Posts Tagged ‘lobbying

03
Nov
12

My Mom, Joe Biden and I all agree, Transgender Discrimination is the ‘Civil Rights Issue of Our Time’

The Vice President of the United States of America giving my Mom a great big bear hug!

So, as many of you might know, my incredibly adorable and emotionally opinionated, old hippie Mom made quite a splash this week.  She had the chance opportunity to meet Vice President Joe Biden, who was coming out of the Democratic Party Headquarters in Sarasota Florida when he spotted my Mom’s big blue eyes and made a bee-line to her to give her a big old bear hug!  It was just serendipity that my Mom was next door at her hairdressers when VP Biden was in town.  She didn’t even know the Dem Headquarters were in that building!

But when my Mom saw the Secret Service guys and found out who they were there to protect, she put on a fresh coat of lipstick and talked her way through the checkpoints.  We’re a lot alike that way.  It’s little coincidence that I became a genuine Pageant Queen (Miss Trans New England 2009), or that I’ve got a lot of opinions myself, that I am never afraid to say and say it LOUD!  It’s just how I was raised.

The further details of this encounter are easy to find.  The last time I googled, “Biden + Transgender” the results were hovering around one and a half million, with over 600 ‘news’ hits.  Suffice it to say though that my Mom, when she had the opportunity to say a few words to the Vice President of The United States of America, spoke of her transgender daughter and the imperative need to help transgender people achieve full civil rights!

My Mom posing proudly with her blonde curly locked transgender daughter.

I know that the resulting statement from Biden that “Transgender Discrimination Is ‘The Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time’” was somewhat surprising for most of the world to hear. In fact he is not far from correct in his statement.  Though even as a trans woman whose main focus is on the struggle for FULL Transgender Equality, I would remind folks that the fight for trans rights is ultimately about a fight for Human Rights for all who are oppressed.  Even so, it was surprising for most of the world to hear the VP make such a strong statement in support of transgender people.

But it wasn’t surprising to me folks!  This is the woman who raised me!  The woman who, when I was a baby and she was asked to be the featured speaker at a Feminist Rally, angrily declined when they expressed discomfort at her male-bodied child being present (In hindsight, seriously ironic…).  This is the woman who built the house I grew up in with her own freaking hands!!  And who convinced our local Rep, Speaker Of The House, “Tip” O’Neill to help her get in the program that allowed her to do so.

My Mom standing excitedly by my side moments after I won the title of Miss Trans New England.

My Mother is a woman who has never been afraid to speak her mind.  Something she also raised me to do.  A woman who, when she has something that she cares passionately about, and there’s nothing she cares more passionately about than her transgender daughter, is very good at getting people to do what she wants.  So no, I was not surprised to hear that Joe Biden, after being drawn in by my Mom’s Irish Eyes a-Smiling, said exactly what she wanted him to say!

I have been very proud of my Mom not only for being so supportive of me and working so very hard to raise me to be the person I am today.  But also for the tireless efforts she puts in to try and be a friend and ally to the whole trans community.  And when she encounters those who are alone and rejected by their own families, she never hesitates to be as much of a surrogate family member to them as health and distance allow her to be.

Though I am an only child myself, through my Mom’s Love I have found a growing network of Brothers and Sisters (and Zisters!).  Her example reminds me constantly that we are not simply a community, we are a Family!

And yes, I’m pretty much bursting with pride that my Mom, Linda Carragher Bourne, changed the world just a little bit this week.  Proud that she made the public discourse over the issue of anti-transgender discrimination just a little bit louder by getting the man who holds the second highest office in the country to amplify the heck out of it!

And with that dear readers, I duly turn my blog over to my Mom.  Who has something she would like to say directly to all of you.  I’d strongly recommend that you listen.  Not that you have any more choice in the matter than even the Vice President of The United States!

Good Evening, Friends! Hope you’re enjoying your Friday “reprieves!”

Now. We have PRECISELY FOUR DAYS until Election Day. That’s not much at ALL.

I shall be putting together a Blog very soon, but, time is of the essence, and I shall not wait one single more minute to say what needs to be said!


Yeah. Luck was with me, this week, at the Democratic Headquarters here in Sarasota. I got to “catch the eye” of Vice President Joe Biden. I got to SAY to him, basically, “Our Transgender Population, which includes SO VERY MANY Loved Ones & Friends, is NOT reaping ANY Benefits of Constitutionally Affirmed Civil Rights, HUMAN RIGHTS!”

Biden, in turn, responded that Transgender Rights is “a (or “the,” depending on which news source you are reading; personally, I can’t exactly recall. Just being honest here, Friends.) ‘Civil Rights Issue of Our Time.” It was a wonderful moment, for me, personally, for my trans daughter, my countless number of Transgender Friends! It was also, let’s be frank, kind of adorable. The Hug. The sweetness of “it all.”

K. That’s DONE now, Friends. That’s YESTERDAY’S NEWS! I cannot stress that point ENOUGH! I was blessed with the HUGE opportunity to Speak OUT for Trans Rights. I was, apparently, “heard,” evidently agreed with.

Now. This Old Granny Rabble Rouser was lucky enough to “light the match.” However, the Community Organizer, from past days, rises up in me and SHOUTS: TIME’S AWASTIN’!!! We need ACTIONS! We need them more than EVER! We need them RIGHT NOW!

I am here PLEADING with each and every one of you to whom ANY Human Rights are held dear, most especially to those who are working day & night to achieve RIGHTS for Our Precious Transgender Population (which is MUCH larger than “folks” want t’ know!), to GET OUT THERE! TO MAKE SOME NOISE! To share YOUR STORIES! Wherever, However, with the Largest “audience” that you can REACH!!! This is CRUCIAL, Peeps!

I want EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU (yes YOU!!!) to be at YOUR Local Polling Place on this coming Tuesday, with your voices, with your willingness to share YOUR TRUTHS…and, yes, with your SIGNS! The ones that will inform EVERY SINGLE “about to vote” voter that YOUR LIVES and LIVELIHOODS ARE AT STAKE in this Election.

The SOLE possibility for Transgender Rights being ANYWHERE near supported, endorsed, at the Federal Level, lies with an Obama/Biden “Win.” There is ZERO possibility for anything but fewer rights, more violence, more untethered bullying and Hatred (Hate CRIMES! Loss of LIVES!!!) if their Republican Opponents are inducted into the Office of Presidency/Vice Presidency of OUR United States. ZERO. ZIP. NADA.

So. GET OUT THERE, Lovies! Make a NOISE! Be your SweetSWEET selves, but, BE HEARD!!! It’s, honestly, and quite tragically, Our Only Hope…

Yes. That ‘s precisely what I feel, what I (at 60) KNOW! Pretty eyes be damned. That’s simply an Old Hippie “Theater In The Streets” bit, Friends. Ya use what ya GOT. THEN! YOU ORGANIZE YOUR ASSES OFF!!!

Just. DO IT!!!

Love OUT! Fist Raised HIGH! Your Always Lin
Power To OUR People!!!! That includes ANY disenfranchised “group,” but my Heart is Specific here. I know a zillion of yours are too!!!

-Linda Carragher Bourne

Trans Rights Now!

If you’re looking for more on my Mom meeting the Vice President, check out these links to The Huffington Post, Advocate.com, my own paper, The Rainbow Times and The SF Weekly.

If you find yourself inspired to get involved in the fight for Trans Civil Rights, I strongly recommend checking out and contacting the following organizations to find out how!  The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

For much more in depth information about the discrimination that transgender people face daily, I urge you to read over the results of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey performed by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

And of course, don’t forget to get out and vote for Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate for President, Barack Obama next Tuesday!!!

20
Feb
11

Time To Stand Together

I‘m going to say something here that is bound to get me in trouble.  I believe that not only do trans people of all types need to band together in a unified “transgender” movement, despite our individual differences.  I also believe we have an important place in the larger LGBT movement.  Not only that, but I believe we must find ways to support and band with larger movements for social justice and freedom all around the world.

Taking it to the streets

The time is NOW!

If we want trans rights now, we need to speak out with the strikers in Wisconsin.  If we demand our basic freedom, we need to support the free peoples of Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain.  If we want to end oppression of trans people, we must work to end oppression wherever it may be found.  We should concern ourselves with the plight of the poor and the powerless on the streets of New York; in the mountains of Appalachia; and in the fields of Afghanistan.

If you are saying to yourself right now, “But why should I concern myself with all of these other problems?  I have my own problems.”  Then you have answered your own question.  This is the very attitude we, as transpeople are up against.  Most folks don’t hate us, they just don’t see why they should be bothered to help.  They have their own problems.  And everything they hear and read and watch encourages this individual focus.

If we have learned anything from the recent actions in the Middle East and Africa, it is that change will only ever happen when the people band together.  When we set aside individual concerns and turn out in numbers to demand freedom for all our Brothers and Sisters.  We saw it in Egypt when bands of Christians stood and protected their Muslim allies as they prayed.  We are seeing it in Wisconsin in the crowds that flood the Capital to say no to an unjust policy that will do nothing but hurt their neighbors.  We see it anywhere people help each other out, simply because there is need.

We must remember that the fight for trans rights is the fight for human rights.  We can either stand together and march towards victory or stand apart and suffer under the fists of oppression.

The time is now.  Together we may succeed.

11
May
10

Let’s All Pull Together To Pass A Trans-Inclusive ENDA Now!!!!

What do we want?!?

Trans-Inclusive ENDA Now!

Okay folks, I just got off the phone from a nationwide conference call with some of the best minds and hardest workers in the trans community discussing ENDA.  We discussed the realities and the misleading falsehoods, the details and the broad scope.  It was a lot to take in quite frankly and I’m still trying to process a lot of what was discussed.

But since I’m an improviser and I believe in being in the moment and going with your gut to take you where the truth is, I wanted to share with you some of my initial impressions.

A lot of what was discussed were political details.  Hows and whys and the procedures to make this happen.  Good stuff and absolutely fascinating to a political junkie like myself, but not necessarily easy to convey without some additional study.

Basically what I got though was that this version of ENDA stands a very good chance of being passed and being passed as a Trans-Inclusive Bill!  It is not perfect, nor will it be.  There are problems with ENDA.  Not insurmountable problems though.  And certainly nothing as catastrophically bad as the conjectures that have been making the rounds of the interwebs for the past few days would seem to imply.

There will be no “Genital Inspector General” appointed and no spot checks at the restroom.  The provisions in regards to bathrooms don’t make me especially happy, but it’s nothing we can’t work with and it actually is an improvement on the current workplace situation.

Mind that: “Workplace Situation”  ENDA will not affect the restroom transgender people may use when they go out to Mackey D’s or at The Courthouse.  It governs only workplace related issues.  Basically the situation is this.  An employer will not be able to force you to use the “wrong” restroom.  Though they may be able to prevent trans employees from using the “right” restroom IF it is a multi-stall restroom and they have provided an alternate solution.

That’s important.  They must make a reasonable accommodation.

I agree, not ideal and not happy.  It still gives employers the ability to single us out and create a “separate but equal” situation.  It IS better than the current state of affairs though.  Where first of all, we have no actual employment protections anyway.  And second of all, as it stands today, employers in many states MAY actually force transgender people to use the “wrong” restroom

And that brings me to my next point.  ENDA will not be the end all be-all.  It’s not even going to be all that great.  I mean, if you can describe historic friggin’ legislation as “not all that great.”….  But it will be, as Gunner Scott aptly put it, “the floor that we’re starting on.”  It will be a building block on which to base state level protections and education about transgender issues.

And that is good.  That is excellent.

We will still need to pass laws at the state legislative level to provide stronger, better protections for our community.  But these stronger, better laws will have a national precedent to help us springboard them.  And once we can get them passed they will trump the weaker ENDA.  Meanwhile, ENDA will still provide at least some protection for transfolks in places that do not currently have any protections at all!  And some protections are a heck of a lot better than the no protections at all we have right now.

Yes, it’s true, it will be a bit of time and probably several stages before we see any actual language.  There is a lot we do not know about the final form ENDA will take.  But that’s just how it is in politics folks!  That’s how every bill gets passed.  The legislative process requires us to take some risks.  To take chances.

Right now, as a community, we are going to have to take a leap of faith!!!

ENDA needs our support to happen as well as to stay Trans-Inclusive.  It’s time to stop bickering among ourselves and pull together as one, unified and powerful community.  This bill must pass and it must pass this year!!!  We will wait no longer.

So get out there and call your Congress People.  Call your Reps and tell them that you as their constituent, as their VOTING constituent, need them to help pass a Trans-Inclusive ENDA now!  Then call your Senator, so we can get them buttered up and ready to throw on the grill once the Bill comes out of The House.

There’s a tremendous amount of energy out there in the trans community right now.  If we can focus that and join ranks with a single purpose, there is nothing we may not accomplish.

Now Go!!!!  It’s time to get to work and there is not a second to waste!!!

ORIGINAL IMAGE AND CAPTION REMOVED BY REQUEST

ENDA Now!

ENDA Rally at City Hall in Northampton

People Come Together!!!

( To look at the Bill yourself, go here:  The Library Of Congress: Thomas Jefferson Legislative Information Section And search for Bill Number HR3017 )

Northampton Trans-Inclusive ENDA Rally News Segment

Northampton Trans-inclusive ENDA Rally Article in The Socialist Worker

Photos by Madeline Burrows and Elle St. Claire (Amazing Shot, but Sadly Removed -LE)

22
Jan
10

The complete text of my speech from Trans Lobby Day at The Massachusetts Statehouse

Yesterday I was honoured to be given the opportunity by Gunner Scott and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition to tell my story of employment discrimination at the Trans Lobby Day event at The Massachusetts State House.

It was a truly marvelous gathering of Transgender people and our friends and allies including legislators and members of the clergy.  I was humbled to see so many of us turn out to represent our community by working on direct action to pass a much needed Transgender Rights Bill.

It was wonderful for me to have the chance to share a podium with so many other fine speakers.  Below is the complete text of my own speech, telling the story of my long search for employment in Massachusetts and the discrimination I faced while I was engaged in it.

Transgender Lobby Day Speech

Hello.  My name is Lorelei McLaughlin.  I am a Transgender Woman and a native New Englander.  Although I’ve lived all over the country, I was born in Northampton, grew up on Cape Cod, and graduated from Barnstable High School.  I currently live in Holyoke.

About a year and a half ago I returned to Massachusetts from Southern California.  I had lost my job, which I held for several years, due to my transition.  I moved back because I felt my physical safety was at stake, but the main reason was because of the rapidly declining health of my Nana.  I had decided to come home to Massachusetts to help take care of her.

When I moved back to Massachusetts I took to finding a job as if it was a job.  I had several differently targeted versions of my resume.  I scoured craigslist and any other local job boards I could find.  I picked up the local classified sections.  I sent out scores of applications and wrote a sheaf of cover letters for all occasions for months on end.

I could fill out all the applications I wanted and no one turned me away directly, but I could never actually talk to a hiring manager or have an actual interview.  I would walk into a place with a help wanted sign IN THE WINDOW only to be told that, well, they weren’t actually hiring right now but would be happy to put my application on file.  I couldn’t even get anyone to LOOK at my resume.

There is for me a happy-ish ending that illustrates just how bad the discrimination we face is.  I did not let myself become discouraged.  While I was looking for work, I also volunteered to help with various non-profits and community organizations.  I networked like crazy, asked everyone I met if they knew of someone that was hiring.  I was asked to serve as a Board Member of Northampton Pride but still could not even get a job bussing tables.

Finally a local psychologist, Dr. Shelley Janiczek Woodson, put out that she needed an Administrative Assistant for her expanding practice.  I jumped on it.  We exchanged emails and she asked me to come in for an interview.  She was the first person to actually interview me in the 1 1/2 years of looking.  The first person to treat me as a potential employee and actually look at my resume.  She hired me practically on the spot.

Even so, she was warned by her colleagues against hiring me.  They said it would hurt her practice to have a transgender person at the front desk.  She took a chance though and her business continues to thrive.

I found the one person in a thousand willing to look at me as a person, but I was lucky.  We need this law to help the countless other transpeople even to get their feet in the door, to be given not special opportunity, but the same opportunity as anyone else.

Thank you.

For more information on how to get involved, please visit the MTPC website and support the fine work they are doing.  Also please contact your local legislators to urge them to support H1728/S1687 “An Act Relative To Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes”.  And if you don’t live in Massachusetts yourself but know someone who does, ask them to contact their own legislators and do the same!

16
Jul
09

“My Adventures in the Land of Trans Rights” or “Lorelei attends the House Judiciary Committee’s Hearing on HB1728/S1687”

Yesterday I took my radical trans self out to the Eastern part of our great Commonwealth of Massachusetts to attend the hearings being held by the Judiciary Committee at The State House on Beacon Hill in regards to HB1728/S1687, known in the English version of governmentese as “An Act Relative To Gender Based Discrimination And Hate Crimes”.

I dragged myself out of bed at the crack of dawn and did all the things I have to do to make myself not just presentable to the larger world, but to the press as well!

Somehow, I managed through a combination of highways, subways and my own two feet to arrive at The Statehouse in time for the press conference held by The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
in The Senate Reception Room at 11:00.

There were already a number of the movers and shakers in the Mass Transgender community there as well as a number of supporters.  Gunner Scott, the Director of MTPC was there as well as his new right hand woman, Rachel Katharine Zall.  Also in attendance were the chair of MTPC, Nancy Nangeroni; Ethan St. Pierre, of “The Radical Trannies” podcast on TransFM.org; and my new friend Interfaith Leader, Mycroft Masada Holmes.

There were a number of others there as well, including a very nice woman who was there with her transmale son.  I spoke with her and her son for a few minutes as I regained my “social sea-legs”.  They were totally inspirational to me!  It’s so nice to see such support at the family level.  She just absolutely loves and supports her son and they were both pitching in to fight the good fight for Trans Right!!!

The press conference was fairly brief, essentially just an overview of the bill we are supporting, the work that MTPC has been doing and an introduction of several of the expert panel members who would be testifying later.

At this point, I did not expect to be testifying myself, I was simply there to support as a face in the crowd (albeit a fabulous one!) and a body in the seats.

After the press conference, I went and had a small lunch at Finagle A Bagel down the street with Mycroft.  And by lunch, I mean, for myself, primarily coffee!  (My lifestyle brought to you by the miracle of coffee!)

I have always loved watching the crowds of business people and others in the lunch hour buzz of downtown Boston and was pleased to have such excellent company and conversation to share it with.

Lunch was over fast though as Mycroft got a message from Gunner saying that bodies were needed in the lobby of The Gardner Auditorium where the Hearings were being held.  So off we went, back into the fray.  As we entered the State House we passed a couple of sweet looking little old ladies holding a banner for MassResistance, a group that has put an astonishing amount of time energy and effort into hating LGBT folks!!!
So much so that I often wonder what kind of issues the folks in charge of that particular Hate Group are repressing?  I’m not saying anything particular, but I’ll just mention that they put as much energy into hating us as I put into loving cheese (sweet, glorious, yummy cheese…)!!!!!!

I greeted them with a pleasant hello anyway, because that’s just how I roll.  And also because they were “kind enough” to give me some fabulous publicity when I first came back to the East Coast, by making me essentially the face of “The Tranny Menace In Massachusetts”.  A fact which my friend Justin Adkins, a hardworking trans-activist of note I might add, and a great guy, seems to be quite jealous of!!
(Note to MassResisitance: Justin feels awfully slighted by your ignorance of him!  He’s just as Evil as the rest of us you know, and he’s been working really hard spread the Transgender Agenda!!)

As soon as we got to the lobby of the auditorium I was intercepted by Dan Ring of The Springfield Republican for an interview.  He needed a Western Mass transperson to interview and had been aimed at “The really tall girl around here somewhere”, which is actually a pretty accurate description of me and my habit of being in as many places as possible.

It was a decent interview, Dan seemed like a good enough guy.  It was really super-hot in The Statehouse though and as I poured sweat in the interview I couldn’t help thinking of Dick Nixon facing down Kennedy in their famous debate.  Thankfully I fared a might better than old Tricky Dick.

As soon as the interview was over I was asked if I was interested in testifying and since I make a point of saying “yes” as often as possible, I signed my name to the dotted line.  Gulp.  “Oh my, I guess that’s that.” I thought.  Somehow, I always knew I would end up testifying before some governmental committee.  I’m just glad no one was asking if I was now or ever had been a member of the Communist Party.  I’m not by the way, but my politics are pretty far left…  Oh heck, just call me Comrade!!  (wink, wink)

Caught up in the whirlwind at this point, I was glad to be called upon to switch into “techie mode” for awhile.  I was “volunteered” to help Gordene MacKenzie, Nancy Nangeroni’s life partner and co-host with her of “GenderVision” and also a very nice woman, to set up the camera and microphones for taping all the testimonies.

Nothing gets me over a case of the nerves like adjusting a tripod, plugging in wires and setting levels!  A potentially hostile and packed crowd full of strangers immediately becomes simply an obstacle to be gotten through when I’m carrying camera equipment!
I tied my hair back and I was able to set aside thoughts like, “OMG!!!!  What the heck am I going to say!?!?!” for several minutes while I fiddled with knobs and listened for buzzing.

After all that was fairly well-settled and set up, it was time for the waiting.
I stood around, listening to testimony on a bunch of other, very interesting bills.  I opened up my trusty yellow pad and quickly outlined what I was going to say.  Three minutes to testify and hopefully get my message across, so I kept it as simple as I know how.

2:30, the appointed time for the testimony on our bill came and went.  3:00, 3:30, time passed as we all waited, asking each other for any scraps of useful information on when our testimonies would be heard.  All the while the pressure differentials of the packed auditorium were wreaking havoc with my sinuses and seriously f—king with my equilibrium.  I could hear the sound of my own breathing echoing in my ears and the room sounded like I was underwater.  Awfully unsettling.

Finally, around 4-4:30, the judiciary committee chair, Newton Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (D), announced that they would begin hearing testimony on “An Act Relative To Gender Based Discrimination And Hate Crimes”.

I couldn’t hope to do justice to the details of the many, many testimonies that were offered by both sides of the issue.  However, I will relay my general impressions.

I was especially impressed by one of the initial speakers in support of the bill, Jennifer Levi, Esq., Transgender Rights Project Director at GLAD.  Her testimony was informative, insightful, well reasoned and very persuasive. Immediately after she finished the Committee asked her a number of questions all of which she answered like a pro.  Well okay, I guess actually she is a pro, but her answers simplified and explicated a number of complex issues.

For hours the testimonies continued.  Back and forth, between supporters of the bill and those who opposed the bill.

On our side, we had people from all across the spectrum.  Transpeople with personal stories of triumph and difficulty.  All manner of experts.  Parents of transfolks.  Professional business types.  Pretty much all walks of life were intelligently and movingly represented.

As for the opposition.  I will try to be fair.  There were those who seemed decent enough and genuinely concerned.  For the most part though, I was shockingly reminded of just how much blind hatred and ignorance there still is out there towards transgender people.
I sat and listened as we were called all kinds of horrible things.  Rarely directly mind you, usually by association.  We were alluded to as potential child molesters and perverts.  Emotionally charged stories of rape and abuse were used as arguments against us.  None of these stories involved transpeople doing the raping or abusing mind you, but it was implied that if this bill passes it would open the door for all kinds of perverts and predators to begin their reign of terror in the name of the evil “gender expression”.

I listened to endless streams of testimony about “The Bathroom Bill”.

While we were asking for equal rights, for protections against job discrimination and violent Hate Crimes, our opposition was more concerned with where we should pee!

The usual cries of “Save the children!” were heard over and over.  Despite the fact that not a single incident involving a transperson attacking someone in a public restroom has ever been reported.  Despite also the fact that most child-molestation occurs within the family unit.

The opposition to this bill that would protect the basic human rights of transgender people, often seemed to boil down to the fact that they were “uncomfortable” with us.
I know what my kindergarten teacher would have said about this.  She was a sweet but stern woman, who would have told them that there are all kinds of people in the world and just because some people are different and that makes you uncomfortable is no reason not to let them join in your games.  “Now go back and play nice or I’ll have to make you stand at the fence for five minutes.”

There was one Catholic priest who used the tired old “Deuteronomy calls them an abomination” argument.  To which I badly wanted the opportunity to point out that Deuteronomy also strongly recommends the stoning of Sabbath Breakers!!

Sadly also, a number of the testimonies from the opposition to the bill called upon the name of the DSM-IV, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.  Which lists gender dysphoria among a whole host of serious and troubling other philias.  Our inclusion as a group in this book was used to link us to the aforementioned perverts, predators and pedophiles.  Another strong reason why we need to step up the fight to have ourselves removed from the next edition, the DSM-V, currently being compiled, just as the Gays were removed from it years ago!

As I grew more tired, I began to welcome the testimonies from our opposition, as the anger that was stirred up each time was helping to keep my caffeine starved-self awake!

Finally as the room was slowly emptying and the night wore on, I heard my own name called.  I was totally prepared and had been ready for hours, but as soon as I sat down at the single brown table in the middle of the room, between the audience and the Judiciary Committee’s long table, I was swept by a wave of nerves.  I could feel myself shaking ever so slightly.  It was as if I had never spoken in front of a crowd before.  The literally thousands of people I’ve performed for over the years disappeared from my mind.
I was just Lorelei, trying to tell my story.  Hoping the words came out that needed to be said.

I told them I was a proud transgender woman and talked briefly about my family’s long history in the State of Massachusetts.  I then went on to talk about my difficulties obtaining a job and the sometimes subtle but still overwhelming amount of prejudice and discrimination that I have faced.  Essentially a pared down version of what I submitted in my written testimony, but with the force of being an actual person speaking before them.  Trembling slightly, scared and nervous, but not afraid to speak up for what I believe in.

As soon as I saw the sign that said “Time” flashed by the woman sitting quietly to my left in front of the table, I wrapped up with a statement that I had written out so I could deliver it clearly and succinctly.

“I support this bill because I wish to have the opportunity to once more become a gainfully employed and contributing member of society and this great Commonwealth.  Thank you.”

After I delivered my testimony I stayed for a while longer to listen to others and finally, at around 10:30, with the hearing still going I began the long midnight journey back to Western Mass with my friend Danica Marie, who also gave a very powerful and moving testimony, along for the ride.

All in all it was a glorious day!!  I felt like we were ready and fully charged for the battle we fought.  It made me proud to see so many transfolks stepping forward in solidarity and speaking up for the rights we deserve!

Hopefully we were heard loud and clear and the Judiciary Committee will pass this crucial bill along for approval by the House and Senate.

It’s hard to know what will happen from here, but one thing is for certain.  We will never give up the struggle against discrimination and hatred.  No matter what the outcome of this single battle, we will never give up the fight for Transgender Rights!!!!  We cannot and we must not.

03
Jul
09

My testimony in support of “An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes.”

Dear Honorable Members of The Joint Committee On The Judiciary,

Hello.  My name is Lorelei McLaughlin and I am a transgender woman, Massachusetts born and raised.  I was born in Northampton, grew up on Cape Cod and graduated from Barnstable High School.  My Great-great-great-great-grandfather Noahdiah Leonard was a Minuteman at Lexington and served throughout The War For Independence in The Continental Army.  Part of UMass Amherst was built on what used to be my family farm.  And one of the biggest fish hatcheries in the Northeast, The Charles L. McLaughlin Fish Hatchery in Belchertown was named after my Grandfather, who was Director of The Massachusetts Department Of Fish And Game in the early sixties. I mention all these things not to brag, but to impress upon you my and my family’s long connection to and active history in this great state.

Although I have lived in several diverse parts of the country over the past few years, I have always counted Massachusetts as home.  Recently, due to circumstances surrounding my transition, I have returned to Massachusetts to reside.  Since I started Hormone Replacement Therapy and began to live full-time as a woman, I have encountered a great deal of prejudice, discrimination and even outright hatred.

Thankfully for me, my family has been very supportive.  This is not often the case for many transpeople however.

I am proud to posses a stellar resume.  I have run companies, been trusted with management positions, consistently shown both loyalty and the ability to excel in whatever field I have worked in and have excellent references.

Despite this, I have been fairly consistently unemployed since I began my transition.
By training and profession, I am an actor and comedic performer.  However, these are rarely lucrative professions, so I am often forced to seek additional employment in order to support myself.

Stereotypically, I have often worked in the service industry.  I am a great waitperson for instance with exceptional experience in all levels of service, from diners to fine-dining.
I have also worked in more technically oriented positions in theaters and niteclubs.  Most recently, I was the Showroom Manager for several years at The World Famous Hollywood Improv.  A position I lost unexpectedly after I returned to it from a leave to take care of a dying relative at the beginning of my transition.

These are positions which often required me to interact with the public as an integral part of my job.  This is something I am extraordinarily good at.  I am a “people person” who is affable, friendly, easy going and good natured.  I like people and make friends easily.  I am a team player and a hard worker.

I am, in short, just the kind of person you would want to represent your business.  Except, apparently, that I also happen to be a transgender woman.

I have been pounding the pavement for years.  Dropping off resumes, asking for interviews.  I am very good at this.  My people are hard-workers with a strong employment ethic.  I treat looking for a job as a job.  I even have different versions of my resume for potential employers in different fields.  Before I came out as a trans woman I never had any trouble at all securing employment in a timely manner.

None of this seems to help.

Although no one has yet been foolish enough to outright deny me the chance to fill out an application, it’s the same story over and over.  I can fill out as many applications as I want, yet somehow every place I go has either just filled the job or is not actually hiring now “just looking” or I get a promise that my resume will be “put in the stack”.  I almost never get the chance to have an interview.  When I ask if there is anyone I can speak to, that person has always just left or won’t be in until later in the week.

Individually, these things would seem to be perfectly reasonable and not especially discriminatory.  Added together though, there is such an incredible homogeneity to these responses.  The remarkable similarity of the responses and lack of even the tiniest shreds of interest are far too overwhelming to be simply coincidental.

I present myself well and professionally.  Never more than the most basic makeup, always conservatively and appropriately dressed.  I smile and am friendly, courteous and respectful no matter how I think I am being treated.

I am easily readable as transgender however.  Although I make an effort to be the best woman I can be, I am very tall and so invite closer scrutiny by my height alone.  My resume also betrays this information.  It is obvious that I have changed my name, I note it so that anyone who wishes to check my references will not be confused or think I am trying to hide anything.  Additionally, I am open and out about my transgender status.  I won’t bring it up in a job interview unless there is reason, but I am totally comfortable discussing it.  I am proud to be who I am.

But no matter what I do.  No matter how many places I go.  I cannot seem to get an even break.  I am consistently denied the opportunity to prove I can be just as good an employee as anyone else with the same qualifications.  If not better and more motivated to prove it!

To get this chance though, I need your help!

Please help pass H.1728/S.1687, “An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes.”

I am not asking for any special rights, I only desire to be allowed the fair chance to secure and then to keep gainful employment as well as decent housing and equal access to community services and programs.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and hopefully, for your support of H.1728/S.1687.

Sincerely,
Lorelei McLaughlin

For info on how to submit your own testimony to the Judiciary Committee before the preferred deadline of July 10th, follow the link below to the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition website.  They’re fine folks who are working hard to help you!!!

Submitting Written Testimony

27
May
09

An Open Letter To California (And All Americans) About Gay Marriage

Lorelei At City Hall

Hellooo California!!!  Are you there!?!?  Because I’ve got some things to say about this whole Gay Marriage issue.

Forgive me while I resort to internet slang but, OMG, WTF!!!!

Where is the liberal bastion of free thinking and human rights that I used to admire?!?!

What happened to the gleaming Camelot of the West Coast that seemed so open-minded and accepting to me when I was desperate to escape the Midwest 8 years ago?!

What kind of topsy-turvy, bizarro world do we live in where Gay Marriage is legalized in Iowa and Maine, but not California?!?!?!!?!

Seriously, you’re going to make me break the “!” and the “?” buttons on my keyboard if you keep this up Cali!!!

Somehow, I fail to grasp the logic of your Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Prop 8 but also allow to stand the 18,000 Gay Marriages that were performed during the minute and a half that all marriages were considered legal and sacred in your state.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to be the one to have to tell Mister Sulu that he can’t be married to the man he loves either.  I’ve seen that guy wield a sword.

But you just can’t say that a certain group does not deserve the same rights as everyone else, except these folks who managed to cash in on our “Short time limited offer!”  If I had known that Equal Marriage Rights were simply an infomercial offer, I would have encouraged my marriage oriented Gay friends to send in their $19.95 +S&H, tout suite!!!  Maybe they could have gotten a Popeil Pocket Fisherman along with their marriage license.  Or a set of Ginsu Knives as a wedding gift from the State of California!!!

I’m not saying I don’t think these folks don’t deserve to be married.  They Do!!!!  I’m just saying that the law shouldn’t be allowed to be seen as a “sometimes, if it’s convenient, or if we mess up it’s okay” kind of thing!!!

I just don’t see how your Supreme Court’s decision makes any logical sense California!

Of course I don’t really understand how we could have fought to assure equal marriage rights for all Californians (I was one of you at that time;  a proud Angeleno!!), on a constitutional basis no less, only to have what was declared to be a Basic Human Right taken away by a so called “popular vote”!!  Huh!?!?  I thought Basic Human Rights, especially ones protected by writ of Constitution, were not open to the whims of “popular opinion”.  Isn’t it the job of the courts to protect the Constitution from things like this?

Please forgive all the quotation marks I’m using here.  I simply don’t believe that Proposition 8 had anything to do with popular opinion at all.  I actually believe, foolish though I may be, that most Californians, most Americans in fact, are pretty open-minded and fair people.  This is a country founded upon virtues of Tolerance and Respect.
It is my well-researched opinion that Proposition 8 is the result of a well-financed and bigoted campaign of hate and intolerance by a relatively small minority.  I won’t name names here.  I’ll just say “But isn’t that wrong Davey?”
But I digress.  Allow me to reign in the sarcasm here and ask you all a question I have asked before.

Shouldn’t all Americans enjoy the same equal rights?  Is there some thing that I’m missing that somehow makes homosexuals fundamentally undeserving of the same privileges that heterosexuals enjoy?

I have never understood the mindset that believes gay people are undermining basic family values whilst at the same time denying them the ability to support those very same values!!!

In the past few months I have heard many arguments for and against the issue of Gay Marriage.  Even from people whose inclination would be to support our brothers and sisters in their fight.  One argument along these lines that I’ve heard a lot of is that Gay People should leave “Marriage” alone as a strictly Christian Sacrament and settle for civil unions.  I disagree.

First and foremost is the fact that our Government treats marriage and civil unions as different entities.  With civil unions being a distinctly lower grade with fewer rights.  I was “Married” once myself and believe me, whether or not the priest performed the ceremony didn’t amount to a hill of beans without the proper government forms and consents. I know when I did it, I had to get permission and approval from the great State of Illinois, as well as pay a fee.  I’m pretty sure that makes it squarely an issue of “The State”.  As in that which is separated from “The Church”.

I was somehow under the impression that one of the things that makes this a great democracy is our separation of church and state.  I believe marriage is a civic issue.  Marriage, although also a religious ceremony, is primarily a civic issue in this country.  And we’re supposed to have a separation of church and state.  So a civic issue, and I believe, a civil right it is.

It’s not so long ago that the same bigots who oppose Gay Marriage were calling interracial marriages unnatural and wrong.  And calling the couples who dared to defy that sentiment perverts.

As for marriage being a Christian sacrament.  Yes it is.  But the idea and the label for it, long predates Christianity.

In the interest of full disclosure I should mention here that I am in fact an Ordained Minister and Student of Theology, among other things.

I’ve done a bit of digging about this, because I wanted to have something intelligent to say to the 500 people I spoke to at a rally in Northampton, MA back in November when Proposition 8 was first passed.  A brief perusal of the history of marriage reveals that our concept of it has changed radically over the last couple thousand years. most noticeably and dramatically in the last century or two.

Arranged Marriages for instance are no longer common in the Western World.  In fact this whole idea of marrying the person we love is really new!  Women are no longer expected to maintain the home and bear a good crop of chilluns’.  Men can no longer summarily dismiss their wives if they feel they have grown tired of her or she is somehow unclean.

And they certainly aren’t allowed to sell their daughters.

Why shouldn’t we allow Gay People to get married?  Doesn’t that support the good moral values that religious nuts are always accusing homosexuals of undermining?

I’ll spare you the specific bible quotes.  But trust me, for every piece of scripture I hear denigrating homosexuals, I could quote you ten other completely ridiculous scriptural laws forbidding all kinds of things that no Christian I know pays any attention to.

For one thing, The Lord is really effing serious about this whole “Not working on The Sabbath” thing.  Violators are supposed to be stoned to death.  By contrast, homosexuals are briefly mentioned as not being allowed to be part of His church.

To take this all a step further, Christ Himself was the one who turned all of that Old Testament nonsense on it’s ear and pretty much said we should all love each other and leave the judging up to Him.  Presumably he was talking about Gay Folks as well as Sabbath Breakers and Menstruating Women.

To conclude, I believe that it is not Gay People trying to make a religious issue into a civil matter.  Nor is it mainstream Christian folks trying to make a civil matter into a religious one.

It’s a few powerful bigots making a mockery of the teachings of Christianity and the Values of Good Americans to support their own closed minded and hateful beliefs.

Please.  If you believe in this country.  If you believe that all people should be allowed to lead lives of dignity and respect.  If you believe that we should judge not, lest we be judged.  If you believe in the ability of humanity to rise above our petty differences and move forward into the new Millennia.  I urge you to support our Brothers and Sisters in California and around the country in their fight for equal rights and the chance to legally Marry the person they Love.
This is not just an issue for Californians, or for the LGBT Community.  It is an issue for all of us.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Slainte Chugat!!!
Reverend Lorelei Erisis




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