31 October 2014

The Wrong Way To Go About It

None of us likes to hear ignorant, hateful comments, especially when they're directed at us--or, at least, some notion that the person making the comment has about us.  I really hope that one day we will live in a world in which we--and the trans people who are coming after us--don't have to hear such things.

At the same time I oppose, and have always opposed, censorship  and in any form. People--at least in this country--have a right to say what they please, even if it's something people don't like or is simply wrong.  If the latter is true, it's our job to point out the error in their thinking or expression; if we find something not to our liking, we should say what we find objectionable about it.  

That is the reason why I think Houston mayor Annise Parker was wrong to subpoena pastors who oppose the recent city ordinance prohibiting businesses from discriminating against transgender people.  

Now, I don't want you to think that just because I've become involved in a church, I've begun to side with all members of the clergy.  Far from it:  I still cringe when I hear of some of the pure and simple hate some of them are spewing from their pulpits, and I have to remind myself that not all ordained people do such things.  In fact, the priests at my church make great efforts to make trans people welcome and the senior pastoral associate--a very intelligent and compassionate straight woman--spends time with me and other trans members of our congregation in an effort to better understand our needs and wishes.

It is precisely because I've found her, and the other priests and the congregation of my church that I know things can be better.  And that is another reason why I think that we should--no, must--allow bigoted clergy people to express their opposition to laws designed to protect us, or simply to whatever they think we represent.  Simply demonizing, and trying to silence, them will only deepen their opposition to us because it shuts off any possibility of dialogue.  Even if they don't want to talk to us, we can't win the right to exercise the rights God and the Constitution gave us, let alone any possibility of gaining the respect of others within and outside our community, if we deny the rights and humanity of those who want to push us back into the closet.

Please understand that I am saying things that I have a difficult time accepting myself.  A part of me still wants to dismiss those "fundamentalist" pastors as barbaric and hypocritical.  (After all, how can someone preach the love of God and hatred, or simply bigotry, against human beings?)  Having said that, it almost goes without saying that I cringe at the thought of having to love such people.  But, really, there is no other choice:  No one has ever won a battle against hate by using hate.

30 October 2014

What's It Like To Be A Trans Girl?

Sometimes I'm asked "What's it like?" to be transgendered or, more specifically, a trans woman.  The best answer I can give is that I can't answer the question, but I can tell you about MY experience.

In other words, there isn't one kind of trans woman, or trans person.  Part of the reason I didn't start my transition earlier is that I didn't think I fit the profiles of trans women I carried in my mind.  I thought I was too tall, to broad-boned or deep-voiced.  Or I thought I wasn't, on the outside "feminine" or "pretty" (at least, as those terms are commonly defined) in our culture.  Plus, I have always felt more attracted to women than to men.

Some graphic artist must have been thinking what I thought.  Let us thank "Kyle"--that is the only name I could find--for this wonderful graphic:

29 October 2014

Don't Tell, Don't Transition--Not Yet, Anyway

Even after the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," transgender people who live--and want to serve--in the gender of their mind and spirit aren't allowed to be in the Armed Forces.  A trans person who begins his or her transition is supposed to be discharged, under current rules.

However, there is a widespread expectation that the ban will soon be repealed.  As a result, Captain Sage Fox, who had been an Army Reservist for fourteen years, received a call she hadn't anticipated:  a call from her commander telling her that she could continue to serve in her preferred gender.  She would even have permission to be called "ma'am" and use the female latrine.

Or so she--and her commander--thought.

A short time later, her orders were reversed.  She wasn't exactly discharged, at least as the Army defines it.  Instead, she was placed on Individual Ready Reserve, meaning that she could be called back to duty but, in the meantime, would not show up for training, draw a paycheck or have access to benefits. 

In other words, the Army was, essentially, disowning her without discharging her, leaving her in a career and legal limbo.  So, trans people are being advised not to come out because of scenarios like Captain Fox's.

Or that of someone named "Hunter", who is transitioning to male.  Even though his hair is short and testosterone has done its work on him, he still has to use a female latrine (which causes women to flee) and, when attending formal dinners at the officer's school, wear a form-fitting jacket and skirt.

The question of allowing trans people to serve as who they are is much greater than it seems:  Our estimated population of 15,000 in the Armed Services actually represents a somewhat higher percentage than in the population as a whole.  Many serve for years, or even decades (as Captain Fox did) before having their "epiphanies" that cause them to begin psychotherapy, hormones and the other aspects of a gender transition. 

The irony is that trans men and trans women are drawn to enlist for essentially the same reasons.  One, of course, is job prospects. But another is the hypermasculine culture of the military.  To a non-trans person, it makes sense in the case of female-to-male transgenders.  But male-to-females also want to be in such an environment as a way (that ultimately doesn't work) of suppressing their femaleness or, at least, accentuating maleness they may or may not have.  In other words, it's the same sort of impulse that drives some to become police officers or firefighters. (My therapist told me she's treated a number of male-to-female trans people who worked in those professions, as well as the military.)  It's also the same sort of impulse that led people like me to spend lots of time in sports and physical training--or any number of closeted or manque gay men to marry women. 

Some of us (male-to-females) are also motivated by a "desire to serve our country", in the misguided way we're taught to understand it.  Again, just like our female-to-male bretheren.  And gay men.  And lesbians.  And straight people.


28 October 2014

E-Mail Error Exposes Identites of Transgender Patients

You've been going to the clinic for a while.  Hopefully, you have--or are developing--a rapport with your doctor and therapist.  Perhaps you've begun to take hormones--or it's not far in the future. 

But you're still going to work under the name you were given at birth, in clothes and hairstyles deemed appropriate for the gender in which you were assigned.  Maybe your friends, family--or spouse or kids--don't yet know what you're doing.  You're preparing yourself for the "right" moment, whenever that comes, to "come out".

Or, perhaps, you're living in the gender of your mind and spirit.  But, to do that, you moved to a new community and, maybe, into a new line of work.  None of your neighbors or co-workers--or students or instructors, if you've decided to go back to school--knows about your former life, and you want to keep it that way.

Then the worst happens. At least, it's one of the worst possible things for someone in your situation.

Such a thing happened in Glasgow, Scotland.  Someone at the Sandyford Clinic in that city sent out an e-mail announcing an upcoming event to 86 patients.   That e-mail included recipients' e-mail addresses in the "to" section.  Worst of all, some of those addresses included all or part of the patients' names and birthdates.

I'm willing to believe that the error was accidental, as the clinic stated.  But that, for me, makes it even more worrisome, for it's a reminder that it doesn't take malice or violence to put us in danger. 

27 October 2014

Church Reinstates Minister Defrocked For Helping His Son

When I was researching gender-reassignment surgeons, I read about Dr. Stanley Biber, whose practice my surgeon, Dr. Marci Bowers, continued.

Dr. Biber worked at Mount San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad, Colorado--a facility founded by the Sisters of Charity.  Even though the hospital was in the process of being taken over by the Trinidad Area Health Association by the time Biber started performing the surgeries in 1968, there were still Sisters associated with the facility.  Also, some members of the TAHA were, to put it mildly, conservative.  So Dr. Biber had to conduct his surgeries "underground", so to speak.  

Given that he had established his reputation as a surgeon, having worked at the hospital for several years before that first GRS, he was able to convince anyone who questioned him that he was, in fact, doing other surgeries.

I thought of that as I read about Rev. Frank Schaefer.  Granted, what he did "under the radar" was very different from what Dr. Biber did.  But the Methodist minister suffered in a way that Dr. Biber could have.

Rev. Schaefer secretly performed a same-sex marriage--his son's-- in Massachusetts.  At least, it remained secret for a few years.  Then, a member of his conservative Pennsylvania congregation got wind of it and filed a complaint, which led to his being defrocked--even though he promised never to perform another same-sex marriage.

Given the climate of the time and place in which he worked, Dr. Biber could well have lost his hospital privileges--or even his medical license.   That he didn't is--if you'll indulge me in using a religious term--a miracle.

Now the judicial council of the United Methodist Church has ruled that the Pennsylvania church jury was wrong to defrock Rev. Schaefer.  The council based it ruling on "technical grounds", but emphasized that their decision should not be interpreted as support for gay marriage.


26 October 2014

Now They're Blaming This On Gays

Here I was, worrying that a President who's even worse on civil liberties than George the Younger would use the Ebola outbreak as an excuse to trample whatever rights we still have.

Well, my worries were misplaced.  Governors Christie and Cuomo didn't wait for Obama to out-Bush Bush. Not long after they ordered mandatory quarantines of people suspected of having the virus, a nurse returning from volunteering with  Medecins sans Frontieres in Africa is treated to a new version of stop-and-frisk--in Newark Liberty Airport.

(You can't make this shit up.)

But, as bad as Kaci Hickox's experience was, I am now even more worried about some folks in Africa.  As an example, Leroy Ponpon is one of many Liberians who might lock himself in his flat because of the virus.  If he doesn't do that, he has another option:  He can lock himself in his flat (in Monrovia) because he's gay.

In his country, church leaders are telling people that Ebola was a curse sent by God to punish sodomy.  That is, really, not surprising:  LGBT people have been blamed for the Newtown Massacre, Hurricane Katrina, the economic disaster of post-World War I Germany, Superstorm Sandy, the events of 11 September 2001  and all manner of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, floods, climate change and other natural and human-caused disasters. Oh, and let's not forget the AIDS epidemic.

But attributing the Ebola outbreak to gays takes on a particular virulence in a country in Liberia.  An acquaintance of mine hails from that country , when asked about LGBT rights in Liberia, says, "You can't say both in the same sentence."  As far as I know, he's straight.

Still, he says, the situation for gay and lesbian people in his homeland is better than it is in neighboring Sierra Leone and  Guinea.  Those nations and Liberia are, in turn, like San Francisco, Berlin and Montreal in comparison to nearby Nigeria.

Now, having never been in Africa and having almost entirely positive experiences with the Africans I've met, both here in North America and in Europe, I have no wish to paint the continent as a hotbed of homophobia.  Interestingly, in another of Liberia's neighbors--Cote d'Ivoire--has never criminalized same-sex relations conducted in private, though public same-sex sexual acts are considered punishable offenses. 

So how is it that Liberia and its other neighbors have such restrictive laws, and nearby Nigeria has ones that are draconian, even by the standards of such stalwarts of LGBT rights as Putin's Russia?  One reason is that Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea were colonized by Great Britain during the Victorian era, when sexual mores were more repressive.  While Liberia doesn't have that history, it was founded by freed American slaves who were infused with the conservative Christianity of their time and their former masters.

Cote d'Ivoire, on the other hand, was--as its name indicates--a French colony.  Thus, its laws about homosexual relations are basically the same as the ones that prevailed in France at the time it ruled.  When you think of it, the law reflects a French attitude that persists even today:  Everyone there knows that certain people, some celebrities and others members of the local community, are gay.  But it is not discussed and, for the most part, the French don't care--as long the gay people in question keep it as leur propre affaire.

One might wonder why the other countries I've mentioned haven't updated their laws about LGBT people.  After all, the British colonizers haven't been in those countries in decades, and Liberians are several generations removed from their history as slaves.  The reason, I believe, is that all of those countries are still bound by another, and more insidious kind of colonialization.  The kind I'm talking about wasn't brought by merchants or by men in uniforms who arrived on gunships.  Rather, the ones I'm talking about--who probably never saw themselves as colonizers--sometimes wore clerical collars and habits.  Or they were the kinds of modestly-dressed people one sees handing out pamphlets on street corners.

I'm talking about religious missionaries.  They brought with them their churches' attitudes about sex and family that prevailed in their home countries at the time they arrived.   Nigeria in particular was affected:  It now has, arguably, the most conservative Christian church--the local Roman Catholic--on the continent.  (Indeed,  in part because of his conservativism,  Father Francis Arzine was considered a leading candidate to succeed Pope John Paul II.)  Nigeria also is home to Boko Haram, in the mainly-Muslim northern part of the country.  The organization's name means, "Western education is forbidden."  That, I think, says a lot about their attitudes toward women, let alone homosexuality. 

Between the Boko Haram and a conservative Catholic church, how much respect--let alone tolerance--would you expect to find for LGBT people?

If anything, the surprise is that some bishop or imam there didn't beat Liberian officials in blaming LGBT people for the Ebola epidemic.


25 October 2014

Where We (Don't) Live

Ever wonder what young LGBT people are up against?  Here's an infographic that gives at least one part of the story:


24 October 2014

A Book About Jazz: Music To My Ears

Lately, I've thought about writing a transgender children's book, or one for young adults.

If I do, I won't be the first:  Jazz Jennings of Florida has just published "I Am Jazz".

Her aim, she says, is to show children--whether or not they identify with the gender assigned to them at birth-- what it's like to be transgender.

I want to read it:  It sounds like the kid of book I wish I could have had when I was growing up.

Even more to the point, she's living the life I sometimes wish I could have lived:  She began living as a girl at age five.

23 October 2014

Maybe Justice Will Prevail Now

Good news:  Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US Marine accused of killing trans woman Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck, has been turned over to local authorities in the Philippines, where he was stationed and committed the murder.

The Philippines has been rated one the most gay-friendly nations in Asia, if not the world.  Even so, some lesbian couples report discrimination and I haven't read or heard much about what trans people face there.

Still, I am more confident that justice will be done in the Filipino civil system than it would be in the US Military, which has a history of covering up sexual assaults and hate crimes committed by its members.

22 October 2014

A Prison Within A Prison

A 16-year-old is imprisoned as a form of therapy.

Sounds good so far, right?  Well, it gets even better.

The teenager in question has been a ward of the state since the age of five.   During the next decade, this teen was beaten, raped, denied food and trafficked for sex--and endured homelessness. 

Oh, wait, there's more:  This kid is in a boys' detention center.  But she's a girl.

Yes, she's transgender.  Joette Katz, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, recommended the detention of the teenager, who is identified only as Jane Doe.  Ms. Katz's reasoning--impeccable, as she used to be a judge, right?---is that Ms. Doe was "too violent" for the juvenile facilities in which she had been housed.

Forget that, according to some, the charges against Ms. Doe were overstated.  Even if they weren't, staffers at such facilities are accustomed to much worse than Ms. Doe dished out.  Besides, how is locking up someone--in solitary confinement, no less--going to make someone whose anger issues are probably linked to PTSD and having to deal with her gender identity less volatile?

Ms. Katz hasn't said.  So, Ms. Doe's lawyers are filing an amended suit in which Ms. Doe's Constitutional rights are being violated when prison staffers and officials refer to her by her birth name and male pronouns, force her to wear boys' uniforms and don't allow her to wear wigs and makeup.  These charges were added to the one that said that her Constitutional rights were being violated when she was kept in solitary confinement.

Whoaa...Solitary confinement?  In a boys' detention facility?  Even though she was never charged with any indictable offense before the incaluculably wise Ms. Katz put her in prison?

Such a gem of jurisprudence, coming from a former judge.  And people wonder why there are so many lawsuits--including the one on behalf of Jane Doe.

21 October 2014

Speaking Of Allies...

Speaking of alliesCaryn Kunkle is certainly one.

Two of her friends were brutally attacked by a group of fifteen (!) boys and girls in Center City, Philadelphia.  After asking whether the two men were a couple, the young thugs assaulted and robbed them while yelling, "Dirty faggots!"

One of the men was so badly beaten that police thought he was dead from a gunshot wound.  Now he and his boyfriend want to make sure no one else has to experience what they did.  So does Ms. Kunkle.

She is working with them, and others to change Pennsylvania's hate crime laws, which don't include crimes committed against people primarily because of their sexual orientation.   I, of course, have signed the petition.  I urge you to do the same.

Of course, there needs to be language to protect people attacked for their actual or perceived gender identity.  That's the next step after Kunkle and her friends see the change they're seeking.

20 October 2014

From The Homeless Hub: How To Be An Ally To The Trans Community

I found this in "The Homeless Hub":

How To Be An Ally To The Transgender Community

Certainly Do...

get to know me!
educate yourself!
use preferred pronouns!

Please Don't...

out me as trans without my permission.
ask what my name was "before".
make assumptions about my sexual orientation.
ask me about my genitals.
and learn my "real" name!

19 October 2014

A Real Homecoming Peach

Is she a Georgia Peach?  A Southern Belle?

Whatever you want to call her, she's Sage Lovell.  But she's not just any 16-year-old girl.

You see, her classmates in an Atlanta-area high school elected her to represent them in their homecoming court.

That's a big deal for any teenager.  It's an especially big deal in Georgia.  As in other Southern states, people take this stuff as seriously as they take beauty pageants, football (American) and church.

But what makes Ms. Lovell truly special is that she's the first known transgender to be elected to a homecoming court in her state. 

  CBS46 News

CBS46 News

18 October 2014

How Do You Say "NIMBY" In Latin?

How do you say “Oops!” in Latin?  

It seems now that the Vatican, in spite of Pope Francis’ pronouncements, is backing off on a relatio that would make the Roman Catholic Church more welcoming—or, at any rate, less excluding—to LGBT people.

I don’t blame Francis for this.  I think he really wants to change the Church, at least to the degree that he can.  He must have anticipated push-back, but I wonder if he realized just how much more conservative some bishops are than he is—or how many such bishops there are.

It’s also hard not to wonder how many of those bishops didn’t read the relatio until the news media reported it, or whether they read it more closely after hearing all of the discussion about it.  

Some of those bishops are pure-and-simple homophobes who simply don’t want anyone but potential breeders in their church.

How do you say “NIMBY” in Latin?

17 October 2014

Forgotten--Or Incognito?

Today I’m going to write about something that was, perhaps, inevitable.

About a month ago, I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen in at least fifteen years, or about five years before I started my transition.  We used to teach at the same college; in those days, this person was an adjunct instructor who was working on a PhD.  For a brief time, we shared an office; after that, our offices faced each other but we didn’t see each other much, as we were on different schedules.

I met this instructor at a workshop that was held on another campus of the university system in which both of us teach.  This former colleague of mine is still at the same campus in which we worked together so long ago (or so it seems).  Since we last met, the now-professor finished a PhD, got tenure and is now director of the college’s Writing Center.

Someone with whom I now work introduced us.  I didn’t need it, as the now-director of the Writing Center looks like pretty much the same as in those days, just a bit older.  Besides, this person has some physical characteristics that time could not have altered, and an accent only slightly diminished.

But—need I say this?—I’ve changed a bit since then.  I think I still had a full beard the last time I saw this instructor before last month.  Hormones and age have altered my face and body at least somewhat and, needless to say, I was dressed in a way I never would have dressed—for work, anyway!—in those days.

“Happy to meet you,” my former co-worker said.

“The pleasure is mine.”

It was, really:  this person seemed calmer than—and as gracious as—I recalled.  Still, an unease tinged my pleasure:  Did this person with whom I once shared an office, and a lunch or two, not realize who I was?

On one hand, that was what I hoped.  Meeting me as Justine, and not recalling me as Nick, means that, in at least one way, my transition was as complete as I could have ever hoped it would be.  Plus, it would also mean that my onetime work-mate had forgotten some times when, frankly, I was an asshole.

On another hand, I felt a sadness that came back a few times over the next few days.  I wasn’t thinking about some relationship I could have had with this former colleague:  We were co-workers who were cordial and sometimes friendly to each other—which, I guess, is how such relationships should be.  I had no romantic feelings or sexual attraction and, as far as I could tell, this person didn’t have such longings for me.

Rather, seeing someone from my past who, apparently, only saw me in the present got me to thinking and gave me some flashbacks.  I couldn’t help but to wonder what it would have been like to have lived as Justine then, or before.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have worked at that college or, for that matter, in any college.  Would I have been one of those young women who were among the first in their offices, boardrooms, courtrooms or other workplaces, as many—who were around my own age—were in my youth?  Would I have become the writer, the artist, I had wanted—and still want—to be? 

Or would I have been some guy’s wife and the mother of his kids (some of them, anyway)?  If so, what kind of man would he have been?  Or would I have run off, by myself or with another, to live or work in some “womyn’s” collective?

Given the kind of person I—and the way the world—was, perhaps things wouldn’t have been that good.  Perhaps I would have spent some years walking the street where I would die.  Then again, I could just as easily have died on that same street—or some other—at someone else’s hands, or from bottles or needles.

For all I know, I might have been the colleague of that person I bumped into last month.  And we still might be working together in that same place, and I might be a professor—or have another position and title.

Of course, we never can know what kind of person we might have been.  But seeing someone I hadn’t seen in a long time got me to thinking about it.  What if she had recognized me?  What if she did?

16 October 2014

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

The issue has received a lot of publicity because of Ray Rice.  The running back's contract with the Baltimore Ravens was suspended by the team not long after the National Football League suspended him for beating his then-fiancée (now wife) into unconsciousness. 

Of course, it took a lot of public outcry and pressure from sponsors to get Roger Gooddell, the NFL commissioner, to act on his case.  He claimed not to have known about the video on which Rice uses his spouse-to-be as a punching bag in an Atlantic City casino elevator at the time TMZ posted it online, in March.

Still, Rice's case got more attention than most other incidents of domestic violence, in part because of his celebrity.  Too many other incidents of such abuse are never reported, and too many others are simply not taken seriously when they are reported. Or, they are mis-handled by law enforcement authorities.

One reason for these problems has to do with perceptions and attitudes about domestic violence. For the most part, there are still many people--including, incredibly, women--who think that the woman/girl must have done something to "provoke" the man/boy.  Such provocation can include simply not pleasing him, whether sexually or in some other way. 

Another reason why domestic violence isn't dealt with appropriately is that it's still seen as a man-on-woman problem.  To be sure, the vast majority of such cases involve males abusing females in one way or another.  But new research has found that there's LGBT partners beat and otherwise abuse each other at roughly the same rate as heterosexual couples.   Sometimes law enforcement officials don't take their complaints seriously or at all; even when a conscientious police officer tries to help and records the complaint, little more can be done because the couple's union isn't legally recognized.

And, I can tell you from personal experience that some policemen (and -women) simply think trans people are not worth helping because, they believe, we're all sex workers (or sexual predators) and that our status somehow gives our partners the right to abuse us.  Finally, too many in law enforcement--and even in the so-called helping and healing professions--still think that if it's not physical, it's not abuse.  It took me three visits to my local precinct before anyone would hear my ordeal of having endured over 11,000 text messages, as well as "anonymous" false complaints to my former employer and the city, and e-mails falsely accusing me of sexual crimes, from Dominick.

Of course, he will never think of himself as an abuser.  It's because of people like him that we need anything that will raise awareness of what Domestic (i.e., Intimate Partner) Violence (i.e., abuse) actually is.

15 October 2014

Where's The Justice?

An old joke says that examples of "oxymorons" include "dietetic candy", "business ethics" and "military intelligence".

To that list I would add "military justice", at least in matters of domestic and sexual violence, and in hate crimes.

Perhaps you think I'm embittered by my experience of having been sexually assaulted during a college ROTC training weekend.  It took me 33 years to talk about it for the first time, as I did last summer.  To be fair, at that time, very few people went public with accounts of sexual violence committed against them in any arena. Still, I think it says something about the culture of the military that I knew, even then, that if I said anything about what had been done to me, I'd probably be in more trouble than the perpetrators.  In fact, I even knew somehow that they'd get off scot-free because they were my superiors.

It is from such experience, and with the knowledge of other incidents of rape and other sexual (and domestic) violence that I lament the US Marines' retaining custody of one of their own, Joseph Scott Pemberton.  He is accused of killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck in the Phillipines, where he was stationed.  

Filipino activists want him turned over to their criminal justice system.  I can't blame them:  The US occupation of their islands includes countless cases of abuse against ordinary Filipinos and, especially, Filipinas.  And they know that their overlords (i.e., the top of the American military command chain) have a way of covering up crimes and abuses committed by their cronies as well as those who serve them.   And Pemberton, if he's charged, will probably claim "transgender panic" or some such thing (which, by the way, is what Dominick tried to do when I filed for a restraining order against him).

You might say that such is an emotional response to the crime.  All right, I'll stick to pure-and-simple jurisprudence (at least, as I understand it:  I am not a lawyer).  If a civilian, or anyone in a non-combat situation, kills someone in a country other than his own, he would (and should) be tried by the local authorities.  So, why shouldn't Mr. Pemberton, if he is guilty of the crime.  He was in uniform but, to my knowledge, we're not at war with the Phillipines.

I say:  Hand him over!


14 October 2014

Trans Woman Attacked In Bushwick

Over the past few years, as Williamsburg has become trendy and pricey, Bushwick has become Brooklyn's new haven for hipsters.  

Unfortunately, it also seems to have become a haven for haters.

On Sunday night, a trans woman was attacked on the corner of Bushwick Avenue and Halsey Street.  She was walking with a friend when four men approached them and demanded to know what they were doing in the neighborhood.

When she replied, the thugs realized she was trans.  They beat her with 2X4s while calling her "faggot".

It was the second anti-LGBT attack in the neighborhood in two weeks.

I can recall a time when it was risky for anyone who wasn't from the neighborhood--and for some people who were--to walk those streets at night.  It wasn't that long ago:  I was pelted with eggs on one occasion and, on another, a group of young men tried to stop me at an intersection when I was riding my bike through the neighborhood.

Back then, I was still living as a man.  I even had a beard and broad shoulders that seemed even wider next to my waist, which was smaller.  Most people took me as a straight, or at least a bisexual-leaning-toward-straight, man.  I can only imagine what it would have been like if I had begun my transition.

The neighborhood was dangerous for LGBT people in the same way any area that was ravaged by crime and poverty:  People whose existences were precarious saw any deviation from accepted notions about gender and sexuality as a threat.  There are still people--young men, mainly--with such fears who live in the neighborhood. And there are others who see LGBT people as gentrifiers, or the "canaries in the coal mine" who precede them.  In other words, they think we're going to "take over" their neighborhood and kick them out.

Truth is, most of the LGBT people in Bushwick--More are living there than most people realize!--are there for the same reasons as the folks I've mentioned:  It's still a relatively affordable neighborhood.  One of the undeniable facts about the LGBT world--especially trans people--is poverty.  For every one those conspicuously-consuming gay men living in Chelsea penthouses, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of trans people who are living below the poverty line--or who are homeless.

Now, of course, the trans woman and gay man who suffered bias attacks in Bushwick during the past two weeks may not have been attacked by denizens of the neighborhood.  Because those "in the know" know there's a substantial LGBT population in the neighborhood, it's not hard to imagine that haters from other neighborhoods, or even from outside of this city, might go to such a neighborhood during "hunting season":  the weekend.   That's the reason why so many attacks occur in Chelsea, Clinton, the Village and Jackson Heights.

Whoever the perps were, my thoughts and prayers go out to the trans woman and gay man who had the misfortune to meet up with haters (read: cowards) on a Bushwick street.