Pride Parade 2011: Marching with the “T”

 

 

I had the honor of marching with the transgender contingent in the San Diego Pride Parade on Saturday. This was my second time marching, the last time being 3 years ago. In 2008, some clients of mine were marching, and I knew others from the FTMI meetings I attended. This year, I didn’t know anyone marching ahead of time and I wasn’t sure what reception I would get when I introduced myself.  Trying to find the group, I walked past the bold, bright floats of the other contingents; loud music, dancers, bubbles, and of course, a lot of rainbows. When I got to spot #119, I almost walked past it. There were about 6 people; 3 sitting on a curb, 3 standing up. I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “This is it?” I shouldn’t have worried about the reception I was going to get; when I introduced myself as an ally and said I was there to march, those in the group were welcoming. Most of them commented on and liked my sign: “Celebrating Trans Bravery”.

 

As the time to march grew closer, more people gathered. One trans man who was slated to march with Canvass For a Cause (a very trans-friendly employer, I hear!) opted to march with the transgender contingent. When his co-worker walked by and asked why he wasn’t marching with them, he said “the numbers were kind of low in this one so I’m going to march here instead.” I was impressed.

 

I felt honored to march with these people; heroes in my book. To march and be recognized as transgender is a brave thing to do, especially considering (at best) the lack of knowledge about this group and at worst, the stigma.  Those who march are doing important work. As one sign said, they are sending the message: We Walk Among You. Without those daring to walk, the transgender community would be even more invisible than it already is.

 

One of my former clients jumped in near the beginning of the march and I felt a surge of pride walking beside him. It’s quite amazing to know his journey from pre- to post- transition and to see the man he has become.

 

At its highest, the number of people in our group numbered around 17. No music blaring, no bubbles blowing, no beads being thrown. Just 17 people with a banner, some signs, and some flags. Pretty amazing considering this parade is for the LGBT community; THOUSANDS of people marching to represent the letters LGB and 17 to represent the T?!

 

I’m sure there were plenty of transgender people marching with other contingents, for other causes.  I just couldn’t help but think of how important it would be to have a large, vibrant group to represent this under-acknowledged part of the LGBT community.

 

Of course, I would love to do a “call to march”; enlist my clients to walk with the group next year, explain the importance, coerce if necessary! But I wouldn’t do that.  I understand why most people opt not to march. It’s a private issue, and one that most people don’t care to broadcast. I understand when those who transition would rather move on than stay to be the poster children of the trans community. There is no judgment on this issue from me, and I respect each and every decision made about whether or not to march, or to be stealth. Those who have transitioned and are now stealth are also heroes to me; they have undergone a more challenging process that most will ever know.

 

Somehow we need to figure out how to get the numbers up; to make the transgender contingent better represented. Perhaps more friends, family members, and allies need to be stepping up to celebrate and normalize this group of heroes.

 

My client remarked to me that when he first started marching with the group several years ago, the group would get “crickets”.  Why is that? Is it because even in their own community, they are misunderstood? Does the crowd not know where this group fits in? Or are they picking up on the energy of the group? The mood of the group when marching can admittedly be hesitant at times.  This year, when those of us in the group marching would cheer, or wave, the reception was positive.  Gone are the crickets! Later my client said he noticed an improvement in the response of the crowd each year he’s marched.

 

A big reason why I march is because I want to say to everyone who will listen: “It’s ok to be transgender.” In fact, not only is it ok, but transgender people deserve a lot of admiration and respect for the process they have to go through to be true to themselves. So, because I can’t sit down with each person in San Diego and explain this, I cheered, I held my sign as high as I could get it, I waved, I smiled, and I looked at as many people in the crowd as I could.  I hope they heard my message.

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Published in: on July 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm  Comments (1)  
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Important Medical Info for Trans Men

I finally watched the documentary “Southern Comfort”; it’s one I’ve been meaning to watch for years. I wouldn’t recommend it to someone trying to find out more about the trans community, but it addresses a VERY important topic. It’s the story of a Female to Male transgender individual named Robert Eads, who died from ovarian/cervical cancer after being refused medical treatment. It shocks and saddens me that anyone in the medical field would refuse to treat someone in need of help, regardless of their race, gender identity, social status, anything… and as recently as 1999!

The main reason the doctors cited not wanting to treat him was that it might make the other patients in the waiting room uncomfortable or that treating him would damage their reputation. As a result, over the course of the movie you see a very vibrant and loving person diminish and then pass away.

However, I’m not necessarily writing this blog about the outrage of refusing to treat a trans individual medically. The main reason I chose to write this is to remind trans men: if you still have a cervix, ovaries, or a uterus, you are at risk for cancer in these areas! I know reading this, thinking about this, or talking about this is just about the last thing you want to do, and many trans men avoid the tests for these cancers like the PLAGUE. Having a pap smear is an uncomfortable experience at best for most women. For trans men, I can only begin to imagine how awkward/humiliating/discouraging having to go to one of these appointments must be. PLEASE GO ANYWAY. It’s better to feel like you’re going to die of embarrassment then to actually die of cancer. Yes, I am trying to scare you into going. To quote Mr. Eads himself, “The last part of me that is female is killing me.”

I have a couple of practitioners in San Diego to whom some of my trans male clients have gone for these types of exams, and have had nothing but nice things to say about the doctors. In addition to this, I have called both of these doctors’ offices and asked if they are open to having their names on my resource list for my trans male clients. They both said yes! Please see the bottom of this post for their names and contact information.

If you don’t have medical insurance and can’t afford to pay out of pocket for these providers, there are some low-cost clinics in San Diego that could perform these tests. If you don’t live in San Diego and you need help finding a place to go, email me and I will help you research this. Or, if you are too shy or scared to call a doctor’s office to find out if they would be trans-friendly, let me know! I will call for you. Client or not…even if I’ve never met you.

Once you have an appointment, one thing you can do to make the experience more comfortable is call the doctor’s office or clinic the morning of your appointment. If you are too nervous to do so, have a partner, family member, or trusted friend do it for you. You or they can let the front desk staff know who you are, what you will be seen for, and how you present so there is no confusion when you arrive. You may need to gently remind them they are to use male pronouns and your chosen name (if not yet legally changed).

One important point made in the documentary is that since Robert transitioned later in life, he was close to menopause. Because of this, he was advised he did not need to have his uterus and other female reproductive organs taken out. I believe the loose guideline for getting a hysterectomy after taking Testosterone is 5 years. If you are an existing client of mine and need a letter to have the hysterectomy performed, let me know.

The most important thing is that you don’t ignore this.

Come on, be a man… go get a pelvic exam!

For more information go to:

http://www.ftmguide.org/tandhealth.html#pap

http://www.checkitoutguys.ca/

http://www.ftmguide.org/hysto.html#why

San Diego Providers:

Dr. Alisa Williams*

619-299-3111

4060 Fourth Ave Ste 640

San Diego, CA 92103

*Dr. Williams also does hysterectomies

Dr. Laura Norton Petrovich

(619) 435-2234

1224 10th St Ste 200

Coronado, CA 92118

Trans Youth Family Allies

On Monday 5/23/11, I had the pleasure of listening to Kim Pearson speak at the LGBT Center! I have heard so much about her, and I was thrilled to finally get to meet her in person. Kim is an amazing woman and mother of a trans individual. She is the Executive Director and co-founder of Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA), an organization that connects and supports families of trans children. The “little t” in LGBt, as Kim would say! 🙂 Her organization plays a crucial role in advocating for and educating for this underserved population.

I approached her after the talk and told her we must connect, so the next day we met up for coffee.  It was wonderful to talk to someone who is so passionate about working with gender variant and transgender children, and completely validated my beliefs about the work I do with them. As she said at the end of our meeting, “It’s so nice to meet like-minded people!” Likewise, Kim! Thank you for all the work you do. See the link below for more information about Kim and TYFA.

http://www.imatyfa.org/aboutus/bio-kimpearson.html

Also, consider donating to keep this AMAZING, volunteer-based program alive. http://www.imatyfa.org/permanent_files/donate.html

Stay tuned for more blogs about valuable information and insights I gained from connecting with Kim.