Welcome back from the holidays and welcome to the new year, 2007. Perhaps an aerobics class plus extended hiking would be an appropriate remedial January program for some of the serial banqueting I gather many members indulged in during December 2006. Well, these are the sorts of things members will have to arrange for themselves, and believe me I have been exercising and walking a lot for precisely this sort of reason. But I am going to say that we are going to try to have more programs in 2007. After much hemming and hawing, I finally attended a meeting of my local NOW chapter, the Alice Paul Chapter which meets in Moorestown, NJ. They combine socializing with support and education and advocacy, and we might take a step in that direction. There are two meetings to summarize, and then I will discuss upcoming programs.

November 4, 2006 Meeting

The support group was fortunate to host the annual visit of Trish Sheridan, representative of Lia Sophia jewelry. While her husband was unfortunately ill, we had the pleasure of meeting her daughter Katie. After a brief talk, members were allowed to browse the selection of jewelry which Trish brought with her, which included new items as well as discontinued items on a cash and carry basis. It is with some regret that I learned that ours is the only organization she visited in 2006.

Trish gave but a short presentation, and members were able to view the displays and make purchases while socializing and participating in the Open Forum discussion, moderated by Jill McDougall. The Open Forum consisted primarily of a discussion among three people about leg pains and Charlie horses experienced by a member who has recently begun hormone replacement therapy. Apparently this is a typical complication of spironolactone, a testosterone suppressant, or so I am told.

I have two questions. First, I asked my own personal physician (not a transgender medical specialist, though she and my former personal physician both have transgender patients) and an FtM transsexual who is initiating a transgender medical practice if leg pains occurring at the beginning of HRT could be due to unrelated causes. Both answered yes. I thereupon inquired if leg pains from unrelated causes could require immediate medical attention. Again both answered affirmatively. Is anyone other than a medical doctor really capable of differential diagnosis between harmless leg pains due to the action of spironolactone and more serious problems of other etiology? Would anyone in the support group like to stake her/his assets on a lawsuit if she/he told someone that the pains were harmless and they proved to be symptoms of a serious problem for which the person did not seek prompt medical attention due to the advice that the pains were harmless? I am surprised noone asked why the member did not consult the prescribing physician. I have the impression the hormones were not from the street in this case, but asking the member why she was not seeing the prescribing physician would to my mind outweigh any benefits of trying to play doctor. Let us hope that the street medicine era of transgenderism fades into the past.

Second, no one else could intervene in the discussion. A genetic woman tried to intervene and was ignored. Well, I have had chronic hyperestrogenemia of unknown etiology from time to time, but that does not make me an expert on estrogen. I suppose merely having estrogen in her body likewise does not make a woman an authority on the female hormone-but a woman cannot participate in a discussion of estrogen?! Does taking estrogen make a genetic male more of an authority on this subject? In any case, I have had complaints when individuals or groups of two or three monopolize the Open Forum. Members who must watch in silence feel intimidated, as I did. I was silenced, too.

It seems that those who want to conduct discussions with restricted participation should retire to the Forum Room before the program or remain in the Crossings Room after it. No one is saying two people cannot advise a third on any type of problem, but if others are to be excluded, but then maybe the three should go off by themselves. If a group monopolizes the Open Forum, it can promote divisiveness. The Open Forum should be just that, open, and foster diversity. We are a non-discriminatory transgender organization. Members should experience and even confront different outlooks in socializing, at programs and in the Open Forum. People should learn to get along with those of divergent attitudes. The Open Forum should also not shut out educational and cultural activities, such as films, which do not conflict with its allotted time. Whoever says it would does the support group no service. No one ever said tolerance would be easy. But if we meet the challenge, it will enrich our transgenderism.

December 2-Holiday Banquet

We had a full house for the 2006 Holiday Banquet, held in the Conference Room on the second story of Diamond's Riverside Restaurant, an abode well known to most support group members. Unfortunately in fact 23 people showed up for a room designed to hold 22. One group member found a guest at the last minute. Too bad we were not dining in the Garden Room, which we never seem to be able to fill. Unfortunately the member and her guest found that they would have to wait 1 ½ hours to dine in the main dining room, and left for New Hope. The room was a little chilly for while. The heating was not functioning, and attempts to plug in space heaters led to repeated tripping of the circuit breaker. Once the leak in the window with the air conditioner was plugged, the blast of cold air was eliminated, and body heat warmed the room. We enjoyed the evening so much that we have scheduled the spring banquet to be held on May 5 for the same room.

News Flash

On December 19, 2006, Governor Corzine signed into law the bill passed by the state senate and assembly guaranteeing transgender nondiscrimination. The Support Group's thanks go out to GRAANJ and Garden State Equality.

Upcoming Programs

January 6, 2007

Since I have found nothing better, and no one has rushed forward like a white knight to save us transdamsels in distress from the dragon (trans too?) of my earlier proposed program, I will give a short presentation on Amnesty International's Stonewalled: Police Abuse and Misconduct against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in the U.S. The talk will be designed to make the work-and Amnesty's work-accessible to members-who, I suspect, may not have read the former, and may not know much about the latter. Amnesty promised to send a speaker two years ago. Never heard boo. Since I am an Amnesty International member, so I will speak. Otherwise I fear we will never hear the promised talk.

February 3, 2007

NCTE, the National Center for Transgender Equality, says transgender organizations should seek to influence the media perception of ourselves. Hopefully we can further that end by showing a recent transgender DVD. I will seek to arrive early so we can start it even as early as 7:30, at the latest at 8:00. Should not interfere with the Open Forum Discussion. Those not wishing to see the DVD may retire to the room where the Open Forum is held to socialize.

March 3, 2007

Open. Am considering a Mary Kay representative. Proposals welcome.

April 7, 2007

Lisa O' Connor, MD, has agreed speak on a subject to be determined in greater later. Lisa is a post-operative transsexual who has developed a largely transgender practice.

May 5, 2007

Spring Banquet in the Conference Room (though we may upgrade to the Garden Room) at Diamond's Riverside restaurant. Watch Entertainment Events for further details.