Aug 232012
 

As many of you know, one of my identities is as a SOFFA (a significant other, friend, family or ally – or all of the above) of trans folks. As a woman who is cisgender (meaning the sex I was assigned at birth by the doctors matches my gender identity), I receive cisgender privilege in this world. I don’t have to wonder if people are questioning my gender I’m presenting, I don’t have to worry about which bathroom is less dangerous for me, and while I may have fights with the image in the mirror occasionally, it isn’t even about whether the person looking back at me embodies the gender I feel fits me best.

I have a trans partner, and many trans friends and colleagues. As someone known in the sex ed community to be trans-friendly and trans-inclusive, I am often asked where people can get StP devices (these allow you to Stand to Pee, meaning trans men can use them to pee in urinals in public), binders (which allow trans masculine folks of all identities, including butch, gender queer, trans male, etc, to bind their chests to look flat under clothing), packers (which are like soft dildos that give a nice feel and appearance of a flacid cock in someone’s pants), etc. While I have always directed people to this store for certain things, and this store for other things, and then another store for something specific, I am proud to introduce FtM Essentials: The Gear You Need from a Shop You Can Trust. Run by a trans-friendly woman (who also owns a feminist sex toy store), FtM Essentials sells much of the stuff needed by trans and gender queer folks to help their bodies line up with their identities. I’m happy to point people in this direction for a mostly one-stop-shop for your FtM needs. Leaderboard_ftm_gear_ad_2012

This being said, I still don’t have a ton of great resources for MtF folks and trans women. if you know of a similar one-store-carries-it-all (or most) site or store front I can direct people to for trans women’s needs, I would be happy to post that as well. Please comment with it, and it’ll get its own separate blog post and link on my side bar!

Also, for youth under 21, check out In a Bind, which is a binder exchange program where you can get a pre-worn binder for free or cheap, based on your needs!

May 272011
 

This month’s post for my monthly Unapologetic column on the Fearless Press deals with the concepts regarding the term Partner — the good, the bad, and the frustrating.

Sometimes, the English language just fails me. Aside from the ridiculous issue of pronouns (I mean, really, do we need to have masculine and feminine pronouns when we conjugate everything in neutrality anyways?), it’s so interesting trying to navigate in field of terminology to refer to people’s partners.

The other day, someone referred to my partner as my “wife.” Well, since both of us reject the concept of traditional marriage (versus our upcoming “Queer Celebration of Love”), it didn’t really fit, but even more so, it doesn’t fit because my partner doesn’t usually identify with either female or male identifies. My partner identifies as genderqueer, residing outside of that binary.

So the term girlfriend doesn’t really fit either. Moreover, as one of my straight friends revealed to me, calling her partner “boyfriend” after ten years of being together feels silly to her, and like she’s back in high school.

To read the rest, click here for Howdy There Partner.

Dec 132010
 

A cohort of mine from Widener University is behind this study, and I’m hoping to get lots of women and gender diverse people (who are/have been sexually intimate with women identified people) to participate. There is very little research done on queer sexuality, especially by people who recognize the difference between women, trans (men), gender queer and gender diverse. I’d love it if you’d support this great research by taking the survey if it applies to you, or at the very least (or if it doesn’t apply), passing it on, re-posting, etc. Thanks for doing your part in helping to create queer visibility and awareness.

-Shanna

This is a groundbreaking study about the lives of women and gender diverse people who are sexually intimate with women.  Please participate and forward on to others who you think might be interested.  Also, after you complete the survey, you can enter to win one of three $100 gift cards.

Are you a woman who is or has been sexually intimate with another woman?

—–OR—–

Are you gender diverse or trans and sexually intimate with women?

If you answered yes to either question, please take this survey

web.me.com/sexuality/

Who Can Participate?

You qualify if you identify as a woman who is sexually intimate with another woman OR a gender diverse person who is female-bodied, assigned female at birth and/or woman-identified and is sexually intimate with a woman. You must also be 18 years of age or older.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this research study is to better understand the sexuality of women who are sexually intimate with women, gender diverse people who are sexually intimate with women, and those who may not identify their sexual orientation and/or gender so narrowly. In this study, sexual behavior and sexual identity will be measured to better understand women, including gender diverse people who are female-bodied, assigned female at birth and/or woman-identified, who are sexually intimate with women and those with whom they partner.

Description of the Study

This study is about sexuality and identity of women and gender diverse people who sexually partner with women.  The survey will take about 25 minutes to complete.  The study is completely anonymous, meaning there will be no way to trace any questions or data back to you or your computer, and it is completely free to participate.

Win a $100 Gift Card

After you finish the survey, you will be invited to enter to win one of three $100 gift certificates to say thank you for participating.

Additional Important Information

The Widener University Internal Review Board (Protocol #38-11)  has approved solicitation of participants. The Primary Investigator is Debbie Bazarsky, M.S., M.Ed.  If you have any questions, you may email her at sexuality@me.com.

Oct 112010
 

I am one of the winners of the Phoenix Pride Coming Out Story Essay contest ( I even got to read mine out loud at the Zoo yesterday at the Coming Out celebration)…and as today is officially National Coming Out Day, I thought I’d share. Please feel free to share yours, or links to your own stories on your own sites, etc.

My coming out story isn’t just one day, or a week or even year. In fact, my coming out story isn’t finished. It is happening every day of every week of every year.

In college, I discovered the concept of orientation being fluid, and realized that I liked some of the women on campus. I joined QSA and EQUAL, and began to identify as bisexual. I told my mother and sister, and they reacted as expected; they didn’t really care.

Then in graduate school, I decided that I didn’t really like men anymore; I became a proud, flag-flying lesbian. I’m actually not kidding about the flag. I was a lesbian, and I liked women, and was attracted to women, and I came out to my friends and family and work and then…suddenly, I hit a speed bump.

Why? Well, I was suddenly dating someone that didn’t identify as a woman. I was dating a gender queer identified person. She didn’t care what pronouns people used to refer to him. When we were out and about, sometimes people saw us and identified us as a lesbian or dyke couple…other times, I could swear that people thought I was a twenty-something woman robbing the cradle with a 15-year old guy.

I loved this person. And this person didn’t identify as a woman. So I did what most young people in the middle of an identity crisis would do; I went online. And as I searched blogs and forums, I came across the term “Pansexual.” Ok, I thought. I can be pansexual, and be attracted to many people across the sexual spectrum. I was now a card carrying (I’m joking about the card) pansexual woman. Great. I started coming out to people as such on a regular basis.

In the midst of all this, I discovered something else about myself. Despite my angry feminist moments in college where I distained all things feminine as a creation of our misogynist culture and the patriarchy, I realized that while I didn’t embrace all or even most feminine things, my gender identity was developing, and it happened to have a Femme bent to it. One person I was seeing told me one day that I was “such a Femme.” I froze. I had always thought that being feminine or even a Femme was a bad thing, capitulating to social norms. But here I was, having spent almost an hour getting ready, getting a tingle in my stomach as my date opened the door for me, and a smile on my face as they brought me a drink. I had embraced the power of femininity, and I realized that even though I rarely wore heels and was allergic to pink, I am a Femme. Femme is my gender.

So here I was, a Pansexual Femme, and trying to come out to people. Trying to explain how Femme differed from female or woman was hard enough, but when I got into the term pansexual, people shut down. It was too academic, too different, too much. As I continued to prowl around online, I found that pansexual was a privileged term; it was mostly people in academia using it (and often just open minded bisexual people). I didn’t identify as bisexual, and I didn’t want a term that wasn’t accessible to everyone.

That is when I discovered the term QUEER. I was at a house party I’d been invited to by a fellow fierce Femme from roller derby, and I started talking to people about identity. At this party were people of all different gender presentations, from high femme to stud, gender queer and andro to trans folks of various presentations. And let me tell you, almost everyone at this party was smoking hot. I was trying to figure out how one would identify if you were a fierce Femme (IE, me) who was attracted to pretty much everyone in the room, and then, magically, I heard the term QUEER. It fit. It was perfect. It was me. It was an identity that fit me regardless of what I was wearing, who I was attracted to, what my own gender identity was, and everything else.

Now, as Queer Femme, I had to re-come out to everyone I’d already come out to. My family was open to it, but needed some education on the term queer. My co-workers were already reading Judith Butler and Kate Bornstein, so they got it. Some of my friends asked me what took me so long to figure that out, while others still thought of the term queer as a hateful term, and that involved much discussion.

When I moved to Arizona, the coming out process started all over again. Explaining my gender as Femme is always a hoot; people assume that unless you’re trans or gender queer, your gender is just a given. Mine is not. Femme is an attitude, a belief system, a presentation, and it is my deliberate gender. And here in Arizona, very few people understand my queer identity, and so it’s been an opportunity for education. My coming out story never ends, because I have to come out to everyone I meet, and everyone I’ve met, and because my identities are so fluid, sometimes I have to come out to myself.

The other day, my partner’s softball coach referred to me as her “roommate.” I was hurt and angry and frustrated. I’d come out to him already; as queer, as her partner, as her fiancé, and yet here he was, invalidating our relationship. So we both came out to him again. And will do so again if needed.

THIS is why coming out is so important. It creates visibility, and dialogue, and understanding, and these three things create change in our community. It is only with change that we can be seen as full members of our society, instead of second class citizens. So please, keep on coming out.

Happy Coming Out Day!

-Shanna

Jul 202010
 

Do you have a child that identifies as trans? Or have a family friend who may be looking to learn more about their trans (or transitioning, or gender-queer, etc) family member?

My partner and I have come up with some good starter links for you (or your friend) to check out. If you happen to have more awesome resources for parents/family/relatives/friends/teachers/etc of trans youth, I’d love for you to post it here so we can create even more resources for our community.

-Shanna

Trans Active: http://www.transactiveonline.org/families_new.html

Parents, Family and Friends of Gays and Lesbians (also trans inclusive) http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=209

Trans Youth and Family Allies: http://www.imatyfa.org/

Colorado specific: http://www.tyes-colorado.org/index.html

News article: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3088298&page=1

True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism–For Families, Friends, Coworkers, and Helping Professionals (book)

The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals (book)

Transgender Explained For Those Who Are Not (book)

Mar 012010
 

I had this forwarded to me, and I think that it is absolutely wonderful that someone is doing this kind of research. Instead of just looking at numbers, or making assumptions, they are actually looking for the voices of the trans/genderqueer/gender variant communities, and their parents, and their partners. Please, if you can, and fall within one of these categories, please please take this, and help us increase the knowledge around sexual diversity.

-Shanna

Hi everyone,

I’m editing a book and would love your help finding transgender/genderqueer people, as well as their parents and partners for a survey. The answers will appear as quotes in the book, similarly to Our Bodies, Ourselves.

Want to be part of a resource guide for transgender and other gender-variant people?

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves features a line-up of wonderful transgender and genderqueer authors, and they’re looking for your help to make the book amazing.

Take the survey and your thoughts could appear in the book!

Go to http://www.transbodies.com/Survey.html for surveys designed for:

-Transgender/genderqueer people

-Parents of gender-variant children

-Partners of transgender/genderqueer people

Please forward widely.

YOUR VOICE is greatly appreciated!

Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, MA

Editor, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves

transbodies@gmail.com
http://transbodies.com