Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Insidious: Extreme Pressures Faced by Trans People

Studies show that the trans population lives under extreme psychological pressures unseen in even active military personnel. Fifty-five percent of trans people  [1,2] were found to live with social anxiety. Within the general American population, similar types of anxiety are experienced by only 6.8% [3] of the population while these levels of anxiety were found to exist at a rate of 8.2% among military personal. [4]
Levels of social anxiety experienced by population.
This graph compares the social anxiety transgender people feel against levels of social anxiety within the general American population and that experienced by military personnel.
Transgender and gender variant persons are frequently harassed and discriminated against when seeking housing or applying to jobs or schools, are often victims of violent hate crimes, and face challenges in marriage, adoption and parenting rights.
Discrimination and lack of equal civil rights is damaging to the mental health of transgender and gender variant individuals. For example, gender-based discrimination and victimization were found to be independently associated with attempted suicide in a population of transgender individuals, 32% of whom had histories of trying to kill themselves, and in the largest survey to date of gender variant and transgender people 41% reported attempting suicide.
The APA joins other organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association, in endorsing strong policy statements deploring the discrimination experienced by gender variant and transgender individuals and calling for laws to protect their civil rights.


Stu doesn't pass that well, an understatement, but is well accepted in this rural community--in fact, she is the Mayor.


(Photo: Just Out)
(Photo: Just Out)
THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — [I wrote this for Just Out.] On Election Day 2012, a transgender Oregonian drew national attention for the second time by winning a fifth term as Mayor of Silverton, Oregon. Stu Rasmussen first drew media attention in 2008 by being the first transgender person elected mayor in the United States.
[Read the entire article on the Just Out site here:http://www.justout.com/columns/voices/in-transit/trans-mayor/ ]
Stu was born and grew up in Silverton. She was hired by Tektronics right out of college, eventually ending up as a staff engineer for the Television Products Division. Later, she started a cable television company with a partner bringing service into Silverton and Mt. Angel. After a while she sold that company and moved on to a number of other engineering ventures as well as running the Palace Theatre in Silverton. She also dabbled in local politics and along the way changed her gender and decided to shoot for the mayor’s chair after serving three 4-year terms on the city council. Although national media came to town following her victory, Stu says it was “no big deal” in Silverton.
A visit to Stu Rasmussen’s campaign website reveals that this no ordinary trans woman. The site states: “If you just stumbled on this site you may be asking yourself ‘Is this guy for real?’ or ‘Is that really a guy?’” No beating around the bush here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I am Jazz - A family in transition

Jazz summed it up so well, "For anyone out there who is transgender and they are scared stiff out of their shadows, it's OK to be different and be who you are. Just know that you are special and just be yourself."

Billie Rene: I am so impressed by Jazz and I so much recommend that everyone listen to her wonderful words of wisdom. As I listened, I recalled many things I went through at that age. We didn't know and my parents suppressed this. It is so very obvious now that I had what is called Gender Dysphoria and there was so much emotional trauma resulting from this that we didn't understand.

I've had surgery and this is the happiest time of my life. My wife stayed with me and we are doing better than ever. I wouldn't trade any day now for the lifetime I experienced previously. It is wonderful being me. It has nothing to do with sex; it has everything to do with just being me.

I've been through many technologies and I wish I could express it in more definitive terms, but I just love being me. I never understood it as clearly.

Monday, January 21, 2013

'I'm a Girl' -- Understanding Transgender Children

The DSM-IV says a diagnosis for GID can be made if: (1) someone has a strong and persistent cross-gender identification; (2) feels a persistent discomfort with his or her sex; (3) this discomfort is not due to being intersex or hermaphroditic; and (4) the discomfort causes significant distress or impairment in their life.

 Even Jazz's pediatrician told the Jennings that they had a serious problem on their hands. According to Renee, their doctor said, "'Yes, I believe your child has gender identity disorder, and I recommend that you go to a professional.' And I was -- my mouth opened up and you literally had to scrape me off the floor," Renee said.

 Dr. Marilyn Volker, a therapist who specializes in sex and gender issues, later confirmed Jazz's diagnosis.

 "When we began to talk, and I used -- whoops -- the pronoun 'he,' I was corrected," Dr. Volker said. Jazz told the therapist, "I'm a girl. I'm she."

Dr. Volker then brought out anatomically correct male and female dolls for Jazz to play with, and asked him to point out which one looked like his body. According to Dr. Volker, Jazz pointed to the male doll and said, "This is me now," and then pointed to the female doll and said, "This is what I want."

Thursday, January 17, 2013


On Sunday, MSNBC Host Melissa Harris-Perry dedicated more than half of her show to discussing the everyday challenges LGBT Americans face when trying to participate fully in their communities. Perry, who hosts the self-titled Sunday morning political-talk show, interviewed author Kate Bornstein, Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Mel Wymore, a candidate for the New York City Council to talk about gender identity and expression as well as the need for greater understanding acceptance and awareness about transgender people.

 “Transgender people are just ordinary people in most ways. We are just real people who need to work, need to raise our children, need to go to school, need to be in Miss Universe Pageants,” said Keisling.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cecilia Chung, transgender health advocate

Transgender patients seeking medical care face discrimination even in liberal, cutting-edge San Francisco.  But this being liberal, cutting-edge San Francisco, they also have a champion: Cecilia Chung, a transgender woman serving on the Health Commission.
Appointed to the commission overseeing the Department of Public Health by Mayor Ed Lee in April, Chung made news by pushing the department to pay for gender reassignment surgeries for uninsured transgender patients - making San Francisco the first city in the country to do so.
Now, she's developed and is leading sessions for staff members throughout the department called Transgender 101, designed to help everybody - from doctors to nurses to receptionists to janitors - create a respectful atmosphere for transgender patients, increase sensitivity, and understand policies and laws related to medical care for transgender patients.
"We want to make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to cultural competency," said Chung, 47, an Excelsior resident who works internationally as a health care consultant and advocate. "This is really walking the walk in terms of cultural competency and inclusion and making sure all of our community feels safe."
Eventually, it will lead to more advanced courses for specialists that she's developing called, you guessed it, Transgender 102 and Transgender 103.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Living With a Secret

Amber, a soft-spoken, feminine 12-year-old who loves Hello Kitty and fashion design, lives with a secret. It is a secret most sixth-graders can’t fathom, one she hides behind pink skirts and make-up. It is a secret that led to all her baby pictures being tucked away as though her childhood had never happened.
Amber was born a boy.
When she was 10, she stopped going by her given name, Aaron, and began dressing as a girl. Last year, she started taking medication to keep her from going through puberty.
“I can be who I am,” Amber said. “I can be a girl.”
An increasing number of children like Amber are realizing they are transgender and seeking care at clinics around the nation. Because of their age, the complex and emotional journey is as much their parents’ as their own. Families are forced to make tough decisions about therapy and medication, and about what to tell friends and relatives. They are trying to give their children a normal upbringing with summer camps and sleepovers while protecting them from harm and embarrassment.
“How do you move through society with a gender-variant child?” said Nancy Quay , a psychotherapist in the gender services program at the University of Michigan. “What do you tell your neighbors? How do you keep your child safe?”

GLADD's Transgender Resources

Many people have questions about who transgender people are, and we hope this page is helpful to you. GLAAD provides this page to educate those who may be unfamiliar with or want to learn more about the transgender community.

According to poll data from 2008, only 8% of Americans said they either worked with or personally knew a transgender person, compared to 78% who said they worked with or knew a lesbian or gay person.

As media representation of transgender individuals and the issues they face improves, it is important that that we all have an understanding of the facts and common misrepresentations surrounding trans people.

If you are a media professional, check out our resources for covering transgender people in the media.

If you are a transgender person seeking resources,please see our list.