Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Venus of Mars clip: Venus' transgenderism develops

Pair hopes to start support group for transgendered

By Karen Shideler
McClatchy Newspapers
Originally posted on July 24, 2007

WICHITA, Kan. — Vanessa and Tom Webster are an unlikely family.

She is helping him with his health issues.

He is helping her become a woman.

Together, they're trying to start a group to help others dealing with transgender issues.

Their goal is to give people with gender dysphoria and their families, friends, life partners and professionals a place "where you can be yourself," Vanessa said.

'A very real condition'

It has taken years for Vanessa Webster to be herself.

Vanessa, 33, says she has known since she was 10 — and probably even earlier — that she was a female trapped in a male body.

People such as Vanessa are called transgendered. Some have had gender-changing surgery; others haven't. Being transgendered is not the same as being homosexual.

Wichita, Kan., physician Donna Sweet heard "a pretty good approach" to transgender issues at a recent talk on gender and sexuality:

"There are girl brains and boy brains, and there are girl (body) parts and boy parts, and sometimes they get mixed up," she said.

It happens in one in 11,900 males and one in 30,400 females, according to the Standards of Care of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. . . .

Understanding Transgender Issues: Donna Rose's Story

The term transgender refers to a broad range of people who experience and/or express their gender in different, sometimes non-traditional, ways. Transgender people often face challenges in coming out and living openly, particularly in the workplace.

Many people have questions about transgender issues. This training video for corporate leaders presents the compelling personal story of Donna Rose, a well-known author, speaker and advocate on transgender and transsexual issues. Rose is an active member of the Human Rights Campaign’s Board of Directors and Business Council. Her website, www.donnarose.com, is also a well-known source of information and support for and about the transgender community.

Watch the video online.

'Trans'-forming Corporate America

From General Motors to Google, more companies are agreeing to protect transgender people from discrimination. Fortune's Marc Gunther reports.

By Marc Gunther, Fortune senior writer
July 24 2007: 5:58 AM EDT

(Fortune Magazine) -- When David Rosen became Donna Rose, the people in charge of the human resources department at her company didn't know what to think. Nor did her colleagues.

David was a former wrestler, a husband and a dad. Donna was on her way to becoming a post-operative transsexual woman. This was 1999, and her employer, PCS Health Systems of Scottsdale, Arizona (now a unit of CVS Caremark (Charts, Fortune 500)), had never dealt with a transgender person

Nothing awful happened. Rose kept her job as a technology manager. But she didn't get asked out to lunch much, and she was left out of the office football pool. "It was obvious that they weren't comfortable around me," she says, "and I wasn't comfortable with them not being comfortable around me." Before long, she quit.

Lots has changed since then. Rose took a job at Dell (Charts, Fortune 500), where she worked happily for four years. She wrote a book about her experiences and made a DVD called "Understanding Transgender Issues" with Eastman Kodak and the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. Now she speaks to companies, including J.C. Penney, J.P. Morgan Chase and the America Online unit of Time Warner, about gender identity and diversity.

It's a safe bet that, even today, most Americans have probably never met a transgender person. Many don't know what the term means. But corporate America is learning, fast. . . .