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 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.

 

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

My Valentine’s Wish = #WriteOurForewordEllen

Please forgive me for being self-indulgent for a moment, but I have to share my greatest wish for Valentines Day. It’s not a giant diamond or a box of milk chocolates that is bigger than my dog. It’s not a dozen roses or a dinner out.

It’s Ellen DeGeneres.

Not Ellen herself, mind you. She’s taken, and I’m straight.

No, my wish this Valentine’s Day is that Ellen would consider writing the foreword to my book, Who Am I If You’re Not You? (You can read more about it at www.WhoAmITheBook.com, my brand-spankin’-newly created website)

Ellen is the perfect choice the write the foreword for this particular book. Not only because it deals with LGBT issues, but because Marc and Jennifer, the real-life couple at the center of this true story, have their own personal tie to Ellen. When they were undergoing IUI to have a baby, one of the rooms had a framed magazine cover with Ellen on it. They literally looked at Ellen’s face while trying to have a baby! (Which they did, btw – a gorgeous, now two-year-old, boy!)

So I tweeted, FBed and Instagramed her today, all using the hashtag #WriteOurForewordEllen.  And if you’re reading this and are on social media at all – FaceBook, Twitter, or Instagram – and would use the same hashtag, maybe someone from her staff will see it and tell her about it!

I know it’s a long shot, but so is winning the lottery. And since I haven’t ever won that, I figure maybe life’ll make this other wish come true.

So whaddya say, Ms. DeGeneres? Will you please be my Valentine and #WriteOurForewordEllen ?

When You Care Enough to Sell the Very Best

Yay Hallmark! 

I just read that for the third year in a row, Hallmark will feature a real-life gay couple in a Valentine’s Day commercial.

I don’t know why that touches my heart, but it does. I know Hallmark is not the first company to embrace the LGBT community this way, but I see it as a positive step forward that more and more companies are trying to be inclusive.

Nice to see them reflecting real life.

I might just have to send out a few cards today to support them!

Girl meets girl. Girl becomes boy. Uh oh.

That – in a nutshell – is the gist of my new book, Who Am I If You’re Not You?

Based on a true story about a real-life couple, the book looks at gender transition from the partners’ perspective.

I’m crowdfunding this project, which means I could really use your help!

If you’d care to support it, please take a look at this page which gives you all the details and a way to order.

Come on, it’s $15.   Help a struggling blogger/author/ally out?!

XOXO and thanks!

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!