Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Today is Dyana Mason’s last day as the Executive Director of Equality Virginia. Over the last six years, she built integrity into Equality Virginia’s mission. It was no longer Virginians for Justice, or Richmond's good old boys club. Mason, her team and the newly expanded Board of Directors added teeth to the Virginians for Justice paper tiger.
Notably, Mason and her team mobilized thousands of Transgender, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Gay volunteers to protest Virginia’s anti same sex marriage amendment Virginia House Bill 751. Mason and team were outspoken against many injustices committed against the Virginian Queer population including The Human Rights Campaign’s - HRC major faux pas of sponsoring a non-inclusive ENDA and using Transgender people as a bargaining chip. She organized the Virginia Transgender Caucus paving the way for all-inclusive legislation in Virginia including anti discrimination laws and hate crime laws. With Mason’s support this past year, a series of statewide seminars were held discussing Transgender issues.
The ball is in Equality Virginia’s court to select another Executive Director who has the knowledge and skills Mason is taking with her. The choice is theirs to move forward with a qualified Executive Director or not. In any event, Dyana Mason will be missed. It will be difficult to fill her shoes.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Comment by Yvo Manuel Vas Dias on December 26, 2008 at 3:03pm "Dear De you can re post this article to your blog." "About the conditions in Europe. In every country in Europe there is a different law for transsexuals. In the Netherlands your become a men by law if you can't have children anymore but for instance in Portugal you have to do all surgery to become a men or a woman.By law there is not one Transgender Europe. The EU is working on it. But this will take a lot of time. Most of the time they take about LGB and not about the T. The last years "in different country in Europe" more transgender where killed on the street for who they are. For transwoman some treatment are not insured anymore they have to pay it by them self. That is very sad because it will take more time for transition. In spite of all the sad things are happening in Europe transgender become more open, set up networks, work together with other organizations on transgender issuess and become more a part of society." Special thanks to Yvo for allowing me to use his comments and inviting me to be a member of Transgender Religion Global Network.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Have you heard the statement European countries are more accepting of Transgender people than here in the United States? This is a very general statement. It is not entirely accurate. Granted, there are countries in Europe that are more Transgender inclusive than others. This can be said of the United States. Many of our Transgender brothers and sisters have flocked to San Francisco to take advantage of its friendly Trans climate. The very issues American Transgender people face every day are faced in Europe as well. The roots of the binary gender construct, sexism and patriarchy come from Europe and beyond. In Europe today, there is hate and discrimination directed towards Transgender people. Health care, lack of employment and affordable housing are issues faced by all Transgender people throughout many parts of the world and not just in the United States. Our Dutch Transgender brother and fellow activist, Yvo Manuel Vas Dias addressed these issues when he posted this article in his blog, “Transgender people face fear and hate across Europe” from the E U Observer. The grass is not greener in Europe or in any other part of the world. Ignorance and apathy about Transgender issues are prevalent. Our job as Transgender activists is to educate the general public about Transgender issues. Be active in raising public awareness about Transgender issues. Finally, our job would not be any easier in Europe, Asia or South America. Our job is here wherever you live not where you might think things are better.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
If you belong to any minority, the "boogie being" of ignorance is out there and will attack you when you least expect it. It does not matter if you are Transgender; Gay; Lesbian; Bisexual; A Person of Color or Ethnicity; or the parent, friend or partner of a person belonging to a minority. You are in harm's way. Yesterday, I felt the sting of discrimination. A corporation told me that they could not use my services as a business consultant because I am Transgender. At first, I was angry. Now, my anger has turned into determination. Let me give you some background. I contracted to this particular international corporation as a business consultant for several years before I transitioned. All objectives were met on every contract. To the best of my knowledge, there was nothing negative in my work history. I was highly successful. I stopped contracting to them when their business went south. I transitioned at the same time. Today, their business is back and they are recruiting new, inexperienced contractors. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain so I called them. They would have hired me on the spot but I was honest and upfront about being Transgender. I was told they would have to think about it. Their main concern was how their clients would accept a Transgender person. There appeared to be very little consideration about how valuable my skills and experience would be in overcoming any obstacles. It should be noted this company says on its web site it is an equal opportunity employer. These are hollow and cowardly words considering how I was treated. The fact remains some people are treated more equal than others when The Trans “Boogie Person” of ignorance attacks. I was just another person discarded because of who and what I am. Skills are wasted because of Transphobia, Homophobia or any other sort of ignorance based phobia. Okay, unidentified corporation you can now stand in line with The United States Military and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". Hang your head in shame. I read at some point that a phobia is a baseless fear, which comes from ignorance. Could it be true, those who are Trans phobic have more to hide than meets the eye? Are the biggest Phobics the biggest Queers? A more exact definition from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia might be:
“A number of terms with the suffix -phobia are primarily understood as negative attitudes towards certain categories of people or other things, used in an analogy with the medical usage of the term. Usually these kinds of "phobias" are described as fear, dislike, disapproval, prejudice, hatred, discrimination, or hostility towards the object of the "phobia". Often this attitude is based on prejudices and is a particular case of general xenophobia. Class discrimination is not always considered a phobia in the clinical sense because it is believed to be only a symptom of other psychological issues, or the result of ignorance, or of political or social beliefs. In other words, unlike clinical phobias, which are usually qualified with disabling fear, class discrimination usually has roots in social relations.” from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phobia#Terms_indicating_prejudice_or_class_discrimination
There was a negative attitude projected towards me and all other Trans people by this company. It was the perception of a perception. This company fears how other companies might perceive and disapprove of me as a Transgender person. Remember, there is no basis for this fear. It is just an ungrounded perception. Discrimination is a direct result of ignorance.
We have a long way to go in educating the world of ignorance about Transgender and eradicating discrimination. In the meantime, keep the faith as we unite in solidarity and make our voices heard!
Friday, December 19, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Black market shopping for hormones can be a risky and expensive business. Many hormone dealers sell their own prescriptions at exorbitant rates. There is no consideration for dosage. The naïve are encouraged by the dealers to buy as much as they can afford to get quick results. There is no professional medical care to check hormone levels, or risk for related disease. Why do Transgender people buy black market hormones? The answer is fairly simple. These people are under insured or uninsured. They lack the financial resources to pay for the proper medical care. Even if they can afford proper medical care, there is a shortage of properly trained physicians who truly understand Hormone Replacement Therapy – HRT for Transgender people. Plus, there are very few physicians who even understand the term Transgender. Stories abound about Transgender patients being refused treatment for basic non-Transgender issues such as ear infections, physicals or basic dental work once it is determined that someone is Transgender. Yes, there are medical practitioners who fear the Trans “boogie person.” There is an urgent need for a greater awareness and sensitivity within the medical community about Transgender persons and an established standard of care for Transgender people is urgently needed. "Many participants experienced barriers to access to regular medical care due to hostility and insensitivity of medical providers. Negative experiences with care providers (especially with female-to-male participants accessing gynecological care) resulted in nondisclosure of transgender status or avoidance of necessary medical care. Lack of insurance and identity documentation problems were also barriers to access. Some participants also experienced poor care relationships with mental health care providers who lacked clinical experience with transgender people or believed that transgender-ism is a mental illness. Participants who did not access mental health care had negative attitudes towards it due to traditional mental illness stigma and feelings that being transgender was not a mental illness. Those seeking psychotherapy had great difficulties finding mental health providers who were compassionate, experienced, and competent." From: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/DiseasePrevention/Programs/HCPC/documents/TG%20Focus%20Group%20Report%20final%201.3.pdf This does not take into consideration Transgender specific needs as the following quote from the Virginia Department of Health defines. "The literature also suggests that transgender people experience barriers to health care access. Transgender people have been denied health care services such as transgender -related care and HIV prevention services (Bowen, 1995; Reback et al., 2001). Lack of knowledgeable providers (JSI Research & Training Institute, 2000), insensitivity or hostility by providers (Xavier, 2000), and lack of health insurance (JSI Research & Training Institute; Reback et al.; Xavier) were also found to be barriers to obtaining general and transgender -related health care. Lack of access to a doctor may hinder the general health of transgender people during the course of their lives." "Survey two respondents were also asked if they had difficulty obtaining general health and transgender-related health services because of cost. Specifically, they were asked about their ability to gain access to general medical care, prescription medication other than hormones, hormones, gender-related surgery, counseling or therapy, and dental care. About half (51.5 percent) of respondents had difficulty gaining access to one or more of these services. Almost two-fifths (39.1 percent) of MTFs were unable to gain access to at least one health service due to cost, but almost two-thirds of FTMs (73.0 percent) were unable to do so." From: http://www.helen-hill.com/pdf/sexuality/transgenderhealthphiladelphia.pdf Transgender people in Hampton Roads who are uninsured or under-insured were left without recourse to medical and mental health care until this year when the ACCESS AIDS Transgender Health Clinic (TLC) opened in Norfolk. Following is a statement made by the clinic’s manager, Mansi Master. “After being open for nine months, the clinic has seen over fifty clients. It is a free clinic devoted solely to Transgender health care. They offer confidential HIV testing, health screening and prescriptions for hormone therapy. The clinic is open on Fridays from 1 PM to 5 PM at Park Place Medical Center, 3415 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA. Clinic sessions are by appointment only. Walk-ins are not allowed. A photo ID and social security card are required for intake. To make an appointment, need more information or have questions, please call 757-625-6992 extension 44 or email Mmaster@accessaids.org.” Saundra Winstead, MD is the principle physician at the above clinic and practices medicine at Park Place Medical Center. If you are insured and can afford it, it is possible to become a regular patient at Park Place Medical. Doctor Winstead is knowledgeable about HRT for Transgender people. She and her staff are very sensitive to the needs of Transgender people. To summarize, Transgender people in Hampton Roads and throughout the country need medical care, as do all people. There is no excuse for any medical practioner to refuse a client because they are Transgender. In my opinion nobody should ever be denied medical or mental health care by any provider but that is the thread of another blog entry on free universal health care. "Demand for access to transgender care – principally hormonal therapy – was very high and offers potential as a risk reduction method. The General Theory of Risk Reduction in Transgender Populations4 is based upon the simple premise that people who are happier in their bodies tend to take better care of them. Affording transgender people a medically safe means of transforming their bodies would improve their self-esteem and bodily comfort, producing bodies worth protecting. Possible results of the application of this theory would include a lower likelihood of engaging in self-medication of hormones, injection silicone use and substance abuse, and a greater likelihood of practicing safer sex. Study results support the following recommendations for consideration by VDH and VHCPC. Successful implementation of some of these recommendations would require high levels of cooperation between state and local agencies." From: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/DiseasePrevention/Programs/HCPC/documents/TG%20Focus%20Group%20Report%20final%201.3.pdf
Monday, December 8, 2008
Virginia Transgender people are particularly vulnerable in regard to employment discrimination. Under Virginia and Federal Law, there is no legislation against employment discrimination due to a person’s gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. All Transgender, Gender Variant and Non-conforming, Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual people are left unprotected against employment discrimination in Virginia. Virginia is a "right to work" state. This has made Virginia and all other “right to work” states a right to discriminate state. In a right to discriminate state, employees are protected from having to join unions. An employee can leave a job at will. Big deal! The under lying truth is that “right to work” allows employers to terminate employment without cause and to discriminate at will for any reason including discrimination against the emplyees gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation. What does any of this to do with one's ability to do a job, pay taxes or work to improve one's community? Currently, in Virginia, there is no legal recourse against any form of discrimination. This includes State of Virginia employees. Governor Tim Kaine issued an Executive Order on his first day in office to protect state employees from workplace discrimination, which includes sexual orientation, but it does not include gender identity, or gender expression. It does not address all citizens of the Commonwealth. It will expire when the next Governor is elected in 2010. In 2008, Virginia House Bill 1493 was introduced into committee to support ending employment discrimination for State employees. This Bill was inclusive with regard to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. It stalled in committee. Thus, even employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia would be subject to any form of discrimination, as far as the Code of Virginia is concerned. Thank goodness for Governor Kaine's Executive Order and Federal statues protecting some, but not all, people against discriminatory acts in the work place. The Commonwealth of Virginia needs to take a stand for equal rights for all people. One would think it is fundamental that any person who performs their job as expected, pays taxes, and contributes to their community should not face discrimination of any sort. President-elect Obama's transition team has stated on its official web site Change Government: “The Obama-Biden Transition Project does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law.” The initial reaction by conservatives and the “religious wrong” to the President-elect’s equal employment opportunity statement was to be expected. Statements were issued about men wearing dresses in the White House. They brought up the dark, ominous bathroom issue. This is the best they could do. At the end of the day, it does not matter what clothes a person wears or which bathroom they use. A person’s skills and talents are what is important. Thoughout history, bigots have used similar sophmoric, uninformed and unsupported statements when they spew their venom. The Obama-Biden Transition Project's EEO statement paves the way for the passing of a Federal, all-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act – ENDA. Yes, this might make certain corporations take a look at and rethink their employment policies and practices, if they currently discriminate towards LGBTQ people or anyone else who is non-conforming. Jobs are protected. Morale is up. Employees are more productive. This is good news considering todays depressed economy. Time will tell how well the new administration practices what they preach. The citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia voted for change last November. Virginia needs to enter the 21st Century by being proactive and not reactionary. It is time for the Virginia General Assembly to recognize that all people are equal and should be protected from all forms of discrimination throughout our great Commonwealth. How can you make this happen? It is easy. Email or call your Virginia State Senator and Delegates to let them know how you feel about equal rights for all people including Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual people. Make yourself heard! Let them know you expect change in Virginia now, not later. I suspect they will be listening considering the election results in November.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
It is tragic to have a day without anyone. A very wise man once told me that no one should ever be discarded or thrown away. In effect, the LGBTQ population has been thrown away with all of its talents, and skills. The United States Military has mandated that LGBTQ people are dispensable, if they tell anyone their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Military speaks from two sides of its mouth with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." On one hand, the Military, as well as much of the American Establishment including the "Religious Wrong" says, "OK, you LGBTQ people. We do not care to understand who and what you are. We are judgemental. We know for sure we are better than you. Look, even the bible tells us so. Now, if you hide who and what you are and just do your job being cannon fodder, waiting tables, or dressing hair we will tolerate you." These folks just don't get it. They don't get that if they pick ten people they know at random they will pick at least one, if not more, LGBTQ person. It could be their neighbor, their child, their co-worker, their boss, their senator, their general, or even their minister. Hmm, so for instance if you know your boss is LGBTQ then you should tell them they should leave their position. You should tell your boss they are no good and have no skills. You would tell your boss, your child, or your neighbor that they are an abomination. Right? Wrong! To make matters worse, tremendous skills are being wasted due to ignorance and bigotry. Folks, this a no-brainer and getting really boring. Supposedly, all people are equal in the United States. Civil rights are just that. Let any person get a civil marriage. It is not a religious organization's business as to what the government does for the people and of the people. If you do not want to allow two men or two women to marry in your churches that's your choice to be a bigot. Keep your collective noses out of civil rights. They do not belong there. Oh, if you are getting ready to quote scripture, please check to see if your "glass house" is in order. I support my Gay brothers, Lesbian sisters, Bisexual cousins, Pansexual cousins, Transgender siblings and Intersexed family. The entire LGBTQI should boycott all non inclusive businesses and organizations for not just a day but until these entities decide and recognize LGBTQI people as being valuable people who are just trying to live their lives as people. LGBTQI people deserve equal civil rights. Action is demanded. Talk is cheap!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Virginia Anti Violence Project
Donate $20 to the Virginia Anti-Violence Project Launch Party!!!
WHEN: December 13, 2008 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
WHERE: Harrison Street Coffee Shop, 402 N. Harrison St., Richmond, Virginia Award presentation at 8pm
Suggested donation $20
The VAVP is an incredibly worthwhile organization. I am excited to know that the Virginia Anti-Violence Project is in the process of becoming its own organization and to be a part of this transition of the emerging VAVP! The VAVP is reaching for community, solidarity, and liberation and they need each of us to reach with them! The event is from 6 to 10pm with heavy hors d'oeurve, dessert, wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages. At 8 PM, the VAVP is honoring the commitment from Dyana Mason with the 1st Annual VAVP Ally Award. If you have read this far, consider your self invited. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or RSVP on Facebook. This VAVP event is http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=50661363640&ref=nf and you can also become a VAVP friend and supporter on Facebook if you're on there to be kept in the loop. You may want to check out the VAVP blog at https://avp-virginia.blogspot.com/. You can give to this project even if you can't make it to the party! Send an email to email@example.com and they will get a pledge form out to you or check back to the blog periodically while they work to get their online giving mechanism operational. Currently, donations are not tax deductible. They and I hope you will consider giving as you are able. If you do not know Quillin Drew, take a moment to introduce yourself to her and the VAVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a dynamic and incredible person who really cares about the community. Her actions have truly shown her true colors which I admire.