Category Archives: Youth

Issues impacting youth and very young adults.

September 2016 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

carmen3Hello everyone! We begin this month’s Trans Talk edition of the Tenth Voice speaking with Haley Bridges, the Director of TrueGender, which is a new local organization working to tackle the problem of high medical costs for transgender families. Next we will continue our Transgender Kaleidoscope series, speaking with Carmen Xavier, a transgender woman with a wonderful outlook on life and local political aspirations to help the community.

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, September 24 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

North Carolina Enshrines Transgender Toilet Terror Bill Into Law

Torched_Rainbow_Flag
Well, they’ve done it.

In response to the city of Charlotte passing an ordinance protecting LGBT rights, Republicans in the North Carolina legislature have ram-rodded a comprehensive anti-LGBT rights bill through to the governor’s office, where it was signed with incredible speed not shown towards any other legislative measure in that state in recent history. A mere three hours of debate and 20 minutes of public comment were allowed before the bill was passed, and Governor Pat McCrory – who I’ve reported on before due to his many anti-transgender statements regarding children – signed it without any hesitation. Claiming it was to “keep our children safe.”

Why did this happen? One primary, driving issue: Republican lawmakers were horrified that transgender women might be using the same toilet as cisgender women.

That’s it. The economy, crime, jobs, civil rights, the environment – all of these issues paled to the Republicans, compared to the thought that a transgender person might need to pee in a place where they can do so without fear of harassment or assault. While widely advertised as a ban to protect kids in schools, the hateful piece of legislation actually extends to “all public facilities” as defined in the state, with no age range mentioned. Furthermore, the hateful piece of legislation also mandates that your sex is defined solely by what is listed on your birth certificate.

Mercifully, North Carolina is one of few states which will allow transgender persons to change their birth certificates – provided you have surgery. At least until Republicans figure out that we “decepticons,” as one North Carolina Republican lawmaker referred to us, can change our birth certificates. Most likely, they’ll use the same excuse used by New Jersey Republican governor Christie, who claimed he rejected a bill allowing transgender persons to change their gender marker on their birth certificate due to “security concerns.”

You can read the full text of the bill at this link, and information for this article came from this source as well: North Carolina Governor To Sign Anti-LGBT Law Into Effect

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

Illinois District Violated Transgender Student’s Rights, U.S. Says


The New York Times has printed a very detailed article on a recent major victory for transgender youth. Township High School District 211 in Palatine, Illinois, had refused to allow a transgender girl equal access to school locker and toilet facilities, and a complaint was made by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. In a letter sent Monday, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Education told the district that requiring a transgender student to use private changing and showering facilities was a violation of that student’s rights under Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination. The district has 30 days to reach a solution or face penalties, including potential administrative law proceedings or a Justice Department court action. The district could lose some or all of its Title IX funding.

From the article:

“All students deserve the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities — this is a basic civil right,” Catherine Lhamon, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Township High School District 211 is not following the law because the district continues to deny a female student the right to use the girls’ locker room.”

Officials in the Palatine district, which serves more than 12,000 students, have framed their position as a middle ground. The transgender student in question plays on a girls’ sports team, is called “she” by school staff and is referred to by a female name. But the district, citing privacy concerns, had required her to change clothes and shower separately.

The district said she was allowed to change inside the girls’ locker room, but only behind a curtain. The student, who has not been publicly identified, has said she would probably use that curtain to change. But she and the federal government have insisted that she be allowed to make that decision voluntarily, and not because of requirements by the district.

As a rebuttal to ignorant parents who claimed that the student was a “boy” who was “gaming the system to see girls naked,” the Times reported that the student “…has identified as a girl from a young age, has changed her name, received a passport as a female and is undergoing hormone therapy…”

Source: Illinois District Violated Transgender Student’s Rights, U.S. Says

Olathe School District’s Transgender Restroom Policy Stirs Controversy – Not

The bathrooms inside a Johnson County high school are sparking some controversy, and it all has to do with which restrooms transgender students can use.

Please note that this is an old event, which has been bumped on social media and sent to me by two separate people, so I thought I would at least address the issue.

The original article from KCTV5, which is linked below, has a headline which implies that there is a major protest action, or some sort of mass resistance to the fact that two transgender students in the Olathe School District are being allowed to use the restroom congruent with their true gender. In reading the article, however, we find that the “controversy” consists of:

“KCTV5 News received an email from someone who said they are a concerned Olathe East High School parent outraged the school never told them anything, and now their student will be in a restroom with the opposite sex.”

A single e-mail. From one person, not identified. Wow, does Obama know about this? The article makes a further error, when it prints:

“The school district is in uncharted territory. They are the first metro school to address what the school paper calls the transgender ‘bathroom issue.’ “

Except of course for the entire KCMO School District, as proven by my interview with Lawrence Altman on last month’s Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio.

Honestly, I’m really uncertain at the level of reporting here, especially given that KCTV5 has a rather good record on transgender reporting, as seen in their reporting on the recent murder of Tamara Dominguez.

Source: District’s change over restrooms for transgender students stirs controversy

Why Do Those Who Accuse Us of Perversion Exhibit Perverted Behavior?

HUNT_ROGER_2015

In yet another case of the blind animal panic of religious conservatives towards transgender persons (namely, transgender girls and women), a South Dakota Representative has actually proposed that children wishing to participate in South Dakota High School activities (such as sports) must have have their gender concretely identified. How will this be done?

The proposal from Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon [photograph above], would rely on official birth certificates and visual inspections for determining gender rather than allowing people to decide and declare their gender on their own.

He said gender is determined at conception and the transgender debate is riding the gay marriage wave.

“This is South Dakota. We haven’t adopted the East Coast culture. We haven’t adopted the West Coast culture. We maintain our own culture,” Hunt said [Bart Pfankuch, “‘Visual Inspection’ Could Be Part of State Law to Determine Gender Identity,” Rapid City Journal, 2015.08.23].

He’s got a pair of brass ones, wouldn’t you agree, dear reader? Can you imagine what must be going through the minds of these hobgoblins, as they sit there dreaming of the humiliation and shame they can inflict on all of us evil transgender people. Forcing transgender children to expose their genitals to adults, in order to, um, protect kids from being exposed to genitals, or something? What is the rationale here anyhow, other than a disturbingly focused amount of attention upon children’s genitals?

The entire debacle becomes even more M. Night Shyamalan-ish when you add in a statement from Mark Chase of the anti-transgender Family Policy Council, who told the interim committee that transgender students are responsible for their own bullying by daring to participate on a team that doesn’t match their apparent biological sex. Quoth Mr. Chase, “…no amount of ‘sensitivity’ training will stop this.”

Indeed. Hatred isn’t easily abolished by mere training and guidelines. Hatred is abolished by the establishment and brutal, yes, brutal enforcement of anti-discrimination and anti-bullying laws.

Source: Rep. Hunt Wants to Look at Transgender Kids’ Genitalia | Dakota Free Press

Kansas City Transgender Teen Nominated for Homecoming Queen

First I must apologize for linking to a Fox4KC story, as I know many of my audience do not care very much for the station. And I must apologize for being days behind in posting this. My preparation for my month in Asia has taken a lot of my time.

The story is simple, but also highly important. Landon Patterson, a Senior at Oak Park High School in North Kansas City, came out on YouTube to reveal to the world that she was transgender. Not only wasn’t she expecting the show of support from her friends, who rallied behind her, but she certainly wasn’t expecting to be nominated as homecoming queen for the high school.

She will find out on September 12 if she made the grade, to become the first transgender homecoming queen in the history of Kansas City.

Source: Transgender teen nominated for homecoming queen at metro high school | fox4kc.com

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.

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

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

How a Transgender “Foreign Hope” is Challenging the Pro StarCraft World

This article was interesting and educational for me in a couple of ways, and I must say with embarrassment, dear readers, that the primary reason was the fact that I had no idea whatsoever that pro-StarCraft playing was even a thing. Mea culpa; we live and learn.

This story is definitely worth reading as it tells of the challenges and discrimination faced by Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, a pro gamer on the money circuit, who is a transgender girl breaking down barriers around the world. And also facing withering personal attacks from the usual internet trolls and haters.

Even if you’re not a gamer at all, I think there’s a lot to learn from this piece. Enjoy.

How a transgender “foreign hope” is challenging the pro StarCraft world · Gameological At Large · The A.V. Club.

Medical Experts: Laura Ingraham’s Transgender Youth Advice Is “Dangerous,” “Child Abuse”

Laura Ingraham is one of those people who because she is photogenic is often touted as an “expert commentator” on various issues in public policy and science, despite only having a law degree. She’s had a somewhat unsavory career since her college days, where some of her accomplishments included “allegedly secretly taped meetings of a Dartmouth LGBT student group, later publishing the transcripts and the names of the officers in The Review.” However, despite a college career where she evinced the most strident anti-LGBT views imaginable, she later “came to Jesus” after her brother revealed he was gay. So she says.

Here we see Laura Ingraham playing the role of medical commentator, in claiming that parents of transgender children who encourage treatment and help for their children as being guilty of child abuse, dropping vague warnings about puberty blockers and hormones which are sure to rile up the average American scientific ignoramus. You can read the article via the link below, and listen to a clip from her radio show.

These things are expected to happen, of course, so long as the American public responds via false authority syndrome to a pretty face and body, ignoring all those “boring egghead” researchers who could never appear on the cover of Cosmopolitan.

Medical Experts: Laura Ingraham’s Transgender Youth Advice Is “Dangerous,” “Child Abuse” | Blog | Media Matters for America.

Canadian Trans Girl Gets Amended Birth Certificate; Has Even Bigger Goals

Harriette-Cunningham-transgender-girlHarriette Cunningham, a resident of British Columbia, was able to amend her birth certificate’s gender marker thanks to a change in the law that previously required surgery by transgender individuals. The 11-year-old was first in line when the courts opened to have her documents updated.

“It’s not just a piece of paper. It matters to me to have me properly represented.”

Harriette is a girl on a mission. When she researched her rights in her province, she became frustrated at the surgical requirement and has decided that gender should not be marked on birth certificates at all. She and her family plan to go before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in October along with other activists to fight for a change in the law.

“I want to get gender off the birth certificates so when a child is born they don’t put ‘M’ or ‘F’ on their birth certificate. That would have made it a lot easier for me.”

Let’s hope Harriette and her supporters are able to make a difference in British Columbia and throughout Canada.

Here in the US, the AMA has recently recommended that all states change their laws to allow people to change their gender markers without any surgical requirement. Most states require surgery to have a birth certificate’s gender marker amended. A few states allow for “irreversible medical treatment” which means that hormone therapy is considered enough intervention to warrant a gender marker change. Some states (Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee) will not allow a marker to be changed even with surgery. You can check your state’s requirements on the Lambda Legal website.

The need for this change in policy affects adults and children differently. (I won’t get into the obvious and terrifying issues affecting adults here such as police harassment and physical violence, because as a mom of a youngster, my knowledge is limited in what transmen and transwomen go through daily.) As more kids are able to transition early, blending in and being able to go through childhood “in stealth” and even through puberty in their teens, their school records are often not updated because of their birth certificates. They can be accidentally outed during roll call by substitutes or on official test records. Getting into a college and receiving the correct living arrangements can become a tangled mess. Because children cannot legally have surgery, they have practically no chance of getting a birth certificate corrected.

I, for one, will be lobbying to get the policy changed where we live. Will you join me and start petitioning in your area, too?

Debi Jackson, Mother Of Transgender Child, Gives Moving Speech

DebiListen
You must watch this video which is part of the Listen to Your Mother series of videos, and features our very own Debi Jackson, contributor to Transas City and a close friend of mine. Her story is incredibly touching, and the video conveys fully the emotions she feels over standing behind her transgender daughter.

Again, you must watch this video and see if you have a dry eye afterwards.

Debi Jackson, Mother Of Transgender Child, Gives Moving Speech.

Jay Kelly Knows Who He Is

Jay Kelly (photo from Instagram)

Jay Kelly (photo from Instagram)

Jay Kelly, formerly known as Jaya Kelly, is the transgender son of singer R. Kelly and TV personality Drea Kelly. Last month he publicly revealed that he is transgender on his social media accounts.

He has said that was 6 or 7 years old when he realized he identified as a boy rather than as a girl. “I believe I am a boy and want surgery and the medication to help me be who I was supposed to be,” he explained.

Jay shared that his family is supportive and switched to using his new name and correct pronouns. However, many people speculated if he meant his entire family, including his father, since they seem to not see each other very often. We finally learned the answer to that question this week.

R. Kelly appears to be in a state of denial right now, and is possibly even looking for an explanation about how his child could be trans. During a radio interview earlier this week, he responded to a question from the host about all of the blog reports on Jay by saying, “…don’t even give the blogs that kind of credit. But as far as that’s concerned, always believe what you see — with your own eyes that is.” He seems to be implying that the blogs are reporting who Jay is rather than Jay himself. Hmmm…

When pressed further, he said that there is a “backstory” and why people can’t judge another person. Backstory? One self-described black feminist blogger (whom I won’t name or link to because I don’t want to promote her false statements towards Jay) speculated that Jay was acting out because of his father’s alleged sex crimes and was neglected at home.

One writer did call out the media by listing 5 ways their reporting was poor, from calling Jaya the wrong name and pronoun, discussing surgery, and promulgating false transgender stereotypes.

As for R. Kelly himself, I hope he stops listening to bloggers and listens to his son. Jay knows who he is. If he needs to “believe what he sees,” he needs to spend some time with his son so he can see what the rest of us can — a happy, confident teenage boy.