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The land of the free and the home of the brave? The True North strong and free?

Hundreds gathered at the Peace Arch Border Crossing Sunday afternoon, February 12, 2017, to express concern and opposition to recent American immigration policies and attitudes impacting immigrants and refugees. This peaceful demonstration was originally planned for February 5th but had to be postponed due to poor weather conditions. I was invited to say a few words; this was my text: I am an immigrant, first to the United States and later to Canada. I am Hispanic, I am Latina… I am white-skinned. I am a citizen of Colombia by birth—and a citizen of Canada by choice. I am a trans woman. I am a lesbian Like everyone who has ever lived, I had no choice in which country I'd be born in; Nor into which religious tradition. I did not get to choose my parents; I had no choice over my mother tongue. I had no choice when it came to the color of my skin. I did not choose my sexual orientation, and I did not choose to be transgender. Of all these things I have listed, only one I choose
Recent posts

Trans in the Cross Hairs

In June 2015, one month after Caitlyn Jenner graced the cover Vanity Fair magazine, the Family Research Council (FRC) published their infamous white paper on how to fight the war against “transgenderism.” This paper spelled out the strategies that Christians should use to fight the war against trans people. Eight years later we are seeing the brutal consequences of this strategy being played out in Republican controlled State Legislatures as they create laws that criminalize doctors and parents who support and care for trans persons; in particular, trans youth. On the opposite side of the debate stands the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA is clear about why trans health care is important and ethical and has  released several statements and policies regarding transgender individuals. Here is a short list: The AMA recognizes that transgender individuals experience unique health disparities and barriers to care, and supports efforts to address and eliminate these disparities. T


It’s been more than four years since I blogged. My last blog post was on September 22, 2018. I had just returned from my 50th High School Reunion in San Jose, CA, where my family emigrated to in 1960 from Colombia. After I graduated from Blackford High School, I attended San Jose State University and graduated with a BA in Graphic Design in 1972. A year later, I followed my two older siblings to Vancouver; and my parents and two younger siblings followed two years later. I only share this to give a context for what motivated that “last” blog post in 2018. While we lived in San Jose, I was sexually abused and also raped by two different men. The first was a paper route customer, and the second was an Argentinian in his early twenties attending San Jose State when he raped me. I was 12 and 15 years old, respectively. Should you care to read that blog post , I share how the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings triggered me.  On the Saturday of the reunion, I drove to the two apartments w

Me too. But some of you already knew that.

Coincidental with my Class of 68’ 50th high school reunion, the reports of Republicans bullying Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who question her memory of the attempted rape by Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, has thrown me into a bit of depression. I’ve been triggered. I am here, in a motel room in San Jose, California, where my high school reunion is to take place in an hour. Earlier this afternoon, I drove to the two locations where I was sexually abused and raped. I  remember all the details. I may not know the name of my attackers, but my body and brain remember how it felt to be forced to masturbate a man who was one of my paper route customers. I was 12 years old. I resist the compulsion to wash my hands for, God only knows, the millionth time. Then there was the rape when I was 15 years old. Someone who purported to want to help me audition as a rhythm-guitar player in a garage band and had offered to drive me to a house in Willow Glen, a neighborhood in San Jose.

“Oh, I’ve heard about that happening.”

An unexpected (and unforgettable) end of story. A couple of weekends ago, I went to visit my Mom. My sister arrived unexpectedly a short time later with her grandson, who is eight years old. Figuring the last thing the little guy wanted to do on a summer afternoon was to sit indoors with three older women, I said, “Let’s walk to the convenience store at the gas station; it’s only three blocks away, I’ll buy you a candy bar.” My niece's son... He gave me hope for the future.  We trundled off talking about candy, and as we passed the elementary school a block away, he asked, “How old are you?” Hum, I thought to myself, I wonder why he wants to know my age? “I’m sixty-seven, almost sixty-eight,” I replied. “Oh, then you’re older than my dad. He’s fifty-one,” he remarked. Then he asked, “Do you have any children?” At this point, I realized I had never spoken to my niece, his mother, about how much and how soon he should be informed about my ‘real’ position in the family

My thoughts after 10 years as Lisa.

On the third Saturday in July of 2008, I took a leap of faith. It was either that or leap to my death. As scared as I was of what lay ahead, it was less frightening than the though of never having experienced what it felt like to live authentically. I'm happy to still be here, as Lisa. A topic garnering much attention in social sciences is intersectionality; the categorizations of race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. Add to this idea the questions we ask and the answers we get as we explore our world as children and in our youth. What assumptions, expectations and conclusions do we draw? Do they set us up for success or failure? Same-sex attracted, and transgender and non-binary persons navigate and view life through a lens that often makes them imagine a future that is frightening. Fear of rejection, ridicule and aband

“You can ride on my lap.”

Added a Postscript at 8:00 p.m. PDT on April 25, 2018 Five years ago, I spent a week in Fort Lauderdale to attend a trans-related medical symposium. One of the event’s highlights was meeting Jazz Jenning and her mother in person. Jazz is a well-known trans girl who became famous when Barbara Walters interviewed her in 2008 at five. In her late teens, she starred in her own reality TV series, “I am Jazz.” The other highlight was staying with my first cousin, Carlos, and his wife, who live in Ft. Lauderdale. Carlos drove me to the airport on Tuesday for my return trip to Vancouver via Chicago. As he pulled away, my phone vibrated. A text message from United Airlines told me my 4:15 flight to Chicago was delayed until after 7:00 p.m. I panicked.  I rushed into the airport and went to the United Airlines ticket counter. I told them I had a problem. I was scheduled to catch a connecting flight from Chicago to Vancouver at about the same time I would be boarding the plane in Ft. Lauderd

The parents who are afraid of SOGI have been played.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, a group of about 100 people stood outside the Langley Schools District 35 office in support of the Trustees who had recently approved the SOGI 123 curriculum. (I won’t go into the SOGI specifics, anyone can review it for themselves at .) Photo by Brad Dirks (no relation to Paul Dirks). Among those holding up signs and standing in solidarity with the trustees, were students, family members, friends and allies of LGBTQ students. I wasn’t able to attend, since my current occupation had me stuck in downtown Vancouver. During the two weeks leading up to this peaceful rally, I was in communication with a few individuals who were responding to another group of parents. This first group had voiced strong opposition to SOGI, with a well-organized initiative that included a Facebook page and a website to raise money.  The Langley parents who are afraid of SOGI gathered a few weeks earlier to listen to their organizers, who included Kari

The Nashville Statement; what else is new?

Nine years ago I began my social and medical transition after decades of struggle to reconcile my Evangelical faith to who I was discovering myself to be. You need to understand that I was almost 40 years old by the time I first came across the term "transgender," in about 1988. It was in the early 70's, during the Jesus People movement that I "came to faith." Secretly, though, my hope and motive for embracing the Christian faith was my sincere belief that this confusion I lived with would one day disappear. I just needed to be faithful and, you know, do all the things we are taught to do; like pray without ceasing, memorize scripture to retrain my mind, die to myself daily, put to death the works of the flesh, renounce Satan, and the list goes on. From the academic research I have done as part of my MA in public and pastoral leadership, two central truths emerged for me. 1) Transition is a spiritual experience that transforms a person — much like a near-death

Interview with Stuart McNish:

A personal Meaning for the word transgender Published by and  Saturday, July 21, 2017 (CLICK IMAGE TO WATCH INTERVIEW) “This week’s Conversation That Matters features Lisa Salazar, who helps us to understand the transgender spectrum. “What does it mean to be transgender? “The term is relatively new. It is also widely misunderstood. Many people believe trans or transgender is about sexual orientation rather than gender identity. “After decades of fighting the voices in her head, Lisa took on the long and challenging transition from her life as a man to the one she knew was her true self. “Lisa takes us on her journey and at the same time provides insight into the lives of transgender people. “Her life story and the recent enactment of Bill C-16, which ensures that transgender people are guaranteed the same human rights as those who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, lead to this week’s conversation. “Conver

The Scandal of Inclusion

A reflection on the story of the Apostle Philip’s encounter with the Samaritans (Acts 8:4-8) and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40) and its connection to Isaiah’s description of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:7-8), and the future fate of the foreigner and the eunuch (Isaiah 56:3-5).  — Lisa Salazar, MAPPL  Presented on November 19, 2017, at NorthwoodUnited Church, Surrey, BC . This church is starting the process of becoming certified as an Affirming Ministry. In order to become an Affirming Ministry, a congregation (or presbytery, conference, educational institution, outreach ministry, chaplaincy, retreat centre, camp) must go through an educational/discernment process that reflects on what it means to be inclusive and evaluates your ministry’s openness to the ongoing work of being intentional about how it includes others within the life and work of your ministry. (A previous version of this message was presented on September 25, 2016, at Crescent United Church, Surre

Cats and dogs seem to matter more to the ruling BC Liberals than trans persons.

Image: The Apparent Hypocrisy of British Columbia’s Elected Liberal Government The same week that Transgender advocates and allies stood in front of the BC Legislature in support of the introduction of a private member’s bill aimed at protecting the rights of transgender people, the BC Liberal Government announced an order-in-council that adopts the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Codes of Practice for both kennel and cat breeding. Indeed, this is very good news for dogs and cats in British Columbia. Yet, this same Government has sat intentionally on it’s laurels, refusing to pass an exact version of the “trans rights bill” on three previous occasions. This is the fourth time the Honourable Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End, introduces this bill. The bill would amend the BC Human Rights Code (BCHRC) to include “gender identity and gender expression.” Having “gender identity and gender expression” included in the B

For me, transitioning was the equivalent of committing career suicide.

My letter to the editor was published in today’s the Province newspaper ; it’s reposted below. I wrote it in response to a full-page feature story that appeared in Sunday’s (Nov. 29th) edition, titled ‘There’s a revolution going on.’ Lisa Salazar: Despite Caitlyn Jenner, many people still struggle with ‘men in women’s clothing While I am always grateful for positive press regarding trans issues, especially when I happen to know some of the players in the stories, my hopes for greater understanding and acceptance continue to be tempered by the lived realities of most of the trans persons I have come to know. The revolution University of B.C. student Cormac O’Dwyer alludes to in Province reporter Glen Schaefer’s article on Sunday is, unfortunately, nothing more than a tempest in a teacup. While it is true that Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out caused a 100 percent increase in the number of people who claim to know a transgender person (to 16 percent from eight percent), being aware that

Applying for a job online feels like you are joining a dating service

I’ve got a profile on Linkedin and half-a-dozen other job banks, and after months of sending out resumes and cover letters, I feel my self-worth declining.  My morning routine is to pour myself a cup of coffee and sit at my computer for a couple of hours to see what new job postings appear in the above-mentioned job banks and send out cover letters, resumes, and the link to my website. My Google search is simple: “graphic design jobs in Vancouver, BC.” These days, graphic design job descriptions include many technology qualifiers. They are advertising for computer programmers and engineers who like to use other fonts besides Arial Times Roman and Comic Sans and can take photos with a real camera. However, what really gets to me is how f**k**g impersonal this online job application process has become. The adage “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know” must be true. Even Psychology Today has talked about it. One gets the feeling it doesn’t matter what you can do and has done; if yo

What's next for Uganda, even if the "Kill the Gays Bill" never passes?

I must confess that it was not until January of this year that I invested any think time on the situation in Uganda. Yes, I had heard of the crazy "Kill the Gays Bill," but I was focusing on personal stuff and I simply shrugged my shoulders and said, "I'm glad I don't live in Uganda." To say that I did a 180 degree turn out of my own convictions and outstanding character is not what happened. The truth is I was surfing the web on Dec. 30th and went to a friend's blog post titled, "Genocide Brewing in Uganda," in which she summarized what was taking place and how imminent was the passing of this insane piece of legislation. She provided links to CNN, Amnesty International, BBC, Time and a few other news organizations. I spent the next two hours going from one link to another and I was horrified. I emailed my friend and asked if she had any links to where I could send an email to; I needed to scream at someone. She replied that it may be a

Today’s Lament (on trans equality)

At times I feel like weary, bitchy and annoyed at my world. It’s easier, if not safer and less painful, to keep it vague and generalized than to think of actual persons in my life. It’s like looking at a large, indifferent audience without trying to make out individual faces for fear I might see my friends in the crowd. This is what evokes my lament today: What brought it on was a friend’s innocent question of his Facebook post this morning. He shared an article from  The Guardian  entitled  Church of England to consider transgender naming ceremony    and asked if I had any thoughts. I was going to start out by saying, “Wow, that is amazing!” Then I remembered this idea is not really new. In fact, it’s been suggested for at least a dozen years. Why has it taken this long? Consequently, my response became more somber—and longer. This is what I said: In 2003 Justin Tanis published "Trans-Gendered Faith: Theology Ministry and Communities of Faith." In the Append