Tuesday, April 30, 2013

South Carolina Equality announced the introduction of H.4025: “The Workplace Fairness Act” at a press conference at the State House

Today the leaders in the fight for equality, released a press release and action alert to the LGBT community and our Allies. This bill will ensure equal protection across South Carolin in employment and is "gender identity" inclusive. This means to the Transgender community this bill is for you as much as it is our Gay brothers and sisters and I urge you to take the time to sign up for SC Equality's Action Alerts, find your local State Legislagtors, take 5 min. to call them and give your name and support for (H.4025) The WorkPlace Fairness Act. That's all that is being asked to help yourself, your friends, your bar buddies, your fellow trans sisters and brothers to have a more inclusive life in the state of South Carolina.

Below is the Press Released today by Ryan Wilson, Exedcutive Director of SC Equality, followed by their Action Alert where you can sign up to recieve updates on the bill and a link to find your local representatives who need to know you exsist.

It's your turn LGBT of South Carolina, are you here? Are you ready for your day in the sun of equality? Aren't you ready to be free? Then tell them now.
Sabrina Samone, TMP
For Immediate Release: April 30, 2013
Ryan Wilson, Executive Director, SC Equality | ryan@scequality.org |  (803) 256-6500
(H.4025) The Workplace Fairness Act introduced in South Carolina's House
 Bill would extend current employment laws to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender South Carolinians
Columbia, South Carolina – On Tuesday April 30, 2013, South Carolina Equality announced the introduction of H.4025: “The Workplace Fairness Act” at a press conference at the State House. This bill will ensure equal protection across South Carolina in employment adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to existing employment laws. H.4025 is sponsored Representative James Smith, a democrat from Richland County.
Despite 40 years of progress and acceptance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, no state or federal law protects LGBT citizens from discrimination in the workplace. South Carolina Equality assisted with the drafting and introduction of H.4025 – “The Workplace Fairness Act” to ensure equal protection in employment regardless of one's sexual orientation or gender identity. A similar piece of legislation, "The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)" was introduced at the Federal level on Thursday, April 25, 2013.
"All hardworking people in our state should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance," said Ryan Wilson, Executive Director of South Carolina Equality. 
Representative James Smith, who introduced H.4025, stated “The Workplace Fairness Act is really about protecting South Carolina’s diverse workforce to make it competitive for businesses that are looking to relocate to South Carolina. We want more Fortune 500 companies and more jobs in South Carolina; passing this bill will align our state laws with the employment policies that many companies already have.”
Nearly all Fortune 500 companies nationwide as well as major employers around the state such have already extended employment protections to LGBT people because they know it's good for recruiting talent and growing the bottom line including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Computer Sciences Corp., BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, FedEx, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chevron, Home Depot, Target and Pepsi.

“During three decades of practicing employment law, I have witnessed the tragic consequences when excellent, hard-working employees have been fired simply because they are gay or transgender.” said M. Malissa Burnette, Esq., who is a Certified Specialist in Employment & Labor Law and chair of the board of SC Equality's legislative efforts. “This amendment would give all South Carolinians a fair chance to earn a living without fear of losing their jobs regardless of who they are or who they love,” she continued.
South Carolinas Equality is a non-profit organization with the mission to secure equal civil and human rights for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender South Carolinians and their families, and has a vision of a South Carolina where everyone is equal. Contact Ryan Wilson at ryan@scequality.org or visit www.scequality.org.
Ryan C. Wilson, M.Ed.
Executive Director
South Carolina Equality
Office:  803.256.6500   
Cell:  803.546.9035
Fax: 866-532-1223

In South Carolina, it's legal to fire someone simply because of who they are or who they love.

But moments ago, I watched as Representative James Smith introduced the Workplace Fairness Act (H4025) in the General Assembly. This important legislation provides critical protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) South Carolinians by making it illegal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We need your help to ensure that the Workplace Fairness Act is given a fair hearing and a vote in the House. As this bill is introduced, we need our Representatives to hear from an outpouring of supporters.

Click here to send a message to your Representative. Urge them to co-sponsor H4025 with Rep. Smith
At South Carolina Equality, we know how important this legislation is.
 Far too often, we hear stories from LGBT South Carolinians
who have experienced discrimination at work and have
no access to justice because our laws don't protect us.

Because of these stories, we've made this employment non-discrimination bill
one of our top priorities.
 We're going to be investing our energy and resources
into winning support from key lawmakers statewide,
and we'll need your help throughout our campaign.

Growing our list of sponsors is absolutely
 critical to starting this campaign off on the right foot.
 It only takes a minute to send a message to your legislators,
 but it makes a big difference.

Contact your Representative now --
and ask them to sign on as a sponsor of the Workplace Fairness Act.

I'll be honest with you, Sabrina --
passing this bill is not going to be easy.
 But I believe that if we build a strong grassroots effort,
we can secure the support we need to win.


Ryan Wilson
Executive Director, SC Equality

P.S. As I stood there with Rep. Smith today, I told the press why H4025 is important:
 "All hardworking people in our state should have the chance to earn a living
 and provide for themselves
 and their families.
Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons
  that have nothing to do with their job performance."
If you agree, send a message to your Representative now.

Facebook Twitter
South Carolina Equality
PO Box 544
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Colbert Wins Debate: Don’t cry for us Mark Sanford, we’ll do fine without you. Please just go!

By Sabrina Samone, Transmuseplanet

Well it was debate night in old Chuck Town and if Obama and Romney’s debates were as heated we’d still be laughing to this day. It’s no secret South Carolina is a red state, some even say it’s turning purple and could possibly be a tossup state by 2016, but most media outlets and papers are republican controlled and a true independent voice in politics in South Carolina is extremely hard to find, think Nazi Propaganda News and that’s about where we are. The Post and Courier of Charleston is holding on to its once respected independent voice with the skin of its teeth. The debate was sponsored by Patch.com and if the host was representing them he did a good job of keeping up the republican bias attitude. The host started off with what he must’ve thought as a joke by accusing most in national media as thinking this is a race between Jenny Sanford and Stephen Colbert and went on to even say with great fan fare from Mark Sanford’s camp, that this will be a debate about policy not personal. Ok let me get this right...so national media and the public are too dumb to realize who is in the race and you want us to ignore personal attributes that are distinct reflections of one’s character. Ok, just seeing where you’re trying to lead me already. Even when you go to Patch.com, the headline reads former South Carolina Governor and Stephen Colbert’s sister. Maybe it’s just me, but if someone would to introduce me as Derris Wood’s step sister, ignoring I’ve appeared in two independent films, works in nursing and is a writer, I’d be a little ticked off, but onto the debate.

Sanford was first on the stage and had a modest applause but the crowd went to its feet when Colbert was introduced and took several seconds to calm down. Elizabeth went first as she won the coin toss, but ten minutes in things seemed to heat up.  Both were given the question of would they support our republican senators on their bill of a path to citizenship, introduced by Lindsey Graham (R). Sanford gave the usual dodge the answer most politicians do and only stated immigration needs to be looked into. Not so surprisingly, Colbert showed her moderate Democrat side by saying she would not support sending a 11 million people back home but believes in the pathway to citizenship, (Get a job, pay your fines and get in the back of the line to a pathway to citizenship).

Colbert criticized Sanford for being the only representative to vote against dredging and deepening at the Port Of Charleston. The 4th largest on the east coast, but was once third, but lost the 3rd spot to Savannah because it’s not deep enough. She went onto say that her opponent voted against the bridge and against deepening the Port.  Sanford tried his best to demean Colbert and laugh edher statement off and continued to say, “I don’t think if that was the case you would have written me a 500 check to support me when I ran for Governor.”  This finally gave the Sanford gang something, to temporarily applaud, but it was short lived. WCBD count on 2 anchor and one of the evening’s moderators, had to clarify with Mark Sanford statement by asking, is that; “your response”? Sanford continued then, to jab for applause by stating again, she gave me a 500 dollar check for my campaign then...and I see it bothers her now. It continued the short lived applause. Colbert, reminiscent of the last Obama/Romney debate, when Obama had to tell Romney to “please continue Governor”, went onto say she was glad Sanford brought that up and she had hoped he would.  Colbert replied to Sanford, “you and I have known each other for years and you knew what my role was with governmental affairs within the company. You said you were in support of dredging the port, trade and all the things we needed, and you didn’t. You turned around and did the opposite.” The crowd went ballistic.  Sanford went on to say, let’s think about this and before he could get you wrote me a check again out of his mouth the room went ohhhhh, almost a booo.  Colbert went on to say, ok Mark next question. The patch.com moderator even looked disappointed in Sanford. And this was pretty much how the rest of the night went; Sanford just never seemed to touch with the audience.

When the Affordable Health Care act came up, Sanford was eager to say he opposed it and if  he was in Congress now he would vote to repeal it. Something that’s wasted countless sessions and time in Congress already to no  avail. Colbert supports Medicare expansion because it creates and saves health care jobs. When fiscal responsibility came up and both were asked, how they’d vote, Sanford gave a long overdrawn speech that had one moderator reminding him to stay within time so both candidates get the same respect. Colbert hit a near homerun when she said, “when the country is losing jobs and we all are tightening our belts that is not the time to take taxpayer money and take a rendezvous out of the country for personal reasons”. Sanford claimed he couldn’t hear the question and asked Colbert to repeat, where she then simply replied, answer the question. Sanford wanted to appease the republican audience by bringing up for a fifth time Nancy Pelosi. Someone then yelled out, she’s not here. Sanford, in many ads and in the debate, criticized Colbert for what he believed, her to be pledging her loyalty to Nancy Pelosi. After all that, Sanford admitted he would sign the Grover Norquist pledge, yes basically admitting he would make a deal with someone who is not in his district and is not affected by what goes on HERE. Colbert stated that her only pledge is to the citizens of the first district.

Finally the next big moment came when both candidates were asked, "are they are in support of Marriage Equality"? Colbert was the first to answer and said, “I’m a supporter of full equality and this is a matter of Civil Rights and equal protection under the law..that’s what this is and to quote Dick Cheney, “Freedom is freedom for everyone.”” Sanford; admits to voting for the defensive marriage act ,that his stance has been consistent and that marriage equality should be left to each state to decide. When asked that he, Sanford, who had voted to impeach former President Bill Clinton for infidelity. Would he do the same now?  Sanford states a man should not be punished for the rest of his life.

But he should not be given the keys to everyone else’s bedroom three years later either. There was nothing new from Sanford, he really thought he could do some grand standing  and get through the night, but Colbert showed she was no Jenny Sanford and that she was a strong, independent business women who means business and that’s what I saw. Several republicans that were watching with me also saw, and by the way have now changed their vote. Even being trying to be unbiased, Sanford just didn’t convince me he’s a man that cares about anything other than retaining power for his own self glory and Colbert  did show that she is a business woman with the knowhow of fiscal responsibility to move South Carolina forward.

It’s was a much anticipated debate, but the big surprise was the toughness of Colbert not to back down. The facts remained the facts that we are already aware of and out of their own mouths our community got our answer. LGBT people now know who supports them and who doesn’t.  The decision is now a no brainer.

I've enclosed the full debate
Related Topics on TMP
Thurs. April 11, 2013
Wed. April 3, 2013

Monday, April 29, 2013


By Sabrina Samone, Transmuseplanet
One thing I’ve grown to love since I created TransMusePlanet, is the countless transgender people I’ve chatted with from around the world.  Anyone with a website or blog can see where the majority of their viewers are coming from; TMP list goes as such: United States, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, France, Canada, United Kingdom, Namibia and Austria. I’m always tickled to hear responses and to hear what life is like in other parts of the world for transgender people, especially intrigued how things are in African countries, so Namibia is a pleasant surprise in my top ten this week. Maybe in some way I’ve connected with long lost relative on the west coast of Africa, mmm.... I’m often sent things pertaining to the transgender community, especially from Russia, France and this week from Brazil. I’m a big movie buff, I mean crazy movie fan, and in fact my ideal way to go would be with a bowl of ice cream and a good old sci-fi film. I was tickled to receive the list of winners for the recent German Transgender Film Festival and because I know there are many other movie buffs out there I had to share.  So get comfy, get your snack and let’s see what was hot in this year’s Transgender Film Festival in Germany this year. 
Best long Film of the Year:
ROMEOS directed by Sabine Bernardi :

Best Actor (non-tg-character) in long film
Maximilian Befort in ROMEOS

Best Song (long film):
A tale of star-crossed lovers with a difference, Sabine Bernardi's richly textured ode to teenage love takes a fresh and unique look at a romantic encounter that transcends boundaries
Best Trans-Performance (MtF) in long film
Devid Striesow in TRANSPAPA
Best Actress (non-tg-character) in long film
Luisa Sappelt in TRANSPAPA
                                       Best Trans-Performance (FtM) in long film
                                                   Zoe Heran in TOMBOY
A French family with two daughters, 10-year old Laure (Zoe Heran) and 6-year old Jeanne (Malonn Levanna), moves to a new suburban neighborhood during the summer holidays. With her Jean Serberg haircut and tomboy ways, Laure is immediately mistaken for a boy by the local kids and decides to pass herself off as "Mikael," a boy like the others but different enough to catch the attention of leader of the pack Lisa (Jeanne Disson) who becomes smitten with him.
                                                Best long Documentary Film:
                                               MAN FOR A DAY by Katarina Peters

                                                             Best short Film:
                                                    I’M IN (L) by Gsus Lopez

                                 Best Trans-Performance in a short Film (MtF) Gintas Jocius
                                          in DRESSED AS A GIRL

Best Song in a short film:
interpreted by Gintas Jocius

                                         Best short Documentary:
                                          VICTOR by Buck Angel

"These are some of the additional interviews I was unable to add to the film Sexing The Transman, so I wanted to share them as they are just as important and great interviews."  Buck Angel
                                        Best Website in film:

 Best Concert Performance:

THAT’S WHAT I AM by Conchita Wurst

WE STAND by Our Lady
Best Musicvideo:
HEY JANE by Spiritualized

I’M THE ONE by Morten Harket
WINNER by Pet Shop Boys

Special thanks to Andy Gras of Traum-kino and their film Paulista, for sharing all the winners with me
To like the Germany's film Festival on facebook linked below along with website link
Related TMP Article

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Roll Call: South Carolina LGBTQ…Please stand

By Sabrina Samone, Transmuseplanet

After hearing the news that state Rep. James Smith (D-Richland, District 72), is brave enough to be the one to introduce an  LGBT  anti-discrimination bill this coming Tuesday , I immediately thought of the old Diana Ross song, ‘It’s my turn’.  After watching the entire new England states support Marriage equality, California embracing not only marriage equality but rights for Transgender and a host of other states debating similar legislation, I felt, as I’m sure many in S.C. always do, that we’ll never even get the chance to talk about such things here, but this week, it’s our turn.

Yes my fellow Sur Carolinians, we too will be placed on the national spotlight this week, to see if we as a state have progressed enough yet to provide equality to all in this state, finally.  On Tuesday April, 30th, the US State of South Carolina is looking to make discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace illegal, with a bill on the matter to be heard. Federally, Congress is in the process of debating EDNA, currently there are no nationwide US laws prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace. State by State and in many cases City Ordinances have been debated and or passed in support of ending discrimination against our communities. Unfortunately this week, Washington State seems to be taking the opposite approach. Many states are changing laws and many are not, the American Medical Student Association has a great state by state count of laws pertaining to, partnerships-adoption-non-discrimination laws-hate crime protection and gender change.

South Carolina Equality Executive Director Ryan Wilson said according to Pink News, of the bill:”All hardworking people in our state should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families.”  So true, and he is urging LGBT citizens and their allies in South Carolina and beyond to sign up for email action alerts on the SC equality web page.

Why is this so important? Even if you’re the most apathetic citizen who thinks politicians don't listen to you, well they don’t…if you don’t make your voice heard. If only a handful of calls and letters get to our local legislators that will be voting on a bill, affecting our lives for the next decade or two is heard, that will be the amount of LGBT people they think they are representing. Have you ever met a South Carolina resident that thinks Gay-Lesbian-bisexual or Transgender people don’t exist in this state? I have and if you don’t raise your hand at roll call and say I’m here, many will vote against this bill believing it affects no one in this state. Already I’m reading comments on face book by many in the community, “well if it happens”, don’t wait for someone else to tell you whether you have the right to work and have a job, place to live and just basic equality protected under the law. Raise your hand, pick up the phone, call your local representative and say I’m here. It takes all of five min., and you will still have plenty of time to go cruise, party, be ready for your next drag show and hang with the gang, but you will be counted and our state leaders will know we are watching and waiting to see them do the right thing. If all else fails and hopefully not, remember their names and vote against them in the next election. It’s time to be counted, considered and given the respect deserved, as hard working taxpaying citizens of this state. LGBTQ of South Carolina this is your moment at the podium and the nation is watching, because if it could pass in the birth place of discrimination, it can happen anywhere.

Furthermore, if you’re reading this here, I’ve even made it easier for you. You don’t even have to search for who is your local legislator, here is the list, pass this link around. Simply put in your city and zip code and presto, their number. If you happen to be in my district 38 state senate and district 98 House of Representatives they are Sean Bennett (who covers the corners of Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester co.) And Christopher J Murphy (who covers most of southern Dorchester), respectively.

In District One, we currently don’t have a United States Representative until May 7th,  with Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, whom Transmuseplanet endorses and who has stated her support for pro-lgbt legislation runs against Mark “the runaway Governor”  Sanford, who has given past examples of his anti-Lgbt stance and continues presently.  He, if he is given another chance, would become the greatest and most out spoken opponent to equality of any kind concerning LGBT people, remember that on May 7th. Currently, that’s not a major issue due to the fact it is being debated on the state level, so your State Senator and State House of Representatives are the ones that need to hear from you this week.

A major hip-hip hooray also needs to go to the state representative, Rep. James Smith, for his bravery in bringing this to light. If you’d like to thank him or send your support…click here.

LGBTQ South Carolinians, it’s really in your hands. The roll call is about to start, the nation is watching, are you here?
Diana Ross's It's my Turn Video: Dedicated to the ones who didn't live to see this day come in South Carolina.

Related TMP articles:

Why Trans* should vote for our own self interest

 The Hypocrisy of Mark Sanford and the Republican South Carolina voter
You’ve shown us who you are, EX-Gov. Sanford, we don’t need another demonstration
                     Click here to like Transmuseplanet on Facebook

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Defining who we are pt. V: Learning to Care for Our Own

By Sabrina Samone, TMP
No one but you can ever define you. Lao Tzu says, "Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing the self is enlightenment. Mastering others requires force. Mastering the self requires strength."  The great Aristotle, lead by Plato, defined the soul as the core essence of a living being, but argued against its having a separate existence. Ramana Maharshi taught that, self, itself is the world; self itself is ‘I’; self itself is God; all is the Supreme Self. The moral of the story may simply be that even with thousands of great thinkers throughout history, their ideas of defining who you are are no more than theories and the answer to who you are still lies completely in your hands.

The next step, since defining yourself may take your entire lifetime, we have race, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion and countless other labels to try and define how we fit into the grand scheme of things. For instance I often think of how we care for the elders of our community, differ, depending on your culture.  Many Asian countries seem to master it a little more compassionately, to me, than we do here in America. If there is someone elderly in the family, many come together to care for their loved ones and usually remain a part of the family’s household.  To me, here in America, we seem very quick to discard those in society after they have reached a certain age. It seems to begin after retirement. Maybe a result of being a capitalist nation seems that once a person is no longer on the treadmill of a working life, they appear to be deemed less valuable to society.  This is misfortunate because with age comes wisdom that could be more valuable than gold to younger generations.

After working in a dozen or so nursing homes I’ve noticed how forgetful we are of loved ones.  In every nursing home there are lists of residents that only get the privilege of seeing a relative, during Christmas, if they’re lucky. Its part of nursing home gossip to notice who don’t get a visitor the other 364 days of the year.  Why in this country, we don’t cherish those that came before us is a mystery, maybe only Aristotle himself could answer and in the LGBT community it is even worse. It’s been a joke on popular lgbt shows like Will and Grace and countless others, that thirty years of age in the LGBT community is equal to 50 in mainstream society. It may have been used as countless jokes but the reality is more sad and true and if the way we treat our elderly in mainstream America seems alarming, it’s a Greek tragedy when it comes to the LGBT elderly.

The entire community actually reminds me of Greek culture in ancient times, or at least from what I’ve read of course. I’ve read that those born beautiful were given many advantages. Strength, physical beauty and power were celebrated.  The Spartan elders examined all new born babies and ordered that any who were not well-built and sturdy were to be killed by leaving them in the bush at the foot of Mount Taygetus, according to Plutarch, “Life of Lycurgus”, 16. In Greek life they admired those that reminded them of their Gods, those endowed with superhuman strength and ageless beauty. Ask any gay bar fly nearing 50 if they are still in demand, or the fact that Miss Gay USA actually holds a “classic” version for those forty plus. Thirty is the brick wall in LGBT culture, forty is classic and fifty is “you poor thing.”  Add to the fact, this culture is a sub-culture of the great American mosaic, who also, from the time of birth we are trained to fight the ageing process and dread the days of the old.

There is a reason my generation of LGBT peers may have had a lack of how to deal with the elderly; A plague in the eighties that killed millions, denying them, old age. If your over thirty-five, LGBT, you may have started realizing how blessed you are. We all have a list of people that didn’t make it to see 2013. The dreaded plague maybe more controlled than ever before and no longer a death sentence with early detection and treatment. But we kids of the late eighties and on know the fear of first learning about sex, all while simultaneously learning, it can kill. According to the World Health Organization, thirty-five million people had died since the epidemic began and according to Aids.gov, nearly a million gay men in the USA. Until recently there hasn’t been much research in how many trans-women and men have passed but you can be assure our numbers are represented in that.

Imagine the contributions to all our fight for equality and respect in this country would be today had all these fellow LGBT friends were spared this early death.  Would we even, at this point be still waiting on someone to ‘let’ us marry whom we love? The generation that saw the greatest losses were the post stonewall generation.  The ones that fought back in the streets with baseball bats, chanted in the streets I’m here and I’m queer, who help remove Gay and Lesbian as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatric Association and moved us so close to equality by the early eighties. Until Aids came, ignored by the then conservative right wing powers and yes I still hold them partially responsible for so many deaths. Ignoring for so long that Aids was indeed an epidemic. The result...we lost a million of the greatest voices of the lgbt movement and the stigma of Aids silenced the rest of us for nearly the next two decades.

Now, thankfully Aids is no longer a death sentence it once was and when the cure is finally given to the community, it’ll be happy days again, but until then a new generation has emerged, not fearing this disease as those born in the seventies, eighties had and the numbers are back on the rise, especially among transgender men and women. We owe it to our Trans-sisters and brothers to always make it a part of our daily conversation, to remind each other to play safe, now is not the time to think the disease is finished.  Some research has even stated that the disease maybe mutating into a stronger more deadly version. We have lost a powerful  generation already, and my unguided generation has done its best to keep the torch of freedom and equality alive, we don’t need to just live long enough to see another generation wiped from the face of the earth due to lack of self responsibility.

For those few proud LGBT soldiers of equality that now stand where armies once stood, faced with becoming elderly, should not be forgotten or brushed aside. Thankfully there is growing concern within the greater community to provide care for LGBT elderly.  The city of Chicago recently approved financing and land transfer for the Midwest first gay and lesbian-friendly affordable senior housing facility.  Take it from someone, friends, who has worked in senior care for several years, think life is tough if your LGBT now? I promise you, it’s even scarier in a nursing home. Back in 2002, my boyfriend at the time, and I worked together at a local facility in Florence, SC.  There was a very outspoken elderly gay man there, who had spent the disco era of the seventies, when there was no Aids (imagine if you can), in San Francisco. The newly appointed Gay Mecca of the time and he was a very involved gay man in the community with elaborate stories of life as the gay elite of the time in San Francisco. Even on the days we were working he was our pick, taking him out for ice cream, bringing him clothes and gifts, since he had no family that would come see about him. Occasionally we’d check on him on our days off, we adopted him as our grand pa. For me, being transgender it was a no brainer, but I was very impressed by my boyfriend at the time, who was a straight male never in contact with LGBT people until he had met me. He was the first to call him grand pa. It was a conscious decision on our part, because of what we saw and heard from other co-workers. Yes, even in my face they’d use the F, word and refuse to do anymore than the minimum for him, ask him in appropriate questions and try turning his roommates against him. When we started working there and saw this, we did our best to change the attitudes, and I being Trans became, reluctantly, the local Trans 101 instructor of the facility. Our adopted Grand pa reveled in the attention and the growing number of people over time that took up for him. I remember near the end of his life a new girl began work in there and had been told he was Gay. During a smoke break, in  front of him, she began to spit her bigoted venom, and before my boyfriend and I could attack her, several other co-workers lashed out and said, “oh no, you can’t come here hating on grand-pa now, go on with that”, it brought tears to my eyes. I’m grateful he passed with more dignity than he would have if he did not have support.

That’s why the attention on the elderly in our community is needed now more than ever. With people living longer with Aids and those they were lucky enough to pass thru the storm are now faced with ageing in a society that discards the elderly and yet still face discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We as a community also need to share in the responsibility, though we may not like thinking about becoming elderly, the average LGBT person who does, may face it alone, with no family left alive and no children to care for them. We also owe it to the LGBT youth that are coming of age to be reminded of the dangers of unprotected sex. We have wisdom to pass to the youth and wisdom yet to attain from those who came before us, but as a community we should do more to help both, because helping the newest and oldest generations is the key to helping ourselves. We have to start caring for our own.

Recent news topics from other sources related to elderly and HIV;

Aging and being LGBT

1.       Gay and Gray on Q-notes


Contributed blog on Transmuseplanet.com by Trans Matriarch Olivia Ontko 


HIV among Transgender People

3.       Trans-men and HIV

4.       Aids.gov

Related TMP Articles

Defining who we are part IV: A message to Cis-gender people, Transgender is not sexuality

Defining who we are pt. lll: The Trans* sex worker and exploitation




Monday, April 15, 2013

Purring Like a Cat

Sabrina Samone, TMP

This past Saturday was the monthly meeting of C.A.T.S, Charleston area transgender support group. While many people in many areas hopefully have a local support group, we’re all too familiar with the ones that seem like a drag to attend or you must prepare yourself for what may feel like a daytime soap opera. Full of all the divisive issues facing the Trans community all packed into a small micro-drama. I had attended many support groups from GA, FL, and NC and if I didn’t have to be awaken when it was time to leave, I left feeling more isolated as a trans female than I had ever felt before. If anyone has felt those ways before at what suppose to be an uplifting moment of Trans comradery only to be left feeling disappointed all together hadn’t been to a C.A.T.S meeting.

C.A.T.S was founded in June 2000, by the late Terri Foxx, & Mrs. Olivia and is the longest running transgender support group in South Carolina. I had the pleasure of knowing Terri Foxx when she was alive and she would be proud to see how together the local community has become.  The group was the perfect blend of what a Trans support group today should represent. Mrs. Olivia, one of the co-founders, is the elder patriarch of the group and it is a pleasant additive for younger Trans people to see, in the flesh, those that have paved the way and grew up in times when the thought of transgender people meeting alone, was scandal enough. The blend of ages was evident at the meeting from the patriarch down to the youngest of the group at 19 and 20. Attended by both Trans-men and women, black and white and those even representing the gender queer community. After seeing such togetherness at the national levels like in the Trans 100, where all efforts were made to represent all trans people, it was a pleasant surprise to see it on such a local level as well.

The Trans spectrum of sexuality was also apparent as many attended with significant others and Leslie Lain, a local trans showgirl even states that she has never, as a trans showgirl, felt so welcomed and included at a trans support group. During the introductions, she expressed how she’s attempted to be and longed to be a part of, as she stated, “Her people”, her Trans people but was always looked downed upon because many in the Trans community look down on Trans showgirls.  She was elated to be so welcomed. The exclusion of different groups of girls that didn’t represent the majority of a group has been a problem for years within the trans community, that I hope we are at the turning point, not only locally but nationally of embracing all, regardless or socio-economic status, race, religion and sexual orientation, to be a part and made to feel a part of their, people.

That was the pleasant part of attending, to see everyone so welcomed and included, but to have decent active discussions of value was also very impressive. Many of us new attendees left with numbers and names of local doctors to monitor our HRT, all on the first visit to the group.  Amy Garbati and her wife now head the support group with a mission to be all inclusive to all that is transgender and their allies.  She is active in the advocacy for equality and is also a board member of the SC equality.

So no matter who you are, if your trans, gender queer or a loved one of someone that is, you are welcomed. If you’re in S.C. or live in the low country part of S.C., bring yourself on out and know you are not alone.

 I’m positive by time you leave,  you too, will be purring like a cat.

 C.A.T.S; For details regarding our meetings or to obtain more information about the group, please email us at info@ChasAreaTSupport.org meetings are held every second Saturday of every month 7p- 9p

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