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.

No Trans in Military? What the Actual F*ck?!

I stay away from political posts as a rule. I don’t want to engage. I’m not going to change anyone’s mind (and their comments aren’t going to change mine). So this blog has always focused on what I am learning about the LGBTQ+ community. My goal is to inspire others to open their hearts and minds and learn a bit about a community that is so misunderstood.

Today, I change the rules. I cannot sit by, silent, after the news that President Trump has banned transgender people from serving our military in any capacity. That they are a “distraction.” Hinting that they are only serving so the armed forces can pay for their medical procedures.

I’m disgusted, saddened, sickened and outraged. And those are only the words I feel comfortable sharing here.

We have heroes among us, ready to defend this country and its freedoms. Think about word for a second. “Freedoms.” Freedom for everyone except those that live a lifestyle that our leader deems “distracting.”

I’m sitting in an airport in San Fransciso as I write this, watching all manner of people walk by. Young, old, straight, gay, white, black. And yes, transgender. And you know what? None of them “distract” me. They are all people, just like me, trying to get to the next leg of their journey on this earth.

I’ll write more on this, rest assured. Feel free to unfollow this blog if that bothers you. And if it reassures you, or comforts you, to know that this is my very public stance, feel free to share my blog with others.

To the trans people who have chosen to put their lives on the line to save mine, thank you. You have my undying gratitude.

 

Why I now respect a ton of folks I don’t even know

One thing I’ve learned while writing this book: WRITING the book is one TEENY, TINY part of the whole process. You have to have a story. You have to sit down and write it. You have to edit and re-edit it. You have to query agents and publishers, and convince them they should pay attention to what you’ve written.

And if you’re lucky enough to actually land a contract, even then your work’s not done.

Oh no. Because now, you have to MARKET the sucker.

As someone who’s been around marketing for (ahem) a year or two, I figured this part would be a piece of cake. Geez, was I wrong. There are so many pieces to it! The part I’m currently working on is trying to convince people who don’t know me to do me a favor:

I’m trying to land endorsements.

These are the blurbs that go on the cover, or inside the jacket. Praise, accolades, compliments. Research shows these actually make a difference. If you have strong endorsements from people who are well-known among your target audience in particular, the average reader is more likely to buy your book.

So here I am, trying to convince these perfect strangers to take time from their fabulous lives to read my work AND say something nice about it.

Hence my recent flurry of emails, tweets and Facebook requests to people like Lady Gaga, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Aniston and J.K. Rowling. Yes, there are many requests to men too: Ben Affleck, Larry Kramer, Jim Parsons, and John Grisham among them.

Here’s the interesting thing, though. I had to research people who had ties to the LGBTQ+ community. They didn’t have to be a member of the community, mind you; they did, however, have to be visibly supportive of causes that impact this group. These are the folks that my target audience are most likely to respond to. So I started scouring the Internet to see who I could find.

AND THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM!

I was floored. Honestly, the more research I did, the more people I found who’ve used their celebrity status to advocate on behalf of the LGBT people in this world. Names like David Leavitt, Chuck Palahniuk, and Alison Bechdel might not be familiar to you. But what about Daniel Radcliffe, Christina Aguilera, Oprah Winfrey and Queen Latifah? (By the way, if you ever try to write a letter to Queen Latifah, let me know how you address it. I struggled with that. “Dear Queen?” “Dear Ms. Latifah?” Lady Gaga caused the same issue. “Dear Gaga” just sounds odd.)

All of these celebs and so many more support the idea that we all deserve love. That we’re all equal. That we’re all worthy. And they’re using their fame to promote those messages, even though some of them are straight, cis, and could advocate for so many other causes. How great is that?!

This book has taught me so many lessons. Some have been tougher than others. Some have been painful (rejection letter after rejection letter gets rather depressing after awhile). But this one, this one … well, I’m very glad to have been reminded of just how supportive human beings can be.

And by the way, in case you’re wondering, my book goes to print July 17! Stay tuned for more on that one…

From high school student to trans icon

Gavin Grimm is in the news again. The Virginia student was recently named one of Time Magazine’s Most Influential People. Just 15 years old when he transitioned, his case attacted national attention when some parents complained to the school board because he was born a girl but was using the boy’s restroom. I blogged about the outcome of his intial case here. The case went all the way to the country’s highest court before the Supremes sent it back down to the lower courts to reconsider.

Gavin is now only 17 but his name is known throughout the world, in part thanks to Laverne Cox. The transgender actress used her acceptance speech at the Grammy awards to shine a light on Gavin and his case. And now that Time has recognized him as the face of justice for the transgender comunity, he stands as a reminder to us all. Time had this to say about including him on their list:

His case…has implications that extend far beyond bathrooms. It’s about a greater sense of belonging for us all

Way to go, Gavin. You didn’t set out to change the world but your courage and your bravery are paving the way for others to live a more authentic life. That’s a hell of an accomplishment for someone who’s only been able to legally drive for a year.

Make Yourself Visible!

Happy International Transgender Day of Visibility!

This is new to me, but it’s an annual holiday on March 31. Today is dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide. 

If the past year of writing this blog has taught me anything, it’s taught me that the trans community faces an unequal balance of visibility and invisibility. They’re invisible in many ways, like when it comes to being forgotten, ignored and dismissed.

But they sure are visible when it comes to discrimination. So many people are so quick to shun those who are trans! (The North Carolina bathroom bill and Gavin Grimm come to mind.) How can this community be so misunderstood?

Learning about the LGBTQ+ community has definitely been a journey for me. I look forward to continuing to try to understand and educate others to live a life of inclusion, acceptance and love.

Meantime, be visible and go shine your light today!

Homeless and poor and trans, oh my

Just read an article about a Virginia Beach woman who helped a trans man who was about to be homeless. He’d moved here from Florida and had no place to stay, so she opened her home and her life to him. It’s a great story and I encourage you to check it out.

More than the story caught my eye. The article included some sobering statistics about being transgender in Virginia.

According to the U.S. Transgender Survey in 2015 …

  • 6% of trans people in Virginia were unemployed
  • 23% of them were living in poverty
  • 26% had been homeless at some point in their lives

Read that again, if you’d care to. I’ll wait.

Nearly a quarter of them couldn’t make enough to live on. 26% had been homeless at some point in their lives. More than one in four. 

And sadly, 15% of those surveyed said they’d avoided staying in any kind of shelter, despite not having any other options. Why? They were afraid they’d be mistreated for being trans. (Note: this survey was done before the current administration took office, during a time that was considerably more hopeful within the LGBTQ+ community.)

I can’t imagine not having a home. (I blogged about the issue of homeless transgender youth before.) I also can’t imagine not staying in a shelter because it didn’t feel safe. Choosing to stay out on the streets because the shelter was potentially dangerous? What kind of hell must that feel like?

I don’t have a grand plan or a glorious solution to solve this. I just know that it’s unacceptable to me that anyone is homeless or living in poverty for any reason, lifestyle included.

I’m hoping that by calling attention to this problem, maybe we can find a solution. There is assistance available. In Virginia, check out the Transgender Assistance Program. I’m sure other localities have similar programs. If you’re interested but don’t know where to turn where you live, let me know – I’ll do some digging for you.

Meantime, hats off to the kind soul in Virginia Beach who helped out the trans person from Florida who needed a safe place to say. She did more than help someone within the trans community; she helped a fellow human being.

Love and light to you, fellow human beings. May we all remember we have the power to change the world.

 

Who Am I If You’re Not You?… aka, What’s Next?

My book project is in full swing! I am thrilled with the pre-order campaign, in which 323 very kind people ordered a copy of my book before it’s even completed! Talk about humbling. The fact that friends, family and business sponsors were willing to shell out money for something on faith that I will make this book a reality  – well, let’s just say I’m honored. And tiny bit terrified.

Writing this book has been on my mind for 4-5 years, give or take, ever since I met Jennifer and Marc and heard their amazing story. I knew someone else out there would benefit from hearing it, and I hope that it will help open some peoples’ minds. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind, but I believe that maybe someone who isn’t altogether supportive of the LGBT+ community might learn something that softens their heart. That’s my goal with this story. (If you’re not familiar with it, check out this blog post where I explain the book. And if you’re curious, this blog post tells you who I’m hoping to get to write the foreword!)

And here we are … about to make it come to life. The book is about half written. This weekend, I’m leaving to go squirrel away in a quiet cottage for several days to finish writing it. I’m in talks with a few publishers who’ve expressed interest in working with me to print and distribute it. I have two stores who’ve committed to stocking it when it’s printed, and hopefully whichever publisher I choose will convince others to put it on their shelves.

There’re a couple of ways to look at this project now: with excitement – that people believe in me and this book; and with fear – that I won’t be able to deliver a product worth their confidence in me. I’m going with first point of view, at least most of the time. Now and again, doubt creeps in and I’m overcome with butterflies, wondering whether I can really make it happen.

When that self-doubt creeps in, I think about Jennifer and Marc – the couple at the heart of my book – who struggled against so many obstacles and kept their marriage intact. They lived this story. I only have to write it. I’m gonna be okay.

And this book is gonna kick ass.