Thursday, October 04, 2007
Jennifer Boylan read exerpts from her two acclaimed books "I'm Looking Through You" and "She's Not There" to a full room yesterday. The later, "She's Not There," is the first best-selling book by a transgender.
"It is impossible to hate anyone whose story you know," said Boylan, an English Professor at Colby College who visited the Rainbow Center Wednesday Afternoon.
After being introduced by the new director of the Rainbow Center, Fleurette King, Boylan began telling the crowd about a piece of legislation that is struggling to be passed. The new law would forbid employers from firing someone on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Before it was up for vote, it was thought that perhaps the bill would have a higher chance of passing if the gender identity section was taken out. When human rights activists heard about this, they were outraged. Boylan went on to say that the law is somewhat at a standstill,and will probably be vetoed by President Bush and is a perfect example of what the majority of America still thinks about transgender people or trans-identity as a whole.
Before Boylan began to read from her book "She's Not There," she gave a little background information on herself and her family. She is of Irish decent and as she read aloud excerpts of dialogue between herself and her father, she even took on a perfect Irish accent. Boylan grew up in a large house in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her parents and sister. The house, she said, was haunted, in "more than just the Scooby-Doo type of way."
She described hearing voices and cold spots in the house, otherwise known as haunted. The other ghosts she described as a part of her past.
Boylan began by reading the chapter about a time she stayed with her grandmother, whom she called Gammie, and her friend, while her parents were away watching her sister ride horses. At the time she was actually a male and only 12 years old. During that time period in her life, she was seriously trying to figure out what to do with the bad feelings about herself and the body she woke up in every morning. Boylan told the audience that she took the "Big Walk" while she stayed with her Gammie. The chapter described how she sat upon a rock next to the ocean and pondered her thoughts of feeling not quite like a boy, yet knowing she was not a boy. She questioned, how can I be something that is impossible for me to be? After watching the waves crash against the rocks for some time, she thought, "Maybe I can be cured by love, then perhaps I would still be content to be a boy." . . .
'The Justness of Our Cause'
Thursday, October 4, 2007; Page A24
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would send a strong message concerning discrimination against gays. The Sept. 28 editorial, "A Civil Rights Law," sent one as well: To gain our inalienable human rights, transgender people must first convince the public that we are human.
The Post's proposed solution, that transgender people embark on 40 years of educating the public, is naive at best and cynical at worst. We are so small in number and so easily ignored at negligible political cost. Every group that has fought for its civil rights has been a minority dependent on people outside the group to recognize the justness of its cause. Those who claim to believe in justice must recognize that you either believe in an egalitarian society open to all or in one where discrimination is a valid societal response, only requiring you to pick your targets carefully.
Montgomery Co. Council hears testimony on transgender bill
by Yusef Najafi
October 4, 2007
While presenting her testimony to the Montgomery County Council Tuesday, Oct. 2, against the passage of a bill that would protect transgender people by adding the words ''gender identity'' to the county's anti-discrimination policy, Dr. Ruth Jacobs, an infectious disease and allergy specialist, wore a white lab coat -- completing the look with a stethoscope around her neck. Looking like she had just walked off the set of Grey's Anatomy, Jacobs, the only person to offer testimony against the bill at the public hearing, warned that passage of Bill No. 23-07, sponsored by Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At Large), would discriminate against ''ex-transgenders.'' These are, she claims, people who have ''stepped out of'' being transgender.
Bandying the technical term ''gender identity disorder,'' a controversial diagnosis generally required in the United States before gender reassignment surgery may be performed, Jacobs asked the Council to ''be true to biology.''
Trachtenberg, who holds a master's degree in social work and once maintained a private practice in adolescent addiction, said she found Jacobs' testimony biased and lacking in merit because of Jacobs' lack of experience and training in dealing with the transgender community.
''As someone who is trained clinically to work with people in the area of mental health, what I would suggest to you is that there...are rare instances of where transgender status is identified as mental illness,'' Trachtenberg countered. ''Even if it was the case,...it would still be wrong to discriminate against an individual based on a medical condition.''
Maryanne Arnow, a professional chef who has lived in Montgomery County for the past 37 years, testified that, as a male-to-female transgender woman, she has found it difficult to find employment.
''This is very painful and difficult, especially in light of my talents and my desire to share those talents with others,'' she said.
Carrie Evans, policy director at Equality Maryland, said passage of the bill would protect people such as Arnow against discrimination in employment, housing and other public accommodations.
''In this measure, gender identity is defined as an individual's actual or perceived gender, including a person's physical appearance, expression, image, identity or behavior,'' she said. ''Whether or not those characteristics differ from the characteristics customarily associated with a person's assigned sex at birth.''
Lois Hackey, compliance program manager for Montgomery County's Office of Human Rights, spoke on behalf of Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, who also supports the bill.
Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland, said by passing such legislation, Montgomery County would join ''a growing national trend'' currently visible in 13 states and 90 local jurisdictions across the United States.
''Discrimination is happening in Montgomery County, as much as we'd like to pride ourselves in having a progressive jurisdiction,'' Furmansky told the Council. ''I hope we can all be able to agree that people should be able to live their lives free from discrimination and should be judged on the basis of their ability to do a job.''
The Council's Health and Human Services Committee is scheduled to take up the bill at its Oct. 15 meeting.