Category: trans

IN Just Made Bigotry Legal

Posted by – March 24, 2015

from Lambda Legal, via Jillian Weiss:

Today, the Indiana House of Representatives, with a vote of 63-31, passed a bill designed to allow private businesses, individuals and organizations to discriminate against anyone in Indiana on religious grounds. Lambda Legal condemns SB 101’s passage, which Governor Pence has vowed to sign into Indiana law.

We are extremely disappointed that Indiana’s House, despite knowing the vast implications for all Hoosiers, voted to facilitate religious discrimination in many areas of life for Indiana’s families, workers and others. Once the governor signs this bill into law, women, racial minorities, religious minorities, people living with HIV and many others will be much more vulnerable to the whims of any individual or business owner who refuses services to particular groups of people based on religious objections to who those people are.

We urge members of the LGBT community to alert Lambda Legal if they experience discrimination explained as due to religious beliefs about gay or transgender people. If you have questions or feel that you have been discriminated against based on your sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status, please contact our Legal Help Desk http://www.lambdalegal.org/help.

Tell Your Story to the US Commission

Posted by – March 24, 2015

If you have been discriminated against & you’re trans, NCTE is now taking testimony. You can submit your story as Anonymous if necessary, as this testimony will appear in public documents.

Five Questions With… Miriam

Posted by – March 21, 2015

The last (for now!) of my interviews with partners of trans people who wrote narratives for Transgress Press’ Love, Always, is not, by far, the least. Miriam Hall is also a friend, fellow writer, & fellow Wisconsinite. She’s a writer and photographer and teaches both as contemplative practice. You can check out more of what she does at her website.

1. What didn’t you write about in your narrative but wish you had?

I am always writing about this process, so there’s nothing I wish I had included in this particular essay that I won’t just include elsewhere. One of the hard things about this process is that just when I think I’ve “finished” a particular experience and can write about it, then something else emerges. The writing is a living process – not a reporting, but something that then feeds back into my life and vice-versa.

I know that I will look back later and wish I had a clearer view on co-dependency, say, in this essay, but I also know enough by now to know that its worth it to write as I go along, not just “after I have figured it out completely.”

2. What is the biggest misunderstanding you confront as a partner to a trans person?

The biggest misunderstanding I encounter is the assumption that this is their experience. This one is really subtle, but it’s a constant micro-aggression: How is she doing? That must be really hard for her! I can’t imagine what that is like for her! These are good signs that folks are expressing compassion and concern for her, but – and this is not all folks for sure – often that overlooks the person who is right in front of them.

3. Where do you get your support?

I get my support from a few main folks. I have feet in various support communities – including yours! – but I am really a one-to-one person. As Ilana’s transition quiets down, increasingly I find I can get the support I need from non-trans involved folks (eg soffas and trans folk, who were more my main support in the first few years). Plus my peeps are pretty well trained by now.

4. How has your experience been in bringing up your own difficulties with the trans person you’re partnered to?

We have a lot of co-dependency in our relationship – Hello! Normal for everyone! – and I am starting to understand how to look at it in that more universal way. It’s not that trans relationships are all co-dependent, it’s that transitioning makes everything – e-ver-y-thing – that much harder, while also masking it all at the same time. It is really only now, post-transition, that I am even allowing my own issues to really come to the front. That having been said, we do have an exceptionally loving and supportive partnership, so I have never felt she only wanted to focus on her own issues only.


5. Do you think you would partner with other kinds of trans people? That is, if you are partnered to someone feminine spectrum, would you date someone who is masculine spectrum? If they’re binary, someone genderqueer?

Yes. I am certain now that I am queer. I always identified as bisexual, but now I realize I am more than that – or not just that. Spectrum sexual. Attracted in particular to folks whose genders are in flux, in terms of presentation, as well as whose physical sexes are in flux. Somehow – call it my Buddhist-ness – I am more comfortable with the ambiguous and constantly changing than the fixed.

Erica 3.0 Beta

Posted by – March 18, 2015

A brilliant, geeky post by a friend about her ongoing exploration of what it means to be her.

A note from the design team

It is difficult to believe that Project Erica has been going on for over fifteen years! The idea of creating a workable system that would gain public acceptance has animated the lead developer for nearly 40 years. For most of that time, feasibility and resource allocation issues, together with limitations of imagination, kept Erica on the shelf. Now, the design team has pulled together all the release notes to date: what better way to look forward to the next fifteen years!

Alpha (pre-1998)

The idea for the product that would eventually become Erica started as a series of random experiments. It was clear from the earliest operation of the system that it was probably capable of running both in standard mode and (what would eventually be named) Erica mode. Still, while the core concept was always intriguing, the practical considerations and internal issues never indicated that a real prototype would ever develop. The period until 1998 is best considered the “Alpha” stage of Project Erica.

Tina 1.0 (April 1998)

The first integrated prototype that bears any resemblance to Erica as now in circulation was code-named Tina. The developers were able to demonstrate it in limited internal testing in early 1998. Tina’s general shape, as well as the “look and feel” of the external interface, was surprisingly similar to Erica 1.0, though the final product is a bit larger due to a wider feature set.

Tina’s development was made possible by the improved availability of online tools and additional lab space. The project was mainly a hobby of the lead developer. The project manager (code-name “WIFE”) was not advised of this work, mainly because the lead developer was concerned that the project would be summarily shut down (as being incompatible with Corporate priorities) and partly because all activity was performed off-the-clock.

Tina 1.1 (August 1998)

Minor incremental improvements to the external interface were delivered during 1998, resulting in Tina 1.1. This was the first product release that was photo-documented, though no user manual or external documentation was published or released. Eventually, of course, the product would be subjected to extensive photo-documentation, as well as a real-time user experience manual (discontinued in 2010) for the benefit of developers of similar products.

Tina 1.2 (January 1999)

Bug fix addressing an external error: insufficient skins for the core product. Easily remedied by recourse to readily available online tools (eBay.com, Macys.com and victoriassecret.com). By this point, the code name had been adopted as the de facto product name.

Tina 1.3-1.6 (various release dates from 1999-2000)

Minor improvements to the external interface. Also, with the resources of the internet community deployed, the number of product skins proliferated to the point where the developers had to worry about system storage resources! More ominously, during this period it became apparent that one major external issue and several internal issues precluded any chance of Tina achieving full potential. The internal factors have been amply documented elsewhere – particularly in the real-time user experience manual. (See http://ericacd.livejournal.com/) The external issue was persistent and serious: a “beta external application rendering defect”. This was a recurring concern to the development team that ultimately was called by its acronym: B.E.A.R.D. There was no question that even if the internal issues could be resolved, the B.E.A.R.D would preclude any external release or public consumption. Put simply, the market would have rejected the prototype utterly.

Tina 2.0 / Erica Beta 0.1 (September 2000)

An enormous breakthrough arose in September 2000. It was determined that a minor subroutine, applied during bootup every morning, temporarily eliminated B.E.A.R.D. When the developers finally saw the external interface freed from the B.E.A.R.D., they were astonished at how polished a product they had on their hands. (B.E.A.R.D. had profoundly obscured the incremental developments since version 1.2.) Following some extensive photo-documentation of this quantum leap in the external interface, the developers realized that some of the internal issues were also rendered less serious. The reason for this change is still unknown. The photo documentation of Tina 2.0 was released in white paper format to a limited subset of the internet community; response was highly favorable.

Due to poor interaction with Marketing, this prototype was interchangeably known as “Tina” and “Erica”. While the genesis of the name “Tina” is unknown (speculation abounds), “Erica” was easily derived from the name of a friend of the project manager. Limited focus group testing suggested that the name did not distract from the product, and the main impediment to universal acceptance of “Erica” was squarely with the developer group.
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A Note on the Term “Late Transitioner”

Posted by – March 17, 2015

To clarify: the term is used usually for trans women who live significant lives assigned male before transitioning to female. There are many trans men who transition later in life after significant lives assigned women.

They are not, by any means, the only kind of self appointed trans spokespeople who screw up. There are sometimes recently transitioned trans men who say sexist shit, or there are young, firebrand activists who don’t seem to know their history and think that anyone who transitioned over the age of 40 is a drag queen, or that trans women who came up through drag shouldn’t be considered women.

That is, “late transitioners” are a big group who often get the majority of the media attention because the whole “look at this hugely successful macho guy/captain of industry who became a girly girl” somehow delights the media. I’ve always thought it’s because we can’t, as a macho, patriarchal culture, imagine why on earth someone with so much male privilege would ever (1) “want” to be a lowly woman, and (2) because we’re generally obsessed with penises so getting rid of one is a spectacle.

Zoey Tur’s ignorance and judgment of the larger trans community is not an illness shared by all late transitioners, by any means. Many of the most awesome movers & shakers in the trans community have transitioned later in life. What I was making fun of, more than anything, is exactly how predictable this specific variety of self appointed trans spokesperson is: there are times I wonder if there is a legal, SOC-mandated need for a trans woman to immediately declare herself “not one of those icky, perverted crossdressers” because so many have done it.

I would be happy to spend some time with Ms. Tur and explain how hateful some of what she’s saying is, how the intersections of race, class, age, educational background, and family support make her kind of transition impossible for many; I could explain that I find the late transitioning women who are all too aware of their lack of passing privilege some of the most amazing, heartfelt, deeply grounded people I have ever known. I could explain a lot of things, as could many others, if only she would STOP TALKING to the media and maybe learn a few things first.

What she could do, at the very least, is recognize exactly how goddamn fortunate she is to have had the money and ability to transition the way she has and to remember that many, many people are not even close to as fortunate and that those who make her uncomfortable are pretty much the same people as make the rest of the transphobic bigots uncomfortable (transitioning youth, crossdressers, people who can’t afford medical intervention, etc.) and that perhaps she should use all her good fortune to make the world better for those who are the MOST VULNERABLE instead of throwing them to the media & political jackals.

In the meantime, I am hoping she can find the time, and grace, and peace to forgive herself for the horrible things she has said about some of the most awesome people in the world. We’ll leave the light on for you, Zoey. You really can be you and still be loved by this big mess of a trans community, but there’s some humble pie in your future.

Zoey Tur & The Late Transitioner’s Media Tour of Meanness Drinking Game

Posted by – March 17, 2015

First, I want to remind everyone that this awesome trans community has survived the likes of Zoey Tur and it will, no doubt, do so again. But in the meantime, to keep the rest of us from going mad, we’ve got a new drinking game. (Non drinkers, feel free to substitute with chocolate.)

& Yes, there are rules:

Drink for:
“crossdresser”, “crossdressing”
incorrect pronouns when referring to other trans people
image of putting on make up

Double drink for:
“transvestite”
Thailand
being amazed that people interrupt her/other loss of privilege
satin

Chug for:
Rocky Horror allusion, even unintentional
insulting well-respected trans women of color
denying rights to younger trans people based on genital status

Suggestions are more than welcome to complete this one. Check out Monica Roberts’ take-down for ideas.

Five Questions With… Melissa

Posted by – March 14, 2015

Melissa Contreras is an old friend, a past participant on the mHB message boards, and an amazing person. Here’s her interview, to round out the amazing narrative she wrote for Transgress Press’ Love, Always.

1. What didn’t you write about in your narrative but wish you had?

I would have liked to go into more detail about our sex life, but I honestly didn’t want to cross that line, upset her, etc. Our sex life was always amazing, it never waned in any way – it was an interesting transition, to be sure, when her body started changing, but it never ceased being “amazing”. Since it was gradual, I never had to deal with a shocking, “OH GOD WHAT IS THIS” moment, I continued to enjoy it and adapted well at every point. It was a lovely surprise, when it came down to it.

2. What is the biggest misunderstanding you confront as a partner to a trans person?

People were and are very surprised that I stuck around. People assume that I would have left or wanted to leave. honestly, I wanted to stay with her forever, and if we were going to split up, it would have been her call, not mine. I loved her and was devoted from Day One.

3. Where do you get your support?

In the beginning, I got ALL of my support from MyHusbandBetty community forums and the personal relationships I made from there. These are/were people who were in the same boat as me, in some form or another, and I valued their experience and advice.

4. How has your experience been in bringing up your own difficulties with the trans person you’re partnered to?

My biggest complaint, really, was being stuck in a ‘closet’ of sorts – she never wanted me to talk about her with other people, I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to talk about being a transpartner with other people, as it would “out” her and that was only her call to make. But this put ME in a closet, of sorts, and I had to live with ‘pretending’ for most of the time we were together. I was a very proud trans partner and wanted to shout to the world how proud I was of my wife, but she was more uncomfortable about being trans than I was being a partner, so I had to respect her wishes. Even when she came out, I had to be careful and respectful of her wishes, because it had to be on her terms and with her approval. That put me in a ‘closet’ of sorts and it was very uncomfortable, to say the least. I wanted to talk about it openly, and proudly.

5. Do you think you would partner with other kinds of trans people? That is, if you are partnered to someone feminine spectrum, would you date someone who is masculine spectrum? If they’re binary, someone genderqueer?

I consider myself bisexual, so I’m open to relationships with people all across the spectrum – I have had relationships with people of all gender identities and presentations, so it’s really not an issue for me. I’ve noticed that chemistry is the main factor regarding who I’m attracted to and I don’t have a ‘type’, so it really depends on the individual. I would date anyone I was attracted to regardless of gender, or gender identity. Going by my past and present relationships, I tend to skew towards the androgynous side, either gender. But really, it’s not a significant issue.

Trans Inclusive Student Policy

Posted by – March 13, 2015

It’s starting to feel like Whack A Mole with pending anti trans legislation (9 states now), but a local school board has come out in favor of changing their policy to be more inclusive, not less. More

Her Husband

Posted by – March 9, 2015

Narratives like this one are always so hard to read. It’s all so familiar, and brings me back to a time when I hadn’t made any peace (yet) with my partner’s transition, and I knew so much more going into the marriage, had not yet been married 20+ years, but to “Diana” – you’re not alone. There are a lot of us out here.

This paragraph, in particular:

Can I walk away? No. Can I stay? Today I don’t think I can, but my answer changes all the time. I don’t just love this man, I adore him. After all these years, he still makes my toes curl when he kisses me. Every day he makes me laugh. He holds me when I cry. We have always been there for each other. To this day, my favorite thing is falling asleep on his shoulder in front of the TV at night. I believe him when he tells me hurting me like this is heartbreaking for him. This man whom I have admired for so many years is also fighting depression and has confided in me he’s thought about taking his own life. He’s also hurting and struggling with the turmoil he’s brought into our lives. He isn’t a deceitful monster. Like me, he’s stuck between what he wants and what he can have.

I really need to get the next book written. I really, really do.

Five Questions With… Loree Cook Daniels

Posted by – February 28, 2015

Another interview with one of the partners whose narrative is in Transgress Press’ Love, Always. Loree Cook Daniel’s is the “partner’s partner” and has been working on SOFFA support and inclusion in the trans community for 20 years. She works primarily with FORGE, the awesome trans advocacy group out of Milwaukee.


1. What didn’t you write about in your narrative but wish you had?
I’ve been partnered with a trans person for a total of 32 years now; there is a LOT that wasn’t covered!

2.  What is the biggest misunderstanding you confront as a partner to a trans person?
The thing that most irritates me is when someone tells me that because “I’m cis” I don’t get it.  First of all, I don’t identify as cis. But secondly, I’ve been working on trans issues for more than 20 years, and from the beginning I have had a really strong commitment to understanding and representing the tremendous diversity there is in the trans community. It ticks me off when someone who came out last year or the year before that says that because of their experience, they know more about being trans than I do. Kinda like the heart patient who says she knows more about heart attacks than her heart surgeon: if you had a heart problem, which one would you rather get advice from? I’ve had people who said they didn’t want me to train them because they wanted to hear from a “real” trans person.

3. Where do you get your support?
When my first partner first transitioned, I was active on a lot of the partner’s listservs. But those didn’t always feel supportive to me, because Marcelle and I were not comfortable with a lot of the group norms, some of which involved being a “good (silent, nonequal) partner.”  So it seemed like I was either involved in a conflict or just giving advice from what I’d gathered in working with so many people; I didn’t get support for myself. I think this is still true.  I still have trouble finding/feeling support for me and my issues. Except, of course, that both of my partners have been *extremely* supportive of me. I just don’t feel much support from “out there.”

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Help Nick Move!

Posted by – February 22, 2015

A trans guy in IL is in an unsafe living situation and wants to move to Madison. He’s only seeking $500 for moving costs. Donate if you can.

Five Questions With… Dan

Posted by – February 21, 2015

In honor of the publication of Transgress Press’ Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge, & Resistance, I’ve done a few interviews with partners whose words appear in this book.

The first of these is with Dan, whose wife transitioned to male.


 

1.What didn’t you write about in your narrative but wish you had?

I didn’t write about sex. Make that S-E-X sex. It is a hard subject for me and for most people, I suppose. I have learned that, despite the widely held view that transgender people are, by and large, some sort of sex pervert, it seems that transitioning and post-transition folks are often asexual. It is understandable in that for many trans people, their sex organs–and in the case of trans men, their breasts–are hated reminders of their lifelong “wrong body” predicament. Still, I was not at all prepared for my partner to tell me, shortly after beginning transition, that he had lost interest in sex.

I am 69 years old as of this writing and Rob is 13 years behind me. We’ve been together, sexually, for about 35 years. We had always had a very satisfying love life, and the loss-of-interest announcement came so closely on the heels of transition that I naturally think of the two incidents as being related. Rob had been peri-menopausal for a few years before starting on “T,” and that immediately cut off the supply of estrogen and brought on full-scale menopause. It is not unusual for women to find their sex drive diminishing with menopause, but this was an abrupt and dramatic change.

For the first few years I struggled hard with this. We didn’t talk much about it, partly because I didn’t want him to feel guilty or pressured or any such thing, but I am a sexual guy. I thought about raising the possibility of opening our relationship, but discarded that idea quickly. Early in our marriage we had some experiences with sharing a third-party lover, but we gave that up as something that was simply not our style. Of course, I considered the possibility of an affair, but we have a trust-based, monogamous relationship and I would never jeopardize that, nor do I think for a moment that Rob would ever tolerate that. Neither could I, for that matter.

A couple years ago, Rob indicated that he was interested in re-establishing our sex life, but by that time we also found that he had developed one of those other post-menopausal bugbears: dryness and some pretty serious pain with intercourse. At the same time, whatever prowess I might once of had was mostly in my memories. I had hip replacement surgery when I was 60 and again three years later. The pain and mobility problems leading up to and recovering from those certainly reduced my skills and stamina for being a very energetic lover. These days I think Robin is more ready and willing to get it on than I am, not because I don’t want to or don’t find him attractive, but largely because we’re just way out of practice and, truth be told, we’re just not as young as we were when this all started.

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PFLAG & Me: Wednesday 2/18

Posted by – February 16, 2015

fixsociety

I’ll be speaking about trans lives, and specifically about supporting trans youth, this Wednesday at Lawrence. 6:30, Steitz 102, open to the public.

“You still have your boxes.”

Posted by – February 7, 2015

The always elegant Janet Mock talks to Bill Maher. They cover a few things – Tambour & Transparent, Jenner’s possible transness, etc. – but the very last bit is his question about why Facebook now has 56 genders. She points out that Tumblr has 1000. He is, as are many people, baffled by the possibilities.

She clarifies:

“Those options don’t effect your options. How I identify, whatever box I check, doesn’t effect your boxes. You still have your boxes.”

 

I’ve read in a few pieces about poly that people often think of love the way they think of money, as a limited resource, when love is nothing like that – you have as much as you want or need. Same as with gender, no?

Missing OH Teen Found Safe

Posted by – February 4, 2015

Such a relief. No statement yet (that I’ve seen) from the family, so there’s no point in guessing until or unless we hear from them what happened.

Either way, the rarest of rare things: a missing trans person is found safe & sound.

OH: Missing Trans Youth

Posted by – February 1, 2015

ashley

MISSING TRANS YOUTH — LAST SEEN IN COLUMBUS — GOES BY ASHLEY

15 YRS OLD

Magenta colored hair

Brown Eyes

Slender built
6ft tall

Ashley was in Columbus with Mom for Ohayocon at the Columbus Convention Center. Ashley also goes by the name Ray and is gender fluid.

If you have any information on Ashley’s whereabouts, please contact the Columbus Police Department at 614-645-4545 or TransOhio at 614-441-8167.

Please share widely.

(via TransOhio)

NYT Gets Tipton Wrong

Posted by – January 25, 2015

The NYT reviwed Nellie McKay’s show about Billy Tipton. The title of the review is “Exploring a Jazzman and Gender Identity” which is all well & good, but the subtitle, “Nellie McKay Plays the Drag King Billy Tipton at 54 Below,” is what made me roll my eyes.

I mean, really? Tipton lived his entire life as a man, so much so that all three of his wives had no idea he was assigned female at birth. He died at home to avoid going to the hospital so that his secret might not be uncovered.

That is NOT the behavior or life experience or someone who was doing drag.

That doesn’t mean that passing women – that is, masculine women who lived in the world as men – were all trans. I’m sure plenty weren’t – that despite being taken for male by others and appreciating some of the advantages of passing as a straight man and not as a lesbian provided – that they were comfortable being women. Their wives and lovers often knew even if no one else did.

But Tipton? Nothing I’ve ever read about him convinces me he knew himself to be a woman – even as a woman who passed as a man.

I don’t know what the show is like but I know the image of McKay in an oversized suit struck me as comic and playful – clownish, you might say – in a way that upset me. The name of the show is “A Girl Named Bill.” And that makes me sad and tired and angry.

I don’t really know what her take is as I haven’t seen it, but the historical record – including Middlebrook’s bio – keep regendering Tipton using female pronouns. It doesn’t seem right.

Tipton lived his whole life as male and used male pronouns for himself when he was alive. Without getting into a taxonomical bullshit argument about the differences between passing women and drag kinds and trans men, can we all, maybe, just maybe, respect the pronouns he did use and the life he lived and not re-gender him based on what gender he was assigned at birth, to stop making his life some kind of curiosity, some stupid gender experiment or performance?

His gender probably allowed him a career in jazz that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. And that’s all. His life wasn’t lived so someone could come along and make some kind of feminist point with it. It just was. And if we come to know that jazz was too sexist for a woman to make it in as a result, we can thank him for that without disrespecting his life choices.

 

UCBoulder Call for Workshops

Posted by – January 12, 2015

The good folks at University of Colorado @ Boulder are gearing up for their next TRANSforming Gender conference – to be held in March 2015 – and are accepting workshop proposals until the end of this month.

 

SOFFA Jill Soloway

Posted by – January 11, 2015

Jill Soloway just gave an acceptance speech that was awesome in recognizing Leelah Alcorn, all the trans people who die too young, her parent/moppa, and the larger trans community.

Kick ASS.

Go cis allies!

8:40PM, Edited to add- Jeffrey Tambour thanks the trans community for courage, inspiration, patience, and for letting the cast and crew of Transparent be part of the change while thanking, by name, Jenny Boylan, Rhys Ernst, and Zachary Drucker.

 

Afterword: Partners

Posted by – January 10, 2015

So, partners, I’m finishing up an Afterword for a book of writings by us, and what I want to know is this:

  • What is it essential that I mention?
  • What are the things that no one ever says about us?
  • What don’t we get credit for?
  • What do we need from the larger trans community?

Be quick about your answers; I’m nearly done already.