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Newsletter - November 2007

NOVEMBER 2007 NEWSLETTER

As most if not all of you know, the Support Group will hold a meeting on Saturday, December 1, 2007. The meeting will not be held at our regular meeting site. Though the site is situated within a motel, since another area support group regularly meets there, we may not disclose the location on this website. Judy Woods, Support Group Secretary, will send it out with the meeting announcements. Others will have to use the links provided on the website announcement. We will order out for food on the basis of the number of persons appearing. Since part of the purpose of the event is raise funds to reduce the deficit caused by the need to take out liability insurance, the price per person will be $20.00.

PREVIOUS MEETINGS

AUGUST 2007 MEETING

August is the Support Group anniversary meeting which means officer elections. The incumbents were reelected at the August 4, 2007 meeting, specifically Treasurer-Ronnie Dougherty, Secretary-Judy Woods, Vice President-Pat Cross and President-Jennifer Barnes.

SEPTEMBER 2007 MEETING

Vice President Pat brought a projector, enabling us to view a short movie on transsexualism, What Sex Am I? which she brought with her to our meeting on September 1, 2007. There was not sufficient time to view a full length feature film as we had hoped. The Open Forum Discussion, led by Jill MacDougal, focused upon problems raised in the film, specifically upon suicides, as well as other problems. Pat has purchased a projector for herself, obviating the need to use church monitors.

OCTOBER 2007 MEETING

Trish Sheridan of Lia Sophia Jewelry made her annual visit to the Support Group at our meeting on October 6, 2007. Trish offered a fine array of discontinued items (cash and carry) as well as new items. She neglected to tell us that she is Lia Sophia Regional Manager for New Jersey.

When I began setting up programs in October 1998, most of the speakers transgender support groups could rely upon were vendors. Fortunately this situation is changing, but just a few years ago, we would largely alternate between program-free meetings and visits by electrologists, wig consultants, cosmeticians and the like, and few others would come. Over the years, vendors have come and gone, but Trish's visits remain a favorite at several area support groups.

NOVEMBER 2007 MEETING

Terri Fasano, former Support Group member, and Open Forum Discussion Group facilitator up until the beginning of 2005 returned to give a combined program and Open Forum Discussion on her journey to feminism at our meeting on November 3, 2007. The first part of her discussion touched upon her meteoric rise within NOW, the National Organization for Women, to Executive Vice President for NOW New Jersey. She then delved into aspects of her own transition through sex reassignment surgery, focusing particularly upon the hardship of her divorce from her wife and her upcoming civil union with a woman. Terri also dwelt upon her conversion to the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church is currently embattled with the worldwide Anglican Communion over the issue of the ordination of gay priests. Forty-five Episcopal clergymen signed petition in favor of transgender anti-discrimination in New Jersey, the largest representation by any denomination. The presentation merged from a talk into an open forum through the extended question and answer period.

Two civil union ceremonies took place upstairs in the sanctuary on November 3, 2007. The evening group was kind enough to send us left over pastries from the reception. Let us wish both couples all the best.

UPCOMING PROGRAMS

JANUARY 2008

Support Group member Grace Goode will give a presentation on transgenderism in the Hindu Vaisnava poets of India. In some religions, transgenders were not just tolerated. Transgenderism was part of the religious experience. In Bengal (currently divided into West Bengal, a Hindu province in India, capital city Calcutta, largest democratically Communist government in the world, and Bangladesh (literally Bengal), East Bengal, a Moslem nation, capital Dhaka), medieval male Vaisnava poets became brides of Krishna, who ministered unto the goddesses Durga and Kali. For information on the Vaisnava elsewhere in India and on transgenderism as part of the ritual in other cultures, see Grace's website www.transspiritual.com for more details.

FEBRUARY 2008

Former member Lee Ann Etscovits will give a presentation entitled, "The Transgender Journey: An Experimental Roadmap" at our meeting on February 2, 2008. Ms Etscovits, a post operative transsexual psychotherapist, has spoken to the group before on her poetry and on therapy. She authored the column, "Making Sense of it all" in the Renaissance newsletter Renaissance News and Views. This the first visit by a psychotherapist in several years, possibly the last since a program by Aviva Nubel, R.N. back in 2002.

MARCH 2008

Alan H. Schorr, Esq, of Alan H. Schorr & Associates, PC, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, has agreed to speak on civil rights litigation at our meeting on March 1, 2007. Mary Ellen Burns, an associate with his firm, is representing me in a housing discrimination case. She may speak in his place if Mr. Schorr cannot attend. With the coming of transgender anti-discrimination into force on June 17, 2007, a transgender is faced with the choice of pursing an anti-discrimination case though the New Jersey Civil Rights Division or through a private attorney.

APRIL 2008

Cerise Richards, M.D. will speak at our April 5, 2008 meeting on Brain Gender and Identity, followed by a power point presentation on Why we are who we are. Ms Richards, a cross dresser, is a former medical school professor and surgeon who has retired to New Hope, PA. She authored the column "Trans-World Med," discussing medical issues, in the Renaissance magazine Transgender Community News. This program is part of a series of talks designed to acquaint members with area physicians. Unlike Drs. O' Connor and McGinn, Dr. Richards is a cross dresser-and retired.

MAY 2008

Rental chair Jane Shafer has led me to believe that we will be regularly meeting offsite in May and December (sounds like a civil union or marriage, almost) due to church activities. Of course, we can handle the situation on May 2, 2008 exactly as we are handling it for December 1, 2007. But if members wish to do something a little different, might I raise the following issues?

First, how many people can we realistically expect to come? We need greater attendance not only at banquets but at regular meetings if we are going to survive financially. I am not able or willing to subsidize the Support Group in the manner of SNR. We cannot even think of firehouses unless we can get at least 30 diners, formerly possible, at present way out of sight.

Second, do members feel "socially accepted" only if they dine at a highly priced restaurant in rather formal attire? I started dining out en femme in 1999. I do not feel a need to legitimatize myself when I appear en femme in public. In fact, though the exquisite food has been enjoyable, I became skeptical of the prices a while ago. But I really wonder if this has been the source of some complaints about Diamond's-and more recently why some felt uneasy about dining out at the Town and Country Diner. I was trying to help members by staying at Diamond's for as long as I could where we could obtain good food at reasonable prices in a good atmosphere with excellent service without having to rent changing rooms. Was this a mistake? Do members feel a need to pay a lot so as to appear to fit in with the wealthy and educated? Some of us are educated, some not, but a lot of us face employment discrimination. In other words, I am trying to ask if we could eat at an establishment like the Town and Country Diner in May. Is there a danger of being recognized, or is it rather we who might have to accept that we are not so economically well off by eating there, and we feel uncomfortable there for that reason?

Third, can members live with restaurant policies which permit the eating establishments to offer superior food at lower prices? I refer to the problem of latecomers. Most restaurants which offer low prices will do so only if they receive full diners lists in advance. If we cannot abide by these rules, we should be prepared to pay-through the nose.

Lastly, are members willing to help and cooperate in setting up the May banquet? When I joined NOW, they immediately offered me work on the Program Meeting Set Up Committee. Ever see the movie Jungle Fever where the males just sit around until the woman of the family comes home to fix supper. Just sit around helplessly. If we want to be women, part or full time, now is the time to start acting it. Too many times in both this and other support groups, when board members approach members about pitching in and helping, members suddenly announce they have conflicting fun activities and stop coming. I set up banquets for past Presidents Sue Wright and Rachelle Anderson Houston. No one is getting any younger, and unfortunately my health is not what it used to be. So I need people to assist me as I assisted Sue and Rachelle. And as a corollary, are members willing to cooperate in the sense of not making collecting for banquets like pulling teeth?

There will me more, but I wanted to get this up right away.

DO NOT FORGET. NOVEMBER 20 IS TRANSGENDER REMEMBRANCE DAY, even though it was celebrated earlier on November 15 at Princeton due to Thanksgiving..

Hope you all had a good Happy Thanksgiving.

Jennifer Mae Barnes

November 24, 2007