Blog Archives

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.

big-blue-divider-hi (1)

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.

big-blue-divider-hi (1)

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

big-blue-divider-hi (1)

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.

 

 

Butterfly end boundary

Advertisements

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

blank for blog

big-blue-divider-hi (1)

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.

big-blue-divider-hi (1)

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.

 

 

Butterfly end boundary

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?

Cisgender Privilege Cis People Take for Granted

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

30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RatFems on Pussy Patrol at RatFest 2012!

rat  (răt)
n.

1.

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

2.   Slang

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

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

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

Dear Ratfesters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click on the thumbnail to watch each video:

          Part 1                          Part 2                         Part 3

                          

…For One Moment


Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be transgender or transsexual? Do you wonder what it would be like to experience incongruence between your identity and your anatomy? Do you wonder how much different you would be?
[TRIGGER WARNING.  Note: This will be explained at the end of the post.]

If you are a cisgender woman, reading the following excerpt of a post from Devyn’s blog Trans*Positive may give you an idea:

I have always valued my individuality. I have always worked to make a place for myself as myself. Of course, I did not always succeed. I was fighting a losing battle with my gender identity for years; but still attempted to be authentic. I conformed, as we all do at least sometimes, in order to fit in and to take advantage of the privileges that were afforded to me.

Over the years, I became increasingly uncomfortable with myself, with my body. I spent nights crying over the state of my body, followed by days of crippling gender dysphoria; sometimes it was all I could do to get out of bed. My body developed to be more specifically gendered: my skin became rougher; I began to grow hair all over my body; my muscles began to grow and become harder, stronger, and more defined. I hated the way this made me feel. I hated the way I fit inside my body. I felt clumsy; I felt encumbered.

I was angry. I became angry easily, and this made me even more angry. My temper was out of control at times. Inside, I felt a multitude of emotions rampaging through my thoughts. Externally, I reacted with anger, frustration, and violence. I wanted to cry, and instead I became physically violent. I wanted to talk about my feelings and share my passions. Instead I became tongue tied and frustrated.

In many ways, I still feel this way. Some days, I still struggle with negative body image issues and gender dysphoria; though never as severely now as before. Some days, I am angry.

Now, back to reality:  Transgender and transsexual people live with some degree of this every moment of their entire lives, even AFTER transition.

If  imagining yourself transgender/transsexual for a minute or so made you feel uncomfortable, THAT’S GOOD–it means you’re learning.  Please pass this knowledge on to others to help in the battle against transphobia and the stigma associated with being trans*.

Note:  A “Trigger Warning” is a warning to trans* people (especially those in transition)  that the material that follows may “trigger” or evoke  feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt and/or anxiety related to their own gender dysphoria, thus giving them the option as to whether to continue reading or not.

Where is the Pride?

Image

I returned from the 10th Annual St. Pete Pride Street Festival & Promenade on Saturday feeling disappointed, sad and a bit angry.  The parade normally starts at 9 a.m. and the street festival goes until 3 p.m.; I usually get home between 2:30 and 3:30.   I was home on Saturday before 11:15 and I’m not sure I was even there for the entire parade. 

Let me begin by saying that I hadn’t felt well for several days. I have a few medical conditions that had been making me feel like crap lately, and for some reason, the heat has been bothering me more than usual, making me feel weak, lethargic, and nauseated.  I haven’t been sleeping well, and although I set my alarm clock to wake me early enough to give me plenty of time to make it to the staging area by the 8:30 a.m. deadline, my alarm clock didn’t wake me and I woke up 45 minutes late. 

So, I’m running VERY late—I have 45 minutes to get up, take a shower, get dressed, grab what I need and get to the meeting place on time and I have to take a shower because my hair is filthy and disgusting.  My daughter and I have been talking about marching in this Pride parade for this whole past year (she missed the past 2 years because she was in the hospital) and I was really looking forward to going with her, but I had to be a responsible parent and take the privilege away despite how I felt….  Needless to say, I wasn’t as excited about going this year, and didn’t lay out my clothes, etc., the night before, so I ended up wearing my bright pink “Love is a Human Right” t-shirt instead of my tie-dyed rainbow colored “St. Pete Pride” one, only because I knew where that one was.   Anyway, I ran out of the house before putting all the hair elastics in my hair (arranged in rainbow order) and without the one Diet Coke I allow myself each day—my daily allotment of caffeine—which,  had I not rushed off without it, probably would have made me feel at least a little bit better.  I did remember to grab my water (pre-frozen the night before, but removed from the freezer at some ungodly hour that morning… it was only cool and tasted gross), my camera, and batteries for the camera, and set the security alarm before leaving.

As I pulled out of my driveway, I glanced at the car radio clock:  8:30.  Crap!  The message I got the night before said that  in order to march in the parade, I would need to be there by 8:30.  (I had decided months ago—and my daughter agreed—that I wanted to march with a trans* group in the parade.  A month or more ago I asked my only local Facebook friend who I am aware is trans* about groups that may be marching in this year’s parade but it turned out that she was going to be marching with another non-trans* group.  A week ago, I finally located a trans* group in the area that would be marching—Trans*Action Florida, Florida’s only state level trans* advocacy organization—but they didn’t see my post until days later, the night before the parade.)

All morning—when I hadn’t been telling myself that maybe it would be better if I skipped the parade and just stayed in bed, that is—I’d been wondering whether maybe it just wasn’t meant to be for me to march in the parade this year  and wondered whether I should just stop rushing, take my time, go to the parade and enjoy myself.  But I had been looking forward to this all year and was afraid that I’d regret it if I didn’t at least try.  Naturally, consistent with the kind of day I’d been having so far, I drove right past the place I’d planned on parking, looked around, realized that parking in other places looked pretty limited, so I drove all the way around the block and parked.  Then I trudged the 1/2 mile or so to the meeting place, crossing streets safely but sometimes against traffic lights.  It was considerably after 8:30 but I thought, “WTF?” and decided to try to find the group, with the hope that I would still be allowed to march with them.

Surprisingly enough, I found the Trans*Action Florida group right away, which was an amazing stroke of luck, considering that the past 2 years I walked around for 1/2 hour or more searching for the groups I was planning on marching with in the parade.  Then came the hard part—walking up to the group and introducing myself.  I did it, getting that “Who is that cis woman and WTF is she doing here with us?” look from several people—I walked up to a very tall beautiful woman who I will call “A” and she introduced me to the Executive Director of Trans*Action Florida.  I was even able to  awkwardly but intelligibly converse with a few people and mentioned my blog and the trans* groups I am involved with on Facebook.  “A” gave me her card, “so you can email me,” she said, and told me I could search for her by name on Facebook.  And I will do exactly that… once I finish this becoming-longer-and-more-unwieldy-by-the-minute post.

Maybe it was my general discomfort in social situations.  Maybe it was the fact that I knew absolutely no one in a brand-new group of people.  Maybe it was the fact that everyone else there obviously knew each other.  Maybe it was the fact that I was introduced to the rest of the group as an “ally” (read: “outsider”.)  Maybe it was because Trans*Action Florida is headed by a trans man and it “feels” as though the organization is very male-dominated.  Maybe it was because I missed my daughter and my trans* friends and wished they were there with me.   And maybe the fact that I felt physically ill made it all worse.  Likely it was some combination of several of these factors that made me feel, as usual, that I did not belong—that I was, once more, on the outside looking in.

Then there was the parade itself.  I read somewhere that up to 100,000 people were expected at this year’s Pride event.  Well, marching in the parade, there seemed to be considerably fewer spectators than last year and the year before, and the few protesters seemed louder.  Disappointment.  The parade itself seemed fragmented.  Our group fell far behind (as did others in the groups that followed us) and people were wandering out  into the street in front of us.  And although the appearance of our group was often greeted with resounding applause, the fracturing of the parade seemed to reflect divisiveness in the LGBT community and the feeling of being “cut off from the rest” seemed analogous to how the “T” in “LGBT” is often “cut off”, i.e., left out and/or ignored.  Sadness.

Finally, at some point while our section of the parade paused, someone came out of the crowd and took a picture of “A.”  Now don’t get me wrong—”A” is a beautiful woman. She has gorgeous red hair (one of the other women told her to be sure that everyone knows that it is her hair—not a wig!) and was wearing a nice dress.  BUT, “A” is not a man, was not dressed in drag and moreover did not look like a man dressed in drag, and it made me angry to see “A” being treated like a freak at the circus.  Perhaps the photographer was a friend of “A’s”.  This incident was a perfect example of how many cisgender people can treat trans* people like freaks without even being aware of doing so…  and it made me mad.  DisgustedAngryOutraged.

Where is the Pride?  Where is the Pride when trans* people are included in the LGBTQQIAAP alphabet soup in name only?  Where is the Pride when trans* people are discriminated against in every aspect of human life in our society?  Where is the Pride when trans* people— human beings—are  gawked at, whispered about, laughed at and otherwise treated like freaks at a circus?  Where is the Pride when trans* people are teased, ridiculed, humiliated,  bullied, tormented, tortured, beaten, raped and murdered and their bodies dismembered,  mutilated beyond recognition and burned… to the point  that identification of what remains of their corpses requires comparison to dental records and/or DNA analysis?  I looked around and I couldn’t find it among the signs that read, “I Love My Gay Son,”  “This Vietnam Vet Supports Gay Marriage,” “I Love My Gay Friend,” “I Love My Lesbian Daughter,” “gay” this and “gay” that.  I don’t see any of those things as “self-affirming” or worthy of celebration; in fact, they only serve to perpetuate the shame and social stigma associated with being a TG/TS person in our culture.   As a supporter of the trans* community I felt invisible; I cannot begin to imagine how trans* people must have felt at a festival that is supposed to be celebrating their uniqueness and inclusion in  an L-G-B-T “community.”

On this note and in this lousy frame of mind I watched a few minutes of the parade go by and then realized that I felt too sick to stick around any longer, so I started heading towards my car.  Because of all the disjointedness and gaps in the parade, I’m not sure whether or not  I saw all of it before I got into my car and drove home.

%d bloggers like this: