The following post comes from Tricia Obester. Tricia and her husband Jon adopted their son Langston in 2008. In addition to being an adoptive parent, Tricia is also the proud daughter of a gay man. She hopes that as the holiday season begins this year, more LGBT individuals and couples will consider adoption.
Holidays = Family. Perhaps it’s the family we’re born into. Perhaps it’s the family of people we choose to surround ourselves with, who love us unconditionally. If we’re lucky, it’s both.
That’s why it makes so much sense that National Adoption Month comes at the beginning of the holiday season. My ball -of-energy son came into my life (and that of my husband’s) through adoption. Holidays are so much more with a child – more fun, more meaningful, more tiring (in a good way!). Adoption is a life-changing experience and one that we – as a straight couple – want available for everyone. So many children are in need of permanent, loving families and we know for a fact that LGBT people can provide those.
We know Martha and Julie, who delight in taking their daughters for nature walks to collect leaves and other treasures. We know David, who sold his condo and moved into an apartment so his Guatemalan-born son could attend a bilingual school. We know Greg and Chuck, whose last proud email featured a photo of their adorable son on his first day of preschool. And most importantly, we know my own father.
As I wrote on a t-shirt I wore to a rally years ago, “I am the proud daughter of a gay father.” I didn’t know this growing up. What I did know is that I had a loving dad who had married my mother and had three children. Whether my dad accepted that he was gay then or not (we haven’t discussed it), I understand that in the mid-1960s, a young man who had grown up in a Catholic, conservative family and wanted children didn’t have the options that many LGBT people have today. I’m thankful things went the way they did, of course, resulting in the productive, happy lives of me and my siblings. But I see how much happier my dad is today now that he’s living as his “true” self – a gay man who remains a loving father and is now an adoring and adored granddad (as illustrated in the picture of him here with my son).
For me and my husband, creating a family through adoption was a choice made largely due to infertility. But we made sure the adoption agency we worked with (The Barker Foundation in the DC area), was welcoming to all families. (And through Barker, we’ve met a couple where both dads are pediatricians – what a lucky child!). The backgrounds of children available for adoption (and foster care) are varied, but they all share one defining need – that of a permanent, loving, stable family. For those who are thinking of welcoming a child into your home, let me tell you that there’s nothing like a child to make you feel both completely energized and entirely exhausted. But at the same time, our adoption has brought us endless joy. We are excited to support HRC’s efforts to create more joyful families with LGBT dads and moms (and granddads!). Happy holidays to all.
Interested in adoption? Join HRC tomorrow at 4 PM EST for a live online showing of the film Gay Parents Speak (watch trailer). After the film, we are hosting a virtual panel during which experts will answer your questions on adoption. RSVP Today!
The Haidian district park in Beijing, which I suspect is the Mu Dan Yuan park described by the AP as "a popular outdoor hangout for gay men" (heh), was raided on Saturday and Sunday nights by officials who removed some 80 men and detained dozens for questioning — and even blood tests. The cruising crackdown comes ahead of China's National Day, on Oct. 1. Naturally gay and AIDS activists there are furious, and Beijing's Public Security Bureau isn't saying what laws the men are suspected of breaking.
TRANS FRIENDLY? | Judge Lynn Cherry, right, is shown alongside drag performer Chanel during Stonewall Democrats’ 2008 holiday party at the Round-Up Saloon. A few months later, Cherry ruled against a transgender DART employee and overturned a gender-marker change. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)
DART stands accused of bigotry and transphobia after attorneys for the local transit agency intervened in family court last year to challenge a gender-marker change granted to an employee.
According to court records, a transgender DART employee obtained a court order in February 2009 directing all state agencies to correct their records by changing her gender-marker from male to female, including on her birth certificate.
As Dallas Voice reported last week, many Dallas County judges have been routinely granting gender-marker changes to transgender people who meet set criteria — including documentation from licensed medical personnel — since the Democratic sweep of 2006.
The DART employee, who’s name is being withheld to protect her anonymity, later presented the court order to the transit agency’s human resources department and requested that her personnel records be changed to reflect her new gender.
But DART’s attorneys objected to the gender-marker change and responded by filing a motion seeking a rehearing in court. DART’s objections prompted 301st Family District Court Judge Lynn Cherry to reverse her order granting the gender-marker change.
“Where does this stop when an employer can start interfering with your personal life and family law decisions?” said longtime local transgender activist Pamela Curry, a friend of the DART employee who brought the case to the attention of Dallas Voice. “She was devastated. This should be a serious concern to a lot of people — everybody — and I just think this story needs to be told.”
Judge Cherry, who received Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ Pink Pump Award for her support of the group last year, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment this week.
Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for DART, noted that Cherry reversed her order before the agency actually filed its motion for a rehearing. However, Curry alleges that DART’s attorneys met with Cherry privately and pressured her into reversing the order.
As is common with gender-marker changes, the case file has been sealed, but Dallas Voice obtained copies of some of the court documents from Curry.
In their motion for a rehearing, DART attorneys Harold R. McKeever and Hyattye Simmons argued that Texas law grants registrars, not judges, the authority to amend birth certificates. They also argued that birth certificates could be amended only if they were inaccurate at the time of birth.
“It’s not a DART issue, it’s a point of law,” Lyons told Dallas Voice this week, in response to the allegations of bigotry. “The lawyers concluded that the birth certificate could not be altered by law, unless there was a mistake made when the birth certificate was completed, and again, the judge changed the order before we even wound up going into court with it.”
Asked about DART’s LGBT-related employment policies, Lyons said the agency’s nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression. The agency, which is governed by representatives from Dallas and numerous suburbs, also doesn’t offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.
Lyons didn’t respond to other allegations made by Curry, including that the agency has fought the employee’s transition from male to female at every step of the way.
Curry, who helped the employee file her pro se petition for a gender-marker change, said the employee has worked for DART for more than 20 years and has an outstanding performance record.
The employee began to come out as transgender in 2003 and had gender reassignment surgery more than three years ago, Curry said. Curry said DART supervisors have at various times told the employee that she couldn’t have long hair, couldn’t wear skirts to work and couldn’t use women’s restrooms at work.
The employee has responded by showing up at work in her uniform so she doesn’t have to change and using public restrooms on her bus route, Curry said.
Supervisors have also told the employee she can’t talk to the media and can’t join political groups, such as Stonewall Democrats, Curry said.
“She’s intimidated and she’s scared,” Curry said. “One supervisor even suggested to her that if she doesn’t lay off it, they will mess up her retirement.”
Elaine Mosher, a Dallas attorney who’s familiar with the case, also questioned why DART intervened. Mosher didn’t represent the employee in the case but has handled gender-marker changes for other clients.
Mosher said the employee’s gender doesn’t have any bearing on her ability to do her job at DART.
“My argument in any gender marker matter is, the birth certificate was wrong, that’s why they had to go through the transition surgery, in essence to put them in the correct gender,” Mosher said. “All I can tell you is that it seems strange to me that DART would care one way or another what the gender marker of anybody that works for them is.”
Moster added that she believes someone at DART may have been “freaked out” by the employee’s transition from male to female and developed a “vendetta” against her.
“I wish I had a good explanation for why [DART got involved] other than the fact that I know there are people out there who are utterly blind and prejudiced for no other reason than they are,” Mosher said. “I compare it to some of the nonsense African-Americans had to live through in the ’60s.”
Mosher also said she’s “very surprised” that Cherry reversed the order granting the gender marker change.
Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats, said she’s heard “bits and pieces” of the story but isn’t sure of all the facts.
Moore said in response to her questions about the case, Cherry told her she couldn’t talk about it because it’s still within the timeframe for a possible appeal.
“Lynn is a longtime supporter of Stonewall and I would think she would be fair in the case,” Moore said. “I’m confident she’s an ally to this community.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2010.
You’ll see it spelled in every combination. So what’s correct? The AP Style book says Hanukkah. But in Hebrew it’s spelled chet-nun-vav-kof-hey. Begins with a gutteral ch, one n, one oo, one k, final h. (Other vowels understood. That’s a Hebrew thing.) So Chnookh is the exact transliteration.
But in Hebrew transliteration, spelling doesn’t really count, as anyone who has driven on any highway in Israel knows. I once missed an exit on Hwy. 2 for Caesarea because the transliterated signs also spelled it Qaserea and Kaserea on subsequent signs. But I digress.
This has become my preferred spelling: (C)han(n)uk(k)a(h).
2. I don’t like holidays that glorify war.
OK, I admit it. I’m a child of the 60s. I protested the Vietnam War and I slept in a ditch with Cindy Sheehan along Prairie Chicken Road in Crawford to protest the Iraq War. Hanukkah commemorates a battle victory. The first recorded guerrilla war in history.
If I was an Al Qaeda supporter, I could understand celebrating the creation of terrorism as a military tactic. But I’m not. So I don’t.