What the heck are we doing?

Hi Everyone,

This week has been an up and down week for me. It seems even with history being made in the election of a new President, which I thought would bring more hope to a lot of the nation (except for the ones who voted for McCain of course). It seems to have also started more divisiveness within the LGBT community (at least within the blogging world), which is sad. I’ve never really been the one to like to talk much about politics because it always brings out the worst in some people (which is another sad fact). I recently came across a few blogs on The Bilerico Project which seem to want to blame the blacks for losing to the Prop 8 proponents. Well, I myself will not go there. I’ve seen numbers that suggest that the blame is not on the black community itself, as many are suggesting. I’m sure that the proponents of Prop 8 are sitting around laughing at us as our community begins this infighting, which I’m sure they hope will tear us apart. I do not want that to happen as the right to marry should be for anyone of age.

Cindy Rizzo, a guest blogger, made what I thought were legitimate suggestions to get our rights back in California, Arizona and any other state that gets attacked by such crap. Here is my response to her blog and the comments she received:

Hi Cindy,
I’m a transsexual who recently found this blog. I’m also currently married to an Asian woman who has given me her support for my transition. This support did not come easy, but with time and a lot of discussion between us we have come a long way. You may say why is any of this relevant. She comes from a very strong Catholic background and without taking the time I did (almost 10 years, mind you, not every day) to educate her on my plight I don’t think I would have gotten her support. If I would have taken the route as some here are suggesting, “In your face, you will do what I say or else,” I’m sure I would not gotten anywhere with her. It seems some here want to force their view of the naysayers. How is that any better than what the political supporters of Prop 8 did and are doing? If we want to build more support for equal rights for all, then we need to better educate the public. It will be a hard fight, because the religious organizations do have a strong foothold in many of the communities that we need support from. Am I upset, YES I am. But to me, just sitting here blaming the Blacks, Latinos or any other group without even trying to have a intelligent dialog, I assure you will not get us anywhere. Education will be the key to our success and I believe Cindy has some valid points. We do have to strengthen our support with our allies and try to build up dialog between the ones that are opposed. If we can’t do at least that, I’m almost positive that we will not ever see any positive change for the future and it could even get worse by other states overturning the right to marry. I have a stake in this too as a transwoman; when I change the sex on my legal documents, they could have easily take away my right to stay married to my wife or any other woman. People, let’s join together and at least start taking a look at what didn’t work this time and correct those issues and do some proper education. Thank you all for your time.

I’ll take it even further. Sometimes people have to meet in the middle – now I didn’t see any of the ads supporting Prop 8 (I live in NY), but I’m sure not everything was true in their ads. What I mean by meeting in the middle is that we push for the right to marry, but not try and force a religious organization to do the ceremonies unless they support the right for the LGBT communities to marry who they like. There are other places to get married than a church, such as the courthouse, etc. The right to marry should be a fundamental right to all and not a select few, so I would not bend on that one, but I’m sure you see what I’m talking about.

Will we ever see the rights returned (especially after they seemed to be stolen from the people of California)?  I hope so. There are some blogs I’ve seen that suggest that they can be overturned because they are not constitutional. I really hope that they are overturned, because I really feel we have been burned by the religious right and many other organizations that supported Prop 8.

As I said in my reply to the original blog, I really feel that more education in the Black, Latino, Asian – hell in every community – is really needed. Things are better than they were 20 years ago, but they can get a lot better. If we continue to only attack the naysayers and not approach them with intelligence and dignity, what do you expect to get back? The same attacks and that will not get us anywhere. I hope we do have a better future with Obama for everyone.

Hugs, Michelle Lee

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I must be crazy!

That’s what keeps cycling through my thoughts as I get deeper into the “trans land of no return”. In the last few weeks there’s been a series of small but significant things that I’ve done for, or with, my transition progress that I can’t “take back”. Things like telling my boss about my GID and that I’m taking certain drugs to deal with it, or showing Amber to my daughter (finally), or this morning, telling my boss that I’m going to have to tell my co-workers about me pretty soon because my changes are starting to get more noticable.

Scandalizing the neighbors with my “dual appearance” out in the yard seems to be a non-issue for me now. The first couple times I went outside as Amber had me thinking I was nuts, but, “I got better”

I had some serious “I must be completely crazy!” thoughts after my last laser treatment, it was really painful!

Sometimes, when I look in the mirror at my changing body and face, I can’t help thinking “what the hell am I doing ?” Last weekend, I was looking at Amber in the mirror and I had that ” Oh my God, I’m actually doing this, I gotta be crazy!” moment.

Last Tuesday, I filed the paperwork at the county court house for my official, legal change of name and all the way through the process I just kept thinking “I must be crazy!”

I really knew that I’m crazy when I went to get fingerprinted at the State Police post for the necessary background check required by the state of Michigan for a legal change of name. The officer was built like a linebacker and had an attitude, especially after looking at the copy of the the paperwork and reading where you have to list your reason for wanting to change your name. He was professional about it though, I’ll give him that much. This guy probably has twice as much mass as I have, and none of it was fat, from what I could see. Can you say “intimidating”? Yes, to put myself through that, I must be nuts!

Fear has a strange effect on the mind, especially fear of the unknown mixed with fear of the bad things that you do know about. It tends to make me think I’m completely crazy for starting, and more importantly, continuing transition. And yet, through all this, I keep going down the path of transition. When I get really freaked out by it, I pull myself back to reality (is this really reality?) by reminding myself that I’ve been wanting this for 30 years! Doing it IS different from wanting to do it, much more intense!

To be honest, up to this point, I really haven’t had many of those bad experiences that other people have with their family, friends, and work. My divorce was tied to this, but she had been cheating on me for 4 years. Yes, I must be crazy for putting up with that for so long. I was dumb, I kept hoping things would change. Anyway, up to this point, that’s the worst thing that’s happened because of my transition. I’m sure there’s more to come, I’m not full time yet, and going full time tends to change things, when it becomes real to everyone around you.
Yes, I’m pretty sure I’m completely crazy!

Oh ya, almost forgot, I just HAD to shave my legs this evening before I could go to the grocery store wearing shorts. How crazy is that?

That Landmark Congressional Hearing.

Well, Congress heard from the transgender community directly for the first time ever this week. If you missed it on C-SPAN (I did), Donna Rose has audio of the hearings here. If you’d prefer to read it, NTCE has transcripts here.

It’s all food for thought. Enjoy.

New transgender policy at New York juvenile jails

Associated Press article, via the Tucson Citizen:

Transgender youth in New York’s juvenile detention centers are now allowed to wear whatever uniform they choose, be called by whatever name they want and ask for special housing under a new anti-discrimination policy drawing praise from advocacy groups.

Transgender youth are provided private sleeping quarters and are allowed to shower privately. They are also allowed to shave body parts, use makeup or grow their hair long.

The policy directs staff to learn and use the words gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender in an appropriate context when talking with youth.

While all residents may ask to be called by a preferred first name rather than their legal one, the policy says males who believe they are female must be called “she” and females who believe they are male must be referred to as “he.” Staff must use the preferred name and pronoun in any documents they file.

Read the full article here.

I think that’s pretty amazing. I just hope the implementation of the policy goes smoothly.

Edited to add: The Daily News article found here presents the same story in a much more negative fashion. I guess that’s inevitable, given the state of society today.

The New York Times Covers Married Couples Staying Together Through SRS

A positive news article covering both a success story and the legal implications (but why is it in ‘Fashion and Style’?)

Through Sickness, Health and Sex Change

“We’re one of the few of our friends who are still in our original marriage,” Denise Brunner said.

But it is not exactly the same union, as evidenced by their marriage certificate, which they have enlarged to poster size to make the point. The original, from 1980, listed Donald Brunner as the bridegroom and Frances Gottschalk as the bride. But a sex-change operation in 2005 turned Donald into Denise. Fran stood by her spouse, and the couple secured an amended certificate, putting “Denise” next to “bridegroom” for lack of other options.

Read the full article here