Saturday, September 6, 2014

South Carolina - don't go there if you're different

This information was brought to me by, once again, my baby, who said something to the effect of, "You're not gonna believe this shit." Yes, dear, I do. Not a big surprise. I'd love to be able to show you the pic that accompanies the article, but it's an Reuters photo, so I don't dare. Instead, I'll give you a pic of Chaz Bono - not the same, but you get the picture (no pun intended). I can, however, give you the link and let you look for yourself.

South Carolina boy sues over makeup removal for driver's license photo

It seems this young man went to the local office of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Charleston, South Carolina, to get his first driver's license. That, of course, requires a photograph. And that's where the trouble started.

You see, Chase Culpepper is a transgendered individual. He regularly wears women's clothing and makeup, and if you'll take a look at the link above, you'll see why. If I hadn't known what the article was about and you'd shown me the photo, I would've said, "Oh, what a lovely young woman!" He says he identifies as a gender-nonconformist. So I guess you're wondering what all the fuss is about.

Let me ask you this: Ladies, if you went to the DMV to have your driver's license photo taken and they told you to take off your makeup because you were attempting to alter your appearance so as to make your identity more difficult to ascertain, what would you say? I don't know what you'd say, but I sure as hell know what I'd say, and it wouldn't be pretty. And I'm fairly certain I'd leave without a license, and most likely in handcuffs. Do they ask women to take theirs off? I'm guessing they don't or we'd already know about it. I don't know about anyone else, but if my makeup didn't alter my appearance, I'd throw it away and go get something else that worked better.

What happened next was predictable. In June, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund sent a letter asking that Chase be allowed to do a retake in his makeup. Three months later, after getting no reply from the state, the organization filed suit. Thank goodness.

Something similar happened to my son years ago during his college days when he worked for Walmart. He had an earring. We're not talking a gauge here, or a hoop, or any of that stuff. We're talking about a simple stud. Management came around and told all of the guys that they had to take them out. And of course, being MY son, he asked a pointed question: What about the women? Shouldn't they have to take theirs out too? He was answered with a "well, that's different" kind of off-hand brush-off. His next question: How? How was it different? How does whether or not you have a penis or vagina determine what kind of jewelry you can wear, or where on your body, for that matter? Doesn't that qualify as sexual discrimination? (That's my boy. I was so proud.)

The issue was dropped. He got to keep the earring. But I'm disturbed that, based on this article, I'm assuming the state of South Carolina had encouraged discussions regarding this situation and those like it in advance so that employees were fully prepared to discriminate as soon as Chase walked through the door. And that bothers me. I'm a little shocked that they didn't make him go to a restroom with an employee and drop his pants so they could confirm that he should remove his makeup. We're not talking about clown makeup here. We're not discussing a mask so no one knew who he was. We're talking about the same makeup women all over America wear on a daily basis. I'm guessing if the kids at his school were shown a pic of him in the makeup, they'd know full well who he was because he wears it every damn day.

The biggest difference in these two situations is that one is a private employer and the other is a governmental agency. Big difference - huge, huge difference. While Walmart could have enforced the rule, let someone sue them, and had the court system hash it out, this is a governmental agency with an obligation to serve the taxpayers. There is little recourse without going to a state supreme court, because that's where it will go, and maybe to the U.S. Supreme Court. And I hope it does. If this isn't settled, here's what you can expect.

Do you have a penis? You can't wear makeup.
Do you have a penis? You can't wear a dress.
Do you have a vagina? You can't wear pants.
Do you have a vagina? You can't hold that job.
Do you have a penis? You can't wear that jewelry.
Do you have a vagina? You can't go to that club.
Do you have a vagina? You can't wear your hair that short.
Do you have a penis? You can't wear your hair that long.

Do you see where this is going? Do you see the precedent this would set? It would essentially open the door to everything we've fought against for years. It would set us back at least fifty years, maybe more. I won't even get into the racial inplications - horrendous.

Before you start spouting bible verses at me and telling me how perverse Chase is, let me remind you, the first time you go to a governmental body and they won't serve you because you don't look exactly as they'd like, hair color, cut, clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc., how will you feel? Don't come back here crying like a little bitch to me. I'll have no sympathy for your bigoted ass - none.

I think the most disturbing part of this, to me anyway, is that this rule was made in 2009, well after LGBTQ issues had come to the forefront and we were doing battle with those who require conformity in all things. Life isn't black and white, folks. If you want the leniency to be who you are, you have to let others be who they are too. It's a two-way street.

So remember: Don't color your hair. Leave your Revlon at home. Watch what you wear. Otherwise, in South Carolina, you may not be able to drive.

I have the solution: Let's all go apply for our driver's licenses naked. No hiding our identities that way, huh? Wonder what they'd say to that?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Reads: One to Keep by Tia Louise

You just never know what I'm going to feature next, do you? I like to keep you guessing. This time I'm featuring a book from a series that I've grown to love. I featured the first book from this series back in July. This is the second, but definitely not the last. This week's read is Tia Louise's One to Keep.

The first book in this series and the namesake of the series, One to Hold, was told in Melissa's voice, and through it we learned how Melissa and Derek came to be together. One to Keep isn't a continuation - it's Patrick Knight's story, in his voice, as it runs somewhat concurrent to Melissa and Derek's story. Starting slightly before theirs, it continues on through theirs and quite a few twists and turns, including a plotline that, quite frankly, I don't think I've ever seen before. I was impressed with that. We see a whole bevy of interesting characters, including Kenny (not a guy), Star (use your imagination), and Elaine, Melissa's friend. You know I don't do spoilers, and I'm not going to make an exception.

Let me just say that Patrick is the quintessential player. Former National Guard, Patrick had come to Alexander-Knight, LLC, as his brother, Stuart, a retired Marine, had taken a job in Saudi Arabia and Stuart's partner, Derek Alexander, needed a new partner. From day one, Patrick's main focus is somewhere between the neck and knees of every attractive woman he comes across. He gets an immediate admonishment from Derek regarding their policy of keeping clients off-limits when it came to seduction. Patrick seemed to believe, however, that the admonishment wasn't extended to coworkers, and he makes a major misstep in that regard. While I followed the twists and turns of the plot in this book, I had to grin.

Because of Patrick. I wanted desperately to hate him, but I just couldn't. Along with his super-ego and cocky attitude, there was something charming, disarming, and childlike about Patrick that I just couldn't resist. There were more than a few times that I wanted to absolutely throttle him, shake him, slap him, or ask him what in the hell he was thinking or, even more telling, what he was thinking with (and I was pretty sure I knew the answer to that question). He's Tia's version of my Steve McCoy, that guy who's far more multi-layered than he first appears, and far more loving and tender than I thought possible.

I loved this book as much as the first one. Yes, I want to know more about Derek and Melissa, but I more than enjoyed watching Patrick and Elaine's relationship bobble around in the ebb and flow of Patrick's crazy, sometimes irresponsible, always touching self-awareness. Even though I didn't want to, I found myself cheering for him to get where he needed to be and be where he wanted to go. It was a crazy ride, but one that I hope continues in later books in the series.

Don't miss these. They're too much fun.