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An Open Letter to Doug and Carla Alcorn

Dear Mr and Mrs Alcorn,

First of all let me extend my condolences on the death of your daughter Leelah on December 28 2014. I do so as a parent who could not even begin to comprehend the pain of losing one of her children

I am, as your daughter was a transgender woman, and I would ask that you believe me when I tell you that it can be and most certainly is at times a living hell. A hell made not by any vengeful deity, but rather a hell made by other human beings, who, like yourselves prefer to torture others by your words and actions.

You may cling to the notion that Leelah was actually a confused boy you named Joshua at birth, but in reality she was your daughter.

Your daughter Leelah 

Difficult as that concept may be for you to grasp, she deserved better from you as her parents.  She deserved your unconditional love and support, not love and support conditional on your view of the ordered world; Not conditional on your religious beliefs; Conditional only on the fact that she was your child, a child who craved only your love and acceptance.

Both of you let her down badly.

Many people are calling for you to be prosecuted on the basis that it was your actions which led to your beautiful daughter being made to feel so worthless, so absolutely desolate, that she decided to end her own life. Can you imagine the fear and sadness she experienced in those last moments of her young life?

A life so needlessly ended.

However personally I do not believe you should be prosecuted, and let me tell you why. It is not from any position of sympathy for you, because beyond the common decency of feeling for your loss, I have none. Rather I think about Leelah. My heart breaks for her, and I feel her loss intensely, as do many others throughout the world who did not have the privilege of knowing her in person. Beyond that any prosecution would turn into a media circus which would distract attention from the greater tragedy of Leelah’s death.

Having said that don’t get the impression that you have a get out of jail free card , because believe me you do not. Both of you are responsible for your daughter’s death as if you had physically pushed her under that truck because you may as well have by your despicable treatment of her.

Leelah was your child. She should have been able to count on your unconditional love and support, but she couldn’t. Instead you demeaned her at every chance. You abused her in the worst way possible. You destroyed her fragile spirit, and for what? So you could stand up and tell everyone how much you believed in your god. How good you were. How much you loved your child.

Had you really loved her, you would not have contributed to her death. She is beyond you now. You cannot hurt her any more and that is the only consolation in all of this.

Neither of you realise the gift that you were given in Leelah and you let that gift slip through your fingers. That is the tragedy that you now have to live with for the rest of your lives.

Janice

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RIP Leelah Alcorn

Leelah Angel

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

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

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

Leelah Davis post

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

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

 

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A Simple Way to Support Trans People

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For more information about gender and pronouns, see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-specific_and_gender-neutral_pronouns

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Okay, so I said I wasn’t going to write in this blog anymore because nobody was reading it. Well, I wanted to post this message in a decent format and in a place where I can post it again if I want to, so…

CIS PEOPLE:  This is for you:

When you see or hear someone using incorrect pronouns to refer to a trans person, here is a real-life example of how you can address this:

Using correct pronouns

 

That’s all.  It’s simple. Do it.  It’s easy, it’s free, it takes almost no time and it’s the right thing to do.

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I also posted the following, again for the purpose of education:

 

Misgendering poster

Picture courtesy of  Transgender Graphics’ Facebook Page 

 

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Related Articles:

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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More About Pronouns

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

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

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The Pronoun Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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Lauren Jow

Illustrations by Lauren Jow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Power of Pronouns

I have been criticized by several straight cisgender white males in my life for being “too politically correct” when it comes to language (I gave up on correcting their grammatical errors and incorrect use of words a long time ago. ) I have had the words “feminist,” “liberal” and “atheist” (I’m agnostic—they couldn’t even get it right!) hurled at me in anger… yeah, as though those are insults!  rofl  These were instances of men with privilege not recognizing their privilege and then using that privilege not only to malign others, but also to attempt to intimidate me into shutting up.  It didn’t work.  My father prides himself in not being a bigot (and he really isn’t when it comes to people of color or people with physical disabilities) yet he has the most rigid attitudes of anyone I know and refuses to admit that some of his “opinions” may not be based on factual information.

The importance of language should not be underestimated.  Our lives center largely around various types of relationships.  The success of relationships depends on communication, and much of our communication is accomplished through language and how we use language.   As someone who has been addressed by an incorrect name on a regular basis and has her surname mispronounced more frequently than it has been pronounced correctly, I can attest to how invalidated it can make one feel.  And when someone doesn’t spell my name correctly when it is right in front of them (e.g., on Facebook) it sends me the message that their communication with me is not (or I am not) important enough to them for them to make the effort.  When I was a manager responsible for hiring, any resumés with letters on which my name was spelled incorrectly automatically went into the “probably not” pile:  If a prospective employee does not make the effort to spell their possible future supervisor’s name correctly, what can one expect in terms of the quality of their work?

Names, descriptive labels and pronouns… they are all important because they refer to who we are.  When people use incorrect names, descriptions, pronouns, etc., it strikes to the very core of our identities as human beings.

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Or, more accurately, they are symptomatic of the issue.

The issue that underlies all the rest of the stuff, the issue that creates the fundamental problems.

The use of the proper pronouns, the use of the right name, the remembering to say that a woman is a woman instead of calling her a man — these things are all symptomatic of the issue, and they are the most important things.

Because the issue is this: if you want to say that trans women are not women or trans men are not men, especially when you hate them, then you are the problem, not the solution.

That’s what underlies the bullshit around the MWMF.  That’s why it hasn’t gone away, and only gets worse.

That’s what underlies the calls for things like laws that decide which bathroom you can use based on your birth certificate.

That’s what underlies laws that require sterilization just to change some paperwork.

That’s what makes that paperwork so damned important.

Some might speculate that it is men who kill trans women of color.  IT is a reasonable speculation — the majority of the attacks that are known are done by men.  But many of the attack that are done are also done by women.

The call for the moral extermination of trans people was put forth by a woman, though.  A woman who also helped to ensure that medical coverage for trans needs was labeled as “experimental” decades ago, when it already had decades behind it.

THat, by itself, meant that a lot of trans people died, and they all died for the same core reasn: people did not see them as the women they are, and even though they might, occasionally, say something like “well, they are women, but they aren’t female?, that sort of bullshit is nothing more than a backhanded furtherance of the very same problem.

That is the problem.  IT is the chief problem, the first problem, the most important problem.  It is more important for trans people than domestic violence, than rape, than homelessness, than pretty much all of those social ills because it is what lies at the very heart of it.

Other people do not get to police how one person’s existence is genuine or not. You do not get to decide if I am enough of a woman, or if I have “female energy”, or if I am the right sort or the proper kind.

That is, in the end, the core of it.  The heart of it. Because that lies at the heart of all those other things, and is the root cause, the root source, and those who continue to do it are complicit in the very acts thereby.

BEcause no matter what the statistical prevalence of other things might say (and here I am thinking of someone who uses a statistical model in a commentary on this, not realizing the incredibly racist manner of her usage, while dismissing as unreliable a study that is far, far more reliable than her piss poor assemblage of disparate data), it is not poverty alone that creates situations like this.

It is the persistent, ongoing, extremely hostile statements of the sort that go on to say that Trans people are not allowed to be afraid of Cis people.

And until people recognize the basic, core, heartfelt sense of self in people who are men, women, both, and neither, then there will continue to be an overriding need to recognize that pronouns are indeed incredibly important.

Because that is what lies at the root.  That is the first step.  That trans women be seen as women.  That trans men be seen as men.  That trans people of color be seen as just as much a part of the trans community as all the rest.

That’s not merely pandering, either.

The single most overwhelming predictor of success in a diversionary program — be it substance abuse, prostitution, or just getting out of a cycle of self destructive behavior — for a trans person is that they be treated consistently, enduringly, and readily as the man, woman, or person they are.

And I have data going back seven years that supports that. That shows that respecting someone is the first step to saving their life.

That’s the impact on 3200 trans people. Not counting the ones in the last year.

SO yes, the right to be called the right pronouns, the right name, is the most important thing to do.

So let’s name the problem, shall we?

The problem is people not thinking that trans people are what they really are.  The problem is people policing trans people’s lives. The problem is fucking assholes who call trans women men and male, and trans men women and female.

IF you know someone who does that — no matter what their justifications are for it — you know someone who is actively contributing to the problem, who is part of it, and who is fighting against the solution.

The solution is simple.

Tell them to stop treating other people as if their lives were their personal property.

I can think of one person, we’ll call her Cockroach, who does this frequently. She runs around the internet acting like a dick and then scrambling away every time the light is turned on. Seems fitting.

It would be pretty incredible if people just went to all her twitter accounts, to all her “friends”, to all her Facebook pages and all her blogs and simply left the comment above.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Just this:

Stop treating other people as if their lives are your personal property.  Stop using the wrong pronouns. Stop using the wrong names. Stop being the problem.

A real simple comment.  It doesn’t say the hard things we all want to say the way we would like to say them.  But it still says what needs to be said, and it does it well.

Then leave it alone. They have been “educated”. After that, its up to them, and it is time to move on to greener pastures.  They will be left behind, consigned to the dustbin of history, footnotes on how not to be human beings in the not too distant future.

Just as the person who called for that moral extermination, that genocide, is now a footnote, consigned to the dustbin of history, an example of how not to be a human being.

There are bigger fish in the sea.

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Watch Your Language… PLEASE

 

Cisgender Privilege Cis People Take for Granted

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

30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the thumbnail to watch each video:

          Part 1                          Part 2                         Part 3

                          

Questions & Answers in Response to Previous Blog Entry

In response to the original Facebook post of 2. Daphne, I received the following (some editing done) from someone (“M”) who preferred to remain anonymous.  I marked questions/issues that will be addressed with bracketed numbers, starting with [1]:
———————————————————————————–
I had a guy a few years ago (before i was out) [as a cisgender lesbian] that would come into where i worked and was always trying to get me to go out with him was definitely not my type 

1) he was 30 and almost as bald as a 80-year-old,
2) he was only about 4’7″
3) something just didn’t feel right about him
4) he had 4 kids (wasn’t ready for that either) apparently his wife had left him and the kids

but still that something i really didn’t understand what it was until he asked me to meet him at the movie theater one day after work so being the nice person i am i said ok. well the day i was supposed to meet him at the movies he stopped by to make sure i was still going. when he walked through the door he had on high heals and a skirt. i didn’t say any thing because i’m not rude like that. he then looked down and said oh dammit i forgot i had this on and proceeded to tell me that he liked to wear womens cloths.
Continue…

“J” and Some Definitions

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

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

First, some notes written by me:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Okay.  Here is J’s note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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