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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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Enact “Leelah’s Law” to Ban Transgender Conversion Therapy for Children and Teens

Leelah's Law Whitehouse Petition

Petitions on whitehouse.gov must obtain 100,000 signatures within 30 days in order for the White House to be required to respond. Clicking on the picture will open a new tab and enable you to add your name to the petition.

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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. 

Pride & The “T” in “LGBT”

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

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

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

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

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The Seattle Times

Transgender people say they’re ready for the spotlight

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

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times staff reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting to gain visibility

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating energy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health-care concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Twitter @turnbullL.

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

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“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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