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On Going Home for Thanksgiving as the Trans Man I Am

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Carl CharlesThanksgiving 2011 was the first time my mother met her eldest son. It was the first holiday I’d spent with my immediate family after coming out as transgender.

Earlier that year, I’d written my mom a letter explaining my transition, and my new name and pronouns, telling her how much I loved her and how grateful I would be for her support. With my siblings, I opted for more casual, in-person conversations. My sister nearly knocked over a whole wheel of cheese, flinging her arms in excitement when I called during her lunch break at the Oklahoma Whole Foods where she managed the cheese department.

Sitting across the table from my brother at my favorite Denver bar, the Thin Man, it was clear he didn’t really understand what I was telling him. But he told me about all the gay dudes he worked with and liked at the Apple Store in Denver. Close enough, I thought.

That Thanksgiving also marked the first time I was to meet my mom’s boyfriend, a guy she had been dating for more than a year, and the first serious relationship since her divorce from my father when I was 22.

Authored By Carl Charles – See the Full Story at The Advocate

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Let’s Admit What Really Went Wrong in Houston

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Hayden MoraIt’s a dangerous myth that Houston was unexpected. National leadership of the LGBTQ movement has known or had very good reasons to suspect that our opponents — still reeling from their defeat around same-sex marriage — would seize on trans issues to energize their supporters, refill their treasuries, and create a new opportunity to gain traction with voters and the public at large.

But our funding has been so focused on marriage equality that we were left fighting for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance without the proper resources for political strategy, organizing, and effective, wide-scale public education. We were caught unprepared and that is inexcusable.

The voters’ decision on HERO comes at a pivotal time in our movement and raises key questions for all of us — especially our leaders — about what happened, why it happened, and where to go from here. How much and how quickly we learn from this loss depends on whether we, as a movement, engage in an unsparing and rigorous analysis not just of the Houston campaign, but also the ways in which we have and have not prioritized trans issues.

The reaction to the loss itself is telling. Many whose engagement is bounded by the victory of marriage equality and the goal of passing the Equality Act are left shocked. On the other extreme, for those who spend most of their lives working on the “margins” of our community — the undocumented, the young, people of color, trans folks, and those that hold multiple marginalized identities — Houston is like a distant rainstorm amid an ongoing level 5 hurricane of profound and pervasive violence and oppression. Identifying how and working toward bridging this divide is part of the crucial work that must occur in order for us to develop a stronger, smarter, and more holistic strategy of how to move forward.

By Hayden Mora – Full Story at The Advocate

Comment: Not Having Surgery Doesn’t Make Trans People Less Trans

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Transgender FlagSome trans people take hormones or have surgery as part of their transition. Some do not. Any of these options are valid and don’t make anyone more or less trans than anyone else. This might not seem like a radical notion, but it’s an amazingly contentious issue, even among trans people.

There is a divide between those who go through or want to have a medical transition, and those who do not. The former can accuse the latter of not being “trans enough”, and then the latter accuse the former of upholding cis normative body standards.

This can then lead to cis people believing that the only way to be “properly trans” is to undergo medical transition, or you’ll never quite be real.

Authored By Naith Payton – See the Full Story at Pink News

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Everything You’ve Secretly Wanted to Ask a Trans Person

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

Ask a Trans PersonEver had a question about transgender people that you were too afraid to ask?

A new clip released by BBC Free Speech sees a number of people who identify as trans tackle questions they are always asked.

The participants point out that despite perceptions, there is no such one thing as “the op” – usually with a number of different, optional surgeries taking place over a period of time.

Fox Fisher says: “That’s the thing… there’s old tropes they have about sex swap, sex op, the surgery… I mean, if you talk to any trans person, you’ll know there’s no just one surgery to have.”

One transgender man explains: “It’s actually a series of five operation for guys, so the op is so decades ago now!”

See the Full Story at Pink News

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Op-ed: I’m a Trans Man Who Doesn’t ‘Pass’ – And You Shouldn’t Either

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Aiden James Kosciesza

Out of all the words in the transgender lexicon, “passing” is the one I hate most. And that’s no small feat.

In our rapidly evolving digital world, language is changing faster than ever. Words that seemed to be standard terminology as little as four years ago are now out of fashion, or even taboo. When I began my gender transition in 2011, for example, I called myself a “transsexual,” a word I no longer use because of its implied connection between gender identity and sexuality. Yet as words like “tranny” slink out of circulation, “passing” remains frustratingly well-used, even among the trans* community.

The term “passing,” when applied to transgender people, means being perceived as cisgender while presenting as one’s authentic gender identity. There’s a lot of power in that. When people meet me and assume that I am a cisgender man, I am afforded the privilege of choosing whether I disclose my transgender identity, and when. Many trans* folks pursue this power through clothing choices, hormones, surgery, voice training, or even etiquette lessons, and I’m all for that.

Authored By Aiden James Kosciesza – See the Full Story at The Advocate

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Trans: A Primer

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Transgender FlagLast week, I read the misinformed article by Jeremy Ogul in Gay San Diego entitled “One of the girls.” I immediately contacted trans-activist, and LGBT Weekly columnist, Autumn Sandeen to get her perspective about those in our community who are clueless about trans issues and seem to have no desire to learn. Ogul’s story was simply lazy, harmful pontificating by someone who thinks he knows a subject but embarrassingly does not.

You know, the Internet is a beautiful place for those who know how to use it. When I write commentary or an article about a subject, I use the Internet to make every attempt to be the smartest person in the room about the topic I am covering. Why? Misinformation kills.

Conventional wisdom says that if something gets repeated three times, it becomes truth. While that may be a stretch, the concept is a sound one. Rumor can become fact because people repeat misinformation over and over again. Remember Atlanta Olympic Games bomber Richard Jewell? Oh yeah, that’s right, he didn’t bomb anything. Who said “Let them eat cake”? Marie Antoinette? Nope, just a vicious rumor. Tokyo Rose convicted for treason after World War II. Not a real person. The woman convicted as Tokyo Rose was actually a wrongly accused American sympathizer. Tokyo Rose was the moniker for any female Japanese broadcaster who spoke English and spewed Japanese propaganda, not a particular person.

By Stampp Corbin – Full Story at LGBT Weekly

Transgender Bathroom Break – Tastes Like Irony

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

Leslie McMurrayThis past weekend we loaded up the car for a trip to Phoenix. My girlfriend, Katie, and I were off to visit my daughter. We decided to drive the 1,100-plus miles instead of flying because it is a heck of a lot cheaper. And with all of the TSA hoops at the airport, combined with common flight delays; I’m not convinced that in some cases, it’s not actually faster to drive.

Besides, when you get there, you have your car! Awesome!

So, off we went. We left at 2 a.m. Friday morning and ran into all sorts of bad weather. Just outside of Abilene, we hit snow and for the next 300 miles, I20 was a slip-and-slide.

We stopped often enough to get coffee and gas and to get rid of coffee, if you catch my drift.

Things cleared up after 300 miles or so, and we made it to my daughter’s house by 9 p.m. It was an 18-hour drive.

Authored By Leslie McMurray – See the Full Story at The Dallas Voice

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It’s Time for Trans Lives to Truly Matter to Us All

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Ty UnderwoodEach November LGBT centers, local groups, and churches host events for Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a single evening, a few hours, dedicated to memorializing those who were violently murdered for being transgender. Nearly all of the victims are women, of color, poor, and many likely engaged in sex work. In the United States, most are young black or Latina women. It’s a somber and depressingly impotent occasion as the needs of these women were never prioritized in life, and the crisis is largely ignored by everyone other than trans women of color the rest of the year.

Last November, Angelica Ross, a black trans woman who lifted herself up from risky conditions by learning website design and now runs a company dedicated to providing similar opportunities other trans people, spoke at Chicago’s TDOR event at the Center on Halsted. She said, “It took one Matthew Shepard for the gay community to stand up and say ‘Not one more.’ We’re losing 200-300 every year.”

For many that attend such events, it’s the only day of the year that they must confront this ugly reality. For people like myself and Angelica, who is my roommate and one of my closest friends, it’s a daily issue.

By Jen Richards – Full Story at The Advocate

A Gay Dad’s Requiem for Leelah Alcorn, the Matthew Shepard of Our Time

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

Leelah AlcornI will never forget the stunning image of Matthew Shepard’s hate crime. A young beautiful human was beaten, tortured and left for dead in an unthinkable violation. It shocked me when I saw the images, and I was not alone. Matthew’s fate left and indelible impression that has become part of our collective culture to this day.

This week, another tragedy, another life destroyed, left a similar impression — the death of Leelah Alcorn.

One of the publishers I work with sent me a quick message on New Years Eve. “You might want to write one of your ‘Gay Dad’ letters to the parents of this teen.” It was Leelah’s story. She was known to her family as “Joshua,” and she had killed herself.

A pre-published letter appeared online. In the letter she eloquently explained why she was going to end her life in more emotional detail. While certainly many other young people had ended their lives before her, Leelah’s account of what she had endured was unprecedented.

In doing so, Leelah transformed from the latest tragedy to one that emblazed into the consciousness of a mass audience. Her plead to “make her death matter” resonated.

Authored By Rob Watson – See the Full Story at LGBTQ Nation

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Leelah Alcorn’s Heartbreaking Last Words

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

We have to find better ways to reach kids like this.

Leelah AlcornIf 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 tumblr_nh42atfkcv1tddhzxo2_500I’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.


(Leelah) Josh Alcorn