Saturday, September 29, 2007

You Can't Push Someone Off a Cliff, "Incrementally"

Barney Frank's statement that trans people have to respect "incremental" changes, "just as the civil rights movement did" makes me wonder what his understanding of civil rights is...

The 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color religion, sex, or national origin. It does not 'incrementally' prohibit employment discrimination based on these categories 'unless the person's skin is really really dark, or if you just can't tell what race the person is, or because the religion has more than one diety, or when that country is really really small and far away...'

This is what I imagine an 'incrementalist' ENDA for non-transgender gay and lesbian people would look like. It would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, 'unless the person was not straight-acting, really faggy, swishy, femmy, or oh, god help us, occassionally flamboyant, or just too butch, too macho, or just isn't like those cute L-Word gals, or just not enough like Will in Will and Grace.'

Letting someone kick you in the head with only the right boot, instead of both, doesn't count as incremental reform.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sign On

(1) If you'd like to be added to a letter being sent to HRC from the leaders of the transgender community asking them "for an unequivocal statement that HRC will oppose this new strategy and any bill that is not inclusive," then send an email to Shannon Minter at sminter(at)nclrights(dot)org.

Do add any affiliations you have with trans groups, LGBT organizations and the like.

(2) NCTE & The Transgender Law Center have a petition directed to Nancy Pelosi up at You can have your name listed anonymously, so there's no reason not to sign this one.

& Now the Bad News...

House Democrats are taking out transgender inclusion for ENDA:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Reps. George Miller, D-Martinez, Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., believe that they lack the votes in the Democrat-controlled House to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act if it includes gender identity along with sexual orientation as a prohibited ground for firing an employee.

Frank and Baldwin are the only openly gay members of Congress.

"People now accept the fact that we just don't have the votes for the transgender," Frank said.

Nervous Democrats had been hearing about Republican amendments to the employment bill, Frank said, "that would talk about schoolteachers, and what happens when the kid comes back from summer vacation and teachers change gender. We just lost enough Democrats and we couldn't be sure of the Republicans."

The move put a damper Thursday on what Democrats otherwise were hailing as a landmark day for gay rights.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Separate AND Equal

I want to preface these thoughts by stating that I am a lesbian and I passionately support the work of the Human Rights Coalition and any other organizations working to establish and insure equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

My partner of 24 years and I were legally married in April of 2004. In March of 2005 the Oregon Supreme Court annulled our marriage and those of more than 3,000 other couples. It was a devastating decision.

That same year I testified before the Oregon State Legislature in support of Senate Bill 1000 which would have granted civil unions rights and responsibilities to gay and lesbian Oregonians.

In May of this year (thanks in great measure to the hard work of Basic Rights Oregon) the Oregon Legislature passed both a statewide anti-discrimination law (fully inclusive of transgender people) and the most "marriage-like" domestic partnership bill in the USA.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has the potential to extend those same protections (at least on paper) to lesbian, gay and bisexual people at the Federal level. There is however, a significant difference between the Oregon law and the dismembered version of ENDA that the House of Representatives is currently considering.

After all of the debate, haggling, re-writing, negotiation, conservative rhetoric, Evangelical intolerance, political lobbying and rampant homophobia, it appears that transgender inclusion in ENDA is the deal breaker. According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Barney Frank, transgender inclusion in ENDA would be "asking for too much" at this point in history.

Our 'friend' Barney Frank said the following in response to the potential removal of transgender inclusion from ENDA:

"I think the notion that we should let the whole bill die if we can't pass [a] transgender [provision] is a terrible idea." Frank points to the Civil Rights Movement as a template. Black justice, he said, "...was won incrementally, not all at once with one law."

I'm going to be blunt here. Barney is, on this issue at least, a duplicitous back-stabbing political weasel with a distinct lack of understanding when it comes to the art of analogy.

The Civil Rights Movement is only a template if there are examples of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders having excluded dark-skinned blacks from civil rights victories because "asking white America to accept dark black Negroes is too much to expect at this time." It's only a template if, at ANY point in that struggle, Dr. King, Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson, Thurgood Marshall or James Groppi promised to "come back later" for dark skinned blacks once their lighter skinned brothers and sisters had reached the promised land.

Transgender children, youth and their families don't want anyone to "come back for them"...because they don't deserve to be left behind in the first place.

Mr. Frank...while the brain chemistry of transgender and gender non-conforming people may be different from yours, they are not BRAIN DAMAGED. They are, according to some researchers, statistically smarter than the average bear. And while many transgender people are children and youth, most of them were not born yesterday. They didn't fall off the turnip truck nor are they interested in buying beach front property in Death Valley.

As my gift to you I offer this analogy, which I believe works within the context of the Civil Rights Movement. You have my permission to repeat this as often as possible.

It's time for transgender people to refuse to surrender our seat to the politically expedient demands of "friends" and "allies" like Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi, among others. It's time for them to say "thanks for the lift" to the so-called leadership of the LGB community, but the T will no longer be content to ride in the back of the acronym bus.

Two weeks ago today I sat in the audience and listened to Joe Solmonese tell an audience of nearly 900 transgender and genderqueer men, women and their allies that the HRC is committed to the trans inclusive passage of ENDA. He looked that audience in the eye and told us that in order to assure passage of ENDA, they were going to bundle it with the Defense Appropriations Bill, thereby putting Mr. George Bush under considerable pressure to not veto it.

Mr. Solmonese told us that not only would that increase the likelihood that ENDA would pass, but that it would pass as is.

As I write this, HRC is the ONLY major LGB*T organization that has not voiced it's lack of support for a non-trans inclusive version of ENDA. So much for unity.

I've felt for some time now that, while the modern Gay Rights Movement was established literally on the heels of the (mostly Black and Hispanic) drag queens and transgender women who resisted police harassment at The Stonewall Inn, it is not the best frame or standard bearer for transgender equality.

One of the core components in my education and advocacy work on behalf of transgender and gender non-conforming children, youth and their families is to emphasize that gender identity pre-dates and is completely independent of sexual orientation. Most transgender people are painfully aware of their gender non-conforming feelings or identity years before they develop or express a particular sexual orientation.

Gender therapists, authors, talk show hosts and trans people themselves spend a great deal of time, energy, bandwidth, ink and breath differentiating gender identity from sexual orientation.

How is the relationship between a T-bone steak, a baked potato and butter the same as the relationship between people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual and those who are transgender?

While they are frequently seen together and in many cases share the same plate/space, (the potato and the butter even share the same skin) they are not the same. A trans person and a lesbian can share the same skin, but that doesn't make them identical.

In educating and advocating for transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth, sharing a public identity with the gay, lesbian and bisexual community doesn't really make sense or serve a useful purpose. In fact, for the most part it's a liability.

So...where do trans people go from here?

Trangender people have no choice but to move forward. They move forward politically, socially and educationally in securing full equality and safety for transgender adults and MOST importantly, children and youth.

Transgender citizens move forward by not being held back by those whose loyalty to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community prevents them from either fully understanding the needs of transgender individuals, or from being willing to risk a setback for some in order to assure equal protections for all.

They move forward by overcoming their submissive tendencies and willingness to accept table scraps. Transgender people must insist on sitting at the head of the best table in the house rather than simply being offered a seat at a table near the kitchen.

I started this post by stating that I am a lesbian and that I fully support the work of the HRC and other organizations who are fighting for my rights as a member of the LGB community.

As a lesbian American, I thank them VERY much for their commitment to the passage of ENDA and The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes legislation. It's a truly historic achievement on behalf of all lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans. It will have a profoundly positive effect on the quality of life for millions of my LGB brothers and sisters.

I thank them...and at the same time I must say shame on you.

Shame on you for lying to me and others about your unwavering commitment to trans inclusion. Shame on you for waiting until the eleventh hour to betray transgender people by using the removal of gender identity protections as a bargaining chip with the spineless inhabitants of Capitol Hill.

Shame on you for selling out our transgender children and youth. For trading their future opportunities and safety in order to protect your access as lobbyists to appeasing weasels like Barney Frank and others.

Shame on you for assuring my seat at the front of the bus by throwing transgender people under the bus.

I am a proud lesbian and I cannot find any reason to celebrate the imminent passage of ENDA.

The reason for that is years before I became a proud lesbian I realized that I was transgender.

Tonight I'm sad and giving myself permission to wallow in my own pain. Tomorrow, I need to find a way to put it all behind me. Tomorrow, I will have to explain to 2 transgender children and their parents why their rights aren't important enough to be included in ENDA.

I love my job.

It Passed!

from NCTE's website:

Senate Passes Historic Hate Crimes Bill

The Hate Crimes Amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (S. 1105) was passed on a voice vote of the Senate today, September 27th. Immediately prior to the voice vote, a cloture vote to end debate of the Amendment was passed 60-39 with bipartisan support.This amendment was already passed on May 3rd in the House by a vote of 237-180. NCTE is calling on President Bush to sign the bill with this historic provision included.

Mara Keisling, NCTE Executive Director, says, “While transgender people still have many obstacles to overcome, we are overjoyed that the hard work of so many people is coming to fruition.”

The Hate Crimes Amendment extends the federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and disability.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's Put Up Or Shut Up Time

According to the Washington Blade:

"House Democratic leaders are strongly considering dropping anti-discrimination protections for transgender persons from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, after an internal Democratic head count on Wednesday found that the bill would likely be defeated if it included the trans provision, multiple sources familiar with the bill said. "
In May of this year I reported of the whispers in the halls of Congress to drop transgender people from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Some went as far to claim that I was causing undue fear, that my information was wrong. I have very high standards when running a story here at Transadvocate. I have very well placed sources and I fact check my stories many times over. It appears that the information that I obtained was correct.

I said:
It’s coming up on two years ago that I wrote an “Open Letter to Cheryl Jacques.” A month after I posted my open letter, Jacques greeted transgender protesters outside of Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) offices with the news that HRC would not support any version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that didn’t include transgender protections.
Last Friday I asked whether or not we are one community. I’ve been told more than once that a GLB”T” community just isn’t a reality.
The Southern Comfort Conference is the largest transgender conference in the United States. The gathering draws some of the most wealthy donors in the trangender community. For the first time ever, Joe Solmonese addressed the conference. Autumn Sandeen described Joe Solmonese's speech this way:
"Joe Solmonese spoke to almost 900 transpeople, their significant others, friends, families, and allies about ENDA and the Matthew Sheppard Act. He was very clear about the HRC's current feelings on transgender inclusion in those pieces of legislation. Two thoughts that struck me: 1.) Mr. Solmonese didn't seem to express any HRC reticence on inclusion -- it didn't sound as if he currently believed that transfolk "trans-jacked" ENDA or the Matthew Sheppard Act."
On the back of the SCC program it has this picture:

It reads:

The Human Rights Campaign and its grassroots force of 700,000 members and supporters are working every day to achieve our vision of a fair and equal country. By working with Americans of all race, classes and backgrounds, we are committed to improving the lives of all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The Human Rights Campaign salutes the 2007 Southern Comfort Conference!
Joe Solmonese thanked Mara Keisling of The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) for the work she's done. Mara's received much of the credit for the progress that the transgender community has accomplished. If transgender people are written out of ENDA or the Matthew Shepard Act, I really have to call into question what push NCTE has. How far have we come?

I'll ask again. are we one community? If we are removed from either the Matthew Shepard Act or ENDA and HRC does not lobby AGAINST PASSAGE of either bill without inclusion, we are not one community. HRC, NCTE, and others have acted, signaled, and said we are one. Now is crunch time. Am I really HRC? We shall see.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An Experience that Changed Me

I've resisted posting this for a while but since I believe Oprah will be opening a forthcoming show (October 12) with it (or an excerpt of it), I figured I may as well make this public.

My son wrote this essay. He is 13. The topic was "An Experience that Changed Me." I hope this brings people hope and love.

An experience that changed me

An experience that changed me is that my dad is transgendered, and became my “Maddy.” A person who is transgendered has a lifelong sense of being born into the wrong body.

I was about four when Maddy began the “transition.” I don’t really remember the experience well because it was over nine years ago. Once the transition had taken place, I was comfortable with it. But I was worried what my friends would think. I kept it secret for a little bit, but eventually they found out on their own. They all accepted it a lot better than I thought they would.

One night we were all around the table. I brought up that we needed a new name because she was no longer “Daddy.” Because she was still sort of in the transition, I said, “Why don’t we call you ‘Maddy,’ which is half Mom and half Daddy? My brother S----, who was pretty small, said “Or Dommy.”

Now I feel that if we call Maddy “Jenny” it would sort of be like having a step-parent instead of a parent.

Maddy is a funny and wise. We go fishing and biking. We talk a lot, about anything that is on our minds.

One night this spring, Maddy and I had a fancy dinner at a restaurant called A----- in Waterville. It was a special night. I wore a jacket and a tie. I had a steak. It made me feel like Maddy and I were really close. Maddy said that she thought I was growing up and that she was proud of me.

Sometimes it’s true that I wish I had a regular father, but only because I don’t remember what it was like to have a normal family. Sometimes it’s hard to have a family that is different. But most of the time I think I am the luckiest kid on earth. Even though my family is different, I can’t think of any way that life could be better.

From this I learned that everybody is different. No matter how different people are, you should treat them all with respect and kindness.

For instance, I know a boy named A-----. He is developmentally delayed, which means that although he is fifteen, he sort of acts as though he’s ten. At my public school, people are not necessarily nice to him. They call him names and make fun of him and tease him. When I see him, I try to be nice. Most of the time when he sees me, he gets distracted from what he was doing, so I try to get him back on course. When people make fun of him, it makes me feel like these people will make fun of anybody for anything. That makes me angry.

I hope to help support the rights for everybody, no matter how different they are.

I know people from lots of different kinds of families. Some families are divorced, so some of my friends only live with one parent at a time. Other families have someone who is mentally challenged in their family. But no matter how different they are, they are all people. My goal is that some day everybody will be treated with love.

Hate Crimes Vote - Thursday

ACTION ALERT from the National Center for Transgender Equality

On Thursday, the Senate will be voting on Senator Kennedy’s Hate Crimes amendment to the Defense Authorization Act (S.1105). We need you to call your Senators now to urge their support of this critical bill, which would extend hate crimes protections to transgender people.

Please, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 right now; let them know what state you are from and ask to be connected with your Senators.

The language of the amendment is identical to that passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 3, 2007 (H.R.1592). It is vital that you contact your Senator today or tomorrow. As you read this, the Radical Right is mobilizing to oppose the federal hate crimes bill and attempt to prevent its passage in the Senate. They’re using scare tactics and flat-out lies in hopes of killing the amendment. Make sure that your Senators hear your voice and how important this bill is to you and our community.

The Hate Crimes bill would:

  • Extend existing federal protections to include “gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability”

  • Allow the Justice Department to assist in hate crime investigations at the local level when local law enforcement is unable or unwilling to fully address these crimes
  • Mandate that the FBI begin tracking hate crimes based on actual or perceived gender identity

  • Remove limitations that narrowly define hate crimes to violence committed while a person is accessing a federally protected activity, such as voting.

Find your Senators’ contact information.
Background information about the hate crimes bill is available on NCTE’S webpage.

Call your Senators today and urge your friends and family to do the same.

Planning Community Discussion of The Gendercator Contentious

In San Francisco planning for a panel discussion and showing of the Catherine Crouch's film The Gendercator is becoming almost as contentious as the film itself. Organized by Ondine Kilker and Sarah Deragon, the co-chairs of Center Women Present, a women's programming initiative at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, the October 26th event is meant to provide a venue for viewing and discussing the film that was pulled from Frameline Film Festival after protests for being "transphobic".

During the September 20th planning meeting attendees decided to limit panelists to "locals." A number of reasons were given for this, including the feeling that out of towners would not remain part of the community follow-up conversations after the October 26th event.

This decision effectively barred queer theorist and female masculinity expert Judith Jack Halberstam from the panel. As the scholar had already made travel plans and purchased tickets, Halberstam--and a number of others--felt dis-invited or kicked off the panel.

Halberstam responded to the discussion by email, setting out what she would bring to the discussion and asking, "Why not just host the panelists you want rather than imposing a weird "local" stipulation (meaning what? tax paying? long term resident? registered to vote? member of the local republican party?)?"

Further contention revolved around Susan Stryker the renown trans historian who is much loved in the San Francisco Bay Area and considered part of that community despite the fact that she currently lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. Some members of the planning group want to hold strictly to the "local" decision and would prefer Stryker remove herself from the panel, while others want to extend the local moniker to include the long time bay area resident, regardless of where she now resides.

Stryker responded, "If there is a screening and panel discussion about the Gendercator I will speak on it if, according to the criteria set out bythe group, my participation is deemed appropriate, and the criteria for my inclusion are fairly and equitably applied."

It remains to be seen how these issues will play out and what others may rise before the October 26th event.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

SoCo Keynote: Jenn Burleton


One Community, One Family

by Jenn Burleton, TransActive Education & Advocacy, Portland, OR

Thank you to the organizers of this amazing conference and in particular, Cat Turner, Lola Fleck and Elaine Martin. And I must thank my longtime friend, Mariette Pathy Allen. My life has been truly blessed as a result of knowing her and sharing many adventures with her...some of which are suitable for sharing with the whole family.

When Cat Turner called back in January and invited me to come to Atlanta I was of course, very honored. I was also surprised. After all, we'd never met. I'd never attended a previous Southern Comfort Conference and I am not, in my opinion anyway, one of the gender community heavy hitters.

A few months prior to my conversation with Cat I co-founded a national organization by the name of TransYouth Family Advocates. That work and my role as a filmmaker are what I believe led Cat and the SoCo Board to think they might want to invite me to speak at today's luncheon.

Of course, I was touched by the invitation and accepted immediately. Following our conversation, it dawned on me that perhaps I'd spoken too soon. I realized that I had some research to do in order to prepare for that day…which is now, today.

I needed to find out what plenary meant.

At first, I thought it had something to do with a faith-based presentation of some kind, which gave me pause. While I consider myself to be a spiritual, moral and decent person, I am by no means a religious person. defines the word plenary in the following way:

"An adjective related to the noun plenum. Full and complete in every respect."

It goes on to say:

"Plenary inspiration" is a form of revelation. Plenary Inspiration tells us that the authors were infallible; they did not make any errors when they were writing the particular text because the Holy Spirit of God was working through them."

Now, I've been a proud atheist throughout most of my life and I have attributed that atheism not only to a passion for logic, science and reason, but perhaps most directly to the fact that none of my childhood prayers were ever answered.

Perhaps you can then appreciate the pressure this places on me. I like to think my ego is as healthy as any other mature, sexy, trans-lesbian, guitar playing soccer mom type…but infallibility due to the Holy Spirit of God may be something of a stretch, even for me.

Therefore, I'm going to think of this luncheon as a team activity. There is every bit as much pressure on you to acknowledge the infallibility of what I say as there is on me to actually BE infallible. All I can say is, don't let me down.

As a child of the 60's, I was inspired by the space program. Words like re-entry, splashdown, Telstar, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo became part of my everyday language. And the astronauts themselves, Shepherd, Glenn, Grissom, Schirra, Carpenter, Slayton and Cooper were early heroes.

I watched on a fuzzy black and white television as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon.

It was a time when I imagined that almost anything was possible. It was a time when I believed that someday, I too would walk on the surface of the moon, or perhaps another planet. I believed all this…because I had seen it actually happen. I had seen men walk on the moon.

Today, in this room, at this microphone, I'm doing something which, as a child, seemed a far more distant dream than walking on the moon. I feel like Neil Armstrong standing in my very own Sea of Tranquility.

It's important to have heroes and role models. They show us what is possible. They show us the value of vision and courage. Heroes can inspire us to find a way out of seemingly hopeless situations. And while the Mercury Seven astronauts were certainly heroes of mine, they were not my biggest hero.

I first heard the name Christine Jorgensen when I was 6 years old. I was sitting on the back floor of the car as my mother drove my brother Hugh home from the railroad station in Milwaukee, where I was born and raised. He'd left for New York City the previous year to pursue a career in theatre and was home for a visit.

During the drive he mentioned that he'd been at a party in Manhattan that was filled with celebrities and among them was Christine Jorgensen.

I remember my mother saying that she recognized the name but couldn't place where from, to which my brother responded; "She is the man who had a sex change operation and became a woman."

While my affection for the phrase "sex-change" has diminished rather dramatically in the ensuing years, the impact of hearing those words was, at least for one 6-year old trans girl, life altering.

It's remarkable the things we hold in our memories and the things we forget. I remember the first time I heard Christine Jorgensen's name like it was yesterday, but I can't remember the phone number of the house I lived in for 7 years. I remember taking food coloring from the kitchen cupboard when I was 12 and heating up a sewing needle in a desperate attempt to tattoo my lips red so they would have to let me be a girl…but I can't for the life of me remember my first home run, or my first kiss. I remember praying night after night for God to change my body as I slept so that I could awaken from the nightmare…but I don't remember even once praying for God to make me feel happy about being a boy. Praying for that just didn't seem natural. Praying for that was surrender.

The concept being part of an Intergenerational Family hit me square upside the head last fall as I was talking to a trans youth at the Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center in Portland, Oregon, where I make my home. At the time I was an adult volunteer at the drop-in center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, asexual, pansexual, non-sexual, queer, questioning, gender queer,

Non-gendered, allied, androgynous, polyamorous, politically incorrect, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, carnivore, kosher, treyf, physically challenged, ambulatory and extra-terrestrial youth.

She told me that she'd recently started hormones and how she felt about that and I shared with her how happy I was that she was happy and together we were both just happy to be happy, engulfed as we were in our estrogen-induced stupor. Finally, once we'd stopped smiling long enough to take a breath, she asked;

"So, when did you start taking hormones?"

I responded, "Well, I began taking them when I was 12 years old."

She gasped. I'm not kidding…she literally gasped and said; "Oh! You're THE ONE!"

It was my turn to gasp. I realized that a portion of my personal trans journey had become a part of anecdotal trans experience. I had become an urban legend.

I will now relate the true story behind that urban legend.

I call it "The Case Of The Transmogrifying Yellow Pill".

The year was 1966. A 12-year old child working the day watch in Milwaukee, Wisconsin went into a corner drugstore to buy comic books with $.50 his mother had given him. His favorites were Spider-Man, Daredevil and The X-Men. While looking through the newsstand, he noticed a spinner rack filled with paperback books. There was the usual assortment of Mickey Spillane and Earle Stanley Gardner mysteries. But there was a new title that caught the kid's attention…The Transsexual Phenomenon.

The boy was in awe. It was the Holy Grail, Christmas morning and the ever elusive all-ice cream diet rolled into one. There was just one problem. The boy had only had $.50 for comic books and the paperback on the spinner rack was $1.95.

With sweaty palms, the child considered his options. On the one hand, the kid REALLY wanted that book. Then again, Peter Parker was definitely going to reveal that he was Spider-Man in the latest issue. What to do, what to do…

I stole the book.

Tucking it down the front of my pants, I grabbed Spidey, Daredevil and The X-Men and headed to the counter. I was more afraid of being caught with the book because of the subject matter than I was of being caught for stealing.

Luckily, the nice man behind the counter was fooled by my innocent, freckle-faced charm and I made a clean getaway.

I read the book cover to cover in little more than a day, and even though I didn't understand everything in the book, I got the message. I'd always known I was different, but now I knew there was more than just Christine and I. There were enough of us for an American doctor to have written a book. Most of the "others" seemed a lot older, but still, they were probably kids once.

Now, I know what's going through your minds. You're thinking "What about the hormones? How did you start hormones at the age of 12 when gas was $.30 a gallon and Reagan was best known for being a bad actor?"

While reading The Transsexual Phenomenon I realized that one of the medications mentioned in the book was the same thing my mother took for, in her words, "My goddamn hot flashes".

The Transmogrifying Yellow Pill…Premarin!

It's the only time I remember being happy that my Mom was an alcoholic. Counting the little yellow pills was not her top priority.

And that's how Dr. Harry Benjamin turned me into a pill popping thief.

The story you've just heard is true. The people in this story are guilty as hell and they know it. None of their names were changed because they're either dead, don't give a damn or the statute of limitations has expired.

The publication of The Transsexual Phenomenon was literally, a defining event in my life.

Some would argue that as a 12-year old child, my gender non-conforming identity was reinforced, influenced or warped by having read that book. Nothing could be further from the truth. I had always known exactly how I felt about myself and my identity. I knew I was a girl. It just didn't make "sense" until I read that book.

Those who believe that a child's gender non-conformity can somehow be improperly confirmed or influenced by mere exposure to a book or discussion about transgender issues would also believe there are WMD in Iraq and all lesbians own a cat.

Umm…by a show of hands, how many cat owners do we have?

Those who believe that children are blank slates waiting for an approved hetero-normative gender stencil to be drawn on them are not simply in denial regarding current scientific, social and medical studies, they are guilty of leading parents, families and in many cases the legal system to misogynistic, cissexist and conservative fundamentalist conclusions that will forever negatively affect these children's lives.

Alleged gender identity experts like Kenneth Zucker, Alice Dreger, J. Michael Bailey, Warren Throckmorton and others define transgender people, especially children, in ways that only serve their personal, professional, cultural and religious agendas or, in the case of Anne Lawrence, which justify their own self-loathing connection to gender non-conformity.

To them, there is no such thing as a transgender, transsexual or androgynous child. These children, and the adults they become, are nothing more than examples of psychotherapy's failure to eradicate pre-homosexual behavior. You see, according to their uber-flawed studies, 75% of gender non-conforming children turn gay during their teen years.

To put it bluntly, we are nothing but failed cisgender homosexuals.

I'm simultaneously enraged and amused by such voodoo psychology. I'm also deeply insulted. I happen to consider myself to be an extremely successful lesbian. So successful in fact, that in February of next year my partner Cheryl and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary.

On a side note, when I read this last part to my partner before leaving for the conference she asked me; "What would you be like if you were an unsuccessful lesbian." To which I answered, "I guess I'd be sexually attracted to men."

This continuing campaign to marginalize, disregard and obstruct transgender identity in children is what compelled me to begin working with children, youth and their families.

My dedication to raising awareness of this issue has intensified through working with TransActive Education & Advocacy, a non-profit organization I established in Portland, Oregon.

The film, "Out Of The Shadows" is really just the voice of a child from my past; the voice of a little girl that was never heard. Shouted down by teachers, therapists, gate-keepers, social workers, parents, friends and family, it is a voice that is, I'm sorry to say, still ignored, marginalized and silenced by many within our own community.

While we are making progress regarding rights and protections for trans, intersex and gender non-conforming adults, we are too often silent when it comes to transgender children. If we are indeed a community, then how can we as a community survive if we won't fight for our children?

We seem to be finding comfort and safety under this transgender umbrella, but our children are left out in the rain. Where and when are we going to hear the needs of our gender non-conforming children addressed at the national level by presidential candidates and the organizers of national forums that focus on LGBT community issues?

What are they afraid of? What are we afraid of? Has the far-right fundamentalist campaign of lies about the so-called gay agenda backed us into such a dark corner that we're too afraid to protect our babies, our children, our teens?

We hear frequently about the flaws in No Child Left Behind, yet few notice that transgender children are not just being left behind; they are being thrown under the bus.

I believe this is due, in part, to the notion that there are no gay, lesbian or bisexual children. There are children that might be "expected" to be gay or lesbian based upon their gender non-conforming personalities, but they haven't as yet actually bought the toaster oven. As for transgender children, there appears to be more respect for and documentation of the existence of Bigfoot than there is for transgender identity in childhood.

Let's for a moment hypothesize on what life would be like in the Bizarro universe inhabited by the Axis of Evil; Bailey, Lawrence, Throckmorton and Zucker. We'll assume there's been a breach in the time-space continuum and the laws that rule their mystifying but simplistic corner of existence spills over into our messy little dimension.

In their dimension, 75% of you are homosexual, having grown out of or been behavior modified away from your childhood gender non-conforming identities.

But what about the other 25%? What do we do with you?

What if (not a chance in hell) those percentages are right? What if those statistics were applied to other conditions of childhood development?

Would it be alright if we ignored, silenced and marginalized socially impaired children if 25% of them turned out to be autistic?

What if 25% of all children with muscle cramps developed muscular dystrophy?

What if 25% of all children who like candy developed diabetes?

And would it be ok to withhold medical intervention to 25% of all children born with cleft lip or cleft palate until they reached the age of 18, just in case they changed their minds about wanting to fix the hole in the middle of their face.

According to research done by Professor Lynn Conway, non-conforming gender identity is as common or more common that each of those conditions. Her research indicates that 1:250 births are a child that has a non-conforming gender identity.

Perhaps some of you were one of those children. I know I was.

I've faced the reality that no matter what I do, or how many years go by, I will never be able to bury the pain of that little girl who had to steal a paperback book so many years ago because no one saw her, no one heard her and no one respected her.

The pain of being invisible to the very people who are supposed to protect them is perhaps the deepest wound from a transgender childhood. Our children are hungry for our love, our support, our recognition and most of all, our respect.

They have a right to positive role models.

Their parents have a right to know there's a future out there for their children that doesn't involve being on a very special episode of The Jerry Springer Show.

They have a right to not be threatened in the hallways, beaten in the locker rooms or murdered in a back alley because of someone else's misogynistic and homophobic insecurities.

They have a right to all those things. They have a right to be themselves, no matter what the neighbors might think.

Our trans children have a right to heroes they can look up to. But in order for them to look up to us, we must first stand up for them.

It may be through volunteering our professional skills to a family in need. It may be through being a mentor to a gender non-conforming child or youth. It may be through contributing to non-profit organizations that work on behalf of transgender children, youth and their families. I happen to know of one…talk to me later. 

And for those who identify as male, please know that the impact you can have on a young gender non-conforming child's life, regardless of where the child falls on the gender spectrum, is particularly valuable and hard to come by. The impact of that support may be even more profound in male attire than in female attire.

One of the things we don't see enough of is men supporting feminine boys. While it's always deeply moving to see the love these children receive from their mothers and other women in their lives, I am even more thrilled to meet supportive fathers, brothers, uncles or male family friends who are proud of the child for who they are.

In order to develop healthy self-esteem these children must know that those they look up to are proud of who they are and who they might become.

A few years ago my partner Cheryl and I were driving to Vancouver, BC to spend a few days with friends. We'd just left the Seattle area when I got a call from a number I didn't recognize. To my surprise, it was from a woman named Robyn Henslin that I'd known prior to my transition, and whom I hadn't seen or spoken to in more than 30 years.

Back then I was a very young, pimply faced musical director of a group connected to Up with People, which some of you may be familiar with from their appearances in 4 Super Bowl Halftime shows.

I told Robyn how thrilled I was to hear from her. I was also trying to find a way of addressing whether or not she knew about the changes in my life.

I finally said; "Are you aware of my gender transition?" to which she said, "Oh yes. We all heard about it. It was weird at first but we all liked you and knew you were doing what was right for you."

I laughed and confirmed that, indeed, it was the best thing I could have done.

We made small talk for a minute or two and then I asked her why, after all these years, she decided to track me down over the internet.

She paused for a moment and I could tell she was crying.

She said; "I'm so happy to talk to you, but I don't want you to think I'm silly. I've thought about you a lot over the years as I was going through different things in my life. I've been through some really tough times, but I got through them. And when things started to get better, I thought about you. I've got three children now, a boy and two girls, and a great career in nursing. I've been married twice, but my current husband and I have been together for almost 20 years and we're really happy."

By this time, we were both crying and my partner Cher, riding in the car beside me was wondering who died. I gave her a little smile and a thumbs-up to reassure her that everything was OK.

Robyn went on.

"I needed to tell you something. I needed for you to know how great my life has turned out and how important you were as a role model and someone who encouraged me and inspired me. It was important that you be proud of me someday. Are you?"

I was. And I was humbled by her words, her affection and her need to tell this transgender woman that I'd made a difference in her life at time when I was still trying to figure out my own future, or if I even had a future.

It was for me, a full-circle moment that can only be described by use of the noun, plenum. Full and complete in every respect.

In closing, I want to again thank all of you for your kindness, your support, your courage and your leadership. My greatest wish is that someday, each and every one of you receives a call from a trans child you've reached out to. Perhaps a 12 year old trans girl who found The Transsexual Phenomenon on the Internet, and that that call might go something like this:

"I don't know if you remember me…but my life is great now. I hope you're proud of me. Are you?"

Thank you.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nothing Says Patriot Like Hiding... Your Children

That ever popular bastion of Jesus freedom, WorldNetDaily, is hiding a Transgender Partriot! In their "Letter of the Week" they showcase the anonymous patriot. She starts out by saying
"First, before I begin, I just want to let you know that I support WND and the work you do primarily as it relates to the illegal-alien invasion and the North American Union. My feedback below doesn't change that."
Then goes on to say:
I feel badly that the "T" is almost always associated with the LGB as well. I often times do not agree with their politics. In fact, I almost never do. I'm very patriotic, and their politics cannot typically be characterized as patriotic.

The rest of the post is an appeal to right wing conservatives to see us as separate from the GLB community. While I don't agree with the writer, I can understand the reasoning behind it. I'm getting rather tired of our community being treated as third rate within the larger G and L community on one end and being used as morality bait by religious conservatives on the other. Acclaimed transgender radio host and National Center for Transgender Equality Advisory Board member, Nancy Nangerioni writes:
"Ethan told me that he is being asked by a member of congress for stories of transgender persons who work successfully with children, in order to counter accusations from the opposition – mostly Republicans, I expect – that transgenders are pedophiles."
Why are we being targeted? The Bible doesn't mention transgender people at all.
"Last night I lay awake while this infuriating accusation rolled around my brain. I have never heard of a case of a transgender person being convicted of child molestation. I HAVE heard of Catholic priests and heterosexual men and – oh yes – Republican Congressmen being convicted as such. But never a transgender person. So why are we being asked to mount a defense against such accusation? Why are we presumed to be dangerous to children in the face of absolutely no evidence that we present any danger whatsoever to young persons?"
The answer is simple. It's our alignment with gays and lesbians that causes our community the most grief with the conservative Christians. What do we get for this grief? We have to protest to be included into ENDA and hate crimes legislation, we get short changed in the Corporate Equality Index, and we can't even get the head of the largest GLBT organization to ask the Democratic Party's Presidential hopefuls more than one question about transgender issues (but they could ask 22 questions about marriage)!

I support marriage equality for gays and lesbians. But marriage equality is the number one issue with these equality groups, to the expense of our issues and our families. Is HRC working on the repeal of the Real ID act? Are they advocating against the "no match" letters that will out transgender Americans in the workplace? How about birth certificate issues? These issues are not being addressed in any substantial way, but they sure can address the bark beetle!!

Would we be better off in the long run to disassociate ourselves from the GLB community? It's times like these I wonder.

cross posted from

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Blue and Yellow Stepchild

Every year around this time I start seeing the GLBT media get in a feeding frenzy about the HRC's Corporate Equality Index (CEI). Story after story is told of how American corporations are getting better and better for GLBT Americans.

That may be true for GLB Americans, but the transgender part of the index is fatally flawed. The transgender wellness benefits defined in the 2c component include:
1. counseling by a mental health professional

2. pharmacy benefits covering hormone therapy

3. medical visits to monitor the effects of hormone therapy and other associated lab procedures.

4. medically necessary surgical procedures such as hysterectomy or short-term disability leave for surgical procedures
A company only needs to give ONE of these benefits to get the five points. What does that mean in a practical way? Nick Gorton MD explains it this way:
"Let's say you are Dominos Pizza and you get the HRC CEI index survey to fill out. One question asks you if provide "medically necessary surgical procedures (i.e. hysterectomy)". Then it asks you if you exclude transgender employees from this benefit. If you state that you don't exclude transgender employees then you get 5 points on item 2.c (#4) on the CEI. So lets say your policy is that if a transgender man has invasive cervical cancer that your insurance will actually (shock and horror!) pay for his hysterectomy rather than condemning him to death for an untreated cancer. Well then heeeeeey! All of a sudden you are hella transgender friendly, Dominos. (And yes, Dominos got that.... Christian-Fundamentalist funding Dominos offers transgender benefits.)
Since last year HRC has modified the question to:
Do insurance plans available to your general work force cover the following treatments and, if so, is there at least one company-sponsored insurance plan that does not exclude coverage for medically-necessary treatment related to gender dysphoria or gender reassignment?
While that is a slight improvement, if the company only gives time off for the employee for surgery, they still get the full five points. Companies like Microsoft, General Motors, IBM, and Eastman Kodak will get the same grade as Dominos, even though they comprehensively cover (they cover parts a, b, and c, including sex reassignment surgery).

Why won't HRC change this policy? Most likely, it's because they don't want to see lower scores for corporations that received a 100 percent rating. It also could be that with that new criteria HRC, NGLTF, and other national GLBT organizations wouldn't get a 100% in their own index! The excuse used to be that it was too expensive to cover transgender surgery, but the city of San Francisco has proven that to be false. If they are going to use that excuse, I wish they'd explain how that's any different than the cost of domestic partner benefits?

Whatever the reason, I think it's time that the CEI is revamped. If you're going to include us in your mission statement, then include us in your activism and advocacy (and your own insurance policies). The Human Rights Campaign (and any other GLBT organization that includes us in their mission statement) needs to stop treating us like their stepchild.


cross posted from

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Trans on Oprah

As it turns out, Oprah will be recording a new show about trans - in fact, two shows (again!). Betty & I did not, unfortunately, make it on this time either, as the shows are focused on families & children. From what I know, the first will be about families in which there are children who are trans, and the second will be focusing on families where a parent (or both) is trans.

Thus, not us. And while I could rant & rave about the legitimacy of our family, because we ARE one, dammit, even though we don’t have children, I won’t, as the producer we’ve spoken to has been quite lovely and the whole experience very pleasant & encouraging.

I don’t know when the shows are airing, but I assume in not too long.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Key West and the Trans Traveler

I just came back from a trip to Key West. I was invited down as part of Monroe County Tourist Development Council’s outreach to gay markets but once there the organizer of the press trip shared his concern about my ability to find enough trans related stuff to write about. I’m in of the nation’s top travel destinations for the gay dollar. It’s during Women’s fest and the island is swarming with lesbians. As a ride on the country’s only Gay and Lesbian Trolley Tour attests, there’s dozens of gay and lesbian owned businesses, and a rich gay and lesbian history in Key West. But, from the marketing material, tourist information, guided tour and head of the gay market sales department, there’s no mention of the words transgender or transsexual.

The Key West tourism department even seemed unaware of the trans resources they did have. At the same time as I was being told there was nothing “trans” going on, a few blocks away a small theatre was playing the documentary Boy I am, which explores several trans men’s transitions and interviews a number of lesbians about FTMs—including queer theorist and drag king Judith “Jack” Halberstam who claims in the film that, even for FTMs, misogyny goes hand in hand with masculinity.

This has gotten me thinking about the fact that there seems to be no acknowledgement or understanding of a trans consumer. In the rare situation where trans consumers are recognizedged we are undoubtedly positioned solely in medical and aesthetic terms as in (almost entirely MTFs) seeking reassignment surgeries, electrolysis, cosmetic surgery, big and tall dresses, makeup and wigs.

And while I’m not thrilled with the way our country has confused capitalism with democracy, I do see that when an individual or community is not recognized as viable consumers they are treated as nonentities. I think that the history of the gay rights movement has shown that when the gay dollar was widely acknowledged and courted, it was followed by the acknowledgment of a gay [political] constituency. Of course it also led to the corporatization of gay pride and helped convert dangerous activists to placated consumers, so maybe it’s not something the trans community wants to emulate.

Before my trip one Floridian trans woman had warned me that Key West’s idea of “trans” was drag queens. So when our chauffer drove past the 801 Bourbon Bar and I saw a few of the drag performers standing outside, I barreled out of the car and accosted one, sputtering out a lame introduction like, “I’m a trans guy and a reporter looking for trans women on the island. Are there any T-girls here?”

“You mean pre-op?” She asks seeming completely at ease with my strange question. She takes my hand and pulls me around the corner into an alley, then through a doorway into a darkened club where she deposited me in front of the woman taking money for the 11:00 pm show.

Sitting on a stool, Marilyn is wearing a low cut blouse and very long fake eyelashes. The makeup on her face is thick, but it turns out, it doesn’t need to be. Although she hasn’t undergone gender reassignment surgery, Marilyn is on estrogen and she passes just fine. That’s the problem.

Marilyn used to be the manager of the Denny’s restaurant just down the street, but then she was injured on the job and unable to work. Forced by the bureaucracy of social security to find a job—but unable to in the face of anti-trans discrimination—Marilyn ended up at 801 Bourbon, and that’s when the trouble began.

Drunken tourists attracted to the club with promises of an exotic drag queens (who strip at the end of the show to shatter the illusion) began complaining to the management about a real woman working there.

“That’s when I created this alter ego named John,” Marilyn says, between stamping the wrists of customers so they can come and go during the upstairs performance. ““John’s this truck driver. I’d go over and talk to these guys like this—” Marilyn puffs out her shoulders and lowers her voice to a growl, “I’m all man. See these?” She swipes her chest, “they ain’t real. Silicon. I’m just doing this to put my kids through college.”

Marilyn shakes her head and laughs. “But I couldn’t keep it up. See my fake eyelashes and this make-up? I don’t need them. I’d pass without them. It’s my compromise.” She doesn’t pretend to be John as much anymore. Now she lets the thick make-up cake her face so patrons will assume she’s covering up a five o’clock shadow. She's in an all new closet.

Although Marilyn says she’s often the only trans person to sit on educational panels, she’s far from the only one on the island. “There are a lot of us.” She claims. “Both women and men—though the guys usually don’t want anyone to know.” She tells me that there used to be a support group that met once a week but she says they didn’t get a lot of support from the rest of the community and interest died out a while ago.

After talking to Marilyn for a while I pop upstairs to watch part of the show. On my way out, a man walks in and says, “Oh hi, Marilyn.” Ironically, it’s the guy from Key West’s tourism board, the gay market guru who arranged the LGBT press tour and worried there wouldn’t be anything for me to write about. The same guy who couldn’t give me the name of one trans person on the island.

He knows Marilyn by name. Maybe he just doesn’t know she’s trans.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Grasping At Straws and Straw Men

The vitriol over at Traditional Values Coalition is heating up. As Bil over at Bilerico has reported :

"The Traditional Values Coalition has a series of offensive cartoons they've been circulating since ENDA became a possibility. While the group isn't known for their Christ-like love of truth, this latest flier steps outside of their usual circle of lies and deceit to directly attack two people who, as far as I know, aren't doing anything to their organization."
You can find the offending cartoon here. Why are they doing this? They are desperate. New polling data conducted by Harris Interactive suggests that a majority of Americans support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Charles C. Haynes of the First Amendment Center said of the Matthew Shepard Act:
"But the larger message of the House vote is that a majority of representatives may now be ready to enact other laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. More than threats to free speech, it is the mainstream acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people that many Christian conservative groups most fear.

That’s why victory bells on one side are answered by alarm bells on the other."
Essentially it's the same reason they fear ENDA. They're fighting for their mandate to hate and they'll do anything to keep it. They'll even break the 8th commandment to do it (Their photoshopped image is stolen, original image here). If you're going to steal images, you might want to try to do a better job of photoshopping.

Christ was right, you will know them by the fruit they produce.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

San Quentin Trans

There are interviews with two transgender prisoners in the MSNBC documentary about San Quentin. They’re both positive about being there, and one woman in particular is pretty pleased that she can live with her husband in prison.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

FTMs in India

An article predominantly about lesbians and FTMs in India (despite the photo of MTFs dancing) appeared in The Hindu, India’s national paper. The West is blamed for intolerant attitudes:

The hostility to alternate sexualities, LesBIT activists say, is a modern phenomenon. Evidence of lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships can be found in Vedic literature, tantra, Sufi poetry, and in the ancient sculptures o f Konark and Khajuraho. The criminalisation of gay, lesbian and transgender sexuality is, however, a product of the Victorian morality of British colonialism. What is interesting is that while homosexual marriages are today legally recognised in the United Kingdom, they continue to be criminalised in India.

That is, the Hjira may be evidence of a tolerant past, but their existence doesn’t prove a tolerant present.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Gendercator Part I

I saw a screener of the film The Gendercator today. This is the film that has been at the center of controversy since a group of (primarily) trans folk protested its showing at San Francisco Frameline Film Festival and succeeded in getting the film pulled from the festival line up.
Helen Boyd wrote a post about the film and protest earlier this year, and a number of trans folk have said (mostly off the record) that they were concerned by the film being pulled because it bordered on censorship.

Although I'll be doing a more indepth analysis of the film later, I'll share some of my initial thoughts. First and foremost I found the film a disappointment. Although the lesbian director, Catherine Crouch, has been involved in the writing and directing of noteworthy and award winning films like Stranger Inside and Stray Dogs, The Gendercator fails to live up to that standard. It's simply not a good film. The ironic part of this situation is that the controversy around the film has created far more interest and attention than the film deserves.

I have to admit that I was also disappointed that The Gendercator failed to do what some supporters hoped it would: address the real concerns that the lesbian community has about "losing" butch women to the world of men. While that concern might be a valid--if controversial--subject matter for a film, Crouch did not adequately or eloquently address it here. Instead her film and the protests it generated have done a disservice by likely precluding any real investigation into the perception of the endangered butch. Fearing a similar response filmmakers and festivals will likely steer clear of potentially controversial subject matter in the future.

The controversy also pitched lesbians against trans men and women, threatening to further deepen the growing chasm between our communities. That all of this occurred over a relatively inconsequential film is truly a shame.

I was offended by The Gendercator. But I think I was more offended as a feminist than a trans man. The film opens with what appears to be archival footage from the Sixties or Seventies in which a number of women-loving-women are loving women and getting high. One of these doobie puffing lesbians falls asleep and wakens Rip Van Winkle-like decades into the future, where she describes herself as "just doing my own thing" and "partying."

It seems that Crouch means the protagonist from the feminist era to contrast with a future where feminism has failed and the borders of gender are controlled by enforced sex reassignment surgeries. As a feminist I found it offensive that this character was more interested in getting stoned and playing softball than fighting the power or protesting the treatment of women.

Maybe Crouch means to situate the character as a sort of "natural" lesbian, one that pre-dates and is located outside of feminist criticisms of patriarchy that led some women to "choose" womyn-loving as political lesbians? I'm not sure.

Nor do I understand why she uses soccer as the metaphoric opposite of softball. Unless the U.S. is overrun by immigrant concerns (not reflected in the all white future of the Gendercator) I don't see soccer pushing football out of the glorified position as "real men"s favorite sport.

As you can see, there's much to criticize in this film, even when you don't examine how it portrays transsexuals.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Monica Helms: The DNC Is Ready to Embrace Us

In this essay posted on Monica Roberts' TransGriot blog, Monica Helms of the Transgender Americans Veterans Association (TAVA) talks about her experiences working with the DNC which she concludes by writing:

What I personally would like to see is an increase in registered Democrats in the transgender community and to see an increase in transgender people volunteering with the DNC at a local level. I would also hope to live long enough to see an openly transgender person speak from the podium at the democratic National Convention and to see an openly transgender person elected to Congress. This is truly the MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION in our lifetimes. It is time for the Democratic Party to fully recognize us a part of their party, on all levels. They appear to be doing that. Now, it’s time for us to help Democrats on all levels of government to win in 2008.

I'm a Boy, I'm a Boy, But My Momma Won't Admit It

I heard a story last weekend about a trans man in a rock and roll band. This was on NPR. The story can be listened to here:

The singer in the band started out as a woman, then did the guy thing. I was thinking that it was a pretty good story on the whole, and a little different from the Same Old Story. For one, it was about a transman, and for another, it was about music and gender-- the protagonist sounded like a smart guy, and I felt good for him.

One thing that gave me pause, though, was this-- he said he's not taking T-- not for the usual reasons, but because he doesn't want to lose his female singing voice.

And I thought, oh for heaven's sake.

It struck me as an example--not a particularly nefarious one-- of the way transpeople want to "dance at both weddings." That is, he wants most of the topography of maleness, except for this one part of femaleness that still does well by him. And my first thought was, as the church lady used to say, Ohh, how con-VEEN-ient.

When I transitioned I was well aware not only of what I was gaining--a sense of peace and solace-- but of what I was losing-- male privilege (such as it was in my case) and a more stable world (in many ways). I accepted that moving from one gender to the other meant that I was surrendering, in large measure, most of the goodies that came with being a boy. I didn't mind too much; what I was gaining meant more to me.

We echoed some of this discussion in the thread where we were talking about the way transmen are considered "honorary women" at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival; Julie Serrano's book talks about this eloquently.

And so I kind of thought, jeezo-peezo man, don't do the crime if you can't do the time. If you're gonna be a Jet-- well, you konw. Be a Jet All the Way, from your first cigarette to your last dying day.

BUT THEN. I thought, well jeez, man. Is this really just another example of the ol' binary thing raising its head again? Who says a man can't have a singing voice like a woman? Is that really such a bad thing for trans-dom? It sounds like it's a good thing for this singer-- so why can't I--of all people!-- just say, okay, brother. You go.

I mean, after all, I've written at great lenght about how, as a woman, I have masculine traits that I'm not going to apologise for. I'll be just as masculine or feminine as I wanna be, thanks very much.

And yet, i wonder if this is the same thing as deliberately not taking testosterone in order to keep your masculine voice?

Bahamas TV - No, TS

Here’s a friendly, though odd and occasionally tense, interview on a local Bahamas TV show with a resident transsexual woman. She does seem to give as good as she gets, & stands up for herself in cool ways, but the interviewers - despite their joking, confusion & homophobia - do pretty okay with it. They seem genuinely astonished that a Bahamanian could be trans.

Part 1
- Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4