Author Archives: TransMentors

Michael Email – TMII – Past and Present – February 4, 2016

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Hello, Everyone,

Kirill wanted some information on TMII, so I will keep this as short as I can. David and Evelyn are aware of most of this, having been around or part of TMII a few years; I will give a short summary here. Detailed information can be found in the Board area of the website on the Programs and the status/progress of each.

TMII started out with a great group of Directors, and several programs were established and beginning to grow. (The International Mentors Program was localized support in various cities, The Faith Program was also created and growing a large network of Faith Leaders for support – details of both of these are on the website). The Transitional Living and Safe House got off the ground in Arizona, where my wife Lillian and I took into our dozens of homeless and abused trans people from around the U.S. for four years and gave them housing, food, job skills and emotional support (details in several Articles on the main website). We also had regular clothing drives, and weekly support groups, and weekly social groups through the four years. We had serious inquiries from people around the U.S. who wanted to do the same things and needed help to begin, but I didn’t have time to follow through on helping them. I conceived of, and made a reality, a trans conference called TransForm Arizona, in an attempt to provide an opportunity to “Unite the T with the LGB” with educational workshops and speakers. We had well-known speakers and many workshops covering a variety of topics, and it was very successful. The following year, we had a TransForm New Hampshire, and several inquiries from other states came in from those wanting a TransForm conference in their state. My dream was to have these conferences all over the world. It is STILL my dream, one of my bigger ones.

Due to some Directors ending up being at odds with one another on a personal level, many left. Most were gone within the first 2-3 years. A few others have come and went, but none were willing to put out any effort, and eventually they just quit. I had been doing MUCH of the work, (90% or more) by myself, and I just could not do it all any longer. Programs started to suffer, and eventually disappear.

Lillian and I spent nearly $20,000 on TMII over the years, with the greater portion going towards the Safe House. Donations were minimal. We finally became emotionally exhausted in late 2012, and had to end that program also. I took the next couple of years off from actively pursuing TMII programs, except for continuing the website, including FTM Mentors,) and giving support through many emails that came in (several per week). I was finally emotionally and mentally prepared to regenerate TMII programs by mid-2015, and began seeking new Board members.

That’s where we are now. I am prepared to relaunch various Programs and begin new Projects. But I can’t do it all on my own. I need people willing to help me secure volunteers, as well as funding (through grants as well as reestablishing a way to receive individual donations as well). Evelyn has been here the longest other than me, and does what she can do to help support TMII’s endeavors. As I mentioned previously, David came on Board last year and is ready and willing to help with getting grants and funding.

As I said, all the information on each of the Programs is contained in the Board area of the website. Login with the Board Login link in the menu, and you will land on the page with my email updates – the first one is the important one, and says Read First – it takes you to the page with all the links to all of our Programs and Projects.

I would like to know what each of you are willing to do to help as far as any of these projects, or if you have other ideas that perhaps we could pursue. I am constantly getting emails thanking us for being an organization that provides support – and would like to think that we really DO provide support, other than just through emails, our websites and FB groups.

Hope this helps give you all an idea of where we’re at and where I envision us going.

Michael

Michael Update Email – October 16, 2015

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Hello Everyone!

First, I want to welcome our new Board Members – Kristian and Kirill. We are looking forward to getting to know you both better, and working with you to take TransMentors International, Inc. to its fullest potential. It is exciting to see our expansion into new countries. We now represent the U.S., Republic of Panama, Serbia and Russia. Let’s keep growing! If you know of others who would like to join our Board, let’s contact them. We need some transwomen representation (hint!).

I am writing this email to you primarily on behalf of the corporation itself. It is registered in Arizona, U.S., and is officially a 503(c)3, which is a non-profit entity. For eight years, it has had tax-exempt status for donation purposes. However, this year we received notification from the Internal Revenue Service that we’ve temporarily lost this status. This is my error! We no longer have an Accountant/Bookkeeper, and I was not aware that a certain form (an e-Postcard) needed to be filed each year to maintain the tax-exempt status. I failed to file, and therefore, we no longer have this status.

The cost to renew our Tax-exempt status is $400.00 USD, plus $60.00 USD mailing costs (from my location in Panama, to David who will then mail from a U.S. address to the IRS). This must be done soon to be reinstated, or we will lose the privilege of being able to have it. Without this status, donations are not tax-deductible, and our ability to receive Grants is severely limited. David has several Grants in mind to apply for but cannot until we have our status again.

I would like your input on how we might raise this money quickly. I have funded TransMentors for 8 years nearly all out of my own pocket, and can no longer afford to do so. Please put your your thinking caps on and let’s collectively come up with a way to get the funds to re-file for the status as soon as possible.

Please use the Reply All function of your email client so we can all be privy to the full ensuing conversation. This email is considered an Official Board Meeting.

Thank you,

Michael Eric Brown
Executive Director
TransMentors International, Inc.
www.TransMentors.org

cc: Evelyn
Kristian
David
Kirill

Michael Update Email – November 24, 2015

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Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to send an update on TransMentors International. We now have two new Facebook groups for Mentoring. One for trans men and one for trans women. They went live yesterday and are already getting members. The men’s group had 80 new members in about 12 hours.

The men’s group is at http://www.facebook.com/groups/FTM.Mentors and the women’s group is at http://www.facebook.com/groups/MTFMentors. Please share these links widely.

I am also working with the idea of getting our S.A.F.E. Project going on Facebook. The acronym stands for Swift Action For Emergencies. We announced this Project in 2011, although it has not yet been fully developed. There is a post about it inside the private Board Member’s area on the TransMentors website if you want to read more.

To summarize, the program will essentially be a resource for finding fast help for those needing emergency housing (mostky), as well as for job finding support, clothing, food and other necessities in emergency situations. I would like to gather a database of individuals and organizations who would like to participate.

I am considering creating a Facebook group for these kinds of resources so people can offer a couch or help wih rides, or similar. I may also contact organizations and websites such as the Transgender Housing Network to collaborate with them, although its focus is more on USA resources

I would like this to be international, rather than USA-centric. Too many trans people are in countries where support is lacking and difficult to find and this is needed in those countries. We need to be available for all countries, and live up to our name.

Any thoughts/suggestions? Please remember to use Reply All in your response.

Thank you,
Michael

Michael Update Email – February 3, 2016

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Hello Everyone,

I just wanted to keep in touch to let you all know the status of things. Our Facebook Mentors groups seem to be doing well. I regularly have emails come in for people asking for resources, and how to find mentors. We are listed in many places on the internet as a resource, and we are also going to be listed as one in a new trans book coming out in the next months, (the author and I have been corresponding).

As far as our tax-exempt situation: With my wife, Lillian, back in the U.S. to work for awhile, (and I am still in Panama), it looks like we are able to go ahead and reapply for our tax-exempt status. The money to reapply ($400) will come out of our personal funds. If all goes well, and I can find all the information I need to fill it out, the application should be in the mail on Monday or Tuesday, and we should have our determination again within 30 days or so after that.

I did not hear back from any of you regarding my email of November 24, subject line “TMII Board News”, in which I spoke of the S.A.F.E. Project. I am not sure it’s because none of you are interested, or you simply lost track of time and the email disappeared in your already full inboxes. I would like to hear from you.

Hopefully, within a couple of months, we should be able to begin applying for grants in order to get some of our programs off the ground again.

Michael

Press Release: 10/11/2015 Announcing Newest Board Member Kirill Sabir

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TRANSMENTORS INTERNATIONAL, INC (TMII)

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Michael Brown
Email: michaelb@tansmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1:00PM October 11, 2015

ANNOUNCING NEW MEMBER ON BOARD OF DIRECTORS

TUCSON, AZ : Today TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals, announced the newest addition to its Board of Directors, Kirill Sabir.

Kirill is a co-founder and Head of the “FtM Phoenix” Group, a Russian-American transgender initiative focused on advocating for transgender health in Eurasia. He brings ongoing experience assisting trans people navigate transition, and advocates for trans health and rights.

He is also a former board member of ECOM – Eurasian Coalition on Male Health, an association of NGOs and activists working on sexual and reproductive health, including HIV, among MSM and transgender people in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He also lead the FtM Phoenix’s official Russian translation of the WPATH Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People (version 7), and organized the first and second Eurasian Trans Health Conferences in Moscow – the first two Russian-language events specifically regarding transgender medical care in the region

Kirill brings his knowledge and vast experience in communication, advocacy and support to the trans-identified community, and TransMentors International is honored he has joined the Board of Directors.

“We on the Board at TransMentors are excited to include Kirill, who has proven his ability to make a positive impact for the trans community,” said TMII Executive Director Michael Brown.

TransMentors International, Inc. is committed to the health and well-being of all members of our diverse community. We dedicate ourselves to providing an array of information services, educational materials, advocacy training, as well as assistance with housing, health, faith, and employment needs. More details about the organization can be found at www.TransMentors.org.

-End-

 

Press Release: 10/02/2015 Announcing New Board Member Kristian Ranđelović

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TRANSMENTORS INTERNATIONAL, INC. (TMII)

Press Release

Contact: Michael Brown
Email:   michaelb@transmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
7:00AM FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2015

ANNOUNCING NEW MEMBER ON BOARD OF DIRECTORS

TUCSON, AZ OCTOBER 2, 2015: TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals, announced the newest addition to its Board of Directors, Kristian Ranđelović.

Kristian is FTM who is a former board member of ILGA, and currently operates a non-profit GLBTQ organization in Serbia. He speaks on trans issues throughout Europe. He has completed his Master’s Degree in psychodrama (which is practiced heavily in the Balkans) and is finishing the requirements to become a licensed psychodramatrican. He has contact with trans organizations and individuals in Serbia, in the Balkan region, Africa, and most recently in India.

“We believe he will be a great asset to the board, and look forward to working with him,” says Michael Brown, Executive Director.

—————————

TransMentors International, Inc. is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides aid, support and assistance to trans-identified individuals, including online discussion forums, personal mentoring, emergency housing assistance and health, faith and other resource referrals. More details can be found at www.TransMentors.org.

Identity Shift: When Your Spouse Changes Gender

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Originally published in print:
Gay Weddings & Marriage Magazine
www.gayweddingsandmarriage.com
2015 Fall Edition



Identity Shift: When Your Spouse Changes Gender

Copyright © 2015 Michael Eric Brown

You fell in love with your spouse. They fell in love with you. Marriage was the natural thing to do to celebrate your love for each other. Time goes by, and one day you discover your spouse really wasn’t exactly what he or she had portrayed to you in the beginning. They’ve just announced to you that they’re transgender, and will be pursuing gender transition.

Suddenly, you’re presented with an internal dilemma – questions about your own identity surface; you thought you were in a gay or lesbian relationship, and suddenly your spouse says they’re a different gender!

It’s not uncommon for couples who began their marriages as two lesbians, gay men, or as a man and a woman to experience a “shift” in the identity realm. The following stories are about real people sharing how their transition affected their marriages.

You’ve been lying to me all these years

Linda and Diane were a typical lesbian couple. Together for 6 years, joint home owners, and both active in the LGBT community. On the surface, everything about them seems right. But there’s something brewing inside of Diane, something she has known since she was much younger but chose to ignore it in hopes it would “go away”.

Diane always knew she was different than other girls. She was a tomboy, and preferred masculine toys, sports, clothing, and she liked other girls. As she got older, she found the LGBT community and realized her inner masculinity was an indication she was a lesbian, so she identified as one from that point on.

She met Linda, and life went on for the two of them, only Diane’s sense of self-identity was “off”. She realized she still didn’t feel right about herself. She didn’t really “feel” like a lesbian, she felt more like a man. It didn’t take long for her to put a name to this feeling. She knew she was a transgender man, but wasn’t sure how to tell Linda about it.

Finally, Diane found the courage to talk to Linda. Linda was shocked. “What do you mean you’re a man? You’re a lesbian!” Diane tried to explain that “lesbian” was a term she had identified with until she found the more appropriate term for her identity. She tried to explain that the term “lesbian” was a sexual identity, but because she was really a transgender man, she could not be a lesbian.

But that makes me a…a…straight woman?” exclaimed Linda, then states emphatically, “No! I’m a lesbian and I married a lesbian. I like women, not men! Now I find out you’ve been lying to me all these years.”

Over the next few weeks, Diane began using the name David and using male pronouns. Most of the couple’s lesbian friends immediately came to Linda’s defense, and ceased communication with David after his announcement. They, too, felt betrayed by someone they thought was “one of their own”. 

My Marriage Was a Sham

Erin’s (not her real name) life changed dramatically when she transitioned from male to female (MTF). “It has cost me my relationship with my father and brother, (my mother is deceased). I have lost a lot of friends at home”, she explains. She has lost the closeness she once had with her three grown children, all young men. Her marriage suffered irreparably when she came out to her spouse of many years.

Her wife is unable to accept Erin’s new gender identity, nor will she use the new pronouns of “she” and “hers”, when she states,

“I consider my marriage to have been a sham…I felt like I had been punched in the face [when he told me]. I felt betrayed. My whole marriage to this person was a lie…I have always felt and been straight…he moved to another bedroom, I simply couldn’t stand to be in the same bed with him anymore.”

Erin and her wife are now physically separated, and are seeking permanent legal separation.

Our relationship actually grew stronger

Not all relationships end because one spouse transitions. For instance, one FTM (female-to-male) whom I’ll call “G” says about his gender transition, “So far I have had nothing but support from all of my family and friends…One big positive change I have noticed since I began my transition is I feel a lot better about myself … I have confidence where I had none before.” His wife talks about her own identity in the marriage “I have been married to a man, and I have had relationships with women, so being with a man is not foreign to me.   I also have a daughter. I have decided I am how I am, I appreciate both sexes, and I am attracted to both.”

“G” says about their currently relationship of eight years Our relationship actually grew stronger because she knew that I was finally getting what I had always wanted.  She was happy for me.” His wife adds “Things are mostly the same, we have had some issues with anger due to the hormones, and I don’t like man rage.  We are working through it as best we can, knowing in the end it will be worth it.

The Identity Shift

An announcement by your loved one that he or she is transgender will likely cause you to look within yourself and question your own identity. “Am I a heterosexual now?” “Am I no longer gay because my husband is now my wife?”

Try to remember that your spouse has come to terms with their identity over time, likely even over years. You, on the other hand, have just had this put in front of you. Let’s face it. You’re likely experiencing a myriad of emotions ranging from shock to anger to emptiness and loss. Go ahead and give yourself permission to feel everything you’re feeling.

Realize that there are no easy answers to your questions of self-reflection, but there are ways to frame this newest “hiccup” in your marriage, and for those who are experiencing emotional mayhem about personal identity due to a spouse’s gender transition, consider the following words of support:

  1. Just because your spouse transitions, it doesn’t change who you are. You’re still the same person you’ve always been. Whether you consider yourself a lesbian, or gay man, or a straight person – you still are! Unless, that is, you choose to alter the label you’ve defined yourself as being. Remember, it’s okay to say “I’m a lesbian who’s in love with a man.”
  2. You don’t have to change your sexual attractions. Likely, you’ll have to modify things a bit in your sexual life together, but remember that any physical changes your partner goes through doesn’t change the inner person, the person you’re in love with. They’re simply outer physical changes. Be open to adapting and exploring these changes, and you might just find your attractions evolving
  3. Don’t feel guilty about having your feelings – explore them, be aware of them, be honest about them, and most of all, communicate them to your loved one.

It’s your choice

More often than not, it’s the non-transitioning spouse who makes the final decision on whether the marriage survives or not. Remember and respect that your transgender partner has loved you and entrusted you with their innermost conflicts and truth, because you are the most important person in their life. As you sort through your own identity fears, share these concerns with them as you would any about any other matters of importance in your life.

Many marriages can, and do, survive through this difficult period. Keep communicating, and don’t turn your back on your loved one, or on the time you’ve spent together. Be true to yourselves – together. The identity shifts you both experience can be stepping stones to a stronger, happier marriage.


Please obtain permission from author and/or publisher if you wish to use any part of this article.

Board Member Application

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TransMentors International, Inc. is seeking applicants
for a position on its Board of Directors.

The Board will support the work of TransMentors International, Inc. and provide mission-based leadership and strategic governance. While day-to-day operations are led by the Executive Director (E.D.), the Board-E.D.  relationship is a partnership, and the appropriate involvement of the Board is both critical and expected.

Specific Board Member responsibilities include:

  • A genuine interest in the mission and vision of TransMentors International, Inc.
  • Be aware of issues that are relevant to the organization, and keep up to date on relevant trends in the community
  • A desire to help lead and support the transgender community through our Programs and Projects which include the International Mentors Program, Phone Mentoring, Faith Support, the S.A.F.E. Project and others.
  • A willingness to represent TransMentors International at selected national and local conferences as well as to local and national agencies in order to provide education and resources to not only the trans community, but to the greater society as a whole.
  • Understand that TMII is a donation-driven organization, and to that effect, fundraising is a priority. Board Members will be expected to find, secure and promote fundraising activities which further the organization’s goals.
  • A willingness to commit time, energy and skills into promoting the growth of the organization.
  • Bring your own training, skills, and experience to all board decisions.
  • Keep board discussions confidential

Candidates should Download the Application (Word DOC) and return it via email to address listed within the application.

Mentors Program

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a Program we had open, and had volunteers in various cities. The current status is “closed/pending”. 

SUMMARY: TMII provides training and all support documents for Site Program Coordinators to host Mentoring Workshops and Programs in various cities around the world. Board Member would travel to help with workshop/setup, if needed (at host’s expense).

MY THOUGHTS: I’d like to start this up again. The response was positive when it was going. I have all the documentation needed for people to initiate a Mentors Program in their location (training files for Coordinators as well as all the handouts for them to use)

Here are the website pages and information that were either visible to the public or to the Site Program Coordinators once they were logged into the portal.

International Mentors Program (Was live on site)

Site Mentor Program Coordinator Job Description (Was live on site)

Site Program Coordinators Mentors Program – Training Materials (Was accessible in portal only)

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

 

Michael Update Email – August 24, 2015

Hi Everyone,

After talking with David, who has vast experience with finding and securing funding resources, I am encouraged and would like to begin pursuing further Programs with TransMentors. It’s time we start putting our Mission and Vision into action.

The following is a list of the various Programs we either DID have in place and running, or ones that were talked about, or announced but never went any further. I’ve included a note to you at the top of each of the pages to let you know the status of each of them.

I want to begin expanding TransMentors to more than just having websites. At one time, we had an International Mentors Program, Phone Mentors, Workshops, a Faith-Based Support Program, Workshops, and had announced the S.A.F.E. Program, which never took off.

Early board members and I wanted to also start up a Trans Emergency Hotline, but due to one board member being totally against it, we never put it into place. There is now an organization who has a Trans Help Line available (http://www.translifeline.org/), thankfully. I believe it’s needed, and I believe there can be more than one, especially if we present ours with trained staff.

Please take a look at each Program and indicate in the Comments section below it whether you are for or against reinstating the Program, and why or why not.

I know you’re all busy with your lives, but if you would take a look and respond to each of these, I’d appreciate it.

You can email everyone in reply, or comment below or on the individual pages. All comment sections are at end of posts, and if you will subscribe to them, you’ll be notified of new comments. This is ONLY in the Board area, no worries of receiving other emails from the website.

Care Provider Proposal

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a proposal made during the first year. It stayed in “proposal” status.

SUMMARY: TMII would have a database of providers who will open their homes to those recuperating from SRS, and providing transportation to/from medical facilities during their stay. There are a few people in the states that do this – I know Dr. Meltzer in Scottsdale has a list of people who do this for his patients.

MY THOUGHTS: I’d like to have a database of providers available (upon request) to both patients and to  medical providers with transgender clients.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

SRS Care Provider Proposal

[Draft: 02/01/2009]

Overview:

A SRS Care Provider program will be available to transgender clients who require immediate, short term, assistance prior to and immediately following SRS surgery. The service will be available 24/7.

A pre-placement interview will be performed to determine dates of lodging, transportation and care needs, and poses no threat to SRS Care Providers.

A maximum length of stay will be established and enforced.

Rules of behavior will be established and enforced.

Processes will be created to track and document all activities.

We will work with health care providers and charitable services centers to provide additional assistance, if required.

A follow up process will be followed and documented.


Tasks:

Awareness Building: Contact SRS surgeons, Therapists, Primary Care Physicians and other Trans-specific health care providers, religious charities and transgender community organizations and advise them of the program’s existence and process – stressing care needs of transgender people before, during and after SRS surgery.

Recruitment of Volunteers:

  1. Request assistance by homeowners via Transgender and LGB community and advocacy organizations. Create web portal for homeowners to volunteer space in their homes and for the community to donate personal need items and food.
  2. Request assistance from volunteers for providing transportation to/from public transportation facilities (i.e. airport, bus station).
  3. Request assistance from volunteers for providing transportation to/from surgical appointments, as well as pre-op and post-op appointments
  4. Request assistance to assist with living needs: i.e. cooking, cleaning, shopping during recovery process.

Cost:

Contact Process: Phone number and web portal.

Pre-placement/assignment Interview: Create a list of questions to ask applicant to determine if applicant meets requirement criteria. Try to determine if applicant will present any threat to SRS Care Providers.

Liability Mitigation: Waiver will need to be created to be signed by the Care Provider. The form will be available on website. They will sign and mail.

  • Decide on Maximum length of stay.
  • Create Rules of Behavior.
  • Create tracking and documenting process
  • Create a follow-up process.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Fundraising

NOTE TO BOARD FROM MICHAEL

STATUS: Pending

SUMMARY: This was a proposal made for how we would go about fundraising. It needs revision.


[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Fundraising will be divided into 3 specific areas:

  1. General Operating Expenses
  2. Emergency Fund (providing emergency housing, medical care, etc. to those in need)
  3. SRS Fund

As research is being done, and actions put into effect, we will be using the  Comments area for status updates, as well as I will update this page as necessary.

 

International Mentors Program

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NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a Program we had open, (this page was on the website), and we had volunteers in various cities. The current status is “closed/pending”. 

SUMMARY: TMII would provide training and all support documents for Site Program Coordinators to host Mentoring Workshops and Programs in various cities around the world.  

MY THOUGHTS: I’d like to start this up again. The response was positive when it was going. I have all the documentation needed for people to initiate a Mentors Program in their location (training files for Coordinators as well as all the handouts for them to use)

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

 

Finding personal support early on in our transitions is not easy. We are full of questions, and many times turning to online support is the only way we can find answers. Finding someone locally willing to be a friend and mentor through the process of transitioning proves nearly impossible for some.

The Mentors Program brings the trans community together on a personal level.

There’s a trans-identified person in your community who can really benefit from your advice, guidance, and knowledge of the trans community, world and life. It takes just a few hours a month to be a mentor. Let a trans-identified person know you care. Help them realize that doors can be opened, to see that opportunities are not just for others and demonstrate that there is a place for each person in our community. When you give to another person, you help them learn the joys of giving back!

Needed: Mentor Program Coordinators Nationwide

Please see the Volunteer page for a description.

Find a Mentor:

Those interested in finding support from a local Mentor can contact us to see if we have a Mentor Program in or near your city.

Want to be a Mentor and make a difference?

For those interested in one-on-one and group-oriented peer mentoring of Trans youth (12-18) and adults over 18 who are in the pre- or early-transitioning phase

Workshops will be presented by a local Program Coordinator near you. Please plan on attending this 1 1/2 hour workshop for information on Mentoring through our program. The purpose of the workshop is to is to educate Trans men and women on the process & particulars of mentoring, as well as legalities when mentoring youth (under 18).

After attending a Workshop, if you are interested in becoming a Mentor, you’ll be given an Application packet. A background check is required before being accepted into the Mentors Program.

Once approved, you’ll be expected to attend a 2-hour Orientation Class, followed by the assignment of your new mentee.

Mentors and mentees will attend monthly Support Groups, which cover a variety of Topics specific to the trans community, and will include speakers and presentations from local area organizations and groups.

Please contact us to find out if there is a Mentor Program in your area. If there’s not, consider being the one to start one!

 

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Site Mentor Program Coordinator Job Description

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was the Site Program Coordinator Job Description, which was at one time live on website when Program was running. The current status is “closed/pending”. 
[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

 

PROGRAM COORDINATOR POSITION DESCRIPTION

Title: Mentors Site Program Coordinator

SUMMARY: This position involves recruiting, training and screening adult volunteers and matching them one-to-one with mentees. Responsibilities also include interviewing and screening the mentees, providing follow-up support once each match is made, planning and implementing Orientation workshops, and planning and implementing a Support Group program.

Detailed Responsibilities: Coordinator’s duties include but are not limited to the following:

  • Oversees and manages program in their city/location. Works with Supervisor online via emails and messenger.
  • Generate community awareness of the Mentors Program.
  • Recruit volunteers from the community to work with the mentees that are referred or recruited, using print, media, local trans organizations and groups, etc.;
  • Recruit mentees from the community, using print, media, local trans organizations and groups, etc.;
  • Plans, promotes, organizes and hosts local Workshops for future mentors. This will include securing a suitable location for meeting, ensuring the local community is aware of event particulars, printing handouts, speaking, and maintaining records of attendance and outcomes for future mentors.
  • Secures all mentor applications, background check forms and parents consent forms when applicable; Forwards necessary forms to Supervisor for processing.
  • Oversees and assists with participant screening (both mentors and mentees); training of mentors, matching, support, supervision, recognition and closure activities for mentors and mentees;
  • Organizes and hosts Orientation Class for new mentors. Class will follow a predetermined structure.
  • Hosts ongoing monthly Support Groups for mentors and mentees; Groups will be Topic-oriented. At times, securing speakers from local groups and organizations will be required.
  • Provides guidance to mentors and mentees to ensure that both have an enriching mentoring experience;
  • Creates and oversees implementation of ongoing advertising and mentor and mentee recruitment plans;
  • Communicates with supervisor on a monthly basis concerning program or individual issues or new projects;
  • Contributes to program evaluation efforts.

Qualifications:

  • Exceptionally strong organizational, interpersonal and communication skills; and
  • Demonstrated creativity, flexibility and comfort in working within the trans community.

Compensation:

  • Non-paid position.

US RESIDENTS ONLY: Download Application (not available right now). Mail all pages to address on application. You may also scan and email or fax it to us. (Contact details on website). Please include Cover Letter with an introduction about yourself, and tell us what city/state you would like to oversee.

NON-US RESIDENTS: Please Contact Michael for information on starting the Mentors Program in your country.

 

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Site Program Coordinator Mentors Program – Training Materials

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: Closed/Pending

SUMMARY: These were the training files for Site Program Coordinators, accessible when they logged into website. The links to files are not valid since the website move, I will be fixing this if/when we reinstate program.
[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

Mentors Program

Site Program Coordinator (SPC) Training


Here you will find links to the manuals and all handouts in PDF format. Be sure to open and print each document. Some include training materials, while others are handouts, applications, letters, etc. Make sure you have adequate printer ink available.

If you are unable to view PDF documents, please visit THIS SITE to download Adobe Reader. (Link opens in new browser window).

Note: All links open the document in a new window.

SPC MentorTraining Manual [ PDF ]

Workshop Training Manual, with Agenda and Handouts [ PDF ]

Orientation Class Training Manual, with Agenda and Handouts[ PDF ]

Support Groups Training Manual with Agenda [ PDF ]

Mentor Application Packet: [ PDF ] Mentor Application Process [ PDF ]

Mentee Questionnaire [ PDF ]   Parental Permission Form [ PDF ]

Mentor/Mentee Agreement [ PDF ]

Sample Flyer to recruit Mentors [ WORD DOC ] (be sure to add your own Contact Information near the bottom!)

Sample Flyer to recruit Mentees [ WORD DOC ] (be sure to add your own Contact Information near the bottom!)


Note: Michael Brown is available to travel to your city to facilitate an Orientation Class. There is no charge for this, however; airfare, accommodations (a couch is ok) and food must be provided for the duration of his stay (minimum 2 nights, assuming it is a regular length session, see below for options). Please contact Michael at michaelb@transmentors.org for scheduling information.

If you’d like Michael to facilitate the Orientation Class, you can opt to have a 6 hour session. However, you will need to provide a break for attendees to grab a lunch, (not provided) so it would be scheduled as a 7 hour day (weekend preferred). Make sure your location is near one or more restaurants. You will also need to provide an extra night’s lodging for Michael (3 nights minimum).

All handouts must be available and ready for the class. If you have opted for a longer class, there will be more printouts. Please contact Michael to download these pages prior to his arrival so you can have them ready for the class. A whiteboard or chalkboard would be very helpful for the longer class.


 
[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Phone Mentoring

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a Program we had open. This page was live on the website. TMII had volunteers to answer phone in various cities. The current status is “closed/pending”. 

SUMMARY: TMII provided volunteers who had assigned hours answering the toll-free number (it would forward the ring to their personal phones during their assigned time). We no longer have a toll-free number because I personally couldn’t pay for it anymore. 

MY THOUGHTS: I’d like to start this up again. The response was positive when it was going.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

Phone Mentor Support

Are you thinking about transitioning and want to talk to someone about it? Are you feeling alone through your transition? Do you need someone to just listen?

Our Phone Mentors are not professional counselors or therapists. They will not give advice (see Disclaimer below). They won’t judge you, they won’t tell you their way is better than another way.

They will simply listen and talk to you like a friend.

When you’re needing to talk, just call our toll-free number. Leave your name (first name or alias is fine), and a phone number where someone can call you back. Please let us know if you are male or female identified, so we can have a similar Volunteer get in touch with you.

Please allow up to 24 hours for a return call, although we will try to contact you within an hour of your call.

(phone number will go here)


DISCLAIMER: TransMentors International Inc. does not make any claims to professional counseling or therapy. Our toll-free number is not a crisis line or a suicide hotline. Our volunteers will immediately refer a caller to the appropriate resources if it appears to be a crisis-oriented phone call. We are all simply individuals who are willing to listen to others who are on their journeys of self-discovery and realization of their gender identities. We will not be held liable or responsible for any negative consequences resulting before, during or after a conversation with one of our phone volunteers.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Phone Mentors Volunteers

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NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a Program we had open, and this page was live on the site. We had volunteers in various cities. The current status is “closed/pending”. 

SUMMARY: TMII would provide training and all support documents for Site Program Coordinators to host Mentoring Workshops and Programs in various cities around the world.  

MY THOUGHTS: I’d like to start this up again. The response was positive when it was going. I have all the documentation

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

PHONE MENTORS VOLUNTEERS

When someone calls in to our toll free # wanting to talk… we need Volunteers to call them back and listen. Not a therapy session, no counseling, not giving advice, just lend an ear and if asked, tell your story.

We’ll keep a list of a few Volunteers (with times of day/week that is good for you).. and your email address. When someone wants a callback, we’ll send you an email with the name and #.

Strictly volunteer, and no reimbursement for phone costs.

Anyone interested can Contact Michael for more information.

Please fill out an application…(not currently available) and include it with your email.

DISCLAIMER: TransMentors International Inc. does not make any claims to professional counseling or therapy. Our toll-free number is not a crisis line or a suicide hotline. Our volunteers will immediately refer a caller to the appropriate resources if it appears to be a crisis-oriented phone call. We are all simply individuals who are willing to listen to others who are on their journeys of self-discovery and realization of their gender identities. We will not be held liable or responsible for any negative consequences resulting before, during or after a conversation with one of our phone volunteers.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

 

Phone Mentors Orientation Files

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a Program we had open. This page was accessible to approved Phone Mentors when they logged into the website. The current status is “closed/pending”. 

SUMMARY: All training files for Phone Mentors 

MY THOUGHTS: I’d like to start this up again. The response was positive when it was going. I have all the documentation

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

Very Important: If you suspect the person you are on the phone with is in a dangerous situation, (i.e. crisis, suicidal) you MUST suggest to them immediately that they need to call 911 or 1-800-SUICIDE for help. If the person is a trans youth, they can call The Trevor Project at: 1-800-4-U-TREVOR.

You MUST gently, but firmly, hang up and give them that opportunity. YOU ARE NOT A TRAINED THERAPIST, and as hard as it may be for you to hear someone hurting, you CANNOT save them. *


Phone Mentors Orientation Files

Mentoring someone on the phone is much the same as mentoring in person. There are differences, but you will find practical information in the following files (.PDF format) in dealing with a person in a mentoring relationship. These are the same guidelines published for our Orientation Class for in-person local mentoring.

  1. GUIDELINES FOR MENTORS
  2. STAGES OF THE RELATIONSHIP
  3. MENTOR ROLES AND TASKS
  4. BOUNDARIES
  5. COMMUNICATION SKILLS
  6. SELF ESTEEM
  7. DIFFICULT SITUATIONS
  8. CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
  9. CLOSURE

*TransMentors International Inc. does not make any claims to professional counseling or therapy. Our toll-free number is not a crisis line or a suicide hotline. Our volunteers will immediately refer a caller to the appropriate resources if it appears to be a crisis-oriented phone call. We are all simply individuals who are willing to listen to others who are on their journeys of self-discovery and realization of their gender identities. We will not be held liable or responsible for any negative consequences resulting before, during or after a conversation with one of our phone volunteers.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Faith-Based Support

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a Program we had open, this webpage was live on the website, and we had volunteers (generally ministers/pastors)  of various faiths.  The current status is “closed/pending”. 

SUMMARY: TMII maintained a list of Faith Support Volunteers, and when someone emailed or called asking for spiritual help, they were referred to someone of similar faith/beliefs.

MY THOUGHTS: I’d like to start this up again. The response was positive when it was going. 
[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

FAITH-BASED SUPPORT

Often being a trans-identified man or woman brings the issues of spirituality and faith to the forefront, after trying unsuccessfully to repress these thoughts that have been influenced by the “negatives” in the mainstream faith communities.

Denominations and faith groups still struggle mightily over issues of sexuality and faith. Many of the modern faith communities have accepted and welcomed the gays and lesbians, and claim to welcome the spectrum of the LGBT community.

However, we find they are still struggling with the actual inclusion and understanding of the trans community. Gender identity is distinct from sexual orientation.

For those of us who were brought up in the mainstream fundamentalist churches, we’ve found it has become one of our biggest obstacles to peace in our journeys.

Whether you are from a Christian background or Buddhist, or Hindu, or Pagan, or just searching to find your place, if you are struggling with issues of acceptance and want to find some peace, we’re here for you.

TransMentors International has Faith Leaders from several different backgrounds willing to contact you and support you in your quest to resolve the “Trans vs. Faith/Spirituality” debate that’s going on inside you.

Contact us, and in the message box add your your faith background/interest. We will contact one of our Faith Leaders and someone will get in touch with you as soon as they can to offer their support

Note: If we do not have a Faith Leader with the background you are interested in, we will still have someone contact you and offer their support. You are welcome to accept their offer or politely decline. We’ll do our best to match you with someone with similar beliefs.

Please allow up to 72 hours for someone to contact you. All volunteers with TransMentors International are just that – Volunteers, and have lives and jobs and they generously donate their time to help when needed.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Educational Workshops and Diversity Training

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: We had this page live on the website until recently. The current status is “closed/pending”. 

SUMMARY: TMII will provide Workshops and Diversity Training.

MY THOUGHTS: We’ve all led groups, and workshops, as well as some of us have been speakers. I’d like to modify this page with workshops that current Board Members are able to provide, as well as offer a Speaker’s Bureau.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

TransMentors International offers a number of educational workshops for your group, organization or business. The workshop and training session lengths vary between 90-120 minutes (unless indicated). Please contact us if you are interested in having one of our Facilitators at your location.*


About Trans Identities (Trans 101)

Faciliator: Various

This lecture/workshop is geared towards individuals who have little or no experience with Trans identities. The goal of the workshop is to provide those attending with a basic overview of the wide spectrum of Trans identities, an open and safe forum to ask questions about Trans experiences, and provide a foundational knowledge of the Trans community. Topics include: the difference between sex and gender, information about different identities under the umbrella term ‘Trans,’ challenges faced by Trans people, and statistics concerning crimes against the Trans community.

Beyond Trans 101: The Transgender Client/Employee/Student/Congregant

Facilitator: Zander Keig, MS, MTS

This seminar will provide specific and actionable tools to become a more inclusive practice, agency, school, congregation, and business. Too often diversity programs, even those labeled LGBT, neglect to incorporate transgender specific suggestions/ideas into building awareness and designing programs that reflect the complexity of transgender individuals needs and concerns.

The (Legal) Challenges of Being Transgender

Facilitator: Abigail Jensen, Arizona

Learn about the unique legal challenges that transgender people face as they transform their lives to match mind and body and live as their authentic selves, including the challenges of changing name and gender on drivers licenses, passports, birth certificates and other documents on which our legal identities depend.  Bring your questions and your own experiences to share with the group.

The Importance of a Support System

Facilitator: Various

This workshop covers the importance of a support system for all trans-identified persons who have made or are contemplating this journey. Find out how family, friends and co-workers, as well as employers, can help in transition for both female to male individuals and male to female individuals. Hear stories of personal struggles and journeys through transition and living in our affirmed gender, and how it affects family and friends.  The stories are different, but the goal is the same, and all need the support of our loved ones.

Transmen At Risk: Sex, Dating and HIV/AIDS

Facilitator: Michael Brown, Arizona

Transmen are forced to paint a picture of themselves while maintaining confidence and dignity to prospective sexual partners. This presentation followed by group interaction covers topics such as body dysphoria, dating and sexual encounters with Gay/Bi cisgender men, risk factors for HIV/AIDS infection and some of the reasons why transmen are at an even greater risk than other groups for STDs and HIV/AIDS.

Trans Mentors Workshops (Four-part series)

Facilitator: Michael Brown, Arizona

For those interested in one-on-one and group-oriented peer mentoring of Trans youth (12-18) and adults over 18 who are in the pre- or early-transitioning phase. These interactive workshops are designed for Trans-identified men and women who are living full-time in their preferred gender. Learn how to mentor and educate trans men and women, and as well as legalities when mentoring youth (under 18). We will discuss hands-on techniques for being a successful mentor whether it is face to face, internet based, or over the phone. Just the basics are included in Part I, which covers Guidelines, Stages, and Roles, and allows time for Q&A.

Those interested in becoming Mentors with TransMentors International must attend all workshops if accepted into our Mentors Program. Further Workshops cover all of the above in greater detail, as well as setting boundaries,  communication skills, difficult situations, conflict resolution, self esteem, closure and more.

——————-

*There are no fees for the workshops. However, travel and accomodations (if necessary) are the responsibility of the requesting organization.

 

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Archives: Press Release – 01/07/12 – S.A.F.E. PROJECT

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: You can see by the title that this was a Press Release. Due to concerns by board members, this program was not put into action. The current status is “closed/pending”. 

SUMMARY: A Safe House and emergency assistance program available to trans-identified people who require immediate, short term, safe housing and/or immediate emergency assistance with transportation, food, or clothing.

MY THOUGHTS: I would like to implement this Program. I believe it is sorely needed and would provide the down-to-earth assistance that so many trans people need. I speak from experience (H.O.P.E. House). I also would like to think about offering my personal services to helping organizations and individuals open up their own H.O.P.E. House

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 

TRANSMENTORS INTERNATIONAL, INC. (TMII)

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Michael Brown
Email:   michaelb@transmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11:00 A.M. MST, January 16, 2012

ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEWEST PROGRAM – THE S.A.F.E. PROJECT

PHOENIX, AZ JANUARY 16, 2012: TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Transgender-identified individuals, announces a new program designed to provide emergency services to transgender men and women in the U.S. and internationally.

A Safe House and emergency assistance program will be available at a yet-to-be-determined date to trans-identified people who require immediate, short term, safe housing and/or immediate emergency assistance with transportation, food, or clothing.

The program is called “The S.A.F.E. Project”, (Swift Action for Emergencies). A database of Emergency Providers will be maintained by a Team of volunteers with access to services through the use of the existing toll-free number, email and other Internet communication methods.

This program will also work in conjunction with the existing International Mentors Program, as well as the Faith Support Program, where sometimes a friendly voice in an emergency can make all the difference.

———————

TransMentors International, Inc. is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides aid, support and assistance to trans-identified individuals, including online discussion forums, personal mentoring, emergency housing assistance and health, faith and other resource referrals. More details can be found at www.TransMentors.org or by calling (877) 366-3888.

-End-

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Press Release 08/22/2015 Announcing Newest Board Member David Bathory

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TRANSMENTORS INTERNATIONAL, INC. (TMII)

Press Release

Contact: Michael Brown
Email:   michaelb@transmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1:30PM SATURDAY, AUGUST 22, 2015

ANNOUNCING NEW MEMBER ON BOARD OF DIRECTORS

TUCSON, AZ AUGUST 22, 2015: TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals, announced the newest addition to its Board of Directors, David Bathory, Psy.D.

David Bathory is a doctoral level clinical psychologist, and has worked in a variety of settings, in-patient and out-patient facilities, day treatment, prison, and has served as a multi-county administrator for public mental health/developmental disabilities and substance abuse. In all of these environments there have been people facing challenges with their gender and identities. He currently owns an International Research, Consulting and Psychological Services Company called Bathory International, whose goal and hopes are to help heal the world from the ignorance and wounds of hate.

TMII Executive Director Michael Brown says, “We are happy to have David join TransMentors International. His experience and knowledge of gender and transgender-related concerns will prove valuable in the work we do in our organization.”

—————————

TransMentors International, Inc. is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides aid, support and assistance to trans-identified individuals, including online discussion forums, personal mentoring, emergency housing assistance and health, faith and other resource referrals. More details can be found at www.TransMentors.org.

Faith Support Volunteer

NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a Program we had open. This page was live on the website as a description for the volunteers. The current status is “closed/pending”. 

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


 
Dear Faith Leaders,
TransMentors International, Inc. (TMII, affectionately pronounced “Timmy”) is now spanning over 30 countries, with the United States, of course, reaching the majority of our trans-identified community.   TMII is an all
volunteer, non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals. This support includes mentoring (online, phone and in-person), temporary safe housing assistance,  education
and advocacy, and faith-based support, and any other day-to-day support needed that comes our way. 
We receive emails and phone calls from trans men, women and youth from many faith  backgrounds asking for help, education, and sometimes just a “caring shoulder to lean on spiritually”, so to speak.We are looking for Faith Leaders who are willing to voluntarily provide either email or telephone spiritual support to trans-identified individuals who request help.
We would like to build a referral list so we might send these individuals to someone from similar faith backgrounds. Whether clergy or lay persons, we need you!Let us know if you are willing to volunteer your time now and again to our community through TransMentors International. There’s a small informal application below you can download so we know a little about you.
Supporting someone would simply entail you responding to an email we send to you with contact details of those who request support, and your willingness to contact them within a reasonable time frame that works with your schedule. We  know we are all busy, and we all have lives. We understand completely if your plate is too full to take on anything extra right now.
Thank you for considering this request. We appreciate each and every one of you who are helping those in our community, and hope to see a positive reply from some of you.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Videos

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We’ve compiled a few videos for you to watch. Enjoy!







The House That Builds HOPE

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Michael & Lillian Brown opened their home from 2008-2012 as a Trans Safe House and transitional living home for the trans community. People from all over the U.S. stayed at H.O.P.E. House (Healing, Opportunity, Promise, Empowerment) for a few days to a few months, where they were able to have a safe and healthy place to live while they were healing from the discrimination of their past.

Please read the article about H.O.P.E. House in ‘N Touch magazine in Phoenix, Arizona.

The House That Builds HOPE (PDF)

Crossing the Border, Coming Home to One’s Self

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She sat in the compartment alone, stared from the window as the train flew through villages scattered across the Franconian hillsides like jacks tossed into a circle prior to the game. Grey stone walls, red-tiled roofs and always the spire of the town-church above everything else, cross shining across the fields and the roads where the occasional car wended its way between here and there.


 

Her breath made fog on the glass as she leaned almost into the window, better able to see out or wishing in some way to melt through glass and become part of the landscape she passed through.

She wondered if somehow she might become one of the flakes of snow that drifted through the afternoon air to settle into its place among the ones already fallen, adding to the half-meter already covering the earth. She thought about the crossing this morning from the Czech Republic. How unnoticeable they are, those lines made somehow on the earth, that make one tussock Bohemia and another Lower Bavaria.

She realized that she didn’t know the delineations of her own borders: where one state ended and another began. In some fashion there was nothing to mark where childhood ended and adulthood began, where old and young had passports collected and stamped by Customs as one moved slowly through the queue.

I wonder this morning as I watch the snow, looking for all the world like powdered sugar sifting onto a sheet of baked cookies, about borders. The borders of my life, of yours. How do we define those? Where do we come to the crossings that mean we’ve moved from one country to another? How do we tell we have crossed them? There are no barriers in place and id-checks, no passports are stamped by civil guards drawn up to make certain every document is properly credentialed with official seals intact. The interior landscape doesn’t conform to the exteriors we move through.

I am thinking about my friend Veronica who very soon now will cross a border in order to cross a border. When she returns she’ll be able to cross other borders. Her state will change the sex designation on her birth certificate and the Social Security Administration will change their database to indicate she’s female now, male the day before.

No doubt she’ll notice the change. Eight hours anaesthesized in a surgery may pass unconscious, but those hours will leave their mark and she’ll be very aware in a day or so that she lived through them and was wheeled out of the surgery and into her room a different person for the world, yet how different will she be? Will she abruptly be transfigured when the surgeon stitches the final stitch? At what point in the operation would enough have been done to mark the time and say: “Now she is able to be considered female?” Will there be a referee behind a glass partition in the surgery who will dutifully mark that point and write authoritatively “Now, she’s real.”

Who knows what bureaucrats and transsexing/transsexed women get up to? (For those about to be offended, that was tongue-in-cheek.) Perhaps in every OR there is such an official who notes the border-crossing and gives that initial stamp of approval allowing the surgery to go forward to its completion. But are those stamps ever enough?  Can the border-crossing be so finely noted that the exact moment becomes clear? Or is it more of a matter of when the self reconciles itself to the self?

Many of us have memories, quite clear often enough as the experience quite embedded itself within our young psyches, of understanding that we were somehow different than we’d been told by others we were at very young ages. Generally, I would think, most of us who have such recalls would also agree that puberty and the horror of finding a body changing, but not in the fashion desired, was when the knowledge finally came home with a decided force that we had crossed a border unbidden, undesired. Now there would be no going back or forward, no way we could be seen any longer as that person we knew ourselves to be.

After that there could only be injections of hormones, a series of surgeries, that would mould and shape our bodies and hearts away from the despair of depression and anxiety that Harry Benjamin’s successors came to call Gender Identity Dysphoria or Disorder. I wonder though if that is the basic line to be drawn. Is there truly some border where what we are changes so drastically that we can be said to have a syndrome, a disorder or a defect (you choose whatever word you wish. As I continue to live my life I am less inclined to divide it into discreet parts and make clear lines between this and that.)

In thinking of this I think of Alexandra’s words again, the one’s I re-published yesterday with the “vampires” piece.

I have become adept as you have at the refined deflection, so apparent to myself but often not seen by others. I appear very public but only with what I want to be public ~ then I hide doing that too by being terribly ‘there’.

I wonder sometimes if we don’t become too good at that deflection she spoke of. If somehow our deflections of the public eye aren’t intimately symbiotic with deflections of our interior gazes as well. I wonder, how much do we serve our own diminshment? How much through reflecting nothing at all or a false mirror-front we manage to deflect the gaze of others, but mostly the gaze of ourselves? What, exactly, is the purpose?

I’ll not deny, not even for an instant, that there is something invigorating, something affirming, in walking through one’s world receiving no startled looks nor any wondering scratches of heads from those we pass among. We call that amongst ourselves “presentation” as one might present a roast beef done-up with sprigs of parsley and surrounded by asparagus and summer squash so that the eye is drawn to the beauty, the normality of the presentation.

Yet, as Cathryn Platine points out in a different context, (you may find her at radicalbitch.wordpress) all of the presentation in the world cannot bring what’s not there to completion.

I was welcomed into the women’s activities, made a part of the luncheons and outings and the wider social circle without a blip, she was not although she very much wanted to be. Both of us were “out” because both of us had been on the panel so that wasn’t it. As I grew closer to some of these women I straight out asked them why and the answer was an eye opener from someone who had been exposed to the various tranny “wisdoms” of “passing”……I was real, she wasn’t. I was completely at home with my own womanhood to the point no one else would even think to question it and so it wasn’t questioned and quickly forgotten. She was never comfortable in her own skin even post operatively ….

There is at some point a recognition within of the self. Some of it, I think, is luck. To a greater degree I think Cathryn is right, it’s a matter of comfort, of releasing one’s interior to be alive in the world and not a matter of “presentation” at all. The “presentation” is always available.It’s the presentation of one’s deepest self. There’s no need to carefully crop or burnish it because one brings to the world all that she is, all that she has ever been.

I believe she’s also correct that no surgery, or set of surgeries, no training with a coach, no particular way of dress or any other accoutrement adds to what may not be there already. Somewhere it becomes a necessity for the individual to be herself, or himself. There’s no middle-ground there. No sleight-of-hand that will provide one with a short-cut or a secret way to being one’s self. The acceptance must be internal and lived.

Ask any other human being how they become who they are. After the intial puzzlement and shock at your question I believe they may tell you, provided they haven’t run from you in panic, that they simply are who they are. That’s the way they meet the world, the way they live their lives. They cross the borders as they arrive not marking the passing just moving through them.

I imagine they cannot tell you when the borders were crossed, for at some point I think you simply recognize that you’ve crossed them. Recognition comes, as it did on the Bundespost trains I used to ride, when you find that Nuernburg is outside the window and you’ve passed from Hesse into Bayern. There’s been no announcement by a conductor. You’ve noticed no abrupt change of scenery through the windows that might tell you one state’s been left and another entered. There’s simply the journey and the passing of scenes through your eyes.

There’s no doubt that when a journey begins one may think that she will go from one country to another. She might imagine beforehand that there will be some distinct place where she’ll change citizenship from Czech to German or Dutch. Afterall, it’s all there on the map, plain as day, different colors indicating different socio-political entities. How might one go from one to another without knowing?

Because, I’ve found, there is no different country one moves to or from. There is only the country one was born into, the one where her citizenship  lies. Her nativity cannot be denied for she finds the words and the pattern of the country’s movement and gestures are as familiar to her as her own thoughts.

I have disagreements with people on their political and social stances. I have no disagreements with them when it comes to recognition and acceptance into the society of one’s native land. One goes home to her birth country. She doesn’t change her citizenship, merely finds that now it’s recognizable and recognized. Thus, deflection may be unnecessary except for matters of how one’s history was actually lived. There’s the paperwork that will indicate the crossing, the change of citizenship. But, that remains for the most part private. One may share it of necessity in a security check. But, in her daily life there’s usually no need at all.

So, I consider my friend and other friends and acquaintances I’ve made through the years. I consider their struggles to assert themselves, the heartaches over build and bone, the struggles to convince themselves that a surgery or a letter on their permanent ID will somehow manage to make plain what should, I suspect, already be plain. They are natives.

I think with my friend that perhaps the surgery will delineate for her more than for those she knows or will move among after her crossing. It will be a joyous occasion, one for celebration. For that I congratulate her, warmly greet her arrival at the station where she’ll descend the train steps and look through the crowd for friends come to meet her.

But, I believe that all she can truly expect to find on that platform will be that she’s returned to the land of her birth. A place she’s dreamed of in the depths of her sleep and that she may well have despaired of ever reaching. She’ll have re-matriated herself. I also suspect that the re-matriation will have occurred long before there are sutures or surgeries. I imagine it came when she allowed herself to be who she is rather than someone who she’s not. Otherwise the surgery, the work at presentation, the confirmation of an exterior reality will never have been enough to make her truly whole except her interior landscape is the one she’s always known.

All those pretty sureties become rather vaguer and wispier. Maybe all the borders blur where you cannot tell when you pass from one country to another if there’s no wall, no fence. Perhaps that’s the truth that’s finally the most important truth of all in these transsexing journeys. One comes home and allows herself to take residence in the country of her birth.

Used by Permission.

 

You Aren’t Alone in That Tunnel

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A transwoman recently reached out to her newfound community, and the welcoming and loving responses were overwhelming. She was talking about the difficulties she is encountering in regards to being able to transition. She made the statement “So for me I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I see myself as having to remain male in a world that I should have been born female into.”


One member of our community responded with the following:

We saw each other at the meeting tonight, I believe, and I’ve come home to find this outpouring.

I’m Toni. It’s been a long road to get here, and earlier I was talking to someone during the meeting about how its really a lot like the whole tunnel deal.

It is a tunnel.  when you start out, the light is still at your back, and its comforting, and you can still see it and know that you can always turn around and run back.

You are, right now, still there.  Still at the opening really.

As you go on, it will get dark, and just before it gets dark, you will notice the railroad tracks leading into the darkness, and feel the ties beneath your feet, tripping you a little sometimes.  You’ll fall, scratch your palms or elbows or knees, too. IT will get so dark you can’t see anything, nothing behind you and nothing ahead of you.

You can see that part of it from where you are now, the light still at your back.

Its pretty damn scary.

And as you go along, you will enter that really scary part, and it will be too late to turn around without getting lost.  You’ll have gone too far to make it back.

And then, into that darkness, you’ll see a light come into being.

and the first thing that will cross your mind is “here’s the train”.

Then you’ll wait for it, and it’ll still be there.  And you’ll think, “oh, wait, no…

That’s the light at the end of the tunnel.”

And you’ll start to welcome it, this light in the darkness.

And then you’ll realize that it is indeed the train.

At that moment you’ll have a choice — to step aside and let it pass, to turn and run back, trying hard to get back to that comfy arrangement, or to stand there and let the train hit you.

I’ll be horribly blunt.  That train hurts like a son of a bitch when it hits you. IT will seem to cripple your soul, break your heart, shatter you sense of being.

It will take from you everything you love and cherish and need and want.

And it will leave you feeling mangled and bruised there in the dark, the rough stones around the ties in your wounds, the cold steel of the tracks against ya.

Then you can get up, dust yourself off, and walk a bit further, and then you will see the real light at the end of the tunnel.

And as you get closer to it, you will get back everything you lost — and then more and it will all be better — but all of it will be different as well. Not the same, but there nonetheless.

That’s transition.

And when you finally walk out of the tunnel — maybe after some surgery, maybe not.  This isn’t physical; this is spiritual, emotional — this is heart and mind and soul and spirit, not flesh and bone and blood.

When you walk out of it, you will find that the land isn’t milk and honey, but it sure as hell beats the grit and grime of the other side. And you will have, as I noted, more than you started with, if you can stop long enough to look around you and see it.

Transition isn’t about what *is*, or what *was*.  It is all about what *will be*.  The future is what matters — the end of that tunnel. Not the past, not the present. Not now, not then.

But you know what’s really great about transition?

You aren’t alone in that tunnel.

All of us are in it with you.

So pardon me while I wipe the dirt off my hand and reach it out to ya.

But ya look like you could use it 😀

Toni

Used with Permission. Author: Toni D

 

 

Overcoming Childhood Scars

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Certainly in the time & place I grew up — a southern state in the 1960’s and 1970’s. there was no support for transfolk whatsoever.  Even the gay and lesbian community was hidden away, in seedy bars subject to police raids, that you could only find by word of mouth.  I did find another gay person until age 24.  But without an adult understanding of gender identity, the budding queer community was confusing and no friend to transgender persons.


The abuse and the depression were horrific, though often too subtle to pinpoint. The loneliness and confusion.  No way to understand what you’re feeling or how to solve your dilemma, so repression became necessary just to survive.  Yet, repression is like navigating a mine field, because your differences get thrown back at you all the time.  I had a teacher tell me, while walking on my junior high school campus and minding my own business, “You’re not ‘walking like a young’ lady.”  The teacher insisted on showing me you how to properly walk in front of other students.  You protested weakly and said, “But my legs don’t go that way.”  So, then you’re embarrassed about how you walk.  You become very self-conscious.  Earlier, in grade school, I was told be another teacher, “Little girls sit with their legs together.”  My body became my enemy in betraying my transgender status, even as my mind could not comprehend the dynamics.  Now way to understand it, no way to hide from it.  Even the very best of childhood circumstances can’t help but leave their scars.

Adolescence was so very hard.  I was aware of being jealous of the boyfriends my best friends had at the time — not jealous because I wanted a boyfriend — jealous because I wanted to *be* a boyfriend.  It was all lost on me, until I developed a very close relationship with my best friend in 8th grade.  To the outside world, it looked like lesbianism.  We very innocently and joyfully went about holding hands. Nothing more than that ever transpired.   But I didn’t even know the word “lesbian.”  How surprised I was to receive my new identity by consensus of those around me!  How shocking to be taunted, “Don’t you know that’s not natural?”  How bizarre to be “outed” to the entire school — students, teachers, janitors, administrators.  And what help did I get?  Called into the office of the school psychologist and asked, “Is it true?”  Me denying it because I didn’t know what it was, and it was obviously VERY bad.  Then being ordered to stay 10 feet away from my best friend at all times — the destruction of a direly needed friendship at a critical time.  A trauma so significant that I attempted suicide three times in that painful era, all ignored, all unsuccessful merely because I didn’t know how to “do it right.”  If this pure love emanating from a young heart is wrong, then I knew I didn’t belong in *this* world.

Except for the feminist backlash against “being butch,” the simple-minded notion that I was just playing a role as opposed to being true to myself in the world, and the accusations of “joining the enemy,” it was easier to live as a lesbian, easier to repress the truth of gender identity.

But there comes a point when repression as a defense crumbles away, and the truth must be faced nose-to-nose.  When one first hears the word transsexual, there is both fear and relief.  Now I understand why I always wanted a crew cut and cowboy boots … but oh what a mountain stood before me!  My moment of recognition came when I was living in a major metropolitan area with many peer, social, educational, therapeutic, and medical resources available.  The sad reality is that I probably would not have transitioned and would not have survived in the southern state where I grew up.  I worry about my brothers and sisters who can only grasp straws there.

We need public awareness, greater services, an unbiased support for children who experience non-tradition gender identity.  Formative minds cannot grasp the significance of their feelings amidst the onslaught gendered messages from mainstream culture.  This is not frivolity.  Lives are at stake!!

Copyright 2009 by Terry K. Vanzetti

 

Would you walk in my shoes?

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As I prepared the day I went out with my new 3 1/2 wedge boots, they are absolutely precious, when I am in them I can not help looking down at my cute feet. I have to be careful, I need to waterproof them or they will get damaged.

This post isn’t about my beautiful exquisite collection of shoes, that will come another day. This is about the person who walks in them. My turmoils of everyday life fighting with fears and the unknowns as I have for 36 years.

 


I just posted a entry about the woman who asked me a question regarding the girl in me and it really hurt, something that I never think about because lets face it, what can I do that I am already doing. I am trying to correct the issue and I will, but like everything you want it takes time. I can not take a magic pill to erase all the male out of me, it will take time. The only magic patch I have is estrogen and every 8 weeks a booster shot to level my hormones out and keep me in tune.

A couple months ago another woman whom I worked with said to me “why change yourself, you are a very handsome man and you don’t walk like a woman”, why change myself hmm? I looked at her, smiled and said I’m not changing anything I am myself and besides dressed as a man would it look proper to have a swivel in my hips when I walk? I am like you, but having a male exterior I am different to you, learn to live with it and left it as that.

That to me is a hater or someone whom doesn’t understand what is in my mind, doesn’t she get it that is how it is, and if I could fix it maybe not, it is who I am.

If someone were to inquire what it is like to become me for one month, slip on a pair of my shoes and become Shauna, you will find it isn’t such a lovely way of life. You will get a cycle which many of my friends cringe at the thought of that. The constant changing of pads, the not so fresh feeling I get when it is that time. There the loneliness because lets face it, I wouldn’t put anyone through this whether we love each other or not. Everyday is a learning experience really, my emotions are tested as well as my sanity. There are looks and stares because they do not know how to address you and when they do sir doesn\\\’t fit. Imagine all your friends finding out that you have a little secret that not only will change your life but theirs as well, you are no longer the gender they perceived you were and that changes how they will act around you. All my male friends have a bond, it is special and I no longer am a part of that excluded from such things which I really miss.

When you are around my brothers it isn’t fun and games, they are uncomfortable knowing that their older brother was always their older sister. People will look at you, try to understand and shake their heads and ask you why, why are you that way?

Life is how you make it, mine is different but I relish the days that were good and learned from the days that were bad. I love living, with that said I live it to it’s fullest.

I will be legally on paper in 2009 as Shauna Elizabeth, that is such a welcome sight to me after all these years to be female on my records. *sniff*

Can I have my shoes returned please 😉

Copyright Dec. 21, 2009 Shauna Baggett

 

God’s Dilemma

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I just come out and say it “God has a dilemma”. He has a book written thousands of years ago called the Bible, which has been misinterpreted by millions of people resulting in grievous harm to innocents. It is not a unified work, rather it is a collection of writings , the inclusion of which were decided on by committee. There are many other writings by saints of the period and historical accounts that were not included in the Bible. For some reason, we are to believe that this most influential of books, is the infallible word of God. Really? God created the most important book of all time through a committee? God’s dilemma is that this book instead of helping the Christian understand the mind of God, it has caused untold suffering. How could the all powerful and creator of the Universe with all it’s perfection tolerate this book?

 


I lean toward the obvious conclusion, that He did not write it. Rather, it seems to me that what He desired was to have the story of Jesus written that recounted his teachings. The other teachings like the apostle Paul’s admonition to treat women in misogynistic fashion or his direction that wine be taken for medicinal purposes was added on as chaff not by divine inspiration. That’s right, chaff. If one takes the words of Jesus and follows his teachings, the believer has a very balanced view of the world and faith.

Jesus didn’t stand up and say “God Hates Fags” or the equivalent at the time. He didn’t call for the persecution of other believers. He did not speak against transsexuals and clearly were transsexuals present in his time and he must have known them. The Bible speaks about other instances where the transgendered are praised and are important people of faith. Peterson Toscano does a wonderful one man play that deals with the transgendered in scripture called “Transfigurations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible”. Yet, the Bible is now used to persecute transsexuals by distorting an old testament prohibition about men wearing women’s clothes. Deuteronomy 22:5 “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” The true meaning had nothing to do with crossdressing. And if we are to take that prohibition at face value, we also must take ALL the others. Like not eating pork, not working on Sunday, not wearing clothes made of two different fibers and the list goes on.

Amazingly, Jesus broke the laws and rules of the church, constantly. His followers were taught a common sense faith in God. He preached about what God was like. He could have spent his years on the planet, building an organization with a hierarchy and with documentations for rules of living in the form of a book but He didn’t. Consider this, Jesus could have written the Bible but He didn’t. Now some say that He did by inspiration of the writers that came after He ascended. But why “inspire” these men write the silly stuff or things that we clearly see as cultural at the time when it would cause such harm over the centuries. Surely, He knew what was coming and what the distortion of His word would and could do. So why did God allow such a tangled web called the Bible to be created? Why did He allow things in the book that go against his message of peace and love? Why didn’t He spell it out so that only one Christian sect was necessary? Personally, when I read the bible, I expect illumination not from the words but from His spirit that still exists. I don’t believe in the infallible nature of the Bible but I do believe that Jesus existed, died and rose again from the dead. I do believe that He exists in spirit today and that He communicates his love directly to those He chooses.

When I was a in my youth, the Bible kept me from becoming a Christian. It was only when I became interested in prophesy and the supernatural that I took another look. Even then I did not make an intellectual decision to become a Christian. No, I became a Christian because I came into contact with His spirit. It has been a non stop amusement park ride ever since and many many many times, I wished I could get off the ride. I have had circumstances that made me so angry at God that I would have nailed Jesus on the cross, personally. Yes, I admit it. I hated God for what he allowed to happen to my family and what he allowed to happen to me, namely that I am transsexual.

Now, I am upset because harm is coming my way at the hands of his followers. The “Religious Right” has targeted transgender people for their hate campaigns because we are an easy target and not completely supported by the LGB part of the LBGT community. These faithful Christian portray us as perverts or pedophiles. They incite people to attack and even kill us. This is a terrible evil, Jesus did not say, “Go out and cause harm in My name”.

So the situation is by all accounts, a dilemma, for sure. God’s message is being lost and ignored by those who can actually hear it. I am very angry that God, the creator of the universe has allowed such a twisted mess to become of His faith. Other religions seem to be far better organized and work much better for the well being of their believers. Sure, some of their followers are as twisted as today’s Christians.

Dear Lord, couldn’t you have done a better job than this? Your dilemma is mine too. My own church hates me for being a transsexual, something that I cannot change and that YOU gave me. I recall You telling me in an hour of need, “I don’t make mistakes.” If I truly am not a mistake, then I am worthy of respect and to be allowed to live my life without persecution. FIX IT!

Copyright 2009 M.K. Bengtson , Author of Dorothy\\\’s Boy

 

 

Stuck in Loneliness

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April 15th, 2009
By Monica F. Helms

Original blog found HERE

(This is the 3rd and final installment in the “Stuck in . . . ” series.)

We all know that loneliness does not limit itself to LGB or T people. This feeling probably strikes 100% of the human population at one time of another, many living in perpetual loneliness for most of their lives. A person can feel lonely because they have no one special in their life who loves them. Others can be lonely in a crowd of people who do love them. A majority of people don’t go out of their way to choose to be lonely, yet some do. But, loneliness goes out of its way to chooses us.


Even though the feeling of loneliness does not differ between LGBT people and straight people, the causes can be different. If we can believe the figures for the number of LGBT people in the population, between 5% and 10%, then that means that there would be far less LGBT people in the world to find your special someone from. Of course, bisexual people have more numbers to choose from, as do straight transgender people. If an LGBT person lives in a rural area, their chances become zero in many cases. However, numbers alone don’t keep people from feeling lonely.

Loneliness in the lesbian community is such a large issue that it generated a joke. When two lesbians fall in love, one quickly rents a U-Haul so they can move in together. It might seem funny, if it didn’t have its basis in reality. For gay men, you’ll find dozens of cruising bars in large cities to accommodate their need to cure loneliness, even if it’s for just one night. Everyone tries to cope the best they can, but loneliness keeps its own time.

I find the Religious Right’s obsession with gay people having sex is such a far fetch and ridiculous notion. I imagine that these people happen to be so sexually repressed and lonely that they can’t stand it when someone else enjoys themselves more than they do. But, the myth of gay people having sex all the time happens to be far different in reality, otherwise the term “bed death” would not have been coined and used in the LGBT community. Bed death happens to couples who have been together for a long time, but have long since stopped having sex. I can tell you from my previous experience as a straight married man, it happens to straight people as much as LGBT people.

In the LGBT community, loneliness causes a higher incident of smoking and drinking, since the “cure” for loneliness is supposed to be found in a bar, or so some think. When a person needs to conquer their loneliness for one night, they might have unprotected sex as the result, which will lead to many other problems. Some have even taken their own lives because of depression from loneliness. I guess with unprotected sex and suicide, we can easily say that loneliness kills.

I want to focus on what causes trans people to become stuck in loneliness. What I have seen and want to address has happened to some trans people, but not all of them. Some have a multitude of reasons to feel lonely. The biggest would be the stigma from society that we are somehow not “real” men or women.

Some straight women and some gay men may not want to date a trans man because he doesn’t have a penis, or at least not a functional one. Some straight men and some lesbians would not want to date a pre-op MtF because they still have a penis. And then, there are some straight men and lesbians who won’t date any transsexual woman, regardless of surgical status, because they still consider them men. The existence of a penis at birth is all that matters to them and the rest of that person’s life or personality doesn’t. One easily sees that when it comes to romance, many trans people can find themselves facing loneliness.

Loneliness comes in other forms for trans people. Being rejected by family members can be devastating to many trans people, but gay, lesbian and bisexual people also face this very same loneliness. I experienced it myself. It took seven and half years to become accepted by all of my family members, but my father had to die before that happened. Yet, I’m one of the lucky ones.

Other forms of rejection can cause loneliness, such as losing long-time friends after starting transition or coming out, which I also experienced. And, losing work friends and have others harass you at work, even though your company allowed you to keep your job. Yep, I had that happen, too. All of these made me feel lonely at one time or another, but I got over it. Sadly, others don’t.

Another cause for loneliness is not seen as loneliness by some trans people. Body dysphoria causes many to avoid intimacy until their body fits their mind. The feeling of an incongruent body becomes a real and viable reason for a trans person to remain alone. Some trans women even refuse to touch their penis, except with a wash cloth. Once they have surgery, for the most part, they become happier and end up with enjoyable love lives.

Other trans people never get over their loneliness, even after all of their surgeries. Some start transition thinking that life would magically become better after surgery, regardless of how many people told them differently. They spend all of their time and effort making sure they reach their goal that they had no time or energy left learning how to socialize in their new gender. I see this more in trans women then trans men.

Some of these trans women never learn the skills socializing as a woman and decide that being lonely is much easier than learning those skills. Some even become bitter and lash out at others, blaming them for their loneliness. Socializing with others takes the edge off of loneliness, but it may not fully remove it. I play in an all-women’s pool league to help take the edge off of my loneliness. It’s the highlight of my week, even if I lose. (But, I don’t like losing.)

Loneliness can be a debilitating feeling that causes depression, isolation and in some cases, death. I feel it is one of the least known human feelings, but one that therapist have spent a lot of time talking about. Loneliness hits every individual for different reasons and at different intensities. However, it can be conquered. Some cases, the “cure” takes a lot of work to overcome. If you are without friends, then an effort has to be made to bring new people in your life. If you just broke up with someone, then go through the grieving process, but keep hope alive. If your family has rejected you, then don’t cut off communications, or you can make a new family with close friends. No matter how loneliness has taken a hold of your heart, its grip can be broken. Time is usually the answer.

For me, I hold out hope that she is out there, waiting to pry the loneliness from my heart. I just know she’s there, waiting to prevent me from being stuck in loneliness.

The Thing, The Path, The Goal

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Upon a time a babe was born,
Of humble stock and collars worn,
As innocent as life could be,
Except for one anomaly.The norm that all expect to hear,
Was not pronounced to any ear.
A spank was heard, the silence torn,
Into this world a child was born.


The nurse and doctor did their best,
Inspecting and conducting tests.
The child was wrapped so none could see,
It’s indistinct morphology.But whispered thoughts and knowing looks,
Of karotypes discussed in books,
Did not escape the mother’s zone,
She saw their eyes and heard their tone.

“No matter what you say is wrong,
This child has filled my life with song,
Don’t hesitate but let me see,
The child God blessed and gave to me.”

More loving mother ne’r was seen,
Who cradled life with hope serene.
Madonna trusting God’s intent,
Her only child was heaven sent.

Some specialists were then convened,
Who painted quite a troubling scene,
“It must be done, you must decide,
What sex shall be and what we hide.”

But, mother asked, “How can this be,
To do this arbitrarily?”
“Which factor shall decide which one,
A pretty daughter or a son?”

“The surgery should be done now,”
But, mother stood her ground, and how.
“For even Solomon could miss,
“So, from now on my child is ‘Chris.’”

But, practical was Dad in this,
“What pronoun shall we use for Chris?”
“Your friends have planned a shower for you,
What gendered gifts should they pursue?”

“I guess we’ll dress him like the boys,
And let him make his choice of toys.
In time we’ll see with clarity,
If boy or girl his fate should be.”

The hospital decried their choice,
The social worker raised her voice,
“We have a blank that needs an ”X,”
This document determines sex.”

But mom and dad avoided this,
And made escape by night with Chris.
To satisfy bureaucracy,
A “boy” was “checked” by state decree.

The state decree the parent’s feared,
They pulled up stakes and disappeared.
Escaping further violence,
But what of all the innocents?

They settled in suburban space,
Sequestered in a quiet place.
Determined parents did their best,
So one day he could pass the test.

At school a mottled sheep was he,
Ambivalence so clear to see.
Conformity’s the un-writ rule,
If you stand out, kids can be cruel.

Some hated him for his fair looks,
intelligence, and skill with books
He sometimes brought out jealousy,
For his outstanding artistry.

So, Chris grew up, one fair of face,
Eclectic style, artistic grace,
A balanced strength within his core,
A mix of boy and girl next door.

Once at a wedding mom asked this,
“Which is your preference, tell me, Chris,
The honored groom or bride to be?”
“I’m both, so mother, let me be.”

His father was the patient one,
“No matter what, he is my son.”
His father said, “I’m proud of you.”
Now show the world what you can do.”

On many walks Chris took alone,
He pondered, could his life atone,
For all the fearful, troubled jerks,
Who sneered at him despite their quirks.

With sorrows etched upon his face,
He yearned to find a special place,
Where neither males nor females be,
Beyond this cold reality.

With bearded face and subtle gown,
Chris left his home and went to town,
He saw a church and entered in,
Unconscious of what they called sin.

The college pastor greeted him
He introduced himself as Jim.
Chris asked, “Who’s face is pictured there?”
“The Son of God, why do you stare?”

“I’ve never seen the face of God,
He looks familiar. Oh, how odd!
His face, uncanny, don’t you see!
Your Son of God looks just like me.”

For once Chris felt he’d found his place,
It had to be. Check out that face!
Androgynous, their God appeared,
With perfect skin, long hair, and beard.

“Come, eat with me, let’s have some lunch,
I’m leaving now and in a crunch.
But, we can talk o’er steaming plates
About God’s love and what awaits.”

Chris heard the gospel news that day,
Until he felt he had to pray,
Believing Christ would cleanse his heart,
Assured that God loved every part.

Chris joined the church in latter spring.
The choir director heard him sing.
“You’re perfect, wow, you must, I say,
Play Jesus in our Easter play.

With strength and grace Chris played the part,
With gentleness and sincere heart,
On Thursday night a school chum came,
Who knew the truth behind his name.

The childhood friend betrayed his trust,
He told the Pastor that he must
Remove this evil from their throng,
“For Chris to play the Christ is wrong.”

A nervous Pastor called his men,
They met by night long after ten,
“What devilment stirs up this place?”
“What is the truth about that face?”

They sent some men to summon Chris,
He wondered what had caused all this.
They said they had to question him,
A charge was made, but facts were slim.

They also gathered witnesses,
To judge the person’s fitness as,
Their church’s representative Of Christ,
who came so they might live.

Some stories just did not agree,
“Of course he’s male, we all can see.”
One claimed she saw a woman’s breasts,
Concealed beneath his state of dress.

The Pastor finally ended this,
Just tell us plainly, will you, Chris,
“Are you a woman or a man?
A female Christ is not God’s plan.”

Chris never lied about his frame,
His dress was modest, ever tame.
“I cannot lie, here is my oath,
Please understand that I am both.”

The men all roared and mocked in jest.
“Give us the proof, we want a test!”
So witnesses took Chris away,
Humiliating him that day.

When they returned Chris wore a robe,
Downcast his eyes, in pain like Job.
The Pastor said, “What say you, Chris”
But, silence was his word to this.

“Behold, the man, it’s as he said!”
“We wash our hands, it’s on his head.”
“He played the Christ. He mocked our God.”
“Expel the man, the queer, the fraud!”

“The Pastor said, “One chance we’ll give,
For grace to let you stay and live,
As long as you do as we say,
One chance we’ll give to you today.”

“It’s not your fault, we see that now,
But you must make amends somehow.
For it’s not right, to mock God’s norm,
You must decide your sex and form.”

But Chris said, “I was born this way,
Has God made you my judge today?
I’ve served God with integrity,
What sin is my morphology?

Chris asked them then, “Did not God say,
“Let us make man,” and on that day,
‘His image’ meant both sexes, true?
So, in that way I’m god-like too.”

“The Devil’s tongue, we can’t abide,
We know that Eve came from Man’s side.”
But Chris said, “Your own statement tells,
That inside Man both sexes dwell.”

“I can’t decide which sex to be,
How can I kill a part of me?”
If God allowed you arms of three,
Which arm would you cut off for me?”

“Don’t put this on our heads, right now,
If you’re God’s child you should know how,
To fix this strange anomaly,
And honor our authority.”

“Tomorrow morn give us your choice,
We’ll reconvene to hear your voice.
Don’t underestimate our clout,
If you don’t choose we’ll throw you out.”

That night Chris agonized alone,
Unsure for what he must atone,
“Is it for laws of sanctity,
I bear this cup unwillingly?”

As he knelt crying on the floor,
He heard soft knocking on his door.
Chris was surprised by Pastor Jim,
Who came to share and comfort him.

“Dear Chris in ways I envy you,
Your gender conflict’s clear to view.”
“One thing to you I want to say,
I’ve struggled years to find my way.”

“I’ve held a secret deep within,
I felt it was a mortal sin.”
“I’ve covered up a female me,
And acted ‘male’ for all to see.”

“Woah, Pastor Jim, I’m stunned by this.”
“That I could be dysphoric, Chris?\\\”
\\\”It’s not as rare as some might think,
Perhaps there’s some genetic link.”

“You know the church said I must choose,
Some part of me I’m s’pozed to lose.
But, if you’re honest, don’t you see,
In essence you’re a lot like me?”

“I see your point, I wish I could
reveal myself, I know I should,
but, I’m too old to walk that path,
and risk it all, and know their wrath.”

“Instead I’ve focused on my soul,
And done my part and played my role,
And some day in a better place,
He’ll fix us when we see His face.”

“But, are we broken, Pastor Jim,
Or special servants made by Him?
Is that the only place to be,
Is God’s grace not enough for me?”

The pastor could not answer this,
And said good night and prayed for Chris.
Chris thought of all that they had said,
It rolled around within his head.

It grieved his heart that he must choose,
A part of him he had to lose.
The final act he had to face,
To know God’s bliss in heaven’s space.

So, to the church with sign in hand,
Determined there to make his stand.
He nailed his sign upon a tree,
“I cannot choose,” so all could see.

He slashed his wrists where Christ had bled,
He cut his feet, and then he said,
“Forgive them God, they could not see.
My church, you have forsaken me.”

He died alone, his red blood shed,
His hope alive, his body dead.
Good Friday morn revealed this.
The women first discovered Chris.

The stories that were told that day,
Exposed the people’s hearts, they say.
“Our church, our play, dragged through the mud!”
“Our steps forever stained with blood!”

The media dug into this,
Revealed and resurrected Chris.
The truth was told for all to see,
An existential tragedy.

****
Disgusted? Angry? Pained by this?
Do you think saints can’t be like Chris?
If you knew Jim, what would you do?
Send him to sexaholics too?

You’ve great concern for sanctity,
But what of human dignity?
Respect the life of every soul.
For love’s the thing, the path, the goal.

Bren M. B. © 2004

Building Bridges Between Communities

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Recently, I have been invited to participate in an event, the goal of which is to build bridges between the GLB (gay/lesbian/bi) communities and the transgender community. I am very excited about this because even 40 years after the Stonewall riots, there continues to be a deep rift with a lot of bitter feelings on both sides.


It is true that the GLB experience is different to some extent from the trans experience. But for that matter the gay experience is different from the lesbian experience is different from the bi experience. Just as the trans experience is different from the intersex experience. The MTF experience is different from the FTM experience is different from the genderqueer experience. The pre-op experience is different from the post-op experience is different from the non-op experience.

We can continue to parse it down so small until we are left with my experience is different from your experience. Recognizing our different experiences, though, doesn’t mean we have to build walls, much less fiercely defend those walls, lobbing blame and shame and those not like “us”, whoever “us” happens to be. Xenophobia serves no useful purpose.

I am a member of a diverse group of women. Most are cisgendered, but a few of us are transwomen. We represent a wide range of cultures, races and ethnicities. There are straight women, gay women and bisexual women. Young and old, from all sorts of religious and spiritual backgrounds. There are those of us recovering from addiction and those of us who have never been addicted to anything.

We call ourselves the “Garden Club” because most gardens are comprised of a variety of plants. And who’s to say that your garden of petunias or oak trees is any better or worse than my garden of bell peppers or even a zen sand garden? It is the diversity of experiences and the sharing of these experiences that enriches all of us.

People sometimes assume that because I spent 26 years living as a male, that I experienced “male priviledge”. All I remember is years of being harrassed for being too feminine as a guy, for being small, for being open with my feelings. I was beaten up regularly, had my belongings stolen repeatedly and was not really a part of the “male experience”, whatever that is. Even my mother called me “pansy”. I wasn’t treated better than cisgirls. I was treated much worse. I have even been gang-raped.

I share this not to beg for pity (the wounds have long since healed), but to point out that just because someone grew up as a member of a certain gender or race or sexual orientation or religion doesn\\\’t mean that person had the same experiences as another person of the same group. In this way, labels serve only to mask the realities of experience.

Trans people are not the enemy. Lesbians are not the enemy. Gay men are not the enemy. African Americans are not the enemy. Feminists are not the enemy. The enemy, as I have stated so many times before, is hate. The enemy is ego. The enemy is fear. And if we want to conquer these enemies, we are going to have to start working together. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

And again I say that it is time we stop defending the walls that separate us and start building bridges over them. And that is exactly what this event seeks to accomplish for all of us. Stay tuned for details of this event. I have a feeling it is going to be spectacular.

Copyright 2009 Dharma Kelleher Blog

 

What Does Transition Mean to Me?

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What a huge question this really is. Its almost like asking someone if they believe in god. The answer is so much bigger and deeper than the question itself. The answer is almost certainly different for everyone. Yet whether one is M2F or F2M many similarities exist.


The simplest answer is: I get to live my life at peace with myself.

No longer do I have to struggle with the demons that haunted me for so long.
No longer do I have to second guess everything about myself.
No longer do I hide the beautiful work of art that is me under a deceptive veil.
No longer do I force myself and the world around me to believe that there is only black and white.
No longer do I have to live in fear of the world or myself.

Yes our lives are a series of successive and even parallel transitions from on moment to the next. It does not matter at all if you are trans or not. But for myself there is a deeper more profound transition that I must go through in order to live a full and wonderful life without lies and without barriers.

I truly believe that and know it is the ultimate truth for myself.

But mostly transitions to me means:
I can openly enjoy who I am every moment of every day. I get to enjoy a beautiful new and closer relationship with my mother. I get to make new and amazing friends, some of whom are like my very own sisters I never had. But meaning and feeling are hard to explain in words.

More importantly what transition means to me is what my transition has allowed me to do and be. I can help people now like I never could before. I am no longer crippled by self limitations. This gives me freedom to spread my wings and my caring to others. I can give so much more of myself to a world that seems to be struggling with crisis of identity. I have found love I can share with so many people. My expression of life is now like a vibrant painting that may never be complete yet is captivating in its unfinished state.

I can feel. I can cry. I can do anything my heart desires. I am strong and confident beyond anything I ever thought was possible. And I can honestly say my life is richer than I ever dreamed possible. Just look at the limited group of friends I have tagged in this note. There are dozens more of you.

How many people can say they have a family of friends near and far whose numbers are in the hundreds or greater and that if you were to meet them face to face for the very first time you know you would be welcome? And you know you would be for ever blessed by even the briefest of times together.

Transition to me means I get to enjoy a beautiful life with all of you in it, no matter how close or distant we are.

Author: Nichole Shannon      Website: NikkiDreams

 

Testimonials

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Real Stories – Real People

 

Thank you so much for opening your home to my Son/ Daughter [name withheld] and me today! Your warm welcome, smile, friendly faces and so much great information was greatly valued and cherished. I know that we will look back at this as being an instrument of catalyst as we begin the journey for my son. The friendly faces open hearts and more meant so much to both of us. I truly appreciate you’re having introduced us to Kelley as she was a wealth of information and experience, a perfect start for [name withheld] and myself.

From the bottom of my heart I thank you for it means so much knowing there is such a community for both of us for support and in turn, a community to offer support to as well!

From Father of a questioning/trans youth, AZ


I was referred to Transmentors at a very desperate time in my life. I exchanged a message or two with Michael Brown and he offered to meet me for coffee. Michael himself accompanied me to my first outing as Alyssa. Soon he had put me in touch with people in similar situations as me and now my life has expanded beyond my wildest dreams. I could never have done this on my own or found the wonderful friends that I have found without help from Transmentors. THANK YOU!!

Alyssa S., Phoenix, AZ


\\\"\\\"

I just wanted to thank you both for taking the time to meet with my group and I. I would like to start by saying how amazing and life changing this experience was for me especially. In all honestly I was not that interested in learning about this community, because I didn’t know there was anything to know about it except for my beliefs that people are free to be who ever they want to be whether it be straight, bisexual, gay or whatever it makes no difference to me as long as someone is happy and is a good person. I was very moved by your “life” stories, and I am so grateful to you both for educating me about Trans folks. I will always remember how much courage it takes for a Trans folks to walk out there in public with that fear always in your mind if you’re going to be discovered. Most of all it makes me happy that at the end of your struggles you find happiness within and that is what’s most important. I want you to know if one of your goals in life was to reach out to someone that could spread the word about how important it is to be open minded and understand Trans folks that is me. I am a Dental Assistant and I work with a really bunch of cool people. They are very supportive of my new career path so I always like share and talk about my experiences I have at school. I told everyone in my office about my group project and what a life changing experience I had from my interview with supporters of the Trans folk community. They were so intrigued to talk about the Trans community and wanted to know more so I did my very best to describe it from your words to my own. To my surprise most of my team was very supportive of Trans folks and they thought about the joy it must bring to ones life when you can truly be the person you desire to be. It made me very happy to talk about your experiences and I plan to do just that whenever opportunities exist. Anyway, Thank You again for educating me I am really happy I had the chance to meet some very amazing people! Thank you, Toni aka (Pretty Woman) and Michael a very (Manly Man) lol

 

Sincerely,
VT, Phoenix, AZ


TransMentors has made a huge impact on me as a post op female of over 30 years. I was contacted by a 19 year old pre op female and I am like a “Big Sister” to her. Being there for her has made her so hopeful, and I am surprised at how much I get out of Mentoring her. Sometimes we forget what we think as common knowlege is “mothers milk” to others. TransMentors is Amazing because it allows any and all questions to be answered in a supportive “Been There” sort of way for people all over the country and World.

Jennifer C., Los Angeles, CA


My life has been one of turmoil and pain and secrecy. I was raised in an abusive environment due to my transsexuality. I learned rather quickly that in order to at least be somewhat happy, I had to suppress it.

When I was 18, I made up my mind to transition, but had no idea how or where to start. I signed up with TransMentors International and thought that it would help. Well I noticed that I didn’t really know who to approach or how to approach them about it. I’d become a rather shy person.

That was when I met Regan.* Regan emailed me and told me she had seen me on TransMentors and would like to be my mentor. She was post-op, living a normal life and was willing to show me how to ‘live my dream.’ I gladly accepted the help and found that she and I became extremely close. She’s my big sister in Texas. I would recommend this site for anyone struggling with their transitions, or even just coping with the difficulties of daily life.

Victoria L. O’Brochlahan


To Whom It May Concern,,
I signed up to be a mentor at Trans Mentors International due to the feeling of “giving back” that I get when I can help someone else who is on this journey of gender affirmation.
To be able to lend an ear and share stories with some one who feels completely safe with you because they know that you are “in the life” also – it is tremendously powerful for both the person calling in for help and the mentor. We both grow.
I my self know the loneliness and agony of someone who is trans that comes from isolation and confusion. More than one time I was able to find the support to keep going through a mentor program such as Trans Mentors International.
I find Trans Mentors International to be an outstanding organizaiton, due to the great passion of Michael Brown and the professional set up of the whole system, from mentor training to referral process.
Sincerely,
Susan Collins MA
Founder
Girls, Guys, Ze’s Together

TransMentors has affected my life much like FTMMentors has…by bringing awareness to the transgender community. The resources and information given to me helps me to pass along that to others.

I firmly believe that advocacy is huge part of being accepted in a society that has long been hanging onto “this was what I was brought up believing” mentality.

I am working towards a BSW and then will work on my masters. My main goal is to help counselor, advocate and be a mentor within the transgender community.

This is my passion. Without the Transgender communities such as TransMentors, I\\\’d be lacking in areas such as local, state, and federal laws. I know where to go for information, that none of us are truly alone and that there is a very very large community out there waiting with open arms.

Sebastian

I figured out I was a boy before I was 4. I kept thinking somehow if I wished hard enough, prayed hard enough that I would wake up one morning fixed. It didn’t happen that way. Growing up I knew that it wasn’t going to be “okay” for me to tell my family. When I did, at 16, they disowned me. I was sent to a gender clinic in the mid 70’s where they tried their best to convince me I was a lesbian. Despite all this I persisted and began to live my life as the man I always knew I was. But I had learned from family, the reactions of friends, and the professional community that I really shouldn’t be talking about my experience with anyone. After all the years of making my way solo, I decided one Sunday in April 09 to go on line and just see what was out there in the FTM world. I stumbled upon transmentors. I was amazed that such a website existed and I nervously filled out the information to join (when you have been totally stealth for 30 years even filling out information on line is pretty intense). I thought a long time before I pushed the send button. What would it mean to have contact with anyone else who understood what my life has been like? When I got the email back from Michael, welcoming me and saying he hoped to get to know me better – I cried. I had no idea about the feelings I had been holding inside for all those years. There were other people in the world like me and all of a sudden I wasn’t alone anymore. As I read other people’s comments, and profile’s I started to really want to meet some other transpeople. I ended up hunting down a support group and although I was the only guy at the first one. I found myself brave enough to keep trying to reach out and look for other guys (some through transmentors, some showed up at the support meeting, some I started to befriend from other places on line). I ended up walking in the trans march in SF. Each step has introduced me to more transpeople, people who have such resiliency, passion and who endure such pain. They are people I am not only proud but privileged to now call friends. They are part of my life today, because on a lonely Sunday when I was feeling like I had no one else in the world like me -transmentors popped up on a search engine and let me know that I had never really been alone, just lost in the wilderness.

DB, San Fransisco


From a Parent’s Perspective

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(Author’s Note: Names have been changed for anonymity purposes)

 More and more I hear about transgender people who have been abandoned by their families, and I just don’t understand it.

Our child was so loved from birth on, and just because Mother Nature chose a different route and gender for this child I can not imagine giving up on Sarah.


When I think of the struggles Sarah must have gone through all those years until coming out, I feel sad, as does my husband Sam. Sarah was his namesake and our oldest son and so it was most difficult to realize that she had been in a struggle for 40+ years and it hard to grasp transgender at first. We always sensed (his) anger and frustration but never knew why.

He is an artist and we blamed right brained-ness, I guess. I still remember the Sunday afternoon Sarah told me over the phone, and I guess at first I just was dumbfounded, but already thinking she was going to tell me she was gay, as she had said earlier in a letter she had something to tell us. I was prepared for that.

Yes, it took awhile to sink in what she was really telling me, but being the bright, intelligent, smart, artistic, good looking and loving son that he was I did not think he had told us the SECRET unless he was sure. No one in his right mind would choose this difficult path, is what we thought.

It has been an eye opening experience for all of us in the family for sure, but we all accepted the decision our son made to become who she was supposed to be. A family letter went out to all, and that was the hardest thing I have ever had to write. My 95 yr. old active Mother was most upset because she was not told “The Secret” until much later. We had kept it from her as Sarah had been her favorite grandson. My sister said “No, do not tell her”. But I did eventually and so she was angry because we kept it from her. She said ” I know all about transgender as I have seen it on Oprah” . Imagine that??????

In the world we live in, everyone wants to fit in and be like everyone else. If at all someone is different due to sex change, gayness, color or whatever ……this person does not fit in. They are not welcomed in normal society, whatever that is. Fear and ignorance are the biggest factors in all of this, and let\\\’s add embarrassment too.

 I am glad that Sarah has found a life with wonderful friends and a family. I think she is happy and full of life and awe and ready to give to the world.

Supportive Parents of “Sarah”, August 2009

Campus Action Plan

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NOTE FROM MICHAEL TO BOARD

STATUS: This was a Program that was proposed by Mae (now Mason) Dunn. It was not put into action at the time. The current status is “pending discussion”. 

SUMMARY: TMII would become involved in educational institutions.

MY THOUGHTS: I’d like to discuss this as a Board.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]


TransMentors International, Inc.
Campus Action Plan – DRAFT
Developed by M. Mae Dunn, 2009
I. Policy Issues:
a. Non-Discrimination Policy Language
b. Implementing a Trans-Friendly Policy
c. GLBT student organizations.
II. The three “A’s”: Applications/Admissions/Administration
a. Gender: “Male or Female”
b. Physical/Mental Health Issues
c. Restrooms
d. What does a Trans-Friendly form look like, and why does it matter?
III. Educating
a. How to train your faculty and administration?
b. How to educate your students in Trans identities?
c. And what about the parents?
IV. Other things to consider
a. The diversity of gender identities
b. Why does this matter?
c. Speakers index: You don’t have to do this alone.
d. Glossary of terms

Mae emailed the Board on 09/03/2009 with the following…. (The above is the current result of her Outline as of late September.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about this: get outa my head! Here’s my thought – I feel as though the GSA’s in different schools are the key to getting in there. In my lecturing I’ve done some speaking for GSA’s in various high schools in the area and left my TMII card with them. Also, if you’re in a really trans friendly area, you might try approaching the health classes. OK I’m gonna organize this a little better. Here we go:

1. GSA’s – Yeah, ok I don’t much care for the name (although I started a GSA that was the Gender and Sexual Diversity Alliance), but they typically consider themselves Trans-accepting. This is usually only in high schools, but they apply in colleges as well. I usually either approach the faculty advisor (for high schools), or the student in charge (for colleges). It might behoove us to start this kind of reach out before and in honor of the Trans Day of Remembrance. That gives schools a good launching point for a Trans-education campaign.

2. Health Classes – This applies to both univerisites and high schools. It will totally depend on the teacher/professor, but many schools these days do a segment on GLBTI health. They usualyl only talk about the GLB aspect, and very little T, which needs to change. Start with schools in your area, and the teachers will spread the word on this.

3. Our Whole Lives – I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this program, but it’s done through the UU Church and it’s targeted towards middle school kids. I’ve done a panel for this program several times, and it’s a great way to get information out.

4. PFLAG – I know you’re familiar with PFLAG, so I won’t get into that, but they are always looking for speakers. Whenever I speak for PFLAG I always mention TMII and bring brochures with me. I usually leave a brochure or two with someone in charge, and give them out to anyone who asks for one.

5. Gender classes (Colleges) – I literally did this, and know it works. Look at colleges in your area and find their list of classes. See if they have a gender class (sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc). Then I email the professors, and explain that I’m a lecturer for gender diversity and, I’m not sure if they go into Trans identities, but if they are interested in a Trans speaker coming to thier class I would be more than happy. I’ve gotten SEVERAL lecture gigs from this method. Yeah, it’s kinda in your face and whatnot, but it totally works.

6. Resource Centers (Colleges) – Some schools have GLBTIQ resource centers. Ask if you can give them brochures for their resource center. Small, but it works.

[Back to Main Update 08/24/2015]

Podcast 09/17/2009 – Allyson Robinson & Abigail Jensen on NathanOUTloud.com

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Podcast 09/17/2009 – Allyson Robinson & Abigail Jensen on NathanOUTloud.com

Allyson Robinson (HRC) and Abigail Jensen, Attorney at Law, and TMII speak about TransForm Arizona on NathanOUTloud.com, Podcast #9. Source HERE .

 

In episode 9 of Nathan OUTloud, I interview Abigail Jensen and Allyson Robinson about the upcoming TransForm Arizona Conference. I also play a song by Joe Stevens of Coyote Grace.

 

Podcast 10/2009 – Trans-Ponder 141 – Arizona is now TransFormed

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Podcast 10/2009 – Trans-Ponder 141 – Arizona is now TransFormed

Original Source HERE.

Trans-Ponder 141 – Arizona is now Transformed

In Episode 141 – In this Uncensored Episode 141… we give the low down on Transform AZ, complete with the exclusive cut of the Ballad of Marvin Blume, with Joe of Coyote Grace, words were written by Nina Mandel & Peterson Toscano.?

SEE REST OF ARTICLE AND HEAR THE PODCAST HERE:

http://trans-ponder.com/transponderblog/?p=400

Podcast-09/2009 TransFM.org – Abigail Jensen

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TransFM Podcast-09/2009 TransFM.org – Abigail Jensen

TransFM: Broadcast network focusing on Transgender and gender issues within the Queer community and beyond.

Here Ethan St. Pierre as he interviews Abigail Jensen, Attorney in Prescott, Arizona, and member of the Board of Directors of TransMentors International.

LISTEN HERE

Examiner.com – TransMentors International – An interview with Michael Brown

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Published originally on February 15, 2010 in the Examiner.com HERE.

Trans people throughout the world who need help, support, resources, or just a friendly voice on the phone or online have an organization they can turn to — TransMentors International: Connecting Trans Identities Locally & Globally. The founder and executive director of TransMentors International, Michael Brown, talks about the organization, why it’s needed, and how you can get help.

What is TransMentors International and how and why did you start it?

TransMentors International is a non-profit organization that provides aid, support and assistance to trans-identified men, women, and youth in their day-to-day lives. Our primary focus will always be on the needs and concerns of the individual.

We all needed answers and support when we began our transitions. Some of us were fortunate to have a close friend who had transitioned and we went to them for advice and support. The majority of us only had the Internet. While the information is out there to be found, it’s not the same as having someone in our own area who we can turn to for support.

Having gone through my own transition without a trans friend for support, I realized the need was shared by many. I wanted to fill that need, so I created a safe, secure Web site for transmen to find each other locally, and there hasn’t been a day since the beginning that someone isn’t signing up. The organization continued to grow and began providing support for transwomen and loved ones of trans-identified people on their own Web sites. We now have Web site members from 32 countries, people in all stages of transition, giving support and finding support, many times in their own backyards, so to speak, which is the ultimate goal of the Web sites.

What are the programs that you provide?

The organization has since expanded its services to provide offline assistance as well as online support. We provide resources referrals, emergency assistance (such as clothing, food, personal items), safe housing, phone mentoring, faith support, and other forms of support as the needs come up in the daily lives of trans men, women, and youth. We provide e-mail and instant messaging support, as well as a toll-free phone number.

We also provide educational workshops and events geared towards raising awareness of the issues of the transgender community. Our TransForm Community events are scheduled in various cities in order to educate the LGB community and the public on who we are — that we’re more than just the trailing “T” in the acronym LGBT. We believe that, in offering these affordable-to-attend events to communities, we are pursuing our goal of changing one heart and one mind at a time, and effecting a positive change in the future for the acceptance of trans-identified people.

Our organization is entirely run by volunteers, and there are no paid positions. We rely on donations for our monthly expenses. When the donations aren’t enough to cover them, we pay out of our own pockets.

What are the most frequent types of contacts that you get? Is there one need that stands out above all others?

We receive requests asking for resources, legal questions (usually to do with legal documents and gender markers), needs for safe housing, and mentoring support, among other things. Many contact us when they are deep in depression, lost and feeling alone. We hear their stories of their families disowning them, or their experience with hate or violence against them, or the loss of their employment and the struggling of finances, and all sorts of other life situations. Some want advice on coming out to their family, or to their employer, while others need to find a supportive trans-friendly therapist or doctor near them.

Do you get a lot of contacts from trans people outside of the United States? What differences do you see between various cultures or countries in the types of help requested or conditions for trans people? Are there differences even within various regions of the U.S.?

We do get requests from people outside of the U.S., usually for finding local country support and/or mentoring. When we are unable to provide sufficient resources in their area, we provide the “listening ear” or “shoulder to lean on,” so to speak, so they know that someone cares and is really listening to them. For example, I spent several months in online chat with one young transman in the UK who was unable to transition due to his parent’s not allowing it. At one point, I didn’t hear from him for about three weeks, and there was nothing I could do but wait. Once he came back online, he shared that he had been in the hospital, a failed suicide attempt.

Unfortunately, without a local support system, many trans people get to the point of contemplating and/or attempting suicide, because it’s so difficult to handle alone. Another person I communicate regularly with is a transwoman in Iran, who due to the laws of her country, and the concern of being jailed or killed, still lives and presents as a male. With no money to leave her country, and no means of financial support even if she could leave, she’s in a situation that’s all too common for trans men and women in many countries. Sometimes she just needs to chat and know that she’s OK and someone cares.

Most of the stories are the same, regardless of country or region — valid fears of coming out, facing and/or experiencing various types of loss, severe depression from being unable to live authentically. It’s the stories of trans men, women, and youth needing to begin or continue through their transition and needing to know they’re OK, and that someone understands.

We’re seeing some new laws here and there around the country that include discrimination protections for trans people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Does this signal increasing acceptance on a community level? Is it easier for trans people to come out now and be accepted?

Coming out as trans is generally difficult for the majority of trans people. Period. On the positive side, there is more information available, there are more medical resources available, and there is a lot of information on the Internet for those coming out compared to those who came out 10+ years ago.

Acceptance, however, by community, church, and family is not much different than it’s always been — minimal acceptance and understanding.

Laws are slowly being changed, but not nearly enough to provide any real sense of security for trans people coming out at their jobs, in their churches, etc. The fear of losing their job, or their loved ones, is still a very real fear for most beginning their transitions. Discrimination still exists, and hate crimes against the trans community are still happening. Just look at the Transgender Day of Remembrance Web site and you’ll see the stories of very real people who are no longer with us because of hate and ignorance.

With all the information and contacts available for trans people on the Internet, and with some laws changing in our favor, why is an organization like TransMentors still needed?

Again, there is still so much discrimination in the world, and with the very real fears of losing every single thing we have, or have worked for, losing our families and our friends, our jobs, we are still facing being “alone” in our transition journeys. TransMentors International provides the means and opportunity for all trans men, women, and youth to find support and encouragement and them know they are not alone, and someone cares.

What we believe makes TransMentors International different than other organizations is that every single person who works with us has a passion for supporting the trans community in their daily personal transition journeys, and we are all willing to give our time to, and listen to, those who need to know they aren’t alone. Our sole purpose is to help make day-to-day lives of trans people easier through mentoring, supporting, and education. And we all do it without a paycheck.

What are your future goals for the organization?

We’re working towards providing a 365/24/7 toll-free telephone support line in the coming months, for people needing someone to talk to immediately, rather than waiting for a return call from a Mentor. We are constantly adding to our database of resources, and hope to establish a full network of safe housing providers, as well as those individuals, groups, and organizations who help provide clothing, food, and personal supplies specifically to the trans community.

We’ve also been working on our Campus Action Plan, tentatively scheduled to take effect in the fall of 2010. Essentially, it is a program designed to work with educational institutions (high schools, colleges, and universities) and provide necessary educational materials, workshops, and mentors to, and on behalf of, trans-identified students.

We’ll continue to support the trans community with any personal needs that come up. Every individual has their own needs and circumstances. If we can find a way to fulfill the need, we will.

What else would you like to say?

All of us started at the beginning. Whether we were 5, or 25, or 45 before we put two and two together and realized our gender identities weren’t meshing with our physical bodies, we all came to the point in our lives where we knew we had to take that first step into our journey of transition. For some, it happened without much incident or fanfare, but for the majority of us, it was a huge, major decision and it was a hard first (and second and beyond) step. Many of us know what it’s like to go through it alone, and there’s many of us who want to be there to support those just starting out so they don’t have to go through it alone.

Thank you for the opportunity to share about our organization and what we do. I suppose to sum up what we’re all about, I’ll say this:

Being there for each other. Lending a shoulder or an ear. Giving a hug or a smile, even virtual ones, to let other trans men, women, and youth know we care. Passing it on and paying it forward. These are the things that make TransMentors International a necessity in our community.

TransFM News Excerpt (Feb 28, 2010) by Susan Collins

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TransFM: Broadcast network focusing on Transgender and gender issues within the Queer community and beyond.

Here is an excerpt of the Community News by Susan Collins, February 28, 2010. Susan is actively involved in advocacy and activism for the trans community. She is also the former Community Outreach Coordinator for TransMentors International.

LISTEN HERE

H.O.P.E. House History

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H.O.P.E. House (a Trans Safe House from 2008-2012)
Phoenix, Arizona

H.O.P.E. House (Healing, Opportunity, Promise, Empowerment) was the first known Trans Safe House established in Phoenix, Arizona, providing a safe home, and also transitional housing to trans men and women needing a safe place to live. H.O.P.E. House is not a Recovery House or Sober-Living house.

H.O.P.E. House was conceived by Michael and Lillian Brown in 2008 when they recognized the need for a Safe House for trans men and women. There are those in crisis, homeless (or soon to be), abusive situations, others who move into the state to begin, or continue, their transition, others are hurting financially due to job discrimination, loss of employment, evictions, etc. No one who needs a safe place to stay will ever be turned away due to lack of money.

H.O.P.E. House took in its first transperson who had nowhere to spend the night in October 2008. The “House” at that time was simply a one-bedroom apartment with a couch for the guest.

Over the years, the need for H.O.P.E. House grew rapidly as the needs were realized. The “House” was moved first to a two-bedroom apartment, then to a four bedroom house in June 2009. In September 2010, Michael and Lillian purchased a large 5 bedroom home and immediately added two more bedrooms, making a total of 7 bedrooms, to accommodate the growing need for safe housing in the trans community.

Since it’s inception, H.O.P.E. House served over 3711 bed nights through March 21, 2012. The House comfortably accommodated 8-10 Residents as well as the homeowners, (in private and semi-private rooms) and there were an additional two beds in the form of sleeper sofas when there was a need, as well as extra couches if, and when, needed.

There was a private swimming pool, large fenced-in yard and patio, pool table, darts, ping pong, and horseshoes, as well as big screen TV’s, and wireless internet with a House computer for job hunting and research available to all the residents.

H.O.P.E. House provided a customized experience for each Resident, providing temporary Work Exchange for those who were unemployed, as well as assistance with therapists who worked with H.O.P.E. House Residents, social services referrals, and mentoring. Classes, workshops, groups and meetings, as well as a Job Search Plan of Action, were all a part of the Program at H.O.P.E. House.

H.O.P.E. House was largely funded by Michael & Lillian, except for occasional donations.

H.O.P.E. House closed September, 2012. There were several factors involved in the decision to close the home, but it was not an easy decision. Michael’s and Lillian’s hearts will always be with H.O.P.E. House and the people they were able to help.

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The homelessness situation in the trans community all over the U.S. needs addressed. Please consider opening your home to someone in our community who needs a safe place to live.

Advocate.com Article: HOPE for Homeless Trans People

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Providing HOPE for Homeless Trans People
Original Source HERE

Providing H.O.P.E. for Homeless Trans People

December 12, 2011 by Matt Kailey

\\\\\\\"photoIf you’re looking for a way to make a difference this holiday season, you don’t have to look any further than H.O.P.E. House, a safe house and transitional living home for trans people.

Located in Phoenix, Arizona, and run by Michael Brown, founder of TransMentors International, and his wife, Lillian, H.O.P.E. House serves trans people in a variety of ways while providing them with a safe place to stay as they work toward getting back on their feet. Consider a tax-deductible donation of any amount, or, if you live in the area, spend a few hours as a volunteer. To find out more, read on:

Matt Kailey: Can you please describe the purpose and mission of H.O.P.E. House?
Michael Brown: H.O.P.E. House is a Trans Safe House and Transitional Living Home. H.O.P.E. House provides a safe place for trans men, women and youth (18+) to live, instead of someone’s couch, or worse, the street, because of the discrimination and hate they have experienced in their lives. Many arrive with only a few clothes, and even fewer basic personal supplies, and many arrive so emotionally beaten down and exhausted that they are simply “existing.” They need a helping hand up, and that’s what H.O.P.E. House offers. Residents find clothing, personal basic items, food, a furnished room, and much more when they arrive. During their stay at the House, residents learn (or relearn) responsibilities, structure and organization, job hunting skills, budgeting, social skills, computer skills, and much more, all of which helps them succeed once they are ready to leave the House.

MK: How did it come to be?
MB: H.O.P.E. House “happened” after taking in an 18-year-old trans boy kicked out of his parents’ home. We quickly saw and realized the sheer number of trans men and women who found themselves in crisis, homeless (or soon to be), abusive situations, hurting financially due to job discrimination, loss of employment, evictions, etc., and others who were moving into the state to begin, or continue, their transition. We recognized the need for them to have a safe place to call “home” where they can get back on their feet again and move forward in their life’s journeys, so we opened our private home to them as a way we could help.

MK: How many and what types of people have you served so far?
MB: We count the number of “bed nights,” much like a shelter system keeps track. In other words, the number of nights a bed has been occupied in a specific amount of time. We started with a one-bedroom apartment, and worked our way up to our current home, which is a seven-bedroom, 3.5 bath home purchased in 2010. Since H.O.P.E. House first took in the 18-year-old trans boy in October 2008, the number of bed nights has been about 3,100 now in December of 2011. Some stay a night or two, others a week or a month. Our longest-staying residents were eight to nine months. We’ve had all ages from 18 to 60 (more younger than older), and they’ve come from a variety of backgrounds and situations – some literally from right off the street, others from abusive or hostile circumstance, and still others from their own apartment or roommate situation that just wasn’t working out for them.

MK: Why do we need a place like H.O.P.E. House?
MB: Again, as I said earlier, trans people experience discrimination, hate, and loss of family and friends. They lose jobs and their homes, and they lose any security and safety simply because of who they are, and for the fact that they choose to live authentically in their affirmed gender. According to the latest comprehensive trans survey, one out of five trans people is, or has been, homeless at some point. I personally believe it’s a much higher percentage than this, but then, a survey is only as good as the number of, and honesty of, its participants.

So, in answer to your question, why do we need a place like H.O.P.E. House? Because if there wasn’t a H.O.P.E. House, what would happen to these men and women? Where would they go? How would they survive? Would they be just another “statistic,” or worse, would their names show up on the Transgender Day of Remembrance website in the coming months or years? We need a H.O.P.E. House in every city, every state, and every country. Because someone has to be here for the people who are hurting.

MK: What can the community do to help this program succeed?
MB: There’s several things we could use help with, financial help being first and foremost. Most of everything we do at H.O.P.E. House is out of our personal wallets. From the moment someone arrives, we help with food, clothing, personal supplies, bus passes and phones for job hunting, and more. Many times, we’ve bought a Greyhound ticket to get someone here, as we have residents coming from several different states. We furnish everything, including beds, linens, soaps, paper products, Internet and more. All donations are tax-deductible through TransMentors International, Inc., and ALL donations go directly to providing necessary items for the residents.

We can also use donations of bulk purchase items like paper towels, toilet paper, hand soaps, coffee, etc., as well as blankets, pillows, umbrellas, gift cards, and used cell phones that we can activate on our personal plan for resident use. Also, something as simple as using my phone number when shopping for groceries at Fry’s, for the 10 cent discount on gasoline that would help us for running the errands necessary to run the House, as so much of our own cash goes to the residents’ needs.

Lastly, we need people to volunteer to spend time with our residents, teach a class or a skill. Whether it’s beauty tips for women, or how to fix a car for the guys, or teach a healthy eating class or a meditation group. Come over and watch a movie with them on the big screen, or take them to a local park or museum. Come to the Friday night Tiki Nights or the Sunday Genderific groups, and participate and learn with them while having fun and socializing with everyone who shows up. Our residents need to know someone cares.

MK: What else would you like to say?
MB: Anyone can keep up to date with everything we’re doing on our Facebook group page.

(Photo: Michael and Lillian Brown)

 

Press Release 04/21/2012 – Announcing “Just Evelyn” Newest Board Member

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TRANSMENTORS INTERNATIONAL, INC. (TMII)

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Michael Brown
Email:   michaelb@transmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1:00P.M. MST, May 26, 2011

ANNOUNCING NEW MEMBER ON BOARD OF DIRECTORS

PHOENIX, AZ April 21, 2012: Today TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals, announced the newest addition to its Board of Directors, “Just Evelyn”.

“Just Evelyn” became an author out of necessity in the early 2000s because there was no information on how to help her 15 year old son become a girl, and was one of the first parents to bring transgender youth to the public eye.

She has been an activist with PFLAG, and ran a support transgender/crossdresser group for ten years in San Diego, Ca. She was also an a electrologist for ten years helping many beginning transgender people start their journey. “Just Evelyn” has enjoyed public speaking in colleges and conferences educating on transgender issues and awareness.

“We are very excited to have “Just Evelyn” on our Board of Directors. She has given much to our community, and we feel confident she will continue to inspire the greater trans community through TransMentors International,” said TMII Executive Director Michael Brown.

TransMentors International, Inc. is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides aid, support and assistance to trans-identified individuals, including online discussion forums, personal mentoring, emergency housing assistance and health, faith and other resource referrals. More details can be found at www.TransMentors.org or by calling (877) 366-3888.

Archives: 05/26/11 – Press Release Announcing Patrick Callahan Newest Board Member

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TRANSMENTORS INTERNATIONAL, INC. (TMII)

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Michael Brown
Email:   michaelb@transmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1:00P.M. MST, May 26, 2011

ANNOUNCING NEW MEMBER ON BOARD OF DIRECTORS

PHOENIX, AZ MAY 26, 2011: Today TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals, announced the newest addition to its Board of Directors, Patrick Callahan.

Patrick is a FTM transsexual, married, and self-employed as a consultant for the 7-Point Star Group. Additionally, he is a Public Information Officer, Public Speaker/Presenter, and a Director on the Board of Directors for TCOPS International, Inc. (The Transgender Community of Police and Sheriffs).

Patrick is a former U.S. Marine, and holds a B. A. degree in Philosophy from Michigan State University, a Masters degree in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania, and several lesser degrees covering topics that include Fire Science Technology, Emergency Medicine, and Biology.

“We on the Board at TransMentors are excited to include Patrick, who has proven his ability to make a positive impact in our community,” said TMII Executive Director Michael Brown, “We look forward to working with him”.

TransMentors International, Inc. is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides aid, support and assistance to trans-identified individuals, including online discussion forums, personal mentoring, emergency housing assistance and health, faith and other resource referrals. More details can be found at www.TransMentors.org or by calling (877) 366-3888.

Archives: Press Release 02/15/2011 – Announcing Zander Keig and Susan Collins

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TRANSMENTORS INTERNATIONAL, INC. (TMII)

Press Release

Contact: Michael Brown
Email:   michaelb@transmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
3:00P.M. MST, Feb. 15, 2011

ANNOUNCING NEW MEMBERS ON BOARD OF DIRECTORS

PHOENIX, AZ FEBRUARY 15, 2011: Today TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals, announced the newest additions to its Board of Directors, Susan A. Collins, and Zander Keig.

Zander Keig, a happily married transsexual man, is a full time MSW student at San Diego State University and a social work intern at Jewish Family Service of San Diego. He has been engaged in community development, organizing, mentoring and education on LGBT topics since 1987. Recently, Zander co-edited Letters For My Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect, a collection of stories written by 24 transsexual men about their transition journeys.

Susan A. Collins has a clinical degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College. Sue has served as coordinator of the Mazzoni Center\\\\\\\’s Trans Health Program, on the Philadelphia Mayor\\\\\\\’s Task Force on Homeless Services and Sexual / Gender Minorities, the Philadelphia Task force on Sexual Abuse, and the Planning Committee for the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference for three years, one as in-coming Executive Chair Person. She also produces a weekly news show for the TransFM online radio program.

“We on the Board at TransMentors are excited to include Zander and Susan, who have each proven their ability to make a positive impact in our community,” said TMII Executive Director Michael Brown, “I look forward to working with both of them”.

TransMentors International, Inc. is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides aid, support and assistance to trans-identified individuals, including online discussion forums, personal mentoring, emergency housing assistance and health, faith and other resource referrals. More details can be found at www.TransMentors.org or by calling (877) 366-3888.

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Archives: Press Release 11/23/2009 – Announcement of New Board Member – Edward Vanlue

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Transmentors international, INC. (TMII)

Press Release
Contact: Michael Brown
Email: michaelb@transmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1:30 P.M. MST, November 23, 2009

Announcement of New Board Member – Edward Vanlue
PHOENIX
NOVEMBER 23, 2009

TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals, announces the newest addition to its Board of Directors, Edward Vanlue.

Edward has a professional background in Human Resource Relationships, as well as 20 years in accounting and administration offices, as well as prior non-profit volunteer and Board experience. Ed has also been serving as the organization’s Treasurer, since earlier this year.

TransMentors International is excited to welcome Edward on the Board of Directors.

———————

TransMentors International, Inc. is committed to the health and well-being of all members of our diverse community. We dedicate ourselves to providing an array of information services, educational materials, advocacy training, as well as assistance with housing, health, faith, and employment needs. More details about the organization can be found at http://www.TransMentors.org.

Archives: Press Release – 09/01/2009 -TransForm Arizona

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EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT

DATE:  October 16th-18th, 2009

EVENT: TRANSFORM ARIZONA

LOCATION: UUCP, Paradise Valley, AZ

WEBSITE: http://transform.transmentors.org

CONTACT:  transformaz@transmentors.org

TransMentors International (TMII, pronounced “Timmy”) is a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals. The mission is to raise awareness and effect a positive change in issues which are specific to the Trans community. We address issues such as personal transition support, housing, employment and faith support. You can learn more about what we do by visiting our main website at http://www.transmentors.org.

The purpose of this conference is to educate and raise awareness within the LGB community and the public on Transgender people.

This event will include speakers, entertainment and workshops. The workshops will cover a wide range of topics, from faith-based support, mentoring, legal issues, health concerns, etc.

We have world renowned performance artist Peterson Toscano, known for his stage performances in New York, London, Los Angeles and more dealing with various issues in LGBT lives. We have Allyson Robinson of the HRC and Donna Rose, former board member of the HRC speaking, as well as the President of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, Dr. Becky Allison, doing a presentation.

Saturday Dinner Guest Speaker will be Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema.

Local leaders in the Trans Community will be there as well, providing connections and showing how the four distinct letters of the LGBT soup all are interdependent and connected, and how using the trans experience can further the rights of us all.

Registration is necessary. See website for all details and to register.

Peterson Toscano’s performances are free to the public.

Archives: Press Release 07/17/09 – Announcing Newest Board Member – Ethan St. Pierre

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TRANSMENTORS INTERNATIONAL, INC (TMII)

PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Michael Brown
Email: michaelb@tansmentors.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
9:00 A.M. MST, July 17, 2009

ANNOUNCING NEW MEMBER ON BOARD OF DIRECTORS

PHOENIX, AZ JULY 17, 2009: Today TransMentors International, Inc., (TMII) a non-profit organization which provides aid, support and assistance to Trans-identified individuals, announced the newest addition to its Board of Directors, Ethan St. Pierre.

Ethan is the founder and creator of the TransFM internet broadcasting network, board member of the International Foundation for Gender Education, and serves on several other non-profit boards. Ethan has spent over 10 years serving in advocacy and activism for the trans-identified community. He also works with the Remembering Our Dead project, updating the statistics, listing those we have lost due to anti-transgender bias.

Ethan brings his knowledge and vast experience in communication, advocacy and support to the trans-identified community, and TransMentors International is honored he has joined the Board of Directors.

“We on the Board at TransMentors are excited to include Ethan, who has proven his ability to make a positive impact in our community,” said TMII Executive Director Michael Brown, “I look forward to working with him”.

TransMentors International, Inc. is committed to the health and well-being of all members of our diverse community. We dedicate ourselves to providing an array of information services, educational materials, advocacy training, as well as assistance with housing, health, faith, and employment needs. More details about the organization can be found at www.TransMentors.org.

 

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