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Posts Tagged ‘Autumn Sandeen’

Good queer news out of Kansas! The city commission of Manhattan, KS (aka The Little Apple) voted in favor of extending its anti-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation AND gender identity. In other words they have moved to protect people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual . My friend Jonathan Mertz wrote to tell me the good news,

Last night the Manhattan city commission voted 3-2 to add sexual orientation AND gender identity to the city’s human rights ordinance! Yes, a 5-0 vote would have been better, but we’ll take it.

We are particularly proud because Manhattan is the first city in Kansas to include gender identity as a protected class. I should say proud to be the first, embarrassed that we are the first. The good news we may not be the last.

Earlier today on the Queer and Queerer podcast, Zack Ford and I shared how trangender people have often been excluded in the “gay rights” struggle. In 2007 the gay backers of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, stripped gender identity and expression from the bill even after promises to keep it in.

In our program we reference blogger, LGBT activist, Navy veteran, and transgender woman, Autumn Sandeen, and her work towards the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She points out that the way has been opened for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to serve openly in the military, but not yet transgender people. Autumn advocates non-violent action to shame LGB(t) organizations into putting  money and action behind the lip service they play to the transgender community.

What is heartening about this LGBT rights victory in Manhattan, KS is that the backers of the ordinance remained committed to the inclusion of transgender people even though that meant they had to work harder to get it passed. Jonathan goes on to explain,

I’m chair of the board of the Flint Hills Human Rights Project, the group that lead the charge to get the ordinance passed. One of our first questions we considered was “Would we support an ordinance that just included sexual orientation?” The board was unanimous that we would only support an ordinance that included sexual orientation and gender identity. It did make it more of a challenge, but it passed!

The Topeka Capitol-Journey has a short piece about the ordinance. Warning: Some of the comments are cruel and stupid. If you are up for it, add some light and insight. Better yet, share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and your blog. It’s good news.

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This will be one of those “this and that” sorts of blogs. Lots of things to highlight.

NEW podcast available of Queer & Queerer. Men as Feminists, Political Outing, and Archie You may find the discussion about outing homophobic politicians of interest as well as the one about privilege.  Have a listen here and check out the comment section.

I was recently in the Pacific North West and spent a week at University of Puget Sound with a bunch of VERY cool people including Jane (hey Jane!) We staged my play Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible, and I am pleased to learn that a discussion continues.  Seth Kirby, who attended a number of my presentations, wrote an article: Gays and Lesbians often forced to choose between Identity and Faith.

Coming out in my teens and transitioning to male in my early 20s left me without a faith community. Had I wanted to go to church in Olympia, I’m not sure I would have been able to identify where to go. Even churches that accepted gay and lesbian people were not necessary open to transgender people. By 21, I was sure that religion was not for me.

Unfortunately, there are many people in the LGBT community who have had to leave their faith community. I am also fortunate to have many LGBT and allied people of various faith backgrounds in my life.

In Ex-Gay News… In the midst of the upcoming British elections, Rising Tory star Philippa Stroud ran prayer sessions to ‘cure’ gay (and transgender) people. From Sunday’s Guardian:

A high-flying prospective Conservative MP, credited with shaping many of the party’s social policies, founded a church that tried to “cure” homosexuals by driving out their “demons” through prayer.

–snip–

The CSJ reportedly claims to have formulated as many as 70 of the party’s policies. Stroud has spoken of how her Christian faith has motivated her to help the poor and of her time spent working with the destitute in Hong Kong. On her return to Britain, in 1989, she founded a church and night shelter in Bedford, the King’s Arms Project, that helped drug addicts and alcoholics. It also counseled gay, lesbian and transsexual people.

Abi, a teenage girl with transsexual issues, was sent to the church by her parents, who were evangelical Christians. “Convinced I was demonically possessed, my parents made the decision to move to Bedford, because of this woman [Stroud] who had come back from Hong Kong and had the power to set me free,” Abi told the Observer.

“She wanted me to know all my thinking was wrong, I was wrong and the so-called demons inside me were wrong. The session ended with her and others praying over me, calling out the demons. She really believed things like homosexuality, transsexualism and addiction could be fixed just by prayer, all in the name of Jesus.”

hat tip to my friend Tania Jane Taylor (or in Twitterland known as Sparklygrrl) in Manchester.

The ex-gay story has been in the UK press a lot this past year. In February Patrick Strudwick publish his investigative journalism piece in the Independent. He went undercover to reveal some of what is still going on in the UK. The ex-gay world there had been mostly underground, especially after Jeremy Marks in 2001 transformed his ex-gay program Courage into an LGBT affirming Christian organization. Jeremy also has a book out he published in 2008 after he issued a public apology for his role in promoting and providing ex-gay treatment in the UK. (Click here to order in the UK. For North Americans, you can get it at Amazon.)

DADT protest April 20, 2010 with Autumn Sandeen

Check out Autumn Sandeen‘s brilliant and moving letter: President Obama: A Transgender Veteran Is Not An ”Impersonator,” ”It,” Or ”Shim” Autumn was one of LGBTQ people who did military service and recently chained themselves to the White House fence in order to put pressure on President Obama to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. She writes about her arrest as a transgender woman, who self-identified as transgender, and the uninformed and abusive treatment she received from Park Police and once in confinement. Oh, and hear the Trans-Ponder podcast interview with Autumn.

Calling transgender people “it” is clearly a way of dehumanizing transgender people. “Shim” — a term relative to “she-male” — is also a dehumanizing term to identify transgender people.  President Obama, your U.S. Marshal calling me “it” and “the shim” is the equivalent to calling an African-American by the n-word, or calling a Gay-American by the antigay f-word, it is absolutely unacceptable.

I believe the behavior of your U.S. Marshal’s sent the message to the prisoners that your representatives wouldn’t protect me if these prisoners had sought to physically harm me — because I was a less than human, a “shim.”  At no time did any officer correct or dissuade any of the other officers from such offensive behaviors.  In fact, they seemed to feel comfortable in doing so around each other, even in front of other prisoners.

President Obama, you should be able to identify the U.S. Marshal who raised her fist and yelled “Go Navy” several times, and called me “it” and “shim” because there is a fixed camera facing the U.S. Marshal Station. I’ve asked Jeff Lynch of the DC Trans Coalition to help me file a Freedom Of Information Act request for that segment of video — because I too would like to see the video, and I’m sure too that many others would like to see it as well.

As for me, I am back in the Susquehanna Valley (Selinsgrove and Sunbury, PA) working on my memoir, moving into the new house and recording a new podcast with Zack Ford tomorrow where we will look at legal and illegal discrimination of LGBT folks, a shocking verbal revelation (thanks to Peter Leeson’s recent comments to us about Episode three. check out Peter’s Tweets and Blog Posts)

In New England? Make plans to attend TransformNH in Concord, NH July 23-24. I will be there!

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