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

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


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