Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Living History

What a week it has been!

I was talking to a 20 year old coworker at work Sunday.  I asked her if she ever heard us older folks discuss things like the fall of the Berlin Wall.  She said she had.  I said that we as a generation lived through history; in that case the end of the Cold War.  (I won't get into an argument as to the causes of said events, as I'm not in the mood.)

I told her to remember this week well, because in the years to come, she can say she lived through history.  And History it was.  Major history.

Most of this history was courtesy of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS).  You might remember them from such disasters as the Dredd Scott decision, appointing George W. Bush as president (thus costing the world over a million lives and the US billions in debt), or the Citizens United decision which legalized bribery.  Well this time, they ruled for the GOOD of the country for a change.

First was their ruling on the Affordable Care Act, declaring the Federal Tax credits legal, and thus making ending legal challenges.  (Text of decision HERE) Oh, the GOP will try again and again to repeal it, but why?  To attempt to deny the Black President his victory.  Too harsh?  I'll come back to that.  In any case, eight MILLION Americans keep their health care, including my Wife (pre-existing condition) and my roomie.  That was Major.

At the same time, and just as major was a ruling on the fair housing act (text HERE).  Here's a summary by NPR.

"Civil rights groups won a victory Thursday, as the Supreme Court ruled that claims of racial discrimination in housing cases shouldn't be limited by questions of intent.
The court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision in a case in which a nonprofit group, the Inclusive Communities Project, said that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had contributed to "segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits to housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods."
The 5-4 ruling endorses the notion of citing disparate impact in housing cases, meaning that statistics and other evidence can be used to show decisions and practices have discriminatory effects — without proving that they're the result of discriminatory intentions.""

In a nutshell, it will be easier to bring claims of bias.  Proving intention is nearly impossible, so racists have been able to have their way.  No longer.  This means that people that the white straight majority don't like (say for example, I don't know, Transpeople) will have a chance to win cases of discrimination.

As I said: Major.

And opposed by the GOP.  Not a surprise.

During this time, another controversy was boiling- the use of the Confederate Battle Flag on State Grounds (and in official state flags) in the south.  As anyone knows who has been breathing the past few weeks, a White Supremacist opened fire in a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.  On his Facebook page he had pictures of him with the Confederate Battle flag (which was NOT the official flag of the Confederacy, btw- it was a battle standard.)  Thinking Americans erupted, especially since the Confederate flag was not lowered on the grounds of the South Carolina state house even while the US flag and SC state flag were.  The controversy boiled over until the GOP governor of SC, under pressure, called for the removal of the Confederate Battle flag from state property.

This set off the racists Big Style.

The Original Confederate Flag "Stars and Bars."  Not what you expected, right?

What they didn't want to acknowledge was that the Confederate flag was raised above the statehouse in 1962, in defiance of desegregation.  So the flag which was merely a symbol of Treason against the USA, doubled as a symbol of racism (as it had been for many years, as the KKK and other hate groups adopted it soon after the war.)

Many have claimed that the flag is "heritage, not hate."  Ummm heritage of WHAT?  Treason.  Period.  Hate.  Period.  The Confederacy existed to show white supremacy and to keep its slaves.  That's what the war was about.  Loom up the articles of succession of any of the Southern states, and you'll see that.  Need an example?  Lets try this, from Mississippi:  (Emphasis mine)

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin."

All have similar statements.

I'm not saying the Confederate Battle flag should be banned, as the Nazi flag is banned in Germany.  No, if you want to fly that flag, or wear it on your shirt, or whatever- go right ahead.  It's a free country.  But realize that you're aligning yourself with a tradition of treason and hate.  And if that's how you roll, well, that's your problem.  But as for a State institutionalizing a flag of treason?  Nope.  And that's what this is about.

Oh, by the way, since those events, several historically black churches have been burnt down throughout the South.  Coincidence?  I think not.

I know MANY people in the South, and all the ones I know (except one) are Loyal Americans.  They love this country.  So why do they tolerate a symbol of treason?  I have no idea.  Actually, most don't.  Know who LOVES the Confederacy and all it stood for?  The radical wing of the GOP.  The ones who HATE Obama because he's black.  Funny that.

Then, two days later: the Big One.

Equal Rights.

Gay people can now marry legally in the entire USA.

Other nations applauded.  The White House and Niagara Falls were bathed in rainbow lights.  Thinking Americans everywhere celebrated.


The GOP protested (and continue to protest).

I'm not going to go into the whole thing here, about why the GOP hates LGBT people.  I've covered it before.  But the fact is, this was a historic victory for LGBT people in the US.

I have friends whose unions will now be recognized everywhere in the country.  Well... everywhere except those run by the GOP. With Gay people achieving this major Equal rights victory, can trans rights be far behind?

Only if we work at it.

We can follow up these great victories by keeping the pressure on our elected officials.  The American public is learning more about us than ever before.  Don't let the Republican quislings stop you- make calls, get out there and MEET people.  Tell your story.  Racists don't see black people as human.  Those who hate us don't see US as human.  Show them that we are.  Let them get to know you.  Be a Positive force for Change.

Don't be surprised if the forces of hate cause a backlash against us as they have against the churches of the South.  They are desperate, and, thanks to the NRA, they are armed.  So while you're out and about- be safe.

We are living in a time of momentous change: of History.  WE are making history.

We CAN make Trans rights happen.  All of us.


It's up to us.  No one else.

Be well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Two Weeks Gone

Hi all!  I'm back!

So where have I been?  Well, lots has been happening.  The big thing was the Move.

Linda and I moved out of our apartment in Norristown that we shared for a bit with Zoey.  We couldn't afford it any longer.  After a bit of a search, we located an apartment in Phoenixville, which is where Wife and daughter live.  In fact, I'm just over a mile away from them.  Wife agreed that this means I will see my Daughter more often.

The apartment itself is a little smaller.  It's a one bedroom instead of a two bedroom.  Linda and I bunk together, as we did this in the old apartment (separate beds) so it's not so hard.  But it's in a nicer area, and on the first floor.  The laundry room is directly next door.

Both Linda and I are very happy here.  I've already seen a lot more of my daughter, and Linda is MUCH closer to work.  And I'm not scared driving home at night anymore.

That said, yesterday a violent storm blew through the area.  The drain spout above our front window was clogged, so the water poured out into the window, which was badly sealed... and created a waterfall into the front room.  Linda was there and minimized the damage, but still...

In better news, Elizabeth asked me to be in her wedding.  I mention her with some regularity.  So two days after we moved, myself, the other two bridesmaids (Jamie and M), and Elizabeth went dress shopping- for us not the bride.  We went to David's Bridal, and poked around.  A salesperson was very helpful, and didn't seem to notice/care that I was trans.

I was quite nervous, as I'd never done this before!  Elizabeth notice I was a bit subdued and asked what was wrong.  I smiled and told her nothing was wrong.  Because there was really nothing wrong- just a case of nerves.

Anyway, I settled on a dress.  What you don't see is the black taffeta bolero that will hide my shoulders.

I'm going to post this.  There's more I can write about, and I will, but I'm just too tired right now.

Be well!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

What Would YOU do?

I have mentioned several times in this blog and other places that I am a member of Phi Kappa Sigma (Skull House) fraternity.  Recently, I even discussed the book I wrote about my times there.  Ok, so what?

This year is the 125th anniversary of Skull at Penn State.  When I was an undergrad, I helped plan the 100th anniversary.  Soon after graduation, I attended that event alone, as my fiancee and I broke up just before the event.  I met many people and had (if I recall correctly) a good time.

So the 125th is coming this November.  One of the brothers I am still close to, Ty, recently messaged me asking I was going to attend.  I replied that I probably wouldn't, as I felt I wouldn't be welcome, being a woman now and all.  He said that due to my work documenting our years in the House in the scrapbook (for which I won "Officer of the Year", 1988, btw)(*pats self on back*) that we "all owe you big time."

I told him how I felt- that the idea of facing the brothers again scared the sh*t out of me.  Because it does.  Perhaps a little history is in order.

I joined Phi Kappa Sigma at Drexel University in Spring of 1985.  I stayed at Drexel until the end of spring semester 1986 when I transferred to Penn State.  I have never ever regretted that decision and I still don't.  It was one of the best decisions of my life.

So I transferred to PSU, where there was a chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma.  Where at Drexel we were a new chapter who didn't even have a house, the chapter at PSU was regarded as one of the best chapters of the fraternity.  They lived in a mansion close to campus.  The brothers were a lot of jocks and ex-jocks- rich kids- and the most popular people from their respective homes.  And here I was: a skinny kid with a major identity crisis.  To say I didn't fit in is the understatement of the century.

Skull House 1987

And they never let me forget it.

I made some great friends, sure.  But more enemies: people determined to drive me away.  They didn't understand a few things.  1) I swore an oath to be loyal and an asset to Phi Kappa Sigma.  I took that very seriously, and still do. 2)  I needed to prove to myself that I was a Man.  As you all know, that didn't work out.  3) I'm extremely stubborn, especially when I'm told I CAN'T do something.

My years at Penn State were some of the best of my life.  I wouldn't change a thing.. except maybe I should've transitioned then when I was so skinny.  But whatever.  That said, they were also some of the most traumatic of my life.  I still dream regularly of my days at the House, and few of those dreams are pleasant.

Me (In black shirt) coaching a chugging team, 1987

So it comes down to this:  Should I actually attend?  I reached out to another of my brothers who is an officer on the alumni board.  He is gay, and is very much accepted by the house.  He sent me a very positive message in reply, saying that he'd do everything possible to accommodate me.

I love Penn State.  I haven't been there in years- since I transitioned.  I really should go back.  But what benefit is there to going?  Will the active brothers benefit by having me there in the House for a short time?  Is this a door I want to kick in?

And can I afford it?

I am really torn about this.  What do you think?

My Last Visit: July 2013

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Post from A Coworker

What follows is a Facialbook post, written by David Feldman.  He is a former co-worker of mine from the book store.  I read this and I cried.  I had no idea he felt this way.

And his description of the pre-transition me is spot on.

I reproduce it here with his kind permission.

The reason I'm posting this is as a reminder to myself that ALL who transition are examples of the Community to the world at large.  They see the community through us.  I remember once being told, when I was pledging the fraternity, that we would always be an example- that people would form opinions of the fraternity based on OUR behavior.  And I also applied that to Penn State.  If you follow the logic.

So, here is the post, unedited.  Thanks so much David!


I am getting so tired of the debate about Caitlyn Jenner being a hero. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so let me share mine.
The definition of 'hero', according to the Merriam -Webster dictionary is as follows:
'a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.'
Question: Is Caitlyn Jenner admired for a great or brave act or fine quality?
My answer: Yes
Therefore, Caitlyn Jenner is a hero... to me.
In addition, I personally know someone who has faced the same decisions that Bruce Jenner had faced. His name was Lance. I learned of his dilemma after returning from a 3 month sick leave. He made the same choice as Bruce did.
Lance was very unhappy. He was not an easy person to be around. As a matter of fact, there were times when I avoided him.
When I returned to work, before I was allowed onto the sales floor, I was asked to read a lengthy letter, written by Lance.
I will not go into details about the letter, only to say I was not overly surprised by who the author was.
I approached the person previously known as Lance and I said "I just read the letter you wrote, and I have to tell you, I have a whole new respect for you".
I didn't see a man wearing women's clothing. I saw a person who was happy to be themselves. She was a totally different person. I no longer avoided this person, but found myself seeking her out just to say hello.
Caitlyn Jenner is a hero, and so is Sophie Lynne.
I learned that what a person wears, or how they talk isn't important as long as that individual is happy with who they are.
For those people who are mocking the TG community, remember this...
They are the same as you and me. They work, they eat, they feel, they dream. The only difference is they are now happier with who they are. Can you say the same?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Daughter Reacts

I was going to post this on Facialbook, but decided to do it here instead.

I went to dinner with Wife and Daughter tonight.  (I spent the day at an air show with Linda Lewis, then the evening with them.)  I hadn't seen them in a week, nor spoken to Wife in a couple of days, due to our conflicting schedules.

"Fifi" the last flying B29 in the world

We had a wonderful dinner.  We talked about many things, including the fact that my daughter has now finished first grade.  She was so happy to be a "big" second grader!

So I asked Wife what her reaction was to the whole Caitlyn Jenner thing.  She shrugged.  Then she smiled slightly.

"[Daughter] and I saw it on the news.  They were talking about it and [Daughter] said "Just like daddy!"

I'm very proud of her.  She gets it!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Call Me Caitlyn" The Jenner Cover

June 1, 2015 was a BIG day.

I woke late this morning, as I am off work.  Then I checked my messages...

The Internet had exploded!  Everywhere was the cover of Vanity Fair!

So she's been busy since the interview.  From what I can tell, she's had Facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation, and (according to reports) Gender confirmation surgery.  Bruce is Gone.  Long live Caitlyn.

I've been asked many questions today.  I'm sure I'll be asked many more tomorrow at work.  After all, for many people, I'm the only trans person they know.  So I welcome the questions.

So.  There she is.  How do I feel?

I feel a mix of emotions.  My first thought was "WOW!"  My second thought was jealousy.  Yes, jealousy.  She's had everything I want to do.  And she had it with no money issues or waiting.  But then I thought about it.

She will spend of the rest of her days in the spotlight.  She will never know a moment of quiet.

Peace?  Yes, she knows that.  I understand how she feels.  But she'll be followed and harassed forever.

I mean, even her Republican "allies" have turned on her.  See what Fox News has to say HERE.  She has to deal with that betrayal.

After I figured that out, know what I did?  I got on with my day.  There were things to do.  Linda and I are moving on June 13th, and there's a lot of packing to be done.  Today I contacted PECO and changed the Renter's Insurance.  The wait time for Comcast was too long so I gave up.

I am extremely happy for Ms. Jenner. She is living her life as genuinely as she can.  And now people are wondering if she'll be a "good representative of the trans community."  Know what I think?  I think she's going to live her life.  And if by doing that she can be a shining beacon, so be it.

I wonder who did her FFS...