Be a programmer, but not today

This author is pretty much correct, but I have to expand on it a bit. You can't become a good developer in 21 days, although if you are already experienced, you can learn a new language pretty fast. Probably you can't become a good developer in less than 5 years, and that's if you have a natural aptitude for it. Ten years of plugging away at something doesn't make you an expert either. I've played guitar for 20 years and I pretty much still suck at it, but I enjoy it and I am 100x better than I was after my first week of playing. The one thing I think this author and everyone who addresses this question, is missing is the suggestion that learning programming languages means anything at all. If you want to be a good developer, focusing on languages is not the way to go. Everything else I agree with but I would phrase it a different way:

1. Make sure you enjoy it. Good programmers really love coding. They are known for staying up for days on end to write code, because they are so excited about it that they can't sleep. BTW, it's not the coding that keeps me up at night, it's the pursuit of better ways to solve a problem. Very important: be a connoisseur of problem-solving, and methods of attack. A good programmer is just as likely to stay up all night solving a crossword as they are to be coding.

2. Talk. Be social. One thing that I wish would come back into vogue is the development-based user group. I'm talkin about local groups that get together in person. Online forums are great but no substitute for crowding around a screen and actually learning something in a group. Know programmers, meet them in person, have drinks. Get out in the real world and interact. Programmers are known for being an antisocial bunch, but the best programmers love to get together and share.

3. Practice, a lot. Start by building the hello world example to get a feel for whatever you're learning, but then go ahead and dive into something complex. Figure it out along the way, by using #1 and #2. When I learned C++, the first thing I made (after hello world) was a linear algebra class library. One of the first BASIC programs I ever completed was a version of Othello for the Vic-20. Do something like that... if you can't hack it, better that you learn that early. Getting bogged down with things you don't understand isn't the way to go, but learn concepts slowly and build them up into a complex program.

4. Get a degree... if you want to work as a programmer. Having a degree will help open up more opportunities... it's like Boot Camp for higher-level jobs. Your degree does not have to be in Computer Science, just have a degree in something. My degree is in Biology, with minors in CS and Math... this helps tremendously.

5. Debug - a lot. Debug your own code, upgrade your own code after a few years of ignoring it. Read lots of sample code and try to hack sample projects you find. Debug someone else's mistake. Answer questions on forums. Accidentally break something and then fix it. Knowing what can go wrong is half the battle of preventing it. Being able to handle the unexpected is the other half.

6. Know how computers work. You should have knowledge of what it means to write a computer instruction, and what will happen at the electronic level when your code is executed. Know how processors execute instructions, and know how data is transferred around to various parts of the system. Know the parts of the system, and be able to compare their differences and know about their similarities. A hard drive has a bunch of chips in it... what are they doing, and how are they different from the cpu or the gpu or the math co-processor chips? Those are the questions you should have knowledge of... not expert knowledge, but basic knowledge of how it works.

7. Learn 2 programming languages - SQL and something else. SQL is the most commonly used declarative language, and you will need to know it for most jobs. Don't just learn the language either, learn how to use it effectively and learn it along side another language so you can compare the declarative and procedural styles and learn which to use where. Your 'something-else' language will more than likely be obsolete by the time you become an expert in anything, so struggling to learn multiple languages is a waste of time. Learn what you need to be functional now, and focus on other languages when you have time. (So, learn SQL and C#, VB or Java)

8. Without focusing on multiple languages, learn the concepts that are common to all languages. The list from the article (class abstraction (OOP), functional abstraction, syntactic abstraction, declarative specification, co-routines, paralellism) can all be learned within the framework of C# and SQL. There is no reason to learn Lisp simply to understand syntax abstraction, since almost every language supports that feature to some extent. Lisp takes it to the extreme, and IMO, is not a well-balanced language for a beginner.

I disagree about learning an interactive language (although SQL can be good in that respect). I think a developer should get used to the 'code-compile-test-debug' cycle early on. My intern is struggling right now because he doesn't compile often enough... so when he finally does, he has introduced lots of errors, which sometimes compound each other. Learn the consequences of that behavior right up front.

When you are an expert, you will be able to learn a new language in 21 days, maybe less, so the book titles are misleading by making you think they are targeted to 'fast-track' beginners. If you've ever read one of those books, you would see what I mean... it basically starts by saying you need to know the basic concepts of programming as a prerequisite for understanding the book (usually). I learned C# in a few days, but I had years of experience with the concepts first. The "dummies" books are for beginners, and if you take a look at the Java for Dummies book and the Java in 21 days book (both of which I own), you can see that difference. One is focused on learning both the concepts and the language, while the other is focused on quickly learning the language, but assumes you understand the basics already.

So yeah, teach yourself a language in 21 days if you want to, but if you want to be a good developer, you're going to do a lot more than just learn a language or two.

Good luck!


ASP.Net vs PHP: Love or Money?

This is a response to an email-list question about which is "better", C# or Java for applications, and a separate question about ASP.Net vs PHP.

OK, first the easy question. If you are developing Windows applications, you use C#... never Java. If you need something that is cross-platform, you should probably use Java. The syntax of Java and C# is pretty much the same. The concepts involved are also similar, both being OOP languages with the C-style curly-brace syntax. If you learn one, you will be learning the other as well, they really are that similar. For application development, you need to look at other things as well, such as VB and C++, Java and C# are not the only choices. If you have experience with anything already and you are in a hurry, obviously you should use that.

As for PHP vs ASP.Net... all other things being equal, ASP.Net is 'better' than PHP. However, all things are not equal. It depends highly on the application you are designing, and factors such as budget, size of the development team, existing hardware, and so on. All those things come down to money, and ASP.Net is hands-down more expensive. ASP.Net is also faster and easier to use... IF you understand C# or VB, so you will have to learn one of those languages along side with ASP.Net if you want to be successful. With PHP, you will be able to get up and running for free and with a smaller learning curve, but you won't be able to do as much with it later on. I don't believe there is anything you can do in one language that you couldn't accomplish in the other, so neither choice will limit your possibilities. Here's a brief run-down of the trade-offs...

ASP.Net runs on Windows servers using the IIS web server($$$)
PHP runs on almost any server running Apache. PHP runs on other configurations as well.

ASP.Net is an object-oriented environment.
*PHP is a procedural environment. (Easier to learn)

ASP.Net is easier to debug, but debugging requires Visual Studio($$$)
PHP code is harder to debug, but doesn't require expensive programs.

ASP.Net is elegant and powerful.
PHP requires many workarounds to do complicated things.

ASP.Net requires a lot of system resources and fast servers.
PHP is lean and mean, and runs well on cheaper boxes.

Error handling in ASP.Net is based on Exception handling which is a robust model familiar to many programmers.
*PHP error-handling is tricky, and different programmers use many different methods.

ASP.Net is strongly typed and compiled.
*PHP is a scripting language, resulting in errors that are harder to find.

ASP.Net may be less secure because it runs on IIS.
PHP usually runs on Apache, which is known for good security.

*PHP 5 has addressed some of these issues. It has some better error handling and more object-oriented features.

These decisions all come down to what you know already, what you want to invest, and where you want to go with it. If you know VB or C# already, then ASP.Net is a good choice, but if you're familiar with Javascript, PHP might be a better choice. If money is no object and you don't mind Windows, use ASP.Net, but if you need to run on cheaper platforms, use PHP. If you need a super-rich environment and a robust language with infinite possibilities, use ASP.Net, but if you need to get up and running fast with low cost and are ok with a little extra work for the tough stuff, use PHP.

Clear as mud?

Remember 12/7/1941

At 7:55am, on Dec. 7th, 1941, Japanese forces cowardly (and brilliantly) surprise-attacked US soil for the first time in history at Pearl Harbor, HI and other locations in the islands. Over 2400 people died that day, and it led to a war in which thousands were killed or injured. Since then it has happened only one other time, also leading to a war in which thousands have died. For years, I have used 12/07/1941 07:55 as my "default date" whenever, as a programmer, I needed to set a default date. I do this in the hope that if someone looks at my code and wonders why I picked that date, they will look it up. Actually I hope nobody ever has to look this up. It should be in your mind as indelibly as 09/11/2001. Never forget. Here's some articles.

Survivors gather for what may be their last roll call

What happened on that day

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stuart Mill


Yahoo Questions: Am I Pretty?

I like to answer questions on Yahoo Answers, but some of them seem to get asked a bit too often. One of the most popular questions on the Health and Beauty section is simply "Am I pretty?" I understand the need to be thought of as pretty, and I understand that girls are very concerned with it, particularly at a younger age. What I don't understand is why people post this question with no photo, and usually no physical description! "Oh yes, you are a lovely avatar."

At the very least if you're going to ask this question, you should be able to say what you look like. This might seem superficial, this focus on looks, but the question was whether they are pretty or not. That's a primarily aesthetic judgement call, and we need something to go on. The other issue is that whether you are pretty or not has no bearing on more substantial things, like whether you are a good person or not. I think girls need to hear that physical attractiveness isn't as important as they think it is, but don't ask people to make a physical judgement and give them nothing to work with.


Some of my favorite films

These are in no particular order. Some of them are non-English films, which I indicated. Many of these have elements of alternate sexuality and only a few of them would be appropriate for children (I marked those with a *, everything else is too weird for kids). Links go to the IMDB page for the film.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (transsexuality, adult sexuality, some violence)

Run Lola Run (German, some violence)

Amores Perros (Spanish, violence, animal cruelty - "Crash" is very similar but not as good)

Silence of the Lambs (violence and sexual abuse)

Ran (Kurosawa) (Japanese, violence)

Rashomon (also Kurosawa) (Japanese, mild violence but it's off-camera, might be ok for kids - a great exploration of the effect of point-of-view)

Akira (anime) (Japanese, violence and bad language)

*Metropolis (Japanese, anime - somewhat similar to the 1927 film, but claimed to not be a remake of that one)

*Metropolis (1927 sci-fi silent film - there is a DVD of this with music and some weird colorization)

*Princess Mononoke (Japanese with a good English re-dubbing, anime)

Zatoichi: the Blind Swordsman (Japanese, violence and alternate sexuality)

Far From Heaven (might be ok for kids, gay situations, but no sex that I can remember - you will love the '50s fashions in this one)

Brokeback Mountain (about 15 seconds of gay sex, would be ok for older kids)

The Crying Game (transvestite, brief male frontal nudity, violence)

Star Wars (A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back... the others weren't that good - violence)

The Big Chill (probably OK for kids, but hard for youngsters to understand)

Schindler's List (has some nudity and violence, but should be ok for kids)

Boys Don't Cry (not a well-made film, but great subject matter and a true story - violence and female-to-male crossdressing and sexuality - scared the hell out of me)

Shiokari Pass (Japanese, explores faith - great tearjerker ending - might be hard to find)

There's so many more... I've been watching a lot of foreign films lately. This week I saw Solaris (Russian from 1972, kind of boring), and Yojimbo (interesting, funny, but not as good as some of Kurosawa's other stuff). I like Franke Potente (Run Lola Run and The Bourne Identity), so tonight I've got The Princess and the Warrior. I love movies :)

[addendum]BTW, The Princess and the Warrior is very good


RE: Chick with a dick. No, seriously.

I got this reply to my post from yesterday. I post it here completely unedited. It doesn't really need a response, but there is one at the bottom. Give a person enough rope...

wrote: > > Well... you can call me whatever you want, I put no stock in it. You > can't consider my genitalia in a vaccuum, you need to consider my mind
Christina -- no one has said this..you are tilting at gender windmills of you own making! Two aspects need to be taken together, plus one's plans/desires for the future.//
> as well. I currently identify as female, but I'm in no big hurry to > cut my parts off. I'm satisfied with being female as I am, and it's a > hell of a lot better than forcing myself to present as male.
Christina- already stated this point, which you chose to not read at all. This a completetely twisted use of the word "female" which does mean "between the legs. Gender and your sex is two different things and misusing basic words is intentionally misleading yourself and others. Females have viginas and males have dicks. If you mean a woman versus man (gender terms) then use them, or otherwise you come across as ignorant, or as I see as intentionally misleading. Reread my intial post if you can't figure this out. Also is confusing to the public when we should strive for better clariety. No wonder they continue to reject the whole TG as a vague mislabeled grouping. Because of people like you now even drag queens are not only calling themselves TG but even TS. Your type open a door that anyone can go through and call themselves TS. Heck even weekend CD's and lesbians can call themselves TS. Why not call yourself a full time CD, or TGist or whatever. Transsexual means "change sex" and you don't intend to do that so you are a fake in my book. And you like to spout off about the HB standards when you don't have any yourself.//
I have > seen this happen: a guy gets into crossdressing for whatever reason, > they decide to label themselves as a transsexual,
C --- yea that's a main point, self labeling without any standards and you fit that criteria (saying living full-time is far from any decent criteria)..big deal.//
then they proceed to > FORCE THE ISSUE, and they do the hormones, surgeries, RLT, and so on, > ***because someone told them that's what transsexuals do,
yea, and who did that?!...the people you have already said are the professionals and make the calls...I don't buy that, but if self labeling and screw up then live with your choices.
and they > have labelled themselves as such*** Because of the application of the > label, the person was unable to see the mistake they were making... > they just assumed "I'm TS, so this is what I have to do." They became > just as constrained by our community's label as we are by society's > labels. They allowed the label to define them, instead of the other > way around.
C--- And full time crossdressers like you are the best example of this!...and who smokescreen as TS// > > Is it so hard for people to accept that my sex (I had written "is > male", but it's more like "is of no importance"), and my gender is > female? I have considered myself female since I was around 5 years > old, which is about as far back as I can remember. Through the years, > people have tried to tell me that means this or that, but *I decide* > what it means to me.
C ---now you get to redefine what "female" means besides redefining what TS means? What?....not! you made up your own sex/gender definitions to suit yourself..and I don't buy it. You can't even accept the difference between gender (head) and sex (between legs). You are just confusing youself, but not me or any reasonably intelligent person. No wonder the public stays confused about who is what and where they are going with gender/sex. You want to be a chick with a dick then say so, or go with TG but stop piggybacking on the real McCoys of those wanting to be females...true TSs.
I can listen to opinions and so on, but unlike > some people, I take that information and then think for myself.
C--- yea, and reinvent labels and definitions. I don't buy it and it hurts the greater community.//
I form > my own opinions about what I want to do, and I don't let anyone tell > me otherwise.
C--- yet just a few days ago you argued for the professionals to control us and what to do. Rather flip flopping are you?//
I don't know what kind of guys you hang around with, but > I'm going to venture a guess that none of them consider themselves > female. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that the prejudice > within our own community is pressuring people to consider sexuality > and gender as something that must be made the same at all costs, even > though we are constantly saying that those are two seperate things.
C --- yea, something about common well accepted definitions that bothers those that don't want to be clear about who they are, like you. There are plenty of terms to use or invent that best represent people like you, and to leave the ones that best fit definitions to their own proper use.
> The hypocrisy of some people just drives me nuts.
C--- Yes and you are a prime example of this, promoting HB crap.// > > Perhaps my situation is unique, but I highly doubt it. What's more > likely is that there are many people out there like me, but they are > afraid to admit it because when they do, they have to deal with people > like you calling them men.
C --No one here doing that, and again you fail to distingish between gender and sex. You are a male with hopefully a woman's mind, but beginning to wonder about that. You are NOT a female at this point. At least I didn't lie to myself when was pre-op, much less ever think I was some non-op at any point. Intent, not timing, is the point.
And there's really no point in that except > to insult the person. > > I will admit that there are people, like the one in my scenario above, > who are not genuine transsexuals, and there are people who make the > wrong decisions.
C--- Well, I haven't met very many TS that didnt' know who they were, or made wrong decisions. A few CD fail to admit they were that, because they couldn't accept that status, like you. Whatever you, after hearing you please don't have SRS, you are ways fromt that point!//
It's not up to me to point that out to them though - > it's their own busines, their own life, and if they want to fuck it > up, then it's their own problem. I feel concern for those people, and > I will occasionally give my opinion and try to help them sort out > their own feelings,
C--- Good! Because you can't even get gender/sex terms straight, much less judge who is a true TS! Would be the blind advising the blind!//
but I have no business telling someone they are > not who or what they claim to be. I love discussing this kind of > thing, and I listen carefully to the opinions I hear, and occasionally > something will cause me to re-think my situation, but that's what I'm > going to do - re-think it, not just adopt someone else's thinking.
C--- Yea, you failed to even read my message before posting your own drivel, and pretend you were addressing what I wrote. I think and write my own views, and you dont' know crap about what I wrote, or apparently care to consider another stronger view. So to me you just lied to me and yourself with the above statement. Just copy and paste crap from your past encounters. // > > There is a lot of discussion on these mailing lists about how to > classify, divide, and identify people. Do you not understand that all > that does is serve to classify and divide us?
C--- Yes and for good reason to go for some clariety. Only to those who deliberately choose to confuse terms and definitions, in large part to sneak in under a different category then they truly fit is problems created. What's wrong with you being a TG...after all many people like you tend to like that term. Nothing wrong with that if you like being a full time CD or whatever, because the only thing that changed, or is different, about you is your GENDER from your malehood! Don't continue to state that sex is same as gender or you need to buy yourself a basis dictionary.//
It doesn't do anybody > any good to try to apply taxonomy to our situation. That's one issue > that we constantly complain about... that society wants to throw every > human being into two discrete sexes.
C -- BS! What is being advocated to to make terms that define various conditions in-between the two sexs/genders, and varous well labeled combinations of both aspects. Otherwise the wrong trend/idea is to create one single TG label for every gender variation which doesn't mean anything of any importance, and which puts you back in the box with drag queens, which as a group those of true TSs used to want to be disassociated with for many years.//
How can we complain about that, > and at the same time be arguing about classifications within our own > community? Don't try to force me into a box, I won't go, and you're > likely to get scratched up trying to put me in there.
C--- So pick your own box, just don't twist and fake your way into the one with me and other true TSs. Trans-sexual again means just that "change - sex" and sex does mean "between the legs" and anything else is smokescreening for being something else, whether CD's, drag queens or whatever. Pick another label....any label!
BTW, recently read on a drag queens's personal site that they claim to be TS, just because they are full time and had some FFS. But this person won the "Miss Junior Gay America" contact a few years back, and main occupation is doing drag shows (lives down in Texas). So is a drag queen (gay with a dick), lives and advertises as such but still on their site claims to be TS. Yea,.. right. People like this and Jasimine open the door for this kind to claim to be TS, and the entire gay community to included as TG (which some groups now state are included as such).
Labels exist for good reason, not to box in but to reflect some reality and due perspective. If you don't like the box, fine tune it to be better if it was wrong to begin with (was not) or invent your own. If you don't like the standard well defined boxes then make your own, but don't contaminate or fake your way into another by twisting terms, or lowering the entrance bars (here were made with due rationale), or trying to be vague about your own status. It's bad enought that the general public very often assume that someone claiming to be TG are TS, but to say one is directly a TS and yet the people love their gential as is (penis in this case) and has no desire to change that to match their claimed gender is just plain fraud in my view, and to the public's if they knew. And if the public knew that males were getting their BC's changed to "female" while keeping their penis (genitial completely intact) then they would be outraged! This is fraud to everyone in my view.
And again, if you don't like the reasonably defined gender/sex boxes then invent one yourself and jump on in. Don't use mine to disguise what and who you are. Otherwise any woman who ever wears pants or any guy wearing panties and jerking off can claim to be TS. Balony on that "open door policy." Your efforts will eventually undermine all the true gains we have gotten for decades, and why most new laws/ordinances use the "transsexual" word to protect against certain discrimation, and once they find out some are just sneaky crossdressers without any real basis for claiming TS status you will cause a major backlash against us. Your kind is twisting, mistating true intent, and outright lying at times just may affect my current status, and may very well cause BC's to be ignored, or worse... invalidated.
What is worse in your case is you supported the HB standards in one post, but do you expect the so called professionals to not use standard terms and basic categories? The much stronger dividing line is not whether full time or not (most CDs state they would love to be full time...whoopee!) but whether they would have SRS if possible (even if totally free or not). Even a drag queen can be full time...so what?
And finally there is no category that is "bad" but is bad if the boundries are ignored, and one's options are blurred or confusing. Clearer terms = better choices = better decisions. And every good decision (or "best" one at a given time) well considers many variables in a bigger perspective. Confusing "sex" with "gender" is not good termonology nor leads to a better and clearer perspective.
You, and ones like you are a contradiction in perspectives, and intentionally misuse basic terms, and ignore basic good arguements which is why you and the other failed to quote a single word I wrote in my initial post on this topic. Side stepping, using twisted terms and views is what I see. No wonder many need professional help to straighten basic terms and groupings out.
Good luck to you, whatever you really are. Judging by your own standards the professional drag queen mentioned is more a woman than you have shown yourself to be, and better looking on top of it. At least they admit they are a drag queen even if claiming to be a TS on top of it. > > That's my morning rant :) > Now back to some real work! > Jasmine
C--- Good for you...just hope you aren't a medical provider of some sort, much less a doctor...hate to have medical terms and devices all confused if a patient!
PS Read you other claim elsewhere...and you are not the way "most TS look". I look a hell of a lot better. Because I did what needed to be done to get the job done! And better looking that most natal woman on top of it (even 20 years younger).

Here's my response:

<You wanna fight like angry men? You got it. This is all about you, that oughta satisfy your ego.>

Again with the ego trip and the total misunderstanding? Am I writing in Japanese or something? Are we really just arguing over the meaning of words? Because it feels like you are attacking my identity. It feels like you are saying I have no right to be who I am? AND WHAT THE FUCK DOES ANY OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH HOW PRETTY I AM?!

Saying you're better looking than me is a sign of someone who's really grasping at straws. I am perfectly passable, although I am not done with my transition, and if you're looking at my photos from 4 years ago and making that judgment, then I suggest you compare them to some of your photos from your awkward days, unless you're perfect enough that you didn't go through that phase. Some of us have real life responsibilities and can't afford to do everything we want. Some of us don't have the luxury of a perfect transition like you had. I have two children which are my highest priority, and if I have to postpone things because of them, then I will, and nobody has any right to call me less of a person because of that. Now then, I'm not a drag queen - I'm not a prostitute - I'm not a transvestite - definitely not a gay man. I guess I'm a nobody.

You are an asshole. You need to get over yourself and stop thinking that your way is the only way. You are wrong about this, plain and simple. I have a right to exist this way, and if it's simply the use of the word "transsexual" that you're angry about... then you can keep your stupid word. I for one, don't want to be associated with people that have your problem, whatever it is, and if calling myself transsexual means I have to be lumped in with you... I'll think of another word.

I used to suffer from the competetive ego trip that you're on, but I got over it when I realised how stupid it is. I know exactly where you're coming from, and there's some major logical flaws in it. Trust me, I know how you feel when someone you think is inferior wants to put themselves into your superior world. So I'm not a perfect tranny... get over it. You're the only one who is.

Go to hell, jerk.

BTW, don't accuse me of not reading what you said. I read it and I disagree. I said I didn't read it all, but I did go back and do that. I still think you're wrong. I use words as they are commonly used, and I disregard your rigid, overly technical 'definitions'... language doesn't work that way. We're not writing scientific papers here.


Chick with a dick. No, seriously.

Someone responded to this blog, by completely missing the point and deliberately trying to insult me by calling me a man. They said if I like my penis, then I'm no different from any other man. I strongly disagree, and here's my response:

You can call me whatever you want, I put no stock in it. You can't consider my genitalia in a vaccuum, you need to consider my mind as well. I currently identify as female, but I'm in no big hurry to cut my parts off. I'm satisfied with being female as I am, and it's a hell of a lot better than forcing myself to present as male. I have seen this happen: a guy gets into crossdressing for whatever reason, they decide to label themselves as a transsexual, then they proceed to force the issue, and they do the hormones, surgeries, RLT, and so on, because someone told them that's what transsexuals do, and they have labelled themselves as such Because of the application of the label, the person was unable to see the mistake they were making... they just assumed "I'm TS, so this is what I have to do." They became just as constrained by our community's label as we are by society's labels. They allowed the label to define them, instead of the other way around.

Is it so hard for people to accept that my sex (I had written "is male", but it's more like "is of no importance"), and my gender is female? I have considered myself female since I was around 5 years old, which is about as far back as I can remember. Through the years, people have tried to tell me that means this or that, but I decide what it means to me. To quote GWB... "I'm the decider, ok?" I can listen to opinions and so on, but unlike some people, I take that information and then think for myself. I form my own opinions about what I want to do, and I don't let anyone tell me otherwise. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the prejudice within our own community is pressuring people to consider sexuality and gender as something that must be made the same at all costs, even though we are constantly saying that those are two seperate things. The hypocrisy of some people just drives me nuts.

Perhaps my situation is unique, but I highly doubt it. What's more likely is that there are many people out there like me, but they are afraid to admit it because when they do, they have to deal with people like you calling them men. And there's really no point in that except to insult the person.

I will admit that there are people, like the one in my scenario above, who are not genuine transsexuals, and there are people who make the wrong decisions. It's not up to me to point that out to them though - it's their own busines, their own life, and if they want to fuck it up, then it's their own problem. I feel concern for those people, and I will occasionally give my opinion and try to help them sort out their own feelings, but I have no business telling someone they are not who or what they claim to be. I love discussing this kind of thing, I listen carefully to the opinions I hear, and occasionally something will cause me to re-think my situation, but that's what I'm going to do - re-think it, not just adopt someone else's thinking.

There is a lot of discussion on transgender mailing lists about how to classify, divide, and identify people. Do you not understand that all that does is serve to classify and divide us? It doesn't do anybody any good to try to apply taxonomy to our situation. That's one issue that we constantly complain about... that society wants to throw every human being into two discrete sexes. How can we complain about that, and at the same time be arguing about classifications within our own community? Don't try to force me into a box, I won't go, and you're likely to get scratched up trying to put me in there.

That's my morning rant :)
Now back to some real work!


The wolf is in the henhouse... because he sounded like a hen.

This is a portion of a discussion from another site. It's about customer service call centers in India... Here's what someone had to say in response to "Bill" who complained that Indian phone operators were lying about their names (in italics). My response follows.

sushila wrote:
Bill - just to clarify - people are not made to "lie about who they are"...it's actually part of their training in India - believe it or not - it's a whole new industry back home (my home ie) - entire training institutes have sprung up where they teach Indians to speak "American" - change their name to one that's easily recognized by Americans etc..someone with my name (eg.) would just be shortened to Sue but complicated non-translatable Indian names (of which there're zillions) would be changed to Jill, Jane and Mary etc.

As for the outsourcing issue - guess I've just been lucky - I've never lost a job because of this - maybe it's because I've been working mostly on govt. contracts. [smilie:Errmmm...]

Lastly - it's funny about the language problems that many have complained about when dealing with Indians - I have come across very few people here in America who have even a modicum of the communication skills that many of the Indians I know have - so if language was the sole reason why there must be no outsourcing then there really is little to choose from... [smilie:Smile]

Guess it really all boils down to where you get the most bang for your buck - [smilie:Shocked]

Here's my response:
I will admit that American isn't exactly the same language as English, and that many Indian people speak English better than most Americans. However, what you're saying is that people, who aren't forced to, but decide to lie about their names and fake their accents are just doing the same thing everybody else does, so it must be ok? A whole industry has sprung up to teach people how to deceive others and this is seen as a good thing? And then if they learn to do it well enough, they can come over here and work for our government?! Sorry to be blunt but I have a problem with that. Is this the price of capitalism?

I support the progress that the world is making in international commerce. I think it will likely be the force that finally brings humanity together in peace, but I would rather speak to a 'Mohinder' who's honest with me and trying his best, than a 'Moe' who isn't Moe, but plays one on the phone.

Please comment,


Why do we fight?

Transgender people sometimes get into some heated arguments over who's really a transsexual and who's not. This can be extremely frustrating to people, particularly when they are just coming out. Sometimes people are having valuable discussions and they simply disagree. That's a positive thing because it helps others figure out their own opinions. I think what makes it difficult is when someone assumes that, simply because you are transgender, you should all agree on everything, or since you don't agree with something, you are not transgender.

There's a large group of folks out there who are all hung up on the idea of defining what it means to be a 'real' transsexual. That, I think, is simply male egotism - it's "I'm a better tranny than you", and it's completely unnecessary. So, if someone calls you out for being less than genuine, you're well within your right to call them a man, which is how they are acting. Trying to get respect for the choices we make is a battle we fight every day, and it's hypocritical for one of us to disrespect the way that someone else chooses to identify. If it's out of genuine concern, like for someone who's rushing into SRS and not thinking first, then by all means help that person, but don't turn it into a pissing contest. Leave that for the men.

Some people are totally fixated on surgery. They don't understand the non-op decision. They don't fathom the possibility that gender identity is about how the world sees you and how you feel inside, and not about the parts you carry around. I fully expect people to treat me as a woman the rest of my life whether I decide to have surgery or not. I like my sexual organs actually... and a good number of people will say that makes me 'not transsexual'. I have no tolerance for that viewpoint, and the associated bashing that goes along with it. I don't go around on the street asking women to prove that they have a vagina... it's nobody's business, and it does not define your gender identity - YOU define your gender identity, which is what the transgender community has been saying all along.

I've been known to disagree strongly with people about certain subjects, mostly politics, but I don't disrespect anyone's choice about how they want to identify. Admitting to yourself that you are TG is serious stuff, often quite painful, and once someone comes to that realisation, it's completely pointless and quite hurtful for others to come along and disagree with that.

I think all human beings enjoy an argument, but when the argument turns into a testosterone-fueled ego trip... well that's just wrong. We are NOT IN COMPETITION with each other... we are sisters in a really tough position. We are not going to agree on everything, but we should at least agree to respect the decisions that others make.

Take care of each other!

PS: People have gone so far with me as to tell me to stop using such a whorish name! How insulting is that! This is the name that hundreds of people know me by, and I realise it's not the most passable name, but jeez...


Picks: NFL Week 12

Note: Games in bold I picked right, and games in italics, I biffed. Games in normal type have not been played yet.

Lions over Dolphins
Cowpies over Buccaneers
Broncos over Chiefs
Colts over Eagles
Giants over Titans
Ravens over Steelers
Falcons over Saints
Bengals over Browns
Bills over Jaguars
Redskins over Panthers
49ers over Rams
Vikings over Cardinals
Patriots over Bears
Jets over Texans
Chargers over Raiders
Seahawks over Packers

That's 11 correct picks. Won again at the office.


Guess I won't be marrying Howie Mandel anytime soon

So I usually don't play the "Lucky Case Game" on Deal Or No Deal wtih Howie Mandel, but I realised the money is almost always in case 1 or 6, and that the votes usually fall in the standard distribution, with 1 and 6 being the least picked. Very strange considering sometimes they show the current votes in the middle of the show. Anyway, what's weird about it is that when I sent in my vote, here's the message I got back (verbatim):

From: 59595 Thx 4 playing. Vote 10X Max-$.99/vote othr chrges may apply. Watch DOND 4 winner-Howie is married with 3 kids. Watch DOND Thanksgiving nite-U could win $100K 7:25pm 11/20/06

WTF? Why does it say Howie has a wife and 3 kids?

Also, I watched the show a while back and a young lady had some bad bank offers, followed by a better one, for ONE DOLLAR more than the previous offer. At that point, Howie went into some kind of banter about "you know what that means", and they immediately opened the contestant case revealing the highest remaining amount on the board. What? Somebody please tell me what that's about?


Joan Collins

I think Joan Collins is one of the most beautiful women to ever live. That's it. Enjoy the photos...

I think all these photos are public domain. If any are not, let me know and I will take it down.

Picks: NFL Week 11

I've won the office pool two weeks in a row, and a few times before that. On two seperate weeks I got all games correct. I've won the office pool more than anyone else in the office, so I decided to post my picks each week. Feel free to use them if you like, but keep in mind: I know nothing about football, don't check the odds, and don't know the teams. I make my picks from psychic intuition. Anyway, here's Week 11:

Rams over Panthers
Redskins over Buccaneers
Titans over Eagles
Bears over Jets
Saints over Bengals
Vikings over Dolphins
Chiefs over Raiders
Patriots over Packers
Browns over Steelers
Colts over Cowpies
Ravens over Falcons
Texans over Bills
49ers over Seahawks (hmmm...)
Lions over Cardinals
Broncos over Chargers
Giants over Jaguars (Monday)

I'll post the winners on Monday and how many I got right (correct ones are in bold).


Roll-your-own login database with SQL and C#.NET

This is all pretty simple really. There's two parts to it: a database to store usernames and passwords, and code to validate the user on the web page or application. This code can be used in C#.NET applications, or in the code-behind files of ASP.NET applications. It will translate to VB fairly simply, but the SQL part would remain the same whether you use VB, C# or anything else.

First, we will create a database table and stored procedures to store new users and validate the existing users. In this example I will not use encryption, but if you wanted to, these same database principles would apply. For SQL Server 2000 and later editions, you can create a case-sensitive column when you declare your table, so to enforce case-sensitivity, we will nip any problems in the bud right here. Here's the code to create the table:

create table user_login (
 rep_id int identity(1,1) NOT NULL,
 username varchar(100) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CS_AS NOT NULL,
 password varchar(100) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CS_AS NOT NULL

The COLLATE statements cause SQL server to treat these columns as case-sensitive in all queries from now on. This is a really great feature because programmers can't mess this up, no matter what, these columns will be case-sensitive. In order to increase performance, you should create an index on this table for the username column. You may also consider declaring (username + password) to be the primary key and making that the clustered index. If you have different user levels on your site, you should store the user level in this table, and add it to the stored procedures below as well. This table could also be used to store contact information for the user, but I prefer to store that in another table (using the rep_id to join), which keeps the login table fast, particularly if there are a lot of users. Now that our table is created, we need stored procedures to interact with it. The reasons to use stored procs are too numerous to list, but in this case, we are looking for security, and we want to avoid SQL Injection attacks if at all possible. Using stored procs exclusively is a great first step in the security battle. Another step will be shown later and the third step, encryption, will not be discussed here, but is a great addition to any security model. We need two stored procs, one to create new users, and one to validate existing users.

create proc create_user
 @username varchar(100),
 @password varchar(100)
declare @result int
--first make sure this is a valid new user
--username must be unique
if exists (select 1 from user_login where username = @username) begin
 set @result = -1
end else begin
 insert user_login (username, password)
 select @username, @password
 set @result = @@identity

select result = @result
return @result    

create proc validate_user
 @username varchar(100),
 @password varchar(100)
declare @result int

if exists (select 1 from rep where username = @username and password = @password) begin
 select @result = rep_id from rep where username = @username and password = @password
end else begin
 select @result = -1
select result = @result
return @result

These procs are fairly straightforward. The first one creates a new user. If the user was not created because of non-unique username, then the proc returns -1, otherwise it will return the ID of the new user. The second procedure is similar. It takes the username and password, and returns the ID of the user who logged in. If the login is incorrect, the proc returns -1. In order to make things easier on the recieving end, I 'select out' the values, as well as 'return' them from both procs. This gives me options in picking up that value in client apps.

In order to prevent SQL Injection attacks, we need to check all user input if it is going to be used in an SQL command string. This should be done with web apps or windows apps, since users may be malicious in either case. The following simple function will negate most attempts at SQL Injection, by replacing all occurences of '(single quote) with ''(two single quotes) and \(blackslash) with \ (two backslashes).

private string sql_fix(string s) {
 return s.Replace("'", "''").Replace("\\", "\\\\");

Interestingly enough, this allows usernames or passwords with any number of single quotation marks or backslashes. In order to use our new database, we will need code to create new users. This code can be written very simply in C#. Assuming you have correctly opened your database connection, and you have some form elements with the new username and password, you can create a new user with the following C# code. I've used the sql_fix() function here, since this is user input being passed to SQL Server.

public int create_user(string username, string password) {
 int result = -1;
 SqlCommand cmd = new SqlCommand("exec create_user '" + sql_fix(username) + "', '" + sql_fix(password) + "'", conn);
 SqlDataReader r = c.ExecuteReader();
 if (r.GetInt32(0) > 0) {
  //we got a positive number back, so it worked
  result = r.GetInt32(0);
 } else {
  throw new Exception("User creation failed");
 return result;

This method mimics the behavior of the SQL proc it's tied to, returning the ID of the user who was created, or throwing an exception if the user creation failed. You could modify the stored proc and this function to indicate a better error message, by sending an error code or message back from the stored proc. You could also pick up this value and use it in your application to do further interaction with the new user. To validate a user, you simply call our other stored procedure and act accordingly. In this example, I'm just going to throw an exception if the login is incorrect, but you could handle the situation any way you see fit. I've used the sql_fix() function again to avoid any possible SQL Injection attacks.

public int validate_user(string username, string password) {
 int result = -1;
 SqlCommand c = new SqlCommand("exec validate_user '" + sql_fix(username) + "', '" + sql_fix(password) + "'", conn);
 SqlDataReader r = c.ExecuteReader();
 if (r.GetInt32(0) > 0) {
  //we got a positive number back, so they are an authorised user
  result = r.GetInt32(0);
 } else {
  throw new Exception("Incorrect login");
 return result; //this will be -1 unless updated by a successful login

This method again mimics it's SQL proc, returning the ID of the user who logged in. By using these two functions with your database, you should be able to manage user logins simply and effectively. You may wish to add encryption to this, and further validation of the username and password strings (ie: to check for 'strong' passwords in user creation), but this should give you a good basis to get started with. Please leave comments if you have any questions and I will be able to answer them for everyone!

Have fun with it!



So, it's now exactly 2:45AM, and I'm watching a re-run of Saturday Night Live. Not too surprising really, but I just saw the best Public Service Announcement I've ever seen. Everyone wonders about this, but I really need to know... why is this on at 2:45 AM, when nobody is going to see it? Of course, I did see it, so maybe airing these commercials at this time of night isn't completely asinine. Maybe the TV station analysed the options and determined that this time of night was best to hit their target audience for this ad. I don't know, but I do know that running the ad during prime time would help a whole lot more. Why are the ads on prime-time so stupid, and the juicy ones that could help people are on at 2:45AM? This doesn't make any sense, so I'm writing to the TV station and I'll let y'all know what they say.
Stay groovy!


Boulder, you used to be so cool

Dear Boulder,
Hey what's up with you, man? You used to be so cool, always coming over to hang out and being all about peace and love and groovy stuff. Now we can't even come play footbag on your lawn?! I used to love you, but now you've totally sold out. I can't even stand to see you like this anymore. You suck. Come on, man, get it together.

Your best old friend,


re: Calling Me Out on Anti-Discrimination Laws

This is my response from someone who thinks my previous blog is dead wrong. Here's what they had to say

*sigh*...Jasmine, hon...I applaud your "standing up" for what you see as right. But *I* have to disagree with you on several points.

First off, legal or political grandstanding aside, I would guess that, in fact, Danielle *was* fired for being transgendered. Does this company employ women? (...As the columnist pointed out; yes, they do.) Are any women employed in the position that Danielle held? We don't know that; and it is cogent to the legal ramifications. However, if they have *ever* employed a female (GG, TG, or Martian Amazon) in such a position (or one of a similar pay grade, or level of responsibility), the case falls apart. It's *very* difficult to assess the ramifications of this court decision, without the facts; yet you (*and* Mr. Harsanyi both) make blithe assumptions based simply on the verdict. We don't know what evidence was presented, or the levels of competence of the Counsels for the Defense and/or Prosecution. It is possible that Lead Counsel for the Defense had an emergency appendectomy, and the "second chair" screwed up the case. Or not. Is there going to be an appeal? This is also an indicitve point.

My second point involves Mr. Harsanyi's assertion that anyone who hires a TG person, and then fires them, encounters a very real risk of being sued...a point that you categorically deny. Hon, I work for the Federal Government. I have been directly involved in "prejudice" charges involving hiring; and have had the opportunity to observe several other such charges, for terminations, and disciplinary actions. I also happen to be a member of the TG community, Let me be *very* clear on this; TG's are like *everyone* else. *Some* are decent, honest, honorable, and hard-working. *Others* are deceitful, lazy, and manipulative. Have you ever heard the term "playing the Race card"? ...well, it works the same way for us. The columnist has a valid point; and a potential employer has a valid concern. In my experience (and talking to Federal HR personnel, *and* Union members, as well); the observation is that about 70% of such "prejudice" claims are patently fraudulent. But the plaintiff fires from an open choke, and hopes to hit *something*...an overly sympathetic judge, a supervisor or manager who doesn't want the hassle of the endless mediations; or a mistake in the proceedings, that will give them a foot in the door. Such people often file claims over and over, for every possible slight, until they get what they want. I would also point out that, having been a member of the TG community for several years, and hearing many such discussions; I have observed that a lot of "disadvantaged" people or groups (of which we are only one) appear to *enjoy* being "down-trodden"...it makes them Special. When they are treated like everyone else (as they are constantly demanding), all of a sudden it's "unfair.and illegal."

My third point is the basic concept of Personal Rights...and that is that *your* rights end where *mine* (or anyone else's) begin. Mr. Harsanyi pointed this out obliquely in his column. If I believe that keeping animals penned up is cruelty; do I have the right to run around, releasing all the dogs in town from their yards? If I believed in nudity; don't I have the right to walk down the street naked? *shrug*...some would say that there is a world of difference between dressing in clothing of the "opposite" gender, and walking around with your Tallywhacker (or your Bewbies) hanging out. Others would say that it's exactly the same thing. Who is right? That is a delicate decision, for the courts to decide. And courts are swayed by public opinion.

SO....until-and-unless a majority of the American (or at least the State) population recognise (and *accept*) TGs and their lifestyle as mainstream; it will continue to be a point of contention. I am glad that there is discussion on this subject; it makes the topic more accessible to mainstream America. But it is *not* as plain and obvious as you make it out. Want to change it? Then go downtown to your local Redneck bar, and convince 'em. *Shrug*...Change is a slow process.

We would *all* do better with a bit of tolerance. Would we be better of *without* the Carrie Nation's, the Rosa Parks'es, the Dr King's? ...probably not. But I think that your reaction was way out of proportion to what appeared (to me) to be a fairly well-balanced opinion article. You are entitled to your opinion, but Mr Harsanyi is entitled to his, as well; and I don't think that it was terribly out-of-line.

And that's *my* opnion...worth what you paid for it.


(anyone want this soapbox?...I think I'm done with it...)

Below is my response

I realise there is an element of realism missing from my opinion, but realism won't help advance our cause. Idealistic thinking is what causes political progress. The arguments must be polarized. If we all went around being realistic all the time, there wouldn't be any need for the democratic process... we would all be in agreement already since there is only one reality.

This is a case of someone being treated correctly by the law, and someone else complaining about it due to his irrational fears and ignorance of the situation. That is what really burns me up - that people irrationally fear us because they choose to be ignorant about the situation. I am aware that people file frivoulous lawsuits, but that's not the situation here, and the point is that having the law doesn't cause the cases. The immoral people (including the lawyers) who file the lawsuits are the problem, not the law. The problem of unfounded lawsuits is not specific to the discrimination issue, and it really needs to be considered separately. Every new law could potentially increase the amount of unfounded lawsuits. That factor can not be considered when examining the validity of a new law.

The article implies that Danielle somehow received 'special treatment' because she is transgender, but the ruling makes it perfectly clear that this is not the case. We don't need to be privy to every iota of the evidence to understand that. People need to understand that while there are good reasons for firing employees, there are also ILLEGAL reasons for doing it, and those reasons are illegal no matter who the person is - even if they are not from a marginalized minority group. This case would have been an illegal firing regardless of the transgender issue. That's an important point because it means that this person wasn't given any special treatment.

I don't think anyone should be given special treatment, but people should be restrained, legally, from acting on their hate. That is the purpose of anti-discrimination laws in the first place, not to provide 'special rights' to any group, but to ensure the same rights for groups that are targetted unfairly by the majority. If this person was fired for being a poor employee, then the case would have gone the other way. I'm fairly confident in that, regardless of your observations. As a manager for Domino's Pizza, I have been through the frivoulous lawsuit before. It was a simple matter for us to show documentaion that the employee was fired for being consistently late (time cards), being rude (customer complaints), and breaking the law (theft of company property, with police reports). That stuff didn't keep the person from whining to the court about fired for being Russian, but the company was acting legally and we could prove it. The case was a minor pain in the ass for us, but there was absolutely no chance of it going the wrong way.

In the vast majority of cases employers are not that responsible. At that point, it's one word against another, because we can't read someone's mind and figure out the real reasons for the firing. There were no unbiased observers of the situation, so we are left to look at the evidence. In most legal cases, it is possible to prove that a crime occured and who committed it, but in discrimination cases, it's usually not that explicit. In this case, the court found that Danielle was a good employee, and should not have been fired due to job performance. They also found that the company had no grounds for randomly downsizing its workforce - that the business is healthy and not failing. When the court looked at the possible reasons for firing this person, every reason was eliminated except one. Therefore, we are forced to assume that the remaining reason is the correct one, unless it can also be proven false. This is not the way we normally prove criminal intent in our court system, leaving the whole thing open to interpretation. It's not clear why this person was fired, and it never will be. The legal system is not perfect, but that doesn't mean it's flawed either. In this case, things probably went the way they are supposed to.

I am insulted by the article's suggestion that, regardless of employment-related factors, keeping your job may be as easy as putting on a dress. People who transition at work don't do it to keep their jobs. Many of us delay our transitions because we fear firing, or because we respect our co-workers and don't want to disrupt company operations. We take this decision seriously. Current laws on the books in some counties in Colorado require documentation of transgender status if you wish to 'crossdress' at work. Without that documentation, you are violating the dress code, and should be let go. These laws provide conscientious transgender people who are honest about their transitions with a vehicle for ensuring that their transition doesn't result in unfair treatment. We need laws like that on a national scale. This is the same as anti-discrimination laws regarding races, disabilities and so on.

The vast majority of people think transitioning is a choice that a person doesn't have to make, and therefore, if they make that choice, they deserve whatever smack-down society wants to throw at them. The public needs to realize that transitioning, for many of us, is no more a choice than being African, Mexican, or a paraplegic. It's something we have to do, and we don't deserve to get fired for it, any more than a Mexican person deserves to get fired for being born that way. Editorial articles that ignore this FACT are irresponsible, and serve no other purpose than to hurt our community by reinforcing these false assumptions in the collective public mind.

I could go on forever about this, but the point is, regardless of the specifics of this case, we don't need articles in the newspaper spreading lies and distrust about our community. If the editorial opinion was based on the truth, and the reporter still had the same conclusion, then I wouldn't have a leg to stand on, but this argument has been attempted before. Read that article again and replace every instance of 'transgender' with 'african', and tell me that's not irresponsible journalism. These are the same arguments that people were making years ago about the racial discrimination problem. The argument is as wrong now as it was then.


PS: If the employer had said "we fired her because we are in the construction business and it's bad for our reputation to have transsexual people working here. Customers won't call us for fear that 'the freak' will show up to do the job, and they don't want that in their business," then they would have won the case, but instead they tried to show that they had a business-related reason, and they failed. For more insight into that technicality, contrast "Ulane vs. Eastern Airlines" (court found that transgender people ARE protected from sex discrimination under Title VII) and "Holloway vs. Arthur Andersen" where the court found that:

"Transsexuals claiming discrimination because of their sex, male or female, would clearly state a cause of action under Title VII. Holloway has not claimed to have been treated discriminatorily because she is male or female, but rather because she is a transsexual who chose to change her sex. This type of claim is not actionable under Title VII and is certainly not in violation of the doctrines of Due Process and Equal Protection."


Denver Post Held Hostage by Columnist?

This is a letter I sent to the editor of the Denver Post regarding this article (opens in a new window).

As a transgender American and concerned citizen, I am extremely frightened by David Harsanyi's opinion regarding the case of Danielle Cornwell. It is even more frightening that his ignorance on this subject is shared by many of my fellow Americans. He has no understanding of this case, the transgender condition, or the purpose and result of anti-discrimination laws. He makes three main points in his article: that Danielle Cornwell's case was about a person being fired for being transgender; that the transgender condition is as simple as putting on a dress; and that protecting transgender people would lead to problems. He is wrong on all three points, and here's why.

First, Danielle Cornwall's ruling was not based on her transgender status. It was based solely on the fact that she is a woman. It is clear from the court ruling that the case was decided on the basis of Danielle's gender being female in the eyes of the law. This ruling doesn't add anything to constitutional law, and it doesn't re-interpret the existing law. David wrote, "clearly she wasn't fired for being a woman." This isn't the case and the judge's ruling is clear on that. Additionally, the employer denied firing her for being transgender (which is legal and would have cleared them), but they had no other substantial reason for firing her.

Several times in the article, David implies that Danielle's transgender nature is simply a case of a person wanting to crossdress at work. He states that Danielle was previously a man, and that recently he informed his employer "that he was going to begin wearing women's clothing." In the next sentence he mentions that she is scheduled for sexual reassignment surgery, as if it's almost parenthetical. It's not. This statement is a key point, and David completely missed the value of it. Being transgender is not the same as crossdressing. Crossdressing is clearly not allowed in the workplace, and an employer's right to enforce gender-different dress codes has been defended time and again in the courts. Danielle's case is quite different. She is transsexual, and has no doubt endured a torturous journey because of it. Transitioning can take years and transitioning on the job is usually one of the last steps. The decision to transition is not taken lightly, and I'm insulted by David's suggestion that it is. Standards of care for transgender people require a period of full-time living in the person's chosen gender before they can be approved for surgery (usually one year). Remaining gainfully employed during this period is crucial, unless David would prefer to support us on welfare while we undergo this necessary process.

He goes on to say "If a company hires a transgender person, they know that firing them - for any reason - will probably lead to legal action." History tells us this is not the case. Companies regularly hire people of minority races, the disabled, and women without fear of being "held hostage" if they wish to fire the person. I'm pretty sure David doesn't think we should repeal all laws protecting classes of people from employment discrimination. We as a society have decided that explicit discrimination is legally wrong. The case with tall and short people is not discrimination, as the cited article makes perfectly clear, if you read it. David claims that Danielle was clearly not fired for being a woman. OK, if she was fired for being transgender, then doesn't that make it perfectly clear that transgender people do need protection under the law? Anti-discrimination laws serve the purpose of making sure people aren't fired for unfair reasons. Is David suggesting that firing someone for being transgender is fair? He clearly states that he respects our right to exist this way, so why shouldn't we be protected?

Enforcement of equal rights is not called dependence, David. It's called freedom, and I have a deep respect for that concept. America is the flagship of Freedom in the world, and we don't have any laws protecting the transgendered, which puts us woefully behind the rest of the world, including Canada, most of Europe, Japan, and even IRAN! The UN recently reprimanded the United States for being behind on these laws, and I'm embarrassed to be living in a place that the rest of the world sees as a backward country, but I love America and I think it's the greatest country in the world. As long as I'm here, I'm going to fight for fair and equal treatment for all of us, and so should you.

Jasmine Danielle Adamson
Lakewood, CO


IT Job Market Sucks Rocks!

Recently in the IT job market there has been a major dry spell. Economics tells us that IT workers are in demand, but when we look for work, we see something contradictory. What is going on?

I think what happened is actually that workers are facing a different type of competition than we are used to in the IT field. It used to be based entirely on coding ability, and hiring decision-makers had some handle on how to judge coding ability. Now, our competition is a world of barely-trained hacks, who are capable of listing buzzwords on their resumes, but barely fulfill the job requirements. When I'm requiring 70K and some hack is only requiring 50K, the managers think they are getting a better deal going with the lower-quality applicant. They know they will get lower-quality work, but they don't care.

Thus, we (skilled IT people) are competing with people who normally wouldn't be competetive with us. Hiring managers don't know what to do... they aren't techies and they don't understand how to determine the skill level of a programmer. Furthermore, HR people don't have any ability to look at project requirements and turn those into job requirements. The best they can do is copy and paste all the acronyms from the project requirements to their Monster advert. HR is seriously misunderstanding the process of hiring IT people. When you compound that situation with an enourmous number of hacks out there, an obviously tricky situation arises.

The solution is this: get developers involved in the hiring process! In 5 minutes I can make a determination about coding ability that an HR manager may never be able to make. I can also design tests that focus on the areas which are important to us. That is, rather than asking for a certification for all of the .NET Framework, and hoping that will cover what we need, I create a test to gauge the applicant's ability with, for example, SQL Stored Procedures and hand coding HTML. See... I know that I don't really need an expert on .Net, but rather someone who can do the specific things we need for this specific project. Sharp developers who come into that situation will be able to expand their abilities and help with other projects eventually, but if what we need right now is someone with a specific set of abilities, all to often the HR department is ignoring that and looking for an applicant with skills that can be broken down nicely into acronyms and buzzwords.

So to sum that all up, there's 3 main things messing up the IT job market right now:

1. There are a huge number of hacks and wannabes out there competing for the jobs. This includes hacks and wannabes from India and other far-off places.

2. HR people can't tell the hacks from the hackers. The usual techniques to identify good candidates don't work for IT, and HR can't seem to figure that out.

3. The divide between developers and the rest of the company is almost anti-social, so developers are often not involved in the hiring process. This makes it even more difficult for HR to spot the good candidates.

To solve these issues there's a few things I think you can do to compete better in the job market:

1. Make sure your skills are up to date, and you can prove it. That means, have a web site, an application, a game, something YOU developed or managed that you can put in the interviewers hands and show them. Be ready for coding tests or physical tests of your ability. If an employer doesn't do this, I think they are asking for trouble. Coders and Administrators can easily be tested on their abilities, and a good test result should be 50% or more of the hiring decision. I'm not talkin about certification-style tests here, I'm talking about actually having the person sit down and write some code, or perform some task where their performance can be measured. My HTML test covers only the ability to hand-code HTML. It has one question and a million answers, but the applicant either passes or fails the points we are judging on. Certifications are worthless in this regard, because they tend to measure knowledge, rather than ability. I've worked with more than a few developers who had certifications in things they still didn't know how to do.

2. Improve your image! This is particularly important for women. I know it seems like a trivial thing and that hiring decisions should be based on ability rather than fashion, but the reality is, we live in a world that is very superficial. IT people are already seen as an anti-social bunch, and the common appearance-related choices that IT folks tend to make, are part of the reason for that. I worked with a guy once who was an absolute genius, but was impossible to be around. He smelled funny, had gobs of unruly facial hair, had some wierd religious notions that he wasn't discrete about, and other problems. Genius ability didn't matter too much for this guy when it came to who to cut from the team. You don't have to look like a magazine cover, but shower, shave and keep your religious icons tucked in if you must wear them. For women, you need to be dressed nicely for the interview, but can tone it down after hire. Do something with your hair and makeup which is not excessive but professional. If you don't know how to use makeup (as is the case with many geek chix), learn to wear mascara and lip gloss at the least. I know it sounds trivial, but trust me, it will make a huge difference in how people react to you.

3. Improve your social skills. I have the job I have today because I was the only applicant capable of having a conversation. I was lucky because the CEO and I both have a love of race cars, so that led to a natural conversation topic, but if you're a cold rock, people are not going to want to work with you. In this area, you are overcoming a stereotype. HR people expect IT folks to be anti-social, so the cards are stacked against you. HR people also expect IT applicants to be dishonest about their skills (see #1). It is important that you come across as a friendly and trustworthy person. One trick I use to accomplish this is to talk openly about my shortcomings. I mention skills I would like to learn and things I would like to improve on, and make it clear that I actually do intend to improve in those areas. This makes me seem more human and more honest I think. Avoid seeming arrogant at all costs! I made this mistake once when I told an interviewer I didn't have the skill he was asking for, but I could learn it over the weekend. The statement was probably true, but came across as me being an arrogant bitch. This will hurt a male applicant, but kill a woman. Having good social skills puts you miles ahead of the other applicants. I had a boss actually tell me that was the reason I got the job, instead of a guy with a Ph.D. who also applied. He said he 'enjoyed the interview' with me a lot more than with the guy, who couldn't converse in English with a normal human being.

4. If you are a woman, be aware of the double-standard. I find that female interviewers can be even more judgemental in this respect than the men. That is, female HR people are MORE prejudiced against women, than their male counterparts. I think also that men tend to see an attractive woman as a potential positive addition to the environment, while women are mostly indifferent about that aspect. Men like to have lovely women around. It's just a fact of life. If you're friendly and attractive, without going over the top, you will make headway with the men. I know this seems sexist, and it is, but it's realistic also. Attractive women have an advantage with male recruiters. However, if you cross the line from 'attractive' to 'sexy'... your hosed. Don't go there. Be professional... think Hillary Clinton. Women will face suspicion about their skills to a greater degree than men, so number 1 above is even more important for women.

I hope this helps folks out there. I had a hard time finding a position until I realised and accepted some of these ideas. A little luck is nice too. Of course all the normal job-hunting things apply, but these additional issues are making it harder for IT people to compete in the job market.

Happy Hunting!


America's T-Girl?!

I love America. I think it's the best country in the world. I love the spacious skies, the amber waves of grain, and all that. However, the greatest reason of all to love this country is under attack, and that's why I'm here to defend it as America's T-Girl. This is a little thing I call the American Ideal, embodied in the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. These ideals are being ignored on a daily basis, and not just by the politicians, by average Americans as well. There's a growing number of people in this country who simply don't understand what the most basic law of this land actually means.

I declared myself America's T-Girl simply because I can, but I do have a mission here. I want to show that "American" and "T-Girl" (or whatever word you want), are not incompatible terms. Our community is facing a huge challenge in the political and social arena, and we need to show the world that we are Americans, just like any others. We love our kids, go to church, pay taxes, worry about our careers, and go about our daily business. We deserve, as do all Americans, to be able to carry out our lives in peace. Some people do not think we deserve those rights. Those people have forgotten what country they live in, and I'm here to remind them that they live in the greatest country in the world!


Crossdressing 101 - The MFAQ

If you prefer to read this on my web site, it's also posted there.

I've been struggling with transgender issues all my life and I wasn't able to do anything about it for nearly 32 years, so I'm well aware that it's hard to get out of the closet. I participate in many email lists and groups designed to help various types of crossdressers with various issues. There's everything from fetish groups to hormone and surgery groups. I try to give the best I can to those forums because if it wasn't for the Internet, many of us would still be in the closet. If it wasn't for people communicating with me, I would never have been able to do the things I do now. However, sometimes these groups annoy me a little bit and I get a little touchy. What bugs me, for a whole bunch of reasons, is that people ask the same questions over and over again, and we post the same answers over and over again.

As I said, I do like to help, so I do answer questions the best way I can, but there is one questions that, after a while, I felt had been asked and answered too much... way too much. And so I present to you (drumroll please), the MFAQ - Mother Frequently Asked Question. It goes something like this:

I've been crossdressing for 87 years in private, and I want to go out as [insert femalename here], but I'm just not sure what to do. My wife [does or doesn't] know about myurges, and she [is or isn't] upset about it. Do you know where I can get a makeover? I'm just not sure I'll be passable - I can do some makeup and whatnot, but I just don't know... What do I do?

Now obviously, this is a really good question, and I do feel it deserves a really good answer. I respect the situation here, buit I see this all the time and there's really only one thing to do. This question has been asked so many times it will make your head spin, so I looked up an answer of mine from the archive. Here's how I answered the frightened crossdresser, from a Motel 6 one lonely night in Utah (with slight edits):

If you want to become a more passable crossdresser or learn to have comfortable fun with your fetishes or become a fabulous drag queen, here's what you do:

Take your balls out from between your legs and get your wimpering candy ass out there in the real world and meet some real people already! You've been a man all your life. Act like it.

Now that I got that out of my system... I will admit, I was terrified the first time I went out as a girl. I very nearly had a heart attack I'm sure. I adjusted very quickly, and some people will not have that experience, and I understand that it can be frightening, but it absolutely has to be done. You need to make a decision about whether you are going to be a closet crossdresser forever (which is ok, by the way), or whether you want to go out in public. Once you've decided that, you should let nothing stand in your way, including your own fears, finances, other people, and so on...

Now, I'm not saying a person has to get their girl on and become fully entrenched in the community on some random Friday night, but go out in boy mode or something and meet people. I did that a lot. People were always surprised to see me at BJ's [a Denver Drag Bar] as a boy, but until I really got the hang of things, I just had too many problems being a girl all the time. However, when I got to the point where I was ready for that, I already knew a good number of people in the community and was good friends with a few crossdressers and drag queens, so I had a support system in place when Jasmine finally showed up on the scene. There is nothing wrong with going and hanging out at gay bars and trying to get to know people. There should be no fear involved with that, and it will ease your fears about crossdressing as well. Once you get to know a few people, see how comfortable we are, how others react to us, and you realize the full breadth of the rainbow of various CD expressions, it will help alleviate most of those fears.

Also, you need to realize that when you decide to publicly crossdress, your existing community will get smaller. You will need the support system of the crossdressers, admirers, barkeepers, and so on, to replace the people you will lose. 50% of transsexuals kill themselves. Current data tells us that a common element in suicides is lack of a support system of close friends. I am telling you this from personal experience. You don't want to be sitting at home at 3am alone and drunk off your ass after having a bad crossdressing-related experience, and have no one to call and talk to about it. Trust me on that one.

The other major reason to get involved in the community in real life, is because people can help you. Yes, people will help you! I can't stress that enough. I have photos from my early days that I simply will never show people. I started out as a total mess! There were several people in the community that saw a lot of potential in me, and I made those relationships work to our mutual advantage. I did a lot of charity work as a drag queen, and I helped organize shows and so on. In turn, I gained a lot of respect and people were eager and happy to answer my questions and help me out with makeup advice, hair, clothes, and so on. Heck, one night Kelly Micheals took me in the dressing room at BJ's and completely re-did my face! I've been doing it pretty much that same way, with a few improvements, ever since. But in 20 minutes, she showed me things I could never have learned from a makeover shop, or on the internet, or anywhere else, and it CHANGED MY LIFE! The time that people have spent with me has changed my whole life, not just made me a better crossdresser, but gave me a new outlook and allowed me to face the world as Jasmine without having a heart attack. Now, the folks at Studio Lites and Phyllis's Fantasies have helped me as well, but not as shopkeepers so much as friends and fellow drag queens. Phyllis is a great person, and I have modeled for her shop in a fashion show, and I appreciate her greatly. I count Phyllis among my very good friends, but I still wouldn't advise getting a makeover from her shop.

Now I'm not sayin you need to go out and become a drag show organiser or something, but you need to be seen and get to know a few people. The community is somewhat segmented, and you will have to figure out where you fit in. At any rate, you will be getting valuable experience and you will be sure to have a good time! Now that I am living in a place without a TG community, I value this experience even more. I feel quite strongly on this subject and I do not mean to offend anyone, rather I hope you will be inspired by my words and motivated to chase your dreams! I think a strong TG community is imperative for the future of crossdressers and the American community in general, and the more activity we have, the better. So go on girls! Get on with your bad self :)

Have a groovy day!

PS: One more thing. Be ladylike. Be ultimately polite and respectful to everyone, even moreso to the people you don't like - this is the classy woman's way. Don't touch people, keep your dick in your skirt, keep other people out of your skirt (seriously), don't be a bitch to anyone no matter how rude they are, don't ever, ever leave BJ's with any men you don't know, especially if you have had more than 2 drinks (take that from personal experience, too).


History of the World: Part Jasmine

I really didn't want to get into the heavy stuff right away, but this had to be done. I want people to get to know me, so I decided to post a little (well, not so little) introduction to myself. I decided to make this a historical photo essay of my life as a girl so far. I'll get straight into it.

My journey into the transgender world started a little differently than some. I had not 'experimented' with crossdressing at all... I decided I wanted to do it, found a friend to help me, bought some clothes and makeup, borrowed a wig, and got dressed. I had a friend do my makeup, and she picked a name that would stick to this day. Then went immediately out to the gay bars of Denver on a Thursday night (2-20-2003). I started out like many girls do, as a fetishy Drag Queen.

I was a total disaster, see? OK, so maybe it wasn't horrible and all, but I could have done better. I spent a lot of time having fun in the club circuit, sometimes going out as a girl and sometimes as a boy. I'd stick to mostly the gay clubs and I met a lot of very nice and supportive people. I ventured outside the gay clubs scene only on rare occasions, but I didn't really encounter many problems with people.

At this time in my life I wasn't really sure what direction I was heading and whether I would plan to venture into the "real world" as a woman or not. I was keenly aware of several things; one, I had been aware of feeling "feminine" since a very early age; two, I really loved being able to dress and act as a woman; and three, I didn't really feel much like a Drag Queen.

I was aware of feeling more like a girl than like a boy as early as I can remember. I can pinpoint it to my first day of Kindergarten. I remember feeling as if I was different from the boys in some fundamental way, and over time, I came to realise that I was a lot like the girls. For the first 32 years of my life, I couldn't act out on this feeling, because I lived in a very conservative environment, had a ten year marriage, two wonderful children, and a long term job at an ultra-conservative company after 5 years of college and a messy divorce. That is another blog entirely, but suffice it to say that I was happy to be able to express my feminine side in such a dramatic way. I ended up spending quite a bit of time doing the whole "drag thing," and I enjoyed it very much. I changed my look over time and was still not seriously considering becoming a woman full time. It was only in the back of my mind.

As I said before, I didn't feel much like a Drag Queen. I felt I was more of an All-American girl. I was more June Cleaver than Liza Minella. This bugged me, it was a nagging voice in my mind that wouldn't leave me alone. Nevertheless, I still looked and acted very much like a drag queen. I became a frequent performer at drag shows and a fixture at the clubs. I performed frequently and helped organize drag shows in the Denver area. All of these shows are to benefit charities (primarily through tips to the performers), so I felt good about what I was doing, and I got to enjoy being a woman on a regular basis. It was a win-win situation, I thought.

I really enjoyed performing as a female impersonator, and over time I realised that my love of singing could help me enjoy it even more. I started singing live in drag shows, which was immense fun, but I was definitely different. I have a very powerful voice and I didn't have a problem with dressing in drag and singing like a man, even though I can impersonate some women singers. I did Elton John, Elvis, Enrique Iglesias, Queen, Norah Jones, Peggy Lee, and so on. I occasionally did lip-sync performances as well. I have been told I do the best Joan Jett ever, but I don't think I look much like her... well, maybe.

During this time I experimented with many different styles. I was always fond of the goth look, but I was beginning to think that kind of thing was a little too dramatic for me. I didn't like to stand out in the crowd. I wanted to blend in with the rest of the girls. The photo to the right is very pretty I think, but it's not what I wanted for myself. At the time though, I really didn't know any better. I wanted to look more like the regular girls, but I didn't know how to do it.

Eventually I turned to a few friends and got some help. I lived for a while with a transitioned girl, and she helped me improve my ability to "pass" by leaps and bounds. Still, there was something lacking. I desperately wanted to be a full-time girl, but it wasn't happening.

A strange thing began to happen in my mind at this time. I began to seriously think that I could pull off living as a woman on a full-time basis, and I became determined to force it to work. I had been growing my hair out and I looked extremely like the rest of the girls in town. I began going to shops and out to dinner and so on, dressed much like the photo here. My hair was shoulder length and I had learned to do more subdued makeup and wear more appropriate fashions for a casual "everday woman" look.

At this time I still got "read" on a regular basis. My look wasn't refined enough, and I didn't have the skills to behave like a woman all the time. I was also wearing breast forms, as you can see in the photo, I was hooked on high heels, and I had a mild fetish for brightly painted nails. I also had noticeable facial hair, and my makeup techniques weren't perfected yet, so I still looked very manly. I had trouble with my look, voice, attitude, and so on. I still managed to pass fairly well in most situations, but not where it was important. I think I knew I was fuckin up to transition so fast, but I couldn't accept it.

During this time of my life I was not doing well financially and I really didn't have the money to transition on a permanent basis. I was dreaming, and it hurt my life, a lot. That is a subject for a another blog, but in the picture to the left, when I was living about 90% of my time as a woman, I was not as happy as I look. This photo is from February of 2005, so it's almost exactly two years after I began crossdressing. I was pretty drunk when that photo was taken, and I was taking some big risks with drinking.

This was a very dark time in my life. I was heavily into the club scene and was also trying to find work most of the time. I was drinking a lot and I was really not behaving in a healthy way at all. It was August of 2005 before I would find a decent job, but for over a year, I struggled, in vain, to live as much of my life as possible in "girl mode."

I had tried to transition at my job, but it just wouldn't work. One day I got a call out of the clear blue sky asking if I would like to come to Utah and work a short computer programming contract. I was pretty surprised since I hadn't been looking for work in Utah, but God does work in mysterious ways. I wasn't happy about going to such a conservative area of the country, and the worst part was, this company had contacted me under my boy name. There was no way in heaven or on earth that I was going to be able to be a woman and take that job. However, I remembered something a good friend had once said to me, at a very dark point in my life. He said, "Jasmine, you are going to have to let that man you still have inside save you from this, or you're never going to get anywhere." With those words in mind, and the ridiculous amount of money I was offered, I had no choice but to take the job in Utah, and resign myself to "boy mode" for a while. I quit my job at the grocery store, had a little "last blast" fun in Denver, and proceeded to move to Utah. The photo on the left is from shortly before I moved.

A very cool result came of that decision... I got my transition back on track and my career back on track at the same time. I also learned that a tranny actually can pass in Utah. I wasn't able to live as a woman very much while I was there, but I did manage to get in a few outings with friends. One particularly fun day was a road trip to Salt Lake City to see Brokeback Mountain. The town I lived in was too conservative to show it on opening day, and my friend just had to see it right away, so we drove down there, had some dinner and saw the movie, which is really good, by the way. The photo on the right is from later that evening after I got back home.

This was a real turning point in my life because I was finally able to gain some respect in a field I love, repair my career and reputation as a programmer, and make enough money to afford some transition-related items. I finally had the money to justify hormones in my monthly budget, and I started on estrogen right away. In March of 2006, I learned that my last day on the job in Utah would be very soon. I had a sense of this and was always aware it was a limited contract, so I had already been looking for other work. I hadn't been having much luck and I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't find anything. However, through the absolute grace of God Himself, I almost immediately found another job back here in Denver. I was out of work for only about 2 weeks, while I hastily moved back to Colorado.

I currently live in the Denver area, and I'm working as a guy right now. I'm on hormones still, and getting laser hair removal on my facial hair. I have a couple more treatments to go with that, and I can currently go about a week without shaving. The hormones are working and I feel more like a woman every day. This makes it much easier to pass in public, and I plan to transition at work, but I'm going to take it easy this time. I rushed into things before and it messed up my life. I'm not eager to make the same mistake again. Things are going great for me right now, I'm transitioning slowly, and enjoying life a lot more. I even have time for some fun... the photo on the left is from my Vegas vacation!

My entry into the transgender world has been a little rocky, but I've done a little better than some of my sisters, so I feel quite blessed. I'm sure everything will come out well in the end. I have confidence that this world will accept me as a woman, that I will be able to enjoy my career, and that I'll be able to have fun in the process. I'm much happier now, and I know that feeling will continue in the future. This last photo is another one from my Vegas trip, this was on Christmas Eve, 2005. I am finally as happy as I look in my picture!

That's about all I have for today. I know it's long, but I wanted my readers to get to know me a little bit. I think that history is very important in life, and I hope that people will find my story interesting. Maybe next time I'll write about something more boring - not!

Stay groovy y'all! Jasmine

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