Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lebkuchen á lá Emelye

Here's a recipe that I developed after researching a number of German Lebkuchen recipes. While this is more like a little cake rather than a crispy cookie, it's flavor is delicate and subtle and meant more for an adult palate, especially if real rum is used in the glaze. Enjoy!

Lebkuchen á lá Emelye

  • 150 g sugar (300 g if not using Splenda)
  • 30 g Splenda (abt 3/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbsn unsulphered Molasses
  • 1 Tbsn Vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 Tbspn Rum or equivalent amount of rum extract
  • ½ tspn ground clove
  • ½ tspn ground cinnamon
  • ½ tspn ground ginger
  • ½ tspn lemon zest
  • Pinch of Cardamon
  • 60 g candied lemon peel (chopped small, abt 3mm (1/8") chunks)
  • 60 g candied orange peel (chopped small, abt 3mm (1/8") chunks)
  • 275 g finely ground almonds
  • 220 g flour
  • 1½ tspn double acting baking powder

* Cream the eggs, sugar, molasses and vanilla until slightly frothy. Add the spices, zest and rum.
* Stir in the candied peel and ground almonds.
* Gradually sift in the baking powder and flour, mixing until the batter is thick and stiff. Allow the batter to rest ½ hour.
* Using two spoons drop mounds of dough about 2 inches (5 cm) to 3 inches (7½ cm) across onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.
* Garnish with almonds, halved or slivered (doesn’t matter), if desired, and bake in a 350ºF (180ºC) oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until brown at the edges. (Keep an eye on the first batch, all ovens are different!)

* Frost the cookies with a thin frosting made from powdered sugar and milk flavored with almond extract, lemon juice or rum.


> Makes about 2 ½ to 3 dozen depending on how big ya make ‘em.
> Very sticky batter
> They don’t spread much in the oven, rather, they rise into a dome shape
> 8 cookies per sheet works well

Oh, by the way, our esteemed Governor Paterson has announced today that he will sign an order making discrimination on the basis of gender identity/expression illegal when it is perpetrated against state executive's employees. After hijacking the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) last April, in favor of same sex marriage legislation, Gov. Paterson has throw the gender variant community some crumbs. Big Deal! This order affects a microscopic portion of the state's trans citizens and for yours truly this is way too little and way too late as well as completely irrelevant.

Thanks again for nothing, Governor! When will the gender variant community in New York State get a REAL advocate in state government?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Marrige equality fails in New York

The vote was 24 to 38.

In a published statement, Senator Thomas Duane said,

“Today’s vote against Marriage Equality makes me very angry. Promises made were not honored. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, and all fair minded New Yorkers have been betrayed. I am enraged, deeply disappointed and profoundly saddened by the vote today."
I know how he feels. (I've noted that in blog comments here and there and have been accused of holding "sour grapes" in order to trivialize my rage, disappointment and sadness.) The gender variant community in New York State have been feeling that way since before 2002 when the GLB politicos decided to throw us under the bus to pass non discrimination law that covers sexual orientation while excluding gender identity and expression. Broken promises are all we've seen since then. This year is no exception.

In his speech on the Senate floor, Sen. Duane said,

"People have said to me 'now is not the time'. There's always time to be on the right side of history."
But never the right time to truly fight for the gender variant people in New York State, Sen. Duane? Why didn't GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act) get onto the extraordinary session agendas? Why didn't you raise hell about that? Why didn't your allies in the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) say anything either?

After June, GENDA disappeared in favor of the marriage equality law in the communiques from the ESPA, the governor and from the state legislature. Somehow, the "coup" attempt by the Republicans in the senate was turned back. Was GENDA sacrificed in a deal in order to get the marriage debate and vote? Such treachery won't be admitted by anyone. We'll never know for sure but it sure looks that way.

The state legislature has gone home until the new session starts next year. It's doubtful Gov. Paterson will call any more extraordinary sessions. I guess it wasn't time yet to "come back" for the trans community. It seems it's never time if the GLB politicos can gain an advantage for themselves by sacrificing gender variant people in New York. The GLB community have had protections for seven years already. Your civil rights are protected, Mr Duane. Mine aren't. And it's apparent you think that's perfectly alright.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New York State Senate Puts Marriage Equality Vote On "Indefinite Hold"

Marriage equality was not voted on in the New York State Senate yesterday. I am not terribly disappointed.

Because the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) is STILL being ignored by both the politicians and the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) in favor of marriage legislation. When Gov Paterson introduced the marriage equality legislation last April he effectively doomed GENDA. While ESPA did include GENDA and the NY bullying bills (Dignity for All Students Act) in its lobbying day at the end of April their main efforts for most of the year have been almost exclusive to marriage equality. I dare say, the main impetus behind the coup that the Republicans inflicted upon the NY Senate in June was largely fueled by opposition to the marriage bill. Of course, all other unfinished legislation was thus thrown under the bus too, along with GENDA and DASA.

Until April, the consensus in NY was that marriage quality would be a dead issue for at least this year and that non discrimination and bullying laws that included GLBT kids would be in the forefront. Mr Paterson and the rest of the political system in NY once again, however, have decided that trans people and BLTG kids aren't important enough to even consider when some political hay could be made pandering to the GLB and progressive groups with legislation that was considered unpassable for this legislative season.

Apparently, this isn't over and there have been some assurances made that the vote will be scheduled again. The NY Daily News says ESPA head, Alan Van Capelle expressed satisfaction that his group has the assurance it has sought for a reasonably prompt debate and vote, and Tom Duane (openly gay NY senator) said he was "happy" with the outcome. Of course they are happy! They are cissexual and cisgender people with all the privilege that comes with those identities. They don't have to worry about losing their jobs, being thrown out of their apartments or being denied service in a hotel or restaurant because of who they are.

Like in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire, the GLB community in NY apparently still thinks marriage equality is worth throwing gender variant people under the bus. This is on top of the past treachery from 2002 when they supported non-inclusive non discrimination law which then passed. At the time, the trans community was told to wait. To be patient until they could come back to us. When the hell is that going to be? I daresay, unless some fundamental changes are made in both ESPA and the state government, the answer to that is never.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

No, dammit! I will NOT call my senator about same sex marriage!!

Well, here it is nearing the end October and I haven't visited with you in months! It has been a relatively uneventful summer so there was little to get me going enough to write about. The leaves are now falling and the days have been cool and generally wet. Winter is just around the corner.

One thing that kept me busy was my involvement with the Rainbow Pride Connection LGTB Conference at Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, New York. The conference was quite a success, with almost 100 people attending (140 people attended the lovely concert given by the Buffalo Gay Men's Chorus), and plans are underway to have another conference next October 2nd.

I received an email a week ago from the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) asking me to contact my state senator to ask her to support same sex marriage equality. Pretty much all New Yorkers are aware of the idiotic stalemate that was induced by a Republican power grab last June in the New York State Senate. What they may not be aware of is that the stalemate prevented the upcoming vote on the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) as well as the vote on marriage equality for same sex couples. Since that time the governor, David Paterson, has called a few special sessions of the Senate in order to take care of urgent business that was neglected. What has been conspicuously missing from these sessions has been any talk about these two important civil rights measures.

What has been conspicuously missing from ESPA's public statements is GENDA. All I hear, again, are requests to lobby for same sex marriage rights. The governor himself has mentioned them yet GENDA is nowhere to be seen! What the hell is going on? It seems a repeat of the 2002 Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act (SONDA) is happening once again. Transgender people are being ignored, being thrown off the bus once again! Does anyone think the GLB community will devote the resources that are needed to pass GENDA after they get marriage equality along with their 7 year old inclusion in New York's nondiscrimination and hate crimes law? Look what happened in Massachusetts. It's been 5 long years since the GLB community received marriage equality there yet the transgender population is still without basic protections. They currently have legislation pending in their legislature to remedy this but I haven't heard anything about it in months. Obviously, it isn't the priority that marriage equality was.

The New York State transgender community was told to wait their turn, to wait until the GLB community came back for them. Here we are seven years later, still waiting and watching while so many political resources are drained on an issue which, while it's certainly important, does nothing to enhance the quality and even survivability of life for the transgender community. This cannot continue. I will call my state senator (Cathy Young) again, even though she has come out publicly against same sex marriage rights, and I will ask her to support GENDA and if there is enough time, to support marriage equality. I cannot wait any longer for basic civil rights protections. WE NEED GENDA FIRST!

I sent the following email to Governor Patterson via his website. I urge all of you to join me in this effort:

Dear Gov. Paterson,

I am appalled by your recent promotion of same sex marriage rights while transgender individuals such as myself still lack the basic civil rights protections we so desperately need and which would be awarded by the passage of the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act.

We need you to point out that being married to your same sex sweetheart is of little use if you can still be legally thrown out of your apartment, fired from your job and denied services in the public sphere because you don't fit within someone else's idea of what gender you ought to be or look like. While same sex marriage equality is important, non discrimination law that includes gender identity and expression is vital. It's a matter of survival for a great many New Yorkers.

Please use your position to promote GENDA first. Once that's done, marriage equality will be just as easy as it is now to pass. If marriage equality comes first, I fear transgender New Yorkers will NEVER see the protection they so desperately need.

Thank you,

Jamestown, New York

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NYS Gov. calls special session of the Senate, #1 priority is Same Sex Marriage, GENDA is ignored

Gov. David Paterson, of New York, has issued a proclamation calling the NYS Senate into special session tomorrow, Wednesday, June 24th. The proclamation lists same sex civil marriage as its first priority. The Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act, GENDA, is nowhere to be found.

Gov. Paterson calling a special session of the NYS SenateOnce again, gender variant people in New York State have been shoved under the bus, as I feared as soon as Gov. Paterson introduced same sex marriage legislation back on April 16th. In an apparent repeat of the legislative violence trans people suffered in 2002, we have been forgotten. I'm sure we'll be told again that we just need to be patient, that the GLB community will "come back" for us. I'm also convinced if same sex marriage equality becomes law in New York, the state's femme gay men and the butch lesbian women, along with the transsexual people, the genderqueer people, the straight but feminine men and the straight but butch women, will have to wait until the unlikely event that the federal government and the GLB lobbyists who want need donation generating victories above all else, decides we are worth the trouble of consideration.

I believe this will happen because once marriage equality becomes law in New York, the financial support and political will necessary to pass a trans inclusive set of laws in the state will wither away. I'm sure the leadership of the GLB(t) organizations will hasten to assure us that protecting gender variant people is the next fight on the list. After all, they need issues to justify their continuing existence but once marriage equality is achieved, what large issues are left for the GLB community in NY? Few, if any, that I can see.

I will never be so selfish as to advocate for the defeat of the civil marriage rights bill in New York because GENDA is still not law. I am a lesbian as well as trans woman and I know this is important for our community. I won't, can't, leave the GLBT community and I'm afraid it will leave me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Justice for Teish and all trans people

I read a good article in Transgriot the other day, pointing out the egregious lack of media coverage for the trial of Dwight DeLee who is accused of murdering Lateisha Green in Syracuse, NY. In comparison to the media spotlight, comparatively speaking, that was aimed at the Angie Zapata murder trial in Colorado, this trial has almost become a nonevent. And that's a shame because this trial highlights a district attorney who is trying to make a hate crimes murder case against someone in a state that doesn't include gender identity and expression in its hate crimes laws.

DeLee's attorney, Clarence Johnson, has already tried and failed to remove the hate crimes designation as unconsitutional. Thank goodness Onondaga County Judge William Welsh saw the ploy as the desperate attempt it was and ruled against it. So far, it hasn't come up, as far as I know, but I have some more misgivings about this case. I fear that the defense will not only use the "trans panic" excuse in one form or another but will also try to remove the hate crime charge by pointing out that Teish was a trans woman and that she was therefore not covered by existing New York hate crimes law.

The potential success of such an argument in a state where marriage equality legislation has once again eclipsed the fight for equal protection for trans people would add yet another injury to the insults the trans community experience in New York. We need to remind those in power how the message sent to the TLBG community in the Syracuse region by the murderer affects all of us and not just the unfortunate family of the victim. We need to write and call the local Syracuse media whose clueless coverage reinforces the ignorant perception of those who are trying to deal with a rare but treatable medical condition as being mentally ill, repugnant to normal humanity and deserving of such violent treatment.

I hope and pray that the circumstances of the case make it impossible for Mr DeLee's attorney to argue against the hate crimes addition on the basis of Ms Green's gender identity and I also hope and pray that the New York State Senate will move S2406, the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA), out of committee, onto the Senate floor and onto the Governor's desk for his promised signature. This year, before marriage equality.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Right Wing Press

The one daily newspaper in my area is geared toward the Republican party. Of that there can be no doubt. This is most evident in the kinds of letters they choose to publish in their print version. I think they try to publish the most radical and inflammatory rhetoric they get in order to make their own editorials and opinions seem moderate by comparison. The following is my reply to one such letter (the letter is italicized, my answers are not):

"Why is homosexual legitimization even a question and why now?"

Why not now?

"And why homosexuality alone among the many forms of sexual deviance?"

Because some sexual minorities, or "deviants" as this writer so disparagingly puts it, cause harm to others. Those deviations that do not cause harm are not legally sanctioned. Those that do are. Same sex attraction does not cause harm. The constant attempts to introduce other subjects into this discussion are attempts to set up straw man arguments which are logical fallacies. Just because people who are attracted to same sex partners are in the minority does not mean they should be denied civil rights.

“Pointless questions in the political realm where advocates know rationality doesn't influence human decision making or behavior, but the perceived beliefs of others does. We are sheep.“

This doesn’t make any sense to me. Am I missing something or is the writer?

“The homosexual advocates have used mass media to relocate this centuries old line between normal and deviant.”

The line between what is considered normal and deviant has been shifting constantly throughout history and between cultures. Scientific knowledge expands and our considerations of what is “normal” (an ambiguous word in the best sense) changes. Would the writer deny the centuries of scientific progress because they violate old norms?

“They supplement this with name calling even though they had to invent a name to call, and they emphasize the new social acceptability (political correctness) they have arbitrarily remade. They also use blackmail, extortion, denial of employment, and boycotts.”

For someone who uses name calling as a major weapon in his rhetorical arsenal this comment is quite hypocritical. The other charges are pure hyperbole and have no basis in fact, except maybe in the case of boycotts, which the right wing uses regularly. Boycotts are an accepted form of political expression. Why should people spend money to enrich those who oppose them politically?

“Rational argument does not convince people, but it is valued as a fig leaf so people can believe or pretend they are acting rationally. But a lie or naive logical fallacy serves just as well as truth. The favorite is the equal rights argument.” But homosexuals have the same rights as the rest of us. They don't want to live equally by our rules. They want new special privileges for themselves. That's their point.”

The logical fallacy that is being promoted here is that having the “same rights” is the same as equal rights. This is not true. The writer tries to take a technicality to distract people from the real issue. Take this hypothetical situation,

“If the government passes a law requiring everyone to practice Christianity, it doesn’t infringe on the rights of those who are Jewish because they are treated equally; Christians can’t practice Judaism and neither can Jews.”

The fact is that heterosexual people can marry those they fall in love with. Same sex couples cannot.

“Next comes the discrimination argument. But the aspects of homosexuality that the law and custom proscribe and abhor are behavioral. Society and custom have every right to discriminate on the basis of behavior. That's what they do. “

Same sex attraction is not a behavior as much as it is a deeply held trait, an orientation. Behaviors can be changed. Is opposite sex attraction simply a behavior? Can it be changed? Hardly! Then again, the TLGB agenda calls for equality in discrimination under the law, not special exemptions the way many religionist organizations do. If a choice like religion or a trait like race can be protected because these traits have been historically targeted for unfair treatment, then same sex attraction as well as gender expression and identity should be as well.

“Never can advocates explain why their arguments don't equally apply to other deviations. They just insist they are already normal. In formal logic, that's called assuming the question.”

What do you call the fallacy of putting words into other people’s mouths? Straw man arguments, perhaps? The issue is about rights for those citizens who happen to be attracted to members of their own sex. It’s not about those other things, many of which cause harm to others.

“The real reasons for the homosexual legitimization drive are a desire to reward a group that has been extraordinarily valuable to the Democratic party, the yearning of baby boomer misfits to recapture the camaraderie, the attention, and the feeling of importance they had in their youth and the desire of younger malcontents to emulate their role models, the leftist hatred of morality and restraint, and a pathological desire of the left to destroy the achievements of Western Civilization particularly things of importance to the parental generation and the Christian religion.”

All I see here and in the rest of this rant are specious statements made without support or real logic. It’s deceitful propaganda at its worst. I think it’s a shame that the PJ would stoop to such a low level as to provide a forum in their print editions for this kind of rhetoric.

Fortunately the paper's online edition allows comments for these "Letters to the Editor." I do know that more than one letter I submitted for publication to their print edition was ignored because of my support for equality for ALL deserving citizens. This activity is something we can all do to influence local perceptions of this issue. You may not convince the ideologues that write this kind of rant but you just might reach the more reasonable readers, many of whom don't write in but still read and heed what is written.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

This was a memorable Memorial Day in my kitchen. We had visits from relatives whom we hadn't seen in years and a very nice picnic to which I contributed my version of German potato salad. The significant days continue today, with the coincidence of my firstborn son's birthday and the Prop. 8 decision from the California Supreme Court as well as the announcement of Judge Sonia Sotomayer as President Obama's US Supreme Court Justice selection. Wowser!

Sunday afternoon saw both me and my spouse rather worn out and looking for a nice nap. It was interrupted, however, by the appearance of spouse's nephews whom I hadn't seen since I came out to her family. I've mentioned here before how spouse's family still mostly refuses to accept, with some notable exceptions, the changes we've traversed. To see the young people of her family show up unannounced was nothing short of a joyous bombshell. They were kind, friendly and, apparently, at ease with seeing me in my new role. New name and pronouns were scrupulously used. Their visit reinforced the observation that the younger generation is a lot more tolerant of people's life choices and needs. It gives me hope that the future will see more and more acceptance of TLGB people in our culture. Both spouse and I were floating after they left.

We went to a local park for a picnic with the other small part of spouse's family the next day. We were asked to bring a dish to pass and we put together our favorite dish for these occasions, German potato salad, on the evening before. It's a pretty easy recipe and is popular with almost everyone. I peeled and sliced into quarters (lengthwise) about 2½ to 3 pounds of golden potatoes. Regular white potatoes work well for this dish too. Russets are too soft and red potatoes are too dense but they would work in a pinch. While boiling the potatoes, I cooked up 5 slices of bacon (if it doesn't have pig fat it isn't German!) and carefully reserved 2 tablespoons of the drippings. Then I cut up about ½ to 3/4 cup of sweet onion. I think we had a Vidalia in the house.

Once the potatoes were done, I drained and let them cool before slicing them about 3/16 to 1/4" (5 to 7 mm) thick. The bacon was crumbled into small pieces and thrown along with the onion, into the bowl with the potatoes. Then I made the dressing, 1 cup of beef broth, 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings and about 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar (more or less to taste). A pinch of salt was then thrown in to taste (depends on how much salt the bacon has).

I warmed up the dressing in the microwave to just warmer than room temperature, whisked it to distribute the fat with the broth and poured 1/2 of it onto the potato salad. I folded the potatoes, bacon and onions with the dressing, covered the bowl and placed it with the rest of the dressing into the fridge for an overnight stay. The next morning I took then out, let them come to room temperature, rewarmed the remaining dressing and folded that in. The potato salad is best served at room temp or slightly warmer making it a good choice for a picnic.

Today, 31 years ago, I became a brand new parent when my son was born. He lives far away, in Portland, OR and I haven't seen him in person for a few years. We keep in touch via Facebook and he is apparently doing well. I wish him a happy birthday and happy everdays too!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Today is the New York Statewide GENDA Call-in Day!

Please take a few minutes from your day to call New York Sen. Thomas Duane, the sponsor of GENDA in the Senate, along with your own senator, and ask them to please support equal protections by moving GENDA out of committee, onto the Senate floor and passing it into law. Talking points may be found at the site linked above, if you want them.

Senator Thomas Duane can be reached at 518.455.2451
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith can be reached at 518.455.2701

The committee members that will have to vote for GENDA to get it onto the Senate floor:

Senator Craig Johnson can be reached at 518.455.2622
Senator Ruben Diaz can be reached at 518.455.2511 (Yes, that Ruben diaz)
Senator Pedro Espada Jr. can be reached at 518.455.3395
Senator Martin J. Golden can be reached at 518.455.2730
Senator Jeffrey D. Klein can be reached at 518..455.3595
Senator Michael F. Nozzolio can be reached at 518.455.2366
Senator William T. Stachowski can be reached at 518.455.2426
Senator George Winner can be reached at 518.455.2091

Please make at least one phone call to Sen Duane and your state senator. It's only a few minutes and can make the difference between getting equal protection or remaining powerless in the face of blatant discrimination in much of New York State. This year is our best chance to get this bill passed but it won't move unless we remind the Senate that marriage equality isn't the only vital issue for the GLBT community.

Thank you so much!

hugs & smiles

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NYS Assembly passes marriage equality bill!

I see that the New York State Assembly passed AB 7732, the civil marriage equality bill. I'm very pleased that they did so. I am a staunch supporter of civil marriage equality, something many of my previous blog posts have illustrated. Those who discuss this matter in my local newspaper's online Letters to the Editor section probably guessed that too. I'm sure the community will fight hard now for its passage through the state senate.

I still haven't heard any details regarding the Empire State Pride Agenda's (ESPA) call in day for GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act). I guess they've been busy with other things. An article in the NY Post (don't ask) says that "Democrats in the Senate are working furiously to get enough votes to turn the proposal into law." This comes as no surprise. As I previously noted, it sure looks as if the GLB committment to GENDA sure flew out of the window in a hurry when Governor Patterson made his marriage bill announcement last April 16th.

So, with the same amount of hope as the fellow that began bailing the Titanic with a teacup, I sent a note today, to Senate Majority Leader Malcom Smith and to the senate sponsor of the marriage bill, Thomas K. Duane, asking them to remember GENDA and pass it first.

Dear Senators Smith & Duane,

I've just finished reading about your vigorous efforts to push marriage equality legislation through the New York State Senate. I'd like to thank both of you for your efforts in this very important issue. I would also like to take this opportunity to ask you not to forget the thousands of unprotected transsexual and other gender variant people that are watching in dismay how their main legislative interest seems to have been pushed aside.

I had hoped that when Governor Patterson announced his introduction of marriage equality legislation, that GENDA would not be forgotten. Unfortunately, in the public sphere and in the news it seems it has been. I'm not a politician and there may well be other factors involved, but I would think a vote for GENDA would be easy to do right now with all the noise and attention being paid to marriage equality but once again, those of us who do not fit gender stereotypes are poised above the wheels of the bus, so to speak, waiting to be dropped. Please do your best to correct the state's omission when they passed SONDA, seven long years ago, without the inclusion of gender identity and expression.

While I consider civil marriage equality to be very important, I believe that GENDA is vital. The ability to marry a same sex sweetheart is pretty worthless if you can't get a job no matter what your qualifications are or if your landlord has thrown you out of your home because he doesn't "rent to your kind." Being married to a person of the same sex doesn't help when a bouncer throws you out of a bathroom or your family out of a restaurant because some paranoid and ignorant customer made a complaint about your appearance.

I think this bill is vital and will not cause the harm its opponents predict it will (with no evidence). I am asking you as a lifelong, law abiding, citizen of New York State, please join your colleagues in the Assembly, work to pass S02406 out of committee and ensure its full passage in the New York State Senate.

Thank you,

I hope those who read this will send these two senators similar emails or faxes. Please be sure to let them know there are real people being affected by the apparent shift of priorities away from nondiscrimination and towards marriage equality.

Thei email addresses:,

I make jokes about hopelessness but I really think it is imperative that these politicians are reminded that GENDA is about survival, it's about having and keeping a paycheck when someone transitions. It's about keeping a roof over your head when you come out to your landlord. It's about being treated with respect and dignity in the public spaces we all have to enter sooner or later. Let's make sure that even if they fail us on GENDA, that we can hold our heads high and say, "It may not have been much, but I did my best!"

Friday, May 8, 2009

E and J Day, NY and GENDA

I think I need to get a laptop computer when I'm in funds again. My desktop compy is in the Library/Office of my house and it takes me out of my kitchen.

I read a blog today, The Curvature that talked about one woman's experience at this year's Equality and Justice Day, in Albany, New York, on April 28th. It echoed a great deal of my experience and also my conclusions. It seemed very clear that, once again, trans people and their issues were pushed behind marriage equality.

When Governor Patterson made the announcement, a few weeks before E&J Day, that he would be introducing a marriage equality bill I was filled with dismay. I thought this would be the year for GENDA, the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act. It was widely known and pretty much accepted that marriage equality legislation had no chance in the state senate. I felt that, finally, the GLB community would have nothing to distract them from their promise of 2002 (when sexual orientation was added to NY nondiscrimination law), that they would, "come back" for gender variant people. The governor's announcement changed all that.

I then realized that this may just be a brilliant political ploy! With all of the right wing opposition to civil marriage equality being highlighted, with all the noise about "protecting marriage," there would be perfect political cover for those who wish to vote for protection while not wishing their center/right constituents to notice. The heat and smoke of a civil marriage debate is perfect for minimizing the political cost, if there ever really was one, of voting yes on GENDA.

I determined that the tone of E&J Day would provide a clue as to how much the GLB community would come to the same conclusion. I figured that the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) would loudly and publicly fan the flames for marriage equality while telling the meeting facilitators to concentrate on GENDA and the Dignity for All Students Act, a bill to protect youth, TLGB youth included, from bullying in schools. Too bad that's not what I perceived. The meeting facilitator for my district was a trans woman from Rochester, New York and we were able to get all three issues on the table. I felt lucky in this because there was no real instructions from the leadership to present GENDA first. As a matter of fact, on one sheet of the handouts, one titled, "What we are seeking from our elected officials," the first issue listed was marriage equality.

Well, I guess I should have expected it, and I guess I did, to a point. So now GENDA finds itself stuck in a senate committee waiting for a vote to get it to the full senate. ESPA is publicizing a call in day, date as yet undetermined, to try to get it moving. I don't expect a lot of GLB support in this, however, so I decided to send a letter, on my own, to the Investigations & Government Operations committee of the New York State Senate:

Dear Senators,

I am writing today to urge you and your colleagues in the Investigations and Government Operations committee to approve of and vote for bill #S02406, commonly known as the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA), in order to pass it on to the full Senate. I believe the need for this bill is critical and that it's passage is long overdue.

While the current furor over same sex civil marriage rights is raging at full force I believe that this bill is more important by way of its impact on people's lives. Those people, like myself, who do not express their gender in stereotypical ways are still vulnerable to harmful discrimination that leads to the loss of jobs and housing along with denial of public services without the benefit of legal recourse. It matters not what sexual orientation a person has, gender identity and expression are separate issues based on identity, not sexual attraction. The Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act (SONDA 2002) does not include gender expression and identity and does not protect us from the kind of harm that New York nondiscrimination law was written to prevent.

Some opponents of this bill have incorrectly concentrated upon the public accommodations portion and specifically on bathrooms, changing and locker rooms. The argument is that a gender identity and expression law would expose women to, or somehow protect, male predators when they enter ladies bathrooms and commit crimes. Examples are not given because they do not exist. The argument is made with no proof or example from the 13 states and almost 100 other counties, cities and towns that already have passed similar laws, the first in 1976! Buffalo, Rochester, Albany and New York City are among those places that have similar laws with no reported problems. The fact is that nondiscrimination law that includes gender expression and identity has never caused the kinds of problems its detractors in New York and elsewhere say it will.

While I consider civil marriage equality to be very important, I believe that GENDA is vital. The ability to marry a same sex sweetheart is pretty worthless if you can't get a job no matter what your qualifications are or if your landlord has thrown you out of your home because he doesn't "rent to your kind." Being married to a person of the same sex doesn't help when a bouncer throws you out of a bathroom or restaurant because some paranoid and ignorant customer made a complaint about your appearance rather than behavior.

In conclusion, I think this bill is vital and will not cause the harm its opponents predict with no evidence. I am asking you as a lifelong, law abiding, citizen of New York State, please join your colleagues in the Assembly, pass S02406 out of your committee and ensure its full passage in the New York State Senate.

I would like to urge everyone who reads this to either copy/paste or write your own letter and send it to the members of the committee. Trans people and their allies cannot rely on anyone else to take their bull by the horns. It's our job. Here are the email addresses:,,,,,,,

I will participate in the ESPA call in day when it's announced. I urge everyone else to also. I want to remember not to rely on organizations whose main focus is the gay and lesbian community, however. Let's help them help us but let's not think we can do nothing else for our own good.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I am thrilled, and grateful

I'm thrilled about all the recent victories around the country for the GLBT community. True marriage equality in two states, Iowa and Vermont, in the space of 4 days! Both of these states had transgender inclusive nondiscrimination laws already in place. I think its wonderful that they did it in that order.

I'm particularly grateful, however, for what happened in New Hampshire where the House actually voted to a do-over on the inclusion of gender identity and expression in their nondiscrimination law after it was defeated the first time around. When they redid their debate and vote enough representatives withstood the dishonest propaganda of those who wanted to continue their discrimination, in order to pass the bill by 1 vote, 188-187. While the bill has an uncertain future in the New Hampshire senate, I think it's absolutely wonderful that the House, and the GLBT people who worked hard for this bill, were willing to go the extra yard for this result.

One thing I rarely, if ever, see written about is how these political issues affect the GLBT community emotionally. Once in a while there's a passing reference but no real sharing of the feelings people go through when they hear about these victories and defeats. For me, perhaps it's only me, it's personal. Maybe it's because I, as a former middle aged white man (well, sorta), came from the most privileged position in our culture before I transitioned. I get angry, really annoyed to the point of shouting at the computer monitor, at some of the dishonest propaganda and lame arguments used to argue against equal protection and treatment of GLBT people under the law. I also, sometimes, get really depressed when I hear of political defeats that came about because of the lies and distortions.

The message that I am not considered worth equal treatment, because my gender identity doesn't match what they told me I was when I was born, on top of the other stressors in my life, will often be the straw that breaks the often fragile moods I find myself in. It's easy to say, and it's reality of course, that these people don't know me, they are not judging me directly, it's not personal. On the other hand, though, the political defeats against equality for trans people are based on their prejudging me. They don't know me but they assume they do. I suspect, perhaps, had I grown up closer to the edges of our society this would just be the same old shit that I'd had to deal with since the beginning of my life. Coming from privilege, however, makes it all the more painful. And all the more real. Perhaps it's like gravity, short falls don't hurt as much as longer ones.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

More about New Hampshire

I received some more news that, unfortunately, does not relieve my suspicions. It turns out that more than 50 New Hampshire House representatives who are members of the Democratic party were absent from the non discrimination vote. I wonder why the representatives who were not present didn't think it was important enough to attend to the non discrimination vote. I assume they were present when the marriage equality vote was taken the day before. Why didn't they know, why didn't they care? Were they not told of how important the non discrimination bill was? Didn't anyone tell them trans people's survival, tied as it is to employment and housing availability, is a bit more important than being able to marry your same sex sweetheart? Why was the marriage vote scheduled first?

I've already been told by one person, but without any proof (I'm supposed to take their word for it), that there is no divide between the GLB and T portions of the community in New Hampshire. I will count that as one small piece of evidence that I may be wrong and it is far from being enough to convince me.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Battles. (or was it three?)

I was very pleased, heartened even, when I heard on Wednesday that Gainesville, Florida had voted no to the cynical and hateful attempt by the so called “Citizens for Good Public Policy,” along with their right wing supporters from the Thomas More Legal Center, to roll back that city’s nondiscrimination law. Their attempt to remove the city law in favor of the much more limited Florida state non discrimination law, using scare tactics based on lies was defeated by 58 to 42% of the voters.

Amendment 1, as it was called, would have rolled back nondiscrimination protections for not only the trans community in Gainesville but also the gay, lesbian and bisexual community as well, since Florida state law does not recognize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as well as gender identity/expression. A strong coalition of GLB as well as T groups and individuals, along with the ACLU and NOW, fought the good fight and beat back the oppressors.

Today, however, I hear that the New Hampshire House defeated a bill that would have included trans people in their non discrimination law. The bill lost by 15 votes, 157-172. The day before this vote was taken, however, the NH House voted to pass a bill that would to make same-sex marriages legal, by a vote of 186-179. This particular coincidence fills me with dismay.

Why? Because the GLB community has been so focused on marriage rights that I suspect they gave non discrimination short shrift in their lobbying efforts. I am not connected with either of the campaigns in Gainesville or New Hampshire so this is conjecture but given past history and my own two eyes on how things work in New York State, I feel pretty safe with my suspicion. I hope to see some information from the trans community in New Hampshire that will make me wrong, but I dare say, I doubt it will come.

It is important to note that sexual orientation was and remains a protected category under New Hampshire non discrimination law. There was zero motivation then, from what I can see, beyond enlightened self interest (since gender expression is often variant within the GLB community) for them to devote the resources it would take to get trans people covered when their marriage rights were on the docket at the same time.

The “predators in bathrooms” lie apparently worked in New Hampshire. It didn’t in Gainesville. While I suppose there are many factors that came into play, I am almost certain the lack of support from the GLB community, distracted as they were by the marriage equality bill in New Hampshire, played a significant part in the defeat. I hope I’ll be proven wrong. I really do, but it’s about the same level of hope that I have for an inclusive ENDA, or the hope I have for real support from the HRC, not just words.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm already married, why should I care?

I traveled to Albany on Tuesday, Feb 3rd, to talk about marriage equality to my state senator, Sen. Cathy Young (Republican and Conservative Party). I didn't get to talk to her, we spoke to one of her aides, so I wonder how much good my visit did to advance marriage equality. I tried to explain to the aide (I wish I had gotten a business card from her, I can't remember her name!) how it is that an trans woman who married before transition and remains married to this day is interested in marriage equality fro the GLBT community. It's actually pretty simple.

My spouse and I married in 1987 after being together for 5 years. I began therapy with an eye towards gender transition in December of 2005. One of our primary concerns was how this would affect our legal standing as a married couple. We found out that, generally speaking, since the marriage was contracted legally at the time, nothing short of death or divorce could dissolve it. Big sigh of relief! Yet, as I moved towards realizing my true self we also realized that our relationship is now that of a same sex couple. A legal same sex marriage, so to speak. (I tell incredulous people that we found a "loophole.") The problem now is that we don't "look" like we could be married! What would happen if one of us should fall ill or be in an accident. What if one of us were arrested? How could we defend our relationship and our rights in a medical or legal setting?

My solution has been to carry a copy of our marriage certificate (with my old name on it, they wouldn't allow it to be changed) and a copy of my name change court order to establish that I am the person named on the certificate. The big problem for me now, though, is that to defend my marriage I, or my spouse, have to out ourselves as a transgendered couple, leaving us both open to the discrimination and prejudice that this label brings. Since I, as a trans woman, am specifically excluded from the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the doctors, nurses or other hospital staff could legally discriminate against me. Of course, that assumes the people whom I have to convince that we are really in a legal marriage, accept the validity of the copies I carry with me. They could stall by refusing to accept them without proof, all of which takes precious time during which one of us could be dying surrounded by strangers. Making same sex marriage legal makes it the norm, hopefully making my defense unnecessary.

Should the unthinkable happen and my spouse and I are separated for any reason it is within the realm of possibility (well, so is winning the lottery!) that I meet someone and that we may want to marry. That brings in all sorts of other problems. I could meet the same horrible fate that Christie Lee Littleton met when her marriage of 7 years was invalidated by a Texas court ( Or I could fall under the same kind of judicial violence as J'Noel Gardiner did in Kansas Both of these cases would not have turned out as they did had equal marriage rights been the law of the land.

So it turns out that I should and DO care about marriage rights. Currently I have to out myself to defend my relationship leaving me open to legal, as well as illegal, discrimination. Some trans activists have pointed out that the fight for GLBT protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which I wholeheartedly support) or ENDA (which I have problems with, even the inclusive version) is much more important than the fight for marriage equality. I agree that they are yet I know I need to stand with the others in my community if I want them to stand for me. If we stand together there's no reason we can't have both issues resolved in our favor.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Keeping my spouse happy

Wow, I need to be more active in the kitchen! So much has happened I’m having a hard time deciding what to talk about! I could talk about my trip to Albany last Tuesday, sponsored by Marriage Equality New York (MENY) or I could make some noise about Kim Petras and how envious I am. I could mention some of my arguments with bigots in the Topix Transgender forums, Eventually I think I’ll complain about how ENDA is not nearly enough and that we ought to be specifically included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The one most recent issue that I’ve run up against, though, is the conflict between my activism and my family. As I mentioned in my introductory blog entry, my spouse has encountered more direct criticism of my transition and her decision to stay with me than I have. It’s why I use a pseudonym for my activities on the internet, although my picture and home town designation makes it pretty clear, to those who know us, who I am. I feel a strong need to write about and actively work for my, and my community’s, equal rights. I realize my activism may put me at risk, a risk that I feel is necessary. Yet I have to weigh that risk for myself against the involuntary risk my spouse has to shoulder. I spend a lot of time with her. Someone who targets me because they don’t like what I am or what I stand for can easily include her, purposefully or not, into whatever malevolence they wish to perpetrate. Her living is directly affected by my ability to get and keep a job, for instance.

Another issue is that my spouse has cerebral palsy. She does quite well, only needing a wheelchair outside the house, and does an amazing job keeping things running here on the home front. In her eyes, my responsibility to her is sometimes compromised if my activism takes me away from home. She’s right, I think, although she is a very capable woman (has always had to be, to deal with the like of me!) my first responsibility, willingly and lovingly accepted, is to her. Even though she is a member of the trans community, as a “significant other,” and the issues I work on: non-discrimination laws and marriage equality, affect her in profound ways she seems more inclined to take a role in the deep background and wishes I would do the same. She certainly wishes I would at least shut up about it once in awhile!

I can't, though. I can't shut up about how trans people and the rest of the GLBT community are treated in this country.

Better Late Than Never:

Well! I found this one in my draft section all the while thinking I published this one. So, here it is, under the heading, Better Late Than Never:

Wow, I need to be more active in the kitchen! So much has happened I’m having a hard time deciding what to talk about! I could talk about my trip to Albany last Tuesday, sponsored by Marriage Equality New York (MENY) or I could make some noise about Kim Petras and how envious I am. I could mention some of my arguments with bigots in the Topix Transgender forums, Eventually I think I’ll complain about how ENDA is not nearly enough and that we ought to be specifically included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The one most recent issue that I’ve run up against, though, is the conflict between my activism and my family. As I mentioned in my introductory blog entry, my spouse has encountered more direct criticism of my transition and her decision to stay with me than I have. It’s why I use a pseudonym for my activities on the internet, although my picture and home town designation makes it pretty clear, to those who know us, who I am. I feel a strong need to write about and actively work for my, and my community’s, equal rights. I realize my activism may put me at risk, a risk that I feel is necessary. Yet I have to weigh that risk for myself against the involuntary risk my spouse has to shoulder. I spend a lot of time with her. Someone who targets me because they don’t like what I am or what I stand for can easily include her, purposefully or not, into whatever malevolence they wish to perpetrate. Her living is directly affected by my ability to get and keep a job, for instance.

Another issue is that my spouse has cerebral palsy. She does quite well, only needing a wheelchair outside the house, and does an amazing job keeping things running here on the home front. In her eyes, my responsibility to her is sometimes compromised if my activism takes me away from home. She’s right, I think, although she is a very capable woman (has always had to be, to deal with the like of me!) my first responsibility, willingly and lovingly accepted, is to her. Even though she is a member of the trans community, as a “significant other,” and the issues I work on: non-discrimination laws and marriage equality, affect her in profound ways she seems more inclined to take a role in the deep background and wishes I would do the same. She certainly wishes I would at least shut up about it once in awhile!

I can't, though. I can't shut up about how trans people and the rest of the GLBT community are treated in this country.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

". . . really a man."

Hi! Happy to see you again! I've been stewing about this for quite awhile and was just recently reminded, once again, about a basic assumption that lies beneath much of the transphobia we see in this country and, indeed, around the world.

On the heels of a double murder involving a trans woman and her partner in Indianapolis over the past holidays, we have news of another atrocity, less violent but still heinous, coming out of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana who ruled that a transitioning woman was justifiably fired for violated her employer’s dress code . . . for men! Once again a judicial body denied the reality (and the supporting science) of what it is to be a transsexual person and it seems to me that this denial, the idea that “what you are born as is what you are, no matter what” is at the bottom of much, if not most, of the prejudicial discrimination we have to deal with in our lives.

In Creed v. Family Express Corporation (2009 Westlaw 35237), Chief Judge Robert L. Miller ruled that a transitioning trans woman was, for the purposes of the law, really a man. That Family Express Corporation’s actions because Ms. Creed didn’t follow the male dress code (from what I understand, she did follow the female dress code) her dismissal was justified and allowable.

Those three words, “really a man” are, some of the most hateful things I can hear because it completely flies in the face of my experience and personal narrative. It completely disregards my right to define myself and essentially insists that I’m a liar when I present myself in a feminine social role. This adds irony to injury when I consider how mendacious I felt when I still pretended to be a man. It was that sense of living a lie that provided a huge motivation behind my decision to transition.

When trans people are assaulted and murdered, trans panic defenses are grounded on the statement that, “I found out he/she/it was really a man and I freaked out because of that and I couldn’t help myself and . . . and . . . , etc.” The thought that the poor victim was “really a man” is held forth as justification for the violence. After all, it’s not OK to hit a woman! This idea is also the driving force behind the hateful TV ad that “Citizens for Good Public Policy” ran to lobby against the non-discrimination law in Gainesville, Florida. If someone thinks that trans women are really men in disguise it makes perfect sense to fear them, after all they are being dishonest about who the really are! Who knows what other crimes and perversions are in their minds?

When portions of the feminist community institute rules denying trans women’s entry to “woman only spaces,” justifying their prejudice using the “womyn born womyn” meme , and when we read trans women being described as “male to reconstructed females” it’s based on the fact that we were born male and that we are, “really men in disguise.” Again, a total denial of the validity of trans women’s experiences and lives, not to mention a violation of their deeply held belief that biology does not equal destiny. When gay men insist that a trans woman should just stop pretending and get over the fact that he’s gay, they fall into the same assumption: That the trans woman in question is really a (gay) man, not who they say they are.

If I meet someone new and they start talking to a mutual acquaintance about me, if that mutual acquaintance tells them, "yeah, but did you know she was really a man?" and then I get assaulted and/or murdered for supposedly deceiving people (because that piece of gossip was just tooo juicy to keep to one's self) it's the "really a man" belief that drives that anger. After all, if I was really a woman, there would be no reason to even discuss me in those terms.

When I’m out with my spouse and we meet someone who knew us before transition, it often happens that I’ll get a handshake and she will get a hug. Or I’ll get a hug and she will get a hug and a kiss on the cheek. This even happens with people who are dear friends, who support us and love us. Yet they cannot get that “really a man” thing out of their heads so they treat me other than the way they treat my partner. I’m not sure they realize when they are doing this or even consider how much it hurts and I’m not sure if they did realize it, that they would be able to change the behavior. That “really a man” thing seems to sit very deep in a person’s paradigm.

That basic assumption, the belief that men are men and women are women and they can try to be but aren’t “really” the opposite gender, is what drives all too much transphobia. Combine that with the misogyny that we see mixed in and it becomes impossible to not realize that we need more than just job protection under ENDA. We need Congress to amend Title VII itself to specifically and unambiguously include sexual orientation, expression and identity. Once that happens, we may still be considered really men in the eyes of many, but it will be, at least, illegal all over the country for them to hurt us because of it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bratwüst, Sauerkraut und Kartoffel

Welcome back! What's that smell? It's my sauerkraut simmering and I was just getting ready to fry the bratwurst.

My parents immigrated to the US from Germany in 1953, a year and a half before I was born so German food and culture were always a very large part of my growing up. Our neighborhood, Ridgewood, NY, located right on the border between Queens and Brooklyn, was heavily populated by German speaking immigrants. We thus had a good number of stores in the neighborhood that were run by other German immigrants and catered to the local German tastes. There were at least three German butcher shops, wurst (sausage) being an integral part of German cuisine - over 1500 varieties, I read once - at least 2 or three German bakers and more than a few delicatessens. One of the dishes my mom made was Bratwürst, Sauerkraut und Kartoffel. The sauerkraut was not just unceremoniously dumped from the jar into a pot for heating, not by a long shot. She had a specific way of cooking it that made it taste so much better. I use her recipe and have added a thing or two as the years have gone by.

First of all, I use Bavarian style sauerkraut. You can tell it's Bavarian if it has caraway seed in it. I buy it in a jar, I think it's 15 oz. I put it in a saucepan and add 1 jar full of water. Some people who don't like it to be too sour may rinse it a bit in a strainer (but not too much!) before placing it the pan but I like it the way it comes out of the jar. I then add one container's worth of water to the pot.

I start that up on medium heat and while it comes to a boil I roughly grate a medium to large sized carrot and toss that in. If there's some in the house I often use a medium carrot and add about 3/4 cup chopped sweet (like a Vidalia or Mayan sweet) onion too. Once it comes to a boil I reduce it to a simmer and go to peel the potatoes.

I use regular white potatoes. I peel, cut into halve or quarters and boil them in salt water. That's all that needs to be done with them. One small, or a half of a larger potatoe is reserved. I grate it using the next to last smallest side of my 4 sided grater. The finely grated potatoe is added to the sauerkraut to cut the sourness and to slightly thicken the water it's cooking in. A little more simmering, a pinch of sugar to balance the sourness and maybe a bit of salt, both to taste, and it's ready for the next step.

While the kraut is simmering I start frying the bratwürst. In my old neighborhood we could get authentic German sausages in more than one place. Nowadays, the closest thing I can find to those bratwürst are locally known as Johnsonville Brats. I like to fry at least three to 5 of them over medium heat in a rather large pan. The pan needs to be large enough to hold the sausages as well as the sauerkraut. A braising pan would be ideal, I guess, but I haven't got one. I fry the sausages and might even pierce them in a couple places to let some of the fats run out. When they are well browned and thoroughly cooked, I push them to the side of the pan and dump the pot of sauerkraut in. After the noise and steam quiets I stir and deglaze the pan with the sauerkraut.

I serve the sauerkraut over the boiled potatoes, mashed by a fork on the plate, with a brat or two on the side. Beer is almost a requirement as an accompaniment.

I've received many advantages from my bicultural upbringing. I'm bilingual and have the benefit of being able to live within and compare two vibrant cultures. The local "Bund" (get more than 2 Germans in one place and they form a Bund, lol) offered classes which taught me basic reading and writing in German, even though I hated the classes by the time I was a preteen. My peers in school and in the neighborhood had similar backgorunds, yet through it all I never felt as if I was like them, although I deperately tried to be. I never had the words to express it though, I never knew what kept me from feeling truly included. By the time I hit my teenaged years I was lost but still couldn't figure out what made me do and like the things I did, things that I "knew" other guys didn't do. Puberty was devestating in many ways, especially at its beginning, but I had no clue why. All because I had no frame of reference, no knowledge or vocabulary to describe who I was. It wasn't until I was 20 years old that I finally figured out, I had "a womans soul even though my body was male." Of course, in 1975, this was not something that was talked about except in sensationalistic and derisive ways. I can remember reading about Nancy Hunt and Jan Morris and feeling a bit envious and then quickly telling myself that I would never, could never, be like that. The only strategy that I could envision was to push this thing deep, live with it the best way I could and never, ever, ever tell a living soul about it.

I've transitioned from male to female now and have been living as my true self for more than a year already. I fit in so much better with women than I ever did with men yet I am still painfully aware of the fact that my past was so different from theirs. It makes me wonder if I will ever feel truly a part of any group, other than a group of people with similar histories yet I do know that I have done the right thing, that this was what was meant to be for this life and I cannot even imagine the prospect of never having transitioned, or having to transition back to being male.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Have you heard about that thing in Gainesville, Florida?

C’mon in, stay awhile! There’s fresh coffee in the machine over there and hot water for tea, if you like. There may even be a cookie or two left in the jar, help yourself! Have you heard about that thing in Gainesville, Florida? You know, the petition drive to repeal a nondiscrimination law? They ran an ad on TV that showed a kinda scruffy looking man going into a public ladies room after a cute little blond white girl had gone in. As if he was gonna go in and hurt that poor little thing. It was really scary, that ad, and I got all upset until the thought stuck me: How does this have anything to do with protecting marginalized people from discrimination? Here, you can watch it for yourself:

Seems to me that any position that has to stoop to that level of dishonesty is morally bankrupt right from the start. Gay and trans people are no more likely to molest kids than any other person. The so called “scientific” studies that reportedly proved that they did have bee thoroughly discredited, You can see that here, Another thing that puts the lie to that sort of propaganda is that it simply doesn’t happen! First of all, there’s no law that would keep a criminal out of a public opposite sex restroom if they wanted to go in there, dressed in opposite sex clothes or not. Criminals, by definition, break laws. Yet these ads never give any examples of when and where it happened before! The reason for that is they can’t. There are anti-discrimination laws that protect GLBT people in may places around the country. I doubt I’d be far off in saying that the “bathroom issue” was raised every time these laws were considered. And since these laws have passed, there have been no instances of a trans person molesting someone in a public bathroom! You can be sure if there were, we’d be hearing about it over and over again from the people who want to keep their prejudicial discrimination privileges intact. I guess those people figure the ads are so emotionally intense that people won’t think much past their false assumptions. I sure hope me and mine are smarter than that.

The most ironic thing about ads and propaganda like that is that female to male people, trans men, would be forced to use public ladies rooms if the opponents of this law had their way. (How to enforce a law like that is another whole topic. Can you imagine??) A person who looked just like the man in that ad could be forced to use a ladies room because he was born with a vagina! Ridiculous, isn’t it? And, I have to wonder, if a trans man were forced by some kind of law like that to go into a ladies room, I’ll bet he’d be careful and kinda sneaky looking just before he went in too because he’d be the target of a lot of trouble, maybe even more than a trans woman in a public men’s room. The net result is that trans people would be kept from using any bathroom, I guess. It’s happened just last week, in Texas

Seems some people will say or do anything in order to push other people around, or get their way. Tsk! Sigh.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Welcome to my kitchen!

Hi everyone! Welcome to my kitchen!

I like to talk while I'm in my kitchen, maybe about politics, maybe about philosophy, perhaps even swapping a recipe or two. It's a warm and friendly place for me and I hope it will be for others too. Why a kitchen? Certainly not to promote stereotypes. I think the kitchen is a place where community can truly be formed. Within families, with friends, with neighbors. The combination of good food and drink along with conversation, both serious and silly, seems to me to be the most conducive to making, maintaining and nurturing relationships.

I suppose I ought to introduce myself. Here's what I tell people about myself when I'm in a chat room that I help moderate:

Emelye is a woman who is pretty much done transitioning (except for one last annoying detail - grrrr!) and who lives her mundane life with her spouse, and an orange cat named Jeeter, in Southwestern New York State. She started living full time as her true self in August of ‘07. She has a wide range of interests and will talk about almost anything. She loves to answer questions because it makes her look smart!

So yeah, I am a trans woman. I'll talk a lot about that, I'm sure. I'm also married to a wonderful woman who has stuck by me through my entire transition. I'll be telling some stories about what we've gone through these past three years as I have transitioned. It's mainly for her sake that I use a pseudonym, Emelye Waldherr is not my legal name. I've found that people have been very willing to vocally condemn and abandon her as friends (and family) while at the same time being unwilling or afraid to come to me directly, something that has alternately made me weep with frustration and guilt or shake with anger. As with many (most?) spouses who stay with their transitioned partners, she has suffered the greatest loss, one she never could have imagined when we married. To have her suffer this addional inequity often makes my blood boil.

That said, we have now been able to work our way through to new life that is significantly different from our old one in many ways yet strikingly similar to the "old days" in even more ways. I still go to work. She still stays home. We still have friends and family even though the composition of that group has changed markedly. We still try to make our way through life much the same way as we did before. Funny that, go figure.