Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sorry I haven't been posting

I am sorry that I have slacked off on posting here on the corner.

I will try and cook up a new post soon.

Just life has been busy. Pride month, Sevans birthday coming up, support group meeting, online advocacy and mentoring, and counsiling a mom of a 10 year old MTF that recently came out of the closet and my days have been full.

Hugz and luv,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Facilitating ~Sevan

Let me first say...that I'm in no way posting this because this is the *only* way to do things. Some of these ideas are just things that are working for me as a facilitator...and I want to shed light on some of the "background" things that are involved for me, as a facilitator.

The first, and I think most to cultivate relationships with the people you facilitate. Get to know what they like, what they're about. The larger the group...the more difficult this really becomes. can always try.

Our local group has a facebook group that's attached, and I always make sure to "friend" everyone that's part of our facebook group so that I can see what they post about, and get to know them better. If I haven't seen them for a while at the meetings; I'll message them on facebook, or email and just check in with them and see how they're doing.

When you know the people in your group that you're facilitating then you know their strengths (or can try to..) and play to those strengths to get them more involved. When they're involved they can feel like they have partial ownership of the group and contribute to the outcome.
Who knows tumblr really well? Who enjoys photography and can create pictures of events? Who's good with Html and can help with any web presence? Who's warm and inviting and can act as greeters at meetings?

One thing that I try to do...and it may seem very small but I think it's important...and that's to show your own humanity. I never pretend to be perfect. I never even try. If I feel like I'm being put up on a pedestal...I try to take that with grace, but remind them all that I'm human. I fail. Plenty. I think that's important because if you're up high on a's a long hard fall when you do fall...and you will...because that's being human!!

Networking is very important. Getting to know other facilitators and leaders of other similar groups in your area is really important. As facilitator of a trans* group we've gotten to know the board of the LGBT center quite well, the board members of OutSpokane (the organization that puts on PRIDE, among other events) etc. We've also created relationships with other trans* groups around our state so that we know how they do things.

I've created a sign in sheet that includes birthdays. I make sure to remember when birthdays are coming up, and bring that to the attention of the group so that we can celebrate, or at least get a card and recognize their important day.

Look forward to events. Make sure to plan ahead with plenty of time. We started planning for our first Pride booth about four months ahead of time. That gave us time to create educational materials, posters, a banner etc without stress. It also gave us ample time to slowly accrue the cash for those things. Transitioning isn't cheap and I never want to add financial stress to group members (if I can help it..)
As not all trans* people are gay/lesbian/bi it's a good idea to look for events that aren't LGBT geared. There's a diversity celebration in Aug locally that we're planning on participating in.
We're also planning to invite other organizations to join with us in creating our own event for Transgender day of Remembrance. Our local community is supportive and accepting and welcoming them to help us create an event gives them the opportunity to show that support in a visible way. I think it will likely go very well. :)

I'm sure I'm missing a number of things but that's a good enough list for now.

Above open, be present and be available to listen and encourage people to share. Giving people a chance to feel really heard is sadly's a gift.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Trans* flag ~Sevan

I know I mentioned how our trans* group had been working on a new flag to represent our community. Well we worked on it further and finally came to a solid conclusion for a design. I'd love to see it spread! So frequently I"ve heard complaints about the most well known trans* flag:

The complaint about that flag is the colors. They're "baby colors". I think the creator of the flag was trying to express that most trans* people were born in the wrong body. I can't know I don't know the flag's creator. What I can do though, is make my own version of a trans* flag that might resonate with people more. I enlisted the help of my local trans* support/social group and we came up with this:

The top two stripes represent male (blue) to female (pink). The purple represents non-binary and genderqueer people (as the genderqueer flag colors are green, white and purple) the thin white stripe represents all people as well as the "line" trans* folks cross during their transition. Then the female (pink) to male (blue) along the bottom.

We've made a banner to march with for Pride and we've got small 5x7 flags that we'll wave as we march.

If you like this flag, if you feel that it represents you; then please share it widely! I'd love to see this flag gain ground and take off!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Visit to the ER ~Sevan

Monday was a rough night. :( I'm really out of shape; so Monday afternoon I went for a long bike ride. Much longer than I guess I should have...and I was breathing really hard and really fast. Five  miles of hills. I was pretty proud to have done it, and all without getting off my bike! 

We went to the awards that evening; and so when we got home from the awards my chest was  hurting. I figured it was heart burn from those spicy meatballs. So I took some tums and went to bed. The night was so awesome that I  literally fell asleep with a smile on my face. 
I was up and down all  night and the pain got worse and worse and started going into my back,  my jaw and down my right arm. I started to panic and freak out I woke Cyndi up and told her what I was feeling. We were  both afraid I was having a heart attack (no matter how unlikely that  was...) I actually knew about pleurisy and kinda thought that might be what was going we headed to the ER. I was so afraid I was going to just be told it was indigestion and sent home and I'd be so embarrassed for wasting everyone's time! (not to mention the cost of an ER visit...I JUST finally got all paid off on my last visit. Dang it!)

When the doctor came in they checked me out, checked on my heart, breathing and tapped around on my tummy. After he did that he looked at me and asked "are you a sex change patient?" 

Um...what?! o.O I was tired, in pain and confused...I have never heard anyone put it that way. My first thought was "no. I'm an androgyn. I don't plan on having sex change operations..." but I just literally didn't know how to answer his question! He must have seen the confusion on my face and asked a follow up question, "Are you genetically male?" 

To which I responded "Oh!" he explained about estrogen having cardiac risk. So...ok. Makes sense...I guess. 

This doctor has treated Cyndi before, and Cyndi was there with me (and he knew Cyndi's trans*. She's open about that.) I was wearing jammies, a tshirt and have been growing out my facial hair. I never bind my breasts...and most certainly don't bind to go to the ER when I'm feeling so crappy! 

We hung out, and watched videos on Cyndi's kindle. They brought in this numbing liquid to see if the pain was indigestion, but it didn't help. 

So they assumed it must be pleurisy and gave me an anti inflammatory shot and that totally worked. My hands have never tingled that bad ever. It was really horrible. We came back home around 4:30am and went back to bed. I slept until noon  and then just relaxed on the couch. 

The doctor didn't explain  pleurisy very I googled it and the first thing I saw was  it's connection to RA and Lupus. Hmmm. So I called my GP's nurse to  tell her about the night's events and she said that my bike ride totally could have caused it...and that people can get it from having  colds where they cough too much, or pneumonia where they cough and  wheeze too much and that it's not just RA and Lupus related. *whew*  She told me I've got to take it easy for the rest of the week and to  be sure to take deep breaths even if it hurts so that I don't get a I'm not sure where this leaves me for Pride parade...we'll see. One  day at a time I guess.

The doctor's question "are you a sex change patient" will be with me for quite a while!! What a way to ask if someone's transgender...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2012 Rainbow awards ~Sevan

Every year Spokane holds the Rainbow awards. They're given out to an LGBT individual, an ally, a group, and the "over the rainbow award". (which I believe is akin to a life time achievement)

First there was a spaghetti dinner and we had so many people from the group show up that we had to steal seats and place settings from other tables. :) It was so wonderful to eat such a yummy dinner with my trans* family.
We moved from the dinner tables to the seating area to see the presentation of the awards. It came as a total surprise that those who were nominated also got certificates saying so! I was nominated for the individual award and especially after seeing who else was nominated I was so honored to be in such company. Here's me walking up to receive my certificate. I decided to go with a mens dress shirt and nice tie, paired with a long flowing skirt. One of my favorite :)

One of my friends was also nominated and got her certificate. Then it was the ally award. After that was the group award presentation. Once again, those who were nominated were really great groups and organizations that do AMAZING work locally. Hearing who was nominated it just stunned me that our little group won.

I went up and gave a speech telling the audience about our group, our achievements this year and how thankful I was (on behalf of the group) to receive such an honor. When I told the audience about how we'd grown from 3 people to 50 people in a matter of a year they all cheered and applauded! It was wonderful. :)

The "Over the Rainbow" award was handed out, and then they also recognized a wonderful volunteer who's really gone above and beyond the call.
After the awards were handed out, we stood around as a group and talked about how amazing it was to be recognized. I asked everyone what we wanted to do with the award. A few of my friends insisted that the award was for Cyndi and I. They recognized the work we do and that the award was for us. I was so touched!!
One of the women from the audience came up and congratulated us on the award. She also told me that she'd recommended *this* blog to her friend! I'm often amazed who reads this, or visits!!
A little while later I got a chance to chat with one of the LGBT therapists who used to lead a trans* support group. Cyndi and I had visited the group once but didn't really connect with the style. Nice people, just not a setting that suited me. Well as we caught up she told me that she didn't do her group anymore, and had been sending people our way. She also said that in all the time she's been coming to the Rainbow trans* person or group had ever been honored. That we were the first. That she was so proud of what we're doing, and she trusts we're doing great. Wow. That was amazing to hear.
We left the awards smiling ear to ear. We took a few of our friends home so they didn't have to ride the bus. Conversation was good and more affirming about the work Cyndi and I do.

I literally fell asleep smiling.

Here's my certificate of recognition.

Here's our certificate of award for the Group. :) They even made sure to include the asterisk! :)

The award itself. So pretty! It's hanging at our house. I'm beyond happy and honored. Yea. Honored. That's the perfect word to describe how I'm feeling.