How to be you in five easy steps

NOTE: I live in Ontario, so am speaking of my own experiences. Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, you may have to do more travelling.

Okay, now you have your new documents showing your new name. You sit there staring at them because the government has finally acknowledged you are who you say you are. Don’t get too comfortable, for there is still a lot of work to do before you’re done.

For me here in Ontario, some of it is relatively painless. Ontario operates locations under the name “Service Ontario”, which are essentially one-stop shopping locations for dealing with provincially issued documents. There are two types – government run locations and franchises. Most transactions can be handled at franchise locations, but for modifications to health cards, you need to visit a government location as the franchises are restricted in the health information they can access. Once there, you can modify not only your health card, but driver’s licence, vehicle ownership or the Ontario identification card (if you don’t have a driver’s licence). There, one stop and all your provincial documentation has been changed to your new name.

The federal government also operates a similar service, called logically enough, “Service Canada”. Again, one stop and you can change the information on all your federally issued documents except your passport. The Social Insurance Number controls all government access, so changing that will change your tax records and, in my case, my federal pension records.

But you’re still not done. You have bank accounts and credit cards to change. In my case, that involved a simple visit to the bank where everything was done within five minutes. And something you may not have considered: if you rent, you’ll need to sign a new lease in your new name. You hope the landlord still wants you as a tenant as you prepare for this step.

What else? Well, what about your cable and cell phone? Those can be settled with a quick visit to the nearest location of your service providers, armed with your documentation. Ontario covers the cost of most drugs for seniors such as myself, so you’ll have to give your pharmacy the new information as well, as well as advise your doctor of the changes so he’ll get paid for treating you.

In the Greater Toronto/Hamilton Area, transit companies operate under an umbrella company called Metrolinx. Through Metrolinx, I have a pass (electronic ticket actually) that allows me to travel on any transit system under their control provided I have sufficient funds on the card. Naturally this has my name on it, so that must be changed as well.

These are the things I have to change, or have already changed. You may have others, such as gym memberships or gas company credit cards that will need to be attended to before you’re done.

Welcome to you new name.

Cat.

Permanently blocked

As I type this, I have three unfinished stories dating back several years in my projects folder and I don’t think they will ever get finished.  Not because I’ve had a major case of writer’s block, but for another reason.

When I began working on these pieces, I was in a much darker place and the tenor of these work reflects that – very dark and brooding.  Times have changed and I am no longer in that place and despite reading over what I do have down, I still can’t get back to that darkness and in all honesty, I don’t want to.  Still, there are some wonderful descriptive passages among those words, but I can’t figure out how to incorporate them into new pieces. Here’s an example:

“Rattle, clatter, clunk.”  The lid of the letter box announcing it had been fed intruded into his consciousness. Hoping there might be more than rejections, bills and flyers, Colin hurried to check.  Three pieces of paper awaited his grasping hand.

“Looks like the usual stuff: ‘occupant’ and ‘householder’.  Oh well, I suppose it’s better than no mail at all” he muttered to himself.  Ever since Colin had decided to become a full time writer he had developed the habit of talking to himself,  but with so many story lines chasing each other around in his mind, he hadn’t noticed that he did so.  “Well, let’s see.  We have something from a local business, addressed to ‘occupant’.  Sorry folks, ‘occupant’ doesn’t live here anymore.”  He folded up the flyer and threw it into the recycling bucket.  (With the amount of paper he went through, mostly from having to re-write frequently,  Colin was very conscientious about recycling.)

“An envelope from a publisher.  Let’s see what they say.  Hmm, they think the  novel has possibilities, but the genre doesn’t fit in with their catalogue.   Oh.  Well, that’s an excuse I haven’t heard in a while.  I’ll just add this to the collection.  Maybe one of these days I’ll just put out a book of rejections I’ve received and call it something like ‘A Thousand Times “No” ’. ”

But despite some of these descriptions I find myself stuck.  I can’t get back to the dark side on these and can’t find a way to recycle the good bits into something else.  So I suppose I’ll have to do what I do with photos I screw up and hit delete.  This is what an artist friend of mine suggested, reasoning that because they were started during a black period, there is lot of negativity attached to them, so I’d be better off getting rid of them.  And I have to agree with her.

Oh well, there will be brighter stories ahead, I know it, so I’ll just carry on and keep blogging until those stories appear.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love (and ideas) too.

Cat.

Wrong way to do it

I’ve held off writing this for a couple of days because I wanted to calm down before I did so. By now you’ve no doubt heard or read of the stunt Black Lives Matter Toronto pulled during the annual Pride Parade last Sunday, July 3.

If you haven’t, here’s a synopsis of what occurred: Black Lives Matter had been invited to lead the Pride Parade this year. At a point about half-way through the route, at the intersection of Yonge Street and College Avenue in mid-town Toronto, they staged a sit-in. The purpose of this action was to have list of demands acceded to by “the powers that be”, but what it did do was piss off a lot of people and cost them whatever good will they had amassed. After 30 minutes of holding up the parade, the executive director of Pride Toronto signed their demands just to get things moving again.

There were many demands from what I could see in a brief screen shot of the document. Among them was a demand for greater representation of black queer youth on the Pride committee. Let’s take a look at this one before I continue on to the one that really had me worked up (still does, but I’m trying to contain my anger). As I understand it, Pride is a volunteer organisation. If there is a dearth of representation in any volunteer organisation from a particular segment of the population, that is usually because nobody from that group is stepping up to volunteer.. If BLM wants more black representation on the Pride committee, rather than demand it be made so, they should instead light a fire under the people they want to see on that committee so they will volunteer.

Their other major demand concerns law enforcement. In their written demands, they stated they don’t want police floats in the parade any more. LGBT members of the force can march in the parade, but not in uniform. An officer interviewed by several of the news reporters in Toronto indicated he was proud of both being gay and a cop. I’ve heard on the news since that BLM modified that demand and now want zero police presence at future Pride Parades, not even for security.

I originally thought the sit-in in was a foolish action, but this last statement just proves their stupidity knows no bounds. This parade attracts in the order of a million people watching it each year. Now, Toronto, and Canada, are usually very accepting, or at least tolerant, of LGBT people. Many of the people on the sidelines come from parts of the world – and yes, I’m looking south of the Great Lakes when I write this – where such tolerance isn’t quite as common. The police are there for crowd control. While it is only a possibility, can you see everything being as peaceful without the police presence? I’m going to jump to the extreme now with this “no law enforcement” thing BLM wants. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked the parade route accompanied by Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Justin was also accompanied by some bodyguards. Would BLM do away with them as well? After all, they are law enforcement.

I’ve seen BLM in action in Toronto before, during another sit-in outside police headquarters. As in the case at the Pride Parade, they seem to make demands they know can’t, or won’t, be met. At the demonstration in the spring, they wanted to know the names of two officers involved in a shooting. The officers were eventually cleared by the Special Investigations Unit, a provincial agency that investigates all cases involving police wjen there is serious injury or death. This time it’s the complete removal of all police from the Pride events. They know in advance that demands like this will be ignored, but that will give them another opportunity to scream “racism” when the demands are denied.

In an interview today, the executive director of Pride Toronto admits he only signed the paper to get the parade moving again. He also pointed out that Pride is much bigger than Black Lives Matter and his signature on that document means nothing until the committee can discuss the issue.

Staging their demonstration along the route to disrupt the parade served only to wash any credibility BLM had down the sewers at Yonge and College. That, coupled with the demands for more black representation and less (zero) police leads me to the conclusion they want to sabotage Pride Toronto. A bit of jealousy perhaps because Pride gets so much public attention while it seems only the media pay attention to them. I would be willing to put money on the possibility that Black Lives Matter isn’t invited back next year.

Yes, black lives matter – all lives matter. But tactics such as they’ve used in two separate demonstrations this year will only alienate, not attract, those people who they want to support them.

Cat.

Why go?

Today is the final event in Toronto’s Pride Month, the Pride Parade. Yesterday was the Dyke March and Friday evening was the Trans March.

It’s the Trans March I want to discuss here. A friend of mine raised an interesting point when she said the following (and I’m probably paraphrasing): I thought the aim and goal of trans people was to fit in – to be indistinguishable from regular men and women. It that’s the case, why would you want to out yourself by taking part in the Trans March?

Good question, isn’t it? Now, I can see activists and those who claim to speak for the trans community taking part because they are visible anyway. (As an aside, there is at least one group claiming to speak for all trans people throughout the Greater Toronto Area [GTA], which includes the municipality where I reside. No, they don’t speak for me. I’m quite capable of looking after myself, thank you very much.) But, if a person is fully accepted as the gender in which they present, why would they risk being spotted by a co-worker or neighbour?

Can anyone offer any ideas, suggestions or reasons for this?

Enjoy your long weekend and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – request

As my followers and readers are aware, I’ve been writing a series under the general title “Bring him to justice”. This series is about the actions of one George Flowers, aka Mr Flowas, and the attempts by the Canadian government to extradite him from Jamaica to face multiple charges of aggravated sexual assault. These charges stem from the fact that for a period of several years, he failed to disclose his HIV positive status to his various partners some of whom have tested positive.

The last concrete information I have is that his final appeal against extradition was heard by the Jamaican Courts in January, 2016 and the judge has apparently reserved a decision on this matter. It is now June and my other sources have heard nothing further on the Court’s decision.

I know I have two readers who, in the past, have provided me with links to articles in The Gleaner. I ask these two people if they have any further information on this case and. If so, could they please send me a link to the information, or send me the information.

Personally I feel the longer he remains in jail in Jamaica, the better for if he is returned to Toronto, his victims will have to undergo the stress of having their carefully rebuilt lives torn apart by his attorneys.

Thanks,

Cat.

Unimaginable

DATE: June 13

TITLE: Unimaginable

As a Canadian I find yesterday’s carnage at Pulse in Orlando impossible to comprehend. As a transwoman, I find it appalling that so many of my brothers and sisters were targeted by what appears to be a deranged young man. Apparently during the rampage inside Pulse, an LGBT friendly club, the gunman took the time to call 9 1 1 and profess his allegiance to Daesh. As a result, the authorities are calling this both a hate crime and terrorism.

Reports I’ve read on news sites state that within the past two weeks he was able to legally purchase the AR-15 assault rifle he used during his attack. This despite having been investigated by the FBI on suspicion of having terrorist sympathies. Why he was able to legally purchase the weapon isn’t my question though. My question is: Why does anyone other than the military or law enforcement need an assault weapon of any kind?

Don’t give me that line about how you need it to protect your family and property because I’m not going to buy it. You could do that with a .22. Yes, I know the AR-15 comes in .223 calibre, but your basic .22 isn’t as deadly as the AR. Hunting? Unless you get into a firefight with your prey, or you plan to turn that deer into hamburger right there in the forest, an ordinary deer rifle will do. No, the AR-15 and its cousin the Kalashnikov are designed for one thing only – killing humans.

The NRA’s oft repeated mantra about a “good guy with a gun” also doesn’t hold water. The military and FBI, for one, constantly take training and refresher courses on what to do when there is gunfire in their vicinity. The average gun owner doesn’t do that. They go out to the range and fire off a clip or two at a paper target and feel they can handle anything. Guess what? They can’t. They can’t because that paper target isn’t shooting back at them. Without constant training and reinforcement, when the bullets start flying, they’re going to freeze and their body will be found with the weapon still holstered. Should they actually manage to draw the weapon and let go a couple of rounds, chances are they’d hit innocent bystanders.

America, and there is no delicate way to put this, when it comes to your gun culture, you’re fucked in the head. For example, not that long ago in Michigan, two men got caught up in a road-rage incident. They both pulled into a parking lot and rather than settle the dispute with words or fists, they both pulled out weapons and shot each other. A woman somewhere else shot up a Walmart parking lot trying to stop a shoplifter. America, isn’t it about time you realized your love of firearms has turned your country back into the Wild West of the 1870’s. To put that in some historical perspective, the Gunfight at the OK Corral took place in 1881 and Wyatt Earp, who was in that gunfight, died in 1927 – less than 100 years ago.
So tell me America, isn’t it time to halt the sale of weapons intended solely for hunting other humans? Other than to satisfy some egotistical need, do you really need an assault weapon? When you purchase a weapon, training should consist of more than how to load the damn thing. That training should include identifying your target before you let loose.

How many times have we read or heard of some homeowner being awakened by a noise in the middle of the night, grabbing his weapon and then firing at an unidentified shadow figure only to discover he’s just killed his son or daughter?

Safe storage should also be a mandatory part of that training. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve read about a toddler finding daddy’s gun and killing or injuring that toddler’s playmate or sibling. Which brings up another question: What’s the trigger tension like when a four-year-old can fire the weapon? Second question: What the hell is daddy doing leaving his handgun lying around with the safety off and one up the spout?

America, let’s be honest, you don’t really need an assault rifle, but since you’ve got one, let me as this: what’s next on your wishlist – a Barrett .50?

Cat.

Some random thoughts

Riding the bus today, my mind wandered and touched on various items.

1 – The Region of Durham is doing some serious road work at a major intersection. This of course is causing massive traffic backups and pretty much throws bus schedules out the window. The irony in that is the construction is they are installing “bus only” lanes to speed up public transit.

2 – If you were to ask Canadians the origin of Canadian English, no doubt most, if not all, would say “England”. According to a documentary I watched, they would be indirectly correct. The documentary stated that the major influence on “Canadian English” actually came from the United States, which was settled in large part by the British. Pronunciation, definitions and some nuances are all courtesy of our friends south of the 49th parallel. Spelling is a different matter. In the 1870’s, Sir John A. Macdonald, the Prime Minister at the time was the head of the government that passed a bill that made the use of “u” in words such as colour the only official spelling. So when I use that spelling for neighbour and honour for example, I’m only following Canadian law.

3 – Watching some programmes on Germany before and during WWII. Am I the only one who sees irony in the fact that the Nazis ideal was a tall, blond, blue-eyed physical specimen while neither Hitler nor his inner circle were anywhere near that ideal?

4- This isn’t exactly a random thought, but was a private Facebook message regarding a string I was involved with, and thought about during my bus ride. I think it bears repeating here:

I am horrified by some of the postings I read from my American friends regarding their troubles with housing, medical care and employment. Granted I lost a job when I came out, but someone through church told me that if I could get my Pickering taxi licence, he’d hire me. I did and he did and I drove for seven years until I was injured. Perhaps it’s the Canadian psyche, but except for the young drunk men on Friday and Saturday nights in the cab, I’ve never had a problem. As an example of what appears to be the general view (and yes I know generalities can turn and bite me in the butt), during the last provincial election campaign, not one candidate; not one reporter from any media, nor any member of the public brought up the fact that Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, is lesbian. Everyone stuck to the issues. I think that had this been an American election campaign, her sexuality would have overshadowed the actual issues. By the way, she won and now heads a majority government. Based on my experiences over the past twenty years, I sometimes think that my brothers and sisters in the United States would consider Canada, specifically Ontario, a trans Utopia.

Not quite, but we’re working on it.

Since it’s Friday, enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, we need love too.

Cat.