The pure joy of being out and about

The pure joy of being out and about   I was talking on the phone with one of our friends, Pamela, who roams between the Pacific Northwest and the Southwestern United States following the warm weather.  She is one of my heroines for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason being she started living honestly and came out at the age of 72!  She’s the father of two and a grandfather. We have a lot in common.  She began going out and about like many of us by attending a gathering of Trans* women at a garden party.  It was her first time out and she experienced the pure joy of being out and about as her true self.

The answer to a lifetime of wishes and prayers   Pamela described how happy she felt and feels being out.  She waited decades, hiding her true feelings.  With love and respect, she came out to her family.  Pamela’s family is still on the journey to acceptance and understanding and she is able to enjoy an outing with her wife and daughters.  The joy Pamela feels is tremendous.  To be out with others like us.  No hiding, no guarding her conversations and just being really free.  Words are inadequate to describe the happiness.

The feeling doesn’t end   I was having pizza with my best friend, Elayne, last week and we also discussed this feeling of joy being out and about.  To her, it all came together when she was able to enter a crowded place and enjoy the thrill of being out.  She floated in, unconcerned, confident and beautiful, just the way it is supposed to be for us all.

My first dinner out   The first time for me was having dinner at a restaurant with a friend.  I was apprehensive and it took me a while just to get out of the car.  The hostess took us to our table and seated us.  The server came over and said, “Good evening, ladies, can I take your order?”  It was the first time, ever, that I had been called a lady by anyone.  I was on the Moon.  I spent dinner in a state of bliss, chatting with my friend, talking to the waiters and just loving being me.

It happens every time   It’s been a few years now for me and being out, even to the grocery store, is still a thrill.  Sure, there have been a bump or two in the road, but nothing to deter me, nor should you be deterred.  When I’m out and some young grocery boy says, “Yes, Ma’am.” (remember, this is the South) or I hear someone call, “Ms. O’Malley,” it’s a thrill and a dream come true.  My friends Pamela and Elayne know it and my wish is for all of us to enjoy and revel in going out and about, free to be your true selves.

Coming at you in 2016

Coming at you in 2016   Over the holidays, I was blessed with the opportunities to talk to a number of my friends, old and new.  Most are our sisters in the Trans* community, with a few cisgender friends thrown in for equal time.  I get so much from our conversations, e-mails and pizza-night chats.  I want to share their insights and experiences, pleasures and pet-peeves and what is decades and decade’s worth of knowledge.  I’ve learned so much from them and it’s too precious not to share.

Is it just gender stuff?   No.  We talk about everything from pedicures to wigs and everything in between.  A girl can only complain about Spanx so many times.  Clothing, makeup, wigs, shoes, travel, food, football, weather, camping, farm-life, herding cattle, cooking, sewing, hats, scarves and you name it.  It’s all shared lovingly and never a dull moment.

That includes you too   This sharing is open to everyone who reads this blog.  Those who have commented and especially our friends who have included their stories on the tab Your Page.  If you haven’t shared up to this point, this is a sincere request to join our conversation and let us hear from you and share your experiences.

How do I get in on this?   Easy.  Simply reply to this post.  If you like, share your story on the Your Page tab.  You can e-mail me directly at Cate.OMalley@MatureTransgender.com.  If you want to chat on the phone, drop me a line at my e-mail with your number and I’ll be really happy to talk to you.

Hurry up!   Don’t delay. We are eager to hear from you.

She’s the father of two

She’s the father of two   Recently, I was reading The Huffington Post, one of my favorite places on the web.  Along with the name of the author of an article, there is a one-or-two sentence biographic statement.  I saw the above headline regarding the author of the story I was reading and stopped short.  What a wonderful addition to this woman’s bio.  Being a parent is one of the really important things in life, if not the most important.  Being Trans* will never negate being a mother or a father.  It made me hope to see more and more references like this in the future.

Me too   Immediately after reading She’s the father of two, I said, “Me too!”  I have a son and a daughter and I’ve never thought of myself any other way then being their dad.  Being their dad is amazing and I can’t think of anything I’m more proud of or that I’d rather be.  I love Ben and Rachel and I love being their dad.

What should I call you?   When I came out to my son and daughter, they both asked, “What should I call you?”  My response was, “Call me dad, or whatever you are comfortable calling me.”  Regardless of how I present, my gender expression or how I define myself, it does not change the facts.  I’m a father.

Hi, I’m Cate O’Malley, Ben’s dad   This should be a simple introduction.  I’ve used it and it does tend to make the uninitiated a bit uncomfortable.  It’s a statement of fact, not a way for me to poke fun nor do I say it to get a rise out of someone.  I’m Ben’s dad.  It’s a simple, truthful statement.

Times are changing   If I’m a transwoman and the father of two, then there are transmen who are mothers.  There are agender people who are fathers and mothers.  It’s an undisputable fact.  Until there’s a different word, the person providing the eggs is the mother and the person providing the sperm is the father.  Until those designations change, and it seems unlikely, then I’m a father, and damn proud of it.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Hi Mom, it’s me, Cate, your son.  We never got to talk about this ‘gender thing’ before you passed, but I’m sure you’ve always known I was different.  You named me Doug after the doctor gave you and Dad the good news I was a bouncing baby boy.  I know I was small and had to stay in the hospital for a month.  I got better and bigger and have grown older. I’m ready to start my third act soon, retiring within a year.  Lots has happened over the years, mostly good, a few bad and a couple that were tragic.  I want to tell you about one of the ever-present situations in my life which I never got to explain to you.  Mom, I was born in a male body, but I am female.  They call us ‘transgender’, which means we were born in one body, but are aligned mentally and emotionally as the opposite gender.  There’s a lot of labels, but the one I chose and use is Cate O’Malley.  I am a woman, Mom.  I’ve known it from before I was a teenager.  I didn’t have the name for it back then, but that’s what I knew deep in my soul.

It was around the age of nine or ten I began trying on things.  I started with your high heels. You always did love a pair of heels and if they were red, you loved them even more. Just for the record, so do I.  I tried on other things and each gave me the most wonderful feeling I’ve ever had.  I hope I was careful putting everything back as I found it.  I don’t know if you ever suspected.  If you did, you didn’t tell me.  When I was that age and into high school, I wanted to be one of the girls.  I used to be bullied in school.  I was accused of being gay. That was all we knew back then.  It’s the reason I liked hanging out with girls and not the guys.  I never felt like I fit in.  Playing music, working, not being home and hanging out with Sue and her girlfriends was one way I didn’t have to feel out of place or different.

For a lot of my life, Mom, I was sad and angry.  Most of the time I didn’t know why.  It made me a less-than-perfect husband, employee, student, person.  I couldn’t put a finger on it, but I knew I had feelings and desires that just didn’t fit the ‘normal’, whatever that is. It took until I was fifty-seven years old to process my thoughts and feelings and truly understand what and who I was.  I spent a small fortune on therapy which helped me find my way.  I was eventually able to come out.  Coming out is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. You strip yourself bare, take off all your armor and expose yourself for who you are.  It’s terrifying.  We got through it and now, over nine years later, I am happier than I have ever been.

I’m living my life honestly and as who I truly am.  I’m Cate, a woman.  I wish you were here so you could see who I’ve become and how happy I am and how I’m striving with purpose to help others like me.  I think you would be proud.  I miss you, Mom.

Your loving son daughter,

Cate

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance
November 20, 2015

Transgender Day of Remembrance is the day the trans* community comes together to mourn those who were killed during the last year for being trans*, gender non-conforming or perceived so. Whether they were or were not trans*, they suffered and died because of hate. There is no justification for bigotry, injustice and violence. Today the world mourns those killed, maimed and injured because of terrorism and war. These trans* people were not one of those. They were not in a war zone. They were not soldiers or terrorists. There were not our enemies. They were our sisters and brothers and they were going about their daily lives, just like you and I. The youngest was 16 years old and the oldest was 66. One young woman was killed in front of her church.

Our detractors will say they were ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’. The will claim they ‘where asking for it’. Whatever the circumstance, they did not deserve to be murdered. If I am standing in front of my church, is that the wrong place? If I am crossing a parking lot, heading to my car, is that looking for it. It is not!

We trans* people do not ask for special treatment. We want to live our lives peacefully, productively and without fear. That’s what our trans* sisters and brothers wanted, but it was violently taken away. That’s what I want, to live my life without fear for who and what I am. When I read the names on the list I have to think, there for the grace of God go I.

Please take time out of your day to look at the names and think about them, their families, their hopes and dreams, now gone forever. Please find the list here:

http://www.advocate.com/transgender/2015/11/20/transgender-day-remembrance-2015-those-weve-lost

Too Many Definitions?

Too many definitions?   When I began to realize I was not your vanilla, white bread, peas in a pod kind of person growing up, I had very few choices in which to categorize myself.  The three big ones at the time were straight, gay and lesbian.  If there were more definitions then that, I didn’t know about it.  It was the early 60’s and we were in a simpler time and place.  In all honesty, I was too interested in girls in angora sweaters, beer and rock and roll be too worried about labels.  I knew I was different, but didn’t know what to call it, so I didn’t call it anything.  Please realize I grew up in a very small, Ohio farm community where the pigs outnumbered the people, smack dab in the middle of a rural-agrarian culture which valued the status quo and frowned up diversity.  There was no alphabet soup of gender identities, sexual orientations and personal expressions.  Oh, how its changed.  These days we need a two-volume reference guide just to keep up with all of the new categories/definitions/identities/whatever you want to call it.

How many gender identities do we need?   The cornerstone of social media, Facebook.com, where you can have thousands of friends without ever having to spend time with any of them in person, made a big splash last February 13, 2014, by adding fifty-six new gender options instead of the old fashioned male and female.  This way you wouldn’t be hemmed in by the old fashioned binary.  In order to keep you up to date, here they are:

Agender

Androgyne
Androgynous
Bigender
Cis
Cisgender
Cis Female
Cis Male
Cis Man
Cis Woman
Cisgender Female
Cisgender Male
Cisgender Man
Cisgender Woman
Female to Male
FTM
Gender Fluid
Gender Nonconforming
Gender Questioning
Gender Variant
Genderqueer
Intersex
Male to Female
MTF
Neither
Neutrois
Non-binary
Other
Pangender
Trans
Trans*
Trans Female
Trans* Female
Trans Male
Trans* Male
Trans Man
Trans* Man
Trans Person
Trans* Person
Trans Woman
Trans* Woman
Transfeminine
Transgender
Transgender Female
Transgender Male
Transgender Man
Transgender Person
Transgender Woman
Transmasculine
Transsexual
Transsexual Female
Transsexual Male
Transsexual Man
Transsexual Person
Transsexual Woman
Two-Spirit
If these don’t fit – Fill in the Blank

That’s not all folks!   Here again, as an old-timer, I remember when there was gay, straight and bisexual.  Early on, bisexual was considered by many as someone who hadn’t made up their mind yet.  We now know differently and embrace our bisexual brothers and sisters.  However, and you know there would be a however, those three didn’t provide an accurate definition.  More definitions were added and added and added.  Below you will find a list of terms I’ve compiled while surfing the World Wide Web.  Everyday there are more and more.  This is what I’ve got so far.

LGBPTTQQIIAA+: any combination of letters attempting to represent all the identities in the queer community, this near-exhaustive one (but not exhaustive) represents Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Intergender, Asexual, Ally
Agender: is a term which can be literally translated as ‘without gender’.  It can be seen either as a non-binary gender identity or as a statement of not having a gender identity.
Advocate: a person who actively works to end intolerance, educate others, and support social equity for a group
Ally: a straight person who supports queer people
Androgyny: (1) a gender expression that has elements of both masculinity and femininity; (2) occasionally used in place of “intersex” to describe a person with both female and male anatomy
Androsexual/Androphilic: attracted to males, men, and/or masculinity
Asexual: a person who generally does not experience sexual attraction (or very little) to any group of people
Aromantic:  is a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others. Aromantics do not lack emotional/personal connection, but simply have no instinctual need to develop connections of a romantic nature.  Aromantics can have needs for just as much empathetic support as romantics, but these needs can be fulfilled in a platonic way.
Bigender: a person who fluctuates between traditionally “woman” and “man” gender-based behavior and identities, identifying with both genders (and sometimes a third gender)
Binary Gender: a traditional and outdated view of gender, limiting possibilities to “man” and “woman”
Binary Sex: a traditional and outdated view of sex, limiting possibilities to “female” or “male”
Biological sex: the physical anatomy and gendered hormones one is born with, generally described as male, female, or intersex, and often confused with gender
Bisexual: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction to people of their own gender as well as another gender; often confused for and used in place of “pansexual”
Cisgender: a description for a person whose gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex all align (e.g., man, masculine, and male)
Cis-man: a person who identifies as a man, presents himself masculinely, and has male biological sex, often referred to as simply “man”
Cis-woman: a person who identifies as a woman, presents herself femininely, and has female biological sex, often referred to as simply “woman”
Closeted: a person who is keeping their sexuality or gender identity a secret from many (or any) people, and has yet to “come out of the closet”
Coming Out: the process of revealing your sexuality or gender identity to individuals in your life; often incorrectly thought to be a one-time event, this is a lifelong and sometimes daily process; not to be confused with “outing”
Cross-dressing: wearing clothing that conflicts with the traditional gender expression of your sex and gender identity (e.g., a man wearing a dress) for any one of many reasons, including relaxation, fun, and sexual gratification; often conflated with transsexuality
Demisexual: is someone who doesn’t typically feel sexual attraction unless they have already formed a strong emotional bond with the person. The bond may or may not be romantic in nature.
Demiromantic: is similar to a demisexual, the individual doesn’t feel romantic attraction “unless they have already formed a strong emotional bond with the person.”
Drag King: a person who consciously performs “masculinity,” usually in a show or theater setting, presenting an exaggerated form of masculine expression, often times done by a woman; often confused with “transsexual” or “transvestite”
Drag Queen: a person who consciously performs “femininity,” usually in a show or theater setting, presenting an exaggerated form of feminine expression, often times done by a man; often confused with “transsexual” or “transvestite”
Dyke: a derogatory slang term used for lesbian women; reclaimed by many lesbian women as a symbol of pride and used as an in-group term
Faggot: a derogatory slang term used for gay men; reclaimed by many gay men as a symbol of pride and used as an in-group term
Female: a person with a specific set of sexual anatomy (e.g.,  46,XX phenotype, vagina, ovaries, uterus, breasts, higher levels of estrogen, fine body hair) pursuant to this label
Fluid(ity): generally with another term attached, like gender-fluid or fluid-sexuality, fluid(ity) describes an identity that is a fluctuating mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, gay and straight); not to be confused with “transitioning”
Fluid-sexuality: describes an identity that is a fluctuating mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, gay and straight); not to be confused with “transitioning”
FTM/MTF: a person who has undergone medical treatments to change their biological sex (Female To Male, or Male To Female), often times to align it with their gender identity; often confused with “trans-man”/”trans-woman”
Gay: a term used to describe a man who is attracted to men, but often used and embraced by women to describe their same-sex relationships as well
Gender Expression: the external display of gender, through a combination of dress, demeanor, social behavior, and other factors, generally measured on a scale of masculinity and femininity
Gender-fluid: describes an identity that is a fluctuating mix of the options available (e.g., man and woman, gay and straight); not to be confused with “transitioning”
Genderf*ck: Deliberately sending mixed messages about ones sex, usually through ones dress (e.g., wearing a skirt and a beard).
Gender Identity: the internal perception of an individual’s gender, and how they label themselves
Genderless: a person who does not identify with any gender
Genderqueer: (1) a blanket term used to describe people whose gender falls outside of the gender binary; (2) a person who identifies as both a man and a woman, or as neither a man nor a woman; often used in exchange with “transgender”
Graysexual :defines the term as a magical place between asexual and someone who is sexual” and something more fluid between sexuality and asexuality.  Those who identify as graysexual might also identify as gay or straight or any other sexual identity inside or outside of the binary.
Gynesexual/Gynephilic: attracted to females, women, and/or femininity
Hermaphrodite: an outdated medical term used to describe someone who is intersex; not used today as it is considered to be medically stigmatizing, and also misleading as it means a person who is 100% male and female, a biological impossibility for humans
Heterosexism: behavior that grants preferential treatment to heterosexual people, reinforces the idea that heterosexuality is somehow better or more “right” than queerness, or ignores/doesn’t address queerness as existing
Heterosexual: a medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone with the other gender (or, literally, biological sex) than they have; often referred to as “straight”
Homophobia: fear, anger, intolerance, resentment, or discomfort with queer people, often focused inwardly as one begins to question their own sexuality
Homosexual: a medical definition for a person who is attracted to someone with the same gender (or, literally, biological sex) they have, this is considered an offensive/stigmatizing term by many members of the queer community; often used incorrectly in place of “lesbian” or “gay”
Hypersex(ual/-ity): a sexual attraction with intensity bordering on insatiability or addiction; recently dismissed as a non-medical condition by the American Psychiatric Association when it was proposed to be included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 5.
Intersex: a person with a set of sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit within the labels of female or male (e.g., 47,XXY phenotype, uterus, and penis)
Lithromantic: described a person who experiences romantic love but does not want their feelings to be reciprocated.  A lithromantic person may or may not be ok with romantic relationships.
Male: a person with a specific set of sexual anatomy (e.g.,  46,XY phenotype, penis, testis, higher levels of testosterone, coarse body hair, facial hair) pursuant to this label
Non-gender: a person who can not be identified as male or female without chromosome testing, or a person whose chromosome test is inconclusive.
Outing [someone]: when someone reveals another person’s sexuality or gender identity to an individual or group, often without the person’s consent or approval; not to be confused with “coming out”
Pansexual: a person who experiences sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction for members of all gender identities/expressions
Polysexual: similar to pansexual, may be attracted to some gender variant people but not have the capability or desire to be with some others.
Panromantic :is romantically — but not sexually — attracted to others regardless of sex or gender.
Queer: (1) historically, this was a derogatory slang term used to identify LGBTQ+ people; (2) a term that has been embraced and reclaimed by the LGBTQ+ community as a symbol of pride, representing all individuals who fall out of the gender and sexuality “norms”
Queerplatonic Relationships: are not romantic in nature but they involve very close emotional connections that are often deeper or more intense than what is traditionally considered a friendship.
Questioning: the process of exploring one’s own sexual orientation, investigating influences that may come from their family, religious upbringing, and internal motivations
Same Gender Loving (SGL): a phrase coined by the African American/Black queer communities used as an alternative for “gay” and “lesbian” by people who may see those as terms of the White queer community
Sexual Orientation: the type of sexual, romantic, physical, and/or spiritual attraction one feels for others, often labeled based on the gender relationship between the person and the people they are attracted to; often mistakenly referred to as “sexual preference”
Sexual Preference: (1) generally when this term is used, it is being mistakenly interchanged with “sexual orientation,” creating an illusion that one has a choice (or “preference”) in who they are attracted to; (2) the types of sexual intercourse, stimulation, and gratification one likes to receive and participate in
Skoliosexual: attracted to genderqueer and transsexual people and expressions (people who aren’t identified as cisgender)
Straight: a man or woman who is attracted to people of the other binary gender than themselves; often referred to as “heterosexual”
Third Gender: (1) a person who does not identify with the traditional genders of “man” or “woman,” but identifies with another gender; (2) the gender category available in societies that recognize three or more genders
Transgender: a blanket term used to describe all people who are not cisgender; occasionally used as “transgendered” but the “ed” is misleading, as it implies something happened to the person to make them transgender, which is not the case
Transitioning: a term used to describe the process of moving from one sex/gender to another, sometimes this is done by hormone or surgical treatments
Transsexual: a person whose gender identity is the binary opposite of their biological sex, who may undergo medical treatments to change their biological sex, often times to align it with their gender identity, or they may live their lives as the opposite sex; often confused with “trans-man”/”trans-woman”
Transvestite: a person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression (“cross-dresses”) for any one of many reasons, including relaxation, fun, and sexual gratification; often called a “cross-dresser,” and often confused with “transsexual”
Trans-man: a person who was assigned a female sex at birth, but identifies as a man; often confused with “transsexual man” or “FTM”
Trans-woman: a person who was assigned a male sex at birth, but identifies as a woman; often confused with “transsexual woman” or “MTF”
Two-Spirit: a term traditionally used by Native American people to recognize individuals who possess qualities or fulfill roles of both genders
Zucchini: is the name for a partner who is involved in a queerplatonic relationship, as in “He’s my zucchini.”

Did you find something that fit?   While putting this list together, I read them all and depending on the day/hour/minute, phase of the moon, season of the year or any other minor or major fluctuation in the universe, I may identify with one or more of these terms, only to change later.  Gender is fluid and on a continuum and that makes it the most interesting and exciting journey. What it really boils down to, and we don’t need a list for this is, we are all individuals, precious in our own way and deserving of respect, acceptance and love.

P.S. If anyone is looking for a zucchini, hit me up.

I thought this part would be so easy

I thought this part would be so easy   Back when I was in stealth mode, I used to dream about living my life honestly.  I’d imagine my days and nights and I never once considered that the day-to-day, mundane part of living would be difficult.  I’m not referring to the really hard part of coming out, telling my loved ones, legal changes in name and all the paperwork I’d need to fill out, not to mention the costs.  Just the everyday stuff.  Now that I’ve been doing it a while, here’s what I’m finding more difficult than I ever imagined.

Getting out the door in the morning   I’ve always been one of those slow starters in the morning.  I enjoy my coffee while reading the paper, take the dog for a walk and then get ready for work and start my commute.  Forget that, girl friends!  The mornings have become a barely contained scene of pure chaos.  Running around, getting a sip of coffee, fixing my face, hair, grab shoes that match and clothes that don’t clash is a typical morning.  Getting impatient at the dog while she sniffs 60,000+ blades of grass just to find the right one to tinkle on.  Jumping in the car and desperately avoiding spilling coffee on my white blouse.  Do you know how many people get upset when you sit through two traffic lights trying to put on mascara?  There are a lot of cranky people out there.

Mascara and eye liner   Applying mascara should be called “Putting your eye out with a pointed, fuzzy stick covered in tar”.  I can be the steadiest, calmest person out there, but something happens when I remove the mascara stick from the tube.  My hands start to shake, my eyelids blink incessantly and I lose the ability to focus.  I need glasses to see, so the magnifying mirror I use distorts distances and I end up with a big glob of mascara in my eye or a large splotch of black stuff smeared from under my eye across my nose. Eyeliner I’ve just given up.  I can’t get a smooth, straight line on the eyelid to save my soul. It looks so easy on the commercials and all of the YouTube videos on makeup I’ve watched. Can I do it?  Not on your life.  So much for the sexy Cat Eye, forget it!

Wide and petite   I used to describe myself as vertically challenged.  In my younger days, I stood a stately 5’5” tall.  After so many trips around the sun, I find myself at 5’3 ½” tall. How the heck did I lose an inch and a half?  That darn gravity.  Besides being on the shorter side, I’m built “solid” as my mother used to say.  I always thought I’d get to wear all of those great clothes in the catalogs and on the commercials.  The painful truth is, none of those clothes are 18WP.  It’s not my waist that’s the problem and I love being referred to as petite.  The problem is my shoulders and neck.  No amount of dieting and exercise is going to reduce the size of my shoulder bones.  I just have to live with the fact that my shoulders are too big.  I’m short with no butt, small hips and a real cute face.  I’ll never be a Vegas showgirl, that’s for sure.

I thought this part would be so easy   There are more things than those mentioned above. Pantyhose, leg shaving, electrolysis, eyebrow shaping, cowl-necked sweaters, scarves too short for a fat neck and so many other things I thought would be easy, but are proving to be harder then imagined.  The question now is, would I stop all this nonsense and go back. Not just no, but hell no!

Those crying in the night

Those crying in the night   I recently heard from one of our trans* sisters who shared that she has been having a difficult time lately.  She recently came out to a few people and is still in the early stages of discovery, awareness and learning to live authentically.  She spent a lovely weekend presenting as her true self and as she was changing back to “guy mode”, she found herself sitting alone and crying.  Crying because, for a few short hours, she felt real as her true self and now she was going back to hiding, denying and pretending.  I felt her hurt because I, like most of us, have been at that spot where not being who we really are is so painful and lonely.

A Tampa hotel room one December   The first time crying in the night for me was seven years ago when I went to a Christmas party for trans* people in Tampa.  I had a marvelous time and didn’t want the night to end.  Like our sister, I found myself sitting on the foot of the bed, weeping my eyes out, long black streaks of mascara and eye liner oozing down my cheeks.  I didn’t want to go back to pretending I was a man.  My soul ached, my eyes burned from makeup and tears and I felt so terribly alone.

Seven years later   Since that night, so much of my life has changed for the better.  I no longer feel lost and alone and I don’t have to  use Merlot and Ativan to allow me to sleep. However, I don’t ever want to forget how much I, too, ached to be who I really am.  I don’t want to forget what it is like to lie, pretend or sneak around just to let myself feel like my true self.  I don’t want to forget the desperation, anxiety and fear that came from not living honestly.  Most of all, I don’t want to forget the pain we all have felt just by being trans*.

Those families crying in the night   Because I remember my tears, I can mourn the loss of those no longer with us.  The ones who were unable to cope with the pain and fear, bullying and the loss of all hope that pushed them to take their own lives.  Because I remember my tears, I will speak the names of our trans* brothers and sisters who were taken from us by violence and hate.  Because I remember my tears, I will not forget the agony of the families and friends of those lost for their pain, suffering and tears will never disappear.

Those crying in the night   I have so many reasons to be happy.  I have family, friends and someone special who love and care about me.  I am living my life as I want and as who I am.  I don’t hide, pretend or lie to be my honest self.  It would be so easy to not care about those who suffer every day.  It would not take much work to ignore the reports of those lost to hate and suicide.  How simple would it be to not even think about the families, and friends of those lost.  I cannot forget.  I cannot forget my journey.  I remember my tears.  I will not forget those lost or taken from us. We must never forget.

Trans Survey

The 2015 U.S. Trans Survey Is Coming August 19th!

It’s the follow-up to the groundbreaking National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which was released in the 2011 report:Injustice At Every Turn.

Much of what we know about trans people in the U.S. has come from this study, and it has been an important source of information about who we are for advocates, policy makers, and the public.

But first and foremost, the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey is our community’s survey. It is a survey for all trans identities, including trans, genderqueer, and non-binary people. It is for us, about us, and by us. As the community’s survey, the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey data set and results will be available to community advocates, organizations, and researchers for years to come.

http://www.ustranssurvey.org/

Critically Important Journeys

More media everyday   During the past few weeks, I’ve been seeing more trans* people prominently mentioned in the media.  It seems I can’t open an Internet news source without seeing Caitlyn Jenner strutting her stuff in designer clothing, big sunglasses and followed by crowds.  I also read recently about Nicole Garcia, a 58-year old candidate for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the work and challenges a transgender, latina faces.  In Ocala, FL where I work, the June 2015 edition of the Ocala Magazine featured three trans* people, telling their stories and discussing their and our challenges.  One of the women in the article named only as ‘Vicki’ talked about how personally destructive she was due to the mental anguish of gender dysphoria, something all trans* people understand.  More exposure for us everyday means more to learn and more to understand for everyone.

Critically Important Journeys   I’ve been hearing the figure that 700,000 transgender people are in the United States.  I’ve also heard the number is closer to 1.5 million.  I’m going with the larger number as I personally know two trans* people who will never be counted and I know you out there do too.  That’s a lot of us!  Each of us are unique and alike.  Each of us have our own struggles and our shared pain.  Each of us are on a critically important journey of living honestly, deliberately and with our own purpose.

One journey does not matter more than another   Does Jenner’s journey matter more because she’s living in the global spotlight?  Does Vicki’s matter less because she is living peacefully and quietly as the woman she is?  Will the impact of Reverend Garcia’s life be any bigger than that of my friends who have chosen to live their lives as the gender assigned to them at birth, but know, understand, accept and love who they are?  No!  All we do and know and understand and share, whether in total exposure or blissful anonymity is important.

The impact all of our journeys   Everyone of our 1.5 million lives and journeys matter. Each one is critically important to the lives of all trans* people.  If that life is spent as a media darling showing a global society what it is like to hide in plain sight for 65 years and then transform under the spotlight, that is important.  Preaching a sermon in front of a congregation as a trans latina and loving your life is important.  Living as your assigned-birth gender, but sharing via the internet and meetings and commenting on and writing about and helping a terrified middle-aged whatever I was, is important.  Being happy and no longer self destructive is important.

All of us are critically important   All that we do and who we are is vital to the life, liberty and happiness of our community.  We each share and give in different ways, but it reaches and ripples to us all.  Sending a e-mail to someone you’ve never met, but telling them you understand the confusion and anguish is equal to being on a national news program and talking about our true selves.  It is what we do to preserve ourselves and by saving our own lives, we help to save us all.