Author Archives: kmvincent

Alexandra Reyes:Coming to America

Alexandra Reyes story is one of a more depressing light. Alexandra Reyes came to the United States (and was found to be an illegal immigrant) to escape the torment and ridicule that was seen by her family and community in Mexico.Living in Mexico, Reyes was born male and first began to identify herself as female at the age of eight. She even goes on to discuss the abuse that she received by her father when she was seen wearing her sisters clothes. We find that for many families, having this subject brought up can be uncomfortable, let alone their child identifying themselves this way. To many people it is an unacceptable way of living and they simply will not tolerate it. This seemed to be the problem for Reyes because she tried telling the police about the abuse she was receiving at home and they refused to help her.

Her escape: coming to the United States in search of a new life. With the immigration her came her problem; a friend refused to pay her cab fair. When she could not pay, the cab company went to the police and reported it. She then went back to try and pay for it, but it was too late because she was then caught for illegal immigration. She was granted asylum in the United States as being seen as a refugee and having received unfair treatment and abuse from her home.

These cases of being granted asylum are not seen very often so for Reyes to get it, can be seen as a positive step forward for those who are transgender and wanting to immigrate here. Mexico, being along the boarder of the United States, makes it easier to travel here, but being granted citizenship can become quite difficult especially not being able to provide identification that matches, as in amny cases for gender variant individuals.This has become a problem for those who are simply looking to travel because they will often face scrutiny, or not even have the privilege of being able to travel.

Gender variant individuals find that they have yet to receive many of the rights those who are not gender variant have. They must overcome many obstacles that most people would not even expect to have to do such as getting granted a visa after applying often many times, trying to get a new means of identification, and working to get a passport that allows a person to travel all over the world with the identity they prefer and not the one they were assigned to at birth. Alexandra Reyes is only one of the many that are looking to leave their unstable and unacceptable lives. She has proven, that though the possibility is slim, it can happen.

Alexandra Reyes Article

Transgender Brawl

Transgender Brawl Video

Throughout history and most recently, America has experienced an increasingly high number of hate crimes. The victims often include those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. In a recent story, a transgender woman experienced some hatred while doing a simple daily activity of shopping. The United States has become famous for he biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday. On this day we find that millions of people wait outside of stores until they open at the earliest hours of the morning pushing and shoving to be at the front of the line in order to receive or take part in the best deals they can get.

A woman who was previously a man but underwent the transformation process and identifies as transgender, experienced something that shows unjust behavior by representative of the United States. In Jackson, Tennessee a transgender woman and her mother got into a verbal fight with some of the other shoppers at Khols Department store. The woman was attacked and lost three teeth and found that the oral damage is worth nearly $8,000. When the police arrived, they first saw a woman and then asked for identification and spoke to her finding that she was transgender. When they found this, she claims that they were not treating her as fairly and were making it difficult for her to be able to press charges. The police officials were not the only ones who were treating her unfairly. There were also problems with the employees at Khols whom were rude and trying to decide whether to call her he, she, or it. Since there was lack of evidence, the police closed the case and dropped any charges that may have been filed even though this woman was left bloody and three teeth short.

She says that the police have since treated her better but having injustice at the beginning shows that the police and staff were not very accepting of the customer’s difference and that the case was not closed because of her gender but for merely lack of evidence. It becomes fully aware to the public that hate crimes are increasingly problematic, yet no one does anything about it. People need to learn to be accepting of other and realize that not everyone is the same, which is a good thing. Transgender people often find themselves dealing with a great deal of discrimination because of who they are. They may not have the proper means of identification to prove themselves which makes it harder for people to understand where they are coming from. Though this woman was not killed, she was still injured and we need to remember her story and the stories of those who were tortured and murdered on account of who they are and how they go about living their lives.

New Life, New Voice

When a person is going through the gender reassignment process, they must undergo many changes. Some of these changes include reassignment surgery, facial reconstruction, and taking hormones to increase the process and help create the wanted gender. A recent article from the Canadian Press discussed how one of the important things that is often left out from the process is undergoing a voice change. A person’s voice is something that identifies them. It makes them a part of humanity and enables people to know who they are. This article discusses how a gender variant individual, who had already spent a mass amount of money on surgery was still thought of as a man because of her voice when answering the phone. This displeased her so she decided to do something about it.

A voice is something that seals the deal on who someone is, yet it is something that is hard to change. This woman, Nicole Hatch went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro “took eight classes that were used to reassign her voice.” According to Nicole, her voice sounds nearly 50% closer to being like that of a woman. I found this to be quite interesting because even after this semester, I never thought of a voice not changing when hormones were taken or the reassignment surgery took place.

The  University teaches about eight transgender people each semester, which to me is a great step in moving forward with acceptance of those whom are different. They learned how men and women vary in their communication and body language. Women tend to use their hands and facial expressions more so than men and women use a sense of detail and adjectives when describing something or the location of something.

This article not only discussed the speech treatment, but also discussed how even though there are some transgender people who receive gender reassignment surgery, not all do. A person who is transgender has to make the decision in which they want to completely change their body to be the way they want it, including if they can afford it, or if they want to stay the same and just live the life they want to live. Either way, it is up to the individual to make that decision.

For a University to have such a program, I think is quite encouraging. It allows members whom identify as transgender to have a sense of self worth in knowing that people care and truly want to help them. I believe that everyone should get a chance to receive the same treatment as everyone else and this proves that it is true. It becomes increasingly difficult for transgender people to live the life they want because of citizenship rights and liberties, and if they eventually want to have gender reassignment surgery, they are required to pay ghastly amounts of money, many of which do not have. I like the idea of a speech programs because it helps people fully understand and experience the life that they have always wanted.

Transgender Voice Help

Politics of Location

One of the greatest problems in this world is ignorance, which can be defined as being uninformed of a matter. This occurs all the time, especially in the United States. People are not able to accept the fact that there are others whom are different from them. That is what makes this world such an interesting place; diversity. When people hear things or ideas that make them feel uncomfortable, they will then ignore and avoid it because it brings no interest to them. This aspect of life relates to the thoughts of politics of location. The location of a place can make a huge difference in the education and knowledge a person can receive because of vaulable resources and influence.

Transgender is often a difficult topic to discuss especially for those whom are judgmental and are unwilling to understand what the term actually is. I grew up in a fairly conservative city in Indiana where subjects such as transsexuality were merely ignored or not even thought of. With this in mind, college became increasingly important in my life because I was given a chance to better understand different things. I was unable to receive the education on this topic, making me slightly judgmental and very sheltered.

Indiana University, located in Bloomington, Indiana, has a reputation of being more accepting to the diversity and social issues that this country faces. Without the influence of the University’s tolerance policies, IU would not be able to teach some of the classes offered in the curriculum.With the amount of acceptance and tolerance IU has for diversity, individuals who identify themselves as transgender are able to receive the same college experience as everyone else. Indiana University does not believe in the tolerance of hate crimes, which gives gender variant individuals the chance to live their lives as who they want to be without anyone telling them they are wrong because they are protected.

I think it would be increasingly difficult to attend a school where there are strict regulations on who people should be, how their live their lives, and the curriculum that is taught. At this school our capacity for learning about those whom are different than us, is quite high. No matter what the diversity group is, IU is likely to have it. The geographical location of Bloomington, Indiana itself is different than IU. IF there was not a somewhat liberal university here, Bloomington would probably not offer the available resources and education a person would need to learn about gender variance and the effects it has on those whom identify. Bloomington is located in Southern Indiana, a place that has a conservative reputation and has had some problems in the past that have shown discrimination. These forces make Bloomington almost split because it is in the southern area of a mostly conservative state that has a liberal university.

Location makes or breaks everything, meaning that it defines the people who live there and the beliefs that they have. Indiana University is a culturally rich place where people can learn more about each other including those whom are gender variant and the gender variant who live all across the world, however Bloomington would most likely not be this way if the university was not here.

 

Paper Dolls

There have been many beneficial films about gender variant individuals. They have been increasingly depressing because of the many obstacles that each individual faces and tried to overcome. We have learned about gender rights and equality and yet there is still quite the amount of speculation that makes it difficult for people who identify as transgender to receive the same rights. In the film Paper Dolls directed by Tomer Heymann in 2005 we see the struggles that Filipino gender variant individuals face on a daily basis. This film which is set in a documentary style format includes the individuals ways of life such as their jobs, their responsibilities, and their performances as Paper Dolls.

Of the many films we have viewed, I consider this one to have the greatest impact on my thoughts of gender variant people. That is the key thing when discussing a sometimes uncomfortable subject; they are people, people with the same worth as everyone else but having to overcome some hardships of being born with the wrong identity. We first observe that this film takes place in Israel, what I had thought to be a very conservative and Jewish place. We do see some of the religious aspects come about when the films “stars” are at work. They do not have the typical job that most of us would think of when living in Israel. Many of them are caretakers and watch over and care for the elderly or those who cannot take care of themselves. I found this to be an interesting aspect of the film because the men that they take care of have different view of what they think of the gender variant individuals.

Some of the people that were filmed in this were Cheska, Chiqui, Jan, Sally, and Giorgio. They all had their own stories of why they moved to Israel, who they were taking care of, or the other jobs that they were involved in, including Giorgio’s hair salon. We find that these are the ordinary individuals that we learn to talk to and trust and that they each have their own dreams. One of the most significant parts of this film is their dance routine and group, the Paper Dolls. They perform for many people including Tomer, the film’s creator. He becomes increasingly interested with them and follows them throughout their daily lives and even gets some of his friends involved in watching them perform even though they were quite skeptical at the beginning.

The film not only focuses on their performances and hwo they got asked to perform and a highly sought after night club, but it observes their struggles with a personal and memorable point of view. In the end of the film, it is heartbreaking to find that many of them have to go back to the Philippines because of their lack of visa to stay there. In their home country, they are not treated the same or with some of the equalities that they are given in Israel.

We were given a chance to see and feel each gender variant individual’s story. They were all different with empowering personalities and loving hearts. Overall I think this was a touching film about the struggles a gender variant person faces each day and how there are some people who are willing to understand their lives and their predicaments. It is something everyone should get the chance to watch because it truly proves how everyone has worth even if they are considered to be different.

Transgender Immigration…Why so difficult?

Immigration

The transgender community faces more difficulty in this world than ever imagined. A person has to work twice as hard to not only go from place to place, but prove who they are constantly. I found this article interesting because transgender people are face many problems when they are traveling or are wanting to move to a new place. In my Human Sexuality class, we had a trans woman come speak to us. She talked about her previous life of being male and how she traveled all over the world but now it was increasingly difficult because of her knew identity.

Traveling and always having to go through struggles of proving identity through birth certificates, passports, and identification cards could get exhausting. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has somewhat prepared to allow transgender people to become citizens by obtaining a “green card” or naturalization document, sometimes requiring for the individual to have had sex reassignment surgery. This is not the only way of documentation however. The government is taking into consideration marriages that include a transgender as long as the marriage was legal at a specified time and date. The transgender individual would then be able to obtain citizenship by a marriage-based green card (Immigration Equality).

The government should not be held accountable for anything. The officials often go back on what they say even if it is written among documents. By this I am agreeing with the article that “officials continue to misapply the law.”  This article and company are good for any trans individual that is trying to find their rights and protections among the United States policies. One thing that is important to note is that a person whom is feeling another country because of discrimination purposes is eligible to be considered a refugee and live in the United States in the theory of asylum where they are protected with different and specific rights (Immigration Equality).

For any person that is trying to find a balanced lifestyle and escape to a place that they hope is beneficial for them, the U.S. is beginning to transition into the difficult topics that need to be discussed. I was not very informed on the Trans Immigration policy of this country, but I am now interested to see how everything works out for these people. Again, I could not imagine the difficulties one would face in having to explain their identity on a daily basis and let others understand that they are who they are and documentation is often hard to prove that.

“Immigration Equality – 1.3 Issues – Transgender Issues.” Gay Immigration – Official Immigration Equality Site – Formerly Lesbian Gay Immigration Rights Task Force LGIRTF. Web. 15 Oct. 2010. <http://www.immigrationequality.org/template.php?pageid=4&gt;

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue, Don’t Harass”

\”Don\’t Ask, Don\’t Tell\” But Why?

There have been many news segments lately that pertain to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” phenomenon that says military officials cannot ask a person about their sexual orientation, but if the member of the organization does anything that shows their orientation, they could get discharged our face other consequences. This topic came up in an article about a transgender woman, who lived a struggling closeted life in the military. It would be hard for a transgender to live an everyday life in our society, but being in the military would be even more of a burden.

According to the article, harassment is a huge issue among military members. This does not necessarily mean all harassment is about different sexual orientations or behaviors, but about race and gender as well. This is difficult for me to understand because I have always thought of the military as being a place where people become equal. They are all taught to stand a certain way, walk a certain way, speak at the same time, and wear the same uniform. I considered the military to be about discipline and uniformity, not about the societal pressures and expectations that people experience daily. My brother was in the military and though he is a straight white male himself and never experienced harassment, his African American friend did (Sandeen).

We as Americans like to think of ourselves and good and accepting people, but in reality we could care less especially when someone is different than us. These thoughts develop awkward and unnecessary problems. For example, the article explains that Autumn Sandeen, the author and character described was accused of being a gay male that sexually harassed other males, but was actually the one being sexually harassed about it, also claiming that he divorced his wife so he could be gay. This in my opinion makes no sense. There are often too many people who make rational judgments that could not be farther from the truth.  This male was simply born to be a female, but because of gender issues, continued living an uncomfortable life as a male (Sandeen).

Luckily for the her, she had been a sexual harassment instructor before and was able to take the case up with higher officials. I am sad to say that this barely did anything for her, the two people who did the harassing only received a verbal punishment and/or a documentation. This article states that the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy affects more than just gay men, it affects the entire transgender community as well.

This policy makes the American government very uncomfortable. They in some ways want equal opportunity for others, but in the case so they look like they are good people who believe in equal rights. I do not like how there are so many close minded people who take their own lives for granted and do not experience the struggles many others face because they are not accepted in society but cannot conform either. I hope some day people who are different will be seen as special instead of looked down upon.