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Transgender Day of Remembrance – 2008

Tomorrow, November 20, 2008, is the 10th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. I’m not going to attempt to describe all the emotions that this day, and the reason it is needed, raise in me. Suffice it to say that it brings up the most profound sadness and doubt about the future, about whether it will ever be possible to create a world without hate. But I will not stop striving to create that world, because, without it, all hope is lost and I know that I cannot live without hope.

Please visit the websites below to find out more about the Transgender Day of Remembrance and the location of a vigil near you where you can join with others to honor those who have died because of who they are. Continue reading

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“Pregnant Man” – Who Should Care?

Note: this blog was in part inspired by Helen G’s blog Pregnant man is pregnant which I did reply to. I did use that reply as a basis for this post. But as usual I had more to say. 🙂

I watched the 20/20 episode on Thomas Beatie tonight (thank goodness for DVR) and I have to comment on some of the things that were discussed. First off, I’m glad that the baby does have parents that love and care for this child. I am disturbed by the lack of caring and hatred shown in some of the messages sent to Thomas and his family, wishing death to him and his family. HOW DARE THEY? Why do people insist on judging what they themselves do not understand? At least do your research before you dare to put any judgment on ANYONE. Continue reading

From the NY Times: The Sea Horse, Our Family Mascot

I just came across this article, which struck me both for the personal connection between writer and subject (as twins) and for the complete open-mindedness and lack of judgement in it.

My twin brother, Eli, is jealous of sea horses. They are the only animal species in which the male gives birth to the offspring. Male sea horses have brood pouches where the female deposits her eggs. The eggs then hatch in the father’s pouch, where the young continue to live until they are expelled into the ocean after strenuous labor that can last several days.

Eli is a transgender man, and lived the first 20 years of our lives as my fraternal twin sister. I have plenty of memories of my twin as a little girl, as Emma, not Eli. More often, though, my memories adjust to represent Eli as I know him now, as my brother.

I am fascinated to read of how the desire for biological children is quite uncoupled from gender identity. I hope that one day Eli will find happiness as a parent.

Read the full article here.

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

Fluid Gender

I recently read a blog posted by an online friend which included another post-op trans woman’s regrets of transitioning and having GRS.  She had described how her feelings to transition and being a woman were more sexually motivated, and that after surgery she could not have that satisfaction.  She mentioned that she misunderstood the drop-off of sexual desire due to hormones as a sign that she was doing the right thing.

My first reaction and thought was how it was a good example of why the real life test or real life experience is important.  I assume the person lived as the gender she wanted to be before having the surgery, based on the comment of her “following the rules”.  If she had, then I wondered if she truly did the necessary soul searching — the second-guessing and what-ifs playing in her mind over and over.  When it comes down to it, the physical aspects of transition are not as important as the emotional aspects.  Being emotionally ready for the changes is very critical to anyone’s successful transition.

I started my transition almost two years ago, and if I had had the money, was single, and could have had the operation sooner, I probably would have jumped in head first and had GRS.  But with my therapist’s guidance, I slowed down, following her suggestions to explore my femininity and get out in society presenting as a female.  I also wanted to do the changes in steps, where I could evaluate each step to see if it was enough for me.  First, I had facial and body hair removal, as it was one thing that always seemed to bother me (and guys have it done, so no harm there).  Then I attended several transgender conferences to “live” as a woman 24×7 for one full week.  I went out to public places in the daylight, such as a shopping mall and busy restaurants.  I wanted to get a feel for how I would be treated and how any negative reactions would make me feel.  Would I feel more like a “man in a dress”, or would I feel like a woman, regardless of how people treated me?  These exercises are very important, as they can let us know that if we are uncomfortable as a part-time woman, then we’re not ready to be full-time.

My soul searching has been going on now for quite awhile.  There are days when I think I just need to stop stalling and move forward with it all.  But I am very cautious, as there is much at risk.  I question myself over and over about what is right.  Am I that uncomfortable living as a man?  Can I just keep hiding this for the rest of my life?  Would cross-dressing periodically be enough, especially since my wife would be accepting of it (as long as I do it discretely)?  Would being on hormones but continuing to live as a man with no surgery be good enough?  Twenty years from now, would I be happier living as an older man or as an older woman?  These are just some of the questions I have asked myself over and over.  For me, I need to be as sure as I can that the distress and discomfort I experience is impacting my life enough to move forward with transition to full-time and eventual surgeries.

In my honest opinion, I think that gender is fluid and NOT binary.  I think there are many who are on one end of the spectrum, where the difference between body sex and gender identity are so polar that they absolutely know that they are “in the wrong body”.  Then there are others who are somewhere close to the middle, with just enough feminine-mindedness that they experience some discomfort and have a notion that something is out of whack, but can otherwise function in society as a man.  There are days when I think I fall into that category.  I had an acquaintance recently tell me that you should know you are a woman inside if you are truly transsexual.  I have to disagree with that, as that may be true with some but not all.  I think we all have within us, both natal male and female, a degree of masculine and feminine nature (and when I say nature, I mean born with it and not learned).  Those balances are different in each of us, and could even change based on how much we suppress or allow those natural tendencies.  It comes down to really understanding ourselves, to find the “true self”.  Once that is done, then the surgeries and other aspects become window dressing.

I hope we all take the time to fully understand ourselves, as that is the true journey.

Tiana 🙂

To My Family and friends

Dear Family,

I wanted to take a few minutes and fill you in on some important information about some changes that will be made in the near future. I will change in some ways, but I will always be the same person. These steps I’m taking are very important for me. I do wish there was an easier way to move forward, but I have not found a better way. I have come to terms with this after careful research, analysis and professional guidance. I don’t take this lightly, I’m more informed then I ever was, and feel stronger than ever that I’m going in the right direction.

If you’re wondering what this is all about. I have Gender Dysphoria (DSM IV code is 302.85 or GID) I am a transsexual. In short. Since I was 5 years old, I have known that I was special and that there was something different about me. I always felt I was a girl, but my body did not match what I felt.

Because of the sex marker on my birth certificate I had to behave a certain way, feel a certain way, be a certain way. Since I was little I always was mindful of the mundane thing we all take for granted. How I stood. How I sat. What I wear. I’ve always been mindful of my interactions with others, and that I was not to femm. I just wanted to blend in to society. Which I did! GID has been crippling at times and I needed to stop fighting this and take action.

What does all this mean?

Well first off it will mean a lot of changes down the road for me and some adjustments at home. I’m working with therapist on the GID issues and have been in a semi-active transition the last 10 years. My first major goal is to live fulltime as a women. I have been making some advancement in that area and expect to start living fulltime within the next 2 years. I have been on hormones for over a year now and have had changes that are becoming noticeable (In the website links, I list a few sites that cover many of the changes you can expect). Some of the changes I make in the future may seen drastic, but I’m taking all this very serious and am under professional supervision. Eventually I will also change my name to Michelle. This will involve a lot of legal paperwork to change the drivers license, birth certificate, exc.. But it will be a necessary thing for me to do to live fulltime.

You may ask why I am doing this now. Well I guess I didn’t have the courage and understanding I have now to face this head on. As a child I never knew that there was anything that would ever help. I thought maybe there was something wrong with me, but I lived with it. I dealt with it daily. Until I was about 30 I thought there was not much I could do about all this. I always thought that all this would go away. But what I found as I got older it became more of a burden in my life. 10 years ago I started to learn about the research studies and finding many transgender friends I began to see a rainbow lighting the sky for my future. But still, I didn’t have the courage then to go fulltime. I do now! I know that this will never go away and I know what I need to do to be the best person I can be to my family and I. Transition!

I know that to some of you, this may have be a shock. But rest assured, I given this VERY careful thought. I have also talked with Vicky and the kids a lot the last few years about it and I currently have their support. I’m sure that you may questions for me. I will answer any question that you may have, so feel free to ask.

In closing, I’d just like to I’d like to quote a good friend of mine: Abigail Jensen

“In my experience, sacrifice of my own truth only leads to pain for everyone … not just me, but everyone. There is unquestionably much pain that comes with transitioning, but it is the pain of stripping away the illusion of who we are not, to find the truth of who we are. Painful as that might be, finding and living our truth (whether that includes transitioning only you can decide) offers the only chance that we and those we love can grow to know the truth about ourselves. And only by knowing ourselves can we, and they, find the peace, love and joy we all deserve and desire.

Websites

Here are a few sites that will provide plenty of information.
Dr. Anne Lawrence’s resource website
Understanding gender Dysphoria
International Foundation for Gender Education
Gender Identity Research and Education Society
Crissy Wild’s Medical Links

The UK NHS Postcode Lottery

I am Stephanie Butterfield, and I am transitioning on the UK PCT-led NHS system. Whilst i feel fortunate to have had my trachea shave/vocal cord surgery and facial hair removal already, with my GRS also guaranteed when the time comes, I do however feel very frustrated at the UK postcode lottery, not just for me, but for others too.

The PCT’s (Primary Care Trusts), often treat transsexual procedures as unnecessary, or simply cosmetic, not thinking beyond their small mindedness and thinking about the TS patients’ quality of life.

The postcode lottery works like this – one PCT will fund a girl’s breast augmentation and facial hair removal, whereas another PCT will not. How, you may ask?  If it is the NHS (National Health Service), we should get even and equal access to funded treatments and operations available on the NHS.

However, each PCT has the right to decide funding at a local level; it’s this which allows the postcode lottery to thrive, leaving many transgirls and transguys frustrated at the unfairness of it all.

Another irritating feature of the NHS transition route is the waiting one has to do, from GP (general practitioner) to GIC (gender identity center), from 1st opinion to 2nd opinion, from 2nd opinion to the operation itself.

I am currently at the waiting for my 2nd opinion stage, an 8 and a half month wait as I write, and my latest frustration is being blocked from seeing an endocrinologist.

Stephanie