Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Defining who we are pt. Vll: Transgender...Dead...but Never Forgotten

By Sabrina Samone

Today, November 20, 2013, marks another day we mourn those Trans-sisters and brothers that are no longer with us due to hate and misunderstandings about what it means to be Trans. 238 living, breathing, beautiful souls lives cut short because someone else felt uncomfortable with the way another person chose to live their own, only one given life. Two hundred and thirty eight dreams unfulfilled. Leaders, friends, soldiers in the battle for equality stopped before their impact can be felt. Thankfully if you are reading this it means you are a friend or brother or sister that is still with us, but we are affected. What potential in life any of these people could have had that could have positively affected our lives has been snatched from all of us? What lessons of unity can we learn from this?

Living visibly as Trans comes with more hardships and obstacles many people who'd live a full life into retirement could never begin to comprehend, but it can be the most rewarding and spiritually fulfilling life any human could know. Many Transgender people who, 'pass' or transition are eager to blend and be part of everyday society. Truly, because of discrimination this is not a hard decision to make, if you can, but are we leaving 238 people and many others that can't, behind? Are we doing an injustice to our own equality and those like us by denying who we are? Is it really that easy to forget your Trans? I've had a time in life where I chose to live stealth and deny being Trans, for me it was lonely and depressing not having contact with others like me. I often remembered the words of an older post-op friend, Apple Love, who always said,' regardless if know one around you know, every morning when you look in the mirror you know."

 Many say there is no actual Trans community. Many have said they wanted to be a part of a larger community but because of the lack of unity based on race, economics, religion etc., that they chose to give up and live separate from other Trans people. For me, as a Trans-woman, I've encountered that competitive or jealousy spirit among women that is magnified at times with Trans-women, which makes it difficult to make friends within the community. Trans-people only suffer from gender dysphoria, therefore, in every other way they have attributes like any other human being; like racism which also can divide us from being a full community as well as other bigotries. How much are we really hurting ourselves? Could our apathy to not judge, belittle or refuse to be part of a greater Trans community contributing in some way to the rise in murders of Transgender people. When I began HRT, I was blessed to be surrounded by older, wiser Trans-women who would warn me of the dangers of 'not revealing myself to an intimate partner', and made me aware that for a while during transition you may want to carry a weapon or be able to protect yourself. To watch your back in certain situations, or to have a friend or two when going to Cis-gender bars, or parties. Many never are told this, or have no one to give Trans everyday advice to because of a lack on the part of many Trans-people, not to be in contact with other Trans-people.

Obviously, there are many beginning Trans who don't want or desire advice or camaraderie with others in the community. Those, that I have known have learned hard lessons and struggle much harder. A few over the years have become those that may have never been mentioned in the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Maybe on of the things we can do is be more supportive of one on another. To lend a willing hand and support to any other Trans person we come in contact with. Hopefully if the world around us is not quick to undo their transphobic ways maybe we as trans-people can stop ours.

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Defining who we are pt. VI: The Complexities of Trans dating

Defining who we are pt. V: Learning to Care for Our Own

Defining who we are part IV: A message to Cis-gender people, Transgender is not sexuality

Monday, November 18, 2013

TransMusePlanet's annual top 20 most Influential Trans-people of 2013

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

               It's that time again TMP readers. Last year on November 18th I wanted to show respect and acknowledge those within the Transgender Community who were visible and outspoken leaders within our culture. I had just began blogging and as I do now, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing, but last years post of Transmuseplanet's Top Ten most Influential Trans-people of 2012, put me in direct contact with most on the list and became one of the most popular and most shared post on Transmuseplanet since.
          To celebrate the one year anniversary of TransMusePlanet, I've decided to make this an annual listing on this date for as long as I can sit at a desk and type. It is important that those who stand their ground, are visible and speak for the rights of all of us to be appreciated by the community and at least here at TMP.
            Though this list is a top 20, it is by no means to be taken as a ranking of importance, for all on this list and any Trans-person reading this, who lives their lives on their own terms are contributing to the visibility of what it means to be Trans. We are all influential heroes. Over the past year, those that are mentioned were discussed here on TMP in my blogs or their contributions to the Trans Community were shared on Transmuseplanet media; TMP facebook, TMP Daily Dispatch, TMP on Tumblr or TMP Google plus.  Their frequent mentions on these pages earned their spots on this list.
             I hope you enjoy the listing and if your are not familiar with these leaders within our community, that you do take the time to educate yourself on the great contributions that they have made for all our sakes. Their names are linked to their websites and links also have been given to any work of theirs you'd like to check out.

At least 238 Trans-people have been murdered worldwide this year. Brazil and Mexico took the lead with the most murders. The United States came in with 19 murders and in Jamaica, one of the most horrific of all the murders took place when a 16 year old Trans-girl was murdered by a mob at a house party.

TMP would like to recognize those who lost their lives for simply having the desire to be who they feel they are. Their deaths will never be in vain, their blood screams to the world daily; we exist…we matter!

238 of our Trans-brothers and sisters will be memorialized and remembered as always on the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20st 2013.

  Laverne Cox: Is a Transgender actress, reality star and advocate. She first gained national attention as a contestant of the first season of VH1’s I Want to Work for Diddy. She has also appeared in several television series. This year she became one of the most discussed Transgender women in film with her role as Sophia Burset on the new hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
   Janet Mock: Remains one of the most outspoken Trans Activist of our time. She is a writer, transgender rights advocate and the former staff editor of People magazine’s website. GBM News named her one of the “15 Most Powerful LGBT celebrities of 2012.” This year Mock joined the Board of Directors of the Arcus Foundation; a global foundation dedicated to social justice activism. On February 4, 2014 the anticipated release of her novel, ‘Redefining Realness’, goes on sale and can currently be pre-ordered through her website,

  Mel Wymore: May have lost his bid for first Transgender NY City Council person but it was a heck of a race and gained Mel Wymore national and critical recognition in the media. He appeared often as a spokesperson of today’s political Trans-people on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perryshow. Mel came in a very close second and continues to receive major support from within and outside of the LGBTQ community.
   Chaz Bono: Has continued to make his mark as more than Cher’s Transgender son, but a man with his own voice in American pop culture. He was without at doubt the most discussed and featured Transgender person in media in 2013. His documentary ‘Becoming Chaz, continues as a favorite among Trans documentaries. He is a writer, musician and now reality celebrity since his appearance on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Carmen Carrera: is a transgender reality television celebrity, model and burlesque performer, who has appeared on the RuPaul’s Drag Race. She came out nationally as more than a drag queen but as a transgender person and shined a light on the division within the gay community between drag performers and transgender women. She is currently gaining national recognition as an online petition has been created to make her the first Transgender Victoria Secrets model.
Jazz: The soon to be 13 year old Jazz is without a doubt the most known among Transgender youth. She first appeared nationally in a Barbara Walters special for 20/20 on Transgender youth. The show was so popular and became sort of a cult classic for other Transgender Youth that Barbara Walters herself revisited, five years later, the story of Jazz. She continues to be one of the youngest Transgender activists and was recently the youngest to receive the GLAAD award.

Kristen Beck: is a former Untied States Navy SEAL, who gained national attention this year when she came out as a Trans-woman. Her memoir; Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL’s Journey to Coming out Transgender was released the summer of 2013 and catapulted the conversation of Transgender people in the military to the front of the table. Today nearly every Transgender Rights organization is fighting to make acceptance of Transgender people in the military the final chapter in letting all who wants to serve their country, have the right to serve openly and freely. Currently LGB may serve, but Transgender people are still discriminated against in the military.
9.       Arin Andrews / Katie Hill: The story of teenage Transgender high school sweethearts was one of the most talked about stories of the year. Arin a Trans-man and Katie, a Trans-woman. Trans-men and women falling in love is not  rare, but because of their age and their struggle became focal point of Trans-love; relationships between transgender people and opened up a not so talked about option in Trans dating. Their story was first carried by online magazines world-wide and later featured several times on 20/20.

 MonicaRoberts: is without a doubt the most influential Trans-blogger in the world. Her readership, at Transgriot, is in the millions. She is one, if not the most, respected Transgender bloggers, activist and speakers of our time. She is outspoken on the issue of race relations within the Transgender and greater LGBTQ communities. She also is one of the greatest opponents we have against the TERF’s; a group of Neo-Nazi racist and Transphobic lesbian groups.  Her commentary goes well beyond the Transgender spectrum as she is also one of the best critics of the Republican Party within our community and keeping the Trans and LGBT community afloat on those in the political arena that stand against us.
11.   Aurelius Mark Angel: if the Mayor of Charleston West Virginia was asked who his favorite artists are, one of the names would more than likely be Aurelius. He is one of the most featured and respected artist in the city of Charleston, W.V. His greatest contribution to the community actually is the one few know about. Three years ago, like most states that have a template on Transgender persons gaining legal documentation within their state, West Virginia also required SRS. For most Trans-men this is not a successful and fulfilling option.  With the help of Lamda Legal, Aurelius Mark Angel sued the state of West Virginia to create a new statement concerning legal documentation for Transgender Persons and helped to re-write that statement. Today West Virginia Trans-people who become sterile through surgery are considered the legal sex that they identify with and may receive legal documentation. He is also founder and owner of Olympian Bodies personal training group; providing sports nutrition and fitness inside and outside of the community.

Mark Angelo/Jessica Cummings: are pioneers of the Trans blog talk circuit. Their blog talk radio and show, TransitionRadio, covers the who’s who of the Transgender community. They are regulars on documentaries about Transgender persons on National Geographic and Discovery Channel. They are celebrities of the South Florida LGBT scene and major Transgender activist.
Ryan Cassata: is a musician and public speaker. A trans-man, he speaks at high schools across the country. Speaking against bulling and educating on gender identity disorder. In the past he’s appeared on the Larry King show and today his music fan base is growing rapidly. He has been compared to the likes of John Lennon, Bob Dylan and continues spreading the message of universal love and respect.

14.   Carla Delgado Gomez: is a Canadian-Spanish actress. She is also a respected LGBT rights activist who maintains a large support website for Transgender people. She is also a politician who is serving in the Madrid Assembly, the first Trans-person to serve in a legislature in Spain.
  April Ashley: continues to be a major influence in Transgender culture. As an English model, she was one of the first British people to be outed as Transgender, by the Sunday People in 1961. She continues at the age of 78 as one of the most influential Transgender people in the world and continues to advocate for visibility of all Trans-persons.

Cheryl Courtney-Evans: is an Atlanta based activist and blogger. She is one of the most influential Transgender commentators, activist and outspoken LGBT leaders in the Atlanta Georgia area.
17.   Kokumo Kinetic: is a major up and coming Trans-media mogul with KOKUMO Productions; a black Trans* film, video and theatre production company. She is also an activist and Jazz musician in and around the Chicago Jazz scene.

   Toni Newman: gained national attention with her tell all book, I Rise-The Transformation of Toni Newman, where she details sexual encounters with several hip-hop celebrities like L.L. Cool J., during her time as a Transgender sex worker. Through her determination she earned a law degree and now is an advocate for Transgender Equality.
19.   Ryan Sallans: an out and proud Trans-man, advocate for LGBT rights and author. He travels the nation speaking at Universities and to youth about the life of a Transgender person. His novel ‘SecondSon: Transitioning Toward my Destiny, Love and Life’, continues as a favorite among the ftm community.

Amy Leigh Garbati: is the Transgender rights activist that is single handedly putting South Carolina on the map as the state to watch in the coming years to tackle the issues of Transgender people. In a state that once dare not mention the word Transgender, Amy along with her wife Nancy have placed it on the greater LGBT community advocacy table and demanding that our voices be heard. She advocates for all LGBT in the state to work together and has since been awarded by the SC Equality, the leading LGBT rights organization within the state for her work through out the state. She and her wife Nancy also heads the Charleston Area Transgender Support group.

                                                                HONORABLE MENTION
                         (Other outstanding Transgender people making a difference)
    Randi Wileman  : Activist
    Bravo Kilo : Activist for Trans-military inclusion
   Rebecca Adomaitis: Blogger
   Briana Lynn Taylor: Administrator and activist
   Tye West: Activist, head of Texas Chapter of BlackTransmenInc.
  Claire Sweet: IT specialist and motivationalist at Claire Sweet's Happy Thoughts

   Teri Louise Birdsong: Activist

    Veri Veri Unique: Entrepreneur and activist

    Meggan Sommerville: Trans-Christian blogger

     Nuala Anaïs Shields: Activist

       Most important mention, YOU; every Transgender Man and Woman that dare to live there life with their heads held high. Thank each and everyone of my brothers and sisters, that through your lives we are making the world just that much better for those that follow.

                                         RELATED TOPICS ON TRANSMUSEPLANET


                 2013 Maybe the year of the T

Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Transgender Awarness Week Nov. 15-20

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

So guess what? It seems November is our month and this week is Transgender Awareness week. This week aims to bring attention to the issues faced by transgender and gender-nonconforming people. The week will end with the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when individuals and organizations around the world gather to memorialize the victims of anti-trans hatred and violence.

Our people suffer persistent inequalities in all aspects of life. Transgender people are often the most visible and therefore most marginalized part of the greater LGBT community, particularly those individuals who face multiple oppressions based on class and race,” says Dru Levasseru, Director of Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project.

Every year, the Transgender Awareness week calls to light the need for greater public understanding and acceptance of people whose gender identity or expression differs from societal expectations about how they should look, act, or identify.

  • 50% of transgender individuals report having to teach their medical providers about transgender care
  • 28% report being subjected to harassment in medical settings
  • 19% report being refused care due to their transgender or gender non-conforming status

 According to a recent gay star news report; At least 238 Trans-people have been murdered worldwide this past year. Brazil and Mexico lead the list in the most reported killings of Trans-men and woman, according to a new report released by Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring project. Transgender Europe fears the numbers are only the tip of the iceberg of the real figures. The report only includes the murders of Trans-people that can be documented through publicly available information, or are reported by local advocacy groups. Media organizations – including normally reputable Western names - are often guilty of miss-gendering the victims when they are Trans, making it even more difficult to get a real sense of the problem. And even in countries where rights for gays and lesbians have made progress, it is clear they are still dangerous places for Trans-people to exist. In Brazil, 95 Trans-people were reportedly murdered, and in Mexico, 40 were killed. Other countries include the United States, with 16 murders, Venezuela, with 15, Colombia, with 12, and Turkey, with eight. The project also has found the highest number of murders of minors in the five years it has been keeping statistics. Since the start of 2013, 11 Trans-people under the age of 18 have been killed. Just one of these was a 16-year-old Trans-girl murdered by a mob at a house party in Jamaica. A Transgender Europe spokesman said: ‘The alarming figures demonstrate once more that there is an urgent need to react to the violence against Trans-people and to seek mechanisms to protect Tran- people.

This is an important week to educate those around you about the lives of yourself and other transgender people. Stand tall be visible, if not for you and for the 238 Transgender brothers and sisters that have passed this year alone. I may be new to the Charleston West Virginia area but we will find our way to educate one person this week on what it means to be Trans and to remember those that have fallen.
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Stop Killing My Sisters

I’m Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack

By Sabrina Samone

Yes, I’m back TMP readers, and for the few that may have missed me and my regular post, there have been major reasons. While I am still in the midst of a major transition, (and not the kind we normally discuss, haha), I couldn’t pass this week up without posting as this upcoming Nov. 18 will mark the one year anniversary of Transmuseplanet.  With that in mind: I feel the need to reconnect with my readers or ‘reader’?  J

So what has been going on you may ask? Well after living in the state I came of age, SC, for the past ten years; I left one Charleston by the sea for the other Charleston in the valley of mountains. What would make a Pisces girl leave the ocean? It must be love my friends and my recent engagement to my fire sign warrior. I’m not totally a fish out of water my fellow Pisceans, I’m only blocks away from a beautiful river that splits the charming extremely LGBT friendly Charleston West Virginia in half. It was by that very river after an evening dinner with my boyfriend’s grandmother and family that the man of my dreams Aurelius proposed on old fashioned bended knee.

For the first time ever, outside of Aurelius, my mother and I, I am about to share with you the proposal from my new Fiancé:

Well…this is a TMP blog and do you think I would give the good stuff just yet? J First, how exactly did I end up in Charleston WV? Well my friends if you are reading this then this is how it all happened, nearly one year ago this upcoming November 18th.

Over a year and a half ago a five year relationship had come to an end. Since we have redefined our relationship into more of a sibling relationship I will be kind and only say that it was another example yet again to me that very few  men could be totally faithful to one girl like me, at least after years of being single, it was my conclusion I had finally come to.

With that split I had emerged myself in the one man at the time I believed in, Barrack Obama.  It was the summer of 2012; hot, muggy, and sticky as usual in Charleston, SC, a republican state but a state desperate for change. Though you could not miss out on the typical ‘good old boy’ mouthing off about Obama being a Communist…Nazi…Muslim…Jew…Anti-Christ…Half breed (yes I was told this), I couldn’t resist getting involved. When Obama was first elected, in my neck of the woods, everyone believed it to be no more than a lucky break and if only the Republican Party could re-organize yet again and they did, that they would not allow this to happen again, i.e. their slogan: “Take our country back”. God only knew how worst SC could get in my book for someone like me if he didn’t win. So I volunteered. I called potential voters weekly…then monthly along with others from the Dorchester County Democratic Headquarters. I canvassed the streets for support for our POTUS; I volunteered to help people in North Charleston projects to vote. I was determined to be able to say if he didn’t win, I knew it wasn’t from me not trying to support someone with a message I thought was sorely needed. On November the 4th, Barrack Obama was re-elected to a second term…now what?

Being single was again, no fun. Offers to return to gender illusion shows no longer held the appeal they did for me years ago.  There were no producers in SC offering a Trans-girl a role and the thought of being able to afford to live in New York City so I could do a low paying off off Broadway character quickly fell through. I needed a creative outlet and needed to better my skills so I could finally finish my first novel. An editor friend suggested a blog…but what to write about? It being on the heels of a heated election and feeling socially, politically rebellious I decided to focus my attention on the fractured Trans Community, which was and to some degree still is, divided by race, economics, and regional differences.

After a few months I began receiving comments from a reader; uplifting and very supportive. We connected on facebook and he began to be a major supporter of my little rants here. He liked the TMP facebook page and we began to chat and flirt. I as a trans-woman who appreciates not being liked just because I am a trans-woman but as just another woman could relate to my trans-brother who told me of similar horror stories in his single life. Eventually we began texting, phone conversations through the night and eventually met and both knew it was love at first site.

It has not come at an easy price. While I never saw any trans man I’ve dated as anything but a man as I’d like anyone who dates me , to see me as just a woman, many LGBT and surprisingly T did. But fair weathered friends that are rarely happy for your happiness are rarely friends to begin with.

So fast forward to a few more meetings, weekends and weeks together and as he walked me along what is known as the blvd here in Charleston WV, commenting on the art that is displayed up and down the river, he told me how much it meant to him that his family liked me and I like them…he stops…falls to bended knee and reads what he has written down on a piece of paper, shackingly he says:

“There are a million reasons why I love you. There are a million ways I could tell you and a trillion ways I could show you. There’s simply not enough time in the world or in this life to even express what you mean to me. To have you in my life, to hold you close, to feel your presence with me always is like the air I breathe. I can’t live without it. I want to be by your side to hear every laugh, to see every smile, to share every joy. I want to be right there for you, to wipe away every tear, to calm every fear, to take away all your sadness. You are the one person in this life I simply don’t want to live without. You are the reason the sun shines in my world, even when it’s storming around me. I want you with me for all eternity so I can share with you what you give to me.”

And after that what is a girl to do but say…Hell yes...and I did and I also still hold on to his little piece of paper with plans to have it buried with me lol.

The next phase was a little more complicated…we both could no longer live in separate states. After every visit it became harder and harder to say goodbye. We decided the next step was to move in together to start our life with each other.

Though we are just regular people trying to make a life in this world that stands against us, we know what we have to do in a state with little support for people like us. The work that has been done here has been overlooked within the community. Very few know this, but if you are trans and from West Virginia you can thank Aurelius for being the one, 3 years ago that help changed a law for Trans-women and men to be completely legal without SRS (more to come on that subject in this week’s interview with my new fiancé). We hope that once our lives have settled in nicely; to give back and to form Charleston West Virginia first Trans support and advocacy group with a form of the purple panthers here in West Virginia, of course you will hear it here first on TMP when that time comes.

So friends now you know and I hope my readers can forgive me for my lack of posts over the past 3 months as we went through frustrating long distance engagement to a cross 3 state move, but I am glad to be plugged in and back for duty to continue ranting about what is needed most from our own community and the larger society that WILL GIVE US OUR EQUALITY.

                                      RELATED TOPICS ON TRANSMUSEPLANET