Donna's Blog
The View From OTHER Side.

Not too long ago an acquaintance mentioned that being transsexual had somehow become vogue, almost trendy.  I had to laugh, as I can think of a pazillion easier ways to seem trendy than having a sex change.  Who knew?  Oh well.  To each their own, I suppose.

A blog means different things to different people.  That being said, my blog will not be a diary, or a journal.  I consider those things to be inherently private except to only the most trusted and intimate friends.  Rather, it will document some of the miscellaneous exploits and observations in the day-to-day banality of my trying-to-be-ordinary-but-never-seeming-to-get-there life.

Perhaps even more than that, though, it will provide an outlet for my need for creative expression.  I don't have that opportunity in my career or at home so I'll allow this medium to fill that void and see where things go.  These writings will be spur-of-the-moment, what-I'm-thinking-now kinds of things, so I apologize in advance for the rough nature.  Also, I really don't want to debate the things I put here.  I feel no need to defend myself.  So, I ask that you please read these entries in the spirit that they're offered - a spirit where barriers are down and difference of opinion is respected and encouraged.  Hopefully, there will be something of value here for others.

Other "Stuff" - - - > Previous Blog Entries (2004-2007) : Donna's Blog Archive
  ENDA Developments and Thoughts: Donna's ENDABlog Page
  Additional Photos: Donna's Blog Photos (updated 12/23/2007)
  Donna's Videos: Donna's Videos (updated 10/30/2007)
  I'm Done Here Go back to Donna's Home Page

Until I figure out how to do the technical back-end stuff to make my "new" blog show up here automatically, please visit my new Blog:

Friday, May 2, 2008

11:15 pm:  Our nearly weeklong trip is coming to a close.  Maggie has been as close to an angel as can be, and I'll be posting photos from the trip shortly.  I had a reservation to fly home on Southwest in the morning only to learn that they're one of the few airlines that doesn't allow small pets in the cabin.  So, I had to cancel my reservation and make other arrangements - the good news being that Southwest allows you to use ALL your cancelled funds on another ticket.  Anyway, it was just a minor bump in the road and I think we'll be ok.  We've got an early morning flight home.

I'll be mostly using my "other" blog: from this point on.  In a way, I'm retiring the blog in this form and maturing to something new.  The blog has grown a life of its own in recent years and I expect that to continue.  I don't really control is so much as it morphs and changes on its own.  The only way to really see it is to see how it has happened over time.

I posted an entry there yesterday about our trip, and about the Dr. Phil Show on Tuesday.  I talked with my friends at GLAAD today who are hoping to hear from people who watched the show and who want to complain.  I didn't see it, but from the sounds of things it was pretty brutal.  Anyone who wants me to forward a note to GLAAD feel free to send it here.  Or, write to me and I'll be happy to share the contact info for the person at GLAAD who needs to know.


Wednesday, April 29, 2008

10:15 pm:  I've only got a few minutes before I need to get to bed. Puppy is finally tired out and laying next to me.  We need to get to bed for for the 2nd leg of our trip tomorrow when we fly to Austin.  If I had a dollar for everyone who touched the puppy today I'd be able to pay all the extra airfares that are involved in flying with animals. The thing I can't quite understand is why it costs extra when (a) they're under the seat just like any other piece of carry-on luggage (b) they're less troublesome than a screaming child and (c) they don't even get their fair share of peanuts or soda.  Anyway, I'm very glad to have brought the puppy with me.  It has been an amazing bonding week for us and she has been nothing short of incredible.

I'll write something about today's event in my "other" blog so stay tuned on that.  It was great, and thanks to everyone who arranged it and had any part of bringing me here to participate.  A local television station has posted a story about the event (see it here) and if you don't blink you'll see me talking to the group - I was the first speaker at the rally. 

I also owe photos from the GLAAD event in LA this past weekend - I haven't forgotten.  I did post something on Bilerico about it (GLAAD Media Awards in LA - Wow).  And, still no word on my missing camera.  :(

One thing that was announced today that I find interesting was the release of a joint publication between NCTE and The Task Force.

Opening the Door to the Inclusion of Transgender People:
The Nine Keys to Making LGBT Organizations Fully Transgender-Inclusive

Date: April 28, 2008

The National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force announce a new joint publication, Opening the Door to the Inclusion of Transgender People: The Nine Keys to Making Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations Fully Transgender-Inclusive. Geared for LGBT organizations of any kind (from communities of faith, to social clubs, to advocacy organizations), this guide covers both practical and big-picture ways we can all bring our goals of a fully inclusive movement into reality. It also includes the voices of LGBT leaders speaking about their real-life experiences with transgender inclusion.

Read the press release here

This is no small publication (download it here).  Weighing in at 80 pages it's much more than a pamphlet and the breadth of it shows the hard work involved. 

The thing I find particularly interesting is that this is one of the first joint publications between NCTE and The Task Force that I can remember.  There may be others, but I found that NCTE was typically courted by HRC to co-produce their transgender work (there are a half dozen or more of them).  In the aftermath of ENDA those of us who felt driven away have found other partners to work with.  NCTE is working with the Task Force and the NGLCC.  Jamison and I are working with Out and Equal. 

One of the things that Jamison and I are finding, and that is probably evident in this new publication as well, is that we're able to do things with our new "partners" that we couldn't do before.  It's actually very refreshing and it opens the doors to all kinds of new and exciting possibility.  I still believe that somehow, sometime, some way we'll find ourselves doing something substantive with our former partner (Jamison and I, either collectively or individually, that is....I can't speak for NCTE).  Whether that happens or not, the good news is that important work continues unabated.

Tuesday, April 28, 2008

7:15 am:  Puppy and I are in Albany.  Rather than re-hash the trip suffice to say that she traveled amazingly well and I couldn't have been happier or more proud of her.  Over the last several days her personality has really come out and she's playful, inquisitive, funny, smart and loving.  It's fun to watch, and even more fun to be part of. 

Yesterday was a day of firsts.  I had never traveled with a small dog on a plane before.  She started to get used to her leash.  She experienced rain (it was pouring when we arrived here last night, and cold).  It's a little better this morning, but not much.  She's staying at her first hotel (I wonder if they know she's here).  All in all - a big day for us both.

Today I'm speaking at Lobby Day here in New York.  Busses are bringing 1,000+ activists from all over the state to participate.  It's a massive undertaking and testament to what can happen with good leadership, committed people, effective planning, and focused goals come together.  One of the key initiatives here is GENDA, adding the 'gender identity' portion of ENDA back into the Sexual Orientation only version that was passed after a contentious and divisive fight here in 2001 (sound familiar?).  I'm thrilled to be part of this effort in my adopted home state of New York.

I got a call from a friend over the weekend asking me if I had had lunch with Joe Solmonese recently - she has been hearing rumors.  Of course, I haven't.  But I'll also share that if the opportunity were right, I would, and in fact next time I'm in DC (whenever that is) maybe I'll be the person who extends that invitation.  I've seen emails from people assuring everyone on various lists that they wouldn't meet one-on-one with Joe but somewhere, somehow, someone has got to start the flow of communication.  We're not going to agree on everything but at some point we have to find things that we do agree on and find ways to move forward on them for our mutual benefit. 

HRC has all they can handle on their plate this week - they announced their official endorsements for 14 Senators and candidates for 2008.  There is a conspicuous omission from the list, and others that are already raising eyebrows.  As part of the Politics and Policy Committee (PPC) I've seen how this process works behind the scenes and there is method to the madness.  There are reasons for why things happen and don't happen as far as their endorsements go and all I can say is that I'm glad I don't have to defend their political decisions any more.  The problem isn't so much in the decisions they're making as it is with the veil of secrecy over how the decisions are made - including ENDA.  Anyway, that world seems far away from me here in my hotel room in rainy, gray Albany with my puppy. 


Sunday, April 27, 2008

7:00 pm:  I'm back from Hollywood.  There's lots to talk about.

First things first.  The puppy is none the worse for wear from my being away for a couple of nights.  Thanks to Laura and her daughter for being such wonderful step-parents while I was gone.

She's in great spirits.  She has been playful, happy, energetic, funny, inquisitive, and generally very puppy-like since I got home.  She's eating well, and it seems as though the newness of it all from last week and the dopiness from her shots have both pretty much worn off.  And, she seems to have found her bark.  She makes me laugh, and that can't help but be a good thing.

I'm struggling with what to do with her this coming week.  I'm very strongly considering bringing her with me on my trip.  I've got a puppy carrying case on loan from a friend and am investigating what the "rules" are for bring a puppy on-board as a carry-on bag (it costs an extra $80 each way!).  I don't know how she'd do, it'd be a hassle, but in some ways I'd rather do that than leave her here for a week and be a hassle for others (I shortened the trip to get back on Saturday).  I need to make a decision soon because my flight leaves at 7:30 in the morning and I need to start packing.

The trip to LA for the GLAAD Awards was great.  My only source of disappointment is that I brought my big, nice Canon digital Rebel camera with one of my larger lenses with me and left it on a cab that took us to breakfast yesterday morning.  I'm sick about it, but such is life.  I'll call the Taxi company's Lost and Found tomorrow, but my confidence that I'll ever see it again is nil. 

It was fun to spend time with friends who came from around the country to attend - I think we all had a blast.  I got some good photos that I'll be posting here shortly.  Special thanks to Eden for pointing out who's who.  She seems to know everything and everyone in television and her patient explanations were much appreciated.  I'll be writing something for Bilerico about it, I think, after I'm done packing (if it's not too late).  Even with losing my camera it was well worth the trip.

There were several people I was particularly happy to bump into, and to have time to talk with.  I'm already looking forward to some of the follow-up conversations that we started.  The gift bag must have weighed 25 pounds and was full to the brim with all kinds of stuff.  One of the things that all of us noticed was that the tone of the entire evening was fully-inclusive.  There was rarely a time when the word "gay" wasn't followed shortly thereafter by the word "transgender".  It was particularly nice to see, and I can't thank the staff enough for the obvious behind-the-scenes-work for making it happen.  There were several trans people there - on stage, walking the red carpet, and in the audience.  All in all, nobody had a single complaint in that regard and I plan to write to Neil (the President of GLAAD) to thank him.

Neil's remarks were on-point and I noticed that more than one person around me was wiping away tears as he described some moving personal stories.  His mantra of "Telling our stories doesn't make a bit of difference - it makes all the difference" hit home in personal ways for many of us.  These events can be tremendously empowering - even life-changing - and although this was my first visit to the Los Angeles event I was relieved to see that the emotion of the message was not lost on the 3,000+ people that filled the Kodak Theater. 

Other highlights:

Lastly for tonight, on the political front I received confirmation that a 3rd transgender delegate will be making a trip to Denver for the Democratic National Convention in August.  Fellow Arizonian Amanda Simpson from Tucson will be one of the delegates from Arizona, and will be joining Diego Sanchez from MA and Merissa Richmand from TN.  I can't think of anyone better to represent our state than Amanda, and am thrilled for her.

BTW - if you've sent me email in the last week or so, know that I'm woefully behind and will be doing my best to catch up.  The combination of travel, work, puppy, and other obligations seem to keep me busy from morning to night.  Thanks for your patience....

Wish me luck on the airplane with puppy tomorrow.  This will be a first for both of us....

Friday, April 25, 2008

11:30pm:  I changed my flight to LA to early tomorrow morning which alleviated some of the pressure I was feeling.  I dropped Maggie off with a friend who will be watching her while I'm gone and I'm comfortable she's in good, loving hands.  Still, I already miss having her furry little lovable self around.  :(

I tried on some dresses on my way home tonight but decided that (a) I need to stop eating again and (b) I'm not going to invest in another dress right now.  I talked with my ex-wife for almost an hour, and I visited with my friend when I dropped Maggie off.  I wrote an entry on my "other" blog tonight (read it here).  I should have packed tonight but I'll do that at 5am before I leave.

There are some interesting topics cropping up in some very interesting places.  For example, there was a story in the New York Times today about married couples staying together through SRS:

Through Sickness, Health and Sex Change
New York Times, United States - 1 hour ago
No one tracks the number of transgender people in the country, let alone the number who stay married after a sex change, said Mara Keisling, the executive ...

I'm told that NBC is looking for couples because they're doing a story on this, as well.

I'll be participating in the Empire State Pride Agenda Lobby Day in Albany, NY on Tuesday.  I'll be here and there throughout the day but here's one event that everyone can attend:

Workshop:  Being a Trans Ally, with Donna Rose. 
Tuesday April 29th, 2008 at Equality and Justice Day
2:00-3:15pm in Meeting Room 2,

A workshop for new and experienced trans allies, and those just wanting to learn.  Nationally recognized transgender educator Donna Rose will provide an overview of "Transgender" based on her personal experience, discuss the challenges faced by many trans and gender non-conforming people, explain the roles that trans allies can play, and give direction on how to get involved in work for transgender equality in New York State.  Activists from the GENDA Coalition will give details on GENDA, a statewide bill to outlaw discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people.  Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn about trans from a nationally respected advocate, the crucial role of allies in the struggle for trans equality, and your opportunity to take action in support of GENDA. 

 For more information, please contact Empire State Pride Agenda Field Organizer, Casey Chanton, at 212.627.0305 or

I'm looking forward to this.


7:30am:  I took little Maggie to the vet yesterday for her second set of shots.  She weighs 6.7 pounds - just a teeny furball, really - and looks to be totally healthy.  She's got such a sweet, relaxed personality; the only time her eyes seemed to get big was when they took her temperature.  :)  She's been pretty much wiped out since yesterday and hasn't had much energy - not that I'm complaining too much.

Today I begin a very busy stretch that is now complicated by my little munchkin.  I'm scheduled to leave today to go to LA for the GLAAD Media Awards there tomorrow, and then back home mid-day Sunday. I leave on Monday morning for Albany, participate in the Empire State Pride Agenda Lobby Day on Tuesday, and fly to Austin on Wednesday.  The Out and Equal Workplace Summit kickoff is on Thursday, and I'll probably come home early from that to be with puppy.  I've got people loving on her while I'm gone so I'm not too worried in that regard.

There was a story from Reuters that appeared in the New York Times today titled "TV Has Never Seen More Transgender Characters".

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Although long known to the gay community, breakout star Candis Cayne became a household name this year with her recurring role as the male-to-female transgender character Carmelita on ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money."

She also made history as the first transgender actress to play a transgender character in primetime, and she even shared an onscreen kiss with William Baldwin.

"It just never would have occurred to me to cast a person that wasn't transgender," says creator and executive producer Craig Wright. "The minute Candis walked through the door, there wasn't a single ounce of opposition."

This was a bold step for a network at a time when most LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) ground is broken on cable. With two cable networks -- Here! and Logo -- providing dedicated gay content, and numerous other cable networks featuring LGBT characters in original miniseries, documentaries and dramas, the LGBT experience is being portrayed with more complexity than ever.

According to Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which is holding its 19th annual Media Awards on Saturday at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre (with additional ceremonies in New York, South Florida and San Francisco), "There are fewer gay characters on the broadcast networks than there have been in over a decade ... but the characters that do exist are more fully realized and authentic than characters we've seen in the past, so progress is being made."

Candis is scheduled to be at the event on Saturday and I look forward to thanking her and congratulating her myself.  I've got friends coming from around the country to sit at our table and I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone, and I hope we all have a chance to chat with her.  The timing of this article couldn't be more perfect because I consider this event to be a celebration of the emergence of Transgender characters in mainstream media.

Does anyone underestimate the impact that broad visibility of transgender lives on mainstream television?  We talk about this vague concept of "education" that needs to happen to move the culture to be more accepting and understanding and although each of us can certainly play a part in that these mainstream media opportunities reach millions and millions of people.  As much as providing visibility into our lives the fact that we're there at all is a statement of legitimacy and empowerment that no amount of money can buy.  These portrayals have come a long way from characters who were either criminals, victims, sex-workers, mentally-ill, or otherwise de-valued.  I'm working with the staff at GLAAD to produce a DVD about the changing portrayal of transgender in the Media through the years and we're all very excited about it.  Stay tuned as that develops....

It's really exciting to be involved in the behind-the-scenes planning in some of the events that happen each year.  One of the reasons I got involved with HRC locally while living in Austin was to participate in the dinner planning.  It was an introduction to the broader GLBT community to someone who had never been there before.  Now, I'm doing stuff with Southern Comfort (don't forget, the deadline for workshop proposals is May 15!), we're already working on the Out and Equal Workplace Summit, I'm doing stuff with GLAAD, Jamison and I are working on things together - it's great to be able to work with so many committed people.  It certainly cuts down on free-time, but I can't imagine NOT doing these things right now.

On a more somber note, today is the 12th annual "Day of Silence".  The website explains it as follows:

The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. This year’s event will be held in memory of Lawrence King, a California 8th-grader who was shot and killed Feb. 12 by a classmate because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. Hundreds of thousands of students will come together on April 25 to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior.

Because of recent violence against GLBT students in schools around the country there is significant visibility on the event today.  It is receiving broad visibility (Los Angeles Times, The Advocate, and many, many more).  As one might expect, some are not happy about the visibility and are pushing back with their own initiatives.  At a high school outside Seattle a "church group" is calling for "prayer warriors" to participate in a counter-protest outside the school (details here, and here, and here).  I can't tell you how hate-mongerers and bigots masquerading under the charade of religion make my blood boil - don't even get me going on that.  Anyway, today is an important day to support our youth. 

I need to get the day going.  This next week looks to be crazy, and that doesn't even factor in my responsibilities as work that remain a priority and that I always somehow seem to balance with everything else.  It's one of those mysteries I don't try to explain any more.  I just cross my fingers and hope it continues...


Thursday, April 24, 2008

6:30am:  I'm a data person.  There's a saying in IT - "If you can measure it you can manage it" - so data and metrics and statistical analysis is all part of this data-grounded world that I call a career.  The fact is that I actually enjoy data.  I enjoy looking for relationships, anomalies, cause/effect, trends.  That stuff is fun for me.

The reason that I bring it up is that I'm having some fun doing a little analysis on companies and various Diversity/Ranking scores.  We could talk long and hard about HRC's Corporate Equality Index - what it is and what it isn't - and I'll defend it to the death for what it is while at the same time acknowledging the shortcomings for what it isn't.  This post isn't about the CEI.  It's about Diversity scores or  "rankings" in general.

There are several "Best Company" lists.  How does a company get near the top of one?  I'm sure that we all have ideas on that and I'm not looking to argue that point here.  The thing I find interesting, however, is to compare the companies from one list to another.  For example, I looked at the 33 companies listed in the Fortune article of the Best Big Companies to work for.  I checked the CEI scores for each of these companies and found that 15 of them have a score of 100.  2 have a score between 90-99.  2 have a score between 80-99.  One has a score of 75.  And, the 4th best large company to work for according to this list - FedEx - has a score of 55.  None of that really surprises me.  One thing I found interesting, however, was that over a third of these companies, 12 to be exact, don't report a score to HRC for the CEI at all.

I also find it very, very interesting to compare this list with DiversityInc's list of 50 Top Companies for Diversity 2008 (see that list here).  Does anyone else find it interesting that only 2 companies are on both lists?  What does this mean?  I'm not sure - I just find it odd that only 2 of the companies rated as the best for Diversity are on the list of best places to work.  One thing it does probably mean is that these lists are aren't meant to be be-all, end-all rankings.  They make good press, but I'd take the results with a grain of salt.

Anyway - this is interesting stuff.  Anyone who attended the Thursday diversity lunch at IFGE in Tucson heard me share some work that Jamison and I are doing with Out and Equal to develop a survey that doesn't measure corporate policy, but it measures actual employee experience and overall corporate culture.  I expect that the results will be fascinating.  I'll have more to share on that as it develops.

Someone sent me a photo from IFGE that I actually like.  I don't like many photos of myself - but I can't complain about this one.  :)

Not everyone sees the workplace gains we are making as a good thing.  Focus on the Family has an opinion on the gains we are making in the workplace:

Human Rights Campaign Pushes Special Rights for Transgender Workers

The Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual-activist group, has released a guide for employers that outlines practices for advancing transgenderism in the workplace.

Transgender Inclusion in the Workplace includes “appropriate terminology with which to discuss gender identity" and suggestions for "policies that protect transgender workers" by creating special rights. Some states are considering laws that would open most workplace restrooms to men, women, transgender individuals and transsexuals.

Caleb H. Price, research analyst for Focus on the Family, said corporate America is being used as a pawn to promote the homosexual agenda.

“Homosexual activists have long been strategically targeting corporate America to help bring about their radical agenda to re-engineer society and redefine the traditional and biblical understanding of family, sexuality and now gender,” he said.

“Sadly, as American corporate titans adopt 'transgender'-affirming policies, the patently ridiculous notion that gender is somehow 'fluid' and that people can ignore biological reality and self-define their gender will become normalized in society.”

Read the article here

Did you see the news story about a woman in Florida who found an 8 ft. alligator in her kitchen?  (see it here)  I couldn't help but laugh hearing the 911 operator asking her is she's sure that it isn't an "iguana or a large lizard" and the woman says "no no no no no" - looking at this huge alligator that takes up her entire kitchen floor.  Too funny.

Puppy has a vet appointment today.  They tend to poke and prod at these things.  I hope they don't hurt her.  :(


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

6:30am:  How can people tell what company would be good to work for?  There are all kinds of surveys, indexes, recruiting messages, Diversity initiatives - how does anyone know what's true and what's not?  I don't know if there's a way to truly know as experiences will vary within large companies.  But at the same time, where can you start?

An article came out on ranking the 50 Best Big Companies to work for.  I'm used to working at large companies and I found reading this interesting.  This list has some surprises.  I actually am working at one of the companies in the Top 10 on this list (contract work, not as an Employee).  A significant number of the people I know there have been at the company for well over 20 years which certainly says something.

One project I'm trying to work in the background is to identify which companies have diversity hiring that might provide a contact at the company.  It's easier to get a foothold at a company, no matter how wonderful your resume, if you can actually speak to someone rather than having to apply online and never hearing anything. Anyway, if you've had good experiences in that regard please feel free to forward the information about the company and the contact so I can follow-up.

This past weekend there were 3 road-rage shooting incidents around the Valley.  There was another on Monday where a couple of people got stabbed.  A news report indicates that Phoenix has the 2nd most road rage incidents in the country and that doesn't surprise me - drivers around here are nuts.  It's one thing to be an aggressive driver but a whole other thing to turn a driving incident into violence.  As I consider my long-term prospects and where I want to live as I get older things like that make a difference.

Speaking of driving I wrote something about Danica Patrick, who became the first woman to win an IndyCar event over the weekend, on the DonnaBlog.

The puppy seems to be getting used to being here although she hasn't eaten in a couple of days.  She has been decidedly NOT happy about me leaving her in the large crate when I go to work and I suppose I can't blame her.  I have been doing short days there so far this week so she doesn't have to be in it for too too long but when it's a 45 mile drive each way that certainly adds time and hassle.  She hasn't had a "boo boo" in the house since Sunday so we've been fortunate in that regard, and I'm taking her to the vet for a check-up tomorrow.  She likes to lay on the cool tile in the kitchen and the hallways and at one point she wanted to stay on it last night.  I woke up and searched the house looking for her.  I found her curled up on my pile of dirty laundry - so cute.

Monday, April 21, 2008

10:30pm:  Tomorrow HRC will announce the release of it's new publication, "Transgender Inclusion In the Workplace, 2nd Edition" (see it here).  I'd say it's really version 1 of this, replacing a publication called "Transgender Issues In the Workplace: A Tool For Managers" that was released in 2004 (I have a couple hundred copies of these in my garage and am happy to send to anyone who needs some).  The old document was significantly shorter and was far more aimed at facilitating workplace transitions.  This publication is much more substantive and comprehensive.

Noted trans workplace advocates are already commenting on it (see Jillian Weiss's remarks here).  I don't know that I have anything more to add.

The one thing I'll be interested to see is how effective HRC is at getting this out there, and the broader reception it gets.  It's the first Trans specific publication/tool since ENDA and the fact that it's workplace-related makes it doubly compelling.  I have no criticisms on content, intent, timing, or format although I'm sure others will find something to complain about.  Daryl, Samir, and the rest of the Workplace Team did their usual excellent work.  But the question of the day isn't about what's between the covers.  The Spectre of ENDA begs the question "How does an organization that was the lone voice for transgender exclusion in ENDA release a publication making a business case for transgender inclusion?"  I hope it's a non-issue - I really do, because corporate America still needs good tools on Transgender issues.  But I can't see how they can escape the obvious questions.

Tomorrow is the Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania.  Most agree that Hillary will win, although I for one made a friendly wager today to the contrary.  The question seems to be whether it will be a single-digit win or more than that.  I guess we'll know by this time tomorrow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

9:30pm:  It's relatively early but I'm heading to bed.  That's one of the good things about having this puppy.  My 1am nights are a thing of the past.  I expect that I'll be getting to bed at a far more reasonable time.

I posted a nice photo of the Mag-ster on my "other" blog.  It's hard to get good pictures of her because when she sees me get down so I'm eye-level she figures I must be ready to play and comes running over.  One of the things I find interesting already is watching her sleep, and her little feet are moving and ears are twitching.  What on earth does a newborn puppy dream it's chasing? 

I spent almost 3 hours over at my ex-wife's house today.  She gave me a crate that we used for Molly that we had stored up in the attic.  Apparently, nobody had been in the attic since I left the house 9 years ago and she wanted my help getting the stuff out of there.  So we spent the better part of the afternoon going through all our stuff that was in the attic.  Her wedding dress was there.  Old receipts and empty boxes were there.  Books. binders, records, calendars, and all kinds of stuff was there.  Anyway, it was actually sort of nostalgic and was the most civil we've been to one another in a long time.  The magical powers of puppies cannot be under-estimated.  Of course, Maggie slept most of the afternoon away but that's ok. 

I got stopped twice at PetSmart and once at the gas station by people who saw Maggie and wanted to chat.  I'm telling you - if you want to meet people carry a puppy around with you.  It's a great ice breaker.  :)

7:00am:   I'm not sure what the first night of a new puppy, taken from its family and brought to new surroundings, is supposed to be like or even if there is a typical "first night".   I remember pups I've had that have cried through the night, others who were restless to the point they couldn't sleep, and still others who seemed to take it all in stride.  Maggie had a very nice first day - we even went over to a friend's house who has 2 Yorkies and Maggie had a great time.  All the excitement and change caught up with her sometime during the night, tho.

She slept in the bed with me and at some point around 3am I woke to an interesting aroma in the bedroom.  Poor Mags has some tummy "issues" and had left me a couple of little presents on the comforter.  Yuk.  Anyway, I cleaned them up, used Lysol on everything, took her out back for a little while, and the rest of the night passed fine.  She still has an upset little tummy and hasn't eaten anything yet today.  I'll be glad when she does.

I don't want this Blog to turn into the trials and tribulations of raising a puppy but I expect that I'll use it for some of that.  It's a healthy distraction.  The big event later today is that we'll be heading over to visit my ex-.  That should be interesting.  I'm actually looking forward to it.

I realized I have several photos from events I've attended recently: The CA Leadership Summit, the GLAAD Awards in NYC, IFGE.  I'll be uploading a bunch of them to share online later today.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

5:00pm:   Maggie has had quite the day, and is curled up by my feet under the desk.  She's been sleeping for almost 2 hours - I'm sure the excitement of everything was a drain.

Maggie just turned 8 weeks old, and has only had her first series of vaccinations so I'll need to make arrangements for the rest of them.  She has been remarkably good and only seemed sad for a short while in the car before curling up on my lap as if nesting.  She has been inquisitive here at the house and the good news is that there have been no "mistakes" on the carpet yet.  At least, none I know of.

Her coloring is as striking as her personality - I've attached 3 pics I took earlier today.  They should provide an idea of how small she is....

Anyway, she's awake now so we're going out back on the "lawn" to play.  More later.


Friday, April 18, 2008

9:00pm:   I had an interesting dream last night.  Lately I generally don't remember my dreams much past my second cup of coffee but I remember this one pretty well.  I don't feel compelled to share the dream other than to say I don't know what relevance it has, if any, on my non-dream life. 

Dreams are pretty amazing things.  They reflect our self-image of ourselves, hidden fears or needs, and any number of other interesting elements that we're often able to suppress in our conscious world.  For example, for most of my life when I dreamed I saw myself as a guy.  Usually we don't stop and ask ourselves what gender we are in our dreams because we assume that our dream self is the same as our physical self.  For the longest time whenever I'd dream of myself as female there was a corresponding sense of dread that someone would figure me out.  I remember the first time I dreamed of myself as Donna - not as David trying to be Donna - but just as Donna.  I couldn't wait to see my psych to share this amazing news.  It was big deal for me as it represented a sort of change in how I perceived myself - both consciously AND subconsciously.

I also remember when I started dreaming in color - shortly after starting estrogen.  My ex-wife would always explain these elaborate, colorful dreams that she had and I always assumed that she was making them up as she went.  It wasn't until after going on estrogen that my own dreams became much more vivid and real to me.  To be fair - everything became much more vivid for me after starting estrogen.  But the impact of the dreams on me increased significantly for quite a while.  It was a generally overwhelming time - both when I was awake and when I was asleep.

I go to pick up little Maggie the puppy tomorrow around noon.  Somehow it reminds me of when my ex- and I took our son home from the hospital and as we tucked him into his bed for the first time the realization hit home that this little, innocent life depended on us.  Anyway, I'll post photos when I get her here and settled.  We've got a busy day tomorrow.

I wrote about some upcoming Trans workplace stuff from HRC on my "other" blog.  I'm still on track to combine the two into a single effort - I'm expecting to do that at the end of this month.  I envision that it will be a pretty seamless transition but we'll see how it goes.

I'll share a few recent photos.  The top row is from the California Transgender Leadership Summit in Berkeley last month, and the bottom photo is from a lunchtime talk at IFGE a couple of weeks ago.

Jamison Green and I discussing last minute Closing Plenary details

Springtime shot of the Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline from Treasure Island

Lastly, I have a friend blogger who disappointed me today by blogging irresponsibly.  I don't know if there truly is such a thing, but things like credibility and respect need to exist out here as more than conveniences that we use when it suits us.  Lord knows I have opinions on things and I'm not shy about sharing them here but I try to avoid petty sneak attacks like the one I saw today.  I won't go into more detail because it doesn't deserve the visibility.  If anything, it deserves an apology.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

10:00pm:   I did something Monday night that I haven't done for a long time.  I mowed.  There's a small patch of grass in my back yard that thinks it's a lawn.  It feels odd complain that I had to mow it because it had gotten too long but to then admit that it was looking sad a couple of weeks ago so I fertilized it.  I guess the fertilizer "took".   What do I get for my efforts?  Long, thick, green grass that needs to be mowed.  I even had to borrow the lawn mower from my friend Laura.  I'm so unprepared for this...

As I mowed I was having flashbacks.  I remember going house to house as a pre-teen in the late 1960's asking if I could cut people's lawn for $5 (I'd trim it for another $5).  I remember using my mom's always dull push mower to do our lawn and collecting all the clippings to put in my mom's compost heap behind the garage (she's a gardener).  When we lived in Rochester our property covered nearly an acre so I did what any self-respecting lawn lover would do.  I got a riding lawn mower.  I can't help but to smile at all the times I've mowed and the number of times I expected that it would be my last time.  I didn't get that feeling Monday night.

The grass here isn't the same as the grass back home in upstate NY.  It's not beautiful, lush, Kentucky Bluegrass that invites you to lie down and roll in it.  It's Bermuda grass - the texture is far more coarse so I suppose it's just perfect for the desert.  The good news is that it still smells good when it's freshly cut.  And, it'll be good for Maggie.

The reason I mention it at all is that I woke up this morning and I have bug bites on my arms.  I have 5 of them on my right arm, and 3 down by my left wrist.  We don't get mosquitoes much here in the desert but I'm hoping I somehow got bit in the 15 minutes it took me to mow.  The only other explanation is that I got bitten last night while I was sleeping.  I'll admit that the thought of bugs crawling on me and biting me while I'm asleep creeps me out a little.

Reports from NCTE Lobby Day are coming out slowly but surely.  There was a long article in the Washington Blade about it.  There are quite a few photos from the reception at the Washington Press Club there, too.  Diana from CT has already blogged about her lobbying experience (read it here).  I expect that there will be more.  I've heard unsubstantiated rumors that I don't believe ("Believe nothing of what you hear....") and attribute that more to misunderstanding than misinformation.

The most important part of the Blade article, I thought, was the sub-headline for the story.  "Visitors from 29 states ask lawmakers to oppose gay-only ENDA".  If accurate, this is a big deal.  Last year we Lobbied about why lawmakers should support a fully-inclusive ENDA.  From the sound of things, this year that was happening too.  But at the same time, lawmakers were being urged to oppose anything less.  I'm told that the mood was upbeat and positive which is a very good sign.  I must admit I was curious what the overall tenor would be like.

A significant event from this week (that I feel has gone under-reported) is the departure of Matt Foreman as Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Task Force (details here).  The Task Force is the second largest national GLBT advocacy organization (after you-know-who) and, in my opinion, is well poised to pick up significant ground on it's bigger, less scrupulous cousin.  The Task Force is a much more grass-roots kind of organization whose concerns aren't strictly limited to GLBT concerns.  They recognize the inter-dependency of many of our social woes and often stray way outside the GLBT safe-zone.  I really respect Matt and the Task Force for that.  They've taken heat for it by those who can't see the connection but they haven't been timid about speaking up for higher ideals for ALL. 

Matt's voice was often the principal voice for United ENDA and the Task Force has been steadfast in their support for ONLY fully-inclusive legislation.  They are the Ying to the HRC Yang.  As a result, because of the pivotal point in time and the pivotal role they play the choice of their next Executive Director has much broader impacts than many might realize.  I've said for quite a while now that the biggest shortcoming of Joe S. at the helm of HRC at this point in time is that the broader community truly needed an inspirational leader of extreme moral character who could unite and inspire trust.  Joe has undeniably proven himself to be an effective (and ruthless) lobbyist but few people I know would use the words "inspirational", "moral character", "unite", or "trust" in the same sentence as Mr. Joe.  I'm probably not saying anything more than the obvious, but it's just not there.

As most have probably noticed an organization tends to take on the personality of its leadership.  I'll just leave it at that....

If and when The Task Force finds that leader to take its helm, watch out.  The dynamics of the broader GLBT advocacy landscape will shift.  I only hope it happens sooner rather than later.

Speaking of shifting - I expect that there will be some significant shifting in my own life in the coming weeks.  It's a big adjustment to have to think about someone/something else when you've been on your own for quite a while.  Bringing another life into your own forces you to stop to consider other things before making decisions.  I'm just at the front end of that, but I can already see changes ahead.


Monday, April 14, 2008

9:00pm:   I've got a couple of significant things to share tonight.

The first is that I'm finally starting to use my "other" blog for more than just testing.  I wrote something there today about HRC and the Houston Dinner from this past weekend that I think is worth reading (I posted an updated version of it on Bilerico).  And, I did a post there yesterday titled "Puppy Love".  In it there's a photo of a couple of young Australian Shepherd pups.  I stopped out to visit them today and adopted the one on the left (the light one) - I actually bring her home his weekend. (see my other blog). 

Who do you think the first person I called when I got in the car to drive home?  My ex-wife.  We talked for over an hour and even agreed on a name (we have a thing for M names - Molly, Murphy).  I think we've agreed that she looks like a Maggie, and I'm even going to bring her over there on Sunday to visit.  That's an unexpected turn - puppies have some unexplainable magical power or something.  Bringing an 8-week old puppy into my life is a big, big deal and will lead to some needed restructuring and re-prioritizing.  Mark my words.

BTW - I updated my Upcoming Events page to reflect my calendar for the rest of the year.  I'll try to keep it updated and current.

I have allowed the wave of response to pregnant trans-man Thomas Beatie to rise and fall without much comment.  There has been the nasty garbage that you'd expect as well as some supportive, positive stuff.  The Beaties have been mercifully quiet and unavailable which has given things some time to quiet down. 

There was an article in yesterday's Boston Globe by a conservative columnist named Jeff Jacobey titled "Pregnant, yes - but not a man".  In it you'll find the same tired misuse of pronouns, attacks on Mr. Beatie's gender, reminders that Gender Identity Disorder is listed in the DSMIV, and comparisons to polygamist sex and incest that we've come to expect.  He doesn't leave many stones unturned.

Gender Identity Disorder is not "incredible," no matter how politically fashionable it has become to claim otherwise. It is not just another hue in the rainbow of diversity. It is a dysfunction. It should be met with sympathy, counseling, and therapy, not with five-page spreads in People and appearances on "Oprah."

Headlines notwithstanding, there is no "pregnant man." There is only a confused and unsettled woman, who proclaims that surgery, hormones, and clothing made her a man, and is clinging to that fiction even as the baby growing in her womb announces her womanhood to the world.

I have no problem with Mr. Jacobey sharing his opinions with the world other than to lament the fact that we don't all have platforms like the Boston Globe from which to send our message. The good news is that it doesn't really matter what he thinks, whether he accepts Thomas Beatie as a man or not, or even that he's got an opinion on the subject at all.  He doesn't get to make those decisions or to define who or what any of us are. No matter how loud he screams or how many cliches he adds nothing that he says or does will change that.  I personally take great joy in celebrating my trans-ness to people like him and I feel no need whatsoever to argue with them.  Sometimes, a simple little "ki$$ my a$$" smile is all it takes.

To all the NCTE Lobby Day participants who will be heading to Capitol Hill tomorrow - best of luck to you.  Thousands of us who wish we could there are with you in spirit.  If you feel like sharing your Lobby Day experience feel free to sent it along.  I'm happy to post whatever I get here.

One last thing.  When I was at IFGE a little over a week go I used one of the computers in the lobby (the one closest to the front desk).  I have a little USB drive that I carry in my purse that had a document that I needed so I put it into the USB slot on the back of the computer.  Needless to say, I forgot it.  I've called the hotel about it and they transferred me to lost and found but so far - nothing.  If you live in Tucson and ever travel near the Doubletree I'd be interested to know whether it's sill in the back of the computer or not (It's a Cruizer Mini).  There's some stuff on there that I'd rather not lose...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

8:30am:   I expect I'll have another entry later but may as well start the day by saying a couple of things so I don't forget.

Obviously, I'm not in Washington DC at the moment.  NCTE Lobby Days happen tomorrow and Tuesday and despite my best intentions I just can't get away from work to be there.  I've got major stakeholders from NYC coming to town this week and have critical meetings that it would be very difficult for me to miss. It seems self-defeating to come to Washington to lobby against transgender workplace discrimination and to lose my job in the process - there's a balance there and this is one of those times when I don't get to do what I want.  The thing I can provide most is moral support, so for those who will be participating know that I'm there with you in spirit.  If anyone who is there wants to send me updates on how things go and their thoughts I'd be appy to post them here.

NCTE is hosting a reception to honor the 6 members of Congress who are with us, and who voted against the non-inclusive ENDA specifically because it wasn't inclusive.  These heroes were punished for this by receiving a negative score on HRC's Congressional Scorecard.

NCTE Honors Seven Members of Congress on April 14
at reception at the National Press Club

(Washington, DC)- On Monday, April 14, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) will honor Rep. Jerrold Nadler and the other six members of Congress who stood unwavering in their support of gender identity protections. During last year's disappointing setback in the work to pass a unified Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), seven members of Congress remained true to their commitment to only support legislation that covered all LGBT people. By standing up for the broadest protections, they demonstrated their courage and commitment to ensuring that all people in this country should live free from discrimination.


NCTE will honor the Representatives for their steadfast work as allies. Representative Jerrold Nadler, of New York, will be present to receive his award and address the gathering. Also being recognized are Representatives Nydia Velasquez (New York), Rush Holt (New Jersey), Michael Michaud (Maine), Anthony Weiner (New York), Edolphus Towns (New York), and Yvette Clarke (New York).


"Achieving human rights in America is not only about people standing up and demanding to be treated with justice and dignity, it is also about working together with others who share our passion for equality," commented Mara Keisling, NCTE's Executive Director. "We are very proud to acknowledge Jerry Nadler for his long-time, rock solid support of the LGBT community. These members of Congress have consistently shown themselves to be outstanding and unwavering advocates for a more just, fair and safe America for all, including transgender people."


Representative Nadler began his political career in 1976 in the New York State Assembly.  In 1992, Nadler was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a special election and in 2007 was given the honor of serving as the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.  Throughout his career, Nadler has been a champion of a host of progressive issues and is considered an unapologetic defender of those who might otherwise be forgotten. He is especially respected for his creative and pragmatic legislative approaches to problems. 


Monday's reception is entitled, "Moving Forward Together," and is an annual event when NCTE honors organizations and individuals who have made significant contributions as allies to the movement for transgender equality. There are still tickets available for the event, which will be held at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. More information is available at Moving Forward Together.

The fact that there were mounted police at the HRC protest in Houston last night is already getting quite a bit of attention. I can't wait to see some photos of this - I hope someone took some.  I'd also like to hear how many of the local politicos attended (and conversely, how many did not).

Upcoming HRC Dinners - in the next few weeks - for those who are interested:

City Date
Denver (I spoke at this 2 years ago) April 26
Atlanta May 3
New Orleans May 17

Most cities in this country hold their PRIDE celebrations in June.  Here in Phoenix it gets too hot in June to have people outdoors like that so we hold ours early.  It's going on this weekend.  Yesterday, they held the PRIDE Parade through downtown Phoenix.  One of the grand-marshals this year is Regina Wells, a local trans-woman who started a halfway house for homeless transgender women.  For those who are interested, there are pics of yesterday's festivities in the local paper today (see a slideshow here).  As usual, it looks very colorful.

It may come as a surprise to some but most trans-people in my experience don't have much (as in - none) interest in PRIDE events.  We always see drag-queens as part of the overall "scene" but most of the people that I know who self-identify as trans wouldn't cross the street to visit a PRIDE.  Many of us don't feel comfortable there for one reason or another.  Some don't feel welcome.  Some don't feel any affinity whatsoever with what happens there.  And many are just plain uncomfortable in that kind of a scene.  I get that.  Part of the fallacy of "GLBT" is that we all have some kind of shared queer background when, in fact, most of the trans-people I know have absolutely zero. Many are raised in a straight world so suddenly being thrust into a queer one can have any number of implications.  I was no naive about this stuff that I had no clue as to what a rainbow flag meant until I went to San Francisco for my FFS and was strolling around the Castro.  I have attended several PRIDEs around the country and particularly enjoyed Atlanta and Austin.  

I need to go and finish my taxes.  Safe travels to all who are going to Washington DC for Lobby Day.

11:00am:   Phyllis sent some photos from the HRC Dinner protest in Houston from last evening.  Somehow, as I look at all this ill-advised overkill aimed at transgender people who remain justifiably angry about HRC's actions around ENDA last fall, and at the ongoing disrespect we face at the highest levels of the organization, one phrase pops into my mind: Don't taze me, Bro!

Crowd Barricades

Mounted Police



Thank God I'm not a tax-payer in Houston.  I can't imagine having to pay for this.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

9:30pm:   As I typed the date at the beginning of this entry I realized that tomorrow is my ex-wife's birthday.  That normally wouldn't spark much interest any more except for the fact that she surprised me by calling me on my birthday to give good wishes.  I'll do the same for her tomorrow.

I had one of these deep discussions with a friend at the IFGE Conference in Tucson last week about love.  She believes that love doesn't end - that once it's there it endures.  I, on the other hand, don't believe that for a second.  Love is like a plant - when it's nurtured it thrives, when it's neglected and kept in darkness it dies.  There was a time when I had far more romantic notions about the endurance of love, commitment, and the entire notion of "soul-mates".  I've explained before that life experience has replaced them with more realistic and manageable expectations.  That said, however, I hope to meet someone somewhere someday who renews my faith in some of those things....

One thing I'll be writing about shortly are some of the life skills that I have found have been helpful for me while navigating the sometimes difficult waters of finding inner peace as a transgender person.  We tend to focus on things specifically dealing with the gender aspects but other things: anger management, discipline, dealing with fear, being able to go with the flow, self-awareness - they're all critical for getting through difficult times in general and coming to terms with being transgender certainly applies in that regard.  Sometimes it's important to brush up on life skills in order to face life challenges.

I was sitting in the restaurant at the Doubletree in Tucson having breakfast with Marti Abernathy last Sunday and someone approached the table to chat.  I don't remember the specifics of the conversation other than she told me how happy she was to wake up each morning as her authentic self and she liked to start her day by listening to a song that symbolized her happiness.  I was truly happy for her, and told her that I often start my my morning with music, too.  But the morning music that tends to fill my car as I drive across the Valley is generally harsher and darker than that.  I explained her one of my favorite early-morning make-yer-ears-bleed tunes is "Break Stuff" by Limp Bizkit.  She had never heard of it but Marti obviously had.  (watch the video for it here).  Sometimes, it just fits.

Speaking of IFGE, one thing in particular that struck me this year were the number of supportive spouses and significant others there.  I can't even imagine a world where my ex-wife would have been supportive in any way, shape, or form - much less go to one of these conferences.  But every year we're seeing more and more people who share this journey and who learn about their own selves in the process.  It fills me with hope that more of us can avoid the pain of losing loving, committed relationships to people who never even gave us a chance.  Congratulations and thanks to all the amazing couples and families there.

My dear friends at Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA) have launched a fund-raising drive.  TYFA works with trans youth and their families and recent visibility has stretched them to the limit.  They need $$$ to continue to do what they do so well, and the work they're doing is so so important. The minimum donation is only $15.  In my way of thinking if most of the 1,000 or so people who visit here every day can donate $15 to a specific worthy, under-funded, cause every couple of months we can turn into quite the army of philanthropists.  The link to donate to TYFA is here.  They've already raised a little over $1,000 so far.  Let's see if we can't help push them over the $5,000 mark by the time it ends on April 20. Thanks for helping.

Phyllis Frye has already sent an update on the protest at the HRC Dinner in Houston tonight.  It reads as follows:

Phyllabuster: HRC goes petty: directs security to escort educators out

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) just got more petty and immature in responding to protests of its actions last fall that clearly divided a once united GLBT community.

As we arrived at the site for the Houston protest of the HRC fundraiser this Saturday, April 12th afternoon, we were told by hotel security that HRC had changed its mind about our attempts to educate.

We would be allowed to enter (without signs or banners, which we had never planned to bring inside). If we went directly to the event located on the second floor, we could hand out our lapel stickers that read, "GLBT & ENDA: United, Not Divided: I Support FULL Transgender Inclusion." And we could engage in conversation and educate those people who wanted to listen and learn.

So we walked around, outside the hotel for over an hour, carrying signs and visiting with each other. It was very festive.

The Houston Police gave us NO trouble. There were two very minor incidents where officers got a bit testy, but when I called their OIC, those officers were told they were wrong and to stop being testy with us. The rest of the force were very polite to us.

We joked amongst ourselves that we hardly warranted the riot barricades or the eight horse-mounted officers or the other preparations and personnel. But the police felt it was better to be prepared than not.

The hotel had a guard at each door and along several parts of the sidewalk. They had placed traffic cones everywhere.

It was surreal -- all that effort for just little ole, inoffensive us.

After we had watched a lot of folks enter for the HRC event and it approached the planned 6 PM beginning, three of us entered the hotel, prepared to chat and educate for the hour before the 7 PM dinner, using our stack of 3 x 2 lapel stickers to initiate conversation.

We were met at the top of the escalator by an HRC official wearing a cream colored business skirt and coat. I asked if this was the HRC event area, and she said yes. So I offered someone a lapel sticker. I was immediately corrected, "No, not here, but here (she was indicating a place 18 inches away on the other side of a rope). Hotel security was poised nearby.

So we walked along the rope to an opening and around to the other side of the rope. I then offered another lapel sticker. An HRC man with a pink tie, a pink vest and dyed blonde hair (clearly who would be discriminated against on the basis of "gender expression") said, "No, not here, but here (pointing us back to the initial place that we had just left).

I pulled out my cell phone. Immediately, the HRC guy told the hotel security to escort us out of the hotel. An event photographer took a photo as the hotel security closed and asked us to leave. There was no hustle. The security was polite. But we had to leave at HRC's direction and insistence!

So we did our gig outside until 7 PM. The weather was beautiful. During this part of our gig when we had planned to be inside educating, some friends drove up and lowering their window, asked how it was going. I told them about being escorted out at the direction of HRC when I began to offer lapel stickers. Our friends took a stack of lapel stickers and said, "They won't ask us to leave!"

As our group was packed up and leaving, I got a phone call that HRC had finally agreed to allow us to come in now -- after 7 PM, when all the cocktail chatty and education time was finished and folks would be sitting down to eat and hear a program. Or we could come back at 10 PM to offer folks our stickers as they left the event.

After being jerked around by HRC for the past hour, we were not about to submit ourselves to another trick or lie. We left to refresh and reflect at the nearby eatery.

NOTE: Protests against HRC are being planned for New Orleans and Phoenix. I will send info when I get it.

Oy.  I expect there will be more on this in coming days.  Friends from Austin, Killeen, and up near Dallas traveled to Houston to participate. 

Changing gears - I got quite a bit accomplished today.  I'm almost caught up on email which is a miracle considering how far behind I was.  My car got new brakes.  I ran 5 miles.  I met with someone teetering at the front end of her transition for coffee.  I did a shopping and spent an hour browsing shoes at DSW. I had a nice low carb dinner and spent some time tinkering on my "other" blog (it's coming along - still need to be able to upload photos before I flip the switch).   Those are the mundane things that make a peaceful Saturday. 

I'll close tonight by sharing something I saw on my run today.  There was a family of ducks in one of the small ponds outside a bank.  I couldn't help but stop and take a picture.  I may not believe in endless love, and I may listen to some edgy music from time to time, but I'm still a romantic at heart (and I'm a sucker for fuzzy little ducklings!)....


Friday, April 11, 2008

6:30am:   The first thing that popped into my fuzzy brain when I woke up this morning is that it's Friday - almost the weekend - and I'm in the comfort of my own bed for a change.  What a concept!  So, as I sip my first cup of morning coffee I have a couple of thoughts to share.

The first is to add something to Mr. Joe's statement that he underestimated the level of pain that their ENDA decision would cause.  Even if you can believe that, has anyone seen anything resembling compassion or contrition from Joe or the organization at any time since last fall?  The appropriate response for causing that kind of pain should have been to offer a public apology to the entire GLBT community for being the source of that pain, acknowledging that promises were broken and that many in the family are feeling angry and betrayed.  To me that's a no-brainer (plus, it's just good manners), especially for a group that considers itself a "Human Rights" organization.  These kinds of organizations have an extra core responsibility to be (or at least, to appear) Compassionate to people it wants to believe are part of its family.  Unfortunately, the organization's compassion is in the same place that it's integrity, its credibility, its relevance, and its right to speak in any way, shape, or form on trans issues is.  It's gone.  They call the police on people who are upset about it and who want to have a voice.  Who's responsible for that?  Leadership.  Joe is.  In the interview Joe recognizes that the way to begin the healing isn't through words, but through action.  I'm stating the obvious here, but this isn't the kind of action that will achieve that.

So, if you distill all those words down into a short single sentence it would read something like: "We didn't realize the level of hurt that our ENDA decision would cause but we stand by it and, in fact, will do it again."  The rest is just window dressing.

I've said in the past that I won't focus on negatives and I meant it.  So, here's a positive suggestion.  HRC can convene something it could call "ENDA Together" or something similar and actually try to engage transgender leaders to be part of the process.  They could actually engage transgender communities at the steering committee level to proactively develop educational opportunities so they don't have to call the police to keep us away.  They could be more forthcoming in working as a collaborative partner rather than dictating to us what they'll allow or do. There has been no effort to engage as equals, and everything that happens is suspect because it's done behind a veil of secrecy.  I've suggested many of these things before and nothing has happened.  So, when Joe says that healing will come through actions not through words I'm wondering specifically what actions he's talking about.  The non-actions so far speak volumes.

Autumn Sundeen wrote an entry on Pam's House Blend titled "Which Democratic Candidate Would Fight Harder for a Trans-Inclusive ENDA?"  Based on recent statements, she concludes that neither would.  I agree.  That's not to say that both wouldn't prefer it, but neither is willing to put the weight of their office behind it.  That doesn't dull my commitment or my confidence that the right thing will happen, or diminish my efforts to help get us there.  As with my transition, I've learned that the things you appreciate most in life are the things you have to work hardest to achieve.  I'm fully confident that a fully-inclusive ENDA will be one of those things, and it will be a lasting legacy to future generations of us that speaks as much about value and self-worth as it does about employment discrimination. 

Lastly, I got an email yesterday from Dr. Jillian Weiss who many of us know and respect for her wonderful workplace leadership.  It says:

Hi - I've got a reporter interested in writing an article on transition in the small business environment. She would like to talk to employers and/or persons who transitioned in a small business environment. That would include everything from a tiny organization to $100 million in sales. If you know someone who might be interested, give me a shout.

Contact her if you want more information.  Her email is

I need to get the day going.  Happy Friday to all....


Thursday, April 10, 2008

10:00pm:   Michigan is in the spotlight tonight for a couple of reasons:

Speaking of HRC, their Houston gala happens this weekend.  Houston is home to Phyllis Frye, and if there's anyone who's frustration with HRC exceeds my own it's Phyllis.  She has been planning a protest event at the dinner for weeks.  If you could see behind the scenes you'd see an operation that looks almost like a SWAT assessment of entrances, access points, command centers, and opportunities.  She's not shy about sharing it all, either, and a recent Phyllibuster email went out with all the details.  Apparently, someone in HRC Central wasn't happy about it and called the Houston Police who paid a visit to Ms. Frye.  Monica Roberts explains in detail on Bilerico.

Earlier this week some of the local trans community approached 2 Board Members in Houston hoping to set up an educational initiative similar to the one that was so successfully done in Austin earlier this year.  They were told that if HRC allows them to do that then they'll have to do it for other groups who might ask, as well.  You guessed it - they were denied.

I'm wondering if the soon-to-be-hired Transgender Diversity person could or would have been able to help them avert these two blunders.

One other topic...

There was a story on NPR today about the transgender talk-show host in India (read/hear it here).  When do you think we'll have something similar in this country.  In our lifetime?

With that - it's time for bed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

11:30pm:   As I have mentioned in the past, as a GLAAD Board Member I receive an email every day to something called The Interface that is  vault of GLBT news/opinion/media from around the country.  One particular story from yesterday that begs discussion was a multimedia segment from The View on Thomas Beatie, the pregnant trans man.

Barbara Walters indicates that she spoke with the couple over the weekend and, as she says, "they have some fears, to say the least."  But the rest of what she says he says couldn't be more false and stinks of self-indulgent hypocracy. 

"I found them very sweet and naive" Barbara says.  "They had no idea that this was going to cause a stir.....He thought that this would help people understand.  They don't see anything strange about this."  Does anyone anywhere believe this?  Even for a second??  They knew all too well the ruckus that this would cause and, in fact, did what they could to orchestrate it.  Understand this well - during the weeks before the initial interview in the Advocate every major GLBT group in this country tried to talk him out of going pubic with this because everyone knew where this was going to go.  That effort is a story in and of itself and the lengths to which these efforts went are truly remarkable.  The Beaties didn't want to hear any of it and had their mind set from the beginning. 

Barbara continues: "What they are worried about now is the legal ramifications.  Are they legally married?   The greatest threat to them is that their marriage could be taken away - they never thought that would be a possibility.  Could the IRS come after them?  They filed joint returns - if their marriage is dissolved what happens to that?   What about their life insurance, inheritance, all these different things.  What's going to be on the birth certificate when the baby is born?  "  When one of the other hosts questions "Shouldn't they have thought about these things before they got pregnant?"  Barbara responds - "None of this occurred to them." 

Bullsh*t it didn't.  Every single one of these things, and more, was explained to them in painstaking detail.  They just didn't want to hear it, or believe that it could actually happen.  To feign ignorance at this point strips any sense of (a) credibility and (b) sympathy that they may at one time had and is an insult to people who may now find themselves affected by this mess.  I completely support their right to get pregnant in non-traditional ways.  I even support their right to make their story public.  What I can't find a way to support is crass commercialism masquerading as more virtuous motivation, and lies served as feigned ignorance over the the ramifications.  The key concept here, as it is throughout much of my writing , is accountability.  What a mess.

My fellow Bilerico contributor Marti shared her IFGE experience online today (read it here).

My big-sister, Kate, called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me about a movie that she had just seen on the Sundance Channel called "Red Without Blue".  It's sort of a documentary about a couple of twin boys and at one point one of them decides to transition (see the IMDB entry here).  She thought is was very well done.  Anyway, the entire movie is available online for those who have a little time on their hands (70 minutes).  Watch the movie here.  It's worth watching.

Speaking of watching - I've been surfing on YouTube a little and there are some interesting, fun videos.  Somehow, I always end up veering towards music.  Anyway - here are a few I came across in 10 minutes of looking:

This stuff can be addicting.  Good thing I'm heading off to bed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

11:30pm:   I don't know why I'm still up - I should have been in bed an hour ago.  I went out with a group of other women from work for Happy Hour and didn't get home until 9 which makes for a long day.  Somehow I usually need a bit of a "wind-down" period after I get home so that's what this is.

The day had a wonderful beginning.  I left the house fairly early to drop a friend who has been visiting off at the airport, and stopped for breakfast and one of my favorite little places in Scottsdale.  I bumped into someone from Dr. Meltzer's office who I haven't seen in quite a while there and enjoyed catching up with her over coffee and an omelet before heading to Scottsdale Community College for my 9am talk there.  The talk went fine and I was at work for my noon meeting.  The rest of the day just seemed to flow, as well.

I've been seriously investigating replacing this trusty "do-it-yourself" blog with a more formal blog for quite some time now, as I've discussed in the past.  Although I get close to actually making it happen and even started what I consider a testing period I find I'm not familiar enough with the tools to overcome what I perceive as limitations to make the final cut-over so I never actually do it.  So, I'm still on this home-grown thing with which I've become comfortable, but that in many ways needs to retire.  The bottom line is that the move to DonnaBlog 2.0 is nearly at hand.  At least I think it is....

Since returning from IFGE I've installed a blog package on  It was a relatively painless process the new Blog page is up and running in the background.  The next step is to choose a "theme" for it from one of the thousands available.  That has proven to be time-consuming as there are several that appeal to me and would work but I haven't found one that has everything I'd like yet.  One of the keys for me is to keep it simple - I don't like blog pages that are cluttered with too much stuff.  The minimalist in me stresses the fact that most of the blog page needs to be available to for content and fancy graphics, fonts, or other fluffery are more of a distraction than an asset.

I'll be testing various themes over the next few days so if you want to get a preview what I'm looking at feel free to visit it:  My friend Marti knows about these things and has been very patient and helpful in explaining some of the more technical aspects and answering my questions so I expect she'll be hearing from me later today.  I hope to make the decisions that need to be made by the beginning of next week and on the new platform by then.

Before leaving I do want to say something about this transgender Diversity position that HRC is interviewing for.  I've had several people email me to ask my opinion.  Honestly and truly - I have no opinion other than to be careful.  I can see any number of reasons that it would be a good thing just as I can see any number of reasons that it won't.  I'm probably not a good person to ask because I continue to have strong emotional feelings about what happened, both to me personally as well as to our broader community, last fall.  I do my best to control them but to be perfectly honest very little, if anything, has happened since then to change them.  Time has certainly not dulled them.  I've just gotten better at being quiet about it.

This position has been in the works for a couple of years and there was a time when I would have been tremendously excited about the potential it provides.  Although it is still very much needed across the broader scope of Foundation programs any excitement about it has been drained for me.  Everything the organization does with regards to transgender work has been tainted in the mind of the broader community.  Any shred of credibility is gone, so the first thing that always comes to mind is to wonder what ulterior motive is at play, or when the next pivotal decision point will unmask it all for what it is.  I'm a positive person and wish I could offer a brighter perspective, but I'm not the one who caused all this.

In my resignation letter I stated that "Principle is not for compromise".  I believe that to my core.  I continue to hold the organization accountable for its actions and the word "immoral" has come from my lips more than once.  There are people I know, some of whom I consider dear friends, who have found a way around that and that's for them to reconcile with themselves.  I'm comfortable with the path I'm on right now and until something changes I'll stay on it.  I have effectively rendered HRC to be irrelevant in my world, finding other collaborative dance partners with whom to work on the efforts we all hold dear.  A significant learning from last fall is that there is a significant un-balance of power across the GLBT advocacy landscape so anything I can do to raise others in that equation is healthy.  My own personal strategy in that regard is to raise others up rather than to tear HRC down.  They don't need my help to do that.  They can do it themselves just fine.

Back to the question of his particular position - they're already on the second round of interviews.  If you're interested and pursuing this, good luck.  I can't say enough nice things about the folks in the Diversity organization.  All I can offer to you is (a) if you don't have thick skin, grow some because you'll need it and (b) be careful what you ask for. 

 Monday, April 7, 2008

10:30pm:   I'm in the process of resuming my efforts to move my blog to a more conventional blog platform.  I've grown comfortable using the rudimentary tools at my disposal here but it's time to make the move.  I've got a couple of options and expect to do this sometime in the next week or so.  Stay tuned.

One of the local Tucson television stations did a report from IFGE last week:

I'm giving a talk for a class at Scottsdale Community College tomorrow.  I did it a couple of years ago and enjoyed it.  The professor saw an article about me in the local paper and tracked me down.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

10:30pm:   I did something this afternoon that I haven't done in I-don't-know-how-long.  I took a nap.  I got home from IFGE in Tucson (only 100 miles away) sat down, realized how tired I was, and crawled into bed for a couple of hours.  It was wonderful; apparently I was more tired than I realized.

I met some wonderful people at the conference.  Some I've spoken with online.  Others I was just fortunate enough to bump into, or came up to me to introduce themselves.  It makes me think back to how many of the people I consider dear friends at this stage of my life I first met at conferences like these.  In addition to making new friends it's gratifying to see how far people I've met in previous years have come in their own journeys.  We often talk about community.  In a very real sense, in a way it's about family.

One thing happened in particular at this conference that I feel compelled to comment about.  During lunch on Saturday a number of individual awards called the Trinity Awards.  IFGE identifies their Trinity Awards as honoring the transgender community’s heroes and heroines, people who have performed extraordinary acts of courage and love.  I was humbled to be given a Trinity Award at IFGE last year.

One of the winners this year is a personal friend who I respect and admire for 20+ years of dedicated service to the community.  Her comments, however, seem to represent the thinking of an older time and, in fact, landed with a resounding thud (that's an understatement) on the assembled 300+ people attending the lunchtime ceremony.  The initial thrust of her words were that transgender people need to integrate into broader society - something I think most of us can agree with to varying degrees.  But when she said that trans-men needed to put on suits and join the local Rotary and the Lion Club, and trans-women needed to look and behave like women so they could join women's groups like the National Organization of Women, there was an audible groan - me included.

A message of conforming to stereotypes is something that, perhaps, at one time made sense.  Transgender people faded into society out of necessity.  However, we've matured and our perceptions of ourselves and the broader ideals at play have changed.  The message of today has evolved from simply being about gender to a broader one of freedom  and about self.  It is about breaking free from binaries and stereotypes to simply be whoever you are.  To judge anyone as not being, looking, or acting appropriately "manly" or "womanly" enough based on someone's arbitrary standard of gender would be to stoop to the same stale stereotypes so many of us work so hard to break. 

This Trinity Award winner deserves thanks and respect for all she has achieved.  She announced "retirement" from activism to pursue more personal goals - something I think we all aspire to do at some point.  I wish her the best in that. 

All in all, my conference experience was an enjoyable one.  The weather was as close to perfect as you can get.  The hotel was very nice - quiet, comfortable beds, beautiful grounds, friendly staff.  The presenters and topics were diverse.  A number of people who came for the conference extended their stays to visit the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Prescott, and any number of the places and sights we enjoy here.  I had more than one person comment that they hope IFGE returns here sometime soon.  Apparently, it's scheduled to be in Washington DC (or, more accurately - Alexandria, VA) over the next couple of years but I'd love to see an opportunity for a late winter/early spring event here in Arizona.  Perhaps that's something worth seriously thinking about.

One new friend posted something on her blog about the event.  More specifically, it was about me at the conference (read it here).  Her kind words are certainly appreciated and I can't help but smile about all the events of the past few days.  I've been on the Atkins Diet for the past couple of weeks so I'm proud at avoiding the cheese cake, the chocolate cake, and the various other temptations over the past few days (including alcohol, although I generally find these things more fun with a drink or two).  From doing balancing work and conference on Thursday and Friday to the event at Old Tucson Studio to hanging out with friends to going for a run around the park across the street from the hotel - no wonder I needed a nap this afternoon.  :)

Others are already sharing their thoughts of events and experiences here, as well.  For those of us who consider ourselves "veterans" of these kinds of things it's easy to overlook the profound impact that they can and do have on people attending for the first time, and there were lots of first-timers there.  One such glimpse is provided by Jason, an FTM who maintains a blog of his experiences and who attended IFGE on Thursday and Friday (read his thoughts here).  Kudos to Jason for his honesty and his willingness to share.

I'll close by sharing a couple of the photos I was taking when Lori caught up with me by the gardens (as she explained in her blog).  There's always time to slow down to appreciate the beauty of nature - I couldn't let it pass without capturing it.  Welcome to Springtime in the Desert.....


Saturday, April 5, 2008

7:30am:   Remember a few weeks ago when HRC was nominated for a "Pink Brick" Award by the San Francisco Pride Committee?  The Award is awarded annually to people or organizations who have proven themselves to be particularly unfriendly to the GLBT community.    The "winner" of the award was announced last week, and is media loudmouth Bill O'Reilly.  His is consistently ignorant about pretty much everything he talks about, as exemplified by his most recent comments about pregnant trans-man Thomas Beatie - (see it here). MSNBC was particularly ignorant, as well  (see it here).  They're certainly not alone and it's certainly not unexpected but it hasn't been as bad as I expected.  If you really want some fun go to Oprah's website and look at the comments people have posted about the show.  She's got a whole little section dedicated to the show (see it here) so if you missed it and want to see a clip or some photos - that's the place.

The Kansas City city council unanimously voted to expand the city's non-discrimination policy to include transgender people (details here).

The IFGE Conference is going well.  Jamison Green provided the text of his opening keynote (read it here). I'm doing a workshop late this afternoon, and have been asked to be the MC at the dinner this evening.  We'll see how that goes....

Gotta run again.  My electrologist and dear friend, Maria, is presenting a workshop at 9:15 that I wouldn't miss for anything.  :)


Friday, April 4, 2008

4:30pm:   I had a full work-day today.  Somehow, it all came together.  The good news is that I camped myself out on the restaurant veranda where I could enjoy the spring warmth, the fragrant spring air, all of the color, and just generally soak up the day.  Although Fridays are busy work days, the fact I could to most of it outdoors made it almost actually fun.

Now I can concentrate on what's left of the Conference - after I go for a run.

Here are a couple of photos from the conference so far.  The one on the left is from Old Tucson Studios last night (Dr. Michelle Angelo, Monica from Colage, me), and the other is from lunch today (Dr. Christine McGinn and her girlfriend, me, Dr. Angelo).  If you're here and you've seen me over the past couple of days I most likely have been attached to my laptop.  It's time for the weekend to begin!

The downside is that I've been on Atkins since Easter so I'm high protein/very low carbs right now.  That means no alcohol, even though an ice cold Margarita is feeling like it's just what the doctor ordered to cap off the week.  <Sigh>.  Oh well. 

I'll have more stuff later.  I need to get out for my run before it gets too late.

6:30am:   This entry will be short and sweet because I've got to get the day going.

I arrived in Tucson for the 2008 IFGE Conference yesterday morning.  At the opening Plenary yesterday the mayor of Tucson welcomed everyone and warned about rattle snakes and other desert critters that take a vacation in the winter but reappear in the spring.  And, the keynote was delivered by Jamison - all about welcoming diversity in our community - and it was as always - powerful and on target.

I've been balancing my need to stay plugged into things going on at work and things happening here at the conference which doesn't make me happy but it's the reality of the need for balance in my world right now.  Lots is happening there and I need to manage it - it's that simple.  I'm fortunate to be able to do it remotely and it's going well so that's not the problem.  It's just that I wish I could focus my complete attention here.  I expect to be able to do that later today.

I spoke during lunch and talked a bit about corporate work before presenting this year's Diversity Award.  I shared some of the exciting things that are coming up, and I spent a few minutes talking about what happened during ENDA and why it was so important.  Anyway - I thought it went well.

The big event of the evening was a trip to Old Tucson studios in the outskirts of the city for an evening of fun.  It's a complete western town that has been used as a movie set in dozens of movies and has all the things you'd expect from a western park - gunfights, dancing girls, etc.  Amanda Simpson and I had our photo taken in saloon girl attire - it's cute.  I'll share it here if I can scan it.

The talk of the day was that Thomas Beatie appeared on Oprah yesterday.  I've seen parts of it and from everything I've seen and heard Oprah did a pretty good job with it.  I'll write more (a) when I have more time and (b) after I've had a chance to see the entire thing.  My friend Eden called afterwards to share her thoughts and provided them in her blog (read it here).  If you want to see more all you need to do is go to Google - it's everywhere.

Before the Oprah show aired  I got an email from a friend who said some unkind things about the Beatie situation.  How it made her ashamed and how she felt she needed to distance herself from it.  I responded to her, and my response is as true now as it was before he was on Oprah:

I agree that everyone has the right to be treated with respect, and that includes Mr. Beatie, his wife, and his child. Mr. Beatie represents many in our community who cannot or choose not to fit into the neat little boxes of masculine and feminine simply for the sake of making other people comfortable. As long as he conducts himself with dignity and respect, he has my total support and I in no way feel that he is anything but courageous and brave.

Culture change starts with expanding the discussion of what is "normal". Whether it's interracial marriage, or women in the workplace, or any number of other things that we accept as commonplace today there has got to be a first. I understand that many will seize upon this opportunity to ridicule, to question, to attack, and to undermine many of the things we struggle to achieve. However we cannot abandon brothers and sisters simply because they're trying to achieve the same things that others take for granted - they just take a bit of a different path to get there..

I find it to be the height of hypocrisy that the message of the day is "education", that we need to tell our stories, but in the same breath there are those who would decide which stories are "normal" enough to be told. Our experience is broad and sometimes overflows the boundaries of traditional or even acceptable. The bottom line here is that Mr. Beatie and his wife wanted a child, she couldn't carry it, he could, they made a decision, and they're proud of that. I can't find anything to fault them about.

I'm sorry if their efforts impact you in negative ways. You know I respect your commitment and your dedication. But at the same time as long as I'm comfortable that Mr. Beatie is doing things for the right reasons he will have my respect and support.

I have a dear friend who is trans and has recently returned to the church.  She goes to a church in her town, and as far as she knows they don't know about her background.  She's very careful around them because she's concerned that, if they find out about her trans history, they won't accept her there any more.  I have asked her more than once how she feels about going to a place where she believes that, if they knew about here, she wouldn't be welcome?  That same concept applies here.  Many of us live in a society where we can hide to varying degrees.  We can escape having to explain our unique histories because society accepts what it sees, and we don't press the issue.  But in reality, what we're saying is that if society knew about us it wouldn't accept us in any number of aspects of our lives.  Going to an unaccepting church or hiding in an unaccepting society are both borne out of the same prejudice and ignorance and if you can frown upon one you have got to frown upon the other. 

Gotta run.  The day is already ahead of me...


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

9:00pm:   There were a couple of stories today on impending events that are worth mentioning.

An Associated Press article implies that Sen. Ted Kennedy is getting ready to move the non-inclusive version of ENDA in the Senate (read it here).  I don't know that this is actually news, as we've known it for quite a while.  The question has never been if, it's when.  He said early on that he expected to introduce whatever version of the bill was passed in the House, and we know how that turned out.  Anyway, the story doesn't indicate any impending movement of the bill but it makes it seem as though something is happening.  Is it a coincidence that this non-news came out in the middle of another, more sensational, trans news frenzy?  Oy.

Speaking of the news frenzy - get ready.  My DVR is already set to record Oprah tomorrow.  There really hasn't been much for the press to write about on this for the last week or so - Thomas has an exclusive agreement with Oprah and People so he's laying low until after the show tomorrow.  That has probably been wise, and if he's smart he'll continue that strategy indefinitely.  In the absence of anything resembling real news, the fact that he'll be on Oprah has become news (see one of the articles here).  Oprah generally treats us with compassion (compared to others) and I can't imagine that she'll be hard on him.  I envision that there will be some kind of a doctor on the show to talk about the medical aspects, and a psychologist to talk about the potential impacts on the child.  That's all just a guess - we'll see how close I am.  I just hope it comes off well.  The implications are enormous.

David Letterman took an opportunity to use his "Top 10 List" last night as "Messages Left on Pregnant Man's Answering Machine".  He called Thomas an "androgynous freak show" - I don't know how anyone can perceive that as funny.  (See it here).  Unfortunately, I expect that kind of crap will be more rampant than any of us wants to believe by the weekend.  I've been getting emails from people back-pedaling from the story for the better part of a week now.  I'm not budging. 

For anyone who is interested, the GLAAD Media Awards in LA are coming up at the end of the month.  They recently announced that Ellen DeGeneres will be presenting the Vanguard Award to Janet Jackson in what promises to be an exciting event at the Kodak Theater (April 1 Press Release here).  I've still got a couple of seats at my table so if you're in the area (or can get there) and want to sit there let me know.  It should be a blast.

Speaking of GLAAD, they announced the release of a College Media Reference Guide today (press release here).  Take a look - it's pretty cool.

There's an interview with comedian Margaret Cho in The Edge in Boston this week.  She'll be performing there over the weekend, and had some important words about the transgender community:

When asked about the marginalization of the transgender community, specifically the lack of female-to-male (F-to-M) portrayals in pop culture, Cho’s tone transforms from playful to passionately articulate.

"They’re the people who face the most homophobia, the most hatred and the most violence," she emotes. "They’re the area of our community that needs to be protected and nurtured the most because of heterosexual fear.’

Read the interview here

Amen, sistah.

I saw a young dog that intrigued me online on Monday.  It was a German Shepard/Golden Lab mix that had been picked up as a stray and was in the custody of the county Animal Control.  I called about it and got some details so I could check back with them after IFGE.  Worried that they might euthanize the poor thing I called back today to see if he was ok.  I was relieved (and a little disappointed) to learn that he had been adopted this morning.

I'll be heading to Tucson to attend IFGE in the morning.  It's too hectic to try to pack and get down there this evening.  I'll be balancing my job and my attendance at the conference for the next couple of days in the unique pull and tug that is my life.  I had meetings from 9 this morning straight thru until 5 this afternoon, and had to meet my son for a quick lunch.  I've got a meeting with the Singapore team in the morning and a couple of other obligations later in the day as well.  Friday is status reporting so I'll be busy making sure that gets done before I show my face much at the conference.  Anyway, my main goal is to get as much video of people sharing their stories as possible so we'll see how it goes.

I booked a vacation today.  A friend wrote to tell me that she made arrangements to go to Hawaii in early July and that her girlfriend can't go so she's got an extra spot.  I've been tracking airfare and it reached a long-time low this morning so I booked it.  I'll be on the Big Island for a week over July 4.  I'm thrilled.  Perhaps it's no coincidence that my last vacation was at Glacier National Park and that, too, was over July 4 this past year.

I've been looking at some of the photos I took while were were at Glacier and am just loving them.  They represent the opposite of frenzy.  In my never ending appreciation of the simple peace and beauty of nature, here are a couple I particularly like because of the colors.  Enjoy -

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

8:00pm:   Happy April Fool's Day.  The good news is that nobody tried to fool me today, and I didn't try to fool anyone either. 

I can only write for a couple of minutes because the crowd is beginning to gather here in AZ for the IFGE Conference in Tucson this week so I've got to go to the airport to pick up some friends.  Tucson is maybe 100 miles from here and I'll most likely head down there this time tomorrow, after work.

I got the job description and other particulars for the HRC Assoc. Director of Diversity that I mentioned yesterday.  Here it is.  I provided Cuc's contact information in yesterday's post so feel free to contact her with questions.  She's one of the best things to happen internally in the organization in a long time.  My diversity co-chair, David Wilson, and I fought long and hard to define the Chief Diversity Officer role and the make sure it reported directly to the President.  We interviewed candidates for the better part of 9 months before we found the perfect person for the job - that's Cuc.  I can't believe she's only been there for a year - it seems like forever ago. Anyway, the job posting will be online shortly.

That's about it for today.  Work is busy, but manageable.  I'm looking forward to the craziness of the conference this weekend (thankfully, it's close to home).  Weather is good.  All things considered, I really can't complain.  :)


Monday, March 31, 2008

8:00pm:   I've got several things to say tonight.

First, I added the 2nd part of the "Hope" series - photos of an Obama poster on an abandoned building in Austin - to my comments from yesterday.  Same theme, different angle.

Speaking of Barack, I wrote to the GLBT steering committee leadership reminding them of my ask to be able to speak with Sen. Obama for a couple of minutes.  They wrote back promptly (a pleasant difference from my experience on the Clinton side of the fence) and assured me it is still being worked and that it is far from dead.  We'll see.

Speaking of politics, a second major "first" occurred last week.  The first first occurred when Diego Sanchez was named to the Platform committee of the Democratic National Convention by DNC Chair Howard Dean (read about it here).  Now, Merissa Richmond has been named as a Delegate to the convention from Tennessee (details here).  Trans people are getting involved in the political process like never before, and we can only hope it pays dividends in the end.  Anyway, congratulations to the always wonderful Merissa. 

I know I've taken a vow of silence with regards to HRC but I'll share something that was forwarded to me - it didn't come directly to me, mind you, but I feel comfortable sharing it.  When I was co-chair of diversity we worked hard to get funding for a role that would provide transgender outreach as part of the Diversity organization.  That has happened, and they're looking for a trans-person to come and work at HRC as an Associate Director of Diversity:

From: Cuc Vu
Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 9:03 PM
Subject: Assoc Dir Job


This is your friend Cuc writing to let you know that HRC has just posted a new Associate Director of Diversity job announcement.  We're looking for a top-notch candidate who will join our Diversity Department team and help HRC advance transgender equality and inclusion through education, outreach and advocacy.  I would really appreciate your help with getting the word out and helping us recruit great candidates!

All my best,


Cuc Vu | Chief Diversity Officer | Human Rights Campaign | 202-572-8966 | 202-772-3880 (fax)
1640 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

There was also a brief paragraph indicating that a job description will be forthcoming (it's not up on their website yet, either). I will forgo any personal opinions other than to say that there was a time when I would have seriously considered something like this there.  Contact Cuc if you want more information.

Speaking of corporate stuff, one of my mantra's between now and the fall will be "Out and Equal".  If you can possibly go - GO.  If you can't go - BEG.  The annual Workplace Summit is a transformative event to anyone who attends, so I urge you to start bugging your HR/Diversity/Management people to get on the list of attendees as soon as possible.  They also offer scholarships to people who can't afford to go so that's a viable route, as well.  They're accepting proposals for workshops so if you've got something to share follow the link and download an application.  The deadline is May 9 so there's still a little time.  I'm happy to help anyone and everyone fine-tune topics you've got on your mind if you'd like some help.  Just say the word.

Since we're on the topic of workshop proposals the Southern Comfort Conference is accepting workshop proposals, too. Here's part of an email I received from them yesterday:

2008 Southern Comfort Conference
September 30th through October 5th 2008

Welcome to the 2008 Southern Comfort Conference preparation process!  Every year you help make this a better and more improved conference; the premier transgender conference in the US and perhaps the world.  This year you have the opportunity to help us be even better.  We are in the same hotel for the conference this year as last and the presentation facilities are excellent.  The planning process for the 2008 conference has begun and our presenters are a crucial part of the success of Southern Comfort.  Every year we make the difficult decisions of presenter selection, scheduling, and topics.  This is the first step and we need your help.
This year, proposals must be submitted at:

 You can cut and paste this link in your browser or just click on it. Please use only this form as it will facilitate publication of our program guide and presenter selection. Click on the “Submit” button at the bottom of the form to submit your proposal. Should you need additional assistance please contact me at

In order for us to complete all preparations for the conference and meet various publication deadlines, your submission is due by MAY 15, 2008. This year there will be NO exceptions to this deadline. Please complete the form in its entirety. Please feel free to cut and paste your bio and seminar summary in the spaces provided. If you are on a panel, we need a form for each presenter. Only complete submissions can be considered.

Southern Comfort rocks, so if you've got something on your mind that you think needs to be discussed please submit a proposal.  We always need new and interesting topics and new presenters so don't be shy.  You'll be in good company.

As some my know I'm on the Board of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.  They came to Southern Comfort last year and came away from the experience jazzed about the possibilities working with the trans community.  They've been working diligently behind the scenes ever since but the fruits of some of their work will soon be available.  It's exciting stuff.  I'll go into some of it in more detail in a future entry.

One of my fellow board members is the Vice President of Communications for McDonalds USA.  Apparently, one of the right-wing groups isn't happy about that.  They wrote about it on their website today.  Similarly, Focus on the Family (think...James Dobson) has decided that lobbying Congress for workplace discrimination protections is asking for "special" rights (read it here) and are unhappy about NCTE Lobby Day coming up in a couple of weeks.  Their spokesperson calls us "hurting, but misguided". 

As the week passes we'll get to the Oprah show with Thomas Beatie on Thursday.  Thomas is already getting a significant amount of scrutiny, a story in the Daily Mail in the UK is just the excruciating beginning.  Remember when I said it was a hurricane warning?  Hold on tight. 

A couple of other things.  Remember HB1722 in Massachusetts from a few weeks ago?  After a heroic effort to move it forward it was sent to committee for further review (details here).  Typically, that's where bills are sent to languish and die.  There is still hope that it will fight its way back, but as the headline says, "history says otherwise".

Donna needs a companion and since options seem pretty limited in that regard right now I expect that there will be a dog in Donna's future.  It may not be in my immediate future, but the wheels are already in motion.  Stay tuned on that.

Lastly, I saw a list that intrigued me today.  It's a list from Money Magazine of the Top 100 Cities in the US to live and launch a business.  It's got some surprises. (see the list here).  If you click on the city it tells you why it's such a good place....

Sunday, March 30, 2008

1:00pm:   I spent the morning making travel arrangements.  April and early May have many moving parts so getting from here to there to there sometimes takes quite a bit of planning and a big dose of luck.  I still haven't nailed everything down yet but I'm better off than when I started.

I went to get my hair done on Friday morning and the always wonderful Heather was telling me about her new boyfriend.  She explained how he still makes her feel all jello-y inside.  I told her I miss that.  I haven't had that feeling in a long time.  I got my hair cut, too, and it's pretty short.  My mom likes to tell me that the first week after a new haircut it's too short, the next two weeks it's just right, and the 4th week it's too long.  She's usually right.  Anyway, I'm wanting a sassy angled bob by the summertime so we'll see how things progress.

Every once in a while something jumps out to my photographic sensibility, and that happened as we drove down one of the downtown streets in Austin.  There was an old, gutted building (that had some character) and on it there were a number of posters in various stages of tatter.  The only full poster was a drawing of Barack Obama, and the only word on it was "Hope".  I thought the symbolism was neat so we stopped and took some photos of it.  After playing with it for a couple of minutes in the photo editor (made the background black and white - there wasn't much color to start with, and saturated the colors in the posters a bit) here's the result:

A highlight of the weekend was being able to attend a cook-out held by one of the local gals in Killeen (thanks Autumn!).  It's about an hour away from Austin, and a number of folks from both Austin and Ft. Worth drove there to attend.  Although I had only an hour and a half to visit before I had to be back to the airport to catch my flight I had a great time.  My friend Michelle was there, celebrating her first day full-time.  She's amazing, lovely, incredibly nice and someone I'm thrilled to be able to call a friend.  I have no idea how she passed as a guy for these past many months and I'm just thrilled for her that she doesn't need to play that charade any more.  I finally got to meet Kelli B., as well, which was nice.  All in all, it was fun, although all too brief.

A main landmark in Killeen is Ft. Hood, a huge Army Base.  On our way to the cook-out we ended up on Tank Destroyer Blvd., and sure enough there was a huge tank sitting there by the side of the road.  I don't know about anyone else, but I generally don't see armored artillery in my day to day world.  Anyway, it was interesting.

Contrast that with the fact that I've got a Mourning Dove nested on my back patio.  She's up there night and day and I expect she's probably sitting on something precious.  Mourning Doves are a symbol of Peace, and of Gentleness.  I like to think there's some symbolic reason that she's back there.  I'm sure it's just because it's a great place to build a nest.

In my own life I still haven't found that perfect place to build my nest.  I'm still looking. 

Lastly, there's an interesting interview with Dr. Norman Spack in the Boston Globe today.  He talks about helping trans-kids, and it's very worth reading. 

I've got a number of errands to run so I'll need to go.  More later...

Saturday, March 29, 2008

10:00pm:   I'm back from my 48 hour trip to Austin.  I'll have some things to say about it in tomorrow's post.  For the moment I want to catch up on a couple of news items from the past few days.

There was an article about Jenny Boylan on CNN a couple of days ago (read it here).  It was generally well done and sensitive.  Unfortunately, it's over shadowed by the continuing frenzy over the "pregnant man" story.  It was on 20/20 last night, and I'm told it was on Nightline as well.  Oprah's website say that the Beaties will be on her show next Thursday.

There have been other affects, too.  ABC News did a story titled "My Mommy Is a Boy".

On other topics, there was recently a Transgender Job Fair at the San Francisco GLBT Center.  It was arranged by the Transgender Law Center and received some positive press coverage (see the CBS affiliate report here).  The turnout and the response looks wonderful.  I hope we can arrange these kinds of things in other cities.

Lastly, I recently got an email from my friend Sara in Houston.  I met Sarah at IFGE in 2003 or 2004.  She worked at Shell Oil and was working with their Employee Resource Group SEAShell to get their Discrimination policy updated to include protections on the grounds of Gender Identity.  It seemed to get to the executives every year, but there always seemed to be an issue and it never got passed.  I spoke there in 2005, and several of the people that I've known there have slowly moved to other companies.  Not Sara.  She has hung on there despite some significant challenges. 

Last week I got the following email:

Subject: Gender Identity accepted into Shell's EEO policy!
Importance: High

All -

Gender identity is now officially included in Shell's Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policy! John Jefferson succesfully presented the business case for GI inclusion to the US Country Coordination Team today. According to Wayne Shelton, the new policy will be out within the next month or so. Congratulations to us all! This is a major accomplishment for SEA Shell and demonstrates the positive influence our network can have on the organization. We all have reason to be very proud.

Elaine and I will prepare a brief communication to all SEA Shell members shortly.

Anne M. Knisely, APR
Director, U.S. Communications
Shell Oil Company

This is great news.  Sara started this work in 1996 and admits that "I personally gave up two years ago after three failed attempts in 10 years and hundreds of pages of documents submitted in favor of inclusion. I can't help but think my efforts over the years certainly got the ball rolling...."  Congrats to Sara and all the folks at Shell.

That's really all I want to say tonight.  I'm tired, and going to bed. 


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

11:00pm:   The story is everywhere tonight.  See it in Hawaii, or in Eugene OR, on YouTube, in Philadelphia, in Kansas City, in Tampa, in Azerbaijan, in Pakistan....  This story has legs (metaphorically, of course).  Remember that Thomas' story was originally buried deep in the "current print edition" pages of their website?  It's now right there on the main page, and I'll bet it's gotten more hits than any story they've done in a long time (if ever).

I wrote about it on Bilerico tonight: Pregnant Man the tip of a much deeper iceberg.  If you agree with me leave a comment if you'd like.  If you don't feel free to leave a comment, too, but be nice. 

I need to get to bed because I'm traveling to Austin tomorrow, but there are a couple of things I wanted to mention.

First, I wanted to thank Cathy - the HR person at the company where I transitioned - for meeting with me this morning.  She had no idea who I was or any of my background and I really enjoyed our conversation.  The irony is that we sat in the exact office that my HR person at the time had, where I first came out to her.  It's odd to re-visit a non-descript little room where one of the biggest events in your life happened.  Although I knew it was big at the time I don't think I really appreciated the magnitude of it which was probably a good thing.  It would have been more overwhelming than it was.

Second, the pregnancy story is causing media to do outreach to the transgender community.  Here's a follow-up note from PFLAG from this afternoon:

Hello All -

This is a very time-sensitive message, so if you are able to, please
respond to the PFLAG National Communications team today, March 26,

ABC News in New York is looking to do a story on trans parents. This
story began in response to the transman in Oregon who is pregnant (as
covered in the Advocate and other publications).

They would love to be able to interview a trans person who is a
parent, and how they handle raising children as trans. If you are
interested, please contact me at the information below...

Warm Regards,

Adam M. Ratliff
Communications Coordinator
PFLAG National
1726 M St. NW
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: 202-467-8180 ext. 212
Fax: 202-467-8194

Contact them if you're interested.

7:00am:   Today is the day that things start to get crazy with the pregnant transgender man in OR.  The story hit the Associated Press, so it'll be everywhere by noon.  It's already on ABC News, reported in the UK, and it's moving fast.  It's going to get every narrow-minded creep saying ridiculously ignorant things that are sure to get blood boiling so get ready.  In a report out of Australia they quote one of his neighbors as saying that "its a hoax".  That's taken from a Portland, OR report questioning the legitimacy of the story.    In Coatia the headline is "American Transvestite Five Months Pregnant", and the photo that they cropped is obviously not Mr. Beattie.  All of this has come out in the last 12-18 hours and it's just the tip of the media (and cultural) tidal wave I'm sure will follow. 

As we've known, this story has been out for a couple of weeks, but it has brewed quietly in the background.  That's done, and it's out there now for all to see. Here's what one writer said:

And, right now, the gender shift has hit the fan. "It's a very touchy thing, this deconstruction of our biological reality," McGill University ethicist Margaret Somerville told the Canadian newspaper The National Post. "I think we're just playing with fire."

This is sure to be a major news story in the annals of reproductive rights and gender identity, and it looks like Oregon is again pioneering uncharted territory. We'll keep you updated as the story—along with the baby—develops.

Read the entire post here (beware the comments at the end - it's not pretty)

On a lighter note, The Task Force is celebrating Women's History Month by collecting names of GLBT women to be added to an honor roll they're keeping.  If you've got someone you'd like to nominate or would like more information there's more on their website.

And, PFLAG has a unique opportunity for those who might be interested.  Since shoes are involved, I just might try this out.  :)

Hello all -

The fashion designer Kenneth Cole has a new add campaign called "We
All Walk in Different Shoes," which features people from a wide array
of backgrounds, with bold messages that celebrate diversity.

To that end, they are seeking a transgender female / "M2F" (and
possibly the parents) who would be interested in modelling for this
ad campaign. If selected, the company would provide transport and
lodging in New York City.

If interested, please contact the Communications team here at PFLAG
National. If you or someone you know looks, as Christian Siriano
says, "Fierce" this could be a perfect opportunity!

Adam M. Ratliff
Communications Coordinator
PFLAG National
1726 M St. NW
Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: 202-467-8180 ext. 212
Fax: 202-467-8194

I've got an interesting morning ahead of me.  In my never-ending quest for closure I'm meeting with someone from HR at the company where I transitioned 9 years ago.  I'm not quite sure what I expect to get out of it other than the inner peace of having gone back with a strong sense of pride and self-worth to a place that I left with little of either.  I'll let you know how it goes.


Monday, March 24, 2008

8:00pm:   I'm in a bit of a funk this evening.  Same old complaint - job is unfulfilling, so much more to life than settling for the same old-rut, I came home to an empty house.  Again.  Usually it doesn't bug me so much.  I'm sure the delayed impact of losing Molly has something to do with this, and I expect it will pass by tomorrow or the next day.  That doesn't mean it's not real, though.  It just means we find ways to work through it.  I need a vacation.

The story in the Advocate about the pregnant Trans-Man that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is slowly gaining some traction.  Some are surprised that things have unfolded as slowly as they have but little by little it's seeping out.  How can you not look at that photo and not be amazed? The entire lid will pop off next week when he's on Oprah, and featured in People Magazine.  If things don't get crazy about this at some point I'll be pleasantly surprised.  Don't think for a second that phone calls aren't happening to get ready for it. 

I get an update from GLAAD President Neil Giuliano each week providing a Weekly Snapshot of GLAAD's work from the week before.  There are always a number of things specific to the trans community, as media coverage of us has increased along with our general visibility.  The good news is that coverage isn't limited to daytime talk shows or sweeps documentaries any more.  The bad news is that much of the work is to combat the negative and horrific stuff about us.  Thankfully, this week there're more positive work than defensive work.  Anyway, here's some of the info from this week's GLAAD Weekly Snapshot:


On March 16, the Dayton Daily News published a series of articles and videos about the transgender community. GLAAD provided resources to the reporter, and also worked with the primary interviewee, Jenny Caden. The articles and videos documented transgender life in Dayton, Ohio, in a fair, accurate, and inclusive way. They also serve as a great “Trans 101” for people who are unfamiliar with transgender issues.

Media Coverage:
“Finally Herself: Transgender life in Dayton,” Dayton Daily News, March 16, 2008

Sarah Kennedy, Central Media Field Strategist, 646/871.8012,


GLAAD’s Asian Pacific Islander Media Strategist traveled to Berkeley, Calif., to provide two media trainings at the Annual Transgender Leadership Summit presented by the Transgender Law Center and Equality California Institute. GLAAD conducted Media Essentials training for 25 transgender community leaders that focused on building an infrastructure for media advocacy, developing communications plans and exploring various media platforms to share their organization’s messages. GLAAD also offered an Advanced Spokesperson Training for 30 conference attendees that concentrated on media cultivation, interview preparation, drafting talking points and message development. A majority of the transgender leaders will utilize their skills to generate a stronger localized presence for United ENDA, a national campaign advocating for transgender-inclusive federal legislation prohibiting workplace discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

Andy Marra, Asian Pacific Islander Media Strategist, 646/871-8026,

Every month they send out a list of "Best" and "Worst" of the month.  Their picks for March are already out (see them here). 

I'm going to close tonight by posting a photo I took a few weeks ago in Fountain Hills.  I call it "Serene".  It's a reminder to stop and smell the roses.  As I say - I need a vacation.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

8:00pm:   Elizabeth had upwards of 30 people over at her house today.  Part of me wishes I could have been there with her.  Another part of me appreciated being alone.  I talked with my mom, and wished her a happy Easter.  I took a good long morning bike ride.  I spent time working in my back yard.  I made a point of dressing up today, I even curled my hair, to go out and do some errands and meet my son for lunch.  And to top the day off I grilled a ribeye streak, and cooked up some spinach with garlic and olive oil for dinner.  I have come to peace that Molly is gone, and I have made it a goal to bring a puppy into my life sooner rather than later. 

I hate to talk politics on a weekend, especially on a Holiday, but the Democrat presidential candidates recently submitted completed GLBT surveys in PA.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both expressed their views and although nothing earth-shattering I nonetheless found their responses interesting.  Regarding ENDA, Barack says "As President, I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."  Hillary expresses similar sentiments, although her comments are not as powerful: "I strongly support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that includes protections for transgender individuals, and I will fight to have that be the version that is signed into law when I am President."

I've got some big things on tap this week.  Next weekend I'm off to Austin for a couple of days.  I've got a few things to take care of there and wish I could stay for a while.  Unfortunately, my time is rarely my own and I need to be back.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

9:00pm:  Thanks to those who sent kind words about Molly.  She will be missed.  The good news is that I didn't spend the evening wallowing in sadness, which could have very easily been the case.  A good friend stopped over and we ended up going out for dinner.  It was a much needed diversion, and our conversation set the foundation for some exciting possibilities in other aspects of life. 

If those of us who endure the harsh summer heat in Arizona need to wonder why we move here this weekend is a perfect reminder.  Skies are crystal blue, sun is bright, afternoon highs are in the upper 80's.  I can't imagine nicer days, and as I went for a late afternoon run today the sights and scents of spring are everywhere.  It's glorious, and I'm glad to have some down time to be able to enjoy it.

As if Molly's passing wasn't depressing enough, I was up this morning at 6:30, made myself a cup of coffee, and immediately started my income taxes.  I've got tequila ready for later - either to celebrate the fact that I'm getting some money back or to drown my sorrows at having to pay.  I'm about 90% done at this point (thank God for TurboTax!) and things are looking ok.  I'm breathing a cautious sigh of relief.

I spent time editing another video today.  If I knew what I was doing with this stuff I'd be dangerous.  Even with the little bit I know - it's just a blast.  I've been tinkering around with some of the tools and options.  The disappointing thing is that the quality of the original versions of these things is so nice - just beautiful - but the grossly compressed versions that I need to create to load to YouTube just don't do them justice.  It's very frustrating.  I'm very strongly considering burning monthly DVD's of the videos I create and making them available to anyone who wants them - I could provide quite a bit more stuff that way. I could put more photos, more video, more everything. 

The video I created today was a mini-interview I did with Monica Canfield-Lenfest from COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays) at the Transgender Leadership Summit in Berkley last week.  She's a full-time staff member managing their Kids of Trans Program and is working on some very exciting stuff.  If you go to any of the trans conferences you'll probably see Monica there.  Her energy, her dedication, and her experience being the child of a transgender parent make her an invaluable friend and resource for the community. 

I'm going to be posting quite a few of these kinds of things in the coming weeks and months.  There are so many amazing people, important resources, incredible stories, and exciting opportunities available that need broader visibility so I'm happy to provide whatever help I can make sure they get it.  How many of us had to come out to our children and wished there were more resources or support for them?  Coming out affects everyone in your life so these kinds of things are so, so critically important.  


Friday, March 21, 2008

6:30pm:  I got a call from my ex-wife today.  Anyone who has visited here for any length of time knows that my ex has effectively shut me out of her life since the day in 1999 when given a choice to stay and be a husband or leave until I could do that.  We have seen each other less than a half dozen times since then.  We rarely talk and, in fact after 16+ years of marriage I still marvel at how we could have become such complete strangers to each other. The only things we share right now are a son, a ton of old memories, and a monthly spousal support payment.

She called me last month on my birthday, which came as a pleasant surprise.  Actually, I was mildly shocked.  Unfortunately, today's surprise was not a pleasant one.

Shortly after she and I got married we bought a German Sheppard that we named Murphy.  We decided that we needed to try our parenting skills on something that wasn't actually a person first, to make sure we could do it, before having a child.  A few short years later my son was born and the four of us were, by all external indications, a very happy family. Over the years Murph outgrew puppyhood, became a trusted family member, grew old and gray, her hips started to give way, and one day after a very full life she was gone.  Our entire family was traumatized at losing her and I remember the three of us huddled around in a circle, my son and my wife crying together, and me wishing that I could but the tears just wouldn't come.

Several months later we moved to fill the hole in our lives by bringing another puppy into our family.  We wanted a Golden Retriever and some friends pointed us to a breeder way out in the country.  We particularly liked the lighter colored Goldens and these breeders promised to call us when the mother and father that we liked best had a litter.  Several months later, we had another new life in our family.  Her name was Molly.

Molly was smarter than many people I know.  She was tremendously intelligent, well-behaved, even-tempered, energetic, and fun.  And, she was always a lady.  I can't think of anything I'd want more from a companion than Molly.  When we moved across country in 1996 it was my son and I in the front seat of the car, and Molly in the back.  She loved to swim, and there was a time when we needed to block the stairs of the pool to keep her out.  When life was extremely difficult at my house and my wife and I couldn't stand being around each other I kept my sanity by taking Molly for long evening walks.  Although that time of my life was pure hell at the time the best part about it were those evenings - out with Molly.

After I left home in 1999 I still came back to visit her whenever I could.  Those visits have become more and more rare.  On those very isolated occasions over the past few years when I've been allowed back to our old house she remembers me, and the puppy that I remember comes to life despite the passing of time.  I called my ex- a couple of weeks ago asking if I could come to the house and take Molly for a walk.  I missed her.  And, as always happens, I was told my ex- wouldn't be around so it wouldn't happen.  That's a shame.

All that leads up to the phone call this afternoon.  After 13 years Molly suddenly got sick.  My ex- brought her to the vet today and got some very bad news.  Molly is in doggy heaven tonight.

It's almost appropriate that this should happen on Easter weekend, when themes of rebirth and renewed life are the order of the day.  And, although I never get to see Molly anymore I'll miss her, knowing that she's not here.  She was loved.  As my wife sobbed on the phone today I remembered days gone by.  I remember when Murph passed and we grieved together as a family.  I offered to come over to the house tonight so we could grieve together.  She said she'd rather grieve alone.  So, I guess I will too.  And that's a shame....

On my son's bed.

Molly: May 1994 - March 2008

I'll never forget those eyes....


Thursday, March 20, 2008

7:30pm:  The weekend is in sight.  I'm already salivating at the thought of an ice cold Margarita or two.  Or three.   :)

I promised some photos from the GLAAD Awards so I'm going to deliver....

photo 1: One of the fun things about going to the GLAAD events is the opportunity to meet people you have no idea who they are and later learn that they're just flippin' amazing.  There was this incredibly handsome guy with the bluest, most amazing eyes, at the pre-event VIP reception.  I spotted him from across the room, went up to him, and told him, "I have no idea who you are and I'm sorry about that but you have them most amazing eyes.  Can I get a picture with you?"  It turns out that he was Cheyenne Jackson from the Broadway musical Xanadu. I watched some video of him on YouTube since getting home and wish I had known who he was.  He's amazing.

photo 2: Comedian Kate Clinton was there to introduce Judy Shepard.

photo 3: The amazing Bishop Gene Robinson was there, too, and was one of many who accepted the award when "For The Bible Tells Me So" won.

photo 4: The person that Elizabeth would most liked to have met was Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order: SVU.  She loves all those police shows. 

photo 5: Mariska gave the award to Barbara Walters for the 20/20 show on transgender kids.

photo 6: Lastly (in terms of my photos, anyways), Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick were there as presenters as well.  I loved Kyra in the movie Phenomenon.

All in all, we had a great time and will be revving up to do it all again in Los Angeles at the end of April.

Speaking of fancy dinners in Los Angeles - there's an interesting article about the recent HRC Dinner there on Bilerico today.  In a significant display of self-control, I have no commentary to add.

My friends at GLAAD have been busy.  Today they announced the launch of "Newsroom '08".  The press release describes it as "a Web site which will serve as a resource on how media talk about issues affecting to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as they pertain to the local, state and national elections in November." (Read the Press Release here).

There was a report on CNN today about a British paratrooper who recently transitioned.  See it here.  She's amazing.

In closing for tonight, I find it hard to believe that this is Easter weekend.  There was a time when Easter was a big deal in my life.  Now it's around the corner and it's odd to realize it has no real meaning to me - other than memories of years past and symbolism of rebirth and renewed life.  I think part of it is that many of my memories are family memories and since my son is grown and gone there aren't any reminders for me anymore.  My son and I are planning to get together this weekend but that really has nothing to do with Easter. 

My first Easter on my own was in 1999, shortly before transition, and was one of the darkest days I can remember.  The good news is that I've come a very long way since then.  That's truly something to celebrate.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

6:00pm:  I'm home and have much to share about my non-stop trip back East.  But there's something I want to say that's more important first.  To have this discussion I'll need to break my self-imposed gag-order on talking about HRC here on my blog.  They're actually not the main theme of this, but they play a role.

Cyndi Lauper will again be doing her True Colors Tour across America this year.  Last year's event was a huge success, and provided an opportunity for GLBT communities across this country to come together and celebrate.  The main draw wasn't politics, or legislation, or anything particular to the challenges many of us face day in and day out.  If anything, the Tour provided an opportunity to escape that and get back to more basic things: music, fun, diversity, acceptance, and community. Those are the things that made the tour special and that's why it's back bigger and better this year.

As happened last year, HRC is getting a dollar from every ticket sold.  I should clarify - the HRC Foundation is getting a dollar, not the PAC.  The Foundation is where the Workplace Program, and the Religion and Faith Program, and other educational efforts live.  It's not the political side that lobbies Congress, or supports candidates, or otherwise gets spent politically.  Still - a dollar from every ticket goes to HRC and for those who hate HRC that's reason enough to hate this tour, too.  Frankly, I find it to be misguided anger but I certainly get it.

HRC isn't the only beneficiary of the tour.  PFLAG gets funding from it too (details here).  Other local and national organizations are getting a piece of the pie, as well.  If ever there was a tour giving back to a community that desperately needs funding to do its work at a critical time - this is it. 

Whether anyone goes or not should be a personal decision, based on any number of things.  And, to be perfectly honest, although I'd love to see Cyndi and the B-52's (they rocked at the HRC National Dinner a couple of years ago) I don't know if I'll go when the Tour passes through Phoenix on June 25.  As far as I'm concerned, that's my personal choice to make and has nothing to do with the tour, the artists, or concerns of inclusion.  It does have something to do with HRC but that's a personal battle for me to fight, not a public one.

Against that backdrop, a trans-woman has decided that the fact that HRC is involved calls the entire tour into question.  She started an email campaign to tour promoters and artists accusing them of being un-inclusive, of not trying hard enough to engage the transgender community, and of other perceived slights.  She threatened to call for boycotts and for picketing as the tour crossed the country. 

In her most recent email to denounce the tour she uses my name.  She is somehow implying that I support this misguided effort.  So, I'm here to say publicly and loudly to anyone that cares that I in no way support an organized boycott of this tour.  I do not feel that the tour planners and promoters are in any way behaving in ways that are not supportive of the trans community and, in fact, are going above and beyond to be supportive.  I respect that this person feels a need to vent and has decided to make a name for herself by doing this.  I respect the desire  to make sure the performers understand why the transgender community is still so uncomfortable with HRC right now.  But as a community I truly believe that calling for an organized "boycott" does more harm than good and I won't have any part of it.  Part of life is picking your battles.  This is not a battle worth fighting.  In fact, it should not be a battle at all.

I'll tell you this now.  If I decide to go to this concert at any of its tour stops and this person organizes an effort to picket it that's a line I'll step across.  I refuse to make one person's personal war my own.  If she wants to try to whip up more HRC-hate and hysteria then she's on her own.  I'll have no part of it, and I encourage similarly minded people to do the same.  There are far more productive outlets for our energies and talents than harassing supportive artists and sabotaging tour plans for events that give back to the broader community.  I can't see how that's positive. 

9:15pm:  It's late and I've got lots to catch up on, not the least important of which is sleep.  This has been my schedule over these past few days:

I'm beat tonight.  I'm coming down with something - I've got a scratchy throat and fully expect to feel horrible by this time tomorrow.  And, I'm about to do something at work that will cause a change.  Since I generally go out of my way to avoid giving details about work I'll leave it at that for now.  But there's some stress involved.

I'll try to catch up on things as the week progresses.  It'd take too long to do in one blast.  I've taken some good photos over the past few days and will begin uploading them.  I'll start with a few from the Transgender Leadership Summit at Berkley over the weekend:

Jamison and I in thought, getting ready for our Plenary

A high point from the GLAAD Media Awards was when Barbara Walters accepted an award for the report she did on 20/20 about Transgender kids.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Television journalist Barbara Walters was honored by the gay media watchdog group GLAAD on Monday for her reporting on transgender children and she said the award was among the most important she had even received.

"You can forget all the Emmys," Walters said in accepting the award for television newsmagazine journalism at the 19th annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards. "This means more to me."

The veteran television personality won for the story "My Secret Self: A Story of Transgender Children," which aired on ABC's "20/20" and examined the lives and struggles of young children who experienced conflicted gender identity, feeling their true sex was the opposite of their physical one.

Read Article Here

An other high point was GLAAD Executive Director Neil Guliano's remarks.  One of his mantras these days is about the importance of telling our personal stories. He says, "it doesn't make a bit of difference - it makes all the difference."  His delivery and his comments were right on and as he spoke you could have heard a pin drop.  That's saying something in a huge ballroom filled to capacity where wine and Absolut Vodka had been flowing freely for a couple of hours. 

There are some photos of the event online already.  And, GLAAD has already posted some on their site, as well. I'll post some here tomorrow.

Although I was generally very happy with the evening there were some disappointments. 

Bravo to Neil, the staff, the volunteers, and everyone involved in the evening.  It was a smashing success and I look forward to doing  it all again in LA in April.

I'm fading.  So, I'll say g'night.....


Sunday, March 16, 2008

9:15pm:  The trip to the Bay area was wonderful.  I can name a dozen highlights without even stopping to think. From the meetings downtown on Thursday and Friday, dinner with Jamison, Mara, Dr. Ousterhout and Mira on Thursday night, dinner on Fisherman's Wharf with Kate on Friday evening, morning coffee down by the beach in Pacifica, the powerful comments by National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director about community at the morning plenary yesterday, the wonderful energy at the University of California at Berkley, spending time with old friends and meeting new ones, an absolutely breathtakingly sunny and bright day today - it was a trip of which memories are made.  I took many photos and did some video, as well, so I expect to have some things to share soon.

Kate too some photos, as well, and has already forwarded a few for me to share. 

I'm also sharing a few photos of Kate and I through the years (including one from today).  She is truly a wonderful big sister and dear friend.  It's truly incredible to see how life has changed for both of us over the years.  She is currently the Executive Director of the Golden Gate Business Alliance, the oldest GLBT Chamber of Commerce in the country.  I never in a million years would have imagined the paths we've both been on.  The good news is that we're both still going strong.

2000: Mid-transition.  Heading out for craziness on my birthday

2006: My last visit there.  At a winery in Napa.

March 2008: at the California Transgender Leadership Summit

A very heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended the closing plenary this morning.  Asking people to show up on a beautiful Sunday morning is a significant request and we had a very nice turnout.  The theme of our talk was about moving forward and we wanted to engage people in a dialogue.  I'm happy with how thing went an very appreciated of all the effort that went into making it happen.  They video-taped it so I'm not sure where it will surface but when I find out I'll be sure to share the link here.

On to other topics...

I'll share what I was hesitant to share last night, although I won't put any text description to it.  I don't want to pop up as some Google pointer to it because it'll get more visibility than you can imagine soon (Oprah during the first week of April, People Magazine).  Here it is

There have been several interesting media articles about the trans community over the past couple of days:

That's all for tonight. It's after 9 already.  Somehow, having breakfast by the beach seems like a couple of days ago already.  I have a 6am flight to NYC tomorrow morning meaning I'll need to be up at 3:30am to leave by 4:30 to get there by 5.  Ouch.  I better get some sleep on the plane.  I land at LaGuardia at 3:45pm and a friend is picking me up to go straight to the GLAAD dinner in midtown.  After the dinner is over we're driving the 3 hours to Philadelphia.  Finally, I'm speaking at the University of Delaware on Tuesday evening as part of Trans-Week there.  I'm pretty jazzed about that.  Then, I'm flying back here early on Wednesday morning.  If this all works out without a hitch it'll be a minor miracle.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

11:20pm:  It's late and I'm tired.  Getting up this morning and having coffee down by the beach before heading over to Berkley seems like days ago.  I've met so many great people here - it has been wonderful.  And, I've been collecting a few more video mini-profiles to share.  It's just a matter of finding the time....

A major story about our community is about to hit so get ready.  If you know where to look it's already out there but the biggest thud won't happen for a couple of weeks.  I hesitate to provide additional visibility to it yet - it will get enough of that in the weeks to come. So for now let's just say that this is a Tornado Warning - meaning that one is imminent.  Some who know about it are already wondering what impact it will have.  I can see both positive and negative outcomes. I don't think anyone can change it at this point so it will need to run its course.  We'll just need to be ready to deal with it.

Jamison and I will do the closing plenary tomorrow morning.  My flight leaves at 4pm.  I arrive back in Phoenix at 6pm.  And I need to be on an early morning flight to New York City to get to the GLAAD Awards there on Monday night.  This schedule is just crazy, but the end is in sight.  The question is where I'll be working at the end of the week.  Again - Tornedo Warning.  A storm is imminent.

Friday, March 14, 2008

11:40pm:  I'm the the San Francisco Bay area.  I arrived yesterday afternoon and despite a brief snafu with luggage the rest of the day went brilliantly.  Jamison Green and I had a very productive meeting with the people from Out and Equal about some things we'd like to do together.  We met Dr. Ousterhout, Mira, and Mara Keisling for dinner.  And we had time to relax and unwind before bed. 

Tonight I am staying with my "Big Sister" Kate.  The view from her patio in Pacifica overlooks the ocean and although it's too dark to see it from here you can certainly hear it.  I can't wait for the sun to rise tomorrow l though I hope I get quite a bit of sleep between now and then.  This visit is divided into two parts - yesterday and today taking care of business and dialing into work to manage my project.  Tomorrow and Sunday will be spent at the California Transgender Leadership Summit in Berkley.  A bonus is the opportunity to see friends I haven't seen in a while, and to meet new ones. 

Kate and I had dinner on Fisherman's Wharf tonight before heading over to the opening Plenary for the conference.  The view from our table was spectacular, and it was one of those meals you remember for a long time.  Things like that often make me stop to truly appreciate life.  I had Dungeness Crab Cakes, which is what I ordered back in 1999 shortly after my FFS and I was finally allowed to work my way back to solid food (due to sutures in my mouth).  I could never have imagined the life path that has led me here since then, and I'm excited about the life paths waiting to disclose themselves to me.  I'm thrilled to be here and I'm looking forward to participating in the conference over these next couple of days before heading back home late Sunday afternoon.

There are a number of things to talk about tonight.

One of the organizations for which I'm on the board (The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce - NGLCC) was in the news this week for work it's doing with Supplier Diversity efforts.  This most recent article was prompted by the announcement the UPS is adding GLBT owned businesses as part of their supplier diversity efforts (read about it here).  They also work with GLBT owned businesses to become certified as a GLBT provider.  It's all very exciting and there will be additional news on this - specific to the trans community - coming shortly.

The National Center for Transgender Equality released its analysis of the Real ID Act and the impact it can/might/will have on Transgender people.  Some of us have unique challenges when it comes to personal identification and names that might not match our "official" documents, or genders that don't match, or other disconnects that not only can become an inconvenience but can put us at risk for danger.

March 14, 2008 

Department of Homeland Security REAL ID Final Regulations

NCTE Analysis and Review

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued the final regulations for implementation of the REAL ID Act on January 11, 2008.  After a thorough review, NCTE continues to have grave concerns about REAL ID, but we are pleased to see that the collective work that we and our allies have done has made a positive impact on these final rules.



The REAL ID Act of 2005 establishes standards and procedures that states must follow in issuing driver licenses and identity cards, and creates a de facto national ID.  REAL ID was passed by Congress with almost no discussion.  So far, seven states have refused to comply with REAL ID, an additional 10 states have passed legislation opposing REAL ID, and several others have pending legislation.


The REAL ID Act specifies that in order for driver licenses and ID cards to be accepted for federal "official purposes" (defined specifically as commercial air travel, entry into federal facilities, entry into nuclear power plants, and other uses to be determined by DHS), those cards must meet certain standards. 


The REAL ID Act requires driver license and state-issued ID card holders to prove their identity, date of birth, Social Security number, address, and citizenship or lawful presence in the United States.  Even long-time driver license holders must re-establish their Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) record. 


State DMVs are required to verify the issuance, validity, and completeness of every document that each person uses to provide this proof.  DMVs are also required to store a digital image of each document presented and a digital photo of the license applicant.  The verification process requires sharing DMV records state-to-state and with the federal government, effectively creating a national database with questionable privacy protections. 


The Good News

NCTE and our allies found a number of problems in the draft regulations that DHS released in March 2007.  We worked on those issues and our influence is evident in changes to the final version.  The most notable success is that:


"DHS will leave the determination of gender up to the States since different States have different requirements concerning when, and under what circumstances, a transgendered [sic] individual should be identified as another gender."


Other important changes from the draft regulations to the final version:

  • Name and gender history will not be contained in the barcode on the back of the cards.
  • RFID (Radio Frequency Identity) chips[1] will not be used to store data on the card (which could have made it possible for a great deal of personal information to be read by anyone with a RFID reader up to 30 feet away).  A two-dimensional barcode will be used instead and is only required to contain the same information as on the front of the driver license or ID card.
  • States can keep name and gender history confidential, if state policy allows.  States can cite "for reasons of public safety" or similar statements in DMV records, as a generic way to keep information private and not share it with other states.
  • States can create "exceptions processes." This gives states flexibility in accommodating atypical circumstances, such as when transgender people have one gender marker on driver licenses and another in Social Security records.
  • A provision has been added that "allows States to record information from birth certificates in lieu of retaining an image or copy if state law permits and if requested by the applicant."  This would help transgender people and other people protect medical and other personal information not relevant to REAL ID.

Timelines in the Final Rules
States are required to begin issuing REAL ID-compliant driver licenses and IDs before May 11, 2011. And by December 1, 2014, everyone under 50 must have a REAL ID for federal official purposes.  Those 50 and over on that date have until December 1, 2017.

While the Act technically requires states to fully comply by May 11, 2008, DHS rules provide for a series of extensions that would lead to the May 2011 date. This is significant because, as of the date of this publication, Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (four of the seven who said they will not comply) have said they will not apply for an extension.[2] 
According to DHS, driver licenses and IDs from these and other states that do not apply for an extension will not be accepted for commercial air travel (and other uses outlined above) beginning May 11, 2008.  If DHS enforces their threat (which is still very much an open question). residents of those non-compliant states will need to show passports or submit to secondary security screening[3] at airports.

Failures in the Final DHS REAL ID Rules

Though the final regulations are improved from the draft version, they still have significant flaws.  The final DHS rules still invade personal privacy, create a bureaucratic nightmare, and will cost Americans billions of dollars.  The rules fail to provide adequate privacy protections (including protections against data capture by third parties), fail to offer recourse for individuals caught in bureaucratic breakdowns, fail to provide funding, fail to provide systems as required by the REAL ID Act, and fail to provide any protections against terrorism, the supposed purpose of REAL ID.  These failures illustrate fundamental problems not just with the final rules, but with the REAL ID Act itself.


Furthermore, no state can meet the May 11, 2008, compliance deadline in the REAL ID Act, even if attempted, since DHS has failed to establish the systems necessary for compliance. With deadlines pushed forward into as many as three Presidential administrations, DHS appears to abdicate its responsibilities to create a workable system for implementing the REAL ID Act, and instead leaves it as a problem for future administrations to solve.


"Official Purposes" Mission Creep

Besides commercial air travel and entry into federal facilities and nuclear power plants, DHS has the unfettered power to require a REAL ID-compliant license or ID for "any other purposes that the [DHS] Secretary shall determine."  Already DHS has suggested that REAL IDs could be required for purchasing some over-the-counter medications.


What Can Be Done?

NCTE encourages not just transgender people, but all Americans to work against the REAL ID Act.  Contact your Representatives and Senators at both the state and federal levels, and tell them you support repeal of REAL ID. 


On the federal level, ask your U.S. Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor S. 717 and H.R. 1117, respectively.  On the local level, urge your state legislators and governor to reject compliance with REAL ID.  For updated REAL ID developments and a breakdown on each state's position, see the ACLU's  


[1] Radio Frequency Identity (RFID) chips use radio waves to transmit information and can be embedded in things, animals, or people.

[2] Georgia, Oklahoma, and Washington have also said they will not comply with REAL ID, but have applied for the first extension.

[3] The government has kept secret exactly what occurs during secondary screening, but it is generally understood to be a more invasive search than going through the standard screening airport screening line.  Transgender people may be uncomfortable with the extra scrutiny that secondary screening entails and may prefer to show ID over submitting to inspection of this detail.

Share this Report
You can download a printable copy of this report from our website. Go to our REAL ID page to view the information and to download a PDF of the document.

I've got more, but I'm tired and we need to be up early to be back at Berkley by 9am.  So, I'll save it for tomorrow.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

10:00pm:  I should be packing for my trip to the Bay area but I'm too tired.  I'll have to do it in the morning.  The hectic pace catches up with me from time to time.  This is one of those times.

I had another of my ongoing One on One sessions at the Apple store this morning at 7am.  Believe it or not they open that early for nuts like me who get up early and want to learn.  There was another woman there sitting patiently outside the locked gates with her 17-inch iMac wrapped in what looked like hand-made custom plaid clothing, stuffed into a basket with wheels on it so she could roll it to and from her car.  Too funny.  The cool thing is that I get alot out of these sessions and can't wait to get home to use the stuff I've learned.  These classes are on video editing software (Final Cut Pro) and the things you can do just make me so jazzed. 

One of my goals these days is to do 7-10 minute "Mini-Profiles" from people in the community.  I expect to get a number of them at the Conference this weekend, and I'll be out to get many more at the IFGE Conference in Tucson at the beginning of April.  As my skill with the editing tools expand we'll just have to see where this goes.  Stay tuned on all of that.  I feel like a kid in a candy store sometimes - it's just too much fun.

That said - I need to get to bed.  I'm too tired to type.  I'm off to San Francisco tomorrow where Jamison and I have a follow-up meeting with Out and Equal about some exciting things we started discussing when I was there in late January.  I've got a couple of other meetings, as well, and am looking forward to seeing my "Big Sister" Kate.  It has been far too long since we've had time to catch up with one another...


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

10:00pm:  I had a belated birthday dinner tonight with a wonderful, dear friend.  We have the deepest, most interesting conversations and I truly value her friendship and opinion.  I told her early on that she reminds me of me in some ways so I'm not quite sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.  I suppose that depends on how you feel about me.  Anyway, we did a shot of a very nice Tequila for dessert, which was just what the doctor ordered. I'm sure I'll have a headache when I wake up in the morning.

I came out today publicly supporting Sen. Obama for President.  I spoke with several people from the Obama campaign over these past several days and have been very comfortable with how things feel to me.  As the campaign has unfolded I've had the same opportunity that most Americans have had to gauge the candidates, to evaluate them,  and to make choices.  After careful consideration, I'm more comfortable with Sen. Obama than I am with Sen. Clinton.  His message feels better to me - it resonates in ways that Hillary's doesn't.  The fact that I haven't felt engaged as part of the Clinton GLBT steering committee wasn't really a factor and I perceive that to be my fault as much as theirs, but the fact is that I never felt any passion for her as President the way others have.  I wrote to her GLBT steering committee leadership last night and asked that my name be removed from her list.  I wished her and her supporters all the best.

I did an interview with Kerry Eleveld at today about my move to the Obama Campaign (Read her article here).   We had a far-ranging conversation that touched on a number of things that had nothing to do with politics.  She did an interview with me shortly after ENDA and I enjoy our discussions.  Queerty ran the story as well (read it here), and included me as a "bold name activist".  I must be moving up in the world or something.  Anyway, I'm happy to do what I can to help Sen. Obama's campaign and am willing to break the cardinal rule of not talking politics or religion if anyone wants to chat.  Know this, however - there is no right or wrong answer.  This is simply the right answer for me, and I'm confident that this is the candidate who will make the biggest difference as far as broader recognition of Equal Rights for all is concerned.

One thing that does not feel inclusive is some of the other reporting on it.  One reporter said the following: "This continues to show the momentum that the Obama camp is demonstrating in all different slices of the electorate," said Eric Stern, who has been actively courting gays and lesbians to join the Obama team."  See anything missing?  I do.

I also accepted some other significant honors today but will hold off on sharing until they are publicly announced.  All it all, it was a big day.  And, I see that the Dow jumped 417 points today.  Coincidence?  :)

I did the Rebecca Juro radio show last Thursday and had a blast.  I see that Becky has put the audio of the show online (it's here).  I joined during the second hour (and it seems as though I talked for two hours straight) but it was certainly an honest and candid discussion.  One of the things I find most exciting about the show isn't anything I said - it's that Becky got a job and she talks about it!  We discussed it offline and she's just thrilled about how things seem to be going.  When we talk about what a job means to people, and why ENDA is so important - it's more than just a paycheck.  You can hear it in her voice, ya know?  Anyway, Congrats to Becky.

Monday, March 10, 2008

8:30pm:  More and more workplace stories will be surfacing in the upcoming months.  One of the most public and compelling is the story of Diane Schroer.  The last time I visited her I marveled at a paperweight made of various sizes and shapes of ammunition.  In person she's quiet, personable, and she seems shy.  She gives little indication of her unique background.  But I wouldn't want to make her mad, though.   That doesn't seem like a healthy move....

Diane was a colonel in the Special Forces who was offered a job in the Library of Congress as an international terrorism analyst, only to have it rescinded when she disclosed that she wanted to begin work as Diane, not David.

There's a CNN report on her case:

There's a more detailed explanation of her life on YouTube as well (produced by the American Civil Liberties Union):

I interviewed Diane's attorney, the fantabulous Sharon McGowan (ACLU Staff Attorney with the Lebian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and AIDS Project), at the TransLaw Conference at Harvard Law School last weekend.  She provides an update on the case:

Note: the video is a little over 7 minutes long.  Only 5 minutes of it show here for now....

Diane and her attorney will be talking about her case on Wednesday at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center near DC.  If you live in the area and can make it I think you'll find it enlightening.

Not a Good Fit? Transgender Civil Rights and the Federal Workplace.

When Airborne Ranger qualified Special Forces Colonel David Schroer applied to the Library of Congress to be the senior terrorism research analyst, it seemed a perfect fit. After accepting the job, but prior to starting work, David took the future boss to lunch to explain that David would soon be Diane, and thought it would be easier for everyone if she simply started work as Diane. The following day, her future boss rescinded the job offer, telling her that she wasn't a "good fit" for the Library of Congress. Diane filed a discrimination complaint in federal court and is being represented by the ACLU (

Diane Schroer and her lawyer will talk about the case and its ramifications.

All are welcome.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008, at 6:00 pm.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor Center.

RSVP and info to Karen Smith at 301-286-5451 or

Networking and social from 5:00 – 6:00 PM.

Sponsored by members of Goddard's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Advisory Committee (GLBTAC)

6:30am:   I was watching the weather this morning, feeling sorry for all those buried by the most recent snow-storm in the East.  Scenes from throughout Ohio and NY bring flashbacks to years when I lived in Buffalo and Rochester and Syracuse.  In 1991 we had a devastating ice storm in Rochester in early March and were without power for 9 days.  The double-whammy of these kinds of things is that the daffodils and the tulips are waiting - poised for their time to grow and all you want after a long winter is some sun and warmth.  Finally.  Anyway, some of us don't have the stomach for that as we get older and retreat to more temperate climates.  The weather here in Phoenix is going to be mid-80's and sunny for most of the week.  This is why we move here.  It's not that I'm gloating - there's a life lesson there somewhere.

I mentioned yesterday that I didn't want to talk about HRC any more so I'm starting that today.  Done.  No more.  I'm starting a week of silence hoping it will stretch into two or more.  It's not that anything has changed - it's that I'm tired of dealing with it because it's rarely good news.  They could have a miraculous change of heart and Joe could call me up and tell me his biggest secret and it could be the biggest news ever, but you won't see it here.  I don't like to make promises I can't keep - this one I'll keep.  Just like the end of winter, there are too many positive things waiting to happen elsewhere to dwell on things that threaten to keep us back.  It's time for the sun to shine for a change so that's where I'm headed.  I decided that in my own personal rewind and start over I need to do this.  So I will.  No more for now.

I'm also tinkering with other aspects of my life.  I'm thinking of it as kind of like a personal "Spring Cleaning".  Some things need to go.  Other things need to change.  Balance needs to be regained.  Having a spare day with very few obligations has been healthy in that regard.  I had a nice dinner with my electrologist, Maria, last night and we were reminiscing back to the early days of my transition.  It's so easy to forget how difficult they were - I think it's just one of those human responses to trauma.  But at the same time it's good to be reminded of them.  I'm still wondering where the life I thought I wanted to lead back then has gone.  That's not to say that life was ever realistic for me or anything other than a fairy tale in the mind of someone waiting for the darkness of "winter" to end.  It's time for one of those mid-flight flight-path adjustments - I'm working on that as we speak.

There was a story in yesterday's LA Times about the Lawrence King shooting in Oxnard last month.  Titled "A deadly clash of emotions before Oxnard shooting", here's a passage:

For teens living in a shelter for abused and neglected children, school can provide a daily dose of normalcy, a place to fit in, a chance to be just another kid.

It didn't turn out that way for Lawrence King.

According to the few students who befriended him, Larry, 15 years old and openly gay, found no refuge from his tormentors at E.O. Green Junior High School.

Not in the classroom, the quad, the cafeteria. Not from the day he enrolled at the Oxnard school until the moment he was shot to death in a computer lab, just after Larry's usual morning van ride from the shelter a town away.

The 14-year-old accused of killing him, Brandon McInerney, had his own troubled home life when he was younger, with his parents accusing each other of drug addiction and physical assaults, court records show. The year before Brandon was born, his father allegedly shot the boy's mother in the arm, shattering her elbow, the records say.

Now, as the Feb. 12 killing continues to draw attention from around the world, students, parents and others wonder if red flags in the boys' circumstances and backgrounds had been missed and whether more could have been done to avert the tragedy.

"The question needs to be answered," said Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn, whose district includes E.O. Green. "It really bothers me a lot."

The anti-gay taunts and slurs that Larry endured from his male peers apparently had been constant, as routine for him as math lessons and recess bells. The stinging words were isolating. As grieving friend Melissa Reza, 15, put it, Larry lived much of his life "toward the side. . . . He was always toward the side."

She and others recall that the name-calling began long before he told his small circle of confidants that he was gay, before problems at home made him a ward of the court, and before he summoned the courage to further assert his sexual orientation by wearing makeup and girl's boots with his school uniform.

His friends say the verbal cruelty persisted for months, and grew worse after the slightly built Larry pushed back by "flirting" with some of his mockers. One of them was Brandon, who seethed over it, the friends say.

A deadly clash of emotions before Oxnard shooting

It's heart-breaking to realize that people have to endure this kind of torment.  Hate and intolerance know no boundaries.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see that residents of Montgomery Count, MD were able to collect enough signatures to have a ballot measure added this fall to rescind discrimination protections for Transgender people (read it here).  The same mob mentality that uses it's sheer numbers to decide who can and can't marry can dictate who can and can't be equal.  This is the kind of stuff we're up against, and why we need to do everything we can to stop it. 

The day awaits....

Sunday, March 9, 2008

8:30am:   One of the things I've wanted to be since an early age is a camper.  Not a pop-up camper on wheels kind of camper, and not a 4-room tent-chalet with a sun room and a wet bar kind of camper.  The kind of camper I've wanted to be is one with a small pup-tent where the term "roughing it" really means something.  It's not a punishment or something to be endured, mind you.  It's just part of the camping experience.

Until this past summer my most recent camping excursion happened in the late 1970's - I believe I was a senior in high school and had joined the Outdoor Club in hopes of being able to camp.  It rained for our entire Sr. Camping trip, but I still remember the experience as a positive one.  At the time tents were little triangles with 2 poles - one at either end - and the camping beverage of choice was Tang.  Somehow, I can't think of any other time we'd drink Tang other than when we were camping.

My family never camped when I was growing up.  In fact, the visual of what that might look like makes me smile to this day.  Over the 15+ years I was married I had always wanted us to go camping and even started buying gear, little by little, as if that by itself was enough to force us to go.  The fact of the matter is that my wife doesn't like going anywhere that doesn't (a) have a clean indoor bathroom and (b) have a shower.  So needless to say camping never happened.  I got a brief taste of camping last July when my friend Molly and I went hiking for several days in Glacier National Park and it's an experience I won't forget.  I was giddy about it for weeks.

I'm a member at REI, an outdoor gear store, and they send me bonus dollars every year for the money I've spent there.  It's usually not much (at least, it's not like the check I get back from Costco) but I use the money to buy one piece of camping gear there so I'm slowly building my camping arsenal.  Two years ago I bought a 3-person tent (I still haven't used it).  Last year I bought a sleeping bag.  And this year, yesterday, I bought a sleeping pad.  It seems to me that I'm pretty near ready to actually make a go of it.

I'm thinking that my first camping adventure should be somewhere near my house.  Just in case.  In case I can't set up the tent.  Or in case I change my mind. Or in case I forget something and need to go home and get it.  Like a TV, or my laptop, or dinner. 

That's a lot of words to say that I got another piece of camping gear yesterday and I hope to actually be able to use it soon without putting my life at risk.

This will be my last bit of quiet time for several weeks.  Here's my upcoming schedule for the next 10 days:

It may not come as a surprise that the weekend is half over and I haven't started my taxes yet. Sigh.

I had hoped to go for some number of days without bringing up HRC but apparently that number of days won't start now.  On Feb. 26 I wrote the following:

The Workplace Project has an updated version of the Transgender In the Workplace: A Tool for Managers.  They want to roll it out sometime in the next month or so.  The problem, though, is that they're aren't any transgender people in the group to provide any credibility.  They're trying to get trans people on board (I previously mentioned that 4 have been identified and asked, and they're currently talking with one another about what to do) as quickly as possible.  Do you think they're willing to reach out to transgender people who aren't officially part of the HRC family to get this important work done and published?  I don't.

Two of these four were added to the Business Council very, very quietly early last week so they could participate in the meeting in DC that happened last Thursday.  There was a conference call last Monday to prepare for all 4 coming on the BC (attended by all 4, Daryl Herrschaft, and HRC Communication Director Brad Luna - I'm wondering why he would be there).  I have been told that the two who were most vocal in their concerns about ENDA on that call were suddenly dumped from the group on Tuesday.  This, despite the fact they had been led to believe that all four would be brought on board.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.  At the very least the way it was handled seems disrespectful and odd.  I feel there's more to this than is being told.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

9:00am:   I think I mentioned that I'm planning to do -  or at least to start - my taxes this weekend.  In fact, this is the first weekend that I've been at home in quite a while and the next several weekends are busy as well so if not now, then when?  But the day seems to have filled up on me.  I'm meeting a friend who is visiting to cover some of the baseball spring training for breakfast.  I've got a training at Apple to do some of the video "stuff"' I'm chomping at the bit to start.  I need to go to the fitness center.  Someone from the community who writes to me is visiting for the day and I'd like to meet her for coffee.  And, I'm having dinner with my son.  All in all, I'm having a hard time seeing where taxes fit.

The day already started off quickly.  The water-damage people stopped by to remove some of the huge fans in my back bedroom from the hot water heater leak.  They want to stop by again tomorrow and asked if I'll be around.   I shared that I'm gong to be doing my taxes so depending on when they get here I may already be drinking heavily (just kidding, of course).  We agreed that stopping by earlier, while I'm still lucid, is probably better than later.  :)

 I did want to clarify a couple of things from the note that my friend Julia sent yesterday after her conversation with Joe R. at Barney's office (it's important to be specific abut which Joe we're talking about).

First, Barney's office will not be providing a target list.  There will be a list, and in fact there is already one, but it will not be distributed thru Barney's office.  These things are best discussed one-on-one for obvious reasons.  So, don't sit waiting on some all-inclusive list and don't start getting mad when it doesn't come.  It doesn't work that way.  Call Joe R. in Barney's office to get the names of people near where you live but don't wait for a list.

Second, I need to correct the last paragraph of Julia's note.  Talking to any member of Congress is not a waste and nobody wants to discourage those face-to-face conversations.  Joe didn't say that to her.  Rather, it's important to be aware of who is most likely to vote with us and to target our efforts accordingly.  People in Congress with a zero score on HRC's Congressional Scorecard will not be voting for any version of ENDA.  That's just the way it is.  So, prioritizing efforts on where to put more of your energy is more likely to have actual impact when it comes to positive votes on ENDA. 

Some in our community continue to be skeptical of Barney and I certainly respect that.  At this point I'm cautiously optimistic, but I'm comfortable with the conversations that are happening and the efforts under way.  Each of us has got to make up our own mind in that regard. However, as I mentioned earlier in the week the real test isn't measured by what anyone says, it's by what they do.  So, I urge those who want to move forward to test the waters and to make their decisions accordingly. 

On another note, one cool thing I'll share.  Believe it or not there is a "vault" that contains a wide variety of articles, broadcasts, blogs, etc. that come out every day that have something to do with GLBT.  For example, the Nightline segment on the transitioning executive at Microsoft that I mentioned yesterday is there.  Dozens of articles come out every day and are put into this "vault".  As part of the Board of GLAAD I get access to this vault so every day I can watch the various media clips or read the various stories to see what is happening out there in media-land with regards to GLBT stuff.  It's fascinating.  I get an email from the vault every day telling me what has been added from the previous day, and when I first joined the board they warned me that watching all this stuff and reading everything could become addictive.  Thankfully, my life has very little room for anything addictive but it's a great tool. 

That said, it's time to get the day going. 


Friday, March 7, 2008

9:00pm:   Did I mention that the hot water heater in the house I'm renting had a leak last week?  I went into the back bedroom while I was packing to go to Harvard and the carpet in the closet was wet.  The hot water heater is in the garage, on the other side of the wall, and had leaked to the point that the puddle had seeped thru the wall.  Not good.  I don't know a single thing about hot water heaters but I know a lot about wet so every day this week there have been people here with blowers, fixing drywall, and whatever else you do to prevent long-term water damage.  What a mess.

There are a couple of things to mention tonight before I have a glass of wine and some pasta to unwind. 

I've had a number of people contact me today who have noticed that I've talked quite a bit about improving the relationship with Congressman Frank over the past several days but haven't said much if anything about HRC.   There's a reason for that.  I don't have anything to say.  Nothing has changed.  Business as usual.  I'll just leave it at that for now. 

I uploaded an article to Bilerico today that was largely based on my entry here from a couple of days ago (A Time for Every Purpose).  It's about letting go of anger - something I'm actively working on doing.  I'm doing my taxes this weekend so my relief from anger could be short-lived (just joking!) but focusing in more productive ways has been good.  I hope it continues.

Another contributor at Bilerico, and a respected peer, is Marti Abernathy.  She wrote a very unfair article today about Mara Keisling that included snippets from this blog.  There are people who attack Mara no matter what she says or does so I expected that the boo-birds would come out following the most recent article in the Gay City News but I didn't expect it from Marti.  When I saw the banner of this article (The Many Faces of Mara Keisling: The Death of United ENDA?) and read the supporting text I just had to scratch my head and say, "huh??!?".  Mara has one of the hardest jobs that I know and she does it capably and tirelessly on a meager budget.  She's respected and admired by her peers.  And, she's funny.   In a word, she's irreplaceable.  The day she decides that she's had enough of the crap she deals with, who is going to step in and do her job half as well as she does?  That's a serious problem just waiting to happen because I fear the line of applicants will be a short one.

The good news is that the comments about this post are universally supportive of Mara and the wonderful work she is doing.  Sometimes you have to be attacked to see how many friends you really have (Lord don't I know).  Many of the commentors seem to  have the same question that I do.  Huh??!!

I feel a need to really be clear here.  If we hope to see an inclusive ENDA come before Congress anytime soon the goal has got to be to ensure 220 votes by 2010.  We can go through any number of what-if scenarios in our minds but the one sure thing is to ensure that 220 legislators are comfortable enough with "transgender" by the time ENDA realistically has a chance of passing.  Barney has challenged us to help make this happen and my posts here have encouraged us - individually and collectively - to answer that call.  It's that simple.  If Congressman Frank can use his influence to open doors for us we need to be ready to walk through it, not stand to argue about last fall or before.  Is it as clear to you as it is to me?  If we wait until a month before the vote or two months before the vote - who believes that we'll have a realistic chance of moving people?  Not me.  That work starts now.

I got an email from my friend Julia in San Antonio who took the initiative to call and talk to Joe Racalto today.  She wrote me about their conversation and asked me to post it here:

The most important item I took away from my conversation with Joe was this: Barney Frank's office will soon issue a list of Senators and Representatives who are unsure of how they would vote on an inclusive ENDA bill. We need to lobby these Congressmen hard to counter the right-wing lobbying that will be mounted against us. For sure, these Congressmen need to meet transgendered people, and some of us are going to DC next month to lobby. That's fine, but only a fortunate few of us can afford the cost and time to travel to DC and there is much distraction for the Congressman while we are in a Congressman's office in DC.

Joe suggests that we really need for hundreds, hopefully thousands, of our transgender brothers and sisters to make appointments at the district offices of their two Senators and their Representative - at the district offices in the major cities of our own States. Then we need go there, IN THE COMPANY OF OUR INDIVIDUAL FAMILY OF SUPPORTERS. He believes that if we attend those meetings with our supportive spouses, parents, and children at our side, to calmly and firmly discuss why we need ENDA, it will make a tremendous impact on correcting the way these Congressmen think of us.

He also suggests that we do not waste our efforts on lobbying those Congressmen who will never come around to accepting GLBT individuals as worthwhile human beings. In my case, that is Texas Senator John Cornyn, Senator Kay Hutchinson, and Representative Lamar Smith. So I will direct my efforts to lobbying other Texas representatives who are undecided.

There you go.  That's the game plan.  I'd love to go state by state by state to go on these visits.  Just tell me when and where....

Speaking of Lobbying, HRC had its Lobby Day yesterday.  And NCTE will have it's Lobby Day on April 14-15 in Washington DC (register here).  I'll be there.  I expect that Elizabeth will be there.  I'm working to get corporate sponsorship to fund a "wrap party" after all the lobbying on the 15th so stay tuned on that.  And, if you want to go but need a room-mate to cut down on expenses write to me and I'll be happy to send you the contact info for others in the same boat.  Besides being important work, it's just a fun time. 

Is there more happening in the world outside of ENDA and politics?  Of course there is. 

Speaking of Denver, you might remember the article titled "7 year old Transvestites in Public Schools" that appeared in a magazine called "Gayzette"  - I printed it in it's disgusting entirety yesterday.  The publishers of Gayzette sent a retraction notice today:

“7 Year Old Transvestites in Public Schools” – RETRACTION Statement Issued

After receiving feedback from the Colorado GLBT community today, the gayzette has retracted the article from the pages of their online edition, and issues the following statement:

“Please accept our sincerest apologies in regards to the Homo-razzi article that was published in our March, 2008 issue. The Homo-razzi feature that is meant to be humorous in nature, did anything but achieve ‘being funny.’ The article instead was hurtful, hateful, and distasteful, and should never have reached our printed pages.

We are, and will continue to be supporters of the GLBT community and do not think of our own as second class citizens, nor are we ignorant to the issues that members of our transgendered community face. With this being said, and as the publisher of the gayzette I do take full responsibility for the publications content and will act appropriately in addressing this issue.

I have been in contact with Kate Bowman, Board Chair of the Gender Identity Center of Colorado. She has advised me of the concerns of the transgendered community in regards to the article, and I will continue to work with her in the future to promote messages of diversity within our community.

We have taken immediate action by retracting the article from our online edition and accompanied by our deepest regrets; plan to do the same in our next printed issue.

In addition, I have offered the Gender Identity Center of Colorado, a free full page, full color advertisement which will be printed in our April issue. Also in the coming weeks we plan to work with Kate Bowman in locating a transgendered columnist to provide our community with a regular-monthly T-feature, that will soon appear within the pages of gayzette.

By taking these actions, l assure the Transgendered community that we at the gayzette stand by your side in the fight for equality. This will never happen again.”

Please accept our sincerest apologies,

Rich DeMarah

You're kidding, right?  That article was supposed to be funny?  Did is seem to have any ounce of anything resembling humor to anyone?  The only thing that surprises me more than the fact that a GLBT magazine would actually print such a thing is that someone somewhere thought it was funny.  Now that's scary.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

5:45pm:   It feels almost weird to be home before 6pm, when it's actually still light outside.  I put in 10 hours at work on Monday, 12 hours on Tuesday, 10 hours again yesterday - all work and no pay makes Donna a dull puppy.  I've mentioned in the past that the project I'm managing is monstrously huge and I could very well spend more time there doing things that need doing.  I'm trying to regain my "balance" so I need to reclaim some of the rest of my week.  I'm planning to do my taxes this weekend and already have Margarita mix ready.  It's dual-purpose - to celebrate or to dull the pain.  :)

I'm going to be the guest on Becky Juro's radio show in about half an hour or so.  I expect that it will be a good discussion and perhaps even yield some surprises.  If I Becky puts a copy of it online, or if I can get a copy, I'll be sure to put a link to it here for those who are interested but who miss it.

10:00pm:  OK.  I'm done.  That went well.  We talked for almost 2 hours which is probably too much Donna, but I think it was a productive and constructive conversation. 

Anyway, I've got three things for today....

First, New York State has become the poster-child for the "incremental" strategy strategy of adding discrimination protections.  A non-inclusive statewide version of ENDA (called SONDA) was passed there in 2001, and led to a bitter division in the state. To this day, gender identity has still not been added although the drumbeat to finally make the bill whole is getting louder.  A survey released yesterday by the Empire State Pride Agenda indicates that a wide majority of New Yorkers (78%) support adding transgender discrimination protections (details here).  This is a big deal. 

The Pride Agenda's Lobby Day (called LGBT Equality and Justice Day) is on April 29 in Albany.  It's our opportunity to lobby legislators to finally pass this bill. I will be the Speaker at the lunchtime rally and will be lobbying with delegations from Rochester and/or Buffalo so if you can get there please join us.  People always ask me how they can get involved to make a difference.  This is how.

Second, Gay City News printed an article today about NCTE Director Mara Keisling.  A snippet:

Seated before a crowd of roughly 50 at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, Mara Keisling opened with a joke.

"I had a not-so-friendly experience a couple of weeks ago. I went to an ex-gay conference," said the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). "I thought it was an ex-guy conference." If a drummer's rim shot had followed that punch line, she would have sounded like a Las Vegas comedy act from the '60s.

Keisling, 48, kept up the humor during the two-hour event on March 5 as she talked about NCTE's work, the state of the movement - the entire LGBT movement - and the 2007 efforts to pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the US House with protections for transgendered people stripped out.

In contrast to a defiant February 23 speech in Manhattan by Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, in which he defended that lobbying group's support for ENDA and charged that other LGBT groups had abandoned the fight, Keisling gave HRC and the House Democratic leadership their due. She commended HRC and Congressman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and ENDA champion, for advancing transgender issues. Last fall, Frank was widely criticized for "throwing trans people under the bus."

"Congressman Frank really, really wants to protect transgendered people," Keisling said.

The intra-community battle over ENDA has paid benefits beyond building United ENDA, Keisling said.

There will be hearings in the House this spring on discrimination against transgendered Americans and NCTE has presented a list of 70 potential witnesses for that event. That will come on top of the heightened profile of transgendered Americans in the wake of the ENDA fight.

"There is not a member of Congress who doesn't know what gender identity is anymore," Keisling said. Still, she is not naive about the status that gay and transgender issues have on Capitol Hill.

"With a lot of these folks, these are not front and center for them," Keisling said. "Some are still afraid of the gay thing."

Next year though, the Democrats would be receptive to including a ban on discrimination based on gender identity and expression, generally understood to protect transgendered people, if the votes are there, Keisling said.

"We have to show Barney Frank 220 votes," she said. "If we show him 220 votes, nobody is going to work harder on this. The same with HRC... It's going to happen again next year."

Read the article here

During my interview with Becky Juro tonight she asked me if I believe that last statement and I told her, unequivocally, that yes I do. 

These last couple of days have been a refreshing change.  We've all known that at some point wounds would need to scab over so that things could begin to move forward again.  I've talked in the past about the vacuum of communication that has been so frustrating as of late.  That seems to be lifting, and whereas relationships have been irrevocably altered by what has happened I don't believe it has all been bad.  In fact, finding and building upon the good is truly the most important thing, and the only way to make the most of the historic opportunities at hand.

That leads me to point number three.  I got a follow-up email today from Barney Frank's office about my blog entry yesterday.  Apparently several people have taken my advice and written to thank him for his support for HB1722 and for the upcoming Congressional Hearings.  It's still not too late to write if you'd like to.

One of the key things I discussed yesterday with Joe, his Sr. Policy Advisor, was the need to identify what people can do to focus their energies in productive ways. 


On Congressman Frank’s behalf, I thank you for your comments. And I particularly appreciate your reminding the readers that Congressman Barney Frank has always championed GLBT rights. His record of defending transgender individuals, dating back to 1999, is something he is proud of and I am pleased that you reminded your readers of this important fact.

I admit however, that as much as I enjoy passing various forms of accolades to the Congressman, I would hope that the readers also and more importantly, write their own Member of Congress and lobby them for their support. It is especially important to remember that each Member of Congress is being lobbied hard to vote against all GLBT rights (from right wingers) and if they don’t hear from our side, we won’t win.

As you know, the problem last fall was that we fell far short of the votes needed to pass a more inclusive ENDA. And, while I agree with Congressman Frank when he said the efforts for the most part were "lousy," a major reason the lobbying failed was because too few people participated. Furthermore, it was only after ENDA was split that significant lobbying efforts were undertaken. The intense lobbying that took place last fall was too late, and has since gone away. And that is disappointing.

As you noted, the House will soon be holding a hearing on the importance of transgender protections in the workplace. This historic hearing is another opportunity for those who lobbied Congress last fall to pick up where they left off. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this hearing and the potential it has to educate Members of Congress on this issue. And so, I ask your readers to use this opportunity to re-energize their lobbying efforts –not for Members of Congress who don’t need it, but for those Members who do. And to that extent, I ask people who may not know who their Member is or how they voted, to email me at

Joseph A. Racalto
Senior Policy Advisor
Office of Congressman Barney Frank

I urge anyone who wants to talk about Barney's record, about ENDA, about what you can do to help, about life in general - to call Joe Racalto (don't call me!).  His phone number is at the bottom and I respect him for putting it there.  He assured me that he won't duck any of the issues and I'm confident that's true.  He seems more than willing to have the personal conversations that seem to have been missing for so long.  You may or may not agree with him, but that can't be the goal.  The goal has got to be to find constructive ways to move forward together.  Call Joe and don't be too hard on him because he is not your enemy.  Ask him who to talk with.  Ask him what to say.  And then go out and have those conversations in a respectful, civilized way.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Next week.  Next month.  That's what will make a difference.

Let me be clear.  I am not espousing to forgive and forget as that's far too simple an answer to a very difficult question.  For many it's not even an option and I respect that.  I am, however, suggesting to collectively regroup, to move forward from today, to keep things in perspective, and to be involved.  I'm open to options, though.  If you've got other strategies that you think would work as well or better to get to a fully inclusive ENDA please send them my way.  I'm happy to share them....

Lastly, here is an article running in the current edition of a Denver GLBT newspaper called "Gayzette".  It's about the trans 2nd grader there that made the news several weeks ago.

This kind of crude, disgusting ignorance is the real enemy.  That's what we're up against. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

9:30pm:   People who have visited this blog for any length of time have come to know that I write what I'm feeling.  Part of the beauty of my life in recent years is that I've reconnected with emotions that I had feared had long since died from atrophy and neglect.  I don't know what happens more - if I control my emotions or if they control me.  For better or for worse, I'm an emotional, passionate person an if you've ever met me you'll know that I'm that way in person, too.  Some consider emotion as a sign of frailty or weakness.  Not me.  I consider it to be a critical component of my humanity.

When I originally started this Blog back in 2004 very few people had ever heard of me and I was sure that very few ever would.  I had no intention of putting myself out there and even if I did I wouldn't have known where to start.  I started this blog as simply my way of showing visitors to my little website that it was active, that it hadn't been abandoned, that someone was home.  I remembered how helpful the websites of people who came before me were in my own journey of self-acceptance, so giving back by sharing online seemed to be fairly easy and harmless.  Much has changed since then.

When I share thru my blog I talk about how I'm feeling.  I talk about things that are relevant to people like me - whatever that means - or at least would provide some mix of news, insight, opinion, day-to-day experience, and hopefully - some humor.  I've installed Google Analytics on the site and the volume of people who come here regularly is absolutely amazing.  The fewest number of visitors here since the beginning of the year for any given day is 508 (which happened on Feb. 15 - must have been a hang-over from Valentine's Day).  The average is substantially more.  And the most is more than double that. Just under 80% of the traffic here is direct traffic, meaning that they have a favorite or a shortcut somewhere and come straight to this page.  Only 11% of people find my blog through a search engine - and even when they do I'll bet they were looking for something else and happened to end up here (I've met two other Donna Roses here - they Googled themselves and ended up on my site).  People from 93 different countries have been here.  It's just mind-blowing to see how it has grown.

I've got to say that it's a little unnerving at times, as well.  Things you say can become larger than they were meant to be.  Things can be misconstrued, or cause hurt without even knowing.  There's a line somewhere between what to share and what not to share that I think I walk fairly well.  I'm sure I cross that line from time to time but you usually don't know those things until after the fact.  It's funny to go to an event where people know where you've been, or what you're thinking, or how you're feeling.  And, it's humbling to have a world of faceless friends that you don't even know you have.

A couple of things happened in the past couple of days that need discussion here.  Neither is particularly earth-shattering in and of themselves, but when considered together help to put things into perspective.  That's the thing that gets lost sometimes - perspective - and it's nice to find things help to get that back.  That's why I enjoy going to the Grand Canyon so much because no matter what and no matter where - anything that's happening in your life that seems all-consuming or overwhelming somehow seems insignificant in the big scheme of things.  So, these two things aren't quite Grand-Canyon large but I appreciate both of them for different reasons.

First, I'll talk about a post on yesterday.  It was written by the 'Bil' in Bilerico (Bil Browning) and is titled, "Let's rewind and start over".  As you may remember I was recently asked to be a contributor there and I've shared two entries so far. Anyway, it talked about the fact that perceived Trans related entries there tend to get horribly, nastily, onslaughtingly flamed.  There's no need to make these things personal.  Somehow, it always seems to get that way, though.

I'll be honest.  I don't read my comments.  There's a reason that there isn't a comments section here because if you want to say something about what I'm writing you need to write to me directly - there's no opportunity for hit and run stuff.  If I do move this to a more "bloggy" platform as I've threatened to do and even started to do I won't allow comments there, either.  One of two things will happen.  Either it'll puff your ego or it'll make you angry. To be perfectly honest, neither of those works for me.  I don't subscribe to a single listserv, Yahoo Group, social network, or other forum where I'd need to deal with that either.  It's not healthy.

But there is an underlying theme that needs to be discussed and actually respected, and that's that there is a lot of anger out there right now.  There are a lot of very mad, very frustrated, very disillusioned people (including yours truly) who have a chip on their shoulder about something and are hyper-sensitive.  It's easy to cause these people to lash out (guilty as charged, your honor) because the fuse is very short and with good reason. 

One reaction by others who witness it, and one that seems to be particularly prevalent right now, is to say "Grow up and get over it" and to trivialize it.  This does little to address it and, in fact, often makes it worse.  On one hand we have the angry people and on another we have the "deal with it" people and it's like a flame and gasoline.  However, I have come to consider my anger over the way that events over these past several months have impacted my life as almost like a grieving process.  There are stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance that people go through when dealing with situations that cause a significant sense of loss.  My mom went through the stages when I transitioned.  And, I'm still going through them now (as are many of us).  Our outbursts are actually part of the healing.

The problem, though, and this is important - is that much of this anger has no place to go.  There's no way to focus it in healthy ways so it stays as anger and it's not good for anyone.  Many of us have spoken about the need to find constructive ways to focus our anger but as of yet that remains a significant problem.  Many of us can't let it go.

There was an Op/Ed piece by George Will last year that I cut out and saved and is usually here on my desk somewhere.  It's titled "Anger is all the Rage" and the sub-title explains, "Once upon a time Americans admired models of self-control.  Today, however, proclaiming anger - the more vituperative the better - is regarded as a sign of good character and emotional vitality."   A passage from it:

No wonder Americans are infatuated with anger: It is democratic. Anyone can express it, and it is one of the seven deadly sins, which means it is a universal susceptibility. So in this age that is proud of having achieved "the repeal of reticence," anger exhibitionism is pandemic.

There are the tantrums -- sometimes both theatrical and perfunctory -- of talking heads on television or commentators writing in vitriol (Paul Krugman's incessant contempt, Ann Coulter's equally constant loathing). There is road rage (and parking lot rage when the Whole Foods Market parking lot is congested with expressive individualists driving Volvos and Priuses). The blogosphere often is, as one blogger joyfully says, "an electronic primal scream." And everywhere there is the histrionic fury of ordinary people venting in everyday conversations.

Wood, an anthropologist and author of "A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now," says the new anger "often has the look-at-me character of performance art." His book is a convincing, hence depressing, explanation of "anger chic" -- of why anger has become an all-purpose emotional stance. It has achieved prestige and become "a credential for group membership." As a result, "Americans have been flattening their emotional range into an angry monotone."

Wood notes that there is a "vagueness and elasticity of the grievances" that supposedly justify today's almost exuberant anger. And anger is more pervasive than merely political grievances would explain. Today's anger is a coping device for everyday life. It also is the defining attribute of an increasingly common personality type: the person who "unless he is angry, feels he is nothing at all."

That type, infatuated with anger, uses it to express identity. Anger as an expression of selfhood is its own vindication. Wood argues, however, that as anger becomes a gas polluting the social atmosphere, it becomes not a sign of personal uniqueness but of a herd impulse.

I find this to be fascinating stuff, and oh so true.  Apply it to the blogosphere.  Apply it to the posting on Bilerico.  Apply it to my own writing'll see it in action.

Anyway, that brings me to the second event of today.  I received an email from Barney Frank's office.  He wrote in response to some recent comments I've made here and is his effort to set the record straight.  He challenged me to share his comments here, in their entirety, and I have absolutely no problem doing that:

I am writing to correct some inaccurate and misleading statements that were posted on the Donna Rose blog on March 1, 2008, regarding the upcoming hearing on the need for workplace protection for transgender individuals.

First, I have been explicitly saying since last fall that a hearing on transgender workplace protections would occur some time in early spring.

Second, the process has always been open to any group or individual that wished to offer input. The "original plan" has never changed and the notion that I was “tightly controlling” the upcoming hearing is false.

Third, at the request of Mara Keisling, I agreed to meet with her to discuss the hearing. In fact, my office has met with several groups for input, but Ms. Rose’s assertion that I “largely turned over control of gathering the stories to NCTE/Mara Keisling” is wholly baseless. In fact, the Committee on Education and Workforce has jurisdiction over this bill and therefore, the “control” was never mine to turn over. And while the blog referenced NCTE, the fact is, several groups have been working to identify potential witnesses –in fact, the ultimate decision about who is ultimately selected rests with subcommittee Chairman Rob Andrews and full committee Chairman George Miller, after consulting with me.

Finally, the most glaring and revealing error is Ms. Rose’s assertion on her March 4, 2008 blog in which she assumes I had not spoken for transgender protections when ENDA came up last September. Specifically, referring to my March 4 testimony to the Massachusetts state legislature she wrote: “Where was this last September? I'll be honest, if we can count on these kinds of words backed with the action to give them teeth I could possibly get to a point where I can forgive.” In fact, I gave strong testimony in support of a transgender inclusive ENDA during a September 5, 2007 hearing of the U.S. House Education and Workforce Committee, which was very similar to the testimony I submitted for the Massachusetts state bill.

Her ignorance of this is another example of the lousy lobbying job she and others have done –had she been paying attention in September, she would have been aware of this.


I have several things to say...

First, I loved this.  My biggest complaint (really - my BIGGEST one) in recent weeks has been the lack of communication.  I followed up on this email by making a call to Rep. Frank's office today an had a productive, spirited conversation with his Senior Policy Advisor, Joe.  We talked about a number of things and - guess what - I enjoyed our chat and in fact hope it's the first of several.  I told him that if conversations like this had been happening way back in September perhaps we'd be in a better place than we are now.  But they weren't happening - no blame there - and I'm still bitter about that (not at Barney, tho).

During our conversation, and when considering it afterwards, I concluded that I may have been unfair in adding my emotion after sharing Barney's statement in support of adding transgender protections in HB1722.  As I say - I'm an emotional being and it just comes out.  In fact, I'm taking what Bil said about all the flaming to Bilerico to heart - Let's rewind and start over. I'm wiping the slate clean and staring fresh with him because clinging to my anger isn't doing anyone any good.  I need to finish that grieving and move on.  That's not to say I'm not wary, or cautious.  It's to say I'll do my best to work from today forward and we'll see where things go.

I asked Joe to thank Rep. Frank for his words and for his support (from yesterday's entry).  I thanked him for what he is doing to arrange the historic Congressional testimony being planned for sometime next month just as I think many of us should.  We both agreed that we all want the same things - so I offered to help.  I asked him what I personally and what we as transgender people can do to constructively channel our emotion.  And I told him that I hope we can look back at these days and weeks in times ahead as a turning point.

I cannot be sorry for how I feel.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - what happened is personal to many of us.  However, I respect that Barney took the time to write (even though he did insult me, which I don't take personally because he used the right pronoun) because it's something

During our conversation today HRC came up several times.  Joe went out of his way to assure me that HRC is taking the lead in these hearings in many ways.  As far as our community is concerned I'll take his word for it and let it all unfold....

But as far as Rep. Frank and I go - we're back on square one as far as I'm concerned.  I won't argue about whether or not the votes were there.  I won't doubt that you were championing transgender inclusion.  None of that matters today - in 2008.  When I look at my "What have you done for us lately" cheat sheet I see that you've provided significant support in MA for HB1722 and you're doing historic things by scheduling this hearing.  If you believe, as I do, that people deserve credit for the good things they do then write to him and tell him so (tell him you saw it here!):  If everyone who reads this sends an email that's upwards of a thousand emails.  And if everyone tells just one get the picture. (Don't send hate mail - just a short 'thank you' will do fine).

I'll tell you from experience - supportive emails make a big difference.  It's easy to get battle-fatigue and to feel very unappreciated when all you get is email about the things you do that others don't like.  The good ones can be uplifting, and can be very empowering.  Here's one I received tonight as I was typing this:

Dear Miss Rose-
I happened to stumble upon your site from a link on the HRC web page. I felt compelled to write and say thank you for your courage and bravery in sharing your story with the world. I truly believe that with actions like yours we will have a profound understanding and respect for the GLBT community. I can only hope that by the time my only son reaches middle school, which is a few years out, that the world will find compassion and understanding, sparing him and many other families of going through the horrible torment that kids that age go through. It is equally as hard for people going through it as it is innocent kids who have no control over why their parents are the way they are. With that said, I am seeing the awareness raised which can only be done through education and awareness. So from a mother, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your fight for equal rights in the GLBT community.
All the best,

Letters like this are why we do what we do, why I'm willing to look to the future, and why I remain hopeful about tomorrow.  Maybe someday I'll even get a nice one from Congressman Frank.  :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

9:30pm:   I just got home after 12 hours at work.  That, on top of the fact that the hot water heater is leaking and there's a guy in the garage replacing it as I type, continue to make this a long day. 

There were a couple of interesting things today worth mentioning.

HRC had whittled the number of potential transgender HRC Business Council members down to 4, and all have been talking as a group over the past few weeks.  When I chatted with Diego at Harvard over the weekend he suggested that the end result would "not be a party of four", and he was right.  The finalists were announced today:


WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today added two new transgender members to its Business Council, which works to create fairness and equality in corporate America for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees.

Diego Sanchez is Director of Public Relations & External Affairs, AIDS Action Committee, New England's first and largest AIDS organization. His 26 years of award-winning global experience in public and media relations, marketing and diversity management were at Starwood Hotels, ITT Sheraton, Coca-Cola, Holiday Inn, Burson-Marsteller/NY and Ketchum/Atlanta.

Meghan Stabler is a Director & BSM (Business Service Management) Strategist at BMC Software. Meghan possesses over 20 years of IT industry experience in global marketing, marketing communications, international sales, corporate strategy, product/solutions marketing and product management strategy.

I wish both the Business Council and my friends Diego and Meghan the best in this. Both are good choices and have the right "stuff" to represent us well and to be effective in that group.  Meghan is like a little sister to me.  There was a time when I couldn't be happier for her for this.  I guess right now my most prevalent emotions are hopeful optimism mixed with a healthy dose of concern.  HRC will hold its next Business Council meetings in DC on Thursday and I'm confident that I speak for both Jamison and I to say that the Business Council is fortunate to have amazing people like Diego and Meghan who are willing to step up to make a difference despite difficult circumstances.

Second, HB1722 in MA is on deck and the whack jobs are out against it in force.  Look at how one WingNut website is framing it:

Just when you thought the radical homosexual activists were given everything they wanted in Massachusetts, they're demanding even more. Unbelievably, they are now working hand-in-hand with “transgender/transsexual” activists, and want to offer your children on the bloody altar of transsexuality -- pulling them into sex-change operations involving unimaginable bodily mutilations and hormonal manipulations. The new GLBT (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender) coalition is going all out to pass a law which will result in very disturbed people using opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms, dressing and behaving as the opposite sex in public and at work, and indoctrinating children in our public schools that this perverted behavior is a “civil right.”

The culture of death has created a compulsion in the souls of the homosexual radicals and their "trans" allies, driving them ever further into new perversions. There is no bottom to this pit of depravity, and they will drag many innocent victims along with them: the young, the lonely, the psychologically and physically wounded, the confused – including some of your children and grandchildren, family, friends and neighbors. There will be no safe haven. You cannot cocoon in your homes or churches. Our public schools, businesses, public accommodations (which may include churches), your employers and insurers, will all be forced to yield to yet-undefined perversions, protected by law.

Bill H1722, now filed in the Massachusetts legislature (and set for a hearing before the Joint Judiciary Committee sometime in early 2008) is one of the most dangerous developments in the history of this country. As we have experienced with the homosexual agenda in the schools and homosexual “marriage”, Massachusetts is setting the course for the rest of the country on radical social policies. This must be stopped here. If passed, it will further destabilize our society, and bring heartache and illness to many fellow citizens around the United States.

Read more, if you can stomach it

How do people live with this much anger?  Jeez.  And we're surprised that innocent people get brutally killed when whack-jobs like this are spreading fear and hate?

The good news is that HB 1722 received a significant number of important endorsements today.  MA Governor Deval Patrick and the state attorney general both endorsed it.  But the most "interesting" endorsement is by a particular Congressman from MA.  A press release from Barney Frank's office today:

Newton, MA—U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-Newton) today submitted the following statement urging the Massachusetts legislature to extend current state antidiscrimination laws to people who are transgender.  Rep. Frank has long supported policies to extend important employment, housing and other protections to people who are transgender.
The statement by the Congressman was delivered by Mr. Diego Sanchez at a hearing in the Massachusetts State House because Frank could not be there in person, as a result of his Congressional duties in Washington, DC.  Sanchez is the Director of Public Relations and External Affairs for AIDS Action Committee, and the first transgender member of the Democratic National Committee Platform Committee to be appointed by DNC Chair Howard Dean.
It’s tremendous that Rep. Frank is able to bring his trans-inclusive work to bear in Massachusetts, by offering testimony for HB 1722,” Sanchez said.  “I am honored that he selected me to deliver it while he works on the subprime crisis.”
In the conclusion of his testimony, Frank states that he is submitting his remarks “not as part of any radical agenda, but as a plea for us to recognize what I believe is our obligation to treat each other with the respect and dignity and fairness that everyone should be entitled to receive.  I will continue to fight in Washington for transgender inclusion in any antidiscrimination legislation.  I hope that when I return to that effort, I will be able to point to the state that I am honored to be able to represent in the U.S. Congress as one that has recognized the importance of that principle.”
Frank’s full statement is below:

March 4, 2008
Members of the Committee: 
I had hoped to be able to appear before you in person, and I appreciate the courtesy that the committee chair had extended to me in trying to help me arrange this. But as legislators you know that the demands of legislative schedules often override our personal wishes, and there is simply no way I can be out of Washington this morning.  The Committee on Financial Services which I chair has primary responsibility in the House for legislation dealing with the subprime crisis and its disastrous implications, and we are very much in the midst of the work that is necessary to put an appropriate legislative package together.
I am particularly disappointed because I want to do all that I can to make sure that the failure to get transgender protection included in the legislation that passed the U.S. House last October and November not be interpreted as a reason for the Commonwealth to refuse to amend our law to be fully inclusive.  It comes as no surprise to you that the reasons why things happen in legislative bodies are not always accurately portrayed, and it seemed to me important to reaffirm that those of us working hard for antidiscrimination legislation at the federal level, Speaker Pelosi, Chairman George Miller of the House Education and Labor Committee, myself and others were in no way ourselves ambivalent about the justification of transgender inclusion.  We worked very hard to achieve that, but we were unable to succeed politically.  Fortunately, the political composition of the Massachusetts Legislature differs in a number of ways – almost all of them positive – from the U.S. House of Representatives, and I did want to make it clear that it was a lack of votes and not a lack of commitment that led us to act as we did last fall.
There is a second reason why I had hoped to appear before you, and it is a more personal one.  Today marks very nearly the exact thirty-fifth anniversary of my having appeared before a Massachusetts legislative committee in my freshman year as a Member of the House to introduce for the first time legislation to outlaw discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation.  I worked hard for that legislation for the eight years in which I served in the House, and I was extremely proud of the Commonwealth when, in 1989, others succeeded where I had not been able to, in making Massachusetts the second state in the country to outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.  That example seems to me particularly relevant because I remember hearing from 1973 on concerns that adoption of such antidiscrimination legislation would be socially disruptive; morally disorienting to young people; economically burdensome for employers; and in other ways deleterious to the quality of life in the Commonwealth.  None of those predictions has come even remotely close to being true.  From 1989 when the Commonwealth did adopt this legislation until today, there have been no negative effects.  In fact, I believe that the great majority of Massachusetts citizens, not themselves facing sexual orientation discrimination, are only vaguely aware that such a law is on our books.  It presents no disadvantage whatsoever to the heterosexual inhabitants of the state.  But for those of us who are gay or lesbian it is both a real protection against discrimination and an important affirmation that we are full citizens entitled to all of the rights – and responsibilities – of everyone else.
I cite this because you are now hearing virtually the same kinds of complaints that we heard thirty-five years ago, and which have been proven to be invalid in the nineteen years since the law was passed.  I realize that there are some differences where people who are transgender are concerned, but the general nature of the fears is virtually the same, and we should profit from our experience since 1989 and not be dissuaded from protecting all of our fellow citizens by unfounded concerns.  There is of course a more recent parallel.  The courageous action of members of the General Court in refusing to undo the right of same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts was a difficult decision for many of you to make.  And as a gay man I am profoundly grateful to my fellow elected officials who persisted in doing what they believe to be the morally right thing to do in recognizing our rights to legal equality, in the face of often harsh criticism.  The fact that the negative fears here proved as invalid as those expressed in 1989 does not make me any less grateful for your willingness to brave the assaults that were made on you.
The argument for extending protection to people who are transgender is very similar to the arguments for the two measures I have just mentioned.  Our fellow citizens deserve to be treated – legally – on their merits, and not face exclusion because others disapprove of aspects of them which have no conceivable negative impact on anyone else.
The decision to act on the strong feelings that lead an individual to declare transgender status is one of the toughest that people can make.  Even if you were to give people the benefit of this law, they would still face enormous – and unfair – prejudice.  Transgender people are among the most frequent victims of hate-inspired violence, and even people generally respectful of the feelings of others often show little compunction against ridiculing and rejecting transgender people.
Legislation banning discrimination against them – that is, legislation that simply allows them as citizens to get and keep jobs on their merits – will not by any means make their lives easy.  But it is precisely because transgender people through no fault of their own face the degree of prejudice and difficulty that they still encounter that those of us in elected office ought to do what we can to offer them the protections to which they are entitled.
To some, the notion of transgender protection seems radical.  In fact, it is exactly the opposite.  What we are talking about here is the right of people in every state to earn a living.  The best way to underline this point for me is to go back to the electoral campaign of 2006.  In that election, the prospect that I would be chairman of a committee was used in many cases to try to frighten voters against giving the Democrats a majority.  Indeed, at least one advertisement I saw warned people not to vote Democratic for the U.S. House in 2006 because if the Democrats got a majority, some of the important committee chairs would be Charlie Rangel, the African American Congressman from New York, John Conyers, the African American Congressman from Detroit; and me.  When Charlie Rangel was told that the three of us had been trotted out as reasons to vote Republican, he replied, “Gee, I didn’t know that Barney Frank was colored.” 
Building on the theme of my particular unsuitability for high office, one very conservative Republican incumbent in Indiana warned in a radio ad that if people voted for his opponent, Speaker Pelosi would allow me to implement the “radical homosexual agenda.”  I am pleased to be able to note that the right-winger in question was literally the first incumbent to be declared defeated on election night in 2006, but this left me with a dilemma.  Apparently there were people in a congressional district in Indiana who now expected me to produce a “radical homosexual agenda.”  And I didn’t then have one.  I do have things I would like to see adopted on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people:  they include the right to marry the individual of our choice; the right to serve in the military to defend our country; and the right to a job based solely on our own qualifications.  I acknowledge that this is an agenda, but I do not think any self-respecting radical in history would have considered advocating people’s rights to get married, join the army, and earn a living as a terribly inspiring revolutionary platform.
So I submit this statement to you not as part of any radical agenda, but as a plea for us to recognize what I believe is our obligation to treat each other with the respect and dignity and fairness that everyone should be entitled to receive.  I will continue to fight in Washington for transgender inclusion in any antidiscrimination legislation.  I hope that when I return to that effort, I will be able to point to the state that I am honored to be able to represent in the U.S. Congress as one that has recognized the importance of that principle.

Where was this last September?  I'll be honest, if we can count on these kinds of words backed with the action to give them teeth I could possibly get to a point where I can forgive.  I'm far from there yet.  But I remain open to possibilities.

You might notice a common thread between both these events today: the HRC Business Council announcement and Barney's Press Release.  The common thread is the dynamic Mr. Diego Sanchez (he's in the photo from my 3/2 entry).  Rock on Diego -

Monday, March 3, 2008

11:10pm:   Today is March 3. Elizabeth had her FFS on 3/3/03 and it amazes me it was only 5 years ago. These milestones come and go to reminds us of how life can change so drastically in a relatively short period of time. 

Speaking of change, I was talking about the broad range of support that we're suddenly finding in GLB and mainstream organizations as demonstrated by the groups attending the TransLaw conference at Harvard.  It's truly remarkable.  The latest is a news report out of Boston about House Bill 1722, a bill that would provide discrimination protections for transgender people in the state (a state that has same-sex marriage, mind you).  Things were pretty quiet for HB 1722 until recently when the Coalition for Marriage and Family got wind of it and decided that people needed to be afraid of it.  They started the same men in the woman's bathrooms, our kids won't be safe, perverts mantra that others have used in hope of whipping up support to kill this bill, which comes up for discussion in Committee tomorrow (Tuesday).  This time, though, things are different.  Two well respected Women's organizations (including the National Organization for Women) jumped into the fray by releasing a wonderful statement of support today:

Jane Doe and Mass. NOW tackle the bathroom argument
by Ethan Jacobs Bay Windows
Monday Mar 3, 2008

The main argument advanced by the Coalition for Marriage and Family against House Bill 1722 is that it would put the safety of women and children at risk by allowing access to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms by assailants claiming to be transgender. But two state organizations that are on the front lines of protecting women’s safety, the domestic violence and sexual assault coalition Jane Doe, Inc., and the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), argue that such claims are simply fear-mongering. The two organizations released the following statement to lawmakers to try to put to rest any question that the transgender rights bill would threaten women and children:

As organizations dedicated to the rights and safety of women throughout the Commonwealth, Jane Doe, Inc. and Mass. NOW support HB 1722, "An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes." That bill would amend the Commonwealth’s hate crimes and key non-discrimination statutes to be explicitly inclusive of transgender people by adding "gender identity or expression" as a protected characteristic therein. It is our understanding that many legislators recently received correspondence from the Coalition for Marriage and Family (CMF), raising concerns about the bill which are both misleading and unfounded. We are writing to correct any misunderstanding that CMF may have created.

The purpose of HB 1722 is to protect transgender people and other gender non-conforming individuals from violence and discrimination. It does not alter individuals’ privacy nor expectations of safety in restrooms. CMF’s claim that this bill will "threaten bathroom and locker room safety" for women is a deliberate scare tactic. An individual who enters a women’s bathroom to harass or attack women would emphatically not be protected by this law. Moreover, thirteen other states, the District of Columbia, as well as cities such as Boston, Cambridge, and Northampton already enjoy the protections of similar legislation and have experienced no consequential interference in privacy rights. Many transgender women and men use the bathroom that is consistent with their gender identity and gender expression, and are no more a threat to bathroom safety and privacy than are other individuals.

Read the entire story here

I don't know that any of us can truly appreciate what this kind of support can provide.

I did a good interview with Gunnar Scott from the Mass. Transgender Political Coalition who is helping to lead this charge while we were both at Harvard over the weekend.  I expect to have some new video online before the end of the weekend and I hope that there is some good new to share by then.

Speaking of good news, tomorrow is Primary day in Ohio and Texas.  My mom called tonight to tell me who she's voting for.  There's an article in the Advocate talking about the last minute push for the GLBT community vote (read it here).  It'll be interesting to see where things stand at this time tomorrow night.

And last for tonight, there was apparently a recent episode of Law and Order SVU that involved a pre-op transsexual character (thanks for sending this, Angie).  You can watch a short-cut video of it here.  It has particular relevance because it combines many of the unfortunate experiences we discussed at the TransLaw conference. Violence.  Falling into a prison system that separates people based on genitals.  Disrespect.  Rejection. I found one gal online who blogged about the episode and how it made her feel: Read Heather's Blog.  Heather rocks.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

10:00pm:   It feels like it's so much later than it is.  Maybe that's because my time zones are all screwed up because of all this cross-country travel.  I'll be heading to bed shortly.

The trip home was uneventful and I was out front, picking weeks that had the nerve to poke their heads through the gravel that is my front yard, by 3pm.  It's nice to be home.

Phyllis Frye, Gunnar Scott, Lee and Sarah (organizers), me, Diego Sanchez

I wrote about the Conference in my latest post to Bilerico: TransLaw at Harvard: Discussions of Law, Justice and Equality

This was the first time I used my little 3-chip video camera and I'm excited to see what the output is like.  I'll try to find some time to play around a little and get something available sometime soon. 

There was a profile of Colorado trans teen in the Rocky Mountain News today (It's Me In a Different Way).  Congratulations to Melaina and her family. 

My friend, Karen Bachman, was Ethan St. Pierre's guest on TransFM tonight and I'll post a link to their discussion once he's got it available.  I talked with Becky Juro today and confirmed that I'll be a guest on her show on Thursday night.  We've been talking about doing this for a couple of years now so I'm almost incredulous that it's actually going to happen.  This should be an interesting conversation.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

11:00pm:   I had one of those "Oh, crap" moments tonight.  I called the airline to see if I could change my 6pm flight home tomorrow to an earlier one only to realize that the travel agency that made the reservations made the flight for tonight, not tomorrow.  Since it was almost 10 at that point and the flight left at 6 I had missed it so there were a few tense minutes about how to pay the extra $500+ to re-book it.  Thankfully, everything seems to be working itself out and it looks like I'll be home tomorrow afternoon.

It has been a good conference.  I video taped pretty much the entire thing because these conversations are too important to constrain to only the people fortunate enough to be in the room.  This was an amazing collection of leaders - attorneys, activists, supporters - and these opportunities are few and far between.  I also took some time to interview a few of the participants about specific things and am looking forward to making those available.  Stay tuned.

I've written something for Bilerico on the conference and will upload that tomorrow.  Stay tuned on that, too.

In an ironic twist, I'm here in Boston and Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank is in Scottsdale today.  He did an interview on Phoenix radio in conjunction with our local GLBT organization Equality Arizona (listen to it here).  He talks about ENDA for several minutes and shares something I've been talking about for several weeks now.  They're currently planning to hold hearings in Congress specifically about transgender workplace issues in April.  Whereas original plans were to tightly control those hearings, Rep. Frank has largely turned over control of gathering the stories to NCTE/Mara Keisling (who's home in DC with pneumonia).  Mara has been diligently working with many of us to identify potential speakers who can come to Washington DC to speak and I expect she'll be finalizing that to give to Barney shortly. 

I'm hopeful that the hearings overlap NCTE Lobby Day on April 14-15 but the logistical plans for the hearings are still being worked so we'll see if that comes to pass.  The good news is that the group that will be presenting will be a representative group instead of a group hand-picked by someone else.  It won't be speaking in support of any particular bill (ie. ENDA Lite), but will be a broader educational opportunity for Congress.  And,  it will be historic.  All in all it has tremendous potential.  I just hope nobody mucks it up and lessens what this can and should be.

The things that continues to kill me is that he uses the phrase "People with Transgender" all the time.  It's like people with cancer, or people with pimples.  It's not a condition, Barney.  Personally, I have no problem with people with gay but we need to do some serious education with our "friends" before we unleash them on others.  Sheesh.

That sucking sound you hear is my friends at HRC preparing to love up big time to Barack Obama.  Although they haven't officially endorsed anyone yet HRC's love-fest with HRC has been the topic of conversation by many since before last year's March Board Meeting where Hillary came to speak to us.  Well, unless a miracle happens  in Ohio and Texas on Wednesday it's pretty much all over but the yelling. HRC took a calculated guess and missed so they're most likely going to be eating a ton of crow over the next few weeks because of it.  I'd put my money on a hunch that Barack will be the featured speaker at this year's March HRC Board Meeting, which will be happening next weekend.  It'll be all love and kisses -  just watch.  You heard it here first.

I spent some time at this conference talking with Phyllis Frye, a person who needs no introduction for many.  We've spoken at conferences before but never had time to "bond", and one of the highlights of this conference for me was getting to spend some time with her and her wife.  Phyllis is part of the Houston GLBT Caucus and they arranged to talk personally with both Barack and Hillary last week as part of the screening process before making an official endorsement.  She says that Barack came across better, hands down, on our issues and was thrilled to see that they voted to endorse Sen. Obama (narrowly). 

Fellow activist, Bilerico editor, and radio-show host Rebecca Juro doesn't know it yet but I'm going to accept her invitation and see if I can be on her weekly Thursday night radio show next week.  We've been trying to connect for quite a while now but I'm never at home on Thursdays so it hasn't worked.  This coming week is the lone exception so I'll see if she can fit me in - otherwise it'll be several more weeks  We've talked about doing this for quite a while and I expect it to be a good discussion - more to come on that, too.

Dana Beyer has caused quite the stir in Montgomery County, MD.  Right wing groups there are trying to overturn a unanimous decision late last year to add gender-identity to county non-discrimination ordinances.  They've collected 30,000 signatures in an attempt to add it to the ballot in November.  The problem is that they've mischaracterized what people are actually signing and Dana "confronted" them at a signature gathering table outside a local grocery store.  They posted some video on YouTube of Dana being unhappy and made her the target for all their misguided hateful anger.  Anyway, Autumn Sundeen talks about it all on Pam's House Blend (read the story).  The good news is that the Task Force (with the help of others) is going through the list signature by signature to validate them.  Stay tuned on that mess....

There is a similar state-wide law coming up to bat here in MA, and one in Connecticut shortly.  The MA proposition (HB1722) faces its first significant hurdle this coming Tuesday when it will be argued in committee (details here).  It will be a historic event (it seems like we're having quite a few those these days) and I wish I could be here to attend.  Those who are unhappy at the prospect of transgender people actually being treated with some level of decency and respect are already mobilizing around the bathroom issue. 

That's enough for one night.  I've got a couple thousand miles to travel tomorrow so I need to get some rest.  It's already after midnight.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

10:00pm:   I'm in Boston tonight, and whereas the weather back home is delightful the 20 degree weather here brought back memories of many winters past. Brrrrrr.....There's a Winter Storm Watch for tonight and they're expecting anywhere between 3 and 9 inches of snow depending on where you are.  Yuck.

I had dinner with Phyllis Frye and her wife of 35 yearsTrish, Kylar Broadus, and my friend Joann Herman tonight.  We're at Harvard to participate in the Trans Law Conference here tomorrow and Saturday.  It was nice to finally have a chance to spend some time with Phyllis.  Usually whenever we find ourselves in the same place at the same time things are moving too quickly to get much one-on-one time.  It was a delightful way to end the day, and I'm struggling to keep my eyes open as I type this.  There are a few things to mention tonight before I crawl into bed.

The first is that Barack Obama has stepped up the pressure in unprecedented ways today as he and Hillary Clinton face looming showdowns in Ohio and Texas.  Barack released an open letter to the GLBT community (read it on Bilerico).  For my money, the first sentence of the second paragraph says it all: "Equality is a moral imperative."  It is.  Don't talk to me about incrementalism or political strategy or "staying at the table".  Getting there takes guts and leadership and I've got to give him credit for making such a strong statement.  Hillary made her own statement at the beginning of the month (read it here) but somehow that seems like old news right now. 

Barack is also taking out very flashy full-page color ads in several targeted GLBT publications in both states, starting tomorrow (see details here).  He has quickly taken the offensive for the GLBT community in ways that are leaving some in the Clinton campaign scrambling.  It's fascinating to see.

I wouldn't be surprised if the coup de grace comes next weekend.  The March HRC Board meetings in Washington DC combine a Lobby Day, Leadership training for steering committee members from around the country, and special events/speakers to energize and galvanize the collected throng of HRC family.  Last year Hillary Clinton was the featured speaker.  Who do you think the high profile speaker this year will be?  Would anyone be shocked if it's Mr. Obama??  I wouldn't  This entire build of of outreach to the GLBT community would reach a natural crescendo there. Plus, I think HRC will be scrambling to get into his good graces. 

Speaking of my friends at HRC, I couldn't help but laugh to see that they've been nominated for a "Pink Brick Award" by the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee.  The Bay Area Reporter reports about it:

For the first time, an LGBT organization has been nominated for San Francisco Pride's Pink Brick award – an award meant to recognize groups and individuals who've run afoul of the community or pushed for antigay measures.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and its president, Joe Solmonese, are nominated this year for continuing to support a proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that does not include protections for transgender individuals.

While no other LGBT groups have been nominated since the award was created in 2002, at least one LGBT ally has won the dubious honor. The community awarded the Pink Brick to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) in 2005. The vote was prompted by Feinstein blaming the Democrats failure to win the 2004 presidential race in part on Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to marry same-sex couples in February of that year.

The other Pink Brick nominees this year are Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, who's spoken out against same-sex marriage, frequently denounces San Francisco values, and has attacked the Folsom Street Fair, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who's said there are no homosexuals in his country.

The unprecedented decision to include one of the community's own on the list is a sign of the lingering hurt feelings HRC's decision on ENDA, and Solmonese's continued defense of HRC's position, have generated in the Bay Area.

Read the entire article here

This is priceless. And, you gotta love that photo of Joe in the article.  I wonder how hard they had to look to find one with that look on his face - maybe it was after his meeting with the Trans Community there last month.  Or maybe it's when he realized that credibility can't be regained as easily as it's lost.  Again.....priceless.

Changing gears:  Ellen DeGeneres talked about the murder of Lawrence King today.  She spoke emotionally about it on her show today (watch it here).  I'd quibble about the fact that she didn't mention anything at all about gender variance but arguing details seems to trivialize the importance of the message. 

And now....time for bed.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

9:00pm:   It was brilliantly sunny and 82 degrees here today, and is supposed to hover around the high 70's and low 80's thru the weekend.  This is our springtime.  Of course, I'll be in Boston for that stretch where there are several more weeks of winter to go but such is life. 

I worked all day so it's not like I had time to enjoy it.  When I get there the sun is just coming up and when I leave it's just going down.  Crazy.

I've been going thru some interesting "stuff" in my head lately.  I don't really want to get into it all right now but I'm apparently at a stage where I need to start setting some deeper roots and to begin looking to the future a little more.  I had an interview for another job on Monday and got an offer from them on Tuesday - a contract to hire opportunity.  I had a discussion with my director - who I really like and respect, by the way - about it today and we talked about potential opportunities where I am.  I felt comfortable about things, and when we finished chatting his last words were, "Don't do anything rash, k?"  I won't.

I also applied for a job out of state that, if it comes to pass, will be a huge deal.  I don't really have much more to say about that right now - it's way too premature.

The Windy City Times printed an extended interview with HRC Prez Joe Solmonese today.  Here's a portion of it:

JS: We need a president who will sign these bills into law. We are doing that and working harder than ever in electing another round of fair-minded people to Congress and, again, I think if you look at the possibilities in the Senate alone, we're probably going to elect another five or six pro-LGBT members to the Senate this election cycle and that's going to be incredibly historic. Then, holding the historical gain we've made on hate crimes and making sure we come back and vote on that again, that we continue to be victorious in both the House and the Senate and taking the lessons that we learned from ENDA, bringing it to a floor vote and understanding that, in fact, there is disparity in the House in the number of members who will vote for sexual orientation-only bill and the members who will support gender identity and getting a sense on what that gap is and doing the work that needs to be done to close that gap.

WCT: Speaking of ENDA, HRC received a lot of criticism and continues to do so because of the disappointment in how ENDA turned out. How do you respond to continuing accusations that HRC does not work on behalf of the entire LGBT community?

JS: I think the most important thing to note there is when you talk about how ENDA turned out—ENDA has not turned out at all, by any means. In some ways, I think we are the victims of our own success because we were so lucky with hate-crimes [ legislation ] and ... passed an inclusive bill through the House and the Senate that when circumstances unfolded differently in the House—and when we saw that there was a real disparity there around support for gender identity in the House—we took all the information that we had, and we took all the conversations that we had with members of Congress that we had about what would be the best way to begin this process, understanding that there was a desire to move forward on the sexual orientation-only bill—something that none of us were happy with, even those who were advocating moving it forward.

Don't forget this is a piece of legislation that had never been voted on in the House before. ... It would be the first step in what we anticipated would be a long road toward an inclusive bill. It is the course that every other civil-rights measure has taken. It is the course that the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, every other measure that has come before Congress, [ took ] . Often times, as we have stepped up to the starting point, the conclusion has been made that it is something we need to do in pieces. As much as that is the conclusion we came to here at HRC, I certainly understand that that would be grounds for a lot of fear and anxiety in the community that a group of people were being left behind.

Read the entire interview here

The interview speaks for itself, and I've talked about HRC more than enough for one week so I'll leave it alone.  Except the part where he claims that HRC is somehow a victim of its own success, and that they got lucky with hate crimes.  I feel a need to clarify that.  The reason he says they were lucky is that the Republicans didn't offer a Motion to Recommit that would strip gender identity from the hate crimes bill.  That was the big concern - both with Hate Crimes and with ENDA - as nobody knew what the outcome of that would be.  It didn't come to pass (that's the "lucky" part).  Ironically, it was simply the fear that it could come to pass with ENDA that set things into motion to the point where they didn't need to even get that far - our "friends" did the dirty work preemptively.

Speaking of preemptive - PRIDE month is typically June.  The way this year has been zooming by it'll be here before you know it.  I mention this because it often provides a good opportunity to arrange for GLBT speakers at workplaces and in other areas that might not typically feature these topics.  It's good to have an anchor, and often times PRIDE month is that anchor.

At Dell our Diversity Office celebrated PRIDE month by putting up signs and paying for a speaker to come.  One year we had Ellen DeGeneres' mom, who attracted several hundred people to her talk.  The reason I share this now it that perhaps you can work whatever needs to be worked at your workplace to arrange for a transgender person to speak during PRIDE month.  Or, a panel of transgender people.  Often times HR people or Diversity folks don't even stop to think about this until someone mentions it.  That someone could be you, and the speakers could run the gamut from the local support group all the way to nationally recognized speakers.  The key is to create the opportunity. The rest is just the details.

My friend, Nikki, from Detroit wrote up her workplace transition and forwarded for me to share.  I've added it to my Our Stories page.  If there's anyone who wants to share their story there - all you need to do is send it along.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

9:30pm:   I won't be able to make it to Kalamazoo tomorrow.  The logistics of it got very complicated today to the point that the best possible outcome would be to reschedule to another date in the very near future.  I'm hopeful that can be done - I'll keep you posted.

From the HUGE HONOR Department: I was recently asked to be one of 3 co-chairs for the Out and Equal Workplace Summit to be held in my ex hometown of Austin, TX on Sept 10-13.  It's my favorite conference event each year and I've attended since 2003.  I've seen it grow from 500 people to almost 2,000 and I'm thrilled to accept this tremendous honor.  If you can possibly attend - do it.  It's a transformative experience.

I feel a need to elaborate on something I said yesterday.  Specifically, I want to comment on this:

The Workplace Project has an updated version of the Transgender In the Workplace: A Tool for Managers.  They want to roll it out sometime in the next month or so.  The problem, though, is that they're aren't any transgender people in the group to provide any credibility.  They're trying to get trans people on board (I previously mentioned that 4 have been identified and asked, and they're currently talking with one another about what to do) as quickly as possible.  Do you think they're willing to reach out to transgender people who aren't officially part of the HRC family to get this important work done and published?  I don't.

First off, I want to reiterate something I've said publicly as often and as loudly as I can.  As far as I'm concerned the Workplace Project is the best thing that ever happened to HRC, and was the most valuable thing that HRC does.  Is it perfect?  Of course not.  What is?  Without it, though, these last few years would have been a total washout.  Instead, we've made advance as a community that are truly things to be proud of, and have gotten us to where we are in the political arena to even be talking about the possibility of an inclusive ENDA.  Workplace Project Director Daryl Herrschaft is someone whose praises I sing over and over again to anyone who will listen.  His leadership despite so many obstacles (internally and externally) is nothing short of amazing, and HRC truly has a prize in him. Honestly, at this point they don't deserve him.

Lately I feel like I've transitioned all over again, watching people I considered friends in and around HRC slowly start to retreat from me one after another.  Phone calls aren't returned.  Emails go unanswered.  When was the last time anyone there called me just to say 'hi' or to see how I was doing?  That would be Mark Shields, and he's not there anymore.  These are people I worked hand in hand with when we were all on the same page.  Apparently, now that we're not things have changed.  That's a shame. 

The biggest problem with the Workplace Project isn't anything it has or hasn't done, or anything directly related to Daryl, Samir, Eric or anyone else.  It's the fact that it's part of the Human Rights Campaign.  If it could amputate itself or secede it would be in much better shape to get things done.  I said shortly after the ENDA mess that the board decision we faced that night wasn't simply about political policy on ENDA.  It was a test of our commitment to the concept of "community".  It was our opportunity to demonstrate that all of the amazing gains we had made in the Foundation Programs - gains that had moved HRC into circles  far removed from politics - represented a new commitment to deeper ideals.  Or, we could choose to validate the notion that really, nothing had changed, and that after all the fluffy window dressing is removed we were still just a political organization hungry for victories - even empty ones - and we're ready to sacrifice whoever and whatever to get them.  Our unfortunate decision is a matter of record.  In doing so, we undermined the credibility of each and every Foundation program not because they did anything wrong, or their commitment to the ideals that most of us share had changed, but because they were attached to the now credibility-stricken Blue and Yellow. 

That's why Jamison and I left.  And that's one of the reasons that I'm still so resentful that their political mismanagement has affected things that are so important and deep and personal to me (and to so many others who depend on what we do). 

Nobody in the trans community has more sweat equity in that organization than I do.  Shame on me for that.  And, nobody wanted to believe in it more than I did.  Shame on me again.  I have been looking for some glimmer of anything to believe in, something substantive, something "real", something more than rhetoric or excuses, something to indicate that perhaps the depth of the suffering and the anger and the frustration at what happened has finally sunken in.  What do I see?  Nothing.  Words.  Going through the motions.  It's Business As Usual at a time when it should be anything but that....

During the weekend before our fateful board meeting I tried to explain to our board co-chair that I felt like the watchman in a dark perch high above the Titanic, yelling that a huge iceberg had suddenly appeared out of a shroud of mist - dead ahead.  My frantic warnings fell on deaf ears, and apparently that continues to be the case although at this point the front bulkheads have buckled and it's taking on water like a sieve.  Is it too late to right it?  If they continue with Business As Usual it is. 

I'll assure you of this - if I ever believe again I won't keep it a secret and I do remain open (and hopeful) to that.  But I'll also assure you that I continue to hold the organization accountable to the ideals that it seems to want to believe it still represents, the higher ideals that lured me to the inside in the first place.  My initial trust needs to be vindicated, just as it does for all of us who chose to believe and who struggle with the indisputable reality of having that trust betrayed so ruthlessly and without regard to consequence.

The bottom line: it cannot be Business As Usual for HRC if there is to be any substantive movement towards reconciliation.  It needs to find new ways to engage transgender people because to do it one on one isn't safe or fair.  Their tainted credibility is like a plague, infecting anyone who touches it no matter how noble their intentions.  As an organization, has anyone seen any indication that they recognize that or that they are open to other options?  Me neither.  So, despite the leadership of people like Darryl who plug away inside a hull taking on water, rudder crippled, captain trying to act like it's just another day on the open sea, only so much can happen.  That is, until something changes.

My criticisms are tame in comparison to others I've heard.  For example, from a New York Magazine interview with Justin Bond today:

Q: In the show, you gave some alarming statistics about a national rise in violence against transgender people — like the 15-year-old Lawrence King, who was shot and killed in a high-school classroom two weeks ago. What accounts for that in this day and age?

A: The people that run organizations like the Human Rights Campaign are privileged white people. In all honesty, they're out for themselves and getting what they can get. When they have power, they'll look out for those who they consider to be less powerful or less important than they are. They don't represent me. They represent their own selfish interests as bourgeois white people who really are angry that they're looked down upon. I think they're disgusting sell-out pigs. But, hey, that's always been the split in the gay community: “Why don't you just put on some pants and be a man and go and get your rights, faggot!”


Monday, February 25, 2008

9:30pm:   Mondays are long days.  Actually, most days seem to be long lately. 

I want to thank everyone from the event at Roanoke for their wonderful kindness and hospitality to both Elizabeth and I.  We took a couple of photos (see left).

I can't imagine having things like that available to me as a student.  When I went to college all those many long years ago they didn't have events, or support, or community like that.  Elizabeth and I sat at breakfast with a couple of the guys (who are younger than my son) who explained to us about "Drag Bingo" - apparently something that's very popular on their campus.  Drag Bingo??!  That's something I'll need to see for myself one of these days...

My friend Hailey from the Washington DC area was there and it was nice to see her, as always.  On Sunday she sent me some of her thoughts on the conference - the main theme of which was community - and I'm happy to share them here for those who are interested.

A couple of friends from the other side of the state made the trip to Roanoke and it was nice to see them there as well.  They gave me a coffee cup decorated with a rose and one of my quotes from Southern Comfort a couple of years ago: "My Social Consciousness is a HUGE pain in the ass."  It's very cool!  Thanks so much to them for that...

There's a news story from a Houston television station about a transsexual police sergeant there (See it here).  It's well done for a news story.

The National Center for Transgender Equality announced the dates of their 2008 Lobby Day (April 14-15) in Washington DC.  Last year's event was something I won't forget - Elizabeth and I and Elizabeth's 80-something year old grandmother Dee were marching around on Capitol Hill in support of Hate Crimes and ENDA.  I'm going to try to get back there again for this and I'd recommend it for anyone who can get there.  Anyway, details of the event are here.

Lastly, if you live anywhere near NYC and want to sit at our table for the GLAAD Media Awards there on March 17 let me know.  After March 5 they start to fill empty spots with whoever they want.  GLAAD is doing some wonderful work, and they certainly know how to throw a party.  It'll be here before you know it.

12:30am:   I suppose technically it's Monday already.  My flight landed here in Phoenix at 11, I made it home ok.  I cleaned up and unpacked a bit, and I'm catching up on email for a few minutes in hopes of winding down.

I mentioned in my last hurried update that I expected more detail of just what happened at the HRC Dinner in NYC on Saturday would become available soon.  There's an article in the Gay City News that I think helps to drive home just how much damage HRC has done to its credibility.  According to the report, not a single elected official in NYC attended the event.  For a "political" organization, this sends a significant message.  Some excerpts:

Snubbed by NYC Pols, HRC Answers Its Critics

Faced with a boisterous picket line that drew a crowd of more than 50 and with the absence of every lesbian, gay, and bisexual elected official from New York City -- and nearly every other prominent city Democrat -- Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, used his keynote address at the group's annual Midtown Manhattan dinner to answer critics who fault it for going along with a version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that does not include protections for transgendered Americans.

"I understand and I hear every day that some members of our community are feeling forgotten or left behind. It is easy to understand why," Solmonese told a crowd approaching 1,000 in the ballroom of the Hilton on February 23. But he also said, "We have to overlook our differences and we have got to see instead of our individual wants and immediate desires... a vision for the America that we all want to live in."

As originally introduced after the 2006 elections, ENDA included protections based on gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation, but in late September out gay Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts, one of the bill's key sponsors, announced that it would not clear the House with the transgender protections. Even as more than 300 LGBT groups nationwide demanded that the measure be pulled or defeated if there was no gender identity language, HRC at first said it neither supported nor opposed the revised bill and then on the eve of the floor vote urged House members to vote for it.

In his toughest volley against some in the LGBT community who argue that HRC has lost its right to lead the battle on ENDA, Solmonese suggested it is others who have left the field.

"I have to ask myself: When did we all become so impatient? When did we say to ourselves, okay that civil rights thing, I'll give it a year, maybe two, then I'm done," he said. "Let me be very clear: No, we are not done. We are in the grueling, blinding middle of this fight and the middle of this fight is the hardest part."

One elected official who joined the protest was Queens City Councilman Hiram Monterrate, there at the invitation of the Jim Owles Club. Roskoff lauded the many other elected officials who, he said, "took a big step" in boycotting a dinner they typically attend.

In fact, of numerous elected officials who in past years attended but were not there this time, only Micah Kellner, an openly bisexual East Side Democratic assemblyman, attributed his absence to the boycott. Others insisted, on the record, that they had scheduling conflicts, though Kellner's statement to Gay City News and off-the-record comments by staff members of several elected officials, pointed to a conscious effort to avoid the HRC event.

Kellner was among those that dinner officials from the stage announced as being on hand, but this reporter did not see him, and when reached by telephone the assemblyman said, "I was not there. I boycotted like everyone else. And I was really quite annoyed that they put my name on their press release. I phoned them late yesterday to make clear I was not coming."

Christine Quinn, the out lesbian speaker of the City Council who addressed the HRC dinner in past years, attributed her absence to "scheduling conflicts." In an email statement to Gay City News, a spokesperson for Quinn added, "However, the Speaker has also made clear that she was very disappointed that the action taken by Congress with the Employment and Non-Discrimination Act did not include gender identity. Moreover, the Speaker is stunned that the Human Rights Campaign is penalizing those Congressmembers who support a pro-LGBT agenda, and who voted against the Act because it didn't include transgenders. The Speaker applauds her colleagues from New York -- Congressmembers Clarke, Nadler, Towns, Velazquez, and Weiner -- for their stand."

Quinn's lesbian colleague on the Council, Lower East Side Democrat Rosie Mendez was also absent, as were out gay and lesbian Democratic legislators Senator Tom Duane of Chelsea, and Assemblymembers Deborah Glick of the Village and Matt Titone of Staten Island.

As late as February 22, HRC had gay Upper West Side Democrat Daniel O'Donnell, who steered the marriage equality bill to passage in the Assembly last summer, slated on their program to present the group's community service award to Marriage Equality New York, but that same day O'Donnell's office told Gay City News that he too had a scheduling conflict.

At a dinner which has been addressed in past years by Senator Schumer, among many, there were no more than two members of Congress on hand. Upstate Democrat John Hall was there, and HRC announced that Brooklyn's Yvette D. Clarke was also in attendance. Clarke was among the seven Democrats who voted against ENDA in protest of the lack of trans protections, and Gay City News has not yet been able to confirm that she was in fact at the Hilton Saturday night.

Several Democratic officials from Long Island, upstate, New Jersey, and Connecticut did attend the dinner, and the job of presenting Marriage Equality's award fell to Jason Bartlett, a freshman Democratic state representative in Connecticut who came out publicly just four days before the dinner.

A press release from Marriage Equality New York (MENY) about its award noted that "HRC's stance on ENDA is clearly not in-line with our inclusive mission and disappoints those who believe we cannot leave anyone behind" and that the group "has ALWAYS been trans-inclusive and has always stood on the right side of this civil rights fight."

Read the entire article here

I think another telling thing is that in the video blog that I shared yesterday, the man who attended the event said things that I agree with word for word.  The fact that people in the larger GLB community see through what happened is, again, telling:

"There were protestors outside, and the protesters were there because the HRC did some back-room politics to remove transgender people from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act last year.  I have to say that I am not impressed with HRC's doing that. I think that, in order to advance civil rights legislation by excluding a particular group, and really kind of casting them aside, is a reprehensible thing to do.  During the night, Joe Solmonese, who it the President of HRC gave a speech where he tried to justify that action and I was incredulous towards him.  I think that what they did - that it was always planned that they would, at some point, if they felt they didn't have the votes, get rid of the trans community in order to pass something.  And while the HRC said that it was a historic feat, and it was, it's tainted by the fact that we as a community couldn't stand together to get this historic feat.  I would have much preferred to have let history wait a year or two and continue to educate and while we continue to lobby in order to have that particular bill passed."

See it here

Reprehensible.  Yes, it is.  Incredulous.  Yes, me too.

One of the main ironies in Joe's comments is that he's trying to charge that the rest of the community isn't being patient (blame the victim?).  Au contraire.  The organization not being patient here is HRC.  They're the ones willing to fracture the community in the rush to get something passed, even if it's a symbolic and largely empty victory.  I'm fully convinced that history will unmask what happened for what it really was and that a shift in the balance of power is in the offing.  I expect to be proven more right than I want to be.

I am preparing my next Bilerico article and it will deal with some of the behind-the-scenes things that happened during ENDA that need to be told.  Very few people know the details that I do, and I haven't had a single person from HRC reach out to me to talk, to share, to have an honest discussion about what happened.  Not one.  In fact, I call people that I have come to consider friends inside the organization and my calls don't get returned any more.  Not from anyone.   Anyway, stay tuned for the next chapter in this continuing fascinating drama.

There's a recent article in the Southern Voice reporting on the closed-door United ENDA session at Creating Change that I mentioned:

Activists seek reconciliation, renewed push for ENDA

After emerging from a closed-door meeting in Detroit on Feb. 8, United ENDA Coalition officials stopped short of calling for the creation of a new gay rights lobbying organization in Washington.

In the midst of a heated dispute over ENDA, some gay and transgender activists called for transforming United ENDA into a new, grassroots oriented organization in Washington to serve as the GLBT community’s lobbying arm. The Human Rights Campaign has served as the community’s main advocacy group before Congress and federal government agencies for more than 20 years but came under fire after refusing to oppose the gay-only version of ENDA last year.

HRC announced more than four years ago that the group wanted Congress to pass a trans-inclusive version of ENDA and it would oppose any efforts to restrict the bill to sexual orientation only protections. But in October, HRC President Joe Solmonese said HRC had to adapt to changing circumstances when Pelosi and Frank, along with other Democratic leaders, announced they would put forward a gay-only version of the bill after determining they didn’t have the votes to pass the broader, trans-inclusive version.

Solmonese said it would be untenable for HRC to ask members of Congress to vote against a gay rights bill after the group had lobbied for gay rights legislation for years.

Read complete article here

Another interesting thing....The largest bequest ever made to the GLBT community was recently made by the estate of Ric Weiland, one of the first 5 employees at Microsoft.  He left an astounding $46 million to a number of organizations.  These organizations include:

Mr. Weiland's estate explained: "Mr. Weiland took the care to identify the organizations he felt could best serve the community now and in the future."   Do you see a significant name missing from that list?  I do. (read details here).  Somehow, I envision the HRC working overtime on how to spin this.  No matter how they do, there's no $$$ in it for them.

It probably sounds like I'm piling on HRC.  I'm not.  I'm holding them accountable, but I'm just not seeing anything to even give them the benefit of a doubt.  A couple of recent examples:

If this is "Project Win-Back" in motion then I think it's time to re-huddle, or to punt.  Opportunity after opportunity comes and goes.  If someone on that board or on senior staff were passionate enough to champion it we might see different outcomes.  But the fact that there continues to be this shroud of secrecy, a continuing drive to portray things as business-as-usual, and a constant theme of denial leads me to a single disappointing conclusion.

Balance of power shift.  Reprehensible. All of this evedince is just like global warming - people can find any number of ways to rationalize that it's just a figment of an overactive imagination.  The proof is unfolding as we speak and it will become more and more difficult to deny the obvious.

Lastly for tonight, another of us was murdered on Friday in Ft. Lauderdale (read details here).  It's tragic.  Again.  The education we're talking about needs to do more than simply move votes in Congress.  It needs to stop this tidal wave of hate and violence. 

Time for bed....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

2:00pm:   I'm packing up, getting ready to head to the airport for my flight home.  This trip has gone way too fast.

The folks at Roanoke College were absolutely fantastic.  I was happy with my talk, they got me a birthday cake and everyone sang happy birthday, the people were absolutely wonderful and both Elizabeth and I can't thank everyone enough for their wonderful hospitality.  If anyone who reads this attended and wants to share general thoughts about the conference or any part of it please sent it along.  I'm happy to post it.

The same is true for Colorado Gold Rush, which also happened this week in Denver.  I've heard various reports about how things went but if you attended and want to send your thoughts, an overview, or anything to share I'm happy to post that, as well.  I think it's important to be able to share these important events with more than simply the people fortunate enough to be able to attend.

Speaking about sharing, someone who attended the HRC dinner in NYC last night has already posted his observations and some video of the event on YouTube on his blog (see it here).  I expect that there will be more of these surfacing over the next few days.

Elizabeth and I drove 7 hours after my talk yesterday afternoon and got home before midnight.  We spent the morning with her kids, and took a nice and much needed leisurely walk along the beach.  I find these things to be good "soul food", and have been soaking up as much of it as I can.  I'll have photos of that, too.  All I need is some time to download them and get them up.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

9:00am:   I only have a couple of minutes before I need to get going but figured I'd get things caught up here....

As I alluded to in previous posts things have been moving quickly in my world lately - lots of moving parts.  I worked all day Wednesday and caught a late afternoon flight to Charleston.  Somehow it all worked, although we touched down after midnight which was over an hour late.  Elizabeth was a trooper and picked me up - so good to see her.

My birthday yesterday was a quiet one.   I got to sleep in late - which was a much needed treat.  But after a few hours of work (Fridays are extra busy) we hit the road to make the 400 mile drive to Roanoke College.  My mom was concerned because the Weather Channel was warning of potential snow and freezing rain, but the trip was relatively uneventful and fine.

We stopped mid-way - in Jonesville, North Carolina - for a bit of birthday dinner.  I was nice...candlelight, table for two....except of course if you somehow don't think of Cracker Barrel as romantic.  Thankfully, Elizabeth and I do.  It was funny...the table next to us had a family of 10 at it and the waitress arrive with arms full of food.  She had to stand there for a minute while the family said grace.  Elizabeth said you know you're in the boonies when more than half of the people in a packed restaurant are wearing camouflage.  Anyway, we got here at 10 last night.

Thanks to all who wrote to me yesterday - I'm way behind on email.  Perhaps the most significant surprise of the day is that I got a call from my ex-wife wishing me a Happy Birthday.  I didn't expect that.  We had a cordial talk about birthdays past and, as often happens when we talk about the past, she started to cry but we kept the tears to a minimum.

I'm in Salem, VA this morning - at Roanoke College.  We stayed at an old house on campus for visiting faculty and such, called Monterey House (photo to the left).  It was built in 1853 and the first thing Elizabeth said is that she bet the place was haunted.  We've had fun with that all night long.  Anyway, it's nice.  I'm the keynote speaker from 2-3, there is a reception afterwards, and then we'll hit the road for the drive back.  I expect we'll get home at midnight.

I wanted to mention a couple of things this morning before heading off to breakfast....

There was a news report in Denver about the transgender 2nd grader there.  It's better than the last report that this reporter did.  You can read it, and see the video report.

The following alert went out yesterday about a situation in Montgomery County, Maryland.  It's self-explanatory and the possible implications could be significant.  If you can help to fight this, please see the instructions at the end.  This kind of hysteria and fear-mongering needs to be confronted forcefully everywhere it erupts because it's part of the package that somehow empowers people to take more drastic, violent actions.

Last November, the Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a law to ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression. After the law passed, anti-LGBT extremists, calling themselves Citizens for a Responsible Government (CRG), and buoyed by organizations like the Family Research Council, created a campaign of scare tactics. CRG established a web site (, robo-called hundreds of thousands of people, and began distributing literature to scare County residents into believing that "men in dresses" are going to sneak into women's and girl's bathrooms and locker rooms and prey upon them. The rhetoric has been nasty, scary, and effective. Their goal was to collect 25,000 valid signatures to overturn the anti-discrimination law at the ballot this November. Equality Maryland and a local parents' group, Teach the Facts, mounted a modest "Decline to Sign" campaign. Still, this week, CRG turned in over 30,000 signatures to the Board of Elections in hopes of bringing the measure to referendum.

Equality Maryland believes CRG may have violated a number of election laws in gathering signatures; yesterday, EQMD hired legal counsel to help

challenge signatures and oversee the County Board of Elections' certification process. The attorney is taking the case at reduced rates and volunteers are being solicited to help, but Equality Maryland is now bleeding out thousands of dollars it does not have, as well as critical staff resources that are being diverted away from Annapolis during the height of their three month legislative session -- a legislative session that could see the passage of a statewide transgender anti-discrimination law, among other crucial LGBT protections.

The issue is being followed closely by Washington, D.C. news stations, The Washington Post, and other local media that attract the attention of members of Congress. If this measure reaches the ballot in November, it will be the first stand-alone transgender anti-discrimination law in the country to go to referendum. If we cannot stop this from reaching the ballot, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and beyond will be faced with anti-transgender rhetoric for nine months. You can imagine how problematic a campaign like this could be, as we try to spend the rest of 2008 educating members of Congress about the need for gender identity protections in federal non-discrimination law.

We don’t normally use this network for financial solicitations, and we don’t intend to start soliciting regularly. But this really is a unique situation that will directly impact our efforts to pass an inclusive federal bill. Equality Maryland is fronting a lot of expenses to support this legal challenge, and those expenses are going to grow over the next week. Please join us in supporting Equality Maryland financially today at this crucial time. A secure donation can be made online at their web site:

Put "United ENDA" under special instructions, and your contribution will go directly to support the costs of fighting this possible referendum.

You can also call their office at (888) 440-9944 to make a donation over the phone or send a check with "United ENDA" in the memo line to "Equality Maryland, 1319 Apple Avenue, Silver Spring, MD, 20910.

MTV announced a National Day of Silence to remember murdered Jr. High School student Lawrence King on Feb 12. (details here).  In related news, the Transgender Law Center said the oppose charging the alleged shooter, who is 14 years old, as an adult. (details here).

On the Tyra Banks Show on Tuesday:

Inside the Operating Room for a Sex Change
Watch one transgender's emotional journey to become the woman she feels she has always been. Alaina bravely opens up about her three-year transition from male to female. Cameras document the sexual reassignment surgery that makes her a legal woman. Her fiancé and mom join her on stage before and after the surgery. Both say they'll lend unconditional support. Then, meet a Tyra Show employee who is in the beginning stages of becoming a woman. Hear her journey and troubled past. Plus, find out what it was like to come out to co-workers and hear what she has planned for the future.

Lots more going on but that's all I have time for this morning.  I'll try to catch up a little tomorrow.....


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

11:50pm:   I am back from my whirlwind trip to beautiful Spokane, WA.  Thanks to Trish and the rest of the gang who came to my talks at Spokane Falls Community College (some chose to endure my talks not just once - but twice).  One person approached me after my talk last night and said that he hoped that Spokane had a transgender community but he never knew where to find them.  They were out in force last night.

The only hitch in the entire trip is that my flight home was delayed by a couple of hours so it's midnight and I just got home.  That would normally be bad news, but it delayed us to the point where we had a perfect view of the lunar eclipse tonight - right out my window.  It was like having my own window on it - above the cloud.  It was truly fun to watch.

At this time tomorrow I'll be in Charleston.   I need to repack tonight, I've got a full day of work ahead of me tomorrow, and then a late afternoon flight arriving in Charleston at midnight.  The pace of my visit there will be similarly crazy, but it'll be nice to see Elizabeth even though there won't be much opportunity for down time.

There are a couple of articles of interest I should mention...

The first is the report in Time Magazine about the murder of Jr. High School student Lawrence King in Oxnard, CA last week.  It's titled, Prosecuting the Gay Teen Murder.  It sparked a response from GLSEN in the Houston Voice today.  In the meantime, more candlelight vigils are scheduled in Sacramento, Fresno, and West Hollywood.

If you want to see how bad reporting is done there's an article in The Saginaw News about an upcoming visit from Julie Nemecek to give a talk there.  The title of the article is Transgendered Cross-Dresser to Visit Saginaw.  It says: "Nemecek came out as a transgendered cross-dresser -- she is married to a woman, has had no gender-altering surgeries but wears women's attire -- and legally changed her name three days before college administrators fired her in February 2007 after 16 years of teaching there. "  A little later it goes on to say, "She was diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, or Gender Dysphoria, which psychologists consider a rare neurological condition that likely begins in the womb."  I'd expect to see this kind of garbage in some right-wing flyer, but not in a "reputable" newspaper.

There was an article in the New York Times yesterday about a new talk show host in India.  The catch?  She's trans.  The story is an interesting one, and I can't wait until something similar happens in this country.  It will be huge.

A group in Maryland is trying to overturn recent legislation adding gender identity to the county discrimination policy.  (read about it here). 

I need to keep things short.  The morning is just around the corner so that's all for tonight.....

,Monday, February 18, 2008

8:00pm:   My schedule over the next few weeks is as follows:




Feb. 19-20 Spokane, WA Spokane Falls Community College (details here)
Feb 21 To Charleston, SC to see Elizabeth
Feb 23 Roanoke, VA Roanoke Pride - Breaking Down the Rainbow Festival  Keynote.
Feb 27 Kalamazoo, MI Kalamazoo College (details here)
Feb 29-Mar 1 Boston, MA Harvard Lambda Legal Advocacy Conference - panel moderator
Mar 14-16 Berkeley, CA 3rd Annual Transgender Leadership Summit.  Jamison and I will do the closing Plenary.
Mar 17 New York, NY GLAAD Media Awards - NY
Mar 18 Newark, Delaware University of Delaware Transweek

If I still have a job by this time next month it'll be a miracle.  Wish me luck.

8:00am:   The good news about Holidays is that traffic is generally lighter.  Of course, there are often other perks too but President's Day isn't really one of the biggies.  No cards.  No candy.  No picnics or religious observances.  It's sort of like they realized that they needed some sort of holiday between New Year's and Easter so this is it.

I've got a couple of HRC-related tidbits to share this morning.  The HRC Carolinas dinner was held in Charlotte, NC this past weekend.  I received a call about the Transgender education initiative there, and expect that additional details will be forthcoming.  The most interesting news is from an article in yesterday's Charlotte Observer making specific mention of the fact that attendance was down this year, from it's usual 1,500 people to 1,200.  That's still a lot of people, but represents a 20% drop that'sconsistent with what we've seen so far in Austin, Phoenix, and Philadelphia.  Organizers said this about the dip in attendance: "Fewer tickets were sold for the annual event, which usually attracts about 1,500. The event was on a different weekend than usual and people are trying to save money with a poor economy, organizers said."  (read the story here).  Does that wash with you?  It doesn't with me.

There are already plans underway for larger scale efforts at upcoming galas in NYC and in Houston.  Demonstrators in NYC are urging award winners Vanessa Williams and Idina Menzel not to attend (read details).  It's truly a shame it has come to this, but I truly believe that events of last autumn have damaged their credibility to the point that it significantly affects their bottom line.  I don't think the true fallout of it all will become fully apparent for quite some time. 

Sunday, February 17, 2008

6:00pm:   Maybe this weekend represents the "transgender lifestyle".  I met my son for a late breakfast.  I did some shopping, some cleaning, and a couple of loads of wash.  I spent some time out front enjoying the 70 degree weather, spraying weed killer on the weeds poking their heads through the gravel in my front yard.  I'm planning to grill a hamburger for dins and get to bed early - 5:05am comes way too early.  Somehow, I don't feel like I'm a threat to Western civilization.  At least not today.

I've gotten a few emails on U2 so I figured I'd share one of their songs that hits home for me.... 

Speaking of videos, Marti Abernathy pulls together something she calls "Transgender YouTube Sunday" on  If you've got a few minutes head over there (here's the link) to check some of them out.  As Marti says, the second one is a particularly good Trans 101 and well worth watching.

Apparently not everyone wants to learn.  A Tennessee legislator has proposed legislation there to prevent talk about anything other than heterosexuality in public schools there:

State Rep. Stacey Campfield, a Knoxville Republican, has proposed legislation to forbid "any instruction or materials discussing sexual orientation other than heterosexuality" in Tennessee elementary or middle schools.

"It's such a blatant attack on freedom of speech," responded Marisa Richmond, president and lobbyist for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.

Advocates for gay and transgender rights say they have noticed an alarming trend of their own: an assault on their lifestyle, which has required them to raise their profile in Tennessee politics.

In recent years as the culture war has escalated, they've gone up against bills banning them from adopting or being joined in civil unions. Two groups, the Tennessee Equality Project and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, have now hired lobbyists.

Read the entire article here

There is a trans conference in Denver this coming week that I'd love to get to, but will be in Virginia instead.  It's Colorado Gold Rush Conference, sponsored by the Gender Identity Center of Colorado. Maggie Stumpp from Prudential will be there.  So will Jenny Boylan.  Over these past few weeks I've mentioned Kim Pearson, the Executive Director of Trans Youth Family Advocates (TYFA) several times.  She'll be there, too (make sure to hug her, and to donate if you can - anything will help). 

Speaking of Kim from TYFA and of Denver, the situation there with the 8-year old child made the Washington Times today (link here).  They interview Kim, and she is articulate and poignant as always.  I find the last comment to be a good dig - the fact that after months of careful planning this situation was "outed" by a particular father who just can't keep his mouth closed.

Finally, the IFGE Conference is coming to Tucson during the first week of April and I'll be there (read a recent Press Release about it here).  Early April is a beautiful time of year here - get ready to be wow'd.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

9:00pm:   This is my last "down" weekend in quite a while so I'm doing my best to take it easy. 

I went to see the U23D movie at the IMAX theater this afternoon which was both good and bad.  It's good because it was an amazing movie.  It's bad because it has quite probably ruined any concert movie (or perhaps even any concert experience) that I see from this point on.  It was a total sensory onslaught - 3D glasses provided a wild perspective, camera angles that put you right up on stage, crystal clear sound, a 6-story high screen, it was truly a cornucopia for the the senses.

There was a haunting version of "One" and the movie is worth seeing for that alone.  But there's so much more. 

As Bono is introducing One he says "The difficulties of our pasts will not prevent us from making a better future for ourselves."  He explains that they key is to act as "One".  Needless to say, it has a unique significance to me (there is a video of it posted on Youtube - not the movie version but it still gives me goosebumps).

I also uploaded my first post to Bilerico this afternoon.  I'm figuring that the people who visit Bilerico may not be familiar with me, how I think, how I write, or anything else so I started with something simple:  Donna Rose: A Self-Introduction.  If you get some time and haven't visited Bilerico before you might want to check it out.  There are already a number of well-respected trans activists there as well as a very diverse group of regular contributors.  Part of the agreement is to post something new there at least once every two weeks and I expect the things I post will be similar but different than the things I post here. 

There was a posting on Bilerico earlier today titled Southern California Mourns 15-Year Old Shooting Victim Larry King that is very moving.  Most moving, however are the powerful remarks of Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center CEO Lori Jean at a news conference from yesterday, captured on video.  Watch it, truly inhale the words, and you will feel how so many of us feel about this unspeakably tragedy.  Then, download the printed version of her remarks and share it with people in your communities. 

While you're there, stop at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center's Home Page and watch the "A Day In The Life of the Center" video in the top right corner of the page.  It's almost ten minutes long and well worth watching.  The problem is that these kinds of things are few and far between, and the need for them has never been greater.

Susan Stanton is back in the news again, but this time it's related to her job.  She's reportedly a finalist for the Iowa City City Manager job.  Best luck to her with that - I really hope she gets it.

Lastly for tonight, there's an extended article titled "The Transgender Moment: Evangelicals hope to respond with both moral authority and biblical compassion to gender identity disorder."  It appears, of all places, in the February 2008 edition of Christianity Today magazine. (read it here).  Although it's not as righteous as many others I've seen, and in fact has some positive stuff in it, in the end they still see us as mentally "confused" and in need of psychiatric counseling. 

Jerry Leach, director of Reality Resources, a ministry in Lexington, Kentucky, to people dealing with gender confusion, shares Chambers's point of view. Leach says, "Rather than cutting tissue by invasive surgery and starting a new life, which for the most part doesn't work, people need to find help psychiatrically."

Leach has become the referral point person for several national Christian organizations on this topic. "The essence of who you are in your genetics, anatomy, chromosomes, and DNA does not suddenly change by surgical amputation."

I continue to find it difficult to rationalize how a doctine built on a tenet of not judging others is also founded upon doing just that.  And, I find it difficult to understand how the church can talk about "soul" and "spirit" on one hand, but then argue that "the essense of who you are is in your genetics."  As with most thing having to deal with faith, these are not rational arguments.  You either believe, or you don't.  In this case, I don't.

They specifically talk about Julie Nemecek from Michigan in the article.  She was at Creating Change in Detroit and we spent a little while chatting; she seems to be doing well....

6:30am:   Don't ask me what I'm doing up at 6am on a Saturday morning when I should be sleeping.  I wish I knew.

There's a news report on the Vigil in Oxnard from last night for slain Jr. High School student Larry King.

There's also a press story already online: Slain teen remembered as fun, quirky at Rainbow Alliance candlelight vigil

And, there's a heart-breaking story out of the UK about a 10-year old who took his own life: Gender torment of 10-year-old Cameron

On one hand you have these poignant, incredibly sad reminders of the dangers so many of our youth face each and every day: at school, at home, in life.  Contrast that to a new T-shirt being marketed to raise money for HRC, based on Joe's comments on The Colbert Report last week:

Someone in a position of authority at HRC thought this was a good idea?  (More info. here)


Friday, February 15, 2008

12:30pm:   Outgoing Task Force ED Matt Foreman has always said it the way it is, but seems freer to say what he's really feeling now that he's leaving.  This was particularly apparent on Wednesday's Mike Signorile's Sirius OutQ show on Wednesday when, deconstructing the entire ENDA fiasco, he said what many in the trans community (and beyond) have felt for months:

"Representative Frank," continues Foreman, "who has always been pretty squeamish on the trans issue, and I guess I can say these things because I am leaving my job..."

"That's what we hoped you'd do," Signorile says to Foreman.

Foreman goes on: "...You know, said 'Look the best way to pass ENDA, and the easiest way is to -- let's take out gender identity,' and I don't think the Speaker's people thought this through--didn't think it through--and then they said 'OK, let's do it'."

There's a lot of good stuff in this interview, so if you've got some time to listen you can hear it all on PageOneQ from Wednesday.

As you might imagine, this didn't sit well with Barney who called those remarks "absurd" and asked to be able to rebut them on Thursday's show.  Barney is not shy about saying what's on his mind either, and blasted Matt right back - saying that he's "covering his ass" and implying that he's being fired from his job.  Again, there's quite a bit of interesting swordplay here and you can listen to Barney Frank's response on PageOneQ from Thursday.

There's much to know that's not being shared - not about past history but about current and short-term future events.  Conversations are underway about Congressional hearings to feature trans-people.  The original plan to include Susan Stanton and a short list of others is no longer on the table.  Instead, a much more far-reaching plan is being discussed that, if done properly, has the potential to be amazing and historic.  It's a work in progress so sharing more would be premature at this point.  However, I expect that it will all come together in the coming weeks. 

9:00am:   I've got two things to mention, and both of them deal with death.

In the first, the police handling of situation where a transgender victim was shot in the head and dumped in an alley in Detroit last week is being questioned. 

The murder of a transgender woman discovered last week has been mishandled by the Detroit Police Department, said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Trangender Equality.

"Understand that this kind of crime, besides being a tragedy for the victim and her loved ones, makes a lot of people nervous," Keisling said. "Withholding pertinent information is bad public safety."

Keisling is upset with police for refusing to release the name of the victim, as well as referring to the transgender woman as "a man in women's clothing." Police confirmed last Thursday they had identified the victim, who was found shot in the head in a Detroit vacant lot, but refused to release the name at the request of the family.

Michigan Messenger and Between The Lines Web sites filed a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Thursday in an attempt to get police to release the name. Lawyers from the Michigan Press Association have said in a discussion with Michigan Messenger and Between The Lines that withholding the name for family reasons is not legal grounds to deny the information to the public.

"What she was wearing is not relevant nor do we really know what that means," Keisling said. "For all we know, she could be a transgender who has transitioned, is transitioning or simply one who lived as a woman. She could also be a man who was a casual cross-dresser, or, for all we know, she could have been at a Mardi Gras party."

Transgender is an umbrella term used by activists to identify any person who does not fit into strict gender roles. This can include everything from people who have had complete gender-change surgery to a woman who wears jeans rather than a dress.

Police do not usually identify murder victims by the clothing they wear, Keisling said.

Read the entire article here - Source:

 The second thing to mention is a vigil that is scheduled for tonight in Oxnard CA for the 14-year old Jr. High School student who was shot in the head at school on Wednesday.

Dear Friends-

Please spread the word about Friday night’s candlelight vigil to honor Lawrence King, the 15 year old E.O. Green Junior High student who was shot Tuesday, February 12 in Oxnard, CA. King was declared brain-dead Wednesday after he was shot in the head twice by a fellow junior high student at school. According to reports from the L.A. Times, King was perceived to be a gay, gender non-conforming student who had been bullied at school. The suspect, a 14-year old student, has been charged with attempted murder with a hate crime enhancement.

If you live in Southern California, I hope to see you at the vigil to honor King and speak out against school violence.

What:     Vigil for Lawrence King
When:    Friday, February 15   7-9pm, with a walk to the beach beginning at 8pm
Where:   Art Barn -- 856 East Thompson Boulevard Ventura, CA

A flier can be printed at:

For more information please contact the Ventura County Rainbow Alliance at 805 339-6340.

If you live nearby and can make it please try to be there to show support.  GLAAD is trying to get CNN coverage.  There may be politicians and lawmakers there.  It's an important event.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

6:30pm:   Last year on Valentine's Day I was in Charleston, visiting Elizabeth.  It was a gray, cool, windy day and we took a long walk on the beach  We had lunch at an Irish Pub nearby....I remember it like it was yesterday.

From Valentine's Day 2006


It seems that I typically hear songs on Valentine's Day that stick in my head for the duration of the day.  In my entry for Feb. 14 2006 that song was Lonely People by America.  Last year it was Just My Imagination by the Temptations.  This year - for better or for worse - it's a song by Rascal Flatts titled "What Hurts the Most".  I'm not quite sure what that means, if anything, but there's probably some connection to something.

BTW - I got a Valentine's Day Email from the Obama campaign today with a funny cartoon on it.

I went to the doctor's this morning and am feeling a little better.  I stayed home so I didn't have to talk so much which helped the throat.  This doctor is the doctor I went to during my entire transition and going back to him is a hoot.  His assistant is Nicole, who I remember from those early days and who still can't believe how things have changed for me.  I was in Room 1 today - it used to have a big painting of Liza Minelli in it.  I used to stand there with my butt cheek exposed so they could give me my shot, looking right at Liza.  Anyway, Liza is gone and I asked what happened.  Come to find out it was an original Andy Warhol painting and the doctor sold it!  Anyway, my blood pressure was 120/82 so that's good.  They took blood.  And, I got my hormone script refilled.  One question that people ask is whether or not we have to take hormones for the rest of our lives. I don't know that we have to, just as a post-menopausal woman doesn't necessarily have to.  I just know that I will. 

The two stories making headlines today both involve kids and, in a very real way, are related.  One is the 2nd grader in Denver - a story that has become national news and is being treated in hateful and disrespectful ways.  This one father who is complaining that he doesn't want to have to explain to his daughter that one of her classmates doesn't feel like a boy just won't keep his ignorant mouth closed.  His most recent comments:

....Children as young as five years old are realizing their true gender identity and her group [TYFA] wants to help parents who may be resisting the acceptance of this.

"Parents are likely to think this it's a phase, but how long do phases last?" said Pearson. "With these kids, it's something that's very consistent."

That thought is not comforting to Dave M., who believes his daughter is not ready to think about the issue of being transgender.

"I don't think a second grader does have the rationale to decide this life-altering choice," said Dave M.

He is also unhappy with the way the school is handling this.

The district has been preparing for the child's return to this school for months.

Dave M. thinks other parents should have been made aware of this sooner.

"I just find it ironic that they can dictate the dress style of children to make sure they don't wear inappropriate clothing, but they have no controls in place for someone wearing transgender clothing," said Dave M.

Second Grade Boy Lives Life As a Girl

Controls in place??  Transgender clothing??!!  That's as crazy as Barney Frank's "People of Transgender" comment from last fall, except you'd think that Mr. Frank would know better (speaking of Barney Frank, I think he's about to get back on the Transgender radar).

This irresponsible reporting has gotten to the point that GLAAD issued another Action Alert about it.  If you get a chance go to it and look at the 3 video reports.  This has become a topic of conversation around the country and, I daresay, we can expect more of these.  The EDGE in Boston has a good story on the entire situation titled "Transgendered Colo. Child Inspires Support, Condemnation".

It's the parents that are the problem here, not the kids.  The kids can deal with it fine if they're just left alone.  One story I can share: Elizabeth has a son who's 8 years old.  His teacher had been away for a few days, and when she came back to class she explained that her daughter had had surgery to take out her tonsils.  She went on to explain to the kids about surgery.  One of the other kids in class raised his hand and explained that his mother had some surgery, too, to fix a broken bone.  Not to be outdone, Elizabeth's son raised his hand and told the class, as matter-of-factly as can be,  "Well, my father had surgery and now he's a woman."  Elizabeth got a call from the school that night warning her about what had happened and that there might be repercussions.  Don't you know that the teacher got a call from a parent who asked that her child not sit in a desk anywhere near Elizabeth's son.  That's the level of "crazy" involved in all of this.

The tragic incident that I mentioned yesterday has grabbed national headlines as well.  A 15-year old Jr. High School student was shot twice in the back of the head in class, with 20 other students watching on.  Apparently, the victim sometimes wore "makeup, high heels, and other feminine attire."  At this point they're keeping the victim on life support so the organs can be used for organ donations.  The 14-year old who apparently did this is expected to be tried as an adult, and today the shooting was identified as a Hate Crime (Los Angeles time report here).  It's horrible.

If you've seen me speak over the last couple of years you may remember that I sometimes talk about Amancio Corralles, the victim of a hate crime in Yuma, AZ in May 2005 (some details here).  I spoke at a vigil honoring Amancio 3 months later and it's an experience I'll never forget for many, many reasons.  Things somehow seem so clear when you're looking into the eyes of a mom who has just lost an innocent child to a brutal hate crime. The reason I bring this up here is that a bill has been introduced into the state legislature that's a Hate Crimes bill.  It will add Gender Identity or Expression to the list of characteristics that can be used to prosecute a crime as a Hate Crime.  A press release today from the Amancio Project explains the significance:

Of special interest to Yuma, SB 1483 and HB 2752 (Amancio Corrales Act) was introduced. This bill would add gender identity or expression to the existing hate crimes statute to allow law enforcement officials to prosecute anti-transgender and anti-gender variant crimes as hate crimes. The Bill is named after a gay man and gender performer who was murdered in Yuma in 2005 in an apparent bias-motivated attack based on his gender expression. The Amancio Project was formed to support the family and address the issues surrounding this brutal crime.

A suspect was arrested in the case last year but the pre-trial efforts are dragging on and there hasn't even been a trial yet.  The press release goes on to say:

On a closely related topic, the Final Trial Management Conference (FTMC) is scheduled for July 16, 2008 and the Trial is set to begin August 6, 2008.

The FTMC and Trial were reset at the request of the defense citing an inability to gather the evidence to move forward at this time and scheduling conflicts.

The family and The Amancio Project are extremely dismayed at the continuing delays. During a discussion with the Court Appointed Victim's Advocate today by telephone we expressed our frustration in the strongest terms possible. "While the victim does have a right to a speedy trial, the rights of the accused take precedent" said the Victim's Advocate.

The suspect, Ruben Soloria-Valenzuela, has not made bond and is incarcerated in the Yuma County Jail facility.

It's not just happening in one place. It's happening everywhere.  If people ask me the most supportive community for transgender and gender variant people in this country I'll invariably include Seattle in a very short list.  There was an article in the Seattle Times today talking about violence and harassment against trans-folk there:

"Humiliating." "Embarrassing." "Terrifying."

That's how a transgender woman described being accosted by a man who she says called her names and threatened her as she walked down a Capitol Hill street in the middle of the day.

The Oct. 20 incident, which resulted in the arrest of a man, is one of several similar incidents on Capitol Hill since June. King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mike Hogan says it's part of a spike in malicious-harassment incidents targeting gays and transgender people on Capitol Hill.

Hogan said the incidents appear to be random and not part of any organized effort.

Capitol Hill sees spike in malicious harassment attacks - Seattle Times

What impact does all of this have on community activism?  That's part of what I wanted to assess for myself at Creating Change.  One potential outcome is that people would be sick up fed of all the crap, demoralized, and apathetic.  The other is that they'd be defiant and re-energized to action, and I'm glad to say that he 2,100+ people there were very much full of the latter.  One local newspaper wrote a recap of the event staying:

Foreman's [State of the Movement] speech was an incredible one, and it exemplified what the entire conference was about. In addition to his speech, there were many memorable and empowering moments at Creating Change. There were amazing speeches given by NAACP Chairman and Civil Rights activist Julian Bond and Bishop V. Gene Robinson. There were social events, from the Awareness Ball to Between The Lines and GM's media reception. And, of course, there were over 200 caucuses to choose from over the four-day period. And the attendance was diverse, ranging from high school students to the elderly, transgender people to straight people and hard-core activists to shy first timers.

Getting angry with members of the community won't get anyone anywhere. As Foreman reminded everyone in his address, and as the thousands of different people at the conference showed, the movement is about forgetting differences and fighting together.

Our kids are being brutalized, physically and emotionally, and whenever someone has the nerve to tell me that T doesn't belong with GLB (or vice versa) I tell them they're living in a dream world. I feel the same way when people tell me that transsexuals are "special" and don't belong with the other groups haphazardly lumped together as "transgender".  Bullshit on all of that.  If people could get past their own internalized homophobia, transphobia, and elitism they'd see that arguing about these kinds of things is truly immaterial and, in fact, smacks of the same kind of ignorance that causes a father to trash-talk a gender variant 8-year-old.  Donna's agenda is an agenda that stresses community.  It stresses compassion, and respect, and dignity.  It's about people's freedom to be themselves in whatever way makes them most comfortable - without having to apologize for it, suffer for it, or justify it.  It's an agenda that doesn't see letters, labels, walls, fears, or other things that would in any way make some feel more valued than others. 

I align myself with people, efforts, and organizations that feel similarly.  I reject anything less.  It's absolutely clear to me.  And, when events like these last several days pile on one another we're faced with choices to hide or to speak up.  That's what made Creating Change such a special experience.  The buzz will continue until next year, when we'll do it all again....

After all of the mess with HRC and ENDA last year I got hundreds and hundreds of emails.  The outpouring of support was incredible, and apparently what I said needed to be said and resonated with others as well.  One email is particularly memorable in its simplicity and in its meaning.  It said simply, "Welcome Home". 


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

8:30pm:   I'm coming down with a cold, or the flu, or some other unpleasant winter intruder.  My chest.  My nose.  My throat.  My head.  It's not good and got worse as the day wore on. I envision Nyquil, early bed, and working from home tomorrow.  Coincidentally, I have a doctor's appointment in the morning so perhaps he can help.  It's a good thing this is happening this week and not next week: I'll be in Spokane early next week and then off to Virginia via South Carolina on Thursday.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  It's very much a non-event for me.  I stopped at the store on my way home and the check-out lines were filled with guys buying cards, candy, flowers, and balloons.  It was actually pretty funny....

There's another good online article and video news report about the inclusive Broward County non-discrimination ordinance that got passed last night (see it here - especially click on the video to watch it).  The guy in the piece, Tobias Packer, was at Creating Change in Detroit over the weekend and we spent some time chatting.  Tobias was a South Florida field organizer for Equality Florida during the Largo/Susan Stanton mess last year and he's got some interesting insights into things.  He's waaaay cool.  If you read this Tobias - you rock.

Things have been absolutely crazy at work.  I'm forecasting my resources for the entire year.  Creating detailed project plans.  Participating in Analyze sessions.  Managing finances and giving management briefings.  I manage a team of 20+ people, every single one of whom is Indian.  It has been a learning experience.  What pronoun do you use when you have no idea if a name is a male name or a female name?  Shweta.  Thejasvi.  Mrudula.  Jinu.  Sudhakar.  Shravan.  Srinivas.  Some are so long I can't pronounce them so they mercifully provide a nickname.  With the long days I've been putting in lately and the travel I've been doing no wonder I'm run down.  Sigh.

Jillian Weiss did an interview with Jamison Green and me shortly after we resigned from the HRC Business Council in November.  Her article is in the current edition of Echelon magazine.  She just posted it online (read it here).  Jillian is a gifted writer and advocate, and her book "Transgender Workplace Diversity" is an invaluable reference. 

Speaking of HRC (if only for a moment) there's an interesting quote in the Windy City Times today from NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling that I've heard her say several times now. 

“We believe that they have done a lot of great work,” said Keisling of HRC. “However, what they did was immoral, how they did it was immoral, and they are still doing it immorally.”

Keisling stressed the importance for unity in what she describes as a moral struggle for both the gay and transgender communities, noting that HRC's actions do not show a full support for the LGBT community as a single unit. “Either HRC believes we are a part of their core fabric, or they do not,” she added.

Read the entire article here

I wrote yesterday of the pushback that society uses to enforce its "rules".  The most innocent and defenseless are often the targets.  The most recent horror is a Jr. High School shooting in California today where a student was shot in the head at school.  The shooter is apparently a 14-year old classmate:

The victim was a constant target for other boys, as he would reportedly wear women's jewelry, makeup, and had declared himself gay, according to the Los Angeles Times. Investigators have not verified if the boy is indeed gay.

Read the entire article here

I don't know what emotion that kind of horrific news makes me feel more: anger or sadness.


8:00am:   Kim Pearson, Executive Director of TransYouth Family Advocates, was interviewed on CNN yesterday evening regarding the situation with a transgender 2nd grader in Denver.  TYFA has been working with the family.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

10:00pm:   The transgender community has found itself under attack.  This time it's not by a politician out to solidify a personal legacy or an political advocacy organization with the same initials as a presidential candidate, and the Hard Rock Cafe.  It's happening in the media, and it underscores just how important strong media advocacy is.

The first incident was the headline of a New York Post story printed on Feb. 7 about the fact that the Iraq government apparently covers sex reassignment surgery in their country (this is news??).  The title was "Axis of She-vil: Death to Gays but Free Ops for Iraqi Trannies."  GLAAD put out an Action Alert about it saying, “It reflects the tabloid’s ongoing disregard for journalistic standards and its blatant contempt for transgender people and the entire LGBT community.”

The next idiotic comment happened on FOX TV's The O'Reilly Factor yesterday.  The 3rd annual California Transgender Leadership Conference will be held at UC Berkeley next month (Jamison and I are doing the closing plenary).  During a debate on a totally unrelated topic - military recruitment stations in Berkeley - FOX TV Commentator compared the Trans conference to the war saying that it's "killing our culture".  What???  Where do they find these people and where the heck did that come from?  GLAAD sent out an action alert about that, too.

Most recently, a transgender woman was brutally stabbed to death in New York city over the weekend.  The New York Daily News printed a story about it with the headline, "Fooled John Stabbed Bronx Tranny" (I'd provide a link to it, but it has since been removed and is no longer online).  GLAAD sent out another action alert, ended up working with the editors to change the irresponsible reporting, and a follow-up story was published the following day using the headline, "Slain transgendered neighbor 'a friend of the whole building' a Bronx man says...".  Better.

There has been an additional incident that has not spurred an action alert, but is currently being worked.  The situation of a transgender 2nd grader returning to school as a girl in Colorado has quickly become national news.  This child was outed by parents of other kids in her class who are concerned about the situation, and it wasn't long before the media got involved.  TransYouth Family Advocates Executive Director Kim Pearson, who I mentioned in my posting over the weekend, has been working with the family for some time and was invited to speak about the situation on CNN today.  She was at a GLAAD media training workshop at Creating Change, and GLAAD was working with CNN earlier today to "correct" inappropriate teasers for the interview. 

I've seen letters sent to Denver TV station KUSA-TV and parent corporation Gannett about their report on the situation (both online and on the air).  An excerpt of a note sent to the CEO of Gannet:

The KUSA-TV report vilified gender variance and gender role nonconformity as mental disorder. A local social worker reinforced these worn stereotypes and implied without evidence that this family lacked competent medical and mental health advice. No medical or mental health practitioners with specialized expertise in this field were allowed to respond. Some factual information from Mrs. Kim Pearson, of TransYouth Family Advocates, was later added to text on the KUSA-TV web site. However, her remarks were completely omitted from the broadcast. Mental disorder is defined by behaviors and emotions that represent distress, impairment and dysfunction. Gender variance, in contrast, is characterized by behaviors and emotions considered ordinary and even exemplary for other people. In 2006, the American Psychological Association stated, "Many transgender people do not experience their transgender feelings and traits to be distressing or disabling, which implies that being transgender does not constitute a mental disorder per se."

The KUSA-TV report disparaged an entire class of human beings, yet not one gender variant representative was interviewed. Only one view from the Highlands Ranch Community was presented: one parent with an agenda of intolerance, fear and an ignorant reference to "someone wearing transgender clothing." (There is no such thing; transitioned youth wear clothing that is ordinary and appropriate to their affirmed gender.) Accepting, welcoming parents from Douglas County were excluded from the report. Mr. Garcia also neglected to mention other public school districts across Colorado, where students have transitioned with support of parents, classmates and teachers, and without the intolerance and media circus that has been incited in Douglas County.

In a conversation with GLAAD National News Director Cyndi Creiger today she mentioned that the reporter and the station are open to working with them and that they're "talking" about a follow-up report.  She said they usually try to work with offending media outlets before escalating to a full-fledged action alert, so we're all keeping a close eye on this and we'll see what comes of it.

If you go to the website you'll notice that the top 3 Action Alerts all deal with recent transgender media attacks.  As transgender becomes more and more accepted and common in our society I think you'll see more and more pushback.  Newton's Laws of Motion state that "every action has an equal and opposite reaction".  Just as we can't become desensitized to un-inclusive or insensitive remarks and need to speak up when we hear them we can't close our eyes to these kinds of things, either.  The impacts of allowing them to pass unchallenged will be felt far beyond the audience who hear or see them.

There is good reporting, too. Today, Broward County in Florida (it includes Ft. Lauderdale) unanimously voted to add discrimination protections for transgender residents with little or no controversy.

Transgender residents of Broward County are now protected from discrimination in the workplace and housing as well as in public venues from restaurants to hospitals.

County commissioners on Tuesday expanded their human rights ordinance to encompass gender identity, 13 years after agreeing to protect gays and lesbians. Unlike 1995, there were no threats that government would incur the wrath of voters or God.

Broward becomes the largest Florida community to outlaw transgender discrimination and one of the largest in the nation.

Related links Defining transgender "This is a great county to live in, a very progressive county, and is following what the rest of the country is doing," said Jacqui Charvet, a transgender activist who lives in North Lauderdale.

Transgender residents told commissioners of discrimination and prejudice they've encountered.

Charvet laid a foot-high stack of job applications in front of commissioners and told how she was fired as a manager when she came out as transgender and then was repeatedly rejected by other companies. LeAnna Bradley of Fort Lauderdale said paramedics derided her when she collapsed and needed help three years ago. Nikki Hatch of Pompano Beach told how she had been thrown out of restaurants.

Commissioners unanimously approved the amendment. It defines gender identity as the appearance, expression or behavior of a person regardless of the individual's sex at birth.

Ken Keechl, Broward's first openly gay county commissioner, sponsored the proposal and had the backing of the Human Rights Board that enforces the law. Commissioners said they wanted to ensure no one in Broward faces intolerance.

Read the entire article: Broward votes to protect transgender residents - Feb. 12, 2008

Channel 6 in Ft. Lauderdale reported the vote in a surprisingly well-done report: (see it here).  They followed it up on their 11pm news with the story of a local FTM restaurant owner. (see an extended video interview here).  It's nice to see affirming reporting to balance the hateful stuff.

Speaking of affirming, here's a piece from Vanderbilt University about an effort to update their discrimination policy to cover transgender students (read it here).  Who's getting credit for spearheading this effort?  The Human Rights Campaign. 

Another thing from Creating Change: NCTE had some interesting swag on their table.  They had "EQUALI_T: it's not equality without the T" on nice cotton T-Shirts, buttons, and 3.5x2 inch stickers.  They had pretty blue door-knob signs like you'd see in a hotel that said in big white letters: "Do Not Disturb" and then, in smaller letters underneath, it continued: "the Unity of our Movement: Support a transgender-inclusive ENDA for a united LGBT community."  They had an edgier sticker that said "Am I too freakin' trans for you?" 

On another topic, 3 more primary wins for Obama tonight.  This is becoming a tidal wave.  I said on Super Sunday the the two teams playing for the prize represented the prohibitive favorite team against the hot team, so it'd be interesting to see who won.  We all know what happened: the hot team won.  The presidential race is following that same path as the momentum behind Obama continues to build.  It's truly extraordinary and I've got to be honest and say I can't see anything slowing it down.  Still, the rules of how delegates get proportionally distributed are going to keep this race close all the way to the end even if Obama runs the table and sweeps all the remaining states.  Pretty soon, though, the question will change from "who's going to be the Democratic candidate?" to "who's his running mate going to be?".

Those who have followed this blog for any length of time might realize that Elizabeth has been absent from my posts for quite a while.  The last time we saw each other was in Atlanta for Southern Comfort last September, and before that for a couple of days in July.  We talk from time to time but there really hasn't been an opportunity to see each other so life goes on: hers and mine.  I'm scheduled to speak in Virginia next weekend, which also happens to include my birthday, so I've made arrangements to spend a couple of days with her before we drive to Roanoke together (about 400 miles).  We'll have a three or four days - not much, but better than nothing.  I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008 (sequence order: earliest to latest time)

10:30am:  First, an update on the HRC dinner in Philadelphia last night.  Kathy Padilla sent a brief note and promised a more detailed update shortly.  She said they had about 70 people attend the vigil, and that all 5 award winners (including the mayor) wore the badges.  I'll provide a more formal update when she provides it.

Now, about Creating Change...

First, I want to give a big shout out to Nikki.  Like Jamy, Nikki and I have gotten to know each other via email over these past few years.  She lives in the Detroit area and took the time to pick me up from the airport at 11:30pm, in the snow.  And, she took me back to the airport at 5:15am yesterday morning.  I can't thank her enough for her kindness; she is a true friend.

I have never attended Creating Change before - this was my first one (I've certainly been creating change, but that seems to come naturally for me).  Until this year the conference was traditionally held in November and I always had a schedule conflict.  Something else always fell on those days where I couldn't get away so I never got there, to my own detriment.  This year there were any number of reasons why I shouldn't go, as well.  A GLAAD Board meeting is scheduled in Las Vegas.  I've got lots going on at work.  Finances.  But after all that has happened I felt drawn there to the point where NOT going was not an option.  I'm so glad I was there.  It reminds me of other eye-opening transformative events I've attended: my first Out and Equal Workplace Summit in Minneapolis in 2003, my first GLAAD Media Awards dinner. 

Not only have I never been here before, but I've never been to anything quite like it before (info on the event here).  There were 1,500+ people there -grassroots people from all over the country.  Executive Directors from local and national organizations.  Community leaders.  Supporters.  In a word - it was a fantastic mix.  It was a much different kind of group than I find at other events I attend and the different dynamic was inescapable.  I had some important conversations, some with people I've met here and there and some with people I've never met before.  I don't think you can put a value on the networking opportunities at these kinds of events, and it was great to have the chance to spend time with conference attendees, with community leaders, and with any number of people you've come to know over the years but may not have actually met in person.

On Thursday there was an all-day session dedicated to Transgender Health Care benefits.  It was well attended and well done.  It was a wonderfully diverse group, all ages, all sectors, across the entire spectrum of the broader community (including our straight allies).  We talked about corporate strategies, non-profit strategies, academic opportunities, and other things of specific concern.  If anyone wants information to begin the process of pressing to remove transgender exclusions from your benefit plans let me know.  Or, if you've started and you have some lessons to learn from I'm interested in those, as well.  Either way, this is the next frontier (see the article on Goldman Sachs that I mentioned yesterday) so collecting experiences, building a base of qualitative data, and setting precedents is the way to move these efforts forward.

Thursday night the Plenary Speaker was NAACP President and civil rights leader Julian Bond.  I first heard him at the HRC National Dinner in 2004 where he spoke that Gay Rights are Civil Rights. He continued and re-emphasized that theme at Creating Change.  The problem with his remarks, however, wasn't what he said.  It's what he didn't say.  He never once, in the entire half hour, said the word transgender or even acknowledged the broader GLBT community.  Everything was Gay this and Gays and Lesbians that, which might fly at an HRC event filled with well-heeled tuxedoed donors, but was conspicuously (uncomfortably so) off-target in this particular venue. 

I realize that Mr. Bond doesn't write his own speeches.  I realize that he re-tools things he has done previously.  As I stood in the back of the room watching this one of the people from GLAAD whispered to me that they had helped him with some of it, but made a point of saying that the version they had provided to him had been more inclusive.  I talked with people from Creating Change who said they had reviewed his remarks with him and had stressed the need to be inclusive.  So why, then, was this so consistently and glaringly lacking?  How does that happen?  It's very troubling, because the remarks were powerful, but a good portion of the hundreds of people in that ballroom was left feeling excluded.

Somehow, we tend to shrug it off as ok when we hear these kinds of things.  We like to believe that speakers actually want to be inclusive but don't know the lingo, or somehow forgot.  Often we feel that gays and lesbians feel we're complainers when we point these things out, or that these things are unimportant.  At the same time, though, I'm sure that if his remarks specifically referenced lesbians but left our any mention of gay men or the broader "gay" community there would be people who would feel slighted and justifiably unhappy.  So, if we're going to go through the effort to stress that we're either a community or we're not and we need to respect the impact that these kinds of omissions have. 

Un-inclusive comments need to be addressed every time we see them.  A couple of years ago at the HRC Dinner in Phoenix the speaker was similarly un-inclusive during his keynote.  The person sitting next to me complained to me, whispering that she'd give this person a piece of her mind if she had the opportunity.  Don't think for a minute that I didn't seek this person out afterwards, bring him over to our table, and help him to realize that the un-inclusive nature of his remarks had not passed un-noticed.  This person is now the Executive Director of a National GLBT organization, and I haven't heard him be un-inclusive since.  That's the kind of stuff I'm talking about.

I am not trying to diminish the power of Mr. Bond's words in any way.  In fact, it's testament to the power of his message that it needs to be more inclusive the next time he speaks about GLBT Rights as Civil Rights.  If this is the kind of "education" we're talking about then I very much agree.  There is tremendous power in words, just as there is power in the lack of them.

Matt Foreman is the Director of the Task Force and recently announced he will be leaving that position.  I'll have more thoughts on that in subsequent posts.  He gave what he titles the "State of the Movement Report" during Friday's afternoon Plenary.  It was totally inclusive, and mirrored Matt's steadfast support for the broader community that made him the lightning rod for UnitedENDA efforts.  The link to a copy of his remarks is provided below.

The transgender community was well represented at the Conference.  I hate to list names because I'm bound to leave someone out, but Phyllis Frye, Masen Davis, Mara, Marsha Botzer, Cole Thayler, Denise Leclair, Gunner Scott, and a whole host of others were there.  The group went onstage after Matt's speech to present him and The Task Force with a plaque recognizing their unwavering support during ENDA, and beyond (photos in my Photo Gallery as described below).

(BTW - There is an interview with Gunner Scott from Massachusetts on YouTube that is well worth watching.  See it here.  To me, this is exactly the kind of sharing that I think is just so powerful and needs broader visibility.  Gunner has been in the news lately - see an article on him here - thanks to events happening in his state.  You'll be seeing more of him.)

For those who couldn't be there, I've collected a multi-media cornucopia from Creating Change.  Portions of some of the speeches have already been posted to YouTube so you can see them for yourself (a short segment from Julian Bond's remarks are there).  A guide to them is provided below.

I also took some photos and uploaded them to something I'm trying.  I have a .Mac account that allows me to publish Web Galleries of photos so I spent a little time playing around with that.  The thing I don't like about it is that I don't see a way to provide a more detailed description of what the photo contains other than the filename itself.  I'll need to investigate this more, but wanted to at least show a few photos from my hectic 2 days in Detroit (see them here).

Some Highlights from Creating Change speeches

Thursday Plenary Speech: NAACP President Julian Bond
Friday Keynote: Matt Foreman's "State of the Movement" Report
Saturday Plenary Speech: Rev. Matthew Robinson
Activist Barbara Satin Honored
Mandy Carter Honored
Mia Mingus receives 2008 Creating Change Award
Bernice Johnson Reagan & Toshi Reagan at Creating Change

I'm sorry I had to leave early, even though the high temperature there today is supposed to be 12 degrees.  I would have loved to have spent the last day there.  But other obligations need to be balanced so I feel fortunate to have been able to participate for an abbreviated visit.  I expect to have more to share in future posts.

Onwards and upwards.... 

5:30pm:  I've been getting feedback on the HRC dinner in Philly last night.  Here's some of the information I have received:

About 70 people participated in the Philadelphia Vigil at the HRC dinner there last night.  It is reported that somewhere near 400 people attended, and at least 50 people wore the NonDivision stickers, including all the major speakers and award winners.

Some press coverage - also one person videoing - hopefully she'll post some. We held a candlelight vigil and a few people spoke - The badges went over well - but I also had it blown up to poster size on vinyl. The heads of several groups attended (Liberty City, The William Way Community Center, Equality Advocates, others).

People wearing the NonDivision/Support Transgender Equality Stickers:

  • Keynote Speaker: Congressman Joe Sestak
  • Special Guest:   The Honorable Michael A. Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia
  • Equality Award winner Honorees: William Way Center (I don't know if Mel did yet - but Dolph did),
  • ALL the Special Record Recognition award winners (Taking a Stand for Equality vs the Boy Scouts: Andy Chirls, Abbie Fletman, Arthur Kaplan, Duane Perry, Stacey Sobel)

In addition, the Keynote , Special Guest, & Dolph (William Way Center Director) spoke in support of Transgender Equality during their remarks. The local HRC Steering Committee leader also stated that HRC needs to do more and be better on the issue.

More to come....

Attendees at the dinner wearing stickers.....

8:00pm:  I didn't want the day to end without revisiting a couple of important things that happened at Creating Change.  I'll call this "Creating Change Revisited."

On Friday afternoon there was a closed-door UnitedENDA update session.  It was open only to Executive Directors and people representing organizations that are part of UnitedENDA, and was so full it became standing-room only.  I was allowed to sit in.

I can't go into details so all I'll say is that I was impressed by what I heard.  The session lasted for over 3 hours - there was much to talk about.  Although all is mercifully quiet on the ENDA front right now there is quite a bit happening in the background.  I think it's important to know that the momentum of last autumn is not lost, and that the mission and the vision continues.  I'm sure there will be much more to come on this in upcoming weeks and months.

On Friday afternoon Matt Foreman gave his "State of the Movement Address".  It was very powerful, and nobody could say that it wasn't front-to-back, top-to-bottom inclusive of everyone in our community.  This is important stuff, so I'm providing some excerpts:

Today, right now, right here in the city of Detroit, the body of a young trans woman, labeled by the police as a “known prostitute”, lies in the Wayne County morgue — shot in the back of the head, her body having been thrown into an alley.

I have been working in this movement for a long time and with victims of violence for longer than that and how many times have we faced this situation — a trans person working the street, brutally murdered. Why are so many trans people forced to stand in the cold, putting their bodies at risk? Why? Because so many of them simply cannot get jobs because of blatant and pervasive discrimination. But they don’t deserve to be in ENDA?

Here's the news story about her death, from last Monday:

Police identify transgender murder victim, refuse to release name
pride, MI - Feb 7, 2008
By Todd Heywood DETROIT-- The Detroit Police Department has identified a murdered man found in women's clothing in an empty lot. However, they are refusing ...

Even in the tragedy of a brutal death there is disrespect...

About ENDA:

I’d now like to address one of the defining moments in our movement’s history, the struggle this last fall to pass an inclusive ENDA. I’d actually like to just look ahead and not back, but given the significance of this struggle to our community’s future, and all the lies, misinformation and distortions put out there, I do need to say a couple of things.

First is this notion of “incrementalism” — meaning that we need to accept the fact that we can only win our equality in little pieces and we should be grateful for that.

I’d like for us all to recall that when the first gay rights bill was introduced in Congress nearly 34 years ago, it was a comprehensive civil rights bill. I’m very proud that the Task Force was a leader on that historic day in 1974 when the bill was introduced. Our founding executive director Bruce Voeller was sitting just to the right of Representatives Ed Koch and Bella Abzug.

That 1974 bill sought to cover discrimination in public accommodations, credit, education, housing and employment. Over the years, it was strengthened and made more explicit. In 1994, when Democrats controlled Congress and the White House, a decision was made to whittle that bill down to cover employment only, the thinking being that an employment-only bill — an ENDA — would have the best chance of passing the Senate.

In 1996, a deal was cut that — in exchange for an up or down vote on ENDA in the Senate — there would also be a vote on a version of the Defense of Marriage Act — DOMA — that Bill Clinton would have no excuse to veto. Well, we know how that deal turned out: ENDA was defeated; DOMA is the law of the land. Some bargain.

Fast forward to 2007 — at last — after years of hard work, we had an ENDA that covered not only discrimination based on sexual orientation but also gender identity.

But then, on Sept. 18 we were summarily informed by House leadership that we didn’t have the votes to pass an inclusive ENDA and therefore gender identity protections would be stripped out and as another sop to the right, ENDA would be amended to give all religious organizations unfettered ability to fire someone because they were gay, lesbian or bisexual, no matter what job they held. Think the janitor in a Catholic hospital or the cook in a Salvation Army kitchen.

So — just to be clear — over the last 34 years we’ve gone from a comprehensive bill, to an employment only bill, to a broken bill that doesn’t include gender identity and does allow blatant discrimination by religious organizations.

In what world can you call going from this to this incremental progress? We — who have been so overwhelmingly generous to the Democratic Party with our votes and our dollars — should be grateful for this? Bow down and say thank you kind sir? No.

The second issue I need to address is whether we had the votes to pass an inclusive ENDA in the House. Well, let’s be clear here: the only person who’d actually done a solid head count was Rep. Tammy Baldwin and she said we had them. She did the head count for the two votes on the inclusive hate crimes bill and she was right on the money.

People now try to say that "the votes just weren't there.” That's just not true. Rather, the concerns brought up at the last minute were about a hypothetical Republican procedural maneuver that never materialized. We heard the exact same concerns about the exact same hypothetical maneuver being tried when they moved the hate crimes bill, but it never materialized then either. And we passed transgender inclusive hate crimes legislation in both chambers of Congress. But when it came to ENDA — our "friends" decided to do our enemies’ dirty work for them, and take out gender identity protections before that was even proposed by a single member of Congress. Something wrong with that? You bet!

With a murdered trans woman lying in Wayne County morgue, I don’t think I need to tell anyone here why gender identity protections are so vital. But there’s also a principle here: We are one community, one people, period.

But more than that, the notion that there is some sort of bright line between gay people and trans people is not only patently offensive, it is crazy. Look at the people in this room, for goodness sake.

And that’s why the notion that a sexual orientation only ENDA will take care of all gay, lesbian or bi people doesn’t wash.

The crescendo:

I believe, I am convinced, and I feel in my heart that we are — right now — and in the words of activist Beth Zemsky — at a critical movement moment — a point in time when you can feel the pendulum — after years of swinging against us and for the forces of intolerance — starting to swing in the direction of justice and equality. This is a moment when we can not only see the possibility of meaningful change, it feels like we can actually make that happen. You could feel it in the United ENDA campaign, and I can feel it in this conference. And given the unprecedented numbers of people participating in the primary elections, it’s clear that we are not alone.

The challenge for us is what are we going to do with this moment. Are we going to seize it or are we going to let it fade away? Is our movement going to be once again seduced by lofty words, invitations to fancy cocktail parties and government appointments, or are we going to insist on tangible deliverables? Are we going to be satisfied with a few crumbs, or demand more.

And equally important, if we do seize this moment, who will benefit from whatever advances come — the privileged few, as usual, or will we be advancing our vision of a transformed society for all?


The fact that Matt is leaving for another opportunity is a significant loss for our entire community.  He will be dearly missed.  Who will take these reigns and move this vision forward?  Who has the ability to unite, the passion to lead, the inspirational voice that invites others to follow?  This is truly a daunting challenge and finding people with the right mix of skills and backgrounds will not be easy.  But it will happen - I have faith in that.  I have written in the past that the entire GLBT community is screaming for an inspirational leader to take it to the next level.  We are looking for our Martin Luther King.  I believe that now more than ever.  It's the right time, for the right person, to do the right things.  The only thing I was wrong about was the organization.  That opportunity has passed...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

5:30pm:  I'm back at home.  It's funny how you can wake up at oh-dark-thirty, in weather that's hovering just below freezing and snow falling to the point where the plane needs to be de-iced befor take-off, and then land in 75-degree sunny weather just a few hours later.  Anyway, I have quite a bit to share this afternoon so this may take a while.  Make yourself comfortable.

Before talking about Creating Change I'd like to mention a few things in the news over this past week.

First, I want to talk about my friend Jamy from Dallas.  Jamy was a pilot for a company there and and had been working for this company for quite a while.  She started writing to me several years ago and kept in touch from time to time as she struggled to keep her career and marriage on track while trying to figure things out.  Things changed abruptly for her in 2005 when she mentioned to a friend at work that she was struggling with some gender issues.  Within hours this friend went to Corporate HR about it, and Jamy was told that she was being put on paid leave effective immediately.  She was freaking out so I called her and we worked through her options.

She lost her job.  Her marriage crumbled.  She started to transition.  She accepted a job at half her former pay.  She's trying to get her flight certification back, facing roadblock after roadblock.  And, she's a poster child for the workplace discrimination so many of us face on a daily basis.  The Dallas Voice heard about her situation and interviewed her last week.  The story was on the front page, titled "The Not So Friendly Skies" (read it here).  Jamy absolutely rocks, and I'm glad that the article does her story justice.  She handles herself with grace and dignity, and I have a feeling she'll be getting more of that kind of attention in the future.

She went with me to the Dallas Black Tie dinner this past year and was one of the group of us who walked out during Joe Solmonese's speech. Anyway, big kudos to Jamy.

Jamy and I at the Dallas Black Tie Dinner in November

Speaking of Joe, he was featured on a 2-part series on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" this past week.  I actually think the first one is pretty funny (watch it here).  I mean, you sometimes have to have a sense of humor and Joe does a good job with an inane conversation. In fact, his facial expressions are priceless - I have no idea how he kept a straight face.  The second part has its moments, too (watch it here).

One thing I think I can share is that I was on the Search Team to find a new Executive Director for HRC after Cheryl Jacques left that position in 2005.  I wasn't on the Board yet - in fact I may have been the only person on the team who wasn't a Board member - and frankly I thought it was a significant gesture to make sure that there was a transgender person involved in that (do you think that would happen today? is that progress?).  After we interviewed him on a snowy day in late February with a late winter Nor'easter bearing down on the city one of the concerns was how would Joe come across on TV.  We hadn't seen how he handled himself but eventually decided that if he had difficulty we could always help him learn the skills.  He seemed very relaxed on this, and very quick.

There was an article on about the 100 best places to work.  One of the things it highlighted was "Unusual Perks".  Specifically, they reported that Goldman Sachs has updated its insurance policies to remove exclusions for transgender wellness benefits, including SRS (read it here).  It's good to see these kinds of things getting this kind of coverage.  Of course, there are those who can't get past the sensationalism of it so The NY Times ran a similar article titled, "Another Goldman Perk: Sex Changes" (read it here).  Sigh. One day this stuff won't be news, it'll just be the norm.  Until then, amazing people are doing fantastic work to make these things happen.

There was a story about a second grader in Colorado who is set to enroll in school as a girl.   It wouldn't be news, except that this child is male bodied (see an article here - get ready to be angry if you read the comments at the bottom, and another here).  I need to take a moment to give a huge shout out for Kim Pearson, Executive Director for Trans-Youth Family Advocates (TYFA).  Kim is absolutely amazing and was at Creating Change this week.  She attended the all-day transgender health session on Thursday - except when her phone kept ringing and she had to run out to deal with this situation.  She has been working with the family and was trying to stay on top of things from afar.  At lunch she was explaining that families are coming out of the woodwork, but that she don't have the budget to cover even the basic travel expenses involved.  One dear friend promptly took our her checkbook and gave Kim a little something to help.  If you can help them please visit their website and contribute (there is a "Make a Donation" button on the top right).  If you write to her, please say 'hi' for me.  And, she'll be at Colorado Gold Rush later this month so if you see her there please give her a hug. She's truly one of the angels in our community.

I had dinner with Calpernia Adams this past Monday.  She's starring in a new TV series debuting on Logo on Feb. 11 titled "Transamerican Love Story".  Calpernia is wonderful and I hope this is well done - I really, really, really do.  I don't watch much TV so I'll Tivo it, just in case.  I got an email from one of the folks at Logo who provided a question to ask about Calpernia:

Calpernia Addams, the star of Transamerican Love Story was born in which one of the following cities:

          a) Las Vegas
          b) New Orleans
          c) Nashville
          d) London

Hint: If you don't know the answer check out the Transamerican Love Story page on

There's an article about the show and an interview with Calpernia in Bay Windows this week:

Actress/activist breaks new ground with trans reality show

Add another impressive credit to the resume of indomitable actress, author and activist Calpernia Addams. The very out trans woman, whose tragic relationship with murdered U.S. Army Private Barry Winchell was dramatized in the film Soldier’s Girl, and who has since become a leading trans spokeswoman and consultant, stars in Logo’s new dating reality show, Transamerican Love Story. With the help of host Alec Mapa (from Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives) and her business partner and best gal pal Andrea James, Addams will choose a boyfriend from a stable of eight eager hunks. It’s not the first trans dating show, but it’s a far cry from the U.K.’s sleazy There’s Something About Miriam, in which the contestants didn’t know the woman they were trying to impress was a pre-op transsexual. On Transamerican Love Story, Addams has nothing to hide....

Read the entire article here.

I need to talk about HRC for a minute.  Or two.

Tonight is the Tale of Two Dinners.  One is in Philadelphia.  As I mentioned in my Feb. 4 post a vigil is planned outside "to focus attention on the exclusion of transgender Americans from the federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act and on the Human Rights Campaigns' reversal of policy in agreeing to accept a bill that does not cover the entire LGBT community." (from Kathy Padilla's email).  I'm told that ticket sales there are down significantly - the last number I heard is 300 something.  I've gotten emails from people who plan to attend the vigil - I'll let you know how it went.  The weather looks to be accommodating so I hope they had a good turn out.

The other dinner is here in Phoenix.  That's where Joe is.  There will be no vigil similar to the one planned for Philadelphia.  There will be no table staffed by several members of the local transgender community affected by workplace discrimination to share their stories similar to the one so successfully executed in Austin a couple of weeks ago.  Instead, there will be a table in the lobby staffed by two people, both of whom are HRC members who also just so happen to have tickets to the dinner itself.  I'm conflicted about what to say about this because I find it to be very disappointing and unsatisfactory.  The people doing it are certainly qualified but the underlying premise is fatally flawed.  The goal here has got to be about doing some real education, to help re-establish some sort of relationship with the broader community.  When compared to what it could and should be this effort feels contrived, and staged, and more "insider" mentality than anything inviting or engaging to a broader community. 

I'll admit that it gives me some small sense of satisfaction to hear that ticket sales are significantly lower here too - down from 850 last year to 500 something this year last I heard.  I said shortly after the ENDA mess unfolded that the way to send a clear message that what happened was totally, absolutely unacceptable is by giving your money and your energies to organizations that better represent the values of community and integrity and by respectfully lobbying that position with others, as well.  I perceive advocacy support to be like a political election: a vote to NOT support HRC financially by staying away from a dinner is a vote for Change.  Each steering committee has a target for the number of new major donors and Federal Club members it needs to recruit each year.  A big part of that involves what they can accomplish at the dinner. Fewer attendees equals fewer people bidding at the silent auction, fewer people signing up as Federal Club or Major Donor during the ask, fewer people who will attend next year.  I'm a project manager at heart and one of the sayings you'll often hear is, "Is you can measure it you can manage it."  Attendance numbers at these dinners are good metrics to gauge what impact ENDA events from last fall will have. 

The HRC Business Council has been systematically working through a list of possible transgender candidates to add to the Business Council.  Earlier this week they tendered offers to several people.  The good news is that all the people they've approached are people who would do a good job there.  The bad news is that coming on board under the current circumstances continue to be a difficult sell.  I've spoken with several who are justifiably conflicted about what to do.  One indicates that she declined without having to think about it.  The others are in a quandary about doing the "right" thing.  It has actually been on my mind quit a bit - especially after participating in Creating Change.  The thing I keep coming back to is something that Jamison and I wrote in our resignation letter: Principles are not for compromise. 

Still, I'll support people from our community who choose to get engaged with the BC.  It's a shame that they should have to face these kinds of difficult decisions.  I've been there, and I know.  It is what it is.

I find it ironic that the main theme of the Democratic Presidential candidates is Change, yet there are those who would believe that things could go on as usual with HRC after all that has happened.  Dinners.  Engagement on the Business Council or in any of the other programs.  Board participation.  I continue to believe that despite the best efforts to get back to a business-as-usual mode the most significant impacts of what happened last fall have yet to be realized.  They counted on people being angry, but eventually it would subside.  Things will never be the same.  Mark my words.

The bottom line to all of this, however, cannot be to simply to punish or hurt or weaken HRC if such a thing is even possible.  We all have our feelings on that and I'll admit that my emotional side is still raw because I (and many others) have been hurt, but my practical side can't see any long-term positive gain in that.  No, the goal has got to be to level the playing field by rising others up in an effort to move forward together, so that next time the question is put to the test, "are we a community or are we not?" we'll find that we are, indeed, aligned and united.  There is no fracture point.  There is no question.  We do not flinch.  We're not left scratching our heads or fighting or wondering if we really had the votes.  We'll find that we have learned from this experience and that it has made us all stronger.  And we'll find that the strength of one affects the strength of all.  It's about collective power, or the collective im-balance of power.

On to other topics....

Last night I stopped by a reception on one of the higher floors of the Ren-Cen in downtown Detroit.  After a long day at Creating Change drinks and appetizers were just what the doctor ordered.  I bumped into some interesting people there.  One in particular was Bil Browning, co-founder of the well-known blog site The Bilerico Project.  We have known each other by reputation for quite some time but this was the first time we actually met in person. For those who haven't been there before, Bilerico is comprised of 50 or so regular contributors (see the list here) and any number of guests who regularly post entries on any topic that come to mind.  Anyway, Bil asked if I'd like to be one of their regular contributors and I told him I was flattered - it's quite an honor - and said 'yes'.  So, expect to see my thoughts on various topics start popping up there.  Before I left he asked if we could do a little video "Introduction" so we stepped into the hallway for a brief informal message.    This is what came out: see it here.  Oy.

I've had  a couple significant honors come my way recently, which is truly humbling, but I'll hold off on sharing specifics until the news is shared through the proper channels.

The rest of what I want to say is about Creating Change.  A few tidbits:

But my fingers are tired, I need to unpack, I've got photos to upload, and I'd like to relax a bit before heading to bed early. 

To be continued....

Friday, February 8, 2008

11:30pm:  I'm at the Creating Change Conference in wintry Detroit. I haven't written in a few days because (a) I didn't bring the computer I usually use that has all my "tools" on it on this trip and (b) it has been hectic as all get out. As it is, it's almost midnight and I've got a 4:15am wake-up call to catch a 7am flight back home. I'd like to stay longer but it's the only flight back that had seats left for frequent flyer points.

There is oh-so-much to talk about from these past few days but that will have to wait until tomorrow night when I'm safe at home. This trip has helped me to realize some very profound things that I'm still trying to sort out. More to come on that. For now, I'm only writing this to share where I am, what's going on, and to promise to give a more in-depth update tomorrow.

Monday, February 4, 2008

10:30pm:  Tomorrow is Super Tuesday.  Wednesday I leave for Creating Change in Detroit.  Saturday I come home.  And, I'm going to try to get to Las Vegas for the GLAAD Board Meetings there.  Things are about to get busy.

First things first.....Tomorrow is Super Tuesday.  Polls open here at 6am and I expect to be waiting when they open.  I've got lots to do at work tomorrow.

I got several Hillary pieces today.  The timing is not a coincidence, and I'm sure if my name was attached to Sen. Obama's campaign I'd be getting a bunch from him, as well.

The fun is only beginning.

I want to take a moment to talk about the statement by Hillary Clinton (the middle one above) that she released this afternoon.  One person who is very involved in the campaign and who I respect tremendously wrote to me yesterday to mention that Hillary would be re-iterating her position on GLBT issues and asked what I'd tell her.  It's the first time anyone connected with the campaign asked me for input, so I gave it.  It's nice to see that some of our input finally seems to be sinking in although I'd be remiss if I didn't share that a large group of LGBT steering committee supporters is floating a string of emails in the background recommending that she use the term "gay and lesbian" instead of GLBT when talking to broader audiences.  Needless to say, I'm not on board with any terminology that leaves us out.

Regardless of what you or I think about Hillary, I'm wondering if a serious candidate has ever written a letter like that.  Has a candidate ever acknowledged the LGBT community in that way?  The ray of hope I glean from it isn't what she says - I don't trust anything a politician says these days, it's the fact that she said it at all.  It's that whoever in her campaign prompted this has that kind of access and that there's specific visibility to the broader GLBT community as anything more than a scapegoat. Still, I'm not naive enough not to know who's going to take the credit for this - who prompted it, who crafted it, and who got it out there.  This has HRC written all over it in more ways than one.

Speaking of "not on board", let's talk about HRC dinners for a minute.  The Phoenix dinner is this coming Saturday and Joe S. will be here.  The weather is supposed to be in the mid 70's so it'll be perfect party weather.

The Philadelphia Dinner is this Saturday, too. I don't think the weather there will be nearly as nice.  I don't think the climate outside the HRC dinner there will be nearly as nice, either:

Vigil to be held for LGBT Rights and to protest the actions of the Human Rights Campaign at the HRC Annual Dinner.


Where:   Outside the Lowes Hotel on the corner of Market & 12th Streets in Philadelphia.


When:     Saturday February 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm.




We will be holding a vigil outside of the dinner to focus attention on the exclusion of transgender Americans from the federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act and on the Human Rights Campaigns' reversal of policy in agreeing to accept a bill that does not cover the entire LGBT community. The HRC not only worked towards this exclusion of the transgender members of the LGBT community from this bill, they misrepresented their intentions in this matter to Philadelphia's LGBT leadership and to the transgender community on this extremely important issue.


Transgender people are the most vulnerable group in the LGBT community. Transgender people experience employment discrimination at rates that are orders of magnitude higher than the general population. In Philadelphia – over 60% of transgender woman are unemployed as are over 30% of transgender men (Kenagy 2005 – in Health and Social Work). The human and social costs resulting from such levels of discrimination negatively effect the entire community. The Baltimore Homeless Census released this September reported that 7% of homeless children identified as transgender. These children are often forced to leave their homes after their gender identity becomes known. The Southern Poverty Law Centers Special Report on Transgender Hate Murders "Disposable People" notes: "While the FBI reported a total of 11 U.S. murders motivated by racial, religious, or sexual-orientation bias in 2002, the Intelligence Report has documented 14 murders of transgendered people in the U.S. in that one year."  


Our common goal is passage of a fair and inclusive employment nondiscrimination statute. Any version of this law that fails to securely protect the LGBT community against workplace discrimination is a law not worth having and we urge you to oppose it. Several elected officials are being asked to help educate HRC on transgender issues and the need for legislation that covers the entire community.


We ask you join us at 5:15pm to show your support for equality for the entire LGBT community. Please consider wearing the attached sticker to the vigil and to the HRC Dinner if you will be attending. It can be printed on a standard Avery name badge or just printed and pinned to your clothing. They will also be available at the vigil.




Kathy Padilla
Co-President, OutFront!
Stephen A. Glassman, Chairman
Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

Michael Hinson

Michael P. Williams, Esq.
Co-President, OutFront!


Stacy L. Sobel, Executive Director

Equality Advocates Pennsylvania


Rue Landau, Co-Chair
Liberty City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club

Ray Murphy, Co-Chair
Liberty City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club


Education comes in lots of flavors.  You've got to admire the fact that we're a very creative group when we set our mind to it.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

9:00pm:  Wow.  What a game.  And what a halftime show!  The play of the game, and one of the most amazing play in Super Bowl history (in my opinion), was during the Giants last drive with less than a minute to go.  Eli Manning seemed engulfed in blitzing linebackers, somehow got free, threw the ball up for grabs where receiver David Tyree jumped up with a guy all over him, caught the ball between his hand and his helmet, hit the ground bent over backwards, and somehow didn't let the ball hit the ground.  I almost jumped up and ended up with dip all over myself  That's what I call, "Who wants it more?"  Wow.

And I thought the fact that the New England coach left the field with a second less to go was class-less and immature.  If you're going to be a good winner you've also got to be a gracious loser. 

Anyway, enough football for today.  I have a couple of other things to talk about.

One of the ads during the Super Bowl was for an upcoming Angelina Jolie movie titled "Wanted".  (See the Super Bowl ad here - full screen mode works best).  Its worth another "Wow".  I found a longer trailer for it online (see it here) - it looks very Matrix-like in terms of having a philosophical component surrounded by a ton of amazing action.  Morgan Freeman sounds very Morpheus-like when he says: "It is a choice, Wesley, that each of us must face.  To remain ordinary, pathetic, beat down, coasting through a miserable existence like sheep herded by fate.  Or, you can take control of your own destiny and join us, releasing the caged wolf you have inside."  Red pill, anyone?

My favorite ad was for E*Trade.  There was a baby talking about doing a trade who eventually burped up stuff....too funny.  (See it here)  It makes me laugh out loud each time I watch it.  There's a second one like it that's funny, too, but something about that one just cracks me up.  There was one from Bridgestone tire that I liked, too, where this guy was going to run down a squirrel in his car but swerved at the last minute (see it here).

There was actually other news of interest this Super Sunday.  An article in the Gainesville Sun says that there's a continuing backlash against city council members who passed a trans-inclusive discrimination policy there earlier this week:

Discussion of Monday night's City Commission vote appeared on the much-read Drudge Report Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

These days, municipalities voting to include "gender identity" as a group of people protected from discrimination is part of a growing trend, not only in Florida but across the nation.

Last summer, both West Palm Beach and Lake Worth passed protections for transgender people, and according to their city governments, there was no protest during the implementation or problems afterward.

"It wasn't even a blip on the screen here," said Lake Worth Mayor Jeff Clemens, adding that there have been no issues since the law was implemented either. "I think the entire community took it in stride. We believe it's important to treat every person the same no matter what their gender identity."

 Transgender Ordinance Backlash - read it here

I'll need to do a little digging to find out the names and email addresses of the people who supported it to send them each a note of thanks.

Lastly, there is a 25th Anniversary version of "Tootsie" available this coming Tuesday (read details here).  I can't speak for anyone else but Tootsie was a transformative thing for me - one of those things that's frightening and exhilarating both at the same time.  I remember Dustin Hoffman as Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy , and as Louis Dega in Papillion.  Both characters were almost repugnantly mousey guys, and I came to realize that if Dustin Hoffman can go from that to become passable as female in any way, shape or form then maybe I could, too.  When I introduced Jessica Lange at the HRC National Dinner in 2004 I told her that I had a crush on her thanks to that movie - I wish we could all have someone like that in our lives.

 2:30pm:  So far so good as far as the weather goes.  I even see breaks in the clouds where blue sky is visible so that's a good sign.  Besides the Super Bowl we'd have the FBR Open Golf Tournament here and they set a record for single day attendance yesterday: 170,000+ people.  Between that and the Super Bowl festivities Scottsdale was a good place to avoid.

I couldn't help but drive up Scottsdale Road to see it for myself, and it took almost a half hour to get from Thomas to Camelback.  Since we were creeping along it provided an opportunity to take some pictures.  There's a sign on an out-of-Business gun shop across from Dr. Meltzer's offices that I've wanted to take a picture of but never seem to have my camera.  Here it is:

It's a little teddy bear with a cute smile on its face, carrying an Uzi.  How twisted is that?  Funny?  Sure. It just seems so out of place in downtown Scottsdale.

I've been talking with the folks arranging the HRC Dinner here next week.  I have been concerned about the effort to provide education at the event.  I'm told that the person they are working with is Dr. Becky Allison, who mentioned to me last week that she would be attending.  If Becky is involved, I'm good. 

9:00am:  It's finally here.  They've been planning Super Bowl Sunday here in the Valley for well over a year and the days have ticked of one by one. Finally, it happens today. 

Sadly, a "wet and windy" Pacific storm is scheduled to blow into the state later today bringing the potential for some steady rain.  As of right now it's just cloudy and I'm optimistic it might hold off until game-time.  The stadium is state-of-the-art and even has a field that can move outdoors or indoors as needed, so of course it's got a retractable roof on it.  It really is a beautiful facility.

I went to see "Atonement" last night.  Talk about depressing.  To some it may be a love story, or a tragedy.  To me, the message is, "What's the point?"  I don't want to give away too much to those who might want to go see it but to me it's not so much about love as it is about being a victim of circumstance, or of the uselessness of fighting fate.  Maybe it's because I've become a cynic or maybe I would have still felt that way if I had seen it a year ago.  I don't know.  We went out to dinner afterwards and briefly discussed events over these past 6 months and I acknowledged that it has changed me.

On the heels of Super Sunday is Super Tuesday.  We vote in Arizona for who we want to represent us in the presidential elections coming in November.  Almost a year ago I was approached by people from Hillary Clinton's campaign (who also happen to be involved with HRC, which should not be a surprise to anyone) to join a GLBT steering committee that was being formed.  I agreed.  Since that time I haven't gotten one call, not a single personal email, nothing asking for guidance or input.  When I see things I don't like and send an email expressing my concern it never gets returned.  Not once.  So as far as I'm concerned this GLBT steering committee is there to (a) collect names but provide no steering and (b) raise money.

That said, I'm not convinced that Sen. Obama is any better on my issues - trans issues or otherwise.  He certainly has charisma, and he certainly brings a breath of fresh air to the discussion, but will those things work in Washington to make things happen?  I really don't know.  To be honest, I have doubts.  So, I'm left weighing choices that I had very much hoped would be better.  It's very disheartening.

I don't like either candidate enough to make the decision a clear one.  I don't dislike either enough to make it clear, either.  It seems like people excited about Sen. Obama genuinely like the guy.  I'm not there yet - I don't feel it.  I'm sorry.  And even if I was, I'm not sure that's the most important criteria I'd weigh when considering my vote. Some that I talk with dislike Hillary to the point that Barrack gets their vote by default.  I don't feel that yet, either.  Whoever gets selected as the Democratic candidate will get my vote come November - that much is clear.  I just wish I were more excited and hopeful about it.

The thing I'm left struggling with is the question about who can best manipulate the system on Capitol Hill to get legislation passed if elected.  To me, that's the important thing.  I'm sensitive to all the pressures that the candidates face in (a) saying the right things and (b) not saying the WRONG things.  I get that, although it certainly doesn't impress me when it comes to leadership or courage.  But the question I'm asking myself is, Who would have the better chance of calling Congressional leadership and pushing legislation through?  Since neither has wowed me with anything over the course of the campaign I'm left weighing other criteria to earn my vote.  Of course, if either candidate called me to say that they'd put a qualified openly transgender person in a position of visibility on their staff that would certainly help sway me.  But my phone's not ringing off the hook right now so I'm left to other criteria.

Nancy Pelosi learned that there's more to making change happen than making promises that you can't keep.  I can't help but watch her comments on the heels of the "New Direction" vote a couple of years ago (see them here) and think to myself - Here we go again.  Good mission.  Lots of "happy" words and phrases.  A lot of rah-rah, follow-me, we're-gonna-change-America promises set some very high expectations.  How much of that has panned out?  You be the judge. 

Lacking clarity on who is substantively better (or, perhaps, less worse) on my issues I'm thinking of pinning my vote on the outcome Super Bowl.  If the heavily favored Patriots win - that's a signal to vote for the favored candidate (Hillary).  If the underdog Giants win, it's a sign that I should vote for Sen. Obama.  And if that doesn't seem like a good idea, there's always a coin to toss.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


I trucked clear over to the other side of the Valley this afternoon to get a glimpse of Super Bowl mania close-up.  I really couldn't get that close but still, I couldn't get home fast enough. 

The interesting thing about that stadium is that it's just two years old, and they build it in the middle of nowhere.  An entire city is growing around it  (if you build it, they will come) but right now it's still pretty much surrounded by fields.  I drove around the perimeter to get a few different interesting perspective on it (photos on right).

You'd never know by looking at it today that it will be the center of the sports (and perhaps the cultural) universe tomorrow.  I hate to show my age but I remember watching Super Bowl 1 between the Packers and the Chiefs.  The reasons I remember are (a) we got to watch it in color at a friends house - we didn't have a color TV yet (b) there was a Harlem Globetrotter event on TV just before it and (c) the pre-game stuff included some guy in a flying suit and larger than life statues that waved.  It's funny the things you remember as a kid.

In January 1992 my brother and I drove from Rochester to Minneapolis to attend Super Bowl XXVI between the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins.  The way things worked that year was that you needed to register for a hotel room with some central group that told you where you'd be staying and how much it would cost.  We ended up at a non-descript Best Western in Fridley, MN - a suburb of Minneapolis.  As the week wore on we noticed that he hotel didn't seem all that busy considering that every hotel room anywhere nearby had been sold.

Usually the teams stay at some big hotel during Super Bowl week and people hang around in the lobby to get autographs and people watch.  The night before the game, though, they're taken to a "secret location" where they can prepare for the game and rest in private. 

So, the night before the game we were planning to attend some of the events in downtown Minneapolis-St. Paul.  We had been out all day so we stopped back at the hotel to get something and my brother went to the lobby.  He came running out to say that several of the Buffalo Bills were wandering about in the hallway.  It turns out that our little Best Western in Fridley was the "secret" Buffalo Bills hotel.  Needless to say, we didn't go out that night.  I'll need to find the video we took of the players - we were like kids in a candy store.  It was something I'll never forget.

Events planned here locally tonight range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Tonight there's a big Playboy event (read about it here) that I wouldn't mind attending.  The Counting Crows are doing a free concert on Tempe Town Lake followed by fireworks that I wouldn't mind seeing either (except I'm not up for fighting the crowds).  There's a whole roster of stuff going on.  Me?  I'm going to the movies and out to dinner with a friend.

Oddly, I haven't seen lots of people wearing lots of Giants and Pats stuff.  I suppose it's because I'm not where those people are.  When I went to these things (I've been to four of them) you couldn't escape the team colors anywhere. There was a time when a good percentage of my wardrobe had a Buffalo Bills insignia on it.  Thankfully, those days are gone for me.

University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ

On one side it's surrounded by green field...

...and on the other side it backs to a large cotton field.

10:30am:  I've got a hundred things to do today so it's obvious that 98 or 99 of them will remain un-done by the time the weekend is over.  I can't tell you the last time I dusted.  I've got all kinds of paperwork to catch-up on.  I need to catch-up on email. The speed of life lately has prevented me from going to the fitness center so I really want to do that.  A good friend and I are going to dinner and a movie tonight so that's etched in stone.  I want to drive all the way across the valley to the stadium where the Super Bowl will be held tomorrow to walk around for a little while and take photos.  I need to stop at the post office.  Those things alone could take me more time than is left in today so we'll see how it all works itself out.

Friday afternoons are pressure cookers at work.  We have our weekly status meetings with the Director leading this massive effort that I'm part of.  There are 4 Project Managers leading various work streams and we've got all kinds of things that he wants to know: finances, resources, project plans, risks/issues, communication, various artifacts that we need to provide.  He didn't like the answers he heard from one of us last week so this guy's desk was cleared out by the time I got in on Monday morning.  He has already been replaced.

I must admit that I enjoyed the sushi I had last night.  I have long been a person who has not liked sushi.  I think it's a mental block as much as anything.  Anyway, last night they ordered stuff that was a) cooked and b) tasty.  I didn't want to know anything more than that.  I didn't need to know if there was eel, or squid, or some other aquatic animal wrapped up in seaweed and rice.  That would only hurt my chances of actually enjoying it.  The waitress tried to explain the various ingredients a couple of times but I shushed her; I'm happy in my ignorance sometimes. 

The fabulous Jenny Boylan is making the rounds in support of her new book, "I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted.".  Reviews of it are making their way across the country: one was in the LA Times last week (read it here) , and another was in the Chicago Tribune (read it here).   I'm highlighting a review published today in Oregon:

The need for story is probably behind her decision to structure her book around the idea of "growing up haunted," as if cloaking her story in the materials of an old-fashioned ghost story might further its resonance. But doom-filled messages hidden beneath old wallpaper, vaporous apparitions lurking in dilapidated rooms, and ghostly women in mirrors never quite gel into something cohesive the way they might in a good novel. It doesn't help that late in the book Boylan tells us she doesn't even believe in ghosts herself. This kind of metaphor, which can be so effective in fiction, only jolts and jars us out of the special kind of spell cast by a good confessional narrative.

This is one of those imperfect yet highly intriguing books where we find ourselves rooting for the author. The need to be understood and accepted by other human beings shines through oh-so-clearly. By the end we do know Jenny very well in many ways, and we hope she will keep trying to tell us stories so we will understand even more.

Read the Review Here

I think it's an ingenious metaphor. We're all haunted in various ways: by our pasts, by our fears and our dreams, by things we've done or haven't done, by things we want to be, by living unrealized lives. 

Here's part of Jenny's schedule over the next few weeks.  If you can get somewhere to see her, I highly highly highly recommend it.  I'm going to try to pop in for a visit or two - I miss her smiling face.

Feb. 4. Powell’s Books, Portland OR 7:30 PM
Feb. 5. Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle WA 7:30 PM
Feb 6. Evergreen State College, Olympia WA 2-4 PM
(possibly: Feb 6 PM, Ingersoll Center, Seattle, WA) TBA!
Feb 7. Book Passage Bookstore, Corte Madera (Bay Area), CA, 7 PM
Feb 8. A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland CA, 7 PM
Feb 9. Writers with Drinks (7:30-9:30) (Arrive Early!)
The Make-Out Room, The Mission, San Francisco, CA
Feb 11. A Different Light Bookstore, West Hollywood, CA 7:30 PM

Please double-check times with the venues, just in case!

Later in February, she’ll be at a private event in Philadelphia for the Children's Hospital, followed by
The Tattered Cover, in Denver, on Feb. 21.
Also on the Horizon: Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass, on 2/26
Bates College, Lewiston ME, 2/27; Borders Bookshop in Albany NY, 2/29,
and Northshire Books, in Manchester Center, VT, 3/1.

Friday, February 1, 2008

9:30pm:  I had an interesting evening.  After a much-anticipated Friday at work a couple of us agreed to meet at a trendy club/restaurant in Scottsdale for Happy Hour.  One of the other Project Managers was planning to meet her husband, her mother, her 22-year old daughter and her daughter's fiance at Barcelona's after work - she was excited about their Happy Hour specials - and that sounded like fun.  So, I went.

Well, this is Super Bowl weekend here and everything in Scottsdale is reserved for private parties or events.  Barcelona was no different.  The entire place was surrounded by cameras, police, lights, and other "stuff" that indicated it would become a hot-spot at some point.  There is an attached sushi-bar there so we met there and watched things unfold at the club.  Apparently, the NFL Rookie of the Year party is there tonight so buses accompanied by police, helicopters, a red carpet out front, and a gallery of media was there to welcome each "star" as they arrived.  I asked one of the reporters there who the guy with the bling was that was walking through all of this - she said it was New Orleans Saints running back (and former Heisman Trophy winner) Reggie Bush.  Anyway, it was fun to watch.

I left before things really got going.  After a couple of drinks I was at the point where one more would make driving iffy so I chose to finish the 2nd half of the 40 mile drive home.  Scottsdale is certainly the place to be in the Valley tonight.  That said, I'm glad to be home.

As I mentioned last night I've been exchanging emails with the local HRC leadership about doing educational "thing" at their dinner her next weekend, similar to the event that seemed so successful in Austin last week.  These people are people I consider friends, but their attitude has been horrible at best.  Phoenix is home to some amazing leaders in the transgender community and this could be such a positive thing.  The fact that they're behaving as they are came out in an email to me tonight that typifies the entire relationship between that organization and the transgender community.  This friend said to me: must acknowledge that you resigned your voice in internal HRC operations when you chose to walk away from the HRC and its continuing and sustained efforts to include T-rights in all its efforts. We will continue this important work and keep moving forward.

What??!  Are you kidding me?  By quitting HRC I somehow lost the right to educate HRC members on transgender issues?  Hell no.  I responded:

....I have no intention of being involved in internal HRC operations and that's the problem - this has nothing to do with that. This has to do with relationships with the transgender community - a communty of which I remain a visible and active embassador - and an organization that could use friends in that community right now.

Your email was dismissive, condescending, and arrogant which is exactly the way that the transgender community feels about HRC right now. The general feeling is that HRC has chosen to reject leaders from our community for the sake of installing their own, a strategy that is sadly misguided and disrespectful. It demonstrates to me and to others just how out of touch the organization is with the real problems at hand.

The goal here cannot be to go through the motions of providing some watered down flavor of transgender education so you can tick it off on some scorecard for diversity. To do so does a disservice both to the people attending your dinner and to a community of people who continue to feel pain and anger from recent events.

Your theme for the evening, "Be The Change", are merely words. I have no confidence whatsoever that anyone in the organization gives a damn about our community. And I'll do what I need to do to ensure that the things that happen are more than going through the motions, more than words, more than lip service. If you can't even work with me as an ambassador of part of our broader community then your actions betray your words. Shame on you.

Make no mistake - this drama will be played out in city after city this year where HRC holds its dinners.  Some cities will "get it" the way that Austin did and these things will be done the right way.  Others won't. 

I won't be here the night of the dinner.  I'll be either in Detroit (returning from Creating Change) or Las Vegas (GLAAD Board meetings).  But that doesn't diminish my commitment to ensuring that the right things happen, the right way, for the right reasons.  This kind of contrived puppetry is just ridiculous and cannot go unchallenged.  I will challenge it ten times out of ten.

We have the most amazing people in our community.  An article published earlier today featured the always wonderful Julie Nemecek (read it here).  One published yesterday highlights a State Senator in California who secured a $300,000 grant specifically to assist transgender people in finding work (read it here).  We see that kind of stuff happening around the country and we need to deal with this kind of small-minded crap from our friends at the local level?  It's just ridiculous.  Where are true leaders when you need them?

Speaking of ridiculous, the presidential election rolls on.  I participated in Mike Signiorile's GLBT Caucus event on Sirius radio yesterday.  Here was my question:

In light of recent events with ENDA the transgender community is understandably skeptical of promises or commitments made to us in Washington.  Everyone says they're supportive in principal until they have to actually do something, so my question is more about action than about words.

The presidential candidates have surrounded themselves with LGBT advisory teams to provide guidance on LGBT issues.  Unfortunately, I have seen little or no recognition that either of the current candidates recognizes the transgender community, or gender variant people, as anything other than "Gay".  The words we're hearing continue to be non-inclusive and I would expect that the steering committees would be working with the candidates to improve recognition of the unique challenges and concerns faced by transgender and gender-variant people.  I don't see that happening.

That said, here is my question.  Two of the themes being used quite often by both candidates are "Leadership" and "Change".  What would you say to a transgender employee about to transition at work who is concerned about losing his or her job, or a gender variant teen facing abuse at school simply for being different, or a street worker who can't find a job to get her life back on track, or the parent of a victim of a transgender-based hate crime - what would you tell them that your candidate has substantively done to demonstrate that they recognize their needs?  And as a follow-up, what will your candidate do if elected in terms of Leadership and Change to raise awareness, to be more inclusive, to engage qualified transgender people in positions of leadership, to ensure that GLBT legislation does not leave anyone behind, and to make the day-to-day lives of transgender and gender-variant people in this country better?

Representatives from both campaigns responded that their candidate supported inclusive legislation in their state.  And that was all they had to say.

I'll end today with one last political piece.  It's from today's Washington Blade:

A failing mid-term grade for Democrats
Gay High hopes for gay rights advances in this Congress give way to disappointing reality.

A YEAR AGO at this time there were high hopes among gay activists for the new Democratic Congress. They were going to pass legislation expanding gay rights and eliminating discrimination that had long been blocked by the Republicans in power since 1995.

Even if Bush vetoed new gay rights legislation, the Democrats would at least put him on the defensive about it and build momentum for the day when the Democrats took the White House. All of this would be payback for the huge amount of time, energy and money that gay Americans — their third most loyal voting constituency after blacks and Jews — had given the Democrats.

That was then.

At the midpoint of this Congress, it’s not looking very good. Not one piece of pro-gay legislation has even reached the president’s desk.

Read the entire story here - The Washington Blade, Feb. 1, 2008

Does anyone think things will get significantly better for LGBT people via politics any time soon if one or the other of these candidates is voted into office?  I hate to be a cynic, but until proven otherwise - I don't.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

9:30pm:  There are times in life when you stop for a moment at the realization that decisions you made in your life were the right ones.  I've had several of them these past couple of days.

My day yesterday was another of those breakneck speed days that seem to be coming my way once a week these days.  I was up at 4:05am.  Went to the airport for a 6:15am flight.  Landed in Oakland at 7:30.  Jamison picked me up and we went back to his house to go over a presentation we were scheduled to give.  We had a conference call from 9-10.  Took BART to downtown San Francisco by noon.  Had meetings there until 5.  Caught BART back to Jamison's house.  De-briefed, had some dinner, and back to the airport for a 9pm flight.  It was delayed until 10, so it landed at midnight.  Home by 12:45.  In bed by 1:30am, and right to sleep.

It was a productive day.  Somehow, things like that energize me to the point that I couldn't sleep on the plane on the flight home.  We'll see how the seeds that were planted grow but I'm very optimistic.  There will be an article in the Jan/Feb issue of Echelon Magazine about Jamison's and my resignations from the HRC Business Council (see the cover here).  The last sentence of the article sets some very high expectations that certainly need managing:

Their education initiative appears poised to take advantage of a decentralized model that will function well in this new climate of post-ENDA transgender advocacy. In this way, it may well turn out that the resignations of Green and Rose herald the start of a new era of transgender advocacy.

Speaking of HRC, their annual gala dinner here in Phoenix happens next Saturday night.  The theme of the event is "Be The Change".  Hah.  As much as I considered some of the local leadership friends I can't finish that sentence without saying that they just don't get it.  I've been trading emails with them about doing an educational thing at the dinner and their responses are insulting, patronizing and totally lacking of any recognition that it's not just what you do but how you do it.  They have no wish to do anything of any value, anything more than going through the motions to provide some window dressing - their way.  That's a shame.  I expected more.  Those who'd like to see something more substantive in terms of transgender engagement or who are as disappointed in their crappy attitude as I am can let them know directly: I can't wait to see what kind of schlock you get in response.

On one side we have people who talk about change but don't mean it and on the other we have people who actually do it.  The city of Gainesville, FL voted to expand the city's discrimination ordinance to protect transgender people (read it here).  One of the local television stations did a story about it that centered on the bathrooms (watch it here).  Oy. Needless to say, not everyone is as happy about this as I am (read it here).

My friends at Equality Texas need some help on their website.  If you do website work and are interested in talking to them about what they need, how much they might be looking to pay, and any other details let me know.  I'm happy to make the connection.  They're a fantastic group of people.

Lastly, I got this email today:

Dear Friends-

The 3rd Annual Transgender Leadership Summit – an annual skills-building and advocacy conference for transgender community members and allies throughout California – will take place at UC Berkeley from March 14-16.  Organized by the Transgender Equality Alliance, the Summit will include a wide variety of free trainings on current issues impacting the transgender civil rights movement, including advocacy for a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act; healthcare reform; and racial and economic justice.  We expect at least 250 community members to attend this year’s event.

I am writing to ask for your help soliciting sponsors for the Summit. We still have a number of costs to cover, including travel stipends for low-income community members; Spanish and ASL translation services; and other program-related items. If you – or a company/organization with whom you work – are interested in becoming a sponsor, please return the attached form to If you have any questions about the Summit or sponsorship opportunities, don’t hesitate to call me at 415-738-6168.

Finally, please register at to save your spot at the Summit today. I hope to see you there!

Thanks for your support.

If you work for a company or an organization that could provide some sponsorship $$$, or you could donate some money yourself for this worthwhile event please contact Masen ASAP.  (Please say 'hi' to him for me).  I'll be attending this event this year, and hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

10:00pm:  Super Bowl fever is everywhere around the valley.  I haven't caught it.  In fact, I have little or no interest in it.  There was a time when my brother and I flew from Rochester to Tampa, without a ticket, in hopes that we could buy one from a scalper.  Another time we drive from Rochester to Minneapolis, overnight, and almost skidded off an ice slicked highway.  Now the game is in my own backyard and I have no interest.  Go figure.

Apparently the Giants are staying here in Chandler.  From Peter King at

Downtown Phoenix is as locked-down around the convention center -- the media hub -- as I've seen a Super Bowl game site. Security outnumbers the media, from the looks of it. And the roadblocks are everywhere. If you're coming, and you plan to do anything downtown, plan to walk a lot.

The teams are fairly far flung here, the Giants 30 miles away in Chandler and the Pats 25 minutes away in Scottsdale. The stadium's 30 or 35 minutes away. All those distances are non-rush-hour. In recent years, the traffic here has begun to rival New Jersey's.

I could vouch for that last statement about the traffic....

Today was the longest day in recent memory.  I was up at my usual time of 5:05am, at work by 6:30am, I didn't finish work until 8pm and I'm just getting ready for bed.  I need to set my alarm for 4am tomorrow morning, I have a 6:15am flight to Oakland, I've got a couple of meetings there tomorrow (with the always amazing Jamison Green), and I'm flying back tomorrow evening (my flight arrives back here at midnight).  Oy.  As I said, these are loooonnnnng days.

I'm hopeful that my early and late flights mean I'll miss most of the crush that they're expecting at the airport for the Super Bowl (read about it here).  Yuck.

I mentioned that I have been asked to be one of 6 "Special Guests" who have been invited to ask questions of a panel comprised of the Democratic Presidential candidates' GLBT reps on Mike Signorile's radio show on Thursday.  They distributed a press release about it today:

NEW YORK – January 28, 2008 – SIRIUS Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) announced today it will hold its first ever Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender presidential caucus on January 31, 2008 from 3:00 – 5:00 pm ET on The Michelangelo Signorile Show on SIRIUS OutQ, the nation’s only 24/7 LGBT radio channel. Representatives and supporters for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards will share their candidates’ platforms and views, take questions from callers, and engage in an open dialogue with SIRIUS’ national audience.

Signorile’s show - spanning politics, media, and popular culture and how it affects the LGBT community – is further representation of SIRIUS’ broad, diversified commitment to covering the 2008 presidential campaign. The Michelangelo Signorile Show airs Monday – Friday from 2:00 – 6:00 pm ET on SIRIUS OutQ channel 109. The show features newsmakers, community leaders, and highlights the many voices of the LGBT community. In addition to The Michelangelo Signorile Show, SIRIUS offers multiple dedicated political talk and news channels.

For the LGBT Caucus, Hilary Rosen will support Senator Clinton. She is the President of, an active public speaker, and a regular on-air political and business commentator on national television. She is the former Chairman and chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Stampp Corbin will represent Senator Obama. Corbin is the National LGBT Liaison for the Obama campaign, and Co-Chair of the National LGBT Leadership Team, Obama for America '08. He served on The Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign from 1996-2003, and served as HRC Finance Committee Co-Chair from 1998 to 2003. He is also a successful high-tech entrepreneur. Eric Stern will represent Senator Edwards. He is a Political Advisor to the John Edwards for President Campaign. Stern is an attorney, educator, and social activist who worked for more than a decade on numerous Democratic campaigns and in the movement for social justice and equality. In the 2004 election cycle, Stern served as the Director of LGBT Outreach at the Democratic National Committee where he developed a voter mobilization plan that helped to turnout more than 3.5 million LGBT votes for Democratic candidates nationally.

I've pretty much got my question ready.  I get to go first (they tell me it'll be around 3:30ET).

Speaking of being ready, some may remember Dr. Christine McGinn from an MSNBC documentary she did back in 2000.  We had our surgeries on subsequent days and became good friends.  We've had some memorable times together for sure.  Anyway, she put much of her community work on hold for a few years while she became licensed first as a surgeon and then later as a plastic surgeon.  She has opened her practice outside of Philadelphia and forwarded her new website info to me (see it here).  If you contact her please say 'hi' for me...

That's pretty much it for tonight.  I need to get to bed.  These next couple of days are going to be killers.....

Monday, January 28, 2008

10:30pm:  Wasn't it just a day ago that I said I was going to try to become less "political"?  I got a call today from Mike Signorile's producer asking if I'd be one of the people to ask questions of the panel they've collected representing the presidential candidates.  I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm still undecided as a voter - I had a nice talk today with Sen. Obama's people today.

The HRC gala dinner train rolls into Phoenix in a couple of weeks.  I wrote to the local board folks to inquire about the possibility of doing something similar to the wonderful job that TACT did in Austin.  The tone of the response makes me feel that they're less than enthused about it.  They asked if I'd attend the dinner and I said I couldn't do it in good conscience - that I'd stay in the lobby with whoever else locally wants to participate. 

I'm attaching a picture I took of sunset in Fountain Hills last week.  That's the highest fountain in the world - it's got a jet engine in the middle and it shoots water so high into the air you can see it for miles.  I like the reflection of the tree and the fountain, and the deep blue reflection. 

Somehow, these kinds of photos remind me that life doesn't need to be so complicated.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

8:30pm:  It is been as wet a day here as I can remember for a long time.  It's actually kind of pleasant.  As I ran on the treadmill this evening they had live coverage of the New England Patriots arriving at the airport and getting off the plane.  They parked it away from the terminal so players would have to go down steps and get onto the bus - like in the old days.  Anyway, even though it was wet I'm sure it's warmer here than it was in New England when they took off....

The first HRC Dinner of the year unfolded in Austin, TX  last night.  This is the first Austin dinner that I've missed in quite a while - they usually have it in March so it coincides with SXSW (the South by Southwest music festival).  My dear friends at TACT (the Transgender Advocates of Central Texas) worked with the dinner committee there to have an "educational outreach" event in the lobby.  An email about it went out this morning:

9 of us went to HRC’s black tie event and had an educational initiative around Gender Identity and Expression.. I’d like to thank Kelli, Susan, Shane (Susan’ son), Paula, Kathy (Paula’s Spouse), Autumn, Michael (our fearless leader) and Stephanie…. We all did a great job and I feel some eyes were opened.

It was respectfully done and well received.  They passed out buttons that said "Gender Expression Matters" (they're the big pink ones everyone in the photo is wearing) and even Texas Representative Lloyd Doggett (who voted for ENDA) wore one.  At one point one of the dinner co-chairs approached Lisa to say that she had heard a rumor that someone was going to do something disruptive during the dinner and Lisa assured her it would not be anyone from TACT.  Nothing bad happened and when I talked with Lisa this evening she said she was pleased.  She also said that any group in other cities where HRC galas are scheduled are free to contact her if they're considering something similar and want some input on planning, logistics, etc.  You can reach her at

Before everything got going Lisa and Kelli Busey had breakfast with Joe Solmonese yesterday morning.  Lisa said it went well.  One of the things you've got to love about Lisa is that she doesn't mince words and I'm glad that there was an opportunity for some conversation.  That's what has been so glaringly missing lately.  I hope that kind of a personal-level outreach continues and I give Joe credit for making it happen.  To my knowledge, it's a first.  Congrats to all.

I'm also going to reach out to one of the dinner co-chairs to see if there's anything she'd like to share here.

There are a couple of articles worth sharing today:

Transgender teens: Doctors refine hormone, other therapies
Foster's Daily Democrat, NH - Jan. 27, 2008
By CHLOE JOHNSON Puberty can be scary for many children, but doctors say it's absolutely terrifying for transgender youth. "If they're not terrified of it, ...

Lastly, I saw in interesting news article buried in a California newspaper today:

GETTING DRESSED FOR SCHOOL: Word of boys being told to dress as girls for a day, and girls as boys, touched a nerve with some parents at Valley View Elementary School in Pleasanton last week..

Parents were concerned that the supposed "Cross Gender Day" was meant to promote tolerance of transgender people.

"I think it's absolutely appalling," said one mother, who had heard about the event the night before from her first-grader. Then she heard it briefly explained as "gender day" by a school staff member that morning. "They should promote academics, and let morals to the family."

Principal Michelle Brynjulson told The Eye she had gotten calls, too but was able to quell fears.

Every Friday is "Spirit Day," when Valley View students are asked to wear clothing with the school logo or blue school color. Once in a while, there's a different theme -- like pajama day, or funny hair day.

Brynjulson said the student council got the idea for a day for girls to dress like boys, and vice-versa, after a boy student came to school on Halloween dressed as a girl.

"It's pure fun," she said. - Jan. 27, 2008

In Texas, or Louisiana, or South Carolina, or in any number of other places in this country I think they might use an "f" word to describe it but that word wouldn't be "fun".  She be out of a job before she could finish that last sentence.

I've had a couple of people ask if there will be a video of the Trans Sister Tales available for sale.  There was a film crew there with two cameras so it has been recorded for posterity's sake, and I believe that Dee Dee and Leslie are going to try to shop it to HBO and a couple of other venues.  We all had to sign releases saying that it's ok for them to use it for marketing purposes only at this point.  I'll try to get some information from them as to when/if copies will become available.

10:30am:  I'll start by saying that I don't expect to have my current job by the time my birthday rolls around in a month.  As I've spent some time this weekend going over ground I've already traveled many times before in terms of balance, passion, joy, value and the counterweight of practical finances and obligations the answers still haven't changed.  If I were at an early stage of my career this would be a perfect opportunity.  It's a long-term contract leading a huge project that will look great on my resume.  But the fact of the matter is that I'm not at an early stage of my career. 

I've gotten more work related calls on my cell phone in the past week than in the past 5 years combined.  I refuse to give up my budding interests in photography, video, drumming, writing, speaking, and in more passionate endeavors for this position or for any position.  At this stage of my life and my career there has got to be some middle ground, and I'm going to find it.  More on that in some future post.

I'm also making active steps to back out of being quite so "political", at least for now.  It's impossible to cover the broad range of needs that marginalized people, especially the transgender community, face.  The real personal tragedy for me with respect to what happened late last year with ENDA is that it killed my trust and my passion for politics in general.  I'm spent and I'm not willing to expend that much emotional energy again until and unless I truly believe that people are doing the right things for the right reasons  I realize that it's a necessary evil, and I also realize that it can be argued that at the end of the day everything is political but with the Presidential elections in full swing I have no passion right now for any of it. Frankly, that's a shame.

Speaking of politics and the elections, Mike Signorile on Sirius OutQ Radio will be having an LGBT Caucus on his show next Thursday that might be interesting:

Signorile Show LGBT Caucus

On January 31 (next Thursday), at 3 p.m. (ET) I'll be holding a special two-hour lively, fun and informative event during my show, our very own "GLBT Caucus." You'll be getting a release about it in coming days but just wanted to fill you in a bit at this point.

We will have an influential LGBT campaign representative from each of the three major Democratic campaigns -- Clinton, Obama, Edwards -- come on the show to discuss all the big issues. These gay surrogates will make the case to listeners for why their candidate is the best one on LGBT issues. The campaigns have sanctioned this event and the supporters' involvement. It will be a freewheeling discussion in which each will try to sway the many undecided LGBT voters across the country -- many of whom will be calling in -- five days before Super Duper Tuesday. Listeners will call in with questions and will also make the case for any candidate they prefer as well, and we'll have some special questioners lined up -- GLBT journalists, activists and bloggers -- to challenge the campaign representatives. It will be passionate and serious but we'll also have a lot of fun: During the two-hour event listeners will be voting for the candidates online at the Sirius web site and on the phones as well, and we'll announce which candidate will win the "caucus" at the end of show.

Representing the Clinton campaign will be Hilary Rosen, former HRC board chair former executive director of the Recording Industry Association of America. Speaking on behalf of the Obama campaign will be Stampp Corbin, a San Diego gay activist and businessman who been working with Obama campaign since 2006. Making the case for the Edwards campaign will be Eric Stern, former executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, former Director of LGBT Outreach for the DNC and now a political advisor on the Edwards campaign. Again, you'll be getting a release with more information about them and about the event.

I hope you'll listen in and join us. If you're not a Sirius subscriber you can listen online by just getting a free three day trial.


To close this loop, I've been listening to something that I saw on Austin City Limits a couple of years ago and have since downloaded to my mp3 player.  I find it has deeper meaning to me for some reason, although I'm not quite sure why.  I don't necessarily need to know why....I just know that it does.  Here's the video....close your eyes and listen to the words.  (Watch it here).

I want to thank everyone for their concern about my friend in Iraq.  Apparently she's in Germany now going through whatever happens when they decide what they're going to do with you.  The irony is that she recently received a very high commendation, and is on a list of people to be promoted to Sergeant or Staff Sergeant.  As people write to me about her I'm forwarding the notes to her, so thanks for that...

But workplaces remain a difficult place for many.  She keeps referring to the Army as her "employer" and in that sense she's right.  I have another friend who writes to me regularly who recently had an unpleasant experience that she wanted to share.  Here are her words: (Delaney's Workplace Story).

I received an email this morning saying that Jahna Steele passed away this week.  That's very sad.  She was a popular Las Vegas showgirl until she was outed as being trans and was fired (sound familiar?) She's a person I would really have liked to have met and I'll be sending warm wishes and thanks to her gentle spirit.

The recent passing of a beautiful woman of transhistory with the voice of an angel. Don't miss the poignant, haunting song at the end of the video...
This video is a memorial to the beautiful and talented transsexual woman Jahna Steele, who passed suddenly on January 24th, 2008. Hers will be a keenly felt loss in the transgender community. This clip was taken from a 1993 talk show and it ends with her singing a song that ironically fits this sad occasion.

For more information please visit Jahna's website at:

It's a coolish, rainy day here in the Valley today.  It's good to get these kinds of days once in a while, and I hope the fact that we're getting it now means that the weather will be typically wonderful for Super Bowl Festivities here in the Valley this coming week.  The airport is decked out with all kinds of decorations, and the entire area has been gearing up for this for over a year.  I'm about to head out to have Sunday breakfast with my son.  He rocks.  :)

Oh.  One more thing.  I'll be re-vamping in upcoming weeks and months and part of that will involve uplifting my Blog to a more Bloggish forum.  I did the legwork to start a new blog last night:  I'll probably be double-posting here and there for a little while to make sure I like it and that it's working for me.  There are a number of reasons I'm hesitant to do this so I reserve the right to pull the plug and come back here at any point in time.  But we'll see how it goes....

Saturday, January 26, 2008

10:00am:  I've done some crazy things over these past few years needing to be several places at the same time but events of these last couple of days have got to rank among the craziest even by my standards.... 

I had 50+ people here from around the country to participate in a 2-day Requirement Gathering session/Project Kickoff at work, something I absolutely could not miss.  We met offsite all day on Wednesday, and then regrouped afterwards for a large group dinner at a local restaurant.  I left home at 6am and didn't get home until 10pm - which set the stage for what was to come.

The second day of our requirements session was Thursday but I needed to be in Los Angeles by 6pm.  Although I had originally considered driving it, I made a last minute decision to fly to LA (rather than to drive it - not enough time, and they're getting pounded with rain in Southern CA).  So I left our PDP session a little early, got to the airport, hopped a flight, rented a car, made it through crazy Hollywood traffic, and participated in the wonderful Trans Sister Tales event there (more on that in a minute).  As soon as it was done (10:30pm) I got into some comfortable clothes, hopped in the car, and started driving the 400 miles back to Phoenix.  For the first hour it was absolutely pouring but eventually that gave way to clear roads.  I drove all night and pulled into my driveway at 5:15am local time - I was so tired that I could barely see straight.  All I could think about at that point was sleep so I got into bed straight away (5:30am), set my alarm to get a couple of hours of rest (7:30am), got up, took a shower, went to work, traded in the rental car, had dinner with friends, and finally made it back home last night by 9:30pm.  All on two hours of sleep.  It's crazy.

Considering it all, I felt pretty good for most of the day yesterday, up until just before I was ready for bed.  That's when I hit the wall.  I got 9 hours of sleep last night and I've still got a headache this morning.  It's nothing that some coffee and a little downtime won't cure...

The Trans Sister Tales was arranged by Dee Dee Flores and Leslie Townsend, both of whom I met at the V-Day Vagina Monologues event in LA several years ago.  They gathered 10 trans women to write and perform 8-10 minute monologues on whatever aspect of their lives they wanted to share.  Some were funny.  Some were sad.  All were poignant, and collectively thy captured our experience in a very powerful and profound way.  Congratulations to Dee Dee and Leslie for having the vision to make this actually happen.  The theater was full and the meet-and-greet afterwards provided a wonderful opportunity to finally meet people I've gotten to know via email.  I only wish it could have been a longer visit.  I would have enjoyed staying and chatting more.

I can't say enough about the wonderful group of people who performed.  People who were so nervous backstage just went out there and shined.  Sharing like this is a special thing - it can be very personal - and I've never been part of something quite like this before.  Here are a few photos from the event:

This is most of the cast (trying to round everyone up afterwards was like herding cats)

There were some notable events this week that need sharing.

First, Matt Foreman, the Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (or simply, the Task Force) announced that he will be stepping down to move on to something else. (Read about it here).  Matt has been a steadfast supporter an ally during his tenure and is a catalyst for United ENDA.  His powerful voice and singular leadership will be sorely missed.  Wouldn't it be nice if they considered a trans person in their search to fill that role?  I'm not sure who'd qualify in terms of skills and background (which is a problem in and of itself) but we need to get to that level of integration.

The first transgender conference of the year (aptly titled First Event) happened in Boston last weekend.  Mara Keisling from NCTE gave an update on things at the Federal level. An article about her talk was published in the New England based Bay Windows and was titled "Tans-HRC Schism Widens" (read it here).  The title of the story is a bit sensational for my tastes because I don't see that things have gotten significantly worse (although it certainly hasn't gotten any better, either).  Mara doesn't say anything new there that she hasn't said any of number of times in any number of forums before.  The thing that is new, however, is that HRC usually doesn't comment about these kinds of things.  This time, a spokesman for HRC called Mara a liar (my word, not his):

Trevor Thomas, a spokesman for HRC, responded to Bay Windows’s request to comment on Keisling’s allegations, saying, "While a small number of critics continue to spread misinformation surrounding ENDA, the Human Rights Campaign is working with its allies in Congress to educate members and pave the way for a fully inclusive bill that protects the entire GLBT community."

He said HRC’s actions during October show that the organization was committed to building support for a trans-inclusive ENDA. That month HRC sent out action alerts to supporters asking them to lobby their members of Congress in favor of a trans-inclusive bill, recruited 52 major businesses to sign on to a letter to Congress urging the passage of a trans-inclusive ENDA, and secured a commitment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring a trans-inclusive ENDA up for a vote as soon as it had enough votes to pass.

Thomas confirmed that HRC notified members of Congress on Nov. 6 that they would receive a positive score on HRC’s scorecard for voting yes on the sexual orientation-only ENDA bill and a negative score for voting against it.

Prior to the schism over ENDA, NCTE and HRC appeared to have a positive working relationship. The organizations collaborated on a resource guide to coming out as transgender, and Keisling praised HRC in 2004 for publicly pledging to support only trans-inclusive versions of ENDA. Keisling told the audience at First Event that she considered herself "one of the biggest boosters of HRC in the trans community" over the past five years.

But to say the relationship between the organizations has been strained since the ENDA debate would be putting it mildly. Last month NCTE board chair Meredith Bacon sent out a letter saying the organization would not work with HRC unless all of the organization’s senior staff and board resigned or was fired.

While I was in Washington DC last week I visited with my friend Mark Shields there.  Mark is the Coming Out Project Director at HRC and reports directly to the Foundation President, Besty Purcell.  It's a senior role on the "good" side of the organization (my opinion) and Mark has been a good friend personally and a wonderful ally of the community internally.  Those who have attended IFGE or SCC over recent years will recognize his cute little face.  Anyway, Mark gave his notice at HRC a couple of weeks ago and is moving on.  Additionally, something I've been pushing for internally there for a couple of years has finally come to pass.  They've slotted room in the 2008 budget to hire someone into the Diversity organization specifically to manage transgender outreach efforts.

There are several reasons that this is important.  If things were different I'd strongly consider approaching HRC to fill Mark's role.  I think having a transgender person at a senior level in the Foundation would be a positive thing as this person could provide guidance across the entire range of Foundation programs.  I continue to defend much of the Foundation work as important, necessary, supportive, and it has yielded the only gains that HRC has enjoyed in recent years.  I also continue to believe that changing societal views is critical pre-work to changing political views so that the long-term strategy of ensuring inclusive legislation must necessarily start in the Foundation.  Mark's role could be expanded to include other things depending on the person filling it and I'm confident that Betsy is looking at all her options.

The reason I share all this is because none of this is black and white.  There are any number of shades of gray to consider.  It's easy to take sides at either extreme - either that HRC sucks or that HRC rocks.  But most of the things happening outside of the political spotlight aren't that simple.  If a trans person gets either of these roles they'll come under unfair criticism from any number of activists and from many in the community for stepping across the line.  I'm happy to defend the right people stepping into those roles for the right reasons.  I'll be watching this closely.

A good example of the complex nature of these intermixed relationships is what is happening in Massachusetts.  HRC recently gave a trans organization there (Mass. Transgender Political Coalition) $25,000 to support its efforts to update state discrimination and hate-crime law to be fully inclusive (read about it here).  Some in the community see this as "blood money" and are criticizing HRC for giving it and the MTPC for taking it.  I've talked in the past how I believe that efforts to pass mini-ENDA's at the state level will eventually make the Federal efforts much easier.  Recent events in New Jersey (read about them here) provide a guide of how this is accomplished and if recent political events have made HRC more materially invested in these things at the state level then how is that bad? 

Diego Sanchez is a trans activist living in MA and has been working on the efforts there.  He made history this past week when he became the first trans-person ever to be appointed by the Democratic Party Chair (currently Howard Dean) to a party committee that will be defining the platform for the Democratic National Committee (read details here).  This is just huge, and congrats and hugs to Diego on this wonderful honor.  Does anyone know that Diego was active in the Boston steering committee of HRC, and was one of the Diversity co-chairs there?  Does anyone know that he has weathered the storm and continues to be a voice there?  Does anyone know that he's scheduled to give a transgender training (along with Tracee McDaniel from Atlanta) to HRC steering committee leaders from all over the country at the HRC Board Meeting Leadership event in Washington DC next month?  Does that in any way diminish the incredible work he is doing on behalf of our entire community?  Of course not.  In fact, it's critical.  This entire thing isn't as black and white as some would make it. 

The first HRC dinner of the year happens tonight in my old home-town of Austin.  One of the co-chairs of the event is a dear friend and former co-worker from Dell, and I've expressed to her how important it is to set a high standard in terms of trans awareness at this event so that others will follow suit.  She's totally supportive, absolutely on-board, and has been working with the local organization there (my dear friends at TACT) on ways to be involved.

Transgender group hopes to ‘educate’ HRC leaders

By Staff Reports
Jan 17, 2008, 20:56

AUSTIN — Transgender Advocates of Central Texas will be holding an independent educational initiative during the Jan. 26 Human Rights Campaign event at the Austin Hilton.

TACT officials said in a statement released this week that the educational event is “motivated by the desire to educate the members of HRC about gender identity and expression and the need to provide protections in legislation.”

It was prompted, they said, by HRC’s continued support of a version of the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act that did not include protections for gender identity and expression, despite the fact that a coalition of more than 300 national, state and local groups signed a pledge to not support a non-inclusive bill. Activists nationwide criticized HRC leaders for the action.

Lisa Scheps, a TACT board member, said, “We feel the leadership of HRC not only hurt the transgender community, but also any person that doesn’t conform to gender norms. This includes feminine men and masculine women — many of whom are HRC members.”

The Dallas Voice, Jan. 18, 2008

If Lisa's involved, it will be well done...

But the efforts there are deeper than simply education at the dinner.  It's all about coalition building and partnership, and an article in yesterday's Austin Business Journal explains a little about what's happening in the bigger picture:

Austin gay groups create collaborative coalition

Banding together for the first time under one umbrella, eight different gay and lesbian organizations in Austin have formed a unique alliance they hope will galvanize the resources of the local LGBT community.

The Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has organized the Pride Coalition, an effort designed to help the different membership groups coordinate with one another to achieve mutual goals.

"We will no longer be limited or defeated by our own political infighting or allow ourselves to be self-sabotaged by not creating a culture of open and honest communication," says Jimmy Flannigan, president of AGLCC.

read the entire article here

These things don't happen by themselves.  They happen over time, through hard work, and building relationships, and by being a good collaboration partner.  TACT is one of the eight groups in the Pride Coalition.  I remember our very first TACT sure has come a long way.  :)

Lastly for this morning, I want to share something I received from COLAGE yesterday (see their website here).  People often approach me and ask how they can get involved - where they can begin.  I usually tell them they need to find their passion, find an organization that supports that passion, and to get involved (or, if there is no organization then perhaps they need to take the lead and start one).  COLAGE is Children of Lesbians and Gays and is all about family.  I first heard about them at one of the conferences where a young woman who has a transgender parent was explaining about the organization - her energy and enthusiasm was contagious.  They recently announced development of a Kids of Trans section on their website which is absolutely wonderful.  The reason I mention it is because they're looking for board members so those interested might want to investigate:

Be on the COLAGE National Board of Directors

COLAGE's Board of Directors

COLAGE is in the late stages of completing its new strategic plan. We are looking for dynamic, self-starters to join the Board of Directors and work with COLAGE to take the organization to the next level of its development.

The COLAGE Board of Directors is a group of dedicated volunteers that includes youth and adults with LGBT parents, as well as some LGBT parents, from all over the United States. The Board convenes for in-person meetings twice annually in addition to participating in ongoing conference calls and committee meetings. The Board provides crucial guidance and oversight for COLAGE and its programs, performs important fundraising and governance duties, and supports the staff of COLAGE in their ongoing work. Each Board member is an ambassador for the organization as well.

COLAGE especially seeks dedicated board members with skills and experience in:

  •  Fundraising and/or access to in-kind goods and services;
  • Public relations, marketing, media communications, and e-communications;
  • Law, especially LGBT family law, employment labor law, and legislative policy development;
  • Non-profit organizational development and governance (previous board or student government experience); and/or
  • Youth development, leadership & organizing

To ensure that all organizational decisions and actions are guided by and represent COLAGE's diverse membership and constituencies, we especially encourage people who have one or more of the following backgrounds or identities to apply:
  • Are you between the ages of 15-17? Or over 40?
  • Do you have one or more transgender parent(s)?
  • Are you a person of color and active in communities of color?
  • Are you straight/heterosexual and have one or more LGBT parents?
  • Are you a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer parent?
  • Do you reside and have family/community in the South, Southwest, Midwest, East and/or a rural area of the U.S.?

Basic Requirements:

  • volunteer 10-20 hours per month, commit to 2-year term
  • attend in-person all-board meetings twice per year (spring meeting in SF Bay Area, fall meeting location rotates)
  • participate in all-board conference calls every 6 weeks
  • actively participate on at least one board committee, including monthly calls
  • donate to the organization and actively participate in fundraising
  • be 'out' about your family
  • fully support and commit to helping manifest COLAGE's vision, mission, values and methodology

To apply, download either format of the application at

Email your completed application to the COLAGE Board Nominations committee at


Mail your application to:

1550 Bryant Street, Suite 830
San Francisco, CA 94103
ATTN: Board Nominations Application

Applications are due by Friday, February 8, 2008

Questions may be directed to the Board Nominating Committee at or Beth Teper, Executive Director, at 415-861-5437 or

And, you can always give them some money.  They need support, so even if you can't get involved each of us can support by supporting the organization and the efforts financially.

There's more to say but I need to get my day going.  I've got a busy weekend ahead of me.  :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

10:00pm:  Things are about to go up a notch at work.  We've got people from around the country coming to town for a 2-day project kickoff meeting.  I'll be ducking out early to get to Los Angeles to participate in the Trans Sister Tales event there on Thursday evening.  At this point I'm strongly considering driving there - it's 400 miles - for a number of reasons.  We'll see how it plays out.

I have a couple of things to talk about today.  The first is about a friend from the Phoenix area and is struggling with transgender issues.  We often talk about having a difficult workplace transition but few employers are as difficult as hers.  She's service as a medic in Iraq in the United States Army.  It's funny to hear her write about the army and refer to it as her "employer", but the fact of the matter is that she's about to get fired.

She recently received a medal for her service.  She regularly writes to a group of us to share what it's like to serve over there, and her struggles to maintain the front that they expect with what she knows is under the surface.  Many of us have urged caution and patience so she can finish her tour and move on with her life.  Things aren't always that tidy or convenient, and things with her have recently turned messy.

Many around her have known for some time.  In fact, she has taken estrogen with the full knowledge of many in her unit who seem to be able to see past it.  Apparently, it became obvious to some who were not nearly so understanding and based on her last email it appears she'll be headed home soon.  It's truly a shame as she's incredibly dedicated, passionate, and talented.  The reach of Don't Ask Don't Tell is deeper than many want to admit, and if things play out as it appears they will another promising career is about to come to an end there for absolutely no good reason.  She is a true hero in every sense of the word and deserves to come home with honors, not jobless.

Last night on The Agenda with Joe Solmonese (on XM Radio) one of the guests was Holly Ryan, chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition.  The MTPC is locked in a fight to get gender identity protections for state residents, and caused a bit of a stir in some circles recently when they accepted a $25,000 check from HRC to support their efforts.  This is one of those situations where there are any number shades of gray at play, and at the end of the day the goal is to achieve these important victories.  Anyway, you can listen to the interview here.

I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of these situations with HRC where there's no clear-cut way to determine good from bad, or right from wrong.  If they act they get criticized and questioned about their motives.  If they don't act they get criticized for not caring or not doing enough.  Such is the messy territory we're in these days and I expect it will continue for quite some time. While I was in Washington DC last week I visited with my friend, HRC Coming Out Project director Mark Shields.  Mark has attended several recent IFGE and Southern Comfort events, and in fact introduced me to accept an award at the last IFGE event in Philadelphia.  Our friendship transcends the political schism at hand, and the main emotion I feel when I consider what recent events have done to these relationships is sadness.

Anyway, Mark told me he has accepted a new position outside of HRC, meaning that a fairly senior role in the HRC Foundation will soon be open.  At the same time, the Diversity organization got approval during the last budget cycle to finally do something I've been pushing them to do for quite a while - to hire someone on staff specifically dedicated to transgender outreach.  The reason that these openings are pertinent is because it's really really really important to have transgender representation there.  However, the people who step into those roles will face a barrage of criticism simply for wanting to do the right thing. 

The heat is most likely to turn up again very soon as the Senate version of ENDA gets introduced - probably in February - and begins its journey to whatever fate awaits it.

I have more thoughts on the matter but that will do for now...

Speaking of opportunities at non-profits, I received an announcement today about another opening at Out and Equal in San Francisco:

POSITION:  Development Associate


The Development Associate will work closely with the Director of Development and Communications and Associate Director of Development to provide support for the organization’s donor development, corporate sponsorship program, ongoing fundraising campaigns and events, and the annual Workplace Summit. This is a full-time position that requires the ability to work under general supervision with minimal instruction. The individual filling this role must be self-motivated and have a strong background in non-profit development procedures, including in-kind gift solicitation. The ideal candidate will also be highly proficient in database management, and will be able to assist with updating and maintaining organizational constituent records using the Raiser’s Edge database system.

TO APPLY Send resume with cover letter to:, or fax to: Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, FAX (415) 694-6530. Include the position to which you are applying in subject line. NO PHONE CALLS, PLEASE. APPLICATION DEADLINE: Open until position is filled.

For more information:

Persons of color, women and transgender individuals strongly encouraged to apply.

I can send additional details to anyone who might be interested.

Lastly for tonight, GLAAD has started sending out something it calls the Best and Worst media for the month.  You can read the January 2008 list here.  Last month the worst news article was a story about Transgender Equality that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 28 titled "Crossing Over":


1) The Wall Street Journal Offers Poorly Reported Opinion Piece on Transgender Equality

On Dec. 28, The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal featured a piece titled "Crossing Over" that questioned the strides transgender people have made against discrimination. Since author Naomi Schaeffer Riley enjoys an influential media platform to express her opinions, she should have taken the time to actually speak with transgender Americans and find out how anti-discrimination laws affect their ability to live with dignity and freedom. Instead, Riley challenged the transgender equality movement while completely overlooking the actual perspectives and experiences of transgender people. Riley simply pulled material--including the offensive quote "What will prevent the 250-pound linebacker from deciding he wants to share the locker room with the cheerleaders?"-- from previous news stories, failing to conduct any original interviews or in-depth research. As a result, her piece contained unacceptable factual errors, such as her incorrect identification of transgender activist Pauline Park as male. It is irresponsible that Riley did not make any effort to accurately report on and understand the lives of transgender people before penning an opinion criticizing their struggle for equal rights.


GLAAD encourages you to contact Naomi Schaefer Riley and The Wall Street Journal and ask them to reach out to the transgender community before publishing articles judging their strides against discrimination.



It's all about accountability...


Monday, January 21, 2008

11:30pm:  It's another week.  Several events of interest have happened over the past couple of days.

An article titled "Transgender Movement at a Crossroad" was published in Bay Windows late last week.

Recent developments in the transgender movement suggest an internal conflict between methods proven successful and misdirected anger that only gets in the way.

On the winning side of the ledger are accomplishments at the state and local level. For example, in the past few weeks, both houses of the New Jersey state legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill to add gender identity and expression to the state’s hate crime law and strengthen school anti-bullying policies. This victory is thanks to the efforts of Garden State Equality and Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey. This illustrates the fact that, as with the fight for marriage equality, the main action currently is in the states, and that is where the bulk of resources need to be directed even as we continue our education efforts nationally.

Transgender Movement at a Crossroads - Bay Windows, Jan. 16, 2008

I agree we're at a crossroads, and that we're dealing with some of the upheaval that such times necessarily bring.  I don't however, agree with the statements or the conclusions that the author makes about Meredith Bacon or the transgender advocacy community in general.  If this person knew the back story it might not change their perception but it would certainly put things in a different context.

Last week I mentioned that Ethan St. Pierre gave his resignation as the Board Chair for NTAC.  I told him I was happy to share anything he'd like to say and he responded by sending me a song, saying he'd like to dedicate it to NTAC:

powered by ODEO

GLAAD announced the nominees for the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards yesterday (see them here). I've mentioned in the past that I'm on the Board of GLAAD (so I'm a voter for these awards) and I'm a table captain at the New York and Los Angeles events so if you'd like to sit at my table for either of these wonderful events let me know and I can give you the link to the get tickets.  One of the special awards this year will be given to Janet Jackson.  It's going to be a blast.  I had one dear friend who can't attend offer to sponsor someone who can't otherwise afford to go - if you're able to do that it would be fantastic.

The nominees and presenters this year is very encouraging.  I remember my first GLAAD Awards in San Francisco a few years ago.  There were only a handful of transpeople there.  This year Christine Daniels is nominated for an award.  Ugly Betty and Dirty Sexy Money have transgender characters and are nominated.  I expect that there will be transgender presenters.  It's good to see.  Behind the scenes I'm working with the folks at GLAAD about some exciting stuff, as well.  Stay tuned on that...

GLAAD's work is more pertinent now than ever.  There has been quite a bit of media attention about the transgender community over these past few days - most of it positive. 

One article in the Los Angeles Times from Jan. 21 was titled "Trapped Inside the Wrong Body" (read it here).  Despite its outdated title it's not all that bad of a story:


There is a place between reality and make-believe where strangers dwell. They are unable to fully integrate into a world of clear definitions but equally unwilling to pretend that they are something they are not. It's in that gray and lonely place that Meredith lives.

She's a transsexual, and although she says she is comfortable with who she is, the loneliness can become unbearable, because she exists on the fringes of a culture that still considers humans trapped in the wrong bodies as freaks.

The author continues....

Her voice and mannerisms -- a head tilt, a flutter of brilliant blue eyes, a giggle -- are definitely female, aided by a five-year regimen of estrogen that is altering the nature of her body. She has very little hope of ever being be able to afford the surgery that would make the transition complete.

"I am happy with who I am," she declares without hesitation, showing me a driver's license that identifies her as female. But still there is that loneliness she admits to, an uneasy notion that not everyone else is happy with who she is. "I'm OK with that," she says. "It's all right to be lonely."

At 51, she has been diagnosed bipolar and lives on the edge of downtown's skid row on an $870-a-month state disability allotment. She supplements that, she admits, with occasional sexual encounters. "I'm not a prostitute," she says, with a nervous laugh, "I'm a whore," meaning she's not a professional, she's just an opportunist.

She has attempted suicide by slashing her wrists, and sought to blur her pain through alcohol and drugs. "There were times," she says, "when I didn't even want to get out of bed." In an effort to reestablish contact with an abusive and alcoholic father, she telephoned him. He swore at her and hung up.

It is only now, after hormones and therapy, that Meredith is able to declare who she is and to be respected by those who know her.

Her mother, who died several years ago, accepted her without condemnation.

Acceptance, Meredith feels, is a question of respect. "I find," she adds, "that if I am gracious to others, they are gracious to me."

Why write now about someone in such an isolated state, living on the fringe of a society that finds transsexuals an anomaly? Because, as members of the human family, they deserve identity. Meredith emphasizes that transsexuals are not transvestites, the men and women who cross-dress. Transsexuals make the change emotionally and often physically. They become, in effect, someone else.

I hope this author comes to the performance of the Trans Sister Tales in LA later this week...

The Nashua Telegraph from little Nashua, NH wrote not one but two articles this week:

In the months ahead, The Telegraph will introduce its readers to people who say they’ve shared the same life-defining urge to live as the opposite sex – eventually revealing the secret to the shock of those around them: parents, friends and family, co-workers.

This was a community rarely mentioned in New Hampshire – at least publicly – before last year, when Dr. Jennifer Madden, of Nashua, decided to use her medical expertise to take on the Statehouse, fighting for the rights of all transsexuals in the state.

Until this week, New Hampshire was considering legislation that would have made it the first state to require insurance companies to cover the cost of hormones for people transitioning from one gender to another. Not even Madden thought the bill would make it past subcommittee.

But it did.

Taking a look at the transgender community in N.H. By ASHLEY SMITH, Jan. 20, 2008

All in all - it's nice to be talking about positive moves forward.  I hate to ruin it by mention politics.  But I have to.

HRC put out a statement to commemorate Dr. Martine Luther King's legacy today.  After folding like a deck of cards on ENDA I can't for the life of me believe they truly see any parallel's between themselves and Dr. King.  Still, there you have it...

Trans Activists were quick t respond.  In an article titled "Is There Nothing that the HRC Won't Exploit" Beck Juro let them have it again. (read it here)

In the months ahead, The Telegraph will introduce its readers to people who say they’ve shared the same life-defining urge to live as the opposite sex – eventually revealing the secret to the shock of those around them: parents, friends and family, co-workers.

This was a community rarely mentioned in New Hampshire – at least publicly – before last year, when Dr. Jennifer Madden, of Nashua, decided to use her medical expertise to take on the Statehouse, fighting for the rights of all transsexuals in the state.

Until this week, New Hampshire was considering legislation that would have made it the first state to require insurance companies to cover the cost of hormones for people transitioning from one gender to another. Not even Madden thought the bill would make it past subcommittee.

But it did.

Taking a look at the transgender community in N.H. By ASHLEY SMITH, Jan. 20, 2008

And, on TransGriot Monica Roberts published an article titled HRC's Not Even Close to the MLK Legacy (read it here).


Sunday, January 20, 2008

10:30am:  The Phoenix area is hopping and looks to be a center of excitement for the next several weeks: 

This past week (and especially this weekend) Scottsdale is hosting the huge Barrett-Jackson car auction.  There are huge tents all around North Scottsdale for this, and it's being televised live on the Speed Network this weekend.  Last year I felt bad for them because it rained and was a cold, wet, muddy mess.  This year the weather is much more hospitable as high temperatures are in the 60's and sunshine is abundant. 

Next week the PGA golf tour kicks off here in Scottsdale at the Phoenix Open.

And then, a couple of weeks from today, Super Bowl week culminates in the Big Game here in Glendale (details here).  If you're coming here for the game I'll trade you a place to stay for a ticket.  :)

Two of the things that help a person feel human again are a good night sleep and a nice hot shower.  I got almost 8 hours of sleep last night which was much needed.  A hot shower won't be far behind.  But first, I want to share some thinking that's rumbling around in my head this morning....

I just passed two weeks on the new job.  As I've already mentioned I'm one of 4 project managers working together to manage a huge two-and-a-half year project.  It's the most visible effort on the most visible customer-facing application at at Fortune 100 company.  They've already spent a year and a half doing proof-of-concept, and are now bringing the team together to actually do the work.  I've got resources here in the US and offshore, and we're actually making people move here so they're closer to the core team for the duration of the effort.  It's huge.

The reason I share all this is that I'm already a bit conflicted about it.  I suppose the best way to explain is to give an analogy.

There was a time in 1996-1997 when I realized that a transition might actually be part of my not-too-distant future.  At the time I wasn't sure I'd see it through but I was also realistic enough to know that once the news that I was even contemplating such a thing came out of my mouth my life would change.  The biggest change, I suspected, would come in my marriage.  I was hopeful at the beginning, as many of us are, that my wife could find a way to accept this and that our marriage could avoid a long, messy, painful death spiral.  But at the same time I knew my wife, I knew how she felt, and I suppose I knew that our marriage would most probably end the minute we had this discussion.  The divorce might come later, but the dynamics of the relationship would change such that any sense of intimacy would be compromised - most likely beyond repair.

My wife had no idea that I was dealing with all of this, so on the outside all was business as usual.  But we were at a point in life where we were beginning to plan for retirement, to make long term plans for the next phase of our lives together.  The problem was - I didn't know how long-term things would last (not by my choice) so I was hesitant to make commitments that might not survive the disclosure if that's what came to pass.  That made me feel like a devious liar and it wasn't something I'm proud about.  But the fact of the matter is that I'm feeling exactly that way again and I don't want to make the same mistakes.

My career at Dell ended when my Vice President asked me to manage a huge project there that she told me needed to "consume me".  She told me I needed to dedicate myself and "run through walls" for her to get it done, to give her 110 percent.  She said that if I couldn't make that commitment then we'd need to make some decisions.  At the time my life balance was such that my advocacy activities were increasing and were every bit as important to me as my career.  I told her that my life was a balance and that it all needed to work together, and that I wasn't ready to give 110% of myself to anything.  Decisions were made, and I left.

So here we are again.  I find myself facing a need to dedicate myself to a huge project that threatens my balance for some significant period of time.  Between now and the end of February I'm scheduled to give talks in Spokane, in Kalamazoo, in Delaware, at Harvard.  I'm scheduled to attend Creating Change in Detroit, and to participate in GLAAD Board meetings in Las Vegas.  I'm participating in the Trans Sister Tales in Los Angeles next week.  I'm working with Jamison on some important things, and had to cancel a planned trip to Miami already because of work requirements.  There a chance I'll pursue an opportunity to be an openly GLBT delegate from Arizona at the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this year. I continue to be interested in my photography stuff, my video stuff, and any number of other personal projects. 

How can all of these things balance?  I don't know if they can. 

The reason I share all of this is that I'm going to have a discussion there sooner rather than later.  Part of me tells myself to wait it out to see if things get to be too much to handle before taking action.  But looking into my crystal ball it seems as though the question is "when" things will start to collide, not "if".  I expect it will happen sometime in the next couple of weeks so we don't get too far into it before decisions can be made.  I'm not exactly sure how it will end up. 

Part of the difficulty I find myself facing, and that friends are facing as well, is that we don't really "fit" into a neat little box any more.  There was a time when focusing on career and blocking out external distractions was relatively easy.  But that's not true any more, so finding role somewhere that understands, accepts, and even supports that unique balance remains the challenge.  Maybe this will work out that way.  Maybe not.  If you work for a corporation that might be able to leverage the broader spectrum of things I bring to the table have someone contact me.  I'm open to a discussion.

One dear friend has tried to change careers and has been going to college to help move her life into a new direction.  She dropped out last week.  Another friend recently took a new job that threatened to constrict her to a point where she couldn't do the other things in life that she needs to do.  She resigned on Friday.  Many of us transitioned to truly "live", not to go back into a cocoon.  As we talk about supportive workplaces in a more advanced sense we need to talk about workplaces that recognize these deep changes and actually facilitate them.  It's not just about going back to the same box anymore because often, we've outgrown the box. It doesn't fit any more.  That's a deep topic, and is better saved for another day.

I'm not sure why I'm feeling so chatty about these things this morning and I suppose I should end here before I think better of it and erase it....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

11:30pm:  With any luck I'll be asleep in 15 minutes.  It has been a long week and I'm dead tired.

The trip to Washington DC mid-week went without a hitch except for a midday snow jag that made getting back home a little more interesting than it needed to be.  It was certainly pretty - big fluffy flakes lazily floating down - but can complicate things like driving and flying.  The area got a couple of inches worth which thankfully didn't live up to amounts that the Weather Advisories warned might fall. 

Here's a taste of the frantic pace of my crazy week:  Wednesday: Get up.  Pack. Get to the airport.  Four hour flight to DC.  Metro ride and a brief walk to the hotel.  Get settled before heading out to meet someone transitioning at a local firm for dinner.  Back to the hotel (it was freezing!)  for 6 hours of sleep.  Thursday: Morning meetings.  A mid-day talk that was televised to campuses in New York and Los Angeles (it went very well!).  Then, back to the airport on the Metro for the long flight back home.  Land at 9.  Home by 10.  In bed by 11.  Friday:  Alarm goes off at 5:05am.  Arrive at work at 6:30am.  Long day at work trying to catch up.  5:30pm  finally leave to go home. 

There are a few articles/stories of interest recently. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

10:15pm:  It has been a very long day.  I've gotten into a routine where my alarm goes off at 5:05am and I do my best to be out the door by 6am.  This morning things went particularly smoothly and I was out the door by 5:50 - pulled into the parking lot a work at 6:30.  I don't know about anyone else but for most of my life my alarm didn't even go off until 6:30 - arriving at work in the dark to a nearly deserted campus is no fun. 

The job is very busy, and although I didn't leave there to 6:30 this evening (in the dark) I'll admit that I'm kind of enjoying it.  It's like a relationship where we're still at the early stage where it's kind of nice to see each other again.  It's still fresh.  We haven't gotten to the stage where we can't stand each other and want to claw each other's eyes out yet...that comes later.  The people are great, and it's taking me quite a bit of adjusting to remember all the long Indian names.  I was in a core-team management meeting today and it's actually a very diverse group.  9 men and 5 women.  6 of them are from India.  I have an offshore project manager reporting to me who manages testing resources in India - he took me out to lunch today at an Indian restaurant.  I ate from the buffet but had no clue what any of it was - it was a real culture shock.

As I said - I left work at 6:30.  Got to the fitness center by a little after 7.  Left the fitness center after a long run on the treadmill at 8:30.  Stopped by the hospital to visit one of Dr. Meltzer's patients.  Finally got home at 9:45 and had a light dinner.  Now, I'm chillin' and will go to bed shortly.  I'm tired.

To make an already busy schedule even crazier I have to leave tomorrow morning to fly to Washington DC.  I'm giving a talk there on Thursday before catching a late flight back home.  I hate to say it but I've got a couple of events in the next week that I'm going to need to reschedule - in my own "Balance" I really need to focus of my work obligations right now.  Speaking of Balance, I taped a 10-minute piece about Balance to upload to YouTube.  I'm not sure that I will or won't yet - we'll see.

The local GLBT magazine here in Phoenix is called ECHO and they recently named their 2007 Woman of the Year.  She's a local transgender powerhouse named Regina Gazelle (read about her here).  I saw Regina at an event shortly before Christmas and hugged her to congratulate her for this huge achievement.  She certainly has come a long way.  I remember meeting with her when her idea was just idea.  She wanted to start a halfway-house for transgender women to help them get back on their feet again.  18 months later her idea became a reality - she made it happen.  She knocked on doors, she wouldn't take 'no' for an answer, she was creative and persistent, and now her vision is a reality.  Regina rocks.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

6:30pm:  The fallout from the recent negative attacks in the community is continuing.  Ethan St. Pierre, a true warrior in every sense of the word and someone I've come to respect and care dearly about both as a person and as an activist, tendered his resignation yesterday as the Board Chair for the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC).  This is truly sad news and during our phone conversation today I told Ethan I'm happy to post any thoughts he wants to share.  I'll let him talk for himself about his reasons, what he's thinking, and on what he hopes to do next.  Stay tuned on that.

I have made a conscious decision to avoid weighing in on most of the recent Op/Ed pieces I have been seeing.  I simply share them here without comment.  All I can say is that each of us needs to be accountable for the things we do and say.  That word - accountable - is a significant concept and we need to hold ourselves and other to it.  I expect that as details around some of the recent shenanigans come to light it's a word we'll be hearing quite often. 

There was an article in today's New York Times that's not specifically about the GLBT community but it has definite relevance in the context of the recent ENDA struggles.  It's titled "Rights vs. Rights: An Improbable Collision Course":

Breakthrough politics can be a zero-sum game, with distinct groups striving for a finite piece of the change pie. It brings to mind that the civil rights movement and the women’s movement have a long, complicated history dating back to abolitionism and the origins of modern feminism. While they have been philosophical allies, sharing goals and ideals, there have also been periodic collisions that could bespeak an inevitable friction as Barack v. Hillary moves forward and — potentially — in directions far less seemly than they have to date.

“The movements have been so deeply linked, and usually in harmony,” said Sara Evans, author of “Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left” and a historian at the University of Minnesota. “But there will always be points of tension, too,” Ms. Evans said, especially when the broad ideals that blacks and women have typically shared — in their fight for the vote, non-discrimination and economic equality — give way to the nitty-gritty of reaching consensus, setting policy, passing legislation and, in the case of elections, making choices.

Rights vs. Rights: An Improbable Collision Course - New York Times, Jan. 13, 2007

These lessons have already been learned the hard way.  We need to take stock of their teachings and move forward with faith and conviction.  I have never been more sure that the right things will eventually happen.  The thing some of us probably disagree on is what the "right things" are.  That's ok.  It's a work in progress...    :)

I spent some time today watching the NFL Football playoffs.  In both games the underdog, a visiting team playing in a hostile environment against a team with a better record, won.  Key people made key plays under pressure.  They were not distracted by the pressure or by the noise.  They played together, they maintained focus, they kept their faith, and in the end they were successful.  Both games are metaphors for life. 

The thing that particular struck me wasn't anything that happened on the field (as exciting as that was).  It was what Dallas Cowboy receiver (and super-ego) Terrell Owens had to say after the game.  To me, TO has long personified all that is wrong with professional sports.  His ego is out of control.  He's a showman.  He has no respect for anyone and is a me-me-me player.  "Class" is not a word you'd use the the same sentence as TO which is a shame because he's very talented.

Anyway, after the game a humble, emotional TO teared up as he talked about the game and the criticism he feared would focus on their quarterback (see his remarks here). As his lip quivered he told the reporters - "It's not fair.  We're a team, man.  We lost as a team".  He humanized himself to me with that,  and it's something I'll remember about TO next time he's an ass.  When we allow ourselves to drop all pretense, when we allow ourselves to expose our weaknesses and to be vulnerable, when we can escape what others expect us to be and be ourselves for a moment - that's magical thing.  The reason that this has relevance here is that it's as true in life as it is in sports.  I dislike sports metaphors as much as the next person so I'll leave it at that and allow anyone reading to connect the dots.  

Saturday, January 12, 2008

10:00pm:  I cooked a hamburger on my grill this evening, and am having a beer with dinner.  I don't like beer very much - never have.  One of the ironies of my life is that when I was married we'd go out for drinks my wife would often order a beer and I'd order a wine cooler.  The server would almost always come back to the table and put the beer in front of me and the wine cooler in front of my wife.  We'd swap after they left.  Anyway, I don't have any wine coolers in my refrigerator so tonight it's beer.

I feel compelled to say something about the HRC "Situation".  That's what I call this ongoing non-relationship, non-engagement, non-communication, negative, energy-sucking, disrespectful, trust vacuum "thing" between HRC and the trans-community.  It's not a relationship because, basically, there is no relationship. 

In case anyone was wondering if the HRC Situation would subside anytime soon - the answer is no.  The news coming out just last week alone was full of skirmishes occurring at touch points between HRC and transgender people.  Some examples from these last couple of days:

It is only by almost completely erasing the context of Meredith Bacon’s e-mail that Kevin Naff, writing on the Washington Blade’s blog last week, was able to make it appear that the Human Rights Campaign was the injured party in this situation.
In a decisive move today, Michael West, the Chair of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Transgender American Veterans Association (MATAVA,) informed the new Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Gunner Scott, and another board member, Holly Ryan, that MATAVA will no longer be part of their coalition. This move came after an article appeared in Bay Windows, by the title of “Scott to head MTPC, HRC and local orgs provide financial support,” dated January 10, 2008. The article stated that MTPC recently received a donation of $25,000 from the Human Rights Campaign and is planning on forming stronger ties with them.
....the meeting was notable for the extreme lengths Solmonese went to hearing out the concerns of these angry transgender activists -- who have said more personal and vicious things about him and HRC in a short three-month span than Michael Petrelis, Andrew Sullivan and I together have churned out in the last five years. Yet over all those months of criticism about HRC's lack of transparency and overt partisanship, not just from us but throughout the blogosphere and the gay press, Solmonese never once picked up the phone; never suggested a meeting.

Still, there he was in San Francisco, liberal-guilt-ridden for the apparent crime of supporting the country's most well-known gay politician and the movement's most basic gay rights legislation -- defending himself to transgender activists angry that he hadn't held ENDA hostage indefinitely over a gender identity provision that was nowhere close to passage.

It's clearly time for a change and not just in the White House. It's time for the nation's largest gay rights group to be led by someone who puts the movement first and party affiliation second and who will not abandon 99 percent of his constituents in favor of a very loud 1 percent. And it's long past time for the D.C.-Massachusetts mafia that has long pulled the strings at HRC to relinquish control and let someone else have a try. They've had decades now and have absolutely positively nothing to show for it.

Citizen Crain - January 11

Long story short - it's a mess and it will continue to be a mess for the foreseeable future.  ENDA Part 2 is on-deck.

The thing that deeply troubles me is the continuing attempt to hang the HRC noose around the neck of anyone perceived as being not angry enough, or of fraternizing with "the enemy".  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the people that this current witch-hunt is hurting most is us.  And we're doing terrible damage to ourselves that HRC could never in a million years inflict on their own.  It needs to stop.  Or at least, it needs to change from this unhealthy stew of anger, frustration, and pain into something productive, something with a positive purpose.  As far as I'm concerned, the goal of "punishment" is not the noble goal that I signed up for when I stepped to the plate as an activist.  I will not make that my goal now.

The transgender community is more than HRC, ENDA or any other one single thing.  It is not and cannot become a single-issue community.  Although identifying a common enemy or  villain as a community binding "force" is a time-tested strategy that can be very effective the question that history forces us to ask ourselves is "at what cost?"  That's what I'm concerned about here - the cost.  Is HRC or Barney Frank worthy of being that target?  Many believe that they are.  But once you open that can of worms where does it stop?  I'm not advocating turn the other cheek or forgive and forget.  We've got no more cheeks to turn.  I'm advocating wisdom when choosing our battles. 

I'd be the first one to agree that the ENDA mess is sordid story of betrayal, lies, misrepresentation, deceit, arrogance, failed leadership, personal agenda, and missed opportunity that will haunt the GLBT political machine for years to come.  The real tragedy is that it could and should have been a shining moment, a unifying experience unlike any that has come before.  Instead, it was (and remains) a bitter, divisive civil war that exposed weaknesses (and strengths) in the overall GLBT community, collectively forced us to ask questions we had never been forced to face, and to truly act as a partner in a historic broader effort.  The experience has changed us - individually and collectively - in profound ways. 

There are a handful vocal activists looking to hang the HRC albatross on Mara Keisling and on NCTE.  They're leveraging the current mess to settle old scores.  I, for one, will defend Mara's organization, her work, her ability to act as a viable partner, and her incredible value as a tireless leader in this community.  Her job is a job few of us would want and she handles it with grace and humanity.  It is an honor to work with her, and I find efforts to discredit her are more about personal agenda than anything particular or credible.  Is she perfect?  Who among us is?  Do I agree with everything she does?  Of course not.  What she IS, however, is a pragmatic (and funny), practical leader and our community is fortunate to have her as a voice in Washington.  The fact that she may not be angry enough, bitter enough, or scream loud enough to suit the tastes of some is immaterial. You'll never please everyone so it's useless to try.

We cannot punish those who give so much of themselves on behalf of the greater good.  Disagreements can be settled via communication, and there are other ways to settle family squabbles other than through the binary primal scream that is the blogosphere.

"NCTE still at times mouths the words of anger, but also accommodation – oddly mixed signals. "

from a recent TransPolitical blog post

I do not see them as mixed signals.  In fact, I don't see them as being even connected.  We will not forget our anger, the feeling of being used, how it feels to be betrayed.  In fact, the fresh memory of those emotions acts as fuel for many of us.  At the same time, though, the anger has not blinded us to fact that we need to move forward, and we remain committed to goals that have not changed.  And, each of us will do what we feel we need to do when opportunities present themselves.  Mara is healing the same as all of us are and deserves the respect to re-charge and move to what comes next. 


We must find some catalyst at some point to bring some hope to the Transgender Community. For me hope died years ago. Hope is nothing more than a small nondescript town in southwestern Arkansas, and that’s it.

from the same recent TransPolitical blog post

It's not a lack of hope that's hobbling us, it's the lack of a constructive outlet for our collective anger.  I believe that there is actually a significant amount of hope in the Transgender community.  In fact, for many of us it is the fuel that gets us from one day to another.  To lose hope is to surrender to the darkness of despair.  The minute that happens - they've won.  Those who would dehumanize you, disrespect you, devalue you, and take from you will have achieved their goals.  There have been dark nights when all I've had is that flicker of Hope, waiting for the sun to rise to light another day.  It's the link between many of us, more than sex, gender, sexuality, race, age, or life experience.  Hope isn't just something.  It's everything.

This battle - not the battle about ENDA, or with HRC, or amongst ourselves, but the battle to be able to live our lives the way we want free from harassment, violence, or judgment - will eventually be won by those who have the patience to see it through, the courage to live authentically, and the confidence that the moral high ground remains unassailable.  I hope to be here to see that day. 

Friday, January 11, 2008

11:30pm:  The weekend is here.  Week 1 on the new job is done.  Phew.  Lots of stuff going on.  I'm looking forward to a couple of "down" days.

The Real ID Act regulations came out today.  NCTE distributed a bulletin about it to raise awareness of how it might affect transpeople:

Department of Homeland Security Issues Final Rules for REAL ID Act

Washington, DC - Today the Department of Homeland Security issued final rules for the implementation of the REAL ID Act which became law in 2005. NCTE, in collaboration with many other organizations, has worked in opposition to this dangerous law that would create a national ID card and place significant personal information at risk.

We have worked since passage, particularly on the implementation rules, to ameliorate damage inherent in this bad and dangerous law.

Specifically to transgender people, NCTE was concerned that:

1) The REAL ID Act requires states to have gender as a mandatory field on driver licenses. The final rules unfortunately do not eliminate that requirement.

2) The REAL ID Act could have mandated a preemption of state gender change policies in favor of a federal standard or even federal definition of gender. We are pleased that the new rules would reserve gender definition and gender change rules for the states.

3) The REAL ID Act essentially mandates a national database (a network of state databases) that would include personal information that could lead to discrimination and violence against transgender and other people. These new final rules do not address these concerns and we continue to be very concerned about this privacy degradation.

Though NCTE's analysis of the new rules are not yet complete, since this 284 page document was only issued at noon today, we are also initially concerned about a requirement that states match their databases against Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. NCTE has been working with states, most of which already match with SSA, to understand that federal requirements do not mandate matching gender data with SSA.

Another notable point is that people born before December 1, 1964, will not be required to have compliant IDs until 2017.

NCTE will issue a more thorough analysis in the following weeks after consultation with other allies that are also performing analyses of the new rules.


5:30am:  There are some upcoming events worth noting.  First, the Real ID Act Regulations come out later today.  What the final rules look like at this point is still anybody's guess.  Parts of it are already being reported (details here) and no matter what happens it's bound to affect many trans people in significant ways.  Stay tuned...

The Washington Blade interview with Susan Stanton that I mentioned a couple of days ago is out (read it here).  The title is "Transgender Activists Turn on One of their Own" and it is controversial by design.  I need to get to work and don't have the time to make many comments other than lament the fact that is is truly unfortunate - both for the transgender community and for Susan. 

One of the many ironies at play is that - for some reason - the Blade chose to include the essay written by Susan Stanton's son.  One excerpt from it says: 

....Now, though, I am very proud of my Dad, after I saw him and saw that inside he was the same Dad as he always was. He still likes football. He still likes to be an aggressive driver. He is still the same person but just different on the outside. I am very happy for him now that he is who he wants to be. I think that everyone should be who they are and not try to be the same as other people.

If you ask me, this has got to be the manliest thing he has done in his whole life. It takes a real man to come out of your shell and say, “Hey, I am who I am” and take the responsibilities of doing that.

"Transgender Activsts Turn on One of Their Own"  by Lou Chibbaro, Washington Blade (Jan 11, 2008)

Somehow, as I read that - and I'm not even sure how to phrase this carefully so I'll just put it out there - is a mental image of someone who's perceived as a "man in a dress."  Oy.  It's one thing to open yourself to this kind of criticism but I guess I'm not understanding why Susan wants to pull her son into it, especially given his relatively young age and her still early time as a transitioner.  I can't see how any good can come of this other than the rest of the world looking at the community as a bunch of in-fighting, bitter, angry, confused people that they can now look at with even more certainty to say, "See?  They're not ready for their rights.  I told you so!" 

There has been an email circulating from someone who wrote to the reporter responsible for Susan's interview in the St. Pete Times a couple of weeks ago asking if, perhaps, she had misunderstood or taken Susan's comments out of context.  The reporter firmly stands by the story as is, says the paper is fully behind it, and notes that no request for retraction has been made.  In this new interview Susan indicates that she was "startled and hurt" at the angry response to it (while, in no way distancing herself from it) which I find almost unfathomable given what she is quoted as having said.  And now you have this which comes across as an angry response right back in a very public, unproductive way. 

If you think this is making everyone look bad, just wait until the CNN news crew that has been following her around is done.  You haven't seen anything yet....

I've got a busy couple of weeks coming up so I better enjoy this weekend because it's my last down-time for quite a while.  I'm off to Washington DC next Wednesday for an event on Thursday, and then back home that evening.  After unpacking and repacking I leave on Friday to spend the weekend at a training event in Miami, coming back late Monday.  On Wednesday I've got a big event happening at work.  And then on Thursday (1/24) I need to be in Los Angeles for an event I'm very excited about.

The much-anticipated premiere of “Trans Sister Tales” arrives in L.A. this month

What: “Trans Sister Tales” is a group of monologues written, performed, created, directed and produced by trans women which will be performed by an all star cast. The event will be held in a theater, and filmed for educational and entertainment purposes.

When: January 24th, 2007 @ 8:00pm-9: 30pm, reception following

Where: Lyric Theater - 520 N. La Brea, Los Angeles, Ca. 90036

Why: The show’s creator and producer, Dee Dee Flores, says, “ As an actress, I grew tired of non trans people telling me to portray my community in an inaccurate light. But instead of just complaining, I decided to do something about it, which is what inspired Trans Sister Tales.”

Flores’s fellow co-producer, also an actress (and writer), Leslie Townsend, comments, “This is a chance for trans women to tell their own stories, with their own words. If Tinsel Town and the 7:00 news refuse to reflect us as decent people who deserve respect and love, then we will help them along and produce our own images”.

The entire cast of women is excited about this rare experience where they will have the opportunity to express their truths on film without censorship. This is a chance to hear a community speak from the heart, with out Hollywood sensationalizing, dehumanizing, exploiting, and/or limiting their voices. Because socially conscious trans women are organizing this show, the integrity of the message is bound to humanize this community, who often feel marginalized and unheard.

Joy Behar said it the best on “The View” last fall when she said, “This is the year of the “trannie”!”, during Candis Cayne’s appearance. (Cayne was the first prime time trans actress). Behar was right on point in expressing that there has been a recent tidal wave of trans visibility in the media, from television, movies, documentaries and print. However, having visibility is not necessarily better then having no visibility at all. There are combatants of trans progression who have influence in the media, and that are inflicting fearful and inhumane blurs of trans people through the unacceptable depictions they make of them (such as the caricatures we see of trans women on the screen). These harmful images are hurting a community that seldom gets the chance to sincerely define themselves.

The trans community is no longer satisfied with trying to assimilate under the radar into a society that does not understand or acknowledge them. They are coming out of their shells (some would say they are being yanked out of their shells with the media’s current infatuation with them), but regardless, the cork has been popped, and it is truly up to the trans community to show the world that they are more than the “victims, villains or vixens” television shows like “Nip Tuck” would have one digest.

“Trans Sister Tales” is more then a declaration that trans women are engaged in protecting their presentation, but that they are devoted to encouraging ignorant people to awaken to the fact that trans people are a part of the human race, and that they have decided to break out and express themselves. Through the testimonies and personal performance art that will be showcased, this show seeks not just to educate people about who trans women truly are, but also to inspire all people to just follow their heart.

Who: The all-star cast of trans women performers is:

Bianca Leigh received much praise for her featured role in the film “TransAmerica”, and has a successful career on Broadway as an actress.

Andrea James is a leading activist for the trans community, writer, actress and filmmaker. . She was featured in the documentary “Beautiful Daughters” that aired on LOGO about trans women She will be starring with Calpernia Addams in LOGO’s reality dating show, “TransAmerican Love Story”, out in February

Donna Rose was the first and only trans person to be on the board of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Unfortunately, she resigned last year due to the HRC supporting legislation that did not support trans inclusion (the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA), although they had made a promise years prior not to ever support legislation that excluded gender identity expression.

Dee Dee Flores is the creator of “Trans Sister Tales”, and is also the Producer. She is an actress and stand up comedienne. She was featured in the documentary “Beautiful Daughters” that aired on LOGO about trans women, and had a small role in the film, “The Dying Gaul”.

Leslie Townsend is the co-producer of “Trans Sisters Tales”. She was featured in the documentary “Beautiful Daughters” that aired on LOGO about trans women. Townsend is a writer, actress and stand up comic.

Ashley Love is an activist, and the founder of MAGNET- Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Trans. Ashley is also a writer and performance artist.

Debra Soshoux has led a successful career as an attorney and has become a dedicated advocate for the trans community.

Erika Ervin is a writer and activist for the trans community. Ervin is a staff member at Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Trans (MAGNET).

Vanesa Camara is a ballet dancer, and also a dance instructor.

Mariana Marroquin is an actress in theater and in film. She has also lobbied in Washington DC with Bienestar for basic human rights for the trans community.

For press and media inquires, please contact MAGNET:
Office# (310) 621-0011

Congrats in advance to Dee Dee and Leslie for all the hard work they've been doing to pull this together.  Tickets are $20, and you can get more information by calling the theater box office at 323-939-9220.  If you can make it I'll see you there!

I got out of my car this morning at work after the 50 minute drive and somehow between the time I got in the car and the time I go out of it I pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve in my left butt.  How does stuff like that happen? Anyway - it still hurts tonight.  Speaking of the drive, I better get to bed.  Mornings come too quickly these days.

7:30am:  I'm working to get the new life-balance thing worked out this week.  The biggest change in the Force is this new job which is clear on the other side of the Valley.  It's a 40 mile drive each way, and I'm learning that the first 20 miles each morning can take 20 minutes or 40+ minutes depending on when I start.  If I leave by 6am it's already busy but traffic is moving and there doesn't seem to be too much of a delay.  If I can't get going until 6:10 there's a big difference, and and 4 lanes of traffic from Chandler through Scottsdale becomes a parking lot.  The reverse is true on the way home.  Note to self: do whatever you can to get out the door by 6am.

I need to revisit the meeting that Joe Solmonese had with transgender leaders in San Francisco last Saturday.  I mentioned in my earlier post that Theresa Sparks returned the Equality Award that she was given in 2004.  There's a story about the meeting in the Bay Area Reporter today with a photo that seems very symbolic to me (read it here) - the award is sitting alone at one end of a long table - seemingly forgotten.  Emotions continue to run high on this topic, and I suppose as I consider my own mix of feelings the one that most stands out right now is sadness.  I'm still hopeful that we can begin to find productive ways to move things forward in positive ways again. Or, at least, find productive ways to re-channel all the emotional energy that seems to need direction and outlet right now.

I also said in my earlier post that I perceive this meeting as a positive thing.  I still feel that way.  The thing most glaringly lacking in recent months since ENDA has been communication.  Certainly, there has been much said online, in the media and in other ways but there's no way to replace old-fashioned face-to-face communication where people can express themselves as part of a real-time dialogue rather than engaging in a one-sided discourse.  Joe indicated to several people in the room that he'd like to have follow-up discussions and I expect that the lines of communication will begin to open gradually as (or if) these kinds of discussions begin to take place. 

I think I'm going to offer to be a guest on Joe's XM Radio show "The Agenda" sometime soon as another step to re-open channels of communication.  We'll see how receptive they are to that....

Speaking of HRC - they released their annual report of the Best Places to Work yesterday (read about it here).  Regardless of how I feel about their political decisions recently I continue to believe that the important work they're doing in other areas of the organization remain critical to improving the day-to-day lives of GLBT people in this country.  I will be calling Workplace Project Director Daryl Herrschaft - who I continue to consider a dear, committed, wonderful friend - today to congratulate him and his staff, and to thank them.  The workplace efforts continue to be a passion so I read these things with some sense of pride, and a sense of hope. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

9:00pm:  Day one and now day two on the new job went smoothly.  The hardest part right now is the 40 mile drive each way and the traffic "problem".  It rained yesterday morning so it took me almost an hour and a half to make the trip.  I left extra early, knowing that people forget how to drive around here when the road gets the slightest bit damp. 

The days have been crammed with meetings, getting my laptop loaded with all the tools I'll need, meeting people and trying to remember who's who, and generally doing what I can to hit the ground running.  I've managed some large projects over the years but this looks to be the largest - a 36 month effort with a budget of $19 million in 2008 and $40 million over the duration.  Who says that transgender people need to prove they're "viable workers" in the mainstream?  (from "Susan Stanton's Lonely Transformation")  Bah humbug.

Speaking of Susan, I don't want to be talking about her again right now.  She implied that she was going to fade away for a while which was probably a good idea given the interview last week and her subsequent response.  But she can't seem to keep quiet so get ready for the other shoe to hit the ground.  She did an interview with Lou Chibbaro at the Washington Blade today and the story should be out in the next couple of days.  I won't guess at what she said although I doubt she'll be "misquoted" or "taken out of context".   I've heard some of it second and third hand already and don't want to start rumors so I'll leave it at that for now.  We'll see how it comes out.  Not good.

Changing gear to something that is good, New Jersey has expanded hate crime legislation in the state to include transgender people:

N.J. Legislature Strengthens Transgender Protections

The New Jersey state assembly voted 65–10 on Monday to extend the state’s hate-crime and school bullying protections to transgender residents, according to Garden State Equality, one of the advocacy groups that helped to draft the legislation. The bill, which passed 35–0 in the state senate, now moves to the desk of Gov. Jon S. Corzine, who is expected to sign it into law.

As a result, New Jersey's protections against transgender bias crimes will be among the strongest in the nation, according to Garden State Equality officials

Read article here

Moving forward - little by little....

Sunday, January 6, 2008

11:00pm:  The HRC outreach effort to the transgender community came to San Francisco yesterday.  HRC President Joe Solmonese was accompanied by David M. Smith and a couple of local Bay Area HRC Board members to meet with a group representing the transgender community there.  There was an impressive contingent of local and national transgender leaders in attendance, and all told there were 30 people in the room and the event lasted for little more than two hours.  The word one attendee used to describe it was "exhausting". 

It was a moderated event to make sure it didn't get too far off track.  It started with Joe and David explaining their version of why things happened as they did - there was nothing new - and unfolded from there.  Joe said he misspoke during his remarks at the Southern Comfort Conference.  People who wanted to speak had to sign up so local community leaders had their turn, one by one.  Theresa Sparks, president of the San Francisco Police Commission, returned the Equality award she had been given by HRC last year.  Jamison Green explained to Joe that the transgender activists there don't do activism as a "hobby" - that it's life or death.  They said that HRC hasn't taken any time to get to "know" the transgender community and that's part of why we're so upset at being treated in such a patronizing, disrespectful way.

Trans activists explained some of the far-reaching impacts of the ENDA debacle.  For example, it has come to light that the number of complaints of discrimination by transgender people against gay/lesbian business owners in the Castro has increased substantially since ENDA.  It seems to have enabled people to discriminate.

I'm sure additional details will become available over the next few days.  One attendee has already posted his notes from the event (read them here).  They are fairly in depth and well worth reading carefully.  I find the following excerpts to be particularly telling:

I'll start by saying, I am not feeling any better about the HRC than when I went up there. I had a pretty open mind, meaning ready to listen. Not 'joyful' as some folks said they were, but ready to listen. I listened a lot.

I am really, really concerned that Joe did not put any particular value on the literal pain and suffering in that room (let alone on the streets and in our community at large). He has a job to do it, and his vision of how to get it done. Connected to that, clearly he and board (as of course it's actually the board which directs Joe's moves) do not make (or have not made until now) any particular effort to get, or listen to when it's offered, input from the trans community (even the highly respected activists on their own team). This may change; he spoke of being committed to getting more tg senior staff. Does that mean the BOD will listen to them?

I am not terribly optimistic that Joe took anything new 'in' at this meeting. I do believe he and the HRC are doing what they understand to be best.

Throughout the entire thing, Joe was very noncommittal, unlikely to answer things directly, entirely lacking in passion. I will say however that his very polished presentation is no doubt precisely what is needed on capitol hill. However, it's pretty terrible when speaking within the community. The lobbyist was a lot more 'real' feeling.

The "lobbyist" in question is David Smith and I think he'll get a smile out of that last sentence....

I think these things are a good idea and I believe it's a good place to start.  I hope there are more of them sooner rather than later as it helps to open the lines of communication - lines that have been closed down completely since mid-September.  It's one thing to make political decisions while tucked away in the relative safety of the HRC Building in Washington DC.  It's a whole other thing to come face-to-face with the people most directly adversely affected by your decisions.  Joe could have sent anyone on his staff to this but he attended himself and I hope that the observation above that he didn't learn anything from it is wrong.  Someone else who attended was more positive about the outcome.  Maybe it will just take a little time to sink in.  I sure hope so.

How will these help?  It depends on how open HRC is to what comes out of them.  If this is simply going through the motions then they won't help at all and I'd suggest that they stop them right now.  If, however, there is room for discussion and opportunity for some level of engagement then it's a positive move.  I expect (and hope) that there will be follow-up with some of the attendees in the room.  If there isn't, then the true motivations will be glaringly apparent pretty quickly. 

On a different but perhaps related topic - I went to church this morning.  A friend invited me to attend with her and I'm feeling the need to explore my options with regards to perhaps finding some kind of a spiritual community (she used the term "church shopping").  I don't think praying will make this particular situation better.  But I choose to continue to have faith.   Although I don't think this particular church is where I'll set my roots I'm glad to have gone. 

I start my my new contract tomorrow so it will be a big day for me - it's like the first day at a brand new school.  I've got lots to occupy my mind over these next few weeks so things will get busy in a hurry.  The relaxation of the Holidays will become but a memory for me very quickly.  I'm feeling recharged, and ready for whatever comes next. 

Friday, January 4, 2008

11:00pm:  I'm home.  The plane was only half full and everything went smoothly and without a problem (other than a wheel falling off of my  luggage).

There are a couple of things to comment on tonight before heading to bed.

First, reaction is coming out to Susan Stanton's response to her recent horrible interview in the St. Petersburg Times.  As you might expect, it has not been positive.  Frankly, I don't think there's much she could say after the fact that would have calmed things down and, in fact, the greater risk was that she'd only make things worse.  As I've re-read it a couple of times I guess the emotion I feel most right now is extreme disappointment.  She didn't say anything at all about how this could happen.  She talked about her position, and how she got to where she is, and admitted that she may be a little naive with regards to the trans community, and about getting paid (or not), but as to specifically speaking to the comments that have been attributed to her she didn't explain a thing.  The word she used - "misunderstood" - doesn't even begin to cut it.  She could have done such amazing things during her time in the spotlight.  It's more than unfortunate that it all went so sour. 

The thing that few seem to be realizing is that nobody will see her statement.  Sure, a few people in the trans community will see it (indeed - it's addressed to us).  But the general populace locally and around the country that read the article in the first place, and that will continue to remember what she said, will never see any explanation or follow-up remarks.  Did she ask the paper for a retraction?  Did she ask that her comments be "fixed"?  Not that I've seen.  So, whatever damage has been done will remain.  And I have a feeling we haven't seen the real fallout yet.

The second thing to comment on is ENDA in the Senate.  As most who read this probably know a non-inclusive version passed in the House in November.  There has been all kinds of speculation about when/if Senator Kennedy would introduce it in the Senate in 2008 and if so, what version would he put forward?  Apparently, those questions were answered today.

Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) is expected to push for a Senate vote in 2008 on the same gay-only version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that the House of Representatives passed in 2007, a Kennedy spokesperson said this week.

“Although Sen. Kennedy strongly supports protections against job discrimination for transgender workers, inaction won’t advance justice for anyone, and will just make it harder to pass any version of ENDA in 2009,” said Kennedy spokesperson Melissa Wagoner.

“We will most likely work to move the House-passed bill, rather than introducing a separate Senate bill,” Wagoner told the Blade by e-mail. “Because the same legislation must pass both the House and Senate, now that the House has acted, the only realistic way to get a bill to the president’s desk this Congress is to have the Senate pass the House bill.”

Read the article here - Washington Blade, January 4 2008

I don't know that anyone is really all that surprised by this.  Many of us hoped that it wouldn't be floated in the Senate until after the elections to avoid an extension of the rancor from last year's ENDA debacle.  Apparently we're back on a collision course again.  There will be lots more to come on this, to be sure. 

The Washington Blade article (written by Lou Chibbaro) covers quite a bit of territory, including HRC's Project Win-Back and a more recent "situation" regarding National Center for Transgender Equality co-chair Meredith Bacon. 

In a related matter, the rift that emerged over the ENDA-transgender disagreement among gay rights advocates was highlighted last week when Meredith Bacon, president of the board of the National Center for Transgender Equality, published a blog entry denouncing HRC for its handling of the ENDA-trans dispute.

“[A]s the chair of the NCTE Board of Directors, I can assure all who read this blog that NCTE will not work with HRC in the foreseeable future, until the current leadership is completely purged, and until we are convinced that, unlike its predecessors, any new HRC leadership is totally committed to working for transgender rights,” Bacon wrote.

“As long as HRC is controlled by and is dependent upon white, rich, professional gay men, such collaboration may never occur,” she wrote.  

I didn't see Meredith's statement in any blog entry - I saw it in an email she sent in response to some very unkind words about NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling.  Being involved with HRC right now is akin to not only dealing with the enemy, but actually being the enemy to some.  Meredith was responding to a posting about Mara that focused on the organization's relationship to HRC.  Meredith was attempting to defend Mara, which I can certainly understand.  Unfortunately, now that's a mess too.  Those are strong words that, like Susan's statements, are perhaps OK to think in the privacy of your own head but NOT appropriate to put in print.  And there were more words as strong or stronger in the email.  She's fortunate they didn't print more of it.

Like it or not, NCTE and HRC share the same space and need to find a way to deal with one another.  They just do.  As much as I like and respect Meredith throwing down a gauntlet like that and attacking "white, rich, professional gay men" is not the way to get to a solution.  I don't think Meredith ever intended for anyone to see it but stuff like this invariably finds its way into the public eye so now they're doing damage control.   

This will most likely lead to changes at NCTE.  And, as with Susan Stanton's situation, that's a shame. 

3:00pm:  It's the end of the first week (or partial-week, anyway) of 2008.  My brief visit to Austin has been wonderful.  I head home this evening at dinnertime.

I went for my first run of 2008 yesterday morning.  I typically use the first run of the New Year as a milestone to compare my fitness level year after year.  I prefer to use that as my measurement as opposed to weighing myself (yuck) or some other metric that's inherently tainted by the annual Thanksgiving-to-New-Years eating fest.  I'm staying with my friend Lisa here who took me to the swankiest health club I've ever seen.  It was monstrously large, unbelievably large, and with all the mirrors it seemed to go on forever.  There were 13 large-screen hi-def TV's along the front of the aerobic area with rows and rows of treadmills, elliptical trainers, stair steppers, various flavors of bikes, and Lord knows what else.  I've never seen such a thing.  Anyway, I ran 6.5 miles in 60 minutes which is a pretty good clip for a non-runner like me. 

The time here has been busy but in a casual kind of way.  I've spent time visiting with friends.  We had a very nice get-together at Lisa's house on Wednesday evening.  I got my hair done (it's short again).  We've eaten at local restaurants that are very Austin-y (Hut's Hamburgers, Chuy's).  And besides the fact that it has been absolutely freezing it has been a great trip.  If I had a do-over to move back here I would do things very differently than I did when I came here in 2000.  I didn't know a soul and ended up choosing where to live based on its proximity to where I was working rather than on where I'd most probably have the best "Austin experience".  Too bad.  If I come back I'll know better next time.

The New Year officially starts for me on Monday when I begin my next contract.  The "down time" will be over.  I'll quickly find myself managing the fragile balancing act that is my life again.  I hope I'm ready for it.

I talked briefly with Susan Stanton this afternoon and she mentioned that she's posted a note on her website in response to the firestorm caused by her comments as printed in the St. Pete Times earlier this week (read it here).  I will let those who want to read it do so and allow it to stand on its own merit without adding my own two cents.  What I will say, however, is that this is truly a shame for many reasons, not least of which is that it seems as though it should have been so avoidable. 

Thursday, January 3, 2008

11:00pm:  It's funny how history has a way of reaching out when you least expect it to remind you of things you already know.

There was an article in today's Bay Area Reporter about Dana Rivers.  Dana had been a nationally recognized high school teacher in Sacramento, CA when she alerted the school board there in 1999 that she planned to transition from David to Dana.  The originally voted to keep her on, but over the course of the summer parental pressure caused one of the school board members to change his vote so before school started they re-voted and subsequently fired her.

In a very real way Dana's story mirrors Susan Stanton's.  She had been good at her job and had been fired simply for being identified as transgender.  It caused people to question things they don't typically question.  Dana's situation was so compelling that it made her the first nationally visible transgender person in my experience as it all happened right around the time that I was beginning my own transition.  Her situation was reported in Time Magazine (story here), the New York Times (story here), and in People Magazine.  She appeared on 20/20 (twice) and on Good Morning America.  She was on Oprah (details here).  It made big news, and when she came to Phoenix in January 2000 I went to see her.  In fact, in a very real way I hold her partly responsible for planting seeds that would become my own activism roots and I half-joke that I sometimes don't know whether to thank her or curse her.

By 2001 Dana's flame was burning brightly as a visible transgender activist.  She started to become active with HRC.  She started talking at functions around the country.  And then?  She disappeared.  She dropped out of sight.  And even people who were once good friends have had no idea where she's been.  Until today.

There was an article in the Bay Area Reporter on Dana today (read it here).  She's a teacher at a San Francisco jail.  It's nice to see she's back doing what she so enjoyed.  Her media light was burning so brightly that she had to completely disappear to escape it and to get back to something resembling a "normal" life.  So, she did.  Way to go, Dana.

6:00pm: It has been interesting to watch the reaction over these past 24 hours to Susan's comments as quoted by the the St. Pete Times.  One of my favorites included the word "nincompoop".  I so rarely see that word in print.

One thing I'll disagree with a few others about is Ms. Stanton's viability as a spokesperson in the wake of her published comments.  I think this has done her reputation serious damage to the point that they have made her a poison pill to those who may have been considering her.  For HRC (or anyone else, for that matter) to engage her is to implicitly support words that are a direct contradiction to mission and vision.  It's one thing to espouse an incremental approach towards the goal of a totally inclusive ENDA.  It's another thing to imply that some are "unworthy", that transgender people need to "prove" their viability as good employees, or that people need to meet her standards of masculine or feminine to be considered as worthy.  If true, it calls her judgment into serious question.  And perhaps most damaging, it strips her of any sense of sympathy to do unto others as she would not have done unto her.

I also think it has dampened any enthusiasm she may have once had to be a spokesperson in that capacity.  It's hard enough to transition all alone; I can't imagine how hard it is to do under a microscope although the key here is that the microscope, at this point, is largely self-inclicted.  I wrote to her early on and told her that there are two things I personally would have done differently from the get go.  First, I would have sued Largo for discrimination.  Somehow the word "accountable" comes up again, and as she nears the end of her severance and faces extended unemployment I'd revisit that decision if I were her.  Second, I would have chosen a much less public path.  I understand that she believes that she can do good but she can also do harm and that's where we are right now.  If she's going to speak for the community she at least needs to get to know the community. 

Susan is in the process of crafting a response to all of this.  In the meantime, those writing to her are getting a variation of the following email:

Thanks for your comments : Like many people in the transgender community, I was shocked and disappointed when I read the recent article in the St. Petersburg Times entitled “Susan Stanton’s Lonely Transformation”. The St. Petersburg Times is an excellent newspaper and I consider Ms. Lane DeGregory to be a gifted writer and a personal friend so I am not sure how my words could have been so terribly misunderstood. Since the publication of this story, I have received hundreds of email messages from people all over the nation expressing their disappointment and anger for the hurtful and insensitive statements that have been attributed to me. Simply stated, this article is not an accurate representation of my beliefs concerning the transgender community or my experiences as a transgender person. In the very near future, I will be releasing a more detailed statement regarding this issue. And, yes ......... I am so so so done with all this non-sense. Soon, I will be able to step off the stage and the trans-gender community can simply forget about my sorry face!

I have been misquoted, quoted out of context, and otherwise "used" to further a storyline so I'm sympathetic about what can happen when you speak with the press.  The thing I've learned is to be very careful about what you say, who you say it to, and what you're being asked to talk about and Susan must have learned that by now.  I'll be interested to see what she has to say and I hope, for her sake, that she can un-do some of the damage. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

3:00pm: New Year's Day is like a free pass.  It's a day when we're recovering from all of the frenetic events of the days and weeks leading up to the Holidays, of healing from too much partying, too little sleep, too much eating, and to embrace the fact that a new year is starting - almost as though we could start with a clean slate.

It is in that context that I need to revisit something from yesterday that I read in the early morning hours of New Year's Day and haven't had time to fully process until today.  And as I've revisited what I thought I read I find myself very much at a loss at how to respond.  So, I'll do as I typically do and I'll just let it flow...

There was an article in yesterday's Tampa Bay newspaper about Susan Stanton (read it here).  Her firing and subsequent public lynching at the hands of an ignorant, judgmental mob comprised of the Largo City Council and general populace there made national news.   Susan went from from an unassuming city manager one day to a very visible symbol of the transgender community.  Her harsh treatment forced others to ask questions about fairness and value that many people rarely do and, indeed, would prefer not to do.

She has appeared on Larry King Live and is having a CNN camera crew following her around for an entire year.  She has risen to a position of visibility and influence based solely on her circumstance.  Given her visibility she has an unprecedented opportunity to educate.  The danger is that this very visible stage can be used to inflict damage - to herself and to our community.  That is where she finds herself today.

Susan has unmasked herself as being blinded by that same ignorance and judgment that she found so shocking in others.  Her statements yesterday reek of internalized transphobia and homophobia, of haughty elitism, and of ignorance in a way that can only be defined as stunning.

Susan has met hundreds of other people like her. She was among the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people lobbying for a law that would make it illegal for others to discriminate against them.

But Susan has said all along that she's not like other transgender people. She feels uncomfortable even looking at some, "like I'm seeing a bunch of men in dresses."

Eventually, she decided it was too early for transgender people to be federally protected. People need more time, more education, she says. "The transgender groups boo me, now, when I speak. Isn't that ironic?

"But I don't blame the human rights groups from separating the transgender people from the protected groups. Most Americans aren't ready for us yet," Susan says. Transgender people need to be able to prove they're still viable workers -- especially in the mainstream.

"The biggest issue against the federal legislation is that politicians think the ladies' rooms will be invaded by guys in drag," Susan says, "instead of someone like me."

Are you kidding me??!  These are the kinds of things people can think to themselves, but to say them out loud is to admit being so outrageously prejudiced and ignorant that most of people would think better of it before actually saying them.  And if most of us were to say this kind of damaging stuff it would probably pass unnoticed.  But the fact that Susan says it, based on her experience and her visibility, is horrifying.  The fact she doesn't know better, that she can't keep her mouth closed, that she somehow feels free to compare herself to "them" (that means us) demonstrates an almost blissful ignorance as to the thud that these words will have for people who would use them as weapons.  I can't even begin to describe my disappointment and my anger.

The article continues:

Loneliness consumes her. Even when she gets up the courage to go out, she is almost always alone: in the theater, in church and at women's group meetings.

A few times she has taken herself out to hear bands. Men have asked her to dance, she says, but she hasn't "been brave enough to accept." Part of her wants to.

"Six months ago, I would have said, 'No. Never. I'm not gay.' Now it feels nice, natural, when a man buys me a drink," Susan says. "It's nice to have someone order dinner for you, choose the wine."

The only guy Susan has gone out to dinner with, she says, is a gay CNN producer filming a documentary about her. "He knows how to treat a lady," Susan says.

I generally go out of my way to avoid making personal attacks here.  But at the same time, those in the public eye must be accountable for the things they say and do.  Susan will never, ever be able to escape these words.  Her previous comments about the transgender community "celebrating its collective victimization" provided a glimpse of her dangerous thinking.  Now, it's all out there in the open for all to see.  She has exposed herself in ways that cannot be explained as naive, unknowing, or confused.  She's got a CNN camera crew following her around and if this is coming out now - in public - I can only imagine what she's saying.  If she thinks she's lonely now I shudder to think of her future. 

Susan has become the personification of the judgmental mentality that drove her from her job and continues to plague her future. She is the city council voting to fire her.  She is the person stepping up to say that Jesus would fire her if he were here.  She is the one wallowing in victimization while blaming it on others.  She is the stream of horrific comments about transgender people as freaks, perverts and worse.  The fact that she is transgender does not justify what she is saying or thinking.  If anything, it makes it worse.  I wish there were some way for me to find solace or defense in this - but I can't. 

When she says that "most Americans aren't ready for us yet" I question who us is.  She can't be referring to the transgender community, as her words are a distinct effort to distance herself from it.  The transgender community that I know and that I'm proud to be part of are some of the most courageous, authentic, giving, selfless, amazing people you could ever imagine meeting.  She apparently doesn't see it that way.

Susan - if you read this....shame on you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

7:00am: Happy New Year!  It's probably appropriate that my first entry of this new year is being written while sitting in an airport.  My flight leaves at 8:15am and I got here early just in case there was no parking or any number of other typical Holiday challenges.  Everything went smoothly so I've got time to kill before boarding.  There are some pretty ragged looking at the airport this morning - I can't help but notice that many people around me don't look like they've combed their hair yet and some are still in their PJ's.  I'm doing ok considering I got 4 hours of sleep - I'll get more on the plane.

I haven't flown much in the last couple of months so getting back in the swing of things will take a little extra effort.  I've got several engagements in all corners of the country during  January and February so it won't be long before we're back on that cycle again.

There have been a couple of articles of interest in recent days.  One appeared in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) and has been generating quite a bit of chatter in my in box.

Crossing Over
By NAOMI SCHAEFER RILEY, W all Street Journal, December 28, 2007; Page W13

Deconstructionist professors have been trying for years to convince us that gender is a social construct. Now, it seems, politicians and even employers are doing their best to put this theory into practice -- 2007 may go down in history as the year of the transgendered person.

Take the announcement in October that, under a state law that takes effect in January, schools in California not only can't discriminate by sex but also can't take into account "a person's gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth." Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has just issued a similar order in her state, barring discrimination against state workers based on their "gender identity or expression." And members of Congress have been trying for several months to add crimes against the transgendered to the list of categories punishable under federal hate-crimes law.

The idea is that a person, though born with a particular anatomy, may not feel that it is the right one. He or she may choose to dress differently, use hormonal therapy or, at the extreme, adopt a surgical solution. As one such individual recently wrote to the San Francisco Bay Times: "My medical condition was not a matter of nurture and/or a choice but was caused by a biological error in the womb." It is estimated by the National Center for Transgendered Equality that between 0.25% and 1% of Americans place themselves in this category.

The transgendered are now grouped with gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the abbreviation GLBT. This makes sense in certain ways, but not in others. For one thing, the transgendered part of the acronym makes a claim on public accommodation that the "GLB" part does not -- and thus poses a radically different challenge to social norms.

Read the entire article here...

There was an article about Susan Stanton in the St. Petersburg Times yesterday.  It's titled "Susan Stanton's Lonely Transformation" (read it here).  I'm sure many of us can empathize with how she's feeling.  The one quote that I think sums up the experience of many of us: "I was totally unprepared for the reaction and rejection of almost everyone who'd been close to me," Susan says. "People I'd known for 20 years won't even talk to me."   I don't know that anything can prepare you for that.  It sucks. 

Anyway, it's almost boarding time so I'll end for now.  Next stop - Austin.