Saturday, July 6, 2013

TMP and friends: the duality and unity of being T

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

After a few months of blogging here on blogspot, I noticed I didn’t do the typical mission statement or purpose of this blog like I had done on the website. I originally started with a website in order to have a collaborative blog site representing the many voices in the Transgender community, but between finding those voices and a difficult website host and my own personal pressures of nursing school, I scaled back to a more personal blog here.

The duality and unity of being T, means many things to me. The obvious is our multi dimensional duality, not only are we as transgender people transcending genders which gives us a unique and gifted view of things, but there are many aspects of us as a community. There are different types of people that make up the transgender community, racially, regionally, spiritually etc, and I think the unity of being T is about attempting to shine a light on the fact we are all regardless, of our differences, share in what it means to be transgender.

My mission or purpose is to promote unity and celebrate all that is being Trans, also to question what and how we do things. Why is there a divide within the transgender community and how can we fix that?  Why are there so many transgender people in the gender illusion show circuit and sex industry that feel pushed away from not having a voice it what it means to be transgender and how that exclusion hurts the entire community. We all can learn to be more complete through all our brothers and sisters involved in this great transition. My hope is to get us all thinking about our unity and common bond, question why not and contemplate on ways of building unity amongst the different sub groups of the transgender community. Everyone is welcomed, along with Trans-allies.
A few bloggers recommended having a twitter or fb page to go along with my blog, in order to share my post. I felt there was more a page could do than just promote what I have to say, when there are so many voices within the trans community that haven’t been heard and needed to be. So at the Transmuseplanet facebook page we try to share news, entertainment, anything of interest to the Trans community and specifically the Trans community. It is dis-heartening to find Transgender pages with 90% of its content tailored mainly to the LGB and seems many of our own within the T community are quick to silence the T. We can’t fight alone ofcourse, but we can’t forget our own fight in the process of doing so.

I wanted to bring this up because outside of the blog post I make there are others that contribute their time and effort to highlighting transgender issues for all of us. Monica Roberts is one of my sisters fighting the good fight and shares that on Transmuseplanetfacebook page. I want to take a moment to highlight my sisters and brothers also behind what is TMP and their fight where they are from as well, we are all united under this journey of being T.

One who has inspired all of us and continues to inspire many more is Monica Roberts. She’s the critically acclaimed blogger of Transgriot, where she has received numerous awards such as; the 2010 and 11 Black weblog award and a 2008 weblog award finalist to mention a few. Most recently Monica Roberts was named one of the top 100 most influential transgender people within the transgender community after years for her tireless effort to the Transgender community and especially her empowerment of Transgender people of Color in the first Trans 100. She is a proud Texan who is an active writer, activist, lecturer and speaker. Transgriot and Monica Roberts are the very reason there is a blog called Transmuseplanet, because of her call to action I decided not to write a glorification of myself but to be a part of a greater community than the community of I. She strives for personal empowerment of the transgender community and especially the Trans-woman of color. Upon posting my first couple of blog post, Monica Roberts, whom I was already inspired to write, wrote me and told me “I have now joined the circle of sisterhood.” That spirit of unity, sister and brotherhood, is something I hope to achieve with this blog.

Recently Monica surprised me by having me as a guest on her blog for a familiar ten question interview she is known for and because she also has contributed her time and insight for the TMP face book page, I thought I’d flip the script on her this time and ask her a few questions.

1. S.S: Monica, in 2006 you started the blog TransGriot. What was your main goal then and how has that grown for you?

MR-When I started the blog on January 1, 2006, it was simply because I wanted a real time way to comment on the issues of the day and because we didn't have transpeople of color talking about the issues that affected us.
Now that TransGriot has grown after 7 years to be the go to blog it has become, in addition to the original mission of exposing our Black trans history to a wider audience, it's being an authoritative voice about issues that impact our community. It's being a watchdog about anti-trans media. It's ensuring we get coverage about the issues that affect trans communities of color and across the African Diaspora trans wise.

And it's pointing out I have a well rounded range of interests that I can and will talk about beyond just trans ones.

2. S.S: After all the acclaim and awards for your riveting blog, what acknowledgement has meant the most to you and that you hold most special to your heart?

MR-The award I just received from BTMI in March. It was not only given to me by transbrothers who share my ethnic heritage and appreciate my part in helping to lead and build our community, they thought highly enough of me to name the Advocacy Award after me.

 3. S.S.: Not all, but so many of our young Trans-women have so much apathy towards advocating for their own rights. What advice do you have that can help change that?

MR-As Eldridge Cleaver once said. "if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem." If you want trans human rights coverage, it's not going to happen with you sitting on your behinds and hoping other people do the work for you. Our trans oppressors aren't going to have a magical change of heart and grant us the rights we are constitutionally entitled to, we're going to have to fight for them.

That means you doing your part. Registering to vote and actually showing up at the polls on election day to cast you ballots for trans human rights friendly candidates. Participating in a lobby day form time to time. Supporting your local trans organizations with time and money and if you don't have one, starting your own group.

4. S.S.: Back in March, you were named in the Trans 100. How do you feel about the more common, OUT 100 lack of listing Transgender people and LGBT people of Color?

MR- I don't like it as someone who believes that the more diverse our organizations are in the rainbow community, the better and more inclusive the policy will be that comes out of those diverse organizations. Better more diverse policy leads to more broadbased appeal for it.
But the lack of POC and trans faces in the OUT 100 list is a sadly recurring pattern in a predominately white oriented LGBT movement that doesn't value the visibility or leadership skills of non-white trans and SGL people unless they need melanin in a photo to prove how diverse they are.

5. S.S.: Recently you expressed your lack luster enthusiasm of the DOMA ruling, particularly due to the recent part of the Voter Rights bill being struck down by the Supreme Court. What do you feel may happen to other states that have not legalized marriage equality with a weaker Voter Rights Law and why do you feel all those who support marriage equality should also support restoring our Voters Right Law?

MR-If marriage equality supporters want it to happen in so called red states like Texas, it's not going to unless you get progressive minded people elected to office who can write and enact that legislation, judges who will fairly interpret the law and governors willing to sign it. That is also the case with trans inclusive rights legislation or any progressive laws as well.
Black and Latino voters will have a major say as their numbers increase on how fast that happens, and the TBLG community needs to make sure that they are standing up for the voting rights of and issues of importance to Latino and African-Americans.
The SCOTUS messing with Section 4 of the VRA just made that task more difficult but not impossible.
Randi Wileman is my teddy bear Trans-man from Pennsylvania. He is administrator of TMP fb page and creator of the outspoken ftm facebook group Beautiful Bold & Boish.
  1. Randi, in most small towns’ life can be a little more challenging for Transgender people to say the least. How has your transition been accepted in your community and family?

 Randi: Surprisingly in small town Lewistown, PA most of the communities outside of my family are more afraid to ask questions about my life or seem to be that way. I don't get questioned about using the men's bathroom when I am out shopping or with my family.

2.       What are some of the greatest obstacles your overcoming to start your transition?

 Randi: Most of my family has accepted me but still struggle with the correct pronouns, only a few have only been able to tolerate the physical changes. I will still continue to go through changes as I am not quite who I feel I see myself as. Once I start T and have top (chest) surgery I will expect some distance from family members because those changes are something that they are not use to seeing.

Coming out to my family about my transitioning was a huge obstacle for me because I have a very old fashion traditional father, growing up as a child knowing I am a male was very hard because my parents were not educated to know what to do when their child says, "I don't want to wear girl clothes, I don't want to shave my body hair, I don't want to have to wear bra's and why am I growing these things on my chest, why can't I be a boy?" My parents thought it was a phase and kept sticking me in girl’s clothes and I would steal my brother’s clothes and toys. Once I realized what Transgender is, I knew I had to make changes on my own because my parents wouldn't understand but I kept it from them and friends for a long time, I shaved facial hair every other day and told my friends and parents I was just a boyish lesbian which was hard in itself too until I moved out of my parents house and let myself feel freedom to be who I am and not have to hide anything anymore.

 3.       What are your hopes for the female to male community in particular?

 Randi: My hopes for not just my brother FTM's but my sister MTF's is that the world will be educated, understanding and accepted, not just tolerated by some but accepted by all. We are not freaks; we are not monsters or have mental disorders. We just want to be respected, accepted and treated equal.

Levi Michael is an outspoken Trans-man who’s not afraid to share his opinion or anger. He, like me, lives in the core of the southeast in Tennesse. He is administrator at TMP fb page and creator of the more outspoken facebook pages of The Real world-Lgbtqi style; Angry All the Time; Tennessee LGBT. Facebook groups; Fuckin Trans Men (FTM), Been there, done that, Lived through it and blogger/editor at Life as I know it. He is a busy young man with lots to say.

1.       Levi, you live in the south like me and we both know all too well the discriminatory practices that go on in many communities. What do you think, as transgender people, we need to be doing amongst ourselves to change that in our community and local areas?

 Levi: The first thing we as a community need to do is stop the hate from within our own ranks. I see it every day, the ones further into transition look down on the ones that aren't there yet or can't do HRT for medical reasons. Being a man comes from the heart, not the body. No amount of hormone or physical characteristics can make you more of a man than your heart feels you are. I know CIS men that I wouldn't ever call a man to begin with. They are cowards. Real men stand up for others and are not afraid of the truth.

2.       How has your life changed since you’ve been living visibly as a trans-man?

 Levi: My personal life has changed for the better. I don't have to hide in the proverbial closet anymore. Not to say it isn't difficult, because it is. I still get looks no matter which bathroom I go in. People make fun of my name when they see it on paper. But I am more respected among friends and family for having the intestinal fortitude to stand up for myself and be the man I was born to be.

 3.    What advice would you give someone that is a trans-man, but is being told by his peers, he is just a lesbian and should just accept that and move on?

 Levi: My advice to them would be: Look here boy, no one else on this Earth can tell you who you are but you. They aren't you. They don't live your life. They can't read your mind or your heart. Only you can. You can't go through life worrying about what everyone else has to say, because most people talk out of their asses instead of their mouths.

Also I'd like to thank Rebecca A: blogger of Being Dysphoric in a one Gender World and Edwin Maarleveld creator of;  both moderators at Transmuseplanet Community on Google +. As well as Terri Louise Birdsong and Claire Sweet, moderators at TMP facebook.
One thing I've learned from my new friends, is that if  you're feeling alone as Transgender or someone who wants to be more of a transgender ally, you only need to put yourself out there and a community is waiting for you. There are many Transgender people out there who knows what you have been through, going through and waiting for you to be a part of a larger community than the community of one. You can start as simple as going to facebook, twitter, google + and there are thousands of groups, websites, pages, communities and people that knows all to well what it means to be the best of both worlds, 2- spirited, Transgender etc., most importantly, they are like you, sharing a world that is possible. Sharing the unity and duality of being T.

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