Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas and happy holidays

Hi Everyone,
First off I'd like to wish everyone Happy Holidays and may your new year bring you only joy and peace. This is the first time in 2 days I've had a chance to really sit down at the computer and spend any time at it. Preparing for Christmas has made it a very busy time as I'm sure it has been for all of you. I have also spent time this week looking back at the year and the more I do this, the more I realize how lucky I am. I'm much happier than I was last year about this time. I have the support of my family in my transition. And most of all, I have built some strong friendships this year that I'm sure will help me in the coming years. I also found myself becoming more active in trans related issues and look to do much more in the future.

Yesterday we had our family Christmas party which went pretty well. We didn't have a traditional Christmas meal since my wife is
Philippino, but this is nothing new for us. We did have some great food though and we spent the evening eating, dancing and chatting a way. It was going well tell later that evening. As we do every year, they had planned on going to Church for the midnight Christmas mass, and as the evening drew closer to the time to leave I found myself getting more uncomfortable and a little more emotional (although I hid it). I've never really felt like this before in all the years that we've done this. But last night was the first time that I just didn't want to be there. With the recent Pope's Christmas speech suggesting the Transsexuals were a threat to humanity, I could not put aside my feelings on that as I sat there in the church. Needless to say, I made it through the service, said my own prayers before leaving and felt better once we got back to my brother inlaws. I'll have more to say abouut this in a later post.

Today was a calmer day. I spent time with my family, but since my wife got called into work, we tried to spend some time together in the morning just enjoying each others company. I was invided to a Christmas party for one of the few LGBT youth homeless shelters in NYC. I felt very strongly about going with everything that has been going on in the LGBT community recently, so my friend Brittney and I went down to spend some time with the kids (13 to 22). I am so glad I went because it gave me a chance to talk to a few of the kids there. I didn't have a chance to talk to as many as I'd like, but the few I did talk to left a impression on me that will stay with me for the rest of my life. One girl named Starr, really made the biggest impression on me as she just glowed with a spirit that was really catchy. I'd love to get back there some time and talk to her more, but with so many of her friends there, it was hard to talk to long with her. So Starr, if you ever have a chance to read this, always keep that possitive outlook and I'm sure you will go far.

If you are in the Tri-state NY area please support this orginization, they could use all the help that they can get. They run this shelter out of the basement of the
Metropolitan Community Church of New York. Its a small place to house up to 40 youth. So if you can, please contact the emergancy shelter and offer any help that you can:
MCCNY Homeless Youth Services
446 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
212-629-7440 Ext. # 226

P.S. Thanks for listening and I hope everyone have a great Holidays.
Hugs Michelle

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Son's Perspective

Hi Everyone,
As many of you know that follow blog, I've talked about the support I've had from my kids and wife on my transition. Well, a while back I had asked my son if he would mind writing something from his own perspective on the new of me being transgender. He told me that he would not have a problem at all doing that. I explained that there are many views on this topic and I would like to share his view. So without me getting long winded I hand over the podium to my son Ryan.

When my father first asked me to write this, I was rather uneasy as to why something like this was necessary. Why should I need to write how I feel about my own father? Then I realized how selfish that sounds, but I also came to realize though, that I was uneasy not because I did not want to tell my father how I felt about him. Rather, I found it sad that because of the society we currently live in, people need reassurance from their own family about who they truly are. Have we gone so far as to have people hide and feel uneasy about their natural identity?

I want you to know Dad that nothing has changed the way I feel about you. If anything, I am happier for you, seeing that your life is really starting to fall in place, and that you are truly searching for happiness in the face of the whole world telling you otherwise. It takes a lot of emotional strength to do something like that, something the average person would rather not do. Its why we see masses of people conforming to such close minded ways of thinking, to the point where what is right and what is wrong is dictated to us by another, and that we are out of place to say otherwise. But not you Dad, you believe in what you stand for and you don’t let others tell you otherwise. I admire you for that. Don’t let them hold you back from your dreams. Most of the greatest men and women I have studied about in school shared that same rare characteristic that you do. You are not scared to stand up for what you believe, even when it is something so radically different in the eyes of the masses. You are not afraid to push the envelope and work to make this country a better and more just place for people to live in. If we had more people who thought this way, I think we would be living in a much better world than we do today.

So what I say Dad, is do what your heart tells you to, and forget about the rest. In the end, it is what matters most. Personally, I would rather be proud and shout out for who I am, than desperately be trying to live a life for who I am not. And I feel like you would agree with this, and I hope that someday I will have as much courage as you do. There is so much wrong in the world and it is our obligations to humanity, as human beings, to work for a better place for everybody. You and I, we may just be a small dot on the map. We may not have the political power and money to make drastic changes. But what we do have is the power of numbers. More and more likeminded people are slowly coming together and bringing light to these issues. You have realized it, and I am glad that you are becoming more involved in these movements. So that one day, when these stupid laws and attitudes are changed, you can say to yourself you helped make this world a better place, and it all started because you listened to your heart, and simply accepted who you truly are.

I love you Dad, I hope you know nothing you have or ever will do will change that. And just know that I believe in you completely, you can do this, and you have my complete and utter support.

Your Son,

To my son,
I have to say that after reading this letter I can see that you yourself will go very far in the future. I'm proud to be your parent and have a chance to get to know a wonderful person that you have come to be. I can only wish that who ever reads this will also see what I have known all your life. That you are a genuine, caring and compassionate human being.
Love Dad
P.S. OK, ok. We haven't gotten to the point of using proper pronouns yet, lol. We have time :)

Friday, December 19, 2008

New regulations that could affect transgender people badly

Hi Everyone,
I have a few very important things (I feel they are at least) to discuss. I would like to bring to your attention of a few new regulations that have been put forth that could have some very disturbing realities for transgender people (Heck, the whole LGBT community for that matter). I’m on the mailing list of the National Center for Transgender Equality news and this week send out a few emails alerting me of some new updates to current or new legislation. Below you can read the email:
Dear Friends,

I wanted to make you aware of some changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that could impact the lives of transgender people. The FMLA was enacted in 1993 to ensure that employees would be able to take unpaid leave from work in certain circumstances related to medical care for them or their families. The emphasis on medical privacy in the original FMLA is especially vital for transgender people.

However, on November 17, 2008, the Department of Labor published final regulations for the FMLA that erode medical privacy and could have long-lasting adverse effects on transgender people when they take effect as planned on January 16, 2009. These new regulations appear to be part of the Bush Administration's final effort to enshrine ideologically driven policies in advance of the Obama Administration taking office.

The new regulations reveal private medical information and could subject transgender people to harassment and discrimination.
Unlike the current policy, the new policy requires doctors to list their specialization as well as medical facts relating to the employee's condition on the medical certification form given to one's employer. A person's transgender status could be revealed, requiring the individual to choose between a job and important medical care related to transition.
The new regulations allow the employer to contact the employee's health care provider to authenticate the medical certification, as long as the employer representative making that contact is not the employee's direct supervisor.

The new regulations allow employers, not doctors, to determine whether an employee has a serious health condition that would make them eligible for unpaid leave.
Because the recovery times for transition-related surgery and treatment are often extensive, it is extremely important that employees be allowed to take leave when doctors say it is warranted, regardless of whether employers believe the time off is medically necessary.
Family members may have to reveal the transgender status of their partners, children, or relatives to receive leave.
A family member who is trying to take FMLA leave to care for their partner, child, or relative may be subjected to increased harassment and discrimination, and the family member's FMLA claim may be denied.

Second Email:
December 18, 2008
Dear Friends,

We had no idea yesterday when we sent you word of the impending new regulations around the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that they would be merely the second worse regulations to tell you about this week. Then today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released what can only be described as breathtakingly immoral regulations that could prevent transgender people from getting any health care whatsoever. In their press release, DHHS said that the "Provider Conscience" rule ensures "the right of federally-funded healthcare providers to decline to participate in services to whey they object."

What the press release does not say is that if this is allowed to go into effect in January, transgender people, already struggling for healthcare access, could be turned away by any medical provider who feels that transgender status is against their moral, religious, or even personal beliefs.
In essence, any person who works in a hospital or other health care facility, including medial technicians, pharmacists, and janitors, would not have to perform their jobs if doing so would offend their beliefs.

While this regulation would have profound effect on everyone's access to healthcare, transgender people could potentially be denied care at overwhelming rates, even for preventive care or emergency medical treatment.

Although we wanted to make you aware of the "Provider Conscience" regulations, we want you to know that they are not scheduled to take effect until January 18, 2009 and healthcare facilities have until October 1, 2009 to comply. You should not in any way be afraid of seeking health care at this point; not only are the rules not in effect yet, but most healthcare providers will continue to treat transpeople appropriately despite the prejudices of the very few who support these new regulations.

**end of Emails.

Now, It is disturbs me that a president (How much longer do we have to wait tell he’s out of here, uggg) would have the gull to strip off the protections of so many Americans. It also disturbs me that a president can be swayed so strongly by the religious right (or any radical group for that matter) and have the congress just set back and watch this crap happen. Government is suppose to protect there citizens and yet this administration has done everything it could to strip protections from minorities everywhere. What’s going to happen if a trans person is turned away from emergency care and is thrown out of a hospital and dies on their door step? I guess with these new regulations nothing. There is something totally wrong with this picture. What will happen when the first African American is turned away in by some bigoted southern doctor and dies on his/her door step? How about this, what if a atheist turns away services to a Christian because of their believes. I will bet that the atheist will have the police there at his/her door step quicker than you could count to 3. The protections where there for a reason. To protect everyone and not just a select few. But I guess coming from this administration it is nothing new.

I have the same comments on the new regulations for the FMLA. There is so much that could go wrong with this new regulation that it really bothers me. What every happen to privacy rights. This could lead to so many discrimination problems that its ridicules. It is no business of the employer what the employee went to the doctor for. I could see someone with some sickness being afraid to go to the doctor now, afraid of being fired because of some diagnosis. Hell, I bet you could find an employer that would fire someone just because they were diagnosed with depression. There are some diseases or sicknesses that are very personal to people and should be kept private and some that if left untreated could be deadly. These new regulations have such far reaching consequences that I’m really beginning to worry about our nation of ours. What do you think?

Michelle Lee