Negatively Positive

February 18, 2009

Okay, I think I have some explaining to do. Many people have been asking me what’s going on with me. The simple answer is that while my political views have not changed, my attitude and approach has. It had too. I was waking up each morning not really wanting to get out of bed and questioning why I should. I was losing hope,  heading for a meltdown and I was scared.

I kept seeing the crap that was going on in D.C. with various organizations, the way transgender people were and are being treated by national gay and lesbian organizations and worse, by each other.

Then one day, I woke up and refused to focus all my attention and energy on all the negative bullshit. Is it still there? Hell yes. I’m not sticking my head in the sand, I just can’t let it run my life and poison my soul. I refuse to be my own worst enemy and if I am to be an effective advocate, I have to be healthy. God bless the wonderful people in our community who can point out all the injustices we face from all directions, each and every day. I love you very much but I can’t be one of you. At least not all the time. I do promise to protest with you and be there to support you and listen whenever you need me.

I need a little positive motion and I have made the choice to concentrate on the changes that I know I can help to make through positive motivation. We have a window of opportunity with a new administration, wonderful and powerful changes in our oldest and largest transgender organization, an out transgender man working for a Congressman. I won’t even get into the fantastic work being done by young people and grassroots efforts across the country. Times, they are a changing and I need to look forward with something to look forward to.

I want to be alive to see more changes happen and if I continued on that path of constant negativity,  I doubt I would have been around to see them.

On another note:

Here’s a gem that I dug up and I couldn’t help but notice how the words ring just as  true for us today as they did for the women’s movement back in 1976 when this song was performed.

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IFGE (Pt.2) and other stuff

February 14, 2009

Since I wrote my last post more than a few days ago a lot of things have happened. Controversy surrounding IFGE. Organizations becoming irrelevant and then made relevant again,  being accused of working with the devil and then not so much. I’ll tell ya, it’s really been a roller coaster ride. However, through the many twists and turns I have to say that I’m so very proud of our board of directors for standing firm and not letting any of it ruin the momentum that we have and not letting any of the negativity drag us down.  We survived and the spell has not been broken. This all just feels so right.

I had originally planned to write this post right after the flames began to fly. I had much more to say about what others were blogging about and the big stir that was created, but I don’t feel as though it’s an issue any longer. One of the things that I have learned from being part of many unhealthy yahoo chat groups is to address issues, handle them like an adult and move on together. We need to keep those lines of communications open, make those phone calls or accept those phone calls and talk about the issue at hand. I accepted one of those calls and am a better person for it. I also made more than a few and feel like progress is being made and a community is coming together in a way that has never happened before. If you don’t feel like you are a part of it but you’d like to be, send me an email at ethan@ifge.org.  The time is right my friends, join us and be a part of a movement that is affecting your life. This is our lives, this is our movement and we are all invited!

Breathing (IFGE conference part 1)

February 10, 2009

Last Tuesday I packed up my luggage and headed to Washington, D.C. where the IFGE conference was located.  I don’t get to be alone all that often so the 8 hour drive wasn’t that bad.

I rolled into town at about 1:30 am and was greeted by Denise Leclair, IFGE’s executive director. Of course she was awake, it was only 1:30 in the morning and Denise doesn’t usually hit the sack until at least 3:00 am.. Speaking of Denise, hats off to her and the rest of the people that pulled this conference off. It may have been smaller than usual but it was THE best conference I have ever been to and make no mistake, it was quite successful.

It almost felt more like a retreat than a conference. The workshops were close and intimate as were the meetings and gatherings at the bar in the evening. At one point I mentioned how close I felt to everyone and how much I felt we had all bonded. Lynn Conway turned to me and her exact words were, “can you feel it?” Indeed I could.

I feel so lucky lately to have had such positive experiences and community building opportunities with some of the most brilliant minds in our movement. I am truly humbled to have been a part of the whole experience.

It seems that everyone walked away feeling that same charge of electricity in the air. We were fueled by each others passions and exhilarated by each others knowledge.  There were times when I was sitting with some fantastic people having a great time and I knew this was something out of the ordinary.

You know the feeling that if it ended right then that it may never happen quite the same way again. uhh…anyway. To all the great friends I made and the old friends I met again and to the folks who made it all happen. Thank you for a fantastic time.

Land of a thousand words

January 31, 2009

This afternoon a young friend contacted me, he was very upset about a debate that had been lingering  on a blog about an article in the Dallas Voice and the use of the word  “tranny.”

My young friend was upset because he was being wrongly accused of being a transphobic bigot.  I’ve known of this young, gay man for quite some time and his work with the lgbt community has been fantastic. He is in his early 20s has only lived in very progressive states and has been engulfed in the lgbt culture of his time which includes the use of the word, Tranny.  The vast majority of his friends are 20 something year old transgender people who live a San Francisco. They use the word, Tranny in a matter of fact tone, not to belittle nor as a derogatory term but with pride and empowerment.

The person who is upset with this young man is a middle aged transgender woman who lives in the not so progressive state of Texas. This leaves a culture, age and geographical gap. My young friend, who was absolutely crushed by the transgender person’s accusations, asked me for my opinion on the matter and use of the word, Tranny. Here is what I wrote:

I use the word tranny in my broadcast title (the radical trannies) and I use it when I speak to other trangender people. I never use it as a term of disrespect. Do I believe in the reclaiming of words and their use of empowerment? Indeed I do. However, I would never think of referring to RuPaul as either  a nigger or a faggot. I have no problem using the word Queer because it is a general term and socially acceptable within our community.

I understand that the word tranny is being used and reclaimed by a younger population in a variety of geographical areas but it is still not widely used as a term of endearment and I highly doubt that the writer of the Dallas voice is all that endeared to transgender people. The Dallas Voice has a history of quite the contrary.  To top it off, Texas has the 3rd highest rate of trangender murders in the country and the unemployment rate for trangender people is off the charts. Most people who are transgender and live in TX, live way below the poverty level.
Many transgender people live in a world where the use of the word tranny is the same as being called a faggot, nigger or in some cases, what it was like to have a person call a black man “boy,” back in the 60s.

I wasn’t all that happy with the idea that the Dallas Voice used RuPaul as the official spokes person for the transgender community, since he has repeated more than once that he is NOT a transgender person but a gay man in drag.

The next time there is a question about gay culture, do you think the Dallas Voice will make me the official spokesman?

My young friend understands and agrees but is upset that he didn’t get the chance to express himself. He should have been given that chance. The only way we are going to bridge the gaps are with an open dialogue and communication. As for the Dallas Voice, they should really get a clue.

Seething

November 22, 2008

This past Thursday, November 20th, I attended the Transgender Day of Remembrance event in Boston, Massachusetts. Actually, it was in Allston, where Rita Hester lived and was murdered. The event was very, very well done and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Lots of emotion filled the air and the passion of our community rose to it’s feet! Kudos to the event organizers and the brave youths who spoke out.

This year was the ten year anniversary of Rita’s murder. It is also one of the deadliest years on record for transgender people. One of the reasons why I haven’t posted anything on my blog until now is because I feel so numb and writing these facts seem oddly Mechanical. For the past few weeks I have gone to bed with the images of those we have lost floating in my mind and sometimes those images have jarred me out of a sound sleep. Sometimes I wake up sobbing, other times I wake up with that feeling of impending doom. They all died so tragically and brutally. Lives lost for no good reason. Someone else decided they didn’t deserve to live. 31 transgender people died violent deaths this year.

I often wonder what the difference is between those who wield a knife or gun and those who use other weapons to destroy us. The lack of inclusive employment nondiscrimination and hate crimes Legislation, the lack of equality within a “civil rights” organization, not being invited to have a seat at the table, being ignored by state and Federal Government officials…..all these things are weapons used which have resulted in the deaths of the people I have added to that horrible list. The list of our murdered. I am shaking my head with sorrow.

I feel so disconnected right now, like I’m walking around in the dark.
These murders have all had a profound affect on me and I can’t even begin to imagine how Sylvia or any mother who lost their child must feel.
I have so much anger and hurt swirling around in my heart and I feel in constant battle with trying to keep my head so I can do the right thing and just folding into a pile of mush.

I don’t know how we, as a community have dealt with this much violence for so long.



It All Needs to be Said and We Say it All!

November 7, 2008

discussion

The Usurpers of National Coming Out Day

October 11, 2008

Today is the 20th anniversary of National Coming Out Day which was co-founded by Jean O’Leary, former co-executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Rob Eichberg in 1987 which was marked by the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights.

According to Wikipedia:

The second such march on Washington, drew 500,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to protest for equal civil rights and to demand government action in the fight against AIDS. The march, demonstration and rally also included the first public display of Cleve Jones’ NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and the first community wedding.

Just a quick note: Whoever wrote the wiki file was being quite generous because although transgender people were there, at that time, transgender people weren’t being recognized as attending this or any other Gay and lesbian political event. Just one of many examples of how our history gets re-written and like transgender people, the facts are often omitted. But, I digress.

There were a lot of organizations involved in the second annual march on Washington, it was an event which was largely attended by grassroots activists who were grief stricken and inflamed with anger that our United States of America could ignore it’s citizens in a time of need. That our country could let a health care crisis continue unchecked because our President believed that the people it most affected were those suffering moral inequities. Yet here we are today still in similar crisis but those once angry, grassroots activists and their national coming out day has had it’s message controlled, packaged, wrapped and sold in a marketing bedazzlement that is but one of many schemes designed help keep their business organization flowing in cash. Some of us pay with our lives, especially our youth.

I hope we never become so engrossed in these marketing campaigns that we forget where we came from or that it is equally important to teach safety to the young and old alike whether it be safer sex practices, safe dating tips or how to come out safely and that sometimes, it’s just not safe to come out.

Losing My Religion

September 26, 2008

This is probably one of the hardest posts for me to write because my relationship with God has always been a personal one. I have never found the need or desire to push my faith into the face of others and I don’t plan to start now. I would, however, like to defend myself. It is getting increasingly difficult to feel welcome in a community that has become increasingly hostile to people who are Christians.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I totally get that the anger is actually directed toward those pseudo Christians. People who claim to be Christians but are actually hate mongers who use the bible as a tool of war, hatred and bigotry. The people who have co-opted an organized religion and shaped into something dirty and disgusting with fund raising capabilities that are tax deductible. Our Government has given these people a license to discriminate and they use it. They use it against each and every one of us in the LGBT community and call themselves righteous. They have packaged it and marketed it and sent it off sailing on the right wing. Yes, I get it.

Somewhere between all of this are the people who are Christian who are suffering the collateral damage that these pseudo Christians have caused. It is very hurtful when I hear people that I know and love in our community talk about how terrible and hateful the Christians are. I don’t want to hide who I am or be shamed. I’ve had enough of that in my life already.

It’s bad enough that I have lost my religion to these right wing zealots, I don’t want to lose my community too. We need to be mindful of the language we use when describing those who oppress us.

One more thing, if I haven’t said this yet, thank you for being in my life.

(Karen…have you seen my testosterone, I think I need a shot)!

Our Ability to Change

September 22, 2008

Over the course of the past week or so I’ve been having conversations with people from my past who have come back into my life and have shown remarkable evidence of changes they have made in their lives. 

I’m not talking about a transgender transition but other kinds of changes. Changes in their beliefs and loss of bigotry and intolerance, total changes in personality.
 A few of those people talked about spiritual experiences while others spoke of their ignorance and lack of education on certain topics. Seeing these people again and their new found peace and acceptance got me thinking about our ability to change and how some of us can be so suspicious of it when people do change.

I find it rather comical and sad to watch the people in a community whose lives revolve around a transition and strive for acceptance be marred by suspicions of other people’s ability to change.

I know that over the past year I have consciously made some changes in my life and although I feel there are more I need to make, I am feeling pretty good about myself for a change.
Aren’t we all just a work in progress?

Entitlement

September 1, 2008

Entitlement

A very good friend of mine just explained entitlement in the way it pertains to transgender people who live in the United States where we don’t have nondiscrimination laws in place but where they are trying to add sexual orientation only. Here is what she has to say:

“I haven’t met many trans activists who are motivated because they are entitled. It just never comes up where they say they feel entitled.  I have met Log Cabin Republicans who “know” they are “entitled” and you know it when you are in the same room with them. They will let you know they are entitled.  They exclude us because they are entitled and we are not.”

Male privilege is only something I’ve experienced while living as a man or a woman but as soon as I am outed or disclose that I am trans, I have no privilege, no entitlement at all.
I don’t believe that incrementalism has a place in the life of a transgender person, we need to stop asking and start taking.