Monday, December 28, 2009

New Years Restitution

I sit here listening to one of my muses, Sarah McLachlan reflecting back upon last year. It has been truly an amazing year. I've endured some hardships, challenges and victories. Nothing compares to the serenity I received when body and mind were made whole. I'm grateful for many things, yet this is one of the greatest.

In the last year, I've said hello to new friends and old school mates. I've said goodbye to old friends and newbies in recovery. I've come out to my children and gain new hope for the future and opened the door to new fears. I've worked with new sponsors and left old ones. New jobs and new responsibilities have been placed at my feet. Old habits have been kicked and new good ones started. Almost nothing in my world is as it was 12 short months ago and I cannot say how much of it will still be the same in the next 12.

I'm really looking forward to the growth and opportunities my life will present me each and everyday. I finally feel at peace and ease with myself for the most part. The little things I might still lament are those items I see as manageable, goal oriented points which I am now resolved to set a course for and work on achieving.

So, in order to hold myself accountable to these, I will proceed to lay them out here.
  1. Set and stick to a budget - I have always worked with a very loose "cash & carry" form of personal finance which works when cash flow is good. However real long term planning ands savings are ignored.
  2. Start voice lessons - I had several idols in the entertainment industry as a small child. One was Rich Little. The man could do any voice and I tried to emulate him for a long time. Now I need professional assistance to help me get my true voice.
  3. Complete facial hair removal - I have laser hair removal and it cleared 95% of my facial hair. It is now time to rustle up the "outlaws".
  4. Go full time - This is an old one. For my friends, they tell me I'm the last one to realize I've already gone full time. They see my so called guy mode and say, "You're almost passable. I could almost believe you are a guy" However, the legal stuff needs to be ironed out and so I set this as one of my goals.
  5. Start an exercise regimen - I quit drinking 4 years ago and I kicked smoking twelve months back. I want to start yoga again and really need to budget time than money.

I don't expect to achieve 100% of my goals nor do I believe that's the true objective of setting goals. I believe it will strike fear at the heart of apathy and thereby ignite my passion for change.

2010, heres to you!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Letter to Maryland's Governor O'Malley

Martin O’Malley, Governor
Office of the Governor of Maryland
100 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1925

December 15, 2009

Dear Governor O’Malley,

We are deeply concerned that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is considering moving backwards in policy related to obtaining accurate identification for transgender Marylanders. If adopted, the proposed MVA policy for gender designation changes would move Maryland from having a policy that generally works to provide transgender people accurate identification (albeit not an ideal policy), to becoming one of the worst states in the country, with a policy matched only in regressiveness by those in Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.

This move is at odds with current trends in state licensing policies. The proposed policy would require transgender Marylanders to provide a changed birth certificate first. If born in Maryland, they would need to hire an attorney and appear in court to establish specific, intimate and highly personal facts concerning their medical treatment in order to obtain a corrected gender designation on a driver’s license or state identification card. Generally speaking, in most states including Maryland, sex reassignment surgery is required to change one’s birth certificate. And, in most states, a transgender person would similarly have to hire an attorney to go to court to achieve this change. Furthermore, this will be especially burdensome for individuals born outside Maryland, many of whom will be required to file a legal action in a court thousands of miles away. Compliance will be impossible for individuals born in states such as Ohio, Tennessee and Idaho, which refuse to provide corrected birth certificates for transgender people under all circumstances.

The current MVA policy allows people who are living full-time in their new gender, yet who have not yet had relevant surgeries but intend/desire to, to have a provisional gender marker change. A permanent gender marker change is granted when proof of surgery is provided. This policy has been in place for several years, and there is no indication that any problem has arisen with its administration. This policy is slightly more restrictive than current policies in the District of Columbia, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and most recently Ohio. Each of those jurisdictions allow gender-marker change upon living full-time in a person’s new gender and people are able to get an updated ID with even a less burdensome showing than the current Maryland policy requires (there is no requirement that a person has to intend/desire relevant surgeries). These policies meet the needs of license-holders, law enforcement and other government agencies, are fully compliant with the REAL ID Act, and represent the overwhelming trend in current state policies today.

We are particularly troubled by this proposed change in policy because of the potentially devastating effect it would have for transgender people in every aspect of daily life. Recent national survey research conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force indicates that this policy would result in the overwhelming majority of transgender people having identification that is inconsistent with their appearance. Under the proposed MVA policy, more than 80% of transgender women would be listed as “men” on their licenses, and as many as 95% of transgender men would be listed as “women.” Having the wrong gender on one’s license “outs” transgender people in any situation where they need to show a license— in bars and restaurants, during routine traffic stops, and while filling out forms for employers. This violates the privacy of transgender people and puts them at risk for discrimination and bias-motivated harassment and violence. Furthermore, having the wrong gender on a person’s license needlessly complicates the work of law enforcement and other agencies that need to quickly and accurately identify individuals.

The current policy meets the State’s need for accurate identification and protects Maryland citizens’ privacy and safety and complies with the REAL ID Act. We hope you will take appropriate and prompt action to ensure that MVA retains its current policy regarding gender designation changes.


Morgan Meneses-Sheets, Executive Director
Equality Maryland

Cindy Boersma, Legislative Director
ACLU of Maryland

Matt Coles, LGBT Rights Project Director
ACLU (National)

Emily Hecht, Senior Legislative Counsel
Family Equality Counsel

Sarah Warbelow, State Legislative Director
Human Rights Campaign

Shannon Minter, Legal Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights

Harper Jean Tobin, Policy Counsel
National Center for Transgender Equality

Rebecca Fox, Executive Director
National Coalition for LGBT Health

Lisa Mottet, Transgender Civil Rights Project Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Alice Kennedy, President
Stonewall Democrats of Central Maryland

Michael Mitchell, Executive Director
Stonewall Democrats (National)

Michael Silverman, Executive Director
Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Turn and Face the Strain

I want to start out my wishing congratulations to two of my friends, Elaine and B. Elaine took a trip out to Scottsdale AZ and B a trip to San Francisco. I wish both of them a speedy recovery. I've know Elaine for over 3 years. The journey she has taken has been unfolding before my eyes. With B, our friendship is less than a year old, but equally as wonderful.

As with most things in life, I find comparison of myself in relationship to events which transpire around me. As I see these two women writing another chapter in their story, I ask myself, " What chapter are you on?

For so long I merely existed , days into weeks, weeks in years. My life was a series graffiti painted walls strewn about. No table of content, forward, let alone any cognitive chapters describing the path I wander. Of writing I knew not. Handicapped by a reading disability, I forsook any attempt to express myself through chirography, let alone into text open to the public.

I cannot say what day this changed, or what directly caused it. It just happened. The fact that I care to put pen to paper and let out all that's inside is a miracle. We are as sick as our secrets, and I was terminal. As I grow in comfort with completing that therapy, I have come to learn many a thing about myself. Yet most of all this.

I fear change.

Not the nickels and dimes in the cup holder of my car. Not the fresh sheets on my bed, although that does become a chore. Security, serenity, comfort, ease, peace, knowingness, and consistency are good things. But so are growth, improvement, diversification and transition. Transition is not my goal, but reclamation is.

n. restoration Synonyms:improvement, recovery, recycling, redemption, repossession

I like that. Improvement, recovery and redemption. I now know my journey has been one of reclamation and not transformation. I'm not seeking to be something or someone I previously was not, I'm merely seeking to reclaim who I am. Reclaim from whom or what? From a society which said it was wrong to express myself in my natural way. From my peers who said I was weak or queer for identifying myself as I am. From myself and the fear I faced.

What does change have to do with this? I look to change the way my mind is closed to ideas new to me. I look to change the way I perceive life. Nothing has changed, yet nothing is the same. Externally life is still life. The sun rises and sets. Life renews itself. Am I? Do I renew myself on a daily basis or do I allow the tracks of time guide me through the same path?

I look to change the chapter of my life to Chapter Two: The Awakening

I said that time may change me
But I can't trace time