PFLAG Events for September

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.

This month on Tuesday, September 17th, their program will be held from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm and will be followed by our support groups from 7:30 pm until 8:45 pm.
The September program will feature guest speakers Leslie and Sam, a mother and son duo from Minneapolis who will share their experiences and lessons learned from each of their vantage points along the way. They both are self-described ‘open books’ on the subject of raising (Leslie) and being (Sam) a transgender child, and welcome questions and dialogue from the audience.
Lessons Learned on a Road Less Traveled
The first time Sam Lagerstrom told his parents they were getting his gender wrong, was at the tender age of four. That was in the year 2000, and from that point on, the family found themselves on a road less traveled, sometimes feeling as if they had to invent new directions at every turn.
Leslie Lagerstrom is the creator of the blog, Transparenthood™, which chronicles her experience raising a transgender child. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, featured in three anthologies, and turned into a stage production. Committed to spreading awareness on the subject of transgender children, she frequently shares her family’s story, speaking in front of audiences across the nation.
Sam Lagerstrom graduated from Bates College in May of 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Returning to the Twin Cities, Sam is now working for a start-up software company and renewing his commitment to advocacy work for the transgender community.
This month their meeting program will be held from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
and be followed by support groups from 7:30 pm until 8:45 pm.
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 Please join them for their September program and support groups.
Tuesday, September 17th, 6:30 – 8:45 pm.
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416

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Love, Hannah
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Minneapolis Trans Equity Summit

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Minneapolis is hosting the 6th annual Minneapolis Trans Equity Summit on Thursday, September 26th at the Walker Art Center.

From the press release:

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the theme for this year’s Summit is “Shifting the Narrative.” As trans and gender non-conforming people, what are the stories that are told about us, our histories, and our futures? How do we want to change those stories? What is the silenced history we want to highlight, and what are the futures we’re envisioning?

The Summit is free and open to the public, and we encourage anyone interested in furthering transgender equity to attend. This is an event for trans/GNC community members to connect to resources and each other, and for potential allies to learn more about issues impacting trans/GNC community and how to integrate community visions through an equity lens

Hope you can attend!

Love, Hannah

Resources: Gender Therapists

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Therapists that focus on issues regarding gender are not easy to find, so I am happy when I learn of a therapist that specializes in gender identity.

Hanna Zipes, according to her website, introduces herself as a psychotherapist located in Minneapolis and providing individual and couples therapy, coaching and supervision in-office and online. I come to this work with a belief in people, in possibilities, and in the power of relationships. I work from the perspective that healing happens in a positive environment, and that relationships are sustained through love, laughter, presence, humanity, acceptance, and solidarity. While people consult with me for a variety of reasons, I specialize in addressing concerns related to intimacy, communication, infidelity, sexuality, gender identity, and fostering healthy relationships.

I am LGBTQIA+ affirmative and respect diversity in sexual identity, relationships, sexual orientation, and sexual practices and lifestyles. I work to create an environment of radical inclusivity for clients of all genders, sexual orientations, races, cultures, faiths, sizes, and lifestyles.

More information about Ms. Zipes and her practice is available on her website.

Love, Hannah

 

PFLAG Events for August

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.

This month their meeting program will be held from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
and be followed by support groups from 7:30 pm until 8:45 pm.
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 Please join PFLAG for their program and support groups.
Tuesday, August 20th, 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416
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Love, Hannah

Unringing a Bell

Many of us were, or perhaps even still, in denial about who we are and about what we want to wear.  Once we stop denying that we want to wear makeup, or heels, or panties, or… a latex french maid outfit, we begin to accept that this is who we are.

Once we accept it, in some ways, we feel a little powerless.  We are no longer denying our wishes or desires.  We have let our heart decide something for us and we have given something up.  We have given up our resistance.

Feeling beautiful has won.

And what’s wrong with that?  I think it’s wonderful.  We have denied, resisted, and ignored a part of us that wanted to wear a beautiful dress for too long.   This feeling became too strong, too loud, too persistent for us to ignore.  We have accepted that this is who we are.

You may finally admit to yourself that you are a crossdresser, or perhaps you identify as transgender, or maybe you aren’t ready, or don’t want to use a word quite yet about what this side of you is.  Don’t be in any hurry to label yourself. It will probably change over time anyway.

Acceptance is one thing.  You have acknowledged that this part of you isn’t going away, you can’t resist it, and despite years of purging, you always find your way back to the lingerie department or shoe store.  This isn’t a phase, you are not going to outgrow it, you aren’t going to change.

And why should you?  Why should I?  I’m not going to change.

Beyond acceptance is embracing this side of you.  Many of us take a long time to love and celebrate this part of themselves, if they ever get there at all.  The difference between acceptance and embracing comes down to, in my opinion, joy.

Yes, you have accepted you like wearing panties, but embrace this about yourself.  Let yourself find happiness in choosing what you will wear each day.  Have fun with this side of you.  Be excited.  Be curious.  Let yourself add the prettiest pair to your lingerie drawer.

Move beyond the feelings that haunted you before.  You’ve looked longingly at that dress at the mall for too long, now it’s time to add it to your closet.  Allow yourself to find happiness in shopping for a beautiful wardrobe.

Embracing this part of us can take a long time, but it can also go very quickly.  This is a good reminder to be aware of the Pink Fog.  Embracing this part of us is wonderful and its truly the best gift you can give yourself, but it’s important to use caution.

It’s tempting to want to share this part of us with people in our lives.  We have gotten over the self-imposed (and hopefully the society-imposed) taboo about breaking out of gender norms and gender roles.  We have decided to be happy, to be ourselves, no matter what box is checked on our drivers license.  We have conquered something internally, something that we wrestled with for too long.  We have made steps (even baby ones) to challenge what the world thinks a boy should wear.

We have become queens.

Or princesses.

Or french maids.

We want to share our victory with the world, or at least with the people in our lives.  We are ready to say that we have denied this part of ourselves for too long, but we have decided to love ourselves, to stop fighting who we are, and to present as any gender as we wish.  We are, and we should be, proud of ourselves.

We are living our truths.

I was at a point where I also wanted to share this side of me with the people in my life.  I felt as I had broken through the societal illusions and restrictions and boundaries of what gender was and what we were taught it should be.  I felt… enlightened.  I no longer thought I should deny who I was and I realized how… silly gender norms were.  I was told all my life boys don’t wear skirts but no one really knew why that was.  I felt like a rebel in a way, pushing back against something arbitrary but also in a way, strictly enforced.

Yes, this is a little extreme but when we conquer something, especially when we overcome something in ourselves that held us back for some long, a victory can come of as a little…. grandiose.

If I didn’t think it was a big deal to wear a dress, why would anyone?

Of course, it’s not that simple.  Coming out to my family resulted in varying, if not disappointing, outcomes.  Some of that is on me and the way I came out, but there’s nothing I can do about that now except learn from it for if and when I come out to anyone else in my life.

It’s natural and normal for us as people to want to share our victories and moments of enlightenment with others in our lives.  We get a raise, we hit a hole-in-one, go on an amazing vacation… these are things we share on Facebook.

But those are not the same kind of victories as embracing the part of you that wants to wear whatever you want to wear.  This is a complicated and at the same time, a very simple thing to understand.  It’s complicated because people want to know why we are who we are, but there really isn’t a satisfying answer for anyone.  It’s simple because, well, it is what is.  We just want to wear makeup, or heels, or panties or a latex french maid outfit and that’s all there is to it.

Still, the feeling of wanting to break free and sharing this side of us persists.  It grows, it subsides, ebbs and flows.  Like a river, it can rage or slowly flow.  This feeling, along with getting lost in the fog can lead to coming out to others in our lives that…well, they don’t really need (or want) to know.

We have to think clearly and thoroughly about who we come out to, as well as why we want to.  Being honest with our significant others, partners, spouses, yes, that is a given.  But what about the others in our lives?  Do our siblings need to know?  Do your children?  Parents?  Friends?  Co-workers?  Mailman?

Did my mom and siblings need to know?  No.  No, they did not.  So, if they didn’t need to know, then why did I come out to them?  Simply put, I wanted to share this part of me, this literal other half of myself.  I was happy with who I was, I was proud that I found who I was.  I wanted them to know me as both of the genders I identified as.

I wanted to go out for coffee with my mom, to shop with my sisters.

Again, coming out to them was met with an outcome that wasn’t what I had hoped for, but I had to take a chance.

For those like myself who live in-between, it’s a little different than those who feel they want to live full-time, take hormones and/or transition.  I do not think that anyone else needs to know about Hannah.  If I come out to anyone else it’s because I want to.

So, do I want to?  Sometimes.  Not often.  Sometimes I feel like being honest with a few close friends, not necessarily because I want them to know Hannah (but there is that) but because they are lifelong friends and this is an important part of who I am.  I can’t really put my finger on it, but sometimes I feel that I should be honest with them.

There were times in the early days when I was lost in the fog and almost came out to others.  Looking back I am so glad I didn’t.  Coming out then would have been a mistake.  Like coming out to my family, I lacked the perspective that I have now.  I didn’t know myself then as I do now.  Once you come out, then it’s out there.  You can’t unring a bell, there are no second chances.  Believe me, I know.

Some of this seems contradictory to my core beliefs.  I believe that we are beautiful and whole and who we are should be embraced and celebrated.  We should not feel ashamed about what we wear or about our gender identity or how we present.  We should be honest with ourselves and with others.

However, I also believe that who we are cannot really be explained.  It’s not easy to understand why anyone is the way they are.  No one really asks someone why they like to golf or why they like wearing a certain color.  These are hobbies and preferences that make someone who they are.  But when you come out and say that you love wearing skirts or nightgowns then we are hit with an endless amount of questions.

Yes, I know wearing a dress is not the same thing as driving a little cart around a golf course, but I think you see my point.

Who we are is easily misunderstood.  Aside from being honest, there’s no right way to come out to someone.  If I had a second chance to come out to my family, I would certainly do it differently.  I would choose my words more carefully.  I would be more clear because it is important to control the narrative.  If you aren’t direct and honest, then it is easy for someone to misinterpret or misunderstand this part of you.  I know it’s not easy for us to understand why we are who we are, let alone someone else understanding it.

Coming out to someone is trusting them with something that could have a significant impact on your life.  Come out to a co-worker?  They could report you to Human Resources and as of this writing it is legal for you to be fired for being transgender in 26 states.

Who we are is beautiful but easily misunderstood.  We are feared and hated.  We need to be safe at all times and that has as much to do with being aware of our surroundings as well as being careful as to who we come out to.  I hope for a day when things gender identity and gender presentation are as boring and as commonplace as golf, but I don’t think that day is coming anytime soon.

Love, Hannah

Trans Lifeline

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From their website:

Trans Lifeline is a national trans-led 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of trans lives by responding to the critical needs of our community with direct service, material support, advocacy, and education. Our vision is to fight the epidemic of trans suicide and improve overall life-outcomes of trans people by facilitating justice-oriented, collective community aid. 

Need to talk? Call! Our peer support hotline is run by and for trans people. We’re available 7am-1am PST / 9am-3am CST / 10am-4am EST. Volunteers may be available during off hours.

If you or someone you know needs to talk, please call.

Love, Hannah

PFLAG Events for July

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.

This month their meeting program will be held from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
and be followed by support groups from 7:30 pm until 8:45 pm.
What’s the tea?  Program presented by Shawn Jarvis.
A brief overview and discussion about common terms used by, for and in the LGBTQ Community.
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 Please join PFLAG for their May program and support groups.
Tuesday, June 18th, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416
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Love, Hannah