Friday, December 15, 2006

N.J. outlaws gender-based discrimination

Written by National Center for Transgender Equality; Empire State Pride Agenda
Friday, 15 December 2006

New Jersey has made a historic stride forward in protecting the civil rights of transgender people. New Jersey’s Senate passed bill S362 on Monday, Dec. 11, by a vote of 31-5. The Assembly version, A930, passed New Jersey’s lower house by a vote of 69-5, now goes to Governor Jon S. Corzine, who is expected to sign the bill into law. Once signed, New Jersey will become the ninth state in the country to make discriminatory practices based on gender identity or expression illegal. New Jersey joins California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico and Rhode Island in legislating statewide transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. These state-level laws in addition similar transgender-inclusive protections in the District of Columbia and in over 80 cities and counties now protect one-third of the US population based on gender identity or expression.

“The legislation in New Jersey represents a huge civil rights victory for transgender communities,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). “I applaud the amazing efforts of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ), Garden State Equality and local advocates who showed that when we stand up for what’s right, we can win. While we celebrate that one-third of the US population is now covered, NCTE is continues to fight for explicitly transgender-inclusive protections on the federal level.”

New Jersey’s new law prohibits discriminatory practices in employment, housing and public accommodations based on “gender identity or expression” — the legislative language that covers transgender people. Too often transgender people face harassment and discrimination on the job or when applying for employment; when attempting to secure housing through rental properties or real estate; and in accessing everyday public accommodations, such as hospitals, schools, shops, hotels, restaurants and theaters.

“We are tremendously pleased to see this bill go to Governor Corzine for his consideration,” said Barbra Casbar, political director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) and National Center for Transgender Equality Board of Advisors member. “GRAANJ and our allies have worked very hard to educate the public and policymakers on the critical importance of making protections for transgender New Jersians explicit in our state’s law. The vastly positive vote for the legislation proves conclusively that effective education will tear down the walls of ignorance and discrimination”

“The overwhelming support of our Legislature shows that New Jersey’s elected officials recognize the need for civil rights protections for all of their constituents,” said Donna Cartwright, a founding member of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) and member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or expression is common-sense given the level of prejudice that transgender people face at work, in securing housing and accessing vital public accommodations such as hospitals.”

In June 2006, the National Center for Transgender Equality held its first national Target States Conference to provide legislative advocacy training to support local efforts in New Jersey and in eight other states where anti-discrimination laws included “sexual orientation” but not yet “gender identity or expression.” GRAANJ’s Barbra Casbar and Terry McCorkell were among the activists who attended NCTE’s Target States Conference. “We are ecstatic,” said GRAANJ Co-Founder Terry McCorkell. “The people of New Jersey have historically been stalwart champions of justice and equality. Today we demonstrate to the nation that New Jersey is second to none in guaranteeing fair treatment under the law for all people in the Garden State.”

Recognizing the need to curb rampant discrimination against transgender people, currently eight states, the District of Columbia and 80+ cities and counties across the country have now passed explicitly transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination laws.

Upon Governor Corzine’s signature, New Jersey will become the ninth state with inclusive anti-discrimination laws. These laws currently cover 33.5-percent, or one-third, of the US population.Earlier this week, the town of Rhinebeck in Dutchess County, New York passed a law ending discrimination based upon gender identity and expression, becoming at least the eighth locality in New York to do so. In response to both developments, Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle said, “New Jersey and Rhinebeck both understand what eight other states, seven other New York localities and scores of companies already understand: that it makes no sense to discriminate against someone because of the way they express their masculinity or femininity.”

“American Express gets it, IBM gets it, Pfizer gets it and now New Jersey and Rhinebeck get it,” said Van Capelle. “Why doesn’t the state of New York get it? While 53 percent of New Yorkers now live under a local ordinance protecting them from discrimination based on gender identity and expression, the rest of New York needs the state legislature to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) so that no transgender person can be fired from their job or kicked out of their home simply because of who they are.

“It’s time for the New York State Legislature to act. It’s time to pass a law that says it’s wrong to discriminate against transgender people,” said Van Capelle.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Murders of Gender Non-Conforming Youth

Murders of Gender Non-Conforming Youth Documented in New Report, December 14, 2006
OIA Newswire Mike Williams WASHINGTON, D.C. -–

Over the past 10 years, more than 50 young people aged 30 and under were violently murdered by assailants who targeted them because they did not fit stereotypes for masculinity or femininity. The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) today released the groundbreaking human rights report "50 Under 30: Masculinity and the War on America's Youth" documenting this tide of murderous violence and the key demographics of its victims and their assailants.

The report reveals a unique vulnerability at the intersection of age, race, and gender non- conformity that makes a fatal assault exponentially more likely. "While many youth who don't fit gender stereotypes for masculinity or femininity face harassment or bullying, when it comes to gender-based murder the victims are specific and consistent," said Riki Wilchins, GenderPAC Executive Director. "These victims tended to share the same characteristics: they were mostly Black or Latina, were biologically male and presenting with some degree of femininity, and were killed by other young males in attacks of extraordinary and often multiple acts of violence," added Wilchins.

The report has spurred a new coalition of civil and human rights organizations including Amnesty International (USA), Global Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, National Organization for Women, International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, Safe Schools Coalition, National Education Association's Health Information Network and the US Human Rights Network. These organizations are joining together in educating the public and calling upon policy-makers and law enforcement officials to address the underlying cause of gender-based violence."

Aggression and violence have become acceptable ways of policing gender performance and punishing the transgression of gender boundaries in American culture. These deaths were often the result of young men using lethal violence to enforce standards of masculinity on other young males who didn't meet cultural expectations of masculinity - especially when they were transgender or gay," said Dr. Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology at Stony Brook University and author who has received international recognition for his work on men and masculinity.

In recognition of December 10 International Human Rights Day, the report will be distributed to more than 100 governmental and non-governmental agencies focused on human and civil rights, and a copy is being formally presented to the Organization for American State's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of which the United States is a member. The IACHR investigates human rights abuses in the North and South America.

Murders that were classified as hate crimes were solved nearly one-and-a-half times more often than those that were not; yet 72% of the cases in the report were not so classified, although most suffered extremely violent deaths combining stabbing, beating, strangling and shooting. 54% of the deaths remain unsolved, as compared with 31% for all homicides nationally.

The annual FBI's Hate Crimes Statistics report documents assaults motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability. While it does not track murders based on victim's gender identity or expression, if it did, the murders in this report would outweigh every other category except race.

"We must stand together and do whatever it takes to stop this kind of hate on our children. There is no word for the grief a mother has to endure. As Solomon said, 'Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are,'" shared Queen Washington, mother of Stephanie Thomas (19), of Washington D.C. who was murdered in 2002.

The report is available online at to assist reporters and policy-makers in identifying victims from their regions. A press conference will be held at 10am today at the National Press Club and will feature, Riki Wilchins; Queen Washington; Brett A. Parson, Sergeant, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU); and Mark K. Bromley, Director of External Relations and Policy for Global Rights.

About GenderPAC:The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) works to ensure that classrooms, communities, and workplaces are safe places for every person regardless of whether they fit stereotypes for masculinity and femininity. For more information visit [12/13/06]© 1997-2005 Ethan Interactive, Inc.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Vive la Deviance!

Recently I read of an incident that is tragic, but in many way, in my opinion at least, is very illustrative of what is wrong with the contemporary American male gender role, particularly in its southern variant. The episode occurred in Lexington, SC following the University of South Carolina's recent defeat of archrival Clemson University in their annual gridiron showdown.

Two friends--let's call them Junior and Bud--got together for an all-American day of red blooded guy fun. The morning involved deer hunting and the afternoon was spent in pre-game preparations, mainly drinking beer. At gametime, Junior--a die hard USC fan who never attended the school--and his buddy Bud--an equally fanatic Clemson backer, made a $20 wager on the outcome. And they settled in to view the gridiron classic in the comfort of Bud's abode.

The hard fought game resulted in USC's 31-28 victory which prompted Junior to request Bud to pay his debt. Bud refused craftily arguing that since his beloved Clemson Tigers shouldn't have lost, that he was not obligated to pay. Enraged at the slight to his honor and Bud's blatant violation of the sacred beer sotten ballgame betting ethos, Junior stormed out to his Chevy Corsica (one of the finer off road big game hunting sedans) to bring some firepower (his deer hunting rifle) to bear on the situation. At this juncture, Bud made a critical miscalculation with an ultimately fatal attempt at humor when he replied "you can't shoot me, I'm invisible" (no word on whether or not he said this with his eyes closed). Thus further humiliated, Junior cleverly retorted "No you're not!" punctuated by the blast of the deer rifle at close range.

Result: one husband, father and friend dead; another facing murder charges over a $20 football bet and sullied honor.

I didn't make this up; it happened. So why bother repeating this sad tale? It has all the elements of the stereotypical American (or at least southern) male gender role--honor, toughness, pride, camaraderie, individuality, pride, competitiveness and violence, drunkenness, guns, greed and an emphasis on action rather than reason. And crossdressing is considered a deviant behavior that threatens the foundations of our way of life? If the behavior of Bud and Junior is the logical result of "normal" behavior, I'm proud to be a deviant by those standards.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Where's the Line?

One of our dear sisters the other night raised the controversial topics of trans autoerotica and narcissism, so maybe it's a good time to delve into these issues. Narcissism often manifests when an individual tries too hard to convince themself of their worth, because they do not feel that way naturally. In the case of a translady, narcissism can also be symptomatic of good old fashion Gender Euphoria... sheer joy overflowing from an inner wellspring that has been pent up so long. People in a state of gender euphoria tend to be a bit (or a lot) self-absorbed, so overwhelmed with delight and enchanted by their own girlish appearance, that nothing else seems to matter to them.

Autoerotica occurs when sexual fulfillment is sought through solitary fantasy role play. I must ask, what is so dirty or wrong about that? How many people have erotic enjoyments on their own? Probably the majority of creative, verile human beings are autoerotic to some extent. Those who attempt to pathologize transgenderism tell us autoerotica is unhealthy, in the same way our grandparent's generation claimed masturbation is a sin.

I believe the main divisions in the community stem from the treatment of these two issues. There are those on the one side, who go en femme in pursuit of good feelings and pleasure, who wholeheartedly embrace and publicly display both autoerotica and narcissism, thus promoting the negative stereotype. Then there are those on the other side, who go en femme because it is who they are inside, and they are left to cope with the negative stereotypes created by the other side. Unfortunately these two groups have conflicting objectives: one side wants all the attention it can get, the other side wishes to blend in without fanfare.

I say there's nothing wrong with autoerotica, even a touch of narcissism isn't so bad, so long as these characteristics are enjoyed in a balanced way that is mindful of the greater good of the community. What do you think? The question is, where's the line?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Historic First Win for Openly Transgender Candidate in Hawaii

November 8, 2006

Kim Coco Iwamoto Wins State-Level Board of Education Seat
Iwamoto is the First Openly Transgender Person Elected to a
State-Level Office in the US

(Washington, DC) — Yesterday's mid-term elections marked a historic first in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) movement for equality and civic engagement. With a comfortable victory garnering 81,532 votes, attorney Kim Coco Iwamoto was elected to Hawaii's state-level Board of Education (Oahu-at-Large), a non-partisan office. Ms. Iwamoto, an openly transgender woman, is a member of the National Center for Transgender Equality's (NCTE) Board of Advisors. Iwamoto holds a Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law, is a volunteer guardian ad litem for the First Circuit Family Court, and is a frequent speaker at high schools and colleges on civil rights issues and community service.

"This is a truly historic win and marks an important first in the American political landscape, said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Kim Coco Iwamoto is an outstanding individual with a long history of pro bono legal work and volunteerism benefiting her home state. She will serve the people of Hawaii well."

There are currently only a limited number of openly transgender elected officials serving in the US and around the world. In the United States, Michelle Bruce serves on the City Council in Riverdale, GA and Jessica Orsini serves as an Alderman in Centralia, MO. There are also dozens of other openly transgender appointed public officials across the U.S. New Zealand's Georgina Beyer has served in Parliament since 1999; Aya Kamikawa was elected as a municipal official in Tokyo, Japan; Vladimir Luxuria was recently elected to Italy's Parliament.
As public education efforts aimed at ending misconceptions and prejudice against transgender individuals advance, more and more transgender people feel safe and comfortable living their lives openly. Concerned with the betterment of the country's economy, educational system, health care and security, candidates who also happen to be transgender are running for—and winning—political office.

To read more about Board of Education Member, Oahu-At-Large, Kim Coco Iwamoto, please visit her campaign Web site at

National Center for Transgender Equality
phone: 202-903-0112

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Entrance of DJ MsDD

Yes tis true. DJ MsDD is now making her entrance into the beautiful universe of Gender Evolve. A media personality, such as I am (thanks to the webcast medium and to the Boston PHOENIX, my hosts), has a professional obligation to make a splashy entrance; this is mine. Please enjoy...

The link I've provided is to my MySpace page. There you'll find THA MUZIK that keeps me radiant and a large number of friends of MOI. Just about all of us belong to HOUSE NATION, dedicated to the workd wide house music movement. It's a club moment, is house; as DJ Rooster & Peralta's song "Pornokopia" puts it, "...stsarts to rock at a club about twelve o'clock." We work the graveyard shift! In the deep dark we shine with a dusky sexy light, we house music people. Many of us are trannys -- have been ever since house music began, in Chicago in the 1980s, very much as a gay Black male's thing (though always with a significant cast of gorgeous GG's, mostly Black too). Even now, 20 years later, the constant core of House Nation is gay guys, trannys, and gorgeous dance-crazy gals. And THA MUZIK, soulful, throbbing, sweaty, dark, and deep. Spiritual, body & soul.

There, on the dance floors where "pornokopia rocks" -- "pornokopia's not dirty, it's just a time when girls get flirty" you'll find us. And find MOI. Wearing my usual: heels, jeans, BabYphat tank top and baseball cap. It's my signature -- and a very DJ signature it is. No house music DJ would DREAM of spinning without wearing his or her baseball cap. Visor forward, too, unlike in hip hop where folks wear their visors backward. Thats because house is a forward music, an optimistic, glad music. We're glad to be here, glad to be dancing, glad just to BE. In THA MUZIK we celebrate our BE-ing and the BE-ing of all who dance on the floor with us.

I understand that the tranny world of DJ MsDD is way different from that of most of my GenderEvolve girlfriends. And different from the experiences of most TG people. In seven years as a trannyt on the 'net, I've met hundreds & hundreds of TG sisters, almost all of whom come from the same mainstream, middle-America environs that most Americans live in. I have found myself way apart from that mainstream. I'm an urban chic from an urban background; I'm a second generation "inkhorn" (i.e., newspaperwoman, as was my Mom) at an urban newspaper; I'm a music person in an idiom as outside the box as music can get, music whose antecedents played in New Orleans brothels and juke joints in Storyville and which continues to play in venues with a tainted reputation. So be it. Those taints are my tranny support system. In our venues we outside-the-box people sustain one another, just as our antecedents did 90 years ago in New Orleans where & when jazz was born. Jazz then was a music of pimps, whores, trannys, gamblers, players, outlaws of all kinds. House music's scene isn't quite THAT devilish, but we sure won't win any awards for Leaguie of Women Voters uprightness, will we? As I said before, our apartness is our support system, each for each. Being ac tranny in the house music scene is simply one way -- my way too -- of saying "Yes, I belong; I'm just like you" to all the rest of House Nation.

So there it is, and here am I. Ambassador to GenderEvolve from House Nation. I'm here to embrace all of my GE sisters -- and to coax you into the dark, deep, over and outside the box world of House Nation -- and its music. I come to you with LOVE and "BIG RESPECT," as we citizens of H.N. say to each other by way of greeting.

xoxoxo >>>> DJ MsDD / Boston Phoenix New Media

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gender Recognition Act gives transsexuals early access to pensions
09 November 2006 13:13
This article first appeared in Personnel Today magazine.

Some 122 transsexuals in the U.K are set to cash in five years early on state pensions after being classified as women under the Gender Recognition Act.

The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed yesterday that the transsexuals, who were formerly men, had been granted pensions after being officially recognised as women since April 2005 when the Gender Recognition Act was implemented.

They will now qualify for a state pension at the age of 60 rather than 65, receiving almost £22,000 in additional pension funds.

Men who changed gender before the Act was introduced and are now over the age of 65 will not be eligible for backdated pension payments.

More than 1,500 transsexuals have been certified as women under the new Gender Recognition Panel, which requires evidence from a doctor or psychologist, over the past 18 months.

Georgina Fuller
Thursday, 09 November 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are: Counseling the Closeted

The cry of the childhood game of Hide 'n Seek could well be the motto of modern transgendria. You need to be OUT in order to further the community and being in the closet means you are fearful and ashamed. Only by being public and loud and proud can we throw off societal shackles and loose the chains of oppression. So don't let others do your part, sisters, join the crusade. The closet's for hangin' clothes not for hidin' souls! Say AMEN, sister!
Well, ummm, maybe. I agree that if TGs of all varieties simply hid everything about their identities we would remain forever downtrodden. But that's just obvious on the face of it. What the aforementioned--and fairly common--attitude neglects is the very personal and subjective nature of "coming out." The difficulty factor isn't the same for everyone due to differing circumstances and the fact that the need to be "out" differs depending on individual goals, hopes and dreams.
Now if you seek to be full time, well, you don't have a choice. You'll have to come out pretty much to everyone sooner or later. But what about the ambigendered (my term for us part-timers)? Are we really only in the closet because of fear, shame and sloth? I admit they are factors, but they aren't the full story.
Location makes a big difference. Living in a rural area limits one's options and increases challenges. For example, coming out in a small town increases the chances that the news will spread uncontrollably to virtually everyone. And obviously, any objective person would admit that some geographic areas are simply more tolerant than others.
And coming out doesn't just involve the TG's fears, particularly if they haves wives and/or children. If the wife has concerns (and face it, most do) about her husband crossdressing in public, then the TG has to decide whose issues get neglected and to what degree. There isn't a quick fix answer to this, but it certainly isn't helpful to simply suggest that coming out is nothing more than a matter of overcoming one's own fears. A married TG who wants to go out usually would prefer to come back in (at home), too, without too much damage to his family.
I'm trying not to be too critical with this as I think it is important for those who are out to encourage those who aren't. I agree that being out is a valuable experience both individually and communally, but the encouragement of this act of passage needs to be constructively presented. Any counseling will be most positively received if it includes assistance on helping the individual address marital and family issues, too. Indeed encouraging individuals to rush the process seems destructive and likely only to encourage the stereotypical view of us (i.e. that we are self-centered and obsessive).
Instead of sermons on getting over it and getting out, wouldn't it be a greater contribution to burnishing our public image if we all offered advice on how to leave the closet with consideration, grace and dignity?

Monday, November 06, 2006

N.Y. Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice

New York Times, November 7, 2006
N.Y. Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice

Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate even if they have not had sex-change surgery.

Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent.

Applicants would have to have changed their name and shown that they had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years, but there would be no explicit medical requirements.

"Surgery versus nonsurgery can be arbitrary," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner. "Somebody with a beard may have had breast-implant surgery. It’s the permanence of the transition that matters most."

If approved, the new rule would put New York at the forefront of efforts to redefine gender. A handful of states do not require surgery for such birth certificate changes, but in some of those cases patients are still not allowed to make the change without showing a physiological shift to the opposite gender.

In New York, the proposed change comes after four years of discussion among health officials, an eight-member panel of transgender experts and vital records offices nationwide. It is an outgrowth of the transgender community’s push to recognize that some people may not have money to get a sex-change operation, while others may not feel the need to undergo the procedure and are simply defining themselves as members of the opposite sex. While it may be a radical notion elsewhere, New York City has often tolerated such blurring of the lines of gender identity.

And the proposal reflects how the transgender movement has become politically potent beyond its small numbers, having roots in the muscular politics of the city’s gay rights movement.

Transgender advocates consider the New York proposal an overdue bulwark against discrimination that recognizes an emerging shift away from viewing gender as simply the sum of one’s physical parts. But some psychiatrists and doctors are skeptical of the move, saying sexual self-definition should stop at rewriting medical history.

"They should not change the sex at birth, which is a factual record," said Dr. Arthur Zitrin, a Midtown psychiatrist who was on the panel of transgender experts convened by the city. "If they wanted to change the gender for all the compelling reasons that they’ve given, it should be done perhaps with an asterisk."

The change would lead to many intriguing questions: For example, would a man who becomes a woman be able to marry another man? (Probably.) Would an adoption agency be able to uncover the original sex of a proposed parent? (Not without a court order.) Would a woman who becomes a man be able to fight in combat, or play in the National Football League? (These areas have yet to be explored.)

The Board of Health, which weighs recommendations drafted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is scheduled to vote on the proposal in December, and officials say they expect it to be adopted.

At the final public hearing for the birth certificate proposal last week, a string of advocates and transsexuals suggested that common definitions of gender, especially its reliance on medical assessments, should be abandoned. They generally praised the city for revisiting its 25-year-old policy that lets people remove the sex designation from their birth certificate if they have had sexual reassignment surgery. Then they demanded more freedom to choose.

Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said transgender people should not have to rely on affidavits from a health care system that tends to be biased against them. He said that many transgender people cannot afford sex-change surgery or therapy, and often do not consider it necessary.

Another person who testified, Mariah Lopez, 21, said she wanted a new birth certificate to prevent confusion, and to keep teachers, police officers and other authority figures from embarrassing her in public or accusing her of identity theft.

A few weeks ago, at a welfare office in Queens, Ms. Lopez said she included a note with her application for public assistance asking that she be referred to as Ms. when her turn for an interview came up. It did not work. The woman handling her case repeatedly addressed her as Mister.

"The thing is, I don’t even remember what it’s like to be a boy," Ms. Lopez said, adding that she received a diagnosis of transgender identity disorder at age 6. She asked to be identified as a woman for this article.

The eight experts who addressed the birth certificate issue strongly recommended that the change be made, for the practical reasons Ms. Lopez identified. For public health studies, people who have changed their gender would be counted according to their sex at birth.

But some psychiatrists said that eliminating identification difficulties for some transgender people also opened the door to unwelcome advances from imposters.

"I’ve already heard of a 'transgendered' man who claimed at work to be 'a woman in a man's body but a lesbian' and who had to be expelled from the ladies' restroom because he was propositioning women there," Dr. Paul McHugh, a member of the President's Council of Bioethics and chairman of the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in an e-mail message on the subject. "He saw this as a great injustice in that his behavior was justified in his mind by the idea that the categories he claimed for himself were all 'official' and had legal rights attached to them."

The move to ease the requirements for altering one’s gender identity comes after New York has adopted other measures aimed at blurring the lines of gender identification. For instance, a new shelter policy approved in January now allows beds to be distributed according to appearance, applying equally to postoperative transsexuals, cross-dressers and "persons perceived to be androgynous."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority also agreed last month to let people define their own gender when deciding whether to use the men’s or women’s bathrooms.

Joann Prinzivalli, 52, a lawyer for the New York Transgender Rights Organization, a man who has lived as a woman since 2000, without surgery, said the changes amount to progress, a move away from American culture’s misguided fixation on genitals as the basis for one’s gender identity.

"It’s based on an arbitrary distinction that says there are two and only two sexes," she said. "In reality the diversity of nature is such that there are more than just two, and people who seem to belong to one of the designated sexes may really belong to the other."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Needful Beings

Allowing yourself to feel needful of your partner is simply an honest admission of your own fallability without becoming victim to it. While it is healthy to maintain a sense of personal independence, in this incarnation it is beneficial to allow one's self the company of another with whom they are compatible, not only physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. The secret is not perfect compatibility, but complimentary natures and perspectives.

Agreement in the essentials, not the details, is key. Those details which make up one's personal perspective on life's many complexities can actually become hindrances to communication within an intimate relationship, with the exception of a specifically agreed upon sharing, by the couple, of those details. In this particular instance it helps the couple to clarify and share those details within a open and non-judgemental environment they've established.

But, typically, on the emotional level, minor emotional inconsistencies do not need to be addressed at every turn, lest the overwhelming number of daily emotional adjustments create the illusion that the relationship is in turmoil. In fact, learning to navigate through the relative emotional minefield of an intimate relationship/partnership is a healthy habit to integrate, and will give each partner the ability to determine when the issue is truly something that needs to be addressed and when it just needs to be allowed it's time to play through. It is also beneficial in being able to determine when both partners are in syncronicity. This becomes very important in the sexual arena as well, since both must be able to express fully their desire for each other without inhibition.

The need for a single human being to communicate with another on an intimate level is often pervasive; yet, the human mind is infinitely complex in it's ability to compensate for such things as loneliness, pain, rejection, fear and other negative emotional responses which can derive from lost or poorly developed past relationships. Often times the building of emotional walls feels like the best solution against further harm, and the life one builds over time sheltered behind these barriers is solidified in the rationale for their continued existence.

Unfortunately, these same walls serve as a sometimes impenetrable defense against the intrusion of another in one's life, even when overtures are made of opening up to the other person. Unlike the physical walls we build around property, though, the walls we build within are living, emotional entities, parasitic by nature, yet capable of communication with their creator...the one who harbors them. They wish to exist as much as you or I, and will fight to maintain their place of importance, even to the eventual detriment of the person in which they reside.

The longer one maintains these defenses - insisting upon a life of singularity and solitary independence while opening intermittently to release the innate emotional desire for the company of another, but shutting the doors soon after such needs are satisfied - the more difficult it becomes for that person to progress into a committed relationship with another person.

Very few are willing, or equipped, for that matter, to attempt to navigate the difficulties presented by the walls which exist in their prospective partner. No matter how much love may have developed between the couple, the one who is so guarded will be inherently difficult to accommodate during the course of the developing relationship. The level of independence can be so high that the other partner will, no doubt, feel insignificant in the eyes of the one they love and begin to lose perspective on their role in the relationship itself.

It is imperative that the partner who is attempting to accommodate this behavior be self-contained. By this, I mean that they must be of the mind that their happiness cannot be dependent on such factors as the well-being of the relationship, the attention level of their partner, or any amount of satisfaction they are recieving within that same context. Their happiness must derive from within themselves in order to maintain stability in their own heart.

It is in this arena that the idea of need is most often misconstrued. Just as the "independent" partner often feels as if needing someone is an admission of personal weakness, so the stable partner is often stifled from expressing their need for fear of being percieved by their partner as someone who is co-dependent.

In truth, real, honest need is expressed in the understanding that a partner can be a grounding factor in one's life. They are a positive emotional outlet, a complimentary voice to your own, an honest opinion, a furtherance of your own perspective, and a source of light and hope during the difficult times we all face from time to time. They enhance our identity without becoming the sole expression of it; challenge us to grow beyond our singular experiential perspectives; offer us an often much needed sense of belonging.

~Alysyn Ayrica

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Rainbow Between

A dear transgender friend confided in me about steps she is taking to become more feminine in appearance, including a planned first visit to the doctor to inquire about hormone therapy. She asked my opinion whether it's ok to be on female hormones without knowing for sure whether to live full time as a woman. Here's what I told her, plus a bit more...

While no one but you can say what's right for you, I think being true to yourself is step #1. Not everyone else will agree with your decisions, yet you are the only person who must live within your skin, so you are the only person who can decide what makes you happy. Don't let anyone tell you this is selfish, because it's not. Once you are happy within yourself, you will overflow with positive energy which benefits everyone else around you. As the happiest person you can be, you will bring forth joy and harmony to others.

My opinion is that gender is not binary, not just male OR female. The rainbow in-between the two gender polarities is a beautiful space. Some people are truly and happily male AND female, ie: bi-gendered, ambi-gendered, gender gifted, transgenderist. I do not believe it is manditory to choose one gender or the other. Hence, my opinion is that changing aspects of yourself to be more feminine, while still keeping your male identity in-tact, is perfectly ok. Some people enjoy walking the gender line, openly exhibiting the "best of both worlds". What a blessing, to enjoy the benefits of experiencing both genders.

I don't feel that you must be moving in any direction, transitioning "to" one gender or "away from" the other. I think it's ok to just BE who you are, living in this moment, without needing to plan in advance exactly who you will be in 2 years from now. If permanent full time woman is right for you, great! If you prefer to embody a combination of both genders, great! If you want to remain just as you are, and change nothing, great! The only person who has to live happily in your skin darling, is you.All this being said, unfortunately this is only my opinion, and I'm not a doctor. As it stands, the medical community still views gender from a binary perspective.

According to Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, which is widely followed as the medical protocal for treating trans people, there are several criteria for a genetic male to be "permitted" to receive medical assistance to become more feminine in appearance. I am afraid if you tell the doctors you are unsure whether you want to live full time as a woman, they may not prescribe hormones to you or facilitate a "partial" transition.

It might be necessary to affirm to the doctor an intense desire to become female in appearance and live full time as a woman. Chances are you will have to conform to the rest of their "diagnostic criteria" if you want them to help you. If you show any indecision, they will probably not prescribe hormones as you are hoping. I wish things were different, but for now psychology still views trans from a fairly limited perspective.

So even though you may have to ascribe to the criteria in order to be treated fairly, please know in your heart of hearts: you are not disordered, you do not need to be fixed, you are not broken. You are a beautiful soul with an expanded gender awareness. Like most gifted people, you are misunderstood. Yet misunderstanding transforms into understanding as we move forth in evolution of humanity. The more transgender people who shine their lights, the brighter the spark of understanding that will come... and believe me, it is already happening.

One day not so long from now, people will look back on today in amazement at the way present society judges and discriminates based upon superficialities like skin color or genital form. The best you can do is just BE your most beautiful self, whatever that means to you. Let no one stand in judgement of you for shining your truest light.

Love & blessings,

Monday, October 30, 2006

Victims Or Villains?

(Reprinted from

Too many times the TG community gets dumped on. Whether it is by an internally frustrated homophobic alpha male, a catty gay man, a mean spirited Lesbian woman or just a clueless tourist, the community does endure more than it’s share of crap. But, are we perpetual victims? Do we need to be?

This past September there was quite an incident at East of Eighth, a neighborhood bar & restaurant at 254 West 23rd Street in New York City. I know the place quite well. I used to co/own, promote and host a trans-party there once a month. We would convert the upstairs restaurant into a trans-party that usually drew between 100 – 160 people on the 2nd Saturday of each month. The party often spilled into the down stairs bar where Jack was pouring drinks, and it was a great time.

My friends and I would go to the downstairs bar every week, usually Friday and/or Saturday to start off our evening, before heading into the night for clubs unknown. We liked the staff, management, and clientele, and they liked us. Word began to spread and before long we started seeing more and more girls coming there to have dinner or party at the bar.

I used to joke that when they built East Of Eighth, my friend Jamie was already sitting at the bar. She was a regular and got along with everyone. On this particular night, she leaned into the bartender and said, “wow, Jack, it looks like tranny central in here!” Without warning Jack exploded into a verbal tirade loud enough for all the girls to hear. His words made it obvious that they were no longer welcomed there. His frustrations, which had been apparently brewing for some time, included that the girls, 1) were tying up the two bathrooms to change and do their makeup, 2) using the bar as a meeting area, but not ordering anything (some girls even brought there own) 3) not tipping appropriately, 4) and lastly, coming in such numbers that the good paying gay customers were staying away. They should have read my article “How To Survive the Gay Bar.”

The outrage from the T-community was swift and harsh; calling for Jack’s job and lawsuit. The emails were flying around the community and everyone was jumping into the fray. Some called for calm while others suggested negotiations and bar-wide conditions be set. Then there was those still on the warpath calling for staged protests.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When the dust settled down the protest idea was losing steam, but the conversations about getting the bartender fired and a possible lawsuit were still quite potent. Another suggestion was for the bar to change some policies; suggestions were offered. These included putting signs in the bathrooms to remind people to limit their time there, and start a bar-wide 2- drink minimum.

I’m sorry did I miss something? Would you go to a restaurant as a man and use their bathroom to shave? Would you bring your own liquor with you? Are we children? Do we need signs to tell us how to act like grown ups? Unfortunately a few T-girls lacked some common courtesy that caused this mess, but the community jumped in on the “We’ve been discriminated on” bandwagon. Although some of the suggestions -- in the heat of battle -- had good intentions, we as a community need to understand that by making those suggestions we are actually saying, “we are different, treat us differently,” while we chant, “treat us fairly, we’re just like everyone else.” The trouble is you can’t have it both ways.

East of Eighth was a bar that welcomed the t-community for years with open arms. For some t-girls it was their first steps into the mainstream. The bar didn’t just decide to change their position against the t-community without cause. This incident should be a wake up call: If you choose to go into the mainstream you have to act accordingly. If you can’t then you hurt your fellow sisters, so stay home in the closet!

We have to stop playing the victim and continually using the trans discrimination bandwagon: or we will wear out the wheels. There are real discrimination cases across the globe where people loose jobs, face mental and physical abuse, and in some cases die. What happened at East of Eighth was tranny stupidity, pure and simple. So here’s an action we can take: “Get a grip, grow up and get over it!” But, most importantly, learn from it.

Until Next TIme,
Get out, be safe, have fun and always .... think pretty!
Brianna Austin

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Consulting Heart And Mind

Each of the myriad decisions we make every day has the potential to have a deep impact on our lives. Some choices touch us to our very cores, awakening poignant feelings within us. Others seem at first to be simple but prove to be confusingly complex. We make the best decisions when we approach the decision-making process from a balanced emotional and intellectual foundation. When we have achieved equilibrium in our hearts and in our minds, we can clearly see both sides of an issue or alternative. Likewise, we can accept compromise as a natural fact of life. Instead of relying solely on our feelings or our rationality, we utilize both in equal measure, empowering ourselves to come to a life-affirming and balanced conclusion.

Balance within and balance without go hand in hand. When you are called upon to choose between two or more options, whether they are attractive or distasteful, you should understand all you can about the choice ahead of you before moving forward. If you do not come to the decision from a place of balance, you risk making choices that are irrational and overly emotional or are wholly logical and don't take your feelings into account. In bringing your thoughts and emotions together during the decision-making process, you ensure that you are taking everything possible into account before moving forward. Nothing is left up to chance, and you have ample opportunity to determine which options are in accordance with your values.

Though some major decisions may oblige you to act and react quickly, most will allow you an abundance of time in which to mull over your choices. If you doubt your ability to approach your options in a balanced fashion, take an extended time-out before responding to the decision. This will give you the interlude you need to make certain that your thoughts and feelings are in equilibrium. As you practice achieving balance, you will ultimately reach a state of mind in which you can easily make decisions that honor every aspect of the self.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Leslie Feinberg continues to break gender barriers

By Jillian A. Bogater
Originally printed 10/26/2006 (Issue 1443 - Between The Lines News)

"Trans Gender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come" by Leslie Feinberg
It was during the Stonewall riots of 1969 that acclaimed author and trans activist Leslie Feinberg came out.

During this time of war and unemployment, Feinberg began a long journey as a warrior in identity politics.

Some 36 years later, the country's political and economic climate is similar, and Feinberg is still on the front lines fighting for freedom of gender expression.

Feinberg straddles the lines of defined gender - preferring to use neutral pronouns such as hir and sie - and has dedicated hir life to challenging transgender bias.

Feinberg will talk about hir new novel "Drag King Dreams" and address the struggle for trans liberation in an era of war, racism and reaction tonight at Wayne State University.

At a recent talk at the Workers World Party office in Detroit, Feinberg spoke about gender as a class issue.

Using hir strong union background, Feinberg suggested the gay rights movement may be making a huge mistake by focusing only on marriage rights. Instead, Feinberg visualizes a collective bargaining approach, gathering a comprehensive list of LGBT community demands, then starting dialogue from that point.

Also, the marketplace move toward globalization has created working classes around the world that have the ability to unite for mass workers' rights.

"We are going to take over our economy and run it for working people," sie said. "That's what it means to be revolutionary. Every struggle is important. ... As revolutionaries we say we are not going to stop fighting until every battle is won."

Feinberg recently spoke with BTL Managing Editor Jillian A. Bogater about the past, present and future of the transgender movement.

Between The Lines: Years ago, a good portion of the lesbian scene was split into butch/femme roles. Do these dynamics still exist today, and if so, how are they the same or different?

Leslie Feinberg: The butch and femme lesbians and drag queens and their butch partners were the only visible tip of the population of what is today an LGBT movement. As communities oppressed for our gender, as well as our sexuality, it took great courage for us all to forge communities. Because we organized and fought back, we helped to win many rights for all LGBT people. I don't think the same kind of communities exist today. And there is a lot of gender-phobia towards butch/femme desire that we still need to confront. While at the same time, today many genders/sexes and sexualities are more out and more proud and offer more understanding of how many ways there are to be LGBT.

BTL: How has the trans movement changed in your lifetime?

LF: It's not the first time in history that people oppressed because of how they live in their sex or express their gender have fought back or led battles or organized. But I have lived to see this modern struggle emerge and it has done so in a period of deep political reaction. I look forward to seeing it grow and develop even more bonds of solidarity with other movements.

BTL: It seems the last 10 years have been pivotal in the trans revolution. What do you thing spurred this change?

LF: That, I can't say. I'm not sure there's just one easy answer. But wherever there is oppression, resistance will ultimately break out.

BTL: The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival has evolved into a flashpoint for modern-day debate on trans inclusion. What does the debate mean for trans rights?

LF: The owners of the land have put forward a theoretical formulation: Women born women. It's regressive and dangerous. It's a "biology determines destiny" approach that denies the reality of the existences of many trans communities and also does great harm to women's liberation as a whole. I wrote more about this in a chapter entitled "Sisterhood: Make It Real!" in "Transgender Warriors" (Beacon).

BTL: Some FTMs distance themselves from the trans movement after transitioning. Is this internalized transphobia?

LF: It's important to understand what he is saying. He is a man. That's a very clear statement. It's not internalized transphobia. It's the external transphobia that is trying to deny his manhood. We need to pay attention.

BTL: Is there a power tradeoff for MTF trans folk?

LF: Here I want to make very clear that I am transgender and I want to be the best fighter I can be in defense of my transsexual sisters and brothers. Transmen and transwomen are in the crosshairs of oppression. Let's start with that reality and find ways to build greater solidarity.

BTL: What do you think fuels transphobia?

LF: That very question - "what are the roots of transphobia and genderphobia?" - is what I went searching for my whole life. I can tell you that I have found gender diversity and sex reassignment and intersexuality on every continent in every historical period.

But it wasn't until the cleaving of human society into have and have-nots economic classes that I found the earliest patriarchal edicts separating the sexes, overturning the historic role of females, punishing or executing intersexual individuals, defining gender roles, policing the boundaries of gender expression, and making sexuality a matter of state repression.

That history is presented in the most accessible way I possibly could, with more than 100 photos and illustrations, in "Transgender Warriors." I invite you as the reader to explore this history because it has a big impact on how we find ourselves at this moment in time -- "how we got here" -- and which way forward to the future. I also invite you to read my series "Lavender & Red" which deals with the demand for an end to the oppression of people based on sexuality, gender and sex and the revolutionary movements of the last century and a half. That series is up on Look for the Lavender & Red logo.

BTL: What do you see for the future of the trans movement?

LF: The future will depend on what we do today!

Jillian A. Bogater is managing editor of Between The Lines. You can reach her at

"Drag King Dreams"
By Leslie Feinberg
Carroll & Graf Publishers
303 pages
Now available at
Other books by Leslie Feinberg:
Stone Butch Blues: A Novel
Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue

Restroom Madness

In a recent article in Newsday, a writer asks advise on how to deal with a male-to-female transsexual that is in transition at work. The writer, a man, was taken back and uncomfortable when "Karen" exited the men's room.

I had to laugh because usualy the yells are from TSs using the ladies room, as if transwomen were somehow invading and violating holy ground. We've all been reading about such confrontations nationwide. Why "Karen" was in the men's room is any one's guess; perhaps it was company policy, perhaps being known at work previously as a man she was trying not to intrude into the ladies room until her transition was complete.

But it does make one wonder what the eventual solution will be. Perhaps if we all just start peeing in the hallways the "normal" people will allow us to finally use a restroom without screaming foul.

"Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund announced Monday that it has reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City that allows people to use MTA public restrooms in accordance with their gender expression." Source:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Psychologists now know what makes people happy

Source: USA Today
Date: 12/10/2002

By Marilyn Elias

the key to happiness?

The happiest people surround themselves with family and friends, don't care about keeping up with the Joneses next door, lose themselves in daily activities and, most important, forgive easily.

The once-fuzzy picture of what makes people happy is coming into focus as psychologists no longer shun the study of happiness. In the mid-'90s, scientific journals published about 100 studies on sadness for every one study on happiness.

Now a burgeoning "positive psychology" movement that emphasizes people's strengths and talents instead of their weaknesses is rapidly closing the gap, says University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman, author of the new book, Authentic Happiness. The work of Seligman and other experts in the field is in the early stages, but they are already starting to see why some people are happy while others are not: The happiest people spend the least time alone. They pursue personal growth and intimacy; they judge themselves by their own yardsticks, never against what others do or have.

"Materialism is toxic for happiness," says University of Illinois psychologist Ed Diener. Even rich materialists aren't as happy as those who care less about getting and spending.

Because the December holidays are friend- and family-oriented, they painfully reveal the intimacy missing in some lives, Diener says. Add in the commercial emphasis - keeping up with the Joneses and the Christmas enjoyed by the Joneses' kids - "and it's a setup for disappointment," he says. And yet some people manage to look on the bright side, even if they lose their jobs in December. Others live in darkness all year for no apparent reason. A person's cheer level is about half genetic, scientists say.

Everyone has a "set point" for happiness, just as they do for weight, Seligman says. People can improve or hinder their well-being, but they aren't likely to take long leaps in either direction from their set point.

Even physical health, assumed by many to be key to happiness, only has an impact if people are very ill. Objective health measures don't relate to life satisfaction, but subjective feelings do. Plenty of healthy people take their health for granted and are none the happier for it, Diener points out. Meanwhile, the sickly often bear up well, and hypochondriacs cling to misery despite their robust health.

Good feelings aren't "all in the head," though. Actions matter, just not in the way often believed.

Life satisfaction occurs most often when people are engaged in absorbing activities that cause them to forget themselves, lose track of time and stop worrying. "Flow" is the term Claremont Graduate University psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced cheeks-sent-mee-hi) coined to describe this phenomenon.

People in flow may be sewing up a storm, doing brain surgery, playing a musical instrument or working a hard puzzle with their child. The impact is the same: A life of many activities in flow is likely to be a life of great satisfaction, Csikszentmihalyi says. And you don't have to be a hotshot to get there.

"One of the happiest men I ever met was a 64-year-old Chicago welder with a fourth-grade education," he says. The man took immense pride in his work, refusing a promotion to foreman that would have kept him from what he loved to do. He spent evenings looking at the rock garden he built, with sprinklers and floodlights set up to create rainbows.

Teenagers experience flow, too, and are the happiest if they consider many activities "both work and play," Csikszentmihalyi says. Flow stretches someone but pleasurably so, not beyond his capacity. "People feel best when doing what they do best," he says.

Everyone has "signature strengths," Seligman adds, and the happiest use them. Doing so can lead to choices that astound others but yield lasting satisfaction.

Signature strengths

That's what happened to Greg and Tierney Fairchild. He was a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia, and she'd already earned a Ph.D., when they learned that the child she was carrying had Down syndrome, along with a serious heart defect requiring surgery.

In the Fairchilds' intellectual circle of friends, some viewed having a retarded child as unthinkable - and let them know it. Lots of people, including some family members, assumed they'd opt for abortion. After thoroughly exploring all the angles - medical, practical and emotional - they decided to keep their daughter, Naia.

"We're pro-choice, so it's not that we wouldn't get an abortion under some circumstances, or think that others could make a different choice here," Greg says.

They were leading with their strength. An interracial couple, they both had long histories of taking bold, less traveled paths rather than following the parade.

Greg was the first black on his high school track team at a Southern, mostly white school; he became student body president. Tierney was the only MBA student at her university also getting a Ph.D. in education because she wanted to train executives.

And they chose each other, despite all the stares of bigots they knew they'd face forever.

"We haven't shied away from tough choices," Greg says, "and we've been able to persevere through some difficulties other people might not have been able to."

Tierney says, "We thought having Naia would be a challenge, but we really wanted her, and just because something's a challenge, I'm not the type to turn away."

Their struggles are depicted in the new book, Choosing Naia by Mitchell Zuckoff.

That was a few years ago. Now Naia is a 4-year-old people magnet with a great sense of humor, the first Down syndrome child to be "mainstreamed" at the preschool for University of Virginia staff. (Greg teaches in the business school.) She walked late, talked late and is potty-training late - just as her parents expected. "And so what?" Tierney asks. "She's brought us a huge amount of joy because she's such a happy child."

Tierney, who is manager of executive education at United Technologies Corp., feared she'd have to quit work to care for Naia, but that wasn't necessary. Tierney and Greg gave Naia a baby brother, Cole, 22 months ago. "We're so grateful for these kids," Greg says.

Gratitude helps

Gratitude has a lot to do with life satisfaction, psychologists say. Talking and writing about what they're grateful for amplifies adults' happiness, new studies show. Other researchers have found that learning to savor even small pleasures has the same effect. And forgiveness is the trait most strongly linked to happiness, says University of Michigan psychologist Christopher Peterson.

"It's the queen of all virtues, and probably the hardest to come by," he adds.

'More fun, less stuff'

There's also evidence that altruistic acts boost happiness in the giver. That doesn't surprise Betsy Taylor, president of the Center for a New American Dream, a Takoma Park, Md., non-profit that favors simple living and opposes commercialism. "The altruism part is worth keeping in mind over the holidays," Taylor says. "Our mantra is 'more fun, less stuff.' Do for others, we say."

Karen Madsen, 51, of Everett, Wash., is a believer. For several years, she's organized local families to buy holiday gifts for needy foster children. Madsen sinks in about $1,000 herself, often trimming her own kids' Christmas haul to do it. "You'd see these notes from foster kids, 'I don't really need anything, but my little sister needs a coat because she's cold.' "

Her son, William Shepherd, a high school senior, doesn't mind. "It's a lot of fun to go shopping for their toys," he says. "I have enough, and it feels good to make sure other people can enjoy the holidays, too."

Many parents would be amazed that a kid could be happy to get less, but surprise is the name of the game with happiness. People aren't very good at predicting what will make them happy, cutting-edge research shows.

Even Seligman, the happiness maven, tells how he wanted no more children - he already had two grown ones - and his current wife wanted four, "so we compromised at four," he says. His book reveals he's besotted with these kids and marvels at them daily. "I just didn't know," he says.

None of us knows, says Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert. "There's a reason why Euripides said, 'It would not be better if men got what they wanted.' " People expect that events will have a larger and more enduring impact on them - for good or ill - than they really do, Gilbert's studies find.

People tend to rationalize bad things, quickly adapting to new realities. They also visualize future events in isolation, but real life teems with many experiences that dilute the impact of any one. This means winning the lottery doesn't make people's lives stellar, but they recover from romantic breakups much quicker than expected.

"If you knew exactly what the future held, you still wouldn't know how much you would like it when you got there," Gilbert says. In pursuing happiness, he suggests "we should have more trust in our own resilience and less confidence in our predictions about how we'll feel. We should be a bit more humble and a bit more brave."

Go To Good Drug Guide
The Good Drug Guide
mental health in the third millennium

Negativity Bias
Drug Companies
Just For Chemists
Pain and Rejection
The End Of Suffering
Television and Mood
Hardwired Happiness?
The Pursuit of Happiness
Depression and Chronic Pain
Quotations About Happiness
Health, Wealth and Happiness
The Futile Pursuit of Happiness?
Happiness and Modern Medicine
Big Pharma and Madison Avenue
Happiness: the Recipe for Success
Happiness: a Buddhist Perspective
Happy Images Make Depressed People Sad
Happiness, Homeostasis and The Hedonic Treadmill

Monday, October 16, 2006

Seeing Beyond The Unknown

Fear Of Losing What We Have

One of humanity's biggest fears is losing what we have. It is healthy when fear of loss helps us take steps to protect what we have worked hard to attain, but it is unhealthy to continue to fear something we can do nothing about. We need to remember that focusing our energy on fear can actually create what scares us, and holding tightly to what we have keeps us from participating in the universal flow of abundance and instead creates stagnation. Since we can only really control our thoughts and our responses, gaining proper perspective may be key to conquering such fears.

The letters of the word "FEAR" can be used to stand for "False Evidence Appearing Real." Fears of being separated from something or someone we feel we need for our security or happiness comes from a delusion - a distorted way of understanding ourselves and the world around us. When we understand that possessions are only representations of the energy at work in our lives, we can shift our attention to the right and proper place. We can stop fearing loss of money or success because when we understand how it is created, we can always create more. We can stop fearing loss of possessions when we realize that they are not the source of our joy or well-being but only icing on our cakes. And when we understand the energy of love, we need not hold anyone too close for fear of losing them for we know that love does not diminish when it is given or shared but expands beyond boundaries of time or space.

By focusing our light on our fears, they are revealed as mere shadows that disappear in the presence of mind and spirit. We can choose instead to direct our thoughts and creative power toward things of true value - love, abundance, peace, passion, and joy. These are energies that are always available to us when we place ourselves confidently in the universal flow of abundance.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

How Carly Fiorina lost her gender groove

Click here for Carly Fiorina's own comments about being publicly fired from her position as CEO of Hewlett Packard

Maureen Dowd, New York Times
October 15, 2006

CARLY Fiorina prided herself on being adept at succeeding in a man's world without whining about sexism.

In her new memoir, "Tough Choices," the expelled CEO of Hewlett-Packard - the first female head of a Fortune 20 company - describes how she insisted on going along to a business meeting at a Washington strip club when she started out as an ambitious young woman at AT&T.

"I was scared to death," she writes, adding that she wore her most conservative dress-for-success business suit and little bow tie, carried her briefcase like "a shield of honor" and repeated the mantra, "I am a professional woman," even when her cabdriver asked her if she was the new act for the club, where babes in see-through negligees danced on tables.

"In a show of empathy that brings tears to my eyes still," she recounts, "each woman who approached the table would look the situation over and say: "Sorry, gentlemen. Not till the lady leaves."

On her first day at HP, she proclaimed, "The glass ceiling doesn't exist." But she now concedes that the glass trapdoor might.

"I think somehow men understand other men's need for respect differently than they understand it for a woman," Fiorina told Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes."

The male-dominated board's handling of her exit was "heartless in some ways and disrespectful in other ways," she said. "Maybe they took great pleasure in seeing me beat up publicly for weeks and weeks."

Other controlling blondes, like Hillary Clinton, Martha Stewart and Tina Brown, were slapped back after great success (in a trend that The Times' Alessandra Stanley dubbed blondenfreude), and Fiorina now thinks she was victimized by gender.

"In the chat rooms around Silicon Valley, from the time I arrived until long after I left HP, I was routinely referred to as either a "bimbo" or a "bitch," she writes. "Too soft or too hard, and presumptuous, besides." She adds: "I watched with interest as male CEOs fired people and were hailed as "decisive." I was labeled "vindictive."

She reels off things that offended her: The editor of Business Week asked her if she was wearing an Armani suit. She felt adjectives such as "flashy," "glamorous" and "diamond studded" were meant to make her seem superficial. (Who doesn't like being called glamorous?) Stories referred to her by her first name. There was "painful commentary" that she'd chosen not to have children because she was "too ambitious."

"When I finally reached the top, after striving my entire career to be judged by results and accomplishments," she concludes, "the coverage of my gender, my appearance and the perceptions of my personality would vastly outweigh anything else."
Maureen Dowd is a columnist for The New York Times.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Peace Revolution

(by Alysyn Ayrica)

"Many men cry Peace! Peace! but they refuse to do the things that make for peace."
~~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

An open insight for the skeptic: there is truly nothing new, except the ability to progress beyond the old.

The way of peace has been taught in all the ages of the earth, yet we have, historically, relied on treaties between nations, cultural domination, or moral imposition within our societies in an attempt to establish an enforced peace.

All of these, though idealogical, are based on the physicality of mankind. The truth is, there are no physical tools which can effect the desired result that every thoughtful human has sought for the whole of humanity - a true and lasting peace.

The reason we, as a species, have found only short-lived moments of peace in this world is simple - peace must begin within each of us before it can be manifest in the world. We often hear of the indominable spirit of human beings bandied about in reference to conflict, but it is, in fact, the spirit of each and every human on this planet that holds the power to effect change, not the body.

As spiritual beings, it is the core of our thoughts and feelings which will bring about the reality we wish to experience. This is true in both the positive and the negative. If our thoughts are emotionally directed toward something, war for instance, then war is given the energy to manifest, as is disease, poverty, and any number of phenomena we find undesireable.

Jesus once asked the apostle Paul, when he was still the Jewish zealot Saul, why he persisted in "kicking against the goads", referring to his persecution of Christians. Now, a goad was a sharp instrument used by farmers to compel the animal pulling a plow to continue moving. For the animal to fight it, or "kick against it", would only drive it further into it's backside. With this being the offered metaphor, the question Jesus asked was implying that the more Paul fought what was then only a movement, the more it's influence would be felt.

The crucial consideration given in this seemingly simple question is this: the more we struggle against something, the more energy we give to it's continued existence...or, as Carl Jung pointed out so succinctly, "What we resist persists."

We struggle against violence, and violence increases. We protest war, and war is manifest. We declare our passions against poverty, drugs, abuse, and any number of problems which threaten our well being, and these same gain strength in our society and in the world at large.

In fact, this phenomenon is a well known aspect of a universal law, known today as the Law of Attraction. Directly applied, it opens to us the understanding that our thoughts, intensified by our emotional attachement to them, shape the reality we experience.

As we move through our existence rightfully taking notice of those things in our world which are contradictory to our intuitive sense of life and goodness, our typical response is usually an expressed desire to see those things eliminated from our existence so as to allow that same goodness and life to reign. We are quick to rail against it, expressing our hatred or disgust at it's effect on our lives. Some of us even attend rallys or organize protests in opposition to them. We recognize in this activity that human beings, in their natural state, are desirous of a peaceful existence.

So the dilemma is not, as I have pointed out, in our intentions, but in the focus of our emotions regarding the aspirations of peace. We have, in our attempts to redirect our world from the barbarism of it's youth, only driven the warrior deeper into the consciousness of our human kin by misdirecting our emotions regarding human conflict.

A Revolution is long overdue, but the quest for change must not be founded in a new politick or ideology; those are temporary and dissention is at the core of their mechanics. The revolutions of the past have all been substitutionary efforts, founding one crumbling civilization upon the decay of another. What is needed is not a substitute for our current way of life, but a new structure which departs from the old fundamentally.

We human beings are infinite in our capacity to imagine, therefore our ability to create is unlimited in it's scope. As such, there are no boundaries to how much change we can effect if our desire is truly for such change. But, first, we should not desire an immediate abandonment of the old, but to establish a balance of old and new energies. All human beings deserve to be able to choose their enlightenment, and as the world moves toward peace the choice should be manifested in an established model.

We have lived for too long in the model of the old energy of confusion and turbulence, and have now come to this place where we desire a new understanding. Instead of a revolution founded in war and strife, we need a revolution of peace, founded in the daily individual consideration of life, and living in harmony with one another. Instead of taking up arms, let us take the reigns of our hearts and minds and change how we percieve one another in all things. The institutions we need to topple are the projected thoughts and emotions we sometimes take for granted on a daily basis.

Effectually, we need to direct our thoughts toward peace, not against war. War will find no place in a world where it's inhabitants desire only peace and war has become simply an academic concept that holds sway no longer over the desires of the heart.

Yet, initially, the structure of the old energy must be allowed to coexist with the new, that it's continued deterioration may be an example to future generations of it's futility. To descry it or disdain it will only give strength to it's continuance; instead, it should be allowed to fall by the wayside as it becomes void in the lives of many.

Make no mistake, whether we become revolutionaries for change, or remain in direct opposition to it by nature of our insistence on continuing our defeated thinking, we are all participants in the peace revolution.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Spain moving from macho to gender equality

By Molly Moore, The Washington Post

MADRID — When María Teresa Fernández de la Vega graduated from law school in the 1970s, Spanish law banned her — and any other woman — from becoming a judge, serving as a witness in court or opening a bank account.

Today, the angular, outspoken 57-year-old is Spain's first female vice president, helping orchestrate a cultural revolution in the boardrooms and living rooms of the country that coined the word machismo — male chauvinism — five centuries ago.

"We have a prime minister who not only says he's a feminist — he acts like a feminist," Fernández said. "In two-and-one-half years, we have done more than has ever been done in such a short time in Spain."

Her Socialist government is requiring political parties to allot 40 percent of their candidate lists to women and is telling big companies to give women 40 percent of the seats on corporate boards. Half of Prime Minister José Luis Rodríquez Zapatero's Cabinet members are women — the highest proportion in any government in Europe.

New divorce laws not only make it easier for couples to split, but stipulate that marital obligations require men to share the housework equally with their wives.

Women recruits

To draw more women into the armed forces, the government is shrinking the height requirements for women entering the National Guard and opening child-care centers on military bases.

Not even the royal family is immune: Zapatero wants to abolish the law giving male heirs first rights to the throne.

The push for gender equality in one of Europe's most macho cultures comes as both internal and outside forces are creating seismic social shifts: Spanish women are taking greater control of their own lives by waiting longer to marry and having fewer children. The European Union is exerting more pressure on members to enforce equality. And the growth of high-tech businesses with a greater sensitivity to hiring women is expanding job opportunities.

The chief executive officers of Spain's IBM, Microsoft and Google operations are all women. Microsoft chief Rosa Maria Garcia, 40, a mother of three, said she has mandated that no company meetings be scheduled before 8:30 a.m. or after 5:30 p.m. — a revolutionary move in a country where workdays routinely stretch until 9 or 10 p.m.

Despite the advances, Fernández said, "There is resistance. We have a long way to go."

Business organizations are attacking the proposed quotas for women on corporate boards.

Men striking back

Despite new laws cracking down on domestic violence, the number of women killed by their partners has escalated this year — in part, some sociologists say, because men are striking back even harder at spouses who dare to report abuses to police.

Many men scoff at the law's efforts to legislate home life. "Just because Zapatero says by law men have to do dishes, men are not going to do dishes," said Alberto Fuertes, 37, a stocky, square-faced owner of a small factory. "That's ridiculous. It's totally absurd."

A recent government-sponsored television advertisement showed a man meticulously washing his car and admonished that if a guy can clean his auto, there's nothing unmanly in helping his wife pick up around the house.

Some women also take potshots at Zapatero's reforms and the women he has promoted to help him run the country.

After Zapatero filled eight of his 16 Cabinet positions — including the vice presidency — with women, "the first thing they did was have a picture taken dressed up in party dresses and full of furs," sniped Ana Pastor, a member of the lower house of parliament and one of the most senior women in the opposition Popular Party.

She was referring to a controversial photo spread of the female Cabinet members in the Spanish edition of Vogue two years ago. "The vice president of the government, Fernández de la Vega, is known as Fernández de la Vogue."

Zapatero, elected in part on his promises to improve the station of women, has said his mission is to make up for lost time.

"One thing that really awakens my rebellious streak is 20 centuries of one sex dominating the other," Zapatero said shortly after his election. "We talk of slavery, feudalism, exploitation — but the most unjust domination is that of one-half of the human race over the other."

Emerging from Franco

During the height of the sexual revolution in the United States and other parts of Europe, Spain was only just beginning to emerge from decades of dictatorship under Generalissimo Francisco Franco and a legal system that did not recognize rights for women.

Despite advances in government opportunities for women, the Spanish private sector remains one of the most chauvinistic in Europe. Women sit on less than 5 percent of corporate boards and overall earn 30 percent less than their male counterparts. It remains common practice for companies to fire pregnant women, according to women's organizations and victims.

"The culture and tradition of machista is very deeply ingrained in the mentality of everyone," said Carmen Bravo, secretary for women's issues for Spain's largest labor union, known by the initials CCOO.

Fuertes, whose small factory makes mattress covers, said he has no problem with hiring women — all 11 of his employees are women, most between the ages of 46 and 55.

"The older generation of women are used to working hard," said Fuertes, balancing his 2 ½-year-old daughter on his lap after returning home at the end of a recent workday. "If I hire a 36-year-old, the problem is that she's going to take a lot of days off to take her child to the doctor. She knows her rights and knows I can't do anything about that."

At home, Fuertes said, it's not Zapatero's laws, but his working wife who has persuaded him to share in the chores.

At his parents' home, "My father crosses his arms and says to my mother, 'Bring me my coffee,' " Fuertes said. "My mother does everything — she irons and cooks and cleans. Women now don't want to be like their mothers."

And if Alba, his daughter, grew up to marry a man like Grandpa?

"I would not be happy," Fuertes said. "It would go against everything I've tried to teach her."

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ambigendering Aristotle

One of the eternally recurring themes for the ambigendered (sorry, my term. It is intended to replace "transvestite" or "crossdresser" and refers to those who desire to and are, to a greater or lesser degree, skilled at presenting themselves as the opposite gender), is the idea of "moving forward." We all experience frustration when we perceive that we are not progressing towards our goal, or worse, that further progress is not possible. And what is the goal of the ambigendered male: to occasionally experience femininity as fully and completely as possible.

Let me make an argument which was recently inspired by reviewing Aristotelian philosophy.The first premise is that our desired goal is impossible to reach. We transsomethings, by definition, cannot fully experience life as a woman. Certainly, we can attain some level of feminine experiences with varying degrees of success (and indeed those varying levels of success often cause frustration for many).

Moreover, we tend to equate success in presenting ourselves in feminine mode with happiness and to societal acceptance both within the community and without. This objective simply doesn’t seem to be borne out by experience: most of us, even the most accomplished TG or event the post-op TS, doesn’t seem to derive total fulfillment from her success—at least not for very long—in pursuit or achievement of this goal. Hence, it seems we are pursuing an objective that constantly moves the further we progress.

Now here is where Aristotle offers us two worthwhile suggestions: that fulfillment is only possible when a goal is obtainable and that physical goals, even if attained, rarely bring sustainable happiness. Therefore, by seeking complete femininization (or complete femininity, if you prefer), we are fated to fail because that is physically impossible except for a select few.

Moreover, feminization, is a physical goal and pursuing (or even achieving) physical goals rarely, if ever, brings real happiness. What it seems to me that we ambigendered souls are seeking is actually acceptance of ourselves as ambigendered. That is indeed an obtainable goal, and a psychological/spiritual one of the sort that most (including Aristotle) would agree can indeed bring happiness. And if we make acceptance our objective, then our pursuit of femininity becomes a means and not an end.

What I mean is that by pursuing our ambigendered interests with the aid and support of friends we can indeed find acceptance from them. By exploring our own femininity and coming to terms with it and understanding it better we can find acceptance of ourselves. And by coming to terms with ourselves and becoming more comfortable with who we are, and becoming more knowledgeable about what we are and why we are, we have laid the foundation to pursue acceptance from those who are not ambigendered.

So what am I saying here? Too often we confuse the means and ends. We believe that feminization, whether permanently or temporarily, is the end. In reality the focus for us ought to be on seeking and giving acceptance from those like us because that is a goal that is both attainable and one that gives what we really crave—psychological/spiritual satisfaction.

To phrase it more simply, view the expression of your femininity not as the goal, but as a means to form relationships with like minded individuals who can help you to achieve your true objectives: support, understanding, fulfillment, tolerance, etc. All I’m saying is that the ambigendered pursuit of femininity can only bring psychological and spiritual satisfaction by viewing it as an ongoing journey best enjoyed in the company of friends. And that sometimes the answers are found by looking behind us, around us and within us instead of only looking ahead of us.