Deceit and Betrayal at the International Foundation for Gender Education

From Dallas Denny:  http://dallasdenny.com/wordpress/?p=11

By Dallas Denny
August 16, 2011

Reposted with permission

Deceit and Betrayal at the International Foundation for Gender Education

Twenty years ago the International Foundation for Gender Education was seen by many in the fledgling transgender community as the bright shining star of the universe. I didn’t share that opinion– nor did JoAnn Roberts, who penned an article in Renaissance News titled “The International Foundation for Gender Education: None of the Above”— but many community leaders were enthusiastically supportive.

With IRS 501(c)(3) educational status, an annual budget of $325,000, a headquarters in suburban Boston, a bookstore, a perfect-bound four-color magazine, an annual conference, and an endowment worth some $100,000, IFGE was a formidable entity in a day when every other community organization had an income of $25,000 or less. IFGE was clearly doing a lot of things right.

IFGE’s goal was to educate and provide support to professionals, transgendered and transsexual people, and the general public. This was accomplished with a variety of well-funded educational activities.

First and perhaps most important, IFGE held an annual conference at which all transgendered and transsexual people were welcome, and which allowed budding activists and educators and helping professionals from all around the world to meet one another face-to-face, often for the first time. Encounters in the lobbies, restaurants, and hallways led to any number of friendships, new organizations, publishing and research endeavors, and social justice projects, and played a huge role in making the transgender community what it is today.

Second, IFGE’s house journal Transgender Tapestry provided space for discussion of all things trans. In its perfect-bound pages ideas were floated and terminology discussed, helping both individuals and various subgroups define and consolidate their identities. Resource lists at the back of the magazine steered individuals to support groups, conferences, and helping professionals.

Third, the Congress of Transgender Organizations served a role in setting priorities for the community and allowed trans organizations of every description to work together on mutual projects and address mutual concerns. (The Congress ran out of momentum in the mid 1990s and died a slow death.)

Fourth, IFGE had an actual base of operations: a walk-in center in Waltham, Massachusetts with paid staff and volunteers. It was open every day from noon until late in the evening. Community members could walk in and change their lives. Those not in Boston could phone the IFGE help line and get advice and referrals.

Fifth, IFGE had a bookstore which mailed materials all over the world and was hauled around to almost every community conference.

And lastly, IFGE’s Winslow Street Fund functioned as an endowment that was designed to grow in perpetuity and fund various transgender-related projects and endeavors.

The Winslow Street Fund was named in honor a street in Provincetown, where, in 1989, Joni Chrissman met Merissa Sherrill Lynn for the first time. Out of that meeting the Fund was born. It was fully operational by 1990.

IFGE actively recruited donations for the Winslow Fund, promising the money would never be used for internal operations of IFGE itself (I heard Executive Director Merissa Sherrill Lynn say this in public). The Winslow Street Fund soon grew to about $100,000 and throughout the 1990s and the first decade of this century awarded small sums to community organizations to help fund worthy projects. A Board of Trustees, appointed by IFGE, oversaw the fund’s growth and selected award recipients.

IFGE Today

In 2006, all of IFGE’s services were intact. Today, only one survives— the Winslow Street Fund—and it is, I believe, in grave peril.

IFGE’s annual conference is dead. This year’s conference was cancelled and there will apparently be no conference in 2012. According to a source within IFGE, the cancellation occurred because of heavy financial losses at the 2010 conference.

The esteemed Transgender Tapestry is no longer being published. The last issue appears to have been #115, which appeared in 2009 with a fraction of the usual content.

The bookstore is still listed on IFGE’s dormant-since-2009 web page, but the content is severely dated and it no shows up at only a few community conferences. My IFGE source told me the bookstore is now at back-of-the-van / broom closet status—in other words, for all practical purposes dead.

Most recently, and sadly, IFGE’s long-term walk-in center in Waltham, Mass has been closed, presumably in favor of new and smaller offices in Washington, D.C. Well, probably not offices—think a desk or two in another nonprofit’s space.

That leaves the Winslow Street Fund. I have great concern for its well-being. I fear it is being used or might soon be used to fund IFGE’s internal operations—something IFGE swore to the community it would never do. IFGE has broken this promise at least twice before and I fear it has broken it or is about to break it once again. And if it happens, unlike the previous two occasions, there will be no way to pay the money back, for there is no longer any substantive cash flow. Go HERE to see my press release.

How it Happened

The advent of transgender political organizations and in particular the National Center for Transgender Equality severely impacted IFGE’s budget—primarily by siphoning off high-dollar donors who had previous kept the organization riding high. IFGE’s management had concerns about this as early as 1999, when editing and layout for Transgender Tapestry were outsourced, doing away with two full-time in-house paid positions. The bookstore manager position was also eliminated.

Clearly a change in finances requires organizational restructuring, but this does not seem to have occurred in any coherent way in this century. Instead, the organization was hijacked. Change was forced upon the organization by a single individual, who acted with relentless and deliberate malice to dismantle and destroy IFGE and its services. I watched it happen.

Shortly after IFGE Acting Director Denise Leclair was made Executive Director in 2004 or so, she began to slowly and systematically dismantle the organization. Her initial target was Board Chair Hawk Stone. She slyly undermined the board’s confidence in him, putting pressures on him that led to his resignation in July 2005.

Leclair next got rid of the editor of Transgender Tapestry. That happened to have been me. She did so by overriding me, forcing publication of an article solely for political purposes, to appease the bruised ego of a contributor whose solicited article I had rejected because she had web-published it on the same day she had submitted it to the magazine. Leclair also made it clear I would not be allowed to publish an editorial warning the community about the then-missing collection of the Rikki Swin Institute. And so rather than have my name on the masthead of a magazine that had lost its integrity, I resigned.

Leclair next went after IFGE’s board, forcing through an amendment that removed long-serving members Kristine James, Yvonne Cook-Riley, Alison Laing, and Abby Saypen. They were replaced by a new and naive board with little experience with the organization or knowledge of its history and politics.

The next obstacle was Trans Events USA, a team consisting of Kristine James and Alison Laing, who had been running IFGE’s conference for more than a decade. Leclair fired them in 2008 and took responsibility for the conference.

Having rid IFGE of its Board Chair, editor, and conference planning team, and having expelled long-term supporters from the board of directors, Leclair was free to do as she pleased with the organization. Suddenly IFGE’s focus was on politics rather than education, and suddenly the focus was on Washington, D.C. Leclair relocated the conference and then the corporate offices (if there actually are any) to D.C.

There was only one obstacle to Leclair’s complete control of IFGE: the trustees of the Winslow Street Fund. In April 2011 Board Chair Bree Hartlage told the trustees via e-mail they were fired, retroactively—in fact, they had been dismissed but not informed of that dismissal one year and eight months earlier!

A Trust at Risk

Last October at Fantasia Fair, two Winslow Street Fund trustees came to me—separately—to tell me they were concerned about the fund. They cited a lack of coherency at the IFGE offices and told me they feared Leclair and Hartlage would drain the fund, killing it. They asked me to inform the community. I said I would look into it.

In April one of those trustees told me she had just been told of her retroactive dismissal. Yesterday—24 June, 2011—I learned from an IFGE source that the IFGE Board of Directors held a special board meeting in August of 2009 for the purposes of exerting control over the Winslow Street Fund by dismissing its directors.

There can be only one reason for this—IFGE had its eyes on the monies in the fund and wanted to remove the last obstacle to obtaining them. And so I am doing as requested by Winslow trustees and letting the community know what is about to happen—or perhaps has already happened.

With the Winslow Street Fund bereft of trustees, with a gutted, secretly repurposed organization, and with a compliant board of directors, the Winslow monies are within Leclair’s easy grasp. My fear is she will plunder the fund, if she hasn’t already, using the monies to pay her salary and IFGE’s expenses. If that happens, I’m morally certain the money will never be recovered, for IFGE’s financial status is beyond bleak.

So here it is in a nutshell: Through mismanagement, and by deceit and betrayal, Denise Leclair has single-handedly dismantled the transgender community’s largest educational resource, turning a once large organization with a conference, a magazine, and a walk-in center into a desk in Washington D.C. and a pathetic hope that she will be allowed to play politics with the big girls and boys.

Now, with an imploded budget and with nothing else to plunder, Leclair has turned her eye to the monies in the Winslow Street Fund.

In a press release, I have called upon the IFGE Board and especially Leclair and Hartlage to inform the community about the disposition of the monies in the Winslow Street Fund and to immediately separate the fund from IFGE, establishing it as an entity of its own, overseen by a board of experienced and trusted community leaders.

Will that happen?

Of course it won’t.

I’m afraid the monies are already gone.

Call to Action

I call upon the IFGE Board of Directors, and specifically upon Executive Director Denise Leclair and Board Chair Bree Hartlage to inform the transgender community of the state of the Winslow Street Fund, and specifically to answer these questions via a press release:

* What is the balance in the Winslow Street Fund?
* When was the last Winslow grant to another organization?
* Has IFGE borrowed against the fund in this century?
* If so, was the money paid back? Was interest collected?
* What safeguards are in place to protect the fund?

I moreover call upon the Board to take immediate and decisive steps to fiscally and administratively separate the Winslow Street Fund from IFGE, making certain the Fund has a board made up of trusted and honest community members who will safeguard the Fund’s monies in perpetuity.

If IFGE has withdrawn money from the Winslow Street Fund, I urge the Board to do whatever is necessary to return all funds.

I ask others in the community to contact IFGE and ask these same questions. And please, make sure your donations go some place where they will be honored.

Postscript

The monies in the Winslow Street Fund were solicited in mailings and at IFGE conferences, where envelopes were left on tables at the final banquet. Hundreds or thousands of community members—myself included—stuffed tens or twenties into those envelopes. Many people wrote checks—repeatedly—for hundreds of dollars. And a few folks, perhaps even someone who will read this, gave thousands of dollars. The clear promise was the fund would be used for the betterment of the community—and so any raid into the fund for IFGE’s private good is a betrayal of trust—of yours, of mine, of the community’s. It will be a long time before there is another Winslow Street Fund.

What’s even more tragic is Leclair has destroyed all sorts of valuable educational services: the conference, Transgender Tapestry, the walk-in center, the bookstore, and the website.

There has been, of course, in late years an explosion of web-based educational materials, but they don’t have the warmth, the humanity of a hug to a newcomer at the walk-in center in Waltham. For that’s what IFGE was best at— making frightened transsexual and transgendered people feel comfortable, assuaging their fears, letting them know they had finally come home.

I wrote this article not as a journalist, but as a community advocate—one who unfortunately waited too long before speaking up. And so I made no attempt to contact Leclair or Hartlage for their comments. I merely wanted to get the word out. Too late, too little, possibly, but here it is.

I expect a certain amount of vehemence, character assassination and denial in response to this article, but I’m tough. I can take it. And I can back up what I’ve said. It’s substantively true.

Dallas Denny

Perry: Evolution a ‘Theory That’s Out There’

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Perry: Evolution a ‘Theory That’s Out There’

Rick Perry: ‘Substantial Number’ Of Climate Scientists Have ‘Manipulated Data’ For Money

Rick Perry…  Just like George W. Bush except without the strong ethical code, the deep intelligence, the humor, and the real sense of compassion.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Rick Perry: ‘Substantial Number’ Of Climate Scientists Have ‘Manipulated Data’ For Money

The Biggest Little Hypocrite in Texas

From Truth Dig: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_biggest_little_hypocrite_in_texas_20110816/

By Robert Scheer
Aug 16, 2011

It is unfathomable that yet another Texas blowhard governor has emerged as a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination. The persistent appeal of the mythology of Texas as a model for the nation defies the lessons of logic and experience, and yet here we are with Rick Perry, a George W. Bush look-alike, as a prime contender to once again run our nation into the ground.

To begin with, Texas is not and never will be a model for the nation unless the other states discover similarly rich deposits of oil and natural gas that account for one-third of jobs and supply 40 percent of tax revenues within those states. If Texas energy receipts and jobs helped float Gov. Bush’s reputation, they have been nothing short of miraculous for Perry’s tenure. The price of oil rose from $25 a barrel when Lt. Gov. Perry replaced the newly elected President Bush to $147 in 2008 and has stayed at more than $80 a barrel since, to the dismay of anyone who has to buy gasoline.

In addition, thanks to breakthroughs in oil field technology that Perry had nothing to do with, there have been controversial new drilling techniques that have vastly expanded the exploitation of gas and oil reserves, producing many of the new jobs that the Texas governor claims. For a relatively ineffectual governor, in a state in which the part-time Legislature holds the power, to take credit for this job boom is as ludicrous as a Saudi prince bragging of his entrepreneurial skills as the source of royal wealth.

Unfortunately, the boom in the energy industry has not spread to those in the state stuck in less lucrative sectors of the economy. Texas remains tied with Mississippi for the largest number of workers earning wages equal to or less than the federal minimum wage. This is particularly true for the majority of nonwhite Texans, who account for a good portion of the state population increase that Perry brags about. It will be interesting to see how he handles the immigration issue in light of the fact that the manufacturing sector, particularly automobiles, is dependent on robust traffic of parts and workers across the border from Mexico.

It should be added that much of the non-energy job growth is in the public sector, which has been in part financed by the federal government that Perry lambastes. As the Austin American-Statesman newspaper points out: “… [A]lmost half of the state’s job growth the past two years was led by education, health care and government, the sectors of the economy that will now take a hit as federal stimulus money runs out and the state’s 8% cut in state spending translates into thousands of layoffs among state workers and teachers in the coming months.”

Continue reading at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_biggest_little_hypocrite_in_texas_20110816/

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on The Biggest Little Hypocrite in Texas

Pope’s visit to Spain sparks protests

Scott Brown slams Elizabeth Warren in fundraising plea

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/08/17/scott-brown-slams-elizabeth-warren-in-fundraising-plea/

By Kase Wickman
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) is shadowboxing his way through the early stages of his 2012 reelection campaign, fundraising against a candidate who isn’t even officially in the race.

Brown’s team Tuesday sent a fundraising message targeting consumer advocate and former Obama adviser Elizabeth Warren, who has not formally entered the race.

According to the fundraising plea posted to Brown’s campaign site, Massachusetts Democrats “are so obsessed with winning this seat back that Washington elitists are trying to push aside local Democrat candidates in favor of Professor Warren from Oklahoma.”

Warren has lived in the Bay State for more than two decades.

Kevin Franck, communications director for the Massachusetts Democratic Party, told Raw Story that he didn’t think Brown’s framing of Warren as an elitist, outsider “liberal professor” would ring true with voters.

“That might be the pitch for the Koch brothers, but it’s not going to play very well in Massachusetts,” he said.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/08/17/scott-brown-slams-elizabeth-warren-in-fundraising-plea/

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Scott Brown slams Elizabeth Warren in fundraising plea

Are Michele Bachmann’s Views About ‘Christian Submission’ Even More Extreme Than She’s Letting On?

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/152039/are_michele_bachmann%27s_views_about_%27christian_submission%27_even_more_extreme_than_she%27s_letting_on/

The people, churches and groups that shaped Bachmann’s thinking are far more anti-woman than most Americans fully comprehend.

By Frank Schaeffer
August 15, 2011

Michele Bachmann told a barefaced lie the other day. She was asked in the Republican candidates’ debate with the other Republican contenders, “As president, would you be submissive to your husband?”

Bachmann answered: “Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th. I’m in love with him. I’m so proud of him. And both he and I — what submission means to us, if that’s what your question is, it means respect. I respect my husband. He’s a wonderful, godly man, and a great father. And he respects me as his wife.”

She either lied, has changed her mind, or she says one thing to a national audiance and another to her hard-right evangelical followers.

Here’s what she said in answer to the same question in 2006: “The Lord says be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.”

As Jill Lawrence noted:

Back in October 2006, recounting her life journey to an audience at the Living Word Christian Center, Bachmann talked about “receiving Jesus” at 16, studying hard, meeting her future husband at college, and earning a law degree. “My husband said ‘Now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law.’ Tax law! I hate taxes—why should I go and do something like that?” she told the audience. “But the Lord says be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.” Bachmann said she never had taken a tax course, “never had a desire for it,” but “I was going to be faithful to what I felt God was calling me to do through my husband.” Later, when the opportunity to run for Congress arose, “my husband said, ‘You need to do this,’ and I wasn’t so sure.” She became sure two days later, after praying and fasting with her husband.

The real story here is that Bachmann understands just how extreme her part of the evangelical movement is. She also understands that a certain amount of godly lying will be needed to mask that. She understood that the question she was asked the other day was about a biblical teaching that is misogynistic to the core and advocates total submission of a wife to a husband. It is teaching she’s signed on to long ago.

The people, churches and groups that shaped Bachmann’s thinking are far more anti-woman than most Americans fully comprehend.

 There is a background to this.
Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Are Michele Bachmann’s Views About ‘Christian Submission’ Even More Extreme Than She’s Letting On?