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.

 

How to be Queer 101

Today’s post is courtesy of my friend, Josh Tucker, who hosts a local weekly radio show. While my posts try to educate those, like me, who are trying to learn about the LGBT community, this one is written from Josh’s point of view. I thought it was interesting and wanted to share with my readers.

Thanks, Josh, for letting me share!

His post follows:

Every week on my radio show, I do a rant about current events or news or topics that are interesting to me. This week I wrote out an instruction guide about how non-queer identifying people can be more queer!!!

How to be queer

So you probably look at all the pretty queer folks out there, thinking, “Oh my god. They are so cool. I wanna be like them. I wish I wasn’t so boring.” Well I have got some news for you buddy… YOU CAN BE QUEER! Yes you can! I have faith in you!

You might think that we are some kinda strange endangered animal, or imaginary, like a unicorn. But we’re not. We’re everywhere! You might not see us, because like fairies, you have to believe in us and be nice to us, or we’ll never appear and fly over to talk to you. And now you might be thinking, “Hey wait… being queer is not a choice. If you’re saying that we boring folk can be queer, doesn’t that mean republicans are right about your ‘queer agenda’?” NOOOO. First of all, being a conservative republican is actually the choice to be wrong about absolutely everything (at least socially), and accepting that your ignorance is forever on the wrong side of history. And while your biology and mentality is NOT a choice, it is a choice to examine yourself and identify with the queerness your life. Chances are, you actually are very queer already, but haven’t realized it yet. So get outside of that closet ya big queermo!

If you’re still having trouble accepting your true potential, here’s just a few easy tips to get you started on the path to glorious queerdom!

1. Go by they/them or other gender variant pronouns. It’s easy. You use them all the time. If you find a gender neutral sweater, you don’t say “Someone left his or her sweater,” you say “Who left their sweater?” You only mean one person, but they/them references an identity that isn’t bound by specific universal genders. There are no rules about who is allowed to use they/them, you can even be cisgender and straight and call yourself they. But this makes you look different and cooler, and people will think you’re a bit more queer than they previously thought.

2. Realize that sexuality is not boring and limited. Remember how I said identifying as queer is kind of a choice? Well, so is not being queer. When you were born, a gender was chosen for you based on sex, and you grew up in a society where sexual identity is largely promoted as being acceptable if you desire the opposite sex. Society is really at fault. That’s what made you straight and dumb. But you don’t have to live like that! If you feel any attraction outside of your assumed sexuality, don’t run from it! Embrace it. It’s healthy for you.

3. Buck the cistem and present yourself the way you really want to. The thing about queers is that we just look androgynous and cool. But we don’t have any standards or dress codes. Some dudes wear makeup, some girls cut their hair short, some non-binary genderqueers don’t dress like a guy or a girl, and look like an androgynous angel from outer space. Just forget the rules that you’ve grown up with, and dress to express yourself. Note, expression isn’t identity, but you’ll be many steps closer towards becoming the queer self you’ve always been if you express yourself outside of your assumed gender.

4. GUESS WHAT. Nobody is normal. You aren’t normal. Queer has many definitions, but essentially it refers to a non-normative identity. Is there a certain man or woman you think is the quintessential idea of the normal person? And do you idealize them and try to be more like them? Does that make you feel more like a woman or man? It shouldn’t! Whoever you’re thinking of is just as unnormalized as everyone else. Once you understand this, you’ll see that masculine and feminine aren’t genders, they’re adjectives, and no matter how much of either you think you are, that won’t keep you from being queer.

5. Support your queer friends and queer circles. Like begets like. If you want to be queer, or a good person really, be nice to queer people. Here, queer is representative of the entire LGBTQ population. Use proper pronouns, don’t randomly ask people invasive questions about their sex lives, don’t tell anyone they’re living a sinful life. If you wouldn’t want someone to do something to you, don’t do that thing to another person just because they’re queer. That makes it a lot harder for you to be queer too, and remember, YOU WANT TO BE QUEER! You want to be cool like us. And be friends with us. If you have at least one token queer friend, all of the ideas on this list are so much easier to accomplish.

6. Stop using queer as a derogatory word against LGBTQIA folks, and start using it to describe EVERYONE. The truth is everyone wants to be queer, because everyone is queer to some extant. They mostly are ignoring the queer parts of their lives, but that’s ignorant. And not accepting it just keeps you from accepting yourself and being happy. Don’t say queer, faggot, tranny, dyke, and the rest to insult people. Actually don’t use most of those words if you don’t identify with them. But hey! As long as you don’t use it for a cheap joke or aggression at LGBTQ expense, you can use queer now! Say it all the time! Because you are queer.

7. Unbind from the binary. All of the binaries. We get taught that life is full of dualities, because it’s easier to tell children there are only things and their opposites, than to say not everything is either good or evil. Yes you may have an apple, no you may not. And that apple is green or it’s red. Life is actually full of spectrums. We live in 3 dimensional space, we can move through our universe in any direction we want. The hallmark of living the queer experience is navigating through perceptions of binaries without adopting a single specific ideal. That’s why we’re so cool and open minded. We’re not “this” or the absence of it, and we don’t expect anyone else to be that thing either. However, this is also true of the HUMAN experience. Everything is fluid for all of us, and we get to make a billion different decisions all the time that actually create our identities. So being human is akin to being queer.

I don’t speak for all queer folks out there, and I’m sure a lot of folks don’t want the rest of humanity to be exactly like us. I don’t want that either, but I do want more queer people to be proud of who they are. And being queer is not an exact science. You grow up with oppression, and you turn your experiences and identity into something beautiful and subversive. Absolutely ALL of our identities, if we are allowed to truly define them ourselves, are intrinsically transgressive. People feel safer in numbers. Yes, being an ally is great! But it’s indicative of a corrupted society that being an ally is an actual accomplishment. Being openly queer will give you a sense of pride for identifying with the antithesis of the patriarchal, cissexist, heterosexist, fearful establishment. Some of you can’t be queer, because you just don’t have what it takes… interpret that statement however it applies to you. But if you do have the stuff, the balls, guts, the mind, body, and bravery to be who you really are, DO IT!!! Just follow my tips, and you’ll get there.