Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

In the middle of the road

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s birthday extravaganza, a gathering in a lovely outdoor hot tub setting.

After a time, I wandered off by myself to spend some time in the sauna. This turned out to be a wonderful open, wooden room, with little stairs up to platforms, and lower areas for those who didn’t want as much heat. There was one other man in the place.I climbed the little stairs opposite of him, bending over to avoid hitting my head on the ceiling, then sitting down.

I settled into a simple meditation pose, enjoying the fragrant, quiet, hot space. After a couple of minutes, the man asked, “May I speak to you from the heart?” The sauna is a nonspeaking zone, so I was fairly surprised, but he sounded sincere, so I agreed.

Did I mention he was gorgeous? That combination of physical magnificence and verbal sincerity was intriguing.

“I want to thank you for being you,” he said, and went on briefly in that vein, very open hearted. It took me a minute to reply with a “Thank you,” also admitting it was “interesting” to be in that space (as with most California hot tub locales, it was a clothing optional facility, and like everyone else, I had opted not to wear a swimsuit. It was perhaps more of an issue for me than some folks).

We returned to silence after than, and a minute or two later, he left.

In that pause, before I responded with permission to speak, and again in the one after he did talk, a lot of thoughts raced through my head. Why speak? Because I was trans of course; visibly different than the other men in the space. Did I really want to hear what he had to say? And then, how do I respond? Being ‘special’ was a mixed moment.

And after the brief chat… as a man, I do have a powerful, good feeling response when a cisgender man gives me positive, respectful appreciation.

And yet…

My sweetie put it well, when I told her story. “Why can’t my sweetie just meditate? Why does he have to be interrupted?”

This interaction shows how far trans people have come, in being accepted in the U.S. And how very far we have to go.

Conference on Earth-Based Spiritualities & Gender

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

I’m happy to have been accepted as a presenter at the upcoming Bay Area conference on the intersection of pagan and transgender issues on 9/24/11. Check it out.

The only problem with the conferences is there are so many conflicting panels I’d like to attend! P. Sufenas Virius Lupus and T. Thorn Coyle and…

See http://genderandpaganismconference.eventbrite.com/ to register or see the full schedule.

NCTE offers new Medicare resource

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The National Center for Transgender Equality has a blog as well as their main website. The blog right now features a new downloadable pamphlet, *Medicare Benefits and Transgender People,* at http://transgenderequality.wordpress.com/. It includes practical information such as dealing with names and claim denials. NCTE is such a force for good!

TSA Incident Reports

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

It hasn’t been a lot of fun to travel via air for some years now, but the new Transportation Security Administration policies around the use of backscatter imaging or the invasive pat down alternative, are making me think hard about such travel at all. Of course, my sweetie is among the many traveling for work.

There is reason for medical concern about the backscatter x-ray machines. There is a lot of reason to object to invasive pat downs, including the religious and civil rights to not have one’s personal space invaded. For trans people, both the machines, possibly showing genitalia, and the pat downs, where the agent might not find the expected anatomy,  are hugely negative and likely leading to outing in a very vulnerable, powerless situation (in line at the airport). A lot of good information is out there on the issue if you google for it.

The best thing to do if one must fly under these circumstances is to be polite and confident, whichever choice you make. If untoward behavior occurs, you do have recourse; report the incident to the TSA, the airport, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The details follow.

Good luck traveling this Thanksgiving weekend!

EPIC incident reporter for TSA screenings

Posted by: “John Otto”

Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:10 pm (PST)

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has set up a web-based, incident report form for experiences with TSA screenings. I think this is an excellent way to help improve the situation, and encourage anyone who has had an incident to report it. For those unfamiliar with EPIC, they are one of the leading players in advocating for privacy protections.

http://epic.org/bodyscanner/incident_report/

A heads up about the form, however. Unfortunately, for the gender reporting, the form requests selecting male, female, or transgender. I am opposed to forcing transgender people to choose between reporting their transgender status and their gender. However, in this case, since transgender people (whether FTM or MTF) face even more challenges from the TSA screenings than non-trans people, I think it is especially important to get beyond this and to report one’s transgender status on this form. For all transpeople, whether men or women, I encourage you to please select “Transgender” in this instance.

Please help spread the word about this TSA incident reporting form. Feel free to forward my email.

John Otto

PS – I encourage ANYONE and EVERYONE to use this reporting tool, transgender or not. Protecting privacy and our civil liberties helps everyone.

Suicide is preventable.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Last week was the annual Suicide Prevention Week. Unhappily, every week must be trans suicide prevention week, as we kill ourselves more often – and especially we do as teens – than even other LGBT people. But we also can look out for each other.
If you’re feeling suicidal, or are afraid you know someone who is, check out the National Center for Transgender Equality’s new resource, at http://transequality.org/PDFs/NCTE_Suicide_Prevention.pdf.

It’s been forever since I posted; I’ve moved and more, but this needs signal boosting.

Changes Comes to the Leather Community

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

I was surprised to receive a text from a friend attending the International Mr. Leather contest over Memorial Day Weekend. A transgender man had just won the title. This is *the* biggest popular award in the men’s leather community.

What surprised me was… my own disbelief. That IML judges would select a trans man, that it would be possible not just in my lifetime, but today. I was as taken by surprise as anyone, and this is an area I have done a bit of activist work in.

Leather isn’t to everyone’s taste by any means. But it is one more subculture which is stretching to adapt to the growing *visible* participation of transgendered people.

If it can happen here, it can happen any where. That is exciting.

And also point to where I can do a bit more personal work. !

Best wishes, Tyler, IML 2010!

National LGBT Health Awareness Week is Now

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

3/28-4/3/10 is National LGBT Health Awareness Week! A lot of things fit under this umbrella; the ongoing need for trans people to receive health care (I was going to add words like ‘fair’ and ‘adequate’, and realized we don’t need no darn modifiers), which means advocacy in the health care system and education of health care providers, and things like getting one’s HIV test.

It also means getting yearly exams, regardless of the state of your genitals. Get a prostate or cervix exam if you need it. A wise FTM doctor friend once told me he LIKED going for his yearly exam; his presence shook up expectations. I can get behind that. Maybe you can, too.

Launching the new D.B. WordPress site

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

And we’re off and running! Real content to appear soon…