Category Archives: Testamonial

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?”

Helping_Hand

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.

References

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

A Personal and a Website Update

Ashley_April_1970_03_03_post

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.

Personal Update – Liposuction

Hoover_Vacuum_Cleaners_-_Diaper_Removal_Mar_27_1950_Life

Some have noticed that I’ve not updated the site for a week. The reason is that this week I underwent liposuction surgery, and have spent a lot of time catching up work and recuperating from the pain. I expect to start making updates from the tremendous amount of backlog I have this week. I have received many original historical photographs and documents via the post over the last few weeks, and am way behind in sharing them.

The sole purpose of the liposuction I underwent was to shape my waist area into much more of a feminine hourglass shape, so one could consider this to be part of my gender transition. I was not excessively chunky there – I weighed about 136 at the time of surgery, and am 5’5″ tall. However, I had a small band of tough fat right at my waist, much of which were lipoliths (literally: fat stones) from insulin injections in my waist area when I was younger. These could not be dieted nor exercised away. As such, it’s the first of four procedures I have outlined in my path to completion.

I’ve actually experienced some “blowback” in the community about even describing liposuction as surgery, solely from folks who have undergone SRS but have never undergone liposuction. To them, it’s not “real enough” and doesn’t qualify in their artificial gender transition “pecking order” which they’ve established. I also received a significant amount of criticism from people who advised me I didn’t need it, I was wasting my money, it was too risky, etc. Some of the same people whom I supported wholeheartedly as they underwent their SRS, hysterectomies, breast augmentation, and breast reductions, did not support my personal cosmetic surgery decision. Several acquaintances have offered not one word of support nor even attempted to contact me to see how I am doing since the day of surgery, something which, excuse my proverbial French, I find to be really shitty – especially when I was there for them when they underwent their surgeries.

Setting aside all that psychodrama, let me just convey some facts about abdominal liposuction. Please note that my experience may not reflect yours, or anyone else’s experience, and is merely a sample size of one for you to consider.

In my opinion, liposuction is not nearly as simple as they advertise it on television. Just because they don’t make huge incisions and don’t put you under general anesthetic doesn’t mean your body doesn’t take a lot of punishment. In fact, I wish I had been under general anesthetic, because it HURT LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE during the start of the procedure. Thankfully after about 15 minutes it stopped hurting, mostly, because I either passed out or succumbed to the massive amount of lidocaine they inject into you. Given that I have large memory gaps, I’m assuming the latter.

They start by putting you on the table, fully awake, and injecting lidocaine into the incision areas. This is a minor pain. Within about 2 minutes they made 5 small incisions with a scalpel, about 3-4 mm in length and perhaps that deep as well. Then the rigid cannula is unceremoniously forced through the incisions, and shoved under your skin to start to “pop” it free from the layers underneath. It’s horrifying to watch your skin move and stretch up from you, like a toned-down version of the chest-exploding scene from Alien.

There is a visceral sound and feeling when they tear through what the surgeon called “gristle,” that sounds like popping bubble wrap under your skin – painful bubble wrap. Then comes the inflation, where the tumescent solution is injected under your skin, and you swell until you appear 4 months pregnant. Shortly afterwards, the suction and motion begins, and you can see what looks like an inordinate amount of dark, bloody tissue being removed by the cannula through its clear hose. About at this point there is a large “SCENE MISSING” sign, and although I have brief flashes of events happening, for most of that first day I remember less than a few seconds of time.

Afterwards they stick what are essentially maxi pads and Poise pads over your incisions to soak up the copious amounts of fluid which will drain from you, wrap you in another absorbent bandage, then put you into an industrial-strength Spanx-type bodysuit, THEN wrap you with a tight binder similar to that used by transgender men to compress their chests. This is intended to make your now loose skin adhere to your body, and to help reduce swelling.

This is where the true pain starts, and the first 2 days afterwards, if you get a complete 360-degree waist reduction, it is difficult to impossible to work, even at a sitting job. By 3-4 days afterwards, light activity is possible. I’m in day 6 now, and doing reasonably well, except for great pain from my ribs to my waist, and a lot of swelling.

The depressing thing is that you will have to wear the tight binder for a full week, and it hurts. The bodysuit stays on for a couple of weeks, then you are fitted for a much tighter bodysuit. While this may help slim your figure itself, it’s intended to really squeeze the last of the swelling out of you. In 1-3 months, maybe 6 (!), you can see your full results. It’s not quick, and it’s not easy. Don’t let the slick advertisements fool you. It’s serious stuff and you will hurt.

Knowing what I now know, I would be reluctant to do it again. I think the pain was very under-appreciated at first, and I was not prepared for it. It was made worse by the fact that I cannot take codeine, morphine, or other strong medication, I avoid acetaminophen because of its liver effects, and they don’t allow you to take aspirin or ibuprofen for a week. I begged for some relief, and they let me start taking ibuprofen after 5 days. But for the first 5 days, I had almost no pain killers at all.

All in all they only removed about 1-2 pounds of actual fat from me. When you take into account fat cells which are damaged or dislodged during the process and which will be metabolized soon, I likely only lost 2 pounds out of 136. Liposuction, as they tell you, is NOT a weight-loss method; it’s a shaping method.

If you are thinking of doing it yourself…think hard. Take it seriously, and don’t let the “pecking order” make you dismiss how disruptive and how painful it can be.

Respecting Non-binary Gender Persons

Rainbow_Maze
When you are immersed so completely in the life of a transgender activist, historian, and scientist, it’s easy to sometimes be filled with hubris and think “I don’t need to learn about this – I know everything about it already.” While that statement may be true for some people in some situations, it can also lead to arrogance and ignorance in the end.

I received an education this week, from the panelists at the UMKC Trans+Allies meeting in the UMKC Student Union. The topic of the meeting was non-binary transgender persons, who are sometimes be known as genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, pangender, demi-gender, and several other descriptors. The panel consisted of 6 individuals who are living a non-binary transgender life, and over the course of the meeting they told us their stories. Topics included how each person developed their current sense of gender, how their gender continues to develop in some cases, and how it has impacted their jobs, academic careers, families, and friends.

But most importantly, they told us how they felt, right down to earth in a language we could all understand.

Genderqueerflag_small
The genderqueer flag, which is also used by non-binary persons (there is a subtle yet important difference between the two). Lavender, a mixture of blue and pink, representing androgynes and androgyny, and the “queer” in genderqueer. White representing agender identity. Dark chartreuse green, representing third gender identity.

Not having any non-binary transgender persons as close friends, and also being a very strongly binary-gender transsexual woman, I came to the meeting with a somewhat biased attitude. By halfway through the meeting, however, I had that familiar feeling of epiphany. It suddenly dawned on me that I was both lacking in my knowledge, and incorrect in my judgment, of non-binary lives.

Most importantly, I came to the meeting believing that for most non-binary transgender persons their gender was not as important to them as it was for myself. I believe that I based this bias upon the thought that if one’s gender identity can change often, then it must not be that difficult to live on one side, the other, both, or to be non-gendered.

I could not have been more incorrect.

To my gender-binary transgender readers – you know just how awful it is to have a body and clothes and presentation which do not match your brain gender, yes? And for those who have transitioned fully and integrated, you can think back and remember how hard it was to nail down your gender alignment, yes?

adrejprejic
Andreja Pejić, born Andrej Pejić. A transgender woman, who until 2014 billed herself as living “in between genders.”

Now, imagine feeling strongly about your brain gender, but in different or alternating ways on a regular basis. How that would confuse you, create friction in your interpersonal relations, and open you up to being misgendered even by your supporters on a daily basis. Or even feeling like an alien in a way, a third-gender or non-gendered person in amongst women and men. Note as well that it’s difficult enough explaining what “transgender” means to everyday folks – consider how difficult it is to explain the concepts of gender fluidity, third gender, or a lack of gender. While your friends, co-workers, and others in your life may adjust to a gender transition over time, think about how they would react if your gender identity and presentation also changed from time to time.

Non-gender-binary transgender persons are therefore exposed to more potential microaggresions and abuse than binary transgender persons may be. Indeed – a study contained within the National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed that non-binary transgender persons were much more likely to be unemployed (76% vs. 56%), suffer physical assaults (32% vs. 25%), experience police brutality and harassment (31% vs. 21%), and opt out of medical treatment due to discrimination (36% vs. 27%) compared to binary-gender transgender persons. In addition, this same study found that non-binary transgender persons were much more likely to be people of color (30% vs. 23%) and younger (under 45) than binary transgender people (89% vs. 68%).

Despite more than 70 years in the popular scientific and cultural view, there is no good estimate of the true number of transgender persons in the United States, or any country. Even less certain is how many transgender persons identify as non-binary gender. According to the International Handbook on the Demography of Sexuality, one reason may be that many non-binary transgender persons do not seek counseling, nor medical transition assistance. Anecdotally, psychologists and psychiatrists note overwhelmingly that both the number and proportion of non-binary gender transgender patients has been steadily increasing.

One thing I do know, however, is that from now on I will work harder to be inclusive of non-binary transgender persons in all that I do.

March 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

KKFIPlease join us on Saturday, March on “Trans Talk,” 90.1 FM, KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio at 1:00 pm central. You can also tune into kkfi.org to listen in via live streaming audio from anywhere with an internet connection.

On this program Luke Harness and myself will take the reins and interview our guests about some great topics. Luke will kick off the program with some LGBT news for the week, and then he is going to interview a local trans man named D. about “The Union,” a local resource for the trans male community. Then I shall interview local attorney Madeline Johnson about the rash of offensive “bathroom bills” that are popping up across the nation, including right here in Missouri. I will finish up with the Community Calendar update.

Please tune in if you can, as we hope this shall be a great show!

Introducing the Transgender Newsbank

Martha_Gellhorn

The Transgender Newsbank is a collection of more than 400 newspaper and magazine articles from 1911-1994, organized by year and date. I have spent 3 months finding and formatting these articles for easy viewing, in addition to typing write-ups about them and linking to other topical pages. The Transgender Newsbank is the largest effort of its kind on the Internet that I can find which is freely available, and like all Transas City features is uncluttered by advertisements.

While a Transgender Newsbank may be unexciting to some, it will form the basis of an online historical library to help researchers, scholars, and anyone who is simply interested in the history of our people.

The Transgender Newsbank

Moroccan Transgender Dancer Noor Talbi Tries to Raise Awareness

At 6 feet in height, an ex-gold-medal hurdler undergoes gender transition to become a dancer, model, and transgender activist. And although Morocco (namely Casablanca) has a long historical connection with transgender surgery, and even though transgender persons are more permissible than homosexual persons under Islam, she still has an uphill battle for recognition.

The Rocky Mount Telegram.

International Update: An Indian Transgender Newsreader and an African Transgender Poster Girl

I have two international updates for you all, dear readers, to remind us of the global struggle for our rights, and of the global narrative of our loosely interwoven stories.

The first news article which I’m sharing is the story of Padmini Prakashi, India’s first transgender television presenter. Happily married with an adopted son and a good job, Padmini is now campaigning for free sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) for all transgender Indians. To quote her from the article:

‘We’re born into the wrong body, it’s not our fault,’ she said. ‘I know so many transgenders who are struggling to pay for surgery. Their lives are frozen in time because of the costs involved. This is not our fault; free surgery should be available for all. It should be our right, along with counselling[sic] and guidance classes and education on sexual diseases. We’re not given any help, no one is trying to assist our community.’

My second article tells the story of Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who recently fled to Africa to avoid a 14-year sentence in her home country of Malawi over becoming engaged to a man.

Tiwonge’s story is a different one, including a belief that her earlier existence as a man was due to a witch’s curse, and when a tribal healer cured her of the curse, she felt she had to start living as a woman. Her trial (where she was forced to attend despite being sick with malaria) was ended when the President, under intense internationally pressure, decided to forgive her “crime.” Unfortunately her boyfriend soon left her for a prostitute, and she now lives on the verge of complete poverty in South Africa, having fled intense discrimination from her village in Malawi.

Two women on different continents, both transgender, and both fighting for transgender rights – in the case of Padmini for her community, and in the case of Tiwonge for herself.

Transgender Man’s Transition is Celebrated by His Parents in a Classy Manner

This article shows a very inspiring and classy way in which the parents of 19-year-old Kai Bogert announced their support for his transition. They took out an advertisement in the Brisbane Courier “retracting” their earlier birth announcement of their daughter.

The photo says it all folks. This is certainly a show of support by Kai’s parents which he shall never forget.

Teen gets sex change, parents retract newspaper birth announcement in heart-warming fashion – Australasia – World – The Independent.

For Transgender Lawyer, Change Has Been Good

Transgender professionals who are out and proud are uncommon. The higher demands of the corporate environment are bad enough, but when you are someone who directly sinks or swims based upon the reaction of your clients, the situation becomes even more dicey. And for the case of attorneys who have their own practice, sinking is more common than swimming.

My best friend in the world, Madeline Johnson, is an attorney who is an out and proud transgender woman, and she has had to fight years to build a successful practice. This article tells of another transgender attorney, Katie Sprinkle of Dallas County, Texas, and how she fought to make her way in the business world. And how she, like my friend Madeline, continues to fight on behalf of her clients every day.

For transgender lawyer with own practice, change has been good | Dallas Morning News.

Exclusive – Photographs of Transgender Women from Sydney in the 1970’s

Mel_Small

A couple of years ago I stumbled across a very interesting book which I managed to purchase for a steal, not realizing how rare it would become. The book is “As a Woman” by Barry Kay, and it is a photographic essay book of transgender women of Sydney, Australia, who were photographed from 1974-1975. Kay, a stage designer who was a fair hand at photography, had many encounters with the Sydney transgender community in the early 1970’s, and he collected photographs which he took of both crossdressers and transsexuals in their private spaces, at home, with friends, at work, and about the town.

The book is made up of 80 photographs of more than 60 different women, all of them in black and white save for a sepia print which makes up the cover photograph. The photographs are often shot with a soft filter or soft focus, which either helps soften the images of the women, or else serves to create an air of gentle unreality to the photographs.

I selected 16 photographs from the book to highlight here on Transas City. Each photograph is scaled for easy display online, but if you right-click and save the file you will see the high-resolution scan.

Barry Kay – Transgender Women of 1970’s Sydney in “As a Woman”

TRANSforming Normal – Book Hopes to Show Different Side of Transgender Community

Faith
For 58 years, author Faith Eileen Bryan lived what any reasonable person would call a “normal” life – married, with a family and a career. Faith also was not Faith; she was “John,” the name given to her at birth by parents who never knew their son was really their daughter.

“For me, “normal” was defined in the standard gender binary terms,” says Bryan, author of an upcoming new book, TRANSforming Normal: Ten Stories That Will Change How You See Transgender People. “You were either a boy or a girl.”

Bryan, 61, who came out as transgender in 2012, says society is redefining what is considered normal and acceptable in terms of the growing LGBT presence, and part of that transformation must include how society perceives transgender people.

“I believe there is a general perception that transgender individuals are somehow flawed, not ‘normal’ or in some other way do not make a positive contribution to the social construct,” Bryan says. “This work hopes to portray our community in its most human terms.

“We have careers and families, dreams and hopes like anyone, yet we do this in the face of extraordinary amounts of misinformation, blind hate and ignorance. This is what TRANSforming Normal is about … showing that transgender people are just like anyone.”

The book, projected for Summer 2015 publication, tells the stories of 10 remarkable people who work in a variety of careers: an air traffic controller, a baggage handler, an advertising sales person, a movie director/HIV counselor, a writer, an attorney, a chemical engineer, a beauty pageant director/politician, and a performance artist.

Oh, and they all just happen to be transgender, and all are actively working to advance equal rights for their LGBT sisters and brothers.

“These are vibrant and passionate people who care about others,” says the author. “People need to know that we’re not all drag performers or sex workers. Most of us have jobs, families, mortgages or rent payments, and dreams of something better. In other words, we’re normal human beings.”

Bryan, a former newspaper journalist and editor with 30 years’ experience who now teaches business and management for an online university, says this topic is not widely covered in previous works.

“A substantial body of scholarship exists on this topic that is based in scientific and medical research, and political discourse,” she says, noting there is a growing discussion of the increasing social impact of the transgender community.

“This book seeks to shine a positive light on that aspect of the transgender reality and to help fill the gap in understanding that exists between the societal mainstream and our community,” says the author. “My hope is that my book with help foster understanding where little exists.”

To donate to this project, go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/790423631/transforming-normal or http://www.gofundme.com/es9mgs

To learn more about the author and to read her blog, go to http://www.faitheileenbryan.com

Trans[ition] in Iran

IranTrans

The World Policy Institute has published a very informative and interesting article on the lives of transgender people in Iran. Why should you care about this? For one reason Iran is one of the very few Muslim countries where being transgender is not in itself a crime – with a qualifier, of course, that you are expected to transition if you ever want to have sexual or marital relations of any kind.

In fact, this places Iran in the odd position of performing more gender transition surgeries than any other country except Thailand (2012). It was the Ayatollah Khomeini of all people who paved the way for easily available SRS in Iran, as a result of a 1985 reissuing of his fatwa declaring support for transgender persons and transsexual surgery.

The problem in Iran is threefold, however. The first is that considerable gatekeeping exists for transition and SRS, although the cost is covered by the government. Second, many homosexuals feel pressured into, and sometimes fake being transgender to be allowed to be with their loves and to marry. Finally, just because the government recognizes that transgender people have the right to exist and to surgery doesn’t mean Iranian society accepts them. In fact, discrimination within Iranian society is harsh and sometimes deadly.

I invite you to read and learn.

Trans[ition] in Iran | World Policy Institute.

San Francisco PD Welcomes First Transgender Officer

It may seem very ironic that San Francisco, one of the cradles of transgender rights, and one of the very first places where the police actively sought to work with the transgender population (via officer Elliot Blackstone) for social justice, has taken this long to see its first transgender police officer sworn in.

Officer Mikayla Connell is featured in a video at the link below, where she says that being the first means:

“It means you can’t screw up, because you can’t ruin it for everyone coming behind you.”

“I know people, especially in the trans community, are going to be watching me,” she adds. “I can’t let them down.”

Connell first applied to be a police officer 23 years ago, notes KTVU. “But I was a little immature back then,” she explains. She chose to leave the academy and enter the military, then study law.

Good luck, officer Connell!

WATCH: San Francisco Police Dept. Welcomes First Transgender Officer | Advocate.com.