Friday, May 30, 2008

Kinda How We Feel


I frequent a website called Canoe - it stands for Canada Online - and while I no longer follow hockey with the daily intensity from my previous life, I still enjoy accessing the daily crossword puzzle (ironically provided by United Syndicate which is based here in Kansas City) from their site. I began doing crossword puzzles as a teenager in a competition with my mother. It would be years before I could adequately challenger her in terms of accuracy, completion and time. But I drift.....

Today I went to Canoe and they had highlighted a feature on the front page called "70 Truly Awful Album Covers". And yes, many were downright dreadful. Most hailed from the 60's and 70's when album covers were rather large. Covers for CD's these days provide much less space for "creativity". One that caused me to laugh...and then became apparent of the transgender actually from a 2006 release:

Now I have no idea who the Demolition Doll Rods are, but peeking "down there" certainly raises a lot of transgender sentiments. "I got what?", "This is why you call me a boy/girl?", "Why can't I have what she/he has?" get the idea.

I had a good laugh at this one even though it was on this "Worst Of" list.

Or as Bree put it in "TransAmerica", "Isn't it amazing Plastic Surgery can cure a Mental Illness?"!

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Gotta Pee!!!!

The Predator Potty Polemic
James Dobson's Focus on the Family is all a-twitter with a bill sitting on
Colorado Governor Bill Ritter's desk that would extend anti-discrimination
provisions to transgender people in the state. Included in the language
of the bill - which is pretty much standard for ALL such measures (now in 12
states, D.C. and nearly 100 cities and counties) - is access to
appropriate rest rooms at public facilities.

Never one to miss a good opportunity to pander more Hate, FotF is
sponsoring ads on area radio stations in an effort to play upon bigotry
and ignorance in an effort to cause the Governor to feel squeamish about
signing the law. While Ritter is a Democrat, that is no guarantee that he
won't be willing to toss us into the "round file".

Some questions for Dobson:

1.) Where would you have me go pee? We all gotta go sometime,

2.) Just where are "predators" going pee now? We all gotta go sometime,
3.) Is this gross mis-characterization of transgenders and display of
extremely intense phobia a factor of your education as a minister or
as a
4.) Why isn't this happening elsewhere? Go Portland,
Pittsburgh, Santa Fe, Kansas City, Seattle...any of
those places I mentioned above
and ask them for their Predator in
the Potty files, (Hint - they don't exist).

5) Please show me where "Christian" grace is present in this ad.

I used to wonder how it was that so many people listen and follow
people like Dobson and Hagee and Robertson and Falwell and
Parsley, et.
al. How could they be so gullible, so guileless, so
bereft of discernment
or intelligence. I now understand I've had
this backwards all along. It
is NOT the work of the Ministers
of Hate "spreading the word". It is in
fact the "followers" to
whom these "ministers" are all too willing to
pander to their
fears and prejudices in order to gain their own sense of
prestige and pelf.'s not shame on's shame on

Just an FYI. I am not a Predator.


Listen to Focus on the Family's restroom predator ad.

RADIO: 60 05.07.08 "SB200 - Predator" Draft

SFX: [screen door closing book bag dropping on table]

ANNCR: If the Colorado Legislature has its way

GIRL 1: Mom! A man in a dress came into the girl's bathroom at

ANNCR: We could all be dealing with a new type of predator

WOMAN: [ambient sound under of woman getting out of car, door
beep and
close] Honey, there was a man using the women's showers
today at the
fitness center I asked the management why?!...They
said it was
Colorado law!

ANNCR: And instead of our kids worrying about finals and
the prom
they'll have to worry about who's in the bathroom with
them at school.

GIRL 2: [SFX: ambient hall noise, lockers close] No way I'm
going in
there I'd rather wait all day than go in there if he's
in there, too.

ANNCR: Most Coloradans understand our children must be protected
predators. But if Governor Bill Ritter won't veto Senate
Bill 200, all
public restrooms - including those in our public
schools - will be
open to anyone of any sex. The Colorado
Legislature, which is under
control of the Democrat Party -
has already passed SB200, but Governor
Ritter still has time
to veto it. Call the Governor now and ask him to
protect our
kids and veto SB200. Call
303-866-2471. That's 303-866-2471.
303-866- 2471.

Brought to you by Focus on the Family Action and Colorado
Family Action.

Copyright 2008 The Denver Post or other copyright holders.
All rights

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Goin' to the Chapel

The California Marriage Ruling

It's been a few days since the Supreme Court in the State of California issued its ruling that declared man/woman only marriage laws to be discriminatory. As expected, the gay and lesbian community is overjoyed with gaining marriage equity in one of the nations largest states. And rightfully so. And as expected there is a renewed push for an initiative that would make marriage inequity in a constitutional amendment. Legal scholars are flipflopping all over themselves with this one. Can something the Supreme Court already declared "unconstitutional" then be added as an amendment by a vote of the people? No one knows for sure.

One thing not often noted in the news discussions is that the composition of the California court is largely Republican and conservative. Many are pointing to the 4-3 "narrow" vote, but even some of the dissent wasn't as "anti" as detractors would like you to believe. The truth is that the original principles of "conservativism" have been corrupted by the moralists - marriage equity is something true conservatives - not religious based ones - would endorse.

The timing of the decision isn't optimal. While I've long held to the sentiment of Dr. King - "Justice delayed is Justice denied" - I also recognize the political implications in what should be a strong Democratic election year. This is re-fueling arguments for a federal amendment - for which the Clinton administration stalled with the Defense of Marriage Act - a typically half-baked Clinton-esque sellout.

Make no mistake, I am overjoyed for my gay and lesbian friends...but it really has only tangential meaning to me. Currently, transgenders can basically marry either sex...its only a question of where, not whom. The state of Kansas - my dear, backwards neighbors - in working to deny J'Noel Gardiner her marital rights to inheritance, declared that for the purposes of marriage a person is who they are from birth. So I, as a "birth" male can only marry a woman in Kansas. Yet in Missouri, where we have yet to adopt such backward legalese (don't think we're saints...give it time), I can marry a man since I am legally a woman.

The backlash however will fall on me. The rightwingers will feel emboldened and energized to attack us again - and they don't see any difference between the G, the L, the B and the T. So while there are those who have abandoned the trans community on other issues, we will be forced into providing money and resources to helping them counter this anticipated assault.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Finding Themselves

Logging town welcomes transgender group

It would seem incongruous - a weeklong transgender gathering in a small,
isolated town. Sunday marks the end of the 20th annual Esprit Gala in Port
Angeles, Washington
along the Strait of Juan De Fuca on the northern tip
of the Olympic Peninsula. It is a truly breathtaking area.

The television story that profiled my change was titled "Finding Donna".
It is here - in Port Angeles in 2001 that I found Donna. For nearly five
days, I got to be Me. Prior to departing, my therapist had quietly
offered that for some of her clients, attending Esprit was a "life
changing" experience. It was for me indeed...and I notice in this article
it remains that for many to this day.

The host hotel is right along the waterfront. There is an esplanade along
the shore that runs well beyond the boundaries of the hotel itself. And
there is also a small pier extending into water. At the end of the pier
is a viewing tower - about four or five stair flights. The Sunday morning
prior to our final luncheon - and then departure - I scaled the stairway,
stood in the gazebo atop the tower, faced the gentle breeze and said "My
name is Donna!"

There is nothing more spiritually powerful than finally finding yourself.


By Marc Ramirez
Seattle Times staff reporter

[Photo: <>
Becky Benton, left, and Brittany visit before modeling in a fashion
show Friday at the 19th-annual Esprit transgender conference in Port

RAEANN HEWITT threw on a dress and drove 400 miles last weekend to
Washington's Olympic Peninsula with an ear-to-ear smile, starting a
journey toward the person she feels she was meant to be. Now, learning
to negotiate the art of the high heel with several others outside a
Red Lion Hotel, she knows her escape will soon be over.

That's because she is really a he, an internal conflict that
ultimately tore Hewitt's marriage apart. Five years ago, this truck
driver from small-town Idaho gave in to the urges that had chased him
for years and started wearing women's clothes.For Hewitt to wear her
black blouse, smoky brown skirt and sun-yellow wig back home would be
asking for trouble. But in the logging town of Port Angeles, where the
Esprit transgender conference this week celebrated its 19th year at
the Red Lion, Hewitt's cross-dressing is not only tolerated, it's

The conference "has changed my life," she says. "A 10-ton weight was
lifted off my shoulders. I've never felt this good."

For the 165 people at this year's event, life outside the box is what
brings them together. Targeted largely at men ranging from those who
feel more themselves in women's clothes to those who want a full
surgical transition, Esprit offers reassurance, bonding and guidance
in the form of ladies' nights out, wardrobe help and workshops on, for
example, how to better present as the women they feel themselves to

For Hewitt (not his real name), the event is a respite from a closeted
existence demanding to be lived. Like most, he won't reveal his given
name; many men haven't come out to their families, friends, co-workers
or clients, or they fear the stigma could jeopardize their careers.

"I know when I get back, my real life is just gonna suck," Hewitt says.

THE WEEKLONG ESPRIT conference, which wraps up Sunday, is organized by
Emerald City — Seattle's transgender social group since 1982 — along
with Portland's Northwest Gender Association and Cornbury of
Vancouver, B.C.

One of a handful of similar events around the country, it offers the
nights out and seminars, as well as "S.O." activities for those with
wives and significant others comfortable enough to tag along. There's
also a "Big Sister/Little Sister" program linking those secure in
their other skin with those just emerging from their cocoons;
"newbies" are given butterfly pins at their weekending graduation.

Port Angeles might seem an odd choice for cross-dressers to
congregate, but Seattle's Debra Darling and fellow event founders had
a method in mind. The site, with its quaintly shabby country comfort,
is an easy midpoint for the three Northwest transgender clubs and a
safe, out-of-the-way locale for those afraid to "go public" at home.

Aside from the rare incident — an egging one year, or teens shouting
names from passing cars — the town has warmed to Esprit. Local
businesses offer free lattes, cupcakes or 20 percent discounts, and
attendees mix it up with locals at transgender band Nasty Habits'
raucous annual gig at Castaways, one of the local club's most popular

"They're a hoot," says Brenda Brat of the Red Lion's Crabhouse
restaurant. "We have a blast with them, and they bring a lot of money
to this town."

Retired businesswoman Lou Lawrence, who hosts an annual dinner for
event committee members, estimates the economic infusion at about

Says a clerk at Gottschalk's, a popular shopping destination for
attendees: "They buy a lot here. Their credit cards are smokin'."

"And once you start talking to them," a Crabhouse server says, "you
find out that — Jiminy Christmas, they're airline pilots, bankers,
construction workers."

This year's event drew people from throughout the Northwest and as far
away as Toronto, upstate New York and New Zealand. Families or
co-workers might think they're away on business or a fishing trip. But
some newbies never get past the registration area, much less venture

"This is a huge mountain for me to climb," says first-timer Joan, a
gruff, 62-year-old businessman from Victoria, B.C., who paid for wig
repair with a $100 bill. "I've been dressing up since I was
preadolescent, but I never walked out the door until yesterday."

Seminars address everything from feminine speech and movement to
medical procedures and "Blue Monday," which preps attendees for the
letdown that often follows their return to reality. Local salons offer
on-site manicures, pedicures and makeovers; in a makeshift boutique,
attendees could buy dresses, shoes, purses and panty hose.

GENDER IDENTITY can be a tricky concept. How can a man want to dress
like a woman — yet be attracted to women? For a large number, that's
the case. And if you're a family member of a man who, at age 45, has
"come out," is that person still your dad? Or your husband? And what
does it say about you?

Gender, those in the community say, is who you are. Sexual orientation
is who you're attracted to. "To put it bluntly," says Leah, one of
Emerald City's estimated 115 members, "gender is between the ears, and
sexual orientation is between the legs."

As Michelle Murray, a retired truck driver with twin daughters and
hormone-enhanced cleavage, puts it: "I didn't want to just date the
cheerleader. I wanted to be the cheerleader."

Most are older, having embraced their urges in their 40s and 50s when
they tired of societal limits and became financially and sexually
secure enough to pursue a pricey second life. But many say they felt
their urges as far back as grade school.

Growing up in the '50s and '60s, many fought to suppress their urges,
isolated and depressed, coming of age when less was known about such
identity and there was no Internet to link them together.

"For years, we thought we were the only ones in the whole wide world,"
says Seattle's Kelly Hansen (not his real name), a professional

They raided mom's closet, making sure everything was put back just so.
Some got caught, scolded, sent to psychiatrists, and buried themselves
even deeper, overcompensating later by pursuing typically macho sports
or careers.

"I had a whole stash of my sister's clothes," says Suzanne Adams, a
former law-enforcement officer whose outfits accentuate her shapely
legs and whose grandkids call her "Grandma." "I had my own Brownie
uniform. ... It wasn't until my 40s that I thought: I'd better face
this. I don't have to be ashamed."

"Outside of sex, we feel like women," longtime member Karen Williams,
an elegantly styled electrical engineer married to a woman for 26
years, told a Seattle University classroom earlier this year as part
of Emerald City's periodic education and outreach sessions. "... So we
change the outside to fit how we feel inside."

For some, it's as simple as a black dress with matching black purse;
others, like Murray, are drawn to a path that may lead to
sex-reassignment surgery. Some say they'd transition if they weren't
married or so late in life; others aren't drawn to it at all.

They craft new identities, from signature wardrobes and business cards
to credit cards issued in their chosen "femme" name. Few fit the
stereotype of the flamboyant drag queen, choosing less flashy wear
that simply helps them feel feminine.

Pamper yourself with makeup and jewelry, and "it's the greatest
feeling," says Barbara Anne Love, a 64-year-old flight instructor.
"Then, it's like Cinderella — the pumpkin comes back. And I have seven
hours before my beard comes back."

But for a week, they can be the person they want to be.

In the conference boutique, engineer Stephanie Avion of Snohomish
flounced around in a wedding gown — jeweled and beaded, with a
bit of a train — when suddenly, the Air Force vet burst into tears.

Later, she says: "It was as if something that had been tucked away was
finally freed — and embraced. And it was OK."

Copyright (c) 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Ups and Downs of Being Trans

Catching Up

It has been a busy month or so and on review there's been a lot of good locally, but a lot of downs elsewhere. I have been honored to help facilitate the transition of a local woman at her place of employment, an educational institution. So many made my path easier for my transition - and one in particular had direct impact on my future, Lori Buckwalter, who nearly singlehandedly got protective laws enacted in Portland, Oregon, my hometown. Knowing I could not be fired was crucial to my building the strength to proceed. In the past week or so, I have offered trainings to her employer's Human Resources department (nearly all of the staff, not just top brass), the bulk of the managers and supervisors in her department and also to her directly affected co-workers. Being so directly involved has been a most rewarding experience. I wish her all the best in her new life.

I hope now to translate this experience into a consultancy locally to aid employers and/or transitioning employees in this process as it is now the law in Kansas City. There are many wonderful people already engaged in this work and many resources available via the internet. My plan is to be readily available to help shepherd the understanding and policies that are required for appropriate and thorough development.

But life for transgenders seems to be unraveling at the national level. Joe Solmonese, the executive director of the Human Righ*s Campaign (remember, there is no T in HRC!) went to Atlanta - the scene of his famous speech at Southern Comfort just days before the "betrayal" on ENDA - to talk to the transgender leaders there. Rather than apologize for bailing on the trans community last fall, he "apologized" that he "misspoke" to those people at Southern Comfort, which is the largest transgender gathering in the United States. His comments were on September 14th...the first public indications of tossing transpeople out of ENDA came around nine days later. Here is what he said:

I ask you...what part of
"...always being clear that we do not support, and in fact oppose any legislation, that is not absolutely inclusive and we have sent that message loud and clear to the Hill"...did he get wrong? The apology isn't that he misspoke, the apology that matters is that HRC strategically messed up, underestimated the damage that would (and did) ensue and will now stand firm for inclusion. But he continues to say that HRC will back a non-T ENDA if and when it finally gets introduced into the Senate. Sen. *ed Kennedy is to lead the effort in that chamber. Historically he hasn't been any more supportive than Barney Frank in the House.

And speaking of Rep. Frank, he has recently been making the media rounds most staunchly defending his "strategy", even suggesting that the majority of gays and lesbians support this. Well, United ENDA comprised over 300 LGB and T organizations at national, state and local levels. And the poll that is referenced for this supposed "support" was conducted by surveying HRC's data base and paid for by HRC using an HRC-friendly pollster at Hunter College. Not, to my way of thinking, something that comes anywhere close to passing the smell test. What hurt most was to see Rep. Frank gloating (ok..that's my adjective) about his political acumen in a publication back in my hometown of Portland in support of a local candidate there. Stay in Massachusetts please.

Lastly, but most importantly, came news that Dr. Kenneth Zucker has been appointed the chair of the study group that will work on Gender Identity for the planned revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual due in 2010 or so. Joining Dr. Zucker is Ray Blanchard an early proponent of "autogynophilia", a concept that has no traction with reputable therapists or the American Psychiatric Association (and now he's involved in writing the "standards"?) and both are viewed with extreme dislike by the trans community - myself included. Dr. Zucker has stated that our gender identities are "malleable". He claims there is a parallel case to David Reimer, who has a young child had a botched circumcision and whose parents, under the aegis of John Money, opted to have a vagina created and then to raise David as a girl named Brenda. David's tragic story was the subject of the book "As Nature Made Him" by John Colapinto. It's a very interesting, but sad read. David took his own life in 2003.

Now, Dr. Zucker says there is another botched circumcision case like David/Brenda, who is doing "just fine" as a woman in life. Of course, this is what John Money kept saying in his updates of the "John/Joan" case. And, of course, as the apparent therapist in this "new" case, he can't make public who this person is. Does she even exist? Sorry...I'm not going to take his word for it. His comments are available on YouTube, but "embedding" the link as like the one above has been "disabled by request". Hmmmmmmmmmmm......

Fortunately, now that the word is about about the Zucker and Blanchard appointments, the firestorm is fully engaged. The trans community from around the world - I just read a story from Australia - is banding together to protest these appointments. If you care about who we are, I ask you please sign this petition:

It is not overstating the case that our very future depends on this. Zucker believes we can be persuaded to change our minds ("Malleable" is his word). Caring, appropriate transitions will cease. The standard will become "reparative" therapy, the type already decried by the APA as performed by some religious based groups like Exodus International on those "afflicted with same-sex attraction disorder". Ours is such a small community - we could mass all our voices and it still might not make much of a dent. We need allies. We need you. Now.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

An Open Letter to Christians

Do You Understand?

To those in the Christian faith who do not accept gays, lesbians, bisexuals or transgenders:

Do you consider yourself different than Fred Phelps and the extreme condemnation provided by his family at Westboro Baptist Church - the people who now sprout up to post their anti-gay tirade at the funerals of our military service people who have lost their lives in the cause of duty? Do you understand that I don't find you different?

Phelps is incredibly hurtful and blunt with his rhetoric, no one questions that, but just because you think you are different because your rhetoric is softer (my favorite..."hate the sin, love the sinner") doesn't mean I make that distinction. To me, I hear the same anger, the same passion, the same motivation in the antics of Phelps and the message you provide. Do you understand that in that same anger, passion and motivation, I am fearful? Fearful of spiritual and emotional violence, yes. But also literally fearful of physical harm. Yes, for me and many others the Cross is a symbol from which I must initially feel I need to withdraw - for my safety.

Do you understand that in the voices of those who do harm us - gay bashing, trans murders and the like - that I hear the same anger, emotion and motivation in them that I hear in yours. This is why I must first protect myself. This isn't about your beliefs...believe as you must...but this is the manner in which you express those beliefs. Do you have the same anger, passion and motivation about poverty? Hunger? Genocide?

Do you understand that the suicide rate among LGBT youth is many times higher than that for other teens and is completely unacceptable? They, too, hear your incessant thumping and condemnation. They do not - and can not - make the distinction between Phelps and you. And why should they? Do you understand your message, your "Christian" message is killing people, not saving them. Is that not what Jesus taught...saving, not extinguishing?

These deaths are real. And yes, I hold you responsible - along with Phelps - for helping nurture a culture which works to demonize and debase the lives of those who are different. A sin? If you think so, then so be it. But I see a much more sinister sin committed by those who foster a society that is willing to lose the lives of people simply because of a "sin".

Do you understand? Do you even care?