Living in transition is a soulful journey

 

As a transgender woman, writer and researcher, and author of this blog, I have scoured over countless story’s from people of all ages, female, and male, virtually every walk of life.

These people and i have indeed experience what Nat Geo describes as a “gender revolution” within ourselves. The people who I  write about tell story’s of their experiences. Each story is a testimony of liberation from within.

A common recurring theme emerges in most of our life story’s! At some point in our youth we just simply want to express ourselves in a way that is different from the biological standard that is taught to us, through the clothes provided to as young children, to the way we perceive others as examples through life. At some point we realize we are unique when we think about ourselves and the notion of gender.

These feelings are “insistent, persistent, and consistent.”

What’s touched my heart the most about these and other stories, is the challenges in everyday life that we endure just learning to be ourselves. From facing our fears about certain social situations, to intimate moments of support and understanding from loved ones we never thought would understand. Finding a job, or an apartment, or in my case dealing with our child’s teachers and doctors as a transgender parent. It’s an interesting experience to say the least. Finding a love relationship, and making friends are life challenges with a whole new twist.

As the “other mother” my journey taught me courage to face these and other situations head on. My son and my wife are my biggest fans when I sport a proud to be trans attitude around town. I have met so many people locally that I thought would never understand , but they did. When I go shopping or out for a bite I notice that people are usually very accepting. Only a few people seemed perturbed by the fact I’m a transgender. Thats to be expected! I learned through my transition so far, is that there are plenty of people who do understand !

What makes us different in this way? What is that blissfully feeling that comes over me when I put on my make up, or share time with my best girlfriend, as sisters do, or the woman who feels comfortable when she expresses as a man? It seems science may never know what makes us different in this way. Maybe were not so different from what has been written about in the earliest writings known to man. They wrote about the variable of gender within us spiritually. The history of transgender people in the humanity’s may be slightly out of view for some. It’s there in plain view for those who want to know.

In the physical world there are 3 types of gender that make up the human race ( Woman, Hermaphrodite, and man),  since we know that there are 3 types of physical gender, how hard is it to understand that the inner soul of human may also come in a variable form. (Male, variable gender, woman). A full spectrum of gender expressions.

Since I have started my transition, I have had a much better spiritual life over all as well. I feel closer to what some people call god, or what I call the all of everything. My life has so much more meaning now. I’ve allowed my inner self express itself as naturally as it wants to. As a result I began living for a purpose. For me living as a transgender woman, has been and continues to be a soulful journey

Rach Hardesty

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It’s time to understand that transgender children are part of the equation.

Cover  photo nine-year old Avery Jackson on National Geographic January 2016 special edition dedicated to transgender issues around the world.

By Rachel Hardesty

Transgenderismhas changed how we view self-expression, in ways unimaginable, from just ten years ago. The skyrocketing and personal subject of gender identity, has the minds of the general public, looking for answers and nine-year old Avery Jackson just might have a few !

A little girl from Kansas City sat confidently, with her adorable pink stretchies, and fun colors in her hair. A proud to be trans stance while she looks at America, through the lens of a camera held by Robin Hammond in a portrait shot for the cover of Nat Geo.

She tells about her amazing transition, as she reflects on her challenges, and inner strength. She is the first  transgender, to Grace the cover of a National Geographic. A publication that has been in circulation for over 130 years.

The reaction was as expected, the world went wild with support, for Avery as the story took the internet by storm.

Gender Revolution is what the headline read, and I couldn’t have put it better myself, but she could. Just under the heading is a quote that read;

“The best part of being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy”

wp-1513569478813771858585.jpegMemories began to flood my mind of the construct I had created pretending to be a boy, and how good it felt to not have to do that anymore. .So easily spoken from the young trail Blazer.

Gender Identity has been at the core of an ongoing revolution of how we define ourself in the world. The controversial bathroom issue that Rose from North Carolina put gender identities issues to the fore front of our collective mind. Counselors offices are reporting that there are a tremendous amount of youth today that are “coming out”. A trend that is rendering the conventional ideology’s of gender as obsolete.

Her mom recalls her saying “You call me a boy, you think I’m a boy, but you know I’m a girl on the inside”.

“By putting myself out there, people will be able to know that I am transgender and proud,” she says in the interview she hopes to inspire people to learn more about transgender issues. Learning how to be proud to be trans takes a tremendous amount of courage and time, to overcome many inner battles that being “different” brings.

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In an interview on USA Today Avery talks about her experience with going to preschool as a girl. ” When I started to go to preschool, my friends were cool with it , but their parents weren’t”, she goes on to say “they thought it was contagious like transgender pox or something”. “I’m just a normal girl. Your average, everyday normal transgender girl”.

 

As a transgender woman, and the author of this article, I could totally relate to this 9-year-old girl on subject matter that some full-grown adults struggle to wrap  their minds around. It was a refreshing and inspiring. To me it felt like she said things that only i felt , as a transgender woman, and couldn’t find the words to describe.

There is a group of critics that have voiced their discontent for Avery’s parents. They have responded by saying  that the Jackson’s are “forcing this on their child”.That they are running out to put their kids on hormones despite the fact that the Jackson’s took every step that they could to provide the best care for their then son.

In some people’s minds there is a total fear of transgender people. That is completely based on bios ignorance. They persist in thinking that transgendered people are somehow going to ruin their child’s life, or that it is a passing fad for some kids, like dressing up in power ranger suits and running around the back yard. Nothing could be more ignorant of the facts.

The story’s of these children are compelling, each story is similar in that these children start having serious depression, and anxiety. They began to have problems   to a point of reaching out to a specialist. They followed the advise of the professionals, and did what any parent who loves their kids would do. In fact they have made a huge sacrifice for their child in that they dedicated so much time and effort in to helping their daughter  and many other people who are experiencing similar circumstances.

For many of us, growing up in an intolerant home which was the  reality. For me it was a very bleak one. I felt that my overly religious mom would never understand. I grew up under the critics example of how to deal with transgender people. The deny me of myself doctrine. Needless to say it doesn’t work. I had such low self-esteem as a direct result. It was largely responsible for an alcoholic drug abuse faze I went through. I was just trying to hide the real me.

In an essay from young Avery’s dad, that was published in the New York Times in the Opinion pages of Transgender today. It was obvious this man is intelligent articulate,  and loves his children in a way that his critics could learn from.

Tom Jackson’s essay, Transgender Today NY Times

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“We took her to a pediatrician, a child psychologist and a gender therapist. She was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. We were told that allowing her to socially transition to live as a girl was the proper treatment.”

He went on to say the information they could find about gender dysphoria was sparse, but what they did find was disturbing.” Over 50% of transgender children attempt to commit suicide by late teenage years. A large number of them succeed. The main reason that these children state that they try to harm themselves is a lack of love and support of their family. My wife and I decided that we would much rather have a happy, daughter than a dead son”.

He reports that ” in the time since her transition, a spunky and confident little girl has emerged. She is proud of who she is and wants to help other kids.”

Averies mother has become a fears advocate for transgender people. In a speech at the unity temple in Kansas City in July of 2014, Debi gave a speech entitled “That’s good enough.” It was aired on the Kansas City Listen to your mother show.

Speech from Debie Jackson.

She shares the story of Avery’s transition, and challenges the ignorant comments she hears about her transgender child.

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1. Some say they are liberals pushing a gay agenda.

Answer: Nope she’s a Southern Baptist conservative from Alabama. She says with a chuckle in the background.

2. Some say she wanted a girl so they tried to turn their then son into one.

Answer: no they desperately wanted boys she says.” The idea of raising a girl in today’s world scared me to death. The idea of raising a good boy who knows how to treat girls well, than to be responsible for a girl who may only be interested in dating bad boys.

3. Kids have no idea what they want or who they are. My kid wants to be a dog should I let him?

Answer: It’s up to you but I wouldn’t. There’s a profound difference between wanting to be something in an imaginary play and declaring who you are insistently consistently and persistently. Those are the three markers that set transgender children apart, and my doctor says our daughter displayed all three of them.

4. Kids shouldn’t have to learn about sex at such a young age.

Answer: I agree good thing being transgender has nothing to do with sex.

Gender identity is how a person views themselves on the inside, and it is completely separate from who we are attracted to.

5. Transgender people are perverts and shouldn’t be in the bathroom with normal people.

Answer: I don’t know what you go in there for but it isn’t to look around. It’s to go in to a stall and pee where know one else can see her.

A tear began to swell as she read number Six!

6. God hates transgender people ! There a sinner and going to hell!

Answer: My God taught us to love all others, Jesus sought out people who others rejected. She quotes 1st Samuel 16:7 The Lord said to Samuel ,”do not consider his appearance or his hight for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. My daughter is a girl in her heart,she knows it, God knows it, and that’s good enough for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Making America great again” means oppression for transgender people.

 

Shannon Scott is an Air Force veteran who served for nearly 12 years in the us military. Throughout her career she received medals and honors for her dedication and service to our country. After 12 years  of service irregardless of the accomplishments and respect from her peers,  Shannon  realized on July 26th she could very easily find herself on the receiving end of a possible dishonorable discharge simply because of her gender identity.

The US military employes the largest population of transgender people in the world. The Williams Institute estimates there are well over 15,000 transgender troops serving openly in the Us military at this time. Shannon Scott was one of them.

Her story is an inspiration to all transgender people, friends, and family, especially for those who are active duty right now. She is the Founding President and Lead Equity consultant for  United Equity Consulting.com. A firm that provides work place training for the LBGT  community. She her staff are a beacon of hope for the LBGT community. Shannon also runs a web cast on YouTube supporting transgender people and human rights. She is an amazing example of excellence in our community.

She talks about growing up in a small town in Montana, knowing early on there was something very different about herself.

Daily living on the ranch demanded her to use a very masculine work ethic. Shannon’s  Catholic family supported that way of life, while secretly she wondered about her identity.

Over a span of ten years, Shannon sought out answers, speaking with multiple therapists. Trying to “fix herself”in the end they all came to the same conclusion, they couldn’t “fix her”. That being transgender was just who she was.

There were two major incidents she endured that brought her to a breaking point in her life, that helped her to realize that she needed to live in her own truth. The first being a heavy bout with depression that led her to put a gun to her head. Instead of pulling the trigger she listened to an inner voice that helped her to see that there was much more to do in her life. That inner voice helped prevent her from committing suicide that day.

The second incident took place on a plane  flying out of Iraq. She found herself staring at the human remains of her lost fellow service members. The plane was loaded “head to tail”..as she sat there in a daze she asked her self “why am I alive,?” why do I get to go home? She realized that up to that moment she had been living in fear. And she wasn’t going to do that any longer.

These are moments that many of us experience, many of us reach a point of change, it can be triggered by a traumatic event. I know this first hand.

We all want to live in a country that accepts us.  So that we can  support ourselves, be able to get an education, work in an occupation that can provide a career. The military is one pathway that can give the disciplinary skills and job training people need to grow in a career field, and like many others, enjoy the privilege to serve our country as an equal part of our society. This is vitally important to many transgender lives. Many transgender people are career military personnel. For others having military experience is an advantage when seen on a resume, when applying for a home loan, scores of other discounts, and college tuition privileges that show appreciation for military personnel that risk there  lives to serve this country. Including transgender.

Transgender people will struggle more to be accepted in a society that ultimately views  us as a problem to this country, rather than a part of the solution to the vast gender gap between men and women. This horribly wrong message  is reminiscent  of past years that practiced a doctrine of discrimination for us. As a country we are overcoming and outgrowing those negative stereotypes. We are  experiencing a gender revolution as Nat Geo put it so poignantly.

Donald Trump, and other politicians that don’t understand transgender people cause more harm than good to our country, especially when we consider the sheer number of transgender people and families in this country.

Oppression of transgender people by local law makers, or on a larger federal level, in this case Donald Trumps “ban on transgender people in the military”,could lead to a wave of discriminative business practices as well. If approved on a federal level. This outrageous oppressive attitude eventually leads to, pushing trans genders out of the work force as well, by inadvertently sending a message to all transgender people,our families,  and friends. This is a message that screams, we are a problem, or somehow a burden to our society, this type of oppression leaves transgender people feeling hopeless. Some turn to illegal sex trades, drug markets that are associated with prostitution, and other problematic life paths that end up costing the country uncounted millions funded by the taxpayer for social services, and ultimately for many transgender people, a life of oppression low self-esteem and even for some suicide. It seems in this case the job creation part of the campaign rhetoric is only for the non transgender people. If your a transgender person, and you feel there is very little support for you……

Think Again!

The overwhelming out pour of support for transgender people was incredible, and as a result transgender people are not only allowed to stay in the military , we are now able to receive medical treatment for gender dysphoria  in addition.

I could write about successful transgender people in the military only , and never run out of people to write about. That’s just the military. I decided to take a different direction for this piece. The Proud to be Trans Face Book page is soon publishing a report on the history of transgender people in the world. A vitally important report that covers a span of time dating all the way to the ancient Sumerians. The earliest writings known to the human race. In that report  there are numerous storys of transgender warriors, and the  government rulers. China’s Greatest explorer Cheng Ho was a eunuch. The eunuchs were a group of men who removed there testicles. In order to work as care takers for the emperor. The word eunuch comes from the Greek word for bed watcher. They were seen in the east as guardians of the royal harem.thes were indeed transgenders of the day, Every major empire trusted and used the eunuchs for centurys  in order to run their empires. Durring the Ming dynasty, it is said that up to 20,000  eunuchs were employed in the Forbidden City imperial eunuchs serviced the empire until 1924. These were servants to the government of the time. 

The point being that transgender individuals have worked in government for century’s and we’re a critical part of the governmental structure in the far East as well as Europe, Spain and around the world. Even in today’s military. We could learn to understand transgender people as a part of history, than we can understand transgender people today.

Pastor and family support their transgender child!

 

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APastor Christopher Bruesehoff, pictured with his daughter  Rebekah who began her transition from male to female as early as the age of two years old.

 

It’s who God created her to be !

Pastor and wife support their transgender child.

  By Rach Hardesty 

 

A Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and his wife Jamie recently told The Daily Mail that their son, Ben is now their daughter. Her name is Rebekah, and she has been in transition for eight years.

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“Rebekah has always been gender non-conforming. As young as two or three she gravitated to typically feminine things” Jamie explained. ” By the time she was seven all of this hit a crisis point-her anxiety was crippling and her depression was becoming life threatening.”

“We were faced with a seven-year old kid who wanted to die. One time she punched out the screen of her second story window and tried to jump out,” she said.

Following the advice of their family doctor and counselor the family decided to allow their son to transition into their daughter.

With the help of a gender specialist, Rebekah was able to peel back the layers, and that’s when her family were able to understand. They discovered that see wasn’t a boy who liked pink she was a girl, reads the Daily Mail report.

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This amazing story is one that really touched my heart. So many of us have, and do grow up in homes that are not accepting, and we do sometimes lose family relationships  as a result of Transphobia. I know of many families that have been torn apart due to a lack of understanding of transgender people, misconceptions, fear and religion, and/or moral dogma. My birth family was one of them, and religious dogma was at the core.

Jamie went on to explain in the interview, that Rebekah had always gravitated to feminine things. Identifying her as gender non-conforming.

“We were faced with a seven-year old kid, that wanted to die.” Punching out the screen of a second story window and trying to jump out, describes behavioral pathways that almost always lead to greater issues.

Dr.Kenneth Zucker long acknowledged as a foremost Authority on gender identity issues in children, has also been a life long advocate of gay and transgender rights believes that gender dysphoric pre-pubertal children are best served by helping them align their gender identity with their anatomic sex. This view ultimately cost him his 30 year director ship of the child youth and family gender identity clinic.( GIC) at the center for addiction and mental health in Toronto.

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His critics say that the growing trend to quickly diagnose and affirm young people as transgender, often sending them down a path of what they feel is unnecessary surgeries, and or hormonal treatments which have not been proven safe in the longterm represent significant risk of harm for young people.

According to Dr. Johanna Olsten- Kennedy  an adolescent  medicine specialist at children’s hospital Los Angeles a leader in pediatric gender transitioning.

She states that”it should be left up to the child what constitutes harm based upon their own thoughts and feelings.”

In the “overall view of gender development and gender non- conformity in children and adolescents,” Falcon and Olsen Kennedy dismiss the binary model of human sexuality as ” Ideology” and present an” alternative perspective” of “enate gender identity” that presents along a gender continuum. They recommend that pediatricians tell parents that a child’s “real gender is what he or she feels it is because af child’s brain and body might not be on the same page.”

In July the Bruesehoffs went to court and legally changed their daughter’s name from Ben to Rebekah. Jamie told the outlet that the next step is puberty blockers. As far as surgery Jamie says” that’s a decision for her to make down the road.

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Jamie, Rebekahs mom now runs a blog called I am totally that mom, helping others to understand transgender people through her family’s journey of being a Trans Parent raising a transgender child. “It’s who God created her to be.

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When family’s come together and reach out for help, especially for people who are transgender, amazing results can happen. Over coming life’s obstacles and fear of the unknown, can open doors to unique and rich life experiences. That often do make our relationships stronger and helps to build confidence.

Finding good resources for trans people can be tricky sometimes due to the overwhelming lack of data, inexperienced council, and miss information about rapidly changing laws and policies effecting transgender people.

The Bruesoffs family set a great example of parents who reached out to get the help they needed to navigate this gender nonconformet continuum, and love their child Rebekah.