Monday, March 27, 2017

You Ride On An Airline Pass, Gotta Follow That Airline's Pass Rules

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I worked in the airline business for 14 years and transitioned in the middle of my time there at IAH's Terminal C.   One of my perks as an CAL airline employee was reduced rate non-revenue travel on mine and every airline on the planet that we had an interline agreement with.  

And yes, Moni did her share of domestic non-revenue travel of which I will expound upon in future TransGriot posts in terms of the joys and pains of airline travel while trans in the 90's.

I was a gate agent, CSR and a gate supervisor during my time with Continental, which meant that one of my job duties was to enforce the dress code for pass riders.

When I started at CAL in 1987, the employee pass policy of the time stated employees had to wear business attire, regardless of whether we were sitting in coach or first class or doing business or leisure non-rev travel.

That meant suits and ties for the guys, dresses, slacks or pantsuits with hose for women.

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When that policy was crafted, flying was considered a luxurious and status filled way to travel, and people dressed that upscale way when they did so.   It also made it easier for employees to get bumped up to first class if those were the only available seats left to put non-revs in on a full flight.

But because the airline business was changing in early 1987 and becoming a more common way to travel, folks in both classes of service started dressing more casually to do so.  The advent of frequent flyer programs like our OnePass one made upgrades happen more often, and us more formally dressed CAL airline employees following the company pass policies of the time stick out like sore thumbs when we non-revved on flights around the country and the world.

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The policy was changed so that we could dress in a more business casual style, but you still had items that we CAL employees couldn't wear when we did partake in non-rev travel.   When the buddy pass program was implemented in the late 90's, that company pass policy and its rules also extended to the people that we allowed to travel on our passes.  If they violated them, the punishment could extend to suspension or in the case of an egregious violation of those policies termination of buddy pass and non-revenue travel for the employee.

So yes, I was extremely careful about who I gave my ten buddy passes per year allotment out to, and in many cases when possible and I wasn't working, I traveled with the buddy pass rider to ensure they followed our airline's non-rev policies to the letter.

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Non revenue travel can also be stress inducing at times for the employee and the gate agent working the flight, especially if it's to a popular destination or during holidays. which is why I actually do more flying now that I'm not in the airline business than I did when I had the ability to fly around the world for next to nothing cost wise.

When we flew non-rev, we were also considered representatives of the company, which is why the dress code rules were around in the first place.

So when I heard this story about the teen girls being denied boarding on a United flight for wearing leggings and changing into dresses in order to fly, it brought me back to those days when I would have to diplomatically explain to someone screaming epithets at me that no, you can't travel wearing a bathing suit or Daisy Duke shorts on a flight while traveling on a buddy pass,. The flight was leaving on time from this gate, and you needed to change clothes ASAP if you wanted to fly on that pass and on that plane out of IAH today to your final destination.

I also had to explain to peeps from time to time that you couldn't fly on a pass barefoot, in flip flops, ripped jeans, tube tops or any attire that exposed your undergarments or revealed too much flesh.
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So I had to shake my head and chuckle at all these folks who don't have an airline background commenting on what happened at that United gate in Denver.  They basically took half the story and did some loud and wrong running at the mouth facts free commentary about it.

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Maybe at the time those policies were crafted for the merged Continental/United carrier, leggings weren't considered professional attire.  Fashion has evolved to where leggings have become a fashion forward item.   I also see this as a textbook case of someone getting half the story and stirring up misplaced outrage without having all of the facts.

United had every right to enforce their non-rev pass rules.  It is part of a gate agent's job to enforce those rules when they are violated whether the person violating them is a veteran UA employee or a teen traveling on a buddy pass.

How it's done depends on the circumstances.   But it still doesn't change the salient fact that if you're riding on a airline pass, whether you have an airline employee's badge or are traveling on that employee's passes, for that moment you are considered a representative of that carrier, and you still have to follow that airline's pass rules.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

BTWI Statement Concerning The Murder Of Alphonza Watson

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TransGriot Note: BTWI  Statement concerning the death of Alphonza Watson

March 25, 2017
Contact: Monica Roberts BTWI Media Chair
Carmarion Anderson  BTWI Founding President
855-255-8636  Ext 11

Black Transwomen, Inc is once again dismayed and saddened to not the death of another of one of our trans sisters in 38 year old Alphonza Watson of Baltimore, MD.

She was found shot in the stomach in the 2400 block of Guilford Ave and later died from her gunshot wound at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  Two males were seen leaving the scene in a dark colored vehicle

She is the eighth trans woman., and the seventh Black transwoman to die in 2017.

If you have information that will bring her killers to justice, you are urged to call the Baltimore Police Department at 410-396-2100, text a tip at 443-902-4824 or call Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP  (866-756 -2587).
Rest in power and peace ,sister.  We won't rest until the persons who killed you are brought to justice

Friday, March 24, 2017

Shut Up Fool Awards- LGBTMedia17 Edition

As many of you TransGriot readers are aware of, I'm in Orlando for the 8th annual LGBT Media Journalists Convening.   We had a mixer last night, and now we are knee deep into our first day of sessions.

But since it's Friday, and I have y'all spoiled, it's  time for our weekly post in which I call out our fools, that are everywhere.

So let's get to it.

Honorable mention number one  the Trump administration for pick an outrage this week

Honorable mention number two is Neil Gorsuch for trying to cover up his far right conservative judicial rulings during his confirmation hearings with a fake aw shucks demeanor. 

Naw homes, we know you're a younger version of Scalia and unfit for the SCOTUS.

Honorable mention number three is the Republican Majority for trying and failing so far to replace the ACA and replace it with Trumpcare

Honorable mention number four is Steven Hotze.  This long time Houston area gaybaiter just put out a video recently urging Texas lawmakers to support SB 6.
Really fool?   Don't you have a medical practice in Katy to run?

#NoMoreHotze  #ByeHaterHotze

Honorable mention number five is the National Organization for Marriage, who is mad that their hate bus got vandalized, and had the nerve to call it a 'hate crime'...

Naw you idiots, what you're doing to trans folks is a hate crime.

Accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Rick Perry speaks after being sworn in as secretary of energy. On Friday, he addressed the department's employees.Keep going for a look back at Rick Perry's tenure in Texas through the eyes of Houston Chronicle editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson.  Photo: Olivier Douliery, MBR / Abaca Press
This week's Shut Up Fool winner is my former governor Rick Perry, who seems to be more concerned with a student government election on the Texas A&M campus than his job as Secretary of Energy.  

Secretary Goodhair is mad that the students at his alma mate elected an openly gay SGA president.

Gig 'em!   And dude, you have more important things to do than reading The Battalion and paying attention to A&M campus politics.

And oh yeah, Rick Perry, shut up fool!


Accuracy Matters When We're Discussing Trans Murders

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As much of the country is aware of, we have now had eight trans women murdered due to anti-trans violence.   We know that seven of the eight were Black, and one was native American.  We also know all of them were under age 40.

But we have some people in Trans World who wish to count a trans man who died as a result of a police incident as a murder when it wasn't.   We also have people that wish to include folks who have committed suicides.

No to both of those, and here's why.

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First of all, the trans man in question, Sean Hake wasn't murdered.   It was a police domestic disturbance situation that ended with a weapon being discharged and Hake dying as a result of it.   It wasn't a murder, and it's disrespectful to the memory of the eight women who have had their lives taken from us in 2017 to call it that.

Not all suicides involving trans people a result of anti-trans violence.  The reasons for a person committing suicide are as varied as the person committing it and them leaving a note behind explaining why they did so.  .

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As someone who has been tracking trans murders for over a decade, accuracy in how we talk about these cases matters.  Now that we're finally getting some media attention concerning the issues of anti-trans violence, we cannot afford to be perceived as fudging or inflating the numbers with cases that clearly aren't murders..

Accuracy matters when we're telling the story about our trans siblings murders.  It's even more important to be accurate about it because the victims are predominately people of color, and we're dealing with a media that is predominately made up of cisgender white people .    .

The numbers alone are horrific enough.   We don't need to cast doubt on them by calling a police incident an anti-trans murder when it isn't, or claiming suicides are 'anti-trans violence'

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Moni's In The Middle Of LGBTMedia17

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Had an amazing morning at IAH wandering Terminals C and E before I boarded my United flight to Orlando.  It was nice seeing some of my old co workers, and I see some more when I return on Sunday.

I've arrived in Orlando for what is basically a business trip.  I've been to the Orlando airport before to catch connecting flights, but this is the first time I've visited the city.

I've always wanted to visit Disney World, and when I was working at CAL is was something on my travel bucket list, ,but never got the chance to do so while I was an airline employee and had the ability to fly there.

I'm checked into my 17th floor Rosen Centre hotel room with a nice view of the Orlando Convention Center across the street  and downtown Orlando in the distance.  I also gleefully discovered I have a 7 Eleven less than a block away, so that means Slurpees will be destroyed on this trip

Image result for mangos orlandoI'm getting ready for the first event of this year's 8th Annual LGBT Media Journalists Convening, which is an icebreaker reception at Mango's Tropical Cafe.

I alway enjoy getting to see and spend quality time with my TBLGQ media colleagues from across the nation.   But this year's edition of LGBTMedia17 is happening at a time in which we have a so-called POTUS who seems to think it is okay to attack the media.

This convening is needed and even more necessary at a time when journalism is under attack.  For those of us in Trans World who are in attedace, we're here at a time when not only our humanity and human rights are under assault, we had our 8th trans woman of 2017 murdered in Baltimore a mere 24 hours ago.

It's going to be an interesting few days as we get our learn on about various issues that impact the TBLGQ community, network and get to see some of Orlando beyond the hotel.

You can check out the action at the #LGBTMedia17 hashtag, our Facebook pages, and our various blogs and media stories.

And so ready to get my media learn on.

Leaving On A Jet Plane- To Orlando

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It's time for me to hop on another plane to take me to another community event.  But this time I'm leaving out of as we call it in H-town the Big Airport, or Houston Intercontinental

It's always an emotional trip for me every time I fly out of IAH.   I spent 14 years of my life there working in the airline biz and have some fond memories of it and many of the people I worked with.

Probably going to be even more emotional because I'm getting close to the April 4 anniversary day I clocked in for work as me for the first time.  It would have also been my 30th anniversary year this year.

 I transitioned in the middle of Terminal C, and I still have friends there who haven't retired yet who started at CAL-UA when I did and I run into when I transit it from the ticket counters to the gates to the shoe shine guys.

Image result for Houston Intercontinental Airport terminal CThat means from the moment I arrive in Terminal C,  I'll be running into former coworkers from the time I arrive at IAH until the time I return.

And if it's a Houston based flight crew on either leg to MCO and back, that means I'll also possibly be running into flight attendants or pilots I know either on the plane or in the halls as I'm heading to my departure gate.  It's also a good thing that people still think highly of you, even though I haven't worked a flight in that building since February 2001.

While that a good thing, the bad news is that IAH is on the opposite side of town from where I currently live.

But hey, I get to see some of my IAH peeps, fly on a 737-900 for the first time and if my United flight is on time, in a few hours I get to see my homies and homettes from the LGBT media world

Rest In Power and Peace, Alphonza

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We have now lost eight trans women in 2017 to anti- trans violence.  Seven of them have been African American trans women.

The latest murder happened in Baltimore, MD  yesterday morning, and the person we will be saying her name is 38 year old Alphonza Watson.

Watson grew up in Washington DC, but moved to Baltimore 10-15 years ago.

She was found at 4:15 AM by police officers suffering from a gunshot wound to the stomach in the 2400 block of Guilford Ave ion the north side of Baltimore.  She was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital where she died from her wounds several hours later.

Baltimore Police media relations chief TJ Smith stated that witnesses reported an argument between Watson and two men took place before the gunshots happened.   Those witnesses reported that immediately after the gunshots two men were spotted running  and getting into a dark colored vehicle before speeding away from the scene.

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Baltimore has been a particular deadly city for trans women.  Since 2005 there have been 14 murders involving trans women, with Crystal Edmonds being the last person killed.

Edmonds case is still open, but the others according to Baltimore PD have been closed.

I'm also refusing to use  the mugshot that has been plastered all over Baltimore media out of respect for the deceased.  If someone who knows her has a nicer photo of our deceased sister, please send it to me so I can then share it with the media,

If you have information that will bring her killers to justice, you are urged to call the Baltimore Police Department at 410-396-2100, text a tip at 443-902-4824 or call Metro Crime Stoppers at 866-7LOCKUP  (866-756 -2587).

Rest in power and peace, sis.   The community will not rest until the people who did this are caught and justice is served.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Why Is A Hate Group Meddling In An Illinois School Board Race?

Feds reject school district's plan for transgender student, locker room
Normally school board races can be low key and non controversial in nature unless something happens during the campaign or a controversial candidate is involved.

There's a school board election happening on April 4 in District 211 in Palatine, IL near Chicago that is fitting that description..  District 211 has been at the epicenter for a trans human rights case involving a trans feminine student at Township High School that was allowed access to the locker room after the district was found in violation of Title IX
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The District, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement, then were sued by a group of transphobic parents and students backed by the right wing anti-trans group Alliance Defending Freedom, an SPLC-certified hate group..

Fast forward to the looming election.   Incumbent District 211 board members Anna Klimkowicz and Robert LeFevre voted for the settlement that was worked out with the DOE and DOJ.   D211 board candidate Edward Yung is a former member seeking to rejoin it that has expressed his support for transgender students.  

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They are being challenged by a trans hate slate of candidates calling themselves the 'Parents For Privacy' that are backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom, and they are dumping lots of cash and lies in this race in order to get majority control of the D211 board and rescind the settlement.

Klimkowicz , LeFevre and Yung have been endorsed by the Daily Heraldone of the area newspapers , Equality Illinois PAC , and a group of parents called Progress for D15 and D211'.

Trans United Fund, sensing the importance of this upcoming election, has not only endorsed the pro-trans incumbents, but has already spent over 80 hours organizing with the moms, who have limited resources compared to the professional hate group .

Those parents are concerned about the ADF meddling in their school board race, but don't quite have the funds they need to combat the money flowing in the Parents for Privacy camp.

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The rights of trans students are on the ballot in this April 4 school board race, and if you live in the area and support trans human rights, hope you're registered to vote, will participate in this election and prove that you support trans students by voting for Klimkowicz, LeFevre and Yung to sit on that D211 board.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Building Sustained Texas Black Trans Representation Is Needed and Necessary

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In addition to some blogger y'all know making a little speech, engaging with our elected officials and their staffers under the Pink Dome yesterday, and talking to the various people in different organizations, one of the cool things about a lobby day is also having the opportunity to have those one on one conversations with attendees and the general public.

There are also those unexpected moments that happen that tug at your heart.

I have said and been cognizant of ever since I started taking these lobby day trips to Austin in 1999 that it wasn't about me, it was about the next generation of kids who were behind me and making it better for them.

It it happened that my work to pass laws and policies that expanded trans human rights benefitted me in the short term, that was all good as well

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In this one snapshot taken in the rotunda of our Texas state capitol building, there are three generations of Black trans women here.  I made my first lobby day trip before all of them were born, but we're here together on this March 20, 2017 day repping our community.

Every time I look at that picture, it not only makes me cry happy tears, but also puts a smile on my face.   To them, I am a respected trans elder who not only is passing down their history to them, I'm also role modeling what it will be possibly like to be a fab Black trans women when they hit my age.

I get to see these amazing Black trans women in their teens, twenties and thirties, and it reminds me of why I have been fighting since 1998 for visible Black trans representation in our movement, in the media and other spaces.

Because it matters.

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It matters to Texas Black trans kids like Zuri and their parents.  It matters to Mia and Jessica to see their fourth generation Texas trans elder confidently speaking to over 1000 people with cameras trained on her firing up a diverse crowd before they went to their various meeting with state legislators under the Pink Dome.

It matters that our Black community knows that #BlackTransPeopleExist, we are concerned Texans who are expressing ourselves to our legislators about the issues that matter to us, and we thought it was so important to do so we took a day out of our lives to make it happen

It matters for me to be hugged by Mia  and Jessica, and having a two hour intergenerational conversation on the bus ride back to Houston about the issues we deal with as Black trans women and our hopes, fears, insecurities and aspirations for the future,

It also was heartening to know that these young women also shared my concerns about the media images of Black trans women and were determined to role model being quality Black women who just happen to be transgender.

It mattered to be called Aunt Monica by Zuri.  While it brought on a momentary twinge of sadness with the thought crossing my mind that I don't have biological kids of my on and at this stage of my life, it's probably not gonna happen for me, the trans kids are basically my kids as well.

But Zuri's presence also reminded me that this Texas trans human rights fight is about ensuring that she has a Texas and a country she can grow up in that will allow her to become the amazing Black woman she is well on her way to becoming.

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Would I love to see more Black trans representation when we have these lobby days in the 2019 session?   Absolutely.  

That's one of the goals we need to make happen, and it become even more important in light of the fact some of the members of the Texas House and Senate share our ethnic heritage and history as Black Texans.

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There are some arguments I can make while lobbying in a Black legislator's office that frankly, a white trans person can't.  It's one of the many reasons why we need to start being hired and paid as lobbyists or to do work in equality orgs that profess to work for the entire community but are still overwhelmingly white in their employment and staffing rolls.

It's either do so or don't get mad and whine 'Why are you separating from us?" when we form our own organizations to do the work you refuse to do or hire us for.   That's why BTWI, BTMI and Black Trans Advocacy exist in the Lone Star State right now.

And our right wing opposition has no problem hiring Black sellouts to deploy and use against you

And speaking of that sustained Texas Black trans representation, much of the heavy lifting and elbow grease required to make it happen also is on us Black trans Texans.   If you want orgs that rep you, you have to support them not only with your sweat equity but with your dollars so they can do the work you say you want and need to have happen.  

Do I hope to see in my lifetime Black trans women standing in the Texas House or Senate as elected representatives, judges or accomplishing whatever their heart desires and their skills take them?.

Do I hope to one day see an end to cadres of Black ministers selling out our community and preaching anti-trans hate from their pulpits as white fundamentalists and conservative Republicans smile?

Do I hope to have my Black community say in one loud voice that Black Trans Lives matter and I see an end to the obscene levels of anti-trans violence aimed at us?

I sure do.

It's why building Texas Black trans representation is needed, necessary and needs to expeditiously happen.\

The All In For Equality Texas Rally Speeches

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I got up at 3:30 AM CDT so I could board a bus headed to Austin to participate in the All In For Equality Lobby Day.  I was also tapped to be one of the speakers at the rally happening on the south Texas Capitol steps, and if you wish to hear my comments, they start around the 13;00 minute mark of the video

And here's the link to me, Sara Ramirez and other orators speaking truth to power outside the Texas State Capitol.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Another Week, Another Lobby Day

If it seems like I was just in Austin two weeks ago, yeah I was up along with trans people from across the Lone Star State and our allies giving Lois Kolkhorst hell for pushing the Texas Transgender Oppression Act.

I was there for the Trans Texas Lobby day, but missed the GLBT Caucus one last Monday because frankly, still hadn't adjusted to the time change and was still a bit tired from last week's lobby day plus the marathon State Senate Affairs committee hearing and needed to rest a bit.

Now that I've done so, I'm ready to head back up to the ATX and talk to our reps about stopping SB 6 and other bad anti-TBLGQ bills in addition to explaining why they should support some good bills that will help our community.

Will also take the opportunity to thank in person the Terrific Ten Democratic senators who stood tall for the human rights of transgender Texans.

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This one is the Equality Texas All In For Equality Lobby Day, and is also cosponsored by the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) , the ACLU of Texas and the Human Rights Campaign

There's over 900 people registered, and that makes it the largest EQTX lobby day ever.  Definitely beats the days when we would consider more than a dozen people showing up a great lobby event

We're scheduled to be there from 10-4 PM CDT, and proud to rep my hometown and my Black trans fam.

See y'all in a few hours..