PFLAG Events for September

PFLAG_TClogoPFLAG‘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 us for our September program and support groups.

 

OutFront’s Anti-Bullying Initiatives.
Join Blaine Kelley & Cat Salonek to learn about the Anti-Bullying Initiatives taking place throughout the programs of OutFront Minnesota. While Blaine will discuss the efforts of our Youth & Schools Program including our GSA (Gender & Sexuality Alliance) Network that serves over 160 schools throughout the state Cat will detail the work being accomplished through the power of community organizing!
“A graduate of The University of Minnesota where he designed his own degree entitled, “Intersectionality; Critical Analysis for Social Justice” Blaine Kelley now serves as the Youth & Schools Coordinator at OutFront Minnesota.
His current position finds him traveling the state to meet with hundreds of students each year finding out what’s important to them, what’s going on in their lives, and presenting a plethora of workshops related to LGBTQ+ identities. When not working in schools or on the road, Blaine serves as advisor for the MN Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Network’s Leadership Council working with 20 students from across the state to develop leadership skills and make plans for the greater GSA Network of over 150 middle and high school GSAs.”
“A graduate of The University of Minnesota where he designed his own degree entitled, “Intersectionality; Critical Analysis for Social Justice” Blaine Kelley now serves as the Youth & Schools Coordinator at OutFront Minnesota.
His current position finds him traveling the state to meet with hundreds of students each year finding out what’s important to them, what’s going on in their lives, and presenting a plethora of workshops related to LGBTQ+ identities. When not working in schools or on the road, Blaine serves as advisor for the MN Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Network’s Leadership Council working with 20 students from across the state to develop leadership skills and make plans for the greater GSA Network of over 150 middle and high school GSAs.”

Tuesday, September 18 at 6:30 pm
Union Congregational Church
3700 Alabama Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55416

Support groups will directly follow the program at 7:30 pm.

Love, Hannah

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Every Body Fits

I received an email the other day from Alicia Lagan whose son came out to her as transgender two years ago.  As she watched her son start taking hormones and adapting to his new life, she noticed he had a hard time finding clothes that fit his changing body.

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Alicia and her business partner were moved to create a new company named ‘Every Body’, a clothing line for transgender teens in Los Angeles, but with plan to have stores internationally.  Their mission is to help make shopping easier for the transgender community, something I think we all would benefit from.  We all want to feel comfortable in what we’re wearing and to not be treated poorly while shopping.  Every Body is committed to tailoring clothes to fit kids the way that they would like by designing a specialized size chart.  Once opened, the store will be a one-stop-shop for everything, whether it is undergarments, necessary accessories, and other clothing that fit correctly so one can express themselves as the gender they identify as.

At this point they are raising money for their project.  If you’d like to learn more about Every Body and help a difference in the lives of our LGBTQ youth, please visit their site.

Love, Hannah

 

Keep Your Heels High and Your Head Higher

I get a lot of emails from other t-girls who haven’t made the step outside their house yet.  Usually it’s for a few different reasons, but it all seems to come down to them afraid of what other people will think.

This is a perfectly natural thing to wonder and I’ve been there too.  But what helped me leave my living room was that I just… felt ready.  I was so ready to experience the world as Hannah that this feeling became stronger than any fear I had about leaving my home.  I wondered what people would think and then I realized something.

You won’t know what people will think.

Unless, of course, you ask them, I suppose, but what would the point of that be?  I have never felt the need to stop someone at Target, in either gender, and ask them what they thought about me.

Of course, some people will share their opinion without being prompted but in my experience I hear more unprompted compliments than detraction.

But my point is that people are usually too distracted by their own lives (and phones) to notice you or have an opinion.  When I’m out (in either gender) I am too busy thinking about a million different things to think about anyone else.

That’s not to say I am not aware of who I am around for safety reasons, but I pay so little attention to the guy who’s watching me walk through the mall to even speculate as to what he might be thinking.

Remember, it’s not what people say to you, it’s how you react to what they say to you.

Once I walked down the street and one guy said to his friend “dude looks like a lady” when he saw me.  There’s a few different ways I could interpret his comment and it’s possible it wasn’t even an insult.  It may very well have been, but the point is that I don’t know and I’ll never know.  It wasn’t worth my time to stop and ask.

I could have let this ruin my day but I looked too good to let anything get to me.

No.  My first reaction was “well, that’s the point”.

The sidewalk is my catwalk.  My heels are high but I held my head higher.  I rolled my eyes and strutted on.

Love, Hannah

 

One for the Money, T-Girls go to a Show…

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The MN T-Girls had our monthly adventure last night and it was one of the most fun events we’ve ever had.  Many of us have dreamed of wearing a beautiful dress to a play at a nice theater and yesterday we had a chance to make that a reality.

This was the final weekend of the Guthrie Theater‘s production of ‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’Casey is an Elvis impersonator with everything going for him, including a flashy sequin jumpsuit. But just like that he loses his gig, rent is overdue and his wife announces a baby on the way. So when Elvis leaves the building and a drag show moves in, “The King” transforms into an all-out queen with the help of some new friends who become the second family Casey never saw coming. With snappy zingers and dance-worthy numbers, this wildly entertaining story will challenge your assumptions with extraordinary humor and depth.

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I was surprised at how much I loved the show.  Usually shows that feature drag queens portray them as catty, one-dimensional characters, but the cast was funny, smart, and just…fun.  Everything was handled with a lot of respect and dignity and I never felt the play was making fun of the transcommunity.

The Guthrie couldn’t have been nicer to work with.  Thanks to their helpful customer service, we were able to have a group of tickets reserved for us so we could all sit together.  We were seated in the front in what is consider ‘cabaret seating’.  We sat at little tables giving us the feel of being at the show the characters were performing in.

It was a very fun night and it was such a fun play.  I wish I had seen it earlier so I could have recommended it before now, but the final production is today.  If you put on your fastest heels you might be able to get a ticket in time.

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I can’t wait for our next outing!

Love, Hannah

 

All Are Welcome in Hastings…

…(unless you’re transgender).

City Pages has an article about where they touch on Councilman Joe Balsanek and his perspective on diversity in Hastings, a suburb in the Twin Cities with a population around 22,000.  “It is important that we accept all the folks with different kinds of identities.”  Well, that’s really nice.

But wait!  There’s more.

Leaders of a few churches and one school have written a letter about the city’s message of everyone being welcomed.   According to the article,

The writers believe there is one group covered under the “all are welcome here” credo that shouldn’t really be welcomed: transgender folks.

“There is extensive evidence that the promotion of the view that a person’s sex as a fluid self-perception rather than a biological fact is harmful to children and teens,” they write. This view is “factually unsubstantiated” and will encourage young people to “make irreversible decisions to artificially alter their sexual identity.”

It’s frustrating to being singled out (again) especially in the light of a message where everyone, oh wait not you is included.  Especially from church leaders.  It’s been a while since I’ve been to church, but I’m pretty sure the Bible teaches ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you‘ (Luke 6:31).  Maybe I’m wrong.

At any rate, I don’t believe that these leaders speak for the entire community.  I am sure there are many residents and businesses that would welcome us with open arms.

You know, accepting people with different kinds of identities.

Love, Hannah

 

#transgenderprivilege

There is a hashtag that has been popping up around Twitter for the past few days of #transgenderprivilege.  Users are posting their experiences about being trans and discussing the myth of the “privileges” our community has.  There are many out there that think we are trans just so we can use a particular bathroom or locker room, many think we are trans for sexual reasons.

Of course, that is not the case. The responses posted range from relatable, to sobering, to heartbreaking.

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As a t-girl who does not plan on transitioning, some of the responses are not ones I can relate to directly, but I have friends who have said what many of these users have written.  For those of us who have gone out in public and had to use the restroom, I think we can all relate to the tweet above.  I’ve had nothing but uneventful experiences in using the ladies room, but my guard is always up.

What are some of the “advantages” people think you have because you are transgender?

Love, Hannah

 

My First Name Ain’t Buddy…It’s Hannah, Ms. McKnight If You’re Nasty

We all remember the first time we went out.  We also all remember the most recent time we went out.  As I get ready to go out, I think about where I’m going, what I am going to do, and what might happen.  I think about everything, like if I am overdressed for what I am going to do (I am), I think about where I will park and if it’s safe or too far to walk in the heels I am going to wear…and I think about whether or not I will encounter any…well, jerks.

I know that we have decades before a transperson will be able to go out in public (or online) without the likelihood of a snide comment, or worse.  I am always concerned about my safety and so far I haven’t had any situations where I felt physically unsafe.  Thank goodness.

Going out as a representative of the transcommunity (because we all are) gives me a chance to see how the public views and reacts to someone like me.  Sometimes my experiences are amazingly positive and I am embolden by what people say to me and what that means for the acceptance of the transcommunity.  Of course, it’s not always rainbows and glitter, either.

I am okay with stares.  When someone stares at me it could be for a number of reasons, such as the realization that they are seeing a transperson for the first time and they are trying to process it.  It could be because they love my dress (this is my default thought because, well, why not?) but a stare isn’t a bad thing.  A sneer, a smirk, a stifled laugh is, but a stare is fine.

People going out of their way to be rude is the worst.

I used to think that the bravest thing I ever did was leaving my home during the day, dressed in a beautiful dress and full makeup as I walked a block to an appointment with a seamstress to have a dress altered.  But no, for me it’s more nerve-wracking to be in public in heels and a dress without makeup as I head to a makeover appointment.  My face still slightly red from shaving, my…maleness in full volume.  It’s a relief to sit in that chair as the artist starts their work.

A few weeks ago I went in for a makeover and as I stood at the counter waiting to check in, one of the clerks referred to me as “him” and….it killed me.  I was already feeling fragile and ugly and nervous and male and this was like a stab to my heart.  Any remaining strength I had to hold my head high despite a lack of makeover was just gone.  She apologized and corrected herself immediately after she realized what she said and I believe it was sincere but it didn’t undo the pronoun slip.

As I sat there getting my makeup done I kept thinking about how transpeople encounter this each and every single day…whether the comment is a slip or a truly malicious verbal slap.  I thought about those who are “full-time”, or those who have transitioned or in the process of doing so.  They are facing the world each day presenting as the gender they identify as.  They deal with this much more often that I ever will.  This little moment was a wake-up moment and it helped me put my experience into perspective.  It’s one thing to have something like this potentially happen every few weeks compared to something like this happen potentially several times a day.

As my appointment wound down, I felt calmer and the time I spent thinking about the pronoun slip and what other transpeople experience more often than I do put things into perspective.  I felt stronger and more confident after my appointment.  Stopping feeling sorry for yourself and a good makeover will do that to you.

I went on to have a fabulous day of shopping and dinner.

On my way home I stopped at a gas station and the clerk went completely out of his way to call me “buddy” and “sir”.  Six hours ago a pronoun slip devastated me but this just made me roll my eyes.  Others have experienced worse.  Nothing makes it okay that he said that, but it didn’t affect me.

So, in summary, here are some ways to deal with some of the most common comments you hear when you go out:

“I love your dress!”  Thank you!

“You are very tall!”  It’s the heels.

“Hey buddy.”  Go to hell.

It’s tempting and natural to want to confront someone saying hateful and hurtful things, but I don’t think it’s possible or likely you can change someone’s mind if they are such a jerk that the would go out of their way to say something like that.  I am wary of interacting with haters as you never know what they might do especially since almost every state allows what is commonly referred to as ‘The Gay Panic Defense’.

Be careful and be gorgeous.

Love, Hannah