Category Archives: Education

NC HB2 – James Parker Sheffield Dispels Myths About Trans People

In the wake of HB2 (Transgender individuals must use bathrooms equal to their birth sex assignment) passing in North Carolina, James Parker Sheffield from Atlanta, GA invited park goers in Washington Square Park to ask him questions about his life and experiences as a trans man.

Here’s what happened. (Facebook Video via Huffpost)

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHuffPostQueerVoices%2Fvideos%2Fvb.215547491837032%2F1144170248974747%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560

Natural Transitioning: An FTM Alternative SECOND EDITION: Click Here!

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Natural Transitioning for Transgender Men (FTM) – Alternative to Testosterone Hormone Replacement Therapy

product_thumbnailNatural Transitioning™ (NT) was founded by Tristan Skye in 2008. It is the process of transitioning from female to male (FTM) by raising the testosterone levels your body already naturally produces without injecting synthetic testosterone.
In this book, you will uncover years of dedicated research and my personal experience as a transgender man developing this alternative method of transitioning. This second edition is quite different from the first and takes a truly natural, holistic approach, with guidance from naturopathic doctors (from both the United States and Canada), Chinese medical practitioners and herbalists. Not only is this a guide book that will help you transition without synthetic hormones, it is also a guide book to help you achieve a greater health for your overall being.

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Want More Hair? Awaken Dormant Follicles

Around ten years ago or so, having facial hair was something more of an embarrassment than something I embraced. I was pre-transitioning, living as “female” and all the bleaching and waxing became more and more a pain in the butt.

I was embarrassed because my natural state of being “hairy” was looked down upon by my female cohorts.  Women are supposed to be hairless (society would like to make you think) and I certainly bore my Italian ethnicity…with not much pride.

In attempts to help boost my self esteem, my mother offered to pay for treatments of electrolysis and then, eventually, laser light hair removal. Even with over $1,000 down the drain, I still had facial hair.

A few years later when I came to terms with my gender identity, I was VERY thankful I didn’t kill off all of the hair follicles and there were feisty survivors that remained.

I’m telling my story, because there might be others out there with similar experiences. Some things that were a social taboo living as “female” are now praised as we live as “male”.

I have been blessed in my ability to grow facial hair naturally, yet it is not as thick as I would like and it is not all over my face. I realized some hair follicles were killed in my previous attempts at “hair death” and I shrugged it off for a long time as an, “Oh, well! Atleast they aren’t all dead!.”

In late fall of 2010, I had a friend mention that he was using minoxidil. He had great success applying it to his face twice daily with a Q-tip. I decided to finally give it a try.

At first, I noticed that it seemed to discolor my hair, lightening it. It also made the hair fall out and be thinner at the first few weeks to a month. Then, I noticed a gradual shift forward as the hair seemed to re-thicken back up. Yet, I never experienced any major changes over a period of 4 months or more. I also only applied it once daily.

This morning I was thinking about my past hair removal and decided to do some research on it.

I found out some VERY interesting information!

I read that per square inch of the body you have a minimum of 1,000 hair follicles. The problem is that most of them lay dormant, meaning they stay “asleep” and do not produce hair. When you get electrolysis, they remove an average of 5 – 100 hairs per square inch of active follicles, so even when they are killed, you still have all of those dormant follicles remaining. (read all about it).

I then researched laser light treatment and it stated it only works 80% of the time and usually the hair remains gone for a long period of time, but usually not forever. (read all about it).

I decided to see if there was a way to “awaken” these dormant hair follicles and I found out…there is! (read all about it).

Tamoxifen (generic version known as Nolvadex) is an anti-estrogen steroid.

Now, that is one word that makes my eyebrow raise…steroid? Hmm. It appears that you can buy it as a pill (more pills? ewww!) OR a topical cream (BINGO!). It is primarily used to reduce breast cancer in female patients. (read all about it).

Am I going to try this? I’m not sure. I am not one to “try” things that affect my body until I do plenty of research. My health is #1.

I’m putting this out there for guys just so they know, all we have to do is somehow “awaken” these dormant follicles and PRESTO CHANGO, we can have a full 5 o’clock shadow over time!

Here are some mobile phone photos of me I took this morning showing my chin hair and sideburns.

 

My sideburns do grow past my earlobes, but I keep them trimmed for a more professional look. I also have hair just below my lower lip.

 

Leave comments if you find more research!!!

Happy hair growing, fellas! 😉

Written by TRISTAN “SHIMMER” SKYE

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Filed under Education, Research, Transitioning

Health & Fitness: 10 tips to stay fit for life

If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, get healthy and stay fit, here are some tips to help you make it last more than a couple of months. These tips will help you keep your resolution for life!

  1. Big Brother is watching. A food journal is the best way to keep track of your diet. It can also play the role of an accountability partner. At www.calorieking.com you can search food items to help you track down your daily intake and make sure you stay in check. Many smartphones have applications to help you keep track of calories, fat grams, carbs and more. One of these free apps is called “Lose It!” (www.loseit.com). Another fun app is “Foodpics Log” which uses your smartphone’s camera to capture what you really eat. Check out, tweetwhatyoueat.com, a free diary that lets you set up a Twitter-based food diary and track your weight and calorie intake. If you want even greater accountability, you can set up a profile on Body Space www.bodybuilding.com, track your progress, set goals and join in with others striving for the same goals. You can even find a group in your area that will help support you like the Weight Watchers group at ALHI (Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative).
  2. Cheat to beat defeat. Allow yourself one cheat meal per week. This does not suggest an entire day of McDelight, but make sure you reward yourself to one meal per week that consists of foods that you are not allowed in your new diet plan.
  3. Drop the Yo-Yo. Think of it as a “lifestyle change” not a diet. It’s easy to fall prey to “yo-yo dieting” with all of the diet trends and fads out there. Most of them you cannot do for long-term, some of them even have risk-factors. Make sure to find a new style of eating that is healthy for the rest of your life. This can even include successful programs such as Weight Watchers, the Vegan RAW Diet or the Eat-Clean Diet. One great place to find “clean-eating” recipes is at www.hungry-girl.com.
  4. Get Physical. Be active. Not everyone has the finances to join a gym or hire a personal trainer, but you have to make time. For a minimum of 30 minutes 3 days per week, schedule to be active. This could include jogging, yoga, pilates, rock climbing, kickboxing, riding your bike, Wii Fit, walking your dog or anything that helps get your heart pumping. Download the app for MapMyFitness.com or RunKeeper.com which uses your phone’s GPS and calculates how many calories you burned. Permanent marker physical activity on your planner and even if you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. The endorphins will actually help you feel better once you’re done exercising. You will feel even better yet when you fit into those incredible jeans a size or two smaller.
  5. Just Breathe. Stress releases a steroid hormone called cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland. Cortisol is the nasty thing that invites Mr. Jiggles to move in to your mid-section. Meditation is an easy way to relax. Other ways include doing things you enjoy that are therapeutic; like art, writing, reading a book or listening to music. If you find your anxiety starting to increase, you can take deep breaths, holding it for a count of 3, then releasing for a count of 8. Another tip that is rather amusing is to “flick” yourself. Wear a rubber band and when you start to feel overwhelmed, pop the band and your body will immediately become distracted and alert the attention of your central nervous system elsewhere. When you are at work, make sure to take a break as often as allowed. Oh, hate to break this to you, but playing on the internet is not a stress reliever.
  6. You snooze, you lose. Get adequate sleep every night. This is for minimum of 6 hours. If you have trouble catching your z’s, melatonin is a natural sleep aid that might assist you, instead of turning to medications that include long lists of side-effects. Sleeping allows your body to recover so you feel refreshed enough to tackle the next day. Too much sleep counteracts this philosophy, so try to keep your snooze at a maximum of 8 hours.
  7. Do not play Scale Wars. Do not weigh yourself every day. Watching the numbers on the scale can sometimes make you feel like all efforts are lost. Even with dieting, our bodies can hold excess water on certain days, which make us feel bloated and will reflect on the scale. Another thing to keep in mind, the more muscle you develop can actually increase your weight since muscle weighs more than fat. I suggest doing body measurements and you will notice your weight loss by how your clothes fit. Keep track of your body mass index (BMI) and body composition: fat versus lean mass. Try not to step on the scale more than once per week and do it first thing in the morning. Preferably, without wearing clothes or shoes.
  8. 8. Say Goodbye to Sugar High. Sugar is proven to be addictive. Your body will start to crave everything from ice cream to peanut butter cups. Choose natural sugar alternatives instead, like stevia, raw honey or agave nectar. Many products are also available that are “healthy sweet treats.” This will help curb your need to get that quick fix. Aim for no sugar added or sugar-free products.
  9. 9. Recycle. Donate your clothes, once they outgrow you. Reward yourself with new clothes. A bargain way to do this is to shop at your neighborhood thrift store. Once you no longer own your bigger britches, you are motivated to stay on the fast-track to success as you sport your new lean-and-mean jeans!
  10. 10. Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Last but not least, look in the mirror every day and tell yourself one positive thing about yourself. Even if you don’t believe it, speak it into existence. Daily affirmations provide you with positive energy to help motivate you, build your confidence and self-worth. You are getting healthy because you are worth it! You love yourself and it’s good to compliment yourself and have a little self-esteem a boost. On days you reach a goal, take yourself out on a special date. Spoil yourself!

BONUS TIP:

The Hangover (aka: beer belly). One way to add liquid calories and carbs faster than a speeding bullet is by indulging in alcohol. If you choose to booze, remember that you are safer with clear liquors and low carb, low calorie beer. Beware of sugary mixers! For the winos: red is better overall for you than white. Try to limit how many drinks you have per week. Once you continue to curve drinking down, watch your belly magically disintegrate. Presto Chango!

 

Now that you have the tools, go out there and be a healthier you! You CAN do it. 2011 is your year to rise, shine and get (and stay) lean!

 

Written by  Tristan Skye

The GA Voice published copy: click here


 

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Filed under Education, Fitness, Medical, Resources, Support, Weight Training

TQ Nation EXCLUSIVE Interview: Jamison Green

TQ Nation recently had the honor to recognize a man who helped plant the tree we sit underneath today. To me, he is someone beyond a “celebrity”, he is a man who has fought the battles for many years to help bring change to the transgender community. I believe the mere words “thank you” are not enough to mark the legacy he lives.

Jamison Green, most-notably acclaimed for his book Becoming a Visible Man (2004), won the 2004 Sylvia Rivera Award for Best Book in Transgender Studies from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies. It was also a finalist for a 2004 Lambda Literary Award. One of the most quotable passages of his novel states, “there is no right way to be trans.”

Not only is Jamison Green a writer, he is also an inspirational educator for transgender health, civil rights, social safety, dignity and respect.

Born in Oakland, California in 1948, Green began his female-to-male (FTM) transition in 1988 while employed with Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Since then, he has paved the way in the Transgender Rights Movement for decades as he led FTM International, Inc. (March 1991 to August 1999) and currently serves on the board of directors for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, among other nonprofit educational organizations.

He authored a ‘transformational’ document in 1994 entitled “Report on Discrimination Against Transgendered People” for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. This served as the foundation for not only the protective legislation in the City and County of San Fran, but also the agenda for the contemporary trans movement.

Green was the first transman named “our best and brightest activists” in 1999 by The Advocate magazine and was also the first transsexual to be awarded the Distinguished Service Award (May 2009) from the Association of Gay & Lesbian Psychiatrists for his numerous contributions to LGBT mental health.

Green has educated across the globe, authored a monthly column for PlanetOut.com and has been in a dozen or more documentary films, including the award-winning “You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men” (1996).

Personally, it’s difficult to put into words the greatness of this one man. His solo achievements are so many that you could easily spread them out to ten to twenty others and they would still be looked on as “above average”.

It is people like Jamison Green that deserve honor and recognition. For us, they are true heroes. They fight battles and win wars that help us be where we are today. Their victories enable us to stand tall and be proud. They have been our champions and our mentors for us to carry out their legacy for our future generations.

This interview you are about to read is not just about anyone, it’s about a man that helped re-sculpt our world and make it a brighter place. He stands for the epitome of everything I hold true and dear to my heart and soul.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

TQ: What do you believe has been your biggest role or accomplishment that has benefited the transgendered community?

JG: I’ve been really fortunate to have a long list of accomplishments, but I think the most important thing I’ve done that has had long-term impact was leading FTM International in the way that did in the early and mid-1990s.  I encouraged trans people to be visible in a way that had never been done before; I encouraged trans men, in particular, to become politically active and to build coalitions with trans women;  I encouraged trans men to hold the first FTM-focused conference in the U.S. (and to share the power of doing that kind of community building with groups in other cities; and I took the organization into the arena of politics by using it as a platform to influence legislative changes in San Francisco and in California, which are still having impact around the world.  I tried to be conscientious of the needs of others, to encourage others to actualize their goals and dreams, and to be responsive to people in an ethic of service to community.  I also cultivated high standards of accuracy, honesty, reliability, and inclusiveness.  I think that effort, even though most of it was unseen by others, has had the most far-reaching beneficial effect for the trans communit(ies).

TQ: What is the most triumphant thing you would like to see happen in your lifetime within our community?

JG: When I think of the word ‘triumphant’ with respect to our community, I think of a moment in which as many trans people as humanly possible (nearly) simultaneously feel the power of affirmation, relief, and joy all at once.  What could cause that in my lifetime?  I think it would have to be the election of a trans person to an important position of leadership – like Congress, or the presidency, or as an influential leader in another major country – and our collective realization that any dehumanizing ridicule that followed was being viewed as a completely fringe reaction.  That would be pretty triumphant, I think.

TQ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

JG: In 10 years I will be 71 years old, but I want to still be able to backpack in the Sierra.  I would still like to be writing and speaking, maybe doing less but making more money than I do now (I hope!).  I’d like to be able to take a vacation now and then (so would my wife!).  And I’d like to be associated with a world-class research and education institution or organization, tapped into the engines of social change, so I can continue to make a creative contribution to both the intellectual and the practical world.

TQ: Who is the one person that has played the most significant and positive role in your life? Why?

JG: I think I would have to say my father.  He taught me a lot about how to relate to the world, he taught me how to develop my values, and he taught me how to learn from my mistakes.  He was a real gentleman; he knew how to appreciate his surroundings, he was modest, he knew how to laugh, and he was kind.  People loved him.  My mother loved him, and he loved her.  And even though he and I didn’t always agree about things—and sometimes we fought furiously!—I always knew I could rely on him, and he appreciated my independent spirit.

TQ: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far in life?

JG: I once dreamed of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Nobel Peace Prize.  I had planned to win at least one of those by the time I was 25.  When I hit 25 and realized I was very far from ever achieving those honors, I realized I needed to change my expectations.

Ultimately, I’ve come to realize that, for all the political, altruistic, and progressive work I’ve done, and for all the energy I’ve applied to creating change in the world, and all the awards I’ve been given, I believe my greatest achievement so far in life has been raising my two children to be good people.  My daughter is 25, and my son will be 21 this month.  I love them so much, and I am so proud of them.

I feel like the thing that makes human existence important is love; and parental love has a unique possibility to be truly unconditional.  To see the effects of one’s love manifested in the world by beings that are separate from you, whose imaginations and capacities and accomplishments may far exceed your own, and to know that what you have done with your love is good, is utterly humbling.  And though it is not the kind of achievement for which I will ever receive an award or a prize, I feel my children’s goodness is the most human –and therefore greatest—achievement of my life.

TQ: Being a face in the “limelight”, what types of privacy or safety concerns have you faced? How did you deal with them?

JG: I used to worry about privacy and safety a lot more than I do now.  There have been times when I’ve gone places to speak where I’ve wished I had a body-guard, and once when I brought a good friend who was an off-duty police officer who I knew could watch my back effectively.  But I’ve learned that unless we are breaking the law, or being deliberately antagonistic or obnoxious, we (as trans people) usually don’t attract as much public attention as we might imagine we do.  I try to relax and not to take up too much space in the world.  I just try to do what’s right and what’s good, be considerate of others, and otherwise I mind my own business, and encourage others to do the same.  That policy has kept me pretty much out of trouble.  I realize things are different for some trans women, and I’m mindful of those discrepancies.  I also want to say that I know how it feels to be taunted, publicly ridiculed, punched and beaten because you are trans – it’s just that for me those things happened before I transitioned instead of during or after my transition.  And that, to me, is indicative of the sexism in our society.  I don’t want people to misinterpret my current ability to be relaxed in public as the simple result of male privilege conferred by testosterone.  My experience in public is much more nuanced than that, and my awareness of trans issues much more complex than that.  It’s also true—now—that my age has an effect on how I’m perceived and noticed or not noticed depending on the context in which I find myself.

I do get recognized in public sometimes, but it’s usually by people who want to say “thank you.”  I’ve never been approached by anyone negative.  The only ‘death threat’ I ever received was from another trans man who I think was having a bad day.  I’ve received email from a few fundamentalist ministers who want me to “stop trying to destroy gender,” and I either ignore it or if I feel up to engaging with them I’ll tell them that’s not what I’m about and I encourage them to read my book.  I never heard from them again.  But I’ve been on an airplane with several people reading copies of a newspaper with a life-size photo of my face on the front page, and no one recognized me or said anything to me, not even the flight attendants.

TQ: What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

JG: Don’t expect to get rich doing this work, but if you truly care for people you can be richly rewarded in the form of connections and opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.  Show up, care about others, and have integrity.  That’s what I’ve tried to do.

TQ: What inspired you to write the book “Becoming a Visible Man”?

JG: Many people inspired me to write the book because so many people seemed to be touched by the passion with which I spoke (years ago) about the dignity of trans lives, and the struggles that trans people endured to find their individual balance and get their needs met in the face of complete rejection.  I think there are many people now who have no clue what it was like before the internet to get reliable information about transition.  And there were just a handful of books available that had any specific information for trans people who were male-identified.  I knew I could reach more people with the book than I could reach one-on-one, and a book has a kind of intimacy that allows people to take in information gradually and really absorb it.  I was really happy that Vanderbilt University Press was interested in publishing it, because university presses keep their books in print much longer than commercial publishers, and I knew it would take a while for people to find the book (because reviewers don’t pay much attention to trans topics), but the book would hold up over time.   I’m proud of the book, and I think it will continue to serve the community for a long time to come (even though some of the information in it will become anachronistic) because it provides a historical context for what have become our community’s foundational issues and goals.  And it’s personal enough to be engaging on an emotional level, too.  I hope someday it will be called a ‘classic.’

TQ: TQ Nation is giving you a personal soap box – What do you want to say? (include your spout outs: vents, complaints, thanks or anything you want people to know)

JG: I want to really thank all the people who were there for me in the beginning of my transition;  I want to thank all those who helped build FTM International in the 90s, and those who took it on after I left.

I want to encourage trans people to cultivate patience – strategic patience.  That doesn’t mean we can’t be passionate, or angry, or sad, or anything else at any given moment.  But what we are asking the world to do in response to us is a huge change, and it will not some quickly or easily.  We’ve made amazing progress in the last 20 years, and that’s been done on the shoulders of some very brave and determined people who have not yet been given the recognition and honor they deserve.

Most of all, I want to express my real love and appreciation for my wife, Heidi, who married me in 2003, and who has been an incredible partner in my work.  She has done so much to support and care for me, to collaborate with me, and to help me think things through.  She also stepped up in an amazing way when the mother of my children passed away two years ago, and helped me and my children deal with all the emotions and practical details of adjusting to the resulting changes in our lives.  Plus, she’s beautiful, smart, sexy, and she has a fabulous sense of humor.  I got so lucky when I met her.  And I want to encourage trans people everywhere who have partners to express your appreciation and love for them.  Don’t let a day go by without doing something that tells them you love them and you value them.

TQ: What upcoming events/writings/documentary films can your fans look forward to in the future?

JG: Right now, I’m finishing a dissertation for a PhD in Law – it’s about the Kantaras Case (a 2002 Florida divorce and child custody case in which a trans man was adjudicated male in the trial court, and then had his maleness taken away by the Court of Appeal).  Ultimately, I’d like to take some of the work I’ve done for that project and tell more of the story of that case in a way that could interest a wide readership.   So that may be a book.  That’ll be a while, though.

I’ll be at a bunch of conferences in the fall of 2010 – mostly professionally-oriented, and I hope to be back on the speaking circuit in 2011.  I think I’ll be keynoting First Event in New England in January 2011, as a starter.  Maybe I’ll have time to update my “upcoming events” listings on my web site before the end of this year!

First I have a book coming out in 2011, probably late summer or early fall, entitled “The FTM Guide to Sexual Health.”  I’m working on that now, but will be focused more on it as soon as the dissertation is done.

I’m also working with the University of California, San Francisco Medical School to develop primary care protocols for physicians treating trans people, and educational programs for physicians to go along with that – this is a great opportunity to improve trans people’s experience and capacity to access primary health care.  It won’t be too visible to the general public, but I hope people will ultimately experience its effects.  You can see some of the great work going on at UCSF at http://www.transhealth.ucsf.edu.  Another similar project I have in the works is leveraging the wins we’ve had in getting employers to negotiate with their health insurance carriers to offer trans-inclusive healthcare plans.  That’s a long, slow process with lots of angles and complications, but it’s something that I believe is important.  My colleague, André Wilson, is doing a lot the leg-work on that project, and he deserves a lot of credit for helping move this issue forward, based on my conviction (proven correct in our win in 2000 for City and County of San Francisco Employees) that the benefit doesn’t have high costs, and that exclusions are based on long-standing prejudice and ignorance.

I’m also working with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, developing position statements that I think the Board of Directors needs to take that will encourage other global institutions to take our health, safety, and civil rights more seriously.  I’m a member of the WPATH Board of Directors (first trans person elected to the Board who was not a medical professional or a lawyer), and I’ll be termed out in the fall of 2011 (after 8 years of service).  I have to decide next year if I want to run for president of the Association, or take a break!

I’m also working with a team of grad students from several universities to analyze the data I collected last year in two surveys on sexual behaviors and sexual health – one survey for trans men, and one for partners of trans men.  There’s enough data for three or four journal papers, and I expect these will be papers that energize the field of sexuality research.

There’s a possibility I may do a second edition (a completely new text) of “Becoming a Visible Man” because my publisher has expressed an interest in that.  That wouldn’t be out before 2012.

I don’t have any film projects in the works.  I’ve never originated any of those; people have always come to me.  I’d love to do more creative work with film and with writing and photography.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to feel like the practical work I’ve seen as needing to be done has played out, and I can get back to being the artist I wanted to be when I was young (or an older version of that artist).  But I sure can’t say I regret doing the practical work I’ve done!  It’s been an honor to be of service to trans people everywhere.  We may not have seen our triumph yet, but together we have already changed the world.

Written by TQ Nation President & Co-Founder,

TRISTAN SKYE

JOIN THE REVOLUTION!

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Chaz Bono Keynote Speaker to Educate School Counselors on LGBTQI Issues

Chaz Bono - Keynote Speaker at Event

Today, over a hundred K-12 school counselors and educators from around the country will descend upon San Diego to take part in the first ever conference to educate them as to the myriad of issues surrounding LGBTQI youth.

The conference, driven by Dr. Trish Hatch and her grad students at the SDSU school-counseling program, is sure to provide attendees with an experience like they’ve never had. It will also offer them more definitive information, clear guidance without prejudice and, more usable tools than they’ve ever had; all to assist in the very important role they play in these sensitive and often troubled children’s lives.

In this final segment of the four-part series, SDGLN focuses on the list of distinguished presenters and fascinating keynote speakers. When Dr. Hatch and her colleagues (including presenter Stuart Chen-Hayes) kicked this idea around last year, it’s clear they weren’t taking this concept lightly. The individuals they have brought together to share their personal knowledge, experiences and unique perspectives, are truly inspirational on every level.

When SDGLN first spoke to Dr. Hatch about this highly ambitious endeavor, she told us her attendance goal was 150. It was the first year, after all; the economy is down and most attendees would be forced to pay their own way. Just two days before the conference, the tally has reached 170. She couldn’t be more thrilled. With the line-up she’s installed and the wide range of topics covered, there should be no doubt that the annual event will grow in popularity.

Friday night will kick-off in the Malibu Ballroom with Senator Christine Kehoe, who will speak to the attendees just before the Awards Ceremony and dinner.

“In California, we’ve spent the last ten years working to protect our LGBT youth,” said Senator Kehoe. “They deserve nothing less than safety at their schools so they can succeed academically. In 2000, California passed a law guaranteeing all students and staff in public schools the right to a safe learning environment, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That put public schools on a par with other state institutions. In 2007, California went one step further by banning negative depictions of LGBT people in the classroom. It is one of the most far-reaching protections for LGBT youth in the country. However, we know that LGBT youth are still harassed at their schools, and clearly more needs to be done.”

After dinner, the microphone is handed over to keynote speaker Chaz Bono. Bono, who needs no introduction, suffered a very painful and public outing in the 1990’s and is currently experiencing a very public FTM gender transition process. He will surely draw from his truly unique personal journey and impart words of wisdom he acquired along the way.

Just this week, SDGLN got the chance to catch up with him on the phone about that journey and what it was like for him growing up.

A tumultuous but satisfying journey
“I was one of the lucky ones of my generation going through high school,“ said Bono. “I had a really easy time. I attended a Performing Arts high school in NY and it was very open. I was out to all of my friends.”

Much to his surprise, he found his school and friends were much more supportive than his family, and that might be where his experience is very much like the children this conference seeks to rally support for. He notes that his much younger siblings- who didn’t have a similar secondary education experience- have gay and transgender friends of their own.

“We’ve really come a long way,” he said.

Having first identified as lesbian, and now transgender, Bono has a perspective that few of the LGBT community can claim.

During the course of the conversation it became clear that he and I shared many similar tomboyish childhood experiences, but I never felt – innately – male. Could he maybe explain that difference?

“One is a behavior [acting like a boy]; you still felt comfortable in your skin. I had a constant feeling of discomfort and it never went away. Nothing female ever felt comfortable to me in any way.”

Bono admits that in his experience, it is common for most female-to-male transgender (FTM) to initially identify as lesbian. On the flip side, it is not so common for their male-to-female (MTF) counterparts to first identify as gay; and they clearly have the more difficult time. Since many MTFs begin to explore the boundaries of their gender at much younger ages, larger numbers are victims of violent hate crimes, even at school. In February of 2008, Lawrence King, an Oxnard middle school student, was shot by his 14 year old classmate for wearing effeminate clothing to school.

“We live in a patriarchal society which makes MTF taboo,” said Bono. “[the feeling is] how can a man give up his power and masculinity? Even in the gay and lesbian community, often effeminate men are looked down upon. But we all have a difficult journey.

“The gay and lesbian community has gotten more acceptance [in recent years], and transgenders are just poking their heads out. There is probably a 20 year gap between the movements. That’s not to say gays and lesbians are immune to homophobia.

“I didn’t know how people in my community would react [to the news of his transition],” he said, reflecting on his journey. “Would I be considered [a traitor]? I was pleasantly surprised that was not the case.”

When asked if he felt he had personally put a forward-moving-face on the transgender movement, he, for a moment, paused before speaking.

“I can’t take total credit for the movement. I certainly hope I can move it forward, but I wouldn’t be having the experience I am, without those who came before.”

Bono is very much looking forward to taking part in this conference and his impact will surely resonate through the ballroom when he does. Note: CESCal opened up Bono’s appearance to the public and there are still some seats left. Tickets to the evening’s events, including drinks & dinner, are $50 per person or $75 for VIP seating. If you want to come, you must act today so they can order meals. Call 619-850-1761.

A view from the platform
Olympic diver Mary Ellen Clark, Sunday’s keynote speaker, is also a celebrity in her own right; however she thinks her experience has been completely normal. Growing up just 30 minutes north of Philadelphia, she came from a loving, supportive catholic family of seven children. Her father, along with four of her siblings, were also divers.

Clark became a platform diver in college and eventually made the Olympic team, training under Ron O’Brien, the award-winning coach of another member of the LGBT community, Greg Louganis.

She took to the platform in Barcelona in 92 and Atlanta in 96, taking away Bronze medals both times. Winning her second medal at age 32, she became the oldest female Olympian diver to do so.

Diving is still her passion, but she’s also branched out beyond the pool. She spends her time shuttling between Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College and Amherst Regional High School, as a diving coach. In whatever spare time she has left, she also exerts herself as a personal trainer and a motivational speaker.

That’s a lot of hats. Yet, in the middle of all this, she is hopping on a plane late Saturday, to come speak at this conference.

“It’s important. I believe in connections. My life and story is very normal – it’s been a process, it’s still an ongoing process. Who you are, what you like, what is important- and people play important roles [within that process].” Roles like the ones charged to the counselors and educators who will listen to her speak on Sunday.

“This is another layer of giving back for me.”

She may wear many hats, but she certainly isn’t into wearing labels. “I’m me. I’m a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a coach, a mentor, a motivational speaker, a personal trainer….I am all these things. Who I choose to be in a relationship with shouldn’t matter, and it’s changed throughout my life. I’ve been with men, I’ve had relationships with women, it’s fluid,” said Clark.

Although people closest to her have always known, Clark has never felt the need to officially come out, and she is still fine with laying low under the radar. “No one ever asked me, and that was okay,” she said of the media when she was diving on the Olympic circuit. Still, one could sense a tremendous amount of pressure, just under the surface of her explanations.

“Your journey has everything to do with you, not everyone else,” she said assertively. It is clear she still has some axes to grind.

“My biggest issue was always, ‘hey, I need to decide.'” Then she finally realized that she didn’t need to decide; it was everyone else’s need to define her that made her desperate for that decision.

“I can only express my process, but if you can just put yourself in these kid’s shoes,” she said, referring to her upcoming audience. “They are not accepted, they are confused, they are being teased, and you must step outside of yourself and be there, despite your religious or cultural backgrounds. If you can just create that trust…” her voice trailed off. It appears she may be passing around all of her hats on Sunday.

Clark seems to pick her public appearances very carefully. She once slid out of an Olivia Cruise commitment when the attention might have impacted a new job, but then jumped at the chance to appear as Grand Marshal at a gay parade in a small, western Massachusetts town. It would seem, then, her decision to attend this conference and speak openly to SDGLN, is a real coup.

A multi-cultural twist
Stuart Chen-Hayes, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of the graduate program for Counselor/Education and School Counseling at City University New York (CUNY) / Lehman College, met Trish Hatch 10 years ago. “She is an incredible inspiration and without a doubt, the leader in how to use data and how to work with equity issues.”

Last year, they got together with several colleagues and discussed the importance of broaching the subject surrounding LGBTQI issues. Ironically, these were gay scholars themselves, working hard to make schools a better place for children of all subsets, but they had yet to hold a conference like this. Hatch knew she wanted to hold the conference in San Diego, using CESCal as the base.

Once a plan was in place, Chen-Hayes, although 3000 miles away, was more than happy to help. He quickly got Shane Windmeyer on board and began planning his own presentation. (Windmeyer is the leading author on gay campus issues and is the national leader in LGBT civil rights issues on college campuses. He will be speaking Saturday morning.)

Chen-Hayes’ topic for the conference, LGBTQI 101 – What do all these letters mean? will break-down all the faces and names of the community, and he plans to add a couple more that come from other languages and cultures, to prove that we really are “everywhere.”

“My message to the group,” Chen-Hays began, “is that we need to be all of whom we are, all of the time. School counselors and educators need to look at every student as multiple contexts and multiple identities.”

He uses his own six year-old son as an example. Chen-Hays and his partner started their family with a little help from his sister. Their son is multi-racial, already speaks fluently in both Mandarine and English, and is raised in a “gay affirming household.” In other words, there is a lot going on behind that curtain, and counselors and teachers need to recognize that every child’s personal experience is unique.

“It hurts to be excluded, and it gets complicated when [the system] is only looking at ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability,” he continued. “There are lots of simple ways to include them all.

“Take for instance, forms at school. Does it say ‘parent / guardian’ or just ‘mother / father’? Under marital status, does it only offer married / divorced / single or are there other options?”

Chen-Hays expects this conference to provide the attendees with the ideas and tools they need to go back to their districts, “assess the environment, and create policies and practices into place that support all kids, with the assumption that there are all identities and orientations.”

But what about school districts that might be resistive to these types of policies? Chen-Hayes acknowledges that in some cases resistance will be imminent, but they will be connecting people in the districts that are oppressive with others in districts that are tolerant, which will be empowering by itself.

“Our work is to make sure that the next generation of school counselors is LGBTQI friendly, are allies and are competent on all LGBTQI issues.”

The down-under-side of the coin
The conference is so important to one presenter, he flew all the way from Australia on his own dime. William DeJean taught at Rancho Bernardo High School for ten years. His experience is coming from the other side of the coin – that of being an isolated gay teacher with no resources of his own. He now teaches openly in the Department of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he writes extensively on queer matters in education.

“This conference excites me as it is providing all educators with resources to ensure schooling is safe for all members of the community. I had to be here,” said DeJean.

“K-12 schooling is not kind to the queer community. Hell, it isn’t kind to many communities. For that reason, I have made a commitment to myself to surround myself with women and men who are birthing new consciousness for education and for the world. I am looking forward to who I will meet, what networks will be created, and who I will become as a result of the conference.”

DeJean is conducting a 2 ½ hour workshop at the conference, and as eager to impart his knowledge to others as he is to learn from them.

The brave heart
On Sunday, as the lead-in to big names like Stuart Milk and Mary Ellen Clark, is a young lady whose courage in the face of hatred made headlines.

Rochelle Hamilton has been out since she was 13, but after three months of intolerable harassment as a sophomore at a Vallejo, CA high school, her mother couldn’t take it any longer. Her family sued the school district and won a very important judgment; one which not only included a monetary award, but also forced awareness training on the entire district. Still, the whole process was a not an easy one for this young, but very resilient, teenager.

Hamilton was forced to leave her high school for safety issues, so she knows full well the importance of a conference such as this. She didn’t have one person at her school to look to for support. Not one ally. Everyone, including (and in some cases especially) the faculty, was against her.

“At first I was scared, nervous,” said Hamilton. ”Then I realized, ‘I have to stand up for myself, they were wrong.’ Now I stand up for my LGBTQ family, because someone has to do it.”

Since her ordeal, Hamilton has had seven speaking engagements and won numerous awards from the California state legislature. With that kind of experience under her belt, telling her story this weekend at a conference designed to educate counselors and educators about kids just like her, will be a piece of cake.

When asked if she appreciated the opportunity to speak to such a relevant audience, her voice perked up. “I’m very happy about it. I love to change minds and change hearts,” she said, as she fondly reflected on her previous engagements. “As much as I touched them, they touched me, too.”

After she graduates later this year, she hopes to continue her motivational speaking, but her sights are really set on law enforcement. “I want to do anything that has to do with being a police officer,” she explained. “I guess that comes from wanting to protect people.”

Hamilton says her mother Sharee (who accompanies her to each engagement), always sums things up by saying, “We’re not looking for a sorry; we’re looking for another 5 letter word – change.”

These are just a few of the amazing individuals that will grace the Malibu Ballroom with their presence. The workshop topics are so varied, attendees are sure to leave not only educated, but empowered and confident in how to approach LGBTQI youth from this weekend forward.

Original post: Click here

Written by: Morgan M. Hurley, SDGLN Copyeditor

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