Transphobia: The Hate Anyone can Exercise including Feminists like those on A Room of Our Own

Autumn Sandeen pointed out the following on Pam’s House Blend.

http://www.pamshouseblend.com/diary/14246/thanksgiving-week-thankfulness-for-pam

As a left wing anarcha-feminist I tend to not spend much time in cultural feminist land as I really do not like hanging out where I am considered down by birth.  Feminism, even Lesbian as in LGBT/T Feminism offers me enough space where my very humanity is not held up to abuse or the very legitimacy of my existence questioned.

I have barred certain people of the HBS political identity from posting here as they are abusive of people with transgenderism.  Racists, homophobes, religious ideologues and right wingers are not welcome here.  So if you are a follower of A Room of Our Own and think you will be able to turn this post into a forum for your bigotry…  Think again..

My take on things may be a bit different than the sisters who run Questioning Transphobia as our experiences are different and so is our language. But, even if I put things differently from them or for that matter from Julia Serano, I’m fairly certain that we are seeing the same bigotry standing in opposition to it.

The piece of verbal diarrhea I am referring to may be found at:

http://aroomofourown.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/no-such-thing-as-a-transsexual/

It is by Margaret Jamison.

I have been out for over 40 years and an activist longer than that.  I have watched the history of the movements from within those movements. I have seen their rise and fall, the internal wars that often destroyed them.

The loudest and most vicious forms of anti-transsexual bigotry have often been reflective of what I see as the worst tendencies within the various movements.  Julia Serano titled her book “Whipping Girl” and put forth the proposition that transphobia is misogyny directed towards a convenient scapegoat.

Within the early feminist movement there was another tendency.  Women who worked the hardest and were among the most dedicated as well as talented were seen as trying to rise above the other women.  Some of us who were in the feminist/lesbian movements in those early days did what people with transsexualism have always done.  We threw ourselves into that movement whole heartedly, working harder than anyone else.  This was because we were raised thinking ourselves to be inferior and never good enough therefore we felt we had to prove our worth by working harder than anyone else.

Over compensation for poor self image.  No matter how it gets directed.  In one sister it might mean thousands of dollars worth of plastic surgery, another constant schooling and the pursuit of the Ph.D.  Or being the best feminist one could possibly be.

There was a sister named Beth Elliott, in the Bay Area.  She was a member of Daughters of Bilitis.  She had the honor of being the first sister I know of who was publicly trashed first in “It Ain’t Me Babe” and later by Robin Morgan.

I didn’t understand it at first.  But over the years I learned how Cointelpro worked and sowed seeds of destruction within various progressive groups by attacking people who were dedicated hard workers.  Take down one and destroy her or him and you have not only destroyed an individual but any who share a common trait with the person destroyed.

Turn the attacking and defending of the individual into a factional split and the organization is destroyed.  It doesn’t matter if the individual was innocent of every charge, fictitious charges; lies told loudly enough in a practice called “bad jacketing” can tear an organization, indeed a movement apart.

I can’t say for sure that what happened to Beth was Cointelpro.  It doesn’t matter because even if it wasn’t, the result was the same.  One more element in the destruction of the first Lesbian Organization promoting lesbian liberation..

Oddly the charges leveled against Beth and outlined in her book Mirrors: Portrait of a Lesbian Transsexual became the script for every bit of filth that could be leveled at women of a transsexual history by self proclaimed radical feminists and lesbian feminists.

A few years later Sandy Stone, recording engineer for Olivia Records, a lesbian music collective was hit with similar if somewhat different charges setting off a back and forth war of words within the feminist and lesbian feminist press regarding the legitimacy of women of a transsexual history.

Then Janice Raymond dropped her bigoted polemic, The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male. Previous attacks had often been directed at those sisters who were closest to the socially acceptable feminine stereotypes or who were in touch with their sexiness and embraced their sexy female side leaving those of us who were good feminists in our jeans and movement t-shirts feeling safe.  Raymond changed all that.

Now those of us who were good feminists, working doing leaflet layout and production, petition signature collecting and all the grunt work of the feminist movement were suddenly as bad as our sisters who were enjoying being sex positive heterosexual women during an era far less uptight than the present.

Things I wish we knew or thought about then that we know now.  Raymond was a former Catholic nun and her mentor Mary Daly was originally a professor of theology who became involved in some pretty weird cult like magical thinking regarding theories of hidden matriarchal cultures.

The reactionary cultural feminism that had first stirred with Jane Alpert’s “Mother Right” and was embraced by Robin Morgan, who coincidentally led the lynch mob attack on Beth Elliott.  (Morgan’s side of it can be found in Going too Far).  Alpert laid out a form of binary gender essentialism that posited the same sort of black and white binary innateness one found in the traditional patriarchal bullshit that ordained the role of women as inferior to men.

It was seriously reactionary at a time when so much of feminism was based on the overlapping abilities and traits of men and women.

Long before GID and the million post-modern word games transsexual and transgender people play now people with transsexualism and transgenderism used that overlapping of traits to argue that maleness and femaleness were a continuum rather than a binary and that we were simply more predominately at the end not indicated by our at birth sex assignment.

But back to Daly and Raymond.  Their Catholicism is the source of their ideology not feminism.  I may blend anarchism and Marxist class consciousness with my feminism but they had to do an even bigger trick, that is to say they had to build their feminism on a foundation of misogyny.

Raymond’s position reflects that form of Christo-fascism that I first saw at 14 when the priest my mother sent me to for counseling basically told me that I would have to live my life in total denial of what I was or face an eternity in hell.  That I couldn’t even think or fantasize about something so intrinsic to my being that I would discard family and risk a life of social ostracism to be.  I was born with transsexualism.  That was something I can not change.

Yet both the priests and the Ramondites would have me commit suicide either physically or by repression by denying me the legitimacy of my being.  This is a denial of my humanity, a form of abuse so severe as to be unacceptable when directed at groups based on race or ethnicity or for that matter when directed at gays or lesbians.

It becomes far more egregious when a lesbian or gay man or for that matter someone claiming to be feminist starts attacking transsexual or transgender people.  It is almost as though those doing the attacking are unaware of the real basis for those attacks and how it can be traced back to a chapter in the Bible that is filled with widely ignored rules.

I am speaking of Deuteronomy 22: 5 (King James Bible)

“The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

Now most gay and lesbian people as well as most feminists have questioned the manner in which these ancient books of mythology have been used as tools of oppression.  One does not have to look very hard to see the Bible as the source of both homophobia and misogyny.

However, the label of abomination is particularly harsh and is followed if memory serves me correctly with the part about how our blood should be upon us suggesting that any manner of violence including murder is justified.

When one listens to the vile and often contradictory slander that is laid upon transsexual and transgender people by bigots like the woman at AROOO one has to ask exactly what TS/TG folks are supposed to do?

We are attacked if we manage to get an education and develop a career.  We are attacked if our educational opportunities in childhood were destroyed and we only managed to do sex work.

We are attacked for getting breast implants even though they were not developed specifically for us and the majority of women getting them were assigned female at birth.  The excuse for not attacking natal females is that they get them due to having a flawed body image since male dominated media regularly shows ample breasted women as sexy and glamorous.

Ahh, but that is different. Actually it is not.  TS/TG people are immersed in the same cultural soup as normborns.

TS/TG people both T to F and T to M can be either straight or gay/lesbian.  Some are bisexual yet it often seems that the only form of sex that is acceptable to the bigots is asexuality and even that is probably reason for condemnation.  Even self pleasuring is suspect in spite of there being feminist run businesses merchandising sex toys for women including Smitten Kitten and Good Vibrations.

If we get SRS we are mutilated men (or women as the case may be).  If not we are men in dresses of which there is no T to M equivalent.

One of the nastiest rejoinders is the one that directs us to remain as we were assigned no matter how miserable we are and to fight sexism and the gender binary from our originally assigned sex.  Now I opposed the draft back in the 1960s and as an anarcha-feminist I find the very idea that someone else should be required to fight a war for someone else’s cause questionable at best.

At worst it is like demanding that gay and lesbian people have reparative therapy and live as straight working to end the tyranny of the patriarchal oppression of women in marriage by changing it in a way so that gays and lesbians will no longer have to be gay or lesbian to find relationships where they are equally respected partners.  Oh and BTW erase homosexuality.

We have progressed far beyond that, besides Audre Lorde gave us the tagline about how the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

Anarchists do not demand others sacrifice their lives and pursuit of happiness to fight ill defined quixotic battles.  Existentially that form of behavior is ethically questionable.  It is more characteristic of hate groups than liberation movements.

I saw the purity purges on the left. In the 1970s I actually had someone tell me that in spite of her misogyny Phyllis Schlafly was her sister because of birth and in spite of my being a hard working feminist because of my birth I could never be.  That for the same reasons the homophobic Anita Bryant was her sister but no matter how hard I worked at The Lesbian Tide, I was not.

It has always escaped me how people who demand autonomy for themselves when it comes to intimate matters on issues like abortion access and birth control can not see the contradiction in denying TS/TG folks the same self determination and autonomy regarding decisions they might make regarding their own bodies.

Perhaps it is time for those resurrecting the anti-transsexual/anti-transgender rhetoric to engage in what we in Weather called criticism/self-criticism because their bigoted politics suck and are in contradiction with both feminism and gay/lesbian liberation.

Perhaps the people exercising this anti-TS/TG bigotry would be happier among the right wing racist and homophobic hate groups that share the same sorts of bigoted language that show class hatred towards entire classes of people based on fictitious stereotype, even when some in that group may actually exhibit that stereotype.

Smash Transphobia, Smash Bigotry

No gods, No masters

Friday Night Fun and Culture

Kaki King “Playing with Pink Noise”

School pupils to learn about transphobic bullying

From Pink News UK

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/11/25/school-pupils-to-learn-about-transphobic-bullying/

By Jessica Geen • November 25, 2009 – 9:49

Children in UK schools will be taught about transphobic bullying and gender equality, it was announced yesterday.

As part of the revised personal, social and health education (PSHE) plans, the lessons will be taught from age five, although ministers stressed this would be age-appropriate.

Schools minister Vernon Coaker said: “The appropriateness of what you do with someone who is five years old is totally different in terms of content and how you will be taught to someone who is 15 or 16.

“You can teach [younger pupils] about not bullying people and how names can hurt people.”

The lessons, which also include teaching about gay relationships and HIV, will begin in 2011.

Professor Stephen Whittle, president of trans group Press For Change, told Metro: “We welcome wholeheartedly this move. When children are stifled through bullying they are more likely to feel gender reassignment is their only option later in life.”

The plans, launched by the Home Office and Department for Children, Schools and Families, will also combat violence in teenage relationships. An NSPCC study found that a quarter of girls had been subjected to violence by boyfriends and one third reported being forced into sexual activity.

Teachers will be given new guidelines on tackling sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying.

All schools, including faith schools, will be required to teach the new PSHE curriculum, although faith schools will be permitted to teach lessons in line with their beliefs.

Parents will retain the right to withdraw their children from the classes but only up to age 15, rather than the current age of 19.

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Doctor Promotes Medical View of Transgenderism

[There is a confusing of transgenderism and transsexualism that tends to point out the need to inclusively refer to both conditions ratherr than rely on the political identity of transgender superseding all the differences between people who are transgender and those who are transsexual.]

Harvard Crimson (Harvard University), MA, USA

Clinic founder decries labeling transgenderism as a psychological issue

By Alice E. Underwood, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Norman P. Spack, a pediatric endocrinologist who works with transgendered youth, promoted the treatment of transgenderism as a medical condition, as opposed to a psychiatric disorder, during a talk hosted by the Harvard Transgender Task Force yesterday evening.

During the event, which was held to kick off Transgender Awareness Week, Spack said that looking at transgenderism from a medical perspective will change the public perception that it is a psychological problem.

Spack, the senior associate in the endocrine division at Boston Children’s Hospital, co-founded the Gender Management Services Program, a clinic that provides treatments to delay the onset of puberty in children questioning their gender.

“People ask me, how do people know at age eight or nine?” he said of children’s self-awareness of gender. “And I look at them and say, well how old were you when you knew?”

Spack said that stalling the start of puberty delays the development of physical characteristics that do not correspond to a person’s psychological self-perception.

According to Lily J. Durwood ’10, who works as one of Spack’s research assistants, the clinic is currently working with approximately 100 patients between the ages of 6 and 21.

“Dr. Spack’s help has made such a huge difference in the patients’ lives,” Durwood said. About 35 percent of the patients served by the clinic have physically harmed themselves or contemplated suicide prior to seeking medical attention, Spack said.

“Post-medication, the patients give testimonies of better interactions in school, a better environment at home, and functioning a whole lot better,” said Stanley R. Vance, a student at Harvard Medical School who also works in Spack’s clinic. “Dr. Spack is a trailblazer in an area of medicine that hasn’t gotten adequate attention.”

Transgenderism is currently classified as the psychiatric condition “Gender Identity Disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

However, Spack said that he and other members of the medical community recognize transgenderism as a medical condition and are pushing to have it viewed the same way by psychiatrists, insurance companies, and the general public.

“These people aren’t crazy,” Spack said. “It’s a medical condition.”

Members of TTF said they were pleased to hear a different angle on transgender issues.

“I think this event is a great opportunity to see trans issues intersect with the medical sciences,” said TTF member Jia Hui Lee ’12. “Trans issues have always been looked at from a social and legal perspective but never medical, and we’re excited to explore this intersection with the event tonight.”

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2009/11/24/medical-spack-clinic-transgenderism/

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FBI report: Sharp increase in anti-gay hate crimes

From Raw Story:  http://rawstory.com/2009/11/fbi-report-sharp-increase-antigay-racial-hate-crimes/

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, November 23rd, 2009 — 12:31 pm

 

WASHINGTON — The number of US hate crime victims rose slightly last year to nearly 9,700 from 9,500 in 2007, with most people targeted because of their skin color, the FBI said Monday. However, as Think Progress notes, “Hate crimes based on sexual orientation had the largest increase — nearly 11 percent.” More than half of hate crimes committed in the United States were racially motivated, and three-quarters of the victims were black, the FBI’s annual report on hate crimes said. Of the 6,927 known perpetrators of all hate crimes — which include attacks driven by not only racial bias but also by the victims’ religious affiliation, sexual orientation, ethnic origins or disability — 61 percent were white. Blacks perpetrated attacks in around 20 percent of cases. The report was compiled after the issue of race was thrust into the center of US politics with African American Barack Obama’s successful bid to be elected the first black president of the United States.

Around 17 percent of hate crime victims were attacked because of their sexual orientation, the overwhelming majority, 96 percent, because they were gay or lesbian.

Nearly 20 percent were attacked for their religious affiliation, with Jews making up around two-thirds of the victims of those attacks.

Muslims were the targets of less than eight percent of religious hate crimes, putting them in third place behind Jews and followers of unspecified “other religions” attacked in 13 percent of religion-fueled hate crimes.

In 2007, Muslims represented about eight percent of victims attacked because of their religion, and in 2006 they made up 12 percent of victims of religion-motivated hate crimes.

Members of the large US Hispanic community were victims of 64 percent, or nearly two-thirds, of the 1,148 hate crimes driven by a bias against a person’s ethnicity or national origin.

Most hate crimes targeting individuals were intimidation or simple assault, but seven murders and 11 rapes were counted among the hate crime statistics.

The FBI compiled the report using data submitted by 13,690 law enforcement agencies in most of the 50 states. More than 80 percent of the participating agencies reported no hate crimes in their jurisdictions in 2008.

Barbara Ehrenreich: Our Maniacal Optimism Is Ruining the World

From Alternet and In These Times

http://www.alternet.org/story/144114/barbara_ehrenreich%3A_our_maniacal_optimism_is_ruining_the_world
By Anis Shivani, In These Times
Posted on November 23, 2009, Printed on November 23, 2009

In her new book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America (Metropolitan/Holt, October 2009), Barbara Ehrenreich traces the origins of contemporary optimism from nineteenth-century healers to twentieth-century pushers of consumerism. She explores how that culture of optimism prevents us from holding to account both corporate heads and elected officials.

Manufactured optimism has become a method to make the poor feel guilty for their poverty, the ill for their lack of health and the victims of corporate layoffs for their inability to find worthwhile jobs. Megachurches preach the “gospel of prosperity,” exhorting poor people to visualize financial success. Corporations have abandoned rational decision-making in favor of charismatic leadership.

This mania for looking on the bright side has given us the present financial collapse; optimistic business leaders — assisted by rosy-eyed policymakers — made very bad decisions.

In These Times recently spoke with her about our penchant for foolish optimism.

Anis Shivani: Is promoting optimism a mechanism of social control to keep the system in balance?

Barbara Ehrenreich: If you want to have a compliant populace, what could be better than to say that everyone has to think positively and accept that anything that goes wrong in their lives is their own fault because they haven’t had a positive enough attitude? However, I don’t think that there is a central committee that sits there saying, “This is what we want to get people to believe.”

It took hold in the United States because in the ’80s and ’90s it became a business. You could write a book like Who Moved My Cheese?, which is a classic about accepting layoffs with a positive attitude. And then you could count on employers to buy them up and distribute them free to employees.

AS: So this picks up more in the early ’80s and even more so in the ’90s when globalization really took off?

BE: I was looking at the age of layoffs, which begins in the ’80s and accelerates. How do you manage a workforce when there is no job security? When there is no reward for doing a good job? When you might be laid off and it might not have anything to do with performance? As that began to happen, companies began to hire motivational speakers to come in and speak to their people.

AS: Couldn’t this positive thinking be what corporate culture wants everyone to believe, but at the top, people are still totally rational?

BE: That is what I was assuming when I started this research. I thought, “It’s got to be rational at the top. Someone has to keep an eye on the bottom line.” Historically, the science of management was that in a rational enterprise, we have spreadsheets, we have decision-trees and we base decisions on careful analysis.

But then all that was swept aside for a new notion of what management is about. The word they use is “leadership.” The CEO and the top people are not there so much to analyze and plan but to inspire people. They claimed to have this uncanny ability to sense opportunities. It was a shock, to find the extent to which corporate culture has been infiltrated not only by positive thinking, but by mysticism. The idea is that now things are moving so fast in this era of globalization, that there’s no time to think anymore. So you increasingly find CEOs gathering in sweat lodges or drumming circles or going on “vision quests” to get in touch with their inner-Genghis Khan or whatever they were looking for.

AS: The same things are happening in foreign policy. We’ve abandoned a sense of realism. You had this with Bush and also with Obama, although he is more realistic. Is there a connection between optimism and the growth of empire?

BE: In the ’80s, Reagan promoted the idea that America is special and that Americans were God’s chosen people, destined to prosper, much to the envy of everybody else in the world. Similarly, Bush thought of himself as the optimist-in-chief, as the cheerleader — which had been his job once in college. This is very similar to how CEOs are coming to think of themselves: as people whose job is to inspire others to work harder for less pay and no job security.

AS: Would you say that Obama is our cheerleader-in-chief?

BE: I haven’t sorted it out. He talks a lot about hope. And as a citizen I’d rather not hear about “hope,” I’d rather hear about “plans.” Yet he does strike me as a rational person, who thinks through all possibilities and alternatives.

AS: You write about the science of positive thinking having taken root at Ivy League universities. It’s amazing to me that a course in happiness at Harvard would draw almost 900 students.

BE: That was in 2006. And these courses have spread all over the country — courses in positive psychology where you spend time writing letters of gratitude to people in your family, letters of forgiveness (whether or not you send them doesn’t matter), getting in touch with your happy feelings, and I don’t think that’s what higher education should be about. People go to universities to learn critical thinking, and positive thinking is antithetical to critical thinking.

AS: You have written a lot about Calvinism. Is it correct to say you have a deep problem with Calvinism?

BE: In exploring why America became the birthplace of positive thinking, I come up with an explanation that is quite sympathetic to the early positive thinkers. Positive thinking initially represented a revolt against the dominant Calvinist stream of Protestantism in America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. That kind of Calvinism was driving people crazy, literally. To think that you were a sinner, that your entire existence for all eternity would be one of torment in hell. It caused depression. It caused physical ailments. It was a nightmare. So you got some people in the early- and mid- 19th century that said, “Wait a minute, things aren’t so bad.” Ralph Waldo Emerson would probably be the best known example.

AS: Couldn’t you go back farther to the Enlightenment — the ultimate optimistic philosophy? Our founding fathers were very informed by that. Is that a kind of optimism that you endorse? And ultimately what’s different between the pursuit of happiness as a manifestation of optimism and the current optimism that you’re talking about?

BE: When the founding fathers undertook the Revolutionary War, they didn’t say, “We are going to win because we are visualizing victory.” They knew perfectly well that they could lose and be hanged as traitors. It took existential courage to say: “We are going to undertake this struggle without knowing whether we will win, but we’re just going to damn well die trying.”

AS: So, where does this shift come from?

BE: The shift had a lot to do with down-sizing, when corporations grabbed onto it as a means of soothing their disgruntled workforce. The alternative is realism. Let’s think about what’s actually going on: let’s get all the data we can; see what our options are; and figure out how to solve this problem. It sounds so trite and simple-minded, but that’s not how the thinking has been.

AS: Is the progressive movement infected by bright-sidedness?

BE: Progressives are not immune to this. I remember Mike Harrington [a founder of the Democratic Socialists of America] as a public speaker and he always, always ended on an upbeat note. No matter what was going on, he would end by saying there was a huge opening for the left. Today, I don’t know if we can do it. But we have no choice but to try.

AS: You mean we need to have optimism, but grounded in reality?

BE: I don’t call it optimism. I call it determination. One of the things I’ve devoted so much time to has had to do with poverty, class and inequality. Those things are not going to go away in my lifetime, but it won’t be for my lack of trying. And that’s a different kind of spirit than optimism.

AS: Some will say your approach is rational, incremental and just not exciting. How would you respond to that?

BE: I don’t think mine is an arid, overly intellectual approach. Consider what we’re up against on the economic and environmental front. Huge numbers of people are not getting by. There are the ecological threats to the human species. Let’s do something about it. What could be more irresponsible than to say, “If we just think it’s going to be alright, it’s going to be alright.”

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Exemptions allowing churches to refuse to employ gays to be scrapped following pressure from EU

Proof that Europe is much more respectful of freedom and equality than the US and its kowtowing to Christo-fascism.  Time to eliminate “faith based initiative funding” at tax payer expense that discriminates against LGBT/T people.  It is no different than the government funding the KKK.  While we are at it de-license groups like the Catholic adoption services, who have actually acted like extortionists recently by threatening to end services in Washington DC if DC recognizes and legalizes equal marriage rights.

By Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk • November 22, 2009 – 16:37

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/11/22/exemptions-allowing-churches-to-refuse-to-employ-gays-to-be-scraped-following-pressure-from-eu/

The European Commission is putting pressure on the British government to drop the exemptions from equality legislation by religious organisations who currently have the right to refuse to employ LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) staff.

The opt out allows churches and other organisations to refuse to employ gay people in order “to avoid conflicting with the strongly held religious convictions of a significant number of the religion’s followers”. Although there have been successful cases at employment tribunals questioning the implementation and interpretation of the opt-out

The Observer reports that the Commission wrote to the British government to warn that it has not fully implemented EU directives that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexuality.

The National Secular Society had complained to the commision saying that the current exemptions “illegal discrimination against homosexuals”.

The Commission reportedly agreed with the complaint saying “exceptions to the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation for religious employers are broader than that permitted by the directive”.

EU equal opportunities commissioner, Vladimir Špidla, told the Observer: “We call on the UK government to make the necessary changes to its anti-discrimination legislation as soon as possible so as to fully comply with the EU rules.”

The ruling means the government will be be forced to place new clauses into the Equality Bill which is currently making its way through parliament. But it will still allow churches to refuse to employ a gay man as priest for example.

“This ruling is a significant victory for gay equality and a serious setback for religious employers who have been granted exemptions from anti-discrimination law,” gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told the Observer.

“It is a big embarrassment for the British government, which has consistently sought to appease religious homophobes by granting them opt-outs from key equality laws. The European Commission has ruled these opt-outs are excessive.”

Christian charity Care told the Observer: “If evangelical churches cannot be sure that they can employ practising evangelicals with respect to sexual ethics, how will they be able to continue?”

How Do You Measure Time?

Birthdays and anniversaries are easy as are rebirth days for those of us who had those.

There are dates that stand out, events like Stonewall and Nixon resigns, the last helicopter out of Saigon.

Intimate moments when monumental life changing decisions are made.  The moment you first realize.

Yesterday or today depending on where you are 46 years ago John Kennedy was murdered in Dallas.  A moment that if you were alive and old enough to be aware…  You never forgot what you were doing and where you were when you heard.

And then three short years later another moment important for those of us growing up transsexual. $6 years ago JFK died and 43 years ago Johns Hopkins University Medical Center announced they had started doing sex reassignment surgery.

I was in college and already in the process of deliberately failing out.  The article in the New York Times was the existential aha moment that made the next steps inevitable.

In the months that followed Christine Jorgensen’s autobiography came out along with Dr Benjamin’s book and SRS became a real possibility and not a fantasy lived by only a few in far away places.

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Senate bill includes the Botox tax – Live Pulse: Senate bill includes the Botox tax

November 18, 2009

The bill levies a 5 percent tax on elective cosmetic surgery. The provision raises $5 billion and was needed to make the numbers work, according to a Democratic Senate aide.

The Finance Committee considered the tax but dismissed it, in part because it was a public relations battle that senators were not willing to wage.

Page 2045

SEC. 9017. EXCISE TAX ON ELECTIVE COSMETIC MEDICAL PROCEDURES.

(a) IN GENERAL.-Subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended by this Act, is amended by adding at the end the following new chapter:

”CHAPTER 49-ELECTIVE COSMETIC MEDICAL PROCEDURES ”Sec. 5000B. Imposition of tax on elective cosmetic medical procedures.

”SEC. 5000B. IMPOSITION OF TAX ON ELECTIVE COSMETIC MEDICAL PROCEDURES.
”(a) IN GENERAL.-There is hereby imposed on any cosmetic surgery and medical procedure a tax equal to 5 percent of the amount paid for such procedure (determined without regard to this section), whether paid by insurance or otherwise.
”(b) COSMETIC SURGERY AND MEDICAL PROCEDURE.-For purposes of this section, the term ‘cosmetic surgery and medical procedure’ means any cosmetic surgery (as defined in section 213(d)(9)(B)) or other similar procedure which-
”(1) is performed by a licensed medical professional, and
”(2) is not necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease.
”(c) PAYMENT OF TAX.-
”(1) IN GENERAL.-The tax imposed by this section shall be paid by the individual on whom the procedure is performed.
”(2) COLLECTION.-Every person receiving a payment for procedures on which a tax is imposed under subsection (a) shall collect the amount of the tax from the individual on whom the procedure is performed and remit such tax quarterly to the Secretary at such time and in such manner as provided by the Secretary.”(3) SECONDARY LIABILITY.-Where any tax imposed by subsection (a) is not paid at the time payments for cosmetic surgery and medical procedures are made, then to the extent that such tax is not collected, such tax shall be paid by the person who performs the procedure.”.

(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT.-The table of chapters for subtitle D of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended by this Act, is amended by inserting after the item relating to chapter 48 the following new item:
”CHAPTER 49-ELECTIVE COSMETIC MEDICAL PROCEDURES”.

(c) EFFECTIVE DATE.-The amendments made by this section shall apply to procedures performed on or after January 1, 2010.

This is potentially discriminatory towards people with either transsexualism or transgenderism, who are already often times excluded from having the procedures they need excluded from Health Insurance coverage, whether explicitly and directly or implicitly as a pre-existing condition.

Procedures other than SRS that bring us more into a place where we can assimilate and avoid some of the employment discrimination are often deemed cosmetic.  FFS and implants certainly would fall within this category.

But for all women there seems to be a really sexist attitude to everything surrounding Health Care Reform.  From Stupak-Pitt Amendments banning abortion coverage to the exclusion of coverage of contraception.  Then this weeks suggestion that there be less screening for breast cancer.

What gives?  I know that the old men of the Catholoc Church, who are the real men in dresses as well as the patriarchs of all the other superstition based patriarch systems of oppression are misogynistic to the core but of late they have become extremely blatent about it.

Perhaps taxing them to pay for these things would be a good idea.  I know they would object that their tax dollar shouldn’t go to things they morally object to but hey I’d rather not pay for non-working over priced war toys.

At the same time no one has suggested eliminating hard on pill or prostate cancer screening.

Religious Right is Demanding Special Rights

From James Nemmo on The Queer Collective

They should be able to recognize special rights as that’s what they say we GLBTs are wanting.  I want, and I think other GLBTs want, just plain civil equality, no fancy dress, no special treatment, just the same privileges straight people get with no questions asked.
But the bible-humpers want a special right to pick and choose which laws passed by elected legislatures they will follow, even as they already enjoy the special tax-free, IRS-granted right to avoid helping pay for the society they enjoy.
However, with the recent proclamation called “Manhattan Declaration” that fans the flames of slow-burning bigots and gives notice to state and federal governments to expect civil disobedience from the church militant, the hairy beasts of bigotry have surely trapped themselves in another hair-splitting, how-many-angels-dance-on-a-pin conundrum.
Here’s the link to one of the clearest explanations I’ve come across that spells out the hypocrisy of the holy harangers as they take tax money as government contractors for social services, yet want to maintain their ivory tower aloofness from the same civil laws we heathens must observe.
EXCERPT:  This would be the same Catholic church that recently announced it would stop feeding the homeless in Washington D.C. if it had to obey D.C. laws forbidding discrimination against gay citizens.   Let me say a couple things about this: first, if you take tax money you have to abide by the strings attached to it.  There isn’t a government contractor who doesn’t understand how this relationship works.  I know, because I have worked in that environment myself.  This isn’t religious persecution, it’s called accountability.  And the government isn’t accountable to the pulpit, it’s accountable to the pews.  It’s their money gentlemen, not yours.  Not until it goes into a collection plate anyway.
…if you run a business or operate a public service, you have to abide by this nation’s civil rights laws.  This isn’t a new argument…we’ve been having it for ages.  Where is the line between the bigot’s freedom to be a bigot and the nation’s promise of liberty and justice to all?
….you are not being asked to “bless” anything.  Just do the work or provide the services you contracted with the government to do with its money

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Focus on the Family and the Orwellian New Speak Nature of “Family Values”

“When Fascism Comes to America, it will be Wrapped in the American Flag and Carrying a Cross.”

SInclair Lewis, Author, “It Can’t Happen Here.”

Nothing, but nothing astounds me about the lying Christo-Fascist scumbags that have destroyed America.

These power mad uber reich wingers have abused language in ways post-modernist followers of Derrida  would find inconceivable.

George Orwell, who fought against Fascism in Spain wrote a book most of you have read, “1984″.  1984 was during the Reagan Regime, a period that saw the rise of Fascism in America, which had toyed with it since the days prior to WW II.

After WW II the “War Department” became the Department of Defense, an early exercise in New Speak.  The last Republican President, who represented real American values and not those of crypto-fascism was Eisenhower.  Before leaving office he  warned of the dangers of of the rise of the Military Industrial Complex, an early alliance of corporations and state.

Since the defeat of Goldwater in 1964 we have seen the methodical rise to power of the right wing.  They are well funded, often tax exempt and passing themselves off as American, wrapping themselves in a flag and carrying a cross they have learned not to burn.

The have hegemonically colonized the language of the people who protest against their bigotry.

While LGBT/T people are in reality denied their constitutionally guaranteed equal rights as citizens by the actions of these Christo-Jihadists our protestations are stolen from us.

With a straight face (no pun intended)  The Family Research Council issued the following posting (first posted by Alvin McEwen On Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters)

November 19, 2009 – Thursday

A grave threat to your traditional values and religious freedom is resurfacing.

Deceptively, it’s called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Truthfully, it should be called the “Discrimination Against Christians in the Workplace Act.”

I know that sounds far-fetched, but this is what ENDA will do . . .

ENDA will redefine your faith as illegal workplace bigotry . . . make the government a full partner in the homosexual rights movement . . . and force churches, small businesses run by Christians, and faith-based charities to hire nonbelievers or face federal investigation.

This law would punish anyone in the workplace who dares oppose homosexual behavior, cross-dressing and other unhealthy behaviors. The liberals intentionally want to define “discrimination” very vaguely so that their allies in the courts and federal and state agencies will have broad latitude to silence traditional moral viewpoints about sexuality.

Pro-homosexual members of Congress–with the administration’s complete support–would like to pass ENDA before it becomes an issue in the 2010 elections.

And that’s why we must act immediately.

Please send a financial gift to Family Research Council right now so we can sound the alarm about the disastrous impact this law will have on Christians.

Here is what ENDA’s champions in Congress and the administration are saying:
Barney Frank, D-Mass., says passing ENDA is his “number-one” objective.
A top administration official says ENDA is the “keystone” to overturning the military’s ban on openly homosexual behavior and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The appointed commissioner of the agency that would enforce ENDA promises she will use it to punish Christian “intolerance” in the workplace:
“I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.”

Family Research Council helped preserve Christians’ freedom of religion from ENDA when it looked like the liberal-controlled Congress was going to pass it in 2008.

And we can do it again . . . but we need your immediate help. Will you please follow this link to our secure website and make a donation now?

We must act NOW . . . because ENDA’s champions are already hard at work.

Thank you for standing with FRC in this crucial fight for your faith, family, and freedom. And thank you for praying for FRC and for our country.


When I was a little transkid, bullies would torment me calling me names and beating me up.  When I protested the meanness and asked to be left alone they taunted me with the grossest perversion of American ideals imaginable.  “Make us, it’s a free country and you cant stop us.”

One has to ask, “What form of religious ideal, what part of being an American requires the denying of equal rights to your fellow citizens simply because they are different?”  Not the America I grew up believing in.  Not the America where I fought for the equality of African Americans, Women’s Rights, Native American Rights, Farm Workers Rights.

No the ideals of every single Christo-Jihadist organization with “Family” seem more likely to be the family ideals of Adolf and Eva.

Today the Christ0Fascists issued the following:

The Manhattan Declaration, an absolutely chilling declaration of war upon America and especially upon the rights of women as well as LGBT/T people.

From Queerty I discovered that Public Eye had discovered a link between Rick Warren and the Christian Government of Uganda’s intituting a death penalty for gays and lesbian>  APDF of the full report may be found at:  http://www.publiceye.org/ark/africa-report/

Lastly also from Queerty:  The Ridiculous Catholic Manifesto Pledging to Ignore Gay Marriage + Abortion Laws

I don’t know about the lives of most of my readers and there are things many of you do not know about me such as my being Polish-American on my father’s side of the family.  His parent’s came to this country in the early part of the 20th Century.  We lost relatives when the Nazis invaded Poland.

My heroes have always fought fascism.

A clear and present danger to all progressive people is astir, it is especially dangerous for LGBT/T people.  There are right wing forces advocating a new civil war.  If there is and they win we will face the same fate as other scapegoats in other times.

Never Again!

Friday Night Fun and Culture

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For all the People who were Murdered this Year for being one form of Trans or Other On this Day of Remembrance

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Class Structure in Transworld vs the Reality Based World

Sara Seton asked me:

So what do you think of someone’s proposed caste system amongst TS?   Here is how I think the grass roots sees this “ladder” as ranked, from top-to-bottom:

“Post-Op TS, living as female
Pre-Op TS, living as female
Non-Op TS, living as female
CD, living as female
Pre-Op TS, living in both genders
Non-Op TS, living in both genders
CD, living in both genders
CD, living as male, but appearing publicly
as female on occasion
CD, male exclusively, but at home “en-femme”
among family and/or friends
CD, only “dressed” when alone
AND THEN, ME: Pre-Op TS, on HRT- living as male, never dresses
as female, and may never will. It’s not my issue!
There is much trouble ahead for me. I will undoubtedly be an object
of derision and scorn at that meeting. I can understand why, too.
They will think me a pretender or a coward. THEY fight the battle in
the trenches, I choose the path of least resistance, where the outside world is concerned. So, I will be the pariah…the laughingstock… the object of negative attention, in spite of my wishes and best efforts, even among my own sisters! This really hurts me!”  (from a winner at Laura’s suicide site.)

It seems to me that this is a very male competition based form of class structure that is at once both misogynistic and very TV fantasy based.

I think that the idea that the poor closet transvestite or even worse closet hormone taker is some how on the bottom rung is akin to the white guy who blames affirmative action for giving all those unqualified women/people of color the position he deserves.

Excuse me while I go hunt for the world’s smallest violin.

I’m one of those post-ops, the flawless kind who had my operation what seems like a hundred years ago and I sure don’t feel like I’m atop some sort of freaking pedestal.  Plus I’m seriously feminist enough to see the pedestal as being as much a form of misogyny as any other form of de-humanizing objectification.

Being at the top of the TV fantasy class structure and a pre-paid ride card gets me on the subway and little else.  You see if one is flawless, even pretty and passes well enough to assimilate in to the world of women then one becomes part of the class “woman”.

The patriarchal systems structure of oppression means that no matter how far up or down the socio-economic scale she is she will in the vast majority of cases always be consider as less than a man of the same class and talents.

Always First Lady and never the President because the idea of there being a First Gentleman seems on the face of it to be absurd.  Such is the reality of sexism, misogyny and gender/sex roles.

This means that one’s place in the real world is determined by education and the amount of class privilege one brings to the table.  If you are a lumpen poor trannie sex worker and you have sex reassignment surgery you become a lumpen poor sex working female.  If you are a high status person before and you are in a protected field then your status has a good chance of translating into your continuing that status.

Your status can also be dependent on your being heterosexual and the status of the man you marry.

I would also disagree with the placement of the CD at the bottom in any world outside the mind of the TV fetishizing other people’s lives.  The closet TV, even one who takes hormones continues to possess and be able to exercise male privilege.  Unless he is so obvious as to be viewed as an effeminate gay man this means he has a “male” job and is a man in what still remains a man’s world.

This level of male privilege means he generally speaking does not need to be as good at his job as a woman would be in the same position and that he will probably earn more over a life time than a woman would and that he will enjoy greater autonomy than a woman.

That said it is possible to lose both male privilege and what “Questioning Transphobia” would call “cis-sexual privilege”.  That happens when one comes out publicly and starts to transition.  It is particularly true if one’s appearance makes them so obvious as to subject them to public mockery.  If it makes one the actual “man in the dress”, rather than the often cited mythical one who supposedly haunts rest room scaring nice right wing Christian ladies, then there is good chance homelessness and unemployment will ensue.

Hardly the step up envisioned by the closet CD creator of this mythical hierarchy and in fact a step downward.

Even for the person who presents well and offers an acceptable image as a member of the sex they are transitioning to in their profession and class faces having to do some serious explaining while executing some pretty fancy footwork to avoid the down button on the class and status elevator.  But let us say for the sake of argument the newly transitioned person manages to stay in the same profession and maintain the general respect of peers in their field. As the person moves further and further into transition and eventually into assimilation one’s status ceases to be related to trans and becomes more related to the status of other members of the sex one has become.  Generally women have a lower status than men.

Often coming out involves a complete loss of status and instead of being a respected if closeted heterosexual CD one finds oneself on the streets.  If one is a pretty transkid, the hot envied by cross dressers, babe, who is also a throwaway kid with no resources…  TVs envy this kid but not what she has to do to survive.  They envy the image, put her on a pedestal but how many envy the turning tricks to survive part?

Listen to how the respectable CDs talk about the “trannie whores” and you will find the real answer.

One of the most problematic ideas that came out of Dr. Benjamin’s book was the idea of a Kinsey sort of scale with closet heterosexual CDs on the 0-1 portion of the scale and those who get SRS on the other.  The leap of presumption in the formulation of that theory based on the miniscule number of patients Dr B had actually seen is astounding.

That leap pre-supposes that all those trans prefixed words are descriptors of a continuum of the same phenomena when there is an equal likelihood that there are a number of different phenomena that only bear a superficial similarity most closely tied to the Biblical injunction against cross dressing.

At any rate being transsexual is not like entering either a sports event or an academic competition if for no other reason than the objective being ordinariness rather than the perceived extra-ordinariness projected by the above cited cross dressers projected hierarchy.

The lack of reality based world experience can be seen in the total neglect of the misogyny factor that even the prettiest and most capable of assimilation post-SRS women face simply by being ordinary or even exceptionally brilliant and talented women in a world where women are still by and large the second sex.

At any rate the idea of the hierarchal structure projected by the above cited CD seems far more Transworld based than reality based.

November 20, Activists to hold Transgender Day of Remembrance vigils, marches around the country

The Day of Remembrance has become a day to put aside the differences that have consumed so much energy over the last ten years and to acknowledge that in the United States a person described with a trans prefixed word is murdered on the order of once a week or more.

Often in the same vicious manner that caused the outrage over Matthew Sheppard’s murder.

Often times the victims of these murders have the crimes against them treated less seriously not only because they are describe by a trans word but also because discrimination against them pushes them into the sex industry.  Or a history of abuse as a child has the same effect.

Hate crimes laws are only a start.  We have to offer an alternative to high risk sex work.  Counseling and assistance to lower the risks to the groups who are the most vunerable.  Especially true since the victims are not evenly distributed among all people, of all the socio-economic groups described by transword but mainly occur among the poorest, the most naive, the most desperate.

We need to think beyond remembering and move on to preventing.

From The Edge-Boston

by Renee Baker
EDGE Contributor
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009
Gwendolyn Smith founded the TDOR in San Francisco in Nov. 1999 as a way to “memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.”

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Ethan St. Pierre misses his aunt Deborah Forte everyday, but the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance remains a stark reminder of how Forte was brutally murdered in 1995 because of her gender identity and expression.

“I was called in to identify the body,” St. Pierre recalled to EDGE. “She was unrecognizable.”

November 20 marks the TDOR’s 11th anniversary. And St. Pierre remains passionate about honoring those murdered individuals who identified as transgender.

A man whom Forte met at a bar brought her back to her apartment and stabbed her numerous times. The suspect turned himself into local authorities two weeks after he killed Forte. A judge sentenced him to 15 years in jail, but he has yet to show remorse–and he is up for parole.

“Every bone in her neck was broken,” St. Pierre further recalled.

Gwendolyn Smith founded the TDOR in San Francisco in Nov. 1999 as a way to “memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.” The vigils have grown in scope to over 200 internationally, and are held in November specifically to coincide with the anniversary of Rita Hester’s murder in her Boston apartment in Nov. 1998.

The exact statistics are not known, but the TDOR database that St. Pierre updates indicates there have been 120 trans murders since last year’s commemorations. St. Pierre added there is approximately one trans murder a month in the United States.

More than 300 domestic trans murders have been recorded since 1970 with 11 recorded so far this year.

California leads in total trans homicides at 57, followed by 36 in New York. Texas and Florida follow with 20 anti-trans murders in each state.

Saint Pierre said he believes the actual numbers of deaths are much higher due to under reporting or misreporting. He added he feels many reports do not include the victim’s gender identity or expression.

“Often times,” he says, “it can be risky to report the victim as transgender because the queer family can be ostracized.”

Saint Pierre further described anti-trans homicides as not just simple murders, but those with a horrid element meant “to obliterate us and make us go away.” He said most victims are tortured or burned before their assailant or assailants kill them. Some are dismembered and decapitated. And others are shot in the face or genitals.

“One woman,” he says, “was branded on her breasts with a hot iron while the aggressor told her that she was not real.”

Saint Pierre added he feels this hatred and rage against trans individuals stems from homophobia. He said some individuals find themselves attracted to trans or gender variant people, can’t accept it, and then want to erase the man or woman to whom they are drawn from existence.

“It is really hard to see the pictures of these beautiful people, so smiling and young,” St. Pierre said as he noted those murder victims to which the TDOR Web site pays tribute. “These are people that should not be forgotten.”

Day of Remembrance vigils will take place on Nov. 20-21 around the country. Below are a list of commemorations that will take place in cities EDGE specifically covers.

The Metropolitan Community Church of Las Vegas (1140 Almond Tree Lane) will hold a vigil on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. Log onto www.mcclv.com for furthe information.

Two vigils will take place on Nov. 20-21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chapel at MCC Sunshine Cathedral on 1480 SW Ninth St. in Fort Lauderdale. Log onto www.SunshineCathedral.org for further details.

Chicago’s Center on Halsted will hold a vigil on Nov. 21 at 5:30 p.m.

The city of West Hollywood, Calif., will hold a memorial service and march to Matthew Shepard Square on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. Log onto www.WeHo.org for further information.

San Francisco’s Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (290 Dolores St) will hold a vigil on Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. Log onto www.ShaarZahav.org for more information.

A vigil will take place at Baltimore City Hall on Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Saint Luke’s and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church (5 St. Luke’s Road) in Allston, Mass., will host a vigil on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. Log onto www.ForMinistry.com/usmaecusaslase for more information.

Also log onto www.TransgenderDOR.org for further details about additional vigils and other commemorations.

Dr. Renee Baker is a massage therapist, transgender consultant and board member of Youth First Texas. She may be reached on her website at www.renee-baker.com

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We Are… Everywhere

While the conservative pseudo-scientists of Psychiatry insist that the prevalence of Transsexualism is incredibly rare those of us who are sisters and brother with a medical history of Sex Reassignment Surgery know different.

Studies by Lynn Conway and the late Femke Olyslager place our prevalence at some where between one in five hundred and one in a thousand. Not people with transgenderism but post-SRS folks.

The thing is that mosT of are not Kim Petras, or Kate Bornstein or for that matter Amanda Lapore. It may come as a surprise to the conservatives who like to label us as sick and portray us all as sex workers, man of us are in a wide range of careers that do not involve subjecting ourselves to the brutality of the sex indistry.

This is not to deny that there are many of us who are so far down on the socio-economic scale that we do sex work and measure status according to the form of sex work. We often come from background of severe child abuse including physical, emotional and sexual. We are often throwaway children and grow up to be substance abusers.

We are diverse population. My Facebook friends include professors and lawyers, writers and musicians both brothers and sisters.

I have been talking a lot about ENDA and Critical Mass favoring trans-inclusion for both people with transsexualism and people with transgenderism.

Today there were articles about post-SRS women in both the New York Times and in the Dallas Morning News. One a concert pianist the other a police officer. A picture of diversity one from the northeast and one from Texas. Both major metropolitan centers known for their diversity with many being surprised by the fact that Dallas has non-discrimination laws that protect transsexual and transgender people.

From the Dallas Morning News

17 years on the job, Officer Joe became Officer Debbie

08:52 AM CST on Sunday, November 15, 2009

By SHERRY JACOBSON / The Dallas Morning News
sjacobson@dallasnews.com

After 17 years with the Dallas Police Department, Officer Joseph Grabowski showed up at work one day sporting makeup, a feminine hairstyle and a new first name: Deborah.

Deborah Grabowski says she had a happy childhood growing up as Joseph Grabowski. In 2005, though, she decided she’d kept her feelings of being female secret long enough and started the process to change her gender.

The 44-year-old officer was scared and relieved that the secret was finally out.

“I have always felt like a woman and, suddenly, everybody knew I was going to have the surgery to make it real,” she said.

Because the city of Dallas does not offer health insurance coverage for sex-change operations, Grabowski paid for the costly procedure herself.

In recent years, a few cities – and a growing number of private employers – have decided to cover the cost of these surgeries, and the city of Fort Worth is considering whether to join them.

Continue Reading at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/tv/stories/DN-sexchanges_15met.ART.State.Edition2.4bb8770.html

From the New York Times

Anything He Can Do, She Can Do

IN September 1998, David Buechner, then 39, a prominent classical pianist, came out as a transgender woman, explaining that from then on, she would live and perform as Sara Davis Buechner. The pianist had been accustomed to rave reviews (at 24, David, in his New York City concert debut, was called “an extraordinary young artist” by a New York Times critic). But the debut as Sara, reported in a Times magazine article, was not so well received, even by loved ones.

Elizabeth and Anthony Buechner, the parents, as well as Matthew, the older brother, all expressed their opposition. In a recent interview, Matthew Buechner, a professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Kansas, said he had counseled David to remain a man publicly and cross-dress in private. “A lot of people live that kind of dichotomy,” Matthew said. “I saw the switch as something that would destroy a career. Classical audiences are very conservative.”

But Sara Buechner was determined to be. She said that from when she first took lessons at age 3, she knew she’d be a pianist, and not long after, realized she was meant to be a girl. (“On the playground, boys yelled ‘David’s a girl’ and I’d think, ‘You got that right.’ ”) She believed that bouts of heavy drinking and depression during her years as David stemmed from not being true to herself.

In the next years, Ms. Buechner largely disappeared from public view, though not by choice. David had done 50 concerts a year — performing with philharmonic orchestras in New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland and San Francisco — but as Sara, she couldn’t get bookings. “Apart from local gigs, from 1998 to 2003, I did three to five concerts a year,” she said. David taught as an adjunct professor at Manhattan School of Music and New York University, but as Sara, seeking a full-time professorship, “I applied 35 places and wouldn’t even get a response. Behind my back, I’d hear, ‘Is it safe to leave him in a room with undergrads?’ ”

She left Manhattan, where she got the wrong sort of attention (“In line at the bank, I hear, ‘You’re the guy living on the sixth floor having a sex change’ ”), and moved to the Bronx, where she was only Sara. She took a job teaching the piano to children at the Amadeus Conservatory in Chappaqua, N.Y. “A nice lady said, ‘Why teach here?’ I lied. I said, ‘I want to teach kids.’ I needed work.” She earned a third of what David had made 10 years earlier.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/15/fashion/15genb.html?_r=1&ref=style

When I came out over 40 years ago I could count the number of books either by or about people with transsexualism.  Now I cold easily fill a couple of IKEA 72″ Billy bookcases were I to even half try to keep up.

Yet for all our diversity we are mostly an invisible minority, although in the world of the internet and data banks probably far less invisible than many sisters who claim to be stealth think they are.

Yet many of us question why we shouldn’t treat having been born with transsexualism as just that, a fact of life neither a source of pride nor of shame.

I’ve come to realize I like some of my sister and some of my brothers while disliking others and it rarely has much of anything to do with their having been born either transsexual or transgender and a great deal more do do with them as people.

And yeah I am glad when people have the courage to tell their stories, especially when their live have more to them than just what they were born.

 

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What is a Committee Markup? It’s Next For ENDA.

From TransEquality Blog, DC, USA

Friday, November 13, 2009

As we have noted, ENDA will finally see committee action in the House of Representative this next Tuesday, November 18. This action is called a markup. So what is that?

A markup is a session in which a Congressional committee does its work. It is called a markup because, basically, the committee takes a proposed piece of legislation and marks it up, thus amending it. (Marking up used to mean that they actually wrote the amendments on it—they don’t do that anymore.) Members of the particular Committee make statements, consider and vote on amendments and then refer the bill to the full House for debate and a final vote.

I’ll walk you through what that means, using ENDA and the House Education and Labor Committee as examples. Here is what to expect.

Next Tuesday at 10 AM in Room 2175 in the Rayburn House Office Building, The Ed & Labor Committee will mark up ENDA (HR3017). To watch a live webcast of the markup, go here <http://edworkforce.house.gov/>. I doubt it will be shown on C-SPAN <http://www.cspan.org/>, but we do not know.

Chairman George Miller (D-CA), who is a very strong LGBT supporter from the Northern East Bayin California, will chair the meeting. He will be joined by a shifting group of between 10 and 40 other members of Congress who sit on the Ed and Labor Committee. A list of Committee members is available here<http://edworkforce.house.gov/about/members/>.
I say “shifting” because, these days, members come and go during markups and hearings and meetings and probably lunches. Because they have Blackberrys, they can move between meetings, coming to markup when they must or can, but leaving for other business. Many of them will be there most of the time, but others will just fly in to vote and leave.

There will also be quite a few staffers who sit or stand behind the members. There will also be tables off to the side for staffers and sometimes a table for media.

The committee has 30 Democrats and 19 Republicans. It is actually a pretty good committee for equality legislation. Chairman Miller and most of the committee are very supportive of ENDA. In fact three Republicans on the committee (Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Michael Castle (R-DE) and Todd Platts(R-PA)) are co-sponsors of ENDA, and all but three Democrats are
co-sponsors, except for Reps. Jason Altmire (D-PA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Dina Titus (D-NV). Jared Polis (D-CO) is the only openly LGBT member of the committee, but there are many other really strong supporters including fourteen members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus<http://lgbt.tammybaldwin.house.gov/membership.shtml>.
There is one Independent on the Committee, Delegate Gregorio Sablan from the Mariana Islands. He is a co-sponsor and supporter of ENDA and caucuses with the Democrats.

Here is an interesting sidenote: there are two delegates (representing non-states) on the Ed & Labor Committee. In addition to Mr. Sablan (I-MP), the Puerto Rican Delegate, Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR), sits on the Committee and is also a co-sponsor of ENDA. Though they Delegates from non-states do not have a vote in the full House, they are treated as pretty much full members of committees for speaking and voting in committee. Mr. Pierluisi is technically called, not a Delegate, but the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico. The rest of them are Delegates, though.

Another interesting sidenote is that five of the six delegates from non-states are ENDA co-sponsors. Only the Delegate from Guam, Madeleine Bordallo (R-GU), is not (yet?). But we have DC, American Samoa, U.S Virgin Islands, Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico. These Delegates do not get to vote on the final passage of ENDA in the full House, but Sablan and Pieriluisi do
get to vote in the Ed and Labor Committee next Wednesday. To see a full list of 189 ENDA co-sponsors, go here<http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d111:1:./temp/%7EbdwaSP:@@@P%7C/bss/111search.html%7C>
.

Once Mr. Miller convenes the markup, he will make an opening statement and then allow an opening statement from the ranking member (most senior Republican on the committee) John Kline (R-MN). Kline will talk about how ENDA is not necessary and it is vague and it violates religious organizations’ rights to discriminate against LGBT people. If you have read
ENDA, you will wonder if he has. He will likely use the phrase “chilling effect.” Other members will make short opening statements. In committee, statements, voting and even seating is all done by seniority and party.

All the Democrats will sit on one side of the room and the Republicans on the other. These days, though, there are so many more Democrats than Republicans (30-19) that some of the more junior Democrats need to sit on the Republican side.

The committee will consider amendments and there are likely to be quite a few. Some are likely to be useful and will make the bill better, either substantively or politically; others are likely to be bad ideas that are either offered in good faith or as a way to obstruct the process. For instance, opponents of ENDA are likely to propose quite a few amendments
that they say will make ENDA better and then admit that they won’t vote for ENDA even if the changes are made. There will also be typical opposition amendments designed only to make a political statement, such as unborn, undocumented transgender immigrant children are allowed to possess automatic weapons while they are drilling for oil in national parks as long as they don’t send text messages while voting.

Each amendment that is called is briefly debated and voted on. When a vote is called on an amendment, at first there will be a lot of absent members, but they will quickly show up, say how they vote and then leave for other business. I stay away from doors during votes. Sometimes they vote on amendments one by one, other times they debate in batches and then vote in batches. Each time there will be a voice vote (“All in favor say aye . . . ” ), and then each time equality opponents will insist on a rollcall vote in order to waste time and to say in a hypothetical later campaign that the ENDA supporter voted 17 trillion times to support LGBT people—except they won’t call us LGBT people.

It is possible that the committee will consider every offered amendment; it is also possible that opponents will offer so many obstructionist and redundant amendments that eventually the Committee will decide to stop hearing amendments.

I should note here that the markup in the House Judiciary Committee Hate Crime bill earlier this year was spread over two days because there were so many amendments. I’m not saying that will or even can happen with ENDA, but don’t be surprised.

Finally, a vote will be held on whether to send the bill with amendments to the full House of Representatives for a vote. We are very optimistic that there will be sufficient votes in the committee. Generally, on a bill like ENDA, committee chairs will not schedule markup until they are pretty certain the bill can at least pass out of committee.

NCTE staff will be attending the hearing and will be Twittering as @transequality <http://twitter.com/TransEquality> and as @marakeisling<http://twitter.com/marakeisling>.
If you do not twitter, you can follow our twitter posts on our main webpage at www.transequality.org <http://transequality.org/>.

I hope this was informative and interesting. If you really want to learn more, here <http://www.rules.house.gov/archives/98-188.pdf>is a Congressional Research Service document that describes the markup process in gripping detail.

Please keep up the contacts with your members of Congress. It’s ENDA time.

Posted by Mara Keisling at 4:09 PM

http://nctequality.blogspot.com/2009/11/what-is-committee-markup-its-next-for.html

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H1N1: 40% of private-sector workers in US lack sick days

Ah the joys of living in a Corporate Fascist State where the rich elite have seized the government and enslaved the people.
Remember when the Personnel Department became Human Resources back during the Reagan years?
That was when you went from being a human being to being a resource.  Those of us who were hip enough and cynical enough to observe described ourselves as “wet ware”.
Did you know that in France, where they still have an industrial base people get a months vacation and paid sick leaves along with national health insurance?
November 5, 10:38 AMPittsburgh Grassroots ExaminerMike Boda

A man (sic) too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.
-Spanish proverb

Most people can make the connections between globalized consumer capitalism and its role in shuttling various organisms around the planet, but with US workers increasingly forced into competition with their counterparts in developing countries for the sake of the shareholders, does such a requisite lowering of wages and loss of workplace benefits, such as access to health care and paid sick leave create the perfect conditions for the spread of infectious diseases, such as H1N1, better known as swine flu? In the US, 40% of private-sector workers, most of us in low-wage service (tourism) industry jobs that require contact with the public (or their food, drink, cas, and cards) have no sick days. Not that being granted paid sick time as a part of a benefits package is any guarantee that you will not be disciplined for using them, as I learned the hard way, ironically, while employed by a local health insurer. Although unpaid sick leave is mandated by federal law, calling off, for any reason is frowned upon by the service industry and small businesses, as State right-to-work and “at-will” employment laws give employers the last word.

As is the case with many social problems, being forced to work while sick has a disproportionate effect on women, who make up 22 million of the 57 million US workers who are unable to take a sick day. This translates into sick children being sent to child care providers and schools, as their parents or parent are unable to stay home to care for them, due to the loss of a day’s wages or the job (or jobs).

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you stay home until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, leaving the house only to get medical care. Schools and workplaces are encouraging this policy to avoid infecting other students and employees.

Worldwide, run-of-the-mill seasonal flu is responsible for between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths annualy, with some 36,000 of them in the US. In an increasingly part-time, temporary culture of employment where office equpment is more valued than office workers, the continued emphasis on profits over peoples’ lives continues to puts us all at risk.

Friday Night Fun and Culture

Billy Bragg singing There is Power in a Union

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Will Progressive Groups Help Feminists Stop Stupak?

From The Women’s Media Center

http://womensmediacenter.com/ex/111309.html

By Peggy Simpson

After the shocking setback in the House for abortion rights, women’s rights groups turned their attention to the Senate, which could begin debate on health care reform next week.

November 13, 2009

Whether the Senate blocks a House-passed amendment that would vastly expand federal bans on abortion depends partly on whether the women’s groups can persuade their progressive allies to stand up with them in opposition.

The jury’s out on that right now. But much organizing is underway against the amendment by Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa), which was added to the House health care reform bill in a shocking move last Saturday.

Many progressive and left-of-center groups had focused their efforts on passing health care reform. They celebrated its narrow victory in the House, by a 220-215 margin, and gave short shrift to the Stupak amendment, representing the most significant expansion of the Hyde amendment’s ban on federal funding for abortion since 1976.

That didn’t sit well with some.

Amie Newman, managing editor of RH Reality Check, headlined her article: “Dear Progressive Allies in Health Care Reform: Where Were You on the Stupak Amendment?” She wrote that she got elated emails from MoveOn.org, her state Democratic Party, Americans for Democratic Action and SEIU about House action on health care. But “none of you mention the heinous hit women’s access to abortion care took when this House bill was passed.” The groups ignored the fight ahead for pro-choice legislators. “Not one of your emails touches on the ways in which abortion access is critical to a broader progressive agenda. …How can it be that somehow abortion access has been largely ignored by other progressive organizations working for health care reform?”

This is indeed a watershed moment, a wakeup call, for Democratic women.

Representative Diane DeGette (D-Co) gets credit for buying time for reproductive rights groups to overcome their shock, rally their own troops and start “educating” the progressive groups about the weight of abortion rights within the overall health care issue. By Sunday, fewer than 24 hours after the House vote, DeGette announced she had commitments from 41 House members to vote against any final health care bill that contained the Stupak amendment. That sobered political leaders, including in the White House, into realizing this was no simple “disagreement.”

The media took notice and editorials and critical cartoons began appearing. Joel Pett, a cartoonist from the Lexington Herald Leader, portrayed an angry Town Hall-type of protestor, waving his anti-abortion placard at an Uncle Sam figure, saying “I don’t need government making my health care decisions. … I need you making HERS,” pointing to a woman going into a clinic.”

Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards convened a Tuesday meeting with leaders of 80 progressive groups and summoned grass roots reproductive rights leaders to Washington for a day of lobbying November 18. By Thursday, MoveOn.org introduced a fundraising email by talking about the radical anti-abortion amendment attached to the House health care reform bill.

President Obama, meanwhile, had used a network interview to express his dismay. He said the bill without the Stupak amendment preserved the principle of Hyde that “federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.” He said he opposed moves to restrict “women’s insurance choices” in the new health care insurance exchange.

Months ago, this issue was addressed in both the House and Senate reform bills with a compromise shaped by Representative Lois Capps (D-CA), a nurse who had crafted many of the women’s health initiatives in the reform packages. The Capps compromise (which became the model for a similar provision in the Senate Finance Committee plan) would allow private insurers who participate in the health insurance exchange to include abortion coverage in their health care plans—as a majority of private plans now do, including, it turns out, the Cigna plan for the Republican National Committee. Capps would segregate federal funds from private funds in the health care exchange, including in plans for moderate to low-income people getting subsidies to buffer the costs of insurance. The portion of the premium paid privately by the insured person would pay for the abortion coverage.

With the floor vote about to be taken, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pressed for a far more Draconian expansion of Hyde. With two dozen anti-abortion House Democrats, they forced a House vote on the Stupak amendment that for the first time would apply the Hyde amendment to the private sector. It would prohibit private insurers in the health care exchange from offering abortion coverage for the millions of people expected to get federal “affordability” subsidies to buy insurance plans. The amendment passed, with the votes of 64 Democrats and a near-unanimous array of Republicans.

Mainstream political commentators said the same thing would happen in the Senate—and the reproductive rights groups would just have to take their lumps.

The fury of pro-choice women began to have an impact within several days, however. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who personally opposes abortion, said he thought the language already in the Senate Finance Committee bill would suffice to wall off any federal financing of abortion. That was said also to be the view of another anti-abortion Democratic senator, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who had voted in committee against a Stupak-type provision a month earlier. A moderate Arkansas Democrat facing a tough reelection fight next year, Senator Blanche Lincoln, said the Senate Finance Committee had gone to great lengths to respect the Hyde amendment and “didn’t add to it or take away from it in any way.” That should be enough, she said.

An estimated 30 million people are expected to buy insurance in the new exchange, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Office—about nine million of them in plans bought by small businesses. Millions of others buying in would be individuals who have not been able to get coverage on their own in today’s marketplace. Many, but not all, could get federal subsidies to lower the insurance costs.

Meanwhile, the role of the Catholic Church and its own wealth of federal funds came under scrutiny. The bishops are experts in separating public and private dollars—as is called for by the Capps amendment in health care reform—because that’s what they do with the federal money going to Catholic Charities (which totaled $2.8 billion in 2008).

“The bishops never question their own ability to lawfully manage funds from separate sources to ensure that tax dollars don’t finance religious practices,” say Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, and Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. ”Yet they reject the idea that others could do the same. This is the very definition of hypocrisy.”

Eyal Press in The Nation said if Stupak and others were serious about assuring taxpayers they won’t be subsidizing abortion in any way, “why haven’t they drawn up an amendment abolishing tax breaks for employer-sponsored health insurance?”

In another op-ed, former NARAL president Kate Michaelman and Frances Kissling, former Catholics for Choice president, couldn’t resist saying “We told you so,” about the Democratic Party’s recruitment of anti-abortion Democrats. “When it comes to abortion, [Democrats] seem to think all positions are of equal value so long as the party maintains a majority. But the party will eventually reap what it has sown.”

In her own blog, Kissing said she sympathizes with the dilemma faced by her friends in House leadership. “These votes will trouble them for years to come.” But she added that “the Catholic in me says the next step is restitution. All is never lost. That restitution is their unswerving commitment and tireless work to overturn the Hyde Amendment.”

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