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Newsletter - March 2007

MARCH 2007 NEWSLETTER

The meeting on March 3, 2007 will afford the Support Group a preview of Transgender 2007, the 21st annual conference of the International Foundation for Gender Education to be held at the Philadelphia Airport Hilton from April 10 to 15, 2007. But the Support Group will also be asked to choose among topics for a future program-and to make payments for the Spring Banquet. Some members have said that they would prefer a Spring Banquet to the traditional December Holiday Banquet. Skipping the December banquet is a little radical, but those who wish there to be Spring Banquets should come out and support the event if the group is to hold them in the future.

FEBRUARY 2007 MEETING

The Support Group was fortunate in having Terry McCorkell, President of GRAANJ (Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey), former President of the Renaissance Transgender Association, come speak on the TransEquality legislation signed into law by Governor Jon Corzine on December 20, 2006. The law will take effect 180 days from the date it was signed into law. The TransEquality bill adds gender identity to the characteristics protected by the New Jersey Law against Discrimination (NJ-LAD). GRAANJ will receive a Visionary Award for its lobbying in support of the bill at the Garden State Equality awards ceremony on March 4, 2007.

Unfortunately it is not possible to recount Terry's talk in its entirety. Terry spent a bit of time on the lobbying required for the passage of bills A930/S362. I myself went to the State House in Trenton to lobby for passage of the bills (and same sex marriage) on June 22, 2006, where I met two former members of the Support Group who were there for the same reason. GRAANJ and Garden State Equality proved to be most gracious hosts. One thing which interested me in particular about the lobbying was the importance of swaying conservative members of the state Senate and Assembly. I have run into thus problem in activism against lethal injection. The TransEquality bill would never have become law had it not been possible to convince conservative legislators of its merit.

There are two facets of the talk which might give rise to future Support Group programs if the relevant speakers could be induced to come. First, turning to the handouts accompanying the talk, interestingly many more Episcopalian clergy, 46 by my count, more than clergy of any other denomination, signed petitions in favor of granting transgender equality. A total of 137 clergy endorsed A930/S362, among them, in addition to the Episcopalians, 23 Rabbis, 13 Unitarian and Unitarian-Universalist ministers, one clergy person of unknown denomination, plus various clergy from the Congregational Church, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ endorsed the bills. Right now the Protestant Episcopal Church of America finds itself in conflict with the worldwide Anglican Communion over blessing of same sex marriages. The Anglican church in America is very divided over this issue and even over the ordination of women. Some Episcopal congregations would be welcoming, while others would distinctly not be such. It would be interesting if the Support Group could find a speaker to discuss this church's position on transgenderism. While the Support Group cannot endorse or recommend a particular creed, it would be nice to have as many welcoming congregations from as many denominations as possible for members who choose to worship. There is equally the question of whether we transgenders can help those who have assisted us. Then Terry went into the problems of asserting transgender civil rights either through the New Jersey Civil Rights Division or through standard lawsuit a private attorney. It would be nice if a civil rights lawyer could address this problem at some meeting.

It may seem disappointing that the legislation has conferred no new rights upon transgenders. But transgender rights have become what might be termed indefeasible through transgender inclusion in the New Jersey Law against Discrimination. A patent is said to have become indefeasible when, after scrutiny by the Patent Office (the ex parte hearing) and defeating oppositions from other interested parties (the inter partes hearing), the patent can only be opposed on very restricted grounds. So let us transgenders make sure that when TransEquality goes into effect in June that the newspapers report it. And let us begin to assert our rights more vigorously. What good is a patent of a device no one manufactures or markets? As Terry pointed out, transgender inclusion passed by one of the biggest majorities ever for such a bill. And as an Anglican deaconess remarked, transgenders do not pose anywhere near as many problems as same sex marriage does. There is a saying in the law regarding rights: Use them or lose them. We transgenders should become more vigorous in asserting rights we already have.

Vice President Pat conducted the Open Forum Discussion in the absence of the usual moderator, Jill McDougall. There is no report on the topic. Treasurer Ronnie Dougherty initiated collection for the Spring Banquet. Either she or secretary Judy Woods will be collecting at the March meeting. We need many more diners.

THE UPCOMING MARCH 3, 2007 MEETING

Before I delve into the program, remember that March 8 is International Women's Day. In many countries, this means that women get the day off. So let us see if transwomen can do all of the food services at the meeting in commemoration of a holiday all transgenders, whether FtM or MtF, should celebrate-and enjoy. It delights me when genetic women who know of Jennie reciprocate my International Women's Day greetings.

Second, Pastor Charles Stephens, has advised me that the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Washington Crossing, where we meet for those who are unaware of this, intends to begin blessing same sex marriages as soon as possible. There will be weddings going on upstairs in the Sanctuary during at least a portion of the March meeting. I have told Mr. Stephens that we would not come up unless specifically invited. But please do not be nervous when you arrive to see strangers in the parking lot, and that something is going on upstairs. The presence of the people involved in the weddings should be a cause for celebration on our part.

As for the program on March 3, 2007, we look forward to Stephanie Battaglino speaking on the upcoming IFGE convention and giving us a preview of her convention presentation on "Managing your Transitional Journey- It starts from within," which she will present at 2:00-3:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, 2007 at the convention itself. She may also present a workshop on the topic as part of the Open Forum discussion if the forum facilitator consents.

Judy Woods or Ronnie Dougherty will be collecting for the Spring Banquet. See the Calendar of Entertainment Events for further details, including entrees and prices. IF ENOUGH SIGN UP AT THIS MEETING, WE MAY BE ABLE TO UPGRADE FROM THE CONFERENCE ROOM TO THE GARDEN ROOM. It may be too late for this in April.

Before going into future Support Group programs, please do not forget the Sixth Annual Mazzoni Center Trans-Health Conference, to be held at the Philadelphia Convention Center at 12th and Arch Streets on April 5-7, 2007. The phone number I have is missing a digit, but you may inquire by e-mail at conference@trans-health.org. The conference is free.

UPCOMING PROGRAMS

April 7, 2007-Lisa O/Connor, M.D. will speak on transgender health issues.

May 5, 2007-Spring Banquet. Further details in the Calendar of Entertainment Events.

Inquiry for the June-July programs. Sharla DeLawter, a Mary Kay Consultant who should be familiar to members from a former program, would like member input on which of three topics they would like to see her present:

Advanced skin care. Her previous program was on skin care. She could delve into sun screens under this heading.

The new Mary Kay theories of color coordination. Mary Kay has dropped its former opposition to mixing warm and cool colors, but in return for this, many new make up colors are less contrasty. We last had a Mary Kay program on color coordination under the older scheme in 1999, given by Roberta Meluskey. A color coordination test requires removal of all makeup.

Las Vegas Legs, a Mary Kay treatment for legs, combined with pedicure for those who wish to remove their shoes and stockings. This is a very unique program, and many exhibitors do not wish to delve into nail products.

Please consider your preferences. We will take into account what she will speak on at her presentation at the Sigma Nu Rho in March, as many Support Group members also belong to SNR.

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