Repeatedly, I have spoken and written regarding the necessity for a full, true and complete human rights amendment to the US Constitution and yet I still find myself embroiled in the necessity to continue in this quest.
As each day passes, with the names of newly murdered victims to add to the list to be read and remembered this coming November on Transgender Day of Remembrance, I am reminded that the need for equal rights in this country is greater than ever and will remain as a constant reminder that the need to garner support from around the world will never cease until we finally come to terms with the truth.
From the right-wing Conservative Christians who have somehow confused gender with sexuality, there is now a call to boycott the Girl Scouts for allowing a young transgender child to be openly accepted and welcomed. Come on now, a child of this age hasn’t even entered puberty or even begun to discover sexuality. How can anyone of good conscience send a blatant and clear-cut message to a child stating that because this child was born with a birth condition that they are somehow not worthy to belong or fit in. This is the same group that boycotted JC Penny when it was announced that they had selected Ellen DeGeneres as their new spokesperson. This is such obvious ignorance and cannot be tolerated by any civilized society. As Ellen would say and has repeatedly said on her show, “Be kind to each other.”
At every turn they attack anyone whom they perceive as different. I believe these are the same Christians who sought to deny inter-racial marriage. The only preventative measure is the enactment of an amendment to the US Constitution which would guarantee the rights of all US Citizens.
Recently in New Hampshire there was another attack on the freedom to marry. When we continue to allow voters and legislators to have the power to strip away the rights of other citizens because they are different, the result is that all of the LGBT citizens in this country remain at risk, as do the next group of citizens under attack.
Do we have a congress-person in office who would be willing to sponsor such a bill? I do believe that if we begin to strongly protest the abuse, and flood our Congress with requests for such a bill, we can and will see it happen.
David and I are asking you to join with us and petition your congress person to sponsor such a bill. Join with us in stating that enough is enough and let your country know that you are also a tax-paying citizen who is entitled to the protection of our Constitution.
I’m not sure where we’ll be this coming November, yet wherever we are our voices will be heard loud and clear before, during, and after the election. One of our stops on tour will be in Washington, DC for visits to the offices of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Until such time arrives when a constitutional amendment is in place, rights can and will be deliberately stripped away through the election of more right-wing politicians.
I must point out that in order for us to lead the rest of the world we must do this by example. How can we as a country protest human rights violations in another country while we allow our own violations to be openly displayed to the rest of the world? In essence our example is equivalent to the condoning of brutal murders around the world against the LGBT population.
David and I are both pleading with you to begin to donate to your equal rights organizations that are willing to go the distance. Personally, I endorse the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, The NCLR, Equality USA in each individual state, National Center For Transgender Rights, Human Rights Campaign, GLAD, PFLAG, and the Transgender Law Center. Yet it takes more than money; it takes your own personal involvement and your own voice. It is time that we all unite and band together for the change we wish to see.
It is time to go to the rooftops and shout your truth of freedom, grasp your rights with a tight fist, and refuse to settle for less than full equality. How many more people need to be beaten, tortured, and murdered? The concept that Uganda is so far away and has no real impact on your life because you are not the one in danger is an irresponsible position for anyone to take. What is happening in Uganda with the new legislature condoning a death sentence has the full support of those same right-wing Christian Missionaries who have not only encouraged the death penalty for gays but have gone so far as to advocate and promote death. They will stop at nothing which is an extremist religion not so different from other religions they are condemning.
Personally, I have felt and experienced their wrath, and at age 61 I refuse to allow anyone to ever relegate me to a back seat on the bus. I have walked in those shoes and took it upon myself to trade those shoes in for the ones I walk in today. During my life, I have had to experience homelessness, hunger, shame, defeat, persecution, and imprisonment because I am a transgender woman. Somehow through it all I discovered my talent for writing and public speaking. While I was imprisoned I discovered my true worth through the study of law and I began to fight back. It is through this strong determination that I finally found true victory and my own healing process began. There have been many days where I didn’t know if I had any strength left to go on but somehow, miraculously, I did.
Yet, wherever I go I witness others who have been so beaten down by society that they no longer can stand on their own. They have given up and feel they don’t have a voice. So many are going hungry daily, living on the streets, in shelters or surviving on Disability in State Run Hotels. They don’t know where to begin and it is our responsibility to become the voices of the silenced. I have personally witnessed the physical and verbal abuses faced everyday by a portion of our society and understand why they have chosen to give up. It is for these voices of my people that I must use my talents as a writer and activist. It is for you that I lift my voice, and I refuse to give up. It is for you with whom I have broken bread at Trans-Thrive and the Ark of Refuge, to those of you who attended my workshops. It is for those of you, who have walked with me in friendship down the streets of San Francisco, to those I shared a place in line with at Glide Memorial, and to all of you who have given up on yourselves that I write.
Imagine losing the love and respect of your family, friends, and life as you always knew them to be. Imagine being cast away by the only love you’d ever known. Imagine life without the possibility of a job. Imagine being relegated to living in a shelter or sleeping on a sidewalk and being forced to sell your body for food. Imagine hunger and the lack of knowledge of where your next meal would come from, if ever. Imagine a life without hope because you were born a transgender person. Imagine the loneliness and desperation. Imagine that all that remained was sinking deeper into the mire of depression for lack of love until one day you ceased to exist. How many times can a heart be broken before it withers away and dies for the lack of love and acceptance?
It is for you the voices of the silenced of my people that I must write. Even at this great distance I have not forgotten you or our plight for freedom. Your faces and your voices inspire and encourage me daily. I will never forget your stories which you so honestly shared with me which I now take to the world. It is you who inspire and encourage me everyday.
At the end of this month BULLY will open in theaters and I urge everyone who can afford a ticket to please grab someone who can’t afford the ticket and take them as your guest. How many youths and adults alike must die from suicide caused by the condemnation and judgments of the bullies before we finally enact true legislation which would protect the rights of all humans? Children who bully learn this behavior from adults.
I was once one of those youths who thought it would be easier to die than to go on living and it was after two suicide attempts that I finally decided to somehow survive. My heart goes out to all the children of our world who are struggling so hard to survive. Please band with us in the message of full, true, and complete human rights for all. Together we shall rise, and rise, and rise. Together we shall find freedom as we lift and build each other up.
Good Morning Dear Friends,
Married life with David gets better everyday. It’s a joy to have an incredible partner in every avenue of life. We laugh together, we create together, and now we are underway with the work on the screenplay for Bound Between Love. How lucky are the two of us to have finally been brought together. There’s no stopping us now. Today is our second week anniversary as husband and wife.
Yesterday, I received word from Jim Herring, the private investigator for the law offices of Marie Mattox, my civil rights attorney, notifying me that he was finally able to retrieve my entire case file from the public defender’s office. This is another victory.
Last July I began this process of requesting my file with a certified letter to Susan Rogers, my former public defender. That would have included every document I provided to her in preparation for my defense in 2007. I never received a phone call, letter, email, or further communication. Later, I visited the public defender’s office only to find out that Susan was now with the State Attorney’s office as a prosecutor. I requested my file again and again with two more visits to the office of the public defender. At the last visit I spoke to the head of the public defender’s office and he assured me that his staff would find my file, copy it, and provide it to me for the upcoming lawsuit. He gave me his word that I would receive a call from his secretary no later than the following day. After almost two weeks had passed with no phone call or any other communication, I called Marie Mattox’s office and asked them to file a formal request. It was then turned over to Jim Herring.
According to Federal Law under the Freedom of Information Act, I was legally entitled to receive this file and all other documents pertaining to me. Was this another attempt to violate my civil rights? Does anyone think it a bit strange that my former public defender is now with the State Attorney’s Office? Well, I do. I should not have been put off for over 6 months when it is public knowledge that a Notice Of Intent To Sue had already been filed. I think that Panama City officials believe that they themselves are above the law. I will ask for a full federal investigation into the legal practices of Panama City, Florida.
At the end of this month the Notice of Intent to Sue will have run its full course under the legal requirement and now we will be able to move forward with the lawsuit in the Federal Courts. This has been a long and arduous journey and I am looking forward to our day or days in court.
My hat goes off to George and Nick Clooney, Dick Gregory, the congressmen, and all others involved in the recent protest outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington, DC. Our voices can only be fully heard when we are willing to go the limit for human rights.
The violation of human rights in Uganda is another case where we must become willing to go the distance. Imagine living in a country where you can be put to death for being your authentic self, or to be kidnapped from your own family as a child and forced to participate in the slaughter of innocent human life. The time has come to go the distance and say enough is enough. Human life is valuable and all humans should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Regardless of how tough times may have been in my own life I cannot imagine the kind of fear that humans are suffering in other parts of the world. This is insanity in its highest form. David and I are willing to go the distance and this is why the Foundation For International Justice is one of our top priorities today.
Through our meditations, prayers, and activism, it is our true desire to bring light and love into our world through kindness and generosity. You may say that I am just one voice and I don’t have the fame of George Clooney, yet I share with you that you can use your own voice just as effectively if you’re willing to go the distance. When we combine our voices to the highest level of refusal to allow the violations of the most basic human rights, our voices will be heard around the world.
Change has never come easily or without sacrifice. We are each other’s keepers and we all hold the responsibility to effect the change we wish to see. For much too long there has been too much of “What’s in it for Me?” Each day David and I wake with the attitude of what can we do or give to another to lighten the load of another human who is struggling at this moment. What can we do to enlighten, contribute to the dignity of another, and encourage another in such positive ways to raise their self-esteem? It is through the realization that all people are divine creations worthy of love, kindness, and generosity. Jim Jensen, the former CEO of Thousand Trails, my mentor and my boss, taught me this: “We will never be truly successful in life until we are willing to bring every human to their highest level of success.” What is success? For me it is the freedom to live without fear and to know that I am a good and valuable human in this journey we call life, where I am free to contribute my talents for the betterment of society as a whole. I choose to do this without judgement as to who is worthy. I believe all are worthy and I walk without the condemnation of another.
The concept of separation is another issue that has been around almost from the beginning of human existence. In my book, A Most Perfect Love, I describe my near death experience and my return to our place of origin. Some of the wisdom which was given to me then has now formed the beliefs I share here. The concepts of condemnation, judgemental-ness, separation, greed, selfishness, sin, and all the way to the belief in death are human taught beliefs which do not exist in our true place. During my time there it wasn’t necessarily the things which were told to me that have had the greatest impact; it was the essence of the purest form of energy in existence. It permeated all that is. It is the energy of all that is which is devoid of all the man-made and taught beliefs – leaving only the one truth. That one truth is unconditional love untainted by mankind. It is that energy which we all seek at every moment of every day in our human lives. Our desire to love and be loved always has been and always will be. At the innermost recesses of our true being we feel separated from that and that alone. Yet it is available to each of us right here, right now. I begin each day by connecting to what is always available, the Divine Source of all beginnings. We can never truly be separated from it.
The concept of separation has an incredible flaw as do all the other beliefs we so dearly hang onto. That flaw is this; we were created to seek the highest good for all concerned in each situation. When we are not in human form we have the ability to see all outcomes of every situation and we carefully select the one path which will benefit each other for our highest good. In human form we do not have that ability to the same extent. This is why we continue to make errors in our judgements. Fortunately for all of us we have an extremely competent team of spiritual guides, angels, and of course the Divine Energy of ALL THAT IS working on our behalf correcting our human errors. This is why I choose to work towards our ultimate goal without judgement or condemnation. We all make errors and we all need and want to love and to be loved. These are the common bonds which will always remain our one constant.
It is when we remember this that we can come back together and begin to create Heaven on Earth. Love, acceptance, kindness, and generosity for all mankind is our true mission; not the destruction that is made through control and stripping away the rights of all mankind and our Mother Earth. To provide human rights to all persons does not and cannot steal away the rights of another.
Today, let us join together in our bond of love and work towards the creation of all that is for the highest good of all concerned.
I have heard repeatedly that this is a Christian nation from the politicians running for office seeking the vote from those Christians who not long ago believed it was their right to own slaves, and then to deny the basic human rights to women, then blacks. These are the same so-called Christians who believe in the condemnation of other humans whose skin color, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender normalities differs from their version of some strange form of Christianity.
A question I have frequently asked, is what ever happened to the KKK, and the answer I come up with is that they traded their white robes and hoods for business suits, went on to college, and ran for political office. Today they are are so called conservative right wing who repeatedly run for office to enact their version of unsatisfactory partial equal rights for their select. I say, they pervert the law and openly deny equal protection under the law. They wish to pick and choose and if you don’t fit into their idea of religion then you must go. It is their desire to relegate you to the back seat of the bus and make sure you remain there in silence.
I say this nation is not a Christian nation at all. If it were we would see honest Christian like behaviors from them and we would live in a land free from greed and murder and in a land where all are truly equal. The United States was created for the right of differences in religion and for the protection of those rights from anyone who wanted to judge, condemn, or put some one to death for their beliefs. Today our country is made up of hunderds of religions. Today the US is a land of all religions, races, creeds, and colors. Today we live in a land where we are the blending of all creation, all genders, and sexual orientations. We are the perfect blending of all creation. It will only be when the rights of all are protected equally that we will live in the land of the free.
As a world leader it is our responsibility to begin the change right here first and then take it to the rest of the world through example, not war.
Today we have the choice to become the change we wish to see by simply asking what can we do to lift another human to a higher place? What can I do to bring a bit of joy into the life of another? What can I do to prevent the destruction of more human lives? It is all within our individual power that a lasting change can and will come. This is the NEW EARTH whose time has come.
By now everyone knows that David and I were married on March 3rd – just two days ago – at high noon in Bay County, Florida. Our last gift of the evening was the invitation to watch the live-stream of “8.” As we tuned in and watched the unfolding of this incredible and honest accounting of the trial, I felt compelled to write this article.
While watching the accounts of the witnesses, I could relate so deeply to the emotional issues that we all face. In California transgender marriages have been legally recognized as legal marriages since the 1970s. For that reason, Transgenders are not included in this suit, which is now waiting to be heard by our nation’s highest court. It is inevitable that Gay and Lesbian rights will be secured through the Supreme Court. It’s about time. Here is my question: Will those constitutional rights be in a constant struggle as is Roe v. Wade, constantly coming under attack with new legislation every year by those who remain in ignorance and attempt to strip away the hard fought and hard earned equal protection under the law?
I believe such rights will again come under attack, and again I advocate for a full and complete human rights amendment to the United States Constitution so that this cannot happen with the passing of one administration or one Supreme Court Judge. In The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson eloquently states and reminds us that Our Creator has endowed us with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Yet today we live in a nation that would leave it up to the voters to define another person’s happiness. The only way this right can become fully protected is through such an amendment to The United States Constitution. Yet it is urgent that the LGBTQ Communities be represented in the highest offices of Government.
Transgenders are the last remaining class of individuals who will not be protected under a Supreme Court decision regarding Proposition 8. In most States in our Nation transgender marriages are not protected under state laws.
The most recent example is the invalidation of Nikki Araguz’s marriage in Texas. We have a beautiful young woman married to a firefighter who tragically dies while fighting a fire in the line of duty. Yet during her grieving process her rights are stripped away and she is not allowed to collect widow’s benefits. She is destroyed by the media, harassed, and made to feel as though she is damaged goods not worthy of equal protection under the law. Personally I know all of those horrible emotions.
What about the invalidation in Texas of the marriages of Christie Lee Littleton who was denied the right to sue on her husband’s behalf for wrongful death, and J’Noel Gardiner in Kansas who experienced the same denial of equal protection and was prevented from inheriting her husband’s estate?
The courts in many states are invalidating what should be legal marriages as same-sex marriages and denying equal protection of the law, in order to strip loving spouses of all legal rights. This is insane, unjust, and unfair. In every instance these are transgender women who have become the targets of extreme discrimination.
As the play “8” closed the curtain so to speak, I turned to look at David and said: “Regardless of the marriage license provided to us by Bay County, I am still not secure in the fact that our marriage won’t be challenged or reversed.” David quickly reminded me that this also affects him and he will fight to retain our legal rights as husband and wife. His exact words were, “Nobody will ever take you away from me.” This is our marriage, and these are our rights.
Memories of my own experiences within the justice system still loom large and the pain of those days has been indelibly stamped into the memories of my life. It is a pain that can only be healed through the protection of all humans. I recall being told – by the investigator Dennis Smith, who had been a part of my supposed legal team assigned to protect and defend me – that I would burn in hell for changing what God created.
I recall Detective Aaron Wilson of the Parker Police, who responded this way to a question I asked him as he walked me in handcuffs from the Bay County courthouse to the jail for booking yet once again: “When will this end?” I asked. His response was “When you quit.” I asked, “When I quit living?” He glared at me with the most vehement hate and disgust in his eyes. When we arrived at the jail he ordered the female booking officer to take me to the restroom and verify my gender. He did this so that everyone present would know that I was a transvestite. First of all, I am not a transvestite, I am a transgender female. The pain of my heart swelled to tears running down my face while I begged the officer not to put me through this humiliation. I could feel her compassion as she asked me to please not cry and shared her own disdain of the detective’s request. Yet she was legally obligated to follow his orders. Later that day in the holding facilities of the county jail I was forced to go through the same humiliation again.
These were not isolated incidents – they have repeatedly been my experience over the past fifteen years. Equal Protection under the Law from all corners must come into existence. Thank God to this date I am the only transgender (to our knowledge) who became a target and was imprisoned simply for being a transgender. Yet, this happened to me and it can happen to others. Because I was born differently, I lived in the midst of the most ignorant and unfounded hate against a human. I cannot and will not be silenced and it is my greatest prayer that not one other transgender be subjected to such violence on an emotionally devastating front.
This morning I read an article about the transgender woman from Jakarta, Indonesia, who was once the nanny to President Barack Obama when he was a young boy. It is a must read for those wanting to understand the discrimination we transgenders face around the world. Because The United States as a country is a world leader, it is our moral and legal obligation to lead by example and send legislation through our Congress, Senate and ultimately to the President for signature, amending our Constitution to include all humans. NO ONE SHOULD BE LEFT BEHIND!
My husband and best friend David Webster has feelings he would like to add to this posting so I say thanks to all of you who have shared in our dream of equality and in our joys of matrimony. I ask only one favor: please let your voices be heard in Washington and stand with all of humanity in the Equal Protection of Law for all people.
I am truly blessed to have met Erica. We soon became best friends and writing partners. We quickly fell in love with each other and we discovered that we are true soul mates. Now we are husband and wife and we are extremely happy. I am really lucky because she thinks I am cute and funny, to boot. Erica is the love of my life, we are life partners, and we are both dedicated to working for liberty and justice for all humans on Earth. We will begin with a Constitutional Amendment and then take the transgender cause to the United Nations and the individual leaders of every country on Earth. We seek to promote change within existing governmental systems because this is the way that offers the best hope for lasting change without causing harm to anyone.
Erica and I grew up in the 1960s – it was a time of the Peace Generation and the “Flower Power” movement. I am very lucky to have been a successful Rock and Roll musician from 1962-1971, and I did not have to suffer the horrible injustices that Erica endured, nor did I experience the horrible hate crimes or witness the murders of transgenders that occur every day all over the world. I am honored to be working with Erica for her Foundation for International Justice.
It is our intention to help create Heaven on Earth through education and political action. We believe we can only have true life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when these unalienable rights are guaranteed by law for every person on Earth.