NCTE offers new Medicare resource

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 It includes practical information such as dealing with names and claim denials. NCTE is such a force for good!

“Anti-Sissy” Therapy

June 23rd, 2011

Sometimes people ask white gay and trans issues are linked together. The answer: gender expression underlies both.

Transgender Day of Visibility March 31

March 1st, 2011

I am so psyched! This, as far as I know, is the third year the Transgender Day of Visibility is being celebrated, and I’ve got an event for the first time! The TDOV is a balance to the vital and solemn Transgender Day of Remembrance. This spring, share and discover the lives of transgender people right now! Art, dance, conversation.

If you’re in the CA South Bay Area, I hope you’ll join me and my friends for a TDOV celebration at the Billy deFrank LGBT Community Center. It’s gonna be great fun, and an opportunity for real conversation in the LGBT community.

San Jose Trans Day of Visibility Invite

San Jose Trans Day of Visibility Invite

Entering the pink room

January 14th, 2011

Last night, I stepped into foreign territory.

Carla’s is a ’boutique,’ a place of refuge, camaraderie, and shopping opportunities for trans women and crossdressing men. I learned of ‘locker girls,’ people who rent a locker, where they store their female paraphernalia. They have full 24 hour access. Imagine when the only gender or erotic relief you can get is to steal away in the night and put your proper clothes on, where no one can see.
Of course, many of the locker girls do gather socially, along with the women; there are brunches and dinners and parties for all of Carla’s patrons. I got a tour of the place, stepping into the boutique I’d only heard of. It really was ‘new’ territory.
Carla’s belongs to Aejaie (along with her husband), a woman  whom I initially meant when she was director at the deFrank Center.  Last night, it was a pleasure to get to know her better. For us both to smile and laugh and share stories.
One story I shared was how when I was initially learning how to do make-up (having been convinced by my well-meaning mom and best friend), I stabbed myself in the eye, using a toothpick to deal with a clump of mascara. Everyone laughed hysterically. But the best moment came when Aejaie said “Only a guy would use a toothpick to deal with a clump of mascara!” and we all dissolved in laughter again.
For some reason, that was awesome; it validated my teenage female self who was trying like a trooper to Fit In, and who, on messing up, showed yet again, his inner maleness.

TSA Incident Reports

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.

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.

Siblings and Self-Awareness

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.

October is LGBT History Month

September 22nd, 2010

This history site is pretty cool; every day there’s a new ‘icon’ (historical figure). It’s fun exploring the names; nice to see Mara Keisling right up there! She rocks. I took a workshop or two from her at a trans leadership conference a couple of years ago, and see her in the media regularly.

Movie: Beautiful Boxer

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.

Suicide is preventable.

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

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

Changes Comes to the Leather Community

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!