TQ Apology: Official Statement In Response To Yesterday’s Post About Jared Leto

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Harmony Santana at the Independent Spirit Awards

After reading the numerous comments, I realized that yesterday’s post cut deep and that was not my intention. The analogy of “childish” and “whiny” was not appropriate and the message was completely lost. For that I apologize with a grieved heart.

I was siding with trans woman Calpernia Addams in my stance; however, my tone was abrasive. I could have worded it all in a different fashion, in a way that would not be misinterpreted as being disrespectful.

I was dismayed at what many of you believe was the message and my belief system from my post. I have countless friends who are trans women and I have been an advocate for this community since 2007…seven years ago. To say that I’m a transmisogynist couldn’t be farther from the truth. I sincerely apologize if that is how my words came across.

I grew up acting and have been in several films as an extra or stand in. I am familiar with that industry and very familiar with acting in general. Some of you are very upset at the character of Rayon and the representation of trans women in Jared Leto’s performance in Dallas Buyers Club.

Try to please consider another perspective for just a moment, whether you agree or not. Rayon is nothing more than a character. Yet, I know as a community whole, we are much farther back than we want to be in this fight, and we truly are wanting a positive refection of who we are as we move forward.

I remember being upset at the movie Monster and how the main lesbian character was portrayed. Yet, I realized, it is one movie. I had to shake off the thought process that society was going to think all lesbians were serial killing psychopaths. I had to remind myself that Charlize Theron did her best to play that role, even though she is a straight female, and many other lesbian-actresses should have been given that opportunity. So, yes, I can reflect back and see how a trans woman could feel about Rayon in DBC. I am thankful for the many movies before and after that portrayed lesbians in a positive light.

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Janet Mock – People.com openly transgender editor

In one comment, I was told I must have been too young to remember the same backlash with the movie Boys Don’t Cry. Ironically, I was 20 years old when that came out and instead of viewing the character of Brandon Teena in any negative light, it actually helped me see someone in a film that was transgender and felt the same way I did. Until that time, I didn’t even know that was possible for a female to transition to a male which could be stemmed from my humble beginning in the southern state of Alabama. If that movie had not been made, I would have been clueless for around 5 more years.

The role of Rayon was originally written as a transvestite. Perhaps, Leto should have kept it as such instead of trying to embrace Rayon as a trans woman. I’ve heard both sides from trans women that Leto either pulled it off and did great or was just a man in a dress.

It appears one of the arguments I heard the most was that a trans woman should have played that role, not a cis-male. Yet, I also heard that the character itself was flawed and a poor representation for trans women. 

As a trans male, I started to dig deep. I can see the sensitivity concerning the mountain we are climbing and roles like Leto’s seemingly taking us leaps backwards in society’s view of trans women. I’m thinking maybe that is what should have been truly voiced as the backlash. That is a very valid point to speak out about.

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Isis King – transgender model from America’s Next Top Model

The one part that truly upset me and sparked yesterday’s post, was the portion in the article about his failure to thank the trans community in his acceptance speech. Sure, that would have been very nice. My point was that I personally felt that one part of the backlash was petty. That was the part that made it appear we were just searching for everything we could possibly find that was negative. From my experience, when you focus on the main, valid points, you have a louder voice. When you add in the extras, so to speak, the main message can get drowned out. (please keep reading)

I love this community and want it to be best represented. My career is in Marketing and Public Relations so I spend every day learning what “works” and what doesn’t. My post yesterday didn’t work. My rooted message that got lost was an idea of something that I believe could work. I have faith that if we raise our voices on issues that educate others and open their eyes to our valid concerns, we will move forward.

You think a trans woman should have played the role of Rayon? You think the character of Rayon portrayed trans women in a negative light? That is valid. But, how is it best to respond? I don’t think attacking Jared Leto is the answer. The guy was hired to play that role and he did the best he could do. Get upset with the casting director. Not the actor. Get upset with the screenplay writer. Not the actor. You can’t get mad at the waitress serving you the food the chef cooked in the back of the kitchen. She is just doing her job, presenting the food the best she knows how to, but remember she isn’t the creator. Instead of backlashing the actor, I would suggest focusing on educating everyone that the character of Rayon was a poor representation of trans women and perhaps the part should have been re-written a bit differently when they decided to change Rayon from a transvestite to a transgender female, noting there is a definite difference between the two. This could have been a great platform to actually define the terminology under the transgender umbrella.

It is a belief, that was voiced, that trans woman are not receiving acting roles in Hollywood.

I’d like to share with you 21 transgender celebrities (20 are trans women) to show that we are working our way up the ladder of fame (and this is just the beginning):

1. Nina Poon – first transgender female to model in full page ads featured in Vanity Fair, Vogue, New York Times, and Marie Claire. Also was part of the show TRANSform Me.

2. Isis King – first transgender model to compete on the 11th cycle of America’s Next Top Model and she later appeared on the all-star edition as well.

3. Alexis Arquette – actress and musician, she has been a prominent transgender activist in Hollywood for years.

4. Chaz Bono – trans man who is now working as an actor in “Dirty” after finishing up a role on a theatrical stage in Los Angeles last December. He also appeared on Dancing With The Stars and his own documentary Becoming Chaz was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

5. Carmen Carrera – you first saw her on the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She has since openly transitioned, is a model, and is working her way to being a Victoria Secret angel.

6. Lana Wachowski – one of the famous siblings became the first major Hollywood director to come out as transgender in July 2012.

7. Lea T – Brazilian model who became a household name after Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci hired her as his fit model-personal assistant. He then used her in his 2010 ad campaign. She has since been featured in Vogue Paris and Interview.

8. Janet Mock – People.com editor who openly came out as transgender.

9. Amanda Lepore – NYC entertainer is one of the world’s biggest trans icons and is the muse of David LaChappelle.

10. Marci Bowers, M.D. – a pioneering surgeon who was the first trans woman to perform transgender transitional surgeries. She also performed Isis King’s surgery.

11. Candis Cayne – become the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character in prime time TV when she landed a role on Dirty Sexy Money. Candis has also appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Nip/Tuck and Necessary Roughness.

12. Jenna Talackova – originally booted from the Miss Universe Canadian pageant, but fought back and regained her spot in the competition and worldwide fame.

13. Laverne Cox – she entered the public spotlight when she competed on Vh1′s / Wanna Work For Diddy, making her the first African-American transgender woman to be on a mainstream reality TV series. She then went on to the show TRANSform Me and now is on the hit TV series, Orange Is The New Black

14. Jamie Clayton – transgender makeup artist who was on the TV show TRANSform Me.

15. Harmony Santana – transgender actress was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards for her performance in Gun Hill Road.

16. Stephanie Michelini – transgender actress who was cast in the film Wild Side. The film won the Teddy at the Berlinale and a clutch of other festival awards, including a Best Acress trophy for Michelini.

17. Alexandra Billings – first transgender actress to appear in a transgender role on American TV with roles on E.R. and Grey’s Anatomy among her credits.

18. Elizabeth Coffey – she played a transgender role in the iconic Pink Flamingoes and returned two years later to play a non-trans role for John Waters in 1974′s Female Trouble.

19. Calpernia Addams – after meeting Jane Fonda at Sundance, they together conceived the idea for an all-transgender production of The Vagina Monologues. Addams was later invited to perform in the 10th anniversary edition of the play alongside Fonda, Glenn Close and Salma Hayek. Addams was also Jared Leto’s advisor for his role of Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club.

20. Eva Robins – does consider herself more androgynous rather than transgender, yet she claimed her fame in Dario Argento’s horror film Tenebrae.

21. Bibi Anderson – transgender actress holds four credits in Almodovar feature films (not an easy task for any actress) in the late eighties and early nineties. 

…the list goes on. I hope that will give you some hope that indeed we are marching forward. 

Again, I apologize for my harsh tone yesterday and ask that you receive this post with a new understanding of where I was coming from. We can never all agree, and we shouldn’t, or else this would be a very boring world. Yet, we can say things in a loving way and I realize I failed to do so in that post.

For the few of you that left TQ Nation, I hope you return. Everyone is important and not just a number. That site has held strong in the community for 7 years. We all make mistakes. We have all worded things incorrectly. The best ending to the story is to forgive.

I have heard your responses and I hope you have received mine in a positive light.

I appreciate your time today in reading this.

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Jared Leto Wins Best Supporting Actor And The Backlash Begins

Jared Leto Rayon Dallas Buyers Club

Jared Leto / Rayon (Dallas Buyers Club)

The transgender community needs to grow up.

Yup, you heard me correctly. Childish behavior doesn’t get you very far in life, especially when it comes to positive recognition. I read an article today that ended up making me feel disgusted (as bold as that term is) about the response the trans community gave as feedback and “backlash” at Jared Leto’s Oscar-winning role as an HIV-positive transgender woman, Rayon, in Dallas Buyers Club.

The paragraph I got to that made me physically grimace was, “Outraged groups questioned why a straight, male actor had been chosen for the role and why he had neglected to thank the transgender community during his acceptance speech.” (click here to read full article)

Why, may I ask, are you looking for something WRONG…something to point a finger at, to debate, to mock, to be snide about? Why, may I ask, can you not simply see the POSITIVE fact that the role of a transgender-female won an Oscar?

Let me remind you…Hilary Swank is a straight, female actor who played Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry and won Best Actress. If a transgender person had played the role of Brandon or Rayon, an Oscar most likely would not have been won since it wouldn’t have been as difficult to embody the role of that character. If this is the case, does that mean someone who is gay should not play a straight person? Straight people should only play straight people? Do you see how ignorant this sounds?

“I have no interest in watching a cis [non-transgender] man in drag play a trans woman ever again,” Jos Truitt of Feministing wrote.

“No matter what Dallas Buyers Club does as a film, the narrative around this movie, the fact that a man in drag is playing a trans woman, perpetuates the stereotype that we are men in drag.”

Next, you are upset he didn’t thank the transgender community. Seriously?

Did you know that Jared Leto did in fact thank Calpernia Addams, his transgender advisor, in both his Independent Spirit Award and Oscar speeches? (click here to read full article)

This is starting to remind me of a whiny child throwing a temper tantrum and all you do is get highly irritated and annoyed. Perhaps, you’ve missed your nap time.

That, my dear friends, is what it looks like to the world around us. “Oh, there they go again. Finding something else to whine about. They are never happy…we could all vote in Chaz Bono as president and fault would be found. Offense would be taken.” 

How about being thankful for things instead of whining about them? How about an article about the transgender community in celebration after Jared Leto’s name was announced for Best Supporting Actor? How about a GLBT representative speaking out about how the roles in major films that portray the lives of transgender individuals is helping to educate and bring more awareness?

The more you whine, the more some of us in the community pull away. Why? We don’t want to be part of it. I don’t want to stand next to the kid in the aisle stomping his foot with a scowl on his face.

There are much more positive ways to gain attention to help forward the movement. Trust me.

Jared Leto and Calpernia Addams

Jared Leto and Calpernia Addams

Calpernia Addams so eloquently stated in her recent blog post, It’s hard being trans, more so in the era and circumstances of Dallas Buyers Club. I’ve known plenty of trans sex workers, self-medicators, wise teachers, hilarious weirdos and people taken before their time due to violence and lack of healthcare. I’ve known trans people very much like Rayon, and maybe if some people got up from their remote-activism-devices (computer screens and smartphones) and left their ivory towers and privilege-bubbles, they’d meet a few people like Rayon face-to-face, too.

Then they could see that a human portrayal of this real segment of the trans community is a good thing. Even if it’s by a non-trans person.

Please do hire trans actors for ANY role, especially trans roles. But please don’t shoot trans people in the foot by attacking allies willing to open the door for us as we approach equality.”

AMEN to that, sister!

The Advocate published an Op-ed by Calpernia Addams yesterday (3/5/14): In Defense of Jared Leto - Transsexual acting coach Calpernia Addams on trans roles in Hollywood
(click here to read full article)

I also encourage you to read the comments on Addams’ article. Here are some:

“Until yesterday, I was one of the transgender women voicing my objections to Jared Leto’s portrayal of Rayon in Dallas Buyer’s Club. During the Academy Awards telecast, I saw a short clip of his performance and I didn’t see the typical Hollywood stereotype of a transgender woman. After several conversations with friends, I did what I’d sworn never to do. Yesterday, I watched DBC and my objection to Leto’s portrayal of Rayon, disappeared. I didn’t see a stereotype. I saw a woman who feared dying. So I no longer have problems with the portrayal by Jared Leto, the actor. Do I have problems with Jared Leto, the person who calls himself and ally of transgender people, but cannot bring himself to say the word, transgender? Yes I do, but that is a very different issue from his portrayal of Rayon.” – Robin Frank

“Sorry, he’s been interviewed numerous times for months on end and has had no problem saying the word transgender. The part was originally written as transvestite, he CHOSE to play the character as a transgender woman. So there is no different issue, sorry. His Oscar speech was meant to encompass all people who are or feel marginalized because of their sexuality or gender identity… because the film was about the AIDS crisis in the eighties which was dismissed by the mainstream as a “gay cancer.” – Connie Munoz

“Connie Munoz You are correct- and last year on The View he corrected Barbara Walters about calling Rayon a “he” pronoun- and even gave a gender 101 that was amazing…he is amazing.” – Jennifer Barge

Of course, there are comments on both sides, which is the way it should be. We need objective opinions. If we all agreed, the world would be a very boring place indeed.

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The Superhero Within Us All

Superhero WithinToday, we’re going to get deep. I’m going to take you on a journey into the hidden corridors of your mind. I want you to find your inner superhero.

WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.

Our thoughts are more powerful than most people realize. Some of you have probably seen and/or read “The Secret” and are familiar with the Law of Attraction. Basically, what we think about is what we manifest in our own lives. Hence the concept, you are the architect of your destiny. EVERYTHING is energy. EVERYTHING has vibrations of that energy.

I grew up being told, “Be careful what you say because you can speak things into existence.” I agree 100% with this statement and perception. What you think about yourself, others, your environment, your circumstances…you are either manifesting positive or negative energy about these things.

What you believe about yourself…is true. Basically, if you believe you are attractive, witty, intelligent, a great cook, a terrific lover…then, that is how you will be perceived by others. You will send out this positive energy and vibrations and that is what will be received and sent back to you. This only works if you TRULY believe these things. On the reverse side, if you think you are unattractive and point out your flaws, compare yourself to others, focus on everything negative in your life…you are sending out negative energy and vibrations and that is what will be received and sent back to you. Never mind what is, imagine it the way you want it to be so that your vibration is a match to your desire.

Thoughts Become Things. What You Feel Now Is What You’re Going To Attract.

Something that hit me one day that was profound is that you cannot control what thoughts enter your mind, but you have control whether or not you choose to entertain those thoughts.

“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” – Albert Einstein

THE LITTLE BIG TEST.

To test this theory, I want you to spend one entire day pushing out negative thoughts and energy and see how people react to you and how your day goes. You may notice the traffic is worse, you have a huge pimple on the end of your nose, your boss yells at you and your cat decided your plant was the litter box. The following day, I want you to enforce and believe your world is great and your are greatness that radiates positive light and energy into the universe around you. See the difference in how people react to you and the series of events that occur that day. I even encourage you to leave a comment on what you experienced.

“You create your thoughts, your thoughts create your intentions, & your intentions create your reality.” – Wayne Dyer

TRANSGENDER: USING THIS METHOD.

Before you reach the phase of your transition where you feel you are “passing”, you might have a battle in your mind and this nervous feeling in your chest anytime you exit the safety of your home and venture out into the world around you. You go into Starbucks for your Venti Soy Salted Caramel Frap with no whip and the thought, “Is the cashier looking at me funny? Does she know I’m a guy, or do I look too feminine today? I knew I shouldn’t have worn this tight shirt…you can see my binder! Oh God…” And while your inward mind is speed racing through these thoughts, what exactly do you think your projecting outward? The cashier can feel your energy and knows something is “off” whether they realize it has to do with your gender or not. They feel negative vibrations.

I remember testing this years ago. I went to a restaurant and kept my mind in “fear mode” the entire meal and with every interaction with the server. I was called ‘ma’am’ without question…and, mind you, at the time I was passing most everywhere else. I didn’t say a word to the server and purposefully did not correct them. Two months later, wearing the same outfit, I went back into the same restaurant and by a stroke of luck got the same server. This time, I erased all thinking with my gender and instead focused on other topics with whom I was at dinner with: My job, their love interest (latest crisis), planning a weekend getaway…and of course, what I wanted to eat…’Did I want to try something new? How about the beef? Nah…red meat hits my stomach like a brick. Salmon? Hmm…better idea tonight. I brought mints…no worries of fish breath.’ The server all night long called me ‘sir’ without flinching, squinting or pausing.

TRUE STORY.

“We receive exactly what we expect to receive.” – John Holland

I-am-the-greatestSUPERMAN, BATMAN, SPIDERMAN, IRONMAN (MY FAVE).

You’re a superhero. You have powers. Envision what you want in life…who you want in your life…what you want to become…AND THEN, go ahead and speak things that aren’t as if they already are. Manifest, manifest, manifest, and manifest. Need a definition?

Manifest: (use it as a verb)  to display or show (a quality or feeling) by one’s acts or appearance; to demonstrate.

Also, very importantly, surround yourself with positive people who lift you higher. Put up a personal shield against anyone who tries to project their negative energy on you. Do NOT soak it in. Do NOT let anyone else define you. Do NOT entertain their same thoughts.

KNOW YOUR WORTH. KNOW YOUR VALUE. LIVE YOUR TRUTH. PERIOD.

“Science and psychology have isolated the one prime cause for success or failure in life. It is the hidden self-image you have of yourself. Self-image creates our paradigm, which creates our vibration which creates our results and circumstances in life.”

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 21,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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Trans Health Initiative Offering Hormone Replacement Therapy

Trans Health Initiative Offering Hormone Replacement Therapy

Fundraising efforts by local groups, the Atlanta Radical Faeries and the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, will be honored on May 19th at the First Existentialist Congregation in Candler Park from 5pm – 7pm.

ATLANTA – The Trans Health Initiative (THI) is pleased to announce the availability of Hormone Replacement Therapy to the transmasculine community. THI’s new coordinator, Sybastian Welch (a trans-identified man and advocate), and new Medical Director are committed to providing consistent and high quality health care. They reexamined protocols and integrated recommendations into the program to help realize the actual needs of the Trans-masculine community.

THI has offered sensitive and affordable health care to gender variant and intersex individuals since 2000. THI is a program of the Feminist Health Center’s Cliff Valley Clinic located at 1924 Cliff Valley Way NE in Atlanta.

The THI program seeks to reduce barriers to health care services and hormone replacement therapy for transmasculine individuals.  We offer sliding scale fees and relaxants or anesthesia for lower exams, colposcopies, biopsies and other medically necessary procedures that some clients feel may be emotionally and/or physically intolerable if they were awake.

THI follows the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association’s Standards of Care guidelines and is also informed by Medical Therapy and Health Maintenance for Transgender Men, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).  For more information about THI, please visit www.transhealthinitiative.org.

Fundraising by local queers groups helped provide necessary funding for services. The Intergalactic Love Affair (IGLA) is a community celebration-meets-fundraising event lovingly thrown together by the collaborative efforts of the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the Atlanta Radical Faeries. The event was conceived as an opportunity to unite the passion and creative powers of a group of friends toward raising funds for queer-minded organizations in the Atlanta community. In its inaugural year, all proceeds from IGLA went to YouthPride to shine a light on the issues facing young queers in our community. This year, the event highlighted an often overlooked group in our alphabet soup – the Atlanta transgender community – by donating 100% of funds raised from this year’s event to the Feminist Women’s Health Center (FWHC) and their Trans Health Initiative (THI).

The Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, order of the Flaming Sugarbakers are 21st century queer nuns dedicated to the manifestation of cosmic joy through freedom of expression, community outreach, social activism and charitable acts. Their manifest states, “We love expiating stigmatic guilt and spreading cosmic joy. We paint our faces to express the diversity in the community and by bringing our inside expressions out and to reflect the beauty of the people we meet and serve.” The Sisters have been in Atlanta since 2009 and delight in helping our communities through condom ministries, diverse fundraisers and promoting health awareness. They are first-line fighters in the campaign for universal human rights in the queer community.  For more information, visit http://atlsisters.org.

The Atlanta Radical Faeries are a very loosely aligned fellowship of friends, family, mutants, and misfits uniting countless queer sub-cultures to foment community through acts of radical self-expression, love, and compassion.

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Power & Control: How (not) to be a Man

Time to get a grip on how we react.

In just a few moments of your time today, I would like to help you redefine your perception of how we should be as men…to our partners, families, friends, workplace and community. To some, this will not be an epiphany as they read along. To others, I hope it opens your eyes.

Recently, I was provided a list of actions that are considered “abusive” behavior. As I scanned the list, I was amazed at some of the items…considering, most people I know would be abusive per this list. I then saw a bigger picture and reality. If the majority of us do things that hurt others, the effect we are having on them always finds a way to come back full circle.

“Life is like an echo. What we send out, always comes right back.” – Chinese Proverb

 

I am personally guilty of some of these abusive behaviors. I have nothing to hide and I hope you can learn some things from my own experiences.

We do not think of ourselves as abusers because we JUSTIFY or MINIMIZE our actions due to the actions of the other person. What we need to realize is WE CANNOT CHANGE our partners, we can only change ourselves and be accountable for what WE do. It doesn’t matter if they are calling you names, you don’t have to call names back. I have come to a point in life where I think that those who fight the hardest to win an argument are truly the biggest losers.

We as men need to create SAFETY, not have a persona of stopping whatever behavior threatens our “authority” – we see aggression as being a natural part of being a man, and that our “superior status” gives us the right to use that aggression to dominate and control women..and others.

DO NOT BLAME YOUR T-SHOTS. Be accountable for your actions. I have been on T now for 5 months and I have not once blamed anything I have said or done on T. Do I feel more assertive? Sure! Yet, that is no excuse or justification to be an asshole.

We need to be loving, supportive and respectful. We need to be self-less, not selfish in our motives, thoughts and actions. We need to have integrity and be role models to our future generations.

It is NOT okay to lose our cool and have short fuses. I have been practicing this while driving. Where I live is NUTS with traffic and most people that live here shouldn’t have a drivers license. Lately, when someone cuts me off and I feel the urge to wave my Italian arm in the air and yell out, “You stupid idiot!!!!”, I now honk my horn and keep my mouth shut. Oh, and I have stopped honking my horn for, like, 5 minutes at the person. I had a wonderful habit of doing that. I’d get really fired up and lay on my horn for an uncomfortable amount of time. FACT: I have cut people off and most of the time it has been unintentional and I felt awful about it. Who’s to say these people just didn’t see me? We are human. We make mistakes. We need to realize this, stop stressing out, and move on.

FOR HEALTH’S SAKE:

High stress increases your blood pressure, increases cortisol (hormone that adds tummy fat), and makes your body more at risk to be unhealthy. Stress is not healthy. It is the precursor for many horrible things you don’t want.

To top that off, when we react instead of respond, we put the other person’s health at risk.

KIDS WILL BE KIDS?

You can listen in on a typical day at the playground and hear kids bullying other kids who aren’t aggressive or dominant and show more signs of passivity. They pick on them and call them all sorts of names like “faggot”, “wuss”, “p*ssy”, to demoralize them. Notice, most names these young boys are called usually relate to women. It is ingrained early on that for a man to be thought of in any way as a woman is degrading. *Just wanted to point that out*

I remember when I was a child, yelling and screaming TERRIFIED me. It made me feel scared inside and I wanted to go hide. As I grew up…I then adopted that behavior and felt like the louder I could get, the more I would be heard. I just really wanted to make sure I was heard and understood and even felt my reasoning was completely justified and rational. In turn, I wasn’t listening to the other person. I heard very little, made my assumptions and then defended my own reality and perception.

Why am I disclosing my own dirt? Because it is dirt MANY people have and I’m doing a complete makeover with the new revelations I have been receiving and it is time for all of us to clean up our lives so we can truly live and not be overshadowed by deception of how we should be as men.

I want to respect others, listen to them and value their feelings as I value my own. I want to respond calmly to things that usually strike a nerve and irritate me. I want to bite my tongue when I feel “triggered” and only respond in a loving way, or walk away until I can. I want to be the best husband and father I possibly can be.

HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE

It is just a fact. People who are hurt, hurt others. And when you are hurting, you are so wrapped up in your own hurt that you fail to realize there is another person right in front of you that is also hurting. We have this reptilian brain of “flight or fight” and forget to pass through the passive pathway of “cognitive thinking” and take the quick pit stop of “REACTION” … which is never the right exit to get off at. Most of the time we react, it is out of our own hurt and fear. Usually, when you feel something intense in a not-so-nice-way, you are either going to cry, lash out, or retreat.

I feel the time has come for men to embrace a sense of self in which they can provide safe environments and validation of others.

Lastly, I am providing you with the list I was given recently. Some of these are extreme, some might surprise you.

Violent and Controlling Behavior Checklist
Physical Violence
____ Slap, punch, grab, kick, choke, push, restrain, pull hair, pinch, bite
____ Rape (use of force, threats to get sex)
____ Use of weapons, throwing things, keeping weapons around which scare her
____ Abuse of furniture, things in the home, pets, destroying her things
____ Intimidation (standing in the doorway during arguments, angry or threatening gestures, use of size to intimidate, standing over her, outshouting, driving recklessly)
____ Uninvited touching
____ Threats (verbal or nonverbal, direct or indirect)
____ Harassment (uninvited visits or calls, following her around, checking up on her, embarrassing her in public, not leaving when asked)
____ Isolation (preventing or making it hard for her to see/talk to friends, relatives, others)
____ Other (please list)

Psychological and Economic Abuse
____ Yelling, swearing, being lewd, raising your voice, using angry expressions or gestures
____ Criticism (name-calling, swearing, mocking, put-downs, ridicule, accusations, blaming, use of trivializing words or gestures)
____ Pressure Tactics (rushing her to make decisions, using guilt/accusations, sulking, threatening to withhold financial support, manipulating children, abusing feelings)
____ Interrupting, changing topics, not listening, not responding, twisting her words, going on and on
____ Economic coercion (withholding money, the car, or other resources; sabotaging her attempts to work)
____ Claiming “the truth,” being the authority, defining her behavior, using “logic”
____ Lying, withholding information, infidelity (having sex with others)
____ Using pornography (e.g., magazines, movies, strip shows, home videos, etc.)
____ Withholding help on childcare/housework; not doing your share or following through on your agreements
____ Emotional withholding (not expressing feelings, not giving support, validation, attention, compliments, respect for her feelings, rights, and opinions)
____ Not taking care of yourself (not asking for help or support from friends, abusing drugs or alcohol, being a “people-pleaser”)
____ Other forms of manipulation (please list)

(Adapted from EMERGE, Boston, Massachusetts)

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing.”

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STEALTH: Undercover Transgender Brother

The STEALTH decision

One thing I have learned is that you can never speak for a group as a whole. Our opinions and thoughts might not be shared…and that is okay. That is the beauty of what makes us all unique individuals.

This post is about being stealth. What is “stealth”, you might ask? It is where one chooses to not disclose their transition to the outside world (ie: work, school, etc.)

Obviously, you can never escape your transition from certain people; however, some choose to live and blend into our surroundings, much like a chameleon.

Some argue, “you must be ashamed of who you are!” Yet, I beg to differ. We unfortunately live in a world that is infiltrated by bigotry, ignorance, hate and defiance. Some of us have spent years being ridiculed for the “choices” they made in their lives. Some of us just want a break.

While others will debate the “stealth” decision by saying, “you are choosing not to educate others, you are not an advocate, an activist”…I say, “don’t judge.”

ENDA to END Discrimination

What is right for you isn’t always right for someone else. We do not always feel the same, have had the same situations or same responses. Some families embrace their children, while others shun them. Some companies welcome us with open arms, while others can attest to being unemployed for years and not given the opportunity, simply based on one thing: they are transgender.

And, guess what? There isn’t a law to protect us. ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) is a proposed bill to protect us; yet, it is still waiting to be approved by the United States Congress.

“ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 (except the 109th) while previous employment anti-discrimination legislation has been proposed since 1974.[1] The bill gained its best chance at passing after the Democratic Party broke twelve years of Republican Congressional rule in the 2006 midterm elections. In 2007, gender identity protections were added to the legislation for the first time ever. However, some sponsors believed that even with a Democratic majority, ENDA did not have enough votes to pass the House of Representatives with transgender inclusion, and dropped it from the bill, which passed and subsequently died in the Senate. LGBT advocacy organizations, and the community, were divided over support of the changed bill.

In 2009, on the heels of the 2008 elections that strengthened the Democratic majority, and after the divisiveness of the 2007 debate, a transgender-inclusive ENDA was introduced by House representative Barney Frank. Frank reintroduced the bill in 2011. Shortly thereafter, the bill was introduced in the Senate by Jeff Merkley.

Transgender people may experience higher rates of discrimination than the LGB population. A survey of transgender and gender non-conforming people Conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality found 90 percent of respondents experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it.[5] In comparison, a review of studies conducted by the Williams Institute in 2007 found that transgender people experienced employment discrimination at a rate 15 to 57 percent.[6](credit: wikipedia)

BULLYING

One thing we are all familiar with is bullying. Even if we haven’t personally been a victim, we probably know someone who has. Recently, an FTM friend of mine living in San Francisco was a victim and beaten severely.

“More than half of transgender or gender non-conforming people who experienced bullying or harassment have attempted suicide, according to a recently released study.

“From our experience working with transgender people, we had prepared ourselves for high rates of suicide attempts, but we didn’t expect anything like this,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Our study participants reported attempting suicide at a rate more than 25 times the national average.”

Rates of attempted suicide rose dramatically — to 59 percent — when the victim’s teacher or professor was the perpetrator of bullying or harassment. Among those who had been physically assaulted by a teacher or professor, 76 percent reported having attempted suicide.” (credit)

MURDER

For the year 2011, there was a reported 221 victims that were murdered based on their gender identity. How many more occurred that were left unreported? (see 8 of the victims here)

REALITY CHECK

By this point, you are most likely shaking your head and thinking, “gee, Tristan, this sure is depressing!”

Yes, it is quite depressing. Yet, it is a reality.

I have personally won “Best Transgender Activist” for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 by the readers of GA Voice. I was voted one of the 50 most influential people in our community by the readers of Fenuxe magazine in 2010. (click here)

Am I gloating? Hardly. While my claims of being a Trans Warrior and Advocate are very true, I sit at my desk in a conservative company STEALTH.

Am I ashamed of being Tristan Skye? Not at all. If anything, I’m more proud of the “Skye” part of me than anything else. But, the private part of me, sits here proud of who I am and happy, yes HAPPY, to be here and be seen for exactly who I am. A man. A smart, witty guy who happens to be very creative and good at what I do. A guy who is married with a newborn son.

Why don’t I wave the transgender flag proudly at my desk? I don’t have to. I do my part and educate others even while stealth. I defend our community and have actually been surprised to hear many of my conservative co-workers be in favor of things like gay marriage. I have been an advocate, undercover. That is how I see myself. I’m like an undercover agent.

To fact is, I worked hard scholastically to get to where I am today. I was “out” at every job prior to this one. My previous job, I went from “F” to “M” and they had to learn to change pronouns.

Upon being hired at my current place of employment, I had to contact ALL previous employers and tell them about my transition and that I am now legally and medically “male.” I even had to call that one boss from hell that mocked me and was condescending while I worked under him.

YES, I enjoy being one of the guys. I enjoy the experience of passing. For me, that was what I dreamed about. I can’t say I ever wanted to feel “normal” because I realize…WHAT is normal? WHO is normal? I know what the majority of society THINKS is normal…but, I agree that normal is boring. I’m not normal. Even being stealth…I’m NOT normal. I couldn’t be normal even if I tried.

I have gone to great lengths to have my outside match my inside. I have changed my name, undergone surgery, had my sex marker changed on every document, including my birth certificate…gotten legally married and am the legal father of my son.

I went from the aggravating world of being called “she”, “her” and “ma’am” to “he”, “him” and “sir.”

I have went from low self esteem to high self esteem.

I would NEVER deny my past if asked. Yet, I don’t provide that information when it comes to my work. I don’t drive around with a car that says “Tranny Inside” on it.

If anyone EVER said anything negative about our community, I would immediately jump in to defend and educate.

I know some of you might disagree with what I have chosen for my life. But, as I don’t disapprove of your life, I ask you respect how I feel. I do not stand alone in our community with the decision I have personally made.

I actually feel like I’m “half” stealth. Half of my life is undercover, so to speak, and the other half is as if Hurricane Tranz is coming through! Look out!

Yet, I don’t feel like I’m being any less of ME. I feel honest and true with myself everywhere I am and go. I’m not ashamed, I am protective. I have had plenty of HATERS in my lifetime, I can assure you. I have had death threats and wishes put on me by those “disgusted” by who I am and what I represent. Do I stop what I do in the community? NEVER. Bring it on!

To those of you who wear your pride on your sleeve 24/7…thank you! You are rebels with a cause and stand up with pride at all times, ready and armed to defend our Trans community. Some of you choose to never legally change your names and/or sex markers to make a point for others to always know your roots and who you are and what you’re all about. That definitely is bold and brave and I think that takes strength to purposefully be a pillar of education and advocacy at all times. And, for some of you, you could totally go stealth, yet you would never do it.

For some others, they have gone stealth and I can’t even find them anymore. It’s like they have disappeared. They moved away, most likely, and started over fresh and brand new.

Me? I’m happy just where I’m at. I’m happy with my life. I’m happy being me. I still wish some things could be different, but I know everything I go through only makes me grow and become a stronger person. I still have struggles. I still have bad days. I’m human.

Because I’m human, I have the privilege of personal choice. I would never deny another their rights, and I ask you all to never deny someone else’s personal choice. From no-ho to ho, from surgery to no surgery, from gender queer to transgender…the whole purpose of this is to be TRUE to ourselves and find that peace and happiness that our soul desires.

You are my family. The family that has always loved, supported and accepted me. I could NEVER leave my family behind…and, I promise, I never will.

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