Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today I was Given The Key to The Abyss

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

Today I was given the keys to the abyss.

What is this thing the prophets speak of,
the dreaded darkness that's destined to be?
The great whore, evil, that will ride her bucks with immaculate fornication.

The truth is worse than the fiction.
It's the unicorn with no horn pointing to a golden destiny.
A mermaid too numb and blind, to realize she hasn't been transcending dimensions, only roaming aimlessly.
It's a muse no longer a believer in the hope of music,
a fairy unable to wave a wand of faith.

Today I was given the key to the abyss.
It isn't the final countdown I was told would be.
The truth is much worse than the fairy tale.

It's a little boy forever unwanted or chosen to play.
A little girl whose innocence has been lost to the ideal divinity of a father.
The in between, plagued by the fearful knowing of being everything, forever in between...with no escape.

Yes, it's when an open heart, full of human love, magical hope, and divine faith, enters the blackness of nothing. Not an evil, or wicked type of blackness, but simply a void of anything.
Yes today I was given the keys to the abyss, and it's so much worse than the scripture claimed it would be.

It's the awakening of an abyss in me, but it's the nothingness, that somehow I knew and feared one day would be.
Void of hope, faith, and magic, I see a void in the world and me.
That key named regret,
so now it will always be.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Trans Faces #18 Nicki Andro; Straight Out of Stonewall...One Beat...One Rhyme, That Will Not Be Silent

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

Nicki Andro

They say, that time heals all wounds. Sometimes that can take years, but here we are. Though we have come a long way as a trans community in the last ten or so years, we are also aware we have much more progress to make. Fifty-five years ago, within some one's lifetime, black and white were still segregated, gay and lesbian's still hid behind fake marriages and congregated in secret locations. Those days during the Motown sound, there were very little mentioning of interracial dating, and there were only occasional mentions of people changing genders, like Christine Jorgensen .

It would be another twenty years before the urban sounds of Motown morphed from disco to the hip hop beats of Afrika Bambaataa, known now as the father of hip hop. The industry became quickly synonymous with aggressive male masculinity, street gangs, prison and day to day hardships of life in urban slums. It would be in this patriarchal system's climate, that women like MC Lyte, Salt n Pepa and Queen Latifah struggled to emerge. They struggled, yet successfully changed the face of hip hop with out compromising themselves as women, unlike some of the top female artist of today, that use sexuality to gain attention. These women were tough, in your face and was not about to degrade themselves or other women to have their voice be heard. I could go on about how I admire those early female pioneers of hip hop, but this is not a story about them, but about the potential new face of hip hop.

Over the years hip hop has become commercialized and embedded into nearly every aspect of American pop culture. It's now universal among most cultures, religions, etc., yet remains extremely homophobic and transphobic. Many TBLG hip hop artist have tried making their name in music, just as those like P-diddy and Snoop-dog once did, but denied. This attitude from the hip hop industry may have gone unchecked or addressed until recent supporters like Macklemore demonstrated in the hit song 'Same Love' , a time of change is needed.

Now with artist like Azealia BanksCazwell, Fly Young Red & gender queer and trans artist like Mykki BlancoKatastrophe, & Katey Red, the walls are being broken down, one rhyme at a time.

Artist like Katey Red and Katastrophe may have taken the "shock" out of transgender rappers within the hip hop industry, but it's newest crop of transgender hip hop artist are demanding it's respect and claiming it along the way. Nicki Andro, is among a new genderation of hip hop artist, with lyrics and rhyme the founding fathers of hip hip would stand and take notice. I have been extremely impressed by her voice and message and it's time my TMP readers get to know the new face of hip hop, Nicki Andro.

1. TransMusePlanet: Representation of Trans people in the media has been a long, and hard road. Recently we have established our presence in news, the fashion industry, film, art, television, and in literature. How ready, do you feel, is the need for the Trans voice in hip hop music?

Nicki Andro: I think Hip Hop is ready and is welcoming us with open arms, but we aren't executing the best methods to approach it. There are many transgender rappers that posses a lyrical arsenal that cannot be denied by true hip hop fans, but who don't have the connections to be heard, and many of us don't get support from our own community, that could be crucial in elevating us to a higher spotlight. Many of the trans rappers that do have a spotlight get a bit too graphic on their trans experiences, and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, we must understand that hip hop is known to be a transphobic and homophobic culture for the most part. It would take a lot for them to respect us, and the best way to do so is to make them listen to us, not  make them turn our songs off because we are sayi8ng things they aren't used to hearing in a rap song. We should start off with music that appeals to many groups as opposed to only one group. We must earn their respect first, then anything goes.

2. TMP: The hip hop industry has been labeled for years as a misogynistic genre of music. It has been hard for it's cis-gender women to find acceptance. What are some of the prejudices you've experienced?

N.A.: There have been many experiences I can bring up. Many men have been interested in making
music with me, while thinking that I am a cis-gender woman, then completely back out when I tell them I am transgender. I have also lost many rap battles because I am transgender. I haven't experienced any negativity from anyone within the hip hop culture while they thought I was cis-gender, which has made me believe that the misogyny aura has been reduced. I will say, however, that although I have only experienced such prejudice from the straight women and men of the world, cis-gender people have also been the biggest supporters of my music.

3.  TMP:  Being Trans can be difficult in any culture, but it can be harder in some more than other, due to religious beliefs among others. What is your experience been like, coming out Trans, in a Haitian Catholic community?

N.A.: My experience has been horrible. Being in a Haitian/Catholic family, I had been taught at a very young age to hate the LGBT community before I even understood I was part of it. So, growing  up, I often had thoughts of wanting to be a woman, and felt guilt, disgust, and self-hatred every time those thoughts crossed my mind. That self-hatred also lead me to numerous suicide attempts. For 30 years, I thought I was a weird man with homosexual tendencies, but I had no idea that I'm transgender, mainly because I didn't feel comfortable allowing my mind to explore that possibility. Many Haitian people see me as the worst thing anyone could ever be. My ex fiancee, a Haitian woman, had told me that if we had a son, she would kill him if he was gay, but would let him live if he was a serial killer. Also, I have been constantly blamed for being the cause of many people's sorrows, and my truth has caused my mom to get ridiculed often by other Haitian people. But I would say, but I would say that the most difficult part of it all is knowing that my truth would cause me to lose connections with family members. My love for them is too immense.

4. TMP:  In 2014, you were about to be married and your truth was still unknown to family. You ended the marriage and came out as transgender. What were some of the challenges you've had to overcome with family?

N.A.:  I face challenges such as having to prove my sanity to my family. My story is unusual, in the sense that I was a very manly man through my entire life. Nobody saw anything in me that would make them think I was not a straight man. I was a good actor, but nobody could see the torment I was fighting inside, the constant feeling of existing but not living. So when I called off the wedding, nobody understood why at first, since my ex-fiancee and I seemed to be in good terms. A month later, I announced that I was transgender, and from then I have been labeled as crazy by many family members, even to this day. I think my revelation wouldn't have been as bad if I had been known as a gay or feminine guy and then came out as trans. This belief that I have lost my mind created an environment of family members praying and hoping, and also trying to insult or shame me, thinki8ng that such actions will make me "snap" out of it. It's painful to witness. It's almost as if I had died when I came out, and am forced to constantly see my family mourn my death, wasting too much time desperately trying to resuscitate the old me, not being able to accept that he is gone. The old me is gone for good.

5. TMP:  One of your recent songs, 'Distant Hearts', deals with the death of transgender people. You state, that the death of Leelah Alcorn and the countless murders of trans women of color were your inspiration. Why is this an important message for a hip hop audience, in your opinion?

N.A.: I felt that this message was important not just for a hip hop music audience, but for everyone that doesn't know much about us. All that people see is the "end result" but not the journey. Many people assumed that Leelah Alcorn was oversensitive because they only saw the outside, but every transgender person can relate with what she was dealing with on the inside. When Leelah left, I was very touched by her story, how she had un-accepting, religious parents like me. How her parents would still not refer to her as a female even after her departure. I was emotional when I got on my laptop, and all of the words to that song just started coming to me non-stop. Many parents believe that we trans women, can take their mental abuse because we have other "people like us", as my mom often telss me, that uplift us. But they don't know the common lack of support in the trans community. On the song, I spoke about ,my experiences of how my own black and transgender communities seem to harm me more than those outside, and how we working together, can make all of us become stronger. I feel that bigots support each other with hate more than we support each other with love. I wanted to contribute to a positive change, just as Leelah wanted. She said her "death needs to mean something," and I am glad to see that many of us have shown her that she means a lot to us.

6. TMP:  How important do you feel it is for the other persecuted minority groups, such as African American's, Latino's and Women, to stand in solidarity with the Trans Community?

N.A.: I feel that this is extremely important. Latinos, African Americans, and Women, all face discrimination, and if they took the time to get to know our transgender community, as they ask of themselves, they would also see that we are likely to face the same discrimination. Women have fought for years for equality, and that in itself should make them want to support us, to help us thrive in our own fight for equality. The African Americans and Latinos are a minority group in this country. They are singling out people within their own community because of gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, gang affiliation, or other things. I believe this make those communities, or any community, weaker. Unity is strength.

7. TMP: Do you feel that the growing number of transgender rappers can change that perception through music?

N.A.: Yes, I believe so. Music is very influential. It can persuade someone to do good or bad thing, or to have positive or negative feelings toward any person or thing. Once transgender people are common in mainstream hip hop, our influence will be extreme. All it takes is for some of us to be cosigned by someone who is well respected in hip hop, and that will suddenly ,ake people want to hear what we have to say, they will pay attention, because a respected member of hip hop noticed us. When those days come, we will have a very powerful platform to raise awareness.

8. TMP:  What are some of the other issues you address in your lyrics?

N.A.: I address the corruption of real hip hop, how the poetry side of rap is no longer appreciated the way it used to be. Also, I address how  what we as trans people go through can make someone change for the worse, and how we must try our best to not let that happen. I often address transgender stereotypes in either serious or joking manners. I address the petty competition found within the trans community. All in all, my songs are created from real feelings, and there are many more issues I plan to rap about once I create the right beats for those subjects.

9. TMP: Where can TMP readers purchase your music?

N.A.: I don't have any songs for sale as of yet but here is my youtube channel. It has most of my songs as well as some beats I produced. It would mean the world to me if TMP readers would like and subscribe to my channel. I only have 61 subscribers so far. Although I have no songs for sale, I do sale beats and I also ghostwrite. For that, TMP readers may email , @ nickiandromusic@gmail.com.

10. TMP: I like to ask my guest here at TMP, if you could tell the world something about Nicki Andro, and you knew everyone would hear, what would you like them to know about you?

N.A.: Nicki Andro is someone who is very loving, caring, and giving, because bringing a smile to someone's face brings her joy. She has no issue taking shine away from herself to share if with someone. She isn't selfish, and when she makes it, she will continue supporting everyone, especially her trans sisters and brothers.

These days, Trans culture has penetrated every genre of our society; govt., pop music, movies, fashion, literature, television, and now, along with a new crop of transgender rappers like Amirra Daye Smith, who Nicki often collaborate, they are among a new wave that will change the face of hip hop. It's time...that the hip hop industry's long standing reputation of transphobia and homophobia be abolished. Until then, it will be continually fueling the anger of a new genderation of hip hop artist, not like the ones that longed to be 'Straight Out of Compton', a place of poverty, but by the anger of those forced, ridiculed, labeled and disenfranchised like no culture in the human race has had to endure. A voice of anger to be accepted by the hip hop industry is screaming, 'Straight Out Of Stonewall.', and it will no be silent.

To Connect and Follow Nicki Andro


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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ashley Diamond Speaks Out about Being Raped in Georgia Prison

Sabrina Samone, TMP

Ashely Diamond says, in a recent 11alive news segment, that she was raped and mistreated in a male jail cell in Georgia.

Diamond, 36, was serving time for burglary, theft by receiving, and escaping police custody in Floyd County. During that time, she said she was raped, ridiculed and tormented by inmates and staff at five different Georgia prisons, including Baldwin State Prison and Georgia State Prison.

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Diamond told the local reporters in Atlanta.  “As soon as I got there, I was immediately told to strip in front of other men. Of course, there were stares and hollers. It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life.”

According to Diamond, the assaults began immediately. She said she was  “targeted right away.” “It was an every night thing,” She said of the attacks. “The staff turned a blind eye to it all. I think that the gangs run the prisons. I think that I was extorted and used.”

She was also denied hormonal therapy, which she had been taking for almost 20 years to enhance her feminine characteristics and suppress masculine features.

“My body began to morph, which was very painful. I literally thought I was going to die. I was very vocal from the beginning about needing my therapy.”

Since being released from prison, things have not been any easier for Diamond, who is currently living in Rome, Ga., the town she grew up in.

“Not everyone, in Rome, has warmly received me, but I definitely am fighting for a change in the prison system.”

Ashley Diamond's experience continues to bring to light the issues faced by transgender people, male or female identified, to be placed in a jail cell with those representing the opposite gender, is an act of violence against transgender individuals. A crime in itself, committed by law enforcement and others in charge of forcing the law. Every state has prisoner rights and this is in violation  of those rights. Someone with the appearance and characteristics of a female, placed alone, behind bars, with men is inhuman and a human rights issue.



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Fall Season S.U.V. Spoiler; Transgender Bridge Episode

Sabrina Samome, TMP

There are many thing in which ‘Law & Order: SVU” continually strives to do, by working to tell some of the most relevant stories to what’s going on today, in the news. They have tackled such topics as celebrity culture, online threats, and even in the upcoming September 23 premiere; a case with some similarities to the infamous case of Robert Durst.
For the upcoming Sept. 30th episode, the show is really going to be diving into transgender issues, in the fittingly titled ‘Transgender Bridge.’  The episode is said to be about a young woman being bullied and attacked in school just for being herself, and some of the ramifications that come along with that.
First look here at the synopsis for the ‘Transgender Bridge Episode’

“15 year-old Avery Parker (guest star Christopher Dylan) walks home from school through Fort Tryon Park when she’s surrounded by a group of rowdy boys. Taunts and jokes intensify to pushing and shoving, leaving Avery in the hospital and three assailants under arrest. When the DA’s office decides to try one of the culprits, 15 year-old Darius McCrae (guest star Dante Brown), as an adult, the SVU squad agonizes over whether the punishment fits the crime, and must deal with the pain of both families involved.”

There are many thing in which ‘Law & Order: SVU” continually strives to do, by working to tell some of the most relevant stories to what’s going on today, in the news. They have tackled such topics as celebrity culture, online threats, and even in the upcoming September 23 premiere; a case with some similarities to the infamous case of Robert Durst.
For the upcoming Sept. 30th episode, the show is really going to be diving into transgender issues, in the fittingly titled ‘Transgender Bridge.’  The episode is said to be about a young woman being bullied and attacked in school just for being herself, and some of the ramifications that come along with that.
First look here at the synopsis for the ‘Transgender Bridge Episode’

We are all too familiar with this sensitive topic, and it should hit home for many transgender viewers, young and old, especially in the present climate of excessive murders and bullying. We can expect, SUV style, to dig deep into the thinking of a bully and what it means to be a transgender teen in one of the most populated areas in America.
I haven’t been a fan of the show, but come Sept. 30th, I plan on watching. While Hollywood maybe finally catching up to the diverse topic of being Trans, we must remember as a community that Hollywood is the most fickle of all businesses. If they are willing to tackle our issues and show the world we exist, we need to show our support and watch.

I’ll be planning an SUV night with snacks…see you there J.




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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Trans Faces #17 Jake Graf; Brace Yourself for the Most Talked About Award Winning Director

By Sabrina Samone, TMP
Jake Graf

A couple of months ago I came across a brilliant short film, Brace. The film takes place in London and centers around two main characters. An intimate look into the lives of two people whose paths cross.

Naturally I wanted to know more about who was behind the film, the actors, writers, etc. I was pleasantly surprised to see an award winning trans filmmaker was behind the scenes. As many trans men in our community know, there are few representations of trans masculinity in the media. We are all familiar with Chaz Bono, and that's about as far as it goes when it comes to main stream acknowledgement of trans men. Fortunately now, there are a fresh crop of young male leaders stepping onto the scene in day time drama t.v., 'The Bold and the Beautiful', a possible cover of 'Men's Health Magazine'. Also in the music scene with artist like Lucas Silvera, Lil One, Katastrophe, and all these future leaders of trans masculinity can be found in one of the undisputed leading magazines of trans culture,  FTM Magazine. A magazine that is greatly responsible for placing the men in front of the line, as we are seeing this year.

One of the cover features for FTM Magazine is Jake Graf, an award winning trans producer, director, and writer. The producer of the films; X-Why, Cocktale , Brace and the newly completed Chance. He's  the first U.K. trans filmmaker featured in the British Council's pioneering film project FiveFilmsForFreedom.

I'm honored that I got the chance to chat with this amazing producer, and a new trans faces interview the readers of TMP have been asking more of. Now we go a musing and get to know this amazing film maker TMP sytle.

TMP: 1. In a July issue of the UK's Attitude Magazine, you stated that when you were growing up you didn't see masculine representation in media. Therefore, that led to an early, lonely existence for you. How difficult was that part of your life for you?

Jake Graf: I knew pretty much as soon as I was able to vocalize it, (around 3 years old) that I was a boy, and that something was seriously wrong. I knew that I was missing parts that the other boys had, and that forcing me into a dress at holidays and birthdays simply made me dread what should have been happy occasions. It was tough, as I'm sure it is for most of us. I had a kind, loving family, they just didn't have a clue what was going on, and their dismissiveness just made things harder, and more isolating for me. I ended up being a very lonely, lost, angry and resentful young man, for which no one is to blame. The awareness and education just wasn't there.

TMP: 2. When you had that moment of experiencing trans masculinity in the media for the first time, who was it, and how was that revelation for you?

J.G.: I guess it must have been 'Boys Don't Cry, and to be honest, I can't imagine a sadder, more jarring, more worrying first glimpse of the trans male experience on screen! I actually can't watch that film anymore. It's simply too heartbreaking.

TMP: 3. How important do you feel it is for our trans men to step forward into a more visible leadership role in trans society?

J.G.: I feel that it's absolutely vital that more trans men step out of the shadows, but again, it certainly depends on everyone's personal experience. I wouldn't ask anyone to reveal themselves, or put themselves out there unless it was the right thing for them, and was safe, and what they felt comfortable with. I personally was tired of the lack of representation, so I decided to do something about it. Someone recently told me that it was a bit cheesy, but my current life mantra is 'Be the change you want to see!'

TMP: 4. What steps have you taken that you are most proud of in your films; that have contributed to trans masculine visibility?

J.G.: I began writing my first short, XWHY, the minute I decided to start my transition. I wanted to
use my own experiences and physical changes to document the changes that were going on for the lead character. We shot over two years, and even though we had zero budget, it was fresh, unique, and got a good reception. That gave me confidence to carry on writing trans content. After that, I wrote Brace, which again illustrated what was going on for me at the time, but shot at a much higher level. Brace has done so well, as it came out at a time when the world was ready to see trans guys on screen, and we had huge support from the international festival circuit. Brace is now available online for everyone to see, but festivals are also still requesting it. It's been great, and I am very proud of all the team. They did an amazing job.

TMP: 5. Brace is an exceptional short film. We don't get to see the complexities of our community's actors dating on screen. How much of these struggles have you taken from your own life experiences?

J.G.: Brace is an incredibly personal story to me. I had a beautiful, understanding and wonderful girlfriend when I started my transition, who I dated for three years. Within about 6 months on T, I started to find myself strongly attracted to men for the first time ever. On top of everything else happening at the time, it was confusing, distracting,  and made me question pretty much everything that I felt I knew about myself...! I broke up with my girlfriend, which was heartbreaking all round, and dated a couple of guys, one that I remain very close to now. I think that now things have leveled out. I realize that hormones have had a massive impact on my sexuality, something which I would never have thought possible. I am now attracted to both men and women, and find strong, bright, kind and driven people incredibly sexy, regardless of gender.

TMP:  6. Is there a chance we could one day see Brace as a feature film or even a series?
From the Film Brace

J.G.:  I would love to expand on Brace! Most criticism that we've received has been that it's not longer, which can't be a bad thing. I would happily revisit, and I'm sure that all of the original cast would jump on board, it would just be a question of finding the funding to really do it justice. Money does tend to play a big factor when self funding film...!

TMP:  7. Your latest film, Chance, was one of five films selected to take part in the project #fivefilmsforfreedom, in association with the BFI, and the British Council to promote tolerance and understanding worldwide. How important do you feel that moment is for the greater trans community, and specifically filmmakers?

J.G.:  When Chance was selected for #fivefilmsforfreedom, we were all over the moon, although at the time no one really understood how far reaching it would be, as it was a brand new concept. We were one of five films that went out across 142 countries worldwide, and we had messages back from so far afield as Lebanon, Russia, and Turkey. It was really moving. To be chosen was amazing, and to be the trans filmmaker in the pack made it even more exciting. Encouragingly, that aspect wasn't pushed, as it wasn't relevant. I wasn't the token trans filmmaker, but just a filmmaker. Surely that the dream, right?

TMP: 8. You mentioned your first film had zero budget. What was the budget for Brace?

J.G.:  I recently met with a production company who estimated the budget for Brace at 50k, and they were floored when I told them it cost us 10k.

TMP: 9. We are faced worldwide, with a new spotlight on our community. Some are positive and sadly many are still negative. Share with us, if any, unique challenges faced by the trans community in the UK?

J.G.: The UK is always a bit behind the US with things like gay and trans rights movements, although
I couldn't say exactly why. As such, although things are catching up over here, there are a fewer trans actors, models, and activists in the UK than in the US. Also, there are fewer of us over here to find that representation. It was while briefly in New York 10 years ago, that Imet my first trans man, a great guy named Nicco, who really inspired me, and talked me through everything. He made me feel like it would all be okay, and I arrived back in London raring to go,to a scene where trans was still a totally foreign concept! It was another year before I bit the bullet, and I think that that slightly slower progress does hold the community here back somewhat. Otherwise, I can't think of any other challenges that are UK specific, although I may be wrong!

TMP: 10. I like to ask my guests here at TMP, if you could tell the world something about Jake Graff, and you knew everyone would hear, what would you like them to know about you?

J.G.:  I would like them to know that I feel very lucky to have an incredibly supportive mother who has unwaveringly been there for me from the minute that she understood what it meant to have a trans son, and amazing friends, who have always just seen me as one of them, and loved me despite all of the ups and downs. I credit them for the man that I am today, and can only thank them for that. I think if we all had that from a young age, the trans experience wouldn't be nearly so tough. It's because of all that that I am so adamant that I must leave the world a better place than when I came in, whatever it takes!

Representation of our community is still only a fraction of what the entertainment businesses produces. Yet many are stepping forward to change that and Jake Graf can count himself among those changers of the future.  He joins a small, but powerful growing list of trans filmmakers demanding their talents be noticed, not their gender, and bringing the issues of the varied trans experience to film. Brace is an example of the films portraying, about and created by trans filmmakers this year. Together they are showing the world what we as a community know; our stories have only begun to be told.

Brace the Film

To Follow and learn more of Jake Graf @ Up & Up Prod
               Facebook Fan Page 
               Vimeo profile  


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Friday, September 4, 2015

Trans Woman Sues Her Parents to Live Her Truth

Sabrina Samone, TMP

Christine Kitzler (left) a transgender woman from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, looks on as her surgeon, Dr. Christine McGinn, talks to reporters Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. A judge has temporarily blocked Kitzler's gender-reassignment surgery while he considers her parents' request she be declared incompetent. (Michael R. Sisak/The Associated Press)

A Myrtle Beach, SC, Trans sister faced her own parents in court over a gender confirmation surgery. Despite her parent’s plea against it, a Pennsylvania area judge gave her the ok to move forward with the procedure.

Christine was initially prevented from obtaining surgery when her parents filed an emergency petition Monday demanding that a guardian be appointed for Ktzler and preventing doctors from operating on her, claiming she was incompetent, Kitzler's lawyer said.
Wednesday, 48 year old Christine Kitzler was given the OK from a Philadelphia area judge to go ahead with her surgery Thursday.  A decision her fellow friends and supporters in Myrtle Beach’s transgender community are thankful for.

After winning the case against her own parents Kitzler herself explained to reporters outside the court house, that she would never want to go back to the way her life was. “Return to my bad addictions like alcohol, I can’t do it. I both can’t do it and I won’t do it. I’ve explored the freedom of being true to who I am,” Kitzler told reporters.

Veronica Walters, the director of the local support groupT-time said, “For the last two years I would say, it’s been the main thing on her mind and her goal. Transgender people are just people who are trying to live their lives as honestly as they can to find happiness in life.’

Many of us know that not being able to live your life on the outside, the way you feel on the inside, is not an option. It’s horrifying this woman had to go to such links to proclaim herself.  It’s hard enough to not have acceptance from your parents but to have them take you to court, fighting for who you are. A human being should not have to go through such links just to be a human.

The good news is she won, having her surgery and well on her way to living her authentic self. I hope parents who refuse to accept their children can see this and ask themselves, do I want to have to torment my child that much, or worse, to lose them all together?

Video Of News Link

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

When a Person Wants To Pee...They Just Want to Pee

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

There are many things a young identified man in high school may have on his mind. How to ask a girl out to a concert, money to cruise town with his friends, uniforms, and camping trips. Our identified females in high school  have their list too; make up, boys, shopping etc. I never once saw a scene in 'Ridgemont High', or 'The Breakfast Club', or even 'Mean Girls', where the teenagers biggest dilemma was how can they pee. Will they be allowed too urinate in a public bathroom, or will they be assaulted because their represented gender does not correspond with others in the room?

If you are not someone affected by this, this may seem humorous to you. You may accuse those speaking out as trouble makers, of nit picking the issue or something frivolous. I myself, trans, am often shocked, at how hard many seem to not understand this basic need to just pee. When you are trans this is no laughing matter. On the scale of Maslow's hierarchy of 'Basic Human Needs', excretion is a physiological need, which are among other physiological needs as the most basic of all human needs. Without them all the others are jeopardized. The needs of safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self actualization, are all compromised if physiological needs aren't met. This is what is happening to trans youth at a very pivotal moment in their development as 'self.'

I was asked by a cis person on my job only few weeks ago about the matter. They simply wanted to know, 'why wasn't this an issue ten, twenty, or more years ago. Why now?'. Ten years ago, there was only a quarter of trans visibility in the world than it is now. There were fewer youth that would dare come out to family out of fear of rejection and becoming homeless at age 12 or younger. Those who tried, the suicide rates of those days can tell you the story better than I can to what happens, statistically to open transgender youth. It is still an epidemic. Twenty years ago, you may have been beaten to death in school, which if you survived the beatings, you would remain scared for life. Many who were bullied suffered a life of mental illness, drug addiction, and low self-esteem. Before then many just dropped out of school and never received an education out of fear. When you know better...you do better, and that is where we are in society concerning trans youth today.

The medical community has come to realize gender dysphoria is treatable through hormone therapy and counseling. Tragically, to many parents have learned the devastating consequences of ignoring their trans child's cry for self actualization. Many states have learned from the past and have the wisdom not to let history repeat itself, by changing laws. Today, with parents and legal guardian consent, guidance, and love, many trans youth are free to seek medical help. After decades of seeing the results of no medical help for transgender youth, the medical community is opening more doors to help treat gender dysphoria in children. Consequently, laws must be adapted to assist these medically treated children and several states have begun to do so.  Ten states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon,Vermont and Washington) and the District of Columbia have laws specifically prohibiting gender identity discrimination in public schools and, in some cases, private schools that receive state funding. In these states, school officials may not harass, or allow others to harass, a student based on the student’s gender identity. In addition to those states,Maryland and North Carolina require that school districts have a policy against harassment and bullying based on a list of characteristics that includes gender identity.Increasingly, schools and school districts have also adopted policies protecting transgender students from discrimination, providing that transgender students be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms and participate in sports in accordance with their gender identity.

What happens to a  youth still faced with a leader in their school system, that out of their personal beliefs, defy the law? The TBGL community is all too familiar with personal attacks of individuals defying the law. In Kentucky, a petition is urging the removal of a county clerk, who even after court order to perform legal same-sex marriages, refuses to obey the law. In Orgeon, a young trans brother has written to TMP about similar attempts to hinder the law in his state of Oregon. Oregon law protects trans youth from harassment, discrimination and protects their right to use restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their presented gender identity. Yet, he is denied based on a school officials personal choice. Here is his letter.

I'm Leon and I would like to share my story. I live in Oregon and there are laws here protecting discrimination against transgenders using the bathroom of their choice. I told my school counselor about having my name changed on my paperwork since I came out during the summer. She asked me if I would still feel comfortable using the female's bathroom and I told her I'd feel better using the males. She looked disgusted at me for a moment and said "I cant have you using the males bathroom since you aren't actually a male, it would be awkward for the cis-males in the bathroom." So I told her about Oregon's laws about transgenders using the bathroom of their choice, and her response was "that's only for public places."

My school won't let me use the male bathroom because I'm "technically " not a male. But here it has a law saying I'm allowed to use the bathroom I identify as. They told me I don't look like a male so I'd make everyone uncomfortable. And using the female bathroom makes me uncomfortable.

What is a society without laws. Why have any laws for that matter, if you can pick and choose which ones you will follow. During the pre-stonewall era, anyone found without at least one article of clothing on their body, pertaining to their assigned gender at birth, were arrested, beaten, and in the case of many trans women, raped by corrupt police officers. The cops were protected by the law of the day, which gave them the right to enforce by arresting individuals. Their other atrocities went unnoticed at the time. The anger it fueled within the TBGL communities lead to the street riots of 1969, known as Stonewall Riots. It was the spark that lit a fire in the TBGL Equal Rights movement, that had been lagging and progressing slowly for decades prior. One law after the next, over the past 40 years, have shaped our society we live in today. From the Jim Crow laws to Marriage Equality, these laws were placed to help society live in peace and without discrimination. Now many are feeling they have the right to deny these laws and out right ignore them. Where is the outrage for this behavior in America. A hundred years of Civil Rights Laws, can't and must not go ignored or abused. The law is the law...is it not?

If you are anyone you know, has suffered from discrimination, be it in your schools, employment, or housing. Know that there are several major organization we as community, can reach out too. Links below:
 Sylvia Law Project
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project

The Transgender Law Center

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

The Trans Youth Family Allies

The LGBTQ Taskforce

TransJustice The Audre Lorde Project

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