Trans People Will Not Be Erased

For years our youngest showed us with behavior, until vocabulary & verbal skills broadened enough to tell us with words, “I’m not a boy.” From the age of two, while at home Charlie lived in older sister Kate’s hand-me-down princess gowns, dresses, and used ballet costumes. Even some of my old shirts and nightgowns — anything that felt like a dress.

All those years and all those opportunities, Charlie never once showed interest in playing with older brother Jack’s cars, trucks, legos, or superheroes. Instead, Charlie opted to spend hours in Kate’s room playing Barbies, Polly Pockets, and princess dress-up.

Because of my husband Matt’s and my own fears, we didn’t give Charlie the choice to wear “girly” stuff out in public until fourth grade, and even then, it was just a backpack: a glittery rainbow explosion of kittens, cupcakes, confetti, and hearts. I guess we just had to let go in baby steps.


That same year, Charlie started experimenting at school with wearing other “girls” stuff: rings, accessories, socks, shoes. When we realized this was genuinely what made our child the most comfortable and the happiest, we went shopping – just for Charlie – at the tween girls’ clothing store, Justice. That night in the dressing room I saw my child come to life. It brought me to tears.

I later wrote a thank you letter and posted it on social media, publicly. I wanted to thank the clothing store for an affirming experience in the wake of NC’s transphobic political climate with the recent March, 2016 passage of HB2, the “bathroom bill.” I had just started volunteering at my local LGBT Center, so I also wanted my community to know this was an LGBTQ-friendly store. That letter got shared many, many times, and resonated with people from all over the continent, much to my surprise.


My Charlie decided to socially transition (growing long hair, changing to all “girls” clothes, changing pronouns) throughout 5th grade to present more in line with their feminine gender identity… at a school and in a community where everyone knew Charlie as “a boy.” Matt & I stood in awe of this child who was willing to endure daily questioning, harassment, teasing, mocking, name-calling, and more, just for trying to live authentically.

It would’ve been easier to just regress or opt-out. But then again, despite the clothing, jewelry and accessories, this was still a feminine child. This had always been a feminine child, a child assigned male at birth who told me at just under 3 years old with wisdom much older, “Mommy, you know I’m only a boy because of my parts, right?”

This child always knew her/their gender identity (Charlie uses either pronoun, just no more ‘he/him’); it was the adults in Charlie’s life who didn’t. This child had known no differently than to be laughed at and mocked for trying to live authentically in this gender identity. Why go backwards — to a facade — now?



Today, The New York Times published an article titled ‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration. I first saw it on Twitter. Friends sent me the link over Facebook Messenger, texts, and email. Wanting to hear my thoughts. Making sure I was aware (I was — as a Mama Bear of a TGNC kid, you’re literally always on guard).

I’ve reflected on this all day today, trying to find the right words. I can’t. I don’t have the words. I’m not surprised. Just continually dumbfounded by the people who persist in supporting this bully-in-chief, this bully in the highest government office who wants to roll back the basic civil rights of marginalized people — people who will in no way affect his own life whatsoever. What is it that he and his cult following are so damn afraid of? (Rhetorical question.)

Suffice it to say, my child has already endured a lifetime of harassment and bullying for being a “girly boy” (one of the nicer phrases used) before socially transitioning to present more in line with her/their gender identity. But the LGBTQ community — among other minority communities — has been under constant fear of attack since the beginning of the 45th administration. We’ve always known that; this Trumpian brand of politics as a bully pulpit is nothing new. And yet, it seems we sink to a new low every day.

However, what everyone should also know is that this ‘memo’ or any subsequent guidance or legislation from the 45th administration will not eliminate the precedents set by numerous federal courts over the last two decades, which all affirm the full rights & identities of transgender people.

Whatever the 45th administration chooses to say or do next against the TGNC community is not going to undo the unanimity of consensus among medical & mental health providers and scientists around the world who see and know and work with trans people, and who write position statements outlining their affirmation, urging everyone to accept trans people for who they are. No rule, no guideline, no administration can ever erase the experiences of the trans community, their families and their loved ones.

Transgender people are the strongest, most resilient people I’ve ever met. Unfortunately, they are very accustomed to holding their heads high in a society that continually refuses to respect them, or to even see them. This is just another blip in the road, but it still hurts like hell. That said, trans people will not be erased, and especially not by a three-ring-circus masquerading as a government administration.

If you don’t like this freefall to autocracy that American society currently finds itself in, then by all means, you must vote. If you want to find out more about your state’s legal protections for LGBTQ people and their families, visit here at Lambda Legal. If you believe in civil rights and social progress, you must vote blue, no matter who. You can even find out which local candidates are endorsed here by Human Rights Campaign. If you want to learn more about transgender people, visit here at National Center for Transgender Equality. Vote like our democracy depends on it, because it really does, especially this midterm election cycle.

RT: #TransPeopleWillNotBeErased

Martie Sirois, she/her. Mother. Writer. Speaker. Founder. Ally. Advocate. 

Brett Kavanaugh Is Not A Victim

When your air conditioning dies during late September in the south – a time when the air should have a crisp bite like Gala apples, and the leaves should be starting to turn amber, but there’s global warming – you have time on your hands and an excuse to do nothing but sit in front of a fan and catch up on all the TV you’ve been missing. For me, that amounted to Friday, September 28th’s nine hour spectacle, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s recent allegations of sexual assault, televised live from the Dirksen Senate Office Building. 

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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

I finally finished watching both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh as they each gave testimony. For yet another dark and troubling moment in American history – one of too many lately – this time, our beacon of light and hope was a sort of ‘everywoman,’ the strong, brave woman to whom females everywhere could relate. In response to her sexual assault, she did everything right – about as perfect as damn near possible, given the times and circumstances. She presented as unassuming, polite, friendly and accommodating, the proverbial girl-next-door type. She represented all the things we’re supposed to be as women, yet she was still excoriated and criticized on the world’s stage. 

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford did not want to be there. It’s bad enough to be a victim of sexual assault; it’s an entirely different level of hell to relive that nightmare, let alone to be re-victimized before the scrutiny of older white men and a national audience. Dr. Ford didn’t want to be there, but she came anyway, because she felt it was her civic duty.

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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford being sworn in for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

She had nothing to gain and everything to lose, but she came anyway, and she was a good sport. In fact, she was a hero. Because Friday, while stating “I’m nobody’s pawn” and letting the world bear witness to her testimony, she alone set a new precedent for decades to come. Unlike many victims of sexual assault, Dr. Ford refused to let her assailant from 35 years ago silence her, and in so doing, history will remember her well. 

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh shouts at Senators during the Sept. 28, 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

 

Conversely, from the moment Judge Brett Kavanaugh arrogantly strutted into the Judiciary Committee hearing room, the mask came off. Along with many other women in America, I immediately felt my hackles go up, uncomfortable with the thought of this man being appointed for a lifetime position on the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Maybe it was the odd way he took time to meticulously arrange the scant mess of papers on the table, his name card, and other objects ‘just so.’ Maybe it was the way he slammed open his notebook, or yanked the pages audibly as if to assert who was boss. Or maybe it was the way that, from the get-go, he began yelling belligerently at the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ted Bundy when sentenced to death a third time

A rare moment of uncontrolled anger captured during the trial of Ted Bundy

Whatever it was in those first moments, I couldn’t help but see the face of Ted Bundy. The notorious serial killer who raped and brutally murdered at least 30 women had also famously let his mask slip once, while acting as his own defense attorney in court. Reportedly, after his conviction he sprung to his feet shouting, “Tell the jury they were wrong!” when moments before he had been calm, cool and collected, thus showing the the world a glimpse of his erratic and uncloaked narcissistic rage. It was a hard image to put aside, a stark contrast to his well-educated yet genteel charm, and women across the nation were uneasy as they felt they had perhaps witnessed the same menacing ire that each of his female victims saw in their final moments.

When Ted Bundy was finally caught and put on trial in 1979 for the brutal slayings of two female students from the Chi Omega sorority house in Tallahassee, Florida, I could never wrap my head around the irony of the women who supported him. There were literal rows of women – his “groupies” – who showed up at the courthouse for his trial, starstruck and punchdrunk, lusting, drooling over him as they presented themselves dressed just like his victims. It never occurred to them that he was actually guilty, or that if it were a different month or day, any one of them might’ve been next.

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Similarly, on Friday, women across 2018 America took to Twitter and social media during Kavanaugh’s hearing to gush. They felt sorry for him. They found his performance believable, heartbreaking, even. They victim blamed, saying Dr. Ford must’ve had a case of mistaken identity. They argued there was no way she could accurately remember the details of this event that had happened 35 years ago. Though, I doubt women who say these things understand the psychology of emotion and memories, or how a high-stress state like Dr. Ford experienced “alters the function of the hippocampus and puts it into a super-encoding mode,” thus ensuring extremely emotional or traumatic events are burned into our brains harder than anything else. 

Women even excused Kavanaugh’s allegations by saying how much trouble we’d all be in if we were judged by our high school behaviors from 35 years ago. Again, the irony seemed over the heads of women making these statements. The majority of us who have embarrassing pasts from high school that we’d like to forget are also not attempting to gain an appointment of lifetime tenure on the Supreme Court of the United States. Perhaps what struck me the most, though, was how many women looked at this hearing and saw an “innocent man” who was “unjustly accused,” whose life had been “ruined” by one “reckless accusation.”

“All that man’s hard work and dedication… the American dream, dying. All for nothing,” one person wrote. 

Let me be clear, here:

Brett Kavanaugh is not the face of the American Dream, dying. 

Sure, he said he “worked his butt off” to get into Yale and that he had “no connections there” to help him get in. But a Google search into his past quickly reveals that most kids don’t grow up like Brett Kavanaugh, who was born into a life steeped with privilege.

Kavanaugh was born white, cis/het, American, the son of married parents in a wealthy household. His mother was a teacher and later a Maryland state Circuit Court judge. His father was an attorney, and head of the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association for two decades. Young Brett grew up very comfortably in the suburbs, lived in a stable home, and attended one of the most expensive private boarding schools in the country, Georgetown Prep, with a current price tag of over $60,000 a year. An elite, all-boys private school, Georgetown Prep, was then – and now – known for its hypermasculine culture and proclivity for heavy drinking. 

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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, during an emotional moment in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing

While Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave a calm, quiet but visibly painful and difficult testimony, Judge Brett Kavanaugh dodged questions and sneered with contempt. While Dr. Ford modeled the very definition of being “collegial” and accommodating, Judge Kavanaugh mocked the process, barely contained his acrimony, and acted inconvenienced over the possibility of being so much as held accountable. 

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Judge Brett Kavanaugh stared with contempt at Democratic Senators during the Judiciary Committee hearing

From the start, Brett Kavanaugh painted himself as the virtuous victim caught up in a “circus” atmosphere of uncorroborated sexual assault allegations. During the hearing, his outward behavior cycled at warp speed between incredulous narcissistic rage, petulance, and callow weeping. If it wasn’t overtly obvious he was crying tears of self-pity, he removed any doubt by repeating his disdain over the loss of his “good name.” 

Kavanaugh touted his youth activities, academic and professional accolades as if they were concrete evidence of integrity and good moral character. But the disrespect he showed to Senator Amy Klobuchar, after her reasonable, rational question, gave us all we needed to know to understand the character of Brett Kavanaugh. That moment was particularly disgraceful and disgusting – behavior not at all befitting a SCOTUS nominee. 

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Brett Kavanaugh sneered and barked at Senators during the Judiciary Committee hearing

 

That Kavanaugh – or anyone within Donald Trump’s orbit – has the gall to act like a beseiged underdog is laughable. Anyone who accepts an offer or position to work under Trump knows exactly what they are getting into. I certainly hope by now that everybody understands who Donald Trump is and what kind of controversy he brings and surrounds himself with. Anyone who does business with him, works for him, or is appointed by him should not be surprised by the three ring circus they find themselves entrapped in. For Kavanaugh to lash out and attack “the Democrats” for his own demise, or to turn a powerful sexual assault survivor’s story into a partisan political attack is preposterous. 

Brett Kavanaugh is not a victim. Brett Kavanaugh is a man privileged in every possible way. Brett Kavanaugh is someone who, on luck alone, hit the jackpot of American high society rather than someone who did the hard work and bootstraps pulling that constitutes the American dream. Brett Kavanaugh, throughout his hearing, appeared to be a man who thinks he’s not only entitled, but also, that he’s owed even more. He may still get confirmed, yet he’s acting as if the possibility of not achieving SCOTUS status, but merely remaining on the second highest American federal court, would be destitution – a calamity. Brett Kavanaugh is not a victim; he’s a grown man behaving like a spoiled child when faced with the possibility that he might not get his way for the first time, ever. 

 

 

Welcome To America

Thinking about the fate of the future often worries me. Honestly, the best way to describe the condition (and reputation) of our nation right now is with a pretty outdated, but perfectly accurate term:

Hot Mess.

My generation knows this phrase, despite its evolution in meaning over the years. But for the older folks who might be reading and are unfamliar with “hot mess,” here’s a definition, courtesy Urban Dictionary: Continue reading

Fox News: The Republican & Trump Propaganda Network

Fox News fair and balanced logoFox News. Remember when their slogan was: 

“Fair and Balanced” ?

Seems like yesterday. But when Fox News founder Roger Ailes was fired in 2016, that slogan was fired also (or, shelved as a marketing tool). In its place, a new slogan emerged:

“Most Watched, Most Trusted.”  

Fox News most watched newer logo

 

Well, at least the newer slogan is true — halfway true, that is.

While Fox may still be hanging on as the “most watched” TV news right now, others like MSNBC are not far behind. However, Fox is not the most trusted news source. In fact, as of April 2018, Fox News was less trusted than CNN and MSNBC. I guess if you slant Fox’s new slogan so that it reads, Most Watched, Most Trusted (By Those Who Watch It), then it would reflect a more completely accurate statement. Personally, I’d prefer a slogan like “Fox News: The Republican & Trump Propaganda Network.” I mean, let’s call a spade a spade… Well, a girl can wish.  Continue reading