There’s a nice piece in today’s New York Times about how gender identity is protected more and more these days, leading to smoother and smoother transitions for trans* people.

Here’s a snippet — go and read the whole thing when you get a chance:

Across the country, particularly at larger companies, transgender workers are being protected and assisted in ways that were hardly imaginable a few years ago.

And although this little piece is not in the business section or the news section, but instead appears in the Life and Style section, it’s a mistake to ignore it, especially when it comes to arguing for non-discrimination language in our own firms, universities, and other organizations. I know from talking to my university administrators that statements like “This Fortune 500 company protects transgender workers” have an impact on them, so I keep these little fluff pieces to use as small arms fire in the bigger battles.

From: Martin, Hyacinth
Sent: Tue 7/1/2008 10:19 AM
To: Bailey, George
Subject: Journal-Record story?

Dr. Bailey,

My name is Hyacinth Martin. I’m a reporter with the Bedford Falls Journal-Record. Various people have contacted us recently, telling us that you’ve had gender reassignment surgery. If you’d be willing, we’d like to share your experience with our readers. Please let me know if you’d like to sit down for an interview. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Hyacinth Martin
Bedford Falls Public Affairs Reporter

Setting aside the motives of the “various people [who] have contacted us recently,” I figured Hyacinth needed a reply, and I was reminded of the advice given to me by Mara Keisling in January regarding publicity of any sort as I wrote the following reply.

Hyacinth, thanks for your invitation, but I don't think an individual's transition is newsworthy, so I'll have to decline. I mean people have been doing this by the thousands for decades all over the world. And most of the "human interest" stories that newspapers do about these people don't really get into what's interesting, preferring to stay with the surgical story, or the make-up story, or the "how hard it's been to lose everything" story. Most transsexuals are productive members of society -- lawyers, doctors, professors, authors, truck drivers, journalists (like Christine Daniels of the LA Times, in sportswriting, no less) -- and the real story for them is the fact that they finally got the albatross off their necks, dealt with their awful depression and shame, and then moved on to continue treating patients, arguing court cases, writing news stories, driving trucks, raising kids, participating in democratic America, and a million other productive things. That's the big story -- the transition story is only the flash of change from one state to another.

If the Journal-Record is interested in these types of stories, there's a lot happening in the transgender world that's distinct from the so-called GLBTQ umbrella, like the very first congressional hearing of all time on workplace discrimination towards transgendered people, just last week: http://nctequality.blogspot.com/ (videos at http://www.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=NCTEquality). Or the fact that of the Big 12 universities, 2 (Kansas State and Iowa State) have added gender identity to their EEO non-discrimination language, but Bedford Falls University has not. Or the fact that Bedford Falls has a statistically-expected transgender population with fully-transitioned transsexuals working all over the place and closeted transgendered people meeting in support groups and church groups (just as you'd find in Denver or Detroit). Or the really big story -- Bedford Falls isn't some rednecked backwater where diversity is ridiculed (which is what everyone else in the state thinks) -- in fact, its citizens are kind, tolerant people and this city is as good a place as any to be a transsexual -- because what you are (and people get this, I think) really isn't Transsexual, but a professor or lawyer or engineer with an interesting past.

I'm not against telling my story, and I'd be happy to have a beer with you and Kiera and other friends off the record, but it honestly isn't the most interesting story out there, but just a little footnote to much bigger and more interesting things.

Yours,
Joyce

In the March issue of Denver’s community magazine 5280, meet a local family that is raising a little girl born in the wrong body:

http://www.5280.com/issues/2008/0803/feature.php?pageID=1017

It’s a thoughtful, balanced, and well-researched piece, which is more than I can say for this piece of hurtful trash, also from the Denver community press, the GayZette Denver (reported on at Lynn Conway’s website):

http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/News/US/Gayzette%20defames%20trans%20child.html

Just when I think I have it tough, I read remarkable stories like these. She’s so strong and courageous at her early age — and I’m so fearful and cowardly and late-to-the-party that it’s hard to imagine we belong to the same gender spectrum.

Good Morning America did a segment about Megan Wallent, the Microsoft executive who recently transitioned from male to female. The comments on the story are pretty harsh, as is the commentary on the story by Newsbuster’s website, among others.

I myself am reminded of how blessed I am to have friends and family who are supportive, but I’m also curious, in light of these nasty letters and similar ones trashing Susan Stanton a year ago, whether my choices reveal me to be as egocentric and monstrous as the letter writers believe Wallent and Stanton to be.

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