Feast Upon The Village Green

I am the nest from which the great blue heron springs.
I am the stones upon which stinging ice-churned runnel sings.
And there, those fires hot from which the Phoenix rare takes wings.
I am embers, scintillating coals, and living, giving hot and feeding.

They said I was a pale heretic and laid me down to rest,
outside the white-washed churchyard walls, outside the ruddy fold.
So I just let my hot blood flow, rich-red to feed their grass,
upon that emerald sward where they did murder me so cold.
And I do let my bones peek from beneath the curtain of my skin
and thus do I me nourish for every living thing herein
with my authentic self and my unconquerable song,
my passion unquenchable and my me a sacred throng

of birth from death and life lept up in winds, in rain and dew
I am nest, stone and embers singing always clear for you.
and thus it is unholy ground is clean, hallowed once more,
and every living thing eat, drink in ever opened door
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Posting A Very Sobering Reflection

All…this is a post from a tumblr blog I follow, not my own writing, but her concluding question echoes many things I have written about, namely that all the “Remember the Dead Trans-girls” rallies change absolutely nothing.

We don’t want to be remembered.
We want to live…be fruitful and share life.

I don’t want you to say my name when I am killed…I want to say my own name in the zest of life!  Without fear of attack, policing, othering or rejection simply for being born.

I echo Jen’s question:  since last weekend’s events, what has changed?

PS:  Language alert!  If you are offended or defiled by scatalogical language, proceed with caution!  F-bombs and other such things are in evidence!

Maybe if…

smartassjen:

Maybe….maybe if every man who has ever hired a trans escort, if every boy who has ever beat off to trans porn, if all the guys I and thousands of others have hooked up with via Craig’s List, if the millions who fetishize our bodies, who enjoy us on our knees in bathrooms, who press us against hotel windows, who lay with us in our beds, if the men who adore me and my sisters, but only behind closed doors, would STAND THE FUCK UP AND SPEAK OUT…maybe 21 year old women just enjoying an evening out with friends wouldn’t be beat to death.

Maybe if all of you who read this, our allies and friends and colleagues and family, would call out when others make jokes at our expense, even when we’re not around, if you’d tell advertisers and producers and journalists and writers and comics that you’re not okay with them making trans women nothing but the punchline of jokes or tragic tossaways, that you know us, that we’re not disposable….maybe groups of people would stop feeling so free to harass me and my sisters, maybe crowds wouldn’t just laugh when a man spits at me, or just watch when two young men chase me down the street yelling “shemale”…maybe if you ALL stood up and said enough, maybe a young woman just being herself wouldn’t be beat to death in the streets of the supposedly best place on earth to just be yourself.
Maybe if all the gay men who act as if equality means marriage, if all the white feminists who only serve those that look like them, if all the queers who drop “TWOC” like a shibboleth but don’t know or talk to or walk beside any actual trans women of color…maybe if all of you saw what was happening here and how your actions allow it, how every moment of silence, of waiting for people of color to start the conversation about race …maybe this child could have enjoyed a few more years of being beautiful among us.

A 21 year old was beat to death in our streets. It happened because she is a woman, and of color, and transgender. It happened because our men won’t admit they love us, because our friends aren’t speaking out against the thousand little dehumanizing actions of others, because our own “LGBT” community isn’t comfortable talking about race and class.

This has to change. Now.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130822/central-harlem/transgender-woman-dies-after-savage-beating-cops-say#video_modal_13772731841756

I wrote this two years ago.

What’s changed?

Extremely Powerful Thinking: On Femininity and the Patriarchy

Constance…please read thru the sections I am sharing below.  Read it slow and let it sink in.

This is my life.  I am living these sentences (word chosen to echo and double back on itself, those with eyes let them see).

Consider the way that my sentences being served also impact you…and the way that yours can set me free, if you will but begin to speak them.

Just read up on the Bell Hooks-Laverne Cox talk, thought it was really uncool (and unfemininist) of Hooks to chide Cox for her presentation.

I mean yeah, I get that for (feminist) cis women, femininity can start to feel constricting after a while, but trans women have a very different relationship with it. Patriarchy wants AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) people to be feminine, it does not want AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth) people to be feminine.

For a person that was assigned male at birth, it absolutely can be revolutionary to embrace femininity. It is anathema to patriarchy for AMAB people to embrace femininity, why else do you think trans women get any and all femininity beaten out of them for the first part of their lives?

Besides, cis women had all their lives to try it out and grow tired of it. How many cis women haven’t smeared their mum’s lipstick all over their face as a little girl? At least have a heart and give us some time to experiment with femininity, you were given that time while you were growing up and I don’t see you high-n-mighty feminists going after teenage cis girls for it.

I would like to expand on this, and say that the patriarchy derides and punishes femininity in general. That’s why men who like female-coded activities are mocked. that’s why “girly-girls” are derided as shallow or high-maintenance.

But with trans women, expressing femininity is particularly revolutionary because it isn’t just about social conditioning–it’s a complete rejection of masculinity as the “valuable option.”

Many women–trans and cis–find value in femininity, but when cis women embrace it, everyone assumes it’s because it is expected and because that’s how they were trained. It isn’t considered unusual, because society insists that’s the punishment you get for being a woman, and if you’re very good you’ll reject that and try to act more like your “betters.”

But trans women are offered masculinity on a platter–it’s assumed to be our birthright–and we reject it. More accurately, like most people we reject parts of it. We’re proof that masculinity isn’t inherently valuable or precious–it’s just another thing.

And of course, patriarchal ideals double down on us for that. Our punishment for embracing the feminine and not being “rightly” ashamed of it is to be chained by it, and punished for any infraction. Male-coded interests are “proof” that we’re faking it.

Not appearing feminine enough is grounds for firing or banning us from homes (or from the lives of our own relatives). Expressing anger or standing up for ourselves is interpreted–even by self-proclaimed feminists–as our being aggressive and “really” men.

And revealing anything about our genitals is literally grounds for execution.

People hunt down the tiniest nuances–our shoulders, our voices, or hobbies, or age–and use the smallest infraction against gender norms to completely invalidate our statement that masculinity isn’t precious at all. This despite the fact that trans women, like everyone, aren’t inherantly “pure women” or “pure men” any more than any cis person–we’re mixes of social messages and biological impulses, some accepted some rejected, that go into forming a complex human being.

Trans women highlight that there’s no superior gender or gendered form of expression, and that pisses people off.

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Judith Butler on gender and the trans experience

Judith Butler on gender and the trans experience

Constance, Judith Butler is a very important voice in the rethinking of gender and gender roles, and as such is worth spending some time exploring.

This article is a good introduction, so I am posting it for your opportunity.

No Protest In Philly!!

OMG Constance!!  Did you hear about the massive protests and riots going on in Philadelphia because of the death of a woman of color???

Yeah…neither did I.

After all…she was only a woman.

A woman of color.

Oh…and she was trans.

Just another piece of trash collected for the patriarchy.  http://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/transgender-woman-stabbed-to-death-in-philadelphia?utm_term=.yfzwq8GpK#.pnOnBKk8L tumblr_no7mu5zPsO1rebxsto1_1280

But while I am on the topic of killing transwomen?  If you slur me with your words…if you other me with your actions…if you lie to yourself about who I am…if you call me “engenderer”, “mask”, “monster”, “other” (a literal “othering”)…

…you do not get to call yourself a trans-advocate.

Words hurt, wound irrevokably…but silence slays the heart.tumblr_mvieqh54sY1qj5oxwo1_1280

Me and My Cat-Hair

Me and my Cat-Hair go where we want!
Well, my Cat-hair does, anyway.
I just trail frantically, pulled right along
as it wanders and pries and looks into burrows
and lays in the sun and just licks its soft paws
with no care in the world but those mice!

Sometimes it looks really cool, and just perfect!
Purring there, cooing and wanting the touch
of a hand that will smooth its sleek soft furry pelt
and some fingers so friendly with their gentle skritch
skritch skritch and then a flat palm to do obeisance.

But then there are times when my Cat-hair just hisses!
Its eyes glowing green and just brimming with daggers
and it jumps akimbo and arches its back
and it dares me, just dares me to try to address it
with anything less than a rake and a hoe
and better get ready to wrestle a she-devil
scratches for skritches and clawings for pettings!!
Image result for cat clawing arm
My Cat-hair and me are sometimes called names
and sometimes called other and sometimes called mask
and sometimes called liar and sometimes called nothing
and that’s when my Cat-hair sits silent, tail lashing
and eyes focused into the void that is lurking
inside the accusers who say they hate cats
when what they really mean is that they just hate me…
Image result for cat being petted
well, Cat-hair is there, and I cannot do anything
to make it dog-hair or human or cow-hair
or sheep-hair or anything else that would walk
off the Ark on that day when the floodwaters drained
and the animals rambled in freedom again.

so I guess I will just go with Cat-hair, just sitting there
being itself, just my Cat-hair and me.

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Re-Posting Nicole Mott on Bruce Jenner

Constance, here is a post from a Facebook friend concerning Bruce Jenner.  While the opinions about Jenner as a person are hers, the concerns/facts about that vast majority of transgender people are quite real, and she so articulately expressed them.

Thanks, Nikki!  Your words RAWK!

So, Bruce Jenner.

I am so tired of hearing this person’s name. So sick and tired of it…

There’s been this stuff swirling around across what I’ve dubbed, the “Transphere” concerning idols, and all of that…what a crock…

Let me first state that being trans is NOT who you are. It is a PART of who you are like having brown eyes, or green skin (I dunno, maybe you do?). A lot of people choose to make it central to who they are as people, and that’s fine…you know what? Those people can do whatever they want to do, but it STOPS there, with them. I’m not in that box.

When someone sees me, I don’t want the light bulb to go off, “Trans.” in the same way someone else you might see triggers something else. When this happens, we surrender our person hood, in exchange for an issue. We are no longer people, but instead representatives of an issue. Try doing that, and having a meaningful existence…I dare you.

I am me. My life experience has taught me that while being trans may be a permanent part of who I am, and always was, it does NOT define me, and even if it did, that definition it yields for me is vastly different from that of another person who is trans.

When most lay people hear the term, “Transgender” they tend to think it means someone like me, for example, someone just like me.

“Oh, I knew someone who became a guy. That’s cool!”

or,

“Yeah I have a friend who became a girl, he’s still my best friend!” (Obvious gender pronoun errors, because who their friend is, and identifies as isn’t important to you, only what they mean (or meant) to you. Grats on being selfish, and inconsiderate or someone’s inherent self-worth and dignity.

In both of these examples, what’s happened is that people think that transgender means one thing, and my oh my, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I will say this now, and I seldom ever just post it on my wall, but I was diagnosed with transsexualism, and that was treated under the care of a team of doctors via gender transition everything ranging from Hormones to Surgeries. My lived experiences are absolutely NOTHING like this person’s.

My personal feelings on this “Bruce Jenner” crap comes from a place of protectiveness. I am sick of this story getting air time, and these well-to-do 1%’s feeding their lusts for attention. This isn’t a game!!! People get hurt because of the attitudes propagated by this garbage….and that is EXACTLY what this is.

My protectiveness comes from the suffering of people who are trans. The people who deal with the shit from ground zero EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. We have the highest suicide attempt rate IN THE WORLD with almost ONE in every TWO people attempting. Then you have this person creating a circus of non-sense giving Cis people and others who have no idea what Trans is, so much ammo to continue the abuses, the bullying, the murders, the legally oppressive laws for us to go about our daily lives.

I AM SICK of it.

What’s more important to mention here, and I did hit on this on a previous post on a friend’s wall, is that as a “community” there really is no “trans” community, but more of a loose grouping of people defending human rights, specifically gender identity and expression. We can not agree on anything at all concerning who or what is trans, what that means or doesn’t mean…possibly because there is no categorical way to classify the breadth and scope of the human experience.

Fact is: We are all people, and gender identity and expression, while an innate part of who we are, is not the defining characteristic of who we are…but a smaller component of a much larger entity.

Get this crap out of the media already. There’s no doubt going to be a negative impact because of it, and I can see it all over our local news station’s Facebook pages.

I do not like this person being in the news, and I think it serves to do more harm than good. Most of my posts are usually much more supportive than this, but we’ve seen too many train wrecks with public figures, and I just don’t want, nor do I care to see social attitudes decline and make life more difficult for every day people like those on my friend’s list.

I feel the same way about this, that I do when someone with Autism commits a murder, and they try to lump all people who are autistic into the murderer categories.

Bruce Jenner is NOT an idol, and needs to go away. ASAP.

/rant_over

Now, I’m going tend to my garden. Have a blessed day heart emoticon

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“Who Are We To Judge…”

Constance, I likely will not post an awful lot about the Jenner Transition Announcement until she gets further underway.

I totally, utterly get where she is at right now.  She is thinking things about how she is not that worried about pronouns, and how she is willing to overlook the othering and policing that is going on right now, yadda yadda yadda…she feels a responsibility to other transgender people to effect a graceful transition with dignity.

But deep down inside…all those things are hurting her, affecting her, wounding her.  She doesn’t need me adding to the cacophony of noise surrounding her (and all of that exacerbated because of the family dynamics she married into). Eventually, she will begin to find her bearings and her voice, or if she already has, she will begin to express it in her own unique ways.

But I will be commenting on things that orbit her transition, things that are revealed and illuminated as a result of her decision, and here is one of them:

On my Facebook page, a friend linked to an article about her transition.  That article is here:

Bruce Jenner’s declaration creates an opportunity

What was telling was in the comments on the Facebook post, all generally very supportive, but one stood out to me.  It simply said “Who are we to judge…”

“Who are we to judge…”

Constance, do you see why that comment jumped out at me?  Yes?  Jot down your thoughts about it…or No?  No you do not see anything odd about that comment in relation to gender identity?

Well, Cis-Constance, imagine yourself being introduced to someone, and them very kindly and sagely assessing you and then saying to you and everyone “Who are we to judge…” and then shrugging as if to say “to each their own”…

 

as if your gender identity is something that is up for judgement in the first place!

as if your gender identity is an article of clothing that you simply decided to wear that day.

as if your gender identity was a moral choice you made or make.

Gender orientation is put into the same classification as sexual orientation and then judged as a moral choice, and this is simply incorrect and unfair.

There is orientation that is a given…and then there are behaviors that descend from choices that we make as creatures who are moral creatures and subject to moral constraints as determined by God and current cultural climate (and those are rarely congruent, btw)…the behaviors themselves are what I choose to do…but the orientation is who I was born to be.

Orientation is not moral behavior.  It is simply the given baseline.

You as a cis-gender person are never subjected to the statement “Oh…you say you are a (fill in your biological chromosomal state).  I see.  Well, who am I to judge?”

And that, Constance, is the very epitome of cis-gender privilege!

Don’t get me wrong…I love the compassion that is at root behind the commenter’s post…but gender orientation is not a matter subject to judgement any more than race is, or that there is a brain in a skull, or that there are arms and legs on a human.

The deep underlying ignorance that is being exposed in the light of gender-education right now is the notion that gender-variance is a moral issue!  The deep presupposition fostered in our binary is that any person who is cross-gendered is by definition subject to moral assessment should they decide to authentically live out who they are in spite of the external casing they are housed in!!

Do you see this?

The commenter is correct:  we are not the judge of one another and should not judge one another.  But the issue that she applied this moral principle speaks volumes of how far we have to go yet as a culture, and why we transgender people are subject to such tremendous othering.

Even the way we are supported is often times OTHERING!

I have the same internal response when people say to me “Hey, whatever makes you happy makes me happy”…and they are sincerely “for” me in terms of their willingness to accept me.

But they have no idea just how deeply they sentenced me to more time in the gender penitentiary.

“Mr. & Mrs. Cis-Gender Constance:  Tear down this wall!!2008-5-10 Auschwitz No 11 - Final 2-1-2009 750

My Friend Alli

Constance, I want to tell you about a friend of mine, and here is the amazing thing to me:  she is a friend because she simply chose to be and began treating me like I was her friend!  That is a very very different experience for me, and has happened to me precisely once before (you know who you are, Tortoise).tumblr_nlao8u1BMn1sooy9go1_1280

Oh, Alli and I are not “super duper besties” or anything like that…we live several miles apart, our lives and schedules do not really overlap…but they intersect at the crucial point of history and that is the Incarnation of God and all that entails.

They also intersect at the place of her total and complete commitment to live out her convictions in truth and with skin on…or to gussy it up with theology, Alli seeks to become a “little incarnation”, a true christian.  And in that sense, we are truly related, truly sisters for this is my aspiration as well.

I really am touched by her offerings of simple and open faced acceptance, because my usual experience is that people cross paths with me and find some outward thing about me to become fascinated with or interested in, one of the many facets of the being I have been created with…but then they get a little deeper and they are chilled by the gaping wounds, the flaws, the fears and uncertainties…and there is sort of a veering away.

That is not Alli…I love that her understanding of the Incarnation is inclusive!  All my flaws and failures and fallings-short are in her eyes the very qualifiers that give her hope and courage and a sense of kindredness, and that leaves me utterly hopeful and amazed…and very very glad.  Oh…and I hope you are okay with my giving you a lil pet name, Alli…if you aren’t please tell me?  It delights me to give heart names to people that I love.

Why am I highlighting her right now?

Because I want to use her example as a concrete way to be a trans-ally, as a blue-print for how you, Constance, can emulate her as she emulates Jesus and touch the hearts of those around you, trans, cis, whomever.

Alli is a real Christian.tumblr_n5ohu2b8WX1t091uro1_500

Now:  below, you will find the Facebook Posting that Alli made on Trans-Visibility Day, and the resultant conversation, which I will comment on a bit.  I am going to go ahead and let the links stand…I figure if you are out enough to be on Facebook, you won’t have a problem being here on Grace Notes, and if you are on Alli’s page, then the content here at Grace Notes should be quite consonant with your own tastes in media.

Please let me know ASAP if you do not want to be up in this post!  I will edit it immediately upon seeing your note (unless I am away from my computer and need to get to it).

Okay…there are several things that are said below.  Alli’s words appear first, and I want to state for the record that though she says “cis” means Comfortable In Skin when it is actually a Latin prefix of some obscure and awkward usage (I mean, really Constance…doesn’t it feel sorta alien to be referred to as “cis”?  Sorta like how awkward it feels to be called “trans”, yeah?), even though she got the technical denotation “wrong”…

she absolutely totally nailed the heart of it!  That’s just sorta how my friend rolls…she gets to the heart, and then she brings it medicine!

Comfortable In Skin:  wow.  That is such a great way of putting it, and I am henceforth going to think of that each time I use that old dry Latin prefix that is used because in the binary, we still lack the language to express the realities that have been excluded.

So do not get all het up over things and feel the need to let that knee kick out in reflex to correct…cus she nailed it dead on.  Period.  (Thanks, Alli!!)1662593_285159418275294_888261035_n

Next, I want to talk a bit about the concerns that come up and the struggle that all of us (including transgender people and trans-allies too) have in the binary, in figuring out how to broaden our tents and walk out the words of Isaiah 61. Specifically, in the area of trying to go to the bathroom.

*sigh*  *Charissa feels old, tired, and teary*

First of all, let me say I perceive that behind a lot of the concerns are hearts that are true, generous, and truly care.  Okay?  That’s a given, for love and compassion wreathes those words and is indeed fragrant.

But I do want to address what I think is nearly always the underlying factor in these sorts of matters, when we are encountering other human beings who seem so different from us initially and then emerge as beings exactly like us on the inside.

That operative factor is simple ignorance.  And do not feel demeaned by being called ignorant.  All of us are ignorant over some things and in some ways.  Ignorance is simply this:  lack of knowledge. Lack of education.  Lack of common identity and connection.

Ignorance is the most volatile state any person can be in, because when we are ignorant we are in our most impressionable place and at the mercy of whatever passions or persons seek to exploit that state!  Ignorance is the beginning of wisdom for those in the hands of true shepherds of the soul (like Alli)…and it is the beginning of national genocide in other rougher, bloody hands.

Okay?  We understanding?  We tracking together?tumblr_nlqg0v5Hxc1t07z8ao1_1280

I shall proceed:  starting with more abstract principles and working to the concrete.

Neutrally gendered bathrooms are the ideal.  Period.  Will there still be some freaks and perverts who seek to exploit those areas for their own evil, sick and twisted purposes?  Yeah…but as a function of their broken, fallen, sick and twisted souls…not as a function of gender orientation!

With just a little bit of thought and planning bathrooms could be made in such a way that the whole issue becomes moot:  someone uses the bathroom because their bodies are designed to eliminate waste products, and that is the simple and gentle truth.

But:  in our world, bathrooms are indeed gendered, reflections of our binary view of gender, which defines what you are and who you are gender-wise by what you are and who you are DNA wise!

Thus, the concern of a person being in a bathroom who is “physically” a man/woman is actually not a very meaningful term.  Because walking around inside a male body, I see the world with a woman’s eyes, a woman’s heart, a woman’s soul!  And it is horror to me!

Every.  Single.  Agonizing.  Second.  To have gentle eyes and see my rough hands.  To have fine, delicate heart and see my rough, crudely drawn face.  To be neat and put together inside myself as smaller, quick and agile and yet see this oversized battering ram of a body.Image 001

It is a non-sequitur to fear the presence of a “physical man” in a female gendered bathroom if the person who inhabits that body is a woman!  No man is present on the scene.  Period.  Further, it is cruel and unusual punishment to make that woman use the bathroom with men…and hear the things they do and say in those spaces (although the truth is there is not a lot of talk in bathrooms anyway, it is more locker rooms that can be a real nightmare).

“Cis”-woman:  imagine if you were forced to use the “Men’s Bathroom”.  You had to disrobe enough to go, you constantly were in agony that someone would recognize you when you were there and perhaps do you harm…not sexually, but violently, for invading their space!  They do not smell very nice.  They are not in the least adorned with anything pretty or elegant.  They very often have crude and horrid graffiti on the stall walls.

Oh, and the real winner:  you have to stand up side by side with some other person and go that way!  With it all just right out there!!  Ohh.  Myy.  GAWD.

“Cis”-man:  I am giggling right now becauseknow you!!  I have grown up with you and you are scratching your head and looking puzzled…what is the BFD you are thinking?  You go in, whip it out, let it fly, give a big contented sigh, try to paint the entire urinal, try to dissolve the urine cake, splash off to the sides and think “Oh shit I missed”, feel a momentary flash of guilt as you recall the “We aim to please!  You aim too, please!” signs, remind yourself that there are janitors who clean, console yourself with the notion that you are keeping them employed, give it a few shakes, and then maybe wash your hands, or not if you are of the school “my mama taught me not to piss on my hands” school…and then in either case swagger out without a backwards glance or a care in the world.

I won’t even talk about when you do the other number.

My point is this:  Even though I present female full time, 100%, I am still a natal XY DNA’d person, and thus defined in our culture as biologically male…but my dear sisters, you literally never ever have to worry about me thinking any of those thoughts you fear!  Because I am not like them!  I am like you!  I am not “physically a man”, but rather truly and in all ways but biology a woman, just like you.  No, you have far more to fear from a sharp tongued critical woman who has her claws out to rip your appearance to shreds with faux-compliments than you have to fear from me!tumblr_nc9in11Rpp1snlnsio1_1280

When I go to the bathroom?  I am thinking “Oh God, please let it be empty, please let it be empty!”  I walk in quick, eyes averted and a small gentle smile that says “yeah I gotta go, so sorry for being human”, and I scurry to the stall that seems most unobtrusive.  I immediately shut the door, and lock it and then give a small sigh of relief that I am “safe”. Then I take care of what my body must do…all the while listening, trying to feel the atmosphere of the room…can I safely wash without getting hurt or freaking anyone out?  Can I maybe even brush my hair and give a close inspection of my makeup without getting mocked or attacked verbally (which is a lot like a flock of robins attacking a perceived threat!  The wings hurt my eyes and the beaks draw blood).  If yes, YAY!  If not, then I get out fast the way I came in and use hand sanitizer short term and look for a place to properly wash up ASAP.

See why you have nothing to fear?

And that is not just me, by the way!  Most all trans-people are just like me…just like most cis people are not freaks either.  Trans people fall significantly outside the range of percentages of sexual predators compared to cis people.  You have a far greater risk in the women’s bathroom of getting preyed on by another cis woman than you do a trans woman, and we both bear the same risk of there being a natal male freak in there to harm someone.  He is in there because he is a freak.

And yes…it is indeed possible for a transgender person to be a freak…but the likelihood percentage wise is less than that of a cis-gender person being a freak…and get this:

the deviant state descends from being a broken fallen human creature, not from their gender orientation!  Just as cis-gender people by far exist in greater percentages who are not sexual predators, so too do transgender people.

Secondly, the whole notion of the bathroom lurker is grossly over inflated compared to the actual incidences of occurrance.  Oh yes, it happens…even once is far too much!  But it is an easy boogey man to drag out when ignorance is being preyed on by the passion of fear and the pack wants to be safe from the unknown and thus uses whatever it can find in service of that goal…and that includes painting the picture of the “evil perverted sex maniac monster” who “dresses female to sneak in and lurk” etc etc.

I cannot tell you how deeply wounding it is to be told this to my face.
I cannot express my inner agony at being called a monster, a pervert, a deviant.
Yes, even the supportive statement that a “male person” presenting as a woman is there to use the restroom misses the true reality of who I am, because it still sees me as fundamentally male and denies that who I really am even exists!

I am not a male person.  I am a female person…and I have been sent into this male body…and that is the crux of the way the Incarnation plays out thru my being, right there on the bloody rivet that nails me to this body…and I must take it in faith that it is for the Glory of God.

I do trust Them…but oh the cost.  Oh the tears.tumblr_nlfdtgZzcd1qdsqp6o1_1280

And the huge contradiction:  how sneaky can I really be?  If you have ever met me, you know my biology betrays me!  I am not sneaking around about anything…that is NOT how I roll.  I am open in who I am, how I am.  In fact, I have been told that this open heartedness is both my greatest strength and my greatest weakness…because I assume that everyone else is like me and searching intently always for a way to bless the ones around me!

So really…what you need to do if you find yourself worried about a transwoman in the restroom is this:  admit that you likely do not know a transwoman, and resolve to get to know one.  Befriend one, or if you are uncomfortable with that, ask some people you know who do know a transwoman, and get introduced.

Hey…I am available.  I do not have many friends, and almost no female ones, and I have a lifetime of loneliness to lose! And also years of imagining fun things to do!  But even more than that, if you just want to know what it is like to be transgender, I am open and willing to talk and share.

Once you get to know a transwoman, you will forget that prefix and just know your woman friend.

Now the next thing that I wanted to touch on is the whole idea of forced presentation and conformity to the “laws” that society is currently steeped in.  This one is hard.

This one is G Damned hard.

For me?  I love presenting as who I have always been inside…but I hate my body.  I hate the awful stubble and hair on my face…my size…the blunt bones of my face, the hulking ones of my arms and legs and feet and hands…and other things best left unsaid that I find just the worst.tumblr_njzf50a1Hs1qg4kx9o1_1280

But I know many transgender people who are truly and totally themselves as female and yet do not feel compelled to take any particular pains with their presentation for whatever reason…and that includes the clothes they wear, any concern whatsoever about the assigned gender of any clothing, and yes, even facial hair.

I also know many cis-gender women who have real facial hair problems:  I met them at the clinic where I get laser treatments for my facial hair!  They are there too, for the same reason, and feel the same shame and agony I do.

What if we lived in a world where we were not sized up, assessed, judged, based on these outward things?

See…we have learned to use these visual cues and do so now without thought, and without realizing that they come from a certain point of view regarding gender that is woefully incomplete and a prison to us all.  There is another way…to see with the eyes of love and compassion.  To trust the Holy Spirit in our hearts to give us discernment and understanding.  And yes, to rule our passions in such a way that the whole sexuality imbalance in this culture of ours comes back underneath a proper moral and spiritual harness (but that is a whole ‘nother eleventy-dozen posts!).

Again…I get it.  I do, and I try to do my part to blend, to make it easier.  We are eating this elephant one bite at a time, and sometimes the more strident of us seek to shove the whole thing down throats.  But you simply cannot ascertain the gender of someone with eyes alone.  That is a fact.

Spend some time with them…you will begin to get in touch with it PDQ!a6e400cc-0cd1-490b-af61-6d8383dcc23c

One last thought to tie these things together:  there is a movement afoot right now, where people who “pass” easily and without thought (I will write about that notion, passing…those people would be seen in the binary as the winner of the gene pool lottery for sure…that is so much more about their biology matching our preconceived notions than any great attribute of authenticity).  Well what the movement does is has these people go into the bathroom of their assigned biology and take selfies there…with other people around who don’t know!  And you can see how uncomfortable the other people are…because of how they have been taught to judge gender.  Remember, they are looking at natal females who are transgender and totally truly male in the ladies room, and natal males who are transgender and thus totally female in the mens room.

It really makes the point well…because it is indeed ridiculous, these laws that want to dictate bathroom on the basis of biology (intersex people totally blow this whole thing out of the water.

Okay…Ima publish now…Alli, just thank you so much.  Mike, thank you for being there for her, and for us all!  

Alli, words cannot express the heart I have, the hope I have because of you in my life.  

I am so looking forward to the garden we shall grow, God willing.

In deepest gratitude and love,
Charissatumblr_nlvxs6yfBf1sooy9go1_1280

Alli writes:

You may notice the change of photographs this morning. I was informed by several friends that today, March 31st, is Transgender Day of Visibility. This is different from days that honor trans people who have lost their lives, or people who have gone before us.

This is about honoring and recognizing that trans people exist – right here, and right now. They are not a joke. They are not predators. They are not doing it for attention. They just want to feel comfortable in their own skin (did you know that’s what the word “cis” means? C.I.S = Comfortable In Skin).

As people whose gender (what’s in your head) and sex (what’s in your pants) match up, we can’t begin to imagine what that feels like – to feel like your body isn’t the way it should be. But we CAN have compassion and treat people as we’d like to be treated: as individuals with worth, dignity, and pride.

Everyone deserves to use the bathroom that makes them most comfortable. Everyone deserves to wear clothes that make them feel attractive and confident. Everyone deserves to be counted as someone that matters.

If you need someone to talk to, I’m here to listen. If you need a bathroom buddy, I’ll go with you. If you need to vent about some jerk who said or did something cruel, I’ll rage with you. That’s what an ally does. That’s what a FRIEND does.

I want to be your friend, if you’ll have me. heart emoticon

  • Angie Conley I’m so proud to call you my friend. There is hope for humanity, after all. If any of your trans friends need more friends, my heart is wide open. I support the LGBT community.
    19 hrs · Like · 1
  • Lynnie Lee Beautifully said.
    19 hrs · Like · 2
  • Melinda Shimizu I didn’t know that’s where “cis” came from. Cool!
    18 hrs · Like · 2
  • Linda Geenty Iskrzak I agree with all of that but wouldn’t want Jade to run into a (physical) man who is more comfortable as a woman in the restroom!
    18 hrs · Like · 1
  • Melynda Poplin A person is a person and we ALL need love and acceptance!
    18 hrs · Like · 2
  • Allison Katsufrakis Linda I totally understand your concern, but the truth is, a male person presenting as a woman using the female restroom is just trying to get in, pee, and get out with their dignity intact. Just the same as the rest of us!If we’re concerned about pSee More
    18 hrs · Like · 9
  • Barbara Stewart Hill If you start talking to your children at an early age about differences instead of trying to shelter them, then they will not be filled with fear and angst when they do run into them in the restroom.My husband had a colleague visiting from TorontoSee More
    18 hrs · Like · 3
  • Linda Geenty Iskrzak I started recording Bold and the Beautiful a little while ago, had heard they were having a transgender storyline. It’s pretty good so far! (It’s a pretty stupid soap overall…as they tend to be!)
    18 hrs · Like · 1
  • Julia Coolman Cis/trans are Latin prefixes used in a variety of contexts, such as geographic (cisalpine/transalpine Gaul) and chemical (cis/trans isomerism), with gender-related use being by analogy to the above. A lot of initialisms are false folk etymologies.
    17 hrs · Like · 1
  • Courtney Anne Goodey I don’t really understand the bathroom argument. If a man were using a women’s restroom, I guess I could see some concern for his motives. But a trans woman? Probably just trying to pee. I don’t see any threat there.I appreciate you posting about trans issues. It is something I would like to support but feel very ignorant about. Keep on educating!
  • Mike Katsufrakis Cis/trans are indeed latin antonyms, but I’ve heard many people use the “comfortable in skin” version to describe their situation. It may be a false etymology, but it’s apt.
    16 hrs · Like · 1
  • Allison Katsufrakis Julia Coolman thanks for the explanation! Courtney Anne Goodey even I am always learning! I can’t begin to feel like I am anything but a student. I’ll keep sharing – glad you’re learning too.
  • Mike Katsufrakis As for the bathroom thing, I believe Linda was more saying that if you’re not outwardly presenting as a man/woman, things could get awkward fast. If I was a trans woman and walked into the ladies’ room with a giant beard, I’m not sure I’d have an argument I could make.
    16 hrs · Like · 1
  • Mike Katsufrakis Of course, that’s reducing someone’s gender to some kind of costume or persona they assume, but I’d probably say there are plenty of straight folks, ally or no, who’d at LEAST raise an eyebrow if it looked like a lady came into the men’s room, or vice versa.
    16 hrs · Like · 1
  • Charissa White I have a lot of thoughts about Allison Katsufrakis post, too many to clutter up this space with.But just one thing to say: if other people had even one one thousandth of the heart she has, well the world would be so much better a place!I am humbled and astonished she would even give me the time of day, which she does… But that is nothing. She gives me completely normal, full agency as well. She actually sees ME.. My heart and soul. The joyous love she has for life also oozes her True compassion. This is not bs empty talk. I know.As to the concerns about bathrooms, those are almost instantly alleviated when you really get to know a Transgender person… But I will write more on that laters on my blog.Jus, Thx Alli… Ya did it again , made me feel good, and cry

Can you stop killing us for just one week?

Jan 1st to Feb 22nd 2015 one Transgender person is being murdered every 29 hours. | Planet Transgender.

Constance…did you realize this?

I invite you to consider this request.

Being called he/she, and having it justified by a spiritual comment, well it smacks a bit of feeling like getting groomed for other, deeper transgressions.

It is a true reality that I could get murdered, just for walking transgender.

As long as you cis people read and feel all bad and stuff, and then see what’s on tv, we will keep being killed.  No one will stop killing us until they are forced to stop…a bit like the police force and their wanton slaughter of young black men.

Please…we really are not doing anything to you.  Just let us live.

The Last Week of February is Worldwide

Transgender woman dies suddenly, presented at funeral in open casket as a man | The Miami Herald

Transgender woman dies suddenly, presented at funeral in open casket as a man | The Miami Herald.

I am at a loss for words to describe how evil this is…this is the sin of necrophilia, in that it rapes someone after they are dead.

I want to fill this post with iterations of the F word, but will just say how F ing petty…

…how effing pathetic.

Jennifer, I promise to you.  I VOW to you…I will never forget you

Worthless…on Transgender Remembrance Day

Constance, here is the sad truth:  if I was murdered for being trans, I would be blamed, othered, misgendered in my death, and then forgotten as a sad cautionary tale of someone who went cray-cray…and once again the epidemic of hateful absolutely vile demonic murder would continue unchecked by my death any more than the tsunamis are checked by lil old seawalls along the oceanfront.

It is not a joke.  It is not just me being shrill.

It is pure unadulterated evil.  Killing someone because they do not conform to societal norms.

The post below is my contribution to Transgender Remembrance Day…the blunt and brutal fact that I am worth about as much to towns, communities and society as the dog crap in the street that needs to be cleaned up and disposed of with laws discussed to control the dogs.

Keep on fiddling, Nero…keep on fiddling.  You are sawing your own neck in two.

tumblr_mlcx2vXeF61qdachco1_1280

Excerpted from a larger article:

Remembering Us When We’re Gone, Ignoring Us While We’re Here: Trans Women Deserve More


There’s an interesting phenomenon that I’ve witnessed over the past few years. The names of trans women of color will be in the mouths of the queer community after they’ve been murdered, but support for us while we are still alive is sporadic at best. Trans women are pushed out of queer spaces by cis people, dfab genderqueers, and trans men, just to name a few. Women’s spaces are frequently hostile to us because we aren’t “real women” but trans men almost always get a free pass. And I’ve seen more than one cis queer say that trans women are “appropriating” the gay rights movement, totally ignorant of the fact that we started the damn thing. I have seen more than one cis queer say that we have nothing in common with them, that our issues are completely unrelated. We have a hard time finding dates, finding support, finding community. And when we dare to call people out for their transmisogyny, we are labeled crazy, hysterical, divisive. I have been called Austin “queer scene’s” number one enemy. All for daring to share my thoughts on the world around me.

image via http://www.gazettenet.com

Trans Day of Remembrance is filled to the brim with the names of murdered Black and brown trans women, but is a single evening of remembering enough? And what does it mean that TDoR doesn’t explicitly talk about race and is often dominated by white people? Here in Austin there’s this tradition of calling the names of the dead and then having an audience member sit in a chair that represents where the dead trans woman would sit. The seats are always filled with white people and non-trans women. What do our deaths mean when our bodies, our lives, the physical space we take up, is appropriated by white folks? How can I mourn for my sisters when the space set up for that mourning is so thoroughly colonized? And how can I even see hope of living a full life when I don’t see myself reflected in what is supposed to be my community?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to honor those women who came before us, those women murdered by colonial patriarchy. But it seems like more often than not, the queer community at large is content with just remembering. We only hear about trans women after their deaths. And even our deaths are not our own. A week doesn’t go by without a white queer citing the deaths of trans women of color as the evidence of how oppressed they are. These stats are often used in service of their own assimilation; meanwhile, they’re happy to leave us out in the cold. We don’t even have dignity in death, nor the ability to decide what it will mean for us.

 via http://giveout.razoo.com

Support for trans women dwindles when we are still alive. Nowhere is this clearer than in fundraisers run by and for trans women. There have been some success stories, but they always seem to be few and far between. More often than not, a trans woman’s fundraiser will get a few signal boosts, maybe a couple of dollars and then languish. Meanwhile, trans men’s fundraisers for transition related care often get fully funded. This funding disparity is also clear institutionally, where organizations that focus on the concerns and issues of trans women of color get a miniscule amount of all the money from LGBTQ foundations. This is especially true in the South, where LGBT organizations only get 3-4% of domestic LGBT funding. Again, cis, white, rich institutions are quick to use our murders in their statistics then turn around and spend their money on organizations that look like them: cis, white, and rich. Organizations that push for assimilation.

Via americanprogress.org

Obviously financial support isn’t the be all end all action to support trans women of color, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. And the fact that it’s a struggle for trans women to acquire financial assistance is symptomatic of our society’s priorities. It points to who is valuable and who is disposable. At the bottom of this article is a list of fundraisers and organizations for trans women that I would strongly encourage you to support. If you’re not a trans woman and you’re reading this, think long and hard about the ways that you’re supporting trans women in your community. Do you see trans women in public community spaces? How are your actions pushing them out? Don’t think that just giving money nullifies your collusion in transmisogyny. Financial support is important but it is not the only step. As we honor the memory of those girls who have been murdered, ask how you’re helping the living.

Bleeding Light and Memory: On Transgender Remembrance Day

Here is my first poem written regarding this thing called Transgender Remembrance Day.  I wrote it last year on this day.  It is located here:

Bleeding Light and Memory (Without Images for Structure)

I present it to you again today…and it has grown, shrunk, matured and gained its presence a bit.

In other words I edited it.
Please…read it and let the reality of it hit your heart with the tattoo needle and not the jester’s feather.  Please be changed…how can we  live if you won’t unbend, unfold and become?  I am right there with you Constance, wings straining for every weft of breeze, sails hoisted and praying for that puff divine and transformative…

Love, Charissa

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

Bleeding Light and Memory (2014 version)

When light struck my soul I blazed fierce and exultant!
Into awareness, I bled joy so radiant just like the horizon
bleeds sunlight at dawn.  I gazed in the gawky glass of exultation
(and I in my youth seeing darkly thru that glass)
I knew myself and was gaudiloquent and I was so glad and full,
I was so wonder-full.tumblr_musnzoGltW1ss5om1o1_500Til it rained, titters fell tinkling down on heart-tin, then rebukes raging,
lashing at my roof and thrumming and drumming til I saw no more thru that
bright young glass darkly, but dull thru a lonely storm dimly and starkly
and everything eerie and glowing in green, and radioactive remarks so redactive
and careless cerulean comment, alas! I came to know what I was
and was not and I melted misshapen and crippled.

Then came the days long and same and repetitive,
passing by people of 2 kinds that easily pass, they belong
but they never see beyond, they never see inside the rose.
So I plucked throbbing buds, thorn blood price cheap and held them out
from my side of that dark glass wet with stormy tears, washy with rivers
of arrogant vain assumed presence attributing value and worth.
Life ground me down as it moved without mercy, a glacier inexorable
grinding in glances so cold and so frozen, that flow moving over
the dark silent boulders of being…I saw bones strewn round me
like gruesome pick-up sticks, cast-offs from careless hands,
players who tired of children’s games, children’s cruel nicknames,
grown weary they tore out their hearts with bare hands mad with grief
but the world grinding by didn’t care.tumblr_mv21x4W9Lk1rk1cbbo1_1280Until at last long from those dizzy heights brilliant awareness burst over me,
bleeding in fullness and in terror tinklings, thrumming and cold and that
startling certain blue clarity…I finally remembered who I am, and know
finally what I am, that I am, and my long lament “alas” nevermore uttered!
For I am become me…at last, me…a lass.

That’s me in a nutshell, my story and journey transgender…but what about you?
Will you take time to think and remember? Will you find mercy today?
Will you find the care? Will you go gently with us into our long night,
will you rage, rage with us gentle and bless now the living of the light
that’s straining to dawn bright and final in blazing clear beauty?
You too are dual natured, corrupt and dying and incorrupt rising!
We share one grim struggle, together the dead and together alive
in one deadly bold dual to live.  You….are US. and we are you…
but you without arms, without eyes, without mouths
we scream loud and cry for release!  We cry out
for the midwives of mercy to meet us and make us
so beautiful for situation at last and delivered of our awful charge.

OPEN YOUR EYES AND EARS FOR US.tumblr_mv2wk5jIW71spa6l5o1_500See us…and hear us…don’t fear us, don’t fear to see yourself,
come stare down your own stormy floods, sit and listen!
Don’t be afraid to hear us, we’re the voice of the echoes you hear
in your own fearful nightmares of being, oh Daughters of Pharaoh!
Reach down and lift us up out of the reeds and mud! Because of you
a whole nation was freed, and we too are Eve’s sons and the daughters of Adam,
but trapped and acutely aware we are helpless!  Too often we’ve fallen
to dread hands and dead eyes of no grace and no mercy
and no compassionate symmetry!

Today…here…
Light strikes in blacksmith blows,
soul sparks chip off and away on this day…
I intention…remember
my own radiant flood
bleeding light and day’s promise,
remember the resonant thunder,
remember the frowning floods
the gushing gouts
and the othering stares
and the brutal don’t cares
of long years I walked
in the country of lost men
and longing despair…

I remember the pangs and the waves and the lurching
of labor as I, pregnant with my own measureless mystery
and full of such knowing began to emerge and break forth
deep-touched forever warded by Grace, and kept safe
from that pit which has tripped far too many and eaten them,
chewed them like Goya’s devourer,
Zeus eating every last child in his madness and horror…
incarnate in this patriarchy that rounds us up
into its abattoir death camps like cattle
and herds us into chutes and charnal house horrors
of slaughter and blood-spattered baptism.Francisco_de_Goya,_Saturno_devorando_a_su_hijo_(1819-1823)(let their fate haunt you
and give you holy hush
and give you sacred silence).

Dare. Look. Feel.
I will too, and somewhere
we will fight off those demons
compelling and fell
that haunt us and cause us
to rave and destroy…
Then we shall be set free to fly again
all together in one flock of birds
of all feathers and all calls
become One Glad Song!
We will dare to fly off
to the sun and beyond
where our song will bleed joy
and rain down on the earth
to bring healing and hope
home in Love…

forever…
together…
we’ll
Bleed
Radiant
Light.tumblr_ndi8fmiols1tfagvko1_1280

 

I’m attracted to trans women – Salon.com

I’m attracted to trans women – Salon.com.

I am pressing this, Constance, because it is the chronicle of the courage of a person to explore the dynamics and politics of gender in a world that is gradually moving from ignorance into enlightenment in this area.

No…this does not mean that I want to date men.

No…this does not mean that I want to date women either!  Quite simply, gender and sexuality intersect only to the degree that the individual person connects them, they are not inextricably joined at the hip!

All desire to date anyone disappeared from within me the literal instant my eyes saw my beloved.  She is my “sexual orientation”…She is my “sexual preference”…I don’t know if I would have seen her if she was male-bodied, but now that I have lived with her these last decades, well it would not matter to me what body she had…she is herself, and forever my one and only love.

Just wanted to mention that because of the coming crap storm from my self-appointed “lovers of the sinner” who will say that I am (fill in the blank from their fetid minds and sordid imaginations and black hearts)…

Nope, none of that, I want you to please read the thoughtful intelligent steps of courage of a human being.

It is only circumstance that I met my beloved before dealing with my gender issues…who knows how the struggle would have been?  And that is why the issue must be grappled with.  Each person needs love and someone to love…even transgender people.

Charissa

PS:  I just noticed that this article appeared in a different form at this link:

Defeating Shame: My Story of Trans-Attraction

It is just enough different as to be interesting.

8 Things Parents of Trans Kids Want You to Know | Brynn Tannehill

8 Things Parents of Trans Kids Want You to Know | Brynn Tannehill.

Posted without comment, on advice from my bff and my baby.

Constance, please read this…please hear hearts

Charissa

tumblr_mr17acTzop1rwuj4qo1_500

‘Gender Confirmation Surgery’: What’s in a Name? | Loren S. Schechter, M.D., F.A.C.S.

‘Gender Confirmation Surgery’: What’s in a Name? | Loren S. Schechter, M.D., F.A.C.S..

Hi Constance… I just referred to this in a comment over at Dani’s blog, which hopefully I handled in a graceful and kind way.

I thought you all might enjoy reading it as well.

Blessings,

Charissa

 

The T Word: Transgender

Constance…I have no words to express what this means to me…what is being said to me…both in the post and in the comments. I simply will repost this, and let you know something: each of you is a potential ally in someone’s life. I an so very blessed to have the one that I do, and she knows how I feel, who I am, and our welcoming, beckoning road…and thus for me to say anything more is inappropriate, in that the only legit words for to say are uh-MAZED and broken thank yous…55 years of loneliness is a long time.

bloomingspiders

You don’t get to decide the truth. Other people have their own experiences, just as valid. This is easy to forget. Your slice of life seems so large and unmistakable, like a mirage of wholeness from where you stand. But it is your job to know better and not confuse your small piece for the whole, even if you sometimes forget. Life is big—much bigger than just yours. This is the only note to self: other people are real. That’s all there is to learn. 

— Frank Chimero – The Only Note To Self

At an event earlier this month, I sat reading over the only flyer available: an advertisement for The New Three Tenors.  As I glanced over the neon page, I saw two sandled feet standing inches from where I sat.  I found the feet peculiar, noting that the toes weren’t bare but layered with seamed stockings, and…

View original post 795 more words

The Loneliness of Being Other

The raucous room and wine, rollicking around us
awash in social currents and plumage all fanned out
and passers by drifted close to take a look and then
shifted chins and rolling eye to sit jowl to jowl and nook to crook.20141011_190936

(Donne wasn’t talking about trans-folk when he quipped
“no man is an island”, for I was a life boat drifting on an endless sea
and stranded, the fishies below and the birdies above
and me no water to drink in the midst of many waters)

tables full and over full, like bellies and wine glasses
which were groaning and clinking atonal and rhythmic
choruses echoed in this gathered congregation of the goddess Socializing
and her consort mammon to whom offerings would be made of time and treasure20141011_190856

Ah, but look…and see our dingy, drifting on desert seas entire
in this oasis of walled off spaces, our puffed up air-filled punt
the good ship “I Alone Survived” bobbed high and pristine, clean, in order
midst the merry chaos and the choruses of othering swelling with the music

perhaps we were mistaken as tee-totalers of banquets,
or the step children vegan and red headed in the throng.
OH! the weight watchers attending but on such a strict repast
that we were tasked to come and eat the food but fast the feasts of friends.20141011_190909

We sit alone, apart (the better to stare at you, my dear) in this overcrowded room
full of overcrowded tables, one there in the middle overcrowded by blank emptiness
occupied by someone glowing shining sparking becoming but accounted as a
lost placeholder only, and the one who loves her there, sitting side by side and stark.

It’s a long and lonely desert trudge, and not all deserts dunes…
sometimes deserts teem with life and trees and nights under soft moons
but the doors are locked, the gates are hidden deep in mystery
of how a transgirl finds her way and what becomes her key

To walk amidst the forests, in the fields of human kindness
there to forage for the herbs medicinal to cure that blindness
and to find that song, the notes to open up locked hearts, deaf ears
until then the Other will go forth, sowing in tears…Image 001

“…Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.  She who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing her sheaves with her.”

Psalms 126:5-6
*gender pronouns altered, meaning not violated)

This made me weep

Listen, I loved my father.  It was out of that love and respect that I split in two, so I could please him.  I heard his heart even thru other things. He never bullied me like what you will see in the beginning of this lil video…but he was a towering figure, and his presence was writ over my life large.  When the twist at the end occurred, a torrent of tears tore loose…and I could not help but wonder what would have been…could have been.  I used to mourn and grieve the amount of time I had left…before I was at last released and set free from this double crossed body, betrayed by sin and betrayed by gender..but now?  I mourn and grieve the time I have lost, wishing I had those years to live proper as myself.

I mean…bff…would that particular source of weirdness and strain and uncertainty that surrounds our friendship be present if I had the right body?  I don’t think so…I think that after the oddity of how we connected so deeply via writing and then fell into our future and walk our our present backwards, navigating the folds…after that was internalized, it would be a casual shrug, and we would be free to function in our world as we women always have, under the noses and before the unseeing eyes of men who comfort themselves with thoughts that we are like cackling hens and chitchatting crickets easily satisfied with baubles, shiny things and trinkets.

But for me being me…the penumbra of ignorance that surrounds me colors everything, taints everything…i think i would die if it ended up impacting you harshly and causing you trouble in your life.  It haunts me, frankly, and makes me want to flee screaming in the night “unclean, unclean!”  Modern day leper.

Anyway, this video is very redemptive, and gives me hope…inspiration…to keep going forward and not quit, and pray that my pain would be transformed into someone else’s power.

Bleeding and unable to staunch the flow,

Charissa Grace

11 Myths, Misconceptions, and Lies About Gender Non-conforming Children

Constance, this article is really good.  Pass it along, please.

Sorry for my terse prose…I am feeling a bit down.

Running to Mama…Charissa Grace

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11 Myths, Misconceptions, and Lies About Gender Non-conforming Children

Source: Lindsay Morris

Originally published on The Huffington Post and cross-posted here with the author’s permission.

Recently, a video about a transgender child in California named Ryland Whittington went viral. It is beautiful and moving and shows the power of unconditional parental love.

Sadly, like every other conversation about transgender children, the comments section was often unkind. Scanning the comments, I saw the same poorly thought-out ideas keep popping up. Many of them were similar to things said about transgender adults, but others were particular to transgender children.

I think it’s time to put these misconceptions to bed.

1. Children are too young to know these things or make these decisions.

The overwhelming consensus of the psychological community is that gender identity is formed by the age of two or three. The consensus of the medical community is that sexual dimorphism of the brain occurs in utero as a result of exposure, or lack thereof, to androgens.

In other words, gender identity and expression are determined before a child is even born. It is only at two or three that they can express it.

Even those psychologists who push for “reparative therapy” to “normalize” gender non-conforming children acknowledge that if a child is still asserting a particular gender identity at the age of six, the odds of it changing are exceedingly small.

2. You are whatever your bits say you are.

In utero, the reproductive organs develop and differentiate earlier than the brain does. When the brain later develops in ways that typically differentiate between male and female, it is based on whether or not the androgens are present and received.

Usually, because the gonads are already in place and producing minute amounts of hormones, this differentiation allows the brain development to match the typical pattern. When something (such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals) interferes with this process, you can get a mismatch between phenotypes.

A person’s sense of self and their gender identity and expression are based on what’s between their ears. Who you are as a person is defined by gray matter, not by genitalia.

3. Gender non-conforming behavior and identities are a result of something the parents did.

Usually this line of attack is meant to imply that the children grew up in a broken home, or that somehow the parents were gender non-conforming or ultra-liberal or somehow encouraged it.

I have spoken with many parents of transgender kids who live in conservative, religious, two-parent military families with both parents filling stereotypical gender roles.

Wayne Maines became an advocate for his transgender daughter and transgender children nationwide despite previously having a very conservative philosophy and values that suggested that transgender children did not exist. Watching his child grow, he could not deny the fact that she was indeed a girl, not a boy.

But these stories are all anecdotal. Let’s see what research has to say about the matter:

There is no proof that postnatal social environment has any crucial effect on gender identity or sexual orientation.”

Next.

4. If you just made them behave like a proper boy/girl, it would fix the ‘problem.’

Let’s look at two of the most famous case studies of trying to “fix” gender non-conforming children. There was George Reker’s case study of “Kirk,” and then there was the case of David Reimer, who was raised as a girl after a botched circumcision.

In both cases, trying to cram these children into a box they didn’t fit in ended up killing them.

Nearly every parent of a transgender child I have met has told me that they reached a point of acceptance when they realized that they had a choice: either accept their child or lose them altogether.

5. My kid said he is an elephant. Does that mean I should put him on an all-peanut diet? No! These parents are just being indulgent of a child’s fantasy.

We’ve already discussed that this isn’t a fantasy; there are biological origins, and simply identifying as male or female is not abnormal. However, this reminds me of nothing so much as the same sort of ill-considered opinions that people have about raising other special-needs children.

It also bears repeating that the majority of parents who have children who have socially transitioned reached a point where they feared for their child’s life. Suicidal ideation is common even in very young in transgender children.

I cannot say this more plainly: You do not have a right to question or judge a parent’s decisions when they fear for their child’s life.

6. When I was young, I was a tomboy, and I didn’t turn out to be transgender.

Individuals saying this sort of thing may have demonstrated some cross-gender behaviors but not a persistent cross-gender identity.

This is a key difference between the two, and such comparisons represent a false analogy.

7. If you let them socially transition, you’re just setting them up to be bullied.

This is another form of blaming the victim. Shouldn’t we focus on preventing bullying rather than making the victim conform? We do not accept that forcing kids to act “less gay” is right. We don’t like the idea that avoiding being raped is the victim’s responsibility.

The parents of transgender and gender non-conforming children aren’t to blame if their children are bullied. More often than not, they are already doing everything they can to keep their child alive and happy.

If blame is to fall anywhere, it more rightly belongs on those doing the bullying and on school administrators who allow it to happen.

8. They’re giving ten-year-old children hormones!

No. Doctors are prescribing Lupron, which blocks the onset of puberty. This drug is already being used on children who aren’t transgender to prevent precocious puberty.

The reason that doctors block puberty in transgender children is that forcing a transgender child to go through the wrong puberty is more or less irreversible, does permanent harm in terms of ongoing dysphoria, and results in greater difficulty living in their target gender.

9. What if these kids change their minds?

For children who haven’t undergone any sort of medical treatment, they transition back socially. However, after age six to eight, this becomes very uncommon. If they are on Lupron, they stop taking it, and puberty proceeds as normal, just as it would for a child who had been given it to stop precocious puberty.

According to Dr. Norman Spack, who specializes in this field:

[A]t the time that puberty begins — that means between about age 10 to 12 in girls, 12 to 14 in boys, with breast budding or two- to three-times increase in the gonads in the case of genetic males — by that particular point, the child who says they are in the absolute wrong body is almost certain to be transgender and is extremely unlikely to change those feelings, no matter how anybody tries reparative therapy or any other noxious things.

At the age of 15 or 16, if the child is still asserting a cross-gender identity, there is almost zero chance that this will change. Then, and only then, are cross-gender hormones administered.

In short, the medical and mental-health protocols are designed to only take permanent medical steps after everything possible has been done to ensure that this is the correct course of treatment. Until that point, everything is reversible.

Along the way, however, steps are being taken to minimize potential harm to the patient whether or not they are transgender.

10. These kids should have to wait until they’re 18 before doing anything medically (including puberty-blocking drugs).

By that time it is too late. Puberty has already given them a body that can’t be easily fixed.

Medical science can attempt to mitigate the harm, but at that point it is expensive and painful, and the results only partially compensate for the effects of going through the wrong puberty.

In short, forcing them to wait can (and often does) cause massive, irreparable harm.

11. You transgender activists want to force all these children down a medical track.

No. No. And a thousand times no. I have met the parents of gender non-conforming kids. These kids may express themselves differently but do not have a cross-gender identification (e.g.: they are a boy who identifies as a boy but likes things that are gender-stereotyped as more feminine).

I absolutely do not want children who are simply gender non-conforming going down a medical track.

What parents of transgender and gender non-conforming children want is the same thing that every other parent wants: for their children to be happy, safe, loved, and protected.

If medical care will help their children go out into the world with every chance of achieving their potential and having a fulfilling life, then they will fight tooth and nail for it.

It’s what any good parent would do.

Brynn Tannehill is originally from Phoenix, Ariz. She graduated from the Naval Academy with a B.S. in computer science in 1997. She earned her Naval Aviator wings in 1999 and flew SH-60B helicopters and P-3C maritime patrol aircraft during three deployments between 2000 and 2004. She served as a campaign analyst while deployed overseas to 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain from 2005 to 2006. In 2008 Brynn earned a M.S. in Operations Research from the Air Force Institute of Technology and transferred from active duty to the Naval Reserves. In 2008 Brynn began working as a senior defense research scientist in private industry. She left the drilling reserves and began transition in 2010. Since then she has written for OutServe magazine, The New Civil Rights Movement, and Queer Mental Health as a blogger and featured columnist. Brynn and her wife Janis currently live in Xenia, Ohio, with their three children. Follow her on Twitter @BrynnTannehill.

Though none go with me, still I will follow

Dear Constance…I have a heavy heart today, and my eyes are red and throbbing from weeping.

The second wave of “loving wounds from friends” is occurring. I got a letter in the mail from a man I spoke with several weeks ago, one whom I have known for years and had thought was open and interested in my fate.

Well, the letter showed that while he thinks of himself as a friend (and make no mistake, he truly thinks he is “doing the right thing”), he does not believe that I am of my right mind and walking properly with the Lord. He makes this clear.

And I am so conflicted! Because on the one hand I know that it is not man who grants righteousness or will be able to ultimately label me, but God who has given me righteousness as a free gift and my beloved Advocate the Holy Spirit (whom I adore and love to call Mama…a poetic, intimate and informal expression of heart connection that is underlaid by foundational theological teaching and underpinnings)…and yet on the other hand to be told by someone that I have known for over 35 years, lived with for a few of those, and then worked with for our entire working career, someone who has not been intimately involved in my life for the last 25, has rarely come to the house, did not check in when Dad died, failed to notice my rampant and extreme despair, to be told that I am under a spirit of deception and not rightly choosing for life…

…well it is shattering in a lot of ways.

I am going to post the letter here with my reply…and my comments to you all here, not anywhere else  (My comments are indented and in blue).   I am deeply convicted that Mama does not want me to argue about this with people. If they are open to learning what being transgender is and is not, then I will spend whatever time it takes…but if they want to “a priori” judge me as wrong and in sin simply for choosing transition, then it is pointless to argue, for the evidences that I have biblically and scientifically and philosophically are moot to them! They have already made up their minds based on feelings, cultural traditions, and a few verses wrenched from context to bolster their weak arguments.

I think what breaks me most…shakes me most…is the awareness that this same process is going to keep happening. And it is painful.

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I could take the easy road…simply post “No Trespassing” and let them talk…but then again, how does that potentially educate? How does that maintain openness to relationship on my part? How does that lend any legitimacy to gender transition as a Christian?

I think that I am called to a higher purpose than just transition, and “fixing myself”…I think that I am called to speak for those who cannot speak, to run for those who cannot walk, and to stand for those who would shatter in the wind. So many individuals who are trans are so very broken, outcast, alienated…and I…true child of blessing and privilege even though I suffered as trans…I am relatively whole, and gifted with writing skills and speaking abilities.

No…I do think Mama has a different road for me, a road that will end up on the mountain top, but only via the lowly and lonesome valleys of the shadow of death. I hear Her singing to me “You gotta walk that lonesome valley…”

As you read below, I am going to add in comments of things I would have said, could have said but chose not to. Perhaps this intimate look into the life of a transgender Christian woman who is in the trench warfare that only Christians seem to be able to wage with such exquisitely kind cruelty will illuminate to you ways in which you may have failed to truly love your neighbor…or barring that will inspire you to simply “not go there”…to the correcting stool…at least not until you have walked side by side with someone for at least a hundred hours for every minute you plan to correct.

Interesting how Jesus spent very little time correcting anyone…oh wait! Except for the religious leaders and power mongers who corrected everyone else and were the final arbiters of who was holy and who was not!

I am still Charissa Grace. I am still seeking to do justice, and now in particular I am with all my being hungry to love mercy…but I am so sorrowful, how do I know if I am walking humbly? Well…Mama knows, She knows…so Ima stay close to Her always.

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*****Handwritten letter to me dated October 4th, 2014*****

I want to write this to you in order to respond to our conversation that we had on your front porch on Sunday afternoon three weeks ago. My thoughts have taken awhile to distill within me but I believe that they have settled into an understandable form.

My heart is heavy as I write this and just as it has been since I was made aware of your public display of being transgender on a Monday morning as I was (Charissa comments:  insert work activity here). From that shock I have been praying and have arrived at these few points that I hope you will be able to receive not as arrows of judgement or religious diatribe but as my response and call to Truth.

Interesting to see here that the very first things he communicates to me put the onus on me to “receive”…rather than the onus on him to speak edifying and encouragingly. He has done no study since we talked, asked no questions, or really even interacted with me at all.

An arrow of judgment is when we infer a heart condition based on an outward manifestation of behavior. You have judged someone when you think you know who they are based on what you have seen them do, or fail to do, with no other evidence. Jesus called it taking a speck out of someone’s eye when the speck remover’s eyes were full of logs.

A religious diatribe is when a deeply held belief is held over or against someone who is seen as violating that belief or invalidating that belief, and the said diatribe will not have any authoritative teaching accompanying it…it will simply be an emotionally laden coercion moment. Sometimes religious diatribes will be accompanied by some form of authority, but nearly every time they will be things taken out of context or twisted to serve the purpose of the one making it.

The goal of both of these forms of interaction is to control another person.

For me personally, you have crossed over a river which I will not be crossing.

This comment was confusing to me…is he telling me that he will not be transitioning beside me? Um, duh? Who would want to transition if they were fully themself? Or, is he telling me that we will no longer be friends, associates? And also, why will he not cross? Because he is happy as the gender he is? (again, duh)…or because I am in sin and he does not want to be sullied? Which is antithetical to the example that we have in Jesus by the way, who came in the flesh when we were yet dead in our sins and active enemies of God.

And now I am aware that you made that decision some time ago and I was not aware of it. And I have not ever been aware of your struggle with gender. My shock and surprise indicates a weakness of relationship and lack of transparency and openness that I assumed had existed in the past and present between us. Neither of us am I blaming for the weakness but I am sharing a feeling of loss because of the way I ended up finding out about your life change.

I simply must explain here…this man has not been a true part of my life on any consistent basis that would earn him any authority to speak like this to me. He was not there when my dad suffered…he was not there when my children went thru various trials…he was not there when I wanted to kill myself…he didn’t hear me when at work I tried to talk to him about the despair that overwhelmed me…

…and of course, he was not there when I at last admitted what I am. Because how could I dare talking to anyone about it? Seriously…look at the response he is having. Tell me how that makes him a safe place to pour out my heart and make my very core vulnerable at the most defenseless time of my life?

Weakness of relationship…lack of transparency and openness…assumed existed in the past and currently present.

Hmmm…first off, notice the assumption there, that everyone be all up in everyone else’s business. Somehow either he or I owed the other one this “transparency” simply because we had history and were both Christians. There is a devious and poison doctrine that got loose in the church in the 70s, and it assumes a heavy authoritarian leader to whom all others are “submitted to” and demands an accountability to that leader, or group of leaders. This was most clearly seen in the Shepherding Movement and in the teachings of a man named Bob Mumford among other men. As time passed, it was repudiated but managed to metastasize and mutate and the authority figure became something seemingly more benign called various things like “accountability partner” or other similar names.

While there is definite wisdom and benefit in having someone close that you trust who is there for you and who knows all about you, this practice usually devolves into various forms of bondage and control in its best forms and flat out spiritual abuse in its worst. Deep study of New Testament behavioral codes place about 99.9999% of the emphasis on removing specks from ones’ own eyes, and looking for ways to defer to others with them being more important than one’s self.

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If you had shared your struggle and the reality of what you were dealing with in your heart with me or someone, perhaps things would be different. I am hoping that I would have cared enough to pray and help carry that burden to the Lord.

As I made clear when we talked, during the time he knew me most, I had no conscious idea that the source of my despair was gender dysphoria…and yes, as a victim of that Christian culture during those years, I had “accountability partners” who knew that I wrestled fiercely with depression and despair, and they had affirmed the nobility of this struggle.

I also had one friend in particular that I was open about gender feelings with, though we did not know at the time what the dealio was.

He ignores the presence of my amazing spouse and her complete sharing of my horror, her encouragement…and then he says he is currently hoping he would have cared enough to pray and help carry that burden to the Lord…WHAAAAAaaaa???????????

Did I read that right? Let me see if I am tracking: so far I have been warned that there are arrows coming and words that may be resembling religious diatribe…I have been told that I am across a river that he will not be crossing…he has implied that I have been secretive and dissembling over the years and has flat out stated that I had not shared my struggle…

…and then turns around to say that he is currently hoping that he would have cared enough…

Here is an idea: how about caring enough now, enough to be around me and see for himself that I am still the very same person I always was but more whole and healthy? How about getting over the fear that I am perishing, and getting over himself that he is somehow the knight riding in on the charger to save the day, and simply coming along side me as a friend with no agenda but to love me?

I have a few things to ask you to consider and to see my understanding of things.

OOoohh…his understanding…okay, I thought, here is where I will see some information, indication that he studied a bit on this…alas I was sadly disappointed. His understanding is just that: what he thinks in himself, and for reasons either explained poorly, weakly, or not at all.

First I am concerned that you have made these life changing decisions without any submitted relationship and dialogue with the people in the Body of Christ closest to you and who have known you. Any one of us becomes vulnerable without being in submitted relationships that are mutually held in open and honest accountable communication. Is there anyone you trust that could say “(Charissa comments:  he used my deathname here) don’t go this way your (sic) making a mistake” and you would wait and not keep going? Left to ourselves we are alone.

Where do I start on that? See, the term “submitted relationship”…that is code, and means that anytime you want to do something you have to run it by other people, especially if it is something unusual. It is not enough to be submitted to God, and daily seeking Them, daily being in the word looking for guidance…it is not enough to be submitted to one’s spouse, and together daily seeking God in prayer together. No…there is a different dynamic, one in which someone else…a human being(s)…serves as an intermediary between you and God.

Hear me…there is nothing inherently wrong with doing just that…but neither is there anything inherently wrong in not doing that. A Christian who considers God’s word authoritative would search scripture for any broad stroke parameters that would include or preclude the considered direction, and if it was not prohibited would then pray and ask for guidance and insight regarding a looming decision. They would also consult with the people any such decision would directly affect, so as to defer to them humbly and understand the impact a chosen course may have on them. Then they would consider any science, technology, teachings etc that would further illuminate the possible outcomes of a choice…special attention would be given to any testimony of people who had experienced similar things.

Ideally, if one wanted to, they would share this with the people who are rooted and woven into their hearts and souls, just out of friendship. There is wisdom in counsel, and counsel from those who truly know you is priceless.

If the considered action was clearly prohibited by scripture, the counselours would be sure to point that out…but if it wasn’t…if it was a matter of choice…free will…then the preferred course of action might or might not be received, and it might or might not end up profitable…but it would not a priori be a matter of sin or rebellion or deception!!

It would simply be a choice, one if made foolishly would result in a bad end, but a bad end not due to inherent sinful action simply because it was different than the “submitted relationship” people want.

In my own case, by the time I actually confronted my being transgender, I had also pretty much divested myself of all controlling relationships and was seeking to draw close to God everyday. In fact, as depression tore at me, and dysphoria grew worse, there was not really anyone I trusted who would not immediately say I was under demonic attack or try to “buck me up”. It was insulting and hurtful that they would think that I had not already recited every encouraging verse in the bible…I know them all, literally…it was painful that they would think me vulnerable to demonic influence given that I was daily interacting with God and crying out desperately for help.

Besides, I do think there are quite a few theological issues involved with another modern doctrine that I find specious (the notion that a believer can be demonized after they have been united with the Spirit of God) a doctrine built on a few instances from the days of Jesus in the flesh.  New Testament teaching regarding who controls one’s body, and who lives in that body when relationship with God is sought is full and pretty directive so as to infer that wrongs and sins would be the responsibility of an individual free will choice to deviate from clearly stated scriptural exhortations which are properly understood contextually and culturally.

I was deeply saddened when I read his rhetoric, that were I to confide my journey in someone trusted their immediate response would be to warn me of error and then I would be bound to cease and desist. It revealed that he considers transition to be wrong and a mistake and sinful in and  of itself…but without any biblical edict whatsoever, no scriptural authority at all, and absolutely zero examination of the science side of things to see if my decision is sound medically and practically.

Tragically, such an attitude does indeed preclude him as a potential consultant for life matters, for in taking the next steps after examining God’s word, I discovered that there are a plethora of wise reasons to embrace transition…and in light of no forbidding authoritative bible teaching, and nothing checking me in daily prayer, and nothing checking my spouse, and the presence of positive affirmation of this course via wholeness and health and a more robust and joyful life experience, transition seems to me to very much be an answer to prayer.

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There are three things that are alarm bells to me that I have been considering since our conversation that day.

One is the feminizing of the Holy Spirit. As we talked you referenced the Holy Spirit as “She” and “Her”. And you mentioned that you were now most often talking with Her (the Holy Spirit) and not the Father or the Lord Jesus. I do not see this sexual gender in the persons of the Godhead. Feminine attributes yes but not the exclusivity of specific sexual gender. I believe even our personal dialogue with God should be in accord with God’s word about Himself in scripture.

Okay…stop right there. First off, I did make it clear to him that I use those words for the Holy Spirit as part of my own personal relationship with the Holy Spirit…but I want to make a stronger point:

There is an assumed perverting of who God is by “feminizing” the Holy Spirit! Do you see that? As if calling the Holy Spirit the feminine expression of the Godhead to us somehow dirties God, and that only masculine descriptions are legitimate descriptions of God! What if over the years we have lost touch with the overall richness of the expression of God, and that restoring feminine pronouns to talking about God is needed and in order? I won’t bore you with the specifics, but just for example, one of God’s best names in the Old Testament is “El Shaddai” which means among other things “many breasted God”.

Really?? So we are to imagine a masculine god with many breasts? Or are we directed to instead consider a nursing mother dog, who has multiple food sources for multiple puppies, and the message is that God will nurture you and care for you like a mama dog her puppies! What is so bad about God having feminine attributes? And talking to God using feminine names? Is God that small and small hearted that God would shut His ears to avoid being besmirched?

I see arguments regularly which assure us that God is beyond and/or above gender…and thus saying “She” is inappropriate…

but the fact remains that “He” is still considered “appropriate” and correct!!!  What a freaking contradiction!!  If God is “beyond gender”, then logic tells us that either ANY pronoun is inappropriate, OR that God is big enough to not be offended by ANY pronoun one uses.

Frankly, I find anyone getting offended at the use of She for God is simply manifesting the internalized misogyny bequeathed them by the evils of the patriarchal paradigm that has imprisoned us all.

Also, notice how he characterizes gender as “sexual gender”…and that is one of the huge issues is that people reflexively associate sexuality and gender.  It was telling to me that he did not have the wherewithal to simply say “gender”.

Here is the kicker: God made humans in Their Image: male and female, which means that God is possessing qualities that we see revealed in male and female humans (and countless other ones I am certain)…but we are only permitted to use the male ones to talk about or to God, or God will get offended and smite us? Or somehow if I talk with the Holy Spirit and use “Mama” and “Her” as I do, then I will be ignored and even worse turned over to evil spirits and deceived? That simply doesn’t make any sense at all, either logically or theologically…and it certainly assumes a very mean view of the Nature of God.

“God’s word about Himself in Scripture…”

I dare you to make a study of divine gender terms in the old testament…

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Secondly I cannot agree with what you are doing with the body God gave you. I know you know 1 Corinthians 6 well but it does make clear that our bodies are not our own to do with as we please. They are made for God and belong to Him. Making such severe changes as you feel compelled to do and are doing certainly muddies the waters if not plain challenging the Lordship of Christ and His ownership of you.

*Charissa face-palms here*  Constance, you can explore that chapter for your ownself. Volumes are written that explain proper exegesis of it…in a nutshell, it is addressing visiting harlots for sexual contact, and even more specifically as a carry over from the kind of religious practice of that day which involved sympathetic magic, and sex in temples with priests and priestesses as acts of worship of the gods of the various cultures who required such activity.

The apostle is teaching that you belong to a collective spiritual entity called the Body of Christ if you are a Christian, and as such you are not to unite yourself with anyone or anything that would lay claim to that allegiance.

It also easily generalizes over to sexual conduct and the use of the body…but to say that these verses prohibit anything specifically other than sexual acts deemed to be illicit and out of bounds is ludicrous!

Can you see how one could use this verse by itself as an arrow to seek to enforce control of anyone for doing or being anything? It could apply to those who seek to keep others from piercing, or getting tattoos, it could apply to those who seek to enforce eating rules, or activities deemed harmful to the body such as professional football, it could be used to prohibit someone from getting surgery on a cleft palate, or on a leaky heart valve, or the removal of cancer-ridden breasts, and it goes on and on and on…(as an aside, I do indeed view my unwanted and wrong genitalia as a sort of “cancer to my soul, to my heart”).

No, Constance…we can be guided by what is specifically addressed, whether to do or to not do…and then we are in the wonderful arena of maturing in relationship, sharpening our ears, and growing in wisdom as we walk, doing our best to be kind, listen to Mama (Holy Spirit…just listen!), and apply the wisdom we have gleaned. At the end of the day, the one and only measure of the success of that is how much our heart looks like Jesus at the end of the quest.tumblr_ncjrcmD9gI1qczwklo1_1280

The third alarm for me is your decision to change your own name. This is very troubling to me and I am feeling strongly that this will be a point of departure from which any return will be most difficult. The authority to name belongs to God and our parents not to ourselves. To rename yourself seems to me to be a very serious thing to consider doing.

*Double face palm* First of all, I do believe that I was directed by the Holy Spirit to take this step, both in the name I settled on and the process of doing it.

Having said that, I would again encourage you to read every instance of a name change, and you will see that my friend has revealed his own belief and preference, but has not given any evidence to back that up. I would give my evidence, but I am sure I would bore you more than I have already!

The last thing I have to share is one I know personally very well. It is that it is definitely possible to be displaying the “fruits of the Spirit” and yet at the same time be deceived and strongly influenced by a spirit of the enemy. This was me and my life for quite a few years.

Classic double bind here. My only defense is that the fruits of the Spirit are in my life and growingly so…and Jesus said that we would know them by their fruits…I deny that I am deceived. The fruits of deception are not there. There is no teaching that I would be distorting or seeking a way around regarding transition! This is just an agenda driven double bind, and leaves me no way to “prove” I am not deceived.

I lead (sic) worship, was kind gentle, loving, patient, and joyful in varying degrees. Yet I was being deceived and influenced by a spirit that held me addicted and subject to pornography and the selfishness of sexual sin. It was not until the day I repented and confessed with as complete a transparency as I knew that Jesus delivered me through His Spirit. That spirit left and never returned. But in retrospect, I was deceived even while displaying some good spiritual fruit.

Ok, Constance…I was privy to this time. I can tell you that there is a very different take on these events, but in the interest of confidentiality, I am remaining silent on that.

I do want to point out an obvious issue, though: Sexual sin, sexual immorality, and pornography by extension are all things that are directly addressed with biblical teaching. As such, it would not be up to any one individual to decide for themselves what was right and what was not if they wanted to remain true to the core of what being a Christian is…

This is a huge difference between what and how the bible speaks in these areas, and what and how the bible is silent in transgender areas in general and transition issues in specific.

I can also assure you, that if one is capable of reading the bible, practicing the things being practiced, and having a “clear conscience”, that this is far more a signal of a so called spirit of deception.

I tend to view it far more practically…anything we feel bad about that we keep doing will eventually de-sensitize us to its harmful impact. It is not so much a spirit, as it is a habit of our heart and thus a tremendous bondage that we soon are in thrall to.  In this case, there was never a pretense that such activity was okay or sanctioned. There was no open display of this unashamedly, such as when I dress as myself freely and without sin, but rather it was hidden behavior, with great planning and scheming and sneaking around at work to keep it hidden and thus available for indulgence.   There was no knowledge by other people who had a stake in the relational implications…

In short, there was nothingcwhatsoever in common with his situation and my situation.  I find no scriptural prohibition or direction, on either gender change or transition. I have been open completely with my spouse, from the first day of our marriage til now, and she has been fully in the know and walking united with me in love. We have studied out every bit of information we can find for over 18 months. I have a fabulous therapist, to pursue all avenues. I have not “consulted” people from my past…frankly what happened this time was exactly what I thought would happen if I tried to.

At every turn, doors opened…this was after we started asking for doors to either open or shut as a partial way to receive guidance

Classic double bind again, right?  tumblr_n0uodj4yHY1sids82o1_500

Now I am praying for you.

(Now? NOW??? How does one take this?)

I would love to see you take time to get a second opinion.

What he is referring to is the counseling approach called reparative therapy. Basically this is a belief that all issues we have are due to experiential wounds we have endured. The assumption here is that I am transgender due to things that happened to me after I was born, and if I got healed of those wounds, my issues would resolve and disappear.

As a former counselour, uncertified but very active and informed and pretty good one, I can assure you that all the techniques there are to be healed of past wounds I have embraced…inner healing, deliverance, inviting the presence of the Holy Spirit to heal…what ever you have, I have tried it…and while there has been wonderful healing from wounds, and true growth and health, my dysphoria was never addressed, and since I had no idea there was such a thing as dysphoria, I was left feeling abandoned and condemned, not good enough.

The general literature regarding the reparative therapy approach is mixed at best and fruitless at worse. It has no great success rate, any more so than any therapeutic approach.

What does have a solid track record is transition. The results of transition are measurable improvements in mental health, quality of life, and general well being. If you wish, do a google search and discover on your won.

I am sure your counselor is caring and inciteful (sic) but without the presence of the Holy Spirit in prayer even she is unable to bring the depth of healing that is needed. Relief possibly but probably not wholeness.

Again…notice the assumption? That healing is what is needed (does a cleft palate need “healing”, or surgery?), that I am broken and not whole, and if I was whole I would not be transgender.

I don’t accept this. I say that as I get the hormones my brain and mind need I am growing into wholeness like any other woman. Any one of you, Constance, if you began to have your body flooded with hormones that contradicted your own internal sense of gender and self, why you would find yourself dysphoric. It is that simple!

And the clear inference that I am seeking relief…oh Constance, while I am so blessedly becoming right, there is no sense of relief when people that have known me for over 35 years begin to speak this way to me. And the prospect of more looms…

Lastly, the assumption that my counselor isn’t a christian and that the Holy Spirit is not big enough to use any means and/or tool to accomplish the will of God…tumblr_nau64oDG9d1t3jjjyo1_500

Your childhood stories are hurtful and I know the wounds are real. I just can’t see the path you are choosing as leading to real true restoration for these woundings. There is a dissonance that is unavoidable and hard to make peace with in this gender switch.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want to restate that “real true restoration” is good, necessary to every human being, and unless accompanied by the proper sex hormones needed for that person is powerless to address gender dysphoria.

Evidence? Buehler? Buehler? Dissonance with what? Unavoidable where?

Get this: I AM NOT MAKING A GENDER SWITCH!!!!!!!

I am embracing the miracle of modern technology that allows my body to grow into my already innate sense of who I am, what I am…Charissa, a woman, and lover of God and people.

You have in so many ways been a faithful and generous friend. There is a scripture stating “faithful are the wounds of a friend”.

I could enumerate them, the ways that I have been a faithful and generous friend…I won’t. Rather, I want to take a look at how in the midst of all the verses about friendship he chose to talk about that one which discusses wounding. I agree with the verse…the wounds of a friend are faithful…but now we must establish what a friend is, does, looks like, acts like, etc.  Sadly, it is my far more common experience to be a good friend to others than have them be a good friend to me…that is changing, thanks DDH!!!

If my writing has caused any more “wounding” please forgive me and know I am speaking from a heart that loves you and truth too much to remain silent.

You will take note of his assertion that he loves me and loves truth too much to remain silent…so let’s look at a few things there…first of all truth. What truth has he shown that he loves that I am not also loving? What truth has he laid out there as true truth that is authoritative and I am bound as a professing Christian to embrace? I contend he has not done this.

Thus, the truth he loves is his own truth. And wowsa do we all love our own truth, yes?

Next, I want to mention that he says that he cannot remain silent because of loving truth too much to do so. Quite simply this is an inversion of New Testament behavior in situations where there is no authoritative guide from scripture to give specific help…in those causes we are exhorted to put our sister, our brother and their own needs and wants over our own. Philippians 2 speaks well about this, and many other places do too…it is the habit of “Preferring others over ourselves”

Lastly, he claims he loves me too much to be silent. I am not rhetorical here. Where is the love again? Where has it been? What does it look like? Since we spoke last, where is the evidence of such deep love? And what will be the path going forward?

In faith.

Always your friend,

XXXX

Wow…just wow. So now comes my response. I kept it short and sweet. You will notice that I did not include a word of what I have written to you, as I truly think it would be fighting a tar baby. His mind is made up, and his heart is closed up…

…but I have written to you, Constance, because you just might read this, and get it in a new way, and be kind to someone and save their life…you just might be that cup of cold water to that one person who needs it or dies. And you just might find that I am speaking truth regarding the absolute certainty that God loves transgender people and is far more interested in their heart and character than They are their gender!

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Dear XXXX…

Thank you for taking the time to write your letter. I appreciated how you characterized my “public display of being transgender”…that statement is accurate in each respect: display, and being.

Please know I receive your intention and desire for my best. Your arguments are very familiar to me, things I have asked myself and worked through until I was at peace in a biblical sense. I spent sleepless nights in thought and prayer. I counted the cost of gender transition, such as I understood it to be. I am capable of engaging on these matters with eloquence in depth, detail and evidence.

However, I disagree with your conclusions, and I think the most fruitful option is to refrain from defending myself in a debate that is not likely to touch the heart. I do not think there is anything I can say that would cause you to feel better or rest easy in knowing that I am still okay with God and God okay with me.

I choose to be silent because I believe this best sets the stage for the possibility of continued whole relationship. I have found the courage and the grace to simply stand in the face of charges and accusations. Those things say more about the ones who make them than they do about me…as time passes, God will be shown true.

I know my hope lies in a life exonerated in choosing eternal transition from works to Grace and death to Life…my gender transition is very much a subset of that. I walk unashamed and covered in the precious blood of Jesus which is my birthright as God’s offspring…for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until That Day.

I want to state for the record that I am submitted to God, to Jane, and to trusted friends. To the very best of my knowledge I am not in rebellion and I utterly reject the assertion from both you and George that I am under a spirit of deception. I stand with a clean heart and conscience before God and man, and daily welcome the Holy Spirit in all of the Holy Spirit’s Divine Wisdom, counsel, conviction, and comfort.

I do want to say I am sorry to you for being so informal, poetic and intimate regarding what you called the feminizing of the Holy Spirit. This verbiage is to me in my heart and soul a prayer and relational “shortcut”. I was open with you that way in the spirit of our history together. I assumed you would recall my being a student of the word, committed to fidelity, one who has sought to be a workman approved…in these areas of my life, along with the bedrock areas of Christian Faith and Dogma, nothing has changed!

Our conversation was about the issues of being, gender and me, not about the nature of God, the use of gender referencing God and what we should or should not call Them. It was sloppy of me to add the burden to your heart of unnecessarily using feminine pronouns for the Holy Spirit and unwittingly placing a stumbling block before you. Please forgive me that unwise conflating of 2 things, either of which would be “an issue” by itself.

I will close by saying thank you for your letter, and that I will always do my best to be myself with you, open hearted and grateful to know you. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will manifest the will of the Father for us and bear the fruit in us and through us commensurate with that Life.

Remaining silent in Hope, refraining from speech on most of these things in Faith, and deferring to the Holy Spirit in all of them in Love…especially Love…

Charissa Grace White

*********************

If you are still here after all this, you are diehard indeed!! Thank you for reading.

Charissa Grace, who is heavy hearted, mourning, and still not ashamed of myself, of the Gospel, or of God in whom I put my Hope.

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UPDATE:  2 years later…this individual has not had any contact with me whatsoever…has not spoken one word to me.

This man who claimed to be a friend, and a follower of Jesus, whose professed life mission is to seek and save “the lost” has not even seen me since then or in any way, shape, or form even sought me out.

This says less about him as a person and MORE about the horrible lies and bondages he lives under inside his evangelical ghetto.

It has been painful escaping…I rejoice for the pain…and the gain.

 

A Transgender Activist on the Authenticity of ‘Transparent | Indiewire

A Transgender Activist on the Authenticity of ‘Transparent | Indiewire.

Constance…this will give you a very good insight into the daily life of a transitioning transgender person…especially one going from male to female (I can only assume about the female to male, but suspect that it is largely a commonly held experience).

Salient quote:

“…It’s not a man coming out as a woman. It is a transgender woman who is coming out. There’s a line in the beginning of the second episode where Jeffrey Tambor’s character, Maura, is talking to her eldest daughter. The daughter asks, “Does this mean you’re going to be dressing up like a woman?” And Maura replies, “My whole life I’ve been dressing up like a man.” That isthe distinguishing reality for trans people…”

(photo from the new Amazon series “Transparent”)

Protected: Charissa’s Grace Notes: One Year In

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Today is the first day of the rest of my life!

Dear Constance…it is official!  At 1:15:15 PM yesterday, the judge said the words…and I legally became me.

Charissa Grace White

I guess I am out there now…still have yet to do the entire company sit down and talk, which will be about 15 minutes…but things are moving along.

And yes…I did wake up this morning and feel totally different.  Not some massive quantitative change, but rather a deep and profound qualitative change.  I have often jokingly sang to myself “I Got a Name” by Jim Croce…well, now for real I do.

I went out to my car to leave work around noontime, to go home and get ready. I see a yellow legal pad with writing on the seat…and there is a vase with 6 beautiful lavender coloured roses!.  They were from my darling darling DARLING!!

CGW Flowers

 

I dressed nice, in a style that gets me lotsa compliments (Scorpio-Patrol I think you have seen the outfits??), and arrived walking straight and tall and in the right sort of way proud.  I looked everyone straight in the eye and smiled.  I was treated with deference by this old man there…I honestly do not think he realized I was transgender!  He was kind and interactive.

The clerk office opened, and within 5 minutes I had my papers and was on my way to a teeny courtroom.  It had 5 rows of benches, and felt like a mortuary funeral service chapel.

In the back, there was an advocate for battered women talking to a woman about a very very scary sounding man that she had been involved with.  I thought about how I had been treated by the old man.  I prayed that I would not have to sit through that case.

When the judge arrived, she walked forward…slim, serious, no nonsense, and appeared highly competent.  I was equal parts afraid and excited.

She called for me, and I stood, and then…

…she did this thing with her eyes and face that told me non-verbally “you are so brave for being here!”  I just know that is what she was saying.  I turned in my papers, and she read them over, the ghost of a smile playing at her eyes and hovering at the corners of her mouth…and then she took her pen, and brandished it!! And then she signed…announced that I was now Charissa Grace White, and openly congratulated me.

I walked out and down the stairs, and then in a rush I began to weep, overcome in the moment with the monumental implications of one loooonnngggg journey at last drawn to a close, and a new one well and truly begun.

The clerk was moved by my tears and much nicer…mayhap she figured out that this was a big deal?

I was alone.

Oh, I know you were there, but Mama had distanced everything, everyone…it was just me…and Her.  I went home and stood in our house, raised my hands in the air and upturned my face, and I prayed out loud to Her, thankful, grateful, supplicating…

…aware that I had started the first life ignorant of Her…and was beginning the second in relationship with Her, the most amazing indescribable being ever.

Later in the day, I was able to have a short conversation with my bff, and her words of life just laid down right beside the prayers I prayed, and then later in the evening, my darling and I opened a bottle of pink champagne and toasted many things.

I am out.

I am free.

I am Charissa Grace, my Mama’s daughter of grace and sister to the Great Precious One.

I am at last glad to be alive.

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Trans* Women Are Not Drag Queens — Everyday Feminism

Trans* Women Are Not Drag Queens — Everyday Feminism.

Constance…yes, it is very early.  I cannot sleep.  Usually I am good until the dread 3 AM.  But tonight sleep is shy and skert of the potential I face for conflict today…

I am meeting with a person who has indicated that he has “great difficulty” with my choice to transition.

Think about that:  this is a person I see less than a half hour a day…a person that I run into infrequently in everyday life…and yet somehow knowing that I am transgender is a burden unbearable to him, and the choice to transition is anathema and repulsive to the point that he wants to meet with me, so he can…what?

Tell me I am a freak?  Tell me that I should not transition?  Tell me to just suck it up and tough it out?

What…does he really think he is more creative, more insistent than my own heart for the last 48 years???  That I have not said these things to me already…and worse?

How does his life change if I transition…and how does it change if I do not (which is too late, by the way…I am never going back.  It is Charissa Grace full and free or the grave)?

No…I think what he doesn’t like is that someone whom he knows and assumed many good things about is now acting in ways that are unexpected and unusual…and this is stretching him.  It is challenging his lil boxes and tightly drawn lines…it is forcing him to confront things without the luxury of being able to write off the source of the conflict as a monster or immoral pervert…for he knows I am not that.

I ran across this link again today…and I may have posted it once already.  No matter…it is a pretty good piece defining things well.  I ask that you please read the piece…

…and then give us the chance to be.  Please??

Charissa

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Thanking Laverne Cox

I have been thinking about her recently…and I just want to say here that she is really walking an amazing example so far of being a visible and vulnerable woman in the public eye.

She is inspiring to me as a transgender person and someone I am somewhat looking up to…

…and I want to say thank you to her.  For being calm, collected, articulate and passionate.  For never giving in to hatred and striking back, but always affirming acceptance and kindness.

May Lady Grace bless you for the sacrifices this must entail.

Much respect, Laverne…love,

Charissa

lavernecox

Clues

Okay Constance…I am gonna confess a lil indulgence of ego:  I really like my new poem “Her Door, Her Red Door”, and frankly I am a little disappointed there have not been very many likes on it…but I am also not surprised for it is inference, symbol, veil, subtly blatant while blatantly subtle…

I actually and for real think it is one of my most skillful poems to date.

But I get that it is not necessarily appealing…but consider, if you would, the poem itself in the context of the work of the poet:  I once said “The poet is a desperater man than most. He must get it all down before the ages are up. Which, as any poet will tell you Is A BITCH!” (waaay back in 1982)…

…I was trying to say that there is a “job” in poetry, or perhaps a better word is quest?  No matter…if you consider yourself a poet (and I do) then you find this inability to see life as any other thing but a poem and events/circumstances/happenings are all snapshots into the heart of the poem.

Thus, when I write I try to emulate the layers, hidden and revealed, that comprise this Mystery we swim in.

In “Her Door, Her Red Door”, you find me operating on a few very intentional levels…I do not want to just lay it out there.  That is a bit too clinical, sort of like the difference between sex education class in Middle School Health class, and the wonder and poignant pain of Love’s First Kiss.  But I do want you to have some sense of the structure, the themes and the interplay of them.  I can be obtuse…lol.

First of all, consider that it is a poem written by a trans-gender woman who is in the midst of transition.  This overall context puts the other elements in perspective and frames the picture.

Secondly, it is a poem dedicated to a person whom I have openly spoken of and the role she has in my life.  That role has permutations and multiple facets when considered poetically.  What is her “business” with me?  What is mine with her?  What is our mutual end?  And more fundamentally, Constance, what is your position in all this as well?  Are you somehow about the same things, in the salient areas of becoming that you face?

Next comes the unfolding of my view of our essential business:  becoming.  She is a facilitator of mine, and as I participate in her provisions I aid hers as well…and each of you, as you become day to day, may perhaps find touchstones in this poem’s point of view and approach to that becoming.  You will, of course, have to make inference and feel your way under the sheet to the true bones of your own transitions in this life as a sentient, conscious being stuck between the macrocosm and the microcosm infinities, and with eyes…

I choose a physical aspect of her and invest that with meaning far other than the expected trope culturally in our pornography laced times…there are only three capital letters used in this poem.  That is on purpose.

There are obvious references to musicians…why specific ones?  Why them?  What are the specific characteristics of those humans?  (Remember to ask this inside the “frame” of the picture I mentioned earlier).  There are single words that link back to lyrics, and those lyrics in turn echo back the essential business of this magic woman, which echo back to my own quest of becoming.

There are many puns laced throughout, intentionally slanted in relation to the core…that way they can make the connection and then…like leaves in early autumn, gracefully drop away once their purpose for the tree is completed, and reveal the strong and vital branches of the tree beneath that leafy veil…

The door:  resist the temptation to skim over this, thinking it is obvious…no?  Perhaps, like usual with me, it is a sonar reading on a larger diamond lurking in the dark of unknown knowns…but if you will try, you may very well enjoy letting those things bubble up inside you…from your heart.

Lastly, and remember that I have said before that wine and the process of creating it is for me the central metaphor of the universe, think about the poem again, in entirety (which means you can reinterpret the words on the 4 layers of existential being: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual)…and once you have that palate built?  Start to pull elements from one read through, and combine them with elements of the other…sensual elements mixed with sacred elements…becoming and unbecoming mixed with living and dying…

…and always, always:  Communion.  Bread…Wine…in the presence of knowing knowers broken and shared.

We are given our birth…but we have to achieve our being, and enter in.

I will literally be grateful to Heather for eternity.  She is truly one of the best, and I beg Lady Grace that I am privileged to share space in paradise with her…Be blessed, dearest friend.

You too Constance…I hope these clues assist you into at least understanding why I am so proud of this one.  It was “easy hard” to write down and weave, and it tested my limits at this stage of my becoming…as a poetess, as a prophetess, as a woman, and as a lover of God.

In heartfelt passion,

Charissa Grace

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On the Stigmatization of Gender-Variant People

“As long as trans women are seen as less desirable, illegitimate, devalued women, then men will continue to frame their attraction to us as secret, shameful, and stigmatized, limiting their sexual interactions with trans women to pornography and prostitution.

And if a trans woman believes that the only way she can share intimate space with a man is through secret hookups or transactions, she will be led to engage in risky sexual behaviors that make her more vulnerable to criminalization, disease, and violence; she will be led to coddle a man who takes out his frustrations about his sexuality on her with his fists; she will be led to question whether she’s worthy enough to protect herself with a condom when a man tells her he loves her; she will be led to believe that she is not worthy of being seen and must remain hidden.”

-Janet Mock, Redefining Realness

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WATCH: Laverne Cox Explains It All to Wendy Williams | Advocate.com

tumblr_n5d29sAjxy1rk4ewwo1_500WATCH: Laverne Cox Explains It All to Wendy Williams | Advocate.com.

Constance, The Advocate says it very well below:

On The Wendy Williams ShowMonday, Laverne Cox, star of the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, acquitted herself admirably as she answered Williams’s questions and provided what amounted to a short on-air Trans 101.

When asked “What is transgender?” Cox replied, “Transgender … very basically means that the gender you identify as is different than the one you are assigned at birth. Very simple. And transgender people’s experiences are really very different, so there’s really no one sort of like blanket transgender experience, so it’s really about listening to individuals in terms of who they are and accepting people on their own terms.” The audience responded with cheers.

Williams immediately followed up with “You’ve got breast implants?” but Cox wasn’t going to go there and gently pushed back, even as Williams described the appearance of Cox’s breasts as “tasteful.” Cox responded, “I’ve chosen not to talk about any of this stuff I’ve gotten done because I think so often when trans people’s experiences are talked about, we far too often talk about surgery and transition, so I don’t talk about that, but I’m very happy with the situation,” clearly referring to her own body.

Williams’s questions didn’t get any more insightful after that, but Cox handled her queries with grace and intelligence throughout.

Williams came under fire earlier this year for similarly uneducated, body-focused comments made on her radio show regarding transgender athlete Chloie Jonsson, who Williams said was unfairly wanting to compete in the women’s division of fitness competition CrossFit. After backlash from trans advocates and allies, Williams tweeted an apology for those remarks, positioning herself as a “long LGBT ally and GLAAD supporter,” and pledging to use the experience to become better educated on issues facing transgender people.

Dialogue: the key to kind acceptance of another person

Think about a time when you met someone, someone you instantly clashed with, without a word being spoken…go ahead, I will wait…we have all had that happen.  Now:  think about someone that happened with, and then as time passed and you got to know them you discovered you were totally wrong about them, that your reaction had been all within you, and was unrelated to them completely.  I am not going to wait on this one, for these sorts of endings are more rare…at least in my life they were.  Sadly, far too often I just avoided the person and then lived…until I forgot about them, and went on in my cushy-comfy zone of complacency.

Wanna know the basic root of this phenomenon?  I think it is Xenophobia:  fear of the unknown.  A person will look different, or act different, or some other factor about them is something unknown to us…so we clench up, clam up, and withdraw…and then make up all sorts of rationales to justify our low  and venal rejection of a fellow creature made in Their image.

Generally, at least for me, dialogue precedes the change of heart and mind that I undergo when I have been in this boat.  After talking with the person (not at, or over), I discover that we have so much more in common by virtue of our shared human experience and reality than we are different.  Especially when I was firmly locked away in the christendom ghetto…I dared not talk with different people, unless I totally dominated the exchange in a monologue “devoted to evangelism”, but in truth designed to shield and protect myself from having to stretch and include someone in my world.

I think this is why so many so-called “evangelistic-efforts” end fruitless, and at times even exacerbate the divide between we who call ourselves “saved” and they whom we designate as “needing to be saved”.

Genuine dialogue bypasses all this.  Trust me, if your faith is living and genuine, and you are in relationship with Jesus more than with His book, then you will not be able to miss the chances to give an account for the Hope that is in you…they will beg to hear why you seem different (you do seem different…don’t you???).  You will find that connection…and begin to learn that the things you hid behind as reasons to not connect with people have become touchstones of punctuation in the quilt of common experience.

This is one of the main reasons I post essays on a lot of topics, and other people’s interviews of interesting people…and it is why I recommend reading the interview with Janet Mock that I post below.  It originally appeared at http://www.rookiemag.com/2014/05/janet-mock-interview/ and it is a fabulous window into the existence of one of the most influential people in our times.  Janet is uniquely positioned to touch a lot of spheres in life, and she is articulate enough to create that dialogue.

Dialogue is not something that is sorta like the old “I won’t hit you if you don’t hit me” game…that is stasis, and dead waters.  No…dialogue is living, interesting, and often the very vessel They can get into to reach our hearts and minds.

Check out the interview…I am pretty sure you will be glad you did.

Love always, and Grace upon Grace…

Charissa

 

You Can Be Free: An Interview With Janet Mock

In which we talk about her feminist icons, how teenagers are way cooler than the media thinks, and why she identifies with Tracy Flick.

Photo by Aaron Tredwell.

Pardon the hyperbole, but Janet Mock may be the best person ever. I felt this way after reading her 2013 book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More, a beautiful, powerful memoir that follows Janet from her childhood in Hawaii, where she grew up as a transgender girl, to her current position as a high-profile (and still young!) writer and activist who inspires people everywhere to live exactly as they want to live.

She decided to come out as trans in a 2011 essay in Marie Claire magazine; since then, she has worked hard to increase the visibility of transgender people, including starting the hashtag #girlslikeus, which encourages trans people to share their stories on Twitter. (She is also very good at social media.)

My feelings about her greatness only intensified when I actually got to talk to her on the phone last month, when she’d just returned home to New York from one of her many college speaking gigs. You know how sometimes you’re talking to someone and they’re just so on it that their voice crackles with electricity? That’s how Janet was.


JULIANNE: So much of Redefining Realness is your very specific memories from your childhood, some of which are so wrenching! How did you remember all of that, and how were you able to get it all out in your writing?

JANET MOCK: I started by writing journal entries. I made a commitment to myself to write 500 to 1,000 words every morning—to just catalog every memory, even if it was just a fragment, on paper. Once I really got into that space and got disciplined, I was able to re-imagine what happened and to mine the feelings and the details of that time period. That’s why there are a lot of pop culture references, because I watched so much TV! I would try to remember certain things by asking myself, What song lyrics was I trying to memorize? What type of dance moves was I trying to learn?

But then you have to remember the pain, too, and that was the hardest part—the wrenching part, as you say—having to revisit that, not as an adult, but going back as a child and feeling it again as a young person who didn’t have much agency over their body and how it felt to go through those traumatic events. So I just had to be very kind to myself as a writer, but also kind to those who wronged me, kind about the mistakes people made and how they contributed to my pain.

As a fellow writer, I have found when you’re accessing those painful things, there is an instinct to lie to yourself, in order to protect yourself. How did you avoid that?

There are certain moments in the book where I call myself out for wanting to soften things or exclude things, and that was part of being transparent. I was committed to being transparent not just through the stories I chose to tell, but throughout my writing process. I talk about my mother’s suicide attempt, and about not wanting to [write about it] because I didn’t want to see her that way. Also, some of the details of the sex work I went through as a teenage girl—sometimes I wanted to erase those from the record of my life. But being honest about that actually helped me. It relieved me from my silence and shame, and hopefully it can help other people feel that sense of relief about something that may be heavy that they’ve been holding on to for a long time.

Was wanting to find that relief one of the reasons you started writing the book?

Yeah. At first I wasn’t writing with the intention of making a memoir—I just did it ’cause I wanted to have a record for myself. It was a selfish project—there was no sense of intersectionality or social-justice jargon or anything like that. It was just about me, this girl, and her story and her pain. I was trying to get it as raw as possible on the page so that I’d know that it was real.

But when I stepped forward publicly in Marie Claire, I was like, Wow, there’s a powerful story here that I think I’m supposed to tell. I don’t mean that in a boastful way—there just aren’t many books by young marginalized women like myself who did what I did, the way I did it.

Since that Marie Claire piece came out, social justice ideas and words like intersectionality have become way more widespread, especially for young people, partly because of Tumblr. Have you seen a shift?

Ooh, Tumblr’s powerful, yes. Those words are very powerful tools for describing this oppression. And it’s great that some people have access to them—but most people don’t. For me, it was super important to not use those terms in the book, because they exclude a lot of people who don’t have educational access, or who may not be engaged in social-justice stuff, but who want to be enlightened about things, to have their political consciousnesses raised a bit. I wanted to write the book for everyone—including that girl who I was in seventh grade who didn’t even know the term transgender. I wanted to give her a book so she could also feel like she was in the know, without being talked down to or made to feel like she has to aspire to something “higher” when she already has all the knowledge she needs to define her own experience. It’s not for me to define it for her. So I wanted to use words and language that she understands.

Your book has done a lot to help trans people be recognized in the larger culture. Did anything help you feel recognized that way? There aren’t that many books out there like your book.

My reflection of myself has always been a composite of many images and people that I have met along the way. I talk a lot about Beyoncé and Clair Huxtable and Toni Morrison, and I talk about the trans women who were in my life as a teenager, and the women around me when I was growing up, my father’s sisters, my grandmother, and my mother. I saw all of these women as mirrors, and made them into my own little mirrored mosaic.

But regarding the whole genre of “trans books”—I guess they would call them “transition stories” or “transition books”: So many of them do not have the intersection of youth, and that’s pretty important, because young people oftentimes don’t have much body agency in our culture. Like, your parents can literally pick you up and take you somewhere and put you wherever they want and tell you want clothes you can wear and what clothes they’re willing to buy you. All of these things are what make finding yourself and expressing yourself and your own authenticity difficult [when you’re young]. That’s one of the things I notice when I speak to young people, that sense of struggling with their lack of agency. I just tell them that, yes, you do have agency, despite your parents. Live your life on Twitter, put up some selfies! Reblog some things! That sense of self-representation is so important.

In terms of trans women, I’m happy that there are more of us visible in mainstream media. Platforms like Tumblr and YouTube allow people to create images that they don’t see in the mainstream media—and to also talk back to mainstream media when they fuck up. Rookie is a testament to that!

Thank you, we’re trying! You’ve talked about how reading the work of several female authors of color—like Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, and Toni Morrison—helped you get to a place where you could “just be.” As you were reading them, did you feel like you were being seen?

I think the first one I was exposed to was Maya Angelou, in probably eighth- or ninth-grade English class, when we read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Being the only black student in class I was like, Oh god, we have to read this? I knew everybody was gonna look at me and think this was my experience. But then I read it, and I was like, Oh my god, this is my experience! It was powerful to read—specifically the parts where she talks about sexual abuse as a child. That was something that I had never told anyone I had gone through, so seeing that someone had written it down in a book that we were reading in class, I was like, Oh my god—this exists in the world?

So that was one of those things where I was like, I need to go to the library and read more books. Because I also didn’t have access to books, unless it was school. (I always talk about my youth struggle of never being able to order anything from the Scholastic catalog that was passed around in class, and always yearning for those books delivered to me the following week!) [Reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings] prompted me to get a library card and just sit among those stacks and read books by women who looked like my self-image. That was important to me, because [those women] lived the life that I saw myself living one day, as a black woman. In my own reality, that didn’t exist for me yet. I was this trans girl who wasn’t out, who wasn’t revealing herself to the world or even to herself. It was so helpful to be able to look into those books and be like, Wow, this is what life could be like for me.

But the top one would be Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. For me, that book was everything. The idea of this woman on a quest to find herself and to find the right kind of love and fulfillment and identity and not being smashed into her community’s fantasies of her—that gave me so much agency. It pushed me to dream of greater possibilities for myself. It just blasted my mind open! You can be free!

What were you like as a teenager?

By the time I turned 13, I had met my best friend, Wendi. When you have a pivotal bestie, you kind of become the same person but you also complement each other. Wendi was so unabashedly unapologetic about who she was that no matter what I did—even when I started transitioning—I could never seem as “out there” as her. I was always slightly in her shadow, which gave me safety. From 12 years old all the way until we were 18, we were like close close close tight. So when you ask me what I was like, I can’t talk about my teenage self without talking about Wendi, because we’re so linked.

But I was very internal, if that makes sense. I think I was a deeper thinker than my best friend was. I enjoyed the library. I enjoyed quiet space, because I didn’t have that at home. But I also wanted attention, right? I was always kind of seen as a natural leader—people listened to me, and what I said mattered. So I never felt as though I was dismissed.

I loved school, and I was someone that people would ask for style advice. I always seemed like I was with it. I wasn’t a popular girl, but people liked me. I wasn’t ever going to be the prettiest girl in school, because I was a girl that wasn’t even supposed to exist. But I hung out with the popular girls, and they were my friends, so that gave me access points. It was almost like I was tolerated because I had these cool friends. So I always felt like I was internal, but I bet a lot of people from high school would remember me. I felt like I was invisible, but I knew I wasn’t, because I was so visible.

I think that once you’re out of high school, you start to understand that the way people see you does not necessarily line up with how you see yourself.

Mm-hmm. I had this sense of like…oh my god, I was such a victim. But then I realized that I’d internalized what people think trans people go through in high school. Like, it was tough, but high school was tough for a lot of people! I’m sure that my multiple layers of identities that I inhabit made it more difficult, but to be honest, I enjoyed high school. I wanted to go every day.

It wasn’t my peers who gave me problems—it was mostly teachers who didn’t understand how I could thrive, how I could be so liked, how I could be in marching band and debate club, how I could be captain of the volleyball team and be elected a student leader and become a peer mediator. They didn’t understand how a trans girl could do all those things, so it’s almost like they didn’t want it to be true.

When I was in the eighth grade, me and Wendi started a petition to get the intermediate school to allow us to wear makeup. [Laughs] I didn’t include this in my book because it’s something I forgot, but other people remembered us going around with a clipboard and some notebook paper and getting people to sign a petition so that we could wear makeup. In my memory [Wendi and I] just walked into school wearing makeup. I don’t remember ever getting in trouble for wearing makeup. I was that student, though, that’s who I was. When I watch Election, I’m like, Oh, I was soooo Reese Witherspoon!

Related, the times I’ve seen you speaking on TV, you seem to have so much grace and poise. Where do you learn those things?

In the mirror!

Do you think [poise is] something you can learn, or do you just embody it?

[Laughs] I feel like because I’ve had to juggle so much, that there’s not much that bothers me. There are a lot of high-pressure things that are stressful—especially live TV appearances! They’re so stressful, no matter what. Even if it’s a “safe” environment with a host that you really like, it’s still super stressful. What grounds me in this idea of having “good composure” or being eloquent or graceful is over-preparedness. Over-preparing puts me at ease and allows me to be present when I’m there. I can control how I act, how I react, how my face looks, how I sit, and what comes out of my mouth, which allows me to appear as though I’m totally at ease. It call comes from just growing up, juggling a lot at home, family dynamics, my own struggles with identity—wanting to be great, you know? Daring for greatness. Juggling all of these things was the boot camp. But preparedness is what grounds me. Knowing your environments so you can expect them, and even knowing the failings of your culture. Like, if you’re going into a racist, capitalist, sexist corporate environment, and you know what it is and its failings, then you can know how to operate around it. You kinda seem like #unbothered.

What do you do when you are suffering, and how do you help your friends when they are suffering?

The space of suffering, I struggle with, because I’m part of a community that’s so steeped in trauma. A lot of people talk about trans women of color and the violence that we deal with. But when we’re together, we don’t talk about that. Because the world will remind us of that. We know that when we walk in the world, we are under attack. We understand that. And so when we get together, we wanna talk about Beyoncé and have a couple cocktails, you know? Hang out and just be. Just be happy. Being happy together builds our sisterhood, but it also builds our resolve and it’s just like, This is revolutionary for us to be in this world and its suffering and to deal with suffering, but be fucking happy, too. We don’t need to sit in it all the time, because we exist in it.

Do you keep inspirational Post-it notes around your workspace?

Well, I do have one that my boyfriend, Aaron…he was listening to an audiobook about the I Love Lucy show—it’s random, but he loves inside-Hollywood stories. The head writer who helped them create that juggernaut of a television show said the two things that matter in Hollywood are ownership and perception. So I have a Post-it note that says ownership + perception.

The work that I do, it really informs me. I want to own the content I make—I don’t want to just be a subject on someone else’s show. I want to be leading those conversations. “Perception” is the idea of definition–I can create the image of myself that I allow others to see. And I can maintain my boundaries in a public world.

Also, I have a sticker on my planner that says It’s your turn to change the world.

Speaking of, I read that you work with Youngist, a platform for young people to do citizen journalism and have an amplified voice in mainstream media. What do you do there?

I mostly just giving editorial advice, but I think it’s so important for any silenced group of people, like young people, to have their own platforms. Everyone loves to talk about millennials—I guess that’s you guys!—but it’s important to give them power to have their own voice. Everyone always asks me, “What advice would you give young people?” and I’m always like, young people know exactly what they wanna do! If they want advice from me, that young person will come to me, you know? They know their experiences. They know what they’re going through. They know who they are. And my job is not to talk down to them, or to give them some aspirational message. It’s just to let them know that they have all the power to determine their own lives, to define them, and to declare them.

Youngist takes the political and pop culture news and really gives [millennials’] take on it, instead of older people always being like, “The millennials are taking selfies! They’re so absorbed with themselves!” It’s like, uh, no, look on YouTube, look at what they’re doing.

It’s nice to hear you say that—those selfie articles are so make-fun-able.

It’s always like, some 50-year-old cisgender white hetero man talking about young girls and what they’re doing. It’s like, this is so pervy, first of all! [Laughs] It’s these people who think all young people are the same. No, they’re not! It’s really simplistic and reductive, and I think young people can just, like, grab their computers and blow shit up. ♦

Easter Understandings Dawn

We all of us move…from unbeing to being…and back.  Someday we will rise above and always be in that wonderful moment that is beyond the endless perpetuation of minutes piled up and raining relentless on our weary bones.  Someday we transcend time, while still retaining the pleasure of memory, but cleansed and healed, and a history filled and made whole.

We all of us move…from unknowing to knowing…from hiding to being found and known.

This Easter period that happened to me…both things alluded to above.

Last year was a time of such horror, such destruction and wrenching that I had at last despaired that God was present and listening.  In spite of the years of presence with me…in spite of healings, miracles, inspirations, provisions, the walls had finally caved in.  All I knew to do to be successful turned to dust.  Everyday was filled with absurd and unpredictable emergencies.  Betrayal from individuals in places of power was rife and thick and without remorse, quarter or mercy.

Prayer, fervent, loud, desperate…unheeded and evocative only of the towering and dark silence of the cosmos expanding into nothing.

Prayer, soft and plaintive and tremulous in the agony of pain…unheeded and rebounding on brass skies closing off all avenues for me.

The new year came, and over time Lady Grace began to once again make Her person and voice known to my heart, and She spoke on behalf of Jesus and the Father…tenderly.  Simply.

Distilled and common words, but lively with living Life of Life.

She taught me to live again, and drew me close again…and it was not some mtn top experience, or mighty religious event.  On the contrary, it was so basic as to be insulting to the pride of the eyes which wants its religion to be towering, solemn and stately.

And She bubbled in my thoughts, and in my heart, and in my words, and in my deeds…present within like salt in a dish hidden and yet influential.  She was gravity, drawing me to the Father and to Jesus and once again into the cuddle that kept me from death for decades.

On Good Friday morning, we set out for the beach…me packing our bikes, all our clothes for riding and other equipment we would need.  I planned that we would do rides each day, and since I began HRT we are equally yoked in our cycling speeds and approach.

We got to our destination, unpacked, and…discovered that I had left my cycling cleats home!  And my cycling shorts home!!  As my bike has clipless pedals, I cannot ride safely without those shoes, 3 hours away!

I began to cry, feeling so stupid and frustrated and thick!

My baby encouraged me, and soothed me…so I got up to wash my face and go to the bathroom…

……….KER-PLUNK-SPLOOSHY!……………………..

what was that?  omfg omfg that was my

smart phone in the toilet bowl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Aaaaaaaaaaaccccckkkk!!

Fished it out, tried to see if it was ok, and it just died, blacker than the sadness I felt at my complete and utter ditzy-dumb-scatterbrained idiocy!

I wept more…googled what to do, and as my baby had already told me, and I did not listen cus I was too upset, I was supposed to put the phone in rice and walk away.  So we did.

After a few minutes, say 30 minutes later, I found myself talking to Lady Grace…but instead of the desperation of the past year, or the complaints or the agonies, I just talked together with Her.  And She told me that all was well, all was in Her gaze already, and She was making a way that was simply HERS, and not mine!  And I could either fret and agonize until Her ways came to be, or I could enjoy being alive and Her daughter and deeply loved child…She had secured me, on a new journey to a land that She would show me as we arrived.

Quite honestly, I was shocked at my ready and easy acceptance of Her words, and as I embraced them, they embraced ME…in a peace and quietude that clung like foggy mists to the craggy boughs of the gnarled and beautiful scrub fir trees near our room.

The weekend went by, one of the very best in my entire life…and quite literally the very first Easter for me as a fully aware and awake and transitioning woman.  I am in blossom and bloom…She is that within me.  Each hour filled with joy and packed with contentment.

Sunday morning rolled around, and I decided to check on that phone…battery in, and…

there!  It came back, resurrected from the grave on Resurrection Morning!

Somehow this seems a predictive parable for me for this coming season…oh, and let’s not forget the gift of the painting I received!  Bare trees in the background, tall and stark, and a wild pear tree in full blossom there rioting in joyous bloom!

Just like me…Charissa Grace Blooming finally and here to stay!

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Opportunity to Make a Difference!

Hi Constance…sorry for the dearth of poems this week…all my ideas are piling up in my lil pea-brain and percolating like bees in the spring clover fields!

In the meantime, please check out the things I am re-blogging, as each one has content that I consider to be important and representative of what life is like for transgender people, or great educational material, or pointing to the blogs of individuals I deeply respect and believe to be doing deep and transformative work in breaking the old paradigms regarding gender and sexuality (Thanks Dara!!  🙂 )

The opportunity below is something concrete you can do, but I repost this primarily for the links at the bottom of the article…please, take courage and click through on them…to truly gain passion and fire in your gut that you will need to endure the kickback from privileged individuals who see their inherent power evaporating and knowing they will have to stand on their own merit as human beings, on their character or lack thereof.

Take heart, knowing that in a generation we can look back and know we counted the cost and paid the price for children to walk in greater and greater liberty.

God Bless!  Love, Charissa

 

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Show Support For The Statue

    1. Petition byPalm Springs, CA
    2. Thomas Clinton

 

If you all will find it in your heart to sign into your Facebook and send this out to your friends or send this out via email to your friends it would be greatly appreciated.

It is the dream of a few members of our community to donate a statue to Palm Springs California, in memory of those persons that have been victims of savage violence against Gender Identity and Gender Non-Conforming persons for no more than being different. This has never been done before and it is believed that one of the questions that may be asked by Palm Springs Parks and Recreation Department when presented for approval, is, “Would the Community Support It?”

The Statue will be hand carved from rare Black Marble, weighing close to 7000 lbs, and approximately four feet across. It will be a gender neutral statue, to represent all that should be remembered and encourage others that violence is not the way. The circular form itself will have the different land masses to represent these victims throughout the world. Rising from the void in the North Pacific Ocean will be a gender neutral face breaking from societies predetermined restraints placed upon them, looking up as to ascend and for the desire of peace and hope for all.

In front of the statue will be a matching headstone and on that headstone it will say:

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Nov. 20th

Peace and Respect over Hate.

It is our hope that this statue will bring public awareness that violence is not the way and all people equally deserve Peace and Respect over Hate.

By signing this petition, it will show your desire to either participate in the annual event on Nov. 20th in Palm Springs California, or that you support this action and may one day come to Palm Springs and see the statue and reflect and give your respect to those that should not be forgotten. If you wish to have more information about the project or wish to donate, our website has a secured PayPal account at:http://www.transgenderdayofremembrance.com/.

If you have questions about what Gender Identity and Gender Non-Conforming persons are who have been victims of brutal and savage violence, examples as to what this statue will represent are shown, but not limited to what is documented below:

Transgender 19 Year Old Teen Burned to Death. (MI. 2011)http://la.gopride.com/news/article.cfm/articleid/23612500

Transwoman brutally assaulted in a McDonalds (Md. 2011):

http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2011/09/13/woman-sentenced-to-5-years-in-rosedale-transgender-attack/

Homophobic Teen Set Gender Non-Conforming teen on Fire on Bus (Ca. 2013): http://www.katenews2day.com/homophobic-teen-set-transgender-on-fire-on-bus-richard-thomas-16-set-luke-sasha-fleischman-18-on-fire-for-wearing-a-skirt-aboard-a-bus/

Man Beats Transwoman to Death (Ca. 2013):

http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/man-arrested-beating-death-trans-woman-southern-california210913

Transwoman Bound Beaten With a Soup Can and Skillet and Shovel (Ca. 2002):

http://articles.latimes.com/2005/jul/05/local/me-gwen5

Transgender Woman Beaten To Death in Fontana California. (Ca. 2013)

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/08/22/suspect-sought-in-murder-of-transgender-woman-in-fontana/

Horrific Beatings of Transgender Women in Hollywood California. (Ca. 2013)

http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/man-arrested-horrific-beating-trans-woman-hollywood240613

Parolee Sought in Transgender Murder Hollywood. (Ca. 2009)

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?id=7020155

Toddler Boy Assaulted for Wearing Pink Headband in Wal-Mart. (2013)

http://www.mommyish.com/2013/07/31/toddler-boy-called-a-faggot-at-walmart-for-wearing-pink-headband/

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
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Visit us at ELLE.com

Your Happy Daughter

Unquenchable, I sally forth in song
Unbreakable, I shatter into view.
Unmakeable, I plop onto the wheel
Unanchored now, I give myself to You.

Come down, come close, come change this mottled clay
Into the Living Woman that I am.
Take every barb and barrier stinging sharp
And give Your song, that bright celestial jam

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Let Heaven flow into my tattered soul
Let earth be rent and give up all my dead.
I rise remade, renewed from sorrow’s bed
Your daughter, touched, delivered, and made Whole.

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What an Edifying and wonderfully encouraging article.

My sincere thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Adam Hunt, who posted an amazing apology and educational article about what we transgender humans face regularly.  Coming from the gay community, this is huge, for it is exactly like he says, and unfortunately some of the worst hatred and vitriol directed at us comes from Gay and Lesbian identified humans, and that hurts even more than the regular kinds of hatred, for they really ought to know better, and have more empathy.

Thank you sooo much, Adam!!!

Dear Trans Persons Everywhere, I’m Sorry for Being a Bad Gay

Posted: 12/20/2013 8:27 pm

 

Apology
I wasn’t always an ally to the trans community. In fact, it was only a little over a year ago that I had pretty awful opinions about the trans community and the struggles they face. (“Why can’t they just accept that if they have a penis, then they’re a dude?”)

But then something happened. I met some people who changed my life and the way I see the world, the gender binary, and so forth. You see, it was really easy to judge what a trans person goes through, because I didn’t know any trans people. I thought drag queens were exactly the same as trans people (with a little more makeup and an extra boa or two). I also just assumed that a trans woman was just an overly effeminate gay male who wanted so much to be submissive that he decided to get an operation to have his dick chopped off. I know. I wasn’t a great human being, but is it really that far off what many members of the gay male community think? Or society at large? Maybe not, but that doesn’t make it okay.

I have these friends, and they’re some of the greatest parents I’ve ever had the privilege to know. Their fabulously autistic daughter was working in her phonics book when she came across the question: “Would a prince wear a fancy gown to the ball?” Her answer: “Sure! If he likes the dress, he should wear it everywhere!” It’s astounding that the one diagnosed with a social interaction “disability” is also the one with the purest innate understanding of gender identity and expression. It’s not a complicated notion for her, yet many of us in a progressive educated community can’t wrap our heads around the concept.

What it really comes down to is this: if a trans person is telling you he or she or ze is offended by the language you’re using, are you going to be the asshole that keeps doing it anyway? If a person says they’re a particular gender, whether you agree or not doesn’t change how they want to live their life. Does that sound like anything you’ve faced in the struggle for acceptance?

We’re an LGBT community, but somehow in our gay agenda we have lost sight of the misunderstandings and external ignorance transgender persons face on a day-to-day basis. So to keep it simple for now (because there is indeed so much more to learn), here are five things you can do to be a better trans ally. I mean, if we don’t stick together, what sort of community are we?

1. Pronouns: A person who was pronounced male at birth but identifies as a female (M2F) is a female. Don’t identify her with male pronouns (he, his, him…). It’s one of thosemicroagressions that can really tear at a person’s heart. The same goes for someone who is F2M, but the opposite.

2. “Cisgender” v. “Normal” or “Regular”: Refer to a non-trans person as “cisgender” or “cis” when needing to disclose their non-transgender status. When you refer to a non-trans person as “normal,” you’re effectively calling a trans person abnormal. Not cool.

3. Operations: No operation necessary to identify as a particular gender. It’s not about body parts, remember?

4. Gender and Sexuality: Very different things. Just because someone is trans does not mean they’re gay or lesbian. There are straight trans people just like there are straight cis people.

5. Verbiage: How dumb do you think a person sounds when he or she says, “Moving to L.A. gayed that boy,” or, “I heard Jennifer has been lesbianed by her friends at Hot Topic”? The same goes for when someone is “transgendered.” “Transgender” is not a verb. I can’t “transgender” a person any more than a church in Idaho can “straight” me, so make it easier on yourself. Drop two letters, or eight! It’s “transgender” or “trans” (or even “T”).

Gay dudes, we’re awesome. We have an awesome culture and history. We live awesome lives and go to awesome parties. We volunteer for awesome causes and we have awesome taste in just about everything. It’s hard to believe we can be more awesome, but we can! Be an awesome ally. Don’t you remember being told you were unnatural or against God’s creation? Were you ever isolated? Haven’t we been fighting for the rights we deserve? We have a lot of work to do to gain full acceptance and equality, and our trans brothers and sisters have even more. We’re stronger together, so if we can change some minor behaviors and pave the way for understanding, then why not?

If you’re looking for some additional resources to continue learning how to be a better ally to the trans community, Being Transgender in America with Melissa Harris-Perry is fabulous, as is Kate Bornstein’s My Gender Workbook.

Follow Adam Hunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AdamTopherHunt

What is Transgender Remembrance Day?

Why…it is simply the day that the decimation of transgendered people by violence, rape and murder is mourned, and the victims are remembered.

As a point of fact, know this:  for the ratio of violence against trans women to the overall transwoman population to be equivocal for cis gendered women, there would have to be over 2.2 million acts of rape, violence, and murder every year.

2.2 MILLION!

Imagine the outcry.

But a few transwomen who are brutally beaten, and then their memory fouled and polluted with painting them as deserving what happened…meh, who cares?

thus Trans remembrance day.

Find a place in your city where there is a memorial going on…attend it, and let the horror really get inside your heart.

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