Regarding the Phoenix NDO

So my last post was pretty much just a straight reportage (and see, I can do that!) of the facts and issues of the ordinance.

This one is me analyzing and editorializing on it.

Phoenix

Phoenix is a really big city. It covers 517,948 square miles. It has a population of 1,469,000 people.

That is not the Metropolitan area.  That is just Phoenix itself. As a city, it is larger than the State of Maryland.Other states it is larger than are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.  In fact, it is larger than the last three *combined*.

It is the sixth most populous city in the nation and the most populous Capital City in the nation.  Of the top ten cities in the nation, only three lack Gender identity and expression in their non-discrimination ordinances: Houston, San Antonio,and Phoenix.

Texas and Arizona.

Arizona only has two cities that have done this so far.  Tucson, the second largest city in the State, and Tempe.  Both are the homes to two of the three major Universities here (Arizona State in Tempe, and University of Arizona in Tucson).

Arizona and Florida share a particular connection: we are “sunshine states” — where seniors retire to or the good weather and warmth and lots of sun.  We have a huge yearly influx of “snowbirds” who come here mostly from places west of the Mississippi River (those east tend to go to Florida), and the majority of those who come here come to Phoenix or its outlying suburbs.

One of which is Sun City and the associated “mini cities’ around it.

Phoenix has 355 days of sunshine a year on average, and is famous more for its triple digit summer temps than much else (they aren’t that bad.  If you have ever opened a warm oven, that’s about what Phoenix is like in summer. And remember Warm is under 150 degrees). It has, for the most part, nearly zero humidity.  So cold here is just cold, not bitter, and hot here is not sweltering, just hot.  Hence the expression “but its a dry heat” that annoys us natives so damn much.

I was born in Phoenix, at Good Samaritan Hospital, which is a true fixture of the City.

Phoenix has a City Council of 9 people, and was one of the first in the nation to adopt a Council-manager form of government.

We had a Prisoner of War camp here during world war 2, with an infamously laughed at escape plan that involved rafting down the salt river to the ocean. It was laughed at because the Salt was a dry river bed, but maps rarely make note of that.

Phoenix itself is divided into Villages. Each Village has its own Village council that is responsible for zoning in it. This is vaguely like the Boroughs of New York City — but not nearly as independent.  There are 15 villages, with a 16th possible down the road.

Trans Phoenicians

Long time readers will be aware that I use a 1 in 250 rate of prevalence for Transness to mark it. I derive that rate of prevalence based on published studies from several leading experts, including those who I am deeply and passionately not fond of, such as Zucker. Since a count of trans people is almost impossible to get accurately, prevalence gives me an effective way of noting Trans folks in a given population.

There are, just within the borders of Phoenix proper, 5,800 and change Trans folk.

Five thousand eight hundred, give or take a hundred.

The Metropolitan area has around 15,000 Trans people.

150 of them Are Native American (The actual figure is much higher. These are conservative estimates.  I know this number is low because if there really was only 150, then TIH would have helped all of them a lot more than once.  Our client records indicate there are at least 350.).

Around 10 are Pacific Islander or Hawaiian.

Nearly 200 are Asian, and that breaks down into people from India, the Philippines, Burma, Korea, Thai, Vietnam, China, and Japan.

Nearly 400 are Black, with most of them not being Hispanic.

Around 100 are of mixed race, such as myself.

Around 2800 are White, and not Hispanic.

2300 are Hispanic, of any race.  Most via Mexico, of course, but also from El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba, and, Puerto Rico.

Numbers don’t add up because I round and because this is based on prevalence, not exact figures.

All of that is based on US Census data with  he prevalence rate.

So let’s call it 6,000 people since we know the numbers are low, and it is always easier to have a nice simple number to use.

The Gender Identity or Expression clause deals with more than just those 6,000 people, as well. It also will include those who don’t meet certain conventional expectations of manner or dress.

We are Arizonans, just as much as anyone else here is — and, for those of us who are haughty natives, some of us are little more Arizonan than many of the people on the City Council.

We deserve to be treated equally in the community we live in, to take part in what it offers — which is pretty awesome, even if it does have some holes compared to cities a hundred years older.

Yet we are not.  We are evicted from apartments and homes.  We are denied employment because it might “freak out the customers”. We are told that we cannot use restrooms, even when they are single stall.

We have to spend the time to educate our own doctors no how to treat us medically – meaning that we have to learn medicine at least a little just to be able to get medical care.

If we aren’t white, to be perfectly blunt, we get piled on on top of that.  If we are disabled, people look and treat us as if we are worthy of pity.

We are killed and people don’t even treat us as the people we are, but rather report it as the people they decide we have to be.

Because much of that is legal, we exist with a feeling that we don’t matter, that we don’t count, that we aren’t worth anything.  Because of that and the fact that this stuff happens — has happened to me, personally — no matter what people say in public, we are left with few options to just survive.

Without jobs, we can barely afford to keep ourselves housed, Without hoses or jobs, we end up on the street, homeless and wandering and since we internalize these things people say about us, we are easy prey to those in our community who are less than savory.

I run an organization that operates a house to house Trans people.  I always have a waiting list and there really are no other facilities in the state that do what we do. We are relied on by state social service organizations and we are funded entirely by small dollar donations, so when the economy is suffering, we are suffering along with it. I can house 8 people at absolute maximum.  Only 5 in reality, and it took us six years to get to where we could do that much.

Nationally, the unemployment rate for trans folk is twice the median.  On the job harassment is found at 91% of employers — even those among the fortune 500 who have these policies as a matter of standards. We have to deal with physical ad sexual assault by first responders about 3% of the time we have an interaction, and because we are tossed aside by the absence of laws like this, we are more likely to have those encounters.

We deal with domestic violence, and very recently I helped parents and children escape a horrible situation because they were trans people and the abuser literally said to them that they deserved the abuse for being trans.

We deal in children, who are bullied because people think that it is ok to abuse adults and pass that to their children. We deal in Seniors, who are finding themselves in living facilities that treat them as something they are not, and feel free to emotionally abuse them.

We deal in rape, which happens constantly. We work to reduce the population of trans folk who, because laws like this are not in place, are left working in the underground economy, jeopardizing not only their own safety but often having to resort to breaking the law because the law doesn’t serve to help them, but instead punish them.

We help other organizations to get funding, as we recently helped AWEE to get a 3 million dollar grant to help women, including trans women. We do on the spot education on trans issues to make sure that employers don’t have an issue and we do it for free.

Now let me tell you something about all of this.

Passing these laws won’t make any of this magically stop overnight.  It won’t fix the big problems that my organization struggles to deal with, in no small part because we feel it important to reduce the impact and costs that the city faces as a result of these issues.

But it does mean that these things will be easier to deal with. And that will happen overnight.  It gives people more incentive to help our local community as a whole to make Phoenix the best city in the nation. Which is where it should be.

We have children and wives and husbands and parents who are treated must as badly as we are, for accepting us, and they need this law passed. For every one of those 6,000 people there is someone else that is close to them, that would love to see them have a better chance at the American Dream.

To be frank, I am hoping that these laws put my small business out of business.  So that I can go and create a new one, because I am an entrepreneur and as such, my goal is to fill needs in the community I am part of — the Phoenix Community. I work, for no cost to them, with other small businesses all the time and they love it because they realize how easy it is to do these things already, and when I do speak to them, they come to understand that this is not the nightmare scenario that many say it is, but that instead it actually bringing more business because when we do have money and we find someone willing to accept us, we are loyal and we invest ourselves in the success of that business.

Many people will say things about restrooms.  They will talk about how this law allows men into women’s restrooms.  Well, I am standing before you, right now, and I’m going to say to you do you really think I look like a man?

Do you really think I am some sort of threat?  Because most of the Trans community is like me.  Just men and women trying to earn a living and provide for our families and contribute to society as a whole, and too many of us can’t do those basic things because instead of just being able to do what everyone else does, we are sent to a different floor or a different building just to be able to use the restroom, and more importantly, what those arguing against the restrooms forget is that they are saying they want the Trans men in this room to use the women’s restrooms.

No offense to my many brothers in spirit, but that would freak me right the heck out. As would having to use the men’s room, like they seem to suggest I do, an act that would endanger me as a woman, and as a person.

This law is vital to the growth of this city, overcoming haven fallen behind the times and suffering economically as a result.  Many organization boycott the city because it does not have those laws.  That hurts small businesses. Phoenix is the heart and soul of the State of Arizona.  It is here that most of the state lives, it is here that fortune 500 companies make their homes, it is here that the best and the brightest want to come for the weather, for the amenities, for the people.

We need them, as a city and as a state.  This was recognized by our Universities, by our community colleges, even by our neighbor city Tempe. And don’t get me started on how Tucson is way ahead of us here.

As a person of faith, my religious beliefs compel me to speak on behalf of these laws. These beliefs of mine are a fundamental part of how I live my life, are central to my moral and ethical foundation, and critical to my own life and the lives of those I encounter every day.  I am just as passionate about my religious beliefs as anyone else, and I am just as driven by them as anyone else.

Yet my religious beliefs are very, very clear here: LGBT people are to be treated with all the same rights, responsibilities, traditions, needs, desires, and kindness as anyone else.  They have families, they have children, they have husbands and wives and sons and daughters  and all of them should be treated with the same devotion we give to all others.

In the United States, my religious beliefs are absolutely of no less nor greater importance than anyone else’s. That is a fundamental aspect of our nation since its founding, and to make a decision based on religious beliefs which are separate from mine is to privilege those religious beliefs over my own — which is, I will note, against the very same ordinances that we are seeking to add to.

THis isn’t about what we believe, this is about what we know.

What we know is that being Trans isn’t a fad or a mood or a lifestyle.  It is a recognized condition that has deep and lasting effects on trans people’s lives.  We know that the kinds of things this law addresses create a strong sense of ostracism and that ostracism, itself, is treated by the brain the same way that a physical blow is treated.

We know that ostracism creates an ongoing stressed state, and that that stress can create medical conditions and issues that last lifetimes and add to the social costs of a community.  So passing these laws reduces costs by helping future generations of trans people — who are born, not made — live their lives without that constant sense of stress over them.

All of us have different degrees to which we can handle stress.  41% of Trans people have attempted suicide. Not because they are Trans people, but because of the way they are treated by others for being trans. The national average for suicide attempts is less than 2%.  So these actions, however minor they may seem, have deep and lasting impact on the lives of real people. For either the good or the bad.

For many in the Trans community, that stress creates enduring medical problems — and leads to them being disabled by the health costs of that stress.  So many of the trans people inthis community, in this City, are disabled, and these laws apply to them doubly.

Many trans people living in this city are straight, and gay, and lesbian, and bisexual.  Indeed, within the trans community the division among those groups is nearly equal. So for many of the Trans community it affects them doubly or triply.

This is wise policy making, and all of the above is stuff you can research yourselves online to learn about more. This law will reduce the costs to the city for aiding its citizens. It will make for a stronger community, a more economically viable small business environment, and enable growth.

Most of all, however, this is the right thing to do.

Anything less isn’t as right.