Monday, March 31, 2008

Cisgendered- A Definition from the Urban Dictionary

1. cisgendered
22 up, 5 down

adj form of cisgender

The opposite of transgendered, someone who is cisgendered has a gender identity that agrees with their societally recognized sex.

Many transgender people prefer "cisgender" to "biological", "genetic", or "real" male or female because of the implications of those words. Using the term "biological female" or "genetic female" to describe cisgendered individuals excludes transgendered men, who also fit that description. To call a cisgendered woman a "real woman" is exclusive of transwomen, who are considered within their communities to be "real" women, also.

Some of my friends are trans, but I'm cisgendered.

by genevieved wisconsin May 25, 2006 email it
2. cisgendered
20 up, 8 down

Not transgender, that is, having a gender identity or gender role that society considers appropriate for the sex one was assigned at birth. The prefix cis- is pronounced like "sis".

John is cisgendered, he just holds to his role as a stereotypical male.

Safe Queer Spaces

Victoria is a town with a few too few queer spaces. In fact, it is a town with one gay bar, that gets away with too much because it is the only one. Without competition management doesn't need to hold agreements with performers as sacred, because they don't really have an option to go somewhere else. The lack of variety also has a double edged knife effect on the crowd, especially on weekends. It is THE leather bar, THE dyke bar, THE twink bar, THE bear den, THE queer space with a liquor license and a dance floor. Sometimes the mixing of everyone all together feels like a big happy rainbow splattered gay family, and other times it makes me want to throw up on people for being so disrespectful and ignorant.
Friday night was the UVIC Women's Studies pub crawl, so the crowd in the bar by the end of the night was pretty feminist heavy, usually a good thing to have a bar full of people who have some sort of understanding of privilege of safety, but one can't judge the whole bar by a core sample. Somehow, for whatever reason I am not entirely sure, but every week there seem to be a few straight couples that find their way into the bar. I appreciate and acknowledge that sexual orientation is not always as it seems, and sometimes the most het looking couples are really as queer as fuck, but then you get the ignorant ones. The man and woman couple who have never had to question or notice their straight cisgendered privilege. The straight couple that somehow end up in the mens bathroom at the gay bar at closing time.

I stand over the toilet, emptying my whisky filled bladder, I hear a woman enter, with her boyfriend.
"Cock lovers, I need to piss, oh fuckin cock lovers I need the can... "
I can only guess she is in here as to not be more than 5 ft from her boytoy therefore preventing her becoming potential lesbian bait.
My stream becomes a dribble and I pull my pants up and walk out of the stall, the urinals to my left.
"Yeah, I can piss in the urinal just look at my huge cock, don't you just love it?"
I avoid eye contact with the girl. Make my way over to the sink to wash my hands. She turns and follows me, approaches me, "You have to excuse me, I'm not judgemental, I don't want to judge you, but I saw you out there dancing, I think you are beautiful, I just want to know something."
"Oh ya?"
"Are you a man or a woman? Cause I saw your big hoop earrings and your breasts and I assumed, but then you come out of the stall in the men's room where you were obviously just standing and pissing into the toilet and your voice, and your moustache and well. I am not judgemental, I just want to know."
"Oh ya, so you want to know which pronoun you should be using when you want to gossip about me later? A much more respectful way to ask that would be privately, asking if I had a perferred pronoun, but thats not something I would usually give up in a first conversation with someone, especially if that was the entire context of conversation."
"I am not trying to be disrespectful, I just want to know."
"Well maybe my gender isn't public knowledge. Also- So you know, it would probs be better to just avoid the use of pronouns or gendering if you are wanting to shit talk someone that you couldn't peg their gender. It's not appropriate to ask, it's none of your business, so when you are wanting to gossip about me later you could just refer to me as the person at the bar with a completely confusing and indeterminate gender. That'd be just fine for me."
"But honey, I think you are beautiful, I just well... want to know if you are a man or woman."
"Ok honey, maybe you didn't get that I am not going to tell you, and as a very important lesson- NEVER EVER question someones gender in a mens bathroom."
"But, i'm out of place too, I am a woman in the mens room."
"True, and you will walk out of here and still be a woman who was in the mens room."
"I walk out and I am that freak, the one that is going to get their ass kicked, or just not given the same opportunity to get fucked cause some bitch in the bathroom felt that it was her job to attract attention to my confusing gender in the mens room. Maybe you don't understand the safety concern here, people die over this shit."
Boyfriend comes out of the stall, "If it's MtF just call it a trans."
"It is not an appropriate neutral pronoun, and you are wrong about me."

I turn and exit. Leaving the hets in the mens room left to puzzle over my gender I grab my coats. On the way out I follow them up the stairs and hear her say,
"God, why do some people get soooo defensive?"

On that note I'd like to get some business cards printed with my web address for such situations, so I can just say,
"This space has certain guidelines of respect, you crossed the line, and if you don't understand what I am saying, or what it means to be respectful i'd ask you to please stop asking me what my gender is, and instead read up about why I might not want to tell you."
Anyone have printing hookups?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Trans Day of Resistance Speeches: HK Doty

We don't fit into the assigned. We feel cramped in the restriction and out of place in the norms. It takes some of us years, or a lifetime to find the why or how. Repositioning where we fit on the one or another of binary gender.
We inject, ingest, digest, dissect and reconstruct our bodies and identities to find some place we can fit better.
I find myself naked, leaning on the bathroom counter. Shower steam thick, smell of alcohol swabs increasing the nausea caused from the inch and a half needle loaded with testosterone in my hand. Destination: Glute.
And my arm freezes. A slight prick of blood starts to drip out of my cheek and a flush fills my face. I become dizzy, fall to my knees and hold the syringe in hand.

"Maybe you have such trouble doing your own shots because you shouldn't be taking them."

A stronger, sharper pain strikes deeper at the thought.


I mean after all gender is just a construct right?
Could I move past the "need" to transition.
Theoretically, But theory is always written by someone else. We all have unique personal experience of gender. For some of us it's something consistent, others can't track a common gender from day to day. And we all have our own way of understanding and feeling that out.
Unfortunately there is a common misconception that transitioning is a common journey, with a beginning, middle and end. The very terminology we use to describe trans genders implies this. Male to Female, Female to Male. Transition complete.
When applying for social assistance a couple of years ago I listed my transitional gender as a barrier to my employability because I found that my confusing gender didn't lure peopel into hiring me, but instead not knowing how to read me, dismissal was an easier option. The woman asked for clarification, "So you were born female, becoming male?"
Simplest Answer: Yes.
"So when will you be done?"
Simplest Answer: We won't.
This isn't something that is at any point done. We aren't going anywhere. We aren't going to dissappear into binary genders, as much as some of us want to, and do, we all start somewhere and there will always be someone finding their way, and many of us who find that our way is NOT to one or another binary gender. Although this is not a lesson easily unlearned. We gender from birth, before even. In utero the question, "Is it a boy of a girl?", is the first asked after fertilization. We learn as children that a misgendering is embarrassing and as young adults that it is a fearful disgusting insult. The medical system that holds the keys to prescribed assistance requires a certain understanding of one's gender and associated dysphoria to even become accessible.
Luckily there exists an alternative. A small but growing number of us who don't fit into the boxes on M or F questionnaires. We resist using our transitions to reinforce binaries and our allies who are teaming up for events like today's. Just this past year we have seen the forming of a trans alliance here at UVIC. We have see the first Trans Day of Remembrance in Victoria this past November memorializing the trans people who've been victimized in violent crimes since the previous November. We have seen a collective resistance to transphobic policies at a catholic hospital in Vancouver which refused to perform a scheduled non- SRS surgery on our friend when they discovered he was trans. We have seen growing numbers at drag and gender bending shows throughout Victoria. We have seen the formation of a collective to plan a surgery fund raiser to help pay for his eight thousand dollar chest reconstruction. We have seen close to 200 people come out and support that fund raiser and friends and allies banding together to provide post-surgical care for members of our community.
And now here we are, collecting together to stand up against fear driven violence, transphobic decisions at the hands of government, like for example the recent decision to cancel all in province SRS surgeries despite trained and talented doctors in Vancouver waiting to help us, and the everyday challenges thrown at us by living in a world obsessed with binary gender.
By being here with us today you are making a difference, I invite you to join us this afternoon to learn more- learn ways to be a better ally and make this campus, this city and our world a safer and more diverse place for us to all live.

Trans Day of Resistance Speeches: List of Names

Sally Camatoy: Dubai, November 19 2007. Found Dead on the pavement near Sharjah Mall, after going to a nearby computer shop around noon.

Kellie Telesford, London, November 21 2008. Found at her home on Leander Rd, Thorton Heath, on 22nd November 2007, strangled to death.

Elly Susanna, Jakarta, November 7th 2007. Killed during a police raid, her body was found partially undresses and signs show she was raped, likely by the police.

Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz, Santiago Chile, died on December 28th 2007 after being stabbed in the throat. She and a pair of colleagues were reportedly working a street corner when they were approached and attacked by a group.

Patrick Murphy, Albuquerque, NM, January 8th 2008, Shot three times in the head by a long time lover, after apparently calling him "an ass."

Stacy Brown, Baltimore, January 8 2008. Found dead inside a house in the 300 block of W. North Avenue near Gwynns Falls Park. Shot in the head, in the house shared with Brown's mother and sister. People were home when police arrivede, but have yet to explain the circumstances of Brown's death.

Fedra, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, January 22 2008. Found lying face up in a pool of blood in an alley.

Three unnamed trans people (plus 7 gay men) reported missing in Iraq, on January 24 2008. Taken by a Shiite cleansing campaign. Missing, presumed dead.

Ashley Sweeny, Detroit, February 4th 2008. Shot in the head. Her body was later found dumped in the east side.

Saesha Stewart, New York, February 9th 2008. Stabbed by an ex-con who discovered that she was transgendered.

Lawrence King, Oxnard CA, February 12 2008. Shot in the head by a classmate in their middle school computer lab.

Simmie Williams, Fort Lauderdale, FL, February 22 2008. Gunned down by two young men for wearing a dress.

Adolphus Simmons, Charleston, SC, February 22 2008. Found bleeding from gunshot wounds on the front steps, died while waiting for the paramedics.

Lars Watson, Jan 06 2008. The human heart does not pause for pronouns. It just keeps beating until it stops. Lars was genderqueer and the daily grinding down got to them.

Cameron McWilliams February 15th 2008, committed suicide after telling their mother they wanted to wear make up and being told they weren't allowed. The mother had previously teased Cameron for wearing thier sisters underwear. Cameron was 10.

Trans Day of Resistance Speeches : Chris Tuttle

Here are the transcripts of some the speeches from Tuesday' s event at uvic. The first speech was by Dana Waldman (still awaiting copy for that). Brodie Metcalfe spoke about legal stuff in a very well researched speech on the gay panic defence (also don't have copy for that). Then Chris Tuttle read her speech;

When I started to question my gender, I realized there really wasn’t a way to stay in the closet and still be happy. Every change that I wanted to make to my life that deviated from the heteronormitive male standard came not with empowerment and confidence, but with embarrassment and ridicule. I had to defend my gender the moment I started questioning it, just to save my sanity. I didn’t identify as gay, at least not how I saw the word then, but the word suddenly floated around with my name. So I came out as trans, earlier than I probably should have, because if I was going to have to defend myself, it might as well be for what I really am, not what people think I might be.
At this point I still wasn’t on hormones, hadn’t had time to grow out my hair, and had almost no clothes to wear. In short, I didn’t pass. Not passing meant I had to defend myself against practically everyone I saw or met for the first time. I’ve never been in as many staring wars with bewildered or hostile strangers as when I didn’t pass.
Worse than stares and sneers were the conflicts, being bullied out of lines, having tea thrown at me, being yelled at or “prayed for”.
The worst of all were the silences. So many people I knew stopped talking to me, barely acknowledged my presence. Every time this happened I couldn’t help feeling like they didn’t want to be seen associating with a tranny. It still hurts. These people aren’t strangers, they’re people that know me and had, up until I came out, decided I was worth talking to. The silence of the people who watched while someone ridiculed or intimidated me was like cold suffocation.
Slowly though, I got into the medical system and got a diagnosis and a prescription. My wardrobe rounded out along with my hips. Now, a little over a year after coming out, I’m finally starting to feel comfortable in and with my body. If I’m not perfectly happy with how I look, well who is?
Being comfortable with myself means that when someone first sees me, that little visual processor in people’s brain often yelps “girl” instead of “boy”, or “trans” first, before I even say hi. Of course, this is part of what I’ve been waiting for all my life. My gender is not just about how I see myself, but also about how others see me.
I’ll never pass all the time, and there is always that risk of an unprovoked attack, but to some extent starting to pass is pulling me out of the realm of constant physical danger from strangers. Sadly, I’ve been seeing new ways in which people can be hurtful.
I don’t feel like I should have to tell someone that I’m trans when we first meet if they don’t realize it. I consider myself pretty open about my gender, but sometimes I feel like talking about my privates is too much intimate personal information to bring up casually. I want to be treated like a woman. I am a woman, and in a culture that is still so rooted in gender binary, the best way to make sure people get their pronouns right is to make a first impression as at least potentially female.
It’s not that I don’t want people to know all aspects of who I am; it’s not that I’m trying to hide anything. I just don’t want to talk about it right away with everybody I meet. Otherwise I start to feel like the only way I’m defined in the world is through my gender, or my deviance from it. And as important, as critical as my gender identity is to my life, there is more to me than just that.
Even more recently in my transition, I’ve started to realize that I don’t need or want to pass as “male” or “female”. My gender identity lies somewhere in between. After fighting so hard for the freedom to express my gender identity, I don’t want to have to fit into another gender presentation that doesn’t fit just to be safe. I don’t want to be defined by my birthgender even after I depart from it by being labled a MTF or a transwoman. I’m trans*, queer, and genderqueer, and I prefer female pronouns, that’s specific enough.

How I’d like to be treated:
I don’t mind being stared at, but when or if I meet your gaze, I’d like to see, not a look of disgust or horror or bemusement, but a smile.
I’d like people who find themselves attracted to me to realize that it’s O.K. It doesn’t take away from your manliness, or your queerness. It doesn’t make a straight person queer, or a queer person straight to date me, or to sleep with me.
I’d like for people to know that I’m not going to sleep with you before making sure you know what’s going on.
If I come out to you, I’d like you to think for a minute or two before you say anything. A lot of unintentional pain can stem from saying something you don’t actually mean.
I’d like people to know that if I do talk to you about my past and my gender, it usually means I think I can trust you. Please don’t betray that trust. It’s up to you to figure out what that means.
I want people (by people I mean friends, acquaintances, class and workmates, not complete and total strangers) to feel comfortable talking to me about my gender if they want to, but to be respectful of some of the more private details. I’d also like people to remember that not everyone within earshot is educated about gender. Quieter voices are nice sometimes.
.If you knew me before I transitioned, then I know you don’t have an obligation to me to not spread rumors, or to outright tell people things that might not be common knowledge. But I’d like you to remember that many little hurts can be devastating. And the amplified effect of still living where I grew up means there is a large potential for the little hurts that come from people talking behind my back. Besides, just because you know my past, doesn’t mean you understand how I identify now.
I’d like for my gender presentation to not matter so personally to strangers around me who only have to interact with me in the small, superficial ways throughout the day.
Thank you - by Chris Tuttle.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Amazing Week of Action

The events of the past week have been amazing. It's been crazy awesome to have what feels like a solid core of trans people and queers and allies gathering together to cause a fuss, teach each other, share stories, make art etc etc... Its been a bit utopic.

Out of the past week the following ideas have emerged:

-The necessity to archive our actions, including doing the research into the past, potentially organizing a gathering of people that have been involved to share what happened before we started to keep track.

-To establish a website/wiki/blog that members of our community have access to, providing organizing resources, event promotion, online forums and discussions, resources such as a list of trans friendly doctors, links to existing and allied groups. This will be called TRANSACTION- demand change.... or something along those lines. A.T. has agreed to design a logo, patches etc. We need some web saavy folks who might know how to put together something like that.

-That trans people are beautiful, strong, sexy, empower(ed/ing) and irresistible members of community (well we already knew that, but this week was a good reminder.)

Over the weekend I have a lot of writing to catch up on here, including transcripts of the speeches from Tuesdays event and photos of the quilt (still in progress by the way, and in search of inside temporary spaces to put it up for people to read and admire- it's BIG... you'll see...)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Featured in the MONDAY MAG.

Fighting Back

By Bill Stuart

A day of action to combat transphobia and homophobia

The recent brutal killing of 15-year-old gay teen Lawrence King in Oxnard, California, at the hands of his classmate was a chilling reminder that hate-fuelled acts of violence are sadly not a thing of the past. This week at UVic, a day of action planned to shed light on the ongoing problems of homophobia and transphobia. Transman activist Hayden-Kori Doty took some time to answer Monday’s questions about the rally and the cause.

Monday: Tell Monday readers about what is planned for this upcoming rally.

Hayden-Kori Doty:  The demonstration and action planned for the 25th of March at UVic is really a four-part event consisting of a rally, workshops, film-screening and community-building art project, all to resist the fear-based violence that threatens queer and trans people today. The event is being held in response to the unusually high numbers of reported homophobic and transphobic attacks and resulting deaths since the Trans Day of Remembrance we hosted on the 20th of November. The number of murders in the last four months alone is equal to the total number of trans people killed in an average year. The rally is a reaction to this violence.

Monday: Who should attend this week’s rally at UVic and why?

HKD:  It is open to everybody. Anyone who has heard of these killings, such as the murder of 15 year old Lawrence King, and would like to take a stand against the hate and injustice that causes these acts to continue is welcome. Also, anyone who would like to learn more about queer and trans people, our stories, our challenges, and learn how to ally themselves with the concerns of queer members of our community. UVic students are highly encouraged, but we would also really like to encourage members of the off campus Victoria community to come over to UVic and get involved.

Monday: How can people combat transphobia and homophobia?

HKD: By learning more, and taking a personal responsibility to educate themselves. Ignorance is one of the biggest causes of transphobia and homophobia. The workshops on Tuesday will be a very good opportunity to access knowledge and resources, but there are also endless resources available online and in book collections like the one at the UVic pride office. The number-one way someone can combat this fear based violence is by treating every person with their due respect and speaking up when people are not being treated with respect.

Monday: What local resources are available for people who have experienced transphobia and homophobia?

HKD:  UVic Pride provides a safe space for queer and ally students, faculty, and community members to hang out. The Anti-Violence Project on campus provides a safe space for anyone suffering from abuse and advocates for equality in relationships.  Student Services and Counselling services provide support for students. There is a sexual assault centre downtown to provide support for victims of sexual assault. The Island Sexual Health Society provides sexual health clinics, education and online resources.

We are also hoping to build a network out of this event.

Monday: Can we call ourselves a civilized society when hate-fuelled murders like those of 15-year-old Lawrence King are still occurring?

HKD:  Seeing things like this continuing to happen reminds us that we still have a lot of work to do. There is still a need for education, resistance, the creation of safe spaces and an elimination of the tolerance that the legal system and media have for this sort of violence.  We—transpeople and sexual minorities—are still widely misunderstood and the fact that we are still dying for that proves there is something seriously wrong.

The rally against transphobia and homophobia takes place starting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25 at UVic. Check or contact 472-4393 for details.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Problematic Media Representations

I need to comment on media, and the ways that the ill informed public precede to understand transsexuality, transgenderism and the trans experience.
I must say that first off, I have benefited from the time and space in which I am who I am. I live on the west coast and have begun transitioning in the 21st century. Even dealing with medical professionals for whom I am their first trans patient, I am not required to write the book for them. They have heard of transsexualism before. Common patient care plans are accessible, a standard of care does exist, not saying that either of these are conclusive or complete. When confronting transsexualism in family situations, especially considering a generation gap, having my grandmother be an Oprah fan has paid off on the basic introduction.
But, sometimes I feel that the media leave so many gaps in their version of our story, yet delivering it with such confidence that viewers can feel like they've really learned something true and profound. I come across the whole variety of perspectives during the late night youtube scan but I thought I'd share one tonight, with my commentary and rebuttals.

Section One, two and three of a program on FTM transitions, from what looks like a mainstream (LivingTV2: a British) TV Station.
Dirk seems smart, recognizing that his family and potential stressful relationships with them, would be more pain than it would be worth, the narrator plays this emotional well being as tragic. The way the narrator describes the government bureaucracy process as dehumanizing is right on the money, although the following example is so problem free it might be hard for someone who has never been through anything similar to imagine how awkward, confusing, stressful, and dis-empowering that experience can be. The narrator has no need to reveal Dirk's former name, the people in the office don't reference it so it would be of no confusion the the viewer, and is used as a purely sensationalizing tactic to make viewers associate Dirk with his "female self". This is the same sort of tactic employed with the strings of old family photos, images of transmen with long curls and dresses to show the woman in them, however forced, dysphoric and awkward as he might be.
"Exactly why transexuals should struggle for social acceptance is not clear, " this statement itself is incredibly unclear, is she pondering why we aren't accepted, or why we would bother to fight for acceptance and civil rights. It doesn't seem to match up with the clips from Jamison Green's interview and I can't seem to think why they chose that as the intro to an interview with so many possible feeders. Jamison, being experienced with media like this and being an old hand in the trannie game doesn't have any problem talking about his life as a young woman, but this is obviously something that is played up for the same reason I explained before.
The media also loves sensationalizing transsexuals through science.

So granted there is little chance that a medicalization of trans people is avoidable in this setting, at least they could get terminology right. This is horribly confusing, you would think they are talking about FTMs when they use the term transsexual male. Only when they describe taking estrogen one would realize that they are actually slipping in something about transwomen. The internal debate of the narrator, wondering if biological proof that transsexualism is real would be enough to legitimize sexual reassignment surgery is something which I sometimes forget exists. I socialize with so many people daily who have tattoos, piercings, and other body modifications, and they seem to understand changing ones body and feeling good about making those choices far more than mainstream straight edgers can seem to wrap their heads around.

The doctor from Toronto seems to feel that psychological assistance could be a viable alternative to transitioning, which, depending on the method could work for some, but I'd like to take his idea and kick it to the next level, what if instead of analyzing the life out of trannies, why don't we analyze where societies problems with transpeople lie and re-educate ourselves about how to teach gender to our children to take the stress of a binary gender system off of our potentially trans or gender variant children. Giving them lessons of empowerment, diversity and self confidence in the face of adversity.

The show has a pretty clear take on wanting us to know the "women" behind all of these transmen. Introducing post-surgery Rian as Rachael was completely unnecessary, and more confusing to the storyline, as the narrator then has to jump back and forth over pronouns like a flea on a dog. If "she" is living full time as a man, why would the narrator/writer/producer feel required to give "her" such an introduction? Is it because we are about to meet his identical cisgendered twin sister? Is is because he isn't on T? Showing his sister apologizing and legitimizing her excuse for not using his name allows people to feel that that sort of behavior is for some reason acceptable. Guess what twin sister, you probably aren't the one who is the the most "troubled" by this, it's probably more something your brother could really use your support on. This is too common, family and friends wanting trans people to make concessions for them, because it is soooo hard to remember what name or pronoun to use. Well, think for a moment how hard it could be to be the one called the wrong name or pronoun, again and again and again, sometimes in settings where that sort of incongruity is exactly what Dirk's girlfriend mentioned about safety concerns of transpeople. The same incongruous safety concern occurs when a male appearing individual gets called Mary or Alice in the wrong place at the wrong time by some family member or friend who is "having trouble"with their transition.
As for raising kids with trans gendered parents, aunts, uncles etc, we all have different levels of personal comfort on the subject and to what level it is public knowledge. But like I said before; if we change the way we teach gender, and if our infants understand that girls aren't always girls and boys aren't always boys, and introduce the family member the way they would like to be referred to with the level of disclosure that they feel comfortable with those lessons are a whole lot easier to get into.
Testosterone can change your physical appearances greatly, and some might say that they are nearly unrecognizable, but the way that the narrator describes this makes it seem like some sort of jekyll and hyde alter ego monster transformation.

She continues with sensationalized terms "like inner turmoil of reversing sexes". She describes Dirk's transition as something that has cost him dearly with results uncertain, and that Rian's loneliness comes and goes. Taking these human feelings, that are genderless, of wanting to be loved, and feel like you belong, and attaching them intrinsically to ones transition is a false presentation. The media loves portraying transsexuals as extraordinary beings on extraordinary quests, facing extraordinary circumstances to be perfectly ordinary. I'm sure there are lots of us extraordinary beings that are instead looking for space to be extraordinary, but I don't see us finding it on the commercial airwaves anytime very soon.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The story of organized history

I have a friend in town who has been involved in queer and specifically trans groups and activism in town for years: longer than I have known that being trans was possible let alone identifying as a transperson. Sometimes when we get together she'll tell me stories about when a weekend trans conference happened in Victoria maybe 5 years ago, and things that have happened with various attempts to start groups and get things going in the past. I haven't researched the past, and learning about it especially on such a specialized level of the small town of Victoria's trans history. I am not a historian. But, I would like to know where we've come from, what's been tried, what has succeeded, or failed, and why, and where did the people involved disappear to, do they still want to be involved, or have they got over transactivism? So many questions, but mostly, ARE YOU STILL OUT THERE??? I want to get all the people who have been involved or interested, or burned out in the past to come out in 2 weeks to the event on the 25th or 28th. This could be it, we can bring all the parties together and develop something here.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March 25th Event at UVIC

This year has seen an unheard of number of queerphobic (transphobic, homophobic etc: a fear of people of different gender presentations and sexualities) acts of violence have occurred globally. Every year at the end of November campus groups, trans activists and LGBTTIQ groups world wide gather to remember the dead of the past year. Each year typically 15 to 20 names are read at Trans Day of Remembrance vigils from San Francisco to New York, and Victoria to Rio. Many of the victims are the result of unsolved crimes, bodies found floating in bodies of water, or shot on the street corners. Many of the crimes are obvious in their intention - hatred and fear of people living in a way that doesn't fall within the "norm". Many of the dead are former sex workers, a profession which is one of the few options available to some trans people, who have been judged, dismissed and fetishized.

This year since the 20th of November (less than 4 months) the world has seen the same amount of deaths as is usually seen in an entire year. One of the most recent was the death of 15 year old Lawrence King in Oxnard California on February 12th. He was shot in the head by a classmate, Brandon McInerney, 14 in the computer lab of their school. It is believed that he was killed for being openly gay and presenting in a feminine manner.

This has caused action to be stirring in lgbttiq circles and activist networks around the world including the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network), and locally UVIC Pride.

Uvic Pride will be holding a demonstration, workshops and quilting bee during the week of the 25th of March. The demonstration will begin at 1:30 outside the Library at the Fountain area of the main quad. There will a die-in, during which the names of the dead since november 20th will be read and visually represented. Hankies of various colours will be decorated and hung around the fountain, all holding the stories of queerphobic violence. Transactivists and speakers Dana Waldman, Chris Tuttle and myself will be speaking. There will be 2 workshops directly following the demonstration to give a better grasp on terms and appropriate ways in which to stand up in resistance to queerphobia. Later in the afternoon a film will be screened. All of the hankies from the demonstration will be transported to a different location (TBA) for a quilting bee on Friday afternoon. The quilting bee hopes to give all participants a chance to share, build a unified resistance and create a large scale visual of community coming together to heal and resist the ignorant acts that threaten our safety and well being.

Organizers would like to see this event plant the seeds for a trans network in Victoria. There have been many attempts over the years, but typically there tends to be a divide between FTM and MTF communities, and as with many activist groups, organizers burning out and groups fading out. Please attend these events or contact me if you are interested in being a part of this new step to an allied trans front on Vancouver Island.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Cancelled Surgeries in BC

I couldn't really re-tell it better, so here is the letters I referred to in my last post.

Also stay tuned for info about day to resist gender and sexuality based violence and deaths held at UVIC on the 25th and 28th of March. I will be a guest speaker.

To all of Dr. Bowman’s Patients and Referring Physicians:

As the Head of the Division of Plastic Surgery at Providence health Centre, I would like to let you know about an unfortunate situation. Due to budgetary constraints, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is no longer able to provide the same level of funding and resources to enable Dr. Bowman to operate in the public hospital system. For the time being, this translates into a reduction in Dr, Bowman’s ability to run his practice at the current level. Ongoing negotiations are currently underway, but at this point Dr. Bowman is unable to utilize our hospital resources for treatment of his patients until the situation is resolved.

Please note this is in no way a reflection on the quality of work that Dr. Bowman has been doing. The Division of Plastic Surgery fully supports him during these contractual negotiations and is actively trying to secure resources to enable him to continue to provide medically necessary services to his patients.

At this point, you will need to contact Dr. Bowman’s office to make further arrangements. A also encourage you to contact Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the Ministry of Health to discuss your concerns regarding this.

Dr. Neil J. Wells, MD, FRCPC

Dear Patients,

I am writing to inform you of a recent distressing situation which may already adversely impact my patients. Many of you have already received notification of cancellation of your consultation with me or even your surgery, despite the fact that you may have been waiting for well over a year. Others who have already had their surgery completed may not even be aware of this situation.

At this point, due to the lack of continued funding and resources, I am unable to perform any MSP (insured) procedures. This includes any procedure done in the main O.R., but also includes consultations and follow-ups in the office.

Many of you have been waiting for more than two years for the Ministry and the Health Authority to fund a new Provincial SRS Program since I returned to B.C. following my fellowship in 2005. I was the surgeon who was asked to undertake this special training in order to return to Vancouver and lead the program. Despite the huge need and a clear demonstration of the cost savings in doing these surgeries here in B.C., we still do not have the go ahead for this much needed program. Currently, the Ministry is continuing the status quo of sending you out of province at a considerable hardship and expense for you, not to mention the extra expense for the Province.
To say that I feel terrible about how this situation will affect so many of you is an understatement. However, I believe the ministry of Health and The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority are unaware of how significantly their lack of action is affecting so many of you.

The Division of Plastic Surgery and I are currently involved in efforts to secure more resources so that I can continue my work. We have had little to no response. However, my strong feeling is that The Health Authority and The Ministry will take personal letters from patients much more seriously. We encourage you to write a personal letter, in business format, and send it to three key people in the Ministry and The Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (listed below). Tell them your personal stories; tell them your experience with the healthcare system so far; tell them your expectations. They are obliged to take your letter seriously and to respond.

Once again, I truly regret that this has happened. I will continue to be a strong advocate for you, and I will keep you apprised of any positive developments as a result of all our efforts. In addition, keep an eye out for a major article to be published in the Vancouver Province sometime in March, regarding the lack of funding for the Provincial SRS Program. Please Contact us by email if you have any questions or need any further information.

Yours Truly,
Dr. Cameron Bowman.

Vancouver Coastal Health and Ministry Contact Information

Ms. Ida Goodreau, President & CEO Vancouver Coastal Health Authority
Corporate Office
11th Floor, 601 West Broadway
Vancouver BC V5Z 4C2


Honorable George Abbott, Minister of Health
PO Box 9050, Station Provincial Government
Victoria BC V8W 9E2

Email –

Mr. Stephen Brown, Assistant Deputy Minister, Medical Services Division
3-1 3rd Floor
1515 Blanchard Street
Victoria BC V8W 3C8
Email -

Thursday, March 6, 2008

SRS in BC Cancelled

I got word today, through a letter my buddy recieved in the mail, that the BC government has suspended their funding of in province SRS (sex re-assignment surgery). All patients with pending surgery dates including those who have been waiting for years- SOL. All patients who have recently had SRS done by in-province doctors and are set for follow up - SOL. Anyone who was hoping to not have to travel half way across the country (out of pocket) away from our support networks and potential post surgical care giving networks - SOL. When I get a hold of the names of people to write and harass until these policies are changed I will post them on here. Get your letter head ready folks, we've got some political change to drive. Until things are changed this puts many transfolks out of reach of a physical need. This is unjust and a poor "money saving" decision. There are very talented doctors in BC who are ready and willing to perform SRS and have in the past and done good work. This is a funding policy that is focused out of the budgets of governments and disregarding the needs of the people the health care system is supposed to be caring for. Anyways, getting ranty with this, I'll be back with detail soon.