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.

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.

 

Who’s looking out for Grandpa? (Hint: the answer’s in here.)

I was talking with a long-time friend today and we both commented on the number of younger adults who are coming out or transitioning earlier in life. I watch this phenomenon unfold with awe and appreciation. It wasn’t that long ago they weren’t comfortable enough to do it. Society didn’t accept the idea of LGBTQ quite as readily as it does today. Anyone who wasn’t straight or cis often chose to hide it much longer than the youth my friend and I were discussing this afternoon.

I watch the kids who go to school with my teenager who are comfortable in their own skin and don’t care who knows it. How great is that?!  I wasn’t comfortable in school and it had nothing to do with my lifestyle. These kids have so much confidence in themselves. It makes me happy to see it.

(And yes, I fully acknowledge that I live in a progressive area. The comfort young people around here feel in coming out is not represented everywhere. I get that. I am so happy to see it, regardless!)

Then I read a NY Times article that made me think about the opposite end of the spectrum: the elderly LGBT community, which doesn’t necessarily enjoy that same comfort. The article talked about how many of them feel they have to go back into the closet when it’s time to go into a nursing home or some sort of assisted care. My heart broke all over again at the thought that they are once again forced to live a lie.

Studies prove they’re right to worry. One showed that 48% of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have faced some sort of mistreatment. “Bias” is the reason given in the article I read … that “the older someone is, the more likely he is to harbor bias.” Call it what you like — bias, or stubbornness, or someone who’s set in their ways. At it’s core, it’s still discrimination. And it’s damn sad.

And then, just as I was about to get discouraged about their plight …  hope! I read about Sage, a nonprofit organization that provides services to older people who are LGBT. Among its other efforts, Sage is building NYC retirement communities with subsidized rents. These facilities ensure seniors who live alternative lifestyles have a safe and welcoming place to call home in their golden years. What a gift!

Sage, you and the people within your organization are doing such great work to give seniors a better life. In fact, this seems like a good time to celebrate all of the efforts on behalf of members of the LGBT community. Those who make it their mission to help this group feel comfortable, worthy, safe, and loved are amazing. Well done!

 

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…

Who am I, if you’re not you?

Those words will look familiar to you if you’ve been following the journey of my latest book. If you haven’t been, welcome aboard my book train!

I blogged about it here, in case you’d like to catch up. Go ahead and read that post if you like … I’ll wait for ya!

So now that we’re all on the same page (!), here’s the latest …

The book is completely written and being professionally edited. Mascot Books will be publishing this, and they’re currently working on creating some options for the cover art. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!

Once we have the edited manuscript and the cover art, it will be laid out (both for print and e-book) and then it will go to print.

I’ll have a few copies in hand by Labor Day but the official launch won’t be until October. (When we have an official date, I’ll definitely letcha know!) That extra time gives the publisher an opportunity to do several things:

  1. shop it around to various retailers;
  2. convince them they should carry it;
  3. ship it; and
  4. make sure it is stocked on store shelves before the launch date.

It also allows time for us to schedule some book signings and events to make the biggest possible splash 🙂

This particular post feels a bit self-serving (because it is). I just wanted to keep you in the loop. You’ve all been so supportive of this effort and I couldn’t be more thankful.  This book has been a few years in the making and it’s hard for me to believe I’ll be holding it in my hands in a few short months. Can’t wait to share that moment with you!

P.S. I still haven’t landed @EllenDeGeneres to write the foreword but I’m not giving up! Ellen, if you’re reading this, let’s tawk.

 

When you care enough to create a card

Way to go, Hallmark! Once again, the company is embracing inclusion. Hallmark has a new card specifically for those undergoing gender transition.

It features a butterflyScreen Shot 2017-05-25 at 8.48.44 AM on the front with the words, “You’re becoming who you’ve always been.” Inside, it says, “How wonderful is that?”

How wonderful is that? I think it’s terrific! Hats off to Hallmark for embracing the LGBTQ+ community. This is the second time I’ve blogged about them – the first time I wrote about how the company featured a real-life gay couple in their Valentine’s commercial.

I think this deserves a new catch-phrase. Instead of ,”There’s an app for that,” I propose we change it to, “There’s a Hallmark card for that.”

I admit I don’t buy as many cards as I used to, but I just might need to visit my local Hallmark store and show them some love. They’re definitely showing love to the LGBT world.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more companies did?

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.