Guest Blogger

Take Heart: Something Has Changed In Maryland

Filed By Guest Blogger | April 26, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Dana Beyer, hate crimes against LGBT people, McDonalds, McDonalds attack, peace vigil, transgender customer

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Dana Beyer, a retired eye surgeon, is a trans activist and co-author of The Dallas Principles. She serves on the boards of the National Center for Transgender Equality and Keshet, the national Jewish LGBT education and outreach organization.danabeyer.jpg

I ended the 2011 Annapolis legislative session conflicted, frustrated that we were not able to push the limited gender identity anti-discrimination bill over its final hurdle on the last day, but exhilarated at the progress we had made to get that far, including accomplishing one legislative feat rarely seen in the statehouse. Still, there had been serious division within the state trans community over the decision to support HB 235 without public accommodations protections, and I wanted to start healing that rift after taking a moment to breathe.

Alas, that breath never came.

Last Friday two events occurred that shook the Maryland trans community. The first, not unexpected, was the firing of Equality Maryland's Executive Director, Morgan Meneses-Sheets. Having worked closely with Morgan on HB 235, I was taken aback by her firing, and the rapidity with which she was cut loose. But, more importantly, that was the day the video of a brutal assault on a trans woman at a McDonalds in northeast Baltimore County went viral, horrifying the national trans community and engendering calls to action.

So act we did, over a holiday weekend during spring break, organizing what was initially intended to be a vigil as the victim appeared severely injured, but what evolved into an upbeat rally of a united community demanding an end to violence and discrimination. A group of us, from both sides of the HB 235 debate, including Caroline Temmermand of the Baltimore Gender Identity support group, Sandy Rawls, director of Trans-United in Baltimore City, Cathy Brennan, a local lesbian activist, Jenna Fischetti, owner of the blog, TransMaryland, and I worked together.

We reached out to the victim, Chrissy Lee Polis and her family. We contacted the McDonald's owner and obtained his full assistance in staging the event. We obtained police approval and support, did a media blast, and invited all the local politicians, both on the county and state levels. We reached out to local faith leaders, and members of African-American groups who were appalled by the racial overtones of the assault. Progressive coalition partners, such as GetEqual, the SCLC of Baltimore, and Planned Parenthood offered to participate.

Having been involved in far too many vigils for murdered trans women over the years, and accepting the general apathy in both the trans and LGBT communities, I expected 30 people to ultimately show up. Instead, 300 did.

Several occurrences were striking. When I arrived an hour early, I noticed the McDonald's had been closed and would be through the following morning. Not a small gesture for a business, and the restaurant sign which proclaimed, "In support of peace," was a nice touch. The restaurant was taken over by a PR firm hired by the corporation, and we were all invited to use the facilities before the event began in a gesture of good will.

The place was overflowing with media, from the local patch correspondents to local television and crews from as far away as DC. The national gay media were in attendance, including Kevin Naff, editor-in-chief of the Blade.

And very quickly our numbers started to rise. Chrissy Lee, who had initially announced she would attend, backed out, but her mother and grandmother were there, basking in the support for their child. Chrissy's friends and neighbors joined us, and expressed their outrage at the assault.

Some really didn't understand what being trans is about, but they clearly understood that violence is unacceptable and that Chrissy deserves the same rights as they. Vickie Thoms, the older woman who was the lone person to rise to defend Chrissy, spoke to the crowd and accepted our thanks for her bravery.

Surprisingly to me, two women who had transitioned during the 70's attended as well, feeling it was time to come out in support of their sisters. One woman, one of the last patients treated by Hopkins in 1975, spoke to me about how fortunate she has been since then to be herself, but in spite of being blessed, she is still hassled and insulted when the issue of her past arises. And she raises it in intimate situations because of her belief in her own integrity. Relationships - the final frontier.

Being a politician, I decided we'd keep the speakers limited in number and duration. We did, finishing in half an hour. Caroline did the introductions, Meredith Moise gave the invocation, Sandy roused the crowd, Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE, spoke about the awful statistics relating to violence against trans people, and Lea Gilmore, of the Maryland Black Family Alliance, led the crowd in inspirational song.

And then, when the program ended and the crowd would have normally dispersed, a funny thing happened. No one left.

People mingled for another 75 minutes until the lights were turned out in the parking lot. There had been no trouble, no counter-demonstration, no hate speech - just love and sisterhood and camaraderie. Locals and activists, gay and straight, cis and trans.

Something has changed in Maryland for the better. Finally.


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Thanks Doc Beyer!
I appreciate your work and I’m glad your there to do some good start the healing. I do hope that while the iron is hot y’all are striking as fast as possible at the politicians who rejected the previous bill, added a poision pill amendment that clearly would have gutted accomodations for Transgender people. Even if its just to hold up this incident as a reason to bring a better bill to the state and hopefully pass it quickly.

Given that Beyer was one of the people who played a major role in supporting the removal of public accommodations protections from HB 235, I cannot help but be extremely dubious of her sincerity in now supporting public accommodations rights.

Excuse me? I supported its removal? Where do you get that? I was 9,000 miles away when the Chair of the committee forced its removal.

And btw, if you did a little searching through Maryland history, you'd discover the work I've done on the comprehensive bills from 2007-10, plus my role in passing and defending the comprehensive law in Montgomery County.

I didn't say you were responsible for its removal. I said you played a major role in supporting the compromised bill, as in you were one of the most prominent voices advocating the bill and attacking those who opposed it as "unrealistic".

Dana Beyer | April 27, 2011 9:05 AM

Renee, the bottom line is we had one major strategic difference this past session -- to work for employment and housing protections, or nothing. That's all. I was loath to support the bill, but having decided to do so, I gave it my best, and I'm proud of all that we accomplished. Neither I, nor anyone else who ended up supporting HB 235, ever criticized anyone for their decision not to do so, or even for their opposition. And I have also written elsewhere that I believe the public opposition helped us, not only in nearly passing the bill but in the more important, general education effort.
Our problems came from out-of-state bloggers and commenters who viciously attacked those of us who did work the bill.
I wonder why there has been so little chatter about Hawai'i and Nevada, for instance? Hawai'i just finally got around to adding trans employment protections, and Nevada presented multiple bills, leaving the choice up to the legislators. An interesting approach, but why is that also not worthy of opprobrium? Would you have been happier if a PA bill had been introduced in MD and just died in committee? In your mind, would that have precluded all the attacks?

As for amym, I will repeat -- I respect your right to define yourself as you see fit and to lobby and persuade in your way. I happen to agree with your underlying beliefs, and teach that perspective regularly, so I don't really understand from where all the anger arises. I wish Nikki the best.

Dana,
I am sorry but I do need to disagree with you slightly. You are correct that you never criticized those who opposed HB235 but there were supporters who did including someone who has taken a leadership role recently. To say that there wasn't people who supported HB 235 attacking those who opposed it is simply not true. I can those of at least 2.

Tim,

There's criticism and there's criticism. There's criticism of the strategy, which is valid; then there's criticism of credentials, motivation, qualifications, and all the rest that the blogosphere is so useful in blowing out of all proportions. Some of it degenerated into hate speech.

We really can't afford any more of that. I hope it stops.

I agree and I hope both sides speak out against this. I saw very few people on the pro HB235 calling out people for personal attacks unless it was people who were against HB235. Both sides were wrong to do it. I am one person who supported HB235 actually threaten me with legal action even though they were the one who had personally attacked people on EQMD's page.

The way I see it, the big difference is that in previous years the Maryland trans rights bill did include public accomodations; they were only removed from this year's version. So other states were taking steps towards comprehensive trans rights, whereas Maryland was repudiating comprehensive trans rights.

That, and the way EqualityMD went out of its way to cut the grassroots trans community out of the loop and suppress contrary voices pretty much prevented any good-faith discussion of the matter.


Again, a little history:

The previous bills, from 2007-10, were all comprehensive. They all died in Brian frosh's committee. Before this year we had never won a vote in committee.

This year, a comprehensive bill was again dropped into committee, and died. The only way to move forward was to strip PA. Delegate Pena-Melnyk made that decision. EqMD reluctantly concurred. A few of us who were also very upset eventually decided to work it as is.

EqMD didn't quash any voices. As a matter of fact, those voices were allowed free rein in two meetings (their FB policy is another matter, but applied across the board). EqMD decided to continue to support HB 235, and those opposed were free to oppose, which they did.

The real problem was not that EqMD didn't listen to the trans grassroots, whoever they may be in your mind, but that they didn't work the bill until marriage died. If a few of us hadn't picked up the ball and helped the sponsor it would have gone nowhere, certainly not out of the Rules Committee.

So the more fundamental issue related to the priorities and commitments of LGBT organizations. Some are better than others, some are better some years compared to others. It's just silly that you're attacking EqMD for a bill they really were not committed to adequately in the first place. To the staff's credit they stepped up after marriage failed and their national colleagues skipped town.

This year, a comprehensive bill was again dropped into committee, and died. The only way to move forward was to strip PA. Delegate Pena-Melnyk made that decision. EqMD reluctantly concurred. A few of us who were also very upset eventually decided to work it as is.

Your accounting of events here does not appear to be compatible with the statement of Senator Rich Madaleno, who stated that he was prepared to sponsor/co-sponsor a fully inclusive trans rights law before the Senate (as he has for the past four years), but was asked not to do so by the LGBT rights "advocacy coalition" so that the weaker bill planned for the House would not have to compete with a stronger bill in the Senate. The Senator's exact words were:

I have been the lead sponsor or lead cosponsor of the Gender Identity Antidiscrimination Act for the past four years. In advance of the 2011 Session, I had a bill drafted that is identical to the bill I had introduced previously. This draft prohibited discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. However, our advocacy coalition asked me to not introduce the bill, preferring a strategy of pursuing a House bill alone. This approach has not diminished my commitment to enacting these much needed protections, and I urge the House of Delegates to pass HB 235, with an amendment that prohibits discrimination against transgender individuals regarding public accommodations.

Sen. Madaleno's statement seems to make it very clear that Equality Maryland and other LGB(t) groups were pushing a "no public accomodations" strategy from the get-go, not forced to do so by adverse circumstances.

You've misread his statement. He had introduced a comprehensive bill the previous four years which had died in its first Senate committee. This year the plan was to introduce marriage first in the Senate, and gender identity in the House, in the hope of building some momentum. It was also decided not to cross-file, so as to not give the Senate committee the opportunity to prematurely kill the bill before the House could build momentum. So he was asked not to introduce a Senate bill (he's a Senator, after all).

The plan worked, except that the House delegates refused to consider public accommodations. Big problem, but not insurmountable in the long run, particularly post-Rosedale.

Dana,
Sorry but I have to call you on some falsehoods. First the transgender working groups were suspended after EQMD promised to continue them during the fight for HB235. Now the reasoning was they were working hard on the bill but I would think this would be when you want to have these working groups. The problem was EQMD were getting a lot of flack at these so it was easier to suspend it.
As for the Facebook censoring I'm sorry but what you said was a bold face lie. There are enough screen shots out there of posts deleted that did not violate any of the guidelines they claimed. In fact some supporters of the bill were allowed to continue to name call and personally attack people which did violate their policy and were not deleted. Let's it least be honest about this. You lose credibility when you claim otherwise.

Tim, with all due respect you were not at those meetings. The working group should have been in place sooner. It wasn't. Due to the division in opinions of the group, it was a drain on resources to continue the meetings during the legislative session. Had it been productive it likely would have been worth it at the time. There was a lot of concern expressed about the effectiveness of the meetings by those who were specifically coming because they wanted to understand the realities of why the bill did not include PA and how they could help push the bill as it was. You'll notice that most criticism from those that opposed HB 235 and were upset about the meetings were also saying they were useless to them, but also said 'shame' on EQMD for stopping the meetings for those that did support HB 235. The fact of the matter is, those that supported HB 235 continued to work diligently for the bill. With minimal resources and man power the meetings, especially weekly, really were not conducive from a time perspective.

I hope that we can move on from the division around HB 235. I think that we are. I also think, as Dana has said time and time again, the integrity of both sides to stand by their convictions really propelled us into a place to be seen and recognized.

I'm not sure I will ever be able to bring myself to support anything less than a fully comprehensive bill in the future. Though I believed we gain very valuable knowledge and made important strides... it don't feel it's worth it to take that path again especially if the reality is that it won't pass. Though it very well could pass in 2012 as is. I imagine, as a community, providing we don't fall into a power struggle problem amongst varying groups, the trans community will rise as a force and do the work necessary to really put us into a good position in 2015. Hopefully with strong allies and coalition partners at our side.

I noticed that the whole Facebook fiasco was not addressed. I still believe that EQMD demonstrated a thin skin and deleted many posts of people who did not agree with their tactics. I'd love to hear from the board because my guess is the divisions caused by the HB235 bill and the deleting of dissenting opinions figured into their decision but I imagine it can't be discussed because it is a personnel decision.

Cathy Brennan | April 27, 2011 7:33 PM

Tim - I don't recall you attending any of these meetings, so I am unclear what serves as the basis for your understanding of what happened at the meetings. I attended two out of three of the meetings. They were a waste of time, at that time. EqMD clearly mishandled the discussion around HB 235 in he trans community, but, at that point, the horse was out of the barn, and those meetings accomplished nothing, at that time. The meetings are starting up again next week - if you are so interested in this issue, surely you should attend.

Brandi,

I would hope that legislation would cover anyone, regardless of the permanence of their presentation, but the Maryland bill, for instance, requires persistence. Gender expression is meant to cover those who are gender-non-conforming, most of whom are not transsexual, but gay and straight.

The goal is to protect as many people as possible. It's one thing to split into various sub groups for a host of reasons, but for legislative purposes we try to protect as many as people as we can.

Tim,

Don't call me a liar. I mentioned Facebook in passing, and alluded to censorship of both marriage and gender identity threads. EqMD messed up here big time, but it's not the main point, and is an internal issue for them.

As for the meetings, as Alex and Cathy have pointed out, having attended them, they served their purpose to allow people to vent, and then no longer had any value as those who wanted to work for the bill needed to do their specific jobs (and those who opposed needed to do the same as well). To sit around a table and argue would have been non-productive.

There seems to be a belief among some members of the trans community that EqMD had an obligation to not only listen to them but take orders from them. You hear that today as well. EqMD is a composed of a (c)3, (c)4 and PAC, and they are responsive to their board and no one else. Trans persons who want to be heard need to create their own organizations, which takes time, money and effort. EqMD is following its mission statement, which includes comprehensive trans rights, and it is their responsibility to pursue that goal as their board and membership sees fit. If trans persons want to attempt to influence the organization's strategy, they need to get involved and serve on the boards.

I apologize but your posting had said that EQMD did not quash any voices which it did do on their Facebook page. When you said it was across the board to me it sounded like you were saying that the Facebook deletions happened on both sides which was simply not true. EQMD only deleted people who were critical of their tactics and actually banned some. Now some of those banned definitely deserved it because their attacks crossed a line that shouldn't be crossed. I just wish that EQMD had been consistent even with that policy since they allowed the same abusive behavior to continue from supporters.

Tim, they even censored one of their recent board presidents. It was sloppy work, and I don't think they're proud of their actions.
That being said, managing Facebook postings is not easy, and while I've personally not censored anyone on my wall, I've been tempted.

Cathy Brennan | April 28, 2011 1:57 PM

Tim - I have to say, who cares? You don't have a right to spew your whining anywhere. Period. That's not actually oppression. Start your own blog and say what you want. Do you not realize that there are MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS than this?

Imagine that. You just can't resist. You have to go every blog you post on and attack people though at least here the name calling isn't quite as bad as what you've used elsewhere. It's a shame that you have somehow found a leadership role in at least one group in MD. You are the type of person who does more harm than good. Dana, Alex and I have disagreed about many things but I have a profound respect for them because they makes her arguments and I make mine without bashing. You just can't seem to help yourself. They are the type of people who I hope continue to take up the fight in MD. They don't try to divide the community but unite in fact the theme of the original post.

Cathy Brennan | April 29, 2011 12:32 PM

How is it attacking you to say the concern you raise is dumb? I am not saying you are dumb. I am saying this "issue" you keep raising about censorship is ridiculous - and dumb. The fact that you keep raising it over and over does, in fact, make you whiny. Fact. Not an attack. A fact. You are whiny. You do realize that we have much bigger problems than EqMD deleting comments.

Also, thank you for the compliment. Making whiny gays like you angry is what I live for.

So if I understand you correctly, the meetings were terminated because EqualityMD had already definitively committed to a "no public accomodations" strategy. There was never any intent for the meetings to be a venue for community feedback on HB 235; they were purely for the purpose of soliciting community support for HB 235, and they were cancelled when the hoped-for support failed to materialize.

Why do you think these are mutually exclusive? And why give so much power to EqMD, as if it was in control of the situation?

That has been a misperception of many people. The HGO committee chair said 2/3 or nothing. The sponsor took 2/3. EqMD reluctantly went along. They held meetings to discuss the situation (which, they admit, should have been held much earlier), and discuss it we did. Roughly 2/3 decided to support the bill, 1/3 did not. After three meetings, there was no longer any point in continuing since those who supported the legislation needed to work on it, and those who didn't either went home or worked to amend it or oppose it.

That's all. Nothing conspiratorial about it. The way politics works, unfortunately for those who work for justice.

Cathy Brennan | April 27, 2011 4:05 PM

This is flat-out false, and who are you?

Dana
Thank You for being instrumental in the organization of the gathering!
Let's never allow anyone to take a public accommodation for T-People out of a bill?
If necessary create Public accommodation bills in states that do not have them!
WE should legally be able to use the Restrooms to relieve ourselves! We need to do a campaign that explains that we are not in there to do look at or molest anyone! WE have a movement! Lets keep the pressure up! Thank You again for all the work you are doing!!!

You can't spin your way out of this there is a new reality and it is getting out there in a big way. There is no longer one voice in Transsexual and intersex issues and no longer an umbrella to smother us under.Recently I experienced a very public and dangerous experience Jillian Weiss and several other Trans leaders were informed about it. I will not accept the transgender label in the media or that I am to be automatically branded as LGBT affiliated.Seems I'm not the only one that feels that way. http://iameverywoman.blogspot.com/2011/04/with-all-due-respect-please-stop.html?spref=fb

Me! Me! Me! Why does this always have to be about you? What took place in MD that evening is a prime example of who actually has compassion for other and who doesn't. There is an obvious lack of compassion from people like you who only care about labels and did nothing to reach out to Crissy. Your attitude in this incident gives even less credibility to your constant rants about not wanting to be under the transgender umbrella. Go, we never wanted you there in the first place. And, don't let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

(She won't stop complaining. Just watch.)

If the computer has become your only "friend," you may want to look into other things in life. The big world out there may surprise you.

Monica, the only voices in these issues is NOT just transgender people. Those of us who don't want to be in the transgender umbrella have rights to speak our voices but are constantly attacked for it (lots of personal attacks!). What happens in MD can set a precedent elsewhere. Do you agree or disagree with that? And who is this 'we' who doesn't want people like us around? We are sick and tired of being corralled by people and told to shut up.

And you have no idea if anyone of us did or did not reach out to Chrissy.

WE HAVE A VOICE, TOO!

I'm a non-transgender woman of transsexual history, and I don't mind standing alongside transgender, genderqueer, gay, and bisexual people to fight for all our rights. I'd honestly love it if the separatists wouldn't frame this as "transgenders oppressing and co-opting transsexuals" because the separatists do not speak for all of us.

I am trying to figure out how to respond to what you just said. But basically you are saying you are non-transgender (just like I say), with a transsexual history (just like I say), stand beside everyone for rights (just like I say) and then call me a separatist. LOL. You just separated yourself from the TG crowd and called me that.

Let me ask you this. What would you say to me if I called you transgender?

I would probably say " Whatevs." Though I don't identify as "transgender", as an umbrella term it completely fails to offend me (though I think just "trans" is better). The only time i would be concerned is when people like Brandi downthread use it to mean "non-op wannabe". I think the idea that transsexuals need to be separate from LGBT is unnecessary and I've never heard a convincing argument for it.

Those that do want to separate are free to do so, but they don't have the right to separate ALL transsexuals and every time it's framed as "transgenders vs. transsexuals" it erases those of us who are transsexual but don't have a problem with the transgender umbrella.

Okay, if I leave self-identification aside (and everyone is allowed to self-dentify as they choose, even if the terminology used is confusing), what I understand when I hear "non-transgender transsexual" does not seem to make sense to me, if I am using the definitional structure I normally use.

If transgender means "having a gender identity different from that associated with the gender assigned at birth" that means that non-transgender means "having a gender identity in accordance with that associated with the gender assigned at birth"

If transsexual means "desires or has had GRS"

Then a non-transgender transsexual would mean someone who identifies with the sex assigned at birth, who for some reason has had (or desires) genital surgery to have the genitalia of the opposite sex.

Outside of the "self-identity" rationale, I've always seen transexual to be a mathematical subset of the set of transgender, and while I can see such a thing as "non-transsexual transgender" (which would be mostly the folks who would be bigender, though in some versions of the umbrella, one might see some non-trans people included)

Hmmm. Maybe if the identification were transsexual as "non-bigender transgender" that would make sense. (Though on further reflection, if a really expansive version of the umbrella were used, that would not work, because it would include gay-male-identified part-time drag queens and straight-male-identified "fetishistic" CDs, who wouldn't be bigender, either).

In other forums I have frequented, notably the T/GT Yahoo group (which has mostly been moribund the past year or so), I've gone through a lot of discussion between separatist and inclusionist positions. I think we're probably best off if we just respect the labels that are used for the purposes they are used, and understand that people are allowed to self-identify as they choose, regardless of whether the self-identification makes sense. There is no single set of commonly-accepted definitions - and there is a dearth of ideological common ground between inclusionists and separatists.

My whole above discussion of how I perceive the term "non-transgender transsexual" presupposes I insist on using my own definitions of the terms.

What we should do is try to understand what definitional structure other people are using and to read what they write in accordance with their intentions rather than my own definitions. If I do that, I end up with a lot less semantic noise.

Now, if transgender and transsexual were defined in a different way, such as by "desire for surgery/had surgery" v. "no desire for surgery" - then "non-transgender transexual" would not only make sense, it would be somewhat redundant. (In that definition I would be transsexual).

Then there are those who would not use transsexual to include post-ops - some of whom see themselevs as post-transsexual, and whose definitional basis sensibly indicates that they have already transitioned, they're no longer transsexual. (This is a very nice definition - though it does not stop discrimination without something being done about it on legal status)

I will add that beyond legislation that addresses the human rights aspect of GI&E, there is a lot more that needs doing that one might think of as transsexual-specific - though by transsexual in this context I am specifically including people one might classify as having HBS regardless of surgical status. These include:

* A federal Gender Recognition Act that would allow a sidestepping of state rules such as those in Ohio, Tennessee and Idaho, for federal purposes; a Model Gender Recognition Act for states to adopt. These should be modeled on the state department regulations that allow for medical transition and not solely surgical transition.

* Marriage laws that do not discriminate on the basis of trans status - essentially, gender-neutral marriage would moot any issue that might be had.

* Laws that address health insurance and health care disparities (including medicaid) based on binary "column A/Column B" issues where even post-op trans women need prostate exams, and there are other situations where the strict binary approach does not exactly work.

I'd also like to see the medicalization of transition medical care, and the elimination of GID from the DSM.

I am sure there are other TS specific things I have not taken into consideration, but there is a lot of work that needs doing.

Joann:
One of the reasons I use "transgender" rather than "transsexual" is that outside the trans community, "transgender" is pretty much viewed as synonymous with "transsexual" - and it's also one way to eliminate the idea that anything that ends up with "sexual" is a sexual orientation. The other reason is to carry the gray area.
And why is there this confusion? Who's promoting it against established medical language? Who's rewriting word definitions to suit their agenda without care for those who they are potential damaging?
I have no fear of the word sex in transsexual as to how it applies. What i fear is those who are trying to rewrite medical standards and protocols and adding to the confusion of an already to confused public.
Gender Neutral marriage=labelling any marriage with a man I may enter into as same sex.I'll fight you tooth and nail on that one. I'll support same sex marrige for LGBT who need it but don't you think for even a second that I'll let you place that on me.

I'm confused, and I hope you'll enlighten me.

Who is trying to "rewrite medical language," and how is it being re-written?

Who is trying to force you into a same-sex marriage? You seem to be very frightened about a non-existent possibility.

The Schroer decision sets a very good precedent. The judge stated that we recognize two sexes, and do not allow discrimination against either. Now we also recognize the transition from one sex to the other, and the judge will not allow discrimination on the basis of that transition.

No one is trying to ignore or undo your identity. No one is trying to stifle Dana Lane's voice. I just don't understand the vehemence of some comments which do not seem to be based in reality.

Dana,
I respect what you are trying to accomplish but I think you are missing several points. One is that gender neutral marriage adds another layer to the fight for gay marriage by preventing someone who views marriage as between one man and one woman from having that recognized on their marriage license.Has anyone polled Americans on this one because I'm thinking you'll lose a large percentage who support gay marriage on this including me.
As for trying to rewrite the medical books can you show me anywhere in them that a diagnosis of GID means an automatic association with the LGB?Sure you can say that you respect my rights to self identity and to lobby for myself but how can I do that when Glaad sets the standards for how all T issues are discussed in the media? When LGBT organizations help to promote the idea by not even mentioning it in the news? There is also one other issue I placed out there that I'm dissappointed that you didn't even care to notice or if you did comment on.

Wait, you support gay marriage, but only if it's done in suchva way as to state that marriage is between one man and one woman? That is self-contradictory.

And why would a medical diagnosis dictate what associations someone has outside of a medical context? A medical diagnosis of say, autism doesn't include an association with autist advocacy groups or movements: why would it?

SAS think about this moment America has been sold on the idea of same sex marriages for years.The other side has argued that marriage is between one man and one woman.They argue that the gay community is trying to destroy traditional marriage. Now the LGBT community changes the language to say we're fighting for gender neutral marriages.Nothing like helping your enemies and thats what I see transgender activist doing in Texas.

Um, this still doesn't make any sense. First off, if America was already sold on same-sex marriage we'd have it already. Secondly, if they had one type of marriage for gays and one for straights, that would be super discriminatory and is just asking for abuse (particularly against bi and trans people). If same-sex marriage was fully legal, then marriage would then be gender-neutral whether you call it that or not.

SAS your still not getting it your only seeing what you wish to see.I'm not talking about separate but equal your getting hung up on words.Call it same sex marriage but share the same document. You guys are playing right into the religious rights hands I swear at times I think some of you would rather work for focus on the family.

Or even better just call it marriage.Then you can't claim that I'm advocating separate but equal.But I swear if you guys run with gender neutral marraige you will set gay marriage back a minimum of ten years if not forever.

If both types of marriage use the same document, I cannot see how that is NOT gender-neutral, and I also cannot see how that squares with what you were saying before about marriage being between one man and one woman, or how just using the phrase "gender-neutral" would make your marriage same-sex. You're all over the map here.

SAS if I seem all over the map its because I'm trying to get the same point across to you using different avenues.I only hope that somewhere in all the times I tried Dana or Joann were able to get it.

How does gender-neutral marriage equal labeling your marriage same-sex? "Gender-neutral" would mean that sex status would no longer be a consideration in any marriage.

Sas I support same sex marriage for those who need it but I also believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.Overcoming opposition to same sex marriage is hard enough now add to that totally removing the genders from the document. That is asking for more problems not looking to end them.They are giving the opposition two reasons to oppose gay marriage and using us as tools to do it.

Who said anything about removing it from the document? It would just mean that it wouldn't matter what sex anyone put on it. There wouldn't be seperate documents for gay marriages and straight marriages, everyone would just have the option to marry someone of either sex.

I think Amy is saying that she only supports same-sex marriage if it is implemented as a "separate but equal" counterpart to marriage. She opposes any unified implementation of marriage equality because she fears that unless same-sex marriages are strictly distinguished from opposite-sex marriages, her heterosexual relationship (between a woman of transsexual history and a man) may hypothetically be misconstrued as a same-sex relationship (i.e., between a transgender man and another man).

Yeah, I am just really hoping that isn't the rationale behind it ...

Speaking for myself, I was using it strictly in the "self-identity" sense. "Transgender" as a super-category doesn't bother me.

So in essence what you are saying is that you are okay with being labelled transgender.I don't have a problem with that it is your right.

If the person using the label doesn't mean "fake woman wannabe" like Brandi did, I don't mind it.

You are correct SAS that separatist do not speak for everyone but neither does the LGBT or Transgender groups. This constant fighting serves no one well no matter how they prefer to be labelled.Stating that I am not to be LGBT identified or Transgender labelled doesn't mean I can't stand with them but what puts a damper on it is their failure to acknowledge those differences in a positive way to the larger world around us.

When you think about it, being "included" in the umbrella is useful when one is advocating for civil rights.

I have written a longish essay on the history of trans-inclusion in civil rights laws, which I won't fully repeat here, but most state statutes since Rhode Island in 2001 have followed a formula we usually shorten to "gender identity and expression" when speaking colloquially.

The formulation used in the New York GENDA bill reads like this:
THE TERM "GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION" MEANS HAVING OR BEING PERCEIVED AS HAVING A GENDER IDENTITY, SELF-IMAGE, APPEARANCE, BEHAVIOR OR EXPRESSION WHETHER OR NOT THAT GENDER IDENTITY, SELF-IMAGE, APPEAR ANCE, BEHAVIOR OR EXPRESSION IS DIFFERENT FROM THAT TRADITIONALLY ASSOCIATED WITH THE SEX ASSIGNED TO THAT PERSON AT BIRTH.

The following is an excerpt from that essay of mine:

Prior to the use of the formulation in Rhode Island, legislation to protect the human rights of transgender and gender-different people used various formulas. It was not until the 1990's that the term "transgender" began to be used to describe transsexual and other gender-different people. The earliest ordinance from 1975 was enacted in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and amended that City's human rights law definition of "affectional preference" (what we would today call "sexual orientation"), to include "having or projecting a self-image not associated with one’s biological maleness or one’s biological femaleness."

In 1986, Seattle used the terms "transsexuality and transvestism." In 1999, based on a recommendation from the City of Seattle Commission on Sexual Minorities recommended an amendment to make the law "more accurate, inclusive, and more easily administered."

The language adopted in Seattle may be the first use of language that was adopted at a statewide level in Rhode Island. The Seattle language defined: " ‘gender identity’ means having an identity, expression, or physical characteristics not traditionally associated with one’s biological sex or one’s sex at birth, including transsexual, transvestite and transgendered, and including a person’s attitudes, preferences, beliefs and practices pertaining thereto."

One can see that this Seattle language can be related back to that first Minneapolis enactment, which was the source of the use of the term "self-image" in current definitional formulae.

--

Now, @Dana, I can certainly understand that the "transgender" umbrella in some circumstances includes people beyond those one might classify as having a biological development of Harry Benjamin Syndrome.

If we look at that legislative definition of GI&E (an even shorter, acronymic for "gender identity and expression"), it requires a gender identity - something that everyone has, and provides coveragre reardless of whether that gender identity varies from the sex assigned at birth.

Gender expression is correlative to gender identity - if one does not have a cross-gender (from birth assignment) identity, then "expression" (clothing, etc.) would be a costume and not a gender expression - so, technically, gay men who do drag and those heterosexual CDs who dress up without having a gender identity at variance with initially-assigned sex, are not expressing their gender and would not fall under the legal umbrella. So the constant harping I hear from some quarters about "not wanting to associate with drag queens and crossdressers" is partly averted already. (Why partly? because there are people in the gray area who we might see as outside the umbra who might actually fall inside - There are people who work as "female impersonators" who are transsexual and headed for surgery, and I don;t deny the existence of bigender people, whom I woudl suspect might well have a "lite" version of the developmental difference that we refer to as HBS.)

When I do advocacy for human rights, I am more interested in finding commonalities than I would be in looking for fundamental distinctions.

One of the reasons I use "transgender" rather than "transsexual" is that outside the trans community, "transgender" is pretty much viewed as synonymous with "transsexual" - and it's also one way to eliminate the idea that anything that ends up with "sexual" is a sexual orientation. The other reason is to carry the gray area.

Thank you, this pretty much expresses my feeling on the issue.

"When you think about it, being "included" in the umbrella is useful when one is advocating for civil rights."

Actually, I don't agree with this at all. At least across the board. The public needs to hear who is being talked about when looking at various laws for civil rights. They don't see the "Gender Identity" or "Gender Expression" that is actually worded in the bill; they see Transgender. Then they go look the definition up and there you go. Cross-dressers. They will totally ignore what those with transsexual histories need and focus on men in skirts.

I want to see the word transsexual used so it gives them a clear picture. Or, if a law is targeted at protecting TG and TS folks then "Transgender AND Transsexual" folks should be used.

Talk about me,me,me Monica do you remember when I reached out to you about my being molested by a Doctor a couple years ago? Do you remember the advice you gave to me? You know the don't make a big deal about it take one for the team talk?
Well your doing it again and this time I'm not following your advice.No where in any statement I've made about this incident have I not expressed care for Chrissy unless you want to accuse me of not caring because I understand how mislabelling can add more injury to a person who has suffered enough.In this comment you are replying to I also state that I had an incident happen to me again and I think I rightly believe my safety is still at risk for it. Where is your care and concern? Where in all the comments I've posted in all these years are the comments that say I don't care is it in the one that was chosen comment of the week from Bilerico? I do care Monica thats why I'm here and I also realize that the community for T people is much larger than is just LGBT affiliated. Labelling those who don't always agree with the LGBT message as uncaring, angry or any other label is dangerous and wrong headed. After the recent incident happened I informed the local LGBT center and I reached out to them to work together on solving this problem so far as of last night the transgender coordinator stated that they have been to busy to deal with it or to even read at most a five minute article. This incident doesn't involve just my safety it also involves the safety of any transsexual or Transgender individual attending my college. So Dana I'm reaching out to you and Mara and asking that you reach out and instead of labelling me angry work with me to resolve this problem in a way that benefits all of us to include non LGBT non Transgender identified transsexuals? Do you care enough to do that?

The ironic thing is, as I understand it, Chrissy was post-op (check) and I thing, str8 (double-check). And yet she was *still* attacked, just as if she were a transgender crossdresser...hmmm...

Indeed. There isn't such a thing as a bigot who will look at you and go, "Oh, sorry, I didn't realize you were actually mostly normal. My bad, I'll go bash THOSE people. Wanna join me?"

Carol,
Sadly, it's a point totally lost on the "Labelites." Also sad, some don't even learn when the violence happens to them. The Maryland Trans Community should be commended for their compassion.

Just keep on labelling Monica your getting the point across really well.

Amy, the point is that even if the LGBT community accepts separate labeling of TS and TG, the bigots certainly won't. As I've said before, I agree with distinct labeling as a matter of technical correctness and clarity, but at the same time I firmly believe that we have to fight side by side.

As Benjamin Franklin put it, "We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang seperately."

Well as much as I love Benjamin Franklin and his quotes I got to tell you I'm glad no one told that to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."Letter from a Birmingham Jail" Of Course he might of learned it but was smart enough to know when to disregard it.

Ha, ha! As I suspected, this would go right over your head. There is irony in describing people who love to wallow in the muck and scum of labels by labeling them. There seems to be a beautiful symmetry in this, don't you think?

I understand that the SRS doctors who removed some of the trans women's sense of humor during surgery can put it back. You may want to look into it.

Actually, I'm tearing up as i read this. Well done, Dana. Well done. You and everyone else who was there.

But you're not quite right: something has changed, and not just in Maryland. We're following this, every minute, in the UK. We may not suffer quite such appalling insult and injury, may have a little more legal protection.

But we suffer. Less and less, though, in silence.

We will all, i think, remember Rosedale.

jane
x

Jay Kallio | April 27, 2011 6:50 AM

Way to go, Dana! What happened yesterday at that rally was beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing it here.

I hope to have the honor of meeting you someday.

There is a time for airing disagreements, and a time for healing them and focusing on the struggles and goals we all have in common, though we may differ in the ways we believe we need to go to get there. I value everyone's opinion.

This is a very long road to rights and acceptance, and we may disagree on when and whether to accept half a loaf, or none at all, but I hope we can grant one another the grace of honoring that we all are acting in good faith.

Renee Thomas | April 27, 2011 7:20 AM

Well Dana, I suppose no good deed goes unpunished? Nevertheless, thank you sincerely for all that you do . . . for all of us.

Friends. Thank you Dana and your Maryland colleagues for standing up for Chrissy and all gender non-conforming people who need to use a restroom. Let it be noted that Rosedale 2011 is the trans Stonewall. Chrissy took terrible punishment for being who she is, but her bravery is noticed, understood, and teaching people all over the world. Yes, let's pass MD's nondiscrimination law with public accommodations; let's pass the MA nondiscrimination law with public accommodations. Let's use this energy to make a difference in every state, every county, every city, every hamlet and village and rural route. Let's win on this...for Chrissy and the millions of other folks in the world who face similar punishment and persecution for living lives true to themselves.

Dana,
Thank you for this great piece I hope going forward everyone will be on the same page and we won't have the divisions that we had this year. It already opened some wounds and I know of a few I refuse to work with because of the personal attacks that occured during discussions about both this bill and the SSM bill. There were people on both sides who lowered the discourse with name calling and general nastiness. Unfortunately some on both sides have taken leadership positions which have poisoned the well. I hope that people like yourself speak up more to insure these people don't continue to divide us.

amym440 I'm right there with you I will not be froced under some stupid umbrella with the cders and Drag queens and the non op transgender wannabes who dress inapporeiate for their age wear way to much make up act like fools in public and up and generally have no idea what it means to really be a women....... I am a Women NOT a transwomen nor a trans womem or a Transgender.......Hear me Roar !!!

Brandi Girl I can't see the message that you posted and it may have been banned.I understand your frustration but long ago I came to the realization that beating up everyone under the transgender umbrella isn't the way to go.Everyone is desperately in need of rights that protect them from physical harm and allows them to earn a living.Yes you are a woman but please Roar for the right reasons the full acknowledement of that without all the other damaging labels. I don't want what I am trying to say to viewed as harmful to others because that assumption would be wrong.For me not accepting the transgender label isn't about labelling others as less than or other than it is about not allowing myself to be labelled as less than or other than.

Much props to you for this comment. :)

Thanks SAS and I hope you see that I was responding your comment above in a similar way.

And yet adopting the "TS" label is already an indicator of the "less than or other" in the same hands as those who would view you as such.

If the concept here is that you are "just women" and not "transgender women", then what interest have you here? You should be concerned with women's rights in general, instead of constantly posting in a community that accepts the "transgender" umbrella as a term to indicate individuals who share common struggles related to their birth sex and transitioning to their true sex and then criticizing them for it.

It seems to me that just as you legitimately perceive the term "transgender" to be something used to incorrectly group trans individuals into a political scene that uses and abuses them, clearly other people her view it as an appropriate term to describe an aspect of their lives and struggle.

So how much longer will you continue to post this message? Every time the term "transgender" is used here? Do you seek to have everyone here switch and start referring to transgender individuals as "transsexual" or "TS" even if they don't feel it describes them or until everyone abandons labels and starts discussing topics in vague linguistic? "A bill seeking to strip benefits from people is being pushed in the Senate", "A person was attacked today because they were a person", "The health needs of certain people need further attention and resources". Are you teaspooning for a purpose here?

Do you not see the conflict with your statements? How on earth are we supposed to lobby for insurance companies to drop exclusionary policies for treatment of transsexualism? Women need sex changes? For now, we have no choice but to use labels. I would like to see correct labels used until somewhere in the future where they are no longer necessary.

I'd like to thank everyone for their comments, including those with which I disagree. I do truly believe we're all working towards the same goal.

Just this noon I was speaking on a panel to a group of 65 Hopkins health care students -- med, nursing, dent, public health, grad, etc. -- and, again, as always, I presented being transsexual as a form of intersex, a congenital variation which is a medical and not a psychiatric condition. I imagine Amy and Renee and Desiree approve of that framing.

However, I was sitting next to Monica Stevens, a peer group leader who identifies as trans but is non-op for cultural and financial reasons. She is under the transgender umbrella along with me, and we are working for the rights Joann so clearly explained in her comments. I'm not going to exclude her on the basis of her genitalia. And as a physician I cannot treat a non-op differently, so I won't as a politician.

As has been pointed out, we would not be having this discussion if we simply identified as women and men, and were accepted as such by our neighbors. That day may come, but, until then, we're viewed as a sexual minority of the same general kind as "gay" by most Americans, so our fight is with them. Any prejudice against any sexual minority is wrong.

I also want to highlight a point Joann made but was not recognized. None of the legislation protects cross dressers, or anyone who casually projects a different gender. The Maryland bill used "persistent bona fide" in its definition, other bills are a variations on a theme. The Right attacks us using cross dresser scare tactics, because it works, not because it's in the bill. But make no mistake that they apply their fear-mongering to all the pre-ops and non-ops out there. We will not have a genital police at bathroom doors, so we need to reclaim our privacy regarding our genitals. we are the only community members of whom are routinely asked to describe their genitals. Try that at your next cisgender cocktail party.

Brandigirl | April 27, 2011 5:28 PM

Dana you said

"I also want to highlight a point Joann made but was not recognized. None of the legislation protects cross dressers, or anyone who casually projects a different gender. The Maryland bill used "persistent bona fide" in its definition, other bills are a variations on a theme."

But the term gender expression Does cover Crossdressers and in my opinion also includes those who dress as women who've never had a diagnosis of GI/GID and or whom choose to be non-op, for I don't feel that anyone who truly has the rain gender of the opposite sex would want to keep the wrong genitalia.

Cathy Brennan | April 27, 2011 4:10 PM

Nice job doc - I will even forgive you for perpetuating that stupid "cis" label.

Thanks a lot, you non-trans lesbian.

Cathy Brennan | April 27, 2011 5:25 PM

I see your non-trans label and raise you a unicorn. Oh, and I am identifying as a bunny now. ;-)

Easter is over - time to de-transition.

I am so glad to hear this (and apologize tremendously for failing to follow up on something I'd hoped could help the situation there).

Let's hope this is a big first step on the road to some very badly-needed healing in the community there.

Amy,

I'm beginning to understand - I think. I, for one, has never used the term "gender-neutral marriage." Doesn't sound romantic to me. I don't use "same sex marriage," either. I use "marriage equality," because it implies that marriages, whether opposite gender or same gender, are equal in the eyes of the law. I believe that is a matter of fairness and human dignity.

I don't believe the marriage of two men or two women in any way depreciates the marriage of any man and woman. I think most Americans get that. As for polling, over 50% now say they support marriage equality.

That being said, I don't agree that marriage equality should be the LGBT community's primary goal. I've spoken out against it, and been booted out of an organization as a result. Once we have our basic civil rights -- and that goes for gay as well as straight -- then we should expend resources on marriage. It will all come down to the Supremes in a few years, anyway.

As for GID, it's, for intents and purposes, gone. Any diagnosis of GI will no longer come with sexual orientation qualifiers, so that point is moot. Transsexualism has never had such a qualifier. Physicians and surgeons no longer care about sexual orientation, though it took a long time to get to that point. Stanley Biber used to require a divorce before he'd operate. Hopkins would only operate on women who claimed to be androphilic. The point is that medicine is very conservative institution, changes slowly and is very sensitive to the cultural milieu in which it operates. But there is no rewriting of any language that in any way conflates sexual orientation and gender identity. On the contrary -- much education has been done, and continues to be done, to teach that those are two independent brain functions. And, interestingly, the neuropathology data has isolated a few brain regions that correlate well with gender identity, while no one has locked in the sexual orientation nucleus.

As for the other issue you say I've missed, I apologize, as I've been somewhat busy the past few days.

Dana I fully understand the importance of rights though I may differ on the approach to get there for some of us.I think you have an idea on where I was going with the term gender neutral marriage and to be honest I could probably right a book on why the term gender neutral marriage carries negative consequences for both straight and LGB identified T's and LGB's themselves.
You are right that there are no more sexual orientation requirements but your overlooking the T on the LGB. That in itself flips the burden on to non LGBT trans people and creates problems for us that to be quite honest I don't think allows the LGBT to be qualified to speak on our behalf.Most heterosexual trans people go through the process and get on with their life.The vast majority of states recognize heterosexual trans marriage and very few create problems.Allowing any of those States to roll back while claiming to represent a forward moving agenda is deceitful at best. It is sayng let me drag you down so I can move forward.It also points out that organizations that claim to represent all T people in reality don't. Also part of that problem like I was saying is the T on the end of the LGBT. I believe that for many young transsexuals and transgender people it creates an unfair and unnecesary hardship for them that no amount of legislation can fix. If their parents are non LGBT supporting having that T on the end screws the child. You can blame the parents and I'll even agree with you it shouldn't be that way but it is.Now that we've covered the parents let look at those in the LGBT who are unwilling to sacrifice a T for childrens welfare and to do a better job of really separating the T from sexual orientation.In none of the legislation I have ever heard of is there ever been offered specific legal protections for those children or shelter in a loving affirming environment.There is work to be done and plan on beginning by writing a letter to the President on why allowing the T on the end of the LGB is marginalizing an all ready marginalized enough group. We are not tools to be used by any group or either side of the political spectrum.

All right. So this is really about hetero trans people feeling further marginalized by association with gay people, if only in the public's mind. My solution to that is then not to associate. You're correct in that many states have no apparent problems with trans people in hetero marriages - at least until someone intervenes and complains and it ends up in court, and then each state has its own take on what constitutes sex. I have trans friends who've gotten married in Virginia as one never got her birth certificate changed. They looked like a same sex couple, but the state didn't see them that way.

What I am inferring, and have heard from others, is that straight trans women (I've never heard this raised from trans men) would have been better off had gay folks never pushed for marriage equality. Maybe. Of course, you're not going to get the far more numerous gay community to back off, so the only response is to adapt.
Do the LGBT organizations really care about trans people? Good question, and I think it varies from organization to organization and to people within those organizations. It's clearly a work in progress. Again, there are far more gay than trans folks, and far more gay money than trans money, so that's another reality that must be confronted.

The comments that concern me are that "LGBT speaks for us" and "hetero trans people . . . get on with their life." I don't know what you mean by "LGBT people," whether you are referring to LGBT organizations that support gender identity legislation or to gay trans people.

As for "getting on with one's life," that, I believe, is everyone's goal, gay or straight. Again, I think the implication is that if gay people weren't so public and carrying trans people along with them, then straight trans people would have been able to continue to exist below the radar and would be better off today. Well, we'll never know the answer to that, so being bitter about it is a waste of time. If gay people didn't exist, would straight trans people have it easier? Maybe, but maybe not. Judaism, for instance, has a far easier time with trans persons than gay ones. Otoh, the people who really hate us do so because they see us as mentally ill male predators in dresses, and sexual orientation plays no role in that particular fantasy.

Finally, Chrissy was attacked in spite of her surgical status and hetero orientation. Somehow I believe that is simply inevitable in a society in which so many people are locked into fundamentalist beliefs, and has little to do with the public debate on marriage equality or any other gay issue.

I do accept, however, that straight trans people, male and female, deserve as much consideration as gay trans people. Insofar as I haven't made that clear, I apologize.

Dana,
I really see your reply as the standard blame the messenger reply that I'm all to familiar with.But the worse part is that you skipped over the part that you can't even begin to own up to the collateral damage caused to kids with GID by the T on the end of the LGB.That damage is real and I personally have felt its sting as a child and as an adult.With kids we're not talking about gay or straight we're talking about kids with GID that are negatively affected because the T is attached to the LGB.I'm not saying groups like Pflag and some of the other LGBT groups haven't done a great job helping kids but on the flipside their actions by anchoring the T to the LGB have hurt other children even ones that will grow up to be LGB.Not allowing the Parents to clearly see this as the medical condition that it is regardless of the kids eventual orientation is just wrong.

Now, Amy, this really confuses me. When did children come into this discussion? How do you know I don't do work on children's issues?
I created a gender Seminar series in the DC area to help therapists deal with gender variant children. I've worked closely with the Children's National Medical Center in their program for gender non-conforming children. I've worked with those who are doing research to try to differentiate trans kids from gay kids. I've helped re-write the DSM to be fairer to children. I have participated for seven years in a local support group for parents of gender variant children.

And I remember very well, thank you, the misery of being the kind of child you describe.

So I reject that particular criticism, and, again, if you're alluding to problems you believe trans kids have because being trans is associated in people's minds with being gay, I can't really say more other than that the comment saddens me.

Well,
So much for Bilerico following it's own rules on warning people about off-topic comments.

Isn't it nice that you had no part in that?

Oh, I'm also guilty. I should have expected to be chastised like everyone else, but since they don't even follow their own rules, then even I am getting away with adding to this crap. This wouldn't have even got started on Pam's.

I am actually very entertained by the way you operate here. Thanks!