Here’s to the American Dream Tuesday, Jan 10 2012 

Posted by my friend Sabrina Pandora on her Facebook

Here’s to the American Dream

I’d like for this to see some circulation, folks, so if you could repost it and ask that it be passed along, I would very much appreciate it. Maybe if enough people read it then maybe someone might be held accountable for these sort of things, and it might save someone else from the same fate.

When I met Wendie Goers, she was just beginning her gender transition, and amongst the advice that I gave her, I warned her that in order to finally gain possession of her own soul and be true to herself, she would have to be prepared to lose everything. How true that advice has proven to be today.

I lost my job in early 2009, and she lost her job in mid 2009. We both set to hunting work with a fervor, making our daily job to seek out opportunities to get us back into the workforce. She fretted and worried but I reassured her… something would give, someone would hire us. We were intelligent, motivated and experienced- sure, we were a little unusual, but that wouldn’t put people off in a tolerant city like Atlanta.

We worked, we chased, we hunted… and we failed. We drained our savings, we drained our retirement, we drained our nest egg, we sold everything in sight and traded like fur trappers on the Mississippi. We kept other folk’s spirits up, fed the hungry that came to our door and did our best to be a haven for those in need and for those whose circumstances were poor- after all, that’s part of the American Dream. Take care of people and be good folks, help out here and there, do what you can… part of what makes America great, and what makes Atlanta such a nice city. We kept at it and kept at it, all the while with me reassuring Wendie that something had to give eventually… and I was oh so terribly wrong.

I think my favorite ‘opportunity’ was the one where it came down to Wendie or the other candidate for a job with An Unnamed Workshop, and they decided to hire the other candidate (with the possibility of Wendie getting contract work). We later found out that the other candidate had lied extensively about her skills and experience, which Wendie had not… and of course, Wendie was never contacted for contract work ever, nor even reconsidered for the position, never contacted… hell, they couldn’t even be bothered to reply to her inquiries. In the end they apparently rehired the person who had quit and just gave them a big old raise instead. It beat hiring a tranny I guess. You know what those people are like, after all. They put people off and scare away customers.

So that brings us to our current topic- our beloved and embattled home. Wells Fargo financed Wendie’s purchase of our home back in 2005, when she put 20% down and bought into the idea that this was a ‘transitional neighborhood’. If that transition meant ‘from bad to worse’ then that description was accurate- the original note for the home was $189,000. Today it is valued at $40,000- how’s that for a transition?

Now, if we’d been smart, we would have seen the writing on the wall when we first became unemployed, realized that we were now unemployable by virtue of being middle-aged transwomen in Atlanta and just walked away from the mortgage, let it slide into bankruptcy and used the money we still had at that point to just buy a foreclosure elsewhere free and clear and been better off for our trouble. But instead we played it straight. We believed in the American Dream. We held out hope for change, kept at it and slowly burned through every resource we had.

Finally in 2011 we got a break and an idea… if we could go back to school, then we could get loans and grants and that could help keep us afloat while we learned a trade. Cosmetology is a career that is historically open and embraces ‘alternate lifestyles’- or as we liked to put it, “Let’s get into a field where nobody cares that we’re big girls with deep voices!” Then we got more good news- Wells Fargo had a mortgage assistance program that could get our payments lowered, and if we qualified, we could get our mortgage payment lowered for good! We were still sinking, but we were treading water like champions now. All we had to do was make it out of school and we would have trade skills in a field that would embrace us, and more importantly, hire us. We could do this!

Or not.

First we got our bit of news from one of the preeminent salons in town, who pointed out that while effeminate gay men are always in fashion with moneyed women, transwomen never will be, and they wouldn’t ever consider hiring us… and they weren’t alone. Our dream of a new career took a hit, but we persevered. We could make it work… we could just work within the gay community, because we didn’t repel them; or at least, not as much as so very many of the straight community.

Then came the notice that not only had our mortgage assistance program run its course; great, were we approved for a new payment structure? Hahaha! Not only were we not approved, we now owed even more than we had been ‘assisted’ for over that six month period. So either pay Wells Fargo five grand plus right here and now or we foreclose… wait, what?!? Can’t we appeal? Sure, feel free. Don’t expect Wells Fargo to respond though. Is there someone else we can speak to?

Nope, it has to go through the one guy handling your case who doesn’t want to talk to you, return your calls or acknowledge any paperwork that you send in. Well, if we can scrape them together can we at least make regular mortgage payments for now? Nope, your payment option is frozen until you pay us… wait, six grand and change now, all in one lump sum. No, wait, scratch that, we’ve decided that we’re just going to foreclose on you. Oh, and don’t expect much communication about it either… here’s a month’s notice to get out of your home, and be grateful for that.

Now, I am not a businesswoman, obviously. So I do not understand the intricacies of mortgage financing… particularly the part where refinancing the home to keep a couple who has clawed and struggled to hold on to a home in a terrible DMZ of a neighborhood, who have watched the value of the home plummet lower and lower, who have braved drive-by shootings and muggings on their doorstep to try to hold on and turn the neighborhood around is not preferable to simply dumping the property.

See, here is Wells Fargo logic at work. If they can take a loss on the remaining $140,000 of this note- which they will, oh boy will they- and force us to default, then they can sell the house as a foreclosure on the courthouse steps. Let’s see, according to the Fulton County tax assessor’s figures, on the average that means that this house should sell for about $10,000. Yup, ten grand, leaving $130,000 for them to write off (though they did collect fifty grand from us in the seven years we’ve been here).

Is that how they paid their bailout money off?

And then the house will likely be bought by an investor who has never set foot in this neighborhood (nor will they) who will just as likely turn what was once our home into Section 8 housing… at least, after the repair all of the damage that will occur as soon as we aren’t here, like replacing the AC unit and furnace the locals will steal for copper, the refrigerator they will steal outright, the gutters they will tear off for the aluminum… it is a lot like watching locusts attack a farm crop, really.

I know, you think I am exaggerating… sadly, I am not. There is a reason almost all of the AC units in this neighborhood have cages welded around them.
So here we are, still trying to get out of school- hey, the congressional cut to the grant program really helped too, America, thanks for that. So much for helping out with the bills. We got a little money, but finding out it was going to be cut right in the middle of our scholastic career was a winner for sure. And now after all of this we’ll lose our home, the nearby property values will decline that much more, and we will be out on the streets with severely damaged credit after all of our savings has been poured into a home that is no longer ours.

I’d like to tell you that through all of this I still have optimism, that I still have hope. I would like to tell you that this story will have a happy ending and that a miracle will come along and save our home, and let us keep our little house in the ghetto that we’ve worked so hard on to make it a nice place, where we were going to build a salon in the garage so that we would be able to give ourselves jobs in a field that apparently isn’t very fond of us, but at least might support us. I would like to say that I still believe in the American Dream- that perseverance, doing the right thing, working hard and being good honest people still pays off.

I’d like to say that, but damned if it would be very convincing through all of the tears.

Call to arms-DSM-5 revisions and their negative impact on the TG/TS community Monday, Jun 6 2011 

This is from the Pink Essence group, but it’s something we should all be concerned with. 
By Kelley Winters, PhD 
May 28, 2011

On May 5, the American Psychiatric Association released a second round of proposed diagnostic criteria for the 5th Edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These include two categories that impact the trans community: Gender Dysphoria (formerly Gender Identity Disorder) and Transvestic Disorder (formerly Transvestic Fetishism).

While GID has received a great deal of attention in the press and from GLBTQ advocates, the second transvestic category is too often overlooked. This is unfortunate, because a diagnosis of Transvestic Disorder is designed to punish social and sexual gender nonconformity and to enforce binary stereotypes of assigned birth sex. It plays no role in enabling access to medical transition care for those who need it, and it is frequently cited when care is denied.

I urge all trans community members, friends, care providers, and allies to call for the removal of this punitive and scientifically unfounded diagnosis from the DSM-5.
The current period for public comment to the APA ends June 15.

The entry in the current DSM on Transvestic Disorder, like the former entry on Transvestic Fetishism, is authored by Dr. Ray Blanchard of the Toronto Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (formerly known as the Clarke Institute). Blanchard has drawn outrage from the transcommunity for his defamatory theory of autogynephilia,
asserting that all transsexual women who are not exclusively attracted to males are motivated to transition by self-obsessed sexual fetishism.

He is canonizing this harmful stereotype of transsexual women in the DSM-5 by adding an autogynephilia specifier to the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis.

Worse yet, Blanchard has broadly expanded the diagnosis to implicate gender-nonconforming people of all sexes and all sexual orientations,
even inventing an autoandrophilia specifier to smear transsexual men.
Most recently, he has added an “In Remission” specifier to preclude the possibility of exit from diagnosis.
Like a roach motel, there may be no way out of the Transvestic Disorder diagnosis once ensnared.

What You Can Do Now

1. Go to the
APA DSM-5 website, click on “Register Now,” create a user account, and enter your statement in the box.
The deadline for this second period of public comment is June 15.

[NOTE: Safari may not load that web page. Use Firefox or another Browser instead]

2. Sign the Petition to Remove Transvestic Disorder from the DSM-5,
sponsored by the International Foundation for Gender Education.

3. Demand that your local, national, and international GLBTQ nonprofit organizations
issue public statements calling for the removal of this defamatory Transvestic Disorder category from the DSM-5.
So far, very few have.

4. Spread the word to your networks, friends, and allies. for More Information

Cross-posted with additional comments at the
GID Reform Advocates Blog.

How low can you go? Pretty damed low. Thursday, Apr 30 2009 

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R. NC) on the murder of Matthew Shepard:

The truth about Matthew Shepard’s death is unquestioned. He was not a victim of a robbery; he was murdered because he was gay. Matthew Shepard was lured by two men into their car, driven to a remote area, pistol-whipped, tortured, then tied to a fence and left for eighteen hours before he was found by accident. In a coma, he died days later.

One of Matthew’s killers pleaded guilty; the other was convicted. Both are serving live without parole terms in prison. The Wyoming legislature-which did not have a hate crimes bill-passed one in response to the killing. A bill-the Matthew Shepard Act-extending hate crimes as a federal offense to gender and sexual orientation-has been stymied in the past but was up for a vote in this Congress.

Which is when Rep. Foxx opened her mouth.

To say that Matthew Shepherd was not killed because he was gay is a lie. The facts in the case prove it. To make this statement in front of Matthew’s mother-who has had to suffer the loss of her child-is cruel and insulting. Rep. Foxx reveals herself for what she is-a homophobic bigot.

The Matthew Shepherd Act passed the House yesterday 249-173, and is up for consideration in the Senate.

TransGriot: Why The Transgender Community Hates HRC Wednesday, Nov 7 2007 

When your GLB friends ask why transpeople have issues with HRC, show them this:

TransGriot: Why The Transgender Community Hates HRC

Why the T in LGBT is here to stay | Salon Thursday, Oct 11 2007 

Why the T in LGBT is here to stay | Salon

An excellent explanation why certain gay people need to get a clue when it comes to why transgendered people need to be part of ENDA…