Submissions wanted from LGBT and HIV communities

I’m a transwoman and my co-writer, a positive woman, are working on a project detailing how society treats members of the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities at the various stages of our journeys. A few years ago, I spoke with a psychologist at CAMH in Toronto who thought such a book would be a great benefit to them in their work.

We have our own experiences to draw on, but would like to hear other people’s experiences. No names will be used in this and any submissions will be checked to remove any clues that might give away your location. For example, if a submission from Toronto refers to “streetcars”, that would be replaced with the term “public transit” and any route names or number removed. Additionally, specific cities will be removed and replaced with either the name of your province or state, or a more generic term such as “midwest” will be substituted. We will do everything we can to protect your identity.

We both have friends in the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities, so can call upon them for information, but that would be quite localized in scope. We need to hear from others, not just in Canada, but from anywhere. We especially would like to hear from transmen, for their experiences would no doubt be much different from my own. If you have generally found acceptance, great! Please tell us for that may give those just starting their new lives hope that things will get better. If you’ve experienced discrimination, or worse, please share that as well. Others need to know what pitfalls and danger may await them. Either way, we would like to share your story.

If you are willing to share your journey, you can send it to us at the following email address: 1outcastsofsociety@gmail.com Please remember the “1″ at the start of the address as the address without the numeral is taken.

Thank you,
Cat.

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Is that your high point?

I first wrote of this years ago, when I was using Blogspot, but it continues to irritate me, so here goes again.

Ontario is one of those jurisdictions that allow personalized license plates. Maximum of eight characters – letters and numbers only. Some show a lot of creativity, such as the Volvo I saw flying past me on the highway one day, well in excess of the posted limit (he must have been, because I was) with the personalized plate “NONE”.

Then there are the ones specific to the vehicle displaying them, like the white Volkswagen Rabbit with the plate “IM LATE”. Good, but if the next vehicle happens to be a minivan, the context is lost. Or “RED BMW”. As long as that person keeps buying red BMWs, fine.

But the ones that really irk me are those that celebrate a past event in the owner’s life. That is when I ask the question posed in the title. For example, I saw a vehicle one day with “SSGT RCR”, which to any former member of the Canadian armed forces can only mean the person was a Staff Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Regiment. For my non-military readers, the RCRs are a much decorated infantry regiment. As I said, with that plate, I have to ask whether the high point, the highest accomplishment of the owner, was being a non-commissioned officer in the army. What about all the years since? Has nothing else of import happened in your life since you left the service? I’m not denigrating anyone’s service to their country, I served myself, first in the Royal Canadian Engineers, then in the militia with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada. But, I’m not going to get a personalized plate that reads “CPL QOR” to celebrate that fact.

No, I have something else in mind were I to get a personal plate. When I drove a cab, one customer, also a friend, told me she had my phone number listed on her cell phone as “leggy bitch” (I wore a lot of miniskirts in the cab – helped greatly with tips), so in order to avoid the censors in the Ministry of Transportation, I’d ask for “LG BEECH”. At the time, my cell phone number spelled out “legs”, so that plate would have seemed appropriate. At the moment, I have what the ministry calls “tourism plates” because they have Ontario’s official flower, the trillium, on them.

If you want personalized plates, go for it! But I would ask you to consider not commemorating something from thirty years ago.

Cat.

I think it’s cursed – update

Situation resolved.

To understand how this whole thing came about, we need to return to early 2005, when I was still driving a cab. The owner of the cab wasn’t great with maintenance, both major and minor, and I bugged him for about three days to replace a headlight that was out. Well, he didn’t and one night in Toronto I was ticketed for that non-working light. Since he hadn’t changed the lamp when asked, he said he’d pay the ticket for me. That turned out to be something else he didn’t do.

I didn’t learn of this until several months later when I was stopped while driving a friend’s car. The officer ask me if I knew my licence was suspended and of course I didn’t as I had never received any notification of that fact. He could have given me a ticket for driving with a suspended licence, but instead just confiscated the permit. With the confiscation, there went my only acceptable form of photo ID.

The Ontario health card contains a photo but is not acceptable as photo ID for privacy reasons. Years passed and I was never asked to produce photo ID, so I never gave a thought to my lack of acceptable photo identification.

Jump now to 2013. Thanksgiving in Canada is the second week of October. That was also the weekend in 2013 the Ontario government quietly slipped out legislation revising the requirements for changing gender markers on provincially issued documents. Since surgery was no longer required (I couldn’t have it for other health reasons) I jumped all over this and sent the form, required documents and the fee – always a fee when dealing with governments – to the Registrar-General for Ontario. Six weeks later I had my documents showing me as legally female. I took these documents to Service Ontario to revise my health card and while there decided to apply for the Ontario photo ID card. Two months later I had both a new health card an an Ontario photo ID.

This year, as I wrote in “I think it’s cursed”, I decided to change my name to reclaim my family name. Again, as I wrote, the Fraud Unit took interest in my application for a new ID card. This past weekend, while trying to go to sleep, my mind wandered over a possible reason why the Fraud Unit might be suspicious when I realized it had to be that it was only three years since I first applied for an ID card.

Monday morning I called my MPP’s office and explained what I thought might be the reason for the investigation. She relayed my information to her contact at the appropriate ministry. Later that day, she phoned me back to advise she had received an email from the ministry that read “based on this new information, we will be processing the application. Delivery should be in about six weeks.”

So because I forgot a simple action from three years ago, I worked myself into a migraine worrying about the fraud investigation.

Cat.

I think it’s cursed

Twenty years ago, when I left the family home to begin my transition, I changed not only my first name, but my surname as well to give my family some privacy.

Now, two decades later, things have changed. My ex-wife has gone back to her maiden name and through research one of my sons learned we’ve been in British North America since about 1850. Given these events, I decided it was time to reclaim my family name and heritage.

In accordance with my mother’s wishes, I also changed my first name to that which she had been going to call me had I been born female.

In Ontario, name changes are relatively simple. The forms are available online and are the “fill and print” variety. Filled it, printed it, then ran around getting the necessary signatures and a stamp from a Commissioner of Oaths (cheaper than a notary) as well as a money order for the required amount and sent the whole mess to the Registrar-General’s office. I knew it would take about six weeks to get the new birth certificate under normal circumstances. My circumstances turned out not to be normal.. A month later a large package was in my mail. The magic fingers had mis-typed my address at one point and they also wanted a criminal background check on the name I had chosen. They didn’t ask for that on the form, but they wanted it.

Phoned the police department and spoke with a lady who does the checks and explained my problem: “how am I supposed to get a background check on a person who doesn’t exist?” She told me how to do it, so off I went to my local station, filled out the form and paid the fee. Two weeks later I received the form back, properly stamped and sealed by the police department. Repackaged everything and sent it back to the R-G. Two weeks later, the R-G sent it back. This time the problem was that the teller hadn’t signed the money order and enough time had passed that the Commissioner’s stamp and signature was stale-dated. Off to the bank for a signature, then over to Ajax Town Hall to have the Commissioner sign a new form. Packaged it again and once more into the mail to the R-G.

Finally, after almost a year, I received my new birth certificate and official change of name certificate. I next took these documents to a Service Ontario location (one-stop shopping for all provincial documents) in the county seat and applied for a new health card and Photo ID. The health card took about two weeks, but the photo ID never arrived.

After a month I contacted the office of my local Member of Provincial Parliament (state congressman in the US) to find out who I should talk with. The assistant said she’d look into it for me. She called me yesterday afternoon to explain the delay, and I must admit what she told me has made me slightly paranoid. According to her information, issuance of the card has been delayed because the Fraud Unit of the Ontario Provincial Police is looking into it.

My first question is this: If the criminal background check came back clean for both my previous and current names, and the R-G’s office didn’t find anything, why is the Fraud Unit looking into it? To my knowledge, I’ve never defrauded anyone of anything. My eldest son has suggested that perhaps that I’ve changed names twice in twenty years is considered a red flag. I don’t know. I just hope they do eventually decide to talk with me about this and say more than “you’re under arrest for fraud.”. Otherwise, I’m going to start thinking my new name is cursed.

Cat.

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.

The answer is still “no”

I received the following email in my Gmail spam today:
GOOD NEWS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

GOD BLESS AMERICA <WW.@oregano.ocn.ne.jp>

17:18 (21 hours ago)

to

GOOD NEWS FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

I am Mrs. Michelle Obama, and I am writing to inform you about your Bank Check Draft brought back by the United Embassy from the government of Benin Republic in the white house Washington DC been mandated to be deliver to your home address once you reconfirm it with the one we have here with us to avoid wrong delivery

Sixty million united states dollars 60,000,000,00usd that was assigned to be delivered to your humble home address by my husband Honorable president Barrack Obama the president of this great country this week by a delivery agent Mr JAMES BOOMBERG

I will like you to reconfirm to me the following details
Your phone number…………..?
Your current home address……?
Your full name…………………?
Occupation……………….?
Next of kin…………….?
Your email address…………..?
Password………………?

The reason I ask you to reconfirm to me this following details is to avoid wrong delivery.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORIGIN OF YOUR FUND YOU CAN CALL OR TEXT MY HUSBAND THE PRESIDENT OF THIS GREAT NATION +1 (202) 792-0696

Yours Sincerely,
MRS MICHELLE HUSSEIN OBAMA
FIRST_LADY USA

Wow! The First Lady is sending me an email telling me she has my sixty mill US from Benin.

There are problems with this message. First, although it purports to be from the White House, the extension on the sender’s email is “.jp”, which last time I checked was Japan. Second, the addressee is blank. And finally, I’m Canadian, so why the hell would Michelle Obama be sending me anything?

Couple more things are wrong. President Obama’s first name is spelled “barrack”, which as I recall from my army days is similar in nature to a dormitory. And when she “signed” the letter, she would have used her middle name, not her husband’s.

Being the cynic I am, I guess by writing this blog and telling others I’m doing myself out of sixty million dollars US, which at current exchange rates would be about seventy mill Canadian. Ah well, easy come, easy go.

Enjoy your day, don’t take any wooden nickels and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

This time she’s not playing

I was away for a couple of days and upon my return found this in my gmail spam:
Mrs Vivian Douglas <.it>

04:26 (22 hours ago)

to

Attn,

I have to inform you again, that we are not playing over this, I know my
reason for the continuous sending of this notification to you, the fact is that
you can’t seem to trust any one again over this payment for what you have been
in cantered in many months ago, but I want you to trust me, I cannot scam you
for $49 it is for bank processing of your payment, the fees of $49 is clearly
written to you before, I did not invent the bill to defraud you of $49 it is an
official bank payment processing fee, and the good part of this, is that you
will never, ever be disturbed again over any kind of payment, this is final,
and the forms from there becomes effective once we submit your payment
application processing fee and pay the form fee of $49 I don’t want you to
loose this fund this time, because you may never get another such good
opportunity, the federal government is keen and very determined to pay your
overdue debts, this is not a fluke, I would not want
you to loose this fund out of ignorance, I will send you all the documents as
soon as bank payment processing fee is paid, you have to trust me, you will get
your fund, find a way to get $49 you will not loose it, instead it will bring
your financial breakthrough, find the money and send it to our bursary. The
reason why am sending you this because I want you to receive your USD1.8M
immediately we are trying to round up for this payment program.

The processing charges which was initially on the high price has been cut down
by the payout bank considering the poor economic situations that make it
difficult for the middle class citizens to meet up with the processing charges
of their entitlement. Upon the confirmation of your processing charges you will
get your $1.8M into
your account within 15hrs.

Here is the payment information through western union money transfer only,
finally my advice to you is not to abandon this transaction because of the
requirement of ($49) send the fee through western union or money gram.

Receivers name:Prince Egbo
Location address:Cotonou Benin Republic
Text Question: When
Answer: Today
Amount required: $49

Sender’s Name:
MTCN Number#:
Sender’s address:

Sender’s full banking details to avoid wrong transfer:
NAME AND ADDRESS OF BANK:
ACCOUNT NAME:
ACCOUNT NO:

As soon as the payment is received today, you will receive your $1.8M the same
today without any delay.

Yours Faithfully,
Mrs Vivian Douglas
Email:@gmail.com
+22961129879

I’ve deleted most of the mail addresses just to keep from running afoul or WordPress policy – again.

This is interesting in many ways. First, despite her assertion she’s been sending me these emails for a while, that is not so, otherwise I would have written of it before. Second, although she is talking about a “prince” in Benin, the email was sent from an Italian (.it) website and the response is to go to a gmail address.

A few more red flags: The addressee has been left blank, as has the “attn” line. If you don’t know my name, why are you contacting me with this offer? And learn to use the correct word. It should be “lose” not “loose”.

Then there’s the information they ask for. What the hell is an “MTCN” number?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you are foolish enough to actually send the forty-nine bucks and the information, you’ll have lost not only the $49, but probably everything else in your bank account. If you receive this email, or anything similar, delete it. Answering it will not result in you becoming a millionaire.

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

Cat.