Momentarily Overwhelmed…

Constance:

I just want to let my WordPress friends know how deeply touched I am to have crossed paths with you, and how much the richer I am for that nexus.  But there are a few in particular, and I think you know who you are, who have just given me things that you do not even realize.

How to talk about a life in the midst of crowds, in the throng and people around and wanting, needing…a life that looked full and busy and complete and populated well by human friends…and yet was empty, austere, colorless and arduous and looming large until death day, release day…Hope Day…

And now…the same people on the outside, getting the food I make (literally and spiritually), and yet bursts and blossoms and riots of color and fragrance and happy giddy joy underlain by deep abiding grateful tears and solid singing spiritual celebration…and some friends!

It is strange to me that in many ways if you read here regularly, you know me better than almost everyone else who knows of me!  🙂

And that overwhelms me…I was just sitting here…looking at your profile pics, and knowing your blogs, your writings and thoughts, and imagining your valleys and hills and gardens…and the tears just welled up.

Thank you!  Truly thank you…you know who you are!

May my Mama, the Lady Grace known to most as Holy Spirit, and Jesus the Merciful Risen Lamb, and the Father of Lights from whom every good and perfect gift comes, bless you this day…keep you safe from things you will never know of, and preserve your feet in the paths of delight and truth…and may you know the Goodness of God in the Land of the Living.

I love you one and all, and will see you on that day!

Love,

Charissa Grace, the grateful and glad gleam of my Lady Grace, my mama!

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Janet Mock is an Amazing Woman

She is such a role model for me…she has truly transitioned.  What do I mean by that?  It seems to me that so many transwomen get lost in transition, and are actually a bit too fearful to ever really internalize for their own identity the fact that they truly are women and have made their way into the body they desire.  There is still life to be lived post transition!  There is a walk to be walked, there is a life to be lived, and a destiny to be actualized.

This is what I have been trying to sow into my own heart and spirit as each day passes.  Well, Janet inspires me sooo hugely!  She has really lived with courage and strength and yet with tenderness and vulnerability as well.  She is smart, cogent, beautiful and amazing.  She speaks well for us, and for anyone who wishes to learn about the experience of being a transwoman, read her amazing writing and learn.  I do each and every time I read.

Thanks Janet!

Love,

Charissa

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I’M A TRANS WOMAN, BUT PLEASE STOP ASKING ME ABOUT MY GENITALIA

Author and advocate Janet Mock breaks down Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera’s appearance on Katie Couric’s talk show

By Janet Mock

Society, Career & Power

January 9, 2014

Aaron Tredwell

I don’t talk about my kitty cat with my friends. It never seems to come up when we’re gabbing about The Real Housewives or gagging over Beyonce’s “Partition” music video. But I—an unapologetic trans woman and writer—have been asked about my vagina (by people I do not know, mind you) more times than I can even recall.

Outrageously, trans people’s bodies have been open for public dissection since 1952 when Christine Jorgensen became the media’s first sex change darling, and in the 60 years since Jorgensen’s headline-making path to womanhood, journalists from Barbara Walters to Katie Couric are still asking the same tired questions about our bodies.

Related: Meet the Women of ‘Orange Is the New Black’

It’s stunning that legendary women have found themselves asking other women about their genitalia—in public. As I write in my upcoming memoir, Redefining Realness“Undergoing hormone therapy and genital reconstruction surgery are the titillating details that cisgender people love to hear.” (For the uninitiated, cisgender is nomenclature for those who are not trans, and therefore less likely to experience the misalignment of their gender identity and assigned sex at birth.) But these are “deeply personal steps I took to become closer to me, and I choose to share them.”

It’s about choice. We, as women, have the choice to invite people into our lives, into our struggles, and into our bodies. Consent is key here, and on Monday, model Carmen Carrera and Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox wielded their agency during a joint appearance on Katie, the ABC daytime TV talk show hosted by Katie Couric, who posed the genitalia question–twice.

When Carrera was asked, “Your private parts are different now, aren’t they?” her response was simple: she shushed Couric on her own show. Like a bawse.

“I don’t want to talk about it; it’s really personal,” Carrera said, visibly and rightly uncomfortable by Couric’s gaze. “I’d rather talk about my modeling…There’s more to trans people than just [genitalia].”

What was interesting to me in this moment was that Carrera laid claim to her body. She’s danced in pasties in clubs across the country, on our TV screens in RuPaul’s Drag Race, and in two W magazine shoots with photographer Steven Meisel—but don’t get it twisted: Her body is not ours to dissect.

Related: ELLE Canada Features Transgendered Miss Universe Contestant Jenna Talackova

Couric backpedaled, stating that her question was not in vain, that it was more than just “peering interest,” yet she posed the same question to Cox when she took her seat beside Carrera in a glowing BCBG Max Azria sheath. Couric told Cox that Carrera “recoiled a little bit” at the “genitalia question” and that she wondered if she had “the same feeling about that as Carmen does.”

“I do,” Cox said, backing Carrera up. “I was so proud of Carmen for saying that…the preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people and then we don’t get to really deal with the lived experiences, the reality of trans people’s lives.”

Cox then broke it down for the journalist, serving Couric facts for days: Trans people face discrimination everywhere, from employment to the streets, where trans women, specifically those of color, disproportionately face brutal violence (Cox mentions the murder of Islan Nettles in New York City, giving the tragedy its highest media profile to date). The actress concludes by saying that our culture’s focus on bodies doesn’t allow us to zero in on trans people’s “lived realities of that oppression and that discrimination.”

And that was the moment in which, Couric, a TV veteran, had to “bow down” to the magnificence of Cox, leaving her with this throwaway statement: “You’re so well spoken about it.”

Let’s be clear though: This story is larger than Couric; it’s about our culture and its dehumanization of trans people’s bodies and identities. Because trans people are marked as artificial, unnatural, and illegitimate, our bodies and identities are often open to public dissection. Plainly, cisgender folks often take it as their duty to investigate our lives to see if we’re real.

Curiosity is vital to the growth of our society. It allows us to stretch our minds and learn more, which I truly believe was Couric’s intention: to educate her viewers. But curiosity and mere mystery objectifies and others those that are being gazed upon, pushing our most marginalized peers to defend their right to exist without the pervasive violation of the dehumanizing gaze of curiosity.

The real takeaway from this Katie appearance is the transformative power of solidarity and sisterhood, as exhibited by two successful women—two trans women, two women of color—at the top of their game. As Cornel West, someone Cox often quotes, said, “Justice is what love looks like in public,” and these two women loved one another in public.

Carrera and Cox applauded one another, gushing about how proud they are of the others’ success and how their various achievements help elevate the public’s perception of what’s possible for trans women. And it was this public showing ofsolidarity that actually flipped the media’s tired genitalia script when it comes to women and girls like us.

When Couric re-posed the question to Cox, even after being shut down by Carrera, to me, it seemed that the TV host was trying to pit the women against one another; instead, Cox said, she was “proud” of Carrera for not answering the question. It was like glorious choreography—again, I’m referencing Beyonce’s “Partition,” in which two women dance in unison against the ropes, moving together as a leopard-print spotlight silhouettes their bodies. Carrera and Cox are equals, partners, a team, and they produce something revolutionary: a new possibility for trans women.

And it’s a possibility model for us all.

Janet Mock is a writer and advocate, whose book Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More will be released February 4 by Atria Books. For more info visit JanetMock.com.

Read more: Janet Mock ‘Redefining Realness’ – Empowerment for Transgender Women – ELLE
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Read more: Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera – News Treatment of Trans Women – ELLE
Follow us: @ElleMagazine on Twitter | ellemagazine on Facebook
Visit us at ELLE.com