It is amazing how often the LGBT initials are used in blogs, on webpages, and in news stories; but do not mention transgender (except to define the initials – if that). A quick Google search for “sexual orientation”, LGBT, and -transgender yields more than 2,000,000 hits.
At the top of the page in my Google search was a webpage on the American Psychiatric Association website entitled LGBT Sexual Orientation1. This couldn’t be more misleading. There is no specific transgender sexual orientation. In addition to gender identity, transgender people have sexual orientation (just like everyone else).
What is it about writing (or saying) LGBT that creates this anomaly? Is it the way the letters sound? Does it send a message that we can write LGBT and by writing that we have now included everyone? Does it mean that too many people who write about LGBT don’t realize that the reason these letter are lumped together is only because we each, in our own ways, face the same oppression and inequality?
Far too many L, G, B and T people have experienced sounds and images similar to the ones President Obama described when he talked about hearing the click of door locks and being followed in the store. For me, it is seeing a person in my workplace who is smiling and laughing before they set their eyes on me. The moment they see me, the smile turns to a frown and the gaze is quickly diverted in an undeniable statement that there are people who are not even able to look at me.
What we are doing is making significant transgender history in a state where that means more than words can describe for the transgender individuals who are struggling with a society that treats us as lesser human beings.
What we are doing is standing up and saying out loud. We are transgender and we are not less than. The first annual TransKansas Conference is standing up and saying out loud, September 6-8 at the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in Lawrence, Kansas.
The conference, which is presented by Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, will kick off on Friday, September 6, 2013. Representatives of the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project will provide two workshops: One on transgender youth coming out, and one on creating safe spaces for transgender youth. These workshops will be free, enabling everyone to attend part of the conference, irrespective of their ability to pay.
It is a celebration of who we are. It is a statement about who we are and the dangers being visible. And the need to be visible in the Land of Oz. In the home state of Westboro Baptist Church. In the heart of Brownbackistan.
Sometime in the next two weeks or so, I will be asked to pee into a cup. It’s not really a cup. Just a plastic specimen container. It is a requirement that I pass a drug test before I can begin my BSW Practicum at a local community care center.
When I make my appointment, I will smile. When I arrive for the drug test, I will smile again. And when they tell me to wipe front to back, I will smile with glee. Just another one of those things that are not quite the same as they used to be.
The last time I had to pee in a cup was shortly before my gender affirmation surgery in Bangkok, Thailand. The time before that was when I was being hired for the job I have had for the last four years. Both of those times were special too, but I think this one is going to be the best yet.
My last pre-employment drug screen was frightening, to say the least. I had applied as Stephanie and female, my driver’s license said Steven and male, and my surgery was still a dream for some point in the future. I had no idea how the people at the drug testing place would react to the inconsistencies between the paperwork they received from my soon-to-be employer and my driver’s license. When the time came, I told them I was transgender.
A new school year will be starting in about a month. It will be the eighth school year since I moved into a little house across the street from a school. I was so excited that I didn’t need to move into an apartment, what with beginning my transition and all that. Coming and going. Sometimes as Steven. Sometimes as Stephanie.
I worried a bit about sometimes presenting as male, sometimes as female, and how that would work out. It is an elementary school. Would some teacher or parent notice and realize there was a transgender person living so close to where their children played on the playground?
Of course, being transgender does not increase the likelihood that a person will be or do anything inappropriate. Unfortunately, many people believe that it does. There are many people who think that transgender people are a danger to children. There is no doubt that being publicly transgender increases the likelihood that I will meet with violence.
These were the first, frightening days outside the closet. Finally living in the daylight, but feeling very exposed and very vulnerable. Trying to be careful and aware, especially when the children were in the schoolyard.
It took about an hour after SCOTUS announced the rulings before I started getting phone calls from the local media. They wanted to know what I thought about the Supreme Court of the United States ruling that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act – the part of DOMA that denied equality with respect to Federal benefits to legally married LGBT couples – was unconstitutional.
They wanted to know what it means to me that Prop 8 was struck down. They wanted to know what that means for people in states where marriage equality is still being denied. In states, like mine, where there are constitutional amendments banning marriage equality. They wanted to know where do we go from here?
In the next twenty-fours I must have said the words marriage equality more than 100 times – in half a dozen interviews, and at the rally we held that evening at the statehouse. The total number of times my words were quoted were many. One journalist quoted my words as marriage equality. Every other time, every other journalist, wrote same-sex marriage.
This unfortunate truth speaks volumes to me about where we are post-DOMA (section 3) and sans Prop 8. It tells me everything I need to know when it comes to my reaction. It tells me everything I need to know about where do we go from here.
It’s hard to believe that it has already been more than a year since that magical trip to Bangkok and my gender affirmation surgery. So many things have changed since then. So many new, delightful feelings and experiences. I hope not to disappoint anyone, but I am not talking about sex. I am talking about life. As a 55-year-old woman with a one-year-old vagina.
One of the most interesting questions posed to me before my surgery, was a question about when do I get to use my new vagina. That question gave life to a question more significant to me. Exactly what is the point and purpose of having the surgery itself?
Why was this surgery so important to me that I would fly half-way around the world and spend $10,000, so that I could fly back half-way around the world with my new lady parts? At the time, I thought it was a lot about sex – that I might have a particular type of physical relationship with a man. That thought hasn’t changed. But in the last year, I have discovered another truth. A deep, inner truth that can only belong to me.
There are many who believe that sex reassignment surgery is not medically-necessary for transsexual individuals. Many people who are transsexual do not find this surgery necessary to their happiness. But there are some of us for whom there can be no true happiness in a body that tells lies about who we truly are.
Stephanie Mott has been a regular contributor to lgbtSr almost from its inception two years ago. I first read about her when she was doing an ‘equality tour’ around Kansas, and I thought, here’s someone I’d like to know. Along with her regular columns here and elsewhere, her advocacy and activism, and her unflagging honesty, Stephanie is someone who definitely belongs among these profiles. – Mark/Editor
Stephanie Mott is a transsexual Christian woman from Topeka, Kansas. Born in Lawrence, she grew up on a small farm nearby with her parents, two sisters, and two brothers. Her parents and brothers are gone and never got the opportunity to know her, but her sisters are very supportive of her journey.
Stephanie struggled through all of her life with not being able to be who she was, trying to live as the male she was not. She discovered alcohol about the age of 18. The next thirty years were a downward spiral of alcohol and drug abuse that led her to homelessness at the age of 48.
It is Saturday morning, and I don’t have anything pressing this morning. I know from experience that this is totally the best time for me to write. My mind is free to follow its own path. Many of (what I think are) my better writings have come from sitting at this computer at this time of day on this particular day of the week.
Mr. Kitty is at my side. He has his own chair next to mine. He was five years old when I adopted him from some friends who were moving into an apartment that had rules about cats. He was not able to go with them. I was helping them load up some boxes and things. That was almost seven years ago.
I remember that day quite well. Yes, because it was the day that I became Mr. Kitty’s person. But also because it was the day a four-year-old boy asked me, Are you a boy, or are you a girl? I responded, That’s a good question, buying myself a few moments to think about how to answer.