Take care…

18 10 2011

People who know my story will understand — it’s time to say goodbye and move on to simply living….. Be well everyone.





Just to clarify…

2 02 2011

I have been recently accused of selling advertising on my blog to make a profit from my writings here.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I would like everyone who stops by here to know that I do not generate a singe penny from this blog…. I am not responsible for any advertising that might appear on any pages here – they are generated by WordPress as, after all, the blog does not cost me anything and they must make some income somewhere… there’s never something for nothing.

The intent of this blog has never been to make money from it at any point in time; it is an information-sharing platform whose purpose has been merely to pass along my thoughts and information as I transitioned.  Many of the things I’ve had to do, others will no doubt also have to do, so hopefully gleaning these pages may find an answer for you.  I have been nothing if not honest and forthright in my writing, and very personal at times, sharing some extremely personal experiences along the way, again with the sole hope of educating others.. nothing more, nothing less.





So done with SNL….

1 02 2011

On January 29th, SNL aired a very dehumanizing skit about our community, specifically the TS community.  It was hurtful, it was spiteful and insensitive, and it was not funny. Sent to NBC Studios/SNL….

I have been a very supportive and avid fan of SNL since the show first aired way back when.  I am a transsexual woman, living in the NY Metro area, I am professionally employed, I have a family I support and am a part of the local community.  Never in my 48 years have I felt so marginalized and abused as with the airing of this skit on the most recent SNL.

I recently transitioned, and work was the most difficult, in trying to maintain relationships and the respect of others.  I’ve had my very personal information briefed to over 550 coworkers with very specific information about my transition.  Your skit will now only make it that much harder to maintain that respect.

You may see it as funny, but it is not.  Trans-identified individuals are the most maligned group of any: more than one-third of all trans will take their own lives, while 80%, including myself, have seriously contemplated suicide.  As a Suicide crisis counselor, this is an issue I fight to reverse every day.  How can you be so very insensitive to a group of individuals who already suffer extreme discrimination and bias – do you realize that many trans are fired because of their desire to live, that they lose their homes, cannot afford basic healthcare or even food?  That we lose our families – as I have – thank you for that too and now MY children will get a good laugh.. sadly they will be all the more embarrassed.

You should be embarrassed for putting that trash on the air, and I request an apology – on air – to the community, particularly the transsexual community.. we are just like you, trying to get by, support our families, be responsible citizens, and simply live our lives as normally and uneventfully as possible… thank you for screwing that all to hell…..





The bathroom issue – a federal perspective

29 01 2011

Let’s talk bathroom access and the federal workplace.  For those not in the know, the one singular mountainous issue that all transsexuals must ascend is that of where to pee.  You would think that this would be a simple issue: you’ve transitioned, you’re dressed in your target gender each and every day, 24/7…. you therefore believe that you should be entitled access to the bathroom that matches your gender presentation.  Think again.

Now, let’s review… If, for example, you are employed in the County of Suffolk, on Long Island, there is:

Local Law No. 14 – 2001, Suffolk County, New York – A local law to strengthen and implement application of county human rights law to public accommodations, employment and housing. (effective 10/05/2001).  States in part:

Section 2. (G.)  The term “gender” shall mean both the biological and social characteristics of being female or male.

(H.)  The term group identity shall mean race, color, religion, age, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or disability.

Section 89-13. (A.) It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice:

1.). For an employer to refuse to hire or to bar or to discharge from employment or to discriminate against any individual in promotion, compensation, or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of the group identity of such individual.

Seems straightforward enough, except for one important detail:

“Unfortunately, as a county agency, the Commission does not have jurisdiction over federal agencies such as the FAA, and will therefore be unable to assist you in this matter.
~ James L. Kokindo, Jr., Investigator,
Suffolk County Human Rights Commission

So, a federal agency is legally able to discriminate against a resident of Suffolk County, and therefore, one’s rights are meaningless to the County…. one law that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

Now, let us ascend to the federal level.  In 2009, not long into President Obama’s term, there was a key important change to the disclaimer on the “USAJobs” website, the primary site for finding federal employment.  It states:

“A federal agency cannot discriminate against an employee or applicant with respect to the terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other factor that is nor related to job performance…”

This looks all so very wonderful and reassuring, except if you seriously wish to enforce it.  Accept it for what it is… a hollow statement designed to placate the masses.  PLain and simple.  And you have similar others:

“The Federal Aviation Administration is committed to compliance with all anti-discrimination laws, regulations and policies.  We have zero tolerance for discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, sex…”

The U.S. Department of Transportation will maintain a model Federal work environment that is free of discrimination.  The Department will assure equal employment opportunity for employees and applicants for employment regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, et al….  The Department will enforce zero tolerance of discrimination in the workplace…..”

Heck, even our President found some gay pride:

“I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.”

Apparently, that does not apply to federal agencies, the very entity that the President oversees.  With one stroke of his pen, he could set aside eons of prejudice, but that would be both progressive and brave… and likely the death knell to their political career.  But that’s what all of this is about, isn’t it?  Politics and people’s political careers, whether elected or appointed….  basic human rights is a very kewl principle indeed, except with it comes time to stand up and be counted.  The response from those who are supposed to stand up and argue for people’s basic rights?  “This is a very difficult situation.”  And we haven’t even touched on the concept of having one’s so very personal information briefed to over 550 co-workers…. hey, (insert name) I heard is getting a divorce; where’s my employee briefing?  Keri, you are taking this waaay too personally….

Ok,  but the last quotes mentioned discrimination on the basis of sex; but, says the ignorant one, “aren’t we like talking about trannies?  I mean a tranny woman is really a guy. Well, closed-minded one, let’s take a look at:

Diane J. Schroer vs. James H. Billington, Library of Congress – On March 31, 2006, a Federal Court ruled that a case may proceed based on potential violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.  Finding that sex may not be

a cut-and-dried matter of chromosomes,” the court ruled that federal protections against sex discrimination may also protect transgender people who are discriminated against based on their gender identity.

In rejecting the government’s argument that discrimination against transgender people is not sex discrimination, the court noted

“the factual complexities that underlie human sexual identity. These complexities stem from real variations in how the different components of biological sexuality — chromosomal, gonadal, hormonal, and neurological — interact with each other, and in turn, with social, psychological, and legal conceptions of gender.”

On September 19, 2008, a federal district judge ruled that the Library of Congress illegally discriminated against Schroer, in a groundbreaking decision that found that discriminating against someone for changing genders is sex discrimination under federal law.  On April 28, 2009, the judge ordered the government to pay nearly $500,000 in compensation for the discrimination, which was the maximum he could award in the case. Federal District Judge James Robertson’s ruling is the first to hold that the federal sex discrimination statute, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, applies to transgendered people.

So… it would seen we have federal protections both on the basis of gender identity and also, much more importantly I would argue, on the basis of sex.  A hugely monumental ruling in identifying, from a legal perspective, that a person’s physical composition does not sex make.  But…. this is one jurisdiction’s ruling, and is precedent only so far.  This is so far as LGBT community legal advocates being scared to death to force the issue for fear of this case, or any case directly concerning this volatile issue of access, making its way to the Supreme Court and being ruled against.  The Schroer case went unappealed by the Justice Department.

One other interesting, and pertinent, ruling was handed down in the State of Minnesota in 2002.  In the case of Cruzan vs. Special School District, the issue of access to public bathrooms specifically addressed by the federal courts. In this landmark case, the ruling was made in June 2002 by a federal appeals court that an employer is within its rights to instruct a transgendered employee to use the restroom matching their new presentation. The ruling states that if another employee complains, the employer may offer the complainant an accommodation (such as the use of a different restroom for them.) Southwest High School teacher Carla Cruzan complained that allowing transgendered library employee Debra Davis to use the women’s bathroom violated her religious freedom and created a hostile workplace based on sex. As a result, the school provided Cruzan -the non-trans complainant – with ready access to several other bathrooms, including single-occupancy facilities and other women’s restrooms. Unsatisfied, Cruzan petitioned to block Davis from using the women’s restrooms at school. She lost and appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, in St. Louis.

The school district’s policy was not directed at Cruzan and Cruzan had convenient access to a number of restrooms other than the one Davis used. Cruzan does not assert Davis engaged in any inappropriate conduct other than merely being present in the women’s faculty restroom. Given the totality of the circumstances, we conclude a reasonable person would not have found the work environment hostile or abusive.”

So, just for shits and giggles, let’s look at, oh, my situation.  There are approximately 8 sets of male/female defined, multi-use bathrooms at my facility – other buildings included – three sets of which are immediately off the control room floor.  Two sets – four individual bathrooms – are now unisex.  Which means that I have access to four bathrooms, well off the control room floor – one issue needs be addressed is what do I do when on position and I must go – while everyone else has the choice of eight still, including six that are multi-use, meaning they will never potentially have to wait. Keri, why are you still bitching about this?  You have bathrooms to use, when many do not… and besides it will be a non-event soon..

I challenge anyone out there who thinks I’m bitching to go though what I have had to, just at work alone, excluding transwomen of course, because they are the ONLY ones to really get it.  I am not a “special case,” I am not “disabled,”  I do not require “special accommodations.”  I just would like what, from a humane standpoint, is right and is fair.  It is sad that, throughout the federal service, pre-operative trans-identified – by that I refer distinctly to transsexuals – are not allowed access in many cases to any bathroom, let alone the one of appropriate gender.  So much for all of those wonderfully inclusive statements.

The sad truth is that, had I gotten my job post-transition, without anyone knowing my medical history – which everyone seems to conveniently forget/don’t give two shits about is PERSONAL – I would be using the correct bathroom without incident.  Do they really think they are keeping transsexuals out of the bathrooms? How do they know???  The truth is that they do not, which, when they do, results in those like me, trying to be accommodating and above-board end up with issues like this.  Thank god the GLB community is out and about or they’d be questioning my sexual preference.  But that’s what this is all about it, isn’t it?    The defining moment reduced to a single piece of anatomy which, frankly, doesn’t really function in that regard anymore…. and I will not even discuss sexual preference.

Rant? Perhaps…. but, I am entitled, still, to my opinions.  And though it seems I hold a grudge, honestly, I do not.  I merely state the truth, the obvious, where others may not wish to ruffle feathers and remain quiet and compliant.  Because I am trying to be conciliatory, and accommodating (more than everyone else I do believe…), all the whiles wearing a “happy face,” it does not mean I have to like it.  Tolerate, yes… which interestingly, is all I ask from others.





DADT and being Trans…

25 01 2011

Mara brought up an interesting point on FB this evening.  The President is poised to allow ROTC recruiters back on certain college campuses because of the termination of DADT.  Mara’s point is to oppose this as DADT does not address any trans-identified.  Not to sound unpatriotic or anything, but…. why would ANY trans-identified want to enlist in the first place when they cannot even pee in the correctly gender-identified bathroom at ANY federal facility??

How long will we, the TRANSSEXUAL community, allow ourselves to be used and abused, to continue to compromise for BASIC rights that WE are entitled to, to continue to be marginalized by everyone, including some in our own happy “transgender” community?  How can anyone, who has had the privilege of being able to do everything they needed to accomplish for their transition, sit by and ignore others who cannot even so much as support their own basic needs of employment, housing, medical care or food?  This community, the transsexual community, will never make any gains because we don’t want them bad enough.  We don’t wish to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve even the most rudimentary of goals.  Status quo… don’t complain.





My Trans Opinions in FB Posts…

22 01 2011
by Keri Marie McDonnell on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 at 10:54pm

“Along the lines of what Andrea stated, small workgroups whose goals are to work specific issues.. Focus groups, under the direction of some sort of national committee comprised of representative members of the Trans communities as a whole. … Membership should be Trans-identified specifically… We desperately need to start doing our own heavy lifting and advocate for ourselves, from the bottom up… We just got through beginning to educate 600 people here who average $160k a year; if my transition can sway suburbia at the cost of being out, so much the better… Politicians won’t change unless their constituents start pushing for us… Educate the masses, seize the day…” (12/21/10-Keisling)

———-

“We need to collectively come out of hiding and stand up and be counted… Show we are “normal people” with the same everyday issues like everyone else… Work, family, community responsibilities, etc… We are our own worst enemies in that …we want it both ways; to hide but yet we want rights.. Which has meant relying on groups who could care a less about us… I am so sick of the “LGBT” orgs that pander to us as if we can’t think for ourselves and won’t know any better. I’d rather they tell me go away and drop the pretense…” (12/21/10-Keisling)

———-

“I like Rebecca’s proposal and that I think would be best, to create a unified organization with all of the major stakeholders represented to prioritize all of the issues – and most importantly COORDINATE among everyone….

In my transition …at work – federal govt – I discovered about seven orgs working on federal employee rights, and in most cases, the left hand didn’t know what the right was doing… everything is disjointed, everyone is trying to grab their piece of the pie, and yes, frankly, I’m sitting here having to fight for myself for my right to piss in the appropriate bathroom… we NEED to coordinate these things so much better than at present. And NOT be afraid to legally challenge these policies… It’s time to push back…

And that is where I feel the efforts should be focused… basic human Trans-identified rights that are inherent to everyone else. Issues such as bathroom rights, job discrimination, basic health insurance that is all-inclusive (read corrective surgery), housing guarantees, predator and police protections… it doesn’t matter if TSA is going to hassle you if you cannot afford to fly in the first place… “(12/21/10-Keisling)

———-

“I enjoy being called miss and ma’am, and though some desire to bend the gender scale, I am very happy to jump right into that box called woman…” (12/27/10-Sandeen





Let’s get back to business…

22 01 2011

Ok, I’m over my temper tantrum.  And I’ve kind of decided that this blog, going forward, will be my political action blog.  I may continue my personal blog…. who knows.

On the political front, last week following my business in New Hope, I traveled to the big city (no not New York or Chicago..), Washington.  I’ve been reading quite a bit about Trans politics, jumping into discussions here and there, and basically trying to get a better understanding of the issues relevant to our cause.  By which, honestly, I infer the Transsexual cause.

Going through this personally has certainly opened my eyes to many things, primarily just how intolerant and non-compassionate society, American society, can truly be.  It is both amazing and disconcerting how a major political party can incite discrimination and hatred for other human beings and promote it as being ok; interestingly, most of these very hatemongers attend church weekly, ensure that others take notice, and proclaim themselves “devout christians.”  I wonder, do they ever stop to consider, actually think about, what Jesus would think of this or that?  They certainly are so very expeditious to push their cause, all in His name.

But I digress… So I spent about two whole days in D.C. meeting with certain key people in our “community” that, frankly, I do put my trust in and do believe in their working to better our lives.  I know the underlying politics of it all, and I do know that many out there have very strong opinions otherwise.  But I sincerely believe that our “national leadership” is doing the best that they can physically do, given the fact that many of us Transsexuals would rather stay in hiding than try to make things better for others.  It’s much easier to shoot from the safety of cover than stand up and be counted….

I had a wonderful time with my friend Anne, who was kind enough to put up with me for  couple of nights, and we did have an amazing dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill.  and invariably the discussion went to federal policies with regard to Trans-identified, and how as federal employees we do have a long road to travel before things get better.  Anne is the “go-to girl” for anything TransFederal, so if anyone reading along is a federal employee who has transitioned or is contemplating it, please email me and I will provide her contact info; she can really help.  There are some interesting things going on in D.C. for federal Trans employees that hopefully will come to light in the next few months – change is hopefully on the way, but it’s an incredibly slow process.

Wednesday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Allyson Robinson at HRC.  Yes, the “evil empire..”  Not my opinion by the way.  She was kind enough to not only take time out of her crazy schedule to talk with me, but also provided a mini-tour and talk of what HRC is working on these days.  We then retired to a local coffee shop and chatted for well over an hour on issues and where things are heading.  Allyson is seriously trying to be the change agent within HRC, and she does serve a valuable purpose, if only for the fact that she is out there, each and every day, fighting for our rights and spreading the word among the masses.  Some would argue that she is simply a “political appointment” or the “token HRC tranny,” but it truly is much more than that.  She is there interacting within HRC, asking where trans issues are being considered in pretty much everything HRC is doing.  It’s also a culture change at HRC to a degree, and although they have certainly made some horrendous missteps through the years, honestly, I am left to believe that they are consciously trying to correct those mistakes.  Allyson is one of the most put-together women I have ever met; regardless of your opinion, at least she is out there, front and center, and doing it.

One new pilot project HRC recently received funding for and is in the process of implementing is basically an outplacement agency for Trans-identified.  They will be rolling this out in targeted cities over the next few months.  What this program will do is provide valuable job search assistance to the community, from writing resumes to what to wear for interviews.  All very vital in the struggle to get people jobs.

Thursday morning, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Mara Keisling and Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality.  Many out there freely take shots at Mara and NCTE, and frankly I don’t think they understand the complete picture of whats happening behind the scenes.  For example.. if you visit the NCTE web, you will leave so very impressed, and also with the idea that, wow, this must be a huge organization with tons of money, so why aren’t they listening, why aren’t they solving issues faster, dammit??

Well, truth be told, NCTE’s “global” nerve center, housed within the offices of another GLB organization in my Union’s building (small world..), consists of about three small offices for all of, what, a staff of SIX people…. six.  Believe me, I met the entire staff… Working on the whole gambit of trans issues, albeit at the federal level, but trust me, they are seriously underpowered and understaffed.  And their budget is pocket change compared to HRC or other LBG organizations.  I think one of NCTE’s faults, and I explained this to Mara, is their not being more transparent about their operation; they truly are operating on a shoestring budget – recently they lost their healthcare issues sponsor and had to let go their healthcare staffer.  One really good point of their office arrangement; they are nestled among the leading LGB organizations – read the Taskforce – and can benefit from the cross-pollenization that occurs as different groups discuss the relevant issues.  Along these lines, I was also able to meet Lisa Mottet of the Taskforce, and another tireless advocate for our rights…

NCTE’s current list of priorities is about three pages long at the moment.  They are a federal-focused advocacy group, meaning that they do not advocate for individuals, but will always refer those having specific issues to others who can, and do, help.  Among NCTE’s hit list are the obvious:  jobs – generation, retention and security; healthcare reform; ID reform; Social Security changes; veteran’s affairs for the trans-identified; and TSA issues.  Is NCTE addressing all of the issues pertinent to everyone?  No.  Could they?  No.  But NCTE does have valued connections and can provide assistance to those with valid issues.  And so far as I know, they don’t turn anyone away who calls and asks for help.

As for Mara…. here’s the five million dollar point – at a minimum, at least SHE is out there, standing tall and being counted, and doing SOMETHING.  And from what I’ve gleaned over the course of the past several months and particularly with our visit, she is doing all that she is physically able to do.  She genuinely understands the issues, and although caught in the crosshairs by the many interests and viewpoints of our “community,” she, I believe, is able to find a balance.  She is genuinely concerned for all who would place themselves under the “trans” umbrella; certainly not an easy task that.  I have read their twitters and their Facebooks and honestly, I don’t know of anyone else in the “community” who travel as tirelessly and fight the fight as she does… and Allyson for that matter.  We as a “community” so very much need to stop the bloodshed, sto the vitriol and the pummeling of each other…. it’s petty, it divides us and certainly detracts from any sort of credibility we could possibly ever hope to achieve.

One issue discussed with all was the concept first raised on Mara’s Facebook about bringing better organization to the Trans community possibly through the establishment of a national “steering”or advisory committee comprised of stakeholders in the community.  I truly believe that better coordination and defining the relevant issues are needed, desperately needed, so that we may commit the fullest attention to those issues that are vitally important.  Like jobs.. like housing.. like ending discrimination… like something so very simple as bathroom access for those who need it every day.  My thoughts on this would be a national committee, whose responsibility it would be to set the agenda and prioritize the issues – with the valued input of the state/local TRANS organizations.  Working in concert with the national committee would be underlying workgroups, whose job it would be to focus on those specific delegated to them.  These workgroups would be comprised of the experts in each area, and they would be responsible for making recommendations of action and in taking action to change policy.  Organizations such as NCTE could not spearhead such a committee, but would have a seat at the table, as would HRC perhaps, and others.

One point I wish to re-emphasize…. it’s very easy to lurk behind the trees and fire potshots at those on the front lines.  Where we fail as a community – as a Transsexual community even – is in numbers.  We are our own worst enemy.  Either stand up and be counted, or else be quiet… you have no right to complain about things if you will not join the fight.  Mara and Allyson are out there, day in and day out, each and every day, at least trying to make a difference, trying to effect change.  Next time, before you shoot off at the mouth, take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “what have I done to help make change?”








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