Blog Archives

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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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.

Emma on “60 Minutes”: Grading the Parents & the Media

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This is a story about Emma, a trans girl, mostly told by her mother.  I first saw this on Suzan’s blog at http://womenborntranssexual.com/2013/06/22/emma-60-minutes/.  After the video I have posted “grades” for the parents and the media regarding their behavior and apparent attitudes.  (Preview:   The media passes, but barely.)

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GRADES:

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Parents:  A

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Media: D

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Discussion:

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Parents

The parents get an A+ for being totally supportive of Emma and honest and open about their experiences with Emma’s transgender status, particularly in such a public forum.  The only fault I found with the mother is her reference to Emma not being “normal,” although this may be a language difference (there is a substantial difference between American English and Australian English)—she may have meant “not conforming to the ‘norm’ or the average, in which case she would be using “normal” as a statistical term.

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Media

Oh, where to start?  The media gets a passing grade for covering the story at all, not over-sensationalizing and not acting like total morons.  However they need to:

  • STOP misgendering Emma by referring to her as a “boy.”  Emma has never been a boy.  She has ALWAYS been a girl.
  • STOP misgendering Emma by referring to her as the parents’ “son.”
  • STOP misgendering Emma by referring to her by her birth name.  Her name is “Emma.”  Have some respect and call her by her name.  Do YOU like people calling YOU by an incorrect name?
  • STOP, STOP, STOP misgendering Emma by using incorrect pronouns, and   
  • *F*F*S*  it is not “in her her head.”  Emma’s gender as a girl is real and it’s not going away.  Is YOURS?

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As I mentioned, I should have given the media an “F” for these behaviors.  I begrudgingly gave them a passing grade for covering the story, not being totally insensitive and not being complete assholes—only partial ones.

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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: ,

http://www.fluxstories.com/2010/11/the-pronoun-problem/blank line for blog

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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Living A Transgender Childhood

At age 9 Josie Romero—born a boy but living as a transgender girl—sought out a controversial hormone treatment that would begin transitioning her body to the opposite sex.

How in the world can anyone look at Josie and see anything other than a beautiful little girl?  All of my transgender/transsexual friends were once this little girl.   For most of them, the world they lived in at the time was even more hostile than it is today and they had to live with the pain of feeling like a freak, being treated like a freak (or worse) and feeling the need to lie about who they really were for decades.  Most were bullied any many the survivors of all types of violence:  beatings, stabbings, rapes, etc., some at the hands of their own families.  Most are currently in some stage of transition—some just contemplating starting RLE, i.e., real life experience, living full-time in the gender in which they are  (vs. the one they were assigned at birth) and a few completed transition and sex reassignment surgery decades ago.   A handful are still unable to live their lives as their real selves because of their own personal circumstances.

Whenever you see a trans* person, whenever you hear someone use the word “tranny” or tell a rude joke about transgender or transsexual people, or when you see a trans* person being bullied or harassed, think of this  little girl Josie, and F-F-S, DO somethingsay something!

Please click on the picture of Josie, below.  A new tab will open and you will be taken to the website.  The video should begin automatically and the next one should begin when that one finishes; this should continue for a total of 6 videos.   When finished watching the videos, close the tab to be returned here.   I have included links to all 6 videos, in case you cannot watch all of them now and need to come back later.  😀

Click–—↓—–There

Transgender Child Predicts her FutureJosie Romero, an 11-year-old transgender child, reads a personal essay about her life today and what she sees in the future.

Living a Transgender Chlldhood, Part 1.   Josie Romero, born a boy, believed she was born in the wrong body. By age 6, she was living as a girl.

Living a Transgender Childhood, Part 2.  Fearing that Josie was becoming emotionally unstable due to her growing boy body, her mother Venessia decides that controversial hormone therapy could help her child.

Living a Transgender Childhood, Part 3.  A moment of indecision from Josie Romero brings everything into question.

Hormone Treatment “Buys Time” for Transgender Kids.  Dr. Norman Spack, one of the first American doctors to treat transgender with hormone “blockers,” explains how these puberty-suppressing drugs “buy time” for them.

First-TIme Doctor Visit for a Transgender Child Nine-year-old Josie and her mother, Venessia pay their first visit to Dr. Johanna Olson, a pediatrician who specializes in transgender children at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Watch Your Language… PLEASE

 

Cisgender Privilege Cis People Take for Granted

If you’re cisgender, have you ever even thought about these things?  Probably not—you probably take these things for granted because you have “cisgender privilege.”  Trans* people have to consider all of these on a daily basis.

30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege


  1. Use public restrooms without fear of verbal abuse, physical intimidation, or arrest.

  2. Use public facilities such as gym locker rooms and store changing rooms without stares, fear, or anxiety.

  3. Strangers don’t assume they can ask you what your genitals look like and how you have sex.

  4. Your validity as a man/woman/human is not based on how much surgery you’ve had or how well you “pass” as non-transgender.

  5. You have the ability to walk through the world and generally blend-in, not being constantly stared or gawked at, whispered about, pointed at, or laughed at because of your gender expression.

  6. You can access gender exclusive spaces such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Greek Life, or Take Back the Night and not be excluded due to your trans status.

  7. Strangers call you by the name you provide, and don’t ask what your “real name” [birth name] is and then assume that they have a right to call you by that name.

  8. You can reasonably assume that your ability to acquire a job, rent an apartment, or secure a loan will not be denied on the basis of your gender identity/expression.

  9. You have the ability to flirt, engage in courtship, or form a relationship and not fear that your biological status may be cause for rejection or attack, nor will it cause your partner to question their sexual orientation.

  10. If you end up in the emergency room, you do not have to worry that your gender will keep you from receiving appropriate treatment, or that all of your medical issues will be seen as a result of your gender.

  11. Your identity is not considered a mental pathology (“gender identity disorder” in the DSM IV) by the psychological and medical establishments.

  12. You have the ability to not worry about being placed in a sex-segregated detention center, holding facility, jail or prison that is incongruent with your identity.

  13. You have the ability to not be profiled on the street as a sex worker because of your gender expression.

  14. You are not required to undergo an extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.

  15. You do not have to defend you right to be a part of “Queer,” and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude you from “their” equal  rights movement because of your gender identity (or any equality movement, including feminist rights).

  16. If you are murdered (or have any crime committed against you), your gender expression will not be used as a justification for your murder (“gay panic”) nor as a reason to coddle the perpetrators.

  17. You can easily find role models and mentors to emulate who share your identity.

  18. Hollywood accurately depicts people of your gender in films and television, and does not solely make  your identity the focus of a dramatic storyline, or the punchline for a joke.

  19. Be able to assume that everyone you encounter will understand your identity, and not think you’re confused, misled, or hell-bound when you reveal it to them.

  20. Being able to purchase clothes that match your gender identity without being refused service/mocked by staff or questioned on your genitals.

  21. Being able to purchase shoes that fit your gender expression without having to order them in special sizes or asking someone to custom-make them.

  22. No stranger checking your identification or drivers license will ever insult or glare at you because your name or sex does not match the sex they believed you to be based on your gender expression.

  23. You can reasonably assume that you will not be denied services at a hospital, bank, or other institution because the staff does not believe the gender marker on your ID card to match your gender identity.

  24. Having your gender as an option on a form.

  25. Being able to tick a box on a form without someone disagreeing, and telling you not to lie.  Yes, this happens.

  26. Not fearing interactions with police officers due to your gender identity.

  27. Being able to go to places with friends on a whim knowing there will be bathrooms there you can use.

  28. You don’t have to convince your parents of your true gender and/or have to earn your parents’ and siblings’ love and respect all over again.

  29. You don’t have to remind your extended family over and over to use proper gender pronouns (e.g., after transitioning).

  30. You don’t have to deal with old photographs that did not reflect who you truly are.

  31. Knowing that if you’re dating someone they aren’t just looking to satisfy a curiosity or kink pertaining to your gender identity (e.g., the “novelty” of having sex with a trans person).

  32. Being able to pretend that anatomy and gender are irrevocably entwined when having the “boy parts and girl parts” talk with children, instead of explaining the actual complexity of the issue.

http://itspronouncedmetrosexual.com/2011/11/list-of-cisgender-privileges/

RatFems on Pussy Patrol at RatFest 2012!

rat  (răt)
n.

1.

a.  Any of various long-tailed rodents resembling mice but larger, especially one of the genus Rattus.
b.  Any of various animals similar to one of these long-tailed rodents.

2.   Slang

a.   A despicable person, especially one who betrays or informs upon associates.
b.   A scab laborer.

3.   A pad of material, typically hair, worn as part of a woman’s coiffure to puff out her own hair.

Note:  I posted part of this as a comment on Suzan’s blog Women Born Transsexual back in May.

Dear Ratfesters,

I am a cisgender woman.  I don’t give a rat’s ass whether YOU like the word “cisgender” or not—it’s how I identify MYSELF, and I don’t accept other people’s labels.   But how will you know… for sure…  that I am a cisgender woman  if I show up one if your Ratfests?

Does the RatFest Pussy Patrol plan to inspect my body to make sure I have the “right” genitals.  Or perhaps do DNA testing to make sure I have 2 X chromosomes?  Or maybe look  for scars to make sure I’ve not had GRS? Still, how will you know… FOR SURE?

What if I have Klinefelter’s Syndrome (47, XXY, or XXY syndrome) in which a person is typically considered “male” but who may have 2, 3 or even 4 X chromosomes (and at least 1 but up to 5 Y chromosomes) and whose secondary sex characteristics can be ambiguous?  How about de la Chapelle syndrome (also called XX male syndrome), in which I may have male genitalia but an XX karyotype?  With either of those disorders I’d have 2 X chromosomes.  Wouldn’t having 2 X chromosomes make me a woman?  Maybe I have Swyer syndrome (XY gonadal dysgenesis)—with what appears to be a female body but without breast development (because I have no ovaries, although I do have a uterus), with an XY karyotype.   Having a uterus… wouldn’t that make me a woman?  Alternatively, I could have androgen insensitivity syndrome, in which I may also have the appearance of a woman but the XY karyotype of a male.  If I look like a woman, wouldn’t THAT make me a woman? If you only count X chromosomes you’d be in trouble if I have Turner Syndrome, in which a female has only 1 chromosome (an X).  Tell me, would I be a man because I only have 1 X chromosome or a woman because I have no Y chromosome?  If I am a woman would you be defining me by what I look like or by the lack of a Y chromosome?   Wait!  Lack of a Y chromosome… wouldn’t that be defining a woman based on something she lacks?!!!  I could really add to your trouble if I have Turner mosaicism, in which the other X chromosome is missing in some cells but not in others!  I suppose you’d become even more confused if I had Triple X (Trisomy X), Quadruple X (Tetrasomy X, 48 or XXXX), or XXXXX Syndrome (Pentasomy X, 49 or XXXXXX) in which I would have 3, 4 or 5 X chromosomes, respectively.  Ho,  hum.  

Intersex conditions can also result from 5-alpha-reductase deficiency (a genetic mutation affecting hormones necessary for the development of male genitalia, XY karyotype only, may also present with female genitalia) or  aphallia (congenital malformation in which the penis or clitoris is absent; XX or XY karyotype); Addison’s Disease (a rare, chronic endocrine disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce sufficient steroid hormones, resulting in enlarged clitoris and shallow vagina or ambiguous genitalia in girls);  Fraser Syndrome (an autosomal recessive congenital disorder that results in a micropenis in a boy or an abnormally enlarged clitoris in a girl);  acquired clitoromegaly (abnormal enlargement of the clitoris, which, in an adult woman,  is generally due to endocrine hormonal imbalance such as that seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS);  progestin-induced virilisation (fetal masculinization of female external genitalia due to pre-natal exposure to androgenic steroids); 17-beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase deficiency (a rare genetic disorder that affects testosterone biosynthesis and produces  impaired virilization of genetically male infants and children and excessive virilization of female adults, which can result in ambiguous external genitalia or complete female external genitalia at birth, regardless of karyotype); congenital adrenal hyperplasia (any of several genetic disorders that result in the excessive or deficient production of sex steroids, which can cause ambiguous external genitalia and/or alter the development of primary or secondary sex characteristics); penile agenesis (a birth defect in which a boy is born without a penis, often as a consequence of testicular agenesis); or tetragametic chimerism (the fertilization of a male and a female nonidentical twin ovum in a very early phase of development results in a mixture of tissues; chromosomal karyotypes will be male in some parts of the body and female in others; most chimeras composed of both male and female cells probably do not have an intersex condition, as often most or all of the cells of a single cell type will be composed of a single cell line, i.e. the blood may be composed prominently of one cell line, and the internal organs of the other cell line, so if the sex organs are homogeneous, the individual will not be expected to exhibit any intersex traits; may present with ambiguous genitalia, or both male and female genitalia in rare form of intersexuality formerly known as “true hermaphroditism“).

Would female genitalia make me a woman?  How about the lack of a penis?  Lack of testicles?  Lack of facial and body hair?  The presence of ovaries?   Breasts?  And how would you define me if my genitals are ambiguous or if I have both male and female genitalia—if I’m intersex?  Is it determined by how I was raised?  Is that fair—that some male doctor may have made a bad judgement call and labeled me a “boy” and my parents, not knowing any better raised me as a boy “because the doctor said so” but I’ve always known that I was a girl?

So… will the Ratfest Pussy Patrol require me to strip off all my clothes, or what?  Or  does the Ratfest Pussy Patrol plan to check my chromosomes?  You Ratfesters may have to check various parts of my body.  You might need to examine my body VERY closely.  And how are you going to know… FOR SURE?   Maybe my clit is really a dick.  Or maybe my clit is enlarged to the point where it is mistaken for a dick.  I could be a trans woman who just wants to expose myself to you or I could be a cisgender lesbian with the hottest body you’ve ever seen!  If you took that last sentence seriously, you really are a transphobic bitch.

You RatFems make me prefer to deal with ignorant, homophobic, christian fundamentalist bigots—at least they’re not hypocritical liars and are consistent with their ignorance and hate.  Who died and left you in charge of the dictionary and the right to define what a “woman” is and is not?  Who gave you the right to make arbitrary decisions to exclude people you don’t like, based on stigma, blatantly false information and flat out hate and ignorance?  Who gave you the right to lie about being inclusive of trans women when there are digital records of you stating otherwise?

There is no doubt that men have historically marginalized women. But women are also oppressed due to gender identity, race, religion, social class, perceived attractiveness, sexual orientation, and ability. No one is equal until all are equal, including trans women.  You RatFems call yourself feminists?  Ha!  My father—who hurls the words “liberal” and “feminist” at me as though they are bad things, lol, but with the vitriol usually reserved when people use slurs—is more of a feminist than you are because he believes in equal rights for all human beings.

Trans women are WOMEN.  If you RatFems pulled your heads out of your asses, took some time to educate yourselves on the subject, opened your minds and got to KNOW some transgender women, you’d know that.

There is a special place in hell for women who oppress and marginalize other women.  Have a WONDERFUL day.

“I Don’t Love You Because of Who You Are”

“I Don’t Love You Because of Who You Are” is the worst thing a parent can say to their transgender child, no matter how old the “child.”  Trans* people rejected by their parents are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide and 2 times more likely to become HIV infected.

A report on some of the youngest transgender kids, including a six-year-old girl who was born a boy, a 10-year-old boy who lives as a girl and a 16-year-old-boy who was born a girl. Barbara Walters talks to these transgender children, all diagnosed with gender identity disorder (GID), as well as to their parents, who are allowing their children to live in the gender they identify with in order to save them from a future of heartache and pain. They are sharing their personal stories to increase future understanding of transgender children.  Aired 27th April 2007.  http://www.squidoo.com/my-daughter-dresses-like-a-boy#module160154150

Click on the thumbnail to watch each video:

          Part 1                          Part 2                         Part 3

                          

BEING TRANSGENDER — 1 Butterfly Dead, 2 Women Physically & Sexually Assaulted but Survive… This Time.

Normally I just post news items like these on my Civil Rights pages.  But learning about 2 such incidents in a single day got to me…. (To view the Civil Rights page click on CIVIL RIGHTS—duh!—at the top of my blog and select the continent, country and US state—as applicableyou are interested in.)

Thanks to Suzan for bringing these 2 unfortunate incidents to my attention on her blog Women Born Transsexual , and to Lexie, from whose blog The Guerrilla Angel Report the translated version of the Swedish story was copied.

Oh, be sure not to miss the questions I posed at the end of the post; comments welcome and encouraged as always. 🙂


Transgender woman sues D.C. police, U.S. marshals

A transgender D.C. woman alleges in a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service that she was improperly placed with male prisoners after a 2009 arrest.

Patti Hammond Shaw of Southeast Washington said she turned herself in to officers at the Sixth District station on June 18, 2009, after she received a letter that stated there was a warrant for her arrest for filing a false police report. Shaw claims that she showed officers her identification that proved she was legally female, but they placed her in a cell in the men’s section. She further alleges that male prisoners “asked to see her vagina, breasts and buttocks.”  CONTINUE at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/07/03/transgender-woman-sues-d-c-police-u-s-marshals/

Rapist acquitted in Sweden because intended female victim turned out to be transgender

Note:  The original of this article was written in Swedish; this translation was obtained from “Lexie Cannes“‘ blog The Guerrilla Angel Report.

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Örebro (Sweden) District Court Judge Dan Sjöstedt acquitted the rapist because the transwoman had no vagina, the planned rape would have been impossible to carry out. [I’m constructing this from a Swedish translation into English]

The attacker brutally beat the victim and ripped off her pants in an attempt to rape her. A witness rushed to the scene and intervened. The police came and arrested the attacker.  CONTINUE at:  http://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/rapist-freed-in-sweden-because-intended-female-victim-turned-out-to-be-transgender/

Questions:

  1. Were the actions of the police in the first article right or wrong?  Why?  Does the fact that Patti provided documentation stating that she is legally a woman make a difference? Why or why not?  Does the fact that Patti underwent sex reassignment surgery 10 years before the incident make a difference? Why or why not?

  2. Assuming the translation was accurate… Was the District Court right’s decision right or wrong?  Why or why not?  Does the fact that the unidentified victim has no vagina make a difference?  Why or why not? What do you think about the concept that rape is not possible without a vagina?  Does the fact that the victim is undergoing hormone therapy (and probably has for some time, as her body has likely gone through  significant changes, e.g. breast development etc. After all the attacker did mistake her for a natal woman.) make a difference?  Why or why not?  What if she had not yet started hormone therapy?  Would that have made a difference?  Why or why not?

  3. What is a “woman”?

  4. Go back to your response to #3  and I have a question for you:  “Says who?”

Somebody to Love


The following post is reblogged from Suzan‘s post “Somebody to Love” from her blog Women Born Transsexual.

Somebody to Love

07/03/2012 — Suzan

I was thirteen when my parents first busted me for dressing up.

I learned a lot of new mean sounding words that night, words that were a lot meaner even than sissy.

I learned that it was expected that I would grow up queer and that expectation was reason enough for my parents to start withholding love and affection.

I was such an obvious transkid every  move I made, every thing I liked was cause for suspicion.

I got busted a lot over the next few years.

In 1962, I was 15. They found my clippings of April Ashley’s tabloid biography. They confronted me with it and I came out as transsexual for the first time.

My parents told me at that point:

“If you decide to be like that when you grow up, no one will ever love you, not a man, not a woman, not even queer men or women… No one.”

I was already experiencing the intense loneliness of being a small town transkid.

But I grew up cute and it was the era of free love and if there was one thing I found in great plenitude it was people to have sex with if not give me love.  CONTINUE…

Daphne

Originally posted as a note in Facebook on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 5:14pm ·

I am writing my “Being Transgender” series of notes for my intelligent and open-minded Facebook friends–those who do not live their lives in terms of prejudice and stereotypes–who may be curious about gender and transgender issues and what it means to be transgender and are interested in the experiences of transgender people but are too polite and civilized to ask.

If this applies to you, read on. If it does not, do not read this note and by all means, keep your ignorant comments to yourself  because I will not allow ANYONE to insult my transgender friends on my page. GOT IT?  NO EXCEPTIONS… I don’t care how long we’ve been friends.  Polite, thoughtful questions and comments are welcome and I’m sure will also be appreciated by my transgender friends.

Daphne Shaed, College Student, Activist, Advocate

Daphne.  Daphne Shaed lives on beautiful Vancouver Island, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  Daphne is beautiful, fabulous, awesome, amazing, prodigious, fascinating and many more complimentary adjectives. If you fail to see these qualities in her, then “bugger off!” as Daphne would say.  I met Daphne on Facebook.  Continue…

“J” and Some Definitions

This was originally posted on my Facebook page as a note on Friday, April 13, 2012 at 3:14pm ·

This was written by my woman friend “J” who had the misfortune of being born with a birth defect–she was born with a body which characteristics are generally described–i.e., labeled–by society as “male.” Individuals born with this type of birth defect, including boys born with bodies characterized as “female,” in addition to other individuals whose bodies and/or minds do not meet society’s either/or “binary” concept of gender are often referred to as “transgender.”

First, some notes written by me:

Note 1:  The correct term is “transgender,” not “transgendered.”

Note 2:  While a small number of people use the word “transsexual,” they are in the minority; it is considered offensive by many and the word “transgender” is generally the appropriate word to use, if a label is necessary at all.

Note 3:  The word “tranny” is offensive and should never be used.

Note 4: A transgender person should be referred to by the gender they are–NOT by the status of their genitals.  For example, my friend “J” is a male-to-female (MTF) transgender woman–refer to her as a “woman” as you would to any other woman.  And don’t look like an idiot–use the correct pronouns!  

Note 5: Pre-op vs. Post-op.  WHO CARES?  Do you appreciate being judged or viewed as breasts or genitals?  I didn’t think so. Is the state of your genitals anyone else’s business?  So mind your own!  A woman is a woman and a man is a man and if someone defines themselves as both, neither or a third, fourth or other gender, that is also none of your business.  

Note 6:  This is a great video to watch to avoid the usual mistakes made by cisgender people (i.e, those born with bodies that conform with their genders):


Okay.  Here is J’s note:

Seven days from now I will have been admitted to ████████ Hospital for the surgery which will at last bring my physical body into line with my mind and my spirit. I and others like me have had many labels applied to us. Transsexual, Transgender, Male to Female, even Gender Bender the list goes on. Actually these days I can’t hear the term Gender Bender said or written without thinking of this:

But anyway, it doesn’t really matter to me what label is used to describe me, I’m way past worrying about it or how other people see me. I don’t really know if I would say I finally get to be the real me, because the real me has always been there. What I would say though is that I will finally get to look in a mirror and not be horrified or distraught or even sickened by the reflection looking back at me.

It has taken me a very long time to get to where I am now and to actually manage to stop feeling a sense of guilt over being so single minded that I would stop at nothing to get to where I need to be. There have been times when I thought I would never make it through, and that things had gotten to hard for me to go on. I admit that I have stared into the abyss on more than one occasion and once the abyss actually stared back.  I have a three inch vertical scar on my wrist as a reminder of the day when I subconsciously or otherwise decided that it was the only way to make the pain stop. Now I am thankful that my life didn’t end in that second and that I am still here and fighting.

For a long time, I carried the legacy of my Roman Catholic upbringing, which I now realise has held me back from being myself. I stopped being a Catholic many years ago, pretty much when I learned to assert myself with my parents. Please don’t get the impression from this that I was unhappy with my parents or thought that they didn’t love me, because that really is the furthest thing from the truth. I loved them very much, and although my mother drives me absolutely berserk at times I still love her dearly. My lovely dad has gone though, taken very young some 16 years ago now from a heart attack. I still miss him very much, and its actually made me cry thinking  about him just now. The sad thing is that he never really knew the daughter he had all along. My mother on the other hand does know me but just doesn’t want me. Hard as that is for me to deal with, I guess I have no choice but to do so.

I don’t have any particular fond memories of my teenage years, especially those at school where I was bullied for a lot of the time. I was different from those around me, there is no denying that fact. I did not fit into the miniature society that was high school in an industrial area of [an area in the UK] in the middle 1970’s. My  life at school was made hell by bullying on a daily basis. I have to say though that the physical violence which had become very much a part of my school life at the time was difficult, but it paled into insignificance when compared against the constant, insidious, psychological cruelty I faced at that time. I knew very clearly who the main perpetrators were, but there was also those who were involved for fear of being singled out themselves. If I met these people today, I can’t say that I would seek out their friendship, but neither would I wish them any harm. They, every bit  as much as me, were a product of their upbringing and environment, and although it doesn’t excuse what they did it at least goes some way to explain it.

Facebook has been blamed on more than one occasion for being an easy way for people to be bullied on line. But Facebook and other social media can have a big part to play in being part of the solution. In my darkest days in school had Facebook existed and there had been someone there like the fantastic Lyndsay Winegarden whose work with Stop Teenage Suicide is nothing short of inspirational, life despite bullying would have been slightly easier,as I would have had somewhere to turn when in fact there was no one at that time. I went to a teacher one time for help and was told to stop being such a girl. The irony of that comment stays with me today. If I could say to one person who is going through bullying in any way it would be this:  Do not ever keep it to yourself, there are good people who will help you, and you just need to find the courage to reach out to them. 

Today as I move headlong towards the big day life is good. I have many friends on Facebook who keep me going, make me laugh, and occasionally post stuff that makes me think wtf? but I wouldn’t change any of you for all of that. To all of  of the fantastic [friends] S████, Jody, E████G████C████, A████, V████, K████,L████, E████, E████, C████, K████, T████, L████ G,████. You are such fabulous ladies and together we would probably make the world sit up and go wtf 😀 And to everyone at [groupname] especially the wonderful D████ [group administrator] I just love the discussions and randomness which appear so often on the page just fabby.

And there is one lady in particular I have to make special mention of.. the gorgeous and completely wonderful Miss S████. My darling I love you unquestioningly unconditionally and without measure. You are my reason, my muse and I will be with you always my love.

And so as Sunday April 8 the Day of Oestara comes to a close for me good night to all and to all a good night. Actually why say good night twice in that sentence? I’ve never really understood that and…and.. *mutters something about stupid expressions and goes to lie down in a darkened room.

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