Tag Archives: Transgender

WIN your gender? The New Normal at HOT 89.9

Innovative radio station HOT 89.9 in Ottawa, ON is hosting a “contest” with a prize of $40,000 in cash.  That’s 40 thousand frickin’ dollars, to spend as you see fit.

the new normal

Entries are open to Canadian transgender residents who are wanting to, or in the process of, transitioning. I checked the fine print and there is no age limit, so you young folk don’t be discouraged!

This is such a great opportunity and I wish more people in these types of positions would consider adding something like this to their philanthropy work. (A  few years ago I had a similar idea for a ‘Win Your Gender’ gameshow, but yeah, that didn’t fly. Everyone I pitched it to looked at me like I had three heads, and they didn’t want to know a single one of them.) 

Get more info on The New Normal contest by listening to the HOT 89.9 radio announcement. (Click the Soundcloud button below.)

soundcloud-icon.jpg

To enter the contest, go to their site here, and download the question document and fill it out. Once done, email it to newnormal@hot899.com and then sit back with your fingers crossed.

Submission deadline is September 30, 2015.

Yay! for the opportunity to live the life you want. 🙂

 

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You’re an abomination of God… or not

Exciting news! My short story ‘Alba’s Tree’ was published on Commuterlit this morning. 🙂

alba's tree comment

For this short story I took the advice, “put your hero in a tree, throw rocks at them, and then get them down,” quite literally.

Why would someone throw rocks at Alba? Find out here, and be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the story.

albastree

Original image Photo credit: mripp / Foter / CC BY

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John Oliver and Transgender Rights: Everyone Poops

“It is no more OK to ask transgender people about their sex organs, then it would be to ask Jimmy Carter whether or not he’s circumcised.”

“Which by the way, he is.”

“Smooth like a boiled carrot.”

John Oliver spends just over 16 minutes delivering a sarcastically gritty commentary on Transgender rights in a why-can’t-I-articulate-the-pure-aweseomeness-that-flows-from-his-mouth kind of way.

Gender identity should be assumed and invisible in the same way that you identify as being alive.

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The biological basis for transgender – part one

Studies point to genetic triggers of atypical gender identity. (That’s fancy-schmancy talk for transgender people are born that way, and there’s proof.)

Unfortunately, nobody is listening. The social stigma attached to gender diversity implies that it’s simply a lifestyle choice. That one can simply choose to be a particular gender just because they feel like it. Perhaps on a whim. When the reality is, Lady Gaga was right, you were born that way.

lady gaga

And because being transgender (or gender atypical) is not something you can see with the naked eye, folks tend to assume it’s all in your head. For the last 4 decades, medical doctors have shipped gender atypical folks off to the psychologists and psychiatrists. These very same psychologists and psychiatrists have then assumed (without any scientific evidence) that it must be a mental illness. A disease of the mind. Which, of course, carries its own social stigma, making gender variance a wildly and socially unpopular condition. (Historically, this was not the case. Before our patriarchal society came into full effect, gender variance was accepted and often revered – but that’s a discussion for another day.)

By defining transgender as a mental illness, these mental health professionals have inadvertently shaped much of the entire medical establishments (as well as the general publics) views on gender variant individuals. There is a popular notion in politics that transsexuals are psychopathological sexual deviants. These folks will switch genders in order to follow you into a public restroom and catch you unaware with your pants down. (Yes, Senator Plett, I’m talking to you.) These same alarmists also argue that we are all psychosexually neutral at birth, and that gender identity/expression is something that is nurtured or chosen.  But seriously, who would choose to live their life labelled with a socially unpopular mental illness?

Brae Carnes on her Facebook page, protesting against Conservative Senator Don Plett's Bill C-279 amendment by taking selfies in washrooms that do not match her gender identity and presentation.

Brae Carnes on her Facebook page, protesting against Conservative Senator Don Plett’s Bill C-279 amendment by taking selfies in washrooms that do not match her gender identity and presentation.

Now, because this condition is still (today) diagnosed as a mental illness (Gender Dysphoria) as noted in the bible of modern psychiatry, the DSM-V  (Diagnostics & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, written by the American Psychiatric Association), nobody is looking at any scientific evidence of this phenomenon.  Medical doctors are not trained in gender variance (since it’s always been a “mental illness”) and mental health professionals (to whom this “disorder” currently belongs) don’t look at new medical science outside their area of expertise.

Remember female hysteria – the mental disorder attributed only to women? Yeah, it was in the DSM once too. Symptoms included emotional outbursts and various sexual urges. It was widely believed that women didn’t orgasm or enjoy sex, so any woman who exhibited these symptoms were either forced to enter an insane asylum or forced to undergo surgical hysterectomy. True story. (There’s a great movie on the subject here.) The American Psychiatric Association didn’t drop the term until the early 1950s, and actually, “hysterical neurosis” didn’t disappear from the DSM until 1980! (Vibrators were initially developed as a medical device to aid in the treatment of female hysteria.  <ahem> And in the 1950s, pornography became prolific with their use, thus shattering the long-held mental illness illusion. Hey, that’s right when the APA dropped the term, coincidence? Hmm.) I never thought I’d say this, but thanks porn.

hysteria_scene

scene from the 2011 movie, Hysteria.

There are some researchers out there trying to get to the bottom of it, and so far, all of these studies point to biological origins of transgender. The proof is hidden in your genes.

I decided to do some research to make sense of the studies. The first questions that popped into my head had to do with fetal development. My own transgender daughter was born prematurely at 26 weeks gestation, and I can recall the specialists telling me these bizarre (and off-handed) little factual remarks, like, all biological males born before 27 weeks are left-handed.  At the time, I chalked it up to mysteries of the womb. Partly because that sounded like a cool sci-fi show, but mostly because I didn’t really care why. But now, I want to know more.

fetus-development

My artistic skills – straight from my research journal notepad

The first interesting tidbit I came across in my research was that all developing embryos follow a “female blueprint” for the 1st several weeks of development. Some folks will try to tell you that this isn’t true, that all humans are biologically neutral at birth, and they would be correct if by neutral they mean female. You only need to look as far as your nearest nipple for the proof. Men’s nipples are equipped with both nerves and blood vessels, thanks to the first 2 months of gestation. (Don’t believe me? Pinch one. Did he say ow?) Further evidence comes in the form of the raphe line on his scrotum. It’s a scar, from where his vagina sealed up. OK, so it wasn’t quite a vagina yet, but the opening was there. It sealed up around the same time that his clitoris grew out into a penis and his ovaries dropped down into testicles.

So what happens to determine the biological sex? After about 60 days, the hormone testosterone kicks up for most of those with a “Y” chromosome – changing the genetic activity of the cells in the genitals and the brain. (I say kicks ‘up’ instead of ‘on’ because folks assume that testosterone is a ‘male’ hormone, but that’s another unfortunate term, as every single human body produces all three hormones; estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.)  The changes to the genitals begin right away based on genetic instruction (“If Y is present then turn left, if no Y is present then continue straight ahead”), but the organizing effects of sexual hormones and differentiation in the brain doesn’t occur until the second half of pregnancy. That means that the genital-sex and brain-sex processes are independent of each other and chronologically separated during fetal development. And that’s fancy-schmancy talk for any number of things can go sideways and disconnect the two, and why wouldn’t they? Nature loves adversity. Maybe they were never supposed to match.

But sex ideology happens in the brain (as well as the genitals), and it happens during fetal development. This evidence would agree and support the Canadian Paediatric Society who have published that gender identity is fully established by the time a child is 18-30 months of age. And also, that it’s not a choice.

Are you still reading this? Hopefully you hung in there with me and found some of this interesting, and maybe even eye-opening. (And yes, I drew that picture of the baby, and yes, that’s the uterus it’s in and not actually resting peacfully on a wooden spoon.) I’m hoping that if we can help to ‘rein in’ some of the stigma attached to gender diversity, then I believe we’re one step closer to acceptance. Next time (in part two) I’ll share the brain-mapping and receptor gene evidence I’ve found. Until then, be hysterical, pinch some man-nipples, and share the knowledge. 🙂

 

 

 

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Do we need the government to tell us where to pee?

I promised myself I wasn’t going to blog about this. This topic makes me so crazy in a fierce and nothing-good-can-come-of-it sort of way. The very idea that our politicians are squabbling over public toilet use in the house of commons and throughout the senate is so moronic—that I didn’t want to add my energy to the ridiculousness of it. But I just can’t help myself anymore. Every day that passes, the more the fear mongering soars to extremely dangerous levels. And the more it pisses me off. Remember when this was the only bathroom debate?

the great debate

If you’re in Canada, we’re talking about Bill C279. When the Bill was first introduced, I was one of many who had written a letter that was read in front of council. And the bill was passed successfully about two years ago as Federal Law. And then recently, Senator Donald Plett and his outliers introduced an amendment which would effectively make the bill useless. You can catch up on that here. If you’re in the U.S., 17 states and more than 200 cities have passed laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity already, while the current fight is underway in Florida, Texas, and Kentucky—each of which have introduced bills to make it illegal for individuals to use the bathroom they identify with—if it doesn’t match the biology they were assigned at birth. You can catch up on the goings on here.

The core argument against allowing people to use whatever restroom they identify with is the same regardless of which soil you reside on. It suggests one of paramount safety for women who identify as women and who were also born with a vagina. (Affectionately referred to as cisgender.) The family action group in Canada states that Bill C279 will be allowing sexual predators to go unnoticed in the ladies room and will also offer them legal defense after they have perpetrated their crimes against the ‘cissies’. Essentially, they are fighting for the right to discriminate.

To these people I say, WTF? No, seriously, WTF? How can you know this will happen? When Rosa Parks infamously moved to the centre of the bus, was she plotting to sneak up on the unsuspecting white folks and assualt them in their seats? Or was she making a spontaneous stand on the law of segregation and inequality? She just wanted to ride the bus gosh dang it… and sit where she was most comfortable to sit.

rosa parks

My rage about this topic remains the same as it first did in my letter to council a few years ago:

As the parent of a 14-year-old transgender female in the Hamilton community, I’m deeply saddened by the on-going debate over the use of a public toilet.

Unfortunately, the issue is not as black and white as most on the side of segregation would believe. We’re not talking about boys using girls’ toilets and girls using boys’ toilets and the safety therein. We’re talking about people taking action to deliberately promote prejudice against transgender and transsexual Canadians by equating them with sex offenders and pedophiles. As a mother, I’m sickened and outraged that members of my own community (where I have worked, volunteered, supported, and raised my children) would take pause to consider my child a deviant for using a public toilet that she identifies with to answer nature’s call while out in our community.

Labelling every girl born with a penis and every boy born with a vagina as a drug-addicted, low-income, loud-mouthed criminal and/or potential pedophile is a prejudiced and tired stereotype that is detrimental to the very livelihood of our community. Instead of perpetuating this prejudice, we need to spend our energies educating each other on the realities of medical misnomers and the evolution of gender non-conformity. We need to stop bickering about what’s yours and what’s mine and what’s his and what’s hers and instead focus on what’s ours. And while we’re at it, we need to mind our own business and stay out of the genitalia of those around us.

It is critical to remember that anyone who is born “different” or doesn’t meet “normal” identity criteria (as assessed and judged by those who deem themselves the measurement of “normal”) must hurdle bullying, hate, ignorance, disrespect, harassment and outright violence every day of their lives. That means special needs, race minorities; religious affiliations, sexual orientation and personal gender identity are triggers for hate crimes and extradition from the acceptance of the community. Including the denial of the most basic of human output—the use of a public toilet.

Here’s what I can tell you about the transgender person in the public restroom with you:

  •  They are in there to use the toilet. Just like you.
  •  They will lock their cubicle door because they are shy and modest. Just like you.
  •  They have no interest in what you’re doing in there, in fact, they are more afraid of you then you are of them. How do I know this? They are expecting your hate, judgment and harassment—as it is given to them so freely every day of their lives—and they are uncomfortable with the anticipation of it. They will do their business and get out in order to avoid you.
  •  Their safety is more at risk then yours. Do your homework, over 90% of rapists and pedophiles are married, white men. Not trans, not gay or lesbian or questioning, or anything else you don’t understand. There is absolutely no indication or burden of proof that laws allowing transgender or transsexual people to use the restroom they are most comfortable with will result in an increase in sexual perpetration. In fact, the opposite may be true. My 14-year-old daughter would be at risk for severe violence if she were forced to use a men’s room.
  •  It’s none of your business what the genitalia of the person in the cubicle next to you looks like. Genitalia are private. There are no gender checks, no DNA scans, and in most instances, you won’t even be able to tell who’s who.

As long as we have public conveniences, ANYONE should be able to use ANY public convenience, regardless of gender, race, or religion, provided that they are using it ONLY for its intended purpose. Trans are not deviants any more than a Muslim or Korean immigrant is. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, wives and husbands. They are all ages—including children. They live in all parts of the city, and are living their lives in all social circles and at all levels of financial success. Why not turn our community into a giant summer festival where the only trouble we have with a restroom is the line up?

portable toilets

Let’s invest our energies in an evolution that will support all walks of life. Let’s set an example for our children. Let’s stop the prejudice and stereotypes. Let’s just let a toilet be a toilet.

If you’re a ‘cis-woman’ and have ever used the empty men’s room to avoid an embarrasing accident, this bill in Florida, Texas, and Kentucky (if passed) will prohibit you from ever doing it again legally in those states. So resign yourself to this:

women's line

I’d also like to take a moment to clear something else up. Not every trans female looks and acts like Frank N Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Some do, but most of them already hate themselves for it enough on their own—they don’t need your hate to feel bad about themselves. (Perhaps if they had been accepted by their families in their youth or not pressured into conversion therapies wasting years of their lives in confusion and denial, things may have been different for them.)

frank furter

I’m focusing on the children, which this bill and all that it stands for affects with its broad stroke. Amnesty International reported that, “In a recent nationwide survey, 74 per cent of Canadian transgender youth reported experiencing verbal harassment in school, and 37 per cent reported experiencing physical violence.”  Bullying is already a crime. Physical violence is already a crime. So who is getting away with the crime right now? And let’s take a look at how this will play out on the flipside. There’s so much talk about men dressing as women to get away with murder in a public toilet, how are all of these conservatives (read family action group types) going to feel when a trans man (born with a vagina) is in the ladies room with their young daughters? I mean, that’s what they want, that’s what they’re fighting for.

we just need to pee

But this is the reality. #WejustNeedtoPee. Most people you would never know anyway. These are just a few of the trans female faces of teens below. One of them is my daughter. Scary, right? I mean, seriously, you better hide your children from these delinquents. (sarcasm intended.) But imagine for one moment, these young girls in the men’s room.

the-real-deal

Also, I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but some of these radical group members that are fighting for the right to segregation and prejudice are fabricating stories and/or quoting would be ‘experts’ and releasing them to the media in order to convince you of their cause. This infuriates me. It’s not just a twist of the truth, it’s a complete and total fabrication. They are ruining young lives (and in some instances ending them) for the sake of their crusade. Some media outlets no longer fact check their sensational journalism. But there are sites dedicated to fact checking stories like this, so please, if you hear of or read a story, make sure you cross-vet it with other sites and the parties involved before you form an opinion. Even a simple tweet can require verification.

Please, people, just stop for a moment, take a deep breath and remember… the earth used to be flat. Until it wasn’t.

Flush bigotry down the toilet where it belongs.

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The secret transgender games

The older I get, the less patience I have. Or is it less tolerance? Maybe it’s both. Let me clear something up…

I’m just your every day Jane. I work for a living and raise my family pretty much like everyone else. I have bills to pay, dishes to do, and dog poo to pick up.  The fact that my daughter is transgender is kind of a non-issue. We help others when we can, with questions, suggestions for resources and those sorts of things, but we don’t have a show that we take on the road or anything like that. We’re not this odd entity that is different from the rest of the families who are working for a living and picking up dog poo. There are no secret transgender games going on behind our closed door. Disappointing, I know.

transgender-cereal

We are not keeping secrets from you (unless you’re the government and/or I owe you money), and there is no mysterious secret transgender life. You see, there is nothing really to tell. Unless you want to hear about how we argue over her lack of time-management skills with homework assignments, or how I’ve asked her for the 1,oooth time to pick up those dirty clothes, or maybe you’re interested in the endless hours she’s logged creating a virtual world in the Sims4?  Sound kind of teenagerish? That’s because it is.

She goes to school every day. It’s a regular public highschool. It’s not a school for the transgender. She wears 16-year-old clothes—jeans, leg warmers, sweaters, t-shirts, boots with heels higher than I would like—the kind that were bought at a regular old store. Not a store for the transgender. Sometimes she wears her hair up in a ponytail clip that we got at Walmart. Not the Walmart that is specifically for transgender, but the one just down the road—it’s closer. She occasionally wears cola-flavoured Chapstick, not the transgender flavoured kind. (I think that might be a special order item anyway.)

trans cake

And while we don’t play the transgender games, there are folks around us that are constantly trying to suck us in to theirs, but we resist. We refuse to let others define us.

Last week a new student started at my daughter’s school for semester 2. She is also a transgender girl and the teachers (in their infinite wisdom) thought the two should meet.

You know, because they’re the same.

Oddly though, they don’t introduce dark-skinned students to each other. Something like, “Hey Tyrone.. yeah, come meet our new student DeShawn, he just transferred here and you two should meet because, well, you’re both black.

wtf face

Also, I’m pretty sure there are a couple of kids with diabetes that go to the very same school and they have yet to be introduced.  An oversight maybe? And while I’m dragging you down into this hot mess of politically incorrect fuckery—do I even need to mention the plus-sized students? They certainly don’t get pulled aside to meet each other. Well, obviously, ’cause that’s just plain wrong.

Here’s the thing. Don’t label us. Actually, don’t label anyone. I know you’re trying to do a good thing, your heart is in the right place. But sometimes one step forward… is two steps back. Focus on making our communities a safe, positive space that is inclusive for everyone. Different skin colours, religions, and yes, those with diabetes (those poor souls) and the trans, and non trans, and yes, those struggling with weight issues… ’cause we’re all mixed up in this great big world together. Let people seek out other people on their own terms. And because they have more things in common than some label thrust upon them through social cataloging.

I may just be grouchy today, but, whatever. (Oh, and apologies to all of the Tyrones and DeShawns out there… you don’t have to be friends.)

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Seriously, go tell your sprogs.

birth announcement

 

“Last week, my daughter sat me down and explained that I didn’t actually have a daughter, I instead have a son.
I could tell he was nervous – but I do hope that he already knew that it wouldn’t change a single thing about our relationship except for the pronouns we use.
Actually, ALL children should know that. In an ideal world, it would be a profound and fundamental truth that they know in their bones. The one unshakeable gravity-fact they carry with them forever. If you haven’t actively told yours that you will love and support them, no matter what.. That their sexuality and gender expression are entirely irrelevant to the way you feel about them and treat them. Then you need to stop reading this right now and go and tell your sprogs.

Seriously.. Go tell them now.  It’s okay, I’ll wait. Stare deep in to their eyes in that way that makes them really uncomfortable so that they know that you mean it. ” – Kai’s mum.

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