If you’ve never heard of Lily McBeth before, let me tell you a little about her. Born William McBeth, she transitioned in 2005 at the age of 71, and attempted post-transition to continue her career as a substitute teacher in New Jersey. Her vocal and public fight for her employment rights made the news nationwide in 2006, and helped lay the foundations of transgender employment rights in her state. Even though she had to resign 3 years later due to a suspicious lack of teaching assignments, she nonetheless kept her spirits up and continued public advocacy work in other areas.
This post features one positive and two negative stories. Let’s lead with the positive one, the story of Captain Roberta Monell, who is also our featured main photo today. Twenty years ago the 49-year-old Roberta – born Robert – started dressing female while working as an investigator at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She bravely used the more feminine version of her name, ignoring criticism and losing her job. She went bankrupt, then became a truck driver for five years. In 2000 she reapplied to the police department but was rejected. She took them to court and won, was hired, and fought through the ranks to eventually become a captain in the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office. Facing mandatory retirement after a solid career she enjoys, she said:
“I wanted to prove that transgender people are just as normal as everybody else. We just identify with the opposite gender,” she said. “But we’re still human beings.”
Next, we have a negative item – the case of a transgender student who allegedly was harassed beyond all belief by campus security at a North Carolina Community College. Why would I report what right now appears to be a “she-said-and-the-other-side-can’t-get-its-story-straight” piece? Because her story is very believable – I’ve seen verified cases where the same thing has happened to other transwomen. I think reading about the Keystone Kops routine of the school administration could be useful for being forewarned about how “trans toilet terror” can turn really ugly even in a professional setting.
As negative as this story of a transgender woman being harassed by police during a routine traffic stop is, what is heartening is that she’s standing up for her rights and suing their asses. Amira Gray, a 26 year-old transwoman from New Jersey, alleges that she was:
…was pulled over while driving through North Bergen six months ago, she was humiliated, she said, by the police officer calling her “Mr.” And “sir.”
Almost three weeks ago, Gray sued the North Bergen Police Department, saying she was a victim of discrimination, targeted because of her sexual orientation, and accused of driving on a suspended license despite proof that it was not suspended. Police impounded her car.
Unfortunately the article does not talk much about Ms. Gray’s case, but there is a video with her and her attorney which is worth viewing quickly.
Republican governor Chris Christie, is apparently shameless even after his aides orchestrated a bridge-closing as a dirty-tricks political payback which resulted in the death of a 91 year old woman, and not even week later it’s alleged he used disaster funds intended for Hurricane Sandy victims to make campaign ads featuring him and his family. So he has apparently decided to double-down on the stupidity.
Christie’s stated reason for denying transgender persons in his state an easier way to get congruent birth certificates was the massive, sweeping identity fraud committed by transpeople – almost of a Biblical nature. And I mean Old Testament here. Christie’s reasons are absolute bullshit of course, and he’s doing no more than following the recent religious conservative line of “transpeople are icky and as soon as it’s convenient, we’re going to do something about them.”
Although at the current time most readers of Transas City are not from the Garden State, what is happening in New Jersey is indicative of the steady progress which transgender people have made in the last five years.
This bill, which would allow changing your gender marker on your birth certificate without mandating SRS, is very progressive, and I hope that it is placed into law. Perhaps a vain hope, unfortunately, since Governor Chris Christie has not proven himself a fan of transgender constituents. But let’s cross our fingers and see.