Author Topic: Maryland - Montgomery County's Struggle to Retain Anti-Discrimination Law  (Read 1066 times)

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Offline ChefAnnagirl

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Hi all -

Been quite awhile since I've been here, and thought it would be interesting to share some experiences i had this week, deeply involved in the struggle in my home county. Last October, I gave very compelling testimony to my County council and along with the efforts of many others deeply committed and fully out in the public eye, and our jurisdiction then joined the many around the country that have begun to pass appropriate non-discrimination protections that include gender identity or gender expression in their laws.

This became a bit of a national hot button issue, and opponents have been funded from all over the country to back an attempt at referendum and repeal of this newly recognized law. As i put it in the following letter, i stepped as deeply into the breach as possible at that time, and have done so once again this week during opposition efforts to gather enough signatures to force a referendum on this law. Elections/polling took place yesterday here in Maryland, and opponents organized in an attempt to gather signatures for petitions during open polling hours at local schools and public polling locations of all kinds.

With the support of amazing people here in equality Maryland, as well as myself and other openly TG and LGB people throughout the state, we were able to successfully organize an effort to thwart many of their efforts to gather signatures on their petitions. As well, Monday was the Equality Maryland annual lobby day at the state capital in Annapolis. More than 500 T and LGB people showed up from all over the state and byond to engage in Senate and Congressional appointments to help in the effort to pass any semblance of a civil marriage act on the state level here in Maryland.

The weather the last two days was utterly brutal, and many, like myself, spent hours in freezing cold temps and freezing rain and ice yesterday to scout polling locations for opposition members and interfere with their activities at every opportunity. I covered more than 15 polling locations that day, and I had the chance to really stand up to at least one of the leading members of local opposition groups, which even included the police being called to have me removed from a polling location. It ended in intelligent and mature dialogue. Not many of you will recognize the names mentioned in the following report i prepared that night, but nonetheless the story speaks for itself. Please take the time to read the attached report/letter and some of the blog entries that i was published on, as of this morning.

I have also included additonal links to my original testimony to our county council last year and many of the blog responses on a site that has committed itself to expanding local public school cirriculums in the last few years as a result of brutal conservative actions to prevent sex and gender education in our local school system(s). I Mention several names in the following information.

They are: Dr. Dana Beyer - an openly TG and retired eye surgeon that has worked utterly tirelessly for years and years in this county alongside, with, and directly for, local legislators to do everything possible to help expand awareness and protections for all people like ourselves. She has personally been a tremendous help to me on many occasions, and has run for elective office more than once here in this state and in my home county..

Dan Furmansky - The executive director of Equality Maryland. He is a fireball and totally committed to making sure the "T" in LBGT becomes an undeniable force of reckoning in this state and establishing better dialogue between all T and LBG peoples here in this state, as well as establishing a division of EQMD specifically committed entirely to T/TG issues under the newest organization, now known as TransEquality Maryland. He is a tireless, superbly intelligent, and deeply charismatic person that has shown utter personal committment on these issues and has personally helped myself and many other TG people throughout the state in many ways and on many issues. 

Jim Kennedy: Founder and progenitor of the Vigilance blog and Wholly committed to undermining conservative efforts to limit educational awareness in the school systems in this state, as well as providing support and forum that very visibly support all of our legislative and activist efforts here for all TG and LBG folks.

Dr. Ruth Jacobs: One of the primary opponents and organizers of most of the local opposition in this county for several years along with Theresa Rickman - the local heads of Citizens for Responsible Government and Citizens for Responsible Cirriculum and our strongest adversaries in many of these issues locally.

Far too many others to mention but you will easily get the gist of it, if you take the time to read what i am about to publish here. This outlines parts of the struggle on our local  level, and what can and must be done everywhere in this country to push back the fear, lies, hatred, and misperceptions that we face directly and struggle against every day in both our public and private lives. I'll be hosting the meeting for the formation of a new "Speakers Bureau" for TransEquality Maryland, later this month at our home.

This is for anyone that has the skills, experience, or interest in public speaking in educational forums and other venues on T/TG/LGB Issues. If you are in Maryland and would like to attend, please email me. Address included at the bottom of this email.

I am one of many, and i am as far out into the open as it gets, to do some of what hopefully needs to done. There is a good bit to read here, and i hope it helps or inspires anyone out there to step it up to the next levels of public awareness when, and if ever possible...

Thanks all. Good to come back here, because without the support of Susan's Place, i would have had a much more impossibly difficult time in my first year of transition, now almost 4 years ago.





Forwarded Message Attached:
TO: Dr Beyer, Jim Kennedy, Dan Furmansky

Hi all - took me forever to recover, get warm, have a quiet dinner and finish this. Spent almost 8 hours outside today, in one way or another. I really gave every ounce of detail possible, so please forgive the time it took and the length of the report. I thought it important to give every bit of accuracy possible.

Thanks. Much love always. Thanks for all of your help and support. It means more than simple words can say.






Forwarded Message:
TO: Hagerstown TGs
Hi all -
Yesterday a bunch of hardy souls joined together in the freezing nastiness from all over the State and my home County (Montgomery), to cover polling locations in an effort to thwart petition signing and signature gathering efforts by opponents in order to force a referendum on the recent TG anti discrimination bill passed last year.
The folks at EQMD, Dan Furmansky, along with the direct support and assistance of Dr. Dana Beyer, covered phones all day and sent folks to locations where opponents had set up shop and entrenched themselves to battle this legislation. Cynthia from this group joined me directly in the cold yesterday for a couple of hours as well, as we covered the upper county areas nearest to where i live. I covered a total of 17 polling locations in 8 hours, and i directly confronted opposition at 2 of those locations before the end of the day.
Others from all over the State came together to help us in this effort. We made significant progress yesterday in preventing the petition signings, and hopefully this will continue. I will attach a copy of my report to Dan, Dr. Dana Beyer, and Jim Kennedy at the Vigilance blog, who published parts of my report this morning online.
It turned out to be quite an adventure as you will see. Pardon the length of some of the report/narrative, but i thought it crucially important to provide folks with as much detail as possible. Please read this and included links when you have the time.
I will likely also be published in the Gazette papers in the next few days as a result of a heated engagement, and intervention by local police between myself and one of our primary opponents and one of her supporters last night while polling was still taking place.
I have included the full report to Dana and Dan, as well as the link to Vigilance from today, and links from last year, as this issue was developing and i stepped as deep into the breach as it gets during that time.
Thanks, all. Meeting for the formation of the new TEQMD (Transequality Maryland) Speakers Bureau to be held at my home, this month, on Saturday the 23rd @ 4-6PM. If you would like to be included please RSVP within 3-4 days of this meeting. I will post my address and cell # as well. Can't wait to see everyone again soon.
Maryanne A. Arnow

Germantown, MD 20874


Feb 12th, 2008 –
Maryanne Arnow 
Germantown, MD

Report for Electoral Polling Locations for Coverage - EQMD Decline to Sign Campaign
Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill, 23-07 - Montgomery County, MD

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MIDDLE SCHOOL, 13737 Wisteria Drive, Germantown –
No Opposition Present

LAKE SENECA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 13600 Wanegarden Drive,Germantown –
No Opposition Present

No Opposition Present

KINGSVIEW MIDDLE SCHOOL, 18909 Kingsview Road, Germantown, -
No Opposition Present

RIDGEVIEW MIDDLE SCHOOL, 16600 Raven Rock Drive, Gaithersburg –
No Opposition Present

GREAT SENECA CREEK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 13010 Dairymaid Drive, Germantown, -
No Opposition Present

*** NORTHWEST HIGH SCHOOL, 13501 Richter Farm Road, Germantown *** -
Arrived on location, 2:30PM – Found one older woman. Early 60’s. Grandmother. Name was Jean. Table and opposition materials and petitions present on site. I approached her table. She did not read me as Trans and began her pitch. Part of her pitch included the statement  “ I don’t even think there were any public hearings about this.” She had a great deal of concern and “fear” about “predators”taking advantage of such legislation, and her great level of concern as she is a grandparent and her daughter has children including granddaughter.
I listened to her pitch, took one of her flyers, and thanked her. Told her I would be back. Retrieved my briefcase and returned to her table. I asked that she must cease and desist this petitioning, because she is fostering lies and distortions, and to please stop what she was doing as it was literally injurious to my life and my survival because I am directly one of the “kinds of people in question”.

She is very old-school generation and very devout in many of her Christian beliefs. I began to explain myself, my story, and why I believe she has been taken advantage of due to her age/demographic to promote this kind of opposition, based largely in fear, distortions, and various misrepresentations. She kept going back to what seemed rote explanations based on her fear of “predators”, both for herself and for her children and their children. She also called into question theology and we talked about God and the devil, and how she feels that many people are poisoned by such things which oppose the true will of God. I told her that even those which disrespect and hate me have been welcomed in my own house with warmth and hospitality, and how would that figure in me being “godless” as well as the fact that I am Jewish. I never let up for a moment and politely interfered with every attempt she made to collect signatures.

I called her out on her one statement about “she did not think that there had even been public hearings on this matter”. I immediately produced a copy of my testimony from that day and pounded on the point. Gave her one of my cards. Told her to please do more research on the issue. Told her and any potential signers, that they were literally signing a document that is hurting my life and my social standing, and promoting further discriminatory beliefs.  I asked her about how she had been promoted to do this task. She admitted she had only just recently met Theresa Rickman/Ruth Jacobs, and had actually never discussed the issue in it’s entirety with them during apparent preparations for this effort.

I asked her to consider that she had been specifically targeted because of her age/social standing/demographic, and beliefs, and that frankly she should be insulted in being used in such a way to promote misunderstanding of such an issue that she was clearly very under-informed and very uneducated about in general. She took that one to heart and blinked hard thinking about that point among others that I relentlessly continued to make without letup. She told me once that she was going to leave soon and pack up so she could go and vote. I thanked her warmly for her discussion and dialogue, and began to leave. As I got in my car, I saw her come back out of the school entrance to approach more potential voters to get signatures. I got back out, went back to her table, and told her I would just have to stay there to thwart every attempt she made to continue in her efforts. After about 15 additional minutes of pleasant and reasonably warm dialogue – we really did establish a good rapport at that point - - she decided to give it up and left very soon thereafter.

I told her to be very careful to allow herself to be sold on fear, and then get behind anyone that would target someone like her to promote a cause or agenda that she did not clearly understand. I told her that if I were her, as a woman and a mother, I would have been insulted by being used in this manner to stand out in the cold on a day like today. Just before leaving, one couple – Late thirties black – male and female slight accent – possibly West Indies or Jamaican – Well-dressed and well-spoken. I asked and debated and literally begged them with them to please not sign as it was directly injurious to my life and ability to function in open society.

The man accused me of trying to tell others what to do or not do and I told him there is a very clear distinction between asking someone and telling them. I explained in brief what TG means in the clinical sense because she asked specifically.  She was very concerned about indecent exposure and ambiguity in any womens’ facility, and that as a mother she is very concerned about this.

I explained general demographic of typical predatory types, the differences between gay and trans, hetero/CD, and how even if a male CD/”predator” type were to even consider daring such above the radar exposure, they would be clocked immediately and would most likely no more dare such a thing, much less expose themselves as a CD or impersonator to begin with, much less in broad daylight or any other open/shared public place.

I stressed the fact that no self-respecting TG woman in a clinically supervised transition would ever dare risk such exposure under any circumstances lest completely compromise their process. Told them I use all women’s public facilities as every other woman does. I stressed that every facility that exists has closed stalls or curtains in some part of the facility, and that was not the issue. I gave the example that if people’s perceptions about gay men had been distorted – why would any gay man, much less a drag person, or any other, go to any facility where they would only encounter the sex they sexually desire the very least. That raised a thoughtful eyebrow. I stressed the debacle with the health club and that the opposition had used the lowest tactics possible in setting this “prank” in order to promote further fear to bolster their cause. The man declined to sign but the woman still did even though I pleaded with her not to. At first she was a little condescending towards me and I called her on it. She became much more open and pleasant towards me by the end of it, but still signed. It was like being stabbed in the guts watching her do that while I could only stand and watch. 

CHRISTIAN LIFE CENTER, 11800 Darnestown Road, Gaithersburg –
No Opposition Present

BROWN STATION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 851 Quince Orchard Boulevard, Gaithersburg, -
* Unable to cover this location

SENECA VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL, 19401 Crystal Rock Drive, Germantown –
* Unable to cover this location

ST. ROSE OF LIMA PARISH, 11701 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, -
No Opposition Present

DR. SALLY K. RIDE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 21301 Seneca Crossing Drive, Germantown, -
No Opposition Present

CLOPPER MILL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 18501 Cinnamon Drive, Germantown, -
No Opposition Present

ROBERTO CLEMENTE MIDDLE SCHOOL, 18808 Waring Station Road, Germantown. –
No Opposition Present

CAPT. JAMES E. DALY, JR. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 20301 Brandermill Drive, Germantown –
No Opposition Present

NEELSVILLE MIDDLE SCHOOL, 11700 Neelsville Church Road, Germantown, -
No Opposition Present

No Opposition Present

*** STONE MILL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, *** 14323 Stonebridge View Drive, North Potomac, MD 

Arrived at approx. 6PM. Table and petitioners are present. Dark and raining, turning to ice. I quietly asked the lead person about her petition – a short frail looking woman with 1 assistant present. The Lead woman clocked me immediately, and addressed me as a male pronoun. I began to try and debate/discuss with her. She was cold and entirely dismissive. I told her I would begin to interfere with her efforts in obtaining signatures. She became very defensive and so did I. She asserted that she had every right to be there and that I needed to leave her alone or she would call the police. I told her to please go ahead and that I had every same right to be there that she did, and that I fully intended to interfere with her activities. I firmly asked her for her name.

Dr. Ruth Jacobs. I then left and called Dr. Dana Beyer from my car. I told her who I was about to engage and was promptly encouraged to fully engage her. I retrieved my briefcase with materials and went back to her table and I introduced myself, and again tried to engage her in debate. I am also now immediately asking people not to sign at the same time she and her assistant are attempting to engage them. She got a bit angry, and told me that I must leave and stop doing what I was doing, or that she would call the police. Took out her phone and began to make calls as if calling the police. I did not let up and became more aggressive in my attempts to discuss the issue with her. She continued to address me in the male pronouns, rather pointedly. I called her by name and demanded she engage me in straightforward and intelligent dialogue in this issue. I asked her why was she being so rude and if that was her typical M.O. in handling such situations. She refused, turned her back, and went inside the school. As she walked away from me I reminded her that she had been quite rude to me at the County Council hearings and if she intended to continue behaving in that manner. I knew she was going to get help in having me removed if possible.

She returned with another woman and a man. As they are hurriedly walking out of the school towards me now, they are loudly addressing me as “SIR !”. “SIR !”. I ignored them as if had not heard it at all. As they arrived at the table, telling me I must leave her alone and stop harassing her, I immediately produced legal identification and TOLD them to please observe the name and gender marker, and to not ever address me in the male gender again. I immediately asked the woman to identify herself. She gave her name and stated she was a “Chief Judge” for that/for the polling location(s).
I did not get her name. Well dressed, mid fifties, medium dark hair, well-spoken, and generally pleasant immediately upon being corrected. I told her I knew ell that I had every right to be there doing exactly what I was doing. I told her that I was continuously attempting to engage Dr. Jacobs in intelligent dialogue about the issue, and that should not be considered “harassment”. She backed down her tone immediately and acknowledged my right to be there as well, and advised me that I must make more physical space between myself and Dr. Jacob’s site. I complied. She left with her male counterpart, and I immediately moved to the nearest possible distance bordering on her area.

I then continued to attempt dialogue, now also with her assistant.  Assistant was nice, very quiet, focused on her task, and very un-engaging with me. I did not know that I am not allowed to engage potential signers at the same time as they are, and Dr. Jacobs continuously told me not to do that, at the same time she/they were attempting to talk to them.  She began to insist that I create “physical space” between her and myself – I am maybe 10 feet away from her, standing directly beyond the borderline of her table space and slogan boards. I told her the scientific definition of “physical space” had been met and that I was going to remain where I was, or as close to it as possible. She continues to address me in the male pronoun. Tells me this is not the time and place to engage in such dialogue.

A man arrives and is acknowledged in a friendly manner by Dr. Jacobs. I heard her say “how glad she was that he was there”. He walks right up to me, nearly toe to toe. Early 50’s, balding, long coat, striking blue eyes, maybe 5’9. Addresses me in the male pronoun with a threatening glare, and tells me I must stop harassing Dr. Jacobs. I insist I am making every attempt to engage her in debate and dialogue on this issue and that she had been pointedly rude to me. He does not care and continues. I address him and ask him not to refer to me in the male pronoun and that I have every legal right to be there the same as her.

I then specifically told him “I would do whatever is necessary to interfere with her activities to prevent her from gaining additional signatures”. He told me that is a direct threat and that he will now contact the police because I am threatening her. I attempt to discuss the issue with him. He will not back down and continues to accuse me of threatening. I called Dana Beyer and inform her police are now being called. She asks if I would like her to arrange some media coverage and I tell her that would be just fine and that I will continue on.

I then attempt to continue discussing the issue with this man. He is calling the police now. I am asking him why he is going to consciously and purposely distort my meaning to make his point and smear me if possible. He insists I have made a threat. I tell him that was not my meaning and the last thing I would ever consider would be any form of physical conflict or violence. I am continuing to try to talk to him the entire time he is on the phone with police. I am also still trying to engage Dr. Jacobs in debate or acknowledgement. I ask him how can he consider himself a moral or ethical standard by distorting my meaning and trying to hurt me by doing so. I ask him if he was aware of the fact that she had been called out during County Council testimony and forced to acknowledge that she has no clinical expertise in matters of gender whatsoever.

He looked surprised for a moment as I inform him I was there beside her when that happened in front of a full council chamber, and that she had shown up that day in a lab coat and stethoscope in order to bolster the public impression of her validity on this issue which was a falsehood. I ask how he could support anyone that would resort to such tactics. He claims to be a friend of hers.
I receive a call from Janel Davis of the Gazette papers and inform her of what has transpired and that police have been called and are on their way. I tell her specifically what both the man and myself have said to one another, and what my position is in this now developing issue. She will call back and make it there to the location if possible.

I then address him once again and tell him I have even written public invitation on the public forum/internet to choose a venue or forum of their choice, and even to my own home in promise of generosity to Dr. Jacobs and Ms. Rickman in a completely hospitable and diplomatic manner, and that request had been ignored and not responded to. I ask him if that sounds like the manner of a violent person ?  I implore that if someone has misspoken intent or context and then intelligently ask for correction or understanding, that it should at least be considered and that if he was in same position would he expect the same courtesy. He acknowledges that but refuses to relent.  He says “apparently I must have another side to me.”

I ask him to identify himself, but he will not until I identify the name of the reporter to whom I have just spoken with. I refuse at first, but then give him name of Janel Davis of the Gazette. He tells me that his name is “Dan Willard”. Dr. Jacobs apparently immediately calls Gazette and begins telling them of “harassment by Maryanne Arnow”. Mr Willard also speaks with Ms. Davis as I continue to try to speak with him about what he is doing trying to distort my intent when I am clearly not intending any threat or violence. I insist that anyone that knows me will attest this is true. I tell him I welcome people into my home that have even been rude and disrespectful towards me and gladly treat even those with hospitality and generosity, and would a violent person be that way ?  He does not care and continues accusing me of harassment and threats to Dr. Jacobs.  I even try to make him laugh or smile by chiding him about this as it is all happening.

Janel Davis calls me again. I recap with her what has transpired thus far, and end the call. I talk to Dana Beyer again and tell her of what is now transpiring. I am upbeat and in good humor and tell her it’s all good and that I am fine. Police arrive on site. I am attempting dialogue with a potential signer of their petitions. I finish my discussion, and Montgomery County police officers then politely ask me to step aside for a moment to speak with me. They simply tell me that they cannot stay here and babysit us, to play nice, give each other appropriate space and distance, and that they have far to many calls to deal with something like this. I was respectful and fully acknowledge their request and thank them. They leave immediately. 

I now begin to intercept potential signers before they get to them now, and hand out the “Decline to Sign” flyers. I turned once to Dr. Jacobs several feet away and tell her, “Dr Jacobs” – “ I admire your Chutzpah”… A few minutes later she returns the compliment to me out of the blue. We all continue in our tasks now keeping respectful space and distance. She addresses me again a few minutes later, out of the blue, and tells me that she does not have an issue with me, per-se. She quotes my statement from the Gazette article published last year in which I said “this is a “slippery slope”, and says to me that she supports the unisex bathroom idea. I respond in kind and tell her that I respect her professional standing and that other countries have successfully integrated these ideas.
She mentioned Boston’s laws and how they were written to better reflect such concerns as she feels have not been properly addressed in this county’s legislative issue on this matter.  We now begin to talk in a very civil, almost social manner, and discuss the issue. She says she is not a bigot and does not feel that such characterizations of her are accurate at all and that she is not a mean or hateful person.

Her main concerns, as she states, are that she feels that any person with male genitalia does not belong in women’s facilities at all. Period. She also feels that this measure was passed too quickly with too much ambiguity and too many issues left not fully addressed, thereby creating situations where such potentially inappropriate abuses by certain males may take place. I counter with her knowledge that when certain people may actually be transitioning, the RLE (real life experience) is a clinical requirement in most cases and that this is still the same exact SOC(standards of care) issue. I ask her how can anyone live the required RLE, without actually facing this issue.

I tell her that no self-respecting transgender(ed) person would EVER consider such inappropriate indecency or exposure as it would compromise and likely destroy a persons’ chances for completion of a successful transition under almost any circumstance should it actually occur. I remind her that all facilities DO have closed stalls which also lock, as well as many having more private areas or curtains in some cases. She states that if a person has appropriate ID/Documentation to assert their identity in gender that this then is not the issue, and that she really does not have an issue with me personally, or persons “like me” that have, or are successfully transitioned to the target gender.

She does tell me that no one should try to “force” their self-perception of gender identity onto or into her reality just because it may be theirs. I tell her a little bit of my personal story of very early childhood self-perception, and how exactly, for me, that has in fact become the undeniable reality of my private and public existence. She states her perceptions, that although this may be mine and others reality of self-perception, but that she and others still do not share this perception in regards to actually being “female”. She states not having the ability to menstruate, or bear children, and therefore not able to face the same rigors and experiences as biological females, and in those ways, therefore, not a necessarily valid reality of a person’s gender from her viewpoint, either as a clinician or individual.

This then leads back to her point of other’s trying to enforce their (legislative) reality of self-perception upon any other such as herself that does not necessarily or fully agree with that individual self-perception. She still states concerns that the legislation has been written in such a way as to leave the door open for abuse or inappropriate use, and that if nothing else, the law could be and should be written better. She feels it was passed too quickly and without enough consideration from the constituency at large and that it could have been done much better and taken more of these – hers and other’s concerns into account.

I hear what she is saying and thank her as well for engaging me in this discussion now.  I tell her then that we need to continue in intelligent dialogue to resolve these issues instead of allowing continued degeneration into the shitstorm that this has become.

I tell her I would like to have a part in that process and once again reiterate my desire in opening a forum of open and non-conflict based dialogue, including Ms. Rickman, to work towards resolving these issues if at all possible, and that I would welcome any moderation that she feels would be appropriate. Again I restate she is welcome in my home herself and that anything would be better than continued conflict and lack of mature discussion and intelligent dialogue.

That if it should come to referendum and require re-writing that we all should have a part in that process in a mature and intelligent manner. We actually seem to agree on certain points, and that for those that still are the most concerned, this is in fact a “slippery slope”, where the perceptions of those most opposed or concerned are still not resolved in a suitable manner. Of course I have to say then, that there is simply no way to make “everyone” happy with issues such as these and there will always be dissention from one direction or another at the end of it.

We continued civil, open, and peaceful discussion for a few minutes more. She is preparing to leave and so am I at this point. It is 7:45PM, and we are all walking ice blocks and exhausted. She allows me to offer her a handshake, and then shares a very real and very earnest hug. A hug. Imagine that. More thanks exchanged between us both. I tell her I respect her professional standing, thank her very much for opening that conversation with me, and hope to open more dialogue with her soon. She says must soon return to her work, hasn’t done any of her billings for several months, and then after all of this, maybe such a dialogue can continue in the future. Credit given where honest credit is due. Good enough for me.

That’s it. Thanks everyone for all of your help and support.

Maryanne A. Arnow
Germantown, MD 20874


Posted on: February 14, 2008, 01:50:11 AM
Half of the posted Narrative for keeping up with the petitions to date:
Posted on the Vigilance blog, 2/18/08.

Maryanne Arnow said...
Hi all -

just wanted to dig in here and respond to some of what i saw and heard today and in the last couple of days this week.

Some of the things i have heard this week and today were no more than lies, distortions, even direct insult and inconsideration, or incomplete and innaccurate assertions at best.

I will give a (long)bit of a detailed narrative of what has happened for me in the last 2 or 3 days, and from a differing view than Jim's.

Part of this, is because i actually heard from a woman i confronted today at the Rockshire Giant in Rockville, that she had been called by a man (Jeff) that i have talked to at least twice now, at two different locations, in two days, and that had supposedly told her that he was "intimidated" by me.

This is The very same man shown hugging me, in a picture from Saturday, published on this very site...

Her partner at Rockshire i met, also was very rude and very insulting and even said (again, a nice, morallly and ethically correct Christian lady)

Within the first five minutes of our conversation, she said -

"YOU look just like a clown" -

i guess, just to be mean and throw one below the belt...

OK - so I'm in jeans, a baseball cap, and denim jacket with a black and very conservative sweater under that. Normal but fashionable and well-fitting boots for cold weather.

Now i wonder if she's going to go around and misrepresent everything she saw in me, and tell everyone how she met this ridiculously dressed "guy" that thinks (poor sick thing - ohh sooo concerned for my poor soul and poor sick mind) "he's thinks he's a girl"... far as i know, i have never seen a "clown" in jeans, very natural makeup, conservative earrings, no nail polish, and a denim jacket - and getting compliments earlier this afternoon from someone i didn't even know - a beautiful and well dressed woman at a coffee shop - about my age - - how much she liked my boots and where did i get them from, etc. - you know - normal girly talk in public between any two women that may have never met before...

and this person of such superior moral and ethical standards is calling me a "clown" in front of others in public, and telling me i look nothing like a girl and i "never can and Never will". A nice, "polite", well mannered and Mature Christian woman.

And that was in the very beginning of our exchanges before the heated debated started many minutes later...

Absolute in my face lies and total disrespect and total refusal to not refer to me in the male pronoun even though i asked maybe a dozen times to please extend that civil courtesy to me.

I asked this, since that it is, in fact, the WELL-KNOWN reality of my ENTIRE public and private and professional life. I dont live as any sort of male now - not ever - havent for years now...have no desire to, either...

Her partner at this table told me (Jeff) had called her on the phone and talked with her about how he was now "very upset" and he had felt "intimidated" and was very upset about all of the lies and the pictures posted here on this site and how his words had been "distorted".

On Both occasions that i had met this same person this week, he was extremely warm, very friendly and peaceful, and both times, with witnesses, he and i parted with hugs and mutually very warm sentiments because we had BOTH actually listened to one another, and had BOTH learned something from it.

So Here's how it goes, starting from Friday afternoon when i first met him. A very nice guy.

Friday, the 15th, - late afternoon, maybe about 5 PM or so. I arrived at the Lancaster County Dutch Market in Germantown, looking for petitioners to engage and prevent from spreading any further lies and micharacterizations about this issue, or any members of the T or LGB communities at large.

I had learned of the likelihood of their presence there because of memorandum intercepts from Ruth Jacobs and Theresa Rickman to all of their supporters organizing and manning the petition drives.

This had been passed on to me, and others such as Dana Beyer, Dan Furmansky of Equality Maryland, JimK, and all the rest of the good folks on this blog in support of upholding the law that has been passed, as well as many other forums that i and others like myself are connnected with all over the state and country.

These memos clearly showed what areas the CRC and CRG would be targeting.

I found them both interesting and scary. They seemed to really be targeting areas where high concentraions of older voters and more conservative types would be, as well as areas that have a lot of families with children.

Good political and strategic thinking, but nonetheless, obviously targeting certain demographics - the most easily swayed and influenced by the kind of fear, lies, and misperceptions our opponents seem determined to sell to the general public at large to make their point at whatever cost or means.

I dont say that to be mean. It's very personal to me. It's difficult to keep one's emotions in check, especially if you believe that everything you stand for as an individual is being completely or even partially misrepresented by others for any reason at all.

So I arrive at the Dutch market Friday and there is a table with signs, and at least two people obviously collecting signatures.

I called Dr. Dana Beyer and told her i am about to go and engage with them, and will let her know if i need any help.

I parked and walked over to the Market, where they have a nice table set up with clipboards, signs, handouts and flyers of at least 3 or 4 different types. There are two men working here, one man of color, one white male - 40's to mid 50's. I am dressed well, and usually very comfortable and conservative.

I'm in blue jeans, nice winter boots, flat sole. no heels - comfy and warm but cute and totally "mainstream" - baseball cap in the cold, my hair pulled back - Natural.

"Normal" for any professional woman, and true "girly girl" in her early forties (like me) trying to make the best with what she's got to work with.... Just like almost any other woman in America does every day of her life..

Very much always in season and in very reasonable style, and i'm no "drag" queen by any means, by ANYONE that ACTUALLY knows me personally.

This includes family, friends (90% straight, mainstream folks, professional associates -(fellow chefs, mostly straight guys that know the difference, and many real women and "normal" biological female friends that think i have truly great, but very unobtrusive style.

I am self-posessed, super self-confident, highly outgoing, generous to a fault, obviously very comfortable in my own skin, and generally known to be a VERY warm and hospitable person. I am also a very emotional person. Have always been. Deeply sensitive, empathic, and also sometimes easily hurt. Like that would be unusual for any woman ?? yeah, right...

OH - and my wife - a "normal" biological woman - beautiful and intelligent. My best friend and soulmate, and still married more than 10 years already.

So i walk over to these guys, and get them to talk to me. Look them both in the eyes and ask them to explain what they are doing and why. At first, neither of them even guessed i am trans - so that should tell you something right there - they're warmly greeting me with hello ma'am - would you like to sign this petition ? etc...

I want hear what they have to say, see if can actually get them to tell me a fallacy or distortion before either figure out that i am not there to sign it. If they do, that means that they are telling lies to everyone else they have talked to. Hundreds of people, probably.

It's not that i am calling these guys liars, either - it's that they have been given half of a story to tell the to the rest of the general public, and a badly distorted half at that.

It has played on their greatest fears and concerns as good citizens and fathers and family men. I understand this.

They deeply beleive in what they have been told, and because it plays so deeply on their most basic human fears as dads, husbands, and community members -

and so of course, they are going to swallow almost anything they've been fed, and then regurgitate this mass on people that are just as truly uninformed from all sides of the issue as they themselves apparently are -

It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of lies and negativity that effectively and eventually energizes and galvanizes hundreds and thousands of people to take action to do whatever it takes to "prevent all the monsters(metaphorically speaking) from getting at them and their kids"...

Their names are Max - a tall, broadshouldered, well dressed man of color in his forties with a slight accent. Very well spoken and friendly, but very firm, and a booming voice, especially when agitated...

The other fellow - a much slighter man - white, early-mid fifties, about my height - maybe 5'9 or so -casually dressed - a baseball cap and tennis shoes w/jeans and a jean jacket. Very warm, very polite, well mannered and very softly spoken. Easy to talk to. Nice clear blue eyes and a good genuine smile.

The kind of guy that ANYONE would like, if they just met and exchanged basic pleasantries on the street or at the store. A veteran too, i think.

They made an excellent team because they were well balanced, and contrasted and complimented each other quite well.

I got Max to actually inform me that this law had been passed without any amendments, that the public had been "uninformed", and that the "8 member council" had "just decided to pass this bill into law" and "impose their will" on the rest of the county's residents.

I asked if there had been public hearings on this matter, and he told me that there had, but that they had been played down and under-publicized. That's 3 for 3 right there.

It just so happens that i am carrying copies of my very own testimony at county council from one of the public hearings on the matter back in October of this past year.

It also happens that myself as well as many other Transgender women from all over the area got a fairly considerable amount of media coverage during that time.

I alone was on newschannel 8, an abc news 7 segment, and had a half page article with a big color photo of me at my home, published in the Washington Post at that time as well - Written by reporter Ann Marimow - she wrote a fair and excellent article. A Sunday edition no less -

Do you know how many people get the Sunday edition of the post and watch those channels ? And that was just me...Oh yeah - forgot about the detailed Gazette article from that time as well.

Ok - now the bill was amended, several times, and went through the usual channels to get it passed. Just like every other bill that has ever gone through the council. Now they have people out here telling fellow citizens things like these distortions and it gets me upset. real upset.

I thank them, take some literature, leave, go and get my briefcase, call Dana & tell her what's going on, and then walk back and begin the debate and dialogue with these guys - two to one.

I engage them both and stay that way for at least a full hour until help arrived in the form of Mr.Teacher Man - from right here on the blog. Dana Beyer has called in some support for me, but i really have my hands full until that time.

I started out by introducing myself and politely telling them that i am here to prevent and interfere with their activities in any way i possibly can. That usually creates kind of a shock for a moment or two -

Max imediately begins to address me in the male pronoun. At first it is really quite rude. not really mean, just patently and disrespectfully rude. He's a very intelligent guy, and speaks very well. Likes to think he knows all aspects of the issue and the law itself from inside and out.

If that were true why did he already tell me at least three things that were not true, just to begin with?

Not only this, but he is DEAD sure the law was never even amended before p[assing], and just keeps pounding on that point and how he knows his rights as a citizen and will see it come to real public opinion and that the language is so vague that it needs to be re-written.

He honestly feels violated, and has somehow been convinced by SOMEONE else that the council just quietly slipped one under the rug right under his and everybody's nose on this one, and has no problem convincing others of this distortion as well.

He insists now that he is not biased or discriminatory towards folks like me - and i believe him. He really is a nice guy - he tells me about discrimination because of his race, and that he knows what something like that feels like.

i totally agree and he says but that is not the issue - i believe he honestly believes that, too..

He is still being very polite, but now becoming SOOOOO zealous and forceful that it's becoming harder by the second for me to reason with, discuss, and reach past any of the rhetoric he just keeps running over and over, like a reel to reel tape stuck on repeat...

i have also engaged Jeff at the same time. Got both of their attention and begin to tell them about me, people like me, and why all of this hurts me very directly as a fellow citizen and since i actually AM one of the "sorts of people", in question now.

This IS actually about MY life in more personal ways than it will ever be for either of them, or any of you for that matter, unless you are <transgender> and have to face what i face every day of my life.

Max picks up the copy of the council testimony - the final draft i guess, and printed in such a manner that it does not show, anywhere that i can find in it, where it HAD BEEN previously amended using the standard [[bracketing]] where ever it has had language first added, and then OMITTED on later AMENDED drafts BEFORE a vote for passage.... hmmm.. how interesting is that ?

SOMEONE had to give them these materials, explain them in an INNACCURATE manner, and told them exactly how to use them for maximum effect.

This guy is literally telling me to my face that "this bill passed and that it has NEVER been amended" and "that the public never had a fair chance to weigh in on the issue".

He actually said that - MAX - if you are out there - you KNOW we left on very good terms, but please do not deny you were telling people that, because you WERE.

A lie. A distortion, a main selling point of your pitch.
Right in front of the face of a <transgender> woman fighting to for her life to survive in this county and this culture.

One that was actually at the freakin' hearings in front of a FULL council chamber, WITH media coverage, and giving testimony that IS now public record..It's been published in it's entirety on this very site, as a matter of fact....

I ask him if they were aware that Dr Jacobs was actually asked by councilmembers to admit, for the RECORD, that she has no clinical expertise or direct clinical experience in matters of gender change, and that this is not her field of practice whatsoever.

She stood right next to me the whole time and never even acknowledged me as a human being that day, five months ago.

I actually like her after speaking with her in person last week. I just dont like what she and others are doing. but that was about as rude as it gets. I even tried to greet her that day at hearing, and was ignored as if i didnt even exist. i dont deserve to be treated that way - no matter what your "moral basis" is.

I also dont deserve to be lied to, disrespected, and lied about, by people that have no experience or generally correct personal or clinical knowledge of my personal experience as a human being in this life. Yes, that makes me angry as hell. It would you, if it were you too.

Unless you can truthfully say you are actual witness to my (or anyone's) heart and mind, and my entire life's thoughts, feelings, and personal motivations, as long as i have been alive, then you might just consider backing it down. Someday, you might just be opposed and exposed as giving false witness to another person's life, and in every way possible.

So we continue our debate. I won't stop trying to go point by point to debunk their fears, show them the distortions, and face statements like - "then so what are you afraid of" if it goes back up for referendum.

Max is telling me that if it does, then it will be rewritten more clearly, with more public input, and then everyone will be happy and the CRG and CRC and everyone else will pack up and leave it alone for good. He actually said that too.

I'm a pretty fearless girl, by almost any standard, and i dont fear the public being better informed if thats the case, and in fact i welcome the opportunity to tell even more people the truth of this issue and the realities of severe discrimination and total misperception that we face every day in our lives. More than glad to.

What i DO fear though, is that since there is no protections on the Federal or State levels should anyone wish to discriminate against me in housing, workplace, and other public services (this constitutes about 99% of the actual legislation - the REAL heart of the issue) and yes - use of public facilities as are APPROPRIATE to MY gender - -

i fear that i, and everyone like myself in any way will have to wait what - ANOTHER year ?? Longer ? Longer before i have any legal recourse backed by any existing law that would prevent me from being discriminated against in any of those critically important areas of basic survival ?

Sure - i think i'll just kick back and wait around for everyone else to decide if i can have equal civil and human rights just like every other human being in this country is already entitled to have...

Sounds like big, big, fun to me...

I'm supposed to accept that as reasonable, when people like me face blatant discrimination, distortion, and lies, in every facet of public life for years now, and without any possibility of legislative recourse whatsoever. very nice. very thoughtful and reasonable. HAH!

So we continue. I have managed to get Jeff's attention and actually talk to the fellow a little now. He is more open, warm, receptive. Less excited. very calm, very reasonable and willing to listen to my side. Max is continuing his pitch and getting a few more signatures here and there.

I'll stop every now and then and ask people not to sign it, and hand them my own flyers that ask them not to, and why the logic and the oppositions' assertions are hugely flawed.

I tell people they are about to affix their legal signature to a document of public record without actually understanding BOTH sides of the issue, instead of the ONE and ONLY side they have been barraged with, in a well funded, and heavily advertised ((radio ads, robocalling the entire county with professionally recorded messages, print ads, etc..)) -

...and well organized scare tactics campaign, that effectively capitalizes on the most fundamentally horrific fears of any parent, husband, wife, dad, mom - that cares for children and each other.

I can barely pay my own bills and i'm supposed to be able to stand up to THAT ? That's fair, right ?

So - we continue our debate, dialogue, and sometimes emotionally heated exchanges.
I tell them things like - "if the kind of "predatory" people wanted to dress up in dresses, and do the things they say they will - they could have just as easily done that before the law was passed as they could now.

No difference. but they say the law will make it impossible to differentiate between those actual transgender citizens like myself that have every right to use the same facilities as every other person does, and those rapists, predators and pedophiles that wish to use women's clothes as a cover for their activities.

I tell them that the typical M.O. of pedophiles, and other predatory types, being very well documented and researched in this county, is typically very much under the radar. Why ? so they wont get caught doing all the nasty things they do. Reasonable, right ?

So now, suddenly just because this law is passed, they are all going to suddenly change their effectively predatory behavioral patterns, and engage in one of the highest profile kinds of activity that they have little or no or hope of pulling off to begin with.

Behavior which also is the most very likely kind of behavior which would allow them to get caught, captured, exposed, arrested, and stopped from obtaining their goals. Makes sense, dosen't it ?

I talk to them both about the real differences between Transgender people, and what about female to male transgender people (how come no one ever talks about THAT part of the equation, by the way ?) I talk to them about how that differs in almost all cases from gay, bi, or other.

What about people born with BOTH gender characteristics ? I talk to them about the term "lifestyle choice" and what an utter fallacy that entire term is, in relation to a person's actual Gender Identity.

This one i know better than either of them - being a child of about 4 years old, and in stunning emotional and mental awareness and anguish of this situation even at that age - thats flies right in the face of all arguments about it being a sexualized "lifestyle choice"...

I talk about and defend any gay person on that point and how most of them could not possibly fit the behavioral patterns of predatory males, and why in the hell would a gay man even consider trying to invade the ONE place, that they are SURE to find the very gender that they desire the very LEAST.

They had never though about any of these things, either. We are still debating. I am still doing everything to interfere with their getting additional signatures, and trying to literally plead with people about "please research the issue more thoroughly before they sign such a document", and that it could not possibly be fair to make decisions and judgements based only on one representation, of one distorted side of the entire issue.

I tell both of them that they should be insulted by being used in such a manner, and allowing themselves to be led by the amplified fears, agendas, and distortions they have most obviously been given by others that made sure to only address one specific aspect of a much larger issue.

They are obviously both very intelligent men that are just trying to do what they believe is right and proper based on the information they have been given..

I have no beef with that at all.
After about 45 minutes of this, i can see that Jeff is asking intelligent and personal questions. HE is now asking ME questions. I have managed to give them both enough new infornmation and viewpoint that at least one of them is starting to really think about it in larger terms.

I really can see it in his eyes. He is becoming unsure of the accuracy of what he has been shown and told in almost every way.

He is also a good Christian man - a truly good man - anyone can see that about this guy - he is a nice man and it shows in his willingness to be openhearted, considerate, quietly spoken, and open minded.

He at least begins to stop the improper and rude pronoun usage after i show him my valid and legal state identification, my real and full legal name, my business card, and repeatedly appeal to his sense of manners and common decency to PLEASE respect a request politley and repeatedly made to him, by a fellow human being and fellow resident and neighbor in the same county.

I give them both copies of my Testimony to the council, as well as copies of my follow up letter to the council (also published on this site - please see the article entitled "A Test for the Media" - and i never let up for one single moment. Finally help arrives -

Mr.Teacher Man. Dana Beyer made sure to send him to help me out.
A wonderfully warm and well spoken young guy that is apparently an actual teacher, and that has a master's in linguisitcs amongst other talents.

We have never met before, but the connection is immediate and he jumps right into the debate. Now at least we are on even terms and i am no longer outgunned and outpaced.

Max has been on the phone at least once, i'm fairly sure he has told his people that we are there. He gets a call and tells Jef they are done and "have another assignment" begins to pack and leave.

We continue to engage them. Ended up standing there and peaceably talking amongst the four of us for at least another half an hour.

Jeff and Max BOTH very honestly THANK me for helping to open their eyes and minds a little wider about all the differing sides of this issue that they had never even considered before.

They openly admitted there were a LOT of things that I - that we - had effectively called into question for them in such an intelligent manner they they would really have no choice now but to look at things a little differently - a much more expanded perspective than they had before they started out that day, in their signature gathering efforts.

Max is still very obviously committed to his point, and wants to see it come another forum of public debate as is his right...

Jeff seems at times now even to be right on the fence, and even seems a little wondering if he has actually made the right decision in supporting this cause...

I can see it in his face and his eyes - we are laughing sometimes now, sometimes still very serious though - this is serious stuff and we all know it...

Earlier in the conversation, he admitted he had never in his life actually met, talked to, or really studied any of the issues, clinical or otherwise about transpeople like myself.

I have talked to them about different male predatory types, non-predatory male hetero cross-dressers, female to male trans issues, and everything else under the sun in terms of human gender and sexuality.

Things that, it seems to me, the CRG, CRC, and it's many conservative allies, might apparently never ever discuss with them, and from what i can gather,
possibly not from a positive viewpoint of anything even resembling acceptance, or human compassion and civility toward people like me that this most directly impacts.

We eventually part ways. BOTH Max and Jeff give me real, warm, and earnest hugs and handshakes.

No hard feelings left at all, and there are many witnesses that have watched this, and seen this whole scene turn from a very heated debate, to warm, peaceful, mature, and open discussion and dialogue..

Jeff looks me dead in the eye and tells me bluntly i have really made him think about this in ways that "have really made him question certain things" and that he has been deeply impacted, and also very touched by this in a very unexpected way.

He told me "he had realized i had seen a great deal of pain in this life and he could really see it in my eyes and in my face".

He said that, and did so in a truly compassionate and very sensitive menner that almost took me quite off guard.

They both PROMISED to read the information i gave THEM. Told them to call me anytime they want. They have my business cards and i would welcome further dialogue with them, and they can obviously tell i really mean it from the heart.

Jeff flatly tells me he really likes me - he is being light and real and very straightforward and honest about his thoughts and feelings.

I deeply welcome that from anyone that is not being mean intentionally rude, or abusive towards me..

He and i honestly connected, and it deeply impacted him -

especially since i have effectively called his entire line of reasoning about this issue, and human gender and sexuality in general.

Myself and MrTeacher man have so effectively called it into question, to the point that he actually is expressing profound appreciation to me about this, still asking me questions, and telling me he likes/really appreciates the way in which i did it.

We hug at least twice, and MrTeacher Man even helps him load their table into the back of one of their cars.

I dont really think that sounds very much like what i heard today, about me supposedly intimidating and "deeply Upsetting" this very gentle and intelligent fellow.

He gladly shook my hand, he GLADLY and WARMLY hugged me
Level the playing field