Author Archives: melissajorgensen

Politics of Location

It’s proven that non heterosexual youths will be punished more frequently than heterosexuals.

Acceptance makes all the difference

And go figure, family acceptance is proven to improve mental health! Whoa, there’s a noooo brainer.

Here’s the full story from: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/12/06/lgbt.teens.punishment.problems/index.html

CNN) — Zac Brokenrope got called into the school office almost every day as a freshman in high school. His offense, he was told, was “acting gay.”

“I would literally lay awake at night in bed, just (dreading) to go the next morning, wondering what I was going to get in trouble for that day, wondering if someone was going to say something on my behalf,” said Brokenrope, now a junior at Boston University.

He says his parents felt embarrassed by him, and wouldn’t permit him to start a gay-straight alliance group at the school. Brokenrope felt so alone, he contemplated suicide.

Brokenrope’s experiences growing up in Nebraska resonate with two studies published Monday that present unprecedented insight into the challenges that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth face.

Family acceptance of LGBT youth predicts positive outcomes in mental health, self esteem, and overall health status, finds a study in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing. And nonheterosexual young people are more likely to receive punishments in a school or criminal justice setting, says a study in Pediatrics.

Based on interviews with self-identified LGBT young adults, researchers found that family acceptance seems to protect against suicidal thoughts and behaviors, as well as depression and substance abuse. The study comes from the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University, which aims to increase support among families with LGBT children.

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Gender ID disorder:mind-body disconnect //

// “Imagine trying to put up a persona during the day, so you’re not bullied by your peers,” said Russell Hyken, teen psychologist and educational consultant in Saint Louis, Missouri. “To be able to come home and be who you are has got to make all the difference in the world to these kids.”

But kids like Brokenrope (watch him speak at BU) and Katie Christie, a student at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, didn’t have that luxury. Christie, 22, who also struggled with an eating disorder, hid her sexuality from her parents until earlier this year.

“They told me that I’m not going to heaven anymore,” said Christie, vice president of her school’s gay-straight alliance. “We’re trying to get to a point where we can respect each other.”

Still, Christie feels a lot better now that her family knows, after having hidden from everyone for so long. Merely changing her “interested in” status on Facebook to “women” was “just so liberating,” she said.

In the Pediatrics study, looking at students in grades 7 through 12, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth were up to three times more likely to have experienced school expulsions, police stops, juvenile arrests and adult convictions than heterosexual teens. And that’s not because the first group had more transgressions, said lead study author Kathryn Himmelstein. This seems to be especially true for girls. In fact, lesbian, gay and bisexual youth engaged in less violent behavior than their peers.

The study did not, however, directly compare offenses with punishments. In other words, there’s no way to know whether a heterosexual teen got a lighter punishment for any specific transgression than a lesbian, gay or bisexual teen.

It also did not look at the question of why. One speculation is that authorities are less likely to take into account mitigating factors when determining punishments for LGBT youth — for instance, they could have been acting in self-defense, or other circumstances may have made the transgression less clear, Himmelstein said.

Institutions should look at whether this is disparity happening, if it’s intentional, and what steps could be done to address it, so that all youth are treated fairly, she said.

Brokenrope’s punishment for being gay was largely fear. The principal at his public school in Nebraska told Brokenrope he could be expelled for talking about his sexuality, and he was warned about his behavior — that is, just being himself — each time he was called in to the office.

Christie also bad experiences in high school: An ex-girlfriend told her band director that Christie was a lesbian, and the band director “told me how my sexual behavior wasn’t going to be allowed his band anymore,” Christie said.

“It’s not just about these kids having issues at schools that lead to them getting in trouble and being punished, it’s also about the environment these schools are creating, and the ability of all students to feel included and welcome,” said Sarah Belton, an attorney and fellow of the nonprofit Equal Justice Works.

Belton knows of one case where a parent came on to the school’s campus and made derogatory comments to an LGBT youth while administrators stood by.

Finding a group where you feel like you can be who you are is critical for LGBT teenagers, Hyken said.

Brokenrope’s informal network of LGBT friends in Nebraska helped him get through high school. Before there were internet forums and Facebook groups dedicated to this kind of support, he would call or text friends of friends of friends who were in similar positions. He still doesn’t know the real name of a kid in Omaha who spoke with him on the phone twice a week.

Today, there are numerous resources throughout the country such as the Trevor Project that provide support, in addition to the Gay-Straight Alliance Network and numerous groups at colleges and universities.

Teachers should get more education in the kinds of issues that LGBT youth might be facing, Christie said. They are often struggling with their identity and their fear of rejection from family, friends, and community groups. They may be questioning their sexual orientation, and not have anyone to talk to about it.

Brokenrope stresses to anyone who is having problems in adolescence to do whatever it takes to survive.

Today, Brokenrope is happy to be alive. His parents still aren’t comfortable talking about his orientation, but have learned that it is part of his lifestyle, and things have gotten better with his relationship to them. He also credits college life in Boston for saving him. He especially enjoys being introduced to people as “this is Zac” instead of “this is Zac, he’s gay,” as he was in high school.

Brokenrope is also glad that LGBT mental health issues have achieved national attention and support.

“When I was growing up, I knew gay kids who had killed themselves. And it was really weird because now, everyone cares. There are all of these videos about it,” he said. “But when I was in high school, it was another dead kid in rural Nebraska.”

So, here you have it. If the school systems and families treat LGBT kids with acceptance, then come ‘on, duh. They’ll feel normal.

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Divas!

This would be a fun show to go to! Is there anything like this in Bloomington? It’s so mind-boggling that these trans men are acting like housewives… it’s just not a thing for women today?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8Un4YHmh4w

If you thought that was bad…

One of my earlier posts discussed the issue of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military. After a long history of our armed men and women, who belong to the LGBTQ community, have been discriminated against in the service, they still have not reached peace. The Supreme Court recently denied to suspend the policy.

Anyway, if you think that is bad (which it’s terrible) just look at this. Gays and lesbians in Kenya, (trans people weren’t even addessed in the article, but I’m sure they fit in too) are being severely punished if caught engaging in homosexual or lesbian “activities.” Homosexuality is a crime in Kenya, punishable for up to 15 years in prison. I mean, come on, really!?

This will only advocate more hate crimes against visibly gay individuals. Great, as if there isn’t enough already. Here’s what their prime minister had to say, good ole fella he is:

“The constitution is very clear on this issue and men or women found engaging in homosexuality will not be spared,” Odinga said during the rally. “If we find a man engaging in homosexuality or a woman in lesbianism, we’ll arrest them and put them in jail.” They like to say, that with the epidemic of AIDS/HIV they are trying to “flush out the gays.” … As if they are just indisposable?

This will directly cause a spark of homophobia that may have been gracefully eased at some point, in Kenya.

Lawrence Mute of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission says that the prime minister’s comments unwisely encourage hate crimes based on assumed sexuality.

Mute said, “Under the bill of rights, people should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Knock yourself out. Here’s the CNN report.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/11/30/kenya.gay.reaction/index.ht ml

Victims of Sexism and Racism

The least considered ‘genuine victims’ of sexism and racism tend to be those who classify as prostitutes or teenage black males. Contrastingly, individuals who are seen to be the most fitting victims of sexism and racism are those who classify as middle-class and are a white girl child. They are seen to be the “most pure, innocent and helpless.” This is a major issue for the individuals in the trans community because they are hidden by sex and gender norms. These factors make it excessively difficult for a trans person to receive health care and obtain housing approval. Therefore, many individuals recognize a growing pressure to conform to a set sex or gender that is societal approved.

The Trans Day of Remembrance should be an event that not only remembers passed trans individuals, but it should also be a celebration those’ individuals lives who were able to find courage within themselves to live as they felt inside. The class exercise where we were to form our own idea of how a TDOR would run if the students in our class were in charge of the events was an interesting approach in gaining better understanding of the well known event. It’s difficult for one to appreciate exactly all the planning that goes into such a sensitive event because there is much to be considered; more than is obvious at a TDOR event. My group ran into some discrepancies when it came to formulating ideas for the event, because we discovered that we were not only focusing on remembrance or celebration, but we were subconsciously incorporating events to cause strife between identity communities (i.e. those individuals who have a direct problem with trans people, as well as sexual predators.)

This blog came from the ideas set by an article, Retelling Racialized Violence, Remaking White Innocence: the Politics of Interlocking Oppressions in Transgender Day of Remembrance, by Sarah Lamble. TDOR is “defined by details of brutality, violence [being] reduced to the snapshot of a crime scene [and] a momentary fragment in time between perpetrator and victim.” If the events are centered on remembering mostly the violence and horror, then antiviolence efforts aren’t acknowledged adequately.

When collaborating on how to plan an even such as TDOR, one student recalled last years TDOR on the IU campus. She said the most effective tactic she’d seen so far was a field filled full with photos accompanied by brief descriptions of how the trans individuals had been victimized. She said that the most alarming was something she had never before considered. This was that a trans woman had died because she was consistently denied healthcare. This is something many people never even consider when thinking of victimization. Factors such as this are important when thinking of how to shed light on the problems that trans people face.

My sole source was

Sarah Lamble, “Retelling racialized  violence, remaking white innocence: The polics of interlocking oppressions in transgender day of remembrance” Sexuality Research and Social Policy 5:1 (2008), 24-42.

Fearless

http://www.fearlesscampustour.org/Home.htmlJeff Shing has a mission. He has a mission to openly and uncritically out high school and college gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals. His website called, “Fearless,” (above) demonstrates his craft. The first four images on the site are striking. They are all confident, fearless, teens and college kids. This is an image rarely seen in the context of “outing.”

Recently, the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban has been raised in congress. Sheng also has done work for this goal. In this project, there are individuals in the army who are allowing their bodies to be filmed, showing their gayness, lesbianess, or the transness. But the catch? They aren’t showing their faces. They want to remain unidentified so that they don’t lose everything they have worked for by being kicked out of the armed forces.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/11/15/gay.service.members.photo.exhibit/index.html?iref=allsearch

The project was exhibited last week in Washington at the Human Rights Conference. Unfortunately, and quite frankly, unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court the suspension on the ban. But if artists are constantly on the rise for emerging with highly controversial pieces, it will get the attention of many.

Here is a clip from my sister’s favorite show, “The L Word.” Come on, you know you’re guilty of watching and ENJOYING the drama within their twisted little webs of love and lust and lies, and.. I’m off the point. Here, Tasha is confronted with a situation faced by many of our women and men in the military. Tasha is an upstanding soldier, but because of her choice of partner, faces military ban.

These are issues that transgendered individuals face everyday. Sheng’s project is a campaign to spread awareness on heterosexually dominated fields, by spreading the word to coaches and the fans. His projects are aimed to help the cause and in time, we will see justice for all of our fellow gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered friends.

“Les Travestis pleurent aussi”

The film we watched in class was an interesting way to see the lives of trans people doing sex work in France. There is one scene I want to shed light on mostly, and it deals with health of trans people. One of the girls comments that the lives of her friends will most likely end up sadly, because trans people usually die of cancer or aids, because of the plastic surgery or while at work. There is a stark contrast in attitude at the beginning of the film, where all the girls promote their lifestyle. However, in one particular scene, there is a confession of wanting to stop being a whore just to get by. In this scene, he admits that it may be the price that trans people have to face, for going against nature.

I have found a useful website for individuals unfamiliar with gender reassignment. This website is very basic, but gives essential facts for understanding the gist of the procedure.

http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Pa-St/Sex-Reassignment-Surgery.html

The whole concept of the film was to be proud of their lives and who they were. Mostly, everyone was. However, by the end, there was a sense of regret on the part of at least the girl who said that there is usually a sad ending for trans people. She thinks that most trans people will die alone, without ever finding love. The point I am wish to make is that life does not have to be all about being sexual. Though the general thought on the streets does seem to be that sex work is the route for trans people, it does not have to be that way. It just doesn’t. If these individuals quit high school so getting a job is impossible, there are other solutions. I can’t quite empathize, because I have never been there, done what they have to do, but for me… that would be an unrewarding life from the start. I would rather be trapped inside a false body than put myself on the streets, selling my body.

In order to get the word out that sex work is harmful, I have turned to bring up a rally video from the wonderful Annie Lennox.

In closing, I thought it was an interesting thing the producers did by making the life seem fulfilling at the beginning. Then, by the end, we see how their paths are really taking at toll on them. I don’t think that sex work should be endorsed in any form, so I appreciate that they added in commentary about how their lives truly affected them.

Homophobic Presentors are Hard to Listen to…

The politics of location of Bloomington, Indiana… Obviously Bloomington is very accepting to the plethora of lifestyles here. Bloomington, as a whole that is. Something that I am highly entertained by, and also easily offended by, is the ignorance I witness in other classes. Even on a campus as liberal as Indiana University, you still come across individuals that do not censor their language as to not offend anyone in the very diversified classroom setting.

I want to present an issue that came up in another class I am currently in. My other class is the study of Elizabethan poetry. As most of us probably know by now, Shakespeare wrote many works that involved homoeroticism. There was this recurring image of a beloved boy in many of his sonnets. So, a fellow classmate starts presenting Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129, and rather than informing the class of background information, he just starts critiquing homosexual lifestyles and tendencies. This did not make sense with his partner’s argument, seeing as “homosexual” lifestyles were not even considered gay in Shakespeare’s time. It sent his presentation straight to boot, which consequently lost all my respect in his authority of knowledge on the subject. What I find even more mind-boggling is that when he made a nasty comment about how it is a seemingly simple task to pick up a one-night stand by stopping by “Uncle E.’s,” most of the uninformed students in the class started laughing! For those of you who are not familiar with “Uncle E.’s,” it is a gay bar on the West side of town. Basically, what I would like to say is that Gender Studies classes are on of the best ways to inform people across universities that do not know a whole lot about gender variant lifestyles. I find it especially important to teach people how to speak professionally without crossing the boundaries of the many zones of gender variance. When someone speaks about the topic unintelligibly, it comes across offensive because it is such a touchy subject for a lot of people. Here is the poem, in case anyone would like to indulge in a good read.

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated, as a swallow’d bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

I just find it repulsive to sit and listen to someone who speaks about a craft as intricate as Shakespeare’s and dog on it, and depreciate its value because he wrote about a lovely young man!