Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It’s not about “special treatment,” it’s about respect

Nice article by the Steven Petrow, past president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association about pregnant trans man Thomas Beatie and the "skeptic quotes" and intentionally wrong pronouns that often accompanied coverage of him. Petrow, who gets it, and makes this point:

As for news coverage, Ina explained to me that most media outlets at that time still had no consistency in how they applied pronouns to transgender people, often identifying individuals by their gender of birth—not gender appearance or expression. Now, most newspapers have adopted a policy to use a transgender person's chosen name and pronoun. For instance, the San Jose Mercury News, after repeatedly failing in how it identified transgender individuals in the much-publicized murder of Gwen Araujo, adopted this much more fair and accurate policy:
We encourage you to ask transgender people which pronoun they would like you to use. If it is not possible to ask the person which pronoun he or she prefers, use the pronoun that is consistent with the person's appearance and gender expression. Also, please do not put quotation marks around gender pronouns, suggesting that the pronoun does not reflect the person's true sex.
If you think this is a case of "special" treatment, think again. We in the media often use the chosen names of celebrities as both a measure of respect and clarity rather than insisting on using their birth name. (For instance, Muhammad Ali is no longer referred to by his birth name, Cassius Clay; similarly, we all know the former Cherilyn Sarkisian as the one-syllable diva: Cher.)
Petrow also offers a nice bit of context:
Many in the LGBT community have wondered whether the transgender community will see "some backlash" from the Beatie story and whether it will hinder the movement toward greater social acceptance of transgender individuals. When you have Letterman saying someone is a "freak show," you've got a bit of a problem. This reminds me, though, of another so-called problem. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as gays and lesbians sought greater visibility and acceptance, more conservative members of our "community" (which I put in quotation marks here because there was a decided lack of community in their views) argued vociferously that leather men, drag queens, porn stars and transvestites should go to the back of the lavender bus because they were not good PR vehicles for the gay rights movement. In short, we were urged to put our "best" faces forward: The Brooks Brother Homosexual.

Hunter Madsen (along with the late Marshall Kirk, both tidy young men, then) wrote the seminal treatise on this: After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the '90s. They argued against shock tactics—like PDAs in the street—and in favor of a Madison Avenue-like public relations campaign that aimed to make gays more mediagenic (think Will & Grace). Looking back over the nearly two decades since their book was published, we can easily see that acceptance of gays and lesbians has been helped by our mainstream brothers and sisters: Ellen DeGeneres (TV superstar), Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City) and Greg Louganis (Olympian) as examples. Yet, don't mistake the power of our more outrĂ© companions in shaping the culture, in pushing the culture: the "divine" filmmaker John Waters; NPR's most famous "lisper," David Sedaris; and the androgynous chanteuse k.d. lang. Madsen and Kirk would likely have chosen to obfuscate this latter trio of LGBT heroes in their PR campaign for gay acceptance—and what a sadder, more narrow world that would have been for everyone. Similarly, Beatie might not be the poster child for transgender acceptance that some would like. Too bad, I say. He's one among many, and if we know anything from recent history, it's the importance of each of us standing up to be visible, recognized and accepted for who we are.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Legal Marriage, Queer Relationship

The NYT did an article about the legal issues when you're a heterosexual couple and one of you legally changes gender. I've been talking about the ramifications of this stuff for so long that I failed to notice for others it might be quite a surprise, and revelatory, but it is.

Interesting comments have come in from Cara at Feministe and a young trans woman who calls herself Critical Thinking Girl. As CTG points out, it is pretty tawdry - the usual before & after photos, etc. - and when she notes:

The tone of this article is clear - Fran is a put-upon woman, with an eccentric husband. The picture they chose is also curious as it has the trans woman in the relationship holding back her wife.

As many of my regular readers already know, one of the things that drives me batshit about the media in general is the way they choose rubes to write about, instead of speaking to activists or advocates who are prepared to deal with media, or who have become allied with LGBTQ people on the issue. For those of you who are interested, here's a talk I gave at the Law School of Penn State Dickinson last year.

Because honestly, same sex marriage recognition would make life easier for all trans people in relationships - including CTG.

Oh - and to The Times - and everyone else: it's "transition" not "sex change."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Journalist Apologizes

Journalist Ann Romano of The Portland Mercury apologized for an article she wrote about Thomas Beattie, Portland's resident trans man.

Journalists, take note: this is a good example of how to apologize after writing crap about trans people

Thanks, Ms. Romano.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Don't Speak

Today is the Day of Silence, a day when students don’t speak in order to address issues of harassment and bullying in schools. It is not neccessarily specific to the protection of LGBT students, except that of course LGBT and gender variant students tend to be the target of most of the harassment.

From NCTE:

At NCTE, we believe passionately in the rights of all children and young people to go to school and be free from bullying and harassment. Learning needs to take place in an environment where children are safe — physically as well as emotionally — and can express their identities as they grow and develop. Transgender children and teens deserve these rights as much as every other student in our schools.

This year’s Day of Silence is dedicated to Lawrence King.

GLSEN is the organization who started this event, and you can find out more about it at their website.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pastor Paul Turner's Response to an invitation to the Atlanta HRC Dinner

Note from Monica Helms. I have personally known Pastor Turner since 2000 when he came to Atlanta's first Transgender Day of Remembrance. He has been a tireless advocate for transgender rights every since. Not only am I a regular member of Gentle Spirit Christian Church, but I'm the VP of the Church's board. I would have not done that for any other pastor. I consider him one of my dearest friends. His E-mail is on this posting. Tell him what you thought of his words.

The following was an E-mail response from Pastor Paul Turner, the Senior Pastor for Gentle Spirit Church, Atlanta, GA to an invitation to the Atlanta HRC Dinner, May 3, 2008.

Subject: Atlanta Human Rights Campaign Dinner Invite

Sent to Pastor Paul Turner, Senior Pastor Gentle Spirit Church, Atlanta, GA, Monday, April 21, 2008, in regards to the HRC Atlanta Dinner, scheduled for May 3, 2008

Thank you for the invitation...However, I will not participate with anything involving HRC until the Transgender Community is really part of the LGBTQI they so often say they represent.

There are those in our community who think I am being "childish" and "foolish" about this, however, I cannot nor will I stand with an organization which uses a part of our community as a political chess piece.

I cannot nor will I stand silently by while our sisters and brothers in the Transgender community are told they must wait for protection, or "they must understand we are not there yet". Every year I stand at the State Capital to hear more names read of our sisters and brothers who have been slaughtered. Yet, HRC does not see the need to take a stand on their behalf? The HRC really thinks it is OK to have just LGB?

I will once again say:

There is no going forward if everyone is not with us.

This is not Animal Farm where "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal then others"!

HRC has made and continues to make a horrible and tragic miscalculation...a poll of 500 people does not speak for the entire LGBTQ community.

HRC sold it's sisters and brothers down the river for a bill they knew was not going to pass or have a chance in hell of becoming law. So what better time then to take a moral and courageous stand?

Does HRC not understand the Transgender community is in real and serious danger? When a house is on fire you don't stand outside and decide whom you are going to rescue, the attempt is made for all.

Of course what HRC has forgotten is it was these folks who started the whole “gay rights” movement we know today when they stood toe to high heal with the New York City police department at Stonewall.

HRC confidently forgets the Trans community has been with us every step of this bloody fight for our rights, our self worth and our very souls.

HRC forgets or ignores that each day when a trans person gets out of bed and steps into the world it may in fact be their last day.

If the hypocrites in congress don't want transgender people in a bill of protection for LGBTQI folks, then there should be no bill for consideration...not have HRC bargaining and agreeing that a part of our community is expendable and could simply wait for another day.

By not including Transgender people in any bill sent to the floor of congress y'all send a clear message to everyone concerned that the transgender community is somehow not on equal footing with the rest of the community.

This is wrong and HRC knows it. Pastorally speaking HRC has chosen to be the Esther who didn't bother to go before the King (Esther 4 New International Version).

Shame on you. I wonder how many Transgender people will die because even HRC does not think they are worthy of protection? This was and is a time for leadership, guts and courage.

It has been said a bill couldn't get through with Trans as apart of it, that it would be defeated...well my friends you may have won the battle with the US Congress but HRC has made themselves hypocrites in the truest sense of the word.

"The Human Rights Campaign is the nations largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality" Just where does the needs of the transgender community meet HRC's definition of civil rights if not within ENDA?

I know this doesn't mean a hell of lot to you, as I am not one of the high profile pastor's for which HRC has fooled into believing they care about the total community. Yet, how does one deal with a statement from your Executive Director which as it turns out was a flat out lie?

This statement was made in front of a room full of Transgender folks. So did your Executive Director mis-speak? Although I thought his statement was pretty clear. Are we to pretend this statement of support was just to say something nice to the trans community?

I cannot express how sad and disappointed I am in this organization. HRC should know that God's people are not expendable at any price!

The recent attempts to "explain" to "sooth", to "justify". to "spin" this despicable act on the part of HRC is arrogant, shameful and not worthy of a people who want our money so they can "fight for our rights"

I am no longer a supporter of HRC, I will not honor their name or pass on their e-mails with their weekly calls for money.

They will not again receive one dime of my money or the church's and I will certainly encourage folks to find other organizations to support with their hard earned money other then HRC. I do believe there are organizations out there that still understand the meaning of community and that without all the hard work of the Trans community we would be nothing.

There is talk of a calling for a boycott of the HRC dinner in Atlanta as well as any other HRC events in this city that seek our hard earned money. I am inclined to agree with boycotting the dinner and HRC in general. It is an appropriate way to send a message from Atlanta, the cradle of the civil rights movement that if we are not all protected by the law then none of us has protection.

No, I will not be going to this dinner and I would encourage anyone who has a basic sense of fairness, compassion and a sense of community to not go either.

I would encourage Rev. Dennis Meredith not to attend and accept an award from a group of people who are not willing to stand by all who are apart of the community.

Reverend Paul M. Turner

Sr. Pastor


From: []
Sent: Monday, April 21, 2008 6:38 PM
Subject: Human Rights Campaign Dinner Invite

Jason Lowery & Ebonee Bradford Cordially invites you to attend the 21st Annual Human Rights Campaign Dinner. Keynote speaker Kathy Nahjimy, Entertainment the incomprable crystal waters! tickets are still available for may 3, 2008

Awardees: Rev dennis meredith, Tabernacle Baptist Atl.-Dan Bradley Humunitarian Award/ Frank Bragg Metrotainment cafe/leon allen & Winston Johnson Community leadership award. or

'Cause ya know, it's the victim's fault...

Crossposted from Shakesville:

The defense attorney for the alleged killer in the hate-crime murder of Lawrence King argues it's the victim's fault for not conforming to gender norms.

King, who was openly gay and had begun wearing make-up, earrings, and high-heeled boots to his junior high school, had been harassed by other students, including Brandon McInerney, 14, who is charged with shooting King twice in the back the head during an English class shortly after school started. Fellow students said they witnessed confrontations between the two in the days before the shooting, including King's teasing McInerney and telling him that he liked him.

But to hear McInerney's defense attorney tell it, the problem was that King should have been closeted and straight-acting:

[Senior Deputy Public Defender William] Quest said he believes school administrators supported one student expressing himself and his sexuality — King — and ignored how it affected other kids, despite complaints. Cross-dressing isn't a normal thing in adult environments, he said, yet 12-, 13- and 14-year-olds were expected to just accept it and go on.

Now if you've ever been around a courthouse, you'll know that blaming victims, sullying their reputations, and/or claiming they provoked the accused are part of the standard repertoire of the defense, whose job it is to raise doubts. Disappointingly, I've heard comments on various LGBTQ blogs that McInerney's attorney is "just doing his job" and obligated to make the best argument he can for his client. But while the latter is true, there are a variety of arguments that aren't allowed in court because society considers them illegitimate and unacceptable.

If a student killed another student for dressing "differently" because they wore a yarmulke or a head scarf, or a t-shirt with a biblical quote on it, we'd call it for what was: religious bigotry.

If a white student killed a black student for creating a "disruption" simply by attending school, we'd call what it was: racist.

If a teenage boy shot a girl he didn't like because she kept flirting with him, we wouldn't consider that a justifiable provocation.

Society and the law don't consider any of these valid excuses for the accused's actions, or reasons for lesser punishment; in fact, California specifically outlawed the infamous "gay panic" defense in the wake of the public revulsion about its use by the murderers of trans woman Gwen Araujo—a law that Quinn seems to be trying to do an end-run around by claiming it was King who was doing the harassing, when in fact King was just standing up to a bigger, stronger bully. A bully who allegedly decided to put the "uppity faggot" in his place: six feet underground. This wasn't a panic. This wasn't a provoked killing. It was a planned, cold-blooded execution.

Being different shouldn't be a death sentence, and a "back to the closet" defense shouldn't be tolerated.


In case you’ve never heard of it, The Tranny Road Show is a traveling troupe of trans identified writers, performers, and musicians, organized by Jamez Terry and Kelly Shortandqueer.

The remaining dates of the 2008 Rocky Mountain Tour include:

* the Gay and Lesbian Center in Colorado Springs (Tuesday 4/22),
* University of Denver (Thursday 4/23),
* University of Colorado at Boulder ( 4/25) and
* Backroad Pizza in Santa Fe, NM (Saturday 4/26).

My students at Lawrence saw the TRS last year & loved it. for more information.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Denied “Big O” and HRC’s Corporate Equality Index Farce

No, the “Big O” is not about orgasms, or “Oprah,” or “” This is about another Big O that is specific to pre-operative male-to-female transsexuals, one called an “Orchiectomy,” also called “Orchie” for short. Other words that are used to describe the procedure are; “gelding, neutering” and “orchidectomy.” In other words, “castration.”

One of the biggest health risks facing pre-op and non-op transsexuals is the same one that faces post-menopausal women: taking too much estrogen and testosterone blockers. There have been many studies done on the negative affects of estrogen and progesterone on a woman’s body over the years, some as recent as this year. On the ABC News, March 4, 2008, they had a story on how the affects of estrogen still lingers after a person stops taking it, specifically with breast cancer.

Besides breast cancer, estrogen has a tendency of thickening a person’s blood, which can cause clots, leading to possible heart attacks and strokes. It can also cause bone density lost. The current studies show that the risk of blood clotting lessens when a person stops taking estrogen, but the risk for breast cancer still remains high.

When a transsexual woman has sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or an orchiectomy, the need to block testosterone is gone and the amount of estrogen needed to maintain a healthy level is drastically reduced. I have heard of some trans women who stopped taking estrogen all together, or changed to an estrogen substitute after one of these surgeries. This is one of several benefits for SRS or an orchie.

These studies are important to me because I have been on hormones for over 11 years now. When I started, the negative side affects for estrogen had barely been studied. Not a lot of information on the health issues had been revealed and any negative affects were easily brush aside.

But, I can no longer turn a blind eye to what estrogen and progesterone have been doing to my body over the years. Stopping hormones without stopping testosterone from being made can cause kidney and liver damage, as well as the emotional affects brought on by unbalanced hormones. I’m between a rock and a hard place as far as my health is concern.

Since I am not financially ready for SRS and the company I work for won’t cover it, then I decided to go the route of getting an orchie. It is a common and inexpensive procedure to treat testicular cancer and is usually covered by most medical insurance. I figured the company I work for covered this surgery, but things weren’t going to work out that way.

I am not writing this article to chastise the Fortune 500 Company I work for, so I will not reveal their name. Some of you may already know, so I request you don’t mention it in the comment section. For the purpose of this article, I will just use “the Company.”

I have been working for the Company for 18 years now, which means I transitioned on the job. I was told they would not tolerate harassment, but what I received was subtle bigotry by my coworkers. As I started getting more involved in activism, I decided to see if the Company would add “gender identity and gender expression” in the EEO policy. After six years of asking, in 2005, they finally put in “gender identity” without even saying anything. Up until then, I would get a phone call from the head of HR telling me, “We will not discriminate for any reason.” They called rather than sending me an E-mail so they wouldn’t have any paper trail of our conversation.

I put them to the test on their commitment to this four years ago when an endocrinologist coded a lab test for Gender Identity Disorder, yet he had never done that in the past. The medical insurance company denied the claim and the doctor’s office refused to change the code to what they used in the past. I refused to pay the bill and they sent me to collections.

After discussing this with the insurance company, they told me that if the Company told them to pay for this, they would. I first went to HR to remind them that I was told that they would not discriminate for any reason. If other people in the Company who got the same lab tests and had them paid for, then I should have mine paid for as well. HR told Benefits to handle this.

Things bogged down at that point. They had to “do research” to see if they should cover this, while in the meantime, the collections agency kept calling me. It took six months of being harassed by the collection agency and calling the Benefits office each time to have them finally tell the insurance company to pay the doctor.

Now it’s 2008 and there are new HR and Benefits people. After seeing all the scary news on how estrogen harms the body, I decided to see if my medical doctor saw a need for me to get an orchie and I figured the insurance company would pay for it. However, I have been listed as “female” by the Company and the insurance company for the last 11 years, even though everyone knows of my status.

There are a lot of benefits to be listed as female when it has come to my health. But, getting an orchie is not one of them. Females do not have testicles, so in the beginning of all of this, the insurance company told the doctor’s insurance person, “This would be considered a transsexual procedure and therefore, cosmetic.”

In the orchiectomy procedure, the doctor removes the inside of the testicles, but there are no “cosmetic” benefits from this. Then there is the cost comparison between an ochie and treatment for breast cancer, heart attacks or strokes. These are very expensive procedures. Not only am I trying to protect my health, but I am trying to save the company a lot of money in the future. An orchie can be between $1000 and $4000, depending where a person goes. Treating me for a heart attack or a stroke can be 50 to 100 times that amount.

After the Benefits person talked with the insurance company, they decided to do a “benefits review” and would send me a letter in 3 days. When I received the letter they said they were denying the surgery, but had a paragraph at the bottom of the letter that said it could be sent back with more medical information.

The doctor’s insurance person got the same letter and when she called them, they told her that what she read was part of the “form letter” portion of the letter.” They then said the reason for denial was simply, “We don’t cover that.” There was no medical decision involved, nor any amount of medical proof would change their minds. This looks a lot like the denial of payment for the lab test.

There is more to all of this. Last summer, there was a major discussion with the Company and several people, trying to convince them to cover SRS. We had all kinds of examples of the low overall cost and the frequency of people applying for the surgery. They decided not to cover it. I’m sure that decision affected me and my request for an orchie.

On top of all of this, the Company has a 100% rating by the HRC Corporate Equality Index. To get that rating, they have to say “Yes” to the question of whether they provide various transsexual services, including surgeries. Most of us would read that as meaning SRS, but a few years back, we discovered that if they cover hysterectomies for women, then trans men are supposed to be covered. An orchie falls into that same category. However, if a trans woman is listed as female or a trans man is listed as male, then the insurance companies my Company uses won’t cover them. As your read earlier, they called them, “transsexual surgeries.”

I called HRC and left a voice message to a person involved with HRC’s CEI to have my Company’s index number reduced, but a week later, I still haven’t heard back from them. Then on April 15, I received a form E-mail from them and this is what they said:

“Thanks for contacting the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The Corporate Equality Index requires the following transgender-related criteria of an employer in order to receive a 100% rating:

-- A non-discrimination/EEO policy that includes gender identity and/or expression;
-- Insurance includes access for transitioning individuals for at least one category: Counseling by a mental health professional; pharmacy benefits covering hormone therapy; medical visits to monitor the effects of hormone therapy and other associated lab procedures; medically necessary surgical procedures such as hysterectomy; or short-term disability leave for surgical procedures; and diversity training that is inclusive of gender identity OR has supportive gender transition guidelines.”

What? “At least ONE Category?” Companies need to cover ALL of those categories and not “at least one category.” This really shows how much of a farce the HRC Corporate Equality Index truly is. Companies can do just one little insignificant thing that falls into one of those categories and they’re rewarded with the coveted 100%. Because my company covers just a few of those categories and not some of the important ones, they get their 100%, while I am still at risk for heart attacks, strokes and breast cancer. This is BS to the Nth degree.

I also see an issue where the insurance company is violating my Company’s EEO Policy by discriminating against me based on my gender identity. Looking up the insurance company in the HRC Corporate Equality Index, I find they also have “gender identity” in their EEO Policy. Oh, wait, I guess they can violate their EEO policy when it comes to their “customers.” I have contacted Lambda Legal on this to get their advice and Cole Thaler sent me letters that worked for other people in a similar situation.

I still cannot understand why Benefits will not tell the insurance company to cover this like they did for the lab test. On March 14, the Benefits person said that it will be from one to two weeks before the official appeal process would be over. I also contacted HR on the possible EEO Policy violation, but they haven’t said anything as of April 14.

When I got back from vacation and went to work on April 9, I had an E-mail from the Benefits person saying the appeal was once again denied. However, this time the reason was the insurance company didn’t see this as medically necessary. Just like we have heard other people experiencing, I have an insurance company telling doctors they don’t know crap about their profession. This has now become another American insurance company fiasco, and it’s not even an HMO.

The urologists’ office canceled the surgery until they get the ok to cover it. This has not been a pleasant journey for me over the last several weeks. I won’t stay quiet on this. My doctor is ready to mount another attempt with the letters form Lambda Legal and my Pastor and I are ready to approach this in the Soul Force fashion.

I felt it was important to bring to light the problems that I am facing at my job when trying to protect my health. There maybe others who will encounter this problem, so I figured they need a heads up on what to expect. I’m wondering. Since they have me listed as “female” in the system, should I ask them to cover me for a hysterectomy?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Guest Author: Quetzalli Cold Thunder

A guest post by Quetzalli Cold Thunder, who is a regular on our message boards and trans and Native American, on the use of the term berdache.

During the IFGE Conference, I heard the term 'berdache' mentioned A LOT. In fact, at a session regarding transgenderism and Native People, folks continued to use the term after the presenter said that among Native People it is derogatory, that he respected their opinion and that he would prefer that the term not be used. (In that audience, a fine, gender counseling Dr. uttered the term that caused the presenter to give his statement. He continued using the term and had he mentioned the expression one more time, I fear I would have made a spectacle of myself, and gone home with a scalp.) The term is my nigger and yes, I also understand its usage among blacks, but I know of no Native People that use this term in any 'endearing' form among themselves. Quite the contrary, it is much more demeaning when directed at a skin from a skin.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Arizona, IFGE, Love and My Two Sons

Going back to Arizona has always been one of adventure and pain for me. I lived there most of my life, graduating high school there, I joined the Navy from there, I was married there, my two sons were born there, I was divorced there, I started my life as Monica there, and my father is buried there. All of my family, with the exception of my oldest son lives in Arizona. To say that Arizona holds an important place in my life would be like saying that air is important in my life. I can’t quit Arizona.

Most of the time when I go back to visit family in Arizona, it is near the end of the year, for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. This time, I was able to visit in March and April, when the temperatures were in the 80s and 90s. That’s tank top weather! I love being a girl.

Early in my trip, I got the chance to spend a little time with Serena Freewomyn, a writer for the popular blog, The Bilerico Project. I was always impressed with Serena’s viewpoint and her writing style. The Friday we got together was a fun evening. She brought two of her friends with her and they were a blast.

The most interesting part of the trip to Arizona started on Wednesday when I arrived at the Double Tree Hotel in Tucson. I actually got to go swimming at the hotel pool. No one could tell I was a pre-op in the suit I wore, and it didn’t even have one of those cute little skirts. (As I said, I love being a girl.) But, that was nothing compared to what Fate had in stored for me later that evening.

At the evening get together, I got to see some of my old friends and I met people who I knew of and communicated with but never met in the past. Marti Abernathey was one of them. We had a little joke going that when we would meet, we would arm wrestle. As she stated in her recent article, she won. Should a woman brag about that? I wonder . . .

The “Fate” moment happened when I was at the food table waiting for them to bring out another tray of finger foods. A beautiful trans woman came up and we started up a conversation. Her name is Karen and she lives in Austin, TX. I’m not going to elaborate on what took place over the next four days, but I will say that we both cried when we had to kiss good-bye that Saturday evening after everything was over. Love is a two-headed coin that can draw out the extremes in emotions at both ends. It did for me that weekend. Atlanta and Austin are about 1000 miles apart, but we will see each other again. After all, she touched my soul in ways only a few have ever done. I really, really love being a girl.


As I mentioned in a previous blog posting, my two sons came to the IFGE Conference to participate in a workshop called, “Children of Transgender Parents.” One may not understand the extreme emotions I felt in this situation. My sons were okay with me being in the room during this workshop, so I took pictures and audio recorded it. I’m glad I did.

Robert and Bryan

During the course of the workshop, both of my sons said things that I found important. I don’t want to take away from what the two women who were also on the panel said. They had very good advice and compelling stories. It is just that I’m focusing on what my sons said.

Children of Transgender Parents

It is important to note that when my youngest son, Bryan, gave his story, he broke down and cried. As you can guess, so did I. I later realized that all these years, Bryan never had the chance to talk about his pent up feelings during those times and this panel became the first time in over a decade that he got the chance to tell how he felt to someone else. I think it helped both of my sons and me when he did.

Here are some of the things Robert, my oldest said. He’ll be 26 in early June: “Hard to explain what was going on at home at school. You kinda don’t want to talk about it.”

“In the service I couldn’t tell anyone. We now have a good relationship because we have a lot in common. We now have a better relationship than I see other people do.”

“The easiest thing for me was she told me really early in life. The best advice I can give is to tell your kids, let them know how you feel and tell them early on. She never really forced it on us.”

“The one thing I remember I first saw her fully dressed was when she came over to the house because she hadn’t seen us for a long time. I remember thinking, ‘you wear too much makeup’.”

Here are some of the things Bryan said. He will be 24 in early June: “He sat us down on the couch and told us he was leaving. It was really hard. Extremely hard.” (This is where Bryan, then I started crying.) “I told my dad that he was always going to be my dad. I now see her as a person.”

“She doesn’t force anything on me. It was weird at first. Really weird.”

“He’s still my dad and he doesn’t treat me any different other than my dad.”

Bryan was also asked about how he felt this will affect is son in the future and both he and Robert said that it will probably not be such a big deal when Xavier starts school, or when Robert has children and they start school.

As you can see, Robert was rock solid on the pronouns and Bryan went back and forth. I think it is because Bryan and I don’t interact as much as Robert and I do. I have a feeling that is about to change.

One person attending the workshop observed that even though Robert and Bryan grew up seeing the same things with my transition, they both reacted differently and saw things differently. Their individuality has a lot to do with that.

After the panel was over, people came up to all four of the panel members and told them how much their stories helped them. From the very first moment I approached my two sons on being on this workshop, I knew what the potential of help their stories could have. To see that they did indeed help some people that day makes me so proud of them. Robert says he is now planning on getting involved in Southern California, knowing that he could help others.

If you would have asked me five years ago if my two sons would ever talk on a panel at a trans conference, I would have said you were crazy. Now, I encourage other LGBT people who are close to their children to see if they would help in the same way. We have PFLAG showing how our parents and straight friends love us, and now COLAGE to show how much our children love us. It’s an approach that will ultimately help us win our equality.

I cannot ignore the comments that my friend, Cheryl Ann Costa said at her Trinity acceptance speech. Marti Abernathey in her Bilerico Project article covered what Costa said. As Marti stated, we were all surprised at the archaic thoughts Cheryl brought out in her speech. As the MC for that event, I really didn’t know how to follow that up.

However, I do recall having a Star Trek moment when Costa said that the trans men need to put on suits and join the Rotary Club and the trans women should break away from the crossdressers and have their own conference. This is what crossed my mind: “We are Borg. We will assimilate your uniqueness into our collective. Resistance is futile.” In my opinion, “resistance” IS what being transgender is all about. Sorry, Cheryl.

I have to say that this IFGE was the best trans-specific conference I have ever attended. My two sons being there and meeting Karen helped. But, others who have attended many more conferences then I have said the same thing. I want to thank Erin Russ, Michael Woodward and all the people of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance and Wingspan for helping make this a most memorable conference. As a board member of IFGE, I hope I can convince the rest of the board in making Tucson our “western home” for some of our future conferences. I’m sure it won’t take much of a convincing.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Trans & the Media

Here's a stunning, angry piece about trans people and media coverage, mostly inspired by the Thomas Beattie story.

Good work!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Changing Hearts and Minds: The 2008 IFGE Conference

I've just returned from the International Foundation for Gender Education's annual conference that was held at the Doubletree Hotel in Tucson, Arizona. A speaker on the very first day said "If you let it, this conference will change you." Even though this was my first conference, the skeptic in me heard a sales pitch being thrown. "Maybe some other people buy that stuff, but not me", I told myself.

Most of the conference is spent in workshops (the full list is here), but there were also three luncheons, three outings, and the Gala Banquet.

Three workshops really impacted me. The first workshop I attended was Pauline Park's "Making Diversity Real: Transgendered People of Color & the Transgender Movement". I didn't talk too much in this workshop, because I'm white, and I was there to listen and learn. As someone that focuses on diversity in a group setting, the workshop gave me some insight on how to make that happen without being condescending or engaging in tokenism.

The second workshop of note was Mariette Pathy Allen's "The Gender Frontier: From Mainland USA to Hawaii, Thailand, and New Zealand". Allen has been a professional photographer, writer and speaker on, and on behalf of, the TG community since 1978. Her workshop consisted of slides of her work over the years, along with a rolling commentary. It was really meaningful to me to see into a portal of the past, to those that have come before me. And as the slides and stories flew by, I was so engrossed, that I was jolted when one of those faces on the screen turned out to be someone I knew. After the workshop, I approached Allen and told her my story. She has such an engaging and personal spirit. She took me by the hand and said that she she had noticed me nodding in agreement with much of what she was saying. I was stunned by her powers of observation (especially in a low light environment). On reflection, I'm sure that her personal engagement and keen powers of observation are what make her such a powerful photographer.

I found Sam Allen's "No Skirt, No Heels, No Service?: Addressing FTM Participation & Inclusion In The Transgender Movement" to be one of the most educational workshops I've ever attended, transgender related or not. IFGE's workshop guide described it as:

"A candid discussion of topics including but not limited to FTM invisibility, where does 'passing' figure into the imbalance, gender roles & power dynamics, early socialization, barriers to transmen participation, and the responsibility of FTM transmen to 'step up and stand up'. Open to everyone. Bring your truth serum and a sense of humor. "

Allen's explanation of how socialization and language affects perception of others, was especially helpful for me (I had never been able to understand why I had been perceived as gay growing up, even though I was never feminine). I was impressed with how well Allen explained the dynamics without ever engaging in blaming or shaming others. Because my best friend is F2M, I thought that I'd be free from any of the behaviors or thoughts that cause F2M identified people to feel marginalized and silenced. Allen's nonthreatening way of communication allowed me to be able to examine my own thoughts and actions to see that I had engaged in some of the same kind of thinking and behavior.

Many new friendships were forged at the luncheon tables, but it wasn't just a time for socializing. The Diversity luncheon speakers included Amanda Simpson, Donna Rose, and Denise Leclair. Overall, the luncheons were an inspiring and unifying. The noted exception to this rule was Cheryl Ann Costa's acceptance speech at the Trinity Awards luncheon. Costa left more than one mouth agape, with her suggestions that F2M's go forth and "join the Rotary" or that transwomen should break from crossdressers and have their own conference. I started my transgender journey in November of 2000, but my time on the national advocacy scene has been limited. Going into the luncheon I had no idea who Costa was. I've learned since how much Costa has given to the community. I was told that this was her "retirement speech" from the community, and she saw the Trinity Award as her "gold watch." It's unfortunate for her that many people who attended (150 people at the conference were first time attendees) who might not know what Costa has done, will be left with the lasting impression of her as a negative train wreck.

While there were many distinctions in the population of the conference, I found that those distinctions were individual in nature. I had one crossdresser tell me that even though I was "a bit overweight" that she'd still "do" me. She also told me that women have more power than men. If I took her words as representative of the entire crossdressing community, even I would want some separation between the crossdressing and transsexual communities. Fortunately I also came into contact with wonderful crossdressers like Lena Dahlstrom. Lena was in many of of the same workshops I was. She was one of the few people (besides myself) in Sam Allen's workshop that wasn't F2M identified. The chasm between these two people really delineated the weakness in Costa's call for spitting off the community. You've probably heard it said that our strength is in our diversity, but I'd contend that our weaknesses of binary thinking, bigotry, and misogyny, are spread out among the different sections of the transgender community too.

I made personal connections at the conference that have and will continue to change my life. I've always enjoyed reading Joelle Ruby Ryan, but meeting her in person really heightened that appreciation. She's not only someone that I respect, but someone that I'd like to get to know more as a friend.The names that I've seen and heard for years became much more meaningful and dynamic. And I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about finally meeting Monica Helms and my stunning come from behind arm wrestling victory.

As much as I loathe to admit it, I was wrong. I let the conference in, and I was changed. I've I've returned to Indiana with a renewed spirit, with new friendships, and a renewed outlook on my activism and my life. Next year, look for me at the 2009 IFGE conference. I'll be the one saying "this conference will change your life, if you let it."

Cross posted from Transadvocate

Monday, April 07, 2008

Goddess Worship

The Times of India ran an interesting story about a crossdressing religious tradition:

They are about to take part in the Kottankulangara Sridevi temple festival. The ancient temple in Chavara, Kerala, has a unique tradition. On the last two days of the festival, regular men, common office-going professionals, dress up as women for the chamayavilakku (chamaya is make-up, vilakku is lamp). Bedecked with flowers, lamps in hand, they wait patiently till the wee hours of dawn for the goddess to bless them.

It's also become a gathering for "feminine men," or Kothis - which the article identifies as homosexuals and transvestites.

(Thanks to Veronica for the link.)

GenderVision Releases First Video Program, "Sex & Gender"

Now available: the first show of the long-awaited video program, "GenderVision." Produced and hosted by GenderTalk radio producers Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene MacKenzie, GenderVision continues the ground-breaking work of challenging and expanding our vision of gender and progressive politics. Cablecast in Beverly, it is also available for viewing and downloading at

This first program in the half-hour monthly show focuses on “Sex & Gender." Nancy and Gordene speak candidly with their guest, medical sociologist, author and intersex activist Esther Morris Leidolf, about bodies and gender that differs from cultural expectations. Esther observes that intersex is more common than cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome combined. Their lively conversation explores the “medical normalization” of intersex bodies and the dangers of simplistic assumptions about sex and gender. Fans of “Raving Raven,” an animal issues commentator and regular on GenderTalk radio, will also enjoy a brief appearance by the “Bird with the Word” (not included in cable version due to time restraints).

GenderVision is intended for multiple audiences, and will be an excellent teaching tool for educators, organizations and libraries interested in biological and cultural diversity, sex and gender and human rights. DVD’s will be available soon at

Included on the DVD, and available online, is Esther Morris Leidolf’s performance of her moving “Missing Vagina Monologue,” which takes you through the psycho-social, medical, and deeply personal aspects of being born with an intersex body that doesn't conform to cultural ‘norms.’

Gordene O. MacKenzie, longtime gender activist and author of “Transgender Nation”, serves as an associate professor and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Merrimack College. Nancy Nangeroni, a longtime transgender activist, founder of GenderTalk Radio, is a former executive director of the International Foundation for Gender Education and current co-chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition ( They are also life partners who have been working together on gender education and advocacy since 1998; they co-hosted the renowned GenderTalk radio program for over 9 years. They produce and co-host GenderVision, which is taped at BevCam cable access studio in Beverly, MA.

Inquiries from local cable access channels are welcomed; individuals are encouraged to request that their local cable channel show GenderVision. GenderVision is a production of Gender Education & Media, Inc, a Massachusetts-registered non-profit formed to support educational work promoting inclusive understanding of gender issues.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Another Kind of Trans Daddy

OK, so I'm in a bad mood. But it's not all me; just read this infuriating letter from the president of Verizon's GLBT employee group (GLOBE), in response to a posting by Autumn Sandeen.

Apparently, consulting with a transgender organization such as NCTE about adequate policy, instead of HRC or UUAC, is beyond the realm of possibility for GLOBE or Verizon. Instead, Mr. Perisie extends his benevolent oversight for our protections. Is he joking? Or just a Bush myopian? Absence of explicit protections is as inadequate for transgender persons as it once was for gay men.

Nobody's protection should not depend on the benevolence of any leader. It should exist in writing so that when rights are abridged, victims have access to the means for redress.


An open letter to Christian Siriano: Time to retire "hot tranny mess"

(Cross-posted from Bilerico.)

Dear Christian,

I hope you're enjoying your new-found, and well-earned celebrity. It was refreshing to see a "Project Runway" contestant who's actually as talented as they thought themselves to be. And if you're brash... well, that's part of being 21-years-old.

I saw that you recently retired "fierce," and -- as someone who's trans (I'm a crossdresser who also performs as a drag queen) -- I'd like to ask you to retire your other catch phrase: "hot tranny mess."

I realize you probably started saying it to be hip and edgy. Maybe you even meant it affectionately in a snarky sort of way -- although you clearly intend it to refer to something tacky and ugly. But think about it. If straight folks started using "hot faggot mess" as a put-down, I suspect you'd be a bit peeved. (BTW, did I mention how adorable you look when you're miffed...?). And yes, it is a put-down, just in the same way that "that's so gay" is an offhand put-down straight kids use to describe something lame. As if being gay or being trans is sucky and something one ought to be ashamed of.

Or to put it another way- somehow I doubt you'd even think about using "hot n-word mess," yes?

I also just wanted to let you know that your use of the word "tranny" is treading on insensitive ground. Yes, some of us trans people do use the word "tranny." But there's a difference when a term that's often been an epithet gets reclaimed by members of the stigmatized group as a way of saying "yeah I am a [insert derogatory term here], wanna make something of it" -- and quite another when someone outside that group decides to fling it around carelessly.

I realize you probably don't mean it as a slur -- which is why I haven't given you my "hot tranniest look" (yet...). But the thing is, usually when most of us trans people hear the term "tranny" it's said by someone taunting us, threatening to beat us up, or even kill us. (So far in the first three months of this year, three other gender variant or trans people besides Lawrence King have been killed in apparent hate crimes. But you rarely hear about them, 'cause after all, we're just "trannies" -- nobody worth giving a damn about.)

Since you weren't exactly the most straight-acting kid in the class, I'm willing to bet you had people call you "faggot" in similar circumstances, so you understand how hearing an epithet can hurt, even if the speaker didn't mean anything by it.

As a celebrity -- like it or not -- what you do and say does influence people. And from what I'm seeing, "hot tranny mess" is becoming the latest "ain't it cool" thing to say in certain circles. I'm sure you'd much rather be remembered for your stunning designs than for creating a catch phrase that thoughtlessly hurts others.

You helped start and it. You can help stop it. The next time you do a talk show, let people know that you're retiring "hot tranny mess," and why. If Leno can do that, so can you.

But if you really want to keep using the word "tranny," why not use it describe something worth admiring -- I've even got a new catch-phrase for you: "hot tranny fabuliciousness."

Yours in fabuliciousness,
Lena Dahlstrom aka Joie de Vivre

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Shell Game

The quoted paragraphs below appeared in Tuesday's Missisippi State University
Reflector. The title of the opinion piece, written by Lazarus Austin was: "Schools Overplay Gay Tolerance"

Mr. Austin,

Your recent post shows a significant lack of understanding of what forces were actually at work in this tragedy and, indeed, assumptions about the details of the case rather than known facts and educated opinions. It begins with your headline: "Schools Overplay Gay Tolerance".
That is a prejudicial headline which both misstates the school district's position and attempts to trump the actual details of the case by positioning it as a "gay tolerance" issue. The school district was not being "gay tolerant" with regard to Larry King. The school was being both tolerant and respectful towards an individual's right to freely express themselves without regard to arbitrary gender stereotypes. Whether or not Larry chose to self-identify as gay is irrelevant to how he expressed his gender identity. There are heterosexual students who identify in gender non-stereotypical ways. And from all existing evidence, it was Larry's feminine expression that escalated things to their violent outcome.

You wrote:
"In February, Lawrence King was shot to death at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, Calif. What sets his murder apart from others is that King was openly gay. He often flirted with his fellow male students and wore feminine apparel and accessories. His murder has brought onslaughts of paranoia and calls for tolerance by gay rights advocates."
Larry King self-identified as "gay"...which I suppose makes him as "openly gay" as any of the other students who were "openly straight". He did not, as you stated "often flirt with his fellow male students". That is your attempt to prejudice the reader against the victim. Larry, in response to bullying and teasing from larger and more aggressive boys responded with the only 'weapon' he had...his sense of humor and knowledge that he could make these macho boys nervous simply by acting interested in them.

You wrote:
"According to The Washington Post, gay rights advocates are claiming that King's murder is the "extreme consequence of a growing but often ignored phenomenon." The phenomenon they are referring to is homophobia."

There are many organizations (not just 'gay rights advocates') who believe that bullying based upon real or perceived sexual orientation is a growing and overlooked problem in not simply our schools, but our society as a whole. In reality, many of these organizations are themselves overlooking the core basis for this bullying and harassment. It's not truly based on sexual orientation, but rather on gender expression and gender non-conforming identity. THAT is why so-called "straight-acting" people are generally not victimized. it's not about who you are attracted's about how far from someone's arbitrary sense of gender appropriate behavior a child, youth or any individual wanders.
You wrote:
"As a result, they are calling for more tolerance education in schools and stricter anti-harassment rules. Many middle schools and high schools are opening gay and lesbian clubs for students. Other schools are openly teaching students about homosexuality at an early age, often at the frustration of parents."
In point of fact, long before the murder of Larry King school districts that are committed to a safe and supportive education for ALL students encouraged GSA's (Gay/Straight Alliances) and tolerance education for students, faculty and staff. Encouraging people to understand each other's differences is NOT the same as "teaching homosexuality at an early age." If it were possible to "teach" sexual orientation, then wouldn't it stand to reason that in a predominantly heterosexual world/culture that all of the children would be "taught" heterosexuality at an early age?
If the death of Larry King proves one thing, it's that children more often bully, abuse, harass and, yes, kill other children and youth who they have an unfounded fear or lack of understanding of. Keeping them in the dark about people's differences is NOT the solution to the animosity that exists between some hetero-centric families or religions and people who may be gay or gender non-conforming.

You wrote:
"Furthermore, schools are cracking down on bullying. They, of course, do not want bullies harassing people with a different religious belief, sexual preference, race or gender."
I assume you think this is a good idea...but I could be wrong.

You wrote:
"I have two problems with the controversy. First, people are blowing the situation out of proportion and automatically assuming King's murderer killed him simply because King was gay. This reminds me of how people love to cry racism when someone kills a person of a different race.

His alleged murderer, Brandon McInerney, 14, also an eighth-grader, had a rough upbringing. According to The Washington Post, McInerney's parents divorced in 2002. His mother dealt with drug issues, the father had been accused of shooting his mother in the elbow, both parents had filed restraining orders against the other and both had been accused of domestic violence. Supposedly, McInerney was a good kid in school, so the results of his upbringing are hard to judge. However, if you ask me, McInerney was probably a fuse ready to explode, and King's fraternization possibly sparked it, which brings me to my second point."
Mr. Austin...I'm not sure if it's even possible to blow the execution (with two shots to the back of the head) of a 15-year old in a classroom "out of proportion" for any reason...but there is much more than assumption behind Brandon's motivation for murdering Lawrence King. No one is 'crying homophobia' simply because the victim self-identified as gay. The district attorney, fellow students, faculty, staff and parents know that Larry was killed by Brandon as a result of his combination of gay self-identity and gender expression because the day before the shooting at least 10 students overheard Brandon McInerney specifically threaten Larry with a expletive-filled reference to his gay self-identity.
In your second paragraph above, you clearly contradict yourself. On the one hand you make a case for Brandon's rough upbringing, parental violence and drug issues, etc. and then you say "McInerney was a good kid in school, so the results of his upbringing are hard to judge". You then go on to throw out all of the information about his upbringing and other influences and assume McInerney was a "fuse ready to explode" and imply that "King's fraternization possibly sparked it".

What exactly do you mean by 'fraternization'? We find out what you meant in your second paragraph;
"By imposing his homosexuality on McInerney, he may have set McInerney off. McInerney may not have had an innate hatred of gay people. In fact, he may have tolerated homosexuality, while simultaneously thinking it was immoral, sinful or simply "uncool," like many people do. King, however, may have gone too far by imposing his sexuality on others. Although King by no means deserved his fate, he may have unfortunately invited it."

This paragraph peels away all pretense of serious analysis of what happened on your part. Larry King was approx. 5'5" tall, slight of build, quiet and, yes, feminine. Brandon McInerney was, at 14 years old, almost 6 feet tall, a talented basketball & football player, a black-belt in martial arts and a former member of The Young Marines JROTC type of organization. In what way might Larry have "imposed" his homosexuality on McInerney?

Did he pin him to the wall and force kisses on him? Did he throw him to the ground and have his way with him? Perhaps Larry "imposed his homosexuality" on Brandon the same way a rape victim "imposes her female sexuality" on a rapist?
You then go on to fabricate the thought that, perhaps, Brandon McInerney tolerated homosexuality but brought religious judgments to it. There is no evidence to that effect fact, quite the contrary. You then again blame the victim by saying Larry "went too far" and imposed his sexuality on others. All Larry did was say "I'm gay" and begin dressing in a more feminine fashion (which has NOTHING to do with his being gay, by the way.)

Are we at the point where what we choose to wear and how we choose to identify ourselves justifies violence against us by others who think we may have gone "too far"?
Larry did not "invite" anyone to shoot him twice in the back of the head in his morning classroom. If you can seriously entertain that idea, then you may be in need of the same counseling that I hope Brandon McInerney will receive in the coming weeks, months and years.
You wrote:
"Now, gay rights advocates would like to force their homosexuality on others and promote tolerance in schools. Doesn't sound so bad, does it? The problem lies in their methods. Many of them, by teaching tolerance, also teach values, whether intentionally or not.

The focus should be on targeting harassment, not tolerance per se. Promoting tolerance can instill in children's minds moral and religious values. Furthermore, it can make them think that homosexuality is the norm and, in my opinion, encourages them to be gay, which is OK but not something schools should be promoting. If at all, tolerance should formally be taught at the upper grade levels, starting at high school.

Some gay rights advocates would have homosexuals permeate society, from TV shows and films to teachers and bishops. I say just let people be gay, don't forcefully stick them in everybody's faces and in the limelight."

There are so many fallacies, prejudicial assumptions, convoluted thoughts and contradictory statements above that they actually speak for themselves. You want to 'talk tolerance' as a concept, but somehow also say "Now, don't be TOO tolerant, because tolerance leads to becoming that very thing you tolerate." You know...I tolerate arch-conservative, evangelical Christians, Muslims, Jews & Mormons and have done so for years without ever ONCE having considered becoming one myself.
You don't mind if there are gay people, so long as they stay hidden, ashamed, and out of your line of sight. Anything more than that is "forcefully sticking it in everyone's faces" and, by extension, "inviting" a violent fate at the hands of otherwise 'tolerant' people who might just be pushed too far. Sad.

You wrote:
"King sounds like he was a good kid, and what McInerney did was absolutely unjustifiable. However, some want to use King as a martyr for the wrong reasons. Gay people should and do have just as many rights as the rest of us, but no more. Minorities shouldn't get special privileges, only equal privileges. However, murderers, including those of gay people, should get a special privilege, the privilege of rotting their lives away in prison where they deserve to be."
It's nice that you include murdering gay people as a bad thing. Thank you. I hope that wasn't a 'big stretch' for you.
In reality, there are several rights that children like Larry King do NOT have, as evidenced by your own words. They do NOT have the right to self-identify their sexuality in a way that feels right to them, without possibly "inviting" a violent fate. Kids like Larry King (straight & gay) do not have the right to express their gender identity in a way that doesn't conform to someone else's stereotype of what is acceptable for a boy, or a girl or someone who might feel 'in-between' at some point in their life.

Larry King, in the absence of possessing the physical strength or size to physically defend himself from Brandon McInerney did not have the freedom to NOT choose violence as a response to his bullying (for Larry, a gun would have been a great equalizer, no?). Instead, Larry teased back....he refused to be driven into the shadows by those who bullied him. He used the very thing that made his abusers uncomfortable enough to tease him as a non-violent form of self-defense against them. Apparently, non-violence was not one of the rights afforded to Larry.
Brandon McInerney will probably, spend the most productive of his years behind bars. That apparently will suit your sense of justice. But in the end, Larry King is still large part because of the "tolerate, but only to a point" mixed message that you and people like you try to foist off onto the public as a reasoned approach to homosexuality and, more accurately, gender non-conforming expression.
You have blood on your soul, if not on your hands. I only hope you realize it in enough time to make a difference before it happens again.
Jenn Burleton
Portland, OR