Monday, June 30, 2008

Hate Wrapped in God

And They Say They Follow Christ

Last week's hearing in a Congressional subcommittee regarding employment discrimination coupled with the rebroadcast of Barbara Walter's 20/20 episode on trangender children have fired up the fear and hate mongers who hide behind the cloak of "religion".

I'm not going to detail all of what has been written by them, you can read an excellent recap and commentary about all this at the TransAdvocate Blog. What is interesting to note is that, especially in some of the diatribe leveled at the trans kids, at no point do they ever offer any Scriptural basis for this venomous condemnation whatsoever. And this is the central point of this blog, Chrysalis Mission and the Lessons you can easily follow. There is no specific Biblical prohibition regarding gender transformation, and indeed a much better case is made of support - though there is nothing specific stating that either.

Now, I have no qualms with anyone who honestly and fairly offers a reasoned, but differing point of view on any subject at any time. But when children are called "freakazoids" (by one blogger), when the expected child of Thomas Beatie is described as "going to probably have three eyes" (from a Fox channel commentator), I lose respect not so much for the authors of such spiteful stuff, but more for the people that absorb and believe this tripe in the name of religion.

Jesus was the most inclusive person in human history. His harshest words, in fact, were directed squarely at the religioso of his day - and even then it wasn't with such demeaning, debasing language. He didn't label the leper a "freakazoid". He didn't suggest the woman at Jacob's Well would bear children "with three eyes". He extended care and love to the lowest in society. And for that he was murdered by the religioso.

Those who do not support gender transitioning for adults or children cannot clearly and effectively state their Biblical basis for such opposition and do so within the parameters of decent, civilized discourse and debate. It is they who are not Christians, not me.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Real Hearing or Red Herring?

Historic Congressional Hearing Coming

You'll have to forgive me if I'm not all that excited about this. I do recognize the significance of the hearing and it is nice to be witness to history, especially transgender history. But I'm also of the mind of "big deal" and I'm not completely certain from where I'm having that feeling.

Is it a lingering, stuporous mistrust of the whole system following last fall's ENDA debacle? Probably some of that. Is it because I've seen too many Congressional hearings and had nothing ever come of them? Probably some of that, too. Is it because in my little "middle of nowhere" city - Kansas City - we passed without any rancor, division or dissent (note to Montgomery County) inclusion of Gender Identity into our local anti-discrimination ordinances and I've developed a case of "I've got mine, to heck with yours"? I hope not.

Here's a story from Bay Windows in Massachusetts (which is going through its own conniptions over gender inclusive laws):

Bay Windows, MA, USA

Congress to hold first-ever hearing on transgender discrimination

by Ethan Jacobs
staff reporter

Wednesday Jun 18, 2008

The House Committee on Education and Labor is tentatively scheduled
hold a hearing on employment discrimination against transgender
on June 26 -- the first congressional hearing to focus primarily on
transgender issues. The committee's subcommittee on Health,
Labor and Pensions (HELP) will hear testimony on the issue.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for
Transgender Equality (NCTE), said the historic hearing will give
Congress its first serious look at discrimination around gender
identity and expression. She credited subcommittee chairman Rep.
Robert Andrews (D-New Jersey) and Congressman Barney Frank
(D-Massachusetts) with pushing for the hearing.

"I think for years [Congress] thought about gender identity as sexual
orientation's little brother, and I think Congressman Andrews and
Congressman Frank are right in wanting to focus more on transgender
people," said Keisling.

The hearing marks Congress' first major look at LGBT employment
discrimination since last November, when the House passed a
version of
the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that did
not include
protections based on gender identity. The decision by
House leadership
to strip gender identity language from the bill
prompted a schism
within the LGBT advocacy movement, with
the Human Rights Campaign
(HRC) supporting the
sexual-orientation-only bill and nearly every
other national
LGBT rights organization, including NCTE, actively
opposing it.

Alison Herwitt, legislative director for HRC, said the hearing is
designed to help educate Congress in the hopes of passing a fully
inclusive ENDA bill next year.

"The hearing, while not on any piece of legislation, is part of the
education process to move us forward," said Herwitt.

She said the subcommittee has not yet sent out formal invitations for
the hearing, but she expects that Massachusetts' Diego Sanchez, a
member of HRC's Business Council and director of public relations and
external affairs for AIDS Action Committee, will be among those
testifying. She said other people on the panel to testify will likely
include people who can talk about anti-transgender job discrimination
firsthand, legal experts, and representatives from the business

Herwitt said a coalition of LGBT and civil rights organizations,
including HRC, NCTE, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,
the ACLU
and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, have been
strategy for the hearing and have been meeting and
talking regularly.
She said HRC's differences with those organizations
over ENDA have not
impeded that collaboration.

"I think we're all professionals and we're all working towards the
same goal, and we're working together to educate members of Congress
on why we need a fully inclusive bill, and this hearing is part of
that process," said Herwitt.

When asked to characterize the relationship between HRC and the other
LGBT groups in preparing for the hearing Keisling responded, "I don't
think I would characterize it. I don't think it's particularly
relevant to the hearing."

Copyright (c) 2007 Bay Windows Inc.

So to that "hangover" of mine. Yeah, I no longer trust the system. I was born and raised in Oregon and it will forever be my home and foundation. But now I live in Missouri and I've embraced the parochial attitude of "Show Me". If the hearing produces movement on legislation. If the hearing put us back into ENDA as originally introduced. If the hearing produces significant understanding of transgender issues - at least in employment - that results in the "education" that Barney Frank declared necessary and a certain major lobbying organization apparently failed to accomplish on its own. Then maaaaaaybe, I'll feel better about this.

As for Congressional hearings, some are genuine efforts to become more informed about certain issues - I truly hope that is the case here. But the sad truth is many are simply show pieces - either for a member of the subcommittee involved - usually the chair as they can dictate the agenda - or as a token offering to a constituency or power broker. What result came from all those hearings regarding the tobacco industry? Or the oil companies? Or baseball? Not much. There's an old aphorism about killing an idea by forming a study group that produces a Report, which then collects dust for eternity.

One thing not mentioned in the story, which make me wonder a bit, is that this hearing has been rescheduled four times (plus or minus one or two) in the last month or so. The uncertainty has made it next to impossible for people outside of the Beltway to attend. I realize that space is limited and things like that, but given a firm date - enough in advance - many of us might have been able to arrive in solidarity of the issue. Maybe even me!

Also not mentioned is that testimony will be limited to just four people. Donna Rose reports on her blog that the four will be Diego Sanchez now a member of HRC's Business Council (replacing Donna who resigned in protest), Diane Schroer who is suing the Library of Congress in a case that is now three years old, Sabrina Marquez who was fired from NASA and someone who was fired from Dow Chemical. Now, I have no doubt each will provide compelling, authoritative testimony. But why only four? Why isn't written testimony sought from the thousands of others? How can the gravity of the situation be ascertained without a least an attempt at determining the totality of the damage?

No, I'm not gonna play "I've got mine, to heck with yours". Though I am frustrated that what happened here, and the next week in Detroit (with only one dissenting vote) isn't trumpeted and triumphed more. How was it done so well, so easily in The Heartland when more liberal areas are embroiled in nasty fights?

They say the hearing may be shown on C-SPAN. I hope it is, perhaps the rest of the world will learn something. But I won't watch. I watched the Matthew Shepard Act pass the Senate, only to get fouled up in the House by jelly-kneed Democrats afraid to vote for the Act which was embedded in the Defense Authorization bill. They said they didn't want to vote for the war in order to vote for the Shepard Act. So they tossed it out. Then voted for the war anyway. I watched the horrible mess surrounding the ENDA vote - HRC's failure to keep the entire constituency intact, Rep. Tammy Baldwin's "amendment" that was then withdrawn, the continued revisionist history from Rep. Barney Frank. So I'll either close my eyes on June 26th or put on the helmet and take a long ride on my motorcycle.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Time Must Be Near!

Is it the End of The World As We Know It Yet??? marrying men, women marrying women, men in the women's shower, tranny predators in the girl's potty. It just has to be the End of the World for sure!

Well, if you keep reading all the apocalyptic rantings of the American Taliban (Focus on the Family, World Ne Daily, Americans for Truth - now there's a misnomer, et. al.), you'd think that Revelations and the Judgment Day was nigh upon us, certainly by Friday at the latest.

Why do these religious harpies continue to have any credibility whatsoever with their "faithful"? We've always had the ridiculous rantings of goofballs - religious or not, conservative or liberal - throughout our existence. The question isn't how or why they continue to bay at the moon, but why does anyone pay them any heed? Haven't we progressed in our intelligence, our discernment, our experiences through history?

They were wrong about the Biblical imperatives for slavery. They were wrong about the Biblical imperatives restricting the rights of women. They were wrong about the Biblical imperatives for proscribing interracial relationships. They have been so wrong, so very wrong, so many times. And yet there a so many who still listen and still absorb like vacuums sucking up air.

To all the couples marrying this week in California - Congratulations! To those who still can't marry the person they love, let us all pray that the time is turning. And hope it does so before Friday !

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Another Transgender Dis

Et Tu, Gene?

Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson is the
subject of a Time Magazine article along with Anglican Bishop Martyn Minns
"Gay Bishop vs. Straight Bishop" which
explains that both prelates will be specifically
excluded from the Lambeth Conference, a once
every ten year get together of all bishops of the
worldwide Anglican Communion. To the best of
everyone's knowledge, never has a bishop been
dis-invited from this gathering. Bishop Robinson
is bishop-non-grata because he is openly gay -
and in fact recently married his longtime partner
in a civil union. Bishop Minns, an arch-conservative
has helped foment rebellion among American
Anglican (Episcopal Church USA) congregations
into leaving ECUSA and joining a renegade diocese
under an African diocesan umbrella.

As I read the article, my heart sank - and sank
hard when I read:
"It is clear that Robinson, for one, wishes he had not
been excluded from
Lambeth. He will be present in
Canterbury as the meeting is held; and on
two evenings
his fellow American bishops will invite small groups
of their
colleagues to "meet me, hear a bit of my story,
and see that their brother
bishop Gene doesn't
have horns and wear a dress."

Gosh Gene (or should I call you "Vicky", after all
that is your legal first name)
what's with the slam on
I'll bet your boss, Presiding Bishop Katherine
Jefferts-Schori has worn a dress or two in her day.
And I've seen those vestments you sometimes wear
your official business - sure looks like a dress to me!

It is frustrating - no, it is infuriating when someone
who should know better
lets fly with anti-trans garbage
such as this. I expect this kind of trash
from James
Dobson or Fred Phelps or Peter Labarbera, et. al.
they, at least, are
honest enough to be upfront about
their deplorable prejudices. But to hear it from

someone who is venerated as a liberal religious
hero, a guiding light of inclusion, acceptance and

leadership....well, what else can I say Gene?

That's soooooooooo Gay!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Donna's Day

The Transgender Parent's Lament

Like many transgender women, I am a father. That's the common, but limiting, term applied to the parent who provided the "Y" chromosome. Certainly there is much, much more to being a Father or a Dad - but at its very core this is the principal basis for the distinction between the female parent and the male parent.

I have written earlier about my two incredible daughters. I remain so very thankful they remain in my life and I in theirs. But "Father's Day" looms and they won't be calling or sending a card. For them, as my oldest daughter declared in a television profile of my transition "Dad, as Dad, is gone". It does hurt in a way, but it is how they have reconciled their relationship to me, their parent.

Each household is different as to how the new relationships move forward. In her book, "She's Not There", Jennifer Finney Boylan says her children combined Mommy and Daddy into "Maddy" as her new sobriquet. Cute. Kids are usually the most creative. A local friend is now "Aunt Gayle". In another home in Southern California, it's "Mom" and "Mom" for the two sons who are now grown adults.

For my daughters, I'm just "Donna", though both acknowledge when talking about me to others they usually call me their "Dad". It must be frustrating for them at times - they have to "out" themselves for my being trans. That was as sentiment I learned from our local PFLAG leader, Jamie Lee, who often talked about the "outing" process for the parents of gays and lesbians. It reaches our children as well.

I remember my oldest daughter suggesting that they could split the calendar between Mother's Day and Father's Day and call it "Donna's Day". Maybe that's the solution - a day in between for transgender parents. Like I said, kids are usually the most creative. It's certainly something to consider to help all deal with the confusion and the conflict.

Ofttimes, though, there is joy from sadness. The first year I attended my church, I was offered a lovely flower by our young members for Mother's Day. I appreciated their loving gesture, even if I didn't feel like a Mother. Then came Father's Day and I felt lost - in between perhaps. But after that weekend, I wanted to connect with kids again. Kids had been such a major part of my life - my own daughters, my step-daughter's children (making me a "grandparent" at the age of 33!), all those softball players, my high school students. And so I am now a Sunday School Teacher - a duty we rotate among a few of us.

To all my transgender friends who are parents, I offer my best to you. To the children of a transgender parent, know you are loved.....always.