© St. Petersburg Times, published November 24, 2002
Re: Where it's lonely in the middle, editorial, Nov. 17.
This editorial mourned the loss of bipartisan representation to partisan posturing. You say the new House minority leader for the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, is not representative of the political views of more than a "sliver" of the population, because she comes from San Fransisco, a "safe" congressional district for the liberal-progressives. Yet you didn't mention that Rep. Bill Young has been an unopposed Republican for years here in Pinellas.
You say that Pelosi will pander to the party faithful, not voters across the political spectrum. How does this view contribute to democracy? What is wrong with having a genuine alternative view about "guns vs. butter," and renaming "tax and spend" as gross military spending.
Could it be that a genuine tax break would include stripping the pork from E-Systems and Raytheon and star wars to free up domestic spending and not take away more from veterans, education and genuine economic stimulation?
You ask, "How did the House become so unrepresentative?" Why, then, did so many folks not vote? The larger question of voter apathy needs redressing, not your fretting about being lost in the middle of the road.
-- James Willingham, St. Petersburg
Re: Electronic snoops will make us a society of open books, Nov. 17.
Robyn Blumner's column about data mining by the government is disturbing. She points out that there are other options to protect the citizens of this country that don't require measures that aren't as invasive of our privacy. Before one goes and says, that is just liberal whining, notice that William Safire also wrote a similar column, a few days earlier, mentioning how the government suspects everyone in this country and is doing everything it can to gather all the information possible about us.
These columns along with stories of the other steps the government is taking and has taken, such as limiting freedom of speech and or protest, are foreboding indicators of further government oppression "for our security."
-- John Polo, Tampa
Re: Autistic children face lawsuit limits, Nov. 16.
I didn't know that children who were suffering side-effects from vaccine preservatives were a security risk. That the Republican-controlled House of Representatives inserted an amendment that was completely nongermane to the homeland security bill shows that the GOP is completely in the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies. I'd like Rep. Dick Armey to tell the Liu family that protecting the pockets of the big pharmaceutical companies was more important than helping the families of those children suffering side-effects.
The spokesperson for, Eli Lilly & Co., the leading defendant in the lawsuits filed by parents like the Lius, said that the allegation of not participating in the administration's program to produce smallpox vaccine unless it get immunity from lawsuits was "absolutely false." But Lilly's chairman is a member of the White House Advisory Council on Homeland Security.
It's just another example of the GOP doing favors for one of their biggest contributors, the pharmaceutical industry.
It is a shame when a special-interest amendment that hurts average American families makes it into what is supposed to be a bill that protects average American families. It is going to be a long couple of years for this country.
-- Dave Cutler, Tampa
Thank you for Lane Degregory's wonderful article (The making of Maddie) in the Nov. 17 Floridian section.
The transgender community of Florida is made up of individuals who transgress so-called gender norms. And the vast majority do not have the mind of one gender and the body of another, as transsexuals do. Transgender is the umbrella term that includes cross-dressers, persons who are intersexed, and female/male impersonators who entertain. The majority of transgender folk live with the gender they were born in and are not mentally ill, not suicidal, not disabled and do not appear on the Jerry Springer show.
Understanding the definition of transgender is important in establishing the actual percentage of the general population. It is closer to 1 in 3,000 rather than the 1 in 30,000 quoted in the story. That old statistic comes from data collected in 1976, and it represents transsexuals who had the surgery in smaller European countries with access to total population statistics. It was published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual -- in the most recent edition of the DSM-IV, the authors begin with an apology: "There are no recent epidemiological studies to provide data on prevalence of gender identity disorder." In Tampa Bay alone there are six transgender support groups!
As a transgender person, I know in my heart and mind that I was assigned the wrong gender at birth. I chose to use modern medicine to match my outer body to my brain. As a transsexual, I am a minority under the transgender umbrella.
With stories about brave transgender people like Maddie, we are shredding the shame and guilt of the past and looking forward to a future when we no longer have to fear the loss of family, of jobs and of church support that forces us to live secret fear-filled lives.
The members of our out and proud transgender community are growing, and it is time for the discrimination against us to end. I stand with Maddie as part of a transgender community working hard to achieve equal protection under the law.
-- Janice Josephine Carney, executive director, FORGE, the Florida Gender Identity Project, Seminole
Re: The making of Maddie.
Thank you for this informative and necessary, yet sad and disturbing article. The story of the journey of this young woman was well told, and hopefully opened the eyes of many people who don't understand people with different biological needs. It's so unfortunate that Maddie (and anyone else who is also transgender) had to give up her family in order to follow her heart and mind and become the person she needed to be.
The sad and disturbing part of the article was that Frank Head, the manager of the driver's license office, was such an insensitive boor! From the article, one gets the feeling that he seemed to enjoy embarrassing and humiliating Maddie in front of everyone else.
He certainly could use some sensitivity training. How difficult would it have been to take Maddie aside, and in private, explain his department's position?
The young lady who stepped forward to express her support and encouragement to Maddie, on the other hand, deserves a big round of applause. Obviously, she is a caring and understanding human being.
-- Ron L. Gross, Hudson
Re: Georgia Republicans pander to those who prefer the ignoble past, by Philip Gailey, Nov. 17.
In 1929, when I was 4 years old, my dad took me to watch a Memorial Day parade in Savannah. Parades were a big thing in those days and were well attended. Veterans were encouraged to don their uniforms and march with the bands and other organizations.
A cheer went up as the first contingent came by -- the Stars and Stripes with a couple of hundred veterans of World War I marching erect with shoulders back and chests thrust forward. Another cheer for the next group, about 50 veterans of the Spanish-American War -- a little less erect, a touch of gray in the hair and a slightly slower stride.
Then came the loudest cheer of all for the final group. There were only a few of them, less than a dozen. Their gray uniforms were worn, their shoulders bent, their gait was slow, one was in a wheelchair and at least half of them were missing a limb. But their heads were held high and their eyes shone with pride as they looked up at the standard they bore -- the Confederate battle flag.
Mr. Gailey, those men were not "ignoble," nor was their flag or the service they rendered to their state.
-- Bill Crawford, Palm Harbor
Re: Victor vs. Victoria, Nov. 17.
It's truly a sick press and a sign of our times when the front page of the Sunday St. Petersburg Times features such a story. You're really scraping the bottom of the garbage pail.
-- Richard Kwiecienski, Homosassa