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!