Trans Mission

In the fight for equal rights, transgender issues have been left in the dust

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, August 25, 2011

Sometimes it takes a while for people to figure out who they are. For Adrien Lawyer, that’s an understatement.

“I didn’t know there was such a thing as myself until I was 26,” he says, smiling and scruffy at the end of a long day. It wasn’t until he sat down with a copy of 1993’s Stone Butch Blues, a landmark novel, that he was introduced to the word “transgender.”

Born in a woman’s body and growing up in 1970s Mississippi, he believed he’d be stuck inside it for the rest of his life. “I had lived in the world long enough to know that I was going to have to accept my female body,” he says. Friends would tell him, You are a woman, so be one. Lawyer settled for being a lesbian.

It was through Stone Butch Blues that Lawyer discovered options were available, such as hormone replacement therapy. His fuse was lit. The path he planned for himself, however, was a difficult one—expensive and exhilarating and scary and absent of markers to guide him. Without a single friend who’d gone through something similar, he had to guess and stumble his way through his transition.

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Where Babies Come From

Midwife-run nonprofit births alternative for expectant mothers

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, August 4, 2011

Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center sits on a lush plot of land in the North Valley, set back from the road and abutted by agricultural plots. The sprawling center seems about as un-hospital-like as Abigail Lanin Eaves could make it. Dotted with skylights and large windows, it looks like a place people go to stay well, not get better.

Even the front door is preceded by a bridge and pond. The theme of sanctuary is reflected throughout the center, with art by locals, a lending library, a kitchen and a classroom. There are two futon-stocked exam rooms, which Eaves likes to call “visiting rooms,” and two dedicated birthing suites that resemble rooms at a bed and breakfast.

Eaves says she knew at age 12 that she was meant to deliver babies. She assumed it would be as an OB-GYN. When her sister had a home birth years later, Eaves was introduced to the world of midwifery, and there was no turning back.

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Wolf vs. State

Guv-appointed commission yanks New Mexico's support for wolf reintroduction

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, June 30, 2011

The Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program has a simple premise: reintegrate an endangered species into its natural habitat. In practice, however, bringing the wolf back to the Southwest has proven to be anything but easy, with environmental groups and ranchers maintaining a heated debate during the 13 years the program’s been in existence.

The state’s Game Commission voted unanimously on June 9 to withdraw from the reintroduction effort. Gov. Susana Martinez appointed four new members to the six-member board in March. Bill Montoya is one of those new members. “It was costing us a lot of money,” says Montoya, who worked for the Game and Fish Department for 28 years. “We didn’t think we were going in the right direction.”

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Family Pride

Making a place for LGBT parents—and their kids—is a priority for nonprofits

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, June 9, 2011

Adrien Lawyer and Elena Letourneau are what they refer to as “invisible”—a white, seemingly straight couple with a 6-year-old son.

Lawyer had his breasts removed in 2004. A year later, he began hormone replacement therapy, which deepened his voice and sprouted hair on his face. Lawyer is now legally a man. Once recognized as a lesbian couple, he and his partner have undergone not only a physical but a cultural transformation. They appear to be the all-American family. And that’s exactly what they are.

Lawyer and Letourneau are a perfect example of what makes a family. Genders and dynamics may have changed throughout their 12-year relationship, but what’s remained is their commitment to each other. The common denominator is love.

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State Looks to Reverse Green Building Codes

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, May 19, 2011

On Earth Day, one state commission took the first step toward rolling back energy-efficient building requirements.

The group is the Construction Industries Commission, and the legislation in question is the New Mexico Energy Conservation Code, adopted late last year after more than 12 months of weekly open meetings and five public hearings. During its April 22 meeting, the commission voted unanimously to start the process of repealing the standards. Public hearings are scheduled in four cities on the same day, June 2.

The commission is the same entity that unanimously approved the rules last year, but it has new members appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez. Some believe the decision to reverse the regulations stems from the also-governor-appointed Small Business-Friendly Task Force, which shares two members with the commission. The task force’s position: State rules shouldn’t be more demanding than national standards.

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