GAYRHS – Episode 6

Originally aired on 3/30/17.

Sorry if I pause randomly! I run out of breath super easily and it’s weird.

Remember you can email me at gayrhsradio@gmail.com, DM me on any social media, leave a comment here, or just ask me in person about any LGBT+ topic!

Outline

Current Events

  • A bus fueled by hate is embarking on a tour of the east coast. On March 22 and 23, the “Free Speech Bus,” will be parked in front of the United Nations and Trump Tower in New York City. On the side of the eye-catching orange vessel is the phrase: “It’s biology: Boys are boys … and always will be. Girls are girls … and always will be. You can’t change sex. Respect all.” The organizers behind the bus include the notoriously anti-LGBTQ groups National Organization for Marriage and International Organization for the Family, which are based in Washington D.C. Both are led by Brian S. Brown, the social conservative behind the “Dump Starbucks“ campaign, which encouraged people to boycott the coffee brand in 2012 because it publicly advocated for same-sex marriage. “It’s biology, not bigotry,” Brian S. Brown said of the Free Speech Bus’ message in the release. “Men and women were created equally, each given a gender that is fixed, immutable and complementary. Rather than perpetuate a lie that gender can be changed based on emotions and feelings, we should encourage people to embrace and love who they were made to be.” Once the bus is parked in each location, representatives from the campaign will speak to media and have meet-and-greets with local supporters, Joseph Grabowski, a spokesperson for the NOM, told the Huffington Post. Several organizations that advocate for LGBTQ rights in New York City, such as Advocates for Intersex Youth and OutRight Action, have banded together to speak out against the bus, saying that the message is discriminatory and encourages violence against transgender individuals. “Free speech is a constitutional right, but language has consequences that must be considered,” Jessica Stern of OutRight Action International said in a press release sent to the Huffington Post. “Trans youth already have an extremely high risk for violence, discrimination, and suicide. Broadcasting a message that erases and denies the reality that transgender and intersex children and youth exist is irresponsible, factually misleading, disrespectful, and dangerous. This vehicle is part of the reason trans youth are driven to suicide.” (Huffington Post)
  • The bus was vandalized [talk about why this is not okay]
  • President Trump appointed anti-LGBTQ activist Roger Severino to lead the division charged with enforcing civil rights law at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Trump quietly selected Severino this week to serve as Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS. Severino’s extreme views opposing transgender people and women’s rights have garnered praise and prominence from the far right. Until this week, Severino served as Director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society for the Heritage Foundation where he wrote scathing opinions on transgender issues, abortion rights, and gay marriage. He repeatedly denounced and worked to oppose OCR’s implementation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which provides critical non-discrimination protections based on gender identity and sex stereotyping  in federally-funded health programs. He also referred to the Obama Administration’s guidance to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity as a “radical social experiment.” “I could not think of a more dangerous person to head up the Office of Civil Rights at HHS,” said JoDee Winterhof, Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs of HRC. “Once again, Donald Trump is declaring war against our community by appointing anti-LGBTQ people at all levels of his administration. Mr. Severino takes pride in being a stark opponent of the LGBTQ community and has made it clear that his number one priority is to vilify and degrade us. We will fight tooth and nail against any attempts to roll back civil rights including access to healthcare.” (Human Rights Campaign
  • Two months after performing at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Jackie Evancho wants to use her voice for a different cause. The classical crossover singer, 16, has asked to meet with Trump in the wake of the president’s decision to roll back a federal policy prohibiting schools from discriminating against transgender students. Evancho’s sister, Juliet, was one of three trans plaintiffs who won the right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity at her Pennsylvania school in a Feb. 27 federal court ruling. Evancho first suggested the meeting on Twitter on Feb. 22, immediately following the Trump administration’s announcement that it would rescind former President Barack Obama’s executive order mandating that all schools that receive federal money must treat a student’s gender identity as his or her sex. Though Trump himself has stayed silent on the matter, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a Feb. 23 briefing that he believes the president “would be welcome to meet with” Evancho, ABC News reported. In a new interview with People, Evancho explained why she now feels compelled to take a stance against Trump’s anti-LGBTQ platform. “I would talk to him about some of the horrors that [Juliet] has experienced,” Evancho said. “Hopefully make it a federal issue — and create some sort of law that will protect my sister and people in her situation.” In the days leading up to the inauguration, Evancho had been encouraged to follow in the footsteps of singer-actress Jennifer Holliday and back out of her appearance because of Trump’s opposition to LGBTQ rights. Still, she told People that her decision to perform the national anthem was solely “about the honor and not about the politics.” (Huffington Post)
  • In a new issue of Time Magazine, an article titled “Infinite Identities” is featured on the cover, drawing on a GLAAD-commissioned survey to explore the evolution of gender and sexual identity in younger (Millennial) generations. The survey found that 20% of Millennials identify as something other than strictly cisgender and straight, as compared to 7% of Baby Boomers. The article points out that some feel as though there are more people than ever identifying as LGBTQ, but that this is likely a result of growing rates of acceptance—individuals who are coming out as LGBTQ are doing so because they feel more comfortable than they may have in prior years. “There have been the generations that have lived by the rules and those generations that break the rules,”  GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis tells Time magazine. Young people today, she says, are “redefining everything.” The Time article discusses the idea of rejecting binaries, meaning that it is more likely in the Millennial generation that someone will identify as bisexual, pansexual, or asexual than simply “gay” or “straight,” as in the past. To a somewhat lesser extent, this is true of gender identity as well—rather than “man” or “woman,” Millennials are more likely to identify as gender nonconforming, genderqueer, or demi-fluid. The piece also turns to older organizations or individuals within the LGBTQ movement, who have often used binary descriptions in their arguments for equality. By focusing on how gender and sexual identities have evolved over time, the article begs for us to observe the generation gap that has arisen, even within the LGBTQ movement. (GLAAD)
  • A transgender World War II veteran proves it’s never too late to live life truthfully. Patricia Davies, from Leicestershire, England, didn’t decide to transition into a female until she turned 90 years old. Davies — born Peter — has known she was a woman since she was just a toddler. “I’ve known I was transgender since I was 3 years old. I knew a girl called Patricia, and I decided I wanted to be known by that name but it didn’t stick,” Davies told Caters News Agency. Davies kept her identity a secret for most of her life for fear she would be shunned by her peers or forced to undergo electric shock treatment. Davies — who served in the army between April 1945 and 1948 — said coming out as transgender would have categorized her as a homosexual, which wouldn’t have been accepted in the army. Davies, who married when she was 21, eventually came out to her supportive wife in 1987. Her wife, to whom she was married for 63 years, bought Davies jewelry and dresses that she could wear in private. Sadly, her wife passed away six years ago. “I was 60 when it all came pouring out to my wife, she was very sympathetic and helped me all the way, but we agreed to keep it quiet,” said Davies, who first learned about transgender identity from a TV show sometime in the 1970s. When Davies first came out to her wife, she decided to wear high heels but was deterred when teenagers saw her and threw eggs at her window. Now a nonagenarian, Davies has begun taking estrogen to move her transition forward and has come out to her community. “It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I was living a lie,” she told Caters. “I have been keeping quiet. I have slowly started to tell some of my neighbors. Everybody said, ‘Don’t worry, as long as you’re happy,’” she added. Patricia was inspired to make the big change from male to female after seeing the romantic comedy film “Boy Meets Girl,” which features transgender characters. (NY Post)
  • North Carolina’s infamous House Bill 2 (HB2), the bill that has cost the state over $3.75 billion dollars, cost its former Gov. Pat McCrory his election, and cost thousands of LGBTQ North Carolinians their piece of mind and safety is back and as bad as before, despite the deceiving ‘repeal’ name. Yesterday, as the legislature approached today’s deadline imposed by the NCAA to repeal HB2, newly elected Gov. Roy Cooper, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore reached what they are calling a “compromise” repeal of HB2. The bill does repeal HB2, but it just replaces it with prohibitions on local government entities (including cities, towns, schools) from extending legal protections to LGBT people until 2020 and bans on protections for transgender individuals in restrooms and other single-sex spaces forever.  The bill makes it illegal to protect people from discrimination. And worse still, it does so under a claimed interest in protecting “bathroom safety and privacy.” Being unfamiliar or uncomfortable with trans people does not translate into a right to expel trans people from society. And make no mistake, that is once again, what HB2.0 does. This is another iteration of the same – and worse because it shuts down the momentum from the past year of work against HB2. It derails the litigation, the organizing, and the public perception of what is happening. (ACLU)
  • Erasure is not an uncommon thing for LGBT people to experience. For millennia—with same-sex behavior and trans identity variously legally proscribed or forbidden, or punishable and stigmatized—it suited societies and religions to make LGBT people as invisible as possible. And, to escape detection and persecution, many LGBT people chose to collude with this forced invisibility. Even today, making ourselves visible, coming out, is something every LGBT person considers or does. The LGBT population has been consistently discriminated against, and consistently made invisible. It has consistently been under legal and physical threat. It has had to fight for visibility. As Harvey Milk said, coming out is the most potent thing an LGBT person can do. Showing that we are here, that we are present, is the most powerful statement of all. This visibility has never been enumerated. No-one’s ever figured out how to definitively. You might have thought the Census Bureau would be best positioned to. Apparently not. Our presence, then, has always been configured as a moral issue. For years, the law was either against LGBTs, or implicitly skewered against them. LGBTs have been murdered and attacked for who they are. People have tried to change their sexual orientation with chemicals, electric shocks, and feverish threats. Initially, LGBT people were to be part of the 2020 census: as the Washington Blade and other publications reported, sexual orientation and gender identity were included in proposed categories. However, the Blade reported, the U.S. Census “issued a notice shortly afterward indicating the report was corrected because the initial appendix ‘inadvertently’ included LGBT categories. The response of some to this seems to be: well, we weren’t included in the past, so what’s changed? Big deal. “Well, you never had it before, so what are you missing now?” is not a strong or convincing argument against the usefulness of maintaining prejudice and bigotry. It amounts to little more than learned passivity. Just because you are being diminished as you expected to be doesn’t lessen the diminishment. It may well be that this would have been a first time. Neither the U.S. Census, nor the American Community Survey has ever included questions about sexual orientation or transgender status. Just because LGBT has never been counted before, the fact we remain uncounted in a year when LGBT rights feel imperiled feels darkly significant—especially the mysterious circumstances by which census chiefs decided that LGBT people should not be counted. How, if not by counting them, can LGBT people be protected and have their rights, quality of life, and health maintained? By not counting LGBT people, the Government is hurting them. The case for a proper LGBT Census is a moral, as well as practical, one. Numbers, when it comes to LGBT people, as Gates once told NPR, are controversial: for some they are too high, for others too low. They can be used, indecently, in arguments about policy and legality—why, the prejudiced politician might ask, should we be spending time and money on LGBT equality when such things affect such small groups? The answer—that everyone deserves equal treatment under the law regardless of their sex, race, or sexual and gender identities; regardless of how many of them they are—can be lost at the pedestal of a stark statistic. This is about equality, and recognizing the needs and presence of particular sub-populations within the main one. This is about signaling to LGBT people that they count culturally, as well as statistically. LGBT Americans should be counted as equally as everyone else, and whatever results gleaned be analyzed and utilized sensitively, taking into account such complicating matters as people not self-defining themselves honestly or openly. To LGBT people, an official erasure by Census organizers and government may be painful, and yet another practical and cultural negative. But remember this: the LGBT population has been long numberless, long unfixed by statisticians. That numerical mystery zone will persist now as official policy, but—just as in so many years before—this sanctioned statistical ignorance will not stop the LGBT population’s very visible and enduring campaign for equality. (The Daily Beast)

Transgender Day of Visibility

TDOV is a day to show your support for the trans community. It aims to bring attention to the accomplishments of trans people around the globe while fighting cissexism and transphobia by spreading knowledge of the trans community. Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition trans people need.

This year’s theme is trans resistance (#TransResistance). In the increasingly transphobic global political climate, we must use our newfound visibility to mobilize trans people against oppression. Speaking out, taking direct action, and educating others is critical to our safety and wellbeing. This recognizes that while visibility is important, we must take action against transphobia. Visibility is not enough alone to bring transgender liberation. However, we can use visibility as a vital tool for transgender justice. Activist and Trans Youth Leadership Summit fellow Caelan Damocles for coming up with this theme. (Trans Student Educational Resources)

Over the years, there have been calls by some trans people to make the TDOR a more happy, joyous event, to which the founders and others have resisted. TDOR does serve an important function in terms of focusing attention on anti-transgender violence.

Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan is one of the people who asked why couldn’t the trans community or someone start an event that celebrates who we are? Then she asked the question that led to the formation of this event, ‘Why isn’t that someone me?’

Rachel’s vision for the Trans Day of Visibility is to focus on all the good things in the trans community, instead of just remembering those who were lost.

“The day of remembrance is exactly what it is. It remembers people who died,” she said. “This focuses on the living.”

Trans*

There is nothing inherently problematic with the asterisk but it’s often applied in inaccessible, binarist, and transmisogynist ways. It is unnecessary and should not be used. Claiming the asterisk itself is fundamentally oppressive denies accountability and ignores the culture of binarism and transmisogyny that affects the community. People also often misattribute its history to cisgender and binarist people.

The asterisk originated from search Boolean, where trans* would search for any words starting with trans (transgender, transsexual, etc). The asterisk is useless as a way of attempting to be more inclusive because trans already included all trans people. The asterisk did well for explicitly noting that being trans is not limited to trans men and trans women (as trans without the asterisk was misinterpreted as meaning) but it subtly began working with this misinterpretation and contributed to the incorrect thought that “trans” by itself only means binary trans people. This does not indicate that the term itself is problematic but that it is just not a useful tool. Trans without the asterisk is already inclusive of all trans identities.

The history of the asterisk is not well known. Often, it is misattributed to itspronouncedmetrosexual (Sam Killermann, who is notably a white, cisgender, heterosexual man). This attribution is incorrect, as itspronouncedmetrosexual was just one web site that popularized it long after its inception. The graphic he produced also incorrectly included “two-spirit” under trans* identities, while many two spirit people do not identify as trans. Some claim the asterisk was originally created and popularized by nonbinary people assigned female assigned at birth trans people and trans men (note that these groups are not necessarily separate). Others claim it was trans women programmers.

Another historical misattribution present online is the asterisk being created to include cisgender drag queens and other gender nonconforming cisgender people. This is incorrect and no version of “trans” should include cisgender people, with or without the asterisk.

In the mid-2010’s social justice bloggers (particularly on web sites such as Tumblr) began to claim the asterisk excludes trans women and nonbinary people. The asterisk does not “exclude” trans women and this statement is simply inaccurate. However, we often see it being applied in ways that silence trans women and decenter those struggles as white female assigned at birth trans people who have more access to this sort of language use it to prove how involved in the community they are. The asterisk being used to represent trans (without the asterisk) being exclusionary of nonbinary people comes solely from (mis)interpretation. That was not the intention of the asterisk and is not an inherent factor of its existence, just a common misunderstanding. Similarly, people using “trans* women” instead of “trans women” to subtly delegitimize trans women’s gender identities comes from a misinterpretation of this occurrence. Blaming the silencing of nonbinary people and trans women on the asterisk instead of the groups who silence them and the culture that actually perpetrates these actions denies accountability and ignores the systems of oppression that are really affecting these groups.

While it’s white queer and trans people assigned female at birth who started the asterisk, it’s also white queer and trans people assigned female at birth who are at the front lines of critiquing the use of the asterisk, including the use among trans people of color, trans women, and nonbinary people who use it to describe themselves. The call-out culture prevalent online is something that does solidly contribute to the oppression of some of the most marginalized members of our community by privileging access to the most up-to-date theoretical work around what it means to be trans over actual trans experiences.

In the end, we decided to stop our use of the asterisk because of how unnecessary and inaccessible it is and its common application as a tool of binarism and silencing trans women. (TSER)

 

 

GAYRHS – Episode 5

Here’s GAYRHS Episode 5! Be sure to listen live on Thursdays, 2-2:30 PM. Next week’s episode is an important one, but for now, listen to my rambling.

I actually ran out of content today because I talked way too fast. So I have the outline, but it’s missing the last part of the episode. But that’s okay, because the last part just went all over the place.

Outline:

Current Events

  • YouTube is currently under fire for restricting all of its LGBT+ content. Google introduced ‘Restricted Mode’, a way to filter out NSFW content, but it considers queer media, inappropriate or not, to be content that needs to be restricted. This is a huge loss for the LGBT+ community because videos on helping people understand their identity, come out, and educate themselves are vital. Users can only view videos in Restricted Mode if they’re over 18. YouTube claims that these videos contain ‘sensitive material’, but most of these videos are PG. YouTube refuses to remove pornography from the website, and then pulls this. And further more, videos with titles like “I hate LGBT” are not restricted. The tag #YouTubeIsOverParty has trended worldwide. Sadly, boycotting YouTube is not an option, since it’s a global powerhouse. Hopefully YouTube will come around.
  • North Carolina’s former governor says he’s had trouble finding a job, even part-time teaching positions (amid fear of student protest), because of backlash from legislation he signed involving transgender rights. The law he signed last year struck down local nondiscrimination ordinances and required transgender people to use public bathrooms matching the gender on their birth certificates. He says people are calling him a ‘bigot’ and that he’s not. Don’t listen to him. Pat McCrory is a transphobe. And are we supposed to feel sorry for him?
  • Katy Perry accepted the National Equality Award at the Human Rights Campaign Gala on Saturday night. She said in her speech, “I speak my truths and I paint my fantasies into these little bite size pop songs. For instance, ‘I kissed a girl and I liked it. Truth be told, I did more than that. However, how was I going to reconcile that with a gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro-conversion camps? What I did know was I was curious and even then I knew sexuality wasn’t as black and white as this dress. And honestly, I haven’t always gotten it right but in 2008 when that song came out I knew that I started a conversation and a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along, too. Most of my unconscious adolescence, I prayed the gay away at my Jesus camps. But then in the middle of it all, in a twist of events, I found my gift and my gift introduced me to people outside of my bubble. My bubble started to burst. These people were nothing like I had been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind and inclusive people I have ever met. They stimulated my mind and they filled my heart with joy and they freaking danced all the while doing it. These people are actually magic, and they are magic because they are living their truth.” It’s important to note that at the time of the song’s release, Katy’s career benefited massively from “I Kissed a Girl,” which left a bad taste in some people’s’ mouths. Critics of the song claimed that it was a way to appeal to the male gaze. Her debut album also featured the single “Ur So Gay,” which was rightfully called out for being homophobic. Since then, she’s come a long way, and has been actively working as an ally, in part with what she calls more “purposeful pop.” (Teen Vogue)
  • The Alabama House advanced a bill this week that would allow faith-based adoption and foster care agencies to refuse service to same-sex families based on the agency’s religious beliefs. The deceptively named “Child Placing Agency Inclusion Act” passed with a 60-14 vote Thursday. The measure is sponsored by Rep. Rich Wingo and seeks to protect the rights of state-funded and licensed adoption agencies to reject LGBT adoptive or foster parents on the grounds of religious freedom. The bill will now move on to a state senate committee hearing before going to a full vote on the senate floor. (Newnownext)
  • The Trump Administration erased the LGBTQ community from The National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and the Annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living, key surveys that are used to help provide care to American seniors – including disability, transportation, and caregiver support needs. (GLAAD)
  • Asia Kate Dillon is making history as the first gender non-binary character on a mainstream television show, Showtime’s “Billions.” The star also identifies as gender non-binary in real life. Taylor, Dillon’s character, is different from other cultural depictions of non-binary and gender nonconforming people in that the character’s storyline didn’t focus on coming out or rejection from their friends and family. Calling the role a “personal breakout,” they said. “Not only is Taylor different from anything we’ve seen on television before, but I am something new, too. I’m here to change the game.” (Huffington Post)
  • A high school boy in Pennsylvania was humiliated and emotionally harmed by being forced to share a locker room and bathrooms with a transgender boy, according to a lawsuit filed by a top religious conservative group, which ripped an argument from the progressive playbook and turned it on its head. The suit says that Joel Doe, an anonymous name for the high school junior, was changing his outfit for a PE class last October when he noticed the transgender boy, whom the lawsuit refers to as female. “When he was standing in his underwear about to put his gym clothes on, he suddenly realized there was a member of the opposite sex changing with him in the locker room, who was at the time wearing nothing but shorts and a bra,” according to the complaint filed on Tuesday in US District Court. “Plaintiff has experienced embarrassment and humiliation, both in terms of being viewed and viewing a student of the opposite sex in a state of undress and because of the stigmatization and criticism he received from other students and adults,” the complaint continues, noting that he “also fears the future embarrassment of meeting students of the opposite sex in the bathroom when simply relieving himself.” By allowing the transgender student to share the facilities, the lawsuit alleges, the Boyertown Area School District has violated the boy’s civil and constitutional rights. (BuzzFeed)

I just want to comment as a transgender student, it’s obvious the kid’s parents are saying these things. This kid is nervous because a trans person is with him. He clearly has no clue what trans people are like. He has no clue what it’s like to be scared of a locker room and bathroom based off gender identity. Trans people are assaulted and murdered in these facilities at alarming rates. Cis people have nothing to fear from transgender presence in bathrooms. This case is arguing on the same basis Gavin Grimm is arguing. The difference is, Grimm actually knows what this discrimination is. This boy is a prop for his parents’ transphobic views.

 

Asexuality (WhatIsAsexuality)

Asexuality is a sexual orientation, like being straight or gay.  When someone is straight, they’re interested in people of a different gender.  When someone is gay, they’re into the same gender.  But when someone is asexual, or “ace” as it’s called, they’re not really into anyone in that way.  They simply don’t experience sexual attraction.  Asexuality isn’t something that needs to be “fixed” or “cured”, it’s just a part of who you are.

 

You can be asexual even if you think someone is good looking.  It’s possible to think that someone is cute or beautiful without being sexually attracted to them, in the same way it’s possible to think a puppy is cute or a painting is beautiful.
You can be asexual even if you’re dating.  Romantic attraction is separate from sexual attraction.  Many asexuals are interested in relationships, even if they’re not interested in sex.
You can be asexual even if you’ve kissed someone.  Kissing can be an expression of affection, but it doesn’t have to be sexual in nature.
You can be asexual even if you’ve fallen in love.  Love and sex are not the same thing.  Being in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re interested in sex, as well.
You can be asexual even if you get aroused.  Getting “wet” or getting “hard” is just your body doing what it’s supposed to do.  Getting aroused doesn’t have to mean you’re sexually attracted to someone or something.
You can be asexual even if you touch yourself.  Maybe you do it to relieve stress.  Or maybe you do it because it feels good.  Whatever the reason, masturbating does not mean that you can’t be asexual.
You can be asexual even if you’re curious about sex.  Curiosity is not desire.  Wondering what sex is like does not mean that you’re feeling sexual attraction.
You can be asexual even if you’ve had sex.  I know, it sounds strange, but having sex doesn’t mean you can’t be asexual.  Some aces are curious.  Some aces think it’s what they’re supposed to do.  And some aces even like it.
And you can be asexual even if you haven’t done any of those things.  Some asexuals are aromantic, meaning they’re not interested in romantic relationships.  Some asexuals don’t masturbate.  Some asexuals never want to have sex.

“You’re too young!”  No one objects when someone your age talks about who they like.  You are old enough to know your sexual preference, even if that preference is “no”.
“That’s not what it means!”  Many people think of single celled organisms when they hear the word “asexual” and they don’t know that there’s another meaning that applies to humans.  Often, they forget that words can even have multiple meanings.  Remind them that “straight” and “gay” have multiple meanings, too.
“You should try it first!”  You don’t have to try something to know you’re not interested in it.  Sex is no exception.  Asexual people who have had sex still don’t experience sexual attraction afterwards.
“That’s just celibacy!”  Some people think that asexuality is the same as celibacy or abstinence, because they mistakenly believe that asexuality is about not having sex.  In reality, asexuality has nothing to do with an avoidance or even a dislike of sex.  It’s about a lack of sexual attraction, and that’s all.
“It’s not real!”  Asexuality is most certainly real.  Just because someone hasn’t heard of it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.  There are many well-respected researchers who recognize asexuality as a valid sexual orientation.

Some people feel that they are “almost asexual” or “asexual with an exception”.  That is, they strongly identify with being asexual, except for a few limited or infrequent experiences of sexual attraction.  Gray-asexual people fall in between asexuality and non-asexuality.  In some cases, they experience sexual attraction only rarely.  In others, they’re unsure if they’ve experienced it or don’t feel that they quite fit the definition of asexual in some way.  Demisexual people are only capable of feeling sexual attraction after developing a strong emotional bond with someone.  Demisexuality and gray-asexuality fall within what’s called the “asexual spectrum”.

Along with a sexual orientation, people have what’s called a romantic or affectional orientation that describes who that person might be romantically attracted to.  In many people, the sexual and romantic orientations are aligned, so people tend not to think about them being separate concepts.  It is not uncommon for asexuals to experience romantic attraction.

 

Romantic orientations are given names that parallel sexual orientations.  For instance, a heteroromantic person is someone who experiences romantic attraction toward a different gender, homoromantic  toward the same gender, and so on.  A significant number of asexuals also identify as aromantic, which means that they do not experience romantic attraction.

 

Separating romantic and sexual attraction is not strictly limited to asexual people, however.  For instance, it is possible for someone to be an aromantic heterosexual, or any other combination.

 

One Year Post Top Surgery

Can you believe it’s been a year since I made the best pun of my life? I can’t.

First, I want to thank my parents, especially my dad, for fighting the insurance company to get me this surgery. Three appeals over the course of six months took patience I could only dream of. You guys worked so hard to get me this surgery, because you understood the suffering I was going through wearing a binder. Thank you to the doctors who worked with my parents to prove that this surgery was a medical necessity. And thank you to Harvard Pilgrim, our then insurance company, for having trans healthcare and a trans specialist.

Getting this surgery in on time was more stressful than it should have been. My dad was getting a new job, and a change in insurance. We had just spent half a year fighting insurance and finally got approval. We had a time frame we had to get the surgery in, and that scheduling was hard. Throw in the fact I got extremely sick a few days before surgery? I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to get the surgery. Our new insurance is based out of Virginia, and they view trans healthcare as a luxury. Surgery practically saved my life, and they think that it’s on level with a nose job. Yikes.

I had my top surgery on 3/14/16 with Dr. Melissa Johnson in Springfield, MA.  I had my drains in for a week (I should have had them in longer. She was hesitant to take them out but I insisted because they hurt so much, but now I have this weird inflated pocket on my sides which hurts. Oh well.), and I was out for school for two weeks.

Here’s a small timeline of my scars.

IMG_3408-2IMG_3578-3IMG_2386IMG_2040IMG_2397

A (Not So) Quick Guide to Pronouns

As I mentioned in my radio show, pronouns can be tricky. Especially non-binary* pronouns. So I’m making a quick guide on how to use these pronouns, correct misgendering mistakes, and why pronouns are so important to people. First, read this article by Merriam Webster explaining the singular they pronoun.

I just want to start this off on how to correct yourself when you accidentally misgender someone. Trust me, no trans person wants you to make a huge debacle about it. I remember once on a field trip in eighth grade, the tour guide made me slap her because she felt so bad about misgendering me. It just drew unwanted attention to me and made me feel uncomfortable about it. When you misgender someone accidentally, just quickly say “sorry, I meant [person’s correct pronoun]”, and move along. That way you correct yourself and you don’t make it into a huge event.

Personally, I really dislike the term “preferred pronoun.” It’s not a preference, it’s my actual pronoun. Calling me anything but he (or they, I’m okay with that if you prefer) is wrong. Preferences imply that it’s not wrong/not okay if you chose another option. Pronouns are people’s pronouns, not a preference.

I don’t know if this will ever happen, but I hope that one day introducing yourself will include saying your name and your pronouns. Assuming people’s pronouns is something we all do. It’s natural for us. I don’t think that’s a habit we necessarily need to change, though it would be nice to think of everyone using gender neutral pronouns (they is the first thing I think of) when you see a person who’s pronouns are unknown to you. Introductions in a dream world would be like “Hi, my name is ___ and my pronouns are ___.”

If you read aforementioned Merriam Webster article it explains how to use the singular they pronoun. If you skipped out on it, here’s a simplified explanation. They has been used as a singular pronoun for awhile, and while it’s often credited as grammatically incorrect, it’s been repurposed to be a singular gender neutral pronoun since English is lacking one (Swedish, I believe, made a gender neutral pronoun recently). And you’ve been using the singular they, without realizing it. For example: “Did the mailman come?” “Yes” “Oh, what did they bring?”

My dad has been confused with the singular they, and I’ve noticed this is a common occurrence. Because English is weird and doesn’t make any sense, the singular they is still used like you would use it in a plural sense. For example: “This is my friend, ___. They are non-binary.” Don’t ask me why this happens, I’m not the grammar expert. All I can say is English can really suck sometimes.

And when it comes to gender neutral honorifics, the most common thing I’ve seen is Mx. instead of Mr. and Mrs./Ms. It’s pronounced as ‘mix’, and you would use it just like the other honorifics. There are also gender neutral alternatives to titles. Most people tend to go with the male honorifics (actor instead of actress, as an example) because it most languages, the male and neutral pronouns tend to be the same. Also, in the Latino/Latina community, people say Latinx (I’m pretty sure it’s pronounced latin-ex) as a gender neutral alternative.

And, this is even more confusing to some people, but pronouns aren’t necessarily gendered. Most times, boys use he/him pronouns, girls use she/her pronouns, and non-binary people use they/them pronouns, but this isn’t always the case. You’ve probably heard of Ruby Rose, Australian actor and DJ. And you probably know she uses she/her pronouns. But Ruby Rose identifies as non-binary. She just identifies with she/her pronouns instead of they/them pronouns. Some people don’t like they/them pronouns because of the stigma surrounding them.

There are neo-pronouns people use, such as xe/xim or ze/zir. They both are generally used for non-binary/gender non-conforming people, but pronouns aren’t limited to a gender. In addition to these neo-pronouns, there are also noun-pronouns. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of noun-pronouns because people who tend to use these pronouns are otherkin. I personally do not understand the otherkin community, or necessarily want to. Otherkin are one of the reasons trans people are teased so much, in my opinion. Otherkin are people who ‘identify’ with animals, other people, and inanimate objects. Their pronouns tend to align with what they identify with. So if a person were fairy identifying otherkin, they might use pronouns like fae/faer. Noun-pronouns are not something I would ever want to use, but I respect the people who use those pronouns and refer to them as such, because I’m a decent person.

I do have to say, I’ve never heard of a cis girl using he/him pronouns, and vice versa with a cis boy, but that’s probably happened. I say cis people because some trans people keep the pronouns that they were assigned with birth for a period of time to help people transition to their new pronouns easier (I did with my parents). Some trans people even keep the pronouns they were assigned with at birth, and while I don’t understand, I respect that.

I often get asked why I get so upset when people purposefully call me she, or even accidentally. Pronouns matter to people. Especially trans people, because when we’re called the pronouns assigned to us at birth, or it, it’s dehumanizing. It’s used in a taunting way, meant to harm us. And it’s not okay. When someone purposefully calls me ‘she’ or ‘miss’, I call them the wrong pronouns and honorifics back. They don’t respect me, I don’t respect them.

This has gotten way more out of hand than I intended. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask!
*Non-binary: Someone who doesn’t identify as male or female. See here or here for a further explanation.

 

 

Dysphoria – Updated

When cis people tell me they understand my dysphoria because “everyone feels bad about their body” it takes all my strength not to go on a rant right there. But I have to remember cis people don’t understand what it’s like to have dysphoria.

I understand that almost everyone feels uncomfortable with their body. You might not like your nose or your thighs or your eyes. I get that. Because the way the media is today, we are faced with unrealistic body types with the assumption that you must look like this or no one will ever want you/you’ll be unsatisfied with your life. You feel frustrated about your body because it doesn’t fit an unrealistic standard. And I get that, and that feeling is genuinely awful.

But dysphoria is more than that.

Wanting to change a part of your body is different than genuinely feeling like you’re in the wrong body, like this body isn’t you. I used to look in the mirror when I was little and think “Is this really me? Am I inhabiting this body?” And I’d get really confused. I didn’t know I was transgender. I didn’t even know who I was a person. I would see my chest or my hips or even just my feet and want to cry. This isn’t me. I felt lost in my own body.

When I was around 13, I began to self harm because even though I knew that this wasn’t true, a little part of me hoped if I could get out of this body my ‘right’ body would be underneath my skin, waiting to come out. I know this is wrong now because this is my right body.

It’s taken me awhile to come to that conclusion. When people say “this is your girl body” and “this is your boy body” I tell them they’re wrong. This is just my body. It’s not gendered. I have biologically female parts, yes, but that doesn’t determine my gender. This is my body. It still makes me beyond uncomfortable and I wish that I would lose my curves and my feet would grow and that I’d become taller, but I know that can’t happen. So I have to accept myself.

Has my dysphoria gotten better now that I’ve accepted that this is my body and there’s not much more I can do to change it? No. But at least I can deal with it. I can sit down and think “Okay, so I feel very uncomfortable with my body right now. But this is my body, and it’s not a girl’s body because I’m not a girl and it’s not a boy’s body because I’m a boy. It’s just a body, and works just like any other body.”

I’m so lucky to be 15 years old and already be one year post top surgery and 18 months on testosterone. I have a beard and lots of body hair. I have a deep voice. I have a flat chest that I proudly parade in public during the summer. But I still have dysphoria. Dysphoria is not something that goes away after surgery or hormones. After my top surgery, my bottom dysphoria increased exponentially. I can barely look at my hips without feeling physical pain. I don’t ever feel comfortable talking about what’s in my pants. All I can describe it as is phantom pain. It feels like something should be there, and it’s not. And that’s something I’m going to have to live with because bottom surgery isn’t ready for female to male transgender people. There are still so many health risks, and even if you get through those obstacles, your new equipment will never fully function right. And that’s something that doctors are working on. They say in the next ten years, it will be perfected. And I’m just going to have to learn to wait.

Dysphoria is not just disliking a certain aspect of your body, but genuinely knowing that this body doesn’t feel right and doesn’t align with you and it causes extreme anxiety, but you can work through it. Just don’t tell a trans person “I know how you feel” if you’re cis. You have a similar situation, but you don’t understand and never will (thankfully). If you’re trying to help someone with dysphoria, just remind them that their body isn’t gendered and it is the right body and it’s healthy and keeping you alive and that’s all it needs to do.

 

Trans Students Rights & Bathroom Issues – Update

In case you didn’t know, President Trump rescinded federal protections for transgender students. Transgender student’s basic rights will be left up to the states to decide. Which means, in one state I could use the men’s room, and in another state, I’d either be forced to use the girl’s room or a single stalled bathroom. And that’s not okay.

Transgender students need these protections. 75% of transgender students feel unsafe in schools according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Schools should be a place where students feel comfortable so they can learn. If a student feels unsafe in their school, they have trouble learning, leading to lower grades, which can ruin their future careers. The point of education is to make sure children succeed, not to make their lives hell.

Transgender kids are purposefully denying themselves water and starving themselves so they don’t have to use the bathroom in school, which is awful to their physical and mental wellbeing. 59% of transgender students have reported being denied to use the bathroom that correlates with their gender identity. Who thinks little kids are sexual predators? You’re more likely to be assaulted by a GOP Congressman in a bathroom than a transgender person, especially a transgender child. If you’re the person assuming children are sexual beings, aren’t you the predator?

Back to my main point. Civil rights should not be left up to the states. The last time we left civil rights up to the states, it was about slavery and certain people were deemed to only be three fifths of a person. Every person, trans or cis, deserves to have the same basic human rights in each state.

“Let’s make a separate bathroom for trans people!” seems to be the common compromise. But let me tell you first hand how dehumanizing that is. I was forced to use the nurse’s single stall bathroom in middle school, and having to walk down three flights of stairs to just wash my hands, and then be yelled at for missing class time is humiliating. Being told that all people like me only exist to scare your children and assault your spouses is mortifying. Being told you don’t deserve the right to exist in a public space is barbaric. I am a human. Transgender people are humans. We have basic bodily functions like you, and we have emotions like you. We just want to use the bathroom. I promise, we don’t want to assault you. Hell, I don’t even want to look at you. I just want to do my business and leave. The only time you should yell at a transgender person in the bathroom is if they don’t wash their hands, and you shouldn’t even be thinking about gender in that case.

If you haven’t heard of Gavin Grimm, he’s a 17 year old trans boy from Virginia who is suing his school board because they’re not letting him use the men’s room, and his case has reached the Supreme Court. The case his lawyers are making is absolutely fantastic. I’m going to include an excerpt from ThinkProgress.org because his case is summed up perfectly here:

“Title IX” provides that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination.” Gavin Grimm’s lawyers are arguing on the basis that if you accept the narrowest possible definition of “sex” — that is, even if you believe that the word “sex” refers exclusively to whether a person is born with a penis or a vagina. Title IX uses very broad language. It forbids any discrimination “on the basis of sex.” Every other student at Grimm’s high school is allowed to use a bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Grimm cannot, and the reason he cannot is because he was born with female sex characteristics. That’s discrimination based on sex. A person’s transgender status is an inherently sex-based characteristic. Gavin is being treated differently because he is a boy who was identified as female at birth. The incongruence between his gender identity and his sex identified at birth is what makes him transgender. Treating a person differently because of the relationship between those two sex-based characteristics is literally discrimination “on the basis of sex.”

I have a radio show at my school, and I discuss this further if you want to listen here.

This whole post is basically an angry rant, but I needed to get it out. Before I finish this, I want to share a campaign my friend Landon and I started. It’s called #WeBelongHere, and we’re asking trans students to take pictures/videos of them using the bathroom of their identity in schools, and use the hashtag to show that trans students belong in the bathrooms of their gender identity.

Also, I was featured in the Boston Globe. Isn’t that cool?

 

GAYRHS – Episode One

In case you missed it, my high school Algonquin (ARHS) now has a radio! On Thursdays from 2:00-2:30, I host an LGBT talk show called GAYRHS (credit to my brother for that name). You can email me questions at gayrhsradio@gmail.com or comment on any of my social media posts or just talk to me at school. Here’s the first episode. Also, I apologize for the audio quality for it. We’re all still working out the logistics and technology.