the person died, but we're bracing to hear the bad news. It's never a good day when you realize that you're hoping it's because of suicide instead of a hate crime/murder.

22 years old, and Latina - which tells me it was a hate crime that put her in that river. Vaya con dios, whoever you are.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Congrats, Diane Schroer

& Thank you, ACLU.

WASHINGTON, DC September 19, 2008 — Today the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Diane Schroer, supporting her claim that she was wrongfully denied employment by the Library of Congress after she notified them that she intended to transition.

In 2004, while still living as David, retired US Army Colonel Diane Schroer was offered and accepted a job with the Library of Congress. When she notified her new employers of her intention to transition, the offer was rescinded. After a highly distinguished military career, Col. Schroer decided to fight once more to uphold American values of fairness and justice.

“True to form, Diane Schroer has once again demonstrated her bravery and her commitment to American democracy,” noted Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “By fighting for her rights, she has defended the honor and rights of all transgender people who have been discriminated against on the job. NCTE congratulates her on this historic win and applauds the tremendous work of the ACLU in securing this victory for us all.”

In his ruling United States District Judge James Robertson stated, “After hearing the evidence presented at trial, I conclude that Schroer was discriminated against because of sex in violation of Title VII.” He went on to note, “None of the five assertedly legitimate reasons that the Library has given for refusing to hire Schroer withstands scrutiny.”

Judge Robertson concluded, “In refusing to hire Diane Schroer because her appearance and background did not comport with the decision maker’s sex stereotypes about how men and women should act and appear, and in response to Schroer’s decision to transition, legally, culturally, and physically, from male to female, the Library of Congress violated Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination.”

You can read the whole of the decision at the ACLU’s website (pdf).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vital National Trans Survey

Respond to the survey online at

WASHINGTON, DC September 11, 2008 -- In the wake of one of the most violent years on record of assaults on transgender people, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (The Task Force) have teamed up on a comprehensive national survey to collect data on discrimination against transgender people in housing, employment, public accommodation, health care, education, family life and criminal justice.

To date, in 2008, several young gender non-conforming people of color have been murdered, including California junior high school student Lawrence King, who was shot in public during the school day. King's murder, and the murders of Simmie Williams in South Carolina and Angie Zappata in Greeley, Colorado come in a year in which we are still working to include transgender provisions in a federal bill to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual workers from discrimination in employment.

Hate crimes against transgender people suggest multiple points of vulnerability, which can compound each other: discrimination in employment may lead to unstable housing situations which in turn can leave transgender people at the mercy of public programs and public officials who may not respond respectfully or appropriately to them. These stressors add burdens in a health care system that is often unprepared for transgender people's needs. The list goes on. "We know that transgender people face discrimination on multiple fronts," said Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE. "This data will help us sort out the combination of forces that leave transgender people vulnerable to unemployment, homelessness, and violence."

Jaime Grant, director of the Task Force Policy Institute noted, "There is so little concrete data on the needs and risks associated with the widespread discrimination we see in the lives of the transgender people we know. This data will help point the way to an appropriate policy agenda to ensure that transgender people have a fair chance to contribute their talents in the workplace, in our educational systems and in our communities."

NCTE and the Task Force have partnered with Pennsylvania State University's Center for the Study of Higher Education to collect and analyze the data. Applying rigorous academic standards to the investigation will strengthen any case made to legislators, policy makers, health care providers, and others whose decisions impact the lives of transgender people. A national team of experts in survey research and transgender issues developed the questionnaire, which can be completed on-line at Paper copies can also be downloaded from the NCTE and The Task Force websites soon.

Keisling notes: "This is an absolutely critical national effort. We urge all transgender and gender non-conforming people to take the survey to help guide us in making better laws and policies that will improve the quality of life for all transgender people. We need everyone's voice in this, everyone's participation."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts On 9/11

For once, this post has nothing to do with being transgender, LGBT rights, or anything related to those topics, or at least it didn't used to.

In 1980, I was 18 years old and living in Manhattan. That summer, I worked as a messenger for an insurance brokerage on Madison Avenue. My job was to collect insurance binders from the main office, run them downtown to the offices of major corporate insurance companies and obtain signatures, and then return the signed documents to the brokerage at the end of my daily runs.

My first stop of the day was always the World Trade Center. I'd arrive at the major hub subway station directly underneath the Twin Towers and head upstairs to where some of the offices I needed to visit were. I knew those buildings well, and I knew the folks who worked in them. I remember the first time I visited one of those offices on the 86th floor. As I was admitted past the receptionist and into the main area where the insurance writers worked to get my signatures, I was transfixed by the panorama of Manhattan revealed by the floor-to-ceiling windows which gave one the sense of being on a platform floating high above the city. I was hardly the only one who got that sensation, apparently, when one of the insurance writers walking by who noticed me staring out the windows that first day told me "Don't worry, you get used to it after a while.".

He was right. I did get used to it. Those offices and those amazing views of the city became commonplace for me after a while, as I learned all the shortcuts and people to talk to get me quickly to the places I needed to go to accomplish my daily tasks there. There were the receptionists who recognized me and would just wave me in rather than make me wait like others to be invited inside. There were the security guards and police officers who'd allow me the use of restricted stairwells and side doors to easily move from office to office and floor to floor. There were the ticket-takers at the observation deck who'd let me slip in without paying so I could eat my lunch comfortably looking out across the massive vista spread out before me. So many people who I knew by only a smile and a wave as we all went about our daily duties. I never thought, even for a moment, that the World Trade Center was anything more than a really cool place to spend part of my working day, or that all of those people I saw for just moments each day were transitory, that someday it and they could all be gone, just like that.

I know many people reading this have never lived in and around New York City and probably never even saw the World Trade Center in person while it existed. While not suggesting for a moment that one had to be a physical witness to this place in order to appreciate its loss, I nonetheless also believe that for those who did, for those who lived and worked in the area and especially for those of us who knew that place intimately, even for just a while, the tragedy of 9/11 carries an even greater sense of loss.

I remember when the Towers were completed and opened in the early 70's when I was just a child. It was always the very first feature of the Manhattan skyline that would come into view as you approached New York City by car from the south. As I grew into adulthood, it became a defining symbol of what New York was, surpassing the Empire State Building as the single most easily identified feature of the Manhattan skyline. When I moved back to New Jersey, it was still always there, even if I barely noticed it after a while, whenever I went into the city or passed by on my way elsewhere. It wasn't something I thought about or gave any more real consideration to more than any other landmark one might see. It just wasn't something you really paid attention to as a local, until one day those tall, shining towers just weren't there anymore.

I remember the day it happened like it was yesterday. I was sleeping when the phone rang. It was my mother, calling from work, telling me to get up and turn on the television. I did, saw the smoke streaming from the first tower, and just seconds later, I watched the second plane hit as it happened on live TV. It's an image that will be burned into my mind forever. Like the rest of America, I spent that afternoon glued to my television but even after all those hours of witnessing that horror on the small screen, it didn't seem quite real. At the time it happened, it felt like I was watching a spectacular Hollywood action movie. The reality of what had happened, the lives lost, the damage, all of it, didn't seem to be reality despite all the evidence to the contrary.

It wasn't until a week later, when my mother and went to visit my grandmother in Brooklyn and we drove down the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway with a full view of downtown Manhattan, that it really sunk in. When I looked across the East River, where those towers had always completely dominated the landscape because of their close proximity, about as close as you can come to the site from the Brooklyn side without actually entering Manhattan, their absence was jarring. Buildings that had always been blocked from view from that angle were now clearly in view, parts of the sky which had always been blocked by the towers rising into the sky were visible. At first it seemed almost surreal, and then it seemed more real than I could have imagined.

A part of New York City, the place I was born and came of age in, the city I fell in love with and was not only my home but the place where I felt most at home and welcome as someone who was different than most as a punk rocker in black leather and bad attitude, was gone. More than simply part of the skyline, more than simply a place I had worked when I was younger, it felt like a significant part of my youth and my memory of that time had been stolen from me.

It's still as true for me to today as it was then. Even now as I approach Manhattan I can't help but notice that skyline and what's missing from it. And when I notice, I remember. I remember everything, not only about what the magnitude of the loss of those buildings and those people represent to me personally and to all of us as a nation, but also how fleeting life can be, and how something that I once thought simply a part of what my reality was, a symbol that defined a place I love, can so quickly and completely be taken away from me, and from all of us.

And when I remember, it still hurts.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

GenderVision releases "Transgender-Friendly Public Policy" and "Trans Partners" DVD

This fifth GenderVision program, titled "Transgender-Friendly Public Policy", presents Gunner Scott, co-founder and director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), talking about changes to public policy that are needed in order to create a truly transgender-inclusive society. Scott has earned widespread respect with his leadership in the Massachusetts-area transgender community, helping to create some of the most comprehensive resources available to transgender persons anywhere, including a free legal clinic and much more. MTPC is currently the lead sponsor of a legislative initiative to provide protections for all people against discrimination in employment, education, credit and accommodations based on gender identity or expression. This GenderVision program is available for viewing at

Now available on DVD is GenderVision's third program, "Trans Partners: Gender & Relationship". This DVD includes an extended, in-depth interview with well-known transgender advocates Helen Boyd and Betty Crow that spans two full-length GenderVision programs. It also includes over 30 minutes of additional content, as Helen & Betty talk about how they met, and share anecdotes with Nancy. It can be purchased at; all proceeds support the continued production of GenderVision.

An Open Letter To Joe Solmonese

Dear Joe,

I've heard you're going to be posting on the Bilerico Project again, so I'm writing this in the hopes that you'll read it and respond.

First and foremost, before you read any further, let me say this: I'm not about to bash you again. I've done plenty of that, and while we can argue as to whether it's deserved or not, that's not the purpose of this letter. No, I'm putting all that aside for the moment because I want you to hear from me, one of your loudest and most vocal detractors, why I go after you and HRC as often and as enthusiastically as I do, why so many of us are furious with you and why we make that fury known on the blogs with such volume and venom.

I think it'll help to illustrate the point I want to make here if I tell you a little about myself that you probably don't know. In that vein, here's a tidbit you might find hard to believe but is nonetheless absolutely true. I first came out trans and began living as a woman in 1997, and a couple of years after that I attended my very first Pride event in Philadelphia. While at the street festival that day, I bought my very first LGBT-identifying thing to wear, an HRC t-shirt. I kid you not. This was a very huge deal for me, having hidden my true gender identity all of my life and by then was well into a six-year stretch of unemployment precipitated by my own stupid mistake of telling my last boss of my impending transition. I was well-liked and on a short list of candidates for promotion, but less than two weeks later I was out of a job, just like that. No reasons given, no disciplinary issues, just coming into work one day to hear "You're fired. Pick up your check Friday.".

I was terrified of public ridicule and exposure before I worked up the courage to go to Philly for Pride and present myself openly as an out Queer-identified transwoman for the very first time in my life. That HRC t-shirt I bought that day was a rite of passage for me, a public declaration of my identity and my pride in myself, and I wore it with pride...for a while.

After a while, though, it wasn't so easy to muster that pride anymore. Month after month and year after year went by with no job interview making it past the first five or ten minutes, and with some even asking me to leave immediately when I appeared for my interview. In every case, I was told, either by the demeanor of the person I interviewed with or directly, in so many words, "We don't hire people like YOU!".

I don't know if you know what it's like to be unemployed for six straight years, Joe, but I can tell you it's not fun, and on top of that it makes you angry and bitter as hell. I was lucky in that I have family that kept a roof over my head and food in my stomach but beyond those essentials and a computer with an Internet connection, I had nothing at all, and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. No entertainment aside from that which I could get on TV and online, no offline social life whatsoever, no car, no access to public transportation, no nothing other than the small amounts of pocket cash I acquired from friends and family at birthdays and holidays. That's it. That was my life for six long years.

I had to do something to keep myself from going insane with boredom so I started writing, which eventually evolved into political commentary as I became more educated about our community and what it really means to be a transperson socially and politically in this country. I developed community connections, first with fellow transpeople and later with gays and lesbians as well. I discovered and fell in love with LGBT-oriented radio, eventually teaming up with a fellow transwoman, Marti Abernathey, to create and host our own Internet radio show for transgender people.

Over this time, the more I learned about HRC and their positions on employment rights for transfolks and support for transpeople in general, the more disenchanted with the organization I became. Perhaps at the time I was a bit too naive to understand how an organization like HRC which says it supports the rights of transgender people could do so little to support us in reality. So I talked to people, a lot of people, those who'd been around a lot longer than I had, and the vast majority all told me essentially the same things: "Don't trust Congress, don't trust GenderPAC, and don't trust the Human Rights Campaign. They'll tell you they support us, but in reality they only care about themselves.".

It was easy to believe these things. After all, this advice was not only given to me often as a baby transactivist, but it was clearly backed up by what we saw going on in Washington. People made accusations against HRC and Congress and these accusations were almost always proven to be correct sooner or later. After a while, I always believed the worst of HRC when I heard it because it almost inevitably proved to be true.

So, enough about myself, it's time to get to the point here. My story is by no means unique. In fact, I'd venture to say that probably most transitioned transsexuals can tell a version of it from their own lives. Devastatingly long periods of unemployment, blatant bigotry and discrimination on and off the job, being treated like a mental defective or gutter trash when you show up for an interview, and on and on. I'd ask you to take a moment, Joe, and imagine, just for a moment, that you lived through something like this as an integral part of your coming out process. What do you think it would have done to you? How would you perceive an organization like HRC which supports and endorses enacting laws which protect others from discrimination but not yourself? How would you see your government when even those you'd expect to be among the first to support you and your equality are just as eager as the rest to enact anti-discrimination laws that leave you and those like you about unprotected while protecting everyone else?

Honestly, Joe, how would you feel if this had been your life? And if you can be honest in that assessment, then I suspect that you can also understand why so many transpeople and our allies feel the way we do, about you and about the organization you lead. I'm sure you've also noticed that while we call out the Democrats quite frequently for their failings, we seem to have a special level of antagonism and outright rage reserved for HRC that we don't display toward anyone else, not the Dems and not even the right-wing hatemongers. You might think that's unfair, but there's a very good reason for it, and it can be boiled down to a single sentence: We expect you to know better.

Anyone who follows politics knows that politicians, no matter who they are or what political party they hail from, cannot be trusted to reliably fulfill the promises they make. Sure, we get plenty angry at Barney Frank and the rest for treating us badly, but we expect to be sold out for political gain by politicians. We don't feel that same level of intense anger toward the politicians because we don't really expect them to keep their promises.

It's different for HRC though, and it's different because HRC itself has been telling us it's different for years now. Until very recently the Democrats never claimed to support us, but your organization proactively took on the role of speaking for us in Washington. HRC told us they represent us and fight for us. They told us they were on our side, that HRC is our voice in Washington. They promised us that HRC would not support any legislation that didn't include all of us. But then, the very first time those commitments were tested, the very first time HRC was called upon to really stand up and act as our advocate, you guys folded like a house of cards. Again Joe, if you were one of us how would you feel about HRC and the promises the organization had made to represent your interests and support your rights?

I've heard that you've said you understand why we're angry, but I really don't think you do, because if you did, if you really, truly understood why we feel so betrayed by HRC and why your statement at Southern Comfort and what happened just days afterward so enraged transpeople as well as other fairminded LGBT's and progressives, you'd be doing things differently. Once again, it's all in those six little words: We expect you to know better.

The truth of it is, Joe, even all of that is only part of why we're so eager to publicly rip you and HRC to shreds. The other part is not about your actions as much as it is about your behavior. Instead of seeking to open a dialog and work toward a solution that would benefit all of us, HRC has chosen to circle the wagons, cut itself off from communication with the rest of the greater community, and continue to ignore the clear will of the majority and do whatever it feels like doing, apparently with little or no regard for how it affects the rest of us. It's not just that we don't like what you're doing, it's that the way you're doing it is arrogant as hell.

You don't work with the community, you don't talk to us, you offer carefully selected, ultra-clean business leaders like Diego Sanchez to Congress as representatives of who our community is, but you never really tell the rest of our story, do you? Diego is a wonderful person and an excellent example for anyone, trans or not, but does he really represent and reflect the real rank-and-file American transgender community? Given the statistics we all know so well, it's fair to say that it's highly likely that success stories like Diego's are the exception not the rule and they offer Congress a completely misleading picture of what's really going on out there. I'd bet that there are far more transpeople who go to work every day wearing a blue-collar uniform than a business suit (that is, those of us fortunate enough to have any employment at all).

It's important to present people like Diego as examples of our best, but when you fail to also present those who represent the everyday reality most of us actually live in as transpeople you not only do a disservice to our community by portraying us inaccurately but you also send a message that the vast majority of us aren't good enough to be recognized and heard. When you refuse to enter into a public dialog with us on these issues which are so critical to every aspect of our daily lives you send the message that HRC feels no responsibility to be accountable to the rest of the community for what it does on our behalf. Once again, it's hardly surprising that most of us see you as arrogant and interested only in self-promotion since that's exactly the message you're sending us by your actions, or perhaps more specifically, your lack of action. And yes, once again, we're as angry as we are and we see you as we do because we expect you to know better.

A few weeks ago, I wrote to Brad Luna to invite you on my radio show. I got back a polite but firm denial then, so I'm going to make you the same offer now, publicly, for all of our readers to see. Come on my show and let's get into the issues. Let's talk about why HRC has acted as it has, why you continue to actively support a non-inclusive ENDA in opposition to not only the will of most of the rest of the American LGBT community but also a significant number of members of Congress, including the man most likely to become our next President. When I had Hilary Rosen on my show, I asked her what she thought about your promise at Southern Comfort and she responded that you had no business making such a statement in the first place. I want to ask you about that too, and I also want to ask you about the future. What happens with ENDA next year and how will HRC fit in? What plans does HRC have to help ensure that the next ENDA to be voted on will be fully inclusive? How will things be different when Barack Obama is in the White House?

Yes, I'll ask you tough questions and expect answers, but I don't want you on my show to attack you, I want you on because I think we deserve some answers. If and when I really want to bash you and HRC publicly I certainly have no shortage of media venues in which to do so, but doing so on my show would serve no more useful purpose than doing so in this letter would, and as someone who has a radio show of your own I'm sure you understand my reasoning. I encourage you to follow the link above and listen to my interview with Hilary Rosen. As I would with you, I did not shy away from asking her tough questions, but always respectfully and cordially as you will hear. Furthermore, as I did with Hilary Rosen I make you the promise that my callers will not be permitted to bash you either. I have rules against that sort of thing on my show, and they will be just as strictly enforced for your appearance as they have been for any other guest I've ever had on my show.

So, there it is, Joe. I've laid it on the line. If you and HRC really want to work toward a resolution to this conflict and unite this community, the first thing that needs to happen is for us to start talking to each other, not just a few chosen people behind closed doors, but out in the open, in public, in a venue accessible to everyone. If you want to work with the community, you have to engage with the community. Closed-door meetings just aren't going to cut it. If you really want to change hearts and minds, you have to speak where you can and will be heard by those you seek to appeal to or it's all just shouting in the dark.

We expect you to know better, but nothing we've seen or heard from you as yet tells us that you do. If you want us to believe otherwise, you need to tell us why we should. I'm offering my show as a public venue to begin that process and I hope you'll accept. As it has been for some time now, the next move is yours, and I hope you'll take advantage of this offer.

If you want to speak for us, you also have to speak with us. It's my hope that now, after all that's gone on, that you finally will.

I look forward to your response and to speaking with you.


Rebecca Juro

Gender on the Ground

Recently, I have been talking with some folks about how pervasive the binary system of gender is and how it really impacts all of our lives. How most people see only male or female and when one is wearing those blinders, are encouraged to snap judgments and assumptions that may not accurately reflect how I'm feeling at the moment. For most people, this really doesn't matter and perhaps I shouldn't worry about it because I'm just being myself.

But I do.

I've reached a place where I've crossed that line from being mostly gendered male to mostly gendered female and please don't get me wrong, I'm fine with that. But that's not what others may be seeing. Now it seems, when I'm in public places, I need to wait for others to tell me who I am. And its a funny place to be, to have to wait for their cues, before I know mine. helen boyd put it at its simplest best, "you're going to be clocked as either male or female by everyone, even if they don't agree with each other. that's gender on the ground."

Now, our house has an open door policy, people are always welcome to just drop in. Many do, and most often, when a meal is being prepared. So it was no surprise that while my daughter and I were preparing breakfast, at six a.m. I might add, the phone rang and some friends who were driving thru town, called. 'Yah Tah Hey big sis, what's for breakfast', was what came from the phone.

So my friend shows up, with another friend of hers and I put down 2 more plates and put on another pot of coffee. 'Look what I found on the run', was her way of introducing her friend to me. For the past 6 months she has been coordinating the Sacred Run of the Continents and was in the process of returning home, her leave of absence ending soon. Her friend, who needed a ride home too, is a young runner, a member of the Paiute Nation and a Two Spirit. 'Thought the two of you might have something in common to talk about', she said. We did, and over the next few hours we shared a conversation that had my friend just gazing in astonishment.

Oh, we did talk about a lot, especially about how women's energy influences many of our ceremonies (in the next couple of paragraphs, when I use plurals like 'our', I mean it in the context of a pan-Indian or pan-Two Spirit voice. The specifics of our personal ceremonies vary culturally, yet many of the traditions are very similar). And one of the points he, a F2M, and I agreed upon is how strongly who we are, when we walk into a ceremonial place, is mostly determined by how we are seen by those in the ceremony. He and I have both shared those moments, when others decide our gender, roles and place and we have had to 'adjust' to accept their assumptions, or not. And over chorizo and coffee, the two of us sitting there, looking straight into the eyes of this women who thought she was so sure she knew who she is, as a spiritual women; with he and I knowing that we each were initiated into a world that we knew was not entirely ours hold and armed with that knowledge, we were able to make even her question the very essence, spiritual assumptions and absolute significance of something as 'cast in stone' as our friends' moon time.

So there it is, on both sides of my walk, the consequences of a grounded gender. Despite who it is that I think I am today, the binary persists with others continually defining me in their own view of who I am or think I should be. Its their own personal vision of who I am and it is their vision that shapes my reality. Again, I'm not sayin' that its a bad thing and generally I'm pretty OK with it, much of the time because what I want people to see me as aligns with their perceptions. But its those times that I'm not wanting to be who they see me as, that its particularly annoying.

Or dangerous.

But that's not why I'm bringing it up here, to rehash passing privilege or trying to redefine a middle road or to wear my culture on my sleeve. Lately, and more often than I'd like, I've been caught in these gendered places and being there can get quite surreal at times. It's an odd feeling that when you're out and about and doing your thing, that you need to wait for clues from others to see who you might be today. To them. At that point of time. And place.

Of course its bad enough when its just you, out and about. But I have a wife, and a daughter and in-laws, and my ma and family and old friends and new. Each one making me who I am. Whether anyone, including me, is in agreement or not, it doesn't matter.

There was a time when my wife and I never had to even think about the qualifiers. She and I could just go out for a walk. Just a couple. Out for a walk. Now when we walk we have to be aware of others, waiting for signs from them, in order to see who they are seeing, to see if we can be who we are, or who we should be.

So while I was writing this stuff, I got a couple YouTube posts. I've known Georgie Jessup and Lisa Jackson & Girl Friday for some time, but to have them pointed out to me at just this time was truly a wonderful Coyote moment. Being able to watch both of them, for the first time side by side, I was just struck by their not making any bones about who they are. Right then. And watching them is perhaps the wrong sense, it was listening to them. The voice. Their voice. We all understand the power of the voice, as trans people. And there they are, singing in their voices. No hiding the the range, the tone, the depth. Their voice.

What is the gender of those voices? Are they male, female?

Me, all I hear is Lisa and Georgie. Two beautiful voices singing songs that resonate in my mind, my soul. Like the drum beat and the heart. A connection that goes back in time. And will always be there in the future. So, if you turn off the video and just listen, its there. You can really see it. Who they are. They are being themselves. If only for a moment, showing the elusive heart of a Two Spirit.

Sometimes I wish the world could be so blind and just listen to the our voices.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Looking for a T Republican

I’m looking for someone who can write an articulate piece about being trans and Republican. I really don’t understand it myself, so I’d like someone who would be willing to address themselves to left-leaning Democrats.

Friday, September 05, 2008

NYT on Workplace Transitions

For those of you who didn’t see it (and who didn’t send it to me), there was an article in the Style section of The NY Times about on-the-job transitions called “Smoother Transitions.” One insight that I had never thought about:

There are also easier routes for employees. At first glance, Ms. Fox said, it might seem easier to apply for a new job in a new gender rather than changing identities in place. But the latter turns out to be simpler.

“If you make the change with people who already know you, then the fact that you are transgender is just one part of you,” she said. In contrast, Ms. Fox said, starting from scratch with a new employer, particularly for a transgender person who does not completely look male or female, means an employer can be “distracted to the point that your gender identity is all they see.”

There’s also a few good quotes in here my Jillian Todd Weiss, who blogs about transgender issues in the workplace. My only wish is that they’d have interviewed Hawk Stone, since he’s been helping people transition on the job for a very long time.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New Study Reveals: Dems, HRC Still Lagging Way Behind Modern Thinking On LGBT, Transgender Issues

A new study released today indicates how woefully behind the times the Democratic Congressional leadership and the Human Rights Campaign are in terms of their support for LGBT "bread and butter" issues, and most especially on workplace rights for transgender and gender variant people. Contrary to the statements of members of Congress such as Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi, and directly in opposition to the HRC polling results released last year commonly considered to be bogus at best if not intentionally tweaked to support their own position which claimed that about 60% of LGBT's supported a non-inclusive ENDA, this survey conducted by Harris Interactive indicates that 71% of Americans believe that transgender workers should be judged on their work performance, not their gender identity. In comparison, those who feel gay and lesbian people should be accorded the same respect polled at only a mere 8% higher at 79%, effectively putting the lie once and for all to that old saw promoted by the Frank/Pelosi/Aravosis crowd that "straight-acting only" civil rights initiatives enjoy much more support that those inclusive of transgender people.

So now with the real truth finally on the table, we're left with reality. Since we now know that gay and lesbian rights don't have substantially more support than transgender rights anymore as some still like to claim, we're forced to conclude that the real motivators for the support of the Democratic Congressional leadership are the two things that the transgender community will never be able to match our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers in: voting numbers and money.

The Democrats are still looking for that easy score without having to actually work for it. We saw it in the way they couldn't even muster the courage to actually include any of us by name in the 2008 Democratic Party Platform, and we're seeing it right now in the way that Barney Frank and the rest of the Dem leadership are still hedging their bets by refusing to stand up and say they will fight to ensure our rights as American citizens to be protected from unjust discrimination. Simply a mention of gender identity in the platform is nice to see but is essentially worthless without a real and specific commitment to action backing it up. In a nutshell, Democratic leaders in Congress are still running away from dealing with us just like HRC does, are still trying to sell us lies about the level of support for our basic rights under the law just like HRC does, and therefore, just like HRC, cannot be trusted to follow through on our behalf fairly and honestly.

Certainly no surprises here to be sure, but this study does provide a certain statistical validity to what many of us have been saying for years, that in the end these people really don't care about anyone or anything other than themselves, their Party, and their own money and political power, certainly not about us. As I've written in the past, these people have been feeding us lies for years now, but it's only recently, when Joe Solmonese got up in front of a podium in front of a thousand transfolks and taught us why the Human Rights Campaign can never be trusted by anyone who isn't rich, white, and politically connected, that everyone else in our community is starting to understand that nothing you hear from any of these people can be accepted as truthful without deep, intensive, and constant verification and re-verification. Even then any promises which might be made can and will not only be reneged upon the moment they become inconvenient, but they'll eagerly fall all over themselves to back up their lies and misrepresentations with dubious statistics and misleading public statements.

The truth telling doesn't stop there, however. This study also reveal several other interesting statistics which are at odds to varying degrees with what our "leaders" are willing to say publicly:

Three out of four (75%) heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive leave when they lose a spouse/partner or close family member."

More than two-thirds (68%) of heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive leave rights for family and medical emergencies as outlined in FMLA."

"(A)lmost two-thirds (64%) of heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive untaxed health benefits under federal law."

You certainly wouldn't think any of this were true if you went solely by the behavior of our "friends" in Congress, that's for sure. It's pretty clear that many of these folks are still stuck somewhere around 1975 in terms of understanding and being tuned in to what's really going on in modern LGBT America.

But gets even better:

"About two of three (65%) of gays and lesbians faced some sort of discrimination in the workplace."

"Nearly half (47%) of gays and lesbian adults heard anti-gay comments on the job."

"More than one-third (36%) of gays and lesbians say they remain closeted at work."

"One out of five (20%) gays and lesbians report being harassed on the job by co-workers."

Oh yeah, gays and lesbians are just soooooo more popularly accepted than we transfolks are...really.

Hopefully, this study and others like it will finally put the cap on the stream of lies we've been hearing from the Democrats about our basic civil rights as American citizens for decades now. If Barney and the House Dems are going to turn tail and cower under a rock again when called upon to stand up for justice for transgender people, we should make certain to publicize these statistics far and wide to illustrate that it's not really the level of acceptance that's causing the Dems to refuse to stand up for real American justice, it's just that we don't have the money and votes to purchase the same level of fairness and equal treatment from our federal government which other citizens are extended automatically.

Yes, Barack Obama is a messenger of hope. The real problem is that the Democratic Congressional leadership routinely marks such messages "Return To Sender" when they concern LGBT people, and especially transgender people. If they want to prove to us that things have changed, one hearing isn't going to do it. After promises and more promises all suddenly just disappearing without a trace the moment they become inconvenient for cowardly do-nothing Democrats, it's no longer reasonable to take anything at all from these people simply on faith.

As always, words mean nothing here. The real proof is in the legislation itself and in the votes it receives. See that big hole in ENDA? The one Barney Frank left when he ripped hardworking, taxpaying Transgender-Americans out of it? See that other huge chunk gone? You know, the one that would have protected us from unjust bigotry committed by those who hide behind religion to discriminate against and disparage those unlike themselves? That's the real Democratic Congressional leadership in action, the one behind all the politically correct rhetoric and positive words. It's important to remember that we can't believe what they tell us because if there's anything we've learned over the course of this battle it's that until a member of Congress is actually willing to back up their words with their vote it's nothing more than yet another meaningless hot air blast from DC.

We can only hope that this new study will inspire Congress to take a serious look at how they've been dealing with our issues, and how utterly antiquated their thinking is on the key political issues of our lives. I'm not holding my breath, mind you, but at least we can hope that finally we can get some real support from Congress so people like me don't have to rip them to shreds again next year for selling out us and our basic civil rights under the law for the umpteenth time.

Congress gets it. We know they get it. They know we know they get it. And now, we have the stats to back it up.

It's time to put up or shut up, Congressional Dems, because you may get through this election relatively unscathed, but if you folks screw us over again there will be hell to pay, and this time, we're bringing friends, lots of them, and they're a lot more powerful and influential than we are. Progressives are furious because now everyone knows how you've been treating us for years and they don't like it anymore than we do. You know the tide has turned and it's time for you people to join much of the rest of the country and the western world in the 21st century in terms of LGBT rights. Get over your bigotry, get over your cowardice, stand up like the leaders you're supposed to be and do what you know needs to be done. No more bullshit, no more excuses. African-Americans had far less popular support when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, but it passed because we had a President and a Congress that made it happen because they knew it was the right thing to do.

To my way of thinking, the transgender community now is like the odd smaller child who has been unmercifully bullied by old and larger children for years until finally one day he comes to school with a baseball bat and waits around the corner for those bullies to try to beat him up again. He stands and he waits, knowing that the moment those bullies try to throw that first punch again, he's going for the home run swing to the head. He sees his tormentors coming down the street, he grips his bat tightly and waits for the punch to the gut he knows is coming...

What happens next? Well, that's up to you folks in Congress. You want to be friends now? You want us to trust you? Why should we? We have dozens upon dozens of reasons not to believe anything you say, but what credible reason have we been given to believe you're worthy of our trust? You're still too scared to even mention us by name in the Party platform and somehow you think that kind of political cowardice is going gain you the trust of a minority group you've treated like crap now for decades? I mean, you have to be kidding, right?

Trust needs to be justified with action. Words are not enough because they never have been. If you're ready to treat us like equals, Congress, then prove it. Don't talk about it, do it. Since you've long since lost the right to expect the benefit of the doubt, it's the only way most of us are going to take you seriously when you say you support us.

As a writer and a radio host, I know that words can and do matter. As an activist and political observer, I know that words coming from politicians mean nothing unless they're backed up by action.

We're behind that fence now, Congress, gripping our bat, pulling back to swing, waiting for the bullies to reach the corner...and here you come. We're ready for you, and so are our big strong friends standing behind us, ready to jump in and hurt you like you've hurt us, over and over and over. The real question is: Are you ready for us?