Trump Administration Eyes Defining Transgender Out of Existence

People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military, in Times Square, in New York City

If anyone still doubts that the current administration is trying to erase our community, then this news should confirm that.  It’s the latest in a series of destroying rights that the transgender community deserves.

Almost a year ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed a three-year-old Justice Department policy that protected transgender workers from discrimination under federal law.  This was just a few months after the president said that the transgender community should be barred from serving in the military.

According to The New York Times, the Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, the most drastic move yet in a government-wide effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people under federal civil rights law.

A series of decisions by the Obama administration loosened the legal concept of gender in federal programs, including in education and health care, recognizing gender largely as an individual’s choice and not determined by the sex assigned at birth. The policy prompted fights over bathrooms, dormitories, single-sex programs and other arenas where gender was once seen as a simple concept. Conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, were incensed.

Now the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

This is a terrifying development.  The article goes on the explain the impact that this would have on our community:

The new definition would essentially eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves — surgically or otherwise — as a gender other than the one they were born into.

According to HRC.org, the administration’s decision could have severe consequences for LGBTQ people across the federal government. For example:

  • Same-sex couples and their families could be turned away from emergency shelters
  • A transgender person could have their insurance deny them coverage for transition related care
  • A gay man could be harassed about being gay at a job skills training
  • An elderly same-sex couple could be denied in home meal service
  • A transgender woman could be turned away from a hospital for a broken ankle

Is there really anyone left who identifies as transgender but will still vote Republican?

Yes?  You in the back?  You had a comment?

“Um, the economy is doing well.  There are more issues than just human rights, you know.”

You can shut the hell up and stay home on November 6th, thanks.

Love, Hannah

 

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Super Model T-Girls!

I love the fall season.  Fall means cute outfits, wonderful weather and the annual MN T-Girls photo shoot with the amazing Shannonlee, superstar photographer!

I have worked with Shannonlee for about a half dozen photo shoots and this was the fourth photo shoot she did for the MN T-Girls.  You can read about the last two shoots here and here.

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We started doing these shoots because for so many of us the only photos we have of our femme side are selfies and let’s face it, nothing beats a professional photo.  Some of us are nervous and have a hard time relaxing and having fun when it comes to professional pictures and it takes a patient person to bring someone out of their shell sometimes.  Not only is Shannonlee a talented photographer, she’s super fun to work with and helps us all feel like supermodels.

I had a lot of fun picking out my outfits for the day and got into the Halloween spirit a little, too.  I can’t wait to share the final pictures with you all!

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Love, Hannah

 

Coming Out As Transgender

National Coming Out Day was earlier this week and it always makes me feel…a little left out.

Coming out is a life-changing experience.  It forever alters the relationship you have with those you come out to.   Sometimes its a weight off your shoulders, sometimes they admit they already knew, or at least it’s not a surprise.  Sometimes it goes horribly wrong.  Sometimes it’s all of them.  It’s a huge risk as we will never really know how someone will react until we do it.  I am sensitive to those we come out to as it will forever change how they see us and a certain level of care and consideration needs to be kept in mind when we do.

I think at this point in my life I have come out to everyone that I ultimately will.  I don’t feel the need to come out to anyone else.  A few years ago I felt that I should tell my mom and siblings.  I felt that this was big enough, and important enough, that they should know.  I also wanted to come out to them because, well, this is big enough and important enough to me.

My immediate family are kind, loving people.  Fiercely liberal, supportive and allies to everyone in the LGBTQIA spectrum.  I wish I could say that coming out to them “accomplished” what I wanted to.  I had hoped that my mom and siblings would have a cup of coffee or hit the mall with Hannah.  That hasn’t happened (well, except for that one time) and I doubt it will.

Please understand that I don’t think negatively of them because of this.  Coming out to someone is tricky.  It can be hard on those we come out to, and it’s hard for us to get it right.  We only have one chance to come out to someone the first time and how we do it will set the tone going forward.  I’m sure coming out as any part of the LGBTQIA spectrum is hard for different reasons and I don’t know what it’s like to come out as anything other than transgender.

In my experience, coming out as transgender is very hard. Being trans means different things to different people.  Me being trans is different than Caitlyn Jenner or Chaz Bono being transgender.  I think most people think of someone being transgender as one who has, or will, permanently change how they present themselves to the world.  I think most people think that being transgender means they have, or will, or are going through hormone therapy and surgery.

And for some trans people, yes, that’s exactly what being transgender means.  But as I’ve written before, gender is a spectrum.  I don’t want to transition.  I never have.  Being trans to me means not committing to presenting as only one gender for the rest of my life.  I have to explain what being transgender means and what it means to me and what it means to the person I come out to.

As anyone who has come out before, you know this can be exhausting.

I honestly think I would come out to more people if it was easier to explain and to understand.  But it is what it is and I have accepted it.

National Coming Out Day creates a bit of a pang of regret.  I read stories all day from others who came out and had amazing experiences with their family and friends.  I was happy to read so many wonderful stories.  I was happy for those that came out and proud of how supportive the people they came out to were.  I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous and sadness when I thought of own coming out.

We can come out to everyone in our lives and receive endless support from them, but sometimes the really important people in our lives are the ones we need the most love and acceptance from.

As I’ve said I have accepted things and I am luckier beyond any hopes and dreams I ever had.  I have the love and understanding and help from my patient and amazing wife.  I have a wardrobe that exceeds any fantasy I ever had.  I couldn’t ask for more.  And I won’t.

I hope everyone has love and support and understanding from at least one person in their life.  I hope everyone has at least one fabulous dress in their closet that makes them happy, I hope everyone has at least one killer pair of heels that they never thought they would have.

We all have our own stories and experiences when it comes to coming out.  If you would like to share them in the comments I would love to read them.

Love, Hannah

 

 

PFLAG Events for October

PFLAG’s mission is uniting people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) with families, friends, and allies.  PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education, and advocacy.  PFLAG has 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

PFLAG was the first support organization I heard of when I was growing up.  I attended their meetings a few years ago and found it was a supportive, and inclusive community.  PFLAG is a wonderful group, especially for our spouses and family members and I am happy to promote the events the Twin Cities chapter has scheduled.

Please join them for their October support group meeting.
Tuesday, October 16 at 6:30 pm
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416
Love, Hannah

A Whole World Looks To See What We Will Do

Recently Danielle Muscato, a civil rights activist, public speaker and host of the #RESIST podcast tweeted this question:

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The responses were heartbreaking and eye-opening.

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As someone who presents as a white, heterosexual, cisgender male most of the time, I can honestly say that these, along with almost every response I read, were never anything I ever gave a second thought to.  In male mode, I am rarely, if ever, in fear of getting attacked when I go for a run or walk to my parked car.  This Twitter conversation is a reminder of my genetic privilege.

Men attacking women, whether it is verbal, emotional, sexual or violent has been happening for a very, very long time.  The #metoo movement has created awareness, and outrage, of how often this happens to more women than I ever imagined.  Of course I was, and am, horrified.  But women knew this.  They always did.

It’s important and necessary to listen to and believe the women.  I do not think women fabricate these stories for personal gain.

Yes?  You in the back?  You had a question?

“I think some women do make up the stories though.”

You can shut the hell up, thanks.

Over the past week, the entire nation was engaged with the recent testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford as she painfully recalled and described a sexual assault when she was younger.  The president rewarded her courage by mocking her on national television.  His supporters laughed and cheered.  Dr. Ford and her family had their lives threatened.

Tell me again why you don’t think women come forward with their stories.

The president warned us that this is a very scary time for young men.  Men are not the victim here.  Men are not the ones looking over their shoulder when they pump gas.  Men being treated that they are the ones under attack is another example of their privilege.  What I mean is that many white men are used to everything being white men.  Black lives matter?  Let’s change that to ALL lives matter.  Yes all lives matter but the message of Black Lives Matter is about bringing attention to police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.

Dr. Ford’s testimony, the stories of the #metoo movement, Black Lives Matter are all examples of how white, heterosexual, cisgender men have never had to fight to be believed, listened to, or respected.  My grandmother fought for the right to vote, my brother fought for the right to marry his husband.  These were rights that I never had to fight for.

I am thankful for these reminders and for the women sharing their stories.  I am awed and humbled, and in some cases, shamed by their courage.  Bringing awareness to a problem is how change happens.  In this case, the change will come by changing the behavior of men.

I didn’t know what it was like to be wary of being in public until I plucked up the courage years ago and left my house as Hannah.  For the first time in my life I was out in the real world presenting as someone other than a cisgender, heterosexual male.  The terror started immediately.  What if the person in the car next to me sees me and follows me?  Is there anyone in the parking ramp that could attack me?  Will people yell at me from their car as I walk down the street?

As Hannah, I am constantly looking over my shoulder, I am constantly on alert and aware of my surroundings.  I am constantly prepared to leave the area, the store, or wherever I am if I feel threatened or harassed.  However, when I leave the house presenting as male, I feel relaxed and I am no longer on guard.  Sure, I have had very few negative experiences in the real world as Hannah, but it only takes one act of violence to change my life forever.

My point is that when I am Hannah, I am in her world.  Her world is full of lipstick, cute dresses and too-high high heels.  Her world, as well as every trans and ciswoman’s world, is also filled with danger, misogyny, violence and harassment.  These horrible things go away from my life when I return to presenting as male.  But my wife, my sisters, my friends and all women do not have the privilege of this safety.

As a t-girl, I am aware of my responsibility to create a positive perception of the transgender community to the rest of the world when I am out in public.  I know I also have responsibilities as someone who also presents as male when it comes to the #metoo movement.  There needs to be change on a behavioral level as well as on a systematic level.

I am committed to being the best person I can be, no matter how I present.  The world has shown us what needs to change, what needs to happen.  We can all be leaders in this change.  At a minimum, we can be decent people.

A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try. 

-John F. Kennedy

Have a wonderful weekend.

Love, Hannah

 

 

X for Gender!

From MPR:

New driver’s licenses are giving Minnesotans a third option for gender designation.  Minnesotans can now put an “F” on their ID for female, an “M” for male, or an “X” for what officials are calling non-binary gender.

The agency said in a statement that the third gender option is in line with other self-reported descriptions, such as weight, height and eye color and allows it to better serve all Minnesotans. Federal regulation allows the change.

In an emailed statement Tuesday afternoon, state Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson, said the change was “made unilaterally by Democrats in the Dayton administration without legislative approval,” and he asked whether the change would negatively affect law enforcement.

Minnesota joins California, Washington state, Washington, D.C., Maine, Oregon and New York as jurisdictions that already or will soon offer the driver’s license option for residents.

Love, Hannah

Dressing Up and Dressing Down

Sometimes I wonder if it IS all about the clothes, the makeup, the heels.  But it’s not.  It’s about not feeling comfortable being tied to a specific gender for my entire life.  It’s about feeling comfortable as more than one gender presentation.  I feel just as confident in a suit as I do in a little black dress, but for different reasons.  I don’t want to transition because I like being able to choose my gender presentation whenever I feel like it.  As I get older, I also feel more hesitant to use phrases like “always” and “never” when it comes to my opinions about some things.

Of course, there are exceptions.  Like, should you wear open-toe heels with black stockings?  NEVER.

Oscar Wilde wrote “You can never be overdressed or over-educated.”  I agree.  I like to dress and look my best.  When I am out, I know that I am probably overdressed on some level to hit the mall.  But after days of shirts and ties, the sound of heels clicking on the floor in a department store is heaven.

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When I was younger I used to dream about certain clothes.  I would page through the Victoria’s Secret catalog and wonder what it would be like to wear a matching bra and panty.  I would see girls wearing formal gowns and I would picture myself in such a beautiful dress.  In my closet I am lucky to have everything from leather to sparkley.

There are still outfits on my wish list but let’s be honest, after a certain number of bodycon and little black dresses, it becomes harder to find a dress that becomes a must-have.

Lately I seem to be drawn to a more casual look.  I have tried this in the past, such as pairing a cute top with a cardigan for example, but as I look through my wardrobe I don’t have a lot of outfits that are perfect for a lazy day of going out for coffee and running errands.

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I don’t mind stopping by Starbucks or Target in four inch heels, but when I see girls wearing cute, comfy clothes I start to wonder if I could pull off the leggings/tank top/hoodie look.  I’ve been hesitant to try this in the past as I feel that layering gives me a “bulkier” look, especially my shoulders, than I would like.  I also think that if I am only going to dress up a couple times a month, do I really want to pass up a chance to wear that cute new dress?

 

Of course, expanding one’s style also feels expanding one’s wardrobe (which is exciting and also expensive).  I have an extensive collection of heels and a perfect dress to match each pair, but I have exactly zero pairs of shoes that would go with a more casual look.

I have a photo shoot next month and I am starting to pick my outfits for it.  I have a few new dresses that I am going to model for certain, but I might slip in something a little more causal as well.

Any suggestions for me?

What look do YOU want to try?

Love, Hannah