Time for a Potty Break

It happens to me time and time again…

I’m out in public, at the mall, at a social event, buying groceries…when it happens.

I have to pee. (Cue dramatic music)

I feel the panic rising in my chest as I determine the level of urgency of my body. And then I barter with myself…

b4b20fe235d8dc82955bfc3263a73724How bad is it, really? Can you hold it until you get home? Is there a single stall bathroom nearby? How busy are the bathrooms? Maybe you should just hold it until you get home. You really don’t have that much longer to go…

I’ve cut shopping trips short…I’ve held it in far longer than what’s healthy…I’ve fought anxiety…all over using the public restroom.

I’ve written about this before. But with all of the bills that are being introduced around the country, I feel like it needs to be brought up again. Because now things are different.

A bounty has been placed on the heads of transgender individuals around the country. A monetary value has been given to each member of the trans community.

$2,500. These bills aren’t new. Kansas is just the latest state to propose such a bill.122z2v

$2,500 for every trans person caught ‘using the wrong bathroom’. Students being tempted to turn in classmates to earn that $2,500. I can see it now.

“Sally, you have only 3 more transgenders to catch before you’ve earned enough money to pay for college. Danny, you’ve only caught 2 transgenders. You’re going to have to step it up if you want that new car you’ve been eyeing…”

It’s entirely hypocritical. Many of these same people are against any kind of gun law – saying that by putting laws into place only hurt those law abiding citizens; that criminals will still have their guns. Yet somehow, putting a law in place banning trans people from using the appropriate public restroom will prevent men from entering the women’s room and sexually assaulting them.

The reaction to these RFRA and bathroom bills have been intense, as expected. There’s been a movement of trans men and women who “pass”, taking their pictures inside the restrooms they’ll be forced to use based on ‘chromosome’ and ‘biological’ gender. And I get it…these bills are absurd, claiming that allowing trans individuals to use the bathroom they should be using (i.e. the one that they see fit to use) will somehow open the door to men sexually assaulting women in restrooms.

#wejustneedtopee is all over Twitter. And I was all for these movements…I got excited and wanted to respond in kind (even though I don’t see myself as all that masculine most days). At least at first.

trans-restroomI understood #wejustneedtopee. After all, how do you fight the absurd idea that “allowing” me to use the men’s room would somehow result in men raping women in public restrooms? You fight it with more absurdity. Show pictures of bearded, burly trans men in women’s restrooms and curvy, busty trans women in men’s rooms, right?

I was wrong. While these are indeed pictures of the absurdity these laws are implying, they’re leaving out some important groups of people. It’s not people like Buck Angel or Adain Dowling or Laverne Cox who need to worry. The trans men and trans women who “pass” – they won’t be questioned when it comes to using the restroom. Those who are non-binary or gender non-conforming or who don’t “pass” are the ones these bills target.

It’s clear the bathroom bills are poorly disguised attempts at targeted discrimination towards the trans community – specifically towards trans women. Non-binary and non-conforming individuals are caught in this too. The fear-mongering by Republicans has the potential to incite violence against the trans community, and if you don’t present as a masculine male or as a feminine female, then you’d better take a self-defense course.

And the politicians are using a very real, valid issue to gain support for these bills – rape.

These same political asshats are the ones who want to defund Planned Parenthood. They’re the same fools who claim that “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” They’re the same douchebags who blame the victims of sexual assault and rape because they must have done something to provoke or confuse or entice the attacker.

Don’t be fooled. The states that have ‘bathroom of choice’ have reported a zero increase in sexual assaults and rapes in public restrooms. That’s right – all of this fear is completely unfounded. Surprise! In fact, during the first 6 months of 2015, more transgender individuals (overwhelmingly trans women of color) were murdered than in the entire year of 2014.States-transgender-law-2

I dare say cisgender women have very little to fear in public restrooms.

Yes, #wejustneedtopee – all of us. #IllGoWithYou is a start. I know we’ll see many more lawsuits than the one challenging North Carolina’s newly signed law. But in the meantime, don’t cater to the gender stereotypes by taking pictures of yourself in the restroom. It ignores the real issue at hand – the targeting of trans women and non-binary individuals. Instead, use the passing privilege you have to help cisgender folk understand that we all need to pee, and that’s exactly what we plan on doing when we walk into a public restroom.

To me, this is the only debate that needs to take place in regards to bathrooms…

TP-over-under

***A couple of footnotes…

First, I dislike using the term “passing” because it serves to reinforce gender stereotypes. I myself am a binary trans man, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is binary, nor should they be forced to conform to a binary. I use the term “passing” in this blog post because it best fits for the scenario – those supporting this discrimination against the trans community are using these ideas of an oversimplified idea of what it means to be male or female, and in the eyes of society at large, at least in regards to these bills, the binary is what this is all based on. (for those of you unclear to the term – ‘passing’ refers to a transgender individual’s appearance and ability to ‘blend in’ as a cisgender male or female)

Second, when I say the ‘transgender community’ I’m including non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals simply for brevity. My intent is not to erase the existence of non-binary and non-conforming individuals.

How does one measure courage?

How does one measure courage?
Is an Iraqi war veteran more courageous than a child fighting cancer?
Is an amputee more courageous than someone who hasn’t lost a limb?
Is an athlete more courageous than a single mother?

If so, then who is the most courageous one of all?

We cannot measure courage. Comparing scars does nothing. Your battle is different than mine, and mine is different than theirs. Our scars don’t exist to be compared. They exist to show strength. My scars show battles I’ve won, battles unique to me. And when something is unique, there is nothing to compare it to.

Our journeys through life are unique. Each step we take has not ever been taken, by anyone, before. Similar paths have been traversed, and recognizable steps have been taken, but everything you do, is unique because you do it.

It takes courage to come out, whether it be out of the closet or out of your gender, and knowing the world could hate you for it. It takes courage to go off to war, knowing you might not come back home. It takes courage to lay in a hospital bed while toxic chemicals are pumped into you, fighting off an enemy you cannot see.

Are any of these things more courageous than the other? No. They’re all different, unique struggles and battles that take individual strength to endure. No single action can be called the most courageous action, and to try to compare such actions has the potential to invalidate the struggle that each individual has gone through.

You cannot measure courage by comparing your actions to those actions of others. You can only compare yourself to past selves, and take pride in what you’ve done, how far you’ve come, and what battles you’ve won.

Oppressor or Activist? Turns out, I’ve been both…and more.

I am an oppressor. I am an accomplice. I am an ally. I am an activist.

I have kept silent while others have made jokes about someone’s weight. I’ve felt my blood boil as someone made a racist remark, or said something derogatory about the trans community, but I kept my mouth shut.

Why? The reasons are endless – maybe some part of me thought it was true, or I didn’t feel like getting into an argument that day, or I knew if I spoke up, it wouldn’t do any good. The reasons don’t matter, though.resist_oppression_communism_will_prevail_india_revolution_operation_green_hunt_cpimaoist

Sometimes someone will make a comment about the weight of someone we both know, making a joke or some off-handed remark, I laugh along with them, while I should have, could have, said something, not in defense of their object of fun, but in response to the inappropriateness of the comment. Instead, I commented as well, not wanting to seem “weird” or “awkward” by going against the norm.

I am an oppressor.

black-tape-mouth-shut-no-speaking-700x45_660If I’m at work, where the majority of my co-workers are heterosexual and all of them, save me, are cisgender, I keep my mouth shut about many things. I haven’t officially come out at work, and so when I talk about being trans, or the trans community, I speak in hushed tones, not making eye contact, keeping my head down, as if the words I’m saying are something I should be ashamed of. When people use the word ‘tranny’, I cringe internally, but respond with “Yeah, I don’t see the big deal…” My silence is as dangerous as the loud voices of the bigots and discriminators.

I am an accomplice.

I am not proud of these situations. Because I should have stepped in and said it was wrong. I should have made it abundantly clear that their attitudes and opinions were their own to have, and solely their own to have. I didn’t. And I regret that.tumblr_m5ixrhNjhD1rpy84ao1_500

I went with Mira to a Lady Parts Justice rally. I was there to support her, but now because of the inspiring acts of the women that spoke and performed, I’ve been inspired, and I really want to speak at the next rally, to the importance of allies in the fight against the patriarchy telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  Because if we do not stand alongside women, if we do not stop the regulation over their bodies by men who claim to know what’s best but essentially just want to dominate and put women “in their place”, then we all are subject to the repercussions of such a loss.

I am an ally.

During the last lame duck session in Michigan, there was a movement to change the Elliot Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA for short), to include sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. There was another splinter group that thought it best to only include sexual orientation, and come back to revise the law later to encompass gender identity and expression. Years ago, I would have totally been all for the ‘half a pizza’ argument.

activistNot anymore, and not just because I’m now a part of the LGBT that has historically ended up without any slice of pizza, but because it’s simply wrong. And because of this, I went to a few ELCRA rallies, I went to TDOR (Transgender Day of Remembrance), and I want to speak out against the injustices faced by the trans community, a community I am a part of, and one that I fully embrace.

I am an activist.

I play all of these roles at varying times. When I identified as a lesbian and I fought for equality – I was an activist for the L and G, and an oppressor to the T. The B wasn’t even a concern, because in my head, they were simply confused. That has all obviously changed, for the better. I don’t want to ever play the role of the oppressor, and I think it’s even worse to play the role of the accomplice. Having the knowledge I do from my brilliant and insightful girlfriend, Mira, and my other activist friends, I’m learning when to recognize oppressive behaviors and attitudes in which I act as an accomplice.

Self awareness is just as important as self confidence. Being aware of my actions and words is just as important as saying them in the first place. I’m still going to screw up. But I will be aware of my missteps, and I will not silence my voice. If I am not empowering, I am oppressing, and I am contributing to the reason why equality has not yet been achieved.

If I don’t use the power I have from the privileges I have to raise up both the marginalized groups I belong to and those I do not belong to, then I am failing not only as an ally, but as an activist.

Everyone has some kind of privilege. It may not be obvious at first, but you know that saying – “There’s always someone worse off than you” – it’s true, and those who are “worse off” are most likely part of a marginalized group you do not belong to. If you have a place to live – then you can be an ally for the homeless, and use your privilege of stability of a roof over your head to help advocate for housing the homeless and providing them with an opportunity to achieve the same level of safety and stability you have.

If you are cisgender, you can ally yourself with the trans community, and use the power of being cisgender (and yes, you do have power, because you have privilege) in circles to support the trans community when the trans community is not represented.

I’m working on being an ally. I want to be a better ally. I feel I have the tools and the knowledge and the support to be a better ally.

Because it’s not always about my story.

How about you?

1bbb565

Realizing My Role Models

I’ve written about wanting to be that rock that creates ripples in water. I’ve pointed out the fact that there aren’t a lot of visible trans men in role model positions, or at least are not readily accessible via media without already knowing who you’re looking for or sifting through Google results.

I’ve also written about my struggles with my lack of dysphoria, and how I didn’t think I was trans, because I wasn’t miserable, despite the nagging voice in my head trying to convince me otherwise.

Mira, my partner (who has her own, wonderful blog) asked me who my role models were. I stumbled, I fumbled for words. I responded with,

“I don’t really have any.”

and then I wondered why. Which led me down a path of reflection, and so in this blog post, I want to thank the men who have been in my life, and whether they realized it or not, have taught me some incredibly valuable lessons on both manhood and acceptance.

First, I want to thank my friend Erik, a wonderful guy with a wonderful wife and a wonderful son (who will also grow up into a wonderful guy because of his father). Erik is the living definition of an ally. He has taught me what it means to be an ally. His words in support of who I am makes me less fearful that I’ll be rejected by manhood as I transition.

He’s living in Denmark now, navigating a new plane of existence. But when he was here, he threw a couple of “Man Parties.” And no, they were not misogynistic guyfests. In fact, it was more about the craft beer than talking about women. I remember him sending me a message on Facebook, saying he didn’t want to be a jerk the first time around, but that he thought I was one of the coolest people around and he wanted me to come to the second party. Maybe he saw something there that I hadn’t seen yet, because at that time I was still identifying as a butch lesbian, but regardless, the message touched me and still brings tears to my eyes.

Erik is unconditional in his friendship, and in his support. I’d see so many times when he would comment on an LGBT story, stating his anger over the injustice done to a community that he was not a part of, but allied himself with. Erik, you were my first “bro”, and I thank you for showing me that I can be a man without attaching all that baggage to the word. And thank you for simply accepting me as I am, without making me define myself to you.

Next, is my friend Brian. I met Brian several years ago. He welcomed me into his house and quite honestly, into his family. I work with his wife, and she’s just as amazing as he is. Brian has shown me that you can love with emotion, and it’s okay. He and his wife are madly, endlessly in love, and because of them, I know what love is supposed to look like, and I’ve found that. Brian has always seen me as me, and has even threatened to smack me upside the head when I’ve made a ridiculously dumb decision. He’s been somewhat of a father figure to me, showing me that love and emotion are okay in manhood.

Brian has shown me that I can be a man without showing that machismo. That manhood can be full of understanding and love and family without compromising masculinity. Thank you, Brian, for showing me that manhood can be defined by subtle masculinity and strong love. Thank you for showing me that emotions don’t take away from, but add to, the definition of a man.

To my friend Greg. I know we only met a while ago and even then it was for a handful of hours, but in those hours you taught me a lot. You taught me that standing behind the woman you love doesn’t make you less of a man, but rather, lifts both of you to a place of understanding and respect. You showed me that being a male feminist is actually a thing, and that you don’t have to emasculate yourself to do so. You showed me that being an ally does not mean you speak for others, but with them, and never louder than them. You taught me that respect for women is something that comes naturally, and is not only the right way, but the only way to love.

To Jessie, a fellow trans man – thank you for showing me what strength in character is. And thank you for showing me that compromising who you are is never an option. I look forward to this journey with you, and I’m really proud to know you. Same goes for you, Nico. You were my first trans “bro”, and hold a special place of friendship with me. You’ve helped to show me that struggles can be overcome. You’ve also helped me to look for the good in everyone, regardless of any biases or preconceptions I weigh myself down with.

These are the men in my life. Some have been there for a fleeting moment, others for years. But you all have taught me that a man, by his own virtue, can define his own manhood. And because of you, I am molding my own definition of manhood – one that will hopefully, eventually, negate the baggage that comes with the concept.

So in answer to Mira’s question – it turns out I do have role models. None of them grace the big screen, or have won Nobel Peace prizes. But when I look at how I want to model my life as a trans man, these are the men I turn to.

And on the flip-side, something else I’ve learned, mostly through the help of Mira – is that not all of my role models must be male. It’s not a requirement that men should only have male role models. Having female role models is not only not going to reduce my ability to call myself a man, but it’s something that is necessary, as men are not the only creatures with qualities I want to model.

So, to Laura, you welcomed me in as family, and you’ve taught me that mansplaining is wrong. Always. You’ve taught me how to stand up for myself in subtle ways that leave a lasting impact. You’ve taught me that in the end, if I’m not happy, then I need to change something. You’ve let me know that it’s been okay to screw up and make stupid decisions, and you’ve told me “I told you so.” in ways that didn’t make me feel lesser, but respected. Thank you for never making me feel ridiculous or useless.

To Paige, for navigating your way in a male dominated industry, and becoming a force to be reckoned with. I have the utmost respect for you because you taught me that women can go toe-to-toe with men, and be absolutely awesome while doing so. You have shown me strength and grace. You have shown me acceptance. You have shown me that it’s perfectly okay not to lay down and take the bullshit that the world can throw at you simply because some aspect of society has tried to define your role as a woman as such.

To my new friend, Amy. You’ve shown me what internal strength is. I’ve only gotten to talk to you a handful of times, and always in a censored fashion (which needs to change, soon, btw), but in those conversations, your ability to completely accept what’s happening and deal with the punches as you navigate your day has taught me patience. Your innate ability to know what to say, despite your fear of offending, is immeasurable, and you’ve taught me to open my ears and eyes to others around me and listen to what they are saying without adding my own biases.

And finally, to Mira. My love, my life. You have taught me strength, perseverance, and grace. You have taught me that it’s okay to be happy without regret. You’ve taught me that I am capable of change, and you have taught me that unconditional love is not only real, but completely attainable. You have given me knowledge and shown me what respect truly means. Watching you navigate this world and hearing you speak and captivate an audience, a crowd, or a small group of people – it is not only an honor, but something I aspire to do. You have taught me that I can be who I am, and I can do so without apology.

These are my role models. Men and women from all walks of life, cisgender, heterosexual, transgender, with different backgrounds and experiences. And it feels really, really good to have this realization, that I do have role models, and that they all are helping me (whether they know it or not) to become the person I am. The person I’m supposed to be. My journey of self-discovery is one I may have to go alone at times, but with these people as my role models, I’ll never really “be” alone.

And because of all of this, I can be that rock in the water.

This is Me.

I’ve written before about the idea of transitioning, and how, in hindsight, I’ve always felt far more masculine. I’ve also written about how my family catered to this, buying me “boy’s” toys and letting me play baseball and football with the guys in the neighborhood.

I'm the one with the long hair. 7 years old and I'm in a sweater vest. Hindsight - 20/20
I’m the one with the long hair. 7 years old and I’m in a sweater vest. Hindsight – 20/20

But I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about it. As it turns out, those feelings of wanting to explore that side of me run deeper than I realized. I’ve been trying out different pronouns and Mira commented on it the other night. Although she has been totally supportive of my identity exploration, she was a bit surprised that I went from her/she pronouns right to he/him and bypassed they/them/their altogether, while being less sure about moving in the direction of identifying as a trans man.

And that, along with thoughts bouncing around in my own head, has led me to realize a few things.

Lately, I’ve been trying on he/him/his pronouns. Basically, I’ve been telling people to use what feels comfortable to them, because I’m not entirely sure where I am on all of this. Some people refer to me as he and some people still use she.

She feels comfortable to me, and he…well, I’m still getting used to it. It sounds foreign to my ears. It has this strange sense of familiarity…like I’m experiencing deja vu.

But there’s a part of me that is almost…forcing me to feel uncomfortable with it. And then it dawned on me. For 34 years, I’ve been a girl, and then a woman. At least that’s how society has viewed it. Or at least the majority of people in my world. Until recently.

When I started talking about how I’ve always wanted facial hair and a muscular body, the responses I get are always extremely affirming. Like there isn’t a question that that’s who I’m supposed to be.

Yet I still have this feeling that it’s not right. Again…34 years a woman, by societal standards. I’ve spent my life being conditioned to believe that I am a woman, nothing more, nothing less. So when I hear “he” in reference to me, of course it will sound foreign to me. Because he is who I am becoming. He was the kid who played football with the other guys. He was the kid who was socially awkward because he would much rather have had the advantages that the other guys did in school. He was the one who wanted to be able to talk about his crushes on girls.

The feeling is a nagging one, not of guilt or shame, but more of whether or not I’m being silly. Remember, I grew up in a Conservative household. Gender was always very clear. Man. Woman. Woman was the submissive to Man, despite the fact that when my parents got married, they changed the vows from “man and wife” to “husband and wife”. My idea of gender was always a bit confused.

My mom would buy me G.I. Joe, Micro Machines, baseballs, footballs, basketballs…she told me she’d never make me wear a skirt if I didn’t want to, yet I had to wear a dress under my graduation gown in my senior year.

I’ve never wanted feminine things. And I was taught that that’s okay. But growing up around a family that had such strong anti-gay views, where any talk of the trans* community resulted in someone (usually mom) making a comment about ‘shemales’, made it difficult to explore any aspect of that for me.

I don’t stand in the mirror and hate my body. And this voice, this nagging voice, when I look at myself and see that bit of beard, or that adam’s apple, or those muscles in my shoulder or a flat chest…I hear

drag
Me. In drag. The facial hair is a little rough, but not bad for a first attempt.

“You’re not really a trans man, you’re just being fanciful.”

“Just keep being a butch lesbian. It’s so close to what you want anyway, and you can always be a drag king to make up for the rest…”

“Are you sure about all of this? You don’t have real dysphoria.”

And I wonder. That doubt creeps up, and I wonder if…

I wonder if…

In high school, my debate teacher taught us that the Negative side in debate, if they were good, could “what if” the debate all the way to nuclear war.

So I wonder if

And with that comes what if I get fired because I come out as trans at work and it freaks people out and what if I lose friends and what if it’s all wrong and I’m not really trans and what if I can’t handle this and what if what if what if…

1813aqov5wc2jjpg

But, I have always prided myself on the fact that I’m me. I’m Teri, and I’ve always been Teri, and I will always be Teri. It’s just now that Teri wants the facial hair he’s always desired, and to have the muscles he’s always been able to envision.

I think more that it’s not “he” that sounds unfamiliar, but the idea that a new chapter in my life is unfolding before me…it’s exciting and scary, and it’s amazing and terrifying. But that won’t stop me. I have beautiful friends and family around me to support me.

And I think when I start hearing “him” I’ll know that he is me, and to some degree, always has been.

1798176_1500702236848616_6619805958796031955_n

Damn it feels good to be a butch

Though if my closet looked like this, I might not ever come out…

I came out of the closet years ago. But recently (read: in the shower just now) I realized that what’s still in the closet is just as important as the act of me coming out of it.

I identify as a butch lesbian. I didn’t when I first came out, mostly because I didn’t even realize there were such things as femmes and butches. But once I got use to life as a lesbian, I quickly found myself. Fedoras, ties, vests – that was much more my style than hip-huggers and sheer blouses. And just as quickly, I labeled myself as a butch and went on my merry butch way.

No, that's not Guido 'The Fish' Pisano, that was me, circa 2002
No, that’s not Guido ‘The Fish’ Pisano, that was me, circa 2002

But something that took me a lot longer to realize was that while being a lesbian merely meant I was sexually attracted to women over men, being butch meant I had all of these “rules” – some unspoken – that I was now bound to. It was as if by placing that fedora on my head, I had suddenly taken some sort of vow to uphold the butchiness of butches everywhere.

Butches can be so cruel to one another. If you ever happen to be at a bar, and there’s a group of butches there, watch them. Our* behavior, when we travel in packs, much resembles the hazing of frat brothers. Butches lift up shirts to

*sigh* Type 'Butch card' in Google, and this was the best I could find...
*sigh* Type ‘Butch card’ in Google, and this was the best I could find…

compare abs, they compare notes on how many femmes they’ve slept with, they hold beer chugging contests while playing pool and get far too competitive over a game where you knock balls into holes. They ridicule one another and tease each other mercilessly if someone appears less than manly.

I couldn’t keep up. I’m not mean in nature and I think it’s perfectly okay if, as a butch lesbian, I cry at movies or if I don’t hold Melissa Ferrick’s ‘Drive’ as my personal anthem. My partner is a trans*woman, and I love her dearly, as much as the day I held the door open for her six months ago. None of these things make me less of a butch, nor should a lack of something ever be allowed to define me.

Now that I got that off my unbinded chest…

Being butch is actually a bit complicated. We fall into this gray area that is filled with a similar type of discrimination not unlike the kind that the trans* community faces. I’m misgendered often, and get strange looks when I use the women’s restroom in public. And it becomes this struggle as to when I say something and when I just let it slide. Being misgendered doesn’t bring me down. It used to. But I realize that when I wear nothing but men’s clothing, there may be times when people mistake me for a guy. I don’t have hips, my hair is short, I don’t really ever do anything dainty (think: bull in china shop), and I’m rather stocky.

imagesI have boobs. Not a large, shelf-like chest where I can store my wallet, but not immeasureable mosquito bites, either. I’m kind of fond of them, most of the time. Other times I want them gone, and would love to have a flat chest, and muscular abs. I look at pictures of guys, and sometimes wonder what I would look like if my body were like that. I do like having my lady bits though. Again, most of the time. There are certain aspects about vaginas that are both wonderful and terrifying at the same time, but that’s a story for another post. Sometimes I wish I were more masculine in appearance than what I am. Sometimes I don’t. And I’m okay with vacillating between the two.

I also get to experience a bit of male privilege. I don’t get things ‘mansplained’ to me, and it’s assumed that I have knowledge of cars (including car buying), general construction and house maintenance skills, and grilling skills, among other things. I’ve found that butch women can often get away with ogling other women, as well as the privilege of bypassing all the ridiculous standards that other women are held to regarding physical appearance. A butch with a beer belly? No problem! A muscular butch? That’s hot too!

My closet, in it's current state. As you can see, I'm nowhere to be found.
My closet, in it’s current state. As you can see, I’m nowhere to be found.

There’s other benefits too. Buying men’s clothing saves me money because men’s clothing seems to last longer than women’s clothing does. But the downfall to that is men’s clothing generally isn’t designed to fit around boobs. And it’s a little difficult finding jeans in the right size sometimes. T-shirts don’t always fit right, and that button on the dress shirt that is right between my boobs always seems to pull a bit tight.

That's one happy butch, even if her girlfriend calls her fauxhawk a Kewpie Doll haircut
That’s one happy butch, even if her girlfriend calls her fauxhawk a Kewpie Doll haircut

It’s all good though. Things could be far worse for me. As it is, I’ve got the love of a beautiful woman who makes me happy. I’ve got a great job, doing work that I love. I’m getting more involved in the LGBT community here in my hometown.

I’ll continue being the butch that I am, even if it doesn’t fit the preconceived notions of what a butch is ‘supposed to be’. And I’ll keep filling the space that I once occupied in my closet with men’s clothing.

After all, I’m best at being me, so why deviate from that now?

 

*when I say ‘our’ I mean in general. I’ve never partaken in those ridiculous antics.

And here’s an added, extra bonus!!

Tolerating Intolerance – When is enough too much?

Recently, Newt Gingrich commented on his show, Crossfire, that gay people should essentially, be tolerant and accepting of the intolerance of others, specifically those who vocalize their anti-gay opinions.Derrick Ward

This is all in regards to the now famous (or should it be infamous?) Michael Sams kiss after he got the call telling him he was drafted into the NFL, and the repercussions of two NFL players who voiced their opinions on the matter. Dolphins safety Don Jones was fined and suspended by his team for his anti-gay tweets and former NFL player Derrick Ward claims to have received death threats for his ‘no bueno’ tweet.

Gingrich said “You guys talk about how you want to be inclusive, except of course, if somebody tweets this, then having a death threat or ‘let’s send them off to sensitivity training,'” and that “that’s repression, that’s not inclusive.”

He goes on: “Shouldn’t we also be teaching people who are gay to be open and understanding of people who — ?” and at this point is cut off by the panelists responding to his statements.

People who what, Newt? People who spew hatred and intolerance beyond that of “I don’t like gays”? People who refuse to recognize the LGBTQIA+ community as more than second class citizens? People who refuse to recognize the LGBTQIA+ community as human beings?

Well, I’ve got news for you, friend, the LGBTQIA+ community has been tolerating intolerance for ages. You had just turned 27 years old when Stonewall occurred. I’m sure you’re aware of the Stonewall riots – when the LGBT community had finally had enough of tolerating intolerance and rioted back against the police? Remember? That was 45 years ago. Then there was the time when homosexuality was persecuted through public executions by the Spanish against the Aztecs in the 1500’s. Before that, there was the persecution and intolerance of homosexuality in China in 600 BCE, the time when homosexuality was listed as a mental illness with the American Psychological Association – which, by the way, didn’t end until the 1970’s and has still been coded under the 302.0 set of codes in the DSM despite the fact it’s no longer considered a mental illness.

So you see, Newt? We’ve been tolerating intolerance since the beginning of time, truthfully. When is enough too much? When does tolerance stop being tolerance and become oppression? We’ve been told we’re going to burn in Hell, we’ve been beaten, killed, sexually assaulted, denied basic rights, and imprisoned because of who we are. How much of that should we be subject to tolerate?

As far as the death threats go – no, I don’t agree with that. Just like I don’t agree with ‘Slushie Woman’ here in my hometown.Violence begets violence and rarely solves anything. And if two people are shouting at each other, there’s no one left to listen. But more importantly, these people – the ones that send out death threats or resort to acts of intimidation or violence – they’re the extremes, but they also represent the growing unrest of tolerating intolerance.

I remember being told that if I didn’t have anything nice to say about someone, then I shouldn’t say anything at all. These NFL players are celebrities. They’re in the spotlight. So they need to be conscious of what they say, because what they say will receive publicity and if it’s homophobic or racist or otherwise inflammatory, what they say WILL receive a probably less than cordial response.

Newt, what is it you expect the LGBTQIA+ community to do? Sit idly by with our mouths shut while others continue to preach hatred and intolerance? Again, there’s a vast difference between someone saying “I hate gay people” and “I think all gays should be put to death”.

It’s important to pick our battles, but it’s also important to make our voices heard in the ugly face of intolerance.

The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. Elizabeth Cady Stanton