Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘lgbt rights

Bridges, Walls, and Transgender Rights

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This past week was a very frustrating one in many senses, folks.

First, we had the “announcement” of a transgender ban from military service by the President of the United States, Donald Trump, via a Tweet. (Something the Joint Chiefs of Staff had no idea was coming, much less the ordinary rank and file.)

Next, we had utter chaos at the White House as one of the new staffers (a guy I won’t name) decided to go on a profane rant. And rather than be fired, as anyone else would’ve been from any job anywhere, this particular new staffer was more or less praised by the President. (Or at least excused by him.)

Look. I believe in building bridges, not walls. I think we need to learn more about each other, in order to become more compassionate, much less wiser, people. And trying to understand the other person’s point of view is essential, or you can’t get anything done in that regard.

But I don’t understand the President’s point of view at all, here.

Donald Trump, in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, talked about how he was for LGBTQ rights. And the T in that stands for “transgender.”

Granted, if you had to ask me to ask one person whether the sun was rising in the East and setting in the West, I would pick anyone instead of Donald Trump. (I might even pick my dog, Trouble. He’d not be able to answer me, but at least he’d look cute.)

Still. Since transgender soldiers were allowed to serve openly in the military, they’ve done a fine job. No one’s seemed to have any trouble with them. They’re soldiers, like anyone else. They do their jobs, like anyone else. And no one’s ever questioned the fact that the United States military contains some of the best trained fighters ever seen.

(And make no mistake about it: I fully expected this to be the case. A trans person is a person like anyone else. And trans soldiers want to serve their country like anyone else does, too; give them credit for that fact, Mr. President. Please?)

I would’ve rather seen a bridge built here, rather than the wall of Donald Trump’s Tweet. I’d rather Mr. Trump had spoken to the transgender soldier retired from Seal Team Six, who could’ve given Mr. Trump a very solid education on the entire subject. I’d rather Mr. Trump had spoken to any soldiers, including Senators Lindsay Graham and Joni Ernst, who would’ve told him that soldiers of any persuasion, creed, color, sexuality or gender preference are worthy of care and will do the professional, thorough job that soldiers of the U.S. military are known for.

I tried to say that myself on my little-used Twitter account, but I was immediately given short shrift by a few of Mr. Trump’s more rabid followers. They believe that Mr. Trump was right to do this, because supposedly being trans is a “mental disease.” Or that it really is too expensive to give trans soldiers the care they need, which is absurd considering the immense amount of the military’s budget. (Supposedly, the military spends more on Viagra for male soldiers’ impotence than they do on the care for their trans soldiers. I wouldn’t doubt that for a minute.)

I know, myself, that as a writer and as a human being, I want to know more about people who feel marginalized and misunderstood in order to give them hope that someday, they will feel completely accepted and fully understood. That’s why I wrote my book, CHANGING FACES, and it’s why I believe firmly that we need to build a bridge to the trans community, and learn more from them, rather than exclude them out of hand as if they don’t matter — or worse, pretend that they don’t exist.

The Deity must have a reason for people coming in all sorts, shapes, creeds, sexes, genders, and yes, even differing political philosophies like Mr. Trump’s. But I don’t understand why anyone needs to be obnoxious in spreading his or her own political philosophy, especially if he hasn’t studied the subject at all, as it appears Mr. Trump has not.

For someone who said he was for LGBTQ rights, Mr. Trump had a horrible week.

But the trans soldiers had a worse one. Because they realized, perhaps for the first time, that this President does not have their back. And that is a very sad, even shameful, thing.

A Note about PrideFest…and CHANGING FACES

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Folks, it’s been a while since I wrote anything about my most troublesome, yet rewarding book to write — that being the LGBT fantasy/romance, CHANGING FACES. (Fantasy only in that it has angels, really. But whatever.)

As PrideFest is going on in Milwaukee this weekend, I thought now was a good time to remind people that CHANGING FACES is available. What better time is there to celebrate romance regardless of form than PrideFest? Especially when one of the couple is of non-standard sexuality?

(Yeah, I’m going to use it as a tie-in. Sorry. But I hope you can forgive me anyway.)

CHANGING FACES cover

While I’m not LGBT, I’ve always supported my friends and colleagues who are. I hope I was faithful to the struggles a gender-fluid person who always used the female pronoun might have, and about the unusual situation two angels put her and her boyfriend into. All because their love refused to be denied.

So, there’s romance, there are angels, there’s lots of other good and interesting stuff going on…and it’s only ninety-nine cents as an e-book.

(Yeah. Ninety-nine cents.)

Please go check it out, will you? And if you think you’d like it, please buy it, read it, and most definitely review it, as I need all the help I can get.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 10, 2017 at 8:54 pm

Flu, Day 5, and Newest Guest Blog

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Folks, I start to slowly improve.

My voice is better. I have a teensy smidgen of energy. My temperature is down and stays down, providing I don’t do very much…still can’t write much, still can’t edit, and thinking is slow, but I’m a whole lot better than I was over the weekend and am grateful for that.

Anyway, I have another guest blog up today at Confessions of an Eccentric Bookaholic…doesn’t that seem like a good place for me to be appearing? (Hey, eccentric is one of the nicer things I’ve been called in my life. Something about being a SF&F writer makes most people say, “What?” and sidle away, slowly…)

This, of course, is in support of CHANGING FACES, my newest novel, a LGBT-friendly contemporary fantasy/romance.

Here’s a bit from that guest blog:

Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about Changing Faces, and what compelled you to write it.

Barb Caffrey: Changing Faces is all about the power of love regardless of outward form. I wrote it because I saw two people in love—Allen Bridgeway, a heterosexual man of thirty, and Elaine Foster, a bisexual and transgender woman of twenty-eight—who were about to make a major mistake. Elaine felt that Allen could not understand her being transgender, you see, as she has just told Allen and he’s floored. (She uses “she” as the default pronoun, is a feminist scholar, and there’s absolutely no way he could’ve known this.) Allen wants to marry Elaine, but doesn’t know what to make of these revelations; Elaine is so upset that despite a nasty winter storm, she demands to be taken to a hotel. So Allen drives her, inwardly praying that they not be separated.

And his prayer is answered.

They will get a second chance at love, but with conditions. He’s now in her body. And she is inside his, but in a coma, speaking with an alien/angel known as an Amorphous Mass (a type of shapeshifter). He can tell no one he’s Allen; she cannot speak with anyone except the alien/angel. Both still want to be with each other, but how can they get past this?

Thus, Changing Faces.

M.C.: What is your book about?

Barb Caffrey: The power of love, and the realization that LGBT people are just like anyone else. They want love, and happiness, and understanding, and to be desired for themselves. And that if someone can see inside you—see your soul, rather than the outward form of your body—that’s what true love is all about.

Allen truly loves Elaine. The outward form doesn’t matter that much to him, even though at first he is absolutely thrown when she tells him, at long last, that she is transgender. She feels she’d be better off in a male body, but she’d still want to use “she” as her pronoun, and that is just deeply confusing to him. He loves her, and wants her, and desires only her…even when he’s confused, and doesn’t understand what she’s telling him, he does know that much.

Which is why he prays, and is answered…

In case you think this is giving short shrift to Elaine and Elaine’s wishes, though, don’t. Elaine, too, actually wanted the same thing. (These aliens/angels do not exist in our linear time, exactly. So one of them knows that Elaine, on her deathbed, after becoming outwardly male, wanted another chance with Allen and felt she’d made a bad mistake in refusing to stay with him.)

That’s why the aliens/angels do this. They believe in love. And they want love to have its day, even if it means both Allen and Elaine must change their faces so they can have another chance.

As I’ve been saying, I think CHANGING FACES is an important story for our current political climate, especially considering the Trump Administration’s recent reversal of the previous Obama directive regarding transgender students and bathrooms. (I wish we didn’t need a federal policy on this; my friend Kamas Kirian commented a few days ago about this, in fact. But there are some states that are less forward-looking than others, and it’s in those states in particular that the LGBTQ community needs its rights protected.) Reminding people that folks who aren’t straight are the same as everyone else and want love, compassion, personal satisfaction, and happiness is important right now.

Did I write this as a message novel? No, I didn’t. I wrote it as a romance, period. But if you want to see a message there, beyond the fact that I think souls are a whole Hell of a lot more important than bodies could ever be, I’m not going to stop you from seeing it.

Beyond that, if you’ve already read CHANGING FACES, please go and leave a few words about it. I have no reviews, currently, and am having trouble finding anyone to review it at all…to spend nearly fifteen years on a book without any reviews (and not the sales I was hoping for, though the year is young and all that) is very difficult.

Granted, I’m still dealing with the flu, so maybe it seems worse than it is. Still, I urge you to please read my sample chapters at Twilight Times Books if you haven’t yet checked out CHANGING FACES, then go pick up a copy as an e-book as it’s still just ninety-nine cents.

Now, I’d best get back to resting, so I can kick the remainder of this flu.

 

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 28, 2017 at 5:42 pm

Thoughts about Transgender Bathroom Rights, and Newest Guest Blog

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Folks, some days I just get so frustrated, I want to scream.

Why? Well, today’s news is that the Trump Administration apparently wants to rescind the Obama Administration directive regarding transgender students and bathrooms. The Obama directive more or less said that transgender students should be able to use the bathroom that suits their own, internalized gender; the Trump directive, which appears to be imminent, would rescind this directive and make trans students use the bathroom their outward gender would dictate instead.

This is incredibly annoying in many ways.

First, a young person who already identifies as being in the wrong body for their psyche is not looking to “convert” anyone. They just want to use a bathroom that makes sense to them.

Second, a young person who feels like he or she is in the wrong body already needs all the help he or she can get to figure out himself/herself. Being able to use the restroom that he or she identifies with is an easy thing to do to help, and preventing that person from using that same restroom just helps isolate that person even further.

So how does rescinding the Obama directive help anything?

The only point the people on the right who are in favor of rescinding Obama’s directive (which, fortunately, are not that many) have seemed to say is, “Well, this way, boys can’t use female restrooms by pretending to be girls!”

My answer? If these overly-concerned people really believe young men, already an angst-filled subset of the population, are going to suddenly identify as female to use female bathrooms, that is just silly.

(A young man who does that deserves what he gets, in other words.)

Anyway, I’m a straight woman. I’ve never dated a woman, never kissed one either, and never plan to do so — I am attracted to men. But that does not mean I don’t understand how stupid this is.

So, compared to that, my latest guest blog, about my route to publication, seems very small. But as I’m the writer of a book about two troubled souls who both end up transgender (and stay very much in love with each other), CHANGING FACES, I figured I’d let you know what I think.

And even though it is a very small thing in context, do, please, take a look at my newest guest blog. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Who knows? Maybe it’ll remind you that trans people are just like anyone else.

Because they are.

#PrayforOrlando — My Thoughts

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Folks, it has taken me over a day to codify my thoughts, because I’m so enraged by what happened in Orlando, Florida last evening.

For those of you who don’t yet know, there was a horrific mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida during the wee hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016. So far, fifty people are confirmed dead, and there are fifty-three known to be wounded…but the death toll could still go up. Because the gunman — someone I shall refuse to name as I believe he forfeited his right to a name the moment he opened fire — was anti-gay and supposedly pledged allegiance to ISIS on a 911 call, and because Pulse was friendly to the LGBT community, this act was not only a hate crime, bad as that is.

No. It was even worse.

It was an act of domestic terrorism.

My heart is aching, as I write these words. I do not understand how anyone could do this, for any reason. I do not appreciate the fact that someone so hateful was an American citizen, and most of all I do not like it that I have no outlet whatsoever for my rage other than to post this flag — a gay pride rainbow flag at half-staff — in this post as a symbol of my solidarity with the LGBT community:

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I wish I could do much more than this, because I am enraged.

Enraged that this horrific, senseless act could happen in the United States.

Enraged that someone so twisted had been able to qualify as a security guard, for pity’s sake. Because the shooter was a security guard, he had weapons, and he used them brutally and callously to take life for no reason whatsoever except his own, obnoxious self-aggrandizement.

Enraged that my LGBT friends, gentle souls, all, now have to worry that they could be next, victims of copycats eager to get their repellent names and mugshots on television…because as usual, the media splashed the name and picture of the domestic terrorist in as many nooks and crannies as they could, as this is standard operating procedure.

Enraged that there isn’t more focus on the innocent and tragic victims who died or were wounded at the Pulse nightclub than there is on the excrescence that was the allegedly human being who decided that he knew better than God/dess as to who should live, who should die, and who should be irrevocably wounded, body and soul, for the rest of their days by this abhorrent attack.

Enraged that once again, on American soil, we’ve had a mass shooting.

Enraged that once again, our politicians will do nothing.

Enraged that once again, our hearts are broken, and no one seems to care about mending them.

So, because of that, because of all that, I urge everyone to think good thoughts, send positive energy, and/or pray for the people of Orlando right now. Somehow, some way, help love to win — the love of our fellow men and women of all genders, sexual preferences, colors, creeds, and religions. Somehow, some way, remember those bright souls who died, and help those who survived the massacre to heal as much as they possibly can…

In other words, make love stronger than hate. Please.

And give extra care to your friends and neighbors right now, most particularly to those in the LGBT community. They need to know their friends are with them, and that we will never forget this horrible day for as long as we live…much less that we will work for better days and brighter futures for us all.

That’s all I know how to say right now.

———

Edited to add: One of my Facebook acquaintances just pointed out that when he turned on CNN yesterday afternoon, they said, “We will only name the shooter once this hour.” After they named him, they took down his picture and said something to the effect of, “Now, let’s concentrate on the much more important people — the victims.”

Thank you, CNN! (Now can everyone else in the media get behind this idea? I was once a student journalist, and I know the people I worked with all felt the same way as I did. But standard operating procedure is to name the gunman over and over, it seems…we must change this, and start doing what CNN did yesterday.)

A New Low: NC Law Legalizes Discrimination Against LGBT Individuals

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Folks, I am really steamed right now.

A few days ago (March 23, 2016, to be exact), the Governor of North Carolina, Republican Pat McCrory, signed into law a bill that’s so widespread in its ability to legally discriminate against LGBT people, it defies belief.

Why?

Here’s what this bill, called HB 2, allows for in North Carolina according to the Huffington Post:

North Carolina’s General Assembly voted Wednesday to block cities and counties from passing protections against LGBT discrimination in a wide-ranging bill that could have enormous implications for the state.

HB 2, which passed in a special session, would set a statewide anti-discrimination policy, banning employers and businesses from discriminating against employees or customers based on their race, color, country of origin, religion, age or “biological sex.” The bill offers no protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prevents local governments from passing any nondiscrimination policy that goes beyond the statewide standard.

The bill also pre-empts local employment ordinances governing wages, benefits, employee protections and leave policies. It would prevent schools from allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

OK. So, it’s now legal in North Carolina to discriminate against LGBT people.

Have they all lost their flippin’ minds?

“But Barb,” you say. “This happened over a week ago. Why are you only talking about it now?”

Well, remember my last post? About how I was dealing with an illness in the family, and the whole “temporary lapse of blogging” thing?

“Yeah, I do. So what? Why bring it up now?”

Aside from the fact that this law deeply offends me as a human being, news broke yesterday (March 30, 2016) that there is a sports league that could be potentially affected by this law — and that league is the National Basketball Association. Next year, Charlotte is supposed to host the NBA All-Star Game, and has been looking forward to doing so for quite some time.

But now, because of this terrible new law, the NBA might have to pull their All-Star Game out of Charlotte. That means much revenue could potentially be lost, and some people will probably lose their jobs — all because of the idiots in the NC Legislature who thought it was a good idea to pass the terribly offensive law, HB 2.

You see, the NBA has perhaps been the most proactive league in professional sports on behalf of LGBT rights. They are acutely aware of this for several reasons: Jason Collins came out as gay while still an active NBA player a few years ago (he’s since retired), a referee has recently come out as gay, several teams have made supportive videos on behalf of LGBT youth, and at least one team, the Boston Celtics, has already condemned the actions of the North Carolina Legislature (save for all the Democratic state Senators, who walked out, and most of the Democrats in the NC lower house, who voted against HB 2).

By all accounts, the NBA is taking a good, long, hard look at North Carolina right now, even though Charlotte — the city — had passed anti-discrimination laws that HB 2 wiped off the books. And even though Charlotte is steamed, and North Carolina’s own Attorney General says he’s going to refuse to enforce HB 2 (good for him!), the NBA is not at all happy with what Gov. McCrory has done by refusing to veto this bill.

Because that’s exactly what Gov. McCrory should’ve done — veto this piece of trash. There is no legitimate excuse for discrimination against anyone. Period.

At all. Ever.

And lest you think the Governor of North Carolina was only doing his job, think again: Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, also a Republican, vetoed a similar law only two days ago.

And Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Governor of Virginia, vetoed an anti-LGBT bill this week as well, calling it “nothing but an attempt to stigmatize” the LGBT community.

So, it is possible for a public servant — which is exactly what a duly-elected Governor of any state is supposed to be — to do the right thing, and stand against discrimination.

So, why didn’t Gov. McCrory do what Gov. Deal did, or Gov. McAuliffe? Simple. Gov. McCrory appears to be pandering to the hard-right. Either that, or he actually believes that allowing transgender women into ladies’ bathrooms is tantamount to allowing pedophilia. (No. Really. This was an argument I heard on CNBC the other day from the state’s Lieutenant Governor, a pipsqueak of a man whose name escapes me.)

Look. I’m a woman. I’ve been one all my life. I have no problems with allowing transgender women into the ladies’ room right along with me. I don’t think they’re going to do anything except use the facilities, touch up their hair, maybe their makeup (if they’re wearing any; maybe they’re like me and don’t care for it much), wash their hands and get out of there.

Or to put it another, more emphatic way: Whether you’re a straight woman, like me, a lesbian woman, or a transgender woman, when you’re in a bathroom, all you want to do is take care of your business and get the Hell out of there.

As I said in my title, this horrible bill, North Carolina’s HB 2, is a new low in American politics. Gov. McCrory should be ashamed of himself for signing this travesty of a bill.

Discrimination should not be tolerated. Ever. Period!

End rant.

——

Edited to add: There already is a lawsuit underway in North Carolina against this bill. I hope HB 2 gets struck down very quickly, and that Charlotte can re-institute its anti-discrimination bill ASAP.

Two Quiet, Heartwarming Stories in the News

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Folks, over the last few days, there have been two inspirational stories that caught my eye. They are quiet stories of resolution, strength, grit, determination, and nerve, in two very different arenas — but they are both heartwarming in their own way.

First, and most recent — yesterday (January 26, 2016 to be exact), the FBI office in Milwaukee avoided a potential mass shooting. According to various local news reports (including this one from WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee), a twenty-three-year-old man, a United States citizen I will not name, wanted to shoot up the local Masonic Temple. He had apparently bragged that he wanted to kill at least thirty people — and he’d purchased weapons to that effect. All he needed now, he believed, were silencers…

Fortunately, the FBI swooped in as he was buying those (according to the news reports I heard), arrested this individual, and we did not have a mass shooting in Milwaukee.

Thank goodness.

This story makes me wonder just how many other mass shootings or acts of domestic terrorism are being averted by members of the police, the FBI, and other federal and state agencies. It also makes me grateful, because I’m glad that Southeastern Wisconsin didn’t have to deal with yet another shooting of this nature. (The mass shooting in the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek a few years ago was more than bad enough, thanks.)

So, that story covers man’s inhumanity to man (and how just this once, the good guys won). The next story is more a “man against himself” sort of deal, and is much quieter…but still is quite an interesting story in its own right.

You see, over the weekend, figure skater Adam Rippon finally did something he’d been trying to do for years: he won the United States Championships. While I don’t completely understand how Rippon, who’s a beautiful skater but did not fully complete a quad jump**, beat Max Aaron’s technical score, I do understand how Rippon beat Aaron artistically…there’s a style and grace to Rippon’s skating that I’ve long admired, and now that he’s fully matured into his ability, the sky is the limit.

But why do I care, precisely?

Aside from the fact that Adam Rippon is a brilliant skater, he’s also done something historic. He’s only the second man to win the United States national championships after telling the world openly that he is gay. (Rudy Galindo, in 1996, is the only other man to have done this.) Rippon is also only the third openly gay male figure skater to ever win a gold medal at the U.S. nationals — the third being Jeremy Abbott.***

Now, why wasn’t this covered much in the news? It’s simple: our society has changed so much in the past twenty years, it’s not considered major news any longer.

We’ve had twenty years of progress since Rudy Galindo won his U.S. skating championship in 1996. We’ve had many people in many sports come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender. And society, while still not approving of it, no longer seems to condemn it, either.

When we’ve had men and women coming out as gay and lesbian in multiple sports, Rippon’s matter-of-fact disclosure (done via Skating magazine, if memory serves) doesn’t warrant more than a blip on the national radar.

That said, it was still an historic event. And as such, I am very pleased to discuss it — though I’m more pleased to discuss just how well Rippon did, and why, and how after all these years as a high-ranking skater, he’s finally reached the pinnacle of winning the U.S. National Championships.

Adam Rippon is a great figure skater, and is also a proud gay man. And all I can say is, “Good for you, Adam!” (Now go get ’em at Worlds.)

I think that’s wonderful.

Anyway, these were the two stories that riveted my attention, albeit not for the same reasons. But they both were heartwarming in their own way, which is why I wanted to discuss their impact.

I also wanted to remind everyone that just because a story seems quieter, that makes it no less important.

So, two unrelated things. Both great news of the quieter sort.

And I couldn’t be happier about them.

———

**Quick note: I do know Rippon attempted the quadruple Lutz. That’s the hardest quad jump there is. And he wasn’t far from landing it; I have the sense that he will land it, and soon, in a major championship event.

***Originally I had forgotten to mention Jeremy Abbott, which is ridiculous on my part as I’m a huge fan of his. (I blame the flu I’ve had the past few days for this glaring omission.) Abbott has acknowledged openly that he is gay, and basically said it should be no big deal.

I agree. But it’s still history in the making — and as such, I want to applaud him. (It’s not easy to be an openly LGBT athlete.)