Tennessee Fights ‘Mark of the Beast’

I was reading a blog post on The Nashville Scene today.  Apparently. legislators in Tennessee are pushing a bill that prevent involuntary implants of microchips into humans.

I couldn’t express my feelings an better than the blog’s author, Jeff Woods:

Paranoid anti-government types figure anything’s possible once the black helicopters sweep in. We elected a Kenyan president, didn’t we? But here’s what’s really gotten the Christian Right up in arms. (Brace yourselves. We’re not making this up.) There are those who believe implanted microchips could become Satan’s Mark of the Beast, which, as we all know from our readings of Revelation, is one way the devil will wield power over the Earth during the time of Tribulation.

It’s true.  While Tennessee may have a fiscal crisis and unemployment is at an all time high, Tennessee legislators have their priorities straight: beat up on gays, make sure citizens can take guns into bars and parks, and a bill that would prevent the “Mark of the Beast”.

As the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Susan Lynn, explained to Pith when her proposal first came up a couple of years ago, “In the Christian religion, and I’m a Christian, in the book of Revelation, there was a reference to, you know, the Mark of the Beast. Some people interpret that to be one of these microchips.”

Logic just doesn’t enter the picture, does it?

Let me get this straight.  Let’s say that I am a firm believer in the prophecy in Revelations, do I believe that if I passed legislation to prevent the Mark of the Number of the Beast that I can subvert Satan’s plans to make a failed attempt to take over the world?

Right…

So what does this say about Susan Lynn’s faith?  What does this say about her study habits?  Someone didn’t pay attention in Sunday School.

The “mark” is applied after the “Rapture”, not before.  Therefore any implants, federal ID, or tattooing implemented beforehand is (1) not the “mark”, and (2) of no consequence to Christians because they’ll be gone and everyone that is left can use their cars, homes, and empty churches.

Going forward, should true Christians of faith allow the pieces to fall into place that would hasten the Rapture, or should they try and interfere with God’s plans and try to stave it off?

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Such is ignorance.  To claim to know the mind or will of God is pure folly.  To prevent action by a Satan powered government would be such too.

Susan Lynn: Go home or do something useful this session and leave theology and soul saving to to the televangelists.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Really?

The Senate Armed Services Committee has recently been holding hearings concerning a possible repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military.  This is currently a hot button issue and appears to be divided down party lines (again) with Democrats giving lip service for the repeal while many Republicans are issuing dire, apocalyptic warnings against it.

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) recently expressed his concern that repealing the rule would pave the way for allowing “alcohol use, adultery, fraternization, and body art” in the military — and that the army must “exclude persons whose presence in the armed forces would create unacceptable risk to the armed forces’ high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion.”

The Baptist Press has similar beliefs, “Military experts and social conservatives are criticizing President Obama’s goal of allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military, saying the armed forces’ inherently close quarters would make any change in policy similar to forcing male and female personnel to live together.”

Let me get this straight.  If gays are allowed to serve openly then military members may start getting tattoos?  Until recently, I thought the military had the market cornered on tattoos.  Adultery?  I thought that was the sole specialty of politicians (I would say the specialty of Republicans, but John Edwards screwed that up).

Every argument for keeping “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” breaks down under even the most basic scrutiny.

No one would seriously argue that there aren’t hundreds, if not thousands of gays serving in the military right now.  However, they are required to keep it to themselves and lie about it.  So, pro-DADT pundits would have us believe that DADT is preventing all sorts of problems.  For instance:

  • Private Smith and Private Jones are in a foxhole with bullets whizzing by their head under heavy artillery fire.  The are very close to each other.  Private Jones would normally be aroused, but because of DADT he is able to suppress his erection and the urge to tear of Private Smith’s clothes and have anal intercourse with him.  However, if DADT were repealed, this impetus would be removed and Private Jones would not be able to suppress his erection and they would have sex right there.
  • Private Smith and Private Jones are in the shower.  The are very close to each other.  Private Smith is wet and soapy.  He’s so sexy.  Private Jones would normally be aroused, but because of DADT he is able to suppress his erection and the urge to bend Private Smith over and have anal intercourse with him.  However, if DADT were repealed, this impetus would be removed and Private Jones would not be able to suppress his erection and they would have sex right there.
  • Private Smith and Private Jones on liberty and hitting up the local bars.  They are both hopelessly drunk.  They walk into a tattoo parlor and pick a cool tat. Private Smith and Private Jones would normally get marked, but because of DADT they resist the urge to get matching unit tattoos.  However, if DADT were repealed, this impetus would be removed and Private Jones and Private Brown would wake up with an Airborne tattoo.
  • Private Smith and Private Jones are performing their daily routine.  All is well because DADT is in place.  However, if DADT were repealed, the heavens would open up and the right hand of the Almighty would strike them down from upon high and destroy America because it panders to “the homosexuals” (just like he did to Haiti).

People, if you believe this you’re a loon.  What else is there to say?

E*Trade: Transphobia is Always Funny, Right?

As we gear up for yet another Super Bowl, anticipation is building for the creative, clever,  multi-million dollar ads shown during CBS’s broadcast of the game.

This year, as in others, there is controversy over an ad created by the conservative Christian anti-gay Focus On The Family which is expected to carry an anti-abortion message.  At the same time an ad for a gay dating site was turned down by CBS.

In all the fervor, LGBT activists and allies seem to have missed an ad that has barely popped up on the radar.  The ever-popular E*Trade Baby are always a hit during Super Bowl.  This time E*Trade has capitalized on the ever-mundane stereotypical man-in-a-dress comedy bit, this time using infants.

Male Baby: “Thanks for coming to the first official E*Trade meeting on diversified investments.  Who wants to start?”

Asian Baby: “Why are there only girls here?”

Male Baby: “What are you talking about.  Dennis is right behind me.”

Curly-headed Baby (in very LOW voice): “It’s Denise.”

Ha, ha, ha.  It would be funny if it weren’t so damn sad.  Can transpeople not get a break?  Must someone always be pointing out the inconguency of a person’s voice to their gender identity.  It seems to be sad fact that when comedy writers are out of material, picking on the trans community is always a tried-and-true fall back.

Sure, some reviewers will state that the baby was in fact female and just had a deep voice.  Come on!  You know what the punch line is and would have to be deaf and stupid not to acknowledge it, but I digress.

If think the ad is distasteful and offensive to transpeople, please contact E*Trade by phone at 1-800-387-2331.

Gay Marriage: A Heterosexual Teen Perspective

My son was asked to write a persuasive essay for high school.  The topic: gay marriage.  Being part of the LGBT community, we sometimes get tunnel vision.  It is nice to see someone else’s perspective for a change.

In the following examples I will argue that gays and others like them should be allowed to marry if that is what they wish.  They should enjoy the same rights and freedoms from everyone as any other person does.  Gay people are just like everyone else.

My first argument I’ll address on the topic is what makes them different.  It is often, though not always, the ill educated and unsophisticated people who are against gay marriage.  The only difference in them is their personal/sexual preferences.  From what I have seen, they actually act just the same as any other person.  They work the same, they eat the same, they sleep the same, and breath and function in the same way as any other person does.

Some people think that they lack religious beliefs; others think that they have no religion or that, overall, they are the bad people of a community and society.  They believe in religion just as much as any other person.  Religion is a choice and not something to be pressed onto someone.  I personally have met a preacher that supports their beliefs.  They know the Bible like the back of their hands and teach it in the same way that any other would.

One must also look at the history.  If people where smart enough to look in a history text book, then they would see that it was an accepted way of life in the past.  Great military figures, and government officials such as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, and even Aristotle were gay.  A person researching them would see that they  ”laid with men”.  In much of today’s looks they wouldn’t be accepted by the general public.  If people that long ago can accept it, then why can’t the people of today accept it?

From where I stand, as a result of a personal experience, I will accept them.  They are a person just like me, and they deserve the same treatment that I receive. My aunt is getting married in October of this year, and I know I am going to try my best to be there to support her as they supported me all through high school.

Full disclosure: I did some very minor editing for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Over all, I thought he did a fairly good job.  While it the topic was “gay marriage” he actually focused on “acceptance of gays”.  Nevertheless, as a persuasive essay, he stated his topic, addressed his points, and finished with a personal conclusion.

I can’t necessarily say what he picks up around the house when Jaime and I are talking about gay or trans rights, but I’ve never tried to indoctrinate him.  I can only hope his acceptance of others is by following the example that we set.

Blatant Bigotry?

Hand it to the folks at Best Value Plumbing to spread some holiday cheer. It seems that a fellow member of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church contacted this plumbing company to help with a stopped drain at a rental home that he owns.

You have to read his email:

Friends,

I wanted to take advantage of modern communication methods to tell you quick story – so please forgive the mass e-mail.

I have a little rental house, currently occupied by a delightful couple who are courteous, responsible people Charles and Sandra. They’ve lived there for a year and a half, and on Monday they called with the first problem ever – the shower drain is stopped up. Liquid Plumber isn’t helping.

Well, I’m no plumber myself, so I called Best Value Plumbing to arrange for them to go over and take care of it. All is fine, right?

Wrong.

The owner at Best Value Plumbing called me back to ask if it was two guys living there: Sandra seems to have a really deep voice he says. Yep, Sandy does have a deep voice – the guy at Best Value guessed correctly that she used to be a man.

So he says he’s not sending anyone to house with a transgendered person living there. He wouldn’t send a guy to clean out a shower drain in a house because the woman of the house didn’t start off life that way.

So what do we do? Shake our heads and say “oh what a shame?”

I’m not asking you to, but if you find this as outrageous as I do, you might give them a call and tell them what you think.

It’s Best Value Plumbing, 689-1150, if you’re curious.

You might also pass this e-mail on to anyone who you think would be interested in NOT using their services.

I truly cannot think of anything constructive to say.  This is just another example of blatant transphobia that seems so prevalent in this country.

Update:

Another party actually called the plumber to complain.

Ma’am, you have NO idea what the real story is.

He (I am assuming the proprietor, Clifford Sands, Jr.) told a somewhat different version in which Sandra, the tenant, and Will,  the landlord both jumped to the conclusion that he was transphobic.

Mr. Sands called the tenant’s house, Sandra answered, and her voice was deep.  He referred to her as  ”sir,” and she took offense, shouted expletives at him on the phone and hung up on him.

Mr. Sands then called Will, the landlord, back to tell him what happened, and that he wouldn’t be servicing the home he was concerned for his safety (what with the tenant yelling at him and cussing him on the phone) and Will lost it, too, used expletives and hung up on him as well.

Next thing he knows, he’s getting hate calls.

The internet is a powerful tool.  It’s like a loaded gun.  Don’t point it, unless you’re willing to pull the trigger.

Curiously, I am always called ma’am at the McDonalds drive-thru, but am frequently called sir on the phone.  I try, but my feminine qualities don’t always translate over the telephone.  After I give the other person my name, Carla, and they continue to  call me sir, then I do get bent.

If this plumber is a bigot, I hope he loses business.  If he is not, I hope his business grows.

As a transperson, unfortunately, we always have to be better than the average citizen.  It’s not fair.  It’s also not fair that we always have to be on guard against transphobia.

For better or for worse, here is the plumber’s information:

Best Value Plumbing
Clifford Sands Jr.
6515 Clinton Hwy
Knoxville, TN 37912-1121
(865) 689-1150

If you feel so inclined, call them and give them hell or kudos.

MacGyver Fixed My Water Heater

Notice the soup cans?

Notice the soup cans?

Well my son and I successfully installed our new gas water heater. The new one was fatter but shorter than the old tall skinny one. As a result, the old vent pipe wouldn’t reach down to the new water heater. It was 10:00 pm and the Home Depot was closed. What to do? I wanted hot water in the morning. I had to think quickly. A quick purchase of some generic chicken noodle soup saved the day. Check out my interim water heater duct. Notice the soup cans?

Rep. Jimmy Matlock: Transphobe and Anti-Semite

As is their yearly custom, the president of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, Dr. Marisa Richmond, sent out an email holiday greeting:

As we celebrate the annual Holiday season, the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition reminds all that the fight for equal rights for all LGBT people is an ongoing one.  The recent passage of Federal Hate Crimes legislation is an important step forward, but we still have to pass a fully inclusive Hate Crimes bill at the state level, along with the Employment Non Discrimination Act at the national level.  These challenges should remind us all just how much we have to do to ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are able to enjoy the same rights and privileges of our fellow citizens.

Regardless of which holiday you may celebrate, may your season be safe and joyous.

One recipient of the announcement, Jimmy Matlock, republican representative of Lenoir City, wasn’t all too happy about being on the mailing list for this particular announcement.

Dr. Richmond recalled, “Yesterday afternoon, shortly after I sent the TTPC “Happy Holidays” email blast, I received an angry phone call from State Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenoir City).

I have previously added members of the General Assembly to our mailing list for general announcements as a way of helping to educate all members, regardless of party, on transgender issues.”

Apparently, Rep. Matlock doesn’t appreciate other groups usurping his Christmas, “…this is not a holiday season, it is a Christmas season.  We celebrate Christmas, not the holidays.  This is a Christian Nation!”

When Dr. Richmond explained that it was the first full day of Hanukkah, Matlock retorted, “This is a Christian Nation!  We celebrate the Christmas season, not the holiday season.  And I don’t want to hear anything about transvestites.  That is against all that I believe.”

If you live in Lenoir City or know anyone that does, please make sure you remember that Rep. Jimmy Matlock doesn’t represent Jews or members of the LGBT community when you are at the ballot box.

Hate is alive in well in Lenoir City, TN.

City Board of Ed passes policy regarding transgender athletes

20090819_Caster_Semenya_cropped

Recently reported in The Middletown Press, the school board of Middletown, CT, passed a new policy dictating the terms on which a transgender student athlete may compete.

The policy, taken from Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rules, states that a student-athlete will compete in the sex of his or her birth certificate unless he or she has undergone sex reassignment.

A student-athlete who has undergone sex reassignment may only compete if the reassignment was completed before puberty or, if reassignment was completed after puberty, surgical anatomical changes have been complete, Governmental agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles recognize the change and

hormonal therapy has been administered to minimize gender-related sports advantages, according to the policy.

A student-athlete who has undergone a sex reassignment after puberty will only be eligible to participate in athletics two years after the surgery is complete, the policy states.

Among the school board members, there was only one dissenter:

Board of Education member Renee Johnson-Thornton cast the lone vote against adopting the policy last week, stating that she thought that requiring the student to wait two years after surgery to participate in interscholastic sports would in effect exclude students who had undergone sex-reassignment from participating altogether.

You have to have been living under a rock not to know this is a reaction to the ongoing story of Caster Semenya, the South African distance runner recently accused of being male and posing as a female.

ReneerichardsIt was a situation similar to Caster Semenya that made Tennessee the only state to pass legislation banning changing the sex designation on birth certificates in Tennessee.  I have no proof, but the year a law was passed in Tennessee, 1977, was the same year that the New York Supreme Court ruled that Renee Richards could compete in the US Open.

Considering Caster Semenya, we don’t know if she is transgender or intersex.  If intersex, we don’t know which intersex condition among the hundreds of variations.  Yet this board of education failed to consider or adopt a policy addressing that.

A woman that is 100% genetically male that has androgen insensitivity disorder (AIS) would never know it until she tried to conceive or failed to start menstruating.  Does such a person have an unfair advantage over a genetic female?  Would anyone know?

There are literally hundreds of millions of possible genetic, chromosomal, and environmental variations that benefit some people in physical competition, yet being transgender is the only one that will be singled out.

This is nothing new.  There are many professional trangender athletes.  Some are great and some aren’t that good.  They all had to fight to be able to compete.

This is just sounds like more of the same old transphobia that is so pervasive in our world.

Knoxville TDoR 2009

IMG_7759Tonight I attended a Day of Remembrance like no other before.  As expected, there was a candlelight vigil and a reading of the names of all of the transgender people killed in 2009.  What made this different is what happened before hand.

Before the vigil, about 15 people, mostly college students, gathered at the busy intersection of Kingston Pike and Concord, just a block from the Cumberland Strip.  The participants held signs, sharing with passing drivers that today was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, how many transgender people have been killed in 2009, and other statements.

For about an hour, hundreds of cars passed.  Horns were honked in support, people waved, or yelled words of support as they drove by.  A few were nasty though.   One truck with two college age men yelled at me, “All transvestites need to die!”

At a minimum we shared our day or mourning with the people of Knoxville.  If nothing else, we started dozens, if not hundreds, of conversations in passing cars.  For a brief moment, many Knoxvillians were thinking about transgender people.

We returned to the church, Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, where candles were passed out.   Jaime stood on a bench and spoke to a crowd of about 25 people.  Next I followed with a few words.  Lastly, we light our candles and read the names of the 100+ people that were murdered in 2009 for simply being themselves.

IMG_7796

My speech follows:

Since the first event in 1998 remembering the death of Rita Hester, the transgender community and their supporters have gathered each November 20th, all across the country, to remember our trangender brothers and sisters and supporters that have been brutally murdered by senseless acts of violence.

It is more upsetting that many of these murders are not only unsolved, but never investigated or under-investigated.  It would seem that our society doesn’t deem a transgender person’s life or death worthy of the effort of an investigation.  Further, it would seem that our society believes that trangender people invite the violence by being deceitful or different.

Tyra Hunter wasn’t murdered, but many activists argue that her death could have been prevented. The 24-year-old died as a result of severe injuries she suffered from a car accident in Southeast in Aug. 1995. Paramedics stopped administering life saving treatment when they discovered she had male genitalia and decided to mock her instead, witnesses said.

In the death of Angie Zapata, in Greely, Colorado, the attacker, Ray Andrade explained to police that he thought he “killed it,” but when she made gurgling noises and started to sit up, he hit her with the extinguisher again.

In a news article detailing the murder in a Colorado newspaper, readers offered comments such as:

  • “(it) has every right to express itself however it wants…COMPLETELY DISGUSTING.”
  • “I think i would have been too violently ill to kill it.”
  • “The “victim” was scum”

During Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people were evacuated to neighboring states and municipalities.  Once such evacuee, Sharli’e Vicks, was bused to a shelter in college station texas.  Not long after arrival,  Sharli’e took a shower in the women’s shower room.  She was charged with criminal trespassing, a Class B misdemeanor, and her bail was set at $6,000.  She languished in prison for four days.  Legal advocates pressured the sherrif’s department and prosecutor and the charges were dropped.  When one of the advocacy reported, “[they] contacted the Brazos County Sheriff’s Department. [We spoke with] deputies who referred to her as an ‘it.’”

The details of brutal murders and violent attacks leaves one to question what could make one human treat another so badly. The answer is transgender victims aren’t considered human by their attackers.  How could you explain these horrible comments or methods of attack?  Dozens of stab wounds, removal of genitals, strangulation, beaten to death, decapitation – even the most violent of people would have difficulty doing these same actions to an animal, yet, for some, it is completely acceptable to do these same actions to transgender persons?

Even more than passing hate crime laws in this country, the transgender community needs advocates – vocal advocates.  It’s easy to ignore your friends or family when you hear them speaking derisively about transgender people.  It hard to open your mouth and be an advocate.  It’s hard to stand up for a group of people that is so easily and comfortably demonized by the majority of people.

Hate crime laws won’t change people’s hearts.  Hate crime laws won’t make my neighbors see me as a human being.  Only my actions and your actions can do that.  When you’re asked to vote, vote.  When you’re asked to call your representative or senator, call them.  When you’re asked to change the world, find out where you sign up.

My transgender community is too small to change the world by ourselves.  Too many of our vocal foot soldiers die every year.  The majority sit in silence.  We all live with fear.

My generation and generations passed have screwed this country up enough.  The younger generation will be the one that sets things right, the generation that makes a difference in people’s lives.  Don’t be indifferent.  Don’t be silent.  Be vocal.  Be involved.

I don’t remember where I read this, but it seems appropriateness tonight:

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.

Remember, you all have the power to be powerful.  You only have to believe that you can make things better.

11th Transgender Day of Remembrance

Jaime, my love and my life, you gotta love her.

As we approach the 11th Transgender Day of Remembrance, tomorrow, November 20, 2009, I want to share with you something Jaime posted on her facebook profile:

“This week I will have my profile picture blacked out in observance of TDOR (transgender day of remembrance). I am doing this for the many faces that will no longer be seen. Crimes and murders against transgender individuals have nearly doubled this year alone. In many cases when a transgender individual is killed their bodies are mutilated and often the perpetrators aren’t prosecuted; frequently the victims remain unidentified. I have a transgender friend who hid as her roommate (also trans) was shot in the head and in the heart, her face was nearly shot off but she would remain alive until after the paramedics arrived (the perpetrator of this crime was basically put on house arrest).

Transgender people serve as your doctors and professors, we fix your hair, your coffee or your computer, we entertain. There are also many transgender people who work in the sex industry–maybe they want to, maybe they face job discrimination, maybe they feel like it’s all that they are worth, maybe they have been disowned by family and simply thrown away–how many times can you hear that you are an abomination, a freak or made to feel less than human and still feel worthy of being a part of ‘mainstream’ society.

I have yet to meet a transgender person who has not had a suicide attempt or seriously contemplated suicide, and there are many suicides of transgender individuals that don’t get reported because of the ‘shame’ associated with this condition.

I don’t know all of the reasons why people are transgender nor do I fully understand all of the reasons that this is such a difficult issue for many churches and for society to deal with. What I do know is that we don’t have to agree on everything but that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and dignity. Another thing that I also know is that there is an emptiness from the loss of my brothers and sisters whose lives were taken too early and their stories will never be told; and that I live with the fear that there is a greater probability I can be murdered or my friends can be attacked because of who I am (and I have witnessed firsthand the murder of a friend nearly a year ago and that will take a lifetime to heal). I know that I will cry a river this week, I know that I am depressed (I also know this will pass) and I know that there will be the dawn of a new day (although I can never say the sun will come out tomorrow-and some of you may know why). I know that the probability that more lives of my brothers and sisters being taken is inevitable; but I know that I will tell my story just a little more than I have in the past, and I know that I have seen changes in peoples attitudes and I know that I will not stop working for equality, and I know that now more than ever I am grateful for my family and for my friends.”