I’m usually quiet on matters of transgender people, even though I am one. I like to work one-on-one, by being a decent human being and caring person. I also want to be seen as a multi-dimensional person.
But I cannot stay silent on President Trump’s latest declaration that transgender people are unfit to serve. This from a draft dodger who took five deferments to avoid Vietnam. The irony is delicious.
- Donald Trump is wrong about transgender in the military. Just like in the 40’s when arguments against blacks being integrated hurt unit cohesion. Just like in the 80’s and 90’s when arguments about women in combat zones would hurt unit cohesion. Just like in the 90’s and 00’s when arguments against gays would hurt unit cohesion. These are the arguments of fear mongers, racists, misogynists, homophobes, and idiots. There is no data to support their claims. It is old identity politics. It’s stupid, asinine, and fear based on ignorance. America should be better than this. Gays, women, people of color, transgender folk have always served in the US military. They just couldn’t be open about it. But they’ve always been there, for as long as there has been a United States of America.
Medical costs on transgender are not “tremendous”, despite Donald Trump’s claims. Medical treatment for trans folk is not cheap, but, it is, in fact, cheaper than going to the ER for multiple complex fractures and injuries from a car accident; far cheaper than treating cancer; and slightly more expensive than gallbladder removal or a hysterectomy. The one-time costs on surgery range anywhere from $17,000 to $85,000 depending on the surgeon and the location. Hormones are relatively inexpensive, depending upon the method: pill, patch, or injection. Electrolysis / laser hair removal is $100-$200 per hour and usually comes out of trans person’s own pocket.
Other surgeries, such as plastic surgery, are also deemed by insurance companies as optional, so that comes out of our own pockets as well. Ongoing medical costs are typical, as you would normally expect, for any average American woman or man in the long term.
- As Barry Goldwater once said, “”you don’t need to be ‘straight’ to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.”
- If anyone is unfit to serve, it is you, Donald Trump. And you prove it every time you open your mouth.
- You attacked me, my patriotism, my loyalty, and my humanity. Surely you don’t expect me to roll over and play dead now?
- I’m now in the “great game”. You’ve pissed me off. And millions of decent Americans are not going to put up with this chit.
I will fight because I’ve had to for the past 20 years to exist. I don’t want to fight. But I will. I, and people like me, have a right to live in peace and not be harassed by ignorant phucks like you, Donald Trump.
Go to hell.
Bathroom bills are on the march across the United States. Most of the states pursuing these “bathroom bills” are based in the South or Midwest of the country. However, they may not be exclusive to these areas. Either way, it is very disconcerting.
The gist of the “bathroom bills” is a ploy to allow discrimination against LGBTIQ based upon an exercise of “religious freedom”, “privacy issues”, and imaginary “safety issues”. Most are sponsored by organizations that are virulently intolerant of anyone who is perceived as “not straight.” Religion might be in their name, but it is historical patriarchal mechanisms which they are really supporting. Thus, it is a structure that cannot tolerate any threat to loss of power or influence at it’s core. This structure must constantly renew itself through immersion of people (aka students) into its values. One way to do that is to engender fear and suspicion in the community (aka school) of anyone who is different.
This brings us to the issue of lawsuits and bathroom use for transfolk who are school-aged students, especially for middle and high school. It brings up issues of support, rights, and safety, not only for the trans student, but for all students of every stripe, color, creed, race, gender, and orientation by restricting a student due to a trait or feature about said student(s). Hence, it can be the beginning of a long and winding road of discrimination of class(es) of people.
One particular lawsuit in Virginia is winding its way to a possible Supreme Court showdown. It is one in which there is a strong likelihood that the suit will be returned to the states due to the new Trump administration and their penchant for “traditional values”.
I don’t want to be a wet-noodle or a Debby Downer, but the efforts to secure a right to use the bathroom matching one’s gender identity is about to go on pause for a while in some states, and that would likely include Virginia.
I’m an old transwoman of over 20 years. I also counsel as an MFT those who are closeted or keeping secrets, or in an inquiry into their identity. These are not easy things to address.
Suing in federal court to identify a “right” to not be discriminated due to gender identity has moved forward by linking such suits to Title IX clauses prohibiting sex discrimination. This linkage is thanks to the Obama administration creating rules with executive orders which altered the interpretation of sex to include gender identity. A very logical and appropriate development, in my view. But, forgive the pun, this area of law is still quite fluid.
However, with this new Trump administration I believe it is extremely likely that these rules will be removed. In that case, pursuing nondiscrimination based upon gender identity does not necessarily have federal backing. And that means these battles against discrimination will return to the state level.
A law professor of mine once said, regarding suing for discrimination, that if you file suit, you better win. Because if you don’t win, you’ll not only be hurting yourself, but the entire class of people just like you.
Tread carefully. Work with the school districts to avoid going to court unless it is absolutely necessary. Consider accepting a compromise that does not demean, shame, or invoke suffering, especially if the motive of the school district is really about doing their best to protect and respect the trans student, as well as deal with other parents who act out of fears, not facts. Most of all stay safe.
Or as my father used to tell me, “It might be YOUR right. But don’t be DEAD right.” Good advice.
20 years ago when I came out, facing myself, and facing others, I made compromises in order to survive. There were no laws protecting Transfolk from any kind of discrimination. In order to allay others’ fears. In order to keep my job. In order to have a place to live. And in time people came around and wondered what all the fuss was about. I don’t want any of us to go back in time. But I don’t want anyone hurt, injured or killed either.
Lastly, do not take this as surrender or appeasement. One must pick their battles while also maintaining their ability to function in the greater society. It is sometimes a long and slow trudging process. Moving forward is often done in small steps, through being real and allowing people to know you, and you getting your message out there in how you live your life, and how you speak about your life.
What is “bad faith” in matters of equality [and stereotypes]
“…it is only necessary to act in the customary, ordinary, usual, even polite manner. Nonetheless, I doubt that any of us who does so is totally without the knowledge that something is wrong.
- To slide into decisions without allowing oneself to realize that one is making any;
- to feel dimly that one is enjoying advantages without trying to become clearly aware of what those advantages are (and who hasn’t got them);
- to accept mystifications because they’re customary and comfortable;
- cooking one’s mental books to congratulate oneself on traditional behavior as if it were actively moral behavior;
- to know that one doesn’t know; to prefer not to know;
- to defend one’s status as already knowing with half-sincere, half-selfish passion as “objectivity” –
This great, fuzzy area of human ingenuity is what Jean Paul Sartre calls “bad faith.” When spelled out the techniques use to maintain bad faith look morally atrocious and appallingly silly. That is because they are morally atrocious and appallingly silly. But this only shows when one spells them out, i.e., becomes aware of them. Hence this one effort among many to do just that.”
Russ, J. (1984) How to Suppress Women’s Writing, London: The Women’s Press.
She breaks sound and gender barriers as the first female pilot in the Navy’s Blue Angels!
“I saw the Blue Angels fly when I was a young kid,” Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins said. “I was definitely inspired by that.”
Higgins is a third-generation military aviator and the first female pilot in the team’s 69-year history.
“My dad was an A-7 pilot initially, and then he transferred to the F-18 Hornet, which is actually out here on the line,” Higgins said. “It’s a great family legacy to have, that’s for sure.”
Now, she’s providing the inspiration.
“I think by including a lady on the team, that just shows little girls and guys that women can do whatever they put their mind to,” Higgins said. “Little girls have told me that they didn’t even know that ladies could fly aircraft, that women could be in the cockpit.”
They’ve been in American military cockpits for more than 20 years, but it’s taken this long for a woman to become part of the Blue Angels team.
“We do a very thorough interview where they get to know each one of us and find the right person for the team next year, and so it just so happened that they haven’t had a female pilot that has fit quite perfectly,” Higgins said.
Capt. Tom Frosch is the commander of the Blue Angels and said, “it’s not that we weren’t ready, we were just looking for the right person.”
He was one of 17 officers that voted Higgins onto the team and said they haven’t had any challenges integrating a female pilot into the unit.
“Any female can fly any aircraft in our inventory,” he said.
For more about Captain Katie Higgins, see the article on the CBS News website:
Homelessness in Los Angeles is a significant and chronic problem. It is so much more challenging for homeless women to find safe shelter for themselves, their children, and away from addicts, violence, and sexual predators. The new Guadalupe Homeless Project Women’s Shelter in Boyle Heights is a facility designed for exclusive use of homeless women. The following article by Maya Sugarman of KPCC (89.3 FM) provides an excellent write-up of the shelter itself, and insight into the challenges facing homeless women in East Los Angeles.
For more than six years, Vickie, a 63-year-old homeless artist, did most of her sleeping on Los Angeles’ public buses.
“Nobody’s going to rape me on a bus,” says Vickie, who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy. “It’s the safest place for a woman to be. The only problem is you never get to lie down flat.”
Fear of rape, violence and theft had kept Vickie off the streets at night. But she says that fear also kept her away from homeless shelters, where she could have gotten a bed.
“Some of them have bad reputations,” she notes. “The ones that have outstanding reputations are always full.”
What finally coaxed Vickie off of buses was the opening of a women’s-only shelter in Boyle Heights, one of a very few in Los Angeles, and the only one to cater to older women like her. The Guadalupe Homeless Project Women’s Shelter has 15 beds arranged in a converted classroom that used to house an after-school program. It’s run by Proyecto Pastoral, a nonprofit under the auspices of East L.A’s Dolores Mission. Most of the women are in their 50s and 60s. The oldest is 80.
Raquel Roman, the shelter’s director, says the need for a women’s shelter in East L.A. became clear last year, when the body of a 36-year-old homeless woman named Lorenza Arellano was found floating in the lake at Hollenbeck Park. Arellano had often eaten dinner at a men’s shelter that Proyecto Pastoral has run in the community for decades, recalls Roman, but because its beds were not open to women, she slept in the park. Police said she died of a drug overdose, though how she ended up in the lake remains a mystery.
“Her tragic death was a shock to all of us,” Roman says, “and I was really compelled to say, we need to provide services to women in our community that are in the same situation.”
Amy Turk, program director for the Downtown Women’s Center, a day center for homeless women, says that other than the new Boyle Heights shelter, she knows of only two other women-only shelters in Los Angeles, totaling roughly 300 beds.
Yet the need for them is great, she adds, because the fear of violence often keeps women away from traditional shelters, much as it did with Vickie. A majority of homeless women recently surveyed by the center reported being victims of sexual abuse or other violence. A vast majority said they preferred women-specific homeless services.
And yet “we hardly ever see any funding geared solely toward unaccompanied women who are experiencing homelessness,” Turk says. Women trying to escape abusive partners have more options. So do homeless women with underage children, but they tend to be younger, and overall the population of homeless women is getting older.
As they age, Turk notes, they’re getting sicker faster than the housed population, which makes it harder for them to stay on the streets.
Those challenges are evident among the women at the Guadalupe Homeless Project, where each evening they do daily chores before being taken by van to a nearby school cafeteria where they’re served dinner.
Carlette Luka, a 59-year-old from Hawaii, has an easy smile and a jovial demeanor, but suffers from high blood pressure and a bad hip. She uses a walker. Before arriving at the shelter, she says she often slept in a graveyard to avoid trouble.
Another 59-year-old, who sings in her church’s gospel choir and asked not to be named, treks out on foot every morning to look for work but is slowed down by plantar fasciitis and pre-diabetes. Several women are getting treatment for mental health issues.
The goal of most of these women is to eventually find a job and an apartment, a task made difficult by the reluctance of many employers to hire older women, according to Roman. Some of the women at the shelter face the added complication of being in the U.S. illegally.
But some of the women are starting to get back on their feet. At 53, Eva Gonzalez is among the shelter’s younger residents. She once had a business designing and selling dresses for quinceañeras. For reasons she’ll only hint at, she lost the business, and then her home. She stayed in hotels and with friends, then finally heard about the shelter and secured a bed there.
For weeks, she struggled to find work.
“They told me I was too old,” she recalls. Gonzalez finally found work selling dresses in downtown L.A.’s garment district, adding that she’s saving money and plans to get a place of her own.
Unlike some of the women living with her in the shelter, Gonzalez says she still has time to start over.
A transgender teen from Ohio committed suicide on December 28th. She was born a male, but strongly identified female from the age of four. Unfortunately, her parents did have room for a trans child as it went against their religious beliefs. Efforts at reparative “therapy” with “Christian” therapists seemed to simply drive the teen deeper and deeper into depression; until, seeing no way out, this teen stepped in front of a truck traveling down a highway at 2:30am, instantly dying in the process.
The teen, Leelah A., left a note on Tumblr, which is reproduced here in full. Her parents still refer to her as “him” and have not acknowledged anything to do with Leelah’s gender identity.
“If you are reading this, it means that I have committed suicide and obviously failed to delete this post from my queue.
Please don’t be sad, it’s for the better. The life I would’ve lived isn’t worth living in… because I’m transgender. I could go into detail explaining why I feel that way, but this note is probably going to be lengthy enough as it is. To put it simply, I feel like a girl trapped in a boy’s body, and I’ve felt that way ever since I was 4. I never knew there was a word for that feeling, nor was it possible for a boy to become a girl, so I never told anyone and I just continued to do traditionally “boyish” things to try to fit in.
When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was. I immediately told my mom, and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong. If you are reading this, parents, please don’t tell this to your kids. Even if you are Christian or are against transgender people don’t ever say that to someone, especially your kid. That won’t do anything but make them hate them self. That’s exactly what it did to me.
My mom started taking me to a therapist, but would only take me to christian therapists, (who were all very biased) so I never actually got the therapy I needed to cure me of my depression. I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help.
When I was 16 I realized that my parents would never come around, and that I would have to wait until I was 18 to start any sort of transitioning treatment, which absolutely broke my heart. The longer you wait, the harder it is to transition. I felt hopeless, that I was just going to look like a man in drag for the rest of my life. On my 16th birthday, when I didn’t receive consent from my parents to start transitioning, I cried myself to sleep.
I formed a sort of a “fuck you” attitude towards my parents and came out as gay at school, thinking that maybe if I eased into coming out as trans it would be less of a shock. Although the reaction from my friends was positive, my parents were pissed. They felt like I was attacking their image, and that I was an embarrassment to them. They wanted me to be their perfect little straight christian boy, and that’s obviously not what I wanted.
So they took me out of public school, took away my laptop and phone, and forbid me of getting on any sort of social media, completely isolating me from my friends. This was probably the part of my life when I was the most depressed, and I’m surprised I didn’t kill myself. I was completely alone for 5 months. No friends, no support, no love. Just my parent’s disappointment and the cruelty of loneliness.
At the end of the school year, my parents finally came around and gave me my phone and let me back on social media. I was excited, I finally had my friends back. They were extremely excited to see me and talk to me, but only at first. Eventually they realized they didn’t actually give a shit about me, and I felt even lonelier than I did before. The only friends I thought I had only liked me because they saw me five times a week.
After a summer of having almost no friends plus the weight of having to think about college, save money for moving out, keep my grades up, go to church each week and feel like shit because everyone there is against everything I live for, I have decided I’ve had enough. I’m never going to transition successfully, even when I move out. I’m never going to be happy with the way I look or sound. I’m never going to have enough friends to satisfy me. I’m never going to have enough love to satisfy me. I’m never going to find a man who loves me. I’m never going to be happy. Either I live the rest of my life as a lonely man who wishes he were a woman or I live my life as a lonelier woman who hates herself. There’s no winning. There’s no way out. I’m sad enough already, I don’t need my life to get any worse. People say “it gets better” but that isn’t true in my case. It gets worse. Each day I get worse.
That’s the gist of it, that’s why I feel like killing myself. Sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you, it’s good enough for me. As for my will, I want 100% of the things that I legally own to be sold and the money (plus my money in the bank) to be given to trans civil rights movements and support groups, I don’t give a shit which one. The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.”
If you need help, there is help! Do NOT give up on the chance to live as you should be. Life is NOT an EITHER/OR question. Sometimes life is an AND. You can be transgendered AND live AND thrive AND cry AND grow AND have a life.
The Trevor Project is a crisis and support organization for LGBTIQ teens. They operate hotlines and a website. From their contact webpage:
We’re here for you. Please call the Trevor Lifeline (866-488-7386) – it’s free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also ask for help on TrevorChat or TrevorText.
Talk to us on the Trevor Lifeline (866-488-7386), over TrevorChat, or through TrevorText – our trained volunteer counselors are ready to listen.