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Newsletter - February 2008

FEBRUARY 2, 2008 NEWSLETTER

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. Lee Ann will present a paradigm of transgenderism from suffering to relief

A NOTE ON FOOD AT MEETINGS

If we cannot afford food at meetings, we will either drop it or raise dues. One person has volunteered to bring the hoagies for the February 2, 2008 meeting. The good news is that shopping at Save-a-Lot markets can reduce food costs at meetings to $20.00. The food we ate at the January 5, 2008 meeting came from a Save-A-Lot market. Wawa hoagies and MacMillan cake make sense if a lot of people come.

WEBSITE PHOTOS

The Webmistress has suggested that photos relating to Support Group activities might make the website more attractive. The practice of posting photographs of members on restricted websites was discontinued in 2002 when the risks of such postings became apparent, particularly after one photograph posted on the website could have led to the identification of a former Support Group officer. I was at that time Vice President. I was asked by then President Rachelle Houston to develop a policy for publishing photos taken at Support Group events, which policy was finally adopted during my presidency in 2003. The policy stipulates that publication requires a signed model release for all persons appearing in the images (model release forms are easily available at many camera shops), and that all images must be approved by the Board of Trustees prior to publication. Hopefully this policy will reduce or eliminate the risk of unwanted recognition, and will eliminate the intimidation that photography at Support Group events formerly generated. Members who consent to having their photographs posted on the website, most likely in group images to reduce the chance of identification, and are prepared to sign a release form to indicate such consent, may contact board members.

JANUARY 2008 PROGRAM

Support Group member Grace Goode gave a fine presentation on transgenderism in the Hindu Vaisnava poets of India at our regular meeting on January 5, 2008. Her talk was supported by a series of excellent color PowerPoint slides which covered the origins of Vaisnava transgenderism in Krishna's relationship with the Gopis, or milk maids, who were his primary followers. Krishna's relationship with one Gopi in particular, Radhu, involved cross dressing and role reversal. True male adherents of Krishna must become women like the Gopis to be able to submit to Krishna in the manner of the Gopis and to be able to exercise the requisite devotion toward the divinity. Non-transgendered males-and women-are unable to achieve full religious devotion toward Krishna. For information on cross dressing among male worshipers of Krishna today and historically, as well as for information on prophets who defined Vaisnava transgenderism, consult Grace's website www.transpiritual.com.

Hopefully in the future it will be possible for clergy from Christian, Jewish and Unitarian denominations and communities who signed the petition for transgender non-discrimination legislation in New Jersey to give programs at our group. Such groups practice the toleration they preach. For some denominations, toleration may be considered a religious experience in itself. But the Vaisnava tradition is an example of a religion where transgenderism is an integral component of worship. Only transgenders can achieve certain religious experiences, or in the case of the Vaisnava, full devotion to the deity. The purpose of the programs is to provide information on transgender heritage, and not to proselytize or convert. Like cross gender acting in drama, religions in which transgenderism is a basic component of either religious devotion or religiously inspired tolerance comprise an essential element of transgender history and culture, which we should promote and maintain to educate the public and ourselves.

UPCOMING PROGRAMS

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. We must decide at the February 2008 meeting whether we would like to:

Hold a buffet like the one we did on December 1, 2007;

Go to a lower priced restaurant, such as the Town and Country Diner in Bordentown;

Go to a higher priced restaurant, like Erini's, the Sergeantsville Inn or the like; or

Cancel the meeting.

Please come to the February meeting with an opinion on what you would like the Support Group to do in May. It would be tragic to have to cancel the meeting for lack of interest. Whatever we choose, it would be better to start preparations months in advance.

Jennifer Mae Barnes, President

January 29, 2008