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Supreme Court Turns Away Kentucky Clerk Who Turned Away Gay Couples Wishing To Marry

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to delay a federal court order Monday that effectively requires a Kentucky clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to gays and lesbians within her jurisdiction.


The court's one-line order offered no explanation for its response to Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis.


Around the time Davis filed her plea with Justice Elena Kagan on Friday, the federal judge who initially ordered her to not enforce her "no marriage policy" against gay couples declined to put on hold his own ruling to that effect, according to BuzzFeed News' Chris Geidner.


Absent an extraordinary move by Davis on Tuesday, she would seem to have no other option but to comply with the judge's order.



In her emergency petition with the court Friday, Davis argued that her "conscience forbids her from approving" marriage documents for gays and lesbians "because the prescribed form mandates that she authorize the proposed union and issue a license bearing her own name and imprimatur."


Lawyers for Davis had argued in court papers that if she couldn't be accommodated based on her religious objections, "then elected officials have no real religious freedom when they take public office."


After the Supreme Court ruled in June that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) -- who was a losing party in that case -- ordered state clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to all couples without regard to sexual orientation.


But Davis refused time and again, even in the face of a federal lawsuit against her and an order from U.S. District Judge David Bunning telling her to comply. Last week, an appellate court told her that she had "little or no likelihood" of winning on her religious-freedom claim.


"I hope Ms. Davis will resume issuing marriage licenses tomorrow not just to our clients but to everyone who is eligible under the law," tweeted Joe Dunman, a local civil rights attorney who was also involved in the case the Supreme Court decided in June.


Despite the Supreme Court's refusal to intervene in Davis' case, her dispute remains alive in the court system: She remains free to challenge the merits of Bunning's decision before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. 

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01
Sep
2015

Transgender Awareness Training: A Business Essential

We have already reached the tipping point for transgender people in society and are quickly moving beyond it into new, uncharted territory. One seemingly cannot read a newspaper or magazine or turn on the television these days without encountering some mention of the transgender phenomenon. Caitlyn Jenner nearly broke the internet when she publicly revealed her gender realignment. Laverne Cox is winning awards for her acting. Janet Mock is appearing regularly on television news and current affairs programs. More transpeople than ever are coming out and making themselves visible to the world. There has never been a time in history when information about the transgender phenomenon was more readily available.

Due in no small part to this increased interest by the public, gender diversity in the workplace is an issue whose time has come. Over two thirds of the Fortune 500 companies now have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity and/or gender expression. These successful companies are not adopting such policies because they want to be nice -- they're doing it because they recognize that inclusion for gender diverse employees is a beneficial business strategy that works well on a variety of levels. In today's war for top talent, such a strategy can help create a significant competitive advantage in the areas of recruitment and retention.

However, even for companies with strong Diversity & Inclusion programs, there is often an information gap around the issue of transgender in the workplace. As with most complex issues in today's society, education is the key. There are many reasons why transgender awareness training is becoming a must for today's businesses. Here are a few of those reasons.

• The business case for transgender inclusion is strong and irrefutable. In order to be more effective in their work, employees need to understand 1) why this is so and 2) what the ramifications are for their organization. Effective transgender awareness training can help to educate them about this newly emerging business reality.

• Employers should be aware that the visible presence of transgender employees in the workplace is becoming increasingly commonplace. Global business expectations are shifting accordingly and organizations need to be appropriately responsive.

• In the United States, recent federal initiatives make employers directly responsible for the ways in which their organizations treat gender diverse employees. Violators may potentially face legal action.

• The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will actively pursue alleged sex discrimination cases based on transgender status and gender stereotyping. Violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act are being taken seriously by the federal government, and associated litigation is increasing.

• A Presidential executive order has been issued that bans discrimination against openly gay or transgender federal employees and government contractors.

• All employees deserve to be able to ask questions, voice potential fears and concerns and engage in meaningful dialogue about the issue of transgender in the workplace. Awareness training can provide such an opportunity in a safe and respectful environment that is conducive to learning, growth and enhancement of an organization's culture. Also, an effective training situation will offer valuable information about the scope and complexity of gender diversity as a social phenomenon that is receiving increased attention. The results of such initiatives often include improved morale, teamwork and overall productivity.

• Top management as well as HR and legal professionals need to be informed about the existing and emerging business implications of the transgender phenomenon. Certainly, organizations need to ensure they are in compliance with the law. Companies also need to respond effectively to changing public perceptions, new marketing trends and shifting business expectations.

• Transgender awareness training allows an organization to actively demonstrate its commitment to diversity in its workforce, to inclusion in its work environment and to respect for each individual. By offering such training the company is effectively stating that it values every employee's contributions and intrinsic human worth. In fact, the organization places such important on these principles that it is willing to devote time and money to educating its people about this emerging workplace trend. Efforts like these almost always result in improved morale and enhanced internal branding among the company's workforce, which is conducive to a stronger, more cohesive organization overall.

A knowledgeable, experienced, professional transgender consultant/trainer can provide lasting value through the sharing of insights and factual information from a unique and personalized perspective. This creates a memorable opportunity for the organization's employees to learn about the benefits of gender diversity inclusion from a qualified expert. Equipped with accurate information and effective tools, these employees can then return to their jobs better prepared to meet the challenges of a changing marketplace and an evolving work environment.

A company's own internal trainer can potentially do a good job. However, and primarily because of their status as a recognized expert, an outside transgender awareness trainer may do a better one. The ultimate goal is the creation of lasting value through an enhancement of an organization's culture. An effective consultant/trainer will ensure that the goal is met and, if at all possible, surpassed.

The world will continue to change and the business community must continue to respond to those changes in effective ways. New information will arise to inevitably impact society's expectations. The emergence of the gender diversity phenomenon is creating a need for companies to become more aware of the inherent challenges and opportunities created by this significant new social development. The key to success in this leading-edge area of business interest is education, and that is why transgender awareness training can be extremely beneficial for today's organizations. That is also why such training can help provide significant competitive advantages for companies that wisely choose to educate their people about transgender in the workplace. Finally, that is why transgender awareness training has become an essential initiative for businesses that seek to be more successful through a strategy of intentional inclusion for gender diverse employees.

If your organization is in need of transgender awareness training and/or transgender consulting assistance, please contact Vanessa via www.vanessasheridan.com.

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31
Aug
2015

My Transgender Life: (R)evolutionary Love

Every moment is a fork in the road.
The road you take will shape your future.
Choose love over fear.
- unknown source



You may know that I spent some of the last six years teaching/facilitating Driver Alcohol Education classes for First Offender Drunk Drivers. I always liked teaching the week 13 class the best. I started with the question:

"Is stress good or bad?"

Some answered yes, some no, while others wanted to know if it was a trick question. All of those responses were valid! The truth is, stress is good up to a point. It improves "performance" but as we all know, too much stress will have the opposite effect. This is shown in the graphic below.

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The obvious question comes up -- why is this so? As I try to explain, it will lead me into what I really want to share with you this week; something I believe can change the way you live your life, something that is about your very own survival!

...


As I have grown, and learned to accept change within the outside world, and myself, my thoughts on the meaning of survival have also changed or what you may say "evolved." Ever since 1859, when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, we have learned that the survival of species is dependent on how well a species adapts, or evolves to handle all the threats to life that are constantly present in their environment.

It makes no difference to me whether you believe evolutionary or creationist theories as how the universe works. What I have come to learn is that the function of "stress" -- the beauty and the rush of adrenaline, and cortisol running through our bodies is to prepare us for survival from perceived threats in our environment. I am sure we all know that the immediate "stress" response is "Fight or Flight" witch has only one purpose -- survival!

However I began to question what survival of the species really meant to me as an individual. What did survival mean to me, when I spent so much of my life on "high alert" and hiding my truth? I was never very far from a stress response and ready to fight (verbally for me) or run away from people, dare they ever find out that I was not what I appeared to be. The levels of stress I was feeling internally for decades was ever so slowly taking its toll on being in relationships first and learning how to truly enjoy my life.

I could not understand why the survival of the species required me to hide, to be on constant alert and why this was useful to me as an individual.

In 2007 I read an incredible book that was published in 2001 -- A General Theory of Love by T.Lewis, F. Amini, and R. Lannon that changed my world. They elegantly, eloquently and clearly show how an individual's health and brain growth -- in effect the individual's survival, is dependent on relationships and relatedness, and that as human beings the need to be in relationship with others is part of our physiological evolution! Our emotions, our feelings, our connections with others and our need to be and live who we really are, are all part of our survival needs! In effect, they teach that love has a physiological basis for survival.

Some of us know how good it feels to be held, to be touched, to be cuddled. I am not talking about the culmination of intercourse and orgasm here, but rather that gentle and loving bonding brought by that other hormone -- oxytocin, that does it work slowly and without the rush of adrenaline. It was a pleasant surprise that slow and long lasting love is actually required for survival.

I started to look at survival in a different way. Stress was clearly needed for the clear and present dangers, but love is needed for long-term growth and survival. It was kind of that head-slapping moment for me. The revolutionary idea that I could live my life operating from a place of love more than from a place of stress all the time, began to change my life. Perhaps living my truth was the best way for me to survive! In a sense, over the past eight years I have become a revolutionary and changed the most basic way I live my life.

...


As a transgender woman who hid my truth for over fifty years, I well know what it is like to choose the path of fear believing that was my only path for survival. I am lucky that choosing to live in my true gender was not my only transition. I have learned to choose the path of love at every fork in the road I face.

Transitions come in many flavors. Some transitions may be simple and we think of them as an organic change or just simple evolution. Sometimes we are not even aware of these transitions. However, many transitions occur because we see them as our only path for survival. The path of fear will drive us to fight or fight or freeze. I have learned that there is always another path to survival and that is the path of love; loving yourself first, and then everyone else. For many this concept is revolutionary. To me, (R)evolutionary Love was my choice for survival.

I offer it for your consideration; it might work for you too!




###


Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace is available for speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and Gender Variance Education and Training. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .

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31
Aug
2015

Transgender Healthcare Equality (VIDEO)

Healthcare access issues for trans people are largely overlooked -- often because healthcare isn't a sexy topic for the media, but it's an increasingly important part of the LGBTQ movement. Transgender people in particular rely on healthcare and medical support just to live as who they truly are. This film highlights the current issues trans people face in obtaining quality healthcare in America.

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31
Aug
2015

Transgender Cinderella: A Man, the Stroke of Midnight and Genitalia

Once I was living as female, but before sex change surgery, my dreams were bounded by what I came to identify as the Cinderella Syndrome. I loved to go dancing, since on the dancefloor I could sink into the beat and movement around me. Men would come and go, drifting toward me and away, and sometimes closer and closer until we were dancing with our hips together. I felt the heat of their breaths upon my skin and the beads of sweat on the back of their necks as I ran my hands along their spines and floated up into a kiss.

But I always dreaded what I sought most: a moment of intimacy. At that point my coach would turn back into a pumpkin and my gown would disappear in an instant.

When I was studying abroad in Leiden, Holland, during law school, I met a handsome Italian whom I'll call Adriano. At a get-together with other students, he stared across the room at me the whole evening. I tried to ignore what was happening, to no avail. I could not sustain conversation with whomever I was talking to. After a few minutes I got up to leave; but he intercepted me. The next thing I knew, I was in a conversation with him, trying to catch the breath he was taking away.

Adriano was tall and broad-shouldered, with curly dark brown hair and clear golden brown eyes. He spoke fluent English with a slight Italian accent. He had recently decided on law as an undergraduate major. He had the opportunity to come check out the Netherlands and thought he'd take the adventure north to broaden his mind. Basically, he was perfect.

And, it turns out, he had been waiting to talk to me for weeks. He lived in the same student housing and had seen me coming and going through the courtyard.

"I was going to leave you a note," he said, "but I wasn't sure which mailbox was yours."

Terrified that this exchange might lead somewhere, I said goodbye and vanished.

The following afternoon, I was walking across the courtyard with my laundry, when there he was, having materialized sitting behind a window downstairs.

"Come here," he said, curling his finger back and forth.

We chatted a bit -- he said he was just hanging out and "munching" on peanuts, which prompted me to wonder how many Americans would know the word for munching in any language other than English -- and then it came: "What are you doing tonight?"

"I'm going to Amsterdam," I said

"Hmm. Can I come?"

That night we rode my bike to the train station. He insisted on pedaling, and I sat on the metal storage rack over the back wheel. It was September in Northern Europe, and so the day had grown dark and even a little chilly by the time we departed. Leiden was quiet and the canals twinkled with reflections of lights from the streets and houses nearby. I lay my cheek on his shoulder blade, closed my eyes, felt the muscles of his back move as he stood up to pedal over a bridge and tried to savor a moment from fiction, it seemed.

In Amsterdam we went to a bar that I'd discovered, which had a wide cushioned bench hidden in the back. It wasn't long before we were lying next to one another and making out.

Overhead, an exposed light bulb shone and threatened to douse the mood, so I stood on the bench, leaned over the doorway and unscrewed it.

"Hard movements," Adriano said. "Sometimes the way you move is ... a little hard."

They notice the details, these guys, they're always watching every little thing, I thought. I remembered the other Italian I kissed in Amsterdam two months before, a scraggly young man who, as he snuggled next to me inside my tent in the pot-smoked campground where we met, raised his eyebrows when I yawned wide and taught me to cover my teeth with my lips like a girl.

During the train ride back to Leiden, I kept turning away from Adriano to stare through the window at the nighttime outside. He was trying to hold my hand, and sometimes I let him, then I would withdraw.

The bike ride back to our student housing was not the same as before for me. I often say that I never know how a man is going to react to a discussion about my past -- and my genitalia -- and it's always true at the beginning, I never do. Yet at some point I will have an intuition. I sense it, and just know.

Adriano was all over me the moment we stepped in the door. My heart came apart a little as I placed my palms on his chest and drew away.

"I have something to tell you," I said. "Can we just sit down for a minute?"

We sat on the edge of my bed, a miserable excuse of springs and plastic that only a college dorm room can get away with. He took my hands in his and looked at me with such earnestness that I struggled to speak.

"What's wrong? Are you on your period? It doesn't bother me, really."

I laughed.

"Really."

I lifted my hand to his cheek and smiled.

"No," I said, "it's very different from that."

After I told him, he bolted up and looked down at me in rage.

"You're a man?" he shouted.

"No, I'm trying to explain --"

He tightened his fists. I thought he was going to hit me.

But he didn't. He just turned around and left.

I cried myself to sleep that night. My dreams had come true: I got to be Cinderella for an evening with a dashing young Italian man who was the cutest one in a room of so many others. The experience was beyond anything I had dared to imagine.

But greediness had spelled the end. I had stayed past midnight to dance a little longer with Adriano, which I should never have done. I had lost track of the ground while soaring through the sky. It was glorious, until everything fell apart. My gown had turned to rags, and I was covered in soot.

*


Zoe Dolan is a trial lawyer and writer. This blog post is excerpted and adapted from her book There Is Room for You: Tales from a Transgender Defender's Heart.

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31
Aug
2015

Rentboy Raid: the Stonewall for Sex Workers?

-Co-Authored by Derek J. Demeri, South Jersey Regional Director of the New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance

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Monica Jones and supporters protest the profiling of transwomen of color and ordinances against street solicitation in 2014. (c. Facebook)

On Tuesday, federal police in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security raided Rentboy, a male escort advertising website, arresting the CEO and 6 employees.

The raid took place on #blacktransliberationTuesday, and less than a week after leading US LGBT advocacy organizations announced support for Amnesty International's recent stance on the decriminalization of sex work, a vote that happened the week before.

The timing is unique. So too is media coverage, with many drawing parallels to earlier raids on gay bathhouses and gay communities, some journalists, advocates and sex workers calling the raid on Rentboy the "Stonewall of Sex Work."

The parallel is poignant, especially given one the arrested individual's recent critique of the whitewashing of transwomen of color and sex workers from the Stonewall narrative. Many in the community wonder: Perhaps this raid is the pressure point of mounting attacks on sex worker communities, and, like the raid on Stonewall Inn, perhaps the raid on Rentboy.com happened at the right historic moment, to the right people and will bring about a similar movement.

"The Right People."

2015-08-30-1440951342-7762879-7414415462_ffee40e275_m.jpgBy that, we mean something both positive and problematic. The right people, means the "good guys." Rentboy is not a pimp. Nor a trafficker. It's not even an "escort service" or "prostitution ring," as it's been called by website after website -- Rentboy was a fairly priced, well-designed and well-run classified ad site for male adult entertainers.

The right people also means people who invested in and were well-regarded by LGBT, harm reduction, free speech and adult work organizations and communities. Rentboy.com, more so than other adult advertising sites, was a community-based institution. It offered college scholarships to advertisers. Its' staff partnered with and promoted LGBT and harm reduction organizations and communities, like Hook Online. Rentboy.com was well-regarded by its advertisers. It was an attack that was felt as a loss by diverse adult worker, LGBT, harm reduction and sexual freedom communities that they positively impacted, an attack that even the broader public could see as nothing but repressive, unproductive harm.

2015-08-30-1440951461-1250611-7414411752_c0386190e9_m.jpgIn a press release drafted by several male adult workers, one mentions: "Rentboy.com is more than just an ad site for adult entertainers. They put a lot of time, effort and resources into harm reduction, learning about rights and resources. I've advertised with them for 7 years. Thanks to rentboy, I've had a roof over my head and food in my belly because of work I consensually chose." Danny Cruz, male sex worker, Los Angeles.

Yet "the right people" also means something problematic. It also means a group of adult workers the putative center is most likely to empathize with and listen to: male, indoor, grey-area adult workers. A group that, due to gendered stereotypes about sexual agency and vulnerability, is immune to the contorted trophe of sexually disgraced, home-wrecking, soul-and-body-sold kittens in need of rescue that cis-and trans-feminine sex workers are so frequently depicted through.

2015-08-30-1440951774-1230465-7742095058_63032b1e42_m.jpgLet's be clear: nobody has questioned the reasons why rentboys entered this line of work. Nobody has fantasized about ways they can help them have a "normal" life. Nobody has called them a neighborhood nuisance or drug addicts or pontificated on the presence of a controller in their life. Nor should they. But compared to non-male identities, the discourse in the Rentboy.com raid aftermath has been a unique "privilege" granted to indoor male sex workers, one that we need to extend to all sex workers -- of all genders and races -- working in all circumstances.

This is not to criticize the origins of solidarity with sex workers. It is flooring to see the unprecedented level of solidarity for sex worker rights that so many activists have been working towards for decades. More than statements of support, it is moving to witness the ability of mainstream journalists and advocates to recognize the historic oppression and criminalization of their own communities in the aftermath of Rentboy.com's raid. Whatever the origins of this support, empathy and humanization of sex workers, this is a powerful moment.

2015-08-30-1440951861-1495327-7414412476_6b3c267c57_m.jpgWhat is concerning though, is that some of this support has been accompanied by an undercurrent of differentiation and selective solidarity: "It doesn't match what is happening in other cases." Queer Voice publisher Derrick De Lise told the New York Times.
Or, in a Daily Dot Article: "Rentboy.com is nowhere near the size of Backpage or Craigslist, both of which have a history of hosting prostitution ads that were later linked to trafficking and violence..." The diversity of Rentboy advertiser experiences mirrors those of Backpage, Craigslist or MyRedbook, so why the differentiation?

2015-08-30-1440961078-2453662-NoJusticeproject.jpgAgain, we need people to recognize and work to end the historical forms of oppression in which female-identified and street-based sex workers do not control the conversation about their activities. This selective solidarity -- at it's extreme, becomes Lena Dunham's concurrent anger over the leak of Conde Nast CFO's alleged same-sex escort triste while ardently supporting the criminalization of clients for female-identified sex workers.

If this is the "Stonewall" of sex work, let it not be the aftermath of Stonewall where a privileged minority colonizes and benefits off the work of society's "others." In this historic moment, we cannot whitewash trans and cis-women, people of color and outdoor workers out of the conversation. Without the centuries worth of organizing, political work and courage many had to live openly, the positive support and solidarity that many have for Rentboy.com today would not be possible. As history unfolds, hopefully the outrage we feel now will build momentum for a movement that brings about change for sex workers of all genders, in all contexts.

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Body photographs taken in 2012 at the International Aids Conference and during protests in support of Backpage.com in New York City. Credits: PJ Starr

Photograph of Deon Haywood at early 2009 "No Justice" campaign strategy meeting. Haywood and Women with a Vision's campaign repealed Louisiana "Crimes Against Nature Law" that made soliciting oral or anal sex punishable with Sex Offender Registration and retroactively removed hundreds from the registry. Credits: www.wwav-no.org

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31
Aug
2015

I Tried to Beat the Anxiety Algorithm

I'm lying on the floor of a public bus in San Francisco's bustling mid-market corridor. I'm not sure how I ended up with my head rolling over a crumpled Starburst wrapper, but I am acutely aware that I can't breathe and my hands and face have gone completely numb. I instinctively look down, honestly unsure if my hands are still attached to my body. As two paramedics board the bus, I feel that sinking feeling in my chest -- the feeling when you hope the earth opens up, swallows you whole and you disappear. I start apologizing, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I don't know what happened." The paramedics, as always, are gently taking my vitals, asking for my name and telling me those dreaded words, "we think you had an anxiety attack."

Until about a year ago, my understanding of "an anxiety attack" was a brief few moments of panic, generally accompanied by chest tightness, clamminess and sweating. But when I started regularly passing out in public places, I realized that my previous understanding was of anxiety in its infancy -- the younger, tamer cousin of the fully developed anxiety beast that I would spend the next six months battling.

I started experiencing anxiety in July, but I didn't know what it was. I felt the physical affects -- chest pain, stomachaches and constant fatigue -- but the mental side of it, the side that actually recognizes anxiety, hadn't started. For months I fretted over the growing pain in my chest, worrying that I was developing asthma or a serious heart problem. I went to the doctor, but I was in perfect health. Offhandedly, the doctor mentioned it could be anxiety, and advised me to exercise more.

At first, the idea that I was experiencing anxiety seemed crazy. I showed all of the signs of a perfectly happy person -- I exercised almost daily, I had a good job with strong performance reviews, I was making new friends through a new improv comedy group. But as the physical symptoms got worse, the lens through which I saw my day-to-day experience started to shift.

I ran from my house to Ocean Beach almost every morning. When I didn't run, I spent the whole day beating myself up about it: How will your anxiety get better if you are not exercising? Why aren't you more motivated? At work, I felt I was never doing enough. I woke up in the middle of the night to check my email -- even if my inbox was zero -- or worry about whether or not a project I had recently finished was truly "good enough." Every day was about beating the person I was the day before: Today, I'm going to get more done than I did yesterday. I'm going to be the last one at the office so people don't think I'm not doing enough. Anxious thoughts swirled through a world where I had to constantly prove myself -- a demand that only I was making.

When I saw a psychiatrist, he asked, "So, what is making you anxious?" I was furious. If I knew, I would not fucking be here. By that time, I had been to the emergency room four times after having anxiety attacks that had rendered my limbs completely numb, my hands frozen in contorted positions and my eyes rolling around directionless in their sockets. I wasn't seeing a psychiatrist to talk about my feelings. I just wanted answers.

Though my anger at my psychiatrist quickly faded, his question led me to an important point of discovery: my anxiety was wedded to deep-seeded, anger-inducing guilt. I had a wonderfully supportive family, an extremely thoughtful girlfriend and a meaningful job that paid all my bills. I felt strongly that I had absolutely no reason to experience such extreme anxiety, and burdening my family and friends with what seemed like my own failure to appreciate my privilege and relative success both infuriated me and made me hate myself. I was in a horrible cycle of self-criticism, and I had no idea how to get out of it.

For several months, my daily routine shut down. Riding on a bus seemed like running a marathon. I cut out all caffeine. Friends escorted me in Lyfts to my doctor appointments just in case I passed out (ER bills add up, so I was adamant that I would not be getting in another ambulance even if I did pass out again). Slowly, my chest pain got a little better. I traveled to D.C. for work in April and was sure I would not make it through the trip without ending up in a hospital -- and my anxious brain had already crafted what would soon happen: I would embarrass myself, get fired, lose all of my professional contacts. I made it through the trip without any serious attacks, and even if I had ended up in an ER, none of my fears would have become reality -- I worked with great people who would have been very supportive. But anxiety doesn't live in reality.

Now, almost a year since my first anxiety-induced emergency room visit, I don't have a perfectly satisfactory answer to my psychiatrist's question, but I'm developing a clearer picture of how my anxiety develops. For many people, anxiety is chemical. No matter how many ways we attempt to explain away our anxiety, the bottom line is that our brains are not wired like other brains, and it makes us feel horribly self-critical when we're asked to overcome our anxiety -- the same way a disabled person might react if asked to "just try harder and climb up those stairs!" Some things just are not possible.

For the parts of anxiety that can be controlled, I'm learning that everything comes down to loving yourself. As a transgender person, self-criticism feels built into my DNA. I've spent 24 years feeling like I didn't belong, couldn't relate and didn't understand some of the most intrinsic parts of my peers' identities. Feeling like you are completely not fitting in from a young age creates self-hatred that does not go away with a few shots of testosterone (though hormone-therapy helps many of us feel more comfortable in our skin).

As a trans person, as a hyper-anxious person and as just a fucking person in our incredibly stressful world, I've found that the most important daily exercise I can do is to look at myself in the mirror everyone morning and say "I love you." Even if I don't really believe it that day.

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31
Aug
2015

9 Outrageous Things Donald Trump Has Said About Latinos

Donald Trump’s affront against the Latino community reached new heights last week after Mexican-American journalist Jorge Ramos was forcibly removed from the presidential candidate's Iowa press conference. But it wasn’t the first time Trump has offended Latinos.


His anti-Latino remarks have cost him several business partners since the launch of his campaign in June, including NBCUniversal, which aired Trump's reality show "The Apprentice" and co-owns the Miss Universe Organization. Several prominent figures in the Latino community have also spoken out against Trump; actress America Ferrera and singer Ricky Martin published scathing op-eds condemning Trump’s actions and rallying Latinos to unite against him.


Even though only 18 percent of Hispanics take Trump seriously as a presidential candidate, the Republican has vowed that he “will win the Latino vote” if nominated.


If Trump wants to win the Latino vote, he might want to learn from past mistakes. Here are 9 of the most outrageous things the presidential candidate has said about Latinos.



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31
Aug
2015

South Dakota Legislator Proposes Genital Inspection For Transgender Athletes


A strikingly backward proposal could force high school athletes in South Dakota -- particularly those who are transgender -- to submit to a visual inspection of their genitals before they participate in a sport.


State Rep. Roger Hunt (R) plans to introduce a measure that would effectively deny trans high school students the right to determine their own gender identity, according to an Aug. 23 report from the Rapid City Journal. Instead, for schools' purposes, a student's gender would be determined by whatever it said on their birth certificate, and by the results of a "visual inspection," the RCJ reports.


“This is South Dakota. We haven’t adopted the East Coast culture. We haven’t adopted the West Coast culture. We maintain our own culture,” Hunt reportedly said. He also asserted his belief that gender is determined at conception.


It's not clear whether Hunt's measure would apply only to public high schools in the state, or to grade schools, middle schools and/or public colleges as well. Hunt did not respond to The Huffington Post's request for comment.


The move comes about a year after a coalition of lawmakers first voiced their disapproval with a hugely progressive move for trans youth by the South Dakota High School Activities Association. The HSAA declared last year that in the case of high school sports teams segregated by gender, trans students could choose which team they would play on, guaranteeing “participation for all students regardless of their gender identity or expression."


As expected, the decision has attracted some pushback. State legislators have tried to overturn the policy twice, according to ThinkProgress. Earlier this year, state Rep. Jim Bolin (R) said it had been a "significant error" to pass the policy, arguing that it "essentially question[s] the validity of birth documents."


Last week, the South Dakota HSAA board decided to keep most of the policy in place after calling a meeting to address the mounting backlash, the Associated Press reports. The group made small concessions to the policy's critics, including the establishment of an "independent hearing officer” to evaluate trans students’ applications to participate in activities. But the fundamentals of the policy were kept intact.


Hunt was re-elected to the state legislature last year with 4,601 votes. If passed, his measure could affect all public high schools in the state.


Only 13 states and the District of Columbia, along with some cities and school districts, have laws that protect trans students from discrimination, according to The Washington Post.


 


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31
Aug
2015

Josh Duggar’s Rehab: Welcome to the Dark Ages

The Josh Duggar headlines holler HYPOCRITE and LIAR. No surprise as that's what addictive behavior breeds an abundance of -- lies, hurt, drama and yes, trauma, but Duggar's not alone as the Ashley Madison data hack continues to steamroll through Evangelical Christian leadership rolls. As the spokesperson for a conservative Christian organization, Duggar's double-life adds to the intrigue like some soap opera storyline. Yet the reality of treatment for a sex addict means stepping into the 21st Century, not rehashing voodoo Christian approaches that cause more harm than good like the spot Duggar has been admitted in.

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If reports are to believed, Josh now finds himself Reformers Unanimous waking up at 4:30 a.m. each day, smack dab in the middle of a Christian "rehab"/prison camp, where drinkers, druggers and Duggars are lumped together in a PRAY IT AWAY program treating alcoholics, drug addicts and those with sex addiction.

With no doctors on staff, and zero clinical team available to patients, Duggars will work through four workbooks over the next four to six months and prayerfully work to rid himself of unholy thoughts, feelings and behaviors...all the while working eight to 10 hours a day at a job the rehab gets a paycheck for.

Like some mental health asylum from the 1930's, Reformers Unanimous blames abnormal behavior on a litany of sins and thoughts, all the while working to cast Satan out of patients' trousers. According to their online sales claims, clients enjoy an "80% SUCCESS RATE!"

Shame on them. I'd like to cast the lies right out of them! Crummy, abusive, outdated treatment is never the answer.

I should know something about this sort of unholy rehab as it runs in my family. Back in 1984, I was sent to this sort of unholy terror cell to get rid of the "homosexual" living inside me. A "demon" was ostensibly "cast out" of me and my britches several times, only to return with a vengeance. I survived clearly, and today am a happily married man (married to a fella, 'natch), with a lovely meaningful life.

My family truly believed I had some sort of evil spirit inside of me.

It was a similar thing with my grandmother, Enid Elaine Ball, who in 1936 or so was checked into the Oregon State Mental Hospital against her will for postpartum depression and anxiety. She stumbled out of OSMH 40 years later having had a lobotomy, and lived in a half-way house until she died a few years later, alone. That version of rehab did everything BUT rehab her.

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While I am sure Enid was treated with good intentions beginning in 1934 and like I was in 1984, so too will Josh be treated now in 2015 by folks who think this way is a sound approach to the madness. But it's a lie.

The notion of "sin psychology" has been abandoned for decades by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association, yet drives these tragic approaches to behavioral health that should go extinct.

Why do people choose rehabs like this?
1) They're desperate for help and
2) Old beliefs die hard

I wonder if the Duggars were paid to place Josh there at Reformers Unanimous? I wonder, too, how long faithful followers will continue feeding off of, and holding fast to, an 80 percent success rate promise that's a lie?

I know this, it is high time we exit the past, and help those we love get real treatment, treating real problems with science, even while viewing each one as a beautiful unique spirit.

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31
Aug
2015