Posts Tagged ‘Northampton

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

02
May
09

I Got My Hair done For The First Time!!!

I got my hair done the other day for the very first time!!!  It was a major milestone for me in my transition.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Umm, Lorelei?  How that heck have you managed to avoid ever getting your hair done?!!?!’

I mean, I’ve had haircuts certainly.  And I even had my hair stripped white once so I could dye it bright blue for my wedding.  It’s a long story.  Someday I’ll show you all the video.

Anyhow, like I said, I’ve never had my hair DONE.  All girly at the salon Done.

I’ve been letting my hair grow for a couple of years now, since I decided to go ahead and really, truly, actually transition.  It grows like a weed, I’m really lucky, and it had gotten really long.  Like halfway down my back.  It had actually gotten so long that it was getting caught in my armpits when I sleep and I would often end up cranking my neck when I tried to turn over.

I’ve actually had long hair for most of my life.  My parents were good hippies and in all the pictures of me as a little kid I’ve got longish curly blonde hair and people would always say when they saw the pics, “Oh, what a cute little girl!”  It is little wonder I have gender issues…  At some point though, anatomy got in the way and people started to say, “What a cute boy.  And what nice hair he has!”

I cut it for a minute in Middle School in a desperate attempt to get teased less.  It really didn’t work though so I let it grow back as soon as I got to High School.  The point between short hair and long was soooo wretched and awful and Mullet-esque that I felt greatly compelled not to do anything so foolish as cutting it again!

This caused some problems socially, as I considered myself neither a hippie (my parents were hippies and a girl’s got to rebel somehow!) or a metal-head.  The two main long hair social sets.  I thought of myself as more of a punk.  I preferred the Dead Kennedys and The Sex Pistols to The Greatful Dead or Def Leppard!!!

I was also fascinated by mod/traditional skinhead culture and style.  I was friends with a number of what I thought of as Garden Variety Skins.  Not the Neo-Nazi type mind you.  The ones I knew hated them for giving skinsheads a bad rep.  They weren’t necessarily rascist so much as angry and alienated.

Still, I certainly wasn’t going to cut my hair, so for a while when anyone asked I told them I was “A Skippy”.  A skin-hippie.  I dressed like a skin, but I had long hair and I have never been very angry or violent.  It did help keep all the short kids with a chip on their shoulder from picking on me though.

I also discovered that girls often liked me because of my hair and were not shy about saying so.  Let’s face it, I was a shy Doctor Who fan who liked to get all dressed up like a girl when I was at home alone.  I was going to take every compliment I could get.

Still, my realization of the fact that girls liked my hair gave me good reason to resist all urges to cut it.  Even to get that big Roostertail Mohawk I have always wanted!

After I got off Cape and moved to Northampton (the first time), my friends quickly began to notice that anytime I was hitting on a cute girl, I would take my hair down.  I usually kept it in a ponytail.  I often still do.

I would be talking to a girl and eventually, my hair would come cascading down, long, dark blonde and naturally wavy.   And  surprisingly, it usually worked!!!  I was absolutely incorrigible.  There’s more shameless tactics I used in my adventures trying to meet cute women, but that’s for another time.  Allow me to stay hair-focused here.

Eventually I moved to Boston and my hair stayed with me.  I became a club kid, and a Goth.   Concurrently.  Trust me it’s a much harder balance than you would think.

And I discovered Manic Panic!!!  My long hair entered it’s multi-coloured phase.  It was streaked purple and red and green.  All done at home.  Usually by girlfriends or drunk friends or even drunk girlfriends!!!

I got my hair trimmed every so often.  Every six months to a year usually.  And it was never more than getting rid of the dead ends.

Then, after my hair and I went traveling around Europe for a piece, I came back to Boston to a seriously unstable girlfriend a fair bit of apathy about my life there and decided it was time for a change.  Time to go, go, go!!!

So I moved to Chicago!  The windy city!!  And like I said it was time for a change.  I went and I found a reputable hairdresser and I said, “I want to cut it off.”  At the time of course that had a different connotation than it does when I tell people that same thing nowadays.

I cringed as I heard the scissors near my head.  I practically got my ears lopped off from flinching at the sound.  I got my first “guy haircut” in a little more than a decade.
I usually kept it in what I thought of as the “Superman Style”, short but slightly wavy on top.  This generally rapidly progressed to what I referred to as the “Mad Scientist” style.

My hair has always been very fast growing and thick.  Despite my new attempts at “being a man”, I never got any better about how often I visited the hairdresser’s.  I tried to do it every six months at least, but that meant I often ended up with big, unruly hair.  Styling it for me usually consisted of running a strong brush through it and hoping for the best.  I begged, I pleaded, but more often than not, my hair simply did as it pleased.

I kept my hair short for some years after that.  Through Chicago and a Marriage and all the craziness afterwards leading to my move to LA.

I was desperate that if I kept my hair short, I could pull off this whole being a man thing.  Like I said.  It didn’t work.  And when I did decide to transition I immediately began growing it out, or more specifically, simply not cutting it.  For a fairly frightening minute or two, I looked a little like Kenny G on a bender.

Still, even when my hair was long and girly again, something was never quite right.  For all my bluster, I am as insecure about my appearance as any transwoman.  Any Woman for that matter!!!  My hair was the same basic style it had always been and so I always looked just a little like “Mac” to me.  No matter how girly I am becoming.

I had been putting off getting my hair done for the longest time.  Finding all kinds of excuses not to do it.  Finally though, I had a big show coming up.  I’m hosting Northampton Gay Pride!!!!  Kind of a milestone really.  An out and proud TransWoman hosting Pride!!!

I was going to have to look my absolute best!!  It was time to get my hair done.  But where?!!?  I agonized.  My very patient friends listened to me agonize.  At last, my friend Annie took matters into her own hands and arranged for me to meet with Debbie Droy, “The Foil Queen Of Main Street”!!!  Debbie is the owner of The Underground Day Spa on Main Street in Northampton.  And she is FABULOUS!!!!!!!!

I walked into the Main Street store front with the London Underground inspired sign and down a flight of stairs, it is indeed underground, and came out in a very light and airy and pleasant feeling salon.  It is actually only kind of underground, the widows open up on a nice bright and sunny back entrance.

Debbie asked me what I had in mind.  I should mention here that I know I am a nightmare type of hairdressing customer.  I haven’t been living as a girl very long and I don’t speak “hairdresser’s” at all.  I think I kind of stammered something like, “Kind of a trim maybe and some kind of coloring maybe kinda-sorta-thing.”

But Debbie patiently asked me all the right questions and had a great manner.  Very friendly and professional and sure.  She was fast, but she never rushed.  She washed my hair and trimmed it so it regained all of it’s natural bounce and curl. Then she put in the bleach for the blonde streaks I wanted and worked with my idea to do something fun without going too extreme.  I have a tendency towards doing extreme things.

She put the foils in my hair and talked with me pleasantly about all kinds of things and then I got to sit in the steamer for the first time!!!!  Debbie gave me the latest copy of glamour to read (at my request) and I felt so damned girly!!!!!!  It was great!!

I remember watching women in those steamer/dryer things at the salon as a child with my Mother and it seemed like such a special club!  And I wanted so badly to join!!

Here I was at last.  In the girl’s club at the salon, getting my hair done.

When Debbie took the foils off, I saw a brand new Lorelei emerging.  She had given me these wonderful looking blonde streaks and my hair looked so good!  She blow-dryed my hair so we could get a good look and it looked fantastic!  There was less “Mac” looking back at me from the mirror.  I felt new.

I thanked Debbie, who assured me if there was anything I was unhappy with I should come back and she would tweak it for me (my language here, a little tech-y, I know).

There was absolutely nothing wrong with my hair though.  In fact I couldn’t be happier!!

I thanked Debbie and asked for propaganda so I could tell my friends!  Then I walked out into downtown Northampton.  No makeup.  Sweating with the 98 degree heat.  And I felt Beautiful.  OMG!!!  I felt so confident and happy!  Like I could do anything.  Simply because I had a Great New ‘Do!!

I even got hit on in the street by a pretty young black man!  Very pretty.  Yum.

I never had any idea how marvelous it is to get your hair done!  I could never quite understand why all the women I knew were always doing it.  I mean sure, I understood the desire to be well presented and to want to look pretty.  But I had no idea simply how good it feels!!!

Yaaayyyyy!!!

So thanks Debbie Droy for my first real sexy hairdo!!  Thanks Underground Day Spa!!!

I highly recommend giving them a visit.  It’s well worth it.  They were more than trans-friendly.  They were trans-relaxed.  And they have a whole range of Spa services.  Massage, a steam room, facial treatments, waxing and of course Great Hair styling!!!

I’ll be going back to try them all!

Slainte!

Underground Day Spa
151 Main Street
Northampton, MA 01060
413.586.4050

http://www.theundergrounddayspa.com

Fabulous!!!

Fabulous!!!




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