Friday, August 15, 2014


I write today to express my solidarity with the family of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Missouri. Much media coverage has pointed out the very different ways that African Americans are treated by police and the ways in which African Americans assume they will be treated by law enforcement. Many whites have never thought about these problems because they don't have to. But transgender people have some idea of the fears that African Americans face every time they see a red light in their rear view mirror or a blue uniform and a shield walking down the sidewalk. No American should have to fear their own law enforcement authorities. And no parents should be faced with the terrible loss of a child that the Brown family has suffered.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Catholicism and Gender Identity

A friend directed me to this article which talks about an intersexed woman who is preparing to live as a Carmelite nun. This would be a hopeful development for the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and its transgendered members. The previous pope condemned transgender people during one of his homilies. Perhaps the Catholic church will have something to teach the other denominations...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Department of Defense Transgender Policy Under Review?

According to this CNN story, Secretary of Defense Hagel says that his department's transgender policy "should be reviewed." The short version of their policy is that transgender people can be kicked out. I know of someone who was kicked out of the military because she is transgendered. It's about time that this policy is not just reviewed but changed.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Speaking of Disappointments: Media

Media coverage of transgender people continues to disappoint me. News organizations continue to quote authoritative comments on gender dysphoria and the lives of transgender people from people who have no expertise on the subject. In many cases, such as a BBC story I heard a few weeks ago, the comments came from experts in other disciplines who felt free to comment on the cases of transgendered people. A Ph.D. should teach one to delineate very clearly what one doesn't know, but unfortunately that lesson doesn't always sink in. In some cases, the media relies on gay and lesbian organizations and individuals to comment on the transgendered community. I guess those reporters haven't heard about the Trailing T problem...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Churches Continue to Disappoint

I've scratched another church off my list. As I've described in other posts, I rotate among several churches. When I attend, I interact with the others as little as possible. In moments of weakness, I have given out my first name; on several occasions I have told people that I prefer to keep my own counsel. This caution is the result of having been chased out of two Methodist churches, Oak Grove and St. Mark.

I don't talk to people because it is all too easy to slide down the slippery slope from introducing myself to subjects that impinge upon my gender identity. If you doubt this, consider the question "Are you married?" But most regular churchgoers are not content to let people be. They are offended by anyone who doesn't want to socialize. In the last church, one gentleman blocked my exit from the row and talked to me in a very stern voice in an attempt to get me to talk. I don't think that such behavior is Christian. A church is a house of worship. Many people worship in different ways. To insist that someone be friendly and chatty is to reduce church to a social club.

After my transition, I went through my own phase of being overly friendly. In one case, I descended upon a woman who would attend every week but stay away from everyone, to the point of standing in the corner after the service to watch everyone leave. After a few attempts to be chatty with her, even inviting her out to lunch, I finally got it through my head that I should leave her the heck alone. She was getting out of church what she wanted and needed. She didn't need me to get in the way.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Transgender Rights in India

This CNN video report describes a ruling by India's supreme court that declares transgender to be a third gender. Quite a remarkable and welcome ruling.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Legally Changing Your Gender

For transgender people, changing your name on all those legal documents is only the start. We also have to change our gender. The very notion of legally changing your gender from what is listed on your birth certificate is relatively new. As a result, the laws very widely by state. However, most states, including Georgia, require that you have had surgery in order to change your gender. This sets a very high bar simply because almost no insurance plans have traditionally covered gender assignment surgery. (As I understand it, the situation under the Affordable Care Act is a little murky; that may need a separate blog entry.) A Social Security representative told me that she sees a lot of transgender name changes but that she had seen only two gender changes in the seven years she had worked there. And the results of the gender change vary widely from state to state. Some states will change a birth certificate; others will simply annotate it, so that the change is visible; some states won't change the birth certificate at all, making legal marriage all but impossible. As with name change, everything starts with the driver's license bureau. You walk away with a new, temporary license and get the permanent license a couple of weeks later. The next stop is the Social Security Administration. That change takes a couple of weeks to work its way through the system. Since gender isn't shown on the Social Security card, it's a little hard to tell when it's done. Then there's insurance, retirement, etc. Anything flying-related has gender on it for ID purposes so they have to be updated. And gender crops up all over the place---the Georgia Tech bowling pass asks for gender for some unfathomable reason.