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Easton Activist Will Meet With Biden

Ashley Hope and other LGBT leaders will have dinner with the vice president Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden will meet with up-and-coming LGBT leaders from around the country at his home in Washington.

Among those leaders: Easton's Ashley Hope, who hopes the vice president comes away knowing that there's still work to be done when it comes to rights for transgendered people.

"Mostly, the biggest message is that transgendered people face huge amounts of discrimination," Hope said.

Biden notably came out in favor of same sex marriage before President Obama did earlier this year, but Hope says she thinks the president has made some strides when it comes to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues.

For example, this was the first president to send a representative to a conference for transgendered people, Hope said.

"That never would've happened in the Bush administration or even the Clinton administration," she said.

Hope doesn't think her demands are unreasonable.

"All I'm asking for is to be able to go to work, go home to my apartment and if I ever have a kid, to send him to school," she said.

Concerns about those rights are part of the reason Hope -- who works as a web programmer in downtown Easton -- came to the city, which has non-discrimination laws for things such as housing. 

Beyond meeting with Biden, Hope said she looks forward to networking and connecting with other LGBT leaders.

"I think it’s really good that they’re bringing in this young energy," she said.

As a student at Millersville University, Hope saw how powerful younger voices could be. When she came out as transgendered, the school was facing something it hadn't dealt with. Where would she live? What bathrooms would she use?

But then the university issued a survey, and found a number of other transgendered students.

After that, the administration really started looking and listening," Hope said.

She'd like other institutions to start listening as well. Transgendered people can face real dangers beyond just discrimination. A report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that violence against transgendered individuals was on the rise, and that 2011 was the worst year ever for anti-LGBT hate crimes.

Hope said she has spoken with Turning Point, the local support organization for domestic violence victims, about working with transgendered individuals. She'd like to continue that work in Easton, she said. The city might have laws to protect people like her, but Hope said the people enforcing those laws still might have things to learn.

Meryl S. Fortney September 18, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Dear Anon, you are what's wrong with America. A bigoted jesus-freak who hides behind computer screens to spread hatred. I am so glad your way of thinking is slowly becoming a thing of the past, as we move forward, as a society, to celebrate equal rights for all.
Amend September 18, 2012 at 03:47 PM
@Ronnie- are you implying that those from the LGBT population aren't being discriminated against in our society? Your naïveté regarding discrimination is telling, especially in an era when women are still fighting for the rights to equal pay. How about those seeking the right to marry who they choose? How about blacks who are imprisoned at a disproportionate rate, or Latinos who are looked at as illegals stealing American jobs? Yeah, we all have equal rights already. Discrimination is non existent.
Ronnie DelBacco September 18, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Amend, No at all. I'm sure there is discrimination happening to LGBT folks...just like there is discrimination happening to those who are not LGBT. The point I made was very clear; don't twist or distract from it. Nice try. Equal Rights. Equal Justice.
Meryl S. Fortney September 18, 2012 at 04:39 PM
@Ronnie "We all have equal rights already." You are a funny guy. Have you considered stand-up? Judging from your photo I'm going to say you're a heterosexual white male. Tell me what you know about this topic and discrimination, because I am willing to bet you've as much experience with being the target of bigotry as you do being an astronaut.
Amend September 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
@Ronnie- in an effort to not "twist" things further, I'll ask bluntly; do you support same sex marriage? Equal rights, equal justice, correct?
Walt September 18, 2012 at 05:03 PM
@Ronnie. Glad to hear you're in favor of gay marriage, which certainly falls under your statement of "Equal Rights".
Ronnie DelBacco September 18, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Meryl, First, thanks for using your name. It's much more respectable to have a conversation with a real person than a pseudonym. You are correct about me, however, I would have judged from Ashley's photo alone that she would be a heterosexual female. So what? You were right and I would have been wrong. What does my appearance have to do with anything other than bringing to light the fact that you have judged me by my appearance alone? One does not need experience with "Equal rights" to understand that we all have them. I don't think Ashley needs to be heterosexual to understand that she/he would also be included under a system of equal rights. Her/his sexual orientation does not merit "special" rights or expanded rights beyond those afforded to everyone equally simply because she/he has a different sexual orientation. The law should be applied equally in all cases. When one group gets special consideration over another group that in itself is discrimination. If I, a heterosexual male, am assaulted and robbed and Ashley, a transgendered individual is assaulted and robbed, which one of us should get special consideration for our case? Neither. We are afforded the same protections under the law. But LGBT wants Ashley's assault to be labeled differently as a hate crime. Her/his attacker would receive a harsher punishment than my attacker. Discrimination against me would be ignored. Was my victimization any less an assault and robbery than hers/his? NO.
Ashley Hope September 18, 2012 at 05:35 PM
As the local activist mentioned in this article, I'd like to clarify a few terms that seem to have caused confusion. First, Sex refers to your physical anatomy, while Gender refers to the cultural perceptions and expectations in a society. Sexual orientation refers to who/what you are attracted to, be it male or female or neither or both. Gender Identity refers to your own internal sense of your gender. Gender Expression refers to how you outwardly present your gender to the world. If you're having issues understanding the difference, try to list 5 reasons you feel your gender is whatever you identify as, that have nothing to sex. Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression are the three categories included in most non-discrimination policies, and it is important to identify and understand the difference. For instance, my gender presentation (female) has nothing to do with my sexual orientation, which is not covered in this article and is an entirely different matter. I am going to the White House to speak to the concerns of the transgender community. Transgender people face extremely high rates of discrimination. Take a look at the Nation Center for Transgender Equality's latest survey which found 78% of trans students report being bullied in school for their gender identity. 25% of respondents lost their jobs for being trans. 19% were refused medical care. 57% faced significant rejection from families. http://transequality.org/PDFs/Executive_Summary.pdf
marie baldys September 18, 2012 at 05:45 PM
@Ronnie -- I normally don't comment on these things, but what we call "hate crimes" aren't as simple as they might seem to be. If someone beats you up and robs you, that's a crime. If someone beats Ashley up because they hate what she is, it's different, and deserves to be considered differently. Especially since the person who robbed you has no illusions about what happened, but the person who beat up Ashley actually feels like they made the world a better place by doing it. It's that sickness that we as a culture need to address, and we as a culture can only hope that shining a light on it over and over and over again will cause people to see these behaviors for what they really are.
Ronnie DelBacco September 18, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Amend, (what is your real name?) Although marriage is not the topic here I'll entertain you question even knowing full well that you intend to do nothing productive with my comments. Marriage is a biblical institution defined as between one man and one woman. The term has deep roots in many religions which hold strong traditional family values. Civil unions are a legal answer for non-religious couples who do not hold those same deeply rooted religious beliefs and are usually of the same sex, but still wish to be joined together. I do not believe redefining marriage for individuals who do not hold those same religious views is proper. Now, if say, two LGBT individuals want to be joined in a civil union, I also don't think that term should be redefined, or hijacked by Christians, to mean between one man and one woman (the definition of marriage). Aside from my religious views, civil unions are the legal answer for non-religious individuals. Don't attempt to change definitions of words.
Ronnie DelBacco September 18, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Marie, How then do you begin to address the discrimination which would be heaped upon the heterosexual community because the crimes perpetrated on them would be viewed as less significant. The answer isn't special consideration because the intent of the attacker perpetrating a hate crime is more sinister; the answer should be harsher punishment and enforcement regardless. Ashley, Thanks for clarification on terminology for those of us who may not have known the difference, but equal justice should still prevail regardless.
Ronnie DelBacco September 18, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Ashley, A quick check with Merriam Webster shows the first definition of gender relating to math, and the second definition simply says "sex".
Hollis Taylor September 18, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Its so strange to me how people confuse sexuality with gender and sex... I think that is part of the issue. The lack of taking the time to understand what the terms mean and how they represent all parts of all of us. What type of genitalia a person has should have zero to do with what is expected of her behavior or attraction to others. Why does gender even matter and how does sex get involved with gender?? Why does gender matter? What does my genitalia have to do with anything other than the mechanics of sex and what part I play in making a child? People that want to make our genitalia into a conversation around behaviors and what job I should/shouldn't do or who i should marry are just plain narrow minded. Let's hope as we break the lines of gender, sexuality, and orientation that all these lines can be withdrawn and all of us will want the best for each other. We all must allow for each of us to explore our own journey, even if we don't agree with someone's journey. I am just "waiting on the world to change" Eventually we will outnumber all the narrow minded folks and more hearts will understand that the lines are simply restrictions on the human races natural evolution.
marie baldys September 18, 2012 at 06:42 PM
"Different" was what I said; significance is a value judgment that I'm not getting into. I don't believe that the answer to any of this lies in our legal system. You can't legislate morality; you can only enforce and punish; if that's what you're advocating, then I guess you're more comfortable in the police state that we're living in than I am. Our only hope as a culture is to raise awareness that we are all connected, and that violence to any of us is violence to all of us.
Tina September 18, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Actually the dictionary also says this about the word gender, which is exactly what Ashley was trying to point out to you. gender: (definition 2b) the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex Where as the word sex has this definition: sex: the sum of the structural, functional, and behavioral characteristics of organisms that are involved in reproduction marked by the union of gametes and that distinguish males and females
Amend September 19, 2012 at 12:59 AM
@Ronnie- the position that one person's definition of marriage, based on a religious notion, is somehow more right than a person who doesn't share that same belief system is indeed discriminatory. There was a period in history where blacks were thought to be less human. The prejudice was primarily based on religious thinking in that god prefered whites. The same holds true for how women were treated, in that god was obviously a man and the bible had said women were less than. Oh, and polygamy is all over the bible as well.
Amend September 19, 2012 at 01:05 AM
@Ronnie- and my name shouldn't matter. Would knowing who I was somehow make my opinion more valid to you, or would it be seen as an opportunity to marginalize my pov? You use your real name, but that doesn't mean anything. You could go by anonymous and I would still see your opinion as I do now.
Arleyna Loss September 19, 2012 at 04:33 AM
I think everyone is making really great points here, including Ronnie as well as Ashley and her supporters. However, what we should all agree upon is that rights should be equal for everyone. I do believe that if anyone, whether it be the government or citizens, are preventing someone from having equal rights, that it should be addressed. I do not believe Ash is attempting to get special rights for LGBT, but rather she is trying to ensure that she, as well as other LGBT members, receive equal rights. For heterosexual white individuals, discrimination is very little. We are the majority. We do not need special laws protecting our rights because no one seems to be infringing upon them. On the other hand, there are many instances where the LGBT community's rights are being infringed upon, and Ashley is moving to see that all LGBT are ensure equal rights through any means necessary. To Ronnie, I ask you to think about if we would in the future become discriminated against, wouldn't it be nice to live in a country where we could move to instate laws to ensure our rights? I know, personally, that I would appreciate that right as a citizen. I think we are reading too much into the technicality of it when all it is a group of people being discriminated against who are simply striving to obtain those rights. White heterosexuals have the luxury of equal rights without any extra laws in place to protect us. The LGBT community does not.
Arleyna Loss September 19, 2012 at 04:38 AM
And also, think of this: my brother recently got married and he and his bride were both atheists. However, no question was raised when he got married. If marriage is something religious in nature, we cannot just discriminate because it says it must be between a man and a woman. What about the fact that it is a religious service, but atheists are allowed to get married? If we are upholding the marriage tradition as religious, then we should be saying that only a Christian man and a Christian woman may get married. We're being fatuous by taking a statement of the bible so far, and then allowing people who don't even believe in that statement to engage in something religious. Just some food for thought.
Ronnie DelBacco September 19, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Amend, Your opinions and my opinions would be the same regardless of which name we use in presenting them. However, when one's opinions or positions are presented with the full backing and support of the real person they are, those opinions carry more weight with readers...even if the reader disagrees with the opinions. I simply think there is a high level of cowardliness in using a pseudonym. What are you afraid of Amend? Ashley has the most to risk here by coming out in the open, yet her decision to make herself vulnerable to the possibility stupid verbal attacks (which have not happened here) also shows her strength of character for putting her name behind her beliefs. Though I may disagree with Ashley about the LGBT issues, I have much greater respect for her because she isn't hiding behind a pretend name. Your hiding who you are reduces the strength of your position as a faceless, nameless coward just throwing rocks from behind a wall of secrecy. Imagine the lack of credibility reports would have if the reporters were unknowns.
Amend September 19, 2012 at 02:46 PM
@Ronnie- my use of a pseudonym shouldn't reflect onto my integrity anymore than your use of your real name gives your opinion anymore credence. That's just an attempt to distract from your weak argument. First rule of debate; attack the subject, not the person. I'm not a reporter, nor am I looking to aggrandize my position in the community via posting here. you speak of cowardice, what's more cowardly than hiding one's prejudice behind the bible, to invoke Jesus when while discriminating? Funny thing is, people who know me in real life know what I post under, so I'm not really anonymous, you just don't know me.
Ronnie DelBacco September 19, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Amend, Thank you for proving my point. You've done nothing productive with my comments except to further distract from the point of this article. It seems to be your MO. I hide behind nothing, including the Bible. Your opinion is that my argument is weak and my opinion is that posters should identify themselves. We'll have to just agree to disagree. As for attacking the subject...you've done just that. Hypocrisy at it's finest. Have a nice day... hiding behind your wall.
Amend September 19, 2012 at 03:33 PM
@Ronnie- your ability to discuss the topic in a linear fashion is the limitation on this debate, not my identity. I was discussion discrimination, you turned it into a conversation about who I am. Who cares who I am? That doesn't change the fact that you view Ashley and other LGBT people as less then thru your use as the bible as a defense. Otherwise, same sex marriage would be a moot point. Try to stay on topic next time.
Ronnie DelBacco September 19, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Amend, Look back. It was you who went off topic and I who simply entertained your question anyway...not the other way around. In response to your off-topic question I said, "Although marriage is not the topic here I'll entertain your question even knowing full well that you intend to do nothing productive with my comments." Amend, I am fully capable of multiple debate topics within a single conversation, but choose to try and stay focused for the purpose of respecting the author's original topic. Distractions, like asking who you really are, will happen from time to time, but they have a way to take over and control the conversation if left unchecked. This very reply has nothing to do with Ashley or the LGBT issues for example. You've successfully managed to hijack another stream of comments for your own purpose, whatever that may be. You've taken the comment stream away from discussion of the article's topics and zeroed in on the fact that I offhandedly asked who you really are. Congratulations, and my apology to the LGBT issues that have been sidelined by this now ridiculous exchange with the nameless and faceless coward, Amend.
Amend September 19, 2012 at 10:38 PM
@Ronnie- to be accurate, we were discussing the nature of discrimination, or at least your first comment was about how the LGBT community shouldn't seek preferential treatment, and I entered the dialogue asking about discrimination. You brought up equal rights, equal justice. I asked if that included same sex marriage. You brought up what the bible says about that and then started in on the questions about who I was and the began throwing the word coward around for some reason. Not sure how I was the one who took the conversation off topic considering that. As for hijacking the thread, you could say that I suppose but I think that's more a reflection of a weak position on a subject than a reflection of anything I did or didn't do.
louis kootsares September 20, 2012 at 02:04 PM
i am wondering.. what do these activists want the government to do? i myself dislikes the government passing more things that i cannot do, even though i do not do them i really dislike limiting my use of vocabulary i am permitted to use in a heated debate this is america ,freedom of speech, with all these activists .. i think straight people may soon need to be on the the discriminated list
Amend September 22, 2012 at 02:37 PM
@Daniel- a father's love shouldn't have conditions.
Hollis Taylor September 22, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Dear Mr. McLaughlin, I want to reach out to you because I feel that your likely struggling with your child's most recent transition. I worry about your ability to love your child regardless of their life journey. I understand you must be hurting inside and I want to help guide you to where you can find support in your struggle with your child. I know that you must worry that you did something wrong or try to blame "fault" on someone else. Please I assure you that there are other parents that feel the same as you but often its a matter of recognizing your newest addition to the family. I don't expect you to ever forget your son that you raised, the boy that you loved when he was only 5. But I would hope that once you are through morning the death of your son you could then move on to celebrate the birth of your daughter. A beautiful activist feminist that can stand up for who she is. She can stand up for love, for the loving everyone just as they are. She can stand for a healthy tomorrow that we all know is our sickness today. I know that you can contact the GLBT center in your area and they will be happy to help you get to a PFLAG meeting where you can meet other parents just as yourself, that are struggling with the same ideas. I hope that your able to reach out and find the peace and love that you so deserve. I hope that God can help guide you to peace with you son's death and acceptance of your daughter. Please find a way to love your child again.
Joshua Dorsheimer September 24, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Since when is motive NOT taken into account, Susan and Ronnie? I was under the impression that investigators...you know...investigated, and then the motive is taken into account upon charging someone. But perhaps I was wrong? Susan, that analogy you gave by the way, about a heterosexual getting stabbed for heroin money and a transgendered person being stabbed for basically just being alive, is rather like comparing apples and oranges. A hate crime is not just about committing a crime. It is about committing a crime motivated by hateful ideologies. Someone harms another person for no reason other than hatred for what that person is. When an individual harms someone because of their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age etc.... it isn't just a senseless crime. It is also a form of domestic terrorism. It is not just about the individual who was harmed. It is bigger than that. By attacking someone because of who they are, it also sends out a threatening message of hate to an entire targeted community. It's no longer "Gay people should die" graffiti in the city, or spray painting a swastika on a Synagogue. Rather, it is a message sent out by eliminating someone, or attempting to, through a violent crime. The crimes need to be treated differently, because they are indeed very different.
Alanna September 28, 2012 at 02:35 PM
For those who keep insisting on equal rights, equal justice, those laws are meant to protect white, heterosexual males as well. If a white man is killed by non-whites BECAUSE he is white, that is a hate crime and would be covered by hate crimes legislation. If a straight man is killed by a group of gays BECAUSE he is straight, that is a hate crime and would be covered by hate crimes legislation. Josh is exactly right - motivation is taken into consideration. That's why there are different degrees of murder as well as voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Motive has always made a difference.

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