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?

The ABCS of LGBTs (aka, how to teach kids about diversity)

It’s back to school time, and I’ve seen a lot of FB posts about ensuring thatkids and schools remember that bullying is never okay. So true! As the target of a few bullies growing up, I can recall all too well that feeling of being less-than. I wanted nothing more than to fit in and a few mean-spirited kids made sure I knew I didn’t and never would. It hurts.

Everyone deserves the chance to just be themselves and to be accepted for who they are.

In the spirit of that, I offer you something about how to explain LGBT to kids of all ages, so that children who identify as LGBT don’t feel ostracized. Check out this link from WelcomingSchools.org. It offers kid-friendly definitions that will help a child understand what some of the myriad LGBT terms mean. It also emphasizes the need to make sure that when defining terms for children, it’s smart to use examples to help them understand the definitions.

As with any discussion you have with kids, it’s a good idea to let them lead it. Found what they’ve heard and what they *think* it means, and then clarify as needed.

And it should go without saying, but here’s a prime opportunity to make sure that a child is not using any LGBT term in a derogatory way. They may have heard it used that way; as a caring adult, it’s your job to set them straight (no pun intended!).

Let’s teach our children to be allies instead of bullies!

Hats off to Cville Pride but not a stupid hat vendor

As if Charlottesville hasn’t had enough to deal with lately, the city’s Pride Festival is now the victim of discrimination.

The Festival organizers were working on merchandise orders, like this awesome purple shirt (in case you didn’t know it, I’m a tried and true purple fan). They also tried to order hats through a company called Legacy Athletics.

Notice I used the word “tried.”  Wanna know what they got in response to the order they placed?  This:

I am sorry for the delay, this is a design that we would not be able to produce.

While Legacy does offer custom logos, we also carefully nurture and protect our brand.  One of the ways we keep a positive connotation to the brand, is by avoiding doing any products with custom logos that might be deemed as controversial, political, offensive, etc.  This does not in any way mean that we either support or do not support the organization making the request, but the reality is that in light of recent events in Charlottesville as well as the fact Gay Pride events are political activism; we respectfully decline this order.  Again, I hope you can understand our position.

Ummm, sorry, no. I don’t understand your position. I understand you’re discriminatory.

So hats may or may not be part of Cville Pride Festival this year. You know who definitely will be? Me. I’ll be there with my book, and I’ll be prouder than ever to let my Ally flag fly.

I hope I’ll see you there, with or without a hat on.

I’d rather write than be pregnant

Birthing a book is like having a baby in a lot of ways. You carry it around inside of you for a reallllly long time, worrying about it, thinking about it, growing it. You agonize over what to name it. You think about what it will look like, and how amazing it will feel to hold it for the first time.

There are also other similarities. You can’t wait to share the news with others, excitedly talking about every aspect from the story to the cover to the promotion. Don’t forget about the labor pains, which involve waiting and waiting and waiting for it to be edited. For it to be laid out. For it to be printed. And when it’s finally “born,” it’s magical.

Thankfully, the waiting on this little project of mind is nearly over! I’d hoped to be able to launch Who Am I If You’re Not You? in October, but, like having a baby, sometimes it takes a little longer to be born.

I can share with you now that my book will launch on November 14!

That birthday is significant. It has nothing to do with being a Scorpio, and everything to do with it marking the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week. (Hint, if you didn’t already know what this story is about, it deals with trans issues.)

Want to know more? The book’s website is www.whoamithebook.com, and you can check out the prologue. I also feature it on my website, www.lynnthorne.com. Stay tuned to this blog to find out where you can get more sneak peeks at content in the coming months. I can’t wait to share it with you!

Even though the official launch isn’t until November, I will have copies in hand by Labor Day, which I’ll have available at CVILLE Pride Festival on September 16 in Charlottesville, Virginia, and at VAPrideFest in Richmond, Va on Sept. 23. If you’re in the area for either of those events, please stop by my booth and say hi!

You’ll also be able to order it from me directly after Labor Day. It won’t be available on Amazon or in bookstores until the launch, but I’ll be happy to fulfill any orders as soon as I have copies in my hand! Shoot me an email at Lynn@lynnthorne.com and I’ll gladly get you hooked up.

By the way, in case you were wondering, there is one VERY big difference between birthing a book and birthing a baby: when this baby is born, I won’t have to change a single diaper. Sorry, Pampers … your time has come and gone. (Insert “crappy” joke here.)

 

 

The Options These Days

Today is a guest post from blogger Miss Vee, whose blog I follow (and you should too!). Her down-to-earth style resonates with me and I asked her to share some thoughts for my blog. This entry deals with some really private and intimate thoughts. It’s not the first blog I’ve included about gender and children (check out this post from my friend, Rachel) but it helped me understand better some of the things parents face in raising kids today. Thanks, Miss Vee, for being part of my journey to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community!


“Time’s are a-changin’.” I can hear an old man in my thoughts. They certainly are. I would agree with him. Trans awareness and acceptance is growing. It’s a fascinating sight to behold. Until recently, I only knew them to be cross dressers and drag queens. I never knew that people were born into a different body than what they actually felt they were. With people becoming more aware and more educated about the transsexual community, transitions are starting to happen as young as 4-years old. What brave parents these children are!

It’s evident from an early age that one of my daughters was not like the average tomboy. Her sister would teasingly say she wanted to be a boy and my unique tomboy would say “So?” She has even told me that she would rather date girls than boys. Automatically, I assumed she is lesbian.

My sister has told me numerous times that she will follow in my footsteps because I’m a lesbian. I brush off these comments. I told myself that we would have a serious talk about sexuality when she’s older. She’s a kid. I’m not going to approach the subject unless she does. I want her to her own conclusions.

As years go by, the comments of wanting to be a boy become more frequent. She doesn’t correct people when mistake her for a boy. She’s even tried to convince a kid that she is a boy. At this point, I’m scared that she’s trans. Yes, I know. That sounds very hypocritical coming from a member of the LGBT community. But as a momma bear, you must understand my need to protect my cub. With all the talk of suicides amongst young trans and homicides of adult individuals. I don’t want my baby’s life any harder than it has to be.

But then a couple of days later, she dresses up in lace shirts and putting a flower crown in her hair. This momma bear can’t keep up. And I never have and will never force her to wear anything she does not want to wear. She’s dressing how she feels.

I came across an article during my confusion about a boy being gender fluid. It was an interesting read. His mother states that he doesn’t identify with any gender. He will wear dresses. He doesn’t correct people when they call him a girl but still uses the male pronouns.  I showed this article to my fiancee, and she confirmed what I was feeling. My daughter is gender fluid.

Let me tell you; I was even less aware of gender fluidity. I did not understand it at all until I read that article. Who knew my daughter would be gender fluid.

So, what is gender fluidity?  The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes gender fluidity as “relating to, or being a person whose gender identity is not fixed.”  I read an article on the National Geographic website titled “How Science Is Helping Us Understand Gender”.  The magazine interviewed a girl named E.  She said the term “transgender” didn’t quite fit.  She still went by female pronouns and her given female name.  Individuals who are gender fluid switch between male, female and neutral genders.  (I’ll have to do my research on the neutral gender.)

Read the whole article here:  http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/01/how-science-helps-us-understand-gender-identity/

Now my primary objective is to read up on all that has been written on this subject. I need to know of the issues that can arise, and I need to know how to communicate with her. I need to be her advocate for her as well. If this is who she is, I will make for damn sure that her life isn’t any harder than it has to be.

From the hate in Charlottesville, hope for the future

I am reposting a blog from Alexandra Chandler, a woman I’m proud to know as an online acquaintance and I hope, someday, as an in-person friend.

I live 15 miles from Charlottesville, Virginia, the site of this weekend’s horrific events. I’ve spent the past several days near tears, unable to come to terms with the hatred and violence that blanketed the city I love. The rally lasted just a few hours; its effects will stay with me for a lifetime.

Heather Heyer, who died when a car allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi, ran her down, will be laid to rest today. I pray that event can happen without incident and it can be a step in this city’s healing.

Which brings me to Alex’s post. Alex is a transgender woman who’s fought hatred and discrimination since she transitioned, from white supremacists and others. If you’re wondering how to help, she offers some insights. Thanks, Alex. Your words resonate with me today, especially.

To those reading this, spread hope, not hate. Spread love, not fear. We are bigger than this. We are #charlottesville.

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Don’t despair. Honor Charlottesville with action

August 15, 2017

Speaking only for myself. I’m not here to work out my own feelings, my outrage or to seek out meaning. I’m not here to convey an image of woke-ness. 

 I’m here to encourage action that changes things. I pray the display of overt, proud hate in Charlottesville carries the seeds of its own destruction. I pray the tragedy and bravery in Charlottesville is the vital call to action for those of us that are white in America.

 I think back to my own call to action, which started as a reaction against white supremacism. After 11 years of being mostly silent about my story as a transgender woman and the lessons my life has taught me about our society, I chose to speak out. In just a few days last November, a white supremacist mailed anti-Semitic hate mail to a neighborhood parent acquaintance and journalist. A dad who I would see with his kid at the playground. And then people spray painted swastikas at my childhood neighborhood high school. This happened in liberal Washington, DC and New Haven, CT. Don’t kid yourself that this is a Southern or rural problem alone. And this happened following an uptick in violence against LGBT people, especially trans women of color. And then I saw a video of Kansas students chanting for their non-white classmates to go back to Mexico. 

 I had doubted whether I had anything worthwhile to say or do. I had hesitated to put myself out there other than a Facebook post or talking with friends and family- and even then confronting only when need be. I was afraid of offending, of saying the wrong thing. But then I started writing the words that became my Washington Post op-ed. And that led to more and more writing and speaking and giving and participating and protesting and plans for more actions to come beyond anything I ever imagined. 

 Now, I only wish I had done so earlier. More after Ferguson. More after Charleston. More after so many moments. I wrote and told my story as a transgender woman not because it would help struggling transgender women, or transgender girls just like me. I wrote it because so many trans women are also trans women of color, or trans immigrants of color. Or poor trans immigrants of color– who frankly need more support than another white middle class trans woman from an accepting family like mine. And because making even one person who is “soft” in their bigotry check their assumptions for a moment could do good for other communities, trans or straight, of any color.  

 Contrary to the rants of some about “identity politics”, this is not about dividing people into groups of who is worse off. This is about recognizing our different lived experiences, which is a prerequisite to real unity. And that real unity, where we support one another with our eyes open, where we recognize that white supremacy and Nazism victimizes us all in different ways, is when we can make progress on the structural social and economic issues that reinforce our divisions while serving the purposes of the few and the powerful. 

 Make no mistake, there are those that make political profit by perpetuating these divisions. They are doing it right now, and have been since America’s founding. In the last few years, they have taken a new approach. If they can’t scare you into hate, they can discourage you with what-about-ism, nihilism, or false equivalancies. And if they discourage you enough, you won’t engage. And you won’t vote. But they will– because they will not practice the nihilism they try to instill in you. 

 We all can do something or something more to resist hate, and to build up the resistance of others to its message. You may have a story to tell that can motivate others. You may have resources to give that can fund others. Most of you can protest in relative safety as an ally where people of color and other groups fear mistreatment and even violence, including from the police. Most of you have even some tiny resources to give. Maybe you will be in a room where you can step in and call out racism, sexism, ableism, anti-Semitism, anti-LGBT and anti-immigrant bigotry.  Particularly those of you who are white and men will be in such a room where the rest of us are discussed. I know. I am white, and I was once perceived as a white male. I’ve been in those rooms too, and I still am sometimes. And I’ve had my proud moments and those that still haunt me with shame. I say this not to demonize white men or white women, but to offer up the opportunities that privilege brings. I’m here to encourage, and to prompt action, not to prompt guilt and despair without purpose or effect.

 People of color and other communities have been fighting this fight against forces of hate building quietly. They have fought without the visible, physical, financial support we can bring in our communities. They have been dying doing so.

 Accordingly, they are the leaders. In this struggle, it is on us to educate ourselves, to listen, to support, to follow. This is not a cop out, it is an acknowledgment of who has done the most work and who has the most on the line all the time, whereas most of us can and do come and go from engagement as we please to varying degrees.

 I am an optimist. America and human civilization has in the very long view moved forward in inclusion and in humanity to one another. We are experiencing a backlash that has been there for years but has been like an iceberg to white America- so little visible to us above the surface and yet so much bigger than we realize below the surface. 

 We have all the tools we need to help change this course. I have seen many links over the last several days, but for those who are engaging in this process for the first time, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Ten Ways to Fight Hate is a great start and of very broad utility, with concrete examples. 

 I’ll close by only very briefly touching on some good news. It involves the specter of a man who is so weak, so small, so scared and insecure that he can’t criticize actual Nazis who would kill their fellow Americans or deprive them of their rights. He considers some of them “fine people” and equates them to protestors defending civil rights and our Constitution.

 The good news is that all his defeats are clearly getting to him, what little political capital he has shrinks by the day, his political allies dwindle. And that means he is less likely to get as much done on his terrible policy agenda before his time comes to an end. All those actively resisting his agenda should perversely take pride in their handiwork today. They are holding the line. If that includes you, keep it up.

 Don’t despair. Honor the heroes of Charlottesville with further action. Hold the line as they did.

 

Remember that tweet banning trans in military? Here’s your lawsuit.

Five transgender military members just sued the president of the United States. (Yes, the lowercase “p” in president is on purpose, in case you were wondering.)  Two different groups have filed on behalf of five openly serving trans women in our military.

The suit not only claims that banning them from serving violates their constitutional rights, but it also forces an answer … just how serious was Trump when he announced this via Twitter?

The Pentagon (wisely, in my humble opinion) has declined to make any changes to the current policy, at least as of yet. Smart not to make sweeping changes due to a tweet. (Who thought it was a good idea to dictate national policy via social media?! I don’t even put it on Twitter when I change my dinner plans.)

If the idea that trans soldiers are a “disruption” weren’t ridiculous enough, I also heard that — with things heating up in North Korea — the idea of any ban would be put on hold.

So let me get this straight. Someone thinks trans soldiers don’t belong as long as everything is hunky dory in the world. I can just imagine Cheeto Jesus saying, “Kick ’em out without notice. Let ’em figure out how where their salary will come from and how to feed their families. They don’t need healthcare. They’re dead weight.”

UNTIL suddenly it appears he need them to take on North Korea. Well, that’s different. Now it’s okay for them sacrifice their lives. Suddenly, they’re not such a distraction any more.

There are about 15,000 transgender members of the United States military. That would certainly leave a hole if you’re trying to shore up your defenses, now wouldn’t it?

I’m fascinated by this lawsuit and by those who filed it. It takes chutzpah to file a suit against a world (so-called) leader. I’ll watch with interest to see how this plays out. Would love your thoughts on the whole situation. Feel free to share your comments!

When “just” is a four-letter word

I recently read something from someone who, like me, said she is “just” an ally. When I saw those exact words — “just” an ally — it really hit me. I felt the same way. I belittled my position because I don’t exist within the LGBT community. I downplayed my significance to those who are living their life as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

When I saw her post and particularly that one word … “just”… I was struck by a couple of thoughts.

One, why do we think we’re lesser because we “only” support the LGBT community?

It’s true, we don’t live the daily struggles of someone who is LGBT. We haven’t experienced the discrimination they face, the fear they live with, and the harrassment for just being themselves. And thank God for that. What a tremendous injustice those behaviors are!

But just because I haven’t lived it doesn’t mean I don’t understand. I’m sympathetic. I see the injustice and the pain it causes, and it hurts my heart. No, I don’t live it but I sure do *feel* it.

My second thought when I saw that word, “just,” was indignation. (Even though I’d also thought it. Welcome to my schizophrenic mind.) We, as allies, can be a force to be reckoned with. We *don’t* experience those struggles, that discrimination, or fear … and yet we stand up against it. We rally around those in this community because we care. We see how our friends and loved ones are treated and we recognize how wrong it is.

Better yet, we can do something about it.

We can work to change the discussion. We can work to educate those who don’t (or won’t) understand. Our words and our actions are weapons to be used to defend those who are LGBT. We can defend through personal conversations, at PRIDE events, and at the polls. We can volunteer. We can be a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on.

Allies have the capacity to change perceptions, to change behaviors, and to change minds. That’s pretty powerful stuff. That’s nothing to sniff at. Forget “just” being an ally.

So the next time you think about being an ally, be proud. I am. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to change the world.

Right after I finish my coffee.

P.S. If you’d like to read more about how to be an ally, please visit my website at www.lynnthorne.com and click on “Giveways.” I’ll send you tips on being a better ally!

 

 

How I Found a Different Perspective on the Military Trans Ban

I keep reading things about the military ban on transgender soliders. Most of what I’ve read is support for the transgender community. Many of the responses favor allowing our trans soldiers to continue to serve. Of course there are exceptions, including those who name-call and explain at great length why, in their minds, these particular people aren’t fit to serve.

This topic, like most things about being LGBT in today’s society, is divisive … which makes one particular piece I read all the more poignant.

I invite you to read this article published by The Washington Post in February. Authored by a trans woman who serves in the Office of Naval Intelligence, it gives me hope. In particular, this section strikes me:

When I look beyond the sweeping statements of a few loud and cruel voices, I am struck more by the similarities of the conversations across our communities than by the differences. Most people are fundamentally good and want to be even better.

My earlier post on the trans ban came from a place of anger. I need to shift my thinking. If this author can find a way to be hopeful after the type of treatment she and others like her receive, we all have reason to be hopeful.