Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dear 15 Year Old Me...

A lot of people who know me, have NO idea that I went through some really vicious bullying as a teen, and I decided to take part in a project called "Dear 15 Year Old Me: Letters of Hope for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Teens" , and I wanted to share my (long) letter to me here, in hopes it might help someone else... *possible triggery*

Dear Lori,

I know things are terribly rough right now. I feel so bad for you, that every weekday right now carries such an overwhelming feeling of dread and confusion for you. I know you're afraid to go to school, I know you feel sick every morning and you think it's hopeless… like it's never going to stop hurting to face each new day. I know it seems like the taunts will never stop…the things other students, even teachers say to you; "amazon", "dyke", "freak", "linebacker", "lezzy", "why do you look like a lezbo?", "why can't you just stop trying to be different, and try to fit in?", "do you just like pissing people off?" It seems like it will never stop, and that no one sees how sad you are all the time – or that they do and just don't care. That girl that just spit on you as you walked past the water fountains, the one who likes to slam your locker door against your head when she walks by you, the guy that walks behind you every time he sees you, yelling insults at you and making everyone else laugh, the girls that sneer at you when you walk into the bathroom and then laugh at you, the coach that asked you if you like to check out the other girls in the locker room, the teacher that told you when you reported a physical assault, to "work on fitting in and to stop going out of your way to be different" … none of them know how kind hearted you are. None of them know how much your family loves you, and how much you love them. They don't know that you've known you were different since you were a very small child. They don't know that you want so badly to be normal. To have friends. They don't know how badly you want to be able to enjoy Friday night football games, and be invited to parties. To walk through the halls smiling and laughing with a group of friends. They don't know that you skip lunch and go hungry most days because you're afraid to sit in the lunchroom with them. Or maybe they do know, and are just that heartless. I don't want to believe it's that though. I want to believe that deep down they're decent people, who just don't get it. But these next few years, as hard as they are for you, will pass quickly. I know you want to end it all most days right now, I know you feel like it's the only thing that will stop the pain. But you have NO idea how wonderful the future is going to be! Not long after you graduate, you'll move away and find a wonderful community of people who will accept you with open arms. You'll fit in… you'll be invited to parties, you'll have a big group of friends who'll laugh with you, not at you. You will start to recognize yourself in the mirror and know who you are. Sure, you're still going to go through some hard times, but you're going to have so many more good times than bad. You'll learn that you aren't the only one like you in this world, and that there is a path to the person you've known you were since you were so little. You'll meet other guys like yourself and you'll travel all over the country meeting people like yourself and you'll become who you were meant to be. And that little girl you dreamed of when you were little, the one you wished you could meet, and fall in love with. Guess what? She'll find you, a little later than you would have liked, but she'll sweep you off your feet and you'll swear you're caught up in a real life fairy tale. And she'll bring a whole family with her! You'll have kids that love and adore you, and make you smile and laugh every day. You'll be excited for the future, you'll feel like a King, and you'll look back on these years with a touch of sadness, but more than that, with pride. Pride in yourself for being a survivor, and for not giving up. You'll realize that these things made you stronger, and that you'll draw on it for inspiration to help others, and to educate other people, so that maybe someday, no one else ever needs to write this letter. You're going to grow up to be a good man, a happy man. You'll grow up to be so thankful that you didn't allow them to push you over the edge. So hang in there, keep your chin up and be proud that you're being true to yourself and not trying to fit in. Not only will it get better… it will be AMAZING ♥

Love, Mike

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Memo: Don't Assume That All Butches Are Transmen in Waiting...

I find myself both intrigued and enraged by the radfem "theory" of transmen embarking on this journey because they're misogynistic and want male privilege... or that Butches are more or less, transmen waiting to happen, and that we're on the prowl, recruiting other Butches to join the ranks. It’s turned into a really nasty contention within the queer community, and isn't doing any of us a goddamn bit of good. I've heard the argument, that a good number of Butches are being pressured into using male or gender-neutral pronouns, some going so far as to seek out medical intervention (top surgery, T, etc) to proclaim themselves to be men for no other reason but because it's easier than being Butch. For the women who love and seek out female-identified Butches, this is disconcerting, understandably, and they question what is driving this reported "migration". A quick refresher on second-wave radical feminism will show you how some attempt to both back up this theory, as well as provide the answers. Talk to one of these radfems for 2 minutes, and you'll hear all about how transmen are simply self-hating women. They will tell you that transmen are women who caved to patriarchy, and how they "chop off" healthy body parts in an effort to be something they aren't. How they're all mentally ill, and too weak to defy society's imposed gender norms. That it was easier to just transition than to stand up to the patriarchy. According to them, transmen retreat from oppression by becoming the oppressor. They see transmen as weak Butches, basically. What they deliberately gloss over though, is that Butch is an identity all its own, and the majority of Butches never consider transitioning genders. Their theory has some other MAJOR holes, and I think it's easy for those who have no experience with a transperson in their lives, to buy into it. I would argue that these Butches who do end up transitioning are people who, perhaps in the journey to find themselves, found a safe place to land temporarily in the Butch community. That was my own experience anyway. I didn't personally identify as Butch, or even as a lesbian. But even though those labels felt foreign to me, it was as close as I could come to fitting in before educating myself - those labels weren't bad, nor icky, they were just foreign to me in how I viewed my place in this world. I didn't think it was bad to be a woman. I just didn't feel like one. I'm certainly not suggesting that Butch women are never pressured to consider transition. I know that happens - and I think it's reprehensible for anyone to push someone else to question their gender identity just because they may seem "too" Butch, or too "masculine". But this is a problem with society's imposed gender "norms", not with the trans community.

Constructing these exaggerated, over-generalized reasons for transition is quite insidious, especially given that most people can't even comprehend what it is to grow up feeling a disconnect between the mind and body, and how terrifying and difficult the transition journey can be. And a good number of these anti-trans radfems have never even spent any real time talking to a transperson, and listening to their story. The simple fact is, very few people transition for the reasons mentioned above - and those who do, will eventually seek out de-transition and return to living life as the sex they were born. Because think about it... being transgender/transsexual is a really fucking godawful way to try and advance in our society, if that's your objective. Becoming, possibly the most misunderstood, most hated letter in LGBTQ, is really not what one would do to escape oppression, or because because they're too weak to deal with cis privilege. Sure, transmen do gain male privilege, anyone who denies that is not being honest with themselves. And male privilege, even though I'd like to see it done away with completely, can be used responsibly. But besides gaining male privilege, we also gain transphobia, and the really nasty, insidious entity that is cissexism. What is cissexism you ask? let's back up a sec... cisgender is label you may see popping up more and more often when gender and gender identities are being discussed. It's a label attached to individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity. In other words, the majority of the population. Basically then, cissexism is a label to describe those who believe that a transperson's gender identity is inferior to, or less authentic than, their own. Transpeople also have to deal with the economic impact of transition, as well as the social impact and the potential, and all to frequent loss of friends and family. Not to mention the very difficult to navigate, sometimes terrifying, very expensive medical journey. So ask yourself again... would we do this just to escape the "male gaze" and sexism in our society? I don't see how anyone can honestly believe that trading sexism for cissexism would be an escape from anything.

Then there's the argument that we must not REALLY want to be men, because if we did, we wouldn't want to hold onto any attachment to the queer community - specifically - the lesbian community. I spent about 10 years in and around the queer community. I watched friends lose their battle with AIDS, raised money, marched, and helped fight for equality and visibility. The thought of losing my community connections, and queer identity was paralyzing to me. I believed 100% in everything I had fought for, and I knew it was going to be a long fight. It was something I invested so much time in because I believed in it so strongly. It had nothing to do with the disconnect I grew up with. I wasn't running away from being seen as a lesbian, I didn't think it was bad to be a woman. I was on a personal journey that took me through this amazing, vibrant community of people and I didn't regret that for one second. But nothing could have prepared me for the uglier side of the journey I was embarking on. The journey into a world where, while I would become the me I had always seen in the mirror, the authentic me, I would, at the same time, be entering a world where the very concept of me, and of others like me, was frightening and disgusting. A world in which some members of the very community I loved so much and fought so hard for, would look down on me, and view me, and others like me, with contempt, abhorrence, and sometimes, hate. A world where when people know that I am a transman, they would feel justified in confronting me with their bias openly, and also feel as though I owe them an explanation. These people would feel that it is appropriate to ask me very intrusive, personal questions about my body and my medical and legal status. And a world where when people don't know I am trans, and read me as cisgender, I'd have to overhear all the nasty, vile things they say about both transpeople and the gay/lesbian communities. I've had to deal with this on the job, and in social situations, and let me tell you, it’s not easy to hear... it's downright hideous. So trust me when I say, that transition was no "easy out". There's nothing remotely "easy" about it. Don't get me wrong - I am not complaining, or playing a victim card (yeah, we get accused of that too) - I am grateful that I was able to take this journey. I have never felt like a victim because of it, and I don't regret one second of it. But the fact is, it isn't easy, and certainly not a good alternative to the "ism's" we leave behind, because we just get a new set of them.

My question to the radfems is this - Can't you stop for a moment and recognize that you have become completely fixated on this theory that transsexuality is a tool of the patriarchy, and the "male medical establishment" — regardless of how very vehemently the patriarchy opposes, and punishes it? Can't you see the problem with that theory? Why don't you sit and have a real, sincere conversation with a transman, or a transgender Butch, and ask why they identify the way they do, or why they decided to transition? The thing is, that most, if asked, will tell you that they felt this disconnect since very early childhood. They may not all remember it as having felt male, but I would venture to say that most will tell you that they always felt different, and in some way, confused. Not by their roles, but just by their existence in their bodies. Not because of their toys, or what clothing was hanging in their closets, or even how their parents treated them - they will probably tell you about a deep seated confusion, or as I've explained it before, a disconnect that they experienced long before they even knew what gender norms were, before they knew what transgender was, and most definitely before they were exposed to any trans "trending". When we take the time to speak about our experiences, and tell you why we chose the life we did, why not just believe us? You may have your theories - your assumptions - about a life you aren't living, that doesn't discount the real stories, the people LIVING the truth behind the assumptions. Whether you agree with it or not, why do you insist on taking such a domineering stance? What makes you think you can speak for us, and how can you know more about us than we know about ourselves? What gives you the right to tell us - or anyone for that matter - whether we should exist or not, and what is and isn't good for us?

This isn't Butch vs Trans, or Butch vs FTM like I see so often online. Butch women are amazing, and some of my very best friends are Butch. Transmen aren't just wayward, weak, confused Butches. Butches and transmen are two completely different, wonderful identities. The existence of transmen isn't destroying the Butch community, and we aren't recruiting your Butches. Do some transmen ID as Butch prior to transition? Sure they do... I did. But I wasn't a Butch woman. Butch women are not transmen waiting to transition. There is a very long, rich history behind Butches that nothing can destroy, and there are some amazing Butches out there carrying that tradition on. Butch isn't going anywhere. Some may drift in and out of that identity for various reasons on their individual journeys, but that doesn't mean there aren't MANY more who proudly live their lives as Butch women, or as Transgender Butches, who refuse to attach a gender to their experience. It certainly doesn't take anything away from them. I think that Butches are amazing and courageous in their own right, for living their lives authentically, in spite of what society tells them they should be. This rift between our two communities doesn't need to exist, and it only stands to hurt us both further. We can co-exist in this world, and we don't have to turn our beautiful, diverse experiences into a pissing contest.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Have Not Disappeared

Just a quick note to my lonely blog... it's an intense semester and I have ZERO free time - I am finding it impossible to do any personal reading or blogging, but spring break is next week and I'll update the blog with what all's going on. Good stuff happening! I'm assistant teaching Intro to Women & Gender Studies this semester and also started a chapter of the National Organization of Men Against Sexism on our campus, so I'm pretty stoked about that! More to come when I get some time to breathe... :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Performing" Gender?

In a recent comment on another blog... I was accused of both "performing" gender, and "fronting". I sat here scratching my head, trying to decipher what the other commenter was trying to say. Especially since it was said as an insult. I think most of us "perform" gender in one way or another... I've never met anyone truly androgynous, although, I'm sure there are some people who try to refrain from any gender performance. I think we all know by now, or can acknowledge that gender is a social construct. Society attempts to assign a gender to all of us as we enter this world, and sometimes that gender assignment meshes with our biological sex - sometimes it doesn't. As k.d. lang (who I am a HUGE fan of) once told Barbara Walters in an interview, when asked why she dresses in masculine clothing, "clothes are just things we drape over our bodies". Why does it even have to be considered "gender performance"? Can we not all just wear what we like? I find it interesting that someone from the trans hating camp, who works so hard at showing why Butches should not be called "masculine" just because of how they dress or how they wear their hair (gender performance) would turn around and accuse someone else of gender performance. You're completely contradicting yourself! Here's the deal - I am not biologically male. I can't change that. I can choose which gender I feel most comfortable with, and I did. I don't choose clothing based on anything besides personal taste. Some days that's jeans and a kickass cowboy hat, some days it's cargo shorts and a t-shirt - some days it may be the very fancy shiny metallic silver shirt I found at a thrift store recently, that my daughter thinks looks like a girl's shirt. I couldn't care less if it looks "feminine" - it's a fabulous shirt that I can't wait to wear out! I don't choose my clothing according to gender rules just because I transitioned genders, and I didn't transition genders because of the clothing I liked. Plenty of men and women wear clothing that some might consider inappropriate for their gender and DON'T transition. Clothing does not make the man, OR woman. I wear things that I like, and I don't think about what people will think of me when I wear them. I don't care if what I'm wearing makes me looks masculine or feminine. So no, I wouldn't label how I dress, as a performance. I don't think clothing should be assigned to a particular gender. I would like to see a society in which everyone could wear WHATEVER they liked, and not be questioned or told that they're performing anything. Maybe I'm obtuse, but I honestly don't get the big deal over other people's identities. Why does it matter if a person decides not to identify with the gender they're assigned at birth? Why can't we allow one another the freedom to be whoever we want to be? We force one another into boxes all the time in this society and I don't understand why we can't live and let live. Seriously.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just an Update

Wow. With school, I find it SO HARD to keep up with my personal blogging, writing, etc. I refuse, however, to let this blog fall by the wayside! Thanks to those who have messaged me that they check here all the time for new posts! I have some exciting things going on school-wise! I founded a chapter of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism on campus, still trying to get that all sorted out but its going GREAT! I'm a Teaching Assistant in the AWESOME Intro to Women & Gender Studies class, and I was invited to join WILL - the Wo/Men's Initiative for Leadership Learning, which I'm incredibly proud of! Outside of school, I'm still doing some panels and presentations, and also working on a sensitivity training program that I want to offer, hopefully starting this summer! And as if ALL that weren't enough, I'm working on a book. Whew. Just putting all that down in black and white makes me realize it may be Spring Break before I get any real free time! So there's a mini update... I'll try to think of something to run my mouth about over the weekend so I can put up a real meat & potatoes post. Until then, be kind to yourself and others :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

It's Not All Rainbows & Butterflies

So there was this great article posted on Xtra! which is a Gay & Lesbian news magazine in Canada. The article is entitled 'Loving a Trans Man Isn't Easy' and it looks at transition from a partner's POV. The article is very well written, and is not only raw and honest, but brings up important issues that most of the time, are just swept under the rug. I was (am) shocked at the negative comments the author has received - hateful, nasty comments, many of which are from members of the LGBT community. I've heard people talk about this before - how it's not ok for partners of transmen to talk about how it affects them. But listen up people, when you're in a relationship and transitioning, then your partner is also transitioning. How can people not see that these major changes affect BOTH people in the relationship?

I can sit here and talk about the hard parts of my transition, and I can say that some days it's hard and there have been times it sucked. And that's ok. But let my wife say that sometimes it's hard to deal with, and that she has become an invisible lesbian, and that it's hard sometimes, and she would probably be labeled transphobic. It's just bullshit! It's ESPECIALLY hard when transition happens during a relationship. When the person you love starts changing right before your eyes... you have to call them by a new name, use new pronouns, all the while, trying to be supportive because you love them - but trying at the same time to let go of them as you knew them. No matter how much you love and support them, you still have to go through a kind of grieving process for the way they were. And when you try to have a discussion about it, you're accused of making it all about you, or told that you're being transphobic.

My wife had just come out as a lesbian about 2 years prior to meeting me. She may not have had to deal with watching me change, but my transition affected her nonetheless. I was 'stealth' when we met - and I didn't want her "queerness" to out me, so I wanted the rainbow sticker on the car to come off, and certainly didn't want too much "gay stuff" around. So I opened the closet door for her and pushed her right back in. Did I realize that's what I was doing? No. Did I mean to make her invisible? No... certainly not. I love her with all that I am. Did I realize I was causing her to question her identity? No. But I was. And I was insensitive to her needs and her feelings. And who could she talk to about it? If she brought it up to me, I felt defensive. If she were to have brought it up in a group of other transmen or women, they would likely feel a little defensive, and she had plenty of lesbians shun her if they even found out she was with a transman. Not to mention the hetero friends you make - the ones you usually have to hide your true selves from. It's been hard on her at times, and she still deals with a certain amount of invisibility. She looks in the mirror and sees queer - but the world looks at her and sees just another straight woman. So I applaud the bravery of the author of the article - for speaking up and speaking out. Maybe as a community we can learn to stop silencing one another. I, for one, am glad that my eyes were opened.

I'm out as a transman now. I speak at universities and to groups of teachers, etc. My wife is once again free to fly her queer flag all she wants, and put her rainbow stickers back on the car. She is becoming less and less invisible and I'm happy about that. Not everyone is in a position to be out, I get that, but be open and be sensitive to your partner's need to be heard. Don't expect support but not be willing to give support. Transition is hard sometimes, yes - for us AND for the people in our lives.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Guess who is still alive?!?

Yeah - me! I feel like I abandoned an old friend it's been so long!! I started back to school this semester so homework and all that has hijacked all my spare time. So the blog suffered for it - but I'm finally in the swing of it all (I think) and I miss my blog! I hope my (few) readers didn't say fuck it :)

I shall be back later with a post! (Promise!)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy International Butch Appreciation Day!

So, contrary to popular bullshit, I KNOW that FTMs and Butches are not the same people, cut from the same cloth. I admire the strength and fierceness of a Butch woman, and I'm glad there's a day to appreciate all they add to our community. I have known - and do know - some amazing Butches throughout my lifetime, and even though I appreciate them every day, I honor them today. The Butches who are self confident, strong, proud, and don't define themselves or their community based on what everyone else is doing. Butches who enjoy the diversity of the LGBT community, and support EVERYONE involved in the struggle for equality. You know who you are! The few, sad Butches who want to tear this community apart, and who call for the oppression of another minority group to build themselves up, are a disgrace. You know who you are too, and you should be ashamed of the negative light you shed daily on your Butch community. But, I digress. Celebrate Butch today everyone! Tell a Butch how much you admire them!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Importance of Diversity & Tolerance

"In Germany they first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me - and by that time no one was left to speak up."

- Rev. Martin Niemoller

Diversity enriches our lives. Much as the biological diversity of an ecosystem increases its stability and productivity, cultural diversity brings together the resources and talents of many people for the shared benefit of all. Sadly, the differences among us have historically formed the basis of fear, bigotry, and even violence. People fear diversity simply because they are accustomed to the way things used to be and change makes them uncomfortable. The fact is, there are more trans people becoming visible now, and I'm not talking about the trenders - the really young people who I've admitted repeatedly, are toying with gender to make a statement or to be different. I'm talking about transsexuals. I'm talking about people like me, who grew up with this. It's become safer to be out. We've always been there - we were just mostly invisible. I get that transsexuality isn't easy to wrap one's mind around... it's confusing. Some choose to enlighten themselves and try to understand it, some just concede that we all have a right to our identities whether others get it or not. And some decide to take the road to intolerance.

If you do not understand another's values, lifestyle, or beliefs, it is much easier to belittle them. And so the seeds of prejudice and intolerance are sown. You don't have to agree with, or promote another person's identity, but tolerance is something that we OWE one another when it comes to how we identify. We are intolerant if we reject or dislike people because they are different, or have a different set of values, or challenge our ideas when it comes to identity. And intolerance harms not only its intended victims, but society at large, as well. No one who believes in democratic pluralism should accept any intolerance or infringement on freedom of expression - and that includes gender expression. Democracy is based upon the idea that we can have differences in opinion and still get along. These democratic principles are threatened whenever anyone suffers from intolerance. Tolerance, (loosely defined), is not prohibiting that which you disapprove of. Must we tolerate anything and everything? Of course not and few people, if any, claim that we must. To embrace tolerance does not mean one must allow and accept obvious injustices. But my being a transsexual doesn't hurt YOU. I am not hurting anyone. I am not committing any injustice against another person. I deserve tolerance, as do you. If someone is tolerant of me being transsexual, that does not mean that they must transition themselves or even approve of my transgender status. And it certainly doesn't mean they must give up their own identity or values. This idea that tolerating and respecting my choices in life results in killing YOUR identity, well it's just ridiculous. And specifically, I am talking about the idea that transmen are somehow destroying the Butch identity. It's smoke and mirrors, and it is histrionics. It's a really lame excuse for intolerance.

Intolerance compromises our integrity by encouraging us to treat others badly. Intolerance is used to stigmatize, silence, and, on occasion, target people whose identities challenge our own self-esteem and ideologies. It is often assumed that people who experience one form of oppression and discrimination are less likely to discriminate against others. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. Especially when we're talking about the GLBT community. Is it too much to ask, that we ALL learn a little respect for the contribution of the ‘other’ – whereby the ‘other’ is treated with deference, courtesy and compassion, in an endeavor to safeguard the integrity, dignity, value and social worth of the individual, and of society?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

*Personal Update* I Hit a Milestone!

So it's been about 3 weeks since I adopted a new, healthier lifestyle and I am excited to report that I've lost my first 20#! And I feel SO much better! I'm still doing smoothies with the super green, fruit, fat free yogurt, and almond milk for breakfast every day. I've had NO sodas/pop for 3 weeks, and I drink primarily water all day. This coming from a guy who killed 6-8 sodas a day easily, and never drank water. My joints are thanking me! I eat a very very light lunch, usually some celery with a tad of peanut butter for protein, and a couple of pieces of fruit - unless we have salad made up, then I'll have a salad with fat free dressing. Speaking of - I have always HATED fat free salad dressings - I found them to be bland and often watery tasting - but I found the most AMAZING dressing - It's a Ken's Steakhouse dressing, Fat-Free Raspberry Pecan - and it is so full flavored and sweet. Good stuff - try it! For supper - I used to eat until I was so stuffed I was sleepy - terrible! Now, I have a sensible serving of whatever we're having - which is no longer out of a can or a box, and I feel satisfied and more important, I don't feel like I'm in a food coma. I've had NO indigestion for 3 weeks (I was having it almost daily) and I could just go on and on about all the other little physical signs of getting healthier and stronger. Doesn't hurt either that I'm back down to a 38 waist from a 42, 6 months ago. Anyway, just wanted to share, and encourage any of my readers who struggle with the same things, that you CAN turn it all around, if I can - ANYONE can, trust me. If you want to know more about the Super Green, exactly how I'm eating, how to get started, or just need support, feel free to drop me a line! Have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reaching Out to Transgender Youth

I really need to put some info up here for TG youth, resources, help, etc. I've already been contacted by one young person looking for support and help. I will also link to this post in the menu for easy access.

Research studies of the information needs of transgender youth have shown that their needs differ slightly from those of gay and lesbian youth, and transgender teens are much more likely to attempt suicide than their gay and lesbian peers. Primarily because transgender students face much higher levels of harassment and violence in public schools and universities than LGB students. Reports reveal that many of these students lack the school support and resources that have been shown to improve the education climate for LGBT students. Most of these students, for example, do not have access to a Gay-Straight Alliance in school, and most reported not having a school district anti-bullying/anti-harassment policy that specifically includes protections based on sexual orientation AND gender expression. In a recent study by GLSEN, Over two-thirds(69%) of transgender students felt unsafe in school because of their gender expression. 87% have been verbally harassed at school because of their gender expression. 53% have been physically harassed at school (i.e. pushed, shoved, or subject to unwanted touch). 26% had actually been seriously physically assaulted (i.e. punched, kicked, or assaulted with a weapon) at school. Although ALL LGBT students report these types of issues, these numbers are almost double for transgender students. Not surprisingly, these studies have shown that 9 out of 10 transgender youth turn to the internet for information & support. This is why I am so passionate about the way adults are behaving online - ESPECIALLY the gay and lesbian adults who choose not to foster a empathetic environment, and instead, misinform people, humiliate these youth, and invite them to be ridiculed and mocked by others. It truly is sick. Is it really too much to expect, that we might be able, as a community, to move towards a future in which everyone learns to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression?

And for any transgender youth who might be reading this: I know that sometimes the emotional pain and stress can feel like its too much, especially when there seems to be no one around who cares or understands, or who support you. I also know that, even though it isn't really what they want, sometimes young people think seriously about suicide when it all seems like too much to deal with. It almost sounds cliche now, but trust me, it really DOES get better! I was bullied relentlessly throughout school because of my gender expression, and I considered suicide as an option, but I survived it and I am SO glad I did! You can get through it! Check out places in your community for support, like a trusted family member, school counselor, any person that you trust. Talk to a friend. Go see your school counselor. They might be able to help. Feel free to contact me if you can't find resources, or just need to talk. I am always more than happy to be a listening, caring ear, and have access to some resources. I've posted some resources here that might be able to help. Just in case you need them.

GLBT National Youth Talkline

The GLBT National Youth Talkline provides telephone and email peer-counseling, as well as factual information and local resources for cities and towns across the United States.
All services are free and confidential. The telephone volunteers are in their teens and early twenties, and speak with teens and young adults up to age 25 about coming-out issues, relationship concerns, parent issues, school problems, HIV/AIDS anxiety and safer-sex information, and lots more!
Toll-free 1-800-246-PRIDE (1-800-246-7743)
HOURS: Monday thru Friday from 5pm to 9pm, Pacific Time. (Monday thru Friday from 8pm to Midnight, Eastern Time)

NEVER give up on yourself! You are beautiful and unique, and you are more powerful than you know! Don't let others steal your future, your hopes and dreams.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Discrimination Is NEVER OK

* Graphic courtesy of The National Center for Transgender Equality,

I want to address the NUMBER ONE biggest misconception regarding the trans community. And that is, that we transition to take the "easy way out". Just hearing those words... feels so bizarre to me. Easy. The easy way. Wow. Nothing could be farther from the truth. People think we transition to the opposite gender so that we can easily blend right in to mainstream society. So that we can gain privileges we weren't allowed before. In other words, rather than live with the streotypes and discrimination we would endure for being gay or lesbian (and not ALL transsexuals were gay or lesbian prior to transition), we transition to get rid of the label. Well I'm here to tell you, there's nothing remotely easy about it. Not deciding to move forward with it, not easy to come out to friends and family, not easy to navigate insurance rules and juggle paying for expensive medical and therapy appointments. Not easy coming up with tens of thousands of dollars for surgery, or looking for jobs and going through background checks. Not easy losing friends and family, or dealing with a community that doesn't always want you around. Not easy being left out of legislation for the sake of getting laws passed to protect the G and L. And certainly not easy dealing with other people's ignorance and intolerance every step of the way. It was by far, the hardest thing I have done, I lost friends, I lost family. I've experienced hate crime, I've had death threats. I'm certainly not complaining, I'm here, I'm happy and it was all worth it to get to where I am today - and I'd go back and do it all over again. But it was anything but the "easy way out".

It's fine if you choose not to encourage it, or even support it. But you can have your opinions while still respecting other human beings, and preserving not only their dignity, but your own. It is possible to express one's disagreement with a situation and discuss your personal reasons and views without trodding all over someone else's identity. Your disapproval of it is your prerogative, but that doesn't make you in the right. Have whatever personal beliefs you want, and feel free to express them as your OPINION, but please, don't think for one second that the decision to go through transition and the fallout that can come from it is easy. Easy would have been remaining in the gender I was born, keeping my circle of friends intact, keeping my job, my home, and keeping my sense of community. That would have been much EASIER. But I wouldn't have been being true to myself and my soul.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New York State of Mind

Enjoy these AWESOME photos of gay & lesbian couples celebrating their MARRIAGES!!!! They are truly heartwarming - #12 made me cry!

Love is tender, and knows no gender

See The Portraits HERE