Representatives from 20 LGBT, HIV/AIDS, and other nonprofits
joined members of the Castro Lions Club for its annual dinner and grant
distribution Thursday, July 17 at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church. Castro
Lions distributed $126,000 to the nonprofits, including $45,000 for the Lions
Eye Foundation; $15,000 for the National AIDS Memorial Grove; $4,000 to the
AIDS and Breast Cancer Emergency Funds; and $45,000 as part of a matching grant
to the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. Several other organizations also
received checks, such as Openhouse, Tenderloin Tessie, and La Casa De Las
Madres ($500 each), Positive Resource Center ($2,500), and the Pacific Center in
Berkeley ($1,000). Lions spokesman Gary Nathan said the club was happy to be
able to help so many organizations.
Laurel and I are planning to visit three of the Seven New Wonders of the World. We'll also be adding a few other stops to our trip, in order to visit some sacred sights or to have a little rest and relaxation.
October 13-16 We'll travel through Peru and visit Machu Picchu.
October 17th-19th We'll be on Easter Island in Chile. This site was a runner-up for the new 7 wonders list.
October 20-22 We'll be in Rio de Janeiro, where we will visit the Christ Redeemer Statue (pictured top right)
October 23-25 We'll be in Cancun, Mexico, where we will visit the nearby Chichen, Itza (pictured top left).
During our trip I'll be blogging and posting videos for my Travel Faithfully series. I hope our trip inspires you to see the world, to set big goals and to enjoy all the beauty of our great Earth.
Watch this space in mid October to learn more about our trip.
year ago, almost to the day, San Franciscans awaited with anxious
anticipation the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions on the Defense of
Marriage Act and Proposition 8,
California's same-sex marriage ban. On the eve of Pride, as those high
court pronouncements echoed throughout every conceivable media, we as a
community never seemed more liberated or united. We shared together in
that euphoric moment, feeling, in a profound
way, that we were both witnesses to and participants in the making of
through the masses at the Castro Street celebration of those high court
decisions, I encountered local photographer Bill Wilson who shared a
just photographed a mother and her infant child and it dawned on me,
that child will never know a time when there was not marriage equality."
A hopeful realization, I thought, yet I speak to so many 20- and
30-year-olds today, whose only comprehension of the
isolation and shame of the closet and loss of friends and loved ones to
the epidemic is limited to oral history passed down or academic study.
Seen in that context, it's hard to help but feel that the human rights
victories and liberties we celebrate today
with revelry at Pride were fought, not only by today's activists, but
by the heroes of previous generations, upon whose shoulders we stand.
the least among those heroes, laboring tirelessly to "increase
equality, eradicate discrimination, and protect human rights for all
people," are the commissioners,
staff, and citizen leaders who, for almost four decades have served on
the SF Human Rights Commission's LGBT Advisory Committee.
chairs include such luminary LGBT activists as Martha Knutzen, and
transgender icons Theresa Sparks, the current HRC executive director,
and Health Commissioner
microcosm of our community, today's LGBT Advisory Committee comprises
of thought leaders from every sector. Lending minds and voices to the
conversation are representatives
from the nonprofits Trikone, Shanti Project, Larkin Street Youth
Services, Out4Immigration, OneJustice, API Wellness Center, Family
Violence Law Center, Transgender Law Center, Our Family Coalition, and
Forward.US. Those nonprofit leaders stand shoulder-to-shoulder
with members of the tech community, including a leader from Google's
Gaygler LGBT Employee Resource Group. Add to the mix an advocate from
the city's deaf community, members from the religious community,
including an LGBT Mormon activist and a Lutheran pastor advocating for the homeless and transgender youth; an African American
veteran activist who just finished his tenure on the city's LGBT Aging
Policy Task Force; an HIV/Infectious disease specialist; leaders in
immigration; the transgender community; a congressional
staff person and an assistant district attorney.
integral and vitally important component of the Human Rights
Commission, the LGBT Advisory Committee provides community involvement
and opportunity for in-depth study
and exploration of issues, offers assistance and advice to the
commission regarding discrimination against the LGBT communities,
advocates for the civil rights of persons with AIDS/HIV, and educates
our LGBT partners in advocacy about a diverse range of issues
that impact our community.
by many the unsung heroes of public policy making, the SF Human Rights
Commission's LGBT Advisory Committee, workgroups and policy and social
staff, over the years, have researched, deliberated, presented reports,
and incubated policy measures that led to the drafting of such
legislation as domestic partners benefits, the formation of the LGBT
Aging Policy Task Force and, most recently, SF law enforcement
agencies' decision to discontinue the use of condoms when prosecuting
cases involving sex workers.
LGBT Advisory Committee has never been shy to take on bold and
controversial issues. Over the past decade the committee was responsible
for the formation of a task
force and held a public hearing on intersex issues, including the human
rights aspects of surgeries performed on intersex infants in order to
assign gender when the surgeries are not medically necessary. Both the
advisory committee and commission urged the
Board of Education to pass a resolution to establish a high school
course on LGBT history, politics, and culture and commit to funding LGBT
support services. It held panel discussions and community meetings to
study bisexual invisibility and issued a report
entitled, "Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations."
Together with the commission it held a public forum on unrecognized
families and issued a report "Beyond Marriage: Unrecognized Family
Relationships." It initiated a resolution unanimously passed
by the commission urging lawmakers and the governor to enact state
Senate Bill 1172, making it illegal for state-licensed psychologists to
practice "reparative therapy" on minors.
issues being addressed by the advisory committee's work groups include
comprehensive immigration reform for impacted LGBTQ individuals and
families; deaf and
people with disability advocacy for LGBTQ individuals; keeping
nonprofits serving the LGBT community in San Francisco; advocacy related
to trans empowerment for immigrant trans women and trans women of
color; research, advocacy and a policy review of the city's
ID program and the program's impact on transgender residents with
respect to name and gender change; and advocacy related to bridging the
gap between the tech and LGBTQ communities.
the issues emerging from the commission's policy and social justice
unit are the call for comprehensive transgender health care reform in
the Healthy San Francisco
program; the creation of a long needed LGBTQ youth citywide sensitivity
training and cultural competency program required by an ordinance, on
which we partnered with the Youth Commission; reports on human
trafficking, anti-bullying initiatives and equity and
inclusion of communities of color in the LGBT community. That unit is
also working diligently to support efforts to develop policies and
guidelines that would facilitate gender neutral bathrooms and public
accommodations for transgender individuals.
means different things to different people. For the SF Human Rights
Commission's LGBT Advisory Committee, it is the occasion to recommit
ourselves to laboring for
and securing the rights and freedoms our community deserves. In sharing
this brief overview of our work we invite you to join us in honoring
those heroes who came before us by helping to write the next chapter of
our exciting movement.
Michael G. Pappas is chair of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and chair of the commission's LGBT Advisory Committee.
With A Day Like Yours Couldn't You Use a Little Grace: Daily Grace for Diverse People Living in a Complicated World
This book, by our Pastor Megan Rohrer, is for everyone who has been lied to and told that God couldn’t
love them. In addition to reminding you that nothing, nothing, nothing can ever
separate you God’s love, Pastor Megan Rohrer will also help you learn to accept
this gift of grace and love yourself just as you are.
Whether you skim, only pull it out when you have a rough day or a bad
breakup, or make readings part of your daily routine for a year, With a Day Like Yours, Couldn’t You Use Some
Grace speaks to saints, sinners and everyone in between.
Pre-order the May-August Edition
Bible Study that Doesn't Suck: An Illustrated Retelling of The Gospel According to Mark
Bible Study, by our Pastor Megan Rohrer, will be available in
December. You can help us get this book printed by pre-ordering your
copy now at a reduced rate.
The t-word has been tossed around a lot lately, especially by
celebrities in the media. But is the word really OK to say to a
“I was called it once, and it was done lightly, but it still shocked
me really hard,” said Brendon Lies, a 23-year-old Florida Atlantic
University student who’s transitioning from female to male.
Everyone has had different experiences with the word.
“A friend of mine used to call me a tranny in Alabama, a good friend
of mine,” said Reilly Clemens, a 27-year-old transgender University of
Florida graduate student. “I asked him why he did that one day. He said
he was trying to toughen me up because people would call me it all the
Some people have been fortunate.
“I’ve only ever heard it once on a television show where people are
transgender, and it was never mentioned again,” said Christine
Preimesberger, a 19-year-old University of Southern California student
who identifies as agender. “I’d be very insulted if someone called me
The word Tranny, according to M to F trans activist Kate Bornstein,
originated as a way for M to F transgender people and drag queens to be
united under a common name. It came to include all in the trans
Cisgender (non-transgender) people quickly began to use it to group and target trans people.
“By being an ftm called this word, especially by cis people, its
context generally echoes less so with a lack of understanding, but more
with an attitude that we’re all grouped together as something less than
human,” Lies said. “It’s become a key word used to look down on us, and
that’s usually what I feel from it when it’s used towards me.”
RuPaul and other drag queens have recently created controversy
because of their decision to use the word publicly despite protests.
“He [RuPaul] claims he’s coming from a place of love,” said Nicholas
Cavallaro, 21-year-old drag queen and student at the University of
Florida. “There’s a difference between intent and impact. I think Ru
should take a step back and listen to what trans people are saying who
have lived their everyday lives transitioned. Ru has been doing this
every day of his life, but he goes home and takes that make-up off.”
For most transgender people, hearing the word can still be a painful experience as it is most often associated with violence.
“I’ve never been called tranny in a positive way, and I think what’s
interesting is that it seems like people who identify as transgender,
meaning that they are transitioning in their hormones or their body,
that word is often used in a derogatory way and offers violence,” said
Megan Rohrer, a 33-year-old transgender pastor.
But all agree that using the word in public should be avoided.
“Because that word is used to perpetuate violence, in public it might
not be OK for anyone to use it,” said Rohrer. “When I hear it, I worry
something violent will happen.”
If among close friends, people should first ask consent before using the word.
“It’s very important that the person they’re using it with be OK with
it,” Clemens said. “If they’re going to call a friend of theirs a
tranny or use the words in comments, as well, they need to be very aware
of who they’re using it with because some people take an issue with
Rohrer agrees, saying that just because someone uses the word, doesn’t mean they’re in the wrong.
“I think there are cases when tone of voice outweighs anything else,
and so if someone is, for example, the cisgender person married to
someone who’s trans that word might come out differently in loving
conversation rather than just on the streets,” Rohrer said.
Famous transgender people like Laverne Cox, star of the Netflix
series “Orange is the New Black” have recently started an empowerment
movement to “reclaim” the word, so it can be difficult to tell who finds
the word acceptable and who doesn’t. Asking can help clarify.
“Most people who are asking the right questions aren’t trying to be
hurtful,” Clemens said. “I’m comfortable with being called that, but
most people would be more comfortable with other terms like transgender
or trans woman.”
It’s important to remember that some people do find it acceptable, and even empowering.
“I would see it as an empowering word,” Clemens said. “It
incorporates our history, and people understand it to be a negatively
connoted word. It sets us apart. It describes a way of being. I don’t
think that’s inherently bad.”
But there’s also a flipside.
“If you’re with a close group of friends and you’ve embraced the word
yourself, I’m not going to stop you from using it,” Lies said. “It’s
more of a problem to me if you ignorantly call people that and you don’t
know how they feel.”
Consent and context are the keys to using the word. Don’t be afraid to ask if you feel comfortable enough around that person.
In the past 12 years I’ve preached at countless Lutheran,
Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Congregational and Swedenborgian
congregations nearly every Sunday. But, I could count on two hands the
number of congregations who had worshipers younger than me.
During this same period, I baptized six adults and two children. Only
the children were baptized in congregations. The adults, who were
almost all younger than I was, asked me to baptize them in bars,
restaurants and gardens. Each of these baptisms was accompanied by a
story about how the individuals had become estranged from congregational
With each baptism, I thought about all the people who have declared
that the Lutheran church is dying and aging. Is it true, or are we
pushing people away and letting people believe the lie that they are
unable to be loved by God. And if people gain church membership through
their baptism, then why are so few members choosing to attend worship?
I'm writing to let you know that I'll be having a private outpatient surgery around 8:30am on April 29th. I welcome your prayers and good intentions if that is a part of your tradition.
Some transgender educators talk about their body, surgeries and hormones in hopes that it will help people get their curiosities out, and the askees will refrain from asking inappropriate
questions to their families and friends.
However, I've found over the years that when I've been candid about my body and identity as a trans person, that it has led to people oversexualizing me, bringing up my genitals in inappropriate public spaces and touching them without permission. In fact google statistics reports that this month "megan rohrer nude" was the number one search topic that brought people to this very blog.
I ask you to respect my privacy and refrain from sharing with others the
details of my surgery unless you have my permission to do so.
other people may choose to share more information for the purpose of
prayers, I believe God knows me inside and out and understands your
prayers and good intentions for me - even if you don't know if my
surgery is on my toes or my elbows. My goal as a pastor is to help people to ponder the great mystery of God and our profound reconciliation to God, not to ponder the curves of my body.
For this purpose, I ask you to respect my privacy and avoid asking about or pondering about my upcoming surgery. If you would like to help with my post-surgery care (providing food or other care) you mayget in touch with my wife Laurel about what kinds of support I'll need over the two weeks I'll be off work and recovering.
Here are a few do's and don'ts for those interested in supporting me before and after my surgery:
DO keep me in your prayers, send good intentions and/or cards to me at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3201 Ulloa St, San Francisco, CA 94116
DO NOT tell me or ask me to confirm that you've guessed my surgery correctly. There is no comfortable way to have this conversation without it feeling like you've spent a lot of time thinking about my body.
DO help me take it easy after my surgery. Particularly, I'll need help so that I don't carry heavy things for awhile.
DO NOT ask me about what surgeries and/or hormones I have or will have as a part of my transgender identity. This kind of medical information is private and not something I discuss openly.