The Most Important Transition Question

I haven’t posted anything here in a while, normally I just use my own blog for stuff.  I thought this video was worth posting here because it concerns the entire trans community.  I’ve been wanting to make this video for a while and I finally got around to doing it, so here it is.

Stillettos and Sneakers – Haggard and God

alexandra_59-websizeThe amazing transgender actress Alexandra Billings is an even more amazing writer, in my opinion. She presents her opinion in ways that can really make you see complex issues much more clearly and succinctly. I’ve been following her Livejournal for some time now.

Today I noticed Alex had posted about Ted Haggard’s appearance on the Oprah Show. I like the way she doesn’t take the “He’s just a hypocrite” stance that so many other LGBTQ bloggers have. I like the way she can understand why he says the things he does. I like the way that she clearly makes the point that Haggard and his family could resolve the situation without losing their faith – that it’s the rules of their particular religion that prevents them from doing so right now.

And most of all, I like her last four paragraphs which demonstrate an insight that I’ve not seen expressed anywhere else. Anyone in a relationship in which one partner realizes their sexual or gender identity differs from the one they originally presented to their partner can learn from this, especially if they also have a strong religious faith.

As I commented on the post, the sad thing is that neither Haggard nor his wife are likely to ever read Alexandra’s words.

I Have a Dream!

I originally posted this one year ago today on my old Yahoo 360 blog, while the wound from transgender people being excluded from ENDA by HRC and Barney Frank was very raw (it still is).

Today is the day in the United States that we celebrate the dream of equality and freedom that the Rev. Martin Luther, Jr. inspired in this country and, I hope, in the world. There is not much that any of us can add to his inspiring words, so I simply invite all of you to take 17 1/2 minutes of your day to listen to his words and to share his dream. (The video and the direct link to YouTube are below.) As you do so, you might want to note as I did, the following words, which seem so appropriate today as we struggle for recognition of equal rights for all transgender people against the argument that we need to wait our turn, that incrementalism is the path to freedom and justice for us:

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.” (Beginning @ 5:15 on the video below)

I followed up the next day with another post on Martin Luther King’s opposition to incrementalism and how he convinced LBJ that that was not the right approach:

As I noted yesterday, in his “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. opposed applying “the tranquilizing drug of gradualism” to the civil rights struggle of that time.

More information about Dr. King’s opposition to that strategy came out last night on Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS. During that program, Moyers recounted a previously unrevealed conversation between Dr. King and Lyndon Johnson that Moyers was privy to as a young presidential aide. (You can watch or read the transcript of this program here: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/01182008/watch4.html.) Initially, LBJ tried to convince Dr. King to quell the demonstrations and other unrest that he and others were encouraging, in order to help Johnson convince the white supremacists in Congress to approve the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In keeping with his words at the Lincoln Memorial, King refused, saying that “his people had already waited too long. He talked about the murders and lynchings, the churches set on fire, children brutalized, the law defied, men and women humiliated, their lives exhausted, their hearts broken.” After listening to King, Johnson changed his mind and told King to “keep doing what you’re doing, and make it possible for me to do the right thing.” King did as asked, LBJ used his legendary arm-twisting skills in the Senate and one of the most important pieces of legislation of the last century, and one that today provides the only glimmer of hope for protection against employment discrimination for most trans women and men in the U.S., was passed.

So, Lyndon Johnson insisted on doing what was right at the time, rather than what he thought was practical or pragmatic given the resistance he faced. As civil rights pioneer and U.S. House of Representatives member John Lewis said on the floor of the House during the ENDA debate last November [2007], “It is always the right time to do the right thing.” Johnson, King and many others knew this in 1963 and 1964. Why is it that today so many people believe that this principal doesn’t apply to our own struggle for equal rights?

Today is still the time to do the right thing! Perhaps, with Barack Obama’s inauguration tomorrow as our next President, we will finally begin to achieve the civil rights, the human rights, that we all deserve.

(Once again, cross-posted from my personal blog.)

Equality and Freedom but not for You or You…

HRC Logo.jpgThe fight for equality is an endless battle that has been fought for centuries. The tactics and faces have changed, but the outcome is far more important than any of that. I have always believed everyone deserves to be treated equally and with respect. I know this does not happen. I have been victim of this myself although not at the levels some people have experienced or been subjected too. I am sure most people have experienced some form of incursion into their seance of equality and freedom. As children we know about this all too well. Until we are of a certain age we really do not have certain inalienable rights.

Continue reading “I am betting you are wondering where I am going with this.”

Some Thoughts on Activism

My friend Michael is one of the organizers of, and the webmaster for, the Central Arizona Gender Alliance. Recently, he asked me to write a profile of myself to be posted as the feature story on the CAGA website for January 2009. Rather than start from scratch, I adapted my “Who I Am and Why I Do What I Do” post. Since I wrote that post, however, my involvement in the issues affecting our community has increased. That led to the following comments that I added to the story that will appear on the CAGA site, which I wanted to share here.

While I have this chance, I also want to say some things about activism. The trans community in this country is small, and the number of those willing to speak out on the issues that affect us is even smaller. That means that each one of us is vital if we ever want the public’s attitude toward us, and the discrimination, hate and bigotry that we face, to change. It also means that one person can have a significant impact on the direction that our community takes in addressing the issues that we face.

It sounds clichéd, but I have learned through experience the truth of the statement that if I don’t do it, if I don’t step forward and say “this is wrong and must change,” if I don’t propose solutions and work to make them a reality, then who will? The answer is no one. It happens every day. We see or hear about something that we know is wrong – another trans woman shot in Memphis, another trans woman homeless because she can’t get a job – and we stand by in silence and do nothing. Those things will never change if you don’t work to change them, even if all you can do is to say “this is wrong.” Keep in mind too that, although it is important that we in the trans community know about these injustices, it is our families and friends, our lesbian, gay and bisexual sisters and brothers, and the general public that need to hear our voices. So many people truly have no idea about the mistreatment that we suffer, how widespread it is and how few protections exist to ensure that most basic of human rights: the right to live lives of peace and dignity. Those are the people we need to speak to, because it is their sense of justice and morality that we need to invoke if we ever want things to change.

Is it scary to step forward and say, “I am trans, this is wrong and it must stop”? Of course, it is. But there are also rich rewards in showing the world that we are proud of who we are, that we refuse to cower in the darkness of ignorance and hate any longer, and in knowing that we are helping to change the world, not just for ourselves, but for people everywhere. Join me! Today do just one thing to make the world a better place to live, whether that’s giving a hug to a friend you know is having a hard time, writing a letter to the editor or simply telling your story. But, most of all, Be Who You Are!!

(Cross-posted from my personal blog.)

Follow-up on Transgender Access to Healthcare

Lately I have been doing more thinking about the issue of health care coverage for trans people. My original post on this topic can be found here. This topic seems to be one that comes up repeatedly, and I think that it is one that deserves more attention and more analysis. Over the next few weeks or so, I am going to do more research into the issue, looking at coverages, barriers to health care access, costs of health care for transitioners, and the medical needs of the transgender community.

A few months ago, we had the Town Hall call on this topic, but I have seen little follow-up on this issue. In fact, we have seen things get worse in some respects. Recently we saw the policy changes allowing doctors to refuse treatments if it goes against their religious beliefs, and this was followed closely by the Pope’s condemnation of homosexuality and transsexual persons. Was this a coincidence? Maybe, but the timing is suspect. I wonder if this will be followed up with statements and opinions about what “good” Catholic doctors should and should not do. I grew up Catholic, and I have always held out hope that the Church will move into the 20th Century, but it seems to continue to root itself in the dark ages.

Anyway, I would like to ask for your help with this little project of mine. If anyone has any stories about health care issues such as being rejected by doctors, insurance plan issues, or any other problems related to being trans and seeking health care, please e-mail them to me. E-mail me at transgenderhealthcare@gmail.com. I would even like to hear the good stories, the improvements in coverage, etc. When sharing your stories, I will always keep your personal information confidential, but please let me know if you would prefer me not to republish your story as part of this. If you don’t want it published, I will just use the information as a reference points as I look for trends, opportunities, or discriminatory practices. Thank you to anyone willing to share their experiences. Also, if you have any good links to information you may feel is relevant, please send me that as well. I think the more information I can pull together, the better I can put together a picture of where we stand today, where we need to be, and some ideas of how we can get there.

[Editor’s Note:  Cross-posted from Kathryn’s personal blog.]

Are Partners of Trans Necessarily LGBT(Q)?

Over at Helen Boyd’s blog, the question comes up of whether partners of transpeople identify as being under the LGBT umbrella – Helen herself says “I’m the Q that gets left off a lot,” which makes sense to me. I wanted to leave a comment but I’ve never been able to successfully register on Helen’s site to do so, so I decided to make a post of my own to discuss the topic.

In order to be attracted to, and have a successful relationship with someone who is considering, or has crossed over the gender barrier, does a person need to have a little Q in them? I suspect the answer is yes but I’m well aware that this is a very sensitive subject touching on not only how the cisgender* partner self-identifies, but also how their transgender partner might feel about the way s/he is seen in relationship to her/his cis partner once s/he has fully transitioned. If a wife considers herself straight while married to a man, and continues to consider herself straight after her spouse has transitioned to become a woman, wouldn’t that mean that either she still sees her spouse as male, or that she no longer feels that erotic energy towards her mate? Neither of which would seem, to me, to be a good thing for either spouse. Or is there a way to really and truly feel that you are only attracted to one gender, except for the unique and singular case of the person you have already spent much of your life with? I’d still argue that in this case, there’s a little queerness creeping in!

There’s also the question of the difference between a relationship that started before transition was even contemplated, and a relationship that didn’t begin until after transition was complete. In the latter case, I would assume that someone who was prepared to make a lifetime commitment to a post-transition partner with all that that entails would already have identified themselves as a little off the straight track, although I can see that for the trans partner, having someone willing to make that commitment while remaining firm in his/her straight identity would be very affirming. (I’m not talking about post-transition relationships where there has been no disclosure, as that’s a topic in and of itself.)

I’m not a big believer in labels myself, but in the case that triggered the original post (the application of LGBT scholarships), I suppose it is important to “find what fits”. Those of you out there reading who are in relationships right now, how do you (or your partner) view this? Does it apply? What possibilities have escaped my notice?

* Editor’s Note:  “Cisgender” refers to a person whose gender identity and biological sex, as assigned at birth, match.  Contrast that to a transgender person in whom those factors diverge.