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I'm Amy Sarah.
I am a survivor.
I work at NASA's
Goddard Space Flight Center.
I like Sailor Moon.
I like whales.
I like space.
I like Viet Nam
And I like writing
I also have a Sailor Moon blog
and a ballet blog
Ever since I was little I have wanted to be a ballerina. I have wanted to glide across a stage with a serene face and wispy grace. It was one of the first indications I had that I was not like other boys. That sounds so cliché but it’s true. I knew girls who were dancers and I was cripplingly shy around them. What would happen if they found out my dream? The dream that I wanted to be a pretty ballerina like they were.
By the time I was in first grade, I spent every night before bed stretching in the top bunk. I knew that ballerinas stretched a lot. They had really flexible legs and they could do splits. Forward splits and side splits. My guy friends all thought splits looked like they would hurt. That was probably related to how much it hurt when I got nailed in the crotch by a soccer ball on the second grade Kensington Rec. team.
That was the thing. I was supposed to be a boy. That’s what everyone wanted me to be. Boys didn’t get to be pretty ballerinas. Of course I knew that there were plenty of male ballet dancers, but they just weren’t the same. So when I got nailed in the balls in that soccer game in second grade more than just my scrotum shrank. The dream of being anything other than a lanky, ugly boy pulled in on itself and tried to disappear. I fell deep into the closet before I even knew what that meant.
When I was ten I spent nights in my closet—I had a large closet, within which I had a desk, a portable TV, a radio, dozens of hand-drawn maps, a microscope, a home planetarium, hundreds of records, and a sewing kit—sewing myself my very own ballerina skirt. It wasn’t much. Mom made draperies and upholstery for friends, so her sewing room was full of scraps. I pieced together my skirt out of green and gold jacquard, white linen, and an elastic band. It was creative.
I stole a pair of white tights from Mom’s dresser. That was a harrowing adventure. Mom and Dad’s room was always closed and was strictly off limits. I snuck in quickly while Dad was picking Mom up from work. Mom had an entire dresser devoted to lingerie. The tights were in the third drawer from the top. I stole a sheer white pair and a white lacy pair and retreated back to my closet.
I would wear my ballerina outfit in the bathroom because that’s where the biggest mirrors were. I pretended to dance. I closed my eyes and heard Tchaikovsky. I imagined dancing to my favorite Beethoven symphonies. How expressive I could be!
But I grew out of my skirt and I never made another.
My uncle taught me how to defend myself against bullies who tried to beat me up.
I got acne.
I crumpled up the tights and stuffed them in the back of the desk in my closet. I got taller and stringier and more awkward. The joy of movement I had possessed as a child waned. And waned. Until one morning when I was fifteen, and I said to my parents, “We have to talk.”
And I told them everything. And Mom just held me and said, “Do you want a pony? We will do everything we can to make sure you grow up into the girl you know you are.”
“I don’t need a pony, Mom. I want to be a beautiful girl.”
I used to be a transphobic gay man. In the fall of 2011, I was sitting in my car with a friend, parked in front of my yellow San Diego house, talking about dating and gay bars and all the new things I’d learned about myself since coming out the year before. At some point, trans* people came up. “I know I’m supposed to get it because I’m gay,” I said, “but I just don’t understand the whole trans* thing at all. It makes me feel so weird.” I remember a co-worker telling me that her sibling had just come out as transgender and not knowing what to say to her. I remember making jokes. I remember feeling uncomfortable when trans* people would walk into the coffee shop. I am grateful to no longer be that person, yet I’m aware of the progress I still have to make. I must always be accountable to change.
Something seismic shifted inside me when I saw Matrix co-director Lana Wachowski’s acceptance speech for the HRC Visibility Award in October 2012. For the first time, I heard a transgender person speak with candor and vulnerability about her experience, and I realized — with painful clarity — that much of the LGBTQ movement, for which I care so deeply, and to which I am giving my energy and my paychecks, was getting it wrong. Trans* voices are conspicuously absent, and too many uninformed and insensitive lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer persons are doing harm to the trans* community while simultaneously purporting to speak for them. Just because I have experienced one kind of oppression does not mean that I understand all oppression.
Early in her speech, Lana reflects on a dinner she went to with a group of friends and strangers. “Throughout the dinner,” she says, “they repeatedly refer to me as ‘he’ or one of the ‘Wachowski brothers,’ sometimes using half my name, ‘Laaaaaa,’ as an awkward bridge between identities, unable or perhaps unwilling to see me as I am.” I have been that person, I thought.
It was at this moment that I understood, that I felt for the first time the privilege to which I am heir as a cisgender person — that is, as someone whose assigned sex at birth matches my self-perceived gender identity. Like some religious revival, Lana’s story converted me, opening my eyes to a world and a reality to which I had previously been completely ignorant. I couldn’t help but see the deeply embedded gender binary, the one that hems trans* persons in with anxiety and fear, everywhere, even in queer communities.
When I checked in at the airport later that month, I couldn’t get my boarding pass until I clicked either “male” or “female” on the screen. When I went to the bathroom in public, I realized how difficult it would be if the people around me questioned whether or not I was going into the right one. When I showed my ID to get into a bar, I didn’t have to worry about the bouncer accusing me of having a fake. When I went to the doctor, I didn’t have to wonder if my physician would know what to do with my body. Like some dense morning fog, the gender binary seemed to loom everywhere, and I felt burdened like I never had before to fight for the trans* community that I’d been including for years in the acronym with which I identified.
For trans* people, violence is a pressing reality. I have a friend in medical school in San Diego who called me last year after attending a lecture on trans* health. The guest speaker, a physician who works almost exclusively with trans* persons, explained that he wasn’t able to retain his patients. “It’s not because they’re dying from disease,” he said. “It’s because they’re being murdered.” In a 2011 report on trans* discrimination, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found disturbing rates of harassment of trans* and gender-nonconforming persons, with 78 percent of their 6,450 participants reporting being a victim at least once. For trans* women of color, particularly African Americans, the discrimination was most severe.
When Obama gave his second inaugural address this January, queer people across the country celebrated the fact that the president of the United States had named marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples a civil rights issue. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what my trans* friends were thinking.
President Obama invoked Stonewall, that historic riot that changed the course of queer history in America but failed to mention that the event was sparked, in large part, by courageous transgender women like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. The two went on to co-found Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries to provide aid to other young, homeless trans* women. Johnson died in New York in 1992, her body found floating in the Hudson River. Even though there was evidence of harassment, the police ruled it a suicide and refused to investigate. The case was not reopened until 2012.
In her essay “Crossing Gender Borders,” Virginia Ramey Mollenkott says that “it is vital for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals to recognize our movement as basically a transgender movement,” something that I would argue that we’ve deplorably failed to do. She continues: “The fact that the most effeminate gay men and the butchest lesbians are the most endangered among us should alert us to the fact that society cares less about what we do in private than it cares about a challenge to its longstanding gender assumptions.”
As queer people, we have been challenging gender roles and expectations since we started kissing each other. The dirty little secret of the LGBTQ community, though, the thing that we don’t want to admit, is that we have a long way to go on the road toward trans* safety and inclusion. We compromise our commitment to justice when we fail to recognize that there are members of our own community in whose oppression we are complicit.
“If I had remained invisible, the truth would have remained hidden, and I couldn’t allow that,” says one of the characters in Lana Wachowski’s most recent film, Cloud Atlas. Unless it truly includes our all-too-often-forgotten trans* members, the LGBTQ movement for equality is no fight for social justice. We must continue to elevate bold, clear trans* voices like Lana’s, Sylvia’s and Marsha’s if we are ever to see the world of love and acceptance we’ve been marching to build for decades.
Follow Todd Clayton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/todd_clayton
This is important.
I don’t even know where to start criticising this. It’s all bad. All fucking bad.
Once again, a white cis feminist fucks up and fucks up bad.
Complaints go here - email@example.com (I think)
TW’s - Transphobia, transmisogony, cissexism, slurs, all the TW’s. -_-
Hey look, it’s cis scum.
Why trans* people need more visibility. Click here to share on Facebook. Click here to retweet. For other infographics and references, go here. You can also join our Transgender Day of Visibility Facebook event!
Hey guys so yeah welcome to my life.
I don’t have anything new for TDOR. But I have this.
TRIGGER WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT, TRANSPHOBIA, TRANSMISOGYNY, PHYSICAL AND VERBAL ABUSE, VIOLENCE
Have you ever heard of the word “trap.”
I thought you might because it’s a word you use
When you see someone cute
Perhaps someone a lot like me
A trap is a girl who gets her drinks for free
After all she’ll pay later when you slip her a roofie
And you bring her up to your grungy
Fifth floor apartment that costs half your salary
And you tear off her clothes and…
Wait. This isn’t what you expected to see?
I thought I made it clear
Back when you were buying drinks for me.
If you want me to go home that’s fine with me.
But now you’ve tied me to the bed
and locked me in your room
And I hear the key fall on the kitchen table
As you dial the phone.
I hear every word you say.
I start looking for a way to escape,
A window I can jump through
That will splatter me over the sidewalk below
Before your friends get here
And fuck me like a saturday night TV show.
But the rope around my wrist won’t let go.
Your friends are wearing work boots.
Eight steel toes at eye level
Eye level because I can’t lift my eyes from the grain in your worn hardwood floors.
And the first kick breaks my ribs.
And I feel that thing I thought was human leave my throat
They make me crawl.
And then they fuck me into the wall.
And when I fall to my knees they find another use for me.
And then the kicks. Broken bones, shattered teeth.
Another trap, getting what it deserves.
It’s amazing, how much abuse a body can take,
Before it becomes a corpse.
Have you ever heard the word “trap?”
DC Launches First-In-The-Nation Trans Respect Ad Campaign
“I think it’s going to have a great impact,” she said. “The fact that it is going to be right there in your face. People will see transgender people. They’re going through everyday life, everyday struggles — the same as straight people, rich people, everyone. Getting the message out there … is going to be great.”
Saying that lesbian and gay people are a more well-known group to the general public, Kisha said of transgender people, “I feel like we’re in such a little box, they put labels on us.
“Tonight is going to change a lot of people’s minds.”
- I don’t have to give birth to a watermelon and break my motherfucking vagina
- I don’t have to get punched in the uterus every fucking month and want to kill over
- I don’t have to shave basically every fucking inch on my body
You don’t have to do two out of three of those things.
Giving birth and shaving are completely optional.
Strict gender binary and gender expectations like “women have to shave all of their androgenic hair” are hurtful to all involved.
Fuck periods though, I am so glad my IUD makes mine fairly rare.
I don’t know, something about this post just seems insensitive to trans* people, but I can’t put my finger on it.
It’s because there are plenty of guys out there with vaginas. We call ‘em trans* guys but really they’re just guys like any other guys. Likewise, there are plenty of women who don’t have vaginas, and even those trans* women who do have one don’t get periods. A strict biological definition of gender fails to consider the fact that gender is, in fact, a social construct that interprets bodies and roles in ways that are fraught with secrecy and disclosure and power and epistemological privilege. Whether you want to admit it or not, gender is A LOT more complicated than what you’ve got between your legs. That’s why, when people ask me what I’ve got down there, I refuse to answer. It’s irrelevant to my social role and presentation.
Really, this person is not wishing she were a guy, she is wishing she didn’t have a vagina/uterus. You know, you can always get a hysterectomy if you hate it that bad. That’s all I have to say about that.
Listening to Good Asian Drivers while I am taking a shower. Thanks for that, Kit.
Us and Them
Sister, I read about you today,
the newspaper said you’d been tortured,
your body dumped in the woods
behind manicured white suburbs
you made the back page of the local paper
And you were another,
another sister who thought
we could live together,
you said it didn’t matter
if they were trans or cisgender
and you forgave them for
Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena,
for gunshots heard in rural Nebraska.
You said we just had to show them
that things could be better.
Sister, the obit called you Jason,
son, brother, and I knew they
would bury you in a suit and tie,
because your parents wanted you that way
(And now they could have you, I bet they didn’t shed a tear when Jenny died, but they sure cried when you told them Jason never felt like a boy.)
I won’t be going to Jason’s funeral,
I don’t need to see you that way
and I will sit on the edge of our lake
and remember your question: Did God make a mistake?
Because we couldn’t shake the need for reasons,
the tortured confessions that rake jagged claws
over your tired arms because while I was
out fighting this war, I
never saw the harm you were
suffering, bleeding in the back
of that pickup truck where
they made sure you died a whore.
Sister, I read about you today,
mangled by flesh-eating suburbia
the edges of your dreams, and
I drove out to the crime scene
where yellow police line tried to redeem
the poison suburban knives, the
place where you died,
Sister, I know you tried
to bridge divides and you said
all that matters is what’s inside,
but when I read the paper this morning
I wished they had died,
and I wished they had known torture,
and I wished they had cried.
But I knew they hadn’t,
so I stared at them across police lines
and I spat poems into the divide.
While Obama was announcing his support for gay marriage, Argentina was formalizing rights for transgendered adults to get publicly-funded sex change operations and ID changes. Top that, America. (photo by Natacha Pisarenko/AP)
oh shit. big thumbs up to Argentina.
Meanwhile, in Argentina…
Against Me! singer Tom Gabel reveals plans to begin living as a woman in the new issue of Rolling Stone. Gabel, who has dealt privately with gender dysphoria for years, will soon begin the process of transition, by taking hormones and undergoing electrolysis treatments.
Gabel will eventually take the name Laura Jane Grace, and will remain married to her wife Heather. “For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she would accept the news,” says Gabel. “But she’s been super-amazing and understanding.”
Gabel only told a handful of family and friends about her plan to transition before talking to Rolling Stone. Because this is the first time a major rock star has come out as transgender, the singer made a point of speaking openly about it. “I’m going to have embarrassing moments,” says Gabel, “and that won’t be fun. But that’s part of what talking to you is about – is hoping people will understand, and hoping they’ll be fairly kind.”
SO much respect for Tom Gabel right now.
Welcome to the family, Laura Jane. Let’s bake a cake to celebrate your tranniversary ^_^