Friday, November 23, 2012

Just in time for Thanksgiving...announcing our December Ally of the Month!

When we put out the call for Ally of the Month submissions back in October, we were thrilled to get so many responses! Sadly, for so many reasons, Superstorm Sandy delayed our announcement a bit. But we are pleased to make our announcement for December just in time to give thanks for this wonderful ally...Jami Patterson!

Read her submission below - and then plan to send us your own submission next month. You might just see YOUR story here as our first ally of the month in the new year!
December Ally of the Month
Jami Patterson
I am a straight married woman who, frankly, loves all people unconditionally and I truly do not see the difference in anyone. Most certainly not for who we love. I have three children, two are teenagers. The world I want to show them is one of love and respect for all of God's creations. I teach them to be vocal advocates against bullying, and share their special uniqueness with the world, and embrace that in others.

When I decided to become a Life Coach I chose to focus my business on the LGBT community, because of a young man that was staying with us. His time with my family was a game changer for me. I have now embarked on a journey to reach parents of gay children to help them listen and understand their children. I also reach out to adult children tto repair any damage that may have been caused by not being accepted as a child.

As for the young man I spoke of, I stood by his side as he married the man of his dreams and  he can now see his own beauty. I began volunteering at the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk, CT and quickly became the  Vice President of the Board.  I spend a portion of every day working on projects for TCC and creating awareness for equality and unconditional love for ALL!

Monday, November 19, 2012

2012 Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20th marks the 14th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred and prejudice. Gwendolyn Ann Smith, the founder of TDOR, describes the day’s purpose: “It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, … honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national difference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.” As we honor TDOR, we look at the progress that has been made for transgender equality and the work that still must be done.

PFLAG’s Transgender Network (TNET) began at the PFLAG National Conference in Indianapolis in September 1995. TNET provides education on issues unique to the transgender community, and focuses on issue advocacy to ensure equal rights for the transgender community at local and national levels. With the support and advocacy of TNET, PFLAG became the first national LGBT organization to officially adopt a transgender-inclusion policy. In 1998, PFLAG added “transgender persons” to the organization’s mission statement, and in 2002, the PFLAG National Board of Directors adopted a policy resolution stating that it would not support equality legislation unless it included all of the LGBT community, including transgender individuals.

With this commitment to full equality, PFLAG has been integral in creating inclusive language in critical legislation. For example, in 2007, “gender identity” was removed from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in hopes that a less inclusive bill would help the legislation pass. PFLAG, however, insisted that gender identity be included in the bill. During this time, PFLAG Board Member and TNET leader Dave Parker said, “I can’t support ENDA because they’re isolating my child.” The Board then unanimously voted to not support ENDA without language to protect transgender individuals. 367 organizations subsequently withdrew support from ENDA in 2007. Today, thanks to PFLAG’s advocacy for complete inclusion, ENDA encompasses protections for gender identity and sexual orientation. However, ENDA has yet to pass in Congress. The bill currently has 171 cosponsors in the House and 43 cosponsors in the Senate, and PFLAG continues to advocate for a trans-inclusive ENDA to become law.

Maintaining this commitment to full equality, PFLAG is proud to announce the newly formed Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) Advisory Council. This select group of PFLAG leaders will offer guidance to better inform the decision-making process for the Regional Directors Council, a network of PFLAG members who act as liaisons between PFLAG members and national leadership, on the organization’s strategic priorities as they are related to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals and communities. The Advisory Council will continue TNET’s mission and provide guidance on how best to educate the PFLAG-network and surrounding communities to ensure better support for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals and their families.

There is still much work to be done to bring full equality and protections for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals and the entire LGBT community. We hope the TGNC Advisory Council will help to further equality, and we are confident that with the support and hard work of dedicated parents, friends, family, allies, and LGBT individuals, progress will continue to be made. We will continue to advocate for equality and honor TDOR so that no more individuals are lost to hatred or prejudice.

For More Information: To learn more about TDOR, click here.

To access PFLAG’s Welcoming Our Trans Family and Friends, click here.

It is critical that ENDA become law so that all people are protected from workplace discrimination. Please click here and tell your elected officials why you support this vital legislation.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trans-Kin: a Guide for Family & Friends of Transgender People

Trans-Kin is a new resource for transgender individuals and their families, friends, and allies. It is a collection of stories from significant others, family members, friends, and allies of transgender persons, or SOFFAs, as Trans-Kin refers to this group. “The purpose of this guide for family and friends is to provide a safe space for SOFFAs to share their own journeys, in some ways similar and in other ways quite different, from their transgender loved one,” says Trans-Kin’s website.

The collection includes 50 personal stories as well as a comprehensive glossary, list of frequently asked questions, and resources. Trans-kin, or the kinship of transgender people, experience journeys simultaneously as their transgender loved ones do. They experience an emotional process of coming to terms with the transgender status of a loved one, and often experience a need for safe space to explore their own emotions and potential identity challenges. “As resources grow and expand for transgender members of our society, so too must the resources for their Trains-Kin.” This collection offers one of the first comprehensive guides for trans-kin.

On Trans-Kin’s website, Dave Parker, the book’s editor and the leader of PFLAG’s Transgender Network (TNET), said, “Those of us in the transgender community – transpeople and allies alike – will recognize many of the authors and most of the situations the authors experienced. Even so, there is much to be gained by reading and sharing this latest publication.”

The editors of Trans-kin, Cameron and Eleanor recognized the need for a guide to help SOFFAs process the transgender status of a loved one. Cameron, a transgender man, is currently working on his Ph.D. in Sociology, and Eleanor, an ally of the transgender community, is a Senior Instructor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

We applaud Cameron, Eleanor, Dave, and every person who contributed to this great resource. Trans-Kin is deeply aligned with PFLAG’s mission, as it offers support and education for transgender persons and SOFFAs. The stories in Trans-Kin will help transgender individuals, their families, and friends better understand their own journey while also fostering a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

For More Information: To learn more about Trans-Kin and to order your copy today, click here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elections Bring LGBT Victories

The 2012 Elections brought monumental strides for LGBT equality. Tuesday’s elections brought support for marriage equality in four states, an ally in the White House, and a record number of openly LGBT individuals elected to Congress, including the first openly lesbian Senator, Tammy Baldwin. “We are elated and we celebrate the power of grassroots organizing and the countless people who worked so hard to achieve these victories.  The family and ally voice is what made the difference and it will be what continues to make the difference moving forward,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby in a November 7th PFLAG News Release.

In addition to these wins, LGBT individuals and allies also have an ally in the White House for the next four years. In May, President Obama publicly announced his support for same-sex marriage. The President also signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law, extended hospital visitation for same-sex couples, and repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Though President Obama furthered LGBT equality in his first term, there is still much work to be done. “We call on the President and his Administration to continue the important work of creating a fair and equal country for Americans, including LGBT Americans,” said Huckaby.

Tammy Baldwin also made history last night becoming the first openly LGBT politician and the first Wisconsin woman elected to the U.S. Senate. During the campaign, the Wisconsin Democratic Representative promised to support investments in infrastructure, education, and research to create jobs. “I didn’t run to make history,” said Baldwin in her victory speech. “I ran to make a difference, a difference in the lives of families struggling to find work and pay the bills.” Baldwin’s sexual orientation marks a historic win for LGBT equality, but it rarely came up on the campaign trail, demonstrating that Americans realize that what is most important is a candidate’s qualifications, not his or her sexual orientation. Baldwin is one of four openly gay House members, along with Barney Frank, of Massachusetts; David Cicilline, of Rhode Island; and Jared Polis, of Colorado. PFLAG was honored to have Frank and Polis at the 2011 National Convention where Frank spoke about the power of PFLAG and family acceptance and Polis discussed his strong support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. These openly LGBT Congress people have paved the way for LGBT equality in politics and legislation.

“But as we celebrate, our membership of parents, families, friends and allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people—and LGBT people themselves—in all fifty states, in all types of communities and from every faith background, are acutely aware of how much more work lies ahead,” said Huckaby. We urge our elected officials to further equality by repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, increasing workplace protections for LGBT individuals, and making schools safer for all students. While we celebrate these Election Day wins, we look forward to the continued work that lies ahead.

Friday, November 2, 2012

LGBT Candidates Breaking Barriers

As Election Day looms closer and closer, it’s important to take a step back and realize some of the incredible gains that electoral politics have made in promoting LGBT equality. Only in recent history have candidates been able to safely come out—it’s no longer necessary for our elected officials to hide their true identities to be successfully elected by their constituency. This progress has been made not only in smaller, local campaigns but on a national scale, with Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), and many other members of Congress running for their seats after breaking barriers to become the first generation of openly gay Representatives. In this year’s election cycle, there are eight openly LGBT candidates running for Congress, including the first Asian-American, Mark Takano, and the first openly bisexual candidate, Kyrsten Sinema. Also notable is House of Representatives Candidate Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, who is one the first openly gay members of the Republican party. This record number of openly gay candidates for federal office is truly inspiring—it shows that American’s are willing to accept their elected officials for who they are, and that being a member of the LGBT community can be considered an asset to governing, not a detriment.

A similar trend is happening among state and local races. In an incredible and notable first, in a race for Colorado State Senate, there are two openly gay candidates running against each other. There are also numerous other candidates across the nation who have been brave enough to publicly acknowledge their sexuality as they ask for American votes for various offices. We are proud to be part of a movement towards equality that has allowed every American, including those who run for office, to feel comfortable in voicing every part of their identity. A political candidate’s sexual orientation has absolutely no affect on their ability to govern and make successful, well-informed, productive decisions for their community, and this has become clear through the inspiring leadership of the first generation of openly LGBT candidates. Our election cycle in 2012 has seen a record number of candidates for office open about their sexuality, and we look forward to seeing that number rise in every future cycle. 

Action Alert: The best way to show your support for openly LGBT candidates is to go VOTE. Election Day is on Tuesday, November 6th. Make sure you, your neighbors, family and friends all get out to the polls and support candidates who will push equality forward.