#iAMPROUD of you!

Today’s guest post comes from Charlotte Summers, who is behind a global movement to be proud of gender and sexuality. While writing blog posts for thatswhatlynnsaid, more than once I’ve been disheartened by the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. From bullying to suicide, homelessness to violence, and helplessness to hopelessness, I have wished I could do more than just shed some light on the pain this group endures.

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 3.58.52 PMThen I heard about Charlotte’s efforts with #iAMPROUD, and I asked her to let me share this project with you in hopes of giving it more visibility and giving a stronger voice to those who identify as LGBT.

You can learn more about #iAMPROUD through Charlotte’s words below. And in case I haven’t told you lately, #iAMPROUD to be an ally!

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Understanding your sexuality or gender is a long and scary journey.

How will my family perceive me?  Will all of my friends turn against me? What will everyone say about me?

Many valid questions whizz around your head & it all gets too much. When you finally come out, you could get mixed reactions. You see, some get it easy, others don’t. But that’s part of life.

Many of us for years are ashamed of our sexuality/gender as the stigma attached is too much to handle. But this needs to stop, we need to be proud of who we are. No matter sexuality, gender, race, religion and so on. We should all stand proud.

We want to showcase how amazing LGBTQ+ individuals are & we are going to share the worldwide.

The #iAMPROUD project highlights how amazing we all are. From discrimination, hate crimes and daily judgement we still stand proud as ever.

For the younger generations and those struggling with their gender,  they will see us unashamed and owning our sexuality/gender.

And this is what they need. With increasing percentages of young children being bullied at school for their sexuality, they need us to stand up for them and say ‘ We are LGBTQ+ and proud.’

To help us achieve this, there are two ways you can join the movement. 

1. Take a picture of yourself with the hashtag ‘iAMPROUD’ with your sexuality, gender or identity.

Then follow the simple rules below:

  1. Tag us on Instagram at @iamproudd
  2. Use the hashtag #iAMPROUD

(For example: ‘Bisexual & Proud’ with #iAMPROUD below)

That’s it! You will be featured on our gallery as well as on Instagram!

2. Email us your coming out story.  Share your story to the world & show us all how proud you are to identify within the LGBTQ+ community. Our email is Uniteuk1@gmail.com

I hope you join us on our journey in being proud of who we are.

Learn more at https://prouduk.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/get-involved/

 

A woman without the history … but with all the knowledge she needs

I love to feature guest bloggers and today I’m featuring my new friend Donna Price. She posted the below on Facebook and I asked her if I could share it here with you. I found her insights fascinating and I hope you will too.

Btw, Donna was recently honored by Out magazine as one of their Top 100 for 2017! She’s an open and proud transwoman, and I’m grateful to call her my friend. Enjoy her musings…


Fiscal year, calendar year,

Mammograms,

Black Friday…

I received a notice in the mail that it was time to schedule my annual mammogram. I checked online to ensure that my insurance would pay for an annual screening. I called the clinic, and was surprised that they could fit me in the next week.

I arrived at 7:00am this morning for my annual screening mammogram. Anticipating it would be a quiet – day after Thanksgiving – morning that was true for the greater building, but not for the Mammography/Breast clinic as there were a number of us women present.

One woman was coming out of a night of food poisoning from, she believes, a turkey her hostess had let thaw and sit out too long before cooking, another exhausted before seeing mental health patients herself the rest of the day. I asked if she had done any work at The Women’s Initiative and she replied she had done her internship there.

Though having one’s breasts squished and squeezed is not a pleasant feeling there is a decidedly positive aspect as a transgender woman, for needing a mammogram.

Arriving at a women’s clinic, is such a reinforcing feeling for a transgender woman. Filling out the forms, however, is a reminder of how different the woman I am from those born with female bodies: no date of first and last menstrual period, no number of pregnancies, no number of live births, no date of hysterectomy, no record of when I experienced typical female gynecological medical issues…

Called back for my screening the nurse had some questions for me. I started to explain that I am a post-op transgender woman…to which she replied she did not care about any of that, but it had been less than 365 days since my last mammogram, so my insurance would not cover it. Calendar year scheduling on a fiscal year insurance plan…no worries, I replied, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks…

So I left to go to Lowe’s for some Black Friday tool shopping. I had given almost all my tools away to the kids a few years ago and needed to replace some. The salesman seemed surprised by my knowledge of single and double bevel compound mitre saws and immediately warmed up to my requests for assistance

A final stop at Belks for a new evening gown and my shopping is complete for the day…not being a typical woman has both advantages and disadvantages…you just have to roll with life…

Transgender Day of Remembrance

It’s a sad day in the transgender community. November 20 is recognized as Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor those who were murdered for being trans. Today is set aside to make sure they’re not forgotten and that they live on, recognized and remembered for their bravery in living their authentic lives.TDOR

There’s a website dedicated to those who’ve died due to anti-trans violence. I encourage you to visit, to read, and to educate yourselves about those who’ve been killed over the past year. And while you’re reading, you might be interested in other resources, like the background GLAAD provides to help journalists understand why TDOR is needed.

I hate that this day is even necessary, and yet I love that we have a way to honor those who died for being themselves. To those who’ve died due to trans violence, I honor your courage and your legacy.

On this Transgender Day of Awareness, I ask that you do something that’s authentically you, no matter how you identify. There’s only one of each of us in this world – we should celebrate that which makes us unique everyday, but today, especially.

What will you do to honor yourself today?

Transgender Awareness Week


Transgender_Pride_flag

Happy Trans Awareness Week! This is a time to raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people and the issues these groups face.

It’s a big week in the community, and it ends on Friday with Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), in observance of those who’ve lost their lives to violence and hatred against them. To learn more about it, visit the TDOR website.

It’s also an important week for me personally as I launch my book tomorrow! Who Am I If You’re Not You? is centered around a same-sex couple facing a gender transition, and their journey to weather the change and all it entails. I’ll be holding a launch party and am excited to get this book officially out into the public!

Whether you’re a member of the trans community or an ally, please do something this week to acknowledge those who are transgender and gender non-conforming. Check out GLSEN’s website, or GLAAD also has a list of ways to support and mark the occasion.

Happy Trans Awareness Week!

What does a #trans person look like?

If you’ve got a few minutes (like 8, to be precise), please watch this video. Go ahead and do it now … I’ll wait.

<Hums Jeopardy theme perfectly several times in different keys for variety.>

Welcome back! What’d ya think? Since you watched it, you already know that it introduces you to two teens who are transgender and shares their story.

I loved it for several reasons:

  • for the education it gives
  • for the bravery they show in living their authentic lives
  • for the support their loved ones showed

But mostly I love this video because it puts faces on trans people. It shows you that they’re just regular people who want nothing more than for their gender to match what they have already felt in their heart their entire lives.

Several times, the people in this video reiterate: I’m just a human being.

I’m just a human being.

They are. They’re not “scary monsters,” or freaks, or someone trying to use the wrong restroom for nefarious purposes. They’re not confused, or going through a phase, or seeking attention. They’re not anything other than human beings worthy of love, like all of us. Worthy of acceptance, like all of us. Worthy, period.

Please, please watch this video if you don’t understand the trans community, and even if you do. I promise, you’ll get something out of it. If nothing else, it’ll remind you you’re human.

 

 

OrionWisdom and me

I’m so excited! As my book, Who Am I If You’re Not You? draws closer to launch, there’s all kinds of exciting things happening. Some of it has been planned for awhile, like my upcoming booksigning events at AFK Books in Virginia Beach, VA and at The Abbey in West Hollywood, CA. I’ve also been planning the Nov. 14 launch party at Over The Moon Books and Artisan Gallery in Crozet, VA for a couple of months.

But today I got a wonderful surprise when my book was reviewed/featured in this wonderful newsletter, OrionWisdom. Check it out and subscribe, if you’ve a mind to. Elisabeth Fitzhugh pens this digital newsletter full of thoughts to help you consider your personal spiritual perspective. I was delighted to be included in this month’s issue, and I continue to be humbled by those who believe in and support this book right alongside me. Thanks Elisabeth!

As I gear up for the launch, I’m looking for other ways to publicize this book. Who do you know who might be able to help its message reach those who need to hear it? Can you help me spread the word by sending out an email, or putting something on social media for me? Or maybe you’d consider sharing this blog with someone who’d be interested. I strongly believe someone, somewhere out there, needs to read this book and I want to make sure I’ve done everything I can to get it to them–but I also know I can’t do it alone. Thanks for helping me give this book wings to fly.

Here’s to our journey together. Cheers!

“I’m Pregnant … and I’m a Stud”

That headline’s not mine but it sure caught my attention, so I stole borrowed it. It belongs to FreedomTwoLove, a blog written by my friend, Rena Ingram, who founded that organization.

I try to bring fresh perspectives to this blog of mine that’s focused on learning about the LGBTQ+ community. Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Rena, an LGBT activist, blogger, motivational speaker, and all around great person to know! Read on to learn more about her and her wonderful organization that’s going to great lengths to reinforce the message of #NOH8.

FreedomTwoLove, A Light for All

FreedomTwoLove originated in February 2014 when it held its first event on the campus of Fort Valley State University under the #NOH8 umbrella as it was called, “#NOH8: Addressing the Misconceptions of the LGBTQ Community.” As the founder and current CEO, at the time I was a senior at the illustrious historically black college and university (HBCU) and was a little apprehensive about holding the event because I had never seen anything of the sort provided on the campus – a mark that specifically supported the LGBTQ+ community. Although I knew I had built the leverage to hold such an event by holding various leadership roles throughout my matriculation at the university, building strong relationships with others on the campus, and holding the title as Student Government Association’s Vice President at that time, it was still nerve wrecking to attempt something that had never been done. I began to develop the mindset that if I didn’t do it, no one else would, and it was just as important then as it is now that I stood as an advocate and created a safe space for others within my community – so I did, and it became a moment that would change my life forever.

In 2015, I returned to the university as an alumnus and held yet another Noh8.png#NOH8 event which I rightfully deemed, “Part II.” The outpouring of support I received at that event pushed me to press play on my ideas and develop my own brand that branched away from the shadows of the #NOH8 movement – a decision that inspired the creation of what is now called, FreedomTwoLove. Freedom is defined as the power to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint, love is unconditionally self-explanatory, and “two” is used as a form of unique wordplay to be inclusive of both gay and lesbian love. This brand is different from every other LGBTQ-ally campaign because it strives to bridge the gap that currently alienates those of the LGBTQ community from their heterosexual peers by creating a safe and supportive space for dialogue through events and monthly blog postings for those of the community and others to generate open conversations about the negative biases and stereotypes that are present and evident in today’s society. Its overall mission is to serve as an aid in the fight against the injustices targeted on the LGBTQ+ community and encourage those within the community to build resilient confidence within themselves while simultaneously raising awareness of what’s going on within the community.

FreedomTwoLove is most popularly known for its blogs that are released on the 2nd of every month, such as, “I’m Pregnant … and I’m a Stud,” “The Fragility of Black Masculinity”, and “#ReclaimingMyTime: Don’t Let Your Story End.” By visiting www.freedomtwolove.com, you can not only keep up with the monthly blogs, but can also stay alert to what’s happening in the LGBTQ+ community with weekly news postings. In addition to being a Group Noh8blogger for the brand, I am also a motivational speaker and certainly a LGBTQ+ advocate as I make my way through various communities in effort of helping my community receive better treatment in all facets of life. One moment in particular that I’m proud of consisted of helping train an academy class of police officers for the Atlanta Police Department with a segment called, “Transgender Interaction Scenarios” along with transgender women in the community to ensure that the new police officers will be respectful in body searches, pronoun usage, etc. once they got out into the field.

Ultimately, I understand that this is one of my life’s missions and I also know that the work has just begun. As long as I have air in my body, I’ll be the voice for others that can’t, won’t, or simply don’t know how; and when it’s all said and done, I can only hope that FreedomTwoLove was a light for all.

 

Trans people are not contagious

Trans people do not have cooties.

I repeat: trans people do not have cooties. Call the CDC and confirm it if you like, but you cannot catch any transgender germs from hanging out with someone who identifies as trans.

As ridiculous as it feels to type that, apparently there are some people who haven’t gotten the message.

I read this article this morning and was shocked, saddened, and in a bit of disbelief over the statistic it put forth:

27% of Americans don’t want to be friends with someone who’s transgender.

One in four of us.

What the actual fuck?

I cannot understand why. I mean, I really, really can’t make sense of that.

We’re not talking about proposing marriage, sleeping together, or even living in the same household. SIMPLY BEING FRIENDS WITH A TRANS PERSON IS A BIG. FAT. “NO” for one quarter of our population. Wow.

And WHY? Or why not?  Is it fear? Misunderstanding? Disgust? Religion? Judgement? Or something else?

Would love your thoughts on this. What are your experiences? Do you have friends who are trans? If you’re trans, have you had experience that you’d share regarding people who won’t befriend you? I really want to understand this statistic and could use a little help from my friends.

And because I’m not trans, at least I can assume I have some friends…

 

Where’s “Who Am I” now?

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I’m glad you asked!Option A

My book Who Am I If You’re Not You? is now available!

It’s the true story of one woman’s experience when her spouse changes gender. I’m extremely proud of this book because it presents the partner’s viewpoint, which hasn’t been well represented before now. There are a number of books out there that document what it’s like to be trans … but very few take into account what it’s like for the other half of the couple.

You can read more about it at www.whoamithebook.com.

Readers-Choice-Awards-circle-blue-n-gold-768x582

Help me win!

And hey, while you’re at it, maybe you’d consider voting for it! It’s up for an Independent Author award at TCK Publishing. Three steps to voting:

You’re awesome for doing so!!! (Actually, you’re awesome no matter what but this would really help me!)

The book has garnered some amazing reviews. Here’s just a bit of the feedback I’ve received so far:

“Once you start reading this book, you can’t stop.”

“Impressive, vivid, powerful, uncompromisingly honest. It made me cry and it made my heart sing.”

“A non-fiction page-turner, something of an anomaly in my reading experience. A true story, with true heart, told by a true writer.”

“Lynn captures the heart of Jen’s story well. I feel thankful to have read it.”

I hope you’ll consider supporting this book with an order (or two. The holidays are coming, you know).  I truly believe in my heart of hearts this story has the potential to help someone through their dark times, and will educate others who don’t understand what it means to transition.

Come and see me at the launch party! It’ll be held November 14, 2017, at Over the Moon Bookstore & Artisan Gallery in Crozet, VA from 7-9.

 

How a School Bus Driver Made a Wrong Turn with Trans Teens

Let’s face it: high school can be tough. I mean, pull-out-your-hair, cry-yourself-to-sleep, not-sure-survival-is-possible tough. If the pressures of growing up, getting enough sleep, worrying about your grades and your future aren’t bad enough, there’s the acne/braces/glasses/not-being-popular/forever-feeling-awkward part.

Then there’s the trans part. Then there’s part where the bus driver kicks you off the public school bus because you’re trans.

Wait, what?

Yep, you read that right.

In Glen Falls, NY, a public school bus driver kicked two male-identifying trans students off the bus after they sat with other males. The driver told them they had to sit with the girls, because that was their gender at birth. They politely refused, at which point the driver refused to give them a ride (despite other students standing up for the boys).

I don’t know these boys but I’m outraged on their behalf. And if I’d been their parent — well, let’s just not go there. Why? Why? WHY? They were doing nothing wrong. They weren’t being rowdy, insolent, disrepectful, or disruptive.

They simply wanted to sit with their male peers. And for that, they were forced off a school bus.

I hope administrators within the Glen Falls school system look long and hard at how they’re educating employees about acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion. Clearly it’s needed.

Our children – ALL children – need to know they’re safe. Adults are supposed to provide that safety. We’re supposed to understand when others don’t, and to be nurturing, welcoming, accepting, and loving. We’re expected to be role models. More precisely, we should be counted on to act like grownups.

I’m so glad the others on the bus rallied around these kids. What a lesson we can learn from them!

By the way, there are resources out there dedicated to transforming the educational environment. Cheers for TSER, which is Trans Student Educational Resources, which seeks to create a more trans-friendly education system. Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, is another important organization that works to make safe school environments for all students.

I hope Glen Falls school administrators happen across this blog, and I hope they’ll consider working closely with TSER and GLSEN and other similar organizations that can help them better understand how to accept all students.

Which leaves me with a question: Who’s schoolin’ who?