February 27, 2013
Late last night, I decided to check on the status of the marriage equality bill currently making its way through the state House of Representatives. The bill has already passed the Senate, but is facing its greatest challenge yet in the House, with last night’s vote being whether or not to advance the bill out of committee. Looking at the vote tally (it did make its way out of committee, thankfully), I was curious as to who voted against it. As I suspected, one of the dissenting votes came from Renée Kosel, the woman who has been the state representative for my hometown district since 1997. Her reasoning, again, as I suspected was that “the bill runs counter to her faith.” Sigh.
When will public servants realize that their own personal faith should have nothing to do with what the law of the land should be? To say, “it’s against my faith, so I don’t think this should be the law” is essentially saying, “I believe in x, and that’s protected by my right to religious freedom; and while you may not believe in x, I’m going to force my religious beliefs on you under penalty of law.” Isn’t that hugely flawed? Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, but you don’t see anyone proposing a law that would make the sale of beef and chicken on those days illegal, right? And why is that? It’s because it would be absurd to do that – just like it’s absurd that someone’s personal religious beliefs should be forced on others when it comes to marriage equality.
Speaking of religion, and those who proclaim that their opposition to marriage equality stems from simply a desire to “preserve the original intent of marriage;” have these people read that 2000 year old book they claim to follow?
The below comes from patheos.com, outlining the “biblical definition of marriage”:
Probably the most common form of marriage in the bible, it is where a man has more than one wife.
When a woman was widowed without a son, it became the responsibility of the brother-in-law or a close male relative to take her in and impregnate her. If the resulting child was a son, he would be considered the heir of her late husband. See Ruth, and the story of Onan (Gen. 38:6-10).
A man, a woman and her property — a female slave
The famous “handmaiden” sketch, as preformed by Abraham (Gen. 16:1-6) and Jacob (Gen. 30:4-5).
A man, one or more wives, and some concubines
The definition of a concubine varies from culture to culture, but they tended to be live-in mistresses. Concubines were tied to their “husband,” but had a lower status than a wife. Their children were not usually heirs, so they were safe outlets for sex without risking the line of succession. To see how badly a concubine could be treated, see the famous story of the Levite and his concubine (Judges 19:1-30).
A male soldier and a female prisoner of war
Women could be taken as booty from a successful campaign and forced to become wives or concubines. Deuteronomy 21:11-14 describes the process.
A male rapist and his victim
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 describes how an unmarried woman who had been raped must marry her attacker.
A male and female slave
A female slave could be married to a male slave without consent, presumably to produce more slaves.
and of course …
Monogamous, heterosexual marriage
What you might think of as the standard form of marriage, provided you think of arranged marriages as the standard. Also remember that inter-faith or cross-ethnic marriage were forbidden for large chunks of biblical history.
So which is it? Whose form of marriage are you trying to preserve? The hypocrisy is astounding. Shame on you.
February 18, 2013
The wild ride continues. After feeling mostly positive about how work has been going lately, I received an e-mail from the senior Vice President who oversees my department at work, saying that there have been concerns about the quality of my work lately. This is just 2 weeks after receiving an absolutely glowing annual performance review from my supervisors.
It’s just very frustrating, and just seems slightly too convenient.
Everyone has said that they’re okay with me being me at work, but a few co-workers seem to have distanced themselves from me a bit in this lead up to my work transition. I really, truly hope that these issues with my performance aren’t just the outlet of others’ discomfort with my transness, but it’s hard to not suspect that.
I am hoping that I’m just being paranoid about all this. I hope that this really is a work-related concern. In any case, I’m going to go into there tomorrow, work as hard as I can, and just do my best. That’s all we can ever do.
[the show “How I Met Your Mother” certainly loves to resort to jokes at the expense of trans people anytime they run out of things to write.]
February 8, 2013
Season 6, Episode 20 – the Exploding Meatball Sub
Plot Synopsis: Lily and Barney react badly when Marshall finally quits his job at Goliath National Bank to take a volunteer position at an environmental organization. Meanwhile, Ted and Zoey’s opposing positions on the future of the Arcadian come between them.
Completely irrelevant to the storyline:
In Barney’s office
(Barney is burning a photo of Marshall; Ted enters)
Ted: Hey, Barney, there’s a bunch of models in the lobby, and the gossip is one of them is really a dude. You want to play “Who’s Hot and Who’s Scott?”
Barney: It’s always the one in the turtleneck, Ted. And no, I don’t want to play. Stupid Marshall-… ruined everything.
Ted: Oh, come on. Everything’s not ruined.
(A man enters)
Man: Guys, everything’s ruined.
Ted: What? Why?
Man: Your girlfriend somehow got the Landmark Preservation Committee to agree to a hearing. If they declare the Arcadian a landmark, the whole project is dead. The good news is, I just got the phone number of a husky-voiced hottie in a turtleneck.
(The man leaves the room)
And here are some more examples (source):
[Barney pays an escort $500 to attend a social function with Ted.]
Barney: Ted you’re my cabrone, you think I’m going to stick you with some toothless tranny from Port Authority?
[Ted’s wonders why his friends dislike his date. He alternately imagines that she had a man falsely imprisoned for statutory rape, enjoys killing puppies, and the following:]
Ted: I’ll be back in one second.
Kathy: I bet he’s going to the urinal. Yeah, I remember when I had a penis.
Ted: If there’s some potential “Ohhh….” [dealbreaker] moment, I want know about it right away. I mean, what’s the alternative?
[Cut to fantasy sequence Robin and Ted at the altar]
Priest: I now pronounce you man and wife.
Ted: I love you.
Robin: I used to be a dude.
[Ted, in a rough part of town, is approached by a blonde woman shortly after being approached by a cross dressed, possibly transgender sex worker.]
Ted: Look, mister you are very convincing, and I’m very flattered. Confused, even, but I’m not looking –
Zoe: Definitely not a drag queen. But you have me rethinking this eyeshadow.
[Later in the episode after Ted compliments her looks.]
Zoe: That’s sweet. It would be sweeter if you hadn’t said I was a tranny before, but it’s still sweet.
[Ted wonders why his date is secretive. A fantasy sequence ensues where Ted is in the bathroom of the restaurant and Janet comes in.]
Ted: This is the men’s room.
[Janet strides to the urinal and hikes up her dress.]
Janet: I know. I’m a dude.
Ted: [gasp of horror]
[Edit – 4/4/2013: after digging more into this topic, doing a bit more research, and learning of even more recent events, my opinion previously expressed in this post has changed fairly dramatically. Until HRC makes a true commitment to trans rights – which they still have not done – I cannot, in good faith, trust them as an organization]
It’s important to remember that trans rights in the United States are still in an abysmal state. Only 16 states provide protection against employment discrimination on the basis of being transgender. This means that in 34 states, it is completely legal to fire someone based on their gender identity. The piece of legislation that would eliminate this legalized discrimination, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, has drawn still opposition from conservatives, leaving the legislation stalled in Congress for the foreseeable future. Every session of Congress since 1994 has seen ENDA introduced (though gender identity protections were only added in 2007), only to see it repeatedly shot down. One would think that the question of, “should everyone have equal employment rights?” would be on the same plane as, “do you like sunny days?” in terms of unanimous support; unfortunately, this is not the world we live in.
This prompts me to raise the question of what can be done to better promote universal trans rights. First things, first, though: we need to realize who our allies are (even if they’re not putting the resources into trans rights that we think is necessary), and who our opponents are. To whose credit do we owe the stalled progress of trans rights in the United States? From what I read, posted by some trans individuals, you’d think that the “enemies” are LGB organizations that don’t do enough to support trans issues, that groups like the Human Rights Campaign were single-handedly responsible for the dismal state of trans rights.
While I realize that some LGB organizations have had a rough relationship with the trans community, it’s important to judge these groups based on their current positions, and not on mistakes they’ve made in the past (since 2009, HRC has vocally supported a trans-inclusive version of ENDA). The true battle is not with advocacy groups (that are on our side, mind you), but rather, with organizations like Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, the Traditional Values Coalition, and other religiously-themed groups (rule of thumb: if an organization has the words “family,” “values,” or “traditional” in their name, they’re probably not on our side). Those are the groups responsible for this stall in legislative action. We should focus our anger and our frustration on those groups, the ones that truly keep us legally second-class citizens.
Is the best way to win over true support from groups like HRC to attack them? I mean, to me, it’s that whole, “you’ll attract more bees with honey than vinegar,” line of thinking. Help them improve on their checkered past performance through positive advocacy, not lash out at them. And really, let’s not forget some of the more positive things HRC has advocated for that led (or would lead) to improvement in trans lives:
- HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) measures hospitals’ policies and practices that affect LGBT patients and their families, and examines whether non-discrimination policies and cultural competency training include gender identity.
- HRC recommended fair housing for LGBT people to the Obama Administration which was enacted when the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced new policies in June 2010 that required groups receiving HUD grants to abide by state and local laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
- For the last 10 years, HRC has published the Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which rates U.S. employers on their policies impacting LGBT employees. In 2009, HRC raised the bar on its criteria for healthcare coverage to transgender employees, including coverage for reconstructive surgical procedures related to sexual reassignment, and including the extension of benefits available to other employees to cover transgender transition, such as mental health benefits and pharmaceutical coverage. This new criteria for a perfect score on the CEI was implemented in 2011 and, as a result, companies offering comprehensive healthcare coverage to their transgender workers has increased to 206 in 2011 (from 85 in 2010 and 49 in 2009).
Why is that group so often the target of our anger? At worst, they don’t do enough for us. At best, they’ve helped lobby for positive policy improvements for all LGBT individuals. Attacking them, blaming them, none of it will help us. Turning a spotlight on the anti-equality groups, though? That’s where I believe we can harness anger and frustration to our benefit.
To win allies, use honey, not vinegar.
February 2, 2013
Wow! What a week this was. 0 to 60 in no time. It really got started last Tuesday at my annual performance review at work.
I went into this review thinking, “well, as least once this is over with, I won’t have to worry about me being trans affecting the review.” I received an extremely positive review, and as it concluded, my manager asked if there was anything I’d like to add or discuss. Without giving it a 2nd thought, I said, “so there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you, but haven’t known how to say it: I’m transgender, and I’m in the process of transitioning from male to female. (I hate saying that I’m “transitioning” from and to something, but for the sake of explanation, this phrasing seems to work best)” A shocked look was on my managers’ faces, when finally, one of them said, “that’s wonderful. ” I went on to tell them my rough plan for workplace transition, and they let me know that I could come to them for help.
Over the next 3 days, I came out to 3 more co-workers (2 in upper management, 1 peer). Reactions were very generally positive, with a mention of “let me know if there’s anything I can do” with each self-outing. (Sure there were moments where incorrect terms were used by my co-workers, but when speaking to people completely unfamiliar with trans issues, that needs to be forgiven)
I now have a meeting scheduled with our human resources department on Monday, where I’ll outline my thoughts on my timeline for transition. I’m nervous, yet excited.
I also met with a new psychiatrist last week. He’s a huge improvement over my last doc. He was quick to learn names/pronouns. Together, we worked on a strategy to take on lingering mental health/anxiety issues with the help of medication.
Finally, this morning, I stumbled out of bed, wandered down to the pharmacy to fill my new prescriptions. The pharmacist said, “dropping off, miss?” I reply, “yeah.” I hand her my prescription. She then asks me for an ID, and if I have the same last name and [birth name].” Stunned that I was still passing, I handed her my ID, assuming that would out me. Not the case! She said, “oh great! You brought his ID.” AMAZING.
I went to pay, and was asked if I could confirm [birth name]’s date of birth.
Yes. Yes, I can.