To my fellow #metoo survivors, I am so thankful to have met you and have been witness to your strength. Without uttering a word, we both know what the other has suffered at the hands of others. Knowing that we have this commonality, while not something to celebrate, truly is a gift. Few can truly understand, and many, no matter how close to us they are, will never share that commonality and understanding that you and I and too many others do.
This is such an awkward time. There are so many who support us and stand up for us even if they don’t know our names or faces, who “celebrate” this scandal as a victory of sorts, uncovering the ugly secrets from the back of the Hollywood closets and recognize that open communication and solidarity are the only things that can keep this plague of systemic abuse at bay.
They’re right, but sadly no matter how much we appreciate their support, what they don’t realize is that as this story stays in the forefront, all of us…even without thinking about one single detail of our own incidents, are drowning in the flood of emotions that come with it. Some might call it empathy, however, I think PTSD is a more apt description. We’re left trying to stay on our feet while these waves come crashing against us, furiously trying to keep our head up and not get pulled down by the undertow.
So for those of you who see #metoo, we thank you for your support even though we might not be able to say it just yet, and please know that your support will help in our healing.
I looked it up on Google Maps and the historic Stonewall Inn is just 7.1 miles from my childhood home. On my 3rd birthday in the summer of ’69, after I was well asleep in my bed the grown folks were enjoying a cold drink on a hot summer night, history was about to be changed forever. A poorly planned police raid would be the catalyst that changed our world, kicking off the visibility of the LGBTQ civil rights movement.
What started as a 1 a.m. raid, grew exponentially as word got out and continued to grow throughout the day. By the evening, June 28th, 1969 would be remembered forever as the day that Pride day was born and though the Stonewall riot was credited to transwomen Sylvia Rivera and Martha P. Johnson, it was only recognized as a “gay movement” for a very long time.
We thankfully as things have progressed, our Rainbow Tribe has expanded the recognition of who makes up our family and as being inclusive in Pride and the equality movement. We are LGBTQIA -Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual. And while yes, the word queer traditionally has been used only in derogatory connotations, the community has retaken the word for our own purpose as a catchall to make an inclusive reference to the community.
Trans folks are anyone who doesn’t fully identify with their “assigned gender at birth” based on our visible genitalia. I say visible because many intersex children are born appearing as boys, but will, later on, be found to have female sex organs discovered. Intersex is an umbrella term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.
Sadly, many parents opt to have their children surgically altered so that they don’t have to “explain” to others that their son is “different”. Ironically it’s medically easier to have their son become their daughter, but of course, that leaves that awkward part for parents to explain that their child is beautiful, loved and a blessing. Thankfully the trend is changing and parents are allowing their child to grow up, without being forcibly mutilated so they can decide how to proceed as they get older.
I identify as genderqueer/genderfluid. Genderqueer is the word describing someone who doesn’t fully identify as a girl/woman or boy/man. While I was born as a member of the female sex because of my plumbing and sex organs, I have never really identified as a girl. I was called a tomboy growing up and that didn’t sit right with me either and I knew I wasn’t a boy.
Genderfluid becomes even a bit more confusing because sometimes I feel very feminine, usually brought out by someone around me that is very masculine, other times I feel more masculine, I carry myself differently, my demeanor is more forward. Other times I’m just me… no discernible gender, just me.
We’ve all heard of people who feel that they are one gender trapped inside a body with the organs of the opposite sex. However, those of us in that gray area in the middle (and we are the majority in the trans community) have a really hard time figuring ourselves out feeling rather ambiguous and undefinable.
These are all new words to me, discovered just a few short years ago at the age of 47. This “label” did not confine me, it freed me. It allowed me to understand parts of myself, my identity, that just didn’t fit anywhere. I now know that I am not alone, and I am not different, I have a community of people who deal with the same things I do. Other people, and probably you know as well, finally have a means of identity.
The best way that I have found to describe being transgender is the body is the sex, and the gender is the soul. And while many argue that “God doesn’t make mistakes”, the fact of the matter is that human bodies do. There is no rule that says that babies are born perfect. They are born with disease, deformities, and various other medical anomalies. That is the human body, it is ruled by science… the science of the genetics passed on to them, the science of their given environment during gestation, etc.
I’m sure that you have seen or met someone with physical issues from birth that leave a child handicapped in one way or another, but that child’s soul is intact. In their head, in their heart, in their smile and personality, you know they are an incredible person, regardless of their issues, or sometimes even in spite of their issue. This is no different.
We’ve all seen variations of the Freaky Friday movies.. It’s always mother and daughter, father and son, and in a favorite of mine starting George Burns, grandfather and grandson. It’s all good for a laugh, when they see their body as different and scream in the mirror, even when Tom Hanks was BIG! A transgender person sees themselves in the mirror or in the shower the same way, as something very shocking that upsets them greatly, as something possibly deformed and very wrong… like waking up in the wrong body. An image in the mirror or the shower, that does not match what their perception of how they feel they look. This is where transgender folks struggle all the time, detesting and disgusted with their physical appearance that no diet or exercise can change.
Hell, think of the kid in A Christmas Story, (“you’ll shoot your eye out!”) when he had to try on that humiliating bunny suit. An odd comparison I know, but surely one we all can identify with, having some moment in our past where we’ve been under the spotlight and bubbling over with anxiety, and feeling uncomfortably self-conscious. Now imagine what it would feel like to be born feeling that way about your body and appearance, without people getting to see or know you for who you are instead of how you look.
And when you try to shed some of those layers, to break free of the prison that confined and tortured you, then you deal with people spewing hate, vitriol, and even violence because you had the audacity to show your true self to them. And not just strangers and acquaintances, people who have been close friends, family members, living in a situation of constant bullying. People who should be supportive and mentoring turn into tormentors. Parents should never be their child’s first bully, and should not emotional abuse or abandon their child. EVER.
The trans community has a 42% suicide rate, the numbers for self harm are staggering and transgender TEENS make up the make up a lion’s share of this country’s homeless population, left in abject poverty, drugs and both physical and sexual abuse.
It’s time to stop this. You can make a difference. Citizens shouldn’t just be celebrating pride of self and community for only one month a year, and they shouldn’t have to shed any signs of that celebration before traveling home to keep them from deal with harassment, assault, and possibly lose their life.
This country is supposed to be where “all men are created equal”, The Great Melting Pot, yet trans women are beaten and killed every day. We are Americans, we are one and we should all be recognizing that all citizens have the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, not just in the area of marriage equality, but in employment, housing, and just being living from day to day. We’re worried from day to day about what can happen to us from outside forces, so we need to band together and not target our own citizens.
The Trans Lifeline, they are a 24/7 hotline for transgender people in crisis, along with just learning more about about transgender people and related political issues. And by all means check out some of the other top organizations that work tirelessly to support the queer community. Consider a donation, a purchase or volunteering in your area!
Thanks for taking the time to read this and show you care. Just learning more about the topic enables you to be a strong ally for friends, family and coworkers who are LGBTQIA. I encourage you to share this with others. No one can have too many friends or allies.
And to my family members of the LGBTQIA Rainbow Tribe, I love you and we’re going to do this, together. Let me hear your voices below!
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.
Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. Violence in relationships is now not only so prevalent that we have a month dedicated to it, but one dedicated to teens. To me at least, it would seem that would be an indicator that domestic violence is getting worse, not better and that would directly tie in with the bullying epidemic that this country has been dealing with. All children (before they ever become teens) need to be educated and empowered to understand that no one EVER deserves to be hit or intimidated. Forget the old cliche that a man shouldn’t hit a woman because that one goes right out the window when it’s a same sex relationship or a school bully. It’s about teaching self worth. Period.
It’s not only teaching the little girl that if “he” hits you, you should leave, but also teaching the little boy that if “she” keeps pushing you to the point where you want to hit, you need to go. In both cases, those individuals have issues that need to be dealt with and another victim doesn’t need to be created in the process.
In all cases, children should be taught self love. They should not be victimized or be a witness to victimization and be made to think that this behavior is normal.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline responds to calls 24/7, 365 days/year, toll free, translations in 170 languages, providing crisis intervention, options for next steps, and direct connect to sources for immediate safety. www.thehotline.org
The Hotline is the vital link to safety for women, men, children and families affected by domestic violence. Callers are met with a live voice of a caring Advocate who can help the caller develop a safety plan, see options for hope and can quickly direct-connect callers with sources of help in communities across the U.S. The Hotline is an excellent source of help for concerned friends, family, co-workers and others seeking information and guidance on how to help someone they know. 1 in 4 women is abused, and friends and family are some of the first places they turn for help.
A national service, the Hotline receives about 22,000 calls each month and provides a database of more than 5000 agencies and sources of help in communities around the U.S. and its Territories.
The Hotline provides bilingual advocates (Spanish) when possible and a Language Line with 170 translations.
The Hotline accepts donations online and in writing to NDVH, PO Box 161810, Austin TX 78716 (phone 512-794-1133). For information about corporate partnerships, creating campaigns or events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please empower your children with the knowledge they need to stay healthy and safe. Set the example, your home is what they know as being “normal”.
If you need to get out of your environment – please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 to find local assistance.
What to do if you’re not abused
Confusing header I know, but just because you’re blessed to be in a healthy relationship doesn’t mean others are to. What if a friend or relative came to you tomorrow and asked for help because they are in a violent relationship and need assistance to save themselves and possibly their children? What do you do?
Bookmark this page so you can reference it or send it to someone else.
Let your fingers do the walking – Find out what is available in your area for victims of domestic violence should you need to refer someone. Find out about local homeless shelters and food pantries as well.
Write down this information twice and keep them handy. Keep a copy for you and a copy to be handed to someone at a moment’s notice. You never know when you’re going to run into someone that needs help or how much time you’ll have to spend with them.
Find out what you can do to help.
All organizations need help by way of donations and volunteers. Ask what they need the most. Here’s a link for setting up your own used cell phone drive! We all have these lying around.
Talk to your church, youth groups and anyone who will listen about setting up workshops to teach about domestic violence and bullying. If there’s nothing organized currently, help set it up if you can and get donation drives going.
We all need to make the world a better place and be proactive in this endeavor. Outreach should not just be conducted by former victims or children of victims but everyone who knows that this behavior needs to be stopped.
Remember that bullying doesn’t stop on the playground, it grows into something far more damaging if it’s not stopped in its tracks. Thanks for listening.