Menstuff® has compiled the following information on the issue of gender fluidity.
No, Trans Women Are NOT Biologically Male
Beyond He or She
of LGBATQQI + Term Definitions
This week's TIME cover story, with exclusive data from GLAAD, explores a change taking hold in American culture. The piece explores how you-do-you young people are questioning the conventions that when it comes to gender and sexuality, there are only two options for each: male or female, gay or straight.
Those aspects of identity how one sees themselves as a man or woman, for instance, and who they are drawn to physically and romantically are distinct but undergoing similar sea changes, as teenagers and 20-somethings reject notions of what society has told them about who they are supposed to be.
In a new survey from LGBTQ advocacy organization GLAAD, conducted by Harris Poll, those open minds are reflected in the numbers: 20% of millennials say they are something other that strictly straight and cisgender, compared to 7% of boomers. The people in that group may be be a little sexually curious about people of their own gender or may reject the notion that they have a gender in the first place.
"There have been the generations that have lived by the rules and those generations that break the rules," says GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. Young people today, she says, are "redefining everything."
TIME interviewed dozens of people around the U.S. about their attitudes toward sexuality and gender, from San Francisco to small-town Missouri. Many said they believe that both sexuality and gender are less like a toggle between this-or-that and more like a spectrum that allows for many even endless permutations of identity. Some of those young people identified as straight, others as gay, still others as genderqueer, gender fluid, asexual, gender nonconforming and queer. Several said they use the pronoun they rather than he or she to refer to themselves.
This variety of identities is something that people are seeing reflected in the culture at large. Facebook, with its 1 billion users, has about 60 options for users' gender. Dating app Tinder has about 40. Influential celebrities, such as Miley Cyrus (who spoke to TIME for this article), have come out as everything from flexible in their gender to sexually fluid to "mostly straight."
Even young people who don't understand the nuances of gender or sexuality that their peers describe tend to be more accepting of whatever identities they encounter. When market research firm Culture Co-op, which specializes in young Americans' attitudes, asked about 1,000 young people whether they think that Facebook's 60 options for gender are excessive, nearly a third of them responded that they believe this amount is just about right or too few.
Not everyone is on board. LGBTQ people continue to be at risk for harassment and assault at school, as well as for attempting suicide. Many experience family rejection, as well as both peers and adults who question whether their feelings about gender or sexuality are "real."
In state legislatures, lawmakers are meanwhile debating the very meaning of the words sex and gender in debates over so-called "bathroom bills. Lawsuits alleging that sexual orientation and gender identity are covered under bans on sex discrimination are fleshing out the meaning of that word too. But it is clear that for many people these binaries are bedrocks they will fight to defend.
"Its not easy when we talk about these issues. Cisgender. Transgender. How many genders are there? Are we created man and woman? Or do we internalize something different?" a Texas lawmaker recently asked while defending a bill that would require people to use bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate. "I think the god I believe in, the cross I wear today," she added at another hearing on the bill, "said there was man and woman."
But many experts say that language is more limited than
the sum of human experience and that words are important for
people in the throes of self-discovery, whether they feel
they belong in these binaries or beyond them.Young people
"are not just saying Screw you, says Ritch
Savin-Williams, a professor emeritus of psychology at
Cornell University who studies sexual behavior. Their
embrace of a vast array of identities says, Your
terms, what youre trying to do, does not reflect my
reality or the reality of my friends.
A growing number of Americans are taking their private struggles with their identities into the public realm. How those who believe they were born with the wrong bodies are forcing us to re-examine what it means to be male and female.
May 21, 2007 issue - Growing up in Corinth, Miss., J. T. Hayes had A legacy to attend to. His dad was a well-known race-car driver and Hayes spent much of his childhood tinkering in the family's greasy garage, learning how to design and build cars. By the age of 10, he had started racing in his own right. Eventually Hayes won more than 500 regional and national championships in go-kart, midget and sprint racing, even making it to the NASCAR Winston Cup in the early '90s. But behind the trophies and the swagger of the racing circuit, Hayes was harboring a painful secret: he had always believed he was a woman. He had feminine features and a slight frameat 5 feet 6 and 118 pounds he was downright daintyand had always felt, psychologically, like a girl. Only his anatomy got in the way. Since childhood he'd wrestled with what to do about it. He'd slip on "girl clothes" he hid under the mattress and try his hand with makeup. But he knew he'd find little support in his conservative hometown.
In 1991, Hayes had a moment of truth. He was driving a sprint car on a dirt track in Little Rock when the car flipped end over end. "I was trapped upside down, engine throttle stuck, fuel running all over the racetrack and me," Hayes recalls. "The accident didn't scare me, but the thought that I hadn't lived life to its full potential just ran chill bumps up and down my body." That night he vowed to complete the transition to womanhood. Hayes kept racing while he sought therapy and started hormone treatments, hiding his growing breasts under an Ace bandage and baggy T shirts.
Finally, in 1994, at 30, Hayes raced on a Saturday night in Memphis, then drove to Colorado the next day for sex-reassignment surgery, selling his prized race car to pay the tab. Hayes chose the name Terri O'Connell and began a new life as a woman who figured her racing days were over. But she had no idea what else to do. Eventually, O'Connell got a job at the mall selling women's handbags for $8 an hour. O'Connell still hopes to race again, but she knows the odds are long: "Transgendered and professional motor sports just don't go together."
To most of us, gender comes as naturally as breathing. We have no quarrel with the "M" or the "F" on our birth certificates. And, crash diets aside, we've made peace with how we want the world to see uspants or skirt, boa or blazer, spiky heels or sneakers. But to those who consider themselves transgender, there's a disconnect between the sex they were assigned at birth and the way they see or express themselves. Though their numbers are relatively fewthe most generous estimate from the National Center for Transgender Equality is between 750,000 and 3 million Americans (fewer than 1 percent)many of them are taking their intimate struggles public for the first time. In April, L.A. Times sportswriter Mike Penner announced in his column that when he returned from vacation, he would do so as a woman, Christine Daniels. Nine states plus Washington, D.C., have enacted antidiscrimination laws that protect transgender peopleand an additional three states have legislation pending, according to the Human Rights Campaign. And this month the U.S. House of Representatives passed a hate-crimes prevention bill that included "gender identity." Today's transgender Americans go far beyond the old stereotypes (think "Rocky Horror Picture Show"). They are soccer moms, ministers, teachers, politicians, even young children. Their push for tolerance and acceptance is reshaping businesses, What is gender anyway? It is certainly more than the physical details of what's between our legs. History and science suggest that gender is more subtle and more complicated than anatomy. (It's separate from sexual orientation, too, which determines which sex we're attracted to.) Gender helps us organize the world into two boxes, his and hers, and gives us a way of quickly sizing up every person we see on the street. "Gender is a way of making the world secure," says feminist scholar Judith Butler, a rhetoric professor at University of California, Berkeley. Though some scholars like Butler consider gender largely a social construct, others increasingly see it as a complex interplay of biology, genes, hormones and culture.
Genesis set up the initial dichotomy: "Male and female he created them." And historically, the differences between men and women in this country were thought to be distinct. Men, fueled by testosterone, were the providers, the fighters, the strong and silent types who brought home dinner. Women, hopped up on estrogen (not to mention the mothering hormone oxytocin), were the nurturers, the communicators, the soft, emotional ones who got that dinner on the table. But as society changed, the stereotypes faded. Now even discussing gender differences can be fraught. (Just ask former Harvard president Larry Summers, who unleashed a wave of criticism when he suggested, in 2005, that women might have less natural aptitude for math and science.) Still, even the most diehard feminist would likely agree that, even apart from genitalia, we are not exactly alike. In many cases, our habits, our posture, and even cultural identifiers like the way we dress set us apart.
Now, as transgender people become more visible and challenge the old boundaries, they've given voice to another debatewhether gender comes in just two flavors. "The old categories that everybody's either biologically male or female, that there are two distinct categories and there's no overlap, that's beginning to break down," says Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor at SUNY-Stony Brook. "All of those old categories seem to be more fluid." Just the terminology can get confusing. "Transsexual" is an older term that usually refers to someone who wants to use hormones or surgery to change their sex. "Transvestites," now more politely called "cross-dressers," occasionally wear clothes of the opposite sex. "Transgender" is an umbrella term that includes anyone whose gender identity or expression differs from the sex of their birthwhether they have surgery or not.
Gender identity first becomes an issue in early childhood, as any parent who's watched a toddler lunge for a truck or a doll can tell you. That's also when some kids may become aware that their bodies and brains don't quite match up. Jona Rose, a 6-year-old kindergartner in northern California, seems like a girl in nearly every wayshe wears dresses, loves pink and purple, and bestowed female names on all her stuffed animals. But Jona, who was born Jonah, also has a penis. When she was 4, her mom, Pam, offered to buy Jona a dress, and she was so excited she nearly hyperventilated. She began wearing dresses every day to preschool and no one seemed to mind. It wasn't easy at first. "We wrung our hands about this every night," says her dad, Joel. But finally he and Pam decided to let their son live as a girl. They chose a private kindergarten where Jona wouldn't have to hide the fact that he was born a boy, but could comfortably dress like a girl and even use the girls' bathroom. "She has been pretty adamant from the get-go: 'I am a girl'," says Joel.
Male or female, we all start life looking pretty much the same. Genes determine whether a particular human embryo will develop as male or female. But each individual embryo is equipped to be either oneeach possesses the Mullerian ducts that become the female reproductive system as well as the Wolffian ducts that become the male one. Around eight weeks of development, through a complex genetic relay race, the X and the male's Y chromosomes kick into gear, directing the structures to become testes or ovaries. (In most cases, the unneeded extra structures simply break down.) The ovaries and the testes are soon pumping out estrogen and testosterone, bathing the developing fetus in hormones. Meanwhile, the brain begins to form, complete with receptorswired differently in men and womenthat will later determine how both estrogen and testosterone are used in the body.
After birth, the changes keep coming. In many species, male newborns experience a hormone surge that may "organize" sexual and behavioral traits, says Nirao Shah, a neuroscientist at UCSF. In rats, testosterone given in the first week of life can cause female babies to behave more like males once they reach adulthood. "These changes are thought to be irreversible," says Shah. Between 1 and 5 months, male human babies also experience a hormone surge. It's still unclear exactly what effect that surge has on the human brain, but it happens just when parents are oohing and aahing over their new arrivals.
Here's where culture comes in. Studies have shown that parents treat boys and girls very differentlybreast-feeding boys longer but talking more to girls. That's going on while the baby's brain is engaged in a massive growth spurt. "The brain doubles in size in the first five years after birth, and the connectivity between the cells goes up hundreds of orders of magnitude," says Anne Fausto-Sterling, a biologist and feminist at Brown University who is currently investigating whether subtle differences in parental behavior could influence gender identity in very young children. "The brain is interacting with culture from day one."
So what's different in transgender people? Scientists don't know for certain. Though their hormone levels seem to be the same as non-trans levels, some scientists speculate that their brains react differently to the hormones, just as men's differ from women's. But that could take decades of further research to prove. One 1997 study tantalizingly suggested structural differences between male, female and transsexual brains, but it has yet to be successfully replicated. Some transgender people blame the environment, citing studies that show pollutants have disrupted reproduction in frogs and other animals. But those links are so far not proved in humans. For now, transgender issues are classified as "Gender Identity Disorder" in the psychiatric manual DSM-IV. That's controversial, toogay-rights activists spent years campaigning to have homosexuality removed from the manual.
Gender fluidity hasn't always seemed shocking. Cross-dressing was common in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as among Native Americans and many other indigenous societies, according to Deborah Rudacille, author of "The Riddle of Gender." Court records from the Jamestown settlement in 1629 describe the case of Thomas Hall, who claimed to be both a man and a woman. Of course, what's considered masculine or feminine has long been a moving target. Our Founding Fathers wouldn't be surprised to see men today with long hair or earrings, but they might be puzzled by women in pants.
Transgender opponents have often turned to the Bible for support. Deut. 22:5 says: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God." When word leaked in February that Steve Stanton, the Largo, Fla., city manager for 14 years, was planning to transition to life as a woman, the community erupted. At a public meeting over whether Stanton should be fired, one of many critics, Ron Sanders, pastor of the Lighthouse Baptist Church, insisted that Jesus would "want him terminated." (Stanton did lose his job and this week will appear as Susan Stanton on Capitol Hill to lobby for antidiscrimination laws.) Equating gender change with homosexuality, Sanders says that "it's an abomination, which means that it's utterly disgusting."
Not all people of faith would agree. Baptist minister John Nemecek, 56, was surfing the Web one weekend in 2003, when his wife was at a baby shower. Desperate for clues to his long-suppressed feelings of femininity, he stumbled across an article about gender-identity disorder on WebMD. The suggested remedy was sex-reassignment surgerysomething Nemecek soon thought he had to do. Many families can be ripped apart by such drastic changes, but Nemecek's wife of 33 years stuck by him. His employer of 15 years, Spring Arbor University, a faith-based liberal-arts college in Michigan, did not. Nemecek says the school claimed that transgenderism violated its Christian principles, and when it renewed Nemecek's contractby then she was taking hormones and using the name Julieit barred her from dressing as a woman on campus or even wearing earrings. Her workload and pay were cut, too, she says. She filed a discrimination claim, which was later settled through mediation. (The university declined to comment on the case.) Nemecek says she has no trouble squaring her gender change and her faith. "Actively expressing the feminine in me has helped me grow closer to God," she says.
Others have had better luck transitioning. Karen Kopriva, now 49, kept her job teaching high school in Lake Forest, Ill., when she shaved her beard and made the switch from Ken. When Mark Stumpp, a vice president at Prudential Financial, returned to work as Margaret in 2002, she sent a memo to her colleagues (subject: Me) explaining the change. "We all joked about wearing panty hose and whether 'my condition' was contagious," she says. But "when the dust settled, everyone got back to work." Companies like IBM and Kodak now cover trans-related medical care. And 125 Fortune 500 companies now protect transgender employees from job discrimination, up from three in 2000. Discrimination may not be the worst worry for transgender people: they are also at high risk of violence and hate crimes.
Perhaps no field has wrestled more with the issue of gender than sports. There have long been accusations about male athletes' trying to pass as women, or women's taking testosterone to gain a competitive edge. In the 1960s, would-be female Olympians were required to undergo gender-screening tests. Essentially, that meant baring all before a panel of doctors who could verify that an athlete had girl parts. That method was soon scrapped in favor of a genetic test. But that quickly led to confusion over a handful of genetic disorders that give typical-looking women chromosomes other than the usual XX. Finally, the International Olympic Committee ditched mandatory lab-based screening, too. "We found there is no scientifically sound lab-based technique that can differentiate between man and woman," says Arne Ljungqvist, chair of the IOC's medical commission.
The IOC recently waded into controversy again: in 2004 it issued regulations allowing transsexual athletes to compete in the Olympics if they've had sex-reassignment surgery and have taken hormones for two years. After convening a panel of experts, the IOC decided that the surgery and hormones would compensate for any hormonal or muscular advantage a male-to-female transsexual would have. (Female-to-male athletes would be allowed to take testosterone, but only at levels that wouldn't give them a boost.) So far, Ljungqvist doesn't know of any transsexual athletes who've competed. Ironically, Renee Richards, who won a lawsuit in 1977 for the right to play tennis as a woman after her own sex-reassignment surgery, questions the fairness of the IOC rule. She thinks decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.
Richards and other pioneers reflect the huge cultural shift over a generation of gender change. Now 70, Richards rejects the term transgender along with all the fluidity it conveys. "God didn't put us on this earth to have gender diversity," she says. "I don't like the kids that are experimenting. I didn't want to be something in between. I didn't want to be trans anything. I wanted to be a man or a woman."
But more young people are embracing something we would traditionally consider in between. Because of the expense, invasiveness and mixed results (especially for women becoming men), only 1,000 to 2,000 Americans each year get sex-reassignment surgerya number that's on the rise, says Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Mykell Miller, a Northwestern University student born female who now considers himself male, hides his breasts under a special compression vest. Though he one day wants to take hormones and get a mastectomy, he can't yet afford it. But that doesn't affect his self-image. "I challenge the idea that all men were born with male bodies," he says. "I don't go out of my way to be the biggest, strongest guy."
Nowhere is the issue more pressing at the moment than a place that helped give rise to feminist movement a generation ago: Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Though Smith was one of the original Seven Sisters women's colleges, its students have now taken to calling it a "mostly women's college," in part because of a growing number of "transmen" who decide to become male after they've enrolled. In 2004, students voted to remove pronouns from the student government constitution as a gesture to transgender students who no longer identified with "she" or "her." (Smith is also one of 70 schools that have antidiscrimination policies protecting transgender students.) For now, anyone who is enrolled at Smith may graduate, but in order to be admitted in the first place, you must have been born a female. Tobias Davis, class of '03, entered Smith as a woman, but graduated as a "transman." When he first told friends over dinner, "I think I might be a boy," they were instantly behind him, saying "Great! Have you picked a name yet?" Davis passed as male for his junior year abroad in Italy even without taking hormones; he had a mastectomy last fall. Now 25, Davis works at Smith and writes plays about the transgender experience. (His work "The Naked I: Monologues From Beyond the Binary" is a trans take on "The Vagina Monologues.")
As kids at ever-younger ages grapple with issues of gender variance, doctors, psychologists and parents are weighing how to balance immediate desires and long-term ones. Like Jona Rose, many kids begin questioning gender as toddlers, identifying with the other gender's toys and clothes. Five times as many boys as girls say their gender doesn't match their biological sex, says Dr. Edgardo Menvielle, a psychiatrist who heads a gender-variance outreach program at Children's National Medical Center. (Perhaps that's because it's easier for girls to blend in as tomboys.) Many of these children eventually move on and accept their biological sex, says Menvielle, often when they're exposed to a disapproving larger world or when they're influenced by the hormone surges of puberty. Only about 15 percent continue to show signs of gender-identity problems into adulthood, says Ken Zucker, who heads the Gender Identity Service at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
In the past, doctors often advised parents to direct their kids into more gender-appropriate clothing and behavior. Zucker still tells parents of unhappy boys to try more-neutral activitiessay chess club instead of football. But now the thinking is that kids should lead the way. If a child persists in wanting to be the other gender, doctors may prescribe hormone "blockers" to keep puberty at bay. (Blockers have no permanent effects.) But they're also increasingly willing to take more lasting steps: Isaak Brown (who started life as Liza) began taking male hormones at 16; at 17 he had a mastectomy.
For parents like Colleen Vincente, 44, following a child's lead seems only natural. Her second child, M. (Vincente asked to use an initial to protect the child's privacy), was born female. But as soon as she could talk, she insisted on wearing boy's clothes. Though M. had plenty of dolls, she gravitated toward "the boy things" and soon wanted to shave off all her hair. "We went along with that," says Vincente. "We figured it was a phase." One day, when she was 2½, M. overheard her parents talking about her using female pronouns. "He said, 'NoI'm a him. You need to call me him'," Vincente recalls. "We were shocked." In his California preschool, M. continued to insist he was a boy and decided to change his name. Vincente and her husband, John, consulted a therapist, who confirmed their instincts to let M. guide them. Now 9, M. lives as a boy and most people have no idea he was born otherwise. "The most important thing is to realize this is who your child is," Vincente says. That's a big step for a family, but could be an even bigger one for the rest of the world.
This story was written by Debra Rosenberg, with Reporting
from Lorraine Ali, Mary Carmichael, Samantha Henig, Raina
Kelley, Matthew Philips, Julie Scelfo, Kurt Soller, Karen
Springen And Lynn Waddell.
transgender issues divide along religious
Most Christians in the United States (63%) say that whether someone is a man or a woman is determined by their sex at birth. Among religious nones those who identify religiously as atheist, agnostic or nothing in particular about six-in-ten (62%) say they think a persons gender is not necessarily determined by the sex they are assigned at birth.
The new analysis is drawn from a recent survey that showed the American public was also deeply divided along partisan lines on the question.
Among Christians, white evangelical Protestants (84%) are most likely to say that gender is determined by sex at birth. Many black Protestants (59%) and white mainline Protestants (55%) also feel this way. Catholics are divided on the question, with 51% saying gender is a function of ones birth sex, while 46% say it is possible for someone to be of a gender different from their sex at birth.
Religious differences also extend to questions about societal acceptance of transgender people. Most white evangelical Protestants (61%) say society has gone too far when it comes to accepting people who are transgender. And Pew Research Center polling conducted in the summer of 2016 found that seven-in-ten white evangelical Protestants think that transgender people should be required to use the public restrooms that correspond with their birth gender.
By comparison, other Christian groups are more evenly divided on these questions. And most religious nones (57%) say society has not gone far enough when it comes to accepting people who are transgender, and that transgender individuals should be allowed to use public restrooms corresponding to their current gender identity (70%).
Overall, the new survey finds that roughly a third of Christians (34%) say they personally know someone who is transgender, ranging from 25% of white evangelicals to 41% of white mainline Protestants and the same share of black Protestants. About four-in-ten religious nones (43%) say this, including half of those who describe themselves as atheists or agnostics.
Note: See full topline results here
(2 page PDF).
Back in 2014, Katie Couric got herself into a bit of trouble. Interviewing transgender model Carmen Carrera, Couric asked some very invasive questions about Carreras pre-transition identity and the current state of her genitals. Though Couric was widely scrutinized for the inappropriate interview, she thankfully did not give up on her commitment to bringing more visibility and understanding to transgender people.
On Monday night, the National Geographic Channel will premiere Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric. A companion piece to National Geographic Magazines recent Gender Revolution issue, which featured a transgender girl on the cover, the new documentary follow Couric across the states as she unpacks all the complexities of gender.
Playing a bit coy, Couric invites people to share their experiences to help the viewer understand how to conceptualize gender and how to understand what it means to be intersex and transgender. In this clip from the beginning of the film, she talks with author Sam Killerman about some basic terminology like sexual orientation and gender identity:
From there, Couric crisscrosses the country to explore intersex and transgender identities by talking to the people best equipped to talk about them: intersex and transgender people. She arguably leave no stone unturned.
After a basic explanation of intersex people, those born with ambiguous genitalia, she speaks with someone who was surgically altered as an infant and raised in what turned out to be the wrong gender. She also meets a family who chose not to surgically alter their intersex child, leaving her with the opportunity to make her own determinations about her gender as she ages.
From there, Couric segues into exploring transgender identities, and there is no shortage of conversations with trans people, including several kids. She visits the Ford family in Washington, D.C. to meet Ellie, a five-year-old transgender girl, and her very supportive parents. She also chats with a tween trans girl who was suicidal before she socially transitioned and who is also participating in a study conducted by Kristina Olson, one of the most prominent researchers of trans youth. Gavin Grimm, the Virginia teen who just wanted to be able to use the boys bathroom at school, discusses his case thats headed to the Supreme Court. And its not just kids; Couric also meets some people who transitioned rather late in life.
Couric sometimes plays a little too dumb at parts. Perhaps because of editing, there are times in the film where she fails to implement some etiquette that she learned in a previous segment. For example, after a transgender woman about to undergo her gender confirmation surgery explains why she doesnt want to discuss the name she had before she transitioned, Couric then interviews another trans woman and openly refers to her dead name. For those who have the most questions about these topics, these minor gaffs??imperfect as they are??will either go unnoticed or could even make the lessons of the film more accessible.
Gender Revolution is a remarkably comprehensive but approachable film. Not only does it explain various concepts of gender that viewers might not understand, it does so by featuring the trans and intersex people most impacted by stigma and discrimination. One poignant segment highlights a trans business owner who is trying to create job opportunities for transgender people. After the discrimination theyve experienced, the trans women who have filled these positions tear up discussing how grateful they are to have something as simple as a fast food job, simply because they can make a living and feel safe in the workplace. These kinds of stories make the film both a compelling documentary and an educational tool that will surely be used for years to come.
The documentary premiered at a screening in Washington, D.C. last week to a very appreciative audience. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, was not subtle about how powerful the film was. This is going to save lives, she said.
And Couric herself seemed humble and appreciative to have taken the journey. During the panel after the screening, she brought up the Carrera interview and acknowledged how she went wrong. As she explained to The Daily Beast this week, I think that I made a mistake, and I wanted to make sure that people knew that I recognized I made a mistake.
If this film is any indication, shes gone above and beyond to correct that mistake in a way that trans and intersex people will surely benefit from for some time.
Gender Revolution premieres Monday night 2/20/17 at 9/8c
on the National Geographic Channel
Miley Cyrus has been known to bring guests who represent causes for which she advocates to glamorous televised events. Last year, she brought Jesse, a homeless young man, to the MTV Vide Music Awards in an effort to raise awareness for homeless youth. Tonight, she plans to bring Tyler, a "queer, biracial, agender person," to the Inspiration Gala in New York hosted by amFAR.
Cyrus posted a picture to Instagram today introducing Tyler. Her caption reads:
"Meet Tyler (@tywrent), a 24 year old living in New York City, and my date for @amfar tonight!!! Tyler is a queer, biracial, agender person, whose pronouns are they/them/theirs. Tyler shares about their identity, experiences and hopes saying: 'My whole life, I was led to believe that there were only two genders. I thought I had to shrink myself to fit into a box that was never going to contain me. It took years for me to find words for my gender identity, and to feel comfortable expressing myself as I am.'"
Cyrus is being honored at the amFAR Gala tonight for her contributions to the fight against AIDS. We have no doubt that she will introduce her date and perhaps even have Tyler speak if Cyrus is called up to the stage. We look forward to the enlightening event.
Cyrus has recently been utilizing her Instagram account to advocate for transgender and gender expansive people like Tyler. In the caption for one of her Instagram pictures in the series, she wrote:
"I'm launching #InstaPride today, in partnership with @Instagram, to share stories of transgender and gender expansive people from around the country. Over the next 2 weeks, you'll meet them and the people in their lives who support them, as we highlight their stories of resilience."
She posts pictures of these individuals alongside very personal quotes about their previous discomfort in their own bodies and the relief they feel now to accept and embrace their identities. The quotation by Leo, a transgender male, reads:
"This last year as I've been transitioning, there've been a lot of moments when I truly felt free to be myself: the moment I woke up from top surgery, the day the bandages came off, my first shot of testosterone. Sometimes, I'll be out in public with my family or just hanging around with friends, and I remember that I'm no longer having to hide anything about who I am. I'm not afraid to move anymore and I know who I am. Everything about me right now is exactly as it should be."
The Instagram pictures are part of Happy Hippie
Foundation's mission to fight injustice facing homeless
youth, LGBTQ youth, and other groups of people subjected to
vulnerability. Each of Cyrus' Instagram pictures in the
series contains the hashtag #InstaPride. She's spreading
pride and acceptance throughout the Insta-verse.
Young people who identify as transgender experience high rates of family and community rejection. That, compounded with growing up in a world that typically sees people as male or female, means that transgender youth arrive at youth-serving agencies with substantial trauma histories. In addition to providing a welcoming and safe environment, its important that programs and systems understand the experiences of transgender youth and their unique service needs.
In this edition of NCFY Reports, we explore different
areas that transgender youth may have to navigate - shelters
and transitional living programs, sexual health clinics, and
foster care. For each space, there are steps that adults can
take to help transgender youth feel welcome and successfully
make their way into adulthood.
Check out the video for an exclusive clip from the show.
In perhaps what is one of the biggest moments for mainstream transgender visibility, Laverne Coxs show telling the story of trans youth will premiere on MTV and Logo TV tonight.
Called The T Word, the show provides a platform for seven trans youth, ranging in age from 12-24, to tell the story of what it means to them to be transgender. Featuring trans youth from across the country, The T Word will explore the intersections of transgender identity and race through the eyes of youth with varying levels of support from their parents and peers
For many of us, the T in LGBT means more than transgender, it also means truth, Cox said in a statement. The cast members in this documentary are fearlessly living their truths and in sharing their stories will send the message to other trans youth that its okay to be who you are.
Fans can tweet questions for Laverne and the live after show using the hashtag #TWord. Also, as a release sent to The Huffington Post notes:
To support Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, MTVs Look Different campaign has launched a trans resource hub on LookDifferent.org, where young people can learn more about being transgender, get tips on how to be an ally to the transgender community, get help, and share their personal stories about living authentically using #livemytruth. MTVs Look Different campaign aims to help young people better recognize and challenge hidden racial, gender and anti-LGBT biases and empower them to create a more equal future.
The T Word premieres Friday, October 17, 2016
at 7 p.m. on MTV and Logo TV. Head here
for more details.
We live in the most progressive society in our nations history where people of all colors, backgrounds and lifestyles flourish in major industries. At times, this transition into a more open-minded America (and world) has been rough, but seeing historically-oppressed people succeed and inspire others is truly a beautiful thing.
Hit the jump for an essential gallery of transgender celebs you should know.source:
Laverne Cox The globally-beloved Orange is the New Black star/LGBT activist recently made history as the first Transgender woman to ever be nominated for an Emmy. So yea, shes kind of a big deal.
Janet Mock After revealing that shes a transgender woman, the charismatic New York Times best-selling author, transgender rights activist and Marie Claire contributing editor became one of the leading voices of the LGBT movement.
Isis King The boundary-pushing fashion designer/LGBT advocate turned heads and inspired millions as the first trans woman to compete on Americas Next Top Model.
B. Scott The flashy television personality/internet celebrity rose to stardom with his wildly-popular YouTube vlogs and website LoveBScott.com while also serving as contributing editor to The Glam Network and an Ebony Magazine advice columnist.
Ines Rau Mostly known for her steamy photoshoot with Tyson Beckford for Frances OOB Magazine, shes currently one of the hottest transgender models in the world.
Alexis Arquette You may know the incredibly-talented transgender activist, musician, cabaret performer and actress from countless films (Pulp Fiction)/TV shows (Friends) that span over 20 years.
Carmen Carrera The stunning reality star/burlesque performer is best known for her appearance on the third season of RuPauls Drag Race and modeling work with world famous photographer David La Chapelle.
Chaz Bono The son of Cher and Sonny Bono was already a visible LGBT activist before revealing that hes a transgender man.
Amiyah Scott The internet famous model/makeup artist/entrepreneur is a rising star in the Transgender community whos always being linked romantically to high-profile rappers, singers & athletes.
Amanda Lepore The iconic NYC entertainer/fashion icon paved the way for transgender entertainers before spiraling out of control with an expensive plastic surgery addiction.
Lea T The world-famous Brazilian supermodel is best known for modeling in Riccardo Tiscis Givenchy campaign and baring all for Vogue France.
Kye Allums Hes the first transgender NCAA Division 1 college athlete who played for the womens team even though he identified as male.
Candis Cayne Shes the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character on primetime TV (ABCs DSM) and appeared on RuPauls Drag Race, Nip/Tuck and Necessary Roughness.
Jenna Talackova The star of E! Networks Brave New Girls rose to fame after being disqualified from the Miss Universe Canadian pageant in 2012 for being a transgender woman.
Marci Bowers, M.D. Shes a pioneering surgeon in transgender transitional surgery and the first transgender woman to perform these surgeries.
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It's the dawn of a new day as Zoey Tur slips into pantyhose and puts on makeup.
She told INSIDE EDITION, "It's difficult to get ready. It is complicated. When you're a guy, you don't need any of this." Wearing a dress, well, that's a whole other story.
Until recently, Zoey Tur was Bob Tur, the ruggedly handsome news helicopter pilot, famous across America for his coverage of the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase in 1994 and the L.A. riots.
INSIDE EDITION's Jim Moret has known Bob Tur for 25 years. He said, "So, I have to be honest, it takes some getting used to seeing him for the first time as a woman."
Zoey told Moret, "Trying to erase 53 years of being a macho aggressive guy to trying to be a woman and this is greatest challenge of my life."
Zoey says she felt she had a feminine side as far back as her sixth birthday party. For most of her life, Zoey suppressed her feminine urges when she was known as Bob. She got married, had children and became a pilot earning fame reporting on the news.
Moret said, "By most accounts you were great at being a guy. You were doing macho things. You
were a maverick helicopter pilot. You were successful. You were a husband. You were a father. You were a tough dude."
"I was, yeah," Zoey said. "I was in dozens of fights. Broken nose. It was an act, I was portraying a part."
Zoey's wife, Merika says she never had a clue her husband was secretly yearning to be a woman.
Merika told INSIDE EDITION, "He was a man on a mission, someone who knew what he wanted to do and get what he wanted. Very macho. Almost dismissive of women."
In 2007 Zoey's marriage fell apart. Merika said, "He was angry, very angry forever. If the source of all his anger and the things terrible about our marriage were that he wanted to be a woman, I wish he would have done it a long time ago. It would have been a lot better."
Zoey finally decided to make the transition only a year ago. She went to Thailand where sex change surgery is less expensive.
Zoey said, "At this point I said to myself, 'This would be a good time to run. If you have any doubts, this would be a good time to run.'"
"Did you have any doubts?" Moret asked.
"No," she replied.
Zoey underwent both sex reassignment surgery and a facial feminization procedure. The person who emerged was a woman named Zoey.
Zoey said, "70 percent of time I'm perceived as female, 30 percent of the time it is like [mimics an awkward stare] and I look at them and say, 'Pick one.'"
Today, Zoey is learning a new way of living. She stopped by Sephora for a makeup lesson. She learned everything from how to apply concealer and foundation, as well as lipstick and the finishing touch, mascara.
Since her return to the United States, she has been undergoing laser hair removal to achieve a more feminine look and feel.
Zoey says men treat her differently now that she is a woman. She says her college-ged son, Jamie, has taken the transition well. But her daughter, Katy, an NBC network news correspondent, is very upset.
Zoey said, "My daughter said, 'Transitioning. You know, it is bad enough being 30, but you wanna be a 54-year-old woman?' She saw her father a certain way. This hero pilot. Bob Tur was legendary and she liked that. She has trouble with that and she should. She has to meet and understand who I am."
Every day is a new revelation for Zoey and she is open to fashion advice from other women.
She is looking to meet a nice guy. She'd like to get married again and she also wants to make amends with her ex-wife, Marika.
INSIDE EDITION captured the first time Marika will be seeing her ex-husband as a woman and she was very nervous about it. It turned out well. Hug and best wishes from both sides.
Zoey said, "I love her and care about her."
Marika replied, "I just want her to be happy."
Zoey Tur will be joining Inside Edition as the nation's
first transgender television reporter. The
pilot-turned-reporter will be a special correspondent in
A NASCAR champion gave up everything to become a woman. Can she reclaim her racing life? A Turning Points essay.
J.T. Hayes won over 500 regional and national championships in go-kart, midget and sprint racing and competed in NASCAR Winston Cup before undergoing sex-reassignment surgery in 1994 at age 30. During the two years she transitioned from man to woman, the Corinth, Miss., native raced throughout the South and California, wrapping an Ace bandage over her breasts to flatten them out ("Boys Don't Cry"-style), wearing baggy T shirts and tucking her long hair under a baseball cap. Now as Terri O'Connell, she's had very little luck breaking back into the racing world. O'Connell still lives in Corinth with her elderly mother and is working on a clothing line for female NASCAR fans. The petite redhead is also writing a memoir, "Dangerous Curves," (due this fall). She'd like to get back on the track and is currently looking for a sponsor.
The terms transgendered and professional motor sports just don't go together, especially when you say I'm 5 foot 6 inches and weigh 118 pounds. I have girl's bodysmall, fragile and tiny.
I grew up in a little community in Mississippi. There were 10 or 15 boys in the neighborhood, we played sports in the front yard, and my daddy always had men over to work on race cars in the garage. He was a race-car driver, so I had this cache of toughness. I didn't get bullied too much. But by junior high, my mom stuck me in these sports programs to make me tougher and I started getting picked on. I was looked at like a girl, so bullies in gym class used to sit on top of me and put me in headlocks. I was lugging around this whole transgender thing and I was already depressedsuicidal really. I will never forget when we registered for school in the fall of eighth grade, this girl said to me, You know, you got prettier legs than any girl in this school. It scared the hell out of me because I knew it, but I didn't want anybody else knowing it.
When puberty kicks in, that's when it becomes complicated. You're in a panic over it. Oh, my God, what am I gonna do! As a kid, I had girl clothes I hid under the mattress: I'd slip 'em on, put some makeup on. You're depressed over it, but you're still not mature enough to know this is gonna get out of hand at some point. No matter if youre from New York or Corinth, it's difficult to endure, but when you throw on the social atmosphere of the right-wing, bigoted, Southern Baptist, Pentecostal Southand motor sportsyou build a wall around your life and don't let anybody in.
I never did feel I was in the wrong body though, because when I woke up and looked at myself, I was looking at a girl. I saw this little cute face looking back at me. I knew my body compared to my friend's bodies was different. I had a small waist and bigger hips than they had. I was just tiny and feminine. But I had this male urology. Not only was I psychologically and emotionally feeling what girls feel, I also have this girl's body with things attached to it that don't fit. That's how I knew I was transgender; not only was I feeling it, I was looking at it everyday.
Eventually, I started racing more and more, and started racing on a national level and became a national champion, so I had that cache too. But I told my story to three of my best buddies in my hometown back in the early '80sOh, I'm hurting, I have to go do this thing [transition]and they went and told everybody in town. So really, from then on I was a scandal in my hometown. They were just looking for something. You had to watch your Ps and Qs.
Once that rumor was out on the racing circuit, throughout my career, I was always trying to outrun it. Moving from one team to the next until the rumor caught up with me. Then once I had my surgery I walked away from the sport entirely. It was like, OK, I'm done with this.
What pushed me to that point was a sprint-car accident in Little Rock, Ark., in 1991. I went end over end, side over side, destroyed the race car. I was trapped upside down, engine throttle stuck wide open, fuel running all over the race track and me. Once all the smoke had cleared and they got me out of the car, I thought, You know, this could have been it. I've had a ton of accidents, broke half the bones in my body, had wrecks where I should have died. This one, I only busted a rib, but I was trapped like that. I suppose the accident didn't scare me as much as the thought that I hadn't lived my life to it's full potential. That just gave me chills.
I'd been toying around with this gender issue for 10 years, driving my parents crazy, driving myself crazy, outrunning the rumors. I had all these high-powered people lined up to get my career going down the road, and I wasn't happy. I knew what I wanted to do, I'd just been putting it off. That night, I made a decision. I knew it was going to take two years. It was the first time I had a plan, and I didn't care this time if anyone rejected me, if I lost my careerI had to fix my life.
I went home, told my parents [I wanted surgery], my daddy went crazy: Oh, my God, you can't do that! So I went and lived with some friends in California and I was living full time as a woman. I got a job working at a print shop, but ultimately, I couldn't make a living. So I got my old black book out and started dialing up some race people I knew on the West Coast. They said, If you show up you can drive. Here I am going through transition, so I thought, what am I gonna do? I just put my hair up under a cap, put my only pair of boy jeans on and went to the racetrack. I looked pitiful. They noticed, but they didn't say much. We were making money.
Father's Day weekend I called my daddy, told him I won a race the night before in hopes he'd say, Oh, that's great! But when I called him, he hung up on me. I broke down, slid down this telephone booth, onto the sidewalk and started to weep uncontrollably. People rushed outside to see what was wrong with me. Daddy took me back in because I said I was going to be J.T. again. I was racing again too. We started putting the NASCAR program together. So I went from living full time as a woman to driving as a man for a sprint-car team in Mississippi to running a NASCAR Nextel Cup race in March. That was a hell of a year.
All through my transition, my dad tolerated it. We went racing together, I lived at the house. We had even made a deal we would sell my race car to pay for the surgery. But when I finally asked for it, he reneged on me. I was suicidal after that. Then my mother told him she'd kill him if he didn't do it. He did it. I raced a Midget race in Memphis on Saturday night and was in surgery on Wednesday in Colorado. What a damn deal. It's almost difficult to believe at times. If I had not lived this life, I would not believe it. My parents took three or four days to call me in the hospital. You know, they were small-town Mississippi people, plus I was their only child. When I got back, my dad totally shut down. It's like he went into mourning, so I moved to Charlotte, N.C., in April of 1994. It took him five months to talk to me. Ultimately, by Christmas, my dad came around. There we were, watching TV, hanging out under the Afghan on the couch. I later brought my boyfriend around, and he and my dad hung out, rummaging around in junk yards for parts.
After my surgery, I knew I had to leave Corinth and racing. My background, my education, was motor sports and mechanical engineering. I grew up working at my dad's tool-and-die business and I always hated it. I wanted to get as far away from the mechanical engineering field as soon as I could. When I moved to North Carolina, I had $25 to my name and no job. I drove to the mall in Charlotte, filled out at an application at Dillards and they hired me on the spot. I went from driving race cars, making a six-figure salary and signing autographs to selling purses for $8 an hour in the mall. One of the biggest things my psychiatrist and I dealt with was the ego blow after I left racing.
But I did not want to race right after surgery. I fully knew I had to heal for at least a year before I could risk having a racing accident. My head was in a good place at that time, but I did miss the action and the atmosphere. I fully felt like my professional driving career was over.
I knew I had this gift for art though, specifically motor-sports art, and my creativity was in full throttle. When I was selling handbags, I put my brain to work figuring out how to do something with my art that's when I came up with the idea of a Disney-type store with a motor-sports theme.
I was still going to the racetrack, and dealing with a lot of people on the racing circuit because I had all these ideas for different businessesthe Disney-store thing, women's NASCAR-themed clothing But they knew me as Terri. I just remembered my loss of anonymity back in my home town, and all that implied over the years, and it sent chills down my spine. I felt if any one in Charlotte was to find out my past, all hell would break loose.
After my story broke in the Charlotte press, NASCAR officials went nuts. In fact more than nuts. They were putting their TV contracts in place with Fox, NBC and TNT at the time and they were hell bent on killing the story. I was the last thing they wanted in their midst. But I had been living with those bubbas for four years, socializing, doing business, drinking coffee and eating donuts, and dating a few of them. I really pissed them off at the highest level. They just want me to go away. Not doing it! Some people said if you can get a sponsor you can come back and race, but they know how difficult that is. You need more than $100,000 just to get out on track. Maybe someone will sponsor us at some point. Maybe I just need to get more aggressive and do it.
I don't think the public opinion is one way or another. It's the big boys at the top, the corporations, who don't know what to do with me. For all the negativity I've had to deal with, I've also had a lot of positive reactionfrom women. I was with my mom at the Daytona Beach Mall two summers ago, the day after the Fourth of July race, thinking no one would know who I was. There was a group of women who spotted me, and here they come. I said, We need to get out of here. But a crowd gathered, and I ended up signing autographs for 45 minutes. The love I was gettin'! The women crowded in, the men just stood back. The women see me as a woman, but the redneck bubbas wanna make an issue out of it.
I'm not gonna put a sign on my forehead, OH BY THE WAY, I USED TO BE A MAN. In a situation where you may have a date, I have to suss the person out. If they have common sense, I may tell them, if not, I'm never going to see them again so I don't say anything. I'm not sleeping with anyone at that point anyway. I kind of play it by ear. My boyfriend Ray, I told him on the second date, and he didn't care. I went out with this NASCAR team owner, he knew from the beginning, and we ended up sleeping together. He did not even blink an eyeI was just somebody he found sexually attractive. I was constantly hit on by high-ranking executives in the NASCAR world.
I would like to race again. I've been doing testing and
training, a little bit of racing locally, and I'm gonna try
and do a NASCAR truck event this June. We need about
$150,000 to do it. It'll be big if it happens.
Actor Alexis Arquette on the politics of gender in America.
Seventeen-year-old Alexis Arquette landed her first acting role in 1986 playing a transgender in "Last Exit To Brooklyn." Eighteen years later, she went through a real transition from man to woman. Arquette, an actress, musician and cabaret drag performer, comes from a family of actors that includes siblings Patricia, David, Richmond and Rosanna Arquette, father Lewis Arquette and grandfather Cliff Arquette. She's done almost 70 filmsmostly indie, some adultbut one of her most memorable roles was as the Boy George character in 1998's "The Wedding Singer." "I did play transgender characters that were comedy roles and I feel bad about that now," says Arquette, 37. "That Boy George character, it's offensive to me now." She's now starring in a forthcoming A&E documentary about her transition, "Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother," which just debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
We Are Family: Rosanna, Alexis and
Patricia Arquette (left to right)
NEWSWEEK: Why do a documentary on something so personal?
Alexis Arquette: I decided to document my transition partly because I wanted clarification for myself, but primarily because I wanted to challenge some of things that transgender people have to go through if they want to transition with a doctor in America. A lot of it came out of my conflicts with the standards of care and the idea that we need counseling before an elective surgery. It's questioning that the sanity of people like myself, that we can't make these decisions for ourselves, and doctors or specialists can say no if they don't feel confident with who we are.
It's almost a political issue then, too?
There's no sound-bite compact enough to cover this subject. I wish it could be boxed up and passed out in pretty packages, but it can't be. It's not just that it's a multilayered subject, but it's also different for every person like me. It's hard because I'm using my fame, and exploiting it, but in a positive way to do something beneficial as opposed to catastrophicwhich is what we're constantly doing to ourselves as a group. I'll say it a million timesmy documentary is a vain pursuit, and I can see why a lot of people could say gays are narcissistic, but it is just as important. Until all of us can feel we can walk down the street without ridicule, none of us really will ever be safe from Hitler's Gestapo.
Even before you came out as gay or transgender, you were playing a transsexual in "Last Exit To Brooklyn,"
I was 17, in art school and in the closet. I came out after that film as a gay male. I went from people seeing the performance and saying, Wow, this is a young Al Pacino! to having a lot of roles dry up because I came out as gay. But luckily because I was really fervent about showing up at auditions and working, I've been in, like 70 movies. I defied them. I kept workingsome gay roles, some not. I got to play a commanding officer in a movie about Navy Seals. I was the character who slept with all the women and got them pregnant.
Were you worried that your transition would kill your career?
I had no concerns. I knew immediately it would not be a burial of my career, but opportunities would be few and far between. But I'm also at a different point in my career. As a young actor, you go out, audition, struggle, that's what you do. But I've worked enough, if they want to work with me they can make an offer and call. If they want to get me in the room, jerk my chain, I'm not into that. People would say that's snooty as an actor, I don't care. Is it because I'm gay or transgendered I have to come in and do sideshow freak thing for you? Well I won't.
How did your family react to you coming out as transgender?
This is the kind of thing that was kept under the rug, even in my progressive family. It's the kind of thing you don't want to acknowledge, that people might think is ugly or it may bring ridicule. But they weren't ashamed of me, it was more like they were trying to protect me from myself, and that becomes a weird thing. They were fiercely defensive of me.
You've presented yourself in so many waysgay man, drag queen, woman, Navy Seal so it's literally impossible for people to label you.
I grew up at a time with androgyny in the 1980s, it was easy to pass under the radar as a gay man. Yes, I am transgendered but I also am a cross-dresserI dress as a woman. It's not that I just want to be seen as a female in our society, I'm also a drag queen and a performerthere are many levels there. I started grappling with all the boxes one has to fit into and all the flags I was willing to wave, and I started to realize it's hard to fit into one realm and be a productive member of society. I realized I'm not the kind of person who wants to go with the flow and fit in. I'm an agitator, I'm opinionated, I'm a libertine and leader. I wasn't willing to fall in line.
Do you still identify with drag?
Yes. All cultures have drag. The forefathers of our national wore wigs and makeup while their wives sat at home in drab colors with cropped hair. Look at animalsbirds. The females are brown and sitting in the nest, while the males are colorful and flouncing around. Women do not have a monopoly on femininity and men do not have a monopoly on masculinity. It's a dance some people take seriously and some don't, and it's OK both ways. I take it pretty seriously but I also see the humor in it.
How do you think Hollywood views gays and transgenders in their ranks? You think it would be more open-minded than most professions.
When I came out as gay, people would immediately say, Oh, so you weren't really acting when you did that role? They seemed more comfortable with heterosexuals playing transgendered and gay. They don't really want to see the real thing. I know there was a time in the '40s and '50s when white actors played blacks and Asians, but we've got to a point with the civil-rights movement when that became a minstrel show that people were offended by. It never became that way for heteros playing gays.
Why is it so important to challenge traditional gender roles?
I feel annoyed that I'm affected by the trappings of male and female in this world. I feel I'm limited. It's heavy stuff. I don't want to think my happiness depends on something that covers our flesh. The vagina and a penis are very different, but humans at our core are all very similar. Pull all the facial hair out and we're not that different.
What about self-identity?
If all of your life is riding on wearing that cowboy hat and no one ever sees your pink frillies, than how strong is your self-identity? Are you really a man just because you dress like one? What are real men and real women? How about real people. Do men have to kill and women have to heal? I think everyone knows were all capable of the same.
Your life is, and always has been, very public. What was it like struggling with your gender in the limelight?
Do I wish I lived in a world where I could just take a deep breath and exist like others and pass under the radar? Yes, but I was as a gay male doing that. People on the street just saw me as male, and it was a safe place to be, the closet. But I came to a point where I'd rather be harangued daily, all day long, and allowed to be myself. Or feel free to be this one day and that the other, and not worry about it. This is a fight, it's a struggle. But it's somebody else's fight. The people who have a problem with itit's their fight.
When your documentary is released in theaters, that's yet another big public moment, and it deals very directly with you sexuality.
I'm a transgendered female who started as a male, I'm now female, you know all those things, so why do we need to go further than that? They don't need to know about my genitalia because it becomes sexual thenit's not about gender. Unless I'm getting ready to sleep with someonewe're falling in love, we're datingwe can talk. But you see me as female if I still have one part that's male, or I've gone through the complete surgery. Sure I may be limiting the kind of heterosexual men that I'm dating, but it's a personal, private thing. There are a lot of people who are attracted to people like myself because they like boobs and a penis, and let's just be honest about that. They like she-males.
When someone says the word transgender, most people think: man trapped in a woman's body, or vice versa. Do you agree?
I'm not correcting a mistake. I don't feel I was born
female. I was born transgender for a reason, so I can
transition. You can talk about butterflies, human evolution,
any species trying to spread it's wings and find new ways to
survive. Who knows, are transgender people an indication
that we as a race are starting to realize that there's
something wrong on the earth and they we need to find other
options? Men have to realize they have nipples because they
started out as the prototypefemale. I'm just returning
to the fold.
Pronoun - her, she, thon
According to Dennis Baron, the neologism that received the greatest partial mainstream acceptance was Charles Crozat Converse's 1884 proposal of thon, a contraction of "that one" (other sources date its coinage to 1858 or 1859):
Thon was picked up by Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary in 1898, and was listed there as recently as 1964. It was also included in Webster's Second New International Dictionary, though it is absent from the first and third, and it still has its supporters today.
"Co" was coined by feminist writer Mary Orovan in 1970. "Co" is in common usage in intentional communities of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, and "co" appears in the bylaws of several of these communities. In addition to use when the gender of the antecedent is unknown or indeterminate, some use it as gender-blind language and always replace gender-specific pronouns.
Pronouns and LGBT people
For people who are transgender, style guides and associations of journalists and health professionals advise use of the pronoun preferred or considered appropriate by the person in question. When dealing with clients or patients, health practitioners are advised to take note of the pronouns used by the individuals themselves, which may involve using different pronouns at different times. This is also extended to the name preferred by the person concerned. LGBT advocacy groups also advise using the pronouns and names preferred or considered appropriate by the person concerned. They further recommend avoiding gender confusion when referring to the background of transgender people (for instance by using Private Manning  to avoid a male pronoun or name).
In terms of gender-neutral titles, as alternatives to Mr. or Miss/Mrs./Ms., a number of different titles may be used, including "Mixter/Mixer/Mx." or "Ind./Individual".
The following table summarizes the foregoing approaches.
He He is laughing I called him He likes himself That is his He likes himself She She is laughing I called her Her eyes gleam That is hers She likes herself One One is laughing I called one One's eyes gleam That is "that one's" One likes oneself Singular they They are laughing I called them Their eyes gleam That is theirs They like themself She/he She/he is laughing I called him/her His/her eyes gleam That is his/hers She/he likes
him/herself S/he (compact) S/he is laughing I called him/r His/r eyes gleam That is his/rs S/he likes him/herself
Apostrophe 'E is laughing I called h' 'S eyes gleam That is 'rs 'E likes h'/h'self Elverson
(1975) Ey is laughing I called em Eir eyes gleam That is eirs Ey likes eirself Humanist Hu is laughing I called hum Hus eyes gleam That is hus Hu likes humself Jee Jee is laughing I called jem Jeir eyes gleam That is jeirs Jee likes jemself Ney Ney is laughing I called nem Neir eyes gleam That is neirs Ney likes nemself Peh Peh is laughing I called pehm Peh's eyes gleam That is peh's Peh likes pehself Per Per is laughing I called per Per eyes gleam That is pers Per likes perself Spivak
(1983) E is laughing I called Em Eir eyes gleam That is Eirs E likes Emself Thon Thon is laughing I called thon Thons eyes gleam That is thons Thon likes thonself Ve Ve is laughing I called ver I called vers That is vis Ve likes verself Xe Xe is laughing I called xem Xyr eyes gleam That is xyrs Xe likes xemself Yo
(regional) Yo is laughing I called yo --- --- ? Ze (or zie or sie) and zir
(Germanic Origin) Ze is laughing I called zir/zem Zir/Zes eyes gleam That is zirs/zes Ze likes zirself/zemself
Ze (or zie or sie) and
hir Ze is laughing I called hir Hir eyes gleam That is hirs Ze likes hirself Ze and
mer Ze is laughing I called mer Zer eyes gleam That is zers Ze likes zemself Zhe Zhe is laughing I called zhim Zher eyes gleam That is zhers Zhe likes zhimself
He is laughing
I called him
He likes himself
That is his
He likes himself
She is laughing
I called her
Her eyes gleam
That is hers
She likes herself
One is laughing
I called one
One's eyes gleam
That is "that one's"
One likes oneself
They are laughing
I called them
Their eyes gleam
That is theirs
They like themself
She/he is laughing
I called him/her
His/her eyes gleam
That is his/hers
She/he likes him/herself
S/he is laughing
I called him/r
His/r eyes gleam
That is his/rs
S/he likes him/herself
'E is laughing
I called h'
'S eyes gleam
That is 'rs
'E likes h'/h'self
Ey is laughing
I called em
Eir eyes gleam
That is eirs
Ey likes eirself
Hu is laughing
I called hum
Hus eyes gleam
That is hus
Hu likes humself
Jee is laughing
I called jem
Jeir eyes gleam
That is jeirs
Jee likes jemself
Ney is laughing
I called nem
Neir eyes gleam
That is neirs
Ney likes nemself
Peh is laughing
I called pehm
Peh's eyes gleam
That is peh's
Peh likes pehself
Per is laughing
I called per
Per eyes gleam
That is pers
Per likes perself
E is laughing
I called Em
Eir eyes gleam
That is Eirs
E likes Emself
Thon is laughing
I called thon
Thons eyes gleam
That is thons
Thon likes thonself
Ve is laughing
I called ver
I called vers
That is vis
Ve likes verself
Xe is laughing
I called xem
Xyr eyes gleam
That is xyrs
Xe likes xemself
Yo is laughing
I called yo
Ze (or zie or sie) and zir (Germanic Origin)
Ze is laughing
I called zir/zem
Zir/Zes eyes gleam
That is zirs/zes
Ze likes zirself/zemself
Ze (or zie or sie) and hir
Ze is laughing
I called hir
Hir eyes gleam
That is hirs
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Nearly halfway through 2017, LGBT activists say they have weathered a blitz of bills in statehouses that has many in the LGBT community feeling for the second straight year that they have a bulls-eye on their backs.
More than 100 anti-LGBT bills in 29 states have been introduced in the past five months, according to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a think tank that researches and analyzes state and federal laws with LGBT implications.
Even though only six measures in five states have become law so far this year, the number of bills that took root speaks volumes, said Alex Sheldon, MAP research analyst. States like Texas and Arkansas are now trying to pass multiple bills that target people specifically. The clear message to LGBT people: You are not welcome.
In 2016, there were about 220 anti-LGBT bills introduced at the state level, according to MAP, four of which were approved.
A backlash to the 2015 Supreme Court ruling sanctioning same-sex marriage and the strong stance by the Obama administration for LGBT rights are among catalysts behind the bills, which signal a troubling turn in the quest for equal rights, said Naomi Goldberg, MAP policy director.
We were heading in the right direction after 2015, she said. Now, theres definitely been a shift. States are really going after the most vulnerable people. We are playing defense.
The aggressive action by legislatures stands in stark contrast to a sentiment by many activists that there is broad public support for LGBT protections, as well as progress at the local level in cities and towns. There is a real disconnect around fairness and equality, Sheldon said. It makes you wonder: Are legislators out of touch?
Bills cite religious freedom
Religious exemption bills made up the bulk this year: 45 bills introduced in 22 states. Those bills would let people, churches and sometimes corporations cite religious beliefs as a reason not to enforce a law, such as declining to marry a same-sex couple.
Of the six total bills that did pass in 2017, four of them provided religious exemptions. Two of them, for example, in South Dakota and Alabama, would let state-funded adoption and foster agencies refuse to place children with same-sex couples.
Supporters of religious exemption bills say "freedom of conscience" is an essential right. "Conscience exemptions can be found in a myriad of state and federal laws on all sorts of issues," said Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst at Focus on the Family, a Christian conservative organization. "Its that type of protection of our freedom that makes America exceptional."
The bills also "protect the safety and privacy of women and children," he said. "We can all agree that these are worthy goals."
Transgender community targeted
The transgender community was singled out, MAP research shows, with 39 bills introduced in 21 states: from banning transgender people from using restrooms that match their gender identity to preventing them from obtaining accurate documents like drivers licenses.
The state action played out amid rollbacks at the federal level. In February, the Justice and Education departments reversed guidance the Obama administration had issued that said Title IX protected the rights of transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity
Schools generally have been leaders in understanding the needs of transgender students, Goldberg said. But with the rescinding of the (Title IX) guidance, when a school doesnt do a good job, the Department of Education wont stand up for them. Thats what is problematic.
Beyond the bathroom: Report shows laws' harm for transgender students
'Brutal' session in Texas
In Texas: 'It's an all-out assault on LGBT people'
The Rev. Tom Vande Stadt, left, and the Rev. John Elford,
The Rev. Tom Vande Stadt, left, and the Rev. John Elford, right, and dozens of clergy and faith leaders pray and sing on the stairway outside the House Chamber at the Capitol in Austin on May 3, 2017, in opposition to bills they consider anti-LGBT. (Photo: Jay Janner, Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Perhaps no state felt the weight of the 2017 legislative session like Texas, which saw about two dozen anti-LGBT bills introduced this year, activists say. It has just been a brutal session for targeting people that were already marginalized and making their lives more difficult, said Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas.
Two bills took on an 11th-hour fast track in the final days of Texas' legislative session: One was a bathroom bill targeting transgender people that went through a few permutations in the state House and Senate before collapsing over a deadlock among Republicans. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hasn't ruled out reviving the bill in a possible special legislative session in June.
After a ruckus in North Carolina over last years HB2 bathroom bill, which led to protests, economic boycotts and an eventual compromise bill, Robertson said activists are astounded a similar measure was considered in their state. Major companies such as Facebook and Apple have lined up against the bill.
The business community has been adamant in opposition to all of these discriminatory measures, but that hasnt won the debate, she said.
The second was a bill, which was approved, that allows publicly funded foster care and adoption agencies to refuse to place children with certain people such as LGBT couples because of religious reasons. It also would let state-funded providers discriminate against children in their care, for instance withholding services such as transition care, activists say. Abbott has 20 days from the session's adjournment to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.
Hundreds of faith leaders in Texas have spoken out against those bills, such as the Rev. David Wynn of Fort Worth.
As a Christian pastor, I honestly dont get it. I think we are all reading the same Bible, but its hard to tell, he said. You tell me what Jesus would do. Jesus never said one word about homosexuality or gender but he did have a whole lot say about taking care of each other.."
When states don't act
Even in some states that saw a flurry of good bills, the failure of these to win approval was disappointing, activists say.
Florida, for example, had nearly a dozen pieces of legislation that would have provided discrimination protections, stronger anti-bullying laws and a ban on conversion therapy. None passed.
Its gone from will it hurt you to do the wrong thing to will it hurt you not to do the right thing, said Nadine Smith, CEO and co-founder of civil rights group Equality Florida.
The most sweeping of the bills, the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing and in public places like restaurants.
The bipartisan bill had 71 co-sponsors or 44% of the Legislature, Smith noted, an unprecedented number that shows wide support. But the legislation never made it to the floor for a hearing in either chamber in the legislative session that just ended in May.
Its disappointing that the leadership blocked it from being heard, Smith said. Its the right thing to do economically. Businesses saw it as a way to draw top talent.
Smith, who was part of a historic Oval Office meeting with President Clinton and LGBT leaders in 1993, is undaunted. She said the legislation will be reintroduced next year.
We see Florida as a breakthrough state, she said. A victory in a Republican-dominated state would demonstrate that LGBTQ equality is a bipartisan issue as it must be to win the country.
A couple embrace outside Parliament House, an LGBT
A couple embrace outside Parliament House, an LGBT nightclub, on June 18, 2016, one week after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. (Photo: David Goldman, AP)
Smith also cites the strides the state has made at the local level even in places like Jacksonville, considered a conservative stronghold.
We have passed more local non-discrimination laws than any other state in the country, she said, noting that those protections cover 60% of Floridians.
Smith said LGBT activists will continue to rely on a three-pronged strategy: nurturing business support, engaging faith leaders and building bipartisan coalitions in Tallahassee.
And then there is the voice of the people in towns small and large.
We have spent years pursuing local victories one at a time in places where people would step up to the microphone, their voices shaky, and they would just out themselves, she said.
LGBT? Where you live matters
Does where you live dictate what protections you have? If you're part of the LGBT community, the answer is yes, MAPs Goldberg said. But the dynamic is complicated.
It used to be simply that you youd cross the border from a state where you could get married to one where you cant, she said. But now you can go from being protected in the workplace by a state law to not being protected by a state law or a transgender person who can use a restroom in school, and in the next state you cant.
Sarah Scanlon, 53, knew since she was 5 that she was gay. But growing up in Jonesboro, Ark., she said it was never safe for me to be who I am. She left the state in her mid-20s for a more welcoming Seattle. I thought, wow, this is a whole new world.
But even in Washington state, she felt the sting of discrimination. I was fired from a job and punched on a public bus because I was gay.
Even in 'good' states, LGBT advocates say there is work to be done
Scanlon, who now lives in Little Rock with her wife and 6-year-old daughter, acknowledges the tough pieces of legislation that cropped up in Arkansas Legislature, including a really horrible one that defined indecent exposure.
The bill which did not make it into law would have expanded the indecent exposure statute and included broad wording that could essentially criminalize a transgender person for using the bathroom.
Many lawmakers at the Statehouse dont have a worldview, Scanlon said. They have a backyard view.
But she sees a growing awareness among state residents about what is happening at the Statehouse. The public is saying, hey, quit picking on them so much. There are more important things to be dealt with here."
Goldberg said the last five months have been challenging to say the least. To be an LGBT person in a place like Texas is very scary right now, she said. But when you see the diversity of support and you see people saying no (to discrimination), that is heartening.
The massacre a year ago at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando an LGBT safe haven had a profound effect on galvanizing support from faith leaders and some elected officials in Florida, Smith said.
Participants show their support for victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting during the 2016 Gay Pride Parade on June 12, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images)
Smith, who lives in St. Petersburg with her wife and son, 6, often makes the drive back to Callaway, Fla., to visit her 81-year-old father. The (LGBT) protections that exist along that drive, exist and fall away depending on what county I am driving through.
For Smith, no one symbolizes an evolution on LGBT issues more than her dad. He had great difficulty accepting that his daughter was a lesbian. But eventually the military veteran embraced Smith, walking her down the aisle at her wedding and at age 79 made a commercial for LGBT equality.
My father has been the journey of the country on
this issue, Smith said.
OK, I think I have an answer for you. But I must say, your email, which I highlighted in this space a few weeks back, had me stumped for awhile. Thats why I asked readers to weigh in on the question you posed:
Namely, how should you, a self-described left-wing progressive and supporter of gay rights, respond if ever you find yourself sharing the locker room at the public pool with a transgender woman who still has male reproductive equipment?
You wrote: I have no problem with trans people of whatever biology or stage of transition in bathroom stalls, but what about locker rooms, where nudity is normal? I would be very uncomfortable if I was unclothed and someone two feet away from me took off their clothes and a penis appeared.
Roz, the response from many readers can be summed up as follows: Relax. You have nothing to worry about.
John from Butte wrote, Please tell Roz that the estimated 700,000 to 2,000,000 transgender people in the USA are using showers and locker rooms very well today just as they have for many years and she doesnt even know about it. The fact she doesnt know is proof that transgender people are discreet, sensitive and careful.
Robyn, a transgender woman from greater Richmond, said that, Revealing the mysteries that lie beneath the surface is not something Im even remotely inclined to consider. Until the day arrives that I am comfortable my naked appearance will seamlessly blend in with the other ladies present, you will not find me in a locker room. To do so would undermine every other effort I make to be normal.
A reader named Lindsey agreed: As a transgender woman (albeit one beginning her transition to womanhood), I can tell you there is not one pre-op transwoman that will willingly expose herself to others in a locker room or fitting area.
Reading their emails, Roz, it struck me how obvious the answers seemed in hindsight. But then, when a thing is alien to your experience, its often hard to think past the newness of it. And that can leave you vulnerable to demagogic lawmakers who see potential votes in your anxiety and irresolution.
Thats the story of North Carolina and other states where new laws raise the specter of police officers stationed outside every public toilet to look up your dress or down your pants to ensure your sex parts correspond to the gender of the restroom. We are told theyre passing these laws to deter child molesters.
But, Roz, how many children have you heard about being targeted by cross-dressing rapists? Statistically, wouldnt those kids be in greater danger from priests and, well, demagogic lawmakers? While were on the subject, which would be more disruptive: the person who presents as a man in every visible aspect who enters the mens room, or that same person strolling into the ladies restroom?
Again, things have a way of becoming obvious if you just stop and think.
Thats why we are often encouraged not to. After all, thinking people are less likely to let themselves be stampeded into sweeping, vote-getting restrictions based on vague, unfounded fears of what could happen. Not has happened, mind you. Not even will happen.
What conservative advocates of, ahem, small government never seem to appreciate is that, left to their own devices, good people usually find ways to figure this sort of stuff out, to make accommodations that allow locker rooms, restrooms and other public facilities to function smoothly without heavy-handed government guidance.
So, Roz, in the unlikely event you ever encounter that
penis you fear, I am confident you and its owner will work
something out. And Ill bet you wont need any
lawmakers help to do it.
Kids say the darndest things and ask the most honest questions.
Liv Hnilicka, a waitress who lives in Minneapolis, experienced this firsthand earlier this week during a shift at the restaurant where she works.
Hnilicka, who is transgender, was approached by a man in the restaurant whose young daughter had asked about Hnilicka's gender identity.
The man didn't want to answer for Hnilicka, so he asked Hnilicka instead. Admittedly, she wasn't exactly sure how the conversation would unfold.
"I think I thought, 'I'm so impressed that someone actually asked me how I identify in this straight space,'" she told Upworthy. "This could go really poorly or really great."
And fortunately, we can report, it was the latter.
Hnilicka wrote about the experience on her Facebook page:
"Stellar parenting moment of the day:
Way to go, mom and dads out there making space for transfolks/gnc people like me. ?
(Also I made this post public in case you want to share it with parents you may know.)"
Since it was posted on Sept. 20, 2015, the post has garnered more than 10,000 Likes and nearly 2,000 shares.
The response has been "overwhelmingly positive," Hnilicka told Upworthy.
And one glance at the post's comment section makes that very clear:
While Hnilicka's experience has "brought [her] such joy," there have, of course, been a few transphobic comments in the mix. But Hnilicka was quick to dismiss the haters.
"To me, [a negative comment] speaks to the idea that a lot of people hold disbelief that trans/[gender non-conforming]/intersex people exist at all," she explained of some of the negative comments she's read, most of which were people apparently angered about her pushing some sort of agenda. "But we do. We exist. We are not going anywhere."
Hnilicka's experience may be a seemingly small one. But she hopes it challenges our views of trans people.
Because our collective view of trans people as a society still needs a lot of work.
"I hope that people take away a sense of investment in trans/[gender non-conforming]/intersex people's rights and existence," she said, noting the several hurdles her community faces, like a lack of accessible health care, housing discrimination, and violence. "As allies, we need you to fight for us in solidarity."
And that starts with knowing how to be respectful especially when it comes to acknowledging someone's gender identity. Although Hnilicka's customer went with a more assertive approach, she recommends people stick to saying something along the lines of asking, I use she/her pronouns what pronouns do you use?" instead of just interrogating a stranger about how they identify.
If Hnilicka's story teaches us anything, it's that understanding goes a long way.
Transgender people are our brothers, our sisters, our
neighbors, our friends, and depending on who's reading this,
ourselves. The lives and stories of trans people are just as
valuable as anyone else's. If a curious little girl in
Minnesota sparked this amount of good with a simple
question, imagine what would happen if we all took a moment
to understand others who are different from ourselves?
It has just been confirmed that Bruce Jenner is definitely transitioning into a woman!
Bruce is transitioning to a woman. He is finally happy and his family is accepting of what hes doing. Hes in such a great space. Thats why its the perfect time to do something like this, a close source to the 65-year-old former Olympian shared to People.
The source added about Bruces docu-series, It
will air when he is ready to be open about his transition.
But hes acting more and more confident and seems very
happy. Hes being very smart about and also respectful
about his transition. Instead of completely shocking
everyone, his changes have been subtle, and his family has
had the chance to slowly get used to his new looks and
The difference between Caitlyn
Jenner and Rachel Dolezal, explained
An immediate point of comparison was with Caitlyn Jenner, who recently came out as a transgender woman on the cover of Vanity Fair. If Jenner can change from male to female because she insists that gender is a construct, then why can't someone switch from white to black, or vice versa?
There are some, such as Sean Davis at The Federalist, who bring up this question in utter bad faith, solely to justify a preexisting bigotry against trans people as mentally disturbed. However, there are others who raise the question honestly, and I think it's worth straightforwardly addressing why the analogy doesn't hold.
Moreover, I think the question is more difficult than many people are making out. Simply asserting that gender and race are not 100 percent identical is a non sequitur. And it is simply untrue, as shall be shown, that there is no such thing as "transracial identity," as others argued.
So why are Jenner and Dolezal not the same sort of phenomenon? It has to do with history, solidarity, and the different mechanics of race and gender.
(A few necessary disclaimers: As a cis white man, I bring little personal experience to the subject. This is mostly a restatement of others' arguments, not an original General Theory of Race and Gender. What's more, nothing below is meant to impugn the legitimacy of gender transition, only to explore the difference between gender and race.)
Gender and race are social constructs to a great degree, but not equally so. In particular, gender is more deeply rooted in one's own mind, while race is more forcibly imposed by the surrounding society. Of course, that's not a hard and fast distinction, since gender norms are also imposed from outside, and racial identity surely becomes part of one's internal self-presentation. Nevertheless, it's fair to say there is a difference in weighting.
As a cis man, I feel myself to be inherently male, and I am attracted to women both of which can appear in other combinations regardless of biological facts. But there is no equivalent kind of inherent identity and preference markers when it comes to race. Thus, it makes less sense for someone to argue that they are really one race or another based solely on internal feelings, particularly in a pretty racist society like the United States. For people with dark skin, the whole point of the race system is that race is a choice one does not get to make. This, I think, is the most important difference between Donezal and Jenner.
Two years ago Radiolab produced a fantastic podcast about an Ohio family riven by transracial questions. It concerns the town of Waverly, which was settled before the Civil War as a whites-only community, and a neighboring town, East Jackson, which was the product of intermarriage between blacks, Indians, immigrants, and whites. Following the rules of white supremacy, everyone in East Jackson was swept into the black category, even though many of them had barely any African ancestry at all.
The story focuses on a woman called Clarice and her two daughters, Carlotta and Ally. Clarice is only 1/16th African descent yet nevertheless was labeled as "Negro" on her birth certificate, and faced vile discrimination when the schools in Waverly were integrated in the 1980s. In the face of such abuse, she decided to own the label, and proudly identifies as black.
Her two daughters chose divergent paths. In the face of rampant racist harassment in high school in the late 90s, Carlotta simply bore the abuse and continued to live as black, while Ally changed her racial presentation, insisting that she was really white. Though she appears fully white, it was necessary to cut many of her ties with her family, who still carried the black taint. She made friends with older kids, who didn't know where she came from, lied about her parents' identity, stopped associating with Carlotta at school and even taunted and abused her. To escape racism, it was necessary to become racist.
It's not surprising that the American race system might pressure some to eject out of a black identity. And yet, her mother and sister, who were similarly traumatized, refuse to legitimize their oppression by changing their racial identity, even though they probably could have if they moved somewhere else.
That is one example of history's tremendous influence over race. Someone who appears completely white can have a claim to blackness if that is how they have been treated by the racial system, even if they have no African ancestry at all. Someone who was raised white and thus likely escaped the material deprivation and oppression of being raised black has not "earned" black identity by a shared experience of inescapable oppression. As Jamelle Bouie points out, it seems Dolezal could not have been so treated until after she changed her appearance and might have been able to escape it at any time.
Of course, some argue that trans women are illegitimately appropriating female identity in a similar way. But this is less convincing given the massive and transgender-specific discrimination trans people face. Undergoing a gender transition has enormous negative consequences, completely distinct from the everyday negative consequences of merely being a woman.
At any rate, while transracial identity does not exist in the way that transgender identity does, it is not true to say it doesn't exist at all. Edge cases where racial identity is not superficially obvious is one area where it might exist I, for one, would not presume to tell either Ally or her mother which race they "really" belong to. More commonly, consider when a couple adopts a baby with a different race from their own (there are apparently many studies on this). Such a person can have an experience not dissimilar from the experience of gender transition: a feeling of not belonging, exploring a new and unfamiliar sociocultural space, and eventually changing their identity presentation.
Ultimately all questions of personal identity hinge on
personal testimony, and the level of respect and legitimacy
with which that testimony is greeted. That, in turn, depends
heavily on the sociopolitical context, and the fact that
Dolezal felt the need to disguise her true origins suggests
she was implicitly aware of the problem: that she did not
have a right to the identity she claimed.
Nikki Araguz was 18 years old when she began to live her life as a woman, after a lifetime of feeling as if her gender identity did not correspond with her anatomy.
Following the realization of her gender identity, she married a firefighter named Thomas Araguz III, who she "loved tremendously," and underwent gender confirmation surgery a year after their wedding.
But Araguz's husband was tragically killed while working to diffuse a monstrous factory fire.
Following her husband's death, Araguz was forced to fight a drawn-out legal battle with her late husband's family in an effort to receive his firefighter's benefits. A Texas judge effectively voided Araguz's marriage, telling the widow that the marriage was not considered legal since she was born a male. The fact that Araguz had both gone through gender reassignment surgery and had government documents that reflected her new sex as female did not appear to matter.
Araguz, who also blogs for The Huffington Post Gay Voices, went on to meet and fall in love with a Houston-based artist named William Loyd.
When the two attempted to get married, however, Araguz encountered problems with legal system in Houston, which informed her that their union would be considered a same-sex marriage -- even though Araguz has both a license and passport that identifies her as a woman.
"I had a sex change. I am a woman and I have proof of it," she stated.
In an effort to have their union recognized, the pair eventually traveled to nearby Corpus Christi where, according to a press release sent to The Huffington Post, her "proof of a sex change was accepted and she could finally start over with a second chance at happiness."
Araguz is now living with Loyd and his two children from a previous marriage. Loyd's daughter Charlotte is certainly happy with the result and summed up the situation perfectly:
"People should love who they want and who they want to
marry is who they want to marry."
There is good news for in Massachusetts-based transgender students and and their parents.
Last week, the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education mandated that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms and play on the sports teams that coincide with their gender identification, reports The Boston Globe.
These students, because of widespread misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about their lives, are at a higher risk for peer ostracism, victimization, and bullying," the new directives read, according to the Globe. "Some students may feel uncomfortable sharing those facilities, but this discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student."
The decree was put in place to help schools follow the states 2011 equal opportunity law that protects transgender residents. Similar policies in various states, advocacy groups, parents and students were also consulted by the Education Department, reports GLAAD.
Research shows that transgender and gender non-conforming students suffer higher rates of verbal harassment, physical harassment, and physical assault in school, Gunner Scott of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition said in a statement on his group's website, acknowledging that there "is a lot of misunderstanding about transgender students and that some schools may not have the internal expertise to address all issues of concern as they arise."
Scott salutes the effort, but acknowledges that there has been some opposition. The Massachusetts Family Institute has argued that the bathroom policy endangers other students and violates their privacy.
"Fundamentally, boys need to be use boys rooms and girls need to be using the girls rooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity, Andrew Beckwith, general counsel for the institute, is quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
On July 1, 2012 the Transgender Equal Rights Bill took
effect, about seven months after Governor Deval Patrick
signed it into law. The bill bans discrimination in
employment, housing, education, and lending, while also
enabling prosecutors to bring hate crime charges in attacks
that target someone for being transgender.
Keith Caputo, singer with soon-to-be-defunct metal outfit Life of Agony, has revealed he is to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
Caputo, who is currently in the midst of the band's farewell tour, took to Twitter to make the revelation. He tweeted, "M2F transsexuals like me are the women who give up male privilege for femininity! Threaten the patriarchy!"
In another tweet, the frontman responded to a fan's question surrounding the demise of Life of Agony by writing, "LOA has already gone in2 isolation & it's got nothin 2 do w me transitioning. my boys love me regardless of my life choices!"
The news will probably not come as a great surprise to fans, as the 37-year-old singer has been referring to himself as "her" when posting on his official website for some time.
With Life of Agony disbanding, Caputo will turn his
attentions back to his solo career. Already with four solo
albums under his belt, the singer will be touring the UK in
Del Quentin Wilber, The Washington Post: "Diane Schroer, a 52-year-old former Army Special Forces commander, testified yesterday in federal court that she was 'disappointed and dismayed' when an official at the Library of Congress rescinded a job offer even though she was the star candidate. The offer, for a job as a terrorism research analyst, was pulled the day after Schroer told her future boss that she was making the medical transition from being a man, David, to being a woman, Diane."
Argentina, one of the few countries in the world to empower the first female head of state is again breaking grounds again in gender politics by giving a congressional award to a transsexual as a "Distinguished Woman of 2009" and by trying to implement the first Latin America nation to permit legal, same-sex unions.
Argentina´s Congress annual prize to the 'Distinguished Woman of 2009' unleashed a wave of controversy this year as the recipient of this national award was a transsexual, who recently prevailed in a 10-year-long court battle to receive a new identity document recognizing her as a woman.
Marcela Romero is 45 years old, and had gender reassignment surgery years ago. She is one among hundreds of cases in Argentina striving to have their new gender identity legally recognized, according to the queer.org organization in Argentina.
A decade in waiting
"I am what I am. The right of one person is the right of all," said Marcela Romero during an event last Tuesday in the Argentine Congress. Her award suggests that "no other person would have to wait 10 years or more in order to receive a national identity document with their name and gender identity".
Ms. Romero is a known activist, fighting for the abolition of various civil codes across many provinces of Argentina, where being a transvestite is considered a criminal activity. Romero, who is vice president of Argentina's Association of Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgender People, was chosen from among a dozen nominees for the award, including women active in combating poverty, drugs and environmental degradation. After the announcement, news services reported that some in the audience walked out.
"I don't know democracy ... I would have liked, for example, to go on studying, but I was rejected by the educational system when I assumed the identity of a woman", she told Todo Noticias, a local news channel.
A decade in waiting
It wasn't until August 2009 that Romero could finally stop responding to her male name every time she would visit a public office. Her new identity card shows her with long blond hair and red lips.
She told the BBC that the approval of a new law would open doors to start working together with the government to decrease the violence in her country. "We know that women are victims of a very patriarchal violence, and transsexuals are included in this group".
The process to find her new identity started 11 years ago, she told the BBC. She met with psychologists, psychiatrists and experts that told her "terrible things". "One had the idea that I could never become a woman because I could never have children, and I think it's horrifying that somebody representing the State could have that idea of what it means to be a woman".
Raising a child
Before requesting her identity change, Romero had adopted an 18 months-old infant, who she has successfully raised to age 21 today. During those years of trying to raise a child as she went though the gender reassignment and fighting for her identity documents, she had to "assume many roles in which I also experienced many forms of violence".
Marcela rejects the stereotype that transvestites are all prostitutes, saying that if the laws didn't allow transsexuals to advance in society and didn't allow for options for gainful employment or advanced education, their only option would be to do that for a living. "Society needs to understand that in order to turn that back, we need to be able to enjoy all the rights the State provides."
In a separate issue of gender politics in early December a judge blocked implementation of legal same-sex union in Argentina, and Latin America, sending the case to the Supreme Court. If repealed and instituted by the Supreme Court, Argentina's law would be the first of its kind in Latin America.
Alex Freyre and José María Di Bello planned their wedding after Judge Gabriela Seijas ruled November, 16 in a case the couple filed, that under Argentina's that it is unconstitutional not to treat everyone equally under the law.
But after much media publicity a National judge and outcry from opponents, a national judge, Marta Gomez Alsina ordered the wedding blocked until the issue can be considered by the Supreme Court.
In 2002, Buenos Aires became the first city in Latin America to allow same-sex civil unions.
Argentina's national legislature opened debate on a bill that would change a civil code provision defining a new marriage law that would mean that gay couples could enjoy all the rights of a married couple including the right to adopt children, inherit wealth or share a health care plan.
"Our families need to have these rights, especially people like us who live with HIV and need a shared health care plan," Freyre said.
Same sex unions in Latin America
According to the site Pinkpaper.com same sex unions are permitted already not only in Buenos Aires but also Argentinian cities and the province of Rio Negro. In Latin America, similar laws are in force in Uruguay, Mexico City, the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, and the Mexican state of Coahuila, which borders Texas.
In the United States, same-sex marriage is legal in
Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa,
Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. states of Connecticut, Iowa,
Massachusetts, Vermont and, starting in January, New
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