Monthly Archives: June 2015

June 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI


Following a historic day where the United States Supreme Court affirmed a right to same-sex marriage, the Tenth Voice will focus on the decision on our monthly Trans Talk program. Today at 1:00 pm Central time, we will interview Micah Kubic, the executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, as well as Jeffrey Mittman, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. We’re going to discuss the history that brought us to yesterday’s decision, what’s next for existing marriage cases and hold-out administrations that may continue looking for ways to circumvent the court’s ruling. And most importantly, where the LGBT rights movement goes from here.

This will also be Sandra Meade’s last show as a regular hostess of Trans Talk. Sandra has been a foundation of Trans Talk here at KKFI, and she has spent a lot of time training me and giving encouragement to me over the last 5 months to step in for her as a regular hostess of the program. I am very much indebted to her for giving me the opportunity to serve the Kansas City community in this way. After the main event Sandra, Luke Harness, and myself will reminisce a bit about some of her favorite past shows, and talk a bit about the future.

As always, we will have a breakdown of the LGBT news for the week and the community calendar update. Be sure to tune in at 1:00pm central, 90.1 FM, or, Kansas City Community Radio!


Trans*forming the Dialogue – Questioning the Transgender Experience

Trans_forming the Dialogue Logo

Hello everyone, Una Nowling here. I am participating in Trans*forming the Dialogue, Simmons College’s Online MSW Program’s campaign to promote an educational conversation about the transgender community. By participating in this campaign, I will be offering my perspective on what TO ask and what NOT to ask trans*people.

As an activist and “out and loudly proud” transgender woman who works in several professional fields, I am often asked to give lectures on the transgender experience as a whole, as well as specific transgender subtopics. I typically speak at public fora, Pride events, churches, schools, universities, and civic centers. And as part of my opening myself up to the world, I am very frank about my history – I talk about the sexual assault and abuse I suffered, for example, not because I especially enjoy doing such, but because almost certainly there’s someone in my audience who has suffered the same, and been living in silence for years. I invite and will answer almost any question which is asked of me, because my goal is to educate. I do not speak in detail about my genitals and surgeries, and that is my only boundary.

But what about the typical transgender person whom one may meet? Many well-meaning cisgender persons are naturally very curious about us, and this puts transgender persons on the spot, even when they are among friends. They not only are not activists who want to be “out and loudly proud,” they simply want to live, and love, and work, and play, and worship, and be the protagonist of their own life of positivity. Their own personal “American dream,” if you will.

Here are some of my tips for the cisgender folks out there who want to learn more about our people.

First, before you ask any question, ask yourself “is this the sort of question I would ask my grandmother?” Would you, for instance, ask your grandmother if she had had “her penis chopped off?” Or “are you really, really sure that you’re female, or could you just be having a bad month?” Or even “how do you know you’re not a lesbian, grandma? Maybe you should give it a try?” Of course you wouldn’t.

What on earth did you just ask me?

First and foremost, don’t ask us questions which call into question our very existence. Asking us “are we really sure we’re transgender?” essentially overlooks the years of gender dysphoria, body dysmorphia, internal struggles, and heart-rending agony which we have gone through to come to accepting that we are transgender. Many of us would have done anything, climbed any proverbial mountain, to have just had an ordinary, average gender identity. This is one reason why, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 41% of transgender persons have attempted suicide. Outside of a few transgender celebrities or very lucky persons, most transgender persons are going to face job discrimination, family rejection, sexual assault, bullying, physical violence, and even murder – on top of having to deal with gender dysphoria. If that sounds like fun, please stand on your head.

Don’t ask about our genitals. I confess that I have neither the time, nor the professional qualifications, to understand why laypeople will walk right up to a transgender person and ask them questions about genitals that they wouldn’t even discuss with their physician. Would you ask a friend at church if her breasts were real or not? Many of us are asked that on a daily basis.

Hot dogsNo…just, no.

Don’t ask us questions about our personal romantic and sexual relationships and preference. For one thing, many of us are still working it out, and it’s a highly painful subject. For another, it’s just none of your business, unless you happen to be making a romantic pass at one of us (in which case, go you!). A large number of us will lose our spouse or long-term partner as a result of transition. Within my own transgender community, the rate of divorce as a result of one partner transitioning is over 90%.

It’s generally considered gauche to ask about our specific medications, surgical techniques and procedures, and the cost of transition. Can you imagine asking a co-worker in the middle of a conference call, “hey Bob, generally speaking how do you feel about digital rectal prostate exams versus PSA screenings?” In addition, please note that for many of us a trip to the physician is even less fun than it would be for anyone else, as nearly 1 in 5 transgender persons report having been refused medical care. Last week I myself was a victim of this, having had two physicians refuse to treat me, and having been subjected to a transphobic tirade by a nurse.

NurseElle Driver from “Kill Bill” would actually have been a better nurse than the one who repeatedly and deliberately misgendered me.

There are some “borderline” questions you can ask, if your relationship with the transgender person in question is positive and long-standing. You may be able to ask “how has your family taken the news?” or “are you going to be alright at work?” Just keep in mind that a very large percentage of us will or currently face ostracism or even violence by family members – in fact, 57% of us will experience significant family rejection as a result of transition. In addition to that, 90% of us have or will face harassment or discrimination on the job, and we suffer from double the rate of unemployment as the general population as a result of “coming out.” A large number of us have lost our church community as well, so again, be sensitive of that when asking about topics of personal faith.

Many ask us about Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Chaz Bono, and other transgender persons who are in the media. Just as my spouse is English and has in fact never met Queen Elizabeth, almost none of us will have any “inside information” on public figures. Nor do most of us really want to discuss in detail The Crying Game or Dallas Buyers Club. I will however feel free to bore you with discussions of third-wave feminism and Mad Max: Fury Road.

Not quite a positive media portrayal of a transgender person, just in case you were wondering.

Questions which show innocent curiosity and compassion are normally going to be welcome. I’m sometimes asked about the community, from the standpoint of how large and diverse we are. I’m sometimes asked to tell the story of my personal journey, with no qualifications placed on my telling, and many of us will talk a little about our history to those who listen. Other good questions help to define how people should interact with us. Ask us “what name do you prefer I call you from now on?” or “how should I refer to your gender from now on?” Please note that for those of us who are still not fully “out,” some patience may be needed on your part to remember the proper identifiers to use depending upon the context.

Most of us will be grateful to receive questions such as “how are you coping with this? Are you receiving support? Are you doing alright? Would you like to go shopping with me? Would you like to meet my family?”

But above all, the single best question which I believe we transgender persons can be asked is simply:

“How may I help?”


Information about Simmons College

Simmons College is the third US women’s college to accept students who identify as transgender. Their admissions policy may be found here, and the official announcement of their change in policy may be found here.


Grant, Jaime M., et al. Injustice at every turn: A report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. National Center for Transgender Equality, 2011.

New York Times Runs Factual Article About Transgender Issues

Sylvia RiveraIt’s not just about Caitlyn Jenner.

The article and accompanying 11 minute video is an overview of the present day and a very brief history of transgender people since the Stonewall Era. What struck me most about it was the lack of hysteria and the (mostly) non-judgmental approach. Transgender women interviewed are not celebrities nor are they sexpot hyper-feminine stereotypes, nor are they “men in drag”.  They are much more ordinary, and in my opinion that’s what the public needs to see, that transgender people are human beings trying to live normal, ordinary lives.

The article and video covered some of the appalling violence transgender people experience, stories those of us reading this blog have heard before, but that get left out of the typical news story featuring people like Caitlyn Jenner or Chaz Bono. It mentions how transgender people were and continue to be the marginalized sub-group of the larger group of LGBT. The people in this article do not have happy Hollywood or Hallmark movie of the week endings that the mass media seems to be in love with, no, these are real lives with real suffering along with whatever good also occurs.

In other words, ordinary people trying to survive.

Link to article

The New Girl in School: Transgender Surgery at 18

It was not an easy transition for Katherine Boone, but the question is no longer whether gender reassignment is an option, but instead how soon it should start.

The New York Times is featuring the story of Katherine Boone, a transgender woman who underwent sex reassignment surgery (SRS) at age 18. The article is not entirely positive, and casts SRS for “teenagers” as something new and scary. For the record, at age 18 Katherine is a full legal adult, able to run her own affairs, enlist and die in military service, and be treated as an adult by default by the legal system of this country. So the “teenager” moniker is somewhat deceptive here. In fact, age 18 is not even the youngest at which SRS is performed. In Europe, for example, SRS has been performed at age 16 (such as the case of an anonymous transgender girl in Spain in 2009) or authorized at age 16 (such as English transgender girl Jackie Green who underwent both facial feminization surgery and SRS on her 16th birthday in Thailand).

Katherine Boone

Despite throwing out somewhat discouraging (and not entirely accurate) statements like this:

Given that there are no proven biological markers for what is known as gender dysphoria, however, there is no consensus in the medical community on the central question: whether teenagers, habitually trying on new identities and not known for foresight, should be granted an irreversible physical fix for what is still considered a psychological condition.

The article clearly presents Katherine as a young lady who was clearly suffering deeply from her gender dysphoria, and who very much needed this surgery.

It was the cutting that convinced them that if she could not live as a girl, Kat would kill herself. She still has two angry scars on her left forearm. “It became clear to me that this wasn’t a passing phase or some choice or reaction,” Mr. Boone said. “This was truly the basis of what she was.”

The article further covers the problems of the expense of puberty blockers, which are not covered under pretty much any insurance on this planet, and which can run thousands of dollars per year (unlike estradiol and spironolactone, which are much cheaper). And it does spend some time speaking on how debilitating the surgery was for Ms. Boone, which many of us have either personally experienced, or witnessed via our friends.

There is a lot of information in this testimonial article; it’s worth a look.

Source: The New Girl in School: Transgender Surgery at 18 –

I’m Mad as Hell – Transgender Teacher Dies by Suicide After Being Bullied for 10 Years

This story has fired up my blood today, and I’m mad as hell. Not to repeat the Advocate overly much, but the basics are that Karis Ann Ross, age 37 a lead Special Education teacher at a Milwaukee German Immersion school, took her own life over Thanksgiving, 2014.

In her suicide note she apparently didn’t mince words, saying she took her own life due to bullying from specific, named co-workers. The situation was reportedly brought to the school’s principal, and with no effective response. After her daughter’s death, Karis’ mother, Madeline Dietrich, wrote an open letter to the Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. In this letter, the most telling part of the story was the following:

There were four professionals working in Ms. Ross’ classroom, a lead teacher and three teacher’s aids. Each were human beings, and each were women. But three were cisgender, while only one was transgender. Three were black, while only one was white. Three were paraprofessionals charged with supporting the lead teacher’s direction, while only one held a master’s degree and professional teaching certificate. The differences in race, education status and gender identity fostered an environment where Ms. Ross was regularly subjected to intimidation and resistance by the majority group.

 Ms. Ross repeatedly informed the building principal, Dr. Albert J. Brugger. It had gone on for years, but in the weeks leading to the moment Ms. Ross chose to end her life, numerous emails were exchanged between Ms. Ross, school officials and the medical community, all pointing to a crisis which went largely ignored by Dr. Brugger, who rather than mediating or intervening in the conflict, chose to play down the situation and avoided any direct involvement with Ms. Ross and her aids. It is clear by the timing of the suicide, which took place the Saturday afternoon before Ms. Ross knew she must again face the hostility of her support staff and the indifference of her principal the following Monday morning. Each aide was named in Ms. Ross’ suicide letter, along with Dr. Brugger, as the primary cause of her grief. Transgender people are too often rejected by friends, employers, landlords, and family, and are forty percent more likely to attempt suicide than the mean population. Ms. Ross was rejected by the very MPS employees whose job it was to assist her in caring for profoundly disabled children.


What I want to do is say something loud and clear to all the people who know me here in “Transas City.” If you are one of my transgender sisters or brothers and you are being bullied at work, and you need help, you need to contact someone. Right now. One of my best friends is Madeline Johnson, a senior law partner and a woman who has fought for the rights and protection of the transgender community more than most anyone I know. Her contact information is If you are being harassed, abused, or mistreated at work because you are transgender, tell her about it. Maybe she can help.

Or at worst, if you just want someone to talk to about being bullied at work over being transgender, message me on Facebook or mail me (if you don’t have my personal mail reach out to us at and I’ll try to give you some advice on what to do. I don’t promise anything, but maybe I’ll come up with something. Or reach out to your friends, your family, and remember that your job is not worth your life. Do NOT sit there and take the bullying and harassment and think that suicide is your only way out!

If you or someone you know are an LGBT young person (ages 24 and younger) struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals needing support can contact the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.

Source: Wisc. Trans Teacher Dies by Suicide After Being Bullied for 10 Years |

Minor Update to a Charlotte McLeod Resource


As some of you know, I purchase old media (photographs, magazines, prints, and books) relating to transgender history and post them here as full resolution scans, free of watermark, restriction, or charge. Recently it was pointed out to me that on page 2 of Charlotte McLeod’s autobiography, published in Mr. magazine’s 1956 Winter annual, one of the photographs had a piece of loose paper covering it (it was a piece of the magazine which fell off during scanning). And another reader asked if the autobiography could be uploaded in higher resolution.

To that end, I’ve rescanned the article in higher resolution, and fixed the damaged photograph. Those of you who have downloaded a copy to host elsewhere will need to download a new copy this page.

Transgender Student Visibility has Missouri and Kansas colleges Making Accommodations

Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover kick-started a national conversation about what defines gender and what that means. Yet college campuses have had conversations about the issue for years. At public colleges in the Kansas City area, unisex bathrooms and gender-neutral dorms have opened up. Wording in some anti-discrimination policies has been tweaked to protect transgender students.

This is a nice article about the great strides local colleges have made towards accommodating transgender students, especially Kansas City’s own UMKC (disclosure: I am an adjunct professor at said school). The article features Luke Harness, Sandra Meade’s and my co-host on “Trans Talk” on 90.1 KKFI, and Luke as usual has interesting things to say about his efforts to improve the lives of our people.

Source: Transgender student visibility has Missouri and Kansas colleges making accommodations | The Kansas City Star The Kansas City Star

VITAL UPDATE: Quality of Life in Treated Transsexuals


The research never stops here at Transas City, and I’ve recently completed another batch of lengthy literature reviews to update one of our landmark pages, Quality of Life in Treated Transsexuals.

The full details are available at the links herein, but to summarize the update:

  • More than 350 technical papers and journal articles have been reviewed.
  • From 2004-2015 inclusive, 33 studies were found which met the criteria for determining quality of life changes in transsexual women and men as a result of medical transition (blockers, hormones, and/or surgery).
  • Of the 33 studies found which were within our time frame, 26 studies (79%) indicated a conclusively positive impact on quality of life as a result of transition. Another 5 studies (15%) yielded mild or uncertain results, and only 2 studies (6%) found a negative quality of life as a result of medical transition.
  • In short, 98% of the studies reviewed found that at worst no harm was done via medical transition.

I believe that once again, this research which we have conducted shuts down firmly the anti-transgender criticisms that neither hormone therapy nor surgery are necessary medical procedures for transsexuals. Please share the link below, which contains charts, summaries, and full literature citations, to help us publicize this update, and feel free to drop it into debates with “the usual suspects.”

Quality of Life in Treated Transsexuals.

Manufactured Outrage Over the Alleged Wal-Mart “Peeping Tom”

WalmartPeepingTomVery recently many of us have seen the following news report splashed all over FaceBook etc., sometimes in the context of “see! We done told you them thar’ trannies were dangerous!”

From the original article:

A man — who was dressed as a woman — is accused of spying on women as they used the bathroom at a Wal-Mart store in Woodbridge.

Police in Prince William County said the incident occurred May 15 around 10:30 p.m. at the mega store at 1400 Worth Avenue. Authorities were called to investigate a report of a peeping incident.

A 53-year-old woman from Woodbridge told police that while she was using the restroom inside the Wal-Mart, an unknown man stood in front of her stall. The man tried to use a mirror to see into the stall.

When the victim confronted him, he fled the restroom. Police said no physical contact was made by the alleged peeping man.

Gosh, that sounds really serious and of deep, national import – a person who may or may not have been a genetic male was reported by a single person, with no witnesses or evidence, of allegedly trying to use a mirror to see into the toilet stall of a Wal-Mart patron in a store in Virginia. I certainly hope President Obama, Pope Francis, and the United Nations General Assembly are taking this seriously!

Of course I’m being sarcastic, which is a luxury hopefully allowed to me. And I’m quite certain that trolls, flamers, “concerned citizens,” and the usual suspects will attempt to make some proverbial hay out of this – because after all, that’s what they do, yes? I’ve already read several hundred comments and posts by nervous transgender people and their allies, wondering if this is going to “set the cause back” or “lead to massive anti-transgender discrimination.” Given the current hostile anti-transgender media climate, these are not entirely unreasonable fears.

The first thing we need to keep in mind is that incidents like this (assuming that it’s been factually reported by all actors) have been happening continuously in history – pretty much since the first public restrooms were created in ancient civilization. But how often are transgender women involved? Remember, crimes of transgender women against cisgender women of any sort are so vanishingly rare that the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Department of Justice, Interpol, etc. don’t even have a category or classification for crimes at any level committed by transgender women against cisgender women.


In fact, since the year 2000 I’ve only been able to discover 11 incidents in which an actual transgender person was alleged to have or committed a crime of any sort in a women’s public restroom. (note, I’m still researching this and those are not final figures) That’s a rate of 11 alleged or actual cases in 15 years, nationwide in the United States.

So let’s do a little math, what say? If we assume that the average woman visits a public restroom even as little as once a day – unarguably a low value – and we assume a restroom-going population of 100 million women in the United States (again, being conservative here), we end up with a total of greater than half a trillion public restroom visits by American women over 15 years. In short, this means that the annual odds an American woman will have a alleged or actual crime committed upon her in a public restroom by a transgender woman is about 1 in 49.7 billion. Long odds indeed, but how do they compare against everyday risks?

Assuming an 80-year lifetime and using the Injury Facts Chart from the National Safety Council for lifetime death rates:

  • Your annual odds of being killed by a bee or wasp sting are 1 in 4,461,120.
  • Your annual odds of being killed by a dog are 1 in 9,315,840.
  • Your annual odds of being killed by legal execution are 1 in 10,217,360.
  • Your annual odds of being killed by lightning are 1 in 13,197,440.

Put another way, a woman is nearly 5,000 times more likely to be killed by a dog or to be put to death judicially than to experience an alleged or actual crime in a public restroom by an actual transgender woman.


If we want to compare some even more unlikely odds, according to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, 55 adults were killed between the years of 2000-2011 (inclusive) by having their own televisions fall on top of them. At a rate of 4.6 deaths by television per year for the general population – versus 0.73 incidents per year of transgender crime or attempted crime in a women’s restroom, very roughly speaking a woman is more than 6 times as likely to be squashed like a bug under their own television set than they are to experience alleged or actual crime from a transgender woman in a women’s restroom.

These numbers aren’t complete and final, of course. And they also don’t take into account unreported crimes, because it’s pretty doggone difficult to report on crimes which no one reports about. But seriously? Multiply the rate by 100 times, and it’s still minuscule.

Of course, the argument then shifts to being that by “allowing” transgender women the “privilege” to use the restrooms they should be using, we are actually opening the door to cisgender male perverts. Thus, by banning transgender women we can prevent crimes perpetrated by men in women’s public restrooms. This “prophylactic” argument falls on its face, however, when it’s extended outside of this one, specific issue. For example, one could just as easily make the argument that men should be banned from the priesthood of certain religious orders, given the appalling rate of child sexual abuse and rape which has come to light over the last 30 years from pedophiles hiding in the ranks.

But that would be just silly…right?

Link to the Washington Post Article

Archival Photograph: Christine Jorgensen Reads Her Autobiography

Christine Jorgensen’s story was introduced to most of the world via an autobiography which was published in the American Weekly magazine shortly after news broke of her sex reassignment surgery. We have purchased an original archival photograph of Jorgensen reading her own article in the Weekly, which has this caption on the reverse: “Preparing for a new life, in which publication of her color photographs will be the first task, Christine (nee George) Jorgensen reviews story[sic] of her life in American Weekly.” The date on the photograph is March 3, 1953, but there is reason to suspect it’s from later in the month. You can view and download a high-resolution scan of this photograph at this link here.

A Personal and a Website Update


Hello everyone. I know several folks believe that after all the hard work which I’ve done that Transas City is in the doldrums. It has been, but not due to activism fatigue.

Since I had my liposuction surgery in April of this year something has gone horribly wrong with my body. I have been suffering from pain and fatigue, chronically, which is only slowly going away. This last week and a half, as I was working overseas, I thought I would have a lot of spare time to catch up on updates and actually try to post some current and topical posts, most importantly about Caitlyn Jenner. However, it appears I developed pneumonia right as I came to England, and have been so severely impacted that I’ve even been to the hospital here. Let me tell you, it’s really scary to go to a hospital for any reason when you’re alone and 5,000 miles from home.

I could make some promises about what I plan on doing, now that I’m recovering, but instead I’ll just start doing rather than talking. I’m going to start at the oldest part of my backlog and work my way forward, along with some news updates.

The photograph at the lead of this post is a new archival photograph which we’ve purchased, showing famous British transwoman April Ashley receiving a kiss at the opening of her new Chelsea, London restaurant. This occurred shortly after Ashley lost her infamous divorce case, which helped set the stage for a high court ruling that transsexuals in the United Kingdom must be considered their birth gender with respect to marriage – something which was not changed until the Gender Recognition Act of 2004. The full-sized image, as well as other information about Ashley can be found at this link on Transas City.

StoryCorps is Coming to KC



KCUR & GLAMA (The Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid-America) are bringing StoryCorps to KC – they’ll be at GLAMA at UMKC recording interviews on June 10, 2015 – June 13, 2015.  It’s part of the StoryCorp OutLoud project – telling the stories of LGBT lives across America.

From StoryCorps’ website:

StoryCorps’ mission is to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations. … Each conversation is recorded on a CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

They are here to collect stories from people in the LGBT community, so if you are interested, make an appointment here –  Password is “lgbtstory”.