Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Susan Stanton, the Hate Bandwagon and good ol' fashioned B.O.D.

I was recently made aware of an article from the St Petersburg Times written by Lane DeGregory. This article, addressing the preceding year in the life of Susan Stanton, the City of Largo FL's former city manager. Some will remember Ms Stanton being very publicly outed as transgendered and subsquently dismissed.

Well, this is where the firestorm took off. Fueled from the residual anger over the ENDA debacle, and I suspect a fair amount of fustration with the HRC, many transfolk proceded to attack Susan Stanton's position, as described by this article. What I found most troubling was not the instant call to express this disapproval. It was the lack of respect shown towards her by not hearing her side, in her own words.

Ms Stanton finally did reply to this article on her personal webpages by writing this

I'm willing, after reading both items, to give the benefit of the doubt to Susan Stanton. In my opinion, the issue at hand is NOT what Susan thinks, it's her candid explanation of what she believes the general public's and most politican's views are.
That belief is that the population at large and many politicans see transgender Americans as "men in dresses".

In specific she wrote
"Contrary to the St. Petersburg Times article, I do not see members of the transgender community as “men wearing dresses.” However, I do feel there is a fundamental misunderstanding by the general public that being transgender is simply a matter of men wanting to “dress up as women.” Most people do not understand the medical nature of being a transgender and therefore cannot understand the need or justification for non-discrimination protection in employment and housing."

The St Petersburg times article stated this, to which she was addressing.

"Susan has met hundreds of other people like her. She was among the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people lobbying for a law that would make it illegal for others to discriminate against them.

But Susan has said all along that she's not like other transgender people. She feels uncomfortable even looking at some, "like I'm seeing a bunch of men in dresses."

Eventually, she decided it was too early for transgender people to be federally protected. People need more time, more education, she says. "The transgender groups boo me, now, when I speak. Isn't that ironic?

"But I don't blame the human rights groups from separating the transgender people from the protected groups. Most Americans aren't ready for us yet," Susan says. Transgender people need to be able to prove they're still viable workers -- especially in the mainstream.

"The biggest issue against the federal legislation is that politicians think the ladies' rooms will be invaded by guys in drag," Susan says, "instead of someone like me."

Is she off base with her perception? She does have the experience of a very public firing, lobbying of Congress for the passage of ENDA and has been a fairly active speaker in the last 12 months. More qualified than I. This leans me towards extending her the B.O.D. Benefit of the Doubt.

In my humble opinion, she is right. The general public is not informed as to the true nature of transgenderism. And until they are, we'll continue to suffer public ridicule, the defeats of anti-discrimination bills, and even worse, our own in fighting.

What are WE to do about it?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Surround Yourself With Love

In our everyday life we are surrounded by a variety of people. Some of the people we deal with on a daily basis are a joy to be with, and their loving presence nurtures and encourages us. Others may have the opposite effect, draining us of our energy, making us feel tired and exhausted. Our well-being can be easily influenced by those around us, and if we can keep this in mind, we will have greater insights into the quality of our social interactions and their energetic effect on us.

Once we think more deeply about the people we interact with, it becomes easier for us to work toward filling our lives with people who help us cultivate healthy and positive relationships. Even though it might not always seem like we have much control over who we are with, we do. The power to step back from toxicity lies within us. All we have to do is take a few moments to reflect on how another person makes you feel. Assessing the people we spend the most time with allows us to see if they add something constructive to, or subtract from, our lives. Should a friend sap our strength, for example, we can simply set the intention to tell them how we feel or simply spend less time with them.

We will find that the moment we are honest with ourselves about our own feelings, the more candid we can be with others about how they make us feel. While this may involve some drastic changes to our social life it can bring about a personal transformation that will truly empower us, since the decision to live our truth will infuse our lives with greater happiness.

When we surround ourselves with positive people, we clear away the negativity that exists around us and create more room to welcome nurturing energy. Doing this not only enriches our lives but also envelopes us in a supportive and healing space that fosters greater growth, understanding, and love of ourselves as well as those we care about.

Much love and happy 2008,
Michele Angelique

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Demonstrating Respect

Do you know someone Transgender? This is a tip guide I have made for parents, relatives, friends, professionals and supporters, that will help to assit you in demonstrating respect towards a Transgender individual.

No matter where you find your own personal level of understanding or comfort level of Transgender people, if you following these simple and basic principals, you can show respect and make the Transgender person in your life feel that you DO care, and are trying to understand them, which in turn can be the foundation for building and restoring bridges and lines of communication toward healing, harmony and love.
For professionals, learning to properly show respect and making sure other employees do as well, can mean the difference between a productive work environment, and losing ones own job - possibly being sued, too!

Remember that your actions and words about or toward someone Transgender, will set a tone as the example for others on how they should act – especially children and teenagers. Showing dignity and speaking intelligently can be infectious on others around you, by spreading knowledge and promoting unity throughout the world.

Trans-Dignity 101

Demonstrate respect for Transgender people by using their correct "chosen" name and the correct pronouns which match the gender for which the TG has requested to be identified as, regardless of their outside physical or verbal identity being presented, regardless of your own personal opinions or religious moral values. 
Remember: It’s not about you – it’s about showing respect!
Example: If Bob asks to be called Betty, respect “Betty’s” wishes even if Betty still looks like, or wears Bob’s Clothes. 
Each Transgender person is unique in their gender variance and or presentation: If in doubt, ask: “How would you prefer me to address you now?

Old habits are hard to break – Transgender people know and understand this; making a mistake and calling someone by the wrong name or pronoun is ok, so long as you are quick and sincere in your attempt to correct the error.
Effort is what is appreciated!
Show by your demeanor that you ARE sincere. Let the Transgender person know that you acknowledge respect their request and do know the correct way they would prefer to be identified in their chosen gender by correcting yourself with the new name and pronoun.
These habits are hard to break but will only change if YOU make the effort to try. 
It is understandable that you may be confused or even uncomfortable with these changes.
Understand, this is your issue. Not theirs.
Changing your atitude, or the way you treat someone [because they are Transgender] based on your confusion, discomfort, or differing morals, values or religious beliefs, is bigotry - and it is wrong. 

Many people change their first, middle and even last names everyday, and we respect these request without question. Why should a Transgender persons request to change their name (or even their gender) be any different?
A Transgender person that corrects you for not saying the correct name or gender pronoun, is not out of line by correcting you - but it is understandable how this may make you feel embarrassed or feel threatened - don't be. Its a simple mistake.

Understand YOU are doing ALL of the following to a Transgendered person when you rebuke or deliberately ignore their request to be identified and acknowledged by their new name and pronouns:
Slandering: You are legally and mentally causing damages both personal, finical and professional when you cause confusion in their lives by calling someone by the wrong name or gender.
Endangering: Like any minority, you can be unknowingly endangering both the Transgendered person, their kids, family, co-workers, and friends by attracting hate crimes of attack or retaliation from bigoted and religious individuals who seek to fire, ostracize from church, schools and neighborhoods, harm and even KILL Transgendered people and those who associate with them. 
Abusive: Mental and physical pain is suffered by Transgender person from the traumatizing effects of having to deal with crushing, ridged and narrow minded statements like being constantly referred to as something they are not. It is painful and humiliating to Transgender people to be called by their former name or gender or to be referred to in the wrong pronoun. To do so purposely is abusive and arguably negligible to the mental and physical well being of a Transgender individual. 
Perpetuating hate and discord: Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is it your goal to hurt and humiliate someone you love and; care for or are friends with; for that matter to anyone for any reasons?
  • Is it your goal to create animosity, stir rumors and road block any attempt at harmony, education and peace between you, the family or work environment which involves a Transgendered person?
  • Is it YOUR way or NO way? Are you being a bully for no reasons at all, except out of your ignorance?

What are YOU afraid of?
  • Being hit on, molested, attacked, or even bitten on the neck?
  • Catching “Transgender” cooties?
  • Offending God by "participating" in what you believe is someone else's delusions?

Consider this:

Many great philosophers have offered wisdom for the ages, but we need look no further than the great Yoda from the movie Star Wars when he said:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

How can you help?

These are a few of the more important aspects that if adhered to, will serve to promote healing, harmony and love.

Act immediately when you hear negative comments among friends, family, Co-workers neighbors and children. Do not ignore it and do not use negative comments yourself. 

Incorporate lessons of showing respect into other relationships such as extended family when discussing Transgender issues or people.

Practice asking respectful questions before a Transgender comes to visit . Preview respectful behavior among other guests, family, co-workers before the visitor comes. 

Privately help others to understand and avoid negative or patronizing language.

Handle conflicts by listening, thinking, staying calm, and reaching thoughtful solutions that are confirming to the Transgender person and does not compromise their gender identity.

Model fairness in all your dealings with Transgender people where their gender identify may be of concern. 

Help Transgender individuals to build their self respect. Some may feel inadequate and/or unattractive because they cannot proceed or travel as quickly in their journey of transition because of financial or medical restrictions. 

Compartmentalize your feelings: Remember not to use someone’s Transgender issues as the trump card for all that is wrong in your's or other's lives. Being Transgender is not the root of all evil. You can show respect and promote harmony by increasing lines of communication by focusing on “the issue” at hand and not dismissing the issue simply because you wish to play the Transgender card.

Participate and support.
The most important aspect of demonstrating dignity is to be supportive to a Transgender person in their journey. Transgender individuals take steps at different paces that will fluctuate depending on the support levels given around them, and other various things like financial means and geographical location, to name a few.  
Road blocking, gate-keeping, ignoring or degrading an individual that is Transgender says more about you, than them. Again, ITS NOT ABOUT YOU. You may not agree with their choice, but neither they nor you stopped being human. 
It is also important to remember that being Transgender is NOT a choice – its "self preservation" of one who is born in the wrong body.

Get additional help by attending counseling and seeking answers from professions that deal specifically with Transgender related issues.

Mission of Dignity
Dignity is not something that need be earned or with held, rather it is an inherit right to all of Gods creatures and a demand put upon us by the Lord to show one another.

Thank you for taking the time to read and understand a bit more about we the Transgendered.
I invite you to please leave a comment here in this Blog to promote discussion and offer additional insights on how we can continue a mission of dignity.

Related article on "WikiHow": How to Respect a Transgendered Person

Updates: 01/13/2008, 10/22/2011