Intersectionality & Intersex

This blog goes out to Dr. Erin Mason in Georgia. When I was seeking advice on what topic I should present on next, Erin said, “Intersectionality.” A fairly new term to me in 2017. So, what is intersectionality? Let’s find out and as always…thanks for asking!

According to Merriam Webster: Intersectionality—the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect

Update: This word was added in April 2017.

That’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it down. While the concept has been around since the late 1980’s but intersectionality is a word that’s new to many of us. It’s used to refer to the way that the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) can combine, overlap, and yes, intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.

The term was coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in a 1989 essay that asserts that “antidiscrimination law, feminist theory, and antiracist politics all fail to address the experiences of black women because of how they each focus on only a single factor.” Crenshaw writes that “[b]ecause the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated.”

Though originally applied only to the ways that sexism and racism combine and overlap, intersectionality has come to include other forms of discrimination as well, such as those based on class, sexuality, and ability.

So, there ya have it from the technical side of things. As a white able-bodied, priviledged lesbian, that would be my intersectionality. I will continue to educate myself more on supporting all populations including those with intersectionality and those identifying as intersex. Intersex flag is below in yellow with a purple circle in the middle.

Let’s talk about a secondletter “I” for today: Intersex. Have you heard of this term? “Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.

Did you know that more people are born intersex than have cleft pallets? Truth. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) is devoted to systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female. This is why I am not a fan of gender reveal parties! Consider gifts of something other than pink or blue for babies, or kids in general. You don’t know what the intimate details of a family might be, and the small act of using gender neutral colors like green, yellow, or purple might just help a new parent feel better about their new baby. Plus green and yellow are Packer’s colors!

If you’d like to learn more on the term intersex, here’s an excellent, award-winning video. One hour in length. Thanks for reading & feel free to share!

Click on the IS IT A BOY OR A GIRL logo above? IT IS A ONE HOUR AWARD WINNING VIDEO

HRC, yeah you know me!

Welcome to the letter “H” in my Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ) blog. My first thought was to give you information on hetero vs. homo. Then I read an interesting article I had to share along with giving a shout out to the Human Rights Campaign — one of my favorite organizations — and to my friend Dr. Vinnie Pompei who works tirelessly for our collective rights.

Usually I end my posts with the action you can personally take to make a difference. Today, I have a save the date for you right up front! Mark October 10, 2019 on your calendar for HRC’s exclusive broadcating partnership with CNN. They’ll host a town hall meeting with democratic presidential candidates to discuss LGBTQ issues. My DVR is already set to record!

From the article: “This historic town hall event, entitled Power of Our Pride, will take place on Thursday, October 10 at The Novo in Los Angeles, California. The event is set to take place on the eve of the 31st annual National Coming Out Day, a celebration of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally. The first National Coming Out Day was held on October 11, 1988 on the first anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights as a way of celebrating the power of coming out and promoting a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly. (HRC.org)” You can read the full story here.

Oh, and my friend, Dr. Vinnie Pompei? He is a rockstar working for HRC. He and I met in San Diego at a CESCAL’s (The Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership) Supporting Students- Saving Lives conference. I love the networking opportunities my friendship with Vinnie has given to me. My goal is to pay it forward and give you resources to save lives. One of the best ways to grow your knowledge is to attend HRC’s Time to Thrive conference. I was fortunate to speak at the conference previously, and I’d love to see you in Washington D.C. this February.

One of my early LGBTQ consultations was with a private Catholic high school. I was asked to help their school counseling department create a safe and welcoming environment. We discussed using rainbows as a universal sign designating the school counseling office as a safe zone for those identifying as LGBTQ. After thinking about what the Catholic Diocese would think about rainbows, that idea was squashed. We had to go back to the drawing board. I mentioned the Human Rights Campaign equality sticker. Only $3 at the time of this article. Rather than the blue and yellow colors in the HRC equal sign sticker, they decided to use their school colors with their school mascot behind the equal sign. Use your imagination, but please know you might be saving a life through your efforts!

HRC is a wonderful organization. Directly from their website (notice I didn’t say straight from their website? tee hee): “The Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 3 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.http://www.hrc.org

Your actions to becoming an even better ally this week:

(1) Save the Date, October 10, 2019, to watch CNN’s coverage of HRC’s democratic presidential LGBTQ debate.

(2) Display a rainbow or a $3 HRC blue & yellow sticker in your workspace.

Thanks for being an ALLY!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)

Fun with Flags

Fantastic! Finally, Fun with Flags! Fabulous! Ok, enough of the alliteration, let’s get to the facts (ha). With our journey into LGBT frequently asked questions, today we will discover the + that often gets put at the end of LGBTQ+ (see what I did there?)

A shout out to Target for their celebration of PRIDE month (June), especially the first week of June. Last year, we were able to pick up many small flags that I posted in my office. Rainbow (Gay), pink/blue/white (transgender), and a bisexual flag (remember that from our letter “B” post?)

ICYMI, this is a nice summary of Gilbert Baker’s original flag from 1978 (Thanks, Pinterest!)

Today, the hot pink and the turquoise have been dropped and here is what we see most often today:

Now, let’s jump into the plus (+) of other flags an who they represent.

This graphic from Live Loud Graphics gives more insight on the different terminology in the LGBT+ community and the different flags that help give a voice to our identities. There may be groups you’ve never heard of — that’s fantastic! There may be groups that give voice to an identity you’ve experienced and didn’t realize there were others like you — that’s exciting! The purpose isn’t to divide an already marginalized group; it really is to highlight all of the different facets that make up our community and to celebrate each one.

This week, I encourage you to take the time to read through the resource above from Live Loud Graphics and educate one other person on something you learn. As their motto says, “Education is the cure for homophobia.” Thanks for helping us spread education and love!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)

The Letter “E”…Equality vs. Equity

Welcome back to my LGBT FAQ blog. This week, we look at the difference between the terms equality and equity. By definition, equality is ensuring individuals or groups of individuals are not treated differently or less favorably, on the basis of their specific protected characteristic, including areas of race, gender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation and age (check out that Enumeration!). While equity means the quality of being fair or impartial (dictionary.com). These terms can be confusing, so you’ll often see different analogies to help make the difference a bit easier to understand. Which one is your favorite?

Thank you to our friends at Public Policy & Governance Review in Toronto, Canada for this image!

My favorite is the shoe analogy (and they’re rainbow!). Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.
– Naheed Dosani

I would even go a bit further to add inclusion meaning that everyone has a shoe that fits, is comfortable and matches their sense of style. The first time I heard the shoe analogy to represent Equality vs. Equity was at a training called “Courageous Conversations.” This training was early in my school counseling career and reminded me of growing up with an uncle who had polio. His physical limitations were perhaps equal to those needing the specified parking space, but his brilliant mind gave him equity in his place of work.

Perhaps you have seen the analogy of the people watching a ball game and there are three boxes. Each individual is of a different height trying to see over the fence. Equality is that each person has a box upon which to stand. Equity is that the tallest person can see over the fence without a box, the middle person has one box and and can now see over the fence and the third person is standing on two boxes in order to see over the fence. What if we removed the fence all together? Let’s consider taking away barriers in order to promote equity.

Using the word “versus” in between Equality and Equity shouldn’t be seen as a competition. Depending upon where you are in your cultural awareness, or how your life experiences have shaped the lens through which you view the world, I might suggest that we all strive for Success for ALL! When you’re just starting your journey, equality is a good place to start. However if you look at the illustration below, you’ll see that while many might benefit from one solution, through an equitable solution(shoveling the ramp first), everyone will benefit using the ramp.

Source: Peytral Publications

Ahhh, good old Wisconsin winters…but this illustrates the difference between equity and equality. Equity is good for ALL. Think about those registration forms I refer to in earlier blog posts. By asking for adult 1 or caregiver 1 rather than “mom” and “dad“, you are now including grandparents, foster parents, or another relative caring for that student. Oh, and not everyone is a husband or a wife or a mom or a dad!

Cheryl Wheeler is a singer songwriter and just happens to sing one of our favorites, “Ghandi & Buddha.” In this version, she introduces the song sharing how she was happy to finally be able to marry her wife. She apologizes — tongue in cheek — for how our gay marriages have ruined all of the heterosexual marriages. In other words, by giving everyone the right to marry, whose marriage has that hurt? AND now we have access to the 1,100 protections and laws that heterosexual couples have enjoyed throughout time, while not taking a single protection away from hetero couple’s marriages. Win-win when love wins!

So, in terms of equality, we can equally get married as all can. On the other hand, equity is felt in some areas more than others. We chose to live in Madison, Wisconsin, which for the most part is a very welcoming city. It’s nice when I call to make an appointment for my wife that I only get asked a couple of questions. Not sure if we were a male and a female if I would face the same questions, however I don’t get push-back or a negative reaction that can occur in some less-equitable areas. However when we go out to dinner as a couple, we still get asked if we want separate checks, even if we’ve been holding hands across the table throughout our meal.

Thanks for reading this article. I hoped you enjoyed the song by Cheryl Wheeler. Your call to action is to do something GREAT to make things more equitable in your work space! Stand up for those without a voice. Take the time to educate someone needing that lesson on how to treat people! Think about this… intelligence is distributed equally, but opportunity is not!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)

The Letter “D”…Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

How interesting! When I typed “DEI” into a search engine, what do you think was the first thing that popped up? If you said, DEI, a Greek national electric company, I say, “OPA!” to you. Next, I found Dale Ehrnhardt, Inc. Go cars! Finally, I found what I was hoping for: Diversity Equity & Inclusion. This term is being used in workplaces to raise awareness of individual needs as well as to highlight the benefits of greater diversity in our workplaces. It’s pretty common to hire people who look and think like us — how about where you live/work? I have to say that is my truth. As a lesbian, I often feel like I am THE diversity in the room, so I have used that as an opportunity to educate those around me with lots & LOTS of rainbows!

What is the meaning of diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Thanks for asking! And thanks to our friends at SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) for their definition. Inclusion, while closely related, is a separate concept from diversity. SHRM defines inclusion as “the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success. Mar 6, 2014.” If you want to learn more about building a business case for diversity and inclusion, please go to SHRM’s website for a great resource.

As a school counselor, diversity training was always a part of back-to-school pre-service work. We might have used the terms “Celebrate Diversity” or made bulletin boards to reflect our student body. I bring up the school examples because I am now working at a university and I want to bring my message to the business world.

One of the first steps in raising DEI in your organization is to raise awareness through a company- or school-wide definition of what DEI means to you. A great example to get you started on this path comes from the University of Michigan.

Erica McCool, this one goes out to you!

Defining diversity, equity and inclusion

At the University of Michigan, our dedication to academic excellence for the public good is inseparable from our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. It is central to our mission as an educational institution to ensure that each member of our community has full opportunity to thrive in our environment, for we believe that diversity is key to individual flourishing, educational excellence and the advancement of knowledge.

Diversity: We commit to increasing diversity, which is expressed in myriad forms, including race and ethnicity, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, culture, national origin, religious commitments, age, (dis)ability status and political perspective.

Equity: We commit to working actively to challenge and respond to bias, harassment, and discrimination. We are committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight, or veteran status.

Inclusion: We commit to pursuing deliberate efforts to ensure that our campus is a place where differences are welcomed, different perspectives are respectfully heard and where every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion. We know that by building a critical mass of diverse groups on campus and creating a vibrant climate of inclusiveness, we can more effectively leverage the resources of diversity to advance our collective capabilities.

Chief Diversity Officer Robert Sellers often has emphasized the importance of considering all three topics – diversity, equity and inclusion – which he likened to various aspects of attending a dance:

“Diversity is where everyone is invited to the party.

“Equity means that everyone gets to contribute to the playlist.

“And inclusion means that everyone has the opportunity to dance.”

https://diversity.umich.edu/about/defining-dei/ (2019)

Your call to action on Diversity Equity and Inclusion is to make sure your registration forms, artwork on the walls, and actions are in alignment with a positive atmostphere for all. Ask your human resources person/people if they have the DEI certification! And while it would be amazing for you all to adopt a DEI definition and policy, you know you can always start with a rainbow on your lanyard or desk! Let’s all dance together!

~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)

Cisgender

Welcome to the letter “C” in Lisa’s LGBT FAQ A-Z resources blog. Enough letters for you? The word Cisgender was a new term to me, maybe it is a new term for you as well. Let’s explore together!

Cis(gender): Adjective that means “identifies as their sex assigned at birth” derived from the Latin word meaning “on the same side.” (Gale Stone, that’s for you!) A cisgender/cis person is not transgender. “Cisgender” does not indicate biology, gender expression, or sexuality/sexual orientation. In discussions regarding trans issues, one would differentiate between women who are trans and women who aren’t by saying trans women and cis women. Cis is not a “fake” word and is not a slur. Note that cisgender does not have an “ed” at the end. http://www.transstudent.org/definitions/

So, I, Lisa Koenecke identify as cisgender. That is my gender identity. I also identify as a lesbian, that is my sexual orientation because I am attracted to women. Confused? It’s ok if you are, I appreciate your willingness to learn with me. The use of the term cisgender took off around 2010– See, you haven’t missed a lot!

In fact, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary this word, cisgender was added in April 2017.

As the term transgender has become increasingly prominent in the lexicon, a contrasting term has also settled into the language. Cisgender (often shortened to cis) describes someone whose internal sense of gender corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. According to a 2016 New York Times article, it’s estimated that approximately .6 % of people are transgender, so it follows that most people can be described as cisgender. If the pronouncement your mom heard at your birth—It’s a girl! or It’s a boy!—still feels like it was accurate, then you’re cisgender.

Cisgender/Cis is the opposite of transgender. Dang, look at your brain growing! Impressive!

Thanks for taking time to learn about the term Cisgender. Here’s your call to action (CTA): When you are invited to a baby shower, or you have a baby present to give, please think about using neutral colors like green and yellow (Go Packers) rather than pink and blue. Gender reveal parties are all the rage, however, they might box the new human into a binary box. (You’ll learn more about “binary” when we get to the letter G. Stay tuned!) I have pictures of me in dresses and wearing pink…back in the early 1970’s that’s what was done. So, why did I like playing with my GI Joe and my Allis Chalmers tractor? Stay tuned to find out more. #spreadpride

~Lisa

Bisexual & Bystander

Thank you #HRC

Lisa A. Koenecke

In this fifth edition of LGBT FAQ, we are on the letter “B.” Here’s another flag to represent those who identify at Bisexual (You guessed it — the B in LGBT!) Here is a link to the 6 facts about the Bisexual Flag (I didn’t know all of these either. Fascinating!). Sometimes in my travels and presentations, the comment I hear or question I get asked is, “why can’t ‘they‘ choose a side?” I do not have an answer to that question other than to say, “Why are you attracted to whomever you’re attracted to?” It’s not a choice.

As a middle school counselor, this was the number one term used (usually by females) to describe thier identity if they had a very close female friend but didn’t want to be called a lesbian. Perhaps in a young adolescent mind it left the door open to other…

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