29 June 2012

How Gay And (Especially) Transgender Youth Are Criminalized

Members of "minority" groups who experience discrimination have long been over-represented in jails and prisons.  This has been documented at least since the 1960's; probably the first groups to be recognized as disproportionately incarcerated were African-Americans and Latinos.

Now a new report shows that the percentage of the young people in the juvenile justice system who are gay or transgender is double the percentage of GT youth in the general population.  

Some of the reasons for this include the fact that many LGBT youth are abandoned by their families and rejected by their communities.  This is practically a recipe for homelessness, which is one of the leading causes of crime among young people.  Even those young people who drop out of school and leave home on their own accord to escape bullying and harassment are at increased risk of turning to crime simply to support themselves.  After all, what marketable skills do most teenagers possess?

Also implicated in the high numbers of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system are biased school discipline policies.  Research shows that gender non-conforming youth in particular are often singled out for severe punishment for minor infractions--or for no infractions at all.  As an example, a "butchy" girl who defends herself against kids who beat and harass her is identified as the aggressor, and punished as such, solely for her demeanor.  That is, of course, to say nothing of the "sissy boys" of whom teachers and school administrators make examples because, well, those teachers and administrators are bullies who happen to be old enough to be teachers and administrators.  And--I can tell you this from firsthand experience--they sometimes punish the "sissy" or "tomboy" who's picked on because they're afraid of the kids who are picking on them.

Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of the so-called juvenile justice system is that gay and transgender youth are often classified as sex offenders, even though they have not committed sexual crimes.  Being falsely accused of sex crimes, and branded as a sex offender, is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone:  Even after the person is proven innocent, he or she lives with the stigma of the charge, possibly for the rest of his or her life.  In fact, homophobic and transphobic people often accuse transgenders--especially male-to-females--of sexual crimes simply because they hate or have disputes with them.  

Once detained, trans youth are housed according to the sex they were assigned at birth rather than the one by which they're conducting their lives.  They and gay youth are also more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, ostensibly "for their own safety" but in reality because of stereotypes that persist among staff members.  Studies by the American Psychiatric Association show that such isolation leads to stigmatization, which leads to depression and a host of other problems.  The problems caused by isolation make those young people who are placed in solitary confinement more likely to return to the juvenile justice system.

The article I've linked makes a number of recommendations, all of which make sense to me.  Even if all of them were implemented, though, it will still take a long time to break the cycle of criminalization in LGBT youth.  The experience with racial and ethnic minorities showed us as much:   As long as young people have to experience unfair discrimination and attend bad schools in hostile communities without supportive family structures, they will always be at higher risk, no matter how many laws we pass or how many training programs we start in schools and juvenile centers.

28 June 2012

Fatigue, At The Beginning And The End

I'm so tired now.  I've been tired for so long, I want to close a door and cry.  Mother used to do that sometimes.  But there's no door here for me to go behind and close.  And the tears won't come now, anyway, because I don't have the emotional energy, or even a space inside me, to allow anyone else to see them.  For crying in the presence of others is always an involuntary form of sharing, or at least diverting one's attentions.  Those activities require energies I just don't have right now.

Maybe it's the day, and my hope that it will be my last on this block , that's so drained me.  But taking hormones does that to you, too.

The first time you take them, you're expecting something to happen, even though the doctor or whoever prescribes them tells you nothing will, at least not for a while.  Two pills:  One, the anti-androgen, is white and has the texture but not the taste of an aspirin tablet.  The other--the estrogen--is small, with a hard shell in a shade of candy-coated cow piss, which is pretty much what it tastes like.  Not that I've ever tasted cow piss, candy-coated or otherwise.

After I took those pills every day for a couple of months, I couldn't notice any difference.  But Vivian did.  She called me that day, ostensibly because she wanted to return something I couldn't recall leaving at her place.  It'd been a few months since she pronounced me "too much of a woman" for her tastes and broke up our relationship.  She'd found a watch with a woven black leather band when she was cleaning, she said.  And indeed she gave it to me when we met for supper that night, in a restaurant a few blocks from where I was staying.  

But there had to be another reason for her wanting to see me; I could hear it in her voice when she called.  I couldn't imagine her wanting sex with me again.  So what, I wondered, did she want?

As I cut into the piece of chicken I ordered, I got my answer.  She called my name--my old one.  I looked up at her.  "Something's different about you," she intoned. 


She reached across the table and dabbed my cheek, where she used to stroke with her fingertips.  "It feels different."

"How so?"



"It really feels softer."



"All right," I said.  "I'll confess something:  I am taking hormones."  Her face grew longer.  "The doctor said my skin would get softer.  But not this quickly."

Then she asked me to stand up.  "Wow!  Your body's changing."

"How so?"

"None of your clothes fit you right."

"I think I've gained some weight."

"Maybe you have.  But it's in your rear.  And you're growing boobs!"

I couldn't notice those changes yet, I said.  And I felt like I needed more sleep.  "But," she cut me off, "you don't seem depressed.  Or angry.  You always were one or both, especially near the end of our relationship."

"To tell you the truth, I'm not.  I don't even feel sad very much.  Maybe..."

She cut me off again. "Maybe you accept things, or are resigned to them."

"You could say that."

She could. None of it surprised her.  Before that night, I hadn't told her I was taking hormones.  In fact, I hardly told anybody.  I don't know who could' or would've told her.  But I knew, then, that she'd asked me to supper so she could find out what I was like on hormones.  Why else would she want to see me again?

The old lady whose name I never knew is looking my way again. Who could' or  would've told her?

Make it tomorrow, please. I'm so tired.  All I want is to have my operation, then to get some rest.

26 June 2012

The Supreme Court, Immigration And LGBT people

Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's immigration policy got me to thinking about someone in a weekly support group I attended early in my transition.

Fahrida (not her real name) had a smile that made people feel that everything was going to be OK.  As I came to know her, I realized that her smile didn't belie her experiences; rather, it was a kind of reward, like the rays of sun you see after a terrible storm.

No one who met her outside of that group would have guessed she had ever lived as male, or that she ever had so much as a male cell in her body.  She was so beautiful that when we were shopping, two other women sighed about what kinds of clothes they could wear if they had her body, and about what their lives would be like if they had her face.

I always wondered why someone with her looks, and her mind, was driving a gypsy cab.  Don't get me wrong:  I don't look down on such work.  But it's not work that many other women do, and I worried about her safety.  Then again, at least she wasn't doing sex work, I told myself.

Well, after knowing her about a year, I found out why she was driving that gypsy cab:  Her pay was "off the books."  That meant, of course, that she didn't pay taxes.  But more important, it meant that she didn't need a Social Security Number or any other documentation certifying that she could work in this country.

The next-to-last time we met, I found out why she needed such work.  You guessed it:  She entered this country illegally.  She couldn't have afforded to enter any other way, she told me:  She was so poor that she couldn't afford the papers she needed, which cost about half a worker's yearly pay in the country of her birth.  She got to this country, she said, by hitchiking across a two continents and stowing herself away in a transoceanic freighter. 

By the time of our penultimate meeting, she was facing deportation.  Going back to the country of her birth would have been, in essence, a death sentence:  She had no way of supporting herself there, save through sex work, and she would have faced almost certain violence.  Plus, all of her family had disowned her.

The last time we met, she told me she was going to a third country.  She hoped to re-apply for asylum in the United States, she said, because she had found a "community" here.  However, if that failed, she said, she believed that she could stay in the third country, where she had some ties and laws about immigration and LGBT people are, arguably, less restrictive than they are in the United States.

I mention Fahrida because I suspect that there are many other cases like her. Contrary to what people think, not all LGBT people are rich.  In fact, very, very few T's are.  That is one reason why they, like many other immigrants, come to this country illegally:  They can't afford to do so legally.  So they are forced to live "in the shadows," doing all sorts of low-paid work that doesn't offer any security:  that is, if they can get such work.  Others, who are less lucky, end up in sex work and other kinds of illegal and dangerous occupations.

On top of what I've mentioned, there's another issue:  Many LGBT couples are split up because of immigration policies.  I know of illegal immigrants who entered into sham heterosexual marriages so they could stay here, but why should anybody have to resort to something like that?  Even if they live in states that allow same-sex marriages (including New York, where I live), they could still be split up if one of them is here illegally because same-sex marriages are still not recognized under Federal law.

In fact, even if both members of the couple are here legally, immigration policy can still split them up.  That is what happened to my former doctor:  Her partner, a native of Scotland, came here to study and eventually started a business that employed other people.  She paid her taxes and never ran afoul of the law.  However, four years ago, the State Department would not renew her visa and the United Kingdom (of which Scotland is a part) is not eligible for the so-called "Green Card Lottery."

My former doctor went to Scotland with her partner.  She has since earned an additional degree in public health policy and has attained a position with a local ministry.  She says she and her partner are happy there, although they think about what could have been. 

To me, it seems such an appalling waste.  Think of the education, skills, talent, experience and ambition my former doctor and her partner have.  What country wouldn't (or shouldn't) want those things?  I could say similar things about Fahrida:  Though she doesn't have the formal education or credentials of my former doctor, she is very intelligent and self-taught in a number of areas.  And she's more than willing to work.  Plus, any country would be graced by her sheer presence. 

Her story, and that of my former doctor and her partner, show how immigration policies are inequitable on so many levels--particularly for LGBT people.

24 June 2012

WE Bike And Me

What's gotten into me? 

I mean, what's this with me and volunteering?

It's not as if I haven't volunteered before.  But within the past two weeks, I've begun volunteering with two cycling organizations.  And--quelle coincidence--it turns out that they're going to be working with each other.

I've mentioned my recent experiences with Recycle-A-Bicycle.  I intend to continue working with them as my schedule allows.  It looks like I'll be doing the same--and perhaps more--with a new organization called WE Bike.

I learned of them at the New Amsterdam Bicycle Show, where they had a booth.  Liz, a bike mechanic and youth educator who started the organization only a couple of months ago was at the booth.  And she was under the arches of Grand Army Plaza yesterday, where WE Bike was holding a repair workshop.  

She immediately recognized me.  I didn't think I was so memorable.  Even more interestingly, she mentioned my blog and my Mercians.  Hmm...It's not often that my reputation precedes me.  Is that a good thing?

Anyway, I got there a bit late.  But I went to work right away, showing a woman from the Caribbean island of Dominique how to fix a flat.  She had just purchased her first bicycle, not long after learning how to ride a bicycle as an adult.  

Yesterday, I thought she was mastering what I believe to be the first thing every cyclist should learn to do.  But she apologized.  For what?, I asked.  Then I realized she was doing something I've seen many other women do--and which I've caught myself doing since I started to live as a woman:  apologizing for no particular reason.

"You are officially in a guilt-free zone," I declared. "This circle around me"--I stretched my arms--"is off-limits for gratuitous guilt."  At first, she didn't know what to make of what I said--or, I imagine, me. But then she giggled.  "Don't worry," I said, "You'll be fine."

I was thinking about her as Liz and I talked after the workshop.  We agreed that getting more women to ride, with other women, and learning how to fix their bikes from other women, could help some--especially the young--build their confidence.  Plus, I added, it would help them become more independent. 

Then I thought about my own experiences of working in bike shops.  I don't recall seeing a female mechanic and, in those days, it seemed a lot of shops--including two in which I worked--had a "shop girl" who usually was a salesperson/cashier/hostess/Gal Friday. (I hope I don't seem sexist in using those terms:  I can't think of any others that would accurately describe those roles.)  In other shops--including one in which I worked-- such jobs, along with record-keeping and such, were done by the proprietor's wife.

In recounting those experiences for Liz, I fancied myself, for a moment, as a kind of Prometheus.  Please indulge me if it seems a bit grandiose, but I realized that when I was showing two women how to remove bottom brackets and headsets, and how to true wheels, at Recycle-A-Bicycle, I was passing along knowledge that, in my day, was possessed almost entirely by males.  And I probably wouldn't have learned those skills had I not spent the first four decades of my life as a male.

Or, perhaps--here comes the baggage of my Catholic education!--I am doing penance for all of those times I was one of those awful men who spoke condescendingly to female customers and who was less than helpful with girlfriends who actually wanted to ride bikes with me.  If the work I am doing, and expect to do, is a penance, I suppose I'm lucky:  There are definitely worse and more painful kinds of atonement!

Anyway...I have a feeling that interesting times are ahead for me.

P.S.  Liz has said that she wants to make WE Bike "inclusive."  So she wants transgender women to participate.

21 June 2012

Keelin Godsey: Competing As A Woman, Living As A Man?

Keelin Godsey wants to make the US Olympic team in the hammer throw, and compete in the Olympics in London this summer.

Normally, that would not seem like such a remarkable story.  However, Keelin is trying out for the women's team.  But wait:  It's not what you think.  Keelin was born female, and named Kelly, at birth.  He has been living as male but does not plan to take testosteone, or undergo any of the other medical aspects of his transition, until some time after the Olympics.

His dilemma is the exact opposite of what we're used to hearing:  a male-to-female who wants to compete as a woman.  Also, the MTF athletes of whom I'm aware didn't begin competing as females until their surgeries were complete.

So, in essence, Keelin is competing as a female, and once he stops doing that, he is going to live the rest of his life as male.  

There doesn't seem to be quite as much of a fuss over Keelin as there has been over the MTFs I've mentioned.  That may be, in part, because he is not considered a favorite to make the team.  But I think that, even discounting that, his situation isn't deemed as controversial as the MTFs who want to compete as female.  One reason is that because, as a female-to-male who has not begun to take testosterone, he is not perceived as having an advantage over other female contestants.  That perception is probably accurate:  If Keelin has any advantages, they would have to be in superior training or native ability.  

On the other hand, some female athletes--as well as many fans--believe that male-to-female athletes shouldn't be allowed to compete as females, even after they've had SRS/GRS.  Of course, some hold such a belief because of their general perceptions about gender.  However, many more believe, somewhat erroneously, that a MTF athlete has physical advantages over those who were identified as female at birth.  

It is true that on average, males are taller and heavier than females.  While I was average on both counts as a male, I am probably around the 80th percentile in both categories (although I mate be in a somewhat higher percentile in the, ahem, weight category!)for women my age.  But my transition had one very typical effect on me:  I continuously lost strength, muscle mass and physical endurance from the time I started taking estrogen and anti-androgens.  And I know that even if I were to ride and train as much as I did in my hyper-male days, I would not be as strong or fast, or have as much endurance, as I did in those days.

There is medical and other literature to corroborate what I've just said.  The changes I have described happen with remarkable consistency.  So, one doesn't need semantics or any other fancy rhetorical footwork to argue that MTFs have little, if any, advantage over most females in most sports.  Conversely, because the changes FTMs experience are even more dramatic and consistent, it's easy to see that because Keelin hasn't begun to take testosterone, he has no advantage over the other female contestants.

Personally, I hope Keelin makes the time.  His mother says it's been a lifelong ambition of his.  I'm guessing that he has wanted to live as male, if not all of his life, then for a long time.  Lots of people don't even get to live out one dream; I will be happy to see him live out both.

18 June 2012

Kylar Broadus Testifies Before The Senate

An activist once told me, "It's all about visibility."

In this country, it's hard to beat testifying before the Senate to make one's cause, as well as one's self, visible.

That is what Kylar Broadus did last week.  That made him--a lawyer and professor from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO-- the transgender to do so. 

Appropriately enough, he testified before Senate Health and Labor Committee hearings on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act  (ENDA).

Although he is a lawyer and professor, he is not in an easy financial situation.  In the 1990's, he transitioned while he was working for an insurance company. For that, he was harrassed and fired.  "While my supervisors could tolerate a somewhat masculine-appearing black woman," Broadus recalled, "they were not prepared to deal with my transition to being a black man." As there were no laws on the books to protect transgender people in the workplace, he found that he had no legal recourse.

As you might imagine, a long stretch of unemployment ensued, from which Broadus says he has not fully recovered financially.

What I hope the Senators realize, as a result of hearing Broadus' testimony, is that if someone with his education and work experience can have such a difficult time, things are that much worse for someone who's poor or less educated, and probably even worse for a trans teenager who was kicked out of his or her home after "coming out."   I would love for the Senators to hear testimony from them, as well as more from Broadus and transgender people in situations like his.  

15 June 2012

Thapelo Makutle: Transgender Pageant Winner Murdered In South Africa

I am glad to see countries that had repressive regimes not so long ago are making progress when it comes to LGBT right.  As examples, I think of Argentina's new law that, in essence, allows anyone over the age of 18 to choose his or her gender.  I also think of how gay marriage has been legalized in Spain which, under Franco, had one of the most conservative Catholic regimes in the world.  And a country that was long associated with the racism and violence of its Aprartheid policies--I'm talking, of course, about South Africa--legalized gay marriage in December of 2006.

While the latter country has taken a remarkable turn, at least officially, from its past, there is still a lot of work to be done.  Just because a country--or city or state or province--legalizes gay marriage or passes legislation to stop discrimination, it doesn't mean that old attitudes change, particularly in those communities far removed from the centers of power.

That point was brought home with the murder of Thapelo Makutle, who had been living as a gay man but recently began to identify with transgender.  

Makutle had been arguing with two men about his sexuality.  Those men followed him home, broke down his door and slit his throat.  They then severed his penis and shoved it in his mouth.

He had been active in the LGBT community of the Kuruman region, a rural area in the northern part of the country.  According to a 2011 Human Rights Watch report, LGBT people in that region, and other rural areas of the country, still face "extensive discrimination and violence in their daily lives, both from private individuals and government officials."  

Something similar can be said about those US cities and states that have legalized gay marriage and passed laws to fight discrimination against LGBT people.  Even here in New York, there are neighborhoods in which an LGBT person is not safe, and the police will do nothing to help someone who has experienced violence based on his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Leslie Mora was beaten, and Amanda Gonzalez Andujar murdered, in such communities, which are home to large numbers of conservative religious people.  Even some of the colleges here are far from being "rainbow havens."  

That is why passing laws to give LGBT people the same rights other people take for granted is only a first step, and not something that, by itself, will guarantee equal rights, much less safety.  The real work begins after that.

Even though I am on the other side of the world and have never met any of Thapelo Makutle's loved ones, they have my condolences.  And I hope you, Thapelo Makutle ends up in a better, more enlightened place.  

13 June 2012

13 Myths And Misconceptions About Trans Women

In light (!) of yesterday's post, I am linking "13 Myths And Misconceptions  About Trans Women."  I just came across it today.

Read and enjoy! (heh, heh)

12 June 2012

Why Do You Want To Go To The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival?

You know it's summer when....you start hearing about the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.

Thinking about it--to the degree that I do think about it, which isn't much--reminds me of what Groucho Marx said:  "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member."  What that means, of course, is that people (some, anyway) want to belong to clubs that wouldn't have them as members.

I can think of no other reason, at this point, why a trans person would want to go the Womyn's Festival, or would even bother protesting its policy of excluding us.

I mean, really, why should any of us want to spend time with hateful, bigoted people to listen to performers who are interesting only to the extent that they're part of the Festival organizers' agenda?  Or, to put it more plainly, why should we want to spend any of our precious time listening to (mostly) mediocre musicians play for stupid, nasty people?

Those organizers, as best as I can tell, are stuck in the 1970's--or, at any rate, a sitcom parody of that time.  Even in those days, most people--especially women working in almost any environment besides the then-nascent Women's Studies departments of colleges and universities--saw the so-called radical feminists as comic-book versions of fighters for equality.  

But their most toxic quality is their absolute rigidity about gender identity and expression.  The so-called Archie Bunker blue-collar conservatives of the 1970's--who used to be most of the make population of neighborhoods like the one in which I now live--found out they had gay grandchildren, and had children or nieces or nephews who "changed" gender.  So, some of them were able to change their views about what "men" and "women" are, and came to realize that's it's not all a matter of the genitalia people are born with (which, by the way, are not always as clearly "male" or "female" as people assume they are).  The Archie Bunkers of this world--some of them, anyway--have therefore allowed themselves to become more educated than Festival organizers and other so-called Second Wave Feminists.

That means all of those nominally conservative people who've allowed themselves to realize that people like me are indeed women (and folks like Chastity Bono are men) are actually less defined, in their thinking, by the patriarchal gender norms than Lisa Vogel and other Festival organizers and Second Wave Feminists claim to oppose!  

So, to be blunt, and perhaps a bit crass: What use, exactly, do we (transgender people) have for the Festival, its organizers and the mentality behind them?  Other than excluding us from the Festival, how do they affect our lives?  Few, if any, of them are in any position to hire or fire us, to rent, sell or deny us housing, or even to allow us to attend, or prevent us from attending, any college, university or institute.  They aren't in a position to give us, or help us get, the health insurance that the majority of us don't have.  They're not even the ones voting for or against non-discrimination laws in local, state or federal legislative bodies.  Heck, almost none of them can deny or allow us access to anything besides the Festival!  So, why should we even bother with them?  

Hey, we can even go to places where we can hear much better music than we'd hear if we were allowed in the Festival!  There are much better reasons to take a trip to Michigan:  There are places in that State (which was the first in the US to outlaw capital punishment) that would be far more welcoming to us, and everyone else--including the organizers of the Festival!

11 June 2012

How Low Will Cathy Brennan Go--And For What?

In spite of the evil I've witnessed, I still have had hope for this world.  That hope was based on, among other things, that folks like Cathy Brennan and Janice Raymond didn't have children.  

Actually, I haven't thought that much about them, until recently.  Years ago, long before I started my transition, I read The Transsexual Empire and thought it was one of the most ludicrous things I'd ever read.  I still do.  Next to it, any of Professor Leonard Jeffries' rants about "Ice People" and "Sun People" seem like Nobel Prize-worthy science.

As I read further, one of my suspicions was confirmed:  Raymond, Brennan, et al, have no influence outside of a very small circle of so-called Second Wave Feminists.  Ironically enough, even though their hatred has more in common with that of folks like the Reverend Fred Phelps and certain members of the College of Cardinals and the Supreme Court, even they would never pay any mind to the nonsense Raymond and Brennan were spewing.

However, as demented as their so-called theories and arguments may be, I simply can't laugh them off anymore.  At least, I can't do that to the estimable Ms. Brennan.  You see, now she's doing what, in my old neighborhood, would be called some "real bad, real serious shit."

From Kelli Busey of Planetransgender, I have learned that Ms. Brennan has viciously "outed" a transgender teenager.  We saw what happened when Dharun Ravi, in essence, outed Tyler Clementi.  Making a trans teenager's identity public puts him or her at even greater risk  for being subjected to violence, and committing suicide (whether in the way Clementi did or slowly and more painfully through substance abuse or other means) than "outing" a gay or lesbian teenager would .

As vile as his actions were, at least Darun Ravi could claim, and many people would agree, that his actions were childish pranks gone horribly wrong.  However, Brennan can make no such claim.  In fact, she has no defense at all.  The only rationale she has is her own hatred, whatever its sources and purposes.  

In other words, it was a purely malicious act.  What I find really reprehensible is that she is trying to use the fears and stereotypes some people have about trans people to destroy a young man's life.  That stereotype is the transsexual-as-sexual-predator whose modus operandi--in sex and everything else in life--is deception.

Call me selfish, but one of the reasons I think what Brennan did is especially vile is that I have been victimized in the same way.  Someone I've mentioned on this blog tried to destroy my life--and succeeded in causing me health problems which are just now coming under control--by falsely accusing me of sexual crimes against other people.  

So, when I read about that seventeen-year-old trans boy whom Cathy Brennan  "outed," I felt as if she had assaulted me personally.  And, I would expect, a lot of other non-cisgender people felt the same way.

After pressure from Busey and others, the courageous Ms. Brennan removed the post in which she "outed" the young man from her website.  However, one of Kelli Busey's friends, Stephanie Stevens, saved it, and Busey published it on Scribe.  I am grateful to, and for, Ms. Busey and Stevens.

10 June 2012

Because He Can

So...A few weeks ago, Barack announced that he's in favor of gay marriage--after Joe Biden's announcement of same basically pressured him into reversing the position he espoused in 2008, when he was running for President.

Beyond that, though, how much progress has he really made on LGBT equality?  

Sometimes I get the feeling he's taking LGB people for granted because most won't vote for Romney.  And I sense that he'll throw transgenders under the bus again if the election is close enough, and the economy isn't good.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

08 June 2012

About The Intersex Debate

Yesterday's post generated one of the most mean-spirited comments I've received since I started this blog.

For the record:  I have never claimed to be any sort of authority on intersex people--or even, for that matter, transgenders, lesbians, gays or bisexuals.  In fact, I don't even claim to be an expert on gender or sexuality, and I am not trying to become one.

That is the very reason why I will not ever judge whether someone is "really" intersex, transgender or whatever.  First of all, I don't want such a job--which, by the way, is one reason I'll most likely never become a therapist or social worker.  The only person who knows whether he or she "feels like" a man or woman, or his or her attractions, is the person him or her self.  

It doesn't do anybody any good to accuse someone whose beliefs and experiences don't square with what we know of "hiding behind" something, or "faking it."   It also doesn't do anyone any good to call someone a "late to the game transsexual" or some such thing.  It still shocks me to hear such bile and bitterness, and such baseless accusations, from other members of the LGBT community.  I still think of all of the men who were convinced that I was a gay cross-dresser, when they knew nothing of my motivations for wearing women's clothes or living as a woman.  (Neither one was a sexual turn-on.)  If I were a better person, I suppose I would feel pity for such people.  Talk about delusion:  They were assuming sexual interest that I simply didn't have for them.

Now, speaking as a lay person who just happens to have known people with the genitalia of both sexes--and, in some cases, neither was clearly defined--I don't think anyone has any business accusing Steve Crecilius or anyone else of "making up" such a story or "using" it to rationalize cross-dressing or whatever.  "Lindy," whom I mentioned yesterday, nearly died because of her condition.  She had not been to a doctor in many years because of her poverty and lack of insurance, and because of the mistreatment she received from medical professionals.   When she had last seen a doctor (before her condition was discovered), almost no doctors had any idea about intersexedness, or related conditions.  And, if someone doesn't get an X-ray or other kind of examination in that area of the body, such a condition would not have been discovered.  

"Lindy" was brought to an emergency room because she was so sick she could barely stand up.  As it turned out, her internal ovarian system had been infected and was gangrenous.  

Now, as to why someone like Steve would marry, father children and such even though he "felt like a woman inside."  Well--again, I will speak only from my own experience and that of people I know----most of us, especially those my age or older, knew that we would not find acceptance and would almost certainly lose our lives (or, at any rate, our careers, families and such) had we not followed the cultural dictates that go along with whichever gender is indicated on our birth certificates.  Some of us also thought that being in love with a member of the "opposite" gender would "cure" us.  Not to mention that many of us were always, and remain, attracted to members of the "opposite" gender.  And, finally, most people want to have kids.  That is, as best as I can tell, completely independent of anatomy, gender, sexual orientation or any other factor.

So, please stick to facts--or, at least, solid, commonly-accepted medical or scientific theory--if you are going to attack me or anyone else, or anything we say.  Please don't attack us with conjecture or your beliefs:  Isn't it bad enough that other people are doing the same to you?

I've managed not to have any "flame wars" during the nearly four years I've been writing this blog.  I'd like to keep that record going.

07 June 2012

Intersexed People And Faux Fascination

Recently, Faux (I mean, Fox) and other media outlets made a spectacle about the "man who found out she was a woman."  

For an organization whose "conservative" commentators preach "family values" and such, the network seems, sometimes, to have an almost-lurid fascination with people who don't fit into the traditional categories of gender and sexuality.  Of course, Fox and their ilk see us as freaks, or worse.  But the fact that they pay more attention to us than the supposedly-liberal outlets is, to say the least, interesting.

But it's the subject, I think, of another, much longer, post (or something other than a blog post).  The reason I paid attention to the story is that I realized such "discoveries," while not common, aren't exactly unknown, either. 

During the days immediately following my surgery, when I was resting and recuperating in The Morning After House, an intersexed woman came to Trinidad for Marci's help. Like Steven Crecilius, "Lindy" found out she, essentially, the entire female reproductive system inside her when she went to a hospital for another condition that nearly killed her.  Like Steven (who, I imagine, will change her name), "Lindy" felt she was not the male her birth certificate said she was.  And, the discovery of that internal uterus cleared up that mystery, and others, as Steven's visit to the doctor did for her.

Since starting my transition, I have met other intersexed people.  Upon meeting them, I always said something like, "I can only imagine how it must have been."  And they said some version of the same thing to me.  Not one of them ever thought he or she was "more" transgendered or gender queer, or thought they were authentic and the rest of us were simply trying to avoid dealing with some other issue.   Sometimes I think each of them had another heart, in addition to another set of sexual and reproductive organs, within them.

05 June 2012

Janet Jackson To Produce "Truth"

Sometimes I feel a little bit sorry for Janet Jackson.  Mention her name, and the first thing that comes to a lot of minds (particularly those of men and boys) is her "wardrobe malfunction" during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXVIII.

Now, it looks like she might redeem herself.  Then again, I never thought she needed redeeming.

Seriously, I just found out she's agreed to be an executive producer of "Truth,"  a documentary about the lives of transgender people around the world.  Filming is expected to begin this summer.  In addition to working behind-the-scenes, she's expected to sit for some on-camera interviews.

"'Truth' is our small chance to ask that you try and understand someone who lives their life in a way that is a little bit different from yours, even though our hearts are all the same," she says.  "We want to stop the hate and find understanding."

Director Robert Jason, whose previous directing experience includes the Style Network documentary "Style Exposed:  Born Male, Living Female," has promised that Jackson will play a "prominent" role in the finished product.

04 June 2012

Life On A Rainy Day

Today has been unusually cool for this time of year.  It's also rained on and off throughout the day.  I managed to ride for about half an hour.

After a dinner of shrimp and corn bisque, tilapia coated with cornmeal, freshly-ground black pepper and thyme and sauteed in olive oil with capers and lemon, and a vegetable medley, I did some work.  But Marley (r) and Max had their own way of coping.  Oh, by the way, they dined on poached tilapia.