Tuesday, 16 March 2010

52 Not Out

I was born on this day, 52 years ago. March 16, 1958. I was conceived before the first man-made object was put into orbit, and less than 13 years after the first atomic bombs were used on Hiroshima an Nagasaki, ending the Second World War.

Of course I was reborn less than 5 years ago, so my social development is more like a girl of 17.

Fighting for what she believes in, here and here and here and....

Here's a birthday present I received. One of many. This one from a G/F of mine, Diana.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the commission. It is unfortunate that we even have to be here today, and we can only hope that someday this won't be needed, but I don't believe it will happen within my lifetime, but I can only hope that it will within our children's. I want to thank all of you for allowing me to participate in this historic day of rule making that is so imperative to not only me, but too many. Rule making causes change and change is good, although change doesn't happen overnight, at least change continues here today. Oooooops!.......... Wrong audience!

In reference to the first question, "What can be done to get these points across" It's plain, simple and it works Education (please see below)

My answer to your second question of "Would you be willing to have the courage of your convictions and do that? Would you be willing to speak in front of a group of graduate/medical students?" - YES, and I do. I speak regularly at Universities Denver, Colorado, Colorado State, Naropa), High Schools, Federal Gov., Law Enforcement, Local and State Gov. as the list continues.

As many of you know, on March 25, 2008, I became a victim of a violent crime that left me fighting for my life narrowly escaping the dreaded Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) list from a brain injury. Although I escaped the list this time I realized my odds are just as great to be on it the next year. After a couple of months of healing I hit a major crossroad in my life--why did I survive, do I quit transitioning, do I move away and become stealth, just what was I suppose to do. I was in deep turmoil where two galaxies were about to collide, de-transitioning meant certain death for me and I wasn't about to run away and hide again, I've been doing that most of my life. Now it was time for me to step forward to do my part in bringing us out of the dark ages, to help tomorrow's children from experiencing what happened to me.

I believe that everything happens for a reason and I was about to find my destiny. Moving forward a couple of months a fellow sister of ours was brutally beaten to death right here in my own back yard. Instantly the stigma that society has attached to us showed it's ugly face had Angie Zapata (victim) guilty of causing her own death, with Allen Andrade (convicted murderer) innocent, by means of justifiable homicide. Immediately the press took hold and made it headline news, causing the true ignorance of society to present itself in the comment sections of each and every story nationwide. Over the ensuing days and months our allies, advocates and educators came to the playing field. I watched intensely analyzing what worked and what didn't, some fought fire with fire while others educated with knowledge, linking that knowledge to where the facts could be found, continually increasing their creditability to the ignorance of society. Day by day, week by week, month by month I watched as change started to happen, moving that mountain one teaspoonful at a time!

Wow, it was really working, people that in the beginning were so ignorant from their bias, were becoming our allies, others in the state of confusion not knowing what to think, while even more were on their way to gaining another prospective (G.A.P.), and becoming another one of our allies. The impact in Colorado alone changed a very conservative county (Weld) where the tumbling tumble weeds grow, by returning a verdict of innocent upon our sister, while finding her assassin guilty of murder with the hate crime statue attached for the first in U.S. history against a transgender.

Realizing that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink, I started researching how I could make the most impact with helping society gain that new perspective. Understanding from my own experiences and frustrations that the majority of the older generation's were already set in their ways, I turned my focus to the middle age and younger generations in hopes that they would listen to their co-workers or children. Being ostracized by my older brother in March, 2007 from a closed mind I decided to experiment with my own family, I had nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Slowly I started building a new relationship with my nieces (brothers daughters), over the internet educating them along the way, and on the night of December 23, 2008 my brother invited me to Christmas Eve, the first family gathering I had been allowed to attend in almost two years.

Dealing with professionals and experts on an everyday basis including but not limited to politicians, lawyers, corners, surgeons, doctors, I.T. specialist, I realized how common it was that professionals too many times forget that not everyone holds the same level of knowledge and education as they do in their field of expertise leaving their customer/student lost and confused with no more of an understanding than they had in the first place. I see this happening constantly within our own community with the usage of acronyms such as HRT,FFS, SRS, TG and so on. The first time you use an acronym without explaining the meaning, you've lost your audience for good, all other efforts to get your point across become futile leaving both the educator and student frustrated pointing blame at each other.

Reflecting back to a class I took many years ago at CU titled "The Philosophies of Teaching and Being Taught" I decided to use the philosophy that if my students don't understand the material, it is I that must go back to the drawing board revamping my presentation to a level they will understand. Undoubtedly, I know someone here will want to come back at me saying that some just can't be taught which I will disagree with, but will agree with some are not ready or interested in the subject matter. You may find that if you approach some of these individuals at a different time and/or different circumstances you may have more positive results. In my presentations there is no holding back, when I tell my story, the tears flow, not by choice, but from necessity. Yes, there are some that I have yet to find the correct approach with, but I'm still searching for what will work and haven't given up. I can't stress enough how important it is that you change your material and focus to match the audience that your presenting to.

For example I'll use a different presentation for psychology grad students than I will for the general public, law or high school students. I have had very positive results modifying the presentations for the audience in which it is intended. In most cases I incorporate everyone that does not conform to the norms of society into my diversity training (race, religion, illness, eating disorders, disabilities, LGBT, ect.). By doing this I touch almost everyone's lives which increases my creditably and diffuses the thoughts that I'm out for my own personal agenda. With that being said, it is of the up most importance that all information in your presentation be based on actual facts and not folklore. Unfortunately, you will run across those who want to discredit you, so why help them, let them end up discrediting themselves.

When starting out on this part of my journey the philosophy I had was, if I could help one person gain that different perspective or save one life then all my time and efforts would be worth while. I'm not going to kid you by saying it was easy, it's a lot of work. After a year now, I know I've changed many. Don't try to be in a hurry, don't set yourself up for failure, it takes time to build your creditability and earn a reputation, but it has become so rewarding. Below are just a couple of many rewards I receive on a regular basis from college professors:

Dear Diana,
Wow. How do I give you feedback...? You are a beautiful, strong, humble woman. Your story-- and the feeling and sincerity with which you tell it... the compassion you have for the world despite it-- is one that, I believe, changed the lives of many students on Tuesday. Change nothing. I can imagine that, as you continue to grow-- as we all continue to grow-- your story will get richer, but where you are now-- it's so powerful.

Thank you-- for your bravery.

Hi Diana,
I hope you are well. I'm writing because I have been in touch with Boulder Pride about a visit to my School and Society class on March 16th at 2:00. They mentioned to me that they have someone that will be there, I think, but I really want you to come. You made such a powerful impact on my students last semester. I wonder if I'm being selfish with you! Please let me know if you are interested... or if it's just too much.

Take good care!
In the beginning I started by volunteering through Boulder Pride and now it's starting to become my second profession, imagine being greeted at the airport by a handsome gentleman wearing a suit, caring your luggage to the waiting Town car. What better way to earn a second income but by doing something you were willing to do for free and feel is of the utmost importance in creating change.

Everyone wants change to happen, but it's not going to happen unless it starts right here, within our own community. Yes, I do realize that putting myself out front increases my odds of another hate crime, but I'd rather die for speaking out, than to live and be silent.

I do understand the importance of stealth, but at the same time everyone needs to play apart. If you are fortunate enough to be wealthy donate. If you see an article, educate in the comment section. If you have the time, help with the administrative needs. If you see a fellow sister or brother in crisis, take the time to hold their hand and help them through it for you just may save a life. If the site needs a moderator, volunteer. If you need a local support group, create it. I could go on, but I think everyone gets the point by now. As many have said, if we want to move that mountain only we can make it happen one teaspoonful at a time!

I want to thank one of our own here at (this support site) for leading by example and help guiding me to the path that I have chosen to help create change. She always replies make it happen. If you've never watched her in action in the media's comment sections, you just may want to take the time to follow a major story and analyze, watch change happening before your very eyes. Although she isn't the only one, she is the one I watched, she is Zoe from OZ.

To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.

Thank you for reading and please remember that this is just one ladies opinion. Mine!
I've said it once, I'll say it again, as it bears repeating. The most miraculous part of my life, the greatest gift, wasn't the change. The healing that cured me. It was that it caused me to meet people like her.

And now I'm addressing you, the reader. You can do something. It doesn't have to be helping with Intersex or Transsexual issues, though Goodness knows, we can use all the help we can get. It could be something as simple as donating, voluntarily and of your own volition, your hard-earned moolah to the Red Cross, or a similar worthy cause. Even a few dollars a month makes a difference. It could even be something as simple and cost-free as letting someone in a side-street turn onto the congested road you're on. "Commit random acts of Kindness and Senseless acts of Beauty". Making the world just a little better.

It's contagious, you see. And no-one can foresee just how far the ripples of your actions will spread.

And yes, both Diana and I are available to speak to colleges, and schools, at psychology and medical lectures, at large forums and small, at commercial offices and government organisations, to lay the facts before the next generation, and this one too. We've already made a difference, and we've only just begun.

We're not the only ones. And at 52 not out, I'm just starting to get into the swing of things.

p.s. Subtitles:
HRT - Hormone Replacement Therapy
SRS - Sex Reassignment Surgery
FFS - Facial Feminisation Surgery
TG - Trans Gendered

15 comments:

Fran Bambust said...

Happy Birthday, Zoe!!!

Battybattybats said...

Happy Birthday Zoe!

And i agree that we all can and should do our part. Being a disability pensioner makes it difficult but i try and find ways to contribute.

Maybe we need some S&GD specific charity/advocacy org/s so that those who want to contribute but are time-poor could contribute directly?

Bad hair days said...

Happy Birthday :-)

Eric Satchwill said...

Happy Birthday, Zoe!

And if someone had told me a year ago that I'd be a youth facilitator for a queer youth support group, I'd have said "no way, I don't get involved." Now, I'm starting to realize that I can get involved and make a difference. A lot of it I'm sure has to do with where I am in my own life, but some of it I think is from reading your blog. I find you to be such an intelligent, strong and motivated woman; it really make me want to make a difference from where I am. I know this is getting a bit rambly, but I wanted to let you know that I appreciate what you're doing here. Thank you!

Gibbo said...

Happy birthday for Yesterday Zoe, mine is today!

48 today and still as handsome as ever!!!

Cheers, Gibbo

Fran Bambust said...

(Happy Birthday, Gibbo!)

I want to add that I admire your endeavors as well, trying to do a similar thing over here, in the Dutch speaking part of the world, being quite out as transwoman myself, giving interviews and speeches... As a matter of fact, I like talking about your blog in the media. I hope you don't mind :)

Hugs,
Fran

Zoe said...

Hi Zoe, I just watched you on hungry beast, and recognised you from having read your blog before and during your transition time. I came to it through my interest in political blogging, although I'm much further to the left than you (at least than you were then, haven't read enough to see!).

I wanted to let you know that I have always admired your grace and strength. Thanks to you - and Nat - for your appearance tonight.

kae said...

Happy Birthday!

I'm right behind you...

Toni said...

Hi Zoe -- happy birthday!

Saw you tonight on Hungry Beast, what a fascinating story. I'm looking forward to reading through your blog and learning a little more about you.

best wishes,
Toni

Buck said...

Happy Birthday Zoe!

You ARE making a difference.

Jayne said...

Happy birthday, Zoe!

Diana said...

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

In the beginning I never thought that I would be where I am today, but still realizing, I have so much further to go!

Thanks Zoe, for all you do!

Imogen said...

Happy birthday Zoe! Although I guess it's not your birthday there anymore :(

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Zoe!

I just watched the Hungry Beast show and found your blog. Really interesting. Thanks for making a difference.

-Me

Sandra Louise said...

Zoe:

Happy birthday and thank you once again for being far stronger and more courageous than I am. I am an advocate at work and out to all. But you are at the front lines. Thank you.

And if you hadn't seen it, this is an article talking about Susan Stanton in a most disrespectful way.

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/carolyn-plocher/2010/03/16/cnn-documentary-depicts-sex-change-medical-necessity-done-preserve-

(Please cut-n-paste to your browser, I'm a noob at html tags)

But what made it so very funny was this comment:

"uh oh
Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:41 ET
Zoe Brain will arrive to re educate all of us in 3...2...1...."

Yes, you are making a difference. Moving the mountain one teaspoon at a time. Or just being the burr in the saddle.

Thanks again and have a happy birthday and many, many more!

-Sandy