Monday, November 20, 2006

Where's the Line?

One of our dear sisters the other night raised the controversial topics of trans autoerotica and narcissism, so maybe it's a good time to delve into these issues. Narcissism often manifests when an individual tries too hard to convince themself of their worth, because they do not feel that way naturally. In the case of a translady, narcissism can also be symptomatic of good old fashion Gender Euphoria... sheer joy overflowing from an inner wellspring that has been pent up so long. People in a state of gender euphoria tend to be a bit (or a lot) self-absorbed, so overwhelmed with delight and enchanted by their own girlish appearance, that nothing else seems to matter to them.

Autoerotica occurs when sexual fulfillment is sought through solitary fantasy role play. I must ask, what is so dirty or wrong about that? How many people have erotic enjoyments on their own? Probably the majority of creative, verile human beings are autoerotic to some extent. Those who attempt to pathologize transgenderism tell us autoerotica is unhealthy, in the same way our grandparent's generation claimed masturbation is a sin.

I believe the main divisions in the community stem from the treatment of these two issues. There are those on the one side, who go en femme in pursuit of good feelings and pleasure, who wholeheartedly embrace and publicly display both autoerotica and narcissism, thus promoting the negative stereotype. Then there are those on the other side, who go en femme because it is who they are inside, and they are left to cope with the negative stereotypes created by the other side. Unfortunately these two groups have conflicting objectives: one side wants all the attention it can get, the other side wishes to blend in without fanfare.

I say there's nothing wrong with autoerotica, even a touch of narcissism isn't so bad, so long as these characteristics are enjoyed in a balanced way that is mindful of the greater good of the community. What do you think? The question is, where's the line?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Historic First Win for Openly Transgender Candidate in Hawaii

November 8, 2006

Kim Coco Iwamoto Wins State-Level Board of Education Seat
Iwamoto is the First Openly Transgender Person Elected to a
State-Level Office in the US

(Washington, DC) — Yesterday's mid-term elections marked a historic first in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) movement for equality and civic engagement. With a comfortable victory garnering 81,532 votes, attorney Kim Coco Iwamoto was elected to Hawaii's state-level Board of Education (Oahu-at-Large), a non-partisan office. Ms. Iwamoto, an openly transgender woman, is a member of the National Center for Transgender Equality's (NCTE) Board of Advisors. Iwamoto holds a Juris Doctor from the University of New Mexico School of Law, is a volunteer guardian ad litem for the First Circuit Family Court, and is a frequent speaker at high schools and colleges on civil rights issues and community service.

"This is a truly historic win and marks an important first in the American political landscape, said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Kim Coco Iwamoto is an outstanding individual with a long history of pro bono legal work and volunteerism benefiting her home state. She will serve the people of Hawaii well."

There are currently only a limited number of openly transgender elected officials serving in the US and around the world. In the United States, Michelle Bruce serves on the City Council in Riverdale, GA and Jessica Orsini serves as an Alderman in Centralia, MO. There are also dozens of other openly transgender appointed public officials across the U.S. New Zealand's Georgina Beyer has served in Parliament since 1999; Aya Kamikawa was elected as a municipal official in Tokyo, Japan; Vladimir Luxuria was recently elected to Italy's Parliament.
As public education efforts aimed at ending misconceptions and prejudice against transgender individuals advance, more and more transgender people feel safe and comfortable living their lives openly. Concerned with the betterment of the country's economy, educational system, health care and security, candidates who also happen to be transgender are running for—and winning—political office.

To read more about Board of Education Member, Oahu-At-Large, Kim Coco Iwamoto, please visit her campaign Web site at

National Center for Transgender Equality
phone: 202-903-0112

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Entrance of DJ MsDD

Yes tis true. DJ MsDD is now making her entrance into the beautiful universe of Gender Evolve. A media personality, such as I am (thanks to the webcast medium and to the Boston PHOENIX, my hosts), has a professional obligation to make a splashy entrance; this is mine. Please enjoy...

The link I've provided is to my MySpace page. There you'll find THA MUZIK that keeps me radiant and a large number of friends of MOI. Just about all of us belong to HOUSE NATION, dedicated to the workd wide house music movement. It's a club moment, is house; as DJ Rooster & Peralta's song "Pornokopia" puts it, "...stsarts to rock at a club about twelve o'clock." We work the graveyard shift! In the deep dark we shine with a dusky sexy light, we house music people. Many of us are trannys -- have been ever since house music began, in Chicago in the 1980s, very much as a gay Black male's thing (though always with a significant cast of gorgeous GG's, mostly Black too). Even now, 20 years later, the constant core of House Nation is gay guys, trannys, and gorgeous dance-crazy gals. And THA MUZIK, soulful, throbbing, sweaty, dark, and deep. Spiritual, body & soul.

There, on the dance floors where "pornokopia rocks" -- "pornokopia's not dirty, it's just a time when girls get flirty" you'll find us. And find MOI. Wearing my usual: heels, jeans, BabYphat tank top and baseball cap. It's my signature -- and a very DJ signature it is. No house music DJ would DREAM of spinning without wearing his or her baseball cap. Visor forward, too, unlike in hip hop where folks wear their visors backward. Thats because house is a forward music, an optimistic, glad music. We're glad to be here, glad to be dancing, glad just to BE. In THA MUZIK we celebrate our BE-ing and the BE-ing of all who dance on the floor with us.

I understand that the tranny world of DJ MsDD is way different from that of most of my GenderEvolve girlfriends. And different from the experiences of most TG people. In seven years as a trannyt on the 'net, I've met hundreds & hundreds of TG sisters, almost all of whom come from the same mainstream, middle-America environs that most Americans live in. I have found myself way apart from that mainstream. I'm an urban chic from an urban background; I'm a second generation "inkhorn" (i.e., newspaperwoman, as was my Mom) at an urban newspaper; I'm a music person in an idiom as outside the box as music can get, music whose antecedents played in New Orleans brothels and juke joints in Storyville and which continues to play in venues with a tainted reputation. So be it. Those taints are my tranny support system. In our venues we outside-the-box people sustain one another, just as our antecedents did 90 years ago in New Orleans where & when jazz was born. Jazz then was a music of pimps, whores, trannys, gamblers, players, outlaws of all kinds. House music's scene isn't quite THAT devilish, but we sure won't win any awards for Leaguie of Women Voters uprightness, will we? As I said before, our apartness is our support system, each for each. Being ac tranny in the house music scene is simply one way -- my way too -- of saying "Yes, I belong; I'm just like you" to all the rest of House Nation.

So there it is, and here am I. Ambassador to GenderEvolve from House Nation. I'm here to embrace all of my GE sisters -- and to coax you into the dark, deep, over and outside the box world of House Nation -- and its music. I come to you with LOVE and "BIG RESPECT," as we citizens of H.N. say to each other by way of greeting.

xoxoxo >>>> DJ MsDD / Boston Phoenix New Media

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gender Recognition Act gives transsexuals early access to pensions
09 November 2006 13:13
This article first appeared in Personnel Today magazine.

Some 122 transsexuals in the U.K are set to cash in five years early on state pensions after being classified as women under the Gender Recognition Act.

The Department for Work and Pensions confirmed yesterday that the transsexuals, who were formerly men, had been granted pensions after being officially recognised as women since April 2005 when the Gender Recognition Act was implemented.

They will now qualify for a state pension at the age of 60 rather than 65, receiving almost £22,000 in additional pension funds.

Men who changed gender before the Act was introduced and are now over the age of 65 will not be eligible for backdated pension payments.

More than 1,500 transsexuals have been certified as women under the new Gender Recognition Panel, which requires evidence from a doctor or psychologist, over the past 18 months.

Georgina Fuller
Thursday, 09 November 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are: Counseling the Closeted

The cry of the childhood game of Hide 'n Seek could well be the motto of modern transgendria. You need to be OUT in order to further the community and being in the closet means you are fearful and ashamed. Only by being public and loud and proud can we throw off societal shackles and loose the chains of oppression. So don't let others do your part, sisters, join the crusade. The closet's for hangin' clothes not for hidin' souls! Say AMEN, sister!
Well, ummm, maybe. I agree that if TGs of all varieties simply hid everything about their identities we would remain forever downtrodden. But that's just obvious on the face of it. What the aforementioned--and fairly common--attitude neglects is the very personal and subjective nature of "coming out." The difficulty factor isn't the same for everyone due to differing circumstances and the fact that the need to be "out" differs depending on individual goals, hopes and dreams.
Now if you seek to be full time, well, you don't have a choice. You'll have to come out pretty much to everyone sooner or later. But what about the ambigendered (my term for us part-timers)? Are we really only in the closet because of fear, shame and sloth? I admit they are factors, but they aren't the full story.
Location makes a big difference. Living in a rural area limits one's options and increases challenges. For example, coming out in a small town increases the chances that the news will spread uncontrollably to virtually everyone. And obviously, any objective person would admit that some geographic areas are simply more tolerant than others.
And coming out doesn't just involve the TG's fears, particularly if they haves wives and/or children. If the wife has concerns (and face it, most do) about her husband crossdressing in public, then the TG has to decide whose issues get neglected and to what degree. There isn't a quick fix answer to this, but it certainly isn't helpful to simply suggest that coming out is nothing more than a matter of overcoming one's own fears. A married TG who wants to go out usually would prefer to come back in (at home), too, without too much damage to his family.
I'm trying not to be too critical with this as I think it is important for those who are out to encourage those who aren't. I agree that being out is a valuable experience both individually and communally, but the encouragement of this act of passage needs to be constructively presented. Any counseling will be most positively received if it includes assistance on helping the individual address marital and family issues, too. Indeed encouraging individuals to rush the process seems destructive and likely only to encourage the stereotypical view of us (i.e. that we are self-centered and obsessive).
Instead of sermons on getting over it and getting out, wouldn't it be a greater contribution to burnishing our public image if we all offered advice on how to leave the closet with consideration, grace and dignity?

Monday, November 06, 2006

N.Y. Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice

New York Times, November 7, 2006
N.Y. Plans to Make Gender Personal Choice

Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate even if they have not had sex-change surgery.

Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent.

Applicants would have to have changed their name and shown that they had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years, but there would be no explicit medical requirements.

"Surgery versus nonsurgery can be arbitrary," said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city’s health commissioner. "Somebody with a beard may have had breast-implant surgery. It’s the permanence of the transition that matters most."

If approved, the new rule would put New York at the forefront of efforts to redefine gender. A handful of states do not require surgery for such birth certificate changes, but in some of those cases patients are still not allowed to make the change without showing a physiological shift to the opposite gender.

In New York, the proposed change comes after four years of discussion among health officials, an eight-member panel of transgender experts and vital records offices nationwide. It is an outgrowth of the transgender community’s push to recognize that some people may not have money to get a sex-change operation, while others may not feel the need to undergo the procedure and are simply defining themselves as members of the opposite sex. While it may be a radical notion elsewhere, New York City has often tolerated such blurring of the lines of gender identity.

And the proposal reflects how the transgender movement has become politically potent beyond its small numbers, having roots in the muscular politics of the city’s gay rights movement.

Transgender advocates consider the New York proposal an overdue bulwark against discrimination that recognizes an emerging shift away from viewing gender as simply the sum of one’s physical parts. But some psychiatrists and doctors are skeptical of the move, saying sexual self-definition should stop at rewriting medical history.

"They should not change the sex at birth, which is a factual record," said Dr. Arthur Zitrin, a Midtown psychiatrist who was on the panel of transgender experts convened by the city. "If they wanted to change the gender for all the compelling reasons that they’ve given, it should be done perhaps with an asterisk."

The change would lead to many intriguing questions: For example, would a man who becomes a woman be able to marry another man? (Probably.) Would an adoption agency be able to uncover the original sex of a proposed parent? (Not without a court order.) Would a woman who becomes a man be able to fight in combat, or play in the National Football League? (These areas have yet to be explored.)

The Board of Health, which weighs recommendations drafted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is scheduled to vote on the proposal in December, and officials say they expect it to be adopted.

At the final public hearing for the birth certificate proposal last week, a string of advocates and transsexuals suggested that common definitions of gender, especially its reliance on medical assessments, should be abandoned. They generally praised the city for revisiting its 25-year-old policy that lets people remove the sex designation from their birth certificate if they have had sexual reassignment surgery. Then they demanded more freedom to choose.

Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said transgender people should not have to rely on affidavits from a health care system that tends to be biased against them. He said that many transgender people cannot afford sex-change surgery or therapy, and often do not consider it necessary.

Another person who testified, Mariah Lopez, 21, said she wanted a new birth certificate to prevent confusion, and to keep teachers, police officers and other authority figures from embarrassing her in public or accusing her of identity theft.

A few weeks ago, at a welfare office in Queens, Ms. Lopez said she included a note with her application for public assistance asking that she be referred to as Ms. when her turn for an interview came up. It did not work. The woman handling her case repeatedly addressed her as Mister.

"The thing is, I don’t even remember what it’s like to be a boy," Ms. Lopez said, adding that she received a diagnosis of transgender identity disorder at age 6. She asked to be identified as a woman for this article.

The eight experts who addressed the birth certificate issue strongly recommended that the change be made, for the practical reasons Ms. Lopez identified. For public health studies, people who have changed their gender would be counted according to their sex at birth.

But some psychiatrists said that eliminating identification difficulties for some transgender people also opened the door to unwelcome advances from imposters.

"I’ve already heard of a 'transgendered' man who claimed at work to be 'a woman in a man's body but a lesbian' and who had to be expelled from the ladies' restroom because he was propositioning women there," Dr. Paul McHugh, a member of the President's Council of Bioethics and chairman of the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in an e-mail message on the subject. "He saw this as a great injustice in that his behavior was justified in his mind by the idea that the categories he claimed for himself were all 'official' and had legal rights attached to them."

The move to ease the requirements for altering one’s gender identity comes after New York has adopted other measures aimed at blurring the lines of gender identification. For instance, a new shelter policy approved in January now allows beds to be distributed according to appearance, applying equally to postoperative transsexuals, cross-dressers and "persons perceived to be androgynous."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority also agreed last month to let people define their own gender when deciding whether to use the men’s or women’s bathrooms.

Joann Prinzivalli, 52, a lawyer for the New York Transgender Rights Organization, a man who has lived as a woman since 2000, without surgery, said the changes amount to progress, a move away from American culture’s misguided fixation on genitals as the basis for one’s gender identity.

"It’s based on an arbitrary distinction that says there are two and only two sexes," she said. "In reality the diversity of nature is such that there are more than just two, and people who seem to belong to one of the designated sexes may really belong to the other."

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Needful Beings

Allowing yourself to feel needful of your partner is simply an honest admission of your own fallability without becoming victim to it. While it is healthy to maintain a sense of personal independence, in this incarnation it is beneficial to allow one's self the company of another with whom they are compatible, not only physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. The secret is not perfect compatibility, but complimentary natures and perspectives.

Agreement in the essentials, not the details, is key. Those details which make up one's personal perspective on life's many complexities can actually become hindrances to communication within an intimate relationship, with the exception of a specifically agreed upon sharing, by the couple, of those details. In this particular instance it helps the couple to clarify and share those details within a open and non-judgemental environment they've established.

But, typically, on the emotional level, minor emotional inconsistencies do not need to be addressed at every turn, lest the overwhelming number of daily emotional adjustments create the illusion that the relationship is in turmoil. In fact, learning to navigate through the relative emotional minefield of an intimate relationship/partnership is a healthy habit to integrate, and will give each partner the ability to determine when the issue is truly something that needs to be addressed and when it just needs to be allowed it's time to play through. It is also beneficial in being able to determine when both partners are in syncronicity. This becomes very important in the sexual arena as well, since both must be able to express fully their desire for each other without inhibition.

The need for a single human being to communicate with another on an intimate level is often pervasive; yet, the human mind is infinitely complex in it's ability to compensate for such things as loneliness, pain, rejection, fear and other negative emotional responses which can derive from lost or poorly developed past relationships. Often times the building of emotional walls feels like the best solution against further harm, and the life one builds over time sheltered behind these barriers is solidified in the rationale for their continued existence.

Unfortunately, these same walls serve as a sometimes impenetrable defense against the intrusion of another in one's life, even when overtures are made of opening up to the other person. Unlike the physical walls we build around property, though, the walls we build within are living, emotional entities, parasitic by nature, yet capable of communication with their creator...the one who harbors them. They wish to exist as much as you or I, and will fight to maintain their place of importance, even to the eventual detriment of the person in which they reside.

The longer one maintains these defenses - insisting upon a life of singularity and solitary independence while opening intermittently to release the innate emotional desire for the company of another, but shutting the doors soon after such needs are satisfied - the more difficult it becomes for that person to progress into a committed relationship with another person.

Very few are willing, or equipped, for that matter, to attempt to navigate the difficulties presented by the walls which exist in their prospective partner. No matter how much love may have developed between the couple, the one who is so guarded will be inherently difficult to accommodate during the course of the developing relationship. The level of independence can be so high that the other partner will, no doubt, feel insignificant in the eyes of the one they love and begin to lose perspective on their role in the relationship itself.

It is imperative that the partner who is attempting to accommodate this behavior be self-contained. By this, I mean that they must be of the mind that their happiness cannot be dependent on such factors as the well-being of the relationship, the attention level of their partner, or any amount of satisfaction they are recieving within that same context. Their happiness must derive from within themselves in order to maintain stability in their own heart.

It is in this arena that the idea of need is most often misconstrued. Just as the "independent" partner often feels as if needing someone is an admission of personal weakness, so the stable partner is often stifled from expressing their need for fear of being percieved by their partner as someone who is co-dependent.

In truth, real, honest need is expressed in the understanding that a partner can be a grounding factor in one's life. They are a positive emotional outlet, a complimentary voice to your own, an honest opinion, a furtherance of your own perspective, and a source of light and hope during the difficult times we all face from time to time. They enhance our identity without becoming the sole expression of it; challenge us to grow beyond our singular experiential perspectives; offer us an often much needed sense of belonging.

~Alysyn Ayrica