Category Archives: Civil Rights

Clinton and HB2

I blogged about the possibility of HB2 becoming an important campaign issue right after the law was enacted.   Sure enough, North Carolina is becoming a swing state in this Presidential election.   The efforts of the Governor Pat McCrory (R) and the Republican legislature to make transgender bathroom access a campaign issue may not only backfire on themselves, it may be the straw that shifts the electoral balance in favor of Hillary Clinton.  Nationally, Republicans can thank McCrory and his McCronies for that unwanted present to open on election day.

At a recent campaign stop in North Carolina, candidate Clinton stated:   “The very mean-spirited, wrong-headed decision by your legislature and governor to pass and sign House Bill 2 has hurt this state.   But more than that, it’s hurt people.    It has sent a message to so many people that says; ‘You know, you’re not really wanted. You’re not really part of us.’  I think the American dream is big enough for everybody.”

The Republican strategy of casting off minorities instead of embracing them has led to an uphill battle in the Electoral College and the demographics are only going to get worse.   Sure, transgender people are a minority, and to be sure, some such as Caitlyn Jenner will continue to support Republican causes, but if transgender people vote on the issues that most directly impact them, then the continued Republican drumbeat against transgender rights will guarantee yet another, albeit small, voting bloc will with the D instead of the R.   Eventually even small losses add to big ones.  It is time for Republicans to get off the anti-transgender train because human rights should be a given and there are other very important issues to address.

15 votes

North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes may end up being a deciding factor in this Presidential election. For all the political bluster of blow-outs on either side, the demographics of the U.S. and the mechanics of the Electoral College point to a close race.   North Carolina is in play due to the hyper-right partisanship of Governor McCrory and his cabal of McCronies.    It should be a warning to all Republicans that hyping up and acting against social issues such as transgender and voting rights, and against the previous signature Republican tenet of supporting local control will cost the Republicans in the long term.   North Carolina is in play because of the bungling of Pat McCrory, plain and simple.   He rolled the dice on transgender as an issue, and his re-election went straight into the toilet as a result, potty pun intended.  His unpopularity is hurting the Republican ticket up and down the ballot.  It is unclear whether the shooting in Charlotte will save or finish his and Republican hopes in the state, but if North Carolina goes blue this year and Hillary Clinton wins by less than 15 votes, the anger and recrimination of Republicans nationally may be focused on the North Carolina Republican establishment.   The greatest irony would be that the lid would be closed and hopes flushed on Republic efforts to win the White House due to North Carolina’s HB2.

No more “Black Face” in Hollywood

We have hopefully moved beyond casting a white man in black face to play an African American or in face paint to play a Native American.   The egregiousness of miscasting, as exemplified by Hollywood actually casting John Wayne cast as Genghis Khan seems silly to us today.   Perhaps we will someday look upon the casting of cisgender actors in transgender roles the same way in the future.  Hollywood and smaller film producers should seek to rectify this practice as soon as possible.   The fact that there are few well known transgender actors speaks to the lack of roles and opportunity.  Transgender actors are not even cast in minor roles, preventing them from gaining experience and exposure.  Remember Audrey Hepburn started as a cigarette vendor, so even a “bit part” can lead to opportunities.    The film industry can help by writing transgender characters into normal roles, such as “the girl next door, the shop owner, the assistant scientist, or the “co-worker.”   Transgender roles need not be limited to stereotypes such as “prostitute #3 or drag queen performer.”    By doing this, Hollywood can continue its long history of social activism and make a positive change in the lives of many transgender people.   In the same way African Americans gained hope by seeing Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek, thousands of transgender people will take heart in seeing a transgender actor in a respectable role in television or the movies.

Flushing an Election

In what may be an ironic and karmic twist of fate, Hillary Clinton may just have the American Family Association and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory to thank for a victory in November.   In a move of massive miscalculation, McCrory decided to wage war on transgender people in the form of the HB2 “Bathroom Bill” in an effort to create a wedge issue to defeat his democratic opponent, the State’s Attorney General Roy Cooper.   The calculus was that by picking on a marginal group such as transgender people and denying them the right to use a public bathroom; that he could stir up his base on a social issue, rake in campaign donations, and get supporters to the polls.  He, and the American Family Association (AFA), massively misjudged the response and were bewilderedly beleaguered by an onslaught of negative press both nationally and internationally. This condemnation was most visibly demonstrated by the NBA pulling its all-star game from the state, specifically due to HB2.   Economic loss to the state as a result of HB2 is currently estimated to be in the billions. McCrory, a sitting Governor, is currently behind his opponent in the polls and likely to lose his seat in the Governor’s mansion, specifically because he tried to steal toilet seats from transgender people.    In a sense, he quite literally flushed his re-election down the sewer.   As the Presidential race draws down to its final month, North Carolina looks to join the swing state club with Ohio and Florida, as a prime determinant of who wins the White House.   If the Republicans lose North Carolina’s electoral votes to the Democrats, then the mathematics for a Trump victory in the fall look exceeding bleak.     The HB2 debacle started by the AFA and Governor McCrory may ironically mean that Hillary Clinton gets to pick the next three to four judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, effectively sounding the death knell for everything the AFA and Governor McCrory profess to stand for.   As they say, pick your battles wisely.   Governor McCrory and the AFA chose poorly.   Apparently the transgender community wasn’t as acquiescent, nor, as helpless as he and the AFA thought.   Let that be a lesson.

Are We Prepared for a Tidal Wave of New Misogyny?

Are We Prepared for a Tidal Wave of New Misogyny?

by jenni contrisciani

 

In my college physics classes I learned that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.   Hillary Clinton has all but won the Democratic nomination, barring a major development that makes her legally unable to be nominated, and people across the United States are starting to seriously think that a woman may soon be the Commander in Chief of the most powerful country in the world.   It’s not the first of the firsts however; we are now just nearing the end of the administration of the first non-white President in our history.  If we look at the national reaction to Barack Obama serving as commander in chief we can extrapolate that the reaction to Hillary Clinton may be just as forceful.   During Barack Obama’s Presidency, the number of militia and patriot groups went from an average of 150 during the eight years of the Bush administration, to 1,360 in 2012, a 900 percent increase.  (SPLCenter.com)  The number of firearm purchases doubled.   In terms of race relations, blacks are evenly split with 30% saying they have gotten worse, and the same percent saying they have gotten better, however only eight percent of whites felt race relations were better and forty-seven percent said they were worse.   (Racismreview.com)   The rise in militia and patriot groups, gun purchases, and an overall national feeling that race relations have degraded clearly shows a backlash against the first non-white American President.   Given that Hillary Clinton is not only a woman, but a deeply unpopular politician who is polling as one of the most polarizing candidates in political history, and who is running against a demagogue who is backed by a white middle and lower class electorate that is currently suffering clear depression with loss of job and status, and it creates a perfect storm for a backlash.    The rhetoric against President Obama was based on his policies, but clearly had a racial component, and the rabidity against his policy ideas often served as cover for hidden racism.   The same will be used against Clinton.  The language will be about her policy failures, but a large percentage will be based simply on the fact that she is a woman.   I don’t particularly care for Clinton, nor do support her campaign so disclaimer right now that I am not a Hilary apologist.  She certainly has made many mistakes, and is a fundamentally flawed candidate, but the resultant reaction will be against her gender as much as her poor choices, and the effects will not care for the reason, they will simply occur.    She will serve as a manifestation that the definition of being “a man” and the privilege of being “a man” has shifted in America.  Women now comprise the bulk of college students and men are increasingly being relegated to manual labor, with the corresponding drop in income and all the power dynamics that entails in home situations.   If men react to a Hillary Clinton Presidency as forcefully as many whites reacted to President Obama then we are very possibly in for a tough four years.   Hopefully American men will be able to find their inner Angels and not allow Hillary Clinton to release their bottled up reservoir of misogynistic feelings to freely spill forth.   It’s not like it is a box of chocolates for women here already, dealing with wage gaps, sexual harassment, promotion discrimination at work, fearing to walk alone at night, domestic abuse, rape and all the other lovely things that come with being female.   All these things are likely to increase and possibly spike during a Clinton Presidency.  This is not an argument against a female president, but as women we need to be prepared for it.   Hopefully the nation will not follow an equivalent trajectory of the reaction to President Obama. If it does, we’d all better start our self-defense training and be even more aware of our situation and our relationships than ever before.     To the men of America, if Hillary Clinton is elected President, please check your actions and ask yourself, are your feelings truly justified, or are they a reaction to her?    Remember we are your sisters, cousins, friends, and wives.

The Bathroom

The Bathroom

by jenni contrisciani

 

“That’s my blood” she thought.   It was a surprisingly cold and rational realization for someone dying.   She could hear people shouting around her but the voices though loud, sounded distorted like the way they do when you hear underwater.    She felt the cold of the tiled bathroom floor on the side of her face and saw her blood expand to conquer one small black and white checkered bathroom tile after another like an invading army expanding into new territory.   The light level changed as people moved about, either blocking or revealing the bright lights over the sinks.    “I was shot.”   The realization crept into her consciousness like a slow moving predator; then the panic started to rise.   “I was shot…am I going to die?”   She gasped for breath.  It wasn’t easy.   She choked and the gurgling sound that came out of her mouth scared her even more.   “Oh dear god, I am going to die.”  She struggled to move, but something was preventing her body from responding.   “No, not here; not in a dirty bathroom.  Don’t let me die.  Don’t let me die here.  Don’t let me die at all,” her mind screamed silently, her voice unable to make the words.   “Why?  Why me?”   Slowly the ability to think drained from her, as the oxygen rushed out of her system, no longer able to be delivered in sufficient quantities by her dwindling life giving blood.  Her vision faded, starting at the periphery and growing ever more clouded until it all was dark.  Her ears heard a final gasping breath, then, they too ceased to hear.   “What did I do to deserve this?  I don’t deserve to die.”   She was surrounded in darkness, then her mind closed as well and there was no more.

For Tiffany Sanders the day started with the loud and very annoying electronic scream of her alarm. Fumbling with a hand that emerged from under her covers like a drunk snake, she flailed in the general area of the alarm until she was rewarded with silence.    “Just fifteen more minutes,” she sighed to herself, to which she immediately answered “You don’t have fifteen minutes doof; you need to get to work on time and if you don’t want to look like shit you need time for your makeup.”   The first voice won out for about five minutes until with an effort she flung the covers off her and sat up in bed, just in time to stop the unwanted noise from the alarm again.   She looked at herself in the mirror that was directly across the room from her bed and smiled.   “I never get tired of waking up this way.”  As a transgender individual she was reassured by the confirmation of her image as a woman.   The person looking back at her had long brown hair, albeit in a bedhead mess currently, a feminine face, slender hairless arms and wore a pink Hello Kitty nightshirt.   Her hands moved to her breasts, lifting them up slightly and then letting them go, her smile widening at the resultant bounce.   “Damn, I love these things,” she said aloud, and used the moment to swing her legs out of bed and standup.   She allowed herself one more moment of relaxation, stretching like a lazy cat, and then walked down the short hall from her bedroom to her kitchen.    The coffee was preset from last night and she flipped it on, knowing that by the time she finished her shower, it would be ready.   She’s drink it while doing her makeup, sans lipstick, then brush her teeth and finish up the lipstick before heading out the door.   She’d been living as a woman now for over five years, and despite making significantly less money than when she was a man, she was still happy.  Whatever her lot in life, whatever happened; she’d be okay with it.  As long as she was able to live as the person that she knew she was from a very young age, she was satisfied.  She was just happy being able to simply be.   Before going out the door of her condo, she took a last look in the mirror by the door to check herself.   She always checked herself before going out.  It was something a genetic woman could choose to do, but for her it was a necessity.  Fortunately for her, she was only five foot seven inches tall, and her features were now decidedly feminine.  She wouldn’t say she was beautiful, more a Mary Anne than a Ginger Rogers, but she had that friendly girl-next-door look that people seemed to accept.   She’d had a lot of work done, all of it very painful.  There had been a nose job, liposuction, hormone therapy, years of laser hair reduction, and an incredibly strict diet.   What most genetic women took for granted, she appreciated greatly: it had been a long hard journey to get where she was.    Satisfied with the vision in the mirror, she smiled.  “Today is going to be a really great day.  I can feel it!”   With a bounce in her step she headed off to work.

Across town, Billy Hatfield woke up at about the same time and in a very similar manner, smacking his alarm into silence three times before waking up.   “Do you have work today dear?” his wife inquired with a yawn.    He hesitated for several seconds, deciding whether to lie or tell the truth.  Ultimately he decided he didn’t have enough energy to worry about lying.

“No, didn’t get called in today.”

“Okay hon, well I got an extra shift at the restaurant, so can you take Katie to the mall today, she wanted to meet up with her friends.”

Forcing down an argument, he grunted an affirmative, secretly disappointed that he wouldn’t have a day of relaxing at home.  Taking Katie to the mall meant hanging out there or making another trip to pick her up.  Given the gas mileage of his truck, and the lack of gas money meant that he’d have to just hang out at the mall, and that would mean he wouldn’t be able to stay home playing, Call of Duty.   On the other hand if he limited her mall time to a couple hours he’d still have about four hours of game time.    “She hangin’ out with those city girls again?” he asked.

“Well, I don’t know dear, she didn’t say who she was meeting up with.”

“Better not be any boys, and I don’t care for her hangin’ out with those city girls either.  Those city girls are all buy this, buy that, and they spout all those liberal democrat ideas it seems.   Any black kids?”

“I don’t know, just ask her when she gets up.  You know she’s a freshman now and she needs to get out in the world.”

“Yeah, but I don’t like her hangin out with those nigga velociraptors with their saggy ass drawers and foul mouths.  It’s bad enough they are all over the mall.”

“Getting ready for work dear,” his wife announced from the bathroom.

He laid in bed, upset with life. Why didn’t he have a son?   He blamed his wife.   Just one girl.  Not that he didn’t like his girl, he loved her, he just wished he had a boy to play ball with.     At least he would get to go back to sleep until Katie woke up and got after him to go to the mall.    That was something.

Neep-neep-neep-neep.   “Shut uppppp!”  Leslie Monroe yelled, using her pillow to cover her head.    “Ohhhh just stop,” She moaned.   Her head hurt.  It really hurt.   She’d been out way too late last night with her girlfriends and had drank way too much.   Why did she do it?   She just couldn’t say no, and her friends were big drinkers.   “Can’t get back to bed now,” she fumed.  “Gotta get up and get some aspirin and coffee.”   She slid out of bed, literally and it was only with great effort that she was able to crawl back up her bed and right herself.   Stumbling into the kitchen, she ate twelve aspirin and downed it with a half-drunk can of Monster that was left over from yesterday.    “Ugh, I have to go to frickin work today too!”  She stomped her foot in frustration and headed into the shower.    She only took about five minutes, enough to run some shampoo through her short hair and rub the lathers in lieu of soap all over her body.   By the time she got dressed, she felt a bit better, and the pain in her head had subsided to a dull roar.   Quickly putting on her usual baseball cap, she headed out the door.   Hopefully work at Starbuck’s wouldn’t be too busy today.

“Daaaaaad, leeeeet’s goooo!” Katie pleaded.

“All right, all right, I’m coming.”    He tried to look on the bright side of taking his daughter to the mall, at least if he would be able to check out all the hot women and teenagers there, plus he really liked the food court.   Too bad they didn’t serve beer, that would be perfect.

“Daaaad!”

“All right, don’t get your panties in a twist, I’m coming.”   He finished putting his summer carry rig on his belt, holding his Glock 17.  You never knew if some Muslim terrorist was going to try shooting up a mall afterall.    As he came around the corner he stopped in his tracks.   “Just what the hell are you wearing?”   His daughter was dressed in what he considered an all too revealing outfit; short denim skirt and a tank top that showed off what was beginning to be some cleavage.   “You ain’t wearin’ that to no mall,” he thundered.

“But dad…”                “But nothing, go put a top on that covers you up.”

“But dad, all the other girls wear this!”

“Well you ain’t.  Them other girls are sluts.”

“My friends are not sluts!”

“They are if they dress like that!”

“Da-aad!”

“Hey, I ain’t gotta take you; you wanna go, you get them titties covered right now.”

“Arrrrrrr!  Fine!” Katie responded with a huff and a foot stomp, moving back into her room.

“And I don’t want you hanging out with any of them niggas or queers they got there, you hear me.  You don’t need to be associatin’ with no niggas or queers.”

“Daaad, I’ll be with my girlfriends!” was shouted back from the room, as scrambling noises emerged between shouts.

“You just watch yourself.”    Kids these days, all full of crazy notions like wantin to vote for that crazy Bernie Sanders commie, and Olympic athletes turning into chicks with dicks.  What did they call them, transpenistites or something?    He calmed down a bit when his daughter reappeared in jeans and a Taylor Swift t-shirt.   Taylor Swift wasn’t country anymore but at least it didn’t show his daughters boobs.   “Okay, get yourself into my truck.”

If she had to make another mocha frappucino she was going to vomit.  She would simply just vomit straight into the cup, blend it and throw in some expresso and serve it she swore.

“Leslie, we need another medium mocha-frappacino,” her manager called.

She gritted her teeth, “why don’t we just have a giant cauldron of that shit?”  She busied herself making her fiftieth medium mocha frappe of the day.     “Hey Carl, I gotta run to the bathroom.”

Knock yourself out Leslie, I see Tanya coming down B corridor.  We got it.”

“Thanks.”  Weird that you said thanks for being allowed to go to the bathroom, but as a minimum wage slave she was used to it.   She’d tried to work restaurants but apparently nobody thought she was pretty enough, definitely not enough to be a hostess with the mostest.  Truth was she didn’t have the mostest or even the thirdest or fourthest.   She untied her Starbucks apron and started walking to the restroom.

“You’re so welcome” Tiffany beamed pleasantly to her customer.  As a Charming Charlie’s Associate, she made a lot less than when she worked in the corporate world as a man.  Anyone who said that people confirmed their gender, or as the public understood it, changed their gender on a whim did not know anything about the trials of being transgender.    Aside from the daily sexism she experienced, the “hey baby’s” from men, unwanted attention in bars, condescension from her auto-mechanic, the over-priced clothing that didn’t come in anything resembling standard sizes, the undervalued wages, anyone who said being transgender was a choice was smoking something very illegal.   The smile from her customer made up for her quick association with her trials, and put her back in a good mood.     She was happy despite all the issues with being a woman.  She embraced them even if it meant extra work, simply because being a woman made her happy.  As a man she had dealt with depression and even thoughts of suicide.   Becoming her true self had been like a ray of sunshine spreading across a barren landscape that had never known the light of the sun.    She finished straightening up some racks of earrings and walked over to her manager.  “Hey Janette, I need to go to the ladies room.  You have everything covered for now?”

“Sure Tiff.   Not too many customers.   Thanks for checking.”

“Oh my gosh Kat, your dad is so weird!”

“I soooo know.   I hope he’s not embarrassing you guys too much.”

“Naw, he’s busy oogling the hot girls in the mall.”

“Ewwww, does your mom know?”

“I think so; she just chalks it up to being a man.”

“Guys are so gross.”

“Hey Chara, that’s not what you said when Jared Sevastopel had his tongue halfway down your throat last night.”

“Kimber!!!”

“Well its true!”

“Does your dad stick his tongue down your mom’s throat?”

“More like up her… ow!”

“Stop it; you guys are grossing me out.  They barely even hug anymore.”

“So Kat, you look so kewl in that t-shirt.”

“Stop it Stephie, you know her dad made her wear it.”

“I’d have worn something better underneath and taken it off if he’d a just dropped me off.”

“Yes but he didn’t.  He’s lurking over at the food court.”

“Hey Kat, why is your dad so like racist and all that.  Did you see the way he looked at me?”

“Ya, like what’s he got with Chara, oh wait….it’s coming to me…..she’s black!”

“Maybe I should tell him I’m a lesbian too.”

“Come on you guys, don’t!  I can’t help it he’s that way.  He was just…well born that way.”

“Not what Lady Gaga had in mind.”

“Totally.” “Ya, as in born racist.  And a perve.”  She indicated Katie’s dad turning his head as an attractive blonde with very well developed breasts walked by.

“Ewww, let’s do some more shopping.”

“Wait, I gotta pee.”

“Me too.”   The group headed over to the restroom.

 

“After you.”

“No, after you.”

“You first.” Tiffany smiled at the other girl with short cropped hair.    She was her height even with her heels on.  Not quite Briann of Tarth from Game of Thrones size, but husky nonetheless.   She didn’t note it in any negative way, just noted it.   “Hey you’re from Starbucks aren’t you?”

“Yeah, how did you know?”   Tiffany turned a bit so her Charming Charlie nametag was visible.  “Ohh okay.”  The two shared a knowing smile shared between fellow mall workers.

“I can get you a stack of five dollar off coupons for Charming Charlie’s if you want,” Tiffany offered.

“Thanks, but I don’t wear much jewelry.”

“Kewl. Hey, I’m Tiffany.”

“Leslie. See ya round the mall.  Business.”  She indicated a stall with a nod of her head and walked toward it.

Tiffany went over to the sink and began checking her makeup.   Maybe she was a little obsessed with it, but when you were once a man, you did your best to look as good of a woman as you could.   Just then a pack of four teenagers entered the bathroom giggling.    Teenagers made her a bit nervous.  Usually no one ever spotted that she was transgender, at least not until she talked, and she’d really been working on her voice.  However, teen girls seemed to have a sixth sense about these things and as they clustered around the sink checking their own makeup, which was done pretty awfully in Tiffany’s opinion, she fought the urge to flee, and stood her ground, concentrating on touching up her lipstick which was a frosty mauve.

“Oh my gosh I love your eyeliner,” one of the girls said to her out of their previously self-contained chatter.

Tiffany swallowed, trying to pitch her voice as high as she naturally could, and smiled, “Why thank you so much.   I’d trade it for being as pretty as any one of you four though.”

“What do you mean?” Chara asked, “You’re beautiful.” Tiffany blushed.

“Ya, you are way cute for an older woman.” Stephie chimed in, then corrected herself, “I mean for a middle-aged woman…. Oh shit, you know what I mean.”

Tiffany had to release a laugh, the uncomfort on the younger girl’s face was starting to get so pronounced. “I am old, compared to you four.   Enjoy it while you can girls.”

“I think that what you are doing is great by the way.”

Tiffany cringed, uh-oh, they’d made her.   At least they seemed friendly.  “Um…thank you.”

“I mean like you were born that way right, like gay people are born that way. I think it’s uncool that people discriminate against you.  You must be pretty brave.”

Again Tiffany fought back a cringe and smiled back, “Thank you. Hey can I ask how you could tell?”

The girls giggled.   “Oh my gosh, it’s because you are so well dressed and made up, no girls around here are that good!  Well, that plus your voice.”

“But it’s not bad!” Kimber chimed in.  “I mean we just had a section in diversity class about transgender people at school.”

“Yeah, we’ve been on the lookout for one!” Katie added.  “We were kinda expecting… well someone bigger and manlier.”

“We come in all sizes.” Tiffany replied, “Now, if you girls would excuse me…”

After she entered the stall the girls all put their heads together and whispered, “Oh my gosh, a real trans person. That was so cool.”

“Yeah she was so pretty, I’m kinda jealous, did you see her legs?”

“Oh my gosh, did you people talk like this the first time you saw me?” Chara asked rolling her eyes.

“No of course not silly, it’s not like you’re the first black person we’ve seen!”

“You three are over the top. I’m going to get some food.” Chara announced.   She walked out of the bathroom and headed to the food court.  It was kinda kewl she had seen a trans person, but it wasn’t right to have outed her.   She still hadn’t come out to her friends that she actually was gay.   That wasn’t their business… not yet.  Being black in a mostly all white school was enough of a burden.   She caught Katie’s dad eyeing her.   He had a look of obvious disapproval on his face, like he was looking at a big black mud stain on an all-white shag carpet.   What an ass she thought to herself.    He didn’t drop the look as she walked past, as if he wanted her to see it and feel it, to know he considered her dirt.    She was almost to the point of letting it go, when she stopped and looked back at him.

“What are you looking at?” She demanded as he didn’t look away nor drop his obvious sneer.

“I ain’t lookin at nothing. Nothin at all.  What’s your problem.”   He emphasized the “your.”

“Me, I ain’t got no problem. You got the problem.  Why you looking at me all hatin’ an’ such?”

“I don’t like my daughter hangin out with your kind,” He spat.

“Hangin’ out with my kind? My kind?   Katie hangs out with my kind, democrats, boys, and even has gay friends.  What you gonna do about that.  Hell, she even hangin’ out with a transgender person in the bathroom right now you dumb ass bigot!”   She turned and stormed away toward the taco stand, consciously avoiding the Popeye’s Fried Chicken.

“Who the hell does she think she is?” Billy fumed to himself.  “Goddamn uppity niggas.  And what had she said?  His daughter was in the bathroom with a what?  A trans-whatever person, weren’t they those sexual deviant perverts he’d been hearing about in the news and reading about on the internet.   His daughter, hanging out with black people, and now in the bathroom with her pants down around her ankles with a perverted man in there with her… this was too much.  “Hell no,” he swore to himself.  “No perve is gonna be looking at my girl’s undies.”   He stood up and headed over to the women’s room.   Anger flared and kindled as he fumed both about how the uppity nigga had talked to him and that a man was in the bathroom with his little girl, plus being let go from his job, and the world all going to hell what with his childhood sports hero turning into a woman, and a woman running for president.  All that was wrong, just wrong and now it had come home to him and he wasn’t going to have it.     By the time he had gotten to the door of the women’s room he had worked himself up into a proper rage.

Katie had finished up her business quickly in the stall, and was washing her hands with Stephie “Hey Katie, maybe we should ask that trans girl about her eye makeup when she gets done? I mean you do look like a raccoon with yours.”

“A racooon, oh you bitch!” Katie laughed back, flicking some water at her friend in retaliation.    In response Stephie vigorously shook her hands at Katie sending a shower of water at her, to which she squeeled loudly in response.

“Girls, please!” Leslie said sternly at the sink next to them, getting hit with collateral water spray.

Outside the restroom Billy heard a scream. Katie’s scream.  His daughter was being molested by that pervert in there!   He kicked the door open and stormed in to the screams of both Katie and Stephie and the surprised and quickly angry look from Leslie.     “What the hell is…”  he eyed Leslie in her ball cap, short hair and masculine clothes.  This must be the pervert that was attacking his daughter.  His hand went to his gun and pulled it from its holster.   “Get away from my daughter you goddam pervert!” he yelled.     Leslie was too shocked to speak, or move.   She stared at the gun pointed in her direction.  “I said get the hell away from my daughter!”

Tiffany had just finished pulling her panties up and was smoothing her skirt down when she heard yelling outside her stall.   “I said get the hell away from my daughter!”  “Oh my gosh there must be some rapist in the women’s room, her mind screamed. Someone was in trouble.  Another woman was in trouble.  She’d better help.  It was her duty to help.   She unlatched the door lock and swung the door open quickly, stepping out of the stall.   The door slammed into the wall next to it with a loud bang.  Billy had his gun trained on the pervert that was just about ready to molest his daughter.   He was about ready to tell her to move away again when he heard a loud bang.  His head jerked in the direction of the sound and startled, he pulled the trigger.   A deafening gunshot rang through the enclosed bathroom.

“That’s my blood” she thought.   It was a surprisingly cold and rational realization for someone dying.   She could hear people shouting around her but the voices though loud, sounded distorted like the way they do when you hear underwater.    She felt the cold of the tiled bathroom floor on the side of her face and saw her blood expand to conquer one small black and white checkered bathroom tile after another like an invading army expanding into new territory.   The light level changed as people moved about, either blocking or revealing the bright lights over the sinks.    “I was shot.”   The realization crept into her consciousness like a slow moving predator; then the panic started to rise.   “I was shot…am I going to die?” She gasped for breath.  It wasn’t easy.   She choked and the gurgling sound that came out of her mouth scared her even more.   “Oh dear god, I am going to die.”  She struggled to move, but something was preventing her body from responding.   “No, not here; not in a dirty bathroom.  Don’t let me die.  Don’t let me die here.  Don’t let me die at all,” her mind screamed silently, her voice unable to make the words.   “Why?  Why me?”   Slowly the ability to think drained from her, as the oxygen rushed out of her system, no longer able to be delivered in sufficient quantities by her dwindling life giving blood.  Her vision faded, starting at the periphery and growing ever more clouded until it all was dark.  Her ears heard a final gasping breath, then, they too ceased to hear.   “What did I do to deserve this?  I don’t deserve to die.”   She was surrounded in darkness, then her mind closed as well and there was no more.

Billy stared in shock at the figure laying on the floor, blood rapidly spreading from her prone body.  “Katieeeeeeeeeeeee!” he screamed, his voice full of anguish and grief.     Everyone stared at each other in shock as Billy sank to his knees.   “Nooooooooooo, oh dear God nooooooooooo!”   Stephie fainted, hitting her head on the side of the sink counter and fell to the floor.    Kimber screamed and ran out of the bathroom crying.   Leslie, frozen, recovered and kicked the gun that had dropped from Billy’s hand across the bathroom and under a stall door.     Tiffany moved rapidly to the prone body, looking back and forth between the people left in the room.   “What happened?”

Leslie responded, her voice several octaves higher than normal, “He thought I was a transgender pervert attacking his daughter… he had his gun on me and when you opened the door….”

“Oh no…” Tiffany said quietly.   Shaking her head, she announced “We have to help her.  Quick!”

She knelt by Katie’s body as Chara ran into the bathroom, eyes wide.

“What the fuck?!”

“Get him out of here, he shot his daughter by mistake.”   Tiffany’s and Chara’s eyes met, “He thought I was attacking her.”

Billy looked up, stammering, “N-n-no. he…” he pointed a quavering finger at Leslie.

“You fucking idiot, she’s a genetic woman.  She’s the trans woman.”

“What?”

“Get that idiot out of here,” Leslie yelled, and call the police.

“We’ll take care of your daughter, I was a medic in the 82nd airborne,” Tiffany assured him, checking Katie’s pulse.   “Call 9-1-1, get an ambulance here asap,” she ordered as Leslie pulled out her cellphone and started dialing.    “Tell them one female teen victim, one gunshot to the chest.  Thready and faint pulse.”    Looking over at Stephie’s prone form, “You better check her as well once you’re done with 9-1-1.       By now other people had entered the bathroom, and several men dragged Billy out.    Tiffany gently moved Katie so she could see her wound.   It was in the area of the right lung several inches from her centerline.   Her lung would be filling with blood and her primary need was now oxygen.   She started mouth-to-mouth.   “Tell me if she loses her pulse.”   She repeated the breaths for several reps when Chara announced, “I don’t feel it!”    Tiffany also checked.

“You’re right.  Here switch to breathing, I’ll start chest compressions.”   She started pumping on Katie’s chest.    Two security guards entered the bathroom, one carrying an AED.

“Pulse?” one asked.

“No.”

“Here get out of the way.”  They moved in.   Tiffany watched them to make sure they knew what they were doing.  They seemed to, placing the paddles in the proper locations.   “Charging……clear!”

They pressed the shock button and Katie’s body jolted.   Tiffany immediately checked for a pulse.    With great relief she nodded in the affirmative.   Just then Katie started shaking and a gush of blood flowed from her mouth.

“Her chest cavity is filling with blood; we need to release it so she can breathe.  Does anyone have a penknife???”

“What are you a doctor?” one of the security guards asked.

“Combat medic, do you have a penknife?”

“How’s this?”

“It’ll do. I need a straw from the food court.”  Within a half a minute someone handed her a big red Slurpy straw.   She pulled the straw out of its wrapper, and wiped the blade on a clean part of her skirt, which was not already stained with Katie’s blood.   Counting up from the floating ribs, she placed the knife on Katie’s bare skin and holding her breath, eased it in.   It was never easy, watching a blade go in another human being.   She inserted the straw and withdrew the knife and as she released her grip on the straw a huge surge of blood shot out, but trickled to a slow dribble and Katie took her first tortured breath since being shot.

“Out of the way!”   Two EMTs rushed into the bathroom, surveying the situation.

“She’s got a weak pulse, shallow breathing and I put in a chest tube.”

“You a doctor?”

“Ex-combat medic.”

“Well you saved her life, lucky you were here. Let’s get her on the gurney, come on, let’s move!”   They hauled her out.     Tiffany didn’t move from her kneeling position in the pool of red blood.   The lower part of her body was covered in it.

“You saved his daughter.” Chara said quietly.

“She did.” Leslie affirmed.

The three looked at each other.   “He wanted to shoot me,” Tiffany said quietly, a tear starting to stream down her cheek, “And he might have killed his daughter instead.  All because…all because…”

“It’s not your fault.”

“You can’t help it that some people are just ignorant.”

Tiffany didn’t move, as the tears started to flow more freely now. “Why?                “It’s always been that way,” Chara answered.  “If it ain’t you, it would be something else.  There’s just too much hate to be kept bottled up.”

“It’s not right.”

“No…it isn’t. But it’s the way it is.”

“Someday?”

“Maybe someday.”

The three looked at each other.   “Let’s get you cleaned up girl.”

She choked back a tear, “Thanks. Thanks you two.”

 

Fade…

An Excellent Example of a Gender Transition Policy that is Out of this World

At the risk of my consulting business I’ll call out one of the better gender transition policies available for public viewing.    In a similar way to being the first Agency to put a human on the moon, NASA has developed one of the first gender transition policies.   Other Federal agencies and departments are also crafting similar documents.   As they are finalized, they will become public documents without copyright restrictions.   The NASA policy is a 14 page document, and uncharacteristic to government products, it is is concise and to the point, and comprehensive.   If your company needs to adopt a gender transitioning policy you would be well served to download the NASA policy at:    http://odeo.hq.nasa.gov/documents/Gender_Trans_Guide.pdf

Of course, adopting a policy is one step, you would also need to develop an accompanying support structure and at a minimum train your managers to implement the policy.    If you have an employee transitioning or planning to transition, a training class for all employees immediately involved in interacting with the transitioning employee may be advisable.   A proper transition plan can be effective in not only retaining the transitioning employee, preventing harassment/EEO lawsuits, but also to minimize any potential disruptions with other employees and/or address their concerns regarding the situation.

Jenni Contrisciani, MBA

Don’t Flush Your Profits…

Transgender Bathroom Access and the Risk of Lawsuits

Jenni Contrisciani, MBA

According to a UCLA Law School study, there are approximately 700,000 transgender individuals in the United States.     The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that approximately 59% of the US population is employed.    The Human Rights campaign estimates a 14% unemployment rate for transgender workers, approximately double that for the national average.    Assuming an equivalent age distribution of transgender individuals and accounting for increased unemployment means there are roughly 400,000 transgender employees in the United States.     Statistica.com puts the number of Americans currently employed as 122.47 million people, so approximately one out of 306 employees are transgendered.  If you filled the University of Michigan football stadium with workers (115,000) 375 of them would be transgender.    Given rampant underemployment in the transgender community this figure may only be two thirds of this number in professional work place settings, however this still represents 200 people in the University of Michigan stadium example, and 264,000 people nationally.

Recent EEOC and court cases have clearly stated that transgender individuals must have access to the restrooms of the gender in which they identify.  The Federal Government has issued clear directives to its departments and agencies to this effect.    Companies that do not have a transgender restroom policy are at risk of lawsuits by employees, with the accompanying risk of monetary damages.    Companies with identified transgender employees must have clear restroom policies adopted and published.   Given that many transgender individuals are closeted, but may come out at any time and publicly assert they are transgender, means that even companies that do not have identified transgender employees need restroom policies.

The transgender community is well connected through social media, and aware of recent court cases. The “coming out” of celebrities such as Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and Navy SEAL Christopher/Kristin Beck have raised the likelihood of transgender individuals openly identifying as their true gender and demanding equal rights under Federal EEOC guidelines and court precedent.    Therefore a prudent employer needs to establish a transgender restroom policy.

But what about my other employees, employers will ask?   The women in my company won’t be happy with “men” in their restroom!     If existing experience is any indication, this will be a concern that will need to be addressed in your company.    You may need training to both enact a transgender restroom policy and keep your employees happy.     There are several key points to emphasize.   Just as there are transgender women, who were or are, genetically male, there are also transgender men who are/were genetically female.   Transgender men can appear with beards and well developed musculature.   A transgender man in the women’s room would probably be more disturbing to women than a transgender woman, who dresses as a woman.     Without a transgender restroom policy, forcing employees to use the restroom of their genetic gender may result in masculine transgender men in the women’s room, and transgender women wearing dresses, high heels in the men’s room and applying make-up at the sink.

Second, as with any restroom situation, the company must state that it will police any inappropriate behavior.   While there have been no documented cases of transwomen acting inappropriately in women’s restrooms, the red herring of sexual perversion and inappropriate behavior is often raised.   In addition to reassuring employees that there have been no cases of inappropriate behavior in restrooms documented to date, company policy is still in effect if there ever was.

Third, most modern restrooms contain a sink area and individual stalls.   Aside from shoe size, there really isn’t any way to discern a transgender woman versus a genetic woman in the stall next door, assuming proper sit-down behavior by the transwoman.  Even so, there is privacy in bathroom stalls.  If necessary, stalls can be further privatized to reassure any individual.

Fourth, it should be addressed that transgender people are desperately wanting to blend in with the gender of their choice, so the only interaction a genetic woman  would likely have with a transwoman in the restroom would be if she asked her at the sink how she learned how to do her makeup so well.   Again, there have been no incidences of abnormal behavior in professional settings or the multiple school settings where transgender individuals are allowed to use the restroom of their gender identity.

Of course, change is hard and employees may come with very fixed and predetermined viewpoints.  This is where training can be effective in dispelling many of the myths and misperceptions of transgender individuals.   Not only can you more likely retain a talented transgender employee, but a well stated and public restroom policy may attract talented transgender individuals.

If you do not have a policy in place currently, it would be wise to do so and would demonstrate foresight and fiscal responsibility to do so.

Jenni Contrisciani, MBA

Jennicontrisciani@outlook.com

 

 

 

Transgender Employment and Job Seeking

Transgender Employment and Job Seeking

Transgender people comprise 0.3 % of American adults, or about 700,000 people, according to a 2011 study by the Williams Institute.    Transgender unemployment is  2X the rate of the general population and transgender people are 4X more likely to live in poverty according to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, (n=6,450.)      The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that discrimination based on gender identity is sex discrimination, triggering Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  President Obama has also signed Executive Orders protecting federal employee and federal contractor transgender workers.  Some states and localities have passed laws protecting transgender workers.    Despite this, many transgender people struggle to find work.

Aside from the surface issues of presentation, (how you look) there is the issue of legal identification.   Almost all job applications ask for legal name, social security number, and past references.  If you haven’t changed your name yet, you face the ugly requirement of putting your legal name on your application instead of your gender conforming name.   You may also have to check the dreaded M box instead of the F, or vice-versa.    Macy’s, no doubt as a result of the Macy v. Holder decision, has adopted a very trans friendly application that adds a space where you can put down the name you prefer to be called by, in addition to your legal name.   Companies can’t get around the legal name issue for obvious reasons.     Even if you have changed your legal name you have to deal with all of your references knowing you as you former self.    So many transgender people wonder, often with some level of desperation, how they will find gainful employment other than the local street corner.  Below is some advice to help you land a decent job.

LGBT Job Fairs

Hey, if companies have tables at these, they are looking to hire you.  That should give you a great confidence boost.   Even if they are looking for the L or G component, at least you know your odds are better than a blind interview.    Affirmations in Ferndale, MI has a LGBT career fair, and many large cities  host LGBT career fairs.  You may have to travel, but you hook up with some local girls and make a day out of it while you are there.   Getting hired will take some effort; be prepared to put some mileage on your car and be prepared (and willing) to relocate.

LinkedIn

I have to admit, I’ve been a bit disappointed with this one, but it is obligatory that you at least have a good profile there.   Most HR departments will look you up online, and LinkedIn is one of the first places they look, so you need to have some good info on your publicly accessible profile.   You can also search for jobs and network there, and it is good for at least seeing the ebb and flow of local jobs in your area.

Networking

As transgender people enter the workforce we have an obligation to help each other.   Flat out, yes we do.   In the same way that there is an old boy’s network, there needs to be a “former old boy’s network,” (or former girl’s network.)  Affirmative action, regardless of your political views as to the fairness of it, helped African Americans, and employee support groups, both company led, and privately formed definitely helped move more African Americans into the professional workforce.   We need to help each other in the same way, and this includes those closeted individuals who aren’t ready to come out themselves, but can definitely help a sister (or brother) out.

Be That Much Better

You need to be stellar awesome in your communications, interview, and preparation.   The cards will be stacked against you, not only from being one of hundreds of applicants potentially, but realistically because of your transgender status.   You need to be that much better than everyone else.  Proper research on the company you are interviewing with is essential.   Preparation, such as practice interviews, and presentation (dressing) skills are essential.   Record yourself in a practice interview.  You can learn a lot about what the interviewer sees; then work to correct any mistakes and perfect your responses.

Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index

This is a great resource to quickly check up on how LGBT friendly companies are.   Companies are rated on a score of 0 to 100.   The higher the score the more inclusive the company is.   You should also check out the company website and find their diversity and non-discrimination language.   If they have transgender listed, then it is an indication that at least someone in HR is aware of transgender people.

Be Confident

Act like you will be an asset to the company, not that they are doing a favor “to condescend” to hire you.   Be upfront about your status, don’t hide it, but don’t volunteer it unless something is asked.   You may also have to walk the fine line between being a “crusader” and getting hired.   Some questions that you are asked may be illegal, but remember your goal is to get hired.   Grace and gentle education can go a long way.    Finally, always follow up.   Proper manners and etiquette are always appreciated.

Take Acton if You are Wronged

If you are definitely discriminated against you are unlikely to sue as that is very expensive, but you could file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.   You can also inform national and/or local advocacy groups, such as the afore-mentioned Human Rights Campaign, or your local LGBT organization.   At the very least, it will help inform others about how companies treat transgender people.

Hope this helps.

Jenni Contrisciani, MBA

Why Kristin Beck is so Important to the Transgender Community

Why Kristin Beck is so Important to the Transgender Community 

On September 4, CNN aired a program called “Lady Valor” which highlighted the transition of former Navy SEAL Chris Beck, to Kristin Beck, and the transgender world will never be the same again.   Here’s why.    One of the many stigmas attached to male to female transgendered people in the United States has been the perception that only “sissy boys” would want to dress as, or physically become women.     Lady Valor will destroy this perception, as absolutely no one can question the heroic bona fides or “manliness” of Chris Beck.   If a highly decorated Navy SEAL can realize that his biological gender doesn’t match his mental gender; then who can question the fact that some people are simply born transgender?  Who can say that that being transgender belies some horrible deficiency or flaw of character?   How will the “manliness” of someone speaking out against Kristin Beck measure up to what she actually did in thirteen combat deployments in which she was wounded multiple times?   This stigma of being a wimp or “girly” (in its most pejorative term) has contributed to many male to female transgendered people remaining buried in the shadows.   As a societal comment, the stigma against men adopting female attire and mannerisms is a condemnation of how society views women in general: male behavior is laudable, female behavior is not, male behavior is strong, female behavior is “weak.”  Historically, women have had the luxury of adopting male attire and mannerisms for decades and this was seen as becoming assertive and achieving liberation.  What article of male clothing have women not adopted?   Women business executives receive respect, male stay-at-home dads are sources for derision at the local soccer field.    It will be very hard for many people to wrap their world-view around the fact that such a “macho” man would want to wear a dress and paint her nails, and be called Kristin, yet this is the conundrum that people will be forced to consider.    Well then, he must be gay right?   This is the second fall back perception about male to female transgender people.  Wrong again.  Chris Beck was married with kids and Kristin Beck is currently dating a woman.   As any transgender person would tell you; who you want to sleep “with” is sexual preference.  Who you want to go to sleep “as” is gender identity.  The two are mutually exclusive occurrences.     Chris Beck coming out as Kristin Beck will enable many closeted transgender people to emerge from the closet with a degree of respect.  There are many other misconceptions to combat, but at least the “sissy stigma” has been dealt a serious blow.    Chris Beck sacrificed for his country on the battlefield; Kristin Beck is now leading the vanguard for transgender rights and sacrificing in the arena of public opinion.  For as much courage as it took to operate under fire in Afghanistan and Iraq, it takes a different yet possibly stronger courage to defy stereotype and be the person you were meant to be.   It was certainly a “ballsy” move.   The stereotypes of the strong male and weak female ingrained in our society, and our very lexicon will be hard to overcome, but Kristin Beck has virtually and metaphorically arrived via a Blackhawk helicopter in a hot landing zone and something tells me that there will be a lot of transgendered people coming off the helicopter after her.