23 June, 2009

and again.

thank you to my dear friend who shared this poem with me. i am constantly reminded of it and reflect on its words often...i've posted it once quite a while ago, but thought i would post it again.

once a young woman asked me,
"how does it feel to be a man?"
and i replied,
"my dear, i am not so sure."
then she said,
"well, aren't you a man?"
and this time i replied,
"i view gender as a beautiful
animal that people often take for
a walk on a leash and might
enter in some odd contest
to try to win strange prizes."
my dear, a better question
for Hafiz would have been,
"how does it feel to be a heart?"
for all i know is love and
i find my heart infinite and everywhere
-Hafiz, Sufi mystic, 1320 - 1389

to my readers, if you so boldly choose to comment:
-has anyone ever asked you a similar question (how does it feel to be a man/woman?)? and how did you reply?
-what are your thoughts on Hafiz's response? do you agree or disagree with him - why?

thanks for reading and commenting. peace.

21 June, 2009

trans visibility

thank you to the woman - i'm sorry your name escapes me at the moment - who works at the co-op for saying something to me about my blog!

i've been thinking a lot about my own visibility as a trans person lately. i really have a very faint idea of how out i am in my town, although feel that i am probably more out than i am aware of because i am in town and in the public eye more often.

this all seems to be a double-edged sword to me. i think being visible as a trans person is important in order to spread understanding and acceptance and rid of misconceptions and biases - discussions, conversations, workshops, questions must be had. however at the same time, what if you live in a place where you cannot be out, where you cannot be open about your trans identity (personal safety and privacy issues)? would you want to live in a place where you could not be out? would you feel safe in this place? i do worry about my safety and worry that something may happen to me for the mere fact that i am trans, though this fear does not keep me from being an activist and advocate.

of course i am going on the assumption that if one could be out that they would. however there are people who choose to not be out as trans people, who do not want their trans identity known, who just want to be seen as who they are and not necessarily as trans. being stealth vs. being out is a hot topic in the trans community and is a decision that each individual makes based on a variety of factors (health, safety, privacy, etc....). i think it is important to respect each person's decision on whether or not he/she decides to be stealth because each individual knows what is best for his/her own personal health and safety. in the same breath, if we as trans people remain hidden how can we spread knowledge and understanding? i think one can still be an activist and advocate even if they are not out - but what message is this spreading to the public? and how is information about trans issues received if it is not necessarily from a trans person?

so to my readers...
-what are your thoughts on trans visibility?
-how can trans people find a balance between their wants and needs of both their private and public lives?
-what message does being stealth send to the public/non-trans people?
-how is information about trans issues received if it is not necessarily from a trans person?


18 June, 2009

our voices will not be silenced

i'm trying my best to update more often...

recently in the news - sonny and cher's child is transitioning from female to male (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/06/11/ent.chastity.bono/index.html). i wish him the best of luck with his transition. i hope the media's attention to his transition will allow the public to gain a better understanding of trans people. although the media may also portray this in a negative light - at the very least i hope he's able to remain as private as he desires with his life and transition. here's a commentary on the story by jamison green (trans educator and author) (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/US/06/12/chastity.bono/index.html).

glbtqi (gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer, intersexed...i'm sure i'm missing letters here) discrimination seems to be increasing - seems odd to say that something like discrimination is quantifiable, but according to recent statistics killings of glbtqi people have increased 28% since 1999. check out the article here. these statistics completely disgust me. it makes me sick to see that people will kill because they do not understand. there is more visibility for the glbtqi community these days, though as the article suggests, with more visibility comes backlash. visibility. backlash. visibility. backlash. ignorance = fear = hate = violence.

my familial "support" has been taking up a lot of my energy lately. while i am seeing growth in my siblings' acceptance and understanding, my parents' growth has seem to have come or gradually come to stop. the past year and a half has been very difficult with them - i've tried my best to remain open with them about my transition, however i am most always the one initiating discussions regarding my transition or trans issues, getting them reading material and dvds, etc...they seems to be everything but proactive. though i cannot say i have terrible parents because at the very least i still have parents and they are decent human beings - in the same breath it is incredibly difficult and painful to have people you love and trust and hold close to you who simply do not support you through a significant change.

i feel completely invisible to them.

they are refusing to see me for who i want to be seen as. while they do have 22 years of history with my old self, they are refusing to accept the universal truth that things change (granted this is quite the change...)...things still change, life is about change(s) - what would it be without it? with all of this i have experienced their disrespect, transphobia, fears, anger, discomfort...they want me to keep quiet, keep me in the closet (i'm already out...how can i go back in...??), keep the perfect, middle-class, white suburbia, white picket fence image of a family, keep the perfect image of their child, and keep the perfect image of what is male and what is female. this is bullshit. complete bullshit. i am all too tired of this fight. i will no longer be silenced or hidden. this is me being honest with myself for the first time in 22 years - the authenticity is not stopping. not now. not ever.

'first they came for the jews and i did not speak out -
because i was not a jew.

then they came for the communists and i did not speak out -
because i was not a communist.

then they came for the trade unionists and i did not speak out -
because i was not a trade unionist.

then they came for me -
and there was no one left to speak out for me. '
-pastor niemoeller (victim of the nazis)


03 June, 2009


I was in some awkward social situations this weekend and thought I'd post a little something about trans-etiquette...

Pronouns: Using the preferred pronoun for a trans person is a must – it shows acceptance and respect. It is generally okay to ask a trans person, respectfully, what pronouns he/she uses if it’s not obvious. People are normally very appreciative of this gesture. The standard rule is to use the pronoun of the gender the person is presenting (how they appear to be dressing).

Pronoun Slips: Everyone slips up. Though, these mistakes can be handled easily. If the wrong name or pronoun slips out when speaking one-on-one with a trans person, the best response is usually: “I’m sorry. I’m meant (pronoun/name).” Then move on. When in the company of others, especially those who don’t know that the person is trans, it is best to let the mistake go and use the correct pronoun/name then next time it arises. Most people won’t notice a slip up in a large group, though drawing attention to the mistake can make things worse. Continuous apologies are uncomfortable for everyone and make the trans person the center of attention.

Drawing Attention: Perchance you are doing business or interacting with a stranger who appears to be trans and you’d like to express your support for their trans identity. The most supportive thing you can do is nothing at all. Like stated previously drawing attention to a certain situation can make things uncomfortable. If the person is obviously trans, he/she is usually aware that it’s obvious to others and will appreciate the signs of respect and acceptance that go with a normal interaction.

Forbidden Question #1: NEVER ask a trans person this question: “Have you had the operation?” The question is synonymous with “Are you done?” Both of these assume an incompleteness, a partial human being. There is no such thing as the operation; trans people all evolve differently, some going through operations and others never desiring any. This question many times is also a reference to genital surgery. If this is something one wants to know, the question needs to be asked directly. The person asking also needs to consider whether he or she would ask a non-trans person about genitalia in the same situation.

Forbidden Question #2: NEVER ask a trans person this question: “Why did you do it?” This question assumes that there are a multitude of reasons (why they transitioned) that have nothing to do with gender incongruity, or that the trans person thought that living as the opposite sex would be fun or interesting. Trans people transition because they need to resolve gender issues that have no other resolution. The majority of trans people transition because they will otherwise die or live such a miserable life that it would be like death. Trans people transition to live.