Friday, January 2, 2009

MY NEW YEAR’S DREAM OF A BETTER WORLD

New Year’s Day is a day of boundless hope tempered this year by searing reality. The years in development credit crunch continues with no clear end in sight. As a result, new employment creation is at a virtual standstill as businesses small and large no longer have easy access to the fresh capital needed to expand. Further tempering this is the on-going run of small business and corporate bankruptcies and failures. So there is plenty of economic material available to justify wallowing in gloom and doom.

To combat this temptation I choose to take a longer term look at things. This current recession will resolve itself in time and the credit markets will loosen up. Employment will begin growing again, and consumer confidence will once again turn from negative to positive. Only time can tell whether Wall Street investors will be able to regain the $7 trillion in paper asset value the markets lost in 2008.

From a long term perspective, this is but a hiccough in life’s path. So rather than wallow in abject misery driven by fear and worry, my mind is focusing on the world that will still exist when this nightmare is over. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in 1963, I dream of a better world.

Lying within the human mind is an ability to produce great works when inspired. Fortunately, many of these are very positive. Great works of literature, art, architecture and music are examples, as are the major breakthroughs in science and technology that make modern life possible. Sadly, others are works of great evil, as seen in a recurring pattern throughout history. For the gender variant, my mind envisions a world free from evil’s predations. With a new Administration set to assume the mantle of power in Washington, D.C., I feel it is once again safe to dream of a bright, positive future.

I dream of a world where all mankind is safe and free to move about the planet as whims or opportunities arise. In this world, effective laws provide protection from hate, and other violent, crimes by removing truly dangerous criminals from society. In this world the transgender community is finally free to boldly move forth free from fear of becoming a crime statistic, and free from the fear of arrest for using the public restroom that matches their inner identity, rather than the one flagged as appropriate by some piece of paper (like a birth certificate).

The Preamble of the US Constitution asserts that mankind is granted certain rights by his creator, including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” In the modern world, pursuing these bedrock rights requires access to money, which means holding a job. Too long have racial minorities, the disabled and handicapped, older workers, women, and members of the GLBT community suffered from various forms of the same discrimination and persecution visited upon African Americans for the better part of a century following America’s Civil War. Consider the parallel: for decades throughout the South, drinking fountains and restrooms were routinely labeled “Whites Only.” today, fully dressed male to female transsexuals risk arrest and incarceration just for using women’s restrooms. Apparently law enforcement would rather they enter a men’s restroom while outfitted in a skirt, blouse, pantyhose and heels. This rank discrimination must end.

Along this line, it is now all too clear that the soon to be departing Bush administration is by far the most blatantly transphobic Administration in history. In the name of the “war on terror” one regulation is explicitly anti-transsexual. Employers are now required to cross check employment application information with Social Security records, and any applicant (or current employee) whose application form gender indicator does not match SS records must be rejected. A regulation like that does not belong in a free, democratic society. Likewise, pre-op and no op transsexuals must submit to being identified by their birth identification on US Passports while post op transsexuals can list their real gender without opposition. Finally, recently implemented changes in Federal health care policies may make it impossible for transsexuals to receive any medical care at all.

As a case in point: a few years ago, a pre op transsexual woman was injured in a Washington, DC traffic accident. Even though her injuries would not have been fatal with proper medical attention. However, when the responding EMTs discovered her transsexuality, they laughed and allowed her to die unattended at the scene. Under these new regulations, by claiming transsexuals violate either their personal values or their religious beliefs, they would get away with murder. In the world I dream of, such regulations do not exist.

In this world of which I speak, comprehensive health care is available to every citizen without regard to ability to pay, sexual orientation, gender identity, or citizenship status. This would be true universal health care that covers all aspects of cradle to grave medical needs, and would cover all costs attendant to the transsexual journey, including feminizing plastic surgery and reassignment surgery. In time, all chronic diseases would be cured through a combination of stem cell and gene therapy. Indeed, in this world, physicians would be able to practice medicine free from the burden of bureaucratic red tape and record keeping mandates that have nothing to do with sound medical decision making.

Changes in Federal employment law would guarantee a true living wage for all employees, along with time and a half for all employees, without regard to job title or employer’s economic sector. The practice, reportedly widely practiced in the retail sector, of requiring employees to work for free, or “off the clock,” would be rendered illegal by new laws that would require full back pay for all such hours. Likewise, employees would be meaningfully protected from sexual harassment on the job, and would be protected from termination for any reason other than job performance.

In this world, the family would be strengthened by the churches being restored to what they were in earlier eras: institutions that focused solely on the spiritual needs of their congregations and on helping the less fortunate members of society. Separation of church and state would be strengthened in the Constitution and become a two-way barrier: government would be prevented from regulating or controlling religion in any way, and the churches would be blocked from controlling government. At the same time, gay marriage would be converted into a non issue by a simple change in terminology. Unions entered into in a religious ceremony would be called marriages, in accordance with custom, while those entered into in a secular ceremony presided over by a public official would be called civil unions. Both options would be open to everyone without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.

This world of which I dream would finally bring to fruition the dream that Dr. King so eloquently expressed in August, 1963. I have kept that dream alive within myself since his murder in 1968. Within my being that dream is of a time when people are judged on what they can do, not who or what they are. When mankind reaches that point we truly will be “free at last.”

is the world portrayed above merely a pipe dream, or can it be achieved in our lifetimes? I truly believe the world portrayed above is attainable in time IF the transgender and LGB communities can come together and form a united front consistently pulling in the same direction and sharing the same message. In 2009 I truly hope this united front does emerge and begin speaking with one voice.

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