Friday, November 7, 2008

Prop 8 in California - What Next?

Election Day is a few days past us now, and most are glad to have Obama as our President-Elect.

In California and nationwide, many are still sad that Prop 8 passed in California, as well as similar anti-gay marriage laws in Arizona and Florida, to pass constitutional bans for anti-gay marriages. Soon after the election, an article on explains that the surge in voting for these bans likely came from a large turnout of African-American voters who showed up to vote for Obama, but also greatly voted against same-sex marriages. It seems ironical that one population that has triumphed overcoming racial discrimination with our nation's first African-American president, still does not yet feel similar equality with another group of people facing similar discrimination challenges.

My friend Jennifer Donnelly this week wrote a nice article for - reminding us of all the great things about marriage - whether gay or straight.

Surely there will be continued debates and lawsuits about same-sex marriage in California and in other states. Facebook groups have already started gathering supporters to continue the challenge.

The dangerous and sad thing about banning same-sex marriage is that our legal system has given power to the majority to legalize discrimination. Eventually, this will go away when future generations become the majority and laws are redecided. Throughout history, we've gone through many cycles where new ways of thinking were declared heresy and against common law, and people being different were often persecuted, ostracized, and oppressed. Whether it was believing the earth not being the center of the universe, believing the sun not being the center of the universe, believing the earth to be round, treating people of color equally, treating people of different genders equally, treating people of different sexual orientation equally, etc. - people believing in these new ideas always suffered to pave the way for future generations.

What if the world applied the thinking of banning anti-gay marriages to other similar situations? Here's what might happen (written with a large dose of sarcasm and cynicism):

- Because (only) a man and woman are intended to marry to create a family, maybe we'll have laws or taxes on couples if they do not intend to have children. After all, a marriage is intended to create a family and children, right? That would be crime not to have children, if one person didn't want children and the other did. It would take one eligible person away from the potential parent pool - what a shame.

- Maybe we'll have laws or taxes on parents who cannot have children for medical reasons? If you can't have children, too bad. Survival of the fittest. Why enable people to have children via technology if they can't create children in the first place. Should a natural (meaning naturally capable?) man and woman who are unable to create a family be granted the right to be or stay married? (by wording of Prop 8 - those who not natural marriage candidates should have their marriage rights removed)

- Maybe adoption should no longer be allowed - against the law. If you can't have children yourself, too bad. Adopting children is not natural.

Maybe there will be new laws extending to other groups of people...

- Maybe someone will propose a law or constitutional amendment to say that the U.S. President cannot be a woman - because men have always been president, and that model has always worked in our history and we're used to it. So it doesn't make sense to have a woman as president because of her gender. The world would not be used to it.

- Maybe someone will propose a law or constitutional amendment to say that women should not be CEO's of companies or have the right to work as (name any position) in a company - because historically that was the standard for a LONG time, and let's go back to that standard.

- Maybe someone will propose a law or constitutional amendment to say that people of a certain race or color should be treated differently, because they are different - because the world was that way for a long time, and let's go back to that standard.

In a global world of diversity now, it's sad to see so many are still living in homogeneous communities and still unaware of diverse people, and hence still scared of people different than themselves, or the stereotypical accepted images and profiles that they're trying to live up to themselves but sometimes are not.

Still, progress is being made and the right model will come through eventually.
In 2000 California voters voted 61% to ban gay marriages.
This year in 2008 it was only 52% that voted the same way. This shows that many heterosexuals are now supporting the gay equality movement.
Maybe the next time we vote for the same issue, more will be thinking with an open mind.
Good luck to everyone for a more equal and understanding world.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Connecticut Allows Gay Marriage

Another history news day today, as the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that gay couples have the right to get married. Connecticut is now the 3rd state to allow same-sex marriages, after Massachusetts and California.

The AP news article quotes Gov. M. Jodi Rel as saying, "I do not believe their voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut," which is probably very true...

When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to free slaves, "Public opinion as a whole was against it." This always seems to be a common theme in our world history every time a new law or discovery comes around to improve human rights (support for gay rights), to reduce or end discrimination (anti-discrimination on race, color, etc.), or to set facts straight (stating the Earth NOT being in the center of the solar system or the universe). It seems that there's always a large group of people wanting to hang on to the traditional view at the expense of others, or their own fates, but eventually it gives way to a new truth down the line.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Another Restroom for Transgender People

A couple days ago, another news article appeared describing how the University of Manchester in England has renamed their restrooms from "Men" and "Women" to a more practical label - "toilets with urinals" and "toilets."

Although not quite elegant, this is another effort to address appropriate usage of restrooms for men, women, or transgendered people. Let the user decide.

Earlier this year another article appeared describing a Thailand secondary school designating a bathroom specifically for transgender people, labeling it the "transvestite toilet." This label in Thailand actually does not have a strong stigma as it does in the U.S., as transgender people in Thailand are quite common.

The bathroom issue still remains to be a large mental issue for most people - both traditional men and women and for transgender people. For transgender individuals going through a formal transition plan in a company with anti-discrimination policies on gender identity and/or gender expression, typically the bathroom usage policy guides the transitioning individual to use the appropriate restroom matching his/her new gender identity post-transition, to help the transition be successful and to help the individual be accepted in the newly assumed identity.

More examples of facilities usage by transgender people in company transition plans is well explained by Dr. Jillian T. Weiss, an expert on Transgender issues who addresses the topic in her blog, website, and book, Transgender Workplace Diversity: Policy Tools, Training Issues and Communication Strategies for HR and Legal Professionals.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Transgender Discrimination Victory over Library of Congress

Another post here, only a little belated this time.

A few days ago, a sex discrimination lawsuit in D.C. ruled in favor of the transgender individual, Diane Schroer, a retired a U.S. Army General as David, and recently was offered a job at the Library of Congress. When notifying the employer of her intent to transition, the new job was rescinded, for no practical reason other than gender discrimination.

This is an important victory against discrimination, not just on gender. It turns out that our U.S. Federal Government is still discriminatory to the LGBT community, unlike state governments which are gradually introducing more anti-discrimination laws, and corporations who are leading the country and worldwide working environments with anti-discriminatory policies and increasing instances of benefits support for the LGBT community.

Many, if not all, policies regarding the U.S. Federal Government, do not state or enforce any anti-discrimination policies for LGBT people. When LGBT people receive benefits from forward thinking corporate benefits plans, they are still taxed on the financial support as income. This is very different than benefits granted to traditional spouses. And this happens IF benefits are granted in the first place and not withheld due to exclusions to domestic partners or transgendered individuals, which still happens quite frequently.

I will be following this trend further as well.

2008 Out and Equal Workplace Summit

Still new to blogging here, so I haven't gotten into the habit of blogging immediately yet....

A couple weeks ago I attended the 2008 Out and Equal Workplace Summit in Austin, TX, and taught my workshop on Gender Virtualization to the conference audience of the LGBT community and Fortune 500 HR and Diversity professionals. The corporate professionals attend to study the latest LGBT issues and try to improve corporate policies and benefits to make a safer and more productive working environment for all of us.

Transgender was a popular topic at the Summit this year. My Gender Virtualization topic also seemed to resonate with the Transgender community quite well, as there does seem to be a very large population of MtF transgender people who are unable or not ready to undergo a complete transition to the opposite gender. Those remaining "in the middle" may still consider themselves transgender and may need some guidance and support to better understand themselves and to stay productive in their personal and professional lives.

I also found that once these individual discover themselves, as with most other LGBT members, a large burden is removed, the person is much happier, and we get a much more pleasant and productive person to be with in our personal and professional circles.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gender Virtualization

Yesterday I gave a presentation to the GLBT community at Intel of my current topic - Gender Virtualization - New perspectives and Frameworks on Crossdressing and Gender Identity - a new, upcoming, work-in-progress book. The basic hypothesis is that a transgender male can successfully live in a female identity in work and social environments without the need for surgical reassignment. Not intended to be the same as a Transsexual scenario, but the experience may be very similar. I am developing this topic further and plan to have this book published later this year.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

2008 Google Annual Stockholders Meeting

Living here in Silicon Valley, I had the fortunate opportunity to attend Google's annual stockholders meeting today.
Lunch for the stockholders in Charlie's Cafe was fantastic as you would guess.
Nice review of Google's strong position and directions by CEO Eric Schmidt.
Lots of questions and discussion from the audience on Google's efforts to deliver tools in China to balance preserving freedom of information, and at the same time meeting the government's requirements on restricted information when necessary.
I also asked a question about their priorities between revenue growth in China and maintaining Google's principles of information freedom, a strong paradox in that country.
Visit the website to hear the podcast of Eric, Sergey, and Larry discuss Google's position on these issues.
I have to say Google is very smart in doing the right thing, and it clearly shows in the great products and services.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Restaurant / Club - AsiaSF

News today about one of my favorite restaurant / clubs in San Francisco, AsiaSF, is opening a second location in Hollywood this fall. This club features gender illusionists who not only serve customers, but also perform on the catwalk and get up close to the clientele to discuss and de-mystify some of the common misperceptions about transgendered people.

This club not only has great atmosphere and extremely gorgeous and talented staff, but surprisingly sophisticated cuisine and drinks too. A very comfortable and cheerful atmosphere, this club is a great place to go to be entertained by the ultimate in beauty, and especially if you have an open mind willing to be expanded even further.

If anyone is in the SF area and would like some company to check out AsiaSF, let me know and I'll be glad to take you.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Here's a good recent news article:

Transgender Rights Run Into Bathroom Politics
Run Date: 04/28/08
By Shanelle MatthewsWeNews correspondent
A county ordinance in Maryland that protects transgender rights is facing a public referendum challenge in November. One transgender advocate says it looks like a test case for national opposition to the antidiscrimination push.

This article brings transgender cases more into the open, and discusses what may be considered appropriate public restroom use.
I think the concern for safety is valid. But if people are using restrooms appropriately, does it matter what body parts are under the clothes, or inside the stalls? How does one really know, or should people really know?