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RIP Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Angel

If you don’t know who Leelah Alcorn was, I’m sure you haven’t crawled out from under a rock just to read my blog. Just in case, Google her name to read about her tragic suicide. Get some tissues first because the story sucks.

But the purpose of this post is to pass on information to verify that the accounts of the torment  — psychological torture, actually — by her parents is absolutely true.

Read this, then please go to Transgender Graphics’ Facebook page by clicking on the picture to post your note of thanks to Mr. Davis for his support for the transgender community:

Leelah Davis post

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Don’t forget to click on the picture to post your note of thanks to Mr. Davis for his support for the transgender community.

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To report any incident of violence towards a transgender person anywhere in the world, please do so at the Transgender Violence Tracking Portal here.

 

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Being Trans Doesn’t Give You a Free Pass to Be an Asshole

Or a Misogynist.

This is what irks me about some — and I emphasize some  (although this has been an all-too-frequent experience and is why I tend to shy away from them)  trans men who seem to think that it is okay to act like misogynist assholes, now that they are free to be “themselves.” No, little boys, being male is not always synonymous with “asshole.”  And yes, if you swagger around, swinging your literal or figurative prosthetic penis around, bragging about its size as you scratch your non-existent balls while calling women “bitches” and otherwise seeking to malign and oppress us, then you are nothing more than an adolescent 14 year old stilted in social development, which to me makes you an immature little boy.

Today I joined a closed Facebook group called Medicare Transgender Surgery Support Group. Imagine my chagrin when the first post I read included comments not only referring to Dr. Marci Bowers, by her first name when none of the male physicians were referred to in such a disrespectful manner, but also referring to her as a “bitch.”

I lost no time in responding to this:  

 

“Bitch” is a sexist slur, and it is “Dr.” Marci Bowers. I don’t see anyone referring to any male physicians by slurs or w/out their proper titles.

Or is this a misogynist FTM group that I mistakenly joined? <–Serious question, as I have not the time nor energy to waste my knowledge or expertise on people who have no respect for others of MY gender.

 

After receiving a response from the group administrator that the group is not a misogynist hate group of FTMs, I posted the following:

 

For anyone who is not familiar with DR. Marci Bowers’ innovative work in transgender surgery, here is some information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marci_Bowers

For anyone who doubts Dr. Bowers’ work for the trans community, I suggest you read it. For anyone who thinks she is greedy, I draw your attention to the following:

“Bowers also puts her expertise in vaginoplasty at the disposal of victims of female genital mutilation, whom she does not charge for surgery.[17] She was trained for this specific operation under Pierre Foldès and has performed 50 reversals of fgm so far.[18]”

I have friends who have had, will have and/or wish to have their surgeries done by Dr. Bowers. Those who know her think of her as an angel who has saved their lives.

 

And then, when the same trans man who had called Dr. Bowers a “bitch” (but whose comment in the meantime had mysteriously disappeared) responded by saying that he doesn’t “like” Dr. Bowers or her surgical results, I could not keep my mouth shut:

 

Calling a woman a bitch because one doesn’t like them is no different from calling someone the t-word just because one doesn’t like them… or the n-word or any other slur. It is not acceptable.

Don’t like her results? Don’t like her as a person? Curious… all my friends who’ve gotten their surgery from Dr. Bowers have had no complaints and speak the world of her. I would think they’d know, having actually been operated on by her and met her in person and all.

I’m not here to argue. But I will point out that alienating half of the population by calling them bitches is not the way to get allies. Just sayin’.

 

Or a Transmisogynist.

Actually  and more accurately  an entitled, bitching, whiny trans person who trashes the trans community, trans people and allies, complaining about the efforts of trans activists who are working to make the world better and safer for you instead of getting off your lazy ass and doing something  yourself.

How dare you?  When people like Allison Woolbert spend countless hours, days and weeks every year working on the Transgender Violence Tracking Project, collecting, tabulating and analyzing statistics on trans violence  to quantify the rampant discrimination and the senseless and horrific acts of violence encountered by trans people every day so that governments world-wide will have no choice but to face the fact that trans violence is real, how f’ing dare you sit on your lazy asses and make demands or trash others in the trans community?  You wonder why you have it so hard?  Well, look at yourself.

⇒  Click here to report an incident of trans violence ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD 

Tell me to “die cis scum” all you like  you certainly won’t be the first, and I doubt that you will be the last. But before you whine and complain about how hard things are for you (and believe me, I’m not saying that they’re not), and definitely before you trash others who are doing productive work to make things better, look at what you are doing… or not doing. Pissing off the people who are trying to help make your life better just won’t work.

If you don’t know where to begin, you might want to check out the volunteer opportunities with the Trans Violence Tracking Portal here.

 

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Trans American

Strength

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Picture courtesy of Transgender Graphics’ Facebook Page:

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“Cisphobia” Is Like Santa Claus…

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*TRIGGER WARNING:  Contains descriptions of violence.

… in that it is a concept.

 Santa Claus symbolizes the spirit of giving, generosity and all that is good and lives in the hearts of people.  So too, does “cisphobia” live in the hearts of people… in the form of hate by the very people who claim to be oppressed by those they actively oppress.

The false construct of “cisphobia” (“cisgender” +  “phobia” = the irrational fear of cisgender people, presumably by people who are not cisgender) runs parallel to the false construct of “reverse racism,” which was created by white bigots (the oppressors) to put the onus of oppression back onto people of color  (the oppressed.)  The entire concept is ridiculous:  The only “reverse” of racism is a lack of racism.   But what’s one to expect from hateful bigots?   Blaming the victim is part of their repertoire.

There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING irrational about transgender or other non-cisgender people being afraid of cisgender people, as many cisgender people seem threatened by the very existence of transgender people (it seems that trying to explain non-binary gender, agender, gender fluidity, etc.  would be like an exercise in futility), and appear to believe that their ignorance and incomprehension gives them tacit permission to commit unspeakable acts of violence against anyone who is not cisgender, white and male, which puts transgender women of color at the highest risk for being raped, tortured, murdered and mutilated by these  pre-Neanderthal animals.

“Cisphobia” is not real.

And until cisgender people are preyed upon by transgender or other non-cisgender people due to an irrational fear of cisgender people by non-cisgender people, it will never be real.  I find that highly unlikely, at least in my lifetime.

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Katie Couric Blows

…her interview with Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox.

Photo courtesy of ThinkProgress

…and learns nothing from her own so-called “teachable moment.”

When Will Non-Transgender People Wake Up to Themselves?

Reprinted from the Huffington Post
Posted: 01/14/2014 1:19 pm

Fiona Dawson


Producer and host, ‘TransMilitary’;
member of the Board of Directors,
National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association

 
What Katie Couric’s “teachable moment” missed.

Katie Couric totally missed what she referred to as the “teachable moment” in her interview with Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox. Sadly, what she did do is reinforce the reality that society as a whole has a long way to go in coming to understand who they know themselves to be.

Couric’s questions said more about her — and her audience’s — ignorance of what is it to be human than it did about their lack of knowledge of being transgender.

At the crux of the situation is that sex does not equal gender. When we’re born we are assigned a sex based on what genitalia is seen between our legs. The error occurs when we make assumptions on someone’s gender based on that sex assignment label.

Assigning someone as female at birth does not mean their gender is female. Assigning someone as a male at birth does not mean their gender is male.

Gender can been seen with three different elements: 1) Who you know yourself to be, 2) how you express yourself to the world, and 3) how the world sees you.  

Sex organs do not define gender. Regardless of what we have beneath our clothes our gender is defined in ways beyond our body. Further, the gender we know ourselves to be is a deeply personal experience — if we have the courage to explore it.

No one would ever ask, “Katie, what does your vagina look like today? You’ve given birth twice, right? Has it lost any elasticity?” So why should she ask Carrera what status her genitalia is currently in? How is that Couric’s or her audience’s right to know? And how is that relevant to the gender Carrera knows or expresses?

Asking about sex organs is a) inappropriate and b) shortsighted to understanding the experience of being transgender.

If Couric was more aware of her own gender she would never dare view Carrera as a person who should have to describe the anatomy between her legs. While it may be very personally pertinent to how Carrera feels as a human being, it is no one’s prerogative to use her genitalia or state of transition to make a judgment on her gender. It’s simply not relevant to how we should see Carrera.

With class and compassion Carrera and Cox seized upon the “teachable moment” themselves, highlighting the horrific violence, oppression and discrimination transgender people face. But what doubled the disappointment was that Couric did not listen. She had a list of questions in her head and could not lead the dialogue appropriately. She hadn’t even bothered to learn correct vocabulary, making her use of “transgenders” majorly cringe worthy.

Nonetheless, whether we are transgender or not, why should anyone care what anyone else’s genitals look like? We are all born with what we have and the only reason someone may assert that our body is ‘wrong’ is if that body doesn’t meet the expectation placed upon it. Remove the expectation and allow that human being to just be. Only we know what it’s like to experience being ourselves. Neither Carrera’s nor Couric’s genitalia define the “correctness” of their bodies.

People who are not transgender, who do indeed identify with their sex assigned at birth, are known as cisgender. I would make a guess that Couric is cisgender.

The cisgender obsession with transgender people’s sex organs indicates that cisgender people don’t really know enough about what defines their own state of being. Quite frankly, if as Couric says, “it’s still a mystery to some people,” then go read a biology book or Google it. Stop and think about what defines your own gender. Does Couric really think that it’s her own vagina that makes her a woman? If you’re curious as to the pain level of gender reassignment surgery (GRS) imagine the pain level of any other surgery. Or ask about the fearful pain of isolation due to cisgender lack of self-awareness and awareness of others.

If Couric wants to give a platform to raise awareness and understanding of what it is to be transgender, then she should help her audience come to understand gender dysphoria. Help them understand what it is like for the world to tell you that you’re somebody who you know deep down inside that you’re not. She should ask what it is like to find the courage to realize this. Then ask how you find the incredible bravery to share those thoughts and feeling with another person. Finally, in spite of transgender people facing massively higher rates of murder, rape, unemployment, homelessness, and many other terrors, ask how they find the valor to be who they authentically know they are.

After all of this, Couric’s response to the outcry was this is a “teachable moment.” Yeah, thanks to Carrera and Cox who made the lemonade! Okay, Couric’s train wreck did get people talking, which is always a good thing. But there was no apology. And how much did she, her employer, or her audience learn when today there’s a link on her website to “Meet the Children Who Feel They Were Born in the Wrong Body”? Really? If anything had been taught this should read, “Meet the Children Who Do Not Identify With Their Sex Assigned At Birth.” And again, there was no apology.

To understand more about being transgender we need to talk more about being human. We’re all assigned a sex at birth, but we don’t all agree with the gender that is associated with that original label. Some courageous people actually have the wherewithal to speak up, do something about it and live their life authentically, which is a lot more than many cisgender people do in the world.

Follow Fiona Dawson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/fionajdawson

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Being Transgender Is Not About Surgery

I am not my genitals

Star Laverne Cox responds perfectly to Katie Couric’s preoccupation with genitals.

First, for anyone who considers my posting of this article to be “appropriation” of transgender issues:

FUCK YOU.

Get off your ass and quit your damned whining.  I’m your fucking ally and at least I’m doing something instead of sitting around bashing cis people.  I am posting the words and deeds of a transgender person.  If one cis person learns something from my blog, then I’ve made a difference.  If one trans person is not raped, tortured, murdered and her body mutilated because I happen to say the right thing to someone… or someone who’s read something I’ve written says something to someone, or someone who’s read something I’ve written says something to someone who says something to someone… then I’ve made a difference.  WTF kind of positive impact do you think you’re having on the world when you sit around with your head up your ass spewing “die cis scum” when people are trying to be helpful?

My sincerest apologies for this brief digression to the 99.9% of trans people I have encountered who have bent over backwards to be nice to me.   ♥  I offer no apologies to cis people because many are, in fact, “cis scum.” 

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Reprinted from Salon 
TUESDAY, JAN 7, 2014 04:11 PM EST

Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric’s invasive questions about transgender people

“The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people,” the actress explained to Couric

Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric's invasive questions about transgender peopleLaverne Cox

Transgender model Carmen Carrera and “Orange is the New Black” star Laverne Cox sat down on Monday with Katie Couric to discuss their careers, upcoming projects, and their experiences as high-profile transgender women using their platforms to bring issues of trans justice to national attention.

But Couric, it seems, was mostly interested in talking to both women about their genitalia, in order to “educate” others who may not be “familiar with transgenders.”

After her clueless deployment of “transgenders” as a noun, Couric referred to an earlier segment during which Carrera had (rightly) deflected her invasive questions about surgery and trans bodies (“I don’t want to talk about it, it’s really personal,” Carrera said in reply), then pushed the issue again to Cox, whose response was absolutely perfect:

I do feel there is a preoccupation with that. The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans peoples’ lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things.

Cox then turned her attention to the recent murder of Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old trans woman, and the staggering rate of violence against trans people in the United States. “By focusing on bodies we don’t focus on the lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination,” she concluded.

Click here for the link to Salon‘s article and to see the video.

COCKroach RATfem “Protecting” Her TERF From Imaginary Demons

COCKRoach RATFem Bitch Brennan pisses on fire hydrant to protect her TERF

Bitch Brennan Pissing on Fire Hydrant to Protect Her TERF

TERF

Definition

Acronym for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. That group of feminists that claims that trans women aren’t really women, as biological determinism is only a fallacy when used against them, not when they use it against others.

Usage

Isn’t it mindboggling that the Royal College of Psychiatrists would invite a TERF like Julie Bindel to come talk at a study day on transgenderism and transsexuality? That’s like inviting Fred Phelps to come deliver the keynote at a gay pride. http://queerdictionary.tumblr.com/post/3891289414/terf

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TERF.   Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.   I learned a new acronym today in the midst of the KKKristian right’s latest efforts to malign transender people by bullying a transgender teen in Colorado.   It seems that RATfem COCKroach CatBitch Brennan—a lesbian—is siding with the  Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), an organization that endorses—even promotes—scientifically de-bunked gay conversion “therapy,” and is aligning herself with right-wing anti-gay activists who hate people just like her.  I guess that makes her a whore as well as a hypocrite.  Geez, that piece of RATrash scum gives cis women, lesbians, real feminists and the rest of humanity a bad name.

I originally read about this story in the UK’s Daily Mail, which has since removed their article from its site. The Examiner printed a well-placed retraction and apology, but the conservative media, including Faux News continues to perpetuate the lies.  Nobody has personally apologized to the teen; this was verified and communicated to me directly from the girl’s mother.  Lies, LIES and more LIES.  http://www.transadvocate.com/daily-news-pulls-story-examiner-prints-retraction-fox-news-keeps-the-lie-going.htm I only recently started spending more time online and have been neglecting this blog.  In normal circumstances, I would have addressed this story here; however, I found myself involved peripherally in the story, as the girl being bullied in the KKKristian right’s latest ploy to malign transgender people (who I will refer to as “J,” both because I do not out people and because she is a minor) sent me a Facebook friend request after I posted a few supportive comments to her, and I have been busy posting updates and facts on Facebook pages as well as supportive comments to “J” and her family since.  I was pleased to be able to connect “J’s” mom w/Cristan Williams, Editor of the Transadvocate; look for an in-depth interview with “J” and her  family by Cristan in the Transadvocate in the next few days. https://www.facebook.com/transadvocate/posts/10151712762962532. I will try to update soon; meanwhile, I’ll likely be posting on facebook:    But first I gotta ask:

…WTF is wrong With the Queen TERF?

Besides the obvious?  For a lesbian so preoccupied with penises, it is certainly a question worthy of consideration.  I wonder what her current company would say???

“All that fucking dyke needs is a good fuck by a real man.  THAT’ll show her.”

“She’s too ugly to get a man so she’s pretending to BE a man.  That’s why she’s a lesbian.”

“She wants to be a man.  That’s why she seduces our women and takes our jobs away from us.  That’s why those lezzie dykes will burn in hell.”

“I can’t let that butch bitch near my family.  She’s a predator.”

“Don’t let that bull-dyke near children.  She’ll try to convert them to homosexuality.  Fucking Perverts.”

Oh, wow.  Does any of that sound familiar?  All I can tell you is that I’ve seen what this RatFem-preoccupied-with-penises-COCKroach looks like and we’ve all seen what she is:  My trans women friends are far more beautiful—both inside and out. 

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More About Pronouns

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In 2009, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that more than 97% of transgender individuals had experienced some form of harassment or discrimination at work [and] 47% had been fired, denied a promotion, or refused a position because of their gender identity [number formats edited.]  http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/fact_sheets/transsurvey_prelim_findings.pdf

This post, about the transition of Risa Bear while a librarian at the University of Oregon, is a followup to my post “The Power of Pronouns.”blank line for blog

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The Pronoun Problem

By: Nov 5, 2010
Photography:   •  Illustration: ,

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Tucked back at the edge of the University of Oregon Library’s main floor was Risa Bear’s territory when she worked at the University of Oregon Knight Library for twelve years.

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“It started with a bathroom,” says Risa Bear, retired University of Oregon librarian.

When her bosses learned that she had begun her gender transition, they assigned her a key to the locked, unisex, management bathroom for nearly eight months. They did this to avoid any questions or stares that would make co-workers feel uncomfortable. However, after months of sprinting the 0.8 miles across the library to the management bathroom, Bear decided that it was her time to visit the ladies’ room.

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Lauren Jow

Illustrations by Lauren Jow

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Sitting in a faded green rocking chair one year into retirement, Bear smiles and sips her tea, always aware of where the closest bathroom is. In 2006, at the age of fifty-seven, Richard Bear became Risa after undergoing genital surgery. Despite the tilted heads, cocked eyebrows, and questioning voices, Bear acknowledges that she was among the lucky few to keep their jobs while transitioning.

Dr. Jillian Weiss, a professor at Ramapo College who transitioned at the age of thirty-seven, explains that being fired is the biggest fear when an individual decides to transition.

“We spend so much time at work that this business environment transforms into a social organization,” says Weiss. “Even in a great work environment, it typically takes at least a month for people to adjust to the notion of their co-worker taking on a new identity.”

Bear emphasizes that it was because of the support of those around her that her transition was so smooth. She explains that many of the negative comments she could have heard from students or visitors of the library were deflected by a close group of friends and co-workers who continuously looked out for her.

“I had 300 friends before I transitioned, and 300 friends after I transitioned,” says Bear.

She kept her friends by being someone that other people wanted to know. No matter her gender, Bear was a friend to those around her.

In 2009, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that more than ninety-seven percent of transgender individuals had experienced some form of harassment or discrimination at work. Forty-seven percent had been fired, denied a promotion, or refused a position because of their gender identity.

However, Weiss explains that in the last decade, these trends have begun to shift. Since 1982, gender identity protection laws have begun sprouting in states in order to protect individuals from being fired because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“It’s not right for someone to be fired because of their gender identity,” says Weiss. “If you think about it, everyone is a little transgender. A woman who works on cars and a man who likes to cook, they are both transitioning across the lines of [stereotypical] gender roles.”

Nevertheless, discrimination because of gender continues. In 2009, a federal judge ruled that Special Forces veteran Diane Schroer be compensated with $491,190 in back pay and benefits, emotional pain and suffering, and out of pocket expenses for the discrimination she faced for being a transgender person. This ruling penalized the Library of Congress for refusing Schroer a job when she announced that she was transitioning from male to female.

From the media to the government, Bear explains that transgender individuals are given the lowest amount of civil rights. In fact, “We’re no longer people, we’re objects,” she says. “If you want to make people feel like they have no rights, like they don’t even belong in society and have no right to ask to be treated like equals, start by telling them that they are less than human.”

According to Bear, the vast majority of people are accepting of transgender people. Once they have the opportunity to meet and work with a transgender individual, their stereotypes disappear. However, until that time, they often know very little and assume that whatever stereotypes presented by the media and other outlets are true.

“People tend to not have an opinion,” says Bear. “The opinions they do have are generated from shows like Cops.” Bear explains that the comical representation of transgender people, large men stumbling in low-cut dresses, paints a very harmful picture.

While people are beginning to take the situation seriously, Bear emphasizes that right now, transgender individuals need “media outlets that will present people for who they are and what they do rather than what they are.”

However, without the necessary steps, transgender people still face fierce discrimination in and out of the workplace. In Illinois, the discrimination of transgender people proceeds far beyond the cubical. Victoria Kirk and Karissa Rothkopf sued Illinois for not changing their gender on their birth certificates. Still, the state explained that this was difficult because both women had their surgeries performed by doctors outside of the United States.

Whether navigating the impressions of others or lessening evidence of physical differences for the workplace, Bear explains that there is always a barrier to be broken.

Bear began her career at the University of Oregon while still Richard. However, when she decided to transition, she began leaving her co-workers subtle signs of femininity—a pair of earrings or a barrette in her hair. Bear recalls the evening of August 7, 2003. It was after a day of dressing up and taking pictures that Bear ordered her first set of pills. When she began to take estrogen, she also began to transition.

In 2006, Bear proceeded with her Real Life Test, a psychological examination to ensure that one is ready to change genders and fit into a new role. In Homecomings, Bear’s blog, she recalls a difficult segment of the transition process—changing psychologists three times to find one sympathetic to her experience.

“He inquired into my childhood. He listened to my vocabulary, enunciation and phrasing,” she writes of one psychologist. “He watched my body language. I had a feeling I was not feminine enough for him.”

After completing the required number of sessions, Bear requested a surgery. She flew to Miami where there was a surgeon who was competent, yet affordable. Post-surgery, Bear grew her hair longer and began wearing dresses that covered most of her still slightly masculine figure. Bear explains that she knew that she would never be a “beautiful woman,” but would rather settle for an “old lady.” However, she began to allow herself to wear makeup and jewelry outside of the house, in order to make her new persona more apparent to the public eye.

“I realize this makes me sound a little shallow,” Bear says. “But, I was always afraid of being seen as grotesque.”

Upon returning to work, Bear found that her colleagues were very supportive. Rarely did she encounter conflicts. The “pronoun problem,” as Bear refers to it, is one of the most hurtful mistakes that people make when working with a transgender person. This is often a slip of the tongue, when someone uses “he” instead of “she,” or vice versa.

“It’s the kind of mistake that crushes you and leaves your confidence on the floor for weeks,” Bear says as she chokes back a tear.

Weiss, however, takes a more moderate position to this issue. She explains that transgender individuals need to understand that it’s a transition for their peers as well. It takes time for the mind to adjust to new names and pronouns.

Bear suggests approaching a transgender co-worker in a gentle way with a simple variation of the question: “What pronoun would you like me to use?” She adds that this practice is done throughout the University of Oregon’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) groups and is very successful.

As a transitioning counselor, Weiss is often asked to assist companies when an employee is transitioning. When doing so, she breaks the process into three main steps.

First, she pulls all company records and policies to ensure that they are transgender friendly.

“There are so many sensitive issues that need to be changed,” explains Weiss. “And it’s not the transgender employee’s responsibility to educate their employer on the issues.”

Instead, Weiss looks at bathroom policies, paychecks, changing names on payroll, emails and much more to ensure a smooth transition.

Next, Weiss holds an intensive training for management. She talks to them about what it means to be transgender and how the transition will affect their employees. Weiss prepares management to be supportive while not changing the working environment.  An ideal employer, according to Weiss, is one who seeks outside resources to aid in the transition. Hiring a human resources consultant to work specifically with the transition, or doing research that takes pressure away from the transgender individual helps show support.

Finally, a similar training is held for co-workers.

“This session is more casual, allowing everyone to ask questions and understand that the transition won’t affect their work environment.”

Weiss explains that often colleagues ask questions in good faith, but enter very personal territory that the transitioning individual may not be comfortable answering. These questions include asking what sort of surgery or medications they are using. Rather, it is appropriate to be inquisitive about how this will change their relationship with the transgender individual, not about the details of the transition itself.

“People are usually curious about what they should do if a client calls for Mr. Smith, but Mr. Smith is now Ms. Smith,” Weiss says.

These are issues that Weiss helps associates navigate and practice. She stresses that within the first month, most kinks are worked out and by the end of the year, pronoun and name changes are hardly even a conscious effort.

“It wouldn’t be the end of the world if you asked the transgender individual ‘why’ he or she is transitioning, but remember that when someone’s at work, he or she is just trying to do the job—regardless of gender,” she says.

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At age 57 in 2006, Risa Bear decided to undergo a transformation so that her outside appearance matched what she felt inside of her.

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Lonnie Sexton, a colleague and friend of Bear’s, says that as Bear gained confidence in her new identity, she became a role model to others. Sexton explains that Bear is an individual who is even tempered and has always been a joy to be around. She also speaks of Bear as a role model for students. “Those [students] grappling with transgender identity could look to [Bear] as a model of a smooth transformation. She has confidently integrated her transformation with other aspects of her life—work, friendships, and family.”

Throughout this process, Bear says that her peers were aware and supportive of her decisions.

“Risa, keep your knees closed,” repeats Bear in recollection of the best advice an associate ever gave her.

“I knew and liked Richard Bear as a co-worker,” says Sexton in reference to the transformation. “However, I was not very close with him. I was interested in his poetry, and we exchanged pleasantries, but that was the extent of our relationship. On the other hand, I have become very friendly with Risa Bear. It’s interesting that she is the same person, but I definitely relate better to her as a woman. This says more about me than her.”

“There are a lot of rules about transitioning—I broke them all,” Bear says with a chuckle. However, she advises everyone about to delve into their own transition to invest in a nice set of thank you cards and Hershey’s Kisses. “Express your gratitude and show appreciation when people are nice to you,” says Bear. She explains that her own gratitude paid off greatly when people would stop by to give her a hug or when a woman would pause and whisper “welcome” to her.

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Pride & The “T” in “LGBT”

(Original photo was posted on Equality Florida’s Facebook page.)

The St. Petersburg Pride Parade, the largest Pride celebration in the State of Florida and the 4th largest in the Southeastern US will take place on this Saturday, June 29, 2013.  More than 100,000 people from all over Florida (and from all over the country!) are expected to attend.  The Pride festival is the largest single-day event in the City of St. Petersburg.

I’ve marched in the parade the past 3 years, with 3 different groups.  Based on the depressing experience I had last year (see my blog entry “Where is the Pride?” for a blow-by-blow description of that fiasco), I have been procrastinating on finding a group to march with this year.  Last year I marched with a trans* group and while I would like more than anything to show my support for my trans* friends in the same way again this year, I felt like such an outsider last year that I don’t think I’m going to do that again.  I identified a new group to march with, but my daughter is marching with that group and I don’t think the wannabe independent adolescent wants her Mom there….

Anyway, I’ll figure it out.  In the meantime, I saw this article on Kira Moore’s blog Kira Moore’s Closet and thought it both timely and replete with facts and challenges faced by transgender people:

Swirly divider

The Seattle Times

Transgender people say they’re ready for the spotlight

Transgender activists have planned a march and festival during Seattle’s Pride celebrations to increase visibility of a little-understood segment of the LGBT community.

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times staff reporter

Originally published June 23, 2013 at 9:03 PM | Page modified June 23, 2013 at 10:49 PM

They are the “T” in LGBT and arguably the most maligned segment of that community.

Many transgender men and women face hardships in routine areas of daily life. They are twice as likely as the general population to be unemployed or homeless and four times as likely to live in poverty.

Some 90 percent said in a 2011 national survey that they had encountered discrimination at work, and more than one in three attempt suicide at some point in their lives. 

Such dire statistics are part of what inspired Danielle Askini, a 30-year-old transgender activist, and a group of volunteers, to organize Trans Pride in Seattle during the week set aside at the end of June each year to mark the historical launch of the nation’s gay-rights movement.

Executive director of a Seattle organization called the Gender Justice League, Askini said the goal is to help promote visibility of a population often in the shadows of its higher-profile gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

“For us there are some very distinct political and sociological justice struggles that the LGBT community has not always been the best in addressing,” said Askini, who lives in Kirkland and is program manager for QLaw, the state’s LGBT bar association.

“Some of us are calling this our coming-out party.”

The Williams Institute, a national think tank that does public-policy research on sexual orientation and gender identity, estimates there are 700,000 transgender people in the U.S. — people whose birth-assigned sex does not match the gender to which they feel they belong.

Trans Pride celebrations are planned for a number of U.S. cities this year.

In Seattle, one is scheduled for Friday, beginning with a 6 p.m. march from Seattle Central Community College on Capitol Hill to Cal Anderson Park, followed by a festival at the park.

Starting to gain visibility

It’s been 44 years since the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York launched the gay-rights movement.

And in cities across the country, the LGBT community marks the anniversary with colorful pageantry — including a parade down Fourth Avenue in Seattle followed by a festival at Seattle Center and smaller celebrations throughout the month.

In the 1990s, transgender people began participating in Seattle Pride for the first time — one of the first cities where that occurred — and in 1997 hosted their own Trans Pride Rally, which drew about 150 people onto Broadway on Capitol Hill.

In recent years, as the broader LGBT community has built strong alliances and gained broad acceptance, the particular needs of transgender people have been getting more attention, too.

The Social Security Administration recently announced it would no longer require proof of surgery to alter the gender ID of individuals in its records; other federal agencies also have relaxed requirements for documents such as passports and visas.

Transgender men and women also have gained protection against discrimination in areas such as housing and employment in Washington, 15 other states and the District of Columbia, and more than half of all Fortune 500 companies now have nondiscrimination policies in place.

During the first August weekend each year, thousands from across the world attend the Gender Odyssey conference in Seattle, an international event focusing on the needs of transgender and gender-variant individuals.

And a growing number of employers nationwide, including Microsoft, have expanded their insurance coverage to meet the needs of transgender workers — a major area of concern for the community.

Creating energy

Still, transgender people — who can be either gay or straight — have not gained the kind of visibility that the gay community has.

Nor have they experienced the kind of broad successes the gay community has won in recent years, with same-sex marriage now legal in 12 states, including Washington, and the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which banned openly gay military service. The U.S. military still prohibits transgender people from serving openly.

Marsha Boxter is co-founder and chair of the Ingersoll Gender Center, a Seattle-based organization that works with transgender people and has become one of their best known advocates on a local and national level.

She said “like any group, there’s a period of survival, early organizing, then a stage where the community widens and matures, and at some point there’s the public identification of the community.”

The transgender community has now arrived at that point, she said.

Trans Pride, in which Ingersoll will participate, should help “increase visibility for the community; and if it brings more energy at all — and it will — that’s always welcome and wonderful,” she said.

Boxter said the findings of the national poll, conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, are mirrored in Washington state, where concerns over joblessness and underemployment are among the reasons the Ingersoll center began an employment project.

Advocates believe transgender people face discrimination in large part because of how they may look — a male-to-female transgender person might be much taller than the average woman or have a deeper voice, or a trans male might still have hips and female breasts.

Some employers might find that unsettling, out of sync with their view of gender as being immutable.

Health-care concerns

Access to health care, particularly health-insurance coverage, is another primary concern for transgender men and women.

Most employer-based health-insurance plans exclude coverage for transition-related treatment and other care on the grounds they’re cosmetic or elective in nature — claims that have been challenged by medical professionals.

Fred Swanson, executive director of the Gay City Health Project, Trans Pride’s fiscal sponsor, said an added community concern is the high rate of HIV.

Part of the problem, Swanson said, is that transgender people are not accessing health care at the same level as the general population, in part because of the challenge in finding culturally competent medical providers they feel they can trust.

“For gays and lesbians, that’s a challenge,” he said. “For transgender and gender variant individuals, it’s very difficult.”

He points to Centers for Disease Control statistics that show male-to-female transgender people have an HIV rate of 28 percent. Gay City will make the first mass distribution of home HIV test kits in King County during Trans Pride and other Pride events that weekend.

Askini, 30, who was raised by foster parents from around age 15 when she began transitioning to female, represents a new generation of activists. Like many young people throughout the LGBT movement, she is eager for change.

But she and other transgender people recognize the limitations of the law in addressing many of the challenges they face.

Laws alone, she points out, won’t stop negative media portrayals or prevent transgender people from taking their own lives. “The law can’t force your neighbor to like you,” Askini said.

She believes society is growing more familiar with those in her community as transgender people come out publicly.

Chaz Bono, the only child of celebrities Cher and Sonny Bono, announced his transition from female to male about four years ago, and President Obama three years ago became the first U.S. president to appoint a transgender person to his administration.

Askini believes the next step is for transgender people to gain more acceptance through visibility, by allowing others to get to know them as neighbors, co-workers and friends — much as the larger gay and lesbian community has done.

“That cultural shift has started to happen,” she said. “The reason we started Trans Pride is to highlight that, to increase visibility, while creating something where we in the community can see one another and celebrate ourselves.”

Lornet Turnbull: 206-464-2420 or lturnbull@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @turnbullL.

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2021257244_transpridexml.html

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Flies Eat Shit, Frogs Eat Flies But… Kermit Won’t Eat at Chick-Fil-A

I usually stick to posting strictly trans-related material here, but I really like Kermit.  

Jim Henson’s Muppets Split With Chick-Fil-A Over Gay Rights

Reprinted from ABC News
By Annie Rose
Jul 23, 2012 4:58pm

A Chick-fil-A in Atlanta. Mike Stewart/AP Photo

Customers going to Chick-fil-A in search of a Muppets-inspired toy along with their Chick-n-Strips will be greatly disappointed.  The toys are no more.  The Jim Henson Company, founded by the creator of The Muppets, has severed all ties with Chick-fil-A and announced on its Facebook page that “we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.”

The Jim Henson Company had formed a partnership with Chick-fil-A at the beginning of summer in order to feature Jim Henson’s Creature Shop toys in kids’ meals from July until Aug. 18. Then, Chick-fil-A’s president, Dan McCarthy, announced his support of Christian organizations that oppose gay marriage.

In an interview with The Baptist Press earlier this month, McCarthy was upfront: “We are very much supportive of the family  — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that,” said McCarthy.

A report from the LGBT advocacy group Equality Matters said that Chick-fil-A donated more than $3 million from 2003 to 2009 to Christian groups that oppose homosexuality. The company then escalated its donations, giving $2 million to such causes in 2010 alone, according to Equality Matters.

On its Facebook page, The Jim Henson Company mentions its CEO, Lisa Henson, as a “strong supporter of gay marriage.”

The Jim Henson Company says it will be donating its final residual check from Chick-fil-A to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.   http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/07/jim-hensons-muppets-split-with-chick-fil-a-over-gay-rights/

The Jim Henson Company’s announcement on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/notes/the-jim-henson-company/july-20-2012/10150928864755563

Muppets Don’t Tolerate Bigotry!

Reprinted from:   The Solipsistic Me
Michael Hulshof-Schmidt’s Musings About the World We Live In
July 23, 2012

As Chick-Fil-A continuesto spew its ugly venom at the LGBTQ community, The Jim Henson Company has said ENOUGH to hate and has broken ties with the homophobic fried chicken Dwarf House. Chick-Fil-A has a long-standing history of bigotry and homophobia; it is nice to see the Jim Henson Company demonstrate integrity by divorcing themselves from the squawker of oppression.

Henson Company released the following statement regarding the termination of the relationship:

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD. (http://www.glaad.org/)

TSM also has to give kudos to Boston Mayor Thomas Menino for his strong stand by vowing to not allow the chicken peddlers to open a franchise in Boston. With each voice and each act of integrity, we move toward equality and leave those that oppress us on the wrong side of history!   http://hulshofschmidt.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/muppets-dont-tolerate-bigotry/

Here are some pictures that have started circulating on Facebook since the Jim Henson Company announced its intention to terminate its relationship with Chick-fil-H8:

Boycott

It’s really too bad about Chick-fil-A being so full of hate.  I’ve been boycotting them for more than a year because of the CEO’s support of anti-LGBT hate groups, such as NOM, but I really love their sandwiches, unhealthy as they may be (what fast food isn’t unhealthy?!)    Last year someone told me that a specialty sandwich at McDonald’s tasted “exactly like” CFA’s chicken sandwich.  It did not.  But I found this video today, and although I have not yet tried this recipe, I thought I’d post a link to a video that demonstrates how to make it; the ingredients are listed on youtube with the video.  Click on the link to watch it:

Chick-Fil-Gay Sandwich

I think Kermit T. Frog has always been a friend to LGBT people.  Why else would he sing about rainbows? 😉

Click on the picture of Kermit T. Frog below to hear his rendition of the Academy Award-winning song for Best Song in 1979, “Why are There So Many Songs About Rainbows?”  It is sung by Kermit as the movie’s opening number and reprised by the whole cast of Muppets at the end of the movie. The single of this song reached #25 on Billboard’s “Hot 100 Singles” chart in 1979.

Why are There So Many Songs About Rainbows

Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they’re wrong wait and see.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that wishes would be heard and answered when wished on the morningstar?

Someone thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing and what do we think we might see?

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
All of us under its spell.
We know that it’s probably magic.
Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I’ve heard them calling my name.

Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
It’s something that I’m supposed to be.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.

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