Tag: Equality

Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, Medal Of Honor Recipient

 photo Mary_Edwards_Walker.jpg The only woman to be awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military honor, was a civilian and a surgeon. Dr. Mary Edwards Walker served the US military as a volunteer surgeon during the American Civil War and for a short time, she was held in a Confederate prison after crossing enemy lines to assist with civilian casualties.

At the beginning of the American Civil War, she volunteered for the Union Army as a civilian. At first, she was only allowed to practice as a nurse, as the U.S. Army had no female surgeons. During this period, she served at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas), July 21, 1861 and at the Patent Office Hospital in Washington, D.C. She worked as an unpaid field surgeon near the Union front lines, including the Battle of Fredericksburg and in Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga. As a suffragette, she was happy to see women serving as soldiers and alerted the press to the case of Frances Hook in Ward 2 of the Chattanooga hospital.

In September 1862, Walker wrote to the War Department requesting employment on Secret Service to spy on the enemy, but the offer was declined. Finally, she was employed as a “Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian)” by the Army of the Cumberland in September 1863, becoming the first-ever female surgeon employed by the U.S. Army Surgeon. Walker was later appointed assistant surgeon of the 52nd Ohio Infantry. During her service, she frequently crossed battle lines, treating civilians.

On April 10, 1864, she was captured by Confederate troops and arrested as a spy, just after she finished helping a Confederate doctor perform an amputation. She was sent to Castle Thunder in Richmond, Virginia and remained there until August 12, 1864, when she was released as part of a prisoner exchange. While she was imprisoned, she refused to wear the clothes provided because they were more “becoming of her sex.” Walker was exchanged for a Confederate surgeon from Tennessee on August 12, 1864.

She went on to serve during the Battle of Atlanta and later as supervisor of a female prison in Louisville, Kentucky, and head of an orphanage in Tennessee.[

After the war, Dr. Walker was awarded the Medal of Honor on November 11, 1865 by President Andrew Johnson on the recommendations of Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and George Henry Thomas. The citation reads:

   Whereas it appears from official reports that Dr. Mary E. Walker, a graduate of medicine, “has rendered valuable service to the Government, and her efforts have been earnest and untiring in a variety of ways,” and that she was assigned to duty and served as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville, Ky., upon the recommendation of Major-Generals Sherman and Thomas, and faithfully served as contract surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as contract surgeon; and Whereas by reason of her not being a commissioned officer in the military service, a brevet or honorary rank cannot, under existing laws, be conferred upon her; and Whereas in the opinion of the President an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings should be made. It is ordered, That a testimonial thereof shall be hereby made and given to the said Dr. Mary E. Walker, and that the usual medal of honor for meritorious services be given her.

She was 32 years old when she received the award. Her story did not end there.

She became a writer and lecturer, supporting such issues as health care, temperance, women’s rights and dress reform for women. She was frequently arrested for wearing masculine styled clothing and insisted on her right to wear clothing that she thought appropriate. She wrote two books that discussed women’s rights and dress.

Mary Edwards Walker was a supporter of the women’s suffrage movement. She was a member of the central woman’s suffrage Bureau in Washington. During her time as a member, she solicited funds to endow a chair in the medical school at Howard University to be filled by a woman professor. Walker attempted to register to vote in 1871, but was turned away. The initial stance of the movement, taking Dr. Walker’s lead, was to claim that women already had the right to vote, and Congress need only enact enabling legislation. After a number of fruitless years taking this stance, the movement took the new tack of working for a constitutional amendment. This was diametrically opposed to Mary Walker’s position, and she fell out of favor with the movement. She continued to attend conventions of the suffrage movement and distribute her own brand of literature, but was virtually ignored by the rest of the movement. Her penchant for wearing male-style clothing, including a top hat, only exacerbated the situation. She received a more positive reception in England than in the United States.  In 1907, Walker published a work on “Crowning Constitutional Argument” to state her views. Walker argued that some states, as well as the Constitution, had already granted women the right to vote. She testified on women’s suffrage in 1912 and 1914 before the U.S. House of Representatives.

Walker died on February 21, 1919, from natural causes at the age of 86 and is buried in Rural Cemetery Oswego, New York. She had a plain funeral, but an American flag was draped over her casket and she was buried in her black suit instead of a dress. Her death in 1919 came one year before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed women the right to vote.

The host of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” Lawrence O’Donnell tells her story.

Professional groups and others file amicus brief in Maine equality appeal

 photo maines_zpscff443b4.jpgSeveral social welfare groups have joined an http://caseyanthony.com/?search=how-to-get-cialis amicus brief in the Case of Doe v. RSU 26 (formerly the Orono School District), which has been appealed to the Maine Supreme Court.  The Maine Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maine Chapter of National Association of Social Workers and the Maine Psychological Association have joined with the Trans Youth Equality Foundation, the Maine Women’s Lobby, and the Downeast and Southern Maine chapters of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) to file a brief in the case, which involves a transgender girl (now publicly identified as Nicole Maines) who was forced to stop using the girl’s restroom at her Orono elementary school in 2007.

When she was in the fifth grade, Susan Doe (as she is identified in the suit), was forced to use a separate, staff-only restroom after the grandfather of another (male) student complained that she was a boy and shouldn’t be allowed to use the girls’ restroom.

Nicole Maines has identified as a girl from a very young age and dressed, acted, and looked like a girl.  She is now 16.

The thought of me being a boy just kind of makes me cringe.  I couldn’t do it.  So I would always wear the turtleneck shirt as long hair.  I was always into the girl characters of everything.  That’s how I rolled.  I was like, yeah, I’m a girl.  I don’t think I could be a boy.

–Nicole Maines, 2011

Hope that Maryland is next

 photo Madaleno_zps4beb79c2.jpg photo Raskin_zpsa2b282c1.jpgOn this past Tuesday Maryland state senators Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), who is openly gay, and Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2013, a lasix cataracts brushing bill that would ban anti-transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.  The bill has 21 additional co-sponsors, including Allan Kittleman (R-Howard County) and 20 Democrats, mostly from Baltimore City and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

A similar bill died in committee last April when Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) blocked a vote by the full senate.  Miller has reportedly since backed the proposal.  The 2011 bill passed the House of Delagates by a vote of 86-52.  Since the bill’s defeat last year, Howard and Baltimore Counties joined Montgomery County and the city of Baltimore in prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in housing, employment, and credit, so nearly half of the state’s residents live in jurisdictions with transgender protections.

Defending our existence

Andrea Ayres at policym1c has an essay up entitled click Transgender Rights:  Why they matter to everyone.

In the wake of Sweden declaring unconstitutional a 1972 law that forced transgender people to be sterilized prior to legal gender change, there apparently is renewed interest in the unequal treatment of transgender people.

While the U.S. does not require sterilization prior to a gender reassignment surgery, some states do require that the individual be labeled as having Gender Identity Disorder (GID).  At least until July of 2012.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-V) replaced the term Gender Identity Disorder with Gender Dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria refers to emotional distress that may occur from “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.”  Now the change does not eliminate all gender disorders.  An individual may still be identified as suffering from Transvestic Fetishism or Transvestic Autogynephilia.  The first refers to someone who becomes more sexually active when wearing the clothing incongruent with the sex they were assigned at birth.  The second, championed by an evil man (Ray Blanchard), refers to a person (usually a man, in Blanchard’s opinion) whose sexual impulse is connected with the thought of themselves as a member of “the opposite sex” (i.e. as a woman).  That is, roughly speaking, Blanchard believes transwomen who masturbate are autogynephiles.

The reason why this highlights continuing discrimination against trans individuals is because cisgendered individuals are allowed to behave in these matters without having their intentions questioned.  A cisgendered person is someone who self-identifies with the gender they were both with.  We would not think to question a cisgendered women’s desire to wear clothes, make-up etc, because she is acting in congruency with her societal role.

Props for Nashua, NH

An elementary school in Nashua, NH, has agreed with the parents to levitra buy generic allow an unidentified transgender third grader to dress appropriately for her gender at school, be addressed as a girl, be treated like a girl, and use the female restroom.

The child and her parents were represented in the proceeding by Janson Wu of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).

I think that as the environments become more and more welcoming to transgender and gender variant youth, we’re going to see a lot more students coming out.  And that’s something that schools and parents will need to be prepared to deal with.  Children often have difficulty having schools respect them for who they believe they are.  If a transgender girl wants to be able to wear feminine clothes to school and be addressed as a girl, often times we see schools feeling a fair amount of discomfort around that.  What we’re hopeful is that when the schools work with the student and the parents is they learn to understand that this is a sincere belief on the student’s part and they learn to support that.

As parents and educators and community members, you want to do what’s right for the children.  When you speak to the youth themselves, you really do get the sense that these are children who have sincere belief about who they are.

–Janson Wu

DC to institute campaign against anti-transgender discrimination

The District of Columbia has had recent problems vis-a-vis the transgender community, what with a rash of transwomen being shot or otherwise killed, including at least one time by an off-duty police officer.  In 2000 a government study of the DC trans community showed a 42% unemployment rate and that 47% of the community did not have health insurance.

The study also indicated that in order to survive, many transpeople resorted to sex work.  MPD responded to that news by prednisone 40 mg instituting a policy of using condom possession as evidence of prostitution.

These actions discourage sex workers from using condoms, increasing the risk of HIV-a particularly worrisome possibility for transgender people in the District, where the rate is already so high across the population, says Megan McLemore, a senior researcher in the Health and Human Rights Division of Human Rights Watch.

As you might imagine, this has caused a lot of tension between transpeople and the city government.  Imagine our surprise, then when the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights announced that it will launch what it believes is the first see government-funded campaign aimed at stopping anti-transgender discrimination.  The effort will commence in late summer/early fall.

Challenging Tradition

Many moons ago…back in the early 90s when I was transitioning, I had an online transwoman friend who lived in England, was blind, and had attended one of the colleges at Oxford.  I don’t recall which college it was, but it was definitely Men Only at the time.  It was Men Only to the point that it refused to recognize any graduates which may have transitioned from male to female, preferring to remove them from the historical list.

I am sure my friend is amazed at how tradition has now been altered at Oxford University.  Amid concerns that its strict academic dress code was unfair to transgender students, canada viagra generic Oxford has adopted new regulations removing the requirement that students wear ceremonial clothing specific to their gender.

That is, male-born people will be allowed to sit exams in skirts and stockings and women-born people will have the option of wearing suits and bow ties.

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.

The State of Transgender Rights: Looking forward and back

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

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

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

Sharon Brackett, Board Chair of Gender Rights Maryland

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

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

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

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

Folks, these are separate issues.  Please separate them.

Teach the Children…and the Adults

England Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke recently announced that “the starting point” for sentencing by judges in the murder of people with disabilities and transpeople would be doubled from 15 to 30 years.

That’s the same starting point for sentences for murders in which race, religion or sexual orientation is an aggravating factor.

The proposal is part of the government’s first strategy to tackle transgender prejudice in England and Wales. The equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, said the strategy included support for transgender pupils in schools, measures to tackle discrimination in accessing public services and greater steps to protect transgender people’s privacy, including not having their transgender identity revealed at work without their consent.

Featherstone said the first transgender equality plan was needed because statistics showed that 70% of children who were uncertain about their gender were subject to bullying. The official figures also show that 88% of transgender employees experienced discrimination or harassment at work, and that hate crime against transgender people had recently risen by 14% to 357 incidents last year.

Speculating More about True Gender Equality in Sports

After the USA Women’s World Cup soccer team flamed out in the final minutes, I noticed a very different sort of response from ordinary people and from the media. I expected lots of disappointed criticism, be it online or in person. In a game that was the USA’s to lose, there would seem to have been much to go around. However, after the shock of the defeat had worn off, most people complimented the team for reaching the final and for its courage. This warm graciousness is extremely unfamiliar with me, so much so that it appears utterly foreign. It was fascinating to observe, on one level, even though it could not be more out-of-bounds with my own emotional response.

Out in America/Out in New York

It was a celebration of being GLBT in American and a review of our recent history in this country.

It had its flaws, I think, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that people view it…many times, if possible.  I love it that we live in the New York City environs (just west of Newark, NJ) and we get two New York PBS stations, so I got a chance to watch it Wednesday night on Thirteen and will have another chance Sunday on WLIW (Long Island).  And it will probably eventually come to our own New Jersey PBS station, NJN.

It is, after all, time for another pledge drive.  It’s always time for another pledge drive.

What is it?  It’s the new documentary by Andrew Goldberg, Out in America.  The version we get here is actually called viagra no prescription Out in America/Out in New York, which consists of the original documentary wrapped in some local material, hosted by Kate Clinton (who also participated in the documentary) and Andrew Goldberg, who wrote and produced the documentary in conjunction with accutane muscles Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Mr. Goldberg said that he felt that if people could just see how much GLBT people were like themselves, that the world would get better.  There was a bit of a flaw in his procedure for doing that.

He didn’t find average, everyday people to interview.

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