Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nikki Araguz Speaks: "I urgently ask the gay and transgender communities to stop inaccurately identifying me as “transgender”"

Transsexual and/or Intersex Americans are Fed Up With Gay Inc & it's TG Subsidiary Misrepresenting Them!

The last fifteen years have provided many challenges for Americans born transsexual and/or intersex (TS/IS) because intellectually dishonest, lazy and transsexual-phobic entities have enforced TS/IS people on a reservation entitled "The Transgender Borg" and have grouped them with transvestite males, gender deconstructionists, drag queens/kings, gender queer activists, fetishists, cross dressers and other people who they have little in common with. By refusing to acknowledge the diversity of the numerous groups tossed in the T-Box, much infighting, miseducation and co-opting has arisen, and TS/IS people's medical legitimacy has been endangered, and compromised. However, more and more people are speaking out against Gay Media Inc's and TG Ward Bosses hijacking of the transsexual and intersex narratives, and their resistance is gaining major ground.

Nikki Araguz, widow of the fallen firefighter in Texas, has had her marriage and womanhood under attack by Texas Republican Sen. Williams and his proposed bill, SB 723, which seeks to invalidate her marriage and womanhood. Can you really blame these closeminded people when GLAAD's media guide groups transvestite males and gender deconstructionists with women? She has been inaccurately labeled "transgender", which is not the truth at all. In a statement yesterday, she asks the gay and transgender communities to stop appropriating her case for their political and personal agenda.

Here is her statement:

"While I appreciate all of the support, I am setting the record straight: I am a heterosexual woman, who happened to have born intersex, and yes, I did have a transsexual medical condition, yet that has been treated and corrected. I urgently ask the gay and transgender communities to stop inaccurately identifying me as “transgender” because this falsehood is continuing to make my battle even more difficult. The media has picked up on this mislabeling, and it may lead to the assassination of transsexual and intersex marriage and rights in Texas. The clueless appropriating of my situation is dishonest and hurtful. My birth defect is a medical condition, and has nothing to do with “gender and lifestyles”. Not only do I have to deal with bigots and the media misrepresenting me, I have to deal with transgender ideology & politics, and gay folks who just don’t get it, doing the same thing. One would think these “allies” would help me, not derail my cause and jeopardize my medical legitimacy. Perhaps they mean well, and are just misinformed, so I decided to make this statement so there is no longer any confusion on my medical history. I, and people like me, are repeatedly offended when people try to misgender and other us against our will. If you respect and support me and my rights, please know that this is MY reality. My late husband, family, friends, scientists and doctors will testify that I am a woman born with a birth challenge, not a “3rd gender”. Won’t you please give me the same respect and honor my truth?

With much love, Nikki Araguz"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Equality Maryland Fires Director, Yet the Board Members Need to Look at Their Own Transphobic & Classist History, Not Just Blame a Scapegoat!

Morgan Meneses-Sheets is the 'sacrifical lamb' of Equality Maryland's board

Last Sunday, the board of Equality Maryland fired their Executive Director, Morgan Meneses-Sheets. At first, I thought it was a good thing due to the public outcry from the state and national transsexual, transgender and intersex (TTI) communities who opposed Equality Maryland’s decision to fight for a unjust bill, H.B. 235, which implied that TTI people are second class citizens in the area of public accommodations. Her being fired showed that public opinion holds weight in LGBT leadership. I also feel she didn’t truly enroll TS/TG community buy-in regarding the decision to abandon PA protections, and she also cancelled “transgender working groups” when they were needed most, though, she could have just been carrying out the boards wishes.

However, as I pursued the situation more, I am left with a bad taste for the actual board members of Equality Maryland, and in fact, my heart goes out to Morgan. I feel for her because the truth is that the board actually makes all the important decisions concerning directions and strategy, and it was just Morgan’s job to do as she was told. It’s pretty sinister for the board to now use Morgan as the sacrificial lamb when it was truly the board that was to blame for the down fall of Equality Maryland’s reputation

This is not to suggest I agree with some of her actions, but the major issues I have are matters that the board had definitive influence and final say in, Morgan was just the messenger. So why kill the messenger? That’s what the board has decided to do, and they expect us all to buy it. Well, I don’t buy generic brands, including this stunt of the board members. The source should be held accountable.

Let's meet those really responsible:

Equality Maryland, Inc. Board of Directors: Charles Butler, Darrell Carrington, David Lublin, Rosemary Nicolosi, Lisa M. Polyak, Mark Yost, Jr.

Equality Maryland Foundation Board of Directors: Alex Hickox, Rosemary Nicolosi, Patrick L. Wojahn, Charles Butler

It was the Equality Maryland BOARD MEMBERS responsible for:

  • 1) Allowed a “national advocacy coalition” to call shots, upsetting many state residents

  • 2) Left former trans board member Laura Hart in the dark when they removed PA protections from the Gender Anti-discrimination Act, causing her to resign

  • 3) Have no transsexual people on board, or staff

  • 4) Maryland LGB and TS/TG advocates have stated that the board has many elitist, classist and transphobic sentiments and practices

  • 5) Enforced the decision to send the marriage equality bill vote back to committee, angering many Maryland residents who said it was best to put it to a vote, if not at least to get on record where officials stood on the bill

  • 6) Have maliciously thrown their ED under the bus, when she was simply doing what she was told, which is bad for community morale

  • 7) Have failed to admit their wrong doing of 2001, when transsexual & transgender people were removed from the Anti-discrimination act, therefore only protecting LGB people, making TS/TG people 2nd class citizens in the LGB”T” coalition

  • 8) Have rejected the Maryland’s LGBT community's demand for transparency throughout the last 6 months of working for both the TS/TG bill and the marriage equality bill.

  • 9) After reports that the moderator of Equality Maryland’s Facebook page was censoring and deleting dissent, and even banning people, the board still did not change this protocol

  • 10) Being a board member should be more than just champagne toasts, and spring rolls, it should also be about enrolling ALL the people included in their mission statement, unfortunately, the board did not do that with the transsexual and transgender communities.

  • So, if the board is going to fire the Executive Director for simply carrying out their agenda, they need to fire them-damn-selves! And, for them to have absolutely no transsexual people on their board or staff is appalling!

    No taxation without representation!

    Spin, baby, spin….
    that’s all this is. A PR spin job to imply that Morgan is all to blame, but the truth is that the board is guiltier then Morgan, and they should be held accountable.
    Will the next Executive Director have freer rein then Morgan? Of course not! They will still have to beat to the drum of the board, which is apparently being told what to do by some mysterious “national advocacy coalition”.

    Therefore, firing Morgan is just a “pass the blame game” that I refuse to participate in!

    In all my articles I have written about this unjust HB 235 compromise, or the quotes I gave to media outlets, I never once placed the blame, or even mentioned either Morgan Meneses-Sheets or H.B. 235’s sponsor, Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk. This is because most of the transsexual and transgender community is aware enough to know this is about the national gay (not T) establishment and it’s common practices, not one or two people.

    There is a long history of throwing TS/TG people under the bus to secure gay only rights.

    There is a long history of gay organizations advising elected officials and the government on issues that are transsexual and transgender specific, without including TS/TG people in the process, or even gaining their consent.

    There is a long history, starting a few years after the Stonewall Riots, of elitist gays abandoning TS/TG rights because they said their issues were “too radical”, never mind that it was trans women Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, Miss Major and others who were in the Stonewall Inn that night and kicked things off!

    Matthew Thorn, Equality Maryland’s development director, has resigned in response to Morgan’s firing. I respect him for refusing not to be a puppet in the board’s sinister PR ploy, and for him calling the board out on their refusal to take responsibility for their part in the downfall of the groups public graces. In his statement he writes:
    "Not only has she [Morgan] committed time and energy away from her wife and her 5-month-old daughter, but she had the tenacity to keep fighting in Annapolis, even when all others had given up. Giving up just isn’t in her vocabulary. This past Sunday, the board of directors of Equality Maryland, in executive session voted to remove her from her position, essentially telling the organization’s staff, volunteers, supporters, funders and general community that the organization will now move in a different direction.

    I fear that the direction that the board seeks to take is one that will not be a beneficial path for the community, for the organization, for the staff and especially the organization’s funders, and that is why, effective today, I am resigning from my position as director of development of Equality Maryland. I wish nothing but the best to the staff and the community and hope that we can overcome these obstacles to continue to fight for our full equality.”

    So, while a few noted transsexual and transgender advocates and bloggers are publicly celebrating the termination of Morgan, I most certainly am not. I am actually saddened that this deceptive decision by the board has happened, because it suggests that the board’s hands are clean, which they are not. I won’t be celebrating until the board says:
    Mistakes were made that we had a part in. We want to enroll all members of the LGBT community in moving forward. We will actually have transsexual people on our board and staff. We will be a real LGBT coalition”.

    Until the board of Equality Maryland does right by TS/TG communities, their name will continue to be tainted. Firing Morgan has only made them look dishonest, uncompassionate and traitorous to someone who was just doing their bidding, and that they are against taking responsibility for their own actions.

    I hope Morgan learns from this experience, and that in her next job she lets the board know that there are consequences to leaving the transsexual and transgender community behind, and only giving them crumbs. It’s a new dawn, and the TS/TG communities are now a major player in the game, and have the ability now to let the public know where they stand. They influenced Maryland elected officials to publicly acknowledge the disconnect between Gay Inc and the TS/TG community.

    I’m happy that Morgan has decided not exit the stage without calling a spade a spade, and letting people know the board ain’t Mother Teresa. In part of her statement she writes:
    It is with heavy heart that I share that today will be my last day as the executive director of Equality Maryland. While it is not my choice to leave, it is my choice to make my voice heard as I exit.

    In particular the past few months have been tough to bear, not because of the hard work which I welcome and felt honored to be part of, but because of the forces within the organization and external politics that created additional and unnecessary obstacles to our forward movement and success. As I move on, I will not focus on the negative or destructive forces that created this untenable situation...”
    I’m glad she acknowledged the “forces within the organization” [the board] which had a part, or in reality, the biggest part in this whole fiasco.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    U.K.'s Transsexual & Transgender Communities Successfully Shut down a Transphobic Hate-fest "Conference" by The Royal Collage. Stop Misrepresentation!

    Either make the conference affirming, accurate and inclusive, or shut that hate-fest down!

    In another example of the empowered transsexual and transgender (TS/TG) community’s growing resistance against being misrepresented by insensitive gay and lesbian organizations who sometimes harm TS/TG people, rather than help, ( aka, Stonewall UK, and in this case, RCPsych’s Lesbian and Gay Special Interest Group ), transphobic and unscientific shrinks (like Zucker, Bailey, Blancahrd, and in this case, Dr Az Hakeem) and lesbian anti-transsexual activists (Julie Bindel), the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ conference on TS/TG issues has been cancelled due to the large public outcry from U.K’s TS/TG communities.

    Well done UK brothers and sisters, including Jane Fae, Natacha Jessica Kennedy, Paris Lees, Christine Burns and others who so worked hard to remedy this situation! Keep up the good fight! Don’t ever back down!

    The complaints against the “conference”, was that it was not truly a “conference” or even a discussion, for it was one sided and biased, and left out voices of the TS/TG communities. The keynote speaker would have been Dr Az Hakeem, yet he is a transphobic spaz, pathologizes TS/TG people and believes in reparative therapy. An invited speaker, Julie Bindel, is one of the world’s most transphobic personalities. Although she is lesbian, and identifies as a feminist, her hatred against women born different actually makes her an anti-feminist. Also, for the RCPsych’s Lesbian and Gay Special Interest Group to be hosting this event is actually appropriation and co-opting. Transsexualism is a medical condition, and transgendersim is a gender identity. Therefore, it’s inappropriate and confusing to the public for a sexual orientation group to be hosting this event, especially when many gay and lesbian professionals have proven to militant transphobes.

    Jennie Kermode of U.K.’s Trans Media Watch, commented:
    "I’m really glad that sense has prevailed in this instance. For psychology to be respected it must draw a clear line between evidence-based work and prejudice which merely masquerades as science."

    The last straw in the conference being cancelled came shortly after the The Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital pulled out, which is the UK’s oldest and most respected TS/TG treatment center.

    In a statement by Charing Cross Hospital, they stated why they pulled support:
    Although we were somewhat wary of engaging in what is essentially a clinical discussion with a predominantly non-trans panel, which, moreover, features a non-clinician whose personal opinion is already well known, we agreed to do so in order that discussion might focus on evidence rather than anecdote.

    “The Royal College should be aware that there is a great deal of disquiet around this event within the trans community. Interested parties should also note that the discussion as it now stands will be one-sided at best

    Christine Beckett, applauded Charring Cross’ decision. She stated,
    "We are not laboratory animals, but human beings. The patronizing notion that we should not even be given a voice in such conferences is no longer supportable or acceptable.

    And the notion of asking the likes of Bindel and Az Hakeem to “contribute” is not just insulting to transpeople, but gives the transphobic nonsense they spout a validity that it has no right to.

    It would be akin to asking the pope and Fred Phelps to contribute to a conference on Gay marriage, whilst excluding anyone Gay from the platform.

    So well done all concerned, including Charring Cross."

    However, as usual when the establishment realizes they made a mistake, instead of admitting wrongdoing, they concoct a PR spin story. In this case, the spin is that the conference was cancelled due to “lack of ticket sales”. Ok, we all know that’s just hog wash and a pathetic ploy to *try* to save face.

    Paris Lees , a popular trans advocate in the U.K., responded to RCPsych’s lame excuse:
    "They clearly don’t know how the human mind works if they think anyone with so much as an inch of sense will believe that pathetic excuse. Imbeciles."

    The Royal College should have known better then to plan a conference about TS/TG people, yet not pursue sufficient buy-in from the community that the conference actually affects. To not enroll TS/TG people in the decision making process sends a clear and loud statement that they don’t see them as equals, as able, as valid. Just that message alone proves The Royal Collage is not a true ally to the TS/TG communities. In the past, The Royals Collage has held conferences on gay and lesbian issues, yet they most definitely included gay people in the process, and didn’t have offensive speakers. Why didn’t they give the TS/TG communities the same respect? It’s because TS/TG people in the U.K’ are still deemed “less than” by many institutions. In this case of RCPsych’s Lesbian and Gay Special Interest Group actually endorsing this problematic event, it says that TS/TG people are “property” of the gay and lesbian establishment.

    The TS/TG community would beg to differ.

    It’s an exciting time in both the U.K and the U.S. The TS/TG communities are taking ownership of their movement, exercising their voice in high volumes, not allowing the gay and lesbian establishment to dictate to them, and successfully challenging the psychiatric world from misrepresenting them

    The transsexual and transgender colony of the Gay Inc Empire are breaking free and re-founding their country.

    Our lives. Our needs. Our votes. Our voices. Our decisions. Our agenda!!

    Advocate Helen Wilson commented under the Pink News article on this story, and sums it up nicely:

    "For the Royal College of Psychiatrists Lesbian and Gay Special Interest Group to host this conference in the first place is just bazaar.

    They reject reparative therapy for LGB people, but by organizing this conference seem to support it for the T.

    Talk about hypocrisy

    The fact we got ourselves organized and successfully campaigned to get this conference cancelled shows we are not victims… People don’t like the fact we now have a voice and are not afraid to shout if necessary."

    God job to the U.K. transsexual and transgender people who spoke out against this hate-fest! Because of you, the U.K. is now a safer, healthier and more affirming place for people who are not afraid of diversity! Hugs and kisses from the west, keep up the good fight!

    You MUST READ the shocking email correspondence between the Royal College of Psychiatrists and noted U.K advcoates Natacha Kennedy & Jane Fae which led up to the cancellation of the transhobic [one-sided] conference:

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    California Senate Passes Bill Which Will Allow LGBT History to be Taught in Public Schools.

    w/ Sen. Mark Leno during San Francisco Pride 2010

    The California state Senate has passed legislation that will require public schools to include the history of LGBT people in social studies lessons. It will be up to the actual school districts what to include in lessons, and what grade students will receive them.

    This is groundbreaking! The affect this will have on our culture is one that will acknowledge and celebrate diversity. Children will grow up with the knowledge that their LGBT peers have just as much to offer society as any other, and therefore deserve the same rights anyone else does. I am proud that my home state is leading the way in ensuring accurate history lessons.

    Democratic Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco, a friend of mine, and who is openly gay, is the sponsor of the bill, which passed Thursday on a 23-14 vote. The measure now goes to the Assembly. Senator Mark Leno is one of the biggest allies to the transsexual and transgender community that I know. When I lived in California, I was an organizer for the San Francisco Trans March for two years. He came to speak both times at the pre-march event, and is always showing up at TS/TG events. I’m so glad we have an ally like him.

    Everyone, please email and call those Assembly members in California, if this bill passes, it will be a big step closer to a more harmonious society!

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    TFM TV Interview- Sandy Rawls Speaks: "I'm Glad H.B. 235 Died Because it Left Out Public Accomodations Protections"

    April 12, 2011) at Trans United's Baltimore building w/ founder Sandy Rawls (center) and Trans United member Lindsey Harrington

    Yesterday I went to Baltimore, Maryland to spend the day with Sandy Rawls, Founder and Director of Trans-United. I sat down with her and we discussed the failure of the unjust H.B. 235 compromise, why Trans-United supports the bill dying, what should have happened, and what needs to happen in passing a fully comprehensive bill in 2012

    TFM TV Exclusive Interview with Sandy Rawls below:

    w/ Sandy Rawls at the beautiful Baltimore harbor

    Senator Madaleno Listens to Transsexual Marylander's Concerns & Agrees to Include Public Accommodations to Antidiscrimination Bill Next Year. Victory!

    Annapolis, Maryland. April 7, 2011- Ashley Love and Trans Maryland's Jenna Fishetti speak to Senator Madaleno concerning the unjust H.B. 235 compromise on the day of the Senate Judicial Committee's public hearing where transsexual human rights advocates spoke out against the bill

    Yesterday Maryland’s only openly gay senator, Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery), provided a statement to Metro Weekly regarding the Senate sending the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, House Bill 235 back to the committee yesterday, therefore defeating the unjust bill. If passed, the bill would have made Maryland’s transsexual and transgender residents 2nd class citizens in the area of public accommodations. Human rights activists and transsexual and transgender groups rallied against the bill, demanding the bill either be amended to include these lifesaving protections, or be killed. Thankfully, the bill was denied a chance to spread it’s dehumanizing message that transsexual and transgender people are ‘less then’.

    In Sen. Madaleno’s statement he said, “…Before next session, I will pre-file a new version of the Gender Identity Antidiscrimination Act that includes provisions for housing and employment, as well as public accommodations in the hope it can receive a full debate and vote in the Senate before the last day of the session.”

    This is great news! Senator Madaleno has listened to the public outcry of the transsexual and transgender communities who have expressed that we will not accept unequal treatment under the law. This is a man of integrity and merit. We will accept nothing less then a fully comprehensive bill.

    Senator Madaleno’s full statement:
    After an overwhelming vote in favor of HB 235 by the House of Delegates, this bill was inappropriately referred to the Senate Rules Committee, which delayed action for nearly a week. After successful votes in the Rules Committee and Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, the full Senate never had an opportunity to debate this issue because of today’s vote to recommit.

    The Senate's action today means that transgender individuals in Maryland will continue to be denied housing on the basis of their gender identity. Every homeless transgender person that dies on the street will do so because of the Senate’s failure to pass HB 235. Every transgender individual who cannot provide for themselves or their family because they are denied employment based on their gender identity will do so because of the Senate's failure to pass HB 235.

    I remain firmly committed to seeing this landmark civil rights legislation pass the Maryland General Assembly. Before next session, I will pre-file a new version of the Gender Identity Antidiscrimination Act that includes provisions for housing and employment, as well as public accommodations in the hope it can receive a full debate and vote in the Senate before the last day of the session

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    It’s Monday @ Midnight: The Unjust H.B. 235 Compromise is Officially Dead. Now to Educate About Life Saving Public Accommodations Protections

    5, 4, 3, 2, 1….the bill is dead.

    Today the Maryland Senate sent the Gender Identity “Anti-Discrimination” H.B. 235 bill back to the committee, making it dead until next year. Great work to everyone who oppossed the bill without the public accomodation protections inclusion ammendment, and worked hard to educate why this compromise is problematic and unacceptable. Now we have a chance to add it on to next year's bill.

    I feel compelled to put quotes around the word “anti-discrimination” because I cannot in good conscious call this bill an anti-discrimination bill for many reasons:

    • 1) In actuality, H.B. 235 discriminates. To intentionally leave out protections in hospitals, hotels, restaurants, libraries, public transportation, drinking fountains, parks, lunch counters, homeless shelters, you know: PUBLIC ACCOMDATIONS, translates into the same result as discrimination. You can’t in all accuracy call this bill an “anti-discrimination” bill and then leave out these obvious and urgently needed anti-discrimination protections.

    • 2) In prior legislation sessions in Maryland, previous versions of this bill had public accommodations protections, then, in an appalling compromise, they were stripped out

    • 3) However, gay and lesbian Marylanders ensured PA protections for themselves in 2001, leaving the most vulnerable portion of the LGBT coalition, the transsexual and transgender (TS/TG) communities, out of the bill. We are tired of being left behind. No more. We demand full citizenship in the LGBT coalition. And that includes full rights.

    • 4) Equality Maryland did not enroll community buy-in from the actual people who the bill affects, the TS/TG communities. Trans United and Trans Maryland are the only two TS/TG specific organizations in Md., and they both OPPOSE the bill without PA protections, so for the gay and lesbian dominated board and staff of Equality Maryland to (mis)decide to push for a bill w/o PA protections is misrepresentation and wrong. Equality Maryland has no transsexual people on their board or staff, so they have no right to (mis)represent them. EqMd can be an ‘ally’, but they can’t be a ‘dictator’.

    • 5) Public accommodations are lifesaving protections, a basic human right. People have died due to no PA protections. Transsexual people have been denied access to hospitals and homeless shelters due to no PA protections. These are rights we are not willing to negotiate away.

    • 6) We should not be dancing to the bells of the religious far right and abandoning PA protections to cater to their fear and hatred of diversity concerning TS/TG human beings. Making deals with transphobes is like caving in to terrorists. You just don’t do it

    • 7) The message of not including PA protections in this bill sends a loud and clear statement that TS/TG people are 2nd class citizens. The stigma and defamation that this message sends will create long lasting harm and marginalization. No way Jose! Keep your “Trans Crow”, we want FULL citizenship and equality!

    Moving forward, things are looking good. Maryland’s TS/TG community has rallied hard, has national support, and are planning to take control of their own movement, no longer the “dependents of the LGB decision makers of the LGB”T” agenda”.

    Trans United and Trans Maryland are already working on their plan for 2012. Equality Maryland’s role is not to dictate the terms to Trans United and Trans Maryland, but to follow their lead.

    Senator Madaleno stated today,

    Before next session, I will pre-file a new version of the Gender Identity Antidiscrimination Act that includes provisions for housing and employment, as well as public accommodations in the hope it can receive a full debate and vote in the Senate before the last day of the session.”

    This is great news! This is all we have been fighting for; to have the bill proposed in its authentic and fully inclusive form, WITH public accommodations protections. Without these protections, the bill has no merit, no integrity, no teeth.

    The bill is dead, but the transsexual and transgender resistance is so very much alive. This is it. We are taking back our voice, not settling for crumbs and are not resting until we achieve all that is entitled to us as American citizens.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Ashley Love's Senate Hearing Testimony On The Unjust HB 235 Compromise (Written & Audio)

    Below is my written testimony each Maryland Senator recieved yesterday at the Senate Judicial Committee hearing regarding the Gender Identity "Anti-Discrimination" Bill HB 235. I was able to read most of it in the two minutes allotted, and then the Senators decided to have me stay after my time slot to ask further questions, after which I explained more about Tyra Hunter's sad story, explained what public accommodation were in depth (they are not just restrooms as the far right likes to propagate to spread fear), explained how the gay establishment is responsible for problematic (mis)education regarding the "transgender coalition" by failing to make a distinction between transsexual and intersex people from transvestites and cross-dressers, gay people don’t own TS/TG people, and that's high time that TS/TG/IS people represent themselves!

    Here is the AUDIO link of the hearing. My testimony starts at 1:28:00

    Ashley Love's Testimony at Maryland's Senate Judicial Committee Hearing On HB 235

    April 7th, 2011

    HB 235 without public accommodations protections has no merit. We ask that you either amend the bill to include these lifesaving and constitutional protections, or vote against it.

    I live in New York; however, I have spent time in Maryland, & visit the DC/Md. area frequently.

    I was born w/ a rare birth challenge where my chromosomes & anatomy were diverse; I was born intersex, which later transpired into a transsexual medical condition. To be born female & male wasn’t my choice; yet I am all woman gender, woman mind, woman essence, woman spirit. My birth condition is natural & innocent, yet growing up I realized many in society were handicapped to such a crippling degree that they couldn’t accept my community’s diversity. Their ignorance turned into fear, which turned to hatred, & sometimes even violence, & some women I personally knew have been victims of a hate crime.

    This misguided fear of diversity has led to the basic human rights for my community in this country being denied. HB 235 has stripped out PA protections. This is unacceptable for any American.

    HB 235 as written says that my community is not worthy of protections in public accommodations protections. The civil rights movement was founded on the issues of public accommodations, yet here we are decades later still fighting for them. Prior versions of this bill in previous session originally included PA protections, but due to misinformation and transphobia, they were taken out.

    People, such as Tyra Hunter, a transgender woman, have died due to no PA protections. Homeless transsexual women have been denied access to shelters due to no PA protections. Some friends and I were denied service at a restaurant due us being different. People in my community are even denied public transportation, and access to hospitals.

    Today some people in court have spread misinformation about my community. A woman who was born w/a transsexual and/or intersex condition is not the same thing as a man who is cross dressing for a lifestyle or amusement. Yet that is precisely what the far right likes to propagate. This propaganda is meant to confuse the public about our medical condition or birth challenge, and their fear mongering is responsible for the marginalization, mis-education and destitution that plague my community.

    Also, the gay and lesbian community is not the same thing as the transsexual and intersex community. The gay’s issue is about sexual orientation, where the transsexual issue is about seeking medical treatment to correct our birth challenge, and intersex people need to be protected as infants from malpractice. Many transsexual and transgender Marylanders disagree with how the gay and lesbian community has been misrepresenting their community. It’s time for the transsexual, transgender and intersex coalition to represent themselves, because we have different needs then the gay, lesbian and bisexual community, and our rights many times get devalued, left behind or appropriated under their control.

    The only two trans organizations in Maryland, Trans United and Trans Maryland, oppose the LGBT group Equality Maryland’s approval of HB 235 stripping away PA protections. We ask you to listen to the people that this bill affects. We aren’t owned by the gay & lesbian community. We own our voice.

    In my opinion, America is the greatest country on Earth. Sadly, one part that we fall embarrassingly and dangerously short is the failure to protect transsexual, transgender and intersex Americans.

    I ask that you amend HB 235, or vote against it. I invite every elected official in this court to open your mind, embrace and celebrate diversity, and to not allow us to be treated as 2nd class citizens.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    The Advocate Interviews Ashley Love on the Unjust H.B. 235 Compromise: 'Md. Gender Identity Bill on the Move'

    I was interviewd today by The Advocate about why the compromised version on HB 235 must either be ammended or withdrawn. It's great to have a national LGBT news source tell both sides of this story. Many LGBT news sources have been censoring the dissent against this bill from the transsexual and transgender community, and only expressing the gay and lesbian (not transsexual's) leadership's POV via Equality Maryland's 'talking point' team. Article below:

    Posted on April 05, 2011

    Story Updated : April 05, 2011 05:30:00 PM

    Md. Gender Identity Bill on the Move By Julie Bolcer

    An endangered gender identity antidiscrimination bill has been moved to the Maryland senate judicial proceedings committee, where a hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

    The Gender Identity Antidiscrimination Act, which had appeared dead for the year, was moved to the more favorable committee Tuesday morning after extended public pressure that included hundreds of constituent calls and e-mails.

    Equality Maryland announced that the senate rules committee voted to send the bill to the judicial proceedings committee, where it is expected to pass and head to the full senate for consideration. The bill passed the assembly by a strong 86-52 margin last month, but in the senate it was unexpectedly assigned to the rules committee, where prospects dimmed.

    "This important piece of legislation that will extend vital protections to Transgender Marylanders in housing, employment, and credit lives to see another day thanks to the tremendous leadership of Senators Jamie Raskin and Rich Madaleno both of whom were instrumental in making sure the bill moved out of the Senate Rules Committee,” said Morgan Menses-Sheets, executive director of Equality Maryland, in an e-mail to The Advocate.

    Other legislative allies, including delegates Joseline Pena-Melynk, Ariana Kelly and the LGBT caucus can also be attributed to keeping this bill alive,” she said. The seven members of the house LGBT caucus sent a letter to senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller last week urging him to allow the bill to be passed from the rules committee to the judicial proceedings committee.

    This bill would offer limited protections with respect to employment, housing and financial security,” wrote the caucus members in a copy of the letter provided to The Advocate.

    “In the hearing in the health and government operations committee we learned the transgender community has double the national average rate of unemployment (14%) and 90% face discrimination or harassment at work. With regard to housing, 11% report having been evicted for being transgender and 10% have been homeless.”

    The bill has divided transgender advocates, however. Some groups opposed to the measure, including Trans Maryland and Trans United, say it offers inadequate protections by failing to include the category of public accommodations, which encompasses restrooms, hospitals, restaurants, transportation, shelters, and other public areas. Delegate Pena-Melynk, the lead sponsor of the bill, said the category was excluded in order to secure passage of the bill, which has failed over public accommodations in the past.

    Transgender and transsexual advocate Ashley Love called the measure a “second-class bill” in an interview with The Advocate, likening the proposal to settling for civil unions instead of marriage equality. She said that removing protections for public accommodations could set a dangerous precedent by buckling to conservative critics around the country who focus on the issue of bathrooms in trying to defeat transgender rights legislation.

    "H.B. 235 passing without public accommodations protections will create a second-class status for Maryland’s transsexual and transgender community, and more dangerous, other states could follow this unjust blueprint,” she said. “It’s hypocritical that Equality Maryland refused second-class civil unions, and only first-class marriage, yet they’re accepting a second-class ‘antidiscrimination’ bill for transsexual and transgender people, when most transsexual and transgender Marylanders only support a first-class, fully inclusive bill."

    Love indicated that she and others would continue to advocate against the bill.

    A senate source confirmed that testimony would be heard on the bill in the senate judicial proceedings committee this Thursday at 1 p.m. The hearing time is likely to be abbreviated due to the volume of unfinished business as the Maryland state legislature approaches its adjournment date of April 11.

    'Point Honors Benefit' Honored Andy Cohen & Grethe Cammermeyer. Raised Funds for LGBT People's Higher Education

    Kelly Ripa (co-host of event) and supermodel Iman

    Last night the Point Honors was held at the beautiful Capitale in Manhattan, and was hosted by Kelly Ripa and Sam Champion. The Point Foundation helps LGBT people finance higher education, as well as linking them up with mentors and professional development. Andy Cohen and Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer each were honored, as well as Johnson & Johnson

    Andy Cohen (Bravo's VP & TV Host of 'Watch What Happnes Live') recieved the Point Courage Award. Cohen helped build the highly successful network Bravo, which has multiple LGBT characters.

    Joelle Ruby Ryan, a friend of mine, was actually Point Foundation's first scholar from the transsexual or transgender community. I asked her about her experience with the organization, and she tells us, “I was in the final stages of writing my dissertation, and had run out of University funding. It was the support of Point that allowed me to complete my dissertation and receive my Ph.D. in 2009. I was unbelievably lucky to be mentored by transsexual pioneer Lynn Conway. As transsexual and transgender students and scholars, we often struggle with multiple challenges in order to finish our education. From familial rejection, to employment discrimination and economic hardships, to accessing culturally competent medical care, accessing higher education can seem like an unattainable dream. That is precisely why organizations like the Point Foundation are so vital: they provide a life line for those of us oppressed by transphobia and offer us the tools to go on to successful and rewarding professional lives.”

    The Point Legend Award went Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer for her pioneering work in ensuring gays and lesbians could serve openly in the military.

    w/ Point Foundation's Executive Director Jorge Valencia

    Jorge Valencia, Executive Director & CEO of the Point Foundation, tells Trans Forming Media, The harsh reality is that many high school students are marginalized and endure bullying daily just to be able to get to college and begin their adult life where the environment is very likely to be more accepting. Yet, financial hardships and no family or community support can jeopardize that goal. And this is where Point comes in and becomes so relevant to the future of our society. We not only provide financial support and leadership training, we also provide mentoring, through the building of inter-generational partnerships. By lending their professional expertise and career guidance, Point Mentors become important role models and friends to our scholars, while meaningfully broadening their own experience.

    Actress Marsha Thomason presented a Point scholar with an award

    I ran into a pal from Los Angeles, actress Marsha Thomason, who plays a lesbian character on White Collar. She starred on TV shows ‘Lost’ and ‘Vegas’. She presented a scholar with an award. Thomason tells Trans Forming Media, I was thrilled to be asked to take part of Point Honors tonight because they provide such a wonderful service to the LGBT community. These are kids who are disenfranchised who can now have higher education. I think that’s very exciting and I’m happy to meet some of the scholars tonight as well.

    Sam Champion (Good Morning America) was co-host of the event

    MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts presented the Point Inspiration Award to Johnson & Johnson, which was accepted by Chris Hacker, Chief Design Officer, J&J Consumer Companies.

    w/ Real Housewives of New Jersey's Teresa Guidice

    Johnson & Johnson's Christina Lang (L) and Erica Deuso (R)

    Kelly Ripa and Sam Champion were an entertaining duo!

    Actress Judith Light (left) was an honoraree chair, and actress Lorna Kelly (right) hosted the silent auction