Welcome to Debbie Ballard's Transgender Information Site.

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Many conservatives feel that granting civil rights to people of color, or LGBTQ people, is giving them "Special Rights", rights that others do not have.  The reality is that Civil Rights are the same rights that most people, especially middle class white Christian males simply take for granted.

These Civil Rights are spelled out in the Constitution of the United States, is the amendments known as the "Bill of Rights" as well as the 14th Amendment.

These first 10 Amendments were so much a part of the constitution that many states refused to ratify the Constitution unless the Bill of Rights was included.  These rights were spelled out explicitly because these were things that the British Military and the British Business owners had done to the people of the United States.

Prior to the end of the Revolutionary War, the British regularly seized people's homes (Hamilton lost his home to a British General), and the British Navy routinely kidnapped men to crew naval ships.  Crews were subjected to cruel and unusual punishments that included flogging, being hung by the arms from the yard-arm, being keel-hauled, and worse.

Companies sympathetic to the Crown were often given goods and raw materials seized from reluctant providers, with the business owners acting as if they WERE the government.  Of course, slavery was quite common, especially throughout the south. However, a slave who was freed could be captured by men who captured runaway slaves, since they didn't have an owner, they could be sold, usually somewhere far from the master who set them free, and be forced back into a life of slavery.

The fundamental principle of the "Bill of Rights" is that the rights of individuals supersedes the rights of the Federal Government, the rights of States, and the rights of Businesses or organizations, including religious organizations.

The First Amendment is a very broad and comprehensive one.  It guarantees freedom of Religion, but more importantly the freedom FROM religion.  You have the right to worship in the way you choose, and you cannot be forced to worship as someone else chooses.  This goes back to the purges done by the Church of England and Bloody Mary, and before that the witch trials that often involved torture, forced confession, and naming other innocent people targeted by people in power. Names given under extreme torture.  We'll cover this more in the Fifth Amendment.

The other aspect was freedom of expression, this included freedom of speech, freedom of press to publish, even freedom of expression in the form of fashion, dress, and mannerisms.  Adams, the New England conservative Vice President, and Jefferson, the French Diplomat turned Secretary of State, both had a role in Washington's cabinet.  Ben Franklin's key role in getting the help of the French was due to his peculiar sense of fashion and ability to communicate and negotiate with the King of France through the mistresses of both Franklin and King Louis.  Adams considered it deplorable, Jefferson became even more artful at negotiating with the French.

Keep in mind that the First Amendment also prevents a church or members of a religion from organizing criminal activities.  For example, a preacher can't demand a witch trial of a non-member so his parishioner can seize the land of the condemned witch.  In fact, churches are barred from committing criminal acts, such as Quakers helping slaves escape.

Therefore, you don't get to use "Religious Freedom" to engage in criminal acts against someone who is perceived to be gay, transgender, or lesbian.  For example, a Christian Doctor doesn't have the right to refuse life-saving therapy.   Even if you have a verse in your Bible that says gay people should be killed, any form of attack or violence could subject not only the attacker to punishment, but also the preacher as a conspirator.

The Second Amendment protects the right to form organized militia.  This INCLUDES the right of those in that militia to own and bear arms, ranging from small arms like pistols and rifles to artillery and even explosives.  Keep in mind that in much of the country, there were no formal police forces, because the Federal Government was not allowed to simply invade a city and take control.  Individuals needed to be able to have weapons to protect themselves from animals, natives, and looters.  The concept of self defense is also a critical element of this right.

On the other hand, the Second Amendment is also tied to the concept of a "Well Organized Militia".  Meaning that men who aren't well disciplined, such as a man getting drunk and shooting someone in the bar, would still be subject to the full penalties of the law for murder.  Furthermore, if someone is consistently a drunkard, he is not "Well Disciplined" and therefore forfeits his right to deadly weapons.  In the time of the early Constitution, taverns were permitted to have patrons, especially those with a history of being not well disciplined, surrender their weapons while they were in the tavern, and to refuse to return them if the drunken man was obviously violent.  They could pick it up the next day.

The Third Amendment says that the military can't just invade your property in peace time, and even in time of war, the homeowner has the right to compensation as well as reembursement for damages.  This also means that a soldier doesn't get to be rude and obnoxious, stealing food, clothing, or raping the owner's daughter.  This is a blurry distinction, Sherman's skirmishers were violating this right.

The Fourth Amendment is a big one for the LGBT community, especially for Transgender people.  Imagine being forced to drop your pants to show not only your penis but the exact size of your penis, at any time on the demand of even a janitor or building worker.  Imagine a male mall cop going into the women's bathroom, pulling your wife out of the bathroom, and then pulling down her pants and underwear in full view of others to confirm that she is female?  Imagine the male guard pulling you out of the bathroom to see if you are "Big enough" for the men's room.  Imagine your most personal secrets, your sexual practices with you wife, your purchases, and any personal information, were made public simply because someone thought it mind be funny?

The second Amendment says you have a right to privacy of your body, as well as your personal affects, and even your personal history.  The only time such disclosures, searches, or examinations are permitted are when the case has been presented to a judicial authority and the judge is convinced that you have collected information through legally authorized channels and methods that shows that you have probable cause for such an invasion of privacy.  Even then, the disclosure can only be made public if the defendant requests a public trial.  The founding fathers considered privacy very important.

More importantly, investigators don't get to go on a fishing expedition.  For example, they can't make random checks of anyone entering the bathroom, and they can't get a warrant to search your house for whatever they might happen to find.  If they want to look for drugs, then even if they see your dress in the closet, they can't disclose that information.  If they get a warrant to check your e-mail for classified messages, they can't publish your personal messages, or even use them in court.

The Fifth Amendment is usually known for the part about not being tortured into confessing to a crime you may not have committed.  Police try hard get around this one, but there are some pretty strict rules on what they can and can't do.  Something even more important is the "Due Process" clause. "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."    Later amendments go into details on what constitutes Due Process.

Here's the beginning of Due Process - the 6th Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Charging a transgender person with a criminal act for using the bathroom would require that all of those in the bathroom at the time in question be called as witnesses, and might even be required to testify for the defense.  if a transgender person is accused of sexual assault by one woman, and all of the other women say they didn't even notice either of them, the pretense of "protecting women" would nullify the case.

The Eighth Amendment is another biggie.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

For the LGBT community, this is a big issue.  Many LGBT people are subjected to cruel and unusual punishment every day as they are growing up.  Imagine going to school every day knowing that a dozen or more boys, most bigger than you, would be hitting you, kicking you, for 15 to 20 minutes each time, 3-5 times a day.  Imagine the terror of having to walk to school every morning, knowing that you experience this pain and suffering.  Then imagine that between beatings, you were threatened verbally, whispers from others in your class.  Imagine coming home in pain, going to the doctor, and being hospitalized because the bruises on your stomach and back have made the doctor worry that you have had internal organ damage.  Imagine having to explain the beatings at school to the doctor, then imagine the school trying to deny it.

Many transgender girls, while still pretending to be boys, are presumed to be gay boys.  Most of the bullying and violent attacks that happen to pre-tranisition girls also happen to feminine gay boys as well, or boys who out themselves thinking that there is a mutual interest.  Just being PERCEiVED as gay can trigger violence.  No due process at all.

Imagine being the parent of this child, knowing that they will never be "one of the boys".  You've watched your child grow, bu they isolate themselves, avoid boys their own age, and the only time they seem to be really happy is with their are hanging out with the girls, the OTHER girls.  You know she's a girl inside, and yet she is so terrorized by the boys she is forced to play with, who bully her, that she is terrified to say anything.

Keep in mind that "Bathroom Bills" like HB2 are treating transgender women like vicious violent criminals and rapists, for going pee in the restroom that draws the least attention.  Using teh bathroom that matches the gender assigned at birth by someone who has transitioned could be a violation of the 4th, 5th, and 8th Amendments.

Think about it.  A transgender woman spends 1 year getting Real Life Experience before starting hormones.  They have to live and socialize in their true gender.  Initially, they may only live as a girl during the evenings and weekends, usually for 4-6 months.  By the time they are going out in public regularly or going to school, they look, act, walk, talk, and in every other way live as girls or women.  With hormones, they can very quickly develop very noticeable breasts, made even more so by a padded bra, often only lightly padded, like any other girl going through puberty.

Now, imagine a young girl, 13-16 years old, with 36-C breasts, make-up, curves, and long hair and make-up, looking as pretty as the other girls in the school, and she required to not only use the boy's locker room, but is also required to shower with the other boys.  Imagine the unpleasantness.  Keep in mind that the Puberty blockers will shrink what was probably already very small to begin with, making her look even more like a pretty girl in a shower room full of horny teen-age boys?  If she's a straight girl, she's probably enjoying the view of one or two of the boys, but there are some things a teen age girl just doesn't need to see.  And of course, the boys get to see the teeny weeny weeny - along with big beautiful breasts - talk about an invasion of privacy.  Keep in mind that most states don't allow Gender Confirmation Surgery until she's 18.

There's that "special bathroom", that can be over a mile walk to leave one class, go to the designated bathroom, then try to get back to the next classroom, all in 10 minutes or less.  And of course, this makes it even more obvious that they are different in some way, making them targets for even more bullying.  More cruel and unusual punishment.

Of course, those of us who have experienced this kind of harassment have an understanding of the frustration for people of color.  Yes, we have the ability to try to hide I could almost pass as a boy, and almost always be just another girl in the crowd, while people of color have no way of hiding their skin tone.  The doctor or lawyer or engineer can be pulled over for "Driving While Black", and standing on a street corner waiting for an Uber can be enough to result in an unwarrented "Stop and Frisk".