Archive for July, 2008

Donning The Rose-Colored Glasses

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Guest Blogger: Vanessa Edwards Foster

(Originally posted on Trans Political, July 23, 2008)

Vanessa Edwards Foster is the former President & Co-Founder, National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) President, Texas Gender Advocacy & Information Network (TGAIN) Former President & Screening Committee Chair, Harris County Women’s Political Caucus National level Alt. Delegate 2004, National level Delegate 2008 to Dem. Convention Election Judge 1999-2005 Former President, Texas Assn. for Transsexual Support (TATS) Former President, Gulf Coast Transgender Community Former Treasurer & Screening Committee Co-Chair, Houston Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus Former Secretary, Montrose Counseling Center. Volunteer Coord, City Councilmember Annise Parker (1st Lesbian elected to Houston political office)

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” — Chinese Proverb

The rumors have been flying for some time, and even recently Donna Rose noted on her blog about meeting with Joe Solmonese with HRC. One might think she’s going there to give them a piece of her mind (or another piece as she’s already made public her opinions post-ENDA).

As it turns out, that’s not the case. A friend of mine there locally reported of the upcoming San Francisco HRC Banquet and its accompanying protest from the bay area’s GLBT community in a show of strength. Of course, we recently received a press release of HRC holding up their current Business Council trans person, Diego Sanchez as speaker (fresh from testimony on Capitol Hill.) It wasn’t the press blurb over Diego that really got my attention, but the report that another trans person was working hard to be the trans keynote there: Donna Rose. Per the note, she was trying to be “the bridge between the two parties” by addressing the banquet.


Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell . . . and Don’t be Transgender Either

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

by Monica F. Helms Monica’s Picture

(Note: Also posted on PFLAG’s blog.)

For years, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been the official witch-hunt policy that gave the US military open-ended permission to ruin the careers of any person they suspect were “homosexuals.” It never had anything to do with whether the person actually acted upon their sexual orientation, or even if the person was really gay or not. It mostly stems from the Department of Defense’s archaic and narrow view of what they think should be gender-normative behavior for men and women, including sexual activities. Basically, you don’t have to be gay, or act gay, or be sexually active with a same-sex partner, as long as they think you’re gay. They hold all the cards.

It’s the famous oxymoron of “Military Intelligence” in play here. This is why transgender-identifying service members also find themselves snared in the DADT trolling nets that commanding officers like to throw out every so often. Maybe they have to “catch their limit” to get promoted. Who knows? But, we do know for sure that transgender service members need to be factored into the DADT mix when the discussion comes up.


A robust and healthy debate on gay military service

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

Guest blogger Dr. Nathaniel Frank is Senior Research Fellow at the Palm Center at University of California, Santa Barbara, and teaches on the adjunct faculty at New York University. His scholarship and writing on gays in the military and other topics have appeared in numerous publications and he has been interviewed on major television and radio programs. His book, Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, will be published in March, 2009.

Last week, the Palm Center released a report authored by four retired flag officers that called for the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military. The report marked the first time that a flag officer in all four service branches thoroughly analyzed the current policy and recommended ending the ban on open service by gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

Following its release, Dixon Osburn, co-founder and former executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), wrote a critique of the Palm Center report at The Bilerico Project.

Osburn, who left SLDN last year, is considered by many to be a true hero for his tireless efforts on behalf of service members who have been adversely affected by the rules governing gay service, and the Palm Center hopes that Osburn will continue to play a valuable role in the national conversation about “don’t ask, don’t tell” as he has for so many years.



Welcome My International Readers!

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

by Monica F. Helms Monica’s Picture

I have been keeping track of where people are logging in from and I am very pleasantly surprised to see that I have been getting hits from over 40 different countries, from all over the world and on every continent. I just want to take this time to welcome my international readers. It is so wonderful that the world can stay in communication with each other at an instant. The internet has shrunk the world to a true global village.

I love all of you, not because you are reading my blog, but because you have a desire to stay informed on any issue that interests you. I hope that I can spread out my message to include the needs of my new international friends. If you have any interest that I might be able to fulfill, don’t ever hesitate to ask. If I don’t have the answer, I’ll find someone who does. I really hope that even without any questions, you will find the time to post a comment here just to say “hello.”

Also, I am taking this chance to put out a special request to my international friends. If any of you are transgender military veterans in your country, or know of transgender military veterans in your country, please have them contact me at As the President of the Transgender American Veterans Association, we want to reach out to our fellow brothers and sisters who served in the military in their countries and form a coalition of transgender veterans throughout the world.

Again, thank you all for logging in. Have a great day.

A Bad Prescription for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Guest Blogger Dixon Osborn (Cross posting from The Bilerico Project)

Dixon Osburn is Co-founder and former Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The Palm Center at the University of California Santa Barbara this week published a new report by a “study group” of four flag officers calling for repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In issuing the report, the four flag officers have joined five dozen other generals and admirals that have called for repeal. The growing chorus for repeal from the highest ranks of our armed forces should be cause for celebration.

The report’s findings are indeed groundbreaking. For the first time ever, four flag officers have reviewed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in some depth and, according to the Palm Center, found that the law “prevents some gay troops from performing their duties, that gays already serve openly, that tolerance of homosexuality in the military has grown dramatically, and that lifting the ban is ‘unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order, discipline, or cohesion.’”



Transgender Inclusion Goes Mainstream

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Guest Post by Rebecca Juro

Rebecca “Becky” is probably one of the top trans bloggers in the country, with articles that appear in some of the most visible LGBTQ blogs on the Internet, including The Bilerico Project. She also hosts her own talk show, “The Rebecca Juro Show,” on QMORadio, Thursdays at 7 PM. Becky has been one of my inspirations in starting my own blog.

If there’s anything you can count on the city of San Francisco for when it comes to LGBT rights and community support, it’s that even when they’re not on the very leading edge of something, they’ll still do it bigger, better, and more fabulously than anywhere else. New York, Philadelphia, and several other major cities have had protests and demonstrations against the Human Rights Campaign at their local fundraising events, but what’s waiting for HRC in San Francisco on July 26th, when they hold their next fundraising dinner in that city, is likely to make the rest look like a warmup act.

The “Left Out” protest/counter-party, organized by Pride at Work and local area organizations, will take place outside the hotel where the HRC dinner is being held and is expected to draw more attendance than the HRC event itself, featuring appearances by celebrities and political figures who are loudly and publicly shunning the HRC event.


Congress comes out to the Transgender Community – Part 4

Monday, July 7th, 2008

Guest posting by Angela Brightfeather

Angela has been an activist for the transgender community is some form or another for the last 42 years. Some of our community’s activists weren’t even born then. She has been on the board of NTAC, It’s Time, North Carolina and the several other organizations too numberous to mention. Currently, she serves as the Vice President of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) and is one of its Co-Founders. Also, Angela is one of my closest friends.

“Final testimonies and Summary of the Hearings”

Before Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti testified or even said one word, I predicted under my breath and to myself, “She is going to jump up and give her testimony holding the mic.” I was wrong of course, but Sabrina is a no nonsense woman who many of us are used to seeing control the situation at past Southern Comfort Conference. She did not let me down. As always, Sabrina started right out with enthusiasm and conviction.

Sabrina has always been a very “real and committed” person in every respect. It became even more evident during her testimony that Sabrina Marcus is the Transgender Community and of all the testimony given that day, she is the one who represented the average TG person; you, me and the whole community. Her story is the one heard at every support group meeting on any given night when one might attend such a gathering. Sabrina is exemplary of what we are and what we have been screaming from the hilltops for so many years. No matter how much we follow the rules of life and being a good person, if we express ourselves we are going to get fired, blacklisted or worse. Please stop the pain. Not just my pain, but also that of the people I love and who love me.


Congress comes out to the Transgender Community – Part 3

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Guest posting by Angela Brightfeather

Angela has been an activist for the transgender community is some form or another for the last 42 years. Some of our community’s activists weren’t even born then. She has been on the board of NTAC, It’s Time, North Carolina and the several other organizations too numberous to mention. Currently, she serves as the Vice President of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) and is one of its Co-Founders. Also, Angela is one of my closest friends.

“Our Opposition Testifies Against Us”

Before I report on the opposition, I need to mention the testimony of Dr. Bill Hendricks of the Dow Chemical Company, who was a witness from the corporate sector. He addressed the hiring of Transgender employees and Dow’s perspective about what has happened to them.

During his testimony, I could not help but think of the work that is being done all over the country today in corporations and businesses to broaden their HR policies to include Transgender people. I specifically want to mention the work done along those lines by Donna Rose and Jamison Green, who felt compelled to “draw the line” when it came to what we used to call “biting the apple.” They recruited the favor of many HR executives in their work on behalf of our community.

I appreciate a company like Dow and many others being inclusive. I also know that they are obtaining loyal, hard working and intelligent employees in the process, people who also really appreciate their jobs.

With 48,000 employees, working in 150 countries across the world, I was rather set back to hear that they have only experienced one person transitioning. I could not help but wonder about that single employee who transitioned at Dow since 2005. That would be two and a half years, give or take a few months. I may be stepping on a few toes here in saying that it is strange for a company of 48,000 employees to have only one Transgender person who they know about, when they probably have hundreds of Transgender people working for them. I heard this perspective echoed throughout the hearing. Most people feel that the only real Transgender people who are discriminated against are those who wish to transition on the job. This assumption is ridiculous.