Sign petition to help all LGBT people

If you have not already heard, a dangerous thing happened this week that poses a very serious threat to the transgender and allied community, and could potentially impact lesbian, gay, bisexual, and allied people as well.

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently appointed Dr. Kenneth Zucker to chair the task force responsible for updating of mental health language and treatment of diagnoses such as Gender Identity Disorder (GID) for the upcoming DSM-V (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual, Fifth Edition).

Don’t let his recent appearance on NPR sounding like a nice guy fool you. At a time when the American Medical Association (AMA) is supporting stopping discriminating against and stigmatizing transgender people, Dr. Zucker is a widely recognized proponent of reparation (“ex-gay”) and aversion therapy for children and youth. These techniques have been proven to be ineffective at best and–more often–severely damaging to the mental health of people who are LGB or T.

Please see the article that follows for more information.

Dr. Zucker holds the fate of our young people in his hands. WE MUST ALL TAKE ACTION to remove Dr. Zucker as well as his cronies from this all-important APA working group, based upon his approach to clinical treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming identity in children & youth.

Please sign this petition to remove the most outrageous members from the DSM-V GID committee, and then the link on to everyone you know:

http://www.thepetit ionsite.com/ petition/ 412001300

It only takes a moment or two, and your signing could literally save lives.

Thanks so much for your help and support.

Michael Woodward

Tucson, Arizona

Organisations

I’m thinking about starting a new organisation, but beginning to have some doubts. My recent experiences with organisations are not good. That’s why I want to start a new one in the first place. But I’m starting to wonder if any organisation can be a positive experience. I’ve seen an organisation almost destroy the people who most believed in it’s good causes and did the most to achieve it’s goals. I’ve seen organisations refuse to listen to it’s memebers and be marginalized because of it. I’ve seen people dissapointed in organisations, I’ve seen it leading to isolation and depression. I’ve seen an organisation destroyed by roumors and personal disagreements turned into hate-campaigns. Right now, almost all the organisations I know have left nothing but despair in their trail. I don’t want to contribute to another personal or organisational disaster.

Will there always be hurtful fights that result in people loosing their energy and faith in people?

Is it possible to create a true democratic organisation that actually gets things done and not bury itself in boring paperwork?

I’m really not sure any longer. Maybe I’m better off on my own?

Can I change the world on my own?

Les videre

And they ask what's wrong with USA?

This is the moving story of the last months of Robert Eads’ life. He died of ovarian cancer because hospitals refused to treat him. Why? He was a transsexual, a FTM just like me. His story makes me very happy to live in Norway, where I don’t have to pay for my medical treatment and where I will not be turned down because of my biological history (at least as long as I’m white – see the horrible story of Ali Farah). To get registered legally as male, I have to get my overaies removed. Although I believe it should be elegible (forced sterilisation is something that don’t belong in an enlightened, modern society), I’ll be happy to get rid of them.

Southern Comfort (1999) – In Memory of (FtM) Robert Eads

The nearest book

I found this at Anginae’s blog and thought it would be fun. Especially since the pile of books beside my couch consists of books I’ve not had the time to read yet.

1.  Pick up the nearest book.

2.  Open to page 123.

3.  Find the fifth sentence.

4.  Post the next three sentences.

The book on top of the pile was Transgendered – Theology, Ministry and Communities of Faith by Justin Tanis.

Discuss this issue thoroughly with program leadership and with transgendered people within the community. Where the group intends to include transgendered people, say so explicitly. Transgendered people are accustomed to being excluded; you need to make your inclusion as broad as possible and obvious to all participants.

The title of the chapter is Creating a Genuine Welcome for Trans People in Communities of Faith, but judging from these few sentences, it might be a good idea for any organisation or meeting to read it. I actually look more forward to reading other chapters, like «Gender Variance and the Scriptures», «Gender as a Calling» and Transgendered Body Theology». If I just had the time for all the things I’d like to do!

Transrevolution?

The week or so before I told my best friend about my transition, we discussed the film Transamerica. This was back in the spring of 2006, when it was released. He said that he thought that the next fight for human rights in the western world would be about gender and transpeople.

Yesterday, the swedish newspaper SvD published an article about public awareness of trans-issues. It lists a growing number of public performances by transgender and transsexual people. Thanks to Trollhare, who directed me to it!

–Transfrågor och kulturen syns mer i medierna nu för tiden för att det är sensationellt och en av de sista gränserna som finns kvar att bryta, säger amerikanska transförfattaren T Cooper som skrivit boken Lipshitz six, or two angry blondes och var gästredaktör för Outs historiska transnummer.

Jens Rydström, center for gender-studies at the University of Lund, Sweden, offer several explanations to why transpeople are more visible in the media: The internet allowing people to play with gander in new ways, the end of the cold war and it’s segregation of the world in several domains, and most important; the vacuum left by the women’s movement and gay movement of the 1970s. Rydström goes on to underline the positive aspects of transpeople being more visible in media and hopes it is a sign of increasing equality and diversity for everyone:

–Om det är någon minoritet som fortfarande utsätts för diskriminering och trakasserier så är det transpersoner. Det här kan hjälpa till att avdramatisera könstillhörighet och jag hoppas det är ett tecken på ökad jämställdhet, mångfald och likvärdighet för alla.

Jonah Nylund, photo Lars Pehrson

Today I’m pleased to see an interview with Jonah Nylund, who I met at the conference in Poland earlier this year, titled  «Pride general with a capital T» (my translation). Jonah is the new major of Stockholm Pride, Europride this year. He openly identifies as transgender (transsexual FTM) and gay.

It makes me wonder if it’s possible to have a transsexual as the head of anything GLBT in Norway. It would cause a big fight with the «national asociation of transsexuals» (LFTS). They actually recent labelling themselves as anything other than men or women and have previously tried to impose a great divide between «trangsender» and «transsexual». At the moment, the National Asociation of Lesbian and Gay Liberation (LLH) tries to respect LFTS, but it’s getting harder as the awareness of trans-issues rises within LLH.

At the moment there would only be room for a transsexual as head of anything this big LGBT-wise if the person consequently refused to talk about being transsexual. I hope to attend Europride in Stockholm to talk about my book and how it’s been to meet the media as a open transsexual, and to arrange a course in creative autobiographical writing for transpeople (in cooperation with KIM).

I participated last year and loved it, so I hope I’ll be able to do it this year too. The parade was the largest in Stockholm ever, and will probably be even larger this year!

Gendertrouble, lesbians and relationships

After reading Cheerful Megalomaniac’s post on lesbian (ex-)partners of transmen, I’m very happy that I’ve not had to deal with lesbians in that way. As mentioned before, I have a theory that it’s harder for women to accept transsexualism. And after reading the above mentioned post it seems like lesbians have an especially hard time with this.

You don’t find yourself a boyfriend, and then insist on seing him as a woman. That’s not how the world works, sorry girls. It is of course a bit complicated if you’re already in a relationship, but as Ryan writes ” No one should ever control someone elses coming out process”.

I’ve often felt happy that I was single while sorting things out and coming out of my “double closet”. To tell you the truth, I’m often happy that I’m still single. That might change once I start taking testosterone…

Trans in the media

Yesterday was a crazy day. I started on TV early in the morning and was mostly busy with interviews all day. I even got to talk some of my book, the reason why I do this media-thing in the first place. Norway is a small country and trans-issues are not very well known, so I’ve done a lot of educating. I’m not afraid to talk about myself, and some transsexuals find that intimidating. I’ve been told to shut up because I’m not representative for the whole trans-community, especially in terms of being gay. That makes me really angry, bacause it was one of the reasons I didn’t come to terms with my identity earlier. I haven’t heard from any of them this time, but I know where to go to get my head chopped off. I’ll just give it some time.

It’s exhausting to answer questions about myself all day, but I’ve got to meet many nice journalists and got some very positive comments from strangers irl and online. It feels good. And I do think what I do will benefit others in the long run.

Some things puzzle me a bit about how the media like to portray transsexuals. Why is it so important to print my old name? It doesn’t reveal anything about me, really. And very few people knew me by my intermediate female name and not by my male name. I’m happy that no one has tried to print my given name, bacause that would be a link to the past with a lot more consequences.

I try to make my gender-experiences less freakish by linking them to common human experiences, but it seems like the media don’t like that. I guess they would like to portray me as a freak. It doesn’t bother me all that much, because I think they’ll have a hard time to accomplish it. I honestly don’t think people see me as a freak, not in person anyway. And that is what matters.

Norway is a small country, in good and bad. I recently read Gender Outlaw’s post about transmen in the media, and how it makes him frightened of hate-crimes against transgender men, including questioning his own safety. I’m convinced that this is almost non-existent in Norway. I feel free to speak, free to be visible and free to talk to the media without facing the terror of hate and violence. It’s a real privelege! I wish everyone could have the same freedom of speach as I do! And feel safe.

(I’ve posted links to the interviews on my norwegian blog, but wasn’t sure if anyone not speaking norwegian would be interested.)

Society of Friends – Finding my religion?

I’m very excited! This weekend I’ve managed to organize a retreat with the Quakers/Society of Friends here in Tromsø. It’s gonna be real interesting and hopefully thw Society will provide me with a home for my religious belief.

I’ve been a member of the Norwegian Church all my life but  I’m finding it more and more unfulfilling and less satisfactory. I’m tired of fighting the right-wing and do not believe in the sacraments any more, at least not the baptism of children. My father is a reverend there, and I’m rebelling against the thought that any individual is closer to God than any other just because of it’s education and occupation.

So it’s not far fetched to think that the Quakers would be my cup of tea. In addition, I find the thought of «that of God within us all» very empowering and true. They are also the only christian society who want to marry gays. I don’t want to fight to get into a church with all of myself. I just want to find a place where I can have peace with God and a community that respects me. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for. I want to find a society of friends and hope I’ve found it.

FtMs: Please help me documenting trans-language!

I’ve created a survey to collect words we use about our selves and our bodies. The questions are very private, but the survey is completely anonymous, so I hope you are willing to help anyway.

I’m going to use the results in an article I’m writing for my social anthropology class, and later plan on having published as part of a book. I think it’s valuable to document how we re-scribe our bodies to feel more comfortable with them.

Unfortunately, the article is going to be in Norwegian, but maybe I’ll get around to translating it some time. Both english and scandinavian replies are welcome!

The survey 

What if I was born with a male body?

Cheerful Megalomaniac wrote earlier today: «I have to be honest, I wish with all my heart that I could have just been a normal guy, but I know that if I had been a normal guy, I probably would have been an entirely different person… and I kinda like me how I am.»

That reminded me of some things people have told me, like jokes, but serious deep down:

  • «If you had a penis, you’d be at home wanking all day long», my ex-boyfriend used to say – yeah, I guess. In stead I’m involving myself in queer politics, writing and a lot of other more productive activities.
  • «You know that you can get away with that just because you’re a girl? If I did that, people would think I was a misogynist macho-prick», a friend of mine said. – I’m afraid it’s true. I do a lot of things that are considered cool for a woman to do or say, but a sign of less intelligence if a man does it. And now I have to re-think some of my habits and ways of expression. If I’d been born a boy physically, I guess I’d never had to think about this stuff, and I would probably be really unconcious towards sexism.
  • I also have some typically male flaws that get balanced by my female upbringing.

I actually don’t think I would have been a very nice person if my body matched my soul and mind from the start. As I’m getting older, I’m beginning to like who I am. After I started my new life as a man, I feel more secure, happier and more social. I’ve gotten new friends who I love, and my few old friends have gotten closer. There’s also many things that I would never fully apreciated, things I would have taken for granted, if my body had been right from the start.

After all, I’m not really sure if I would have been born any other way. I would have been a very different person. Being male in a female body is quite a big part of what makes me into me. And I am learning to like the person I’ve become. Sometimes I’m actually happy.

God makes no mistakes – kind of a sermon

I usually avoid reading stuff that I know I’ll find repulsive, sick and frightening. I don’t think that’s unusual for any person. To make this post I felt forced to do some research.

I started out googleing the phrase «God makes no mistakes», because I’ve come across it several times in relation to transsexualism. I had the notion that it’s being used as an excuse for christians to judge transgender people.This is some of what I found: (WARNING: Do not click those links unless you are over the age of 18 and have access to valium or other sedatives)

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/february/26.56.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/february/25.54.html

“If you talk to your typical person across America, they would be appalled,” she said. “God made us male and female, and God makes no mistakes. To teach a child at an early age self-hatred, and that’s what this gender variance is, is very sad.” Andrea Lafferty, executive director of The Traditional Values CoalitionIn short, the argument is that transsexualism should not be cured, because it’s against God’s will. He supposedly created the body, but not the mind and soul. And these people don’t seem to care if the only other option is to kill oneself, although I thought that to be against God’s will as well?

Of course, there’s several problem with such an argument, the inhumanity already mentioned. Does God only create our bodies and not our minds and souls? Is He stuck in the middle ages or in the year his son was born on earth? Is He really evil?

I’ve never questioned God’s existance. I’ve been brought up in the Norwegian church with the notion that God loves everybody, that He is pure love and that He has not left us to our selves. And I’ve kept that conviction through some pretty dark years of my life. I did at some point question if He really is good. With all the people doing evil in His name, I have wondered if they might be right; maybe God really is evil. But they never managed to convince me.

I believe in a God who is pure love, a God who made the human race in His image to reflect His own magnitude and diversity, a God who knows so much more than we do – everything. We have no way of knowing for sure how He thinks.

To put oneself in a position to judge the moral and christianity of other humans and to think oneself able to lable other people’s faith as wrong, is to put oneself in the position of God. Jesus told us to recognize wrong teaching for it’s fruits. What would he make of the trace of suicides and grief that follow in the trace of so-called conservative christians?

God sent His son Jesus Christ to our earth to re-establish the broken link between us and God. The conservatives try to push people away from God because of who we are and who we love. For their own sake, I hope and pray that they have no idea of what they are doing and may be forgiven when they realize what they are doing.

I’ve listened to so many people struggeling with their faith in God after being told that God only loves the heterosexual or the single-sexed. They experience every day how «fellow christians» try to exclude them from the love of God and manage to take away their ability to experience christian fellowship. I can’t see how this could possibly be in line with the Bible or the word of Jesus.

And what about the Holy Spirit? I believe in it’s guidance in every person’s life. The Bible is after all written by men, who we can only hope were guided by the Holy Spirit. God has not abandoned His creation and continues to create through people guided by the Holy Spirit.

Conservative «christians» seem to put themselves in the position of God and to reduce God to make Him resemble themselves. They claim to believe in a God they cannot see, but reduces people to bodies and biology. In their trace grows only death and despair. To me, this comes very, very close to blasphemy.

Let’s go back to the phrase that God makes no mistakes. No, I don’t think He does. I’m certainly not a mistake. So my body and mind/soul got a little mixed up and does not fit our present notion of only two sexes/genders, and that these doesn’t change with time. I don’t blame God. If there’s one thing He could not be held responsible for, it’s how we arrange our societies. I also believe that I’m placed in this position because I have a mission: To spread the word of a loving, accepting God and to speak up for a powerless group so that His will can be done on earth as in heaven. I do not say that this goes for all transsexuals and trangendered out there. I do recognize that not everyone believe in God or that He has a plan for their lives. I also know that I have more resources than most in so many ways, and I believe they are given to me so that I can help others. And I will do my best, so help me God.

(Although I’ve used the pronomen «he» about God, I believe Him to be above the two-gender system of our world. As a female to male transsexual, I do prefer the male pronomen in an attempt to set up some positive models of masculinity.)