Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I'm spending a few days of "What's Next" time while visiting a dear friend.  It has been a wonderful visit - very very enjoyable.  Most of the weekend was spent enjoying the amazing scenery around here and relaxing - it's a long trip to get here.  The last couple of days have been more business-oriented as I investigate my various options.  All in all - it has been nice to get away for a few days.  But the reality and pressure of having to get back to the "real world" is starting to creep into things.

I head back north tomorrow, and my brother gets into town on Friday for the Rush Concert.

There are some interesting things happening in the trans world....

The discrimination bill that was supposed to protect trans people from discrimination in Maryland (HB235 - the Gender Identity Antidiscrimination Act) has been on life support for a week but apparently has new life today (details here).   As far as I'm concerned the bill got neutered by removing protections for Public Accommodations.  Still, some in the broader community (especially Equality Maryland) have advocated for it - saying that it's better than nothing.  Others have been adamant that without protections for public accommodations - which were removed over discomfort with the "bathroom" thing - it's both empty and it sets a bad precedent based on unfounded fears.  I happen to agree with the second line of thought.

In my own simple ways of thinking, to buy into "incrementalism" as a positive thing was unacceptable in ENDA 2007 in the exact same way that it's unacceptable here.  We all know that this isn't what what we want or need, yet we're willing to settle for something "less than" simply because we're told that it's easier.  The Public Accommodations component is not a small deal - it's a BIG deal and is a significant portion of why we need these protections in the first place.  We all know that when these things get passed going back to add the things that get left out never happens.  So this is our one opportunity to get it right and if I had any influence I'd tell those who introduced the bill and who support it to grow a spine and get it right, not to pass some half-assed bill as little more than a symbolic victory.

The fact that these important rights always get tainted by "the bathroom issue" is a source of endless frustration but the reality is that it's something that needs to be addressed head on, not sidestepped for the sake of political convenience.  In fact, we now find ourselves on the defensive in some areas (Maine, for example) where hard fought rights are under attack by those who would revoke them because of "the bathroom issue".  And, in other areas (like CT) similar discrimination protections that do not remove any component of coverage are moving forward (details here).

When discussing this stuff it brings up some thorny issues in "the community" (whatever that means) about who gets to do what, and why.    Personally, I've never advocated that anyone and everyone gets to use whatever bathroom they want.  I defy anyone to find anything I've said - ever - that states or even implies that.  The day that I personally felt even remotely comfortable using the women's bathroom was the day that my therapist give me a letter indicating that I was transitioning should I get into trouble.  Before that day it never would have even crossed my mind and even afterwards it sometimes felt awkward.  But the day I got that letter I felt entitled, whether others agreed or not.

I'm not part of any group that advocates "use whatever bathroom you want".  I'll also admit that I'm not on board with changing birth certificates "just because" either.  I see that TLDEF has sued NYC because  of a requirement to provide proof of surgery to change birth certificates.  This seems counter productive to me and, in fact, is far beyond the line of bathrooms (please forgive the pun).

I sometimes question whether these kinds of things end up being counter productive.  In Texas a lawmaker has introduced legislation to remove recognition of transsexual marriages as valid there, recognition that had quietly been passed several years ago.  It wasn't until the Nikki Araguz case that this legislation became visible to the broader community, and anyone who doubted whether someone there would target it and try to revoke it once it had a spotlight on it is either incredibly naive or just plain foolish.

We've made some important gains in recent years, most significantly with regards to changing Passport gender markers and the impact that has on other practical realities.  We're continuing to gain ground in corporate America with the removal of exclusions to medical benefits for trans employees.  But the horrible realities of our community as outlined in the recent "Injustice at Every Turn" study continue to make life difficult for even the hardiest of souls.

As for me - I'm working on simple needs right now.  I need to get a job.  I need to pay my bills.  I need to do my taxes.  I need health insurance.  My plight is like millions of other Americans so I'm certainly not alone in that regard.  All I can say is that it's a good thing that I'm in a good head space at the moment.  I'm confident that things will work out.  One way or the other.  They always do.  I think that's called "Faith".....


KateCanada said...

I'm curious about why you think the TLDEF suit in NYC is counter productive.

Gwen said...

Hm, "... better than nothing ..."
I wonder if they would take the same tack if the bill proposed protection for lesbians but denied same to gay males.
Just sayin