November 12, 2015

Call to Action: Support Gov. Cuomo’s Action to Protect the Trans* Community

Category: Call to Action — Tags: , , , , — Pride Center of the Capital Region @ 2:54 pm
cuomo call trans rights pic

Dear friends,

As you know, the Governor will direct the State Division of Human Rights to introduce regulations to prohibit harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity, transgender status, and gender dysphoria in the areas of public and private housing, employment, credit, education and public accommodations.

Beginning Nov 4, for 45 days, the public will be allowed to comment on this regulation and we are all encouraged and urged to do so.

Submit comments to:
Caroline J. Downey, General Counsel, Division of Human Rights
One Fordham Plaza, 4th Floor
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 741-8402

Public comment will be received until: Monday, December 21st.  (Preferable to submit by Friday, December 18th.)

Please note, it is imperative that your comments include not only praise for the governor’s bold and strategically smart action on behalf of our community but that we also call for the codification of these anti-discrimination measures through the passage of NYS law with the passage of the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act immediately. While the regulations are strong, legislation is strongest and of course the regulation does not include hate crimes protections and could be overturned by a new governor  (unlikely but possible).

So please consider drafting your own comments and tell your own story. Please include  why this regulation is important in your life and your family and for all Trans and GNC NYers and also include a statement that reflects this:

I strongly urge full support and swift action that endeavors to pass GENDA in 2016, which will strengthen every other measure taken by NYS to protect and bring justice to New York’s Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming community.

Thank you,
Michael Weidrich
Executive Director & CEO


May 1, 2014

Getting Older Isn’t What It Used To Be-Aging in Transgender Communities

Category: General — Tags: , , , , , , — Pride Center of the Capital Region @ 11:43 am

Today we’re pleased to share a special complimentary online edition of our CommUNITY magazine feature, Trans View, by columnist Moonhawk River Stone. In keeping with CommUNITY‘s May theme of Vintage Pride, this month’s column focuses on the topic of aging in the transgender community. We hope enjoy the read.



Trans View #122 

by. Moonhawk River Stone

© 2014


            First off my heartfelt thanks to Loree Cook-Daniels for writing the Trans View guest column for the May 2014 CommUNITY. As an ally to transgender people Loree is without peer and has over the decades contributed mightily both to our knowledge about trans elders and services for them. I am so grateful for her, and for all of her steadfast hard work on behalf of LGBT people, especially transgender people.
            In my column, an online only companion column, I’m going to touch  base about some issues beyond policy making for older transgender people.
            Times are changing rapidly for LGBT people with the increasing recognition of same-sex marriage, the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) policy clarification for transgender marriages among them. I mean, who would have thought 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago, that SSA  would be talking proactively about transgender marriages and clarifying policy so spouses receive the full benefits they are entitled to receive. I mean, really? For that we have the progress in same-sex marriage to thank as well as our own transgender advocates.
            Older transgender people come from basically four different cohorts:
1) people who transitioned medically and legally decades ago and have faded into the woodwork ; 2) people who did various kinds of transition related actions and never changed their documents, or had surgery (Billy Tipton, Virginia Prince come to mind here) and who lived very stealth (secret) lives; 3) people who transitioned medically and legally decades ago and who remained in the public eye; and 4) the ever increasing numbers of older transgender folks transitioning in their 60’s, 70’s and yes, 80’s who are seeking access to care in their elder years.
            Finding the transgender individuals in cohorts #1 and #2 is proving to be quite a difficult challenge. They are vulnerable populations, not connected to the larger trans communities, the result is that they may suddenly be outed without their permission, they may be denied health care, denied access to partner benefits from government agencies, denied inheritance, and suddenly find themselves homeless and without financial resources or face a premature death because they have avoided being seen in a health care setting because of their transgender status. They are a high risk population.
            Transgender individuals in cohort #4 are the emerging population gaining much notice in the media. People who have yearned their whole lives to transition, people who have had failed or truncated transitions are increasingly transitioning. People who have waited until their partner of many decades has passed are transitioning. One of the challenges here has to do with surprising adult children and grandchildren with news that has been kept secret for a long time. Most elderly transgender people do not have access to genital reconstruction surgeries, either the out of pocket cost is a choice between maintaining a retirement fund–and a standard of living or spending it on surgery. Many elderly transgender people have their social security money as their sole income. Medicare does not yet cover the cost of genital reconstruction surgeries (of any kind), but will cover the costs of mental health counseling and hormone therapy. The Veterans Administration has similar coverage. There is also prejudice within medicine about giving hormone treatment or surgical treatment to elderly people.  There is really not much known about the effects of hormones on elderly bodies, and treatment approaches are largely anecdotal. Elderly transgender individuals often have other health challenges which make surgery a more risky undertaking. Transition for older people brings a mixed blessing–getting to finally be who you are, but, maybe, not being able to surgically transition.
            Transgender elders also need to have access to proper legal advice in order to fully protect their assets and property and their identity. Many states have rigid rules about gender marker documentation and will not be flexible concerning that when a transgender person dies. Several high profile legal cases have involved the issue of late life transgender marriage, and inheritance with the transgender person being the one who suffers. Economic access to quality trans-legal services is also an issue in many localities.

            For the larger community and society, we are quickly closing a window of opportunity to collect the wisdom, the stories and the videos of transgender elders. Transgender elders can give us a very unique glimpse of transgender history from an individual perspective that is so valuable. It is important that we capture and remember the time before it all changed and transgender became (not quite yet, but almost) a household word. It’s something like the stories my grandfather told me about walking to school barefoot, and riding his horse when he got older to do errands for the family. Trans elders do really come from the last century one that saw tremendous change for transgender people. They have so much to offer us in stories of courage, survival, living one’s truth, and just how risky and closeted things were back then. They are pioneers to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. Until next time…T

March 5, 2014

Read This: LGBTQ Stories to be Told

Category: General — Tags: , , , , , , , — Pride Center of the Capital Region @ 12:30 pm

The world is full of untold tales of LGBTQ individuals whose stories and struggles often go unnoticed. On the Pride Center blog we want make an effort to shed light on some of these individuals’ stories that we have come across.

This week we’d like to share two stories we came across on NPR’s website.

The first story concerns two LGBTQ individuals, Oscar Martinez and Camila Fierro. Oscar and Camila’s story highlights the important role that parents play in regards to when and how their LGBTQ children decide to come out. Both Oscar and Camila were raised in the USA, but were born to parents who had immigrated from Honduras and Chile, respectively. At the time of their parents’ upbringing, neither of these countries was a safe place to be openly gay, which led to some parental concern when Oscar and Camila came out. Click through here to read Oscar and Camila’s full story on NPR’s website.

The second story tells of Sami Younes, a trans-man whose story is emblematic of the different types of challenges associated with being an LGBTQ POC (person of color) and also the shows the impact that our cultural backgrounds can have on our outlook. As with Oscar and Camila’s story, Sami’s story also shows the importance of having strong familial support in our lives. Click through to read Sami’s full story on NPR.