Friday, February 14, 2014

February's Book of the Month: O.E.M; an ftm/mtf Romance by Katie Leone

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

Well it's that time of  year again folks, Valentine's day. So happy Valentine's day to all my Trans sisters and brothers. For many people at different times of our lives, Valentines day is one of those holidays you just wish you could ignore and the 15th would hurry and come. Usually that was me nearly every year of my life, but this year is different due to the recent engagement of my true soul mate. With that in mind, I felt the cupid arrow and did something I've never done. I read a romance novel. Recently on the TMP Facebook page, I came across a post about a book highlighting the beauty of an ftm/mtf romance. This peeked my curiosity and for 3.99 on Amazon I just had to check it out.

Katie Leone is a well known author of Trans related novels and though I've only read this one, I'm determined to see what other adventures her characters are up too.

In OEM, there are very few characters and through the first few chapters this seemed a blessing. The main characters are Amy and John.  Amy, a female mechanic with a very up in your face approach to life  who operates out of the towns most respected garage with her less than tactful red neck brother Timmy. John, is a  soft spoken romance novelist. Somewhat eccentric in town given the fact he becomes temporarily his characters. He once dated Amy. We're told through the story that the relationship did not work. John felt that Amy challenged his manhood and Amy thought John was not much of a man to begin with. The story starts with this piece of information as we watch a close friendship become more.

After John's manhood is thrown into question by Amy's brother Timmy and Amy's femininity by John. The two place a bet. Amy bets she is more of a man than John and John more of a woman that Amy. The story gets a little confusing at this point...

At first it appears the author must be appealing to an uneducated audience or puts too much effort in names and pronouns. John gradually becomes Jasmine,but even after we as the reader understand this we are constantly  reminded of John and that Jasmine is him. The same goes for Amy who gradually becomes Nick. For several chapters it nearly feels like four characters but then the genius of the author is revealed.

Through out the story we watch both Amy/Nick and John/Jasmine go through the changes of trying to win the bet, that one is better at being the opposite sex than the other. What happens is the realization that it's more than a bet and their true identities are revealed. It is during the planned date night, the night the bet should have been won, that each character sees the other in their true identity and from that moment on the author chooses to use each of their preferred names.

Katie Leone, I think did a great job, not only writing a sweet, romantic comedy but in a way educated a potential uneducated reader about when is the time to use preferred names and pronouns. Whether this was planned or not, it stood out as a valuable teaching tool as well as a romantic novel. Even at this point in the story both characters also chose to respect each others new identify.

Well what happens to Nick and Jasmine? I guess it would be why they call them romance novels. A beautiful story about two people transforming their lives only to find that the person they loved before is still there to be loved by them.

The biggest surprise comes from the author at the end, that gives not one ending; for the more conservative reader, but the type of ending many of us expects from a hot steamy romance novel.

Without a doubt OEM; an ftm/mtf Romance, is a must read for this Valentines Day regardless of gender. It's proof that love transcends all things.

Click to purchase OEM: an ftm/mtf romance on Amazon

                                  RELATED TOPICS ON TRANSMUSEPLANET

September book of the month; Trans Love: Radical Sex, Love & Relationships beyond the Gender Binary

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trans Faces #5: Marky; Transgenderation with Carolina Pride

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

     Growing up in a small football town in rural South Carolina as a budding Trans was not easy to say the least. After growing up, moving away and hearing the horror stories of other LGB and Trans people, I had to be a little thankful because it could have been worse. When I was a student at Hartsville High, living your life as Trans wasn't an option; few of us knew what the name for someone who did not want the biological equipment assigned. Our peers called us RuPaul, so that must be what it meant to live in the wrong body at the time. I was often told by random girls on the school bus, "oh I hate you...your figure is better than mine. All you need are boobs." I remember thinking how I wanted to scream out, "how...where...please tell me." All I could focus on was getting the heck out of that school and into a life I knew had to somehow be more fulfilling. After I left, a fellow student hadn't been so lucky. A young gay guy, a couple of years behind me, locked himself up in his families apartment, doused the place with gas and burned himself in his home. We all had been bullied, even bullied by those that later would be making out in gay bars themselves, but a few didn't make it out alive and many who did...the mental scars were obvious.

Across the country many LGBT teens continue to fight ignorance everyday while just trying to be a kid. Many Trans-youth along with supportive families are fighting back. Several stories came out in 2013 of Trans-youth fighting for the right to use the proper restroom. Many in mainstream society can only think of it as a sexual issue when a kid insists on using the restroom that fits their dress and gender identity. They don't even consider how it looks for a girl in a dress, who is still biologically male but yet still dressed as a female, walks into a male bathroom. The risk and dangers to this youth are too long to list here, but schools across the country who insist on turning a blind eye to Trans-youth issues are putting their lives, and the mental health of thousands of others in jeopardy.

I moved away from the town in which I grew up and went to high school and did my best not to ever look back due to the large scale of ignorance I encountered. I still have family and close friends there and continue now to visit, but for years after I left I would not return.

Times have changed slower than other places, but changed non the less. A old high school friend contacted me on face book. She told me the story of a local teen whom she was close with and revealed the turmoil they faced at school as a Trans-youth. She wanted them to have someone like them to talk to if needed. What I found was a kid's story that reminded me of the ignorance I once faced at Hartsville High School and how I'd hoped another tragedy could be avoided.

Marky is first a foremost a Trans-teen, a minor, so I will only be revealing her first name with no pictures in order to protect her identity. Bibi Rowan, my dear friend from school, and Transmuseplanet are available to be reached if any South Carolina advocates or organizations would like to reach out to assist Marky and Hartsville High School in ways to promote unity and equality in Hartsville South Carolina.

Here are the words of a Trans youth living in rural South Carolina:

1.       TMP: Marky, when did you know you were not Gay but Transgender and how has that affected your relationships with friends and family?

Marky: Well to be honest I knew for a while. I just recently got the strength to tell my friends and most of them support me. I can say I have lost a lot of friends as well, but oh well, who needs them?

2.       TMP: I actually went to Hartsville High School in South Carolina, maybe just a decade before you J, but seriously, it was extremely difficult being a Trans teen then. How extreme is the bullying you've experienced there at HHS?

Marky: Well…I get everything from giggles, name calling, and threats. It just depends on who is around and who I am hanging out with.

3.       TMP: Are there any rules or guidelines against bullying any LGBT person in place yet at your school?

Marky: There are rules on bullying, but nobody really gets in trouble for it…that I know of.

4.       TMP: Could you tell us about your typical school day and life as a Trans student in rural South Carolina?

Marky:  I do basically everything my girlfriends do. We eat together, walk together, trade make up tips, etc…

5.       TMP: Currently across the country, there are trans-youth fighting the right to use the bathroom that best reflects their gender. For many reasons this is practical and logical but it hasn't been accomplished in states like California without a major battle. You've stated to me that you have had issues with this at your school. Tell us what happened in detail when you used the proper restroom befitting your dress and gender identity?

Marky: I get bullied when I go to the men’s bathroom. So I chose to go to the women’s restroom because that’s comfortable for me. As I was walking in, there were a group of girls who were walking out. I heard the snickering and laughing but I didn't really care. So I just walked in, used it, washed my hands, and when I came out my teacher was waiting on me with an assistant Principle. I mean I understand the rules, but I was not thinking of that, I was thinking about my safety. So the assistant Principle wrote me up for three days of OSS (out of school suspension). I tried explaining to him that I identified as female, but he had to do what the rules said.

6.       TMP: I’d like to ask you something serious and very personal if you don’t mind? The reasons would be obvious to many readers here because of the rash of incidents across the country. Marky, have you ever attempted or contemplated suicide due to the bullying and harassment you've received?

Marky: Yes I have. It’s hard to answer that because people know me as such a strong individual, but every strong person has a breaking point.

7.       TMP: Does any school official know the extent of the bullying and harassment you've endured, and have they tried to address it?

Marky: I have told some teachers. All that really happens is they get sent to the main office.

8.       TMP: How would you like to see the school address the bullying and bathroom issue at your school?

Marky: I would like them to get stricter on bullying and make a safe place for Transgender youth to use the bathroom without being bullied or harmed.

9.       TMP: Marky, where would you like to see yourself in ten years and the life you’d be living?

Marky: I would love to see myself as a beautiful person with a husband and possibly kids.

10.   TMP: If you had one chance to tell the world and knew everyone would hear you at once. What would you like them to know about Marky?

Marky: I would want to let everyone know it’s okay to be yourself. Let your light shine. Everyone is beautiful. <3

 Bibi Rowan, contacted me during this interview to provide an update to Marky's dilemma with the restrooms at HHS. She was not given OSS since they did not determine the motive was sexual, but she is still denied use of the women's restroom until she has fully transitioned.

If you are part of a local organization for Trans and or LGBT equality and would like to reach out to Marky and her family, you may first contact Bibi Rowan or Transmuseplanet for further contact.  

                                RELATED TOPICS ON TRANSMUSEPLANET

                                               The Rise of the Transgenderation?

                                               Trans Faces #4 A Step into Teko's World

          Trans* Faces #3: Veri Unique; she came..she her own unique way.

                  Trans* Faces #2: Ryan Cassata: One World...One Love...One Community

                            Trans* Faces #1: A chat with Lyle G. of Munich Germany