Raquel Willis

From Wikipedia: 

Raquel Willis is an African American writer, editor, and transgender rights activist. She is a former national organizer for the Transgender Law Center, the former executive editor of Out magazine, and currently serves as the Director of Communications for the Ms. Foundation for Women

Send in the Clowns?

 Recently I wrote a post concerning my opposition to drag queens having too much of an impact of
various Pride celebrations and received this comment from Connie: 

“It would make for a pretty boring parade if the drag queens were replaced by trans women “just wanting to blend in.” Not that one group necessarily shows more pride than the other; just different ways of expressing it. Personally, I much prefer to exhibit my self-pride with a quiet confidence – but, then, I’m not trying to entertain anyone with it. I’m not saying that drag queens are clowns, but I think that they serve the same purpose in a pride parade that the clowns do in a more-traditional parade.
I’m sure that the TV news show file clips of drag queens, when referencing Pride, because it’s sensational. The real life of a trans woman or man is rarely newsworthy or sensational. Although, I must say, just being able to be myself feels quite sensational to me!”

To be sure, drag queens make for good television but again the whole spectacle takes away from my respect for the whole event.  
As far as your comment about transgender women just wanting to blend in goes, I would prefer to see any of the trans women or men who are making a difference in the overall community be spotlighted. Perhaps a few of the big corporations are contributing to the event would be made aware of the problems the transgender community faces. Instead of the brief support  given the LGBT community, it could be more of a yearly process. 

Clowns are fun for a day or two promoting their weekend drag shows but do nothing for the transgender community. 

Transgender Allies

I have written extensively here in Cyrsti’s Condo on my relationship with my long time partner Liz. After all, she was instrumental in kicking me out of the closet and into a feminine world so many years ago. Even though she is a cis-female, she still maintains I am more of a girl than she is. 

So it is no surprise I am very much a supporter of transgender allies. The problem becomes when allies are discussed in many corners of the trans community, it gets bogged down in the minutia of the subject. An example would be a few people would describe a transgender ally as one who simply uses the right pro nouns. 

I believe an true ally supports the trans lifestyle all the way to not backing politicians who vote for anti LGBT legislation. 

I am fortunate in that I have met several other spouses of transgender women and men who completely support their spouses. In fact, I presented my idea to the “powers to be” at Trans-Ohio yesterday about putting together a video presentation on the powers of allies for this years’ Pride month. 

The only opportunities I have to do it are simply getting the go ahead from the people I am thinking of asking. Then having the technological knowledge to make it happen. 

I have until the 18th of June to do it. 

Did Gender Fluidity nearly Kill Me?

 It seems to me the term “gender fluid” has just become popularized by the younger generation of queer women and men everywhere.  My idea was reinforced recently when I attended  a transgender – crossdresser meeting. Several of the participants were 20 to early 30 somethings  Along  the way, they mentioned the idea of being gender fluid.  Or how they wished somedays they could work as a guy and the next as a girl. 

Oldest Known Picture

At the time, I wondered  if being gender would have worked for me, or was I at all? 

Then I realized I tried being gender fluid and it led me to a suicide attempt. I was trying to live part time in my old male life while at the same time attempting to learn to live as a transgender woman. 

Hormone replacement therapy came along and forced my hand. If I was going to choose a gender, it would have to be the higher maintenance feminine one. When I started HRT, it seemed all too quickly I was growing breasts, my skin was softening and my hair was becoming long enough to tie it back into a pony tail.

At the time, I wasn’t planning on the process happening so fast. So, very quickly any thoughts of being gender fluid left my mind. Even though the term itself was probably a decade away from being used at all.

As I proceeded on my journey, it was increasingly evident I was home. I had discovered what deep down I always knew…I was born to be a girl/woman. 

In conclusion,  I wish anyone trying to pursue a gender fluid life the best of luck. It nearly killed me.

Michelle’s Maintenance

 Recently I wrote a post here in Cyrsti’s Condo revolving around the concept women are definitely the high maintenance gender. Being the hard headed person I am, it took me years to learn exactly that. As my wife at the time kept referring to me as the “pretty, pretty princess” in my makeup heels and hose, no amount of feminine presentation could help me to understand exactly what she meant. It wasn’t until years later as I seriously started my Mtf gender transition did I understand.

Let’s check in with Michelle and her feelings on the subject:”I see that you, as well as so many of us have discovered, that being a woman requires many years of life lessons learned while growing up.

Females start very early in life learning so many skills, that men would never even think of, like communication, relationships, mannerisms and dealing with the trials and tribulations of dealing with the female body. It’s one thing to learn how to apply makeup and clothes styles but women don’t really get those lessons till early in their teens. Women start early learning that the somewhat care and feeding of their bodies will follow them throughout life.

Men on the other hand only deal with learning to (as my partner once put it) grunt, fart and learn how to somewhat intimidate the people they come in contact with. For women, life’s lessons are almost harder in the long run then men will ever know.

Women have to learn, starting very early, how to deal with so many aspects of their bodies and minds that can be both scary as well as rewarding. Men on the other side of the coin only have to learn only what puberty brings them. It’s more of a one shot deal for men. Women have to deal with it all their lives. “

Thanks for the comment!

I have always thought cis women have precious little time to design their lives around their bodies. After all. girls go through puberty earlier than boys to face years of having babies and monthly periods before their bodies then go through menopause. Through it all, women face the lack of gender privilege which men take for granted. 

Again, thanks for the very perceptive comment. 


Do you know what a “Terf” is, or what it means?

To put it simply, a Terf is a cis woman who dislikes transgender women  First of all, here’s how the name came to be. It is the abbreviation for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism. Essentially the idea it is impossible for a person assigned a specific gender at birth to transition and occupy the space of another gender. They take it as far as seeing it  as an invasion all over again from the patriarchy and essentially raping women again. 

In their neat conceptual world, men are the predators and women are the prey. To introduce any form of a transgender woman is an attack on feminism everywhere in addition to trans males being a threat to butch lesbians.

I would have to ask Paula for sure but I think Terf’s are more publicized in Great Britain where Paula is from. However, a few years ago I was confronted by gender rejection at a lesbian Valentine’s Dance Liz and I went to here in Cincinnati. You could definitely refer to the person who literally sought me out to harass me as a Terf. 

I was minding my own business waiting for Liz to rejoin me with a few appetizers when this lesbian approached and started to ask me about what my “real” name was. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had my name legally changed yet to produce my driver’s license.  By the time Liz returned, the bitch had disappeared again into the crowd. 

Being the glutton for punishment I was back in those days, I even tried to join Liz’s lesbian meet up group which put on the dance. Naturally I was rejected for being transgender and not a “real” woman. Shortly after that, Liz left the group, 

Since essentially, my feminine upbringing was helped along by cis women lesbians, I know all lesbians aren’t Terf’s. Plus, naively I have always felt the more the better when it comes to any form of human movements. In other words, I don’t understand why cis women Terf’s wouldn’t want transgender women involved in their search for equality in gender rights. After all, we have seen the gender world  from both sides and made our choice to leave our male privileges behind. 

In the meantime, I will forever remember the time I was gender slurred and attacked by a Terf. 

Sweet Caroline

When LGBT+ pioneers are discussed, a number of famous faces probably spring to mind. However, one person you may not immediately think of is Caroline Cossey – also known as Tula – a Bond girl, dancer and top model who took the British government to the European Court of Human Rights in the ’90s in a bid to change discriminatory UK laws.

Life is too Short

 I was shocked recently to learn of the unexpected passing of Jerry Mallicoat. I know most of you have probably never heard of him and up until fairly recently I hadn’t either. 

It wasn’t so long ago though he reached out to me to work on the Elderly Alliance LGBT Board of Greater Dayton, Ohio. He was also instrumental in me receiving the LGBT Veterans award. 

Jerry was happily married to John and they lived together in Dayton.

I was fortunate to have been able to participate in several of Jerry’s seminars on LGBT aging. I was pleasantly surprised how well he was able to explain the differences between transgender seniors in relation to lesbian, gay or even drag queen individuals. Jerry went out of his way to explain why RuPaul was in no way ever a woman. 

This short blip comes from NBC News a year or so ago:

“Jerry Mallicoat, 58,  fought for LGBTQ rights in Ohio his entire adult life. Now, he’s helping LGBTQ elders lead active and fulfilled lives.

Mallicoat co-founded Rainbow Elder Care of Greater Dayton, which provides advocacy, educational resources, support and referral services to the elder lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.”

It seems too little to say but Jerry’s very sudden passing proves life is too short and you should do your best to make a difference like he did. 

Rest in power Jerry, you did a great job in life. 

Say What?

 Somewhere in the past I remember hearing that any publicity is good publicity. Most certainly the idea is not true when it comes to the transgender community. I was going to add the entire LGBT community into the idea but decided not to. After all most of them decide to ignore the trans part of the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities until they suddenly need us for something. In fact, I don’t know how we began to be included in the first place. It probably came from the days when cross dressers and transgender women went to gay bars for “safety.”

Then again, there are the lingering affects of the Jerry Springer type shows which did damage to an already fragile transgender image.

This quote which comes from “The Age” in Australia sums up to a differing degree what trans folks are facing now with the seemingly flood of new transgender stories:

”  We trans people are endlessly spoken about, as though we were children or animals rather than fully-fledged humans expert on our own lives. The ‘trans issue’ is reduced to what cisgender people feel about transness, leaving little room for trans knowledge and experience. This is similar to the centering of white people – at the expense of Indigenous and Black voices – that too often characterizes conversations about race. Again and again, discourse about marginalized communities remains dominated by the instigators of that marginality.

It’s not that cis people can’t be useful trans allies; cis folks can and do use their platforms to advocate for trans rights. This is valuable work. The problem comes when cis voices become a deafening chorus that drown out trans perspectives.”

Ironically, other problems can occur when a transgender person becomes too comfortable and decides to for all intents and purposes goes stealth. Every voice in the chorus is needed to present the trans perspective.

After all, we worked so very hard to arrive at the place we are.