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It’s Time for Trans Lives to Truly Matter to Us All

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Ty UnderwoodEach November LGBT centers, local groups, and churches host events for Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a single evening, a few hours, dedicated to memorializing those who were violently murdered for being transgender. Nearly all of the victims are women, of color, poor, and many likely engaged in sex work. In the United States, most are young black or Latina women. It’s a somber and depressingly impotent occasion as the needs of these women were never prioritized in life, and the crisis is largely ignored by everyone other than trans women of color the rest of the year.

Last November, Angelica Ross, a black trans woman who lifted herself up from risky conditions by learning website design and now runs a company dedicated to providing similar opportunities other trans people, spoke at Chicago’s TDOR event at the Center on Halsted. She said, “It took one Matthew Shepard for the gay community to stand up and say ‘Not one more.’ We’re losing 200-300 every year.”

For many that attend such events, it’s the only day of the year that they must confront this ugly reality. For people like myself and Angelica, who is my roommate and one of my closest friends, it’s a daily issue.

By Jen Richards – Full Story at The Advocate

Transgender People Aren’t Caricatures

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Transgender FlagPhysical pain. I’ve been experiencing a lot of it in the past week.

One of the chronic conditions that contribute to my VA disability rating of 100 percent is the lumbar area of my back. A combination of exaggerated lordosis (an exaggerated curve in the lumbar region of the spine), years of lifting heavy gas bottles and components while serving in the Navy “beat up” my lumbar region and a spina bifida (where my lumbar bones didn’t fully close around my spine) cause me to be susceptible to back aches. The past six months have found me in more pain than I have been in the last six years.

Also, I was exposed to a lot of sun during my life time, especially time I spent serving our country in the Navy. In the last few years I’ve had a significant number of precancerous growths frozen off my face, but new growths keep popping up. My VA dermatologist recommended a two week treatment of Flourouracil cream to remove the hidden growths below my visible skin, so I applied the cream twice a day to my face for those two weeks. My dermatologist told me it would leave me looking like I had leprosy – and here a week after ending the treatment my face is in pain as the facial sores from the “killing” of those hidden growths heal.

Lastly, while my face and back have been in pain, I had two root canals on two molars. Multiple medications I take to control chronic conditions cause me to have dry mouth. That dry mouth has resulted in numerous dental problems during the past three years, and that’s resulted in painful dental problems.

Authored By Autumn Sandeen – See the Full Story at LGBT Weekly

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USA: White House Held First Meeting on Issues for Bisexuals

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

BisexualThe White House held another first-of-its-kind meeting this week, this time to discuss the issues US bisexuals face.

Dot 429 reports:

Some people might see the idea of discussing bisexual issues as redundant; the B in “LGBT” does, after all, stand for “bisexual,” and legislation such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is inclusive of the bisexual community. However, the president of BiNet USA, Faith Cheltenham, told the Washington Blade, “Our community is definitely in desperate need. When we do come out, the things that happen to us are different than what happens to gays or lesbians. We won’t get promoted sometimes because we’re out and people think we’re flaky.” Cheltenham, who is married to a straight man, pointed out that many bisexuals suffer discrimination from both the gay community and the mainstream community. She also cited a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which found that sixty-one percent of bisexual women have been on the receiving end of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking due to their sexual orientation, compared to forty-four percent for lesbians and thirty-five percent for straight women.

Bisexuality gets so little coverage on both the mainstream and LGBT press – believe me, we’re always on the look-out for articles and news relating to our bisexual brothers and sisters. So it’s great to see this meeting taking place.

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After DOMA

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

DOMA OverA couple follow-up stories on DOMA and what comes next. First of, the House GOP has to decide if it will stand in the way of married same sex service members receiving equal benefits. Towleroad.com reports:

The House GOP faces a decision on Thursday and must answer whether it will continue to defend laws limiting veterans benefits to heterosexual married couples, Buzzfeed reports:

“We’re reviewing the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision, and don’t have any announcement to make at this time,” House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, told BuzzFeed on Wednesday when asked if the defense of the veterans’ statutes would continue. The day after the Supreme Court ruled in Edie Windsor’s challenge to section 3 of DOMA that the federal definition of marriage that excluded gay couples in DOMA is unconstitutional, Judge Richard Stearns asked the parties in another lawsuit, filed in federal court in Massachusetts and addressing the rights of service members and veterans and their spouses, to give “any reasons why judgment should not enter for plaintiffs in this case.”

Also at Towleroad.com, Ari Ezra Waldman looks at Kennedy’s decision in the case:

Kennedy never suggested that DOMA’s federalism problem was the source of its unconstitutionality. Nor did he ever suggest that federalism issues were irrelevant. Instead, he argued that the enormity of DOMA’s federal overreach was a cue, a hint that something fishy is going on. Because Congress went out of its way to invade state prerogatives and because it did so to place a burden on the very class that certain states had already decided to honor, Congress’s audacity was suspicious. For Kennedy, DOMA’s federalism overreach was a symptom of some disease that required further investigation. Like stomach pains, a headache, and a persistent low-grade fever: a physician does not look at those three symptoms and immediately treat for cancer or HIV or Crohn’s Disease. Instead, she sees these symptoms as cues to do more tests and perhaps determine that a common virus is the culprit.

And finally, Jamie Rubenstein at Dot429 Magazine looks at the uncertainty left in the wake of the decisions on DOMA and Prop 8. One issue:

“The question I am anticipating from clients will be ‘should we amend our prior federal tax filings?’ and this question will have to wait for guidance from the IRS,” he said. “I would expect that the IRS would allow those who were married to file amended returns from the year they were legally married including years that would have expired under statute of limitations if a protective claim for refund was filed for those years (2009 & before).” The question will be, he continued, “is whether the IRS will require married couples to go back and file as MFJ (or MFS) even if doing so would cause them to recognize an increased income tax. If they do so, then I would expect them to waive any penalty or interest since the original filings were prepared in accordance with the law at the time.”

A lot of these issues will take some time and effort to work out.

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USA: After DOMA

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

DOMA OverIn the Wake f Section 3 of DOMA being struck down by the US Supreme Court in late May, we have a couple follow-up stories for you.

First off, there are still some DOMA Cases out there that are slowly being wrapped up. Scottie Thompson at Equality on Trial reports:

Now that the Supreme Court has decided United States v. Windsor, the challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), some cases in the lower courts are beginning to wrap up; in situations where the end of Section 3 of DOMA doesn’t resolve all the issues presented – such as other immigration statutes or Section 2 of DOMA, soem cases are beginning their next stages. First, in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the case in which the First Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Section 3 of DOMA as unconstitutional, the First Circuit has issued its mandate, ending its involvement in the case. Since the judgment of the First Circuit and the Supreme Court are the same, the plaintiffs win. Issuance of the mandate in this case also means that another challenge to Section 3 of DOMA, McLaughlin v. Panetta, may continue. This is a military-related DOMA challenge in the district court, and it was on hold pending the First Circuit’s mandate.

Read the whole article for more cases and details at the link above.

Also, over at Gay City News, Duncan Osborne reports on hurdles implementing the DOMA Decision. Gay City News reports:

Some Social Security benefits and rights under copyright law operate under statutes defining marriage according to the law of the state of domicile — that is, the state that the person seeking the benefit or right lives in. Changing those could require legislation. Currently, 35 states have explicit legal bans on allowing or recognizing same-sex marriages.

Some agencies and laws, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Family and Medical Leave Act, use state of domicile to define marriage, but by regulation, not statute, so changes there could come from issuing new regulations. Some agencies have a mix of regulations and law defining marriage.

Still others, such as the Internal Revenue Service, have a longstanding practice of using state of domicile to define marriage, but no regulations or statutes requiring that so they may have to merely issue a new guidance to employees and perhaps retrain them.

It’s gonna be a rocky road for awhile while this all gets sorted out in the federal government and in the courts.

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5 Crucial Topics for the Same Sex Couple to Work Out Before Walking Down the Aisle

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

As same sex marriage is increasingly accepted on a state-by-state basis, more and more family and relationship therapists are beginning to stress the importance of pre-marital counseling for same sex partners. While there are many similarities between same sex and heterosexual couples, there are also a few key differences that make pre-marital counseling essential to prevent a same sex couple from divorcing. Same sex couples must face the challenges presented by prejudice and homophobia in addition to community acceptance and choices surrounding family structure. A therapist can help couples sort through some of these issues.

1. One issue unique to same sex couples is the inevitability of prejudice and homophobia. These outside influences can have a tremendous impact on a marriage. Some states have different stances on legal discrimination, health insurance for same sex couples and religion. These are potential boundaries that may harm a marriage if not taken into account.

2. As a couple, you must settle how “out” you want to be with those around you. Some couples choose not to share the romantic elements of their life out of concern that it will shape the way their co-workers and employers view them. Discuss your expectations about showing affection and sharing your married life with friends and family members.

3. Many couples find themselves disappointed after marriage with the amount of passion left in a relationship, often resulting from media depictions and stories from friends. All couples, heterosexual and otherwise, should discuss sexual intimacy before walking down the aisle. Couples should determine how often they expect to be intimate with a partner and express this expectation. The couple should also discuss what is to happen if intimacy fades away.

4. Same sex couples must address the issue of family acceptance and respect. Some families are still not accepting of same sex marriages, and the couple must acknowledge that getting married may change a family dynamic. Bringing these expectations as well as any potential solutions to the table can ease any tensions that arise after a marriage.

5. A therapist or counselor can help a couple discuss compatibility in terms of family structure. This is often a problem for couples of all types. It is vital to determine if the couple wants to have children and how the responsibility of caring for the children will be divvied. The same type of discussion pertains to housework, finances and working outside the home.

It is important that all couples come to therapy with a willingness to move forward and accept responsibility. Both same sex and heterosexual couples will benefit from putting forth a desire to learn more about communicating their own desirese as well as hearing those of their partner. A pre-marital counseling session can help a same sex couple strip away the potential barriers keeping the two parties from having a happy, fulfilling marriage.

Music for events in Los Angeles provides musical entertainment for events and weddings – and is happy to provide music for any same sex marriage in the area. This article was provided by Kate Johnson, who is an educator, family therapist, wife and mother who is committed to helping people get the most out of their relationships. She writes regularly at Online Psychology Degree Guide.

USA: President Obama vs. Mitt Romney on Gay Issues

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

The Washington Blade breaks down some of the most frequently cited LGBT issues and where each Presidential candidate stands.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

OBAMA: SUPPORTS: In May, President Obama ended his 19-month “evolution” and expressed his support for marriage rights for gay couples.

ROMNEY: OPPOSES: Mitt Romney has said he opposes same-sex marriage as well as civil unions that offer the same legal benefits of marriage. He’s campaigned on support for a Federal Marriage Amendment, saying states shouldn’t have different rules with respect to marriage.

Authored By Chris Johnson – See the Full Story at The Washington Blade

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Marriage Issues for Transgender Citizens

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I have been repeatedly approached lately with inquiries regarding the validity of marriages of Transgender individuals. Clearly this is an area of concern and interest about which there is not a lot of information available.

The issue is actually a lot less complicated than it would appear to be and depends a great deal on when the transition took place.

Some transgender people marry an individual of the opposite gender and subsequently undergo sex-reassignment. This results in a married couple who are of the same gender. Cases have been brought in several states including New Jersey, Louisiana, Florida, and here in California, among others, attempting to invalidate such marriages.

Full Story from SDGLN

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