Sunday, October 14, 2012

TDoR planning ~Sevan

This year is the first year that my support group is heading a “Transgender Day of Remembrance” (TDoR) event.  We’re working hard to make it a community involved event. We've come such a long way in such a short amount of time. Just a year and a half ago we didn't know anyone in town and had no connections to the LGBTQ community. We started our support group and have worked hard to be a presence and a part of the larger community. I tried to get the group to create a TDoR event last year but since we’re somewhat democratic, the group didn't really want to create one. I was upset at the time because I feel it’s our duty to remember those that we've lost, and lead the way in such an event. Looking back however; I’m really glad that we didn't plan an event last year. We didn't have any connections with anyone, and didn't have a large enough group (or funds) to create a successful, well attended event.

This year we've been planning and thinking since PRIDE back in June. Not “officially” but really thinking about it critically and working toward it. Yesterday was our first planning meeting and while I wish we didn't have to plan any such event…I’m excited for the opportunity to step up and create something that will bring awareness and education. We've gotten some great support from local organizations and I’m so happy that they want to help create this event, and work with us to make it successful.
We will have some speaking, a reading of names of those we've lost and then some educational games. We’re planning to have food and drinks and hopefully people will mix and meet each other. There’s often so much segregation between schools, different organizations, different orientations and genders…and I really seek to bridge that. I believe this event can work toward that goal. At least help us take one step. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Gender variant acceptance ~Sevan

As an androgyn/gender variant/non-binary type person; I’m used to having people “not believe” in my identity. What I am often shocked by, is when I hear people’s identity come into question even in trans* spaces. I’m shocked to hear someone else; who has been fighting for recognition of their own identity turn around and do the same thing to someone else.

I thought that gender identity was in our minds? That’s what I teach at my presentations and that’s what I talk about here.

I have had people tell me that they accept gender variant identities…but clearly I’m male, and should come out as such. I've had people tell me that they accept my gender variant identity….but that other person over there…not so much.

I think the whole thing comes down to perception, and expression.

I can’t speak for other gender variant folks (though I’d REALLY love to hear from them on this topic!!!) but for me; expression of my gender is a funny thing. It’s HARD! It takes far too much work and forethought. Since there is no “gender variant” section in the clothing store…I have to make it up as I go along. I can’t ever take for granted that my presentation and my intention will be read correctly or as I meant for it to come across.

If I dress in men’s clothes without binding, it doesn't usually read as “gender variant” it reads as “dyke”. If I dress in men’s clothes and bind…I may be read as cis-male. (this never ever happens. I usually still get read as “dyke” but it’s within the realm of possibility…)

If I dress in woman’s clothes then I’m read as cis-female. (even though such attire is sometimes just as uncomfortable and unfitting of my gender identity as male clothes)

You see!? I can’t win!!! How can I possibly dress in a way that would express to you, the general public…that I’m androgyn? When I dress in skirts and men’s shirts with a nice tie I’m viewed as just…somewhat strange. It still doesn't read as what I’m going for.

As such… I've given up trying to be “read correctly” because this identity…it isn't about you. It’s all about me. Being comfortable with myself, being my best self, being comfortable in MY skin.
On the flip side of that…personally I don’t want to be a “gender warrior” every. Single. Day. Of my life. It’s exhausting. It’s tiring. I can’t do it. I just can’t. I commend those who are able, those amazing people. So you may come across me on a day where I’m wearing one of my other passions on my sleeve. Love, Equality, Bi rights, HIV advocacy…when my gender is on the front; I often can’t talk about anything else. Just like the rest of you; I AM more than my gender.

Sometimes going out to a restaurant or new space with new people I’m not familiar with; I dress “female” because I may not want to come out via my dress and attire. It might not be safe, it might not be appropriate. (ie: Work. Mainly.) Most often; it’s not understood without me explaining.

I have searched myself, gone through hours and hours of therapy, I have TRIED to fit within the binary. Don’t you think it would be easier for me to do so? I sure do!! I've tried. Believe me I've tried. I've thought ever awful thing possible about my own identity. Then I came to terms with myself, and did what I needed to do to express myself, feel comfortable within myself and present to the world as much “me” as I can.
This was not an identity I came to lightly. Transition; especially at a time when gender variant transition wasn't even written about…was not easy. My gender identity is no more about clothes and style than any other. That’s only what you can see. There’s FAR more to me than what’s on my skin, or how I interact with people, or what my energy might express.

Since I can’t wear my entire wardrobe every day; you’re not seeing the whole of my self expression on any given day. Same goes for any other gender variant person. Step back and look at everything you know about the person. Then; take them at their word. We do the same for the rest of our community. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Why we use the asterisk ~Sevan

So, if transgender is an "umbrella term"...what's the need for "trans*"? 

Simply put; there shouldn't be a need for it. However; there is. Transgender is often shortened to trans and can be interpreted as trans-male or trans-female, and many gender variant/non-cis identified people feel left out or unsure if their identity is included and being thought about. 

When I see a blog post, article or other written materials that don’t have the asterisk I wonder if they are including me and those like me. If I see a support group, brochure about transgender identities or an advertisement about a presentation that doesn’t use the asterisk I wonder if I’m welcome in that space.

My understanding is that the asterisk came from internet search structure. When you add an asterisk to the end of a search term, you’re telling your computer to search for whatever you typed, plus any characters after. Such as: trans*-gender, -queer, -sexual, etc. No idea if that’s the truth of the matter…but that’s the general “mythos” behind where the asterisk came from.

So if you, or your organizations is trying to be open and accessible by all trans* people; make sure to use the asterisk to verify to all people that you have taken the time, and intention to invite and welcome all trans* people.

Even within my local trans* support group; our name has “trans*” in it; Spokane Trans* People. All of our educational materials and presentations have trans* in it. We are committed to being open to all in the umbrella. 

Sam over at posted about this, and created this awesome graphic.  Click it to see his take on it.