Tag: Equal Rights

ENDA: Doom in the future

 photo Kristin-Beck-615x345_zpsca0d500a.jpgBack in June I wrote about Kristen Beck, who was came out as transgender after a career as a Navy Seal.  She shares the process in her memoir, Warrior Princess: A US Navy SEAL’s Journey Coming Out Transgender.

Kristen is back in the news after having spoken out about ENDA.  She has the current platform to speak about our issues (i.e. reporters are going to listen to her for awhile when she speaks).

In a country where workers can be fired for expressing their gender identity, people are not free.

–Kristin Beck

How very un-Christian

Francisco Alvarado at Banana Republic nails it:  The Christian Family Coalition Hates Transgender People Too.  Not surprisingly, the CFC opposes legal protections and the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for gender-variant people.

The Miami-Dade County Commission is considering an amendment to the county’s human rights ordinance that would protect transfolk from discrimination. In response CFC executive director Anthony Vedrugo is rallying his unholy band to show up at the Commission’s July 8 meeting to oppose the measure.  You can see the message Vedrugo fired off to his gang of ruffians followers on the inside.

Unlike heaven, West Virginia

We may be making progress at the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t imply that progress is happening elsewhere.  

 photo skinner221_zps2f1d96d8.jpgThere has been a bill in the West Virginia House of Delegates to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws.  But its sponsor, West Virginia’s first openly gay legislator Stephen Skinner (D-Jefferson County) has announced that he has asked the chairman of the committee considering the bill to forget about it ahead of today’s procedural deadline.  Skinner expressed concerns that the proposed exemption for religious organizations would be amended so broadly as to make the bill meaningless.

I believe that the wisest course of action today is to delay the battle in the House for another day.

–Stephen Skinner

Skinner thanked the hundreds of volunteers who have lobbied for the bill thought phone banks and in person.  He also thanked those lawmakers who had co-sponsored and expressed vocal support for the measure.

To those of you who support the (bill) but feel you cannot vote for it, it is not my job to soothe your conscience.  I will not give up on you, but I want you to explain to your children, your grandchildren, your brothers, sisters and friends, why you will not do so.


Unfit to Serve

With the anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell just passed, questions are arising over the military’s continued stance that transgender people are unfit to serve.

The Advocate tracked down some current and recent transpeople who are serving or have just finished serving.

In the interest of full disclosure, this author must admit to serving in the US Army during the Vietnam Era  (1971-1973).  She did not serve oversees , but rather was stationed at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, KS, where she was a correctional specialist who rose to the pay grade of E5 (Spec-5, which is equivalent to sergeant).  She separated with an Honorable Discharge and a Presidential Commendation.  

This was all around two decades before she transitioned.

Transgender in the Military

George Brown is a psychologist who served 12 years in the US Air Force and worked for 13 years in the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Back in 1988 he wrote a paper entitled Transsexuals in the Military: Flight into Hypermasculinity (pdf).  A copy of that paper was present in Bradley Manning’s housing unit, according to testimony at his Article 32 hearing.

To be a boy is to be macho, to have weapons, to be a fighter, and to  kill, at first in play, then maybe later in a war.  

–John Money,  1980

In that paper Brown speculated that male-to-female transgender enlist in the services as a way of “purging their feminine self”.

Current military policies, in association with the proposed hypermasculine phase of transsexual development, may actually result in a higher prevalence of transsexualism in the military than in the civilian population.

–Brown, 1988

Brown claims to have new research data to support that thesis.

If not now, when?

Both the House and Senate passed marriage equality in Maryland and the governor signed it into law.  So what’s next?

For some people, what’s next is getting ready to fight a possible referendum in the fall.  But wait!  What about that other very important piece of legislation.  We hope it is not going to be forgotten in all the hubbub.  And we certainly hope that GLBT activists are not going to let Maryland legislators feel that they have done enough for our community at this time.

Senate Bill 212 stands at the forefront.  It would forbid discrimination against people on the basis of gender identity in the areas of public accommodations, housing and employment, just like it is illegal to discriminate on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability.

Back in May of 2011, shortly after Chrissy Lee Polis was assaulted as she attempted to use a restroom in a Rosedale McDonald’s, Gov. O’Malley issued a statement:

Even with Maryland’s ‘hate crimes’ law, it is clear that more must be done to protect the rights and dignity of transgendered people.

At the time he committed to working on the issue.  But then, when this year’s session started, the issue was not found on his agenda.

Updating: More of the Story

Some stories require follow-up.  How else are we going to know how they are progressing?  In December I wrote about the treatment of transkids in A Voice for the Future.  I’d written about the issue before that as well.

How are doctors treating these children?

They’re prescribing young GID patients with puberty-blocking drugs until age 16, as recommended in guidelines from the Endocrine Society. Then doctors begin lifelong treatment with sex-changing hormones, while monitoring for potential health risks. The guidelines recommend the aid of mental health professionals throughout the process.

A new study about gender non-conformity has been published and even made its way to the mainstream media (Washington Post, CNN Health, The Week, AP.  Two articles about gender-variant behavior are in the March issue of Pediatrics.  The Advocate picked up the story, but concentrated on a survey from 2010 about how 41% of transpeople have attempted suicide.  They did, however, provide a link to LiveScience, which was helpful.

Equality…except at the lunch counter

Being an aging lesbian transwoman, I’d rather be writing about the problems of aging GLBT people, but sometimes events make me so furious, that what I would rather be writing about must take a back seat to expressing my fury.

As I wrote about in January, Baltimore County, Maryland has been considering whether or not transpeople deserve the respect inherent in equal rights.  A bill was introduced by Democratic Councilman Tom Quirk to enumerate and protect the rights of transpeople, and had three co-sponsors (two Republicans and a Democrat).  With 4 out of 7 of the council members sponsoring the legislation, it seemed like a shoe-in to pass.

It likely will still pass, but the changes made to it make it into something unrecognizable as a bill to protect equal rights.

Councilman John Olszewski Sr., a Democrat, has introduced an amendment to strip public accommodations from the rights enumerated by the bill.

How we are treated in public is the main concern many of us have.  Yes, we need protection in the workplace, in housing, and in credit, but if we cannot safely conduct ourselves in the public sphere, then we are not equal citizens.  Have we forgotten the sit-ins at lunch counters from the 60s?  Are we so willing to restrict equality that segregation is actually being considered as the solution?


The State of Transgender Rights: Looking forward and back

Transgender people have historically had little or no protection under federal and state anti-discrimination statutes. Occasionally, this exclusion is made explicit, as under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which specifically states that its anti-discrimination protections do not apply to transgender people. More often, there is no explicit exclusion, but the courts interpret the statutes so as to exclude transgender people from protection.

–GLAD, Transgender Legal Issues:  New England (pdf)

Last evening I had a brief moment to chat with Governor O’Malley just after he had finished a rare and wonderful performance with his band O’Malley’s March in Annapolis. I asked him about the upcoming Gender Identity legislation and he stated clearly “The gender identity bill is a legislative priority!” I could not be more encouraged to hear this.

Sharon Brackett, Board Chair of Gender Rights Maryland

In the wake of the beating of Chrissy Lee Polis in a Baltimore McDonalds, the governor had released a statement which included the following:

it is clear that more must be done to protect the rights and dignity of transgendered people. In the struggle for justice and equality for all, I’m committed to working with the Maryland General Assembly during the next legislative session to increase awareness and provide even greater protections for transgendered people.

There is hope that recent passage of transgender protections in Howard County, MD presages something greater, but there is also worry.

Last year, the houses of the Maryland legislature seemed to think that transgender protections couldn’t be passed unless marriage equality passed as well and so trans protections went down in flames in the Senate because the Senate was irked that the House didn’t pass marriage equality.

Folks, these are separate issues.  Please separate them.

Massachusetts (✓). Who’s next? What’s your problem, New York?

The Massachusetts House approved An Act Relative to Transgender Equality late Tuesday night on a vote of 95-58 after Democrats limited debate to one hour, thereby stifling republican proposed amendments intended to water down the already watered-down bill, which does not include protections from discrimination in public accommodations.  No lunch counters for us.

The intent, of course, was to keep us out of bathrooms and locker rooms.

The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday on a voice vote.  Wednesday was the last day of the legislative session.

Governor Duval Patrick signed the bill today, according to one source.  Massachusetts becomes the 16th state, along with the District of Columbia, to protect transpeople from discrimination and leaves New Hampshire as the only New England state without protections for transpeople.

What’s up in New York, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania?  We’re waiting.  And in some cases, we’re dying.

The Massachusetts Legislature today recognized that transgender residents should be treated equally and protected under the law.  The Transgender Equal Rights Bill has languished for years, but today the Legislature sent a clear message of fairness and equality.

Joe Solomonese, Human Rights Campaign

The bill provides protections from discrimination in employment, housing, education and employment and also adds gender identity and expression to the Massachusetts hate crimes bill.

Dignity and proper respect

Your view: Transgender bill is about dignity, not child safety is a heart-warming letter to the editor of SouthCoast Today by Albert Hess of New Bedford.  I most whole-heartedly ask you to read it.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and talks like a duck where should the duck go to the bathroom?

The outrage and injustice here is the imposition of outdated sexual mores being impressed on our young children in the guise of “good “education. House 502 is not a “potty bill,” it is an effort to try to bring dignity and proper respect to everyone regardless of the sexual orientation that God has given them. We need to teach children to respect themselves and others. If there is inappropriate behavior, and Lord knows we have more than enough of that, then it must be dealt with on its own merit, not tied to the clothing and mannerisms of the perpetrator.

Where should the duck go to the bathroom?

Dignity and proper respect?  Someone really thinks we deserve that?

Transgender Equality News

Sometimes there are so many small stories swirling around that I feel the need to gather them together in one larger compendium.  In the present case, some of them are updates to previous stories and some of them just don’t seem to fit anywhere else.


Irish Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton will publish legislation in the next year to provide for recognition of the acquired gender of transgender people.  The long-awaited report on legal recognition of transsexual people in Ireland was presented to the Cabinet on Wednesday.  Irish transgender rights law…or rather, the lack of same…was found to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights some time ago.

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