Sunday, November 16, 2008


It's been a while since I've written anything here. I've been revisiting a lot of older entries for some upcoming speaking engagements. I'm driving over the Central Michigan tomorrow to speak.

I still find it strange that folks want to come talk and tell my personal story. I've very careful in my role for these types of things. I know far too many folks, trans or not, who use the invite of telling their personal story to use it as some strange power trip or personal soap box. I don't think being trans makes me exceptional in anyway... and at the same time I do feel a sense of pride in my identity. I think I can be impactful in others lives by being honest and authentic, telling others how I've accomplished that, and connecting my struggle to others. Basically talking about gender diversity and not making it the Knoll show.

I know..I know..I over analyze everything..but if I didn't..I wouldn't be me!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Birthday Party Fun

Originally uploaded by jennifermf
For my birthday we went to see the improv fest at Planet Ant in Hamtramck. There were some really good troupes and some..umm.. less funny ones.

I like this picture of Jen, me and Carrie!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Knoll Needs Your Help!

Hi everyone.

I'm walking again this year with TEAM AFFIRMATIONS to support AIDS WALK DETROIT!

My goal is to raise $300 this year. Every little bit from friends, family, work colleagues helps! No gift is too small.

You can make a donation at my MY FUNDRAISING PAGE

All the money TEAM AFFIRMATIONS raises goes directly back to support our HIV/AIDS prevention and education services.

Below are just a few of the things we do:
Free HIV testing 3 times a week (each week)
Free unlimited supplies of safer sex materials (condoms, lube, dental dams, etc.)
Safer Sex workshops for adults and youth
AIDS Memorial Quitl Display and World AIDS Day events

Monday, August 25, 2008

End of the summer...

WOW, it's been over a month since my last update. The summer is flying by.

Carrie and I are househunting again and found a few places we like in Royal Oak and Ferndale. We have a lot of requirements (dog friendly and fenced yard, big bedrooms, some hardwood floors, a patio or porch, 1st floor laundry, idealy in Ferndale) and the list goes on and on.

We've been spening more time with the dogs at local dog parks. I feel like it's good exercie for me and the dogs, gets us out of the house. I mean, since the puppers are our live, we might as well embrace it, right? LOL.

I'm hoping to write more soon here. I miss it!

This week I'm looking forward to my birthday and Obama officially accecpting the party nomination at the convenion! Woot!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Memoirs and Writing

I've been missing writing lately. I'm not really much of a writer. Writing things down in this's really a relaxing thought sorting type of activity for me.

Today I found an article on memoir writing. This is the type of writing that makes sense to me. Telling stories, finding new meaning in old stories. yup. Maybe "memoir" type writing could be helpful for me. I have this "sick" bad and detailed that it actually is part of my anxiety (that I remember everything and can then ruminate about it for years). hopes of finding something positive with that...I may try some of these suggested prompts.

Begin with two pages: 10 exercises to get you started:
-Write 2 pages of something you can't deny
-write 2 pages of what got left behind
-Write 2 pages of something you wrote or did that you no longer understand
-Write 2 pages of apologizing for something you didn't do
-Write 2 pages about a physical characteristic you are proud to have inherited or passed on
-Write 2 pages of what you had to have
-Write 2 pages of humiliating exposure
-Write 2 pages about a time when you felt compassion unexpectedly
-Write 2 pages of what you have too much of
-Write 2 pages of when you knew you were in trouble

Sunday, April 13, 2008

American Cancer Society Day at the Capitol ...with Mom!

My mom has never been very involved in any of my activist endavors. Ever since hearing about my work with the Affirmations tobacco grant and Tobacco Free Michigan she has been wanted to come to some events. I guess it just hits close to home--her dad died of lunch cancer and she hates smoky restaruants and bars.

Anyway..I invited her to the American Cancer Society's Michigan Celebration at the State Capitol on May 13 and she is actually coming.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the lobby day!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Photos from the last 10 no particular order

Since I've been posting more in this blog more these days as well as reflecting on identity in much different ways (since no longer working at an lgbt agency) I thought it would be fitting to post a photo retrospective.

You'll probably be able to tell which are the oldest (LOL) I think it's also amusing to note that I own that exact same blue striped sweater (a "male" version of it). Unfortunately some things never change: i.e. my dorky sense of style.

When I look back at these photos..I think of happy and sad times. Even though my gender presentation isn't the same now...when I see these I the time they were taken, I was, for the most part, expressing my authentic self. At least what I was able to and felt comfortable expressing at the moment. I also see beauty and complexity. It's interesting to think that I felt so uncomfortable with myself for so long, becuase I don't see that pain expressed in these photos...but also, most of that pain and searching is a forgotton memory.

While these photos may make some people in my life uncomfortable, I'm not posting them to shock or amuse anyone...or for some sort of transition comparision. I want you to know that just beucase my past didn't really predict my future, it doesn't mean that I want to erase it. I want you to know that I liked myself then....and I like myself now.

downward glances











Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Editorial from the journal Nature (Thomas Beatie)

Editorial----Nature 452, 665-666 (10 April 2008) doi:10.1038/452665b;
Published online 9 April 2008

Defining 'natural'

Visceral reactions to an act should not distract from the real ethical issues.
From an evolutionary perspective, we humans have good reason to be wary of things that seem to be 'unnatural'. Anything out of the ordinary can be dangerous. But the evolutionary origin of that response also guarantees that it will be guided more by emotion than by reason. Witness the reaction last week when Thomas Beatie, from Bend, Oregon, announced his pregnancy on the popular television talk show, Oprah.

Beatie, who was born female (and participated in beauty pageants), underwent hormone treatment and some gender-reassignment surgery ten years ago, but retained his reproductive organs. He stopped taking hormones so that he and his wife, who cannot bear children, could pursue artificial insemination. Several doctors turned them down, but last week, the world watched as a baby-faced man with a thin beard and a growing paunch went for an ultrasound: the fetus was a girl. Oprah Winfrey was supportive as she nursed the nervous Beatie through a discussion of his personal realizations. So was the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. But other reactions were vitriolic, as when MSNBC's Joe Scarborough repeatedly commented that he was "going to be sick". Other such visceral responses were common on message boards and blogs on the Internet, where the situation was often held to be disgusting and unnatural.

And yet, when we consider this story with the reasoning parts of our brains, exactly what was so 'unnatural'? The longing to have a baby? That is a profoundly human desire, whether the prospective parents are male, female or transgendered. Or is it that Beatie has acted on his certainty that he is a man who happened to be born without a Y chromosome? Biologists have found that gender-straddling and gender-switching behaviours are not at all uncommon in the 'natural' world, either for humans or non-human animals (see page 678). True, modern biotechnology has considerably raised the stakes, and is allowing humans to manipulate their biological make-up to an ever-increasing degree. But it hasn't fundamentally changed the game. And its applications, however unsettling they may be to some people, are not, by definition, 'unnatural'.

This same question of 'natural' versus 'unnatural' also emerges this week in a very different context: an online poll that Nature started in January on the use of neuroenhancing drugs (see page 674). Respondents were asked to report on their non-medical use of drugs such as modafinil and methylphenidate to improve their concentration. These drugs can have mild effects, not all that different from caffeine (a natural substance) or other stimulants. But somehow the 'unnaturalness' of these drugs makes some people uneasy in a way that caffeine does not. The claim, repeated in many responses to our survey is that using such drugs, or any performance-enhancing drug, makes accomplishments somehow less worthy because they aren't natural. But again, what is 'natural'? Devices such as glasses, hearing aids, pacemakers and artificial hips are unnatural. Yet they are widely accepted as legitimate ways to enhance the human experience. By the same token, if drugs enhance performance on a standardized test, what is so 'natural' about prep courses designed to improve scores?

Ultimately, our visceral concept of what is 'natural' depends on what we are used to, and will continue to evolve as technology does. But in the meantime, we should not allow it to distract us from the rational consideration of deeper and more important ethical issues. In the case of Beatie and his wife, the elemental questions are the health, safety and emotional security of the child. Trying to decide such issues simply by fixating on a fluid and arbitrary definition is, by nature, silly.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tranny Fags

One of my non trans gay co-workers alerted me to this article he saw in OUT.

Tranny OUT. What is this world coming to. LOL Anyway...he was outraged about the part of the story where one of their profiles kept getting deleted by Adam4Adam.

"The final verdict: “The reason is because your profile says ‘I was born a girl’ and ‘with all my original girly parts,’ and your photos show depicts [sic] female private parts, so based on that our profile approval team concluded that you’re not a man.... Thank you. The Adam4Adam Team.”

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Charzette Torrence's opening at Affirmations

At work tonight we had a wonderful gallery opening and panel dialogue.

The artist Charzette Torrence's collection of photographs focus on the lives of African American LGBT folks--and perceptions in the media.

"Charzette Torrence presents Just As We Are - April 4thJust As We Are depicts the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from all walks of life in 30 black and white portraits. A meet the artist reception takes place at 6:30pm, followed by a panel discussion - Our Gay Image in the Media - hosted by Johnny Jenkins of Arcus Foundation, beginning at 7:30pm. Panelists include Dr. Kofi Adoma, Nkosi Figueroa, Madisun Leigh, Terri Leverette, Curtis Lipscomb, Charles Pugh, Jaye Spiro, leslie Thompson and Andrea Wilson.

The photographs are a response to the way LGBT people are represented in mainstream media. Just As We Are has been touring the country to re-frame the way LGBT people are seen, and the way we see ourselves. The exhibit will remain at Affirmations until early May."

Chalk myths...

Tonight I heard of some younger transwomen who were found eating chalk beucase they heard it can "raise your voice". I've never heard this myth and wonder if anyone else has. I did a little research and found this on chalk, but nothing so far to explain why they would have thoght that.

"Chalk is made from calcium carbonate. It is what many manufacturers use to make calcium supplements. Since it is from rock that is not a living source and is very bad for you to consume. It can cause kidney stones and does, in many people that take calcium tablets in excess where this rock mineral is used. The body's bone content of calcium is only made up of about 10% of this type of calcium and when people take this type of supplement, think it's good for them, they end up doing more harm than good. The body looks at this as toxic and if it gets absorbed, the liver deals with it mostly as a toxin rather than a nutrient."

I'm perplexed and concerned, expically if other folks are, uhh, biting into this myth!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Big Bash 2008 Part 2

For the rest of the photos feel free to visit my Picasa site--lots more photos.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Big Bash part 1

The last 24 hours have been zany due to Big Bash, Affirmations annual fundraising dinner happening tonight. As special events manager it is Carrie's job to coordinator the event and my job as her partner to be her errand boy and personal assistant, most of which I like to do. :-) I can't believe 530-550 people will be coming tonight. I'm so proud of her and all her hard work. I'll be posting lots of pictures later. It will all be worth it...but..whew, I'm tired and the event hasn't even started.

PS. There are SOME perks. We got to stay in a suite yesterday and today at the MGM Grand. It's amazing and luxurious and bigger than our actual house, seriously! LOL.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

People of Color and the Fat Acceptance Movement

On one of the fat activist listservs I'm on someone emailed out the link to this very interesting article/blog post.

A Different Kind of Fat Rant: People of Color and the Fat Acceptance Movement

She makes some excellent and interesting points on why the fat acceptacne movement doesn't speak to people of color.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Affirmations Community Center Smoke Free Public Service Announcement

For Affirmations Tobacco Grant and our Youth Program's Oakland County Substance Abuse grant Laura and I decided to create a video for The Campaign for Smokefree Air's video challenge. The peer outreach team of youth, Laura, me, and a film student volunteer named Brandon worked on this PSA. Finally Ciggy Buttz gets some use!

If our video is picked as one of the top 5 (we'll know after march 31st) it will go to a vote on their website. We're pretty excited and hope that we make it. I'll be sending out updates here. :)

Anyway...Here is the link to the video

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Trans men and pregnancy

A friend sent me this link to an article in the Advocate, Labor of Love by Thomas Beatie. A Trans man talks about his quest to bring children into his life by giving birth himself.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NYT Article

Interesting article from the New York Times today:
Girls Will Be Boys

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Nobody Passes

So I've been reading Nobody Passes by Mattilda AKA Matt Bernstein Sycamore and really enjoying it. I think it's a great anthology with really diverse and interesting submissions. The book explores and critiques the various systems of power seen (and not seen) in passing.

In an article titled The End of Genderqueer (by Rocko) the author writes about how Genderqueer has become more of a scene and not a movement, "Exclusivity and attitude are qualities of a scene, not a revolutionary subculture." The article also includes a top ten list, which is pretty fucking hilarious and sadly true.

Top Ten People Most Excluded From Your Genderqueer Scene:

1. People of color

2. Femmes

3. Transwomen and others who insist on continuing to use female pronouns in this day and age

4. People who do not wear the uniform: work pants, trucker hats, etc.

5. People over twenty-seven, unless they have contributed to your top surgery fund.

6. People who express hetero attractions

7. People who do not speak the latest activist lingo

8. People who aren't kissing your ass right now

9. Transsexuals who have "fully" transitioned, however you define that today

10. Cross-dressers

As a trans person I often think and engage in dialogues with others about the messed up and detrimental (racist, cl assist, sexist, homophobic) effects of "passing" in trans communities. I haven't given the term or concept much thought outside of gender. I started thinking about all the differed ways where I pass or don't pass.

When I think about passing and my different identities--I often think of mental health/mental illness. How I "pass" as a mentally healthy person, when in reality I had my first interaction with the mental health industry when I was about 7 and have been institutionalized 5 times racking up numerous diagnoses. I am an ex patient and consider myself part of the consumer and psychiatric survivor movement. People assume that a "crazy" person couldn't have a masters degree, hold down a job, write, thrive, teach, enjoy live, etc. I am always shocked at how surprised people are when they find out.

I've very open about my past for these very reasons. To help people understand that there is nothing unusual, scary, or wrong with "crazy" people. And, to begin to talk about where this stigma comes from. To ask, "who would pass as mentally ill? and "why".

I think this is more noticeable to me working in health and social services. There is often this model that's set up that there are helpers and then there are those receiving the services. Following along with this model, these people are vastly different: One is healthy--the other is sick, one has the answers--the other is just seeking their info/assistance. Of course, what this medical model leaves out is that so many of us "helpers" have very shared experiences with those in our care. I don't think people talk about this enough, which is why I ended up writing Velcro, my first zine. I think ultimately I was sick of passing.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Top Surgery Update--Two weeks post-op

I wanted to post some pictures. The swelling and bruising has gone down a lot, and the nipple grafts are healing and coming along. I don't have another appointment with the surgeon until the end of March, but I think things are coming along nicely. I plan to do another photo update at the 1 month mark!

And the best picture of all because Lola's in the background watching me try to take a pic of myself. LOL

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Retro Ice Bag

So Cute! I totally want this!

Now you can look fabulous even when you don't feel good----Natural relief for a headache, hangover or bruise has never been more stylish. Many of us remember our grandmother's tried and true remedy of the old fashioned ice bag. Well we've brought it back in modern fashionable designs. Our latex-free, rubberized-fabric Retro Ice Bag is soft on the skin while its watertight cap prevents leakage. It's a great natural, homeopathic remedy for a variety of ailments.
Available at:

Last Day Off Work

On my last day off work (healing from surgery) I did a little grocery shopping, played with the dogs, and went down to Eastern Market in Detroit. I ate lunch and walked around went to a few speciality shops. I found some really good blueberry pancake mix, jams and jellies my French neighbors used to give me as a kid, and spiced almonds. YUM.

It was nice to take extra time off to heal. I probably could have gone back Monday of this week, but I think it was really really nice to take time to let my mind clear and heal as well. I'm excited to get back to work. :)
Pictures from today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

11 Steps to improving your life in 2008

I'm on a mission to make some big and small changes this year to feel happier overall and more in sync with my physical and mental environment. Thought I would share a few of my ideas. Enjoy!

1. Recycle (More): After being the last two people on earth to see An Inconvenient Truth, Carrie and I finally made the commitment to do a better job recycling. We had been using the excuse that we lived in a rental, or didn't have the money to or time to get a SOCRA recycling bin. Embarrassing, I know! After sucking it up and getting out big brown bin we've dramatically cut down on our garbage. During the first week we cut our bags of garbage in half, from 4 to 2. It's almost become a game to see how little garbage we can leave on the curb Friday morning. We both know we have a long way to go to reduce our ecological footprint (we're currently working on reducing and totally cutting out red meat from out diet, buying more locally grown produce, and stopping the use of plastic bags) but this is an exciting first step.

2. Get an MIT or Yale Education Free: You can finally get that Yale, MIT, or even University of Tokyo education you've always wanted without spending a cent. All it takes is an Internet connected computer and a little experience with downloading programs and unzipping files. A growing number of universities are posting entire courses online including lectures, notes, reading lists and homework assignments all on the web. For the most part professors won't grade digital students work--so you can't get credit. MIT has the largest catalogue of classes listed at I'm thinking about checking out "Philosophy of Love in the Western World". Yale just launched video taped versions of seven of it's most popular courses including astronomy, poetry, and philosophy found at For a full listing of free online courses at numerous colleges and universities in the US and overseas check out The Open Coursework Consortium.

3: Swing by your local library: While I'm a person who loves books and loves to buy books, I equally love my little public library. There is something nostalgic and calming about the Ferndale Public Library. The employees appear to be retired school teachers and they still use paper check out cards with a rubber stamp return date. Even if your public library is small most do intra-library loans and have cool education programs for children and adults. In the Detroit area there is a really cool program sponsored my Macy's called Detroit Adventure Pass. It allows library patrons to "check out" free passes to dozens of Detroit area museums for 4 or 2 people.

4. Listen Better: Most of us an easily identify a time we felt "not listened to" leaving us feeling frustrated, worthless, and devalued. Attentiveness and understanding, which differentiate just hearing versus listening can be hard to cultivate. It all my interactions lately I'm really working on limiting distractions and focusing on what the speaker is saying. I'm also trying, while listening to clear my head of assumptions limiting objectivity and my ability to be fully present.

At a conference last year I was in a workshop on personal development that included small group activity. In groups of three we shared personal goals and obstacles. The other two group members could nod and say "uh-huh" but offer no other commentary. At the end of the exchange we were all told to look each other in the eyes and say "Thank you" for sharing. At first it was terribly awkward. I wanted to ask, "How did that feel? Why did you make that decision..even offer encouragement when one group member shared some of his failures. After a few minutes of fully listening my mind got quiet and I was left fully present When it came my turn to share and my group members said thank you I fully understood the power of listening to provide a model for how we hope our words are received.

5. Dance: As my body heals from surgery and I spend a bit more (deserved, but vain) time in front of the mirror---I find myself dancing more and more. I've always enjoyed movement and dance but have always felt so restricted due to binding. This year I am going to get silly on the dance floor more often.

I also can't wait to take some more NIA classes. If you haven't heard of NIA you should check it out. NIA's philosophy is “Through Movement We Find Health,” meaning belief in the power of self-discovery through movement. In practicing Nia you fall in love with being and moving in your body – you experience the power of Self-Healing. "Nia empowers people to make their own movement choices by offering a flexible structure they can personally modify to suit individual needs. The blueprint of Nia is practical, experiential, and focuses on internal guidance to change and develop awareness." (From Pure Joy!!!

6. Stop Drinking Bottled Water: Downing that last gulp of of a fancy brand of H2O as well as remembering to toss it in the recycling bin used to make me feel pretty good about myself. Not anymore! I've been reading more and more. For one, the containers are often manufactured faraway, shipped overseas, trucked to your local store and stored in a fridge. Obviously turning on the tap and filling a glass has a lot less of an impact. Not to mention bottled water is very similar to tap water and it a status symbol. I swear, no more Evian, unless it's an emergency!

7. Be a Tourist in Your Own Town: This is a concept Carrie taught me, and is an initiative many locals cities are trying out as well. Lansing Michigan offers a Be a Tourist in Your Own Town Day encouraging locals to check out..well local stuff. Check out local attractions you take for granted, look for discount tickets, write reviews, have a city swap day with a close friend nearby and arrange tours/outing for each other.

8. Take Responsibility of Your Finances: As I worked on this list, this is the last one I wrote. Not surprising since I always seem to procrastinate when it comes to managing my finances. I'll be the first to admit that I am pretty passive when it comes to managing money. I frequently find myself asking "Where did that paycheck go?" or "Oh..they sent me a shut off notice...better pay up." I pledge in 2008 to be much more proactive rather than reactive with money. For me that means taking responsibility for poor spending choices and my fear of mismanagement and planning for the future. I'm not in major debt (aside from student loans) but I'm also not saving much either. I know that if we want to buy a house within the next year and a half I've got to get my (financial) ass in shape!

9. Connect: I've always had a difficult time making and keeping friends. I chalk it up to being shy, having high standards, a dash of social anxiety, and way too many insecurities. Put very simply, this year I would like to take more risks with my social life. Send that email I've been wanting to write someone, accept a friend's invitation to go out after work sometime, call first/reach out to someone. I pledge to have more fun Sunday brunches, get togethers, and adventures with people I care about!

10. Blog: Although this blog was begun as a way to document my transition, I find it more and more difficult to compartmentalize my experiences as a trans person. I think is a good and healthy development. In 2008 I plan to blog a lot more. I will continue to write about my experiences as a trans man but I also hope to begin to write more about my experiences as a white man, a fat man, a totally socially awkward man, a partner of a person with a disability, a bottom, a reader, a hopeless romantic, a gossip get the picture. :)

11: Don't be Afraid to Invest in Yourself: Because my insurance doesn't cover any vision expenses and I'm an unfortunate kluzt I recently found myself at a discount eye glasses store getting an exam and new frames. As the assistant totalled up my order, I felt a sudden pang of anxiety and guilt. "Is this how I should be spending my money? "Is it too much?" and ultimately, "Am I worth it?" A sad downward spiral, which quickly ended with the realization--what could be more valuable than improving my vision and thus quality of life. Release yourself from the guilt of making well thought out purchases to improve your life, health, or well-being. While it's important to limit our consumption, a new pair of walking shoes, a better mattress, or new glasses are sometimes necessary expenses improving our mind, body, and spirit, thus helping us do the work of the world.

What are you planning on doing this year? Fill me in on your best ideas for improving your life in 2008!

You Might Be GenderQueer If...

I've been really into making lists these days and thought I might start adding them to the blog. Based on my own experiences, meant to be humorous, here's my first attempt!

You might be genderqueer if...........

You were looking forward to top surgery so that you could finally do female drag.

Your femme daddy made you call your "underwear" panties in a scene to shame you--it just stuck and you still call them that.

When the men's bathroom gets too dirty for your Virgo aesthetic you just use the women's.

While working a tabling event you're "read" as a gay cisgender man, a straight cisgender man, a lesbian cisgender woman, and a trans woman all within 30 minutes.

The next door neighbors think you have a twin sister.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My two favorite people....

Two of my favorite people in the world Patrick and Mindy. Patrick's my brother (in an unconventional way) and Mindy is his wonderful wife!!! These pics are left over from Christmas when they came to visit from Philly. Note that him and I are wearing dorky striped sweaters--totally unplanned. The sad thing is, I own the same sweater vest he was wearing as well. LOL