Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Acceptance Meter: How well are trans persons accepted?

In preparation for a workshop I will be giving in January, I took a survey of transgender persons to quantify how well they have been accepted. The results were sobering, but not entirely surprising.

The reality seems to be that we humans adapt much easier to strangers than to those with whom we have a history. As the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. Even Jesus experienced this when He tried to minister among his own family and neighbors.

In a recent survey that I took I asked trans persons to rate how well they had been accepted/affirmed by three groups: family, old friends and acquaintances, and new friends and acquaintances. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 was outright rejection and 10 was unconditional acceptance, the results were, well, disappointing. 

Families scored 5.7 (the ratings were spread across the spectrum), Old Friends/Acquaintances were rated at 4.9 and new F/A rated the highest, at 8. This helps explain why so many trans persons have found it easier to relocate and start life in a new place, where their history as the other gender does not get in the way.

What is not obvious from these averages is how many respondents were outright rejected by families and old friends, while almost zero outright rejections among new friends.   

Knowing this does not make it less painful and it also helps explain why a deep sense of loneliness is so pervasive among trans persons I have come to know. No matter what, we are all wired for emotional attachment, especially with our families. How tragic that it is those we are closest to who have the hardest time accepting and affirming, it seems counter intuitive, doesn't it?

This was a small survey with only 22 respondents; ten responded via a Facebook Survey and the rest were persons I emailed. In many ways, I expected results like these based on my gut feelings from the many conversations I have had and stories I have heard from other transgender persons. I did not ask any more than for them to rate how these three groups have either rejected or accepted them after they came out as transgender. I could have asked more questions, such as whether they were pre or post-op, their age, profession, whether they lived in a small or large city/town. etc., but i did not for expediency as well as privacy concerns. Nor did I ask for comments. All I wanted to do was to somehow quantify my own suspicions, if possible I'm planning a more comprehensive version of this because my sense is that younger transgender persons are finding more acceptance from their families and friends today. The survey also needs to reflect what the marital status of the person was when they came out and or transitioned. It does get more complicated when one is married and has children.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

En Evening with Kathy Baldock in Vancouver

I had the privilege of Interviewing Kathy Baldock on Dec, 5, 2012 when she visited Vancouver. 

We spent two hours at Lighthouse of Hope Christian Fellowship. Paul Donovan of Living Productions Inc. generously video taped the whole thing. I invite you to sit back and learn about this amazing dynamo of a woman.

Part One

Part Two

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Has this ever happened to you, that you're surprised by comes out of your head?

The comments I make in response to stories I read are gone from my mind once they get posted. Every once is a while I stumble across one of these comments and I surprise myself...I wrote this?

Here is one example; it's something I wrote about a year ago:
Mr. Smid's post from this morning and his comment about feeling kicked in the gut resonated with me. My friend Kathy Baldock (canyonwalkerconnections.com) notified me about a comment made about me by Micheal Brown, author of "A Queer Thing Happened in America" in an recent interview. He said, "A husband is supposed to love his wife as Christ loved the church and should be willing to die for her sake." This was my obligation, but I failed as a husband when I chose to transition, according to him.
For the most part, I concur with this statement, for it is what I did to the best of my ability for thirty-seven years in my attempt to deal with my medical condition. I am grateful for having had the grace and strength to pull it off for as long as I did, and though I wish I could have stayed on that course until the day I died, I was not able to.
What those like Michael Brown, who point out that my obligation to my wife should trump all my needs fail to realize is that there is also another principle at work—the principle of transformation. Jesus does not expect us to live a life full of resignation to our fate and I believe His very ministry and words offered us hope for this very reason, we can be transformed. We are not defined by our fate, nor are we expected to resign to it. His claim to be the physician for the sick explicitly points to this principle, otherwise why fix what is broken.
On a more graphic and perhaps horrific level, when he declared "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell," was He simply talking about spiritual purity and sanctification? I'm of the opinion there are other implications, and one of them is that we are sometimes faced with making very painful decisions in order to free us from the shackles of fate, or whatever it is that produces a hellish existence.
One would not deny 'radical' medical treatment to a person suffering from some illness if the alternative was either a continuation of the pain and suffering or inevitable death. Why does Brown argue that persons with gender dysphoria are an exception? Today, there are many conditions for which medical science has been able to eliminate and or to minimize their impact on those who suffer from them. What may have been a life sentence for some in the past is now possible to correct and therefore improve the quality of their lives. Yet, the reality is many of these remedies exact very hefty prices and require very serious decisions be made with all kinds of consequences. This is where Jesus' declaration rings true, but in the end, the price paid may prevent a person's hell to continue.
When I came to my breaking point about four years ago, something had to give. Brown doesn't believe the choice I made to transition was the correct one because he insists in Christ all things are possible and accuses me of failing as a husband. To him, the thought I might do something to save myself from my form of hell is contradictory to what Christ would have done. This insistence on His part is tantamount to setting himself up as my judge, and I have no other option than to appeal to Christ.
Yes, the price I paid for transitioning was ending the wonderful relationship I enjoyed with my wife of thirty-seven years and knowing my decision would inflict hurt on her, my best friend. I agonized over this before I transitioned, and I agonize over this today. Yet, the hell-like existence marked by self-loathing, shame, confusion, guilt and depression, all of which I learned to white wash so as to appear as perfect as possible had to end, and it has. I thank God there were medical options for me, even of there was a price to pay.
The long and short of it is that the biggest surprise comes form the fact that I almost failed my English composition class in university. I was hopeless when it came to stringing two or more sentences together. I think cutting and pasting has given me the tool I needed in those days. Being somewhat of an obsessive perfectionist, starting over on a new sheet of paper was the only recourse I had then, and I think that is what defeated me—starting over.

It's kind of ironic that is what I have done with my life, after all. I've started over.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Do I really look and sound like that?

I have not been in front of a video camera very often, to be honest, hardly ever.  

So when I got the email from OnMyPlanet.ca that the video they shot of me last summer was ready for viewing, I took a deep break and clinked on the link.

Here it is.

The folks at OnMyPlanet.ca have been creating short videos of LGBTQ persons sharing their stories. Check out their site to view the other videos.

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