|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on December 5, 2012 at 9:30 AM||comments (1)|
Well folks, I am on vacation this week! I am so excited for some time to recharge and get refocused ahead of the new year.
The last month has been busy for the Collaboration. We were involved in speaking at 3 seperate events, plus involved in putting on the Transgender Day of Rememberance: A Gathering of Hope. All the events were great and a great opportunity to get back into the community after a few months off.
We've had issues with our leadership having proper internet access, but I should be back to having access this month, which will mean regular posting from me again!
Much like me with my vacation, we have been using this down time for the collaboration to recharge. 2012 has been a great first full year for the Collaboration, and we are getting ready and prepared for an awesome 2013!
Hope you all are doing great today!
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on September 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM||comments (0)|
By: Jena S Lewis
So the ever famous Southern Comfort conference is happening right now in Atlanta. As someone who has been working throughout my transition and beyond I have never been able to afford to go.
How about you do you have any stories to tell about Southern Comfort?
A genderqueer friend of mine and I debated and spoke at length about the levels of "transgender privilege" and how to some extent (their argument not mine) transition was a privilege ONLY for the rich and lucky.
Could Southern Comfort be seen as an extension of that privilege? I know I for one have always had desire to go but never the means, and I am sure there are way more trans people in the boat than are filling the hotels in Atlanta. What do you think?
We want to hear from you. What do you think?
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on July 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM||comments (0)|
By M Kelley
I first started coming out over 4 years ago. As someone 4 years on the other side of the closet, I would like to just briefly share a bit of personal advice today.
Things can take time. It really sucks, but patience is so important in journeying with your friends and family. They have to journey to understanding and acceptance just as you journeyed for yourself. While you shouldn't put up with transphobic attitudes, it is important to walk them down the path to acceptance. I have found that the friends and family that I spend the time and effort to walk through things, generally come around to the positive even if they start out unsure.
And this rule applies in more ways then one. Life is something that requires patience. It's a lesson that I am learning the rough way in my job search.
So that's just some brief encouragement from me for your day. Keep your head up, and keep pressing on.
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on July 12, 2012 at 8:15 AM||comments (0)|
By M Kelley
As faithful readers may know, I am in the middle of a lengthy job search. I had been looking nation wide for work in a church or non-profit. However I recently began looking for jobs with regular hours locally in order to invest more time and energy in to the Collaboration, while also being able to pay the bills. I am now currently in the process of being interviewed for a position at a bank.
Now, for all the non-profits and churches I applied at, it was clear in my resume that I was transgender. However, in filling out forms for jobs online, I need to put in what is still my legal information. So I had to apply at this bank with my legal male information. Whenever it gave the optional gender question I've generally clicked "do not wish to disclose", but still they are assuming I am male.
I have done some research, and the bank scored a 90 on the HRC LGBT Friendly Business Scale. They do prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. So, I am faced with a debate- Do I tell them right away? Do i go in and get to know the place, then come out? I would like this to be a job where I am free to express my female gender identity, but at the same time I just need to pay the bills right now and don't want to risk not getting the job.
I think similar situations have probably happened to many transgender individuals, especially those who do not have a legal paperwork change. I am hopeful that the recent EEOC ruling against Transgender Discrimination in the work place will bring about some change, but especially in the land of conservative West Michigan, change is slow to come. Oh well , I shall push on in making everything work out if I do get the job.
What are your thoughts or advice?
Disclaimer: Blogs are the personal work and opinions of their respective authors
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on July 5, 2012 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
The 4th of July was yesterday, and it got me thinking about the fact that it has been over 4 years since I first stepped out of the closet. Since I first began to embrace the freedom that is coming out of the closet.
I remember the fear and pain that kept me in the closet, that kept me from embracing my identity. When I did start coming out, I was petrified, and hardly felt that things would go well. But here I stand 4 years later to tell you that coming out was the right choice. And an incredibly freeing choice.
Living a life of freedom to your identity is so much better than living the lie that I had portrayed for so long. I am glad that I have embraced my independence from the closet. Life is better on the other side of the closet. I am so thankful for the freedom to truly be myself, instead of hiding in shame. I am so thankful for all the wonderful people who have been there for me along this journey as well.
If you are there, in the closet, peering out the door, know that there are many people out there to support you and help you make these steps. Find them and find a way to begin embracing your personal freedom in your identity! Come out and be free!
TEC Blog Disclaimer: All Blogs are the personal opinions of their respective authors.
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on June 30, 2012 at 4:30 AM||comments (0)|
One of the biggest personal issues we experience as transgender people is dysphoria. Dysphoria, for those who do not know or fully understand, is the extreme depression caused by the disparity between our bodies and our minds. My mind tells me, for instance, that I'm supposed to be gently curvy, with a smooth face, narrow shoulders and ribs, with female genitalia. However, when I look in the mirror - or, really, am in any other way harshly reminded - I see that what my mind tells me isn't necessarily how things are. I'm not curvy at all, unless you count carrying my weight in my belly (a typically male place) instead of my hips, thighs, and butt (more typically feminine). My face still has some stubborn hair on it that has grown back since my last round of laser hair removal, and sometimes causes "beard shadow" to appear on my face. My shoulders and ribs are too wide for a typical cisgender woman, and makes fitting into tops cut for a more hour-glass shaped figure difficult. It should go without saying that external genitalia on a woman such as myself causes some ... issues... of its own.
Being reminded socially also causes dysphoria. For instance, if one were to call me "sir" or "mister," or - heaven forbid - use my old name, I would quickly become dysphoric. I would feel even more trapped and confined by the body that does not fit me and does not represent me at all. I would feel ugly, and unfit to be viewed by the people around me. If my dysphoria got bad enough, I would possibly harm myself, and consider ... more permanent options for releasing myself from the bounds of my body, to make the pain go away. Ultimately, freeing ourselves from dysphoria is the single driving reason for our transitions - I live as a woman because I cannot stand to spend another minute as a man. Not because I wanted to. Not because I'm doing this for kicks, or to freak people out, or because I just think girls are so pretty that I wanted to be one. I FLED from the pain of being expected to act like a man.
This quick, violent spiral of depression and anxiety is not something that most cisgender people truly understand, sadly. They can't. I can describe to someone all day long what dysphoria feels like, and they'll still never really KNOW what it's like. It doesn't compare to your standard "body issues." Plenty of people are uncomfortable with their bodies, sure. Very few of those people, however, are willing to commit suicide to make the pain and uncertainty stop.
... And that's OKAY!
We know you can't possibly understand. That's why it hurts us so much when you say, "I know how you feel." If we're complaining about our bodies, please understand one basic fact : the discomfort you feel about your body - having a little extra around the middle, your teeth not quite being straight or white, your shoulders being a tad too big for your frame, your breasts not being full enough for a top - does not even remotely compare to dysphoria.
Hearing this serves as a reminder of all the privilege I don't have. When cisgender girls roll out of bed in the morning, they'll be identified as women. Without makeup, without clothes to help accentuate or disguise their shapes, without having to shave anything, people will look at them and say, "this girl over here." When they're intimate with their partners, they don't need to think, "will they reject me because I don't have the appropriate bits for my gender?" When they walk into a restroom, they don't need to watch their back, and pay extra attention to the reactions of others in that room, because if they get misgendered, they might be beaten or killed.
In short, hearing the words, "I know how you feel," or anything akin to it, is like walking up to someone who survived hurricane Katrina, and saying, "I know how you feel. Sometimes it rains where I live too." As trans people, we don't need you to understand. In fact, anyone experiencing dysphoria probably doesn't WANT you to understand how horrible that pain can be. We just need you to appreciate that we ARE hurting, and we will need your support and love to get through it.
So, instead of trying to make the person's dysphoria seem small in comparison, by saying, "I know how you feel... sometimes I get a bit of hair on my upper lip," try saying something like, "I'm sorry. I know your facial hair really bothers you. I want you to know I think you're beautiful, though, no matter what hair you might have on your body." We'll thank you for not trying to appropriate our pain and anguish.
Lastly, don't be afraid to ask HOW you can help. Some may just ask to be held as they cry. Some may want you to help take their minds off of the pain. Many of us won't know, but at least you've put the power in our hands, in a moment when we feel most powerless.
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on June 26, 2012 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
By M Kelley
I recently graduated seminary. So, I have a Masters degree. Yet I am currently looking at a bright future in...retail. I have been looking for work, but like many LGBT individuals, we often have less options available to us. This can be especially the case for Transgender individuals.
Job searching is complicated for everyone. But as transgender individuals, we have to deal with the potential that our legal information that is often requested on applications does not match up with our appearance. What if they request employment history from jobs that know you under a different name?
And what about those of us who are non traditional in our expression of our identities? I personally identify as female, but I am not planning on following the traditional transitioning path. Where does that leave me when looking for work? I have to explain to potential employers about my identity and my desired gender expression.
And it doesn't really help that I am looking for work in a Church...which leaves me with a vary narrowed down group of Churches to look at.
I am hopeful that I will find work eventually, but I know of so many other transgender individuals who are struggling, or are forced in to sex work to survive. These should not be our options. We should have avenues to success. Discrimination should not be an option. We just want to live.
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on June 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM||comments (0)|
Today we introduce one of our new regular guest bloggers. We are excited to be featuring new bloggers!
Hi, everybody! My name is Sara Jakubowski. I'm a 32 year old transgender woman, living in the Metro Detroit area. I've been living full time in a female role since April of 2011, so in a lot of ways, I'm still discovering new things about living life on the other side of the gender-line.
For that last year since I've gone "full time," I've been keeping a blog of my experiences, at www.suddenly-sara.com. Now, the good people here with the Transgender Education Coalition have asked me to join forces with them, which I agreed to readily! I'd like to thank them for the opportunity to be a regular feature here on this site.
It's always a bit difficult being handed a deadline, and being told, "Write something." I'm certainly not saying this as a knock to the wonderful people here with TEC; quite the contrary, such a request shows a lot of trust in my creativity and clarity as a blogger. That said, it's something I struggle with my own blog, and again with this one. Often, I look for inspiration for topics around me. Some of the most seemingly unrelated things can get me to thinking about how my life as a transgender woman is effected by them, and those trains of thought often turn themselves magically into blog posts.
I'm actually writing this on June 19th. Today is my 8th wedding anniversary. My wife and I have not been together for 2 years now - some would argue we haven't been "together" for much longer than that, but that's a whole different story. I mused, though, that I had entirely forgotten about today having any significance, and how June used to be such a meaningful month for me. My coworker asked me a rather insightful question as I mused : "Do you think you'd be the woman you are today without her support?" I was immediately able to answer, "No."
There is quite a bit one could say on the subject of my ex, and my relationship with her. We certainly had our fair share of problems, and I often wonder when - not if - we would have divorced even if I had been cisgender. In spite of those problems, though, she was always supportive of me and my gender variation. Even when I had no idea where any of this was going, and I thought I just liked wearing pretty things, she was supportive. I would even go so far as to say, when I first told her that I liked dressing as a woman that fateful Halloween party, and that I'd like to maybe do that more often, the very fact that she was accepting right at that moment shaped my entire future. If she'd have told me she was uncomfortable with my dressing in female clothing, or worse, called me a freak, I would have shoved Sara back in the closet so far she'd have suffocated! It might have been years - decades - before I let her back out, if ever again. In many ways, Sara was conceived the very second my wife nodded thoughtfully and said, "I can deal with that. Okay."
That was only step one, of course. Recreational crossdressing doesn't quite compare to hormones, surgery, and living full time in this gender role. There was a long process of self-discovery that she was at my side for, as well. When I was paralyzed with fear, having come so far and realizing that I needed to transition if I was ever going to be happy again, she was the one that encouraged me to seek help, and motivated me to make that change. Ultimately, she put my happiness and well-being before her own. She helped me live.
In retrospect, every single person that didn't balk at my coming out to them was a significant point in my transition. Every person who showed support, told me I was beautiful, made an effort to use my female name and female pronouns, who lent me clothes, gave me makeup tips, and most importantly, every single shoulder I cried on along the rocky path to womanhood helped me live. There is no doubt in my mind, I would not be the woman I am today without my allies cheering me along the way.
So, my lesson to the cisgender community is this : You may be weirded out by all of this. You may think you're losing the guy or girl you've known all these years, and they're becoming someone you don't know. You may not understand. You may even object for personal reasons. None of that matters one bit. The support you show to a fellow human being today can literally count for life or death in the future. None of us go through this world alone, but it can sometimes feel like it. Loving and accepting someone for who they are, and genuinely being there for them can change lives.
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on June 20, 2012 at 8:20 AM||comments (0)|
By M Kelley
This weekend we had the privilege of tabling at West Michigan Pride. It was actually the first Pride month event that I have ever been able to make it to, so I was really excited. Turnout was great, though things got cut short by rain. It was really great getting to interact with a lot of new people, and hopefully many of them are stopping by the site. It was also a great chance for us to roll out our new effort to offer trainings for businesses and groups! There is a lot of really exciting stuff going on with the Collaboration!
I think it is important for the Transgender community to be represented during Pride month. So often it just becomes focused on the "GLB", so it is important for transgender individuals to be present to represent the T. And we should have pride in ourselves, because we have endured the challenge of being honest with ourselves and others. We should have pride because we are challenging the way people think. We should have pride because we are unique and special. We should have pride because we should be proud of our journeys. I am proud of the Transgender community this month, and every month!
|Posted by Transgender Education Collaboration on June 14, 2012 at 4:00 PM||comments (0)|
A few times this week I have been left simply thinking, "Seriously?!" at some blatant Transphobia.
Our first story comes courtesy of Carmen Carrera. Carmen, who recently came out as transgender, and has been using her popularity to spread Transgender education, has taken part in a few TV shows, as a way to help educate. She was invited on Cake Boss (on TLC), and was told she would have a chance to educate people about being Transgender. However, once the edit was aired, it turned out that the producers had used her in a "that's a man" scenario similar to Jerry Springer. She was also called it by a cast member on twitter. Seriously? When did people forget about respecting the basic humanity of other people? No one should be called an it! And it makes me sick to think that this show took advantage of her like that.
Then today I stumbled upon this piece discussing an attack on the hearing for a Transgender Inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Law. These individuals, who claim to care so much for good morals apparently forgot the part about loving your neighbor. They perpetuate hate and ignorance under the guise of morals.
So you know what, we have our work cut out for us. Things are really messed up still. We all like to talk about how "this is the 21st century", but guess what? A major part of society is still horribly transphobic. Transgender and gender variant people are still seen as freaks. So folks, lets get fighting for common decency and respect.