Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Nothing like having a lightbulb moment and totally misinterpreting what you just learned. I just finished reading the latest blurb from OneNewsNow regarding the tragic suicides this Fall. Of course, they need to scapegoat this (no way THEY could be to blame, not even just a little) and they’ve come up with a cutesy rationale.

Kids are NOT killing themselves, ONN says, because of their sexual orientation. This is no reaction to a homophobia the liberal elitist intelligentsia has created to blame religious fundamentalists (notice the reverse victim ploy). No…rather…kids get bullied and kill themselves because of their gender expression. That’s why they get bullied, not because they’re gay.


You’re just now figuring out what most gay, lesbian and straight people still don’t get? It’s always been about gender identity. Why do you think trans persons are even remotely included in the LGBT tent? Because our gender identity and expression tie us to lesbian and gay issues by reason of conflation of gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.

Historically, kids, young adults and adults who are ridiculed and bullied because of gender stereotypes generally suffer at the hands of hate mongers exactly because their presentation is non conforming. And this is the case regardless of any trans/gay dichotomies.

So called sissy boys suffer far more than their counterpart tomboys, but both can have traumatic childhoods. And it starts when kids are VERY young and have given no cognitive attention to what their sexual orientation might be. They’re kids, for crying out loud! Even young teenagers are often bullied before they have any sense of whom they might be sexually attracted to.

Still, non-normative gender presentation will get a kid every time. And kids can be brutal. But, bullying and brutality is only to be expected, or so we are told.

Here are the last two paragraphs of the news item from ONN: (The quote is from Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber)

"I think the cause is clearly we need to look to these kids who are
sexually confused and are really disturbed and tormented internally --
it's not an external source," he notes. "So often times,
unfortunately, with no other perceived means at hand, some of these
kids are at risk to hurt themselves."

He believes God's natural order is written on the hearts of every man
and woman, which means people know when they are violating natural
order. The Liberty Counsel attorney decides that young people
struggling with homosexuality are in need of counseling for their
gender identity disorder."


It’s THEIR fault, not the bullies’ faults. They asked for it and they knew in their very hearts that this would be the outcome of their violating the natural order.

Un frickin believable!!!!

And it’s worth noticing how ONN and Matt Barber got here conceptually. They believe they have unraveled a knot. They’ve seen past a penchant for conflating two related but essentially different modalities, namely gender identity and expression vis a vis sexual orientation; they’ve seen the light, removed homophobia as a cause for bullying, and replaced it with a “blame the individual” paradigm because that person has transgressed gender stereotypes and the natural order.

How can you blame rational people…whether they’re kids or adults, for reacting negatively to gender transgression? It’s creepy and icky and gross.

It wasn’t us…it was’t our fault…it’s THEM.

Star Wars revisited…These (we) aren’t the droids you’re looking for!

How clever!! What they don’t know, however, is that once again, the emperor (or droid) is wearing no clothes!!

(Sorry about the mixed metaphor…I couldn’t resist)

And we know the bullies for who they are!

Friday, October 22, 2010


Okay…in the interest of full disclosure…and on the heels of yesterday’s blog…I will admit that this is not my first encounter with Dr. Michael Brown. In fact, my previous encounter(s) with him and his group were heatedly adversarial. It’s hard to have rational discourse with persons who have built walls of dogma to surround themselves.

I had been participating in Charlotte, NC Pride events for several years. It was always held in Marshall Park, a fairly wide expanse which could accommodate lots of people and was grassy and family and pet friendly. As representatives for NC TG Unity, we were the only trans presence other than drag queens. We were the only ones disseminating literature that might help and educate. And, invariably, we were always set up nearest to where evangelical protestors chose to demonstrate. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.

2005 was the year that Michael Brown’s group along with Operation Save America came with over a hundred protestors all clad in red. Their message? We were an abomination to all civilized peoples. Our presence was evidence of mankind’s sin and it’s need to repent. They said they loved us, but they hated who we were. Yeah…the same old and tired rhetoric.

For a while, you say to yourself…okay…they’re bigots…they’re nuts…they’re zealots. But, and this is the frustrating part, you eventually can no longer sit there and take the verbal abuse. You MUST respond, or so it feels at the time. And I wish I HAD kept my mouth closed, because it was like talking to a wall. The protestors had a stock reply for every inconsistency or epithet they hurled. We might have just as well engaged robots in discourse, for all the colloquy which ensued. Faith is one thing, but unquestionable dogma does nothing but obscure the truth….and reality.

After that, Charlotte Pride was renamed and PRIDE Charlotte moved to a smaller and more confined location which was effectively harder to protest. But Dr. Brown’s minions always had some kind of representation.

My next encounter with Dr. Brown and his supporters was at the HRC dinner in Charlotte in late winter 2007 where they occupied the street between the hotel and the event. They used the same tactics…bait and attack. This time I was smart enough to ignore their shenanigans, but not everyone one could resist. A few in our group (the first full trans table at a Charlotte HRC dinner) could not walk by without being drawn into their circular and unarguable argument.

In the summer of 2009, Dr. Brown hoped to gather a thousand people for the “God Has A Better Way” pray-a-thon in which they would “pray out the gay”. This has been well documented by Matt Comer, current editor of Q Notes and, at the time of the pray-a-thon, publisher of A link to his column and the extended discourse between Matt and Dr. Brown, by way of comment, follows.

I won’t go back into a review of Dr. Brown’s philosophy, as stated in his writings and public appearances. Matt’s column really addresses much of it. What had me peeved for many years was his sanctimonious and arrogant belief that he not only knows better, and that he has some paternalistic mission to spread what he knows, but that his world view cannot be disputed because it’s founded upon dogma which is irrefutable. Sheeesssh!!

The hubris and condescension are intolerable.

And then he had the gall to appropriate one of Robert Hunter’s and the Grateful Dead’s most quoted lyrics. He’s not only a charlatan and a windbag but a plagiarizing thief! Maybe someone needs to explain to Mr. Brown that “What a Long Strage Trip Its Been” is a reference to dosing, that is, taking LSD. And it just occurred to me that maybe Dr. Brown is really having a flashback to the days when he used to take acid because it seems like a really bad trip he’s on today. Or maybe he really needs to dose again and reacquaint himself with reality.

Matt Comer’s column

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Reading through the daily stack of trans related news items posted by the awesome archivists over at TG News, I stumbled upon an article from The Christian Post about the National Conference on Christian Apologetics held in Charlotte, NC last weekend. The column featured one of the conference’s speakers, Dr. Michael Brown. As I started reading, it seemed like just another in a series of fear campaign columns we’re accustomed to from neo fundamentalist Christian activists. By the time I was near to finishing I was wondering how the hell this so called doctor had co-opted and appropriated my life?

Dr. Brown has written some 20 books and is popular on the neo fundy fear campaign circuit. He is something akin to a “Jew for Jesus”…(Hey…I’m Jewish!)…and his message is that it’s time they (the Christian right) start waking up to the trans/homosexual agenda. Would you believe it? This didn’t occur to him until about six years prior, but it’s on his “radar” now. School systems are trying to find ways to discontinue discrimination against these non-conformists who, by the way, do not constitute a “protected class of individuals”. Society is ready to embrace these deviants who attempt to blur the sexes and this bothers Brown..

He feels that most Christians and Christian theologians have stuck their necks in the sand and are either willing to be assimilated or are just waiting for the Rapture when they’ll be out of here. Honest…the column actually contains this sentence: “Yet the prevailing thought in churches is that "this stuff is happening elsewhere" or that Jesus is coming back soon and "we're out of here any minute," Brown, a Jewish believer in Jesus, lamented.” This concept is mindboggling…let whatever’s gonna happen here happen…we’ll be long gone and it won’t affect us or matter. And screw those perverts and sinners who are left holding the bag!

At the root, as usual, is the straw man argument regarding trans persons and bathrooms (Hey…I’m trans!!). Referencing San Francisco Schools protocol, the article cites this provision “The policy for locker room accessibility states, "Transgender students shall not be forced to use the locker room corresponding to their gender assigned at birth. In other words, if Joey's convinced he's Jane, then he can use the girls' locker room and restroom, Brown summarized.”
I have become accustomed to this simplistic and reductionist argument, but never inured to it. As usual, it’s baseless and ignorant. As usual, it’s predicated on provoking fear. And, as usual, logic is never sufficient towards dispelling these arguments.

Now we get to the aw gee sensitive moment at the Christian Apologetics Conference. Lillian Kwon, the column’s author, complains “Many schools are also using the Riddle Homophobia Scale, where repulsion, pity, tolerance, and acceptance are measured as homophobic. Meanwhile, "positive levels of attitudes" that are encouraged toward GLBT persons include support, admiration, appreciation, and nurturance.” How sensitive of you Lillian!! She adds, “And while some may be extra sensitive in these times because of the recent bullying of GLBT students and teen suicides spotlighted in the media, Brown pointed out that there are some 4,000 to 5,000 suicides a year among teens and little is said about the other kids.” We can infer from this that Dr. Brown is less than sympathetic towards kids whose lives have become unbearable due to bullying. I suppose he resonates more with the repulsion, pity, tolerance,acceptance paradigm. I’d actually welcome the tolerance and acceptance were it genuine. We know it isn’t.

Dr. Brown has a new book about to published, aimed at raising attention to this problem amongst those who have been eating sand. The book is to be called “A Queer Thing Happened to America: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been.”. (Wow…What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been…Truckin’…the Grateful Dead…I’m a Deadhead!!!).

It was here that I lost it. Okay…I suppose there may be several crazy Jewish people out there…and it’s true,, we, as trans persons, and as trans activists, have seen the specters of transphobia and the bathroom issue before. But…now you’ve gone too far…appropriating the Grateful Dead’s WALSTB?? The phrase is the stuff of legends and to have this so called doctor co-opt such a major icon of Deadography goes way beyond the pale.

In his own words, Dr. Brown states HIS agenda like this “"We must take a stand for righteousness in our society. We're called to ... expose darkness and to be a moral conscience and moral preservative. If we're not shining the light, if we're not making a difference ... how's the world going to have a moral conscience and know the difference between right and wrong." How wonderful you’ve accepted the mission to be the world’s moral compass! How fortunate we are!

Well, Dr. Brown, do what you think you must, no matter how pathological your mission is. The world IS changing and history will prove your form of bigotry to be unsustainable. And…if you ever actually listened to the Grateful Dead, perhaps your perspective wouldn’t be so DEAD wrong!! But…and I repeat this…keep your hands off my music and the Grateful Dead!!. Cuz…now I’m REALLY pissed!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


T Notes

from 10.16.10 Q Notes

By a very rough estimate, since January one of this year, I’ve counted nineteen instances of hate crimes perpetrated against trans individuals resulting in death, worldwide. These are the lives we recall and commemorate each year on November 20, the annual Trans Day of Remembrance. These are the lives that have been tragically snuffed out prematurely because of hate and fear and ignorance.

I’m confident that it’s never our intent to underestimate the effect that trans violence in general has upon its victims, but I rarely see references to nonfatal instances in the press much after a week from their occurrence has passed. Of course, losing one’s life is the ultimate consequence in hate related crime, but violence directed at trans persons is not only pervasive but goes mostly unreported. And, in most instances, attacks do not result in fatality. It could easily happen to someone you know…it could happen to you.

Maybe I’m a little sensitive after having had someone run through the parking lot at a Furthur concert screaming “that’s not a real woman…that’s a man”, but I suspect that recently enacted hate crime legislation will fall short in curtailing hate motivated violence. What is most needed is a paradigmatic shift in how we, as a society, frame and comprehend diversity and that doesn't appear to be imminent. Until the day when transphobia has been all but exterminated, we must maintain vigilance. If we go through life unaware of potential dangers, we are more easily made prey. This isn’t to say that we need to give into the kind of fear these transphobes thrive on…just the opposite. Our refusal to give into their campaign of fear gives us power.

Our best chance at reducing and eventually, maybe, eliminating this needless and pathological bigotry is to expose these persons and their behaviors for what they really are. They need to be held up to the light of day, exposed as bigots with personal issues they have foisted upon the rest of the world. And we need to be sure that everyone is watching.

Cited instances of trans violence have been reported all over the world, but most I’ve recorded happened in the United States. Of the twenty instances I found covered by news agencies worldwide, fifteen occurred in the U.S. This disproportion is most likely due to the fact that more transphobic crime goes unreported outside of this country, then within. It’s more likely than not that at least three quarters of this kind of domestic hate crime doesn’t see the light of day… there’s no telling how much isn’t reported worldwide. Needless to say, it should give us pause.

Okay…let’s look at several of these domestic instances which have transpired over the past ten months. All paint pictures colored buy ignorance, hate and fear. All were senseless and brutal. None are comprehensible. And press coverage has been scant.

In January of this year, an Athens, GA trans teen was assaulted by a would-be rapist who kicked her repeatedly upon discovering, after pulling her pants down, that she was anatomically not what he had thought. And, in April, Colle Carpenter was attacked on the Cal State Long Beach campus, dragged into a bathroom where the assailant carved “it” on her chest with a knife. The perpetrator has not been found.
Washington DC made the news three times. This past March, a transwoman was shot in the leg by an unknown assailant. In June, two transwomen were attacked with a pole. A suspect was arrested and charged with Assault with a Dangerous Weapon/Pole (Bias Related). In August, another transwoman was attacked in Dupont Circle, NW. Even though I have found only three citations describing DC incidents, the report from this last attack states that there had been seven instances of violence against transpersons in NW DC alone to date this year.

Another attack in June occurred in Seattle, WA where a trans woman was kicked in the neck and punched in the face by a violent transphobe. This same man had been arrested and convicted previously for hate related crime. Add to these incidents reported in Baltimore, MD, Gainesville, FL, Alexandria, LA, San Antonio, TX…as well as in San Francisco, CA , Wilmington, NC and elsewhere. Add to that total the incalculable number of attacks that went unreported by the victims and/or unreported by the police and press. We have no way of knowing just how high that number really is!

Then there’s bullying…non violent but effective for inflicting harm upon its victims. In the wake of recent and tragic suicides, it must be apparent that violence…physical and/or psychological…directed towards people who are different…trans persons, for example…may very well be the trigger that pushes some individuals to take their lives.

As much as the tragedy of fatal attacks demands our attention on the Day of Remembrance, perhaps this year we can take a moment to commemorate and remember lives which may have not been taken, but which have ended, or which have been all but destroyed, by hate mongers. These bigots who have chosen to ruin others’ lives are out there and must be stopped. If it hasn’t been obvious before to the nation at large, it certainly is becoming so now….or should be!

Don’t let these haters hide in the shadows…expose them for who they are…express your outrage…and not just on the Day of Remembrance, but that’s a start!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I just couldn’t let this one go by the wayside…On Top Magazine


just ran a story on American Family Association (AFA) and its spin on the tragic suicides during September. Here’s a link to Bryan Fischer’s Blog (He’s director of issue analysis at AFA):


Here’s what he said:

“I'm afraid GLSEN and groups like them may share more of the blame for these suicides than anyone. Homosexuals cannot reproduce so they must recruit. Part of the agenda of groups like GLSEN is to urge students at younger and younger ages to come out and declare a disordered sexual preference. Sexually confused youth are pressured into locking into a sexual identity far before they are mature enough to do so.”

“Cannot reproduce so they must recruit”?

OMG…I must really be living in bizarro world…remember from superman? Everything is the same…kinda…but…cracked?? You can’t make this stuff up…I mean…well…I couldn’t!

This really demands a reading of his blog. It is THIS community’s fault that kids succumb to pressures exerted by people like Fischer and groups like AFA.

His solution? You had better sit down… “If we want to see fewer students commit suicide, we want fewer homosexual students.”

OMG…I know this is silly season, politically speaking, but how can rational and clear-headed individuals not see though these absurdities? Oh yeah…what rational and clear headed individuals??

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


If you think the radical right is all talk, take a gander at the latest instance of “bathroom issue” politics. This story has already appeared on television on several Bowling Green, OH stations.

In August, Bowling Green City Council passed ordinances 7905 and 7906 which added protections against discrimination in housing and employment to lesbian, gay and transgender individuals. No sooner had they been enacted when the local gender bigots…in this case, “Bowling Green Citizens Voting No to Special Rights Discrimination”, pushed a ballot initiative to toss ordinances 7905 and 7906 out. None of the articles states specifically how many signatures were required, but evidently these fear mongers were able to gather enough to force the ballot measure. The signatures were obtained by use of referendum and petition.

Crystal (Krystal?) Thompson, a spokesperson for BGCVNSRD used the familiar canards as defense. "We can't protect women and children in public restrooms, and showers, because the way the ordinance is written is that it will be legal if a man feels he is a woman, he can go into a restroom, he can go into a shower." She embellished this stance by adding “"It is a health risk. It is a public health risk."

Okay…here we go again. How many times have we replayed the bathroom issue??…Let me see…there was Gainesville, FL and Montgomery County, MD which made big headlines several years back. If you recall, both jurisdictions ended up keeping the locally passed ordinances after lengthy court battles. Then there was Massachusetts...trans protections failed here after the bill came to be called “the bathroom bill” and ended up dying after being tabled.

I have collected news stories from twenty nine states and DC in which there have been bathroom issue campaigns and battles. Most recently, the Maine Human Rights commission validated an Orono, ME School District decision allowing a transitioning former sixth grader to use the appropriate bathroom. Unfortunately, or fortunately…whichever way you spin it...success in passing and keeping gender protections is probably less than 50% nationwide. This is merely a guess, but anything short of one hundred percent tolerance is unacceptable by my count.

What concerns me is the facility with which gender bigots manage to collect enough votes to force these ballot measures. In Montgomery County, MD, the courts held that there had been inconsisitencies and violations regarding the manner in which signatures had been collected and the validity of certain signatures. I have to believe that there is a distinct likelihood that these aberrant methods of signature collection are the rule, not the exception.

Regardless, there is no denying that gender bigots, neo fundamentalists and others of their ilk are not only outspoken and vitriolic, but well organized. This should not be taken lightly. Unless we are able to counter their arguments and vitriol, we stand to face the fact that these challenges will probably escalate.

A year or so ago, Dr. Jillian Weiss did a study aimed at authenticating the non existence of trans predation in public restrooms. There is no…zero, nada, naught, nil…evidence that there is ANY substantiating evidence to validate the gender bigots claim that use of appropriate bathrooms by trans persons increases the risk to public health and safety. How it is that the same canards continue to reappear eludes me, given the baseless nature of their claims. And it is in this context that we, ourselves, must debunk the campaigns predicated on fear and lies and dogma.

Friday, October 01, 2010


T Notes

from 9/18/10 Q Notes


Okay…you might ask…what’s up with robbi? She refers to herself as transsexual, but she hasn’t had any surgeries yet? I guess she just isn’t that serious…or maybe she’s not bona fide transsexual. If she were really TS, wouldn’t she rather be dead (hyperbole) than live without surgical alignment? Is she pre-op or non op? Is she TG or TS?

This “labels” argument has been bandied about in the trans world ad nauseum. I, for one, am really tired of this exercise in mental masturbation. Our obsession with nomenclature has become so overwhelming that it may actually interfere with BEING trans. Following on last month’s column about biology and missing the forest for the trees, maybe we need to simplify our penchant for labels and classification.

Regarding surgery, there are no easy and formulaic strategies which factor into decision making. Just like anything else…even though we may share some similar histories and experiences and even though we seem to fight similar battles and confront similar adversaries…each of us walks a singular path . Sometimes it’s better to just be and not invest so much time and energy into cerebral mindgames.

And is it really anyone’s business what we choose to do with our bodies anyway? What I divulge, and to whom, is solely up to me.

But…back back to the point. When I try and answer the question, “why haven’t I had my surgeries”, the answer, for me, is extremely simple. Insufficient funds. And, for the most part, that covers MY rationale. There are others who desire surgery yet can’t afford it, like me, but…that might not be the case for everyone. There are other situations where reasoning differs.

Because gender diversity manifests in many ways, not all individuals may desire surgical procedure(s). And not all people can even have surgeries.

So what might someone consider before making any kind of decision? Well, the gatekeepers ostensibly want us to be sure about our choice…at least that’s what they say, and I can’t deny that serious thought is required before ANY surgical procedure. How sure we need to be will vary from individual to individual but I think it’s safe to say that the percentage of those who have surgery and are happy far exceeds the percentage who may have experienced post purchase anxiety. Probably by a factor of twenty to one, I’d surmise. Or more like a hundred to one. So either we, as trans individuals, have a pretty good understanding of ourselves or the clinicians are REALLY good at their jobs. I’ll leave you to determine which is closest to reality.

Surgical decisions differ, obviously, between trans men and trans women. For the former, options include breast reduction, hysterectomy, and phalloplasty. For the latter, considerations are generally vaginoplasty, breast augmentation, and facial feminization surgery (FFS). Surgical options are not limited to these procedures, but these are most common.

For trans men, many might choose to have a breast reduction and/or hysterectomy, but might decline a phalloplasty. For trans women, a person might not want vaginoplasty, but might opt for breast augmentation and/or FFS. The choices and options are, again, not formulaic but up to each person to decide.

And the same is the case for persons who opt to have no surgeries.

Not everyone is transsexual and there are trans persons whose gender identity is unique to themselves. Whatever it is that they see within and manifest without may make surgery moot. Some trans persons who identify as crossdressers may self define as bi-gendered. Whatever it is that helps people to make these choices, it cannot be reduced to any kind of systematic super structural theory which clinicians and therapists like to superimpose upon reality.

And that’s essentially the problem I have with many clinicians…they don’t see the necessity for treating each person as a unique case with unique circumstances. It’s easier for them to try and fit choices and persons into ready-made scenarios. That would be akin to selling clothing in only mediums. No tailoring necessary…one size fits all. Logic and intuition tell us this is neither a reasonable nor effective approach.

Of course, medical complications can make surgical considerations impossible. Any person who has had liver problems will not even have been able to take on a regimen of hormone therapy. And some cases of high blood pressure, as well as heart disease and any number of other medical conditions, may preclude an individual’s options. Sometimes dreams need be compromised for the sake of survival. These can be hard decisions to accept, but they can, unfortunately be, a stark reality.

As much as some of us find surgery to be a vital part of the process, it also must be said that the mental and emotional part of gender and/or sex alignment is undeniably a critical part of the process. Nothing changes until our minds and hearts are ready. Be that as it may, my mind and heart are ready. I find myself dwelling on surgery numerous times throughout any average day, daydreaming various scenarios. I envision myself before surgery and after surgery. My mind’s eye can see the post-op me. Many of my post-operative friends have said that as much as they pondered their surgery(ies) before…they rarely give it a second thought afterwards.

I’m not really sure what that implies, as much as I am uncertain regarding the relative differences between “wanting” surgery and “needing” surgery. I would have to say that I both want and need it.

What I DO know is that I feel incomplete, incongruous and misaligned. It’s not that I hate my anatomy, more like I am indifferent to my penis as a functioning organ. It’s superfluous. After years of hormone therapy, some degree of atrophy has set in. It’s almost like a vestigial organ…like an appendix…there but neither necessary nor critical for survival.

Oh well…I know I will continue to fixate on surgical realignment until the day after, at which point I suspect I’ll be like so many others who now give it no more than a passing thought on rare occasions.


T Notes

from 8/21/10 Q Notes


I always liked Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World”. The lyric “don’t know much about history, don’t know much biology” really gets to me. When I went to college, I was headed for a pre-med curriculum. That didn’t last as I found myself, ultimately, studying philosophy and history of religions. My scientific acumen is mostly that of a layperson, even though I do have a bit of a pre med background. That being said, I sometimes find myself doubting efforts to find a biological or genetic foundation for gender diversity. This uncertainty manifests several ways.

First is the issue of choice. Many of us have said that being gender diverse is not a choice…it’s the way we are constituted. Such reasoning dismisses the possibility that a person might CHOOSE any way of being in the world. We choose religion, profession and a myriad of other so called life styles. We say that gender diversity, however, is not a life style, but an essential part of who we are, and not a choice. There is grey area here…is it not possible that someone, for any number of reasons, might believe they are gender diverse? What happens if, given we ascertain a genetic or biological component, a person who does NOT have said genetic component still maintains their gender diversity? Such a requirement (the genetic marker) becomes a gauntlet a person must run to “qualify” officially, or medically, as gender diverse. Failure to do so would mean failure to obtain treatment.

It’s bad enough that trans persons must already pass muster with the psychiatric community in its capacity as gatekeeper. Imagine the situation if you add geneticists and medical doctors to that gatekeeper cadre. If we weren’t already marginalized and disenfranchised enough, and if we didn’t already have to face the demon of internal factionalism, creating more complex hurdles we must jump can do nothing but exacerbate a situation which is already problematic.

It should be obvious that imposing new standards contributes to the second issue, namely the escalation of elitism and hierarchy building. I have been following a heated debate in one of my news groups which makes this point perfectly. The individual with the adversarial position is a self avowed conservative and republican, and describes herself as transsexual. Her position is that only bona fide transsexuals, who will eventually be able to document a genetic anomaly, will be afforded equal protection under the law. Others, whom she describes as “transvestites”, are not so lucky. She avers that transsexual persons will have science on their side; so called “transvestites” will only be able to avail themselves of “pseudo-science” and some illusive phenomenon she calls ‘freedom of choice.” Well…so much for the ideals upon which this country was founded.

This distorted perspective is both ignorant and destructive given the basis of her argument. It’s separatist, elitist and not so arcane as to be believed by a mere few. If you were to excise this mindset OUT of the trans community and transpose it into the aforementioned legion of gatekeepers, you find yourself face to face with the last and perhaps most serious issue: the control of the selection process and permission granting residing with psychiatric and medical overseers.

Preacher Albert Mohler has already endorsed pre natal treatment to turn homosexual fetuses into heterosexual ones should a genetic marker become available. Such an approach brings us to the brink of eugenics and un-natural selection. J. Michael Bailey, an alleged trans clinician, has endorsed this position as well. (Let it be said that Bailey has been the subject of controversial methodology and has been excoriated by many in the trans community for his trans bigotry and his support for reparative therapy.)

This following quote comes from a 2001 paper: Parental Selection of Children’s Sexual Orientation, by Aaron S. Greenberg, JD and J. Michael Bailey, PhD. “It appears to be the case, then, that if allowing parents to select for heterosexuality is to be evaluated based on motive and consequence, one would be hardpressed to find it to be morally wrong. First, there are several plausible parental motives that range from morally acceptable to morally praiseworthy. Furthermore, parental freedom to select children’s important characteristics is a highly valuable,
and highly valued, liberty. Finally, selection for heterosexuality (even when done out of the worst motives) can benefit parents and children and seems unlikely to cause harm sufficient to outweigh those benefits and the value of parental liberty.” Liberty for one (the parent) means forced choice for another (the child).

One is left to question if this same logic would apply to selection for gender diversity. (I think we can guess the answer to that question). Interventionist medical protocols are not necessarily the best thing for any given individual, but the medical community has systematically availed itself of this course of action and too often decisions of this nature are made based on a practitioner’s ethos…which does not always jive with that of the individual being treated. Until recently, this mindset has been standard operating procedure for children with intersex conditions. The Bailey/Mohler paradigm crosses a threshold which is fraught with danger as some look for biology to substantiate the validity of gender diversity.

I am generally a favorable ally in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, whatever it is. And, I really believe that there may be medical and genetic foundations for gender diversity…which makes efforts towards curtailing elitism and the regulation of some genetic discoveries critical considering how many bigots would love to use said science to make gender diversity ( and being gay ) extinct.


T Notes

from 7/24/10 Q Notes


I was reminded this morning that the wheel turns slowly for trans individuals. My legal name has been changed for over five years; yet, for three years I have been wrangling with the Social Security Administration and the IRS to get my name legally changed for the IRS records. I decided to go up to the Winston Salem office, in person, and, once and for all, get this fixed. Even though I had brought enough documentation (I thought), the clerk rudely informed me that she would be unable to effect the change without a properly amended birth certificate. Great!! Stuck in the classic trans Catch 22. No money equals no surgery equals no amended birth certificate equals no money. I can’t afford my surgeries, and the fact that the IRS has screwed up my credit by refusing to make the name change has been partially to blame.

We fought…I demanded to see her supervisor, and eventually she caved in and agreed to amend my name. Even at that, she couldn’t accomplish it then and there and I left with an assurance that it would be “taken care of”. I should follow up in several weeks. Yeah…sure. The check’s in the mail, yada yada yada.

As I drove home, I daydreamed about what the world might be like for trans persons twenty years hence.

The year is 2030. It’s amazing how much has changed since 2010. The 2008 election saw thousands of new voters who no longer harbored the kind of intolerance so common amongst their parents and grandparents. The seeds that were planted early in the millennium have truly come to fruition as we approach the middle years of this century.

As has been the case for other minorities, rampant discrimination against trans persons has undergone a radical transformation. Today’s world sees diversity as a boon which nurtures harmony and encourages persons to reach their true potential. How could it be otherwise? If we were all suited for the same thing, it’d be awfully boring and this would be a carbon copy world. There would be no place for creative genius, no room for cutting edge, no growth, merely stagnation. Fortunately, this was not to be the case.

That being said, employment protections for trans persons were finally passed in 2013 during the second Obama administration. Leading up to this legislation were several important circuit court decisions that argued for TITLE VII applicability regarding workplace discrimination related to gender diversity. Even the extremely conservative Fourth Circuit held favorably in Glenn v. Brumby, et al. The plaintiff had been illegally terminated because she was a trans woman, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to step in to overturn the Fourth’s holding.

Workplace adjustments began to increase. Perhaps most significantly, bathroom politics changed. All new construction was in the direction of gender neutral bathrooms; older buildings were adapted gradually. The results were, as many speculated, an increase in bathroom security and no sign of increased predation. Most people now see it as no big deal… we close our stall door, we use the bathroom, we leave. No worries. No problems. Any of us can use any bathroom, so there are no inequities.
The court of public opinion had begun to turn and most Americans thought there were far greater problems (global warming, water pollution, corporate greed) confronting this country than gender politics. After passage of ENDA, that public opinion essentially snowballed and diversity legislation and trans protections began to be seen as a pervasive need towards making good on the American dream.

DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, was declared unconstitutional in 2014, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, fell the next year and, marriage equality became a non-issue in 2018 when Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Civil Unions Act. This piece of legislation effectively removed the legal aspects of domestic partnership from the bailiwick of the church and, across the board, made each and every one of these partnerships a civil union. If a couple desired to be married, well…that became a church issue to be decided by the couple and their religious institution. The constitutional mandate of separation of church and state has become more of a reality now as much of the bigotry espoused by neo fundamentalists has fallen by the wayside. Trans persons, as well as gay and lesbian individuals, are free to marry whomever they so choose, and all are free to serve in the military.

Perhaps the biggest achievement after workplace equality, however, was the Federal ID Act, which removed the category of sex and/or gender from official documents. Now…a photograph and a retinal scan are all that is needed. Many argued that the retinal scan was an abridgement of rights, and we are still working on its removal; yet, this system is far preferable to the older one wherein a person could be denied rights or deliberately punished for disparate documentation. This has been applicable for birth certificates, driver’s licenses and ID cards, as well as Social Security documents and passports.

Yes…we still have problems to solve…we have slowed down the use of petroleum based products and coal, and are doing more to protect our planet, but much remains to be done. Still, the strides we have made towards equal opportunity and towards guaranteeing that ALL citizens have access to the proverbial “American Dream” are significant, given how frustrating the picture was back in 2010.

Well…I can dream, can’t I??


T Notes

from 5/29/10 Q Notes


“What’s happened to ENDA?” Many had surmised that a Democratic President, Senate and House would mean much of the legislation, so long unaccomplished, would finally be a no brainer. We do have hate crimes legislation (rather toothless), but DODT appears to be succumbing to incrementalism, repeal of DOMA is unsure, and ENDA has been relegated to 2011 or later. Many over at Bilerico and Pam’s House Blend have addressed this apparent anomaly. So…what’s happened?

Thoughts and theories abound…most I’ve read have significant validity. Rebecca Juro cited faltering media support, specifically MSNBC, and it’s obvious this network hasn’t been at the forefront of a call for change. Much of the “political capitol” the Obama administration had was spent in the effort to pass health reform, resulting in a bill which became politically expedient with limited benefits. It wasn’t a single payer system and there’s been no positive effect on trans health. Removal of pre-existing condition limitations means nothing when insurance companies refuse coverage. It can be conjectured that MSNBC, too, was so invested in health care it lost sight of other important issues, but I won’t concede this because MSNBC has had, with rare exception, a history of avoiding ENDA and similar issues.

Joe Mirabella cited lack of leadership and poor messaging for ENDA’s demise in this Congressional session and there’s no doubt that our leadership has been fractured and confused. The influence HRC has wielded for so long now seems to be ebbing and, even if we are (much) better off without HRC leading the way, there IS still disarray at the top. NGLTF has always provided strong and thoughtful leadership but appears to lack enough clout to effect significant Congressional action. At the very least, it seems we have neither consistency nor solidarity as a political movement.

Dr. Jillian Weiss, whose determined efforts to make ENDA a reality have not flagged once in the past year, sees poor strategy as a root cause for ENDA’s failure, and to a large extent, she is correct. The desire to put marriage equality at the top of the list of equality legislative goals has been viewed as a mistake by most trans activists. It was seen as an issue which would quickly alienate so called fence sitters, and one which could have been (and should have been) quickly discharged with the realization that marriage belongs in the bailiwick of the church and that the government’s sole interest should be in the consummation of civil unions.

There are those who have argued that marriage equality cost Democrats the 2004 election. This may or may not be true…I’d go a step further, however, and posit that we should have made ENDA the primary piece of legislation BEFORE hate crimes, DODT, DOMA and marriage equality, as a good friend suggested to me several years ago. ENDA was first proposed in 1994 and, since then, has suffered at the hands of both foes and alleged allies. Who can forget the 2007 debacle with Barney Frank and HRC essentially throwing trans equality “under the bus”! Well…as the expression goes, SSDD…same @#$%, different day.

There has also been speculation that ENDA is no longer quite as critical for gay and lesbian communities as it is for trans individuals…companies seem to be more accommodating for the former and joblessness for them appears to be declining. This is definitely NOT the case for trans persons…all evidence seems to show that under and unemployment is soaring.

These are four perspectives, and all make sense, but it’s my opinion that the bathroom issue always lurks as a substrate to trans discrimination and is always a root cause for trans exclusion, however it is masked and however it manifests. Last month’s T Notes column focused on the ick factor and its effects are intrinsic to legislative non-action. As we worked for ENDA 2010, the politics of gut and dogma have been fully displayed. To wit: Andrea Lafferty and the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC). Her column in Roll Call in May, 2010 sadly gave cultural bigots a platform and an opportunity to spread their fear and loathing in a mainstream Congressional publication. Again, and again, we are confronted with bigotry of this ilk from those who hate us and, sadly, from those who allegedly support us. Andrea Lafferty falls in the former category, Rep. Barney Frank (Dem, MA) in the latter and Rep. Heath Shuler (Dem, NC) is somewhere in between.

In the aforementioned Roll Call, Andrea Lafferty couched the bathroom issue under the guise of forcing children to have trans teachers. “Most importantly, every public school in America will not be able to discriminate in hiring transgender teachers, and it will be illegal to reassign them from the classroom.” TVC has consistently cited the bathroom issue as an underlying rationale for the aforementioned discrimination, evidenced by a July 11, 2007 column. Both the Transgender Law Center’s “Peeing In Peace” and People In Search Of Safe Restrooms (PISSR) were excoriated for taking the bathroom issue head on. The article reproduced much of TLC’s rationale and summarized, “A San Francisco-based transgender law center is promoting a “bathroom revolution” to overthrow the idea of “gender-segregated” restrooms.”

The conclusion TVC reached is that “Transgender madness and the idea of ‘gender identity disorder’ as being normal will be embedded in federal law…if ENDA is passed” And…(ENDA) “is part of the transgender/ homosexual agenda to create federally-protected class status for the behaviors of sodomy, cross-dressing and gender-confused individuals.” There are dozens of hatefully minded people and organizations out there lined up right next to TVC.

Gwen Smith, author of Transmissions, and long time activist, has recapped Rep Barney Frank’s “support” for ENDA. Our alleged advocate has been quoted as saying “Never!” (quote supplied to Ms. Smith by Miranda Stevens-Miller) when questioned in 2000 regarding trans inclusion in ENDA. Ms. Stevens-Miller continued, “His problem was that until we could answer the question of 'people with penises in [women's] showers,' there is no way that he would support it. The conversation got rather heated to say the least. And with Barney speaking very loudly and repeatedly about 'penises in showers,' we attracted a lot of attention in the restaurant."

Ms. Smith wrote, “Likewise, he has indicated that transgender people with "one set of
genitals" would not be able to go to a bathroom for people with another sex of genitals. Because, apparently, there will be someone at the door who will check what's in your pants.” This Barney Frank gem was delivered several months back. Does any of this language sound familiar?

And…only a month ago Rep Heath Shuler(Dem, NC) established his position as 21st century Benedict Arnold with this perspective on ENDA…moderates have "walked the plank a lot around here on things that never go anywhere in the Senate" and that asking them to vote on a transgender bill in this year's political climate would be "a mistake." Asked whether he thought the bill would ever reach the floor, he said, "I can't imagine that it would." (Quote from Washington Post, 5/13/10)

There’s been no definitive disclosure of exact language to be used had ENDA actually made it to committee, but there has been speculation that trans individuals could not be forced to use the wrong bathroom but would also not be guaranteed the right to use the proper bathroom. One Bilerico guest columnist, Renee, elaborated on why this is a bad idea. Summarizing and paraphrasing her, these are the salient problems with this language:
1. Unnecessary humiliation,
2. Not all retail stores and places of business have unisex bathrooms,
3. Many unisex bathrooms get heavy use and infrequent cleaning,
4. Reduced mobility may encourage non-promotion, and…
5. All of the above encourage “outing” and possibly dangerous repercussions.
6. I would add that bathroom exclusion language represents a codification of discrimination within an ENDA bill.

Furthermore, there is unequivocally no indication that trans persons using appropriate bathroom facilities lead to either harassment or violence to women and children, as TVC and others aver. Dr. Weiss undertook a research project ( to which I contributed) searching for instances of trans predation in bathrooms and there is absolutely no evidence in this regard. My specific area of research was New York City and, again, I found zero trans predation. In four to five years of archiving trans media, I have found two instances of trans predation, and, in both cases, the victim was well acquainted with the perpetrator. I can find NO cases of trans predation in which the predator knew the victim.

To date, twelve states, and DC, as well as literally hundreds of local jurisdictions, have passed anti discrimination bills with gender identity protections, and no one has come forward with complaints about trans predation. The truth is that there have been many more instances of violence against trans persons, often occurring in these very same bathrooms. Unfortunately, most of these go unreported.

We cannot let the dogma of fear win, and we cannot settle for an incremental approach which will essentially codify discrimination within ENDA by stipulating bathroom use language which separates, marginalizes and excludes.


T Notes

from 5/29/10 Q Notes


The Ick Factor

What drives people to inhuman behavior?

Hate and violence are usually a product of fear and ignorance, which often manifest in an inability to comprehend and a failure to communicate. Fear arises when people are confronted with anything outside their “normal” and anticipated field of vision and many persons’ actions become reduced to a level of animal behavior…fight or flight. Well reasoned and tolerant individuals understand that, in most instances, differences are something to be valued, not persecuted. They are able to see life’s broader scope.

Fear resulting from visceral reactions and emotions, the so called “ick factor”, is probably the most insidious kind of fear because of how deeply it is rooted. Such alleged and absolute disgust is not an easy subject to broach, because it defies rationality and logic, and denies all appeals to loftier emotions. It often resists comprehension and eludes communication. It’s so imbedded in the thinking of some bigots as to be unreachable and unchangeable. These recalcitrant individuals are generally the loudest ones carping about other individuals whose lives, interestingly, have no effect upon them.

Most of us have experienced irrational fears at one time or another. Many of us have probably also had this same kind of visceral reaction to one thing or another. Some people hate a specific food so much it makes them physically ill just to think about it. It’s one thing to have a visceral reaction over food, however, and another to systematically hate another person merely because of who they are, what they believe or how they look and how that jives with gut feelings.

How we deal with our own gut reactions may facilitate an understanding regarding how we relate to others’ differences and how we integrate ourselves into a world in which diversity can thrive. There is no reason to presume that how another is or is not different from me will impact my world. All too often, however, we find that the inability to refrain from transferring another’s life experiences upon ourselves, or vice versa, is responsible for the pain bigots inflict upon persons who for one reason or another are unlike them.

It’s been nine years since I acknowledged my gender diversity and, sadly, I’ve been confronted with more than my share of “ick factor” moments and treatment. There was the doctor who manifested physical revulsion after I informed him of my intention to initiate hormone replacement therapy. And then there was the church group from Concord, NC who picketed Charlotte Pride. They spent the afternoon with their megaphone informing us how we were an abomination. I suspect that most LGBT persons have encountered this kind of unassailable and inexcusable vitriol. Just the sight of two women kissing, two men holding hands, or non-normative attire is enough to send some of these cretins into a panic. They seem to believe that even observation will lead to infection of some sort.

The ability to overcome these instinctive and habitual responses is part of what being human is. The question is how do we encourage human behavior? Is it possible to legislate opinions and attitudes? Probably not…it hasn’t really worked in the past. I believe that change happens by two different timetables acting concurrently: the first is slow and inexorable, the second catalytic and dramatic. Consequently, we see those who embrace incremental change and those who consistently push for radical change. Both are necessary; with timing, both can be effective, but poor timing can lead to deleterious results. Many of us decry the incremental approach because political realities have demonstrated that revisiting legislation can often be a matter of years in which discriminatory behavior will go unaddressed. Worst case scenario is that such behavior becomes institutionalized.

My thought is that the court of public opinion is the usual milieu for incremental change. Activists and advocates, however, often pursue a radical agenda because they know that any individuals left unprotected may have to suffer for years before inequities are addressed. They also understand that presenting the stark reality of discrimination is useful in shaping that public opinion. Furthermore, since legislation is often built on compromise, it is valuable to fight for the greatest protection for the greatest number of persons. Ideally, we fight for equal opportunity and equal treatment for everyone. Lastly, if often takes herculean measures to counter the vitriol of baseless fear which manifests as the ick factor. Persons who let ignorance and their gut feelings dominate their thinking are generally the loudest pushing for institutionalized discriminination. They spread their dogma using a campaign of fear designed to scare others into availing themselves of the same baseless and ignorant non-rationale.

I have a friend who suggested that we will never fully get rid of bigotry, and perhaps that’s true; but, we can attempt to reduce the numbers and try to mitigate the consequences. Remember…as much as we fight to establish our identities amongst ourselves, the real enemies are those who allow their gut instincts to govern their ability to reason, their capacity to relate or their desire to learn. They speak louder, write more verbiage and affect more moderate and conservative legislators than anyone else. They help to keep public opinion entrenched in a stilted and recalcitrant paradigm rooted in their faulty ability to comprehend what humanity and diversity are and have in common. The purveyors of ick factor thinking must be shown for the bigots they really are!



T Notes

from Q Notes 5/1/10

Last month’s column addressed suicide and the sense of victimization that is often associated with it. This is not the only face of being trans. There are many instances of success and many trans persons who have escaped the despair which often accompanies minimal survival. In most cases, the taking of one’s own life stems from the disparity between an innate sense of who we are and the persona and collateral baggage with which society would like to burden us. When that discord is removed, there is every reason to expect life to be endurable…and more! I hesitate to use the word “normal”…most of us are a little (or a lot) ambivalent about what that elusive word means. Still, there is no reason to assume that any innate or lasting emotional or psychological infirmity accompanies the actualization of expressing one’s true self.

It is my opinion that therapy is and should be a personal choice. My experience has been that therapy did help me to alleviate some of the dissonance I experienced resulting from years of denial, autopsychoanalysis and confusion. It was neither critical nor cathartic, certainly not indispensable, but it gave me a sense of direction I might have lacked. In no way do I consider gender diversity to be, in and of itself, pathological or problematic. The initial response I had to acknowledging being gender diverse was a feeling of great relief. My shoulders actually felt like that burden had been removed. It’s amazing how we can externalize our inner conflicts and how these externalizations manifest (or disappear) after the blockage has been removed. I think I even stood a little straighter and taller! Have I fully resolved the dissonance? Probably not. But, it feels like most of the discord is an artifact of finding my place in a world which has a hard time accepting differences and/or individuality. I have found happiness in the authenticity of learning about myself, yet sadness in dealing with a world which does not accept.

I think it’s critical to draw a distinction between what may be perceived as a “normal” life and a so called assimilated life. This is often a bone of contention which carries a lot of emotional baggage and is furiously debated. Assimilation harkens back to a Mattachine mindset and I know very few activists or advocates who would accept it as a viable course of action. There are others, however, who DO choose to “blend” into whatever they perceive to be their expressed gender’s world. Neither choice is, in and of itself, right. It depends on the person. Normal, to me, implies the condition of wanting to live one’s life with friends, families, goals, health and happiness…the kind of things we might wish everyone would or could enjoy. How we do that is up to each of us…individuality mandates that each of us decides which path to walk. Regardless, it should never be forgotten that, in many cases, it has been the work of activists which has made the choice of others easier should they opt to blend.

Some might suggest that it takes money and the ability to “pass” to avoid cultural bigotry, and it would be ignorant and incorrect to deny that those with money and those who readily pass might conceivably have an advantage. It’s easier to survive when homelesssness is not staring you down, when you have a good job, a place to live and your world is not stress laden. This uncertainty is the root of much of that trans despair.

I would suggest that this is not always the case, and not always what it seems to be.
It may not necessarily be easy, and it may not necessarily be right for each individual, but given a certain mindset, the dual obstacles of money and passability can be overcome. Perhaps most important is a sense of confidence and a feeling of being at home in one’s skin. The ease with which we project ourselves into the world often plays a significant part in how we fare. Even those who pass but lack confidence may have difficulties. Conversely, those who pass less readily but whose sense of self is secure will probably be better prepared for success.

Money is a more formidable obstacle and the one which is most onerous for me, and others, I suspect. And there is no good answer that can be readily dispensed to assuage the fear which arises when we are forced to confront monetary misfortune and discord, other than to work for workplace equality. What I suggest to myself is that I cannot know what is around the corner in my life. That, in and of itself, has had to suffice to keep a flame of optimism alive even when despair threatens to overwhelm me. I try to focus on the feeling that the tide is changing as seeds I planted previously find some root and start to grow. At least this realization helps me to retain that sense of optimism.

Lynn Conway’s website is, perhaps, the most valuable resource to the trans community regarding success stories. She has accumulated stories of gender diverse individuals whose stories prove that we CAN have fulfilling lives, careers, partners and families. Here’s a link to her site:

I will continue to work for the day when the keys to success for trans persons are their abilities, their desires, and their training. When we can be treated with the same respect and judged by the same criteria which others receive and expect, then we can say that equal opportunity and success are realities. Until that day, activists and advocates, as well as individuals themselves, will need to be vigilant to ensure that the list on Lynn Conway’s website continues to grow. The fact that success always seems to breed success is a good thought to hold onto!