Current Edition

Summer, 2018

Vermont Woman congratulates Barbara Hall of Stratford, Connecticut, and Lea E. Dickson of Gouverneur, New York, upon receiving the 2018 Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Landmark Award on April 18, 2018.

In 1974, Hall and Dickson sued the Stratford Board of Education to end gender discrimination in the public school system in Connecticut—two years after the passage of Title IX, which was supposed to end gender discrimination for girls and women athletes but continued to be unenforced.

Hall and Dickson, both untenured teachers in the Stratford school system, were girls’ basketball coaches: Hall at Stratford High School and Dickson at Bunnell High School in Stratford. After failing to persuade the board of education and the school administrations to provide equitable programs, facilities, uniforms, and equipment for female athletes and coaches, they courageously decided to risk their professional careers and filed a lawsuit against the Stratford schools, spurred by their belief in the life-changing power of Title IX.

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Welcome to Vermont Woman Online

Vermont Woman is a forum for news, issues, features, arts and entertainment from the perspective, experience, and voices of Vermont women. Vermont Woman is a quarterly newspaper published seasonally in South Hero, Vermont.

This website is an extension of the print publication, but not all, articles are posted here. We encourage our readers to contact us, either here on the website or at our Facebook page.

Quintessential Vermont

by Sue Gillis

Hall & Dickson Receive Basketball Hall of Fame Landmark Award

Lea Dickson & Barbara Hall
Photo: Sue Gillis

Sue Gillis, Publisher
Photo: Jan Doerler

A quintessential Vermont Day. Late fall. Planned it perfectly for our out-of-town big-city guests, my brother and his wife.

Told them we were taking them on a secret adventure (the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover, Perennial Pleasures in Hardwick for afternoon English cream tea, Glover General Store, and the Bread and Puppet Theater and Museum). Our guests, however, had no idea where we were going. Just that it would be a totally unique Vermont experience, found nowhere else.

So, Saturday noon, a late start, we set out for the Northeast Kingdom. The drive across Route 15 was beautiful but long. Two and a half hours later we arrived at the indescribable Museum for Everyday Living. Let’s just say, our guests were speechless but in a few minutes posed for a photo in front of the 20-foot wire toothbrush.

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Dr. Rachel Inker: Meeting the Health Care Needs of Transgender Vermonters

by Elayne Clift

Jamie Moorby, who grew up in rural Vermont and still lives there, “always knew [she] was a woman inside.” But she didn’t know about the possibility of gender transition until she was in college. A “happy person who wasn’t stressed out” by a growing awareness that she might want to transition, she moved to Washington, DC, after graduation to work as a political activist. There she found community, a transgender activist group, and helpful resources while working on a bathroom bill that now prohibits single-stall bathrooms to be gender specific.

She soon realized that she did want to transition, so she saw a therapist and then a physician, went on hormones, and two years later, in 2008, at the age of 26, flew to Bangkok with her supportive mother for surgery. “The culture there was amazing,” she recalls. “There were trans women from all over the world. It was a very communal experience.”

But when she returned to Vermont, she says, while her friends and family were supportive, the medical professionals she met with were “very confused,” and she couldn’t find a doctor who would do a postoperative examination. Enter Rachel Inker, MD, to whom Moorby was referred by a Montpelier advocacy group in 2010 because “she knew how to deal with hormones.”

 

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Dr. Rachel Inker
Photo: Jan Doerler

Christine Hallquist’s Run for Governor: ‘It’s About Improving Life for All’

by Diane DeBella

Christine Hallquist credits her mother with instilling an early understanding of social justice in her: “My mom was a wonderful woman. She taught me a lot about social issues. We were church-going people. When I was 13 years old, she took me into the city of Syracuse one Sunday for an Easter Mass, and she was teaching me a lesson. I went to this Mass, and I was surrounded by people of different ethnic origins and street people. I asked my mom at the end of the Mass, ‘Why did you bring me here?’ And she told me, ‘Because I want you to be aware that these are God’s people. You’re living in a community that’s not really a real community of God’s people.’ That was such a powerful learning experience for me, and I think she really helped form my views on life with that experience.”

Hallquist, now 61 and running as a Democratic candidate for governor of Vermont, benefited from these early life lessons on privilege, oppression, and issues of intersectionality when she made the decision to come out as a transgender woman in 2015 while CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative. In making this courageous choice to follow her genuine path, she knew she was going to face discrimination and bias: “It’s going to take a lot to get people to become aware of their own biases, because it is so embedded in our social structure.

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Christine Hallquist, Democratic nominee for governor for Vermont, is the first transgender gubernatorial candidate in the country.

photo: courtesy Christine Hallquist

Building LGBTQ Community in Vermont

by Gail Callahan

Vermont has a long history of supporting LGBTQ people and has a reputation as one of the best states in the nation for members of this community to live and raise a family. Three advocacy organizations have certainly helped establish this reputation—Outright Vermont, Green Mountain Crossroads, and the Pride Center of Vermont—by providing crucial services for LGBTQ people in the state.

 

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First Ladies: The Role of Presidential Wives in the White House, Part 2

by Cyndy Bittinger

It seems fitting that part two of this series begins with Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy and ends with Melania Trump, our current first lady. There are some striking parallels between these two women.

Jackie Kennedy did not campaign very much for the presidency of her husband and became weary of spending time at the White House. She preferred to spend her weekends at a Virginia estate with her horses and go on extensive vacations. Like Jackie, Melania Trump avoided the campaign trail. She opted to stay at Trump Tower in New York, not moving to Washington until June 2017, and is often not in the company of the president.

Jackie had two young children to raise and that was her priority, much like Melania with her son Barron. Melania, like Jackie, is an attractive woman and a glamorous fashion icon, spending thousands on dresses and accessories. Both women knew of their husbands’ mistresses and both tried to deflect attention from their husbands’ affairs.

The one big difference: Jackie found causes and ways to shine and connect with the public. Melania has yet to find her footing in the public eye as of this writing.

Jacqueline (Jackie) Bouvier Kennedy (1961–1963)

Jackie Kennedy was a young first lady, age 32, and pregnant with her second child, John Jr., who was born just three weeks after her husband won the election. She set up a preschool in the White House to educate Caroline, age 4.

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Artists Hannah Sessions & Bonnie Baird Find Inspiration on the Farm

by Cynthia Close

Farming is life in constant flux. Nothing about farming is permanent. Painting captures time. Complete a painting and it is done, but farming is all about change,” says artist-farmer Hannah Sessions.

She came to this realization at the very end of our conversation about her life and work as a farmer, mother, wife, and artist. It was an acknowledgment how essential her painting activity is to her ability to maintain a balance in her life when most of her waking hours demand she be in constant motion, tending to the 125 Alpine and Lamancha milking goats she and her husband, Greg Bernhardt, manage on Blue Ledge Farm in Leicester, Vermont.

Fellow artist Bonnie Baird also knows all about farm life having grown up on a 730-acre dairy farm in Pittsford, Vermont, the oldest of six children. She married Bob Baird, another child of the farm, and the couple purchased Baird’s family farm in 1979 in North Chittenden, Vermont. Like Sessions, Baird’s love of Vermont and the land are reflected in her artwork; unlike Sessions, she now devotes herself to painting full-time, leaving the work of farming to her husband, daughter Jenna, and Jenna’s husband, Jacob.

Both women are represented by Northern Daughters Fine Art Gallery in Vergennes, Vermont, where they both recently exhibited their work. Sessions is also represented by The Woodstock Gallery in Woodstock, Vermont, The Drawing Room in Cos Cob, Connecticut, and Alpers Fine Art in Andover, Massachusetts.

 

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Women in the Martial Arts: Building Confidence & Self-Respect

by StaciAnne K. Grove

Martial art. Just say those words, and images immediately come to mind. Bruce Lee. Ninja turtles. Chuck Norris. Fighting. Kicking and punching. The media has brought these images to us—whether we wanted them or not. Although gender shouldn’t be an issue in the martial arts, they are often considered a masculine domain.

But that image is changing due in large part to more women masters and school owners. The value of women and girls training in the martial arts lies not in the perfectly executed front kick or hip throw, the value is in training and developing oneself both physically and mentally.

Often women begin martial arts training for self-defense reasons. Some are victims of assault or rape. Awareness of self-defense has increased since the era of #MeToo, with women enrolling in self-defense workshops or taking up a martial art.

Self-defense does not necessarily mean a swift kick to the groin. Self-defense courses offer a range of options and responses, adaptable to any person in any situation, generally with the intention of avoiding a fight. For some women that initial self-defense course leads to taking on a broader commitment to martial arts training as a way of saying “never again.” For many others self-defense is an added benefit to learning a martial art. A mother may have simply fallen in love with the art while watching her child train, observing the personal challenges it presents.

 

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Grandmaster Alba Rosario Parsons(right) works with a student.
photo: Staci Grove

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