We Have To Talk About Karen White Who Sexually Assaulted Four Women In Prison And Identifies As…

We Have To Talk About Karen White Who Sexually Assaulted Four Women In Prison And Identifies As Trans

If we don’t discuss this, those who wish to use the case of Karen White to demonize the entirety of the Transgender community, will.

It has long been preached that accepting transgender women into female places poses a risk to women and young girls. Preachers, politicians and conservative talk-radio hosts alike have all issued ominous warnings to their audiences. They leverage the ignorance of their fans against transgender people, shaping an ill-informed opinion based entirely on rhetoric and lies. We’ve dealt with this, as trans people, in every public space from bathrooms and locker rooms to sporting events and prom titles. In any event, we’ve had the benefit of facts on our side. Historically, there has never been an incident of a Transgender woman committing a violent sexual crime against another woman in a bathroom, a locker room or over not being allowed to be named Prom Queen.

The reality is, most of us are too preoccupied with our fear of retribution and violence, ourselves, to do much more than speak openly against the bigoted hyperbole… Has the bathroom issues on senate floors made it easier for you to walk into one in a restaurant without the niggling of anxiety behind the wall of your chest? Have you found yourself avoiding the use of public, gender specific spaces to avoid the potential of confrontation or humiliation? Sadly, we’ve been struggling with this long before it became a topical issue.

The case of Karen White coming out of the United Kingdom, which, unlike the USA, extends more rights and compassion to transgender people, is extremely disturbing but will be relevant to all of us who exist on the Trans spectrum. It will be used against us. It will be developed into a narrative of our collective characters and used to persecute us by proxy.

Karen White, 52, sexually attacked four women while incarcerated in an women’s detention facility. Prior to her detention, she informed the administrators that she identified as transgender, which resulted in her placement in the gender specific facility. She also claimed that she was not sexually attracted to women and did not possess the ability to achieve arousal. She lied.

Yet, this wasn’t Karen’s first attack. While going by the name Stephen Wood back in 2003, she was charged with another violent rape of which she plead guilty. Worse, just two years prior, she was jailed for sexually assaulting a minor. Her latest brutal attacks that landed her in prison happened in 2016, where again she plead guilty to two counts of rape involving another woman. Karen White was a known serial rapist.

It was only after the assaults became public record that people who knew Karen prior to her incarceration- including a female ex-lover- informed authorities that Karen only started identifying as a woman in 2014 despite never having received an official assessment or diagnosis by a qualified physician to confirm gender dysphoria. She had worked previously as a Drag performer, but her friends stated that she did not indicate, at any point, that she was transgender.

Karen White is most likely not Transgender at all, but a cross dressing cis-gender male who abused the system to gain access to a women’s prison where she could continue the long established pattern of predatory behavior. White deceived the court system, playing on their legal loopholes to achieve this and the system took everything she said at face value… despite her violent history toward women.

This is gross negligence by the justice system who never asked for supporting documentation, clinical records nor considered her past as a threat to women and children. This is a hard statement for me to make, because in America, we have thousands of transgender women guilty of non-violent crimes sitting in male prisons and being subjected to rape, discrimination, harassment and violence every single day by cis male inmates. Trans women in male prisons live in a state of perpetual fear for their lives. Some have even killed themselves to escape the torture. Indeed, in American, the Bureau of Prisons rolled back Obama era policies that protected transgender women in custody. Now, transgender people are assigned to prisons based solely on the identified state of their genitals. This is in spite of some transgender women, like me, being medically incapable of surgically transitioning due to the threat to my health. The attempt to surgically or even chemically transition would almost certainly end in death due to a genetic defect that predisposes me to heart attacks and strokes as a result of clotting- a risk that would only be elevated by hormone replacement therapies.

The case of Karen White is a devastating blow to all transgender women who might one day stand before a Judge because her actions have handed religious zealots, radical feminists and political conservatives a stick to beat us with. We already suffer incarceration in disproportionate numbers.

As a consequence of this case, the onus of responsibility isn’t being laid at the feet of those who executed poor decision making, but instead upon the entire transgender community. Recently, journalist Janice Turner of The Times referred to transgender women in female prisons as “Foxes in Hen Houses.” She did not condemn Karen White as an individual, but used Karen White to launch an attack on transgender people in the legal system. We’re being painted with the same brush as Karen White as she is being paraded about as an example of what we- me and people like me, are capable of- and asserting to others that we all have the same intent; To harm women and young girls. Turner lashed out against the legal system for making women vulnerable to us, labeling us predators.

Turner generated a lot of support, feeling her anti-trans stance is now legitimized- even Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling supported the article on twitter, much to the dismay of her transgender fans- who are not rapists. Actually, the abuse of transgender women stand only to escalate as a result of Karen White’s brutal crimes against women.

Karen White should pay the consequences for her crimes, all of which have left innocent women and children permanently scarred for the rest of their lives. We should not minimize White’s offenses, but we must ask that blame be placed where it belongs- With Karen White and the system that allowed a documented threat into an environment where she could harm more women. The blame should not be directed toward the transgender community.

Still, Women’s rights advocates and anti-trans Parliament members are suggesting an overhaul of the system which could see, just as we do in America, trans women placed in male prisons once again, despite their crimes or the severity of them. Parliament may now put the lives of thousands of transgender inmates at risk because of the actions of one- who wasn’t likely transgender at all.

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A Missionary Visited To Ask If I Believed in Jesus Christ So I Asked Her If She Voted For Donald…

A Missionary Visited To Ask If I Believed in Jesus Christ So I Asked Her If She Voted For Donald Trump.

I live in a hovel in the middle of a swamp.

Due to the relative isolation, I don’t usually receive guests. I’m not a “crumpets and tea” kind of person anyway. I have a sign on my door that warns:

“If you’re an unexpected visitor I will throw you down my basement stairs.”

That’s an adequate deterrent, I figure, because even I won’t go into my basement alone.

You can imagine my surprise, as I sat along before my computer scrolling innocently through my Social Media for something to be angry about, why I was shocked to hear a knock at my door.

Of course, my first thought was someone had come to kill me. It had to be a burgler. Except, after a brief moment of panic where I just sat frozen to see if they’d knock again, I realized a burgler probably wouldn’t knock. I jumped up, scowling as I do when something inconveniences me, which I have 2 lines between my eyes forming the number 11.

As I walked into the foyer, I saw a older woman shoulder length hair that reminded me of a poodle, if the poodle had used a can of mousse. She had on a blue, ankle length floral print dress with a frilly, lace collar. She was clutching a folder to her chest and staring directly at me through the glass window pane with an equally stern expression- not a smile or a gesture of disarming pleasantry. It as if one of the teachers from Hogwarts had come to collect me for truancy.

I opened the door and inched my way out onto the porch, suffering the anxious feeling that I had done something wrong and she as here to let me know about it.

“Hi.” I said, not particularly sincerely, more of a formality but if we were to measure it on a musical scale, it would read as “What the f*ck are you doing here.”

But, suddenly, the corners of her mouth popped to the sides of her face like they were running away from each other. A sudden smile. She cocked her head to the side and said “I was just in the neighborhood…”

Thoughts are racing through my head. I’m thinking, “Lady, this is a swamp, not a neighborhood. This is wrong turn territory.” I let her continue.

“I just wondered if you had a moment to answer a question.”

My defenses went down. As I figured she was likely lost and feeling the urgency to get out of “The neighborhood” before sundown. We do have mosquitoes the size of pigeons; You tend to be swarmed by them as you’re running from the menagerie of eerie glowing eyes staring at you from the dark woods.

Hey, listen, I’m a cat lady who writes opinions on the internet. I have time to give this lady straight out of Steel Magnolias some directions back to civilization. It will be my good deed for the day. “Sure.” I respond with uncharacteristic kindness as the lines on my forehead soften and I stop squinting.

And then it began.

“What do you think God thinks of people who are seeking him.”

Huh? Unconsciously, I jutted my neck forward with confusion. My eyeballs darted around like they’d been knocked loose from their sockets as my mouth drooped. “I don’t understand the question.”

She lowered the folder she had held to her chest but revealed a Bible conspicuously hidden behind it. I knew what as happening now.

She flopped open the thin pages- I don’t know why bibles are printed on paper no thicker than one ply toilet tissue. Come on churches, you have enough money to spend on quality paper. She had a bookmarked position all ready. I was impressed by her preparedness. By my own nature, I’m disorganized, and if it were me in her low platform shoes, by now I’d have dropped everything twice, stumbled off the porch and swore in fine company, but not her. She was incredibly practiced. She held the book toward me as she read a passage aloud.

To be honest, it was a lovely passage, something to do with anxiety, which I immediately related to. I’m as anxious as a chihuahua on speed. “It’s like you know me.” I said, unable to conceal my awe. It was like that time I saw a psychic who told me I was experiencing personal struggles and I looked at her dead in her one good eye and said “If you google me the first return is struggle.com, honey.”

The missionary with the unfortunate hair permanent seemed satisfied by my reaction and tilted her head gently to one side and said “Do you have Jesus Christ in your life?”

Now, wait a minute. Wait a righteous minute. I’m a trans person who lives on coffee and Xanax. There was a time, honestly, that I was more religiously inclined. I’d stay up until 3 am watching Benny Hinn on the Christian Broadcasting channel wishing that he’s hit me in the face with his magic coat to miraculously cure me of my gender issues and make me like everyone else. He’d ask you to put your hands on the screen of your television and pray with him as he called out random people with random ailments. Bob with diabetes. Mary with the arthritis. Carol with the hare lip. He never got around to me, Pinnochio, who wanted to be a real boy instead of a broken boy who wanted to be a girl. I’d still pray and cry for Bob and co.

I respect those of faith, to be clear. While I stopped identifying as Christian long ago due to the undeniable damage I had seen organized religion incur on good people, I appreciate people who hold and maintain a deep, personal faith. People who use it to abuse others, not so much. I’m also not fond of solicitors- people who show up at my door and ask me inappropriate, invasive questions about my intimate beliefs.

I felt my face twist and one side of my lip curl. As someone who doesn’t want visitors, nor do I make an effort to visit others, I was shocked by the courage- the nerve she possessed to walk up to a strangers door in the middle of nowhere to ask them point-blank questions about their personal life. That’s brave, to be entirely fair, but what motivates that bravery? A sale. She was selling me her belief system.

I repeated her question to her. “Do I believe in Jesus?” I blinked twice.

The ambiguous expression drawn on my face must have left her thinking I was confused instead of surprised by the size of the balls she had just put on display. So, she explained. “Jesus rewards people who seek him. Have you accepted the Lord into your life?”

I crossed my arms and took in a short burst of air. Ugh. I hate confrontation. I hate having my time occupied by uninvited conversations and resented the swell of discomfort that ensued. You see, at my age, I don’t have the tolerance for being made uncomfortable in my own space anymore. Formalities aren’t my thing.

“Did you vote for Donald Trump?” I asked with a conviction equal to her own.

It was her turn to look confused. She slowly closed her book still holding her smile firmly in place because that’s her practice paying off. “Pardon?”

Now, I grinned, tilted my head slightly and folded my hands in front of me. “I just wondered if you had gone to the polls and helped make Donald Trump our President.”

She laughed nervously, “Well, that’s not the conversation I came to have, but maybe another-”

“No, you knocked on my door. You asked me, a complete stranger to you, where I assigned my faith and put it into practice in my life. A conversation works two ways. Simple yes or no.” I tried not to sound aggressive. I wasn’t trying to be rude, it was actually the first question that came to mind rather than an answer to hers.

She took a step backward, her smile was gone. “I did, just as many others did, because I listen for God, and if we listen, we hear him lead us.” She started opening her book again, “I’d like to read you a scripture that discusses The Lord speaking to us if only we open our hearts to him.”

I felt a swell in my chest as I spoke. “I’m a transgender person.” I said. “I come from a family of immigrants. I have two lesbian Mothers who are Witches that took me in because my own turned me away.”

She frowned, “Aww…” she said with pity. I expected her to apologize, as if I’d incurred some hardship that fetched her sympathy.”

I didn’t let her. “People like you voted to make my life hell. You subscribe to a belief system, and it’s not Christianity. It’s elitism. You want a world that reflects your view and accepts only people who share it, thereby placing people like me and those I love in a place where we are vulnerable to losing our human rights; You voted for a man whose absence of conscience subjects me and millions of others to abuse at the hands of those who claim to be Christian… So, be honest, you’re here to ask me to join you in this violent army you’re waging against everyone who doesn’t think like you do.”

She twisted on one foot, “Thank you for your time.” She said, without even a pang of regret. It was like we had just traded recipes. She had no emotional response to speak of.

I walked to the edge of my porch steps… “You’re welcome to stay and give your pitch. I’ll listen- if you’ll explain why everything Christians have done in the name of that book contradicts what it teaches.”

She didn’t take me up on the offer. Instead, she made her way to her beige car in the driveway. I didn’t watch her leave. I turned around and walked back into my house, my heart was thudding like a drum in my chest. I wasn’t angry, but rather exhausted. Part of me wished she had stayed to provide me that elusive clarity on why Christians have become much more known for their racism, alt-right violence and proud bigotry than their penchant for empathy, kindness and generosity.

At least Benny Hinn slapped people with his tailored dinner jacket promising to heal them. Despite being proved a fraud years later, it was back when Christians hid their criminal indiscretions and venomous hatred beneath promises of hope and salvation.

I’m not an atheist, full disclosure. I believe in something greater. The extent and details of that is intended for me, as part of my journey- not to impose it on others. I don’t need my faith in order to be a good person. I don’t need to be blackmailed with threats of eternal agony in a pit of hellfire in order to be cognoscente of how my actions and words effect others. I know the difference between right and wrong in the context of my own behavior instead of reducing it to good and evil while condemning other for believing differently.

It didn’t take courage for that woman to knock on my door. It took a sense of entitlement and a ridiculous expectation that I should listen and consume; That I would enthusiastically join her organization of which I, myself, have been targeted by.

If she learned anything at all from our short chat, it wasn’t due to anything I said… It was only skip to the house in the swamp on her next mission.

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Here’s A First: A Celebrity Has An Out And Proud Relationship With A Transwoman

The couple have shared their love story publicly, across social media and this marks the first time a celebrity has acknowledged their romance with a Transgender person.

If you’ve seen the award winning series “Schitt’s Creek” starring comedic legends Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, then you know actress Emily Hampshire. Hampshire plays the role of Stevie on the Canadian sitcom which became a cross-over hit in the United States since the first season aired in 2015. Hampshire also pulled double duty on her acting tasks, taking up the role of Jennifer Goines in the Sy-Fy futuristic drama 12 Monkeys which has aired simultaneously to Schitt’s Creek.

Hampshire has been posting pictures to her social media with her new girlfriend- Teddy Geiger, a woman who is an accomplished figure in her own right having written hits for bands like One Direction and Shawn Mendes, announced her transition last October and withdrew from the prying of public eyes before re-emerging in May.

This isn’t the way it usually happens for Transwomen in relationships with celebrities. In fact, most celebrities, especially men, who engage in relationships with trans-identifying folks keep it very quiet, less for privacy reasons and more out of shame and embarrassment. Those who have been discovered to have had intimate relationships with trans people typically end up uniformly denying it or claiming they were tricked. Some even simply pretend it never happened despite evidence to the contrary.

The reality is, young trans people who are growing up as productive members of society have had it demonstrated over and over that they remain outside the boundaries of achieving personal happiness and fulfilling relationships due to their gender. They feel relegated to their potential being capped at someone else’s dirty secret or sexual experiment. The trans community doesn’t have many well known figures who portray the possibilities of finding love when compared to our cisgender counterparts.

We all appreciate the celebrity power-couples who are thriving and who, by their very existence, change the shape of what we understand and accept as a “Normal.” Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka are a gay couple we’ve watched fall in love, get married and have a beautiful family- just ten years ago, this was virtually unheard of. We also have Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor or Ellen Degenerous and Portia Derossi; All strong, successful women who haven’t felt it necessary to hide their same-sex relationships in order to achieve great things in the entertainment industry. Just a few examples of many LGB figures that have chosen to live their lives unapologetically, thereby providing visibility and consequentially normalizing the diversity that is encompassed in the word “Love.”

Us trans folks haven’t had those examples to call on. Why is this important? Since the dawning of celebrity voyeurism, we’ve been delivered by means of red carpet flashbulbs the love stories of Liz and Dick, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers. Every young girl who swoons over Justin Bieber and his latest girlfriend and holds them on a pedestal with the hashtag #Relationshipgoals acknowledges that relationships are a part of our development. A natural evolution. A pursuit we, as social beings, all share to some degree. The gossip rags love to talk about which A-Lister Jennifer Lawrence or Taylor swift is dating today, emphasizing that these women have permission and acceptance in greater society as they actively integrate with the males of our species.

Everyone wants a love story; An epic fairytale. Cis privilege is having that demonstrated every single day, in their favorite songs, television shows, gossip magazines, social media, movies and books. Thankfully, Cis-Love has been broadened to include and celebrate gay and lesbian couples…

… Trans love? Not so much. We’re still the fodder for tabloid media sensationalism and dehumanizing jokes. We’re still fighting be acknowledged as normal, bathroom using human beings against a tide of conservatives who instead create the narrative that we’re a threat. We, as transgender people, are doing our best to thrive while under psychological, emotional and even physical assault every single day. It’s possible that cis people who might otherwise consider us as potential romantic partners, discard us due to the baggage they believe accompanies us. Maybe they think our gender equates the sum of our parts and determining factor of every choice we make. Shows like Transparent did us no favors, posturing an older transwoman as a catalyst of damage for her entire family and ultimately becoming sexually confused. That’s a huge weight to bear the weight of, if it actually represented the transgender experience, but it’s inaccurate. Sexuality and gender are like your fingers and toes. They each have a vital purpose, but that purpose is wholly independent and unrelated to the other. Neither has influence on what the other does.

Perhaps they believe that, by the matter of mere association, they’ll have to suddenly become an advocate, an activist or community spokesperson. Possibly they’re concerned that a relationship with a trans person will usurp every noteworthy achievement ever made, substituted instead by salacious news headlines and invasive lines of questioning focusing solely on that… and that inevitably may become the sum of their own parts.

Maybe they’re afraid that public perception will be forever altered, or they’ll be the punchline to a barrage of jokes. Could it be that they, too, have seen others in situations where they must defend, justify or deny their relationships with trans folks instead of just being happy.

Because that’s what we need to see.

Couples. Happy.

Not cis people lying about having been in relationships with us, or suddenly ignoring the fact we ever existed to preserve their professional status. A relationship with a trans person, whether it be with an NBA sports star or a Olympic gold medalist or a Comedy legend, has been only portrayed to the public as humiliating and shame-worthy.

Up until now, in the realm of public consciousness, that’s how we’ve been portrayed. That’s how our identities have been controlled and how we’ve been framed in the context of intimacy.

This is why- whether Emily Hampshire and Teddy Geiger realize it or not- their visibility is so momentous and vital to pursuing a cultural shift. They don’t sensationalize their romance. They don’t punctuate their presence with politicized missives or leverage their coupling as a social justice statement. They just are as they are. Like every other couple in love, there is no great statement to be made.

That, by itself, makes the greatest statement of all.

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Joe Biden Launches New Initiative For Trans Youth And I Was Torn Over It

Someone reached out to me a few weeks ago asking me to contribute my story to Joe Biden’s new campaign “As You Are” to raise visibility of the young Trans community and curb the disproportionate suicide rates among trans youth.

There is no question that this is a deeply important program; One which I have no doubt will save many lives. It’s also vital for young trans identifying people across the spectrum to hear and share their stories with the rest of the world. Beyond that, during these times wherein trans people are trying to thrive in an increasingly hostile political climate, it is critical that we hear from someone, like Biden, in a position of power and influence who stands in support of LGBTQ youth.

I read through the information that I was directed to and as excited as I was about the opportunity to contribute, I suddenly took great pause. The words: “…far too many LGBTQ people — especially those under 25 — still face rejection from the people closest to them.” I watched the videos of parents, celebrities and young people on the side of the web page as they offered words of support or encouragement as they emphasized the importance of family and community acceptance for young members of the community. They want to hear from Parents, Teachers, even allies to help ensure a brighter future for young LGBTQ people in America.

Inexplicably, I felt this pang of sadness. I know the statistics regarding suicide, homelessness and murder that plague my community very well- enough to know that this initiative is one long overdue. I needed this when I was younger- I need this now… except, I understand I’m not the intended recipient. For me, specifically, as I hovered my mouse over those text windows, I wondered what I would tell my younger self.

What did I need to hear, but never had the opportunity. Things no one ever said.

I sat for a good 45 minutes staring at the page. Kids today, they have things most of us never did. Social media giving them access to a broader, international community of people like themselves. Resources, information, trans pop idols, TIME magazine covers, documentaries, reality shows (Thanks, Lifetime and Jazz Jennings) school alliance clubs, young adult books with Trans protagonists…

… and while I certainly don’t think it’s easier to be Trans now than it was back in 2000, when I finally acknowledged my status, it certainly feels like we’ve made enough progress just to make it easier for one to simply get their bearings or have a firmer grasp on what this journey means and what challenges they’ll face.

I didn’t have that. Maybe you didn’t either.

And it occurred to me, with a great heaviness, that I, along with an entire generation of trans identifying people have fallen through the cracks. While it’s so important to focus on youth and be the beacon of light they need to navigate lifes tumultuous waters of self acceptance and discovery, there are people- 30 years old, 40, 50- even 70… who no one is speaking to or on behalf of. My generation was the last to be universally ignored to placate cigender anxieties. Despite being on the cusp of something greater that we would see during the Obama era- such as The President and his Vice President lighting up the white house in Pride colors, we who came before are treated as if we never were. As if the state of being Transgender is somehow new, and only those 25 and younger are at risk for daring to live in their truth.

It’s difficult to put into words, but I’ll draw a crude parallel for you, dear readers. In the film The Last Unicorn, based on the best-selling novel by Peter S. Beagle, there is a character; A middle aged woman named Molly Grue. She was visibly disheveled, her clothes tattered, her face worn with lines indicating time had not been kind to her. When she sees the Unicorn for the first time, she weeps aloud, not with joy but with sorrow, even anger. Here is that encounter:

As grateful as I am to Joe Biden and all those founders of outreach programs, resource providers, healthcare advocates and community staples that centralize their focus on improving the quality of life for Trans youth, another side of me wondered, perhaps selfishly, “Where have you been? Where were you when I was young, twenty years ago, ten years ago… before I became this…

And then I questioned, again, perhaps selfishly, “Where are you now? Now that I am not 25?”

I find solace in knowing we have seen such a cultural shift that people like Joe Biden are working diligently to prevent youth of today and all those who come after from being subject to the systemic ostracizing, the bullying and abuse borne from ignorance. An ignorance that results, inevitably in the self-imposed alienation, the crippling myriad of social anxieties, depression and suicidal ideation that so many of us dealt with alone not so long ago. We are guilty only of being the “befores.” It is only a single generation ago that transgender “Youth” became anybody’s priority… from this moment and withering backward through time, every era, every decade before, we were simply lost children.

And what we became, those of us who survived despite all odds, are a consequence of that. Those of us who have managed to learn to love ourselves or find some acceptance in the world did so in spite of everyone else telling us we never should or never would. Some of us, today, have a weathered face or graying hair and still we endure the same plight that youth face… except many of us have been without a family for years. Many of us have been fired, evicted, tortured by administrative policies which render us feeling subhuman. We, too, still suffer the inability to process the fact that legislators in 16 states want to make it illegal for us to use a public bathroom that doesn’t align with our genitals- and even send us to jail if we do so. Most of us, as adults, suffer PTSD as a result of unbearably cruel and inhumane treatment we experienced as children. We, too, were that youth one day.

Of course we want to stop that from happening to anyone else… but as we suffered neglect from leaders of this nation in the past and extremely limited access to any sense of community, visibility or education, many of us who are not 25 are still suffering… and we don’t have anyone creating more broad initiatives to include us in their efforts. We were, and remain, forgotten. It’s as if trans activism is now in fashion, thankfully. But, it seems to apply only to the latest generation of young folks. Many of whom ultimately have greater reach, a more promising future, an increased chance to achieve their fullest potential while not having to reach beyond their grasp to find a strong system of support and acceptance thanks to a rising tide of social awareness. We have seen expanded involvement in schools and colleges much in thanks to liberal youth who refused to be indoctrinated into hate- even Trans Prom Kings and Queens. We’ve witnessed an ever increasing standard of inclusion. Trans youth today experience a radically different world than even their slightly older counterparts. Just 15 years ago, advocacy groups on college campuses that included Trans people were almost unheard of. Now they are commonplace.

I believe it is the responsibility of the Trans community to guide our youth. To embrace them; To teach them what life was like at the dawn of the new millennium, just 18 years ago. It was, for us who were young teens then, a world they would not recognize. Just as most young gay men and women cannot ever imagine, no matter how many television programs, plays produced or books written on the AIDS epidemic and the inconceivable toll it took on the entire community in the 80’s and 90’s, Trans youth today have no relationship with what it was like to be Trans when there was no actress Laverne Cox, High fashion models Carmen Carrera and Laith Ashley, Trans politicians like Danica Roem or Christine Hallquist. There were no movies like Tangerine or The Danish Girl or out and proud Trans musicians like Kim Petras.

There was a before. We are that before. We are still here. We are still in need of acknowledgement, normalization in society and even equal justice in a system whose track record is to throw us in prisons by birth gender to be raped or physically assaulted without consideration to the consequences on our person. We, of all ages, still see mainstream conservatives leveraging religion to strip us, not only of our rights, but our dignities. We wake up to this reality every day… yet there is no initiative to help us cope with the devastating effects that our history has had on us while young Trans folks still have the chance to create their history, but equipped with better tools.

Indeed, trans youth need us. They deserve better than we had. They deserve to have their humanity valued and their existence acknowledged by the mainstream public- not only by government leaders, but by those of us who came before. It is our obligation to protect them from having to pay the price we paid for the right to live in our own skin and without shame.

The problem is, so many from just the generation before who didn’t have a Joe Biden never got to that place themselves. We’re still struggling- even moreso under the discriminatory acts and redaction of protective rights committed by the current government. The youth of our community are not the only ones in need of support. Those of us who came before them need someone to build us a bridge over the chasm between the complete absence of regard for our lives that we experienced and this movement to save the younger members of this community today. I don’t understand why we in our 30’s, 40’s and older are being separated and watching modern day activists turn their backs on us… again.

Maybe they see their efforts to save the youth as recompense for allowing us to lose ours.

But we’re still here. Many of us still experiencing the psychological and emotional aftermath of the neglect that we want to save the children from today.

I told Joe Biden my story. You should, too. If we don’t tell our stories, I don’t care how old you are or how badly it hurts, when you’re gone, no one else can. You have a responsibility to yourself to be a reflection of the world as it was during your journey. Your chapter is necessary. Our experiences are not history until they’re happening no more… and not to anyone else.

I support Joe Biden. I support him so that my dark history is not some other innocent child’s future.

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Understanding The Difference Between A Trans Fetishist And A Potential Partner

We often hear the term “Trans Fetishist” thrown around- and recklessly.

As Trans folks, we live in a society wherein we are often hyper-sexualized by the mainstream. It’ unfortunate, but true that we haven’t yet crossed that evasive threshold of our gender being separated from our sexuality. Our sexuality as Trans individuals is frequently- and ignorantly- made the focus of our complete identity. That we have a sexuality at all or can be attractive, even desired, by another remains shrouded in taboo. Consequentially, many who might otherwise have no problem taking a Trans man or woman as a partner are forced to live out their attraction via secret fantasies in the glow of their computer screens after the rest of their family has gone to bed. To many of these people, their attraction is their shame. Or, alternatively, is perceived as altogether unattainable due to the stigma.

There is a distinct difference between a fetishist and a genuine potential romantic interest, and discerning that can save you a lot of stress and inevitable heartache. The trouble lies in the fact that, while the two are not at all related, the behaviors can appear to be, at least on the surface. Like many in my Trans family, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with both before I learned to identify who truly wanted to know me as an individual and who just fantasized about me in a sexual context, objectifying me or sensationalizing me as a caricature with little interest in me beyond a impulsive curiosity.

Recognizing fetishist behavior is vital when pursuing authentic, mutually invested relationships and establishing a quality report with another person. While a fetishist will attempt to deceive their target with elaborate cunning until they receive gratification, a romantic partner will follow your lead instead of goading you or making blatant sexual advances that are unbalanced or premature.

A fetishist will usually always pretext their interaction with a demonstration of their emotional unavailability. They will say they’re only seeking a friend with benefits (FWB) or are even currently in a relationship or married. They will unwittingly disclose their fetish by making sexual remarks, asking sexually related questions all while showing no interest in anything else about you. Their fascination with a Trans identifying person will be evident in statements or affectations they view as complimentary rather than offensive.

“I’ve never been with one before.” They might say. Emphasis here on “One.” You’re not a person, you’re just a thing they’ve never experienced. A ride at an amusement park they’ve never ridden before.

“I’m curious.” Great, but you’re not an oddity or a riddle. I don’t want someone to be curious about me, I want someone who is interested in sharing things about themselves and learning about me in a natural process that extends past their sexual curiosities.

“Discreet” in any context is an immediate red flag. They want to have you in an intimate situation, but would be horrified if anyone ever knew it was with a Trans person. They need it to be a secret- you are no one’s dirty secret.

I know of many fetishists who use dating apps and literally work their way through entire area codes of trans people without ever having the intention of dating or committing. One man by the name of Taylor would message me frequently on facebook. He’d ask if we could “Get together sometime” or “Meet up.” I wasn’t interested. A year later he also found me on Tinder. I discovered quite quickly that he had a practice of soliciting any transgender woman in driving distance and most of my local trans friends recognized him as a result of a post he left on my wall after I stopped responding to him. I found they had one sexual partner in common at one time or another- Taylor. He pursued them to satiate his sexual appetite but would eventually move on to the next trans woman who he set his target on. I never met him. Why didn’t I fall prey to his advances? I looked at his facebook page wherein he had been tagged, just a few days prior to his post on my wall, in dozens of his own engagement photos- by his future wife. I dodged a bullet.

But, Taylor is not unique. He separated his sexual lust from his emotional investment. Trans women were not friends, they were opportunities to fulfill his sexual predilections. They were there solely for his pleasure. They were not allowed to possess an expectations. While he would have sex with trans women, he would never entertain the notion of actually having a relationship with a trans woman- and not just because he was already committed.

Fetishists are indeed emotionally detached. Their motivation is purely their own sexual satisfaction. If you know what to look and listen for, they usually out themselves almost immediately.

However, many men who date trans men and women- even exclusively- are not fetishists. They want to know what books you’ve read, what you studied in school, if you prefer coffee or tea. They enjoy the privilege of getting to know you in a traditional manner with respect to, not only your boundaries, but your dignities. “Did you have a good weekend?” is vastly different from “Hey, sexy.” One makes inquiry, the other surpasses any formality and imposes an uncomfortable familiarity they think we should find endearing or a boon to our self esteem. One takes time to learn about you in a casual, relaxed manner without awkward sexual undertones while the other seeks a veritable EZ pass as if they’re doing you some kind of favor by lavishing you with loaded words designed to impress or flatter.

A fetishist places inordinate weight on your trans identity with a seemingly endless line of very personal questions regarding your anatomy, whether or not you are “Full time” or if you prefer dominant or submissive roles in the bedroom. By this time, it’s clear what their end goal is, and they’re not interested in getting to know you at all, but instead taking an assessment of your body design to see if you meet their sexual standard of acceptability. We don’t typically see women who are on a first date or opening up a dialog with a man asking if they’re circumcised or how well endowed they are in order to determine if they’re dating material. We shouldn’t tolerate equally invasive questions from men.

A fetishist has an end goal in mind, deliberately manipulating you toward that predetermined result. A romantic interest doesn’t know the destination, but takes the journey with you as an equal. They want to discuss topics of mutual interest, learn about your intricacies, share their thoughts on everything from television to politics. They ask you what yours are. They appreciate the evolution of a friendship that becomes something more valuable to them. They aren’t interested in things like discretion nor do they make mention of wanting to “experiment” or “Try it” as if you’re a newly discovered species of frog they want to see from the inside with as much respect they would have for a splayed amphibian laid prone before them for probing and prodding. A potential romantic partner will tell their friends about you as the bond grows, and they’ll learn about your story as you choose to make it available when appropriate. The fetishist thinks in the short term, scavenging for immediate self gratification leveraging you rather than respecting you. The romantic interest makes the investment of time, courtesy, and regards yours as a privilege rather than a right of passage into your pants.

It is negligent to recklessly dub every individual attracted exclusively to trans people a fetishist. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a preference. The difference between them is vast in that a romantic interest will hold your hand in public, while the fetishist will cower from any affection outside the bedroom for fear of societal repercussion or their own internalized phobia.

A partner humanizes you. They allow you to be an individual; A complex human being, the sum of many parts.

The fetishist hones in on one. They build a box around you, and your transgender status is the only part of you that matters to them. To the fetishist, your gender is the whole of your identity. They are incapable of caring for you past the morning after. The potential romantic partner will pick you up if your car breaks down. The fetishist won’t answer the phone or return a message if they’re not sexually aroused because that relationship is constructed completely around their convenience, not yours.

Too many very good people are often demonized by the word fetishist, a label that is tacked on all to frivolously and often scares those who are genuinely interested in knowing you away for fear of being branded indelibly as a “chaser” with sex being their sole purpose for wanting to know you. Thus, they fold into themselves like introverts, deliberately avoiding even friendly engagements with a trans person who they worry will falsely equate them with those who have an explicit sexual agenda.

Remove the stigma from men who have a preference for trans people or who do not have a binary gender preference when considering a possible partner to share their lives with. Life is to short to waste on things that are temporary or never bare any fruit. Learn to identify the fetishists whose purpose in pursuit is self serving and instead sew seeds of long-term emotional fulfillment with someone who ultimately deserves a chance to be, possibly, your Happily Ever After.

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