Tag Archives: transgender

I gotta say, sometimes it’s just nice to live in Vermont

I have often been critical of Vermonters’ exaggerated perception of their own inherent virtue. We’re far from perfect on race relations; there are subtle forms of sexism here that I haven’t seen elsewhere; and, of course, our vaunted reputation for environmentalism is largely due to forces out of our control: small population, not much industry, and lack of exploitable resources. Based on how we’ve handled Lake Champlain, or the damage done when we HAVE had the opportunity to do so (the Elizabeth Mine, the PFOA contamination around Bennington), I contend that if there was a lot of coal under the Green Mountains, we’d be West Virginia North.

But while I contend that Vermont isn’t as special as we think it is, I readily acknowledge that it definitely has its virtues. We have two examples from recent headlines, where other states are pursuing destructive, hateful paths while we quietly handle our business in a positive manner.

Example #1: the Vermont House passes — with broad bipartisan tripartisan support — a bill that would guarantee women’s access to contraception even if that section of Obamacare is repealed.

Example #2: The Agency of Education issues guidelines for supporting transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

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So… Christine.

One of Vermont’s better-known executives came out as transgender last night, in a really good story by WCAX-TV anchor Darren Perron. Top marks to him for an in-depth, unsparing but respectful report, and top marks to WCAX for giving the story a full ten minutes — an eternity on local TV news.

Dave Hallquist, CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, is now Christine Hallquist, the person “I really am,” she said. She told of feeling different from a very young age, but sucking it up and passing as the man she appeared to be — even having a long and successful marriage and raising three children.

What’s becoming clear in 21st Century America is that gender is not a matter of black or white, off or on; it’s a continuum. For perhaps the first time in history*, people on various points of that continuum are beginning to feel free to explore and express their true selves.

*That’s probably a broad overstatement. From the little I know, there have been many human societies more accommodating of gender variety than the contemporary world. Just as “traditional marriage” between one man and one woman is a surprisingly modern phenomenon.

Hallquist’s grown children expressed an honest mixture of confusion, acceptance, and love. Hallquist herself has been effectively closeted for a long time, and is only now stepping into the spotlight as a woman.

The person whose voice was absent from Perron’s report, presumably by her choice, was Hallquist’s wife of 35-plus years, Pat Hallquist.

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VT Dems to pioneer trans-inclusive bylaws

Funny thing about gender-inclusive language in various settings — like, for instance, political party bylaws. It’s necessary to ensure equitable treatment of women, but it can have the unintended consequence of limiting transgender participation.

How so? Well, take the Vermont Democratic Party bylaw mandating that its chair and vice-chair be of “opposite” gender. Which is fine if you’re only considering males and females. But what about those who are “crossing the river,” or even choosing to live on an island in the river? They aren’t the “opposite” of anybody.

They’d seem to be SOL, right? After all, if a person is in transition, or considers themselves to be something other than absolutely male or female, they’d be left out of the “opposite gender” mandate.

At the very least, when the party’s own rules define gender as a male/female construct, there’s a tacit exclusion of transgender people.

Well, at its meeting on Saturday, the Democratic State Committee asked its Bylaws Subcommittee to propose trans-inclusive language in three specific places in the bylaws. And apparently it’s the first Democratic state party to initiate this process. “We’ve queried other state committees across the country,” said State Committee member Matt Levin, “and no one has figured this out.”

So the Vermont Democrats will be the pioneers, it seems.

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