WI Book Festival Reading of Love, Always

I’ll be reading from the Love, Always anthology with my friend Miriam Hall and another contributor, Shawnee Parens, on 10/24 at 3PM at A Room of One’s Own bookstore.

Excited.

She’s The Woman I Married

There is something star-crossed about trans couples sometimes,” Boyd says when I meet up with her a few days later. “I was very much in love with my husband, and I will always miss being married to that person. The thing that helped me around it a little bit was realizing I was never married to him, I was married to somebody who looked like him and who I could project all that himness onto, but when I go back and look at our wedding photos, it’s like, ‘She was making such a valiant effort to look like a man, like a groom.’ I never married a guy, I married a woman.” – Helen Boyd

from New York magazine’s article “My Husband is Now My Wife” by Alex Morris, online today. 

Here from New York?

I was interviewed for an article titled “My Husband Is Now My Wife” for New York magazine recently, and while the online version isn’t up yet, the issue is out.

So if you’ve shown up here as a result of it, some info:

Here are My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married, my first two books.

Ever After, the third that I’m currently writing, I haven’t sold yet, and am still seeking an agent & publisher for it.

Please feel free to search this site for whatever resources you’re seeking: this blog is more than a decade old and it there’s a lot to find, but here are the basics:

  1. our message boards (the mHB forums)
  2. the private partners list I run and moderate
  3. my letter to a wife who just found out

There’s a recent interview with me in SalonDan Savage’s podcast where he asked me about how often crossdressers transition, and of course, feel free to contact me (helenbkramer@gmail.com) if you have a question.

 

 

No Ads

I’ve removed any and all ads that were on this site with some hope that that might get me through some of the more porn-sensitive “net nannys” and filter systems used. I regularly hear from readers that they can’t access this blog when they’re at Panera or the local hospital or at work, so I thought I’d give this a shot.

I was never very good at figuring out how to get Google Ads to filter their content and which ads wound up on my site and frankly, it was never worth very much anyway, especially not since FB when people stopped coming to the actual blog to read my stuff. I’m not sure if people realize how much ad revenue went down even for tiny blogs like mine as a result of FB, but it did.

Anyway, if you’re a regular reader or user of the MHB boards, I do always appreciate donations to cover the cost of hosting and the like. 

 

U.S. Trans Survey (Closes 9/21)

If you haven’t yet taken NCTE’s current trans survey, get to it! It will close on Monday, 9/21, & it’s important they hear all your voices.

By *all*, I mean especially those who tend not to do online surveys or who are otherwise often cut out by mainstream trans representation:

  • those who have stayed married
  • crossdressers who identify as trans*
  • genderqueer individuals
  • older trans people
  • trans people of color

Please, folks, this is your chance to get counted. If you tried before and it didn’t work, do try again: they’ve got a fitter system in place.

 

Woman’s Rights Man

Because I’ll be teaching him Tuesday, I thought I’d share this piece by Douglass on why he was for women’s suffrage:

“At this distance of time from that convention at Rochester, and in view of the present position of the question, it is hard to realize the moral courage it required to launch this unwelcome movement. Any man can be brave when the danger is over, go to the front when there is no resistance, rejoice when the battle is fought and the victory is won; but it is not so easy to venture upon a field untried with one-half the whole world against you, as these women did.

Then who were we, for I count myself in, who did this thing? We were few in numbers, moderate in resources, and very little known in the world. The most that we had to commend us was a firm conviction that we were in the right, and a firm faith that the right must ultimately prevail. But the case was well considered. Let no man imagine that the step was taken recklessly and thoughtlessly. Mrs. Stanton had dwelt upon it at least six years before she declared it in the Rochester convention. Walking with her from the house of Joseph and Thankful Southwick, two of the noblest people I ever knew, Mrs. Stanton, with an earnestness that I shall never forget, unfolded her view on this woman question precisely as she had in this Council. This was six and forty years ago, and it was not until six years after, that she ventured to make her formal, pronounced and startling demand for the ballot. She had, as I have said, considered well, and knew something of what would be the cost of the reform she was inaugurating. She knew the ridicule, the rivalry, the criticism and the bitter aspersions which she and her co-laborers would have to meet and to endure. But she saw more clearly than most of us that the vital point to be made prominent, and the one that included all others, was the ballot, and she bravely said the word. It was not only necessary to break the silence of woman and make her voice heard, but she must have a clear, palpable and comprehensive measure set before her, one worthy of her highest ambition and her best exertions, and hence the ballot was brought to the front.

There are few facts in my humble history to which I look back with more satisfaction than to the fact, recorded in the history of the woman-suffrage movement, that I was sufficiently enlightened at that early day, and when only a few years from slavery, to support your resolution for woman suffrage. I have done very little in this world in which to glory except this one act—and I certainly glory in that. When I ran away form slavery, it was for myself; when I advocated emancipation, it was for my people; but when I stood up for the rights of woman, self was out of the question, and I found a little nobility in the act.”

It’s that bit at the end, which I’ve cited before, which is the best argument for being an inclusive social justice ally – a little nobility is where it’s at.

The Trevor Project: SEPT 10TH IS SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY

Dear Friends,

Today, on September 10th, people around the world will take action to raise awareness as part of World Suicide Prevention Day. At The Trevor Project, we fight this fight 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The statistics are staggering: the risk of suicide for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning youth is three to four times higher than their straight peers. Even more heartbreaking, the risk of suicide for transgender youth is even higher.

With your support, we can help prevent suicide. This past year, we reached nearly 200,000 youth through our crisis intervention and suicide prevention services. Our amazing staff and volunteers worked hard to answer more calls on our Trevor Lifeline, take more chats and text messages on TrevorChat and TrevorText, and support more members on TrevorSpace, our safe social media platform for LGBTQ youth and allies. So today, thanks to their efforts and supporters like you, more LGBTQ youth than ever before were able to turn to The Trevor Project—even in their darkest moments.

We are so proud to be making this impact, but our fight is far from over. Last year, the demand for our services was higher than we could meet. So, starting this year, in response to increased demand for our digital services, we are launching important new initiatives to help bolster our prevention efforts. These initiatives include the expansion of hours for TrevorText, the introduction of a critical suicide prevention research effort, and the launch of a more interactive and mobile-friendly version of TrevorSpace.

Take action today, on World Suicide Prevention Day, and help us keep this important work moving forward. Please advocate and raise awareness about our efforts, educate your community about the challenges LGBTQ youth face, or help provide crisis services through volunteering with The Trevor Project. Most importantly, so that we can continue the life-saving work that we do, please donate to The Trevor Project and consider making a regular contribution through one of our monthly or annual giving programs. We rely on you, our supporters, to directly impact our LGBTQ youth, their educators, parents, friends, and allies.

Help save even more LGBTQ lives on World Suicide Prevention Day.

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. For more information visit TheTrevorProject.org
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the Trevor Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386

Guest Author: Michaela Ivri Mendelsohn, My Top Manager is a Transwoman

I first met Kristy after she had been working for a month at one of my El Pollo Loco restaurants in Thousand Oaks, California. Kristy is a tall dark haired Latina, transwoman in her late twenties.  While observing her, the first thing I noticed was a caring and good natured attitude with our customers.  She was our first transgender employee and I was anxious to meet her. The manager who hired her put her front and center at the cash register, which is where she belongs. She is great with customers. As we got to know each other she told me the story of what had happened at a previous job with Taco Bell.  Kristy had worked at a Taco Bell in the Ventura County area. Though she clearly identified as a woman, the manager told her she must use the men’s bathroom. While using the bathroom one day, she was sexually molested by a customer. Her employer’s response was to tell her, she could use the women’s room but only when no other women are inside. One time, while using the women’s restroom, a female customer entered after Kristy was inside. This customer complained to her husband about a man dressed as a woman in the ladies room. Her husband pressured store management into firing Kristy. Unfortunately, her story is not unique. I have heard so many stories just like hers from other transwomen.

The basic need for any transgender person to get a foothold in this world is to have a decent job. Today transwomen are more than twice as likely to be living in poverty. There are considerable barriers both social and legal to obtaining a job as well as to transition while on the job. More than 3 of 5 transgender persons work in states that have no protection for gender identity in the workplace. Based on six studies done between 1996 and 2006, 20 to 57 percent of transgender respondents said they experience employment discrimination, including being fired, denied a promotion or harassed. Though even more difficult to measure, transgender people also face considerable barriers in the job application process.  Even in California, which has laws in place against gender discrimination in the workplace, transgender workers are often treated at best as second class citizens.

In Kristy’s situation, over a year had gone by and it was past the statute to file a lawsuit. I was disappointed.  I wanted Kristy to have justice. We also need high profile lawsuits to let employers know there will be severe punishment for gender discrimination in the workplace. In the end though, it is possible that the transgender success stories told by employers, will bring about the greatest change.  Kristy has done extremely well with us. Our customers adore her. Today she is the general manager of our busiest restaurant and I could not be more proud of her. In fact the restaurant she manages is ranked number two our of over 400 units in the El Pollo Loco chain for quality and customer service. We are now at six trans-employees and growing. Two others have made it into management. I am quite certain there will more success stories to follow.

Fun Home: The Musical

I have to admit first that I don’t like musicals. Never have. I don’t understand them as a genre or as a medium.

But of course Fun Home the book has a special place in my heart – I’ll be doing a lecture for all the first-year students on the novel in early November – so I really had to see it.

Two things stuck out to me: her father was played by a heavier set, frumpier kind of guy than I thought was accurate. None of her drawings of her father struck me that way – instead, I saw a slender, muscular guy who was still in the prime of his life, even if he was (of course) closeted and a jerk of a dad. I felt like the choice disappeared his sexuality more than it might have. That said, he was still fantastic – amazing actor, singer, everything else. But I wanted to see the guy in the very 70s cut-off denim shorts; it strikes me that his story is very different otherwise.

The song I expected to make me cry – “Ring of Keys” – was not the one that did. It was “Telephone Wire” that got me – that desire to connect with him, that knowledge that she both does, and doesn’t. Or does as much as is possible, considering him.

What was really remarkable was the presence of Bechdel-the-artist onstage the whole time. As much as her voice and her text are part of the book, you’re very rarely aware of her presence otherwise, or made aware of it, and that in the musical she is always onstage, always watching her own memories unfold, occasionally commenting on them (physically or verbally) made it, in a sense, a play about the artist creating the book. The book has that in it, but it brought that post-modern quality to the front in a very direct, very accessible way.

What was lost – a big loss for me – were all the literary references, the drawings of the places, the books and their visible titles, the queer literary history. I don’t think there’s a mention of either Proust or Wilde, and no, I have no idea how they might have pulled that off, but it disappointed this geek a little.

Still, as per Playbill, Lisa Kron says: “There’s a deep river of yearning that flows through Alison’s book that made it ripe for translation into the musical form. This is a family that is profoundly alienated from their own powerful emotions. But because music is such an efficient emotional delivery system, we could it it to convey the oceans of feeling swirling below the surface of this checked-out family at the same time the dialogue and lyrics are showing us how little access they have to any of that feeling.”

And THAT, it does, and does amazingly well.

 

Guest Author: Zoe Dolan, ‘Transgender Cinderella’

What an awesome little excerpt from my friend and author Zoe Dolan’s book about what it’s like to date as a trans woman. Probably NSFW, and not for the faint hearted.

Once I was living as female, but before sex change surgery, my dreams were bounded by what I came to identify as the Cinderella Syndrome. I loved to go dancing, since on the dancefloor I could sink into the beat and movement around me. Men would come and go, drifting toward me and away, and sometimes closer and closer until we were dancing with our hips together. I felt the heat of their breaths upon my skin and the beads of sweat on the back of their necks as I ran my hands along their spines and floated up into a kiss.

But I always dreaded what I sought most: a moment of intimacy. At that point my coach would turn back into a pumpkin and my gown would disappear in an instant.

When I was studying abroad in Leiden, Holland, during law school, I met a handsome Italian whom I’ll call Adriano. At a get-together with other students, he stared across the room at me the whole evening. I tried to ignore what was happening, to no avail. I could not sustain conversation with whomever I was talking to. After a few minutes I got up to leave; but he intercepted me. The next thing I knew, I was in a conversation with him, trying to catch the breath he was taking away.

Adriano was tall and broad-shouldered, with curly dark brown hair and clear golden brown eyes. He spoke fluent English with a slight Italian accent. He had recently decided on law as an undergraduate major. He had the opportunity to come check out the Netherlands and thought he’d take the adventure north to broaden his mind. Basically, he was perfect. Continue reading “Guest Author: Zoe Dolan, ‘Transgender Cinderella’”

Stone Butch Blues Free Download for Feinberg’s Birthday

In order to celebrate the birthday of Leslie Feinberg on this day 1st September, a free .pdf of their most celebrated book Stone Butch Blues is being made available free of charge to whoever wishes to access it. Now a very popular text on many gender and sexualities courses, Leslie’s partner – Professor Minnie Bruce Platt – wants to make the book freely available.

In life, Leslie was an activist and advocate for the rights of LGBTQ people. Their communist values and their belief in open and free access to information are celebrated with the launch of this free eBook.

(via Sinclair Sexsmith, the ever awesome)

Guest Author: Darya Teesewell, Hollywood ‘Takes Care of its Own,’ Unless You are Trans, Part 2

Recently I blogged about some of the challenges that trans people who live out here in Hollywood, a.k.a. America’s Liberal Dream Factory, face when it comes to health care.

Let me underline exactly what those challenges mean. First, let’s look at the big, broad, macro level of Hollywood optics. I’ll use two celebrity examples; let’s make it clear that since I know nothing of their own health care needs or realities, the “examples” are purely hypothetical.

Eddie Redmayne is a talented actor who will appear in the film The Danish Girl as Lili Elbe, one of the modern world’s first transsexual women. Mr. Redmayne is, as far as I know, a cisgender (meaning non-trans) man. If the film was made under Hollywood-based Screen Actors Guild agreements, Mr. Redmayne would most likely qualify for the Motion Picture Health Plan. So we have a cisgender man playing a transsexual woman in a big-budget blockbuster movie who qualifies for his male-oriented health care because…well…he’s human, and a man.

Laverne Cox is an award-winning actress who has appeared on Orange is the New Black, and is an outspoken, eloquent advocate for rights of trans people. Let’s say she made a film, or worked on a T.V. series under the Hollywood SAG agreement and had enough hours to qualify for health care. She might qualify, but the plan would still be able to refuse her trans-specific health care, in spite of her humanity and legal status as a woman.

Not being an idiot, I don’t think that’s likely to happen, and really, Ms. Cox’s health care is none of my damn business. But let’s make a theoretical comparison to Mr. Redmayne; Laverne would be a trans woman playing a part (trans or not) in a movie or series with contracts that include coverage under the same plan, but whether she gets trans-specific health care is completely up to the administrators of the plan. If the administrators decide that her care was part of that two-word exception “gender change”, they would be within their rights to refuse her.

Mr. Redmayne, playing a trans woman: no problem. Ms. Cox, a real trans woman: we’ll get back to you. Continue reading “Guest Author: Darya Teesewell, Hollywood ‘Takes Care of its Own,’ Unless You are Trans, Part 2”