Archive for the ‘Trans Experience’ Category

WTF? The Streets Aren’t Any Safer

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

I have been sitting with two pieces of news from the past week, and am still unable to express anything past open hands.

Political progress is happening for transgender people. Here, students are protected in their bathroom use; their, trans people are included in hate crime laws. And yet… change is too slow in the world, on the streets, outside the bars, in the backyards where real life is lived.

CeCe McDonald, a black trans woman, is in a men’s jail, after killing one of the white men who attacked her and some friends, on the street, while out to buy groceries. It’s clearly a case of self-defense. The racism and anti-trans feeling in this case are breathtaking. See the Trans Women’s Anti-Violence project for an article. A men’s jail is a terrifying prospect for any trans person.

Meanwhile, I heard this (un)surprising new statistic; in 2011, the highest percentage of LGBT violence was against trans women of color (here’s a link). My first response was – this is news? Hasn’t anybody been going to or reading about the Transgender Day of Remembrance events? Really?

I wish I could’ve been surprised by this statistic. Or not. I’d like to be surprised by a study showing the incidence of violence against trans people (and all LGBT people) to be on the wane.

Like many other men of transgender experience, I have a sense of helplessness. Who am I even to mention this news? My rage and sadness don’t matter to the women out there. I do what I can, but I am not in my sisters’ shoes.

There is just no adequate response. So… be aware, everyone. We are all just people looking for love, and groceries.

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.

Siblings and Self-Awareness

Monday, November 8th, 2010

The New York Times Magazine has a new article out, When Brother Becomes Sister. Though it is ‘positive,’ as far as its exploration of what it means to be in relationship with a person who comes out as trans, I find myself ambivalent about the piece. And perhaps that is fair, as the writer’s experience is (still) ambivalent, as many folks’ are, in a similar situation.

I am sorta amused by the use of reference to a travel guide book as the parallel ‘story’ in the narrative. It’s classic NYT style, and fine prose… but just so very odd. The book is Jan Morris’s “Venice,” who is transsexual, so that part as parallel makes sense. But the use of actual bits o the travel writing in the current story felt very off to me, like they were mostly about taking up space. A writer certainly has a number of words to fill in any particular assignment.

I also wish that the author had at some point, when seeing her own response to her sibling would be that s/he “be content to stay semi-in-the-closet so he could keep his job teaching music at a Catholic school”.  The lack of self-awareness in some of these statements honestly surprises me, as does the lack of questioning of the school or the mere fact that her sibling would have to be someone other than who she was in order to keep her job.

On the other hand, the ending of the piece is sweet in the author’s interest in “competing” with her sister in terms of makeup and such.

My sister doesn’t talk to me, so I think a little competition sounds nice.

Movie: Beautiful Boxer

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Beautiful Boxer is a beautiful film, from lush foggy mornings to flashing legs in bright shorts in kickboxing arenas. It’s also difficult to watch at times; the utterly solo pain of not being able to be who you are, of how stereotypes are used for money-making, of simple family struggles. This is the story of Parinya Charoenphol, a poor child, a “transvestite” in Thai parlance, who discovers a talent for kickboxing, and goes on to be a champion who revitalizes the sport. The ultimate male sport, done to support hir poor family, and to save for sex reassignment surgery.

The actor who plays adult Parinya is a professional kickboxer! How cool is that? Can you imagine a US fighter who would be willing to play an MTF? I was pretty wow’d by the acting throughout the film, from the little boy who was Parinya as a child monk (hungry for lipstick) to the adult fighter.

What I liked best perhaps was that this movie is about *showing,* not telling. It’s not a talking heads movie, despite the interview wrapper. Strong and lovely film.

Art and Gender

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

My mom sent me a link to a wonderful article about an artist who transitioned, and how her style did not change. I love how the comments express that the artist was always the same person, always created art as her self… she only made her body congruent with that inner self, so her art did not change.

It’s interesting to think that active artists have an inherent understanding of self-expression. That’s a gem I hadn’t seen before.

Thanks Mom!

Pass ENDA Now

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I signed this on behalf of my local group, hosted at the Billy deFrank LGBT Center, the South Bay Transmen.

LGBT and ALLIED Groups call on congress to pass ENDA now

More than 200 Organizations Demand Immediate Action

WASHINGTON, April 21 — Today, the nation’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations, along with allies in the faith, labor and civil rights communities, issued the following statement to members of the United States Congress:

“Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act NOW.”

Equality Federation, Toni Broaddus, Executive Director

Family Equality Council, Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Lee Swislow, Executive Director

Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, President

National Black Justice Coalition, Sharon J. Lettman, Executive Director/CEO

National Center for Lesbian Rights, Kate Kendell, Esq., Executive Director

National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling, Executive Director

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, Rea Carey, Executive Director

National Stonewall Democrats, Michael Mitchell, Executive Director

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays National, Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director

Pride at Work, AFL-CIO, Peggy Shorey, Executive Director

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Selisse Berry, Founding Executive Director

Transgender Law Center, Masen Davis, Executive Director

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Terry Stone, Executive Director

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Shawn Gaylord, Director of Public Policy

A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), Clayola Brown, President

Advocates for Youth, James Wagoner, President

African American Ministers in Action, Rev. Timothy McDonald, Chairman

(more…)

CNN’s “iReporter”s share their key messages

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

CNN invites people to write in about particular experiences; these folks are “iReporters”. They’ve just issued a multi-document piece called ‘I am Trans and I Want My Voice to be Heard‘.

In particular, click through the inset slide show. The diversity and simple human needs of transgender people shines nicely.

Thanks CNN!

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.

What Dysphoria Feels Like

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I saw this wonderful video on the Bilerico Report.