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Opening hearts and minds to trans*

May 17, 2015

Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia 2015!

I signed up for the Hop this year without time for a lot of planning (given a book deadline on the 15th). So I’m just going to talk about what’s in my heart right now, on this May 17th – International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia .

The last few years have seen significant advances in LGBTQ rights, with real hope for equal marriage in Ireland, by upcoming national vote, and in the US, by Supreme Court decision. We hold our breath waiting. We can see the rainbow coming.

There have even been advances in acceptance of gender minority individuals. And fighting transphobia is vital. There’s a statistic that terrifies all of us who know and love someone, especially a teen, who is trans*: 41% of transgender individuals have attempted suicide at least once. Compared to about 2% for the general population.

There are genderqueer folk in my family. People I love. I know the challenges they face every day from within their own bodies. I dream of a time when those challenges are not made worse by the attitudes of society around them.

Good things are happening.
We are seeing a transman poised to be the cover guy for a big national men’s magazine.
We’ve been delighted by an out trans girl elected prom queen
Seen a trans teen model for a major cosmetic product campaign.
We’ve watched a popular androgenous model transition all the way
and show how someone can be gorgeous and stunning at different places all along the gender spectrum.
We cheered as Conchita Wurst proved that talent, style, and world-wide recognition can go along with genderbending style.
We even have a celebrity in Bruce Jenner whose journey from male to female is putting gender identity into the public eye from newsstands to supermarkets.
(Not always presented in a positive way, but just having people understand the possibility is a huge step forward.)

But at the same time, we have public figures like some Republican politicians who want to fine and even arrest trans people for using their gender-appropriate bathrooms. We have preachers spewing hate from their Sunday pulpits. Bullying of LGBTQ people on the national scale, coming from popular conservative spokesmen and opportunistic politicians and evangelical religious figures, enables and encourages bullying at home and in schools. We’ve seen parents’ rejection and peer harassment kill trans kids, quite literally.

Even one child lost to despair is too many, and this year my news feed has been far too full of young people who couldn’t hold onto hope. 17 years old. 15. 18. 12. They are F2M. M2F. Faces of dead children who fought bravely to be who they knew they were inside, but lost the battle to keep going. For them, the world was far from changed enough.

So I find myself caught between hope and pain, between joy at the first signs of acceptance for genderqueer folk in the wider society, and seething rage at those who enable and encourage hate.

On my own, I can’t change the world. I can’t keep it from hurting people I love when someone who might become president of the United States calls them an “abomination” and demands that “normal” children be protected from them. I can’t keep that gay guy in the bar from calling my trans guy a “dyke” and a “fake.” I can love and cherish and support them with my last breath, but it’s not enough to make their lives comfortable or safe.

But luckily, I’m not alone. There are all of you reading this blog. And many, many more, who are changing the world along with me. Some of you may never have knowingly met a transgender individual, or known someone who was genderfluid, or intersex or agendered. Maybe you’re just starting to explore the world of the LGBTQIAP rainbow. But when you accept that there is not one right way to be a woman, or a man, when you open your heart to love of all kinds, and people of all kinds, you take that first step into a world of equality.

I want to encourage you to consciously include support for all gender and sexual minorities in the opening of your heart. You don’t need to know everything, be aware of all the details, understand all the acronyms and labels, to believe we all have worth. Each of us contributes something unique and valuable to the human experience. And for those whose gender identity doesn’t fit the body they were born with, or whose body doesn’t fit the common mold, your acceptance and support matters even more.

If you are interested in learning more, there are websites and books, fact and fiction, to help you move beyond Gay and Lesbian to the rest of the alphabet. If you’re curious, one of the longest list of LGBTQ terms I’ve found is here: http://haveagaydayorg.tumblr.com/Identities (Some of these I’d never heard of, some are not often used, but labels can be useful tools to understand ourselves.) Just a few days ago the LA times wrote a brief but clear piece on trans issues. (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-transgender-20150512-story.html?track=rss) There are blogs written by people who are living their authentic lives, and who share their thoughts to help us understand them.

Fiction can be another way to understand people better. There are novels which introduce readers to genderqueer main characters. One with a trans main character that I recently enjoyed in the M/M genre is “The Burnt Toast B&B” by Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz – a fun gay romance that is neither heavy nor angsty. If you have other favorites with genderqueer MCs I’d love to have you mention them in the comments. And I just finished writing a book with an F2M main character. Carlos will appear in “Chasing DeathMetal Dreams” as a free novel sometime this summer. If even one person reads about Carlos, and finds a better understanding and acceptance of transgender people, that will give this fictional entertainment an added purpose.

The fun part of this hop, if you made it down this far, is a drawing for a prize. In my case, I’m giving away 2 ebooks of any book from my backlist, or ARCs of Life, Some Assembly Required. I’ll do two separate drawings, one here and one on my Goodreads blog, at midnight May 24th when the hop ends. Just comment below – I’ll message the winner.

Below is the link to move on to other places on this hop. Look for the blue bar to the right with the participants links. Good luck winning prizes as you check out what everyone has to say today, and thanks for stopping by. http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com/

64 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2015 8:09 am

    Great post, Kaje! I love how you emphasized that you can’t change the world on your own. There needs to be unity among LGBT supporters and I think things will slowly change for the better. I’m hoping at least.

    • May 18, 2015 5:55 pm

      It’s easy to get discouraged about how little impact my own voice has, until I see the effect of raising them together. One of the best recent examples was the Indiana “religious freedom to discriminate” law – the outcry of voices together had them backing down fast. We can make a difference, together.

  2. Isa permalink
    May 17, 2015 8:29 am

    Wonderful post Kaje. I’ll have to check out the books you mentioned. Another book I know of that has a trans character is Theo Fenraven’s Transgression. I know sometimes it doesn’t seem like it but I do feel we are making progress. When a little boy can wear a tutu to daycare and no one cares it gives me hope for the future and that things will be better.

  3. May 17, 2015 9:09 am

    Great post. The Burnt Toast B&B was a great lighthearted book on that subject.

    • May 18, 2015 5:57 pm

      Agreed – I liked the light touch; the book’s focus was elsewhere.

  4. Debra E permalink
    May 17, 2015 9:44 am

    There are a couple of books I’ve read that dealt with the subject. I especially liked another Heidi Belleau story, Wallflower. MC Rob/Bobby was just a joy to read about.

    • May 18, 2015 5:56 pm

      I enjoyed that whole series – several different identities and kinks presented in a very easy-to-identify-with way. Bobby is great.

  5. suze294 permalink
    May 17, 2015 10:28 am

    Thanks Kaje for yet another heartfelt, educational and interesting post.
    I have The Burnt Toast B&B to read, so more looking forward to it now

  6. jenf27 permalink
    May 17, 2015 11:02 am

    Another wonderful post, Kaje. Thank you. I think if our first impulse is to open our hearts to those who are different rather than be frightened or hateful, that is the biggest step. We don’t need to know everything (who can ever do that anyway), but we need to lead with love.

    “We can see the rainbow coming.” And it is marvelous.

    • May 18, 2015 5:59 pm

      Fear of the unknown is a human reaction, but part of being human is to override instinct with hearts and minds. And by making LGBTQ into something more known, we are seeing big progress at last. That’s where I think fiction has such a positive role to play.

  7. Denise Dechene permalink
    May 17, 2015 11:28 am

    Another great post. You are so right that by reading something we may open our minds. Before I started reading MM romance I had no idea of the LGBTQI youth homeless problem, the suicide rate or their problems with families disowning them. By interacting with people on social media I have become more aware of gender fluid, pan sexual, intersex and trans people. Hopefully more people will open their hearts and minds.

    • May 18, 2015 6:00 pm

      I love when I hear that the genre is leading people to greater empathy and walking in another’s shoes in a book leads to real life attitude changes.

  8. Angela permalink
    May 17, 2015 1:05 pm

    We’ve come a long way but are not there yet. So we have to continue to raise awareness and spread the word. Thanks for this great post๐Ÿ™‚

  9. May 17, 2015 1:23 pm

    I taught my children that you should like (or hate) a person for who they are and for their actions in society not for the colour of their skin, the gender they love, or the gender they are inside. You have written a great post with a very clear message that we still have a long way to go before what I taught my children is accepted everywhere. Thank you for giving me the hope that one day it will be.

    • May 18, 2015 6:03 pm

      This is one of the best things I think we can do – teach our children to have open hearts without preconceived judgements. Thanks for raising your kids this way.

    • May 27, 2015 11:45 am

      AND YOU ARE THE WINNER FOR THIS BLOG.๐Ÿ™‚

      • May 27, 2015 12:10 pm

        Thank you for making me your winner but, mostly, thank you for taking part in such an important cause as this.

  10. Claire permalink
    May 17, 2015 4:06 pm

    Thank you for lending me your ear. I hope your words touch people and help us to achieve the support and acceptance than everyone is deserving of.

  11. May 17, 2015 4:56 pm

    Thank you for your post and participating in this blog hop.

    annmarief115 at gmail dot com

  12. machurch00 permalink
    May 17, 2015 5:02 pm

    Touching post. It hurts that we’ve lost so many children,
    ~M
    nomoretears00 at hotmail dot com

    • May 18, 2015 6:10 pm

      OMG the kids. Even some of them who seem like they are doing well – like the guy who was F2M and prom king, and who face a backlash from that, and eventually killed himself at 18. We are losing these brilliant young people not just to the inherent difficulties of identity and body mis-match, which are tough enough, but to hate.

  13. Cornelia permalink
    May 17, 2015 6:01 pm

    Thanks for the informative post and Hop.

  14. May 17, 2015 6:06 pm

    Thank you so much for your words and your support for such a wonderful cause!

    sionedkla@gmail.com

  15. Alaina permalink
    May 17, 2015 6:38 pm

    Thank you for the informative post! And thanks for participating in the blog hop!
    aegger.echo(at)yahoo(dot)com

  16. May 17, 2015 9:11 pm

    I’m glad I hopped over here, and I appreciate your advocacy for the transgender community.๐Ÿ™‚

  17. waxapplelover permalink
    May 18, 2015 9:03 am

    Great post. I can’t think of any books I’ve read recently that have a trans character, but The Burnt Toast B&B is next on my TBR list.

  18. Heather Rawlins permalink
    May 18, 2015 10:37 am

    What a great post, I always learn from what you have to say. Thank you.

  19. Danny permalink
    May 18, 2015 1:33 pm

    Great post Kaje. Hugs

  20. Shirley Ann Speakman permalink
    May 18, 2015 3:46 pm

    Great post Kaje and it wonderful the help that you give to your family members after all Love is Love and we are all human.

    ShirleyAnn(at)speakman40(dot)freeserve(dot)co(dot)uk

    • May 18, 2015 6:18 pm

      Indeed we are. We need to see our similarities before our differences.

  21. Elle permalink
    May 18, 2015 5:04 pm

    Great post Kaje. It never fails to amaze me how some people, who claim to be good people, will deliberately set out to persecute those who are different from them. Have these people learnt nothing from the history of the world around them?

    • May 18, 2015 6:28 pm

      Agreed. We need to reduce our approval of conformity, obedience and even loyalty, especially blind loyalty, in the definition of “good”.

  22. JenCW permalink
    May 18, 2015 8:08 pm

    Thank you for the amazing post, Kaje. Thank you for the links as well. I haven’t read The Burnt Toast B&B yet, but I will be soon. It makes me so incredibly sad and angry that so many people feel that bad about themselves that they attempt suicide. People should be accepted for who they are and not be told to “conform”. Conform to what? Normal is all in the eyes of the holder’s perspective, what one person sees as “normal” is not that for another. We should love and accept our differences and each other as human beings. We are capable of great love and understanding.

    jczlapin@gmail.com

  23. Trix permalink
    May 18, 2015 11:20 pm

    Very informative and touching!

    vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

  24. H.B. permalink
    May 18, 2015 11:21 pm

    Great post! Thank you for sharing those links, I don’t think I would have run into them otherwise.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

    • May 21, 2015 9:35 am

      Getting on Facebook has been a mixed blessing but it is connecting me with more stories, including positive ones I can share with my YA group, and that’s a real bonus.

  25. Penumbra permalink
    May 19, 2015 2:44 am

    Thanks Kaje for a great post!

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

  26. Jbst permalink
    May 19, 2015 1:46 pm

    Thanks for the terrific post and for being part of this worthy blog hop!
    strive4bst(AT) y (dot)yahoo.com

    • May 21, 2015 9:37 am

      There are some excellent and heartfelt posts on this hop. If you are interested in different stories of trans issues, check out Matthew Metzger’s, and K-lee Klein’s second one, among others.

  27. Antonia permalink
    May 19, 2015 8:56 pm

    Thanks for a wonderful post. I really enjoyed The Burnt Toast B&B too.

    • May 21, 2015 9:37 am

      I liked how the trans part was secondary to the story, not ignored, but not a big factor.๐Ÿ˜€

  28. Connie J Dingler permalink
    May 20, 2015 5:07 pm

    I am almost afraid to say that I am a 67 year old Baptist woman because of all the so called Christians attitudes towards any of the trans, bi, gay, or lesbian people in this world. I’m just heartbroken for the young people facing such in their lives, and feeling that they have no recourse but to end their precious lives. I sincerely believe that God made us, and God loves us no matter who or what we are, and who are we to think we should do less. Thank you so much for the things you have done to help bring a long needed change. I loved this post!!

    • May 21, 2015 9:45 am

      I agree – so sad that the loud-mouthed bigoted opinions of people who then wave the Bible to justify themselves is pushing people away from Christianity completely. My oldest kid spent a few years (before moving) at a very lovely and accepting Methodist church, and found a real community there. But when leaders co-opt religion as a way to push people around they warp the face of it. There are some excellent resources for reconciling Christian and gay – Rainbow Christian Youth Ministries – http://rcym.org/ and the Metropolitan Community Church – (this is their transgender ministry – https://www.facebook.com/MCC4All) among others.

      I love seeing efforts to take back a loving religious community that supports everyone. But it’s hard in this age of “Bible as weapon”.

  29. Juliana permalink
    May 23, 2015 9:49 pm

    Mg feat post. Thanks for sharing this info & your book revs, & for participating.
    OceanAkers @ aol.com

  30. May 24, 2015 8:31 am

    Hi, thank you for being part of the blog hop and for your very informative, but heartbreaking, statistics and post.

    I am very fond of Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan and the secondary but very important trans character called Louisa, whose male lover had left her. I wish she could have her own story, detailing her finding love and acceptance. slholland22 {at} hotmail {dot} com

    • May 24, 2015 10:11 am

      Oh yes, I’d forgotten Louisa! She’s excellent and I’d love her story. Especially the early part, where she finds herself and her vocation in therapy, but yes, she also deserves love. Maybe Heidi will write more for her someday.

  31. sherry1969 permalink
    May 24, 2015 11:56 am

    Thanks for being part of the hop and great post.
    sstrode at scrtc dot com

  32. May 27, 2015 11:48 am

    Thanks everyone for stopping by, and for checking out all the great posts on this blog hop. So wonderful to be a part of something positive and important.

    The WINNER of the free ebook for this post is “felinewyvern” . Congratulations – I will email you.

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