27 March 2015

What Kind Of Lesbian Cyclist Am I?

Five years ago, as I was recovering from my surgery, "Velouria" of Lovely Bicycle! suggested that I start a bike blog.  (Now you know who to blame!;-)) At the time, I had been writing  Transwoman Times for a bit less than two years.  When I started Midlife Cycling in June of 2010, I thought TT would run its course and I'd keep it online for posterity--or, perhaps, revisit it from time to time.

Well, nearly five years later, TT is still going.  I can't seem to let it go.  That may be because its focus shifted from my own experience of transitioning, surgery and starting my new life to LGBT-related subjects in general.  Not only that, I can't seem to keep trans (or L, G, or B) themes out of this blog any more than I could keep cycling out of Transwoman Times.  

Once again, those aspects of my life are going to meet--in this post.  You see, I came across something from The Most Cake, a blog by and about young and hip lesbians in London.  

While I've noticed a number of young lesbians and genderqueers (or people who simply don't fit into most accepted definitions of gender and sexuality) at bike-related events and establishments here in The Big Apple, it seems that there is a more prominent subculture of lesbian cyclists in the British capital.  At least, that's the impression I get from The Most Cake and from things I've heard from people who've been in London more recently than I've been. I can't say I'm surprised, really.  

Anyway, according to the author of the post that caught my eye, there are five distinct types of lesbian cyclists in The Big Smoke

1.  Aggressive girls in Lycra
2.  Eco-warrior on self-built touring bike
3.  Feminist cyclist with a cause
4.  Fixie lesbian with tatoos and piercings
5.  The catch-all lesbian cyclist who cycles because she likes it and it's better than public transport or walking or micro-scootering.

 They're on bikes. Sorry just found it we were like okay

Hmm...Had I been living as female earlier in my life, I definitely would have been 1, possibly 3 and/or 4.  Of course, if I'd started living as a woman when I was 20, I wouldn't have been wearing Lycra, as it wasn't yet available.  But I would/could have been the equivalent of type #1.  

If I had to classify myself today from any of those types, I'd say I'm number five, with some of number three thrown in.  And, perhaps, number two--after all, I've built a touring bike of my own and I try to do what's environmentally sustainable.

But I don't plan on getting any tatoos or any more piercings than I already have (on my earlobes).  Or to wear Lycra again, even if I lose weight.  But I do plan to keep on riding.  And, perhaps, I'll meet Ms. Right.

26 March 2015

Blake Brockington: Another Trans Teen Suicide

Last year he was a homecoming king.  

Now he's dead, an apparent suicide.

What went wrong?  The one-word answer: hate.

Blake Brockington transitioned during his sophomore year in East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.  In January, he recounted his struggles of coming to terms with his identity and finding acceptance.  "When I got my period," he recalled, "my aunt told me, 'Welcome to womanhood'.  I was like Nooo!"  He was forced to wear dresses to church and family events.

He "came out" to his teachers and stepmothers.  "My family feels like this is a decision I made," he said.  "They think, 'You're already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?'" But, he explained, "It's not a decision. It is who I am.  I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy."

Things got so bad that he moved in with a foster family.  With their support, he got counseling and started his transition.  But, it seems, the damage had already been done.  Even being crowned the homecoming king had its price:  "Really hateful things were said on the Internet."  It was hard, he said, to "see how narrow-minded the world really is."

Blake, though, experienced something worse than the narrow-mindedness of the world:  narrow-mindedness in his family.  In that, his story parallels that of Leelah Alcorn, the Ohio trans girl who, at age 17, killed herself in December.

W.H. Auden wrote, "We must love one another or die."  He knew, as well as anybody, that hate kills.  That is why I will now call the deaths of Leelah Alcorn and Blake Brockington what they are:  murders.  They were killed by those who hated them, even if those people didn't lift a finger to hurt them.  Those same people did not give them the love and support they needed, and that we all need.

25 March 2015

Who's Against Letting Trans People Serve In The Armed Forces?

A few days ago, I compared the backlash that often follows progress to Newton's Third Law of Motion.

It seems the Armed Forces are manifesting that law again.  After Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said he's open to the idea of trans people serving in the military and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James expressed her support of lifting the transgender ban, unnamed officials have expressed "concern" about allowing trans people to serve.

And what might those concerns be?  Apparently, they include some of the "usual suspects", if you will:

"Much of the opposition centers on questions of where transgender troops would be housed, what berthing they would have on ships, which bathrooms they would use and whether their presence would affect the ability of small units to work well together."

Housing?  Morale?  Haven't we heard those questions before--about women, blacks and gays?  And somehow those questions were worked out, I think.

And then there's that old familiar bugaboo--bathrooms.  Ah, yes, bathrooms. They're so powerful that they're keeping the mightiest, most technologically advanced fighting force in the history of the world from doing what Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Israel, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the United Kingdom have done.  Yes, all of those countries allow trans people to serve openly in their Armed Forces.

Perhaps Israel's membership in this club is most ironic of all.  After all, some of the most pro-Israel lawmakers are also some of our most homophobic and transphobic. 

Perhaps they can explain how it's OK for this country to help pay the salaries of  transgenders in the Tzahal while keeping trans people out of our own armed forces.