Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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MINNESOTA TO STOP PAYING FOR GENDER SURGERY

Originally posted at Eleventh-Avenue-South.com. Archived as part of The Column’s archive project.

Along with medications for sexual dysfunction, and circumcision, Minnesota will stop paying for sex-change operations (not really the most accurate term, but that’s what the Strib and the State use).

Closing a ‘loophole’

Minnesota has tried to end Medicaid payments for sex-change operations for 10 years. But activists have challenged the restrictions in court. As a result, two to three people a year have had their sex-change operations paid for by state programs, at a total cost of about $15,000 in state funds, officials say. The new law, which took effect Aug. 1, “completely closes the loophole,” Geroux said.

State lawyers say they expect court challenges to continue. Phil Duran, a lawyer for OutFront Minnesota, an advocacy group, says he’s appealing the department’s denials to five patients awaiting sex-change surgery. “It’s certainly our position that this is not about saving money,” he said. “This is about imposing a [penalty] on politically unpopular people.”

This is an issue that is very complicated, and I support what the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition has to say:

“The Right To Make One’s Body Congruent With Gender Role

Given that each individual has the right to assume gender roles, it then follows that each individual has the right to change their body or alter its physiology so it better fits a gender role. These changes may be cosmetically, chemically or surgically induced, provided these changes are supervised by an appropriate licensed professional and the individual accepts sole responsibility for their actions in this regard.

Therefore, no person shall be denied their Human and/or Civil Rights on the basis that they changed or wish to change their body, cosmetically, chemically, surgically or any combination of these, to better fit a gender role.”

I think I’m against what Minnesota has decided. Although I’m still not sure. I don’t know enough about the issue to determine for myself whether it is medically necessary, but my gut says it is. I’d love to hear people’s comments one way or the other: Should MInnesota pay for low-income citizens seeking to alter the gender of their bodies?

REMEMBER LIVINGOUT?

Earlier this year, GLBT Minnesotans had 2 choices for their community paper: Lavender Magazine and LivingOut. Now, it seems we’re left with one.

LivingOut has virtually disappeared, with the last issue being dated the beginning of June. Also gone are The Source, a GLBT directory published by the parent company Three Dollar Bill. Websites for LivingOut, the Source, and Three Dollar Bill have been unavailable for weeks.

Last fall in Nashville, many businesses complained that The Source came out 2 months later than the advertising contract agreement, and circulation numbers appeared to be inflated. [Church Street Freedom Press]

Also last year from Out In Nashville:

“Upon a similar situation in Minneapolis, relations became so poisonous between Gimbut and segments of the GLBT community that former employees and others began circulating letters regarding her business practices.”

Apparently, the main concern was that The Source’s circulation was extremely low.

“Though the Nashville office is not closed, it remains unpopulated and the local phone number has been forwarded to Minneapolis offices. It would appear the future for “The Source” locally is a dubious one.

Government records with the state of Tennessee show that no company has registered to do business in Tennessee in either The Source’s name or Three Dollar Bill, Inc., nor has the company filed to pay its share of the state’s sales and use tax, a tax imposed on all corporations doing business in Tennessee based on gross sales. The Davidson County Clerk’s office doesn’t have a record of a business license by Three Dollar Bill, Inc., or a record of any taxes being paid by the company on local sales.”

Circulation problems, alleged tax evasion, and, um, where is the newspaper in Minneapolis? Have advertisers been paid?

A conversation with a former employee of Three Dollar Bill this weekend revealed that the company had been struggling since last fall, and that it is currently out of business. I sent email to several accounts, and each was returned as delivery failed.

So we’re left with one GLBT publication, the same one that cannot be bothered to ask the mayor of Minnesota’s Capitol City where he stands on GLBT issues. Let’s hope Lavender Magazine’s new managing editor, that magazine’s third this year alone, can get the magazine back on track.

CITYPAGES ON LIVINGOUT

When it comes to community gossip, you know that this site will have the goods weeks before the alternative papers! And fortunately, CityPages has picked up on the story of LivingOut Media Group, Three Dollar Bill, and Donna Gimbut, owner of both. They’ve used their investigative powers to uncover even more questionable business practices by the company.

While I had a lot of comments from former staff who are still waiting to get paid for their work, CityPages looks into the businesses that bought advertizing space, but never got what they paid for. Some have even filed complaints with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.

It would be interesting to hear what is happening in the other cities where LivingOut and The Source were operating…

SAYING GOODBYE TO LIVINGOUT

Last week, I posted some information on the demise of LivingOut, Minnesota’s only GLBT alternative to Lavender Magazine. Many of you commented on your experiences working for LivingOut, and it seems that the publication is indeed gone.

David Rust, who wrote the publications first headline about gay marriage in Massachusettes clears up a few things about LivingOut:

“Of the things I’ve read in the comments section of this page, I can say that a lot of it isn’t true. There was no racism at 3 Dollar Bill and many folk -gay, straight, black, white, hispanic, etc.- were hired, promoted, and kept on-staff during the year I worked for them. Distribution could have been better, but I saw the 30,000 copies of each issue we had printed during the Summer months of 2004 as I was also a distributer at that time.”

He added that payment for services still have not been received, and contact with the company has been non-existant.

He also shares with us his last column, “A Geek’s Eye On…Identity: Time to Hang up the Cape and Tights” which I’ve added in the extended entry.

A Geek’s Eye On … Identity

Time to Hang up the Cape and Tights

by David J Rust

 

Doctor Ray Palmer, physicist, acquired a piece of a white dwarf star and was able to engineer it into a device that allowed him to shrink to almost any size. Donning a blue costume and the sobriquet “the Atom,” he went into the world to fight crime and become a hero beloved by comic book fans everywhere.

The Atom joined the Justice League, battled such foes as Jason Woodrue: the Floronic Man, Chronos, and the humorously costumed “Calculator” while standing aside better known and more powerful heroes such as Superman and Wonder Woman. Even Aquaman was more powerful, being strong enough to withstand the pressures found at the bottom of the Marianas Trench and punch-out a full-grown blue whale! Heck, all the Atom could do was get short.

He had his trials and victories, spent some time as a miniature John Carter in the rainforests, but never lost his edge…

…Until his secret identity was betrayed by the one person he thought he could trust: his wife.

True, the happy couple’s divorce was amicable but you don’t marry a size-changing super-hero without, apparently, losing a few marbles in the process. In a mad bid to win him back, she concocted a scheme to put a fellow super-hero spouse in peril to attract Dr. Palmer’s attentions once more. Sadly, she went too far and ended up accidentally killing her target. The ensuing nightmare that cost Elongated Man (aka “Ralph Dibney”) his beloved Sue was called “Identity Crisis” and really dissected the concept of why many choose to keep their true selves a secret.

Most do it to protect their family and friends from retribution but how many have ever considered that one of their loved ones could become a threat?

It�s a position that GLBT folk know pretty well.

The average lesbian doesn’t don a skin-tight costume to punish evildoers nor does Joe Gay put on a voluminous pink cape and beat up the Joker: living life can be challenging enough when accused of being a blight on society and a danger to children. Hence, although they may not wear spandex (aside from the occasional drag queen), GLBT folk may adopt secret identities for reasons that could have saved the Atom quite a bit of stress and trouble. If he�d kept his secret life hidden from “the little woman” she might never have lost her mind and killed someone.

Then again, more and more heroes are coming out of the phone booth these days.

Captain America is now known to the world as Steve Rogers while Reed Richards, his wife Sue, and the rest of the Fantastic Four have never hidden who they are!

Writers in comic books are starting to find that there�s more to having a secret identity than first met the eye. This humble tradition, going back to the heroic Scarlet Pimpernel (and probably earlier), has always been a foil for the hero. Knowing that their personal actions, vigilante or endorsed, could lead to personal punishment provides constant pressure.

A super-hero may be incredibly powerful but any ability to deliver justice must come from circumventing conventional authorities. In other words, “Reagan’s Raiders” – the comic book that chronicled the adventures of a super-powered Ronald Reagan and his cabinet – was never a real super-hero: he wasn’t anti-establishment or outside of the loop (without his wife’s astrologer, that is.)

Oddly enough, the X-Men – hated and reviled for being “not human” – hide their identities but are still known to be mutants. It’s the super-hero equivalent of having everyone in the Pride parade wearing masks.

“Well, they must be Queer; they�re marching!”

“Yeah, but who are those strange, pink-masked men?”

How, in a world full of super-heroes, the X-Men got to be known as mutants and not just a cavalcade of people bitten by various radioactive insects, is hard to say. These days, they go around proudly proclaiming it.

And, masked or not, it’s a sound idea.

Super-heroes save people all the time, whether through the street justice of Green Arrow (who took on a gay bashing in an early issue) or the web-slinging, quip-throwing Spider-Man. But perhaps their most impressive act of selfless altruism has come in the form of taking off their masks and letting people know who they are.

It’s something for the closeted GLBT community, and all who hide their real selves, to consider.

AIR AMERICA MN: GAY OR NO GAY ON AIR

There’s some controversy brewing as to whether the owner of AM 950 Air America Minnesota has a policy banning the discussion of gay marriage, abortion, and gun control.

The controversy began when Nick Coleman, Star Tribune columnist and talk show host on 950, went on hiatus at the end of July and then submitted his resignation on August 8. Part of his reason for leaving involved the dismissal of a board operator, and most suprisingly, a company policy that prohibits on-air discussion of gay marriage, abortion, and gun control. From Centrisity that has been digging deep into AM 950:

“6. Certain Subjects Prohibited

JR Broadcasting will not permit discussion of the issues of gun control, abortion, or gay marriage. It is the policy of JR Broadcasting that discussion around these issues tend to be more sensationalistic than substantial. In order to provide for reasoned, substantial discussion of other issues, JR Broadcasting prohibits discussion of gun control, abortion, or gay marriage. Exceptions to this policy can be obtained prior to broadcast by request in writing to the station Manager.”

According to Janet Robert, AM 950 Station Manager, the original policy was just a draft and the final policy is this one [via Lloydletta]

“Because certain hot button social issues such as gun control, abortion, or gay marriage tend to arouse strong emotions among our listening audience, JR Broadcasting wishes to be respectful in discussing these issues. It is the position of JR Broadcasting that persons often hold positions on these issues as deeply held moral beliefs that therefore deserve respect, and focus on these issues can undermine the very opportunities we seek to advance.

In the event a host should ever wish to discuss these issues on the air, JR Broadcasting requests that the host notify the station manager prior to airing the discussion.”

This is indeed a better policy, however the credibility of the station further suffers when we understand who Janet Roberts is [via Strib]:

“Robert ran for Congress in 2002 as a Democrat but did not embrace the party’s liberal positions on abortion and gun issues.”

We don’t yet know where Roberts stands on gay rights, but Air America will need to do some serious damage control. I don’t recall much discussion, if any, on the proposed amendment to end domestic partnerships and ban civil unions and same-sex marriage in Minnesota during the past session.

**********

Update: If you are here from RadioEqualizer, please keep in mind that I, and probably the rest my readership do support Air America. They do a hell of a lot better job with the news than that fat-ass drug addict Rush guy. But we also expect progressive radio to be accountable to it’s audience.

Update 2: I moved this to the bottom so it won’t distract from the real story, and to add to my Rush-bashing. Orcinus gives us a look at how Rush deals with the opposition: deport them.

LAVENDER MAG TAKES HEAT FOR SOFTBALL KELLY INTERVIEW

Letters to the editor question Lavender on the recent interview with St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly:

“Why Kelly?

Why was Mayor Randy Kelly of St Paul on the cover of your latest issue [Lavender, July 22]?

The interview with Kelley did not include one question related to GLBT issues.

This is quite a shortcoming for a publication that bills itself as �Minnesota�s GLBT magazine.�

It would have been informative to hear Kelly�s current positions on GLBT rights, given that he supported and campaigned in 2004 for George W. Bush, whose administration is fighting to roll back GLBT rights.

Instead, the whole interview was just a puff piece, with softball questions giving Kelly an uncritical forum in an election year.

Shame on you.

Dave Harvey

Ditto

When a politician like Randy Kelly is featured on the cover of Lavender [July 22], I think I detect some blatant vote pandering.

Yet nowhere does Heidi Fellner ask Kelly why he supported the homophobic George W. Bush in the last election.

Or what he has done to make St. Paul a welcoming city for GLBT folk.

Or why GLBT people should support his mayoral campaign.

Or even his feelings on the GLBT citizens of St. Paul.

Instead, Kelly was allowed to prattle on about his accomplishments, and thus gain huge exposure to a large voting bloc.

So, what was the point?

If you�re writing for a GLBT magazine, shouldn�t there be at least one question slanted toward your target audience?

Dennis Carey” 

STONEWALL DFL CRITICIZES LAVENDER-KELLY INTERVIEW

From the Minneapolis Issues List:

“Dear Editor,

It is with dismay that I read your latest issue and the cover story about Mayor Randy Kelly. As the leader of Minnesota’s oldest GLBT political organization, I found the entire article to be filled with fluff and lacking substance. If Lavender’s objective was to use this as an opportunity to educate the voting members of our community, it was an truly an opportunity lost.

Mayor Kelly is not a true friend to the GLBT community. When he was in the MN legislature, he voted in support of retaining the state’s sodomy laws. When he ran for Mayor in 2001, he snubbed both Lavender and OutFront MN by ignoring candidate questionnaires on the advice of Norm Coleman. In 2004, he supported one of the most anti-GLBT Presidents in US history by endorsing George W. Bush. In this year’s election, as a ‘Democrat’, he declined to participate in the screening and endorsement process organized by Stonewall DFL.

Only Chris Coleman has major party endorsement in the St. Paul Mayor’s race. He is the only candidate to participate in 2005 Twin Cities Pride in addition to participating in every Pride festival when he was a member of Saint Paul’s City Council. Chris has been questioned by representatives from our community on issues including GLBT homeless youth, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, same sex marriage rights, the epidemic of PNP drugs in our community and equal opportunity for GLBT small businesses. His responses to each are both progressive and visionary.

We encourage members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities to look beyond the fluff and ask the tough questions in St. Paul’s Mayoral race. There is a reason why Chris Coleman is the endorsed candidate of Stonewall DFL and the MN DFL party – substance.

Sincerely,

Paul R. Skrbec

Chair, Stonewall DFL”

Besides Kelly and Coleman, Elizabeth Dickinson is running for St. Paul Mayor. You can read about her campaign here.

Lavender Magazine and Randy Kelly: No gay?

The most recent issue of Lavender Magazine, ‘Minnesota’s GLBT Magazine’, has a lengthy interview with incumbent St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly. Mayor Kelly made national headlines last year when he endorsed the re-election of President Bush.

Interviewer, Heidi Fellner managed to ask many important questions of Randy Kelly, but not a single one about his views on same-sex marriage, or GLBT rights, or anything even resembling queer. What is the point in printing an interview in “Minnesota’s GLBT Magazine” without asking anything GLBT? We already have CityPages, the Pulse, the Star-Tribune, the Pioneer Press, Skyway News, etc. to ask the questions Heidi asked…we look to the queer press to ask the queer questions, and to get the GLBT angle from a politician.

What is going on with this magazine?!

UPDATE: From Norwegianity: “You have to wonder how a Mayor who vetoed the St. Paul City Council’s resolution to oppose the removal of sexual orientation protection in state law back in 2003 is suddenly the cover story fluff piece in the biggest GLBT magazine in town.”

And also an Eva Young post from way back: “Well heck, there were two metro area DFL legislators who voted to retain the sodomy law the last time the topic came up — former Sen. and current St Paul Mayor, Randy Kelly and Sen. Dave Johnson of Bloomington.”

It is truly disturbing that “Minnesota’s GLBT Magazine” would have a cover story about someone who’s support of the GLBT community is questionable. Maybe that’s why there weren’t any GLBT questions? Hmm? Hmm?

HOMOPHOBIC HATE LETTER IN BLOOMINGTON

A homophobic letter attacking State Rep. Dan Larson in Bloomington’s Senate District 63 is being left on residents doorsteps. Signed by an anonymous “Ken J,” the letter criticizes Larson, and tells the reader to vote for the Republican candidate because “your children are at stake.” The letter urges readers to visit the Minnesota Family Council for more information.

The letter attacks homosexuals, and uses fear-based language. The letter says: “Three years ago, I met a man and a woman at our State Capitol who were promoting same-sex marriage. During our conversation, they very candidly told me of their objectives…Their number one objective was to; eliminate all protection given to children. They want to make your children subject to them, not you…Children would suffer the most…Schools would have to teach that sodomy is normal. HIV and AIDS among school children would rise dramatically. (Virtually all homosexual men are HIV infected.)”

The letter close with: “If you consider yourself a Republican be sure to vote. If you consider yourself a Democrat, this year you need to vote for your Republican candidate. Your children are at stake.”

The two page letter contains many falsehoods, and blatant attacks on the GLBT community and on Democrats. You can read the full letter here (PDF).

Larson’s opponent knew nothing about the letter, and expressed some disappointment. “I’m really surprised. We just said in a debate…that we have pretty much stayed above the negative campaigning and focused in on the issues. Both of us agree that that’s the way it should be done.”

Tom Prichard of the Minnesota Family Council also was not aware of the letter that contained his organization’s name, and added “We would generally disavow something like that. We don’t condone it.”

Bloomington resident, Adam Gamradt received the letter and would like to invite the writer to get to know his neighbors: “I ask that Ken J. contact me at anytime. I would welcome the chance to invite him or her to our neighborhood gathering.”

Hate the Hate. Don’t hate the hater.

This morning was a beautiful Minnesota spring day. Walking along Northrup Mall on the U of MN campus, I noticed a throng of students shouting and a police car. What was all the commotion?

Brother Zed is back. This man is the local Christian fanatic. He walks around campus telling everyone that they are going to hell. He always has some harsh words for the ‘homah sekshuls.’ Today he had another man with him shoutin’ and yellin.’ But perhaps the worst part was that he had kids with him. Like grade school age kids.

Aside from the hate spewing, I’m glad the fanatics were there. The number of students arguing with him and supporting the GLBT community was immense. At one point there were at least 150-200 observers, many wearing anti-homophobia stickers being passed out by the Queer Student Cultural Center, and group of at least 30 very vocal students arguing with these fanatics.

Seeing that support got me a bit choked up. There people you wouldn’t expect to be rallying for GLBTS folks; fratboys and guys wearing football jerseys, conservative looking girls and hippies, all gathered together, defending the rights and well-being of their fellow GLBT students. It’s easy to forget the support we enjoy at the U of MN, especially in light of the virulent attacks by the religious right over the past year or two. This university rocks, this city rocks, and this state ain’t so damn bad after all.

I am really, really glad I moved here. And I’m really fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to be myself in school, at work, and at home. The students at the U of MN should be proud, because I sure am proud of them.

And this was the one time I didn’t have my camera with me. Godammit!

POSTSCRIPT: The fanatic I referred to may have been Brother Jed, the notorious ‘mall preacher’. I certainly wish I would have taken a picture, because I can’t tell if it was him or not. He did have his family there, which is a trademark for him, so I suppose it could have been. If you are interested in knowing more about Brother Jed or other campus ‘mall preachers,’ check out this editorial. Brother Jed’s sloppy website can be found here. Thanks to Jason at the Game and How We Played It for the info!