To All From My Past Who Read Here

Hi.

If you are someone from my past and you read here, I want you to know something.

You are welcome to read here.
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If you are someone from my past, and you are genuinely open to learning new things, updated understandings of the ways that technology has revealed realities regarding gender and DNA…if you are willing to meet me…Charissa Grace White…and truly receive me as you would any human being you had met and were getting to know, then you are welcome to be in contact with me.

But know that my choice to transition is not up for debate…it is made and done.  To debate that with you would be as silly as debating with you whether or not it was the right thing to marry the person I chose.  So I will not allow this…I will not put myself at the end of your firing range to become your scapegoat for the social ills you so deeply dread.
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And finally…if you are someone who reads here while thinking of me as that freak who is a “man” but is deceived and deluded by the devil and is now under demonic influence for thinking “he is a woman”, then just GTFU…ur dum.  Holding this position is like boasting about how stupid, intractable and ignorant you are of the incredible body of literature on the subject.  You ought to be asking yourself why you are so deeply upset over this!  Why does it bug you so much?

I am by far a better person than I ever was before…more of what people have always loved about me and less of what people have always despised about me.

Just go away if you are in that latter category…I don’t care how long I have known you.  The length of time you have known me is directly proportional to the ought you are obligated to in connection with me!  You ought to be more compelled to read the literature…you ought to be more compelled to know the open flower and stop worshipping the tightly closed bud.
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There is a male who flat out broke off a relationship that was over 3 decades old, because I “had crossed a river he would not cross”.  He has had zero contact with me since.  This in spite of how his actions violate the very gospel he claims to love.  This in spite of the countless hours we spent together, the countless actions of service and love and support, the walking thru darkness on his behalf…

…clearly the issue is on him.

But I bring him up to tell you that his is the party you want to go join if you are in that latter category.

I am me…free…and flying.  You can fly too, if you would actually take responsibility for your choices and your failures to choose…your fate is in your choice, and may you find surrender to Love as you choose…
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I’m A Why

you do your best
to deny me but when
you can’t, you would rather
use me than see me

you don’t even know
you are not aware
of how much is denied me
already forever
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the body, the flesh
the flesh become word
the love of my own kind
her intimate touch, and

what I’ll have never,
well is it offset
by what I do have…
and just what is that?
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rejection by children?
gaslighting my past?
shunning me, shutting me
outside my group?

you pigs called “big men”
I am not like you
though cursed with your flesh
my heart never yours
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and you princesses, women
my soul…same as yours
but my body a charnel house,
nothing in common

locked out of inside
locked in from outside
why do I linger?
why…I’m a why

On Ghomeshi, Memory and Trauma

I simply have to press this…I am the victim of stories that intimate people tell about me that are lies.

Flat out.  They lie, because of many reasons, and I think all of the reasons are understandable:  my transition, their own cognitive dissonance, it’s easier to scapegoat me than accept that their life is the way it is as a consequence of their choices…it doesn’t matter why they lie.

I still love them, because I cannot do otherwise.  I am incapable of not loving them.  But the consequences of that lie are stunningly strong and toxic.

My only hope is that they come to their senses in a way similar to what happened here in this article.

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Have you ever had a moment when you suddenly realize that your memory of an event is not actually what happened? A few years ago I was talking to someone about a pretty life-altering event that happened…

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Source: On Ghomeshi, Memory and Trauma

The Truth About Transgender Suicide | Brynn Tannehill

“Suicidal behaviors in LGBT populations appear to be related to “minority stress”, which stems from the cultural and social prejudice attached to minority sexual orientation and gender identity.

“This stress includes individual experiences of prejudice or discrimination, such as family rejection, harassment, bullying, violence, and victimization. Increasingly recognized as an aspect of minority stress is “institutional discrimination” resulting from laws and public policies that create inequities or omit LGBT people from benefits and protections afforded others.

“Individual and institutional discrimination have been found to be associated with social isolation, low self-esteem, negative sexual/gender identity, and depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.

“These negative outcomes, rather than minority sexual orientation or gender identity per se, appear to be the key risk factors for LGBT suicidal ideation and behavior.”

Source: The Truth About Transgender Suicide | Brynn Tannehill

This.

I am sharing this truly scintillating essay, and the pull quote above is the core for me.

I just wanna say that I was raised white, though thru my father there is a truly multi-cultural heritage biologically and racially…but I was…raised white. Fortunately for me, I was never inculcated with racist bull shit, to the point that in college in the 80s I had a dear friend literally shock me when he told me I was the least racist person he had ever met…and yes, I did hear and note his use of the word “least”…which said volumes to me but in a language that I could not decipher or understand.

Well…since coming to terms with myself and understanding my gender journey, my life has changed in shattering ways, stunning and transcendent ways…but most importantly of all I was delivered from the ocean at last…

and became aware of so much that I never knew, could never see, even as a fish in the sea has no clue that it is in the sea.

I understand the comment of my friend now…”least racist”.

I wish I had the words and ways to let my friends, acquaintances and loved ones who are subject to that which they are subject to for the absolute worst and most insignificant of reasons KNOW that I get it now…

Oh, I will NEVER get it for the reason that they are made subject, anymore than any cis-gender person will ever “get it” in any way other than developing a deep and sincere sympathy and resolute commitment to love and live that love…

But I do get it now, the persecution, the othering, the abuse, the hatred and the fucking demonic unreasoning irrational stupidity of those besotted and drunk on the luck of the draw and the fate of biology.

My friends, and you know who you are…this post is for you…may I always find the joy I have found in solidarity with you and the love of your deep suns of being that shine undefeated and undefeatable! May I always have the heart, the eyes to see and to be inspired time and again with your indomitable spirit, will, but most of all your LOVE which just fucking never quits, CAN never quit.

You have no idea, the moments you have dragged me thru…you bearing the hate directed at you due to skin and me bearing the hate directed at me due to a variation on skin but essentially a common thing we walk in…times I was on the way out, and I would read sumfin, hear sumfin, think of sumfin…and be inspired and lifted up in your heart of hearts.

Now? I can at least have the means to find the remaining privilege I have and divest myself of it intentionally…it doesn’t always go, it is stuck to my skin color…but at last it is not stuck to me.

I regret only that it took as long as it did for my understanding and seeing eyes to catch up to what my heart must have known for my friend to tell me what he told me. We intersect…and for the rest of my days on earth I am expanding that intersection with every ounce of love, faith, hope, grace and mercy that is mine.

To the rest of my friends: please take it in faith that your privilege is there, is stuck to you, and is a legacy that you can use if you will but set your heart in a frame of humility and ask that your eyes be opened…hopefully you will gain insight without experiencing it being ripped away…but if that is what it takes, it is better that this occur rather than go thru your life blind while thinking you see.tumblr_lh6nzks1YS1qgnixvo1_1280

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?

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!!
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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…
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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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“I Was Born a Baby Not a Boy”: Sex, Gender and Trans Liberation | sheisrevolutionarilysuicidal

“I Was Born a Baby Not a Boy”: Sex, Gender and Trans Liberation | sheisrevolutionarilysuicidal.

Constance…this is a longer, somewhat intellectually oriented article and covers a lot of cutting edge philosophical territory.

I include it on Grace Notes because it is interesting and worthwhile…but I would not say by any means it’s indispensable.

Enjoy.

Posting this as is: Language Alert

Constance, this is being posted as is…it was a question posed on a forum I read…well, actually, it was a statement disguised as a question.  Don’t you just love when people do that?  Instead of asking what you think, they tell you what they think but since they don’t have the courage to say that to you, they “rouge it up” all sweet and kind in the form of a question.
 
While the answer is spoken in harshed language than I would utilize, I completely agree with the answer.
Q:  Possible confusion
Do you think that it’s possible that everyone involved with gender identity furthers the confusion by focusing on labels? There are valid instances of people being less than admirable about pronouns and names but generalising about something like this could spite someone with sympathy for the cause. (I’m not saying you do these things because I don’t know you and thus wouldn’t have a position of authority to say something like that, I just want a different perspective on things)

A:  I think labels are only not necessary to people who haven’t had to fight for their labels before. When you get assigned to be the average label and you agree with it, there are tons of examples of your label everywhere. You get examples of how others act so when you grow you can emulate behavior, you can ask questions about your labels without fear of prejudice or hate, you get to practice and live out the examples of your labels without fear of being hurt.

I had to fight, tooth and god damn nail, to get my label. Being trans is something I’ve been beaten over, lost jobs over, lost friends over, and lost huge parts of my family.

And for the record, if you see everything going on to trans people, if you see the undeserved hatred and the murder rates and the homelessness rates and the suicide rates and the abuse and the genuine fucking torture trans kids go through, and you STILL need to be convinced to be sympathetic, you are a horrible human being and we don’t need your sympathy.tumblr_nkyyvkUpyh1qj8rk8o1_1280

What to Do When Your Colleague Comes Out as Transgender – HBR

What to Do When Your Colleague Comes Out as Transgender – HBR.

Constance, this is a very informative and thoughtful article about how to incorporate a friend or colleague’s transition into your life.

I encourage you to read it, and see that underneath everything, the Golden Rule is there as an unerring compass for us!

Handle With Care

I would like to offer some words of advice to anyone who has had someone they know and/or love come out as transgender. I am drawing on my own experience as the mother of a transgender child. I’m not saying…

(Trans) Parent Support

Rog asks us to share this message…without further ado, and mad propz I share the magnificent and powerful words of RogKeith, and encourage you all to do the same. Lives can be saved…literally…by the way we treat others.

Do justice. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly,
Charissa

Call Him Hunter

Hunters artworkThis is for all you parents out there who are struggling to accept your child’s coming out and desire to transition. As a parent of a transgender teen (FtM), I feel that I am “qualified” to share these words and sentiments.

Do you know…

Parental Support Matters? Only 15% of trans youth without parental support described their mental health as “very good” or excellent, compared to 70% of trans youth with parental support. (source)

Transgender people are more than 25 times more likely than non-transgender people to attempt suicide some time during their life?  (41% vs. 1.6%) (source)

78% of transgender youth in K-12 had experienced harassment? (source)

Recently I asked my son how our support has affected him since he came out to us two years ago. Do you know what he told me? “I feel confident about who I am. I don’t feel ashamed to be me.”

WOW. Isn’t…

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Suicide Strikes Again

Constance…this appeared on my Facebook feed…I am distraught.

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Leelah was a 17yo ‪#‎trans‬ girl who just committed suicide. Rejected by her Christian parents. Put through reparative therapy. Her suicide note is below.

(Yes, it’s a verified real story. This post is from the City Councilman. Leelah is misgendered in news reports and images say “beloved son.” Love your kids, no matter who they are.)

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Some very sad news to share.

Yesterday, a 17-year old committed suicide by jumping in front of a semi on I-71 near the South Lebanon exit.

It has come to light that this person likely committed suicide because she was transgender.

While Cincinnati led the country this past year as the first city in the mid-west to include transgender inclusive health benefits and we have included gender identity or expression as a protected class for many years….the truth is….it is still extremely difficult to be a transgender young person in this country.

We have to do better.

By reading her letter, Leelah makes it clear she wants her death to, in some way, help “trans civil rights movements.”

Please join me in making a donation (investment in our trans kids) right now to TransOhio.

Invest by clicking here: http://www.transohio.org

SUICIDE NOTE
If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.

Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.

When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.

My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.

When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.

I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.

So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.

At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.

After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.

That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.

Goodbye,

(Leelah) Josh Alcorn

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.

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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

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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

 

Transgender Children – Transgender Stories – Woman’s Day

Transgender Children – Transgender Stories – Woman’s Day.

Okay, I just bawled my way thru this story…Oh Mama, please bless this woman for her faithful love of her son and of you.  Please honor her for praying that prayer “Change my heart”, instead of wreaking havoc by climbing up on the throne and trying to change everything and everyone else!

Love, Charissa

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

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‘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

 

As youngster transitions from girl to boy, family shifts between challenges, calm – Entertainment & Life – poconorecord.com – Stroudsburg, PA

“It challenges our sense of orderliness,” said Berne. “We can be fearful of anyone who is different.”

via As youngster transitions from girl to boy, family shifts between challenges, calm – Entertainment & Life – poconorecord.com – Stroudsburg, PA.

Constance, many thanks to my Sissa Kat…honorary member of the Scorpio Patrol (us lil crabbies and scorpions haffa watch out fer her hooves tho, being the Taurus she is!  🙂  )

She blogged this over at Dandelion Fuzz.  Check out her blog.  It twins with this one, but is the unconvoluted form…giggles

Love, Charissa

Image 003

‘Max’, a fourth-grader whose name was changed to protect his privacy, has an after-school snack with his twin sister on the porch of their St. Louis County home. Born biologically a girl but identifying himself as a boy, his family began referring to him as a boy in 2013. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/MCT)

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.

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”)

The Parents Project | Interview: Debi Jackson

The Parents Project | Interview: Debi Jackson.

Please go read this interview.  It tells my story too, in its own way…the story of ostracization based on outward appearance only…and then it has my promise as well…the promise of overcoming by maintaining the faith and trust regardless of others…

just so inspiring.  thank you, debi jackson!

GOD BLESS YOU!!!

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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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This Is What Happens To Transgender Kids Who Delay Puberty | ThinkProgress

This Is What Happens To Transgender Kids Who Delay Puberty | ThinkProgress.

Hi Constance…

Sorry about the password protected content.  It is a major work of mine, poetic in nature, and it is private.  I desired to share this with a writer I highly esteem and value that editorial mind so deeply.  As time passes…if indeed the work translates well to a public life, I will be happy to share.

In the meantime, check out this link, and see what is to me a miracle…to be able to live like the majority of human beings and not have dysphoria torturing you…wow.

Remember…treat everyone you meet with the kindness that tips them to grace and not to pain.

Love, Charissa

Dara Hoffman-Fox and Me

Constance, I want to tell you about a very important resource for your education and growth in matters transgender related.  My new friend Dara (who getting to know is like coming back to a childhood home from long ago, and having memories flood back clear and full) is a therapist, specializing in transgender humans.

darapeace2(I love this photo of her, because it shows the Peace she carries on her shoulders!)

She is a true bright light, and her energy and commitment is literally saving lives that otherwise quite likely would be miscarried and malformed, or even lost altogether.  She has a sense of mission that is of the ilk I refer to when I plead to you cis-gender people to pluck up your courage and conviction and make a place for the dispossessed and stranger and alien.

I truly believe that real significant cultural transformation will only occur when the current possessors of power willingly insist on the inclusion of the outcast.  Dara has that vision, that passion, and that calling, and she dove in with her whole heart. I was fortunate enough to first encounter her thru a podcast that she was on.  At the time, I was at the crisis point, that place where all has fallen apart enough for the power and life in the seed to burst the hull and come forth.

Just hearing her voice, her cheerful certainty that transformation was possible, was enough for me, and i began to nose up once again…and I knew in my heart in that moment that sometime in the future, somehow, somewhere, Dara and I would cross paths.  I was filled with the conviction that our nexus would be significant and that together we would be able to have great impact.  I am mindful of that old prophetic declaration “…and one shall put a thousand to flight, but two shall rout ten-thousand!

I signed up for her newsletter and went to her website where I found links to educational materials, resources for my own growth and mental health, and just that indomitable cheerful strength that she simply exudes.  And then flash forward one year…

…and Dara is asking for input from her readers regarding different resource ideas.  Well, I felt that “baby” kick in my gut, hit the reply button, and jabbered away for 10 pages…apparently those words were a similar lil power bomb in Dara’s heart as her podcast and other writings were in mine!  She liked it!  Which thrilled me, obvi…it has been a struggle in my life to ever know I am liked.

One thing led to another, and we emailed in fun flurries of fancy and vision, and voila!  I had an article written.

This article is aimed at you, Constance…you cis-gendered individuals who might find yourselves tapped by transgendered people who desire to have you in their life as a pillar of support.  It lists a few points that explain why you are the one that has been chosen to come out to, it details what the trans experience is like from a transgender perspective, and finally it gives counsel in ways you can be present and help your loved one to live…and not die.

Please?  Head over to her site?

http://darahoffmanfox.com/ 

There you will find a wealth of resource and support…and my own lil article called

Gender Transition: The Leap of Brave Beginnings, and 8 Ways You Can Help

Dara and I have been brainstorming in a beautiful serendipity over creating some things that would be available for a small fee with all proceeds going to those without anything so that they could live and transition without having to partake of destructive things just to survive.  We have lots of ideas…

…but we are finding that when cis-gender people who are curious about things ask, well it gives us such good direction and focus…so as you read, as questions arise or topics surface, let us know?  You can reach me here at Gracenotes and charissa_grace@comcast.net and Dara has contact information easily available over on her page.

Think of it…one snowflake sets off an avalanche…will it be you?  And if not, will you take your place so that the “one” can have a place to land and set it off?

Thanks Constance, and blessings to you this day

daracharissa

(Dara and Charissa brainstorming!  Lololol!!  🙂   )

 

Why Do We Need Labels Like “Gay”, “Bi”, “Trans”, and “Cis”?

Why Do We Need Labels Like “Gay”, “Bi”, “Trans”, and “Cis”?.

Wowsa…Constance, this is a long, well thought out, and somewhat complex article on the necessity for words to describe our experiences…and also how power segments of our culture control words, define the ones allowed and the ones that will be known as “labels” and thus verboten.

The complexity lies in the need to keep a few ideas simultaneously in mind as you read, and to patiently assimilate the foundational things at the beginning to roll with understanding at the end.

Please…roll up your sleeves and give it a go.  It will greatly assist you in having a greater connection to my life experience, and more effectively equip you to be a tower of kindness and compassion to those you meet each day, especially trans-folks.

Love, Charissa

20140724_205531(pic by Charissa Grace)

Transgender Children Today: Shifting the Responsibility for Change Away From Children and Onto Society | Aidan Key

Transgender Children Today: Shifting the Responsibility for Change Away From Children and Onto Society | Aidan Key.

Constance, this is a very good report by a person helping families understand and help their transgender children just as they would their cis-gender kids.

It does a marvelous job of highlighting how being transgender strikes across class, race, creed, religious, political, cultural and historical boundaries.

May it assist you, and contribute to your courage to speak up and speak out on behalf of transgender people in your lives:  the ones you know…and the ones you don’t!

Love, Charissa

Last night I was publicly shamed…

I am sitting here, trembling and hardly able to see the screen, scrambling inside to find what my heart tells me is true, and Mama is telling me…but the titanic clash with self-loathing habits and rejection-reflexes is tossing me and turning me inside.

What I think the truth is:  that Lady Grace, Holy Spirit, my Mama is proud of me and is honored by my actions tonight…what I fear the truth is:  I am a freak and outcast and should just rid the planet of my blighting pimple on its butt.  That is the realm of feelings and while I acknowledge they are real, I have chosen, do choose and will continue to choose to not believe their accusations.

So…in our town there are charity fundraisers, where it is a contest to raise money for several charities.  We like to do charity fundraiser events.  They are strong opportunities to serve, give, and also have fun with items that we would normally not buy…we actually spent some money on a wine country equestrian event, picnic, dinner, and overnight at the Inn at Red Hills…a fab fun thing we will be doing later in the summer.

So we were getting ready…and since it was not in the big city, but our small town, I was really conflicted about what to wear…all my tops are a lil too girl-side, and all my boy clothes are just…uuuggghhh!  Grrr…I couldn’t find anything and had to settle for  my jeans, and a boy pull over top.  I wore my pink hat and pink vest (as they are wine oriented for outsiders, but me oriented for me).

We got there, and I did what I usually do in groups of strangers…be gentle and polite, smile a lot with soft eyes and stay off to the side.  I used to do that even before transition, and even more so now.  We were sitting off to the side, against the wall actually, just my baby and I, and the auctions began.

There were two local wags up there…young, facile vocally, glib, sorta dorky and full of themselves as any small town big fish is…and totally nice guys, just really asleep, ya know?

The epitome of white male privilege.

So even tho I sit off to the side, we bid pretty heavy, as it is Their money, and we feel very good about contributing it to things like that .  So we were bidding, and an item got over our limit, which was substantial…and when one of the MCs looked over I gave a subtle head shake, and drew a finger across my throat, saying I am out.  So he starts cajoling me…fair enough, that is the game.

But then he says…omfg…right in front of several hundred people!!!!…”Hey nice hat, I will give you $25 for your hat!

I froze…I freaking literally froze.  I mean, my mind wouldn’t work, my heart wouldn’t beat, I couldn’t breathe, and my face felt like it was frying off the bones…I felt like my skin had been shredded, and my heart was just clobbered, like blindsided by a car (which has happened to me on my bike several times, but this was worse, cus it was inside me and I couldn’t get away).

I was sitting there, and my darling figured it out but not right away, so she touches my leg and then the spell broke, and I was quietly ranting to her that I was gonna let that asshole have it, just rip him for what he did…total reactive thinking…and I started to tremble and tear up, and felt like when I was little and we would lose a game I would cry cus I was sooo upset.

Time passed, and as I sat there, I heard Mama talking to me, reminding me that She had made this man, and that he was a good person (She said this, not what I thought), and that he was just asleep, ignorant, tone deaf, a guy made from dirt, (not living flesh like us girls)…and that if I just took out my hurt as anger and vocal violence, I was demonstrating that I was a concubine to the patriarchy!!!  Mama is a pretty radical political Holy Spirit!! Lol

Concubine to the Patriarchy???  REALLY???  Wow.

So I asked Her to please help me and She was soothing me and I was just bleeding, and then I thought “fine…I will just swallow hard, like women always have, wash his mess off my face and have done with it and be tough and move on…”  and She was like “that is not what would bless Me either.”  So I began to still myself and center down, and really open to Her will…and She reminded me of the 3rd way…She reminded me of the situation in the jet way in Philly…She reminded me of the destiny of being someone broken enough to speak for the broken, and whole enough to speak to the broken ones who know not how broken they are.

And I started understanding what Her preference was…I had choice to embrace it, or not, but I knew that is what She would want from Her daughter.

So during a break I walked up to him, and I said “Excuse me, sir?”  He turns, acknowledges me in a friendly but distant way, and raised his eyebrows like Yes?  I said “Do we know each other?”  He said no, and got ready for some pleasant schmooze…and then I said “we really have never even met before tonight…so I am wondering, what is an appropriate way of interacting with someone you have never met, never been introduced to, and you are interacting with in a very public situation when you have a microphone and I am merely sitting?”

He just stood there, deer in the headlights…and then I said “Did you notice where I was sitting?  Off to the side?  Out of the way?  Not drawing attention to myself?  Every signal I was giving was that I was here to support, but was not in any way desiring the limelight.  And yet you called me out publically, in front of hundreds of people and you did so because my appearance was distinct.  But you didn’t do it to any of the other dozens of people here with hats.”

He took off his glasses, and was suddenly deadly serious, realizing he had stepped into a huge crap pile, and that he was on very thin ice.

So I said, “Sir, I am speaking to you as hopefully a person who loves you enough as a fellow human being to gently confront you now, with little harm done, to save you from potentially harming someone in the future very badly in complete ignorance.

“It is never ok to joke with a stranger that you have never met, especially in front of other strangers, and have the basis of that joke be their appearance, or their orientation, or their gender presentation, or their race…” (and I named off all the categories of the oppressed in our society).

I continued “tonight your words hurt me, but I am not here because of that…I think I am whole enough and supported enough that I will work thru it…but I am here for the one you might speak to who isn’t, who is on the verge, on the edge, and they leave and kill themselves or take drugs to forget…or just get even more broken…”

He says to me “My name is Nathan, and I am soo deeply sorry.”  I said “I forgive you freely…I also wanted you to know that I am in no way seeking to hurt you or wound you, but you need to know this to save you and someone else from a great regret…and I do believe that my therapist would be proud of me for showing the courage to speak with you but not in a bad way”…I know I felt Her inside telling me I was ringing the bell.

So I shook his hand (yes, he did crush mine, sheesh!), and said “well Nathan, just put it behind you, after you really think about it, and learn.”

He asked me my name…omfg he had no idea what a veiled threat that was!  I freaked out inside it felt so sinister and risky to me…Mama gave me words and I said “Oh, my name isn’t important, but rather the hearts of the little ones with no voice and no strength…THEIR name is what is important, and really, their name is like unto the name of everyone that these charities here tonight are all about.”

And I excused myself and walked off…my baby was there and I told her about it, and was shaking very badly (it was in a break).

Got it under control, and the event continued…and we won a great auction, and then it ended.

She went to get the van, as we had to load some things into it, so I sat in my place and just listened to the night, enjoying being there, but out of the way…and I see him coming over.  I was thinking “Oh crap, here it comes”  but he takes off his glasses about halfway over to me (his nonverbal indication that he was speaking openly and with no mask)…

…he sits down and wants to shake hands again, but this time, he was very gentle…and he said to me “I want to say thank you, thank you so much for loving a stranger enough to tell me what you did, and save me from potential horror in knowing that I had messed up.”

I told him, oh you are soo welcome, and I am so sorry that it hurt you, I really was seeking to avoid that.  He said no, it was perfect, seriously…I was totally wrong, and just talking with no thought whatsoever, and you really blessed me.

At that I was crying hard inside, but I bit my lip bloody to stay together and not fall apart…so I said to him can I tell you a statistic?  He indicates yes, so I said out of the population of people who are even willing to acknowledge they are transgender, 41% of them have attempted suicide, and even a higher percentage think about it constantly.  This compares to 2-4% in the general population.

He was so still…and so I pressed in and said again that something like that could literally put someone over the edge…and then he said how wrong he was, on every level regardless of my status or identity.

It was a true apology!  I think he really meant it?  So I told him how just a couple of years ago his words would have shattered me, but now I was able to at least talk to him…and he said something about how in his church there was a m2f who was coming out in the community, and how ignorant he was, but that I had connected so many dots for him, and he was deeply grateful.

So Constance…it seems like it was all a success, right?  Good fruit, wholeness exceeding brokenness, educated ruling class member…So why do I feel so bad right now?  Why am I still crying, bleeding, and having all those tiresome hounding jackal voices yipping at me?

One Q, and he knows my name and who I work for…one comment and everyone knows…but part of me wants that, they have to deal with me as I am…and part of me wants to just disappear down a rabbit hole.

Constance,I beg you, on behalf of those whom you will talk to, interact with and relate to who are transgender or gay, or some other hidden brokenness and you have no idea, to take stock of your words…I am pretty whole, very loved by Them and I know it…but your words could literally kill someone, and I am not joking with wild hyperbole.  If I wanted to do something after tonite, imagine…and the power of some kind word…again you have no idea how powerful your words are…my friends here, when they comment have at times given me courage to face my day, my life.

Silence can kill too…but it is better than saying the wrong thing, which can never be unsaid, unheard.

Oh…and one more thing:  if you are of the opinion that being transgender or gay or transgender friendly or gay friendly is an inherent sin and that it is your duty as a member of christendom to “represent” and make sure that everyone you meet knows that you are so devoted to God that you will kill them in the process, Please…don’t bother speaking…you wear your own pride and your own opinions masquerading as the so-called heart of God like a butcher’s apron. Our eyes can see the blood stains of your victims, we can see the steel silver flash of your butcher knives in your eyes, we can smell the stench of death on you (and no it isn’t the savory aroma of the gospel which is the aroma of death to the perishing!)  It is the decaying smell of horror become ho-hum and your own comfortable wallowing in your worship of yourself in God’s Precious Name.

We tremble at your approach…and at your fate, when the word “mercy” finally has meaning to you as you are judged by the children of your slaves that diligently work your gospel plantation!

That is my experience…and I still cannot sleep.  But perhaps you would join me in a vigil…until all are cherished from the least on up.

Love, Charissa

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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.

Kevin Williamson shows us how to dehumanize a trans person, in three simple steps.

Kevin Williamson shows us how to dehumanize a trans person, in three simple steps..

Constance…this will give a snapshot into ways that so often we dehumanize one another…specifically in the LGBTQ community.

But think about it:  how often do these same concepts and methods get applied to one another in whatever social context we find?

Love Mercy.

Do Justly.

Walk Humbly.

 

Love and Grace,

Charissa

Kevin Williamson shows us to dehumanize a trans person, in three simple steps..

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Reposting my new hero

Friday Fuzz….on Sunday | Dandelion Fuzz.

I have a new hero…she is representative of a relatively small percentage of parents…and perhaps an even smaller percentage of that small percentage:  She is the parent of a transgender child; and she is refusing to be anything but her child’s greatest cheerleader, and giver of unconditional love and acceptance.

Her name is Kat.

She is walking the walk.

We all “love” our kids, right?  No…we LOVE our kids!  And then they do something…human.  Make a mistake, act without wisdom, or tell us something that is at odds with some of the ossified gender assumptions still embedded in our culture.

When this happens, unfortunately and all too often we “lovers of our children” become harsh, rejecting, distant, abusive, or shaming.  We think we are doing them good…showing “tough love”, or whatever other euphemism we use to cover up the fact that we are not really  loving, without any thought to ourselves and that we are exercising our fear and disapproval and seeking to use these things to control our children’s behaviour.

But there are parents who refuse to turn away, refuse to be their child’s first bully and harshest critic.

Kat is one of them…and it ain’t easy.  It means being a pain-eater and a love giver.  It means being other-oriented and firm on the wall on behalf of their child instead of against.

My parents gave me life, lots of love, and a good headstart in life…but I really do wonder what might have been if along with those things, there had not been the harsh experiences and words over some of those early days?

Kat re-blogged this video, with some great comments…go watch.  In it, you will meet another set of parents…parents who love with open hand and live with open heart towards their darling children.

Kat, you inspire me.  Reading of the price you pay is somehow healing to me, in my own inner child.  Thank you Sis, and God Bless you always!

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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. ♦

Absolutely FABULOUS article by a super mom!

OMG…Constance, my heart soars with hope as I discover these amazing people who have left fear behind and have embraced raising their transgender child with the same love and compassion as any other child…and they have the guts to stick up for and defend their child as well against insidious policing efforts.

Just read!  It is informative, simple and easy to comprehend, and deadly to anyone who desires to feed their ignorance!

Love, Charissa

 

The Lord Looks at the Heart: When My Son Became My Daughter

I am the mom of the little girl called A.J., who was recently profiled in the Kansas City Star. As surprised as I was to find my family in the paper, I am also incredibly proud.

 

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Credit Image: Jessica Keating Photography on Flickr 

My daughter is six years old. She transitioned—which means she changed her outward appearance from male to female and started living full-time as a her true gender—when she was four. Until that point, she was quite a rough and tumble little boy with a buzz cut and shark-tooth necklace. But when she was three, she asked her dad and I if we could buy her a princess dress.

We didn’t buy the dress. We thought she might be going through a stage of liking bright or sparkly things and didn’t want to waste money on something she would grow bored of in a week. But she kept asking and I found out that she had a favorite princess dress she wore at daycare. “What the heck?” we thought and took her to the store to pick one out.

Things didn’t stop there. Over the next few months, she started to wear that dress every single minute she was at home. Then she asked for more: dresses, nightgowns, headbands, sparkly pink shoes and eventually even girls’ underwear. We allowed some of those things but drew the line at the undies. There were just some things we weren’t comfortable with during this “phase.”

But then I noticed her pushing down on her genitals a lot and asked her what was wrong. Not having those parts, I assumed she might have a rash and was itchy, but her answer shocked me. She said that they bothered her and were in the way. She wanted them gone.

Thank God for Google because I immediately jumped on the computer and typed in a search …”Four-year-old boy says genitals should be gone.” What came back was a very short list of results, but they all pointed to one thing: My child might be transgender.

I had never even heard the word “transgender” before and really didn’t know what to think. We made an appointment with our pediatrician. She recommended a child psychologist. But before we could even get an appointment, my daughter—then my four-year-old son—said these words to me, “Mom, you know I’m really a girl, right? I’m a girl on the inside.”

That moment changed my life. In the following months, she became more insistent. We saw the psychologist and an endocrinologist to make sure there wasn’t a hidden medical issue. She became more determined to express herself by wearing those pink sparkly shoes to daycare. She wanted to go out for ice cream in a fairy dress and wings. Eventually, we couldn’t hold her back. She was showing signs of depression and refused to leave the house dressed as a boy. The day I let her go to school in girl clothes, she was happier than I had seen her in a very long time. The kids were great. The teachers were awesome.

But then the kids went home and told their parents, and things weren’t so great after that. Adult bigotry influenced them. We lost most of our friends and some family. We basically went into hiding for about a year while my daughter grew her hair out to look like the girl she is. When we emerged again, it was with a very happy and confident daughter.

When I tell our daughter’s story, I hear the same uninformed comments over and over again, so I’d like to address a few of those now.

1. We are liberals pushing a gay agenda.

Nope, sorry. I am a conservative Southern Baptist Republican from Alabama.

2. We (or at least I, because they always blame the mom) wanted a girl, so we turned our child into one.

Again, no. I desperately wanted boys. The idea of raising a girl in today’s world scares me to death. I’d much rather be responsible for raising a good boy who knows how to treat girls well than to be responsible for raising a girl who might only be interested in dating bad boys.

3. “Kids have no idea what they want or who they are. My kid wants to be a dog. Should I let him?”

Well, that’s up to you, but I wouldn’t. There is a profound difference between wanting to be something in imaginary play and in declaring who you are insistently, consistentlyand persistently. Those are three markers that set transgender children apart, and my daughter displayed all of them.

4. Kids shouldn’t have to learn about sex at such a young age.

I agree, so it’s a good thing that being transgender has nothing to do with sex! Gender identity is strictly how a person views him or herself on the inside, and it is completely separate from whom we are attracted to.

5. Transgender people are perverts and shouldn’t be in the bathroom with “normal” people.

I don’t know what you go into a bathroom to do, but I know what my daughter goes in there for… and it isn’t to look around. It’s to go into a stall, lock the door, and pee where no one else can see her.

6. God hates transgender people. They are sinners and going to Hell.

My God taught us to love one another. Jesus sought out those that others rejected. Some people choose to embrace Biblical verses that seem to say being transgender is wrong. I choose to focus on verses like First Samuel 16:7, which says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” My daughter is a girl in her heart. She knows it. God knows it. That’s good enough for me.

My Wonderful Kids

Last weekend, our youngest daughter and oldest son were home.  He was moving from NYC, to go work up in Alaska for the summer, and she lives in Seattle.  He rode out on the train, and stayed with her for several days.  Now, these two are like 5-6 years apart, and when they were little, the oldest was the idolized and mysterious “Big Brother” who was big and unpredictable, and full of teases, not all nice…while the youngest daughter was the little sister who was a pest and a bother and a distraction to the important task of being a teenager.

I delight in these two as they discover the amazing incredible and interesting people they are!  My daughter is thrilled to know my son as an adult, and she loves him deeply, not only as her brother but as her friend as well…and my son has actually told my daughter how incredible he thinks she is, and what an amazing person to know.

My children cherishing one another…getting to know one another…and loving each other!  What an absolute dream, right?  Isn’t that what we ALL want as parents?  Because when they were little, they had no way to know that when they didn’t get along, it grieved my heart because each of them is my very fav…at the same time!!

I think that Father feels the same way, and I can only imagine the kind of sorrow He feels when His kids fight and argue and treat each other like crap, and pick on the weak and threaten the alien and stranger with damnation!

Anyway, on Sunday they sat me and my baby down at the table and gave each of us a small lil wrapped parcel.  They jovially denigrated the “Hallmark Holiday” (as they refer to Mother/Father’s Day), while at the same time giving us a lil thoughtful gift.  Turns out they had gone on a road trip to a beach literally covered in bits of worn, pretty glass.  They collected glass for us each, and then got some wire and made us each a pair of earrings!!!!

It was such a nice and fun gift, and I was so touched.

PS:  Particularly in light of my transition, you can see how amazing these wonderful humans are!  Not only have they accepted me, they have affirmed me in word and deed, and simultaneously recognize that my life and actions now make way more sense, and affirm that I am essentially the same person I always was by calling me Dad!  It is a fact, I am their father biologically, and as to the spiritual and emotional care for them, well I did my best to be present, teach them to love and be compassionate, and all the stuff that was in my spirit to do.

I wasn’t real sure what a dad who was a woman was supposed to do…but since they turned out the way they did, I rejoice, in that Lady Grace took all our efforts and brought them forth fruitfully.

Thanks Kids!

 

Love,

Charissa

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Gender Performance: The TransAdvocate interviews Judith Butler | The TransAdvocate

Gender Performance: The TransAdvocate interviews Judith Butler | The TransAdvocate.

 

I want to be sure to reblog this…Judith Butler is a very important voice for us, and I am wanting to place this article here for you to dip into, and also for myself to refer to later…

See…my oldest had apparently studied her in college and had long held positions similar to Judith’s.  He told me that for years he wondered how to bring the topic up to me!!  LOLOLOL!!

So anyway, thanks Son!

 

I love you and thanks Constance for showing up everyday

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What Cis Folk Have In Common With Trans* Folk — Everyday Feminism

What Cis Folk Have In Common With Trans* Folk — Everyday Feminism.

Constance, I signed up for this newsletter a week ago or so.  I have been thrilled with the articles they have been sending.  They are accessible to a broader audience than some of the other things I have read lately that, while extremely cogent and thoughtful, are nevertheless a bit more esoteric in that an understanding of some more uncommon philosophers is almost mandatory to truly comprehend and apply the thinking to lifestyle changes.

(Whew!  What a run-on sentence!  Giggle…that is the epitome of what happens in my brain as I wade thru those articles!  🙂  )

But on Everyday Feminism, the content is pitched a bit more at the generic level, the introductory level, and thus more accessible.  This article in particular was quite helpful to me.

See, I am still learning about myself…I always knew what I was, even while I dwelt long in the land of Nod (disassociated), but I am just now knowing who I am!  And I read the words of others who have long practise and great facility with these concepts, words, and are adept at translating them into a broader commonality, and I find my awareness and understanding growing well.

Please give it a read…there are very likely transgender people in your life, and you do not even know…heck they might not even know (consciously)!!  In your jobs, in your schools, in your churches, and in your own families.  We are not sexual deviants or perverts, we are humans, and we have been, for whatever reason anyone has been, created thus.

Love and prayers, Charissa

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What Cis Folk Have In Common With Trans* Folk — Everyday Feminism.

Julia Serano: Amazing Quote from “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity”

Hi all…I can’t recall if I already posted this, but it made me cry when I read it…fierce tears of passion and purpose, as it summarized everything I aspire to someday be as a person, and as a woman.

Trans or Cis:  I challenge us all to aspire to these sorts of heights, and leve behind the lowland easy conquests of outward appearance and sloppy confirmity to the slavish requirements of the current paradigm of what make Beauty.

 

Love,  Charissa

 

“My friend, still seemingly perplexed, asked me ‘So if it’s not about genitals, what is it about trans women’s bodies that you find so attractive?’

I paused for a second to consider the question. Then I replied that it is almost always their eyes.

When I look into them, I see both endless strength and inconsolable sadness.

I see someone who has overcome humiliation and abuses that would flatten the average person.

I see a woman who was made to feel shame for her desires and yet had the courage to pursue them anyway.

I see a woman who was forced against her will into boyhood, who held on to a dream that everybody in her life desperately tried to beat out of her, who refused to listen to the endless stream of people who told her that who she was and what she wanted was impossible.

When I look into a trans woman’s eyes, I see a profound appreciation for how fucking empowering it can be to be female, an appreciation that seems lost on many cissexual women who sadly take their female identities and anatomies for granted, or who perpetually seek to cast themselves as victims rather than instigators.

In trans women’s eyes, I see a wisdom that can only come from having to fight for your right to be recognized as female, a raw strength that only comes from unabashedly asserting your right to be feminine in an inhospitable world.

In a trans woman’s eyes, I see someone who understands that, in a culture that’s seemingly fuelled on male homophobic hysteria, choosing to be female and openly expressing one’s femininity is not a sign of frivolousness, weakness or passivity, it is a fucking badge of courage.

Everybody loves to say that drag queens are ‘fabulous’, but nobody seems to get the fact that trans women are fucking badass!”

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― Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

Trans* Women Are Not Drag Queens — Everyday Feminism

This is a very well written post that helps anyone not overly well-acquainted with what exactly a transgender person is…and is’nt.

I always soo appreciate writers that do such yoemen’s work in helping to push the ignorance boundaries farther and farther into the seas of forgetfulness.

Won’t you please click on thru, and learn some great things, not to mention enjoying the great writing!

Love, Charissa

 

Trans* Women Are Not Drag Queens — Everyday Feminism.

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

Thank God that Things have changed…

When I was a child I was lectured and dealt with very very sternly regarding “what I was” and what I always knew myself to be.  Keep in mind this was decades ago.  Back then hippies were a threat and the John Birch Society was the only group worth listening to, all others being communists.  It all seems so sad now, so much sound and fury over things that signified nothing, and dead silence over all that really mattered.

Isn’t that a bit of what Jesus was talking about when he told one of the 7 churches in Revelation to “Wake up, and strengthen that which remains?” We have oft misunderstood that verse, thinking that He was bemoaning that they had allowed much to perish, and had little to preserve.  In fact, I believe that it was just the opposite…they had lots of stuff, but only a little of it actually would remain, could remain!  I think one of the most serious quests in this life is to discover “what remains” and then to pursue it with all your heart.

Anyway, how times have changed!  Slowly it is becoming easier for young transgender children, and it is so much due to education, and to loving parents who will be there for their children, even as our Heavenly Father and Jesus and Lady Grace the Holy Spirit are there for us.  Please check out the article I am posting below, and let yourself feel good knowing that these kids may survive the threats of suicide, violence, and worse that faces transgender people.

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December 8, 2013 8:00 am

Two transgender children struggle to be themselves

Watch above: An excerpt from Tracey Wilson’s interview with 16X9. Tracey was born a boy, but identifies as a girl.

From Trey to Tracey: One child’s journey to be herself

For Tracey Wilson, who is 10 now, her struggle is making sure people see her the way she does. She is transgender; born a boy, but has identified as a girl for as long as she can remember.

Tracey was born “Trey” and is the oldest of three children.

 Tracey Wilson was born Trey. 16×9

Tracey Wilson was born Trey. 16×9

“Sometimes I wish that I was just a girl, just a normal girl so I wouldn’t have to go through all of this.”

Tracey’s parents, Michelle and Garfield, struggled at first to come to terms with their little child, initially thinking that Trey was gay. But after seeking professional help and learning that their son was transgender, the couple embraced their new daughter.

Watch below: Garfield and Michelle Wilson talk about their struggles in accepting that their son, Trey, was really their daughter, Tracey.

Trey dressed and lived as a girl at home, at dance class and with her friends. But soon that wasn’t enough.

 Tracey Wilson, who was born Trey. 16×9

Tracey Wilson, who was born Trey. 16×9

Being a “full time girl” included school, a semi-private Catholic school. But when the Wilsons notified the school of Tracey’s wish, the school said “no.”

“I wanted to use the girl’s bathroom, I wanted to have the girl’s uniform,” says Tracey, clasping onto one of her favourite dolls. “I didn’t know it would all come to this.”

“This” is a human rights complaint that Tracey and her parents have launched against Catholic Independent Schools Vancouver and Sacred Heart Elementary for not allowing Tracey to be “Tracey.”

Instead of letting Tracey use the girl’s bathroom the school allowed Tracey to use the handicapped bathroom. But the school wouldn’t approve a name or uniform change, saying they did not have a policy for allowing it.

Watch below: Doug Lauson, superintendent of the Independent Catholic School Board of Vancouver, talks about the church’s position on being transgender and the research they are doing on how best to accommodate transgender students in their schools.

To the Wilsons, it is not a medical issue. It is personal.

“When they said that they couldn’t let me and that God doesn’t make any mistakes and if he made me a boy then I would have to stay a boy,” says Tracey.

“I couldn’t even watch TV I was crying so much, I couldn’t read a book, I couldn’t do anything. Literally I just lay in my bed sobbing.”

Tracey’s human rights complaint is set to be heard this spring.

10-year-old transgender child fights to have gender removed from birth certificate

“I’ve always been a girl, even when I was considered a boy,” says 10-year-old transgender child, Harriette Cunningham.

“In my dreams I was never a boy.”

 Harriette Cunningham was born a boy, but knew early on she was meant to be a girl. 16×9

Harriette Cunningham was born a boy, but knew early on she was meant to be a girl. 16×9

Harriette is transgender, born a boy but identifies as a girl. About a year ago, Harriette fully transitioned, legally changing her name from Declan, wearing only female clothes and being referred to with female pronouns.

Biologically, she is still a boy, but she now wants her birth certificate and passport to reflect her real identity.

Watch below: Harriette was born a boy, but knew early on she was meant to be a girl.

“It was in Grade 2 when she said ‘Mom, I want to buy some actual dresses to go back to school,’” says Harriette’s mother, Megan. The Cunninghams allowed Harriette, then known as Declan, to dress as “he” wanted.

Watch below: Colin Cunningham reveals the moment he realized his son, Declan, was really his transgender daughter, Harriette.

“Harriette has a very strong personality, kids would say ‘what are you?’ And she’d go ‘I’m a person, that’s what I am,’” says grandmother Cathie Dickens.

Dickens decided to take action. She and Harriette started petitioning ministers and MPs to remove gender from birth certificates, and initiated a human rights complaint against the B.C. government, saying that Harriette never should have been labeled as “male” to begin with.

“When I have to show ID and I’m going through customs, people give me dirty looks and they kind of question me, ‘who is this?’ and it makes me feel like I shouldn’t have to go through that,”  says Harriette, who regularly visits her grandmother in Palm Springs.

Watch below: Lawyer Barbara Findlay explains why having gender on identification is outdated.

While her family has supported her, others have not been so kind.

“I got called a ‘he-she,’ I got called quite mean names and I’d try not to let them… show that I was sad but…it really hurts me,” says Harriette, who has watched the number of birthday party invitations dwindle from 10 two years ago to just one last year.

“I don’t want to be just someone wearing a costume. I want to be me.”

© Shaw Media, 2013

A visual to help you sympathize

Ever wonder why transgender people have dysphoria?  What’s the big deal, right?  So you feel like you are in the wrong body and you want to be in the right one, but know you can’t ever really be in the right one?  No problem, just suck it up, put it out of your mind, and carry on, right?  I mean, that is what everyone else does with the things that bother them so what’s the diff?

Well, check out the pic below…picture sitting in it, how it would feel…that is what it feels like to be gender dysphoric!  You are forced to sit on something you know will hurt you bad, and always cut.

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In light of this, be kind…please?  Just be kind.  Is that so hard?kindness-wave

 

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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Reposting An Article which helps distinguish drag queens from transgender women

 

Will TransAmerica Aid or Exploit the Lives of Trans People?

Posted: 10/18/2013 6:25 pm

I was having brunch with a friend this past weekend. As we walked off our meals, we talked about a few upcoming events bound to impact transgender people (and, just as importantly, public perception of transgender people). The conversation eventually turned to the upcoming transgender-centric reality show TransAmerica, currently in its casting phase.

Described as a “docu-soap reality series” that will “[push] the envelope … to redefine sex in the city with a transgender twist,” the casting call expresses an interest in “dynamic and fashionable trans women,” referring to them as a “divine sisterhood.” Additionally, Doron Ofir Casting, the agency behind TransAmerica, is most famous for also handling the casting of RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show about (typically cisgender men who enjoy performing as) drag queens. Given the “dynamic and fashionable” line in the casting call, I have to wonder whether the TransAmerica casting will reflect the actual trans women I know or will be something more along the lines of a flamboyant, over-the-top, Drag Race-esque monstrosity.

And given the fact that the show’s creators would work with such an agency, I really have to question their motives. In my opinion, RuPaul is one of the most transphobic men in the world. When asked about the difference between a drag queen and a trans woman, RuPaul answered, “About $25,000 and a good surgeon.” I think the blog planetransgender responded to this statement best:

Matting of makeup and hitching your penis between your legs for a occasional night of fun at others expense doesn’t make you trans, it just makes you an obnoxious man in a dress. That’s all. Being in drag for a few hours doesn’t give you the right or even the life experience to speak for trans people.”

RuPaul is not transgender. He’s a cisgender, gay man. Nevertheless, the world looks to him as some sort of trans icon. When he says “tranny” and tells those of us who might be offended by that term to “fuck off,” he’s damaging the lives of actual transgender people. His cavalier use of that hateful term gives others the impression that they can use it when describing trans people or drag queens. He exploits trans people for personal financial gain.

Something about this casting call tells me that the casting agency isn’t exactly looking for anyone I’d be able to even remotely relate to. As I write this, I’m wearing a pair of jeans, a navy-blue, long-sleeve T-shirt, and a pair of beat-up Tom’s flats. You’ll never see me with big, fake eyelashes, nor will you see me teetering around in stilettos. I’m guessing that if you play the “Trans Documentary Drinking Game” while watching this show, you’ll end up wasted.

Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe the show’s producers can shift to a casting company that has a less tainted past when it comes to trans sensitivity. Maybe the show’s producers will realize that their show has the same name as a 2005 movie starring Felicity Huffman. (There’s nothing wrong with using the same title, but seriously, couldn’t they be a little more creative?)

When the show premieres, you’ll likely find me here, banging my head against a wall as I watch my people exploited, lumped into one big, over-the-top mess. There’s a chance I’ll be completely wrong about this, but something tells me that that’s not going to be the case.

Follow Parker Marie Molloy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MissParkerMarie

My Life Before I Knew

I was born the way I am.  We all were, weren’t we?  But the way I was born is considered wrong, or flawed, or weird or strange or pervy or evil…soo much ignorance and fear, and it is like fighting the pull of the Niagara River as it rushes towards the chasm and flings itself off.  It is tiring and draining.

Let me tell you what I remember, and I think I will space this info out over a lot of posts…but for now let me just say that from the time I was little I always felt as if I didn’t belong in this life, because I didn’t fit.  See, I thought I was a girl.

Yes.  My earliest memories and feelings were that I was a girl.

I know, right?  What a freak and weirdo for sure.  You now have reason to hate me and reject me if you wish…don’t let me stop you.  Far better than you have already been down that road, and yet I survive.

My first friends I remember were little girls, and I LOVED playing with them.  We played dolls and hopscotch and jacks, and then inevitably we discovered that I was not like them, and we tried to figure out how to get that weird thing between my legs off of me.

(Note that they did not think that they needed to get one to be a girl, and I intuitively knew I needed to get that thing off me to actually be a girl…how we knew that, I am not sure).

But we got caught…and I was accused of being a little freak and pervert, of doing “sex things” (I didn’t even know what that was)…and over the next few years I was brought to the place where I knew in my inner core and gut that I was wrong…I did not belong…I was called a boy and I knew I was not a boy, and I wanted to be a girl, but looking at myself it was clear that I was in a boy’s body…

…therefore I was nothing…my identity was in what I was not.  Not a boy…Not a girl…I was null.

nothing.

And I cannot find the words to tell you how that aches.  It is like the phantom limb syndrome, but the missing limb for me was a sense of self…identity.

WHO WAS I???  I knew who I was not, but had no access to who I was.

Well…I got on with life,  And praise God that He took interest in me, preserved me and redeemed me.

And now…finding out about myself, and not denying it, not repressing it or running anymore…

Know what the deepest agony is now?  Knowing that I have to choose between me being happy and most of the people in my life freaking out and withdrawing their love and being distant at best…or rejecting me and treating me as if I died at worst…or the other choice is to not be me, to live as the prisoner that I was born, and continue to be the supporting actress in the lives of all the people I know, a Shakespeare player cross dressing for the sake of others.  They will never know the sacrifice, they will never even care really…as long as I am not what they do not accept, they will carry on.

It is hard to know what the right thing is, the loving thing is, the sacrificial thing is.  Over time I will make the arguments I guess…

But know this:  if you are here, and you accept me as I am just as you would any human being, you have given a cup of cold water to Jesus Himself, and visited a prisoner in jail who turned out to be Jesus…for I am the least of those…

…and if you are here, and you are angry at me, offended with me, judging me as lost or perverted or evil or selfish or ungodly…you go…keep it up, you are really putting me in my place, aren’t you?  Giving me the punishment I deserve…for something that I did not choose or do…be born transgender…the greatest crime of all.

Good Job Jauvert!  You RULE!

Publishing some articles regarding Transgender issues

What follows is an article that I ran across some weeks back which grapples with some of the issues of being transgender.  I hope anyone who comes here will read it with care and a tender heart.

Remember:  the suicide rate in the trans community is over 40%, and that is just with people who are admitted trans…we really do not know how many other trans people who are not out have despaired and killed themselves.

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‘Every Single Family in the World Is a Nontraditional Family’

Hope ReeseMay 3 2013, 8:35 AM ET

Emily Walker/flickr

At 42, James Boylan was married to a woman he loved. They lived in Waterville, Maine with their two sons. Boylan taught English at Colby College.

Then he became Jenny. Never at home in a male body, Boylan underwent gender reassignment surgery and wrote about it in her 2003 memoir She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. Her new book, Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders, reflects on what her transition to a woman means as both a parent and a partner in her family, which has remained united. We spoke about what she’s learned about women, how she and her wife Deedie navigate intimacy, and what her experience tells us about the ever-changing concept of the American family.


Can you talk about the transgender spectrum?

Transgender is a way of talking about all sorts of gender-variants as if we had something in common with each other. Gender-queer people, cross-dressers, transsexuals, and drag queens don’t really have all that much in common. Ru Paul who, when the wig is off, is a gay man, doesn’t have anything in common with Amanda Simpson, who was appointed in the U.S. Commerce Department by Obama as the first transgender presidential appointee. They might not have anything in common with someone like, say, Leslie Feinberg or Kate Bornstein, who are more interested in the political aspect. They are very different.

Is being transsexual genetic? Is there a biological component?

The science is getting better, but it’s not especially conclusive. Trans-sexuality seems to have its genesis in the sixth week of pregnancy when fetuses form brain structures usually associated with that of the opposite sex. It might have to do with the hormone bath that the fetus is in or it might be something else entirely. I don’t know if it’s genetic, but it does seem to be neurological. It’s not related to anything you grow up with. It doesn’t have to do with how your parents treated you. And it doesn’t have anything to do with whom you’re attracted to. Although sexuality and gender overlap in such interesting ways that it’s easy to get confused.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about transsexuals?

The hardest thing is for people who aren’t transsexual to be compassionate and have the imagination to recognize that this is the defining crisis of someone’s life. If you’re trying to live in a body that you’re not wired for, it’s like paddling upstream against the current in a tiny boat. Because people who are not transsexual have never had this problem, they assume that it must not really be a problem. If you’re not trans, you wake up in the morning and don’t worry what sex you are. For people who do have to worry, people for whom it is a constant, agonizing heartbreak, others think it’s funny or strange. It’s a measure of our compassion as human beings. Can you understand the problems of someone who is not you? I didn’t change genders because I was really gay and couldn’t accept it. I didn’t change genders to be more feminine, quite frankly. It’s not about femininity, it’s about femaleness. It’s not about playing with dolls or making brownies or whatever cliché of femininity we have. It’s about finding peace in your own skin.

How has the media played a role in shaping the way the public responds to transsexuals?

I was on the Larry King Show in 2005 and remember having a conversation about the caption below my name saying “professor” or “author.” They ended up using “had sex change operation.” I thought, really?

Why aren’t there many role models for transsexuals?

Gay people who are out increasingly spend much of the rest of their lives going about their business. Transsexual people, if they come out in a public way, more often than not fade into the woodwork in two or three years. A lot of trans people “go stealth” which means that you transition and move somewhere and don’t tell people about your past. But if sexual transition is marked by seamlessly integrating into the culture, there aren’t visible transsexual people of an older generation. If you think of trans people you know, it’s mostly people on the street who don’t pass well. But if a transsexual does pass, you don’t know.

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How central is gender to identity? Are you the same person underneath?

When transsexuals go through transition, the great question is: Who am I going to be on the other side? Will I be some completely new person? The great surprise is no, of course you’re not. I went through the adolescent period that transsexuals go through, feeling out what parts of the new personality were going to be the keepers. There are probably some things that are a little different, but I’m not conscious of them. You still have the same history, sense of humor, parents, and children as you had before. What I don’t have is secrets. It’s not so much going from male to female as going from a person who had secrets to a person who doesn’t have secrets anymore. The big thing is, I wake up in the morning and don’t have to think about gender.

When Deedie gave birth to your boys, did you re-question your sexual identity? Or did you think, “Ok, I’m a father now”?

Yeah, I felt, I’m a father. Any ambivalence about being a man I have to let go of because it’s now about something bigger than me. When they were born I thought, “Okay cowboy, you better get in character here!” And I’ll tell you what: If I could’ve pulled off that stunt, I would have. But I wonder if I could’ve given them a better life. I think maybe all of our lives are better, full of more surprise and gratitude as a result of having to find our way through this domain.

When you first came out, did men and women react differently?

Absolutely. Women, generally, were very welcoming. Almost from the get-go, women were like, “Welcome to the sisterhood!” One friend from Ireland wrote, “Welcome! It’s bloody brilliant being a girl.” But even the hippie, groovy boys I knew from college were very uncomfortable. Some of those relationships have never really been repaired. There was much more negotiation that had to be done. And some of them may never have quite accepted me as a woman but kind of play along with me, which I find insulting. The women were interested in the transition and wanted to talk about womanhood and gender. And maybe women are more accustomed to knowing that gender is a difficult world that has to be navigated whereas the guys didn’t want to hear about. It might also be that a lot of my close male friends were upset that I’d kept something hidden. You can see how they’d respond with disbelief and a sense of sadness that they didn’t know me in the way they thought they did. So it could’ve been a sense of loss.

What did you learn from your father about how to be a man? And how have you passed that on to your boys?

The things my father taught me are very different from what I’m teaching my boys. A lot of them have to do with silence and being strong for other people and not being particularly emotional. I think my sons are more emotional and more loving as a result of having both Deedie and me as parents.

He died before you came out—how do you think he would’ve reacted?

He wouldn’t have liked it one bit. He belonged to a certain class of men who, if you have a problem, you keep it to yourself. If someone in the family has a divorce, it’s a shame we don’t speak of.

What have you learned about women since you’ve become one?

No one goes from male to female in this culture in order to get a better deal. I immediately noticed downsides—both in terms of little things like not being listened to in the same way, being less of an authority figure in the classroom than I used to me, to feeling vulnerable. I used to be fearless, I would go anywhere. And I’ve felt threatened by men, especially when I was out with the band, playing at sketchy bars late at night. So I feel more vulnerable in the world. But guess what? All of these problems belong to me. They come with the territory. I won’t make light of any of them, but they’re a fair price to pay for being yourself.

What about the positives?

I cry freely and I laugh freely. I don’t hesitate to express love for people, and I live in a much more emotionally volatile place now. Ninety percent of the time, it’s a really good thing.

When you were a father, you were “goofy, feckless”—and now, as their mother, you nag more. Can you talk about the shift?

I wonder whether, to some degree, it’s cultural. Whether men have more room to play in. I’m still the goofier of the two parents. But changing genders is a harrowing experience. It left me sobered up in the world. And the older my sons have gotten, the more dangerous the world seems. When they were little, I could protect them by feeding them and holding them. But when they get in an automobile and drive away, there’s nothing I can do to save them. In some ways, it’s not only gender—it’s also the passage of time.

How have you and Deedie negotiated co-parenting?

We had a pretty egalitarian marriage even back in the day. Early in the transition, we were on new ground. We’d both be in the ladies room at the same time—that was weird. Or there’d be two women’s blouses in the hamper. But we both cook, both nurture the boys. Deedie was a soccer coach for years. So we were never socked in traditional gender roles. I think that’s true of a lot of couples. What it means to be a husband or wife has changed.

The gender of the parents means nothing compared to the love that they bring to each other and to the kids

You say that part of being a man is “to be silent.” Has becoming a woman allowed you to be more open?

Yes. My job as a dad, I felt, was protector. Sometimes you keep your family out of trouble by keeping your mouth shut. A lot of women would disagree, but a lot of men would probably say, “Well yeah.” I thought I was protecting my family by not being public about being trans. I carried a lot of sadness around, but thought I was taking the bullet for my family. I’ll bear the sadness if it keeps us from having a really weird life. I think our family is more vulnerable now. But we’ve been mostly really blessed. We’ve seen how good people can be. Many people I expected to lose when I came out stood by me. I married Deedie because I thought love would “cure” me. And I was cured by love—just not the way I thought. Finally someone loved me enough to stand by me when I went through this.

Your title states that this book is about life in “three genders”—what’s the third?

That’s the in-between period I visited in the heart of transition, when people perceived me as male or female based on random cues, like whether I had earrings in, or whether my hair was tied back. But you don’t have to be transgender to know that there’s plenty of room in the definitions of “maleness” and “femaleness” and if you think of gender as a wide spectrum, with Arnold Schwarzenegger at one end and Christina Hendricks at the other, well, most people don’t live in those extremes. Most people fall somewhere along the spectrum. That’s the great thing. It should be about living anywhere along that spectrum that feels like it’s you.

You write, “Every single family in the world is a nontraditional family.” How has the idea of a “traditional” American household evolved?

Increasingly, Americans seem to be able to incorporate all kinds of difference into their lives. There’s more acceptance of gay marriage, kids have friends whose parents are gay. Our culture has become more diverse and more accepting. I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna because I know how kids are bullied. And I just read about a transgendered woman in Ohio who was murdered. It’s a very tough world for transgendered people. But I do believe that things are slowly getting better.

What can your experience teach us about how children grow up in non-traditional households?

I’m not saying it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a man and a woman, or two women, or a single parent. The differences in families affect how children develop. But the gender of the parents means nothing compared to the love that they bring to each other and to the kids.

You claim, “Motherhood and fatherhood are no longer unalterable binaries.” Do you think we are now at a turning point in history where roles are being rewritten?

As long as people keep loving each other, there will be families with two parents and some kids. As long as those people have different characters, they’re going to do different things as parents. It will be more a result of their character than the feeling that they have to be a certain way because they’re male or female. We’re seeing lots of dads staying home and being nurturers and a lot of women in the workforce. As long as there’s love in the family, the specifics of each person’s job doesn’t really matter, does it?

Growing up as a boy, did you desire men sexually?

No, never.

Did that happen as a result of your transition to a woman?

I would still define myself as a lesbian. A lot of the trans women I know, if they’re single, will check out men to see what that’s all about, but will often return to women, if they were attracted to women in the first place. There’s no generalization you can make about what people will do after transition. Post-transition I began to see men differently. I was able to see what was cute about men, what was great about them, to appreciate them with a sense of love and gratitude. I don’t know if that’s quite been the same as lust. My polestar has always been Deedie and my sense of desire has never been very far from her.

Did your desire for her change when you changed genders?

It did. Orgasm as a woman is very different, and sex drive is different. All those things are true. But the object of all that desire for me, very specifically meaning Deedie, hasn’t changed.

There’s a heartbreaking moment in your book when the ball drops on New Year’s Eve and Deedie won’t kiss you. How have you negotiated the loss of sexual intimacy in your relationship?

I don’t want to be glib about this serious issue because there are times when not having a more vigorous intimate relationship drives me crazy. It’s an issue we wrestle with. But all the love and the time we spend together and the family more than makes up for that. I don’t spend a lot of time staring out the window wiping the tears away. I think that, in some ways, the relationship Deedie and I have might be more familiar to people who have been married for 25 or more years than you might think. When we first went through transition we weren’t sure if we could get through it, but now it doesn’t seem particularly hard.

Is there any part of being a woman that you think you’ve missed out on?

There are some things I’m never going to learn. Like a French braid. I’m never going to know how to do that. Screw that. You know what’s funny—hormones had such a dramatic effect on me early on. My first four or five years in the female sex I had a period of looking like an attractive young woman. That was really cool. But my body has caught up with its chronological age. To some degree, I’m sorry I missed out on some of the party of being in this body when I was young. But it’s beyond silly to look behind your shoulder and wish things could’ve been otherwise. My life as a boy was not a bad life. I was really a very lucky person. I’d published novels, I fell in love, I had children, I got a teaching job in Maine that I love. And then I went through the transition and I’ve had this life. It’s pretty hard not to be grateful. I’ve seen things that most men and most women have never gotten to see. The thing that I thought used to be the great curse turned out to be a gift.

Your community has been, for the most part, incredibly supportive of your transition. If you lived in a different part of the country would this have been a harder experience?

I think it would’ve. I think some people don’t think I’m aware of exactly how lucky I’ve been, and I can tell you—I am aware. It does have something to do with living in Maine, where people respect your privacy a little bit. It has a lot to do with race and social class and education. But it’s also sheer luck. Nothing bad has ever happened to my children, and very few bad things have ever happened to me.

It’s interesting when you point out that a lot of your friends have divorced while you and Deedie have stayed together.

What has brought Deedie and me together is not my being a woman but us going through something that was very hard and having to rely on each other. The loss of her sister and then the loss of my own mom were harrowing and sad. Those moments teach you the depth of your relationship, the depth of your love with someone. When we first started going through transition, people said—”Oh, you need to divorce, you need to marry men.” The idea that the two of us would choose each other didn’t occur to them. And as the people who told us to get a divorce have themselves gotten divorced, we think people should be careful about the advice they give. One thing people said was “oh those poor children”—and now I’ve got a freshman at Vassar and an 11th grader who was just inducted into the National Honor Society, who was singing and dancing on a stage last week, who builds beautiful origami, who’s a nationally ranked fencer. Both of my boys are delightfully funny, smart kids. When people say “What about your boys” I want to say, “What about your boys?”

You interviewed authors about their experiences as parents and children. What did you learn?

The experience of being a child exists on such a wide, wide spectrum. You look at Edward Albee whose resentment of his adoptive parents still simmers. He’s still angry at these people for not understanding him. Rick Russo whose father wasn’t around at all, always going to the track or two the bar, loves his father and forgives him. There are so many different experiences of childhood and parenting that it’s remarkable we’re talking about the same thing. We should be grateful for all of it and spend less time worrying where we fit in.

This interview is edited for length and clarity.

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