Thursday 20 Jun 2013

Delaware Now 17th State to Have Trans Protections

According to the article on "after a procedural vote in the Senate on Wednesday, Gov. Jack Markell signed legislation that outlaws discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, offering protection to transgender Delawareans in housing, insurance, employment and public accommodations."

This makes Delaware the 17th state in the US to add protection based on gender identity. 

What does this mean? It means that protections and recognition of equality are continuing to be pushed forward in our nation, even though we have some bumps along the way. 

The news of Delaware's vote comes off the heels of last week's announcement that the Social Security Administration would no longer require a transgender individual to have surgery in order to have their documentation/gender changed within the SS database. Like what we see for the issuing of a new passport in the US and protocol from many state's DMVs, transgender individuals can now provide a letter from their medical provider stating they are under the care and living as the gender they identify as. 

To learn more about this current change in policy please visit the National Center for Transgender Equality website. The director of NCTE, Mara Keisling has stated that, Most readers won’t know that the updated policies announced last week by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are among the most humane and important public policy advancements for transgender people during the Obama administration or even ever.

I'm sure there will be many more exciting changes to come over the next several months. 


Monday 21 Jan 2013

Where We Are, and Where We Are Going

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is MLK Day. 

For people who are part of the LGBT community, I feel it is important for us to use this day to reflect back on where we currently are, and where we see ourselves going in both our personal lives and as a community seeking equal rights. 

You don't have to be involved in politics to be an advocate and to speak about the things that matter. Advocacy takes shape in many forms. For instance, being open and honest with yourself and then allowing other people to truly know you, is a way of advocating for equal rights. 

For those that are more involved in the political terrain of LGBT rights, this could mean fighting for your own state or vocalizing support for others states that currently do not support marriage equality. It means for people in the LGB community to vocalize support for people in the transgender community who are also at risk of not having a relationship validated, losing a job because of an aspect of their identity, or being kicked out of their home because they don't fit into the expectations that others have for them. 

As we continue to see rights gained in some sectors but not others, we must not forget those who are still struggling. 

The LGBT community in the U.S. has truly made amazing strides even in the past decade. We have done this because we refuse to remain silent, and refuse to let others push us into a category or label that does not define our being. 

The more we are authentic with ourselves, the more we can be authentic with others. 

"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom." Martin Luther King Jr.
Thursday 25 Oct 2012

To All Who Vote or Want To

Tomorrow is the last day to register to vote! Go out, speak up and protect our lives, bodies and love!

If you have time, please watch this video:
Wednesday 24 Oct 2012

Illinois Progress & Defeat this Week for Trans

There have been some interesting stories in the news this week that go beyond Honey Boo Boo and the down and dirty, cut-throat politics that have become the United State's little Coliseum.

The stories are issues affecting transgender and gender nonconforming students and individuals in the state of Illinois (or born in Illinois but reside somewhere else today).

Let's start with the news that made my blood boil and end with something that although is not better.

On Tuesday I reached for my non-existent blood pressure pills (I'm practicing for what is inevitable in my life) when I read a story about the East Aurora School board passing a policy that would have allowed protections for transgender and gender nonconforming students. Such protections included teachers using the name and pronoun that the student preferred to go by, protecting students' identities and finding ways for them to participate in sports and physical education without outing them, and having the school administration work with each student on a case-by-case basis. 

I've been working with several schools on these very issues and so to read this policy I felt that this school was going in the right least for 5 days, before they rescinded the policy due to pressure from a group that I call just another hate group full of bullies operating under the term "christian"....they call themselves, the Illinois Family Institute, a conservative christian ministry. 

After hearing the groaning and moaning from this "christian" group, the school board decided they wanted to be fair so they rescinded the policy, even though actual parents (you know the people who have the kids who actually go to that school) said they were okay with the policy and they wanted their school to be safe for ALL students. 

If you live near this school district or have kids or family that go there, I encourage you to use your voice and fight these hate groups that so easily push people around. 

On to a brighter topic. The Illinois Department of Public Health has put into place a new decree (approved by a judge today) that has removed the need for genital reassignment surgery in order to change one's gender marker on their birth certificate. The downside, is that they are saying they still require some type of surgery, but what qualifies for that surgery is best determined by the individual's physician. Although removing the need for genital surgery has removed a huge burden for folks, the need for some type of surgery and the added approval from a physician's view creates a potential barrier for trans individuals.

For some, this won't be an issue because they are seeking some form of surgery and they have a great, knowledgeable physician...for those that do not want any form of surgery, do not have the financial means to complete any form of surgery, or are under the care of a stricter physician, this can still create problems.

We need to be aware of this and continue to advocate, but we also should appreciate the changes that we are seeing in these policies. A part of me is happy that the state hasn't defined what constitutes a gender change because that broad/gray area may allow people more flexibility, but the other part recognizes how that gray area can be a barrier. 

If you have an opinion, feel free to write it below. 

Article on East Aurora can be read here.

Article on the new birth certificate policy can be read here.


Thursday 6 Sep 2012

Chicago Police Force Adopts New Trans Policy

Over the past few years there have been many positive changes for people in the transgender community. Change in policies, ordinances, tax deductions, passports, etc. It is great to see another change happening in Chicago that will hopefully improve the treatment of trans individuals that come into contact with police officers. 

The transgender community in Chicago, particularly trans women of color have been horribly victimized by both the general community and by law enforcement. Sadly, the community has also suffered a string of murders these past few months that leaves us all questioning, when will we be safe? And who can we turn to to help protect us from violence?

The policy that the Police Department has put into place effective August 22nd, 2012 will hopefully help those of us in the trans community begin to build a new relationship with law enforcement. 

According to the Windy City Times, here is what the policy mandates:
"The order mandates that police not search transgender people in an attempt to determine their gender, that officers respect preferred names and pronouns for transgender detainees and that they not use someone's gender identity as assumed cause for a crime. It further bans derogatory language against trans people."

To read more about the mandate scroll through GoPride's site for current news.

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