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?

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.

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!

 

 

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!

Who’s got their back?

I attended a gathering last night that really spoke to my heart. Could be because I’m a mom (or maybe because I’m human) but the folks at Side by Side Virginia made a big impact on me.

Side by Side Virginia is an LGBTQ+ support group for youth that includes counseling services and support, but is also just a place where kids can come and be themselves with no fear of judgement or recrimination. I don’t have the quote in front of me, but they shared a comment from one of their members that said something along the lines of, “Side by Side is where I can come to be restored, and to just be myself.”

Wow.  Imagine feeling like you had to hide who you are nearly all the time. How draining that would be!  Now imagine feeling like that as a KID.

Side by Side started a trans support group in 2011, and now trans youth make up more than half of their members. The group has had a middle school program for trans youth aged 11-14 in Richmond since 2013, and hopes to start one in  Charlottesville this summer. I find that wonderful! The more support we can offer to children facing the challenges of transitioning, the better. And I have to believe that the younger that support starts, the easier (hopefully) the transition will be.

This program is headquartered in Richmond and has a Charlottesville branch, and I believe is connected to a couple of other locations within the Commonwealth. They not only support the youth, but they help train organizations on how to best assist these kids and how to help others support them. The Boy Scouts of America called them after last week’s announcement, and wanted their opinion on how they could help LGBT scouts!

Thanks for opening my eyes to a great way to assist the LGBT community, Side by Side — and thanks for all you’re doing on their behalf!  You have a fan in me.

If you know of any young LGBTQ+ folks who need a hand, their Youth Support Line is 888-644-4390. 

#writeourforewordellen

Do People React a Certain Way Because We Expect Them To?

I love this story I just read about a woman who was afraid to tell her grandmother she was bisexual. But she bit the bullet and told her anyway.

Her grandmother didn’t scoff, scorn or scold. She didn’t disown her, throw a fit, or judge.

No, this grandmother sat down and knitted her bisexual granddaughter a sweater with a great big rainbow on it.

Cool. Very cool. And it made me wonder – how many other people feared coming out without needing to?

Okay, I’m not naive. I know there are plenty of haters out there. Parents who turned their backs on their kids because they couldn’t understand. I just wonder whether we sometimes make situations harder on ourselves than necessary because we expect the worst reaction.

Or maybe it’s self preservation? We expect someone to be really upset, and when they are, we can handle it because we were prepared. And if by some chance they’re okay with the shocking news, it’s a great surprise.

But this doesn’t just apply to the LGBT community. The same is true for anybody who’s got to share news we think people aren’t gonna like. Job changes. Unexpected pregnancies. Failed college classes.

In each case, there’s the potential for someone to be really thrown for a loop. But there’s also the chance they’ll be fine about it. Disappointed that we’re hurt, sure … but not un-frickin-believably mad. Maybe people aren’t as harsh as we think they are. Maybe we help set the stage for how they react before they’ve even heard the news.

It’s an interesting psych-type question, I think. For those of you who’ve had to come out and who care to share, I’d love to know how you handled it and how it was received!