Jul 21, 2013

Gender Discrimination in the city of Portland, Or

This photograph was taken at Bradley Angle House.
This is their utility room where I stayed separated from the other residents. When they showed me the room, I asked is this where the queers stay?

My name is Lisa/Lee Iacuzzi and I have two separate gender discrimination complaints against two nonprofits in the city of Portland, OR. The first is Bradley Angle House and the second is Reach CDC. They are both organizations which try to create safe housing for females. Yes, this gender discrimination is not about men discriminating against women. No this is a unique situation where these nonprofits who are women only that are discriminating against people who are female but have a male gender.

They have been officially charged for discrimination in housing through the Bureau of Labor and Industry(BOLI). These acts of discrimination have not yet been proven.
I believe these claims could have been avoided by having a clarification about people who are bigendered. Yes, I am saying another label in the gay community that is not being well used to describe individuals who are now called transgendered. Bigenderism is a subcategory of transgenderism.
I came upon this word by complete accident. I circled both male and female when filling out my complant. BOLI descrbied me as a bigendered person. It was the first time that I ever heard of this term.

I believe the term transgendered does not accurately explain people like myself who have a different gender that they were born into but do not seek hormones nor surgery. We, bigendered people, struggle for equality because we do not exactly fit into the binary system of male or female. Recognizing in me that I am bigendered only creates understanding to others who might not like our presence in certain public and private spaces dedicated for a certain sex... For example, if my appearance is both female and male but I am a biologically female, does this mean that I cannot live or dwell in women’s’ places? If I say that I am bigendered and not transgendered that it is comfortable for me and others to use male or female pronouns. I have a female voice and I have noticeable breasts, how can I expect someone to call me a he? If someone calls me a he, this does not upset me nor do I ask individuals to apologize. I am often called he by people who did not know me.
I have attended a Queergendered group at the Q center. The meeting had many people like me and an educational advocate stated that there are more of us that were not choosing surgery than those who were choosing surgery. The importance of the word gender queer is a term that best describes that we are more visually queer than other gays and lesbians. Basically people see us on the bus or on the street and think to themselves that there is a gay person. Because of our gender uniqueness, we are outed whether we like it or not.
When I first recognized my gender at the age of forty, I started using the male pronoun. I asked my friends to use the pronoun and things did get crazy. My sister went to her therapist who told her that she had lost her sister. I do not believe that this is a true statement. My gender expression was not meant to loose my family or have my friends struggle with pronouns. I do not have anything against people who wish to match their gender with their sex. I do believe my friends and family would have supported me if I had chosen surgery. What I am saying, is that using the term bigendered at least keeps us with half of our identity and creates an understanding for those who love and support us.
So if a person recognizes their gender, maybe calling themselves bigendered, might be the first step or the last step until they decide for themselves. I was lucky in the fact that I took my time and explored the topic of heterosexism before I made a choice that was going to be for life. Yes, unfortunately we have to have labels. I guess I could have not told anyone about my gender but I knew that their were writings on the Internet about my male gender. I thought it would be easier to tell them the truth. When I checked into Bradly Angle house, I gave them print outs of my work that stated both of my names.
My goal in filing these discrimination complaints is to make it easier for the next person like myself to receive help from social service agencies without harassment. I also think that gender policies affect heterosexuals as well. Bradley Angle House does not allow a mother to bring her children into shelter if their children are male and over the age of 13. Reach CDC recently enforced their gender policy on one of their employees who lives in an all women building. This employee had to move and quit her job because her son turned to the age of 13. Also, their are women who live in the building and cannot have their son sleep overnight in their housing. However, if they have a daughter under 18, they can do an overnight with their family. I believe these gender policies separate families.
The only social service agency that I know who does not discriminate in housing is Portland's' YWCA. They accept people like me and will not turn away mothers who have male teenage boys.
The goal for bringing awareness to this situation of discrimination is not to cut funding but to increase funding in these organizations. I have been harassed for the last four months, I tried to get into a domestic violence shelter, they were all full and the volunteers of America was out of money for hotel vouchers. How can we live in a society where their is so much wealth and suffering juxtaposed with each other?
Thanks for listening.
Lisa/Lee Iacuzzi MA @PSU Not a Good Queer

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