Thursday, October 25, 2012

Military Group Picks Trans Woman As Leader

The new head of the country’s leading LGBT military organization is Allyson Robinson, a former commissioned officer in the Army who most recently worked at the Human Rights Campaign on workplace issues.
Robinson also is transgender — and her selection represents a huge breakthrough for a community that has received a level of respect in recent years but still faces overwhelming discrimination and high rates of violence, according to recent surveys by LGBT organizations. Following the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," however, she now faces the unusual challenge of persuading activist and donors that, in spite of that victory, the cause still needs their help.
"We disentangled America from this legalized discrimination against gay and lesbian servicemembers," Robinson said, acknowledging that the key aim of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network since its founding in 1993 was reached with the September 2011 repeal of the law.
"We have not achieved full equality for LGBT servicemembers, and I think that’s something that Americans care about. I think they care about the way that our troops and their families are treated," she said.
A 1994 West Point graduate who was a commissioned Army officer and served overseas before resigning her commission to become a pastor-teacher to churches in the Portuguese Azores and central Texas, Robinson will be the first executive director of the combined organization. Robinson, who lives in Maryland with her wife and four children, most recently was the deputy director for employee programs with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Workplace Project, where she worked to establish the LGBT organization’s corporate training curriculum to promote LGBT equality in the workplace.

Introducing Allison Robinson

Meet Allyson Robinson - West Point grad, former Army Officer, wife and mother, LGBT advocate - and now the OutServe-SLDN Executive Director. For more information visit

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lana Wachowski Opens Up About Her Suicidal Feelings While Growing Up Transgender

For a few long time, Lana and her brother Andy Wachowski – directors of the likes of The Matrix and Speed Racer – deliberately eschewed publicity and press, but recently, in the run up to the release of Cloud Atlas, Lana has reversed that policy. She’s not just opened up about her filmmaking, but also about her transition from living as a man to outwardly expressing her gender identity as a woman.
To acknowledge her stepping out as one of the most successful, high profile transgender people in the world, on October 20th she was given the Visibility Award at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual San Francisco gala dinner. At the event she gave an emotional speech, detailing the difficulties she faced growing up transgender, such as the times she contemplated suicide. Video of that speech has now appeared via THR, so you can watch the whole thing above.
She also spoke to the trade paper about why she’s decided to be more in the public eye and accept the award. Lana said, “They’ve [the HRC] been contacting me off and on for a while and I’ve always said no, I don’t do that sort of thing. But they happened to call again, which was interesting. I think they were reacting to the video that we posted. I said I don’t think I can do it, I don’t think I have time because the schedule was too difficult. But then, it just sort of worked out strangely that a hole opened up and I was going to be in San Francisco and I thought, well, it was just the universe saying I should do it. And my wife thought it was a good idea to do it now.”
As for the difficulties of giving the speech, she adds, “I knew that I would do this [open up about her life] eventually, but it was interesting that I didn’t want to inhabit the memory too closely. A lot of them are very painful memories. I had practiced the speech once before I went on with my partner and I cried several times while I was doing it, and she said, ‘Come on! You don’t want to be blubbering in front of 1,000 people in tuxedos.’
“So when I did it, I did try to have a little bit of distance from the actual emotion of the memory. And then when I wasn’t talking so much about myself, and I was thinking about someone who was like me when I was young, feeling that I was fulfilling the example that I was looking for when I was young.”
Take a look at the speech above, as it really is worth watching the whole thing.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Calpernia Sarah Addams

Calpernia Sarah Addams (born February 20, 1971) is an American author, actress, musician, and a spokesperson and activist for transgender rights and issues. Addams grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. She served as a Hospital Corpsman with the Navy and United States Marine Corps. During her last year in the military she came out as a transgender woman. Addams chose the name "Calpernia" from the William Shakespeare play Julius Caesar (a variant spelling of Caesar's wife Calpurnia) and its appearance on a tombstone in the film The Addams Family. In 1999, while working as a performer, Addams began dating PFC Barry Winchell. Word of the relationship spread at Winchell's Army base where he was harassed by fellow soldiers and ultimately murdered.
  .. [ Read More at Wikipedia ]

Ben A. Barres (born Barbara Barres) M.D., Ph.D.

Ben A. Barres (born Barbara Barres) M.D., Ph.D. is an American neurobiologist who teaches at Stanford University. His research focuses on the interaction between neurons and glial cells in the nervous system. He is currently Chair of the Neurobiology department at Stanford University School of Medicine. Barres has a degree in biology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a medical degree from Dartmouth Medical School, neurology residency training at Weill Cornell, and a doctorate in neurobiology from Harvard University. Barres, a transsexual man who transitioned in 1997, made headlines in the mainstream press in July 2006 after writing an article in Nature that addressed issues of sex and intelligence. He is attracted to men....
 [ Read More at Wikipedia ]

Dr. Barres graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained an MD degree at Dartmouth Medical School and completed his neurology residency at Cornell. He then obtained a PhD from Harvard Medical School and did his postdoctoral training at University College London, prior to joining Stanford in 1993.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Goodbye Katie, hello Ben

Should we have known? With hindsight there were plenty of clues. Katie had always been something of a tomboy – never a "girly" girl and most definitely not a Barbie girl – and we had begun to suspect that there was a possibility that, as adolescence progressed, she might turn out to be attracted to women rather than men. After all, my side of the family had previous form in this respect, so it crossed our minds and we did joke about it.

About two or three weeks before the bombshell dropped, an overheated dinner-table discussion (nothing unusual about that) erupted between Katie and Cass, my wife, about transgendered people and sexuality. It started with Katie talking about the film "Boys Don't Cry", which she had seen recently. Katie seemed unusually animated by the issues and engaged in a discussion about the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.

She exclaimed that she was astounded that her mother didn't know the difference; she did, but 15-year-olds in the heat of an argument are difficult to convince at the best of times. As the argument came to a head, Cass glared across the table and demanded of Katie whether there was something she needed to tell us. There was a slight pause, then a defiant "no" and we finished the meal in glum silence.

It must have been a few days later that Katie confided in Josh, her 14-year-old brother, that she no longer wished to be a girl and intended to start the transition towards becoming a boy. Two weeks later she plucked up the courage to tell her mother.

Gender dysphoria (also known as transgenderism, gender identity disorder or gender incongruence) is the medical term for the feeling that one's biology and gender identity are mismatched. Although still classified as a mental-health problem, increasingly the professional's view is that the root causes are likely to be organic, prompted by genetic predisposition or overexposure to particular hormones in the womb or both. For the person with the condition, it feels as if they are trapped in a body of the wrong sex.

One can only imagine the anxiety and discomfort this can produce, and the fear that the person is, somehow, not quite right. The NHS estimates that about one in 4,000 people seeks help with gender dysphoria but suggests there may be many more who do not.

On average, men are diagnosed with gender dysphoria five times more than women. Treatment may involve help to come to terms with the condition by means of dress and lifestyle, or result in hormone therapy and surgical intervention. It is often the case that pre-pubescent children who feel such dysphoria find it resolves itself before puberty. For those who enter adulthood with these feelings, the most common outcome is hormone treatment and surgery to alter their biological sex.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Led by the child who simply knew

The twin boys were identical in every way but one. Wyatt was a girl to the core, and now lives as one, with the help of a brave, loving family and a path-breaking doctor’s care.

Jonas and Wyatt Maines were born identical twins, but from the start each had a distinct personality. Jonas was all boy. He loved Spiderman, action figures, pirates, and swords. Wyatt favored pink tutus and beads. At 4, he insisted on a Barbie birthday cake and had a thing for mermaids. On Halloween, Jonas was Buzz Lightyear. Wyatt wanted to be a princess; his mother compromised on a prince costume.

Once, when Wyatt appeared in a sequin shirt and his mother’s heels, his father said: “You don’t want to wear that." “Yes, I do,’’ Wyatt replied. “Dad, you might as well face it,’’ Wayne recalls Jonas saying. “You have a son and a daughter."

That early declaration marked, as much as any one moment could, the beginning of a journey that few have taken, one the Maineses themselves couldn’t have imagined until it was theirs. The process of remaking a family of identical twin boys into a family with one boy and one girl has been heartbreaking and harrowing and, in the end, inspiring — a lesson in the courage of a child, a child who led them, and in the transformational power of love.

Until recently, there was little help for children in such situations. But now a groundbreaking clinic at Children’s Hospital in Boston — one of the few of its kind in the world — helps families deal with the issues, both emotional and medical, that arise from having a transgender child — one who doesn’t identify with the gender he or she was born into. The Children’s Hospital Gender Management Services Clinic can, using hormone therapies, halt puberty in transgender children, blocking the development of secondary sexual characteristics — a beard, say, or breasts — that can make the eventual transition to the other gender more difficult, painful, and costly.

Founded in 2007 by endocrinologist Norman Spack and urologist David Diamond, the clinic — known as GeMS and modeled on a Dutch program — is the first pediatric academic program in the Western Hemisphere that evaluates and treats pubescent transgenders. A handful of other pediatric centers in the United States are developing similar programs, some started by former staffers at GeMS.

It was in that clinic, under Spack’s care, that Nicole and her family finally began to have hope for her future. The Maineses decided to tell their story, they say, in order to help fight the deep stigma against transgender youth, and to ease the path for other such children who, without help, often suffer from depression, anxiety, and isolation. “We told our kids you can’t create change if you don’t get involved,’’ says Wayne, 53, sitting in the living room of their comfortable home in a southern Maine community they do not want identified.

"Mom, I need to be a girl" -- book on PDF

Mom, I need to be a girl

You are about to read a rare true story about a young boy who received a kind of help from his mother that some children need, but almost none receive.

Danial should have been born a girl. In these pages, you will meet Daniel's father who believes that sexual reassignment is against God. You'll follow the fencing matches with bureaucrats, and the contest of wills with councilors whose skills are so often limited to dream-obstruction and fee collection. Most importantly, you'll read how Daniel's courageous and superbly understanding mother helped Daniel to become the charming, irrepressible Danielle, despite a globe full of minor tyrants, tunnel vision functionaries, buffoons, financial opportunists, and misguided dogooders trying to prevent it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Positive role model Paris wins at National Diversity Awards

A WOMAN from Hucknall has won a national award for her work to improve media representations of transgender people.
Paris Lees was given the award for Positive Role Model for LGBT at this year's National Diversity Awards at Manchester's Midland Hotel last month.
  1. Improving media coverage:  Paris Lees, the Hucknall-born transgender woman who has won a national honour for  the Positive Role Model for LGBT.
    Improving media coverage: Paris Lees, the Hucknall-born transgender woman who has won a national honour for the Positive Role Model for LGBT.
Editor of META – a digital publication devoted to gender, feminist and transgender issues, which she launched earlier this year – she beat thousands of nominations.
She said: "As a transgender woman, I'm so pleased to have been recognised in this way.
"I think we've not seen the same advances in society towards transgender people as we have towards gay, lesbian and black people over the last 30 to 40 years."
Ms Lees, who was born physically male, transitioned to female at the age of 18. Born and bred in Hucknall, she moved away from Notts five years ago to study for a BA in English Language and Literature at the University of Brighton, where she graduated in 2009.
Ms Lees, who now lives in London, added: "I've had a successful transition – I have a good relationship with my family and I have a degree.
"Growing up I was taught to feel ashamed of who I was, but this shows that anything is possible when you feel proud of who you are.
"I hope that other young trans people, who face the same bullying and violence that I did, will see that difference is something to be celebrated.


TORRANCE — “My son was born in a female body, but all his life, he’s felt like a boy. He didn’t understand that. I didn’t and people around us didn’t understand what it meant. Our story is about a family that had to deal with changing how we think about our child.” Marsha Aizumi and her transgender son, Aiden, addressed a Japanese American audience to educate the public and to raise awareness of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) members of the Asian community on Sept. 14 at Faith United Methodist Church in Torrance.

 All Aizumi wanted was a little girl when she and her husband, Tad, decided to adopt a child from Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. They named the little girl Ashley. “I found very quickly that she didn’t want to wear pink, didn’t like dolls, didn’t want to do any of the girl things that I remember doing when I was young,” Aizumi recalled.

On Halloween, Ashley always chose to be a superhero such as Batman, a Power Ranger, or Zorro. She never wanted to be a princess or ballerina. Aizumi thought she was a tomboy. “I thought my child loved Halloween because of the candy. But I learned recently that it was because that was one day out of the year he could be himself and nobody would make fun of him,” said Aizumi.

 Soon after middle school started, a time when gender begins to matter in new ways, things became bumpy and rough. Aiden, who was still Ashley, felt uncomfortable talking about boys, fashion, and makeup with other girls. This seventh-grader felt more comfortable being with boys, but they didn’t.

There seemed to be nowhere at school to fit in and make close friends. “I was having a hard time at school socially, and I couldn’t figure out why,” Aiden recalled. He started having bad anxiety and panic attacks regularly, and Aizumi saw her child’s self-esteem plummet around this same time. The situation worsened in high school. “Just imagine you aren’t fitting in anywhere, and you are feeling that something is wrong with you or that you were born as a mistake. That was what my child was feeling from middle school to high school,” Aizumi said, her voice filled with emotion.