The Minnesota Transgender Alliance

I had the honor of speaking at last night’s meeting of the Minnesota Transgender Alliance in Minneapolis, whose mission is to provide resources and support to all members of the transgender community.  I talked about creating and organizing the MN T-Girls, my experiences as a transgender girl in the Twin Cities, the responsibility of being a positive representative of the transgender community, and the importance of being honest with ourselves about who we are.

I met some amazing people and I was grateful for the experience.  I look forward to partnering with the MNTA more in the future.

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Love, Hannah

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Ask Hannah!

Do they have books on transgender, crossdressers rights when we go out on the town?

Before I jump into this, please visit and bookmark these two links that provide answers and information to frequently asked questions regarding the laws and rights of transgender individuals:

ACLU

Human Rights Campaign

I’m sure there are books, however, with how frequently the laws can change, a book will eventually become outdated.  As far as I know, there aren’t any states that says it is illegal to be transgender.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a long time to go.  As of today, it is legal to fire someone on the basis for being transgender in over half of the states in the country.  According to the Human Rights Campaign:

Right now in 32 states there is no state law protecting transgender people from being fired for being who they are. Only 18 states (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, IA, MA, ME, MD — effective Oct. 2014, MN, NJ, NM, NV, OR, RI, VT and WA) and D.C. currently prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

We all have rights, but each day we hear of someone’s basic civil rights being violated.  Discrimination based on gender and race will likely always exist.  You have the right to be treated as a human being, but that doesn’t mean everyone will respect you and interact with you in the way you deserve, unfortunately.

You should also be aware of what the laws in your state are when it comes to using the restroom that align with your gender identity.  According to the ACLU:

There’s no clear answer here because very few courts have considered this question and the results have been mixed. In two recent positive decisions, an administrative agency in Colorado in 2013 and the Maine Supreme Court in 2014 both ruled that under those states’ gender identity discrimination laws, transgender girls had the right to use girls’ restrooms at their public schools. On the other hand, a 2001 Minnesota Supreme Court decision found that even a law prohibiting gender identity discrimination didn’t necessarily protect a transgender woman’s right to use the women’s restroom at work. And a federal appeals court in 2007 upheld the Utah Transit Authority’s decision to fire a transgender bus driver, based on a claim that her employer could be sued for her use of women’s public restrooms along her bus route. In a non-workplace context, a New York appeals court ruled in 2005 that it wasn’t sex discrimination for a building owner to prevent transgender people from using gender identity-appropriate restrooms in a building where several businesses shared restrooms.

Authorities in some jurisdictions (e.g., Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, Washington State, San Francisco, New York City, and the District of Columbia), however, have specifically said that denying transgender people the right to use a gender identity-appropriate restroom violates their nondiscrimination laws. Some jurisdictions (e.g., Iowa, San Francisco, and D.C.) go farther and make clear that transgender people can’t be required to prove their gender to gain access to a public restroom, unless everyone has to show ID to use that restroom. Other jurisdictions (e.g., Chicago) continue to allow businesses to decide whether a transgender patron may access men’s or women’s restrooms based on the gender on their ID, which may or may not reflect accurately the person’s gender identity.

Many businesses, universities, and other public places are installing single stall, gender-neutral restrooms, which alleviate many of the difficulties that transgender people experience when seeking safe restroom access. Some cities (such as Austin, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and West Hollywood) have local laws that require single-stall public restrooms to be labeled as unisex. While this is often a useful step towards addressing the concerns of transgender people and others, the ACLU believes that transgender people should have the right to use restrooms that match their gender identity rather than being restricted to only using gender-neutral ones.

My advice is to use a gender neutral bathroom if possible.  There is also an app and website called Refugee Restroom that, according to their website:

REFUGE is a web application that seeks to provide safe restroom access for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals. When the Safe2Pee website passed out of functionality it left a hole in our hearts. REFUGE picks up the torch where Safe2Pee left off and makes the valuable resource available to those who find themselves in need of a place to pee safely once again. Users can search for restrooms by proximity to a search location, add new restroom listings, as well as comment and rate existing listings. We seek to create a community focused not only on finding existing safe restroom access but also looking forward and participating in restroom advocacy for transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming folk.

Be aware of your rights.  Be safe.

Love, Hannah

It’s Been a Busy Week for Hate

It’s been a hard week.  Most of our attention these past few days has been focused on the horrific events that occurred in Las Vegas on Sunday.  As the shock fades, our country returns once again to gun control laws and the never ending discussion of our rights and the government’s obligation to protect its citizens.

This is not an invitation to discuss gun laws, so please be mindful of that in the comments.

A country’s obligation and role in protecting its people extends in many different ways.  Whether it is protecting our personal rights, having access to proper medical and mental care, as well as ensuring our civil rights are maintained.

This week we saw the Trump administration roll back the mandate that employers provide insurance coverage for contraception based on religious freedom.  This, of course, will open the door to other discriminating changes that are also based on religious freedom, potentially rights that protect the LGBTQ community.

What does this have to do with the transcommunity?  Well, everything.

I think most of us here believe that transwomen are women.  Issues that affect cis-women are also issues that transwomen should be concerned about as well.  While it is true that reproductive issues may not affect a transwoman personally, we should be outraged when any right of any woman is denied, especially when it comes to one’s healthcare.  If we want to be viewed and accepted as women when we visit the mall in a cute dress and heels, then we must also champion for the rights of ALL women.

If the GOP wants to deny healthcare to cis-women, whether directly or indirectly, then they will not hesitate to take away the protection of transwomen.  Which brings me to my next point.

If you had any doubt that the Republicans hated us, this week also saw the Trump administration end workplace protection for the transgender community.  Unless it’s in an effort to be needlessly cruel, I do not see any point in going out of your way to take away a civil right from us.  This week was a busy week for this administration as they somehow also found time to request a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Trump’s ban on transgender people in the military.  One would think that escalating tensions with North Korea, hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico and mass shooting in Las Vegas would take more precedent than stripping away the rights of women and the LGBTQ community.

Things were going, well perhaps not well, but things were less terrible for us not too long ago.  What happened?

Love, Hannah

 

 

A Third Option

So, the gender, or rather, lack of gender, identification term of non-binary has been popping up in the media a lot more often lately.

Non-binary is the term that describes individuals that do not identify as neither male or female.  This is different than gender fluid which, as defined by the Urban Dictionary is “a gender identity best described as a dynamic mix of boy and girl.   A person who is Gender Fluid may always feel like a mix of the two traditional genders, but may feel more boy some days, and more girl other days. “

As someone who thinks about gender a lot, especially when it comes to gender roles and how (some of) society will impose, enforce and expect certain behavior and clothing depending on the gender we’re presenting as, I am fascinated by non-binary people and how society and the legal system are reacting.

California is considering adding a third gender option to their state identification cards.  Newfoundland is set to hear a case for birth certificates with a non-binary option,  and Canada will now allow gender-neutral passports for non-binary residents.

Traditionally, gender is assigned at birth, but obviously gender can change not only legally but also physically and emotionally.  Sometimes my gender can change throughout the day.  They say gender is what is between your ears, not your legs.

I am thrilled to see such progress made, or at least considered for those who identify as non-binary.  Any acceptance, legal or otherwise, is positive news for all of us who may not identify with traditional gender roles.

Love, Hannah

Transgender Ban in the Military

I am sure you all heard the news regarding our president’s tweet regarding how transgender individuals are banned from serving in the military.

Thankfully tweets are not executive orders and according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Joseph Dunford, “There will be no modifications to the current policy until the President’s direction has been received by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary has issued implementation guidance”.

Why this president does anything is beyond my comprehension, but the reasoning behind this statement relates to the financial burden that a transgender soldier would put on the American people.

First of all, this statement is not accurate.  According to The Atlantic, “The military has not historically covered gender-transition surgeries”.  The article cited goes on to explain that if the military did cover such operations, “That cost would be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually for transition-related costs, according to a RAND analysis commissioned by the Department of Defense. The group estimated there are between 1,320 and 6,630 active-duty transgender servicepeople currently. A study in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2015 put the number at 12,800 people and $4.2 million to $5.6 million, concluding that “doctors agree that such care is medically necessary.”

This would be a military health-care spending increase of 0.04 to 0.13 percent. Even in the most extreme case, it is one tenth of the annual $84 million that the military spends on medication for erectile dysfunction.

Having a world leader make such inaccurate and damaging statements is scary enough, but this perpetuates the belief that transgender people are a burden of any sort, as well as the belief that all transgender people want to transition and undergo surgery.

This is disheartening, especially when it seems to me that we have made such large strides in the last few years and a statement like this just knocks us back. There’s not much we can do to stop people with a Twitter account making such inaccurate and misleading statements, but there’s always something we can to fight back against stereotypes and hatred.

We can sign many of the petitions online demanding that any such bad would be reversed.

Although signing a petition may seem like it has little impact it is encouraging to see so many people supporting our community.

We can donate to Outserve.  OutServe-SLDN is the association for actively serving LGBT military personnel and veterans. We are a non-partisan, non-profit, legal services, watchdog and policy organization dedicated to bringing about full LGBT equality to America’s military and ending all forms of discrimination and harassment of military personnel on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

I am not making being transgender political.  Politicans are.  We just want to live our lives and not have our basic human rights diminished.  Being transgender, I believe, means being obligated to fighting back against hatred and stereotypes.  How anyone can be transgender and Republican in this political climate is beyond me.  How one can stand by an organization that, intentionally or not, makes such damaging statements is beyond my comprehension.  I know that standing by a political party is more than just its opinion on one issue, but this statement was damaging, wildly inaccurate and hurtful.

Being trans is a huge part of who I am.  I make decisions on where to eat and shop based on their stance on the LGBTQ community.  I will never eat at Chick-fil-A, for example.  Supporting an organization that has such a low opinion of who I am is not deserving of my money, my time or my vote.

Your perspective may vary.

Love, Hannah

 

 

Transgender Lobby Day

Lobby day page banner + social image

The National Center for Transgender Equality is promoting next month’s Transgender Lobby Day and needs our support.  It’s taking place on June 8th and 9th in Washington DC, the same weekend they hold their Pride weekend.

If you can go, please go.  If you can’t attend, there are ways to have your voice heard in other ways.  For example, OutFront Minnesota is urging supporters to call their Senators and Representatives.

If you go, drop me a line.  I’d love to hear about your experience.

Love, Hannah

 

Proposed Minnesota Legislation Against the Transgender Community

44 MN House Republicans back ban on transgender employees using the bathroom

From thecolu.mn

A striking forty-four Republicans have cosponsored a bill in the Minnesota House that would block businesses and other employers from providing gender-neutral restrooms or from enacting policies that allow transgender employees to use appropriate restrooms. The bill, like one introduced in the Minnesota Senate on Friday, amends the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the nation’s first nondiscrimination law barring discrimination based on gender identity.

House committee hearing set for anti-transgender bill

From thecolu.mn

HF3396 will get a hearing in the Minnesota House Civil Law and Data Practices Committee on Thursday, March 31. The committee meeting starts at 8:15am in room 10 of the State Office Building.

HF3396 is a bill that targets Minnesota’s longstanding ban on discrimination based on gender identity, enacted in 1993. It would block gender-inclusive policies at school districts and local municipalities and force transgender people to use a restroom that does not correspond to their gender — putting many transgender people at risk for discrimination and violence, according to research at UCLA’s Williams Institute.

Every once in a while, someone sends me an email where the writer says that Republican’s don’t hate or discriminate against transpeople and I think about those emails when I read articles like this.  I wonder why 44 people, Republicans or otherwise, would care if a private business offered a gender-neutral restroom.  I also wonder why anyone could vote for a law that would reverse a ban on discrimination.

I hate reading news like this.

Love, Hannah