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United Nations Reports: Reparative “Therapy” is Torture

Major Points: Every  reputable mental health or medical association in the US denounces conversion or reparative “therapy” as harmful to its victims.

  • The United Nations defines reparative “therapy” of transgener people as torture.
  • The UN calls for national laws prohibiting conversion and reparative “therapy” and calls for prosecution of those who violate those laws.
  • Americans, particularly “Christian counselors” continue to engage in this practice, even though it is based on pseudoscience and  its practice denounced by every reputable medical organization.
  • “Leelah’s Law” is being proposed to stop reparative “therapy” in the US on a national level, both in the interest of stopping the torture of children and in helping prevent more needless suicides.

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I’d like to thank Lexie Cannes for bringing the UN report to my attention.


NOTE:  This post was written for Leelah’s Law: Support the Ban on Conversion Therapy and is reprinted here. This post may be reproduced only if it is reproduced in its entirety, including copyright notices.
© Jody Ann Malsbury & The Transgender Human Rights Institute.

 

There is nothing therapeutic about so-called reparative “therapy.” The American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA), in its 2012 “Position Statement on Attempts to Change Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression” stated:

Psychoanalytic technique does not encompass purposeful attempts to “convert,” “repair,” change or shift an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Such directed efforts are against fundamental principles of psychoanalytic treatment and often result in substantial psychological pain by reinforcing damage in internalized attitudes [emphasis added].

 

In fact, all other reputable medical and mental health professional associations in the US have denounced this practice: The American Psychiatric Association (APA), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) the American Psychological Association (APA), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), just to name a few.

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We Americans pride ourselves in being technologically innovative, socially advanced and somehow superior to the rest of the world. Despite the recent revelations about GW and the Torture Report revealing war crimes committed during his reign of terror, we Americans don’t generally view ourselves as barbaric people who torture children. Well, not so, according to the United Nations.

In a “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” made to the Human Rights Council of the UN, it was noted that:

…“members of sexual minorities are disproportionately subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment because they fail to conform to socially constructed gender expectations. Indeed, discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity may often contribute to the process of the dehumanization of the victim, which is often a necessary condition for torture and ill-treatment to take place.” [emphasis added] (page 19)

 

Discriminating against, denying or trying to change someone’s gender identity or gender expression is clearly dehumanizing, as it seeks to malign or erase a core part of someone’s concept of who they are.  Among recommendations in the report were for all nations:

… to repeal any law allowing intrusive and irreversible treatments, including forced genital-normalizing surgery, involuntary sterilization, unethical experimentation, medical display, reparative therapies” or “conversion therapies”, when enforced or administered without the free and informed consent of the person concerned. [emphasis added] (page 23)

 

Without the free and informed consent of the person concerned.”  Why would someone consent to what the UN itself has defined as torture? In any case, a minor child is legally unable to provide informed consent, therefore, any parent who subjects their child to so-called reparative or conversion “therapy”—clearly defined as torture by the UN—is violating at least 3 of the UN’s recommendations:

  1. Torture (child abuse, really) in the form of reparative “therapy”
  2. Lack of informed consent
  3. Lack of consent by the person concerned.

 

Finally, the UN report also calls for all nations to:

Promote accountability for torture and ill-treatment in health-care settings by identifying laws, policies and practices that lead to abuse; and enable national preventive mechanisms to systematically monitor, receive complaints and initiate prosecutions….  [emphasis added] (page 21)

 

I guess we’ll have to wait  and see when Leelah’s Law is enacted to see what the likelihood of anyone actually being prosecuted will be.

 

Jody Ann Malsbury, MSW
LCSW, Retired; license no longer active
Clinical Social Worker & Psychotherapist

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The Transgender Human Rights Institute is the first 501(c)3 transgender international human rights organization specifically organized for transgender rights worldwide.


© Jody Ann Malsbury & The Transgender Human Rights Institute.  This post may be reproduced only if it is reproduced in its entirety, including copyright notices.

 

 

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Enact Leelah’s Law to Ban Transgender Conversion Therapy

 

Petitioning President Barack Obama and 3 others

This petition will be delivered to:

President Barack Obama
Senator Harry Reid
Representative Nancy Pelosi

Note:  As of this writing, this petition had more than 170,000 signers. 

Jennifer & Marc: A Real-Life Love Story

Marc Süselbeck with the woman he loved – his fiancée Jennifer Laude   (before her savage and senseless murder by a US Marine)

An open letter to the bashers/detractors of murdered transgender Jennifer Laude, from her fiancé Marc Süselbeck

Following is a compilation of messages from Marc Süselbeck received by one Jennifer’s friends. Apparently Marc does not have a Facebook account but wanted to respond to some of the vile comments that he’s heard since Jennifer’s death. An update about Marc’s status and some final comments follow.

Posted on Facebook on October 8, 2014

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As if things couldn’t get any worse, Marc will not be able to return to the Philippines to visit Jennifer’s grave or to see her family:

 

Halloween deportation for Sueselbeck

Posted at 10/31/2014 2:56 PM | Updated as of 10/31/2014 3:40 PM

MANILA – The German fiance of slain transgender Jennifer Laude will leave the country tomorrow after his request for voluntary deportation was granted by the Bureau of Immigration.

Marc Sueselbeck will leave the country for Frankfurt, Germany.

His lawyer, Harry Roque, said Sueselbeck will hold a press conference prior to his departure.

Because of his voluntary deportation, Sueselback will be blacklisted and will no longer be allowed to return to the Philippines.

Sueselbeck was prevented from leaving the country last Sunday to face deportation proceedings for being an undesirable alien.

Last week, Sueselbeck and Laude’s sister Marilou climbed a perimeter fence inside Camp Aguinaldo in their search for US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton, the suspect in Laude’s killing.

Sueselbeck later apologized for his actions and said he is not a threat to the Philippines.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/10/31/14/halloween-deportation-sueselbeck

 

To report an incident of violence anywhere in the world, contact the Trans Violence Tracking Portal here.

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Besides the horrible violence of this case, which tends, unfortunately, to be the case for many murders committed against transgender persons worldwide, there are 2 things that have struck me about Jennifer and Marc:

  1. I cannot help but be in awe of Jennifer’s beauty. There is something about her pictures that makes it very difficult for me to tear my eyes away.  It’s more than about what Jennifer looked like – it’s something about her. After reading the above comments from Marc and seeing the picture of Jennifer and Marc together, I think I know what it is…blank for blog
  2.  Marc loved Jennifer.  Just how much he loved her is reflected in his writing, the way he looked at her and the radiance in her face in the photographs of her.  Not everyone gets the opportunity to experience that kind of love, and it often doesn’t come around more than once in a lifetime.  It seems pretty clear that Marc felt lucky to have met and loved Jennifer; I wonder whether anyone has ever or will ever tell Marc how lucky Jennifer was to have had his love – not because she was trans — but because he seems to be a genuinely loving and caring man and any (non-lesbian) woman would be lucky to have him.

 

 

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Trans American

Strength

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Picture courtesy of Transgender Graphics’ Facebook Page:

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Pronouns: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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This post may piss some people off.  If it pisses you off, please click on “About”, choose “This Blog” and read that page, particularly the last part about the purpose of this blog being my documenting my journey in understanding transgender and intersex issues and attempting to normalize the experiences of cisgender people to encourage them to take a similar journey.

I am being open and honest about my experiences and feelings, as ugly as some of them may seem to some of you.  I’m a 55  year old cisgender  woman who was socialized at a time when transgender people essentially did not exist:  I have biases that I am trying to unlearn and am working to own my cisgender privilege.  But I’m only human and 55 years of no information and misinformation is a lot to unlearn and it takes time; any cisgender person reading this needs to know that their feelings — their uncomfortable feelings of confusion, embarrassment, tentativeness about asking questions at the risk of offending anyone, etc. — are normal.  It is difficult knowing someone as one gender, learning they are another and then adjusting to their transition, using the correct name, pronouns, etc., and transgender people need to realize that when we screw up it’s not always due to malice.

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I have a transgender friend I met online 2 years ago before she came out publicly as trans.  So I knew her by her birth name (I will use the name “Ron” —  not her actual birth name) and her picture on Facebook was of a middle-aged, balding, male-bodied person.

I was involved in conversations when she chose her new name (I will call her “Carrie” — not her real name), and in private all of our friends called her by her new real name.  But in public I could not do that, and her name still showed up as “Ron” and her pic was still of that same middle-aged guy.

Obviously, I would never out anyone, but I felt very uncomfortable calling my friend “Ron” and I knew that doing so would also make it even more difficult for me to see her as a woman as she transitioned, so I started calling her by her last name. This may sound weird to some, but seeing the name “Ron” accompanied by a male-bodied picture made it very difficult for me to see Carrie as a woman.   I had to see my friend Carrie as a woman and I had to do everything I could to force my mind to ignore or forget information that might make me not see her as the woman she is.

I was “there” when Carrie came out publicly and it was a relief to be able to call her by her real name all the time.  She changed her Facebook profile pic to a female picture, but it was a cartoon character, not a picture of her.  So I have not been able to get that male-bodied pic of a middle-aged balding “man” out of my head, and with the name “Ron” associated with that pic in my head, it has been an onerous task getting the pronouns right when I talk to people about Carrie (without using her name, of course) and her transition.  I would never deliberately misgender someone, but as a visual person, that picture has been stuck in my brain for 2 years and I have not been able to get it out.

Well today I finally saw that Carrie has posted pictures of herself on Facebook (and WordPress). Hallelujah!   I realize that this is my issue and not Carrie’s or any other trans person’s but my difficulty with getting pronouns and gender straight in my head with conflicting visual cues is a valid experience and it gives credence to families’ and friends’ struggles with “getting it right” when someone they’ve known for many years comes out as trans.  It is difficult for us cis people to “transition” with your transitioning for very real and understandable reasons that have nothing to do with transphobia, so please be patient with us.

Seeing what Carrie really looks like now makes me pretty confident that “Ron” and the image of “Ron” will quickly fade and I will no longer have any difficulties with pronouns when it comes to Carrie (and she looks great!)  Carrie, if you see this:  I wish I could express how confused, conflicted and guilty I have felt about my difficulties seeing you as a woman… all because of that stupid picture.  ♥ 

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So, You Call Yourself an Ally?

gay white male privilege

I think it can be frustrating for communities when allies of that community, when they’re questioned or challenged, or critiqued, say, “Hey, wait a minute, don’t critique me, I’m your best friend, I’m an ally.”  It’s like when white people point to the number of black friends they have, or men talk about the “binders full of women” that they’ve hired.

Marc Lamont-Hill
Author
Journalist
Columbia University Professor

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More than once, a gay white man has angrily accused me of man-bashing and even called me a homophobic gay-bashing bigot (!) when I’ve pointed out their cisgender, male white privilege and the fact that most of the LGB…uh T civil rights movement has been focused on the rights of cisgender gay white men and has largely benefited cisgender gay white men, while largely neglecting issues affecting non-cisgender, non-male identified and other “queer”* individuals who do not identify as “gay,” and people of color.  Here are words of enlightenment from a gay cisgender white man who actually gets it… with a description of how he got to “getting” it.

*The word “queer” is in quotation marks because I grew up in an era when this word was considered a slur. While I realize that younger people have chosen to “reclaim” the word and recognize that it does have its usefulness as a descriptor, I still have some discomfort in using it.  

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The following has been reprinted in its entirety from the Advocate:

Op-ed: What Not To Do, When Calling Yourself a Transgender Ally

Jeff Krehely, the chief foundation officer of the Human Rights Campaign, discusses the importance of transgender advocacy, in light of the recent controversy surrounding Janet Mock and Piers Morgan.

BY JEFF KREHELY

FEBRUARY 07 2014 8:00 AM ET

The first thing an ally needs to know is that listening comes first. Following the recent controversy around Janet Mock’s appearances on Piers Morgan Live, this is the one message I hope self-professed allies can take away.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure they are.

Here’s what happened. Morgan hosted Mock, an incredible transgender advocate, on his show Tuesday night to discuss her autobiography, Redefining Realness. In the course of so doing, Morgan focused a good deal of the interview on her gender confirmation surgery, and the disclosure of her gender history to her boyfriend. Text on-screen said she “was a boy until age 18.”

To Morgan, the interview went off without a hitch. But Morgan, while an advocate of legal rights for transgender people, doesn’t seem to have a whole heck of a lot of understanding around the lived experiences of transgender people. Twitter, on the other hand, does. And transgender women of color and allies spoke up.  

Mock reappeared the next night.

And it just got worse. In the follow-up interview, Morgan and a panelist essentially boiled it down to this logic: she talks about these subjects in her book; we talked about it. She was biologically male at some point, so calling her a boy is fine.

As Mock so astutely noted, sometimes well-intentioned and good people can be really offensive. And many of you reading this right now may still not get how offensive Morgan’s line of questioning, and lack of inquiry about other parts of her life, really is. But keep reading.

Being good, well intentioned, or liberal doesn’t mean you get it. And it doesn’t make you an ally. I know something about this myself — having worked in social justice for more than 15 years, I’ve had to do a whole lot of work to get to the ally point.

I was a 27-year-old openly gay man when I first met someone who openly identified as transgender. He was the boyfriend of a colleague of mine. And he was incredibly forthright about his journey and provided me with my first opportunity to understand what “gender identity” was all about.

I felt supportive, but I didn’t get it. And I wasn’t all that inclined to believe that his challenges were particularly wrapped up in mine. At that time, what are now known as LGBT organizations were very much about the L, the G, and sometimes the B.

Most white gay men like me — even liberal ones — didn’t have much incentive to pressure LGBT groups to expand their agenda, especially as the right-wing led efforts to outlaw our right to marry. Because of my own privileges, that was my main cause and my sole source of oppression in 2004 America.

A couple of years later, I stumbled into a professional LGBT job. And even though I could be hired with very little cultural competency when it came to transgender people, things suddenly came to a head. In 2007, gender identity was dropped from the House’s version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the LGBT movement declared war on itself.

I didn’t yet understand how keenly transgender people needed workplace equality. But the political wonk in me saw the fissure that had happened. And I knew if we couldn’t come together as a movement, we might as well surrender to the far right.

I was an advocate, but I wasn’t an ally.

But in the course of my work — directing research at the Movement Advancement Project — we decided to do a deep-dive on transgender issues. That meant a partnership with National Center for Transgender Equality and the Transgender Law Center.

We approached this research as we did all other projects, which meant that the first step for us was to interview and listen to advocates, researchers, and others who were squarely in the issue space. We spent several weeks reading pretty much everything that had been written on what transgender people go through in our country, including many first-person accounts of the struggles, strengths, and resiliency that define the lives of so many transgender people.

Mara Keisling at NCTE and Masen Davis at TLC were both incredibly patient with my learning curve, and it was clear to me they had had spent many seconds, minutes, and hours explaining transgender issues to other people like me. I was also struck by how effortlessly and sincerely they supported and understood LGB issues.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point in doing this research, I finally understood what it meant to be an ally. I could suddenly see the common connections among the LGB and the T, as well as appreciate the stark differences and the many gradations in between. I also naturally felt a responsibility to treat transgender issues with as much — actually, probably more — passion as I did LGB issues.

Which is not to say that I’m an expert on all things transgender, or that I can ever really understand what it means to move through our culture as a transgender person. But I do know that almost every transgender person has to fight to be seen for who they truly are. And that transgender people — especially transgender women and even more so, transgender women of color — face harassment and violence in living authentically.

So back to that line of questioning. When CNN chose to label Mock “a boy for 18 years,” the network was complicit in denying Mock’s own truth — that she never identified as a boy. When Morgan dwelled on her disclosure to her boyfriend — without the addressing the fact that many transgender women have a legitimate fear they’ll be beaten or killed at the point of disclosure — they perpetuated the transphobia that fuels this violence.

Today a reporter wouldn’t think to ask my husband and me, “Who’s the wife?” But a network can still continue calling Mock a boy without blinking an eye.

I was an advocate for legal rights long before I was an ally. And being an ally is a continual process. As the conversations between Piers Morgan and Janet Mock are endlessly debated on Twitter, it strikes me that self-proclaimed transgender allies — which Morgan consistently asserts he is — need to step back and make sure they’ve done their homework.

It takes time and it doesn’t make for great ratings. But it’s the kind of work that creates change and — ultimately — liberation for all.

JEFF KREHELY is the chief foundation officer of the Human Rights Campaign. Interested in becoming a better ally to the transgender community? Check out HRC’s FAQthe National Center for Transgender Equalitythe Transgender Law Center, and the Trans People of Color Coalition.

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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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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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TranCIStioning

Transition

I see transitioning not as a single event, but as a life-long process.

tran·si·tion

/tranˈziSHən/

Noun
The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

Verb
Undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition: “we had to transition to a new set of products”

Synonyms
passage — change — crossing — transit

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I have neglected this blog for a long time (geez! almost a year!) not because I don’t think it’s important, but because I have a lot going on in my life and writing is not easy for me.  Actually, it’s because I am transitioning.

I am not trying to minimize the experiences of trans* people nor trying to equate my transitioning to gender transition, but there are some similarities, which I hope I can adequately articulate and not  get my trans* friends pissed off at me (screw the RatFaux-Feminists.)  I believe that many people are in constant transition, continually evolving, developing new relationships, learning from those people & those relationships and from other life experiences.  I’m not sure that all people are continually transitioning, as some seem to stagnate and not appear to learn anything, nor do they seem to grow or improve as human beings (e.g., NOMmers, Westboro Baptist Church, and other fundamentalist christians who cherry-pick the bible to justify their ignorance and hate, etc.)  I like to think that I am continually learning, growing, and becoming a more complete (not necessarily better 😉 ) person.  Perhaps that is delusional thinking, but I am going to indulge myself anyway.  After all, this is my blog and I am Queen.  😀

There are all kinds of life transitions and we celebrate many of them:  Births, birthdays, onset of puberty, questioning and/or realizing that one does not adhere to society’s cisgender and/or heterosexual norm (I did NOT say “normal”— “norm” is a statistical term), coming out (or deciding not to) as transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, etc., obtaining a driver’s license, a new job, voting for the first time, buying a car, starting high school/college/graduate school, graduations, starting/ending relationships, engagements, marriages, civil unions, anniversaries, divorces (yes, there are people who throw divorce parties), buying a house, relocating, children moving out of the house, onset of perimenopause and menopause, illnesses, changes (and possible limitations) related to aging… and, finally death—our own and those of family and friends.  Some of these transitions are marked with single events, while some take place over a period of time.  In talking to my trans* friends, I would conclude that coming out as transgender, real-life experience (RLE) (i.e., appearing in public dressed, groomed and presenting as one’s true gender,) beginning hormone therapy, and sex reassignment surgery (SRS) are among the major transition points in the life of a transgender person’s gender transition.

Before I try to describe my current transitioning (i.e., my rationalization for neglecting this blog, lol,) I am going to describe some events in my own life that may explain why I feel comfortable with trans women, and perhaps why I feel less comfortable with trans men (see my blog entry “A Penis? Uh… NO, thanks… No Penis for Me!” for my diatribe against trans men attending women’s colleges.)  First, another definition:

trans·gen·der

/tranzˈjendər/

Adjective

Definition:  A transgender person is someone whose personal idea of gender does not correlate with his or her assigned gender role.  It does not exclusively refer to transsexual persons, i.e. those who are transitioning or have transitioned from one gender to another; all transsexual persons are transgender, but not all transgender persons are transsexual.  A transgender person is anyone who fully accepts a gender identity—androgynous, hermaphroditic, intersex, transsexual, third gender, bigender, or otherwise gender non-conformistdoes not match his or her assigned gender [emphasis added.]

Common Misspellings: transgendered

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At the risk of completely alienating all of my tran* friends, I am going to say it:
~ ducks, runs & hides, wondering how to get into Witness Protection… ~

According to the broad definition of “transgender” above, I contend that I would, in fact, be considered transgender.

Now, TAKE A DEEP BREATH!  Allow me to explain.  Again, I am not trying to equate my experience with those of my transgender sisters who are transgender in the conventional sense, i.e., born with a hormonal system and/or body parts (i.e., sex) that do/does not match their gender.  I am a cisgender woman with all of the female parts (some people would argue vis-à-vis the presence of breasts, but hey, I’m 54 years old and… well… what goes up, must come down 😉 ) there has never been any question about this.  But I received some confusing childhood gender-related messages and I have never been one to take on any role that someone else has decided and assigned to me.

I would say that a person begins developing their identity as a person with their name and assigned gender.  What are the questions we ask when someone has a baby?  “Is it a girl or a boy?” and “What is her/his name?” are the first 2 that come to my mind.  And I would imagine that their name and presumed gender are the first 2 things a baby learns about themself from most parents (I don’t remember laying the gender thing on my daughter until later when I told her to be careful not to fall and crack her head open because her brains might fall out and she would turn into a boy….)

Let’s start with my name.  I have a boy’s name.  Okay, “Jody” is more common as a girl’s name now, but it is almost always spelled with an “i” or “ie” (or “ee”) instead of a “y”, and it was certainly uncommon back in the dark ages when I was born.  When I was 3 or 4, Santa called me “Judy.” Yes, this could have been a simple & understandable error, but it’s happened my whole life whenever someone screwed up my name (which happened frequently) and already knew I was female.  On the other hand, substitute teachers would take attendance, asking, “Jody? Where is he?”  It was never, ever, evershe.”  And everyone, when learning that I am, in fact, female and my name is, in fact, spelled with a “y” would inform me that I spell my name “the boy’s way.”  Dammit!  I was a girl!  And dammit!  I didn’t pick the stupid name or decide how to spell it!

Until the 4th grade, my mother made me keep my hair short despite the fact that I wanted long hair.  I don’t know whether my desire for long hair had anything to do with expressing femininity, I just wanted long hair, dammit!  I do remember at least once or twice someone mistaking me for a boy in a very public way when I was prepubescent.  It was humiliating—obviously, as I still remember it.  In any case, despite having very thin hair due to a thyroid problem, at 54 years old my hair is almost down to my waist and if it would grow any longer, it would be even longer.

I remember how happy I was when my mother allowed me to pick out my own clothes—even those I would receive as Christmas and birthday gifts.  I really hated some of the clothes she bought for me before that.   I recall 1 specific incident about a teacher thinking that my raincoat belonged to a boy and this was expressed in a public and very humiliating manner.  I’ve never gone for a lot of pink, ruffly lacy crap.

When I started elementary school, girls were not permitted to wear pants to school.  Yes, this is true.  When the policy changed and I told my mother I wanted to wear pants, at first she didn’t believe me (and I was a painfully honest child, so that created other issues) and then she reluctantly allowed me to wear “nice” pants, but only twice/week.  I was what then was called a “tomboy” and didn’t like wearing dresses because I was very active and dresses are not conducive to, for example, doing cartwheels.  I didn’t play with dolls or other “girl” toys (I never had a Barbie) and preferred to play outside, riding my bike, climbing trees, digging in the dirt or exploring the woods.

I clearly remember being at a community swimming pool with my entire family (I must have been about 11) and my parents very loudly discussing the hair on my legs and whether it was time for me to start shaving my legs.  I was already extremely self-conscious (I think my mother had already started telling my sister that she was “the pretty one” and I was “the smart one”; you can imagine the messages we got from that!) and this public humiliation made it worse.  And, no, my mother did not allow me to start shaving my legs for a couple of years after that even though kids made fun of my hairy legs.

Despite my perception that I had a body resembling that of a  young boy, I started dating at 12½ and was “boy-crazy” for years.  It wasn’t about sex:  I didn’t have sex until almost 19.  I came from a family that did not express love or affection either verbally or physically in any meaningful way, so that probably accounts for most of my need for romantic relationships (I couldn’t stand having anyone else touch me), but maybe I was also trying to prove my femininity… to the world or to myself.  I don’t know.   (Having recently been told by a rather, shall I say, “voluptuous” woman that I have the body of an adolescent boy, I LMAO and took it as a compliment!  At my age that is definitely a good thing!  Poor old witch didn’t mean it as a compliment though.)

In school I always did well in math & science which I was not “supposed” to do because I was a girl.  Can you believe that BS?  But I also did well in foreign languages and everything else.  The one clear identity I always had was that of student (and employee) with a role to achieve and excel.  And for the most part, I did.  But I didn’t have a clear sense about what it meant to be a woman.  When someone walked into a room with their baby, I was more likely to leave the room than I was to do the baby talk thing.  I refused to let anyone push me into traditional roles but encountered pressures and stereotypes (especially when working in a male-dominated field) on an ongoing basis. Even when I changed fields and entered the female-dominated field of professional social work, I wasn’t the stereotypical social worker because I’m not the warm and pleasant touchy-feely outgoing type person that everyone likes; in fact, I’m quite introverted and don’t give a rat’s ass whether people like me or not.

When the biological clock kicked in and I gave birth to my daughter at 36, I assumed the role of mother in addition to employee.   Naturally I wanted to excel.  I read baby books, went to La Leche League meetings, read more books, talked to friends, read books, decided to ignore conflicting information I received from people I didn’t trust & to trust professionals and my own instincts, & read more books.  I used cloth diapers, breastfed and made my own baby food.  I did my best as a single parent to give my child the love,  support & sense of identity I never got while growing up.

When I became disabled & no longer able to work I was absolutely devastated.  Work had always been at the core of my identity, and until my daughter was born, my entire identity essentially revolved around work.  When my child ended up in foster care (through no fault of mine—a very loonnngggg and unpleasant story) and having had my only remaining real identity in essence ripped from me, I was lost.   I had been forced into several major transitions in my life but was so busy grieving the losses that I did not recognize the opportunities that these overlapping transitions precipitated by these horrendous life-altering events had provided for me.

I became an advocate and activist for LGBT people and others on Facebook.  I learned about issues and hate groups, and helped get some hate pages/groups shut down on Facebook.  I met 100s of new people, made new friends and revived friendships that had been inactive for decades. I learned the word “pomosexual” and have appropriated it to describe my sexual orientation.  I learned the word “cisgender” and learned that I am one.  I learned a lot about gender and am starting to wrap my head around the concept of non-binary gender.  I learned (mostly by reading) a lot about transgender issues and developed friendships with several transgender women who I consider my sisters.  I have learned about myself and learned to let the little things go and deal with the big things more calmly (which came with a price.)  I know more about the foster care system in the State of Florida than anyone would ever want to know (it’s even worse than people think it is.)  I learned that even people smart enough to graduate from law school can be too stupid to learn to understand that bipolar disorder is a medical—biological—disorder of the brain.  I learned that you can’t fix stupid and no matter how good a parent you are and how you raise them, some kids just don’t turn out the way one would expect them to.

During and prior to that period of transitioning, I was subject to physical, psychological and emotional trauma and there were times that my life was literally in danger.  I developed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and continue to meet the full criteria for the disorder, although I am less frequently exposed to the source of trauma and lethality has been diminished by making some changes in my life.   One of the things I had to do to survive during that time was to numb myself emotionally and I continue to experience “feeling[s] of detachment or estrangement from others” and “restricted range of  affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings.”  Therefore, a primary goal in my current period of transition is to take back my life:  i.e., to re-establish a stable sense of personal identity, become more functional physically & cognitively, work towards experiencing a wider range of emotions, feel productive—giving something back to the world, and find more purpose in my life.  So, that’s what I’ve been doing.  I think writing this has served some of these purposes.  Why the hell you read it is beyond me. 🙂

blue butterfly

This is how I view my current period of transition.

End of pos

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.

Brains of Trans People are Different

Brain scans showed differences in transgender people’s brains
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/01/26/scans-show-difference-in-transgender-brains/

Scientists have found differences between the brains of some  TG/TS people and those of cisgender people.  Like  intersex conditions, I suspect—I predict—that eventually we will learn that virtually all transsexualism has a physical, biological basis; I am already convinced that there is absolutely no psychopathology involved in being trans.  These opinions are not based on any particular scientific studies, just experience, a bit of research, clinical intuition and history.  I believe that “Gender Identity Disorder” and “gender dysphoria” are social/psychological constructs that were created by doctors for the sole purpose of  “explaining away” something they didn’t understand (with the secondary benefit of creating a diagnostic code under which to bill insurance companies for psychotherapy and other medical services), much as homosexuality was historically labeled a “mental disorder” until scientists realized that sexual orientation appears inborn and immutable in most cases  and although not the norm, sexual orientations that are not strictly heterosexual are perfectly normal. 

What causes someone to be TG/TS?  (I intentionally did not use the word “born,” as there is a segment of the TG/TS who report that their awareness of their transsexuality happened later in life; nor did I use the word “become…”)   There could be a myriad of  causes, from all of the causes already currently known for intersex conditions to anomalies in brain structure, differential exposure to hormones, anomalies in brain development either pre- or post-natal…  maybe exposure to some type of toxin or pathogen, genetic mutation, one or more of these things in conjunction with a genetic predisposition or some combination of any of the above.  Perhaps non-intersex transsexuality does not represent a single phenomenon (like intersex conditions, for which specific physical etiologies have been identified), but several medical “disorders” that happen to present in the same or similar way; that would explain the difficulty in arriving at a single cause.

The following article about brain structure was published a year and a half ago, but I thought it was quite interesting and certainly germane to a discussion about the concept of all transsexuality being purely physiological in origin and attributable to a specific anomaly or anomalies in the person’s brain (since that is where  gender identity “lives.”)

Scans show difference in transgender brains

by
26 January 2011, 1:52pm

A team of scientists has discovered differences in the brains of transgender people.

The researchers, at the National University of Distance Education in Madrid, Spain, believe their technique could help doctors identify transgender people at an early age, giving them more options for treatment, such as delaying the onset of puberty.

According to New Scientist, the study looked at the white matter of the brain and its structural differences in men, women and female-to-male transgender people.

They used MRI scans on the brains of 18 trans men who had not started hormone treatment with 24 men and 19 women.

The results showed that trans men – those born biologically female but living as male – had white matter where it is usually found in male brains.

This is thought to be the first time that scientists have been able to show that trans men’s brains are masculinised.

In another study, they compared the brains of 18 trans women – born male but living as female – with 19 men and 19 women.

The trans women’s brains showed that the structure of the white matter was halfway between a typical male and a typical female brain.

Antonio Guillamon, who led the research, said: “Their brains are not completely masculinised and not completely feminised, but they still feel female.”

The study will be published in Volume 45, Issue 2 of the Journal of Psychiatric Research next month.   http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/01/26/scans-show-difference-in-transgender-brains/

The original study Transsexual Differences Caught on Brain Scan was published  in New Scientist on 1-26-2011 by Jessica Hamzelouhttp://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-transsexual-differences-caught-on-brain-scan.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

Watch Your Language… PLEASE

 

Stop Exploiting Transgender Women!

Yeah, yeah, I know, another petition after I just posted that I normally only post petitions on my “Petitions” page (accessible by clicking “Petitions” in the gray bar near the top of my blog, directly under the blog banner.)   But I just had a conversation with some of my trans women friends about this a couple of days ago, in particular about Jerry Springer exploiting trans women for his show….

The following is reprinted from the “About this Petition” tab on the petition page for this petition on change.org:

Stop Exploiting Transgender Women!

For many years, producers of The Jerry Springer Show & The Maury Povich Show have shamelessly exploited Transgender women on national and international television. We demand they halt all production and re-airing of episodes that include content related to the exploitation of Transgender Individuals.

The Jerry Springer Show often features transwomen who are then ridiculed, called ‘he/shes’ (among other derogatory terms), and verbally and physically assaulted by other guests and audience members. Transwomen are told by stage security that they are not allowed to defend themselves against the vicious physical attacks of cis-gendered women because unlike the cis-gendered women, they are still ‘men’. In many episodes, producers deliberately paint the picture of a man who is ‘tricked’ by a TGirl into having sexual relations with her, and turn him gay. They all end with a grand reveal in which the TGirl admits she was born with male genitalia. These (often scripted) story lines invite the misconception in society that transwomen should be feared because they are some sort of sexual predators. This content also erroneously labels men who are attracted to (or have sexual relations with) transwomen as ‘gay’.

The Maury Povich Show continues to re-air episodes with titles such as “Man Or Woman?” in which cis-gendered and transgendered women are brought in front of a live audience who calls out “That’s a man!” or “That’s a woman!” judging by her physical or vocal features. After the audience has decided what type of women these guests are, the guests then reveal their gender with signs that read “I’m a woman” or “I’m a man”. These episodes promote stereotypes about Transwomen’s appearances and true gender. They also contribute to society’s invalid belief that gender is defined by a person’s masculine or feminine features.

Make no mistake, transwomen ARE women. We will not continue to suffer in silence while mainstream media uses our vey existence for their amusement, spreading a culture of fear, hate and violence against us at the very same time. We ask our friends, our families and every other member of the LGBT Community to join us as we stand united during the LGBT Civil Rights Movement at large.


Click on the following link to sign the petition:   http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-exploiting-transgender-women.  A new tab or window will open and you will be taken directly to that petition on change.org.  When done, close the tab and you should be returned here.
 
  
 

RIP Seçil Anne

reprinted from: GAYSTARNEWS
http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/another-trans-woman-murdered-turkey130712

Another trans woman murdered in Turkey

Violence against trans women in Turkey continues as Seçil Anne is stabbed to death in Antalya

13 July 2012 | By Anna Leach
Secil Anne, trans woman murdered in Antalya, Turkey, this week

The onslaught of violence against trans women in Turkey has shown no sign of abating with the tragic news that another was murdered this week.

Seçil Anne, a trans sex worker, was murdered where she lived in Antalya on the southwe

stern coast of Turkey on Tuesday night (10 July). She was found dead at her home at 11pm by police after her friends alerted them when they couldn’t reach her. Her throat had been slit and face slashed.

Turkish trans activist Kemal Ordek said that dozens of trans people gathered outside Seçil Anne’s apartment after hearing of her murder.

The local police said they had started an investigation and were checking CCTV cameras near Secil Anne’s home and interviewing her ex-boyfriend and close friends.

In June around 100 residents gathered in Altındağ in Antalya to protest the presence of transgender sex workers in their neighborhood. They warned that they would get violent if the police did not resolve the problem. It is not know if Seçil Anne, born Neşe Dilşeker in 1966, lived in this area.

The circumstances of Seçil Anne’s murder are almost identical to that of Derya Y, a transgender women who was stabbed to death in Altındağ in February 2010.

The Trans Murder Monitoring project shows that Turkey has by far the most reported murders of trans people in Europe, with 23 reported from January 2008 until December 2011.

An anonymous blog post on the alarming situation in Turkey said this week that the murders are ‘only the tip of the iceberg’. The post published on the Birds of Paradox blog said:

‘While this violence is to be condemned in the strongest possible terms… As well as the reported murders, many other hate crimes against transgender people (transphobic crimes) go unreported, ranging from verbal abuse in the street and the workplace through muggings, beatings and rape.

‘Perhaps worst of all is the attitude of many government agencies, many of which seem unconcerned at the extent of transphobic crimes. This has the result of enabling the rates of these crimes to escalate, because they send the message to the general population that it’s acceptable to display such prejudices – even against members of the authorities themselves.’

In April transgender woman Michelle Demishevich was attacked in an incident that she believes was to intimidate her into not testifying at a trial over an earlier attack.

Stand Up for LGBT Rights with Secretary Clinton at the United Nations

Normally I only post petitions on my “Petitions” page, accessible by clicking “Petitions” in the gray bar near the top of my blog, directly under the blog banner.  This petition, however, is of international importance and although it is not specific to trans* people (and the creator of the petition left out “gender” in their description of the petition and in the letter itself… grrrr…!), I am going to attribute this omission to tunnel vision, as I would like to believe that Secretary Clinton would have the intelligence and unbiased perspective to be inclusive in her approach to LGBT issues.

The following is reprinted from the “About this Petition” tab on the petition page for this petition on change.org:

Stand Up for LGBT Rights with Secretary Clinton at the United Nations

The fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights does not stop in the United States; dozens of countries have horrific human rights violations based on their treatment of LGBT individuals. The United Nations is the only organization with the capacity and leadership to make significant progress toward a more equal and just world regardless of sexual orientation

The United States has made clear that it supports the UN’s recent work on LGBT issues. In December 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a historic speech in front of the United Nations declaring it a “violation of human rights” to commit violence or discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation. Send a letter to Secretary Clinton thanking her for her strong leadership and tell her to continue fighting for LGBT individuals.

While the fight is far from over, the UN has made significant developments in its response to LGBT human rights violations in the past year. Many of these initiatives have been the direct result of strong leadership from Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who has taken a strong, supportive stance on the issue. Some member countries that are more conservative have shown their distaste for the conversation by walking out of Human Rights Council meetings when the topic has been brought up.

We need Hillary Clinton to continue being a strong force and to continue engaging the UN on the topic. Show your support for LGBT rights around the world by signing this petition, thanking Secretary Hillary Clinton for her leadership and encourage her to continue talking about LGBT rights at the UN and on the world stage. 


Click on the following clink to sign the petition:  http://www.change.org/petitions/stand-up-for-lgbt-rights-with-secretary-clinton-at-the-united-nations .   A new tab or window will open and you will be taken directly to that petition on change.org.  When done, close the tab and you should be returned here.
 

Exploiting Trans* People in the Media: Yellow Journalism?

World English Dictionary

yellow journalism
n
the type of journalism that relies on sensationalism and lurid exaggeration to attract readers http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/yellow+journalism

Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.  Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.  By extension, the term yellow journalism is used today as a pejorative to decry any journalism that treats news in an unprofessional or unethical fashion.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism

Did Magic Johnson get HIV from a Transsexual Hooker? Gawker Will Pay for Tips On This

Thursday, 12 July 2012 15:08
Written by Sergio N. Candido

http://www.southfloridagaynews.com/news/national-news/6591-did-magic-johnson-get-hiv-from-a-transsexual-hooker-gawker-will-pay-for-tips-on-this.html

PBS’s Frontline premiered its latest documentary “AIDS in Black America,” on July 10, and NBA legend Magic Johnson, one of the most popular people to ever contract the disease,  was a part of it.

So Magic was asked the question he’s always been asked—how he got HIV—and he gave the same answer he has always given: “Sleeping with a lot of women.”

Gawker’s AJ Daulerio, however, writes that years back, a source told him Johnson might have actually gotten HIV not from a woman, but most likely during an infamous sex party at Eddie Murphy‘s mansion, where transsexual hookers were often involved.

The source wanted cash to go on the record, and the website didn’t have enough of it. But things have changed, and Gawker is now ready to write some checks: “If anyone has any more information about who gave Magic Johnson HIV, please feel free to contact us. I think we can afford to pay more money for this now,” Daulerio writes.

Zach Sire, editor of gay website the Sword, came out with guns blazing against Daulerio and his offer, calling him “dumb” and “sleazy.”

“If there’s one group of people whom you can trust with ‘information,’ it’s prostitutes and transexuals from orgies that happened over 20 years ago,” he writes in a sarcastic tone.

“A.J. Daulerio’s naivety has precluded him from realizing that even if he did receive proof of who gave Magic Johnson HIV publishing that person’s name would be illegal.”

We’re not sure what he meant by ‘illegal,’ you might get sued, but you can’t go to jail for publishing the name of someone who came forward and said he/she gave Magic Johnson HIV.

My Comments:

It is appalling to offer monetary compensation for revealing who exposed an individual to a chronic and likely terminal illness.   That person is not only sick themselves, but may be deceased.  Furthermore,  it is unconscionable to sensationalize a story by exploiting an entire class of already oppressed human beings.  Some—not all—transgender and transsexual  women are sometimes forced into sex work as a last resort, in order to survive—sometimes in order to feed their children— just as cisgender women are.   Headlines such as the one for this article serve to reinforce stereotypes about trans women.  Finally, focusing on the behavior of prostitutes (oppressed women) instead of on that of their customers (in this case, privileged men of great wealth) who are using their male and monied privilege to take advantage of these women  is pure misogyny; exploiting the possibility that these women may have been trans* is misogynistic and transphobic and is inexcusable in a “gay” publication.  Many of my trans* friends support LGB people without reservation; I, however, am beginning to agree with those who doubt that LGB people in general truly have the best interest of trans* people at heart and am beginning to believe that they are merely including/using trans* people in the LGBT “community” (and I use the word “community” loosely, if not sarcastically) purely to increase their numbers.

Questions:

1.  What do you think of the headline for this article?  Based on the 2 definitions of “yellow journalism” provided above, do you you think this article is an example of yellow journalism?  Why or why not”?

2.  Do you think trans* people should “secede” from the LTB movement and focus on needs specific to trans* people?  Why or why not?

A Deafening Silence

A Deafening Silence

Posted on Alexandra BillingsHuffington Post blog on July 10, 2012
Thank you to Suzan for making me aware of this post on her blog Women Born Transsexual

It was our second date, and he was just as kind and just as funny as he’d been the week before. Dan wasn’t the best looking guy in the room, but he knew his way around a joke, and he never ask me to pay for dinner. I was hooked.

He was a big guy, over six feet tall, blonde hair, and had beautiful hazel eyes. We bumped into each other at the local grocery store one afternoon after I accidentally threw myself under his shopping cart. Since that time, we’d gone to a movie and been to dinner. Our second date was to take place at his apartment where he was going to fix his famous homemade pizza. I’ve never been a big pizza fan, but I liked Dan, and I’d only been transitioning for a few years and at that time, any date was a great date. As long as there wasn’t any wacky sexual expectations, or signs of psychotic mania in the hallway, I was in. I was twenty two, and already completely and utterly desperate.

I was never one of those people in my community who lived a lie. I was Transgender and was never ashamed of it. After a suicide attempt at 16, when I finally found my Trans brothers and sisters, it was the first real breath I’d taken. I felt a huge weight lift off me, and every voice that told me I was insane, or wrong, or headed straight to Hell, was squelched. So I never went around pretending my past didn’t exist. I never purposely deceived people. I wanted to live in this new body I was constructing because for the first time in my life, my reflection was starting to match my spirit. I couldn’t have been happier, and I wanted to tell the world about it.

And so Dan was fully aware of what I was, where I came from, and where my heart was, and he was fine with it.

“I see you. All I know is what I see.”

He told me that within the first twenty minutes, which is why I said yes to the homemade pizza thing. I figured I’d found someone true and someone pure, and I wanted desperately to live with it for as long as he’d let me. And I’d do what I could to keep it going. And that included choking down cooked dough and tomato sauce.

We were sitting on his couch with the Chicago skyline blinking behind us and some Melissa Manchester blaring in the background. We sipped wine, chatted, and as the evening wore on, I suggested we see each other the next week. It was getting late, and taking the El past ten at night was always risky. Dan then looked me in the eye and took my hand:

“I want you to stay.” He said softly.

“Next time.” I said firmly.

I moved him aside and headed for the front door and my coat that was hanging on the brown, three-pronged hat rack in his hallway.

Suddenly, and without warning, I felt his hand on my shoulder.    He turned me quickly toward him, and kissed me. The kiss was hard and almost painful. He then put his hands around my waist and pulled me toward him. I tried to get free, but the more I struggled, the tighter his grip became. My heart began to race in a way I’d never felt before, and my body went into a hyper-speed panic that I felt in the pit of my stomach. I knew I was in terrible, terrible trouble.

I put my hand on his thigh, and as he began to slowly release me, I balled up my fist, and hit him square in the groin. He jumped back in pain, and I turned toward the door, sweating and crying. My voice was stuck in me somehow. I couldn’t seem to scream, and my breath became shallow and deep. I also couldn’t really think. I saw the doorknob, but turning it became almost impossible. And as my hand reached for the sleeve of my coat, I was whisked back into the living room, and fell flat on my back. I landed inches from the coffee table, still clinging onto my coat. Dan’s eyes were red and huge and they glared at me with a rage and an anger that filled up the room. As I wriggled and tried to squirm away, before I knew it, he was on top of me, pinning down my wrists and spreading my thighs. And as he came close to me again, with his mouth near my neck, he felt between my legs, and popped his head up:

“You…?!” was all I heard.

His breath got hotter and closer to me, and he flipped me over on my stomach and began tearing at my dress.

I was raped that night.

I never went to the police and I never told another living soul. None of my friends knew, no one I worked with, and no family member ever found out. I kept this in me for almost 20 years. It was 1983, and being what I was, was not only against the law in Illinois, it was unheard of. I remember once, a girlfriend of mine was being chased by her boyfriend who was coming at her with a kitchen knife, and when she found a parked police car; out of breath and near hysterics, told them what she was running from, and the two cops laughed and told her to “act like a man.” So, I knew deep down that going to the police was useless.

In Sweden, where gay marriage is legal and where they lead the world in the pursuit of gay rights and gay legislation, a Transgender woman was raped in front of her apartment complex. The attacker, however, was charged with assault, because the judge claimed that:

“We believe that he wanted to rape… this woman. But as she proved to be a man, his plan [would] never have been possible.”

The judge concluded that the rape was “invalid” because the victim was anatomically a male. Instead, the perpetrator was convicted of assault and will pay just over $2,000 in damages to the woman.

I don’t know the answer to where it is we belong as a community. We’re the “T” on the end of LGBT, and we’re liars when we try and blend into a meeting of feminists. We’re standing on the outside of a lot of windows, and no one’s really championing for us to come in and tell our story. And in our own world, with our own people, there are Transgender men and women who proclaim their gender as the one given to them by whatever doctor they’ve written checks to. If we’re confused about where to go, and who we are, how can we expect the mainstream of society not to be either?

Whatever the answer is, on the way to finding it, on the way to trying to live with each other and be with each other, we have to stand our ground and we have to do it with assurance and power. But we can’t do it alone. We need help. We need other people. And we desperately need each other.

I was raped. I was raped and it took me years to figure out that it wasn’t my fault, that I wasn’t to blame, and that it wasn’t my shame I was carrying around. Whatever it is anyone thinks of me, I was raped. We’ve taken huge steps in the last couple of decades. We’re here and we’re noticed, and we matter. I feel that. I love my community. I’m proud of who we are and where we’re headed, but I sometimes feel that when I step outside my own front door, I’m truly on my own. My country doesn’t have my back.

And as a world — a world of change and newness and brilliance — if we continue to keep our own prejudices and ignorance in the forefront of our jurisdiction and societal laws, we’ll eventually find our compassion and kindness will suffer. And soon, without warning and with total conviction, the silence around us will be deafening.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexandra-billings/a-deafening-silence_1_b_1662968.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

RatFems, AKA Fauxfeminists: Quit Your Lying ‘Cause We’re Watching You

The following post was reblogged from Suzan’s blog Women Born Transsexual.   Note:  “AFAB” means “assigned female at birth.”

Julia Serano has been Targeted for attacks by the RadFem SCUM

07/07/2012 — Suzan

Reposted with permission

First of all embracing SCUM and Valerie Solanis kind of marks people off as nut jobs.

Prior to going on to becoming famous for shooting one of the 20th century’s most important gay male artists (nearly murdering him) Solanis wrote a screed titled The Scum Manifesto.

The RadFem hagiography would have people believe Valerie Solanis was a misunderstood genius with impeccable feminist credentials and not a zoned out homicidal maniac from Alphabet City.

I know there was a movie that tried to paint her as someone cruelty abused by Andy Warhol and the people of the “Factory”.

Reality: She was an abusive stalker.

While SCUM Manifesto has a few viciously funny observations in it it is mostly the blathering of a mentally disturbed person.

After Valerie Solanis was released from prison she wound up dying of exposure while sleeping on a roof top because none of the feminists who lauded her wanted to actually be within pistol range of her.

Oddly enough Solanis wasn’t all that anti-transsexual/transgender or I should say the movie, I shot Andy Warhol, portrays her as being not all that anti TS/TG as it shows her being a friend of the late Candy Darling.

Well, fast forward and the radfem bigots have blogs that invoke Valerie Solanis’s screed.

Like Valerie they are both truth and sanity challenged.

But this blog and others among the radfem and their dubiously claimed intersex male ally Nicky (Komododragon) have embraced Valerie as some sort of icon; they are using this blog and others to attack Julia Serano.

Well not just Julia Serano, but JOS  at Feministing too, as well as a whole range of  highly reputable TS/TG bloggers who have had the audacity to say that the misogyny faced by TS/TG women and transkids is the same misogyny faced by assigned female at birth women and girls.

Unless one is incredibly privileged access to abortion and birth control are not the only issues faced by women today.

This is obvious enough to women who aren’t partners in law offices that defend some of the scummiest corporations in America.

Otherwise the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act wouldn’t be such a big deal.

If women weren’t being fucked over by those Wall Street Banks and Firms defended by the law offices of the above mentioned radfem, then women wouldn’t be out there as part of Occupy.

One has to wonder why the radfems, who sound identical to the Christo-Fascists and radical right, cropped up now to disrupt feminism which is engaged in fighting against the right wing/Christo-Fascist War on Women.  Especially since many TS/TG women are also feminists.  Some, like this Blog regularly keep people abreast of the right wing attacks on reproductive rights.

Julia Serano wrote a serious book that showed the intersectionality of transphobia and misogyny.  A lot of us read it and said, “Fuck Yeah!”

Everyone knows that according to radfems TS/TG women are nothing but mindless fembots controlling the fashion and cosmetic industry forcing women into a subservient position all .001% of us, sort of the same way the Jews supposedly control the world and are responsible for all the evils of the world.

Somehow Julia found time from her busy schedule of perpetuating the patriarchy to write this book that caused a lot of TS/TG sisters to come to the conclusion that transphobia was misogyny directed at a tiny minority group of people who are women in spite of not being assigned female at birth.

Of course the radfems whipped out the disingenuous charge that TS/TG women were some how raping women by taking hormones and having operations that allowed us to feel at home within our very own skins.

Never mind how feminism has chided those who use rape as a metaphor for actions other than actual rape.

Or that TS/TG people can and are often the victims of rape, assault and murder.

Radfem transphobic bigotry is identical to right wing racism and antisemitism, a whipping up of hatred and bigotry using exaggerated claims and  collective guilt.  The same sort of bigotry one finds behind Jim Crow and Apartheid laws.  The same sort of hatred and bigotry one found behind the Nürnberger Gesetze:

The Nuremberg Laws (German: Nürnberger Gesetze) of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating antisemitism as a form of scientific racism. There was a rapid growth in German legislation directed at Jews and other groups, such as the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service which banned “non-Aryans” and political opponents of the Nazis, from the civil-service.

The lack of a clear legal method of defining who was Jewish had, however, allowed some Jews to escape some forms of discrimination aimed at them. The enactment of laws identifying who was Jewish made it easier for the Nazis to enforce legislation restricting the basic rights of German Jews.

The Nuremberg Laws classified people with four German grandparents as “German or kindred blood”, while people were classified as Jews if they descended from three or four Jewish grandparents. A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was a Mischling, a crossbreed, of “mixed blood”.[1] These laws deprived Jews of German citizenship and prohibited marriage between Jews and other Germans.[2]

The Nuremberg Laws also included a ban on sexual intercourse between people defined as “Jews” and non-Jewish Germans and prevented “Jews” from participating in German civic life. These laws were both an attempt to return the Jews of 20th-century Germany to the position that Jews had held before their emancipation in the 19th century; although in the 19th century Jews could have evaded restrictions by converting, this was no longer possible.

The laws were a legal embodiment of an already existing Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses.

Yes I am comparing the thinking of the radfems to Nazi antisemitism.

Not only are they attacking TS/TG women but any AFAB women who support us including those feminist bloggers.

Ironically I have reason to believe that several of the “radfems” are in fact self hating post-op transsexuals who also hold AFAB women in contempt.

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.

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