Transfolk are Now Banned from the Military

As of today, President Trump has signed an order banning transgender folks from the military.

What’s next for people like me? Banning us from bathrooms, restaurants, grocery stores, and hospitals? Where will it stop? And which group is next on the list?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~Martin Niemoller

Transgender, the Military, and Ignorant Donald Trump…

phucker2

I’m usually quiet on matters of transgender people, even though I am one. I like to work one-on-one, by being a decent human being and caring person. I also want to be seen as a multi-dimensional person.

But I cannot stay silent on President Trump’s latest declaration that transgender people are unfit to serve. This from a draft dodger who took five deferments to avoid Vietnam.  His final draft status: 4-F (Unfit to Serve).  My final draft status for Vietnam: 1-A (Active / Fit to Serve). The irony is delicious.

  1. Donald Trump is wrong about transgender in the military. Just like in the 40’s when arguments against blacks being integrated hurt unit cohesion. Just like in the 80’s and 90’s when arguments about women in combat zones would hurt unit cohesion. Just like in the 90’s and 00’s when arguments against gays would hurt unit cohesion. These are the arguments of fear mongers, racists, misogynists, homophobes, and idiots. There is no data to support their claims. It is old identity politics. It’s stupid, asinine, and fear based on ignorance. America should be better than this.Gays, women, people of color, transgender folk have always served in the US military. They just couldn’t be open about it. But they’ve always been there, for as long as there has been a United States of America.

2. Medical costs on transgender are not “tremendous”, despite Donald Trump’s claims. Medical treatment for trans folk is not cheap, but, it is, in fact, cheaper than going to the ER for multiple complex fractures and injuries from a car accident; far cheaper than treating cancer; and slightly more expensive than gallbladder removal or a hysterectomy.   The one-time costs on surgery range anywhere from $17,000 to $85,000 depending on the surgeon and the location. Hormones are relatively inexpensive, depending upon the method: pill, patch, or injection. Electrolysis / laser hair removal is $100-$200 per hour and usually comes out of trans person’s own pocket.

Other surgeries, such as plastic surgery, are also deemed by insurance companies as optional, so that comes out of our own pockets as well. Ongoing medical costs are typical, as you would normally expect, for any average American woman or man in the long term.

3. As Barry Goldwater once said, “”you don’t need to be ‘straight’ to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.

4. If anyone is unfit to serve, it is you, Donald Trump. And you prove it every time you open your mouth.

5. You attacked me, my patriotism, my loyalty, and my humanity. Surely you don’t expect me to roll over and play dead now?

6. I’m now in the “great game”. You’ve pissed me off. And millions of decent Americans are not going to put up with this chit.

I will fight because I’ve had to for the past 20 years to exist. I don’t want to fight. But I will. I, and people like me, have a right to live in peace and not be harassed by ignorant phucks like you, Donald Trump.

Go to hell.

 

Bathroom Bills and Your Right to Wee, According to Your Gender Identity(ee)

Bathroom bills are on the march across the United States.  Most of the states pursuing these “bathroom bills” are based in the South or Midwest of the country.  However, they may not be exclusive to these areas.  Either way, it is very disconcerting.

The gist of the “bathroom bills” is a ploy to allow discrimination against LGBTIQ based upon an exercise of “religious freedom”, “privacy issues”, and imaginary “safety issues”.  Most are sponsored by organizations that are virulently intolerant of anyone who is perceived as “not straight.”  Religion might be in their name, but it is historical patriarchal mechanisms which they are really supporting.  Thus, it is a structure that cannot tolerate any threat to loss of power or influence at it’s core.  This structure must constantly renew itself through immersion of people (aka students) into its values.  One way to do that is to engender fear and suspicion in the community (aka school) of anyone who is different.

This brings us to the issue of lawsuits and bathroom use for transfolk who are school-aged students, especially for middle and high school.  It brings up issues of support, rights, and safety, not only for the trans student, but for all students of every stripe, color, creed, race, gender, and orientation by restricting a student due to a trait or feature about said student(s).  Hence, it can be the beginning of a long and winding road of discrimination of class(es) of people.

One particular lawsuit in Virginia is winding its way to a possible Supreme Court showdown.  It is one in which there is a strong likelihood that the suit will be returned to the states due to the new Trump administration and their penchant for “traditional values”.

I don’t want to be a wet-noodle or a Debby Downer, but the efforts to secure a right to use the bathroom matching one’s gender identity is about to go on pause for a while in some states, and that would likely include Virginia.

I’m an old transwoman of over 20 years. I also counsel as an MFT those who are closeted or keeping secrets, or in an inquiry into their identity. These are not easy things to address.

Suing in federal court to identify a “right” to not be discriminated due to gender identity has moved forward by linking such suits to Title IX clauses prohibiting sex discrimination.  This linkage is thanks to the Obama administration creating rules with executive orders which altered the interpretation of sex to include gender identity.  A very logical and appropriate development, in my view.   But, forgive the pun, this area of law is still quite fluid. 

However, with this new Trump administration I believe it is extremely likely that these rules will be removed. In that case, pursuing nondiscrimination based upon gender identity does not necessarily have federal backing. And that means these battles against discrimination will return to the state level.

A law professor of mine once said, regarding suing for discrimination, that if you file suit, you better win. Because if you don’t win, you’ll not only be hurting yourself, but the entire class of people just like you.

Tread carefully. Work with the school districts to avoid going to court unless it is absolutely necessary. Consider accepting a compromise that does not demean, shame, or invoke suffering, especially if the motive of the school district is really about doing their best to protect and respect the trans student, as well as deal with other parents who act out of fears, not facts. Most of all stay safe.

Or as my father used to tell me, “It might be YOUR right. But don’t be DEAD right.” Good advice.

20 years ago when I came out, facing myself, and facing others, I made compromises in order to survive. There were no laws protecting Transfolk from any kind of discrimination.  In order to allay others’ fears. In order to keep my job. In order to have a place to live.  And in time people came around and wondered what all the fuss was about. I don’t want any of us to go back in time. But I don’t want anyone hurt, injured or killed either.

Lastly, do not take this as surrender or appeasement.  One must pick their battles while also maintaining their ability to function in the greater society.  It is sometimes a long and slow trudging process.  Moving forward is often done in small steps, through being real and allowing people to know you, and you getting your message out there in how you live your life, and how you speak about your life.

Kansas Senate Comes To It’s Senses And Nixes Extreme Anti-Gay (Jim Crow) Legislation [politicususa.net]

kansassealBy: Justin Baragona / politicususa.net
The Kansas Senate decided on Friday that they would kill the legislation that was passed earlier this week by the state’s House of Representatives. The bill, known as House Bill 2453,would have opened the door to widespread segregation and discrimination of those in the LGBT community. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives, which is overwhelmingly Republican, passed the bill with ease by a vote of 72-49. It was assumed that with a large majority in the state’s Senate and the extremely conservative Sam Brownback as Governor, the legislation was going to fly through and become law.

Well, something happened along the way. Perhaps it was the fact that the law made national headlines and had a lot of blowback. Or maybe it was due to what Andrew Sullivan wrote on Friday regarding what the law would do for the LGBT community. In his column, Sullivan accurately noted that passing a law that so blatantly discriminates gays and treats them like second-class citizens would inevitably be the death knell for the religious right in its attempt to prevent the advancement of gay rights.

Basically, by going forward with this, the gay community could rightly point to this law and compare it to the Jim Crow laws of the South. It also would have an avalanche effect on the GOP, as young voters would be turned off by them for good due to their penchant for bigotry. Sullivan nailed it with the following paragraph:

If the Republican Party wanted to demonstrate that it wants no votes from anyone under 40, it couldn’t have found a better way to do it. Some critics have reacted to this law with the view that it is an outrageous new version of Jim Crow and a terrifying portent of the future for gays in some red states. It is both of those. It’s the kind of law that Vladimir Putin would enthusiastically support. But it is also, to my mind, a fatal mis-step for the movement to keep gay citizens in a marginalized, stigmatized place.

Transgender woman wins landmark employment discrimination suit [salon.com]

In a historic first, the federal government has ruled in favor of a transgender woman in a work harassment case

BY 

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled in favor of a transgender woman who was verbally and physically harassed at her job with a federal contractor in Maryland. The court ruled that the woman’s supervisors created a hostile work environment by failing to intervene after being informed of the harassment, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The ruling is a historic first, advocates say.

“We applaud the EEOC for conducting such a thorough investigation and interviewing so many witnesses to the anti-transgender harassment,” Tico Almeida, president of the LGBT organization Freedom to Work, told the Advocate. “Coming just a few months after the EEOC issued its historic decision that transgender people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC’s reasonable cause determination in this case is, to our knowledge, the first time in history that the EEOC has investigated allegations of anti-transgender harassment and ruled for the transgender employee. This case shows that the EEOC takes very seriously its role in protecting LGBT Americans’ freedom to work.”

The details of the first case have been kept confidential as part of the settlement.

Another case, adjudicated around the same time, is also a major victory for transgender rights.

That case, known as Macy v. Holder, was initiated after the plaintiff, Mia Macy, was denied a job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives after she came out as transgender.

More from the Washington Blade:

After applying for the job, Macy was told in January 2011 that she would receive a position at the laboratory. But after she disclosed in March 2011 she would transition from male to female, the contractor informed Macy the position was cut. Later, she was told someone else was awarded the job.

The 51-page decision — which was signed by Complaint Adjudication Officer Mark Gross and Complaint Adjudication Office Attorney Carl Taylor — lays out several terms for relief in the Macy case.

First, the Justice Department says ATF within 60 days of the decision must offer Macy that job she was seeking at the Walnut Creek factory and award her back pay and benefits — with interest — for the period between April 2011 to January 2012.

Additionally, the Justice Department says ATF must take corrective action to ensure future discrimination never occurs again; award Macy compensatory damages for any injuries she may have received; refund Macy her attorney’s fees; and post a notice within 30 days consistent with employment law.



“I never thought in my life that it would be over, but to have it not only be over but to have them say, ‘Yes, unfortunately, your civil rights were violated. They did do this.’ To have that vindication, it’s surreal,” Macy told BuzzFeed in a comment on the victory.

Greg Nevins, supervising senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, says these cases demonstrate the importance of federal protections for LGBT workers, as he told the Blade: “We need action by the 113th Congress to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and even more immediately, President Obama should sign the executive order banning LGBT discrimination by companies that profit from federal contracts,” Nevins said. “That executive order should have broad support across the political spectrum, since federal dollars should neither fund discrimination nor go to employers whose personnel and productivity suffer because discrimination and harassment are tolerated.”

http://www.salon.com/2013/07/16/transgender_woman_wins_landmark_employment_discrimination_suit/

Iowa Still Believes Women Can Be Fired For Being Too Attractive [gawker.com]

by Max Rivlan Nader / gawker.com

A few months ago, the Iowa Supreme Court made the surprising decision that women can be fired from their jobs for being too attractive, regardless if they’ve engaged in activity that compromises their job performance.

Melissa Nelson, a thirty-three year old dental assistant from Fort Dodge, was fired after the dentist she worked for, Dr. James Knight, believed that she was too tempting to be kept around the office, lest he decide to sleep with her. Because Nelson would be totally into it, obviously.

After filing an appeal of the Supreme Court’s decision, Nelson was once again rebuffed by the all-male bench, which found “that bosses can fire employees that they and their spouses see as threats to their marriages.”

The court found that Nelson was legally fired “because of the activities of her consensual personal relationship.” These activities included text messages between her and her employer that were not found to be flirtatious or leading in any way.

So, beautiful employees of Iowa beware! You can totally be fired for just looking like your aesthetically pleasing selves.

http://gawker.com/iowa-still-believes-women-can-be-fired-for-being-too-at-769786533

Sundance 2013: Anita Hill takes her story to film in new documentary [denverpost.com]

by Ben Fulton, The Salt Lake Tribune

Resplendent in gold jewelry and black-brown ensemble, Anita Hill is having far more fun during this year’s Sundance Film Festival than she did 22 years ago in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I can never go back to the person I was at that moment,” Hill said during a brief interview inside a lounge on Park City’s Main Street. “We grow. We develop. We move on. Hopefully, we evolve into that person we want to be.”

Today a professor of law, social policy and women’s studies at Brandeis University, Hill speaks tirelessly on behalf of women’s equality.

At the same time, she knows her name will forever be tied to those October days in 1991. That’s when as a young, soft-spoken law professor she stunned the nation with graphic testimony against then-Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas, bringing the issue of sexual harassment out of the workplace and into the public arena.

Hill turned down past offers to have her story told on film. In Freida Mock, Academy Award-wining director of “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision,” Hill said she at last found a filmmaking voice she knew she could trust. “You feel really flattered when someone as accomplished as she is approaches you,” Hill said.

“Anita,” which Mock said she appropriately began shooting three years ago on Martin Luther King Day, reminds audiences that, behind every brave face going public, the personal story informing their decision is never far behind.

The film, which received its world premiere Saturday at Park City’s Marc theater, walks back into time to tell the story of Hill’s rural Oklahoma upbringing. The youngest of 13 children, her parents raised her under the saying familiar to many black children, “You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as much.” The Yale Law School student who graduated with honors in 1980, and was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar that same year, did not disappoint.

“When people ask how I got my courage I say, ‘You can start there [with my family], particularly with my mother,’ ” Hill said.

Click to read the rest of the story…

Click here to view video interview…