Monday, May 31, 2010
Posted by De Sube at 5/31/2010 03:14:00 PM
I know so many Transgender people who give up everything they have in order to live their authentic lives including myself. Now I know there is nothing more important. Not houses, not jobs, none of it.
The sad part of it all is two fold. I hurt a lot of people because I was not honest with myself. Next, losing loved ones is oh so difficult.
For those who call being a Transgender person a lifestyle, I have to ask who in the world would chose (lifestyles implies there is a choice) to potentially lose everything. I sure didn't choose to be Transgender just as I didn't choose red hair and blue eyes.
Transgender UU champions passage of ENDA
New federal law would end discrimination against GLBT people in the workplace.
By Donald E. Skinner
Allison Woolbert, 46, is one of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s most vocal advocates for passage of a bill guaranteeing the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the workplace. Her activism is based on her own experience as a transgender person who nearly lost everything in the process of claiming her sexual identity.
As a young boy growing up in rural Arizona, Woolbert prayed to God, asking to be transformed into a girl. Instead, Woolbert endured years of gender confusion with a growing awareness that things weren’t as they should be. Conservative fundamentalist church teachings only made things worse.
Woolbert went to college, intending to study for the ministry, but stayed only one semester. He served in the Air Force as a male and was married three times, trying to pretend everything was normal.
Able to endure the charade no longer, Woolbert came out in 2008, ending a 15-year marriage. When she began transitioning to female a year-and-a-half ago she lost her house and her successful computer programming business as contracts, many with Fortune 500 corporations, were not renewed. She became homeless and estranged from three of her five children.
That’s when the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore in Pomona, N.J., stepped up.
A therapist had recommended Unitarian Universalism to Woolbert, even though she had sworn off all religion. She went, and found the life-saving message that she’d been looking for since she was a child. “I went to the first couple of services and it was very open, no dogma, very welcoming,” she said. “And I was soon invited to sing in the choir even as I was transitioning.”
“They gave me housing and work so I could feed myself,” she continued. “While I was there I was suicidal a couple of times, and people came to my rescue. The people at South Jersey Shore really saved my life.”
Which is how Woolbert came to be a prominent activist for ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that is working its way through Congress. ENDA would prevent discrimination in the workplace against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Woolbert immersed herself in the UU Principles, then jumped with both feet into the push to get ENDA passed. In August she moved to Princeton, N.J., joining the UU Congregation of Princeton, and has continued her work for ENDA there.
“I went to the social justice group at Princeton and said I needed some help with ENDA,” she said. “I wanted to create a coalition of UUs and others so we could pass it.”
Members of the Princeton congregation and the UU Church at Washington Crossing in Titusville, N.J., quickly formed a team that began calling UUs across the country. They’ve made several hundred calls. On Wednesday, May 19 an ENDA rally was held at the Washington Crossing congregation, which included training for UU and interfaith volunteers who will make even more calls. “We’re training people of faith to stand up and refute the distortions that opponents of ENDA are making,” said Woolbert. “The response to my requests for help has been utterly amazing.”
The Princeton congregation is supporting Woolbert’s trips to General Assembly in June and Washington, D.C., in July and August to lobby for ENDA.
Orelia Busch, legislative assistant for women’s issues and the UU Women’s Federation Clara Barton intern in the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy and Witness, said Woolbert’s help has been invaluable on ENDA.
“It’s been a huge boon to have her volunteers doing more legwork and making more phone calls than I could ever make alone,” she said. “Her work has brought the resources that our office created to so many people who have been able to use them. And it’s been so valuable to work with someone who understands deeply why this legislation is so important and is willing to fight for it with everything she has.” Busch said ENDA is likely to pass in the House, hopefully this spring. She added, “ENDA has a fighting chance to gain a majority of votes in the Senate as well, but only if public pressure and support stay strong. Legislators so often hear from people of faith who are opposed to ENDA. That’s why it’s so important for us to let them know that many people of faith do support ENDA. It gives members of Congress a whole other point of view.”
Woolbert said she is hopeful a Senate vote on ENDA can come before the November national election. “It takes two to three calls or visits to educate people on what ENDA really means,” she said. “But people do get it.”
Right now is the time to get involved, said Woolbert. “We want people everywhere to be reaching out to their representatives in the House this month to urge them to put ENDA up for a vote.”
She added, “When my whole life was being destroyed around me, Unitarian Universalist congregations helped me survive and showed me a tremendous amount about living a truly spiritual life of love, versus the hatred that I was indoctrinated in by other faiths. At the same time the UU Principles allowed me to grow spiritually. I’m hoping now that other UUs will see how important it is to end discrimination and will join with us.”
Posted by De Sube at 5/31/2010 02:32:00 PM
Sunday, May 30, 2010
As Transgender people struggle for their civil rights, I have wondered which marginalized group is next in line in the same struggle for equality. The answer seems to be Spanish-speaking immigrants whether documented or not. The recent anti immigration law in Arizona giving the police the authority to racially profile suspected undocumented immigrants is only the tip of the iceberg.
Transgender, Lesbian, Bisexual and Gay people are terrorized in homeless shelters to the degree they would rather stay on the streets. Hampton Roads is a large metropolitan area comprised of seven major cities. There are no homeless shelters in the entire area sensitive to the needs of LGBT folks.
This is bad enough as it is but if you are LGBT and do not speak English, you may as well forget it. The streets are far safer.
This issue is not unique to San Francisco or Hampton Roads, VA. It is pervasive on a national basis.
I doubt my grandparents would be allowed to immigrate from Eastern Europe today. Although, I doubt they would want to leave their homes in Europe to face what America is becoming today.
SF Shelters Unwelcoming to LGBT, Spanish Speakers
By SUZANNE MANNEH, NEW AMERICA MEDIA on May 28,2010 - 12:22 p.m. PDT
June marks the 40th anniversary of San Francisco Gay Pride, but the city’s homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population is complaining they don't feel safe in the gay mecca's homeless shelters. But it’s not just the LGBT who feel there’s no room for them in the city’s shelters. If you are homeless and can only speak Spanish you might be out in the cold, too, reports bilingual weekly El Tecolote.
District 9 Supervisor David Campos has been organizing a series of hearings about the problem and he has been getting an earful. Monolingual Spanish-speakers are more likely than English-speakers to sleep on the street because they are afraid of being asked for documents or just don’t want to deal with the language barrier. If you are Spanish-speaking and gay, that’s a double whammy. (If you are HIV positive make that a triple whammy).
Antonio Sanchez, a San Francisco resident for 14 years, told El Tecolote he would let young transgender and gay Latinos crash in his living room because he’d seen them called names and threatened at shelters.
“San Francisco is so liberal that it is sometimes amazing to think that my community has so much homophobia,” Rodrigo Ibenez of the AIDS Housing Alliance of San Francisco, who moved here from Mexico City a year and a half ago He told El Tecolote, “But we brought it from our countries and hold onto it.”
Could the solution be more bilingual services at the centers? Or separate dorms for gay, lesbian and transgender homeless? Either way, with an estimated 35,000 homeless, the city needs to find some answers.
Posted by De Sube at 5/30/2010 04:18:00 PM
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Posted by De Sube at 5/29/2010 07:00:00 AM
Posted by De Sube at 5/29/2010 05:56:00 AM