Category Archives: Transition

August 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI

Hello everyone! On Trans Talk this month we’re going to be talking with a return guest in our studio – Dr. Hiten Soni, a psychiatrist who strongly supports the transgender community, about the rise in stress in LGBT people after Trump’s election.

We will have Una’s News Rant, a round up of some of the LGBT news this week, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, August 26th at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phone.

July 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI

Transition_Family
Hello everyone! We have two guests with us today. Rhyan is a new guest to Trans Talk, and he is here to discuss his own transgender journey with us and to talk about his life. Also with us is Julie, the mother of a transgender boy, who was on our program before to discuss their family’s transition along with her son, as well as her battles with the Odessa Missouri school district.

As usual, we will share with you the transgender news and the community calendar update. We do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, July 22 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

Danish Prime-Time Advertisement Celebrates Transgender Acceptance

danish-advert-daughter-1
It’s been a while since I’ve posted about things not concerning KKFI and Trans Talk. It’s not been a good year for us here at Transas City, not at all. But the election…debacle has convinced me that I need to get the energy to rejuvenate Transas City, and get my hundreds of backlogged historical and science items out in the public.

But first I wanted to highlight a current television advertisement from Denmark – inarguably the home of Western transsexual history – showing a father trying to reach out to his transgender daughter at Christmas time. The advertisement is for Danish electronics retailer Elgiganten, and is titled (after translation) “Let the Gifts Talk.” The advertisement shows a transgender teenager or woman spending a tense Christmas with her parents, obviously scared and uncomfortable.
danish-advert-daughter-2
The entire family seems tense as her father grimly presents her with a gift, that as she hesitantly opens turns out to be a hair straightener/curler set. There’s a shy smile from her, and an almost-smile from the still grim father.
danish-advert-father
Some have criticized the advertisement for the father not showing “enough” acceptance, not being as friendly and welcoming to his daughter as he should be. But in my experience, as I’m certain that of innumerable others, acceptance and welcoming are such a gradual process, and every family works on their own timetable. Sometimes it goes in fits and starts – the old “two steps forward, one step backward.” But other times, it is just a very slow, gradual evolution, like ice melting. The latter is what I believe this advertisement is showing.

You can view the advertisement below via YouTube.

August 2016 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

Transition_Family
Hello everyone! We begin this month’s Trans Talk edition of the Tenth Voice speaking with Dr. Courtney Marsh, a Reproductive Specialist at The University Of Kansas Hospital who provides hormone therapy to many of the Kansas City transgender community. Dr Marsh will be answering questions about hormone therapy and other transgender medical issues. For the second half of our program we continue our Transgender Kaleidoscope series, and this time we’re highlighting not just one individual, but an entire family of hope: Libby, a transgender woman who has just finished high school, and her father Michael, mother Louise, and fiancé Eliza – who also happens to be a transgender woman.

As usual, we will share with you the transgender news and the community calendar update. We do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, August 27 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

July 2016 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

kaleidoscope
Hello everyone! We have two special guests this month on Trans Talk. Earlier this year, we started a series called Transgender Kaleidoscope, where we highlight interesting transgender individuals from the local Kansas City Metropolitan community. We skipped that session last month due to having two time-sensitive topics to air, so today, we’re going to have two Kaleidoscope guests. Our first guest will be Grace Cox-Johnson, a transgender woman who has a passion for music, and who acts as music director at Transfinity KC, Kansas City’s own transgender chorus. Our second guest will be Gus, a transgender man who has been an educator, mentor, and voice in the community, and who is here to share his own story with us. While Gus has been through many challenges in his life, but in the end one of his greatest feelings of accomplishment is in finally being just a “normal guy” and living an authentic life.

As usual, we will share with you the transgender news and the community calendar update. We do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, July 23 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

A Kansas City Transgender Event – Free Screening of “The Danish Girl”

Danish_Girl_Flyer

As Caroline Gibbs, founder of the Transgender Institute announced on my Trans Talk program on KKFI last Saturday, Kansas City is honored to be presenting a screening of the Universal Pictures film The Danish Girl. The film is a semi-biographical drama of the groundbreaking journey of Einar Wegener, the husband of artist Gerda Wegener, to become one of the world’s first transgender women – Lili Elbe (I have only posted a very small amount of information about Lile Elbe on my site here).

Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) directs the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of Einar/Lili and Gerda. Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, Les Misérables) and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, Anna Karenina), star as Einar/Lili and Gerda, respectively.

What’s more, thanks to the sponsorship of the Transgender Institute, you can register online to receive free tickets for the screening! There are 200 seats available, and they are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. You can register for the event by clicking the link below, and you need not create an account to use it, just proceed as “Guest.” Click here to get your free tickets, while they last!

Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2015.

Time: 7:00 P.M.

Location: The Glenwood Arts Theatre, 3707 W. 95th St., Overland Park, KS, 66206.

There will be a brief introduction before the film to provide some historical background, and yours truly has been invited to deliver an introduction – so I hope to see many of you there!

December 2nd SOFFA Meeting

hud-proposes-stronger-protections-for-transgender-people-in-emergency-shelters-x750

The Kansas City SOFFA group is having a joint meeting with the UMKC Trans+Allies group.  This month, UMKC is having a round-table discussion with parents of trans children and young adults, and SOFFA members are joining them to participate in the discussion.  While it is a round-table discussion, no one is obligated to speak.  We encourage parents to attend, but you do not need to be a parent, just interested in learning more about this topic.

The meeting is at UMKC Student Union in room 302, 6:00-8:00 pm.  There will be free pizza provided.  Be careful where you park – make sure you clearly display your UMKC parking tags, if you have them, otherwise, metered parking is available in the parking garage to the north of the Student Union. Some street parking is available by the School of Education at 615 E 52nd Street.

UMKCTrans+Allies

History: A new Christine Jorgensen 3-Fer on Transas City

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I recently purchased a large number of original wire photos, books, magazines, and other memorabilia from transgender history, and I will be posting them as I process them. As always, I include a link to the high-resolution scans, because our history is too important to be a “squirrel” and hoard away these things, out of the fear that someone might copy the works. Go ahead and copy and download all you want – if you want to give me a shout-out for credit, cool, but otherwise just keep these images safe so our past, what little of it still remains, shall never be forgotten.

Now to the photos: being a celebrity upon her arrival into the United States, Jorgensen was able to meet many famous and semi-famous personages for the first few years after her transition. The photograph below is from March 22, 1953, and shows her hobnobbing with comedian Milton Berle. Berle at the time was the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater. If you click on the photograph below, you can download a high-resolution scan of this original photograph.

Christine Jorgensen and Milton Berle

This next photograph is a little bit of a mystery. It’s often reported as being from 1958, but the earliest time-stamp on the reverse of the photograph is “20 Jan 1954.” No description tells me the name of the gentleman standing behind her. You can click on the photo below to download a high-resolution scan.

Christine Jorgensen

This final photograph for this update is a wonderful photograph which I’ve never before seen on the web, so naturally I bid on it and bought it. It shows Christine Jorgensen on the beach in a white Chevrolet Impala convertible, having what looks to be a wonderful time. It’s dated August 17, 1960, and the writing on the rear of the photograph says: “Ex-GI Dazzles Male Audiences in Cabaret. CHRISTINE JORGENSEN TO BE A BRIDE. Evidence of success – Christine drives off to the beach.” Click on the photograph below to download a high-resolution version.

Christine Jorgensen

These and many more photographs and other Christine Jorgensen information can be found on the Transas City Christine Jorgensen site.

Family Ties : Trans Spouses

VitalVoice

The Vital Voice reached out to the KC SOFFA group that Fiona Nowling leads to ask if people would share their stories with the magazine.

SOFFA is a support group for Significant Others, Family, Friends and Allies of Trans People.  They can be reached via www.facebook.com/SOFFA.KC & they have a private group on Facebook too.

Fiona and another member shared their story – and then Fiona and Una were asked to have a photo shoot done for the article.

The Vital Voice is an LGBT issues magazine which started in St. Louis, but has extended to cover Kansas City.  August’s issue focused on families, and the article is about how the transition of a trans person affects the family and the people that love them and how the family supports and affects them in turn.  It is available online and physically in lots of places in St. Louis and Kansas City, including LikeMe Lighthouse.  The August issue is still available, or you can read the article at the link below.

Family Ties: Trans Spouses

 

 

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? – A Personal Essay on Transgender Violence and Boy George

Boy_George_4Screen capture from “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.”

Growing up in a small town or the suburbs can be a challenge for transgender persons, simply due to the small size of the community and the lack of transgender-friendly resources. Now imagine if you can that you are a young teenager, learning that you are transgender in a small town, but in the early 1980’s.

That was the life I lived.

Anyone born after 1995 takes it for granted that you can open up any computer or smartphone and get near-instant access to an incredible amount of human knowledge. What’s more, with e-mail, social media, online gaming and other communities, no transgender person need ever think that they are the only person in the world who has this “condition” of believing they are a different gender on the inside than on the outside.

Consider again that LGBT awareness, rights, and respect were virtually nonexistent prior to 1990. This was especially true for the case of transgender persons. Every year or so, one of the transgender pioneers would make the news – Renee Richards and Jan Morris in the 1970’s, for example. But even in the rare case where a transgender person was treated well by the media, their story was a flash in the pan. Typically, we appeared in news stories telling us about how we were “sexual freaks”, “kinky transvestites,” or just simply “mentally ill.”

Better_Off_Dead“In the high school halls, in the shopping malls / Conform or be cast out.” The 1980’s were incredibly brutal if you didn’t fit in.

To be a transgender person at age 14 in the suburbs of the early 1980’s was akin to being on a deserted island. I had learned early on from physical abuse from my father that one did not speak about being transgender. Actually, even the word “transgender” was unknown to the general public at that time, leaving one with no good definition for oneself. The only reference source available to a kid with a bicycle was the Olathe Public Library. I’ll never forget one blazing hot Kansas summer morning, when I rode my bike to the library and searched the card catalog in vain for any book or magazine which talked about people like me. Finally, braver than smart, I asked a grey-haired librarian “Where can I find books about boys who know they’re really a girl inside?”

Card_CatalogOur version of Google, circa 1982.

Her smile vanished, she drew herself up to her full height, and she replied “Young man! We do not carry books on pornography! Give me your library card now!

Of course I beat it out of there, terrified that somehow the librarian knew who I was and would be sending the police to come grab me at home. I spent a couple of worried days wondering what the fallout would be, and I didn’t visit the library for a year or more afterward. But returning to the narrative, the point was that a kid like me basically was left feeling completely alone.

Boy_George_1Boy George, circa 1982. Allow me a single “rrrroooow!”

And then, one day in 1982 while killing time in front of MTV (Yes, MTV did actually play music back then!), I saw a video which absolutely stunned me. It was “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” by an English New Wave band named Culture Club, and the video prominently featured lead singer Boy George. Dressed androgynously and singing in a gentle tenor which could have been male or female, I watched and thought “OK, it must be someone just playing around crossdressing for the video. But I wonder, if they are the same kinda whatever I am that I am?” Then came other videos from that album – “Time (Clock of the Heart)” and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya,” and still there was the seriously gender-crossing clothing, singing, makeup, and manners. Shortly afterwards, the band was interviewed on television, and George kept to the image.

Boy_George_3When I first saw Boy George, I wasn’t even certain what gender he was. It was uplifting.

Mind you, Boy George certainly wasn’t the first musician to cross gender boundaries – David Bowie comes to mind as a ready example at the time. And androgyny was a prevalent feature of musical cultural movements like the New Romantics and New Wave. But Boy George kicked it up a notch.

I was now convinced – “This is someone just like me! And they’re out in public, and singing, and making money, and not only that people are listening to them!” Both “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” and “Time (Clock of the Heart)” made it to #2 on the US charts, and “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” made it to a very respectable #9. Boy George proved to me right then and there that one could transcend gender, be in the public eye, and people could accept you! I felt as though I had found a distant cousin, rather than an idol. Not only that, but in the music video for “Time (Clock of the Heart),” we see other band members toying with gender expression – for example, bassist Mikey Craig is wearing a yellow dress.

Mikey_CraigMikey Craig, wearing a very 80’s yellow dress.

My feelings were complicated by the fact that I really, really had a crush on Boy George. Androgyny attracted me very strongly back then (it still does, to a lesser extent nowadays), and I thought that George was beautiful – especially in the video for “Time (Clock of the Heart).”

I generally did a good job of hiding my transgender identity from my friends, peers, and family. But I couldn’t hide my enthusiasm for Boy George and Culture Club, for the aforementioned reasons, and I didn’t realize at the time how dangerous that could have been. Then one day, while over at a friend’s house with two other friends present, we were hanging out and watching MTV, and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” came on the screen. One friend changed the channel, and I switched it back and said I wanted to watch the video. I started to say how much I liked Boy George and Culture Club, when – to quote Wodehouse – suddenly the atmosphere turned black and scaly. I don’t have an eidetic memory, so the following is from my recollection of the exchange that took place.

Friend 1: “Do I really want to hurt you? Hell yeah, I do!”

Friend 2: “Look at that fucking fag. I hate him and his ugly fucking face. If I saw him out somewhere, I’d run over him.”

Friend 3: “I’d like to set him and his gay dreads on fire. I wish MTV wouldn’t play so many faggy videos.”

Friend 2: “No really, he gets off dressing like a girl. He’s a freak. My brother said if he ever saw that freak in public, he’d bash his face in.”

Friend 1: “I heard if you get buttslammed enough it breaks your balls and you become a girl. Wonder how much buttslamming he had?”

Friend 2: “I’d cut his balls off with a rusty chainsaw. You know he dresses like that to trick guys into fucking him.”

Friend 1: “Doesn’t fool me. Only fags would fuck something like that.”

Friend 3: “I’d rather burn him alive. All that makeup would flare up just like gasoline. Woooooooosh!”

Boy_George_2Not everyone appreciated androgyny in the 1980’s. And by “not everyone,” I mean “almost no one.”

And they carried on, moving into a general condemnation of “fags” and all things “faggoty” in the world. Did I stay silent? No. To my shame, I forced myself to laugh with their jokes, and got up and changed the channel. “Yeah, I thought it was a different video. I don’t want to watch this shit.” I was sick with fear. My friends had seen someone crossing gender boundaries on television, and these teenage boys in Olathe, Kansas, were so enraged by this that they boasted of wanting to burn him alive, vivisecting him, and outright cold-blooded murder.

I tell people when I lecture sometimes on anti-transgender violence that I’d rather be attacked by a pack of wild dogs than a pack of wild teenage boys. At least with the wild dogs, it’s not personal.

And I should have guessed the reactions in advance, really, as homophobia was rampant in that time and place. In 10th grade I witnessed a boy beaten bloody by about half the football team because he wore a pink button-down shirt to school. Was he gay? No – he wore it because Don Johnson wore them on “Miami Vice,” and he wanted to look like a macho character on television. The mistake he made was in thinking he could “get away with” wearing a pink shirt.

Miami_ViceA gay crime-fighting duo? Hardly.

We had the “no blue jeans or you’re gay” day, leading to clueless me, who missed the memo, being punched, kicked, tripped, and verbally abused. I tried to grow my hair long, to at least have some trappings on the outside of the ghost of a girl inside me. Guess what? Long hair also meant you were a “fag.” Beatings ensued. After the HIV/AIDS drama “An Early Frost” was aired in 1985, anyone who had a cough was asked mockingly “Is it an ‘early frost?’ Got something you want to tell us? Fag?”

The junior high and high school cliques of the mean girls and the jocks decided ad hoc what did and didn’t make you a “fag,” and therefore a target. One girl was almost beaten up by her peers for wearing a Eurythmics concert shirt, because the group was fronted by Annie “Lezzy” Lennox.

Annie_LennoxShe has to be a lesbian, because, um, short hair, and, um, suit? Right?

I used to wear an amethyst ring I had bought at the Renaissance Festival, as a connection to my inner girl, until a school counselor acted on his own to call me into his office and order me to remove the ring, because wearing it “meant you were gay.” One day someone declared peanut butter and jelly to be gay, because – well, just because. This, from the “future leaders of America.”

I know a lot of these folks nowadays. Some of them I talk to from time to time, while others I see as Facebook friends. I wonder sometimes – “Did you teach your kids to do as you did – pick on the weak, the different, the misfits? Or, did you teach them that who someone loves or what they have in their jeans isn’t your doggone business? Did you do the right thing, the second time around?” In some cases I know the answer is yes; in many others, I’m uncertain.

The popularity wheel turned, as it shall for everyone except Madonna, and Culture Club moved off the scene. In later years, Boy George was known primarily for his drug use and misdemeanor escapades. Perhaps ten or more years ago, I came across a fan-run website all about Culture Club and Boy George, with several references from his autobiography.

I cried when I learned Boy George was cisgender. If you’ve read this far, you understand why.

Boy_George_5Boy George, circa 2014.

I had some time to convalesce while recovering from pneumonia recently, and I spent some time re-watching old 1980’s music videos on YouTube just for the heck of it. I came upon the old Culture Club videos, and the memories came flooding back. I remember being the scared, hidden transgender teen, sitting in a suburban living room hearing epithets and threats thrown towards a young man who just wanted to sing and have a different gender expression. I remember the fear, and how I felt like even among my friends if I made one slip, let them get one glimpse through the door of the real me, that I could at best end up a pariah, and at worst end up in the hospital.

Transgender youth today unmistakably have that same fear. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey:

  • Those who expressed a transgender identity or gender non-conformity while in grades K-12 reported alarming rates of harassment (78%), physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%).
  • The harassment was so severe that it led nearly one-sixth (15%) to leave school in grades K-12 or in higher education settings.
  • Teachers and staff members, whose job in part includes ensuring student safety, were too often the perpetrators of harassment and violence in K-12. Thirty-one percent (31%) of the sample reported harassment by teachers or staff, 5% reported physical assault by teachers or staff and 3% reported sexual assault by teachers or staff.
  • More than half (51%) of respondents who were harassed, physically or sexually assaulted, or expelled because of their gender identity/expression reported having attempted suicide. Of those who were physically assaulted by teachers/staff or students, 64% reported having attempted suicide. And three-quarters (76%) of those who were assaulted only by teachers or staff reported having attempted suicide.
  • Respondents who identity as female-to-male transgender people today reported a higher rate of these abuses (65%) than male-to-female respondents (53%) and those who identify as gender non-conforming experienced abuse at a higher frequency (70%) than transgender-identified respondents (59%).

Injustice_at_Every_TurnGender non-conformity is still a no-no (from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey).

I never seek to minimize someone else’s oppression and suffering, and the National Transgender Discrimination Survey tells a dire tale. But aside from Boy George and that briefly-lit candle of hope, it’s stunning to me when I reflect that the situation for transgender teens in my youth was so very much worse.

References

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

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.

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 – NYTimes.com

VITAL UPDATE: Quality of Life in Treated Transsexuals

Woman_Scientist

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.

Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults

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A new study was released today from the Williams Institute at UCLA and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. To say that the study was more bad news for an already oppressed minority would be understating the issue. Highlights from the study report an increased risk of suicide among Trans Men (46%) and also among Trans Women (42%) with disabilities (65%). High prevalence of suicide attempts were also found among those who had ever experienced homelessness (69%) and those who reported a doctor or healthcare provider refused to treat them (60%). For more statistics from this report and to read and review the entire report go here.

The Williams Report