Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sean's Last Wish

One of the great controversies in the TG community is our association with the gay community. Many fear such a connection will only reinforce the belief in the mainstream that all crossdressers and transgender people are really gay. There is also the disillusionment over the ENDA debacle. The reality even there is that it brought our two communities closer as we realized how much our struggles are similar. Only those at the top of the HRC leadership do not see that. However that is a story that has been debated and analyzed in much better ways by better writers. However the fight does still continue.

Then there are those stories where the labels can be thrown away. They are simply about the human condition. It is a truly tragic story. Out of the despair and grief of losing a son, hope and even triumph reigns. Such is the story of Sean Kennedy, a 20 year old man that was taken from us far too soon. Yes, he is gay. That’s only part of the story.

Sean Kennedy was murdered just over a year ago. The short story is that he was leaving a bar in Greenville, SC early the morning of May 16, 2007. A young man in a car asked if he could spare a cigarette. He obliged, and then another person got out of the car and felt like he had the right to throw his fist through Sean’s face breaking the bones. Either the hit or the resulting fall shattered a piece of Sean’s spinal cord and killed him.

The four young people sped away in their car not realizing that Sean was dead. The young man who delivered the fatal blow even left a cell phone message to one of Sean’s girlfriends saying that Sean owed him $500 for a broken hand. The message was callous and cruel as he literally laughed about what he had done. Fortunately he was caught the next day. Unfortunately the South Carolina court system was not setup to properly dispense justice. The best they could charge the killer with was involuntary manslaughter as it was determined the act was not premeditated. Ironically the phone message was the deciding evidence. The sentencing hearing is set for later this summer. Chances are he will get off on time served.

Elke Kennedy, Sean’s mother, has spoken out since her son’s death about the lack of appropriate laws for this situation. Any kind of federal hate crimes law would have brought on federal charges. The death of the Matthew Shepherd Act last year likely means Sean’s death will not be the last. Also in South Carolina, there is not voluntary manslaughter or second degree murder. The prosecutors were very limited in how they could charge Sean’s killer.

Elke has crusaded tirelessly across the county speaking to many groups. The CGA was graced with her presence at the May meeting. An amazing thing happened as we shared our experiences. We realized we are not alone in our struggles. Elke admitted to us a lack of knowledge about the TG community. She now knows we support her in her fight. Once you get past the labels, our experiences are so similar.

One part of the discussion that I will share concerns churches and religious groups. As I noted in a recent post, it is difficult for a self professed TG Christian to find their place in either world. In Elke’s case, her church family abandoned her shortly after Sean’s death. They could not find anything in their belief system that would allow them to support Elke. In their view, homosexuality is an abomination. They will not come out and say it, but they probably believe Sean deserved to die.

So I asked Elke why does the church (particularly in more conservative regions) focus so much on this one supposed sin? One of my biggest pet peeves is that this world has far bigger problems such as corruption, greed, and lack of love. Why do we rail so much against this one “sin?” My belief is that addressing the above problems would force us to look in the mirror. At least with homosexuality, we can throw stones and be self righteous. Elke also correctly noted that so much of the belief system is taught from a young age. Many don’t associate with the gay or TG community. It becomes much easier to speak against and eventually hate a group of people you don’t know. It is my firm belief that hate caused Sean’s death.

Please note that the above is not a blanket indictment of all Christians. Pam and I have had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Christians who while they disagree with our lifestyle clearly do not hate us. Some have even taken the opportunity to know us and realize we’re not such bad people (and vice versa). We’re even somewhat normal sometimes! It is my prayer and hope that these conversations are the beginning to a greater understanding for all parties.

I will finish by saying that if you have the opportunity to hear Elke Kennedy speak, please do so. She is scheduled for the Salisbury PFLAG meeting at 10am, Saturday, June 14th. Go to their website, Sean’s Last Wish, for other appearance dates. She even apologized to the group at CGA for coming on a bit strong. I told her there was no need to apologize. She is a wonderful and impassioned speaker and an outstanding listener. I was honored she could attend CGA. You will be lifted by her story and undying spirit. We need more Elke Kennedy’s in this world.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Wrote a Story

And it has now been published! Entitled TG Short Stories with Carollyn Olsen and Friends, this paperback features three short stories. The first, You've Got Male, was penned by my good friend from the Vanity Club, Carollyn Olsen. The second, Loving Change, was written by yours truly. The final story is Third Kiss from Lady Silke Loretta Martin.

Loving Change features a crossdresser and her supportive live in girlfriend on the evening of their six month anniversary. A night of love making leaves a permanent change on our protagonist, or does it? A short excerpt:

Every touch from her brought such a tingly wave of joy upon me that I barely noticed her leading me to our bedroom suite. We both kicked off our heels as I followed her siren call.

“Close your eyes,” she said. “This will take a minute, but keep them closed until I say so.”

I closed my eyes. Amanda was a sensual, tender lover and I relished these moments of surprise. I felt her unzipping my dress letting it fall to the floor. She moved my legs to help me step out gracefully. My bra and waist cincher were undone letting the coolness of the room rush against my smooth hairless chest. She moved my arms straight up, so I could be feel a silk material sliding over my torso and falling down below my knees.

“Just a moment more, Shell,” I heard the luscious voice command me. Something special was in store when she called me by my femme name. I sensed Amanda moving around, the rustling of fabric, and then her closeness in front of me.

To order, send check or money order to:

Carollyn Olson
PO Box 1241
Loomis, CA 95650

The cost of the book is $12 (US regular mail); $15 (US Priority Mail) and $18 (US for International Mail. Add $5 and Carollyn will also enclose a copy of Deception which was her first novel.

Monday, May 26, 2008

God Does Not Make Mistakes

My good friend Robbi Cohn has been passing this link around about a Fox News story on transgender children. Dr. Norman Spack, a pediatric specialist at Boston's Children Hospital, is amongst a growing number of doctors that recognize TG tendencies in children. He also assists in therapy for children as young as age seven and recommends medicine that will delay the onset of puberty while these children are given the opportunity to determine their true gender. Of course this being a Fox News story, several conservative doctors are used for a rebuttal essentially questioning Dr. Spack's morals and judgment. One even goes as far as calling him and the children's families child abusers. Another word used is "barbaric." Dr. Spack is truly a courageous individual for pursuing true science in the face of increasing opposition from his learned colleagues and the public at large.

While I agree treating TG children must be approached with all due caution, it must be noted that this treatment is not done in a vacuum. The point of therapy is to involve the family and their child in the decision making process. We know children realize the difference between boys and girls at a very young age. It would make sense for children to figure out over time if they do not fit in with their birth gender. This is a worthwhile area of study so that children do not grow into teenagers and adults that at best can't find their place in this world and at worst commit suicide.

God does not make mistakes. If you scroll down to the comments section, you will see that phrase from a conservative audience numerous times. It is one of their mantras repeated so often like a skipping record. Guess what? I agree, but not in the sense they are referring. Many of the posters believe gender is fixed and cannot be changed. To do so is like playing God. To change it is sacrilegous. Never mind that no one is born "perfect." We all have imperfections whether it be bad eyes, ears, or heaven forbid any number of conditions such as autism or Down's Syndrome. We most certainly attempt to treat all of those and more in order to improve a person's quality of life. Transitioning (both surgical and non surgical) for TG individuals is no different.

God does not make mistakes. I agree. I and all of my TG brothers and sisters were made this way for a reason. I am only now starting to understand that. I have a long way to go in my understanding, but I know I am this way to God's glory. It goes beyond the prom dresses, the Civil War gowns, makeup, the wigs, etc. I truly was blessed with the soul of a woman. I see the world through a woman's eyes. I am a woman. I was dropped into the body of a man. I don't totally know why. I know I have to work a bit harder to be me. It's still worth it though. I wouldn't trade my life for any other.

Those who know me well know me as a woman. Even on a Saturday trip to Latta Plantation, I was treated as a woman. They know me no other way. My friends tell me they see my confidence in being who I am. Maybe I am just sick of hiding. Whatever the case, it's a wonderful feeling to be accepted. That acceptance begins with you. Once you accept the real you, the possibilities are endless.

God does not make mistakes. I couldn't agree more.