Category: GLBT

Mar 21

Out of Arkansas

I’ve shared before that I was teaching at a university in Arkansas when I transitioned.  The University of Central Arkansas is located in Conway, about 35 miles north of Little Rock on I-40.  

I can’t say it was a good place to transition…but looking back, I wonder if there was anyplace that would have been good to transition in 1992.

Anyway, we left there in 2000 and moved to New Jersey.That meant I went from a tenured faculty member at UCA to teaching as an adjunct in mathematics at Montclair State University and as an adjunct in Computer Information Systems at Bloomfield College.  Fortunately I was offered a tenure-track position at Bloomfield at the end of the first year, which I accepted…even though I had no background in computer programming.

But I taught myself the languages I needed to be able to teach and gained tenure in CIS in 2006.  I moved back to teaching mathematics three years ago.

Anyway…enough about me.  There are three news stories out of Arkansas I would like to share.

Oct 29

Reid: Senate to Consider ENDA



Yesterday Harry Reid announced that the Senate will vote on the Employment NonDiscrimination Act (ENDA), described as a bill to expand the workplace rights, before Congress breaks for Thanksgiving.

Reid said the Senate will consider a version of the bill which would “work against discrimination on gender identity.”  That is, the version will be trans-inclusive.  Currently 29 states have no laws protecting workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation, while 33 states have no employment protections based on gender identity.

Mar 29

Unlike heaven, West Virginia

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

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

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

–Stephen Skinner

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

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

–Skinner

Mar 24

Health Alert:: Meningitis Outbreak in NYC Among Gay Men

 photo 0c241d24-e917-4bad-ae36-d0af60a76f71_zps6fb99f85.jpg A health alert has been issued by the New York City Health Department warning of an outbreak of deadly new strain of bacterial meningitis among gay men. They are recommending all gay men, regardless of HIV status get a vaccination.

Health Department Issues New Vaccination Recommendations for Men at Greatest Risk for Contracting Meningitis

Four new cases of meningitis among men who have sex with men have been reported in 2013. Three of the last five cases have been fatal.

March 6, 2013 – The Health Department issued new recommendations today for vaccinating against invasive meningococcal disease – commonly known as meningitis – after an increase in cases. Vaccinations are now advised for men, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men met through a website, digital application (“App”), or at a bar or party.

Four new cases of meningitis among men who have sex with men have been reported since the beginning of January, bringing the total to 17 cases since 2012. There have been 22 reported cases – including seven fatal cases – since 2010.

“Meningitis symptoms usually come on quickly, and the disease can be fatal if not treated right away,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Vaccination is the best defense. I urge all men who meet these criteria – regardless of whether they identify as gay – to get vaccinated now and protect themselves from this disease before it is too late.” [..]

Vaccination prevents, but does not treat, current infection. Common symptoms of meningitis are: high fever, headache, stiff neck, and rash that develop rapidly upon onset. Symptoms may occur two to 10 days after exposure, but usually within five days. Meningitis can be fatal if not treated promptly. People who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

People should first ask their health care providers if they have the vaccine. For those who cannot obtain the vaccine from their health care providers, Health Department clinics can administer the vaccine. Locations are listed at the Health Department’s Site Locator.

The recent meningitis cases have affected men throughout the five boroughs. Elected officials throughout the City are encouraging people to get vaccinated.

This strain of bacterial meningitis is very different. The symptoms of this variant go from a headache and fever to a rash and death within hours of onset. So fast that many of its victims never make to a doctor or a hospital. It has killed one third of all its victims. Four new cases of meningitis among men who have sex with men have been reported in 2013. Three of the last five cases have been fatal.

The meningitis vaccine is available at many health clinics, hospitals and private doctors’ offices, and is effective against the new strain. To find out where you can be vaccinated in NYC call 311.

Mar 15

Sad Tidings

Recently I’ve managed to find some stories with better news among the usual fare of crap that many transpeople face.  

I knew it couldn’t keep going like that.

So tonight we have hard news out of California and Maryland.

The toll?  One dead, two injured, and a state’s transgender population worth of others left endangered.

On the bright side today is payday…and unlike many other transpeople, I actually have one.

Mar 09

Nevada returns to add gender identity to hate crimes law

Nevada’s Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that adds attacks on transgender persons to a list of hate crimes and stiffening the penalty for offenders.

 photo Patricia_Spearman_zpsd75b6a04.jpgSB139 was sponsored by Sen. Patricia Spearman (D-Las Vegas).  Spearman is a North Las Vegas pastor and is the only openly gay member of the legislature.  She spent 29 years in the US Army, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.  She told the committee of being the victim of a hate crime when she was 21 and was attacked by a truckload of young white men accosted her, a young black woman out jogging, tossing racial slurs and glass at her.

[T]he only thing that saved my life was my ability to belly crawl in a ditch at least seven blocks to get to home.

Feb 11

The Word – It Gets Worse

Adapted from Rant of the Week at The Stars Hollow Gazette

Coming Out Benefits & Gay Rights

Psychosomatic Medicine prints a study on gay men’s stress levels, and conservatives have been saying gays should have equal rights since the beginning of this sentence.

The Word – It Gets Worse

Pro-DOMA lawyer Paul Clement thinks the struggle for gay rights has just been too successful, so it therefore must end in failure.

Feb 09

A History Lesson on a Cold Evening

The Bristol Post picked up a story last Tuesday that should have been told long ago…long enough ago that the story qualifies as LGBT history.  And that’s likely why the article was written:  it’s LGBT History Month in the UK.

I have to admit that I’m not as familiar with the story myself as I should have been, so I had to spend a few days educating myself…and then a day or two deciding how to deal with the slippages of reality I encountered in so doing.

The title of the Post article was Op by unknown doctor was a world first.  And that is true, but I’m not so sure that the Post really understands the history in its totality.  The title of the February 16, 2013 talk, Michael Dillon:  The Man Who Invented Transsexuals by Cheryl Morgan, which is is being presented at Studio 1, M-Shed, Princess Wharf and sponsored by OutStories Bristol stretches the truth terribly.

So what’s this all about?

Jan 11

The Hagel Haggle

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Chuck HagelThe controversy over President Barack Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense are, as Republicans say, he is anti-military, anti-Israel and soft on Iran. The gay Log Cabin Republicans, and a few others from the left, object because of his stand against the 1998 appointment of James Hormel as Ambassador to Luxembourg, who is openly gay. The problem on the left is he’s another Republican. Most of these objections won’t prevent Sen. Hagel from being confirmed.

At The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald discusses the concerns of the GLBT community and the objections of the left in his article:

When it comes to LGBT equality, 1998 is a different universe. Virtually no prominent Democrats (let alone Republicans) supported marriage equality back then, or even equal rights for LGBT citizens. In fact, Hagel’s comment came only two years after the overwhelming majority of Democratic Senators voted in favor of the truly odious and discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act – including Joe Biden, Patty Murray, Pat Leahy and Paul Wellstone – which was then signed into law by Bill Clinton. That law not only defined marriage as between a man and a woman, but barred the federal government from issuing any spousal benefits – immigration, tax, death benefits – to same-sex couples. If you’re going to judge politicians by how they felt about LGBT issues 15 years ago, be prepared to scorn almost every national Democratic Party hero you have as a bigot. [..]

So yes: like virtually every prominent politician in both parties, Chuck Hagel had primitive and ugly views on gay issues back in 1998. But shouldn’t the question be: does he still hold these views or, like huge numbers of Americans, have his viewed evolved since then? Hagel has apologized for what he said, an apology which Hormel accepted, graciously noting: “I can’t remember a time when a potential presidential nominee apologized for anything . . . .Since 1998, fourteen years have passed, and public attitudes have shifted–perhaps Senator Hagel has progressed with the times, too.” Moreover, Hagel last week also vowed that he is “fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.” [..]

Then there’s the issue of Hagel’s party affiliation. The perception that Republicans are more trustworthy than Democrats on military issues – and that Democratic presidents thus had to rely on Republicans to run the Pentagon – was indeed both pervasive and baseless. But that, too, has changed: the outgoing Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, is as loyal and partisan a Democrat as it gets, and nobody objected to his selection.

But much more importantly: when it comes to issues such as war, militarism, defense spending and Middle East policy, isn’t substance much more significant than whether someone has an “R” or “D” after their name? As Obama himself proves – and as Biden and Clinton before him proved – the fact that someone has a “D” after their name is hardly a guarantor that they will oppose policies of aggression and militarism. Indeed, as Clemons said Friday night on MSNBC, most Democrats in the Pentagon are so afraid of being cast as “soft on defense” that they hug policies of militarism far more eagerly and unquestioningly than Chuck Hagel ever would. Is partisan identity so all-consuming that it completely trumps substance, so that a hawkish Democrat is preferable to a war-skeptic Republican?

Just as a reminder, although Sen. Hagel objected to the authorization to invade Iraq in 2002, he still voted for it. So have the feral children of the right turned on him? It would seem that Sen. Hagel did the unthinkable, he told he truth about the real reason for the invasion, oil. He then committed a second “cardinal sin” when he voted for withdrawal.

Then according to the neocon’s he is soft on Iran and not sufficiently pro-Israel and has even been called antisemitic. Those objections are based on Sen. Hagel’s refusal to sign onto a number of AIPAC’s policy pronouncements and objections to military intervention with Iran over a non-existant nuclear weapons program.  Since most of those allegations are exaggerated or just false, the opposition is losing “steam” according to Josh Marshall at TPM:

Nominations lose steam or gain steam. Campaigns against nominations lose steam or gain steam. And at the moment, the campaign against Chuck Hagel’s nomination is losing steam. AIPAC and the ADL have both signaled they do not plan to make a fight of it. Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister is giving Hagel the thumbs up. Now even the Washington Post editorial page has signaled it’s backing off its opposition.

As I noted on Sunday, the prospect of a five seat Democratic majority denying a reelected President the nomination of a former Senator who is blandly unobjectionable anywhere outside the hothouse of DC was always quite unlikely. And these tells are consequential precisely because they signal that the parties in question don’t think it’s a winnable fight.

This is all a tempest in a teapot and ridiculous on its face just as the complaints that Pres. Obama isn’t sufficiently bipartisan. Sen. Hagel is just another in a long succession of right of center nominees, appointments and hold overs from the Bush administration that have been part of Pres. Obama’s neoliberal agenda.  

Jan 05

San Diego County to review protocols for transgender detainees

Five years ago the San Diego County Sheriff, Bill Kolender at that time, issued a two-page “training bulletin” as guidelines for handling transgender inmates at local jails.  The document provided Webster’s dictionary definition of transgender before adding the following:

It is believed that transgender individuals have always existed in our societies  These individuals are often viewed by their friends and families as the sex they are representing and their expectation is that society views them in the same manner.

The document was issued because of the death of a 35 year-old transwoman, Vanessa Facen.  She died in custody four days after a fight with deputies in the San Diego Central jail.  Even though she lived as a woman and had breasts, she had been housed with men because she still had male genitalia.  When the document was issued, the Sheriff’s Department also agreed to institute sensitivity training…but no formal policy was developed.

Jun 16

Historic first testimony of out transperson before Senate…Traditional Values Coalition responds

On Monday, I published a preview of Tuesday’s Senate HELP Committee hearing on ENDA.

People lose their careers. It’s over when people find out you’re transgender.

Kylar Broadus

Speaking from personal experience, I’ll declare that one’s career is not necessarily over, like Professor Broadus said, but a person is damn well going to have to fight to maintain that career and contain the damage done.

May 26

The Social Security Administration’s Equality Problem

The ACLU and the National Center for Transgender Equality have joined together to write a letter to the Social Security Administration expressing concern over the lack of action by the SSA on policy matters important to transpeople.

Areas of concern addressed in the letter include the need for an updated policy for changing information (eg. name, gender) on SSA records, revision of guidance regarding marriages involving a transgender spouse to accurately reflect state and federal laws, and the phasing out of the use of gender data in SSA computer matching programs.

The ACLU views the ability of transgender people to have identifying documents and records that accurately and consistently reflect their lived gender as essential.  As the coalition letter states, having identification and records that misrepresent one’s lived gender “outs” a transgender person in any situation where he or she needs to rely on these records, whether for purposes of employment or conducting business with state and local government offices.  This not only violates the privacy rights of transgender people, it also puts them at serious risk for discrimination, especially in the 34 states that currently lack explicit nondiscrimination protections for individuals based on gender identity.

As the ACLU says on its Discrimination Against Transgender People page,

The ACLU champions the rights of transgender people to live their lives freely and with respect.  We fight for protections against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations (including schools), and health care.  We also challenge obstacles to people obtaining government identity documents respectful of their gender identity, as well as barriers to transgender parents seeking continuing relationships with their children.

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