Author Archives: linkent

GLBT rights!

Hey guys!

Ran across this and thought it was something quite important to share!

www.freedomtomarry.org

Lindsey K

Politics of MY location

I was born into a family of two individuals that grew up in the same area they decided to raise their family, just as their parents before them and theirs before them. I attended an extremely small school (k-12 in one building) located in an incredibly tiny town where right-wing politics dominated our education. I attended daycare with the kids that I would grow up to identify as “my crowd”, the popular ones (I know how that sounds, please refrain from rolling your eyes!) that were the offspring of the same crown 20-30 years prior. Our parents all knew each other, and we were being set to follow in their foot steps; Future homecoming queens and basketball stars in the making.  Thankfully I refused to be a blind sheep led with the rest of the flock.

I’m not sure how I turned out to be different from the rest. It wasn’t an intentional thing. I guess, I’ve always had a set of ideals different  from those in my home town. I remember in sixth grade doing a report on homosexuality in America, and being particularly pleased with myself when I finished reading it to my class, only to be met with gaping eyes and a few jaws dropped. The information was not made readily available for me to research by teachers, so I had to go to Indiana University with my mom one day and pull what information I could. Looking back on it, I’m quite proud that I did not allow the politics of my location to stop me from expressing myself and my thoughts.

As I got older I became more comfortable with being the “different” one. I was still considered popular, if you will. I still fulfilled the role of being an athlete, a good student, popular with teachers etc. It makes me laugh now that I think of it because I look back and see myself just pleasing everyone else.

In my teenage years it became very apparent to me that not too far from my reach was not just a different location, but a different world. Had I grown up on the other side of the street I would have attended Monroe County schools. I would have interacted with children that were Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, instead of the predominately Caucasian Methodist kids I became to know as my friends. I couldn’t wait to get to Indiana University…

And then I did. And I freaked. For the first time I was outside of my bubble and it was indeed a different life. I wasn’t “different” anymore, I was simply naive. School was overwhelming. The politics  were different. The life was different. Kids my age had experienced far more than I had, and looking back I wondered how I was kept from what the rest of the world seemed to be experiencing.

I took it in stride and am now proud to be a Bloomingtonian. I’ve lived here (albeit 20 minutes from home) for five years now and I feel as if I could live in another state than where I am from. I am proud to attend and work for a University that gives voice to a powerful youth. I’m proud to attend a University that gives us knowledge that I could have never have hoped to reach had I stayed in my little bubble of Solsberry, Indiana. I am happy that I can eat Thai, Indian, or Turkish food on any given night. I proud that I had the opportunity to embrace His Holiness, the Dalai Lama just a few short months ago. Location is everything, I’m living proof. Even if I had attended IU and then went “back home” as many of my classmates did. I’d be on kid #2 and sitting at Rosie’s diner on Saturday mornings talking about Mr. XYZ’s Christmas lights. I’m so happy that wasn’t the choice I made.

Another significant difference in my life was that of my relationship. My boyfriend was born in South Africa and his family moved here when he was three years old. His parents spend half of their time here and the rest of the year there. I’ve never had my eyes opened to so much world politics and knowledge before I had met them. It seems as though those outside of the United States are far more aware of what is going on in the world than Americans. Through their knowledge, I have learned so much of the world, and myself.

The politics of my location aren’t just my location. They are the politics of my sex, my race, my gender, my relationships, and my education. I’m proud to say I’ve come a long way– but I’ve still got quite a bit to go, and hopefully I will always be on the journey to improve.

The Transpeople of Africa

My significant other is South African, and so anything in the news regarding the country usually catches my eye. I was pleasantly surprised to happen upon the following article reviewing a newly released DVD:

http://ilga.org/ilga/en/article/mIPIA581Zx

Africa is a huge continent made of incredibly diverse people. In no way could one transperson’s story be assumed to be the same as another. The new DVD Exquisite Gender does try to show the diversity and beauty in the transgender identity of Africans.

The film showcases several trans people as well as those who identify as intersexed who tell their stories and a particular topic or emotion that was important to them regarding transition. These individuals vary in idealism, location, and identity. Transgenderism is a new topic in Africa and has been met with hesitation and resistance. It has been seen that some parts of “Africa are finding it difficult to understand the dynamic of transgenderism.” as the article states.

One of the participants is a trans man from South Africa who discusses the legal freedom vs. actual social freedom of the GLBTI community in the country. It struck me that homosexuals have the right to legally marry (a right, that we in the United States still lack– unbelievably) and yet there is such a hesitation to live freely within the GLBTI community because of the inevitable social repercussions of displaying that lifestyle.

The article also discusses how many trans Africans refer to themselves. It mentioned that transgender is a new term for self identification.

I have not seen this film but I am very eager to. It appears that it is not easily attainable, maybe only through the e-mail address at the bottom of the article. Either way it would be a wonderful way to see into the lives of the trans people of Africa.

Transpeople to receive new diplomas in the Netherlands

http://ilga.org/ilga/en/article/mJs6zZZ1v2

College is a lot of work, right? So imagine that you’ve finally got that slip of paper with the oh -so desired Indiana University seal to sanctify the finalization of your academic career and it has the wrong name on it. Wouldn’t you be offended, irritated, even unarguably frustrated? What if the name displayed on the diploma was one that once belonged to you, but no longer does? What’s  in a name? Well, for some perhaps not much, but to others, it means everything. Our names are part of our identity.

Imagine the disgust Justus Eisfeld felt when his request to receive a diploma with his new name, reflecting his new gender, was denied by Universiteit van Amersterdam in 2004; the year that Eisfelt transitioned and legally changed his name and gender. He has fought for the past six years to obtain a new diploma from University and the decision was finally made to grant him one this past January.

Some may say, “Why even bother wasting six years on a piece of paper with a name that used to belong to you? After all, you are still you.” Sure that could be the argument made for some women who eventually marry and take their husbands’ last name or even hyphenated, but not in this situation. This is acknowledging the rights of a transperson. Would it be believable to walk into a male doctor’s office and see a diploma awarded to Ms. Sally Jane Doe? I will admit that I would feel confused and wonder if this person is actually qualified to treat my symptoms because Dr. Jacob Doe may really just be Sally’s brother. This may be an incredibly biased and unfair statement, but it is candid none the less.

Because trans people already face an incredible amount of discrimination in the workplace, it can be furthered by having credentials under a previous name that does not match one’s current gender. Justus was quoted in the article stating that “hopefully the illegality of trans discrimination in all EU member states will receive more attention. Knowledge is a first step towards a change of practice.”

I attempted to research this topic within the United States but could not find any information regarding our institutions and their policies.

From now on all trans people in the Netherlands will be granted new diplomas (if desired) with their new names on them. I know that if I had to go through all of the hard work to obtain a degree that I would certainly want it to display the correct name.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

We sat in class last week discussing the topic of Transgender Day of remembrance and what it meant to us and hypothesized how we could create an event to sanctify the day. Pouring over articles I became so touched tears came to my eyes. I could feel my face getting hot and my cheeks flushed. I almost became ashamed of the privilege I own as a heterosexual caucasian female living in the western world.

Since I work in the Indiana Memorial Union, I walk through Dunn Meadow each morning to reach my office. I remember that morning last fall walking in to work, seeing one little white sign, then another, and another. At first I thought it was a student group advertising a call out meeting or some sort of entertainment. I stopped and stared and read the words. It was a person’s name. Every single one had a person’s name, and a date of death. I still can’t explain how I felt. I must have stood for five minutes in silence, just looking at the sheer amount of them around the meadow. I can remember thinking “this is NOT ok”. In a lot of ways, I feel that memorials such as those signs reach out to far more people than a speaking engagement could. I was astounded and happy and sad all at the same time. These signs couldn’t be ignored. Sure, you could step around them if you like, but they were still there, sitting silently and patiently waiting for your attention.

I happened up on two articles about Transgender Day of Remembrance that I would like to share. The first I can identify with significantly. The second offers another perspective of violence against transgenders that needs to be acknowledged.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-meg-riley/gratitude-for-transgender_b_784048.html

I found this specific paragraph in the article so true and moving.

First and foremost, transgender people model embodied courage to me. Their very bodies carry their commitment to themselves, to their own truth, costs be damned. They can’t board a plane, fill out most forms or go to the bathroom without diminishing their complexity. Still, in the face of all of that diminishment, they own their complexity daily. They hold their heads up and walk with dignity on a path which only their feet create — no one in the world has made it for them. So, for their courage and for how that encourages me in its turn to be my whole and complex self, I am profoundly grateful.

I feel the exact same way. I am humbled by trans people’s boldness, bravery, and self-identity. And I will choose to honor them on Saturday in any way that I can.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is a day to reflect on those who have died at the hands of violence or negligence. I was absolutely taken aback reading an article in class about a transman who died of ovarian cancer because he could not find a doctor that would agree to treat him. How is this possible? How does this happen? In the second article posted below, is a discussion of self-violence among the transgender community. Not as often highlighted as violence in the form of rape and murder, it is still a problem that deserves attention.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pete-subkoviak/remembering-the-selfviole_b_784447.html

I consider myself privileged to have taken this class. It has changed the way I view the world and for that I am so thankful.

Transgender Candidate Wins Judicial Race in California

http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/11/16/Transgender_Candidate_Wins_Judicial_Race/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/16/victoria-kolakowski-first-transgender-trial-judge-us_n_784490.html

http://kolakowskiforjudge.com/sbcc/personalinfo.php?page=biography&seq=4

Victoria Kolakowski has a lot to be happy about right now. She won a seat in California’s Superior Court on November 2nd by just a few thousand votes. She narrowly took the election by 51%. Thought many that voted against her, did so primarily because of her trans-gendered nature, those who backed her did so because of her professional capabilities.

Victoria was born in 1961 in Queens New York. She transitioned from male to female in 1991 and met her wife, Cynthia Laird, in 1994. They became legally married on June 16th, 2008, the first day of legal same-sex marriage in California. Not only is Ms. Kolakowski active within the Trans community but she also avidly works for gay rights to marriage and domestic partnership benefits.

Ms. Kolakowski has maintained the position of Administrative Law Judge for the past few years which is covered by the legislation branch of Government, not judicial. So she is the first openly transgender US judge in American history.  Ms. Kolakowski is also very active in the Transgender Community in California. She is on the Transgender  Law Center’s Board of Directors.

Thomas Beatie, America’s “Pregnant Man”

Thomas Beatie

As Americans, most of us are probably familiar with Thomas Beatie, the 29-year-old that has transitioned from  female to male, who also just happens to have children; that he birthed, not his wife.

America was taken by storm with news of this couple in 2008. It seemed everyone had an opinion, whether it be “Good for them!” or “You’re going to hell!”; regardless the “pregnant man” was in the news everywhere. When this topic came out, I was disturbed by how stigmatized Thomas and his wife were as some sort of sideshow freak act. They were a young couple, in love, creating and raising a family, what was so odd about that? But America loves the “weird” and “unknown” and pushed this couple into the limelight to show them off in the media pawning them as freaks of nature. Below is the article of the birth story of their first daughter, born June 29th 2008.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=5302756&page=1

The second article below is with Barbara Walters four months after the birth of their daughter when the Beaties have found that they are expecting a second child.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=6244878&page=1

Thomas was born female, as Tracy, and transitioned to female officially at 22 when he had a double mastectomy. He opted out of a  phalloplasty, leaving his female sex organs intact because he said he didn’t deem it necessary to be a man. This allowed him to legally transform to Thomas, although the process was not easy. He was required to go through psychological evaluation as well as prove that he did indeed have sexual reassignment surgery.

Once legally identified as male, he married his wife Nancy and they decided to start a family together. After being denied by 9 different doctors for help they took insemination into their own hands, as it states in the article. Nancy inseminated Thomas with donor sperm purchased over the internet and some time later they had a positive pregnancy test.

Later in their story and after the birth of their daughter, they still have struggles. Constant hate mail and death threats great them in the mail every day and they have to be very conscious of their surroundings when they are out in public.

There was even an issue with their daughter’s birth certificate. They Beatie’s wished to have Nancy listed as the mother and Thomas the father, but state law prohibited it arguing that the individual that gave birth to the child must be listed as the mother. The Beaties complained and had the decision overturned.

In the end however, the Beaties describe themselves as a normal heterosexual couple. Thomas considers himself Susan’s father and Nancy her mother. Nancy even nurses their daughter with her own breast milk. Somehow  America cannot wrap their minds around this possibility.

I applaud the Beaties for coming into the limelight and making America think twice about what it means to be and CREATE a family. I applaud them for risking their privacy and lives for awareness and equality for all. I certainly hope that they did it for the right reasons and not simply for the fame. I know that they must be inspiration to others around the world. And maybe with being the first, they will encourage others gain the courage to follow suit.